ZWT - 1913 - R5152 thru R5372 / R5284 (225) - August 1, 1913
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VOL. XXXIV AUGUST 1 No. 15
A. D. 1913--A. M. 6041
The Peace of God..................................227
God's Emotional Nature........................227
God's Peace Compatible With Sorrow............228
Our Rich Legacy of Peace......................229
Cultivation of Unwavering Faith...............230
Why There Is Diversity Amongst God's
Doctrines More or Less Important..................231
God's Covenant at Mount Sinai.....................232
The Royal Priesthood Proffered................232
Typical of New Covenant.......................233
God's Ten Commands................................234
God's Original Law to Man.....................234
The Church and the Law........................234
Who Is My Neighbor?...............................235
Four Great Conventions............................237
An Interesting Letter.............................239
Berean Questions in Scripture Studies.............239
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
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POEMS OF DAWN
This book of 286 pages contains nearly three hundred beautiful poems of consecration and encouragement for Christians. It makes an excellent gift for any friend or relative not in the Truth, although most appreciated by the saintly. It is topically arranged, but you could not open at random and read without being refreshed, comforted, drawn nearer to God. The Karatol-bound edition is exhausted, but we still have a good supply on hand of the cloth-bound edition, 25c., and the India paper, leather bound, 50c.
We still have Prize Puzzles for judicious use. Order only so many as you can use, free. Lay a few each week on hotel writing tables and in other conspicuous places, where they will come under the eye of intelligent and good people.
BETHEL HYMNS FOR SEPTEMBER
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 September follow: (1) 235; (2) 333; (3) 128; (4) 40; (5) 163; (6) 299; (7) 272; (8) 312; (9) 330; (10) 259; (11) 112; (12) 307; (13) 109; (14) 304; (15) 249; (16) 165; (17) 15; (18) Vow; (19) 313; (20) 209; (21) 42; (22) 155; (23) 4; (24) 238; (25) 82; (26) 16; (27) 12; (28) 3; (29) 25; (30) 166.
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THE PEACE OF GOD
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."--`Phil. 4:7`.
PEACE is defined to be a state of quiet, or tranquility, freedom from disturbance or agitation--calmness, repose. Such a state of mind our text affirms of God. His is a mind tranquil, calm, undisturbed, never agitated, nor even wearied nor perplexed by any of the cares of His vast dominion. Yet this perfect peace of God, the Scriptures show, is due neither to the fact that there are no disorders in His vast domain, nor yet to any stoical indifference to pain or pleasure, but rather to that perfect poise of His glorious attributes which makes Him Master of His situation as Sovereign of the whole universe.
Have we admired the coolness and calm self-possession of a great general, such as Grant or Napoleon, in the midst of the confusion and smoke of battle? or of a great statesman, such as Gladstone or Bismarck, in the midst of national perplexities and perils? or of skilled physicians or others in critical times and places? These are only faint illustrations of the peace of self-possession and self-confidence which rules in the mind of God. He is never confused, bewildered, perplexed, anxious or care-worn, nor in the least fearful that His plans will miscarry or His purposes fail, because all power and wisdom inhere in Him.
The scope of His mighty intellect reaches to the utmost bounds of possibility, comprehends all causes and discerns with precision all effects; consequently, He knows the end from the beginning, and that, not only from philosophical principles, but also by intuition. As the Creator of all things and the originator of all law, He is thoroughly acquainted with all the intricate subtleties of physical, moral and intellectual law, so that no problem could arise the results of which are not manifest to His mind. "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all."--`I John 1:5`.
God, the Creator of all things, is also the competent Sustainer of all things. In silent grandeur, from Age to Age, the whole physical universe fulfils His will, without a suspicion of disorder or mishap; and the same Power is pledged for its sustenance throughout the eternal future.
Thus from His own vast, inherent resources of Power and Wisdom, springs the peace of God. But not from this source alone is the Divine peace; for peace is the certain concomitant of inherent goodness. God is the impersonation of every virtue and every grace; and consequently He has the blessed satisfaction and peace of conscious moral perfection as well as inherent Wisdom and Power.
GOD'S EMOTIONAL NATURE
Yet we find this peace of God coexisting with much of disorder and trouble. As a Father He shows us that He bears a father's love to all His intelligent creatures --"the whole family [of God] in Heaven and in earth"-- and that for His "pleasure they are and were created." (`Eph. 3:15`; `Rev. 4:11`.) He created them in His own likeness--with the same mental and moral attributes, so that He might have communion and fellowship with them as sons, and they with Him as a Father, that thus, in mutual fellowship and communion, the Creator and the creature might find pleasure, happiness and delight.
This likeness of God includes in all not only the same mental faculties, but also the free exercise of the same in the formation of character. A creature incapable of thus forming character would not be in God's likeness. And for the purpose of developing character, the alternative of good and evil must be placed before him. The right and the wrong principles of action must be discerned and the individual left free to his own choice in the matter, that the pleasure of God may be realized in the virtuous character resultant from the free choice of righteousness.
Since the love of God for His newly created and innocent creatures is akin to, but much stronger than, the love of an earthly parent for an innocent infant; and since that loving interest and solicitude does not grow cold as the creature advances in years, but earnestly watches for the development of the principles and fruits of righteousness, it is manifest that, like an earthly parent, God experiences the sense of either pleasure or pain, according as His free, intelligent creatures choose the right course or the wrong. Of this we are fully assured, not only by thus reasoning from the fact of His Fatherhood, but also by all of those Scriptures which speak of some things as abominable, displeasing, hateful and despicable to Him and as giving Him no pleasure; which say that His anger burns against them, and that His indignation and wrath wax hot, even to their destruction. Other Scriptures speak of His pleasure, love, joy and delight in pleasing things--in the principles of righteousness and those who obey them--the appreciation of pleasurable emotions of an opposite character, for pain
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and pleasure may properly be considered the ebb and flow of the same emotion.
These exhibitions of the mind of God indicate clearly an emotional nature in the Divine Being, of which fact we might also judge from the realization of our own emotional nature, since man was created in God's image. No, dear friends, God is not a God of stoical indifference, insensible to the emotions of pleasure and of pain; but the perfect poise of His attributes preserves the equilibrium of peace under all circumstances, whether of pain or pleasure.
GOD'S PEACE UNBROKEN BY EXTERNAL DISCORD
With this thought, then, let us consider the circumstances under which the marvelous Peace of God has been perpetually maintained. The deep-laid Plan of God in all His creative works required long aions [ages] for its accomplishment. Across the vista of ages He saw in His purpose the glory of an intelligent creation in His own likeness, established in righteousness and worthy of His gift of eternal life. He therein saw the mutual pleasure of the Creator and the creature, and with a peaceful patience He resolved to wait for the glorious consummation.
As the Plan developed and time rolled on, the free moral agency of His creatures, misused by some, was enabling them to develop evil characters. By this means discord was introduced into His family--"the family [of God] in Heaven and in earth"--all His creatures, angels and men; and the family was divided, some holding to righteousness and some choosing to do evil. But such a contingency was one of the foreseen necessities of the far reaching Plan, the glorious outcome of which, was, in the Divine judgment, worth the cost of all the trouble and loss which He foresaw.
What a dreadful thing is family discord! How a prodigal son or a wayward daughter often brings the gray hairs of the human parent down with sorrow to the grave! Ah, the Heavenly Father knows something of such sorrow; for He saw Satan, one of His sons (`Isa. 14:12`), an angel of light, fall as lightning from Heaven. (`Luke 10:18`.) For six thousand years, at least, that son has been in open, defiant rebellion against God, and most actively and viciously engaged in inciting further rebellion and wickedness. He saw many of the angels leave their first estate (`Jude 6`) and become the allies of Satan, and then He saw also the whole human race fall into sin. Did ever any human parent find such a conspiracy--so virulent and hateful--spring up in his family? Surely not!
Then God found it necessary to perform the unpleasant duties of discipline. In His Justice He must disown the disloyal sons and deal with them as enemies. Though all the while His Fatherly Love was preparing to bless the deceived and fallen ones when the purposes of redemption should restore the repentant to His favor, Love must be veiled, while only stern, relentless Justice could be manifested. This has been no happifying duty, nor has the attitude of the sinner been pleasing to Him.
Consider the Love against which these recreants sinned. Though from God cometh every good and perfect gift, His favors have been despised, His love spurned, His righteous authority conspired against and defied, His character maligned, misrepresented, made to appear odious, hateful, unrighteous and even despicable. Yet, through it all the peace of God continues, and for six thousand years He has endured this contradiction of sinners against Himself. And still, O wondrous grace! His Love abounds; and it is written that He so loved the world, even while they were yet sinners, that He gave His Only-Begotten Son to die for them; and that through Him judgment (trial) is also to be extended to those angels that fell, with the exception of Satan, the leader and instigator of the whole conspiracy--the father of lies.--`John 3:16`; `I Cor. 6:3`; `Jude 6`; `Heb. 2:14`; `Rev. 20:10,14`.
GOD'S PEACE COMPATIBLE WITH SORROW
This gift of Divine Love was another indication of the cost to our Heavenly Father of His great and marvelous Plan. Not only did He behold the fall into sin of a large proportion of His family, but their recovery cost the sacrifice of the dearest treasure of His heart, and the subjection of this beloved One to the most abject humiliation, ignominy, suffering and death. Again the illustration of a parent's love assists us in comprehending the cost of this manifestation of Jehovah's Love. With what tender and yearning emotions of Love must He have made this sacrifice of His beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased! In addition to all the graces of character manifested since the very dawn of the being of the Logos, was now added the further grace of full submission to the Divine will, even when the pathway pointed out was one of humiliation and pain.
Ah, did the Father let Him go on that errand of mercy without the slightest sensation of sorrowful emotion? Had He no appreciation of the pangs of a father's love when the arrows of death pierced the heart of His beloved Son? When our dear Lord said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death," and again, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt," did it touch no sympathetic chord in the heart of the Eternal? Yea, verily; the unfeigned love of the Father sympathetically shared the Lord's sorrow.--`Matt. 26:38,39`.
The principle taught in the Divine Word, that true love weeps with those that weep and rejoices with those who rejoice, is one which is also exemplified in the Divine character. The immortal Jehovah could not Himself die for us, His Divine nature being proof against death. And even if He could have died, there would have been no higher power to raise Him out of death. Thus all creation would have been left forever without a Governor, and only disaster and ruin could have ensued. But God could and did sacrifice at great cost to His loving, fatherly nature, the dearest treasure of His heart; and thus He manifested (`I John 4:9`) the great Love wherewith He loved His deceived and fallen creatures. If this sacrifice cost Him nothing, if it were impossible for His mind to realize any painful emotion even under such a circumstance, then the gift of His Son would be no manifestation of His Love; for that which costs nothing, manifests nothing.
Our Lord Jesus also manifested His great sympathy for the Father in the misrepresentation of His character which He has so patiently endured for ages. It was the one effort of His life to glorify the Father and to rectify among men the false impressions of His glorious character --to show to men His goodness, benevolence, love and grace, and to lead them to love the merciful God who so loved them, even while they were yet sinners, as to seek them out and to plan for their eternal salvation.
GOD'S PEACE SELF-CENTERED
Yes, there has been great commotion in the disrupted family of God--commotion in which the Lord declares He has had no pleasure (`Psa. 5:4`); but, nevertheless, the Peace of God has never been disturbed. In the full consciousness of His own moral perfection, His unerring
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Wisdom, His mighty Power, and with the fullest appreciation of Justice and the keenest and most ardent love of the beauty of holiness, patiently and peacefully, and even joyfully in the midst of tribulation, He has endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself for six thousand years.
But during the seventh millennium, according to the Divine purpose, it will be the joyful privilege of our Lord Jesus fully to manifest to all creatures in Heaven and in earth the Father's glorious character. Then will the Father rejoice in the grandeur of His finished work and in the everlasting peace and happiness of His family in Heaven and on earth, "reunited under one Head."--`Eph. 1:10`. --Diaglott.
This blessed consummation will not be realized, however, until the incorrigible fallen sons of God, disowned and disinherited because they loved unrighteousness and would not be reclaimed, shall have been cut off. This will be the last unpleasant duty of the Creator and Father of all, who positively declares that it is a sad duty, yet nevertheless one which He will have the fortitude to perform in the interests of universal righteousness and peace. Hear Him: "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?"--`Ezek. 33:11`.
Thus we see that the Peace of God is compatible with great commotion and with sorrow and pain of any kind; for it is not dependent upon outward circumstances, but upon the proper balancing of the mind and the conditions of a perfect heart. Such peace--the Peace of God--was enjoyed also by our Lord Jesus in the midst of all the turmoil and confusion of His eventful earthly life. And this brings us to the consideration of our Lord's legacy to His disciples, when He was about to leave the world, as expressed in His own words:
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth [in stinted measure or in perishable quality], give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."--`John 14:27`.
OUR LORD'S LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
Thus with abounding compassion and tenderness, did our Lord, on the last night of His earthly life, bestow upon His beloved disciples His parting blessing, His legacy of Peace. It was the richest legacy He had to bequeath, and was one of priceless value. It was the promise of that tranquility of soul, that rest and ease of mind, which He Himself possessed--the Peace of God. It was the same peace which the Father has Himself always enjoyed, even in the midst of all the commotion which the permission of evil has brought about; but it was not derived from the same source. In Jehovah this peace was self-centered; He realized in Himself the omnipotence of Power and Wisdom; while the peace of Christ was centered, not in Himself, but in God, by faith in His Wisdom, Power and Grace. So also if we would have the Peace of God, the peace of Christ--"My peace" --it must, like His, be centered in God by faith.
Yes, the peace of Christ was a priceless legacy. Yet how quickly the stormcloud of trouble, which was even then growing very dark, burst in its fury upon the heads of those very disciples to whom the words were directly addressed. It followed almost immediately the gracious bequest, and struck consternation, bewilderment, confusion, to their hearts and shook their faith from center to circumference. Then, where was the peace? While the Lord was speaking the words, the foul betrayer, Judas, was out on his murderous errand. Then followed the agony in Gethsemane, and the terror and consternation among the disciples as they began to realize the fate of their beloved Lord. Soon their almost breathless suspense deepened into more fearful forebodings as He stood alone before His merciless accusers and persecutors in the Hall of Pilate and the Court of Herod, while they were powerless to shield Him. Then came the tragic end--the horrors of the crucifixion.
WHAT HAD BECOME OF THE PEACE?
Where was the promised peace under such circumstances --when, overcome with fear and dread, they all forsook Him and fled; and when St. Peter, although anxious to defend Him, was so filled with fear that three times he denied his Lord and with cursing declared that he never knew Him? The explanation is, that the peace had not yet come; for as the Apostle Paul tells us, "Where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament [a bequest] is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth." (`Heb. 9:16,17`.) But as soon as the tragic scene was over and the cry, "It is finished," fell upon their eager ears, strange as it may seem, there is evidence that peace began to steal into their grieving hearts. The darkened heavens, the quaking earth, the rending rocks, the torn veil of the Temple--all spoke to them a message of comfort which the world could not receive.
To the world (Jews and Gentiles, both participating in the crime) the language of these events was that of Divine wrath and indignation against them. And as fear fell upon the people, and the clamor and excitement of that awful day died away, they smote upon their breasts and returned to their homes. The Roman centurion and they that were with him, fearing greatly, said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
But to the disciples of the Lord these events spoke a very different language. The cause of their blessed Master was their cause and it was God's cause. To them these supernatural demonstrations were evidences that God was not regarding this matter with indifference; and though through the veil of darkness they could not read His bright designs, in these events there was to them a whisper of hope.
Three days later hope was revived by the news of our Lord's resurrection, confirmed to them by His appearance in their midst. Again forty days later hope was strengthened by His ascension after His parting counsel and blessing and promised return, and the instructions to tarry in Jerusalem until they received the promise of the Father, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit of adoption, not many days thence--at Pentecost. Then the peace of Christ, the Lord's rich legacy, began to be realized, and the tarrying days of prayer and expectancy were days of abiding peace--peace which flowed as a river. But when on the day of Pentecost the promised Comforter came, the river of their peace found a deeper bed; and their joy knew no bounds!
"Like a river glorious is God's perfect peace,
Over all victorious in its glad increase.
Perfect; yet it floweth fuller every day;
Perfect; yet it groweth deeper all the way."
OUR RICH LEGACY OF PEACE
But not alone to the early Church was this legacy of peace bequeathed. It is the blessed inheritance of the entire Church, even to the end of the Age. The Lord showed His thought for us all on that very day, when in His prayer He said, "Neither pray I for these alone,
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but for all those who shall believe on Me through their word."--`John 17:20`.
The peace promised, observe, is not the short-lived peace of the world, which is sometimes enjoyed for a little season--while fortune smiles and friends abound and health endures, but which quickly vanishes when poverty comes in and friends go out, when health fails and death steals away the treasures of the heart. "My peace," the peace of God which Christ Himself by faith enjoyed, who, though He was rich, for our sakes became poor, who lost friend after friend, and in His last hour was forsaken by all of the few that remained--His peace endured through loss, persecution, scorn and contempt, and even amidst the agonies of the cross. This peace is something which none of the vicissitudes of the present life can destroy, and which no enemy can wrest from us.
What richer legacy could the Lord have left His beloved people? Suppose He had bent His energies during His earthly life to the accumulation of money; and that in so doing He had amassed an immense fortune to leave in the hands of His disciples wherewith to push forward the great work of the Age when He should be taken from them; money to pay the traveling expenses of the Apostles and to defray the numerous expenses incidental to the starting of the work in various places, such as the renting of lecture rooms, the payment of salaries to traveling brethren, etc., etc. How soon would it all have vanished, and how poor would be our inheritance today! "The Man of Sin" would surely have gotten hold of it in some way, and not a vestige of the legacy would have reached this end of the Age. But, blessed be God, His rich legacy of peace still abounds to His people!
The peace promised is not such as the world can always recognize and appreciate; for the possessor of it, like the Lord Himself, and like the Heavenly Father as well, may have a stormy pathway. Indeed, that it must be so to all the faithful until the purposes of God in the permission of evil are accomplished, we are distinctly forewarned, but with the assurance that through all the storms this peace shall abide--"In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in Me ye shall have peace."
FAITH THE BASIS OF PEACE
If we would know the foundation and security of this abiding peace which is able to survive the heaviest storms of life, we have only to look to the teaching and example of the Lord and the Apostles. What was it that held them so firmly and gave them such rest of mind while they suffered? It was their faith--their faith in the Love, Power and Wisdom of God. They believed that what God had promised, He was able also to perform, and that His righteous and benevolent Plan could know no failure. By the mouth of His Prophets He had declared, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure....Yea, I have spoken it and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." "The Lord of Hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?" (`Isa. 46:9-11`; `14:27`.) On the assurances of God they rested. In Him their faith was anchored; and it mattered not how fiercely the storms raged or how they were tossed by the tempests of life while their anchor still held fast to the Throne of God.
The language of our Lord's faith was, "O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee; but I have known Thee." He had been with the Father from the beginning, had realized His Love and His goodness, and had seen His Power, and had marked His righteousness and His loving kindness and Fatherly providence over all His works. And so it is written, "By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities." (`Isa. 53:11`.) The knowledge which He had of the Father gave to Him a firm footing for faith in all God's purposes concerning the future. Hence He could and did walk by faith. And that faith enabled Him to overcome all obstacles and to secure the victory even over death.
So also it is written for our instruction--"This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith"--that faith in God built, in our case, upon our Lord's testimony of the Father; and again it is written that, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." It is only through steady, unwavering faith that the peace of God--the peace of Christ--will abide with His people. While the Lord was with His disciples, and they saw in Him the manifestation of the Father, their faith was strong and they had peace in Him, as He said, "While I was in the world I kept them." But not until after He had left them was their faith anchored in God. After Pentecost they experienced the same peace that Christ had enjoyed--the blessed peace that came from a knowledge of the fact that God acknowledged them as sons and heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ, if they would continue faithfully to follow in the steps of the Redeemer.
CULTIVATION OF UNWAVERING FAITH
Herein is also the basis of our peace. No matter how fiercely the storms of life may assail us, we must never let go our anchor and allow ourselves to drift, but always remember that "the foundation of God standeth sure"; that "His Truth is our shield and buckler"; that "what He has promised He is able also to perform," notwithstanding our human imperfections and frailties; that covering these we have the imputed righteousness of Christ, our Surety and Advocate; and that "the Father Himself loveth" us, "He considereth our frame and remembereth that we are dust," and so has compassion for the sons of His Love and is very pitiful and of tender mercy. Indeed, "What more can He say than to us He hath said," to assure our faith and to steady and strengthen our hearts to patient endurance in the midst of the trials and conflicts of the narrow way of sacrifice.
There is nothing which puts the Christian at greater disadvantage in the presence of his foes than for him to let go, even temporarily, his grip upon the anchor of faith. Let him do so for a moment, and of necessity darkness begins to gather round him. He cannot see the brightness of his Father's face; for "without faith it is impossible to please God"; and while he grapples again for the anchor, the powers of darkness fiercely assail him with doubts and fears. These attacks are generally based upon his human imperfections, which he should ever bear in mind are covered by the Robe of Christ's righteousness.
If we would have the peace of God reign in our hearts, we must never let go our anchor, "nor suffer Satan's deadliest strife to beat our courage down." The language of our hearts should always be, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." With this faith the peace of God, the peace which the Master bequeathed to us, ever abides. Thus "the peace of God which passeth all understanding will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus"; for it is written again, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee."
In the midst of the Christian warfare let our hearts be cheered and our minds be stayed, not only with such assurances that all the Divine purposes shall be accomplished, but also with such promises of personal favor as these:
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord
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pitieth them that fear Him; for He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." "Can a woman forget her sucking child?...Yea, they may forget; yet will I not forget thee. Behold I have engraven thee upon the palms of My hands." "The Father Himself loveth you," and "It is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." "Such as are upright in their way are His delight." "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart"--the peace of God, even in the midst of storm and tempest.
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WHY THERE IS DIVERSITY AMONGST GOD'S PEOPLE
"Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive?"--`1 Cor. 4:7`.
WHILE it is true that all men are born with inalienable rights and privileges, yet no man is born without sin. The Scriptures very properly declare that the race in Adam was sold under Sin six thousand years ago. In this sense, therefore, we were not born free, but slaves of Sin. Neither are we born equal. No two persons are exactly alike in opportunity, talent and ability. We differ from one another. God did not create some better and some worse--some more richly endowed and some less richly endowed. We are to take the Bible statement of the origin of humanity, and understand that God made Adam perfect. All the imperfections which encumber the human race are the results of the dying process. Sin has made us all to differ, then, from the original image and likeness of God. Satan brought about this difference through Mother Eve.
In our text, however, the Apostle Paul has in mind a New Creation in Jesus Christ--a new order--amongst whose members there is a difference. Some in the Church have many talents, others, few talents; some have special talents, others have ordinary talents. But Satan is not charged with having given the greater or lesser talents to these. The Apostle says that it is God who has set the various members in the Body as it has pleased Him; and that both this setting, or apportioning, of the different members of the Body and the bringing forth of the different degrees of fruitage are manifestations of God's grace in our hearts. Thus we are made to differ from each other.
CAUSE OF DIVERSITY OF ATTAINMENTS
The matter of growth in the Holy Spirit is one that is dependent in large measure upon each one's zeal to know, to do, the will of God. We are put into the School of Christ to learn of Him. Some learn more rapidly, others less rapidly. In proportion as they learn, they have greater opportunities and blessings. All are granted a measure of the Holy Spirit--all granted some blessing. Those who are anxious to know the will of the Lord and to study it grow the more rapidly, and thus have more of the Holy Spirit. These are zealous to do the Lord's will. Their progress is not attributable wholly to themselves, but especially to the favor of God.
The Apostle goes on to say, Ye are God's workmanship; "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." We could not do this work ourselves. The power that is working in us is of God. He is preparing a glorious Temple. He has provided who shall be the chief corner-stone of this Temple, and who shall be the members of the Temple class. We could not choose the place for ourselves. But in God's providence we each responded to the call to be a living stone. The stones were first cut out of the dark quarry, and now they are being shaped and prepared for places in the glorious building.
DIVERSITY OF ANOTHER KIND
The great Master-Workman is doing a work upon us. He is chiseling and fashioning us. He is making us what we are. Consequently there is to be no boasting. There is a certain amount of personality connected with each one, however, and if there is too much cross-grain in the stone it will be abandoned. As the Apostle Peter exhorts, we are to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us in due time. The same Apostle also reminds us that we should look up to God and give Him praise for all that we have and are.--`I Pet. 5:6`; `4:11`.
We are colaborers with God. We give God the praise that He has made us to differ from our former selves, that He is making us thus to differ more every day, and that He will continue the good work as the days go by and as we seek to do His will. What have we of ourselves? Nothing! We were wholly dead through Father Adam's disobedience; we were born in this condition, having no right to everlasting life. But God has a Plan which is world-wide in its scheme of blessing. He has proffered the blessings of the highest feature of this Plan to us, and invited us to come to Him in advance of the world. And this we receive through His grace.
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DOCTRINES MORE OR LESS IMPORTANT
THERE are certain features of the doctrine of Christ which are fundamental and indispensable, and without which none would be recognized of the Lord as one of His followers. There are other features which would seem to be useful, helpful, blessed, but not fundamental--not essential to membership in the Body of Christ. The fundamentals have been enjoyed by good, saintly ones from the Day of Pentecost until now.
We, the same class now, have the same fundamentals, and are permitted to have other privileges, truths, "meat in due season," for our strengthening. These latter are not necessarily essential to our membership in the Body of Christ; otherwise our forefathers who did not have them would not have been members of Christ, and there would have been no Christ Body for centuries.
The fundamental theory of the Atonement is as follows:
(1) All men--all of Adam's children--are sinners.
(2) None can be reconciled to God without a Redeemer's sacrifice.
(3) Jesus came into the world to be that Sacrifice-- and later to apply that Ransom-price for the sins of the world.
(4) On the basis of faith in the Redeemer's work, the believer may consecrate himself to the Divine service, in acceptance of the Divine invitation, "Present your bodies a living sacrifice."
(5) So doing, the believer may--up to the time of the
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completion of the Elect number--exercise full assurance of faith that his sacrifice will be accepted of the Father; and that he will receive a share of the anointing of the Holy Spirit--the begetting.
(6) Such as meet these conditions are to be accepted as brethren in the highest sense of the term. This much would seem to have been always necessary, and more than this we believe is not necessary today. But if by reason of our favorable day we have more knowledge, we may also have corresponding trials, which our greater knowledge will offset.
Our advice to the Lord's dear people everywhere is that they put no yoke upon each other, beyond the fundamentals specified above--that otherwise they stand free, and leave each other free, and fellowship and agree as much as they can with each other.
If there be a disposition to crowd each other on more than this basic faith, and if it be considered necessary to separate in order to the progress of either of the parties, then doubtless rather than a continual contention a separation would be the wise course.
We are not criticising the views of any one. Each has a perfect right to hold whatever he believes the Bible to teach, and our views are doubtless well known to all of our readers. Briefly stated, they are as follows:
(1) That the one that sinned was Adam, and that he and all his posterity were involved.
(2) That a Redeemer was necessary, that Jesus became that Redeemer, and "gave Himself a Ransom for all."
(3) That God has invited some of the redeemed sinners --not to be the Ransom-price, nor to redeem anybody else, but--to be associates of the Redeemer, members of His Body, His Bride.
(4) The terms and conditions upon which these may have fellowship are that Jesus as the great Advocate shall accept them as His members--their flesh as His flesh-- and that He shall impute to them the share of His merit which would be coming to them as members of the Adamic race. Then they are legally justified from all the shortcomings, weaknesses and imperfections inherited by them; and their own wills and all their remaining powers and talents being consecrated, their sacrifice may be acceptable to God--as part of the Sin-Offering by the great High Priest.
(5) Sharing thus in the Redeemer's death, these are privileged to share in His life, by the First Resurrection. The Redeemer does not now make application of His merit to the world, aside from the newly-accepted and added members. He will carry out the Divine Program, and sacrifice all His members before presenting, at the end of
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the Age, the merit of His sacrifice on behalf of the sins of the whole world, and will thereby seal the New Covenant for them.
In our judgment many err in attaching too much value to the Church's sacrifice; whereas other dear brethren err, we think, in that they do not see any value in the Church's sacrifice, nor that she is permitted a share in the Master's sacrificings at all. To us it seems like the swing of the pendulum from one extreme to the other; whereas our view lies in the center, as we have stated the matter.
If after fully considering these matters, a class finds that it cannot agree, and would make better progress as two classes, we would concur in that conclusion as a wise one, as much as we would deplore the necessity of a division. Such a separation would not necessarily alienate either class from the Lord's people, nor from the Society, because both acknowledge Jesus as their Redeemer, and both acknowledge that His blood is primarily efficacious.
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GOD'S COVENANT AT MOUNT SINAI
--AUGUST 31.--`EXODUS 19:1-6`.--
"Let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God, with reverence and awe."--`Hebrews 12:28`. R.V.
TWO months after the Passover deliverance, the Israelites arrived at Mt. Sinai, but on their way they had two valuable lessons respecting God's Grace and Power. When they reached the Valley Rephidim, they were thirsty and found no water. Here Moses, in the name of the Lord, smote the rock with his rod, and from it gushed water, abundantly refreshing Israel at this time, and as a rivulet following them through much of their subsequent journey.
St. Paul, by inspiration, points out to us that that rock represented Christ, that the smiting of the rock represented the putting of Christ to a shameful death, but that only by this means is the Water of Life provided for those who desire to be the people of God. As the waters of that rock followed the Israelites, so the stream of God's favor, through the sacrifice of Christ, refreshes Christ's disciples throughout their wilderness journey.
Refreshed in body and in faith, Israel journeyed onward, but encountered new obstacles. The Amalekites, a warlike people, considered the coming of Israel as an invasion of their country, and attacked them in battle. A people used to peaceful pursuits, as the Israelites had for centuries been, would naturally be at a disadvantage in a conflict with such opponents. Yet God gave them the victory. He indicated, however, that it was not by their prowess or skill, but of His grace that they conquered.
Moses, stationed upon a high hill, lifted up his hands in prayer to God for the people. While he did so, success was theirs; but when he ceased thus to pray, the Amalekites were the victors. Perceiving this, Aaron and Hur assisted in holding up the hands of Moses until the battle terminated with success for Israel. God thus indicated that Moses was the advocate or representative of Israel, and that without him they could do nothing.
In the antitype, we realize that Spiritual Israelites have conflicts with enemies too mighty for them without the Lord's assistance. The world, the flesh and the Devil make common cause against all who are seeking the Heavenly Canaan. We who are followers of Jesus have success in our warfare only as we have Him as our Advocate --"We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous." Through Him we may come off conquerors, yea, more than merely conquerors, victors in the highest sense--"through Him who loved us and bought us with His precious blood."
THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD PROFFERED
All of God's dealings with the Israelites were in accord with His great Covenant made with Abraham, and certified with the Divine Oath--"In thee and in thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Neither Moses nor any of those who followed him could possibly have understood the full import of this great oath-bound Promise; for it is a double Promise, the spiritual portion of which was hidden until God's due time--at the First Advent. Even since then, St. Paul assures us, it is a
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hidden mystery, appreciated only by the very few. "The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence Him, and He will show them His Covenant."
The Promise is divided into three parts: (1) Abraham himself (and all the Ancient Worthies, whom he represented) was to have a share; (2) Abraham's Seed was to be the chief agent, or channel, of blessing; and (3) all the families of the earth were to be blessed as recipients of God's favor through these channels. But only by the light of the Holy Spirit during this Gospel Age are these lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the Abrahamic Covenant made manifest.
When inviting the Israelites to come out of Egypt, God did not explain the Covenant to them nor tell them which portion they might have a share in. But when they had come to Mt. Sinai, God made inquiry as to whether or not they could keep the Divine Law, and thus prove themselves eligible to the highest favor included in that Covenant.
In other words, the Lord said to them at Mt. Sinai, Are you ready now to enter into a Covenant of full consecration to do My will? You have seen how I dealt with the Egyptians in delivering you. You have seen how, ever since then, I have borne you on eagles' wings over all the trials and difficulties of your journey to this place. Have you faith? Have you loyalty? Do you wish to enter into a Covenant? "If ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My commandments, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people... and ye shall be unto Me a Kingdom of priests and an holy nation."
While the Israelites knew that they were the favored seed of Abraham, the natural heirs of the promises, it was proper that they should know also that they would be unsuitable for the Lord's use in blessing the other nations with His Law unless they themselves were able to keep that Law and to instruct others how to keep it. With this understanding, that they were ready to do the Lord's will and thus to be separated by Him to be the kings and priests of the whole world, a Law Covenant was made with them, and Moses was appointed its mediator. Whoever would keep those commandments might live forever; and in proportion as he kept them he would be entitled to earthly favors.
TYPICAL OF NEW COVENANT
St. Paul, in `Hebrews 12:18-24`, points us to the antitype of today's Study. As Israel was delivered from Pharaoh and his hosts, so ultimately all mankind is to be delivered from Satan and his hosts, the fallen angels, and from all evil influences. As the journey to the Promised Land brought the Israelites to Mt. Sinai and the Law Covenant, so the journey of God's people will ultimately bring all the willing, obedient and faithful to the antitype of Mt. Sinai; namely, Mt. Zion, God's Kingdom, for which Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom Come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in Heaven."
Meantime, Jesus has become the antitypical Moses and Leader of the people, and in harmony with Jehovah's program, He has been selecting the members, or associates and joint-heirs. St. Paul explains this to us, saying, "God gave Jesus to be the Head over the Church, which is His Body." St. Peter explains that this great antitypical Moses must be raised up from amongst the brethren first, before the blessing of Restitution can come to mankind in general.--`Acts 3:22,23,19-21`.
This entire Gospel Age has been devoted to the gathering of the members of the Christ Body. And when the last member shall have made his calling and election sure, this Age will end, and the more glorious work of the Messianic Age will begin.
SHAKE HEAVENS AND EARTH
The antitype of our lesson will be the inauguration of the New Covenant, at the Second Advent of Jesus. The basis of this new and better Covenant was completed at Calvary by our Lord's sacrifice of Himself. He has since been completing His "better sacrifices" by presenting the bodies of His saints, holy and acceptable, to God (`Rom. 12:1`). Soon the "better sacrifices" will be completed, and the greater Mediator will have been fully raised up from amongst the brethren. Then everything will be ready for the inauguration of the New Covenant, to bless the world of mankind with knowledge, and with opportunity for Restitution to earthly blessings and perfection.
St. Paul points out that this is what we are coming to --approaching--"the General Assembly and Church of the First-born," whose names are written in Heaven. He declares that we may expect an antitype of the stirring scenes mentioned in our lesson. As at Mt. Sinai the literal mountain shook, lightnings flashed, and the voice of God was heard as the sound of a great trumpet, so here the antitype will come. The great trumpet here will be
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the seventh trumpet, the trump of God. The storm and tempest and shaking here in the antitype will mean the shaking of the ecclesiastical heavens and the social, political and financial earth.
The Apostle prophetically assures us that everything shakeable will be shaken to its destruction, that only the unshakeable things will remain. That is to say, the Messianic Kingdom then to be established will completely overturn everything not in harmony with righteousness, justice and truth. This is merely a prelude to the great blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant then to be fully ushered in, for the blessing of all the families of the earth.
THE HEIRS OF THE KINGDOM
The Body of the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, of which Christ Jesus is the Head--His faithful, saintly followers-- are now being tested as respects their worthiness for so high a station. St. Paul's words in our Golden Text are very forcefully applied to these: "Let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God, with reverence and awe."
"Still o'er Earth's sky the clouds of anger roll,
And God's revenge hangs heavy on her soul;
Yet shall she rise--though first by God chastised--
In glory and in beauty then baptized.
"Yes, Earth, thou shalt arise; thy Father's aid
Shall heal the wound His chastening hand hath made;
Shall judge the proud oppressor's ruthless sway,
And burst his bonds, and cast his cords away.
"Then on your soil shall deathless verdure spring.
Break forth, ye mountains, and ye valleys, sing!
No more your thirsty rocks shall frown forlorn,
The unbeliever's jest, the heathen's scorn.
"The sultry sands shall tenfold harvests yield,
And a new Eden deck the thorny field.
E'en now we see, wide-waving o'er the land,
The mighty angel lifts his golden wand,
"Courts the bright vision of descending power,
Tells every gate and measures every tower;
And chides the tardy seals that yet detain
Thy Lion, Judah, from His destined reign."--Heber.
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GOD'S TEN COMMANDS
--SEPTEMBER 7.--`EXODUS 20:1-11`.--
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." --`Luke 10:27`.
GOD'S COVENANT with Israel at Mt. Sinai was that if they should keep perfectly the Decalogue--the Ten Commandments--they would thereby demonstrate that they were perfect men, worthy of everlasting life. Then it would be possible for them to attain the chief blessing under the Abrahamic Covenant --to become the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, through whom God had promised that He would bless the world.
St. Paul represents to us the spirit of the worthiest of the Jews, who were anxious to do God's will and to obtain the blessing, as crying out in anguish of soul, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this dead body!" Their minds were certainly alive to the promises and prospects, but their flesh was imperfect, depraved through the fall--like that of all other people. "Ye cannot do the things that ye would."--`Gal. 5:17`.
Bible students look in amazement at the simplicity of the Decalogue, and at first wonder which of its features the Jews and others were unable to perform fully, satisfactorily. The whole matter seems very simple indeed, just as it did to the Jews, until we perceive that the wonderful Law of God, represented by the Ten Commandments, has a depth of meaning not seen on the surface.
The lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the meaning of this Law were apparently seen by none until Jesus "magnified the Law and made it honorable." He says that hatred toward a brother is incipient murder, and that adulterous desire in the heart is a violation of the seventh commandment. This throws a new light on the whole matter, and explains to us why none of the Jews or Gentiles have ever been able to keep this Law, except Jesus, since the fall of Adam.
The Great Teacher also explains that the first table of the Law, appertaining to man's duties toward his Creator, means more than merely avoiding image worship and profane swearing. It means that the True God shall be recognized and have first place in the human heart. It means "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." Any division of the heart or strength or mind or soul violates this commandment.
GOD'S ORIGINAL LAW TO MAN
God's Law to man was not originally given at Mt. Sinai. Indeed, the Mt. Sinai statement of the Law was given not to mankind in general, but merely to the Jewish nation--as a statement of the terms upon which they might become God's Royal Priesthood for the blessing of all nations.
God's original Law to man was given in Eden, when man was created. God's Law was written in Adam's heart, in the sense that he was created in the Divine image --with attributes of mind and heart fully in accord with his Creator. He loved righteousness, and would have had a hatred for iniquity, had there been any to hate. But up to that time there was none.
We marvel at the change that has come, under which the children of Adam are not in God's image and do not love righteousness, but on the contrary, love sin. As the Prophet declares, "They go astray from the womb." He tells us where the change came in, saying, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; in sin did my mother conceive me."--`Psalm 51:5`.
After the fall of man, the work of degeneracy progressed so rapidly that Adam's first-born son, Cain, became a murderer. Doubtless the chagrin of Mother Eve in the loss of Eden, and in the battling with the thorns and thistles of the earth under the curse, embittered her mind, arousing anger and resentment, which marked her child. From then till now the course has been downward in general, with occasionally a well-born child less seriously marked by sin--less depraved. Still the Scriptures inform us that "there is none righteous, no, not one."
THE HOPE OF THE FUTURE
The experiences of the whole race for six thousand years forbid that we should expect that any could commend himself to God upon the terms of human perfection and of ability and willingness to keep the Divine Law. Jesus alone has kept that Law, and He, because His life was not derived from Adam--because His life was from the Father directly. He became a man by a change of nature. Because thus begotten miraculously He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners."
God refuses to grant everlasting life to any except the perfect, who will keep His law perfectly and gladly. What hope then is there for our race? There is one hope for the world in general, and another different hope for the Church of Christ, instituted at Pentecost. The hope for the world is that God in His own due time will establish the Messianic Kingdom. It will be a righteous Kingdom, its rulers and judges being the Royal Priesthood.
This Messianic Kingdom will begin by deposing the Prince of this world, and binding him for a thousand years. Speedily the iniquities of earth will be set aside, and the rule of the "rod of iron" will begin. Everything opposed to righteousness will be dashed to pieces. Instead of darkness, ignorance, superstition, doubt and fear, will come in the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. Soon it will fill the entire earth. Under its influence everything sinful will be discouraged by chastenings, and everything righteous will be encouraged by rewards of blessing. The judgments of the Lord will be abroad in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.--`Isa. 26:9`.
As a result, soon every knee will be bowing to God and every tongue confessing His praise. But all of the wilfully rebellious, lovers of sin, will be destroyed in the Second Death--"everlasting destruction." Under that administration, the world will reach again the condition of human perfection from which Adam fell. The privilege to thus return to the image of God with His Law rewritten in their hearts, was secured for all by the sacrifice at Calvary. "Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man."--`Hebrews 2:9`.
These all, being perfect again as Adam was at first, plus the experiences of good and evil gained during the seven thousand years, when finally approved of God will have everlasting life, nor be in the slightest danger of ever again mistakenly choosing sin as the road to happiness.
THE CHURCH AND THE LAW
The Church of Christ is selected from mankind, who were born in sin. The members are not put under the Law of Sinai in the sense of being required to keep it perfectly in order to get everlasting life. "Ye are not under the Law, but under grace." (`Romans 6:14`.) Nevertheless, the Law is very precious to the Church; for, looking at the spirit of it, she sees what she ought to be if perfect, sees what she ought to strive for to the best of her ability,
sees how far short of perfection she is in the flesh, and sees, additionally, how the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ covers her fleshly imperfections. So fully is all this true, that the Apostle declares that the righteousness (true import, or spirit) of the Law is fulfilled in us, who are walking not after the flesh, but after the spirit.-- `Romans 8:4`.
In other words, those who consecrate their lives to follow Jesus, sacrificing all of their earthly rights in order to do the will of God, are doing more than the Law could require. The Law required no man to lay down his life for another, but merely to love his neighbor as himself. Hence Christ and the Church, walking in the narrow way of sacrifice, are fulfilling the requirements of the spirit of the Law, and more, even though in the flesh of the Church, because of inherited weaknesses, there is no perfection. These having sacrificed the earthly nature are dealt with by the Father as New Creatures, and judged, not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit-- according to their heart intentions.
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WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
--SEPTEMBER 14.--`EXODUS 20:12-21`.--
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."--`Luke 10:27`.
THE Ten Commandments delivered to Moses were written upon two stone tablets. One bore the first four commandments, which appertain to God; the other bore the remaining six, which appertain to humanity. The essence of these last six, constituting the Study of today, was expressed in Jesus' words, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The "thou shalt nots" might be multiplied indefinitely to fit the thousands of occurrences in daily life, but the one "thou shalt" covers the entire situation. Whoever loves his neighbor will not intentionally injure him, in act, in word or in thought. Hence love expresses the full measure of the Law's requirements. (`Rom. 13:10`.) Love is at liberty to do more than the Law requires, but it cannot do less.
While only Christians are credited by the Lord with fulfilling the requirements of the Law--and they only because of the allowance made for their weaknesses on account of their relationship with Christ--nevertheless, the Jews and many others have obtained partial blessings in proportion as they have endeavored to fulfil the Divine Law. The natural man, not spirit-begotten, and therefore not a son of God, but still in alienation, receives a blessing of character-development in proportion as he recognizes the principles of righteousness and seeks to conform to them. Hence it is wise and proper at all times and before all people to lift high the Divine standards.
HONOR FATHER AND MOTHER
No matter how old, or ignorant, or stupid, or vicious, parents may be, they are deserving of consideration from their children. Yet, of course, the kind or degree of respect must depend upon the character of the parent to some extent. With disobedience to parents rank and rampant everywhere, it may seem a hard saying, but we believe it a true one, that the disobedience is due to the parent, or the guardian, of the child.
The child may have been ill-born. Discontent and rebellion in the mind of the mother during the period of gestation may have marked the child before its birth, so that no amount of training may ever fully recover it. In such a case, the parents may well be patient and long-suffering with such unhappy, disobedient dispositions in their children.
And perhaps the parents were only partially to blame; perhaps their minister preached not the laws of God, their human operation and the penalties of their violation, but instead, gave flowery essays and anecdotes containing neither food for the spiritual nature nor assistance in understanding and combating the weaknesses of the human nature. Perhaps the fault was not wholly the mother's. The father may have forgotten that he, too, had a duty toward his offspring, chiefly served by assisting his wife at the critical period to thoughts of kindness, gentleness, nobility, etc.
At any rate, the conscientious parent has a wonderful task to train the perverted child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Those who strive faithfully in this direction cannot be too much appreciated and encouraged; and more and more we should think of esteeming the parents of every noble man and woman of our acquaintance. And if strangers should appreciate the parents, much more should the child.
THE EFFECT OF SUNDAY SCHOOLS
A modern writer of considerable force and influence holds that Sunday Schools, while accomplishing good in one direction, may have done considerable harm in another --by weakening the respect of the children for their parents, and by releasing the parents from an appreciation of their responsibilities toward their children. The parents are, in the Divine arrangement, the priests of God, particularly in respect to their children. To whatever extent they shirk this responsibility, or to whatever extent the honor of this station is ignored, their influence over the child is lost; and one hour's time per week in a Sunday School class can never take the place of a continual parental supervision.
Statistics show that boys of from sixteen to twenty years of age constitute about one-third of all the dangerous criminals, and that their proportionate number is increasing. Hence all benevolent people should be on the alert for the right training of the rising generation. All should especially co-operate with the Divine commandment by urging and encouraging parental authority and obedience thereto. Long life and prosperity were the rewards promised to the Jews under this commandment.
"THOU SHALT DO NO MURDER"
Nothing in this commandment forbids the killing of animals when necessary to the interests of the human family, either to abate pests or to sustain life. Neither does it forbid the execution of criminals; for thus it would be in conflict with the Divine Law elsewhere expressed, and practised under the guidance of Moses and by Divine direction.
This commandment, however, does teach that life is to be prized, not jeopardized. The spirit of this commandment, Jesus declared, includes the thought that we are not to have an angry spirit of murder, restrained merely by fear of consequences. We may thus see that the spirit of this commandment would make it incumbent upon those who employ labor or who have any supervision of their fellowmen to take all reasonable precaution for safeguarding against accidents of any kind. To allow self-interest or a love of money to perpetuate dangerous conditions
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would be to lack the proper spirit of obedience to this command--unchristian.
COMMIT NOT ADULTERY
One result of the fall has been a depravity of the sexual appetites. The result is impurity, unchastity, a lack of self-control. All of these tendencies lead away from God, from righteousness and from true happiness. The family unit of one husband and one wife, originally established by the Almighty in Eden, seems to be a cornerstone of righteousness, in the family and in national life. Purity, no adulteration, is the Divine requirement.
"THOU SHALT NOT STEAL"
To steal is to take from another his possessions. Had not inventions in the line of electricity and steam kept pace with our increase of knowledge, the world today would be a thieves' paradise. But while buccaneering, piracy, robbery, burglary are reprobated by all intelligent people, many have a chance for a more subtle form of stealing, through stock speculations, organization of fake companies with glittering prospects, according to description, but really organized to take advantage of the less informed or weaker minded. This is stealing.
Making false returns to tax assessors is stealing. Attempt to smuggle without proper payment of customs duty is stealing. Failure to give agreed upon services for wages received is stealing. But the worst form of stealing, the one that does more harm than all the rest combined, is the one indicated in Shakespeare's words:
"Who steals my purse, steals trash,
But he who filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And leaves me poor indeed."
The Scriptural instruction to "speak evil of no man" seems to be comparatively unknown. As a result, many defile their own characters ignobly, blight the happiness of others and add to the distress of the already groaning creation.
"BEAR NO FALSE WITNESS"
In a thousand ways the spirit of this injunction may be violated, and is violated every day, not only by misrepresenting the goods we sell, or the goods we wish to buy, but in a thousand ways of slandering a neighbor.
"THOU SHALT NOT COVET"
Covetousness comes in first before the stealing, before the murdering, before the injury of slander. Covetousness is a heart disease which has to do with every other crime; for all sins have their basis in selfishness, and selfishness is covetousness. Well is this placed at the conclusion of the list. Whoever would keep the spirit of God's Law must guard his heart against covetousness.
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TRANS-CONTINENTAL CONVENTION TOUR
CONTINUED FROM OUR LAST
We left Vancouver, B.C., near midnight, June 22. Many of the dear friends accompanied us to the train, loading us with flowers and bidding us God-speed. The journey to Calgary, Alta., required a day and a half. It afforded beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains and the glaciers, at the same time giving the Editor and his stenographer opportunity for literary work.
Calgary, June 24.--We were warmly welcomed by the brethren here and greatly enjoyed fellowshiping with them in the afternoon. The great interest centered in the evening meeting, which had been well advertised. We were not disappointed in the results. Approximately 1,500 heard with the closest attention the story of the Love of God--His wonderful provision for His Elect Church on the Heavenly plane, and His Restitution provision for the non-elect world on the earthly plane.
While pointing out the blessings of the coming Age for the world of mankind, at the hands of the glorified Redeemer and the saintly Church, His Bride, we failed not to call special attention to the great privilege of the present time--the only opportunity that will ever be offered to any for attaining glory, honor, immortality and joint-heirship with the risen Master, as "partakers of the Divine nature." (`2 Pet. 1:4`.) We considered the attendance very remarkable for a week night and a religious subject. That considerable interest was developed was manifested by the fact that 270 addresses were handed in making request for literature.
Edmonton, Alta., was our next stop. It was our most northern appointment, and was our first visit to that city. Out of a total population of 55,000, the attendance at our public address included 2,000 adults; very astonishing results for a week night religious meeting. Who will say that the public has no interest in religion! More and more we are convinced that may souls are hungering because unwilling to feed upon the chaff of human speculations evolved into creeds and nonsense of the Dark Ages. The real Message of the Gospel, "good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people," has a charm, an attraction, for intelligent, thinking people. Here we had 372 addresses handed in expressing desire for further information.
We spent a pleasant time with the friends here also, and left them apparently encouraged, as we, of the Excursion party, were encouraged also by meeting them. We had another long ride to Regina, Sask. The mountain scenery was gone and, instead, we traversed vast prairies. A full day's journey afforded another good opportunity for literary work.
Regina we should have reached at 5 p.m. Our schedule at Regina was, too, a limited one. The meeting had been arranged for 8 p.m. Anxiety increased as we ascertained that the train would be an hour, and yet another, and another, late. We could not hope that an audience assembling from 7:30 to 8 o'clock would remain long under such uncertainties, especially not until 10 o'clock! We were disappointed, and wondered why the Lord had allowed matters to be so. But on arriving we were met by some of the friends who advised us that the meeting was waiting for us! Street cars and automobiles soon hurried us to the place of meeting.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Editor of the local newspaper had taken the platform in our interest; this had helped to entertain the audience during the waiting period. Already we were introduced before going on to the platform. Without preliminaries--other than a brief supplication for the Divine blessing--we proceeded with the topic announced, BEYOND THE GRAVE. Our audience numbering altogether about 800, remained to the close, 11:30 p.m., and handed in 168 requests for further information.
We considered the meeting a very remarkable manifestation of interest. The very Editor who presided explained that some time ago he had published our sermons weekly, but under certain arrangements made with him by local ministers he had discontinued them. The ministers had not been able to point out anything wrong with the sermons, but they had taken up certain slanderous misrepresentations
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regarding "Pastor Russell," and shot out at him their evil "arrows, even bitter words."--`Psa. 64:3`.
Brandon, Manitoba, was reached the next morning. It was not a favorable time for a public meeting, but was the only time at our disposal and the friends there had arranged for a public meeting at 10:30 a.m., Friday, June 27, in the Sherman Theater. We were surprised at so good an audience as 900, with 88 requests for further information handed in. For a small city, on a week-day and for a religious topic, was not that a wonderful attendance at a morning meeting? Thus it seems to us. Our Convention party constituted nearly 200 of the above number.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, was reached the same afternoon, and a public address was given at the new Convention Hall. The attendance was estimated at 3,000. Closest of attention was given and 314 requests for further information were handed to the ushers. On the next day we had quite an interesting little Convention at Odd Fellows Temple. These meetings were not advertised and were attended only by already interested Bible Students. The friends were very enthusiastic and appeared greatly to enjoy the addresses, not only from Brother Russell, but also from several of the Convention-Train party.
Saturday evening when we were leaving, many of the local Bible Students crowded about the Convention-Train of eleven cars, singing hymns to us and we to them, respecting the precious tie that binds our hearts in Christian love, and praying in song, "God be with you till we meet again!"
Sunday, June 29, brought us to Minneapolis for the afternoon meeting and to St. Paul, the sister city, for the night meeting. A wave of hot weather met us there and much decreased the attendance at both meetings. In the afternoon we had approximately 1,200; in the evening about 900--a phenomenal attendance for such extremely sultry weather. We were not discouraged, nor were the dear friends who had worked very earnestly and faithfully, expecting cooler weather, in which event the attendance at these meetings would have been at least 3,000; 290 requests for further information were handed to the ushers.
At midnight we left for the Madison, Wisconsin, Eight-Day Convention; a car-load of Minneapolis and St. Paul friends accompanied us. We stopped but one day at Madison, and then the Convention-Train made its next appointment at Rockford, Illinois. Here, approximately 1,000 of the public gave us the closest attention, after we had been introduced by His Honor, the Mayor. Requests for further information here handed in, numbered 74. The Convention-Train then returned to Madison, terminating thus our Trans-Continental Convention Tour.
Almost the entire party declared that Dr. L. W. Jones, the conductor and manager of the Excursion and train, deserved great credit for the way in which he handled every detail of the trip. They agreed, as with one voice,
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that the Convention Tour had been one of the greatest events of their lives--spiritual from first to last. Their association with the dear friends at different points on the way had done them good, and their endeavors put forth to refresh and encourage others had also done them good.
The Editor expressed to Dr. Jones special thanks for his many kindnesses en route--among other things, putting at his disposal for the entire journey a most comfortable compartment. This latter not only conduced to rest and refreshment as to sleeping, but the better enabled him to utilize his time in dictation during the journey. And for all this the doctor refused to receive compensation, declaring that it was a privilege to be thus permitted to serve the Lord's Cause.
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FOUR GREAT CONVENTIONS
We believe that the result stamps approval on the method adopted this year of having a number of Conventions, instead of one or two. We have already reported General Conventions at Pertle Springs, Missouri; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Los Angeles, California, and San Francisco, California. They were all large enough to be good, deeply interesting, spiritual, profitable. The four we are now reporting, being more favorably located as respects population and railroad facilities, had larger attendance, yet were not too large for comfort, and afforded abundant opportunities for social entertainment and spiritual fellowship.
MADISON, WISCONSIN, JUNE 29-JULY 6
The Madison Convention seemed to be greatly enjoyed by all in attendance--about 1,400. We have never had a Convention more comfortably situated than was this. Madison itself is a beautiful little city, surrounded by small lakes. The Convention grounds being just across one of these lakes from the city, were in every way ideal. Little gasoline launches conveyed the Conventioners to and from the grounds, which were supplied with a fine auditorium, well adapted for Convention purposes. The auditorium is owned by the city, and was placed at our disposal, gratis, when the invitation to hold the Convention at Madison was given.
Following the custom of the last few years, we avoided evening meetings. The full day was spent in Convention, with merely an adjournment for luncheon, which was supplied nearby at moderate price. There were about six addresses daily, during the Convention--eight days. The public doubtless wondered at the enthusiasm of the friends --as they always do--not knowing, generally, what it means to have a real live religion; one which has for its center and inspiration "exceeding great and precious promises," from an exceedingly wise, all-powerful, just and loving God.
Brother W. E. Van Amburgh served as chairman during the entire eight days' Convention. The Conventioners surely had a grand, though quiet season of spiritual refreshment. There were no side attractions or disturbances. Every day was a quiet, joyful, happy Sabbath, and there was surely a "feast of fat things." The evenings were spent in the city with the parties with whom the friends were lodged. Some were invited to go out with their hosts for a boat ride on the lake; some took automobile rides; others went to give Chart Talks and explain the Divine Plan. Still others of the friends visited with each other, renewing former acquaintances and cementing new friendships.
We heard some very complimentary remarks passed in respect to the Conventioners. The owner of the gasoline launches was heard to say that there never had been such a Convention there before. Some of those who entertained the friends, meeting the sisters who had engaged the rooms, thanked them for sending such nice people, and said they had appreciated them much. Surely this was only as it should have been. As the Apostle Peter questioned, "What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy living and Godliness?"
If those who have a true knowledge of God and who have consecrated their lives to the service of righteousness,
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and to opposition of iniquity do not manifest the fruits of the Spirit--meekness, gentleness, patience, longsuffering, brotherly kindness, love--then where, pray, should we expect to find these graces exemplified?
Those who attended the Madison Convention unanimously declared it to be the "best ever!" Yet this is the same general sentiment attaching to our Conventions. The last always seems to be the best. And why should it not really be so? If the Lord's people are growing in grace, knowledge and love daily, as we trust is the case, then each Convention should be a little better than its predecessor.
SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS, JULY 13-20
Brother J. F. Rutherford served as chairman during the eight delightful days of this Convention. The list of speakers was excellent, numbering in all about forty. Several dear friends were heard to remark that this was the "sweetest" Convention they had ever attended, in that everything passed off so quietly, comfortably, happily. Our comfortable meeting place undoubtedly contributed greatly to the charm of this Convention. The city of Springfield invited the Conventioners to be their guests, and placed at the disposal of our Association for the period of their sojourn their elegant new Auditorium, just finished. It is handsomely decorated in white and gold, is spacious and the acoustics are good.
Our Convention attendance averaged about 2,000, the Sunday service running the attendance up to 2,400 or 3,000. The Convention proper, without the public, numbered about 1,800. The majority of the Bethel family attended this Convention and were the guests of the Springfield Class of I.B.S.A. Thus being left free, the Bethelites had all the better opportunity for rendering service to others. But, indeed, this spirit of service seemed to pervade all the dear friends in attendance. Each seemed on the lookout to see in what manner he or she could serve others and make them more happy or more comfortable. As a result, all were happy. A sweet spirit of peace and order prevailed, which reminds us very much of the Great Convention which we are all hoping soon to attend.
Although the Convention Hall is in the very center of the city, it is so roomy and of such excellent construction that it was pleasantly cool and was in every way a delightful place for a Convention. The people of this city treated us very cordially, although not very many of them attended our meetings, of course; nor did we expect them so to do. These Conventions are particularly intended to give opportunity for Bible Students to become specially acquainted with each other, with their Bibles and with its great and glorious Plan of salvation, which more and more appeals to their hearts, and assists them in making their calling and election sure.
TORONTO, ONTARIO, CONVENTION, JULY 20-27
We have had a Convention in Toronto before. Indeed, the city, so far as respects the attendance of our Canadian brethren, is very centrally located. Favorable railroad rates are always granted. This year's Convention surprised us by its size--about 1,200. We had not expected nearly so many when the appointment was made. Of this number about one-half were from the United States, the friends taking advantage of some of the low priced excursions.
Notwithstanding certain adverse conditions, stirred up by those Scripturally termed "sons of Belial," the Convention was in every way a success. If some of the public had their minds poisoned by slanderous misrepresentations and were thus hindered from availing themselves of the opportunity of sharing the blessed privileges afforded them, others, we are sure, were profited thereby. Some attended this Convention largely because they perceived that an evil spirit of slander and misrepresentation was for some reason endeavoring to do injury to a religious work. Satan and his blinded and misguided servants overdo in their endeavors to injure the Lord's cause. Sometimes the Lord overrules the wrath of man for His own praise and for the forwarding of the Truth. As for instance, in the case of a man who, being told that Pastor Russell was Antichrist, went to see what Antichrist might look like. Hearing the joyful Message of the Gospel, his heart was captured and now he rejoices.
Brother A. I. Ritchie served as the chairman of the Toronto Convention. A strong corps of speakers was provided, and the more than forty addresses at the Convention were up to a high standard, both for grace and truth, spirituality and power. That "It is good to be here" was surely the sentiment of many hearts; and the season of refreshing undoubtedly provided blessings not only for those in attendance at the Convention, but for other thousands at their homes, upon whom doubtless was poured forth a share of the blessings. The Lord arranges it so that those who give out to others grace and truth received by themselves have an increased supply, even as with the widow's cruse of oil.
ASHEVILLE, N.C., CONVENTION, JULY 20-27
All in attendance at the Asheville Convention will surely agree that the Auditorium so kindly placed by the city at the disposal of the Association furnished a delightful Convention hall. Situated high up in the mountains, Asheville has a delightful climate greatly enjoyed by the visitors, who were estimated at 1,200, the larger attendance at the public meeting being principally made up of people from the city and immediate vicinity. The railroads gave us specially good terms, as gradually they are
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learning that our Conventions are quite worth their while --larger than the majority of Conventions and always up to advance statements.
If some of our enemies did seek to poison the minds of the public in advance, the prejudice easily broke down as the hosts became acquainted with their visitors. There is a power to the Truth, and it gives the spirit of a sound mind, which surely commends itself to all thinking people. It gives moderation, meekness, gentleness, brotherly kindness, love. These graces of the Spirit are growing, developing, ripening amongst the Lord's people, and proportionately their influence is stronger, deeper, better. We feel sure that the people of Asheville have received a quiet testimony from their visitors which will be helpful to them, just as at the other Convention places. We feel confident, too, that the inhabitants in all these places would make us very welcome should we desire to return at a future time.
This Convention was a model one in every respect. Brother C. J. Woodworth served as chairman, and a fine corps of speakers gave, approximately, fifty addresses. They were spiritual, Biblical, uplifting. The hearers were certainly refreshed, and undoubtedly carried with them to their homes a blessing to be poured in turn upon those who were not privileged to be in attendance.
As was expected from the first, it was especially a Southern Convention. It gave opportunity for some of the dear friends, who had never before had such a privilege, to attend a Convention. Indeed this was true respecting all of this year's Conventions. On the whole we feel sure that the Father was glorified, that the Savior was honored, and that many of His followers were refreshed, as Bible Students, in grace, knowledge and Truth.
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The Editor remarked that at one Convention this year he shook hands with three men the same day, who at one time in their lives had been sadly blinded and were under the control of the Adversary. Now they were all clothed in their right minds--safe and sane, saints, jewels, children of the Highest. Two of them are Church Elders and leaders of Berean Bible Study classes; the third may be one also, but of this we are not positive.
The brief history of these three men shows the transforming power of the Truth. One was a highway robber. The Truth reached him in prison. Another was an Atheist and his wife a Catholic. He kept a liquor saloon in connection with a railroad contractor's gang. The third was also at one time a saloon keeper and his wife was a Catholic. The wives of all three are with them fully in the Truth.
"It may not come to us as we have thought,
The blessed consciousness of sins forgiven;
We may not hear a voice that shall proclaim
Our title clear to the sweet rest of Heaven.
"But like the winter merging into spring,
Or gently as the trees put forth their leaves,
May come to us the impulse of that life
Which God bestows on those sin truly grieves."
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AN INTERESTING LETTER
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
When passing through Dayton the other day, I was delayed in the station long enough to serve the people going out on two trains. With one or two exceptions all seemed very glad to get the BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY. The thought occurred to me, Why could not every station in the large and small cities in the country be served at every train time? In some of the cities I have observed Methodist Deaconesses rendering assistance to incoming and outgoing passengers. Maybe railroad companies would grant such privileges to Deaconesses of the I.B.S.A.?
When at __________ last winter, Sister __________ told me about the successful work done at a booth conducted by the I.B.S.A. at the big Fair held in that city. The booth was rented at a nominal sum and was under the immediate charge of that very zealous and clever Sister. The booth was made very attractive by great piles of SCRIPTURE STUDIES in the various bindings, Mannas in many styles, Bibles galore and Tracts treating a variety of subjects. In this way everybody entering the Fair grounds could be served with some memento of the I.B.S.A. Would it not be a good thing if every Fair in the country could have an I.B.S.A. booth, conducted by either a local or a nearby class or by some representative of your selection?
I am still serving the trains with good success. Conductors have occasionally objected, saying something like this: "A rule of the company prohibits the distribution of advertising matter on trains." A ready reply to this effect, has with one or two exceptions silenced the objection: "This is not advertising matter--it is a little religious paper." I have always gone on then, as if that settled the matter. The opposition of one of the two hardest conductors I have run up against was turned into friendly support when he observed my zeal in getting out at every station in a run of over 100 miles on a local train. I gained the impression, from a very fine conversation I had with him toward the end of the journey, that he had sneakingly read something he liked in one of the Tracts. My stop was the end of his run and he invited me to his hotel to have supper.
Much love and many prayers for you and for all the Madison Conventioners. In His dear name,
R. H. HIRSH.
BEREAN QUESTIONS IN SCRIPTURE STUDIES
Series VI., Study XV.
THE FOES AND BESETMENTS OF THE NEW CREATION
Read p. 642 to p. 646, par. 1.
LOVE RIGHTEOUSNESS--HATE INIQUITY
(62) How shall we understand the philosophy of God's dealings with the New Creation in subjecting them to such peculiar and fiery trials? P. 642; P. 643, par. 1.
(63) What illustration in nature may help us to understand God's providential dealings with the New Creation, and what hope have we in the ultimate overthrow of evil when it has served the Divine purpose? P. 643, par. 2.
(64) What special purpose have sin and sickness served in the case of the world, as well as in that of our Lord and His "little flock"? P. 644, par. 1.
(65) Since the New Creation was typified by natural Israel in many respects, why should they not expect to be free from the trials and difficulties of the world, even as Israel escaped them? P. 645, par. 1.
(66) What special consolation do the Scriptures offer New Creatures who suffer divers afflictions and fiery trials? P. 646, par. 1.
Read p. 647 to p. 654, inclusive.
(67) Should our confidence in the Lord's protecting care lead us into indifference with regard to temporal matters? And how should we examine ourselves when physical or financial calamities come upon us in spite of our best endeavors? Pp. 647, 648.
(68) How may we prove that the Scripture, "Who healeth all thy diseases," (`Psa. 103:3`) does not apply to physical diseases of the New Creation? P. 648, par. 1.
(69) How does the foregoing harmonize with `Mark 16:9-20`? P. 649, par. 1.
(70) What were the experiences of our Lord and the Apostles with respect to physical infirmities? Pp. 650 to 652, bottom of page.
(71) Do we have any record of the Apostles' using Divine Power for their own relief or that of other consecrated followers of Christ? How should we accept and follow their example? Pp. 653, 654.
Read p. 654 to p. 657, par. 1.
THE NOMINAL CHURCH AS AN ADVERSARY OF THE NEW CREATION
(72) How is the Nominal Church distinguished from the True Church of Christ? P. 654.
(73) Is a wide difference between these two classes disadvantageous or beneficial to the True Church? P. 655, par. 1.
(74) What has always been the position of the truly consecrated while in the nominal systems, and what service has "Babylon" rendered unto these? P. 655, par. 2.
(75) In what manner is the New Creation continually subject to temptation from the Nominal Church? P. 656, par. 1.
THE ARMOR OF GOD
(76) What is the exhortation of the Apostle with respect to the Armor of God? What is this armor, and why is it necessary to put on "the whole armor" in the present day? P. 657, par. 1.
Read p. 657, par. 2, to p. 658, par. 2.
(77) What does the Girdle represent? P. 657, par. 2.
(78) What does the Breastplate signify? P. 657, par. 3.
(79) What do the Sandals represent? P. 657, par. 4.
(80) What is the Shield, and why is it absolutely indispensable? P. 657, par. 5.
(81) What is the Helmet of Salvation, and why is it so especially important in this day? P. 658, par. 1.
(82) What is the only piece of offensive armor possessed by the New Creation? And how can it be obtained and used? P. 658, par. 2.