Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
VOL. XXIX MARCH 15 No. 6
A.D. 1908--A.M. 6036
Views from the Watch Tower........................ 83
Our Losing Fight with the Criminal............ 83
The Pre-Existence of Jesus.................... 83
Higher Criticism-Infidelity Not Satisfied..... 84
Paid Music in Churches........................ 84
Popular Religion vs. Bible Religion........... 85
"Miracle Wheat"............................... 86
The Memorial, April 14............................ 86
Holding Fast at the Mark.......................... 87
Quarterly Review Lesson........................... 88
The Progress of Total Abstinence.................. 90
"Within the Vail" (Poem).......................... 92
The Shepherd, the Door, the Flocks................ 92
LETTERS FOR THE EDITOR SHOULD BE SENT TO ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS AND REMITTANCES
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY,
"BIBLE HOUSE," 610, 612, 614 ARCH ST., ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
--OR TO-- BRITISH BRANCH--24 EVERSHOLT ST., LONDON, N.W. GERMAN BRANCH--MIRKER STR., 45, ELBERFELD. AUSTRALASIAN BRANCH--EQUITABLE BLDG., COLLINS ST., MELBOURNE
PRICE, $1.00 (4S.) A YEAR IN ADVANCE. MONEY MAY BE SENT BY EXPRESS, BANK DRAFT, POSTAL ORDER, OR REGISTERED. FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS, ONLY. 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 June 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.
ENTERED AS SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER AT ALLEGHENY, PA., POST OFFICE.
THIS JOURNAL IS PUBLISHED IN THE FRENCH, GERMAN, SWEDISH, DANISH AND ITALIAN LANGUAGES. SAMPLE COPIES FREE.
::R4153 : page 82::
BROTHER RUSSELL'S SERMONS WEEKLY
THE CINCINNATI WEEKLY ENQUIRER, a clean paper of very large circulation, proposes to publish Brother Russell's sermons every week, and offers us a special clubbing rate. This enables us to supply it with the WATCH TOWER for $1.50 per year. If you have already sent in your TOWER subscription send merely the balance, 50c. Moneys returned by the
Woman's National Daily
will be applied on the
Act promptly. Order extra copies for your friends if you so desire.
Humanly speaking, it seems quite unfortunate that the
Woman's National Daily
accepted subscriptions with the understanding that Brother Russell's sermons would appear weekly, and then discontinued them. Although it received nearly 5,000 subscriptions through us, it declines to refund the money unless
the subscribers so demand.
We have asked you to send postcard demands for the stoppage of the subscriptions and the refund of the money through us, but evidently few of you have done this, for only a few have been refunded. Were you
all to insist
no doubt the sermons would be published.
GIVE PROMPT ATTENTION, PLEASE
The Post Office Dept. is unwilling to restore second-class privileges to our
Old Theology Quarterly
unless we can show a larger list of
subscriptions. We suggest, therefore, that individually or in groups, classes or ecclesias, you send us
paid lists for as many copies as you can use. The rate will be 6c per year; or, 10 to one address (40 tracts), 20c; 50 to one address (200 tracts), $1; or more at the same rate. You may send personally, or bunch your orders through one of your number as your
Tract Fund subscriptions and Good Hopes may be applied on this account by
explicitly authorizing us so to do.
Please act promptly.
::R4150 : page 83::
VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
OUR LOSING FIGHT WITH THE CRIMINAL
"COMMISSIONER Bingham reports 4,470 arrests made by the Bureau of Detectives for felonies in 1907, against 2,091 in 1906. Convictions totaled 1,330. The increase in arrests for misdemeanors is still more startling: the total was 3,889, while in 1906 it was 910. There were 1,566 convictions. Chief Wilkie of the United States Secret Service reports 216 arrests, of which 160 were for counterfeiting. A substantial decrease in this crime is shown, largely due to the conviction of Irving Tolley, now confined in Atlanta, Ga., who was responsible for 50 per cent. of the raised notes. The most significant item in the report of J. C. Graveur, chief probation officer of the New York Court of Special Sessions, discloses 565 persons placed on parole. Only twenty failed to meet the requirements of their release.
"Society not only fails to hold its ground but it is losing in its warfare against the criminal. In 1901 the Government published the conclusion of Eugene Smith that our annual tribute to crime was $600,000,000, and criminologists have recently computed a substantial increase. To our eternal disgrace, the United States leads all civilized countries in the number of homicides. Over 8,000 yearly is the average. William C. Clemens fixes New York City's quota at 240. In six years over 300 murderers have gone undetected. The Alabama State Bar Association has shown that in proportion to population there are twelve murders in New England to one in London; in California seventy-five
::R4151 : page 83::
to one; in Nevada 245 to one."--
New York World.
* * *
The above is from an editorial and we have no reason to doubt its correctness. The facts set forth are open to speculation as to why they are true. It is well that we remember that this indictment relates to the most favored and most prosperous, most wealthy, most awake and most generally educated nation on earth. Looking at the ghastly figures, let us learn the lesson that worldly prosperity does not spell happiness, contentment, peace and joy. We have every reason to believe that similar results would show in every civilized land under
The lesson to us is to emphasize the Bible's teaching that God alone can satisfy the soul;--that the Spirit of Christ is "the spirit of a sound mind." True, something should be credited to the fact that many of these murders, etc., were committed by emigrants suddenly transported into new conditions and unable to balance and adjust themselves to the new conditions. But why is it that the greater intelligence and opportunity do not make for peace and holiness instead of sin and crime? We reply, Because the chains of ignorance and superstition have been the blasphemous misrepresentations of the divine character and plan! These have caused the masses to fear and to hate God and his Book, which, it is claimed, reveals his plans as diabolical. Increased knowledge to such means doubt of all religious teaching--practically atheism or universalism, according to the bent of the mind.
While zealous missionaries are teaching heathen children our civilization and our popular travesties upon the religion of the Bible, they fondly dream of thus converting the world and fulfilling our Lord's prayer, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven." Alas! how blind we all have been not to have noticed these two facts: (1) That the numbers of the heathen in proportion even to the nominally Christian doubled last century; (2) That if we could bring all the heathen up to the standard of our most civilized and most progressive nation it would mean that God's will would be less done the world over than it is now.
Let us console ourselves with the Bible's teaching, that the evils of our day, induced by greater worldly light and ambition, will end in their own destruction and prepare the way for the Kingdom of God's dear Son.
THE PRE-EXISTENCE OF JESUS
The Christian Commonwealth
of London is firmly committed to "The New Theology." It publishes Rev.
::R4151 : page 84::
Morgan Campbell's sermons and now one of its editors, Rev. J. Warschauer, M.A., D.Phil., thus answers, in the columns of the
a correspondent's question on the preexistence of Jesus:--
"In answer to a Scottish correspondent--to whom, by the way, I want to send a word of cheer, more even than a theological answer--I quite agree with his view, viz., that Jesus 'preexisted' only in the sense in which all men do, that is to say, in the mind of God, for whom there is neither past nor future, 'for all live unto him.' That our Lord had a conscious, individual existence prior to his birth some nineteen centuries ago, I see no reason for supposing. Having come into the world--with no more control over that event, as I hold, than other infants--and having reached maturity, he voluntarily adopted a certain course of action; but that he had determined upon that course in some previous heavenly existence, I simply do not believe."
* * *
Thus the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other while the central truth is ignored. From holding and teaching that Jesus was one of three Gods, one of a trinity of Gods, the next step usually is to the above extreme--the claim that he was merely a member of the sinner-race. Oh! how much more rational is the Scriptural teaching that our Lord was Jehovah's "only begotten Son," "the first and the last," by and through whom angels and men were created, in fulfilment of the Father's wondrous plan. How this, the Bible presentation, glorifies the Lord Jesus more than any other! As the Apostle declares, "To us there is one God the Father,
are all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ,
are all things." See afresh the proofs in DAWN-STUDIES, Vol. V., "The Atonement," Chapters III. to VII.
HIGHER CRITICISM-INFIDELITY NOT SATISFIED
Mr. Chas. E. Witter complains that agnosticism is not progressing rapidly enough in the Sunday-schools of the world. We quote:
"There can be no doubt that in many cases the teaching lags behind the real knowledge of the teacher. Many who have outgrown the crude and literal interpretations of earlier years, into whose minds religious truths have entered in new forms, are seemingly afraid to impart their real light to their young hearers. When they come before their classes in the Sunday-schools they feel obligated to give them, not the fresh views that have proved more satisfactory to themselves, but the traditional statements of orthodoxy in which most of them were reared. This may be due to a strained sense of loyalty to their church organization or to a feeling that these older views are commonly reputed to be safer for children, but in any case the results can be only bad. They are bad first of all because of the insincerity in the teacher himself. No amount of juggling and trimming for the sake of expediency can justify one in teaching as true what he knows to be false, in teaching as fact what he knows to be myth. In the second place, such teaching is in the end ineffective. One cannot teach satisfactorily and effectually that which he only half-heartedly believes himself. The secret of the wonderful power that the religious teaching and preaching of the fathers had over their hearers was just in this fact, that they believed with all the intensity of conviction every word which they uttered. The results are bad, moreover and chiefly, because of the great wrong that is thus done to the child's future. The time must inevitably come to those young people who read and think when they will awake to the superficiality and falsity of such teaching, and when that awakening comes the reaction will probably be more radical than it would have been had they been properly enlightened in the first place. The pendulum will swing so far that in rejecting these feeble and narrow views of spiritual truths they will in many cases be led to reject all versions of them. That this is a real danger can be seen by daily observation. It accounts for the absolute skepticism and agnosticism of many, and it also accounts for the fact, often noted, that the most confirmed infidels frequently spring from just those narrow denominational schools and influences that refuse obstinately to open to the light of more modern and better conceptions of the religious life."
* * *
Alas! this modern infidelity, styled "New Theology," is all too rapidly gaining a footing in our Sunday-schools! Are not children deliberately taught that the Genesis account of creation is a falsehood contradicted by "Science"? Are they not taught that the flood of Noah's day is a myth, and that Jonah never was swallowed by a whale? Are they not taught to give no heed to what the Apostle Peter calls "the more sure word of prophecy to which we do well to take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place until the day dawn"?
True, these underminers of Biblical faith do not deny that there once was a great Teacher named Jesus, whose teachings have influenced the most enlightened quarters of the globe. That would be worse than wasting breath. Besides they want Jesus for a figurehead or rallying center for their "New Theology." But it does not take the honest child-mind long to draw the conclusion that when Jesus mentioned the flood of Noah's day and the fact that Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, and that he quoted from the prophets as inspired writings--that if these be false Jesus must have been a fraud and not the Son of God, else he would not have declared these truths. Not only so, it would imply that he was much less inspired and wise than were these modern wise men who claim to know so much. Alas! they are taking away from the children what little faith yet remains. "When the Son of man cometh shall he find the faith on the earth?"--`Matt. 12:40`; `24:38`; `Luke 18:8`.
PAID MUSIC IN CHURCHES
Rev. Charles M. Sheldon writes in
against the spending of money for Church music, as follows:--
"I see no reason why the finest singer or player in the parish should receive compensation for service rendered any more than the best teachers in the parish should receive money for teaching in the Sunday-school. I have in my parish a man who is a graduate
::R4151 : page 85::
of one of the best colleges in this country, who spent very many years in acquiring his education, who is a thorough scholar and a splendid teacher. He has a class in my Sunday-school. I do not think the thought of compensation for teaching that class ever entered his head. He is giving, however, out of the ripeness of his knowledge what it cost him many years and many hundreds of dollars to acquire. If he does not expect anything for his service to the Church, which he gives as service, why should the man or woman who has spent years acquiring a musical education in learning to play or sing expect money compensation for it?
"I have always felt proud of the fact, I hope in a right way, that in our average Church for eighteen years we have never paid a cent for the service of musicians,
::R4152 : page 85::
either for playing or singing, accepting what was offered as service, and very many times it has been of the very best that the parish afforded. I know of a Church which has in its parish one of the finest lawyers in the State, and whenever that Church wants a public address or an inspiring talk to its young men it calls upon this member of the Church for service. He does not ask for pay, although he can get the highest price in the lecture-field when he goes out to give a public lecture. I think the more we dignify the service in the Church by drawing into it the finest talent we possess, and offer it as service, we increase the Church's efficiency, and very often the money that is spent for musical service or for flowers or decorations could be better used, it seems to me, directly in doing missionary work or in adding to the real effectiveness of the Church in ways where the money is more needed.
"I hope I shall not be misunderstood in all this. What I mean is that the Church has a right to the finest service that can be rendered to it by its members. There is no man or woman so talented or so gifted in the parish that he ought not to feel that the finest he has can and should be offered upon the altar of religion."
* * *
Very good! Very true! But why not return to apostolic usage also in the matter of a paid ministry? If singers and Sunday-school teachers should serve from love and not for pay, should not as noble a spirit actuate the preachers? Why not have the abler members of every congregation give public addresses on the Scriptures or conduct Bible studies which would bring out more of the true teachings of the Word and stimulate research?
POPULAR RELIGION VS. BIBLE RELIGION
The editor of the
(New York) tells us that he has been looking at the signs of the times and finds hardly a single point of harmony between the common standards and those of the Gospel. This he thinks "should awaken every sincere Christian to a thorough self-examination by Gospel standards and to determine to keep as far from evil as possible." We quote:--
"It would be wise for every member of a Christian church and every minister thereof to read carefully what Christ said of his religion, his disciples, the method of preparing for the future life, and the intimations that he gives of the judgment and eternal destiny, instead of occupying themselves entirely or chiefly with the contemplation of great church edifices, great organs, great colleges, great Sunday-school parades, great hospitals, great congregations, great movements and great statistics.
"Popular religion today avoids all conflict with the world. Against the grosser immoralities, indeed, it lifts up its voice; for it is respectable to do so, and a large proportion of all connected with the Church are above the more degrading forms of vice. But against pride-producing and extravagant fashions of the world it utters but a faint protest, or none.
"Popular religion seeks wealth with as much greediness, and grasps as eagerly after honor, and runs as swiftly after pleasure as does the world. A large majority of the professors of Christ's religion seek their intimate associations in worldly society, and never think of lifting up their voices against the prevalent folly and dissipation. It is not in the least embarrassing for the most gay and thoughtless to be thrown into the company of Christians of the popular religion type. Days and weeks may pass away and no mention be made of Christ or of anything he ever did or said, or which might lead persons to think of his religion.
"Popular religion has a very easy conscience, as is shown by many things. It makes a distinction between equally binding duties, performing those which are convenient, agreeable, and in harmony with the natural instincts or dispositions, and neglecting others which require self-denial. Thus there are many possessed of large incomes who will pray and sing, but will not contribute their means to the support of the Gospel. Others are willing to contribute liberally but pay no attention to the spiritual work of the Church. Popular religion enters upon doubtful enterprises if they promise large pecuniary rewards. It makes every form of excuse for neglect of duty. The merchant and mechanic declare themselves to be too busy. The contradiction between this and Christ's religion is expressed in the words, 'Seek ye
the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.'
"Popular religion professes timidity whenever called upon to take part in the services of the sanctuary, a timidity never shown in performing conspicuous, remunerative or honorable public duties or functions of importance in the Church. Popular religion disregards the most solemn vows. Every member of the Christian Church has assumed the weightiest obligations. Every baptized person in the Methodist Church vows to 'renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same.' When there is a controversy between them, popular religion places temporal interests before spiritual. It evinces this in the kind of preaching it likes and in the mode of its life. It would rather attend public amusements, political meetings, social companies, or spend the evening in business calculations than to discharge the plainest Christian duty. Popular religion never agonizes before the Lord in secret, never sets apart hours for meditation, never reads the Bible for devotional or life-regulating purposes; seldom observes family prayer, never does
::R4152 : page 86::
anything really inconvenient for Christ's sake, and almost wholly eliminates the element of self-denial."
* * *
Alas! how true is this arraignment of Babylon of every denomination. The fault lies in false doctrines, which, under the lash of fear, have gathered to the Christian standard millions whose credulity is now giving place to a refined infidelity.
Note the contrast in those who are the Lord's true sheep and who are now hearing the Great Shepherd's voice in the Millennial morning dawn. How zealous, how self-sacrificing, how willing to give their time, influence, money--yea, life itself--in the service of the "good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people."
Yet we do not boast! Nay, we admit that we can never do enough to show our appreciation of the God of love and his wonderful plan of the ages. We realize that we are not profitable servants, but on the contrary are our Lord's debtors to a degree that an eternity of his service will only continually increase.
The public press is telling of the origin of "Miracle Wheat" in answer to prayer. The description has the earmarks of truth to it, in that it gives the address of the man whose prayers are said to have been answered-- "K. B. Stoner, a farmer of Fincastle, Botetourt county, Virginia." It would appear from the account that the original stalk of wheat appeared in the midst of a crop of the ordinary kind, but with "142 heads of grain." We quote:--
"Mr. Stoner was amazed. It seemed incredible. When a Frenchman, in 1842, announced that he had discovered a species of wheat in the Mediterranean country which produced four heads to the plant, people said he was crazy.
"But here was a plant with 142 heads!
"Naturally Mr. Stoner carefully preserved the heads, and the next year sowed the seed, continuing to do this each year, for he realized he had discovered a phenomenal brand of grain. And each year his amazement increased.
"That first year after discovering the plant he got 2000 grains. In 1906 he got sixteen bushels, and has now raised the crop of wheat, all carefully preserved for seed, to 800 bushels.
"What is most remarkable about the wheat is this: Whereas there is produced in the wheat sections of that country an average at the best of seventeen bushels to an acre, the average yield of the "miracle wheat" during the last three years has been fifty-six bushels to the acre; and whereas from eight to ten pecks of seed are required to plant an acre in Virginia, Mr. Stoner uses only two pecks, and, in comparison to the yield of ordinary wheat in the neighborhood, which is eight bushels for each bushel of seed, Mr. Stoner gets about seventy-five bushels for one. An ordinary stalk of wheat covers about four inches of space. The miracle wheat covers twelve.
THE GOVERNMENT REPORT
"Last year United States government officials became interested in the remarkable wheat and sent Assistant Agriculturalist H. A. Miller to examine it. In his report he declares:
"'The wheat, which came from an unknown source, has been grown in the nursery every year since that time, and also has been grown under field conditions the last two years, giving excellent results. The yield has been from two to three times the yield of other varieties grown on the farm under the same condition of culture, except the rate of seeding, which was two pecks to the acre, while other varieties were sown at the rate of eight to ten pecks per acre, which is the common practice of farmers in the vicinity.
"'Milling tests have been made of this wheat, and its quality seems to be as good as, if not superior to, other varieties of winter wheat.'
::R4153 : page 86::
"The average height of the wheat, according to the report, is four feet four inches.
"It is said that the Russian government has secured an option on the wheat, and will buy a consignment of 80,000,000 bushels when that quantity shall have been raised. During the next year the seed will be distributed among farmers in Virginia and North Carolina, who will raise it and preserve the seed, keeping the seed only for planting until the required amount will have been produced. By next fall, it is believed, 30,000 bushels will have been produced."
IS IT RESTITUTION WHEAT?
If this account be but one-half true it testifies afresh to God's ability to provide things needful for the "times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began."--`Acts 3:19-21`.
::R4153 : page 86::
THE MEMORIAL, APRIL 14
AFTER six o'clock on Tuesday evening, April 14th, readers of this journal in all parts of the world will gather as ecclesias of Christ to memorialize his death with "unleavened bread" and "fruit of the vine" as emblems of his broken body and shed blood. The largest of these will probably assemble at Allegheny Carnegie Hall--not a great multitude meeting anywhere--while the little ecclesias will be numerous--for, as the Master said, "Wherever two or three are met in my name, there am I in their midst."--`Matt. 18:20`.
We urge that none neglect this annual privilege, for any reason. There is a special blessing in its observance. If you incline to feel discouraged, go partake of the broken loaf, asking the Lord for a fresh realization of your justification, and a fresh appreciation of your consecration to be broken (sacrificed) with him, as reckoned members of the one loaf--his Church, his Body. Then as you taste of "this cup" remember that it speaks of our Lord's sufferings on our behalf--his tasting death for every man. Remember, also, that this is "our high calling"--"to suffer with him that we may also reign with him." This is the significance of his words, "drink ye all of it." And, as the Apostle declares,
::R4153 : page 87::
it is the
in his sufferings.-- `1 Cor. 10:16`.
Let us not forget that the Memorial is meaningless or worse unless thus accepted and appreciated. But let nothing hinder us--neither sins, nor coldness, nor feelings of unworthiness. Go to the Lord and make a clean breast of all your shortcomings. Go to your brethren or any whom you have wronged--make full acknowledgment, whether they acknowledge faults toward you or not. Get yourself right with your Lord and so far as possible with every man, and then eat--yea, feast upon the rich provision the Lord has made for all who accept, now or in a later "due time."
Such a heart-searching and cleansing, we remember, was shown in the Passover type given to the Jews. Before they gathered to eat their Passover-lamb they searched everywhere throughout their habitations for anything containing leaven or putrefaction, bones, crusts, everything. These all were burned--destroyed. So must we fulfil the antitype and "put away the old leaven" of anger, malice, hatred, strife.--`1 Cor. 5:7,8`.
But remember that this kind of leaven of sin cannot be thoroughly put away unless it be burned; and only love can burn it out--heavenly love, the love of God. If we have that love shed abroad in our hearts it will consume everything of the opposite character--jealousy, hatred, evil speaking, etc. Put off all these, urges the Apostle, and put on Christ and be filled with his Spirit. Do not be discouraged. True, for the time you ought to be further along, nearer to perfect love. But learn the lesson and start again with fresh resolutions and increased appreciation of the fact that of yourself, without the Master's aid, you could never gain the prize. He knows this better than do we, and says "Without me ye can do nothing." It was because of our need that the Father thus arranged for us. "Be of good, courage!" is the Master's word to all who are longing and striving to be of the class called "Conquerors."
YOUR ADVERSARY THE DEVIL
Temptations seem to be specially permitted at this season of the year. "Roots of bitterness" seem to sprout and grow always, but at this season with ten-fold vigor. Let us remember that Love, not Knowledge, is the final test of our discipleship. "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another." It was because the apostles had not enough love for one another that they disputed as to which should be the greatest in the Kingdom, and were so determined not to stoop to one another that they neglected also to wash the Master's feet, and gave him the opportunity even in menial things to be servant of all. It was this wrong spirit--this lack of the Lord's Spirit--that made them susceptible to the Adversary's power and led Judas to betray and Peter to deny the Lord's Anointed.
Let us then take heed to ourselves and watch and pray and be very humble and very loving, lest we fall into temptation. Not since that time probably has our great Adversary been more alive than now to do injury or to entrap or to stumble the followers of Jesus.
For the benefit of readers "at the ends of the earth" we published as early as in our February 1st issue a treatise on this Memorial subject; and again in our March 1st issue we discussed the Bread of Life. We commend a fresh examination of those presentations and of our treatment of the subject in DAWN-STUDIES, Vol. VI., page 457.
::R4153 : page 87::
HOLDING FAST AT THE MARK
THERE is no doubt that in the divine schooling there is a mark or standard of fitness for graduation to the Church in glory. When first we surrendered our wills to the Lord it was necessary that the consecration should be a whole or perfect sacrifice of our wills to the Lord's will; but our wills were not at the mark or standard of perfect love. And if our experiences could be imagined as cut short in death immediately after our consecration we could not think of ourselves as "fit for the Kingdom," because the rewards are not promised to consecrators, but to "him that overcometh." Thus in the case of the Master himself, our forerunner, it was necessary that he should suffer and thus be proven worthy of entering into his glory. In a word, as the child cannot be graduated the day he enters school, no more can we who enter the school of Christ.
The rapidity of progress in learning the lessons depends greatly on our temperament and our zeal. Some evidently make as much progress in one year as others do in twenty, and very many never graduate at all--never reach the mark or standard which God demands, perfect love. The Word of God, our textbook, informs us that "Love is the fulfilling of the Law" (`Rom. 13:10`); that "The end or purpose of the divine commandment is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience." (`1 Tim. 1:5`.) "As many, therefore, as be perfect [-willed, at the mark of perfect love] should be of this mind."--`Phil. 3:15-17`.
::R4154 : page 87::
Those who have "thus learned Christ," he has taught the meaning of (1)
perfected love toward God,
which would prompt them to do and to dare anything in his service; (2) of
perfected love for the "brethren,"
which would prompt the laying down of life itself in their service; (3) of
perfected love for the world, yea,
even for enemies,
which would lead to do good to them that hate us and despitefully use us, and say all manner of evil against us falsely.
Alas! we cannot suppose that many of the consecrated have reached this standard or mark; hence we must expect that few have graduated as "fit for the Kingdom"; hence also the intimation of Scripture that the left-overs--non-graduates--will be "a Great Company" as compared with the Little Flock of overcomers who do attain to the mark, the fixed standard. Here, however, it is well to remember that this "mark" or standard of love is not of the flesh but of the mind or heart. As the Apostle says, "We cannot do the things that we would." Our blemishes of the flesh sometimes momentarily stumble us into an unloving word or act,
::R4154 : page 88::
which if repented of will not be reckoned against us nor put us away from the mark and the loving acceptableness of our Lord, which the mark represents.
"LET NO MAN TAKE THY CROWN"
"Hold fast that which thou hast; let no man take thy crown," seems logically to refer specially to those who have reached the mark or standard of perfect love, and not merely to those who have taken the first step of consecration, entrance into the school of Christ. The words, "Hold fast that which thou hast," implies a previous effort and attainment, and that the attainment has had something to do with the
to the crown; and that the position attained must be
if the crown would be ultimately possessed. The intimation is also clear that the holding fast will be at the cost of a severe struggle.
This may be a new and a somewhat startling thought to some who have erroneously supposed either that consecration alone was necessary, or that to attain the mark or standard of perfect love would end the struggle. Apparently, the severest struggles, tests, temptations, assail those who are
at that mark,
and this is in accord with our Master's promise that we shall "not be tempted above that we are able to bear." The stalwarts at the mark should be able to bear most and they will be most severely tried. Mark the exhortations to these, "Watch ye, stand fast, quit you like men." No longer "babes in Christ," "no longer children," their special test is as men, strong in the Lord and panoplied in the whole armor of God. Hearken again to the Word: "Having done all, stand!" These words do not fit one entering the school or entering the race; they are most appropriate to those who have reached the standard of perfect love. Those who have "done all," who have attained the mark of character and "put on the whole armor," are the ones who are cautioned, warned, to "hold fast" and "stand fast" and "fight a good fight."
"WHO SHALL BE ABLE TO STAND?"
These fundamental truths have been true and applicable to the Lord's people throughout this Gospel Age, and hence the narrowness of the way and the few there be who have found and walked therein--in all a little flock. But now, more particularly than ever before, this warning applies and probably to a larger number of the Lord's people than at any time in the past; because we are in the "harvest" time, when the ripening and gathering seems chiefly to apply. It is doubtless for this reason that so many Scriptures seem to specify our time in connection with these warnings. For instance, we read, "Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in
the evil day,
and having done all to stand!"--`Eph. 6:13`.
The logic of this situation implies that during the few years immediately before us will come the severest of trials and the most subtle tests of our love: (1) For God as represented by our love for his Truth and the honor of his name; (2) our love for the Lord's brethren; (3) our love for our enemies. And whenever the "brethren" (of whom so much might be expected) become our enemies the test of our love will be the severer. In view of these things, "What manner of persons ought we to be, in all holy living and God-likeness?" In view of the solemnity of the situation, how "circumspect" we all should be! How we should scrutinize our every act and word and thought! And our thoughts require our special care, because by the
thoughts and intents of the heart
we are being judged. And words and acts proceed therefrom. How often
hides its envious desires under the cloak of
How many of the fires of the "Holy Inquisition" were lighted by the torch of "duty!" Let us each be on guard. Ourselves or others we might deceive, but not God, who says, "Be not deceived, God is not mocked; he that doeth righteousness is righteous"--not merely he who professes. He whose acts and words are loving, gentle, kind, considerate under trying conditions gives evidence of being begotten of the God of love and of having developed much Christ-likeness! Consider our Lord's love for his enemies and his forbearance for them when railed at, "Come down from the cross!" Consider how, when reviled and slandered, he reviled and slandered not in return! Consider how gentle was his reproof of the perfidious Judas and how he merely hinted a reproof to Peter, who denied him with cursings! In his case surely Love was ready to cover a multitude of faults. Let us not be easily offended nor of implacable spirit. Let us with generous and forgiving spirit say with the Apostle, "None of these things move me"--from my stand at perfect love; it shall grow more rooted and grounded in proportion as it is tested. Let us also be on guard against the spirit which is envious of the honors, privileges and blessings granted to another. Contrariwise let us have so much of the spirit of love that we will rejoice with all who rejoice in the Lord and will mourn with all in distress. To feel even a coolness of sentiment in connection with the prosperity of a brother or a lack of interest in his welfare is a sign of serious danger-- that we have slipped from the mark. This should alarm us and lead to fresh energy.
::R4154 : page 88::
QUARTERLY REVIEW LESSON
Golden Text:--"In him was life; and the
life was the light of men."--`John 1:4`.
WE leave the review of the Quarter's lessons to each according to his time and preferences, merely suggesting that the entire subject of our Lord's life and ministry is well summed up in our Golden Text. It divides itself into two parts, the one the result of the other. (1) In him was life, (2) the life that was in him was the light of men.
A strange statement, "In him was life." Is there
::R4154 : page 89::
not life in every man? We answer, No! From the divine standpoint a death sentence passed upon Adam and was inherited by all of his descendants, and from this, the divine standpoint, the legal standard, the whole world is dead, under the sentence of death, because of transgressions and sins, the tendency to which was inherited when, as the Scriptures declare, we were all born in sin, shapen in iniquity. (`Psa. 51:5`.) The statement, therefore, that in Christ there was life implies much. It implies that he did not receive his life, as did other men, from an earthly father. It corroborates the testimony of the Scriptures that our Lord was begotten from above, that his life was transferred from a higher plane, that he left the glory which he had with the Father before the world was and humbled himself and took the bondman's form and was found in fashion a man.--`Phil. 2:8`.
It was because Jesus had life in this special sense which no other man had that he could be the Redeemer of man; as was written of him prophetically, Let go the prisoner out of the pit, for I have found a ransom. (`Job 33:24`.) No member of Adam's race was able to give a ransom for his brother, because all were under condemnation, and one condemned life could not be substituted for another condemned life. Hence the necessity of sending God's Son in human likeness and nature that he, by the favor of God, as the perfect one, having life, "might give his life a ransom for many." Thus, as the Redeemer of the world, our Lord's life was given for father Adam's life, a substitute, and since all of Adam's posterity shared in his death sentence, therefore naturally, justly, properly all who shared thus in his condemnation shared through Jesus in Adam's redemption. Hence a redemption for all has been provided, and God's assurance is that in due time all shall learn thereof and receive a blessing therefrom, an opportunity to return to harmony with God. This opportunity cannot come except through knowledge, and hence it has come first to those who have the hearing ear and are blessed of the Lord thereby. Blessed are your ears for they hear and your eyes for they see. --`Matt. 13:16`.
IN HIM WAS SPIRIT-LIFE
But there was another sense in which this text applies to our Lord Jesus and to him alone. When he had laid down at Calvary his life and finished the work which the Father had given him to do, that life was gone and could never be taken back, except by rescinding the entire contract of redemption. We are glad
::R4155 : page 89::
that this was not done. We remember, however, at the particular time when our Lord made his consecration to death, namely, at the beginning of his ministry, when he was immersed in the symbolism of death, that he received of the Father a begetting of the holy Spirit --he was begotten to a newness of life, to a spirit life. We perceive that the spirit life or new nature progressed and developed during our Lord's earthly ministry, and that at his resurrection from the dead it was this New Creature, this spirit being, that was raised up to perfection, so that our Lord is not a glorified man but, as the Apostle says, "Now the Lord is that spirit."--`2 Cor. 3:17`.
Our text has a special application to this New Creature--"In him was life," the new life, life as a New Creature, partaker of the divine nature. It is this life which the followers of Jesus in the present time are invited also to share. The promise is made to them that if they are baptized into his death, they shall also be in his resurrection. In the divine program all the Church's spiritual rights and interests were thus made to center in Christ; as the Apostle declares, "When he who is our life shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory." (`Col. 3:4`.) It is this divine nature which our Lord has that he has been privileged to give to his followers. Thus it is written, "As the Father hath life in himself, so he has given unto the Son to have life in himself," and that he should give this life of a divine nature unto as many as he would, according to the Father's good pleasure. (`John 5:26`; `17:2`.) He has promised it to those who love him, who follow in his footsteps and become overcomers of the world. Thus the Church throughout this Gospel Age is to be a partaker of the divine nature and is being gradually transformed in harmony with this new life, prepared for the glorious resurrection change at the end of this age, that by this resurrection of the just they may be made partakers of the divine nature and elevated to joint-heirship with their Lord in his Kingdom.
THE LIFE WAS THE LIGHT OF MEN
This second part of the text is applicable to both of the lives of Jesus, to the perfect human life which was his as a man, and also to the perfect life as a New Creature which became his as a result of the begetting of the holy Spirit. The Apostle apparently refers to our Lord's human life when he says, "He was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, the glory [honor] as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (`John 1:14`.) This seems to picture our Lord Jesus as the man and refers to the glory and dignity of his manhood; as the same is again referred to in the `eighth Psalm` in the words, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the Son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels, thou didst crown him with glory and honor and didst place him over the works of thy hands." It is evident from this that there is a glory and an honor which belong to perfect manhood, and that our Lord possessed these is evident not only from this statement of the Apostle John, but also from the testimony of John the Baptist, who knew him before he was anointed and who at first declined to baptize him, declaring that he was in no sense of the word a sinner, and saying, I would rather need to be baptized of thee; and do you come to me for baptism? He recognized our Lord as holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners, aside from his begetting of the holy Spirit. In this manner the life that was in him, the perfection
::R4155 : page 90::
of manhood in him, was the light of men in his day. We cannot doubt that it had much to do with his popularity with the common people. He was full of grace --not only graceful in form, in manner and in speech, but in every other sense of the word he was a favored man. This was the result of his perfection, of his having an unlimited life from an unimpaired source--by reason of his not having had a human father or life-giver. He was full of truth in the sense that his life was not biased or warped; he was not born in sin or shapen in iniquity.*
We come now to the power of the holy Spirit which was in our Lord Jesus--the new life, the divine life. This, shining through our Lord in perfect accord with his perfect flesh, made him a most wonderful one. This indeed was the light of men. It not only shone forth as a burning lamp to reflect the divine character in all of our Lord's doings and words, but it enabled him to speak out to his followers, who had ears to hear the wonderful words of life. It enabled him to grasp the divine plan and to appreciate the pathway leading to the glory, honor and immortality, and to point it out to his followers, saying, "He who would be my disciple must take up his cross and follow me." Thus our Lord illustrated in himself to all who would be his followers the glorious words of the prophecy, "Thou wilt show him the path of life." (`Psa. 16:11`.) By the holy Spirit our Lord was shown that the path of sacrifice meant the path to glory, and similarly he pointed out to his followers that the light which was in him became the light of his followers.
It is in full harmony with this double application that we read elsewhere that our Lord "brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (`2 Tim. 1:10`.) As the man he showed, illustrated, the perfection of human life and made it possible for the whole human family, sold under sin but redeemed by the precious blood, to come eventually to that grand standard of human perfection which he personally represented. This he also told us in his declaration that the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost. (`Luke 19:10`.) Thus we see in our Lord the manifestation of the perfection of restitution life, and we see in his sacrifice how he secured that restitution life for all who will have it at his hand, for the entire human family, and that thus he became the author of life, the Life-Giver to all who would obey him. The great mass of the world have not yet had opportunity to hear him, because their blind eyes and deaf ears have not yet been opened. But in due time they shall have the opportunity of gaining by restitution, through the Redeemer's merit, the life which he brought to light, which he manifested and which he declared he had provided for them.
But what did he provide for the Church? Ah, we answer, the great Deliverer has provided some better thing than restitution life and blessing for the Church --wonderful, grand, as are those provisions for the world in general. For the Church he has provided immortality, the highest form or condition of life, the divine nature, life on the divine plane. This thought is too wonderful for us, it is incomprehensible; we must merely take it without hoping to grasp it or comprehend it fully as yet. It is a testimony to the unspeakable gift of God through Christ Jesus our Lord to all those who obey him, to all of his Little Flock. It is this, the very highest conceivable plane of life, to which our Lord is inviting his followers now, and everything in the divine plan is being made to wait until the Very Elect shall have been gathered from the four winds of heaven, until the Bride of Christ shall have made herself ready, until the polishing processes shall have made the jewels meet for the Master's use, and then by the resurrection change these may pass to glory, honor and immortality. "Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown an animal body, raised a spiritual body!" "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is, and share his glory."
*See SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Vol. V., Chap. IV., "The Undefiled One."
::R4155 : page 90::
THE PROGRESS OF TOTAL ABSTINENCE
--MARCH 29.--`PROV. 23:29-35`--
Golden Text:--"At last it biteth like a
serpent, and stingeth like an adder."
WE shall not attempt a special analysis of this lesson, believing that all of our readers are thoroughly competent to do this, each for himself. We do, however, with pleasure call attention to the fact that total abstinence has been making great progress recently, especially in our own land. Our readers are well aware that we do not admit that there is a total abstinence Gospel and that it is the duty of the Lord's people to be preaching it. On the contrary, while we have much sympathy with reforms along the lines of temperance and every other direction, we recognize the fact that only one Gospel commission has been given to the Lord's followers, namely, Go thou and preach the Gospel, good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people. We are not turning aside from this divine commission to teach temperance, total abstinence, but we do take the passing opportunity of registering our sympathy with the cause, and the joy it would give us to see this great evil of intemperance put down.
So surely as the Lord's people pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," they are hoping the time will come when the liquor evil in its various multiplied forms will be thoroughly overthrown and banished as a part of the devil's instrumentality of evil whereby countless
::R4156 : page 91::
millions have been caused to mourn and helped into further sin and degradation. Whoever looks forward to the coming Kingdom and its work of blessing mankind, in the manner suggested and other ways, must also at heart be very much in sympathy with every endeavor on the part of the poor world to help itself and to get free from this terrible bondage. And such in turn in their own hearts and lives must feel like putting on restraints which would not only keep their bodies suitable temples of the holy Spirit but keep them ready, meet for the Master's use, and at their very highest degree of usefulness for his service. It would be in vain surely for any of this class to pray for God's Kingdom to come and not strive to have that Kingdom operative in themselves and illustrated in their own daily lives to the best of their ability.
From letters received we perceive that the question of license or no license is being very widely discussed and made an issue. Our readers know that in general we advise that as followers of the Lamb it would be to the advantage of the Lord's dear people to avoid complications with political questions and that our privileges as citizens of this country of casting our votes at the polls be generally ignored as being to our disadvantage spiritually. Furthermore we have suggested that voting brings a measure of responsibility for the upholding of the party with which we have affiliated and voted and a partial responsibility for its right or wrong use of power, and might imply a certain responsibility to bear arms, etc. Our advice, therefore, has been that we who are seeking the heavenly city, the heavenly country, and who are praying, "Thy Kingdom come," should wait for that Kingdom, and not meddle with earthly affairs, politics, voting, etc. Now the question arises, Would it be right or wrong for us to vote on the question of local option? Our thought, dear friends, is that it would be perfectly right for us to express our sentiments on this subject at the polls. It is a special question and the law invites every citizen to express his preferences and we do well to express ourselves, not in a partizan manner, not in denunciation of those who think differently, but quietly, meekly, to say by our vote at the polls that we are quite willing to forego our own personal liberties in connection with spirituous liquors for the good which would thereby be accomplished for the masses. And if at the same election a choice were being made for a School Board, we see no objection that could reasonably be urged to an expression of one's preferences there that the best men might be chosen to supervise the school work. But we suggest to all that there is danger of being absorbed by the worldly and political spirit and of having our time and attention taken from other important matters. We would advise that politics in general be left to the children of this world who believe nothing and care nothing for our Kingdom for which we pray, "Thy Kingdom come."
It may not be amiss to give a few quotations from--
ADVOCATES OF TOTAL ABSTINENCE
Mr. Andrew Carnegie, answering a question on this subject, replied, "The best temperance lecture I have delivered lately is my offer of ten per cent. premium on their wages to all the employees of my Scottish estates who will abstain from intoxicating liquors."
The Brotherhood of Railroad Engineers, we are informed, "will do all they can to help a man to overcome the evil habit. They will bear with him, encourage him, but if he continue to drink they must for the safety of the public report him to the authorities and have him discharged." So says one of them.
A military man, an inmate of an institution for reformation of those addicted to the liquor habit, when questioned respecting the necessity for his being there, told that he had tried hard to stop the periodical "bouts," but that he might as well have tried to stop an express train. He said that the helpers at the institution had succeeded in stopping his craving so that he refused a glass of whiskey after the fourth day. The minister who was questioning him said, "But were you not on your honor not to drink it?" "True," replied the major, "but if the craving had come I might have been on fifty honors and they would not have mattered a straw."
A business man at the same institute said, "I came here because I was always telling myself that I could give up drinking just when I wanted to; but one day I was startled to find how my periods of sobriety had shortened from three months to three weeks."
A BUSINESS FIRM RUINED
"A number of years ago a certain firm of four men in Boston were rated as 'A1.' They were rich, prosperous, young and prompt. One of them had the curiosity to see how they were rated at Dun's agency and found the above rating and was satisfied; but at the end these words were added, 'but they all drink.' He thought it a good joke at the time, but a few years later two of them were dead, another was a drunkard, and the fourth was poor, living partly on charity. That little note at the end of their rating was the most important and significant of all the facts connected with embodied in their description."
President Lincoln was once criticised by a friend for his seeming rudeness in declining to test some rare wines provided for his use. He answered, "I meant no disrespect, John, but I promised my precious mother only a few days before she died that I would never use anything intoxicating as a beverage, and I consider that promise as binding today as it was the day I gave it."
ATHLETES CONSIDER LIQUOR INJURIOUS TO THEM
Mr. Giannini, director of the New York Athletic Club, says, "Alcoholic liquors as a beverage, moderate or otherwise, are entirely tabooed by athletic trainers everywhere and under all circumstances."
Mr. H. S. Cornish, director of athletics in the new
::R4156 : page 92::
Manhattan Club, says, "I have never used intoxicating liquor in training, and never will. I do not believe in it. I don't allow a man whom I am training to drink any liquor whatever, or to smoke either for that matter; it stimulates and affects unfavorably the action of the heart."
Total abstinence may be much more necessary today than it was centuries ago, because the race is gradually becoming weakened. It is the same in this as in the matter of marriage. Marriage between blood relatives, even of second cousins, is not sanctioned today because of the weakness of the race, whereas in Adam's time there was the closest of intermarriage, between brothers and sisters, without the slightest deleterious effect. Those who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, says the Apostle, and this argument should especially appeal to all who belong to the Lord's army, who are battling for righteousness and truth and for the uplifting of their fellow-men. Surely those who have their all upon the altar of consecration can well afford to deny themselves liberties in this direction in the interest of others so that their influence may be on the helpful side of this as well as every other question.
::R4156 : page 92::
"WITHIN THE VAIL"
Homesick for heaven? and longing for its rest?
And does the way seem long that leads thee there?
Lift up thine eyes, the "vail" is growing thin
That separates us from its glories rare.
But yesterday a dear one passed beyond--
"Within the vail"--and entered into
And as she passed we caught a radiant glimpse,
As when effulgent glory shineth in the west.
Another link is added to the chain
Of precious gold that draws us surely home,
Another strand is twined with the cord
Of love that holds us that we may not roam.
Yes, one by one his saints are passing o'er,
loved from shadows into heaven's pure light,
Into the joy of his dear presence, where
They feel no more the darkness of earth's night.
But sweeter, grander still, "within the vail"
That almost grows transparent to our gaze,
We see our Master, our beloved Lord,
And lift to him our rapturous songs of praise.
So near we are, we almost catch the strains
Of heavenly music from celestial choirs.
Can we not bide with patience one more hour?
We've almost reached the goal of our desires!
Then let us not go mourning on our way,
But let our hearts be light, our faces glad,
These pressing burdens we shall soon lay down
Forevermore; why, then, should we be sad?
"A cloud of witnesses" behold our course
With interest intense, and shall we
Our race is almost run;--Lord, nerve our hearts,
And scatter every doubt that doth assail.
So clarify our clouded vision, Lord,
So lift our thoughts and hearts to things above,
That earthly woes shall have no power to vex,
Nor separate us from thy grace and love.
While still we toss on life's tempestuous sea,
Shield from the rocks our tiny barques so frail,
Stand at the helm, and guide us safely till
We, too, are anchored safe "within the vail."
Alice G. James.
::R4157 : page 92::
THE SHEPHERD, THE DOOR, THE FLOCKS
--`JOHN 10:1-18`.--APRIL 5--
Golden Text:--"The Good Shepherd
giveth his life for the sheep."--`V. 11`.
THE Scriptures assign many very beautiful and expressive titles to our Lord as descriptive of his relationship to his faithful. Amongst the most beautiful and impressive of these is the Good Shepherd, or, more literally, the grand Shepherd, the ideal Shepherd. Likewise amongst the various names applied to our Lord's followers, the term "sheep" is the one most familiar as well as one of the most fitting. Surely it would never occur to the natural man to use such an illustration. In illustration of what we mean note the fact that the barons and lords of England have adopted various signets, coats of arms, etc., on many of which animals or animals' heads appear. Did any one ever see a sheep's head on any of these? We think not. If we could imagine any earthly lord as adopting a symbol of a sheep, it would surely represent a surly-horned ram. Lions' heads, tigers' heads, eagles' heads, and nondescript heads of ferocious aspect, dragons, etc., are what are usually chosen. This represents the natural mind and the desire that the natural man has to appear strong and ferocious and to intimidate others. He who represented himself as the Good Shepherd and his followers as sheep had a very different idea of the whole matter from that of the natural man, and we who have become his followers should take note of this, and, appreciating it, should cultivate more and more of the sheep-like nature in our relationship to him as the Shepherd.
THE DOOR INTO THE SHEEPFOLD
The parable of our lesson divides itself into two parts, representing Jesus first of all as the door into the sheepfold and secondly as the Shepherd. The fold described in the parable is well represented in the accompanying illustration. It was a place of safety, of rest, of protection from prowling wild beasts and from robbers. There was but one doorway into these folds and it was supposed to be guarded by a porter who would know the true shepherd and admit him and no other. Our Lord declared himself to be the true Shepherd of Jehovah's flock, the only one to whom the porter would grant admission and the only one, therefore, who had the right to control the sheep and who alone could provide for their safety. The porter who could thus discriminate between the true and the false was the Law Covenant.
::R4157 : page 93::
Those who could not answer the Law, who could not fulfil its demands, could not substantiate their claims to being the Shepherd, the Messiah. But our Lord did meet the demands of the Law fully, completely--"in him was no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." He was already holy, harmless, separate from sinners. He is thus identified to us as the rightful Shepherd. Others had come in his name, professing to be the Messiah--false Messiahs--and had endeavored to attract the sheep; but our Lord declares of them that they were fraudulent, "thieves and robbers," who were merely assisting to steal the sheep, and who were actuated not with a desire to profit the sheep but by personal, selfish ambitions.
There was but one way to become the true Shepherd of the Lord's flock and to have a right to lead his flock-- out to the green pastures and still waters of truth and grace and into the rest and security of the fold. That way was the way of the cross--to give himself a ransom for all. This our Lord did and thus he became the door to the sheepfold, opening up a new and living way, or, more correctly, a new way of life. Nevertheless, this is not the making of a new door into the fold, but the opening of the door which had previously been closed. The door was the Law, which could not open except by obedience to the Law; and now our Lord Jesus, having kept the Law, has made it possible for all of his true sheep to enter in by the same door, by the keeping of the Law--not, however, the letter of the Law, which would be impossible to us, but its spirit. Thus the Apostle says of the true sheep and their entering into the fold, "The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit," (`Rom. 8:4`); because our Shepherd has made an appropriation of his grace on our behalf which makes up for us all that we lack. So long as we are his and are striving to walk in his ways every deficiency is compensated out of his abundance. To him the porter openeth, to him the Law and the prophets bear witness.
"BUT THEY UNDERSTOOD NOT"
It is supposed that this parable was uttered in the hearing of the man born blind, who had been expelled from the synagogue, and in the hearing also of the Pharisees, who had so much to do with his expulsion. No doubt the man was feeling discouraged, downcast, because of his excommunication from the supposed fold of the Lord's people. The presumption, then, is that the Lord gave this parable to illustrate the fact that he had not really been cast out of the Lord's fold, but merely out of a human organization by those who had no power in respect to the matter. Our Lord would have him and the Pharisees and his disciples and us see that there is no flock of the Lord except that of which he is the Leader and Shepherd; that there is no way into that flock except through him, through the work which he would accomplish by his sacrifice and through our acceptance of the same by faith. But `verse 6` says the hearers understood not the meaning of the parable, therefore the Lord repeated it in slightly different terms, proclaiming himself as the doorway by which any could enter into divine favor as members of the Lord's flock. Thus the man who had been cast out of the synagogue might perceive that he really had lost nothing, but that on the contrary he had been assisted toward the right door of the true fold, in which rest indeed could be obtained. Now he was invited to see that the Lord alone was the avenue to rest and salvation and to the spiritual refreshment of divine instruction. Others had selfishly sought to steal or to destroy the sheep, if thereby they could advance their own personal interests; but he, as the true Shepherd, instead of seeking his own welfare, was seeking the welfare and advantage of the sheep that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
What a lesson for us! The Master did not say that he came to deliver the sheep from eternal torment, but that he came to deliver them from death. He does not say that they already have a life which they must spend somewhere either in joy or anguish, and that he had come to assist them, so that it should not be spent in anguish; his language, on the contrary, teaches that the sheep could have no life except through him, the Life-Giver; that he had come to give back in due time by restitution processes, to as many as would receive it, the life which was lost by father Adam's disobedience --human life. Yea, he declares that he intended to give life more abundant than that which was lost! How could this be, if father Adam was perfect and as such had everlasting life according to divine arrangement? We answer that the life which the Lord proposes to give to those who are his sheep of this Gospel Age, this Little Flock, is a still higher form and degree of life, namely, immortality, inherent life. These he proposes to make partakers of the divine nature by giving them a share with himself "in his resurrection," the "First Resurrection."--`Phil. 3:10`.
HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR US
This is the central point of our lesson. The Good Shepherd, so far from self-seeking, gladly laid down his life for the sheep, and it was by virtue of thus purchasing the sheep by his own precious blood that their eternal life is possible; without his purchase there would be no flock, and it is by this that he becomes the Shepherd of the flock. How clear, how beautiful the thought, "Ye were bought with a price"! (`1 Cor. 6:20`.) No one else could give this ransom for us, no one else could purchase us or grant us life everlasting, no one else, therefore, could legally become our Shepherd or be able to lead us into the rest and peace of God, into the knowledge of the truth and ultimately into the heavenly fold, the rest that remaineth for the people of
::R4157 : page 94::
God. Worthy the Lamb that was slain to receive glory, honor, dominion and power!
"THE SHEEP HEAR HIS VOICE"
The tales told respecting the shepherds of eastern countries and their flocks are remarkable and illustrate well our Lord's declarations of this parable. Let us examine a few of these that we may sympathetically enter into the spirit of the Lord's words. Those who heard him were familiar with these facts. One writer says:--
"It is one of the most interesting spectacles to see the number of flocks of thirsty sheep water at a fountain. Each flock in obedience to the call of its own shepherd, lies down awaiting its turn. The shepherd of one flock calls his sheep in squads, and when the squad has done drinking, orders it away by sounds which the sheep perfectly understand, and calls up another squad. The sheep never make any mistake as to who whistles to them or calls them. In a flock of hundreds or thousands each individual sheep has a name, knows it and is known by it. The Greeks had a similar custom. The names frequently corresponded to certain defects, as for instance, 'Torn' or 'Broken-Legged,' 'One Eye,' 'Curly Horn,' 'Bald Head.' As lambs they are taught to answer to their names by patient drill, being led back and forth from the rest of the flock and not allowed to go to their mothers for food until they respond properly to the calls. The shepherd never drives his sheep in the East, but goes before them, they follow him, they run after him if he appears to be escaping from them and are terrified if he is out of their sight or any stranger appears instead of him. He calls for them from time to time to let them know that he is at hand, they listen and continue grazing, but if anyone else attempts to produce the same peculiar sounds they look around, startled, and begin to scatter. A Scotch traveler
::R4158 : page 94::
changed clothes with a shepherd, and thus disguised began to call the sheep; they remained motionless; then the true shepherd raised his voice and they all hastened to him in spite of his strange garments."
"HE CALLS HIS OWN SHEEP BY NAME"
The foregoing illustrations help us to appreciate this statement and assist us in applying it to the true sheep of the Lord's Little Flock. "The Lord knoweth them that are his," and it is also true that those who are his know him. "He goeth before them and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice and a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers." The voice of the Lord is the voice of justice, of truth and of love, and all who are his sheep are expected to be able to discriminate between his message and the various false messages which more or less particularly represent the Adversary, who seeks to mislead the flock, using human instrumentality to accomplish the purpose. We have the Lord's assurance that none of the true sheep will be satisfied with the false Gospel; it will not appeal to their hearts, and equally we have the assurance that the true sheep will be satisfied with the true Gospel, because it will satisfy their longings as nothing else will do. This is an important point to keep before our minds. It indicates to us the importance of becoming fully, truly, emphatically the Lord's sheep, of entering into covenant relationship with him and thus making sure his protecting care and instruction.
"I KNOW MY SHEEP"
It becomes an important question then as to how and when we become the Lord's sheep. Are all the wise and the learned, the rich and the great, the Lord's sheep? The Apostle answers, No, and says further that not many of those will be found amongst the sheep--not many wise, not many great, not many learned, not many noble, not many rich, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith. (`1 Cor. 1:26-28`; `Jas. 2:5`.) Are all of the poor, then, the Lord's sheep? We answer, No! These different flocks do in a general way indeed hold the name of Christ. But surely not many of them give evidence of being his disciples, his followers. Many of them know little about his Word, his voice; many of them know nothing about his leading into green pastures and by still waters of divine truth and grace, many of them know nothing about the real fold with its rest and peace and protecting care. Their lack in these respects shows that they are not of the true flock whom the Lord is leading, though true sheep of the Lord may be found in each denomination. But wherever they may be, if they are his, they are being led and being fed and know him and know his voice, his Word, and are dissatisfied with the husks of human tradition.
"THE HIRELING FLEETH"
Many, indeed, might have been glad of the honor of being the Shepherd, the caretaker of the Lord's flock, but the test, the cost, was too great for them. We may well suppose that many of the angels would have been glad to occupy such a position--but would they have been willing to undertake it at the cost involved? Many amongst men have coveted the office of a shepherd both before our Lord's day and since; but while none of them could have bought the sheep, since all were under condemnation, we have no reason to suppose that any of them would have been willing to purchase them at the cost of his all. The Lord's words seem to imply this. Only the true Shepherd was willing to make the sacrifice and to lay down his life for the sheep. We may remark here that while there is but one Shepherd of the Lord's flock, he, in his absence, has made provision for his flock, that he would give them pastors and teachers who were to feed the flock of God and to watch for their souls, for their lives, to protect their interests.
It is in line with the Master's teaching that we find that he expects all who would be worthy of this position of feeding this flock, shepherding them, must have his spirit, his willingness to lay down their lives for the sheep, and in their defense, as his representatives, to protect them from the Adversary and his various snares and machinations and from the wolves in sheep's clothing who would make merchandise of them that they might bring them into bondage, into human pens separate and apart from the true fold opened by the true Shepherd and who would feed them upon the husks of human tradition, instead of leading them to the green pastures of "Present Truth." As the true sheep know the true Shepherd and are known by him, so the true Shepherd should know the true under-shepherds and they should know the sheep intimately. Those who utter a voice or call of their own cannot be recognized by the true Shepherd or by the true sheep; the faithful under-shepherd will
::R4158 : page 95::
speak not only the words but also in the tones, in the manner of the true Shepherd.
How comforting the assurance of `verse 14`, "I know mine own and mine own know me, even as the Father knoweth me and I know the Father"! (R.V.) What a beautiful description we here have of the precious relationship between the Lord and his own! The comparison between his knowledge and that of the Father is forceful, and, as our Lord elsewhere pointed out, they that know not him know not the Father. How important from the divine standpoint is knowledge, not merely head knowledge, but heart knowledge, intimate acquaintance with the Lord and his glorious plan!
ONE FLOCK AND ONE SHEPHERD
An important truth is set forth in `v. 17`: There is only the one fold now provided for the Lord's sheep, and in it all of his true ones of this Gospel Age find rest and peace through faith and obedience. This is the Little Flock, to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom. Many have supposed in the past that this Elect Little Flock which will receive the Kingdom glory, honor and immortality will be the only ones ever recognized of the Lord as his sheep, that all others will be consigned to purgatory or to eternal torment. But the erroneousness of this view is abundantly shown in this verse where our Lord distinctly declares that he has other sheep not of this fold, others who have not yet entered into its rest of faith which we have entered, hoping for the glories of the Kingdom beyond. Let us have a good view of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of divine love and provision in Christ: that the whole world was lost in sin and death through father Adam's disobedience, and that the whole world was redeemed by the precious blood of Christ! Let us see that as yet only a special class has been called out of darkness into the Lord's marvelous light and into the privileges of the present sheep-fold conditions! Let us note that the great mass of mankind are without God and have no hope in the world, because their eyes are blinded and their ears are stopped and they know not of the grace of God and have not yet received of the blessings!
But let us hearken also to the declaration of the Lord that in due time all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped! Let us hearken to his declaration that the Little Flock now being selected are to constitute his Bride and joint-heirs in the Kingdom and that then, through him and his glorified Bride, the blessing of the Lord shall be extended to every member of the race. The Sun of Righteousness shall shine forth with healing in his beams, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Then the gathering of the sheep of the other flock will begin, as recorded in `John 10:16`. At that time the present flock will have passed beyond the vail into the Kingdom and its glories. Then the present fold will be at an end and there will be no use for such a fold in the future, for thieves and robbers will not be permitted then--"nothing shall hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [Kingdom]." (`Isa. 11:9`.) Then the great Adversary shall be bound for a thousand years that he may deceive the sheep no longer until the thousand years are finished. Meantime the whole world of mankind will be under the instruction of the Lord and his Bride class, and the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth. (`Hab. 2:14`.) The effect will be a test of humanity, and some will come gladly, voluntarily, into accord with the Lord as his sheep and be accepted to his right hand, to his favor, as the kind upon whom he is pleased to bestow everlasting life. Others under the same favorable conditions will manifest the goat-like, the wayward disposition and be gathered gradually to the left hand of disfavor as of those who have the spirit of the Adversary, which cannot be favored of the Lord. These ultimately with Satan, at the close of the Millennial Age, will be utterly destroyed in the Second Death. Their punishment will be everlasting, because their death will be everlasting; they will never be resurrected, theirs will be the Second Death--symbolically Gehenna, destruction.
None will deny that throughout the Gospel Age there is a large class who have never heard of the only name given under heaven and amongst men whereby they must be saved and who, therefore, have never had an opportunity of becoming members of the Lord's flock. That they have gone to heaven without a knowledge of the "only name" is unscriptural as well as unreasonable, and that they have gone to eternal torment without an opportunity for salvation is equally unscriptural and unreasonable. That the Lord intends to use the Very Elect Little Flock of this Gospel Age as his kings and priests during the Millennium, to carry his mercy and favor to all of these and to give them an opportunity of becoming members of the human flock to whom he will be pleased to give eternal life, is both reasonable and Scriptural.
ONE FLOCK, BUT NOT ONE FOLD
Our common version declares, "There shall be one fold and one Shepherd," but this is not borne out by the Greek
::R4159 : page 95::
text, which is more properly rendered in the Revised Version and in the Diaglott--"There shall be one flock and one Shepherd." This is in full agreement with the Apostle's statement (`Eph. 1:10`) that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one [literally, under one head] all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in him. Ultimately all of God's creation will be under the headship of this great Shepherd, who is now the Head of the Church, the Little Flock, and who in future will be Head over angels also and over restored humanity. The flock will be one, but the sheep will be of various natures on various planes of being; as it is written, "In my Father's house are many mansions," many apartments, many planes, but all harmonious, grand. But the highest of all these planes, the plane of glory, is that to which the Lord has invited the Little Flock, the Bride class of this Gospel Age. Let us hear his voice, let us follow in his footsteps, let us make our calling and election sure!