ZWT - 1900 - R2555 thru R2747 / R2709 (305) - October 15, 1900
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VOL. XXI. OCTOBER 15, 1900. No. 20.
Views From the Watch Tower........................307
Poem: The Christian's Goal........................308
Seasons of Refreshing.............................308
"Thy Saints Shall Glorify Thee"...................309
The Song of Moses and the Lamb................310
"Thy Saints Shall Bless Thee".................313
Following the Voice of Conscience.................314
The Unjust Steward................................315
"Ye Cannot Serve God and
The Rich Man and Lazarus..........................318
Encouraging Words From Faithful
About Pilgrim Visits, etc.........................306
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, "BIBLE HOUSE," 610, 612, 614 ARCH ST., ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $1.00 A YEAR IN ADVANCE. MONEY MAY BE SENT BY EXPRESS, N.Y. DRAFT, MONEY ORDER, OR REGISTERED. FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS, ONLY. SPECIAL TERMS TO THE LORD'S POOR, AS FOLLOWS:--
Those of the interested who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually.
BRITISH BRANCH NO. 131 GIPSY LANE, FOREST GATE, LONDON EAST, ENGLAND.
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ABOUT PILGRIM VISITS.
We are surprised at the limited number of responses to our request of Aug. 1. issue that all desiring visits of "Pilgrims" in future shall write us a postal card at once so saying--and answering the queries propounded in that issue.
We cannot think that the limited number of responses received indicate the measure of appreciation entertained for this Pilgrim service, which is free--no collections even. If this service is not appreciated highly we will certainly discontinue some of the Pilgrims, and hereafter endeavor to serve chiefly those who have expressed a desire for such ministries. We feel confident, however, that you have merely overlooked or neglected the matter, and shall hope to have at once responses from all who have expressed deep appreciation of the Pilgrim services in the past. We desire the answers on postal cards and by numbers so that they will be compact and uniform and easily referred to. If you know of friends at near-by post offices please mention names of such post offices on the card.
NAMES OF WATCH TOWER POOR LIST.
While we are not only willing but anxious to have on our lists the names of all interested in present truth, we nevertheless require that the request come direct from the person desiring the WATCH TOWER; and that the request be repeated each December. One exception would be that any who are contributors to the Tract Fund may send in such names of interested poor brethren, authorizing us to charge up the subscriptions as in offset to their donations. Those who desire the TOWER and hope to pay for it in the future may order it on credit; with the understanding that, if never able to pay, they may at any time have the debt canceled on request.
SEND NO MONEY BY MAIL: IT IS UNSAFE.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
WORLD MOVEMENT TOWARD DENOMINATIONAL UNION.
A CONTEMPORARY thus sums up the recent tendencies toward union on the part of Churchianity,--in full harmony with what our pages for the past twenty years have shown will be the procedure of "Babylon" just prior to her fall "as a great millstone into the sea." We quote as follows:--
"The question of denominational union is fast becoming one of the most important questions of the day in all Protestant lands. In Germany, as we have lately pointed out, a strong movement exists for the federation of the state churches, amounting to nearly fifty in number; and federation is one step on the road to organic union. In Scotland, the Congregationalists and the churches of the Evangelical Union --sometimes called Morrisanians--amalgamated their forces a short time ago; and the Free and the United Presbyterian churches are to become organically one next October, as already mentioned in these pages. In South Australia the three leading Methodist denominations, and in Canada all the various Methodist bodies have for some years been one. This is an encouraging record.
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"Besides this measure of union already attained, there are promising movements under way in England. All the great Protestant churches outside the Establishment have for some years had a strong federal organization, as we have several times pointed out. During several years past an attempt has been made to unite organically two of the Methodist bodies--the Princeton Methodists and the Bible Christians. Both are offshoots of the original Wesleyan parent stock, but separated from it on questions of church government."
CHRISTIAN THEORY AND PRACTICE CONTRARY.
The following is from the Orient, a Japanese journal:
"Japan enjoys the unique distinction of being the only non-Christian power that has been admitted into what is called the comity of nations on a footing of perfect equality, and, to judge from the utterances of the European and American press she is by no means the least respected power. Unfortunately the cause of this respect is not such as to satisfy all Japanese. Japan has made great progress in the arts of peace; but that is not really why she is respected. That respect was earned in a short nine months by the achievements of the Japanese army and navy. Now, that sort of thing is pleasing enough to a nation's amour propre, but on calmly thinking the matter over some Japanese would wish that the respect of Western nations had been earned by something else than by mere proficiency in the art of slaughter conducted on modern scientific principles. Russia, too, is respected and feared. Yet she is the only non-constitutional country in the comity of nations. The liberty of the individual and of the press is under the tyranny of mere administrative orders in Russia, and official peculation is nearly as rife as in China. And this gives rise to strange misgivings. Are the so-called Christian nations really followers of the religious cult they so ostentatiously and proudly profess?...
"Without going so far with Count Tolstoi as to say that his rendering of the real meaning of Christianity is the correct one, we do go so far as to say that the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount are the most important in the so-called Christian code of morality. And these precepts, unquestionably, are against war, and all against according honor to any nation or any man on the mere grounds of success in the exercise of brute force, much less of success in slaughtering enemies. And yet it is precisely on these grounds that non-Christian Japan has been accorded the respect of so-called Christian Europe and America!
"We can very well understand the old Hebrews respecting us for success in war, for the old Hebrew God was a God of battles. But we have always understood that the Christian Father in heaven was no mere tribal war-god, but a God of love. The present situation is not a little puzzling to us poor benighted heathens of Japan, who have earned the respect of those who profess to follow the precepts of Christ on
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the Mount, by success in slaughtering our enemies, and by that alone. Will real Christians kindly explain what it all means?"
* * *
In our "View" of last issue we made a typographical error, in stating that Terah, Abraham's father, died at seventy. It should have read--two hundred and five years.
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THE CHRISTIAN'S GOAL.
THOUGHTS SUGGESTED BY THE CHICAGO CONVENTION.
Perfect love--the mark for the prize;
How shall I reach it, O Lord?
The way thou hast walked is a narrow way,
So we read in thy precious Word.
We eagerly start in the way with joy,
Thinking our love is pure;
But the Father, seeking our perfectness,
Purgeth us more and more.
Till, by dint of strokes and of tears
Made to look back o'er bitter years
Our hearts in anguish deep exclaim
"Woe is me!" "Wretched man that I am!"
We know that in us dwelleth no good thing,
But in the Beloved do we stand;
O glory and honor and praises to him
Who holdeth us in his hand!
Perfect love! O Lord can it be
Thou in infinite mercy canst see
In one so unworthy, so helpless as I,
A heart that unto thee would draw nigh?
Perfect love! Lord, can it really be
Thou hast so loved and cared for me,
That when in me did sin so abound
Thy grace more abundant was found?
Perfect love--the mark for the prize
Thou hast placed beyond the skies!
O yes, our dear Lord, we will patiently run,
With our eyes on thee alone;
Not looking back on the way we have come,
Battles fought, and victories won;
But forgetting those things which are behind
Press along our reward to find.
Perfect love--we do see it in him,
Who gave his life, our poor lives to redeem;
That we might as sons to our Father draw near,
For in Jesus we've nothing to fear,
As in the light of his glorious face
We press to the end of the race;
Standing complete in his Righteousness,
He alone our perfect dress.
--MRS. C. A. OWEN.
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SEASONS OF REFRESHING.
AS THE time for the Dallas, Texas, Convention drew near, it became evident that it would serve only a small proportion of the Texas friends who would desire to attend, and so arrangements were made for two other gatherings in that large State-- about 300 miles apart;--namely at Houston and at San Antonio. And another local convention of nearby friends was held at Columbus, Ohio, on the Editor's return trip. All were seasons of refreshment in spiritual things, profitable, we trust, to all who attended.
At Dallas the attendance was about 300; from all parts of Texas, from Oklahoma, Indian Territory, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and California. The three days were practically one continuous meeting with necessary intermissions for food and rest. Fifteen brethren and seven sisters symbolized their real baptism into Christ's death, by immersion in water.
At Houston we had only a one-day meeting, but it was a good one; full of love, joy, fellowship of kindred minds; its influence will abide, with some at least, through life, yea throughout eternity, no doubt. The attendance was about one hundred and twenty-five, chiefly local.
At San Antonio we had great refreshment during two days' meeting with about one hundred and fifty of God's dear people, mostly from local points. Two informed us that they had driven over one hundred miles in a wagon, there being no good rail road connections, and, anyway, the expense being a consideration. The Lord's blessing was with us all in bountiful measure as we considered together the grandeur of our high calling, and the "mark" to which all must attain if they would win it.
At Columbus we had but one day, but it was one full of refreshment, as we met about one hundred dear brethren and sisters from local points, and communed together concerning the exceeding great and precious promises and arrangements of God for the elect, and through them for all the families of the earth, in God's due time.
The arrangements at every point were most complete, and with the cordial reception accorded ourself and all visiting brethren, bespoke--amongst all--a
"Love divine all love excelling."
We shall cherish fondly to the end of our pilgrimage the remembrance of the hearty greetings and
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many kind attentions, great and small, lavished upon us by loved ones whom we had never met before, but who, for all that, were far from strangers. We accepted these attentions as done "unto the Lord" and to us a representative of Him and his truth; and not as personal tributes. If, as our Master promised, even a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple shall be rewarded by him, surely these many kindnesses to us as his servant will bring showers of spiritual blessings to many; and in this we rejoice.
Much as we enjoy these conventions and realize that they are spiritually profitable to many, we feel nevertheless that they must not be indulged so freely next year, nor until the concluding two volumes of the DAWN series are prepared. The conventions of this year have retarded VOL. VI. a full year. We have not as yet gotten started on it, and yet our daily increasing mail clearly shows its need. We have in mind for 1901 a convention at Buffalo, N.Y., to which point the Pan-American Exposition will undoubtedly secure low excursion rates.
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"THY SAINTS SHALL GLORIFY THEE."
They shall speak of the glory of thy Kingdom, and talk of thy power; to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his Kingdom."--`Psa. 145:5-12`.
VARIOUS ARE the view-points from which mankind regards its Creator. The world of mankind in general notes merely his mighty acts, without appreciating his glorious character. This is suggested by the Prophet, saying, "I will speak of [meditate on] the glorious honor of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous deeds, and men shall speak of thy terrible acts: but I will declare thy greatness." (`Vss. 5,6`.) The world speaketh of its own, and according to its intelligence respecting the Almighty; but the Lord's people, specially instructed by him and taught of the holy spirit, know of the Lord and his greatness in a sense that the remainder of mankind know them not.
As the Apostle declares, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. ...But God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit." (`1 Cor. 2:14,10`.) As our Lord again declared, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom." "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear." (`Mark 4:11`; `Matt. 13:16`.) We are not, then, to be surprised at the wide difference of understanding of God and of his mightiness and of his character, as viewed by the saints and by the world; rather we are to expect such a difference of view. The Apostle explains the reason, telling us that the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, so that the glorious light of God's goodness, shining in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord, does not shine into their hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the divine character and plan. (`2 Cor. 4:4`.) And he explains again that we who were at one time in darkness, are now enlightened by the Lord, having been translated out of the dominion of the prince of darkness, into the dominion of God's dear Son. (`Col. 1:13`.) And it is this enlightened class that the Apostle urges should make progress in the knowledge of the Lord, growing in grace, growing in knowledge, and thus growing in the love of God and in the appreciation of his character. He urges this, saying that it is necessary, to the intent that we may comprehend with all saints, the lengths and breadths, and the heights and depths, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth all [human] understanding.--`Eph. 3:17-19`.
Alas! the great majority of Christian people, while they have escaped from much of the blindness of the Adversary, are still subject to his confusing errors and misrepresentations of the truth, and are thus blinded still in great measure to the divine plan; looking at things more from the human standpoint than from the divine standpoint, and framing their creeds and confessions accordingly. Ah, they forget how the Lord has declared, "My plans are not your plans, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my plans than your plans." (`Isa. 55:8,9`.) Because of this measure of blindness that rests upon the mass of the nominal church--even amongst Protestants--it follows that, not seeing the divine character and plan in their true light and beauty, the vast majority of Christian people cannot take the standpoint of the saints in this prophetic testimony before us, but they take rather the standpoint of the natural man: when they think of the Almighty they think rather of his wonderful and terrible acts than of his own greatness, because they know comparatively little of the glorious honor of his majesty, and do not see how his wonderful deeds declare his greatness.
From the standpoint of the average Christian, God is anything but gloriously honorable in his majesty; indeed, thinking of the Almighty from the standpoint of their creeds, the majority of noble-minded Christian people feel ashamed of God and of his plan. One class declares that his glorious honor and majesty
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is manifested in his election of the Church to glory and eternal life, and in the passing by of the great majority of others, condemning them to an eternity of torture--and that since "known unto the Lord are all his works," God foreknew and foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, and thus purposed the eternal torment of the vast majority of his hundreds of millions of human creatures before creating them. Can these dear Christian friends declare the honor and majesty, the greatness and goodness, of their Creator? No! Hindered by such a false view of God's plan and of his mighty works, they cannot discern in such a course either justice, or love, or any other great or honorable quality, that they should honor or reverence it. Hence, like the world, they merely take note of the mighty power of Jehovah, and fear him, but are unable to take the position of the saints and to glorify his name and declare his righteousness.
Another large body of Christian people repudiate the foregoing false view, asserting another equally untrue, and almost equally dishonoring--tho their thought is to glorify God, and to relieve his character of the stain of injustice, inequity and lovelessness with which the foregoing view would besmirch it. These, therefore, claim that God loves every member of the race, and is doing, and has been doing since the fall, everything within his power to rescue Adam's fallen race from their difficulties. But with such a view how could they extol the greatness and the honorable majesty of the Almighty? If for six thousand years he has been unable to accomplish anything, where is the power, where is the honor and majesty to be seen?
Surely all would confess that any bright, honorable man, if granted the one-hundredth part of the omnipotent power of the Creator, could accomplish more in one hundred years than all that has been accomplished in six thousand years, toward the rescue of the race from ignorance, superstition and sin! How, then, could these dear Christian friends who, with good purpose of heart, are nevertheless blinded by a false theory--how could they tell forth the glorious honor of the divine majesty, and show this and his greatness from his wondrous deeds? Surely they would be dumb in any such effort.
THE SONG OF MOSES AND THE LAMB.
Only those who see the divine plan of the ages, and the relationship between the past, the present, and the future, are in any degree able to make known the greatness of our God, his glorious power, and his honorable majesty. This class is referred to by the Revelator as singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb--they sing in the sense of declaring in harmonious and beautiful cadences the relationship of the types and figures of the Law and the Prophets of the Mosaic dispensation with the antitypes of these of the Gospel dispensation; showing that all things written in the Law and in the Prophets are finding glorious fulfilments in the Lamb of God and in the great plan which the heavenly Father is working out through him.--`Rev. 15:3,4`.
The Revelator tells us the substance of this song; namely, "Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints!" But what great and marvelous work has God performed, and how shall we see that he is both just and true in all his ways and dealings? From the standpoint of those who can sing this song everything must be clear as noonday!
First amongst the great and marvelous works of the Almighty was the sentence of death upon father Adam and his posterity because of disobedience--not a sentence of eternal torment, which would be as unjust, and unreasonable, as it is untrue and contrary to the Word of God--not the false presentation respecting this divine act that is held forth in all the creeds of Christendom, --but the great and marvelous act which God
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declares he accomplished when he let fall upon our race the sentence of death, which has brought in its train all the various disasters and difficulties, mental and physical, to which our fallen flesh is heir, all of which are tending to, and resulting in death, the penalty. As we look at this marvelous work, we must concede that it was just (in that it was merited), that it is true (in the sense of not being an unreasonable penalty), true in the sense that it was exactly what God forewarned father Adam the penalty of disobedience would be. "Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."
But Jehovah's first great and marvelous work of condemnation was, after four thousand years, followed by another great and marvelous work; viz., the work of redemption. How stupendous this work of the ransoming of all Adam's race of hundreds of millions by the sacrifice of one man! How great and wonderful indeed this act, and how just and true, and how fully in harmony with every feature of divine justice and love! Even the philosophy of the ransom is explained to the Lord's people,--how that all mankind were included in one man's sentence, to the intent that in due time the penalty of sin could be paid on behalf of all mankind by the one sacrifice for sins, "the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all." (`1 Tim. 2:5,6`; `Rom. 5:12,18,19`.) Was not this a great and marvelous work? Who that realizes the lengths and breadths, and heights and depths of this manifestation of divine justice and divine love, can do aught else than sing this song of Moses and
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the Lamb, declaring to all who have ears to hear it, "Great and marvelous, just and true are thy ways, Lord God Almighty." But few see it clearly; and hence few can sing this wonderful story to others.
But there is still another feature to this song, and it is glorious also, tho it pertains not to the things that are past, but to the things yet to come. It declares, "Who shall not reverence thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name?" It looks forward to the time when this great redemption, accomplished by the blood of the Lamb, shall be made available to every member of the human family. It looks forward to the glorious Millennial age, to the time when, under divine providence, the knowledge of the Lord, essential to faith, and to any acceptance of his favor and mercy through Christ, shall be extended to every creature,--who indeed will not reverence the Lord and glorify his name? Surely, as the Scriptures have declared, at that time, "Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess," and while this bowing and confessing may at first be compulsory, and not with all the volition of the heart, yet the Scriptures assure us that ultimately all who will not come into heart harmony with the Lord and with all his gracious arrangements and provisions, shall be cut off from amongst the people, --in the Second Death. (`Acts 3:23`.) So that ultimately, instead of the universe being filled with hundreds of millions who to all eternity will wail and gnash their teeth and blaspheme God's holy name in agony--instead of this the time shall come when every tongue in heaven and in earth shall be heard praising God, and giving honor to him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb, forever; for by that time all evildoers, all lovers of unrighteousness, shall be cut off from amongst the people.
But this song continues, and has yet another strain. It declares, "Thou only art holy"--all holiness, all perfection, wherever it is found, must proceed from God, the great fountain of holiness. How strange, then, that any of God's dear people (and we ourselves were once amongst this number) should so misunderstand the divine character and plan as to misrepresent the same as being the very essence of unholiness, injustice, unkindness, inequity, lovelessness, toward the great mass of God's creatures! It will indeed be a glad day when all shall reverence God's name, and when all shall recognize that he is indeed the fountain of holiness.
But there is still another strain in this song, and it is a grand one also, like all the others,--reaching down into the Millennial age. It declares, "All nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest." "All nations" will include, not only all the nations then living, but all the nations of the dead, just as does the promise which God made to Abraham, saying, "In thy seed [the Christ, Head and body] shall all the families of the earth be blessed"--all nations.
How few, how extremely few, are able to learn this song! How extremely few learn it so well as to be able to sing this song to the glory of God! How many who supposedly were trained to sing "the good tidings of great joy" for all people, are in the pulpits to-day singing totally different songs; some of them songs of "Evolution," declaring that there was no fall, consequently no redemption from a fall, and consequently that there is to be no recovery from a fall; but that man is grandly climbing up, up, up, and proving to be his own Savior, and hoping to attain they know not what,--they know not when.
Others are singing the song of Calvinism, predestination, foreordination and election. Others are singing the song of Arminianism, and hoping that God will be able to accomplish much in the future through their assistance,--which they hold he has unsuccessfully been trying to do for six thousand years. Others are singing the song, "In union there is strength," and seeking to combine for what they term a "social uplift," or "the salvation of society." Others are singing the song of works and universal salvation. But how few are able to sing this song of Moses and the Lamb, or to see how God's great and marvelous works of the past reflect gloriously upon his character, both for justice and love, and give us the best of all assurances for the working out in the future of the glorious plan which he has already outlined and begun!
And we are told the reason why so few can sing this song--that it is only for those to sing who have "gotten the victory over the beast and his image and his mark and the number of his name." These symbols, representing earthly institutions which now hinder and bind and enslave the Lord's people to creeds, must be overcome by every soul that would hope to be able to appreciate this song, and to sing it in his daily life to others according to his opportunities. Those who try to sing this song while yet in Babylon find their mistake.
PROCLAIM LOUDLY THE MEMORIAL.
Coming back to the Prophet's testimony respecting the message, showing forth the Lord's honor and majesty, we find in the `7th verse` a wonderful testimony to the central feature and greatest manifestation of the divine character and plan. The Psalmist says (Leeser's translation), "The memorial of thy abundant goodness shall they loudly proclaim, and they shall sing joyfully of thy righteousness." What
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memorial has God given us of his abundant goodness? Which of all his great and wonderful works could be thus termed a memorial of divine favor? We answer that this memorial, this great act, was none other than the gift of God's dear Son, to be our redemption price, as the Apostle declares, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." (`1 John 4:9`.) But as very few realize the great act of justice accomplished in the sentencing of father Adam and his race to death, so very few can appreciate, as a special manifestation of God's abundant goodness, the death of Christ as the full offset for Adam's sin, the full ransom, the full payment of his penalty and that of his race.
The reason for this is that they esteem that the ransom was paid only for the Church, a little flock. From this standpoint it was not a manifestation of the abundant grace and goodness of God, but of a very limited grace and favor for a very limited number, a handful, as it were, out of the great mass of humanity. But when we come to see that our Lord Jesus' sacrifice was "a propitiation for our sins [the Church's sins] and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world," and that this "ransom for all" is "to be testified in due time" to all, and made available to all, that ultimately all may benefit thereby if they will, and return to harmony with God and to eternal life,--from this standpoint only can we see the greatness of that transaction, finished at Calvary, and how it is a "memorial" of God's abundant goodness. And only such as see this can heartily and loudly proclaim it, and sing joyfully of the righteousness of God, which not only was manifested in the righteous penalty against sin, but which again manifested itself in the righteous payment of that penalty on behalf of every creature.
The Psalmist continues, "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion; slow to anger and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works" (`vs. 8`). Is not this just what we should expect in our Creator, if we recognize him to be the full embodiment of Justice and of Love and of Wisdom and of Power? And yet how different is this description of the divine character from the general view, as held by the masses of Christian people, blinded by the Adversary and misled by their creeds! Instead of thinking of the Lord as gracious, do they not think of him as awfully ungracious, and have they not pictured him, not only in their creeds but also in their hymns of praise, as being awfully bitter and malignant against his creatures, ungracious, pitiless, full of anger and of no mercy? Have they
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not, on the contrary, represented that Jesus our dear Redeemer must plead with the Father, and show his wounds and appeal for us, ere any compassion could be exhibited, and then only in the most limited degree?
But not thus false was the Prophet's view of Jehovah, given by inspiration. Jehovah is gracious and full of compassion; he knows that the motions of sin are in our flesh, tending downward, and in his great mercy and compassion he has provided in Jesus for our every difficulty, our every trial, for the covering of our every weakness and imperfection, and with those who become his people, and who even haltingly seek to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, he is slow to anger and of great mercy. False ideas of the divine character and the divine dealings with the world of mankind have not only perverted the hopes of God's people as respects the world, but have also inculcated in their hearts misconceptions of God's sentiments toward his Church, so that the majority of his people do not appreciate the kindness, the mercy, the love, the compassion of our Father in heaven, and failing to appreciate these they have more or less of the fear of which the Apostle speaks, saying, "Fear hath torment," and correspondingly they lack "the peace of God which passeth all understanding" to rule in their hearts. It is only when by the grace of God the eyes of our understanding are opened to see how our heavenly Father is not against us, but for us, and how under his providential arrangement all things are working together for good to those who love, and who are seeking to attain to the gracious things which he has offered them in his Word,--only then are we enabled to know him, appreciate him, and to offer him, in the best and fullest sense of the word, the tribute of our hearts and the praise of our lips.
Now we come to the climax, as it were, of our text, and note that while the Lord's saints see his greatness and honorable majesty connected with every feature of the divine plan, and while they are telling these good tidings to others, and speaking of his mighty doings in the past, their message would not be complete without a testimony respecting his glorious Kingdom. "They shall speak of the glory of thy Kingdom" --the Millennial Kingdom. They cannot tell of the majesty of the divine plan and not tell about the Kingdom. To tell of the fall, and to tell of the righteous sentence upon the fallen race, and to tell of the redemption accomplished through the precious blood of Christ, and that it was paid on behalf of every member of the Adamic race, would not finish the good tidings of great joy. It is necessary, therefore, to speak of the glory of God's Kingdom, and to talk of his power as it will be manifested in that Kingdom. As the sentence and the execution of the sentence manifest the justice of God; and the redemption
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through Jesus manifests the love of God, so the Kingdom of the Lord will manifest his power to save to the uttermost all those who come unto the Father through the Son.
The glory of the Lord's Kingdom will not consist, as some have supposed, of some saints sitting with the Savior on a bright cloud and looking over the battlements of heaven to see the remainder, the numberless millions of mankind, writhing in agony. O no! If this were all that we could say of the Kingdom of our God we should rather prefer to say nothing. There would be no glory in such a Kingdom; it would be an everlasting reproach to the King that he had conceived a plan which had resulted so horribly, so indescribably bad, that it should mean the eternal torment of hundreds of millions of his creatures. Nor will the glory of the Kingdom consist, as some others of God's dear people suppose, in a manifestation of a handful of saints, the glorified Church, with the Lord, and with the remainder of the race blotted out of existence without ever having had knowledge and a full opportunity under favorable conditions to avail themselves of the great memorial of God's love, the redemption. O no! There would be no glory, but a discredit to such a Kingdom and to so meagre an outcome to the great "memorial."
Nor will the Kingdom be, as some others of God's dear people have conceived it to be, one in which Christ and his Church shall, during the Millennial age, bless merely the living nations of the world, and bring to them the blessings which God has promised, but leave all the remainder of the race who have died for six thousand years, from Adam down to the present time, in darkness, in ignorance, in death, without any opportunity under that Kingdom. O no! A human plan might thus favor the millions living at the time of the establishment of the Kingdom, but forget or ignore or pass by the hundreds and thousands of millions who have gone down into the great prison-house of death; but God's ways are not as man's ways nor his plans as man's plans. The glory of the Kingdom of which we are authorized to speak, is a Kingdom which is to bless all nations, the dead who have gone down into the tomb, as well as those who have not yet gone into death. It is a Kingdom in which God's power will be most marvelously manifested.
Let us "talk" together now of his power as the Prophet has suggested. It will be a mighty power which will overthrow the reign of sin, which will bind the power of Satan that he shall deceive the nations no more, and which will establish the Lord Jesus and his glorious Church in power and great glory, with dominion over all the earth, with authority to execute judgment,--to punish sin and to reward every effort toward righteousness. But the power of God as it will be manifested, will be still greater than all this; it will be a power which will lift up out of the miry pit of sin, out of the weaknesses of the flesh, out of his imperfections, mental, moral and physical, every member of the human family who desires to make progress and to return to the grand perfection of human nature represented originally in father Adam, and from which he and all in him fell, through disobedience. In this sense of the word it is a resurrection power, raising up, up, up, from the low conditions of sin and death to the high conditions of perfection and righteousness. It not only will thus take hold of the people who will not at that time have fallen asleep in death, but this mighty power of the Kingdom will take hold also of those who have gone down into the tomb, and who are in the great prison-house of death; even as our Lord declared, that he will open the prison-doors and say to the prisoners, "Show yourselves; come forth." "And all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and come forth" (`John 5:28,29`), and the coming forth shall be unto a resurrection by judgment--that so many as will, may avail themselves of the blessed privileges and opportunities of that great judgment day (the Millennial age), and profit by the stripes and corrections in righteousness which will then be administered, and grow in grace, grow in knowledge, grow in love and grow in perfection of being, until by the close of the Millennial age, if they will, they shall have arrived back again into full harmony with God, and received fully all the perfections of human nature lost through the fall, and redeemed by the great "memorial" of divine favor.
No wonder, then, that the saints, when they glorify God, speak of the glory of his Kingdom and talk of the mighty power of God which shall then be manifested, and how then shall be made known to the sons of men God's mighty acts; how they shall then see clearly the meaning of the original sentence as they do not now see it; how they shall then see clearly the meaning of the great redemption, as they do not now see it, and how they shall then see clearly the provision of divine power in the Kingdom for their blessing;--that seeing these mighty acts of God in their true light, they also may glorify the Father which is in heaven, and they may appreciate the majesty of his Kingdom.
"THY SAINTS SHALL BLESS THEE."
The Prophet intimates that all the saints shall have the privilege of thus declaring the Kingdom, and of thus honoring the name of our God; and this seems to be literally fulfilled to-day, for the Lord seems to
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be bringing to the attention of all of his saints (his consecrated people everywhere) the present truth; to the intent that they may have its light upon their pathway, making manifest unto them the glorious character of our God, through a knowledge of his great plan of the ages. Moreover, the Lord seems to be putting it within the power of every one of his saints to thus glorify his name and to speak forth the truth to others. To some he has granted the talent of oratory and opportunity to use it and to speak forth his praises in this way; to others he has granted a talent for private conversation, that they may thus tell of his Kingdom and speak of his glorious majesty and make known his plans to such as have hearing ears. To others still he has given the privilege of declaring his message through the circulation of the printed page; and to some he seems to have given opportunities for using all of these various methods of singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. And we may rest assured that none can be of the company of the Lord's saints in this time, and know of his goodness and his wonderful honor and majesty, and not have a desire to tell the good tidings of great joy to all who have an ear to hear; and those who are most earnest, most zealous in proclaiming the message, are sure to have the most blessing in their own hearts, and in their own experiences, and to grow the most in grace, in knowledge and in love.
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"I will speak of the glorious honor of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous deeds. Thy saints shall glorify thee; they shall speak of the glory of thy Kingdom, and talk of thy power, to make known unto the sons of men thy mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of thy Kingdom."
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FOLLOWING THE VOICE OF CONSCIENCE.
A BROTHER writes us interestingly as follows. We omit names for obvious reasons.
I want to thank you for your last letter. The Lord has poured out upon my distracted mind a great blessing since I fully and unreservedly gave up all. So far as I understand my present attitude toward the dear Master, I am now "beheaded," having bowed reverently and joyfully to his will. It seems that the mere unconditional resolve to separate wholly from Babylon brought me a blessing. But I have not yet sent in my contemplated letter to the Presbytery. The same meets in regular session the 9th of Oct. I shall endeavor to have it ready to go before that meeting for action. The pastor of the local church (Presbyterian) here has promised to help the matter along and to defend my case, should a defence be called out. This promise he made after I had explained to him, one day this week, my reasons for the step. At first he tried, by arguments and persuasion, to induce me to change my mind.
"Wait a while," he said, "until you see the outcome of the revision movement. The Confession of Faith will, and must be changed. I am out of harmony with several of its doctrinal statements myself, and the brethren of the Presbytery know it too, and some of them hate me for it like poison. Let us stand by our guns and fight the thing out, brother."
"No," I said, "I cannot follow your advice, brother, tho I know it is well meant. My mind is so fully made up that I cannot be induced to take a backward step."
"Well then, if that is the case, where do you wish to be dismissed to--what church, or association? We cannot dismiss you at large or at random, you know. Our book makes no provision for such a case. In fact, I have never heard of such a case before."
"My request is, and must be, for unconditional dismissal," I answered. "I wish to be absolutely free from ecclesiastical bondage. I recognize no human organization as the Church of Christ. All of them exist without the authority or recognition of the Lord Jesus Christ; hence, none of them are his. His Church has no name on earth. But I can conscientiously say this of the Presbyterian Church as I know it: In practice it is the best of the denominations and sects, but in doctrinal teachings it is nearly as bad as the Roman Catholic system."
Not one word of comment in reply! Instead he gave me this item of confidential information:
"Brother, I will tell you something by which you can see how most of our brother ministers stand on the Westminster Confession: At our last meeting a young man from the German Theological Seminary in Iowa came to us for examination and ordination. Dr. __________, our Stated Clerk of Presbytery, was chairman of the examining committee, and I was also on the same. After Dr. __________ got through with him and expressed himself as satisfied, I took the book, and turning to the statements on election and reprobation I read the whole chapter to him, and then asked him solemnly, 'Do you believe this?' He looked at me a minute, and then said: 'If you will let me explain it, I will show in what sense I believe it.' 'No, no,' I said, 'you cannot and you must not try to explain it; you must believe it or you are not entitled to ordination according to our form of government. Now
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let me ask you once more, Do you accept this doctrine as it stands?' Brother, that young man answered very emphatically, 'No!' Dr. __________said, 'And neither do I!' And I also said, 'Neither do I!'
"Did the Presbytery ordain him on such a confession as that?" I asked.
"Not one dissenting vote in the committee."
"Such inconsistency is inexcusable, and wrong before God," I said. "It is only another strong argument in favor of my decision to get out and be free." Then we parted, he cordially offering me his assistance if needed, as above stated.
Your counsel with reference to the spirit of my letter of request for dismissal, is appreciated and fully approved. I believe the Lord will suggest to my mind the words he would have me say. I will send you a copy of the letter when I write again. I think of you daily, and my love goes out to you as a brother high above a brother by birth.
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THE UNJUST STEWARD.
`LUKE 16:1-13`.--NOV. 4.
"Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."
WHILE THE previous parables of this dinner-table talk were addressed specially to the Pharisees, this parable, and the one following it, concerning a rich man and a poor man (Dives and Lazarus), were addressed not so exclusively to the Pharisees, but, as the first verse of our lesson declares, to the disciples also, as well as to the Pharisees at the same table. The reason why the first three parables were addressed to the Pharisees only, and not to the disciples, is evident --the disciples needed no such instruction, having no prejudice against the poorer classes, recognizing themselves as amongst the "lost" who were glad to be found by the Good Shepherd.
The steward of this parable corresponds to the elder son of the preceding parable, and to the rich man of the succeeding parable; it applies specially to the scribes and Pharisees, who, as our Lord declared, on another occasion, "sat in Moses' seat"--represented Moses, and the Law Covenant of which Moses was the Mediator, and the blessing obtained through that covenant, of which Moses was the original steward, and they now the steward, as his representatives. In what did this stewardship consist? The Apostle Paul asks this question, and answers it, saying, "What advantage then hath a Jew? Much every way; chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God," the knowledge of God, with typical justification and at-one-ment with him, and an interest in the promises made to the fathers.
The Jews, as represented in Moses and his successors, failed of their stewardship--failed to use in a manner satisfactory to God the favors committed to their care. Nor, indeed, were they wholly to blame for this, as the Apostle Paul points out; they were weak through the fall, incompetent to be administrators of so great a trust; and God knew this when he gave them the stewardship--he knew that they would fail to keep the Law perfectly. He had fully intended that in due time he would depose them from the stewardship and give it to the one whom he had foreknown--to Messiah.
Now the time had come when this change of administration was about to be effected, and God was calling upon the representatives of Israel to give an account of their stewardship, and informing them that a new dispensation was about to be ushered in. Our Lord Jesus in this parable wished to point out to them what would be the wisest course for them to pursue under the circumstances. He shows them what an earthly steward would do under such circumstances, and tells them there is wisdom in such a course, saying, "The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light:" you, as God's people, more favored than any others with light on the divine character and plan, are not acting as wisely as you would do if you were earthly stewards.
Here we are met with the difficulty that the majority of people do not clearly comprehend--the scope of a steward's privileges in olden times. We have no such office to-day amongst civilized people. A steward's office was a confidential one; he had the liberty and full authority to do anything and everything that the owner himself could do with his goods. He could make presents or cancel debts, or use in any manner he chose the goods under his care, and could not be held responsible as a culprit before the Law, because the nature of his office as a steward was such that he fully represented and acted for his employer. The latter could discharge him from the stewardship as a penalty for unfaithfulness, but this would be his only punishment, because in making him steward he fully authorized him to use his judgment.
In the parable the unjust steward--unjust in his previous use of his master's affairs, that is, unrighteous, unsatisfactory, imperfect--as soon as he realized the situation, made no attempt to defend himself, nor to claim that he had done perfectly; but before rendering up his accounts he dealt leniently with some of his lord's creditors, remitting parts of their indebtedness. (This may have been a wise course, as, for instance, to-day bankruptcy laws similarly release debtors from
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obligations which they could not pay; and similarly creditors frequently, in their own interest, agree to accept sixty per cent., fifty per cent., forty per cent., or some other proportion of the original sum as for the whole of a debt, seeing that the debtor is unable to pay the account in full, and with a view to his encouragement to do the best he can. The Jewish Jubilee year of full release from all debts was along the same line of leniency and wise business policy represented in the "Bankruptcy Law" of today.) It is not because of this last conduct of the steward that he is called unjust (unrighteous) in the parable, but because of his previous stewardship, not having come up to the full, perfect demands of his master.
Now, applying the parable to all of the Jewish nation, especially to those who sat in Moses' seat and had the control of matters, and who decided what was and what was not the proper interpretation of the Law, our Lord intimated that if they were as wise as earthly stewards they would make use of their opportunities in a somewhat similar manner. Now how could they have done this--supposing that they recognized the fact that they had not fulfilled the requirements of God under the Law, and supposing also that they realized that the time had come for a change of dispensation, and that God was demanding an account of them and informing them that a new steward would take possession of matters--under such circumstances how should these in Moses' seat have acted? We answer, that in harmony with the lesson of the parable, they should have said to themselves: We realize that we ourselves have not kept the Law of God perfectly; indeed, that it is not within our power to do so. We realize that a change of dispensation is impending, and that we are called upon to make an accounting, and that we can only admit before God that we have made a failure as respects the carrying out of the demands of his Law and the gaining of eternal life under it,--and as respects the use of the many advantages every way which God has given us. We have used our advantages in some respects well, but we failed on the whole to accomplish anything in the world, or to gain eternal life, either for ourselves or for any,--and we cannot dispute, therefore, that "By the deeds of the Law no flesh should be justified in God's sight."
Since, therefore, it must soon be evidenced to all that our stewardship has resulted in failure and that we are dispossessed, the wise thing for us to do is to turn about at once, and deal kindly and generously with these sinners (the prodigal son class) and, instead of denouncing them as sinners more than ourselves, we should say to them frankly, We cannot keep this perfect Law of God, and we know also that you cannot do so; but now, instead of being hopelessly discouraged and cast down, do the best you can; we will remit part of the exaction of the Law, admitting that you are unable to keep it perfectly, and will merely require of you that you keep it to the best of your ability--fifty per cent., or eighty per cent., according to your circumstances and conditions--according as you are able, keep the Law.
Had the scribes and Pharisees taken this position they would have healed the breach as between themselves and the people, and their honesty in admitting that they themselves could not keep the Law would have been a distinct advantage to them, subsequently, in connection with the new dispensation. And this very conduct of candid admission and of sympathy for others, and assistance in lifting their burdens would have brought them into such a condition of heart that they would have been ready for the Gospel; and the lower classes, from which they had hitherto held aloof as sinners, would have had a kindly feeling toward them, and as a result they would have retained a measure of their sympathy, at least, in the time of trouble which came upon them when their polity was overthrown.
But did the scribes and Pharisees follow any such course? By no means. On the other hand they put on a brassy front, made broad their phylacteries, made still louder claims respecting their own perfection of heart and life, deceiving their own selves probably as much as or more than they deceived others. They boasted that they should ever continue to be stewards of the manifold grace of God; and, as our Lord declares, so far from lifting the burdens and condemnations of the Law from the shoulders of the people, who were honest enough to confess inability to keep the perfect law, these scribes and Pharisees, on the contrary, bound upon the people heavy burdens which they would not assist to lift with their little finger.--`Matt. 23:1-4`.
Thus doing they became more and more hypocritical and case-hardened, until, in his later descriptions of them, our Lord declared them to be whited sepulchres, outwardly fair and beautiful, inwardly full of corruption, dishonesty, hypocrisy; knowing themselves to be infractors of the Law they were outwardly claiming and boasting perfection. This not being said to the Pharisees alone, but to the disciples "also," implies that they were to notice how the parable fitted and how unwisely this steward class was acting. Even at the table the Pharisees, perceiving to some extent at least the trend of the parable, "derided"--being covetous. But our Lord pressed the lesson home to them saying, "Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts." You are the unjust steward and soon all will witness your rejection. "The Law and the prophets [of which you are the representatives] was [recognized of God] until John [the
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Baptist]; since that time the Kingdom of God is preached [the new, the Gospel dispensation], and every one [should] press toward it." (`Verses 14-16`.) You, leaders of the people, however, not only will not enter yourselves, but those desiring to enter you hinder. (`Matt. 23:13`.) You should see that your institution is bound to Moses and the Law as a wife to her husband --so long as it liveth. It is needful, therefore, that the Law which you represent should die, that Israel may be liberated and thus be prepared to be united (married) to Messiah by a new covenant.--`Verses 17,18`; `Rom. 7:1-4`.
We are not informed that this parable had special application in the end of this Gospel age, but since we know from other Scriptures that natural Israel and its harvest time were a pattern or illustration of spiritual Israel and this age and the present harvest time, therefore we are justified in looking for some parallel as between the condition of the unjust steward in our Lord's day and a similar class in this present time. And looking about us to-day for a class corresponding to those who sat in Moses' seat, we find a class to-day sitting in Christ's seat, as respects the Gospel Church. This class is composed of elders, Sunday School teachers and superintendents, ministers, bishops, archbishops, etc. These as a whole are representing a great stewardship of divine favor as respects the Lord's people today. They perceive that a change of dispensation is upon us, that their creeds and traditions from the past are being called in question, and that they are being required to render up an account. They perceive that the account will not be a very flattering one, and that if the whole truth were known to the people as it is known to God, they would be found derelict, unfaithful to their stewardship in many respects. They fear the crisis; they put off the day of reckoning as far as possible; they hush the murmurs of the people and the questions respecting creeds, and as the Lord said of the steward of his day, so it will be true of these: "That which is highly esteemed amongst men is an abomination in the sight of God."--`Verse 15`.
These representatives of the nominal church, who hold a position of stewardship as respects the masses of the Lord's people, are disposed, as were the Pharisees, their prototypes, to put a bold face upon matters, to brave it out rather than to confess the truth. As for instance, in the matter of creeds that are being called in question: Many, even of those who were at first disposed to demand the revision of the Westminster Confession of Faith, have concluded that this would be showing the white feather, and admitting that they had been in error in the past, and imperfect in their interpretation of the divine Word, and hence calculated to discredit them with the people; and now the tide is rapidly turning and the same ones who were demanding a revision are now voting to the contrary, that the creed is good, thoroughly satisfactory to them, that they would not change it for anything. They are so anxious to be highly esteemed of men that they seem to forget altogether the one from whom they received their stewardship, and who is about to take it from them.
What would be the proper course for this steward class of the Gospel age? We answer, that the proper course would be to do what our Lord recommended to the Jewish stewards; viz., they should candidly confess to the people the errors of the creeds and their own imperfection in attempted exposition of the divine Word, and their own failures in the past in respect to a proper use of the oracles of God and a proper application of
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the exceeding great and precious promises. And while acknowledging their own errors and shortcomings, they should modify the demands made of the people and bring them into conformity with their ability. For instance, they should say to the people, How much did we say that you owed to God, and what penalty did we say would be imposed upon you? If we said you were to receive a penalty of eternal torment, count that now as being an error, and write down instead, "A just recompense of reward." If we taught you that your obligations to God are according to the Jewish law, and as represented in the Ten Commandments, and that unless these were kept perfectly in letter and in spirit you would have no hope of eternal life, alter and amend that feature of your faith, and write instead that, under the New Covenant, God will accept the most imperfect works of those who have consecrated themselves to him, providing those imperfect works are the best that they are able to offer; and providing they are offered in the name and merit of him who loved us and who bought us with his own precious blood.
If the present stewards would follow such a course they would undoubtedly be respected through the future, but following their present course, the time is surely coming when they will be despised as hypocrites and blind guides, who mislead their confiding flocks into the ditch of skepticism and the great time of trouble.
This parable may be considered as ending with the eighth verse, the instructions which follow being separate and distinct, and along a somewhat different line, and addressed specially to those who accepted the Lord's teaching, his disciples.
"YE CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON."
This after-lesson is on the subject of the impossibility of having two masters, God and Mammon. Mammon represents earthly riches, not only financial wealth, but honor amongst men, etc.--the thing which was particularly hindering the Pharisees from taking the proper course and acknowledging their error and seeking for and obtaining mercy. Mammon still is a great hindrance to all who desire to be the Lord's disciples. Whoever worships Mammon--and it may be self or wealth or fame or position and honor amongst men, one or all of these--whoever worships Mammon cannot at the same time be a true worshiper of God, a true follower of Christ; because God and Mammon
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are rivals before our hearts. If we attempt to divide our love and attention, and to give part of it to God and to his service, and part of it to Mammon, the results will be unsatisfactory to God, unsatisfactory to Mammon and unsatisfactory to ourselves.
We must, therefore, decide either to live for self and earthly things or to renounce and sacrifice these in the interest of God and of heavenly things. The worshipers of Mammon may have certain advantages as respects the present life, in the way of earthly prosperity, but Mammon cannot give eternal life. It is the gift of God, and those who would have God's gift must be God's friends, God's children; and he demands of such that they shall manifest their love and devotion to him by renouncing Mammon, by joyfully sacrificing earthly name and fame and favor and interest, thus showing their higher appreciation of his love and favor, the riches of his grace, and the exceeding great and precious things which he has promised to give them in the life to come.
These are to "make to themselves friends;" in other words, to lay up treasures in heaven, by the sacrifice of the Mammon of unrighteousness;--that is to say, the sacrifice of the various interests of this present time of unrighteousness, "this present evil world."
Some may have very little of Mammon at their disposal to sacrifice; but the Lord encourages us all by saying that he that is faithful in that which is least, thereby gives evidence of how faithful he would be if he had much; and the Lord accepts the little sacrifices which we are able to make as tho they were greater ones. "She hath done what she could" is the best of testimony as respects the use of present opportunities in the Lord's service, whether it refer to a mite or a million, a little influence or a great one. It is not the amount that God is seeking, but the character, the disposition of heart; and whoever has the right disposition of heart and is careful in the small affairs of life, to serve the Lord with all that he possesses and to the extent of his ability, such an one will have committed to him the true riches--the heavenly riches. Not merely may he expect to enter into the glories of the heavenly Kingdom, but even in the present life he will begin to get a first-fruits of those riches in his own heart, in his own experiences; for it is unquestionably a fact that the heirs of glory, those who are in the right relationship with God and running faithfully in the race, not only will get the prize at the end of the race, but already get blessing which the world can neither give nor take away;--the joys of the Lord, the peace of God which passeth all understanding ruling in their hearts; so that they can sing for joy, even in the house of their pilgrimage--even in the present unsatisfactory tabernacle condition, in which we groan also, being burdened with its weaknesses.
But if we are not faithful in the little things which confessedly are not our own, and merely given to us as a stewardship--the things, the opportunities, the talents, which are merely put within our grasp as stewards of the Lord,--if we are not faithful in using these with an eye single to the Lord's glory, how can we expect that he will ever give us true riches of grace, to be our own forever, either in the future or in the present life.
The sum of this lesson to the disciples, then, is that as no man is able to serve two masters and satisfy both, and do justice to both, their interests conflicting, no more can we serve God and righteousness, and at the same time be pleasing and acceptable to the Adversary and those who are in harmony with him who now rules in this present dispensation, the "prince of this world." All of the Lord's consecrated people, those who would lay up treasures in heaven and be rich toward God, must be willing to become of no reputation amongst those who are not consecrated, and who, whatever their professions, are really serving Mammon, selfishness, the present life, and not sacrificing these interests to the attainment of the heavenly Kingdom.
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THE RICH MAN (DIVES) AND THE POOR MAN (LAZARUS).
--`LUKE 16:19-31`.--NOV. 11.--
THIS PARABLE is a continuation of the series, a part of the table-talk at the banquet at the Pharisee's house. It is the culmination, so to speak, of the entire series of parables. The first represents mankind in general, as the lost sheep, and the Lord's interest therein, and its final recovery to the fold; the second respecting the lost coin, represents the same thought, with the additional feature of the diligent sweeping and bringing in of the light in order to the recovery or restitution of the lost race. The third applies this same principle to the Jewish nation, and reproves the Pharisee class, the elder brother, for not having the Lord's spirit of love and mercy in respect to the sinner class, the prodigal. The fourth represents the unwisdom of this Pharisee class in hypocritically pretending to others that they kept the Law and were acceptable stewards, whereas they themselves were well aware that they came short of the glory of God, came short of fulfilling their stewardship, and must therefore be ejected from it; and points out to them a proper course, which they did not, however, take. And now, finally, this parable of Dives and Lazarus, the fifth of the series, brings the instruction to a climax by picturing the favored class as the rich man, who enjoyed, but did not rightly appreciate the blessings showered upon him,--selfishly shutting up his heart against the poor sinner at his gate; not acknowledging that he himself also was imperfect and came short of the glory of God and the perfect keeping of his Law.
This parable shows what the results would be as respects both classes--the final outcome. We will not deal with it here, since we have already treated it with considerable elaboration in our issue of March 15 and April 1, 1900. But inasmuch as some may have loaned or given away that copy, and since we have a good supply of them on hand, we conclude to send an extra copy of that one with this issue to supplement this lesson. Those who find themselves possessed of two copies will no doubt have good opportunity for using the extra one to the Lord's praise and to the blessing of some who in more or less darkness are "feeling after God [his plan], if haply they may find him."
ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Glory to God! By the aid of the Holy Spirit I am now feasting on the meat due to the household of faith. The Lord has anointed my eyes to behold the prize of the calling from on high. The separation has come; I am the Lord's. I have not only covenanted with God that I will be dead to all human things, but with the aid of His spirit I have resolved to perform that covenant throughout my earthly career,--keeping my "body under," keeping my will out of sight, and to perform only the Lord's will. I am no longer simply justified, I am now sanctified. Praise the Lord! I have forsaken all and am willing to suffer with him that I may also be glorified with him. Words cannot express the joy and peace dwelling in my heart.
How is it that I remained in darkness so long? The Lord's ways are certainly wonderful and past finding out to those who have not his spirit. I now better understand the purpose of his dealings with me. It was a hard lesson to learn, but thanks be to God for the permission to learn it. This world has no longer any attraction for me. It is all a fleeting show for man's delusion given. Heaven is my home, and O how I long to be there! How I long to receive the crown which the righteous Judge shall give me at that day!
The Lord is sustaining me, spiritually as well as physically. To earn a living, I am doing some light work during the week,--"collecting." I could not preach for money again. The Lord only knows how I regret having ever preached for a salary. But then I was not consecrated: now I know different; nor am I preaching for sects: I am only preaching for the Lord Jesus whenever and wherever opportunity presents itself. And, praise the Lord, I am now preaching "present truth."
In connection with my work during the week I have opportunities to sell the DAWN. Perhaps the Lord will lead me into the colporteur work. His will be done! I don't suppose that you remember me. We met at the Council Bluffs Convention.
Pray for me, for I need much divine strength.
Yours in Christ, J. A. KIEFERLE,--Colorado.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--As we did not get to bid you "good-bye," at Chicago, nor have an opportunity to express our sentiments concerning the convention, I take this means of letting you know how much we enjoyed the meetings and how much good they have done us. Not only do I speak as to Sister Owen and myself, but the rest of the dear ones who were present from here (18 in all) have been greatly refreshed and blessed, and this morning at meeting I could see the blessed spirit of our Convention shining from their countenances, and they still wore the "convention smile" which was to me an inspiration in itself. One dear sister who has come into the truth since our Convention last summer and who was at our late one told me this morning that since attending the Convention and meeting with so many of the Lord's people and hearing various phases of the truth discussed, all her doubts had vanished, and that she could not sleep last night for thinking of these blessed truths and God's wonderful goodness to her in allowing her to see them. She said, "The room seemed to be filled with joy and all I could do was to lie still and praise the Lord," and her bright, happy face this morning was a clear index to the deep well of joy springing up in her heart since coming out of darkness into his marvelous light.
This dear sister's experience is doubtless but the counterpart of the experiences of many others. And if the Convention did us, who have the blessed privilege of daily fellowship with those of like precious faith, so much good, think what it must be to those dear isolated ones who, so far as human fellowship and sympathy are concerned, must stand alone through all the long days of waiting till their change come.
The foregoing brings vividly before my mind the memories of my first convention. It was in Allegheny in 1890. I was then "a cake not turned." I did not know whether I believed in "restitution" or not. I well remember how timid I was, how fearful lest I should be led wrong. I almost felt as if I were going to the "enemy's country." But of this one thing I was determined; I would not allow any one "to pull the wool over my eyes," but I would see and know for myself "whether these things be true."
Sister Owen has preserved the letters I wrote her while at Allegheny this first time, and I send some extracts from them, thinking they would be of interest to you. In my first letter I wrote as follows:--
"I hardly know how I stand on their doctrines (now, thank God, I do know how I stand on our doctrines, I stand squarely on them with both feet), but I feel content to trust God to bring me into the full light. I find that the people here have a great advantage over us, and we are just beginning to learn, just in our letters, so to speak."
Next day I wrote,--
"We had the best meeting last night that I have been in for a long time; it was a love feast indeed....O how I wish you were here! Think of a houseful of consecrated people and the pleasure of worshiping with them. I am coming more fully into the light and am thinking of being immersed tomorrow. Brother Russell preached a sermon on this subject the first day that I was here that was better than anything I had ever heard. ...I believe him to be the most consecrated preacher that I have ever met and have learned to love him. I may stay longer than Monday as he has given me a pressing invitation to do so."
My last letter, written perhaps two days later than the one above, is so expressive of my feelings at that time that I give it verbatim.
"MY DEAR WIFE:--I did not write you yesterday, thinking to start home last evening, but Brother Russell insisted on my staying longer. I may stay until tomorrow evening. I am up before the family this morning; I am troubled with sleeplessness to some extent. Last night I went to bed very tired, and thought that I would go right to sleep, but I could not sleep for meditating on the goodness and mercy of God to me. And now my heart burns within me as I think of his many blessings. Praise his name forever!
"You know how undecided I was when I left home. Well, through the increase of knowledge and the sweet communion of God's people, the mists of darkness have cleared away, and yesterday I symbolized my burial with him through water baptism. I have consecrated all I have and am or hope to be to God. Will you join me in this? I know you will. O, how I wish you were here with me that you might partake of the spiritual food that the Lord has supplied in such abundance. But I will bring home (I hope) all that my heart will hold and we will enjoy it together.
"I look forward with joy to the many precious hours that we will spend together studying the Word of God and loving its great truths more than ever now that we begin to see them more clearly. The doctrine of `Restitution' is not a `cunningly devised fable' but is foreshadowed in all the types in a way that we never dreamed of, and I believe that the Lord will reveal more and more of his great plan to us if we follow on to know the truth. Let us humbly and prayerfully do this, `looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.'
"You will have to be content with this fragment until I get home. Kiss the dear children for papa. With much love, yes, with more love, I remain as ever, CHARLEY."
I love to live over again these scenes; they are most precious to me, my dear brother, and to-night I can truthfully say that the love there begotten towards yourself has only grown deeper and stronger with the lapse of years, and I feel a deep and loving concern in all that concerns you. Looking back over these intervening years I can see much of weakness, much of humiliating defeat. Yet, thank God, many victories. He has permitted us to gather some precious grains of wheat, amongst them Brother and Sister Ransom and a good many others who are yet in the narrow way.
Just a few words regarding the singing. I think it was excellent. Brother McPhail did splendidly, and the new books are such a treat. Yours in our dear Redeemer, C. A. OWEN,--Indiana.
CHARLES T. RUSSELL,
DEAR SIR:--About three weeks ago, on coming out of church, a young woman handed me a copy of your paper. I should like to thank her. I have read and re-read it, and it is a great relief to me to be convinced that there is no place of endless torment prepared for the wicked. I have not been able to understand how a God of love could inflict such terrible punishment upon his creatures, many of whom have been called to endure great suffering in this life. It is right, of course, that those who will not submit to God's authority should be destroyed, but I am glad to be able to hope that another opportunity for repentance will be given them. I intend to lend my paper to friends, hoping to make converts, and will be glad to have some of the tracts which you send free. If I were able I would buy some but cannot do more than subscribe for the paper. Respectfully yours,
Miss S. E. RITTENHOUSE,--D.C.
MY DEAR BROTHER:--We cannot ever hope to have you and the other dear brethren (who assisted so graciously and unselfishly in making the gathering at this place on Sept. 29, 30, and Oct. 1 such a profitable one for our spiritual growth and upbuilding) fully understand this side the second vail what a deep spirit of gratitude and love fills our hearts for you. In every possible respect has the convention passed beyond our greatest hopes, and to whom but our very present Lord can we ascribe such unmistakeable direction in even the minutest detail? To him and the glorious Father be all the praise and glory, yet we forget not to thank him for the humble, loving instrument he has used of late years, so effectually to dispense and serve present truth to the balance of the household of faith. May the Lord continue to keep and richly bless you as that faithful servant. With much love,
E. W. BRENNEISEN,--Dallas, Texas.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I find that I am a little behind with my contribution for the WATCH TOWER. I beg to enclose postal order which will pay for another year. How thankful I have been since my spiritual eyes were opened to see the grand and glorious truths that the Lord's people were promised through his Word. The Bible to me has had a greater charm and is quite a new book. How true it is that many of the things were so difficult to understand, but we had faith in God, that he was too wise to err and too good to be unkind. Hence we used to say, "Why, in God's good time all will be cleared and made right;" we forgot the fact that they were for a good and wise end.
I was, so to speak, cradled in Methodism, having been carried by a dear Father, who passed away some sixteen years ago, to Sunday school and more or less was always connected with School and Church. I had a splendid class of young women, which to leave was a sore task for me, but I found that it was impossible for me to continue teaching and speaking about things which were quite contrary to the Word of God. After leaving the School I had the Super- and vice Superintendent to visit me. I told them I could no longer continue. They thought I was doing wrong. The glorious truths which are rich to me were as foolishness to them. But oh! how they forget, or do not know, that Satan is blinding their eyes to the truth: One of the many questions I got is this one, "How is it that you have just found it out, and how is it that so few believe it? Have you, as the Word of God has told us, searched the Scriptures and proved all things? Are you not content to take what our ministers and teachers give us?" I find it very difficult to make much impression in our place, full of prejudice and blindness, tho I am happy to say I have an opportunity to spread the grand truth, having a wide connection in business; I am able to converse with many Christian travelers who come here; some listen with great interest. I have given many DAWNS and also many tracts, and I am hoping and trusting that some may be led into the light and liberty of God's dear children. Thank God for all his blessings.
Yours in Christ, HENRY BELL,--England.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--In renewing my subscription for ZION'S WATCH TOWER for another year I would like to give expression to some of the feelings of gratitude which I have in my heart toward you, for the great work you are doing in said journal re the preparing of the little flock and getting ready the bride for the Bridegroom. I have received great and, I trust, lasting good from the reading of the TOWER. At times I have difficulties, but I find the sure way to get them answered is simply to wait, and not to trouble you with them, for you are sure to be discussing within a few weeks the very questions I am desirous of asking. In fact, speaking personally, I could ill afford to be without the helpful influence and practical lessons which are to be found in every issue of the TOWER. Any thing which helps us to walk closer to the Master, and enables us to abandon ourselves more entirely into the hands of our loving Father, must be coming from that same source. And I wish also to specially thank you for what some brother called a pleasant surprise, in other words, for the visit of a Pilgrim and Mrs. Henninges to this far away Scotland. It will take a more eloquent pen than mine to describe the blessed times we had together, listening to the good news as proclaimed by Brother Henninges. Please send them back soon, and earn some more of the gratitude of one along the narrow way which is ever getting narrower. But he giveth more grace.
Yours in Christ, JOHN THOMPSON,--Scotland.