ZWT - 1916 - R5821 thru R6024 / R5909 (177) - June 15, 1916
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VOL. XXXVII. JUNE 15 No. 12
A.D. 1916--A.M. 6044
How the Great Apostasy Will Be Overruled 179
Sin's Rapid Development to the Flood 179
Satan's Evil Work Continued . . 179
Gradual Rise of the Papacy . . 181
Work of Reformation--"A Little Help" 181
"They Go From Strength to Strength" . 182
Daily Self-Examination Necessary . 183
Blessed Results of Spirit's Infilling 183
St. Paul at Thessalonica and Berea. . 184
"Turning the World Upside Down" . 185
The Thessalonian Christians . . . 186
"Them That Sleep In Jesus". . . 187
"In Jesus" vs. "In Christ". . . 188
Our Lord's Inspiring Promise . . . 189
Summer Conventions of Bible Students . 189
Interesting Letters . . . . . 190
Consider One Another in Love . . 190
Re Love the Sum of All Graces . . 191
Letters From French Brethren . . 191
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
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Many of our readers got phonographs from us in connection with the "Eureka Drama" and the "Family Outfits." We have had considerable difficulty for the past eight months in filling orders. The demand for phonographs has been so great of late that all the manufacturers are behind with their orders. They give their special attention to the finer and costlier instruments. The cheaper ones for which there is the larger demand, are nearly always "out of stock."
In the Lord's providence we have made arrangements for obtaining a phonograph of up-to-date model, which we are enabled to supply to our readers at what are known as jobbers' prices--less than the wholesale prices. The retail prices are $25.00, $50.00, and $100.00. The wholesale prices are just one-half of the retail prices. The jobbers' prices at which we are permitted to supply WATCH TOWER readers are still less-- namely, one-third the retail price--$8.33, $16.67, and $33.33.
The "A" Angelophone, which would cost our readers but $8.33, is of very neat design and of good, full size, quite artistic looking. The spring is strong enough to run the record without rewinding.
The "B" Angelophone is still larger, more handsomely covered, and has a double-spring motor with worm-gear.
The "C" Angelophone is still more handsome in appearance, with a cabinet case and lid, double-spring motors, worm gear, etc. All are rosewood-stained and varnished. All are supplied with excellent tone-arms and sound-boxes--and the latter is so arranged as to play any kind of record--Columbia, Victor, Pathe, Edison, etc.
The name Angelophone signifies "The Angel Voice." Very appropriately, the manufacturers are preparing a large selection of religious music. This, however, is not yet on sale. We will announce it later.
Any of our readers desiring to purchase at above prices may address their orders:
THE ANGELICO, c/o I.B.S.A., 122 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, N.Y.
SCRIPTURE STUDIES AND SCENARIOS--VARIOUS
For the information of our readers we give below a list of the languages into which the various volumes of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES have been translated. Most of these can be supplied from the head office at Brooklyn.
Volume I. In English, German, Swedish, Dano-Norwegian, Italian, French, Greek, Hungarian, Spanish, Polish, Hollandish, Finnish, Arabic, Slovak, Rumanian, Armenian, Lettish, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. We have also the English Braille, American Braille and New York Point.
Volume II. In English, German, Swedish, Finnish and Dano-Norwegian.
Volume III. In English, German, Swedish, Finnish and Dano-Norwegian.
Volume IV. In English, German, Swedish, Finnish and Dano-Norwegian.
Volume V. In English, German, Swedish, Finnish and Dano-Norwegian.
Volume VI. English, German, Swedish, Finnish, Greek,
The PHOTO-DRAMA SCENARIO is supplied in Spanish, Italian, Greek, Polish, Armenian, German, Finnish, Swedish and English, in one or more styles of binding. See WATCH TOWER, October 1, 1915, for prices and styles of binding.
I.B.S.A. BEREAN BIBLE STUDIES
MONTH OF JULY
MANUAL ON SERIES THIRD
"STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES"
STUDY VI.--"THE WORK OF THE HARVEST"
Week of July 2...Q. 57 to 63 Week of July 16...Q. 71 to 77 Week of July 9...Q. 64 to 70 Week of July 23...Q. 78 to 84 Week of July 30..Q. 85 to 92
Question Manual on Vol. III., STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, 5c each; or 50c per dozen, postpaid.
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HOW THE GREAT APOSTASY WILL BE OVERRULED
"They received not the love of the Truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be judged who believed not the Truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." --`2 Thessalonians 2:10-12` Rev. Ver.
THE Bible Helps of our day are so numerous and accessible, and the words in the original Scriptures translated Hell, so clearly shown in these Helps, that there is no reason why an honest student of the Word of God may not see clearly what the Bible teaches on this subject. We are not to lay upon our God the responsibility for the erroneous thought on the subject of future punishment; for He is not the Author of sin or darkness or error in any form. All His work is perfect; He is "righteous altogether," His name is LOVE. Such being the case He would never create any being to torture it forever. Nor does the responsibility for doctrinal error rest entirely upon humanity, who have no doubt been more ignorant than wilful in respect to this error of doctrine, though there seems to have been a measure of wilfulness on the part of mankind.
The Apostle Paul, in the `first chapter of Romans`, declares that when men knew God, they worshiped Him not as God, and did not wish to retain the knowledge of Him in their minds, but willingly departed from Him. (`Romans 1:18-28`.) This same Apostle elsewhere assures us that "the god of this world," "the prince of this world," Satan, who fell from his holy estate and became the Adversary of God through unholy ambition, has blinded the minds of mankind. (`2 Corinthians 4:4`; `John 12:31`; `14:30`.) He is the great Deceiver, of whom the Lord said, "He was a murderer from the beginning [of man's creation] and abode not in the Truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it."--`John 8:44`.
Again the Master declared in Revelation, when telling us about the consummation of the Gospel Age and the inauguration of the Age to follow, that at that time Satan should be bound for a thousand years, that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years were finished--thus intimating that prior to that time the people of the world had been deceived by him right along. Satan started his lies very early. His first great lie was told to our Mother Eve, away back in Eden. (`Genesis 3:4,5`; `2 Corinthians 11:3`.) The lie that he told to Mother Eve he has ever since very assiduously propagated; namely, "Ye shall not surely die"--God has deceived you; nobody dies; what is called death is only the dropping off of the mortal body as of a worn-out dress; merely the passing into another form of life--a more desirable change. But the Bible has all the while been assuring us that death is a reality, that death means death.
SIN'S RAPID DEVELOPMENT UP TO THE FLOOD
There is an irreconcilable conflict between the words of Satan and the declaration of God. But God has permitted man to a large extent to go his own way, just as St. Paul intimates in Romans, already cited. Mankind did not desire to retain God in their knowledge, so for a time He has permitted them to work all manner of uncleanness. (`Romans 1:28-32`.) But while He has allowed the world liberty in regard to their own wills, nevertheless He has not abandoned them. From the beginning God has purposed that in due time, after mankind have learned the needed lesson, they shall be delivered from sin and death--"whosoever will." For the time being
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He has permitted them to take their choice as to whether they would give heed to the voice of conscience still to some extent remaining in man, whether they would listen to His word of instruction, so far as they were able to know it, or whether they preferred the words of Satan and the promptings of evil. The great majority have followed Satan, the opponent of God.
The Adversary has propagated his falsehoods and deceptions in order to oppose God and righteousness. He succeeded so well from the start that in 1656 years from the creation of our first parents in Eden, many of the holy angels had fallen and had joined him in the debauchery of mankind. (`Genesis 6:1-5`.) Eventually the world became so full of corruption that God destroyed all of humanity from the face of the earth, including the unlawful progeny of the fallen angels, and began anew the propagation of the human race from Noah and his family, who had remained untainted--"perfect in his generation." --`Genesis 6:1-22`.
SATAN'S EVIL WORK CONTINUED
But soon Satan again got in his evil work, so that in Abraham's day, only a few centuries later, the whole world was again corrupted by idolatry and sin. Evil spirits--the fallen angels--denied by the Lord after the Deluge the power of materialization in human bodies, continued their deceptions by using human beings as mediums of communication with men, either by developing in them powers of clairvoyance, clairaudience, guiding their hands to write, etc., or by taking actual possession of their bodies and using these as if their own. All this has been done by Satan and the other fallen spirits over whom he made himself prince (`Ephesians 2:2`; `6:12`), in order to prove to
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mankind that God had deceived them and falsified in His pronouncement of a sentence of death upon the father of the human race, to effect as well all his offspring. They wished to make men believe that people who had gone into death were not dead--that they had not ceased to be --but were more alive than before.
This gigantic falsehood has greatly hindered mankind from seeing the Truth and the real facts of the case. God has all along been Master of the situation to the fullest extent, but has been permitting Satan and His legions to thus exercise power over the rebellious race that He may ultimately teach a lesson to both men and angels.
Four hundred and twenty-seven years after the great Deluge, God called Abraham, and after testing his loyalty and obedience, made a covenant with him, as a reward for faithfulness, to the effect that in his Seed all the families of the earth should ultimately be blessed. In due time, the descendants of Jacob, Abraham's grandson, were chosen to be the special people of God, under the terms of the Law Covenant. These people were used to picture forth in types God's great Plan for the salvation of all mankind. They were to be a separate people from the other nations of the earth.
Although God established a special Covenant with the nation of Israel, and they promised full obedience to His Law, yet they became, like the nations about them, idolatrous, and sought after wizards, witches, and necromancers, mediums of the fallen spirits. This became so pronounced that God commanded that any amongst them who became such a medium should be put to death. They had agreed to be the people of God, and He had warned them to be on guard against these evil spirits.
In the days of our Lord, these fallen spirits had intruded to such an extent in Israel that many of His miracles were for the healing and deliverance of those afflicted of the Devil, possessed by one or more of these wicked demons, and thus rendered insane. Israel had become to a considerable extent affected by the false doctrines of paganism, this being especially true of certain parties among the ruling class. The Sadducees were infidels, materialists, denying totally the resurrection of the dead and believing in neither angels nor spirits. The mental afflictions and confusion of mind amongst the people seemed more widespread even than were bodily diseases. In the time of our Lord, Grecian philosophy had attained great prominence, notably the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. Thus was Satan's great lie, "Thou shalt not surely die," prospered. Like all Gentile nations, Greece had many gods, divinities; and thus were the Greeks worshipers of devils, fallen angels.--`Deuteronomy 32:16,17`; `Psalm 106:34-38`; `1 Cor. 10:19,20`.
JEWISH NATION UNWORTHY, CALL GOES TO GENTILES
Because of the world-wide prominence of the Greek language, Greek philosophy, "science falsely so-called" (`1 Timothy 6:20`), had become entrenched in the minds of thinking people generally. This was true to quite a degree even in Palestine. Only to Israel had God sent His Law and given His prophecies. To them He had said, "You only have I known [recognized] of all the families of the earth." (`Amos 3:2`.) When Jesus came, He said, If you had received the witness of John, you would have been ready to be My disciples. Many of the Jews had merely a form of godliness. They thought God would save them by the Law whether or no. But Jesus told them that they should not boast that they had Abraham for their Father, for God was able even of the stones about them to raise up children to Abraham. He assured them that God would find a worthy Seed of Abraham.
The work of Jesus during His ministry was the starting of this new Seed. Jesus Himself was the Head of this Seed. The special work of the entire Gospel Age has been the calling and preparing of this Spiritual Seed of Abraham. The promise was first to the Jews, but since they did not prove worthy as a nation, God, after taking out the faithful "remnant" from that people, turned to the Gentiles, to take out from them a sufficient number to complete the foreordained 144,000 to comprise this Seed, the Church of Christ, the members of His Body. After the accomplishment of this work, Christ, who would then be present in the world the second time, would again visit the natural seed of Abraham, for their enlightenment and blessing. But this blessing would come to them through the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, the faithful Seed.
Our Lord, in the parable of the Wheat and Tares, shows that of those who would constitute, nominally, the Spiritual Seed, there would likewise be but a faithful "remnant" who would prove worthy to be exalted to reign with Christ; and that the remainder, like the majority of the natural seed, would lose this great favor. The words of the Apostle Paul have proven true, that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
SATAN SOWED TARES IN THE WHEAT-FIELD
In this parable Jesus showed how after the Apostles had fallen asleep the great Adversary, Satan, would come and sow "tare" seed in God's wheat-field, the Church. This tare seed would spring up and bring forth "tares," imitation "wheat," who would associate with the true Church and count themselves as of the Elect. They would consider themselves as real "wheat," In the parable, the servants are shown as coming to the Master and asking Him whether they should root up the tares from among the wheat. But the Master replied that they should not then do this, lest, in pulling up the tares, they might also root up the wheat. He bade them let both grow together until the time of "Harvest," when He would again be present and would say to the reapers, "Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them into bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into My barn." The field was really a wheat-field always; the tares had no right there.
This indicated a separating work to come in the end of the Gospel Age, in the time called by our Lord the "Harvest." The "field" in the parable, as Jesus said, represented the world, the masses of mankind. This evil seed which Satan sowed in the wheat-field was largely the Greek philosophies. Prior to this time, when the persecutions of Nero and, later, Diocletian, Roman emperors, came upon the growing Church, there was a faithful company of disciples, which had held firmly to the Truth and were loyal to Christ; and they endured much hardness, many of them even unto death by violence.
But later came prosperity and freedom from persecution, and this proved the downfall of many. The Church attracted the attention of the Greek philosophers. They said, "You Christians teach much that is good. Your teacher Jesus was a great man, a great philosopher. But we also have great philosophers and teachers. We would like to come in with you, but in order to do that we must all be broad-minded; none of us must be narrow. We must each be able to see the great truths of the others. Socrates and Plato and others of our great teachers taught the doctrine of a future life long before Jesus was born."
So the Christians thought it would be fine if all the Gentiles could be united in religion. Thus the majority gradually worked in with the Greek philosophers and fraternized with them. Numbers of the adherents of paganism made a profession of Christianity, being reinforced.
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later by many others from the more northern tribes of Europe, these all joining some of their heathen philosophies and theories with Christianity.
GRADUAL RISE OF THE PAPACY
Thus it came about that the poisonous draught was mixed which was poured into the "golden cup" of Truth, and held out to the world by the apostate "Woman," the professed Church of God. And she "made all nations drunk with the wine of her fornication." (`Jeremiah 51:6-13`; `Revelation 17:1-5,15`.) As error spread and the spirit of ambition gradually superseded the spirit of humility and loyalty to God, bringing the desire to avoid suffering and to be esteemed of men, the Church, as conditions
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favored her advancement, organized herself as the Papal hierarchy. The Bishop of Rome was declared Pope, and claimed to represent our Lord Jesus to the Church and to the world. The Pope sat upon a throne of glory and became an autocrat in power; commanding kings, and ruling as both a spiritual and a temporal prince. The pagan doctrine of the immortality of the soul, combined with the idea, also imbibed from paganism, of the torture of the wicked after death, was made the basis of the doctrine of the eternal torture of heretics and of the Purgatorial sufferings after death of practically all Catholics to fit them for Heaven.
These ideas and theories were presented by Dante in his great epic poem, The Divine Comedy. According to his presentation, it was written over the gates of the Inferno that all who entered abandoned hope. This place was for those who were to suffer eternal torment. This included all heretics; for no good Catholic entered that abode. Then there was another place--Purgatory--where different punishments were administered for various sins, the process of purgation to vary in time according to the degree of the sin and the masses said for them by their friends on earth and the money paid for their deliverance. Thus the work went on, and the "tares" in the Church were multiplied. People were threatened with eternal torment if they did not go to church, and support the hierarchy; and their infants who died were denied salvation.
It was the claim of the Papacy that the thousand years of Christ's Reign, the Millennium, promised in Scripture to follow Christ's Second Advent, began in the year 800 A.D., under Pope Leo III., who claimed to be the representative of Christ, His Vicegerent, to begin Christ's Reign in His stead. In that year the "Papal states" were ceded to the Church by Emperor Charlemagne. Their "Millennium" ended, it was claimed, in the year 1799, when Napoleon confiscated the territories granted to the Church and took the Pope, Pius VI., a captive to France, where he died. The succeeding freedom from Papal persecution, and the widespread circulation of the Bible in the languages of the people, was declared by the Papal leaders to be the "little season" foretold in Revelation to follow the thousand-year Reign of Christ on earth; and they are hoping that soon they will regain their former power and prestige and once more reign supreme, and that their rule will be permanent.
This Papal Millennium is known in history as the "Dark Ages." During that time many were the erroneous doctrines and practises brought in and forced upon the peoples of Europe by the Papacy. Their theory was that they must conquer the world. They endeavored to do this by force, which led to great persecutions, notable among them being the Inquisition. During those dark centuries millions were tortured, exiled, and murdered in multitudinous ways, for refusing to bow to the mandates of the apostate Church, under the leadership of Popes, Bishops and priests. Agents and spies were employed to apprehend and bring to punishment any who were found to express sentiments contrary to the Papal hierarchy, or who failed to bow in abject submission to their authority.
Thus were the nations of Europe paganized and steeped in error and superstition and in reverence for men who falsely claimed to be the special and authorized representatives of God on earth. Yea, these pseudo-apostles of God, as declared in the prophecy of `Daniel (7:25`), thought to "change times and laws." They presumed to have authority to alter the laws of God when it seemed advisable to them to do so. They thought to change the time for the Reign of Christ, as we have shown. They also set up the abomination of the Mass, which was the taking away of "the continual [once for all] Sacrifice" of Christ, claiming that in the Mass Christ is offered again and again, in a bloodless manner. Thus they set at naught the Scriptural teaching that the one offering of Jesus on Calvary was all-sufficient for the cancellation of sin. See STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. II., Chapter 9.
We do not charge that these religious leaders of the Dark Ages were all doing these things knowingly. We believe that many of them were themselves deluded by the Adversary into thinking that they were doing the Lord's will. These errors were gradually fastened upon the Church. The leaders became to a large degree confused. God alone can judge of the culpability of each one. By degrees this paganized Christianity, more cruel and relentless in its propagation and enforcement than even Paganism itself, was adopted by the European nations, and they became what was, and still is, known as "Christendom"-- Christ's Kingdom. The glorious Scriptural doctrine of the resurrection also fell largely into the background; for what use had an immortal soul which could not die, for a resurrection from the dead? Plato's doctrine of the immortality of man was much more agreeable to the flesh than was the true idea of death. It was not pleasant to think of death as the enemy of man, as the curse which God had pronounced because of Adam's sin.
WORK OF REFORMATION--"A LITTLE HELP"
The work of reform, which in spite of violent opposition gradually developed, in the sixteenth century, into what was known as the Great Reformation, brought some measure of relief to the persecuted, hunted, crushed saints of God--His true Church. Even through the darkest years of the Dark Ages there were a few saintly ones who never bowed their knees to Baal. These sealed with their blood their declaration of faith in the vital doctrines of the Scriptures. However, in due time, their teachings gained sufficient headway to bring about the Reformation, by which the saints "were holpen with a little help." But their leaders were in time overcome with "flatteries," and also succumbed in a considerable degree to the desire to gain power and influence among the nations. See SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Vol. III., pp. 34-39 and pp. 108-113.
AN IMPORTANT QUESTION AND ITS ANSWER
Why has God permitted these appalling conditions, is it asked by some? Why did He allow His wheat-field to become so overrun with tares? Our Lord knew that these conditions would later develop, as is shown in this parable of the Wheat and Tares. It was God's purpose to permit this experience as a great lesson to the Church, to angels, and eventually to the whole world. These errors were to be permitted to be introduced, to grow and bring forth their bitter fruitage, and thus to manifest the terrible effects of error, unholy ambition and sin. It had the effect, too, of developing and separating in spirit the true saints of God from the great mass of tares. Both were to grow
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together in the Babylonian System, however, until the Harvest time. Then would come the entire separation of the two classes.
Now we are in this separating time. Now we whose eyes of understanding have been opened can see that these errors and evil practices are not of God, are not taught in His Word. Now we see that, as our Master forewarned, "The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." But the great majority of professed Christians are still largely blinded by the smoke of the Dark Ages which for so long has filled their eyes. Violence to the persons of the saints of God is not often indulged in today, because of present laws and public sentiment, though with some this persecuting spirit still exists as formerly, if only they could gain the power. But the same unscriptural doctrines are still preached, modified to some extent to suit the refined ideas of our day. The Bible doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is relegated to the scrap-heap.
Ministers of today, though they sometimes read passages of Scripture bearing upon the resurrection, straightway give them an interpretation utterly at variance with the Scriptural presentation. Some still preach that there is to be a final resurrection of the body, to be joined to its spirit--a doctrine nowhere taught in the Bible, and the veriest nonsense in view of their own theory of the immortality of the soul, which they say is translated at death to its eternal abode. The Bible teaches that the dead are dead, and that there is to be a resurrection of the soul, the being, the Ego. Our Redeemer died to buy back the human race who died in Adam; and He was raised from the dead on the third day by the Father. If the body is "shuffled off" at death, that the spirit may be free from its encumbrance, why would the spirit come to need it again sometime in the distant future? And what an eternal degradation this would be for a spirit which had been freed from its former animal body for years or for centuries!
The church systems of today are thoroughly permeated with all manner of pagan doctrines--Greek philosophies, Pantheism, Buddhism, Rationalism, Spiritism, etc. The doctrines of the immortality of the soul, a trinity of Gods in one, torment after death, re-incarnation of the soul after death, communion of the living with the dead--all these have been borrowed from paganism and are purely heathenish. Truly the nominal systems of today have become Babylon, confusion! And now in the Harvest time of the Age, God is calling His people out of them, and the work is nearly completed. He has spewed these nominal systems out of His mouth.--`Revelation 3:14-20`; `17:1-5`; `18:1-24`; `19:1-8`.
At one time we wondered why it was God's will to permit this condition of things. But in the light now shining we believe we can clearly see the reason. We believe that God saw what we are now coming to see; namely, that who had never known of the nature and results of sin, who had never known the baneful effects of these monstrous doctrines, could never have appreciated the Truth as can those who have been influenced and bound by them.
What wonderful relief came to our minds and hearts when we emerged from this gross darkness out into the glorious light of God's Truth as it is in Jesus! What a marvelous impression it made upon us! We fancy that
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mankind, when awakened from the sleep of death, will be on the lookout, as they awake, for the conditions which they had been taught would be theirs beyond this life. Many will look around in terror to see the fiery flames and tortures, and will shout, "Where is the Devil?" Then when the love of God in His wonderful provision for mankind shall be shown to them, when they are told that they are now under the righteous Reign of Messiah, which designs only good for all men, when they come to realize God's matchless goodness, what a revelation of joy it will be to the poor, benighted, sin-cursed world!
Surely all who are sincere of heart, all desirous of doing right, when the conditions are made favorable for so doing will appreciate, as they never could have done otherwise, the glorious character of our great Creator! So we can see that God has had a purpose in permitting for six thousand years the evil conditions which have prevailed-- a purpose for the Church and for the world and for all His created intelligences, even those yet to be created. We hope and believe that when God makes the matter fully plain all will see that His ways are just and righteous altogether. We are waiting for Him fully to demonstrate His character in due time; and this time, we believe, is now very near at hand.
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"THEY GO FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH"
"Be ye filled with the Spirit."--`Ephesians 5:18`.
LET us consider together briefly these words of the Apostle Paul, addressed to the Church of Christ, the saints. They do not apply to those who are merely empty professors, having a form of godliness only, but to those who have fully accepted the terms of God's Call, who have made the full consecration which alone brings us into the position of sons of God. These are the only ones who have the Spirit of God. These only are begotten from Above. But St. Paul would have us remember that it is not sufficient that we receive the begetting of the Holy Spirit, which comes to us at the very entrance of the narrow way. We should see that the Holy Spirit of God abounds in us more and more as we go on in our Heavenward course. The little spark of the new mind should grow stronger and brighter day by day.
If this development does not take place, if we merely stand still, we shall soon begin to lose ground; but if we progress, the natural man will gradually perish and the new man will thrive. Christian development should be steady and continuous. We are to be more and more filled with the Spirit. Sometimes the Lord's children say, "I do desire to be filled with the Lord's Spirit, but it seems as if my capacity is so small. I wish to have His Spirit in large measure, but I am unable to be what I long to be. I am not satisfied with my attainments." But if we are striving earnestly and prayerfully to become like Christ, let us not be discouraged. Let us remember that if we keep filled to our present capacity, this very infilling will enlarge our capacity. Then our earthen vessel will hold more of the Holy Spirit. This, in turn, still further enlarges our capacity; and so the expanding and filling goes on. Thus it is possible for us to be filled continually.
If it were an impossibility for us to be filled with the Spirit of God, the inspired Apostle would not have so instructed us. To the truly consecrated child of God this is possible, and not only possible, but obligatory. But as there are ebbs and flows in the ocean tides, so with our sense of the Lord's presence with us and His smile upon us. We may not always realize His presence to a large degree, but the Lord's saints must learn to walk by faith, to trust Him and His abiding love and presence with us even though physical ill health or untoward outward
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circumstances or conditions may at times cause a mental depression. We are to rejoice in the Lord even though there may be for a time more or less heaviness of spirit.
DAILY SELF-EXAMINATION NECESSARY
In speaking of the glorious salvation of the Church the Apostle Peter says, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [trials], that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." (`1 Peter 1:6-8`.) And we can thus rejoice even in the midst of severe trials that cause pain and tears. There may be times when it will seem as though we are more filled with the Spirit than at other times. But if we are striving earnestly to daily walk with God, this will not really be the case. It may be only a difference of surface feelings. The true child of the Lord should steadily progress.
The spirit, or disposition, of the world will seek to invade the dominion of the New Creature. But the New Creature must be on the alert to see that his mind and body are freed from everything that would not be in fullest harmony with God's Holy Spirit. Each one should seek to judge himself in this respect. We may not judge one another, but we should judge ourselves. We are to see to it that the Spirit of the Lord is manifest in our words, our thoughts and our conduct. We should be able to do this more and more successfully, more and more continually, as we go on in the good way and grow in grace and knowledge. This we shall do if we are watching, praying, striving, day by day.
The Spirit of the Lord dwelling in us in fulness, as it should be, will cause our entire being to be so absorbed by the principles of righteousness laid down in the Lord's Word, to be so in love with the Heavenly things, Heavenly hopes, Heavenly prospects, that everything else will be of no value to us. And this will be more and more our blessed experience if we continue faithfully in the narrow way, if we "follow on to know the Lord."
But if, on the contrary, we find ourselves making provision for the flesh, making worldly plans; if we find ourselves inclined to lay up treasures on earth instead of in Heaven, we should take alarm, and should ask ourselves whether we are deficient, whether we are neglecting the means of grace--prayer alone with God, study of His Word, meditation upon the glorious things to which we have been called, watching ourselves as to our growth in the fruits of the Spirit. If we find that we are considerably controlled by the spirit of contention, we should ask ourselves, "Are we seeking to deal justly and equitably with others--to give them their rights and not to intrude upon them? Are we cultivating the love which is forbearing, forgiving and kind?"--`2 Timothy 2:24`; `Ephesians 4:31,32`.
If we find after close introspection that we are in full sympathy with the spirit of love, and can see that we are gradually developing this crowning fruit of the Spirit, let us rejoice; for we should greatly deplore the matter if it were otherwise. If we find that we are controlled by this spirit of love, we may know that we are filled with the Spirit. This spirit of love will enlarge our hearts and minds, making us broader and nobler day by day.
But we need to continually watch and pray; for there is constant danger otherwise that we may be tripped up or stumbled either by our own faults or those of others. We are never safe from being side-tracked unless we go often to the Throne of Grace; we cannot be filled unless we keep very close to the great Fountain from which our infilling comes. We must daily carry our earthen pitcher to this Heavenly Fountain to be replenished; for we are leaky vessels. We are not to feel discouraged if we do not find in ourselves the rapid growth that we desire to see. Strong, sturdy trees that can withstand the fiercest storms are not developed in a day. Their growth is a slow, steady process. We should show our loyalty to the Lord by renewed effort every time we fail. He is looking at us not to see if we are perfect in the flesh--for He knows that we are not and can never be--but to see whether or not we have the spirit of earnestness and loyalty which daily and hourly seeks to keep the body under and to cheerfully take up the cross.
BLESSED RESULTS OF SPIRIT'S INFILLING
The Christian is not to be like the worldling who seeks to drown his troubles and afflictions in drink or in pleasures, dissipations and frivolous diversions; but in every trouble he is to fly to the only true Source of solace and comfort and strength. This will drive away all anxiety and give him rest and peace even in the midst of trouble. Like the fabled halcyon, which built its nest and brought forth its birdlings in the midst of the sea, the true child of God can be at rest even amidst the billows and storms of life, and can prosper as a New Creature and accomplish all the good pleasure of God's will.
This unwavering trust in the Lord, this abiding rest of the soul, this zeal in God's service, is a matter of growth. "They go from strength to strength," the Psalmist declares of the inhabitants of Zion. "First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear," said our Lord of this class. (`Psalm 84:7`; `Mark 4:28`.) Notwithstanding the difficulties of life, these can continue to make melody in their hearts unto the Lord. They rejoice no
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matter what may be the outward earthly conditions. They can smile even through their tears, knowing that, according to His promise, all things are working together for their good. To attain this development is to be filled with the Spirit; and each consecrated disciple of Christ should reach this plane.
Some Christian writer has well said: "Wherever there has been a faithful following of the Lord in a consecrated heart, several things have, sooner or later, inevitably followed. Meekness and quietness of spirit become in time the characteristics of the daily life. A submissive acceptance of the will of God, as it comes in the hourly events of each day, is manifested; pliability in the hands of God to do or to suffer all the good pleasure of His will; sweetness under provocation; calmness in the midst of turmoil and bustle; a yielding to the wishes of others [where there is no conflicting principle involved], and an insensibility to slights and affronts; absence of worry or anxiety; deliverance from care and fear--all these, and many other similar graces, are invariably found to be the natural outward development of that inward life which is 'hid with Christ in God.'"
"Jesus, my Lord, Thou art my life,
My rest in labor, strength in strife;
Thy love begets my love of Thee;
Thy fulness that which filleth me.
"Mine effort vain, my weakness learned,
Weary, from self to Christ I turned,
Content to let His fulness be
An unbought fulness unto me."
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ST. PAUL AT THESSALONICA AND BEREA
--JULY 2.--`ACTS 17:1-15`.--
METHOD OF INDOCTRINATION IN THE EARLY CHURCH-- IMPORTANCE OF UNPREJUDICED STUDY OF THE BIBLE--THE RANSOM THE PIVOTAL POINT OF THE GOSPEL--THE FEW BELIEVED--THE MAJORITY EMBITTERED--THE MISSIONARIES CHARGED WITH TREASON--SLANDER EVER THE WEAPON OF ENVY AND PRIDE--GOD'S SERVANTS PERSECUTED EVER.
"Him did God exalt with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior."--`Acts 5:31`.
LEAVING Philippi, St. Paul, Silas and Timothy went about one hundred miles to the southwest and stopped at the city of Thessalonica, the largest commercial city of Macedonia-- a city now known as Salonica. En route they passed two cities, where apparently they found no opening for their Message, no hearts prepared. Philippi was one of the few cities where the Gospel made any headway before the city had first come under the influence of Judaism to some extent. Evidently the scattering of the Jews throughout this region had more or less acquainted their neighbors with the true God, the observation of His Laws and respect for His revelations and for the promised Messiah.
At Thessalonica the missionaries found a Jewish synagogue; and in harmony with their usual custom they attended worship there. For three Sabbath days they reasoned with the congregation from the Scriptures. The word rendered reasoned in `Verse 2` implies a dialogue or discussion. St. Paul discussed the Bible with the Jews. The propriety of his course is evident. The Jews were familiar with the Messianic prophecies; and although making their home amongst the Gentiles, nevertheless, as the Apostle declares, they were continually hoping for the fulfilment of the grand promises made to Abraham, confirmed to Isaac and to Jacob--the Oath-bound Covenant. --`Acts 26:7`; `Hebrews 6:13-19`.
This form of preaching the Gospel has fallen considerably into disuse amongst Christians. It is an excellent one. We have endeavored to revive it amongst the friends of Present Truth everywhere by especially commending to them the Berean Bible Studies and such discussions of the Word of God with the aid of helps. The effect is excellent. In this way many obtain clearer conceptions of the Truth than they would get from any ordinary discourse. While we commend any kind of Bible study, we especially commend this form which the Lord has blessed above all others for the enlightenment of His people in this end of the Gospel Age. This method is for the advantage of the entire class; for an able leader is not so indispensable as with other methods. One danger with able leaders is that sometimes their ability goes in a wrong direction and misleads the too confiding ones under their care.
For this kind of Bible study both a textbook and a question book are used. The textbooks are the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. In these volumes the teachings of the Bible have been brought into an assimilable form. Each subject is treated systematically, with references to various parts of the Bible in which these subjects are stated. It does not surprise us, therefore, that those of God's people who have learned the value of this method of Bible study and who follow it have a clearer understanding of the Word than have others.
THE ESSENCE OF ST. PAUL'S TEACHING
After telling us that the Apostle reasoned with the Jews concerning the Gospel Message, our Study explains something of his method; namely, he opened the Scriptures to them, pointing out what they had not previously noted respecting Messiah--the fact that it was necessary for Christ to suffer death and to rise from the dead before He could be the King promised. The Jews knew of the Scriptures which referred to Messiah's sufferings. But these they ignored, and grasped only those which referred to His Millennial Reign of glory, honor and power.
What they needed was just what the Lord sent them in the Apostle--some one to explain the Scriptures, to answer their questions and to help them to find the answers to their own questions in the Scriptures. St. Paul showed them the connecting links between the two lines of prophecies pertaining to Messiah. He pointed out the fact that through the power of sin inbred, ingrained, death reigned over the human race, and that none could be released from this condition without a Redeemer. Messiah would indeed reign over His Kingdom, the world; but previously a redemption must take place, a lifting of the curse of death. Then he produced the facts of Jesus' death, "the Just for the unjust," and showed that our Lord's resurrection was exactly what had been declared by the Prophets, and was necessary for Him to carry out in due time the foretold blessing of Israel under their New Covenant and the blessing of the world through Israel.--`Genesis 2:17`; `3:19`; `12:3`; `Ezekiel 18:4,20`; `Jeremiah 31:31-34`.
Then the Apostle showed that first, however, an elect class must be gathered, to be associated with Messiah in His Kingdom; and that these must demonstrate their worthiness by laying down their lives in consecration in His service. The sum of the Apostle's argument was, "This Jesus whom I preach unto you is Messiah."
ITS EFFECT UPON THE HEARERS
Some of the Jews believed the Message and took sides with St. Paul and Silas; but evidently they were only a minority. With them were some devout Greeks and also a number of prominent women. The division time had come. The wheat amongst the Jews in Thessalonica must be separated from the chaff class, as elsewhere. (`Matthew 3:11,12`.) They were being gathered into the Gospel garner, into the Spirit Dispensation. They were being transferred from Moses to Christ, from Natural Israel to the new Spiritual Israel, called to be a Royal Priesthood, a peculiar people, for a Divine purpose.
Only a minority of the Jews could receive this Message. The remainder were embittered. Therefore they became jealous of the success achieved by these strangers, who had been in the city but a few weeks, but who nevertheless had already made considerable impression upon Gentiles, whom they had been unable to influence and to convert to Judaism.
Having no truthful argument, no logic wherewith they could overcome the arguments of the missionaries, the unbelieving Jews resorted to Satan's usual tactics of misrepresentation, slander, thus arousing prejudice, hatred, malice, etc. They even incited an uproar in the city--a mob, which made an assault upon the house of Jason, with whom the missionaries were lodging. Not finding the missionaries, the mob, under leadership, took Jason and other believers before the magistrate, saying, "These that have turned the world upside down have come here also." Jason has received them, and is thus a participant in their wrong-doing. They are traitors to this government and the Emperor; they teach that there is another king--Jesus.
This was almost the exact charge brought against our Redeemer when He was brought to Pilate's judgment bar. And there is a measure of truth in it; for the
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Caesars claimed not only to be civil rulers of the world, but also to be the Pontifex Maximus, or chief religious ruler. While the Kingdom which Jesus and the Apostles preached is a Heavenly one, a spiritual one, nevertheless the Message includes the thought that in due time this Heavenly rule, or authority, would be extended to the affairs of earth, and Messiah's Kingdom would be worldwide-- "under the whole heaven."--`Daniel 7:27`.
We can readily see that such a proclamation might be construed as treasonable from the world's standpoint. But surely the Jews had no excuse for using their influence along these lines; for they well knew that all the hopes and promises in which their nation rejoiced led up to just such a Kingdom hope. Nevertheless, their pride and hatred blinded them to the injustice of their course when they incited the heathen multitude. It should not surprise us at all if in the near future false Christians --Christians not in the proper attitude of heart to receive the Message of Present Truth--should similarly charge us with treason because we preach "the Kingdom of God's dear Son," about to be established in power and great glory, in the midst of a period of social distress and anarchy. Nor will it surprise us if these false Christians should be the very ones to incite the multitudes and the rulers against us.
"TURNING THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN"
The Jews realized that there was a conflict on between Judaism and Christianity; and that wherever the two came into contact there could be naught else than a clash, and one or the other be turned upside down. Similarly, some of those who are at present blinded to Present Truth rail at us in almost the same language. And the truthfulness of the assertions cannot be controverted. The Gospel of Christ created differences in the Jewish system then, as the Gospel Truth is doing now in Christendom. This is what our Lord Jesus foretold when He said, "Think not that I have come to send peace upon the earth. I have come to send a sword. . . . And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."--`Matthew 10:34-36`.
Our own experiences, like those of the Apostles, corroborate the truth of our Lord's statement. An irrepressible conflict is on. However, had the Jews but properly understood the matter, they need not have given themselves such concern. They might have known that comparatively few would accept the Message of the Gospel; and that the few going out from them would scarcely be missed.
And so it is today. Our dear friends in the various denominations are fearful lest Present Truth capture their people by the wholesale. But they are mistaken. It will take only the Elect, and leave the remainder. The wheat are comparatively few in proportion to the tares; and only the wheat is being gathered. The tares must be left in the bundles--in sectarian bodies. They must not in any manner get in amongst the wheat ready for the garner. The separation of the wheat from the tares should not, and could not, take place in the past, but must and will take place now, in the Harvest of this Age.
Apparently this attack upon Jason and others was not permitted of the Lord until the work of propagation had been well accomplished, and until those who had an ear to hear had a good opportunity to hear the Message. The rulers of Thessalonica put Jason and the other believers under bonds, to guarantee against a certain forfeit of money or of property that these Christian missionaries should raise no further disturbance. As a result, St. Paul and Silas realized that their work at Thessalonica was at an end; and, that they might not jeopardize the interests of the Cause and of their friends by further public utterances, St. Paul agreed that they should leave the city quietly, secretly.
"THE MORE NOBLE BEREANS"
The next stopping place was Berea; and there, as usual, the missionaries went first to the synagogue. They were agreeably surprised to find the Jews at that place very honest-hearted. We read, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so." The Greek word used here for "noble" seems to imply persons of noble birth, a higher and nobler class than those of the more commercial city. Nobility of character is favorable, wherever found and from whatever causes; and true nobility implies reasonableness, as distinguished from prejudice.
The Bereans were reasonable. Professing to believe all that was written in the Law and the Prophets, professing to be looking for the Messiah, they welcomed the servants of God who sought to draw their attention particularly to the "things written aforetime." With all readiness of mind they began to examine the Scriptures, not merely on the Sabbath, but daily, to see how well the Apostle's arguments were supported by the testimony of the Law and the Prophets. As we should expect, many of so noble a class accepted the Good Tidings. Indeed, the wonder is that any person of noble and reasoning mind, once becoming acquainted with the glorious Message of God's love and mercy through Christ--His Plan for selecting the Church now and of blessing all the families of the earth through that Church by and by-- could disbelieve it or could attribute such a Gospel to any human source. Surely its internal evidences are convincing that it is not of man nor by man, but of the Lord!
We read that many of the noble Bereans believed-- Jews and Greeks, men and women. Here is a suggestion to us all. We should have a judgment and conviction respecting the Divine Word; but it should not be so unreasonable a one as to hinder us from receiving further knowledge from the same source. We are to "try the spirits," the teachings, the doctrines. This does not signify, however, that we are to be "blown about by every wind of doctrine." We should know in whom we have believed; and having been once convinced, we should not be easily turned aside from a properly grounded faith.
If we are satisfied that we have been building upon the Rock Foundation furnished us in the Divine Revelation, we should expect that any further light coming to us would not be contradictory to what we have found to be Scriptural and harmonious with the Divine character. On the contrary, we should expect that all further light from the Divine Word would be consistent with the foundations of our faith. Anything that would set aside or make valueless the first principles of the doctrines of Christ should be promptly rejected.
PERSECUTED IN EVERY CITY
If the missionaries of the Cross of Christ were vigilant and earnest, so were the servants of error. The Jews of Thessalonica learned that the missionaries were at Berea, and forthwith began to foment strife and to raise a disturbance amongst the people. The missionaries concluded that this was a sign that they should move forward.
Let us be on the alert to watch for the leadings of the Lord's providence; and while not fleeing persecution in the ordinary sense, let us be ready to move when persecution seems inevitable and when apparently it might be considered as an indication from the Lord that He had service for us in some other field of labor. Thus persecuted, St. Paul went to Athens; and later Silas and Timothy followed him thither.
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THE THESSALONIAN CHRISTIANS --JULY 9.--`1 THESSALONIANS 1`; `4:13-18`.--
ST. PAUL'S LETTER TO THE YOUNG CHURCH AT THESSALONICA-- THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL AMONGST THEM--THEIR REJOICING IN TRIBULATION--THEIR ACTIVITIES IN SPREADING THE TRUTH--THEIR HOPE, CENTERED IN THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST--A HIGHLY FIGURATIVE DESCRIPTION OF OUR LORD'S SECOND PRESENCE AND THE RESURRECTION OF THE CHURCH--"THE DEAD IN CHRIST" VS. "THOSE THAT SLEEP IN JESUS."
"If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with Him."--`Chapter 4:14`.
WHILE our Study today deals chiefly with the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epistle of which it forms a part gives a description of the class that will rejoice in His Second Coming and with good reason. In this Epistle St. Paul points out some of the characteristics of those to whom he says, "Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that Day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all children of the light, the children of the Day." (`Chapter 5:4,5`.) Of these characteristics the essential one is "the love of God," "The love of Christ," extending to all who are of the Household of Faith, and manifesting itself in a spirit of sympathy toward the entire "groaning creation."
Although the Church at Thessalonica was composed of those who in respect to length of Christian experience were but "babes in Christ," nevertheless it is very evident that the persecution which had come upon them had caused them to grow very rapidly. It was about a year since they had received the Gospel; and yet the Apostle witnesses to their rapid development, as evidenced by their love for one another--not only for the little company at Thessalonica, but to all of the Household of Faith throughout Macedonia. The Apostle declares that this love of the brethren was a manifestation of the fact that they had been "taught of God."
One of the first effects of a knowledge of the grace of God in Christ and of a full consecration to the Lord is this love for all fellow-servants--"the brethren." Would that the fervency and the zeal of first love, both toward the Lord and toward the entire Household of Faith, might not only continue, but increase with all! But, alas! many who start warmly and earnestly grow lukewarm--become captious, cynical, hypercritical, high-minded and self-assertive-- and lose much of the simplicity, zeal and humility of their first faith and their first love.
This is the first attack of the great Adversary to re-ensnare, through the weaknesses of the flesh, those who have escaped his chains of darkness and have come to see some of the glory of God shining through Christ. If they do not resist these attacks, the effect is sure to be not only lukewarmness toward the Lord, His Cause and the members of His Body, but eventually the cultivation of the fruits of darkness--envy, malice, hatred, strife--instead of the fruits of the Spirit of Christ--meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly-kindness, love. Hence the Apostle urges the Church, "We beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more"--in love and service one for the other; for this increase implies a growth in all the graces of the Holy Spirit.
CHRISTIAN DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The religion of Christ is designed to blend with all the proper duties, perplexities, trials and pleasures of the home and the family. Thus the majority of the people of God can best let shine the light which they have received from the Lord. Each should "study to be quiet"-- to have a quiet ambition, not a restless bustling for notoriety and for great exploits, but a quiet, earnest perseverance in well-doing, a condition in which the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit will best thrive.
True, the light received will make a great change in many of the affairs of the home. It sets before us new ideals, to be esteemed and copied. It introduces us to a new relationship, a new kindred--the family of God. Thus it brings us some new responsibilities and privileges; and if we are filled with the spirit of the Truth, with love toward God and all who have any of His likeness, it will make us very zealous in the dispensing of the grace of God, which has brought such blessing to our own hearts.
This does not signify that it is the Lord's will that all who receive the Truth should go forth as public teachers, abandoning home, trade, occupation, duties, responsibilities, etc. The Lord's call will never conflict with proper duties and responsibilities previously upon us. The man who has a family to provide for should not even think of leaving such obligations, nor consider himself called to public preaching, if it would imply the neglect of duties and obligations already resting upon him. Such persons should quietly and thankfully do all in the Divine service that a proper regard for those dependent upon them would permit.
On the other hand, those who are free to give time and energy to the Lord's service, and who have talents of any kind, should, when they receive the Truth, humbly present their all to the Lord and then seek to use their every opportunity in His service as He shall open the way. Thereafter such consecrated ones should be very careful that they do not so encumber themselves as to hinder their usefulness in such service.
RESPONSIBILITIES TOWARD THOSE WITHOUT
Not only have we duties and a ministry toward every member of the Body of Christ, but we have certain responsibilities toward those who are in darkness, out of Christ. The Christian is to be a burning and shining light toward the world. The world sees not from the inside, as does the Household of Faith. Hence there is great necessity that the Christian should so live before the world as to be a "living epistle, known and read of all men," honoring to the Lord and to His Word.
The Christian life should be seen by the world, not merely as just and honest, but also as noble and honorable. There are honest people who are mean. There are truthful people who tell the truth in a combative and repellant manner. But in the true Christian, love should produce so generous a sentiment that it would ennoble every virtue. To this end, also, the Christian should strive "to have need of nothing"--so far as possible, not to be dependent upon charity, but rather, as the Apostle elsewhere states it, to "labor, working with his own hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." (`Ephesians 4:28`.) The Lord's instruction to fleshly Israel that they should lend, but should not borrow, may well be applied in principle by Spiritual Israel. This principle applies to buying on credit, a practise which should be avoided by the Lord's people; and as a rule this principle would be found advantageous to mankind in general.
"ENSAMPLES TO ALL THAT BELIEVE"
Under St. Paul's instruction, supplemented by Timothy's, the young Thessalonian Church had in a very short time attained considerable knowledge of the Divine Plan-- much more, apparently, than is enjoyed by a majority of Christian congregations today. For instance, they knew what many today are ignorant of--that the Christian's
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hope centers in the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and the gathering of the Church to Him. They also knew that their friends who had died were "asleep"; and their hope was that all the sleeping dead would be awakened from the death sleep by the Lord at His Second Coming. Realizing that all hopes of eternal life depended upon the Second Coming of our Lord as the great Life-giver, there was no danger that the early Church should ever lose sight of this inspiring hope set before us.
For several centuries past this fact that the dead sleep, and cannot be awakened until the Second Advent of our Lord, has been lost sight of; and as a result all faith in the Lord's Second Coming has generally languished. It has come to be believed generally by Christian people that the dead do not "sleep," but are more awake than they were when alive--that in the moment of dissolution the dead go to Heaven or to Hell, and that these conditions are permanent, unalterable. With such unscriptural thoughts before their minds, who can wonder that to the majority of professed Christians the Second Coming of the Lord is an event without special interest? Hence it is regarded lightly by some; and by many it is wholly disbelieved and declared to be a useless, uninteresting and pernicious teaching.
However, "the brethren," who have been instructed in the Word of the Lord, and who do not follow "cunningly devised fables" originated by the Arch Deceiver, find that the Scriptures as a whole, from Genesis to Revelation, are illuminated with the grand hope of the coming of Messiah in glory and power, to establish His Kingdom of Righteousness in the earth, to awaken and uplift those who have fallen under the hand of Death--to give beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness--to as many as will accept His blessing, under the terms of the New Covenant.--`Jeremiah 31:31-34`; `Hebrews 8:8-13`; `Isaiah 61:1-3`.
"THEM THAT SLEEP IN JESUS"
As originally pronounced in Eden, the penalty against the race of Adam was not a sleep of death for a few days, years or centuries. On the contrary, it was absolute extinction--destruction. (`Genesis 2:17`; `3:19`.) But God had purposed a redemption from the curse of death; and for this purpose Christ Jesus came into the world and died, "the Just for the unjust," that He might bring mankind back to God--back to Divine favor, where the gift of God-- eternal life--will be a possibility for the willing and obedient. Ever since the Ransom-price was laid down at Calvary, and its acceptance manifested at Pentecost, it has been proper to regard the whole world as being no longer dead--wholly cut off from life--but as merely sleeping-- awaiting the return of the Redeemer as the Awakener, the Vivifier, the Live-giver.--`Romans 6:23`; `John 5:25,28,29`; `1 Corinthians 15:12-23`.
In this sense of the word, all mankind may be said to "sleep in Jesus," the Redeemer; for by His death our Lord Jesus secured for all of Adam's posterity another trial for life--instead of the one lost by Father Adam through disobedience. Our Lord Himself declared that as a consequence of His being lifted up as the great Sin-Offering upon the cross, He will yet draw all men unto Himself. (`John 12:32,33`; `3:14-16`.) Thus He showed us that the world is not to be considered as dead--extinct --but as merely "asleep," waiting for the drawing time foreordained of the Father, and provided for by the "Ransom for all." (`1 Timothy 2:5,6`.) This drawing, like that exerted for the selection of the Church, will be through a knowledge of the Truth, and signifies that ultimately all mankind will be made aware of God's gracious provision, under which they may, if they will when brought to a knowledge of the Truth, obtain life everlasting.
Since the majority of the race of mankind went into death before the Ransom-price was provided, this implies an awakening from death in order that they may be drawn or come to a knowledge of the Truth. In harmony with this thought are the words of our Lord to the effect that the hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and come forth; and that then those who hear--obey--shall live--everlastingly.
A future life for all has been provided by our Lord, who "gave His life a Ransom for all"; and the fact that their death sentence has been provided for makes it proper to speak of them as "asleep in Jesus," instead of as being dead in Adam. The fact that many of them did not know of their redemption would work no greater hindrance than would the fact that many of the same ones had no knowledge in particular of the original sentence through Adam. They came under the Adamic sentence without choice or knowledge, and later came under the benefits of the redemption similarly without choice or knowledge.--`Romans 5:18`.
"THE DEAD IN CHRIST"
In the use of the phrase, "them also which sleep in Jesus," the Apostle cannot refer merely to the saints; for the Gospel had been preached at Thessalonica for only about one year, and during that year not very many of the saints could have died. Furthermore, when we remember that the saints are generally not related according to the flesh we can readily see that in appealing to their hopes in order that they might not sorrow as did others, the Apostle must have meant not only hopes for the saints, but also hopes for all of their friends who had died. If their hopes had been merely for the saints, and if they had believed that all others were hopelessly and everlastingly lost, it would have been in vain for the Apostle to appeal to them to sorrow not as others who have no such hope; for such bad hopes respecting the great majority of their dying and dead friends and relatives would have been a cause for greater sorrow than they or any other heathens could have had when they had no knowledge and no definite hopes.
This fact is set forth by the Apostle in Chapter `4:14`. There he points out that the Christian's faith is built upon the fact that Christ Jesus died, and that He rose again. Our Lord died for the sins of the Church, "and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world." (`1 John 2:2`.) His resurrection is an evidence that His sacrifice was acceptable not only on behalf of His Church, but also on behalf of all for whom He died; and therefore it becomes a guarantee, or pledge, that in His own due time God will establish Christ and His Church as the Kingdom of God, and that this Kingdom when established shall bless all the families of the earth with the knowledge of the Truth.
Believing this, we are bound to believe also that all mankind redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, shall, according to His promise, yet come forth from the sleep of death to hear His Word as the great Law-giver of the New Covenant, and to have, if they will by obedience to it, the gift of God--eternal life--through Jesus Christ our Lord. As God accepted the sacrifice of Christ and raised Him from the dead, "even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring [from the sleep of death] with Him"--through His instrumentality.
But let us not confound this thought that the future of the whole world has been changed from "death" to
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"sleep" by the Ransom-price, which Jesus gave for all, with the very different expression, "the dead in Christ," which is applicable to no other than the elect Church. The name Jesus, which signifies Savior, has special application to the Ransom and Restitution features of our Lord's work. But the name Christ is the title to His kingly office. The call to "be baptized into Jesus Christ," thus to become "members of the Body of Christ"--the Anointed --is an offer which is restricted to the "called and chosen and faithful" Church of this Gospel Age. But the redemptive benefits covered by the name Jesus are "for all," "for every man," for "whosoever will" accept those mercies on the New Covenant conditions.
"IN JESUS" VS. "IN CHRIST"
So then, in the language of the Apostle, we exhort Christians in respect to all their dead--in Christ and out of Christ, New Creatures and old creatures, those enlightened and blessed by the marvelous light of the Gospel, and those who have died while blinded by "the god of this world"--that they sorrow not as others who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died for all; that He has risen from the dead; that on this account all the dead are to be considered as sleeping, waiting for His return and the exaltation of His elect Church also in glory; and that then all whom God counts as asleep in Him, or on account of Him, or through Him and His work, shall also be brought from the dead.
Few Christians have noticed the frequency with which the Scriptures use this word "sleep" in reference to the state of the dead. Notice that in `Chapter 4:13-15` the word is used three times in three successive verses. Notice also the following instances: `John 11:11,12`; `Acts 7:60`; `13:36`; `2 Peter 3:4`; `1 Corinthians 15:6,18,20,51`; `Matthew 9:24`; `13:25`; `Mark 5:39`; `Luke 8:52`; `1 Thessalonians 5:10`; `Matthew 27:52`; `1 Corinthians 11:30`.
In these instances, all from the New Testament, the word sleep is used instead of the word death, and used in full view of the Ransom by which all shall be redeemed. What was the custom in Old Testament times? Looking back, we find that `Daniel (12:1-3)` prophetically speaks of those "who sleep in the dust of the earth," and describes the sleepers as being of two classes--some who will awake to everlasting life, and some who will awake to shame and everlasting contempt--the latter class representing those who will be tried during the Millennium. Similarly, of both kings and prophets--one after another--it is declared that "he slept with his fathers."
The basis for this expression and of the faith in a future life which it implies is set forth by our Lord, saying, "That the dead are [to be] raised, even Moses showed at the Bush." (`Luke 20:37`.) "Have ye not read in the Book of Moses how in the Bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." (`Mark 12:26`.) "He is not a God of the dead [the extinct, for whom no future is designed], but [He is the God] of the living, because all live unto Him." (`Luke 20:38`.) It was as a result of Moses' experience that the Jews thereafter spoke of their dead as "asleep" and "waiting for the morning," when they would be "awakened."
But be it noticed, God's reason for speaking of humanity as yet having a hope of life beyond the grave rests not upon any change of the sentence from death--extinction-- to a profound "sleep" for a period, but upon His predetermined Plan to provide a Savior who would redeem, purchase back, for Adam and all his race "that which was lost"--the privilege of life everlasting in harmony with God.--`Luke 19:10`; `John 10:10`.
SPECIAL MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH
Having spoken of the general hopes of the entire "groaning creation," all of which center in the Second Coming of our Lord, the Apostle delivers, not an opinion or a guess, but a special message to the effect that the sleeping saints will suffer no loss by reason of having fallen asleep, but that on the contrary they will be granted a priority over the living saints in that they will be "changed," "glorified," to see the Lord, to be like Him and to share His glory, before those of the same class who are alive at the time of the Second Advent. Elsewhere we have given at considerable length our reasons for believing that the shout, the voice and the trumpet here mentioned by the Apostle are symbols, as in other parts of the Scriptures; for instance, in the Revelation. See STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. 2, 143-150.
Apparently the Church at Thessalonica had been studying the subject of our Lord's Second Coming, and were fearful lest some of their number might "fall asleep" before that event, and were doubtful as to how much of the blessing might thus be lost by these, as well as solicitous for their friends. Hence the Apostle says, "Comfort one another with these words."
The word translated "coming" in `Verse 15` is parousia. This Greek word does not really have the significance of our English word "coming," but signifies presence--after arrival--giving the thought that our Lord will be present before "the dead in Christ" are "raised," although this will be prior to the "change" of the living. This Scripture, as well as many others, indicates distinctly that the Lord's presence will not be manifest, visible, to the world during this time. As our Lord said before He went away, "Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more." (`John 14:19`.) This thought is emphasized by St. Paul's subsequent remarks respecting the Day of the Lord and the fact that the world would not know of it, but only the "brethren," those not "in darkness."--`1 Thess. 5:1-5`.
It speaks well for the rapid growth in knowledge on the part of the Church at Thessalonica that the Apostle could thus write to them. How definitely he separates the Church, the Body of Christ, from the world! How particularly he shows that the one class will be in total ignorance of this subject, while the other class will have knowledge of our Lord's return! Knowledge of the Second Presence of our Lord is a feature of the Day of the Lord--the Day of His Presence--"the Harvest," or end of this Age, during which the great Chief Reaper will not only gather the sleeping saints first, but proceed also to seal and to gather all the living members of the Elect class, who shall be counted worthy to escape the great afflictions which are about to come upon the world, in the culmination of the great Time of Trouble, which will dissolve present institutions and make ready for the establishment of the Heavenly Kingdom, under the rulership of Christ Jesus and His "little flock" of joint-heirs--the Seed of Abraham, who are to bless all the families of the earth, living and dead.
"Painful and dark the pathway seems
To distant earthly eyes;
They only see the hedging thorns
On either side that rise;
"They cannot know how soft between
The flowers of love are strewn,
The sunny ways, the pastures green,
Where Jesus leads His own."
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OUR LORD JESUS' INSPIRING PROMISE
"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a Crown of Life."--`Rev. 2:10`.
THESE are the words of our glorified Lord, given through St. John the Revelator on the Island of Patmos. This thrilling exhortation is given to the Church, to those who have entered into a special contract, a special covenant with the Lord. The invitation of the present time, to suffer with Jesus that we may reign with Him, implies the attainment of membership in His Body. His members are His disciples; they have been invited to walk in His steps.
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It is required of these that they continue to hold fast the faith that first led them to make a consecration. They are to continue in this attitude through evil report and through good report, to follow their Leader "whithersoever He goeth." They must not faint before they reach the end of the journey. The world, the flesh and the Adversary will try to dissuade them and turn them back-- try to cause them to think that the invitation they have received is an intangible, impossible thing.
A faithful servant is one who demonstrates himself worthy of his master's confidence, one who can always be relied upon. Daily we are proving our loyalty or our disloyalty. "The Lord your God doth prove you." He proves us to see if we are worthy--to see whether we love Him best or love self best, to see if our confidence in Him is such that we will lay aside everything else to win this great Prize which He has offered, to see whether we are following a mere temporary impulse, whether we are trying to grasp this beautiful thing, this Crown of Life, without appreciation of its cost.
In one of His parables, our Lord represents some who, when the sun of persecution arises, are not sufficiently loyal to the principles of righteousness to stand. They become offended. They wither away. So this word faithful seems particularly to signify loyalty, including also the thought of being full of faith. God's children are to be full of faith, and those in whom God can have faith--those proving worthy of His entire confidence.
Our Lord will say to such as are wholly faithful to the end of the race, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!" These shall have "a Crown of Life." Their loyalty must be proved even unto death. This does not mean merely that they shall die as a consequence of their consecration to the Lord; for there will be two classes of those who thus die--the Little Flock will die sacrificially, and the Great Company will die through "the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus."
"Unto death," therefore, would in this text mean a faithfulness which would persist until the sacrifice is finished in death, a faithfulness ready to encounter death at any moment, which would lead to the performance of the Covenant of Sacrifice even unto its consummation.
THE FADELESS CROWN OF LIFE
The thought in respect to the receiving of the Crown is that it confers great honor. In the Olympian games of olden time a crown was given which was usually of laurel leaves; and great victors on battle-fields received crowns of laurel--the laurel being an evergreen shrub or tree, symbolizing that which endures. The Apostle used this illustration as picturing the high honor to be bestowed upon the faithful Church. There is a great Prize to be given. There is an election going on. It is for each individual to make his calling and election sure.-- `2 Peter 1:10,11`.
Each one who is victorious will receive a Crown of Life. It will not be a crown that will soon fade, or one that will last only a certain number of years, but a crown of everlasting life. And not only so, but the Lord shows us that this crown of everlasting life will be a crown of superior life--life on the very highest plane. Those who attain Restitution during the Millennial Age will have everlasting life on the human plane. The angels will have everlasting life on the spirit plane. But this Crown of Life given to the "more than conquerors" will be the very highest form of spirit life--immortality--far above all other planes of life, as the special reward for being victors in this race. "Let us so run that we may obtain." The goal is near!
"Run on, my soul, undaunted,
Where duty shines before,
Though deserts blaze around thee
And Jordans surge and roar;
The land on this side Jordan
Is not thy birthright blest;
Speed on, and find thy Canaan
And enter into rest."
SUMMER CONVENTIONS OF BIBLE STUDENTS
WE HAVE mapped out a very elaborate Convention arrangement for this Summer. The custom of taking a few days' vacation every Summer is becoming a general one. Bible Students especially enjoy their vacations when these can be spent in Christian fellowship and in building one another up in the Most Holy Faith and in the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit. The method once employed of having one or two Conventions in the Summer has been found unsatisfactory for two reasons:
(1) This involves too large an expenditure of time and money when long distances must be traveled.
(2) When a Convention is too large the fellowship is not so good--the opportunities for getting acquainted, etc., are poorer proportionately.
We believe that we have made good selections of Convention points in the territory where Bible Students are most numerous. We are announcing the dates in good time, so that vacations may be arranged accordingly. In every case arrangements will be made for lodgings at fifty cents per night upward and for restaurant service, where each can provide according to his appetite, purse and judgment. Address the Secretary of every Convention you wish to attend, mentioning the number of your party, males and females. If colored, the fact should be mentioned.
In the past we have had difficulty from the fact that when an assignment was made no money consideration was passed; therefore neither the householder nor the visitor considered the matter thoroughly binding. As a result, sometimes the householder rented the room to others, and sometimes the visitor went elsewhere, neglecting the assignment. We hope to remedy the matter this year by requiring the deposit of one dollar in the case of each assignment. The dollar will be paid to the householder on the visitor's account, and the receipt will show this. We trust thus to avoid difficulty experienced in the past and to add to the comfort of all. Our representatives will visit and inspect the rooms assigned and judge of their cleanliness and suitability, and, to the best of their ability, serve the interests of the visiting Brethren and Sisters. We urge that, when sending in the one dollar for each person, you state your preferences as respects accommodation-- remembering, of course, that a fifty-cent lodging will not be in any respects as fine as a five-dollar one. Our Convention List is, we believe, about complete, as follows:
ST. LOUIS CONVENTION--JUNE 22-25
St. Louis will be central as a Convention point to a large number of Bible Students. The Brethren there have arranged for Princess Theater, which is accredited with being a very cool place. In it all the Convention Meetings will be held-- the evenings being devoted to the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION. Brother Russell is expected to be present at the conclusion of
the Convention. His topic will be, "The World on Fire," at the Odeon Theater, Sunday, June 25, 8 p.m.
The following Pilgrim Brethren are scheduled to be in attendance: R.H. Hirsh, George Draper, R.L. Robie, R.O. Hadley, W.M. Batterson, A.J. Eshleman, Menta Sturgeon, Chairman. Address J.H. HOEVELER, 6126 Waterman Ave., St. Louis, Mo., for information and assignment of lodgings.
SIOUX CITY CONVENTION--JULY 6-9
A splendid invitation has come to Bible Students to meet at Sioux City, Iowa. We are sure of a cordial welcome by the Bible Students and citizens and officials there. A splendid Auditorium has been placed at our disposal. We have every reason to expect a glorious season of spiritual fellowship, as well as physical comfort. The following Pilgrim Brethren are scheduled to be in attendance: I.F. Hoskins, W.F. Hudgings, J.P. MacPherson, T.P. Yates, L.F. Zink, B.M. Rice, A.P. Walker, A.I. Ritchie, Chairman. Address A.J. Strite, 1422 W. 5th St., for accommodations.
NEWPORT CONVENTION--JULY 9-16
The Authorities of this old and dignified Watering Place of Rhode Island have placed at the disposal of our Association excellent Auditorium facilities, including arrangements for the showing of the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION every night. As Newport is central for a large population, we believe that the attendance will be excellent. The following Pilgrim Brethren are scheduled as speakers: R.H. Barber, P.S.L. Johnson, A.H. MacMillan, E.F. Crist, R.G. Jolly, F.C. Detwiler, C.J. Woodworth, H.C. Rockwell, Edward Hazlett, R.J. Martin and W.E. Van Amburgh, Chairman. Address Anna R. Calvert, Newport, R.I., for accommodations.
NORFOLK CONVENTION--JULY 22-30
Although Norfolk, Va., is a Southern City, it is fanned by Ocean breezes. We are sure that it is quite a suitable place for our Convention. Virginia Beach is near Norfolk for those who desire a little further outing than the Convention will give. Old Point Comfort also is near. The following Pilgrim Brethren are scheduled to be in attendance: J.D. Wright, Alexander Graham, W.J. Thorn, F.W. Plaenker, F.H. Mendel, J.A. Meggison, A.E. Burgess and J.A. Baeuerlein, Chairman. Address P.L. Derring, 216 12th St., for accommodations.
NIAGARA FALLS CONVENTION--AUG. 19-22
A Convention at Niagara Falls will be very convenient for the Canada Brethren, as well as for some in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. A very interesting Convention is predicted. The following Pilgrim Brethren are scheduled to speak: W.M. Wisdom, J.F. Emerson, P.E. Thomson, T.R. Hilbish, J.F. Stephenson, Chairman. Address A. Fossberry, 727 Pine Ave., for accommodations.
NASHVILLE CONVENTION--AUG. 24-27
Bible Students have been very cordially invited by city and State officials to hold a Convention at Nashville, Tenn. It will, we believe, be a central point for quite a goodly number. At least a thousand may be expected. Address M.E. Confehr, 2124 Achlen Ave., for accommodations.
LONG BEACH CONVENTION--SEPT. 2-10
Long Beach, Cal., is suburban to Los Angeles. We are sure that it is a delightful place for a Convention, and that every effort will be made for the comfort of all Bible Students in attendance. Arrangements will be in the hands of the Los Angeles Class. Address F.P. Sherman, 206 Hamlet St.
SEATTLE CONVENTION--SEPT. 14-17
Seattle, Wash., is beautiful for situation and convenient to a large population. Many of our Canadian friends will doubtless come from Vancouver, Victoria, etc. Other delegates will come from Spokane, Tacoma, Portland, etc. We are trusting for a happy time in the sunshine of our Lord's favor. Address F.A. Acheson, 1009 8th Ave., for accommodations.
MILWAUKEE CONVENTION--SEPT. 16-24
Milwaukee, Wis., claims to have some special advantages as a Convention City and will be central to a considerable number of friends in the Truth. It is accessible both by rail and by Lake steamer from Chicago and from other Lake Michigan points. During the eight days it is expected that the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION will make two full showings in the evenings. The eight days will give splendid opportunity for commingling and spiritual fellowship amongst the friends. The Municipal Auditorium has been put at the disposal of the Convention for the entire time. We believe that a large number will be in attendance. Address A.L. Smith, 1166 Eighth St., Milwaukee, for accommodations.
Brother Russell is expected to give public addresses as well as Convention addresses at each of these Conventions. The dates for his public meetings are noted.
At each Convention there will be provision for the symbolizing of consecration by water baptism--robes, etc.
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CONSIDER ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Quite a number of the classes consider it wise to provide a supper at the home where the afternoon and evening meetings are held on the occasion of a Pilgrim visit. They are frequently unwilling to have this a light luncheon, but rather an elaborate meal. Various Sisters proffer their assistance to the one at whose home the meeting is held, but they fail to realize that even with their help she has many times as much to do as they have in getting house and dishes ready beforehand, and in cleaning things up later.
If the large majority of such meetings are held in a certain home because of its large rooms, etc., it means an oft-recurring burden to that Sister, and especially so if she is not physically strong.
This week I have been in two different towns where almost identical conditions exist along this very line. One of these sisters, a noble, self-sacrificing character, told me that she was so nearly in a state of collapse after the strain of such an occasion that it had become a severe trial to hear another Pilgrim was coming. But she is afraid to tell the class lest they misunderstand and think her selfish.
She was under such a physical and nervous strain as to get practically no good from the Pilgrim's visit and possibly while he was talking she would have to spend part of the time in the kitchen.
I find that sometimes the older and more practical sisters see the unwisdom of this, but the younger ones who have less home cares, and better health, will insist on a more elaborate program, though in the end the major portion of the work does not fall on them. Often it seems prompted by a pride that wants to surpass the hospitality of another class.
However, there are some sisters who have the matter of a luncheon down to the point of ideality, and if the friends knew that such methods gave us the greatest satisfaction they might adopt the same. Let me tell the method of a certain class where almost all week-day meetings are held at one home on the occasion of a Pilgrim visit since it is the only house large enough.
Probably 25 or 30 will sometimes stay over from one meeting to the next. They do not go to the table, but are asked to take seats around the room, leaving the middle of the room open for passage. Then there is passed to each one a picnic plate on which are two sandwiches (probably one is meat and one cheese), a pickle, a piece of cake and a banana (or some other fruit). Then tea or coffee or water is passed to each. On each plate is also a paper napkin.
There is no dish-washing, except of cups and saucers and
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spoons. Even tin cups will simplify this. When all are served, everybody is free to enjoy the discussion of Scripture questions, etc. As each one is through he puts his cup on a convenient table, from which sisters finally remove them in a few moments.
In this way the friends have clearer minds for the evening discourse and are in a better state to take in the more spiritual food. If any feel a cooked supper is necessary they can go to a nearby restaurant.
At the class I have in mind the Sister usually speaks to the Pilgrim brother earlier in the day somewhat like this: "Now, Brother, we know you must have little luncheons so often that something more substantial may be needed, so if you tell us what you want, we will see you have it." However, it suits me far better than a heavy supper, while there are other places where a memory of the elaborate variety of heavy food I am supposed and urged to eat, puts a little measure of fear into me when it is apparent I must endure it over again. If I had partaken of one-tenth of all the cake and rich things offered me during the last fifteen years, I would have finished my pilgrimage long ago.
These sisters at the place mentioned estimate the number to be provided for, and then divide it up amongst themselves. One brings 12 or 15 sandwiches, another the same, another a
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dozen bananas, etc., and thus the expense as well as the labor entailed is made very light.
Many of the sisters making extensive preparations for entertaining have the best of motives; they thus desire to show their appreciation of the presence of the friends, the Lord's children; but there is a lack of wisdom in it.
Another thing: When a home meeting is held the friends as they arrive are shown to a room where they can leave their coats. If they get there early enough this is all right, but it sometimes happens that even those coming in late are thus treated. Escorting them to where the wraps can be left, not only keeps the hostess out of meetings, but also preserves confusion among those near the stairway or hall; at least it distracts the attention of some. How much better if all such moved promptly to the nearest vacant chair, keeping their coats with them as they would in a more public place!
I also desire to mention the fact that the classes are not so particular to supply free literature to visiting strangers as they once were. I have been to public services, even, when not a single tract was on hand. It made me think of "Billy" Sunday's comments on "the deacon who didn't deak." That surely is one of the things to which the deacons of the various classes should see.
It isn't my intention to complain of the classes, for they are really in a glorious state, but there are some places where the foregoing suggestions might make them still more of a blessing to one another. With warmest Christian love,
Yours in the bonds of the Kingdom, B.H. BARTON
RE LOVE THE SUM OF ALL GRACES
MY DEAR PASTOR AND BROTHER IN CHRIST:--
Have thought many times of writing you since that most helpful article on Love appeared in THE WATCH TOWER, and especially since you suggested that we write you stating the progress and growth we have made in the development of this all-important fruit of the Spirit. And now as my cup of joy and blessing is simply overflowing in gratitude to our dear Heavenly Father, and to you, His faithful servant, for your loving ministry, I write you of my experiences.
Desiring more and more to become Christlike, I had been striving to develop more love. It became the burden of my prayer. Then in the providences of God the article on Love appeared in THE TOWER. It was just what I needed!--and how it helped me! By God's grace I have noted growth in love as I daily seek to walk in the Master's steps. It has helped me to be more kind, more patient, more sympathetic, and to daily examine myself by this standard. Truly, the articles in THE WATCH TOWER become more and more to me "meat in due season," and I rejoice to see how wonderfully the Lord is providing all things needful for them who love Him supremely. (`Philippians 4:19`.) The Lord is indeed blessing us during this period of waiting, that the Bride may make herself ready.
Would like to relate to you several experiences in the Volunteer work, which were a source of joy and help to me, and we believe of interest to you. The other day, in serving a nearby town with tracts, we learned in conversation with a merchant's son how much he and his father enjoyed the tracts. He said, "Father has been treasurer and a member of council of the Lutheran Church for many years, and they have recently reelected him, but he will not serve any more; he is thoroughly disgusted with it all, because there are so many hypocrites in the Church. We don't want anything to do with it." A lady, hearing the conversation, said, "I haven't been in Church for two years." We sought, by the Lord's help, to lend a helping hand. They received the literature with gladness and would surely read it.
The next day, going to another town, we met a gentleman on the train (a tract serving as an introduction), and he spoke freely concerning conditions in his (another Lutheran) Church. He told me, "You would be surprised to know how many read these tracts. Why some of our members (mentioning names of business men) won't come to Church any more. When approached about it they say, 'What is the use, I get Pastor Russell's sermons at my house every Sunday morning, and there I get just what I want, and I would not get that if I went to Church.'"
No doubt the Truth is reaching more people than we might realize. (`Ecclesiastes 11:6`.) However this may be, these experiences awakened in me a deeper concern and appreciation as to our privileges and opportunities, and a greater diligence in the service of our Lord and Master.
Again asking you to pardon me for the length of this letter, and thanking you for your loving service, which is proving invaluable to me, and praying that our loving Heavenly Father continue to bless and to keep you strong in the Lord and faithful unto death, I remain
Lovingly your brother in Christ, HIRAM P. KLEINHANS.
LETTERS FROM FRENCH BRETHREN
In accordance with the invitation of dear Brother Russell in his wonderful and comforting article on "Divine Love," published in the last July French TOWER, I am intending to write to him.
May the God of all grace and peace be with each of you in your activity for the Lord's cause, till by and by above we shall sing an everlasting alleluia to the honor and glory of our great Creator!
ELIE JERVILLE, Corporal at Bailleul.--Northern France.
I have received the PHOTO-DRAMA booklet, and wish I could eat it and know it by heart. Forward to my new address THE TOWER (French), the BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY and Brother Russell's sermon. I am not very old, enjoying spiritual life only during the past five months. I never would have believed that such love could be found among God's children. I have known the Bible for ten years, and that it was God's Word, yet I was without knowledge, since darkness surrounded me. Is it possible that I could ascribe to the loving God the cruelty to torture everlastingly His creatures? Oh, how much I now bless the Father for having made known to me His love!
Believe me your devoted brother, ALFRED BLAS.
Wounded soldier in the hospital at Meung, France (newly interested).
This second message to you is to show my love and to tell of the change in my character since receiving THE WATCH TOWER (French). You have addressed to us an invitation which has greatly helped me, and since that time I pray every morning and evening, and run to the Throne of Grace to confess my failures and my progress. Dear brother, I can tell you I have received great blessings, and I ask your prayers to the end that perfect love--not the love of the world, but that for life eternal--may abide in me.
Your sister in Christ's love, L.R.
I thank the Lord with all my heart for granting me to know your excellent books and also the dear WATCH TOWER (French), which I value as a pearl. The Lord in His mercy has sent us His messengers with the torch of the true Gospel. Therefore, as Paul said to Timothy, "Keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called." Forgive my intrusion, but I wished to tell you how much your labor and devotion are precious to my soul. M.R.--Switzerland.
It is ever with keen pleasure and deep gratitude to our God that I receive THE WATCH TOWER (French), that messenger of good news which is as refreshing water. (`Prov. 25:25`.) THE TOWER truly sums up our experiences, joys and hopes. As our face sees itself in a mirror, likewise the printed lines of THE TOWER reflect the truths we perceive in the Holy Word. Therefore, I more and more thank the Lord that I am among those having reached the 1335 days. I rejoice while listening attentively to the teaching of the faithful and wise servant.--`Rev. 1:3`.
The Lord bless you and keep you in His love through Jesus Christ!
Yours devotedly in Him, F. JUPIN.
Non-commissioned officer, Northern France.
I hasten to give you my most sincere thanks for so graciously sending your journal, THE WATCH TOWER (French), to my son, Oscar, who is a war prisoner in Germany. I take
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the liberty, sir, to present you my warmest felicitations for the work you have undertaken, which consists in giving to our associates spiritual meat in harmony with their faith and belief. I would gladly reimburse the expenses you have made for these services rendered to my son, who is very well pleased with THE WATCH TOWER and MILLENNIAL DAWN. Our correspondence with Switzerland not being allowed, I send this to my aforesaid son in Germany, who will transmit it to you.
Please believe, sir, in my deep gratitude and accept my Christian greetings. JOSEPH SERVAIS.
President of the Temperance Society--Belgium.
International Bible Students Association Classes STUDIES AND LECTURES BY MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION