ZWT - 1916 - R5821 thru R6024 / R5955 (257) - September 1, 1916
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VOL. XXXVII SEPTEMBER 1 NO. 17
A. D. 1916--A.M. 6044
Keeping the Lord's Commandments. . . . . . . . . 259
Christians have Three Commandments . . . . . 259
The Source of Our Severest Trials. . . . . . 260
"Take Heed to Yourselves". . . . . . . . . . . . 261
Sent Into Outer Darkness . . . . . . . . . . 262
The Harvest is Not Ended . . . . . . . . . . . . 263
Gentile Times Evidently Ended. . . . . . . . 264
Jewish and Christian Parallels . . . . . . . 264
The Burning of the Tares . . . . . . . . . . 265
Greater Sufferings-Greater Reward. . . . . . . . 265
Fellowship in Christ's Sufferings. . . . . . 265
Secret of His faithfulness . . . . . . . . . 265
A Plot That failed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 266
St. Paul Before Felix. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 268
A Doctrine Lost Sight Of . . . . . . . . . . 268
The Coming Judgment Day. . . . . . . . . . . 269
I.B.S.A. Conscripts in Great Britain . . . . . . 269
Interesting Letters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270
When Divorced People Are free to Marry . . . 271
Changed Attitude Toward Spiritism. . . . . . 271
NASHVILLE GENERAL CONVENTION
Governor Tom C. Rye, of Tennessee; Mayor Robert Ewing, of Nashville; Chairman Robert L. Burch, of Nashville Industrial Bureau; and President R.B. Brannon, of the Commercial Club of Nashville, have each and all extended a cordial invitation to the I.B.S.A. to hold its Convention in their City, promising a hearty and generous welcome.
FAVORABLE RAILROAD RATES
Thirty-five Railroads in the South have joined in making us an attractive rate of about 1-1/2c a mile to induce the largest possible number to attend this Convention. In every case, ask your Ticket Agent for the rate covered by Joint-Passenger Tariff No. Exc. 6747.
The Capitol Building, in which all of the sessions of the Convention will be held, is said to be located on the highest and coolest spot in the City. The Ryman Auditorium is the best in Nashville, and has been offered free by the City to the Association for the showing of the greatest Biblical production, THE PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION, and has been accepted for that purpose. The Princess Theater, which the City has provided for Brother Russell's public lecture, is the best.
AN ATTRACTIVE PROGRAM
FELLOWSHIP DAY: Thursday, August 24th--Brother P.S. L. Johnson, who will be the Chairman of the Convention, will give the opening address on "Christian Fellowship." In the afternoon short addresses on One Body, One Spirit, One Hope, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism and One God will be given by Brothers Riemer, Thorn, Jones, Toole, Stevens, Thornton and Wise.
TRANSFORMATION DAY: Friday, August 25--Pilgrim Brother Thornton will speak on "When He Shall Appear," and Pilgrim Brother Daniel Toole on "We Shall be Like Him." "The Quickening of the Spirit" and its bearing upon the Volumteer, Drama, Colporteur and Pastoral Work will be considered by Brothers Riemer, Jones, Thorn, Johnson.
RANSOM DAY: Saturday, August 26--After a discourse by Brother Palmer on "The Sufferings of Christ," there will be held at 11 o'clock in the morning a Question Meeting on the great, fundamental subject of THE RANSOM, conducted by Brother Russell, who in the afternoon will hold a Consecration Service, consisting of the Consecration of Children, Sermon on Baptism and Symbolic Immersion in Water.
KNOWLEDGE DAY: Sunday, August 27th--Pilgrim Brother M.E. Riemer will conduct the Berean Lesson for the day, and at 11 o'clock, Brother Russell will give a discourse on, "What, Know ye not,...ye are Bought with a Price?" (`1 Cor. 6:19, 20`.) In the afternoon he will speak in the Princess Theater to the public on "The World on Fire," and in the evening at 7 o'clock, in the Capitol Building, he will conduct the closing feature of the Convention--The Love Feast.
We are hoping for a good attendance at this Convention and believe that those attending will be richly blessed.
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"THIS ONE THING" THE SOCIETY DOES
Brethren write us from time to time respecting inventions, patents, mining claims, etc., desiring that THE WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY should join with them in the development of these--kindly offering the principal portion of all the profits.
We greatly appreciate these kind offers, the generous hearts behind them, and the love for the Truth and its service thus manifested. But we are obliged to refuse all such offers, because the Society engages in no kind of business for profit. It confines its business transactions to financiering the Pilgrim Work, publishing the SCRIPTURE STUDIES, etc., and supplying them at cost or below cost; publishing THE WATCH TOWER, publishing the BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY, etc., and in the presentation, and formerly in the showing, of the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION.
The Society engages in no kind of mining or patent business or speculations. The money under its control comes from the Lord's consecrated people, and often represents hard-earned funds and self-sacrificing economy; it is used strictly and only for the forwarding of the Truth according to the best judgment of the executive officers.
This does not mean any unwillingness to counsel with any of the brethren in respect to their earthly affairs and interests. We are glad to give such advice as we may be able to give on every matter, temporal or spiritual, involving the interests of the Lord's consecrated saints.
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KEEPING THE LORD'S COMMANDMENTS
THE Law given to Israel at Mount Sinai and summarized in the Ten Commandments was not given to any other nation or people. It is upon the Jew still, and is a bondage only because it was made a part of God's contract with that nation. If they would keep that Law perfectly they were to have certain special and exclusive blessings. If they failed to keep it, certain penalties were to result. But since that Law was the measure of a perfect man's ability, and since no Israelite, any more than others of the world of mankind, was perfect, therefore none of them could keep that Divine Law. None of them could get the blessings which it promised. All of them did get more or less of the curse, or punishment, which failure to keep the Law threatened. Thus Jesus said, "None of you keepeth the Law" (`John 7:19`); and St. Paul wrote, "By the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified in His sight."--`Romans 3:20`.
Nevertheless, the endeavor to keep that Law proved a great blessing to the people of Israel, and some of those Ancient Worthies who strove so faithfully and loyally, the Apostle assures us, will yet get a rich reward therefor. (`Hebrews 11:38-40`.) Messiah, after setting up His spiritual Kingdom, will constitute these Ancient Worthies princes and rulers in all the earth--under and subject to Himself and His Elect Church on the spirit plane.
Jesus, although a member of our race according to the flesh, had an unimpaired life, transferred from the spirit plane to His virgin mother's womb. Thus He did not inherit either sin or its condemnation, but was born "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." (`Hebrews 7:26`.) Because of this perfection Jesus was able to do what no other member of the human family ever did or could do. He was able to keep the Law fully and completely in its every detail. And He did more than keep the Law. He sacrificed earthly rights and privileges which the Law declared He had a right to. Thus Jesus has a merit--a right to earthly life aside from the life which He now has on the spirit plane, and which was a reward from the Father for His obedience unto death, "even the death of the Cross."--`Philippians 2:8`.
It is that earthly life which forms the basis for the New Covenant arrangement that God has promised to establish through the glorified Messiah. In due time He will appropriate the merit of His sacrifice--His right to human life--as the full satisfaction for Father Adam's disobedience and his death penalty. Thus purchasing the
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race, by giving a corresponding price, the great Redeemer will take over His purchased possession--man and his earthly home--and for a thousand years will exercise His privilege of assisting all the members of Adam's family who are willing to rise up out of sin, imperfection and death-conditions to human perfection and everlasting life. Those blessings could not come under the Law Covenant, because mankind could not keep the Law Covenant; but they will come to the willing and obedient under the gracious terms of the New Covenant, which promises mercy and forgiveness, and the taking away of the stony heart and the giving instead the heart of flesh and the renewing of a right spirit in all of those who will be rightly exercised by the corrections and glorious privileges of Messiah's Kingdom.
CHRISTIANS HAVE THREE COMMANDMENTS
Christians--disciples or followers of Jesus--from amongst the Gentiles never were under the Mosaic Law given at Mount Sinai. They are received into God's family as sons under a different Covenant--the one which reads: "Gather My saints together unto Me," saith the Lord, "those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice." (`Psalm 50:5`.) Jesus, after keeping fully all the conditions and requirements of the Law Covenant, under which He was born, was permitted to respond to this Covenant of Sacrifice. He was first, the Chief, the Head of the Household of Saints who entered into this Covenant of Sacrifice with God--agreeing to sacrifice His earthly life and all its rights in the doing of the Father's will even unto death. It was His faithfulness in this that gained for Him the better resurrection to glory, honor and immortality--the Divine nature.
During this Gospel Age, some saintly ones have responded to the Lord's invitation to walk in Jesus' steps. Through the merit of His sacrifice, Jesus was privileged to be the Advocate with the Father on behalf of all this company called to be His Bride class and joint-heirs. He has imputed His merit to their sacrifice, thus making it complete and acceptable in the Father's sight. Each one of the followers of Jesus, energized by His spirit of devotion, not only makes the covenant, but fulfils it, with the assistance of his glorious Redeemer. Thus eventually they will come off through Him "more than conquerors," and be joint-heirs in the Kingdom.
To these the Apostle writes, "Ye are not under the Law, but under grace." These are not under the Law Covenant, requiring of them absolute and perfect obedience to every item of the Jewish Law. They are under grace, or Divine favor, which does not require the fulfilment of the whole of the Law by them--a requirement which they could not fulfil. Instead, as the Apostle tells us, "the righteousness of the Law [its real requirement,
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the spirit of its requirement] is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." (`Romans 8:4`.) Thus, although not under the Law Covenant, the will of God, which was the spirit of the Jewish Law, is binding upon every Christian in proportion to his knowledge of it.
THE CHRISTIAN'S FIRST AND SECOND COMMANDS
Speaking of the spirit of the Law, applicable to angels, to the world of mankind and to Christians, Jesus declared it to be briefly comprehended in two commandments. The first of these is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, being and strength." The second is, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Every Christian and every angel recognizes that Law and feels a responsibility to it to the extent of his ability; but neither angels nor Christians are under the Law Covenant--that covenant was made only with the nation of Israel.
Every follower of Jesus should realize that if he has enlisted under the banner of Divine righteousness and truth he has pledged his very life in this service as a soldier of the Cross. How then could he do less than his very best in loving and serving his Heavenly Father with all his mind, being and strength? How could he decline the Divine requirement to love his neighbor as himself-- to be kind, generous, not selfish? True, the New Creature may find difficulty in devoting all of his mind and strength to the Lord and in dealing in perfect fairness with all his fellow-creatures. But this is the New Creature's desire and intention, and to accomplish which he must strive daily, and war a good warfare against the natural inherited weaknesses of his old nature--his flesh. In proportion to his love for the Lord will be his zeal in this warfare; and proportionate also will be the reward that will be given him in the end by the Heavenly Father.
But what an unseen warfare is being waged amongst the followers of the Lord wherever they are! The world sees not and knows not of this conflict; but it is very real, and the Lord takes note of the loyalty and faithfulness of these convenantors--these who have made a covenant with the Lord by sacrifice--consecrating their little all of time, talent, influence, prospects. Having consecrated, they are to maintain this attitude of consecration daily, hourly--presenting their bodies "living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, and their reasonable service."--`Rom. 12:1`.
If weak or fallen according to the flesh, these are to remember that they are no longer fleshly or human beings, and that the weaknesses are not theirs; for they are now New Creatures in Christ Jesus, to whom old things have passed away and all things have become new. They have new ambitions, new ideals, and new relationship with God. They do not love sin, but love righteousness. They hate sin. They have enlisted to death to war a warfare against sin, especially in their own flesh. They have the satisfaction of knowing that while fellowmen might not see their battlings, might not know of the courageous effort they put forth in opposition to sin, yet the Lord looketh not at the outward man, but at the heart, and His judgment is not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit--the mind, the intention, the endeavor. Thus there are some great, valiant soldiers of the Cross, whom the world knows not; but all of these will eventually be crowned and have a share with Jesus in His Kingdom.
THE CHRISTIAN'S THIRD COMMANDMENT
At first it would appear that these two commandments itemized by Jesus would include everything that could be required by justice; and so they do. Justice requires nothing more than what these two commands include. Why then did Jesus give another command--a third one-- a new one, over and above anything that the Divine Law required? We reply that this third commandment is not applicable to any except those who become the disciples of Jesus. This third commandment the Father did not put upon Jesus; He voluntarily put this regulation upon Himself, and laid down His life sacrificially--a thing which no law could justly demand. The Father did not require that Jesus should do this in the sense of commanding Him to do it; but He did require it in the sense that He promised glory, honor, immortality, the Divine nature and the Messianic Kingdom to the saintly One who would enter the Covenant of Sacrifice.
Jesus, therefore, in entering this Covenant of Sacrifice, did more than what the Law given to Israel required. Therefore, when pointing out to His disciples the conditions upon which He would be their Advocate, and the conditions upon which He would guarantee to them a share with Himself in the Heavenly things, He specified the importance of this third commandment. "A new commandment I give unto you--that ye love one another as I have loved you." (`John 15:12`.) St. Paul points out that Christ loved us to the extent of dying for us, and that all of the true followers of Jesus, possessed of His Spirit, should likewise count it a joy to be permitted to lay down their lives in the service of the brethren. "We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren."
Gradually the eyes of our understanding have been opening wider and wider to see the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God; and as a result we have been striving more and more to love and to serve our God with all our heart, mind, being, strength. More and more, also, we have learned to appreciate the necessity for dealing justly and kindly with the members of our families, with our neighbors, with all mankind-- loving our neighbors as ourselves. We may have congratulated ourselves on the progress we have been making, and surely we all need some encouragements while battling with the old nature!
THE SOURCE OF OUR SEVEREST TRIALS
But now, behold the New Commandment, requiring a still greater devotion to the will of our Father and to the leadership of our Savior! The rule of righteousness is to be observed toward our Heavenly Father and toward all our neighbors; but toward the brethren of the Household of Faith we are to do more than the right--we are to suffer, we are to sacrifice on their behalf, in their interests. "We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren." Oh, what a searching proposition this Covenant of Sacrifice is! How strange that it should be on behalf of the brethren that we should be expected to sacrifice, to lay down our lives!
At first some one might say, "To sacrifice will be a very easy matter when it is done in the interests of the brethren, more so than if done for the world." However, experience shows that many of God's dear people, striving to keep the first two commandments, find it more easy to sacrifice time, influence and strength in the service of the world than in the service of the brethren. Somehow we are inclined to expect more from the brethren than from others, and inclined to make less allowance for weaknesses in the brethren than in others. There seems to be no condition in which God's people are more tried as respects their spiritual graces than by one another, with
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one another. It is not merely theory; it proves itself out.
All over the world there are Class troubles. Truly we read, "the Lord will judge His people," and again, "the Lord your God proveth you"! Testings and siftings are coming on and many of the dear saints of the Lord who
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have made a Covenant of Sacrifice with Him do not seem to realize that these Class troubles amongst the brethren are means which the Lord permits to test and to demonstrate the characters of His people--their love for Him, His Word, His will, their justice to all men, doing unto others as they would that they should do to them, and, finally, their spirit of self-sacrifice in respect to what they will do for or bear from the brethren in laying down their lives for them.
EXHORTATIONS TO BROTHERLY LOVE
We fear greatly that some of the Lord's saints, failing to appreciate the situation, are failing to be overcomers in these matters; and that their place in the Royal Priesthood may thus be endangered. We are not rebuking any; we are not finding fault with any. But we encourage all to remember the Covenant of Sacrifice into which we have entered as represented in the Third Commandment-- that we love one another as the Master loved us--even to the extent of dying for us.
If this matter could be rightly appreciated, if more loving sympathy could be felt one for the other, we would not be inclined to impute evil motives to each other's words and conduct. Rather we would be glad to assume that they were sincere, whether we could agree fully with all their doings and proposals or not. And being full of love for the brethren, our refusal to join with them in what we consider unwise or unscriptural arrangements would be presented in such kind and considerate, sympathetic and gentle terms as would be helpful to them.
Therefore, let us each strive to judge himself, and not to condemn one another. Let us each scrutinize our motives in respect to every action, every word of life, and especially in all of our dealings with the brethren. Let us each assume that the others of the class are as loving and as loyal to the Lord as ourself. Let us each remember that it is a privilege to sacrifice our own preferences and conveniences in favor of the preferences and conveniences of others of the brethren, wherever positive principles would not thereby be infringed; and we may even sacrifice positive principles of justice as respects our own interests, if thereby the peace, fellowship and prosperity of the brethren will be conserved.
And even if, despite our every endeavor to the contrary, it should finally seem necessary for a class to divide, nevertheless love for the brethren ought to be the blessed tie that binds, no matter how much the conveniences of the class or other reasons might make it necessary for us to subdivide. "Love as brethren" ought to love. "Be kind, considerate, gentle, one toward another, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."--`Ephesians 4:32`.
"HEREBY WE MAY KNOW"
It seems remarkable that the Apostle, in pointing out one of the surest signs by which the Lord's people may know positively that they have been begotten of the Holy Spirit, says: "Hereby we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." (`1 John 3:14`.) How strange that love of the brethren should be the crucial test, as we have already pointed out in the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES--and as we may seriously fear will be more and more manifest as we come down toward the consummation of our hope!
As the Apostle has said, "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." (`1 John 3:18`.) This is a personal matter. Each one of us is under this testing. If not yet, sooner or later, undoubtedly, this willingness to sacrifice in the interests of the brethren will prove each one of us either loyal, faithful to our covenant, or contrariwise--unfaithful. Let us make this matter of love for the brethren and laying down of our lives for the brethren a matter of personal study and of practical application to our own hearts, minds, thoughts, words, actions. And let us pray for one another, as well as exhort one another along these lines, striving to be filled with our Master's Spirit.
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"TAKE HEED TO YOURSELVES"
"Remember Lot's Wife."--`Luke 17:32`
IN CONNECTION with our dear Master's prophetic warnings respecting the trials and testings of the present day, He uttered the words of our text. The significance of these words should be comprehended by all who are walking in the light of "Present Truth." The lesson is that those who, under the special guidance of the Lord, are now fleeing for safety to the Mountain of the Lord's Kingdom, will be held to a much stricter account than are others. Lot's wife was not accused of having shared in the evil practices of the people of Sodom, but she had been instructed by the angel of the Lord to leave Sodom at once, as it was doomed.
Her fault was that of looking back to that which she had been commanded to leave, and which she had left. She was told to flee from the condemned city, and not to look back as she fled, but to hasten on to the mountain of safety. We may reasonably suppose that her turning and looking back toward Sodom implied a heart not fully in harmony with her deliverance, but in some degree sympathetic with what she was leaving. She at heart clung to the accursed things condemned to destruction and was loath to give them up. Therefore the Lord brought her no further. She became a monument of the folly of sympathizing with evil, and with evil-doers, after God has given them up.
We believe there are some now who need to have their attention called to the antitype of this typical incident referred to by our Lord. Quite a number are disposed to sympathize and fraternize with those who have come under Divine condemnation. We are told by St. Jude that the destruction of Sodom was "set forth as an example," or type. Those who assume to be more gracious and long-suffering than the Lord, make of themselves opponents, who instead of being students of the principles of righteousness, attempt to be judges and teachers of Jehovah. The proper attitude of heart accepts God's decision as not only wiser but more just than our own. Consequently, when we see any who have enjoyed the light of Present Truth abandoned by the Lord and led into outer darkness, we are to conclude that before being thus abandoned there must have been in them "an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." "He is faithful who hath promised" that "if any man will do His [the Father's] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." (`John 7:17`.) Whoever, therefore, loses the doctrines of Christ after once having had them, has surely done more than get his head confused. His heart must have been separated from the Lord previously; for so long as we abide in Him, it will not be possible for any of the snares of this "evil day," this "hour of temptation," to entrap us; none shall pluck us out of the Father's hand; He is fully able to take care of us.
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FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
At the very foundation of all Christian doctrine lies the doctrine of the Ransom, the Scriptural teaching that "we are bought with a price," a corresponding price for Adam's sin. Any teaching, therefore, which either openly denies or quietly ignores this foundation doctrine, "the Ransom for all, to be testified in due time," must be a doctrine at variance with God's Revelation. Whether it be old or new, whether it be advocated by friends or by foes, by the learned or by the unlearned, in the name of Evolution or in some other name, our attitude toward it should be prompt and decided opposition. If others waver, we who have learned that the Ransom is the test by which all doctrines are to be proved, need not waver, and should not.
If our friends get into the quicksands of no-Ransom errors, whose name is now legion, and the numbers entrapped growing continually, we should lend them a helping hand wherever possible, "pulling them out of the fire," by reminding them of the Rock Christ Jesus, whereon our feet are firmly established, and by throwing to them the rope of Divine promises, throughout which is woven the scarlet thread of the Ransom of Christ, and exhort them to come back to the Rock and not to attempt to find another rock at the bottom of the quicksands. And we must use great plainness of speech in showing them their danger and in pointing out the way of escape.
But we must not accept their invitation to join with them in exploring what men can say or write which would tend to make the Word of God of none effect, which would claim that God has all along been the sinner and man the dupe; or that the hope of mankind is in their own evolution, and not in the Ransom and Restitution of the Scriptures; or that there is no sin and no death, really, and that man therefore needs no Redeemer, but can be his own savior. If after kind and faithful remonstrance on your part they still persist in exploring and delving into and feeding upon such evident contradictions of God's Word, let them go. Remember that there must be something wrong at their hearts, if they have ever been God's children
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at all, else they would have no pleasure in the unfruitful works of darkness, but would reprove them, and their delight would be in God's great Plan of the Ages.
SENT INTO OUTER DARKNESS
Let us remember, too, that God has promised to keep and guide the minds of those whose hearts are loyal and true to Him. We should therefore conclude that if the Lord is thrusting any one out of the light as unworthy of it, into the outer darkness of the world, if He is permitting unfaithful ones to be seduced by the great enemy, it is not our mission to follow them into the outer darkness by reading, conversation, etc. We are to remain with the Lord and those who are walking in the light, and to seek others to take the places and crowns of those who now deny or ignore the precious blood of the Covenant wherewith they were once sanctified.
Neither are we to waste sympathy upon those who depart. If we can neither persuade them nor pull them out of the fire, we must let them go, and should turn at once and render aid to others more worthy. When the Lord has put any out of the light (`Matthew 22:13, 14`), we cannot hope to bring them back. Had it been proper for them to remain in the light, if they had been worthy of it, He would not have permitted them to be put out of it.
NO FELLOWSHIP WITH "UNFRUITFUL WORKS"
We do not here refer to slight differences of understanding, which should be patiently dealt with and explained or overlooked, as all children in the School of Christ have not attained to the same "step," or degree of knowledge; but we do refer to those radical differences, all of which may be quickly proved by the test of the Ransom doctrine. If they agree not with this, "it is because there is no light in them." And such are no longer to be to us brothers or sisters in Christ, but should be considered and treated as of the world--"as a heathen man or a publican." These are not to be numbered among our friends; for the friendship of such is enmity against God. We are not to receive or entertain such at our houses, nor bid them or their work God-speed in any manner. (`2 John 8-11`.) Some who have neglected the plain statement of God's Word on this subject have suffered spiritually for their disobedience.
Let us more and more be of one mind with the Lord. His friends must be our friends; His enemies our enemies. If we affiliate with the Lord's enemies, we shall at least get into a luke-warm condition towards Him and His friends; and the luke-warm, God declares He will spew out of His mouth. We should cultivate warmth of heart toward all who trust in the precious blood and are consecrated to our Redeemer as their Lord and Head. There must be no lukewarmness there. Whatever their peculiarities according to the flesh, we cannot be other than brethren to them in spirit, with all the helpfulness and sympathy which brotherhood in Christ implies. But we must not, cannot, have any fellowship with the ungodly, the sinners against light and Truth, and scorners of the grace of God. And although if they were destitute we would feed them, yet so long as they are the opponents and adversaries of the Lord's Cause and His Truth, they are our adversaries and we theirs. The Lord loves positiveness with harmlessness, and of us it should be true as it is prophetically written of our Lord and the true members of His Body in `Psalm 139:19-24`.
This injunction of our Lord, to "remember Lot's wife," also applies particularly to the Lord's people who have heard His call of the present time to "come out" of Babylon, and have left this condemned "city." Whoever, therefore, is being led of the Lord's angels (messengers) to a place of safety ere the foretold destruction overtakes the present Order, as were Lot and his family before the destruction of Sodom, let him not look back or otherwise manifest sympathy with that which is condemned of the Lord to overthrow and destruction.
HEART LOYALTY AND OUTWARD LOYALTY IN NEXT AGE
In the next Age, when the world shall have been brought to a knowledge of the Truth, the opportunity will be granted them to show forth what is the real attitude of their hearts toward God. Some after coming to see the goodness and loving-kindness of the Lord, will still prefer sin; and God's sentence upon them will again be the sentence of death--Second Death. A certain period will be granted them to learn of the great goodness of the Lord and of their opportunity of gaining eternal life. If they do not then manifest an interest in their own salvation and an appreciation of God's goodness in Christ, and a desire to be helped up out of sin and degradation, they will receive the final wages of sin, utter and eternal destruction in the Second Death.
There will apparently be some in that time who will seem to desire assistance up to a better life, a righteous life, who will yield obedience in perhaps only an outward way to the laws of the Kingdom. These, we understand, will be permitted to live on and be gradually brought up to a condition of physical and mental perfection; they may live through to the full end of the thousand years of Christ's Reign. At the end of that time they, with all others then living, will be turned over by Christ to the
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Father for a final crucial testing. If these then prove that their wills have not been wholly given up to God, that they do not yet appreciate the costly provision made for their salvation, and the value of righteousness, they will be destroyed as unworthy of Divine approval and unworthy of everlasting life. If the demonstration which will then have been given them of the Wisdom, the Justice and the Love of God will not have changed their hearts to entire devotion to Him and to His glorious and righteous will, any further opportunity would be utterly useless. They will be cut off from earth as cumberers of the ground, that only the righteous, the holy, may live throughout the ages of eternity.
Of the world God will require a full consecration to do His will. It must include their entire selves, their wills, their bodies--their whole-hearted allegiance. It will not be a consecration unto sacrifice, unto death, as is now the case with the Church; but they must become wholly devoted to God and must realize and recognize that they belong to God, that they have been bought, purchased back from death, and may, if obedient, live forever. We all see how reasonable is this requirement. Adam, who was created in God's likeness, should have said, "I belong to God. He gave me my life and all I have." But he had not fully learned to trust the Wisdom and Love of his Maker. He had a perfect brain, a perfect organism; but he lacked full knowledge of the character of the Lord and of the justice of all His requirements. His incomplete knowledge, therefore, rendered him to some extent excusable in God's sight. If he had taken the stand of opposition to the Lord with clear knowledge and experience, apparently he would not have been accounted worthy of redemption. The whole world will, then, when they reach perfection, realize that they owe everything to God, and, if loyal at heart, will wish to render all to Him in glad service--to the praise of His name.
While it would have been eminently proper for the world, as with Adam, to render perfect obedience to God, even if man had never sinned and been redeemed, the fact that they have sinned, and yet have been redeemed through God's abounding love and mercy, and will be given another opportunity, a full individual opportunity, to gain life eternal, furnishes a double reason why they should devote themselves fully to God and His service forevermore. Those who are bought with blood--the precious blood of the Son of God, through whom they were created--who were redeemed by such a Sacrifice, should rejoice to bind themselves to all eternity to the God who so loved them, and should count it their most precious privilege to render homage and worship and praise forever to such a Creator and such a Redeemer.
"NOT MY OWN, BUT SAVED BY JESUS"
The Church of Christ realize, as none others can, the mighty significance of the words, "Ye are bought with a price, and ye are not your own." Our decision has been made that we will indeed be the glad bond-servants of Him who thus loved and bought us. We have no rights left. Our all is on the altar of sacrifice with our Lord; and God has ratified our decision. We are now under the most binding of obligations. Unless our lives are laid down in harmony with our contract we can never have eternal life on any plane.
Of these who have assumed this obligation there are two classes. There is one class who will do all they have covenanted to do. These will "receive the full reward." (`2 John 8`.) Then there is the other class who, having made the same covenant, fail to fulfil their contract. But just as the endorser of a note is responsible, so the Lord Jesus will see to it that these finish the sacrifice which they have covenanted to make. Their lives must be yielded up. If they rebel against the enforced destruction of their flesh, they will be sinning wilfully, and will die the Second Death, from which there will be no recovery.
All the Covenantors have agreed to glorify God in their bodies, to lay them down faithfully in His service. Anything less could not be acceptable; and we should not think of rendering anything less. Let us, then, proceed with the work of sacrificing these earthly bodies, which are the Lord's--not that we should use them up in a suicidal way, without regard to the strain upon the flesh, but in a reasonable, sane manner let us daily, hourly, glorify God in our bodies, continuing our sacrifice even unto the end, whether that end be a few weeks off or a few months or a few years.
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THE HARVEST IS NOT ENDED
SOME of us were quite strongly convinced that the Harvest would be ended by now, but our expectations must not be allowed to weigh anything as against the facts. The fact is that the Harvest Work is going grandly on; it is not ended by any means. As far as our present judgment goes, it would appear that there is a considerable Harvest Work yet to be done. This is not discouraging, but encouraging to us. We are glad to know of the grace of God reaching other heads and hearts and blessing them as ours have been blessed. We are glad to know that others are daily coming into blessed relationship with the Lord under the Covenant of Sacrifice, and are giving evidence of having been begotten of the Holy Spirit. We are glad to note their zeal, and rejoice with them that they, as well as we, can share in this glorious opportunity of making our calling and election sure by the character development which we are daily learning to appreciate as the prime essential of the "more than conquerors." All those must be copies of God's dear Son, our Lord Jesus. We would have been glad to have entered upon our work beyond the veil; but we are better pleased to continue our labors on this side the veil, because such is the Lord's will for us.
At first we were inclined to surmise that the Harvest proper had closed in October, 1914, and that the work since going on was a gleaning work; but the facts seem not to bear this out. The progress of the work and the numbers who are being brought to a knowledge of the Truth and separated to the Lord are far too great to be styled a gleaning. Evidently it is a part of the regular Harvest. Besides, we are being more and more impressed with the closing features of the Elijah and the Elisha type. More and more we are impressed that Elijah's smiting of the river Jordan, the waters thereof being thus divided, pictures a mighty work yet to be accomplished, and apparently in the very near future. What will be the antitype of the folding up of Elijah's mantle, symbolizing his power? and how long it may require to thus concentrate the forces for the smiting? we do not know. We must wait, watch, and do our parts. Then how long it will require to accomplish the smiting of the waters is also an uncertainty; and how quickly the people will be divided by the Truth is also an uncertainty.
But admitting that even so great a work could be accomplished under the Lord's blessing and direction in a very short time, we could still not expect the results in less than about three years. We are not fixing the time, however, for we know of no time features applicable before
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us--even as Elijah and Elisha were not sent to any definite place after reaching Jordan. We are merely giving our surmise--that a great work is before us, and that we cannot see how it could be accomplished in much less than three years.
It will be after the smiting of Jordan--after the division of the people by the Message of the Truth and the mantle of Elijah's power--that the separation of the Church into two classes will take place. Thereafter, the Elijah class, the Little Flock Class, will be clearly manifested, separate and distinct from the Great Company Class. The division, be it remembered, will be caused by the fiery chariot--some very severe, trying ordeal, which the Elect Class will promptly accept and enter into; the Elisha Class holding back from the persecution, but not drawing back to sin or to a repudiation of the Lord. It will be but a little later on that the whirlwind (probably anarchy) will bring about the "change" of the Elijah Class.
GENTILE TIMES EVIDENTLY ENDED
It still seems clear to us that the prophetic period known as the Times of the Gentiles ended chronologically in October, 1914. The fact that the Great Day of Wrath upon the nations began there marks a good fulfilment of our expectations. The Gentile nations were guaranteed a certain amount of possession and control for a certain period of time. That time having expired, dispossession proceedings are now in process. The winds of strife, winds of war, are let loose with great damage to the whole world, weakening the kingdoms of Europe in respect to their best blood and their financial strength.
How long the war may yet last, who could say? All the belligerent nations are proud and self-confident. The humbling, which the Bible mentions, has not yet been accomplished. It is possible that the war may continue for quite a while yet, before the nations shall have been weakened and humbled sufficiently to desire peace. Then will come other troubles. Revolutions will threaten; the governments will associate themselves still more firmly with the nominal church systems, both seeking protection and strength. Next we may expect the great collapse of Spiritual Babylon, leading on to the great revolution-earthquake of Revelation, "So mighty an earthquake as was not since men were upon the earth." (`Revelation 16:18`.) This in turn, will lead on, according to our understanding of the Bible, to the terrible anarchy, in which all present institutions will succumb before the fire of human passion, prejudice, etc. Then, at the auspicious moment, the Gentile dominions having passed away, Messiah's Kingdom will manifest itself for the blessing of the whole world, and will prove to be "the desire of all peoples."--`Haggai 2:7`.
We see no reason for doubting, therefore, that the Times of the Gentiles ended in October, 1914; and that a few more years will witness their utter collapse and the full establishment of God's Kingdom in the hands of Messiah. But by that time, the Elijah Class will have passed beyond the Veil; for "when He [Jesus] shall appear in His glory, we [the Church] also will appear with Him."
OUR MISTAKE RESPECTING THE HARVEST
Our readers will remember that the basis of our expectations respecting the Harvest time was the parallelism between the closing of the Jewish Age and the closing of this Gospel Age. We found the beginning of the Harvest time clearly marked by the 1335 Days of prophecy, and by the fulfilment amongst God's people of the declaration: "Oh, the blessedness of him that waiteth and cometh to the end of the 1335 days!" (`Daniel 12:12`.) Surely great blessedness, great enlightenment of the eyes of understanding, great appreciation of our God and His glorious purposes came to the Lord's people at that time in full agreement with that prophecy! Ever since then a new song has been in the mouths of the Lord's people, as they have learned of His goodness through the Divine Plan of the Ages. We see no reason to question the date, October, 1874, as the beginning of the Harvest time and the parallel to the time when Jesus began His ministry in the Harvest time of the Jewish Age.
Our mistake was along the very line that we pointed out. Time and again, we reminded our readers that the parallelism between the Jewish Age and the Gospel Age could not include anything belonging to the New Dispensation. The parallels affected merely the nominal Jewish House there and the nominal Christian House here. Both were rejected because of failure to be in the right condition of heart for the truths that were due to them--both rejected for destruction. The Jewish System was a Church-State affair, paralleled here by the great Church-State systems of Europe, whose destruction began in 1914.
Let us remember, however, that the three and a half years of Jesus' ministry were more a time of preparation of the Apostles to be the instruments for the harvesting and a sharpening preparation of the Sickle of Truth for the later work, which began at Pentecost. There was no "garner" into which to gather the wheat prior to Pentecost.
JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN PARALLELS
JEWISH-NOMINAL CHURCH CHRISTIAN-NOMINAL CHURCH
A.D. 29-33 A.D. 1874-1878
"They knew not the time of their visitation."
A.D. 33-36 A.D. 1878-1881
The Most Holy Anointed, Divine favor prolonged for three and a half years to complete the 70 weeks of favor promised to Israel, their rejection being deferred.
A.D. 36-73 A.D. 1881-1918
Because of the overspreading of abominations, He shall make it desolate, even until the consummation of utter destruction--until all that God has predetermined shall be accomplished.--`Daniel 9:24-27`.
No parallels as between the Pentecostal Church and the true Church now are to be looked for. But the resurrection of Jesus before the Church harvesting began may well be considered to have its parallel here in the resurrection of the sleeping members of the church--1878 A.D.
We should not have looked for parallelisms between the starting of the Gospel Church and its experiences, and the starting in the Harvest time of the Heavenly Church and its experiences. These are no part to the parallel. The parallel belongs to the nominal Jewish System, which went to destruction, and to the nominal Gospel Church, which is now going to destruction.
We imagined that the Harvest work of gathering the Church would be accomplished before the end of the Gentile Times; but nothing in the Bible so said. Our thought was purely an inference, and now we see that it was an unjustified one. This Harvest work belongs to the New Dispensation and cannot be identified with the Old. Anyway, the harvesting of the Jewish Age, gathering "Israelites indeed" into the Gospel Church, did not close with
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A.D. 70, but progressed in various parts of the world thereafter. Quite a good many Jews, doubtless, profiting by their terrible experience, were all the better prepared to be gathered into the Gospel Garner after the destruction of their national polity. Similarly, we may expect that quite a good many will yet be gathered to the Heavenly Garner, and we know of no time-limit here.
Incidentally we remark that some historians put the
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end of the Jewish Time of Trouble as April A. D. 73, which would correspond to April 1918.
Are we regretful that the Harvest work continues? Nay, verily; we rejoice and have the pleasure each day of showing forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His most marvelous light; and we delight in seeing how others are being benefited and made to rejoice. Are we regretful of the experiences we have had in coming to this present point? Do we feel like repining that the Lord did not force upon us more careful attention to the parallelism? Nay, verily; the Lord's leadings have been good. Perhaps, indeed, we got benefit from the thought that the Harvest work would soon be ended. Perhaps it led us to deeper consecration and greater activity in the service of the Lord, in ourselves and for others. We therefore have nothing to regret.
"Who led us first, will lead us still,
Calmly we sink into His will."
THE BURNING OF THE TARES
In the parable of the "the Wheat and the Tares," the Master puts very prominently the gathering of the tares and the binding of them in bundles for burning. We assumed that this burning would not take place until all the wheat had been gathered into the Heavenly Garner; but apparently this was an incorrect thought. The garnering of the wheat continues; but apparently the consuming of the tares will correspond very closely with the division of Jordan. The tares are a class of (often) noble people who have risen up out of the world infused with hopes and aims of a benevolent character, but misled into thinking that they are the Church. From the tare viewpoint, the wheat are an abnormal growth, a peculiar people, few in number, and not held in high esteem. The smiting of the waters will reveal the truth in respect to what is the real Church of Christ, and what are imitations; and the honest-minded Tare Class will be undeceived, and cease to longer pretend that they are the Church of Christ-- thus they will be burned or cease to be as tares, continuing however as noble-minded worldly people and will have a share in the general blessings of the "sweet by and by" under the Kingdom, for which we still pray.
Our present attitude, dear brethren, should be one of great gratitude toward God, increasing appreciation of the beautiful Truth which He has granted us the privilege of seeing and being identified with, and increasing zeal in helping to bring that Truth to the knowledge of others. In the meantime, our eyes of understanding should discern clearly the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty now in progress; and our faith, guiding our eyes of understanding through the Word, should enable us to see the glorious outcome--Messiah's Kingdom. Furthermore, we can be fully content not to know how long the Harvest Work will last--content that the great Captain, who by Divine appointment has the entire matter in charge, is too wise to err, and has promised us that all of our experiences shall work together for our good if we love Him and are of "the called ones according to His purpose," seeking to make our calling and election sure.
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GREATER SUFFERINGS--GREATER REWARD
--SEPTEMBER 24.--`2 CORINTHIANS 4:16-18`.--
FAINT NOT IN TRIBULATION--THE NATURAL MAN PERISHES-- THE NEW CREATURE GROWS--WHAT ARE LIGHT AFFLICTIONS?
--WHAT IS THEIR DURATION?--WHAT IS THEIR
OBJECT?--HOW SHALL WE ATTAIN THIS OBJECT?
"The things which are not seen are eternal."--`Verse 18`.
WHAT great Christian courage St. Paul's words and deeds manifest! He that endured so many hardships, a veritable thrashing-machine experience, nevertheless writes: "We faint not; for though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." Ah, that was the secret of the matter-- the renewing of the inward man, the New Creature! The tribulations of the outward man would have been terrible experiences indeed had there been no inward man to take a different view of matters and to learn valuable lessons and experiences from the outward man's tribulations. The inward man had God's assurance that if God were for him the opposition of all others would be as nothing. He had the assurance that God would overrule all of his experiences for his highest welfare. He had the assurance of the Lord, too, that the glories of the future would be proportionate to the trials faithfully endured.
FELLOWSHIP IN CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS
Ah, here we have the secret of the Apostle's great zeal for God, for the Church, for the Truth! He endured as seeing Him who is invisible to natural eyes. (`Hebrews 11:27`.) St. Paul lived a double life, in the sense that to man he was Saul of Tarsus, but in reality he was Paul, the servant of God, the New Creature in Christ Jesus. The world knew him not; but he knew himself, knew his God; and he was energized by the power Divine and by the Message of God's Word, which spoke to him peace and relationship to God through Christ, and also informed him of the glory, honor and immortality awaiting all the faithful ones at the end of the way.
And this secret of the Apostle's own experience is an open one to all of God's family of spirit-begotten children who faithfully are continuing to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and to be taught of Him through the Word. We do not have so large a manifestation of Divine favor as had Jesus, the Head of the Church, and the Apostles, the foremost members of the Church; but still we have in a general way the same favors of God, the same promises of God, the same inspiring hopes which they had. Let us not forget the Apostle's endurance when we read his words: "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."--`2 Corinthians 4:17`.
The Apostle gives the same thought when, writing about the resurrection, he declares how it will be with the Church in the resurrection. All the faithful will be glorified, honored, blessed, perfected--not blessed in the same degree, however; but, "As star differeth from star in glory, so also it will be in the resurrection of the dead." (`1 Corinthians 15:41, 42`.) The same lesson is given us in Daniel's prophecy, where the resurrection is referred to and the resurrected ones are illustrated by the stars, whose beauty and brilliancy vary.--`Daniel 12:1-3`.
The Apostle's argument was that if the sufferings of Christ, in the Divine arrangement, are to measure the coming glories of Christ, then he desired to be a participator with the Lord in the present sufferings in order that he might also be a participator with Him in the coming glories. Instead, therefore, of saying to himself or to others: "I am doing more than my share of the Gospel work; and some others of you should come and help me, and give me a rest." St. Paul took the other view. He declared himself willing and anxious to fill up as much as possible that which was behind of the afflictions of Christ
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(`Colossians 1:24`.) He counted it all joy to have tribulation, knowing that tribulation would work out the fruits of the Holy Spirit in his character, and thus prepare him for the Kingdom. (`Romans 5:3-5`.) Incidentally, we remember the assurance of the Bible--that only if we suffer with Christ shall we reign with Him, and that only those who become dead with Him shall live with Him.
THE SECRET OF HIS FAITHFULNESS
Many find it easy to make a start in the Christian way when everything is favorable. Some run briskly for a while, and then grow weary in well-doing. But the Apostle seemed never to weary. He was always on the alert, in season and out of season, so far as his own convenience was concerned. He was ready to preach the Gospel anywhere, everywhere, to all who had the hearing ear. The secret of his perseverance is given us in `Verse 18`, in the words: "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen."
What do these words mean? They mean that St. Paul had spiritual eyesight. He indeed saw earthly attractions, but they lost their drawing power upon him because of his spiritual sight--his perception of the things unseen. With the eye of faith he saw the Heavenly Father, the glorified Lord Jesus, the Heavenly hosts, the coming Kingdom of glory, honor and immortality. By faith he saw the great Millennial Kingdom spreading out before him, and heard the Divine invitation to become an heir in that Kingdom, to be joined in heirship with the Master and Redeemer. He had accepted this invitation. He had enlisted under the banner of the Master; and he realized that everything else in the world was of practically no value in comparison with these eternal things which God had promised. His confidence was in the Word of God.
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So it is with the Lord's people today. We may see the advantages of politics, social standing, wealth, business, etc., etc. But all these earthly aims and ambitions are of comparatively little value to us because we have seen, with the new eyesight of the New Creature, the Heavenly things. Our ears have heard God's Message. We have been able to discern the things of the Spirit--the things which God hath in reservation for them that love Him, the things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of the natural man. (`1 Corinthians 2:9`.) We realize more and more that all the things of the present evil world are temporal in character; that they are to pass away with the New Dispensation which is just at the door; and that earthly honors and powers are all of less value every minute.
On the contrary, we see that the things which God offers us are eternal things. Is it any wonder that the Bible sets forth the importance of doctrine? Whoever is well indoctrinated from the real Bible viewpoint is strong in the Lord. Whoever is without this knowledge of the Kingdom and without this spiritual sight and hearing will necessarily be weak, and will lack the evidence of being a New Creature in Christ Jesus.--`2 Cor. 5:17`.
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A PLOT THAT FAILED
--OCTOBER 1.--`ACTS 23:14-24`.--
THE WRATH OF MAN OVERRULED--ST. PAUL BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN-- THE HIGH PRIEST REBUKED--ST. PAUL AS A GENERAL--
THE SANHEDRIN DIVIDED IN OPINION--DISSENSION AMONGST THE MEMBERS--THE APOSTLE TAKEN BACK TO THE CASTLE--ENCOURAGED BY A VISION--THE CONSPIRACY
AGAINST HIM--INFORMATION CONCERNING THE PLOT GIVEN TO COLONEL LYSIAS--ST. PAUL SENT TO CAESAREA
"They shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith Jehovah, to deliver thee."--`Jeremiah 1:19`.
IN THE morning after the riot and St. Paul's rescue by the Roman soldiers, Colonel Lysias in perplexity called together the Jewish Sanhedrin, in order that they might pass upon the Apostle's case; for by this time he had recognized that the point of dispute was a religious one, and that his duty was merely to preserve the peace. Thus St. Paul was afforded another opportunity to witness the Gospel to the Jews--to their most learned body of men, their most influential Court of Seventy. Perhaps by this time the Apostle began to realize that his trying experiences were furnishing him with superior opportunities as a herald of the Gospel.
Looking back with the eye of faith, we can perceive that this is always so; that, as from the very first, the Lord is supervising His own work. But only in proportion as we know what constitutes the Lord's work can we have and use the eye of faith. We must see that the Divine Program is not to attempt the conversion of the world at the present time, but to leave that work for the future, to be accomplished by Christ's Millennial Kingdom. We must see that during the present Age His work is merely that of selecting, or electing, the Church, to be His Bride-Consort in His Kingdom--His Associate in the great work which will then be accomplished for the whole world.
As St. Paul realized the opportunity granted him of addressing the leaders of his nation, he sought to make wise use of it. Hence the earnestness of his countenance. "Looking steadfastly" at his audience, he began by reminding them of his faithfulness as a Jew. He had ever been a model citizen, never lawless. He addressed the Council as "Brethren," thus putting himself on an equality with them, in respect to both religious zeal and general learning. Indeed, it is quite generally supposed that at the time of the stoning of St. Stephen Saul of Tarsus-- afterwards St. Paul--was a member of the Sanhedrin.
"SPEAK EVIL OF NO MAN"
The address which St. Paul had planned to deliver was interrupted by the high priest, who commanded those who stood by the Apostle to smite him on the mouth. This was a special mark of indignity and a protest against the words uttered. It is not unfair to assume that the high priest felt his own course in life especially condemned by St. Paul's words; for, as the Master declared, "the darkness hateth the light." Josephus charges Ananias with having been a hypocritical grafter of the baser sort, but so crafty that the public in general esteemed him. Suddenly checked in his speech, the Apostle shouted, "God shall smite thee, thou whited wall." The prophecy came true. Within two years Ananias was deposed. Within six years he met a horrible death, his own son being associated with his assassins, who drew Ananias from his hiding place in a sewer and slew him.
The term "whited wall" was applied to ordinary graves, which were covered with a stone slab bearing the inscription. These were frequently whitewashed, so as to be easily discernible, lest any traveler should tread upon them and, according to Jewish ritual, be defiled. (`Numbers 19:11-16`.) The pure, glistening white stone was beautiful; but beneath it was corruption. The strength of the symbol as representing hypocrisy is manifest.
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Some of the bystanders who heard the Apostle asked, "Revilest thou God's high priest?" St. Paul rejoined, "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, "Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." (`Exodus 22:28`.) It will be remembered that the Apostle never fully recovered his eyesight after having been struck blind on the way to Damascus. (`Acts 9:8, 9`.) Of his imperfect vision, his "thorn in the flesh" (`2 Corinthians 12:7-10`), the Lord refused to relieve him, but assured him that in compensation he should have the more of Divine grace. This answer to his prayer the Apostle gladly accepted. It is possible, therefore, that he did not discern the high priest, or else did not know that the indignity was suggested by Ananias.
A COMMON, BUT DANGEROUS PRACTICE
It is claimed by some that Ananias had usurped his office, and that hence the Apostle's words may have meant that he did not recognize that the true high priest was present. The latter view is implied by the fact that St. Paul did not apologize for his words, but merely showed that he fully recognized the Divine Law that rulers should not be slandered.
This is a good rule for every one today. The tendency to speak evil of dignitaries, to belittle them, to caricature them, is a prevalent sin, which is doing much more to undermine good government than the fun-makers seem to realize. Undoubtedly there are times and ways for protesting against things and methods with which we do not fully agree. But the people of God should preeminently stand for law and order, with as much justice as may be attainable, waiting for absolute justice until the King of kings shall take His Millennial Throne. His command to us meantime is that we "be subject to the powers that be," and "follow peace with all men," so far as possible. --`Romans 13:1`; `Hebrews 12:14`.
Incidentally we remark that some are disposed even to speak jestingly of the Lord and the Scriptures. This is a dangerous practice. "The REVERENCE of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"; and it must continue in us, and increase as the years go by, if we would make our calling and election sure to the glorious things which God has in reservation for them that love Him and reverence Him.--`Job 28:28`; `Psalm 111:10`.
ST. PAUL'S READY TACT
This incident had interrupted in its beginning the hoped-for presentation of the Gospel. St. Paul perceived that the prejudice against him was such that no speech of his could affect his hearers; for they were dominated by the high priest, whose lack of justice had found so early a manifestation. Like a general who, finding his front attack useless, wheels his forces and, by a flank movement, captures the enemy, so St. Paul captured the sympathies of fully one-half of his auditors. At the same time he secured an opportunity for showing that the doctrine which he preached was the logical outcome of the faith of the large sect of Pharisees.
The Apostle did this by shouting, "I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; and I am being persecuted because of my belief in the doctrine of the resurrection." This statement was strictly true. The word Pharisee signifies a person who professes entire sanctification to God. St. Paul had never ceased to maintain this attitude. His experiences on the way to Damascus had changed his course of conduct, but not his attitude of heart, which from the first was loyal to God--"in all good conscience."
St. Paul well knew that the Sanhedrin was about equally divided between the ultra-orthodox, holiness-professing Pharisees and the agnostic, higher-critical Sadducees, who numbered amongst them many of the most prominent Jews, including priests. The effect of his shout was instantaneous. The Pharisees took his part as one who in some respects believed as they did, although they could not endorse all of his teachings. As between the infidel Sadducees and an out-of-the-way Pharisee, they promptly espoused the cause of the latter.
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A tumult ensued, some seeking to take the Apostle's life, and others endeavoring to protect him. Again Caesar's soldiers needed to intervene between warring factions of the people of God. How sad a scene! How pitiable that those who possessed much advantage every way, as did the Jews under Divine instruction, should so sadly neglect the lessons of the Divine Law in respect to justice and to one another's rights, not to mention the Divine instruction, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself"! (`Leviticus 19:18`.) How pitiable it is that this is sometimes true of Christians possessed of still higher appreciation of the Divine standards and under covenant vows to lay down their lives for the brethren, and indeed exhorted that they cannot win the prize which they seek unless they reach the point of loving their enemies!
True, fisticuffs are not so popular today amongst civilized people. But cannot even greater cruelty be accomplished by the tongue than by the hand? Is it not true that even amongst those who have named the name of Christ and who have taken upon themselves a consecration vow to do His will, many bite and devour one another, under the influence of the spirit of the Adversary-- anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife? As we see these things, shall we not learn a valuable lesson, one which will enable us the better to glorify our Father in Heaven?
A CONSPIRACY EXPOSED AND FOILED
Back in safety to the castle, the Apostle doubtless wondered in what manner the Lord had been glorified by this, his latest experience. Often it is thus with ourselves. But where we cannot trace the Lord's providence and see the outcome, we have all the better opportunity for cultivating the faith which "can firmly trust Him, come what may."
Meanwhile, Colonel Lysias was evidently learning that his prisoner was no common man; for one who could remain calm, alert, dignified, humble and self-possessed, while his opponents were the reverse of all these, evidenced to an unprejudiced mind that he was probably in the right of the controversy. This change of the Roman officer's attitude toward St. Paul was manifested in his kindly treatment of the Apostle's nephew, who had brought word to his uncle that a band of forty men were plotting to take his life.
These conspirators, forty professed religionists, forgetful of the Divine Law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," had bound themselves to each other by an oath that they would neither eat nor sleep until they had killed St. Paul--a man who had done them no harm, but who had, on the contrary, merely endeavored as wisely as possible to do them good. At the instance of his mother, who was the Apostle's sister, the lad had gained access to the castle and had explained the plot to his uncle, who sent him to the commandant. The latter took the boy by the hand to a private place, heard his story and dismissed him, telling him to keep the matter quiet.
Perceiving that he was in conflict with at least one-half of the influential of Jewry, the commandant concluded that the wisest course for him to pursue would be to put his prisoner under the protection of Felix, the Roman Governor, at Caesarea. Accordingly, at 9 o'clock that very night, two hundred infantry, two hundred spearmen
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and seventy horsemen took the Apostle to new quarters, where as an ambassador in bonds he would have fresh opportunity for representing his great Master.
This Study shows us that God prefers to use natural means rather than supernatural agencies; and that all of His children should be on the alert to serve His Cause at any and every moment. God's purposes will be accomplished. But happy is he who is accounted worthy of the privilege of any service to the Lord or to the least of His brethren. Let us, then, be continually on the lookout, in an inquiring attitude of mind, desirous of knowing the mind of the Lord in every matter. As for the Apostle, doubtless he learned a lesson which we might all profitably consider; namely, that while having full confidence in the Divine will, it is ours to protect reasonably and properly our lives and interests as well as those of others.
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ST. PAUL BEFORE FELIX
--OCTOBER 8.--`ACTS 24:1-21`.--
ST. PAUL AT CAESAREA, THE ROMAN CAPITAL OF JUDEA-- HIS TRIAL BEFORE THE ROMAN GOVERNOR--THE CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST THE APOSTLE--ST. PAUL'S DEFENSE-- THE DOCTRINE OF THE RESURRECTION THE THEME OF HIS PREACHING--THIS DOCTRINE LOST SIGHT OF BY MANY
PROFESSED CHRISTIANS OF OUR DAY--THE ROMAN GOVERNOR INTERESTED IN THE APOSTLE'S TEACHINGS--
ST. PAUL A PRISONER FOR TWO YEARS.
"Herein I also exercise myself to have a conscience void of offense toward God and man always."--`Verse 16`.
FELIX, the Roman Governor of Judea, received St. Paul as a prisoner. The Apostle's enemies, the high priest and other Jewish rulers, hastened down from Jerusalem to Caesarea, thirsting for his blood. They brought with them a Roman lawyer, named Tertullus, whose knowledge of Roman usage would, they hoped, enable them to prove that St. Paul was a dangerous character--a sort of anarchist. Felix was the judge. There were no jurors. Tertullus, skilled as a pleader, made his charges and confirmed them by witnesses from Jerusalem.
Shrewdly the Roman attorney complimented the Governor along the lines of his hitherto efficiency in preserving the peace, in putting down every form of insurrection and in maintaining quiet and order. This very completely paved the way for the lawyer's request that the Governor should continue this praiseworthy course and rid the land of an obnoxious trouble-maker--the Apostle. Witnesses were produced who testified respecting the first tumult in the Temple at Jerusalem and also respecting that of the following day, in which the Sanhedrin became divided into two parts and a general uproar ensued. The Apostle was charged with being a ringleader of a sect called Nazarenes; and the claim was made that he had caused trouble amongst both Jews and Greeks the world over.
This was Tertullus' case. He charged that the prisoner was guilty of sacrilege--that St. Paul had defiled the Temple; and the inference was deducible that the Apostle had caused rioting within the holy sanctuary. Witnesses were procured to prove that these charges were true.
Governor Felix motioned to the Apostle that he was at liberty to answer the charges. Then St. Paul opened his defense with the remark that he was gratified that his judge had been on the bench for some time and was well acquainted with Jewish customs; that he would therefore understand what a novice could not--why the Apostle had come to Jerusalem to worship after the manner of the Jews, to celebrate one of their religious festivals. He had come, not to raise an insurrection, but to worship God after the Jewish custom; and no witness had testified that he was found in the Temple either disputing or gathering a crowd. The charge was untrue. He did not do these things in the synagogues or anywhere else; and his enemies could not prove the things whereof they accused him.
The Apostle's answer was both logical and complete. Still the Governor could not understand why, under the circumstances, there should be a commotion. Hence it was necessary for St. Paul to explain that the Jews had an antipathy against him because of his different religious belief, not because of any wrong-doing on his part.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE RESURRECTION
St. Paul avowed that he had experienced no change in his Jewish belief--that he still believed the teachings of the Law and the writings of the Prophets; that he still held to the fundamental Jewish doctrine of the necessity of a resurrection of the dead; and that he still had faith in the Promise that through the resurrection of the dead God's blessing should ultimately come to Israel, and through Israel to all the families of the earth. Furthermore, he exercised himself, trained himself, disciplined himself, to keep his conscience pure, free from violation of Divine and human laws.
This was a grand testimony. Its force should have had weight, not only with the Governor, but also with the Jews, who murderously sought the Apostle's life because of a little difference of opinion on religious questions. What a lesson we have here! A Roman Governor and judge of not too savory a reputation; a prosecuting attorney willing to sell his talents for money, regardless of the principles of justice; the Jewish high priest, typical of the great Messiah, associating himself with those who were endeavoring to pervert justice and to destroy one of "the salt of the earth"!
Our Lord had foretold that some of His disciples would stand before kings and princes, but that they should not be dismayed. He would stand by them to give them assistance. (`Matthew 10:17-22`.) How literally this was fulfilled in St. Paul's case! How evidently the Lord stood by him and gave him the suitable words!
The Apostle proceeded to explain that he had brought alms to his nation, the offerings of Gentiles who had heard his Message of the grace of God. Certain Jews from Asia Minor had found him purified in the Temple, but without cry or tumult. These Jews should have been brought forward as witnesses. Or those who were making the charges against him should have been specific; they should have said on the day following the attack by the mob--the day when he was brought before the Sanhedrin-- what he did tumultuously in the Temple or what wrong-doing they had found in him. Only one charge could they make; namely, that while standing amongst them he had cried out, "Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called into question this day!" Surely the Governor could not think that in this there was anything akin to rioting or anarchy! The prisoner had been in the right; but those who were accusing him had been in the wrong.
A DOCTRINE LOST SIGHT OF
The Apostle's testimony shows us that in all of his preaching he laid special stress upon the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust. Alas, that in our day this doctrine has been measurably
lost sight of! Few Christians ever think of the resurrection. Few have ever heard a sermon upon this subject. Why is this?
We reply that it is because a great error has come in amongst Christian people in respect to the condition of the dead. According to both Catholics and Protestants, only the saintly are fit for Heaven at death. Both agree that only finished characters could properly be admitted there. Both agree to our Lord's words respecting the Kingdom: "Few there be that find it." (`Matthew 7:13, 14`.) Our Catholic friends tell us that nearly all mankind --heathens, Catholics and Protestants--go to Purgatory, where for centuries they will undergo terrible sufferings, which will purge them from sin and prepare them for Heaven. Many Protestant friends tell us that they do not see even this hope; that from their standpoint only the "little flock" go to Heaven; that all the great mass of mankind, unprepared for the presence of God, must go somewhere; and that the only place for them is a Hell of eternal torture, from which there will be no escape.
We shall not quarrel with either party. Both views are too horrible to be reasonable or just, not to mention loving! We prefer to go back to the words of Jesus and the Apostles, and to note that according to their teachings the dead are really dead, and that their only hope is, as the Apostle expresses it, a resurrection hope--"the hope of the resurrection," the hope "that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust." --`Acts 24:15`.
It is not the resurrection of the body that the Bible teaches, but the resurrection of the soul; and "God will give it a body" at the time of the awakening. (`1 Corinthians 15:38`.) We could wish that all Christian people would arouse themselves to a thorough study of the Scriptures. Then the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead would be given its proper place; and much of the fog of the Dark Ages would thus be gotten rid of--the fog which has troubled us, saddened our hearts and turned many away from God and the Bible into infidelity.
THE COMING JUDGMENT DAY
After having heard both sides of the case, the governor-judge set it aside until Claudius Lysias, the commandant of Fort Antonia, the Roman officer who had made the arrest, should be heard. Meantime, St. Paul was given great liberty, the real status of his case evidently being quite clearly understood by Governor Felix.
Subsequently the governor, apparently much impressed by the Apostle's demeanor, called for him again, at a time when his wife, a Jewess, was present. He wished her to hear the Gospel Message, which seems to have appealed to him as reasonable. St. Paul doubtless reviewed much of his previous testimony, and then reasoned respecting a coming judgment, or trial--that eternal destinies are not fixed as a result of the present life.
Assuredly the Apostle explained that God has appointed a Day of trial, or judgment, for the whole world of mankind--the Millennial Day, a thousand years long. (`2 Peter 3:7, 8`.) During that period all mankind shall have a full trial as to worthiness or unworthiness of human perfection and life everlasting. The obedient shall be blessed, uplifted, raised up, up, up to perfection. The wilfully disobedient shall be destroyed in the Second Death.
"A JUST RECOMPENSE OF REWARD"
If, then, the trial of the world is to be in the future Age, and if in the present Age God is merely electing, or selecting, the Church to be the Bride of His Son and Joint-heir in the Messianic Kingdom, which is to bless the world, how could these matters have any special influence upon Felix and his wife? We reply, In two ways:
(1) It might influence them to accept Christ and to seek to be of the elect Church;
(2) Knowing of their future trial, they should know that the words and the deeds of the present life have much to do with the status of the individual when he is awakened from the tomb. The vicious, the hypocritical, the self-righteous, the wanton, the profligate, degrade themselves and increase the number of steps which they must retrace during the Millennium. On the contrary, every good deed, every victory gained, every practice of moderation, will make the individual correspondingly the better prepared for the next life. Every generous deed of the present life makes its impress upon the character, and will bring proportionate blessings in that Millennial Judgment Day. On the other hand, every evil deed, every violation of conscience, will receive its "stripes," or just punishment.
As Felix listened to the Apostle, he was conscience-stricken. According to this teaching, he would have much for which to give account as one of the "unjust" in the resurrection. We note that St. Paul said nothing about fiery tortures, which an intelligent mind must repudiate as unreasonable; but his argument was all the stronger without such assertions. His forceful declaration was, "A just recompense of reward both for the just and for the unjust." Finally the governor dismissed him with the memorable words, "Go thy way for this time. When I have a more convenient season I will call for thee."
Time and again Governor Felix called for the Apostle; but apparently never did he find his heart in a sufficiently mellow and humble condition to accept the Apostle's Message and to surrender to the Lord. A lesson in this connection for us all is that we should do promptly whatever we realize to be our duty. For two years St. Paul remained a prisoner at Caesarea, comfortably provided for, preparing for the further services of his life, and writing several epistles to the various Churches.
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I.B.S.A. CONSCRIPTS IN GREAT BRITAIN
THE LONDON OFFICE WRITES:--
"Measures taken by the Government during the present year have drawn all men of Military age (18 to 41) into the Army, automatically, the only exceptions being those prescribed by the Act itself. Among these are Men of Holy Orders and regular Ministers of any Religious Denomination. As some 160 of the Elders of various Ecclesias were affected by this, we thought it wise and proper to see if they were not properly excepted from the Act, especially on account of the need of their services in the Ecclesias. A test case, on a friendly basis, was arranged with the War Office and tried at Edinburgh on Monday (17th inst.), when the Crown was represented by counsel. The decision given by the Court was entirely in our favor, the Sheriff ruling that this Association is a properly constituted Religious Institution, and that the Elders are Ministers within the meaning of the Act, and therefore properly excepted from the Act.
"We do not know, as yet, whether the War Office will require further proof before acknowledging our status, but we are corresponding with them as to this. If this matter is finally settled in our favor, we are hopeful that the Colporteurs, etc., will be granted a special concession as Lay Evangelists and Agents of the Association.
"At the present time those of our Brethren who have been conscripted can be described as follows:
Doing work of a combative character. . . . . . . . . 0
Doing work of a non-combative character. . . . . . .20
Imprisoned through failure to obey Military orders .58
Given work of National Importance apart from
the Military, having satisfied the Tribunals of
the genuineness of their conscientious objection 103
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"Quite a number have been medically rejected and a few have been given exemption on account of the important religious work they have on hand.
"At the Court in Edinburgh quite a good witness was made. Brother Shearn was chief witness and he was before the Court 1-1/2 hours, one-third of the time explaining wherein our teachings differ from those of the Denominations. The Court seemed really interested as well as satisfied. The hand of the Lord was manifestly with us."
DEATH SENTENCES COMMUTED--ALL SERENE
Loving Christian Greeting to all the dear ones in Christ Jesus! We were "read out" on Saturday last, and the verdict you will be anxious to hear is now public: "Sentenced to suffer death by being shot, but commuted to 10 years' Penal Servitude." We are still peaceful in the knowledge of our Heavenly Father's loving care, and are not too greatly concerned, for have we not agreed to be faithful to the Lord, come what may? and we came out here in full reliance upon the Lord's grace and prepared in the strength He supplies for anything He should deem good for us.
And now for the future: I suppose we shall see the inside of a prison for a while; but as to whether we shall serve so long remains to be seen. I do not consider the sentence to be as big as it looks. They have to keep up appearances out here, you understand. I expect we shall leave here about Tuesday or Wednesday, so do not send any particular communication after this reaches you.
We have had some nice studies; Lot as a type of Great Company, more of `Psalm 89`, and also `Hebrews 7`.
The way before us is uncertain, but we have learned so much of the Lord's care during the past few weeks that we are prepared to leave all in His hands. We have this confidence, born of our Christian experience, particularly that of recent days, that He who is for us is more than all that can be against us. There is not the least doubt in our minds that if we trust Him, we shall not be confounded, though storm and tempest may come. Oh, what a joy and peace this knowledge brings to our souls! Here is another "mystery of the Kingdom." Those with whom we have come in contact cannot understand our being so quiet and confident, when, as they say, the situation is so serious; and we do not murmur at our trials, because we count it a privilege to suffer for righteousness' sake.
Continue to pray for us that we may come out of the fire purified and made white.
Love to all the dear brethren. (`Romans 15:5-7`.)
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ARMY'S CALL TO AN EDINBURGH COLPORTEUR
BELIEFS OF THE I.B.S.A.
"The plea that he was a regular minister of a religious denomination, and therefore not liable for service, was advanced on behalf of a young man named James Frederick Scott, residing at 2 Leslie Place, Stockbridge, and connected with the International Bible Students Association, who pleaded not guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today before Sheriff-Substitute Orr to a charge of having failed to appear at the recruiting office when called up under the Military Service Act.
"The Honorable Secretary of the I.B.S.A., Mr. H.J. Shearn, examined by Mr. M'Laren, counsel for the defence, explained some of the work of the Association. Its meetings, he said, were open to the public, and they never took collections. To disseminate the Gospel and to establish Christians in churches for their spiritual education was the purpose of the Association's centers for Bible study. There were about 300 of these centers in Great Britain, of which there were about thirty in Scotland. They believed they were at present near the end of a Dispensation, and so were not surprised that things in the world were disturbed now. Mr. Scott was an Elder of the Edinburgh Church, or center of the Association.
"Witness, cross-examined by Mr. Wark, advocate, said there were in Great Britain about 160 Elders of military age. There was adult baptism, but not baptism of infants.
"Replying to the Sheriff, the witness said that members of the Association did not believe many things believed by other denominations. Members of the Association did not believe that the conversion of the world had commenced. Rather did they believe that God was gathering out now those who would deal with the world later on as Abraham's true sons. They did not understand that the human family was to share with God a heavenly home. They understood that man's future home was the earth, made glorious, and man restored to the perfection lost through Adam's transgression. They did not believe in the immortality of the soul, but they did believe in the resurrection of the just and unjust. They looked upon their Elders as regular ministers set apart for the spiritual instruction of members.
"When the accused entered the witness-box he told the Court that he was twenty-five years of age, and unmarried. He joined the I.B.S.A. at Dundee in 1909, and was an Elder of the Edinburgh Church, a post for which he received no payment. He made his living as a Colporteur for the Association, and his pay was the profits on the sale of literature. The duties of an Elder in the Edinburgh Church of the Association were to minister to the spiritual needs of the Church, to conduct public and private meetings, and to assist members to a proper understanding of the Word of God. They had to attend to the sacraments, baptisms, and the Lord's Supper, and visit the sick.
"He himself had taken part in a baptismal service in the Dalry Baths. He was one of the two Elders who took part, and about a dozen people were baptized. He had also taken part in communion services, but he had not officiated at a marriage or a funeral.
"Amongst other evidence put forward on behalf of the accused was that of a Patrick man, who was married by an Elder of the Association, and the latter's signature was accepted by the Registrar-General as that of a 'regular minister.'
"The Sheriff held that accused came under the exception provided by the Act, and found him not guilty of the charge."--Evening Dispatch.
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LEARNING THE TRUE SECRET OF TRIALS
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Joyous greetings in the name of our blessed Master. For many months I have desired to write to thank you for all the help I have received through STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, THE WATCH TOWER, etc.
In THE WATCH TOWER of April 15th, 1915, you published an article on "Love," desiring to know the progress made by those who particularly desired the growth of the chiefest of spiritual graces. At that time I was on a bed of sickness and much pain. The message of joy and peace which that WATCH TOWER brought to me I can never fully express in words. I longed to grow more in love, and I prayed earnestly that the Lord would grant my desire. He has, more abundantly than I had thought possible.
I have learned that trials and difficulties, under Divine providence, are intended to develop our characters and to make us copies of the Master, thus preparing us for the Kingdom and for the great work of blessing others. They are but stepping stones, helping our progress in the narrow way of self-sacrifice, helping us to draw closer to the Lord, recognizing His hand in all life's affairs toward "the called ones according to His Purpose." There is an advantage in every trial, if rightly received. I have learned that they really assist us to put on the whole Armor of God, assist us in growing in the graces of the Spirit and especially in this crowning grace of "Love"; and not only in Love, but in patient endurance. They help us to tread faithfully in the footsteps of our Lord until the Kingdom, for which the Church has prayed so long, is attained.
I have learned, too, that sometimes matters which seem dark clouds and insurmountable difficulties, under His loving Hand are but messengers bidding me to "yet closer draw"; for "He would embrace my care"; and that if loving Him and trusting Him, I must "lean hard."
"He loves me too well to forsake me,
Or to give me a trial too much."
With the knowledge of His love and care I go on my way rejoicing, praying Him to continue His good work begun in me, and to grant by His grace that I may do nothing to hinder it.
I pray daily for you, that God may graciously guide and preserve you, and continue the blessing you have heretofore bestowed. With much Christian love,
Your sister in the Master, MABEL STEWARD.--S. Africa.
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WORDS FAIL TO EXPRESS HER GRATITUDE
DEARLY BELOVED PASTOR AND BROTHER:--
Having been told by a brother in the Truth that my experience would make your heart glad, I am writing, although I fear I cannot put into words my gratitude for this great joy which has come into my life through the I.B.S.A. I was always longing for more light until God sent someone about a year ago to open the eyes of my understanding. I had a severe struggle with doubts and fears, as to whether this was what I had craved or whether the Church of England and others were mistaken.
For years I had been feeling very sick of what seemed to me such shallowness in our religion; but oh, I did not then understand the Love of God; how can I thank Him for His wondrous love! I now love and understand my Bible and am hoping this new year may bring this joy to others who are Truth-hungry as I was.
I enjoy the WATCH TOWERS and pass them on to others who are interested. I saw the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION, and although I could not deny its power, sixteen years of Church-of-England teaching then had a hold upon me from which I thank God I am now free. I hope to be baptized very soon.
With heart-felt love for your work in His name, I am
Your Sister in the Truth, PRISCILLA COMPTON.--Eng.
WHEN DIVORCED PEOPLE ARE FREE TO MARRY
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
I am well aware that Volume VI., STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, seems to touch every phase of the experiences, difficulties and proper course of action of the Lord's people of the New Creation; nevertheless, a question has arisen which is causing some perplexity in our Class and threatens a division. A Brother and a Sister, members of our Class, have always enjoyed our fellowship, until now it is learned that the Sister was previously married, and that her first husband is still living and has remarried.
Some of our Class desire to disfellowship this Brother and Sister and to forbid their attendance at the meetings. The main contention is based upon the words of Jesus in `Matthew 19:9`-- "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." In the case mentioned it is claimed that the Sister's first husband had been guilty of adultery; but others claim that this would not release her for remarriage; for Jesus said that whosoever marrieth a divorced woman (whether properly divorced or not) would be committing adultery. Please give us a little more light on these points.
Very truly your Brother, ----.
[The Class is evidently making a mistake in allowing the matter here presented to cause any division or disturbance. In any event they would seem to have no ground for forbidding attendance at meeting. The very most they might vote would be to withdraw fellowship and include in this a refusal to visit at their home or to invite them to the homes of the Class--the Class declining also to appoint the Brother to any office, such as Deacon or Elder. As for refusing them the privilege of attending public meeting, that would be very inconsistent; for surely all kinds of people living in all kinds of sin come occasionally to meetings, and we hope that by coming they may be benefited and recovered.
In this case, where it is admitted that adultery was the basis of divorce and that the fault was with the husband, it plainly comes within the exception mentioned by our Lord-- "except for adultery." Besides, if that had not been originally the cause of the separation, the fact that the former husband had remarried signifies that he had considered the marriage tie broken; and therefore the first wife was released from its obligation. Evidently the Sister whose case you cite has both of these proofs on her side and had every right, therefore, to have married, if she thought that the wisest and proper thing to do.
It is not supposable that our Lord meant merely a separation between husband and wife; for St. Paul counsels that if the unbeliever depart, let him depart--do not consider it a hardship, but rather take it as a blessing. He does not say that the departing of the husband or wife would be a divorce. A divorce is a full breaking of the original marriage contract. Jesus was criticizing the too slack observance of the marriage tie, and condemning it. He declared that the marriage contract could not be fully broken except by adultery.
In our day these matters are regulated by courts. Very properly, Bible Students govern themselves additionally by the Word of God. The fact that a court would grant a divorce would not by a Bible Student be considered liberation from the marriage bonds, unless upon the one ground which the Master specified. But a court divorce is to be respected when it is backed by the condition of adultery--or backed by a second marriage of the separated one.]
CHANGED ATTITUDE TOWARD SPIRITISM
I am obliged for your book on Spiritism and several papers on this and other subjects. Since writing you, I have gotten in touch with your branch at Lancaster Gate, London, and have purchased from them twelve booklets and the first volume of your Series, THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES, besides matter on other subjects of interest. Owing to delay in foreign money orders, I will continue to get books from your London branch.
I have now carefully read your book on SPIRITISM, and can say that I agree with it entirely. I find your explanations in accord with reason and also my eight years' investigation of "Modern Spiritism," with which I am not now connected.
Through your SPIRITISM book my wife and I have changed our attitude toward Spiritism. We were developing very quickly, and my wife was a clairaudient, clairvoyant and trance medium, while she appeared to have materialistic faculties. I had not developed far, but was likely to become a trance medium and had several experiences and was conscious of presences in normal times.
I think your book not at all overdrawn, and believe Spiritism is demoralizing, anti-Christian and the effort and work of demon spirits.
Your SPIRITISM book has enlightened me on many things I could not quite see through, and though an investigator I was not blind to everything that went on around me, as are most of the attendants at "circles."
I have sent several of your books to friends whom I had interested in Spiritism and shall send to others in due time.
Yours faithfully, ERNEST E. NOBLE.--England.
A GREAT CHANGE OF MIND
MY DEAR PASTOR RUSSELL:--
For a long time I have wanted to write you, but up to now have hesitated, lest I should trespass on your valuable time too much, knowing that you are very busy. But I would do violence to my conscience if I did not tell you that only a few years ago I despised even to look at your picture, and for years would not read a line written by you! Our Father knows them that are His, and He knows exactly how to deal with them to bring them into subjection to His will.
In 1910 dear Sister Lentz, who is now with our dear Master, led me into the Present Truth, by leaving the Fifth Volume in my office, requesting me to examine it. This I did after telling her a lie about it. Before opening the book I got down on my knees and asked my Heavenly Father to guide me. I got up and read two chapters, with Bible in hand, when I received such a blessing, that when the Sister called the next morning I asked if she had any more books like that, what was the price and how soon could I have them. She gave the price and I handed her the money, and told her to bring them at once; for I had found what I had been looking for for years. Yet I objected to taking the Vow; but continuing to read, I decided that I would best take it; and now I do not see how I could get along without it. The most helpful clause in it, to me is, "I vow to further scrutinize my thoughts, words and doings."
I will close by thanking you for being the instrument in God's hand of leading me into the absolute Truth. Pray for me! With Christian love, I am
YOUR BROTHER, ---- M.D.
BETHEL HYMNS FOR OCTOBER
After the close of the hymn the Bethel family listens to the reading of "My Vow Unto the Lord," then joins in prayer. At the breakfast table the MANNA text is considered. Hymns for October follow: (1) 149; (2) 145; (3) 50; (4) 299; (5) 38; (6) 7; (7) 188; (8) 155; (9) 103; (10) 333; (11) 95; (12) 221; (13) 273; (14) 286; (15) 313; (16) 123; (17) 102; (18) 130; (19) 60; (20) 326; (21) 165; (22) 312; (23) 252; (24) 105; (25) 14; (26) 65; (27) 108; (28) Vow; (29) 32; (30) 4; (31) 186.