ZWT - 1903 - R3125 thru R3293 / R3227 (321) - August 15, 1903
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VOL. XXIV. AUGUST 15, 1903. No. 16
Views from the Watch Tower........................323
Peculiar Views of the Death of
Pope Leo XIII...............................323
Character of Next Two Popes
Out of Thine Own Mouth........................325
Anxious to Check German
Our Sufficiency is of God.........................327
Strong Characters in Contrast.....................330
A Remarkable Friendship...........................332
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
SINGULAR VIEWS OF THE DEATH OF POPE
THE death of Leo XIII. at the age of ninety-three years is said to have created "a profound impression throughout Christendom." The President of the United States even felt it his duty to dictate a message to the Associated Press as the representative of seventy millions of people, more than one-seventh of whom were the pope's followers:--
"The president expressed his profound regret at the death of the venerable pontiff, whose long career, no less than his exalted character, has commanded the respect of all Christendom. The president said that in uttering these sentiments he was giving expression to the feelings of all the people in the United States, wholly without regard to their religious faiths."
We have no desire to say one word against any man, and surely have no grudge against this one of the more than fifty thousand millions of the dead; but we admire consistency, and fail to see how the deceased is worthy of all the adulation heaped upon him. We doubt not that he had an "exalted character," as the President intimates, but we have had no opportunity for judging of this, as we had not his personal acquaintance--as the President may possibly have had. We certainly should expect good morals and good character generally from one making the high claims that Leo XIII. made. We personally know some very humble people who have "exalted character," and therefore should not be surprised that a man claiming to be Christ's personal representative as King of the World should be given at least a decent reputation by his supporters, who claim that he was infallible. The fact that some of his predecessors on the papal throne were admittedly infamous, morally and otherwise, perhaps should, by contrast, lead all to proportionately greater respect for this man, whose gross immoralities, if he had any, are unknown. Yes, we may well rejoice that the deceased was not so viciously disposed as some of his predecessors on the "throne of Christendom," who deluged the world with the blood of martyrs--in their endeavor to enforce the same false theories which this pope as tenaciously held but more covertly advocated.
But while thanking God that the fallen representative of the great Antichrist* was much less ferocious than many of his predecessors, let us allow also that all this change is not due to the man who died, but in great measure to the changed conditions--Papacy's loss of civil power, together with the greater enlightenment of the masses, incident to the new conditions which have prevailed since A.D. 1799. In this "time of the end," as foretold by the Prophet Daniel (`Dan. 12:4`), many are running to and fro, and coincident with this commingling of the people has gradually come the equally predicted dissemination of knowledge amongst the masses of so-called "Christendom" (Papacy's kingdom); and as a result the "bulls" and "thunders" of Antichrist dare not be of the same character as previously. Times have changed greatly since Papal bulls instructed the kings and princes of Europe that they must persecute heretics to the death through the Inquisition if they would maintain favor with the pope, who was proclaimed "A very God on earth." Otherwise their subjects would be released from obedience to them and enjoined to favor and fight for some "more worthy" "son of the Church." In view of these known and widely recognized facts, let us thank God rather than Leo XIII. for the beneficence of Antichrist during the last few pontificates.
*See "Great Swelling Words," MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., page 304.
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It is not necessary for us to suppose the pope to have been evil intentioned because he was for a time the head of the Antichrist system; rather we may well give him the benefit of any doubt on the subject and suppose that he belonged to the vast throng of those mentioned by the Apostle as "deceiving and being deceived." Satan, himself, is the great Antichrist who, by his wiles and arts, has deceived almost the whole world into one form or another of misbelief and opposition to God and his great plan of the ages. Thanks be to God for the blessed hope of the Scriptures, that the true Messiah shall shortly take the throne of earth and subdue all things unto himself, bind Satan and illuminate the whole world. "This is the true light which lighteth [shall enlighten] every man that cometh into the world."
* * *
Telegraphic reports told how before the pope's death he received at the hands of a fellow-mortal "absolution," freeing him from sin and its penalties, and how, when he did not die as expected that day, he asked for its repetition the next day, when he seemed to be sinking. Yet for all this, according to Roman Catholics, Leo XIII. went straight to purgatory. Evidently they doubt that his "exalted character" or his claimed high office as Christ's vice-gerent on earth, or his "absolution"--any of these or all of them--were acceptable to God, and so the poor old man, they think, went to "limbo" to expiate his sins.
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How do we know this to be the Catholic view of the matter? Because, as usual everywhere throughout Papacy's kingdom, "pontifical requiem masses for the repose of his soul" are being performed--for the stilling of his soul's anguish in purgatory. Surely this would not be done for him if he were believed to be in heaven--in glory! Poor old man! Time after time, during his long career, he had fresh sacrifices of the mass said for his sins, and thus, theoretically, had thousands of years of purgatorial suffering remitted, and finally had all sin absolved, and yet to be obliged to go to purgatory to suffer and scorch--for how long no Catholic knows! He and his followers surely have our sympathy in the calamity of so unsatisfactory a faith.
We inquired of a more than ordinarily intelligent Catholic how these seeming inconsistencies were harmonizable, and got the reply--"Well, you know, in matters of such importance we feel like using every precaution." Poor things! It is all a matter of doubt and uncertainty. Blind faith in the words of men (proclaimed infallible by men but not by God) can never give "strong consolation" nor "full assurance of faith." As the poor Romanist thinks of his pope ("a very God on earth") in purgatory, he shudders for his own fate and that of his friends. Nor are Protestants much better off. By rejecting the doctrine of purgatory and making the rewards of the present life to be heaven or hell--eternal bliss or eternal misery--they in some respects increase the difficulty. They must admit that only "saints" have the heavenly promises of the Scriptures, and few of them claim saintship. Besides, even the saintly must concede that but few of their neighbors and kin are saints. They are thus driven to doubt, or to the unreasonable hope that those who were unkind, dishonest, unneighborly, or brutal and bestial and savage are the kinds God is taking to heaven. In which case their reasonable hopes of heavenly bliss and harmony and joy would be rudely shaken.
* * *
How refreshing to turn from all this unscriptural nonsense--from all this darkness of the dark ages-- and to glance at the reasonable and plain teaching of the Bible on this subject of sin, its punishment, and the divinely provided salvation from these. Death, the penalty for sin, is comprehensible--reasonable, Scriptural. The resurrection hope, based upon the fact that "Christ died for our sins" (paid the penalty against us), is also reasonable. That God is now calling and electing a "little flock" of "saints" out of every nation, people and tongue to be associated with Christ in the Kingdom work of the Millennial age, is also reasonable. And that all others than the saints must wait for the Kingdom of God (of which Papacy's kingdom was but a counterfeit)--wait in the tomb (where Pope Leo XIII. is now waiting), in which there is neither wisdom nor knowledge nor device, until the Kingdom time--is also reasonable.
It gives us pleasure to know on the strength of God's Word that Leo XIII., and all the millions of the dead Catholics and Protestants, are waiting in the great prison-house of death until, at the command of the Redeemer, "all that are in the graves shall come forth."
In due time Leo XIII., and all the other popes and peoples of the world, blinded by Satan, "the god of this world," will come forth to a purgatorial condition, but a very different one from that preached by Romanists. The Millennial Kingdom will be a purgatorial kingdom--established for the very purpose of blessing all the families of the earth by binding Satan and destroying his blinding influence, and by chastisements (administered in love) purging from all people (or from so many as will submit joyfully) all their sins and weaknesses and blemishes. This purgatorial kingdom will last only one thousand years and will accomplish its designed purpose (`Isa. 55:11`.) At its close all not in fullest heart-harmony with the Lord
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will be "destroyed from among the people" (`Acts 3:23`), and throughout the whole of the cleansed world praises shall ascend to God and to him who loved us and redeemed us with the one sacrifice of himself, which needed no addition of repeated mass sacrifices. And thereafter there shall be no more sorrow or dying or crying, because all the former things of sin and darkness and error shall have passed away.--`Rev. 21:4`; `Isa. 35:10`.
VIEWED FROM ANOTHER STANDPOINT.
Evidently others view the above matters quite differently, for, according to newspaper reports, prayers have been ascending to God all over the land, from Protestants as well as Catholics, that the aged pontiff might not die. Evidently many good people are of opinion that 93 years was too young for this man's death rate. They seemed to consider their opinion on the matter worthy of divine consideration, but God was unmoved by their numbers and influence. Again the Apostle's words are verified: "Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss."
However, one error always leads to another when the fault is with the heart, and hence, so far from realizing divine disapproval in the rejection of their prayers, we may expect that Protestants thus carried away with admiration for the head of Antichrist will be still further misled. Indeed the indications are that "mother" System (`Rev. 17:5`) and her daughters are surely coming into fuller harmony than has ever before existed between them. This will be recognized as in perfect accord with what we have already pointed out to be the teaching of Revelation,--that in the close of this "harvest" time Papacy and Protestantism will cooperate to arbitrarily coerce the people of Christendom and thereby lead to the great catastrophe of anarchy;--"a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation."--`Dan. 12:1`.
The following from the Sun (N.Y.) is to the point:--
"On Sunday prayers for the dying pope were offered up in several Protestant churches, of whose services we have particular reports and, probably, in many more as to which we have no such information.
"They were indicative of a change in the attitude of Protestantism toward the Roman Catholic church which is one of the most remarkable religious developments of recent years. Even not more than a quarter of a century ago that church, by far the greatest in Christendom, was usually excluded from consideration by Protestants when they were discussing the means and agencies for the propagation of Christianity. The article on the Pope in the Westminster Confession, in which he was described as 'that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition,' represented the prevailing Protestant belief.
"Twenty-five years before, this whole country had been stirred by a political agitation against the Roman Catholic church which seemed to some prophets ominous of a religious war. That church, then comparatively feeble, has now grown into the strongest in the Republic, yet, instead of the bitterness of hostility against it, proclaimed and predicted by the old Know-Nothingism, there have come harmony and respect. In Protestant churches prayers were offered up for the suffering and dying pope. The Roman pontiff has become a Christian brother, and Protestants join with Catholics in celebrating the spiritual exaltation of his character and the services he has rendered to Christianity. He was described by a Methodist preacher of New York on Sunday as 'a leader of the great army of the Lord's hosts,' a 'spiritual commander-in-chief,' a 'champion of the faith who has never wavered from the Catholic position and the theology of Thomas Aquinas,' 'who has done much for the progress of civilization,' who 'has restored the golden age of the Papacy in its best sense.' ...It cannot be denied, however, that frequently this new spirit of toleration is due to lessened partizanship because of lessened religious conviction."
THE CHARACTER OF NEXT TWO POPES PROPHESIED.
Long ago, a Catholic whose name even is lost, affected to prophesy the characters of future popes. He did this by giving to each a "motto." And so accurate have some of his predictions been that Catholics respect them greatly. For instance, the Pope Leo XIII. motto was "Lumen in caelo" (Sunshine in heaven). His motto for the next pope is "Ignis ardens" (A burning fire), and that for his successor is "Religio depopulata" (Religion laid waste).
The reign of Leo XIII. certainly has been a very sunshiny one for papal interests, and it would be well in accord with our anticipations of the future should his successor have a brief and strenuous experience, to be followed by the general collapse of `Daniel 12:2`.
"OUT OF THINE OWN MOUTH."
A sister in Christ, once a Presbyterian, handed us a copy of the Central Presbyterian of February 18th, with several items marked, saying: If ZION'S WATCH TOWER contained such caustic criticisms of "Babylon" and her methods, they would be thought severe and uncharitable, even if admitted to be true. We present four extracts; the last going far toward sustaining the true gospel of "good tidings of great joy, which shall [yet] be to all people":--
"Dr. J. M. Buckley, the renowned editor of the New York Christian Advocate, at the meeting of Methodist ministers in that city, disputed the statement of Dr. Thompson of Chicago that a million and a half converts had been made by the Methodist Church in the last four years. He declared that statistics showed that Methodism was actually declining, at any rate in some of the Eastern conferences.
"Dr. Buckley added that many ministers will plainly state in public their frank doubt as to the truth of the Pentateuch. He continued:
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"'Some of our ministers even do not hesitate to state in their pulpits that in a few years Abraham will be generally regarded as a name, and not as a person.
"'For twenty years I have not heard a real sermon on such a topic as the new birth. I do not say there have not been such sermons, but I have not heard them. I have heard but one sermon on sin properly presented. Now, I wish to say that if the gentlemen of the press report me as saying there is no such thing as a real revival and real converts, they will be wrong. But I do say that the predicting of a great revival tends to prevent its coming.'
"Again, we say to the Christian ministers of the South, 'Stand firm, brethren, declaring the whole counsel of God!' A touch of the modern departures will make your sermons and all your ministry fruitless of anything but apples of Sodom!"
* * *
"Certain so-called religious magazines and papers are constantly saying we need a higher state of morals in politics, in business, in social and civil life; saying, Preach moral duties, put high ideals before men; yet they fail to inculcate those very truths by which only high morals can be sustained--the regeneration of the soul by the Spirit of God, as the only reliable ground for good morals and upright living. They are trying to make men better by some other way than God's way. Dr. Chalmers tells us how, before his own regeneration, he preached all this sort of doctrine with God's power on the soul left out; but it was only when he became converted himself and fell back on the great truths of Scripture that his pulpit became a power. No preaching has ever really changed society deeply--made men earnest men, thoughtful men, holy, God-fearing--that has not dealt in the great primal truths of Revelation. The men whose preaching ignores God's grace, God's power in the soul, do not make Christians. That preaching which says develop your own natural virtues into piety, which does not proclaim the absolute necessity of being born again, is trying to warm up the frozen by painted fire, not by the real, burning flame. In much preaching in these United States God has as little part in what is preached as if we possessed no Bible. There is really no Savior in it at all. Men are not taught there is no salvation possible except through faith in Christ."
* * *
IRREVERENT WORSHIP AND PREACHING.
"From a letter in the Nashville Christian Advocate:
"The editor of this paper well asks in a recent issue, 'When shall we have done with the abusive evangelist?' and he might easily have added a number of other adjectives similarly descriptive of that brother's preaching. By permitting in our pulpits and worship any and every sort of spectacular displays we are only cultivating in our people a lack of reverence for things the most solemn and sacred. There ought to be in none of our churches any sort of sham or catchy shows. Deliver us from fads in religion, from slang and sensationalism in the pulpit, and from cant and claptrap in revival services!
"For one I wish to enter my most earnest protest against our preachers and people taking stock in these characters who advertise themselves as 'converted clowns,' 'cow-boy preachers,' 'boy preachers,' 'escaped nuns,' 'ex-priests,' and others of that ilk. Let us have holy living, plain, honest, quiet piety, faithful performance of duty, and fearless preaching of a pure gospel.
"In closing an announcement not long since regarding a sermon to men only, the significant statement was made: 'There's no filth in this sermon.' That is a sad commentary on the character and contents of many sermons to men only. If there ought to be no double standard in morals, there ought to be none in preaching. What a pure woman may not hear, no self-respecting man ought to hear, much less ought it to be spoken in the pulpit. Can we imagine Christ or Paul excluding women from their meetings because they are too refined and delicate to hear some things which it is deemed advisable to say only to men? May God speed the day when our ministry will cease entirely from pandering in any way to the morbid curiosity of people for the irregular, the grotesque, the tragical, the irreverent, and, too often, the disgusting in affairs pertaining to our religious life and work and worship.
"I heard one of the strongest thinkers of our church, and a man of deep and sincere piety, remark a few years ago: 'It disgusts me to hear some man say in simpering tones, "My Jesus keeps me sweetly."' To which remark my heart responded Amen. It is a weariness to hear the easy and flippant phrases sometimes used in addresses to God or in statements about him.
"It is shocking and humiliating to those who love the church to see the advertisements and descriptions which frequently appear in the secular papers of all sorts of freaks and abnormalities in the way of church entertainments and services. 'A Talent Lunch,' 'Freezing a Mother-in-Law,' 'Lap Socials,' are some that have of late come under our observation as 'church entertainments,' while some of the subjects announced for sermons fall little short of blasphemy. Besides the sad feature of lack of reverence in these things, they contain another feature equally as hurtful, for in them is a tacit confession of our skepticism as to the power of the gospel to attract people, and also a confession of weakness on the part of church and ministry. We seem to have gotten hold of the false idea that we shall have more hold on the sinful world by conforming a little more to their ideals and standards. The world has never been made better by low ideals. It expects and has a right to demand of the church the very highest ideals in matters pertaining to things holy and religious. Let us have done with sensationalism in the pulpit, with sacrilege in our songs, with undue familiarity in our testimony and conversation, and with irregularities in our worship."
* * *
GOD IS LOVE.
"We recognize electing love as the hope of man; but we see clearly that the love of compassion for all the perishing is coextensive with the earth. The commission of our Lord is an unmistakable declaration that 'his tender mercies are over all his works.'
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Every creature of our race is included in the provision. We do not remember any one of our leading theologians who has ever suggested a single exception. Our Savior never manifested, even to Judas, a particle of malice.
"The gospel is now, and ever has been, a proclamation of the Lord's love to sinners. It is a misrepresentation to say that this love is only for a secret number of sinners. Our Lord was not conscious on the cross of expiating the sins of the reprobate, but he was conscious of a mercy fully capable of that redeeming act. The heart of the glorious victim was capacious enough and unselfish enough to save any number of such worlds.
"Calvinism has suffered very much from its nominal friends, as well as its open enemies. The ardor of discussion has sometimes involved them in apparent views liable to misconception, but we cannot understand any of our representative men as imputing to God anything less than an infinite degree of benignity.
"'God is love.' That is his nature. He takes no pleasure in retributive severity. Endless torment is inflicted by his enemies upon themselves. Irreconcilable antagonism to such a God clearly deserves the curse of its own perpetuation and appropriate misery. Fixed aversion to piety is the sin that destroys all who perish. They are incurable enemies of a God of love. That enmity toward such a Creator is the ground of perdition. It makes sin "exceeding sinful." It was honorable from the first that God was infinitely worthy of the love of man, and when the creature chose a bodily appetite in preference to him, the awful change occurred and the race of enemies began. But God did not become the enemy of man. He continued to be his best friend. 'He so loved the world' as to provide, by a divine sacrifice, for its salvation. The heart of the Creator was ready to forgive sin in Eden, and has been so ever since; and the olive branch of remission hangs high upon the cross wherever Christian missions have erected it in the view of men."
ANXIOUS TO CHECK THE GERMAN SOCIALISTS.
It will be remembered that the salient feature of the parliamentary elections which were held in Germany a few weeks ago was the enormous success of the Socialists. They polled 3,008,000 votes, as compared with 2,120,000 in 1898, and they increased their representation in the Reichstag from 58 to 81. Those figures indicate a gain which is most significant, and which is all the more remarkable because the Government had done everything it could to prevent it. It reveals the prevalence among the masses of the people of a feeling of profound dissatisfaction with existing conditions, and the growth of a determination to bring about a more or less radical and sweeping change in the circumstances of German life.
Naturally, the situation thus presented is regarded with alarm by those who, either through their ownership of property or their official position, make up the ruling classes, and there is much discussion as to what shall be done to stay the rising Socialistic flood.
"If the ruling classes have good sense, if they are acquainted with the teachings of history and are sufficiently intelligent to apply the experience of others to themselves, they will perceive the wisdom of meeting the Socialists at least half way and of placating them with some timely though moderate concessions. --The North American.
A SMALL CONCESSION TO ZIONISTS.
While refusing thus far the appeal of Zionists for some sort of autonomous government for Palestine, the ruler of Turkey has recently sold to them a tract of land said to be capable of supporting a colony of 70,000. Presumably this sale carries with it some right of residence not granted under present restrictions. Zionists rejoice in this crevice of an open door and hope for more. So do we hope for them--in accord with the divine Word. Official information is hoped for at the next Zionist Congress, Basle, Aug. 23-29.
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OUR SUFFICIENCY IS OF GOD.
--`1 SAMUEL 17:38-49`.--AUGUST 9.--
Golden Text:--"If God be for us
who can be against us?"--`Rom. 8:31`.
THE Philistines occupied a considerable portion of the seacoast fronting the land of Canaan at the time the Israelites took possession, and their rights seem to have been respected by the Israelites, for even when the land was divided by lot, before it was subdued, the portion occupied by the Philistines was not included in that recognized as given by God to the Israelites. Indeed we remember that the Lord used this powerful nation as his rod in chastening the chosen people when the unfaithfulness of the latter required it on more than one occasion. Thus in the time of Samson the Philistines were the masters of Israel, Samson being used of the Lord as one of his agents in the removal of their yoke--although the work begun by Samson was not completed until the days of Samuel, the prophet.--`1 Sam. 14`.
Our lesson shows us another invasion of Israel's borders by the Philistines, Saul at this time being king, though David had already been privately anointed but not publicly proclaimed as his successor. The Philistine hosts had advanced a considerable distance into the territory of the Israelites, and had reached the more mountainous country, where Saul gathered the army of Israel to meet them. A valley lay between the two hosts, and in the center of this valley there was a ditch about ten feet deep, cut through the rock by a mountain stream. The place was favorable for a battle of the kind usually fought at that day. Neither army seemed to be anxious to attempt to cross the steep banks of the brook in the face of its opponent, for under such conditions the attacking party would be considerably
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disadvantaged. Besides, the Philistines-- knowing that Israel's king stood head and shoulders above his fellow-Israelites--had pitted against him a giant Philistine, Goliath, still taller, about ten feet high and probably stout in proportion, as indicated by the weight of his armor, spear and sword. The challenge set forth that the disputes between the two nations, of many years' standing, should be settled, not by a general battle, but by a duel between the Philistine giant and the most competent Israelite who could be found to come against him--who undoubtedly would have been Saul, the king.
For forty days this challenge was made every morning, and the king of Israel and his chief mighty men practically confessed that they feared the giant and would not respond to his challenge. It was at this juncture that David, a young man of about twenty-one, was sent by his father to his brethren in the army of Israel to see how they fared, to take them some delicacies from home, and to bring back word respecting the prosperity of the Lord's hosts. The infidel is prone to twit the Lord's people upon the statement of Scripture that David was a man after God's own heart--referring to some of his weaknesses and shortcomings; but in this lesson we see clearly the feature of David's character which God so highly esteemed, and which he has always esteemed in everyone to the extent that he possesses and manifests it. This quality which God esteemed in David was his faith--the same quality that he esteemed in Abraham and in all the faithful of the past. Of all who had "this testimony that they pleased God," it is written that by faith they did thus and so, "and it was counted unto them for righteousness." --`Gal. 3:6`.
David's faith in the Lord being great, he was surprised to learn when he came to the army that the Philistine had been boasting himself for forty days against Israel and Israel's God, and that no one of his nation had possessed sufficient faith in God to accept the challenge. He at once proposed that he would accept it himself and asked to be taken to the king that he might be thus commissioned. Those who mentioned him to the king spoke of him as a "mighty, valiant man," yet when Saul looked upon him he perceived that he was but a youth and was physically no match for the giant. However, he was the only champion who had arisen, and he was full of confidence in his own success as an instrument in the Lord's hands for delivering Israel from the boastful heathen. Saul finally consented, and proposed to loan Israel's champion his own armor; but, unused to such accoutrements, David found when he had donned them that he could not feel properly at home in them. It would require considerable time to learn how to use such armor and implements advantageously and without discomfort, and he decided to go in his usual garb as a shepherd, armed only with his shepherd's club and sling and the scrip or leather bag in which to carry the stones which he selected from the bed of the brook as he passed.
Goliath could scarcely believe his own eyes when he saw that the ruddy youth who approached him had come out to do him battle with a club, for he probably did not notice the sling. He felt indignant and inquired whether he--the great, the mighty, the strong, the well-armed --was regarded as a dog to be attacked by a club; and, cursing David by his gods, he declared that he would make short work of him, and that the fowls should have his flesh.
David's retort shows clearly that he appreciated the situation in all its bearings. He was aware that his opponent was armed with sword and spear and javelin, but, as he states the matter, he was approaching the conflict strong in the strength that God supplies-- strong in his faith in the Lord as the decider of battles, as the one who would be able to give him the victory and deliver his people from all their enemies. David noted, and counted well upon the fact, that the issue was not between the two armies, not between two men, but between the God of Israel and the false gods of the Philistines. Faith in God had doubtless been increasing amongst all the Israelites within the twenty years preceding this event. They were gradually coming to learn that, having been punished for their sins and idolatries and having returned unto the Lord, his favor was now with them because of his people, but David seems to have had confidence in God in more than an ordinary degree. Doubtless his own anointing to be Saul's successor in the kingdom gave him assurance that it was God's will that the kingdom of Israel was to be continued, and that God's favor was to be with them still as a nation, notwithstanding the transgressions of the divine commandment by Saul, noted in a previous lesson.
The Jews have a tradition that it was while Goliath threw back his head in laughter at his stripling opponent that David's sling-stone struck him in the temple. The helmets of that time were not nearly so complete as those used extensively in the middle ages, and apparently the neck and a portion of the head were generally exposed, so that David's stone might have struck the vital spot of the forehead even though Goliath's head had not been thrown back in laughter. Neither was David's marksmanship so extraordinary as to be considered wholly miraculous. We have the Scriptural record that many in the tribe of David could throw such sling-stones to a hair's breadth. (`Judges 20:16`.) Xenophon mentions the expertness of certain
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Persian slingers, and Livy speaks of slingers so expert that they could send a stone from a distance through an ordinary wreath or chaplet, and could not only strike their enemies in the face, but in whatever part of the face they chose.
We cannot call this little incident a type, but we may properly see in it a figure and a lesson respecting spiritual things applicable to all who belong to the anti-typical David--Beloved--the Christ. Goliath fitly pictures the great Adversary, Satan, and all who are on his side of any controversy, seeking to bring the Lord's consecrated people into bondage either to errors or sins. Satan, as the prince of this world, found no one either willing or able to dispute his supremacy of power until our Lord Jesus, the antitypical David (Beloved), became the champion of God and the truth and such as love righteousness. As David risked his life for the deliverance of his people Israel, so our Lord Jesus not only risked, but sacrificed, his life for the deliverance of antitypical Israel; as David, after being anointed, encountered the lion, so Jesus, after he had been anointed by the holy Spirit at Jordan, was led of the Spirit into the wilderness and endured a great fight with the Adversary. He conquered him with the Word of God, answering each of Satan's propositions for his overthrow with the words, "It is written." The Apostle explains,--For this purpose Christ was manifested, that he might destroy the bondage of death and "him that hath the power of death, that is the devil"-- eventually delivering all the people of God.-- `Heb. 2:14`.
David's conquest in some respects illustrates battles which all of the Lord's people must engage in. Goliath and the hosts supporting him may well illustrate to our minds various foes of God and truth and righteousness which challenge us and all of the Lord's people.
(1) The hosts of doubt and scepticism are today led about by the great giant of unbelief, whose size, armor, sword and spear are over all the hosts of nominal Christendom--all except the David class--the body of Christ. This giant is the evolution theory, and his armor-bearer is higher criticism. The records and promises of Israel's God are disdained, and the David class who stand forth in their defense are treated with contempt and their pebbles from the brook of truth disregarded. But science, falsely so called, though it boasts itself today and creates so great an impression that few would think of opposing it, will, nevertheless, meet its Waterloo. It shall fall before the Lord's anointed--David, "Beloved"--and its own sword of truth shall eventually complete its destruction in the morning of the new dispensation: at the same time all the hosts of error shall flee, and many of the people of God, aside from the elect body of Christ, shall be blessed by these deliverances.
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(2) Goliath may properly represent pride, backed by a host of worldliness. One of the severe ordeals of the New Creature is the conquering of the love of the spirit of worldliness under the leadership of pride. Worldly pride challenges faith in God and obedience to him, and only those who are of good courage and full of confidence in the Lord can overcome this giant. It is necessary, too, that the victory should be made complete --that pride should be thoroughly humiliated, killed, so that it can never rise up again to destroy us. It is an individual battle, and the only proper armament against this giant is a stone from the brook, the message of the Lord, showing us what is pleasing and acceptable in his sight, and assuring us that he that humbleth himself shall be exalted and he that exalteth himself shall be abased. As the poet has expressed it:--
"Where boasting ends, true dignity begins."
(3) Another giant which will sometimes challenge the people of God is fear, distrust. Mighty, imposing and terrifying indeed is the influence of fear, except upon those who have learned to know the Lord through previous experiences, and to trust him even where they cannot trace him. The giant of fear and despair must be met with the pebble from the brook, "It is written." The sling of faith must propel the word of promise with such force as to slay the adversary and to deliver us from his domination.
(4) Another giant which assaults the Lord's people, but which in the present time can be overcome only by the David class, the body of Christ, is the giant of sectarian influence. How strong, how majestic, how well-armed, how influential is this great giant, whose powers are exercised in a large measure in intimidating the Lord's true children, so that all their lifetime they are subject to bondage and fail to attain the liberty with which Christ makes free indeed! To meet this giant and to resist him successfully and to gain the victory over him, thoroughly armed as he is with the haughty voice, and large and strongly organized and equipped with worldly power and influences and boycotting opportunities, requires great grace, such grace as is to be found only in the little flock, the overcomers, the body of Christ--the David class, the "Beloved." Thus armed only with the Word of God, and trusting in his rod and staff, we may well be courageous and answer imposing sectarianism as David answered the Philistine, "Thou comest to me with a sword and with a spear and a javelin: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, which thou hast defied."
Let us all remember the meekness and humility of
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David, note that his conduct was utterly devoid of boastfulness, and that we are to copy this. Like him our confidence is to be in the Lord, and not in ourselves.
By whom was David taught to aim the dreadful blow,
When he Goliath fought, and laid the Gittite low?
No sword or spear the stripling took,
But chose a pebble from the brook.
'Twas Israel's God and King who sent him to the fight,
Who gave him strength to sling, and skill to aim aright.
Ye feeble saints, your strength endures
Because young David's God is yours.
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STRONG CHARACTERS IN CONTRAST.
--`1 SAMUEL 18:5-16`.--AUGUST 16.--
Golden Text:--"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."--`Psa. 46:1`.
SAUL and David were both men of strong character, but the former neglected the divine word and counsel and undertook the management of his own affairs, while the latter accepted the Lord and his leadings and by faith sought to follow him. The results showed in both cases: Saul came to an ignominious end. David was prospered and exhibited a wisdom and strength of character quite beyond his times. We are not to forget in this connection that David's discreetness and obedience to the Lord kept him from the throne of Israel for years--years of trouble, privation and wandering, whereas the following of worldly methods might have led to much greater prosperity so far as outward appearances would be concerned. Nevertheless, we are to remember also that the nation of Israel had been adopted by the Lord as his chosen peculiar people, with whom he would deal, whose course he would supervise, and in respect to whose rulers he would decide. Neither are we to forget the great difference between the Jewish age, with the divine arrangements and regulations of the same, and this Christian or Gospel age, with its different regulations and its law of love, patient endurance and spiritual instead of carnal warfare. Those who consider the course of David and other faithful ones of the Jewish epoch to be patterns for the Church, the body of Christ, show thereby that they have a total misunderstanding of the divine Word on this matter. To their mind David's battles and victories and slaughters are figures illustrative of spiritual battles and victories on the part of the antitypical David, the Beloved,--head and body--the Christ.
Although Saul had already been notified by the Lord through the prophet Samuel that the kingdom should be taken from his family and given to a neighbor more worthy of the trust than he, more faithful to the Lord, nevertheless he had been given to understand that the kingdom might endure in his hands for a considerable time. We may assume, therefore, that Saul was on the lookout for one to rise to prominence who should ultimately become his successor,--although we have no reason to think that he understood that David had already been anointed to this position, for David's anointing was kept secret.
Saul, although appreciative of David's prowess, was, nevertheless, jealous of him because of the prominence to which his noble course brought him in the eyes of the people. This jealousy was accentuated as he heard the praises of David sung in grander terms than his own were lauded. Jealousy is always an evil quality--no part of the Lord's Spirit, the holy Spirit, but a strong ingredient in the spirit of evil. Hatred, envy, malice, strife, works of the flesh and devil, are all closely related to jealousy, and often spring from it. Saul should have resisted the envious suggestions which came to his mind: he should have allowed his mind to rise above all personalities and to rejoice most sincerely, most heartily, in the praises of his young general. Doubtless it was in part his remembrances of the Lord's declaration that he should be bereft of the kingdom that made him look with jealous eyes upon David from thenceforth.
Jealousy is one of the great foes that confront every Christian. It should be slain on sight as an enemy of God and man and of every good principle; and to the extent that its presence had defiled the heart even for a moment, a cleansing of the spirit of holiness and love should be invoked. Jealousy is not only a cruel monster of itself, but its poisonous fangs are almost certain to inflict pain and trouble upon others, as well as to bring general woe and, ultimately, destruction upon those who harbor it. Jealousy is sin in thought, wickedness in thought, and is very apt to lead speedily to sin and wickedness in action, the probable result being the defilement of men. The mind, if once poisoned with jealousy, can with great difficulty ever be cleansed from it entirely, so rapidly does it bring everything within its environment to its own color and character. This sin, when it is finished, if it is allowed to grow, if it is not routed, if it is not overcome, bringeth forth death. All of the Lord's followers should be on guard against this sin, and none need it more than those whom God has greatly honored as his mouthpieces or servants in any capacity. Had David and Saul not been in such high positions, jealousy and rivalry and enmity would have been comparatively impossible.
Under the circumstances we are not surprised to read (`v. 10`) that jealous Saul was troubled with an
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evil spirit--an evil disposition. Perhaps the language should be understood as meaning that an evil spirit--in the sense of a fallen spirit, a demon--troubled him. We certainly know that as love, patience, joy and peace are elements of the holy Spirit--God's disposition--so a spirit of hatred and jealousy is an evil spirit or disposition "from God,"--that is, away from God, to the contrary of God. We may recognize the fact, too, that such an evil spirit as here took possession of Saul was not only a spirit far from God, or anything that he could approve, but we may even assume that, since Saul was God's anointed representative in the throne of Israel, the evil spirit could not have gained control over him without at least divine permission. As holy men of old were moved by the holy Spirit to speak and write matters of divine inditement, so men have been moved and are sometimes moved today by evil spirits to speak and to write perverse things. This is the thought contained in the word "prophesied" in this verse. Saul spoke unwise things, improper things, spoke foolishly while he had his javelin in his hand. The spirit
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of evil was upon him, leading him to make a motion with his javelin as though he would do violence to his faithful and humble young general who, as a friend and companion, played for him upon the harp with a view to dispelling his melancholy. The word "cast" (`v. 11`) is a stronger one than is borne out by the original, which seems simply to signify a motion--although subsequently he did actually hurl the weapon.-- `1 Sam. 19:10`.
David seems to have been quite intrepid, fearless, and again and again exposed himself to Saul's power when the latter was under the influence of his melancholia. There is no mention of David's fear, for although he felt it to be propriety and duty to escape as he did, he seems to have had continually the memory of God's power for his preservation, and the fact that God had already anointed him to be the king in due time. Such faith and courage points a good lesson to all the members of the antitypical David. Nothing shall by any means hurt us. Things may interfere with our fleshly interests or comfort or course of affairs; but when we remember that we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, that it is as New Creatures that the Lord has promised us the Kingdom in his due time, we can realize that no outside influence can interfere with our real interests, our spiritual interests, nor hinder our attaining to the glories of the Kingdom which the Lord has promised to his faithful ones. Only our loss of confidence in the Lord and our unfaithfulness to him could separate us from his love and his promises.
Saul's jealousy of David was supported by his fear of him. Doubtless he wondered often that the fearless youth who attacked the lion should spare himself--even when he, Saul, had manifested openly his hatred and opposition toward him. He perceived that the Lord was with David and not with himself. David's presence became distasteful in the palace, and, as he could not be ignored, he was put into the army and various commissions given him in connection with the interests of the kingdom, Saul evidently hoping that through some indiscretion David would give an excuse for a turning of popular sentiment against him--perhaps hoping also that in some of the forays he would be wounded or killed. But the Spirit of the Lord, as the Apostle explains, is the "spirit of a sound mind," and in proportion as David trusted the Lord and was guided by that trust he was enabled to do his part with wisdom, winning the approval of the people and all the more the fear and awe of Saul.
This lesson to some extent illustrates the relationship between the Lord's consecrated people and the world at the present time. The worldly are in power, in influence, and yet they are conscious of the fact that divine favor is no longer with them; that a change of dispensation is about to be determined in the divine program; that the Laodicean stage of the church is to cease to be the Lord's mouthpiece, and to be spewed out; that the faithful little flock--of whom not many are wise or great or noble according to the course of this world--are to inherit the Kingdom with much power and glory. They do not indeed realize that the anointed class is in their midst and mingling with them day by day; nevertheless they feel a jealousy in respect to those who have more of the Lord's Spirit than themselves, and hate that which is purer and higher and better than they themselves possess. At times their jealousy would almost lead to murder; but they fear and hate the David class because of their closer relationship to the Lord, and because of his blessing manifested in their hearts and lives. Our Lord referred to such a condition of things in the end of the Jewish age, which was certainly a type of the end of this age. He said of the religious people of that time: "The darkness hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest its deeds be reproved; but he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God." Thus, as a separation was made between Saul and David, and between those who loved the darkness and those who loved the light at the Lord's first advent, so a separation is rapidly going on today between those who love the light, the truth, and who are guided by the holy Spirit, and those who are of a different mind or disposition.
Our Golden Text should be borne in mind as a comforting and sustaining power to the Lord's faithful. It is in full harmony with the words of the Apostle in the New Testament, who declares that "all things are working together for good to them who love God, who are the called according to his purpose."
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A REMARKABLE FRIENDSHIP.
--`1 SAMUEL 20:12-23`.--AUGUST 23.--
Golden Text:--"There is a friend that sticketh
closer than a brother."--`Prov. 18:24`.
HISTORY relates many instances of intense friendships between great men in ancient times, but it tells us of none surpassing the friendship between Jonathan and David, referred to in this lesson. Jonathan's love for David, evidently thoroughly reciprocated by the latter, shines out not only as a friendship that was unselfish, but as one that was apparently injurious to Jonathan's interests--though not really so.
As the son of King Saul, Jonathan was the recognized heir to the throne of Israel, and was at this time about thirty-five years of age. David, the country youth of about twenty-one years of age, had suddenly sprung into prominence before the nation, had been appointed a captain of a thousand men, and was just recently married to Saul's daughter. Saul himself viewed David as a rival in the affections of the people, and everything foreboded that some day he would be Saul's successor. From the standpoint of fallen manhood, therefore, Jonathan had every reason to consider David an opponent and rival, and the envy and jealousy of the fallen nature might be expected to breed in Jonathan's heart hatred and enmity instead of friendship and love. These circumstances constitute the remarkable friendship between these two young men one of the most wonderful on the pages of history.
We read of how Jonathan's soul was knit unto the soul of David--their affections, confidences and loves were interwoven. Jonathan giving to David certain parts of his own apparel when the latter came to live at the court of Saul, was merely an outward manifestation of the other precious sentiments which prompted this and other manifestations of affection--all of which, dignifying David and promoting his honor, were derogatory to the natural interests of Jonathan, who, as the heir apparent, might not improperly have aspired to the maintenance of his own place of honor at the court. Small minds are apt to make the mistake of supposing that the crushing down of others is essential to their own honor and exaltation; but it was because Jonathan was not thus small-minded, but noble-hearted, that his character has been beloved by all who have known it from then until now.
There is a reason for everything, and there must have been a reason for this love between these two noble souls. We are to love and esteem whatsoever things are just, true, pure, noble, honorable, says the Apostle, which implies that the love of the reverse of these would be improper. True, there is a difference between loving principles of righteousness and goodness and loving individuals, but what we wish to notice is that the love for individuals should be based upon their possession of noble and love-worthy characters. Neither of these men could have loved the other had he been bad, ignoble; for only the mean can love the mean, and only the perverse can love the perverse.
What was there in David's character that attracted Jonathan's love? Undoubtedly it was his nobility, his courage, his honesty, his faithfulness to the king and to the nation, and, above all, his trust in God, his reliance on him. What was there in Jonathan which drew forth the responsive love of David? There were many of the same qualities: Jonathan was also courageous and had already demonstrated this; he was sincere, honest, humble-minded, generous, faithful to a friend, and above all faithful to his God.--`1 Sam. 14:1-15,27-30,43`; `23:16-18`.
While these two men had certain natural qualities of heart which commended each to the other's love, the great bond of union was the faith and devotion of each to God. Some one has said that those who would be the best friends need a third object in which both are interested, and that then, like the radii of a circle, the nearer they come to this center the nearer they approach to one another. So with these men: their loyalty to God and to the principles of truth and righteousness exemplified in God, was the strong bond of their friendship which hindered the diversity of their earthly interests from alienating their affections.
This same principle is exemplified in all true, unselfish love: there must be something mutually attractive to draw and to hold the interest and love of each to the other. The breaking of vows of love and friendship
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or the breaking of marriage vows implies that one or other had a selfish love and not a pure love, which the Lord's Word inculcates and which is so nobly illustrated in this lesson. Selfish love may indeed admire that which is brilliant, that which is good, that which is noble, that which is generous; but not being equally noble and generous, it will be sure at some time to be assaulted with the temptation to abandon the friendship where it believes it could better serve its own interests. Jonathan's love was not of this selfish kind, consequently it was unchangeable--indeed, grew the firmer and the stronger in proportion as it triumphed over the propositions of any selfish suggestions. In this respect it well represents the love of our Lord Jesus for his people. As Jonathan loved David at the cost of his own position, our Lord Jesus left the glory which he had with the Father that he might become the Redeemer of his people, to whom he declares, "Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you."
"One there is above all others
Well deserves the name of friend;
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His is love beyond a brother's,
Costly, free, and knows no end."
Our lesson introduces these two friends at a time when the life of David was in danger. Our preceding lesson showed that Saul was disposed to do violence to David. The threatening action mentioned in that lesson was repeated several times, and finally the javelin was thrown at his musician David, but the latter escaped it. It was in view of this hostile feeling that these friends decided that it would be unwise for David to again appear at court unless King Saul manifested some change of mind toward him. The coming feast would be an important one; Jonathan and others of the household would be present, but it was not considered prudent that David should hazard his life by attending, and it was arranged that Jonathan should make his excuses to the king and should subsequently let David know the king's attitude of mind, so that if necessary he should flee out of the country. Jonathan found Saul full of bitterness of heart toward David, so much so that he was angered at his son for making excuses for him and threw his javelin at him as an evidence of his displeasure, though probably not with the intention of killing him. Jonathan resented the indignities and wrong of his father, and at once communicated the matter to David by the prearranged signal related in this lesson. However, the two friends could not part without a personal interview, in which they kissed each other, and wept, and bound each other in promises, and called upon God to witness the sincerity of their devotion to each other. Jonathan was evidently fully convinced that David was the Lord's choice for a king to succeed Saul, and, being full of faith and devotion to God, he had not the slightest thought of opposing the divine arrangement. Quite probably, too, in their confidences, David had already told Jonathan of his anointing, assuring him, however, that he would not consider this anointing a proper excuse or ground for any interference with King Saul; that on the contrary, as the Lord had sought him and anointed him, the Lord himself was able in his own due time and in his own way to instal him in authority and power without his stretching forth his hand to do injury to one who already had been anointed of the Lord to this office of king.
We have already noticed that friendship implies like qualities of mind and of heart. The generous love the generous, the noble love the noble, the honest love the honest, the meek love the meek, etc.; but now we call attention to the fact that amongst the Lord's people are not many great, wise or noble--naturally speaking --and that God loves and accepts as his covenant people, friends, children, chiefly those who are not noble by nature. We notice also a love and friendship amongst the Lord's consecrated people stronger and deeper than any earthly tie or relationship--notwithstanding the fact that amongst the Lord's people are "not many great or noble," but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith. How comes this seeming contradiction of a general rule of friendship? We reply that God's love toward us as sinners was not that of friendship but of compassion, and similarly the love of his people for sinners is not that of friendship but of compassion, sympathy, the desire to help them out of their degradation. Not until after we had ceased to be sinners, through acceptance of Christ, were we privileged to become the friends of God and to realize him as our friend. Not until we had ceased to be sinners, and had been accepted in the Beloved, would we become the friends of others similarly transformed, and begin to grow in this quality of friendship--love for one another as brethren, partakers of the holy Spirit.
In a word there are two planes of friendship--a natural plane, on which men of like natural qualities would be drawn together; and a spiritual plane, on which those unlike in natural qualities, but alike in spiritual hopes, aims and ambitions, are drawn still more closely together by the new tie, the new love, which binds not their flesh but their hearts in Christian love and unity.
These New Creatures in Christ Jesus know each other not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. In each other's spirits or new minds there are the noblest sentiments, the highest aspirations, that which is good, true, noble, pure--whatever may be their weaknesses according to the flesh. They love each other from the new standpoint of intention, will, harmony with God, and their friendship for one another grows increasingly as they perceive each other's energy in fighting the good fight of faith against the evil influences of the world, the flesh and the Adversary. Nor tongue nor pen can properly express the love, the friendship, which subsists between these New Creatures in Christ Jesus, to whom old things have passed away and all things have become new.
This does not signify, however, that a parent must have exactly the same love for other children as for his own;--he has a greater responsibility for his own, and should realize it. Nor does it imply that even the saints will all be loved to the same degree. Our Lord, we are told, specially loved some of his disciples. By and by, when perfection shall have replaced imperfection, all "brethren" will be perfect and all neighbors will be brethren beloved. Until then, however, we must love all, but "making a difference"--according to natural obligations and spiritual development.-- `Jude 22`.
As there are nominal Christians and real Christians,
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so there is a nominal love as well as a real love amongst those who profess the name of Christ, and it should be more and more the aim of the Lord's true people to cultivate his spirit, his character, his disposition, his love, his friendship; and that they may be able to cultivate these he has caused the Apostle to present to our attention a most graphic description of the love which is from above. This description is given in `1 Cor. 13`. It must be enjoyed to some extent by all who are New Creatures, for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his; but it will be increasingly enjoyed and appreciatingly understood in proportion as the Lord's people each become stronger in the Lord --copies of God's dear Son--like him who is the friend above all others.
One writer says, "The glory of life is to love, not to be loved; to give, not to get; to serve, not to be served....The self-centered cannot keep friends even when he makes them."
Another remarks, "Behold, what gross errors and extreme absurdities many do commit for want of a friend to tell him of them."
"True criticism does not consist, as so many critics seem to think, in depreciating but in appreciation. More lives are spoiled by undue harshness than by undue gentleness."
"The centered love of any one person tends toward universal good-will, the love of all. The candle not only shines on him who lights it, but on all within reach of its rays."
"Every power for good in true friendship is a power for evil in the false.
"'Was it friend or foe that spread these lies!
Nay, who but infants question in such wise?
'Twas one of my most intimate enemies.'"
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DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--
Enclosed find order for WATCH TOWER. It is indeed a welcome visitor. I only regret not having learned of its true value sooner; and am sure that I cannot be without it again so long as I live and it is published.
It is beyond my power to express my appreciation of the fact that God, through your instrumentality, has called another poor, weary, Truth-hungry soul out of darkness into his marvelous light. Realizing that your work is stupendous, I know your time is very valuable, yet I cannot but trust that you will bear with me while relating some of the instances in which a gentle, unseen hand has been leading in my case, hoping in that way to let you know something of my deep gratitude to our loving heavenly Father and yourself for the truths set forth in DAWN publications --"meat in due season for the household of faith."
At the age of fourteen my Christian life began, and almost immediately the impression came that my life work must be that of a missionary, but I knew not whether it would be in a home or foreign mission field; would trust the Lord's guidance in that particular later. But this I knew, that my life must be devoted to the study of his Word and the service of the same. Preparations were then made for me to continue my school work, and in connection with this I tried to take advantage of every opportunity to aid in the different works connected with the Methodist church, believing that to be the first effort of what I then thought would be my life work. I was permitted to attend and aid in several revivals also, and was asked to aid in another when the president refused to excuse me from my school work. This I could hardly bear, especially when the pastor returned from the meeting and remarked that perhaps a great many more would have been saved had I, or some one else, been there to help him. None save God knew the weight of those words upon my poor heart. For, to view God's plans for the salvation of the world as I did and as most of those in the nominal churches do, causes a burden that our loving Savior did not intend for us to bear when he said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." On the contrary, Babylon teaches that all who are not saved during this age are doomed to eternal misery, and that, if they are not saved, we, to some extent, will be responsible for them; at the same time realizing that hundreds are dying daily without so much as hearing the only name whereby we must be saved, while great congregations in our own civilized country listen, unmoved, to sermon after sermon on the everlasting misery prepared for all except the saints.
Soon the burden of these souls became so great that I could hardly take time to eat and sleep for fear that I would lose an opportunity to warn some one of this horrible place. I could not understand why those who knew of it could refrain from talking about it all the time. But, thanks be to God, he hath recently shown me that his plans for their salvation are far above ours. It required some time and many trials to reach the place where I could lay aside my impatient zeal long enough to hear the "still, small voice," one of the greatest trials being that of failure of health to such an extent that my school work could not be continued even at home. I could not understand why I should be losing (as I thought) so much valuable time, so I first prayed for a restoration of physical health, but no relief came; rather, I grew worse. The burden upon my heart increased daily also until, in utter helplessness, I once again fell at the feet of Jesus longing and pleading for an understanding heart.
How comforting it would have been to have appreciated at that time the following words of our Lord, uttered a short while before his ascension, "Father, I pray not for the world, but for those which thou has given me out of the world."
In a short while a dear sister in Christ who had previously given me some of the DAWN literature (though I was unwittingly postponing my own joy, waiting for God to show me by some miraculous power whether or not I should read it) told me of the chapter in the third volume of the DAWN series on the "Great Pyramid in Egypt" and at the same time called my attention to the fact that the words of our Lord as recorded in `Luke 19:40` are now being fulfilled; that while many of his professed living witnesses fail to recognize his second presence and power, therefore are dumb, the very stones of this Great Pyramid
are "crying out" in no uncertain tones. This being the first beam of light upon my dreary pathway, and proving such a wonderful blessing, I immediately began to read the "Plan of the Ages," and now, having read all five volumes and the first and second ones twice, suffice it to say that its teachings are far more to me than my daily food. Though the way has been difficult and the trials severe, they are nothing when compared with the joys and comfort of the present, and then there is "more to follow"-- "when we shall be like him and see him as he is." O, "Haste along ye ages of glory!"
While feasting upon the fat things of God's Word, as harmonized in MILLENNIAL DAWN, the burden that had been such a weight upon my heart disappeared. Now, how thankful to know that in "due time" all the precious promises contained in the blessed Book, which none save the Lamb is worthy to unseal, shall be fulfilled!
Remember me at the throne of grace that I may yet be prepared as a missionary in the truest sense of the word, --that I may have power to proclaim the "good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people," briefly summed up in these words, Behold the Bridegroom, King and Reaper!
I have been out of school two years, but no longer regret it; rather rejoice in that I have been permitted to enter the school of Christ and to know that he will cause all things to work together for good to those that love him. My physical health is improving also. Oh, that the way may soon be opened up for me to enter the harvest field to be spent in his service! I long to pass the cup of refreshment on to others.
May our dear Lord continue to strengthen and bless you to the end.
Sincerely, yours in the blessed hope,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
As I have been reading and carefully studying the books entitled MILLENNIAL DAWN for nearly five years, and have never written to you to tell you or to acknowledge my thoughts concerning this wonderful plan, I must say, dear brother, from the purest motives, it is a great and wonderful work, full of harmony and divine grace in every expression. In my estimation it far surpasses and is the crowning work of all I have ever read or studied. The unfoldings of this beautiful plan, as it gradually reveals its heavenly splendor, is almost beyond our feeble comprehension, and yet it is made so clear and plain in MILLENNIAL DAWN that all may understand. When I read it I felt sometimes almost dazzled with exceeding rapture, yet conscious of deeper humility than I have ever before experienced, and I have long wished to express my humble thanks to you for revealing to me through these books what is in every way "meat in due season," and for being the instrument through which God has given me the joy and happiness of seeing his word correctly interpreted. From the first I ever read of this wonderful work my interest has deepened every day, and new joys unfold themselves as I understand more clearly our heavenly Father's goodness and love for mankind.
I have been for many years a member of the Christian church at this place, but must confess that there were some subjects on which I never felt entirely satisfied, but since studying God's teachings as set forth in MILLENNIAL DAWN I have become entirely satisfied and am no longer in harmony with the doctrines as taught in our nominal churches. Consequently I have withdrawn my membership from that church, and intend to devote myself to this blessed truth.
I might write for hours and yet be unable to express the pleasure the Truth has given me, so I will not take any more of your valuable time.
Your sister in the Present Truth,
(MRS.) C. R. BUSBY,--Virginia.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--
In one of our Bible study meetings some time ago, some one expressed the thought that it is the duty of the saints to distribute their back numbers of the WATCH TOWER, instead of keeping them on hand unused. Thereupon I began giving them out, one by one, as I had opportunity. In doing this I generally re-read each number before giving it to the person selected; and thus it came about that in nearly every case I would find something that I wanted to keep. Hence the fact that I have quite a stack of old WATCH TOWERS on hand, but not "unused." No, they are very precious to me. Sometimes a number ten years old contains something that just exactly fits my case, and I read it as though I had never read it before--and, in a certain sense, that is really the fact, for ten years-- yes, even two years--ago, I did not understand what consecration meant, and was satisfied with the prospect of "human perfection." Well, the other day WATCH TOWER No. 11, '99, fell into my hands and I read again your article under the title, "The New Life in Christ." I read it very studiously twice, before laying it aside. It is indeed food in due season to me. I have already written to a very dear brother directing his special attention to it, and I am sure he will be blessed in the reading of it.
"Finishing Touches of Christian Character," No. 20, 1901, is another "nugget" I have just found--grandly instructive and edifying.
Referring to a remark contained in one of your letters of a year ago I wish to say: Yes, dear brother, I am learning --slowly but surely--and can assure you that I am more willing now than a year ago to serve to the utmost of my little ability, even unto death. And my daily prayer is that I may be used of the Lord as one who has no will of his own, and therefore no disposition to dictate terms, time, place or kind, as to the work the Lord may be pleased to direct me to.
Your brother in Christ our Lord and Redeemer,
J. D. GEHRING,--Kansas.
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MR. CHARLES T. RUSSELL:--
Dear Sir: I have had the pleasure of reading one of your books and have become very much interested in it. I am a young man who, having lost both father and mother at the age of 4, was sent to a Catholic institution in New York State. There I had the fear of hell so pounded into me that often I was afraid to go to bed for fear the devil would take me by the leg. That may sound simple, but it is a fact. After being there ten years, they gave me one dollar and sent me on to New York to make my living. I did not have a friend in the world and could not get work, so before I would starve I stole, and was sent to the penitentiary. When I came out I had no money and nowhere to go, so I went back to prison. That went on till at the age of 21 I landed in Sing Sing prison for five years. Now if I had had some one to tell me how Jesus loved me and would care for me, I would have been a different man; but my life has been blasted and today I am an inmate of an ex-convicts' home; but as I said in the beginning I have read one of your books and it has given me a clearer and a brighter view of God and a better hope in life.
I remain, your brother in Christ,