|VOL. XXXIII||JANUARY 15||No. 2|
|Views from The Watch Tower||27|
|Pulpit Has Lost Power||27|
|The Test of Endurance||28|
|Necessity for the Whole Armor||28|
|We Believe the Bible||28|
|Born King of the Jews||29|
|About My Father's Business||30|
|Brother Russell's Letter from Honolulu||31|
|Prepare Ye for the Kingdom||32|
|Necessarily to the Jew First||32|
|"To Marry or Not to Marry?"||33|
|The Praise Belongs to Him (Poem)||34|
|Your "Good Hopes" for 1912||35|
|The Seed and the Covenants||37|
|The Prophets and the Resurrection||37|
|Some Interesting Letters||38|
|In Defense of the Truth||38|
|Experimental Extension Work||38|
'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.
Foreign Agencies: – British Branch: LONDON TABERNACLE, Lancaster Gate, W. German Branch: Unterdorner Str., 76, Barmen. Australasian Branch: Flinders Building, Flinders St., Melbourne. Please address the SOCIETY in every case.
Terms to the Lord's Poor as Follows: – All Bible Students who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for this Journal, will be supplied Free if they send a Postal Card each May stating their case and requesting its continuance. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually and in touch with the Studies, etc.
We have prepared a very neat bookmark of thin white celluloid. On one side of it The Vow is printed in clear type in dark blue ink. On the other side is a picture of the white dove which hangs in the center of Brother Russell's study in Brooklyn. Under the picture is a beautiful poem entitled "The Bridegroom's Dove," which is a real inspiration to Christlikeness. It was our intention to send one of these with each WATCH TOWER receipt, but we find that some were missed.
We now have reports from about ten thousand who have taken The Vow, and we would like each of these to have one of the bookmarks. Any such who have not received one will please send us a post-card so stating, and they will receive one by return mail.
For the benefit of our readers we remark that Brother Russell is very anxious to co-operate with the Newspaper Syndicate which handles his weekly sermons. While he retains fullest liberty in respect to the subject matter of his discourses, he yields other points considerably to the Syndicate's wishes. This will account for his greater care in his clothing, his more frequent use of cabs and parlor cars. The Syndicate insists that Brother Russell's personality has much to do in placing his sermons far and near. And Brother Russell is glad to yield to the Syndicate's business judgment, because he desires that his Gospel message shall be heard the world around.
Sister Smith of Nebraska recently discovered one stalk of beans which she declares yielded so prolifically that she calls it the Millennial Bean. She desires to get the beans into the hands of others, and at the same time to make a donation to our Tract Fund for the sending forth of free spiritual food to the hungry. Accordingly the beans have been sent to our office.
We believe the project quite a proper one, and if the beans be as prolific elsewhere as in Nebraska, we would be glad to purchase them at the rate of five beans for one dollar. (We have heard of seed wheat selling at one dollar per grain.)
Sister Smith writes that they should be planted one bean to the hill, and the hills six feet apart. They should be planted in April. They keep bearing right along for weeks, and five should supply a small family. They will be ready to ship in February.
It is known that only about three out of every one hundred operated upon for appendicitis really have a diseased appendix needing removal. We give below a simple cure for appendicitis symptoms. The pain in the appendix region is caused by the biting of worms near the junction of the transverse colon with the small intestines, low down on the right side of the abdomen.
This remedy is recommended also for typhoid fever, which is also a worm disease. The medicine is Santonine: dose, 3 grains, an hour before breakfast; repeated for four mornings, or until all the symptoms disappear. Then one dose per month for three months to eradicate all germs.
THE Rev. Lyman Abbott, of New York, spoke sadly of the decadence of the power of the pulpit, addressing 3,000 University of Wisconsin men and women at a convention at Madison, Wis. 'It is said the cloth has lost its power – it has,' said Dr. Abbott. 'It is said the pulpit has lost its power – it has. But a man, altruistic in the highest sense and spiritual, will never lose his power.'"* * * – Press Report.
It was certainly appropriate that Dr. Abbott should make the above statement to college people. Admitting the facts, let us find also their cause. It is because of the inconsistency of its teaching that the pulpit has lost its power with the masses. The pulpit backs up and endorses the teachings of all the colleges of our day along the lines of Higher Criticism and Evolution. The people are coming to understand that this means that the pulpit is in antagonism to the Bible. If Evolution be true, man never fell and hence needed no Redeemer and no saving from a fallen state, but needed merely to be let alone in his evolutionary progress. According to Higher Criticism the Bible in general is unreliable. Moses never wrote the books accredited to him, and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and others never wrote the books accredited to them – never were inspired of God to write these books. And if this be true, then Jesus and the Apostles were deceived and could not have been inspired by God when they quoted from these sacred writings of the past and declared them to be the Word of God and vouched for their authorship.
On the other hand the public notice that the very ministers who thus preach Evolution, Higher Criticism, unbelief in the Divine Revelation, keep right along preaching some of the absurdities which our forefathers claimed were in harmony with the Bible. Is it any wonder that the people are coming to see the inconsistency of such a position? How long might they expect to be blind to it? What must be the influence?
The result is that the masses have less and less confidence in the clergy. The people do not know what the clergy believe even when they hear them speak, for their address may be from the standpoint of the creeds or from the standpoint of Higher Criticism, according to their moods. The result of this uncertain sounding of the trumpet is that the masses are coming to the conclusion that the whole matter of religion is a big guess and that some of the guesses are influenced by temporal considerations. No wonder Church attendance is slim! No wonder doubt and skepticism are prevalent! No wonder that faith in the Bible is undermined and religion made to look ridiculous and contradictory!
The unbelief of the people grows and threatens to become agnosticism, or worse, atheism! Those who have brought about this condition of things during the past thirty years are the college professors and the best educated pulpiteers of Christendom. And now they stand astonished at the results, which they should have foreseen. Verily they are fulfilling the Divine prophecies of Isaiah, which, referring to our day, declare, "The wisdom of their wise men shall perish; the understanding of their prudent men shall not be manifest." (Isa. 29:14.) No wonder the civilized world is in trepidation as it sees the onward march of Socialism! And however honest and well-intentioned many Socialists may be, the result of their effort will spell anarchy and a time of trouble such as the world has never yet seen – a time of trouble, however, predicted by Daniel the Prophet, whose prediction was endorsed by Jesus Himself. – Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21.
What is the remedy? No remedy can possibly reach the disease! The Bible rightly understood is the balm of Gilead which alone could have helped. But matters have gone so far that comparatively few have sufficient confidence in the Bible to be willing to make a re-examination of it in the light of the Divine Plan of the Ages, which alone shows the harmony of the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation.
But while we cannot hope to stem the tide of "higher critical," evolutionary infidelity – while we cannot hope to counteract the influences of more than half of Christendom and of three-fourths of all the pulpits of Christendom, we do hope, by the Lord's grace, to find some of the Truth-hungry sheep and to assist them to an appreciation of the Heavenly Father's Message, given by Jesus, the Apostles and Prophets, but lost during the Dark Ages. We can help them to find the lost key of knowledge, whereby God's Word opens up, revealing to the eyes of faith and obedience a Creator infinite in Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power, a Savior and a great one, able to save to the uttermost all who come unto the Father through Him, and a Divine arrangement and Plan consistent with the Divine character. By these means the Lord's faithful ones will be sustained from falling in this evil day mentioned by the Apostles and Prophets. – Eph. 6:11-13; Psa. 91:7.
"Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off." – 1 Kings 20:11.
The first gush of enthusiasm in the Lord's service, much as we may and do appreciate it, may be but the hasty production of the shallow soil of a heart which immediately receives the truth with gladness but, having no root in itself, endures but for a time, and afterward, when affliction and persecution arise, immediately is offended. (Mark 4:16,17.) Such characters cannot stand the fiery tests of this "evil day," whereof it is written – "The fire [of that day] shall try every man's work, of what sort it is." – 1 Cor. 3:13.
Therefore, says the Apostle Peter, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." (1 Pet. 4:12.) All of the elect Church must be so tried; and blessed is he that shall endure unto the end. The sure Word of prophecy points to severe conflicts and great trials in the closing scenes of the Church's history. Elijah, a type of the Body of Christ, finished his earthly career and went up by a whirlwind in a chariot of fire – strong symbols of storms and great afflictions. John, another type of the Church, was cast into prison and then beheaded. And we are forewarned of the great necessity of the whole armor of God, if we would stand in this "evil day." – STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Series 2, Chap. 8.
It therefore behooves every one who aspires to the prize of our high calling to brace himself for the severer conflicts and trials of faith and patience that may suddenly and without a moment's warning be sprung upon him. In the battle of this day, as in all other battles, the effort of the Enemy is to surprise and suddenly attack and overwhelm the Lord's people; and the only preparation, therefore, that can be made for such emergencies is constant vigilance and prayer and the putting on of the whole armor of God – the Truth and the spirit of the Truth.
"In your patience possess ye your souls." No other grace will be more needed than this in the fiery ordeals of this "evil day;" for without great patience no man can endure to the end. All along the Christian's pathway, ever and anon, he comes to a new crisis; perhaps these are often seemingly of trivial importance, yet he realizes that they may be turning points in his Christian course. Who has not realized them? There comes a temptation to weariness in well-doing, together with the suggestion of an easier way; or there springs up a little root of pride or ambition, with suggestions of ways and means for feeding and gratifying it. Then there comes, by and by, the decisive moment when you must choose this course or that; and lo, you have reached a crisis!
Which way will you turn? Most likely you will turn in the direction to which the sentiments you have cultivated have been tending, whether that be the right way or the wrong way. If it be the wrong way, most likely you will be unable to discern it clearly; for your long cultivated sentiments will sway your judgment. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof is the way of death." (Prov. 14:12.) How necessary, therefore, is prayer, that in every crisis we may pass the test successfully! Nor can we safely delay to watch and pray until the crisis is upon us; but such should be our constant attitude.
The life of a soldier, ever on the alert and on duty, is by no means an easy life; nor do the Scriptures warrant any such expectation. On the contrary, they say, "Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ;" "Fight the good fight of faith," etc. And yet many Christian people seem to have the very opposite idea. Their ideal Christian life is one without a breeze or a storm; it must be one continuous calm. Such a life was indeed more possible in former days than now, though the world, the flesh and the Devil always have opposed them, and always have had to be resisted by every loyal soldier of the cross. But now the opposition is daily becoming more and more intense; for Satan realizes that his time is short, and he is determined by any and every means to exert his power against the consummation of the Lord's plan for the exaltation of the Church.
Consequently, we have had within this Harvest period many and severe storms of opposition; and still there are doubtless more severe trials to follow. But those who, with overcoming faith, outride them all – who patiently endure, who cultivate the spirit of Christ with its fruits and graces, and who valiantly fight the good fight of faith, rather than withdraw from the field – such will be the "overcomers" to whom the laurels of victory will be given when the crowning day has come.
It is difficult to answer the arguments of our opponents in a few words, when they misunderstand our presentations of more than three thousand pages. If they cannot understand a detailed account, we have no hope of making a brief one satisfactory to them. However, we give here a synopsis: –
III. We affirm the resurrection of Christ – that He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the Spirit. We deny that He was raised in the flesh, and challenge any statement to that effect as being unscriptural.
IV. We affirm, with the Scriptures, that God alone possessed immortality, "dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto." We affirm that this Divine quality has already been granted to the Lord Jesus and is to be the portion of the elect Bride, the "Body of Christ." As for mankind, we affirm the Divine provision for these [R4956 : page 29] and for angels to be everlasting life for the obedient. This, by many, is mistermed immortality. We follow the Scriptures strictly.
V. We hold that the entire race lost life with Father Adam, as a result of his failure in Eden; and that Christ died to secure a second chance for Adam and an individual chance for all of his race, who lost their first chance in Adam when he sinned. "As all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive." (I Cor. 15:21,22.) A few of us, comparatively, having eyes of faith and ears of understanding, have had this second chance in the present life. Adam and the great mass of his posterity must get their second chance after being awakened from the tomb. But NOBODY IS TO GET A THIRD CHANCE!
VI. We believe that the soul was condemned to death. "The soul that sinneth it shall die." We believe that this death would have been eternal, everlasting destruction, had it not been for God's mercy in and through our Lord's redemptive work. By reason of His death our souls do not die in this full sense of the word, but are Scripturally said to "fall asleep," "asleep in Jesus." The awakening will be in the resurrection morning; and the interim will be a period of unconsciousness, beautifully symbolized by a restful sleep.
VII. We believe in the "hell" of the Bible, sheol. This, the only word used for hell for four thousand years, is translated more than one-half the time grave in our Common Version, and should always be thus translated. "Hades," in the New Testament, is its equivalent. "Gehenna fire," of the New Testament, is a symbolical picture declared to signify the Second Death.
VIII. We believe that God is able to destroy "both soul and body" in Gehenna – the Second Death. We consider it much more sane to believe thus, as it is more Scriptural, than to believe that in creating man God did a work which He could not undo; much more reasonable also than to believe He prefers to have the incorrigible suffer eternally, when their sufferings could do neither themselves nor others any good.
IX. We believe that, like the Father and the holy angels, our Lord is a spirit being. We are convinced that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." We do not believe that our Lord has a flesh and blood body, a "little lower than the angels," and has thus been out of harmony with His heavenly environment for nearly two thousand years. We believe the Apostle's statement, "Now the Lord is that Spirit." This is the Jesus who will "so come, in like manner," quietly and unknown to the world, as He went away. We do not affirm, dogmatically, that He came in 1874, but we say that to us it is the evident teaching of the Scriptures. Our Lord warned us not to expect Him in the flesh; that men might say "Lo, here" or "Lo, there." The Harvest work in the universal Church Nominal, the Laodicean period of the Church, well corroborates our expectations of what His work will be, as outlined in His parables, etc.
"Look unto Me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth; for I am God and there is none else." – Isaiah 45:22.
Herod's disquietude is easily understood, but the fact that the people of Jerusalem in general should be disturbed by the annunciation of a king of their own awakens thought. Evidently they were in a very self-satisfied condition; under the Romans they were experiencing great prosperity. Herod, the Edomite, had built them a temple the grandeur of which outshone that of Solomon. The people were feeling so satisfied with their attainments that they had ceased to specially long for and pray for the coming of the Messiah, the long-promised King of the line of David. They were disturbed lest any change should be for the worse – lest it should mean internal strife as between Herod and another and lest it should mean strife with the Roman Empire, which at the time was treating the Jews quite generously.
A very similar condition of things may be expected in conjunction with the second advent of Christ. The powers that be today are styled Christ's Kingdom, "Christendom," but they are really "kingdoms of this world." Any announcement today that Messiah's Kingdom is nigh – that He will soon take unto Himself His great power and reign (Rev. 11:17) – meets with resentment. If in surprise we ask why this indifference respecting the fulfilment of our prayer, "Thy Kingdom come," the answer is, "Let well enough alone; do not agitate that subject; it may bring in strife and contention, because many are prospering so well under the reign of the 'Prince of this world' that they could not look upon a change as likely to bring any improvement in their condition – indeed some of them have reason to fear that Messiah's Kingdom would seriously disturb their entrenched privileges and monopolistic control of the wonderful blessings of our day."
Although King Herod called the priests and teachers of his day to inquire particularly respecting the prophecies of Messiah's birth, and although they answered him correctly, nevertheless, the records show no joy, no enthusiasm, on the part of the religious teachers in respect to the prophetic fulfilment which they had professed to trust in and to long for. They were indifferent; none of them followed to Bethlehem to find the new born King of the Jews. They had become Higher Critics and no longer believed the prophecies; they had less faith in them than had Herod.
And do we not find an antitype in this day? Are not the chief priests and religious leaders generally so out of harmony with the Divine promises and so faithless as respects the glorious Messianic Kingdom of which the Bible tells, that they are ashamed to identify themselves in any degree with those who seek the Lord and wait for His Kingdom? Alas! even the Mohammedans and Brahmins of the East are waiting for Messiah and the Golden Age and disposed to seek the evidences – but amongst the most prominent ministers of "Christendom" there is apparent unbelief, Higher Criticism, Evolution and general opposition to Messiah and His Kingdom. Let the civil government fight down if it chooses everything associated with [R4956 : page 30] the New Dispensation. These are quite indifferent; they have plans and schemes of their own by which they are hoping to accomplish the work predicted for Messiah; they are anxious to raise money and to convert the world without disturbing the present order of things. Alas for them! how clearly they are mistaken! how terrible will be their disappointment when their cherished plans will all fail in a time of trouble which, while it will greatly disappoint them, will prove to be the forerunner of the reign of righteousness for the blessing of all the families of the earth – for the ushering in of "the times of restitution."
Nearly nineteen centuries have passed since the events of this lesson. Israel, instead of being exalted as Messiah's Kingdom, has been wrecked. Was it by mistake that Jesus was announced King of the Jews at His birth, or did God change His plan because the Jews refused Jesus and crucified Him?
Neither suggestion is correct. Jesus is yet to be the King of the Jews and the King of the world. The "mystery" is cleared when we understand that there are two classes of Jews, two classes of Israelites – a heavenly and also an earthly class. Thus there are the two "Seeds of Abraham," one of which is to be as the stars of heaven and the other as the sands of the seashore. The heavenly, the spiritual, must be developed first and be associated with Messiah in glory, honor and immortality, far above angels.
It has required all of this Gospel Age for the selecting of this Spiritual Seed. With its completion a New Age will be inaugurated. Then the earthly blessings promised will be fulfilled to the natural seed of Abraham. "They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit thereof"; "the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall fill the whole earth"; to Him "every knee will bow and every tongue confess," for all who refuse shall be destroyed in the Second Death. (Isa. 65:21; Hab. 2:14; Rom. 14:11.) Messiah is already recognized as Lord by all Spiritual Israelites. During the next Age He will be crowned Lord of all by natural Israel, and all other nationalities will enjoy the privilege of becoming proselyte children of Abraham in the flesh. Messiah will reign in His Mediatorial Kingdom for the very purpose of bringing these blessings to natural Israel and through her to all nations.
The relationship of Messiah to Spiritual Israel, the elect Church, is quite different from what it will be toward the world. He is our Lord and prospective Bridegroom; we are His betrothed and prospective Bride, and joint-heirs of His glory, and are to be associated in His glorious Messianic work. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." – Gal. 3:29.
It will require the entire thousand years of the reign of Christ and His Bride to accomplish that promise – the [R4957 : page 30] blessing of all the families of the earth with full light and knowledge and opportunity for complete return to harmony with God and for the recovery of all that was lost in Adam and redeemed at Calvary. We by faith hail Him as King, even before the establishment of His Kingdom, and loyally and gladly submit ourselves to Him, pledging our lives in the service of His Cause of righteousness and truth. We, when praying, "Thy Kingdom come," are expressing our sympathy with the righteousness which Messiah's Kingdom shall establish and our faith in His promise that we shall sit with Him in His Throne. And when we pray that God's will shall be done on earth as in heaven we are expressing our confidence that the Messianic reign will be glorious and successful to the last degree – overthrowing all evil and adverse conditions and establishing righteousness amongst men on the same permanent foundation that prevails in heaven.
"How is it that ye sought Me? Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" – V. 49.
The surpassing abilities of Jesus are attested by the fact that when He entered the synagogue of His home city, Nazareth, His superiority as a reader and an exponent was so generally recognized that the service was usually turned over to Him. (Luke 4:16.) And yet the people marveled, saying, How comes it that Jesus is a man of letters, having never gone to school? And they all bore Him witness and wondered at the grace of His speech. (Luke 4:22.) The explanation of the matter is that Jesus was perfect while all about Him were imperfect.
Our lesson relates particularly to an incident which occurred when Jesus was twelve years old. His "parents" were strict religionists and obeyed the Mosaic Law by attending regularly the Feast of Passover at Jerusalem every year, and on this occasion Jesus was with them. The expression "parents" does not imply that Saint Luke supposed Joseph to be the father of Jesus any more than that Mary so considered the matter when (verse 48) she spoke of Joseph as being His "father." He was the foster father of Jesus – His foster parent, and Jesus was his foster child; the language is in exact harmony with what we would use under such circumstances today and is not a basis for any just criticism.
As might be surmised, the gathering of Jews from all parts of Palestine, yea, from the entire world, meant great crowds of people; on some occasions more than a million. Different families from different localities usually traveled together as one caravan. It was a Jewish custom that a Jewish boy should be considered "a son of the Law" when he had attained his twelfth year. He then became responsible under the Law and thenceforth was required to keep its festivals, etc. [R4957 : page 31]
At the time in question Jesus had attained His twelfth birthday. He well knew of His peculiar birth and of the great prophecies which centered in Him, related by Gabriel to His mother, and was on the alert to fulfil His mission – to do the will of the Heavenly Father. He surmised that since at twelve years of age Jewish boys came under the requirements of the Law Covenant, this arrangement might possibly have been made as an indication of His proper course and duty – that that was the time at which He should begin His ministry.
Therefore He resolved to consult the very highest authorities respecting the teachings of the Law upon this subject. From time to time He sought intercourse with the learned Scribes and Pharisees and Doctors. He wished to make no mistake; He was therefore not satisfied with simply their opinion, but desired references to the Law and to the Prophets that He Himself might judge and not rely too implicitly upon the conclusions of others. During a considerable part of the time of the Passover Feast the great men of His nation were engaged in public functions, and hence His best opportunity for conference with them was at the close of the feast, and then as He could gain their attention – coming time and again with new questions, with fresh inquiries about other types and symbols and their proper meaning.
When the time came for the return journey He had not finished His investigations of the Scripture teachings on this point. His parents, thinking that He was in the company with some of their relatives, went a day's journey homeward before they ascertained that He was not in the company. Then they returned, journeying another day, and the third day they found Him in the temple with the learned men discussing the question which to Him was the all-important one of the hour – the time at which public ministry might be begun, according to the Law. Evidently He had just finished His quest and found as His satisfactory answer that, although a boy at twelve became amenable to the Law, none could enter upon a teaching or preaching service until thirty years of age. This matter had evidently been settled just prior to the arrival of His parents.
Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, said nothing, allowing his wife, Mary, to chide Jesus with having been negligent of His duty toward them – causing them trouble, grief, annoyance by not coming promptly with them on the return journey. The words of Jesus may be paraphrased thus: Did you not know that I was twelve years of age; was it not your understanding that I had reached the time when I must become a son of the Law? Did you not know that this might mean to me some great responsibility in connection with my service of the Heavenly [R4958 : page 31] Father? Did you not forewarn me that such responsibilities were to be looked for by myself and that I must be diligent to accomplish my mission? Why, then, may I ask, should you be surprised and disappointed in finding that I had tarried behind you? Did it not occur to you that as a son of the Law I might have responsibilities at this time and that I must use every opportunity to be about my Father's business – to do whatever work I should find He has appointed for me? But now I will give you no further trouble. I have ascertained through study and conference with the Doctors of the Law that there is nothing that I can do as a minor in the way of beginning the Father's service. I am therefore ready to return with you to our home, and I assure you that I shall be as loyal and obedient to you as heretofore and that my apparent neglect of your wishes in the present instance was merely because I supposed that you knew that I would be looking out for my Heavenly Father's business and my privileges in connection with it, and that you would therefore not be necessarily expecting me to return home at this time.
In the last verse of our study we read: "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." It was not a boy who was to be the Redeemer, even as it was not a boy who had sinned. Jesus, therefore, to be a corresponding price for Father Adam and the race which lost life in Him, needed first to be developed into manhood.
The verse under consideration covers the period from His twelfth year to His thirtieth. For eighteen years He kept growing in wisdom and in grace of character. He did not grow in the Father's favor in the sense of becoming less sinful and more righteous, but in the sense of becoming more developed – reaching human perfection. Just so a piece of fruit in growing may be as perfect of its kind at the beginning as at the end, but it grows in size and in richness of flavor, and therefore in the appreciation of the owner.
So it was with Jesus. The perfect babe became the perfect boy; the perfect boy became the perfect youth; the perfect youth became the perfect man, and at thirty years of age was ripe and ready to be offered as an acceptable sacrifice of sweet savor to God, on behalf of mankind – "the Just for the unjust."
Beloved in the Lord: I drop this note at Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands. I wish you to know of my continued love for you all. We daily remember you and all the dear Israel of God at the Throne of Heavenly Grace, and feel sure you are remembering us. I will report the journey thus far.
San Antonio gave us a hearty greeting on the 7th. We had meetings all day. The interest and spirit were splendid. That class of Bible students seems to be growing steadily, both in numbers and in grace, yet not without trials.
Los Angeles, Cal., was reached in due time for Sunday services, Dec. 10th. A more hearty welcome could not be asked. "Love Divine, all love excelling," seems to be the secret of this class's progress. About 400 were present in the forenoon, and about 2,100 at the afternoon meeting for the public.
Fresno, Cal., we reached for services on the 11th. About 60 of the friends from surrounding country attended during the day, and at the public meeting at night the attendance was about 500. Matters went exceedingly well, considering that there is no Class of I.B.S.A. there.
San Francisco, Cal., was reached on Dec. 12th (or rather Oakland). Good testimonies in the forenoon showed that the classes here are in splendid condition – [R4957 : page 32] apparently faithful and humble. The afternoon meeting was on consecration and the evening meeting on Baptism. At our request no advertising was done, so the attendance of about 300 must have been chiefly interested people. About 26 symbolized their consecration. The session closed with an enjoyable Love Feast. The next day nearly 100 bade us goodby and sang us away on our journey as the steamship Shinyo Maru left dock.
With much love to you – one and all – your brother and servant,
"Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." – Matthew 3:2.
God proposed from before the foundation of the world that He would redeem man and that He would establish His Kingdom for their restoration from sin and death conditions. The Redeemer of the world was to be the King by whose reign of a thousand years the work of Satan would be undone; the head of the Serpent would be crushed and humanity would be uplifted out of sin and death and be brought back to the condition in which Adam was at first – "very good." The obedient would learn through experience a great lesson, valuable to all eternity; the wilful rejectors would be destroyed without hope or remedy. But previously, from amongst the redeemed would be selected a little company to be associated with the Redeemer in His great work. These would be called the Kingdom – the Kingdom class – the Royal Family – Sons of God.
God promised Abraham, "the friend of God," that this great blessing would come to humanity through his posterity, and indeed all of the saved ones should be known as his posterity in that they would become proselyte members of Israel. Messiah was promised to be of Abraham's seed also, and it was to be through this Messiah that Abraham's natural posterity would be blessed, and would be made a channel of blessing to all nations. One thing not explained to Abraham was that Messiah would have a company of joint-heirs selected from amongst men and counted the "Body of Christ," or "The Bride, the Lamb's Wife."
Although God had not mentioned this elect class which He purposed should be members of the Messiah, or His Bride, nevertheless God determined that the opportunity to become members of this elect, special class should first of all go to Abraham's natural seed. For the three and a half years of Jesus' ministry and for a further three and a half years after His death the privilege of becoming His Bride and joint-heir was limited to Israel after the flesh.
Later it was sent on equal terms also to the Gentiles. Saint Paul tells us that it was necessary that the Gospel Message should go first to the Jews because this was the Divine arrangement. But he adds, "Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for [the best of God's gifts, the privilege of becoming members of the spiritual Israel], but the election hath obtained it and the rest were blinded." (Rom. 11:7.) The blindness is not to be forever, but merely until the completion of the elect, spiritual class – then the blindness is to pass away and Israel is to be saved or recovered to the Divine favor lost eighteen centuries ago. (See Romans 11:25-33.)
Meantime the dealing with natural Israel proceeded just as though Jesus in the flesh were about to take the Throne; and just as though His disciples in the flesh were to be His Bride; and just as though the Jewish nation would then be exalted and used as the Divine channel; and just as though the promise would there have fulfilment: "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
It was in harmony with this offer which God knew would not be accepted by a sufficient number that He sent John the Baptist to announce Jesus as though He would be King of the Jews in the flesh and to announce His Kingdom as though it would be immediately established. However, all along God knew and had provided for the crucifixion of His Son, and that merely a beginning would be then made in the selecting of the elect Church, and that it would require more than eighteen centuries to complete it – and therefore require a tarrying of the Kingdom for more than eighteen centuries, until the Kingdom class should be ready in God's name and power to take the dominion of the earth – under the whole heavens.
As Jesus declared, "My Kingdom is not of this world (Age)," and as He did not establish His Kingdom at His first advent, but merely began the work of calling the "elect," so the work of John the Baptist was merely to the Jew and proportionately only was he the antitype of Elijah. A larger antitype of Jesus, and of Elijah and John as forerunners, we may now see. Jesus in the flesh and all His faithful members in the flesh for eighteen centuries have constituted the antitype of John the Baptist. Their message all the way down these centuries has been to all who hear it, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." The antitype of the King whose Kingdom they announce is composed of the glorified Jesus and His glorified Bride, beyond the veil. These soon shall take the Kingdom and reign gloriously as Abraham's Seed for the blessing of all the families of the earth.
The Church has cried in "the wilderness" in the sense that she has been alienated and separated from the world. She has called upon all who would hear to prepare for Messiah's Kingdom. She has told more fully than did John the Baptist of the effect of Messiah's Kingdom – the leveling up of the valleys (the lifting up of the poor), the straightening out of the crooked things and the smoothing of the rough things, that thus all flesh might see, appreciate, understand, experience the salvation of God. Both John and the Church declare that this salvation is to be brought through Jesus and His glorified [R4958 : page 33] Bride in Kingdom power. The point we are making is that while John the Baptist was an antitype of Elijah, and was forerunner or herald of Jesus, so, only more particularly, the Church in the flesh is a higher antitype of Elijah, and still more particularly a herald of the Messianic Kingdom.
In John's day multitudes desired to be of the Kingdom class, but while still holding on to their gross sins. And so it has been throughout this Age. The only ones who can truly claim to belong to Abraham's spiritual Seed are such as show their repentance from sin and their loyalty to God by a full consecration to oppose sin and to walk in the footsteps of the Master, even unto death – even an ignominious death, if need be.
John declared that the "ax" was about to be applied to that nation. Pruning would no longer do. Each individual must either bring forth good fruit or be cut down and be cast into the "fire" – the great time of trouble with which the Age ended. The people asked John what they [R4959 : page 33] should do following their repentance. His answer was that those who had a surplus of coats should be ready to give or lend to those who had none, and those who had a sufficiency of food should likewise give to the needy. Thus would they show their repentance from the selfishness and hard-heartedness which evidenced them as sinful – thus would they show a condition of heart necessary to an acceptance of Jesus.
When the tax-gatherers came to John repenting they asked, "How shall we conduct our lives?" He answered, "Exhort no more than that to which you are entitled by the Law." Soldiers also repented and asked John respecting their course: "What shall we do?" He answered, "Do violence to no man; neither exact anything wrongfully; and be content with your wages" – thus will you show that you have repented and that you are seeking to do the Divine will, for such a course will be very different from the one to which you have been accustomed. But notwithstanding John's preaching of contentment he was apprehended as a disturber of the peace and beheaded.
The spirit of expectation was in the air and some of the people, wondering at John's teaching, asked if he were the Messiah. He promptly replied, "No; my baptism is merely that of water." Messiah's baptism will be that of "the Holy Spirit and of fire"; "His fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor; He will gather the wheat into His garner, and will burn up the chaff with fire unquenchable." – Matt. 3:11-12.
These things which John prophesied of Jesus were partially fulfilled more than eighteen centuries ago, but in another sense they are yet to be fulfilled. They were fulfilled so far as the Jewish nation was concerned. Jesus did baptize some of them with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and subsequently – all the faithful "Israelites indeed"; and He did, later on, baptize the unfaithful with fire – a time of trouble. Writing of that trouble St. Paul says, "Wrath is come upon this people to the uttermost; that all things written in the Law and in the Prophets concerning them might be fulfilled." Jesus did a harvesting work there for the Jewish nation only. He gathered their wheat into the garner of the Gospel Age by begetting them of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and onward, and "burned up" the nation in a time of trouble with which their Age ended, in A.D. 70.
But now for the larger fulfilment – world-wide. In the end of this Age all the "wheat" class are to be gathered into the heavenly garner by the change of the First Resurrection, and in the time of trouble coming all others than the true Church will be cut off from association with the Church and from all opportunity of membership in it – as "tares" they will be burned – reduced to the level of the rest of humanity. But, thank God! at that time will begin the work of blessing the masses of mankind; all the families of the earth are to be blest by the glorious, Messianic Kingdom!
"DEAR SISTER: As your conduct towards me is not as formerly, but you pass me and seem to intentionally avoid giving me recognition, it has made me think that perhaps you may have some unfriendly feeling towards me on account of the stand I have taken, or on account of something that I may have said. If I have done you any wrong I ask your forgiveness.
"I can sympathize with you, as I also have a fight with the fallen flesh, and I will tell you how I feel and look at the matter of matrimony at this late moment of the harvest time, and how, by the Lord's grace, I obtain strength.
"We should also constantly have the spiritual welfare of ourselves as well as of others uppermost in our mind; and I thus ask myself: How can I help a sister spiritually through the union of the flesh? How will it help the sister or myself in setting our affections on things above? Is it the sister's fellowship I desire? If so, can I not have that without marriage? If not always personally, can I not have it through the course of letter writing, and thus help and encourage the sister spiritually, and develop character thereby?
"We are to crucify the tendencies of the fallen flesh, which are selfish desires, and put the body under and not give in to it, for now we are walking in newness of life, and know the brethren, not after the flesh, but after the spirit – 'Ye are neither male nor female, but all one in Christ Jesus.' Let our love be a pure, holy, brotherly love.
"The 'Vow' I find a great help, especially the portion which reads, 'Thy will be done in my mortal body.' What is the Lord's will? What was this sexual distinction given for? I find it was for the filling of the earth, to populate it, and that after that has been accomplished the sexual distinction will cease.
"Realizing that there is no distinction of sex among the angels, and that such will also be the future condition of humanity, I ask myself, should I, at this closing moment of our pilgrimage, yield, or will I be more pleasing to the Lord if I now develop character in myself in the direction of our future condition, not only by setting my affections on things above and developing the new mind, but also by putting the desires of my fleshly body under?
"The Apostle said that we commit no sin if we marry, but this also includes our duty to perform the Father's will and make proper use of our functions, or abstain, and this cannot be done on account of the fallen and degraded flesh, as testified by those who have gone through this experience.
"The best way is to ask for strength and grace, and to be faithful to the admonition given us by St. Paul, which is, 'Let every man abide in the calling wherein he was called'; and by so doing we certainly will receive a blessing, perhaps a greater blessing than we think; it may win for us the crown, and the ignoring of it may prevent us from obtaining it and thus we may become members of the Great Company.
"A single person, when consecrating, agrees to give up more time to the Lord than can a married one. Realizing [R4959 : page 34] this, would it be right for me to take back some of the time which I have given to the Lord and give it to some one else? Would I be pleasing to the Lord by so doing?
"Do I know of an instance where a brother or sister has profited spiritually by the union? Perhaps a few, but as St. Paul said, 'He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord, but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.'
"The thought might suggest itself to me: Perhaps I might need just such experiences, just such troubles in the flesh to perfect me. To this I answer, If so, I will leave it in the hands of the Lord to give them to me, without trying to help Him by giving myself persecutions, for He knows best what I need, but will strive to please Him, remembering that 'Obedience is better than sacrifice.'
"We are told to make straight the path for our feet, and as the natural man can run better with the least burden, so also the spiritual man. Why should I cast extra stones and obstacles in my own way to hinder myself from running as I should?
"Viewing it from my personal standpoint, I ask myself, Would this union put two in the work? Or would it take out two, in the sense of preventing a sister or myself or both from entering now or in the future?
"Being tied down by obligations to those depending upon me, and not permitted to enter the colporteur work at present, I ask myself, Should I make my obligations heavier and also tie a sister down, preventing her from active service, now or in the future, and have her use her consecrated time in ministering to my fleshly body? 'Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.'
"Should the Lord see fit to make me foot-loose, then, viewing it from that standpoint, I should have to ask myself, Have I enough working capital for two, or can I earn enough in the work without the sister's assistance, should she become unable to help support herself? Or, should I become disabled, would she still remain in the work? Can we together make both ends meet, or might it take both of us out of the work and make it necessary for me to labor at something else, as has been the experience of others, so that I would thus miss the blessings and privileges, not only myself, but also be responsible for the sister?
"How do I know that we both will stand in this last moment of testing? I know of only one instance, where error has overtaken one of those thus united, where the other remained faithful unto the Lord, while the life companion fell; I find that in all other instances, to my knowledge, they both fell. Consequently, I do not think it advisable to take chances and endanger my Christian welfare or that of a sister. If there is a shadow of possibility that it might prevent me from [R4960 : page 34] making my 'calling and election sure,' I say to myself, through the grace and strength of the Lord, 'Don't do it.'
"We know that Satan is always ready to hand us plenty of excuses along these lines, and if we are looking for them he will be able to present one (even through a brother or sister) which we can accept.
"One brother expresses himself to the effect that we might seek advice upon certain matters and obtain the same from some who are not able to give advice to the Little Flock, as they may be or will be members of the Great Company.
"The time is so short! It is not so much the years now, but we count the time by weeks and days; as we mentioned at the Mountain Lake Park Convention, it is only about one hundred and fifty weeks until the last member of the Little Flock shall have passed beyond the second veil, and some of this time has since passed.
"With much Christian love from your brother and fellow-runner in the narrow way,__________."
Notwithstanding the good arguments of this letter we are not to forget the other side of the question, which the Apostle sets forth. With each one rests the responsibility of his decision to marry or not to marry. To some the relationship must surely appear as above, but to others equally conscientious it may seem different. Let each one be fully persuaded in his own mind.
We certainly believe that those who cannot quite fully settle the matter and take a decided stand, determined not to marry, should very properly take the other decided stand and get married. Nothing is much more injurious to spirituality than indecision, wavering, lukewarmness. Do not trifle with your own earthly affections nor with the affections of others. Settle matters at once and firmly as you think would be most to the Lord's glory – most in harmony with the Divine will. Act upon this decision and put far from you everything to the contrary, so that you can give the best that you have to the Lord. A decision, a positiveness, will help in the development of character. Trifling undermines true character.
[The plan here proposed we designate "GOOD HOPES," because nothing is actually promised – only your generous hopes expressed, based upon your future prospects as they now appear to you. The plan proved not only so beneficial to the cause of Truth, but also so blessed to the hopers, for some years past, that we again commend it to all as Scriptural and good. Those who desire to make use of this plan can fill out both these memoranda. One should be kept for the refreshment of your memory; the other mail to us.]
Dear Friends: – I have read with interest of the openings for the STUDIES and Tract work in foreign lands and here at home. I need not tell you that I am deeply interested in the spread of the Glad Tidings of the lengths and breadths, the heights and depths of redeeming love expressed for us in God's great Plan of the Ages.
I am anxious to use myself – every power, every talent, voice, time, money, influence, all – to give to others this knowledge, which has so greatly blessed, cheered and comforted my own heart and placed my feet firmly upon the Rock of Ages.
I have been considering carefully, and praying to be instructed, how to use my various talents more to my Redeemer's glory and for the service of His people – those blinded by human tradition who are, nevertheless, hungering for "the good Word of God," and those also who are naked, not having on the wedding garment of Christ's imputed righteousness, the unjustified, who stand at best in the filthy rags of their own righteousness. I have decided that so far as my "money talent" goes, I will follow the rule so clearly laid down for us by the great Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 16:2), and will lay aside on the first day of each week, according to my thankful appreciation of the Lord's blessings during the preceding week. Out of this fund I wish to contribute to the several parts of the Lord's work carried on by our Tract Society. Of course, I cannot in advance judge or state particularly what the Lord's bounty may enable me to set apart weekly, and hence you will understand the sum indicated to be merely my conjecture or hope, based upon present prospects. I will endeavor to contribute more than I here specify; and should I not succeed in doing as well, the Lord will know my heart, and you, also, will know of my endeavors.
My only object in specifying in advance what I hope to be able to do in this cause is to enable those in charge of the work of publishing and circulating the Tracts, etc., to form estimates, lay plans, make contracts, etc., with some idea of what I will at least try to do in the exercise of this my highly appreciated privilege.
My present judgment is that during the coming year, by self-denial and cross-bearing, I shall be able to lay aside on the first day of each week for Home and Foreign Mission Work (to assist in circulating SCRIPTURE STUDIES in foreign languages, and in publishing the PEOPLES PULPIT in various languages, and in supplying these gratuitously to brethren who have the heart and opportunity to circulate them widely, and in meeting the expenses of brethren sent out as Lecturers to preach the Divine Plan of Salvation, and in general to be expended as the officers of the Society may deem best), the amount of__________per week.
To comply with United States Postal Laws, all or any portion of my donation may be applied as subscription price for WATCH TOWER or PEOPLES PULPIT sent to the Lord's poor or others, as the Society's officers may deem advisable.
That the work be not hindered, I will endeavor to send you what I shall have laid aside for this cause at the close of each quarter. I will secure a Bank Draft, Express Order or Postal Money Order as I may find most convenient, and will address the letter to
The friends who contribute to the "Good Hopes" (described on the reverse of this sheet) at times desire to send THE WATCH TOWER to friends who are not yet interested enough to subscribe for themselves; or to deeply interested friends who are too poor to subscribe and backward about accepting our Lord's Poor offer. They are invited to give us such addresses below – the expense to be deducted from their donations. Give full addresses, and write very plainly, please, mentioning the length of the subscriptions.
Most of our subscriptions end with the year, so we take this opportunity to remark that we shall be glad to hear promptly from such as desire the visits of THE WATCH TOWER continued. The Lord's Poor friends have been requested to send their applications in May. When names are dropped and afterward renewed it makes us unnecessary trouble. When desiring to know date of expiration look on your TOWER wrapper. Date is given in lower left-hand corner.
No. 1. Cross and Crown designs in ten-carat gold, five-eighths inch in diameter. The crown is burnished. The surrounding wreath is brilliant gold. The cross is of dark red enamel, with only the outlines showing gold. The pin has a patent fastening. Price, $1.15.
For several years we have been supplying our readers with handsome Texts and Motto Cards for the walls of their homes. Their influence is excellent, for they continually and cheerfully catch the eye and remind the heart of our great favors present and to come, based upon the "exceeding great and precious promises" of our Father's Word. We commend these as helps in the "narrow way" – helps in character building.
For your convenience and ours we put these up in packets of choice assortments, as below, $1 each, postpaid. So doing, we are enabled to give you twice as many mottoes for your money as you could purchase elsewhere. Besides, we select the styles and mottoes with great care. The following packets represent our assortment. Order by number: –
Those who use this book as we recommend are surely being blessed. It should be on your breakfast table regularly. Its daily text should be read and commented on freely by all. Then the MANNA comment should be read. Introduce it to your friends as a help toward godly living. See prices in our August 15 issue, page 334.
We are convinced that THE WATCH TOWER lists do not contain the names of one-half of those deeply interested in its teachings. The total is small enough surely, and we are not content that the name of any should be missing. We believe that all such will be stimulated and encouraged on the "narrow way" by its semi-monthly appearance on their table, reminding them afresh of spiritual matters which the world, the flesh and the Devil continually tend to crowd out of mind and heart.
Hitherto we have at times required that all desiring THE WATCH TOWER on credit, or free, as "the Lord's Poor," should make personal application; but now we request every subscriber to inquire among those whom he knows to be interested in Present Truth, and to obtain the consent of all such to send in their subscriptions either on credit or free, as their circumstances may necessitate. Any getting it on credit may at any future time request that the debt be canceled, and we will cheerfully comply. We desire that as nearly as possible THE WATCH TOWER lists shall represent all those deeply interested in its message.
Our object is not the gain of "filthy lucre," but "the perfecting of the saints for the work of ministry" – present and to come. (Eph. 4:12.) We offer no premiums, desiring the cooperation of such only as appreciate the privilege of being co-workers with us in this ministry. Our list is now about 28,000; but it should be at least 30,000, and we confidently expect the above program to bring it to that figure. Let as many as appreciate it as a privilege join in this service.
Our readers have for years inquired for this book. We now have it for you in handsome cloth binding and at cost price. It is the best and the cheapest hymn book in the world, at 35 cents per copy, postpaid, and contains 333 of the choicest hymns of all ages. By express, collect, 25c each, in any quantity.
Question. – Kindly explain briefly the Apostle's meaning in Romans 7:7-25.
Answer. – The Apostle's thought is this: At the time of Abraham, God said: "Abraham, I intend to bless the world, and I will tell you about it in advance. Through your posterity I will do it, for I have found you faithful as a servant." St. Paul was one of those who was included in that promise. (See Heb. 7:9,10.) Abraham was not under the sentence of the Law; but he had the promise that a blessing would come to him and to all others.
Several hundred years after this God entered into a special Covenant with the nation of Israel. They bound themselves by the Law Covenant that they would do certain things; and God promised that the reward would be eternal life. But they could not fulfil the conditions, and consequently they came under the sentence of death. Therefore, they were worse off in that respect than if they had never come under the Law Covenant, for they had already received, prospectively, the forgiveness of sin; but now, being unable to keep the Law Covenant, they came again under condemnation to death.
The remainder of the world of mankind was condemned once. God had said that He would bless all those who kept the Law; and the Jews had their opportunity but failed because of inherent weakness. So the Law, St. Paul states, brought them death instead of blessing. How did this awaken in them what he says here? "I had not known sin but by the Law." Suppose that before the Law was given, a man did not know that it was wrong to steal or to kill. Not knowing it, and not having come under any law telling about it, he had not sinned against the law. But before that Law Covenant came, says the Apostle, not having the Law specified to me, I was not under it. But now I know; and sin came upon me because I could not keep what I saw and what I had agreed to do.
Sin lives. What sin? Original sin, Adamic sin, which passed from Adam through heredity upon all his children. God said to Abraham, I intend to bless all the families of the earth. I intend to remove the curse. Those who had failed to keep the Law had come under the curse of the Law as well as under Adam's curse, so that in addition to the curse which came upon all of Adam's children the Jew came under the curse of the Law. That which the Jew thought to be unto life, he found to be unto death. The Law Covenant promised that if the Jew would do these things he would live. But he found that he could not do them, and the Covenant brought condemnation and death upon him. The Apostle does not say that the Law Covenant was just and good, but that the Law was good, the Law was just – not the Covenant. God's Law is always the same, and always will be the same; but He will make a better Covenant; for finding fault with the Law Covenant, He said, "I will make a New Covenant." If God was not finding fault with the Old Covenant, why make a new one? – Heb. 8:8-13.
The unsatisfactory feature of the Covenant was that it could not give life to Israel. God knew this beforehand, but they did not. God wished them to learn this great lesson that because of their own deficiency they needed the merit of the sacrifice of the Redeemer. The whole world must learn this lesson. Whoever will not learn it will not make progress; but God's promise is that in due time all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped, and that all shall understand clearly the conditions of God's arrangements and the provision He has made.
Question. – Is it correct, in the strict sense, to speak or think of ourselves as New Creatures while in the begotten condition? Or is it only when born from the dead that this condition is attained? In other words, Is the new mind the New Creature?
Answer. – Yes; the new mind is the New Creature. The Scriptural thought is that this New Creature is now an embryo. This embryo is to develop more and more, and take on the character-likeness of the Lord Jesus. Then will come the birth of the New Creature. The Lord uses the thought of begetting and birth as a picture. First, there is the begetting, and then the gradual development of the embryo; finally there comes the time for birth. But if anything checks the development of the embryo the birth will never take place; there will be a miscarriage.
So the New Creature, begotten of the Holy Spirit, is in an embryotic condition, and must develop, or it will never be ready for the birth. The birth is the resurrection. As the Scriptures say, Jesus was the first-born from the dead and we are His brethren. He is the first-born amongst these many brethren; and we also must be born from the dead to share His glory.
Answer. – Even from what David has written in the Psalms we cannot really tell whether he clearly understood the doctrine of the Resurrection; for the Scriptures inform us that David spoke and wrote very much by inspiration. The Apostle Peter tells that many of the Prophets themselves did not know the import of the things they were saying; but that the Spirit of God moved them. God reserved much of the understanding for the Church. So when the Prophet David makes certain allusions to the resurrection, we do not know whether he fully understood or not. We believe that all those in God's confidence knew that, though they were dying, yet the time would come when God would recover them from the grave. The resurrection hope was the hope of all the Jewish nation, not only in the days of Jesus, but prior to that time.
In the days of Jesus the orthodox Jews, the holiness people, or Pharisees, were firm believers in the Resurrection. The Sadducees were the Higher Critics and infidels of that time; for they did not believe in angels or spirits, or in the resurrection of the dead; but the Pharisees believed in both. On one occasion, particularly, when St. Paul was in great danger, he perceived that part of the audience were Pharisees and part Sadducees; and thinking he could get the good will of the one part, he cried out, "I believe in the resurrection. That is the reason I am on trial here." Immediately the Pharisees went to his side and said, "Yes, this man believes in the resurrection. We all do. It is you Sadducees who do not believe in the resurrection; and you are trying to injure us." – See Acts 23:6-9.
And so we feel sure that David believed in the resurrection. We are to remember, however, that while apparently he spoke of his own resurrection – "Thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol, nor suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption" – St. Peter, speaking, we believe, under inspiration, said that David spoke these words not concerning himself, but being a Prophet he spoke beforehand of Christ, that Christ's soul would not be left in sheol. (Acts 2:29-32.) So the principal text in the Psalms that tells of David's faith in the resurrection, we are told, is [R4961 : page 38] applicable prophetically; but we think there is no question in the matter that David and all the Prophets in the past knew that they were not getting their reward then, but must get it in the future.
St. Paul brings this fact to our attention in Hebrews 11:38-40. He had been telling about Abraham and his faith, and states that some of the Prophets were stoned to death, sawn asunder, etc. Then he sums it all up, saying, "All these died in faith, without having received the promise." They knew they had not received eternal life or any of the things which God had promised, but they died in faith that they would get it in the resurrection; faith that God was able and willing to fulfill every promise He had made. So St. Peter gives us the assurance that they knew, though they did not understand all that they wrote themselves. – I Pet. 1:10-12.
DEAR BRETHREN: – At a recent question meeting the following question was asked: "Should one who is in the Truth bring an action in damages for defamation of character? Does not the Bible teach that we should endure persecution without resorting to the law?" On several other occasions questions of the same import have been asked. My reply thereto has been to this effect: –
Under ordinary circumstances the Christian should not sue for defamation of character. There are circumstances, however, under which it would not only be right to sue, but it would be a neglect of duty to fail to do so. The principle is illustrated in the suit recently filed by Brother Russell against the Brooklyn Eagle. Brother Russell occupies a position peculiarly different from any other person in the world. The Lord has permitted him to proclaim the Gospel through the public press, and today hundreds of newspapers are publishing each week his sermons. This is a talent possessed by Brother Russell which is not possessed by any other Christian, for the reason that no other Christian is doing the same work. In order to continue to use this talent it is necessary for him to maintain his good reputation. An attack upon his character by an influential paper would tend to destroy his reputation, and therefore to destroy his opportunity for service through the public press. Should he refuse to defend his character and let the assailants go unchallenged, he would permit this talent to be rendered useless. As the servant of the Lord he could not afford to do this, but must defend himself in whatever way is provided. Under the Constitution of the United States and the laws of New York, the only means [R4962 : page 38] provided for defense against a libelous attack by a newspaper is by suit at law for damages; the purpose not being merely to get money, but by means of the courts to compel the wrong-doer to desist, and at the same time let the world know that the charges made are false. Under such circumstances there is no alternative to one who is consecrated to use every talent in the Lord's service.
The Apostle Paul occupied a peculiar position toward the Church, being endowed by the Lord to do a certain work. He was arrested and brought into court for trial, and defended himself, taking advantage of legal technicalities. When he was taken before Felix for trial, Felix asked Paul if he would consent to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried. The Apostle could have well said, I am in the Lord's hands; I will not resist, therefore do with me as you see fit. Had he done so, he well knew that his life would be taken from him by the Jews and his opportunity to preach the Gospel would end, hence he declined to go up to Jerusalem, there to be tried, but appealed unto Caesar. It may be insisted that the Apostle here was merely defending his life and liberty, and did not himself prosecute a case in court. Such a position is untenable. He had said, "Neither count I my life dear unto me, so that I might finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have received to testify the Gospel," etc. (Acts 20:24.) The Apostle's chief purpose was that he might fully use up his opportunities of service for the Lord. When, therefore, he appealed to Caesar, he put himself exactly in the position of one who institutes a suit in court, for the reason that the appellant on appeal becomes the plaintiff, or prosecutor of the case, whereas the appellee occupies the position of defendant.
When Brother Russell's character is attacked, he could say, I will not defend myself, but will permit the enemies to do unto me whatsoever they see fit since I am in the Lord's hands. Like the Apostle, his chief object is to finish his ministry of the Gospel. Personally, his reputation in the world is not dear unto him; not even his earthly life does he count dear, but these are necessary in order for him to finish his ministry. Therefore, it becomes his duty under a covenant of sacrifice with the Lord to maintain within legal bounds his good name and reputation, to the end that he might continue to preach the Gospel through the public press, and his failure or refusal to appeal to the courts for this protection would appear to be a clear neglect of duty. Keeping in mind always that his chief object is to further the best interests of the Gospel, then we can readily see that Brother Russell in every sense is fully justified in the position taken.
In the service of the Truth, Yours faithfully,
I selected R----------, 22 miles from here, as the scene of an experiment in the Extension Work. It is perhaps needless for me to tell you that I do not know anybody in R----------. The morning came off rainy, but having decided to go anyway, I put on my raincoat and started. When I arrived at the station I found the train was an hour late, and then remembered that I had forgotten any pins with which to pin up my chart, that my voice was a bit husky and I had forgotten to bring any troches, and, incidentally, had also forgotten any breakfast with which to line up the inner man. This gave plenty of time to attend to these details.
Arrived at R---------- at 9 o'clock. The weather had turned colder, so that there was no danger of rain. Approached the first pleasant-looking man I met, told him I was a representative of the International Bible Students Association, was a traveling man in C---------- for a time, was greatly interested in Bible study, and had run out to R---------- to see if I could find a few Christians who might like to listen to a talk on methods of Bible study. Asked about auditoriums and he gave me the name of the man who owns the school, which is private. Went to see him and he turned me down cold; said it would be necessary for me to get some letters of commendation from local preachers who know something about my work; that there had been so many fakes come along that he never gave the use of the school building any more to people he did not know all about. Thought to myself he was wise, from his viewpoint, and if he really suspected what I represented he would be sure I was the worst fake of all.
Inquired about churches; found there were three, a Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian. These three churches divide services between them, it being understood that on Methodist day all the churches have their own Sunday Schools at 10 o'clock, but at 11 o'clock all go to the Methodist church. Happened to be Methodist day today, so I concluded to stay away from the Methodist church. Inquired names of trustees of Baptist church; was given two names, Brother M----------, living some distance away on the mountain side, and Brother S----------, living within a quarter mile.
Called on Brother S----------; most hospitably received. Invited me to go to Sunday School with him; stated he would have Sunday School dismissed early, so I could have half an hour or so for a lecture. There were over thirty present, more than half of them adults. Was requested to lead in prayer, which I did; then the teacher of the adult Bible class told me he had broken his spectacles and asked me to lead the class, which I did. The subject of the study was the rebuilding of the Temple, which gave a splendid chance for bringing in some truths regarding the true Temple. I then gave a chart talk on the three worlds, and was invited to return next Sunday and continue it (in the afternoon) when they have promised to have the whole town out to hear me. "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes." Before I left for R---------- I had told the Lord that if He desired me to go to R---------- and just sit down on the depot steps and read the Bible until my train came to carry me back to C---------- I would be just as glad to do that as anything else, but, of course, if He wanted me to go into this Extension Work I would be thankful for any evidences of His favor that He might be pleased to show me.
After the session (I spoke for about three-quarters of an hour, leaving plenty of time for the audience to get to the Methodist Church at 11:20) Brother S---------- invited me to his [R4962 : page 39] home, where I spent a most enjoyable hour, listening to his questions, partially answering them, and asking him some to think about during the coming week. Then he invited me to dinner, and I went to my train, arriving home at 1:15, thankful of heart to the Lord for His gracious overruling of the whole affair. It is now 2 o'clock, the sun is shining brightly out doors and in my heart, and I am just going to the afternoon meeting. Maybe the Brethren won't be surprised when they see how easy it is for the Lord to start up this Extension Work! All He needs is a tiny, broken, earthen vessel, lying conveniently near His pathway.
Your brother and servant in the Lord,
I trust you will pardon me for intruding upon your time. I am filled with gratitude to the Heavenly Father for permitting me to recognize the channel through which the "meat in due season" is being dispensed, and I desire to thank you, as His servant, for the service you have rendered me. I am glad to acknowledge that every bit of heavenly Truth that has reached my ears has come through you. From present indications it appears to me quite probable that one of the tests of the Lord's people will be along the lines of loyalty to the source of Present Truth, and I want to keep my heart right, filled with love at all times, so that I will be able to stand with the faithful. Pray for me.
While grieved to learn of your trials, we are endeavoring to look at the matter as the dear Lord and Master would have us do, and to remember that "all things shall work together for good." How comforting the assurances that He "will not leave nor forsake thee," and that "the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that reverence Him" – "My grace is sufficient for thee!"
The friends here join in sending greetings and expressions of love and sympathy, and wish to assure you of their prayers in your behalf. We all earnestly desire to be "faithful unto death" and have part in the "First Resurrection."
Yours in the service of the King of kings,
We have here with the Lord's aid continued the harvest work and as a result I send herewith the new edition of "The Divine Plan of the Ages" (Jumalallinen Aikakausien Suunnitelma); the second volume of the "Studies in the Scriptures," "The Time Is at Hand" (Aika on Lahestynyt); "What Say the Scriptures about Hell?" (Mita Sanoo Raamattu Helvetista?); "Hymns of Morning" (Aamulauluja) and the tract PEOPLES PULPIT (Puheita Kansalle), of which we already have distributed about 125,000 copies. We have also translated TABERNACLE SHADOWS OF BETTER SACRIFICES, THE PAROUSIA OF OUR LORD, and also, from THE NEW CREATION, STUDY X, THE BAPTISM OF THE NEW CREATION. Vols. III and V are also preparing. In various places we have held about 100 lectures and meetings before great and interested crowds. The total number of people in attendance has been about 25,000.
Yours in the Blessed Hope,
As I have come into the Truth, and rejoice in the new light and have newly consecrated my life to God, I write to say how thankful I am to have been directed through my dear son to your STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES.
I cannot tell you on paper what remarkable experiences have been mine the last six months, nor how I have been changed, surely by the grace and power of God, nor how I pray daily to keep strong in the faith and to learn, more and more, true humbleness of mind and obedience to the will of God.
I have had a number of sacrifices (hard to lay on the altar, except in His strength) to make, but I have made them joyfully, "counting all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."
As I told you in conversation last summer, my life has been a cruel one and I had often thought of trying to enter an Episcopal Sisterhood. But since visiting "Bethel Home" I have abandoned that thought.
Yours in Him,
My object in writing at this time is to relate an incident to you which is interesting. Some months ago my eldest boy, who has always manifested an interest in the Truth, reached the age of 15 years, when it was decided for him to leave school, but what we were to put him at was the question which perplexed us.
I suggested that he try the colporteur work. He protested that he was too young; but I told him of some as young as he who had succeeded in other places. He followed my advice, and from the first day had more success than I ever dreamed. What was my joy in getting home last time to find that in one day he had taken orders for twenty-four volumes!
Further than this, the effect seems manifest in a wave of enthusiasm over the friends, and several of the sisters are giving some time with good effect. Even Sister Smith has [R4963 : page 39] been giving the work a trial with marked success. Such is the wonderful effect of zeal and shows how the Lord can use weak means to great ends. – 1 Cor. 1:27,28.
Yours in faith and love,
DEARLY BELOVED BROTHER AND PASTOR: –
Christian love and greetings! It has been the privilege of Sister Louise Jolly and myself to spend the past few days colporteuring some of the offices of Plainfield. The dear Lord strengthened us so wonderfully for this service and granted us such fine experiences that I felt constrained to write you.
Having naturally too much caution, I have very few times colporteured the business section of towns for fear of intruding. However, here few gave the excuse of being too busy, and when they did they invited us to call again. Those who purchased STUDIES thanked us many times for calling, as did also several who did not purchase. It is such a satisfaction to present the Message to those who are in the forefront of this great battle for existence and who seem to appreciate any literature treating the subject of present-day conditions.
A dear Sister said to me at the Put-in-Bay Convention, "Don't neglect the business section of your towns. The Lord has some precious grains of wheat among the busy business men." She gave her experience as having been so timid that before she could undertake that branch of service, she would have to have special prayer of each member of the class in her behalf. "Now," she says, "I would not take anything for my experiences in the business sections."
Again I desire to express my gratitude to the great Chief Shepherd, and incidentally to you, an appointed Pastor, for these soul-refreshing, life-giving waters of Truth, and His great condescension, in using to any extent an earthen vessel which seemed of no use at all. Pray for me, dear Brother, that I may continue to be "a broken and emptied vessel for the Master's use made meet," now and in the glorious future.
Yours in our glorious hope,
BETHEL HYMNS FOR FEBRUARY.
After the close of the hymn the Bethel Family listens to the reading of "My Vow Unto the Lord," then joins in prayer. At the breakfast table the MANNA text is considered. Hymns for February follow:
(1) 309; (2) 165; (3) 53; (4) 60; (5) 313; (6) 48; (7) 47; (8) 91; (9) 30; (10) 4; (11) 6; (12) 291; (13) 259; (14) 12; (15) 320; (16) 273; (17) 167; (18) 59; (19) Vow; (20) 7; (21) 279; (22) 326; (23) 46; (24) 197; (25) 299; (26) 16; (27) 51; (28) 110; (29) 145.