ZWT - 1901 - R2748 thru R2928 / R2775 (081) - March 1, 1901
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VOL. XXII. MARCH 1, 1901. No. 4.
Views from the Watch Tower........................ 83
Corroborations of Scripture
Poem: Longing for Home............................ 85
Accepted and Rejected Sacrificers................. 85
Jesus Betrayed and Forsaken....................... 88
Our Warfare Not with Carnal
The Cup Which the Father Pours................ 91
"Ye have Condemned the Just One".................. 91
Interesting Questions Answered.................... 94
Items: Pilgrim Visits Free, etc................... 82
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, "BIBLE HOUSE," 610, 612, 614 ARCH ST., ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $1.00 A YEAR IN ADVANCE. MONEY MAY BE SENT BY EXPRESS, N.Y. DRAFT, MONEY ORDER, OR REGISTERED. FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS, ONLY. SPECIAL TERMS TO THE LORD'S POOR, AS FOLLOWS:--
Those of the interested who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually.
ENTERED AS SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER AT ALLEGHENY, PA., POST OFFICE.
BRITISH BRANCH NO. 131 GIPSY LANE, FOREST GATE, LONDON EAST, ENGLAND.
PILGRIM VISITS ARE FREE OF ALL CHARGES.
We find that some of the friends have refrained from requesting "Pilgrim" visits because they supposed they would be expected to contribute for his railway fare and also for his support.
This is a mistake: the services of the preaching "Pilgrims" laboring under the auspices of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society are absolutely without charge;--nor do they take up any collections. The Society pays their railway and all other expenses out of its funds, which are all voluntary donations, from such as are able and anxious to serve in this manner.
All we ask of the friends visited is that they provide a parlor, hall, school-house or church building for the meetings and that they board and lodge the "Pilgrim" during the two or three days of his visit. We attend to all else.
ONE-DAY CONVENTIONS AND ALLEGHENY MEETINGS.
The Editor has accepted quite a number of invitations for one-day (Sunday) Conventions of late--at points which can be reached by railroad in one night's travel, permitting him to leave Allegheny Saturday night and to get back to his Editorial duties on Monday morning. One of these (D.V.) will be held at Baltimore, Md., on Mar. 10. Another at Wheeling, W.Va., Mar. 24. These are only local conventions usually attended by friends living within a radius of 50 miles.
But some dear friends from neighboring towns who have come to Allegheny at such times have felt a little disappointment at not seeing "Brother Russell" as they expected. We therefore announce, that hereafter such one-day conventions will be arranged for on only the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Brother Russell may be expected to be at Allegheny on the first and third Sundays of each month.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
CORROBORATIONS OF SCRIPTURE TESTIMONY.
GRADUALLY, but surely and relatively swiftly, we see unfolding the various features of the divine plan which the Scriptures have taught us to expect--pointing them out in a general way in advance --namely, preparations for the Millennium of blessing and preparations also for the great time of trouble with which it will be introduced. The testimonies following are all the more forceful because they come from men who, so far as we are aware, have no such expectations as we hold--no such light as we enjoy, relative to the teachings of the Scriptures on these matters.
For instance, many have opposed our presentation of the Bible's teachings on restitution (`Acts 3:19-21`), claiming--
(1) That there would not be standing-room for so many as probably have been born, reasonably estimated at about fifty thousand millions. We answered this by a mathematical demonstration that twice this number could find standing room in either Texas or France, and that the whole earth under good climatic conditions will be ample for all. They then objected--
(2) That the earth can scarcely feed its present population, as attested by the famines in India and southern Russia. We replied to this, that God is able to provide for the fulfilment of all his promises; and pointed out the declarations of the holy prophets respecting these "times of restitution," that then "the earth shall yield her increase" and the "wilderness shall blossom as the rose."--`Isa. 35:1`; `Psa. 67:9`.
Note now how science comes forward to corroborate the Bible's testimony; and let us remember that now is just the time for these things to begin to appear.
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We quote the following from The Saturday Evening Post:--
"THE CHEMISTRY OF SOIL."
"Undoubtedly, one of the most wonderful discoveries of modern chemistry has to do with the soil. It has been ascertained that the most barren land can be made rich simply by adding to it certain mineral elements which cost but little. On this basis it is estimated that the United States will be able eventually to maintain 500,000,000 people--more than one-third of the present population of the world. It is merely a question of supplying the requisite quantities of nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash. The last two are readily obtainable at small expense, whereas the first may be supplied either by furnishing to the soil condensed nitrogen in the shape of slaughter-waste or nitrate of soda, or by planting clover, beans, or peas, which have an affinity for nitrogen and absorb it from the atmosphere.
It is now known that nitrogen is the most important plant food, and inasmuch as this element composes four-fifths of the atmosphere the question is merely to absorb it into the soil. It has also come to be understood that only two per cent. of the material of plants is derived from the soil, the remaining ninety-eight per cent. being drawn from the air and from water. It has been learned that certain species of bacteria absorb nitrogen, and these may be propagated in moist earth, and the earth thus treated sprinkled over the land."
"IN THE WILDERNESS WATERS SHALL BREAK OUT AND
STREAMS IN THE DESERT."--`ISA. 35:6`.
This prophecy bids fair to have a literal as well as a spiritual fulfilment. Already the drilling of artesian wells has reclaimed thousands of acres of arid land in the "American Desert" of the West; but the cost was too great when many of the holes were dry. Now, on seemingly reliable authority, relief has come to Texas along that line. A boy of fourteen years is found to possess what is styled "X-ray sight," so that in the dark he can see beneath the surface of the
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ground; just as the "X-ray" proved to science that certain rays of light can penetrate what we call solid substances; and just as Marconi, in connection with wireless telegraphy, has demonstrated that certain waves of ether pass through solid substances unhindered. This boy can see the subterranean creeks and rivers, and can designate just where the wells should be drilled to get the water so much needed on the surface. Whether this should be considered a lost sense of sight, lost through the fall, and which would return during the "times of restitution," or a special gift intended to help forward in the restitution, we are not yet prepared to give an opinion.
Of this boy's powers the Chicago Record gives quite a lengthy account, from which we quote the following, accredited to "Judge W. Van Sickle of Alpine, a member of the Texas Legislature:"--
"That Guy Fenley, this 14 year-old boy, is possessed of an 'X-ray' sight cannot be questioned. He has demonstrated his ability to see underground streams of water, no matter what their depth may be, on a number of occasions, and the stockmen of west Texas have ample proof of his power in this line. I engaged him to go to Brewster county and locate two wells on the ranch which is owned by D. J. Combs and myself. This ranch is situated in a very dry country, known as the Glass mountains. We had made a vain search for water on this ranch, having sunk a well to a depth of 607 feet at a cost of $1,500 without striking water. This boy has already located two wells on the ranch, one at a depth of 250 feet and the other at a depth of 400 feet, both containing an abundant supply of pure water, and well-drilling outfits are now at work sinking other wells on the ranch with no doubt about securing water.
"There can be no longer any doubt about this boy's wonderful power of sight, because instances are numerous and notoriously known where his 'X-ray' gift, or whatever it may be called, has been proved beyond a doubt. He sees the veins or streams of water under the ground and can tell with absolute certainty the different strata between the surface and the water. He has this 'X-ray' sight only at night, and it is much stronger in the dark of the moon. When he exercises this wonderful power for any length of time, he becomes exhausted and falls into a deep sleep, which restores him to his former self."
THE JEWS CLAIMING CHRIST.
"The oldest and the newest traditions of Israel look with favor upon the man of Galilee, who, as the prophets of old, was willing to give his soul unto death that his ideals might live after him. His noble and exalted aims have not been fulfilled. What ideals ever were? But we who are Jews today certainly have no cause to regret his coming into the world, and have every reason to look forward to the time when the message of this hour will find an echo in the heart and life of mankind. The gospel of Jesus was the glad tidings of Israel's own universal truth. The teacher of Nazareth was our kith and kin, both in the flesh and in the spirit. We revere his memory, claim him as our own, and gladly accord him that high rank which he deserves as one of the greatest benefactors of the human family.
"How absurd and silly it is to expect us, in this age of enlightenment and growing religious fellowship, to mourn on this day, to shut our eyes to the light like wilful, wanton children, and see only the shadows of our past. If we, who are children of the house to whom the prophets belong, and whose mission it is to proclaim peace to them that are far and near, strew the seed of discord and resentment among our own, wherein are we better than those who persecuted our ancestors for wrongs which they had not committed? Shall we hold him whom the millions of our fellowmen commemorate today, and through whom, according to the unanimous opinion of our best and profoundest scholars in ancient and modern times, Israel's divine truths were carried out to the nations, shall we hold him responsible for the crimes that were perpetrated in his name? Nay, we do not mourn, but we rejoice that Jesus was born, and through him, despite the shortcomings, despite the manifold prejudices that still darken human hearts, this world at large is infinitely better and brighter than it would have been without him. We would not conjure the dread spectres of the past; we thank God that we live in the present, with its wider liberty, its nobler humanity." --RABBI SALEE in Jewish Voice.
PRESBYTERIAN CREED REVISION.
The Presbyterian General Assembly committee has agreed upon the following summary of returns made to them by various Presbyteries. They met in Washington City on Feb. 12 to prepare their statement for the next General Assembly in May.
First--The returns plainly indicate that the church desires some changes in its credal statement.
Second--These returns indicate plainly that no change is desired which would in any way impair the integrity of the system of doctrine contained in the Confession of Faith.
Third--These returns also indicate that a large plurality desire that the changes should be made by some new statement of present doctrines.
Fourth--The returns also indicate a desire upon the part of many presbyteries for some revision of the present confession.
Fifth--It was therefore unanimously agreed to recommend to the assembly that some revision or change be made in our confession statements.
This means that the creed is objectionable as it stands, but that it is desired that the changes shall be made in such a manner as to cast no discredit upon it in the eyes of their own people or other Christians. In a word, they want, if possible, to say, The creed is all right, none better, could not be better; but some
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people cannot understand it aright, and for their sakes only it was necessary to alter the language without changing the sense. And no doubt some will succeed in deluding themselves and others--who prefer to be deceived rather than to openly acknowledge the wrong, for fear of denominational injury.
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LONGING FOR HOME.
As pants the heart for water brooks,
So pants my soul for thee!
O, when shall I behold thy face,
When wilt thou call for me?
How oft at night I turn my eyes
Toward my heavenly home,
And long for that blest time when thou,
My Lord, shalt bid me, "Come!"
And yet I know that only those
Thy blessed face shall see,
Whose hearts from every stain of sin
Are purified and free.
And O, my Master and my Lord,
I know I'm far from meet
With all thy blessed saints in light
To hold communion sweet.
I know that those who share thy throne
Must in thy likeness be,
And all the Spirit's precious fruits
In them the Father see.
Lord, grant me grace more patiently
To strive with my poor heart,
And bide thy time to be with thee,
And see thee as thou art!
--G. W. SEIBERT.
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ACCEPTED AND REJECTED SACRIFICERS.
GREAT WERE the anticipations of mother Eve in connection with her first-born son, Cain. Keenly she recollected the blessings of Eden and their loss through disobedience, and her memory clung to the implied promise contained in Jehovah's words to the effect that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head--should crush the Evil One, and impliedly, in some sense of the word, thus accomplish a victory, and a release from some or all of the evils entailed through the divine sentence. It was in harmony with this that she named her first-born son Cain, which signifies, "acquired." In his birth she seemed to see a beginning of a fulfilment of the divine promise; this much of it had been acquired, for she said, "I have gotten a man from the Lord"--the Lord has given the promised man, the promised seed. But she was mistaken; the divine promise would be fulfilled in due time, but Cain was not the promised seed, nor even in the line of that promise. This was soon manifested.
In due time another son was born, who was called Abel--a feeder or nourisher--he being looked to, probably,
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not so much as the deliverer promised as a helper in the battle for bread with the thorns and thistles, etc. The two grew to manhood, the one becoming a tiller of the soil, a farmer and gardener, and the other a herdsman or shepherd. In process of time it became apparent to both of these men that they should make acknowledgement to the Lord, their Creator, and that it would be but a reasonable service that they should present to him offerings expressive of their dependence on, and of their appreciation of his kindness; and naturally each one took as an offering that which was under his care.
Cain took of the fruits of his harvest, the results of his energy, as an offering to the Lord, and Abel took of his flocks as an offering. So far as the record goes, both were alike acceptable to the Lord up to this point; nor can we suppose that God would be displeased with Cain for bringing of the fruit of his labor as an offering. The fact that he had not respect to Cain's offering need not be understood to imply any prejudice on God's part against Cain, nor any intimation that he had sinned in bringing such an offering; neither did the Lord's acceptance of Abel's offering necessarily imply a prejudice in his favor, nor that he was the holier of the two. The acceptance of the one and the rejection of the other was merely designed to show the kind of sacrifice which the Lord was pleased to have offered and the kind which he was not pleased to accept. Cain should have learned the lesson quickly, and should have secured animal sacrifices and have presented his offering in this form to the Lord, and doubtless it would have been accepted as was Abel's.
Probably neither of the brothers knew at the time why the Lord accepted the animal sacrifices only, but later on no doubt they would have been instructed that this was typical, because the Lord intended ultimately to accept of a great antitypical sacrifice for sins which he himself would provide in the person of the man Christ Jesus, and that this sacrifice could best be represented and typified by the sacrifice of animals, and thus the presentation of the thought that
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without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sins.--`Heb. 9:22`.
But Cain, as the first-born, had no doubt already been recognized by his parents as the chief of the two brothers, and no doubt knew of his parents' expectations respecting him, that ultimately he would be the instrument of Jehovah in the crushing of evil. And no doubt this thought had engendered a certain amount of pride in his heart. He felt himself to be the elect of God, the highly honored one of the family; and correspondingly sharp must have been his feeling of disappointment when his offering of the fruits of the field, chosen with great care, and offered no doubt with sincere reverence, met with no sign of divine acceptance, while the offering of his younger brother, whom his parents had viewed as a mere assistant, was accepted of the Lord, probably by fire from heaven consuming the sacrifice. (`1 Kings 18:38`.) The chagrin of this one who considered himself the priest and mediator of the family, and God's specially chosen agent, may be imagined; and whatever of love and kindness and brotherly feeling had previously prevailed, fell before the combination of giant powers suddenly developed in his bosom--pride, chagrin, envy, --and in the heat of his passion and disappointment he smote his brother and slew him.
We are not to think of Cain's crime as a first-degree murder, deliberately plotted and executed; but rather as "manslaughter," a crime committed on the spur of the moment and under the influence of sharp disappointment. The inspired record tells us, "He was of [the spirit or disposition of] the wicked one, and slew his brother." (`1 John 3:12`.) He partook of the spirit of the wicked one, of Satan's evil spirit. Satan's spirit was one of ambition and pride. Already highly favored of God as one of the highest angels, he was not content with his great honors and blessings, but was ambitious, desirous of attaining still greater influence and power than God had been pleased to grant him; and this unlawful ambition obtaining control led him not only to rebel against the divine covenant, but led him also to become the "murderer" (`John 8:44`) of our first parents, that thus he might attain control over them,--the object of his ambition.
So, for aught we know, Cain may not only have felt the chagrin of seeing the younger brother's offering accepted, but may have felt that somehow or other this younger brother stood between him and the attaining of his ambitions, and that his removal would be a means for the maintenance of his own claims and position. How short-sighted was the Adversary, that he should think to out-general Jehovah, and to exalt himself and erect a rival Kingdom! Soon Satan's folly will be manifested, when the Lord's due time shall come, and the one who humbled himself in obedience to the Father's will shall be exalted to kingly power and authority, and to the position at the Father's right hand in the Kingdom of the universe; and when the one who attempted the usurpation shall be bound and utterly destroyed. And how foolish was Cain's supposition that fighting against God would avail him anything, or that the destruction of his brother would leave him the heir of the promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head! And how similarly foolish are all who foster ambition and pride --even in respect to the promises of God. How sure it is to lead to the murder-spirit of brother-hatred. (`1 John 3:15`.) And, on the contrary, how wise are those who follow the example of our dear Redeemer, quenching all ambition in devotion to God and burying pride under love and humility. Let us, therefore, as the Apostle exhorts--humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt us in due time, even as he highly exalted our Lord Jesus.--`1 Pet. 5:5,6`; `Phil. 2:5-12`.
Had Cain, on the contrary, yielded to an humble and loving spirit, he would have said to his brother Abel, "My brother, I congratulate you, that the Lord has so remarkably accepted your offering; I rejoice with you, and now that I have learned better what things the Lord is pleased to accept in sacrifice, I myself also will hasten to present an offering like yours, and I will gladly exchange with you some of the fruit of my labors for some suitable sacrifice from your flocks." And who can doubt that Cain's offering, if brought in this manner, would have been accepted of the Lord, as was Abel's? The thing lacking was the humble spirit, the spirit of love, without which he could not be acceptable with God, nor appreciate his privilege of offering the acceptable sacrifice.
This same lesson of the first-born occupying the position of favor and opportunity, yet being unworthy and unready to use it, is illustrated in Abraham's sons. First was Ishmael, who for years was looked upon as the heir of Abraham and the promises made to him, and who continued to so regard himself even after Isaac, the child of promise, was born,--mocking and persecuting him. Similarly again, Esau, as the first-born of Isaac, held the birth-right to the same promise, yet not appreciating it rightly, sold it to Jacob for a mess of pottage, and then strove to retain it unjustly to himself, and was angry with the one who did rightly value it.
The Apostle points out to us (`Gal. 4:22-31`) that these things were allegories or pictures, written aforetime for our admonition and instruction, that we through these illustrations might gather the thought that God foreknew and designed that in bringing in
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the true Seed (Christ Jesus, the Head, and the Church, his body) there should be just such an experience as was pictured in these three illustrations. The first seed of promise was Moses and his house, fleshly Israel. These were represented in Cain and Ishmael and Esau--not that there were no exceptions in the nation of fleshly Israel, but that the nation as a whole was thus typified.
Israel, like Cain, considered itself as the first-born and heir of the divine promise, and it brought to the Lord an offering of works under its Law Covenant, represented in Cain's offering of the fruits of the ground, the labor of his hands; but God did not accept the imperfect works of Israel as satisfying unto justification. Israel, like Ishmael, was for years recognized as the heir to the Abrahamic promises, and felt arrogant in connection therewith; yet never was the real seed of Abraham meant by Jehovah when he made the promise that Abraham's seed should be great and should bless all the families of the earth. Nevertheless Israel, like Ishmael, mocked at the spiritual Israel, the true heir of the divine favors, and persecuted those that were born (begotten) after the spirit. Israel, like Esau, had indeed a title to the blessing, as being the first-born, and had they appreciated that blessing they might indeed have been the heirs of the promise; but failing rightly to appreciate it they had more respect and love for earthly comforts and advantages than for the spiritual, and sacrificed the latter for the former, even as Esau sold his birth-right for the mess of pottage. Nevertheless, while not highly esteeming the divine favors represented in the promise made to Abraham, the natural Israelite at the close of the Jewish age was disposed to claim that promise, and to resent the thought that it should pass by them and be given to Spiritual Israel, represented by Jacob, the second-born. And as Esau's anger was so fierce that Jacob was obliged to flee for his life, even so spiritual Israel was put in jeopardy of life by natural Israel. The Isaac-class was persecuted by the Ishmael class, and the Abel class was slain by the Cain class.
It at first seems strange that God's favored ones should thus appear to be worsted in every instance, and be obliged to flee from, or be killed by those whom God rejected. But herein is a great spiritual lesson, for we perceive that as the natural Israel was represented by Moses and his house, so the spiritual Israel
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is represented by Christ and his house; and we see that the very method by which Christ and his followers are to gain the victory in this present time is through obedience unto God "even unto death"--and that thus being obedient unto death, Christ and his Church, which is his body, and which the Apostle assures us is to fill up that which is behind of his afflictions (`Col. 1:24`), become the heirs of the world, the inheritors of the promises. Why? Because there can be no crushing of the Evil One and his power until first of all the sacrifice for sin, the ransom-price for the sinner, shall be paid; even as there can be no blessing of all the families of the earth through the seed of Abraham until, first of all, that Seed of Abraham shall have redeemed all the families of the earth by offering the sacrifice for sins which God has all along indicated must first be paid, and must include a sacrifice of life --for "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins."
Here, then, we may see not only in the plain declarations of the New Testament, but in all the shadowy pictures which prophesied the same in the Old Testament, that it must needs be that Christ (Head and body) shall suffer and be raised from the dead before these great and precious promises of the Almighty to mother Eve and to father Abraham can have their fulfilment.
The position we have here taken will not be disputed by any Christian well versed in the Word of God, except, perhaps, that some not having studied the subject from this standpoint, may at first be unable to see how the Church of Christ shares with him in all these pictures, and in the great sacrifice, as well as in the glorious work to follow. However, careful study of the Lord's Word from this standpoint will assuredly prove its correctness; and now we offer in further corroboration, the testimony of the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the `Galatians. In chapter 3:16` he points out Christ as the promised seed of Abraham, and in `verses 27-29` he explains to us that all who come into Christ during this age and become members of his body, are thus members of the Seed of Abraham, and heirs with Christ of the promises of God made to Abraham.
Also in `Galatians 4:22-31` the Apostle explains in detail how Ishmael represented Israel after the flesh, born of the Law Covenant, represented by Hagar, and how, as such, they could not be heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. He then shows Christ, the son of the free woman, the Abrahamic Covenant, represented by Sarah, and he not only represents the Lord Jesus as being the Isaac seed of promise, but in so many words declares that the elect Church of Christ in this Gospel age is also of this Isaac seed, and heirs with Jesus, and, through his merit, to all the promises made to Abraham--that they should be God's agency in bringing blessing to all the families of the earth. The Apostle's words are, "So, then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman [the Law Covenant], but of the free [the Abrahamic covenant, typified by
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Sarah.]" "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free."
While these pictures and lessons relate chiefly to the Church as a whole, rather than to each member of it as an individual, nevertheless, individual lessons may be gleaned from them also, for altho Cain and Abel, Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, represented particularly natural Israel and spiritual Israel, we may, nevertheless, find similar characters and similar individual conditions today, in the "tares" and "wheat" of the Gospel Church. The tares, like Cain, have the spirit of the wicked one, the spirit of ambition and of pride, and as a rule they occupy very leading positions in nominal churchianity. They bring to the Lord offerings, and not without a certain form of godliness, yet their hearts are far from the attitude which would be pleasing to the Lord, for the offerings which they present are of their own works--they come not to the Lord solely in the name and merit of the great sacrifice for sins finished at Calvary, and God cannot accept their offerings.
The wheat class of this Gospel age, corresponding to Abel, come before the Lord in greater humility; not trusting in any righteousness or works of their own for their acceptance with him, they present to him, according to his own appointment, the sacrifice of blood--Christ's sacrifice, and these are accepted and God's favor is manifested to them; but so far from this awakening in the tare-class a spirit of contrition, and a desire to learn the way of the Lord more perfectly, it seems to awaken in them hatred, animosity, chagrin, that they, worldly-wise and of worldly influence and fame, should be rivalled and outdone in divine favor and acceptance by those that are nought in their estimation and from the worldly standpoint. And the wheat-class, represented in Abel, must be ready to lay down their lives as the price of their fidelity to the Lord. To these the Lord speaks individually, saying, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (`Rev. 2:10`.) Their faithfulness is sure to lead to consecration to death, which ultimately finishes in literal death; for only by thus proving their faithfulness and following the footsteps of their Master to the end of the way can they be accepted of the Lord to joint-heirship with him.
The persecution of Isaac by Ishmael finds a parallel also in the opposition of the tares to the wheat; there is a rivalry between the Church nominal, which holds the place of influence and power, and which ridicules and mocks and persecutes the Isaac class. This persecution may not in every instance go so far as persecution to death, as in the case of our Lord and many of the apostles, and yet it will extend to every member of the Isaac class in some manner, even if it be not a more severe opposition than that of mocking and speaking evil of them. But all these things must be endured, and that with patience; yea, they may be endured with joy, if we can but have the spirit of our Head, and realize the meaning of these oppositions which come to us as they came to him, and of which he said, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. And again, as the Apostle declares, "The world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."--`John 15:18,19`; `1 John 3:1`.
In all of these illustrations it is well that we note the differences of spirit or disposition, that the haughty, the proud, the ambitious and self-confident spirit is the one which leads to disappointment, and is not of the Lord; and that the humble, teachable, obedient spirit or disposition is that which is recognized by the Lord; and in proportion as we are seeking, therefore, to make our calling and election sure to membership in this spiritual Seed of Abraham, represented in Isaac, represented in Jacob, and represented in Abel, let us seek to bring to the Lord such sacrifices as he is pleased to receive (`Heb. 13:16`), and to be exercised by such a spirit of faith, of trust and of obedience as was manifested by the Head of this body, the Lord Jesus. He is our perfect Pattern; he walked this way successfully, and has not only opened it for us through the merit of his sacrifice, and accepted us as his followers in it, but also he has promised us his grace and help through the Word and by his spirit and by his providence all the journey through; assuring us that having begun a good work in us he is both able and willing to complete it. Let us then, like him, bring unto the Father the acceptable sacrifices of our consecrated lives, made acceptable to the Lord's altar through the atonement sacrifice which our dear Redeemer gave on our behalf. Thus we shall at once and always be accepted in the Beloved.--`Rom. 12:1`; `5:1,2`.
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JESUS BETRAYED AND FORSAKEN.
--`JOHN 18:1-14`.--MARCH 3.--
"The cup which my Father hath
given me, shall I not drink it?"
NOTHING connected with the Gospel narrative appeals to human judgment more forcibly than does its simplicity. The fact that the weaknesses and failures and stumblings of the apostles themselves are faithfully narrated, and that without apologies or excuses or attempts to gloss over the defects, shows a sincerity, a truthfulness of intention, very rarely found in other writings. Nowhere is this more conspicuous than in the present lesson, which records the shameless perfidy of Judas, and the weakness of the remaining eleven, who, in our Lord's darkest hour, all forsook him, seeking personal safety,--one of them subsequently denying him. The writers of the Gospels would have been excusable had they interjected explanations and excuses for their course; but the narrative is really stronger as it stands, and we are, perhaps, inclined to furnish excuses for them which we might have been loath to receive had they offered them for themselves.
We note that two of them had swords, and that by our Lord's permission, if not direction (`Luke 22:35-38`),
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that it might be manifest that he was not overpowered by the high priest's servants, but that he merely yielded himself to arrest. The Apostle Peter probably reasoned that if the Lord had directed the bringing of the swords they were for use and not for ornament, and with commendable courage he drew his sword in defence of his Lord against the first of the party who attempted to lay hold upon him. The blow was evidently intended for the head, but perhaps was providentially warded off so as to injure merely the ear. But what consternation it must have brought to Peter and to the others, when the Master objected to their using the swords, objected to their defending him, and even healed the servant who was smitten! Confronted with such conditions, we can readily see that the faithful eleven could do nothing but one of two things--either stay with the Master, and, like him, submit to arrest, or flee, and thus secure their personal liberty and safety, which the Master evidently did not wish to secure on his own behalf.
We can readily imagine that eleven strong men, as they were, in the prime of life, even if they had but two swords amongst them, could have done considerable damage to the band that came to arrest our Lord; but while the excitement and activities of a battle inspire courage, to be compelled to stand idle and not be permitted to lift a hand in self-defence in the presence of an armed enemy, is most discouraging to anyone. And the natural tendency of all under such circumstances, to flee, was in this instance assisted and accentuated by the Master's own suggestion, "Let these go their way." Under full consideration of the circumstances, therefore, we must acquit the apostles of anything like cowardice, and must say that under similar circumstances to theirs few of the Lord's people would know how to do otherwise than flee, as they did.
The band of men whom Judas led out for our Lord's arrest were not Roman soldiers, but merely under-officers and servants from the high priest's household, armed with such weapons as they could command, sticks and swords, etc. The Roman military authority, represented in Pilate, took no cognizance of Jesus and his work until the next day, when the priests, chief rulers, and a multitude of incited servants and people, brought him to the tribunal and demanded his execution.
St. John's account does not mention the miserable act of betrayal by which Judas indicated which one of the twelve was Jesus--the betraying kiss, nor our Lord's words of reproof: "Friend, wherefore art thou come? Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?" Judas evidently advanced beyond the band to give the salutation, according to prearrangement, that he should thus indicate the one they sought.
It is difficult for any noble-minded person to read the account of Judas' course without feeling a deep sense of righteous indignation--a sense of the baseness of character which could thus betray, for thirty pieces of silver, the one whom he recognized as the noblest of men, whether or not he was sure that he was the Messiah. It may not be amiss that we notice here that Judas did not reach this depth of iniquity suddenly, but rather that the disposition had grown upon him during the three years of his intercourse with the Master, when the reverse disposition should have had control. At the time when he was chosen to be an apostle he evidently was a good man, so far as outward appearance at least was concerned; and his name, which signifies "Praise," would seem to indicate that his parents had been of a religious cast of mind, and had wished, and, so to speak, prophesied of him, that he would be a messenger of God to sound forth his praise. And what a privilege and opportunity he enjoyed in this direction!
From the meager mentionings of the Gospel records, we may reasonably infer that the beginning of his downfall was the harboring of a love of money. Instead of rebuking this wrong spirit, curbing it, and seeking, on the contrary, to cultivate generosity and love and benevolence, he permitted selfishness to have more or less control in his heart and life. We may surmise that he chose the office of treasurer for the little company; whereas, had he been sufficiently alive to his own condition his proper course would have been to have refused it, realizing that already he had too much love of money, and that the handling of the funds might prove a temptation to him. But, on the contrary, he sought the office, obtained it, carried the bag, and the money that was put therein, and the Apostle John tells us that he was a thief. (`John 12:6`.) This passion for money, like all others of the abnormal propensities of our fallen nature, grew stronger and stronger as it was encouraged and cultivated, until finally it knew no bounds, and he was ready to sell his loving Master, Messiah, for thirty pieces of silver.
But while hating such a character, loathing it, despising it, and seeking to go as far as possible in an opposite direction in our own characters, we are not to overlook the fact that there are many amongst the Lord's disciples who, in a less degree, commit a crime very similar to that of Judas--they sell the Lord, they betray him, while professing to love him. True, this cannot be done in the same personal and literal way today; but the spirit of it may be seen occasionally, we regret to say; we find some who really believe in Jesus, some who have consecrated their lives to be his followers, some who have been engaged in the ministry of his truth, as Judas was there, who are willing to sell the
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Lord for a mess of pottage--for good things of this present life--for a salary, for social position, for honor amongst men, for popularity, and titles--who are willing to sell even their lips, as Judas did, so that, while professing to honor and to serve the Lord, they are willing to join with those who misrepresent his character, his plan, his Word--willing to rejoice with those who seek to assassinate the Lord. Ah, how well it is that each one ask himself the question raised upon the night of the Supper, "Lord, is it I?" and let none be too ready to excuse himself, but let each search earnestly his own heart and life and conduct, to see that he is not sacrificing in any way the truth and the life for any consideration whatsoever.
OUR WARFARE NOT WITH CARNAL WEAPONS.
In telling Peter to put up his sword our Lord inculcates a lesson which many of his well-meaning followers since have utterly failed to learn. On the contrary, all through the dark ages the sword--military power--was invoked and used on behalf of one party and then another of professed followers of Christ; sometimes against unbelievers, but very frequently against fellow-professors. The sword has left a bloody mark in the church nominal, and has become a cause of offence even to some in the world who see how different is such a course from that which our dear Redeemer prescribed for his followers. Never was this lesson more needed by nominal Christendom than today, when a militant spirit seems to pervade all parties and denominations. It is the soldiers of professedly Christian nations that today are amongst the poor heathen of China, "avenging" the death of Christian missionaries and others. It is these same representatives of these so-called Christian nations that are setting such immoral examples before the heathen people that by their evil conduct they glorify the soldiers of heathen Japan, whose mercy and moderation and self-control are universally admitted.
True, blame for what these soldiers may do cannot be properly charged upon the cause of Christ. We deny that they are Christian nations, and we deny that they are Christian soldiers. We claim that the soldiers are "children of this world," and that they are fighting as representatives of the "kingdoms of this world," under the "prince of this world." Nevertheless, as we come still closer to the question we find, upon apparently good authority, that the government of the United States has been appealed to by Christian ministers and missionaries to take vengeance upon the Chinese. From the accounts in the public press we may infer that the majority of the appeals for mercy and moderation have come from nominally worldly people, and that a majority of the appeals for vigorous measures have come from those who nominally are ministers, servants, representatives of Jesus, who said to Peter, "Put up thy sword into its sheath."
But here again we must draw the line, and surmise that as in olden times the Apostle said, "They are not all Israel who are of Israel," so now they are not all true Christians who are of Christendom. We must suppose that the Apostle's words are still true, "If any man have not the spirit of Christ he is none of his." We must suppose that in proportion as the spirit of love and gentleness and meekness is lacking it is a good evidence that the person, whatever may be his professions, is not a minister of Christ, not a minister of the true gospel, but merely a minister of some human denomination and some false gospel, which contradicts the truth.
It may not be inappropriate here to notice the general spread of a fiery spirit, bitter, vindictive, merciless, amongst people professing godliness, and of whom we might reasonably expect better things. An evidence of this bitter and fiery spirit is seen in the greater prevalence of lynch law in this enlightened country, where all the laws are in the hands of the majority, and where, therefore, there is no excuse. Accounts of these lynchings seem to indicate that there is, deep down in the hearts of many people who are apparently moderate and well intentioned, a fierce, brutal, savage instinct, which has never been transformed by the renewing of their minds by the power of the holy spirit. Just what this may lead to in the future, it is difficult to say; but it is part of the spirit of anarchy, which the Scriptures assure us will before long spread throughout all Christendom, and result in the great time of trouble, so long foretold, in which everything of law and order will go down before the angry passions of humanity.
The same intemperance as to thought and feeling is manifest sometimes merely in words, but it is, nevertheless, a piece of the same article, and reprehensible. As an illustration of this tendency toward immoderate thought and expression, we call attention to the extreme and unjustifiable utterance of a Methodist bishop, quoted from the New York Sun as follows:--
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"Shall we have Bryan elected? No; a thousand times no! I'd rather go to sea with a boat of stone, with sails of lead, with oars of iron, with the wrath of God as a gale, and hell as a port."
We should not forget, in defence of the bishop, that this language was used during the heat of a political campaign; and yet the palliating circumstances are quite insufficient. No circumstance, no condition imaginable, should lead any minister of the Gospel of Christ to use any such language; and we point it out now merely as an indication of the trend of our times, as being of a piece with the lynching and torturing of fellow-creatures,
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as an indication of the wild ferocity of thought which is leading on rapidly and preparing Christendom for anarchy, lawlessness, immoderation in all things. Let all of Christ's true disciples more and more remember the command of the Master, "Put up thy sword!" "Love your enemies." "Do good unto those who despitefully use you and persecute you."
THE CUP WHICH THE FATHER POURS.
Our Golden Text is the cream of this whole lesson. It expresses most beautifully, most concisely, most forcefully, the principles which underlay our Master's obedience to the Heavenly Father, and which enabled him in all things to come off conqueror and "overcomer;" and all who are seeking to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to be his disciples indeed, will do well to ponder the thought expressed in these words: "The cup which my father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" The thought is clear: It is that he recognized the circumstances and conditions in which he found himself, as being not of those of his own making, nor yet those made for him by his enemies. He recognized the divine supervision of all of his affairs, and knew that nothing could possibly come upon him except as the Father would permit; and because the Father had so arranged it, had poured out this cup for him, therefore it was duty on his part to drink it.
We would not undertake to say that the Lord's people should never look for ways of escape from impending trials and difficulties; for we have the Lord's promise to this effect, that he will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to endure, but will with the temptation provide a way of escape from those features of it which would be beyond the possibility of endurance. When, therefore, we feel that our submission to evil has about reached its climax, where succor must come or we must utterly fall, that is the time for us to look about us to see what way of escape the Lord is opening for us. But we are to be sure that the way of escape which we take is not of our own, but of the Lord's provision; for if we should run away from duty and trial and testing in one place, it would merely be to fall into other trials and testings, perhaps severer, in another quarter. We are to know in advance that trials, difficulties, persecutions, slanders, are all a part of the portion which the Father has poured out, not only for the Head of the body, but also for all the members. We are therefore to be prepared to endure hardness as good soldiers; not fleeing, but courageously accepting as of the Lord's providence whatever he may permit to come to us, unless we shall see a reasonable, proper, honorable way of escaping from it, which will not be in violation of our covenant, nor in violation of any law of righteousness.
No other lesson, perhaps, is more needed by the Lord's followers than the one of willingness to drink the cup which the Father pours--a recognition that the Father is guiding and directing in our affairs because we are his, as members of the body of the Anointed One. In these respects the consecrated children of God occupy a very different position from the world, with whom the Father is not dealing as sons, who are not on trial for glory, honor and immortality, and for whom, consequently, he is not now pouring cups of trial, testing, endurance, etc. "The cup which we drink, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" --a share in his sufferings? "If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him; if we be dead with him we believe that we shall also live with him."
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"YE HAVE CONDEMNED THE JUST ONE."
--`MATT. 26:57-68`.--MARCH 10.--
"Thou art the Christ, the Son of
the living God."--`Matt. 16:16`.
CAIAPHAS filled the office of high priest at the time of our Lord's condemnation. It was he who had already expressed himself to the effect that it was "expedient that one man should die for the nation, that the whole people should not perish" (`John 11:50`; `18:14`), thus illustrating how God may at times use the thoughts and intentions of wicked men to express prophetically profound truths. It was indeed expedient, not only for the Jews, but also for the whole world, that a ransom should be given for Adam and his race, to the intent that they might be released from divine condemnation and ultimately be granted an opportunity for return to divine favor and life everlasting.
But so far as Caiaphas was concerned, he was probably thinking only of human expediency. He perceived the growing interest of the multitudes in Jesus of Nazareth. He realized that even the most learned of the scribes and Pharisees were no match for Jesus in doctrine and logic, and that the teachings of Jesus were so opposed to his own and the general traditions of Judaism that their acceptance must mean a religious revolution. This, he reasoned, would mean the loss of the prestige of the nation with the Romans, and the abrogation of all the rights and privileges accorded to them. So far as Caiaphas was concerned, his mind, his judgment, was already made up in respect to Jesus, and he merely sought opportunity to carry it into effect--to kill him. But being outwardly and nominally a religious
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man and a representative of justice, he felt constrained, so far as possible, to put the murder of Jesus, which he felt to be a necessity for the public good, in the light of an act of justice.
Caiaphas evidently was the ringleader in the conspiracy against Jesus. It was he and his associates who bargained with Judas; it was the under-priests and under-officers of his court and household and his servants who had been sent with Judas to arrest our Lord in the night, when he would be away from the multitudes; and we may presume that it was by his orders that our Lord was taken first to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, a man of great influence amongst the Jews, who had previously been high priest, and whose term of office had not yet expired, according to Jewish custom, altho their conquerors had forced a change in this respect, and had appointed Caiaphas chief priest instead of Annas. The sending of Jesus to Annas was evidently intended to secure his sanction to his arrest and trial, and the influence which that would imply.
When the band appeared before Annas he questioned Jesus respecting his teachings, etc., but he did not attempt a trial of the case, not having the authority. When our Lord refused to answer the questions, and referred Annas to those that had heard him, he was merely following the judicial course, and suggesting to Annas the propriety of not departing from the law in the examination of a prisoner. Annas signified his assent to the arrest by not reproving it or demanding
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his release, but sending the prisoner bound to Caiaphas, --thus saying by implication, I agree in your course that this man should be arrested and should be tried as a dangerous character,--dangerous to our theories and institutions.
Caiaphas had already the sympathetic cooperation of many of the leading Jews, especially of the priests, some of whom were in the "band." We may presume that the time during which the prisoner was taken to the house of Annas was occupied in despatching other messengers in various directions, to notify the members of the Council--the Sanhedrin--that the disturber of their peace had been arrested, and to assemble for his trial. It was probably about two o'clock in the morning that Jesus was brought before Caiaphas. The Jewish law forbids the trial of a prisoner between sunset and sunrise, and any verdict secured during the unlawful hours would have been invalid, illegal. Nevertheless, the chief priest was anxious to have his case well in hand by sunrise, and to hasten as much as possible the death of the prisoner, which he had already determined upon. The matter of the trial was a mere farce anyway, but he would see what evidence he could lay before the Sanhedrin at sunrise, and hence he immediately and illegally began the examination of Jesus, calling for witnesses.
No doubt it had been freely stated that Jesus had announced his Messiahship, altho we know that this was not the case so far as the gospel narratives show. He had been very guarded in his remarks in public, and even amongst his chosen twelve disciples he had not announced himself freely, but had first drawn from Peter the declaration of our Golden Text, "Thou art the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God." Jesus merely acknowledged that Peter had stated the truth, and that he had been guided in the statement by the holy spirit. When, therefore, Caiaphas sought witnesses even on this point he found none capable of giving satisfactory testimony. One witness who thought he had something of importance gave a somewhat garbled account of our Lord's words respecting the Temple; but when they sought a second witness to corroborate this they could not find one who would testify exactly the same, and the Jewish Law required at least two witnesses in any such trial.
Exasperated at his poor success in securing testimony, Caiaphas determined to try a different plan, and an illegal one--to excite his prisoner so that he would make some incriminating confession. Therefore he rose up, and with a manifestation of indignation, and to give the effect that very damaging testimony had been given, he asked the prisoner if he had not heard the testimony against him, and if he had nothing to say in self-defence. Our Lord made no response; he was not there to defend himself, and if he had been there was no need of defence. There was nothing criminal in what he had said respecting the Temple, even if it had been testified by a dozen witnesses. Caiaphas was foiled, but being a shrewd man he quickly changed his tactics, and affecting to wonder if indeed the claims of Messiah might be true he put Jesus under oath, saying, "I adjure thee [I put thee under oath] in the name of the living God; tell us whether thou be the Messiah, the Son of God."
Our Lord was not bound to answer this question, which he well knew would be used to incriminate him as a blasphemer. Nevertheless, he was not seeking to avoid death, but had already determined that the cup which the Father had given him was to be drunk, and hence he answered saying, according to John, "Thou hast said"--you have stated the truth; or, according to Mark, "Jesus said, I am"--the Messiah, the Son of God. He followed this with a declaration that those who there witnessed his humiliation and mock trial should in due time recognize him as the honored of God, sitting down at the right hand of the majesty on high, and to be revealed in the clouds of heaven as the great Judge, the Messiah.
Caiaphas could not hope to have a clearer expression, nor anything that would come nearer justifying
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his predetermined verdict of guilty of blasphemy, and hence with a mock expression of righteous indignation he tore his "simla" or upper garment, exclaiming, Blasphemy! We have heard blasphemy! Then, appealing to the members of the Council present, who were already in sympathy with the murderous procedure, he enquired whether or not they were satisfied with the evidence, and, as pre-arranged, they agreed that this was a clear case of blasphemy, and that Jesus was worthy of death.
Dr. C. H. Plumptre has well said: "No other words in the whole Gospel records are more decisive against the views of those who would fain see in our Lord only a great moral teacher, like Socrates or Sakya Mouni. At the very crisis of his history, when denial would have saved his life, he asserts his claim to be more than this, to be all that the most devout Christians have ever believed him to be." The most devout Christians are those who believe our Lord's own words without distorting them,--that he was with the Father before the world was; that the Father had sent him into the world to be its Redeemer; that "never man spake like this man;" and that he was different from all other men, in that "he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners"--that the life of the man Christ Jesus was unblemished and from above. But the most devout Christians in all ages have avoided claiming for Jesus what some of the less devout Christians have claimed for him, but what he never claimed for himself; viz., that he was his own Father, Jehovah.
The most devout Christians have believed the words of Jesus, when he said, "The Father is greater than I;" and, "As the Father hath sent me, so send I you." They recognize the oneness between the Father and the Son as being, not a oneness of person, but a oneness of heart, of mind, of purpose, according to our Lord's own declaration in his prayer for his people, when he said, "I pray for them...that they may be one, as we are [one]." (`John 17:11`.) The most devout Christians acknowledge that the only one, "the man Christ Jesus," was the perfect representation of the Heavenly Father, so that he who saw the Son (who was the express image of the Father's person) saw the Father also,--in the only way in which it would be possible for mankind to see "the invisible God," "whom no man hath seen nor can see," but whom the Only Begotten of the Father hath revealed to men perfectly. --`John 1:18`.
Thoughtful and intelligently devout Christians, when they examine the words of our Lord in this connection, can see nothing in them whatever to the effect that our Lord Jesus here contradicted the other plain statements of his testimony, but rather they find it in full conformity. Nor did the Jews for one moment think that our Lord meant that he was the Heavenly Father. This was not the question asked: they had no expectation that Messiah would be Jehovah, but Jehovah's representative, and agent, the Son of God, "The Messenger [servant] of the Covenant, whom ye delight in." (`Mal. 3:1`.) The charge of blasphemy against our Lord was based upon his claim of being a Son of God--not the Father himself. The charge was made on a previous occasion (`John 10:29-36`), when the accusers expressly declared his crime was that of calling himself a son of God;--that thus he was placing himself on a parity with God, as being of the same kind or nature. On that occasion Jesus answered their quibble by quoting them from the Psalms, where all of the Lord's consecrated people, the Gospel Church, are called "sons of God," and he pointed out to them that he merely claimed the same title that was there freely given to those who would come into that relationship, through justification of faith, whereas he himself had always been a Son of God in full harmony with the Father.*
When this session of the Sanhedrin, or court, broke up it was to wait until sunrise, when the formal meeting took place, and the verdict of blasphemy would be reaffirmed, and thus have the semblance of legality. (`Matt. 27:1`.) Meantime our Lord stood bound in the high priest's palace court for probably three hours, and it was during this interim that the high priest's servants, etc., took occasion to show their sympathy with the great ones by abusing the prisoner. Some spat upon him; others smote him with their hands and with sticks, and in general displayed their littleness and meanness. A favorite diversion with them seems to have been, after blindfolding him, to smite him and enquire whether or not he were prophet enough to name his tormentor. All these things our Lord endured, so far as the record shows, without a murmur. He accepted this all as a part of the cup which the Father had prepared for him; and the Apostle, evidently referring partly to these experiences, says, "Consider him who endured such contradictions of sinners against himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood." (`Heb. 12:3,4`.) If we refuse the cup the Father prepares for us it will only return to us later perhaps with a more bitter draught: and if avoided entirely we cannot have share with our Lord in the glory, honor and immortality for which the trying experiences now permitted are our preparation.
The servant is not above his Lord, and if they have smitten and spit upon and buffeted the Master, none of the servants should be surprised or complain if they should have somewhat similar experiences. And when such things come to them while in the line
*For a treatise of this subject, and of the expression, "Son of Man," see MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. V., Chap. 6.
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of duty they are to esteem them as our Lord did, part of the cup which the Father has prepared, and they are to endure them without murmuring; on the contrary, as the Apostle suggests, they may give thanks that they are counted worthy to suffer some of the reproaches of Christ.--`Col. 1:24`; `2 Tim. 1:18`; `2:3`; `Jas. 5:11`.
But the Apostle urges, "Let none of you suffer as an evil-doer nor as a busybody in other men's matters." If suffering should come upon us justly for our faults, we could not glory in it, but rather be ashamed; but if any man suffer as a Christian let him not be ashamed--if he suffer for the truth's sake, for righteousness' sake. It may be urged by some that sufferings cannot come now, in our enlightened day, and when the name of Jesus is popular; but, we answer: Yes; it is still true, as the Apostle said, "Whosoever will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Many now claim the name of Jesus who know not Jesus nor the Father, and who have not his spirit, just as many at that time delighted in the name of Moses, and sat in his seat as Doctors of the Law, yet knew not, appreciated not, the law of Moses and the law of God. --`1 Pet. 4:15,16`; `2 Tim. 3:12`.
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INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
Question.--I see it is your view that the 144,000 sealed (`Rev. 7`) are Spiritual Israel, "the true Israel of God," foreknown to him from the beginning, the predestinated "Abraham's Seed" which shall in due time bless the world. (`Gal. 3:29`.) I see too that you view it as a literal number, claiming that all the numbers of Revelation are literal. But let me inquire, Would not such a view overthrow the hopes of those who live today? Could we suppose that the entire Gospel age, with its reputed millions of martyrs, has not secured the 144,000 long ago?
Answer.--It would be a great mistake to suppose that the millions of martyrs, Catholic and Protestant, were all "overcomers,"--"saints" in the Scriptural sense. In a vast majority of cases the principle fought for, and suffered for, was chiefly liberty. Politics, too, lay at the foundation of much of the butchery. Note in another column how a bishop became so excited in our own day as to declare himself willing rather to go to hell than see a political opponent elected. Many, too, would go to death from pride;--rather than yield after having taken their stand.
When we think of the fact that a membership in this "royal priesthood" implies a full, living self-sacrifice to the Lord and his cause, and the attainment, while sacrificing, of the fruits of the spirit--meekness, gentleness, long-suffering, brotherly kindness,--Love, we rather wonder that so many as 144,000 could be found in the past nearly nineteen centuries. And it is of those who cultivate these graces, and attain them in their hearts (even if they cannot always exercise them as fully as they could desire in their flesh) that the Apostle declares: "If ye do these things ye shall never fall, but so [doing] an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."--`2 Pet. 1:5-11`.
Our confidence is in God,--that he knew exactly how long this Gospel age should be to gather the "elect" class; and that he will get the exact number of "jewels," the "little flock," within the appointed time, before "the times of the Gentiles" run out.--See also our issue of April 1, 1899, page 67.
Question.--We are all making considerable effort, through the Volunteer work and otherwise, to present the truth to others, and through the WATCH TOWER we learn that the numbers of interested ones are continually increasing, and the intimation is that still further increase may be expected. Now, the question is, How does this harmonize with the presentations of MILLENNIAL DAWN to the effect that the general call has ceased since 1881, and that altho the door to the high calling is not yet closed, it could not be entered except by those whom the Lord will admit to take the place of some who have failed to comply with the terms of their covenant--to make their calling and election sure.
Answer.--We understand that in 1881 a considerable number of justified persons had made a consecration to the Lord, but had not yet been proven--how many, of course, we cannot judge. Suppose, for instance, that the number were 50,000, and suppose that only one-half of that number would eventually be of the overcoming class: it would mean that gradually 25,000 would have their names blotted out of the Lamb's Book of Life, and the crowns once apportioned to them no longer counted as theirs. In order to give all of these consecrated ones a full opportunity it might be a number of years before any considerable number of them would be thus rejected, and the admission of others to take their places would be correspondingly gradual. We are to remember, too, that of those who enter to take their places probably not more than one-half would be overcomers--which would make 12,500 more to be admitted, and of these probably not more than one-half would be overcomers, which would mean that more than 6000 additional ones must be brought in; and so on. We think it not unreasonable that a considerable time has been left for many of the consecrated ones to note the tendency of the nominal church and her fallen condition spiritually,
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and to be tested thereby as respects their love for righteousness and their hatred of iniquity--their devotion to the Lord and to the principles of his Word, and their opposition to injustice, untruth, unrighteousness. Meantime, the truth, under the Lord's providence, has been going hither and thither throughout the civilized world, coming in contact with nearly all the consecrated, we may presume, and becoming more or less of a test to them. Some have gradually accepted it; others consecrated are, no doubt, still weighing the matter. Still others have probably sided against what they know to be the truth, because of love for the world or popularity or other selfish considerations. The testing of these cannot be expected to continue long. The light is growing so strong on the one side, and the darkness so strong on the other, that any who are unable to make up their minds respecting their proper position would thereby be showing themselves to be unworthy to be classed as "overcomers" and joint-heirs with Christ in the Kingdom. We may reasonably expect, therefore, that quite a good many places in the Lamb's book of Life will be declared vacant and new names be written therein to complete the elect number. To our understanding the ones thus favored of the Lord will be persons fully consecrated to him, and we would esteem it probable that such would early be brought in contact with present truth for their ripening as wheat for the garner, and the hearty acceptance of present truth by such as are fully consecrated to the Lord and to lay down their lives in his service would, we esteem, be in the nature of an evidence of their acceptance to the high calling. We would not understand that a knowledge of the truth without consecration would be an evidence in this direction, believing that many can see much that is reasonable in restitution, etc., who have never made a covenant with the Lord. We would believe, however, that none can appreciate deep things of God except by the holy spirit.-- `1 Cor. 2:9,10,14`.
Question.--What is the Christian's robe, of which the Apostle says that it should be kept "without blemish."--`Eph. 5:27`?
Answer.--We understand it to be the wedding garment mentioned by our Lord in one of his parables. It represents the righteousness of Christ imputed to his consecrated followers who are invited to suffer with him, and also to reign with him. Otherwise it is called justification by faith--our imputed or reckoned righteousness in Christ, through which we have a standing and acceptance with the Father, and are permitted to enter into covenant relationship with him and thus to become "heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, our Lord, if so be that we suffer with him."--`Rom. 8:17`.
In the representation of the Bride-class in `Psalm 45`, the Church, as the King's daughter, is represented as presented at the marriage in this clean linen robe, richly embroidered--the embroidery, we believe, representing the development of character on the part of all the faithful. The robe is the basis of any good works that we can perform, and even then before we can accomplish anything we must have and must follow the Pattern given us by our Lord.
This garment, if it would be a wedding garment, must be spotless, clean and white--"without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." (`Eph. 5:27`.) In `James 1:27`, the Apostle urges us to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, which implies a possibility of having our robe of Christ's righteousness spotted. This does not signify that anything we could do could destroy the work of Christ, or make of none effect his sacrifice for sins, nor blemish it. The robe signifies that share of Christ's merit which has been freely appropriated to us by him with the Father's consent. If, through receiving of the spirit of the world, we blemish or sully this wedding garment we shall be unfit to be of the Bride class, and be rejected; and yet we might say that in our present imperfect condition and many unfavorable surroundings and besetments it would be a miracle if we should never come so closely in contact with evil as to spot our garment or wrinkle it.--Compare `Jude 23`; `Rev. 3:4`; `16:15`.
However, we find that God's gracious provision in Christ is not only that our Lord Jesus' sacrifice was a sufficient one for all of our imperfections of the past, prior to our acceptance with the Lord, but that
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it is a sufficient one also for any unintentional blemish or weakness or misstep that may come to us through our own imperfections or the weaknesses of others, after we become the Lord's children. In other words, we are not only provided with the robe covering all the past, but provided also in the same sacrifice of Christ with a spot-remover, and any who through weakness or temptation stumble by the way and soil their garments are to be restored by the brethren "in a spirit of meekness, remembering themselves also, lest they should be tempted." To restore means to help them to see the spot, and by faith to apply the provided cleansing, through penitence and prayer. All who are in the right attitude of heart, appreciating the purity of the robe, appreciating the Bridegroom and his favor, appreciating the great King and appreciating the honor of being called to the marriage, will be very careful indeed to guard against spots and wrinkles, and very careful also that if any should get upon their robes they should be as quickly as possible removed. This work of mutual helpfulness on the part of the Lord's consecrated people is represented as "the bride making herself ready."
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Those not thus faithful are in a wrong condition, and spot after spot, wrinkle after wrinkle, coming to their robes, they become more or less careless, and especially as they see so many others in a similar condition. These are brought to our attention in `Rev. 7:13-16`. We are there shown that they will not come to the position of being members of spiritual Israel, the 144,000, filling up the elect number named after the twelve tribes. We are shown, however, that their unreadiness to be of the elect class was because of the spots upon their robes and the carelessness which this manifested. But the Lord does not reject them because, passing through manifold temptations, they have not been properly careful, for in wearing the robe they are still confessing their trust in him, in the merit of his sacrifice. He therefore provides for them an experience which will demonstrate to which party they really belong. He causes them to go through a great time of trouble in which, if they love sin and unrighteousness, they will succumb; but if they love the Lord and love righteousness they will come off victors eventually through the Lord's grace, and be permitted to cleanse their robes with tears and efforts, etc., as they should have done voluntarily before, spot by spot, as any blemish was noticed. They do not become members of the Bride class, even when cleansed; they do not sit with Christ in his throne as will the Bride; they do not constitute the Temple, but, on the contrary, they will serve God in his temple (the Church). They will serve before the throne; they will have palm branches, indicating final victory; but they will not have crowns, because they were not overcomers, in the sense demanded of all who will be joint-heirs with Christ.
Question.--I read in the TOWER of March 1, 1900, under the caption, "The Consecrated Home Honored," your suggestion respecting responsibilities of a husband and father as the head of his household. In that article you intimate that those who do not exercise the office of head of their families have reason to question whether or not they are overcomers, etc. The question seems to me a very important one, in view of the fact that I know a great many of the brethren who seem to have comparatively little influence or control in their own homes. I therefore inquire to what extent is it reasonable for us to expect our households to be all consecrated?
Answer.--You have only partly grasped our thought, which is not that all the members of the family should be consecrated to the Lord, but that the home and its conditions should be of the consecrated kind, if the head of that home is consecrated, and is exercising the duties and prerogatives of the head of the house. Even if every member of the family were out of Christ, and out of sympathy with the religious views of the husband and father of the family, his kind and loving, but positive conduct of his house along Scriptural lines should secure to him such respect from every member of his family that they would not only not oppose his wishes, but, on the contrary would take pleasure in cooperating with them. Thus, if the Lord himself or one of the brethren, his representatives, were to pass that way, and the husband and father of the family thought to entertain him, the properly ordered household, being under the control of his consecrated mind, would be one in which all whom he chose to invite would be made most welcome and heartily entertained. And even if some dissatisfaction were felt, it would be a crime against the divine institution of the family to manifest opposition, for the husband and father is the head of the family, as Christ to the Church, says the Apostle. --`Eph. 5:23,24,29,33`.
Nothing in this would mean arbitrariness on the part of the husband and father, but rather that he would wish to consider, as far as possible, the interests of his home, and to contribute to the happiness of each member of it. But it would be his duty, as a child of God, to place the wishes of the Lord paramount to those of his family, so that he would be prompt to invite the Lord or his brethren into his home, as a tribute of his respect and love for the Lord. And in requesting his family's cooperation in this matter, he would know that he was bringing a blessing to them, whether they appreciated it or not; and that any failure to follow this course would be giving his family and their wishes precedence to the Lord and his wishes, a matter not to be considered for a moment by any "overcomer." Nevertheless, everything should be done, not from the standpoint of force and demand, etc., if possible, but rather from the standpoint of love. Let the family see your love manifested in all ways, and also know your firmness in character on every point where principle or loyalty to the Lord are involved.
Nor do we mean that the wife and family should be imposed upon and overworked for the sake of visitors; on the contrary, their care and comfort are the first care of the husband. The head of the family must be watchful of the interests of all under his care to such an extent that he should sacrifice himself, his own comfort and convenience, for their proper care. But to purchase peace in the home at the expense of his own manhood would be wrong, and would encourage a wrong spirit in those he seeks to guide in the right way.
However, where the right way has not been seen and the wrong way has become habitual, it would be the part of wisdom not to approach the right too ruthlessly, but very gently;--praying for and seeking to exercise humility, patience, gentleness;--to let love, and love only, hold the reins of control.