ZWT - 1904 - R3294 thru R3460 / R3450 (321) - November 1, 1904
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VOL. XXV. NOVEMBER 1, 1904. No. 21.
Views from the Watch Tower........................323
Signs of Degeneration.........................323
The Prayer-Meeting Test.......................323
The Panic of 1913.............................324
Japan and Christianity........................325
Watch Tower Special Bibles........................325
Great Pyramid Measurements........................326
A Search for Atoning Blood........................326
Cease to Do Evil, Learn to Do Well................327
Spiritual and Animal Intoxication.................331
Interesting Questions Answered....................334
Publishing Bro. Russell's Sermons.................322
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PUBLISHING BROTHER RUSSELL'S SERMONS.
Word has come from many brethren and sisters of their efforts to secure the publication of Brother Russell's Sunday discourses in papers published nearer to them than the Pittsburgh Gazette. Many have sent postal cards to their favorite local papers, saying that they would gladly subscribe for a year if assured that these sermons would appear regularly and in full.
Our advice on the subject might not in every instance be the best: you know some of the conditions better than we do. For instance, the friends near St. Louis may think better of the Republic than of the Democrat; and The Kansas City Star, a weekly; near Chicago the Inter-Ocean may be preferred to the American, etc. Canadian friends assure us that the Toronto Mail and Empire or the Montreal Family Herald would be more likely to publish them than others there. Our general advice is that papers of large circulation and good character be preferred in every case. If you have written a postal card to one paper and it has not responded, it could do no hurt to write similarly to another, --to whichever you prefer. Where papers are obtainable regularly at a news-stand it is not necessary to promise a year's subscription: it would be enough to say that you would get the papers of your newsdealer and extra copies of those issues containing these discourses.
From time to time we will mention the papers proposing the publication of the sermons regularly. Friends in the neighborhood of each journal will, we are sure, be glad in some measure to show their appreciation by patronizing such journals and using among their friends extra copies of the issues containing the sermons. In cases where the papers can be purchased of the newsman a card of appreciation
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might be sent to the editor: in cases where subscriptions are sent in for a journal it would be well to say that the sermons are one of the attractive features, or that it is sent on the understanding that the sermons will appear regularly. So far the following journals have intimated that they will probably publish these sermons regularly:-- The Commercial Appeal, - Memphis, Tenn. The Oregonian, - - - - - Portland, Ore. The State, - - - - - - - Columbia, S.C. The Sunday World, - - - New York City.
"SCRIPTURE STUDIES, SERIES I." FOR GIFTS.
This is another title for Vol. I. DAWN, preferred by some, though we prefer the old title, which will continue. We have these in special leather binding with gold edges, intended for holiday tokens. At cost to TOWER subscribers, viz., 60c, including postage to any address.
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POLISH TRACTS can now be supplied to all who have special opportunities for using them. They are published by our Society, although our name and address does not appear on them, because of prejudice of Catholics against everything like Bible Societies.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
SIGNS OF DEGENERATION.
"LOVERS OF PLEASURE MORE THAN LOVERS
OF GOD."--`2 TIM. 3:4`.
DR. HALL, President of Union Theological Seminary, New York, declared recently:--
"We all rejoice in the remarkable growth and the excellent features of American civilization, and we are pleased at the relatively good state of the commonalty of the people, but a deeper examination of the social side of our American life reveals a situation that causes anything but satisfaction.
"It is a matter of consternation and deep concern to us that the moral standard of American life is deteriorating. In the hustle and bustle of every-day activity we have astonished the world, but morally we are rapidly going astern--so rapidly that one is dumfounded at the contrast of a visit to some of the countries of the Old World.
"I am an optimist through and through, but I am not a stoneblind optimist. I feel and I know from observation that religion has little, if any, part in our American civilization today. This is a lamentable state of affairs, and it behooves each and all of us to do all we can to help stem this tide of indifference. Our home life is not what it should be, and it is not to be wondered at when we realize the general apathy of the people as regards their spiritual welfare."
* * *
Doctor Hall should have expected just such results from the teaching of Evolution and Higher Criticism in "Union" and other Theological Seminaries. And it is only beginning, too. For twenty years the Doctor and his coadjutors have been sowing the seed of unbelief: now they are surprised at the first samples of the crop. They have failed to gauge up the ordinary layman as more honest than their clerical brethren: when they lose faith in the Bible and supernatural religion they will soon drop the forms and ceremonies associated therewith. Some clerical higher critics and agnostics would do the same were they not looking for honor and "gain every one from his own quarter," or denomination.--`Isa. 56:11`.
THE PRAYER-MEETING TEST.
"It is a common thing in village and rural districts to find churches where the prayer meeting has not even a name to live. It is just as common to find in towns and cities among the larger churches where the membership goes up into the hundreds to find, comparatively speaking, a handful of people, mostly women, gathered in the weekly prayer-meeting, when scores if not hundreds might reasonably be expected to be present. The situation is one of concern, if not of alarm, and unless a remedy is soon found, that meeting of the Church which above all others is vital to its life and work will have gone out of existence. We do not believe that either the necessity for the prayer meeting or its genuine usefulness has gone, but we are persuaded that many of our people need to be reconverted regarding its responsibility and value to themselves and the community in which they live."-- Canadian Baptist.
* * *
Yes, the prayer-meeting test is a good one. Wherever true Christians find it possible to meet for mid-week communion with the Lord and with each other, they will surely have pleasure in so doing. The Spirit of the Lord will constrain them and his Word will encourage them,--"Where two or three of you are met in my name, there am I in the midst."
We are glad to say that the Allegheny congregation has this evidence of spiritual life. Six meetings of this nature are held every Wednesday evening in the various districts contiguous to Allegheny. The attendance ranges from seven to thirty, and those most regular in attendance are usually the most earnest and most spiritually alive. Our hope is that this love of prayer and praise and communion with each other on
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spiritual themes and experiences of the week may be more and more a characteristic of all of "this way"-- of all WATCH TOWER readers.
"Congregational leaders, especially those in the West, are alarmed over the showing just reported made by their body in the states of Illinois, Iowa and Michigan. In all three states Congregationalism lost in membership last year, and in two of them in Sunday-school attendance. The leaders referred to are pointing out to their brethren that in these states conditions are best fitted of all states, New England not excepted, for Puritan growth. Yet there has been less. The membership in all states is 120,000 in round figures, or a little more than one-sixth of the entire Congregational membership, and almost exactly the membership of the same body in Massachusetts. These leaders are asking the cause and the remedy. The former they give as too much higher criticism and too little real religion. They point out that these states are filled with educational institutions."--Secular Press.
* * *
The thing which seems to strike the alarm bell in religious clerical circles is any sign of falling off in numbers. That is a sore spot. It means fewer preachers or less salaries, and naturally awakens alarm. The numbers and wealth are too great now. If the "wheat" could only get together and study God's Word and learn something of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the great divine plan of the ages and the love which it exemplifies, they would be blest richly, and the great bulk of well-meaning but unconsecrated and unbelieving tares could better be dispensed with. "Fear not, little flock." "Not many great or wise or noble hath God chosen"--to be heirs of the Kingdom which shortly now will be set up in power and great glory to bless the "tares" and "all the families of the earth."
THE PANIC OF 1913.
"There is something almost uncanny in the thought that panics in the financial and commercial world have a habit of recurring at such regular intervals that, if not prevented, we, here in the United States, are doomed to suffer another cataclysm in the business world in 1913. It would seem that, given
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nine years' warning, we ought to be able to forestall such a catastrophe. Yet we are stared in the face by the fact that during the last one hundred years the United States has been visited by periodical convulsions of the kind described, at intervals of almost exactly twenty years, with premonitory symptoms of derangement at or about midway intervals. The first real panic in the domestic commercial world in the nineteenth century was in 1814--the outcome of the war of 1812, the exclusion laws and the embargo; the next was in 1837-39, following the United States Bank convulsion, wild-cat banking and speculation in land, with 33,000 resultant failures, more than three times the average annual total today; after that came the big reversal of 1857, consequent on over-expanded banking credits and tariff legislation; and next, the disturbance of 1873, caused by over-speculation following the civil war; and finally, the most serious panic in our history, in 1893, due to over-extended credits in commercial and other lines. Punctuating these five plunges into the region of unreasoning fright there were minor panics: those of 1818, 1826 and of 1829, due to tariff legislation upsetting business; that of 1848, which was a reflection of the disturbed conditions in Europe; one in 1864, which was lost sight of by the turmoil incident to the closing year of the War of the Rebellion; the Eastern commercial and banking credit derangement in 1884, the echo of the Barings' failure in 1890, and last, but not least, among these disturbances of a so-called minor class, the wrenching liquidation or deferred panic of 1903. This brief review makes it plain that some not well-understood psychological or sociological law has, for a century past, exercised an unerring influence to produce the cycles of prosperity, panic and liquidation which have scared the domestic business world. It likewise emphasizes, in a way that should come home to every banker and business man, that in 1913 it is certain that the twenty-year variety or major panic will be due. There was not much in the Mississippi or South Sea Bubble enterprises which was not duplicated in kind at least in that which underlay the violent liquidation in prices of securities that so marred the fortunes of millions in the year just elapsed. The theory has grown apace, in view of the liquidation without panic in 1903, that with stronger and bigger banks, chains of banking houses, clearing houses, combinations of industries and mercantile enterprises, panics may be prevented, just as civilization has found panaceas for various ills to which the flesh is heir. But fright, which is the basis of panic, is like a thief in the night. It may seldom be foreseen. No solvent bank or merchant could meet all its or his obligations if asked for peremptorily, at the instant. The undue expansion of credits, by either, in proportion to reserves, in an emergency, is always likely to precipitate a crisis, after which the house of cards falls. The dangers of company promotion, over-capitalization, undue expansion of credits have been and still are too often overlooked. Nine years is a long while in which to prepare to avoid a given contingency. It also furnishes time in which to grow prosperous and careless, and in which to forget."
* * *
The above clipping, we believe, is from The Saturday Evening Post. We print it not for its own sake as an item merely, but also because it so closely coincides with our expectations, based on the divine Word --regarding the ending of "Gentile Times" in October, 1914, when will follow the "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation;"--the anarchous period which will in divine providence be followed by the Kingdom rule of everlasting righteousness.
Our readers will recall that for the past two years we have expressed the opinion that there would not
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be time for a general panic and its following years of depression and then another gradual rise and another panic before 1914, and that we therefore looked for only a temporary lull of the world's prosperity now (such as is now being experienced) followed by a period of reasonable prosperity of growing proportions lasting for some years. We advise the consecrated, however, to take heed not to be overcharged by cares of this life and the pursuit of riches. Seek first the Kingdom. So long as we can realize ourselves heirs of it we can feel "rich toward God." "All things are yours, for ye are Christ's and Christ is God's."
THE TREASURES OF ETHIOPIA.
It has long been known that King Menelek of Abyssinia, Africa, claims to be a lineal descendant of Solomon through the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba; but the evidences of this have only recently been discovered by H. LeRoux, a French scientist. LeRoux obtained permission to visit the islands of the Sacred Lake, where he discovered, in a semi-ruined monastery, documents written on ancient paper parchments (papyri) dating back to the time of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon and ascribing to him the paternity of the first King Menelek.
Our informant declares that LeRoux is in great favor with the king, or negus, Menelek, and has been granted permission to negotiate the construction of a railroad into Abyssinia and to make further explorations on the islands of that sacred lake, Zonai. These islands, which, until the day when visited by LeRoux, had never been seen save in the distance by any white man, are dotted with ancient monasteries, most of them in ruin, and only a few of them inhabited by ignorant monks, who have no knowledge or power to comprehend the importance of the treasures that are contained within the walls of their abode. For it is known that at the time of the great Mohammedan invasion about 400 years ago, all the sacred relics and the treasures of the nation, all the historical records and, in fact, everything of value, was bundled off to the monasteries on the island of Zonai and concealed therein order to protect them from being carried off and destroyed by the Moslems.
It is a matter of tradition in Abyssinia and of belief in the scientific world of Europe that the original Jewish Ark of the Covenant, containing the Mosaical stone of Tables of Law and all the other treasures of the Temple of Solomon, which disappeared from Jerusalem at the time of the so-called Jewish captivity, were despatched by the Jewish high priests for safety to Abyssinia. It is generally believed that the Ark of the Covenant, along with all the other relics contained in the holy of holies of the Temple of Solomon, will be found in some of these monastery islands of Lake Zonai.
JAPAN AND CHRISTIANITY.
That the Japanese are not becoming Christianized but merely civilized, note the views of a Japanese university professor, quoted in the Booklovers' Magazine as follows:--
"Our empire has salted all the seas that have flowed into it. The West cannot hope to Christianize Japan when our ambition is to Japanize Christianity, and to carry the new doctrines, the gospel of rational ethics, to the millions of Asia, and, in time, to all the world. We shall go to China--in fact, we are already there--with a harmonious blending of the best precepts in Buddhism, Confucianism, Bushido, Brahmanism, Herbert Spencer, Christianity and other systems of thought, and we shall, I think, have little trouble in awakening the naturally agnostic mind of the Chinese to the enlightenment of modern free thought. What the Far East needs is a religion as modern as machinery. We have had more gods than were good for us. We believe that a cosmopolitan gospel, tolerating the existence but minimizing the potency of prayers, offerings, shrines, temples, churches, litanies and gods, and dwelling more on the time that now is and the relation of man to man, will create a wonderful reformation in Asia. We confidently believe that it has been assigned to Japan to lead the world in this new intellectual era in the progress of mankind."
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WATCH TOWER SPECIAL BIBLES,
WITH WIDE MARGINS, CONTAINING DAWN AND TOWER REFERENCES.
ONE brother, noting our recent call for these Bibles, writes us that if we will issue a new edition he would gladly purchase eight copies. We note the fact, and if 3,000 more were thus wanted we would lose no time in arranging for them. We fear that many have only partially learned the value of the special features of this remarkable work.
For the benefit of new readers we explain that the Bible is printed from the regular Linear Bible plates, showing Common and Revised Versions at once. It has wide margins, in which, aside from the usual references, are special ones which direct to the volume and page of TOWER or DAWNS treating the passage.
Notwithstanding the advance in the cost of paper and leather, we believe that we could duplicate the special prices, too. They were: French Seal, divinity circuit, gold edges, $2.00. Genuine Morocco, " " 3.00.
The matter is with you. We will undertake the labor, etc., if a sufficient number desire the Bibles to make the new edition practicable.
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THE GREAT PYRAMID MEASUREMENTS.
ARE we quite sure of the accuracy of the measurements of the Great Pyramid's passages as given in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III.? I have seen another measurement of the downward passage (3465 inches instead of 3416 inches), said to be from Prof. Piazzi Smyth's writings, says a reader.
* * *
We have no reason to question the accuracy of the figures given in DAWN III. They were all secured from Prof. Piazzi Smyth's work entitled, Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid. Moreover the manuscript of that chapter was submitted to Prof. Smyth by a friend before it was published and no flaw in its figures was noted. The illustrations are of Prof. Smyth's preparation, too.
We remark, however, that Prof. Smyth's interest centered in the upper chambers of the Pyramid, and the passages leading upward to these. Much less care and precision are manifested in his dealings with all other parts of the Pyramid than with this. As an evidence of this note the difference in the two drawings in VOL. III. which show this downward passage and the "pit" at its terminus. In the frontispiece the lower or level portion of the downward passage is shown as running to the axis line of the Pyramid, nearly one-half the length of the "pit." The illustration showing "The Passage System" of the Pyramid (MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., page 333) shows this totally different--it shows the depressed and broken floor commencing before the vertical axis is reached. Examine the illustrations carefully and note what we refer to.
The cut of page 333 is to a scale, and, being prepared by the one Astronomer Royal of Scotland, it should be accurate, yet the figures we have given (3416 inches) reach (into the "pit" of this diagram, --to the "pit" in the frontispiece) to the vertical axis of the Pyramid. We cannot therefore see how any longer measure for the passage could be possible. Measure for yourself, using the scale given on the diagram, page 333. If you have not the proper calipers use a piece of stiff paper as your measuring line and then apply it to the scale.
At the time of the Editor's visit to the Pyramid in 1892 the downward passage was filled full of debris and evidently had been long in that condition, as only one Arab was found who had any knowledge of it. He was quite an old man who many years before had assisted Prof. Smyth. The Editor, therefore, like other measurers of recent years, could ascertain nothing new respecting the "downward passage."
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A SEARCH FOR ATONING BLOOD.
THE following will prove interesting reading to many of our subscribers. It is a report of remarks made by an old Hebrew at a "mission" meeting. We note that God has so overturned natural Israel that even if they had possession of the holy places where sacrifices were appointed to be offered, they have no priest qualified to make the offerings. No Jew living in the world today could prove his right to the priest's office by showing his pedigree back to Aaron. Jews named Levy and Cohen are supposed to be of the Levitical tribe, but could not prove it so as to qualify for the office according to their Law. With the true Priest and the offering of the "better sacrifices," the types were obliterated most effectually by the Lord. By and by fleshly Israel will realize the truth--they will "look upon him whom they pierced"--they will recognize him as the great Priest who "offered up himself." Thank God for the assurances of his Word on this subject in `Rom. 11:25-33`.
The testimony follows:--
"This is Passover week among you, my Jewish brethren, and as I sat here I was thinking how you will be observing it. You will have put away all leaven from your houses; you will eat the motsah-- unleavened wafers--and the roasted lamb. You will attend the synagogue services and carry out the ritual and directions of the Talmud; but you forget, my brethren, that you have everything but that which Jehovah required first of all. He did not say, 'When I see you eat the motsah or the lamb, or go to the synagogue;' but his word was, 'When I see the blood I will pass over you.' Ah, my brethren, you cannot substitute anything for this. You must have blood, BLOOD, BLOOD!"
As he reiterated this word with ever increasing emphasis, his black eyes flashed warningly, and his Jewish hearers quailed before him. "Blood!" It is an awful word, that, for one who reveres the ancient oracles and yet has no sacrifice. Turn where he will in the Book, the blood meets him, but let him seek as he may, he cannot find it in the Judaism of the present. After a few minutes' pause the patriarchal old man went on somewhat as follows:
"I was born in Palestine nearly seventy years ago. As a child I was taught to read the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets. I early attended the synagogue and learned Hebrew from the rabbis. At first I believed what I was told, that ours was the true and only religion, but as I grew older and studied the Law more intently I was struck with the place the blood had in all the ceremonies outlined there, and equally struck by its utter absence in the ritual to which I was brought up. Again and again I read Exodus 12 and Leviticus 16 and 17, and the latter chapters especially made me tremble, as I thought of the great Day of Atonement and the place the blood had there. Day and night one verse would ring in my ears, 'It is the
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blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.' I knew I had broken the Law. I needed atonement. Year after year, on that day, I beat my breast as I confessed my need of it; but it was to be made by blood, and there was no blood!
"In my distress I at last opened my heart to a learned and venerable rabbi. He told me that God was angry with his people. Jerusalem was in the hands of the Gentiles, the temple was destroyed, and a Mohammedan mosque was reared up in its place. The only spot on earth where we dare shed the blood of sacrifice, in accordance with `Deuteronomy 12` and `Leviticus 17`, was desecrated and our nation scattered. That was why there was no blood. God had himself closed the way to carry out the solemn service of the great Day of Atonement. Now we must turn to the Talmud, and rest on its instructions, and trust in the mercy of God and the merits of the fathers.
"I tried to be satisfied, but could not. Something seemed to say that the Law was unaltered, even though our temple was destroyed. Nothing else but blood could atone for the soul. We dared not shed blood for atonement elsewhere than in the place the Lord had chosen. Then we were left without atonement at all. This thought filled me with horror. In my distress I consulted many other rabbis. I had but one great question--`Where can I find the blood of atonement?'
"I was over thirty years of age when I left Palestine and came to Constantinople, with my still unanswered question ever before my mind, and my soul exceedingly troubled about my sins. One night I was walking down one of the narrow streets of that city, when I saw a sign telling of a meeting for Jews. Curiosity led me to open the door and go in. Just as I took a seat I heard a man say: 'The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.' It was my first introduction to Christianity, but I listened breathlessly as the speaker told how God had declared that, 'Without shedding of blood is no remission,' but that he had given his only begotten Son, the Lamb of God, to die, and all who trusted in his blood were forgiven all their iniquities. This was the Messiah of the fifty-third of Isaiah; this was the suffering of Psalm 22. Ah, my brethren, I had found the blood of atonement at last! I trusted it, and now I love to read the New Testament and see how all the shadows of the Law are fulfilled in Jesus. His blood has been shed for sinners. It has satisfied Justice, and is the only means of salvation for either Jew or Gentile."
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CEASE TO DO EVIL, LEARN TO DO WELL.
--`ISA. 1:1-9,16-20`.--NOVEMBER 20.--
ISAIAH was one of the grandest of the Lord's prophets. Not only is his message couched in kindly, sympathetic terms, but it is most comprehensive, including, with the rebukes and exhortations appropriate to his own day and nation, sublime glimpses of the glorious future which the Lord in his own due time will bring to pass for the blessing not only of Israel, but of all the families of the earth. This variation in the style of the prophets teaches us that although all the holy prophets spoke and wrote as they were moved by the holy Spirit, nevertheless the Lord was pleased to permit his messengers to throw into their words a certain amount of their own personality. We may assume, too, that the Lord in choosing his messengers had in view their personal characteristics as well as their willingness to be used as his mouthpieces. While, therefore, we appreciate all the prophets and all their messages as being from the Lord, we may properly enough discriminate amongst them, loving most those who most abundantly manifested the Spirit of the Lord. So today, while loving all the Lord's people and appreciating all whom he uses as servants of the Truth for its public and private ministry, we are bound to appreciate most those who with greatest constancy and fullest measure illustrate the teachings of the divine Word--who manifest most the Spirit of the Lord and the wisdom which cometh from above, which is "first pure, then peaceable, easy of entreatment, full of mercy and good fruits."
The `first verse` of our lesson simply informs us that the book of Isaiah, the prophecy of Isaiah and what he saw and foresaw, was prepared during the times of certain kings--altogether a period of about forty years.
His prophecy opens with a stirring appeal, "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken." The message was not to be considered as the wisdom or exhortation of Isaiah, but as the Lord's message through the Prophet. It is the Lord who declares, "I have nourished and brought up children and they have rebelled against me." The original signifies, "I have caused children to grow up and have lifted them high in greatness and they have rebelled." All familiar with the history of natural Israel can appreciate the truth of this statement. From the little obscure beginning the Lord brought that people forward to the most prominent place in the world's history and gave them much advantage every way, chiefly in that he communicated to them his will through Moses and the prophets, promising them additional greatness in the future. Notwithstanding all these favors of God they were a rebellious people, as both the Old and New Testaments agree. In saying this we do not wish it to be understood that the Israelites were worse than the other nations, to whom God extended no such favors and privileges: we have no reason for so thinking. Quite probably the other nations under the same circumstances would have followed a similar course; but it was a wrong course, an ungrateful course, a sinful course, nevertheless.
A FORM OF GODLINESS WITHOUT ITS POWER.
In Israel was illustrated the natural tendency of humanity towards sin--the downward tendency resulting from the fall. In that nation was illustrated the fact that if God had not imposed the death penalty and separation
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from his favor, the result anyway would have been downward, and more seriously so because of the continuance of life and the increasing opportunities for delving into sin. In other words, we can readily see that had God not interposed with the death sentence, the condition of the world would today probably have been much more terrible than it now is. Even with the brevity of life staring the world in the face, and disease blighting every pleasure and comfort, and fear clouding every hope, the tendency is to forget God and to go every one after his own schemes and selfish plans: how terrible would have been the condition without this constraining influence, with perfection of health, with the fruits of the garden and perpetual life. As it is we see that even the part of the penalty which refers to sorrows and labor with sweating of face, incidental to present "cursed" conditions, is a great blessing, a great restraint to the downward tendency of sin. Those who must labor here and have much of tribulation are thereby led to look away from present conditions to the Lord and to the relief which he offers.
God proposed to adopt the children of Abraham according to the flesh for his children, and the nation of Israel was hoping to attain this glorious station, "Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come." Since they were "cast off" when they rejected Messiah, this same hope has still been before all of their nation who believe in Jesus and the gracious things of the Kingdom which he has promised to all called and found faithful to him. (`Acts 26:6,7`.) We are to distinguish between the few and the many. There was a remnant in natural Israel who did not rebel against the Lord, but who, like the prophet Isaiah, sought to walk in his ways. And so likewise in nominal spiritual Israel, there are two classes in both cases. The masses, however, now as then, are in an attitude of rebellion against the Lord. Not that they rebel openly, but while outwardly affecting obedience and reverence, in their hearts they are far from the Lord and his requirements.
"The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider." The brute recognizes an obligation to the one who cares for him, while often those gifted with bright intellects, as, for instance, the masses of Christendom today --like the masses of the Jews in Isaiah's day--seem not to realize their responsibility to the Lord, their dependence upon him and their proper obligations to him. A "remnant," a handful as it were, appreciate the situation. The Apostle Paul refers to this class saying, "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price," "even the precious blood of Christ"--therefore glorify God in your bodies and spirits which are his. The masses do not consider, they have no time to consider; they are too busy with their own plans and schemes--honest and dishonest; selfishness and pride have full control of them.
The Prophet addresses Israel as sin-laden and corrupt through having forsaken the Lord. He tells them that their course implies that they have despised the Lord--his promises of blessing to the obedient and his threats of retribution to evil doers; then he inquires what would be the use of any more stripes or chastisements, what hope would there be of effecting a reformation?--"Ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores." This picture probably referred to the people as a whole and to their land, which had been desolated by their enemies from the north and from the south. These chastisements had not wrought reformation, and apparently the only thing to do with the nation was to wipe it out, and this the Lord did about a century later, permitting their enemies to lay waste and make utterly desolate the land, without inhabitants for seventy years. The Prophet Isaiah was probably looking down into the future rather than describing events of his own day when he said, "Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it...and the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in the vineyard, as a lodge in the garden." The booth and lodge were very unsafe, unsatisfactory, temporary shelters, a dwelling whose occupant was continually on the alert against depredators, spoilers. Thus the Prophet pictures the condition of the Jewish nation--thus he shows to what their course would lead unless they turned from it.
NOMINAL SPIRITUAL ISRAEL ASTRAY.
We may draw a lesson applicable to Christendom, the civilized world, and see that so far as spirituality is concerned Christendom is in a deplorable condition. The enemies of the Truth, boastful higher critics and powerful evolutionists, have invaded all the territory of faith and hope and are laying waste the heritage of the Lord's people, and the majority are going into captivity to these enemies. Those who remain loyal to the Lord are in straits, and, like those who dwell in the booths and lodges watching against depredators, merely on the defensive, and that in unfavorable quarters in many respects.
As for the Lord's dealing with Christendom as a whole, it would be useless to prosecute the matter, as the increased knowledge and opportunities and blessings are seen to bring more of worldliness, selfishness and corruption: Why should they be stricken any more? Why should they be dealt with a view to correction? As a matter of fact we know that Christendom will not be much longer dealt with under present conditions: already we are in the time of the fall of Babylon, already the message is being proclaimed in every quarter of the spiritual heavens that the harvest of the age is come, that great Babylon is no longer to be esteemed God's representative in the earth, and that his people should all come out of her. (`Rev. 18:3`.) The light of Present Truth showing us the errors of Babylon is the divine voice to all who are of the Truth, to all who love the Truth. Such will hear and will obey.
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In `verse 9` the Prophet declares that, except for the small remnant left to the Lord, the nation and its hopes would have been like Sodom and Gomorrah--would have been utterly destroyed. Because of this faithful remnant in natural Israel to whom God's promises and favors belonged, he specially cared for that nation even after he permitted the full overthrow and desolation of their land to come upon them. His providences were with them still even in their captivity in Babylon, and he brought them back again, in due time, to their own land and perpetuated in that remnant the promises of which the nation as a whole had proven themselves unworthy. So it was again with natural Israel in the end of their age when Messiah appeared. He found only a remnant worthy of the Kingdom, and the great mass were cast off and the time of trouble destroyed them nationally. The faithful remnant, however, were accepted of the Lord to be the nucleus of the house of spiritual Israel, and to this number he has since been adding out of every nation, kindred and tongue.
Similarly also in the end of this Gospel age, at the second advent of Christ. The Scriptures assure us that only a remnant will be found Israelites indeed, while the majority, the great mass of Christendom, will be rejected. To these remnants the oppositions of their evil surroundings serve as polishing instruments to prove them, to test them, to prepare them for future services and honors. Otherwise, had there been no faithful ones found, all hopes of Kingdom privileges and blessings, so far as the people are concerned, would have failed, and Messiah alone, without his Church, would have been the King of the Millennial age. Had God not foreseen these remnants, Israel and Christendom would have received no more consideration than did the other nations of the earth.
To be as Sodom and Gomorrah, therefore, does not signify to be in an utterly hopeless condition as respects the future, though it would have implied hopelessness as respected the Kingdom opportunities of the Jewish and Gospel ages; because even to the Sodomites a blessing shall yet come through the glorified Christ Jesus, the Head, and the remnant Church, the little flock, his body. Our Lord mentioned this future hope of the Sodomites in one of his discourses, and the Prophet Ezekiel has stated it further in considerable detail, showing that as natural Israel will be reclaimed in due time from her cast-off condition and be dealt with by the great Messiah during the Millennial age, so also will the Sodomites come back to their "former estate," and if obedient they as well as others may yet return to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed, bought back, by the precious blood of Christ.-- `Ezek. 16:48-63`; `Matt. 10:15`.
"WASH YOU, MAKE YOU CLEAN."
The latter part of our lesson was addressed primarily to the well-intentioned Israelite of Isaiah's time. As an exhortation it reminds us of the words of John the Baptist and his disciples and of Jesus and his disciples when appearing to the Jewish nation in the harvest time of their age. It is a plea for reform to a people already justified, consecrated. We are to remember that the whole nation of Israel was baptized into Moses in the sea and in the cloud, and that, as the mediator, Moses, by divine arrangement instituted a covenant between God and Israel by which that nation was recognized as under special divine care, and by which their sins were typically atoned for every year in advance on the Day of Atonement with the blood of bulls and goats. These sacrifices, as the Apostle points out, could never really cleanse them from sins; they were merely temporary coverings of those sins, and typical lessons respecting the necessity of blood atonement for the sins of the whole world, into which they were precipitated by Adam's transgression. It was for the Israelites to learn later in God's due time, about the better Mediator than Moses, about his better sacrifices for sins, and concerning the eternal redemption effected thereby.
Meantime they were to recognize their responsibility for such sins as they could have avoided, and they were to cleanse themselves from these and to seek the Lord with their whole hearts. The exhortation, therefore, of `verse sixteen` does not mean a washing away of original sin, which they could not effect, which was only figuratively
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done on the Day of Atonement and will only be actually accomplished by the Lord Jesus' work.
Hence this entire exhortation is as appropriate to spiritual Israel as it was to natural Israel. As they had their typical cleansings in their typical atonement sacrifices, we have our real cleansing in the better sacrifice of Christ. It is appropriate, however, that we remember that if we would be of those who will constitute his elect, if we would be of those who would be used of him as kings for the blessing of all the families of the earth, we must not only be justified from all the evils of the past but we must develop character by putting forth effort against evils which are natural to us, by overcoming those evils. The command is, "Cease to do evil." We can keep this command so far as our hearts, our intentions, are concerned. To be acceptable to God our wills must be firmly established in opposition to sin of every kind, and this will mean that to the extent of our ability all our words and conduct will be free from evil, free from sin; but since our new wills must operate through imperfect bodies, we cannot hope to be absolutely free from sin, from blemishes, from imperfection.
Similarly we are to strive continually to "learn to do well." Perfection must be our aim, and in our hearts it must be continually the criterion. But experience corroborates what the Scriptures set forth on the subject, namely, that in our imperfect condition and unfavorable surroundings we cannot do the things that we would--we cannot live fully up to the grand standard which our hearts appreciate and desire to meet. This reminds us of our Lord's words, "Be ye perfect even as your Father in
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heaven is perfect." The Lord knew that this would be impossible except in our minds, in our hearts, in our intentions; we cannot be his and be anything else than pure in heart, pure in intention. But he knew that we could not under present conditions measure up to the heavenly Father's perfection, nor could he set for us a lower standard than that. There is only the one standard, and we must attain to that as nearly as we can in our conduct and approve it fully in our hearts.
JUSTICE, EQUITY, A CHRISTIAN QUALITY.
But we should explain what is meant by "doing well." We are exhorted to "seek judgment [always be on the side of right and justice, desiring to do justice to all with whom we have dealings]; relieve the oppressed [be of generous spirit, be willing and anxious to lift some of the burdens from the groaning creation to the extent of our ability]; judge the fatherless [see that the orphans and those not properly capable of looking out for their own welfare shall suffer no loss at our hands, but on the contrary we shall do what we can to secure to them their just and reasonable rights]; plead for the widow [feel a sympathy for the helpless and plead their cause with others, which would imply generosity on our part as well as justice to them]."
It would appear that Christian people spend a good many years of their experiences as New Creatures without making great progress. One difficulty leading up to this condition is a failure to recognize the basic principles underlying the divine laws, which apply to us from the moment we are adopted into the Lord's family. The first of these basic principles is justice. We need to learn more and more clearly what are our own rights and the rights of our fellow creatures in the Church and out of the Church. We need to learn how to measure the affairs of ourselves and of others with the plummet of justice, and to realize that we must not under any circumstances or conditions infract the rights, interests or liberties of others--that to do so would be wrong, sinful, contrary to the divine will, and a hindrance to our growth in grace. Secondly, we must learn to esteem love as next to justice in importance in the divine code. By love we mean not amativeness nor soft sentimentality, but that principle of kindness, sympathy, consideration and benevolence which we see manifested in our heavenly Father and in our Lord Jesus.
In proportion as we grow up in the Lord, strong in him, it must be along the lines of these elements of his character. More and more we must appreciate and sympathize with others in their trials and difficulties and afflictions; more and more we must become gentle, patient, kind toward all, but especially toward the household of faith. All the graces of the Spirit are elements of love. God is love, and whoever, therefore, receives of his Spirit receives the spirit of love.
These two basic principles must cover all of our conduct in life. Justice tells us that we must cease to do evil --that we must not speak a word or do an act that would work injustice to another, nor even by look imply such injustice; we must be as careful of his or her interests and welfare as of our own. Justice must cover all of our dealings with others. Love may permit us to give them more than justice would require, but justice demands that we must never give them less than due, no matter if they do not require justice at our hands, no matter if they are willing to take less than justice, no matter if they would say nothing if we should take advantage of them, no matter if they would not appreciate our degree of justice--no matter, our course is the same. We have received of the Lord's Spirit, and must act from this standpoint and not from the standpoint of others who have not his Spirit or who are more or less blinded and disabled thereby from dealing justly.
If justice must mark our conduct toward others, so love must be used by us in measuring the conduct of others toward us. We may not apply to others the strict rules of justice which we acknowledge as our responsibility to them. Love, generosity, demand that we accept from others less than justice, because we realize that they are fallen, imperfect, not only in their flesh but also in their judgments. Furthermore, we see that the great mass of the world has not received the Spirit of the Lord at all, and therefore cannot fully appreciate these basic principles of justice and love as we appreciate them. We must in love look sympathetically upon their condition, as we would upon the condition of a sick neighbor or friend, parent or child. We must make allowance for their disordered condition, and think as charitably as possible of their words, conduct, etc.
LOVE AND JUSTICE BOTH CONTROL.
This does not mean that we must be blind and oblivious to true conditions, and permit ourselves to be deprived of all that we possess or earn; but it does mean that we should take a kind, sympathetic view of the unrighteousness and injustice of those with whom we have dealings --that we should remember that they are fallen and that they have not received the grace of God as we have received it, and that they are not, therefore, to be measured by the line of strict justice, but rather that their imperfections are to be allowed for reasonably by the elastic cord of love. It is our own conduct that we are to measure by the rule of justice, the Golden Rule.
How clearly the Master sets forth these conditions, urging upon us the Golden Rule as the measure for our conduct toward others, and that in measuring their conduct toward us we shall be as generous as we shall wish our Lord to be in his judgment of ourselves, in harmony with his statement, "With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged." A right appreciation of these basic principles, justice and love, by the Lord's people, and worked out in the daily affairs of life, would lift them above the world. It would save many an altercation,
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many a law suit, many a quarrel, and would make of the Lord's people shining examples of kindness, generosity, love, and at the same time examples of justice, right living, sterling honesty, etc.
`Verses 18-20` apply specially to natural Israel, though we shall see that an application is also possible to spiritual Israel. Without telling the Israelites how he would accomplish the complete cancellation of their sins in due time through the great antitypical sacrifice, the Lord merely assures them of the fact that such a result would come, and that if they would accept this by faith they would see how reasonable were the Lord's requirements in every particular. If they would thus seek to walk in the Lord's ways they would eat the good of the land, they would have blessings upon their herds and flocks and crops, for this was the Lord's covenant with that nation; while on the contrary it was equally a part of the covenant that if they would be disobedient to him they would go into captivity, fall by the sword, have famine, pestilences, etc.--See our Lord's statement of this matter in `Leviticus 26:3-33`.
The application to spiritual Israel is that we should continually remember that we were bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, and that his sacrifice and not any works that we could do are the basis of our acceptance with God--that by his stripes we are healed. Another lesson is that no matter how gross or dark our condition was before we thus came to the Lord, no matter how sinful we had been in ignorance and darkness, the merit of the great Atonement Sacrifice covers all these blemishes and makes us from the moment it is applied absolutely clean, "whiter than snow." We are to remember that those sins do not cling to us afterward, that we will not be held responsible for them even though some weakness of the flesh resulting from sin may be with us even until the day of death. The New Creature accepted in Christ is counted as being without spot or blemish. We are to appreciate this standing granted to us as sons of God, and not, like the prodigal, eat the swinish husks nor walk carelessly in life, so as to have the robes of our justification sullied by contact with the world and the flesh. We are, as the Apostle declares, to "keep ourselves unspotted from the world."
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Thus appreciating our standing, relationship and favors, we are to enter willingly and obediently into all the good will of God, seeking to cultivate in ourselves the principles of his righteousness--justice and love. The assurance is that under these conditions we shall "eat the good of the land." To us this would not refer to natural good things, but to spiritual good things, for have we not exchanged our interest in all earthly things for the heavenly, the spiritual? Thus it is fulfilled: the Lord's true followers have the best there is so far as heart and mind, peace and rest and joy are concerned--the "peace of God which passeth all understanding," and a realization that "all things are ours, for we are Christ's and Christ is God's."
If, on the contrary, the spiritual Israelites of today refuse to walk in harmony with the Lord's direction and rebel against him, they would surely bring upon themselves the "destruction," the Second Death which the Scriptures indicate as the proper portion of those who, after having tasted the good Word of God, the powers of the world to come, and have been made partakers of the holy Spirit, fall away in unappreciation--unthankfulness.
We might remark, too, that amongst those who maintain their relationship to God as willing and obedient, there is a difference: Some are willing and obedient when the matter comes to a crisis and they must decide as between the Lord and the world, as between the Lord and the Adversary. They are loyal to the Lord to the extent that they would never oppose him. Such will be overcomers, but will constitute the "Great Company" class. Others of this class, more zealous, more faithful, more willing and more obedient, will be brought off more than conquerors and get more than the spiritual new nature. Their reward will be the glory, honor and immortality, joint-heirship in the Kingdom, as the Bride, the Lamb's Wife.
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SPIRITUAL AND ANIMAL INTOXICATION.
--`ISAIAH 28:1-13`.--NOVEMBER 27.--
Golden Text:--"They also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way."
THIS date has been for years observed throughout England as "Temperance Sunday," and the International S.S. Lesson Committee of the United States has appropriated the date for the conservation of temperance interests in the United States also.
We yield to none in opposition to intoxicating beverages and in abhorrence of the terrible results they entail. We acknowledge also that the Scriptures everywhere favor temperance, and nowhere favor intemperance. We agree also that those of humanity who are entrapped by this snare are either very weak or very foolish, with the numerous evidences all about them showing the bestiality which intoxication induces and in general the evils entailed. We agree further that no saint should ever be intoxicated, and accept the Lord's word that "no drunkard shall inherit the Kingdom of God." (`I Cor. 6:10`.) Nevertheless, we find very little in the Scriptures addressed to the saints on this subject, and would be surprised if matters were otherwise. Why should those who have received the spirit of a sound mind, the wisdom that cometh from above--why should such require special exhortation not to be intoxicated, not to be intemperate? In harmony with
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our expectation we find the Apostle's exhortation to the Church is to be temperate in all things--in eating, in drinking, in clothing, in pleasure, in sorrow. "Let your moderation be known unto all men," says the Apostle.-- `Phil. 4:5`.
THE DRUNKARDS OF EPHRAIM.
We are aware that our lesson could be viewed with some degree of reason as a temperance lesson--as an exhortation against the use of natural intoxicants. We agree that the Prophet might possibly have referred to the drunkards amongst the people of the ten-tribe kingdom known as Ephraim or as Israel, but we do not understand that this was the Lord's object in giving the message of which our lesson is a part. We believe that he was rather giving a lesson to us, his spiritual house of sons of this Gospel age. The lesson surely is either a literal statement respecting literal intoxication, or a figurative one respecting figurative intoxication. If literal, the whole connection should bear this out by being similarly literal; if figurative, the whole connection should bear it out as figurative.
We cannot think that the drunkards of Ephraim were so numerous or so highly esteemed as to be "the crown of pride" of that nation, nor that those drunkards lay "at the head of every fat valley," nor that the Lord paid so much more attention to those drunkards than he does to drunkards of our day as that he would make a special demonstration against them. On the contrary, we must assume that while intemperance may have been one of the faults of the people of Israel, pride was another and perhaps a greater one. They were intoxicated with pride and self-sufficiency, and did not properly appreciate their dependence upon the Lord. Hence it was that a few years after the date of this prophecy that proud people were carried captive by their enemies into Syria. It was the coming of this enemy that is figuratively referred to as a tempest of hail, a destroying storm, a flood of mighty waters that cast down the crown of pride of those people intoxicated with self-conceit.
THE LESSON TO NOMINAL SPIRITUAL ISRAEL.
In previous studies we noted that, in harmony with the Apostle's words, nearly all the Old Testament prophecies were written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages have come, and in many instances those who uttered the prophecies and those who heard them comprehended them not. (`I Pet. 1:12`.) The prophecy at present under consideration we understand to be of this kind--specially applicable to spiritual Israel, though not without a meaning to natural Israel at the time of this writing. Today we see the Christian world intoxicated, bewildered and confused with the wine of false doctrine mentioned so explicitly in our Lord's last message to his people. There it is clearly set forth that the great mother of harlots would make all the nations of Christendom drunk with the wine of her fornication. The crown of pride and the fat valleys of her possessions are easily seen from this standpoint. Churchianity today is intoxicated with its material prosperity, its increasing power and dignity in the world. It wears a crown of pride and self-sufficiency, and in a stupid and maudlin way is blinded to its real condition. Thus our Lord pictures nominal Israel of the present day as the Laodicean Church, and declares, "Thou art wretched, miserable, blind and naked," though "thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." The prosperity of Churchianity is, however, like the fading flower--its beauty and fragrance will soon pass away; it will soon be swallowed up like a first ripe fig.
But at the same time that the glory passes away from the nominal system a proportionately special blessing will come to the residue of the Lord's people who are not of this class, drunken with the wine of false doctrine, but, as the Apostle declares, "Sober, girding up the loins of their minds, and pressing along the narrow way for the prize." This will mean to this class a spirit of judgment, or what the Apostle calls the spirit of a sound mind, enabling them to comprehend the divine plan, and enabling them to be strong in the defense of the Truth and to "turn the battle to the gate;" that is to say, the citadel of Truth will be preserved notwithstanding the fall of the masses of Churchianity. This is in accord with the prophetic statement, "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked, because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation."-- `Psalm 91:7-10`.
Where do we find ourselves, dear brethren and sisters, as we investigate this picture, so applicable to our day. Are we amongst those intoxicated with the spirit of the world, the spirit of Babylon, the spirit of Antichrist, the spirit of false doctrine, that has "a form of godliness but denies its power"? Or are we classed with the Lord and more and more being filled with the spirit of a sound mind? and are we standing faithful as good soldiers in the defense of the Truth and turning the battle at the gateway; not suffering that any false doctrine shall intrude upon us, but insisting that every doctrine shall be decided by the Word of the Lord, and be squared by the Golden Rule and by the Scriptural presentations on the subject of the Ransom? We trust that the more we examine ourselves the more we can assure ourselves that we are with the latter class.
`Verse 7` seemingly pictures these drunkards of Ephraim as the leaders of the people, their priests and prophets, their religious instructors, who have all been misled through the strong drink, the false doctrine of the dark ages, and who are all erring in vision and stumbling in their judgment respecting the Truth, the Divine Plan.
TABLES FULL OF VOMIT.
The statement in `verse 8` that all their tables are full of vomit and filthiness so that there is no place clean could
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hardly be understood to apply literally to the millions of Israelites of Isaiah's day, but it does apply spiritually to the millions of nominal Israel of our day. We need scarcely say that the table of the Lord's people signifies their spiritual supply of food, nourishment; and as we look about us we find in Churchianity many such tables, one to each denomination--its creed. The creed of each denomination represents what it claims God has set before it as the truth for its spiritual nourishment and refreshment; and for centuries each denomination has been busily inviting each other and the world to come to its table. Now, however, these tables are measurably deserted. Very few want to talk about the doctrine or creed of their sect; they generally prefer to ignore creeds.
Why? Because creeds are nauseating; they are spread with doctrines which the preachers and laity have rejected --"vomit"; they are full of filthiness; there is no place clean, as the Prophet describes. Not a solitary creed in Christendom will stand examination in the light of common sense; not a preacher in any "orthodox denomination" --that is, in any denomination that is recognized by the Evangelical Alliance--would be willing to discuss the church creed which he accepted and outwardly professes and vowed to teach.
On the contrary, how is it with the remnant mentioned in `verses 5 and 6`? Have they any table? Yes, indeed! They have a table spread with divine bounties, and it is referred to prophetically in the 23d Psalm, "My table thou hast furnished in the presence of mine enemies." Having gotten free from the wine of the false doctrine of Babylon, these have sought the Truth of the Divine Word unadulterated, and have drawn nigh unto the Lord with their hearts and not with their lips merely; they have gotten mercy and found grace to help in time of great need. The Lord has bountifully supplied their wants with truths both new and old, and thus he fulfilled the promise he made when leaving us, saying to those servants who would be ready to hear the knock, indicating his "presence" at his second coming, that he would open the door, enter in and sup with them. Furthermore, he promised that he would gird himself and become our servant, and bring forth to his faithful ones things new and old from the larder, from the treasure house of truth and grace. We found it so! We have a table spread with the most wonderful bounties, "riches of grace, mercy and truth."
Taking up the matter from a little different standpoint, `verse 9` throws out a suggestive inquiry in full harmony with the foregoing,--"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand [pure] doctrine?" Here is the key for the foregoing. The difficulty with Churchianity is a superabundance of mysticism, ignorance and superstition and a dearth of knowledge--"My people perish for lack of knowledge." The question is asked in order to suggest something in connection with the answer, as though the question were, Why does not the Lord instruct those who are drunken with ignorance and error? Why does he not teach them the Truth?
The answer is that those who will be ready for the pure doctrine must first be weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts. So long as the Lord's people are babes to the extent that is here indicated, they will be dependent upon the systems and sects and false doctrines with which the Adversary has so much to do in developing. Those who are the Lord's true people in these various sects must get strong enough to be weaned from them before they can be in the proper attitude of mind to receive the Lord's instructions from another quarter. To all who are thus weaned from Churchianity the Lord will very graciously grant precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, and there a little, that they may grow thereby, that they may become strong in the Lord and able to partake eventually of the strong meat which he so abundantly supplies to those of His table--His Word.
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WITH STAMMERING LIPS.
`Verse 11` tells of the stammering lips with which the message is being told, little by little, line upon line. Is it not so? Those who are proclaiming Present Truth by the printed page and orally are for the most part quite unqualified for the work from the standpoint of the world. Just as in the Jewish harvest the Lord's people were mostly from common people as now--not many great, not many wise, not many learned has God chosen, but chiefly the poor of this world,--but rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom.
Through these stammering lips of the Lord's consecrated humble ones a proclamation is made throughout Christianity, saying, "This is the rest wherewith you may rest, and this is the refreshing." There is no doubt at all that this brief description of the harvest message is very appropriate to the divine plan of the ages. It is indeed to those who can receive it a message of rest and refreshment, but, as the Prophet pointed out, the majority will not hear. Nevertheless, the message of the Lord is to be sent forth, line upon line, precept upon precept, tract upon tract, here a little and there a little, that every true child of God may be reached and be gathered out of Babylon. "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and receive not of her plagues."
The Prophet points out that the result will be that the nominal system will go and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. We see that this is already approaching. Higher Criticism and Evolutionism is undermining the faith of the great body of Christendom; unbelief is ensnaring them, and their fall backward is near at hand. How appropriate it is that those who have the privilege of being the Lord's mouth-pieces now shall cry aloud, not with the view of awakening or converting, or reforming Churchianity as a whole, but to arouse the few --all amongst them who are the Lord's true sheep.
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It will be remembered that the Apostle quoted the `last verse` of our lesson and applied it also in the end of the Jewish age--pointing out that because of unbelief the nation of Israel stumbled and fell from divine favor. We have already seen on previous occasions the parallel between the Jewish and Gospel dispensations, and are therefore to expect in nominal spiritual Israel something to correspond to the stumbling and falling which took place in nominal natural Israel in the end of their age.
Who shall be able to stand? Let us abide under the shadow of the Almighty, and stand firmly for the righteousness of Christ, the standard that the Lord has set up; and let us put on the whole armor of God, and having done all, stand.
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INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
JUSTIFIED OR CONDEMNED
Question.--If lasting life is the portion of all when awakened, are they justified? If not justified, are they still under condemnation? If neither justified nor condemned, what is their condition?
Answer.--The condition of the world on trial during the Millennial age will be neither one of justification nor of condemnation. The "curse" of the whole world under divine condemnation, or sentence to death on account of Adam's sin, will cease thoroughly and completely with the close of this Gospel age, with the close of the antitypical Day of Atonement. But if, when awakened, all past sins were fully and freely forgiven, and the world were on trial before the bar of the Heavenly Father, they would be subject to instant condemnation as unworthy, unfit to live, because the divine law is that only that which is perfect shall live. Hence God has provided the mediatorial Kingdom of Christ to deal with the poor world in its wretched and undone condition, after the divine sentence against mankind has ceased, has been cancelled, has been revoked. The revoking of the sentence of death effects no restitution--the two things are entirely separate and distinct.
Take an illustration: Suppose a man, justly condemned to death for murder, had already served twenty years of imprisonment, and in that time he had become bald, lost half his teeth and to some extent his eyesight. Suppose that in some manner the cancellation of the sentence against him was accomplished and that he was set free, would the cancellation of the balance of the sentence restore to the man his teeth or his hair or his eyesight or anything else? Surely not. But if a kind friend had in some manner effected a settlement of his sentence, we may be sure the same friend would be glad upon his release to assist him in any manner in his power--to make good so far as possible his loss. He could procure for him glasses that would aid his sight, false teeth and a wig, and that would come as near as the friend could go to doing that which the Lord Jesus proposes to do for the human family by restitution processes.
The Millennial Kingdom will have full charge of the human family. He who bought the race with his own precious blood, he who effected a cancellation of the sentence, is to be granted a thousand years to effect the restitution of so many of those whom he bought as choose to come back into harmony with God and his laws.
We have seen they will not be in a condemned condition, because their sins will be forgiven. For the same reason they will not be justified by faith, because it is better to be forgiven than to be merely "covered," or reckoned forgiven. Their condition and relationship to Christ under the New Covenant provisions of mercy will be all that could be desired for them. A little confusion is apt to prevail in our minds for a time on this subject of justification. Realizing how important is our justification, how indispensable to our relationship to the Father and our joint-heirship with Christ, we are now inclined to feel that a similar justification process would be necessary for the world by and by. But not so. If the world were to be on judgment before the Father they would need justification, that is, a reckoned imputation of righteousness, a covering with Christ's merit, etc.; but they are not to stand before the judgment seat of the Father until the close of the Millennial age. They are to be on judgment and trial before Christ, not as sons of Adam, under his condemnation, etc., but as individuals, taken just for what they are, judged according to their several abilities for obedience. At the close of the Millennial age, when Christ's Kingdom shall be delivered up to God, even the Father (`1 Cor. 15:24`), these will not need justification by faith in order to stand before him, because during the Millennial age they will have been tried according to their works, and only those justified by works will have any standing before the Father; and they, being perfect, will need no covering for imperfections, but be in just such a condition as the Father could approve and declare worthy of continued lasting life.
WHAT IS REPENTANCE?
Question.--How would you define repentance from the Scriptural standpoint?
Answer.--Webster's definition merely gives the views of mankind in general on this subject. We are
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not to choose which we prefer, but are to choose the definition which the Scriptures substantiate; namely this, "Godly sorrow worketh repentance." People may be sorry, without being repentant, in matters in which they have failed where they had wished to succeed. This is not a godly sorrow, but merely a sorrow of disappointment and regret; just as the thief who attempted to steal and was caught was, of course, sorry that he was caught. The godly sorrow is that which is sorrow for the sin rather than for the penalty, and sorrow for the sin produces repentance and reformation of character--the only kind recognized in the Scriptures.
Let us not be misunderstood in this matter. Sorrow for sin does not necessarily mean a certain amount of tears and agony: it does mean a contrition of the heart, a regretful heart on account of sin, with a full determination to do to the contrary. We mention this, because some of our Methodist friends hold that unless there be manifestations of agony there has been no true repentance. To this we cannot assent. The sorrow or regret respecting the past is manifested by a radical change of life.
We are not competent to pass upon the case of Cain, to determine whether or not he had a proper repentance or merely a fear of punishment. "Judge nothing before the time." Cain's own particular sentiments would have nothing to do with the fact that in a general way he represented the world, with its evil spirit, while Abel represented Christ and the Church, with the sacrificing spirit. Assuredly, if we abhor evil and grieve upon doing that which is wrong, and cleave to that which is good, it must be because we have learned "the exceeding sinfulness of sin." This implies regret for any measure of wilfulness in any sins we may have committed.
In re justification; we believe that quite a good many Christians were born in a justified condition, and that the sentiments of their hearts always were for righteousness, and that therefore they cannot accuse themselves of having sinned wilfully, nor feel such great contrition as those who have been living in sin--in alienation from God. Nor should they. They are already the Lord's, and for them to be converted (turned round) would mean to turn away from the Lord. The Editor is one of this class.
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SITTING WITH ABRAHAM, ISAAC AND JACOB IN THE
Question.--Who are meant when it is said, "Many shall come from the east and from the west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of heaven"?--`Matt. 8:11`.
Answer.--As already pointed out in the DAWN series, the Gospel Church only will constitute the Kingdom in its highest and strictest sense; but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the ancient worthies will be the chief ministers of that Kingdom in the world of mankind, and all mankind will be invited to come into harmony with the spiritual Kingdom, that God's will may be done in this, as an earthly class, as it is done in the heavenly class. In this sense of the word, all who shall accept of the terms and conditions of the Kingdom will sit down, or be at rest and at peace with God, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the faithful of the earthly class. Thus it will be seen that the Lord is pointing to a large class of the world of mankind who will ultimately become citizens of the earthly phase of the Kingdom. This same thought is represented in Revelation, where it is intimated that all the worthy will enter into the city --the Kingdom--while without will be all the unworthy, who love and serve sin, subjects of the Second Death.
"CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE"
Question.--Who are the "children of disobedience" of `Eph. 2:2`?
Answer.--Since father Adam was created in God's likeness, and is designated a son of God, it follows that all of his children, had they remained in harmony with God, would have been sons of God,--earthly sons. But since Adam became disobedient, and all of his children shared in his fall, all of the race of Adam are children of disobedience, children under punishment, under wrath, except those who have "escaped the condemnation that is upon the world," by acceptance of the divine provision of favor and return to harmony with their Creator. Those who return to harmony with God through the appointed way become children of obedience; those who do not, even though they have not yet had the full opportunity which God designs they ultimately shall have to discern good from evil, and though they may choose the good, are, nevertheless, even now denominated "children of disobedience" and "children of wrath."
DEAD TO THE LAW BY THE BODY OF CHRIST
Question.--In `Romans 7:4` we read: "Ye also are become dead to the Law by the body of Christ that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead." What body is meant--the body of Jesus' flesh or "the Church his body"?
Answer.--It refers to the flesh of Jesus, whose death cancelled all claims of the Law against a believing Jew--made free to become united to the risen Christ (the Lord of Glory) as new creatures, as his Bride.