Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
VOL. XXIX. JUNE 15 No. 12
A.D. 1908--A.M. 6036
Views from the "Watch Tower"......................179
The Power of the Pulpit.......................179
Clerical Weaknesses Dramatized................179
Episcopalian Papers on Anglo-Roman Union......180
"The Gospel Which I Preached".....................181
St. Paul's Gospel Summary.....................181
"Walk as Children of Light".......................182
"Things Which are Done in Secret".............183
The Seven Walks...................................184
"To the Feet of Him" (Poem).......................185
"Pay Thy Vows Unto the Lord"......................186
Israel's Wrong Course.............................188
They Desired a King...........................188
Immanuel's Kingdom Autocratic.....................190
Some Interesting Letters..........................190
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
THE POWER OF THE PULPIT
THE Rev. Jonston Meyer, of Chicago, is reported to have recently told the theological students of the Chicago University that the people are tiring of preaching, that the power of the pulpit is on the decline, and that the people continue going to church only from force of habit, to hear the preacher. A Detroit newspaper, in an editorial, asks Dr. Meyer where oratory could find a weightier matter for discussion than in the redemption of mankind, and then speaks as follows about the great preachers of the past:
"These people knew what they believed, and preached what they believed, without apologies, without reservations, and without dodging inconvenient facts. Perhaps they were sensationalists, but only because their message was intensively dramatic. Their confidence in their mission was the secret of their strength. Dr. Meyer would have been more correct had he said that modern preaching is losing its power because those engaged in it are half-hearted evolutionists and not expositors of the Scripture. They are as highly educated as their predecessors, perhaps just as polished and eloquent, but they are not so sure of the ground on which they stand, not so certain, or if they are they lack the courage openly to state what they secretly believe. The ministers are, therefore, degenerated and give, in place of a sermon, a literary treatise, which convinces nobody. It is the sensationalism of the melodrama, and not the sensationalism which lends to the tragedy of the Master's undying power. The sooner the pulpit is no longer the place of entertainment in competition with the theater and the lecture stage, that much sooner will it regain its old power and those ministers who will preach without fear the gospel which they have believed, and do so without bending their necks under the public opinion will have comparatively little reason for complaint."
SPIRIT MANIFESTATIONS IN ITALY
Rome.--Ancona has a peculiar kind of haunted house, the residence of Sig Maracini, the public prosecutor. Unique in the annals of psychical research is the particular kind of manifestation with which this residence has been visited. The extraordinary happenings are thus described by the sons of Sig. Maracini, who are both lawyers:
For several days the strangest things have been happening in unoccupied rooms. Meanwhile there was an electrical disturbance, and all the bells in the house began to ring. Nothing, however, was wrong with the electric installation.
But the most remarkable thing was the discovery of jets of water springing from the walls and almost flooding the floors. In the dining room milk welled up from the floor. We had the walls examined, the flooring broken up and the blocks raised, but not the least traces of milk, water or any other liquid was found.
A cup filled with milk suddenly appeared in the dining room, followed by a cup of coffee and milk. Our father cried jokingly:
"Coffee and milk? Bah! I should prefer wine." Shortly afterward we saw a liquid running from the walls; it was wine. Once a pear appeared, and then we recalled that our little sister had asked at table for a pear, but was refused, as she had already eaten enough fruit. The pear was on a dish which was locked away in the sideboard. When the latter was opened the pear was no longer there. We then thought that some mysterious medium-like force might be exercised by our sister, so we watched her carefully and followed the child, when she rose from the table. When she passed close to a book shelf where there were two volumes on Spiritualism one of the books was raised in the air. It touched the girl several times on the shoulders, then danced for a few moments in the air, and then was clapped against the wall at the very spot whence the milk had issued.--
* * *
We keep track of such manifestations, as they are in line with and leading up to
developments and manifestations by the demons who personate the dead. It will be noted that all who to any degree meddle with spirits, mediums, seances, etc., seem to make themselves the more liable to annoyances of this kind. Note the reference to two books on Spiritism and the kindnesses expressed. We know of at least two cases where
volumes aroused an opposite sentiment in the spirits--the demons. "The darkness hateth the light!"
CLERICAL WEAKNESSES DRAMATIZED
"The stage has been so often assailed by the Church that the time appears to have come for a turning of the tables. A play just produced in Baltimore, called 'The Servant in the House,' sets out to show that 'the Church, as at present constituted, is a hollow mockery from foundation to dome, and
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that if Christ were to be born today instead of two thousand years ago, the first people, or rather the only class, he would revile would be the clergy.' The Church is measured by its own yard-stick and found wanting.
"The scene is the home of a young English vicar and his wife. Into the home comes 'the servant in the house.' He is introduced as an Indian butler and he performs good service.
"In the home of the vicar is his niece, the daughter of a long-absent brother, a miserable, drunken specimen of humanity. This representative of Socialism and the dregs of London unexpectedly shows up and incidentally becomes the real 'hero' of the play. He is the 'drain-pipe,' as he says--for there must be drain-pipes--that carries off all doubt and sorrow. He finds the trouble, all the trouble, right under the foundation of the crumbling church. His dramatic description of the cesspool of sham and show and form and creed, and miserable hypocrisy, that he discovers right under the pulpit, makes his parson brother throw off his coat and jerk off his clerical habiliments with disgust.
"'I am no longer a preacher, a pretender,' he declares. 'I am a man. I disown my creeds and my shams. I go to do the work of a man; the work that God has shown me.'
"But into the house comes what the 'servant' calls 'the abomination.' He is
James Ponsonby Makeshrift, D.D.,
the Most Reverend, the Lord Bishop of Lancaster--a mighty man in the Church. His main object in life, he confesses confidentially, is to swell the ranks of 'The Society for the Promotion and the Preservation of Emoluments of the Clergy.' He is the friend of the wealthy men and he gets them to dig deep into their pocketbooks. He is scornful of all that is not sanctimonious.
"The Bishop is finally forced to confess that his doctrine, and the secret doctrine of all his profession, is 'to give as little as possible and grab as much as we can.'"--
EPISCOPALIAN PAPERS ON ANGLO-ROMAN UNION
The Protestant Episcopal Church bids fair to have a vigorous question on its hands regarding the movement for Anglo-Roman union. The tendency of which this is a crystallized form has been frequently treated in her Church organs, but the steps taken under the leadership of the Rev. Father Paul James Francis, General of the Society of the Atonement, have precipitated something like a crisis. His new organization (treated in our issue of February 22) aims "to promote the corporate union with the Apostolic See." It seems to have been mainly inspired as a protest against the action taken by the Episcopal Church at its general convention at Richmond last fall in adopting the canon of the open pulpit, allowing any one, whatever his denominational affiliations, to preach in the pulpits of the Episcopal Church if he first obtains the consent of the bishop of the diocese. The new union, then, is in its nature reactionary.
(New York), in commenting upon Father Francis' movement, assumes a favorable attitude, but criticises the members of the Anglo-Roman union as bad "students of facts when they interpret to the public what can be done or what has been done by the Apostolic See of Rome under curial control inspired by traditions of absolutism, handed down and enforced through long years of incapacity and wilful aspirations for temporal control." But the importance of what the new movement aims at,
points out, "lies in the fact that churchmen on all sides, of all kinds and conditions, are beginning to recognize that reunion is a thing not to be talked about only, but to be worked for." This paper favors the project of the Anglican communion in trying to do away with its "isolation." Thus:
"While hosts of people are pressing for closer relations with historic Protestant bodies, there should be the same liberty in the Anglican Church for a movement toward closer relation with Roman Catholics. Disloyalty should not be charged in either direction. There is not only the same liberty in the one that there is in the other, but there is the same necessity. The wrong attitude or the wrong-doing of Romanism and Protestantism does not lessen our duty toward unity. No kind of separation can be looked upon as a finality. Such men as Archbishops Temple and Maclagan, when they addressed a letter to Pope Leo XIII. on Anglican Orders, spoke of him as their venerable brother. Does this term of address mean nothing? Is not Christian courtesy based, after all, on the reality found in Christ's teaching as to what brother means, as to what brotherhood implies?
"The Anglo-Roman union is not the sign of a revolution, but in a double sense it is a sign of the times, however insignificant its numbers. The desire for union of some sort is becoming universal among Christians, and publicity is a distinctive sign of the times. The members of the Anglo-Roman union in proclaiming their desires and their methods to the world, protect themselves from any charge of treachery or treason. In this respect, at least, they are to be congratulated in contrast with those who would Latinize and yet localize the American Church as a petty sect in opposition to the worldwide sectarianism of the Roman Communion. If it is right and praiseworthy that men should desire and work for union in Protestant directions, it must in all fairness be admitted that men should be allowed the same privilege to work for unity in the other direction."
The idea that "Uniat churches" would result from the going over to Rome
calls "a mere pipe-dream." It adds:
"We wonder that these men do not reflect upon the peril in which they leave their immortal souls. They cannot plead invincible ignorance, for they admit that Rome is right and Anglicanism is wrong. They cannot plead their good intentions, for the Holy Father is perfectly well aware of the quixotic nature of their enterprise, and he would prefer to have them execute the much better intention of following out their logic. It is nothing to him that they admit his primacy and supremacy, for that is merely academic so long as they fail to do the logical and practical thing. Until they shall do that and make their submission, from his point of view they are contumacious rebels against his authority, all the more because they admit that authority with all its implications. We have no wish to see any of our clergy or communicants go to Rome; but, as a matter of elemental honesty and for the peace of the Church, we should be really glad if those who thus proclaim themselves to be alien to our faith and polity were consistent and scrupulous. They should go out from us because they are not of us. It is painful to have a carbuncle lanced, but it is better for the body to let out the poisonous humor. These men are living in a realm of utter illusion. They grant all the premises of the Roman argument and flinch at the conclusion. The inference from their admissions is not the propriety of their staying where they are until they can convert the whole Church; it is that they should make haste to save their own souls by acknowledging the vicar of Christ and shaking from their feet the dust of the doomed city. To refuse this act of obedience is an exercise of private judgment more groundless than any Protestant's, and none would be more forward to tell them so than Archbishop Ryan or Cardinal Gibbons, or his Holiness, Pope Pius X."
The Living Church
(Milwaukee) is the organ of the extreme high-church party of Episcopalianism, and has long striven toward achieving a "Catholic unity," but one which does not recognize the primacy of the Papal See. Concerning this movement it says:
"Gentlemen who are taking up with this latest novelty in religion must realize that they are seriously embarrassing us who would maintain the Catholic position among Anglicans. If they were strong enough to prove a serious factor in our Church life, they would prove a most useful ally to ultra-Protestants, in assuring churchmen that the
terminus ad quem
of the Catholic Movement is Rome. All of us, we trust, desire unity, and unity that left Roman Christendom out would be far from complete; yet it would be cowardly for us to surrender, for the sake of unity, the impregnable position with
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respect to Catholicity which we hold. This position is that the Catholic Church is complete wherever the valid ministry of the Church, in its threefold orders, is teaching the Catholic faith and administering the Catholic sacraments with the living Presence of the Holy Spirit in her; that any primacy, whether of Rome or of any other see, depends upon the Church, and not the Church upon the primacy; that the faith can be finally defined only by the consensus of the whole Church, expressed generally and corporately as such consensus, and not by any single bishop; and that unity will eventually come, in the good providence of God, if at all, by the recognition throughout the Church of the equal authority of all bishops severally, and the appellate authority of all of them collectively.
"We cannot do otherwise, then, than to condemn this movement which some have sought to exploit, through this most recent of ecclesiastical novelties. Whatever else may be said for or against it, we repudiate it as an expression of Catholic churchmanship."--
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"THE GOSPEL WHICH I PREACHED"
--`I COR. 15:1-20`.--JUNE 21.--
Golden Text:--"But these things are written that ye
might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
and that believing ye might have life
through his name."--`John 20:31`.
THIS lesson is appointed as a review for the Quarter, and no doubt will be profitable to many so to use it. We, however, call attention to the reading lesson as a summary of the entire Gospel of Christ. The Apostle declares, "I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain."--`vs. 1,2`.
From these words we perceive how important faith is to present salvation. Whoever cannot believe, whatever the lesson, cannot be saved in this present time. Whoever has not heard the Gospel, as in the case of the heathen, is not saved in ignorance, and whoever has heard the Gospel and does not keep it in memory and thus loses its power will miss the present salvation; or, if it should be kept in memory, still it might be useless because of failure to allow the Gospel message to act properly upon the heart and life. These things being true we perceive how important it is for us to have a pure Gospel, to know the truth, for nothing but the truth can make us free. We do not mean by this that full knowledge of the truth is necessary either to our justification or to our consecration; we do not mean that if we have a measure of error mixed with our knowledge of the truth this would keep us from the privileges of justification and sanctification; on the contrary, nearly all of us were justified and brought into relationship with God while we had as yet much error in our minds. It was not, however, the error which justified nor the error which led us to sanctification or consecration; only the truth could so profit us. The more truth we have at the beginning the more favored we are, and we are blessed then in proportion as we get rid of the errors and superstitions which becloud our mental vision. The truth alone can make us entirely free, and hence we cannot enter fully into the enjoyment of all the blessings and privileges while as yet we are hampered by error. But may we not say that it is entirely probable that we shall be hampered by some errors, some confusion to the very end of our journey, and that not until our change shall come shall we know as we are known?
ST. PAUL'S GOSPEL SUMMARY
The Apostle summarizes our Christian faith saying, "I delivered unto you first of all [as of primary importance] that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures." This much of knowledge is necessary to anyone who would be properly termed a believer, a Christian. Hence the heathen, whatever their condition in their ignorance of these facts, could not be believers, could not be Christians. This is the faith which justifies, and those who have it not are not justified. It recognizes "our sins" and "Christ's death" as our ransom-price, and Christ's resurrection, as evincing the satisfying of divine justice, and that the Redeemer lives to carry out the glorious features of our salvation. There was a time when to us, as still to the majority of Christians, all this matter was hazy because of the false doctrines, false theories which filled our minds, leading us to believe that eternal torment was the penalty for sin and hindering us from understanding how Christ's death could meet our penalty therefor. Then again the error that the minute of dying means getting more alive hinders one from understanding how the Lord died for our sins and also hinders appreciation of the meaning of his resurrection from the dead. Nevertheless, we were justified even in our ignorance of the philosophy of these matters, justified because our faith accepted the general facts, namely, that we were sinners and that Christ did something acceptable in God's sight as the ransom price for our sins, and that now by the grace of God we are thereby relieved from the condemnation and brought back into fellowship of heart with him.
The Apostle then proceeds to recount the evidence respecting our Lord's resurrection, apparently confining himself to those manifestations which our Lord made to the apostles. Thus he mentions Cephas, or Peter, but does not mention Cleophas, who was one of the two with whom the Lord talked on the way to Emmaus. Neither does he mention the appearance to Mary and the other women on the day of the resurrection. Although he mentions the five hundred brethren the apostles were amongst them. He is summing up the strongest kind of evidence respecting our Lord's resurrection, and finally says, "Last of all he was seen of me also as of one born before the time"--as of premature birth. That is to say, St. Paul saw our Lord not in fleshly form, but shining above the brightness of the noonday sun; he saw him as a spirit being, as all the Church hope to see him after they shall have experienced the resurrection change, when they shall be like him and see him as he is (not as he was) and share his glory.
"SO WE PREACHED--SO YE BELIEVED"
The Apostle was combating the heathen theory that a resurrection of the dead was unnecessary. Some claimed that the dead would never rise, others that in
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the moment of dying they become more alive than ever. The Apostle lays down the Christian teaching on the subject, namely, that the dead are dead and that without a resurrection there would be no hope. Those to whom he wrote were shortsighted; they claimed still to believe the resurrection of Jesus, but had dropped the thought of the necessity of a resurrection for others. The Apostle seeks to re-establish them by pointing out that all the hope they had received as Christians was built upon the resurrection of Jesus, that a dead Savior would be of no assistance to them; that his teaching and the teaching of the other apostles had been, that while the merit of the redemption resided in the sacrifice of Christ yet the redemption itself was equally dependent upon the resurrection of him who died for us, because a dead Savior could not help us. He says, "So we preached, and so ye believed; how, then, say some amongst you that there is no resurrection of the dead;" that you do not now see the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection respecting the Church? If it was important in respect to our Lord, is it not equally so in respect to the Church and the world? If, as some claim, the doctrine of the resurrection is foolish and false, then Christ is not risen. Do you say, What if he is not risen? I answer, "Then is our preaching vain, your faith is also vain, and we are found false witnesses to God, because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ; whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised."--`Vs. 13-15`.
Thus does the Apostle link together the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus with the doctrine of the resurrection of the Church and of the world. If the latter is not true the former is not true; if the resurrection of Christ was necessary, the resurrection of the Church and of the world is also necessary. With what clinching argument the Apostle sets this forth, saying, "If Christ be not risen your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins; yea, also, they that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." If Christian people in general would study this lesson and allow it to have its proper weight in their minds, it would settle certain questions thoroughly. They would decide to throw away, either the teachings of the Apostle and the whole Bible respecting the condition of man in death (that he was really dead or figuratively said to be "asleep," waiting for the resurrection change in the Millennial morning), or else they would throw away the human theories that are blinding and confusing them on this subject and which teach that the dead are not dead but more alive than ever, neither dead nor asleep, but in heavenly glory or eternal torment. Let us take the Apostle's standpoint and rest our hearts and our faith thereupon. Christ died, and on the third day arose from the dead. His followers and the whole world died, and in the Millennial morning they are to come forth, the Little Flock in the First Resurrection of the blessed and holy, the world in general in the general resurrection unto judgment or trial or testing in respect to their willingness to become God's people or not.
OUR GOLDEN TEXT
The following references by another Apostle are fully in harmony with those of St. Paul: The Gospel was written that those who have the hearing ear and the proper heart might be enabled to believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing they might have life through his name. (`John 20:31`.) Not that merely believing will bring the life, for "devils also believe and tremble," but that believing brings them into that relationship with God where it is possible for them to become followers of Jesus, pupils in the school of Christ to learn of him; to be assisted in walking in his footsteps, to learn of their high calling of God in Christ Jesus, and by assistance granted, to make their calling and election sure to life eternal as members of his Little Flock, his Bride class. All this is possible in his name, in his merit, but none of it is possible on any other terms or conditions, for "there is none other name given under heaven and amongst men whereby we must be saved." We thank God, however, that while only the few have the hearing ear now, and hence only the few hear the divine call now, yet by and by all the deaf ears shall be unstopped; the message will be delivered in no uncertain tones and all shall know, from the least to the greatest, of divine love and mercy in Christ, and shall have the opportunity of accepting the same in his name or of rejecting and coming under the divine condemnation of the Second Death.
Let us see to it with diligence, that having been favored so highly as we are, it shall not be said of us that we received the grace of God in vain! Receiving it let us use it, let us improve the opportunity, let us make our calling and election sure!
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"WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT"
--`EPHESIANS 5:6-21`.--JUNE 28.--
Golden Text:--"Be not drunk with wine, wherein is
excess; but be ye filled with the Spirit."--`v. 18`.
AS implied by the selection of the Golden Text, the International Sunday-School Study styles this a Temperance Lesson. We shall not, however, treat it particularly from that standpoint, as we do not consider that such was the apostolic thought, except in the sense that temperance and abstinence from evil in any form are the inculcations of holy Scripture for all who have named the name of Christ. Thus the Golden Text properly sets before us that there is one spirit of the world and another spirit of the Lord; one a spirit of error, the other the spirit of truth. We are no longer to walk in darkness as others--in sin, in rioting, in drunkenness, in debauchery of various kinds; the Christian course is the very reverse of this, for he has turned his back on all these experiences and is walking in the light of the lamp, toward the things that are perfect, toward the things set before him in the divine Word and plan. Instead of needing alcoholic spirits for his refreshment he has the Spirit of the Lord, the holy Spirit, which exhilarates; it overcomes the spirit of gloom and fear, it does for him much more than alcoholic spirits could do for the natural man in the way of blotting out unpleasant memories and bringing in happiness.
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THE SEVEN WAYS OF THIS EPISTLE
The Epistle to the Ephesians is one of the grandest books of the Bible. Deeply spiritual it appeals thoroughly only to the consecrated. Its central thought is the New Creation; that the justified by a consecration of their justified humanity, when accepted of the Lord, are begotten of the holy Spirit to be New Creatures in Christ. For such, old things have passed away--earthly hopes, earthly aims and ambitions; their earthly rights have been surrendered, and instead of them, heavenly prospects have been received by faith and are waited for, with the expectation that they will be received in the First Resurrection. The first part of the book of Ephesians relates to the theory, the philosophy of the change from human to spiritual, from humanity to membership in the New Creation; the last chapters of the book point out to us the effect of this change, not only upon the sentiments of the New Creature, the new will, but also the effect of the change upon the mortal body, which the new mind is supposed thereafter to hold in check, to govern, to control with more and more decision and ability as it grows stronger in the Lord and in the power of his might. The New Creature is to keep the old creature, the body, under; to keep it dead, buried. Our lesson relates particularly to this phase of the subject--the New Creature's battle and victory and its preservation, which is dependent upon the maintenance of its rule over the flesh.
The opening words of our lesson (`v. 6`), "Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience," should not be understood to signify that God's wrath comes because of vain words. The things which bring the wrath are mentioned in the preceding `verses (3-5`), fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, ribaldry; for, as the Apostle explains, those in whom these characteristics are dominant, or those in whom the characteristics are sympathized with, can have no inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words on this subject, telling you that such things are natural, proper, excusable. They have indeed become second nature to many of the fallen race, but if any who have become New Creatures in Christ love the unclean things, sympathize with them, desire them, or jest about them, they are far from the condition which is becoming to saints. Such a mental attitude on their part would imply that they had either never been begotten of the Spirit of holiness or else they were returning again like a sow that was washed to wallow in the mire. These things are characteristic of the children of disobedience, but not characteristic of the children of obedience. The Apostle says elsewhere, Such were ye; but now ye are washed, but ye are justified, but ye are sanctified through the Lord Jesus Christ. (`I Cor. 6:11`.) In our lesson he exhorts, "Be ye not, therefore, partakers with them," with the children of disobedience; for ye were once in darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.
"WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT"
He proceeds to show how the children of light should walk, saying, The fruit of the Spirit, wherever it is found, is goodness and righteousness and truth-- therefore, the holy Spirit never prompts to badness, unrighteousness, untruthfulness. And whoever has
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received the holy Spirit, whoever has been begotten of the Lord as his child, will want to prove, to demonstrate, to ascertain thoroughly what is acceptable unto the Lord; what the Lord will be pleased with, not merely what would not merit severe punishment from the Lord, not merely what the Lord would wink at and not take serious offence from, but far beyond all this! Whoever properly has the spirit of a son must desire to know the Father's will and delight to do it, and that will is in all purity, goodness, righteousness, truth, honesty. The influence of this determination of the New Creature to please God, to do his will, will signify that his life, that his heart and so far as possible every act and word of his will be in accord with goodness, in accord with the principles of righteousness which God represents--in accord with truth.
"HAVE NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THE UNFRUITFUL WORKS OF
DARKNESS, BUT RATHER REPROVE THEM"
We are responsible not only for what we ourselves may do and think as New Creatures, but our responsibility goes out beyond ourselves to the brethren, to all who in any sense of the word come under our influence. Obscene jesting certainly is to receive no encouragement, to provoke no laughter, but rather to call forth a gentle, loving rebuke. Brother, Sister, let us set our affections on things above--let us walk in the light, let us think of and discuss whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good repute. Let us put away from our conversation and from our thoughts everything that would be defiling and ensnaring to ourselves or to others. Failure to reprove is a measurable endorsement of the wrong. A word in season--how good it is, how helpful! But it is equally important that the word of reproof be wisely and lovingly given, otherwise it may do harm where we intended good; as the Scriptures say, "Speak the truth in love."
"THINGS WHICH ARE DONE IN SECRET"
"It is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret"--that are done in the dark. The Apostle's intimation is that the whole world lieth in darkness, and in the wicked one and in sin, and that the Lord's people of the New Creation have accepted his leadership in the opposite direction; that they are children of the light and should walk accordingly in the light, and that they should lift up the light of truth; that they should allow the holy Spirit to shine forth for the reproving of the world, for the reproving of darkness, and for the setting up of a standard of righteousness in harmony with the Lord's example.
The Apostle here reminds us of the prophetic statement, "Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." This should be our attitude toward all who are still unregenerated. The world lieth in the wicked one, in sin, in darkness. Instead of having fellowship with them in the works of darkness, instead of sharing in their foul jesting, we are rather to reprove them and to direct them according to the above Scripture, to awake from their stupor, from their sleep, to recognize conditions from their true standpoint, and that, getting awake, they should realize that they are sinners; that the wage of sin is death, and that the tendency of sin is downward--and that they should rise from the dead, should separate themselves from the world, not only so far as their conduct
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is concerned, but so far as their conversation and their sympathies are concerned, that all these should be turned toward the Lord, toward the truth, toward the light. It is to those who thus separate themselves from the world and its spirit that the Lord has promised to give light, a little and a little more and a little more, for the path of the justified, the path of those following in the footsteps of Jesus, will shine more and more until the perfect day.
THE SEVEN WALKS
The Christian's walk of course means his course of conduct, including thoughts and words and acts. The Apostle indicates very clearly what this work or course of the Christian should be, outlining it in seven different ways.
(1) The New Creature
not according to the course of this world, not according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit which now worketh in the children of disobedience. (`Eph. 2:3`.) This is the walk of the world, the walk of evil-doers, the walk of the children of wrath; it is the very opposite of the walk of the children of the light.
(2) The New Creation should walk in good works-- "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them."--`Eph. 2:10`.
(3) The New Creation should "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called." (`Eph. 4:1`.) Their vocation is the very highest of all; they are the representatives of the Lord and Master; they bear his name, and should seek in everything to glorify it and never to dishonor it. What we do, what we say, what we think --in fact, even general appearance and deportment, and where we are seen, all reflect more or less upon the great King, whose ambassadors we are. Our vocation is that of servants of God, and no earthly avocation should be permitted in any degree to hinder or abridge the influence or the service which we have undertaken as children of God, as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord, prospective members of his Bride class, his Kingdom class.
(4) The New Creation are to "walk not as other Gentiles walk." (`Eph. 4:17`.) We are not merely to refrain from the sins and gross immoralities of the natural man, but we are to allow this principle or spirit to pervade all of life's interests. We are to refrain from following foolish, worldly fashions, from being influenced by a worldly spirit; we are to have the Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of a sound mind to direct us in our joys, in our sorrows, in our wedding celebrations, in our funeral services--in fact, whatsoever we do we are to do to the glory of God and are not to be influenced by the spirit of the world, but contrariwise are to set a proper example for the world in all matters --in gentleness, kindness, patience, faithfulness to the Lord and to duty. The walk of the world is on the broad road; the walk of the Church is on the narrow path. As we progress in Christian experience, we find this path getting farther and farther away from the broad road which the world is traveling, and whoever tries to keep pace with the world will in many respects be apt to find himself leaving the narrow path or otherwise disadvantaging himself as a New Creature.
(5) The New Creation is to "walk in love." (`Eph. 5:2`.) Their words, their deeds, everything with which they are connected, is to be governed by this law of the New Creation--love. "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you." In compliance with this law of love and our Lord's glorious example, the Apostle says we ought to so love one another as to be willing to lay down our lives for the brethren. We should be ready to lay down a few months, a few years; we should be ready at any time we can find an opportunity of service for a brother, especially along the lines of his spiritual or higher interests as a New Creature. This spirit of love is to control our conduct with all; we are to love our neighbors and seek to do them good, to serve their interests. "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor," would not take advantage of his neighbor to cheat him, to injure him in any manner. Love would not prompt its possessor to speak evil of his neighbor, but would lead to a remembrance of the Scriptural injunction, "Speak evil of no man." Love would do this from principle, because it is right; but more than this, Love ultimately takes such an interest that the brother exercising it does not wish to do anything that would be harmful to another's interests, to his welfare, but rather to do something to his honor and blessing. Love, progressing as we walk in it, ultimately brings us to that blessed condition where we can love our enemies and be glad of the privilege of doing good to those who despitefully use us and persecute us.
(6) The New Creation are also instructed to walk as children of light; their course in life is always to be with respect to the things that are just, pure, loving, noble, kind, the things that are in harmony with the divine character and Word, the things that prove to be of greatest blessing to neighbors and to friends. As children of the light every day and year will see progress; their light will be shining more and more clearly and accomplishing the greatest good; they will not be ashamed of it, but will set it on a candlestick, where it may give light to all in the house, to every member of the household of faith. "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven."--`Matt. 5:16`.
(7) The New Creation should "walk circumspectly." (`Eph. 5:15`.) This word circumspectly signifies to look carefully all around at every step. The Christian cannot be a careless liver, and as he looks around him and realizes the various pitfalls and snares, not only will he seek to make straight paths for his feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but additionally he will seek divine aid and counsel and guidance that he make no mistakes, that every step in life's pathway will be such as will have divine approval and glorify God in his body and spirit which are God's. This circumspection of our walk as New Creatures is the more necessary because our Adversary, the devil, is specially on the alert to ensnare us; and our tests are permitted to be the severer as we come nearer the goal of character. We should walk circumspectly also because we profess to be of the New Creation, begotten of the holy Spirit and not of the world, but separate from it; and because our lights so shining more or less reprove the world. Therefore the world, instead of sympathizing with us, hate us, and watch either to see what fault can be found with our walk, or to stumble and trip us,
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sometimes from malicious impulse and sometimes from sympathetic reasons; as the Apostle Peter, when speaking to our Lord, said, Far be it from thee, Lord, to thus sacrifice thyself and die. To walk circumspectly is to take note of these various hindrances and stumbling stones and pitfalls; to hearken to the instructions of the Lord's Word and to the leadings of the holy Spirit; and thus to walk carefully; and in so doing to develop the characters which are most pleasing to our Lord and Head. The Apostle says this circumspection is necessary in order to our walking "not as unwise but as wise." There is a wisdom of the world which is foolishness with God, and there is a wisdom with God which is foolishness to the world. The wisdom of God is to be ours, and we are to exemplify it in all the affairs of life. Hence the faithful, the New Creatures in Christ, should be the most exemplary, the most wonderful people in the whole world, the wisest in the management of their affairs, the wisest in the government of their children, the wisest in their eating, drinking and dressing. Not that the world will always approve, but that the end will justify the course which the Lord's Word directs, and which the wise of the New Creation, walking circumspectly, will take.
"REDEEMING THE TIME"
This signifies buying back the time, as though the time were already mortgaged. And this is so; the cares of this life, its necessities, the customs of the world, our fallen tendencies, all would absorb every hour of life in the things pertaining to this life, whereas as New Creatures our new hopes and aims and efforts are properly centered upon things above, the heavenly, the King's matters. Where may we obtain the necessary time wherewith to study and to refresh ourselves in rehearsing the blessings, the promises and favors which are ours as New Creatures? And where may we obtain the time for telling these good tidings to others? If we allow the spirit of the world to direct us we shall have no time for any of these things and shall fail, but as wise and not as foolish children of the Lord, we will see and appreciate the greater importance of the heavenly things, and be ready to sacrifice our earthly interests and customs and ambitions in favor of the heavenly. Thus we may redeem or buy back the time that we had previously spent for worldly things, that we may henceforth spend such time in the interest of ourselves and others of the New Creation and in the service of our Lord and Master, to whom we have consecrated our all, which we find to be so little over and above the things necessary to provide honestly for the life that now is.
"WHEREFORE BE YE NOT FOOLS, BUT UNDERSTAND
WHAT THE WILL OF THE LORD IS"
How many of the Lord's people are fools! How many allow the spirit of the world so to enter in as to hinder them from appreciating the real wisdom and the proper course, the proper walk in life! It is time for us to cease this foolishness of trying to do everything just as the world does it and to be everything that the world will approve! It is time for us to determine that by the grace of God we will be popular with our Father in heaven, whether or not it makes us unpopular with everybody else in the world! It will be sweeter far eventually to hear his voice saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord," than to have the well done of the world and its applause, and to come short of the glorious blessing to which we have been called!
"INSTEAD PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING"
Instead of intoxication with the spirit of the world and its ambitions, its craze for money and for show and outward adornment, we are to be so filled with the Spirit of the Lord, that our chiefest joy, our chiefest blessing, will be in giving thanks to the Lord for his goodness, in maintaining a fellowship of heart with him and then additionally having fellowship one with another, with those who are in the truth, in the Lord. We are to speak one to another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, thus making melody in our hearts to the Lord. The Lord's people are not to be morose, sullen, unhappy, always in tears. This is not the will of God concerning them; they are on the contrary to be continually rejoicing, full of gladness, the basis for this to be their faith in the Word of God, which they all continually eat and are nourished by, together with their fellowship with the Lord, which will continually be a ground for praise and thanksgiving; and additionally, their fellowship with one another, which will be more sweet than any earthly or selfish fellowship; more precious than any sensual relationship, the exhilaration of the new mind continually growing stronger and more God-like, and seeking to build up one another in the most holy faith and character-likeness of our Redeemer. The Apostle says that we are to give to God, even the Father, thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; thanks for the trials, thanks for the clouds as well as for the blessings and the sunshine; thanks for matters that seem to be adversities, knowing that God is able to make all things work together for good to them and has promised to do so, and that the entire matter of needs and welfare are in the hands of our Redeemer, who is too wise to err and too loving to be unkind, and who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able. Well then may we rejoice!
We are exhorted also to submit ourselves one to another in the reverence of the Lord, not to be dictatorial, not to be too self-assertive, not to be anxious that our will should be done on earth or in heaven, but rather desirous that the will of the Lord should thus be done, and that we may be looking to note his leadings and providences in and through others as well as through ourselves, and especially to note the instructions in his Word.
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"TO THE FEET OF HIM"
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him."--`Isa. 52:7`.
Oh precious "Feet," so weary and so worn,
Make haste to "enter in;" for when 'tis done,
How sweet will be the rest so much desired--
When that last step upon the race is run!
Dear "Feet," so tired, do not, do not forget,
How once those other feet were blest indeed,
When he, our Elder Brother, blessed Lord,
So gently ministered unto their need.
And doth he not today, so stoop and soothe
The "Feet," who yet must "strive to enter in?"
"How beautiful!" Ah, yes, how glorious,
To bring good tidings that "our God doth reign"!
And so, dear "Feet," by him so well beloved,
Come joyfully, attuned with music sweet;
Come hasten on with patient, loving zeal--
"A little while"--we all with him shall meet!
Mary H. Robinson
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"PAY THY VOWS UNTO THE LORD"
DEAR BROTHER AND PASTOR:--
I have been wanting to write you for some time concerning the matter of
proper conduct between the sexes
in the Ecclesia. Some items have come to my attention within the last few months, that I feel it incumbent upon me again to call your attention to the subject. I am not at liberty to write you as plainly and fully as I might, concerning the specific instances of which I know; but I have both heard and seen enough to become convinced that the Adversary is making a strong attack along these lines all over the country, deceiving some of the dear brethren (who are
both in the flesh and spirit, to
into thinking that hugs and kisses and letters, laden with terms of excessive endearment, etc., are proper expressions of
between brothers and sisters in no way related in the flesh.
of such an attitude of mind would surely be a decline of spirituality; sometimes with unkindness toward and neglect of those who have a
to the affections lavished on others. If the Adversary accomplishes his ultimate design, gross immorality and public disgrace of the cause we love will surely follow. Shall it come to this? God forbid!
can, and I believe will, deliver us. If the heart-intentions of the dear brethren are pure (as I
them to be), then certainly this matter is the deception of Satan himself.
What I desire earnestly to entreat of you now, dear Brother Russell, is that you publish in the WATCH TOWER an article giving in plain and unmistakable terms
views of this matter, as outlined in the extract from DAWN-STUDIES, VOL. VI., pp. 489, 490, enclosed herewith. This seems to me particularly desirable, as I understand
writings as well as Scripture are being twisted into a rebuke to any who dare criticise this kind of conduct, as "surmising evil," etc.
Forgive me, dear brother, if I have been over-bold in presenting this matter; I feel very deeply on the subject. With kindest Christian love, I remain, yours in the King's service, HORACE E. HOLLISTER,--
PROMISCUOUS ASSOCIATION NOT IMPLIED
(EXTRACT FROM VOL. VI., DAWN-STUDIES, PP.489, 490)
"The Lord clearly teaches us, through the Apostle, that his preferences and favors are alike to all the New Creatures--according to their zeal, according to their love for him and the principles represented in him; and that conditions of sex, race, color, etc., of the mortal body have no bearing with him in his judgment of his people, in his estimation of them, and in the distribution of the final rewards. Knowing the Father's view of this matter, all of the New Creation must take a similar view of it, must esteem all New Creatures in Christ Jesus as "brethren," must be kindly affectioned toward all, must seek to serve all, must know
amongst the brethren, except such as the Lord himself showed--in that he favored and honored those who showed the largest measure of zeal for his cause.
"But all this impartiality, this ignoring of sex, color, race, etc., belongs to us as the New Creation, and only partially affects our mortal bodies, and their relationship with each other and with the world.
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proprieties of conduct and relationship between the sexes
must be maintained by the New Creation.
"These, indeed, should have a larger degree of wisdom and prudence than the world, by reason of their being begotten to the spirit of a sound mind.
accordingly should realize that as a New Creation, seeking
to walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit, it would be
appropriate for them to be even more careful than the
worldly, the natural man, respecting the weakness of their
flesh and respecting the propriety of certain metes and
bounds of proper conduct, modesty, reserve, etc., as between
In proportion as the New Creature is seeking the spiritual life, and in proportion as it realizes that sexual appetites war against the interests of the New Creation, in that same proportion should they endeavor, even more than the world in general, to make straight paths for their feet, and to erect as many barriers and as formidable ones as possible between themselves and temptations."
BROTHER RUSSELL'S REPLY
We believe it is our Lord's will that we publish the above letter with our unqualified endorsement of its sentiment and expression. Without surmising evil
it calls attention to a world-wide tendency which we as specially covenanted people should oppose. We have already called attention to the fact that the Adversary may be expected to try various tactics of opposition during the last seven years of the harvest; and that the Lord may give him a comparatively free hand. While the hour of temptation, we are told, will try all that dwell upon the whole earth (`Rev. 3:10`), it must not surprise us if it comes with special force against the consecrated, the Temple class or "House of God."-- `I Pet. 4:17`.
TEMPTATIONS FROM OPPOSITE QUARTERS
So far as the consecrated are concerned the testings seem to be opposites. Perfect love being recognized as the
to be reached and to be maintained, the Adversary, finding that he cannot keep us from it, begins to
--past the mark into such earthly loves as the foregoing letter mentions. The danger must be evident to all who will think for a moment. The
amongst the Lord's members is as proper as it is unavoidable. The tie that binds our hearts in Christian love is the dearest and the strongest of which we have any knowledge; because like to that above. With the love goes a
in each other's integrity of motive, which, unless guarded against, might let down some of the barriers of reserve which society has found by experience are absolutely necessary for the world. We do not mean that the Lord's people have lower standards of morality than has the world; but with higher ideals they have found a new confidence in each other--not in the flesh, but in the spirit. For the time they forget all about the flesh and are all the more in danger of being ambushed by the Adversary along that very line.
On the other hand the Adversary attempts to push others of the faithful aside from the "mark" by arousing bitterness, jealousy, envy, strife. He is too crafty to suppose that such seeds would spring spontaneously in the hearts of the consecrated. Hence, so far as we can discern, his course is to plant these seeds of evil while apparently cultivating justice and purity and truth. Ah! he is an artful enemy, and "we are not entirely ignorant of his devices," though we may little guess which will be his next move for ensnarement.
Brother Hollister, for instance, as the above letter implies, was tempted to surmise evil respecting those whose conduct he disapproves; but he gained a victory over the snare, and hence, without judging others as of bad intention and impure motive, he sees the matter as we do and as we believe the Lord does--as a snare of the Adversary against which it is our privilege to warn the brethren in love.
How long will it require for the Lord's dear followers to learn the meaning and proper application of
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`Matthew 18:15-17`? Failure to note and to use properly this rule seems to us the tap-root of nearly every difficulty amongst the brethren, in every quarter. We have made the matter as plain as we know how in DAWN-STUDIES, VOL. VI., yet are surprised and grieved to note blunders along this line made by some of the most advanced of the dear members of Christ. The usual sophistry by which the "old man" sets aside this divine rule is to conclude that "it is not applicable in this instance;" or to be persuaded that he does not know how to apply it in his case and must
--the very thing he should understand is forbidden by our Lord's words, "Go to him, and between thee and him alone tell him of his fault."
Again, few seem to understand that the conference is not to reprove or rebuke or humiliate or punish the one that be in error. All that is for the Lord to attend to--"The Lord will judge his people." Our object should be merely to get the wrong thing
and thus to "gain thy brother." It is safe to suppose therefore that our Lord's counsel is generally needed--"First cast out the beam from thine own eye and then shalt thou see clearly to pluck out the mote from thy brother's eye." So then before attempting to apply `Matthew 18:15-17`, it would be wise to kneel down before God and get our hearts very humble and loving and very free from bitterness, etc., before making the first move. Then read afresh the Scripture and the comments in DAWN-STUDIES, VOL. VI., and then proceed very carefully --fearing to touch amiss matters which involve so much to "one of the least of these."
We quite agree with Brother Hollister, that none of the "members" of Christ could willingly and intentionally lay snares for their own spiritual feet or those of others. We quite agree that
their danger lurks
in their control of the flesh, and in their forgetting the Adversary's cunning, even while not ignorant of his devices. But while urging that there be no evil surmisings we also urge the Apostle's words, "Be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world." (`Phil. 2:15`.) But suppose we could be confident of our own self-mastery and immunity from temptation, how could we judge for others or be sure that it would be so with them? Or, suppose that all Truth people had so progressed that they had brought every thought into captivity to obedience to Christ, should they not still let their light so shine before men as to assist them and to glorify their Father in heaven? Note the Apostle's argument--If my eating of meat cause stumbling to others, I will eat no meat. (`I Cor. 8:13`.) But let us not suppose our flesh to be dead. It is safer to suppose the reverse and to keep guard against every snare of the Adversary to entrap us or others.
PERFORM THY VOWS TO GOD
Realizing that because they are prominent representatives of the Truth the Adversary would lay special snares for the feet of the Pilgrims, the Editor last March sent to all engaged in continuous or occasional "Pilgrim" service under the Society's auspices, including all the brethren of the Bible House family, the following letter, which explains itself:
"Without casting the slightest reflection upon any of you, and merely having in view the fact that we are in 'the evil day' mentioned by the Apostle, and that we may be certain that the Adversary will be more than ever alert to injure the cause of truth and its servants, we are proposing to each and all of the brethren hereby addressed that each shall bind himself by a vow to the Lord, which we believe will prove helpful, strengthening, and be in some measure a fortification or safeguarding of the interests we have pledged our lives to serve. We are not requesting that this vow be made to each other, but to the Lord; nevertheless, we shall be pleased to hear from each one who receives this letter if he should take the vow in the name and in the strength of the Lord. Furthermore, the fact that we have taken such a vow may prove helpful to others not only in the Pilgrim service, but out of it--yea, amongst all of the Lord's people with whom we are in contact--not by public profession, but wherever it would seem wise and proper by a private one.
"By way of starting the matter, by way of encouraging others to see that the vow proposed is in full harmony with our original surrender of ourselves, and all of our earthly rights to the Lord, and the service of his cause, and by way of suggesting that this is another means by which we may 'bind the sacrifice to the horns of the altar,' the writer hereby informs you all that he himself has made this vow to the Lord.
"The vow is: 'Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. May thy rule come into my heart more and more, and thy will be done in my mortal body. Relying on the assistance of thy promised grace to help in every time of need, through Jesus Christ our Lord, I register this vow. Daily will I remember at the throne of heavenly grace the general interests of the harvest work, and particularly the share which I myself am privileged to enjoy in that work, and the dear co-laborers at the Bible House, Allegheny. I vow to still more carefully, if possible, scrutinize my thoughts and words and doings, to the intent that I may be the better enabled to serve these, and thy dear flock. I vow to thee that I will be on the alert to resist everything akin to Spiritism and Occultism, and that remembering that there are but the two masters I shall resist these snares in all reasonable ways, as being of the Adversary. I further vow that, with the exceptions below, I will at all times and at all places, conduct myself toward those of the opposite sex in private exactly as I would do with them in public--in the presence of a congregation
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of the Lord's people, and so far as reasonably possible I will avoid being in the same room with any female alone, unless the door to the room stand wide open--wife, children, mother and sisters excepted.'"
We have received favorable responses from the following:-- H. C. Rockwell, F. H. Robison, R. H. Hirsh, W. H. Bundy, F. Draper, G. Draper, M. L. McPhail, E. W. Brenneisen, J. F. Rutherford, Hayden Samson, J. A. Parker, F. A. Hall, M. L. Herr, J. D. Wright, C. H. Swingle, C. E. Fowler, O. L. Sullivan, John Harrison, Smith Walker, Isaac Hoskins, W. E. Van Amburgh, H. K. Blinn, J. A. Bohnet, A. E. Burgress, J. A. Bauerlein, F. L. Scheerer, A. G. Wakefield, C. W. Hek, A. E. Williamson, B. H. Barton.
We wish you all could see the precious letters received. They would do good, and abundantly prove the heart-loyalty of these noble brethren. One writes, "I am glad that you got out that mimeograph letter; I am sure that it will be a wonderful help to me and perhaps to others." Another writes, "When I read it I felt that such a vow was particularly hard for me, and also realized it would be especially helpful to me; so after deliberation, I write to assure you I shall humbly strive to fulfil this vow and am glad to take it, and want your prayers, dear brother."
ENLARGING THE SCOPE OF PROTECTION
Yesterday we received a letter from an Elder in one of the Ecclesias, saying, that one of the Pilgrims had shown him one of the
and that he was so much pleased therewith and felt the matter so helpful, that he had in prayer registered it as his vow to the Lord. This, with Brother Hollister's letter, prompted both this article and the suggestion that Colporteur Brethren and all Church Elders and Deacons would no doubt be strengthened by the making of this vow. We believe that it will assist greatly in binding the sacrifice to the horns of the Lord's altar.
Do it now!
and drop us a postal-card so stating, that we may rejoice with you. But remember, that the vow must be not to us but to the Lord, as a part of your Covenant with him and for the protection of the interests of his cause.
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A FURTHER SUGGESTION
The foregoing is in type, but we squeeze room to insert something of quite a contrary spirit just clipped from the
"There is one Church in Chicago that has a wise man in charge of its affairs. He insists on having a regularly fitted-up courting room for the young people, with cozy-corners, screens, chaperones and lamps that can be turned away down. He says courtship is essential to happiness and that it is the province of the Church to do everything possible for the happiness of its members."
* * *
Now the suggestion comes to us, why not propose the
above outlined to all the dear brethren, and a corresponding one to all the dear sisters? Would it not safeguard many during the days of special trial we may expect? If good for Pilgrims, Colporteurs and Elders why not apply it to
One dear "Pilgrim," against whose conduct there is not a breath of censure, writes us as follows:--
"It has been withal a glorious year to me, and I am indeed thankful to our dear Lord that he has permitted me to have a part in the harvest-field work. Really, dear Brother Russell, I find that the Lord is blessing me more since the vow we took recently, and I am indeed thankful that the Lord put this into your mind to suggest our taking this vow. Some new blessing has been given me almost every day. Now I am more anxious than ever to please him, and I beseech your continued prayers to this end, and that I may be given strength and wisdom from on high, and be kept in humility and love."
* * *
In a back issue (Oct. 15, '04) we published a poem entitled, "Stepping Stones or Stumbling Stones," which we wish all would read afresh. There is in the foregoing suggestion of a vow a stepping stone or a stumbling stone possibly for
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ISRAEL'S WRONG COURSE
--`I SAM. 8:10-22`.--JULY 5.--
Golden Text:--"By me kings reign, and
princes decree justice."--`Prov. 8:51`.
THE International Lesson Studies now return to Israel's history at the point discontinued last December--Samuel's judgeship. It will be remembered that Israel's progress under the judges for 450 years had not been very brilliant. Their government was that of a Republic under divine autocracy and law supervision. They were not a warlike people, and under the divine Covenant were merely assisted in conquering the promised land, in proportion as they were faithful and obedient to the Lord. In consequence many of the Canaanites still possessed strong-walled cities in their very midst, including Jerusalem, which was not conquered until the seventh year of King David's reign. Indeed, so far from becoming nationally great the Israelites had experienced some severe defeats in battle with neighboring nations, particularly the Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, etc. In all they had experienced some eighteen periods of reverse and subjection, during which they were obliged to pay tribute.
Israel's national organization in the times of the judges was merely a voluntary and sentimental one. In reality each tribe managed its own affairs within its own border, and the heads of the tribes constituted its judges in ordinary affairs. The only thing which cemented the union between these tribes was the oneness of their speech and blood; but above all, the oneness of their hope toward God, based first upon the Covenant made with Abraham, "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." This promise was understood to include the nation of Israel--cemented as a nation by the Law Covenant, which was instituted through Moses its Mediator and which bound the nation to Jehovah as his people and servants, and Jehovah to that nation as its Law-Giver and King. The divine promise to Israel was that so long as they should walk in the statutes of the divine Law they would be God's peculiar people and receive his peculiar blessings in all their temporal affairs as well as in their higher interests of character development. But if they should neglect him and his statutes and ordinances he would chasten them with pestilences, with captivities, etc. Nevertheless, if they should repent and cry unto the Lord and seek again to do his will and to obey his laws, he would hearken unto them and raise up for them deliverers, who as his representatives, would judge them, i.e., would see that they obtained deliverance, help, instruction, guidance.--`Judges 2:16,18`.
THEY DESIRED A KING
In harmony with this arrangement Eli had been a judge in Israel of recognized divine appointment, but because of Israel's unfaithfulness captivity to the Philistines ensued at the time of Eli's death. For quite a number of years Israel was subject to the Philistines. Meantime Samuel taught the people and urged them to put away their strange gods and to serve Jehovah only. He assured them that through this turning to the Lord would come divine blessing and favor. The people did so and gathered at Mizpah, where Samuel offered sacrifices on their behalf. Meantime the Philistines, learning of this gathering of the people, anticipated that it meant rebellion from their overlordship and came against them with an army. Then it was that the "Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel." (`I Sam. 7:10`.) As a result, the Israelites were delivered, and Samuel was recognized by all the tribes as the divine representative and judge of Israel. Throughout his judgeship he traveled hither and thither, apparently hearing and deciding such cases as were too difficult for the local judges. Under his wise judgeship the Israelites were greatly blessed; but with their returning prosperity came the ambition to be like the nations round about them--to be a united kingdom under the dominion of a king who would lead them in war and rule over them as an entire nation and centralize their power and energy. It is at this point that our lesson really begins.
From every worldly standpoint the people decided
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wisely, but from the divine standpoint unwisely. They appealed to Samuel as God's representative, to anoint over them a king, and thus establish in their midst a central authority. "Distance lends enchantment to the view," is a common adage, which was true in Israel's case. As they looked at the nations round about them they beheld the glories of the king, his armies, his officers, his chariots. Such kings were war-lords to their people, and more or less the dignity, authority and power of these kings represented these qualities in the nations under them. The Israelites saw not the grievous burdens under which many of the people labored as a result of such kingly dignity and glory. They saw merely the outward glitter, and not the anguish and labor of the people who supported these kings. As we look into the matter from the divine standpoint, we may reach the divine conclusion that they were making a poor choice when they preferred to have a kingdom rather than a republic under a divine King. The Lord had forewarned them through Moses of what would be the results if they should at any time choose a monarchial government rather than the one he had arranged for them. (`Deut. 17:14-20`.) From this standpoint we can see that the republic under divinely appointed judges tended to develop the Israelites individually, while the kingdom, no doubt, would tend to develop them along national lines. However, the individual development, through exercising liberty and individuality, would no doubt have prepared the people the better for the coming of Messiah and a proper acceptance of him. There are chastisements and there are rewards under the divine kingship, and these, represented by the divinely raised up judges, would have developed them along the lines of individual responsibility and faith in God. Be it noticed also that in the Lord's promise of future blessings he declares, "I will restore your judges as at the first, and your lawgivers as at the beginning," thus clearly intimating that the republican form of government under divine supervision was superior to the subsequent kingly regime.
SAMUEL, THE FAITHFUL
Few characters shine out on the pages of history with such a pure light as does Samuel. When the Israelites made the request for a king Samuel was grieved. He knew he had served the people faithfully, that he had been self-sacrificing and generous to the last degree, spending his life in their interest. It seemed strange to him that a people should be so unthankful. But the Lord pointed out that their ingratitude was not to Samuel, but to their great King, Jehovah, saying, "They have not rejected thee but me." Nevertheless, the Lord bade Samuel hearken to the request of the people and anoint them a king, meantime assuring them that the truth of the divine prediction would be fully verified and that they were really choosing second best rather than the best. It was then that Samuel dismissed the people, assuring them that their request would be granted and a king anointed-- such a one as the Lord would direct. Meantime Samuel wrote out for the people a statement or report of his judgeship, recorded in `chapter 12`. In this he shows most distinctly how he had avoided bribery and in everything had sought to do the will of the Lord, and he called upon the people to witness to the truthfulness of this, and they did, and attested it. What a noble character!
It was the custom for the candidates for office in the old Roman republic to go before the people clothed in a white garment, thus representing their purity and spotlessness. But surely remarkably few men have ever left office spotless! In the majority of cases, no doubt, human weaknesses prevail to such a degree that the temptations of high position are overpowering. But notice that in Samuel's case this twelfth chapter and its witness to his purity, imply, figuratively, he had put on his white garment when he resigned his office, and all the people bore witness of his spotlessness, his integrity as a judge.
SAMUEL WAS WELL BORN
We must not forget that Samuel's training was with Eli, and that the sons of the latter turned out to be bribe-takers and generally scandalous in their misinterpretation of the divine law and justice. It was not, therefore, that Samuel was under the best environment and best teachers that would account for his grandeur of character and fidelity to principle. We must look further back, and find it in the fact that his parents consecrated him to the Lord, not only when a child but before his birth, and that this favorable influence contributed to his being well born in the reverence of the Lord. Undoubtedly the thoughts of parents, especially of the mother, during the period of a child's gestation, have great influence upon its mental character. Every child should be born with a large reverence for God, for justice, for truth, for goodness. To be thus born surely signifies a favorable start in the way of righteousness under present conditions. And we may be sure that the child thus begotten and born was well trained up to the time of his presentation to the Lord's service under Eli. Here we have a fresh testimony to the fact that if a child be trained up in the way he should go he is not likely to depart therefrom. Oh, that Christian parents could realize what a responsibility is in their hands in respect to the training of their children, and especially during their most impressionable years!
Respecting Samuel's moral heroism in promptly assisting to incorporate the kingdom, which would displace himself as the Lord's representative and judge in their midst, Professor Elmslie well says, "I think that one of the most magnanimous and majestic and heroic deeds ever done in our world's history was done by Samuel, when, convinced that it was the will of God, he set himself to do what no other man could do--to forsake all his past, to abandon all the lines of action on which he had worked through the best years of his life, and to put into other men's hands fresh possibilities. I call that conduct magnificent."
THE MANNER OF THE KING
In recounting to Israel the manner of a king we are not to understand that the Lord or Samuel his mouthpiece meant that the description given would be the proper one for a proper king; but rather that it would be the general course of a king, of any man raised to such a place of imperial power as the kings of olden time enjoyed. The wrong course of kings is traceable to three conditions: (1) All men are imperfect and fallen, hence any king chosen would be so, and it would be merely a question of the measure of imperfection and tendency to pride and selfishness and the abuse of power. (2) The imperfection of those over whom they reign is a factor, for the recognized
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imperfection makes possible and to some extent makes reasonable the usurpation of great power. (3) The Adversary's derangement of all earthly affairs, putting light for darkness and darkness for light, often makes it seem to rulers and to the ruled that an abuse of power is necessary and really to the advantage of the ruled.
IMMANUEL'S KINGDOM AUTOCRATIC
In view of the danger of placing great power in the hands of a ruler and the advisability of the republican form of government of the people, by the people and for the people, the question arises, How will it be with Immanuel's Kingdom? We reply that the Scriptures teach that his Empire will be autocratic in the extreme. Nevertheless, no one who understands the matter need have any fear, as he who is to take the throne to be the Emperor of the World is the one who so loved the world as to give himself a ransom for all. Instead of his Empire being one of selfishness; which would ruin its subjects for its own aggrandizement, he has shown his Spirit to be the very reverse of this, in that he left the glory of the higher courts and humbled himself to a lower nature and became man's substitute, a ransom for man's penalty, "tasted death for every man." It is this One who is now highly exalted and appointed heir of all things.
Let us remember also that the Church now being selected from the world is composed only of such as have their Master's Spirit and delight to lay down their lives for the brethren and for the truth in cooperation with their Lord and Head and Bridegroom! Let us remember that according to the divine predestination none shall be of that elect class save those who are copies of God's dear Son, and that the tests of discipleship are such as to prove them--their love and loyalty to God, to the brethren, to their neighbors, yea, also to their enemies! Who need fear an autocratic government in the hands of such a glorious King? Indeed, we may say that such a government will be the most helpful, the most profitable, that the world could possibly have--wise, just, loving, helpful! While others are seeking for earthly honors, earthly name and fame and substance, let us who have been called to this high calling lay aside every weight and every besetting sin and, by the Lord's assistance, gain this great prize of joint-heirship with our Master in his Kingdom and have a share with him in the blessing and uplifting of mankind in general!
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SOME INTERESTING LETTERS
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
I suppose you know that there are a number of publications being circulated by persons who have, at some time, been enlightened by Present Truth. These publications teach the Truth to some extent, but are considerably mixed with error in regard to important doctrines. The channel which the Lord has used for the blessing of his people during this time of the "Harvest" has been the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, and it continues to be so used, and we render praise to our heavenly Father for the benefits so conferred.
Now what shall be our attitude toward those other publications which claim to be channels of instruction? A good many of us have listened to their claims and have bought the publications, only to find that our money (the Lord's money) has been wasted and the publication of pernicious literature has been encouraged. Of the 30,000 TOWER subscribers (more or less) perhaps one-third might be reached by the plea that these other channels contain more "light," and it is no more than a business proposition to put these things on the market, relying on the claim of the Truth friends to be "students" in order to sell the goods. No matter how unauthoritative may be the "teaching" how could its claim be investigated without encouraging its circulation?
I realize that all that might be said against buying anything not published by the WATCH TOWER, has been urged upon Nominal Christians to prevent them from being "poisoned" by the Truth, and anything we may now say will be used to support the claim that the DAWN readers have become a part of "Babylon," and that these other publications now represent Present Truth, and are being persecuted because of their unpopularity. In fact, every argument and Scripture may be used in their behalf which we have used in opposing the DAWN teachings against Nominal Churchianity. Which horn of the dilemma shall we take; that of refusing to investigate and open ourselves to the charge that we are not truth-seekers or, on the other hand, risk the encouragement of that which is opposed to the Truth?
It seems to me safe to assume that the Lord will supervise the publication of ZION'S WATCH TOWER so long as that help is necessary, inasmuch as it has been used thus far to bring out dispensational truth, and that we may show our faith in the Lord's promises by accepting his provision for our enlightenment by refusing to help the circulation of that which we have good reason to believe to be error. Satan would be highly pleased if he could induce us to investigate the claims of everything purporting to be Truth. As we note the spirit and character of those who have been led to investigate these things we feel more sure that insidious error is most safely left entirely alone. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his." We would be glad to have your thought on the subject.
With much Christian love to you and all the Bible House family, in which all here join,
I am, yours in the service of the King of kings,
F. P. S.,--
* * *
[In reply: We appreciate the force of your very well-stated proposition, and endorse its sentiments in every way. It seems to us that this question is one which each WATCH TOWER reader must decide for himself. Accordingly we have refrained, so far as possible, from criticism of the views of others, either publicly or privately. Those who are not our fellow-servants in any sense of the word would doubtless rejoice to have us berate them, and to claim that we were thus fulfilling `Matt. 24:48,49`--smiting our fellow-servants. We love fellow-servants too much to wish to smite them, and we trust we are too wise to allow the Adversary to draw us aside to squabble with the enemies of the Truth, thus to hinder the more important work of scattering the Truth.
The Lord said, "It must needs be that offences [stumblings] come, but woe unto that man by whom they come!" Some of the dear friends who have been long acquainted with the Truth, and fail to become zealous and active in its service, are, we fear, in danger of being entrapped by the "snares of the fowler" which you mention. Some of them have been so long in the
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Truth that they think they understand it perfectly, while in reality they have forgotten nearly as much as they know. These are just in the attitude where a mixture of Truth and sophistry would be likely to catch them. And for aught we know it is a part of the Lord's will that they should be trapped and ensnared, because they have not received the Truth in the love of it--with a proper zeal.--`2 Thess. 2:10`.
So far as our observation carries, the earnest, the zealous, the warm-hearted, are in no danger from these snares. They are protected in various ways: (1) Their love for the Truth is so great that they would be continually feeding at the table of the Lord. Their perceptions of the Truth are correspondingly clear. Instead of forgetting half of what they knew, these are continually growing in grace and knowledge. (2) They are so satisfied with the Lord's provision of which they have been already partaking that they have no appetite for other food, and are not seeking for it. In this respect they are different from the great mass of mankind, nearly all of whom are in doubt, in perplexity, in bewilderment, hungry for something to satisfy in respect to the life that now is and that which is to come. The class we refer to as being safe under the shadow of the Almighty is able to sing, with the Spirit and with the understanding also, that beautiful hymn:
"I love to tell the story
Because I know it's true;
It satisfies my longings
As nothing else would do.
"I love to tell the story!
It did so much for me;
And that is just the reason
I tell it now to thee.
"I love to tell the story,
For those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting
To hear it like the rest."
In conclusion, then, dear brother, it seems to us that all those who have received the Truth half-heartedly, and who do not give heed thereto, do not study it, cannot be expected to have the strength, the knowledge, or the character which would enable them to endure the tests of this "harvest" time, which we expect will become more severe throughout the remaining years. It seems that we would do best to set an example of studiousness, and to a reasonable degree urge the use of the wonderful helps which the Lord has provided us, and not to specially chide or interfere with those who are unsatisfied, if they look further and become confused and entangled. The result with such seems usually to be a complete turning aside into the state of uncertainty in which the world and the nominal church are called, by the Lord in the parable, "outer darkness." Those who receive the Truth in good and honest hearts, full of zeal and love, get such a filling, such a satisfaction, become so strong in the truth and its spirit, are so well equipped with the armor, that the "Adversary toucheth them not." I think we would make a mistake if we should fail to recognize the Lord's own supervision of this "harvest" work, and the necessity, according to his wisdom, that errors be permitted for the very purpose of sifting the wheat.--EDITOR.]
THE FIRST DAWN-MOBILE
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
The Lord has seen fit to let us sell our old home and relieve us all of any ties, that we may each be free to go where the work is. And the increased opportunities for service make us all rejoice--that we are pilgrims and wanderers in the land, journeying always toward our heavenly home. Our stay here will be but three weeks, by which time (June 6) we hope to have all weights (furniture included) disposed of and enter our new field of labor with renewed energy and zeal.
I have desired very much to express my deep appreciation of the encouragement and help received through yourself and the dear Bible House helpers, especially in regard to the recent experiences in Louisville, Ky. It seems to me such a special leading of the Lord that the territory should be divided among many of us, thus sparing any few from having the entire burden of such trying territory for any great length of time. At first we were inclined to think we would not be permitted to stay there as long as we should wish, but the Lord soon showed us the wisdom of his ways.
I wish also to say that I am more firmly convinced that the Lord knoweth how to take care of his own. First, he provided for us fitting language to present to the public in the house-to-house canvass. As for myself I have always rejoiced in this fact that the Lord saw fit to provide even the words, that I need not depend upon my own poor judgment. I have taken great pleasure in speaking to others about the "successful method" and in watching the results of their change of method, which have always been markedly for the better. Secondly, we find that as our needs are made manifest these are all supplied, for we find we have very little strength left with which to "tote" the books, so now we have the Dawn-Mobiles, which beautifully does that part for us.
It was my good fortune to use the sample wagon in Louisville when delivering several days last week, and I cannot express my appreciation in words. While
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it caused some comment and made me a little conspicuous, it was on account of interest in the new invention, which met the approval of all who saw it. I am so thankful, not only for myself but for many other sisters who find their strength insufficient to do the heavy part of the work, which now may be rolled along with any steady hand to guide it. We are anxiously awaiting the announcement that the Dawn-Mobiles are ready for our use. We hope that all needing such a convenience will avail themselves of it.
We are all rejoicing that the Lord has seen fit to bring you back from the old country to Allegheny again. Our prayers are with you and "the family" daily that you all may have strength to keep the sacrifice so pleasing to him on the altar until soon entirely consumed. God bless you!
I am your sister by his grace,
THE DAWN-MOBILES READY
For a long time we have been on the lookout for some device which would aid our Colporteur sisters in making delivery of their books. Fifty books weigh forty pounds and are too great a strain on the delicate of either sex.
Colporteur Brother Cole has solved the problem splendidly. He has contrived a device having two wheels which may be attached to any ordinary "suit-case" in five minutes, and without injury to the latter except two holes. In use the wheels support the weight of the books and are easily guided by the hand on the suit-case handle. On a car the wheels fold up against the side of the suit-case. The mechanism is of light weight. The device will be supplied at cost to any colporteur--$2.50 plus express charges.
A GENEROUS PROPOSITION
Knowing that few of the sisters can do better than meet their expenses at Colporteuring, Brother Cole makes the following generous proposal: Through our Society's Colporteur Department Brother Cole offers one of these attachments
to each Colporteur sister now working and who has worked on a
regular assignment of territory
during the six months ending June 1, 1908, to the extent of sending in
and paying for not less than sixty dollars worth of books in that time. Orders may be sent in at once, naming your express company.
Should these limitations
bar out some struggling sisters, such may write us particulars and we will see what, if anything, can be done for them.