ZWT - 1911 - R4733 thru R4942 / R4868 (337) - September 1, 1911
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VOL. XXXII SEPTEMBER 1 No. 17
A.D. 1911--A.M. 6039
Mountain Lake Park (Md.) Convention...............338
How the New Creature Fulfils the Law..............339
The Jews Under a Second Condemnation..........339
"Who Shall Deliver Me?".......................340
Keeping Our Garments White........................341
The Precious Blood Alone Can Cleanse..........342
How to Locate Ourselves...........................342
Evidences of Our Acceptance by the Father.....343
Evidences of Backward Leanings................343
The Christian's Attitude in the Duties of Life....344
"The Wisdom From Above"...........................345
The Fiery Furnace.................................346
Disloyalty! Ingratitude! Treason!...........346
In a Den of Lions.................................347
Who Were Typified by the Levites?.................348
Berean Questions in Scripture Studies.............351
Brother Russell in Great Britain..................351
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
BROOKLYN TABERNACLE, 13-17 HICKS ST.,
BROOKLYN, N.Y., U.S.A.
Foreign Agencies:--British Branch: LONDON TABERNACLE, Lancaster Gate, W. German Branch: Unterdorner Str., 76, Barmen. Australasian Branch: Flinders Building, Flinders St., Melbourne. Please address the SOCIETY in every case.
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Terms to the Lord's Poor as Follows:--All Bible Students who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for this Journal, will be supplied Free if they send a Postal Card each May stating their case and requesting its continuance. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually and in touch with the STUDIES, etc.
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MOUNTAIN LAKE PARK, MD., CONVENTION
It is not often necessary to urge people to stay away from a Convention of Bible Students. However, we must do this very thing. By the time this reaches you every reasonably proper accommodation at Mt. Lake Park and at Oakland, will probably have been assigned. We have even put in cots for 600 and expect that these will soon all be engaged. The full capacity is only about 2,500. We supposed this would be ample for our needs this year, because of the Convention Tour. There are still plenty of accommodations at $1.75 and $2 and $2.50 and $3 per day inclusive, but not many can afford these prices.
All future communications respecting Convention accommodations, please address to I.B.S.A. Convention Committee, Mt. Lake Park, Md.
BEREAN STUDY QUESTIONS
We now have prepared pamphlets giving questions on TABERNACLE SHADOWS and on STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. I and Vol. V. Questions on the other volumes are in preparation and will be announced later. These little pamphlets are priced at five cents each--fifty cents per dozen, any kind, any assortment. Indeed all our paper-bound pamphlets, previously sold at ten cents, will hereafter be supplied at the uniform price of five cents each, fifty cents per dozen, including postage. This lower price, averaged up in the pamphlets thick and thin, will about cover the cost, and will permit many more of them to go into circulation.
The Class-Extension has already started many new Berean Classes. All such new Classes, desiring to take up the study of Vol. I, STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, are offered one copy each person of the question pamphlet free--a donation from the Society. This offer stands good until Oct. 1. We made donations of this character to about a dozen new Classes started in the vicinity of Brooklyn and, wishing to be impartial, we throw the opportunity open to all. Order only for the present number of the classes, please.
CROSS AND CROWN PINS
No. 1. Cross and Crown design in ten-karat gold, five-eighths inch in diameter. The crown is burnished. The surrounding wreath is rustic in design--brilliant gold. The cross is of dark red enamel, with only the outlines showing gold. The pin has a patent fastening. Price, $1.15.
No. 2. This is exactly the same as No. 1, except that instead of the pin it has a screw clamp at the back, making it more desirable for men's wear. Price, $1.15.
No. 3. Exactly the same as No. 2, except that it is three-eighths inch in diameter. Price, $1.
No. 4. Exactly the same as No. 1, except that it is three-eighths inch in diameter. Price, $1.
No. 5. Like No. 1, except that it is of silver instead of gold and wreath is washed in green. Price, 35c.
These prices all include postage.
WHEN VISITING New York or London, surely our friends will call at the Society's headquarters. Send mail in our care.
BROOKLYN BETHEL HYMNS FOR SEPTEMBER
After the close of the hymn the Bethel Family listens to the reading of "My Vow Unto the Lord," then joins in prayer. At the breakfast table the MANNA text is considered. Hymns for September follow: (1) 165; (2) 204; (3) 99; (4) 145; (5) 299; (6) 293; (7) 87; (8) 95; (9) 325; (10) 20; (11) 333; (12) 307; (13) 78; (14) 208; (15) 152; (16) 135; (17) 318; (18) 107; (19) 35; (20) 191; (21) 113; (22) 273; (23) 291; (24) 7; (25) 218; (26) 312; (27) 8; (28) 129; (29) 229; (30) 286.
Very Special Convention Rates Have Just Been Granted
us by the South Eastern Railways Association
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HOW THE NEW CREATURE FULFILS THE LAW
IN HIS LETTER to the `Romans` St. Paul goes very far back in his reasoning and brings the subject of Sin Atonement down in logical order to the Christian's standpoint. In the `first and second chapters` he shows how sin entered into the world and why some are more blemished than others. Yet the greater degradation of some does not prove that man originated with the monkey, but that some of the race went down more rapidly in their evil ways than did others. Then the Apostle goes on, "Art thou a Jew and makest thou a boast of the Law?" God gave this Law to the Jews and not to the Gentiles; therefore, only the Jew could get its blessing or its curse. But the Jew thought that the Law was the thing by which he could be justified. In this way he stumbled. The Apostle wished the Jew to know that by the deeds of the Law no flesh could be justified in God's sight. The Jews were seeking for eternal life. The Law Covenant proffered them that eternal life if they would obey it. But they found that they were unable to obey the Divine Law; and that, therefore, the Law Covenant was unprofitable to them; for it gave them death instead of life. No imperfect man can keep God's Law.
In the `fifth chapter` St. Paul proceeds to show how the redemption was provided. Then he continues, saying, Before the Law, sin was in the world. But where there was no Law there could be no transgression of the Law. Before the Law was given the Jew had his share with the rest of the world in a hope of deliverance and blessing; but as soon as the Law came, which he was unable to keep, he was cut off entirely, so far as hope of justification was concerned; consequently, Jews have had two condemnations upon them--the Adamic condemnation and that of the Law--"Cursed by the Law and bruised by the Fall." We see that the Law Covenant could not grant the Divine blessing of life to the Jew because he was unable to live up to its requirements.
THE JEWS UNDER A SECOND CONDEMNATION.
In connection with this argument showing the difference between the attitude of the Jewish people toward God and that of the other nations, St. Paul says, "Sin is not imputed where there is no Law." God had made a special Covenant with the Jews, of which Moses was the Mediator. By obedience to this Covenant they were to have eternal life. The Apostle wished them to see that they did not get eternal life and that the difficulty was that they did not keep the Law. He wished them to see that in this very Law the Jew was condemned. He wished them to see that they were in disfavor. He wished them to see that in covenanting to keep the Law and failing they brought an additional condemnation upon themselves. Sentence had been passed upon Father Adam. He died; and all of his children were born in a dying condition, and legally dead. Thus the Jews were doubly sentenced as compared with the rest of the world, who were all condemned through heredity on account of the one transgression. The Apostle was showing the Jews that there was only one door of hope and that, while all mankind needed a Savior, the Jews needed one more than did any other people in the world. The Jew had enjoyed much advantage and he, therefore, had the more condemnation.
The Jews thought that the Gentiles were worse in God's sight than were themselves. They said, Now think of the rest of the world, eating their mackerel and swine and hares, and doing things that we would not do! Now, says the Apostle, "Sin is not imputed where there is no Law." God has not charged infraction of this Law to any of the nations. You have violated God's Law many times, for if you have broken even one commandment, you have broken the Law as a whole. The arrangement was not that you should have eternal life for keeping certain commandments, but for keeping them all.
The Apostle goes on to say, Death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not know the Law and who did not sin according to Adam's transgression. In Adam all died. The world is under the general condemnation to death, not for sins of their own, but for Adam's transgression. God transferred us Jews from this condition to the Law Covenant arrangement. But we have failed in this second trial and are in more condemnation than are the Gentiles.
Thus the Apostle proved to them that not only the Gentiles needed a Savior, but the Jews also; not only the world outside of Israel, but Israel also; and that because Israel was under a special arrangement with God there needed to be some special work done for their recovery.
Then the Apostle proceeds further to show that Christ, who knew no sin, was made a curse for the Jew; and that thus there is a special provision made by God to release the Jew from condemnation. The special sense in which Christ was made a curse for the Jew the Apostle has stipulated. (`Gal. 3:13,14`.) This was to hang upon a tree--the extreme penalty of the Law. (`Deut. 21:23`.) Christ was made a curse in that He died on the cross. (`I Peter 2:24`.) Such a death would not
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have been necessary for the salvation of the rest of mankind, but it was necessary for that of the Jew.
"WHO SHALL DELIVER ME?"
Taking the standpoint of a Jew under the Law, St. Paul, in `chapter 7`, describes the condition of Israel, saying that the Jew had undertaken to keep the Law, but had come under bondage to that Law; because of the weakness of his body he could not attain life. Then St. Paul cries, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?" He was under the Law which says, Serve God, not only with your mind, but perfectly. This he could not do because of weakness of the flesh. Who would deliver him from this dead body which caused the trouble? His mind was in harmony with righteousness, but he was imperfect. Then he tells us how he got rid of the condemnation of the dead body, that deliverance came through Jesus Christ.
How have we this relief? All who have made consecration and by faith come into Christ are reckoned dead to the flesh and alive as New Creatures. So St. Paul was glorying, neither in the flesh, nor in the Law, but in Christ, who delivered him from this condemnation of the flesh as it would belong to the Jew or to any of Adam's posterity.
In `verse 18` the Apostle says, "In my flesh there dwelleth no good thing"--that is, no perfection. It has imperfection from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head. Although the Israelites sought to keep the Law the reason why they did not do so was that the flesh was weak. So we are to admit that the flesh is imperfect, while the New Creature strives to keep the body under. We are to realize that from the standpoint of Divine Justice we are walking after righteousness--no longer walking after sin. The thought of "walking after" is that we do not catch up, that we are not living up to perfect righteousness, but striving thereto. The New Creature is handicapped by the flesh. And what was true of the Apostle must be true of all the Lord's people. If at any time we have thought we were living up to God's standard of righteousness we have not had the proper conception. If we see what the Lord read into the Ten Commandments, it is this: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God [not with part of the mind, but] with all of thy mind, with all of thy strength; and thy neighbor as thyself. This is the real spirit of the Law and its requirement; and this would be possible only to a being that is perfect. On account of his imperfections man cannot keep the Law; therefore, God has provided redemption and forgiveness of sins through His Son. The world in general will have the opportunity of restitution, of having their minds restored gradually. But for the Church there is a different provision. We present our bodies a living sacrifice, after we recognize the "high calling." Then our High Priest sacrifices us and God accepts it as a part of our Lord's own sacrifice. And eventually we shall secure a spirit body, and not a human body such as Adam had and such as is promised to the world.
DELIVERANCE THROUGH CHRIST
In `chapter 8` the Apostle shows that a way of escape from the condemnation of the Law Covenant was provided for those Jews who come into Christ. Of the Church class he says, "Ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Christ dwell in you." The Church are said to be New Creatures in Christ Jesus. To these "old things have passed away and all things have become new." (`2 Cor. 5:17`.) "The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us who are walking, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
The Apostle intimates to us that if we are in Christ we are keeping God's Law in a way that is impossible to others. But the New Creature is to remember that he has not yet received his new body, which will be perfect and which he will receive in the First Resurrection. In the meantime he has only the body of flesh in which to operate. At death, "It is sown an animal body; it is raised a spirit body." (`I Cor. 15:44`.) The old body was not strong enough to keep God's Law; even with the assistance of the New Creature the body is still weak. Why? Because we are born in sin and shapen in iniquity. Sin has reigned for over six thousand years. The weakness, etc., are all the more intense by reason of the long centuries of sin.
In the statement, "In that it [the Law Covenant] was weak through the flesh" (`vs. 3,4`), the Apostle does not wish us to understand that the Law was weak, for it was perfect. The Law was capable, but the Law Covenant was weak. There was some fault to be found with the Law Covenant, which was weak in that it had an insufficient mediator who could not give a ransom to God for mankind. The same Law Covenant, under a better Mediator, Christ Jesus, will be strong in this particular in which formerly it was weak.
Any of the Jews who could have kept the Law Covenant would have had eternal life, for this was the Divine promise: "The man which doeth these things shall live by them." (`Lev. 18:5`; `Rom. 10:5`.) Those who will be willing and able to keep the Divine Law, eventually, are to have eternal life. All who will not do so are not to have eternal life.
The Apostle says that if righteousness could have come by the Law it would have come thus--instead of by the cross. Father Adam had been condemned. His whole race was condemned in him because of his disobedience. They were unable to keep the Law, hence, by God's arrangement, as by one man sin entered into the world and death as the result of sin, by one man also comes reconciliation, freedom from sin.--`I Cor. 15:21,22`.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW IS FULFILLED IN US
What comfort and consolation are in this assurance! These are wonderful words of life, indeed! They inspire us with hope. If God will accept perfect heart-intentions, instead of the absolute perfection of the flesh, then, indeed, we have hope of attaining to the standard which He has marked for us--the standard of perfection. We can walk after, or according to the Spirit. So far as our mortal bodies are concerned we cannot walk up to the Spirit's requirements; but our minds can walk according to the Spirit; our intentions can be perfect; and what our Heavenly Father seeks in us is perfection of intention and as perfect control of our flesh as possible.
The statement that our Lord condemned sin in the flesh means that He sentenced sin and made possible the overthrow of sin. Sin in the flesh had already been condemned that the world through our Lord might be saved. He demonstrated that a perfect man need not sin, and thus magnified the Divine Law. The question may arise as to whether He did more than magnify the Law. Yes. He made an arrangement whereby the Kingdom of Righteousness shall overthrow sin and bring in everlasting righteousness.
The spirit of the Law that was given to the Jew is upon the New Creature, but not the Law Covenant. We are received of the Lord aside from the Law Covenant. God's Law is not to be ignored. Justice has but one Law
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and that was given to the Jew as the basis of their Covenant. St. Paul goes on to show that as the Israelites did not get eternal life by their endeavors to keep that Law, neither could anyone else get life in that way. But God has made an arrangement through Christ by which this curse of the Law through human weakness will be set aside by the satisfaction of Justice. (`Rom. 8:14`.) The Church is also under the new commandment of sacrificial love.
"Gather My saints together unto Me, those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice." (`Psa. 50:5`.) Those who have accepted this new arrangement give up all earthly interests to become New Creatures. And the spirit of the Law is fulfilled in these, for they are walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit of the Law, seeking to attain, through Christ, the blessed portion to which they are invited--joint-heirship in the Kingdom. Their work with Christ at the present time is to share in the sacrifice, the blood of which, in the end of this Age, will be used in sealing with Israel the New Covenant. When the New Covenant shall be opened to Israel and all the world, it will signify to them an opportunity for eternal life, through the better Mediator, the Anointed Head and Body.
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KEEPING OUR GARMENTS WHITE
"He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life; but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels."--`Rev. 3:5`.
ALTHOUGH there were persecutions of individuals, such as recorded in `Acts`, the early Church as a whole was not subjected to the severest of trials at first. But when the Truth began to spread and had the enmity, not only of the Jews, but also of the Greeks, emperors and governors found favor with the masses by persecuting the followers of Jesus. And for aught we know so it will be in the not far distant future. For a long time the pure Truth has been hidden from men, and worldliness, with a form of godliness, has had the upper hand in influential circles; but doubtless, as the troublous times which the Scriptures predict for the end of this Age draw closer, those who will stand firm for the Word of the Lord's Testimony may expect to be made the scapegoats, under various pretexts.
We shall not be surprised if a considerable amount of persecution develop within the next few years against all the "children of light" who will walk up to that light. John, the beloved disciple, in some measure or degree illustrated or represented the last, living members of the "little flock." Doubtless this was the meaning of our Lord's statement, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" (`John 21:22,23`.) John did not tarry, but a class whom he in some respects illustrated has tarried--a class who see with the eyes of their understanding the visions and revelations which John saw in symbols, in a trance.
There are many reasons for concluding that, while the various messages in the `second and third chapters of Revelation` were given to the seven churches specified and were applicable to them, they should properly have a wider application to the whole Church of Christ, the number seven representing completeness, and the order representing different epochs in the history of the Church. Thus the Church at Ephesus would represent the condition of the Church in the Apostle's day, at the time of the writing of the messages, while the Laodicean Church would represent the Church in our day, in the end of this Gospel Age. The other churches would correspondingly represent different epochs intermediate, between the beginning and now.
To think otherwise would be to attach more importance to those seven comparatively small churches of Asia Minor than would seem to have been appropriate, and would imply an ignoring of other churches larger and more influential than they, as, for instance, the churches at Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Colosse, Philippi, Thessalonica, etc. Furthermore, the details of the message given to these seven churches apply to and fit historically the experiences of the one Church of the Living God, over every member and branch of which the Lord has a care. This thought that the number seven signified completeness, we find emphasized in the other symbolic representations --in the seven golden candlesticks, and seven stars, etc.
The `first three chapters of Revelation` contain particular specifications and general admonitions, not only for the local churches therein mentioned, but for all "overcomers." They apply not only to the different epochs in the history of the Church as a whole, but to different classes in any one epoch in the history of the Church.
IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING OUR GARMENTS UNDEFILED
The words in our text, addressed to the Church at Sardis, or to that epoch of the general Church symbolized by Sardis, are explained by the context. In this Church there was a wrong condition of things, a defilement. Trespasses committed had not been repented of and forgiveness sought from the Lord.
In the context it is stated that the majority of the Sardis Church had not kept their garments undefiled. But "thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments." By these words our Lord seems to emphasize the thought that no one will gain the prize of the "high calling" if he does not keep his garments undefiled from the flesh. Whoever fails to do so will not be of the overcoming class to whom will be given this choice blessing, is the argument. He that would be an "overcomer" must be clothed in white raiment. Any who do not persevere in keeping their garments clean will have their names blotted out. In this connection we remember the words of this same Apostle John, that the blood of Christ washes us, not only from the sins that are past, but also from all stains upon the robe. He says, "The blood of Jesus Christ...cleanseth us from all sin." (`I John 1:7`.) It cleanses us from all unintentional blemishes, spots upon our garments. Whoever does not thus keep himself cleansed will not be an "overcomer." It is only such as observe this cleansing whose names will not be blotted out.
As to our ability to discern whether or not we are keeping our garments clean, only the individual himself can know to what extent he has watched his conduct and kept up his communication with the Lord and daily scrutinized life's affairs, the incidents of the day, and asked forgiveness for shortcomings and trespasses. Others might surmise, but they could not know. We all have sense enough to know what things are right and what are wrong. If the wrong thing seems not very wrong, it would indicate that we are growing careless in regard to our robe. As a result we would have less interest in the Truth, less interest in keeping our robes
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clean, less interest in prayer meetings, etc. Between such and the Lord there would be a cloud, and a condition of leanness would be sure to follow.
The faithful "overcomers" watch and keep their garments clean. "They have not defiled their garments," they have kept them "unspotted from the world." They have not been willing to have sin contaminate them and to separate them from the Lord, but have quickly applied for and obtained the precious blood to remove every stain. They are so heartily opposed to sin and so earnest about keeping their garments unspotted that the Adversary gets no hold upon them--"that Wicked One toucheth them not." All this indicates a full submission of their wills to the will of Christ. They are "dead with Him" and hence could not willingly practise sin.
THE PRECIOUS BLOOD ALONE CAN CLEANSE
Evidently, the majority of the people of Sardis were of the Great Company class and needed to "be zealous and repent"; for they were not in a condition to receive the greatest blessing possible for them. The principle is applicable, evidently, not only to the Church in Sardis, but to the Church in general. The things to be overcome are the difficulties in the "narrow way." These difficulties make the way narrow--all the opposition of our flesh to the things of God, the oppositions of the world in general, and the snares which the Adversary may place for us. The love of self, of popularity, of worldly prosperity, must be overcome, as well as love for man-made creeds and theories.
How gracious is the provision of our God in thus presenting us with the Robe which covers all the repented-of blemishes of the past as well as the unintentional and unwitting imperfections of the present! Under this arrangement it is possible for the Lord's people to walk so carefully, so circumspectly (looking all around at every step), as to keep their garments unspotted from the world. But, alas, how few, if any, there be who have always lived up, in all the past of their Christian lives, to this high standard which alone will insure the keeping of their garments white!
Seeing that any deflection from absolute purity of heart would constitute a stain, a spot upon the robe, we might inquire with great concern, Is there any possibility of having such spots or stains removed and of getting my robe white again? Thank God, yes; there is a way by which the spots and wrinkles may be removed from our robes and leave them once more as white and clean as at first. The stain-remover is the precious blood. As the Apostle says, "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
LET US JUDGE OURSELVES
While all our efforts could not remove a single stain, which the "precious blood" alone can remove, yet it is well for us that while realizing our Lord's forgiveness and the cleansing of our robe, we should promptly seek to discipline ourselves in repentance, otherwise we may expect that while our Lord cleanses our robes in answer to our earnest prayers, He will, nevertheless, put upon us certain chastisements for our correction in righteousness and for the strengthening of our characters along the points of weakness. The Apostle teaches this when he says, "If we would judge [correct, chastise] ourselves, then we should not be judged [corrected, chastised] of the Lord; but when we are judged of the Lord we are chastened that we might not be condemned with the world."-- `I Cor. 11:31,32`.
God's grace cannot admit to heavenly perfection those who have not robes of spotless righteousness; hence, we are shown that those who have not cared for their garments and kept them white must be put through severe experiences before they can in any sense of the word be sharers of heavenly favors. These severe experiences are shown in the symbol as washing their robes in a great tribulation. But to show that not penance nor sufferings would cleanse the robes, it is particularly stated that the efficacy for the cleansing is the "blood of the Lamb." Many will be thus purified, purged; and their garments,
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now soiled by contact with the world, will be cleansed of every guilty stain when they, realizing the folly of their course, shall repentantly appeal to the Lord and use His help.
We rejoice that these will ultimately sing praises to the Lord and be glad in His wondrous grace. But we note that even after their robes shall have been washed white in the blood of the Lamb, during the time of trouble, they will wear no crowns; but, having finally overcome, they will be granted "palms" as emblems of their victory through Christ; and although they can never be of the living Temple of which Christ is the Head, we are told that they shall be servants in that temple; and although they shall never sit in the Throne, they will be highly privileged to serve "before the Throne. Grand and glorious privileges will be theirs; but they will lose the great "prize," having sold it for the mess of pottage of present seeming advantage, which proves unsatisfying and brings bitter results. What exhortation to holiness, to complete consecration to His will could be stronger!
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HOW TO LOCATE OURSELVES
ADMITTING that we might not be able to locate others in relationship to the Divine Plan, should we not be able to locate ourselves? If so, how?
We should be able to locate ourselves in respect to God's grace. If we know the various steps to be taken and corners to be turned, we should know just how many of these we have taken and just where we are. Perhaps the following notation of the steps of a righteous man called of God to joint-heirship with His Son will help us:--
(1) A longing for righteousness, truth, purity, implies a drawing from the Lord along the lines of the less depraved parts of our fallen nature. Our first response to this drawing is to seek righteousness and seek meekness. To such the Lord says, "Draw near unto Me and I will draw near unto you." Numerous steps may be taken after the first one of turning our back upon wilful sin. Each step will bring us a little nearer to the Lord and to righteousness, and should show us more clearly than before that "in our flesh dwelleth no perfection," that we cannot live up to even our own estimate and interpretation of the Divine Law--that we need grace and
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help from on high. This entire course is one of justification in the sense that it tends to harmony with God and His righteous requirements.
The soul that thus has reached the place where it cries out to the loving God by this time sees clearly the need of the Savior and that Jesus is the Redeemer. It hears the message, "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." It responds, "Lord, gladly will I go to the Father through You."
(2) The reply of Jesus as to what are the terms of
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discipleship point out the next step in the way to God and, accepted, brings the blessing. Our Lord's words are, "If any man will be My disciple, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." The Master does not urge haste in decision. The haste is left to the suppliant, whose love of righteousness and desire for fellowship with God will be measured by his haste in accepting the terms of discipleship. To one and all the Master says, "Sit down first and count the cost." Do not put your hand to the plow and then draw back. Those who take years to count the cost will very rarely win the prize, we may feel sure. The reasonable course is to weigh the proposition--the giving up of self with earthly hopes, aims, prospects, joys, entirely into the Father's hands as living sacrifices, with the prospect of suffering, trials, testing, proving in the present life, and, if faithful, glory, honor and immortality on the heavenly plane. It should not require long for a mature person of loyal heart to realize that the Lord's service is a desirable one and that the price, our little all, is insignificant. The zealous and faithful will speedily say, "Here, Lord, I give myself away; it is all that I can do."
Then comes the Redeemer's part. In harmony with the Father's Plan He now stands as Advocate for all such as have come unto the Father through Him. He advocates their cause as their representative in the heavenly court, approving of them and of their consecration, having, additionally, by the imputation of the merit of His own sacrifice, made up for their deficiencies, that they may be made the righteousness of God through Him. We see that the Advocate thus presents our name and covers our blemishes, and our sacrifices are accepted of the Father--up to the time when the last member shall have been received--up to the time when the door to this high calling shall have been closed, when the last of the wise virgins shall have entered beyond the veil.
The Father's acceptance of us is indicated by our adoption and begetting of the Holy Spirit and the commencement of the sealing--the impressing upon us, as New Creatures, of the Divine likeness, disposition or spirit. We should all know very positively whether or not we have taken these two steps. If we have not, it is useless for us to look further.
EVIDENCES OF OUR ACCEPTANCE BY THE FATHER
(3) The begetting of the Holy Spirit in the early Church was indicated by certain miraculous gifts, but this was for a special purpose in connection with the establishment of the Church. As Paul pointed out, those gifts were intended to pass away. (`I Cor. 13:8`.) They were given by the "laying on of the hands of the Apostles." (`Acts 8:18`.) Hence after the death of the Apostles these gifts were not bestowed upon any. And when those who had received the gifts died, the gifts themselves ceased--thus passed away. But instead of the gifts came the fruits of the Spirit as evidences or proofs of acceptance by the Lord and induction as members or branches of the Vine. The fruit buds are small at first. They need and have the Husbandman's care. He prunes us--he cuts away the earthly things to which we are prone to cling. He leaves us without much earthly support except that which is connected directly with the Root, the Vine. Thus cut off from earthly ambition in harmony with our consecration unto death the Spirit of the Lord comes into us more and more, producing fruits of the Spirit, even as the juices of the vine go to the branches and its clusters. Such prunings are an evidence of our membership in the Vine and our fellowship in the sufferings of Christ; for the Heavenly Husbandman thus treats all true branches of the True Vine. We should begin to see fruits and graces. Our energy should be manifested in a variety of ways towards the Lord, towards His brethren and toward all mankind, in proportion as we have contact with them.
Amongst other indications of Divine favor would be fellowship with the Lord in prayer and through His Word --a love of the Divine Plan, a delight in everything that is righteous, just, true, noble--a desire to promote all such interests to the extent of our opportunities. Another evidence of faithfulness would be our being accounted worthy to suffer reproaches and persecutions for the Lord's sake and the Truth's sake--and our acceptance of these as of Divine providence.
A further indication of our harmony with the Lord would be in our increased appreciation of His Word, a deeper insight into its precious teachings and an increasing pleasure in serving it out to others--not for vainglory, not that they might think something of us, but for the Lord's glory and for the good of those who desire to know His will.
EVIDENCES OF BACKWARD LEANINGS
But some may fail to attain to these depths and heights and lengths and breadths of blessing, of privilege. They may content themselves with little of the Lord's Truth and grace, little of the fellowship of the brethren, and, proportionately, more of the world's. These are failing to perform their Covenant and obligations of zealous sacrifice. They may be good and honorable and kind. They may be loyal to the Lord to the degree of not wishing to do anything contrary to His will; but they are failing of the extreme of loyalty, namely, of the anxiety to know and to do. These are in danger of being counted unworthy to be in the Bride Class and of being consigned to the larger company of the loyal but less faithful. Even to attain this honor and position they will need to be put through trials, sufferings, difficulties, the destruction of their flesh. But they will not have the high reward because of failure to run the race with zeal. Some may even have attained to all the glorious privileges of consecration, service, knowledge, etc., and then become cold, careless, overcharged with the cares of this life, and thus bring forth less fruit and not be counted worthy of membership in the Bride Class. Nevertheless the Lord will deal with them, if they are truly His, to chasten them and, if possible, to prepare them for the "great company" class, even though this may necessitate great tribulations.
Evidences in our day of a condition of unfitness for the "little flock" and danger of missing it would be a worldly spirit, a careless spirit, a love of the world, a slackness of zeal for God, for righteousness, for the brethren, and a failure to use opportunities and to seek for others for the furtherance of the praises of "Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light"--a failure to go on to a greater development in the fruits and graces of the Spirit. A loss of love and zeal for God and His cause and the brethren follows and an increasing dimness of the Divine Plan already seen and recognized. The extreme of this condition is "outer darkness"--a blindness to heavenly things of the Divine Plan such as covers the world of mankind in general--without the illumination of the Lord's Word and Spirit.
As for those who commit "the sin unto death": It is scarcely necessary to discuss these, because persons who reach this hopeless condition rarely, we believe, realize it or are able to comprehend their own situation. So long
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as there is a fear of the Second Death and a desire for eternal life and a desire for harmony with God, there is hope. Two classes are described as being "twice dead, plucked up by the roots." One is a class which, after having received the holy things of God as New Creatures, turn back to the world, to its aims, its pleasures, its desires, its ambitions, its sins. These, completely repudiating the covenant of sacrifice, are in a hopeless condition as respects the future life. But we may perhaps say, fortunately, they do not realize their position, but rather feel the contentment of the dead world; or, perhaps, worse than the world, they are acrimonious and bitter against the members of The Christ and against the Truth, which they once appreciated but have left. Another class who go into the Second Death are pointed out as guilty of doctrinal deflection--the renouncing of the Redeemer, the loss of appreciation of the merit of His sacrifice and of the opportunities which that sacrifice secured to us in the way of sacrificing.
We are also asked respecting our Lord's statement, There shall arise false Prophets and false Messiahs who shall show great signs and wonders, in so much that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. We are asked whether these very elect refer to the "little flock" or include the "great company." We reply that evidently "the very elect" means the faithful. All of the Spirit-begotten ones are counted in as of the elect, for, so long as they are faithful, they are the very elect. It would appear that these words of our Lord did not refer to something specially of our day, but rather to something that has applied for centuries, just as wars and tumults have progressed for centuries. One entire chapter in STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. IV., is devoted to the examination of this great prophecy and we refer our readers to a fresh study. The false teachers and false Messiahs who have deceived many are represented today, we believe, by some very large and very prosperous denominations which are deceiving themselves and millions
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of others into supposing that they are the True Church, the True Messiah, the True Vine of the Heavenly Father's right-hand planting. On the contrary, branches of the True Vine may be in these different denominations, but the earthly institutions themselves belong to what the Scriptures designate "the vine of the earth," the fruitage of which will soon be gathered into the wine-press of the wrath of God. (`Rev. 14:19`.) God's saintly ones down through the Age have been more or less in contact with these great systems, anti-Christ systems, deceived and deceiving systems. But "the very elect," the saintly, as members of the true Body of Christ, will not now be allowed to mistake these systems for the true Church. The Lord guides them that they are not ensnared.
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THE CHRISTIAN'S ATTITUDE IN THE DUTIES OF LIFE
"Not slothful in business; fervent in
spirit, serving the Lord."--`Rom. 12:11`.
THE WORD business has a very broad signification. Whatever we do we are to do all unto the Lord; or rather, whatsoever we do we should do altogether unto the Lord. With the Christian, the chief business of life is to glorify God, to serve Him and, incidentally, as directed by the Lord, to serve the brethren, to serve the Truth, to serve righteousness, to serve all men as he has opportunity, "doing good unto all, especially to the household of faith." In our text the word business seems to include any occupation, of any kind, that would be approved of the Lord. It would not do for us to say, Be not slothful in the liquor business or the tobacco business, for we are to give our attention only to those occupations which we believe have the Lord's approval.
The expression, "not slothful," is equivalent to the expression, not lazy, not indolent. The Apostle's thought seems to be that any matter proper to be done should have the intelligent and active attention of him whose duty or privilege it is. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing zealously, well. The Apostle's thought is that we are, first of all, to see that our business is a worthy one; and secondly, to prosecute it faithfully. If it is to provide money for either our personal needs or the Lord's work, we should prosecute that business with energy, with alacrity and with appreciation of the privilege, as done to Him. We should not be slothful or careless in any way.
A certain amount of provision for our temporal need is necessary. How much time is to be given thus is a thing for each to determine for himself. After we have made a consecration to the Lord, to give our lives in His service, there is very little we can give at best. We should see that we "redeem the time," buy it back from the affairs of this life, as far as reasonably possible, in order to secure the more of it for the special service of promulgating the Truth. This does not mean that we should leave our families dependent upon others. We should care for our proper interests. We should not be overcharged, but should have a proper care for those dependent upon us. As for our own requirement, having food and raiment, we should be content and not wish to accumulate for a long period of life.
The word fervent signifies very hot, to boil. The thought that the Apostle gives its that whatsoever we do we should do heartily, with our might, as unto the Lord. The one who takes the course of doing whatever he does in a careless manner forms a slothful habit, which is a drag on him all through life. Whatever we do we should do fervently. We are the Lord's and whatever business we have is His. The Lord is pleased that we should be energetic in our affairs. If any one is in a business where he is violating conscience, he should get out of it into one in which he could do some good in the world.
SHOULD NOT BE BURDENED WITH ANXIOUS CARE
The Lord's people should not worry or take anxious thought respecting tomorrow. The Scriptures imply, however, that we should be provident and careful, laying by in store, that we may be prepared to do something for neighbors and friends who may need. Dollars laid by merely represent so many days of labor saved. We should not use all of our resources upon the immediate present, but exercise self-control, to the end that we may have good results in the future. This rule will apply to food and clothing, also. If our store is small, we should not wonder where the next suit of clothes will come from. If we had the next suit it might be stolen. Neither should neighbors and friends turn against me? What if I should get into great disrepute on account of the Truth? We should leave all such things to the Lord. If we need persecutions, we hope that He will let them come to us. If in the way He chooses to make the Truth worth something to us, we should be glad. "All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."--`2 Tim. 3:12`.
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On the other hand, the Lord does not intend us to go through life in a careless manner, happy-go-lucky, so to speak. We are to have a proper thought for the day. What are the responsibilities of today? What are the cares? As the Scriptures enjoin, be "not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." We are to have a great deal of zeal. We are not to worry over things that may happen tomorrow, but have faith that God will be with us tomorrow, and given grace sufficient for us when it shall come. If the Lord's people are living faithfully they will have a great deal to think about every day. They will not need to go out in advance to worry about tomorrow. We shall have plenty to do if we give attention to the present difficulties, and go to the Throne of Grace that we may obtain grace and strength to help today.
Our Lord assures us that if the main thought of our hearts is concerning His service and the promotion of righteousness and the attainment of the Kingdom which God has promised to them that love Him, then we need carry no anxious cares respecting the future. As His disciples we shall have trials and tribulations enough day by day, and shall need daily to lean upon the Bridegroom's arm as we seek to walk the "narrow way." Sufficient for each day will be the evil of itself; and thanks be to God, we have also His promise that daily His grace shall be sufficient for us.
To those who are the Lord's consecrated people it is the greatest privilege imaginable to serve the Lord. The Lord is looking to see to what extent we are willing to sacrifice earthly things, earthly approval, that we may have His approval and hear His "Well done!"
Let all who would run the race successfully look well to their zeal and activity in the Lord's work. If we bury our one or many talents under a weight of worldly cares and encumbrances which might be avoided or set aside; if we bury them under worldly ambitions for either self or family--whether this be by wasting consecrated time upon science, philosophy, music, or art, or upon business, politics, or pleasures, or in pampering pride and appetite-- then, as unfaithful servants, we shall sooner or later go into "outer darkness."
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THE WISDOM FROM ABOVE
--`DANIEL 1:8-20`.--SEPTEMBER 10.--
"It is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth."--`Romans 14:21`.
WE HAVE NOTED the cruelty of the kings of olden times. It is appropriate, therefore, that we note also certain instances in which they manifested great breadth of generosity and wisdom. Today's study illustrates this. Amongst the earlier captives brought by Nebuchadnezzar from Jerusalem some twenty years before its destruction were four young men of evidently noble birth and religious training. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. These captives were not maltreated nor enslaved, in the ordinary sense of the term. Their intellectual qualities were discerned and they were put into a superior school that they with others might be fitted to constitute a board of wise men, counselors of the king. So different is all this from the nepotism, "graft" and "pool" of our day that it seems almost incomprehensible.
At the same time the instance was an overruling of Divine providence by which not merely rebels against God in Israel were suffered to be captured and deported, but some also who were most loyal of heart to the principles of the Divine Law. We may here learn a lesson of how God is able to make even the disasters of life work out blessings for those who are truly loyal to Him even as Daniel and his companions were blessed and prospered in the enemy's land, and advanced to positions far higher than they would ever have attained in their own land.
ADVANTAGES OF ABSTEMIOUSNESS
The young Hebrews were attached to the king's household, and were provided with extraordinary delicacies, including spirituous liquors. The policy of the king in providing sumptuously for all the students, who were from various lands, was that, being well nourished, they might be in their best physical and mental condition. This lesson shows that it is a mistake to suppose that high living is specially conducive to intellectuality--not to mention spirituality.
From the very beginning, under God's providence, the deportment of Daniel brought him into special favor with the prince of the eunuchs who had in charge the temporalities of these students. There is something in a meek and quiet spirit that is impressive; and as a rule such a spirit comes only from a proper, religious training. To this eunuch Daniel, and his associates through him, appealed, requesting that instead of the fine food and liquors provided they might have a plain, vegetable diet.
The eunuch replied that he would be very glad to comply with the request, only he feared that when examination time should come, these four Hebrews, fed upon the plainer fare, would appear to a disadvantage and cause a reflection upon himself and possibly cost the loss of his position, if not indeed the loss of his life. Daniel, however, appealed for a trail of the matter for ten days, agreeing to abide by the results. At the end of this short time, comparison showed that the four young men who practiced abstemiousness were fairer and fatter in flesh that were those who shared the king's bounty; so their request was granted.
Of them we read, "Now as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams." At the end of the period of their preparation, the king communed with the students, "and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah...and in every matter of wisdom and understanding concerning which the king inquired of them he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in his realm."
What was the secret of this wisdom and understanding? Did not the secret lie in the blessing of God and in the fact that these young men sought to devote their lives to the doing of the Divine will--to the doing of righteousness? Thus we see that our hearts and minds can be free from selfish motives, free from superstition, free from fears, free to do the will of God at any cost. Such minds anywhere, at any time, are scarce. Such minds always develop wisdom. On the other hand, sensuality, selfishness, the grinding of personal axes, always becloud the judgment. What we need today in every walk of life is consecrated men of the stamp of Daniel and his companions --whole hearted men--who will give their best for the service of their fellow men in whatever sphere their
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lives may be cast. The world has grown wiser (?) since those days. Today a Daniel would not get into such a position of influence; or if, perchance, he did get there, it would be a miracle if he were not removed--such a miracle as has kept Judge Lindsay of Colorado in office for several years in spite of every pressure of high handed politics which has sought to crush him because of his faithfulness to the principles of righteousness.
Although Babylon has passed away, although few of us can be Daniels or have his high position and wonderful opportunity, nevertheless the thing that is really needed is the Daniel spirit, and that is a possibility with every man and with every woman--young or old. "Dare to be a Daniel!" Alas! how few appreciate the privilege, how few are emulating the Daniel spirit.
Christians throughout this Age are in a condition very similar to that of Daniel. The great King of Glory has them in the school of Christ. He wishes to select a few to be joint heirs in the Messianic Kingdom when it shall be established. The test of examination will come in the end of this Age. Those who will then be found worthy will be such as have had the Daniel spirit of devotion to God and to the principles of righteousness--willing to lay down their lives in the service of the Truth--followers in the footsteps of Jesus. Of these the Lord speaks, saying, "They shall be Mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up My jewels."--`Mal. 3:17`.
"WHEREBY THY BROTHER STUMBLETH"
Our text gives the thought that in addition to our consideration of what is best for ourselves in the way of food and drink, to enable us to best serve the Lord, we should also have a mind as to the effect of our influence on our neighbors. The more noble our characters the greater will be our influence upon those who are naturally weaker. And that influence should always be used for the good of others, for the lifting up of the highest possible standards of thought, word and deed. Whatever will assist us in this direction should be considered, and should be to us as a command from God, who has said, "do good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith."
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THE FIERY FURNACE
--`DANIEL 3`.--SEPTEMBER 17.--
"The Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."--`Heb. 13:6`.
YEARS PASSED after the narrative of our last study. King Nebuchadnezzar had advanced the four Hebrew captives to positions of honor and trust. Just where Daniel was at this time we do not know, but his three companions, given new names, were governors of Babylonian provinces.
Nebuchadnezzar had conquered the world. He was the first to grasp the thought of the wisdom of having a universal government which would make wars to cease to the ends of the earth. He conquered the world and treated their rulers who were obedient with a measure of wisdom and justice and cruelly destroyed the others as a lesson illustrative of his indomitable power. His Kingdom, composed of various nations worshipping various gods, he wished to cement into one harmonious whole. He instituted
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a great peace celebration and brought his representatives from different parts of the then civilized world to Babylon; and with them came representatives of all nations. These were to be duly impressed with the greatness and magnificence of the Babylonian Power and of the futility of resisting it. They were to be given an illustration of the benefactions to result from having one government and having the entire world at peace.
Thus seen it was benevolence as well as wisdom which was at the foundation of Nebuchadnezzar's scheme. He had doubtless heard that the Israelites from of old were inspired by a certain promise from their God that at a future time their nation should be made the dominant one for the ruling and the blessing of all nations, kindreds, peoples and tongues. Nebuchadnezzar considered this theory of the Jews a wise one, and himself the opportune person to be the blesser of the world in the name of his god, Bel-Merodach. Had not his god given him victories, he reasoned? Were not he, therefore, and his nation, the properly qualified ones for the great work of blessing the world? He would at least make the endeavor, no matter what the cost.
GOLDEN IMAGE OF BEL-MERODACH
Nebuchadnezzar would honor the god whom he believed had given him his victories. He would make him the god of nations. The people from every part of his domain should be committed to the worship of this one god, that the having of one religion might help to cement the various incongruous elements of which his kingdom was composed. As a preparation for the great peace festival, a broad plain for maneuvers of the troops and gathering of the princes and nobles and visitors was selected. In the midst of the plain a golden image of Bel-Merodach was erected--ninety feet high. It is not necessary to assume that the image was of solid gold, although Herodotus mentions a statue at Babylon of smaller size which was of solid gold, weighing forty-three thousand pounds.
When the great day of celebration came, with the governors, princes, captains and provincial rulers, the judges, treasurers, counselors and lawyers in their various robes of office and surrounded and interspersed with the delegates from various nations, the banners flying and the musical instruments playing, it must have been an impressive sight. We may sympathize with the victorious Nebuchadnezzar in a certain measure of pride in the achievements of that hour and the peace program which it was to celebrate. Thus far his rule had been one of conquest; thenceforth, everything conquered, the world was to have a great time of peace, prosperity, jubilation.
At the appropriate time the religious unity of the empire was to be demonstrated by a general worship of the golden image of Bel-Merodach. Proclamation was made that soon the bands would begin to play and that then all would be expected to fall down and worship and reverence the image which represented Nebuchadnezzar, in that it represented his god.
DISLOYALTY! INGRATITUDE! TREASON!
Everything seemed to go well until it was reported to the king that three governors whom he had set over provinces had rebelled against his decree and refused to worship the image of Bel-Merodach--had defied the king's power--for like all mandates of olden times, the penalty for disobedience was so severe as to leave no room for opposition in a sane mind. Who were these three disturbers of Babylon's peace, spoilers of the great peace festival? They were the three young Hebrews whom the
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king had so graciously treated at the time of their captivity, who apparently owed so much to him. He had not only given them schooling, but he had exalted them to high positions in his empire. How ungrateful to their benefactor, how traitorous they were!
This, undoubtedly, was Nebuchadnezzar's view of the affair. Of all the governors he would be most sorry to lose these three who were so reliable, but on such an occasion he could never permit insubordination to his regulations, nor could he think it possible that these three men, now about thirty-five years of age, would challenge his authority and power knowing, as they must, his autocracy. The king, in further leniency, would give these headstrong governors further chance for their lives-- for their all. The trumpets would again sound, and if they still persisted, the decree of death must be executed against them. The fiery furnace was ready.
The courage of these three Hebrews stands out on the pages of history as sublime. The king reminded them that none of the gods had been able to deliver any people out of his hand; their own city, Jerusalem, had been overthrown. They could hope for no succor, no rescue from the death that was before them if they persisted in defying the king of the whole earth. Their answer was that their God, Jehovah, they were sure was quite able to deliver them from the fiery furnace, or from anything He might choose, and would do so. But if not --if He did not deliver them--and if they were certain of it in advance--nevertheless, they would be His faithful servants and worship Him alone. How sublime their faith and their courage! Such faith and such courage we may be sure is pleasing to the Lord. We must not expect that in every case God will thus deliver those who trust in Him; rather, as these Hebrews intimated, we are not able to know the wise plans of our God, nor what may be His will respecting what little remains of our lives. But of His power and love we are confident. We can trust Him where we cannot trace Him.
THE FURNACE SUPER-HEATED
When we read that King Nebuchadnezzar became furious, we should sympathetically remember the circumstances. He had conquered the world, and would he now be defied by three men whom he had made what they were? He was giving a great lesson to all nations on the very subject of the necessity of obedience to his government. Could he allow some of his own representatives to defy that government? On the other hand, his appreciation of the men he was about to slay had been evidenced by the exaltation he had given them. Can we wonder that under all these conditions he felt furious? He was seriously disappointed at the only inharmony that had occurred in connection with his great project which he felt sure was to work such blessings to all the earth, and such honor to himself. In his fury he commanded that the furnace should be made seven times hotter--evidently forgetting that thereby the sufferings of anything cast therein would be diminished.
Recent explorations show that in that vicinity there were naphtha wells; for all we know this may have been the fuel used in the great, open furnace. The three Hebrews were bound in their clothing, and some of the strongest men of the king's guard were commanded to throw them into the furnace. As the bound men were thrown in, the flames came forth and enveloped those who had thrown them in, and destroyed them. A Jewish legend tells that the fire streamed out seventy-five feet, perhaps driven by a gust of wind, or perhaps occasioned by the simultaneous throwing in of additional fuel, especially if that fuel was naphtha. The king already had had some evidence of the power of Jehovah God, and intently watched the furnace. But surely the young Hebrews who had such faith in Him were foolish. Yet as the king looked toward the furnace, to his utter astonishment he beheld four persons walking in the midst of the fire, unharmed. He went as close as safety would permit, saying to his counselors, "We cast three men into the furnace, but behold, I now see four, free, walking in the fire, and the fourth has an appearance like a son of the gods!"
What had he done? What should he now do? He called to the three, "Ye servants of the Most High God, come forth and come hither." They came, unharmed, and not even the smell of scorching was upon their clothing. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the miracle and praised the God who had thus by His angel of power delivered His servants that trusted in Him and who defied the king's mandates and yielded their bodies that they might not serve nor worship any god except their own God. "Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him."
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IN A DEN OF LIONS
--`DANIEL 6`.--SEPTEMBER 24.--
"The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them."--`Psa. 34:7`.
AT THE TIME of this study Daniel was an old man. He had been long in service, wise and faithful in his administration of the government entrusted to him. He had seen the Babylonian Dynasty perish. In its place came the empire of the Medes and Persians. By these also Daniel's grand character was recognized--his loyalty to principle, his faithfulness as a public servant, his obedience to God and the principles of righteousness. The new Universal Empire was divided into one hundred and twenty provinces with one hundred and twenty governors. Over these were three presidents. Over these presidents was King Darius,
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above whom, as chief emperor, was Cyrus. Daniel was one of the three presidents, made such because of his recognized integrity and ability.
What a compliment was thus paid to this noble, consecrated Jew, and how the recognition of his ability marks the breadth of mind of some of the rulers of the past! Their desire to have such a man in high repute and authority seems to evidence their good intentions in respect to the governing of the world. Indeed, we believe that this is true also of many noble minded, modern monarchs--that they give to their subjects the best government of which they are capable, according to their own imperfect judgments.
That which will specially mark Messiah's Kingdom will be that it will not only have perfect ideals in respect to human government, but that it will be backed by Divine power, before which every knee shall bow and every tongue shall eventually confess.--`Phil. 2:10,11`.
ENVIOUS OF DANIEL
From all that we know of the governments of the Orient, present and past, they have been full of dishonesty, of what in our day is designated "graft." As an illustration: it is said that in the China-Japan war,
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contracts for cannon and other war materials were given to manufacturers closely allied to government officials, and that the most shame-faced dishonesty was practiced--for instance, that wooden cannon were delivered and mounted upon fortifications, while the contract money, which was paid for the genuine article, went to the thieves. A man like Daniel, in so important a place as that which he occupied as one of the three presidents or supervisors of a great empire, was sure to be in the way of grafters--a hinderer of their schemes. Realizing that he could not be deposed, the first step was to find some fault with him which would secure his removal; but the man's integrity and uprightness in general gave no hope in this direction.
Finally a scheme was concerted. They knew that Daniel's religion lay at the foundation of his entire course in life. They must involve him along the line of his devotion to his God or not at all. King Darius, like every other man, was approachable through flattery. It was a custom of the East to closely associate the king with religion. He was supposedly a favorite with his god, else he would not enjoy so high a station.
Working upon this theory, the conspirators, high in office, approached the king with a project which they assured him would help to make strong and united the various parts of his empire. It was this: that the king should be recognized for a month as the only channel of mediation or access between his subjects and their god or gods. The claim was that such a recognition would elevate the dignity of the throne in the minds of the people. King Darius of course felt flattered and at once agreed to the arrangement and issued an order to that effect--never for a moment thinking of what might be the result in the case of Daniel; and never for a moment suspecting that his counselors were seeking to entrap him and to legally accomplish the death of his most trusted officer.
PRAYED THREE TIMES DAILY
Daniel heard of the decree, but altered not his usual custom of praying three times every day before a window of his house which looked out toward Jerusalem. Morning, noon and night he remembered his God and remembered his vows of faithfulness to Him and called to mind the gracious promises respecting the Holy Land, that it would yet be the center of the whole earth and of God's holy people; that eventually, through these, Divine blessings would be extended to every nation, people, kindred and tongue.
Some one has remarked that, as the sharpening of scythes in harvest time does not mean lost time or energy, so also time spent in prayer is not lost as respects the affairs of life. Unquestionably the best men and women in the world are those who pray, and pray regularly, who bow the knee, as did Daniel. Unquestionably the moments thus taken from earthly affairs are well spent and bring more than commensurate blessings upon the worshiper and all with which he has to do. Unquestionably it is impossible to live a consecrated life in neglect of prayer. What would Daniel have been without his praying time! How would his faith in God have persisted in that heathen land? How would his loyalty to principle have maintained itself in the midst of corruption had it not been for his communion with his Maker? To the Christian this privilege is still further enhanced by a realization that "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous," in whose all-prevailing Name we may approach with courage the throne of heavenly grace, and obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need.--`Heb. 4:16`.
JEHOVAH SENT HIS ANGEL
The conspirators were on the lookout for Daniel. They had witnesses ready to testify, not that they had seen Daniel do anything wrong, but that he had violated the edict which the king had been entrapped into making and signing. The matter was laid before the king and he was reminded that it was one of the principles of the empire that even the king himself could not change or alter an edict once sent forth. King Darius felt himself bound hand and foot and ensnared--trapped. All day he sought means whereby he could avert the consequences of his royal mandate, but he found none. He explained the matter to Daniel, assuring him that he believed that his God was able to deliver him. What a beautiful testimony to the uprightness of Daniel's life!
Daniel was cast into the lion's den and the stone for a door was secured with thongs, the knots of which were sealed with the king's signet, a safeguard against its being tampered with. That night, we are told, was one of great distress to the king. He could think only of his faithful officer, the noble man so unrighteously treated. He was ashamed of the part which he felt compelled to take in the matter. He was abroad early in the morning, after a sleepless night, to call to Daniel, to learn whether or not he were still alive. His joy of heart was great when he learned that he was still safe, that his God had sent His angel to stop the lions' mouths. Daniel was soon lifted from the pit! Daniel was vindicated! His God was vindicated! And the king now made another decree--that those counselors who had thus sought the life of a faithful man should themselves be put to the test by being cast into the same den of lions; and this in their case meant destruction, as the result proved.
Oh, that every Christian could and would live as high above the world's standards as did Daniel, so that their enemies might see clearly that they have no ground for charges except those to their credit; that their God whom they serve is indeed the true God.
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WHO WERE TYPIFIED BY THE LEVITES?
THE LEVITES typified the "Church of the First-born, whose names are written in heaven." This statement--their "names are written in heaven"--implies that they are recognized as a spiritual class--have come into Divine favor.
We are given the history of the Levites as a typical tribe specially representing the first-born; and this history of the first-born refers us back to the time when the first-born of the tribe of Israel were spared on the night of the passover. That night symbolizes this Gospel Age, the time of darkness on the earth, when the Lord is taking out His jewel class. This "Church of the First-born" have passed from death unto life--all of these first-born, representing the entire "Church of the First-born," are represented in the tribe of Levi. Out from amongst these Levites were selected the priestly few, typifying our Lord and those who are faithfully walking in His steps. So the entire "Church of the First-born" will include a great multitude--more than the Body of Christ. The virgins who follow her (`Psa. 45:14`), all belong to this "Church of the First-born, whose names are written in heaven." The work of the Levites in connection with
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the Tabernacle service is, undoubtedly, a symbolical one.
The high priest "went alone once every year"--on the Day of Atonement--into the Most Holy. Apparently the under-priests did not go into the Most Holy on this day (`Heb. 9:6,7`), but into the first Holy, where were the candlestick and the table of shewbread and the golden altar of incense. They, doubtless, typified those who are seated with Christ in the heavenly (`Eph. 2:6`), and are thus much in advance of the general household of faith. The under-priests were the sons of Aaron, and, being of the priestly family, or household, occupied a higher position and had greater rights and privileges than were enjoyed by the remainder of the Levites. The picture of the under-priests going into the Holy seems to correspond to our experiences of the present time and not to our experiences of the future, when we expect to enter into the Most Holy through the rent veil.
The experiences of the antitypical Levites at the present time are different from what they will be in the future. At the present time they are in the Court condition, because only the members of the Body are privileged to go into the Holy and to know "the deep things of God." But when the articles of the Holy had been wrapped up, the typical Levites bore the precious things --were allowed to carry them. They could feel that they had a right to touch them in a general way, but not in
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the same way as the priests. This would seem to imply that none except those who are walking in the footsteps of Jesus could have a deep, full appreciation of the Divine Plan. Others might understand these things in a comparative degree, but not in their fulness.
We are to consider, then, that as the Levites performed a service in connection with the Atonement Day sacrifices, so they will have a special service after the Day of Atonement. On the Day of Atonement, when the people were waiting for the priest to come out and bless them, was not the particular time for the Levites in general to teach the people or for them to learn their important lesson; but, after this Day of Atonement, the Levites were the general teachers of all the people, explaining the Law to them. And so we see that this will be a part of the work of the antitypical Levites in the future. They will have no inheritance in the land and its blessings. They will be associated in the Kingdom work and in the instruction of the people. But just how this will be done we may not now definitely know.
We might also understand that the Levites in the Court very fittingly represent all those who desire to turn from sin and approach God and who are making progress toward complete justification. They are in a justified attitude from the moment they turn from sin and come into the Court. This implies faith and obedience. And so all who are in harmony with God in any sense of the word are, tentatively, Levites; but as to whether they will become actual Levites depends on whether they make entire consecration. If they do not make this consecration they will not receive the special blessings which would entitle them to the spirit plane. We all were in this sense of the word Levites--in the sense of approaching justification, desiring justification, desiring harmony with God and seeking it, putting away the filth of the flesh, etc.--but we did not reach that justification until we presented our bodies living sacrifices and were begotten of the Holy Spirit and the new life was begun by which we passed from death unto life, by which we became the "Church of the First-born" and had our names written in heaven. Any who turn back before presenting their bodies living sacrifices fail to reach the fulness of justification, fail to have the justification to life--they fail in degree of faithfulness to right principle and in degree of harmony with God.
While the Court condition seems to represent at the present time all those who are approaching God and loving righteousness and desiring harmony with Him, it appears as though, with the closing of this Age, there will be an adjustment of matters by which all those who have not come to the point of full consecration and to the point of Spirit-begetting, who would not belong to the household of faith and to the "Church of the First-born," in the absolute sense, will go out and cease to be recognized as in the Court. Meantime, the class who have already made consecration, "presented their bodies living sacrifices," and received the begetting of the Spirit and enjoyed for a time the privileges of being members of the Body of Christ--these, failing to maintain their standing, are represented as separate from the "little flock" class, at the end of this Age. Their condition apparently is represented by the Court condition thereafter.
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"Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have."--`Heb. 13:5`.
THE Authorized Version of the Bible uses the word conversation in the broad sense of conduct, including, not only the words, but the looks and the acts of life. The force of the text,, therefore, is, Let your conduct be without covetousness. How could a covetous thought affect our conduct? As some see others possessed of larger wealth or larger opportunities in the service of the Lord, of better conveniences than they possess, or who are better looking than themselves, etc., they have a spirit, or disposition, of covetousness, dissatisfaction with what Divine providence has shaped for them.
When we say, "what Divine providence has shaped for them," we do not mean that one should make no endeavor for advancement. If a person is happy, he should still strive to attain to something more than he possesses. A certain amount of ambition is laudable. The ambition against which the Apostle is speaking is that of a dissatisfied heart, mind, overlooking the blessings already possessed and desiring the things that he has not. Rather, such a one should say, God could grant greater blessings to me if He chose. I am His child and what, therefore, He grants me in the way of reward for my endeavors must be all right. I shall not envy others their possessions; but I shall wait for the Lord and believe that what He gives me is best for me, and much better than anything I could carve out for myself.
Covetousness is a desire to have, keep, enjoy--especially applied to something that belongs to another and which we do not possess. The principle of covetousness is a principle of selfish desire. It may manifest itself in two ways: First, when it extends to another man's goods; and, second, when it pertains to things already in our possession. This is specially true of Christians, who have given themselves and all they have to the Lord. From the moment of such consecration all the powers possessed or to be possessed belong to the Lord; and to seek to use these for one's self and to refuse to use them in the
service of the Lord would be holding back what belongs to the Lord according to our own arrangement with Him. What distribution should be made of whatever one may have, as the Lord's steward, is to be left to the individual himself. Under some very special conditions another might give counsel, in the way of helping a brother to do a service which he was apparently overlooking, or respecting an element of character which the brother was evidently cultivating, contrary to the spirit of his covenant of sacrifice.
Some of the Lord's dear children fail to realize their privileges of (1) sacrifice, and (2) the cultivation of the spirit of contentment and generosity. There are some who, after being well fed on spiritual manna, permit a selfish craving or a covetous spirit to interrupt their fellowship with the Lord to some extent, hankering for earthly, fleshly, good things, forgetting the wisdom of their Leader, the Lord, and that His love, which has thus far delivered them and fed and led them, is still with them, the same as ever. Sometimes the covetousness is a repining against their lot in life, a desire for more ease and comfort and wealth and social influence than are within reach. Sometimes it is a protest against their share of the aches and pains of the groaning creation and their inability to get rid of these. Sometimes it is a protest against the illness and death of a loved one.
How unwise! Should not those who have been fed on the spiritual manna realize that all of Spiritual Israel's affairs are under the Lord's special supervision? Should they not remember that "He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men," but for their good? (`Lam. 3:33`; `Heb. 12:10`.) Ah! some have found that the prayers of murmurers, even when answered, have brought unexpected drawbacks.
Covetous (selfish) prayers are too expensive. Some have gained wealth and lost the Truth and its service. Some have gained health only to find that with it they gained trials no less severe. Some have had their dear ones restored to them from the very jaws of death, only to wish afterwards that God had not answered their payers, or more correctly, to wish that they had accepted the Lord's wisdom and providences trustfully, contentedly, uncomplainingly. Spiritual Israel should use wisely such things as are within their reach, accepting all as God's gifts with thanksgiving. Their petitions should be for spiritual gifts, including patient endurance and heart contentment, accompanied with heartfelt thanks for blessings already received.
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SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BULLOCK'S BLOOD
Questions.--What did the blood of the bullock represent?
Answer.--The blood presented in the Most Holy represented the life, or life-rights of the one sacrificed; but the blood itself was a symbol of death. When blood is in the veins it is a symbol of life. The blood of the bullock and, subsequently, the blood of the goat, in the hands of the priest, symbolically said, This animal is dead, and here is a proof of it. So the presentation of the blood meant the presentation of this sacrificed life with all the rights appertaining thereto.
Our Lord had certain life-rights when He died. The expression life-rights may properly be used also in connection with an individual who does not have life in the full sense, but who has made a full consecration and has been accepted by the Lord. Such a one is reckoned as having passed from death unto life. In the moment of his having righteousness imputed to him, he passes from death unto life. The Advocate has imputed to that one
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a sufficiency of His merit to compensate for any deficiency; he is thus rendered acceptable and is then in a reckonedly complete condition. He then has life-rights; and it is those life-rights that are said to be sacrificed, or presented to God. In this manner the person may be said to become a member of the great High Priest's Body. Christ imputes to him a sufficiency of merit to compensate for his demerit; and having been made acceptable to the Father by this imputation, he becomes a member of the Body of the great High Priest.
There is a difference between offering our sacrifice and presenting ourselves. Not we, but the High Priest accepts one as a member of His Body, He imputes to that one a sufficiency of His merit to give him life-rights. By virtue of being reckoned perfect, one has life-rights, a condition which permits him to be a sacrifice.
All those life-rights which our Lord possessed when He died were symbolically represented in the blood of the bullock; and with that blood the sprinkling was done in the Most Holy.
There was just one moment when the knife in the hand of the high priest smote and slew the bullock. That moment represented the moment when our Lord, at Jordan, became dead as a man and alive as a New Creature, when "He, through the eternal Spirit, offered up Himself without spot to God." But it was not as a New Creature that He offered up Himself, but as the man Christ Jesus. His spotless humanity was what He there offered. This He did through the eternal Spirit of Sonship and loyalty to God; and this was the opportune moment, the moment foretold in prophecy. Then He was acknowledged a Priest. If Christ were on earth, on the earthly plane, He could not be a priest according to the flesh, not being of the family of Aaron. The only Order of Priesthood, therefore, to which He belonged was a spiritual Order, the one mentioned in the Scripture which says: "Thou art a Priest forever after the Order of Melchizedek." (`Psa. 110:4`.) He was not a Priest according to the flesh, but as a New Creature.
The High Priest came into his office by virtue of his work of sacrifice. The bringing of the bullock into the Court meant its presentation for sacrificial purposes. So with Jesus. When He came to John at Jordan, He made a surrender of Himself. This the Father acknowledged. The disciples of the Lord presented themselves, but they were neither accepted as sacrifices nor begotten of the Spirit, until Pentecost. On that day, while they were waiting, God accepted the sacrifice, and made them priests at that moment.
THE IMPUTATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Question.--Does Christ impute His righteousness to the members of His Body?
Answer.--When we say that our Lord imputes His righteousness, we are not to think that He gives His own righteousness as the High Priest, but that He imputes the merit of His human sacrifice on our behalf. When, as the Man Christ Jesus, He laid down His life, without being under sentence of death in any degree, there was a merit in that sacrifice. The early life-rights, which the Lord laid down, were to His credit, giving Him
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the power of restitution for the world of mankind, the power for their regeneration. But before the merit of that sacrifice is given to the world, it is made the basis of our justification, for the covering of our imperfections. It could have been used for us in restitution, but such was not God's Plan during this Age. Hence, Jesus' merit is imputed to believers who consecrate, and also covers the blemishes and unwitting trespasses of their imperfect earthen vessels to the end of their course.
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND MERIT
Question.--What distinction would you make between the righteousness of our Lord and His merit?
Answer.--The righteousness of our Lord was His right-doing, His right conduct, His perfect character while He was theman, while He was on trial. The merit is the Divine appreciation, the Divine estimation of that character, of that right-doing. Since He ceased to be a man, our Lord has, of course, no righteousness as a human being. That righteousness which was His before His consecration and which He maintained, constitutes a merit in the Divine sight, which is imputed to the Church now, and which is to be utilized by Him in the blotting out of the sins of the whole world, shortly. It is a sufficiency of merit; for one man was sentenced to death and, later, another man was passed upon as worthy of life. This merit, therefore, this value of laying down a life not worthy of death, is at His disposal in the Divine arrangement.
SHOULD BE APPLIED ANTITYPICALLY
Question.--Have we any Scripture to show that the Aaronic priesthood will exercise their priestly office in the Millennial Age?
Answer.--One Scripture that might be understood so to teach is found in the book of Malachi, which says that when the Lord shall come into His Temple, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness."--`Mal. 3:3`.
Some might apply this Scripture to the sons of Levi in a literal way. But we think that it is antiypical, that the Church constitutes the Levitical system and that these are the spiritual Levites whom the Purifier will make ready, that they may offer unto God an acceptable sacrifice, as antitypical Levites and a Royal Priesthood.
BEREAN QUESTIONS IN SCRIPTURE STUDIES
Series VI., Study V., VI., Organization of the New Creation.
(126) Does the foregoing signify that the sisters may never explain to others "the good tidings of great joy?" P. 267, par. 2.
(127) What is the Apostle's advice regarding woman's attitude in Church gatherings for worship and praise? P. 268, par. 1.
(128) To what kind of Church gatherings did the Apostle's restrictions evidently relate? P. 268, par. 2,3.
(129) Did the Apostle Paul favor the "woman's rights" idea? P. 269, par. 1.
(130) What argument on this subject can be drawn from `Eph. 4:11,12`, noting the gender indicated in the Greek? P. 269, par. 2.
(131) Would it be considered "teaching" for a sister to quote the words of the Lord or the Apostles upon any subject under discussion, or to read or refer to recognized publications explanatory of the Scriptures? P. 270, par. 1.
(132) What is evidently the beautiful and appropriate symbolism of this Divine order in the Church, "Let her be covered?" P. 270, par. 2.
(133) What was there in the dress of the High Priest and the under priests which typified this sex-distinction? P. 271, par. 1.
(134) Explain the Apostle's teaching with respect to the sisters wearing a head covering, as stated in `1 Cor. 11:3-7,10-15`. P. 271, par. 2.
(135) Was this a Divine command? and are there good reasons for perpetuating this custom? P. 271, par. 3.
(136) Briefly summarizing, what are the liberties and the limitations of sisters in the Ecclesia? P. 272.
(1) Although the entire Church throughout the world is one, how should each separate Ecclesia be considered, and conduct itself? P. 237, par. 1.
(2) How is each congregation to recognize all other Ecclesias, and expect the Lord to provide for the needs of the Church as a whole? P. 273, par. 2.
(3) While thus looking for special instruments to be used of the Lord, what should be the attitude of the Church toward all such and their teachings? P. 274, par. 1.
(4) What Scriptural authority for expecting one general channel of instruction at the Lord's second presence, and how does this affect the individual Ecclesias with respect to order, discipline, etc.? P. 274, par. 2.
(5) In the selection of elders for an Ecclesia, what should be the qualifications of those who attempt to express the mind of the Lord by voting? P. 275, par. 1.
ORDAINING ELDERS IN EVERY CHURCH.
(6) What is the significance of the word ordain in `Acts 14:23`? P. 276, par. 1.
(7) Is the same Greek word used by the Lord and the Apostles with respect to the ordination of the Apostles, and indeed of every member of the New Creation? P. 276, par. 2.
(8) What was the custom of the early Church? Cite two instances of this method. P. 276, par. 3.
(9) Is there no other word mentioned in the New Testament as signifying to give authority or permission to preach, as the word ordain is now generally used and understood? P. 277, par. 2 to P. 278, par. 3.
(10) What spirit is responsible for the division into "clergy" and "laity?" P. 278, par. 4, first part.
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BROTHER RUSSELL IN GREAT BRITAIN
Thursday, Oct. 12.....................London Albert Hall. Sunday, " 15.....................London Tabernacle. Tuesday, " 17.....................Brighton. Wednesday, " 18.....................Portsmouth. Thursday, " 19.....................Southampton. Friday, " 20.....................Bournemouth. Sunday, " 22.....................London Tabernacle. Tuesday, " 24.....................Perth. Wednesday, " 25.....................Dundee. Thursday, " 26.....................Paisley. Friday, " 27.....................Greenock. Saturday, " 28.....................Glasgow. Sunday, " 29.....................Glasgow. Monday, " 30.....................Motherwell. Tuesday, " 31.....................Belfast. Wednesday, Nov. 1.....................Londonderry. Thursday, " 2.....................Portadown. Friday, " 3.....................Dublin. Sunday, " 5.....................London Tabernacle. Monday, " 6.....................Cambridge. Tuesday, " 7.....................Oxford. Wednesday, " 8.....................Newport. Thursday, " 9.....................Cardiff. Friday, " 10.....................Swansea. Sunday, " 12.....................London Tabernacle. Monday, " 13.....................Northampton. Tuesday, " 14.....................Leicester. Wednesday, " 15.....................Nottingham. Thursday, " 16.....................Sheffield. Friday, " 17.....................London Tabernacle.
STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES
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