ZWT - 1916 - R5821 thru R6024 / R5905 (161) - June 1, 1916
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VOL. XXXVII. JUNE 1 No. 11
A.D. 1916--A.M. 6044
Training Our Affections Heavenward . . 163
Setting Affections Above a Gradual Work 164
"The King in His Beauty" (Poem) . . . 165
The Philippian Jailer . . . . . 166
A Well-Timed Earthquake . . . . 167
Finally, Brethren, Think! . . . . 168
The Power of Thought . . . . . 169
Questions for Self-Examination. . . 169
Scope of the Abrahamic Covenant . . . 169
Harvest Gatherings and Siftings . . . 170
Sketch of Development of Present Truth. 170
First Faint Gleam of God's Plan . . 170
Chronology Seen to Be Valuable . . 171
An Important Discovery . . . . 171
The Beginning of the Harvest Work . . 171
Denying the Ransom . . . . . 172
"The Watch Tower" Begun . . . . 172
"Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices" 173
Further Light on the Scriptures . . 174
Doth This Offend You? . . . . . 175
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
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A POPULAR BOOKLET ON HELL
No booklet of ours is so much in demand as the one entitled, WHAT SAY THE SCRIPTURES ABOUT HELL? We have these in good supply at 5c each. By the dozen, in booklet, 50c; in TOWER form, 40c per doz., 25 for 75c, $2 per hundred, postpaid.
BROTHER RUSSELL AT THE TEMPLE
Answering many inquiries, we announce that Brother Russell endeavors to serve at the New York City Temple on the first Sunday of each month. In the forenoon of such days there is a baptism, with every provision for those finding it convenient to be immersed at that time.
WHEN ordering books, etc., please consult November 1st WATCH TOWER for price.
BETHEL HYMNS FOR JULY
After the close of the hymn the bethel family listens to the reading of "My Vow Unto the Lord," then joins in prayer. At the breakfast table the MANNA text is considered. Hymns for July follow: (1) 20; (2) 60; (3) 257; (4) 293; (5) 85; (6) 324; (7) 119; (8) 267; (9) 46; (10) 130; (11) 91; (12) 105; (13) 455; (14) 28; (15) 285; (16) 72; (17) VOW; (18) 218; (19) 272; (20) 160 (21) 213; (22) 98; (23) 172; (24) 260; (25) 325; (26) 165; (27) 183; (28) 130; (29) 19; (30) 57; (31) 281.
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TRAINING OUR AFFECTIONS HEAVENWARD
"Set your affection on things Above, not on things on the earth."--`Colossians 3:2`.
IN THE natural make-up of humanity there is a certain tendency which we all recognize as a sort of mental sacrilege, although we are unable to philosophize upon it or to explain it. So surely as we are men and women we have certain impulses of affection, certain powers that go out toward other creatures, other things; and it is very important that we see where they are tending; otherwise they will lead to idolatry. Just as the little tendrils of a vine will take hold of whatever is within reach, so our affections go out to various earthly objects; and they need to be pruned and trained, just as a vine needs to be. When you desire to have your vine grow a certain way, you turn it in the proper direction, tie it if need be, and see that its tendrils take hold of the proper supports.
VARIOUS WORLDLY OBJECTS OF AFFECTION
Thus it is with each of us. These affections are proper, they are good; but they need guiding, training. If we did not have these affections, we could not love God. We must have them in order to a proper balance of character. Without them we could not hold together. The need for their proper guidance is manifest when we see some lady setting her affections on a little dog, giving it much time, care, choice food, etc. Some of the wealthy set their affections on poodle dogs, bull dogs, bird dogs or Angora cats. Some make pets of Canary birds, rabbits, white mice, etc. They spend upon those pets much valuable time, thought and care that might be much better spent in other ways--often treating them as if they
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were children, and lavishing as much affection upon them as if they were human. Some do the same with flowers.
Although we believe in having a very kindly feeling toward dumb animals, and although we greatly admire flowers, yet we hold that as the Lord's people we should not treat any of these as if they were human beings, nor set our affections upon them to our injury and the neglect of much more important things. There are plenty of children to care for; and we should not put flowers, dogs and toys in place of them. Although it is very proper for us to think how good is our Heavenly Father to give us all these things for pleasure, yet we should be on guard that we do not set our affections upon them and give them too large a place in our hearts. Where people do this, something valuable has been lost in their lives. If they are grown people, perhaps it would have been better if they had had children, rather than to set their love upon dogs and cats, and to waste precious time upon them.
As we look out upon the world of mankind, we see that some are much better balanced than others. We sympathize with the world; for most of them do not know the Lord. They are not Christians. Very many of them have poor, meager lives with little to fill their hearts and to brighten and enlarge their mental horizon. Many who spend little or no time upon pets, set their affections and thoughts upon a home. It is a great pleasure to them to be able to say, "I have a good home of my own." This longing for home is a natural craving of our beings. Phrenologists call this natural trait, inhabitiveness--love of habitation. But we are not to permit our affections to center even here. As children of God we should have far higher aspirations than the world has.
Many set their hearts upon having a large bank account. We have known people whose minds are so unbalanced that they would do almost anything to secure a good bank account. And when this is gained, they still are not satisfied. They continue to grasp after more, often resorting to very questionable or very dishonest methods to gain their ends. Such people are mentally and morally deranged. But we are to remember that the human family in their fallen condition are all more or less deranged. Only a thorough and radical course of treatment can remove the difficulty. The Lord alone can cure the malady that affects the entire human race.
LEGITIMATE AFFECTIONS LIABLE TO PERVERSION
There are still higher affections than those we have named which are also dangerous unless properly trained and guided. These are the affections of man for woman, woman for man, man for man, woman for woman, etc. All this is proper, of course, but we are to avoid inordinate affections, and are to have only that which is ordinary-- that is, reasonable, proper. We are to beware of going to extremes. In His Word God has given us the proper outlines of conduct for His children; and we can know these only when we study His directions. Otherwise we are sure to take a wrong course. "Set not your affection on things on the earth."
It is God's arrangement that even husbands and wives should not set their affections too much upon each other. Thus the Apostle Paul enjoins, "The time is short; it remaineth that they that have wives be as though they had none." (`1 Corinthians 7:29`.) The intimation seems to be that we should not reckon our earthly relationships as being the highest and best of all things. It is a great thing to have each other's support in the trials and difficulties
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of life. We are not wishing to say anything to weaken this blessed bond. But it should be held in accordance with knowledge of and in harmony with God's Word. It should not be permitted to be in any wise a hindrance to our running the Heavenly race successfully. It should not become an earth-born cloud to veil from us the Father's face and approval.
By natural tendency we would all be inclined to go wrong; therefore we need to give careful heed to the admonition to set our affection on things Above. Let each of us look around carefully and sweep before our own doors. We are not here simply to have a good time. We are here for the purpose of learning certain principles, certain lessons that the Lord would have us learn, so that we may more than ever shape our lives in harmony therewith, that we may be able to see all the things of life from God's viewpoint. God's Word does not go into every detail of life; but it lays down important principles that touch our lives at every point; and it is for us to learn more and more how to apply these principles, to see what we need to restrain, what we need to cultivate, etc. The Lord wishes us to be intelligent children.
Those who come into harmony with the mind of the Lord have that wisdom from Above, which is first pure, then peaceable, easy of entreatment, full of mercy and good fruits. (`James 3:17`.) Each of us should scrutinize the affairs of his own life and observe whether to any extent he is setting his affections upon earthly objects or things, even upon things which are in themselves right and proper. One cannot love his wife too much, unless he permits her to come into the Lord's place in his heart. If he should love her so much that he would please her rather than the Lord, then he is doing wrong. God must be first. Everything must be subordinate. Everything should be brought into line with this: GOD FIRST--His will, His Plan, His ways.
As husbands and wives, kindred and friends, there is a certain degree of love that is in full harmony with the Heavenly love, the Father's will; and there are other affections or degrees of affection that are not in accordance therewith. Beware of these latter. Every one is imperfect, and each has tendencies whereby he might be led astray. Our great Adversary goeth about seeking whom he may devour. If he could, he would be glad to devour us. The better Christian one is, the better the Adversary would like to get hold of him.
To be a child of God does not mean that we shall be free from all earth-born tendencies. The Apostle points out that there is a continual fight of the New Creature against the old. (`Galatians 5:17`.) The Heavenly impulses, tendencies and aspirations need to be fought for; they must be carefully and continually cultivated. Not only must our affections be torn from their earthly props, to which they naturally cling, but they must be trained Heavenward, and be held there by the cords of love and devotion to God. Do not let them gravitate again earthward. There are many things on this earth that are attractive, that are beautiful; but we need not set our hearts upon them. We may see them and admire them; but we must go right along the narrow way. Our hearts are only just so large; and if we fill them with flowers or pets or earthly ambitions or affections, how can there be room for the infinitely more important and beautiful things?
FRUITS, NOT CHIPS, SHOULD FILL OUR MENTAL BASKETS
We all remember the familiar story of the boy who was very fond of reading novels, and whose father wished to impress a valuable lesson upon his mind. One day he said to his son, "John, empty that basket of apples in the corner; then go and fill the basket with chips." The boy did so, and brought in the basket filled with chips. "Now," said the father, "put all the apples also into the basket." The surprised boy said, "Father, I cannot put the apples in while the chips are there." "No," said the father, and your mind is just like that basket. It can hold only so much; and if you fill it with chips, there will be no room for other and better things."
This was a wise father; he gave his son a good suggestion. You and I, as New Creatures in Christ Jesus, should fill our minds with the glorious Heavenly things-- the Heavenly hopes, the Heavenly ambitions, the Heavenly affections. All these earthly things are but as chips in comparison. The mind and the heart filled with chips cannot contain the fruits of the Spirit. If we fill our baskets with the Heavenly loves and joys, the spiritual treasures, we shall have that which is transcendently above any earthly love and joy.
Beware of earthly, spurious love; for it will be a hindrance to the Heavenly love. The two should not be confused and mixed. The unselfish natural love, which is an element of perfect human nature, will not, if kept in subservience to the Heavenly, interfere with our spiritual interests. The one does not infract or destroy the other. There should be a natural love for husband, wife, children, parents, and the Lord would have this continue; but He would have it in full subjection to the Heavenly things. Here, also, God should be first.
SETTING AFFECTIONS ABOVE A GRADUAL WORK
In our text the Apostle is addressing Christians, the class who are day by day training their affections Heavenward. This matter of setting the affections on Heavenly things, however, is something that must be repeated, persevered in; for the affections are inclined to slip off. We have nothing but our old brains with which to do our thinking, and these brains have tendencies toward the flesh. Therefore the necessity arises for a repeated and continual setting of the affections on the things Above, until they become securely fastened there, fixed, established. Heaven is to be our eternal Home, not the earth, not the fleshly condition. All the precious promises center Above. Christ our beloved King is there. We are being prepared to enter soon into Heaven itself, the condition beyond the veil. The glories of the Holiest of all are now ours by faith; and they will soon be ours in reality if we hold fast and continue faithful to our covenant with God.
The Lord has now through His promises given us a foretaste of the good things to come. We have "the earnest of the Spirit." It is like the paying down of a hundred
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dollars to secure the purchase of a house. The balance remains due, and the buyer does not get the property until this balance is paid. But the earnest money holds the place for him until the full payment is made. By giving us His Holy Spirit God binds the contract into which we have entered with Him. In giving us this advance payment the Lord says, "Now prove to Me how faithfully you will keep your part of the Covenant into which we have entered. You keep your part, and I will keep Mine." "Faithful is He that calleth us, who also will do it." The only question is whether we shall do our part faithfully; for God will surely do His part.
CAREFUL PREPARATION OF THE BRIDAL GARMENTS
When we ponder on earthly things we see that they are not worthy to be compared with the Heavenly things.
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But there is danger of spending consecrated time on things that are of less value even than flowers, etc. How much time do you think you should spend in reading the newspapers? How much does this enable you to set your affections on the things above? Each of us is responsible to the Lord for how he uses every moment of his time-- God's time. We are not here condemning the reading of important world-news which bears upon the fulfilment of Scripture prophecy. It is not wrong for us to keep in touch with the progress of the great war, for instance, in so far as it is related to the incoming Kingdom. But we do not need to read much to find out what is necessary.
Doubtless if Jesus were here in the flesh now, He would be interested in noting how the world conditions are fulfilling the testimony of the Scriptures. He told us to watch for these fulfilments and to lift up our heads when we saw them coming to pass. But how can we lift up our heads if we do not see them coming to pass? And how can we see them if we do not read that which will give us this necessary information? But we are not to read for entertainment, nor are we to read what is unprofitable to us as New Creatures.
So then, dear brethren and sisters, we see the course we are to pursue. We are to be the Bride of Jehovah's great Son. Therefore we must be very diligent to get everything in readiness for the approaching marriage. When we consider the preparations which an earthly bride makes for her nuptials, we have a good illustration of how important it is for us to have our garments all prepared, our robes spotless, our embroidery-work all completed beforehand. You and I are privileged to have a most important part in the greatest, grandest wedding ever held. Therefore we should be ready. We who were by nature children of wrath even as others, are now privileged to be cleansed from all defilement by the precious blood of Christ. Daily also we are to wash with the water of the Word. We are to be purified from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and be fitted to become the Bride of our Heavenly King.
This preparation means a continuous work as long as we sojourn in the mortal body. God's great Program has been so arranged as to demonstrate who will be fit to constitute the Bride of His Son. This decision in our case will depend on our diligence in making ourselves ready. If we attend to this most important work properly, we shall have no time to fritter away. We shall have little time for anything else than this one thing. But the proper making of ourselves ready means the helping of others as we have opportunity, especially the brethren who are walking this same Heavenly way with us. We are to lay down our lives for the brethren. This is an important part of our preparation. We are to build up ourselves and also the brethren in the most holy faith.
We hope, then, dear friends, that we are getting ready for the marriage of the Lamb, for our marriage to the Lamb. Something that we may do or fail to do today may have a bearing upon our final readiness. Our minds are the foundation for everything in this matter. The Lord knows that we have imperfect bodies. So the testing will not be as to whether our bodies are perfect, but whether our hearts are perfect. If our heart is perfect before God, we shall bring our words, our actions and our thoughts into harmony with the Law of Love to the extent of our ability. If we see to it that we keep our hearts thus loyal, we shall become more and more a copy of God's dear Son, our Heavenly Bridegroom; and we shall enter in due time with exceeding joy into our "house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens." Then our Lord will present us before the Father--the "Bride adorned for her Husband"; He will present us with exceeding joy, BLAMELESS.
Oh, the blessedness of this thought! Can we be blameless? If we reach the Kingdom, dear brethren, we shall indeed be blameless! Meantime, our characters are to be blameless here. God would never blame us for things we could not help, but only for the things we could help; and He has made an arrangement whereby if we have made mistakes we can go to the Fountain of cleansing. If we strive to do our best, and if we go daily, or oftener if necessary, to the Mercy Seat for pardon and cleansing, we shall be spotless in the Father's sight; and in His own due time He will give us perfect bodies like our Lord's. Then we shall be perfect in the most absolute sense.
So long as we stay in the imperfect flesh we shall need the Throne of Heavenly Grace. We shall need mercy and assistance from the Lord every day. If we are faithful at heart, our mistakes will help us to be more watchful, more positive, than before. The Lord so arranges His providence as to teach us the necessary lessons. As we grow in the Divine likeness, we shall more and more come to love as God and Christ love--to love character, to love the principles of righteousness. We have never seen God or Christ with our physical eyes, yet we love them above all else. (`1 Peter 1:8`.) We have never seen the Apostle Paul, or the Apostle John, yet we love them; for we know their characters are lovable and worthy of admiration. We love the personality which shines from their writings, the beauty of their spirit. We love St. Paul because he counted all things but loss and dross that he might win Christ and be found in Him. We are to love whatever is good and noble and worthy, and in proportion as it is so.
What do we love in each other? Is it the shape of the head, the symmetry of the features, the cut or style of the clothing? Oh, no! We love one another in proportion as we see the Master's likeness in each other. If one is much like Jesus, we love such a one all the more. This is the Heavenly, the spiritual love. This is the kind of love which we are to cultivate day by day. All other affections are to be entirely secondary. Let our love and esteem be for the things that are highly esteemed in the sight of God; let these be more beautiful to us than all else, that we may become like unto our Father in Heaven.
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"THE KING IN HIS BEAUTY"
"Thine eyes shall see the King! The very same
Whose love shone forth upon the curseful tree,
Who bore thy guilt, who calleth thee by name;
Thine eyes shall see!
"Thine eyes shall see the King! The Mighty One,
The Many-crowned, the Light-enrobed; and He
Shall bid thee share the Kingdom He hath won;
Thine eyes shall see!
"And in His beauty! Stay thee, mortal song,
The 'altogether lovely' One must be
Unspeakable in glory--yet ere long
Thine eyes shall see!
"Yes! though the land be 'very far' away,
A step, a moment, ends the toil for thee;
Then changing grief for gladness, night for day,
Thine eyes shall see!"
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THE PHILIPPIAN JAILER
--JUNE 18.--`ACTS 16:16-40`.--
AN EXPERIENCE WITH EVIL SPIRITS--SAD CONDITION OF A SLAVE GIRL--HER ENRAGED OWNERS REVENGE THEMSELVES ON ST. PAUL AND SILAS--IGNORING THE FACTS IN THE CASE, THEY RAISED FALSE CHARGES--THE MISSIONARIES BEATEN AND IMPRISONED--SINGING PRAISES TO GOD UNDER ADVERSE CONDITIONS--A WELL-TIMED EARTHQUAKE-- JAILER CONVERTED--THE MAGISTRATES, AFTER LEARNING THE TRUTH REGARDING THE PRISONERS, MADE AMENDS.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."--`Verse 31`.
WHILE the missionaries were day by day passing from Lydia's home to the place of worship, outside of the city gate, they were met repeatedly by a young woman known in Philippi as a Pythoness, or Sibyl--a fortune-teller. She was a slave girl possessed by an evil spirit--one of the fallen angels--the spirit working through her, divining, or giving intelligence of lost articles, telling fortunes, foretelling future events, etc. She was evidently well known to all the people; and the exercise of her profession brought large income to a joint-stock company that owned her--apparently a syndicate of influential men.
For several days, as the missionaries went to and from
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the home of Lydia, attending to the Lord's work, this slave girl followed them, shouting, "These be the servants of the Most High God, which show unto us the way of salvation!" Of course, the girl did not know St. Paul and his companions; but the evil spirits did. To what extent they had forecast the results we may not know definitely, but quite possibly what occurred was what they had premeditated; namely, that the Apostle would cast out the evil spirit, and that this would bring upon the missionaries and their converts a violent attack from the owners of the girl and their friends, and all whom they could arouse to a frenzy of excitement, of wrath and of rioting.
It is also possible that the evil spirit may simply have told the truth without considering the possibility that the Apostle might command it to come out of the woman-- perhaps supposing that he would be rather pleased with a testimony from any quarter. But we read that St. Paul was grieved as day after day this testimony was given-- not that he was grieved that a testimony was made regarding the Truth, but that it should come from such a source; for he knew that the evil spirit would have no respect for the Truth. Any of the fallen angels who would have respect for God and for the principles of righteousness would not seek to obsess humanity when they knew that such obsession would be to their injury and contrary to the Divine will.
Some teachers will probably suggest that this woman had hysteria, or that she was somewhat demented. But either thought is out of accord with the facts in the case as Scripturally set forth, and is quite contrary to the words of the Apostle. St. Paul said not a word to the young woman, assuming that she was not accountable. He addressed the evil spirit as such, and in the name of Jesus commanded it to come out of the woman--just as our Lord and the Apostles under His instruction had frequently cast out these evil spirits.--`Mark 5:1-17`; `Matthew 10:1`; `Luke 10:17`, etc.
THE REVENGE OF THE SYNDICATE
Just as the owners of the swine were angry with our Lord because of the loss of their swine when the legions of demons cast out of the man had entered into the animals, so it was with the owners of the slave girl. We can imagine what consternation was aroused amongst them when they found not only that their source of gain for the future was gone, but that the large sum of money invested in this girl was lost; for such spirit-possessed slaves had a high market value. They became desperately angry. Nothing will so greatly move men as love or selfishness; and under present conditions selfishness moves the vast majority with intense power. The syndicate had no hope of getting the evil spirit back into the slave; and so they must have revenge upon those who had brought financial loss to them.
There is much of this spirit abroad in the world today. As long as the Truth and the Lord's servants quietly go their way, the world will generally be too busy with its own affairs to molest them. But as soon as any perceive that truth and righteousness are inimical to their interests and prospects, their opposition becomes intense. But we do not consider it to be the chief business of the Lord's people to stir up the animosity of the world and thus to bring persecution upon themselves. As a rule it is best that we leave the world to watch its own affairs, while we preach the Gospel, not using it as a sledge-hammer to break men's hearts, but as the Message of joy, peace, love and blessing to those whose hearts, under Divine providence, have already been broken, and who have ears to hear the Message of the Grace of God.
Very generally the Apostles pursued as smooth a course as principle would permit; and in this instance St. Paul very evidently acted under special guidance of the Lord. The Apostle's general instruction to the Church is, "As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (`Romans 12:18`.) The thought is, Do not go out of your way to stir up trouble; but if the Lord in His providence permits trouble to arise, be courageous and full of faith in Him who has permitted it, that He will overrule it for good and to our ultimate benefit.
Evidently the owners of the Pythoness had influence; for they succeeded quickly in arousing a mob determined to have revenge upon St. Paul and Silas. The two missionaries were carried before the rulers at the market place. There the syndicate ignored the truth of the matter and raised spurious charges, claiming that the prisoners were teaching a religion contrary to the laws of Rome, and thus likely to raise sedition. This was contrary to the truth; for the Lord's servants went, according to law, outside of the city gates for their worship.
However, under the circumstances, the false charge was sufficient to bring down upon the Lord's representatives the severest penalties which their judges could inflict. The magistrates, who held office especially for the preventing of rioting and for preserving order, were greatly excited and rent their garments as an indication of their distress and dissatisfaction that such a disturbance should be brought to their city. The thought was that the men against whom the populace would thus rise up must be guilty of something and thus deserving of punishment. They knew not that the evil spirits had to do with the arousing of the riot. As St. Paul elsewhere expressed it, "We contend not with flesh and blood [merely], but with wicked spirits in influential positions."
THE MISSIONARIES IMPRISONED
To satisfy the mob and to restore peace quickly, the magistrates ordered the missionaries to be beaten, presumably with rods, and then committed them to prison. Alas, what a reward for missionary effort! What a recompense for sacrificing their lives for the Lord and the Truth--that these noble men should be evil-spoken of, evil-thought of and evilly treated!
Let us remember that the God who changes not is our
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God, and that He has supervision of the interests of the Church today as then. Let us remember that He requires of us today, as of those missionaries of old, that we be willing to represent Him, willing to endure hardness and thus to make full proof of our ministry--of our service for Christ and His Message. Would it require faith on the part of the missionaries to accept such experiences as providential and not to think of these as evidences of the Lord's disfavor or neglect? So must we learn similar lessons of faith in the School of Christ, and be glad to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and the Apostles. We must learn to rejoice in tribulations as in prosperity.
The prison was constructed with outer cells, more or less accessible to the light and to air, and with an inner or central dungeon for the most vicious criminals. It was into this inner prison that St. Paul and Silas were thrust, and their feet made fast in the stocks. It was under these unfavorable circumstances, with their backs raw and bleeding from the scourging, that these faithful brethren were so filled with the spirit of rejoicing that they gave vent to their feelings in hymns of thankfulness for the privilege of suffering in connection with the Lord's work and of enduring tribulations for righteousness' sake.
We can readily see that nothing less than a strong, living faith in God enabled these two missionaries to feel that their adversities endured for the sake of the Gospel meant to them the Divine approval, if rightly received. They realized that their trying experiences were but "light afflictions" which, under Divine providence, would work out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Only this enabled these mistreated men to triumph in their hour of distress and to praise God for the privilege of suffering as members of the Body of Christ, filling up a share of the sufferings of Christ in order that by and by they might also share His glory as members of His Body--members of the great antitypical Moses, the Mediator of the New Covenant.--`Col. 1:24`; `Acts 3:22`.
These things were written for our instruction, that we, beholding the faithfulness of others, might be encouraged. Our covenant is the same as theirs, and theirs was the same as our Lord's; for the sufferings of Christ are one, however varied in character, and the glories to follow will be one, although the sharers will differ as star differeth from star in glory. The greater the sufferings endured faithfully, uncomplainingly, rejoicingly, the greater will be the reward in the Kingdom of our Father and of our Lord and Savior.
A WELL-TIMED EARTHQUAKE
Whilst the missionaries were singing, an earthquake shock was experienced which jarred the walls, loosed the staples of the chains wherewith they were bound, and released the bars whereby their prison doors were held in place. The jailer, finding the doors open, supposed that the prisoners had escaped. Knowing that he would be held responsible, he drew his sword and was about to commit suicide, when St. Paul called to him and said, "Do thyself no harm. We are all here."
By this time the jailer was fully convinced that the missionaries committed to his care were remarkable men --not ordinary criminals. Possibly, indeed, he had some knowledge of demonism and obsession, and had heard that by word of mouth one of these men had spoiled a supposedly Divine oracle, by exercising some superior power. At all events he was now ready to care for these prisoners and to hear the Message of the Love of God.
Presumably he first made the prison secure, the while thinking over these matters, and then brought the missionaries into his own living quarters in the prison. He attended to their comfort, and meantime heard from them something respecting their mission-respecting Jesus the Messiah and His death as the world's Redeemer. The jailer was convicted of sin. He realized in a general way at least that all mankind are sinners, aliens, separated from God by wicked works. He longed for a realization of forgiveness of his own sins and for a reconciliation with his Creator; and he perceived that these missionaries could help him. Hence he inquired, "What must I do to be saved?" What must I do to come into relationship with God, that I, like you, might be able to realize His loving care in all of my affairs; that I, like you, might be able to glory in tribulation and to realize that under Divine providence all things will work together for my good now and hereafter?
The answer came promptly: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." Taking this statement as a text, the missionaries explained to the jailer and his household some of the philosophy of the Divine Plan of Atonement--the death of Jesus, the Just for the unjust; the blessing that in due time is to reach Adam and his race through the resurrection processes and the privilege now of hearing and accepting the Divine call to joint-heirship with Jesus as His "members" in the sufferings of the present and in the glory to follow.
THE JAILER CONVERTED
The Truth-seed sank into good soil. Those present believed and gratefully accepted the privilege of discipleship --to suffer for Christ's sake. Forthwith they were baptized, thus symbolizing their death to the world, to sin and to self, and their desire to walk in newness of life as members of The Christ. How the missionaries must have realized that they were as providentially directed to the jail by the injustice of the magistrate as they had been previously guided to the riverside prayer meeting! Thus their faith was strengthened. They were willing to endure hardness with patience and joy for the sake of the great privilege of carrying the Good Tidings to others.
According to some standards it was now high time for these missionaries to strike for an increase of salary and a parsonage, and especially to strike against any further persecution, and to tell the Lord that they had had enough along the lines of self-sacrifice. But the effect was just the opposite. They were the more encouraged to go on, to endure still further sufferings.
As followers of Jesus, we must see to it that our experiences tally with those of the Master and His Apostles. We must neither look for any other kind of experiences nor be satisfied unless we find opportunities of suffering for the Truth's sake. We may be assured that, although times are somewhat changed, our Lord was quite right when He declared through His Apostle, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (`2 Timothy 3:12`.) It may be in his own home and family or in the Church or from the world; for if he is faithful in letting his light shine he will not escape.
If, therefore, any one of the Lord's people is escaping persecution, he should feel fearful of his condition and should make careful examination as to whether he is faithful to all the privileges and opportunities that he can find. This does not mean, however, that we should seek persecution in the sense of doing foolish things or of doing proper things in a foolish manner. But it does mean that we should not shrink from the responsibility of proper conduct because of fear of consequences. Fear is one of the most subtle foes of the people of God. It should be offset by trust, by faith in God.
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COMPANIONS IN SUFFERING
The record declares that St. Paul alone rebuked the evil spirit. Thus he alone was responsible for the tumult which led to the imprisonment of himself and Silas. We can readily perceive how Silas might improperly have taken a course in opposition. He might have publicly reprimanded St. Paul, and at least partially have joined with the multitude and thus have escaped arrest, beating and imprisonment. We are glad that it was not so with Silas, that he was a worthy companion to the noble St. Paul. He recognized that the Lord's blessing was upon the Apostle, and that St. Paul was being especially used of the Lord, and that therefore whatever experiences came to them the Lord was both able and willing to overrule for their good.
Thus Silas was privileged to share in the beating, in the songs and in the conversion of the jailer. Surely it brings a great blessing to have faith in the Lord, and to be obedient to Divine providences rather than to be too worldly-wise, too cautious and self-seeking. In `Hebrews 10:32,33`, the Apostle mentions some who "endured a great fight of afflictions," and some who were merely their companions in the shame without experiencing the same losses. He points out that God appreciates faithfulness in either of these respects and will duly give a reward. Let us be faithful to the Lord--followers of His leading and sharers of His blessings.
THE PLIGHT OF THE MAGISTRATES
The next morning the rulers, having learned something of the circumstances of the preceding night, ordered the release of the missionaries. Evidently they realized that they had no just cause against St. Paul and Silas. The beating and the imprisonment of the two were merely to satisfy the public clamor--just as when Pilate similarly commanded that our Lord be beaten, not as a satisfaction of justice, but to appease the anger of the multitude. But St. Paul had not been a lawyer for nothing. The night before, he had probably attempted to tell the rulers that he and Silas were Roman citizens and had the right to demand a fair trial before receiving any kind of punishment. But the clamor of the mob was probably so great that their protests were unheard.
When the order for their release reached the prison, the missionaries sent word to the rulers that they were Roman citizens; and that Roman law had been violated in three particulars in their case; (1) They had been beaten; (2) This had been done publicly; (3) This was reprehensible in that they had not been legally condemned.
ST. PAUL'S SOUNDNESS OF MIND
These charges against the rulers might have gone hard against them. Hence it is not to be wondered at that they came to the prison, as the Apostle requested, and brought the missionaries forth publicly, thus giving evidence to the people that they conceded that an injustice had been done on the previous night. This would avoid leaving a reproach upon the faith at Philippi. The public could not say to the disciples, "Your teachers were tried and expelled from this city, and forbidden to return."
On the other hand, notice the spirit of compromise. St. Paul and Silas did not insist on going forth to preach in public, and demand that they be given legal protection in the exercise of their liberties. On the contrary, they concluded that they had accomplished all in their power, and that God's providence was now directing them elsewhere. They acted upon the Master's counsel, "When they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another."
Thus a peaceful compromise was effected, by which the magistrates were relieved from further difficulty and the missionaries were honorably led forth as men who had done nothing amiss, but who had concluded that in the interests of peace they would quit the city, although their rights as Roman citizens would have permitted them to remain. Some of the Lord's people make the mistake of not sufficiently insisting on their rights; and others err in the opposite way of insisting too much for their earthly rights. Here in St. Paul's case we find illustrated the proper course--"the spirit of a sound mind." He insisted upon such of his rights as were reasonable and necessary for the Lord's Cause; but he freely relinquished other rights in the interest of peace, in harmony with his covenant of sacrifice and with the Scriptures.
Before separating the missionaries returned to the home of Lydia, where they met the brethren and comforted them. What they said for the comfort of the brethren is not difficult to imagine. They surely recounted the joy which they had experienced in suffering for Christ's sake and told how the Lord had overruled their trials, difficulties, sufferings and imprisonment for good, that thereby the jailer and his family were added to the number of brethren.
Whoever has read the New Testament properly has surely noticed the spirit of brotherhood therein recorded as prevalent amongst those accepted of the Lord as members of the Household of Faith. And whoever intelligently comes into contact with those who are now rejoicing in the Present Truth must surely note the same spirit of brotherhood in a remarkable degree.
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FINALLY, BRETHREN, THINK!
--JUNE 25.--QUARTERLY REVIEW--
THE POWER OF THE MIND, THE WILL--AS A MAN THINKETH, SO IS HE--THE POWER OF EVIL THOUGHTS--THE POWER OF GOOD THOUGHTS--THINK OF PURE THINGS--NOT EARTHLY THINGS --OF THINGS OF GOOD REPORT--OF THINGS OF VALUE--OF PRAISEWORTHY THINGS--EACH RESPONSIBLE FOR CARE OF HIS OWN MIND.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."--`Philippians 4:8`.
COMPARATIVELY few, even of educated and scientific people, seem to appreciate the great power of the mind and its potent influence upon all the affairs of our lives. Few mothers realize that their very thoughts have to do with the molding of their unborn children --giving them either helpful or injurious dispositions. Few fathers realize this, or seek to cooperate with their wives in the bringing forth of noble children--by stirring up the minds of their wives during pregnancy with noble thoughts, elevating ambitions, high ideals, with things of beauty, grace, art, purity, reverence, spirituality. When people come to know the power of the mother's mind for good or for evil toward the children, it will undoubtedly work a radical change in many homes; for it is our conviction that the majority of people would rather do right than do wrong, and that one of their chief difficulties and stumbling blocks is ignorance.
But while interested in mankind in general, we are never to forget that the Bible is addressed to the children of God, who have entered into a special covenant with
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Him through the Lord Jesus Christ, and who have become New Creatures through the begetting power of the Holy Spirit. The world will be taught and developed during the Millennium. But now, in the present life, the only opportunity for development is on the part of those who have received the begetting of the Holy Spirit, and whose great and only hope is a perfecting on the spirit plane in the Resurrection of the Just. As much, therefore, as we feel interested in the world, it is the Christian's duty to follow the example of the Lord and to be interested especially in his fellows, his brethren in Christ.
THE POWER OF THOUGHT
The Apostle's exhortation may be taken as a personal one by every Christian, and also as a general exhortation to the whole Church--that they seek to build one another up in the most holy faith and along the lines indicated in our Golden Text.
Each individual is responsible for the care of his own mind. In becoming Christians we gave our wills to the Lord, agreeing that henceforth we would not follow the dictates of our wills; but that, ignoring these, we would follow the guidance of the Lord's will. It was on this condition that the Lord received us into His family; and any failure to follow these terms is contrary to our covenant. The Lord through His Word gives us the necessary instructions as to what His will is; and these messages, received into good and honest hearts, bring forth fruitage of obedience, and this leads on to the development of the fruits of the spirit.
"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Many Christians have learned to govern their actions, to refrain from carnal strife. Many have learned to control their tongues in a measure, remembering that the same tongue with which we praise God could be used in doing injury to fellow creatures, as the Apostle points out. (`James 3:1-10`.) But restraint of conduct and of word is difficult unless the mind, the will, be brought into the line with the will of God. Hence God shows us the reason for what He requires, and sets before us exceeding great and precious promises. These are intended to work in us-- to work in our minds and to work out in our words and actions the Lord's good pleasure, the Lord's will.
QUESTIONS FOR SELF-EXAMINATION
The Apostle, in our Golden Text, points out the proper course for us to take in getting control of ourselves, our thoughts, our words and our conduct. Every thought should be challenged; for if an evil thought or a selfish thought or a mean thought, a depraved thought, be admitted, it will germinate and bring forth a great defilement, which will affect our words and our conduct, and will extend to others. We may learn to do the challenging readily, even along the comprehensive lines which the Apostle lays down in this lesson. What at first may require considerable time for decision will by and by be decided almost instantly:
(1) Is the thought which is seeking consideration in our mind an honorable one? If so, it may pass in and be entertained. If not, it should be immediately resented and driven out from the mind as an evil influence.
(2) Is the thought suggested a pure one--not sensual, not selfish? If so, if it pass these examinations, it may pass on for further consideration. If by these it fails to prove its purity, it should be immediately resented as a thought likely to do great harm--as would the entrance into our home of things infected with a plague.
(3) Is the thought lovely? Does it appertain to things that are lovable? Does it excite lovable influences, or is it identified more or less with hate, resentment, anger,
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malice? If lovely, it may pass on. If not, it must be immediately expelled, not permitted to go further, to do harm to ourselves and to others.
(4) Is it reputable? This cannot mean: Is the thing well spoken of by the world? For the Apostle himself and our Lord Jesus were reviled by the world, who said all manner of evil against them falsely. The word reputable here must be taken to mean that which would be thought well of by all reputable people, if they knew and understood everything connected with the thought.
(5) Has the thought any virtue, or is it in any sense of the word praiseworthy? If so, it may be admitted. If not, it should be repelled; for even if it be blameless otherwise, the fact that it is not of any value is a reason for its rejection. We have no time and no place for things that are merely not bad. We desire to have in our hearts and our minds things that are positively good, helpful, beneficial in some way. Otherwise, the thought should be repelled as a mere cumberer of the ground of our hearts, of our minds, needed for profitable things. Much novel reading is of this character--not evil, but not advantageous, not upbuilding.
Whatever we may be naturally, the people of God who follow the instructions of the Divine Word surely become noble people, helpful people, possessed of the spirit of a sound mind; and these things will be only a part of their preparation for the Kingdom and for the great work then to be entrusted to them as the servants of God under their Redeemer and Head.
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THE SCOPE OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
Question.--Which is the greater, the Abrahamic Covenant or the New Covenant?
Answer.--The Abrahamic Covenant is an all-embracing arrangement. Everything that God has done and will yet do for our race is included in that Abrahamic Covenant. The Law Covenant of Israel was added to this Covenant "because of trangression." Although only a typical arrangement, nevertheless the Law Covenant developed a certain faithful class, to be made "princes in all the earth" during the Millennial Age. This Covenant was represented by Hagar; and her son Ishmael represented the nation of Israel. (`Galatians 4:21-31`.) The Christ, the New Creation class, was represented in Isaac, Sarah's son. Sarah, Abraham's first wife, represented that part of the Abrahamic Covenant which pertained to the Spiritual Seed, the New Creation, that which we sometimes speak of as the Sarah Covenant. This Sarah Covenant--the Grace Covenant, the Covenant of Sacrifice (`Psalm 50:5`)--brings forth the Isaac class, the Church, head and Body.
Even as Isaac was not born after the flesh in the ordinary sense (Abraham and Sarah being too old naturally), but was a special creation, so with The Christ company, the Church. This "Isaac" class is developed as a distinctly new creation, formed from members of the fallen human race. The Divine invitation to these is to present their bodies living sacrifices. They sacrifice their human nature that they may attain with their Head, the antitypical "Isaac" the Divine nature--something never before offered. After this New Creation is completed, the blessing indicated in God's Promises to Abraham will reach all the families of the earth. It will teach them, first through the "Isaac" Seed, the New Creation, and secondly, through the Ancient Worthies developed in the Ages preceding this Age, under God's typical arrangements.
All kindreds and families of the earth will be blessed
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by the privilege or opportunity to become children of Abraham, children of God, whom Abraham represented in a figure. "I have made thee a father of many nations (`Genesis 17:5`; `Romans 4:17`), said the Lord to Abraham --"In becoming thy seed shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves." These will be blessed under the New covenant, an arrangement whereby the Abrahamic Covenant will be fulfilled as relates to Israel and to all.
The Abrahamic Covenant, then, embraces all the other Covenants, those Covenants being merely different features of God's arrangements by which the work implied in the great Abrahamic Covenant or Promise is to be accomplished.
As we have elsewhere previously shown, Abraham took another wife, after the death of Sarah--Keturah. By her he had many sons and daughters. Thus the New Covenant is typed and its grand work of bringing many to life --to "the liberty of the sons of God."--`Romans 8:19,21`.
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HARVEST GATHERINGS AND SIFTINGS
MANY are the inquiries relative to the truths presented in the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES and THE WATCH TOWER, as to whence they came and how they developed to their present symmetrical and beautiful proportions. Were they the results of visions? Did God in some supernatural way grant the solution of these hitherto hidden mysteries of His Plan? Is the author of these writings more than an ordinary being? Does he claim supernatural wisdom or power? Or how comes this revelation of God's Truth?
No, dear friends; we claim nothing of superiority; nor do we aspire to exalt ourself in the estimation of our brethren of the Household of Faith, except in the sense that the Master urged it, saying, "Whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant." (`Matthew 20:27`.) Our position amongst men of the world and of the Nominal Church, is certainly far from exalted; for we are everywhere spoken against. We are fully content, however, to wait for exaltation, until the Lord's due time. (`1 Peter 5:6`.) In the words of the Apostle, we therefore answer, "Why look ye upon us, as though by our own power we had done these things?" We also are a man of like passions with yourselves, of like infirmities and frailties, earnestly striving by overcoming many besetments, discouragements, etc., to press along the line toward the Prize of our High Calling, and claiming only, as a faithful student of the Word of God, to be an index finger, as we have previously expressed it, to help you trace for yourselves upon the sacred page the wonderful Plan of God--no less wonderful to us, we assure you, than to yourselves.
No, the truths we present, were revealed in visions and dreams or by God's audible voice; nor were they revealed all at once, but gradually, especially since 1870, and particularly since 1880. This present unfolding of Truth is not due to human ingenuity or acuteness of perception, but to the simple fact that God's due time has come; and if we did not speak, and no other agent could be found, the very stones would cry out.
We give the following history, not only because we have been urged to give a review of God's leadings in the path of light, but especially because we believe it to be needful that the truth be modestly told, in order that misapprehensions and prejudicial misstatements may be disarmed, and that our readers may see all along the way the Lord has helped and guided us. In so far as the names and views of others who have parted company with us may be associated with this history, we shall endeavor to bring forward only such points as are necessary to an understanding of our position and of the Lord's leadings. Nor can we name all the little points of Divine favor to which was tested, prayers were answered, etc., remembering that our Master and the early Church left no such example of boasting faith, but admonished otherwise, saying, "Hast thou faith, have it to thyself."
We will not go back to tell how the light began to break through the clouds of prejudice and superstition which enveloped the world under Papacy's rule in the Dark Ages. The Reformation movement, or rather movements, from then until now, have done their share in bringing light out of darkness. But we will here confine ourselves to the consideration of the Harvest truths set forth in the publications of the THE WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY formerly called MILLENNIAL DAWN and ZION'S WATCH TOWER, now called STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES and THE WATCH TOWER. We begin the narrative at the year 1868, when Editor, having been a consecrated child of God for some years, and a member of the Congregational Church and of the Y.M.C.A., began to be shaken in faith regarding many long accepted doctrines.
SKETCH OF DEVELOPMENT OF PRESENT TRUTH
Brought up a Presbyterian, indoctrinated from the Catechism, and being naturally of an inquiring mind, I fell a ready prey to the logic of infidelity, as soon as I began to think for myself. But that which at first threatened to be the utter shipwreck of faith in God and the Bible, was, under God's providence, overruled for good, and merely wrecked my confidence in human creeds and systems of Bible misinterpretations.
I was led gradually to see though each of the creeds contained some elements of truth, they were, on the whole, misleading and contradictory of God's Word. Among other theories, stumbled upon Adventism. Seemingly by accident, one evening I dropped into a dusty, dingy hall in Allegheny, Pa., where I had heard that religious services were held, to see if the handful who met there had anything more sensible to offer than the creeds of the great churches. There, for the first time, I heard something of the views of Second Adventism, by Jonas Wendell, long since deceased. Thus I confess indebtedness to Adventists as well as to other denominations.
Though his Scripture exposition was not entirely clear, and though it was very far from what we now rejoice in, it was sufficient, under God, to reestablish my wavering faith in the Divine inspiration of the Bible, and to show that the records of the Apostles and the Prophets are indissolubly linked. What I heard sent me to my Bible to study with more zeal and care than ever before, and I shall ever thank the Lord for the leading; for although Adventism helped me to no single truth, it did help me greatly in the unlearning of errors, and thus prepared me for the Truth.
FIRST FAINT GLEAM OF GOD'S PLAN
I soon began to see that we were living somewhere near the close of the Gospel Age, near the time when the Lord declared that the wise, watching ones of His children should come to clear knowledge of His Plan. At this time, myself and a few other Truth seekers in Pittsburg and Allegheny, formed a class for Bible study; and the period from 1870 to 1875 was a time of constant growth in grace, in knowledge and in love of God and his Word. We came to see something of God's love, how it had made provision for all mankind, how all must be awakened from the tomb in order that God's loving Plan might be tested to them, and how all who will then exercise faith in Christ's redemptive work and will render obedience in harmony with their knowledge of God's will, might then, through Christ's merit, be brought back into full harmony with God, and be granted everlasting life. This we saw to be the Restitution work foretold in `Acts 3:21`.
But though seeing that the Church was called to jointheirship with the Lord in the Millennial Kingdom, we had up to that time failed to see clearly the great distinction between the rewards of the Church now on trial and the reward of the faithful of the world after its trial, at the close of the Millennial Age--that the reward of the former is to be the glory of the spiritual, Divine nature, while that of the latter is to be the glory of Restitution--restoration to the perfection of human nature, once enjoyed in Eden by the head of the race.
However, we were then merely getting the outlines of God's Plan and unlearning many cherished errors, the time for the clear discernment of the minutia not having fully come. And here I gratefully mention assistance rendered by Brothers George Stetson and George Storrs, the latter the Editor of The bible Examiner, both now deceased. The study of the Word of God with these dear brethren led step by step into greener pastures and brighter hopes for the world, though it was not until 1872, when I gained a clear view of our Lord's work as our Ransom-price, that I found the foundation of all hope of Restitution to lie in the doctrine.
Up to that time, when I read the testimony that all in their grave shall come forth, etc., I yet doubted the full provision--whether or not it would be understood to include idiots and infants who had died without reaching any degree of understanding, beings to whom the present life and its experiences would seem to have been of little advantage. But when in 1872 I came to examine the subject of Restitution from the standpoint of the Ransom-price given by our Lord Jesus for Adam and consequently for all lost in Adam, it settled the matter of Restitution completely, and gave me the fullest assurance that ALL must come forth from their graves and be brought to a clear knowledge of the Truth and to a full opportunity to gain everlasting life through Christ.
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Thus passed the years 1868-1872. The years following, to 1876, were years of continued growth in grace and in knowledge on the part of the handful of Bible students with whom I met in Allegheny. We progressed from our first crude and indefinite ideas of Restitution to clearer understanding of the details; but God's due time for clear light had not yet come.
During this time, too, we came to recognize the difference between our lord as "the man who gave Himself," and as the One who would come again, a spirit being. We saw that spirit beings can be present and yet invisible to men, just as we still hold and have set forth in STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol.2, Chapter 5. And we felt greatly grieved at the error of Second Adventists, who were expecting Christ in the flesh and were teaching that the world and all in it except Second Aventists would be burned up in 1873 or 1874 and whose time settings and disappointments and crude ideas generally of the object and manner of our Lord's coming brought more or less reproach upon us and upon all who longed for and proclaimed His coming Kingdom.
CHRONOLOGY SEEN TO BE VALUABLE
These wrong views so generally held of both the object and manner of Christ's Second Advent, led me to write a pamphlet: "The Object and Manner of the Lord's return," of which some 50,000 copies were published.
It was about January of 1876 that my attention was especially drawn to the subject of prophetic time, as it refers to these doctrines and hopes. It came about in this way: I received a paper called, The Herald of the Morning, sent by its Editor, Mr. N. H. Barbour. When I opened it, I at once identified it with Adventism from the picture on its cover; and I examined it with some curiosity to see what time the Adventists would next set for the burning of the world. But judge of my surprise and gratification when I learned from its contents that the Editor was beginning to get his eyes open on the subjects that for some years had so greatly rejoiced our hearts in our class in Allegheny--that the object of our Lord's Return is not to destroy, but to bless all the families of the earth: and that His Coming would be thief-like, and not in flesh, but as a spirit being, invisible to men; and that the gathering of His Church and the separation of the "wheat" from the "tares" would progress in the end of this Age without the world's being aware of it.
I rejoiced to find others coming to the same advanced position, but was astonished to find the statement very cautiously set forth, that the Editor of The Herald of the Morning believed the prophecies to indicate that the Lord was already present in the world unseen and invisible that the Harvest work of gathering the wheat and tares was already due; and that this view was warranted by the time prophecies which but a few months before he had supposed had failed.
Here was a new thought: Could it be that the time prophecies, which I had so long despised, because of their misuse by Adventists, were really meant to indicate when the Lord would be invisibly present to set up His Kingdom?-- a thing which I clearly saw could be known in no other way. It seemed, to say the least, a very reasonable thing to expect that the Lord would inform His people on the subject, especially as He had promised that the faithful should not be left in darkness with the world, and that although "the Day of the Lord" would come upon others as a thief in the night (stealthily, unawares), nevertheless it should not be so to the watchers, the earnest saints.--`1 Thessalonians 5:4`.
I recalled certain arguments used by my friend Jonas Wendell and by other Adventists to prove that 1873 would witness the burning of the world, etc.--the chronology of the world showing that the six thousand years from Adam ended with the beginning of 1873--and other arguments drawn from the Scriptures and supposed to coincide. Could it be that these time arguments, which I had passed by as unworthy of attention, contained as important truth which the Adventists had misapplied?
AN IMPORTANT DISCOVERY
Anxious to learn from any quarter, whatever God had to teach, I at once wrote to Mr. Barbour, informing him of my harmony on other points and desiring to know particularly why, and upon what Scriptural evidence, he held that Christ's presence and the Harvest of the Gospel Age dated from autumn of 1874. The answer showed that my surmise had been correct; namely, that the time arguments, chronology, etc., were same as used by Second Adventists in 1873. It also explained that Mr. Barbour and Mr. J. H. Paton, of Michigan, a worker with him, had been regular Second Adventists up to that time; and that when the date of 1874 had passed without the world's being burned up, and without their seeing Christ in the flesh, they were for a time dumbfounded. They had examined the time prophecies which had seemingly passed unfulfilled, and had been unable to find any flaw. Therefore they began to wonder whether the time was right and their expectations were wrong--whether the views of Restitution and blessing to the world, which others were teaching, might not be the things to look for.
It seemed that not long after their 1874 disappointment, a reader of The Herald of the Morning, who had a copy of the Emphatic Diaglott, noticed something in it which he thought peculiar--that in `Matthew 24:27,37,39`, the Greek word parousia, which in our Common Version is rendered "coming," is in the Diaglott translated "presence"--evidently the correct translation of the Greek. This was the clue; and following it, they had been led through prophetic time toward proper views regarding the object and manner of our Lord's Return, and then to the examination of the time when the things indicated in God's Word as related to Christ's Parousia should take place. Thus God leads His children often from different starting points of Truth. But where heart is earnest and trustful, the results must be to draw all together.
There were no books nor other publications setting forth the time prophecies as then understood. So I paid Mr. Barbour's expenses to come to see me at Philadelphia (where I had business engagements during the summer of 1876), to show me fully and Scripturally, if he could, that the prophecies indicated 1874 as the date at which the Lord's presence and the Harvest began. He came; and the evidence satisfied me. Being a person of positive convictions, and fully consecrated to the Lord, I at once saw that the special times in which we live have an important bearing upon our duty and work as Christ's disciples; that since we are living in the time of the Harvest, the Harvest work should be done; and that Present Truth is the sickle by which the Lord would have us do a reaping work everywhere among His children.
I inquired of Mr. Barbour as to what was being done by him and The Herald. He replied that nothing was being done; that nearly all the readers of the The Herald, being disappointed Adventists, had lost interest and stopped their subscriptions; and that thus, with money exhausted. The Herald might be said to be practically suspended. I told him that instead of being discouraged and giving up the work since his newly found light on Restitution (for when we first met, he had much to learn from me on the fulness of Restitution, based upon the sufficiency of the Ransom given for all, as I had much to learn from him concerning time), he should rather feel that now he had some "good tidings" to preach, such as he never had had before; and that his zeal should be correspondingly increased. At the same time, the knowledge of the fact that we were already in the Harvest period gave to me an impetus to spread the Truth such as I never had had before. I therefore resolved upon a vigorous campaign for the Lord and the Truth.
THE BEGINNING OF THE HARVEST WORK
I determined to curtail my business cares and give my time as well as my means to the great Harvest work. Accordingly, I sent Mr. Barbour back to his home with money and instructions to prepare in concise book form the Good Tidings so far as then understood, including the time features, while I closed out my Philadelphia business preparatory to engaging in the work, traveling and preaching.
The little book of 196 pages, thus prepared, was entitled, The Three Worlds, and while it was not the first book to teach a measure of Restitution, nor the first to treat of time prophecy, it was, I believe, the first to combine the idea of Restitution with time prophecy. From the sale of this book and from my purse our traveling expenses were met. After a time I conceived the idea of adding another Harvest laborer, and sent for Mr. Paton, who promptly responded and whose traveling expenses were met in the same way.
By noticing how quickly people seemed to forget what they had heard, it became evident to us that, while the meetings were useful in awakening interest, a monthly journal was needed to hold and develop that interest. It therefore seemed to be the Lord's will that one of us should settle somewhere and begin again the regular issuing of The Herald of the Morning. I suggested that Mr. Barbour do this, as he had experience as a type-setter, and could therefore do it more economically; while Mr. Paton and I would continue to travel and contribute to its columns as we should find opportunity. To the objection that type was now sold, and that the new subscriptions that would come in would not for a long time make the journal self-sustaining, I replied that I would furnish the money for purchasing type, etc., and leave a few hundred dollars in bank subject to Mr. Barbour's check, and that he should manage this as economically as possible, while Mr. Paton and I would continue to travel. This seemed to be the Lord's will in the matter, was done.
It was after this, while a tour of the New England
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states that I met Mr. A. P. Adams, than a young Methodist minister, who became deeply interested and accepted the Message heartily during the week that I preached to his congregation. Subsequently I introduced him to little gatherings of interested ones in neighboring towns, and assisted otherwise, as I could, rejoicing in another who, with study, would soon be a colaborer in the Harvest field. About this time, too, I was much encouraged by the accession of Mr. A. D. Jones, then a clerk in my employ in Pittsburgh--a young man of activity and promise, who soon developed into an active and appreciated colaborer in the Harvest work, and is remembered by some of our older readers. Mr. Jones ran well for a time; but ambition or something else eventually worked utter shipwreck of his faith, and left us a painful illustration of the wisdom of the Apostle's words: "My brethren be not many of you teachers, knowing that we shall have a severer judgment."--`James 3:1`, Diaglott.
SIFTING AS WHEAT
"Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat."--`Luke 22:31`.
Until then all had run smoothly onward. We had been greatly blessed with the Truth, but not especially tested in our love and fidelity to it. But with the summer of 1878, the parallel in time to our Lord's crucifixion and His utterance of the above quoted words, the sifting began which has continued ever since, and which must, sooner or later, test every one who receives the light of Present Truth.
"Think it not strange concerning the fiery trials which shall try you, as though some strange thing happened to you"; for "the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is"-- whether he has built his faith flimsily of wood, hay and stubble, instead of with the valuable stones of God's revealed Truth' or whether he has built it upon the shifting sands of human theories (Evolution, etc.) or has built it upon the solid rock, the Ransom, the only sure foundation. which God has provided. They who would build upon that Rock shall be saved personally, even though they may have built up an illogical faith, which the "fire" and shaking of this Day of trial shall overthrow and utterly consume. But they who have built upon any other foundation, whether they have used good or bad materials, are sure of complete wreck. --`Luke 6:47-49`; `1 Corinthians 3:11-15`.
The object of this trial and sifting evidently is to select all whose heart desires are unselfish, who are fully and unreservedly consecrated to the Lord; who are so desirous of having the Lord's will done, and whose confidence in His wisdom, His way and His Word is so great, that they refuse to be led away from the Lord's Word, either by the sophistries of others or by plans and ideas of their own. These in this sifting time will be strengthened and will increase their joy in the Lord and their knowledge of His plans, even while their faith is being tested by the falling into error of thousands on every hand.--`Psalm 91:7`.
The sifting began: It was regarding St. Paul's statement (`1 Corinthians 15:51,52`), "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," etc. We still held the idea which Adventists, and indeed all Christians, hold, that at some time the living saints would be suddenly and miraculously caught away bodily, thenceforth to be with the Lord. And now our acquaintance with time prophecy led us to expect this translation of the saints at the point of time in this Age parallel to the Lord's resurrection; for many of the parallelisms between the Jewish and Christian dispensations were already seen by us, and formed one of the features of the little book above referred to--The Three Worlds.
We did not see then as we do now (see STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. III., Chapter 7), that April, 1878, marked the time for the beginning of the establishment of the Kingdom of God, by the glorification of all who were already asleep in Christ; and that the "change" which St. Paul mentions in `1 Corinthians 15:51` is to occur in the moment of dying to all the class described, from that date onward through the Harvest period, until all the living members ("the feet") of the body of Christ shall have been changed to glorious spirit beings. But when, at that date, nothing occurred which we could see, a reexamination of the matter showed me that our mistake lay in expecting to see all the living saints changed at once, and without dying--an erroneous view shared in by the whole Nominal Church, one which we had not yet recognized as an error and discarded.
Our present clear view was the result of the examination thus started. I soon saw that in the Apostle's words, "We shall not all sleep," the word sleep was not synonymous with die, though generally so understood; that, on the contrary, the expression "sleep" here used represents unconsciousness; and that the Apostle wished us to understand that from a certain time in the Lord's presence, His saints, though they would all die like men (`Psalm 82:6,7`), would not remain for any time unconscious, but in the moment of dying would be "changed," and would receive the spirit body promised. Throughout this Gospel Age, dying has been followed by unconsciousness, "sleep" This continued true of all true saints who fell "asleep in Jesus," up to the time when He took the office of King (`Revelation 11:17`), which we have shown was in the spring of 1878. See STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. II., pp. 212-219.
Not only did the king at that date awaken in His likeness all the members of his body, the Church, who slept, but for the same reason (the time for establishing the Kingdom having come) it is no longer necessary that the "feet" or last remaining members go into "sleep," or unconsciousness. On the contrary, each now, as he finishes his course, faithful unto death, will at once receive the Crown of Life, and being changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, cannot be said to sleep, or be unconscious at all. Here--1878--`Revelation 14:13` became applicable: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth."
So this reexamination showed further light upon the pathway and became a good cause for encouragement. as evidencing the Lord's continued leading.
DENYING THE RANSOM
But while thus helped to clearer views and brighter hopes, and while I diligently endeavored to help others, the spring of 1878 proved far from a blessing to Mr. Barbour and to many under his influence. Rejecting the plain, simple solution presented above, Mr. Barbour seemed to feel that he must of necessity get up something new to divert attention from the failure of the living saints to be caught away. But alas, how dangerous it is for any man to feel too much responsibility and to attempt to force new light! To our painful surprise, Mr. Barbour soon after wrote an article for The Herald denying the doctrine of the Atonement-- denying that the death of Christ was the Ransom-price for Adam and his race, saying that our Lord's death could no more avail for the payment of the penalty of Man's sins than would the sticking of a pin through the body of a fly and causing it suffering and death be considered by an earthly parent as a just settlement for misdemeanor in his child. I was astonished; for I supposed that Mr. Barbour had a clear understanding of the work of Christ as our Sin- Offering, our willing Redeemer, who gladly cooperating in the Divine Plan, gave Himself as the Ransom, or corresponding price, to meet the penalty upon Adam, that Adam and all his posterity might in due time go free from sin and death.
A totally different thing indeed was the willing, intelligent, loving offering of our Redeemer, according to the Plan devised and revealed by Infinite Wisdom, from the miserable caricature of the Ransom offered in Mr. Barbour's illustration. Either I had given Mr. Barbour credit for clearer views than he ever had, or else he was deliberately taking off and casting away the Wedding Garment of Christ's righteousness. The latter was the only conclusion left; for he afterwards stated that he had previously recognized Christ's death as man's Ransom.
Immediately I wrote an article for The Herald in contradiction of the error, showing the necessity that "One die for all," "the Just for the unjust"; that Christ had fulfilled all this as had been written; and consequently God could be just and forgive and release the sinner from the very penalty which He had justly imposed. (`Romans 3:26`.) I also wrote to Mr. Paton, calling his attention to the fundamental character of the doctrines assailed, and pointing out the time and circumstances all corresponded with the parable of the one who took off the wedding garment when just about to partake of the wedding feast.--`Matthew 22:11-14`.
Mr. Paton replied that he had not seen the matter in so strong a light before; for Mr. Barbour had a strong, dogmatic way of putting things which had for the time over-balanced him. I urged that, seeing now the importance of the doctrine, he also wrote and article for The Herald, which in no uncertain tone would give his witness also for the precious blood of Christ. This he did. These articles appeared in The Herald from July to December, 1878.
"THE WATCH TOWER" BEGUN
It now became clear to me that the Lord would no longer have me assist financially, or be in any way identical with, anything which cast an influence in opposition to the fundamental principle of our holy religion. Therefore, after a most careful though unavailing effort to reclaim the erring. I withdrew entirely from The Herald of the Morning, and from further fellowship with Mr. Barbour. But a mere withdrawal I felt was not sufficient to show my continued loyalty to our Lord and Redeemer whose cause had thus been violently
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assailed by one in a position to lead the sheep stray-- and in that position, too, very largely by my individual assistance and encouragement, when I believed him to be, in all sincerity, true to the Lord. I therefore understood it to be the Lord's will that I should start another journal, in which the standard of the Cross should be lifted high, the doctrine of the Ransom defended and the Good Tidings of great joy proclaimed as extensively as possible.
Acting upon this leading of the Lord, I gave up traveling, and in July, 1879, the first number of THE WATCH TOWER AND HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE made its appearance. From the first, it has been a special advocate of the Ransom; and, by the grace of God, we hope it will be so to the end.
For a time we had a most painful experience. The readers of THE WATCH TOWER and of The Herald were the same; and from the time the former started, and the supply of funds from this quarter for The Herald ceased, Mr. Barbour not only drew from the bank the money deposited by me and treated all he had in his possession as his own, but poured upon the Editor of THE WATCH TOWER the vilest of personal abuse, in order to prevent THE WATCH TOWER and the doctrine of the Ransom from having due influence upon the readers. This, of course, caused a division, as such things always do. The personal abuse, being regarded by some as true, had its intended effect of biasing the judgments of many on the subject of the Ransom; and many turned from us.
OTHERS REPUDIATE THE RANSOM
But the Lord continued His favor, which we esteem more valuable than the favor of the whole world. It was this time that Mr. Adams espoused the views of Mr. Barbour, and likewise forsook the doctrine of the Ransom. And true to our interpretation of the parable of the Wedding Garment, as given at the time, Mr. Barbour and Mr. Adams, having cast off the Wedding Garment of Christ's Righteousness, went out of the light into the darkness of the world on the subjects once so clearly seen; namely, the time and manner of the Lord's presence; from that time, onward, they expected Christ, Spring or Fall, down to the Spring of 1892, which was their latest disappointment, so far as we heard.* ----------
*Mr. Barbour died some years after this article first appeared in print. ----------
During this ordeal, or we might truly call it, battle for the cause of Christ, we had the earnest cooperation of Mr. Paton, who, up to the Summer of 1881, was an appreciated colaborer and defender of the doctrine of coming blessings through Christ, based upon the Ransom for all given at Calvary. The book, the Three Worlds, having been for some time out of print, it seemed as if either another edition or a new book covering the same features should be gotten out.
Mr. Paton agreed to get it ready for the press; and Mr. Jones offered to pay all the expenses incident to its printing and binding and to give Mr. Paton as many copies of the book as he could sell, as remuneration for his time spent in preparing the matter, provided I would agree to advertise it liberally and gratuitously in THE WATCH TOWER. (For this reason, Mr. Jones' address was, probably, the only one mentioned in our advertisement of it.) He well knew that there would be a demand for it if I should recommend it, and that his outlay would be sure to return with profit (for those books did not sell at such very low prices as we charge for the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES). I not only agreed to this, but contributed to Mr. Paton's personal expenses in connection with the publishing, and as well paid part of the printer's bill, at his solicitation.
STILL FURTHER SIFTINGS
In the end, I alone was at any financial loss in connection with the book, Day Dawn, the writer and the publisher both being gainers financially, while I did all the introducing by repeated advertisements. We need to give these particulars because of certain misrepresentations and one-sided and partial statements of acts which were afterward published and circulated in tract form by Mr. Paton, who also became later an advocate of the "other Gospel," of which the Cross of Christ is not the center, and which denies that He "bought us with His own precious blood." (`Galatians 1:6-9`.) Mr. Paton afterward published another book, which though called by the same name as the one I introduced, was on another and false foundation, which I could not and did not recommend, but which I esteemed misleading sophistry, tending to undermine the whole structure of the Christian system, yet retaining a sufficiency of the truths which we once held in common to make it palatable and dangerous to all not rooted and grounded upon the Ransom Rock.
The false foundation which this later Day Dawn presented is the old heathen doctrine of Evolution, renamed, which not only denies the fall of man, but, as a consequence, all necessity of a redeemer. It claimed on the contrary, that not by Redemption and Restitution to a lost estate, but by progressive evolution, or development, man has risen and is still to rise from the lower condition in which he was created until, by his own good works, he ultimately reaches the Divine nature. Mr. Paton claimed that our blessed Lord Himself was a degraded and imperfect man, whose work on earth was to crucify a carnal nature (which it was claimed He possessed), and to thus show all men how to crucify their carnal or sinful propensities.
And here we remark that the darkness and degradation which came upon the whole world in its fallen, cast-off condition, and which was only intensified by Papacy's priestcraft during the Dark Ages, when contrasted with the light of intelligence which God is now letting in upon the world, have gradually led men to esteem present intelligence as merely a part of the process of evolution. This view, as we have shown in STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. I., p. 162, though quite incorrect, is nevertheless the occasion of the great predicted falling away from the faith in the Bible during this Harvest period. (`Psalm 91:7`.) And few Christian people seem to be well enough grounded in the Truth to be able to withstand this trial of this "evil day," in which many will fall, while only the few will stand.
The little history of the way Mr. Paton came to turn from us and from the Ransom to oppose that which he once clearly saw and advocated, is important; for it became the occasion of another sifting, or testing, of THE WATCH TOWER readers (by that time a much larger number), because Mr. Paton had been a respected brother and coworker with us, and because as a traveling representative of the THE WATCH TOWER and its doctrines (his expenses being met in part by WATCH TOWER subscriptions and renewals, as well as by money from myself), he was personally known to a larger number of our readers than was the Editor. It came about thus:
In the year 1881, Mr. Barbour, still publishing The Herald, and still endeavoring to overthrow the doctrine of the Ransom, finding that on a preaching tour I had used a diagram of the Tabernacle to illustrate how Christ's sacrifice was typified in the sacrifices of typical Israel, wrote an article on the Atonement, in which he undertook to show that the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement typified almost anything else than what they do typify. I could readily see through the fallacy of his presentation, which made the bullock and the goat typify one thing in one verse and another thing in each other verse in which either was mentioned. But I well knew that people in general are not close reasoners, and that with the cares of life upon them, they are too apt to accept a seeming interpretation, without a critical examination of the words of the Scriptures and their context.
After I had thought the matter all over, I reexamined the chapter. (`Leviticus 16`.) But while seeing the inconsistency of Mr. Barbour's interpretation, I could only confess that I did not understand it and could not give a connected interpretation which would fit all the details so plainly stated, and all of which must have a particular meaning. What could I do? those reading both The Herald and THE WATCH TOWER would probably be misled if not helped out of the difficulty; and to merely say the The Herald's interpretation was inconsistent with itself, and therefore a misinterpretation, would be misunderstood. Many would surely think that I opposed that view from a spirit of rivalry; for there are always people with whom everything resolves itself into personality, rivalry and party spirit, and such cannot understand others who take a higher and nobler view, and who think always and only of the Truth, regardless of persons.
"TABERNACLE SHADOWS OF BETTER SACRIFICES"
I went to the Lord with this, as with every trial; I told Him just how it seemed to me, how anxious I felt for the dear sheep, who having their appetites sharpened by the Truth were by their very hunger exposed to Satan's deceptions. I told him that I realized that He was the Shepherd and not I, but I knew also that he would be pleased with my interest in the sheep and my desire to be His servant and to declare the Truth, the Way and the Life to them; that I felt deeply impressed that if the time had come for the permission of a false view to deceive the unworthy, it must also be His due time to have the truth on the same subject made clear, that the worthy ones might be able to stand, and not fall from the Truth.
Believing that the due time had come for the correct understanding of the meaning of the Jewish sacrifices which all Christians see were typical of "better sacrifices," and trusting that the Lord would grant the insight as soon as I got into the attitude of mind best fitted to receive the light, I prayed with confidence that if the Lord's due time had come, and if he were willing to use me as His instrument to declare
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the massage to His dear family, I might be able to rid my heart and mind of any prejudice that might stand in the way, and be led of His Spirit into the proper understanding.
Believing that the prayer would be answered affirmatively, I went into my next morning prepared to study and write. The forenoon I spent in scrutinizing the text and every other Scripture likely to shed light upon it, especially the Epistle to the Hebrews, and in looking to the Lord for wisdom and guidance. But no solution of the difficult passage came. The afternoon and evening were similarly spent, and all of the next day. Everything else was neglected, and I wondered why the Lord kept me so long. But on the third day, near noon, the whole matter came to me as clear as the noonday sun--so clear and convincing and harmonious with the whole tenor of the Scriptures, that I could not question its correctness; and no one has ever yet been able to overthrow it. (The matter has been published in several editions in pamphlet form, under the title, TABERNACLE SHADOWS OF THE BETTER SACRIFICES, and can be had by addressing THE WATCH TOWER Office at Brooklyn.)
Then I knew why the Lord had led me to the solution so slowly and cautiously. I needed a special preparation of heart for the full appreciation of all it contained; and I was all the more assured that it was not of my own wisdom; for if of my own, why would it not have come at once? I found that the understanding of that subject was bound to have a wide influence upon all our hopes and views of all truths-- not that it overturned old truths or contradicted them, but that, on the contrary, it set them all in order and harmony, and straightened out little knots and twists.
For instance, the doctrine of justification by Faith had always been more of less confused in my mind--as it has been in every mind--with the doctrine of sanctification, which calls for self-sacrifice and works. This was all made clear and plain at once; for the types show that we all, as sinners, needed first of all Christ's Ransom-sacrifice that we must appropriate its merit to ourselves by faith; that thus we are justified (reckoned free from sin), when we by faith accept of Christ's sacrifice on our behalf and consecrate ourselves to God. The type shows, too, that it is only after being thus cleansed in God's sight (by our acceptance of Christ's finished work as our Ransom-sacrifice, and the imputation of Christ's merit to us) that God is willing to accept our offering and receive us as joint-sacrificers with Christ: and that, if faithful to the end, following in His footsteps, we shall be granted the favor of joint-heirship in the kingdom.
STILL FURTHER LIGHT ON THE SCRIPTURES
Here I first saw that the great privilege of becoming joint-heirs with Christ and partakers with Him of the Divine nature is confined exclusively to those who would share with Him in His sacrifice and service of the Truth. And here, too, I saw for the first time that the Lord was the first of these sacrifices--the Sin- offering; consequently, that none of God's servants, the Prophets and faithful ones who lived and died before Christ, were priests after His order or sharers in the sacrifice with Him, even though some of them were stoned, others sawn asunder, and others slain with the sword, for the cause of God; that though they would get a good and great reward, they would belong to a separate class and order from those called to sacrifice and joint-heirship with Christ in the kingdom, at and since Pentecost.
Here, too, I first saw that the Acceptable Day of the Lord signifies this Gospel Age, the time during which God will accept the sacrifice of any who come to Him through Christ, the great Sin-Offering; that when this Acceptable Day ends, the reward of joint-heirship and the Divine nature ends; and that when this great Day of Sacrifice, the Gospel Age (the real Day of Atonement, has closed, when all the members of the body of Christ shall have participated with Him in the sacrifice of their rights as justified men, and shall be glorified, then the blessings shall begin to come to the world--the Millennial blessings purchased for them by their Redeemer, according to the grace of God.
This first brought me to a clear recognition of the distinction of natures--of what constitutes human nature, what constitutes angelic nature and what constitutes Divine nature. as shown in STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. Vol. I., Chapter X. And whereas I had used the word RESTITUTION in a general way to mean some sort of a blessed change, now under the clear light. I began to see that the great work of Restitution could mean only what the word implies--a restoration of that which was lost (`Matthew 18:11`), a restoration to the original condition from which man once fell.
Then I saw that God's Plan when carried out, would not bring all of His creatures to the level of the Divine nature, but that He purposed to have an order of beings called angels. who though perfect, would always be of a different order, or nature, from the Divine nature; and that He likewise purposed to have a race of beings of the human nature of whom Adam was a sample, or pattern of whose future earthly home--Paradise--Eden was a sample, or pattern. I also saw that God purposed that Christ and His joint-sacrificers and joint-heirs to be God's instruments for blessing the fallen race and restoring them to the perfection enjoyed by Adam in Eden, a condition which God said was "very good." and in which man was an image of his Creator.
When all these things unexpectedly shone out so brightly and clearly, I did not wonder that the Lord gave me several days waiting and preparation for the blessing; and to Him I rendered praise and thanks. All my faintness of heart and all fear of the bad effect of the wrong view fled before this evidence of the Lord's leading in the pathway that "shines more and more unto the perfect Day." I saw at once that these new developments would probably prove a stumbling-block to some, as well as a great blessing to others who were ready for them. Instead, therefore, of publishing it in the next WATCH TOWER, I determined to first present the matter privately to the more prominent brethren; remembering the Apostle Paul's course in a similar matter.--`Galatians 2:1,2`.
OTHERS WITHDRAW FROM US
Accordingly, I sent the invitation and the money necessary for the traveling expenses to four of the more prominent brethren, requesting a conference. Mr. Paton, from Michigan, was one of the four, and the only one who rejected the first rays of light. Nor could he find any fault with the exegesis, though urged, as all were, to state anything which might seem inconsistent, or to quote any passage of Scripture thought to be in conflict. There were none; and every question only demonstrated the strength of the position. I therefore urged that what was beyond the criticism of those most familiar with the Plan of God must be the Truth and ought to be confessed and taught, especially when it arranged and ordered all the other features of the Truth so beautifully.
I pointed out, too, how necessary it was to a logical holding of the Ransom to see just what this showed; namely, the distinctions of natures--that our Lord left a higher nature and took a lower nature, when He was made flesh, and that the object in that change of nature was that He might, as a man a perfect man, give Himself a Ransom for the first perfect man, Adam, and thus redeem Adam and all lost in him. I also showed how, as a reward for this great work, He was given the Divine nature in His resurrection--a nature still higher than the one He had left when He became a man.
But either Mr. Paton's mental vision or his heart was weak; for he never took the step; and before long, he, too. forsook the doctrine of the Ransom. Yet he still used the word Ransom, while denying the idea conveyed by the word; nor could he give the word any other definition or otherwise dispute the correctness of the meaning which we attach to it --which may be found in any English dictionary and is true to the significance of the Greek word which it translates.
Notwithstanding our best endeavors to save him, he drifted farther and farther away. I was obliged to refuse his articles for THE WATCH TOWER for the same reason that obliged me to refuse to spend the Lord's money entrusted to me to assist Mr. Barbour to spread the same pernicious theory.
It was about this time that Mr. Jones informed me that the copies of the book, Day Dawn, which I had purchased last were all that were left; and announcing it so that no more orders for it might come to the TOWER Office, I took occasion to promise MILLENNIAL DAWN, which should present the Plan of the Ages in the clearer, more orderly manner made possible by the new light shed upon every feature of it by the lessons from the Tabernacle.
About this time Mr. Paton concluded that he would publish another book under the name Day Dawn, revised to harmonize with his new views, which ignored the Ransom, ignored justification, and the need of either, and taught that all men will be everlastingly saved--not in any sense as the result of a sacrifice by Christ, but as the result of each one's crucifying sin in himself--the law under which the poor Jews tried to commend themselves to God, but which justified none. Many and severe were the calumnies heaped upon me because I exposed this change, told that the original Day Dawn was out of print, and that the new book was on a different foundation from that which I had recommended.
FOOD FOR THINKING CHRISTIANS
During this time I was busied with an immense work, known to some of you--the issue and circulation of over 1,400,000 copies of two pamphlets: one entitled. FOOD FOR THINKING CHRISTIANS, and other, TABERNACLE TEACHINGS. The united matter of these two pamphlets was about the size
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of that of SCRIPTURES STUDIES, Vol I. Besides this, I was flooded with thousands of joyous and joy-giving letters, from those who had received and were reading the pamphlets thus distributed, and were asking questions and more reading matter. To add to our pressure, financial complications came; and thus for four years I was hindered from fulfilling my promise of MILLENNIAL DAWN, now called STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. Nor is our promise of the complete set fulfilled even yet. Six volumes are out, but the Seventh Volume is not yet issued. During these years, however, we were struggling through an immense amount of labor (all cheerfully undergone for the sake of our Lord and His saints); and each year we hoped afresh to be able to gather the hours necessary to complete the first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN. And the same great Adversary of the Truth later hindered other volumes of the series.
Some who have The Three Worlds or the old edition of Day dawn would perhaps like to know my present opinion of them--whether I still think them profitable books to loan to truth-seekers. To this I reply, Certainly not; for the very immature views of God's Truth therein presented fall far short of what we now see to be God's wonderful Plan. Things which are now clear as noonday were then cloudy and mixed. The distinction between the perfect human nature, to which the obedient of the world will be restored during the Millennium, and the Divine nature, to which the Little Flock, the sacrificing Elect of the Gospel Age are soon to be exalted, were then unnoticed. All now so clear was then blurred, mixed and indistinct. Neither had we then seen the steps or planes, shown upon the Chart of the Ages in STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. I., which have assisted so many to distinguish justification and sanctification and to determine their present relationship to God.
And the time reckonings which those books presented, lacking point and leaving the reader in doubt as to what the author is attempting to prove to them, tend only to confuse the mind and to give the impression that time prophecies are merely clues and serve no definite purpose or object. Hence, I answer most decidedly, I would not recommend or use either of those books to day. Once I was much less careful about what I circulated or commended, but I am learning every day to be more and more careful as to what sort of food I put before any of the Lord's hungry sheep. The lord has taught me that it is a responsible matter to be a teacher, even to the extent of circulating a book or paper. Even the book, Food for Thinking Christians (now out of print), published and circulated during the year 1881, I no longer commend, because it is less systematic and therefore less clear than later publications.
STILL ANOTHER SIFTING
Another chapter in our experience needs to be told, as it marks another shaking and sifting. Mr. A. D. Jones proposed to start another paper on the same lines as THE WATCH TOWER, to republish some of the simpler features of God's Plan and to be a sort of missionary and primary teacher. Knowing him to be clear on the subject of the Ransom, I bade him Godspeed and introduced a sample copy of his paper, Zion's Day Star (now for many years discontinued), to our nearly ten thousand readers, only, as it soon proved, to stumble some of them into rank infidelity, and others into the rejection on the Ransom. For though The Day Star steered a straight course for a few months, and maintained the same position as THE WATCH TOWER with reference to the Ransom, and for the same reason refused the no-ransom articles sent in for its columns by Mr. Paton, yet within one year it had gone boldly into infidelity, and totally repudiated all the rest of the Bible as well as those portions which teach the fall of Adam and the Ransom therefrom in Christ.
All this meant another strain, another sifting, another cutting loose of friends, who erroneously supposed that our criticisms of the false doctrines were prompted by a spirit of rivalry, and who did not so soon see whither his teachings were drifting, nor how the importance of holding fast the first principles of the doctrines of Christ--how Christ died for our sins, and rose for our justification.
These shaking and sifting processes continued to progress, and are not yet over; for all must be thoroughly tried and tested. It is not a question of who may fall, but of "who shall be able to stand?" as the Apostle puts it. And we have need again to remember the Apostolic admonition, "Let him who thinketh he standeth [who feels very confident, as did St. Peter when he said, 'Lord, though all deny Thee, yet will not I'] take heed lest he fall."
THE TEST ON ALL CHRISTIANS
This doctrine, of another way of salvation (and salvation for all, too) than the Cross of Christ, is not only the error which since 1874 has been sifting all who came into the light of present Truth, but it is the trial that has come upon the whole of Christendom to try them. (`Revelation 3:10`.) It has spread among all classes of Christian people, especially among ministers of all sects. The number who believe that Christ's death provides the Ransom-price for Adamic sin is daily getting smaller; indeed there has been an actual stampede from the doctrine of man's fall in Adam and his ransom from that fall by "the Man Christ Jesus." (`1 Timothy 2:5,6`.) As the Psalmist prophetically pictured it, a thousand shall fall to one that shall stand.--`Psalm 91:7`.
The time has come for each one to declare himself boldly. Whosoever is not for the Cross and the ransom there effected, is against it! He that gathereth not, scattereth abroad! Whoever is silent on this subject, when it is being assailed by foes on every hand, whether it be the silence of fear or of shame or of indifference, is not worthy of the Truth, and will surely be one to stumble quickly. Whoever from any cause sits idly by while the banner of the Cross is being assailed, is not a soldier of the Cross worthy of the name, and will not be reckoned among the overcomers who shall inherit all things. And God is permitting these very siftings, in order to sift out all who are not overcomers and to test and manifest the Little Flock, who like Gideon's band will, though few in number, share the victory and honors of their Captain in glory.
Are you prepared for the issue, dear brethren and sisters? The armor of Truth has ben given you some time past; have you put it on? Have you made it your shield and buckler, your defence, against all the wily arts of the Evil One?
Do not be deceived by the agents whom the Adversary often uses. In this matter he will be as cunning as in his presentation of the misrepresentations of Truth.
Aptly indeed did the Prophet liken this infectious poison to a pestilence. (`Psalm 91:6`.) A pestilence spread because people are in a physical condition which renders them susceptible to disease. Physicians say that those whose systems are in good, healthy order are in little danger of any disease. In like manner a spiritual pestilence will flourish, not only because all will be exposed to it who have not a clear intellectual appreciation of the doctrines of Christ, but from another cause also. Out of the heart are the issues of life; therefore the most needful of all things to be in right condition is the heart. How is your heart? Is it proud boastful, independent, self-concious, self-willed? If so, take care; you will be very liable to this epidemic, no matter how far from it you may seem to be.
"A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer's Throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone."
With such a heart you are safe. In meekness and lowliness, you will never think of redeeming yourself from the condemnation that you inherited through Adam, by sacrificing present sinful desires, but you will flee to the Cross, where God himself opened the Fountain for sin and uncleanness, present as well as past.
DOTH THIS OFFEND YOU?
We presume that this article will offend some, though it is not designed to offend any. It is written for the defense of the meek against the sophistries of error. "Who shall ascend into the Hill of the Lord [into the Kingdom offered], or who shall stand in His Holy Place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart [who is diligently fashioning his life after the principles of holiness], who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity [who cultivates no earthly ambition or pride, but patiently waits for the glory to follow the course of present self-sacrifice], nor sworn deceitfully [ignoring or despising his Covenant with God]. He shall receive the blessing of the Lord [the Kingdom glory and joint-heirship with Christ], and righteousness [perfection, full deliverance from present infirmities, etc.] from the God of his salvation." (`Psalm 24:3-5`.) "Seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the Day of the Lord's anger [this evil day --this day of snares, pitfalls, flying arrows and destructive pestilences]." (`Zephaniah 2:3`.) "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation"--that "your minds be not corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." Let all the meek fully awake to the trial of the hour. And while many are putting stumbling-blocks in the way of the "feet" of the Body of Christ, let each soldier of the Cross be vigilant, not only to stand, but to assist others to stand bearing up the "feet"--`Psalm 91:11,12`.
International Bible Students Association Classes STUDIES AND LECTURES BY MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION