ZWT - 1902 - R2929 thru R3124 / R3112 (353) - December 1, 1902
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VOL. XXIII. DECEMBER 1, 1902. No. 23.
Views from the Watch Tower........................355
The Church as the Maker of the
Sees Industrial War Ahead.....................357
The Mountain of the Lord's House..................357
"Speak, Lord; for thy Servant
Christmas Hopes and Joys..........................362
Review of the Year................................365
"The Lord is My Shepherd."........................365
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MANY of the truths of the Gospel were "preached beforehand" in the types and shadows of the Jewish economy. In the service of the tabernacle in the wilderness were embodied the principles of the entire plan of salvation, based upon the sacrifice of Christ, as represented in the bullock whose blood, sprinkled upon the mercy seat, made atonement.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
THE CHURCH AS THE MAKER OF THE WORLD'S
THIS TOPIC is treated in a manner with which we sympathize but do not agree, by Rev. S. Z. Batten, in an article in the American Journal of Sociology. He asserts that money and military glory are the "false ideals" before the world, and inquires whether or not the Church has really spoken out against either of these. He thinks not and proceeds:--
"In church and college, in society and in the press, rich men are honored and flattered and held up as models to be adored and imitated. The influence of all this, as any one can see, is to degrade the common morals; it is to set up a false ideal of life; it is to fire the imagination of the young with unholy and unworthy ambitions; it is to cast discredit on the poorer and humbler workers in the kingdom of God. Every careful student of modern society declares that the reign of commercialism has come, and with the reign of this commercialism there has come a sad confusion of moral values. This commercialism places money above life, and things before men. 'Our whole society,' says Felix Adler, 'is infiltrated with the money-getting idea.' There is danger lest a commercialism utterly destitute of moral and spiritual conceptions shall usurp the place which should be held by truer and Christlier ideals....
"Closely akin to this is another false ideal which is set up before the people for honor and imitation. As every one knows, the military ideal has held sway for untold ages over the minds and hearts of men, and the great men of history are largely military leaders and conquerors. How far militarism is necessary in an imperfect and evolving society it does not concern us here to inquire. The military captain no doubt has had his work to do in the world, and let him have his wreath of laurel leaves. But the military ideal, it is needless to say, is not the Christian ideal, and the two can never be completely harmonized."
Mr. Batten considers it the Church's duty to quicken the political conscience of the world; and considers it a dangerous sign that people have ceased to expect unselfishness in politics. He continues:--
"As every one knows, a double standard of morality prevails, and men have one kind of right for their personal and family lives, and a different kind of right for their political and commercial lives. All such things as sentiment, conscience and love are ruled out of politics, and we are told that the Decalogue and the Sermon on the Mount have nothing to do with a political campaign....The chancellor of the German empire has lately declared: 'I can not conduct foreign policy from the point of view of pure moral philosophy. It is not ours to ask what is right and what is wrong. The politician is no judge of morals; he has solely to maintain the interests and rights of his country.' Another man, not himself a practical politician, but a political philosopher, Professor Willoughby, declares: 'It is, in fact, quite superfluous to show in this age that from their own inherent nature divine and moral sanctions can have no application to political matters.' So long as such sentiments prevail in high places, it is not surprising that they should appear in low places. And so long as such sentiments prevail, whether in high places or in low, that long the church of Jesus Christ will have a most fiery and relentless mission."
Inquiring into the church's attitude on social questions, he declares that "in our time the power of Christianity is to be proved by its ability to create a Christian type of human society," and adds:--
"It is intolerable to all right religion that numbers of people should be miserable and needy while there is plenty to spare in the Father's house. No one who believes in Jesus Christ can believe that it is the will of the heavenly Father that one part of the human family shall go hungry and destitute while another part is living in luxury and ease. The most tragic fact about this poverty and ignorance is not the hunger
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and suffering, though these are sad enough. The saddest feature about it all is the waste of human life, the fact that the wonderful possibilities in these human brothers are never unfolded and realized. A social and industrial system in which one man controls thousands of lives and is possessed of millions of money; in which able-bodied men willing to work walk the streets in desperation looking for a job; in which thousands of women, owing to oppressive labor and small remuneration, are under a continual temptation to barter womanhood for gain; in which are tenements not fit for pig-sties where women fight with fever, and infants pant for air and wail out their little lives; in which the sweater's den and the grog-shop thrive--such a society is very far, indeed, from that order which God wishes and ordains."
To the query, Isn't this a hazardous topic? he replies:--
"That may be; but hazardous to whom? To the preacher? All the real hazard to him arises from the fact that he is faithless to his trust. To the hearers? Would to God it were more hazardous to those who are guilty of the monstrous wrongs which hurt their fellows and hinder the kingdom of God!...
"The mission of the church is evident; the church's credentials are clear; the need of the world is great. Nothing could be more weak and pitiful than for the churches to confess that whole provinces of life lie beyond their interest. Nothing could be more cruel and cowardly than for the churches to say that they have no word to offer on the problems which make the peril and the opportunity of our time. Nothing could be more calamitous and short-sighted than for the churches to leave to outsiders, to unbelievers often, the discussion of current wrongs and the leadership in moral reform."
THE GENTLEMAN'S WRONG VIEW-POINT.
We admire Mr. Batten's zeal and courage for the right, but discern that, like many more, he is in trouble by reason of a misconception of the divine plan of the ages and the Church's mission thereunder.
The Church should, indeed, "lift up a standard for the people," the world;--in her pulpits, in her press, and in the "living epistles" of her people. But she is not to blame that the world in general will not follow her precepts and example. Did our Lord himself or his apostles transform politics? or reconstruct society? or abolish wars and injustices in their day? Assuredly not. Unsatisfactory as is the condition of things at present it was much worse for the poor "groaning creation" then. (`Rom. 8:22`.) Were our Lord and the apostles at fault then? By no means. Neither is the Church to blame that present conditions are what they are.
But perhaps Rev. Batten would reply: The conditions now are different from what they were in the days of the apostles;--now we have what we call the "Christian World" of Europe and America and in these lands of "Christendom"; surely we should expect Christian methods in politics, finance and society.
What folly, dear brother! Is it possible for us to deceive ourselves into thinking that the world is Christianized? Is it possible for us even to consider that the professed church-membership is Christianized? Surely the term Christian world is as much a misnomer as the term Christian Scientist. Calling worldliness Christianity no more makes it so than calling black white would change it.
The Church "whose names are written in heaven" consists only of those who have the spirit, mind, will, disposition of their Lord and Master, their Redeemer. These, today as ever, are but a "little flock" as compared to even the nominal church, and are scattered here and there throughout the sects, whose Babylonish, worldly, fleshly spirit troubles them, but whose wine of false doctrine deceives them. (`Rev. 14:8`; `17:2`; `18:3`.) Wherever they are, they are striving after and more and more attaining to the high ideals of their Teacher, whose word they hear, reverence and follow. During the absence of the Chief Shepherd the flock has become greatly scattered by "wolves," and misled by "goats" into various
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sectarian pens, where the wolf and goat influences are very unfavorable and trying to them; but they still remain sheep and still listen for the Shepherd's voice.
We are living now in the day of the Shepherd's return;--he is calling his sheep not into a different pen and bondage, but to Christian freedom, with himself. And they are hearing his voice, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." (`Rev. 18:4`.) As at his first advent he gathered the Israelites indeed out of the Fleshly House, so now he will gather the same class out of the nominal Spiritual House. Then will his Kingdom come and his faithful have a share in it with their Lord.
Then, the social and moral and religious and political and financial standards of the world will be in their hands (`I Cor. 6:2`); with full power and authority to execute justice and judgment, and to lift up the poor and the needy, and him that hath no helper under the present regime of selfishness. But now, the true Church does not rule the world, but is an insignificant minority, charged by their Master to learn lessons in meekness, patience, faith and character-likeness to himself and merely to let their "light" shine before men whom they are forewarned they will be unable to influence to any appreciable extent; --because the darkness hateth the light and will refuse to be scattered by their tiny lamps, and will flee only when the Lord and his glorious Kingdom shall shine forth as the Sun of Righteousness.
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The Church indeed is to have as correct standards as possible now, and to display these before the world. They have already modified and do continually modify the world's conscience and standards; but they cannot transform them. The few who are transformed become soldiers of the cross;--"not of the world" even as their Master was not of the world.
* * *
As for the world, it is probably no worse at heart than it has ever been; but it has greater opportunities than ever for exercising its selfishness: moreover the world is probably more sincere, more candid, less hypocritical than of yore, and with a greater freedom each encourages the other to speak and act more nearly out of the abundance of the heart than formerly. This, however, it cannot be denied is dangerous under present conditions. Full liberty is sure to be more or less dangerous to all except saints,--the true Church--and even they must keep constant guard, and realize that they are not their own--that they have given up their liberty to the Lord and become his bond-servants, at liberty only to do what he approves.
OURS A HIGHER STANDARD.
The Lord's people are not to forget that while they should live up to the spirit of the world's best laws, they may go much farther than these in many respects. These laws represent the world's ideals as respects justice and generosity and kindness and unkindness; and frequently fall far short of the Lord's standards. It is not enough, therefore, that we keep within the laws of man: it is for the true members of Christ to "lift up a standard for the people"--God's standard, the Golden Rule.
In morals, too, the Lord's people are not to measure themselves by the world's standards; but to remember that it is their duty as exponents of the divine standards to discern sin and meanness and selfishness in the bright light of the spirit of the Truth and to measure up to that as nearly as their imperfect bodies and their environment, with the Lord's grace assisting, will permit.
SEES INDUSTRIAL WAR JUST AHEAD.
Dr. E. G. Hirsch sees in the struggle between the rich and powerful of America and the dependent classes the same conditions that existed in France just prior to the French Revolution. In a sermon delivered last night at Temple Israel, treating on the situation in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania, he sounded a note of warning to the "men who so audaciously declare that the treasures of the earth are by unquestionable right their own, to have and to hold against all mankind."
Today he reiterated the statements of the sermon.
"Our religion teaches," he said, "that a man's property is not his own, but is merely held by him in trust for the benefit of all. The powerful of earth should realize that we are in the midst of the same conditions that existed in France and which brought on the Revolution.
"The rich and powerful classes in France refused to take warning from what was going on about them and relied upon the power which they fancied they had. The Revolution came like the eruption of a volcano, and we in America should take warning.
"The earth belongs to God and not to individual men. Therefore whatever man produces should be administered to the benefit of all and not for that of the selfish few.
"The proper social condition is not one where men crush down the multitudes and disregard their claims upon their consideration, but where wealth is so distributed and organized that social well-being is within the reach of all honest and virtuous men.
"Right now we are standing over a volcano which may burst forth with all the fury of Pelee. The security of the men who despise the downtrodden burden-bearers is a fancied security.
"In times past the police and military forces of the country have been willing to protect them. They forget that these forces are drawn from the very ranks of the people they are oppressing, and that their sympathies are naturally with their own people. Therefore if they continue to disregard the wishes of the people and to fling insults at them the time will come when their calls for protection will fall upon unheeding ears.
"It is a saddening thought that a 'captain of industry' could become so inflated with his own arrogance as to lay God-given claim to his holdings upon the earth. Such a man is but fanning the smoldering embers of hate, discontent and unrest, so that the prosperity for which he hopes will pay the penalty. If they are temporarily successful in their oppression they must expect the discontent and hatred of the conquered to continue to rankle and to burst forth anew as soon as the oppressed have rested and recruited their strength.--Chicago American.
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THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD'S HOUSE.
"The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."--`Psalm 24:1-4`.
IN THIS PSALM the prophet David takes the standpoint of the dawn of the Millennial age, when, after the great time of trouble, the kingdoms of this world will have become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ (`Rev. 11:15`),-- when the "Times of the Gentiles" will have been fulfilled, and "he whose right it is" will have taken unto him his great power and begun his glorious reign. Those who have studied the plan of the ages and its times and seasons know that this is due to be accomplished by the year 1915,--only 12 or 13 years from the present time. Then will the words of this prophecy be fulfilled--"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein;
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for he hath founded it upon [instead of] the seas, and established it upon [in place of] the floods."-- `Verses 1,2`.
The earth, the world, the seas and the floods, the hills and the mountains are all used here, as in numerous other instances, in a symbolic, and not in a literal sense, which would be absurd in this connection. The earth and the world represent the present social order of things, or human society as at present organized. The seas and the floods represent an increasingly large class of mankind which restlessly recoils against the restraints of the present social order and at times grows turbulent and threatening. The hills and mountains represent governments.
When the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, it will not be because all the kingdoms of this world will have been converted to God and purified, and their kings permitted to reign by the grace of God, as they now claim to do, and because all the now restless masses of men will have become docile and submissive to the present governing powers; but it will be as the prophet declares, because God will have "founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods." That is, the present earth, or social organization, and the present heavens, or ruling powers, will have passed away, and the new earth will be established upon the ruins of the old. When the waves of the restless sea-element of society shall have arisen in their might and overwhelmed the whole present social order, so that the wild and stormy sea of anarchy shall prevail everywhere, then, amidst the wreck and ruin, the desolation and universal despondency and despair, the voice of Jehovah will be heard, saying, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the
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earth." (`Psa. 46:10`). And out of the wild commotion of that stormy sea God will bring order and peace.
Instead of this restless sea of humanity he will found the new earth, the new order of things; yea, and he will firmly establish it upon [in place of] the floods; there he will establish his Kingdom "which cannot be moved." (`Heb. 12:28`). And he will set his King upon his holy hill of Zion and give to him the nations for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. (`Psa. 2:6,8`). Then, indeed, shall the King, the Lord's anointed, reign in righteousness and princes shall decree justice (`Isa. 32:1`); and, in consequence, there shall be abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.--`Psa. 72:7`.
There will then be but one Kingdom (mountain or hill) in all the world--the Kingdom of God; and his Anointed will be King in all the earth in that day. (`Zech. 14:9`). This hill or kingdom of the Lord is that to which the Psalmist refers when he raised the question, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in his holy place?" To ascend into the hill of the Lord is to come into his Kingdom as loyal and obedient subjects, as true citizens, worthy of all its blessings and privileges; and not as aliens and foreigners, having no part nor lot in the common interests and inheritance of all the true and loyal people of God, viz., eternal life and all its blessings of righteousness, peace and everlasting joy. Who indeed shall be counted worthy thus to ascend into the mountain of the Lord? "And who shall stand in his holy place?" The reference here is to the antitype of the typical temple of God, which, standing upon the top of Mount Zion, prefigured the glorious true temple, the Church of the living God, in Kingdom power and glory. Who shall stand in that holy place in that age of glory and blessing now so near at hand?--who shall be counted worthy to reign with Christ in his Kingdom?
The answer to both inquiries is the same "He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully." These will be the required qualifications for citizenship in the Kingdom, when the Kingdom is established; and they are also the qualifications required now of all those who would be heirs of that coming Kingdom. It will be observed that the qualifications mentioned are not those of faith (for faith in the gospel of the Kingdom, which includes faith in Christ the King and Redeemer, is implied in the desire to be in the Kingdom in any capacity); but the qualifications mentioned here are those of character. The Scriptures elsewhere make more specific mention of the necessary faith, but always implying a character consistent with the faith. (`Acts 16:31`; `John 3:16,36`). The prophet does not ignore faith, but points to that character which is the legitimate consequence of a true faith exercised unto godliness. A faith which does not produce character is null and void. (`Jas. 2:17`). Therefore it is plain that both the heirs and the subjects of the Kingdom of God must have that character which is both begotten and developed by the faith of the gospel; for if the faith of the gospel be held in unrighteousness there is no place in the Kingdom for any such. (`Rom. 1:18`). Let us consider the character-requirements here mentioned.
"Clean hands."--That means clean actions, clean conduct. If bad habits of any kind have been cultivated, they must be promptly forsaken. The hands must not be defiled with the holding of bribes, nor with the gain of oppression, and every evil thing must be resolutely put away. (`Isa. 33:15`). It is in vain that any profess loyalty to God and to his anointed King and Kingdom while they continue in a sinful course of action. Loyalty to the Kingdom signifies determined opposition to sin in all its forms and a firm resistance of it.
"A pure heart."--That signifies purity of will, intention or purpose, which, like the needle to the pole, always turns toward righteousness. Though some sudden or strong temptation may for an instant, through the weakness of the flesh, draw it to the right or to the left, yet quickly it recovers its normal position which is true to righteousness and truth. A pure heart loves righteousness and truth, and hates iniquity. It loves purity, and despises all that is impure and unholy. It loves cleanliness of person, of clothing, of language and of habits. It delights only in the society of the pure, and shuns all others, knowing
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that "evil communications corrupt good manners."
"Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity."-- Pride is an abomination to the Lord and to all those who partake of his spirit. It is a weed which, if once permitted to take root in the heart, will soon crowd out every grace. The Psalmist says, "I hate vain thoughts"; and such should be our sentiments. The grace of humility, meekness, is one of the most beautiful that can adorn the character. It takes a sober estimate of personal qualifications, is not puffed up, does not behave unbecomingly, and seeks to exercise its talents, not for pride and vain glory, but for the joy of doing good. It is modest, candid and sincere, both in consideration of its own qualifications and those of others. What comfort and pleasure are found in the society of those possessed of such a spirit!
"Nor sworn deceitfully."--Those who make a solemn covenant with the Lord, and who thereafter wilfully despise or ignore it, have sworn deceitfully; and surely no such disloyal subjects can be admitted either to citizenship or heirship in the Kingdom of God. But those who, in this age, have made a solemn covenant with God and who are true to their covenant, even unto death, they shall ascend into the holy place, the temple of God--they shall be the heirs of the Kingdom, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ; while all such, in the age to come, shall be recognized and privileged citizens of the Kingdom. These shall receive the blessings of the Lord promised in his Word. After first receiving the imputed righteousness of Christ through faith, they may, under divine grace, be made perfect in righteousness and worthy of eternal life.
This is the generation of them that seek the face of the God of Jacob. Men do not obtain these blessings without seeking them, nor without seeking them in God's way--through Christ, by humble reliance upon his finished work of redemption, and by the full consecration of all their ransomed powers of mind and body to his holy will, which is only our reasonable service.
Beloved, ye who are called by his grace to stand in his holy place, let us ponder these things. Are our hands clean and our hearts pure? are we humble and faithful to our covenant? Let us see that we meet these conditions, and let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus.
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"SPEAK, LORD; FOR THY SERVANT HEARETH."
--`I SAMUEL 3:6-14`.--DECEMBER 14.--
SAMUEL, the prophet, is one of the grand, strong characters of Old Testament times. The story of his early devotion to the Lord and his obedience and perseverance in well doing, constitutes a grand lesson, not only for young Christians, but also for those more advanced in years, including parents. As the story of Ruth gives us glimpses of a time of life of the Israelites such as is generally obscured by the records of wars and troubles, so also does the story of Samuel. He was of the tribe of Levi already consecrated to the Lord, and accepted. An insight into the deep piety of his parents is given in the first chapter of the Book. A child born under such circumstances of prayer and devotion to the Lord, could not, under natural laws, fail to be noble minded and religiously inclined. Would that we could impress this thought upon all Christians who become parents--that their children should be devoted to the Lord from the moment of conception! and daily prayer and effort should be made that the pre-natal influences might all conduce to the highest mental, moral and physical welfare of the offspring. "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" asked the Prophet, and he answers, "Not one." Our expectation should not, therefore, be that the children even of the saints would be absolutely perfect; but we are to remember that the Lord accepts the heart, the intention, the will; and that agreeably to his arrangement of nature, the mind, the intention, the will of the parents may be expressed in their child. True, the imperfect mind cannot even grasp or picture perfect things, but it can approximate them, and in that same proportion it can impress that approximation of character upon the offspring. There is an old adage that "blood will tell"--that is, that culture and good breeding will be marked in the offspring. It is surely a fact that character will tell. Christians, thoroughly devoted to the Lord and seeking day by day to know and to do the divine will, and who are under the instruction of the holy spirit in the school of Christ and somewhat developed in grace and in knowledge of the truth, whose minds are transformed by the renewing of the holy spirit, and their affections set upon things above, will surely mark and impress the spiritual qualities of their own hearts upon the natural offspring. Such children, well born and devoted to the Lord from conception, will, of course, in childhood be trained by the same parents in the ways of the Lord, in the ways of righteousness, of justice, of truth and of love. Thus begotten and thus trained, it seems very improbable that they should afterward depart from the way of the Lord, or that they should permanently remain transgressors, even though temporarily misled through temptation.
While the Lord has directed his children not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, nevertheless, where the yoking or marriage has occurred prior to their covenant with the Lord, he has arranged that the fruit of their marriage, their children, shall be accounted as the Lord's through the consecrated parent; and his blessing will accordingly be with the consecrated
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child regardless of the fact that one of its parents was an unbeliever. The Apostle clearly states this in `I Cor. 7:14`.
It is a serious error--and one into which some Christians have fallen--to suppose parentage to be dishonorable or sinful--some even claiming that "original sin" was of this sort. The Scriptures teach quite to the contrary, declaring that "marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled." We are to remember, too, that the divine plan for the propagation of the race was arranged and the command to multiply and fill the earth was given before sin entered the world--before the disobedience in Eden. The Apostle severely reprimands those "forbidding to marry," and distinctly says, in his letter to Timothy, "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully."--`I Tim. 5:14`.
Neither is this in conflict with his declarations in `I Cor. 7`, that "he that marrieth doeth well but he that marrieth not doeth better." In his letter to Timothy he is speaking of the younger persons of the congregation; whereas in his advice in Corinthians he is addressing such members of the Church as had made a full consecration of themselves to the Lord, and were seeking to run in the race course toward the mark for the prize. And our advice to others on this subject should be strictly along these inspired lines. The advice not to marry will usually be found helpful to those who have made a full consecration of themselves to the Lord, who will find that they can accomplish more in the Lord's service free, as far as possible, from earthly obligations and division of heart. But for others who are not "new creatures," though moral and well disposed, marriage is the reasonable and proper expectation of life according to divine arrangement; it should not be hindered, but should be counselled as wisely as possible.
We are to recognize a difference between the consecrated parents of Samuel and their prayers for a son, and the proper prayers of consecrated people of the present time. Only since Pentecost have the Lord's people been privileged to be "new creatures in Christ Jesus," begotten of the holy spirit; and such seek and pray for spiritual rather than natural children;--by spending their lives as did their Master seeking to transform children of the first Adam into spiritual children of God. It is in view of this, and when addressing spirit-begotten ones, that the Apostle declares that "he that marrieth not doeth better,"--because he will, generally speaking, find the unmarried condition most favorable to his new ambitions.
Born in response to prayer and consecration, Samuel was, doubtless, a remarkable boy; and his parents showed the sincerity of their prayer in the fact that he was early brought to the high priest at Shiloh and formally presented to the Lord's service. We read that this was when he was "weaned," but are not to suppose that it was when as an infant he was weaned from the breast; but, rather, interpreting the word on a larger scale we should understand it was when he was weaned from his mother, in the sense of being able to get along without her care: this was probably when he was from ten to twelve years of age.
We are often surprised that Christian parents, begotten of the holy spirit, do not manifest more of this spirit which actuated the parents of Samuel. Many seemingly consecrated people hold back their most precious possessions, their children, from the Lord, and incline to devote them to some worldly calling in life--medicine, law, industry. Whether their course is prompted by too great humility or by too great selfishness, it is not our province to determine; but seemingly they either have not the faith to believe that the Lord would accept their offering, or they cherish, perhaps but half consciously, a desire to see their children prosper after the manner of the world, and fear that their consecration to the Lord might in some manner blight their earthly prospects. What a great mistake! Do not such parents know that it is their privilege to present themselves to the Lord and all they have, including their children? and do they not know, too, that "The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it"? (`Prov. 10:22`.) Can they not realize that it is better to be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of wickedness? and that greater happiness would accompany a devoted life, even though spent in poverty, than could come through any other course, even though surrounded by every luxury? Have they not learned these lessons from their own experiences? and can they not apply them likewise to their own children?
Samuel ministered to Eli in the temple; that is, he served the high priest--who was specially the Lord's servant and representative--in his dwelling apartments which were close by the tabernacle,--for the temple was not yet built. Samuel's parents, in thus subjecting him early in life to the duties of a servant, were really putting him in a most excellent school. In our opinion it is a mistake to suppose that the early years of life--from ten to eighteen--should be largely spent in play; not only is the wisdom of bringing children early into positions of responsibility, and, more or less, of routine and drudgery exemplified in the case of Samuel, but it is also exemplified in the cases of many of the prominent people of this land today. Mr. Carnegie, whose fame is world-wide, entered early upon the drudgery of life as a telegraph messenger. Mr.
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Edison, whose fame as an electrician is also world-wide, began life's drudgery as a newsboy. And thus it is in perfect accord with the experiences of today in worldly things that we perceive that the consecration of Samuel as a servant of Eli at an early age had probably much to do with the firmness and grandeur of his character when, subsequently, he became the Lord's prophet, and the last and the greatest of Israel's Judges.
Our observation is that there is no more common mistake made by parents than that of supposing their children could not understand or appreciate religious things properly at an early age--say twelve years. The experience of Samuel and our own experience and that of many others assure us that some of the deepest religious sentiments may be experienced as early as twelve years of age. This should be watched for by the parent and should be cultivated with much more care than they cultivate the tenderest flowers in their gardens. The flowers of veneration, spirituality, hope, faith, trust, in the child-mind need and should have tenderest care and watering and weeding and assistance. The parent by nature and by divine direction occupying a responsible position as gardener to these, must appreciate flowers in the hearts of his own family; and if he neglect his responsibilities he is culpable and will surely suffer, not only disappointment in respect to his children in the future, but suffer also in that he will be the loser of certain blessings in his own heart; because it is a part of the divine arrangement that he that watereth others shall himself be watered.
Public responsibilities and duties, and trying to save other people's children, can never excuse any Christian parent from his responsibilities toward his own children; nor can he shift his responsibilities upon Sunday School teachers. His neglect of duty will surely work to his own disadvantage as well as to the disadvantage of his offspring; and if in the past he has been negligent in this matter he cannot too soon rectify matters, though he will need to pray for and to seek to exercise greater wisdom necessary to overcome his past neglect.
The story of the Lord's first message to Samuel is beautiful in its simplicity. The boy evidently was accustomed to obeying the calls of Eli for various services at various times, and to this end had his sleeping apartments near by--Eli was advanced in life, about seventy-eight years of age. Three times the Lord called Samuel, and he answered, "Here am I," and went to Eli. It was after the third call that Eli instructed him to say, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth."
The record is that for a long time such a message from the Lord had been "precious," that is, scarce: Eli, although a good man, and sincere and faithful and kind in his dealings with Samuel, had been too lax in his dealings with his own sons, who were priests and had much to do with the services of the tabernacle, and who, therefore, in every sense of the word should have been pious and exemplary men. The Lord had already sent Eli a warning message respecting his sons who were profligate and open transgressors, not only in financial affairs, but also in morals. Eli should have realized his responsibilities and should have checked their wrong course and, if necessary, should have dismissed them from the service of the tabernacle even though they were his own sons; but in proportion as he had grown weak in mind and body, they had grown strong, self-willed and impious, and the old man seems not to have had the necessary strength of character to deal with them. The Lord's message delivered to Samuel was in respect to Eli's family and the punishment that should come upon them for their sins, which were much more grievous in view of the fact that they were the exemplars and instructors of the people.
Eli's experience with his wayward sons calls for our sympathy; yet doubtless in some respects, at least, he brought his difficulties upon himself by reason of his neglect of the early training of them in the ways of the Lord, in the ways of his righteousness. Doubtless he often looked at the faithful lad who ministered to him so patiently and industriously, and wished that his sons had been of similar disposition; but the time so to wish advantageously and profitably was long gone by; they should have been begotten in the spirit of consecration, and trained in conformity therewith, and the Lord's Word for it is that when they were old they would not have departed from it. There is a lesson for parents here, too; the fact that the Lord's service is to be considered of primary importance and is to be defended even at the expense of their own flesh and blood.
In the morning Samuel hesitated to tell his kind master, Eli, the unfavorable message he had received of the Lord in the night; but Eli was anxious to know whatever the Lord had to say, and importuned until Samuel told him all. There is a good lesson here for the Lord's people--a lesson of humility and kindness; the lad might have felt puffed up to think that the Lord, who so seldom spoke to any, had now spoken to him; he might have felt himself honored and above Eli, in that the message spoke of the discomfiture of the latter; pride might have made him boastful and inconsiderate of the feelings of his master so that he would have taken delight in telling him of the calamities that would come, and how greatly he had been honored of the Lord. Samuel, on the contrary, exhibited the spirit of meekness, apparently not even considering the honor that had come to him; but, rather, sympathizing
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with his master he would have preferred not to burden his heart with the message of calamity.
The Lord is speaking now to some of his faithful ones through his Word, through his "knock" (`Rev. 3:20`), which tells us of his presence, through the signs which mark the incoming of the new dispensation: are any disposed now to be haughty and proud and boastful because the Lord has permitted them to hear his voice and to know something of his plan and of the calamities coming upon Babylon? Should they not rather be filled with humility so that self would be lost sight of entirely? Should not all favored of the Lord speak of the trouble coming upon Babylon sympathetically, with a disposition to assist to an escape, rather than a disposition to gloat over and rejoice in coming troubles in which present systems will be completely overthrown?
The Lord speaks in our day in a different manner from that in which he spoke in olden times: as the Scriptures declare, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." (`Heb. 1:1,2`.) The Word of the Lord is still precious and scarce in that it is not, at the present time, given to all, but only to a certain class; as it is written, "He that hath an ear to hear let him hear." The majority of mankind have no ear to hear at the present time, no eye to see the glorious beauty of God's plan. As the Apostle explains, "The god of this world hath blinded their minds"--earthly things, earthly ambitions, earthly hopes, earthly calls and voices, distract their attention, fill their capacity; but blessed are our eyes for they see, and our ears for they hear, and blessed shall we be if, like Samuel, when we hear the Lord's message we respond promptly, "Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth." Such as thus respond shall be taught of God--by the Word of his grace,--the words of the Lord Jesus, and the words of his inspired apostles--instructed and guided in the understanding of these through the holy spirit, through the various helps and channels and agents which the Lord is pleased to use--perhaps a tract, perhaps a book, perhaps a letter, perhaps a conversation, perhaps a sermon.
He who would continue to be taught of the Lord, must continue to listen for his voice, continue to be in the hearing and obeying attitude of heart. The difficulty with some apparently is that their own wills are not fully extinct, dead--that their consecration is not complete; hence while consecrated enough to wish not to disobey the Lord's voice, they have certain ideas of their own respecting what his voice should say, and they prefer to interpret his message in conformity to their own preferences: they will to do more or less their own wills, and will to hear the Lord's voice directing them in accordance with their own wills. This is a most dangerous situation and is generally accompanied by self-conceit and self-assertion and will ultimately lead far from the Christian's goal. Let each of us resolve by the Lord's grace that we will out of honest heart continually seek to hear the pure Word of God, and that with a desire to obey it as far as we are able.
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CHRISTMAS HOPES AND JOYS.
--`LUKE 2:8-20`.--DECEMBER 31.--
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
CHRISTMAS (or Christ's festival) by general usage is celebrated on December 25th; and since its commemoration is not enjoined in the Scriptures, but is merely a voluntary commemoration of a great fact rather than of a particular date, we do well to celebrate it decorously at the usual time;-- notwithstanding the fact that we disagree with the date, and hold, according to the evidences, that our Lord was born about October 1st, and that December 25th, nine months previous, was probably the date of the annunciation.*--`Luke 1:30,31`.
Our confidence in Jesus that he was the sent of God, the Redeemer, the Messiah, the Deliverer of his people, rests not merely upon the testimony of the apostles in the New Testament records, wonderful and convincing as these testimonies are: they gain nine-tenths of their weight and importance from the fact that they evidence the fulfilment of promises, types and prophecies given by the Lord with more or less explicitness from time to time throughout the preceding 4,000 years. He who does not discern something, at least, of the divine plan of the ages in connection with our Savior, his birth, his three and one-half years' ministry, his sacrificial death, his resurrection, his ascension, etc., fails to get the real strength of the divine revelation, designed by the Lord to be the firm foundation for his people's confidence in him and in all the glorious things which he has promised he would yet accomplish through this great Savior.
Note the original promise of the Savior shortly after sin had wounded our first parents and brought them under divine sentence. (`Gen. 3:15`.) Note the promise made to Abraham respecting Messiah that he should be of his posterity. (`Gen. 22:18`.) Notice the same to Jacob. (`Gen. 28:14`.) To David. (`2 Sam. 7:12-16`.)
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., p.54.
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Through Isaiah the prophet, his coming and his greatness are foretold. (`9:6,7`; `11:1-9`.) Daniel, the prophet, also refers to the importance of his work of making an end of sin and bringing in everlasting righteousness, and thus sealing the visions and prophecies which the Lord had just given respecting him and the favor to come through him. (`Dan. 9:24`.) We recall also how he was typified in Isaac who was not only the heir of the promises made to Abraham, but who was also in a figure put to death and received again from the dead. We remember also the types and figures of the Mosaic arrangement, and how Moses himself was declared to be like unto the greater one to come after him.
Had the hopes of Israel been merely concoctions to deceive the people, we may be sure that the deceiver would have been careful to have marked out some remarkable line of parentage for the coming Messiah; --free from blights, scandals, etc.; but this was not done; instead, the weaknesses of the flesh amongst our Lord's progenitors are fearlessly noted. Judah, the son of Jacob, and head of the tribe from which our Lord sprang, was not above reproach and his general character was faithfully portrayed; his son, Phares, through whom our Lord's lineage runs, was born of an unlawful union. Rahab, the harlot of Jericho, a foreigner who became an Israelite indeed, was amongst our Lord's progenitors; so was Ruth, the Moabitess, another foreigner adopted as an Israelite. The line even through David is compromised by coming through Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah, the Hittite. The New Testament writers are similarly candid and make no hesitation in recording the genealogy. All of this is in full accord with the scriptural presentation of the matter; namely, that our Lord's virtue, his sinlessness, his separateness from sinners, was not through the flesh, not through his mother, but through his Father, God.*
According to the flesh, Jesus Christ took hold of the seed of Abraham, as the Apostle explains; but as we have already seen, through various circumstances he was indirectly related also to the outside world. All of this is interesting to us, but nothing to be compared to our still greater interest in the fact that our Lord Jesus, although born a Jew under the Law, and redeeming those who were under the Law, did more than this, in that his death as planned by the Father and accepted by himself was a propitiation "for the sins of the whole world." He died as the ransom price for Adam and his sin, and thus purchased from condemnation not only Adam, but his entire posterity involved through his transgression; hence, as the Apostle points out, "He is able to save [deliver] unto the uttermost all who come unto God through him." (`Heb. 7:25`.) Not only so, but our Lord's circumstances of birth and early experiences in comparative poverty as a working man, impress us with the thought that he is indeed able to sympathize with mankind in every station of life; having passed from the glory of the Father to the lowest condition of humanity and back again, he is surely able to appreciate and to sympathize with all conditions and classes.
The narrative of our lesson is so simple as to require few comments; our chief interest centers in the message which our heavenly Father sent us through the angels at the time they announced the birth of Jesus: "Fear not"--the angel understood well that through sin and degradation a fearful apprehension comes over man when he finds himself in contact with spirit beings; he is apprehensive of certain further condemnation or punishment; his acquaintance with man in influence, authority and power, leads him to dread the still greater authority and power of the Almighty, lest it should be injurious to him. Only the true Christian, having the eyes of his understanding opened to appreciate the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of God, can have that perfect love toward the heavenly Father which is built upon an intimate knowledge of his Word, and which casteth out all fear. We are reminded of the prophet's words respecting the Lord's people of today, "Their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men." (`Isa. 29:13`.) The Lord would have his people free from this fear, though not free from a proper reverence toward him.
The message continues, "I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people." How slow the Lord's people have been to believe this message and to accept the Savior at his full worth! How prone they seem to be to suppose first of all that he was to be a Savior merely for the Jews; or secondly, a Savior merely for a special elect class; or thirdly, a Savior only for those who under present darkness, ignorance, prejudice, superstition and devilish influences, manifest a special love for righteousness! But how broad is the statement--great joy--for all people! Our faith is not broader than the positive declaration of the Scriptures, when we hold firmly that our God graciously has arranged that every member of our poor fallen race shall yet be blessed with a clear understanding not only of his own weaknesses and imperfections through the fall, but also by a clear understanding of the great redemption price paid by the Savior, and a share in the glorious opportunities thus secured to return, if he will, back to full harmony with God and to full blessings and everlasting life.
The angels did not declare that our Lord came to
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. V., chap. iv.
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bring universal and everlasting salvation to all people; but they do declare that the good message of joy, of privilege, love, hope, shall extend to all people. The explanation of this is that a Savior had been born --a deliverer of the weak, the helpless, the dying, able to succor to the utmost all who would come to the Father through him; able to open the blind eyes and to unstop the deaf ears that all may come to an appreciation of the goodness of God shining toward them in the face of the Lord Jesus.
The word Savior, otherwise rendered Deliverer, signifies in the Syriac language, literally Life-giver. What a wonderful thought is conveyed by that word! What is it that our poor, dying race needs? It needs deliverance from the sentence of death, and then it needs deliverance from death itself, into life complete and abundant and everlasting. Our Lord has already become our deliverer in the sense that he has bought us with his precious blood, that he has settled our account with Justice. As a result of this work already done (since the church which is the body of Christ has followed in the footsteps of our Lord and has about "filled up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ," (`Col. 1:24`), very shortly now, under the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet, the mystery of God will be finished,--completed,--and atonement for the sins of the world shall be proclaimed with a full emancipation proclamation to all people. Good tidings of great joy it will surely be! full of gracious opportunities for enlightenment, restitution and obedience, and for a full return to all that was lost by father Adam, including life in perfect degree--lasting life!
No wonder after this message had been delivered, the Lord permitted an angel host to serenade the proclamation, and incidentally to prophesy also of the grand results yet to flow from the great work of redemption, which was then only beginning in the birth of the Redeemer! Properly the anthem begins with praise to him that sitteth upon the throne, to him who devised the great and wonderful plan of redemption and who sent his Son, our willing Redeemer; glory to him in the highest--in the highest strain of heart and voice, with fullest appreciation of him as a Savior! Next came the consequences on earth; namely, peace;--not such a peace as men might patch up between themselves and between nations and parties, and that under present conditions would be sure very soon to be scattered to the winds; but a peace with God, a peace which comes from a restoration to the race of the divine good will. It was because divine justice could not spare the guilty, that the sentence of death, the "curse," has borne down upon our race for now six thousand years. Under that divine sentence of death the dying race has become impoverished, not only physically but mentally and morally, and selfishness has become the rule, and in its wake have come all our selfish ambitions and pride and strife and vain-glory and money love which have caused so much of the trouble that mankind has experienced.
But now, glory to God in the highest! because peace has been established upon a firm foundation-- the lifting of the curse through the payment of our penalty by the Lord's own arrangement! As soon as the body of Christ has suffered with the Head, the great antitypical day of atonement will be complete, and peace between God and man will be established, will be renewed, and as a consequence the Redeemer shall take to himself his great power and reign for the purpose of blessing and uplifting those whom he purchased with his own precious blood. In their interest it will be necessary that the great peace shall be introduced by the breaking in pieces of present institutions with the iron rod of the new Kingdom, as the vessel of a potter they shall be crushed as henceforth useless; that in their stead may come the grander and perfect institutions of the Lord's Kingdom. He will wound to heal, to bless, to bring in peace on the basis of everlasting righteousness; for ultimately he will destroy all those who, after being brought to a knowledge of the truth, will still love unrighteousness and tend to the corruption of the earth. He will destroy them, not in anger but in justice, in love, that an everlasting peace in full accord with that which is in heaven may prevail upon earth.
Wherever the story of God's redeeming love has gone, even though confused by various falsities, it has carried more or less of blessing with it;--even to neglectful hearers and not doers of the Word, it has brought blessing; and still more blessing to others who hear partly and obey partly; but its greatest blessing has been to the little flock, the royal priesthood who, entering into the spirit of the divine arrangement, have realized themselves justified through faith in the precious blood, and in harmony with the invitation of the Lord have gone forward, presenting themselves living sacrifices that they might have fellowship with Christ
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in the sufferings of this present time, and also, by and by, in the Kingdom glories that shall follow. It is this class chiefly that is now rejoicing in a still fuller opening up of the divine Word so long beclouded by the falsities coming down from the dark ages; it is this class that is chiefly now rejoicing in the discernment of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine love and of the divine plan which has purchased the whole world and will eventually recover from present degradation all who under the favorable conditions of the Millennial Kingdom will develop the character which God demands of all who shall have eternal life--a love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity.
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REVIEW OF THE YEAR.
Golden Text--"Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place [refuge] in all generations."--`Psa. 90:1`.
HAPPY surely will all those be who at the close of the year can look backward through it and realize that safe and secure in the city of refuge which God has provided for us as his people, we have been prospering, rejoicing, growing under his favor and guidance in a knowledge of himself and of his plans respecting mankind; and especially respecting the elect church, the body of Christ, which in the school of Christ is now being prepared for the glorious work of the Millennial Kingdom. We trust that our dear readers will find much of encouragement as they look back. If we can see that we have faithfully sought at every step to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we will have special cause for rejoicing; and if we see, on the contrary, that some of the steps have been crooked and perverse, and if we mourn for such digressions from the narrow way, we may be sure that the Lord is very pitiful, of tender compassion, ready to forgive, to heal, to help. It is for this very reason that he provided this city of refuge, and for this very reason that we must needs abide in it continually--abide in Christ under the cover of his merit and his robe of righteousness. It will comfort our hearts, in any event, to remember the suggestion of the Apostle that if God so loved us while we were yet sinners that he gave his only begotten Son for our redemption, much more does he love us--more even than that, now that we are adopted into his family and seeking to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, however imperfectly our good desires may be accomplished.
We need to make fresh resolutions continually along the way, and now at the close of the year is a favorable time for this. Not that we liberate ourselves in any degree from the everlasting covenant into which we entered with our Lord, but that recognizing its permanence, we strengthen ourselves by re-asserting it to the Lord, telling him of our good desires and intentions in respect to faith for the future, and improving so notable an occasion as the beginning of another year for this reiteration of our loyalty and of our confidence in his faithfulness.
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"THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD."
THE LORD, in calling his people his sheep, chose a very significant emblem of the character he would have manifested in them. The most noticeable characteristics of the sheep are meekness, docility and obedience to the shepherd to whose care they fully entrust themselves. They are very true to the shepherd: they study his voice, watch for the indications of his will, and trustfully obey him. When they hear his voice, quickly, and without the slightest hesitation or faltering, they run to obey it. But the voice of a stranger they will not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers.
What a lesson is here for the Lord's "little flock," over whom he is the good Shepherd. The weakest lamb in the flock knows his voice and hears him say, "This is the way: walk ye in it." And while there are thousands of voices calling, now in this direction and now in that, the Lord's sheep, acquainted with his Spirit and his Word, turn away from all save the well known voice of the Shepherd. In various ways our Shepherd speaks to his flock of sheep and lambs. His written words treasured up in the heart mark the way of truth continually; his special providences further shape the peculiar course of each individual; and the abiding presence of his holy Spirit makes manifest every intrusion of any other spirit which seeks to beguile and to lead astray. The true sheep will carefully listen for the faintest accents of the voice of the Shepherd--i.e., he will treasure up his words in his heart; he will study his providences; and he will cultivate that communion and personal fellowship with the Lord which are his privilege. Those who thus abide in him can never go astray.
"They can never, never lose their way."
They may not have much learning, and, humanly speaking, would not be able to grapple with all the sophistries of error. But, being so well acquainted with the Master's voice, they quickly perceive that such voices are the voices of strangers, and they will not follow them; for they are loyal and obedient to the Shepherd only.
In such an attitude of mind and heart is our only safety in the midst of all the difficulties and confusion of this evil day. And all such may confidently sing with the Psalmist--
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down [to rest--the rest of faith] in green pastures [with abundance of satisfying food]; he leadeth me beside the still waters [deep, refreshing truths]. He restoreth my soul [reclaims it from death]; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake [because I am his child and bear his honored name]. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death [The entire journey of life since the fall has been through a vale of tears, upon which rests the shadow of death], I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. [Thy word and providences discipline and guide me in the way]." Our Shepherd's providence not only disciplines the true sheep, but protects them from the "wolves" and other foes.
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With the Prophet, we can also say, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies [for even while beset by Satan and Sin, we are sustained by the Lord's abundant provision for every necessity]; thou anointest my head with [the] oil [of joy], my cup [pleasure] runneth over [even while, as a pilgrim, I am beset with life's difficulties]." And, in view of the Lord's present and past leading, all, who continue to be truly his sheep, can certainly trust that--"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord [will be recognized as a member of his household, as his child] forever."
Let us seek to cultivate more and more the meek, docile and loyal character of the sheep, that so we may be abundantly blessed by the care of the good Shepherd. Such a disposition does not commend itself to the world--the wayward goat, the bold lion, or the stealthy bear, the subtle serpent and vicious vampire are more fitting emblems of their ideals, and are usually the emblems selected for their escutcheons. But let the world love its own, while we remember that we are not of the world, but are sent forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, and that our safety and spiritual prosperity depend, not upon our own wisdom and sagacity, but entirely upon our diligent hearkening to, and patient following of, the voice of the good Shepherd, who will very soon highly exalt his little flock and crown them with an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
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LETTERS OF INTEREST.
Gratitude and love to a gracious God and to you, his servant, constrain me to write this note. I resigned the Southern Methodist pulpit in the town of __________, this state. I resigned supposedly on account of my health, but really on account of my faith. I had not yet "added" courage to my faith (`2 Pet. 1:5`); was not yet really in the truth, but feeling for it. Keeping my "heretical" doubts to myself, I continued searching. Meanwhile, until last week, I have sustained supernumerary relations to the Conference which met last week, and, if they granted my request, which I suppose they did, `John 8:32` is fulfilled in my experience. For the first time in my life "I stand erect and free."
I was searching earnestly for the light in the city library in Denver, Colo., reading everything that promised to throw light on the hard problems of life and death, when my eye fell on your God-directed work, MILLENNIAL DAWN. I had heard of it and knew that it was much despised; nevertheless, I resolved to read it earnestly and with an open mind, for in my distress I had reached that point where I was willing to receive truth even from "Nazareth." I read all
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five volumes with my Bible always open and with ever-increasing delight.
Again I thank you for pointing so constantly and faithfully to the "more sure word of prophecy;" truly it "shines as a light in a dark place."
Enclosed find one dollar for the WATCH TOWER. I am working at my old trade, stone-cutting, and shall continue at it (D.V.). I should like to distribute some more tracts. Your brother,
E. L. KENDRICK,--Missouri.
CHARLES T. RUSSELL,
DEAR BROTHER:--I have been reading your book, "THE PLAN OF THE AGES;" it is indeed a wonderful book, and I thank God it ever came to me. My birthday was the second day of August and my niece, a worldly woman, sent me as a present five of your books. She little knew what she was giving me. Oh, the joy and gladness it has brought into my life! I have been a believer and been looking for the return of my Lord for many years, longing and hoping to live until he came; but for some time it seemed to me our people (Second Adventist) presented no new light, and we seemed to be standing still. Now this great restitution hope has come to us, bringing such a feeling as lifts us (so it seems) nearer our God and makes so many dark sayings in his blessed Word clear and beautiful. I never loved him so much as now when I see how great is his plan of salvation.
My husband and myself have read the first book three times, and also read the second, and now in the third. Sometimes it has seemed so strange for us to believe some of the things you write, for we have been taught so differently; yet by prayer we have thus far been able to accept the blessed light and feel we have entered into the joy of our Lord, believing he has come and raised the dead, or those of them who are to be his bride.
We feel such gratitude to you, our brother, for the light we now have that we greatly desire to know you personally. Again thanking you for the good received from your writings, and praying God to bless and keep you, I am, Yours in sisterly love,
MRS. A. S. BARNEY,--Rhode Island.
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MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
I enclose you $__________; please send me one of those new reference Bibles, and the remainder please apply to the "Good Hopes" of myself and wife. I am sorry we cannot at this time send a larger expression of our "Good Hopes" for "the glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people." We hope to supplement this offering shortly.
And now I want to express to you and all those of the Bible House at Allegheny how we enjoyed the convention at Washington. It was the greatest privilege of our lives to meet with so many dear friends of like precious faith. It was truly a "time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord." Especially was I delighted to witness on this occasion the symbolic baptism of my wife into the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are now not only one in the flesh, but one in the spirit and body of Christ, and probationary members of the Church triumphant. We pray that we may pass our trial successfully and "rejoice in our sufferings and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in our flesh for his body's
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sake," and in so doing may finish our course with joy.
For your benefit and encouragement I want to say, dear Bro. Russell, the literature you are sending forth as "meat in due season," is making the household of faith strong, yea, brave in the Lord, by truth. This morning I was hailed on the street by my former pastor, a D.D. (in whose presence two years ago I would have quailed). He introduced me to another D.D., and asked if I had any news. I said, "Yes, good news!" and drew from my pocket one of the discourses as I had taken it down at Washington. I said, "Look here,--in `Acts 3:21` God has promised restitution of all things, and that all the holy prophets had spoken of it," and I showed him in their respective order from I Samuel to Malachi they all had spoken of it copiously, and that further God himself had made a covenant with Abraham as to this restitution and affirmed the same to Isaac and Jacob; and now that these patriarchs were dead, together with countless millions who had not received those blessings, said I, "the Lord has shown us in `Jno. 5:28,29` when and where to look for the solution of this matter." In repeating the last clause of the 29th verse he broke in and said "damnation." I said, "No, sir! 'by judgment,' and you know as well as I do that 'by judgment' is the correct rendering. Now, gentlemen, why don't you preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?" By this time Bro. H__________ had Bro. C__________ by the arm, pulling him down the street, and said to me, "Well, I reckon you will have to make the ministers preach it right." May God have mercy on the preachers who are promulgating false doctrine! Yours in Christian love,
W. B. SUTTON,--Virginia.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
I want, in a few words, to express my appreciation of the good things which we all received at the Washington convention. It was the grandest feast it has ever been my privilege to attend, and the memory of it will remain with me as long as I remain in this tabernacle. I wish to express my thanks both to the Washington brethren, who contributed so much to the welfare and enjoyment of visiting brethren, and also to yourself and coworkers for the part which you contributed unto edifying the "body of Christ;" but above all I wish to thank our dear Lord for his manifest presence and blessing. I believe it is impossible to estimate the good resulting from these conventions, in the way of spiritual blessings. Each person gets some new light on different features of the plan and purpose, and these are taken home and given to the Lord's truth-hungry people who could not attend; and the "unity of the spirit" is so manifest at these gatherings, that the "body" is more and more "knit together in love," while all realize the significance of Paul's statement, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together," as they otherwise would not. In my own case, I can truly say that I received such an uplift and blessing as it has never been my lot to experience before. Praise God for his goodness, blessing and love, as it is now manifested to his chosen people. May his favor and his spirit be continued to you, dear Bro. Russell, and to all the brothers and sisters everywhere, and may we all be kept by the power of God until we shall receive the "change" promised,--is my daily prayer.
Sincerely, your brother and servant in the Lord,
R. H. BARBER,--New York.
MR. C. T. RUSSELL,
DEAR BROTHER:--Although I could not go to either one of the general conventions this year (and oh, how hard it was to receive as from the Lord that I could not go!), it is with rejoicing that I write to tell you how true we find it to be, that it is hard to estimate the value of the knowledge and spiritual uplift received at these conventions, carried to other hundreds --in every direction. Our little company here has received so much of the convention drippings that we almost feel as though we had, all of us, been on hand at those love feasts. It brings to mind what Isaiah says, "As the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth." So also the convention blessing cometh down from heaven, and does not return void, but bringeth increase to the recipient, a rich store to him that passeth it on, and joy and strength to all who take it in.
Praise be to our God and glory to our Lord, who so abundantly blesses us! Remember Sister K., our children and myself at the throne of grace, as we do you always. With much love, your brother,
J. G. KUEHN,--Ohio.
MY DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--
Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the day when in Dallas you stood beside the pool in which I was buried in baptism with my Lord. At each recurring anniversary sweetest and most precious memories fill my heart to overflowing, and impel me to send to the WATCH TOWER missionary fund a thanksgiving offering for the same--as a tiny proof of my remembrance of the date. I enclose a money order. I would also like a few tracts for distribution.
That God may forever have you in his tender care is the prayer of Your friend in him,
MRS. EMMA PASCHAL,--Texas.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
I am an old man 78 years of age, with a very limited education, but a subscriber to WATCH TOWER for two years and have MILLENNIAL DAWN. Pardon me for intruding on your precious time in telling you how I enjoy reading the DAWNS and TOWERS; and now after being a member of the M.E. church for 35 years I have withdrawn from that church as I could not endorse its doctrines; am no member now, but trying to serve the Master as best I can. Pray for me.
Yours truly, A. J. JONES,--Pennsylvania.
[We trust, dear brother, that you may never withdraw from the true Church--"whose names are written in heaven."--Editor.]