|VOL. XXXII||NOVEMBER 1||No. 21|
|Was Judas a Hypocrite?||403|
|"Better for That Man if He Had Not Been Born"||404|
|Peter the Impulsive – Judas, the Disloyal||405|
|Why Judas' Case is Hopeless||406|
|"Ye Have Need of Patience"||408|
|Patience Necessary to Fruit-Bearing||409|
|A Great Reformer||410|
|The Way of Transgressors||410|
|The Value of Prayer||411|
|The Soul's Sincere Desire||411|
|Co-Laborers With God||412|
|"Stand Fast in the Faith"||413|
|Oh! To Be Willing! (Poem)||413|
|The Royal Diadem||413|
|The Church the Body of Christ||415|
|Gifts and Sacrifices for Sin||415|
|Shows How Merit of Ransom Is Applied||415|
'I will stand upon my watch, and set my foot upon the Tower, and will watch to see what He shall say unto me, and what answer I shall make to them that oppose me.' Hab. 2:1
Upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity: the sea and the waves (the restless, discontented) roaring: men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking forward to the things coming upon the earth (society): for the powers of the heavens (ecclestiasticism) shall be shaken. . . .When ye see these things come to pass, then know that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Look up, lift up your heads, rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh. – Luke 21:25-28, 32.
Our "Berean Lessons" are topical rehearsals or reviews of our Society's published "Studies," most entertainingly arranged, and very helpful to all who would merit the only honorary degree which the Society accords, viz., Verbi Dei Minister (V.D.M.), which translated into English is, Minister of the Divine Word. Our treatment of the International S.S. Lessons is specially for the older Bible Students and Teachers. By some this feature is considered indispensable.
This Journal stands firmly for the defence of the only true foundation of the Christian's hope now being so generally repudiated, – Redemption through the precious blood of "the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price, a substitute] for all." (I Pet. 1:19; I Tim. 2:6.) Building up on this sure foundation the gold, silver and precious stones (I Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11) of the Word of God, its further mission is to – "Make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery which...has been hid in God,...to the intent that now might be made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God" – "which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed." – Eph. 3:5-9,10.
It stands free from all parties, sects and creeds of men, while it seeks more and more to bring its every utterance into fullest subjection to the will of God in Christ, as expressed in the Holy Scriptures. It is thus free to declare boldly whatsoever the Lord hath spoken; – according to the divine wisdom granted unto us, to understand. Its attitude is not dogmatical, but confident; for we know whereof we affirm, treading with implicit faith upon the sure promises of God. It is held as a trust, to be used only in his service; hence our decisions relative to what may and what may not appear in its columns must be according to our judgment of his good pleasure, the teaching of his Word, for the upbuilding of his people in grace and knowledge. And we not only invite but urge our readers to prove all its utterances by the infallible Word to which reference is constantly made, to facilitate such testing.
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At the time he was chosen to be an Apostle he was evidently a good man, so far as outward appearance, at least, was concerned; and his name, which signifies "Praise," would seem to indicate that his parents had been of a religious cast of mind and had wished and, so to speak, had prophesied of him that he would be a messenger of God to sound forth His praise. And what a privilege and opportunity he enjoyed in this direction!
From the meager mentionings of the Gospel records we may reasonably infer that the beginning of his downfall was the harboring of a love of money. Instead of rebuking this wrong spirit and seeking, on the contrary, to cultivate generosity, love and benevolence, he permitted selfishness to have control, more or less, in his heart and life. We may surmise that he chose the office of treasurer for the little company, whereas, had he been sufficiently alive to his own weakness, his proper course would have been to refuse it, realizing that already he had too much love of money, and that the handling of the funds might prove a temptation to him. But on the contrary, he sought and obtained the office, and carried the bag with the money put therein; and the Apostle John tells us that he was a thief. (John 12:6.) This passion for money, like all other abnormal propensities of our fallen nature, grew stronger as it was encouraged and cultivated, until finally it knew no bounds and he was ready to sell his loving Master, Messiah, for thirty pieces of silver!
Probably Judas had made the same profession of consecration as did the other disciples: "Lo, we have left all to follow Thee; what, therefore, shall we have?" And, with the others, he had left all, and perhaps, in a certain way, was very sincere and recognized that this was the Messiah. But Judas had a business turn of mind. He wished to be associated with such a great Kingdom as the Messiah would set up. So there was a measure of selfishness connected with his consecration. Perhaps this is true with all of us. We are all sure that the Lord has a Kingdom and we hope to have a share in it. But this thought should be secondary. Our merit should be of a higher order than merely a desire for reward for service.
As treasurer of the disciples Judas looked out to get a good share for himself, to "feather his own nest." In the case of the ointment used for our Lord by Mary, he said, That ointment is worth a great deal of money, and it should have been put into the treasury instead of being poured on Jesus' head. "This he said because he was a thief and carried the bag."
So it seems that this spirit of avarice grew upon him. As matters progressed he began to see that things were not reaching the culmination for which he had hoped and looked. Probably he was one of those who said, at least in his heart, "If Thou do these things, do them publicly, so that others may see." This would seem to have been the spirit of Judas and of many others. They wanted Jesus to do the things that would establish Him with the people. We can imagine their saying, "Ask some thousands to come and see the raising of some one from the dead, and have a good demonstration," etc. But nothing of this kind was done. Each miracle was performed by our Lord in a quiet way.
Probably Judas began to think that Jesus could not manage affairs nearly so well as if He would allow Judas to "coach" Him a little. As time passed, he began to keep some of the money. Perhaps he thought, "Now things are not coming out very well. I will keep some of this money for the disciples and Jesus for a rainy day." But he was really thinking about Judas.
By following a similar course of reasoning many people persuade themselves that they are trying to help others, when really they are looking out for their own interests. Hence there is a necessity for judging ourselves. The new creature should get the old creature into a corner and cross-question him: "Why do you act thus and so? Are you sure that you did not have some selfish motive in this matter?" If Judas had thus examined himself it would have been better for him. But not having done so, he drifted farther and farther away from a right spirit. Finally he went to the chief priests and said, "What would you give me if I were to give Jesus over?" They said, So much. Then he turned the matter over in his mind for several hours. So when he was in the "upper chamber" his mind was abstracted, and he sat quietly watching what the others were doing. [R4906 : page 404]
When our Lord washed the feet of His Apostles, before partaking of the Passover Supper, He intimated that as they had bathed (in accordance with the Jewish requirement of the putting away of all filth at the beginning of the Passover season) they merely needed now the rinsing of their feet, the cleansing of the members that had come in contact with the earth. "He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet to be clean every whit." (R.V.) Our Lord added, referring to Judas, "Ye are clean, but not all." This expression shows us very clearly that He had in mind a higher cleansing, of which this washing of their feet and their previous bath were but the figures.
The Lord knew that the hearts of His disciples were loyal. He had accepted them as His disciples and had reckonedly imputed to them the merit of His sacrifice as a covering of their blemishes, the full testimony of which would be given them by and by at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit testifying that the Father had accepted the Lord's atoning sacrifice on their behalf. There was one, however, of the number whose heart was not clean. Our Lord did not pass him by, but washed the feet of Judas with the rest, knowing the while of his perfidy, and that he had already bargained with the chief priests and was merely awaiting the opportune moment for the carrying out of his malevolent scheme.
Our Lord's words, although not understood by the rest, must have been appreciated by Judas, as were His subsequent words. Our Lord went so far as to quote the very prophecy which marked Judas and his disloyalty, his violation of even the common hospitality. (Psa. 41:9.) None of these things moved Judas; none of these things appealed to his heart in such a manner as to change his course. We have thus strong evidence of the wilful intention which marked his crime and makes clear the meaning of our Lord's words when He called him the "son of perdition," and declared that it would have been better for him if he had never been born.
While they were at supper Jesus, appearing very sorrowful, gave as an explanation that it would be one of His own chosen twelve that would betray Him and thus become accessory to His death – one of those who dipped with Him in the dish, partaking of the same supper, the same bread, the same roasted lamb. Then He pointed out that although this was all written (Psa. 41:9), and thus no alteration would be made in respect to the Divine Plan, nevertheless it signified a very gross breach of friendship – one sad to contemplate. It really made no difference to the Lord, so far as His intention and His consecration were concerned, whether He were apprehended by the rulers without any betrayal, or whether betrayed by a comparative stranger or by a disciple. The fact would make no change in the Divine arrangement; but it was a cause of great sorrow to the Lord that the traitor should be one who had been a bosom friend and disciple. [R4907 : page 404]
Amongst the Jews and Arabs deceit and betrayal were not uncommon; but there was a code of honor recognized according to which no one would eat the food of the person whom he sought in any wise to injure. As food was seasoned with salt, it was probably this custom, of being faithful to those with whom one ate, that was known as the "covenant of salt" – the covenant of faithfulness. To succeed in having an enemy eat at one's table or partake of one's food seasoned with salt was amongst that people equivalent to a pledge of lasting friendship – that he would never do his host injury. Apparently Judas was so lacking of a proper spirit that he did not even acknowledge and obey the custom of his time – to be loyal and faithful to the one whose bread he ate, of whose salt he partook; hence our Lord's words, "He that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me."
When Jesus passed the sop to Judas, he perhaps understood in some measure our Lord's meaning; but the other disciples did not understand. They thought that Jesus was telling Judas to get in his proper provisions before the stores would be closed. But Judas may have thought thus: "Jesus has intimated that I will betray Him. I had not intended to do this, but now I will show Him. I know, of course, that He can get away from those officers; but I am treasurer of this company, and I will show Him something. While I do not believe they could ever take Him, yet the experience will be a good lesson. He will see henceforth that it will be better for Him to go ahead. This thing has been dallying too long. It needs a business push behind it. So here goes!" Thus Judas reasoned, and he carried out his part. No doubt Judas expected that Jesus would escape. Not for a moment did he expect that Jesus would suffer; for when he found that his plan had carried out and that Jesus would be crucified, he went and hanged himself, and then fell headlong, at the breaking of the rope.
Jesus testified that His death would not be a victory on the part of His betrayer and His enemies, but in harmony with what had been written of Him by the Prophets. Nor are we to consider that Judas was simply fulfilling a prophecy irrespective of His own responsibility, his own wilfulness in the matter. Such a thought is negatived by our Lord's statement, "Woe unto the man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."
This statement implies to us that, from the Lord's standpoint, Judas had already experienced so large a measure of knowledge and opportunity for better things that his responsibility for his act was complete, and that there would be no hope for him at any time in the future. These words leave no question, we think, that Judas had already enjoyed his full share of the great atonement work through the intimate association with our Lord and the abundant opportunities he had of coming into a clear knowledge of the truth, and the corresponding responsibilities. From our standpoint Judas sinned against great light. Evidently his was the "sin unto death" – the "Second Death." Hence, aside from any future existence, we are to consider that his life was a useless, wasted one, and that its joys did not overbalance its sorrows and anguish when to the latter were added his despair and suicide. Judas' end was a sad one. Every suicide, by his act, confesses his wish that he had never been born.
While Judas lived prior to Pentecost, we are to remember that he was one of the twelve upon whom Jesus had specially conferred a measure of His spirit – such a measure as enabled him, with the others, to perform miracles of healing, casting out devils, etc., in the name of the Lord, as His representative, using His power. The position of Judas, therefore, was one of special closeness to the Lord and to His personal instruction, both by precept and example. We remember our Lord's words to His disciples, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom; but to them that are without these things are spoken in parables."
All this privilege, opportunity, knowledge, contact, made Judas specially responsible. But his crime would [R4907 : page 405] have been inexcusable had it been against any ordinary person, and it was seriously intensified by being a crime against Him who spake and acted as never man spake or acted before. From this standpoint our Lord's declaration that Judas was the "son of perdition" seems to have special import or weight, as implying that Judas had enjoyed a sufficiency of light and knowledge of righteousness to constitute a trial, and that his deliberate sin against such light and knowledge meant the Second Death.
But while hating such a character, loathing it, despising it, and seeking to go as far as possible in an opposite direction in our own characters, we are not to overlook the fact that there are amongst the Lord's professed disciples some who, in a less degree, commit a crime very similar to that of Judas; they sell their Lord, they betray Him, while professing to love Him! True, this cannot today be done in the same literal and personal manner, but the spirit of it may be seen occasionally, we regret to say; we find some who really believe in Jesus, some who have consecrated their lives to be His followers; some who have been engaged in the ministry of His Truth, as Judas was there, but who are willing to sell the Lord for a mess of pottage – for good things of this present life – for a salary, for social position, for honor amongst men, for popularity and titles; who are willing to sell even their lips, as Judas did; so that while professing to honor and serve the Lord they are willing to join with those who misrepresent His character, His Plan, His Word – willing to join with those who seek to assassinate the Lord.
Ah, how well it is that each one ask himself the question raised upon the night of the Supper, "Lord, is it I?" And let none be too ready to excuse himself; but let each search earnestly his own heart and life and conduct to see that He is not in any way sacrificing the Truth and the Life for any consideration whatever.
More than thirty years ago we were inclined to think that all must come to a full knowledge of all truth ere they could be liable to the Second Death; but we have come to the conclusion from the general tenor of the Scriptures that this is not the Lord's view and plan. On the contrary, deliberate and intelligent rejection of the first principles of the Gospel seems to imply an unfitness for further favors, on the ground that he that is unfaithful in that which is least would be unfaithful also in more.
Adam's knowledge of the Divine Plan was very slight; yet his disobedience brought the death penalty. The real grounds for sympathy and hope for the masses is the Apostle's statement that Satan has blinded their minds, misinterpreted the facts. (2 Cor. 4:4.) All such will by and by "see out of obscurity" when Satan shall be bound – during the Millennium.
We confess little hope for the Scribes and Pharisees who, when they could find no other fault, ascribed our Lord's good works to the Devil. As for Judas' tears – they were no better than those of Esau. (Heb. 12:17.) His remorse led him, not to a renewed or reformed life, but to self-destruction. – Heb. 6:6.
While Judas betrayed our Lord, another disciple, an intimate friend and companion, denied Him. Peter's case we remember well. A good man, of strong character, he realized not his danger, and hence was not prepared for the arts of Satan, by which he was placed in so trying a position that his boasted courage fled, his wonted strength of character vanished, and he denied his Lord even with profanity! What a lesson to us of human frailty! How we ourselves might be overtaken and ensnared by the wiles of the Devil! How much each one needs to watch and pray lest he enter into temptation – lest he succumb to temptation! How much we need to remember the prayer the Lord gave us for an example: "Abandon us not in temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One!"
That was a fateful time for Judas! If the Adversary could so juggle, deceive and mislead the true-hearted Peter, because he was off his guard in watching and praying, what might we not expect he would be able to accomplish with Judas, whose heart was not right, who was selfish, self-seeking, ambitious, covetous! We do not wonder that Satan's victory over Judas was soon accomplished – that he fell quickly into the snare of the Adversary, and lent his heart and energy to the betrayal of the Master, for thirty pieces of silver! His case was very different from that of Peter, the loyal, the true, for the moment bewildered, off guard and fearful. Although the danger was the same in either case, their hearts were in different conditions.
Is it not so with all the Lord's followers? Is not this the secret of the results of temptation as they surely come to each one of us? The Judas class of today and always are those who, when temptation comes, receive it, entertain it, enter into the spirit of the ambition or otherwise strong allurement, and are swallowed up by it. The Peter class has also been with us ever since; and today even the true-hearted, not sufficiently watching and praying and on guard against the Adversary's allurements, are at times taken unawares, and for a moment dishonor, not only the Lord, but their own hearts and consciences also.
The difference between these two classes is in the heart condition; the Peter class do those things which they do not wish to do, and their difficulty lies evidently in the weaknesses of their flesh, in the power of the Adversary, [R4908 : page 405] and in their failure to lay hold upon the help which the Lord has promised, the succor in their time of need.
The Judas class, on the contrary, are those whose hearts are not loyal, but selfish, and who, therefore, enter into the Adversary's schemes heartily, and are not, in their wrong course, going contrary to their own wills, but in harmony therewith. The difference in God's sight is seen in that, although both Peter and Judas were penitent, the one was accepted back to Divine favor, but the other was not. The one who was merely entrapped, but who at heart was not disloyal, was restored and blessed; the other, though not without conscience, as shown by his later remorse, was without the genuine loyalty of heart which in the Lord's sight is indispensable, and the absence of which, considering Judas' intimate acquaintance with the Lord, was inexcusable.
The Lord's words to Peter, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat; but I HAVE PRAYED FOR THEE, THAT THY FAITH FAIL NOT" (Luke 22:31,32), give us the assurance that, because of this difference in the hearts of the two men, our Lord could properly be the Advocate of the one before the Father, but not the Advocate of the other. He could stand for and represent the one who at heart was loyal to Him, however weak his flesh, however careless he might have been of the Divine provision for his protection. He was still one of the Lord's sheep, and therefore subject to the Shepherd's care. He was still of the Lord's members, subject to the oversight and interest of the Head. He was still a member of the Lord's espoused virgin Church, whom our Lord loved and for whom He gave His life and for whom, therefore, He might properly make supplication as the betrothed Bridegroom.
But in the case of Judas, his heart being alienated through selfishness, any appreciation and love which he [R4908 : page 406] possessed for the Lord at the beginning of His ministry had evidently died, swallowed up of selfishness and ambition; and into that heart, thus fully withdrawn from the Lord, we are told that Satan entered. By thus willingly withdrawing his heart and strength and consecration from the Lord, and lending the same by deliberate intention to self-seeking, he became a tool of the Adversary. As our Master said, "It must needs be that offenses come (that He should be crucified), but woe unto that man by whom the offense cometh!"
Although we know in advance that none of the Lord's disciples, true at heart, will be plucked out of His hands by the Adversary, nevertheless we fancy that we can sympathize to some extent with our Lord's feelings when He exhorted the disciples, "Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation."
True, Jesus knew who it was that should betray Him, and was, therefore, neither surprised nor disconcerted because of Judas' course; and yet, undoubtedly, the thought that one who had eaten bread with Him should "lift up his heel against Him" (John 13:18) must have had a saddening effect upon our dear Master, who could assuredly have pity for even His bitterest enemies as well as those who, Peter like, fail at first to withstand the Adversary's assault, but who subsequently are recovered by Divine mercy and aid.
Since the Body of Christ is one, and since our Lord declares that whatsoever is done to one of the least of His members is done unto Him, it follows that the Judas class and the Peter class, all down through the Gospel Age to the present moment, have been betraying or denying the Lord in proportion as they have betrayed or denied His members. We, therefore, should note the significance of His statement to Peter, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not!"
For all of the Peter class the Lord is the Head, the Representative, the Advocate before the Father. Without His aid, without His appearance for us and the application to us of the merit of His own sacrifice, none of us could stand; all would be judged unworthy, unfit to have part or lot in the great blessings which the Lord has invited us to share with Jesus. And as the Master prayed for such, and now intercedes for such, and makes good their unwilling imperfections, so should all who have His spirit feel kindly, generously, sympathetically, and speak helpfully to the Peter class. But as the Master had no such words of sympathy for Judas, the open and premeditated enemy and traitor, so likewise, whatever our sorrowful feelings for such may be, there is no room for any expression of sympathy or co-operation in their evil work, as for any of the Apostles to have co-operated with Judas would have meant a share in his evil deeds.
However much sympathy we may feel with Peter and others of similar character and experience, however much we may rejoice with him that the Lord prayed for him so that his carelessness in watching and praying for himself did not result in his undoing and his loss of relationship to the Lord – nevertheless, we should strive not to be of the Peter class, but of the class represented by the Lord Himself. Let us be of the watching, praying, faithful kind, who will not be overtaken by the Adversary's temptations of the present time.
We are in the Harvest of the Gospel Age; the separation of the wheat from the tares is due; and, more than this, the separation of the chaff from the wheat is also due – a sifting process. While this figure may to some extent have fit the experiences of the Church in the past, we are sure that it specially applies to the Church in the "ends of the Ages" – to those who were living in the end, or harvest, of the Jewish Age, and to those who are now living in the end, or harvest, of the Gospel Age. And our Lord is pleased to permit these siftings; they are necessary, apparently, that the Judas class may be entirely sifted out, and that the Peter class may be so thoroughly stirred up by the trials and difficulties and realization of their own weaknesses, and the knowledge that they would utterly fail without the Lord's sustaining grace, that these lessons may prove profitable to them, developing in them more of meekness, watchfulness, prayerfulness and trust in their All-Powerful Head.
Heretofore we have pointed out that during this present Age (the Gospel Age, or Spirit Dispensation), the world of mankind is not liable to the Second Death: (1) Because this Age is for the Church's trial and not for the world's judgment, or trial; (2) Because now the world has not that degree of enlightenment which would involve the full, extreme penalty of God's Law, the Second Death; (3) Because the inspired Apostle declares that now Satan is exercising a blinding, deceiving influence upon all except true believers (2 Cor. 4:4; Rev. 20:3), and that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." – I Cor. 2:14.
These conclusions from the Scriptures in general are so abundantly confirmed by the statements of Heb. 6:4-8 and 10:26-31, in which the Apostle warns the Church that wilful sin, or apostasy, on the part of those who have enjoyed the privilege of consecrated believers – those who have tasted of the good Word of God, and the powers of the Age to come, and who have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit – as to leave hopeless the case of such. It will be found impossible to renew such, for there remaineth no longer any part for them in the sacrifice for sin. They have had and have misused their share in the great "ransom for all."
We have called attention to the fact that the world in general, even in civilized lands, has had no opportunity to sin after the example of wilful apostasy, described by the Apostle. And it is well to note that this sin unto death on the part of believers is not at all the same as the missteps and stumblings which may occur in the path of any through weakness of the flesh (Gal. 2:11-14), and which are among the sins which may be repented of, reformed from, and forgiven. – I John 2:1; 5:16.
In view of the above, and of our further claim that the Spirit Dispensation began at Pentecost, after our Lord was glorified (John 7:39), some have wondered that we teach that Judas' case is a hopeless one, since his sin and death were before Pentecost. We are asked to explain this seeming inconsistency.
We answer, the period of the Lord's presence at the first advent – from His baptism to His ascension – differed from the period after Pentecost, throughout this Age, in which believers walk wholly by faith and not by sight, even as the Millennial Age will differ from the Gospel Age.
In the Millennium knowledge and responsibility will no longer be confined to the spirit-begotten, for it is written, "The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea [knowledge ocean-deep]"; "All shall know Me [Jehovah] from the least unto the greatest." – Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34.
It will no longer be the rule that the consecrated must "walk by faith and not by sight," for the consecrated of that time, while no doubt still having room for the exercise [R4908 : page 407] of faith, will, to a very considerable degree, walk by sight. It will no longer be true that Satan, the god of this world, will blind and deceive all except believers, for Satan will be bound and can deceive the world no longer; and "this world" [Age] shall then have given place to "the world [Age] to come," "wherein dwelleth righteousness"; and "all the blind eyes shall be opened." – Heb. 2:5; 2 Pet. 3:13; Isa. 35:5.
When knowledge is thus general, the possibility of sinning wilfully against great light will be general. Whosoever will may then accept the Divine favor and use the Divine aids, and attain to perfection and life everlasting; and whosoever will may intelligently reject God's favor in [R4909 : page 407] Christ, and die the Second Death – the everlasting death, the hopeless death.
Now let us return to the case of Judas, and consider the conditions which obtained at the time of his trial and failure, in the period of the Lord's presence in the Jewish harvest. The circumstances of that time differed from those of the present Age and also those of the Millennial Age in the conditions, and hence the responsibilities differed also. Our Lord was present and performed marvelous works, illustrative of "the powers of the world [Age] to come." The truth was presented to the people in such a manner that the Lord declared that its rejection would bring "stripes" and "woes" upon those who, after hearing, loved darkness rather than light. He declared that some of those, because of their rejection of the Truth, would be counted worthy of "many stripes"; and that it would be, therefore, more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for those. Our Lord's declaration was, "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did they had not had sin." – John 15:22,24.
And if the people had such responsibility because of what they heard and saw, how much greater was the responsibility of the twelve chosen Apostles! They had professed much, saying, "We have left all to follow Thee." They were always with Him; and not only beheld many of His mighty works, of which the multitudes in various places saw but few, but more; He communicated to them, severally, a measure of His spirit and power, and sent them out to proclaim Him and His Kingdom and to work miracles – to heal the sick and cast out devils in His name.
The Apostles received also a special insight into the Divine Plan, an enlightenment not granted to the people, the equivalent to much that is now granted to the spirit-begotten ones of this Age. The Lord addressed the multitudes in parables and dark sayings, but these He interpreted to the Apostles, saying, "Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God; but to them that are without [outside of the twelve and other special disciples], all these things are done in parables." Again He said to them, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear; for verily I say unto you that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." – Matt. 13:11-17; Mark 4:11.
If, then, the people, who saw a few of our Lord's mighty works and heard a few of His words of life, under parabolic cover, were declared "worthy of stripes" for not receiving the light, what shall we say of the responsibility of the twelve who not only saw much more, but by His power in them performed His miracles; who not only heard the parabolic words of life, but who had them expounded to them by the great Teacher? (Matt. 13:36-43; Mark 4:10-20.) And what punishment less than death – hopeless extinction – shall we suppose was merited by one of these who, after all this, according to his own confession, "betrayed innocent blood"?
We judge that if Pilate and Herod and the Roman soldiers had some responsibility for Christ's death, the multitude who clamored, "Crucify Him! His blood be upon us and on our children!" had much more responsibility; that the better educated, envious Pharisees and Priests who incited the illiterate, common people, had yet a greater responsibility (Matt. 23:15-33), and that Judas, His betrayer, was the chief, the real crucifier, because of his knowledge and wilfulness.
Upon him alone, of all who had to do with His death, our Lord placed the full responsibility, the full guilt, when He said: "The Son of Man goeth [to death] as it is written of Him [prophetically], but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It had been good for that man if he had not been born!" (Matt. 26:24.) Should Judas be granted eternal life, under any circumstances or after any experience, his birth could not be considered a disadvantage to himself. See also Psa. 109:6-8; John 6:70,71; 17:12.
So, likewise, those who (with good knowledge of God's grace in Christ) sin wilfully and count the precious blood of the Covenant wherewith they were sanctified [set apart], a common thing, "crucify Christ afresh and put Him to an open shame." And, like Judas, they often accompany this denial of His ransom-sacrifice with the words, "Hail, Master!" and a deceitful kiss. All such should be an abhorrence to every one who possesses to any degree the true, noble, Christ-like spirit.
Some of the dear friends feel very loath to "give poor Judas up," and some seem to feel that their sympathy for him is an evidence that they have "more love than others." Those who come to Christ are not selected because they are the least blemished amongst men; they are oftener the more blemished; the less blemished often feel a self-complacency and satisfaction which hinders them from coming to God as repentant sinners and from realizing that they can be justified only through the imputed merit of Christ. But those who come to Christ and hear Him, soon learn how imperfect are their depraved conceptions, and they seek and obtain His mind, that it may be theirs thenceforth, as instead of their own judgments. "We have the mind of Christ," says the Apostle. It is our "new mind"; we are "transformed by the renewing of our minds," so as to be able to "prove [know] what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God." – Rom. 12:2.
Those whose hearts go out so strongly to Judas seem to indicate by their questions that, however much they have submitted their judgment to God's will on some questions, they have not submitted them on this point. The reason seems to be that they deceive themselves into thinking that their sympathy with Judas is the true love which the Scriptures everywhere enjoin as the essence of Christian character. But they are deceiving themselves. To love an evil thing is on a par with hating a good thing. Both are wrong; both are sinful; both are evidence that the depraved mind is not renewed, remodeled, transformed into the mind of Christ.
The mind of the Lord, inculcated by His Word, teaches that we are to love the beautiful, pure, true, noble; we are to love (in the sense of sympathizing with) the weak, the penitent and oppressed, who are seeking for the paths of righteousness and truth; but we are to "hate iniquity" and "every false way," and all the meanness and sin which is wilful, against light and of the Devil. [R4909 : page 408]
Cease to pride yourself upon love for one of the most detestable characters known to the pages of history, of whom our Lord, who so loved (sympathized with) the world that He laid down His life for it, said, "It had been better for that man if he had never been born." Adopt God's standpoint. As the Apostles say, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked;" "He that doeth righteousness is righteous [and approved of God], but he that practices sin [knowingly, wilfully] is of the Devil." – Gal. 6:7; I John 3:6,7.
For our part, we have no thought of ever becoming more loving than the Lord; we accept His definitions and seek to be conformed mentally to His standard – the image of God's dear Son. We want to love just as He loves and just what He loves, and we want to hate what He hates. Of Him it is written, "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore, God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." (Heb. 1:9; Psa. 45:7.) "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee?...I hate them with a perfect hatred." – Psa. 139:21,22.
We are glad that neither Satan nor Judas nor any other creature will ever be tormented to all eternity. We are glad that a full, fair opportunity for coming to a knowledge of the Lord and of the way of righteousness will be granted to every member of Adam's race; and we are glad that, on the contrary, all who rejoice not in the Truth, but rejoice in iniquity, will be utterly and everlastingly destroyed in the Second Death. We abominate Satan, who, for over six thousand years, has wrought unrighteousness and gloated over the evil and pain and sorrow which he has wrought, and who with clear knowledge of the redemptive work has for eighteen centuries opposed the Kingdom and the great salvation. The person who could believe in Satan's conversion after all this battling against the Light and the Truth has a perverse mind, very sadly blinded by the "god of this world" – a mind thoroughly out of harmony with the Word.
"Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." – Jas. 1:4.
This word has a much deeper and fuller significance than attaches to our English word patience. It signifies, rather, constancy, the thought being an endurance of evil in [R4910 : page 408] a cheerful, hopeful, willing, patient manner. It represents, therefore, an element of character, and not merely a temporary condition or restraint of feeling or action. It signifies that development of heart and character which manifests itself in an endurance of wrong or affliction with contentment, without rebellion of will, with full acquiescence in the Divine Wisdom and Love, which, while permitting present evils, has promised to overthrow them in God's due time.
This grace of patience smooths the way for every other Christian grace, because all must be acquired under the process of patient and continuous self-discipline. Not a step of progress can be gained without this grace of patience; and not one of the graces more beautifully adorns the Christian character, or wins the approval of the world's conscience, or glorifies the God of all grace whose Truth inspires it. It is enduring meekness, striving to stem the tide of human weakness, and endeavoring with painstaking care to attain to the Divine likeness. It is slow to wrath and plenteous in mercy; it is quick to perceive the paths of righteousness, and prompt to walk in them; it is mindful of its own imperfections and sympathetic with the imperfections and shortcomings of others.
The importance of endurance in the Christian's character is fully borne out by the Apostle Paul's use of the word; for on more than one occasion he places patience above and beyond love, which we have seen is the "mark" of character for which we are to run – the "mark for the prize." For instance, in writing to Titus (2:2), enumerating the characteristics of the advanced Christian, the Apostle uses the following order: "Vigilant, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity [love], in patience." Though we have all the other qualities, this final test of patient, cheerful endurance must be passed before we can be accepted of the Lord as members of the very elect.
Again, in writing to Timothy (2 Tim. 3:10) respecting himself, the Apostle puts this quality of patient endurance in the place beyond love, saying, "Thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, patient endurance."
One might ask, if "Love is the fulfilling of the Law" and "the mark for the prize of our high calling," how can patience rank higher than Love? The answer is that patient endurance does not come in merely at the close of our race, but it is a requisite all the way along the race-course. We need this cheerful endurance of the earliest trials in the Christian way; and as we speed along in our race for the "mark," the spirit of cheerful endurance should be growing stronger and stronger at every step of the journey. Some might be faithful for a few days or a few months or a few years, yet be unworthy of the great Kingdom blessing of Christ.
In the Parable of the Sower, our Lord gave an illustration of this fact, saying that some seed fell on stony ground and sprang up; it grew; but finally, when the burning heat of persecution came, the tender plants withered away. In choosing the members of the Kingdom class the Lord is looking for a depth of soil, a depth of character, a depth of heart that will be patient to endure. Those who lack this one quality will not be fit for the Kingdom. Patience is necessary as an element of character on any plane of being; but with the Christian it is specially important to have it developed from the beginning of the race. We need it with us at the first quarter mark, and at the second quarter mark, and at the third quarter mark, and still with us at the fourth quarter mark, the mark for the prize – perfect Love.
And when we have reached this mark of the race where we love, not only our friends, but our enemies, it is required of us that we stand up to the mark faithfully, cheerfully, patiently enduring the tests which the Lord will even then see fit to have come upon us. God subjects [R4910 : page 409] His people to testing, long testing, sometimes for months and years. As it is said, "The Lord your God proveth you." – Deut. 13:3.
Hence it is that the Apostle Paul exhorts us, "Having done all, stand" – endure. Having reached the "mark," "Let patient endurance have her perfect work," or "perfect her work." Let patient endurance demonstrate, not only that you have the character, the qualifications of Love, demanded in the race for the prize, but also that you have love as an element of character, deep-rooted, immutable, so that you can endure opposition cheerfully.
St. Paul tells us that we have need of this patient endurance that, after having done the will of God [after having brought our own will into complete subjection to the Divine will], we might receive the promise. (Heb. 10:36.) The thought in the Apostle's mind seems to be that there is a certain work for us all to do in ourselves – "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Phil. 2:12,13.) It is God who is working in us to will and to do – to co-operate in this work. Let us make sure that rebellion of any kind in our heart be thoroughly killed, mortified; and that we bring the will into perfect submission to the Divine will, so that we may have no other will than His. Even then, after we have overcome to this extent, we have need of patience. The Lord will not accept us merely because we are consecrated. He requires that the consecration shall be proven. To begin with, He accepts the consecration; then He tests us to demonstrate to what extent we really love Him.
Patient endurance is also mentioned in the Scriptures as being the Lord's Word, or teaching. Our Lord says, "Because thou hast kept the Word of My patience I will also keep thee." (Rev. 3:10.) Twice in the Gospels also we note that our Lord brought to the notice of the disciples the importance of the quality of patient endurance. Once was in the Parable of the Sower above referred to. (Luke 8:11-15.) He said, "That [sown] on the good ground are they which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience [with cheerful endurance, constancy]." The thought here is that in order to be of the fruit-bearing class, which the Lord will approve and accept in His Kingdom, it is necessary to do more than receive the Word of His Testimony, even though we receive it with joy; for that class in the parable is represented by the stony ground, which at first gave evidence of great fruitfulness and vigor, but withered under the sun of persecution, because of lack of depth of soil. That stony, shallow ground represents, the Lord explained, a class of hearers who rejoice greatly in the Truth, but do not endure; they are such as cannot withstand persecution or opposition, but wither under it, become discouraged. Such cannot be of the Kingdom class, all of whom must be overcomers.
In this parable our Lord shows us that patient endurance, constancy, is the final test, following after the readiness of preparation to receive the seed; following after the seed has been received and has sprouted; following after love and hope and joy and faith have caused it to spring forth and to give promise of fruitage. Patient endurance, then, is necessary in order that the grain may be developed and thoroughly ripened and made fit for the garner. How important patient endurance, cheerful endurance, seems to be, in the light of the Lord's Word! for we cannot suppose that He who judges the thoughts and intents of the heart would be pleased with His children, even if He saw them enduring much for His sake, if they endured in an impatient or unhappy frame of mind. They would not in that event be copies of God's dear Son, whose sentiment is expressed in the words, "I delight to do Thy will, O God!"
Our Lord at another time was telling His disciples that as the result of being His followers they must expect opposition, trials, tribulations. Perhaps it may assist some to realize the strength of the meaning of the word tribulation when they know its origin. It is derived from the Latin word "tribulum," the name of a roller, or threshing-machine used in olden times for cleaning wheat, removing from it the outer husk, or chaff. How appropriate the term when applied to the Lord's consecrated people, who in the Scriptures are symbolized by wheat! Our new natures are the kernel, the real grain; yet this treasure, or valuable part, is covered with the husk of earthly conditions. In order that the wheat may be made properly ready for the "garner" and for usefulness, it is necessary that each grain shall pass through the tribulation necessary to remove those qualities which, until separated, render us unfit for the future service to which we are called of the Lord.
In proportion as we are able to realize our own imperfections, and the perfect will of God concerning us, we shall be enabled to bear patiently, and even with a certain kind of rejoicing, all the tribulations which the Master may see best to let come upon us. Our Lord explained to His disciples that so long as they lived in this present Age, when sin abounds, and when Satan is the prince of this world, they must expect tribulation from various quarters; but He assured them that they would, nevertheless, be fully and completely under Divine care and protection, even though the persecutions would be permitted to reach and to affect them. Then follow the words, "In your patience [patient endurance, cheerful, hopeful constancy] possess ye your souls." – Luke 21:19.
One object of the test of patient endurance is that we may be "strong in the Lord," that we may have the character-likeness of the Lord Jesus – not merely the firmness, but also the gentleness. All this must be developed before we can receive the things promised, the things which God has in reservation for those that love Him. (I Cor. 2:9,10.) These things are spiritual and might [R4911 : page 409] be apprehended by our minds, but could not be comprehended. The promise that we are to be like our Lord includes not only the spiritual and heavenly conditions, to which we shall attain in the First Resurrection, but also the blessing of sharing in the uplifting of the world. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:29.) But to "be Christ's" means, not only that we shall accept Him, join Him and His standards, but also that we shall be good soldiers. Those who would not be good soldiers would not be worthy of being members of the Body of Christ, for such could not be conquerors and "more than conquerors" through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Rom. 8:37.
We already have the "promise," but it has not yet been received in the sense of being fulfilled. The promise is a conditional one. "He that doeth these things shall live by them." (Lev. 18:5; Rom. 10:5.) So in our Lord's arrangement, the condition of the promise is that we shall abide in His love, His favor. Whoever accepts of Christ's death and trusts in Him and seeks to follow the Divine commandments, walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, will receive the promise, for the promise is made to "overcomers." All the promises of the Gospel Age are made to the "overcomers." Such shall sit upon the [R4911 : page 410] Throne. Such shall become the Bride of Christ. Such shall be joint-heirs with the Redeemer and participate in all His great work as the great Messiah, to bless Israel and through Israel the world of mankind.
By faith the Church now begins to enjoy this conditional promise, which depends upon their faithfulness to the end – their patient endurance. Such loyal ones have the earnest of the promise and shall be joint-heirs in the Kingdom. All others will be cut off from that membership. "Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth [cleanseth, pruneth] it, that it may bring forth more fruit." (John 15:2.) We are on trial; and the trial is to prove our loyalty. If this trial time, or probation, is satisfactory, the membership is made permanent. Those who fail to live up to the conditions, are not counted worthy to be members of the Body of Christ and joint-heirs in the Kingdom.
Who can consider the importance of becoming copies of our blessed Lord and Head without feeling that to attain to this character-likeness will be a life-work! It cannot be accomplished in a day or in a year; but the whole life must be devoted to it; and day by day, if we are faithful, we should realize a measure of growth in grace and of development in Christian character. It is not enough that we know the Truth, or that we be content to hold it in unrighteousness. We must see to it that the Truth is having its legitimate and designed effect upon the character. And if the Truth is thus received into good and honest hearts, we shall have the assurance of the Apostle Peter that "We shall never fall," but that in due time we shall be received into the Kingdom.
Hence we see the necessity of ever keeping the instructions and precepts of the Lord fresh in our minds, and of drinking deep into their inspiring spirit, although we are already established in the faith. To be established in the faith is one thing; to be established in Christian character and in all the graces of the Spirit is quite another.
Beloved, "Let us run with patience [cheerful constancy, patient endurance] the race set before us" in the Gospel. (Heb. 12:1.) As already observed, the race must be run with this constancy if we would reach the "mark;" and after reaching the mark we can maintain our position only by the grace of constancy, patient endurance, that having done all, we may STAND!
The Jews evidently were prosperous in Babylon, and their exile for a time at least led them to earnest study of the Law and the Prophets. In fact, Judah, probably under Ezra as one of its chief representatives, seems to have prospered more in Babylon than in Jerusalem – not as a whole, but a certain pious few. These were vexed as they from time to time heard of the poverty of their brethren in Jerusalem, and that matters religious were not prosperous there, and that the rebuilding of the temple which represented Divine presence with the nation was but poorly served.
Deeply in earnest for a revival of the true religion, Ezra laid the matter before representatives in Babylon and before the Persian king, with favorable results. Large donations were made for the repairs of the temple and the institution of its worship upon a proper basis, and in general to help the interests of the Jewish cause in Jerusalem. The donations of gold and silver totaled a little more than two million dollars, and the total number of persons who volunteered to be the company numbered about seventeen hundred. The donations were a public trust, and Ezra wisely divided the treasure between twelve principal men of his party, taking receipts from each.
Before the journey proper was begun, a fast was proclaimed and the Almighty God was entreated to grant His blessing upon the undertaking and to direct the course of the travelers. They were not without cause for fear for themselves, for it must have been generally known that they carried a large amount of treasure with them, and the country through which they must pass was infested with robbers who might pounce upon them at any time to carry off their treasure, which consisted of large supplies of wheat, wine and oil besides the gold and silver.
The beginning of the journey with fasting and prayer gives us an insight into Ezra's power and efficiency. "God was with him" – he walked with God, he sought to know and to do the Divine will. Surely it is in vain that any would attempt to serve the Lord and yet neglect to humble themselves before Him and to make request for His blessing and guidance. We submit that fasting and prayer and earnest desire to know and to do the Lord's will are far more efficacious for good than are large donations of money. Perhaps there has been too great a tendency on the part of many to leave out the matter of religious work at home and abroad save along financial lines, forgetful in part at least that they labor in vain unless the Lord grant His blessing.
The fact that notwithstanding our wonderful financial efforts during the past century there are today twice as many heathen as there were a century ago, should take us to the Lord in prayer to assure ourselves regarding the meaning of the prayer He taught us – "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." Seeing the futility of our efforts to bring about heavenly conditions on earth ought to lead all of God's earnest children to search His Word and to see whether or not it teaches that the second coming of Messiah is to unite to Himself His "elect" Church as His Bride and then to establish the Kingdom of Righteousness which, backed by Divine power, will bind Satan, overthrow sin and death, and uplift mankind and make of earth a paradise.
Ezra and his party reached Jerusalem in safety after a journey of exactly four months. As great a distance can be covered in less than four days with our modern conveniences, which surely seem to be precursors of the [R4911 : page 411] glorious Messianic Epoch, the wonderful prosperity of which has so long been foretold.
Ezra has been censured as narrow and cruel because of the reforms at Jerusalem of which he became the leader and adviser. The Jews who first returned from Babylon were full of zeal for the Divine Law, and refused to inter-marry or to have social dealings with their heathen neighbors; but as their prosperity lagged their zeal slackened. Carelessness and irreligion came in. Hence Ezra soon found that many Jews were inter-marrying with their neighbors, and that a condition of things prevailed which, if continued, would mean the corruption of the nation to which God had given the promise of national continuity, and the promise that ultimately He would use them as a nation for the sending out of the light and truth which He has promised shall yet bless all the families of the earth.
A general assembly or convocation of Israelites was called and held to consider this matter of mixed marriages and the requirements of the Law, and any failing to be represented were notified that they would be in danger of being counted out of the congregation as aliens. It was a time of weeping and sorrow and distress [R4912 : page 411] amongst the people as they realized that conformity to the Divine Law would mean the breaking of family ties. The Divine Law had been broken and now the penalty was to be felt. The way of the transgressors was hard.
This requirement of the Law can be understood only by those who realize that Israel was under a special Covenant with God by the compact at Mt. Sinai, and that that nation was subject to every feature of that Law. No such law is or has ever been put upon other nations – nor upon Christians, who are not under the Law but under Grace. We must not, however, object to the Jew's being faithful to his Covenant, for that Law Covenant is as binding upon him today as it ever was; and it will remain binding until it shall be superseded by the New Law Covenant referred to in Jeremiah 31:31. The great Messiah, Head and Body, will be the Mediator of that New Covenant, and its sealing will be effected by the blood of "the better sacrifices" of this Gospel Age.
To the Christian, the next thing corresponding to this Law is the Apostolic injunction that the consecrated followers of Christ should not inter-marry with the worldly but "only in the Lord." (2 Cor. 6:14.) There is surely Divine wisdom in this injunction, yet it is not a law, and Christians who have married unconsecrated persons are not to leave them but to fulfil their marriage covenants. – I Cor. 7:14.
"The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." – James 5:16.
Josephus says that Nehemiah, wealthy and favored of the king of Persia, resided in the king's palace at Shushan. He was a pious man and deeply interested in the land of his fathers. While walking one day he overheard two men talking in the Hebrew tongue, and accosted them. [R4913 : page 411] They had been to Jerusalem and had returned. One of them proved to be his own relative. He gladly inquired respecting the holy land, the holy city, God's temple, and concerning the Jews who had returned from Babylon. The sad story of their trials and the desolation of the city and its exposure to enemies touched his heart and led him to prayer. That prayer is the subject of this lesson.
Undoubtedly, the recorded prayer of Nehemiah is merely an epitomized statement, for we read that he made the matter a subject of earnest prayer for four months before he reached the point of action where God used him in the fulfilment of his own petition. This reminds us of how our Lord instructed His disciples, saying, "Pray ye the Lord of the Harvest that He would send forth more laborers into His Harvest." While the disciples thus prayed it would imply that they would be laboring in accordance with their prayers, that they would be doing all in their own power to forward the Harvest work as well as to interest other laborers in the same. Thus it must always be that earnest effort will accompany prayer. Prayers not accompanied by efforts brand themselves as insincere. The prayer which is not of faith is sin – unscriptural, sacrilegious.
The poet has well defined prayer as being "The soul's sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed." Another has well declared that it "is the Christian's vital breath" – that is to say, Christian character cannot be maintained without prayer any more than a human life could be maintained without breathing. Who has not noticed that all the great Bible characters used of the Almighty were accustomed to go to Him regularly in prayer and to seek for guidance from Him in respect to every matter. Even the great Redeemer, holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners, needed to pray to the Father – needed His fellowship and communion – needed to be in touch with the Infinite One. Several of His prayers are recorded, and we are told that He spent the entire night in prayer on more than one occasion.
Some may ask, Would the Almighty change His plans in answer to our petitions? Assuredly He would not. Indeed, on the contrary, we are cautioned in the Scriptures to ask only according to His will. We are warned that if we ask amiss our petitions will not be answered. Hence the necessity for studying God's Word and being enlightened thereby respecting the Divine program that we may ask in harmony with every feature of it and receive strength and encouragement through the answer to our petitions.
The Redeemer gave us the keynote to this, saying, "If ye abide in Me and My words abide in you, ye may ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you." (John 15:7.) Alas! how few seem to note the two limitations of this promise:
(1) The one asking must be in Christ – abiding in Him. This means that the petitioner has turned from sin, has accepted Christ and the terms of discipleship. It implies that he has made a full consecration of his [R4913 : page 412] life to the Lord and become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Such, abiding in Christ, may pray to the Father.
(2) After having come into membership and fellowship with the Head, the Messiah, these must ask in harmony with God's Word and promises; in order to know what things to ask for they must search the Scriptures, which are sufficient, "that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished." There are many things for which we may pray, the answer to which would not involve any change in the Divine plans. We are not to understand that all the little incidents of life are foreordained and predestinated. So far as the world is concerned, many of its affairs are purely of chance under the permission of natural laws with which God does not generally interfere. It is in the affairs of His consecrated people that God assures us He takes a special interest. These are so supervised by His providence that He guarantees His children that all things shall work together for good to them.
God is pleased to make use of the little talents possessed by His consecrated people, and their usefulness as ambassadors for God and for Christ, in their own families and own cities, will avail in proportion to and depend very much upon the earnestness of their prayers and endeavors. Those who pray for opportunities to serve the Lord and His cause and who watch for the fulfilment of their prayers in the open doors of opportunity will surely have them. "He that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
The baptized in Christ may pray for earthly necessities, as in the Lord's prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread;" but we are not to pray for more than the bread and water which the Lord has authorized His people to pray for. The true Christian, instead of thinking about what he shall eat, what he shall drink, and wherewithal he shall be clothed – instead of making earthly things the subject of his prayers, will be thinking of and praying about his higher, his heavenly interests. More particularly he will be concerned respecting his spiritual food, spiritual clothing, spiritual growth in grace and knowledge and love, and for these particularly he will pray and strive.
Our Lord declares, "After all these things (food and clothing) do the Gentiles seek; but seek ye first (chiefly) the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." God's people are consequently to attain a joint-heirship in Messiah's great Kingdom according to the Divine invitation that we should be "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord." We are to seek possessions in that Kingdom with our Lord in His throne, by seeking to develop characters which will have divine approval and make us fit for that high exaltation. Our Lord speaks of these as seeking the righteousness of the Kingdom – that Kingdom which will be established amongst mankind for the very purpose of enforcing righteousness; and whoever will be a joint-heir with Christ must love righteousness and hate iniquity, and must develop this character before he dies in order to hope for a share in this Kingdom and its glory, honor and immortality. For this he will be seeking, striving, praying – above all else.
"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith; quit you like men; be strong." – 1 Cor. 16:13.
Nehemiah's prayer instantly went up to God for wisdom to know how to answer, for he did not receive the wisdom at once, although he had prayed beforehand. He knew that the Almighty could hear his desires of heart, uttered or unexpressed. He received the needed wisdom for a wise and successful reply, which did not offend the king, but enlisted his interest. He told the king that his sadness of heart was because the home of his fathers was ruined. The result was that the king appointed him special governor of Judea with full authority to attend to the work and to call upon the governors of surrounding provinces for aid if necessary.
That Nehemiah was a wise man and no mere dreamer was evidenced in the practical methods he employed. A man of wealth, he probably financed his own expedition, aside from the retinue of soldiers, etc., furnished by the king. A four-months' journey brought them to Jerusalem. The object of his coming was kept secret. He was merely a visitor for a few days, seeing and hearing. Then by night he made an inspection of the old city walls, particularly the broken parts and the heaps of ruins from which they might be rebuilt. He saw the feasibility of the scheme and outlined in his mind the method. Then he called for the elders and prominent representatives of the people, explained to them his object in coming, showed them his authority from the king and suggested a method for the beginning of the repair work immediately.
He perceived the necessity for great caution, as enemies were on every hand as anxious to hinder them as he was anxious for success. The Samaritans were jealous. They had a rival worship of Jehovah, and Israel's success would seem to imply that God's favor was to the Jews rather than toward the Samaritans. Besides, they all hoped to profit by the poverty and helplessness of the Jews – thinking it not wrong to pillage them as opportunity offered. Nehemiah's plan was approved. The leading men in each quarter of the city joined in the work with the laborers, and each built the wall most nearly in front of his own home quarters. This was a wise plan, for each would be specially interested in having the wall strong in his own neighborhood, and a certain degree of proper pride would attach to the work as a prominent monument of the builder's skill – itself a credit or discredit.
Nehemiah joined in the work with the others, his accompanying servants participating also. His spirit of zeal was an inspiration to the discouraged people, who took heart, and hope began to thrive. Then came discouragement and opposition from the enemies. An attack [R4912 : page 413] was even planned, but learning of this, Nehemiah so directed the work that the heads of the families kept an armed watch while the others labored, carrying swords also for self-defense.
When their enemies found that they were prepared, the proposed attack was abandoned and discouragements were resorted to. The effort was laughed at, ridiculed as impossible, and worthless anyhow. Those unused to manual toil soon grew sore and weary and discouraged. The higher the walls grew, the more difficult it was to place the stones and the mortar, and the more stones built into the wall, the fewer suitable ones remained amongst the rubbish. It was a time of testing of faith and loyalty to God. Trials and difficulties are permitted to come to all of God's people for just such testings. The overcomers are developed through various experiences for the Divine service.
It may be asked why Nehemiah's faithfulness and courage were tested, and what reward was his. We reply that a reward of character-development follows every good endeavor. The reward of those who lived faithfully in Nehemiah's time differs essentially from the reward of the faithful amongst the followers of Jesus. The latter are promised a share with the Master in His glorious Messianic Kingdom. "Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom;" "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne." – Luke 12:32; Rev. 3:21.
But Nehemiah could have no share in these Kingdom promises because he lived before the call to the Kingdom – before Pentecost. He and others of his time who displayed faithfulness and loyalty are not personally mentioned by St. Paul in Hebrews 11, but they are undoubtedly included in the list. Of them the Apostle declared, "They had this testimony, that they pleased God." St. Paul declares that they will receive their reward – a share in the earthly phase of the Kingdom, after the Church shall first have her share with the Redeemer in the heavenly phase of the Kingdom, for "they, without us, shall not be made perfect, God having some better thing for us."
St. Paul's words in our text teach the same great lesson of the necessity for character-development on the part of all who hope to be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord. They must watch as well as pray, they must "stand fast in the faith" against the various oppositions of the world, the flesh and the Adversary. They must acquit themselves like men, "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." They must be strongly developed, by trials, difficulties and obstacles overcome in the name of the Lord and with His assistance.
"Thou shalt be called by a new name;...thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God." – Isa. 62:2,3.
These statements refer to Zion. The typical Zion is the Jewish nation; and the antitypical Zion is the glorified Christ. Very properly, then, we may understand that the blessings which belong to the Church on the spirit plane will, naturally, on the earthly plane, belong to the Ancient Worthies, who will be in Divine favor forever.
The two expressions, "a crown of glory" and "a royal diadem," express practically the same thought, the repetition making the sentiment doubly impressive. A diadem is a crown. Crowns are generally used to add dignity and honor to the individuals wearing them; but the Scriptural expression, "A crown of glory,...a royal diadem in the hand of thy God," does not include the thought of a diadem that is to be worn, as giving glory to God; but rather as representing a beautiful ornament in the Divine hand, as you take something in your hand to look at the beauty and workmanship.
The jewels that will make this diadem beautiful, when properly tested by the great Master-Workman, are the Church. The Lord will come to make up His jewels, to secure His jewels. "God hath set the members in the Body." The text refers to the final setting in the future, in the Kingdom condition. As star differeth from star in glory, so shall these jewels differ in setting and position. This also applies to the present time. The present arrangement is subject to change in proportion as the individual will or will not be fully submissive to the Lord's will. There has been a selection of a jewel class; [R4913 : page 414] and the experiences of this class during the Gospel Age have been the polishing processes; and there will be a setting in the end of this Age, when the Church is completed. This began when the First Resurrection began.
The first setting in this royal diadem was, undoubtedly, our Lord Jesus Himself. He is the first in this great diadem which Jehovah has in His hand. Next will come the members of the Body, as they shall be perfected in the First Resurrection – the Apostles and sleeping saints, each as he is granted his change, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." Each jewel will be placed in that particular setting for which Jehovah has seen that it is prepared.
When the mother of James and John went with them to Jesus and requested that her sons might sit, the one on His right hand and the other on His left hand, He said that these places would be given to those for whom they are intended by the Father. Those positions will [R4914 : page 414] not be given through favor, but through justice. Any place will be glorious in this company. Only the Lord is competent to say who shall sit on the right hand and on the left. We shall be pleased to have His will done; and beyond the veil we shall have such a large sense of justice that we shall be glad to have the matter as the Father has arranged.
The Lord is first; we think probably St. Paul is next. And we think St. Peter and St. John have prominent places. We shall all be perfectly content and pleased with whatever the Father will decide. We shall be glad of any place. And any one who would not be of that spirit, of that disposition, will thereby indicate that he is not of that class which the Lord would have there. Any who will be of that class will be glad to accept the Father's decree and to prefer it to anything they could have devised.
So the Church in the hand of God is the Church in the hand of Divine power. That power will use the Church and she will be a crown of glory and a thing of beauty, gloriously reflecting to all eternity the workmanship of our God. How glorious it will be! How beautiful! The Lord Jehovah will have the setting of these precious jewels, one reflecting upon another in that crown of glory and diadem of beauty, with the Lord Jesus in the chief place, for the Father will not give to the Church any glory that He would not give to the Lord Himself. The Church is to be displayed before men as "a thing of beauty and a joy forever" – God's handiwork.
He is selecting the jewels now, and is providentially dealing with them. When the process of polishing shall have been completed, He will use them in a very special sense for a thousand years. As a star blazes in glory, so the Lord will make use of each one of the Church. But the use of the Church which the Lord will make at that time will be only a part of the work which He intends to accomplish. The Apostle says, "That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." – Eph. 2:7.
All who are in Christ, all who are in the "elect" Body of Christ – to these God will show His exceeding grace. His grace and favor will be showered upon the Church. And the world will eventually see in the Church the culmination of all of God's creative work. The glory of the Church will be manifested in the sight of angels and of men. And so the Lord indicates the blessings that are to be ours if we are faithful in making our "calling and election sure."
Let us never forget that we are a "peculiar people," separate from the great body of nominal Christians, as well as from the world, having higher hopes, aims and ambitions and favored with a clearer insight into the deep things of God, having been called out of our former darkness into His marvelous light. And if thus separate from the world and from Christians who partake largely of the worldly spirit, what wonder if we find them all out of harmony with us, and either ignoring or opposing us in the performance of the Master's will.
Answer. – We answer, No! Marriage is an arrangement that God instituted for a very special purpose, and with the human family only. The object of the separation of Mother Eve from Father Adam [she was formed from one of his ribs] was, the Scriptures tell us, that a race might be produced. Marriage means merely the union of these two recognizing each other as one; and so the Apostle says, "I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the Head of Christ is God."
There is no arrangement in God's Plan to have any of those on the spirit plane male and female. According to the productions of Art, there are no male angels; but according to the Scriptures, there are no female angels. Possibly the reason why so many artists have supposed that angels are females is that there are more women in the Church than men. But the entire idea is erroneous; for angels are an entirely separate order of beings from mankind. Man never was an angel and never was intended to be an angel. Man is of the earth, earthy. He fell from the position of king of the earth and became a degraded being; and the Divine intention and promise is that when Messiah shall reign humanity shall be lifted up from sin and degradation and brought back to human perfection. – Acts 3:19-21.
The only ones who will become spirit beings, as are the angels, are the Church class – those begotten of the Spirit, those who in the resurrection will be given a change of nature. As the Apostle states, "We shall all be changed," for "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." (I Cor. 15:51,50.) Therefore the First Resurrection, in which the Bride only has part with her Lord, is different from the resurrection of the world. Of those who will have part in the First Resurrection we read that "they shall be priests unto God and shall reign with Christ a thousand years." (Rev. 20:6.) Flesh and blood cannot be a part of that Kingdom. Therefore they must all be changed. We do not expect that Jesus will be changed from spirit to human nature; but that the Church must be changed from human to spirit nature, for they "shall be like Him and see Him as He is" (I John 3:2) and share His glory and be His Bride. When the Church shall thus be changed, all the peculiarities of male and female will be obliterated, for there is neither male nor female amongst the angels; and the Scriptures tell us there will not be in the glorified Church. The perfection of spirit being will be one. All will be alike, sexless.
As for mankind: We think the Scriptures clearly indicate [R4914 : page 415] that Divine provision for mankind will be that they will all be sexless when perfection shall have been reached. That is to say, at the close of the Millennial Age, all having been gradually perfected, each sex will, in their development, have taken on more of the qualities of the other; during that Age the woman will gradually add to her womanly graces the qualities that belong to man; and man will likewise gradually take on with his manly qualities the finer sentiments and qualities of mind and body that belong to the female. Thus man will receive again that which was taken from him originally, represented by the rib. So all will then be perfect; and they will neither marry nor give in marriage; for all will in this respect be "like unto the angels." – Luke 20:34-36.
Question. – Are we to understand from your remarks in THE WATCH TOWER of April 1, 1911, page 102, column 2, paragraphs 2 and 3, that your opinion has altered respecting the "change" of the Church?
Answer. – No; we have no different thought from that heretofore presented. We still believe that since 1878 we are in the time indicated by the statement, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, they shall rest from their labors, and their works follow with them." – Rev. 14:13.
We must all die, but "we shall not all sleep." In the cases of those remaining alive at the time of our Lord's second presence, there will be no need to sleep – the moment of death will be the moment of resurrection change. – Psa. 82:7; I Cor. 15:51,52.
(1) The Church in glory will consist exclusively of the Redeemer and His Bride class, His joint-heirs, or, under the other figure, "Jesus, the Head, and the Church, His Body" – "members in particular of the Body of Christ." These alone will have part in the "first resurrection"; these alone will reign with Christ a thousand years.
(2) In the present time, however, the Church is spoken of as the Bride of Christ, in a formative or developing state, His espoused. Each one who makes a full consecration of himself to the Lord, trusting in the merit of Jesus, when begotten of the Holy Spirit, is counted a member of the Body of Christ. As a member he is to grow in grace, knowledge and love, putting off the former things of the flesh and putting on the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit. These, however, develop into three different classes: –
(b) A "great company" class, loyal to God and in the end faithful but not sufficiently zealous to be considered sacrificing priests, not worthy, therefore, to be counted of the Body of the "more than conquerors." [R4915 : page 415] These will ultimately come off conquerors and attain the plane of spirit being to which they were begotten at the time of their consecration. These will be the "virgin companions" of the Bride, serving in the Temple.
(c) A third class, described by St. Paul as falling away and counting the blood of the Covenant wherewith they were sanctified an ordinary thing and despising the great favor and privilege of sanctification through justification. These are described also by St. Peter as "the sow returned to her wallowing in the mire" – as turned from spiritual hopes and promises to earthly. These, once counted members of the Body of Christ, will die the Second Death, as brute beasts.
Answer. – From the Scriptures it is evident that during the Millennial Age the world of mankind will be privileged to offer themselves to God as gifts, but not as sacrifices. Hence, during the Millennial Age, part of the work of the great High Priest will be to accept these gifts and to make them acceptable to God through His own merit and rights as the Melchizedek Priest. We can, however, apply this text very properly to the present time. The Apostle puts the word gifts first. We may, therefore, look to see whether there is not some way in which the High Priest offers gifts now. Surely our Lord's consecration of His own life was a gift on His part. The Father accepted that gift and ultimately permitted our Lord's gift to constitute a Sin-Offering for others. Likewise, throughout this Gospel Age, the "brethren" are invited to present their bodies living sacrifices – to give themselves to God. – Rom. 12:1,2.
When we thus make a present of ourselves to God, we are not making a Sin-Offering to God; for this we could not do. But the Divine arrangement for accepting our gift is that each gift will be acceptable through the merit of Christ; and that then, later on, these gifts will, according to the same Divine arrangement, constitute the great Sin-Offering which the High Priest gives for the world. Thus the High Priest is ordained to make the ultimate offering of that gift as the Sin-Offering for the world.
Amongst those who served in the office of typical high priest, says the Apostle, the uniform custom was that they should offer both gifts and sacrifices to God. Hence, he proceeds to point out that Jesus, as the Antitype of those priests, must have something to offer. He also must offer both gifts and sacrifices, in order to fulfil His priesthood. He presented Himself without spot unto God; and, by virtue of that presentation, He is a Sin-Offering unto God; and, through His merit, He makes the same true of His Church, who voluntarily give themselves to God.
Answer. – The word Ransom would more properly be rendered Ransom-Price, corresponding price. On the Day of Atonement no type of the ransom-price is given us, but rather a type of the Sin-Offering, showing particularly how that ransom-price will be made applicable. If we scrutinize this Atonement Day type, however, we shall find that which points to the Ransom, in the killing of the bullock; for the whole matter depended upon the killing of the bullock. The goat could not be killed first. The bullock must first be killed and the blood applied in the Most Holy before anything could be done with the goat. Hence, all that was done, not only with the Lord's goat, but also with the scapegoat, was based on the death of the bullock. So if we look for anything that might correspond to the ransom-price in the Day of Atonement sacrifices, we shall see that the death of the goat was not necessary, but all depended on the bullock.
|VOL. XXXII||NOVEMBER 15||No. 22|
|Is Mankind Advancing?||419|
|Practical Self-Examination on Love||421|
|Love the Secret of True Politeness||422|
|Love Begins at Home||422|
|Love Thinks No Evil||423|
|Do Nothing Whereby Thy Brother Stumbleth||424|
|Self-Denial in Interest of Others||424|
|Our Responsibility to Our Brother||425|
|Every Violation of Conscience Wrong||425|
|Lord's Goat and Scape-Goat||426|
|Scape-Goat Class Fail to Bear "His Reproach"||426|
|What Does It Mean? (Poem)||427|
|Nobility Conquers Meanness||427|
|Evil-Speaking and Slander||428|
|Ezra's Bible Class||428|
|Some Interesting Letters||430|
|Berean Questions in "Scripture Studies"||431|
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"IN A BOOK of the above title Mrs. John Martin administers a stiff rebuke to the pride and self-confidence of our age. She feels, and she argues with great skill, that humanity is not advancing in any real sense. 'The world today,' she remarks, 'is convinced that it is making rapid progress. In western Europe and in America increased wealth production, democratic institutions, free education, free thought, the opening of opportunities in new countries, the acceleration of travel and communication, have combined to produce upon our generation an exhilarating sense of expansion, of liberation, of growing power.' But this impression, it seems, is an illusion. We have not really progressed. Mrs. Martin likens modern civilization to a runaway locomotive going at tremendous speed on a wrong track. 'We have lost our way,' she says; and adds: 'Man may have risen from the ape; also the ape may be a degenerate man. Men are headed ape-ward quite as frequently as angel-ward. Time runs an elevator which goes both ways, down as well as up.'
"'What is progress?' asks Mrs. Martin at the outset of her argument. She replies: 'The word progress should, I believe, be exclusively used to express a rise in human capacity, the development of higher orders of human beings. Thus restricted, it remains, as it should, a strictly qualitative, never a quantitative, term. Improved conditions conduce to progress, and are necessary to progress, but may exist without producing progress. Progress is something more than improvement. Progress means movement forward.' This definition leads on to a wonderful picture:
"'Looking back along the line of history, we can see that we (mankind) have been traveling a long, long road whose winding way, rising and falling century after century, we can trace back for a few thousand years until it enters a trackless desert and fades utterly from our view in the mists of antiquity. Immediately behind the spot where we now stand there seems to lie a downward slope; that is to say, we seem to have been ascending since the eighteenth, the seventeenth, yes, part of the sixteenth centuries. But the Elizabethan era and the period of the Renaissance in Italy do not lie below us. Life was very full and splendid then; man had climbed to a higher point of outlook than that upon which we now act out our little day. Behind those centuries the way becomes obscure; it seems to pass through deep and [R4916 : page 419] silent forests, over dim, somnolent plains, in shadowy twilights and through deserted wastes, until it falls away into a wide, cold swamp, noisome, dark, terrible, abounding in reptiles and the horrid monsters of sick dreams.
"'Beyond this death-bound stillness of the Dark Ages, the road ascends again into the upper air. Birds are singing, the sunlight touches the grain fields; the bustle of human life appears, troops of soldiery in glittering armor, citizens in gorgeous raiment, all the pomp and pageantry of the triumphant Roman Empire. Behind Rome the road drops away again suddenly, a deep, sharp drop into a valley, beyond which it begins to rise once more and, becoming steeper and steeper, it lifts our gaze to the very mountain top, where among the clouds against the deep blue sky, swept by fresh breezes, enthroned amid snow-white temples, gleaming in the golden sunshine, Greek civilization sits upon the pinnacle of human greatness.'
"Having formulated her definition of progress and expressed her conception of the human zenith, Mrs. Martin goes on to ask by what method we may set about to measure the degree of progress existing in any age. She answers this question in the spirit of Huxley's statement: 'The advance of mankind has everywhere depended upon the production of men of genius.' It is by the number and caliber of its men of genius, she holds, that any epoch must be tested.
"In the realm of practical science and pure thought, Aristotle and Plato are probably the two greatest intellects the world has ever known. 'Aristotle,' says Hegel, 'was a genius beside whom no age has an equal to place'; while Emerson exclaims: 'Compare Plato with other men. How many ages have gone by and he remains unapproached!' 'Have we, in modern times,' Mrs. Martin inquires, 'any thinkers who can compare with these ancient Greeks? Kant may be cited, and Darwin and Herbert Spencer; but are they as great as Plato and Aristotle? Very few would seriously maintain that Plato and Aristotle have ever been equaled, much less surpassed.
"'Greek sculpture, by almost universal consent, is unexcelled. The work of Phidias has no rival unless it be the work of Michael Angelo. Greek poetic genius finds transcendent expression in Homer, one of the four or five greatest figures in the world's literature, and the dramas of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus take their place with the dramas of Shakespeare. Dante, of the thirteenth century, and Goethe, of the eighteenth century, have no peers today. The great story-tellers,' Mrs. Martin reminds us, 'appeared, as was fitting, in the childhood [R4916 : page 420] of the race. The writers of the Old Testament were delightful raconteurs. Ruth is the most lovely of idyls, the stories of Adam and Eve, Joseph and his brethren, Moses and Pharaoh's daughter, Samson and Delilah, are unsurpassable as tales, while the story of the Exodus and the adventures of the children of Israel in the wilderness are told with unending charm and epic fire. As for animal stories, fables, etc., Aesop, writing seven centuries before Christ, has never been surpassed for point and brevity as well as for practical common sense. Boccaccio (1313) and Cervantes (1547) can hardly be said to have been outdone by any of the countless numbers of story-tellers who in our day are pouring out such a flood of fiction that one is sometimes almost led to believe that the world is entering upon its second childhood.'
"Coming next to men of action and statesmen, Mrs. Martin names four as being of the first rank, namely, Alexander, Caesar and Pericles, who lived before Christ, and Napoleon, who belongs to the nineteenth century. 'We may say,' she continues, 'that there seem to have been in history about thirty-five men of absolutely first rank. These are Raphael, Michael Angelo, Phidias, Ictinus, Homer, Shakespeare, Demosthenes, Goethe, Aeschylus, Beethoven, Aristotle, Newton, Euclid, Plato, Dante, Kant, Saint Paul, Pericles, Darwin, Moses, Cicero, Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Mahomet, Socrates, Columbus, Thucydides, Hipparchus, Hippocrates, Hannibal, Washington.' If Cicero, Thucydides, Hipparchus, Hippocrates, Hannibal, Columbus, Washington and Darwin be omitted from this list, as possibly not measuring up to the first rank, we have twenty-seven names. 'Of these twenty-seven men of transcendent genius,' Mrs. Martin comments, 'eleven were produced by one small district. Ten of them were brought forth by one small city about the size of Fall River, Mass., or Paterson, N.J. The little city of Athens produced in a few years more men of consummate genius than did all the millions of inhabitants of China, Arabia, India, Palestine, Rome, Carthage and all of Europe breeding for two thousand years!'
"But surely, it will be objected, genius is not the only standard of progress. Mankind, though it may not produce today the equals of the intellectual prodigies of the past, is nevertheless advancing in industrial and scientific efficiency, in moral insight, in democratic culture. Mrs. Martin meets this objection in a series of chapters.
"The fact that we have more things than we ever had before and can go to more places and 'get there' more rapidly, is not necessarily, she contends, a sign of progress. 'I detest,' she quotes Herbert Spencer as saying, 'that conception of social progress which presents as its aim increase of population, growth of wealth, spread of commerce. In this ideal of human existence there is contemplated quantity only, and not quality. Instead of an immense amount of life of low type, I would far sooner see half the amount of life of a high type. A prosperity which is exhibited in board of trade tables, year by year increasing their totals, is, to a large extent, not a prosperity at all, but an adversity.' In spite of all our wealth, the blight of poverty, with its accompanying sickness, suffering, crime, insanity and vice, continues. The social disease manifested in 'atrophy and hypertrophy,' in 'extremities bleeding at the bottom, bloating at the top, decay in both,' is a portent of the modern world. It was not known in Athens. 'Improvements in machinery,' Mrs. Martin continues, 'have rendered the lot of the workers in some respects harder than before. Machinery,' she says, 'is the great disappointment of the modern world. We have quadruple-expansion engines which have a thirty-seven thousand horse-power, but they have not rendered less arduous the labor of coal miners. The sewing-machine was hailed as the deliverer of the sewing woman, but since its invention the sweating system has spread. The digging of the Suez canal brought India four thousand miles nearer to Europe, but India remains as miserable and poverty-stricken as before. Ocean freight rates on wheat from England to the United States have dropped to one-third in thirty-five years, but twelve millions of people, it is reported, remain in that country on the verge of starvation.' The argument proceeds:
"'Many modern inventions, instead of being sources of pride, should be occasions to us of the deepest humiliation, and others are only suggestive of the varied misery whose existence demanded their invention. Thus ingenious firearms witness to burglary and need of self-defense and the sleepless hatred between men; varieties of medicine indicate new varieties of disease, while surgery points to the failure of the whole science of medicine, even as charities reveal the depth of national poverty and the breakdown of the national economies; the police force marks the extent of national crime; insane asylums, prisons, tell their own story, as do the mountains of false hair, legs, arms, and the annual consumption in the United States alone of twenty millions of false teeth!'
"The real point at issue, as Mrs. Martin sees it, is summed up in the question: Is it possible to point to the modern world and say, 'Here are men of a more developed type, more intelligent, healthier, more moral, and made so by our vast improvements in the material conditions of life?' She herself does not see how this question can be answered in the affirmative. In her eyes, modern civilization is a Frankenstein that already threatens to destroy its makers. Very much of our modern activity appeals to her as 'sound and fury signifying nothing.' As she puts it:
"'There is one element common to the first three classes of invention – they are designed to save time. The mammoth reaper which mows a county in a few days, the express train with its sixty miles an hour, the marine cable bringing an answer from the antipodes in a few minutes, the machine guns which cut down an army like a field of timothy, or the torpedo-boats which sink a navy – down to the latest egg-beater and corkscrew, are all designed to save time. We may almost say that the whole aim of man's ingenuity, embodied in thousands upon thousands of contrivances, has been directed toward the one sole object of saving time. His railroads, trolleys, canals, tunnels, cables, elevators, bicycles, automobiles, etc., are all for the purpose of enabling him to save time in getting there. His telegraphs, telephones, etc., are devised in order to save time in sending messages. His myriad machines are invented for the purpose of saving time in producing more things. His Gatling guns, torpedoes, automatic firing rifles, etc., are designed to save time in killing men.... [R4917 : page 421]
"Mrs. Martin is equally emphatic in denying any substantial moral progress. In the matter of ethical theory, she agrees with Buckle in feeling that advance has not only not taken place, but is not possible. To do good to others; to sacrifice for their benefit your own wishes; to love your neighbor as yourself; to forgive your enemies; to restrain your passions; to honor your parents; to respect those who are set over you – these and a few others, according to Buckle, are the sole essentials of morals, and they have been known for thousands of years. In the matter of moral practice, can it be contended that our present age is supreme? On the contrary, Mrs. Martin avers, we are not as honest, as temperate, as just, as brave, or as public-spirited as the ancient Greeks.
"When she comes to the question of the diffusion of intelligence, she is still skeptical. Even granting that we have today a far larger number of good, average intelligences than in the past, can this fact be said to constitute progress in any real sense? Mrs. Martin replies:
"'This is perfectly clear if one reflects a moment upon what took place in the past, during the march from the anthropoid age up to, say, Shakespeare. Suppose at any step of this ascent it had been asserted that to multiply the species in its then stage would be progress; suppose, for instance, that a community of apes, being fairly well fed and merrily engaged in pelting one another with cocoanuts in the forest primeval, should have decided that the multiplication of apes in this (to them) satisfactory condition should be esteemed progress. Obviously they would have been mistaken. Progress meant moving toward Shakespeare, and progress could not take place until the anthropoid ape passed up into a higher species. This is as true of our stage as it has been of any previous one.'
"Genuine progress, in Mrs. Martin's sense of the word, takes place when certain individuals emerge from the common level and establish a higher standard of human capacity and excellence. The problem of progress is therefore synonymous with the problem of producing great men. She says:
"'The ideal aim of society is the production of men of genius, because it is through the activities of these that mankind acquires the means of its highest development and the satisfaction of its deepest needs. A society adopting such an end as its goal would find all grades of labor falling each into its just and honorable place, being each contributive, inasmuch as in it lay, to the attainment of the consciously realized common end.
"'The ideal of democracy is a horizontal society, but every day is demonstrating more and more clearly that this ideal is unattainable because in the nature of things impossible. Society is not horizontal; it is perpendicular. It is not flat like the sea; it grows upward like a tree toward the light. The Greek method of trying to discover justice and apply it to society, on the hypothesis that society was perpendicular (that is, naturally disposed in sections one above the other like a tree), might have led to success. It is becoming increasingly evident that our efforts to achieve justice, based upon the false hypothesis that society is level like the sea, can never solve our problems. Justice is within the bounds of attainment to a society which realizes that it has at the heart of its life a common aim – to produce the fruit of the tree – and where each individual aims at fulfilling the function to which it is best adapted toward that common end.'
"This train of argument inevitably culminates in a plea for eugenics; but eugenics in its present stage holds out what Mrs. Martin can regard only as a somewhat desolating prospect. She declares in concluding:
"'No more alluring prospect could be held up to the sorrowing and impatient lover of his kind than that propounded by the eugenicist. Think of breeding poets to order like Saint Andreasberg canaries, or Abraham Lincolns as required! Think of winning blue ribbons with lovely young girls and athletic boys bred and groomed for the show! Think of securing Rockefellers or Carnegies in one's family at will, and thus successfully replenish the family coffers!
"'Alas for the vanity of these hopes! Eugenics in its present amorphous condition, while it presents no end which seems to be unattainable, presents no beginning which seems to be feasible. Many decades must be passed in the bare effort to accustom men to the idea. Long, long years the deliberate improvement of human breeds must be discussed and dreamed of before it can be done. For this, which is the most stupendous task man has ever attempted, will need his all of intelligence, will, endurance, and foresight.'"– Current Literature.
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." – 2 Cor. 13:5.
In the Christian an outward manifestation of amiability, meekness, gentleness, patience, etc., is not sufficient, either in God's sight or in his own. These graces must be produced by the spirit of Love, filling and expanding within his own heart. Many of the graces of the Spirit are recognized by the unregenerate and are imitated as marks of good breeding, and in many cases are successfully worn as a cloak or mask, covering hearts and sentiments wholly antagonistic to the holy spirit of Love.
The measure of our appreciation of Divine Love will be the measure of our zeal in conforming our characters to the Divine pattern. A naturally rough, uncouth, depraved disposition may require a long time, after the grace of Divine Love enters the heart, before that grace is manifest in all the thoughts and words and acts of the outward man. Others, on the contrary, of more [R4917 : page 422] gentle birth and cultured training, may, without the grace of God within, have many of the outward refinements. None but Him who reads the heart is competent, therefore, to judge as to who have and who have not received this grace, and of the degree of its development in their hearts; but each one may judge for himself, and each one begotten of this Holy Spirit, Love, should seek to let its light so shine out, through all the avenues of communication with his fellow-creatures, as to glorify his Father in Heaven and "show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." – I Pet. 2:9.
Amongst the "gifts" of early Apostolic times, prophecy, or oratory, was one highly commended. Knowledge of the mysteries of God was also highly commended, and large faith was reckoned as being amongst the chief of Christian requirements; yet the Apostle declares that if he possessed all of these in their fullest measure, and Love were absent, he would be nothing – a mere cipher – not a member of the New Creation at all, since Love is the very spirit of the begetting to the new nature.
What a wonderful test this is! The Apostle Paul counsels, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." Let us each apply the test to himself: Whether I am something or nothing in God's estimation is to be measured by my love for Him, for His brethren, for His cause, for the world in general, and even for my enemies, rather than by my knowledge, or fame, or oratory!
Yet we are not to understand that one could have a knowledge of the deep mysteries of God without having been begotten by the Holy Spirit of Love; for the deep things of God knoweth no man, but by the Spirit of God; but one might lose the spirit before losing the knowledge it brought him. In the measure of character, therefore, we are to put Love first, and to consider it the chief test of our nearness to and acceptance with the Lord.
Having given us such a conception of the importance of Love, the Apostle proceeds to describe what it is and what it is not – how it operates and how it does not operate, or conduct itself. Let us each make a practical application of this matter to himself and inquire within:
Have I such a love, especially for the household of faith, as leads me to suffer considerable and for a long [R4918 : page 422] time, and yet to be kind? Am I patient with the weaknesses and imperfections of those who give any evidence of good intentions? Am I patient even with those who are out of the way, realizing that the great Adversary blinds the minds of the masses and remembering that this manifestation of Love was very prominent in our Lord Jesus, who was patient with His opponents?
Am I kind in my methods, seeking to guard my manner and my tones, knowing that they have much to do with every affair of life? Have I this mark of Love pervading my actions and words and thoughts? Do I think of and am I considerate of others? Do I feel and manifest kindness toward them in word, in look, in act? A Christian, above all others, should be kind, courteous, gentle in the home, in his place of business, in the Church – everywhere. In proportion as perfect Love is attained the constant effort of the heart will be to have every word and act, like the thought which prompts them, full of patience and kindness. With the child of God these qualities are not to be mere outward adornments, they cannot be; on the contrary, they are fruits of the Spirit – growths from or results of having come into fellowship with God, having learned of Him, received of His Spirit of holiness, of Love.
Have I the Love that "envieth not," the Love that is generous, so that I can see others prosper and rejoice in their prosperity, even if, for a time, my own affairs be not so prosperous? This is true generosity, the very reverse of jealousy and envy, which spring from a perverted nature. The root of envy is selfishness; envy will not grow upon the root of Love. Love rejoices with them that rejoice, in the prosperity of every good word and work, and in the advancement in Christian grace and in the Divine service of all who are actuated by the Divine Spirit.
Have I the Love that is humble, that "vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up"? the love that tends to modesty, that is not boastful, not lifted up? Have I the Love that would prompt to good deeds, not to be seen of men, but that would do the same if no one saw or knew but God only? that boasts neither of its knowledge nor of its graces, but in humility acknowledges that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father? And do I make return to Him in Love and service for every mercy? Boasting over self-esteem has led many a man not only into folly, but sometimes into gross sins in his endeavor to make good his boasts. The Spirit of the Lord is the spirit of a sound mind, which not only seeks generously to esteem others, but also soberly to estimate one's self, and not to think too highly of his character and attainments.
Have I the Love which is courteous, "doth not behave itself unseemly"? Pride is the root out of which grows much of the unseemly conduct, impoliteness, so common to those who think themselves somebody, either intellectually or financially. Politeness has been defined as Love in trifles; courtesy as Love in little things. The secret of politeness is either surface polishing or love in the heart. As Christians we are to have the heart-love which will prompt us to acts of kindness and courtesy, not only in the household of faith, but in our homes and in our dealings with the world.
Have I the Love which is unselfish, which "seeketh not her own" interests exclusively, which might even be willing to let some of her own rights be sacrificed in the interests of others? or have I, on the contrary, the selfishness which not only demands my own rights on every occasion, but which demands those rights regardless of the conveniences, comfort and rights of others? To have Love in this particular means that we will be on guard against taking any unjust advantage of others, and will prefer rather to suffer a wrong than to do a wrong; to suffer an injustice than to do an injustice.
Nothing in this signifies that one should neglect the caring for and providing in every way for those dependent upon him by the ties of nature, in order that he may do good to others. In every sense, "Love begins at home." The proper thought, as we gather it, is that men and women, possessed of the spirit of perfect Love, would not think exclusively of their own interests in any of the affairs of life. Put into exercise, this element of Love would have a great influence upon all the affairs of life, inside as well as outside the home and family.
Have I the Love which is good tempered, "not easily provoked" to anger – Love that enables me to see both sides of a question, that gives me the spirit of a sound mind, which enables me to perceive that exasperation and violent anger are not only unbecoming but, worse than that, injurious to those toward whom they may be directed, and also injurious in their effect upon my own heart and body?
There may be times when Love will need to be firm, [R4918 : page 423] almost to sternness and inflexibility, where principles are involved, where valuable lessons are to be inculcated; and this might come under the head of anger, using that word in a proper sense, in regard to a righteous indignation, exercised for a loving purpose, for doing good; but it should be exercised then only for a time. If justly angry we should see to it that we sin not either with our lips, or in our hearts, in which, at no time, may we entertain any but loving and generous sentiments toward those who are our enemies, or toward those of our friends whom we would assist or instruct or correct.
To be easily provoked is to have a bad temper, fretfulness, bad humor, touchiness, quickness to take offense. This is wholly contrary to the spirit of Love; and whoever is on the Lord's side and seeking to be pleasing to Him and to attain to an overcomer's position should jealously guard himself against this general besetment of our day. To whatever extent this disposition is fostered, or willingly harbored, or not fought against, it becomes an evidence of a deficiency and imperfection of our development in the Holy Spirit of our Father, and of the deficiency of our likeness to our Lord Jesus, our Pattern.
Very few of the evidences of a wrong spirit receive from one's self as much kindness and as many excuses for their continuance as this one. But however much natural depravity and heredity and nervous disorders may tend toward this spirit of fretfulness, taciturnity and touchiness, every heart filled with the Lord's Spirit must oppose this disposition to evil in his flesh, and must wage a good warfare against it.
It will not do to say, "It is my way," for all the "ways" of the fallen nature are bad; and it is the business of the New Creature to overcome the old nature in this as well as other works of the flesh and the Devil. In few ways can we show to our friends and households more than in this the power of the grace of Love. This grace, as it grows, should make every child of God sweet-tempered. In no way can we better show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light than by the exhibition of the spirit of Love in the daily affairs of life.
Have I the spirit of Love which "thinketh no evil," which is guileless, not suspicious of evil or looking for faults in others, not attributing to them evil motives? Have I the Love which seeks always to interpret the conduct of others charitably, to make all possible allowance for errors in judgment rather than to impugn the motives of the heart? Perfect Love is good intentioned itself; it prefers and, so far as possible, endeavors to view the words and conduct of others from the same standpoint. It does not treasure up animosities and suspicions, nor manufacture a chain of circumstantial proofs of evil intentions out of trivial affairs. "Faults are thick where Love is thin" is a very wise proverb.
But where Love passes over offenses and takes no account of them, holding no grudges, this does not mean that Love would treat evil-doers in precisely the same manner that it would treat its friends. It might be proper or even necessary to take some notice of the offenses to the extent of not manifesting the same cordiality as before, but no hatred, malice or strife should be manifested – nothing but kindness and gentleness, leaving the door of opportunity open for a full reconciliation as soon as possible, doing all that could be done to promote a reconciliation and evincing a willingness to forgive and forget the wrong.
Have I the Love that is sincere, that "rejoiceth not in iniquity [in-equity], but rejoiceth in the Truth"? Are the principles of right and wrong so firmly fixed in my mind, and am I so thoroughly in accord with right, and so out of harmony with the wrong, that I am grieved with evils wherever encountered and sympathize with all who fall into evil or who are beset with temptations? Am I so opposed to the wrong that I would not encourage it even if it brought advantage to me? Am I so in accord with right, with Truth, that I could not avoid rejoicing in the Truth and in its prosperity, even to the upsetting of some of my preconceived opinions, or to the disadvantage of some of my earthly interests?
Every one who is seeking to develop in his heart the Holy Spirit, perfect Love, should guard carefully this point of sincerity of motive as well as uprightness of conduct. The least suggestion of rejoicing at the fall of any person or thing that in any degree represents righteousness or goodness is to be deplored and overcome. Perfect "Love rejoiceth not in iniquity" under any circumstances or conditions and would have no sympathy but only sorrow in the fall of another, even if it should mean his own advancement.
The Love of God, which the Apostle here describes as the spirit of the Lord's people, is a love which is far above all selfishness and is based upon fixed principles which should, day by day, be more distinctly discerned and always firmly adhered to at any cost. However profitable error might be, Love could take no part in it [R4919 : page 423] and could not desire the reward of evil. But it does take pleasure in the Truth – truth upon every subject, and especially in the Truth of Divine revelation, however unpopular the Truth may be; however much persecution its advocacy may involve; however much it may cost the loss of the friendship of this world and of those who are blinded by the god of this world. The spirit of Love has such an affinity for the Truth that it rejoices to share loss, persecution, distress or whatever may come against the Truth or its servants. In the Lord's estimate it is all the same whether we are ashamed of Him or ashamed of His Word; and of all such He declares that He will be ashamed when He comes to be glorified in His saints.
Have I the Love that "beareth all things"? that is impregnable against the assaults of evil? that resists evil, impurity, sin and everything that is contrary to Love? that is both able and willing to endure, for the cause of God, reproaches, reproofs, insults, losses, misrepresentations and even death? "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith" – the very life and center of which faith is the Holy Spirit of Love for the Lord and for those that are His and, sympathetically, for the world. Perfect Love can bear up under all circumstances and, by God's grace, bring us off conquerors and "more than conquerors through Him that loved us." – I John 5:4; Rom. 8:37.
Have I the Love that "believeth all things"? that is unwilling to impute evil to another unless forced so to do by indisputable evidences? that would rather believe good than evil about everybody? that would take no pleasure in hearing evil, but would be disposed to resent it? Perfect Love is not suspicious, but is, on the contrary, disposed to be trustful. It acts on the principle that it is better, if necessary, to be deceived a hundred times than to go through life soured by a suspicious mind – far better than to accuse or suspicion even one [R4919 : page 424] person unjustly. This is the merciful disposition, as applied to thoughts; and of it the Master said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." (Matt. 5:7.) The unmerciful, evil-thinking mind is father to unmerciful conduct toward others.
Have I the Love that "hopeth all things," that perseveres under unfavorable conditions, and continues to hope for and to labor for those who need my assistance? Have I the Love that "endureth all things," that continues to hope for the best in regard to all and to strive for the best, and that with perseverance? Perfect Love is not easily discouraged. This is the secret of Love's perseverance: having learned of God, and having become a partaker of His holiness, it trusts in Him and hopes undismayed for the fulfilment of His gracious Covenant, however dark the immediate surroundings.
This hopeful element of Love is one of the striking features in the perseverance of the saints, enabling them to endure hardness as good soldiers. Its hopeful quality hinders it from being easily offended, or easily stopped in the work of the Lord. Where others would be discouraged or put to flight, the spirit of Love gives endurance, that we may war a good warfare, and please the Captain of our salvation. Love's hopefulness knows no despair, for its anchorage enters into that which is beyond the veil, and is firmly fastened to the Rock of Ages.
Let us, Beloved, with all our getting, get Love – not merely in word but in deed and in truth – the Love whose roots are in the new heart, begotten in us by our Heavenly Father's Love, and exemplified in the words and deeds of our dear Redeemer. All else sought and gained will be but loss and dross unless, with all, we secure LOVE!
"It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." – Rom. 14:21.
In this text the Apostle is not referring to a matter where there might be merely a difference of opinion as between meat and vegetable diet. Such a question each should decide for himself. If one finds a flesh diet injurious to him, he should abstain. If, on the contrary, he finds that flesh diet is beneficial to him, he should use it. The Apostle's thought in connection with the eating of meat was in reference to religious convictions. In his time it was the custom for people to eat meat which had been offered to idols. No Jew would care to eat such meat. With a Christian it would be different. He would understand that it did not affect the meat to wave it before wooden idols, etc. Yet the Apostle goes on to show that to some it would seem a crime to eat meat that had been offered to an idol.
The Apostle's thought is that our conscience is the most important thing we have to deal with and should always be obeyed. The brother who would violate some one's conscience by eating the meat would be stumbling and harming that person. Thus a stronger brother would injure a weaker brother. And this was what the Apostle meant. In the case of a brother who could not see as clearly as we, not only should we not seek to break down his conscience, but we should not permit even our influence to break it down.
It would be very proper for us in the case of a weak brother to explain the matter from our standpoint. This would not be seeking to break down his conscience, but to educate it. Then, if he should eat such meat with impunity – without the disapprobation of his conscience – we have thus made him a strong brother rather than a weak one; and this should be to his advantage. The Apostle urges that we should be on the lookout for the interests of the brethren.
St. Paul here is evidently laying down a broad principle of self-denial in the interest of others – a principle which applies primarily to the Church, but also to the world. He applies this principle, not merely to religion and to eating meat offered to idols, but he extends the matter, saying, "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak."
There might be some weak brother to whom wine might be a great temptation, a snare. The Apostle urges that, while there is nothing in the Scriptures to forbid the use of wine, and while he really recommended it to Timothy, whose stomach was weak, nevertheless, our liberties should be limited by the surroundings. We know that wine was used much more then than now, and is much more used in Europe than in this country; nevertheless, we know that the effect of alcohol is much more hurtful to the nerves of people now, because the race is so much weaker than in our Lord's day.
When there was no particular danger along this line our Lord and the Apostles seem to have used these things with moderation. They also counseled moderation – "Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Cor. 10:31); and we should not use our liberty in any way that would stumble a brother in any sense of the word. God's people are to have love, to be willing to sacrifice self-gratification in the interest of others.
So far as we are able to discern, intoxication is one of the most terrible evils scourging our race at the present time. Many are so weak through the fall, by heredity, that they are totally unable to resist the influence of intoxicants. Is it too much to ask of those who have consecrated their lives to the Lord, to righteousness and to the blessing of others, that they should deny themselves in this matter, and thus lay down some liberties and privileges in the interest of the brethren, and of the world in general?
Similar arguments might be used respecting the use of tobacco, cards and the various implements which the Adversary uses in luring mankind into sin. The whole, be it noted, is the argument of Love. In proportion as we grow in the graces of our Lord, in His Spirit of [R4919 : page 425] Love, we shall be glad, not only to put away all filthiness of the flesh for our own sakes, thus to be more like the Lord, but also, at the instance of Love, we shall desire to put away from us everything that might have an evil influence upon others, whatever we might consider our personal liberties to be in respect to them.
Another illustration of this principle would be in the observance of Sunday. The Jews thought it wrong even to build a fire on the Sabbath; and any one who was found picking up sticks on that day was stoned to death. We do not consider it wrong to do on Sunday whatever might be done on other days. But would it be wise to [R4920 : page 425] use this liberty? Our conduct might have an injurious effect upon others and so discount all that we could say to them along religious lines. They would say: "These people are not good. They do not keep God's holy day." They would not understand.
It would be well for us to keep Sunday more particularly than any other people in the world. In fact, we very likely keep it better than others; and this is right. This error of Christendom has worked good for us. We can have a day full of spiritual enjoyment. If the world understood it as we do there would be no Sunday to keep. On our part we would be very glad if there could be three or four Sundays in a week. In fact, with us, every day should be Sunday. We are seeking to serve God, the main object of life being to preach the Gospel, and to enjoy the "good tidings" – the Message of God's Word.
Our relationship to God is that of the New Creation, a heart relationship; and the blessing which the Lord gives us is as newly begotten children – not along lines of the flesh, but along the lines of the spiritual and of heart development, which shall ultimately be perfected in the resurrection.
True, whom the Son makes free "shall be free indeed" (John 8:36), and we should all seek to "Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free" (Gal. 5:1); but it is also true that we should be on guard lest we use our liberty in such a manner as to stumble others weaker than ourselves, not able to use the liberty of Christ discriminatingly, sometimes through lack of knowledge.
The liberty wherewith Christ makes free may be viewed from two standpoints: if it gives us liberty to eat without restraint, in a manner that the Jews were not at liberty to eat, it gives us liberty also to abstain; and whoever has the Spirit of Christ and is seeking to follow in His steps has already covenanted with the Lord to use his liberty, not in the promotion of his fleshly desires, ambitions and appetites, but in self-sacrifice, following in the footsteps of the Master, seeking to lay down his life, even, on behalf of the brethren – for their assistance. How different are these two uses of liberty! Its selfish use – as well as the selfish use of knowledge – would mean self-gratification, regardless of the interests of others; the loving use would prompt to self-sacrifice in the interests of others.
Knowledge does not necessarily mean a great growth in spirituality. A mite of soap will make a very large air bubble; and so a comparatively little knowledge might puff one up greatly, without any solidity of character. There is, therefore, great advantage in measuring one's self by growth in love rather than by growth merely in knowledge – though, of course, to be great in both knowledge and love would be the ideal condition. The Apostle inculcates this same lesson, asserting, "Though I have all knowledge and have not love I am nothing."
Knowledge without love would be an injury; and to consider it otherwise would imply that real knowledge has not yet been secured; but to the contrary of this the same Apostle says, "If any man love God, the same is known of Him." (I Cor. 13:2; 8:3.) We might have a great deal of knowledge and yet not know God and not be known or recognized by Him; but no one can have a large development of true love in his character without personally knowing the Lord and having obtained the spirit of love through fellowship with Him. Hence the getting of love is sure to build us up substantially (thus avoiding the inflation of pride) in all the various graces of the Spirit, including meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness, knowledge, wisdom from above and the spirit of a sound mind.
Love, after securing knowledge and liberty, will look about to see what effect the use of liberty might have upon others; and will perceive that by reason of differing mental conditions – perceptions, reasoning faculties, etc. – all could not have exactly the same standpoint of knowledge and appreciation of principles. Love, therefore, would forbid the use of knowledge and liberty if it perceived that their exercise might work injury to another.
But why? What principle is involved that would make it incumbent upon one whose conscience is clear to consider the conscience of another? Why not let the person of a weak conscience take care of his own conscience, and eat or abstain from eating as he felt disposed? The Apostle explains that this would be right if it were possible; but that the person of weaker mind, feebler reasoning powers, is likely to be weaker in every respect and, hence, more susceptible to the leadings of others, into paths which his conscience could not approve, because of his weaker reasoning powers or inferior knowledge.
One might, without violation of conscience, eat meat that had been offered to idols, or even sit at a feast in an idol temple, without injury to his conscience; but the other, feeling that such a course was wrong, might endeavor to follow the example of his stronger brother, and thus might violate his conscience, which would make the act a sin to him.
Every violation of conscience, whether the thing itself be right or wrong, is a step in the direction of wilful sin. It is a downward course, leading further and further away from the communion and fellowship of the Lord, and into grosser transgressions of conscience and, hence, possibly leading to the Second Death. Thus the Apostle presents the matter: "And through thy knowledge shall the weak one perish – the brother for whom Christ died?" The question is not, Would it be a sin to eat the meat offered to idols? but, Would it be a sin against the spirit of love, the law of the New Creation, to do anything which could reasonably prove a cause of stumbling to our brother, not only to the brethren in Christ, the Church, but even to a fellow-creature according to the flesh? – for Christ died for the sins of the whole world.
Let us take our stand with the Lord and determine that, in regard to using our liberties in any manner that might do injury to others, we will refuse so to use them; and will rather sacrifice them for the benefit of others, even as our Master, our Redeemer, gave all that He had. Let us adopt the words of the Apostle and determine once for all that anything that would injure a brother we will not do – any liberty of ours, however reasonable in itself, that would work our brother's injury, that liberty [R4920 : page 426] we will not exercise; we will surrender it in his interest; we will sacrifice it; we will to that extent lay down our life for him.
"Thus sinning against the brethren, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat maketh my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh forevermore, that I make not my brother to stumble." – I Cor. 8:13, R.V.
Our readers have fully in mind also that the call of this Age is for sacrificers only – to follow our Redeemer's footsteps of self-denial, even unto death. This was our Lord's proposal: "Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it." (Matt. 10:39.) St. Paul reiterated and expounded this saying, "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God," for "If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him." – Rom. 12:1; 2 Tim. 2:12.
St. Paul directly associates the sufferings of the Church with the sufferings of the Redeemer, and both with the "better sacrifices" of the Day of Atonement. He says, pointing back to the type, "Let us go to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach." (Heb. 13:11-15.) Here the Apostle refers to the fact that as our Lord Jesus fulfilled the antitype of the "bullock," we should fulfil the antitype of the "Lord's goat" of the Day of Atonement. As the "bullock" was slain, so our Lord fulfilled that feature by the consecration of His life to death at His baptism. As the "bullock's" body (except the fat and the blood) was then dragged outside the camp and burned, so our Lord suffered shame, ignominy, destruction of the flesh, to accomplish the antitype.
Likewise we, who have accepted the call of this Age ("Gather together my saints unto Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice"), should fulfil the antitype of the Lord's goat. As the body of that "Lord's goat" passed through the same experiences as those of the "bullock," so we should, like our Lord, first make a full covenant of sacrifice and then fulfil the burning of the flesh of the Lord's goat by suffering shame, ignominy and revilings, even unto death. Only those who thus suffer with the Redeemer for righteousness' [R4921 : page 426] sake will reign with Him as the Royal Priesthood of the Millennium.
The "scape-goat" shows a class which, after making consecration and being accepted and spirit-begotten, refuse or neglect to "go to Him outside the camp bearing His reproach" – even unto death. This class does not repudiate the Redeemer, nor "the blood of the Covenant wherewith they were sanctified." As the "scape-goat" remained tied at the door of the Tabernacle, so these in antitype remain loyal, outwardly, to their consecration, but bound – as the Apostle declares, "who through fear of death were all their life time subject to bondage."
The Lord will "deliver" these, however, but not to the glory, honor and immortality which He will bestow upon the class antityping the Lord's goat. Their deliverance will mean tribulations, which will test their loyalty by forcing them into the "wilderness" of sorrow, disappointment, separation. They may suffer just as much tribulation as the Lord's goat class as they go unto death. The difference is that one class endures willingly, voluntarily, joyfully, while the other endures under compulsion of circumstances; or, failing so to endure, is cut off in the Second Death, and is not represented in the experiences of either of those goats.
Some erroneously think of the two goats as representing two different classes from start to finish. Not so; they represent the finished classes only – those who "sin wilfully" (Heb. 6:4-8 and 10:26,27) being entirely ignored, because they fail entirely and go into the Second Death.
Until the finish it may not be known where any of those consecrated to sacrifice may terminate their race. "Ye are called in one hope of your calling" – the hope that we may be of the Lord's goat class. Some for a time may appear to be fulfilling the part of the Lord's goat, but later they may "become weary and faint in their minds" and seem to fulfil the experiences typified in the "Scape-Goat;" yet eventually they may allow pride or some other form of selfishness to quench the Holy Spirit whereby they were sealed and may be dropped entirely from the favor of God and treated as His enemies – and be destroyed in the Second Death.
On the other hand, many are so slow of development, so slow to be quickened by the Lord's Spirit to sacrifice for the Truth or for righteousness' sake, that it may for years appear as though they would belong to the "scape-goat" class. Yet later some of these receive the light of Truth more clearly and by their noble self-sacrifices apparently show that they finish the race as members of the Lord's goat class.
Nothing is determined or fixed in respect to any of us until our tests have all been passed. St. Paul, after having sacrificed much, after having experienced many sufferings of Christ as a tentative member of the Lord's goat class, and even after being honored of the Lord as a special mouthpiece, wrote: "I keep my body under (in subjection to the new will and its consecration to sacrifice), lest after having preached to others I myself might be a castaway." – I Corinthians 9:27.
Brethren, the Lord's goat's experiences are the type of what the Lord would have fulfilled in us if we would attain the crown of glory, the honor and the immortality promised to the faithful – the Bride class. There will indeed be a secondary class of "virgins" who foolishly hold back from sacrificing their little all, and who consequently will fail to become members of the Bride of the Lamb. These, after demonstrating an inferior loyalty, will follow the Bride into scenes of glory as her honored servants. (Psalm 45:14.) These are represented in the scape-goat.
If any reader realizes that he has not been zealously and voluntarily suffering with his Savior, laying down [R4921 : page 427] time and strength, reputation and life in His service he is realizing his danger of being counted in as one of the scape-goat class, or worse. Such should quickly arouse himself or herself and appeal in prayer to the Master for grace and faith to walk in His steps of voluntary sacrifice. He should also seek to "arm himself with the same mind" that the Lord had by studying afresh the "exceeding great and precious promises" of God's Word. He should at once "Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset (whichever weakness may be his special besetment) and run with patience the race set before him" in the gospel – the narrow way. He should indeed, Look unto Jesus, the Author of our faith, who is also to be the finisher of it. He should consider Him lest he be weak and faint in his mind and thus fail to be an overcomer. – Heb. 12:1-3.
"The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" – Psa. 27:1.
Nehemiah looked into the matter and found that the wealthy Jews had advanced money to their poor neighbors on mortgages at exorbitant interest rates, and they were thus profiting by the calamities of their brethren. He called them together and had a plain but kind talk with them respecting the brotherly obligations required by the Law – "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." He gave them a practical exemplification of his good exhortations. The wealthy Jews were abashed. They acknowledged the injustice of their course and rectified matters. Here we see the power of noble character and good example in its influence upon others. As custom and example foster unjust methods and usage makes right in the minds of many, so likewise examples of justice are powerful in opposition to wrong. Thus every Christian owes it to himself and to God and the principles of righteousness which he represents, not only to take the proper stand, but also to let this stand for righteousness be known to others as reproofs of unrighteousness.
No sooner had the prevailing difficulties been successfully combated than a new foe arose. The outside enemies, perceiving that the wall was about finished, and that only the hanging of the gates remained to complete the defenses of Jerusalem, tried new tactics. They professed a desire to reconsider the whole matter – to meet with Nehemiah for discussions of their business and fresh examination of his papers of authority from the King. But he replied that his work was a great one, very important, and that he could not take time for discussion. He had time to discuss with his brethren; he had time to show them as the people of God the right and wrong of each important question, but he had no time to dispute about outside matters while his important mission was unfinished.
There is a lesson in this for Christians. We should always have time to discuss God's Word and His love with the brethren. We should always have time to give to everyone that asks a reason for the hope that is in us. But surely while important interests of God's cause are needing our attention we have no time to give to discussing outside questions which St. Paul denominates "science falsely so called." We are to have the same mind on the subject as St. Paul expressed, saying, "I have determined to know nothing amongst you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Anything relating to Jesus as God's anointed Son, the Messiah, or anything relating to His crucifixion and the hopes built thereon, St. Paul was ready to discuss at any time. The defense of this cause and subject was his special business in life. Although he was well educated and well informed on topics of general interest, he acted as though he were ignorant of those things that he might give all his influence and time to the one paramount matter – to the cause for which he was an ambassador.
Four times the outsiders sought to converse with Nehemiah; [R4921 : page 428] four times he declined, not only because of the importance of the work he was doing, but because additionally he perceived that they were merely urging this as a pretext for the conference which was to be held in a village twenty miles from Jerusalem on neutral ground, and during Nehemiah's absence they might overpower the garrison of Israel and destroy the work already accomplished, or they might do him violence at the conference, or both.
Finally, the enemies resorted to the usual weapons of slander. They did not charge directly that Nehemiah sought to make himself king of the Jews, with Jerusalem its capital, and that he was secretly employing men to speak favorably for him amongst the people, but in an open letter sent declared that these things were commonly reported amongst all the people – they were "common gossip;" and by way of giving personality and force the letter added, "And Gesham saith that thou and the Jews think to [R4922 : page 428] rebel, for which cause thou buildest the wall; and that thou desirest to be their king."
This message was sent by Sanballat in a complimentary way as though he were a friend and hoped to save Nehemiah from trouble with the king, and he still urged him to come to the counsel which was to be held for his interest. Nehemiah's answer was quite to the point: "There are no such things done as thou sayest; thou feignest them out of thine own heart." The object evidently was to alarm the Jews and to thus discourage the completion of their work.
How cruel are the multitudinous methods of slander! How contrary they are to everything that is right, not to mention the highest of all standards, Christian love! Nevertheless, how frequently God's people are ensnared by the spirit of slander. How grievous are the wrongs thus accomplished; how unbearable is the injustice inflicted; how dreadful are the responsibilities incurred! Assuredly those who lend their lips to slander are correspondingly opening their hearts to the Adversary. Not only is evil speaking condemned in the Scriptures but also by all noble men and women, even though heathen. Even when Nehemiah's life was threatened, his consciousness of loyalty to God and of Divine guidance kept him without fear. We close by quoting the poem, "Three Gates of Gold": –
"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." – Psa. 19:7.
It was an immense Bible class and aroused deep interest. As the people heard the words of the Divine Law, and realized that they had failed to keep that Law – even to the extent of their ability – they perceived the reason why the Lord had allowed various chastisements, captivities, etc., to come upon them. They perceived that such was His covenant with them; that obedience on their part was to be rewarded with blessings and prosperity, and disobedience with punishment, captivity, etc. The realization of sin brought sorrow and tears – the people wept sore.
Then Nehemiah, Ezra and others explained to the people, directly and through the Levites, that this was not a time for tears, but, on the contrary, a time for rejoicing. They were not only to remember the severity of God in punishing the wrongdoings of their fathers, but they were to remember also His mercies now returning to them, and especially to appreciate the fact that He had again sent to them the Law, and thus indicated His willingness to receive them back again to His favor. They were reminded that the very Law which foretold the punishments declared also God's mercy, and that when they [R4923 : page 428] would repent He would forgive and restore them to His favor. Thus their tears were turned to smiles, their mourning to rejoicing.
Nehemiah's message was: "Go your way; eat the fat and drink the sweet, and send portions unto those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy unto our Lord; neither be ye grieved, for the Lord is your Strength."
The declaration is that they "caused the people to understand the Law." There is evidently great need of just such instruction today. Nominal Spiritual Israel is in a dilapidated condition because of the lack in understanding God's Word. We seem to be in the time referred to by the Prophet, saying, "There shall be a famine in the land," saith the Lord, "not a famine for bread, neither a famine for water, but a famine for the hearing of the Word of the Lord." – Amos 8:11.
Many imagine that they are familiar with the teachings of the Bible, when in reality they are familiar with one or another of the creeds of the darker past, all of which contain some truth with considerable error, we must all admit. Our great mistake has been in assuming that our confessions of faith and all of our creeds strongly and fully represent the Bible's teachings. This mistake has already been costly. Thousands of the most generous minds have been turned away from the Bible by the mistaken supposition that the creeds properly represent its teachings. Assured that they could no longer endorse [R4923 : page 429] any Christian creed as a whole, these bright minds have renounced them and the Bible as well.
The necessary thing to be done is to resume Bible study, and that without our creedal spectacles. Our forefathers who made our creeds participated more or less in persecutions of each other which we today entirely condemn. They were as honest, doubtless, as are we, but they had less light – they lived in a darker Age. The belief that God is torturing thousands of millions of His creatures led some of our well-intentioned forefathers to torture one another in God's name, in a manner which we today cannot endorse as being either just or loving or Christlike.
Why then should we assume that those creeds are correct in all particulars? Should we not the rather see that if so good a man as brother John Calvin committed so great a mistake as to sign the warrant which sent a brother Christian, Servetus, to the stake, this proves that there was something wrong with Calvin's theological ideas, which lie at the foundation of nearly all of our Protestant creeds?
With the wonderful Bibles which we possess today, found in nearly every Christian home, we should know more of its teachings than any of our forefathers could possibly have known. Not only has education aided in this respect, but our Bibles are conveniently formed, and we have study-aids, in the form of concordances, marginal references, etc. Is it not time to strive as Levites and spiritual Israelites to turn afresh to the Bible and instruct the people respecting its teachings?
We are not advocating merely the reading of so many chapters a day, or the committing of verses to memory, nor the ordinary Sunday School lessons. We advocate a reconstruction of our faith upon the basis of the Bible only. Surely if all of God's people could take from their minds their creed spectacles and study the Word afresh in its own light, a great blessing would speedily follow. The Bible students would soon become one with each other and with the Father, and with the Lord Jesus Christ – the one Church of the Living God mentioned in the Scriptures, with one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all.
There is a power for good in the Word of God which can be found nowhere else. Higher Criticism has much responsibility in connection with the growing lawlessness of the world. "The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul" – transforming the being. The Higher Critics in all of our colleges and seminaries are doing a terribly destructive work, in comparison to which the work of Voltaire, Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll were as nothing. It is safe to say that three-fourths of all the graduates of all colleges within the last thirty years have been unbelievers in the Bible, and that their influence has been used persistently to undermine the faith of others. The errors which led them to infidelity are liable to influence others. The Bible itself is a study, and only what it teaches should be believed whether favorable to or contrary to our former creeds.
Answer. – If our Lord Jesus did not possess the right to earthly life as an asset, in order to give that right to Adam and his race during the Millennial reign, then He could not properly be spoken of as the Father of that race. He could not regenerate the race unless He had a life to give, an earthly life.
Question. – Should the sweet incense burned by the high priest, and which represented the perfections of the man Jesus, be understood as having been offered also by the members of the body of the high priest, the under priests? If so, how was this shown?
Answer. – Since there is nothing in the account in Leviticus that says that the incense was offered a second time, it is rather improbable that it was offered twice. And yet the thought is there that the sacrifice of the Church, made acceptable by the Atonement effected through Jesus' death, must continue to be presented until death, that these members might eventually be received into glory. "As our Lord was, so are we, in the world." As He was rendering obedience day by day, so are we rendering obedience day by day. As the spirit of loving zeal was demonstrated in His case, so in our case; otherwise we should not be permitted to be members of that Body.
So we might say that the incense which He offered up, in a certain sense and to a certain degree, represented the whole Church, which is His Body; for in harmony with the Divine intention, before the foundation of the world, He was to be the Forerunner, the Representative and the Advocate of those who would be accepted as His members. Hence, in offering up His own perfections, He was offering up that which would, by imputation, be our perfection, as His members.
In view of the fact that nothing was said about offering the incense the second time, and since we do not go into the Holy as individuals, but as members of His Body, we are safe in saying that we are, "in Christ, a sweet savor to God," though a bad savor to the world. "Be ye, therefore, followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us and hath given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor." "For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ." (Eph. 5:1,2; 2 Cor. 2:15; Rev. 8:3,4.) "Therefore, let us offer the sacrifices of praise to God continually"; "for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." – Heb. 13:15,16.
In the present time the Court represents the condition of all those who, exercising faith in God, are approaching nearer and nearer to Him and His service. Such are in favor with God because of their spirit of loyalty to Him, which leads them to go on step by step to know and to do His perfect will. God's perfect will respecting all those called in this Age is that they shall present their bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to Him through the imputed merit of their Advocate – their Redeemer. But if, after full opportunity to know and to do His will, these hold back and refuse to make a consecration, from that time onward theirs will be a backward course in which there will be less and less of Divine favor, until they will be back again in the world. But even then [R4922 : page 430] God's purposes for them are generous, for they may share with mankind in general the gracious provisions of the New Covenant for the thousand years of Messiah's reign.
Those who make the covenant of sacrifice and thereby pass from the Court into the Holy enter into the highest favor with God, as children of God and joint-heirs with Jesus. But if, later, they fearfully hold back and neglect to complete their sacrifice, they may not remain in so close a fellowship, but will eventually be expelled into the Court. There they will, indeed, be in God's favor as the Great Company class, unless they entirely draw back, in which event their portion will be the Second Death.
I have just returned home, enjoying eight days at the convention. This convention was to me a great spiritual uplift, and I write to say that while I have never been in opposition to the Vow, yet had never seen the necessity of making it my own until September 4, when present at the morning prayer, praise and testimony meeting. I ask your prayers that I may be able by God's grace to keep it until I stand complete in Him.
Yours in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: –
"The Rev. Dr. Theodore Clapp, in his autobiography, says he had preached, at New Orleans, a zealous sermon for endless punishment; that after the sermon Judge W., who, says he, was an eminent scholar and had studied for the ministry but relinquished his purpose because he could not find the doctrine of endless punishment and kindred dogmas, asked him to make out a list of texts in the Hebrew and Greek on which he relied for the doctrine. The Doctor then gives a detailed account of his studies in search of texts to give to the Judge.
"He began his study with the Old Testament in the Hebrew, and prosecuted it during that and the succeeding year, and yet was unable to find therein so much as an allusion to any suffering after death; that in the dictionary of the Hebrew language he could not discern a word signifying a place of punishment in a future state; that he could not find a single text in any form of phraseology which holds out threats of retribution beyond the grave; that to his utter astonishment it turned out that Orthodox critics of the greatest celebrity were perfectly familiar with these facts. [R4924 : page 430]
"He was compelled to confess to the Judge that he could not produce any Hebrew text. But still he was sanguine that the New Testament would furnish what he had sought for without success in Moses and the Prophets. He prosecuted his study of the Greek of the New Testament eight years. The result was that he could not name a portion of it, from the first verse in Matthew, to the last of Revelation, which, fairly interpreted, affirms that a part of mankind will be eternally miserable.
"The Doctor concludes by saying: 'It is an important and most instructive fact that I was brought into my present state of mind (the repudiation of the dogma of eternal torment) by the Bible only – a state of mind running counter to all the prejudices of my early life, of parental precept, of school, college, theological seminary, and professional caste.'
"How could the Doctor expect to find any such teaching in the New Testament, after he discovered that it was not found either in Moses or in any other of the Prophets? And if he could have found any passage in his Greek of the New Testament which might seem to teach what he could not find on so fundamental a matter in Moses and the Prophets, would he have accepted it as genuine?"OLIVER SPENCER HALSTED,
"Ex-Chancellor State of New Jersey."
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: –
Yours dated August 9 reached me today, and I praise the Lord for all His goodness. It seems that the Lord is answering the prayers of thousands here in India. May the Father bring you speedily so that you may proclaim the glad tidings here also. It would be a great disappointment to the friends here if you should omit them. You can hold meetings in three places in Travancore. There is a little improvement in the traveling, as a motor service was recently started between three important places.
Your brother and servant in the harvest field,
I should like to tell you that I have made the Vow my own. I have already told you orally, but know you like to have it in writing. I have been rejoicing in the knowledge of the Truth for three years.
I took the Vow shortly after consecrating, but it is especially of help just of late. The part I find so helpful is this – "All my thoughts." I find that as surely as we think a thing, so surely, in some unguarded moment, does it come out. So with the dear Lord's help I am striving daily to cleanse my thoughts.
I would like to tell you that although I am having, and have had, repeated trials – in fact, my life from a temporal standpoint is all worry and trial – yet I would go through it all again rather than lose the corresponding blessing. The Lord has indeed given me good measure, pressed down and running over. I do wish to be faithful unto death.
I am sure the Lord is providing good, wholesome food. I want to keep to the table He has spread, and to keep my heart in the right condition. I pray the Heavenly Father daily for yourself and all the dear Harvest workers. Rejoicing in the Lord for His goodness and mercy, believe me,
Yours in the dear Lord,
Being somewhat familiar with the subject of incubation, I submit the following as illustrative of the development of the New Creature: We are not able to determine at the time of filling the incubator whether the eggs are fertile or sterile. At the first testing the sterile eggs are sorted out and removed, as they would lower the temperature of the egg chamber, not developing the degree of heat perceptible in the fertile egg.
At the next testing there are found to be eggs that were fertile and in which the development had progressed to a certain degree. Under inspection these are proved to be lifeless, the germ of the new being having died, and, further progress toward development being impossible, these are removed from the incubator, as they would not only lower the temperature of the egg chamber, but they would befoul the atmosphere. The effect of these "bad eggs" is to weaken the vitality of the live embryos.
Does not the Lord accept to the knowledge of the Truth both naturally-minded and spiritually-minded persons? Only those actually begotten of the spirit are represented in the "fertile" eggs. But are there not many who come under the influence of the Truth who, after testing, fail to reveal the warmth and life – the zeal represented in the heat of the "fertile" egg?
When a Spirit-begotten New Creature, after having received the germ of the new being, the new mind, the mind of Christ, and after having progressed to some extent in the new life, discloses the fact that the new life has died, does he not give evidence of this fact by a course somewhat similar to the egg in the incubator? Does not the Lord find it necessary to remove such from the fellowship of those who still have the life and the vitality of the Spirit lest their coldness and general offensiveness jeopardize the interests of the other live embryos of spiritual being?
Is it not also true that the dead embryos reveal offensiveness in proportion to the advance in their stage of development? Is it not observable that the persons who were never begotten of the Spirit, even if they have been defiled by sin, never seem to reach the depths of heart-defilement revealed in those who once "tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made [R4924 : page 431] partakers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted the powers of the world to come?" This would seem to be illustrated in the difference in the measure of corruption of the fertile and the sterile egg.
Praying the Master's rich blessing upon your service and labor of love, I remain your brother in the fellowship of Christ,
(63) How should we put into practice the Apostle's exhortation in Heb. 10:24? P. 308.
(71) What is the principal lesson taught in I Cor. 14 regarding the nature of meetings in the early Church? P. 313, par. 2.