ZWT - 1904 - R3294 thru R3460 / R3342 (097) - April 1, 1904
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VOL. XXV. APRIL 1, 1904. No. 7.
Views From the Watch Tower........................ 99
Religious Aspect of the War................... 99
Russia's Internal Troubles.................... 99
Crime Threatens National Life.................100
The Gold in the Vatican.......................101
For Organic Church Union......................101
Joshua's Long Day.................................102
A Vision of Coming Glory..........................103
"He that Heareth You Heareth
Public Ministries of the Truth....................112
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
RELIGIOUS ASPECT OF THE WAR.
THE SUCCESS of Japan bids fair to make of her a "Christian Nation"--for are not the successful fighting nations Christian nations? And are not the unsuccessful fighters the barbarians? As a matter of fact the heathen masses of the Japanese are tractable and obedient to their rulers, economical and industrious and very poor. The leaders of that nation have adopted the civilization of Europe and America, but very little Christianity, except as it appeals to them as indispensable to foreign relations and the advancement of their own nation's interests. So far as we can ascertain, the majority of those rated as Christians are no more worthy the name than are the Evolutionists and Higher Critics of Europe and America,--they are Agnostics. The name Christian is a respectable one now-a-days, and many good fighters and brilliant thinkers prefer and adopt it as in contrast with Heathen.
We even hear that the "Anglo-Israelites" have about concluded that the Japanese must be part of what they are pleased to term the "ten lost tribes." Why? We presume because they are successful fighters! Alas, that the professed disciples of the Prince of Peace should measure the affairs of earth by such carnal rules!
The New York Independent contrasts the paganism of Japan and the Christianity of Russia thus:--
"Russia claims to be fighting the battle of Christendom against a pagan nation. It is not so easy to say which is the Christian nation. Japan allows liberty of conscience. There are members of Christian churches who command her battleships, who sit in her cabinet, who preside over her parliament. There is the full civilization that has grown out of Christianity: public schools, the best education, the institutions of business and benevolence which are the product of Christianity. This has been given to Japan under the tutelage of Christian nations, frankly adopted from this and other countries. There is a constitutional government, elected rulers, courts and freedom.
"But what do we see in Russia? An absolutely autocratic government, with no local self-government, no congress, no constitution, no public-school system, no religious liberty, the Dukhobortsi, the Jews and the Lutheran Finns equally forced into exile, and the Armenians in the Caucasus driven to frenzy by the robbery of their churches and schools. Which is the Christian country?"
RUSSIA'S INTERNAL TROUBLES.
Geneva, Switzerland, March 13.--Japan is not all that is worrying the Russian government at present. As a matter of fact, the opinion prevails in revolutionary circles here (and this is headquarters for the whole revolutionary movement in Europe) that St. Petersburg is in far greater dread of the work of the revolutionary party at home than of the legions and warships of the Mikado in the far east.
Geneva swarms with Russian spies, and the movements of known Nihilist leaders are watched as closely as possible; but despite all the efforts of the Czar's police, the presses are busily turning out revolutionary literature and most of it finds its way across the frontier and is distributed throughout Russia.
There is no doubt that plans are being made for a series of demonstrations against the government at the first favorable opportunity. A decisive defeat of the Russians in Manchuria would unquestionably be regarded as the opportunity.
One of the leaders of the Russian revolutionists here said recently:
"We don't propose now to make war on the Czar. Our efforts will be directed against the creatures who use him as a cloak for their reactionary designs. I believe that if the Czar were freed from the influence of such men as Pobiedonestzeff, Plehwe and those they represent, the nobles who think more of their privileges than of the good of the country, that his majesty would ultimately be willing to go as far in the direction of liberalizing Russia as is desirable at this time. We realize that there is a vast population in Russia, the
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descendants of former serfs, who are not ready for a full measure of self-government, but we believe the day for the autocratic government of Russia in the name of the Czar by an oligarchy of noble grafters is nearly passed.
"Russia's defeat by Japan would be the very best thing which could happen to the fatherland, and the revolutionary party will spare no means to encompass it. This is not a war for Russia. It is a war for the nobility, and the defeat of the nobility means that the people will come to their own. That there will be 'removals' of high officials when the time comes is altogether probable.
"All reforms in a country like Russia must be accomplished by agitation, and the dagger and bomb properly applied are potent agitators. Even the most radical revolutionary, however, will not move against the Czar. His danger lies not with the Nihilists, but with the oligarchs whose power is threatened. His liberal ideas and predilection for peace may cost him his life, but if he is slain it will be by the men who have dragged Russia into this predicament.
"That the Nihilists will be blamed in case the Czar is assassinated is altogether probable, but you may say that those who wish to see Russia enter a new era of greatness under a constitutional government look upon the present Czar as more likely to bring this about than any man living, and would regard his death as a national calamity."
* * *
It is well for those who are followers of him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life to avoid extreme views and positive assertions respecting the Russo-Japanese war. The new King, Immanuel, has taken the helm of earth's affairs--Michael has assumed command (`Dan. 12:1`) and matters will no longer be allowed to "drift." The outcome will be favorable to the preparation for and the establishment of the Kingdom of the Lord under the whole heavens, however disappointing the intermediate steps may be to those with whom "the secret of the Lord" is not. Let us not forget that the Lord is preparing for "his act, his strange act," utterly incomprehensible to those not acquainted with his "secret," revealed through his Word only to his "little flock":
"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
"Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
His Word will yet be plain.
"Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds men so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
With blessings for the 'dead'."
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CRIME THREATENS NATIONAL LIFE.
In an address on "Suggestion and Crime," delivered before the members of the Patria Club last evening, President Henry Hopkins of Williams College declared that the prevalence of crime in this country was greater at the present time than ever before, and that the very foundations of the national life are seriously threatened. He said:--
"The heart of the American people is sound and its head is level. Our business interests still rest upon a basis of honesty and honor. The sacredness and integrity of the family as the foundation of domestic, social and civil institutions are still our cherished faith. Reverence for law and a willingness to make any sacrifice to maintain the law continue to be national characteristics.
"Nevertheless the foundations of personal character and our national life are threatened. There are some very ugly features in the present situation. There is abounding evidence of an alarming increase in crime, of crime of every sort, but especially of the kind that undermines honesty, chastity and respect for law. Statistics of crime are for several reasons unreliable. Prof. Commons, ten years ago, said that crime would indicate degeneracy and danger of collapse. The blood of the body politic may become vitiated and the whole tone of public health lowered.
"We have been discussing and revising penal codes, improving our houses of correction, and correcting our prison discipline, and in the meantime crime has been multiplying. In philanthropic work we have been seeking to rescue the fallen rather than to prevent a man from falling. It is a thousand times better to stand in the way of his fall and ten thousand times more hopeful than to raise him broken, bruised and defiled after he is down.
"This is an era of scientific philanthropy, and under this head no more important work has been done than in the department of penology. Indeed the hopeful sign of our time is the number of trained minds which are carefully investigating our social problems. It is at last almost true that the watchword of modern reform is prevention, and it is beginning to be recognized that its true method is displacement versus repression.
"The causes of crime have only begun to be scientifically studied. These causes are of course complex and diverse--density of population, economic conditions, family circumstances, the character of the Police Department. For forty years crime has increased five times as fast as population. Whatever value we may place upon this estimate, the facts for the last ten years have been worse.
"Leaving out of consideration the ghastly growth in the number of murders and suicides, we are compelled to admit that there is a growing infidelity to financial trust in the business world, so that there is a visible loss of confidence of man in his fellow man. Defalcations continue and multiply in disheartening succession. The proportion of divorces to marriages is astonishing and sickening, not only in the newest States, but in the oldest Commonwealths. Disintegration, decadence, and often destruction of the family and lowering of the ideal of the home goes on unceasingly; and back of it all is a vast and swelling volume of dishonesty, unchastity and crime.
"But most startling and disheartening of all is the progress of the spirit of lawlessness in our towns and cities, where there have grown up crowds of idle hoodlums, where there is an increasing population who
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break out into reckless violence at times of strikes and lockouts...
"Lynch law as we have lately seen it is a defiance of all moral order, a denial of free civil government, a crime against the life of the State itself. Considering society as an organism, the extensive prevalence of the luxury, artificiality and materialism of our life, the get-rich-quick craze, alcoholism, the drug habit, cigarette slavery, the social vice, and disease, all tending to weaken the brain tissue, to destroy moral fibre and to bring on not only neurosis, but insane or semi-insane neurosis."--New York Times.
* * *
We prefer now and again to quote expressions like the foregoing from men of national repute rather than make the same statements ourself. Were it our statement many would claim that we were pessimistic, --that we saw the world through spectacles colored by our understanding of the teachings of the Scriptures. But how well the facts do correspond to the predictions of the Bible respecting the characteristics of nominal Christendom of our day! The fulfilment is marked-- remarkable:
"Men shall be lovers of their own selves, money-lovers, boasters, proud, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, trucebreakers, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof."--`2 Tim. 3:2-5`.
THE GOLD IN THE VATICAN.
The gold contained in the medals, vessels, chains and other objects preserved in the Vatican would make more gold money than the whole of the present European circulation.--Pittsburg Dispatch.
* * *
If true, is not the Vatican, as well as the demonetizing of silver, responsible for much of the financial stringency? And may not this have an important bearing on the fate in store for Papacy?--`Rev. 18:21`.
FOR ORGANIC CHURCH UNION.
Should the Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists of Canada unite to form one Church? That was the subject of an informal conference of representative ministers and laymen of those churches held in this city (Toronto, Canada) yesterday. The answer to the question, according to the sentiment and resolution of the conference, was affirmative, and the question of organic union of these three denominations will in consequence be raised in a more formal way and with practical ends in view.
Dr. Carman explained that this conference was both informal and unofficial. He reviewed the history of the present movement, touching upon the efforts in the direction of union previously made, the action of the last General Conference of the Methodist Church at Winnipeg in approving with confidence and hope of an effort looking to the cooperation and organic union of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational denominations, and the action of both Presbyterians and Congregationalists along the same lines. Committees had been appointed to correspond and confer on the question of such union and to report to their respective Church courts. Yesterday's informal conference was merely introductory to the formal meeting of those denominational committees.
Dr. Carman further expressed his own personal sympathy with the movement and his confident belief that such a union is not only possible but necessary, if the pressing religious needs of Canada are to be met. He presented the attitude of the Methodist Church, and, despite the difficulties, urged wise, progressive, confident action.
Dr. Warden, convener of the Presbyterian Home Mission Committee, was even more hopeful of organic union than was Dr. Carman, and instanced the experiences of the union of the various branches of Presbyterianism and of Methodism in Canada in support of it.
Dr. Sutherland, Missionary Secretary of the Methodist Church, corroborated Dr. Warden's testimony as to the good effects of the action taken last year looking to cooperation in Western Canada, and indicated the necessity for union and marked the increasing conditions favorable to it.
Mr. O'Hara, President of the Congregational Union, was heart and soul in favor of such a union as would conserve the best in doctrine, polity and life in the three denominations, secure reasonable liberty for individual peculiarities and preferences, and guard against the waste of overlapping and competition.
Rev. J. W. Pedley saw in the movements of recent years the way being prepared for the larger Church unions. Theological controversies are of the past.
Said Chancellor Burwash: "It would be the fulfilment of my life-dream, the answer to my life-prayer, to see these three Churches one in organization as well as in spirit. And the barriers are breaking down. There is no insurmountable obstacle either in the theology or in the organization of the denominations.
Dr. Cleaver read a letter from Rev. Dr. Rose of Hamilton, in which he confessed himself to be an out and out unionist, and declared that the continued separate and competing existence of the three Churches named had ceased to be regrettable, and had become criminal. Dr. Cleaver expressed sympathy with those sentiments and urged action. He believed the people would become enthusiastic if the ministers were in earnest and would lead the way.
The conference passed a resolution favorable to the calling of the several denominational committees by their respective conveners, after which a joint meeting for the more formal discussion of the questions involved will probably be held and such steps be taken as further conference may warrant. Dr. Carman, Dr. Warden and Mr. O'Hara were appointed a committee to arrange for any further conference meetings.--Toronto Globe.
PRESBYTERIANS PROPOSE UNION.
St. Louis, Feb. 19.--After three days' conferences the Committee on Church Cooperation and Union of the Presbyterian churches of the United States and the Committee on Fraternity and Union of the Cumberland
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Presbyterian Church unanimously adopted an agreement as a basis of the union of the two churches. It is in the shape of a report to the general assemblies, and will have to be ratified by both before it becomes operative. Both general assemblies meet May 19, the Presbyterian branch at Buffalo, and the Cumberland branch at Dallas, Tex.
This action of these committees will make the Presbyterian church national in character with a membership of 1,250,000.
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JOSHUA'S LONG DAY.
HERE is another suggestion respecting the so-called "long day" of Joshua,--namely, that it was a dark day, notable for its manifestations of divine power against Israel's enemies. We quote as follows:--
"I have read that Adam Clarke, the commentator, wrote that Joshua's 'sun standing still' had 'kept him going' three weeks. Of course he had other work in those weeks besides writing his commentary; but it has been a passage which has received much attention, and yet the explanation of it is very simple.
"Our English word 'sun' has more than one meaning. We speak of 'sitting in the sun,' which does not mean in the orb around which the planets revolve, but in the sunshine; and probably we oftener use the word 'sun' for sunshine than for the orb itself.
"Our English word 'stand' also has several shades of meaning, and one of them is 'to remain'; and 'still' sometimes means 'silent.' These words are given in `Joshua 10:12-14` as the equivalents of the Hebrew words of Joshua, and they may be understood in a sense agreeing with the Hebrew; or they may be, and generally are, taken in a sense which contradicts the words of Joshua and actually convey a meaning the very opposite of that of the inspired record, as interpreted by common sense.
"The Hebrew, though a language of very few words, has two words for sun: chammah and shemesh; this in Joshua is shemesh, 'the servant of the sun,' that is, sunshine, the sun's rays. There are also two words for moon: levonoh and yareach; and this in Joshua is yareach, 'the scent of the moon,' the moonlight. In `Deut. 33:14`, we read: 'For the precious fruits brought forth by the shemesh, sun'; not the body of the sun, millions of miles distant, but the light and influence sent forth by that body; 'and for the precious things put forth by the yareach, moon'; not the orb, but its shining; (indeed the word is plural here, 'moons').
"Now, what concerned Joshua, and what is spoken of, was not the two bodies called sun and moon, it was simply light, sunlight, or, more properly, direct sunshine, and moonlight. So we say, for example, 'The moon's on the lake.'
"A 'dark moon' would not have concerned Joshua in the least, therefore the moon was not then near its 'change'; in other words that day was not when sun and moon were near 'conjunction,' as astronomers call new moon; so Professor Totten cannot locate this miracle on a day when there would have been 'no moon.'
"Now we had better turn to the chapter, `Joshua 10th`, and read the history; and perhaps you have a map of Canaan also, which you can look at. There seem to have been several 'Gilgals.' The word means 'circle,' and places were so called where circles of memorial stones were set up (`Joshua 4:20`); but there is no proof given that Joshua's headquarters were not still at the Gilgal between the Jordan and Jericho.
"Joshua and all the mighty men of valor 'went up from Gilgal all night' (`v. 8`), to the relief of Gibeon, which was besieged by the five kings of the Amorites (or hillside men); the Gibeonites having beguiled Israel into making a league with them. Now what happened?
"'And the Lord discomfited them'--mark this, and do not give the credit to Joshua when it reads, 'Jehovah doth crush them before Israel.' (--Young.) 'Jehovah rageth at them [or, 'useth violence upon them'] before [literally, to the face of] Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter.'
"Before an Israelite sword was drawn, while yet the two armies were apart, 'The Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them, unto Azekah, and they died; there were more which died with hail stones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.' The words rendered 'hail stones' signify 'stones of congelation;' probably they were not meteoric stones, but great hail of frozen water. Such hail, 'every stone about the weight of a talent,' is spoken of in `Rev. 16:21`; and the smallest Greek talent was fifty-seven pounds, avoirdupois weight. See also `Job 38:22`; `Rev. 8:7`; `11:19`.
"The artillery of heaven turned upon the Amorite host, probably while drawn up in order of battle to meet the attack of Joshua's men, and certainly before the two armies had met and mingled in hand-to-hand combat with swords, else the Israelites must have suffered from the great hail equally with the Amorites.
"The formation and discharge of such hail implies a dense, dark cloud, and much electrical disturbance. Thunder and lightning would not be absent. The Amorites, having known of the dividing of the Jordan and the falling of the walls of Jericho, now perceived that the God of Israel was fighting against them; and they fled in terror at the blackness of the heavens above them, and from the slaughtering hail. What does Joshua now wish for? is it that the darkness may pass away, the sun shine forth bright and clear, ending the terror of the panic-stricken fugitives, and perchance giving them opportunity to rally and make a stand and fight?
"No such thing! He desired the darkness and terror to continue. 'Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: "Shemesh, be-Gibeon dum."' That word DUM is the identical word which we spell 'dumb;' the margin informs us that the Hebrew means 'be silent.' We apply it to not giving forth sound; the Hebrew with its much fewer words applies them to things analogous. Here it is used for not giving forth light. We use the same word with this application, but then we spell it 'dim.' The Hebrew DUM is the origin of both our 'dumb' and 'dim.' Observe, we are not speculating on what Joshua meant, we are giving the very words of Joshua; and what he said was 'Sun [or sunlight] in Gibeon be dumb [or dim]. He called not for light, but for darkness; and the Amorite host was broken by Jehovah before Joshua called for a continuation of the gloom to continue their panic, and enable him to annihilate their cowed and fleeing remnants.
"'Sun in Gibeon.' This preposition, be, is the first letter of the Bible--'In the beginning.' It has some latitude
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of meaning: 'in, at, to, by,' etc., but it does not mean 'over,' or 'on the meridian of Gibeon;' another preposition would have to be used to express that. This prepositional prefix is just our English prefix 'be,'--used in 'be-fore'--in the front; 'be-hind'--in the rear; 'be-low;' 'be-side,' etc. We can thus easily see what it means. The position of the orb of the sun in distant space--although it is on the meridian of Gibeon at noon there, every day in the year--is not, and cannot be denoted by Joshua's words; and the sun never was in the zenith at Gibeon or any other place outside of the tropics, since the earth had its present position. But let us go on.
"We-yareach be-emeg, Ajalon--'And the moon [or moonlight] in the valley of Ajalon.' Here is the be, 'in,' again. The shining of the moon has been in that valley, but the orb itself, never.
"'And the sun stood still': literally, 'And DUM is the sun.' Not a word of the orb pausing in its apparent course. 'The sun stood still [that is, remained silent, dumb, dim], and the moon stayed [amad, stood, continued, "dim" as it was] until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.'
"If we bear in mind that the Canaanites worshiped the sun and moon, we will see more force in this incident. Had Jehovah's cloud passed away and the sun shone out bright and clear, they would have been likely to think that their god Baal (who was associated with the sun) had vanquished Jehovah in the heavens, and would assist them to vanquish Jehovah's people; and their leaders would not have failed to attempt to rally them by appealing to them to see how the sun-god had scattered Jehovah's cloud and silenced his artillery. What Joshua asked for was not a bright day nor a long day, but for a continuation of the darkness and gloom which had terrified the Amorites.
"So the sun stood still [amad, stayed, as it was] in the midst of heaven, and hasted not [literally, 'pressed not'--the sunshine did not press through the pall of cloud] to go down [bo, literally meaning either 'to go,' or 'to come,' or 'to come in,' 'to arrive'--there is no word here for 'down'] about [literally, as] a whole day.' The sunshine, usually so bright in Syria, did not pierce through the clouds all that day.
"I see not a word here, or elsewhere, of the day being
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lengthened. The battle began at Gibeon and by the grape-shot of Jehovah's hail the Amorite army was soon routed; up to Upper Beth-Horon they fled, the hail continuing upon them and driving them over the crest of land down to the Lower Beth-Horon, and on in a distracted, huddling mass down to the bottom of the descent in the valley of Ajalon: that is, those of them who could get so far. This remnant of them were as it were in a trap; and if the darkness might last for the day and the coming night, and no shining of sun or moon give heart to them to rally and fight their way out, Joshua thought he might finish his work and cut them to pieces to the last man. The command was, 'Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.'--`Deut. 20:16`.
"That is what the Book says. The versions may be twisted to say that the central body of the solar system ceased its motion; or ceased to emit that electric or other influence which causes the earth to rotate on its axis, so that the fact of the case was that it was the earth which stopped, and this caused the sun to appear stationary.
"But, supposing that it is an influence from the sun which causes the earth's daily rotation upon its axis, were that power withdrawn, the earth would spin on till it gradually slowed down, and such a slowing down would not at all meet the requirements of the case. And an instant and forcible stoppage would have given a tremendous jar to everything. What a jerk it gives when a car stops suddenly; everything is thrown forward. Suppose an express train running fifty miles an hour is suddenly checked by some obstacle, as in a collision; the passengers will be violently pitched to the forward end of the cars; but the earth's rotation is twenty times the velocity of an express train, and such a stoppage is not supposable or reconcilable with the narrative.
"The fact is, there was no 'long day' there; and all figuring as to when it was, or when it was not, is a waste of time.
"There was indeed a day when the five Amorite kings were defeated; 'And there was no day like that before it or after it,'--for its length? no--'that the LORD hearkened to the voice of a man: FOR THE LORD FOUGHT for Israel.'
"`Hab. 3:11` may be thought to sanction the idea of the stoppage of the sun in Joshua's day; but see the R.V. The shining of the sun and moon are poetically represented as standing abashed,--
"'At the light of thine arrows as they went,
At the shining of thy glittering spear.'
"And it is not historic but prophetic."--A. Armour.
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A VISION OF COMING GLORY.
--`MARK 9:2-13`.--APRIL 17.--
Golden Text:--"A voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him."
SIX DAYS after Peter's confession that Jesus was the Messiah, and after our Lord had explained to the apostles that instead of immediate honor and glory in the world he would meet with contempt, persecution and death, and that the conditions of discipleship were willingness to suffer with him and joy in proclaiming his message, Jesus took the three leaders of the apostles, Peter, James and John, up to a high mountain--presumed to be Mt. Hermon. Luke tells us that he went there to pray, and we may reasonably suppose that the three apostles joined with him in prayer. This little prayer meeting, small in number, and the glorious result or answer to the prayers --the vision of coming glory in the Kingdom--may well be accepted as an encouragement to us all, and stimulate us to a remembrance of the Lord's injunction that we watch and pray lest we enter into temptation, and that where two or three are met in his name he will meet with them, which will insure a blessing. Frequently the blessings received are mental visions of the glorious things which the Lord hath in reservation for those who love him.
Luke says that it was while they prayed that our Lord's features and garments were transfigured: Matthew
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says that his face shone like the sun. Two others appeared on the scene, Moses and Elias, of radiant appearance, though evidently less so than our Lord. It was a vision: our Lord was not actually changed to spirit conditions until after his resurrection from the dead, but now by a miraculous power he appeared so transformed--transfigured. Moses and Elias (Hebrew, Elijah) were not actually present on the mount, for their resurrection had not yet taken place, and, as the Apostle very clearly points out, it will not take place until after the resurrection and change of the Church, the body of Christ. His words are, "They without us shall not be made perfect."--`Heb. 11:40`.
We have two testimonies to the effect that this entire matter was a vision, after the same kind that John had on the Isle of Patmos, recorded in the Book of Revelation. As John saw horses, beasts, angels, men, and heard them talking, and talked himself, so in this vision the Apostle heard conversation going on about the Lord and those who appeared with him in the vision, and the words were in reference to our Lord's death at Jerusalem, of which he had already informed them six days previously. The circumstances all corroborated the thought that it was a vision; but we are not left to circumstantial evidence, for we have our Lord's plain statement to this effect. As he came down the mountain side with the three apostles, he charged them straitly, saying, "Tell the vision to no man until the Son of man be risen from the dead."--`Matt. 17:9`.
PICTURING GLORY TO FOLLOW.
The Apostle Peter, one of the three who saw the vision, refers to it in his epistle, saying, "We have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount."--`2 Pet. 1:16-18`.
What was the object of this vision? We answer that it was to establish the faith of the apostles. The Lord took the three who saw the vision from amongst the strongest of the number, and that it did make a deep impression is evidenced by Peter's reference already quoted. It was a heart lesson for them to learn --that Jesus, the Messiah, the great King, who was to rule and to bless Israel and through Israel the world, and who was to establish them with him as associates and joint-heirs in the Kingdom, was about to die and apparently thus to frustrate all their hopes, and about to disprove his own claims of Messiahship. The time that elapsed between the breaking of the news to them and the vision, six days after, was just about enough to permit them to discuss matters and digest the meaning of our Lord's words. Then came the vision on the mount which corroborated our Lord's testimony in both respects--the conversation of the vision corroborating his statement that he would suffer a martyr's death at Jerusalem; and the glorious vision itself, as well as the words from heaven, indicated that our Lord was indeed what he claimed to be--that they were safe in accepting him as the Messiah, that they were not being deluded by "cunning fables." The vision evidently answered its divine purpose.
"THY KINGDOM COME."
The vision itself represented the Lord's Kingdom: Moses was the representative of the Jewish dispensation, the house of servants, as in a previous lesson Elijah was shown to represent the Gospel Church in the flesh. There was glory and honor attached to the Jewish dispensation and to the Gospel dispensation, but a still greater glory was manifested in the presence of Jesus, who represented the Millennial dispensation and the divine Kingdom in glory, which shall indeed bless the whole world. Not many heard, understood, appreciated, obeyed, or sought to obey the Law given by Moses. Not many have heard, understood or obeyed, or even sought to obey the Gospel invitation; but when the glorious Millennial age shall come, when "the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, all flesh shall see it together." (`Isa. 40:5`.) In his day the righteous shall flourish and all the families of the earth shall be blessed. In that day it shall be the will of God that all shall hear the voice of the Son of man, as expressed in the vision, "This is my beloved Son: hear ye him." Thank God, we can look forward to such a glorious time and anticipate with confidence such a glorious consummation of the ages. Thank God, also, that as those who have heard and obeyed during this Gospel age, we are privileged to be the members of this glorious one whom the world will soon hear and by whom it will soon be blessed and every creature be granted an opportunity for the attainment of life everlasting.
The vision vanished as suddenly as it appeared, as John's visions vanished and changed from time to time. One account says that the apostles were heavy with sleep, and yet the vision seems not to have been a dream, but rather, as already stated, of the kind given to John on Patmos. The vision had a great lesson for the apostles, and as they followed Jesus down the mountain side to rejoin the waiting remainder of their number, they questioned one another respecting the rising from the dead, and what that signified. Our Lord had already mentioned to them that after he had been dead three days he should rise again, and now in the vision this had been repeated. It was evidently the divine intention
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to impress the matter of the resurrection upon their minds. Nevertheless, when the resurrection of our Lord did take place on the third day, we perceive that it was with great difficulty still that they comprehended the situation. How great would have been their difficulty had it not been for this previous instruction of our Lord and through the vision!
"HE KNOWETH OUR FRAME."
One lesson to us in this connection is that divine wisdom notes our weaknesses and needs and in advance makes full and thorough preparation for them. How comforting it is to us that the same Lord who then so carefully supervised the interests of the faithful ones, is the same yesterday, today and forever, and is equally caring for us now. This thought is brought out in the `ninety-first Psalm`, "He will give his angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." There will be no danger of the stumbling of the feet members so long as we abide faithful to the Lord. His care will be over us and we will continue to be recognized as his members, and, as such, no provision for our interests will be neglected.
The apostles were gradually getting the thought that the Kingdom was to be deferred, and that the King and his associates in the Kingdom were to be of a higher order than the humanity they would rule and bless and uplift. They were seeing distinctly, too, that Jesus was the Messiah, and this led them to ask of the Lord whether or not the Doctors of the Law were correct in saying that the Scriptures taught that Elijah would come before the Messiah. The Lord corroborated the teaching of the scribes that Elijah must first put in an appearance for the purpose of restoring all things--for the purpose of making ready the world for the Kingdom. But the Lord pointed out that John the Baptist had served in a sense as Elijah to those who received him as the Messiah, and that instead of accomplishing a work of restoration, John as the antitype of Elijah had been slain, and that likewise Jesus himself would suffer.
Our Lord did not go on to explain to them how he and they and all of the faithful of the Church would, while in the flesh, represent the higher antitypical Elijah, and, as the Gospel Church, would endeavor to do a restorative work preparatory to the Second Advent, but without success; and that hence the inauguration of the Kingdom at the Second Advent will not be peaceable, as of happy subjects receiving a glorious kingdom, but forceful, as of a King taking possession of a realm in disobedience, in rebellion, who by force will subdue all things unto himself and reign until he shall put all enemies into subjection, the last enemy being death. It was not yet due time for the disciples to understand that from the human standpoint it would be a long period between the suffering of the Head of the body and the suffering of the last members of the body, though this same period, from the divine standpoint of a thousand years being but as yesterday, would, as Scripturally referred to, "shortly come to pass." This was one of the many things that the Lord had to tell them which they could not bear then, but which the holy Spirit has brought to light in due time through the words of Jesus and the Apostles and the prophets. --`John 16:12,13`.
Let us accept the Golden Text as the very essence of this lesson, and apply it each to himself. Let us each learn to listen particularly for the heavenly direction. Let us remember that we are to hear the Lord and his chosen mouthpieces rather than to follow our own imaginations or the imaginations of other uninspired men. We may accept assistance from any one able to give it, but we are to scrutinize every helping hand and every voice to know that it is of the Lord and leads us to him and is in accord with his instructions. "My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me. A stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of a stranger."--`John 10:5`.
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"HE THAT HEARETH YOU HEARETH ME."
--`LUKE 10:1-16`.--APRIL 24.--
Golden Text:--"Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest."
THE HARVEST work during the three and a half years of our Lord's ministry seems to have been crowded chiefly into the last nine months of that period. We have followed the course of the gradual unfoldment of the Truth, then due, and now, about five months before our Lord's crucifixion, we take note of his statement that the fields were white for harvesting, and the laborers few. The first verse of our lesson records the sending forth of the seventy men, two by two, as advance missionaries to proclaim the Kingdom of God near at hand, and thus to prepare the people for the later arrival of Jesus in the various cities of Israel east of the Jordan.
These seventy were not apostles in the special sense. They were additional to the twelve apostles--they were evangelists; they had not as large experience with the Master and his teachings, nor so important a work to do as that assigned to the twelve. Nevertheless, any service to the Lord is an important service, and to the extent that they did the Lord's will they represented him. They were undoubtedly a part of the "five hundred brethren" mentioned
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by the Apostle as having seen our Lord after his resurrection. (`I Cor. 15:6`.) As the twelve apostles corresponded to the twelve tribes of Israel, so the seventy evangelists corresponded to the seventy elders of Israel appointed by Moses in the wilderness and afterward represented in the Jewish Sanhedrin, which numbered seventy.
As the seventy elders appointed by Moses, and their successors, the Sanhedrin, were the elders of Israel, so in a general way these seventy whom the Lord sent forth in the end of the Jewish age represented all the leaders or elders amongst his people today. Elsewhere we have shown what are the present duties and responsibilities of elders as respects the Lord's flock;* and have also shown how at the present time these are chosen or set apart under the Lord's direction where his guidance is sought and the instructions of his Word followed. We have also shown that in a general way all of the people are fully commissioned in the same sense or degree to speak officially or as the mouthpieces of his body. To the extent of their abilities and time-given opportunities all are privileged to tell the good tidings of great joy to all who may have the ear to hear. But special blessing and special privileges in connection with the service of the Truth attach to those who in any particular manner are selected through the Lord's instrumentality for the service of the Truth--either as chosen elders of local companies of the Lord's people or as chosen pilgrims or accepted colporteurs. Each may serve according to opportunities and the divine blessing.
THE JEWISH HARVEST AND OURS.
We see that the Lord designated the end of the Jewish age as the "harvest" time, for the reaping of the wheat of that people and the gathering of them into the garner of the Gospel dispensation, and for the rejection and symbolical burning of the chaff of that people in the great time of trouble which came upon them gradually after the rejection of Messiah, and was fully accomplished in the destruction of their nation in A.D. 70. We are specially interested in everything connected with that harvest time after learning that it was a figure or type or foreshadowing of the harvest time in the end of this Gospel age--the harvest in the midst of which we now find ourselves. Our Lord called attention to these harvest conditions at the same time that he sent forth the laborers, possibly indeed before commissioning them. Sympathizingly he drew the attention of the believers of that time to the ripeness of the conditions around them, and urged them to pray to the Lord for laborers to assist in garnering the true wheat.
Apparently it was those who prayed to the Lord and felt an earnest desire for the prosperity of the Lord's work, and the finding of the Israelites indeed who consecrated themselves to this service, this evangelistic ministry. But no matter whether they were taught first and prayed first and gave themselves to the work afterward, or whether they gave themselves first to the work and prayed afterward--the praying and engagement in the service were associated in the Lord's mind and evidently in the minds of those who participated in that harvest work. And so it is today. As we look all about us we see nominal Christendom like a great wheat field, ripe and ready for the reaping. The true children of God greatly need the message which would gather them to the Lord
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. VI., chap. 6.
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out of all sectarian bondage, and all who have the Lord's Spirit feel drawn to render the assistance necessary, at any cost of personal inconvenience, etc.
As we think of our dear friends groping in darkness and stumbling into Higher Criticism, Infidelity, Evolution theories, Theosophy, New Thought, Christian Science, etc., etc., we cry out to the Lord for more laborers for the vineyard, knowing that he delights to see us thus interested in the work he is carrying forward. In response he is pleased to send a full company of laborers, represented by the seventy of our lesson. We may be sure that those who are most earnestly sympathetic and most earnestly praying are those who are most earnestly laboring in this harvest--whether they are permitted to labor in a public manner or are restricted to more private means of personal conversation, tract distribution and mail correspondence, whether they have the larger opportunities of the volunteer work on a systematic scale, or whether they have the still larger opportunities of the colporteur service or pilgrim work, etc.
"HOW SHALL THEY PREACH EXCEPT THEY BE SENT?"
Our Lord intimated that it would be a great honor for any to be sent forth, and intimated also that none could engage in the service unless they were sent forth by him--the Lord of the harvest. We are not then to consider that any and everybody may engage in this work today any more than in the harvest of the Jewish age. We are to pray for the privilege and opportunity of service, and when it comes to us are to seize it and use it with zeal, as appreciating the privilege of being co-workers together with the Lord in the greatest and grandest work imaginable. There is a distinctly drawn line as to who are privileged to engage in this work. The harvesters acceptable to the Lord can surely be none others than those who are fully consecrated to him and accepted as members of the body of Christ. If others engage we cannot expect for them the success and blessing that we are authorized to expect for such as the Lord sends forth. In harmony with this suggestion we find that unbelievers, book agents and book stores are not successful in handling our publications. The blessing seems to go only with those who are consecrated to the Lord and with those of their families who are pleased to cooperate with them in this harvest under their direction.
AS LAMBS AMONG WOLVES.
Our Lord's illustration, that his representatives sent forth would be as lambs among wolves, seems a very strong and almost overdrawn statement of the case until
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we get the proper standpoint of observation. Those represented as wolves were Jews, Israelites, nominally God's favored people for centuries--the natural heirs of the Abrahamic covenant and promises. They were the people who according to the flesh were the Lord's sheep, as represented in the `twenty-third Psalm`, "The Lord is my Shepherd." Yet how grievously they had lost as a whole the proper sheeplike characteristics is clearly indicated by our Lord's words likening them to wolves. The sheep is an innocent and almost a helpless creature, harmless; the wolf is ravenous, destructive, selfish. Doubtless, our Lord's words seemed harsh even to his disciples, who, accustomed to the selfishness of the world, failed to see it from the same standpoint as viewed by our Lord, who was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, in the most absolute sense and degree. Our Lord, however, "knew what was in man" and judged not by the outward appearances. What, therefore, might have been an uncharitable judgment and saying on the part of the apostles was not so on our Lord's part. His own experiences less than six months afterward, and the experiences of his faithful disciples, all attested the wisdom and justice of the term "wolves" as applied to the self-righteous, Sabbath-keeping, street-corner praying, tithe-giving scribes and Pharisees, who had the form of godliness but not the power of it in their hearts and lives.
Continuing to draw lessons from the Jewish harvest and to apply them in this harvest, we begin to realize that nominal Christendom of today is likewise wolflike rather than lamblike, and that those who receive the Lord's message and go forth in his name now are similarly as lambs amongst wolves. The Apostle draws a picture, not of the heathen world, but of the nominal Christian Church of today, when writing to Timothy he prophetically described the conditions in the end of this age. His words are, "In the last days perilous times shall come." "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but having itching ears will gather to themselves teachers after their own desires; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."--`2 Tim. 3:1-5`; `4:3,4`.
A GREAT WORK SOON DUE.
As the principal part of the Lord's work at the first advent was crowded into the closing six months, so we anticipate that the principal work of the present harvest will be crowded into the last six years. Already we see evidences that the work of harvest here is broadening. Many more have the hearing ear for the Truth than had it a short time ago, and many more are praying for the outcome of the harvest and cooperating with their prayers by presenting themselves, all of their opportunities and talents available, to the Lord's service in the various departments of the work. It should not surprise us, therefore, if in the closing six years the evidences would be far stronger than ever before of the wolfish disposition of many who have a form of godliness and outwardly claim to be the Lord's sheep. Should the sheep suffer at their hands, we may be sure that it will not be permitted until the due time. It will not be permitted to interfere with the harvest work, and none can be seriously molested except by the permission of the great Chief Reaper, and until his time shall be fully come. All such trained in the school of Christ will be ready, we trust, to say as did the Master at the close of his career--"The cup which the Father hath poured me, shall I not drink it?"--and rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer for the name and for the cause we love.
"THIS ONE THING I DO."
The seventy were sent out without baggage. They took no changes of clothing, they wore only sandals, and took no house shoes or slippers; their journey was to be quickly made and all attention was to be given to their missionary duties; they were not to attempt to make themselves specially comfortable. It was the custom of the time to entertain travelers, and especially such as had a religious mission, prophets, etc.; and these evangelists were not to take up any collections, and hence were to take no pocket-books with them. They were to ask nothing for their services, but wherever they went they were to heal the sick, cast out devils, and proclaim their mission to the people as heralds of Jesus, declaring to them that the Kingdom of God was near at hand, soon to be established. The command to salute no man by the way did not signify that they might not say "Good morning," but that they were not to follow the custom of their time of stopping by the way to discuss whatever matter of news might be carried from one village to another. They were not news-gatherers, nor news heralds, but the heralds of the Lord, ambassadors of the Kingdom, and were to give their time and attention specially to that one service.
We might draw a parallel between these representatives of the Truth in the end of the Jewish age, and similar ministers of the Truth in the present harvest time. We might note that the Pilgrim brothers go from place to place, taking up no collections, engaging in no other business, and declaring the same message--that the Kingdom of God is near at hand. We might note the same in regard to the colporteurs: they, too, have the one mission, and while their message is delivered through the printed page, it is the very same message--the King, the Kingdom, are at the door. And although the message is sold for a price that price is no more than the seventy received as they went from place to place. Neither do these laborers lay up treasures on earth, but are content merely to meet their daily expenses, and glad that thus doing they can feel that they are giving more than material value for every penny that they receive, besides the incalculable spiritual blessings which will go with the matter they are circulating to those who
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have the ears to hear and the hearts to appreciate the tidings of the Kingdom. The volunteers who scatter the tract matter in every city and village similarly are bearing the message that the King is at the door, and similarly are laboring without remuneration, and similarly are content with such things as they have and are not seeking for earthly reward. The spirit of the work now going on and that which was carried on in the close of our Lord's ministry have a noticeable correspondence.
BLESSED THE PEACEMAKERS--CHILDREN OF GOD.
Each laborer in the present harvest should note well the Lord's instruction in `verses five and six`. Wherever the Lord's representatives go peace should go, not strife, confusion, turmoil, quarreling. True, the Truth will prove to be a sword that will arouse opposition, yet it should be the Truth that causes the opposition and division and not any rudeness or unkindness of word or action on the part of the Lord's representatives. There are plenty of things to aggravate mankind in this our busy day, and all who have received the Truth should receive also its spirit, "speaking peace through Jesus Christ." The "peace of God which passeth all understanding" should have control of each one who would represent the Lord and his message, that a hallowing influence should
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go with each, especially in every service and word spoken in the name of the Prince of Peace. The true character of his people is described by our Lord: they who would be properly termed the children of God should be peacemakers and not peace disturbers. "So far as lieth in you live peaceably with all men." It is not possible to live peaceably with all and yet be true to principles, but the interest of peace should be conserved in any and every proper way by the Lord's representatives.
According to the customs of our day it might be considered extreme if we were to apply the Lord's words literally and say "Peace to this house," before entering; and so also it would be considered extreme today if, not being welcomed, we were to stamp the dust from our shoes in departing from the house. However, the spirit of both these matters should be with us. On entering any house our thought should be to do good, to carry blessing, to exercise a favorable influence for peace, joy and blessing to those within; and if we, as the Lord's ministers, were rebuffed and disdained, not wanted, we should be careful not to intrude ourselves further, and, in that figurative sense of the word, we should wipe off the very dust.
"If a son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him." If at any place we find one having the same spirit of the Lord, desirous of knowing and doing the Lord's will, we should rejoice to meet him as a brother and communicate to him the harvest message as he might have ears to hear it, and thus a blessing would be his; otherwise we should not remain. The Lord's people should never intrude themselves further than to make known briefly their message and work. If these be properly presented and meet with no response, the Lord would not have us violate the proprieties of courtesy by imposing ourselves or our teachings upon those who are unappreciative. Our Lord set us a good example in this matter.
BEGGING FOR THE LORD NOT AUTHORIZED.
The disciples were not to go from house to house as beggars, to get a meal here and a lodging there but were to expect that if the Lord had guided them providentially to those who had received them, the Lord meant to give their hosts through them a blessing proportionate to the cost of their brief entertainment. They were not to consider these hospitalities in the light of alms, for as the Lord's representatives they were there to confer blessings more than they would receive, and as common laborers even the service they rendered should be worth at least their keep. This principle was to apply not only to a house but to a city. They were not to be fastidious, but to accept such hospitalities as were proffered them; and if this meant no hospitality, they were to leave the city and go to one that would receive them and their message more cordially.
`Verse 9` might at first appear to be a special message applicable in the Jewish harvest yet not applicable to the Gospel harvest; but not so. There is spiritual as well as physical sickness, and the Lord's ambassadors of today should consider it to be their mission, their business, to open blind eyes and unstop deaf ears, and generally heal the sick in a spiritual way with the balm of Gilead, the good tidings of great joy now due to be understood. Moreover, it is our privilege now as it was their privilege then to declare, "The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." This announcement has not been a proper one all down through the age but merely in the ends or harvests of the two ages. After our Lord's death and resurrection the apostles no longer preached, "The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." On the contrary, they declared that the Kingdom of God, which had been offered to Israel, had passed away from them now to be given to a spiritual Israel which should be selected from all the peoples and kindreds and nations. But now we have come to the end of this period of selecting spiritual Israel, and in the harvest time of this age the proclamation again goes forth, Behold, the King is at the door, the Kingdom is at hand, and the wise virgins are preparing and will enter into the marriage, as the Lord represented in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. (`Matt. 25:1-12`.) It is still true that in some places the Lord's representatives will be unkindly received no matter how wisely and kindly they seek to proclaim their message, and they should heed this same injunction.
A MERE "FORM OF GODLINESS" WORSE THAN NONE.
Then the Lord calls the attention of his disciples to the cities in which his principal works were done, Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, declaring that if the same works had been done in the heathen cities of Tyre and Sidon, or even in the city of Sodom, which was destroyed in Abraham's day, such works as he did would
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have been sufficient to have aroused the heathen inhabitants of those cities to repentance and seeking the Lord's favor. He then points out that when the great judgment day shall come it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and more tolerable for Sidon and more tolerable for Sodom than for those who had received favor in so large a measure and yet were not moved to repentance and obedience. These words suggest several important thoughts.
(1) Why was it that these Jewish cities, so long under divine instruction through the Law and the prophets, should be more dull, less ready to hear the good tidings than the heathen? We can only account for it on the general lines suggested by the Apostle when he declared that all the knowledge any of us may receive is either a savor of life unto life or a savor of death unto death--either affects us favorably to draw us into accord with the Lord and the principles of righteousness, or unfavorably, so as to alienate us the more from him. This is a general principle, and we can readily see that the Truth coming to the fallen man under present conditions would to the few work a great blessing, and to the many would in a measure result in hardening of heart.
(2) We say to ourselves, What is to be the fate of the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum in the day of judgment, in the Millennium? We see that, so far as the present life is concerned, they have shared the same fate as the cities--all of the six cities mentioned are utterly destroyed and their inhabitants are all totally dead. Will those people have an awakening in the future--will they arise from the dead? Our Lord answers the question, saying, "All that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and come forth." Well, then, we ask, for what will they be brought forth? Our Lord answers that their coming forth will be in that day--the Millennial day, the day of the world's judgment, the thousand years of Messiah's reign--when Satan will be bound and when, as the seed of Abraham, Christ and the Church will reign as Kings and Priests to bless all the families of the earth.--`Rev. 5:10`.
"MORE TOLERABLE FOR SODOM."
Our Lord's declaration is that it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for the cities of Galilee in that Millennial time. What can this mean? It means that under that blessed arrangement conditions will be favorable or tolerable even for those people who witnessed the Lord's miracles and yet were not moved by them to repentance and discipleship; and it will be still more tolerable for the heathen peoples of Tyre and Sidon--yes, for the degraded ones of Sodom, who never heard of the grace of God, who never tasted of the divine favors, or witnessed divine healings, or had opportunities of being taught of the Lord, or being accepted as disciples of Christ.
The Apostle tells us that as soon as this Gospel age is completed, the Lord's favor will turn again to natural Israel, and that as a result blindness shall be turned away from them--Israel shall be saved from their blindness. (`Rom. 11:25,26`.) He goes on to explain that this will not be for anything of merit on their part, but because of the Lord's mercy, compassion, forgiveness through Christ. The prophet takes up the matter at the same point and declares that Israel shall look upon him whom they have pierced and shall all mourn because of him, and that the Lord will pour upon them the spirit of prayer and of supplication in connection with that mourning. Thus the blessing shall come again to those who rejected the Lord and crucified him, and with eyes opened still wider under the favorable conditions of the Millennial age, under the wise administration of the Lord himself as the great King over all the earth in that day, and with the influences of Satan bound and restrained that he may deceive the nations no more by "putting light for darkness and darkness for light," the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum shall have a further blessing, though a somewhat different kind from that which they rejected. They rejected the privilege of becoming disciples and joint-heirs in the Kingdom. That will never be offered to them again, because when next divine favor is exercised toward them it will be with the privileges of restitution to human nature --to that which was lost in Adam and redeemed by the death of the one whom they crucified.
"THUS IT IS WRITTEN."
The Lord through the Prophet `Ezekiel (16:48-60`) tells us particularly about the Sodomites, explaining the reason why they and their city were blotted out, and explaining also why the Israelites were rejected from his favor; but further explaining that when he shall have compassion upon Israel for the fathers' sake, and, according to his promise, bring them back again to their own land and to greater privileges under the Millennial Kingdom, then also he will have compassion upon the people of Sodom and recover them also to their former estate, to all that was lost,
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to restitution privileges. O, how grand are the divine arrangements and plans! Some may say, these are blessings that are coming; but our Lord intimated that certain great tribulations were coming upon the cities of Galilee. What were they? We have already referred to these. The people of the cities of Galilee and of all Palestine were involved in the great time of trouble with which the Jewish age was wound up and that nation blotted out of existence as a nation, its members being scattered amongst all nations. This was a great tribulation and sore loss to the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum--especially when compared with what they might have enjoyed if they had become obedient to the Lord's message--had they become disciples and thus attained joint-heirship with the Lord and the apostles and all the saints in the Kingdom.
But how will it be more favorable in the Millennial age for those people of the heathen cities named than for those of Galilee? Will not the terms of the Millennial age be equally open to all the world of mankind? We answer, Yes, but all mankind will not be in equal
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readiness to profit by those blessed conditions of the Kingdom. It is a law of nature that a blessing having been once despised, and Truth having been once rejected, is on that account more difficult to be grasped if offered again. This our Lord intimated when he said of the efforts of the Jews to make proselytes amongst the Gentiles, "Ye compass sea and land to make a proselyte, and when he is made he is twofold more a child of destruction than he was before." Truths received under unfavorable conditions and into unready hearts are not really blessings but are sometimes injurious. When the Kingdom conditions shall be made known to the people of Sodom and Tyre and Sidon, they will doubtless be more ready to bow to them, accept them and conform to them than some who already have had a measure of light but have been unfaithful to what they did see. Hence we may expect it to be more tolerable in the Millennial age for many of the heathen peoples--more favorable for them to fall in line with the Lord's gracious arrangements--than it will be for some who have enjoyed high place and position in the Jewish and Christian systems, but whose hearts have been far from appreciative of the principles of righteousness, etc., involved.
"AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST."
The last verse of the lesson is most impressive, most encouraging, most stimulating. The Lord would have us know that when sent out with his message and under his direction we fully represent him, so that he that heareth us heareth him. What a wonderful honor is thus conferred upon the most humble of the Lord's mouthpieces, "He that despiseth you, despiseth me, and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me." If as the Lord's people we could always have this thought with us, it would certainly be a blessing to us in two ways:
(1) It would prompt us to feel the dignity of the smallest service rendered to the Lord's cause. It would banish fear of man and all feelings of weakness and trepidation. Recognizing ourselves as the Lord's representatives we would be courageous to go anywhere, to do any service called for in his commission and providential leading.
(2) This thought would bring to us such a sense of our responsibility that all the affairs of the present life would seem trivial and insignificant in comparison to the one great thing that we do--our heavenly mission and commission. We would be more dignified in manner, more earnest in our service as well as less careful of what man might say of us. Our whole concern would be that we might please him who hath chosen us to be soldiers in his Royal Legion, to be ambassadors and heralds of the Kingdom and of its terms and conditions.
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL,--
Enclosed herewith I send our application for the continuation of Pilgrim visits for 1904.
We greatly appreciate the privilege of these visits and the rich blessings with which they are always accompanied. Our hearts are full of gratitude to our dear heavenly Father that he has seen fit, in his wonderful condescending goodness, to thus supply us with the help we so much need.
The work at this place has made very slow progress, it seems, to our waiting hearts, nevertheless there have been some results. When Bro. Draper was here this month we had one "new" sister at our little parlor meetings who eagerly drank in the sweet, blessed truths brought out in Brother Draper's Bible talks. She seemed to be greatly blessed and benefited, and our own hearts throbbed with tenderest love and sympathy for her in her new-found joy. Praise God for one addition to our number.
I have just read, through tears of joy, your annual report. I cannot express what I feel when I ponder the glorious harvest work now going on in the dear Master's wheat field, while the tares are sleeping in ignorance and indifference. I am constantly saying to myself, Who am I that I should be permitted to share in this the greatest work ever given to mortal man for accomplishment? I am so glad our heavenly bodies will have the capacity of expressing what the heavenly mind will feel, and not be so limited that they will simply ache for want of such capacity. Thank God for the assurance that every want of the perfect New Creation will be abundantly supplied. I have just returned from a visit at L__________. While there I heard a sermon from a man who was my pastor twenty years ago. His text was from the `fourteenth chapter of Job`, "If a man die shall he live again?" His theme, "Immortality." Almost the entire time devoted to the subject was given to the labor of attempting to show that immortality was proven from nature, reason, science and philosophy. About ten minutes were devoted to revelation and the resurrection of Jesus as additional proof. The number of Scripture references used was three, beside the context. I was sitting between one of my sisters and her husband, who is a Baptist preacher, and when the speaker declared that by the resurrection of Jesus "life and immortality was brought to light," I could not resist giving expression to an emphatic little "Amen," realizing that he had spoken the truth without meaning to. As I listened to all he had to say, and summed it all up, my heart was stirred with unspeakable pity for my dear old friend and all my other loved ones who had such scanty fare. I watched very closely for some indication of unsatisfied hunger, but they all seemed full. Oh, the pity of it! All noble hearted and clean handed before the world, and all seeming to have real love for our dear heavenly Father and all believing they are loyal to him!
Dear brother, I have wanted to tell you how greatly I rejoiced that our sweet and comforting belief--the truths that we greatly prize above life itself--were presented to so many people during your debate with Dr. Eaton, and presented in such a lovely Christlike way. All my Christian life I have longed to see my blessed Lord and Master so represented before the world.
May his blessings continue and increase throughout the coming year upon you and all the dear brethren who labor with you.
Yours in fullness of joy,
(MRS.) AUGUSTA KENT,--Texas.
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MY DEAR BROTHER,--
It is with deep and inexpressible gratitude to the great "Giver of all good gifts," and to you, his honored servant, that I take up my pen this morning. I have read and re-read your dear Christmas letter [of greeting to the Colporteurs] and my heart echoes every sentiment expressed.
How truly "unspeakable" are our heavenly Father's gifts, not for one day only, but for every day, and for "ages to come," for he will show unto us "the exceeding riches of his grace (favor) in his kindness to us through Christ Jesus."
The year just past has been one of great blessing to me. The Lord's "table" never seemed so bountifully spread as it is now--perhaps my appreciation is increasing, too--and our standing in Christ Jesus, and our present privileges in the service of his Truth, never seemed more grand. Angels certainly would esteem it a pleasure to be in our places.
The dear Chief Reaper has permitted us to see some results of our feeble efforts, and this has caused our hearts to bubble over with joy, and has more than compensated for all the trials incident to our work.
Our prayer is that we may be given grace and strength to continue in this glorious harvest work as long as the door of opportunity stands open. We realize also that the time is growing very short, and we desire to be diligent in his service, and pray also that the "Lord of the harvest will send forth more laborers into his harvest."
We rejoice more and more in the knowledge of the "good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people." It is the one thing which makes life worth living, and even makes it a pleasure. And "our hearts up-leap in fond anticipation"--knowing that our "union with the Bridegroom draweth nigh," and soon the blessing of the "groaning creation" will begin. Oh, that we may "walk worthy of him who hath called us to glory and
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virtue," that we may be ever in the attitude of our dear Brother Paul, who rejoiced that he was "counted worthy to suffer shame for his name," who did so much for us!
"For him, I count as gain each loss,
Disgrace for him, renown;
Well might I glory in the cross
While he prepares my crown."
May these be the sentiments of each dear "footstep follower (`I Pet. 2:21`) until they "finish their course with joy" and see their dear Redeemer face to face.
With true Christian love, I remain yours in the "one hope of our calling,"
M. M. SPRINGER,--Colporteur.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL,--
I have been long wanting to write to you. Since August last year when the Lord graciously called me, I have been by his gracious help holding steadily on to the faith. Your books, together with ZION'S WATCH TOWER, (to which I look forward eagerly) and other interesting tracts, etc., have been a valuable help to me, so instructive have they been.
It has helped to give the daily reading of the Holy Word an additional delight. Many passages having struck me as being peculiarly beautiful, I have learned them by heart, and while at my work (being an engine driver) I love to repeat them over and over to myself amid the roar and rattle of the revolving machinery. I have tried, oh, so hard, with, I hope, the blessing of the Lord, to interest some of my fellow-workmen in the great Truth, and as you know have caused two of them at least to become subscribers to the WATCH TOWER. As a child of God, wholly consecrated to Him, I am anxious that all around me should partake of the blessings and peace of mind that a child of God has amid the numerous distractions of life. My eyes have been opened to the fact that there are many blessed privileges I can live up to even in this life, and my Father has been surpassingly good to me. I am a simple man and do not know very much, but the good fortune that has come to me, and in which you have, under God, taken a part, impels me to write to you, repeating my thanks with a rejoicing heart.
With much Christian love, yours very sincerely,
W. R. CONYERS,--India.
Some weeks ago I received (as a Presbyterian minister, I suppose) a free copy of your "Divine Plan of the Ages." Before acknowledging it, I have taken time to read it. I now ask that you will send a cloth-bound copy of it to a friend and send your bill to me. You can also put me down as a subscriber to ZION'S WATCH TOWER. I expect later to order the MILLENNIAL DAWN series in leather. It is needless to say that the "Divine Plan of the Ages" has both interested and comforted me. I am anxious to follow up the series and to exchange a personal letter or two on some points.
Yours very truly, A. W. N.,--Missouri.
Regarding the article in the Feb. 1 TOWER, "Can the Ethiopian Change His Skin," allow me to say, that I have ascertained by inquiry, from different colored people, that in this small town there are several instances of this change taking place. It usually begins with a small spot on some part of the body and gradually enlarges, and, strange to say, the individuals are loath to speak of it. My information extends to other communities, and the same experiences are occurring there. This appears to be general amongst the race all over the country. If a general inquiry was made amongst the colored people throughout the country it would be found that this is generally the case. I think that this is one of the many indications of the great changes that will soon take place when our dear Redeemer assumes his power and reigns.
Yours in the service of the loving Master,
C. C. SEABROOK.--Kansas.
Being in possession of the first three volumes of the MILLENNIAL DAWN series, through a rather peculiar circumstance, I request information in regard to the succeeding volumes, and prices.
I may as well inform you that heretofore I had been a skeptic in regard to the Bible until I got hold of the books mentioned.
No person of intelligence can read these books and not be convinced. They are truly wonderful and show that God would surely raise up men who can and will interpret the Scriptures harmoniously.
H. C. MITCHELL.--Ohio.