ZWT - 1908 - R4114 thru R4300 / R4134 (049) - February 15, 1908
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A.D. 1908—A.M. 6036
Views from the Watch Tower........................ 51
The Financial Stress World-Wide............... 51
Wants Permission to Preach Truth.............. 51
Scientist Claims He Has Talked With the Dead.. 52
Doctors Differ—Both are Right................ 53
Fragment of Gospel Valueless.................. 54
Failed to Keep His Appointment................ 54
Cincinnati Debates and Convention................. 54
He Went About Doing Good.......................... 55
Himself Bare Our Sicknesses................... 56
“Give Ye Them to Eat”............................. 57
Giving Thanks Always for All Things........58
Discouragements from Error.................... 60
Encouraging Words from Faithful Workers.........62
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THE WOMAN’S NATIONAL DAILY, ST. LOUIS, MO.,
proposes to refund subscriptions sent in by us only upon the request of the subscribers themselves. We request that all of our friends who have been receiving the WOMAN’S DAILY for the past month or more write to it at once a post card, saying that their chief interest in it was in Pastor Russell’s sermons, and that if these will not appear regularly hereafter, they will please drop your name, returning their subscription money to you personally, or through the WATCH TOWER B. & T. Society.
Those who have subscribed, but have received only a sample copy of the DAILY will understand that we have been holding their subscriptions pending this decision. Unless otherwise directed we will apply their money for some other paper which does publish the desired sermons. Such might, however, send postals to the WOMAN’S DAILY, saying that they had subscribed through us and were disappointed, and must now take a paper which does publish the sermons weekly.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
THE FINANCIAL STRESS WORLD-WIDE
SO intertwined are the finances of the world that our recent disturbance from lack of circulating currency is affecting all Europe. Precipitated by a battle between financial giants, which obliterated one party and crippled the other, the panicky sentiment spread to every quarter of this land and its waves are now causing disturbances afar, whilst New York, the original center, has become more calm. That there was not sufficient money for the vast business enterprises of our land was seen by many financiers, and warning signals were given a year in advance. But nobody moved to produce the needed extra currency (which silver would have supplied had it not been demonetized). Unless this new blood (more currency) be supplied speedily no rapid recovery need be expected. This means further depression along some lines, notwithstanding the great prosperity within grasp.
Much is being said in a partizan spirit, charging that the panic was deliberately brought on by the very rich, to show their power and to take a stronger hold. This is surely erroneous, as the very rich have suffered most. The President and Mr. Lawson are also blamed unjustly for precipitating the panic by exposing the disapproved methods of some financiers. Public distrust did extend to railroad bonds and some railroad shares and justly; but this would have produced no panic had there been sufficient currency (money) for the country’s needs. Congress and the bankers are responsible, though they do not realize it.
However, from our standpoint we need blame none of them. Rather we may say that in divine providence
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their eyes have been holden as respects the real seat of the difficulty—that the panic might come just when it did—at the opening of the last seven years of “Gentile Times.” We advise the Lord’s people to do nothing to provoke strife, discontent or panic, but that each “set his house in order” in financial matters, and with hearts full of confidence in the Lord give all the more attention to the promulgation of the “harvest” message to all who have the hearing ear. And you will find these ears increasing in numbers and keenness to hear the good tidings which alone can satisfy and give peace in time of storm and stress.
THE POLITICAL EFFECT OF THE PANIC
Undoubtedly Socialistic ideas will thrive now as never before. Indeed the President and several aspirants for the office are boldly saying what only Socialists would have uttered a few years ago.
Now is a time for patience and for remembering that Socialism cannot do for the world what it desires and teaches. Now is the time for remembering that God has a plan that is surely working itself out. “In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19.) “Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. Then will I turn to the people a pure message, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent.”—Zeph. 3:8,9.
WANTS PERMISSION TO PREACH TRUTH
New York, Feb. 3.—Staunch Church members of Bayonne awoke this morning after a night of restlessness following a strange sermon by Rev. __________ [we omit the name lest the reverend gentleman should feel hurt by our comments], pastor of the __________ Church, one of the largest in the town. The minister had made the statement that he would ask the authorities of his Church for “permission to preach the truth for two years as an experiment.” It apparently followed from his statement that during at least a large part of the twenty years which the doctor had spent in the ministry he had been preaching what he believed was not true—in fact, the preacher himself said as much. He declared that had he known what he was doing when he entered the ministry he would not have gone into it.—Press Dispatch.
* * *
We wonder if any other profession contains as many foolish men as does the (nominal) Christian ministry.
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Doubtless there are men in all the professions equally dishonest; but they seem to be wiser than to thus parade their dishonesty before the public with the expectation that it will be appreciated and that they will be esteemed ideally honest men—martyrs for the truth’s sake! No doubt many doctors are connected with a popular school of medicine which they believe is not the best;—no doubt some let their patients die rather than break with their endorsed system, its honorable reputation and lucrative returns; but they are not so foolish as to tell of their chicanery and expect the people to applaud their “honesty.”
But ministers tell us freely that they never did believe the Westminster Confession of Faith which they confessed and promised to teach. And now this reverend gentleman intimates to his congregation that he does not believe the Bible and the messages he has been giving them for the past twenty years: His great, honest soul is tortured until he cries out for liberty to tell the truth.
The Bible assures us that God desires truth in the inward parts—in the heart. In our opinion, if the Lord had some new revelation to send to the world (which we deny) he would not select for his channel the man who confesses himself to have been dishonest for twenty years in his most public utterances.
And, pray, what are the bonds by which this truth-loving soul is held back from preaching what he believes is truth? They evidently are two: (1) Love of money, and (2) Love of the esteem of men. He has so much loved his salary and his title and “authority to preach” that as chains they have held him fast to the preaching of what for twenty years he believed to be a lie. Now these chains have finally worn through a callous surface until they have reached the quick, and he squirms and writhes in pain, crying out, Let me keep my salary and title while I tell the people what a fraud I have been.
SCIENTIST CLAIMS HE HAS TALKED WITH THE DEAD
(CABLE DISPATCH TO THE NEW YORK SUN)
London.—Serious statements by Sir Oliver Lodge command respectful attention, even when he abandons science for mysticism. It was therefore with something like amazement rather than skepticism that a meeting of the Psychical Research Society heard the distinguished scientist practically affirm that communications were received from the dead in secret and exhaustive tests recently conducted by certain members of that society through spiritualistic mediums, or automatists, as Sir Oliver called them. Referring to what happened at the seances Sir Oliver said:
“The most important set of phenomena are those of automatic writing and talking, and what do we find? We find the late Edmund Gurney, the late Richard Hodgson and the late F. W. H. Myers, with others less known, constantly purporting to communicate with us, with the express purpose of patiently proving their identity by giving us cross correspondence between different mediums.
“We also find them answering specific questions in a manner characteristic of their known personalities and giving evidence of knowledge appropriate to them. Not easily or early do we make this admission. In spite of long conversations with what purports to be the surviving intelligence of these friends and investigators, we were by no means convinced of their identity by more general conversation, even when it was of a friendly and intimate character, such as in ordinary case would have been considered amply sufficient for identification of friends speaking, say, through the telephone or typewriter.
“We required definite and crucial proof, a proof difficult even to imagine as well as difficult to supply. The ostensible communicators realize the need of such proof as fully as we do and have done their best to satisfy the rational demand. Some of us think they succeeded. Others are still doubtful.
“Cross correspondence—that is, the reception of part of a message through one medium and part through another, neither portion separately being understood by either—is good evidence of one intelligence dominating both automatists, and if the message is characteristic of some particular deceased person and is received as such by persons to whom he was not intimately known, then it is fair proof of the intellectual activity of that person.
“If, further, we get from him a piece of literary criticism which is eminently in his vein, which has not occurred to ordinary people, then I say the proof, already striking, is tending to become crucial. These are the kinds of proof which the society has had communicated to it. The phenomenon of automatic writing strikes some of us as if it were in the direct line of evolutional advance. It seems like the beginning of a new human faculty.”
Sir Oliver continued impressively: “I am going to assume in fact that our bodies can under certain exceptional circumstances be controlled directly or be temporarily possessed by another or foreign intelligence operating either on the whole or some limited part of it. The question lying behind such an hypothesis, and justifying or negativing it, is the root question of identity, the identity of the control.
“Some control undoubtedly exists, and it is not the normal consciousness of the person owning the body. Every one who knows anything about the matter is quite certain that this question of identity is a fundamental one. The controlling spirit proves its identity mainly by reproducing the speech or writing facts which belong to his memory, not the automatist’s memory.”
* * *
Well do the Scriptures declare of our day and people, “The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Isa. 29:14.) Here we have a fresh illustration of how the things that are naught may and can and do confound those who are great and learned. “The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence him.” Hence the Christian of low degree, from the standpoint of service, may, through the instructions of the Bible, know clearly things that the famous and learned in other wisdom cannot know. He knows that the dead are actually dead and cannot know or communicate anything until made alive by our Redeemer in the resurrection morning. He knows, too, that the demons,
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who personate the dead to deceive, are wholly unreliable, and that anyway the Lord’s people are forbidden to have any communication with them under any pretext.
Thus the Lord keeps his own who trust him and follow his instructions. The Scriptures say: “The wise are taken in their own craftiness.” And so it will appear ere long to all; that the world’s brightest, wisest men in this its wisest epoch will be found to have been foolish, in that they trusted to their own wisdom and neglected God’s Word. We caution all of our readers against all occultism—against every revelation and manifestation or reputed special communion with their dead friends, or even with the Lord or his angel. These are fraudulent: attempts to entangle you. Look for guidance to the voice behind—the Lord’s messages through the apostles and prophets. (Isa. 30:21.) Expect your guidance as it has been sent all down this Gospel Age by the holy Spirit’s supervision and through the members of Christ.—I Cor. 12:11-29.
DOCTORS DIFFER—BOTH ARE RIGHT
“The Rev. Dr. Newman Smyth, a member of the Yale Corporation, and for twenty-five years pastor of the Center Church, New Haven’s largest and most conservative Congregational Church, electrified his congregation yesterday morning by declaring that the age of Protestantism is past, that it is no longer needed. He said that the churches are all split up and are becoming more so every day. They no longer have power over the people or the state. He said that the time for a new Catholicism is at hand and that the sooner people realize it the better.”—Waterbury American.
“At the Second Church yesterday morning the Rev. Dr. Davenport preached a second sermon on Protestantism and Catholicism, answering the question, “Is organized Protestantism to perish?” He took for his text Matt. 16:18, ‘And I also say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.’
“After discussing the bearing of this text on the theological controversies of the past, declaring that in the Church thus predicted Protestantism was included no less than Catholicism, and recounting the struggles out of which evolved Protestantism as we know it today, Dr. Davenport reached this conclusion:
“‘How is it with the Protestant churches in their relation to the life of today? Do they on the whole seem weak, inefficient, dying? I see nothing of this as I look out upon their hundreds of thousands in all the world; with their hundreds of millions of constituents. They represent in this land and in other lands a vast amount of cultured manhood and womanhood, of wealth, of learning, for they are in closest alliance with the advanced thought of the time, the founders of innumerable colleges and the patrons of great and numerous universities from Cambridge and Oxford to Harvard and Yale.’”—Waterbury American.
* * *
The two gentlemen quoted above seem to be taking opposing views; but in reality they agree. Protestants are becoming individual thinkers, instead of class or sect thinkers. They are dropping all doctrine and merely maintaining “a form of godliness.” They maintain the form partly as a “fire insurance” and partly as a protection against anarchy. Doctrinally, therefore, there are fewer and fewer Protestants as the days go by. Few know enough about doctrines to protest against any of the doctrines of the Church of Rome or any other.
Dr. Smyth is right when he insists that all are becoming Catholic—if that word be taken according to its broad meaning, signifying general. The term Christian has become so general as to include all who live in civilized lands and act decently and cooperate with the majority along the lines of moral reform—without opposing or denouncing false theology or anything that is popular. In this sense the Catholic spirit is growing.
The other man is right in claiming that Protestantism is established and prospering; for the Catholic spirit we have just described is a Protestant spirit also in the sense that, doctrines being ignored, the practices of Catholicism today are just such as Protestants specially cried out for four centuries ago. The protest of the past was doctrinal on the part of some, but to the masses it never meant more than liberty of conscience and freedom from persecution. Thus whilst Protestantism has failed doctrinally it has succeeded as respects human liberty.
True, there are many Catholics and Protestants who have the old Catholic spirit—a desire to stifle conscience and to persecute dissenters—but they are in the minority; the civilized world protests against that.
However, according to our understanding of the Bible, it will not be long until the Catholic spirit of coercion and persecution will again dominate Christendom; with the awful result of provoking the anarchy with which this age will close and the new age be introduced.
THE HIPPOPOTAMUS TOOTH
IOWA DISCOVERY MERELY CONFIRMATORY OF SCRIPTURE
STUDIES, VOLUME VI., CHAPTER I.
“In recent newspapers there is a news item, to which considerable display is given, concerning the finding of the fossil tooth of a hippopotamus in Iowa. The item goes on to say that the finding of the tooth, coupled with the former finding of skeletons of elephants in that state, gives the first evidence of the existence of a tropical climate in North America in the period immediately preceding the present geological age of the world.
“Allow me to suggest as modestly as possible that the professors are again, as usual, wrong. The evidence is unvarying that the climate of the earth in the period immediately prior to the present one was universally mild, and that in every zone of latitude there were no frosts, no rainstorms, no winter, and no torridity of heat. At the mouth of the Mackenzie river in Alaska, where now the temperature falls to 109 degrees below zero (F.), there was found the trunk of a cinnamon palm, a tree that can endure no frost. This trunk was rooted in the soil out of which it grew; it was killed by the change of climate which suddenly swept
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over the earth in the month of November, about 2548 B.C., when the collapse of the ancient protecting canopy of water surrounding the earth first permitted the cold of space to reach its surface.
“In 1884 Tolle and Bunge examined some animal remains on Liakoff island in the Arctic and there found that the remains of an incredible quantity of so-called tropical animals were heaped together in such a manner as to indicate that this island, equal in area to the state of Illinois, was composed in equal parts of their bones and of the ice and sand in which they were imbedded.
“Beneath the clay, sand and carbonaceous mud, which our geologists take to be drift from the glaciers which never existed except in the imagination, there lies all over the world alike the remains of the lost climate of the golden age, when, in common with other creatures, human beings attained an enormous age. In Louisiana are found in rock-cut caves human skeletons (of the white race) which from the flattening of the tibia and the femora, and from the variation of the grinding surfaces of their teeth, must have attained the age of 1,000 years approximately.”—W. V. Cooling in Chicago Inter-Ocean.
HIGHER CRITICISM INFIDELITY IN NORWAY
The Lutheran Church in Norway finds herself obliged to make front against the influence of “The New Theology.” The “Lutheran Kirketid” made known in October of last year an appeal for the founding of a theological Church faculty that would stand fully on the foundation of the Word of God and the Lutheran Confession. By the term Church faculty we are to understand a seminary for ministers. In the appeal, together with other things, is said: “The time is urgent. A new spiritual stream presses with ever-increasing strength and self-consciousness and grasps the foundation truths of Christianity—not alone the Church doctrines, but it also menaces the Christian life at the roots, respecting both present and future. In such times there rests on our churches a peculiar responsibility. Therefore we must most decidedly come to the support of this movement, which seems to us fully justified, and this by money contributions as well as by encouraging the youth to whom the call of service in the Church appeals. To the extent of our ability we must stimulate and support them.” The appeal was signed by 276 men, among them sixty-five ministers.
FRAGMENT OF GOSPEL VALUELESS
As “news” and to fill space, newspapers are publishing lengthy accounts of “a fragment of a Gospel found in Egypt.” It is of no value, being of unknown authorship, and in style quite different from our Lord’s authenticated words, and out of harmony with the Truth in general.
FAILED TO KEEP HIS APPOINTMENT
The friends who went to Elkhart, Ind., to attend the debates and were disappointed have our sympathy. A week before the date Dr. Dillon wrote that he could not keep his appointment because of a “quarterly meeting” at that time, of which he probably had forgotten when he suggested the date for our acceptance. Or possibly its importance seemed greater later on, as he thought of the questions for debate. We wrote and also telegraphed to him, urging matters, because the announcement had gone forth, but we received no reply.
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CINCINNATI DEBATES AND CONVENTION
INTEREST grows in the Cincinnati Convention and the Debates between the Editor of ZION’S WATCH TOWER and Elder L. S. White, representing the Christian denomination (Radical branch). The prospects now are that there will be a good representation of the brethren and sisters from every direction. Pittsburgh friends will have special cars on the Pennsylvania R.R. 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. Feb. 22. The Chicago* friends have made special arrangements for a large party over the Monon Route and C.H.& D. R.R., leaving Chicago February 22, 11 p.m. Nearby friends or those en route will be welcomed with either excursion party.
“Music Hall,” Elm St., cor. 14th, Cincinnati, is one of the finest auditoriums in the world. It has been secured for eight days—Feb. 23 to Mar. 1, inclusive, except Friday afternoon and Saturday evening. The Debates will of course have full control of the hall for their six evenings—the Christian denomination people having equal rights with us—but during the remainder of the time our Society will have full possession for Convention purposes.
Ministers of various denominations and attorneys have consented to act as chairmen of the Debate sessions. Various speakers will address the Convention, Brother Russell being on the program for both Sundays, as well as in the Debates. Those who cannot personally be present will have the privilege of remembering us all at the throne of grace, and we feel sure will do so. Full reports of the Debates have been arranged for by one of the principal papers of the United States. Many orders are being received on terms mentioned in our last issue—$1 subscriptions, representing several complete reports of all the Debates. We will publish no reports of our own, believing that the public will be better satisfied as to the fairness and truthfulness of a newspaper’s stenographic report than with a specially edited report from interested parties.
RAILROAD EXCURSION RATES
The South-Eastern R.R. Association has granted excursion rates on Certificate plan. You pay full fare going and get a certificate, which, when properly signed at the Convention, secures you a return ticket at one-third of full fare.
Any party of ten can secure a concessional rate, except where the regular fare is already reduced to 2c per mile. The party fare from Pittsburg will be $6.25 each way.
Friends from considerable distances are reminded of the mileage books, which now are not usually restricted to the
*Address, Dr. L. W. Jones, 2024 Washington Blvd., Chicago.
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use of one person. On roads charging 3c per mile quite a saving can be effected by the purchase of the 1,000 mile books.
ACCOMMODATIONS AT CINCINNATI
We have effected very favorable terms with two fine hotels—$1.50 and $2.00 per day (and upward, of course). And we have secured clean lodgings in private homes at 50c per night—two in a bed. Restaurants are numerous, and their terms various. However, it would be unwise to reckon expenses less than $1.60 per day. Notify us at once of your desires.
“GOD SPEED THE TRUTH!”
Come praying, “God speed the Truth,” and as free as possible from a sectarian spirit of envy, hatred, strife, prejudice. See that the love of God is shed abroad in your heart and shines in your face.
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HE WENT ABOUT DOING GOOD
—JOHN 5:1-9.—FEBRUARY 23—
Golden Text:—“Himself took our infirmities,
and bare our sicknesses.”—Matt. 8:17.
THE records show that our Lord during his ministry wrought thirty-six miracles, separately described, and beside these many others not individually reported, but in groups. The Apostle Peter testifies of this, that he “went about doing good.” (Acts 10:38.) Some, however, gain the erroneous view that our Lord’s chief work amongst men was to heal their sicknesses. Many who hold this view argue that the chief work of the Church, as his footstep followers, should be the healing of diseases through prayer, etc. This is a serious mistake and betokens a thorough misunderstanding of the Divine Plan of the Ages. Our Lord’s mission was primarily to make the great sacrifice for sin, which was the redemption price, and to secure ultimately the release of mankind from the sentence of original sin. As an incidental feature connected with the world’s salvation through his sacrifice, he preached the good tidings and called for followers to walk in his steps and to be joint-sacrificers with him, and thus ultimately to be joint-heirs with him in the work of distributing the blessings and favor of God, secured through his death. The miracles of healing which our Lord performed were incidental to his preaching—as a means of convincing those whom he would invite that he was indeed the Son of God, the Messenger of the Covenant, the Messiah, that they might hear his message, believe it, and become his followers.
Did he heal all the sick? Did he cast out demons from all who were possessed? Did he awaken all the dead? Assuredly not. He merely gave illustrations of the divine power which he possessed, and which he declared would be manifested more fully, more completely, later on—at his second coming. Hearken to his words: “Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his [the Son of man’s] voice, and shall come forth.” Again it is written respecting our Lord’s miracles: “This beginning of miracles did Jesus...and manifested forth [in advance] his glory”—the glory and power which he will possess and exercise to the full in the time appointed of the Father. (John 5:28; 2:11.) Of that future time, when the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, St. Peter speaks, saying, “Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord [Jehovah]; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heavens must receive [retain] until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”—Acts 3:19-21.
A GREAT MULTITUDE OF IMPOTENT FOLK
These suggestions are amply confirmed by the records of our present lesson. Jesus had returned to Jerusalem on a festival occasion, when, by reason of the multitudes gathered from every part, the Jewish leaders who sought his life would think it unwise to make any demonstration against him for fear of a riotous disturbance. Near the city was a pool of water possessed of certain peculiarities, and bathing in this was reputed to be curative for some ailments. Our common version declares that an angel troubled the waters at certain times, and that it was immediately thereafter that the sick bathed to advantage. This portion, however, is not accurate, is not found in the oldest manuscripts, and is appropriately omitted from the Revised Version. It is presumed that the spring which supplied the pool was connected with a reservoir of gas, which really imparted to the water some curative property. Or possibly it was connected with a siphoning spring which overflowed at times. And the mental impressions upon the bather may have been helpful in many cases. At all events, the record is clear that a great multitude of impotent folk crowded the five porches of this pool. Their infirmities are indicated to have been something akin to rheumatism, paralysis and other muscular or nervous ailments, causing lack of vital power, withering or wasting of the muscles.
It is worthy of note that our Lord did not hunt up and cure all the diseased of Palestine, and that even when he came across them in his journeyings, as in this case, he made no effort to heal all of them. He singled out one individual who had in vain waited for an opportunity to test the virtue of the pool, and who had been ailing for thirty-eight years. Of him alone he inquired, “Wilt thou be made whole?”—Is it your desire to be healed? The answer was that he had the desire, but had not the ability to take the further steps, nor had he assistance. By these words the Lord awakened in the mind of the poor man desires, aspirations, which had almost died out. He was almost heartsick from deferred hope. Here was a stranger manifesting some interest in his case—a thoroughly new experience. We can imagine the brightening of his eyes, the
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general alertness in connection with his conversation. Thus he was prepared for our Lord’s words, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” Immediately he realized in his muscles and nerves the surging of strength and vitality, and forthwith, almost mechanically, he obeyed and went his way—too much dazed, astounded, to think of inquiring the name of his benefactor, or to offer him his thanks.
We may be inclined to think of his cure as accidental—to suppose that he was thus blessed merely because our Lord happened to pass that way and happened to see him and happened to take compassion upon him. Or we might surmise an arbitrary election in his case. However, we may assume that a still more reasonable view presents itself, viz., that this man in his affliction had been led to a repentance of sin and to a desire for harmony with God, and that as a consequence of this attitude of his heart he was specially favored of God. As corroborating this view, we find it recorded that, shortly after, Jesus found him in the Temple, praying, thanking God for his recovery—
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probably also offering a gift to the Lord as an evidence of his confession and devotion and thankfulness.
“GO AND SIN NO MORE”
We do well to take note of the broad kindness and generosity of the Master, as exemplified in this case. He did not first discuss the man’s sins and inquire respecting his repentance and his turning over of a new leaf. He did not give him the blessing of healing on condition that he would become a servant of God. He healed him and permitted him to go his way, to take his own course. It was when he had gone voluntarily to the Temple to prayer or to sacrifice, that the Lord came to him, and without chiding for the past, counselled him for the future, saying, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” (v. 14). Would that all of those who are “followers of the Lamb” might learn of the great Teacher how to forgive nobly, with generosity, and when and how to inculcate lessons of reform and admonition for the future.
“HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES”
In these words, the prophet foretold a part of our Lord’s mission. We believe that we are justified in supposing that all of our Lord’s miracles caused him a measure of self-sacrifice, loss of vitality—that he thus daily, little by little, laid down his life. We could suppose divine power granted to him in such measure that by the mere speaking of the word, at no cost to himself, any miracle could have been performed; but our Lord came not into the world merely to exhibit the divine power amongst men, it was also a part of his mission to taste of human sorrows, to learn to sympathize with the afflicted, and to lay down his life on man’s behalf. Our supposition is well borne out by the above prophecy—that he would bear our infirmities. (Matt. 8:17; Isa. 53:4.) Additionally, it is confirmed by St. Luke’s statement that “Virtue [vitality, strength] went out of him and healed them all.”—Luke 6:19.
Our Lord’s miracles are much more precious to us from this standpoint than from any other. The gift which costs nothing cannot be so highly esteemed as that which costs much; and since life is our most valuable possession, the giving of it in any sense of the word is the giving of the greatest of gifts. That the three and a half years of our Lord’s ministry did impoverish his strength is abundantly testified to: for instance, when at Jacob’s well he was wearied, but his disciples were not; and again at the close of his ministry, on the way to Calvary, when he was unable to bear his own cross, while the two thieves apparently were able to bear theirs. (John 4:6; Luke 23:26.) His weakness was not the result of inherited blemish or sin, nor the weakness of imperfection, but of sacrifice. From the beginning of his ministry he kept pouring out his life in the interest of those who had an ear to hear, and taking upon himself of the infirmities, the weaknesses, of those he healed.
HIMSELF BARE OUR SICKNESSES
We do not know that our Lord was sick with any of the ordinary maladies. His perfect organism would apparently be proof against the intrusions of special diseases. Rather it would appear that his healing of diseases merely exhausted his vitality, and thus left upon him the weight of our sicknesses. All of the sick, the afflicted of the Lord’s followers, can look up to him with a realization of his sympathy, for it is written, “In all their affliction he was afflicted.” (Isa. 63:9.) “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”; but we are not to receive the mistaken view entertained by some that our Lord bore the sicknesses of all those who would ever be his disciples, so that it would never be necessary for them to be sick or feel any pain. Quite to the contrary of this, the sicknesses which our Lord bore were those of the world, and not those of his special friends and disciples. We have no record that he healed any of his followers. The lesson therefore is to the contrary, that as he bore the infirmities and cares and griefs of others, his followers are to emulate his example and his Spirit, and from similar motives of generosity and kindness are to be burden-bearers, helpers, self-sacrificers. As the Apostle suggests, “We ought [also] to lay down our lives for the brethren.”—I John 3:16.
The Scriptures clearly show that, so far from the followers of Christ being exempted from persecution, affliction, sorrows, trials, difficulties, they are to know indeed that the Father “scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” (Heb. 12:6.) We are to understand that as it was expedient that the Master should pass through such experiences of self-denial and self-sacrifice, it is expedient also that all who would be acceptable to God as members of the Bride should be similarly touched with a feeling of the world’s infirmities, and have sufficient sympathy to voluntarily bear some of the sorrows and griefs of those about them. (Heb. 4:15.) Thus it is written, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.” (2 Tim. 2:12.) Those who anticipate that the followers of the Lamb are to be borne to Paradise
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on flowery beds of ease, and not a wave of trouble roll across their peaceful breasts, are surely mistaken. Generally they have not read aright the Master’s description of the experiences of those who would be his footstep followers, who are enjoined to take up their cross and follow him.—Mark 10:21.
SPIRITUAL INFIRMITIES AND SICKNESSES
But while we may properly enough apply the prophetic testimony to the infirmities and sicknesses of those whom Jesus healed at his first advent, we should not think of these as having the full import of the prophecy, but rather indeed as a small part thereof. What were all the sicknesses and infirmities that Jesus healed at his first advent in comparison to all the sicknesses of the twenty thousand millions of the world’s population? What was the awakening of the three from the dead in comparison to that of the mighty host which shall be brought forth from the prison-house of death, the grave? Surely there is a deeper, a wider significance to this prophecy. The infirmities and sicknesses of the whole world are part and parcel of the penalty of original sin. That penalty is death, and it rests upon the whole human family; and the infirmities with which we are born and the sicknesses acquired are merely so much of death working in our race. Our Lord bore all of this for the whole world in the sense that he by the grace of God tasted death for every man. (Heb. 2:9.) As the Apostle Paul explains, death passed upon our race as the result of sin; and hence, all being sinners, all have infirmities, sicknesses and dying conditions.—Rom. 5:12.
It is when we get this broad Scriptural view of the Divine Plan of the Ages that we find satisfaction for head and for heart, and a harmony which touches and explains every feature of the divine revelation. Through the first Adam sin, condemnation, was precipitated upon the entire human family—and his bride, mother Eve, was a participant with him in the entire matter. So in due time God provided Jesus, the Redeemer, who paid Adam’s penalty with the sacrifice of his own life. He in consequence was highly exalted to be a Prince and a Savior, a King and Restorer, a Priest upon his throne, to grant forgiveness and uplifting influences to Adam and all involved through him. And now, preparatory to that general blessing of the world in harmony with the divine plan, a Bride for Christ is being selected from amongst mankind; but before she can share with her Lord the glories of the spiritual plane, the divine nature—glory, honor and immortality—she must be tested, and the test is that she must manifest the same spirit that actuated, that controlled her Lord, the Redeemer. For this reason it is that her call is during this present evil age—that the trials, the difficulties, the sorrows, the pains attendant upon sin shall serve to test her loyalty to righteousness and her spirit of devotion and of love. Under her Redeemer’s guidance she is being taught the necessary lessons to fit and prepare her for the glorious joint-heirship. Yet nothing connected with her call is compulsory—and hence, many have been called in comparison with the few that will be chosen. Therefore, all who would make their calling and election sure must be faithful in following in the footsteps of the Redeemer, heeding carefully his counsel, and availing themselves of his assistances by the way.—Matt. 22:14; 2 Pet. 1:10.
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“GIVE YE THEM TO EAT”
—JOHN 6:1-21.—MARCH 1—
Golden Text:—“He shall feed his
flock like a shepherd.”—Isa. 40:11.
THE incidents of this lesson are accredited to the early part of the third year of our Lord’s ministry, in the spring, nearing the time of the Passover. John the Baptist had been in the prison at Macherus for about a year and had just been beheaded by King Herod. The ministry of John, followed by the ministry of Jesus, had greatly awakened the Jewish mind on the subject of the imminence of the Kingdom of Messiah. The imprisonment of John had more or less surprised and stunned the people. John himself, after being imprisoned nearly a year, had sent some of his disciples to inquire whether or not Jesus was the Messiah, whether or not he was merely the forerunner of some greater one. This was the truth: Jesus in the flesh, the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world, was merely the forerunner of the heavenly Lord,
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who, after gathering from amongst mankind his Elect Bride, will come in power and great glory and assume the reins of the world’s government for their blessing and uplifting out of sin-and-death conditions. But Jesus did not enter into an explanation of these things, because they were not meat in due season then. He contented himself with sending the message that the sick were being healed, the devils were being cast out. The good message of the Gospel was being freely preached—all that could then be done, all that was possible to do up to the time of the finishing of the sacrifice at Calvary and its acceptance on the part of Jehovah when our Lord ascended up on high to appear in the presence of God on behalf of believers—to make atonement for their sins, to effect a reconciliation for them with the Father, and to secure for them the begetting of the holy Spirit, which began at Pentecost.
Subsequently the beheading of John the Baptist spread a measure of consternation amongst those who had appreciated his ministries, including those who recognized the Lord as the Messiah. The religious sentiment of the most religious people was greatly shocked, and considerable excitement prevailed. What might not Herod do next? Would our Lord be safe? Would his apostles, those who trusted in him to save? The matter aroused greater interest and drew larger
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crowds to the preaching of Jesus, for, according to the Jewish custom, hundreds of thousands were en route to the usual Passover festival at Jerusalem. Business was practically suspended by a considerable proportion of the population, and as some departed others were coming, and thus our Lord and his apostles were kept for a time extremely busy. It should be remembered, too, that during the year of John’s imprisonment our Lord sent forth his disciples and afterward the seventy also, two by two, into various cities of Judea and Galilee, and that they preached repentance and the Kingdom of heaven at hand, and incidentally referred to their Master Jesus as the Messiah. No wonder, then, that hundreds hung upon the Master’s words and queried respecting his Messiahship, Is this indeed the very Christ, the true Messiah?
DEPARTED INTO A DESERT PLACE
It was under these circumstances that our Lord with his disciples withdrew in their boat to a desert place across a portion of the Lake of Galilee. They went not to a sandy desert, but to a desert part of the coast, away from the cities and from the large multitude which had gathered. They landed near Bethsaida, the home of Philip, one of the disciples, at the north end of the Lake. Some of the multitude were so deeply interested that, noting the direction in which the boat was steered, they traveled afoot, a considerable distance, to the same place. Other multitudes coming along the road towards Jerusalem heard also of the presence of the great Teacher in that vicinity and tarried. Presumably our Lord discoursed to them on various topics not recorded. The point of our lesson, the incidents upon which our lesson is based, occurred toward nightfall. The people evidently were so engrossed in what they heard that they were forgetful of their own physical necessities, and our Lord was also apparently neglectful in that he continued to preach to them until the disciples, realizing the situation, suggested telling the people that he would talk to them no more, that it was time for him to move on to the next village, Bethsaida, for refreshment. Apparently the people supplied their simple wants from village to village instead of carrying provisions with them.
“WHENCE SHALL WE BUY BREAD?”
We note our Lord’s wise method of instruction. He stimulated thought. Instead of sending the multitude away he proposed to Philip, whose home town was nearest and who therefore would be supposed to be best acquainted with the vicinity, that out of their common funds they would do well to purchase a free luncheon for the multitude, and inquired where the purchase could best be made. Philip was very matter-of-fact, and evidently had a good business head, replying at once, “Two hundred pennyworth [thirty-two dollars’ worth] of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.” His suggestion was that this would be a considerable sum for them to spend, and that less would do no good. The apostles all joined in this sentiment, according to Luke’s account, saying, “Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the towns and country round about and lodge, and get victuals.” Pressing the point a little closer Jesus said, They need not go away; give ye them to eat. To this the apostles remonstrated according to Mark, “Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread and give them to eat?” Is this what you wish us to do? We are ready to do it if you tell us plainly. Jesus replied, according to Mark, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” Andrew, returning from investigating and speaking for all said, “We have found a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fishes, but what are these among so many?” The loaves of that country and time were about the size of a small flat pie and very similar in shape, and the kind of fish described by the Greek word used implied very small fish like herring.
Jesus directed that these supplies be brought to him, and probably they were purchased from the boy. The process of questioning had the effect of stimulating the minds of the disciples, so that by this time, when Jesus said, Cause the multitude to sit down in ranks or rows, in groups of fifties and hundreds upon the grassy slopes, the disciples were ready to obey, even though they could not as yet comprehend fully the purpose of the command; and the confidence of the people in Jesus and his apostles is clearly manifested in the fact that at the late hour they were willing thus to be directed. They had confidence in the Lord up to the point of credulity, and their faith had its reward.
GIVING THANKS ALWAYS FOR ALL THINGS
First of all our Lord gave thanks, lifting up his eyes to heaven. What a lesson he thus set for his disciples and for the multitudes and for all since who regard him as the Sent of God. If the Master himself thus acknowledged that every good and perfect gift cometh down from the Father of Lights, how much more should all we, who by nature were children of wrath but have been reconciled through the precious blood—how much more should we remember the message, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he will direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:6.) Our blessing of the bread does not indeed increase its quantity, its bulk, but surely it does increase its value, its efficiency. The peace, the rest, the contentment which comes from a proper acknowledgment of divine mercy is of itself a good preparation for our nerves and all our energies as we partake of food. Proportionately the thankful Christian should be less troubled with nervous dyspepsia than are others of the same physical and nervous temperament. Besides this we advise that the Lord’s consecrated little ones everywhere, so far as conditions will permit, should follow the custom of the Bible House family, and break together the spiritual manna and feast thereon at the same time that they partake of the earthly food.
The Lord’s blessing was followed by the breaking of the barley loaves and fishes and the distribution of the same to the twelve apostles, who in turn delivered them to the multitude, probably through chosen representatives
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of each company of fifty and a hundred. Thus the distribution was quickly accomplished and a bountiful luncheon enjoyed. But the lesson did not end there, for our Lord instructed the apostles to take their handbags or baskets and gather the fragments, that nothing be wasted, and a sufficient supply was found to fill the twelve baskets. The miracle astonished all and especially impressed, we may be sure, the apostles. It is not for us to explain the miracle, though miracle it would still be even if we were able to explain it. It is for us to recognize that God is the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and that miracles are in operation about us every day: the seed germinates and grows, we know not how; but seed sowing and harvesting are intimately associated, and we can trace the results, but the process by which the five loaves and two fishes were so increased in bulk we cannot trace; hence we speak of this as a miracle—that is, an operation of divine power beyond our comprehension more than are the average affairs of life. It is well for us to note how little we know at best, and how many miracles are happening about us all the time. We can analyze a grain of wheat and could construct something very closely corresponding, but we could give it no life, no germ, no power to produce. We see the corn and the oats and realize that they are valuable for food for man and for beast, but it is beyond our power to comprehend their transformation into human flesh and form, as well as into the flesh and form of swine and cattle of all kinds with their various peculiarities of skin, hair, feathers, hoofs, horns, etc. These are miracles, too, but so common that we overlook them.
THE LESSON OF SUPERNATURAL POWER
A lesson which undoubtedly came to the disciples and to the multitude in connection with the miracle we are considering was that Christ had superhuman powers which attested him as Messiah, the Sent of God, for “no man can do these miracles which thou doest except God be with him.” Again, it was, especially to the apostles, a lesson of the Lord’s ability to care for them as his followers, under all circumstances, under all conditions, and this lesson continues with all of his followers since. Our Master is still able both in temporal and in spiritual matters to do for us exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask or think—“No good thing will he withhold from those that walk uprightly,” from those who are his true followers. Their best interests will be preserved and conserved. We may safely take from this matter a lesson in faith—“Greater
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is he that is on our part than all they that be against us.” As the apostles learned this lesson, the very fear of Herod and what he might do to Jesus or to them gave way, and they were ready by nightfall at the command of our Lord to return again to the vicinity of Capernaum. Jesus himself appears to have retired for secret communion with the Father. He sent the disciples before, not only as a test of their obedience, but also that he might give them a still further demonstration of the divine power which attended him. The sea was boisterous; they were delayed in reaching port, and were rowing—presumably because of contrary winds—when behold Jesus approached the ship walking upon the waters. He quieted their fears by the declaration, “It is I, be not afraid.” They received him into the ship and immediately they were at land.
Was there a picture in this experience? Did it represent the boisterous and troubled experience of the Church throughout this Gospel Age? Did it represent that at the end of the age, in the midst of a great storm, the Lord would appear to his people, and that upon being received by them their outward troubles and difficulties would completely vanish, only by reason of their fellowship with him and the grace and peace which he would give through his message, “Be not afraid”?
NOT A MISSIONARY LESSON
The committee arranging these International lessons designed and requested that this lesson should be used as a missionary lesson to the intent that the cause of foreign missions might be brought prominently to the attention of the Lord’s people everywhere. We are glad of this; we have great sympathy with every sentiment and effort looking toward the uplift of mankind out of degradation and sin into the light and the truth, and thus into harmony with God.
Many have misinterpreted our views respecting missionary work in foreign lands. We think it much to the credit of missionaries that they have been willing to leave their homes and money-making opportunities to engage in the missionary work, even though many of them have gone with full assurances of as good or better comforts than they enjoyed at home, and even though the greater part of missionary work is no more religious than is the teaching of the public schools in their home land, or the practice of medicine and hospital work done by many physicians in civilized lands. Surely the poor heathen greatly need civilizing influences, medical assistance and better education. We are glad that they are getting them.
What we object to in respect to these foreign missions is:—
(1) That the same imperfect Gospel, or mixture of truth and error, is presented to the heathen that is presented here in the home land; and (2) because the idea prevails that this is God’s method for fulfilling the item of our Lord’s prayer which declares, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” We object to this view because it is thoroughly unscriptural, and, as we have repeatedly pointed out, is thoroughly irrational. Our Post-Millennial friends, while telling us that they are striving to convert the world and thus to establish the will of God on earth even as it is done in heaven, prepare statistics which show to everybody that the number of the heathen in the year 1800 was approximately 600,000,000, and that their number today is approximately 1,200,000,000—just double. Is it not foolishness to insist on mission work from this standpoint? Let the mission work go on, but let it be viewed from the right standpoint. Who is so blind as not to be able to see that if
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the whole heathen world were converted to the same measure of civilization and Christianity as is possessed by so-called Christendom, it would still be in a wretched plight, as witness our Lord’s address to the latter in its last stage, the Laodicean period, I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, that thy nakedness do not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see, for thou art poor and miserable and blind and naked.—Rev. 3:17,18.
Let us have the right Scriptural view of matters, namely, that God during this Gospel Age is seeking a “Little Flock,” the “Very Elect,” and is gathering them from every nation, people, kindred and tongue. These are to constitute with their Lord and Bridegroom the Seed of Abraham, through whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed. Let us see that this is what the Apostle says, “If ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s Seed and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal. 3:29.) Let us see that the Kingdom is to be given to this Seed of Abraham; that Christ and his Elect Church, his Bride, are to constitute the Kings and Priests who shall reign on the earth (Rev. 5:10), and through whom, as the Melchizedek order of priesthood, every son and daughter of Adam may have fullest opportunity of attaining a full salvation from sin and from death—a full release from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God! Let us see that those who shall ultimately prove incorrigible shall not be eternally tormented, but, as the Scriptures declare, shall be “punished with everlasting destruction,” “destroyed from amongst the people!” (2 Thess. 1:9; Acts 3:23.) Those whose eyes are anointed with the unction from the Holy One to thus see the divine plan, realize well that God is not now engaged in the work of saving the world, but merely, as the Scriptures put it, “taking out of the nations a people for his name”—to bear his name, to be the Bride of Christ; and they all know that the Gospel can have no other meaning to the heathen than it has to the Christian nations.
DISCOURAGEMENTS FROM ERROR
No wonder thinking people who do not see the true plan of God in respect to the gathering of the Elect, and who have previously been zealous for the heathen under the erroneous belief that all except the converts of Christianity were doomed to an eternity of torture, are now ceasing to believe in eternal torment, and are going to the other extreme in supposing that nearly all the heathen go to heaven when they die, and that heaven has a vast slum district for their reception and education—no wonder that these are losing their zeal for foreign missions, that the money is coming proportionately more slowly, and much of it from those who are interested in the heathen from a humanitarian rather than from the religious standpoint!
It is pathetic to notice how otherwise honest and intelligent people have deceived themselves and others respecting the true situation of affairs in the world. We reproduce a diagram, published by “The Young People’s Missionary Movement,” which shows the abject darkness of the heathen, enlightened only here and there by missionary endeavors, represented by
stars. It is shown as a cause for further missionary effort. But look at the other half, represented in pure white:—
Easterns, Greek Catholics, etc......