Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
VOL. XXIX MARCH 1 No. 5
A.D. 1908--A.M. 6036
Views from the Watch Tower........................ 67
Socialism Spreading in Great Britain.......... 67
Socialism at Home Also........................ 68
"Go to, Ye Rich Men, Weep and Howl"........... 69
Anarchists in Small Minority.................. 69
"Man Elects God Now, Not God Man"............. 69
Cincinnati Debates and Convention................. 70
Berean Study on the Atonement..................... 71
"I am the Bread of Life".......................... 72
"We Eat His Flesh"............................ 73
Justified by our "Eating"..................... 74
The Stone Witness (Poem).......................... 76
"I Was Blind, Now I See".......................... 76
The Light of the World........................ 78
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THE CINCINNATI DEBATES COMPLETE
found quite an interest in the White-Russell debates, and gave them all the space required after the first one, and it was abridged only to the extent of failing to print some of the Scriptures in full. A few texts which formed no part of the speakers' arguments were referred to by citation only.
printed the debates in its weekly edition as well as in its daily: and now it has in preparation a
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containing all the debates and two extra sermons delivered by Brother Russell. We have purchased a large supply of these at a wholesale rate which permits the below very low rates to you--specially favorable to those who desire to circulate them amongst their friends. Being a special issue postage must be paid in stamps, hence there is a saving of labor and postage on quantities.
Single copies to any address, .05
Ten copies to one address, .30
Forty copies to one address, $1.00
Some will read these Debates which present
of these important questions who would not read our side alone. We have confidence that those who have "ears to hear" the Master's voice and spiritual "eyes of understanding" to discern will be blest. Such will see through the sophistries presented by Elder White and will realize that brag and bluster are not arguments, but prove that real arguments were scarce with him. We are not ashamed of the Truth from whatever standpoint viewed. "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ."
THE WOMAN'S NATIONAL DAILY!
Are you receiving it through us? If so please write it a postal requesting discontinuance and a return of the price to us. We will send you instead another paper publishing the desired sermons.
THE NEW BIBLES
are all gone. We hope for the new edition about June. Due notice will appear.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
SOCIALISM SPREADING IN GREAT BRITAIN
THAT Socialism is growing rapidly in Great Britain is attested by the fact that at a recent convention of the British Labor Party at Hull, England, a split occurred over a socialistic resolution-- more than half representatively voting for the resolution, which read as follows:--
"Resolved, That in the opinion of this conference the time has arrived when the Labor Party should have as a definite object the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange, to be controlled by a democratic state in the interest of the entire community, and the complete emancipation of Labor from the domination of Capitalism and Landlordism, with the establishment of social and economic equality between the sexes."
The reporter adds:
"Each delegate voted for the whole number of union men he represented, and the final vote on the resolution stood: For Socialism, 514,000 votes; against Socialism, 469,000 votes. The result was hailed as a great victory by the Socialists, who put the convention in an uproar by their frantic cheering."
* * *
Of course these leaders may not on either side fully reflect the sentiment of all whom they represented as delegates; but the proportions are probably nearly correct. At all events this shows the rapid growth of Socialism in quarters where it had almost no influence ten years ago. The importance of this item is seen when it is remembered that the British Labor Party is represented by more than forty members in the present Parliament.
That statesmen are quick to measure the influence of this growth of Socialism is shown by the comments on it by the Hon. Arthur Balfour, ex-prime minister and now leader of the Conservative party of Great Britain. He sees in Socialism the foe of present institutions and fears, just as the Scriptures foretold, "Men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking forward to the things coming upon the earth." He prophesies the reformation of all parties along that line--for Socialism or against it. He is reported thus:--
"Mr. Balfour, on learning of the vote of the Labor Party, at once declared that henceforth in England the political fighting would be between Conservatives and Socialists; and that the old-time Liberals and Radicals would disappear, as they are already rapidly disappearing in France and Germany."
The reporter continued:--
"Since then nearly all the British papers have thrown their columns open to the discussion of Socialism. As yet the laboring men are a good deal divided, while several secessions from the Labor Party are noted. It is said that the name of the Labor Party will not be changed, and that the extreme Socialists will still keep a separate organization. England is the last country in Europe where Socialism has secured a foothold. As yet but one man has ever been led to Parliament on a straight Socialist platform. Whether the Labor Party will gain or lose by its connection with Socialism the next general election will show."
A dispatch from London to the Chicago
on the same subject says:--
"In all the political movements of England possibly no such sudden and remarkable swing of the pendulum of public opinion has ever been witnessed as that recorded this week, when in a conference at Hull representatives of millions of British workingmen, forming the Labor Party, hoisted the flag of Socialism.
"The English public is still so dazed over the suddenness of the avowal that only a few newspapers seem to grasp the real significance of the new situation. Persons who expressed astonishment and fear when the lonesome figure of John Burns--since raised to a seat in the cabinet--entered Parliament as a representative of a labor constituency many years ago have now a real reason to fear for the traditional conservative trend of British legislative institutions.
"Among other things, the latest move of the Labor Party really means that the cry of Socialism will not only be raised with a strong voice in the House of Commons
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but that the present Labor members of Parliament, who have so suddenly changed their political complexion, will be backed in pushing the socialistic propaganda by the strong organization and wealthy treasury of the Labor party, though it is true that since the Hull meeting some non-Socialist members of the party have condemned its action and threatened to break away.
"Impartial observers in some quarters declare the middle and upper classes of England, who have such good ground to fear the present socialistic movement, have only themselves to blame for the Labor party's sudden change of front. In other words, laboring men seem to be practically driven to take their latest radical step from sheer desperation at their deplorable plight, the growing rarity of employment and the rise in the cost of living. The percentage of hungry men, women and children begging bread throughout England this winter is greater than for twenty years, and the desolation in many towns and villages, to say nothing of the larger cities, is appalling.
"Labor leaders, while acknowledging the splendid efforts made to relieve suffering, point to the utter impossibility of preventing starvation and the utter indifference of the great mass of people to the condition of the poor. A typical illustration of their ground for resentment against the more fortunate portion of the community was shown this week, when the county council voted a liberal sum of money to purchase flagstaffs to be set up on the public schools rather than vote money to feed those thousands of London school children who average less than one meal a day and always go to school hungry.
"Labor leaders have wisely taken into consideration the economic conditions of the country in framing their accusations, and by so doing they strengthen the charge of criminal callousness against the prosperous sections, that are always willing to open their checkbooks to aid sentimental measures--monument funds, funds to preserve old buildings, etc.--but who refuse to interest themselves in the demands of charity."
KING'S PARK FOR FARMS
Surrounding Windsor Castle is a large park, which a lot of idle men at Manchester, Eng., think would be more useful to them if cut up so that a section of it might furnish them with small truck and garden farms. They have no objection to being close neighbors to their ruler. It is proposed that a small army of the unemployed shall besiege and beseech their king on this subject, and a cablegram says, "That the movement is most serious is certain."
SOCIALISM AT HOME ALSO
The following extract from a letter to the Editor speaks for itself:--
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--"Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." (`Gal. 6:6`.) If I bother you again with a letter please accept the above Scripture as my excuse. Thinking that perhaps you have not noticed what has come under my observation, I write you about it. In a Socialist paper about ten days ago there were several articles reporting that in different places in this country Socialist speakers have been invited into churches to address the congregations and debate the subject of Socialism. Right here in Dayton that has been the case in a church of whites and also in a church of colored people--with what results you can see in the newspaper clipping I send you herewith. Last week I noticed a statement in the Fort Wayne
that one Fort Wayne (Ind.) minister had been accepted as a member of the Federation of Labor, and that ministers all over the country are contemplating a similar move--"to keep in touch with the working people," was the statement.
Through the Socialist press we learn that the Federation of Labor is adopting Socialism--just what we look for in the near future, that the masses will be carried away with that doctrine. Now, dear brother, do you think it likely that Babylon will accept that teaching when she sees that the greater bulk of the people will be carried away with it? Does it not look as though they will be compelled to do so if the image of the beast is to exercise all the power of the first beast? (`Rev. 13:12`.) How else could they do that--unless they have the majority of the people with them? The masses surely will be Socialists before long. And would not that be in harmony with the Scripture that "the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her," Socialism being the next king?
* * *
Just so: the press and the pulpit and the colleges have been on the one part preaching Higher Criticism Infidelity and Evolution, and destroying faith in a personal God, and in the Bible as his revelation; and on the other part preaching that "doctrine of devils" respecting eternal torment as the divine provision for the mass of our race and thus alienating men from the true God of the Bible; and now they wonder at the results --Socialism and later on anarchy! Surely, as the Scriptures declare, the wisdom of their wise men has perished and the understanding of their prudent men is not visible.--`Isa. 29:14`.
But now to the query of our Brother's letter we reply: No. Socialism will never become King of mystic "Babylon." The Scriptures most clearly teach that Babylon will be on the side of the chief captains and mighty men and kings of the earth and their armies in the struggle with which this age will close. (`Rev. 18:9-15`.) Just for a time Socialism will be popular with a few ministers who, sympathizing with "the submerged tenth," will seek their uplift thus--not seeing the better way of the divine plan and Word. But the majority of ministers "look every man to his own quarter," and finding that their supporters are from the other side they will trim their sails accordingly. This does not mean that they will antagonize the laboring class; but that ultimately they will oppose Socialism to the limit. Our own position is well known to our readers: we sympathize with many of the aims of Socialism, but deny the practicability of it, directing all mankind rather to the plan of God--"Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth even as in heaven." We assure the sober, intelligent Socialists that beyond
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question the end of Socialism will surely be that most terrible of all calamities--anarchy.
"GO TO NOW, YE RICH MEN, WEEP AND HOWL FOR THE MISERIES
THAT SHALL COME UPON YOU."--`JAS. 5:1`
The present panic has been called "the rich man's panic"; because primarily it was the rich who suffered most. In previous panics as a rule
held the railway and industrial shares which crafty rich speculators had sold out to them at high prices: so that when the crash of prices came the rich speculators were safe and the public suffered. But this time it has been the reverse, the rich speculators held the stocks and have suffered the losses. But the influence, "lack of confidence" and "deficiency of circulating medium," has spread to safe and prosperous enterprises and caused a temporary check. This has affected day-laborers in particular. And this class now is composed chiefly of Polish and Italians--mostly ignorant, and many of them vicious, the very scum of Europe: it includes, however, some as honest and faithful as could be asked. These now number millions, and the vicious of them are responsible for the dastardly "black-hand" lawlessness of the past year, which has been directed mainly against the better-to-do of their own countrymen.
Now, however, the "black-hand" methods of extorting money by terrorizing letters and circulars are being extended to other wealthy people; and anarchists are adopting "black-hand" methods, hoping to arouse public sentiment against the "predatory rich." Thus public prints tell us of a gathering of hundreds at the City Hall, Philadelphia, to demand from the mayor work or bread. And the New York
tells of a "black-hand" circular directed against the rich men of the Wall Street Stock Exchange. It says, Feb. 20:--
"KILL THE RICH," SAY ANARCHISTS
"What is believed to have been the real cause for the closing of the visitors' gallery of the Stock Exchange to the public became known yesterday, when Police Commissioner Bingham made public an anarchistic circular that has been sent broadcast through the city.
"The circular calls upon all workingmen to arm themselves and begin the slaughter of all rich men. Copies of the circular were sent into the Wall street district, and it is said that several members of the Stock Exchange received the notices with accompanying letters of warning.
"The explanation given when the visitors' gallery of the Stock Exchange was closed was that repairs were being made. There is not a bit of work being done on the gallery. The report is persistent that members of the Stock Exchange became aware of a "black-hand" plot to throw a dynamite bomb upon the floor of the Exchange while the members were trading.
"'We are determined to take along some of those who are to be blamed for our misery,' the circular says.
"Another part reads:
"'Brothers, let us put an end to this unbearable misery! Come on the street and let us show those criminal gamblers in Wall street how we are starving and suffering from untold misery.'
"The police think the circular was printed in Paterson, N.J., which is an anarchistic hotbed. Detectives have been sent there.
"Deputy Commissioner Woods said: 'I cannot make the circular public just now, as it is of such an inflammatory nature that it might do harm. I have never seen a paper so threatening and vicious in my life. It is likely to cause a great deal of trouble.'
"Copies of the circular were sent to labor organizations in New York and Brooklyn. Several of these organizations have notified Commissioner Bingham of the receipt of the circular and have asked him to discover and punish the authors of it.
"There can be no doubt that the circular has caused a scare in Wall street. None of the members of the Stock Exchange will admit having received a copy of it, but they know about it. Secretary George W. Ely declared that the visitors' gallery was not closed on account of the circular."
There is trouble nearer home, too. In Sewickley Heights, one of the suburbs of Pittsburg, the residence district of some very rich and very estimable people, a "black-hand" scare has caused many of the most aristocratic establishments to be deserted except by watchmen, while detectives are searching for the lawless threateners.
ANARCHISTS IN SMALL MINORITY
None should think from these things that the majority of laborers are "thugs." Quite to the contrary; the anarchists are few and may safely be set down as victims of mental aberration, the result of unfortunate birth, intensified by an unfavorable environment, by a false secular education and an entire ignorance of the true character and Word of God. Now these anarchists are few in number but with fanatical zeal make a stir far, far beyond their relative strength: the real trouble will come when the now bewildered but well-meaning masses shall have become fully inoculated with the infidelity of the Evolutionists and Higher Critics, and fully persuaded respecting the inalienable rights of man and fully convinced that these cannot be obtained for all except by a radical change of present institutions. Then Socialism will appear to the masses the
only peaceable way
for obtaining social and financial equality: then Socialism will spread like wild-fire. But Socialism will fail; because money and brains will cooperate against it from selfishness and fear. Then, maddened by their failure, Socialists will
turn anarchists, and the direct results will ensue: "A time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation."
"MAN ELECTS GOD NOW, AND NOT GOD MAN"
DECLARES DEAN OF CHICAGO DIVINITY
"In an address on 'The Gospel and the New Age,' Shaler Matthews, dean of the divinity school of the University of Chicago, noted for his commentaries on the Bible, before Haverford College students recently traced the decline of Christian faith and showed how by
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a reconstructive process it can still be made to meet the spiritual needs of the age.
"'Man elects God now, not God man,'" said the speaker. 'We have outgrown conceptions of God as a king and a father. Our deity is a personality endowed with the qualities the god of an advanced people must have. We think in terms of scientific progress, and since Darwin propounded his theories on evolution we have been living under their controlling concepts, and come to look at Christianity in this light.'
"The Church must modernize the gospel, restate the Testament teachings, or it will incur in the future the hostility of labor and science, and find in its diminished ranks only the mediocre."
"Dr. Matthews ridiculed the religious attitude which accepts outworn beliefs because 'they were good enough for a sainted mother or father,' saying that in the natural order of things children must break with traditions and get away from the religious decadence due to sentiment. He depicted the two factions at work trying to mould the religion of college men. On the one hand, old school teachers telling the youth to stop thinking and accept blindly their crude faiths and intellectual inheritance; on the other, strong men trying to adjust their faith to their judgment."--
* * *
A very rich man, whom we have every reason to regard as a Christian in the ordinary sense of that title, even if not a "saint," endowed the college whose teachings are represented by the head of its faculty in the above address. That rich man, already paying his employees liberally, gave liberally of his surplus to enlighten them or others of his fellow-creatures. Not vastly learned himself, he supposed that he was acting wisely, for the good of all mankind, when he entrusted so vast a fortune to the care of the learned ministers and professors of theology of his own (Baptist) denomination. Alas! he probably did not suspect that under the name of Christian influence and education his millions would be used to propagate Evolution doctrines contrary to the Bible, and to instil Higher Criticism of the Bible to utterly destroy the Bible's influence. The size of his generous gift and the size of the resultant college give increased weight and influence to the infidel doctrines which are flooding Christendom.
We do not blame Mr. Rockefeller, but concede his good intentions; neither do we condemn the professor whose words we quote above. Ensnared of the Adversary, he is probably honest in the utterance of his convictions. The point we do make is that the wealth and learning of Christendom have for the past thirty years been carrying forward the Adversary's work--destroying faith in a personal God and in the Bible as a revelation from him.
Now the fruit of their "sowing to the wind" is appearing and shortly they with others will reap the whirlwind of anarchy. Yet they are so blind to this as to fancy that the education they are giving the rising generation is
antidote for anarchy. Alas! they cannot see that "The reverence of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom." Their educational program ignores this foundation and hence is proving injurious to the race. Discontent and not happiness is the result of such education, and its influence extends to the uneducated.
* * *
Note how the campaign of destroying faith in the Bible and heeding infidelity which will soon lead to anarchy, progresses. A Wheeling, W.Va., paper says:--
"In the reading of his paper Rev. Clayton consumed the larger part of the evening, and the large congregation present accorded him rapt attention. He pointed out how man originally existed in the form of a worm, and how he later developed into the form of an ape, and how even today he bears a close relation to the gorilla. Each one of his theories Rev. Clayton backed up with proofs obtained from the science of evolution."
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CINCINNATI DEBATES AND CONVENTION
ANOTHER splendid "Convention of Bible Students, believers in the Atonement of the Precious Blood, a 'Ransom for all,'" has just closed. It was very enjoyable. Many said it surpassed all previous ones, due to the debates, due to the sharp contrasts manifested between Truth and Error and their different spirits. About 600 attended--from Canada on the North to the Gulf on the South; from the Atlantic on the East to the Rocky mountains on the West. Some of those who came first could not stay until the close, but others got in at the finish who were unable to come earlier. Probably at no time were there less than 500. We heard excellent reports of the Convention discourses; and some told us that the Testimony meetings were up to the highest notch and filled with the spirit of love. Prayers were offered for both of the disputants--for Brother Russell that his mouth might be widely opened to declare the lengths and breadths of God's love, and for Brother White that his eyes of understanding might be opened to see the real plan of God and its harmony and beauty.
Elder White, on learning of our Convention, made objection to it. This surprised us. We assured him that we would have been glad to have a large convention of people of his faith present to hear the debates. We discovered finally that his fear was that we purposed running the debates like a political convention--to cheer our own side and to howl and hiss down our opponent. We assured him that he much misunderstood us all; that nothing would be farther from our sentiment and purpose; that he would be treated with the greatest courtesy by all of us, both in public and in private.
The last day of the Convention was a rainy one, nevertheless the enthusiasm continued and the last public session (Sunday afternoon, March 1) was attended by about 2100 to hear concerning Life, Death and the Hereafter as portrayed
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in the Abrahamic Covenant. That a good impression was made on the minds of many was testified to personally, some saying, We came here fully in sympathy with Elder White's side of these questions, but we now see differently and rejoice accordingly. Some of these were immersed. On the day following the debate on Baptism 37 (18 males, 19 females, all adults) symbolized their consecration by water immersion, understanding clearly that it was not for "remission of sins" nor for admission into God's Kingdom or Church, but merely a symbolical testimony that their sins were already freely forgiven through faith in Christ's blood and that their heart consecration, whenever it occurred and was accepted of the Lord, admitted them to the Church of the living God whose names are written in heaven.
We opine that Elder White's course of boasting and misrepresentation during the debates did him little good. We understand that a part of his program and that of his fellow-believers was to "follow with a revival." We of course hope that they will not succeed in reviving their errors in the minds of the people. There is plenty of room for all the preachers of righteousness, but the poor world already has too many preachers of error. Elder White's meetings opened on Sunday, March 1, and the total attendance, as reported to us, was 31, including himself.
BELIEVING AND TEACHING
Elder White's various statements respecting "sheol" and "hades" seemed so peculiarly inconsistent that one evening after the close of the debate Brother Johnson spoke to him on the subject, saying, What is your view of sheol and hades? I really do not understand you. Elder White, he says, answered rather vaguely and, being further pressed for a reply, his fellow-minister and assistant in the debate, Elder Kurfees, spoke up and said, We hold that "sheol" and "hades" refer to the tomb. Then Elder White said, Never mind what I believe! What I have publicly uttered is what I teach!
ONE GENERAL CONVENTION AT PITTSBURG
It was remarked incidentally that this year would probably witness one large Convention at Pittsburg, about the time of the G.A.R. Encampment at Toledo, Ohio, and and if possible be so arranged as to gain for us some of the advantages of their usually low railroad rates. This would bring it about September 1, but definite announcement may be looked for soon in these columns.
BEREAN STUDIES ON THE ATONEMENT
THE TEXT BOOK USED FOR THIS COURSE
IS SCRIPTURE STUDIES, SERIES V. (E)
Questions on Study I.--The Fact
and Philosophy of the Atonement.
1. Do the Scriptures teach that the Church is so separate from the world that her hopes and ambitions spiritual are not discerned? Page 26, par. 1. `Matt. 11:27`; `John 15:15`; `1 Cor. 2:11`; `1 John 3:1`.
2. What are the "earnest expectations" of humanity and when will these be more than realized? Page 26, par. 1. `Rom. 8:19-23`.
3. What great promise did the Lord make, prior to the First Advent of our Lord Jesus, in which are included all the hopes for the Church and the world and which was subsequently elaborated by our Lord and his apostles? Page 26, par. 1.
4. Since "condemnation passed upon all men, because all are sinners," and since God changeth not, what grounds have we for faith or hope as respects the salvation of Adam and his race? Page 26, par. 2.
5. What difference is there between the Little Flock and the world as respects God's love and its redemption from the curse--the death penalty? Page 26, par. 2.
6. What inference may properly be drawn from the fact that the Church is referred to as a "first-fruits"? `James 1:18`.
7. Are there two parts to the work of Atonement? If so, name them and describe their operation. Page 27, par. 1.
8. Are the members of the Little Flock included in the first part of the Atonement work--the reconciliation for iniquity?
9. Will the Little Flock share with the world in its experiences under the New Covenant? Or will this class be counted "not of the world," but chosen-out ones for association with their Redeemer, as members of the Body of the great Mediator between God and mankind in general. Z. page 7, '07.
10. Does the invitation to the Church to follow the Lord in sacrifice, to drink of his cup of the New Covenant, signify the privilege of joining with our Lord in providing the blood (sacrifice) wherewith the New Covenant will by and by be sealed?
11. If by nature "we were children of wrath even as others," whence and how does this privilege come to us? "Who hath made us to differ?" and how were we made acceptable as joint-sacrificers with Christ? Page 28, par. 1. `Rom. 12:1`; `1 Cor. 4:7`; `Eph. 2:3`.
12. Will the world's justification be instantly or gradually effected? and how? and when? Page 29.
13. How long a time will the mediation of the New Covenant God-ward require? And how long man-ward? Page 29, par. 2.
14. When did our Lord Jesus become the Head of the world's Mediator? At his birth, or at his baptism, or at his resurrection? `1 Tim. 2:5,6`.
15. When was it that our Lord
himself a ransom"? Was it at his consecration? and did he fulfil the giving even unto Calvary?
16. When do we join our Lord as members of "his Body"? At birth, at justification, at consecration and acceptance of the Spirit, or in the resurrection?
17. Does this "His Resurrection" begin when the Lord accepts our consecration? and is it finished when we experience our final "change"? `Phil. 3:7-11`.
18. Will the mediatorial work of Messiah (his Millennial reign) ever have an end? When? Why?
What will by that time have been accomplished? Why will it not be prolonged? Page 30, par. 1,2.
19. Accepting Abraham as typifying God, and Isaac as typifying the Christ, and the three wives of Abraham (Sarah, Hagar and Keturah) as typifying the three great covenants between God and all from the human family who shall eventually become blest with the full liberty of the sons of God, which represented the "Law Covenant"? which the "New Covenant"? and which the original or "Everlasting Covenant"? `Gal. 4:22-31`; `Jer. 31:31-34`.
20. Is there room for doubt as to which were the children of Agar or Hagar, the people under the Law Covenant?
21. Is there room for doubt as to which are the children of Sarah, "the Seed of Abraham according to promise," or children of God under the Original Covenant or Everlasting Covenant? `Gal. 3:16,17`; `4:28`; `Heb. 13:20`; `11:17`; `Jas. 2:21`.
22. Is there room for doubt that the "New Covenant" cannot have been the oldest or the original and "Everlasting Covenant," nor the "Law Covenant" added four hundred and thirty years after it, but must be the one typified by Keturah, Abraham's last wife, accepted after the death of Sarah? (`Gen. 25:1-4`.) Is there any doubt that the promise of a New Covenant and its effects belong to the future? `Jer. 31:27-34`.
23. Is it not the New Covenant that the Apostle refers to in `Rom. 11:27`? If not, what Covenant is signified?
24. How could Israel partake of restitution except under the New Covenant? and how could this signify their obtaining mercy through the Church's mercy, except as the Church as the Spiritual Seed of the original promise (`Gal. 3:29`) becomes partaker with her Lord in the
of the New Covenant? `Rom. 11:26,31`. Pages 30, 31, 32.
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"I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE"
--`JOHN 6:26-37`.--MARCH 8.--
Golden Text:--"Jesus said unto
them, I am the Bread of Life."
AFTER partaking of the miraculously provided supper, the multitude, evidently according to their habit, lay down in the fields, wrapping themselves in their outer garments. Indeed, this is even today a prevailing custom in Palestine with the poorer people when on a journey. In the morning they looked about for their benefactor, evidently expecting to find Jesus in the same vicinity, and no doubt also expecting that he would miraculously provide for their breakfast. But not finding him nor the boat in which the disciples had come they journeyed onward towards Jerusalem, but still on the lookout for the reputed Messiah. When finally they came upon the Lord and his company they told of their search--and our lesson for today begins with our Lord's reply, You seek me not because of the miracle, but because of the satisfactory and free supper which you received. Here we perceive the wisdom of the Lord in not pressing matters too earnestly. He preached no sermon when he performed the miracle, but allowed it to have its effect; but now, instead of working another miracle, he preached a sermon, using his miracle as a text.
His reproof was not harsh, although it was quite pointed: Strive not for the food which perisheth, but for that kind which will produce everlasting life. This is the kind which the Son of man is prepared to give unto you, for him the Father, even God, hath sealed, indicated, marked as his appointed channel for blessing. The lesson contained in these words is obvious, and is as applicable today as then. The trouble with the whole world is that they have either earthly aims or no aims at all, and of the two conditions the latter is the worse. It is the people with aims, with purposes in life who are accomplishing something in themselves and for others. These are the worldly wise, who make two blades of grass grow where one grew before, who build factories and works and conduct large enterprises, and to whom in large measure civilization owes so much. They have ambition to be rich or to be wise or to be famed, and these ambitions spur them on to works.
But, alas! the great majority of mankind are in a much worse case, for without ambition they are merely eating to live and living to eat--merely animals of a higher intelligence. They labor for the meat that perisheth--it is their aim, their goal, and sometimes includes the inebriating cup, which steals from them whatever of sense they may have. Our Lord would have his hearers, including all his followers down through the age, note this message from his lips: that although the meat that perisheth is necessary under present conditions, those who are his followers will remember that their heavenly Father knoweth they have need of these and will not suffer them to come to serious want. And thus being without anxious care for the bread that perisheth they might turn their entire attention not to earthly but heavenly ambitions--the noblest, the grandest of all they might aspire to, because such blessed children come within the range of divine blessing of life everlasting. The meat, the food that would develop in them such an ambition and lead to its satisfaction, would be food indeed and well worthy of every exertion to obtain it.
WHAT SHALL WE DO?
The discourse had its effect; the people realized that they were leading comparatively aimless lives, or that their aims were earthly and therefore would perish with their dying, and they asked the Lord what kind of work or labor he meant they should perform to secure the food that would bring the divine favor and gain them eternal life. What do you mean by works that would please God? This is just the point that Jesus wished to bring them to and that he
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wished to answer. He replied that the work for them to do at once was to exercise faith in him as the Sent of God--the Messiah. But they replied, What reason have we to think of you as the Messiah? Work for us some conclusive sign that will prove that you are Messiah and we will believe. The fact that you fed five thousand of us last evening with five loaves and two small fishes does not prove your Messiahship. Messiah is to be like Moses, only greater than Moses, and the miracle you performed is not as great as some that Moses performed. You furnished five thousand one meal and had the loaves and fishes to start with, but Moses fed our fathers for years in the wilderness without any bread as a start. The manna which he provided came down from heaven; as it is written, "He gave them bread from heaven to eat." They were good reasoners in some respects--they were not going to be too easily converted, they wished to be thoroughly convinced before they would believe Jesus to be the Messiah; they had heard of others who had been deceived by false Messiahs; they were intending to stick close to the Scriptural record and to see that the one they would accept as Messiah must be greater than Moses, able to feed them and all the people every day--and with bread superior to that which Moses gave in the wilderness.
Then was Jesus' turn to expound his teaching and to show that the comparison as between himself and Moses was not as to who would give a finer kind of earthly food and more of it, but that he would give a heavenly food, a spiritual food, which would secure to them a heavenly life. He therefore called attention first of all to their mistake in thinking the giving of the manna to be the work of Moses, saying plainly, It was not Moses that gave the bread from heaven, but my Father; do not credit that to the wrong source. Moses was indeed an honored servant of the Lord as the Lawgiver of Israel, but he neither gave the manna nor sent it. My Father who sent that manna in the wilderness has now sent another kind of bread, another kind of food, another kind of manna from heaven--not literal, but symbolical. The bread which God is now about to send to his people, also comes down from heaven and is intended to be the Bread of life for the whole world--not merely day by day for a few years, but for life everlasting.
"EVERMORE GIVE US THIS BREAD"
The lessons were going home to their hearts, as we know by their reply, "Lord, evermore give us this Bread." We note the similarity of expression here with that used by the Samaritan woman to whom the Lord mentioned the gift of life under the figure of the water of life--"Evermore give me this water." The answers in both cases show us the longings of the people of that time, both Jews and Samaritans, for something superior to what they had. As the poet has declared, "There are longings infinite in the human mind"-- longings for life eternal. From remote times history tells us of how people in every clime have sought for health-springs and health-foods that thus they might have a longer continuance of the present life and, if possible, an annulment of death entirely. All realize that this has not yet been attained, and the war still goes on. It is on the strength of such longings of the soul for continued life that patent-medicines thrive. We are glad that there is such a longing in the human mind for a perpetuation of life; it becomes, as in this case and in the case of the Samaritan woman, a basis for further investigation for the eternal life which the Lord proffered.
Our Lord replied, "I am the Bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." Again our Lord's words would undoubtedly be beyond the depth of the people's understanding. We can imagine their consternation, and to assist us in sympathizing with them we should remember that they were not Spirit-begotten, because Pentecost had not yet come, "the holy Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified." (`John 7:39`.) Indeed, we find that this question is a very abstruse one with many of the Lord's people today, and few comprehend it with any clearness except the Spirit-begotten.
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Let us make the matter as plain as possible by continuing the investigation of the context. Therein Jesus explains that he himself had come down from heaven--not merely like the manna from the clouds, but from heaven itself, having laid aside the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, having humbled himself to an exchange of his previous spirit nature for the earthly nature in which he was then addressing them--the man Christ Jesus. But they could not eat him while he was alive, nor could they even understand what he meant when he said, "My flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed," and they reasoned, Will this man give us his flesh to eat? Is that what he means? The lesson was too deep for them; but, thank God, not too deep for us. As then some of the disciples forsook Jesus and walked no more with him, saying, "This is a hard saying, who can receive it?" so today there are some who cannot receive this teaching, which is the fundamental one of the Gospel of Christ. Whoever cannot receive this lesson cannot receive the other lessons which are built upon it. Our Lord further explained, "My flesh I will give for the life of the world." He had not yet given his flesh, though he was in the process of giving it; he was drawing out its vitality, its strength, in their service, but would complete the work of his sacrifice by surrendering his all to death--even the death of the cross. And this he did later.
"WE EAT HIS FLESH"
We do not eat the flesh of Jesus literally--we eat it by faith; that is to say, we appropriate by faith to ourselves the merit, the efficacy which was in his flesh and which he surrendered to death on our behalf. But why was this, and what did he surrender, and how do we partake of it? We answer that Adam as the head of the race had forfeited his life through disobedience and hence, instead of being able to propagate a race of perfect beings in harmony with God and privileged to
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have eternal life, his offspring was like himself, dying, unworthy of eternal life. In God's arrangement a redemptive sacrifice was necessary--some one must take Adam's place, suffer death for him in order to release him and to justify his race from the original sentence. No human being could be found who was perfect and who could give to Justice a ransom for his brother-- for all were sinners, coming short of the glory, the perfection, which God recognizes as essential to eternal life. It was to meet these requirements that God made the arrangement with his Son by which the latter freely, gladly, for the joy set before him, died, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. (`1 Pet. 3:18`.) So, then, it was our Lord's flesh or human nature that was given for Adam and his race, and hence given for the life of the world, that the world of mankind might be recovered from under the sentence of death. Thus Jesus, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man and we are all redeemed, not with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood [life] of Christ, as a lamb without spot or blemish.--`1 Pet. 1:18,19`.
We see, says one, how it was necessary for Christ to be made flesh and how it was necessary for him to give his flesh for the life of the world by going into death, but how shall we eat his flesh? is the question. Ah, we answer, the matter, as put in that figurative form, is beautifully simple and meaningful when we understand it. The eating of the Lord's flesh must be an individual matter on the part of all those who would benefit by his sacrifice. The eating represents the appropriating by faith. Thus, when one comes to an understanding of the fact of the redemption and believes therein and goes to God in prayer and by faith accepts the forgiveness of his sins and reconciliation with God, he in so doing is eating the flesh of the Son of man; he is partaking of those benefits or advantages which our Lord's flesh or sacrifice secured.
JUSTIFIED BY OUR "EATING"
The result of such eating by faith signifies the appropriation to one's self of all the blessings and privileges which our Lord possessed as a perfect man; it implies our justification on the human plane, our relationship to God as those whose sins are graciously overlooked or covered and who have joy and peace and fellowship with God through faith in the precious blood. We are to continue to eat that we may grow stronger and stronger--that we may be able to appropriate more and more the wonderful blessings and privileges, relationships and divine favors which belonged to our Lord, but which he surrendered on our behalf and on behalf of all the members of Adam's race. Additionally, those who are rightly influenced by the eating --those who are drawn nearer to the Lord and led to a full consecration of their all to him--these receive a special invitation during this Gospel Age to drink of his blood. The blood is the life in Scriptural language, and hence ordinarily the Jews were not to drink blood; to do so would make them guilty or responsible for the death of the person or creature. Thus the Jews said of our Lord, "His blood be upon us"--we assume the responsibility of his death.
And thus also the Apostle explains that those who partake of the blood of Christ symbolically in the communion cup are symbolically representing themselves as being guilty of the blood of Christ, guilty of the death of Christ--unless they partake of it with the proper, the intended signification. What is that intended signification? We answer that our Lord stated the matter at the last Supper, saying to his disciples, "This is the cup of the New Covenant in my blood-- drink ye all of it." This cup of the fruit of the vine represents my blood, my death; by it the New Covenant will eventually be sealed, and I invite you who believe on me to partake of this with me, to partake of this not as those who caused my death, but as those who voluntarily gave up their own lives and joined with me in this death, in this self-sacrifice. As you partake of this cup with me it signifies that you lay down your lives as I laid down mine and that you become participants with me in this cup which speaks, which means the great sacrifice, the great life given through which the New Covenant will be established, under which all the families of the earth will be blessed.
So, then, under the guidance of the holy Spirit through the words of the Apostle we may see a depth of meaning in our Lord's words which the people whom he addressed did not comprehend. Indeed, we believe that while our Lord addressed these words to the Jews he intended them more particularly for us to whom they have been communicated and by whom they have been more fully understood. We rejoice, then, in the justification which we have through partaking of his flesh--through being justified by the sacrifice of his humanity--our appropriation of our share of human justification. And we rejoice also that eventually the whole world shall be privileged to eat of that flesh--to accept the grace of God in the cancellation of their human sins and weaknesses, and to realize that all those blessings of restitution times, the blessings of the Millennium, will come to them because Christ died for their sins, because he gave to them his flesh to eat. The whole world is to eat of that Bread, and, as the Apostle intimates, the Church is now privileged to be a part with the Lord in the Loaf that is being broken, as well as to be participants in the cup of ignominy and self-sacrifice which the Father poured for him and which he permits us to share with him--for if we suffer with him we shall also reign with him, if we be dead with him we shall also live with him, if we drink of his cup we shall also share in his joys in the Kingdom by and by.--`2 Tim. 2:12`.
WHOM THE FATHER GIVETH SHALL COME
The multitude who had eaten of the bread the night before, and who now had received the explanation respecting the higher food necessary to eternal life, did not believe, although they recognized Jesus as a very wonderful personage indeed, and probably, like another multitude, were ready to declare, "Never man spake like this man." (`John 7:46`.) Was our Lord disconcerted
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and disappointed because these thousands of Israel, heirs of the promises, received him not, heeded not his message? Nay, verily! Nor should we his followers think strange of it that in this harvest time the divine message should be incomprehensible to the great majority of the household of faith of our time. We read nothing of our Lord's becoming excited to a frenzy and appealing to the people and teaching them that they were about to fall into an eternity of torture if they did not receive him. We read nothing about the apostles going out amongst them and urging them to a mourner's bench. Quite to the contrary of all this. Jesus evidently expected that few would believe; he even turned to his disciples and said, "Will ye also go away?" But they answered, No; to whom should we go? from you we have the message of eternal life which comes from nowhere else. Master, we will stand by you; we could not do otherwise, our every interest is bound up in this glorious message which we have heard from your lips. We are ready to die with you, to drink of your cup.
Instead of manifesting any perturbation our Lord said to the multitude, This is what I told you before; ye have seen me, ye have believed not. Why? Because ye are not of the flock of sheep whom my Father hath given me to lead at the present time. Other sheep I have which are not of this flock; by and by I will attend to them. But now, "All that the Father hath given me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out"--reject. What is this if not an election, a selection? How much in harmony it is with what our Lord uttered in his prayer on the night before his crucifixion, "I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me...that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world
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may [then, later] believe that thou hast sent me!" (`John 17:9,21`.) As our Lord was not expecting all to come to him and to accept of his gracious offer and God's gracious provision in him and thus to be justified through eating his flesh, so he could not expect either that many would go on still further and make the consecration to walk in his steps in the narrow way and thus be partakers of his cup and prospective joint-heirs with him. Oh, no! these in all, from first to last, are but a Little Flock, but a very blessed Little Flock to whom, as the Master declared, the Father will give the Kingdom. (`Luke 12:32`.) And when they shall be changed and are like their Master and shall receive the Kingdom power and glory and dominion-- then will come through that Kingdom the overthrow of the prince of darkness, the prince of this world; the overthrow of sin and the work of blessing, enlightening and uplifting all the poor world of mankind who are not now called and drawn by the Father!
Note our Lord's words in this connection, "No man can come unto me except the Father which sent me draw him." (`John 6:44`.) There is an exclusiveness about this: the time had not yet come, mentioned in Revelation, when the water of life shall flow freely, and whosoever will may come. (`Rev. 22:17`.) That glorious time belongs to the Millennial Kingdom and not to the present time, which is devoted to the election or selection of the Bride class of joint-heirs which the Father is now drawing, calling, sealing. Mark the distinctive difference between this drawing of the present time by the Father and that later drawing of the Millennial Age, which will not be by the Father but by the Son, and which will not be exclusive but inclusive, including all mankind. Hearken to our Master's words to this effect, that "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." (`John 12:32`.) All men are not yet drawn to the Lord. Why? Because the lifting up is not yet complete. The Head was lifted up not only at Calvary but was subsequently highly exalted as a reward, and the members of his Body, the members of the Bride class who follow in his steps, must finish their course and also be highly exalted as his joint-heirs before the lifting-up process will be complete.
With that glorious "change" of the First Resurrection the Millennial Kingdom will be ushered in and during that wonderful reign of righteousness, that shining forth of the sun of light and truth for the blessing of the world, all mankind will be drawn away from sin and selfishness, away from sickness, pain and sorrow, away from everything that is evil, toward the Lord, that they may partake of his flesh indeed and have eternal life with all the blessings of restitution which God has provided through the great Redeemer. We are not in this teaching Universalism, for as many of those who are called and drawn now to be of the Bride class can, and many do, resist the drawings, or, as the Apostle says, "receive the grace of God in vain." So it will be possible to resist the drawings of the Millennial Age, as is pointed out in the Scriptures in various statements, of which this may suffice, "It shall come to pass that the soul that will not hear [obey] that Prophet, shall be destroyed from amongst the people" --in the Second Death, without hope of any recovery. Note again the Lord's promise to these Elect ones whom the Father now draws and who now come and feed upon our Lord's flesh and who drink of his cup, his blood, and participate with him in his sacrifice. Their hope is stated in these words, "I will raise him up at the last day." The last day, the great seventh day, the Millennial day. Ah, yes! We remember it is written respecting the Church, the Bride class, "God shall help her right early in the morning" (`Psa. 46:5`.)--the morning of that Millennial day. The six days, epochs of one thousand years each, from Adam have passed, the seventh is already dawning and the time is near at hand when the Bride, all glorious, shall be presented to the great King, the Father, by the great King, his Son, our Lord--"with gladness and rejoicing shall she be brought: they shall enter into the King's palace."-- `Psa. 45:15`.
"I WILL IN NO WISE CAST OUT"
How glad we are that our dear Master added these words. Without them we might have doubted the efficacy of the calling and the drawing which we receive;
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and some might have said, Yes, I was indeed drawn, but evidently the Lord Jesus did not count me worthy of a place amongst his followers. He here assures us that the drawing of the Father which brings us to him with a desire to be his disciples will insure for us his aid, his succor, his assistance, his acceptance. Thus we may know that if we fail of the grace of God now provided for us in the high calling, it will be our own fault, because of failure to give heed to the voice of the Shepherd and to walk in his steps.
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"THE STONE WITNESS"
In a dark, dreary land,
In a wilderness lone,
In a desert of sand
Stands the Witness of Stone.
So ancient, so vast,
So majestic its plan,
It speaks from the past
Of a strength not of man.
So perfect the whole,
So true the design,
It speaks to the soul
Of a Builder divine.
Behold how it towers
In its grandeur alone!
"God's ways are not ours,"
Saith the Witness of Stone.
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It is awful to go
When the world is asleep,
And stand 'neath the glow
Of the star-studded deep,
And gaze at that tower
With its secret unknown,--
For great is the power
Of the Witness of Stone!
They have scoffed at the Truth
Which is written in ink,
They have deemed it uncouth
For the brain which can think;
But they will awake
When they see it defined
In figures which make
An appeal to the mind!
The Book of the soul,
The Book of the heart--
There is naught on that scroll
For the shrewd or the smart!
And so there must be
A witness for such,
A thing they can see
And a thing they can touch.
'Tis a book for the wise,
If the meek and the just;
'Tis a chart for the eyes
Long blinded by dust.
'Tis a proof for the sage
Whose god is the known--
There is truth for the age
In the Witness of Stone.
Grace P. Bronaugh.
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"I WAS BLIND, I NOW SEE"
--`JOHN 9:1-41`.--MARCH 15.--
Golden Text:--"I am the Light of the world."--`V. 5`.
OUR Lord was in Jerusalem on the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles, in the fall of the third year of his ministry--just six months before his crucifixion. No doubt there were then as now many blind men sitting by the wayside soliciting alms, especially at that season of the year, when the crowds gathered for worship and were apt to feel benevolent. Our Lord did not heal all of these blind; the recorded instances are just six. His mission was not for the healing of the sick, but for the preaching of the Gospel, the power of healing being exercised merely to point to the Gospel message, as in the instance given in this lesson.
As our Lord and the apostles passed one of these blind men it was noted that he was blind from birth. Probably his asking for alms led to a discussion of a very important question raised by the apostles --"Lord, which did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" It may be that the apostles were less clear in their logic than usual, else they might have known that the man could not have sinned before birth; but it is barely possible that some of the heathen ideas respecting the transmigration of souls had come to their attention. Satan has deluded many of the heathen into the supposition that they lived before in some other form or condition and that having been born into the world they were merely having life renewed under changed conditions, either better or worse than previously. This view is held by millions of Buddhists and also by the Mormons. The Scriptures, however, are very explicit to the contrary, teaching that Adam was a direct creation of God and that all the human family have sprung direct from him by natural processes of birth.
Our Lord's reply that neither this man nor his parents had sinned is not to be understood as meaning that he and his parents were without blemish, without a share in the condemnation which came upon Father Adam and which, through him in a general way, has come to all of his posterity. Of this the Apostle says, "By one man's disobedience sin entered into the world and death as the result of sin, and thus death passed upon all men." (`Rom. 5:12`.) This blind man and his parents as members of the Adamic race were under the death sentence, the same as ourselves and others. Our Lord evidently meant and was understood to mean that it was not because of any special sin committed by this man and his parents that he had been born blind. Similarly on another occasion he said, speaking of those upon whom the Tower of Siloam fell, "Think ye that these were sinners above other men? I tell you, Nay; but unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" --not all perish in the same manner, but all shall die. (`Luke 13:4`.) The death sentence is over all, and
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only by getting into relationship with the Life-giver can any of us hope to escape it.
AFFLICTIONS NO PROOF OF GOD'S DISPLEASURE
The principal point of this lesson, therefore, is that calamities are not necessarily marks of divine disapproval. It was not so in this man's case; it was not so in the case of Job nor in the instance of the burial under the Tower of Siloam. Nevertheless, our Lord did imply that with the Jews special sickness often meant stripes or punishment for personal sin. Thus in the case of the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda; in a previous lesson we noted our Lord's words to the healed one, "Go thy way, sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon thee." It is undoubtedly true that many of the ailments that afflict mankind are the results of improper living on their part or on the part of their forefathers. Scrofula is such a disease, often being transmitted through several generations; gout is another. Indeed we could mention scores. It is proper, therefore, when we find ourselves in sickness, that we examine carefully to what extent we ourselves have been responsible through careless living, either through eating or drinking too much, or by the use of foods unsuited to our condition. If we find the cause of such an ailment in such a direction it is well that we repent thereof and take such steps in an opposite direction as may be possible to us, while with prayer we resolve that with the Lord's assistance we shall be more consistent
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in the future; that our eating and drinking and whatsoever we may do may be to his glory and for the best possible preservation and usefulness of the mortal body we have consecrated to his service.
But if on investigation we cannot find that our experience and sickness were the result of self-gratification nor the result of hereditary disease beyond our control, it would be well, then, for us to examine carefully and note whether or not our experiences had resulted from our activity in the Lord's service. If so, we should glory in them; we should rejoice that we have been enabled to lay down some of life and health in the service of him who did so much for us. Nevertheless as wise stewards we should seek to note whether or not we could accomplish as good results or better by a different course, one which might be less exhausting, less debilitating. Even then, however, the thought before our minds should not be self-protection, for he that loveth his life to an improper degree will lose it. Our thought should be our responsibility as stewards, that we might accomplish in our bodies that which would be most pleasing and acceptable in his sight. If none of these suggestions seems to fit our case we still have two others to examine:--
(1) Might our sickness be a chastisement for a course displeasing to the Lord? Might it be in the nature of stripes? If in our minds we can find sin at the door of our hearts--a wrong course of life, it would be safe to accept the experience as a chastisement and to seek to profit thereby. But otherwise, (2) finding none of these things to fit the case we should consider that our affliction, as in the case before us in this lesson, is simply for our welfare, to assist us to the application of some valuable spiritual lesson, or, as our Lord expressed it, that the works of God might be made manifest. It should be our pleasure to glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits [minds] which are his, either by receiving good lessons ourselves or by pointing good lessons to others. As we shall see this was much the experience of the blind man; his case was one which operated as a blessing for himself and as a manifestation of the Lord Jesus and his power and as a testing to the Pharisees and others of his time and as a valuable instruction to many of the Lord's people from that day until the present time.
"THE WORKS OF GOD"
We emphasize the fact that the works of God were not merely in the healing of one out of thousands of sick and blind, but the manifestation of Jesus as the Light of the world and the influence and testing which that would mean to the Jewish people--gathering out of them a little handful of Israelites indeed for membership in the Bride class and the rejection of the great mass of that nation as unfit for a share in the heavenly Kingdom. This work our Lord proceeded to do in the healing of this blind man, saying, "I am working the works of him that sent me while it is day. The night cometh when no man can work." Our Lord's day of opportunity was rapidly drawing to a close. This miracle and others, especially the awakening of Lazarus, brought him so prominently before the eyes of the people that there was a division amongst them concerning these things, some accepting, some rejecting, and this division must necessarily proceed throughout the whole nation. It was the test, and it must culminate in a night time in which the Light of the world, Jesus, would be for a time entirely extinguished--before the Israelites, before Pilate, at Calvary. Similarly with each one of the Lord's followers we might say that there is a day time of opportunity when his time and talent and zeal may bring forth fruitage to the Lord's praise, and that the opportunities then afforded should be exercised to the fullest, for to each will come a night time when the opportunities will pass from him as he passes into death.
In harmony with this is the prophetic statement, "Do with thy might what thy hand findeth to do: for there is no work nor device nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave [sheol] whither thou goest." (`Eccl. 9:10`.) And there is another application still which we should not forget, namely, that the Church as a whole has had varying experiences. Beginning at Pentecost there was quite an illumination upon the early Church; but it was not morning time, it was evening time. The glow of light which was upon them was from the setting sun; gradually the darkness came and throughout the long epoch of this Gospel Age gross darkness has prevailed and in it the Lord's people have been able to see only a little of the pathway at a time; as it is written, "Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a lantern to my footsteps." That epoch in general has been called the "dark ages," and now we are approaching the dawning of the morning and the path before shines more and more.
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The light now shining more closely resembles that which shone upon the early Church, and in both instances it is the light of the
the light of the
of the Son of Man. But even in this morning of dawning light we are to expect another time of deep darkness: a night time in a certain sense will intervene, an overcasting of the skies, a great morning storm, as the Lord has foretold through the Prophet, "The morning cometh, a night also." (`Isa. 21:12`.) The morning is here, but before it is ushered in in the full splendor of Millennial brightness the great storm of the time of trouble will break--"a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." (`Dan. 12:1`.) Therefore we may well say to ourselves, individually and as the Body of Christ, we "must work the works of him that sent us"--who commissioned us while it is day, while the light of the sun is upon us, because the night of trouble cometh when no man can work, when our opportunities for serving the cause and the brethren and for the public dissemination of the Truth will be forcibly closed by the powers that be.
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
Our Lord added, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." The light shone amongst them to reprove the evil and to encourage the good for another six months, up to the time of our Lord's crucifixion, but he left behind him some who were receptive to the influence of the light, his Spirit, and who were illuminated by the Pentecostal blessing. Of these he said, "Ye are the light of the world." "Let your light so shine before men that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father in heaven." Thus, as the Apostle says, "As he was, so are we in this world"--lights shining in darkness, appreciated not, comprehended not, understood not, refused, repulsed by the great mass, even by those who claimed to be the people of God, but whose hearts were not in such sympathy with the light as to permit them to receive the holy Spirit's illumination. For be it noted that there is quite a distinction between having the holy Spirit and being illuminated by it so as to let our light shine, and on the other hand being of those upon whom such illumination shines. Our Lord let his light shine upon many, and so we have opportunity to let our light shine upon many. But no one has the light within him except he is begotten of the holy Spirit.--`Heb. 10:32`.
ANOINTING THE EYES OF THE BLIND
This little discussion was probably within the hearing of the blind man and intended not merely for him but also for the disciples and all who have since believed on the Lord through their words. Afterwards our Lord spat upon the ground and made an ointment with the dust and saliva, with which he anointed the eyes of the blind man. All this implies some assistance from the blind man. His assent is also implied in his going at our Lord's bidding to wash in the waters of the pool of Siloam. Faith was first followed by works and this attested a degree of perfection. If he had not believed he would not have submitted to the anointing, neither would he have left his seat as a beggar to go and wash. The ointment which our Lord made and used, we may safely say, had no particular virtue in it, neither had the waters used any virtue in them, and this fact is recognized in the whole narrative; it was merely an aid to the blind man's faith, but did not in his mind perform the cure; he recognized that it was a miracle, as did the Pharisees. The great weight of this miracle lay in the fact that this man was born blind, and as he said subsequently no one up to that time had ever heard of the opening of the eyes of one born blind. Indeed, oculists today tell us that with all the advancement of science since on this line those who are born blind are beyond hope of relief, except in the one ailment, cataract. And in this case the remedy is but partial, through a surgical operation; removing the lens, for which an artificial one is substituted.
The miracle was evidently the talk of all in the vicinity of the man's home; neighbors and friends congratulated him, but some were unable to believe that it was the same person, unable to believe that one born blind should ever be able to see. It became quite an advertisement for Jesus, for the man when asked how it came that he could see told that a person named Jesus had performed the miracle. The Pharisees, already envious and seeking occasion to kill our Lord, had, we are told, formulated a resolution that if any one confessed Jesus as the Messiah he should be excluded from the synagogue and its privileges as unworthy of the honor and liberty and privileges belonging to a true Jew. Lest the matter should spread, and, if possible to corner it and head it off, they made an investigation. Going to the man's father and mother, the parents simply told the truth and avoided anything further, saying that they knew him to be their son and that he was born blind and that now he saw; but how
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they could not say, for they did not see; he was of age and able to speak for himself. The once blind man was again interrogated: How? When? Where? as though to entrap him in an untruth. His own heart honest, he perceived that these so-called holy men were so opposed to Jesus that they were trying every way to disprove or belittle the miracle.
Turning to the healed man the Pharisees said to him, Thank God for your sight, even though it came through a bad channel, for we know that this man Jesus who healed you is a sinner, is a hypocrite, is a falsifier in claiming to be Messiah; he is a bad man. This was more than the once blind man could or should endure; he must not hear the character of his best friend traduced without speaking a word in his defense; he therefore said, This is a very remarkable case that a miracle should be performed such as never before was heard of, and that the man to perform the miracle should be a sinner with whom God would have no dealings; this is indeed remarkable. It has been a teaching amongst us Jews that God would not even hear the prayer of sinners; how then could this man, a sinner, have performed so stupendous a miracle? Then they began to cross-question him again respecting the how and when and where. But perceiving their dishonesty of heart he said to them, Why are you asking
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again? You remember what I told you; are you anxious to become his disciples that you want me to explain further, or what is your motive? Perceiving that their hypocritical designs were discovered, they railed at the man, saying, No, we are not Jesus' disciples; you are one of his, we are Moses' disciples. We know that God appointed Moses, and by his Law we stand; as for this man, who knows anything about him? He is said to come from Nazareth, but is not of wonderful parentage, and is not the kind of a Messiah that we have been expecting, with power and great glory and ability to deliver our nation from the hands of the Romans. You had best follow him, we will have nothing to do with you or him; do not come again to our synagogue. Consider yourself an outcast from the religious people of your own nation.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out and found him and said to him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? In answer to the man's desire to know more our Lord revealed himself to him as the Messiah. Then he worshiped Jesus. Notice the exercise of the Lord's providential care over this man and his interests. He did not spare him from being cast out of the synagogue, but turned the same into a special blessing of instruction of much advantage to the man in every way.
In the various features of this incident we today find a lesson along higher lines. Some of us were born blind--blind to the Lord and his true character, blind to the truth of the divine Word. The blindness upon us was neither our own fault nor the fault of our parents. They as well as we were honest-hearted toward the Lord. Our blindness, therefore, was not a chastisement for sins. The darkness, the blindness, which so long has overspread Christendom entrapped us as well as others, but the Lord had mercy upon us and passed our way and made ointment and eyesalve for us. He took of the clay of human agency and mixed it with his Word, the fruit of his lips, and with that combination he gave us the anointing of the eyes of our understanding and bade us wash in the waters of Siloam, his Word of truth and grace. We followed his prescription and now we see. A new world is opened before us, "Wonderful things in the Bible we see!" The Scribes and Pharisees of our day wonder, criticise and try to account for the blessing which has come to us, and of course will find fault with every agency which the Lord has used in connection with our blessing, for their hearts are not in the right attitude to appreciate the light of the favor of God.
It is for us now to take a similar stand to that which this blind man took, to confess the truth, confess the light, confess the miracle which the Lord has wrought upon the eyes of our understanding and to give him our hearts. And it is also for us to find that this will bring against us the anger, the chagrin, the malice of the Scribes and Pharisees of our day. It is for us to find that this will lead men to separate us from their company, to cast us out of their synagogues. Through the Prophet the Lord has foretold this, saying, "Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out, said, The Lord be glorified [we do this casting out for the good of the Lord's cause that we may glorify him]. But he shall appear to your joy and they shall be ashamed." (`Isa. 66:5`.) How many of the Lord's people have found that the major part of their blessing comes after they have acknowledged the Truth, stood up for it and endured some persecution on its account! Then the Lord findeth them, he knows where they are and all about them all the time, but then he reveals himself to them specially that they may know him, that they may have fellowship with him, that they may receive from him a blessing, as in the case of this blind man.
"ARE WE BLIND ALSO?"
The last two verses of our lesson call our attention to the theological pride of the Pharisees. And, alas, in this also, we must concede that they represent fitly some of their successors in Spiritual Israel who are spiritually proud. Our Lord had declared that his coming into the world would prove a judgment or testing to that order of things, that some of the blind would be made to see and some of those who had been seeing would become blind. That is to say, the truth would prove a testing to many, some coming out of the blindness and darkness and ignorance and superstition to an appreciation of the grandest of God's blessings, and others, who had a larger measure of favor previously, lapsing into a blind condition. Those who received the Lord received enlightenment at Pentecost, and the Apostle remarks that the remainder were blinded and are to remain blind until the close of this Gospel Age.
Hearing his remark about the blind ones seeing and the seeing ones becoming blind the Pharisees said to the Lord, In what list are you placing us? not amongst the blind, we hope? Jesus replied that it would have been better for them if they had been blind, if their course had been actuated by total ignorance, but the case was different. They did have considerable enlightenment and therefore corresponding responsibility, but because of their pride and self-sufficiency in taking what they did see as the whole truth and rejecting the real message of the Lord they were hardening themselves against the light, against the truth, and their sin was fastening itself upon them, shackling them so that they could not and would not and did not receive the light that was then due.
Are there not a good many in this situation today, prominent Christian people boasting of their enlightenment and yet afraid of the light of God's Word and afraid, ashamed to acknowledge either their own ignorance of it or the light that is now shining upon it by the Lord's presence and through the channels which he is using for the scattering of the light in this present time? Let us be prompt to acknowledge that we have nothing of our own, neither light nor wisdom, and let us receive at the Lord's hands the true wisdom, the true enlightenment which comes from above. If all could come to this position rapidly the truth would spread. The great opposition comes from those who claim to know but do not really know; whose boastfulness and pride not only hinder them from entering into the light, but lead them also to hinder others from appreciating it.