ZWT - 1898 - R2238 thru R2410 / R2327 (193) - July 1, 1898
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VOL. XIX. JULY 1, 1898. No. 13.
Views from the Watch Tower........................195
Mercy Rejoiceth Against Judgment..................197
The Royal Law.................................199
This Law in Practical Operation...............201
The Royal Law During the
Poem: I'll Do My Very Best........................202
Christian Duty if Drafted, etc.
"Jehovah, He is the God"..........................204
A Discouraged Reformer............................206
Elijah's Lesson Symbolically Considered.......207
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
AS THE war with Spain progresses, it becomes more and more evident that "The Great Republic" is very thoroughly hated by her sisters in the family of Christian Nations so called. Their hatred and ill-will are scarcely restrained from pronounced utterance by the fact that she is their best customer who for financial reasons must not be too grossly insulted. Great Britain alone manifests sympathy: and even she is frank enough to intimate that her love is selfish, because she fears a European coalition against her and desires a wealthy and influential partner. Even the other republics of the world--France, Mexico and all those of Central and South America are jealous of their big sister.
The appeal to race prejudice and race pride has much to do with this condition of things and is most unwise. But we must remember that "the natural man" moves almost exclusively along grooves of pride and selfishness; he knows nothing of Love as a motive principle. And it is the same on both sides of the question: if one boasts of race superiority and valor, so does the other. And the more these selfish channels of thought are opened, the deeper the hatreds engendered and the more dangerous the possible results.
Another factor never to be overlooked is Romanism. The revenues of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippine Islands are estimated at $50,000,000 per annum (silver). It is the real government, the silent but potent partner of the Spanish Governor General and army. Other religious teachings are not tolerated, and the natives so far as possible are kept in ignorance. Altho the Spanish government decreed that the Spanish language should be taught in the Romanist schools supported by government bounty, the order has been generally evaded. Papacy knows well that general intelligence is a foe to its institutions.
Of course, when the time comes for Spain to sue for peace, she will probably be instigated by the pope to relinquish Cuba and close the war on condition that the United States abandon all claim on the Philippines. It is doubtless to threaten a prolongation of the war there, and thus to make the United States the more willing to relinquish the islands, that the Cadiz squadron has sailed eastward. Moreover, it is realized that the soldiers carried by this fleet will be needed to put down the Philippine rebels. The latter are the more intelligent of the natives who are rebelling as much against the tyranny of Romanism as against the oppression and cruelty of Spain. It is our opinion that the Lord wills to break the power of Papacy there, and hence that he will not permit Spanish misrule to be continued.
To what extent the present war may be a waking up of all the world to an era of war which will impoverish all nations, and sicken all their peoples and prepare the way for the universal anarchy with which this age shall end, we know not; but such an outcome will not surprise us. If so, it will seem like the time mentioned in `Joel 3:9-14`. See the conclusion of the S.S. Lesson on Elijah, page 192.
Of one thing we may be sure: the affairs of this world while nominally left to the "gentiles" until the end of "Gentile Times,"* the end of their lease of power, are nevertheless subject to a divine surveillance, to the intent that naught shall be permitted that our God is not abundantly able to overrule for good. Divine providence has already been manifested on behalf of America and doubtless will continue to supervise
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chap. 13, and VOL. II., Chap. 4.
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her course. Who that is God-fearing and possessed of a knowledge of history can doubt that this land was kept hidden until due time; that it was purposely made an asylum for liberty-loving people and for the oppressed of all nations? Who can doubt that its unparalleled history thus far has been a lesson to the whole world--"Liberty enlightening the world?" Who can doubt that thus the Almighty has been gradually forcing open the fetters of Church and State, of superstition and ignorance, and emancipating the peoples of Europe?
It was the influence of liberty and its blessings in America that led to the French Revolution--the French people being too ignorant, and too much under the influence of Romanism, to be able to appreciate and use the boon of liberty wisely. The same object lesson (America) has had a great influence upon Great Britain and Germany and upon the peoples of other countries in proportion to their intelligence and freedom from papal bondage.
As the reforms of Europe have been granted inch by inch by its monarchical aristocracy, under the glare of Liberty's torch (America), it is but natural that they very generally feel a hostility; "because the darkness hateth the light," as ever. There are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking America is loved and appreciated only by the middle classes of Europe, and these chiefly in Protestant countries.
Nor should it surprise us if God has still some further work for America to do in pulling down the strongholds of error and waking up the mighty men and men of war. To some extent the torch of liberty may be a torch of war and destruction. This may sound strange to those who mistakenly have supposed that God is to be credited with all the peace and arbitration movements and Satan to be credited with all the moves toward war and violence.
It is necessary to our appreciation of transpiring events that we remember that God's dealings and commands are individual and not national since he abandoned fleshly Israel and removed the diadem--"until he come whose right it is." Meantime the nations are restrained in peace or let loose to vent their selfish passions in war as best harmonizes with the next step in the divine program. How aptly the poet expressed this, saying--
"See the mystic Weaver sitting
High in heaven--His loom below.
Up and down the treadles go.
Takes, for web, the world's dark ages,
Takes, for woof, the kings and sages.
Takes the nobles and their pages,
Takes all stations and all stages.
Thrones are bobbins in his shuttle.
Armies make them scud and scuttle--
Web into the woof must flow:
Up and down the nations go!
At the Weaver's will they go!
"Calmly see the mystic Weaver
Throw His shuttle to and fro;
'Mid the noise and wild confusion,
Well the Weaver seems to know
What each motion, and commotion,
What each fusion, and confusion,
In the grand result will show!
"Glorious wonder! What a weaving!
To the dull, beyond believing."
The present work is the selection of the Church, the royal priesthood, and incidentally the awakening and disciplining of the nations to prepare them for the Millennial reign of blessing and peace. Let us not forget, however, that God's people are all to be peaceable and to the extent of their opportunities peacemakers.
* * *
A brother has recently called our attention to `Isaiah 5:26-30`; inquiring whether or not we see anything to indicate that this refers to the United States. After examining the passage it seems to us not a forced or unreasonable application. The prophecy seems to apply to the present time--the end of this age--and its fitness to this nation is worthy of consideration also: it will probably not require long to demonstrate this. The following is a preferred translation.
"And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from afar, and will call for one of them from the end of the earth; and, behold, with speed, swiftly, it cometh.
"There is none weary nor stumbling among its men; it slumbereth not, it sleepeth not; not loosened is the girdle of its loins, not broken is the latchet of its shoes; whose arrows are sharpened, and all whose bows are bent; its horses' hoofs are hard like flint, and its wheels like the whirlwind.
"It hath a roar like the lioness, it roareth like the young lions; yea, it growleth, and layeth hold of the prey, and carrieth it safely off, with none to deliver.
"And it will rage against them on that day like the raging of the sea: and if one look unto the earth, behold there is darkness, oppression, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof."--Compare Leeser's Translation.
When we remember the significance of sea and earth and heavens as symbols, it seems to add force to the above suggestion. The sea in symbol is anarchy: and while the United States is perhaps less anarchic than the old world, yet the freedom possessed here is in the estimation of many of the potentates of Europe "like the raging of the sea [anarchy]." The earth in symbol signifies society, the social structure. And surely, whoever looks at the social condition of Europe
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with open eyes sees little but superstition's darkness and oppression. Nor can we see grounds for hope for better conditions under the present order of things. The heavens are the nominal churches or religious powers, and by false teachings surely these have much to do with the trouble present and impending.
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MERCY REJOICETH AGAINST JUDGMENT.
"He shall have judgment without mercy who hath shown no mercy. Mercy rejoiceth against judgment."--`Jas. 2:13`.
THE word judgment here stands for sentence-- the sentence of sin, death. It therefore represents justice, because in man's trial it was Justice which inflicted the sentence of death. Mercy is the fruit or result of love, and therefore represents love. Hence the case, Mercy against Judgment is equivalent to Love against Justice. The thought would be that divine Love has secured a triumph over divine Justice.
At first thought there would seem to be an inconsistency in this view: for how could love triumph over justice, since the Scriptures, as well as reason, assure us that justice must be the very foundation of all divine government; and that to ignore it would mean the destruction of government and order,--anarchy, disorder. It is when we inquire of the Lord's Word, how his Love gains a victory over justice, that we gain an insight into the beautiful harmony and coordination of these divine attributes--Love and Justice. The Scriptures assure us that "God is Love," and that "Justice is the foundation of his throne," or government. (`1 John 4:16`; `Psa. 89:14`.) Since God himself is Love, he can do nothing that can be derogatory or opposed to love; and since his government is founded upon strictest justice he can do nothing that would not be in harmony therewith. His own character and law are the bulwarks on either side of the subject, each as high and as strong as the other.
How then, can love and mercy gain a conquest and rejoice over justice and the sentence? The Apostle answers the question, assuring us that our justification from the sentence is by divine grace, "through the redemption that is in Christ: whom God sent forth to be a propitiation [satisfaction of justice] through faith in his blood...that he might be just, and [yet be] the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.-- `Rom. 3:24-26`.
Here then, is the triumph of love and mercy, not through a failure of justice, not through conquering it, but through a satisfaction of justice, its appeasement by the payment of a ransom price, a corresponding price--a man's life for a man's life: the man Christ Jesus for the man Adam and those who were involved in his disobedience and its sentence or curse. From this standpoint alone would it be possible for love and mercy to triumph over divine justice and its sentence; a triumph in which the justice of God can equally rejoice.
The original trial of father Adam in the Garden of Eden was along the lines of strictest justice, and his sentence was without mercy: it was inflicted without the slightest deviation. Subsequently, when God introduced the Covenant of Law at Mount Sinai, with the nation of Israel, it also was along the lines of justice: it was an offer of eternal life to any Israelite who could and would live up to the divine law;--it was justice, without mercy. It had indeed an admixture of leniency as represented by the annual Atonement Day with its benefits extending to that nation for the ensuing year, but the sacrifices which were offered according to the Law, the Apostle assures us, "could never take away sin." It could cover the sin temporarily for the year, and furnish a new opportunity for a fresh start, but it could never cancel the sins past, nor atone for sins future; hence it was still a reign of Law, a reign of death, at the hands of Justice. Love did not and could not intervene to spare the sinner; the most it could do was to point forward, in promise and in type, to the coming Deliverer, who would satisfy the claims of justice, and set at liberty the prisoners of sin and death. God was Love before he sent his Son, just as truly as he is Love since he sent his Son; but God's Love was not manifested previously, as it was in that great act of love. "Herein was manifested the love of God, in that he gave his only begotten Son." The giving of his son to be our redemption price was in connection with the making of a New Covenant, a new agreement, a new compact, between God and those of his creatures fallen into sin who might desire to return to his favor.
The New Covenant was an arrangement by which God's love might exercise mercy toward the sinner. The language of the New Covenant is apparently an abandonment of strict justice in the Lord's dealing with the sinner, and the adoption of a course of treatment which deviates to some extent from strict justice, and shows mercy to those who desire mercy, and desire to come back into harmony with God, and desire to attain again the perfection lost through sin. The language of the New Covenant is, "I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."--`Heb. 8:12`.
The Apostle assures us that this New Covenant could only go into force, could only become operative
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toward us, by virtue of the atoning sacrifice which the Father designed, and which the Lord Jesus joyfully and obediently fulfilled. He assures us, and so also does our Lord Jesus, that the death of Christ sealed or ratified or made binding and complete this New Covenant between God and man, of which Jesus is the Mediator. Thus our Lord himself, when speaking of his death, symbolized by the cup, said, "This is the blood of the New Covenant shed for many for [in order to] the remission of sins." Sins could not be remitted except as justice would first be met, and the one who met the claims of justice on behalf of the sinner would be the one who would have the right to remit the sinner's guilt, and thus to be the Mediator between Justice and the sinner.
The Apostle Paul gives us the same view of the matter; saying, that "the blood [death, sacrifice] cleanseth us" and for this cause he is the Mediator of the New Covenant: that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (`Heb. 9:14,15`.) We see, then, that since Calvary, since the sealing of the New Covenant with the blood of the Mediator, since that New Covenant was thus ratified or made effective, the triumph of love and mercy over justice, and the sentence of death originally inflicted, has been a fact. And since the offence and the sentence were of one man, and rested upon the many through him, even upon all his posterity, so likewise the New Covenant is by the one man, Christ Jesus, and is applicable to not only the first offence committed in Eden, but applicable to all the "many offences" since committed because of weakness and depravity, introduced by the one transgression.--`Rom. 5:12,15-21`.
But while the New Covenant is thus for Adam and all his posterity, nevertheless there are conditions attached to this Covenant, which limit its action.
(1) Faith in it--and acceptance of its provisions or demands: and this implies a knowledge of the covenant conditions, for no man can either accept or reject that of which he has no knowledge, as the Apostle says, "How shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard?"
(2) Obedience, as the result of faith, is required to the extent of ability--obedience to the law of the New Covenant.
Hence, although the New Covenant is for the entire race, it is not as yet available to any but a small minority. Few have the knowledge of God and of his arrangement in Christ under this covenant, which would permit of faith in it. And of those who have received some knowledge of the great fact, and who have with more or less clearness exercised a faith in the atonement, comparatively few have taken the second step of obedience. Those who have taken the first step of faith are, on this account, reckoned as justified--to the intent that they may take the second step of full obedience to the requirements of the covenant. Those who have taken the second step have not lost the first step of justification, but have added thereto the step of sanctification,--consecration,--devotion. And only to the latter class belongs the full benefit of this covenant.
These two steps, (1) Faith, and (2) Obedience, were illustrated in typical Israel, and in the institution of their typical covenants, at the hand of their typical mediator, and with the blood of their typical sacrifice for sins. The Lord made known to Israel his covenant, and they assented thereto, and said, "All these things will we do," accepting Moses also as their mediator. This was the first step, corresponding with us to the step of faith and justification through faith. Then Moses took the blood of the sacrifice of atonement,--the blood of their covenant, and sprinkled it upon the book; i.e., upon the tables of the law, as representing God and his Word, the law or basis of his covenant with them, which they were to observe and obey. Moreover, he sprinkled also all the people with that blood, saying, "This is the covenant which God hath enjoined upon you." This was not a meaningless performance. The moment the drop of blood touched the Israelite, it meant that the covenant was in operation, in full force and power, on him and toward him; that God was bound to him by the covenant, and he was bound to God by the covenant. So likewise in the antitype, after we have heard, known, and have exercised faith, then the Lord requires that if we are in harmony with him, and desire to enter into this new covenant, we shall take our position with those who receive the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things for us than any typical blood, and that by receiving this blood of sprinkling we shall not only be justified from our past sins, but thereby also we shall recognize ourselves as henceforth bounden, obligated, covenanted to the Lord, as his people.--`1 Pet. 1:2`.
Moreover, as Israel was bound by that covenant to the law of God, as promulgated by their mediator, Moses, so we spiritual Israelites, who have fully entered the New Covenant relationship, and who have had the seal of the New Covenant, the blood of Christ, put
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upon us, are thereby bound to all the terms and conditions of that new covenant,--to its obligations as well as to its blessings: and these obligations are expressed in the law of the New Covenant, promulgated by the mediator of the new covenant, namely the royal law of Love.
There are many false apprehensions respecting the New Covenant: one is to the effect that the law of
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the old covenant is also the law of the New Covenant. But not so: as the New Covenant is higher than the Law Covenant, and as its mediator is higher than the mediator of the Law Covenant, so the law itself is higher still and grander still than the law of the Mosaic covenant. Altho the latter was holy and just and good (`Rom. 7:12`), the law of the New Covenant is sublime. The Apostle declares that the law of the New Covenant is in full harmony with the law of the old covenant, that it is really the same law, only that our Mediator has magnified it, and made it still more honorable, adorable. The law of the covenant which Moses mediated reads, "Thou shalt not" do thus and so; the law of the New Covenant is briefly comprehended in one word, Love; "Thou shalt love."
O, how much difference there is between these two laws, notwithstanding all their many points of harmony. "Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not steal," might be understood by some, perhaps, to leave room for a willingness or desire to steal, or a willingness or desire to murder, if the evil acts themselves were abstained from. But the one command, "Thou shalt love," not only leaves no room for stealing and murder, but leaves no room for any thought that would be akin to these evil deeds. More than this, it is not merely a law of negatives, commanding us to abstain from doing and from even thinking evil; but it goes much further in positively requiring of us to think good and do good--to fulfil "the royal law" "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," and "Thou shalt love thy neighbor."
Many who think that they have entered into the New Covenant relationship with the Lord are evidently mistaken. They have perhaps believed in Jesus, and in his sacrifice for sins, and have desired his blessing and liberty from the curse of death; but they have not recognized nor accepted the corresponding obligations on their part. They have not stood up before the Lord to swear allegiance to him and to the law of his covenant, and to be sealed with the blood which seals that covenant. They are deluding themselves in thinking they are under the terms of the New Covenant, when they are not--not having taken the necessary second step to make them beneficiaries under its arrangement. They have heard of "the royal law of love," they know of it as the Golden Rule of the New Covenant, yet they have never, by consecration, put themselves under that law. They have never recognized it as being the law over them, by which they are to be controlled, and by which eventually they are to be judged. It is a work of kindness to such to point out to them clearly and distinctly that they are deceiving their own selves, and that those who do not accept of and come under the royal law of the New Covenant have neither part nor lot in the blessings which flow from that covenant.
It is time that all who profess faith and loyalty to the Lord and to the New Covenant should recognize themselves as Covenanters--those who have made a compact, a covenant, with the Lord through Christ Jesus, and who are bound by the law of that covenant. And if they have done this intelligently, it is high time that they should be measuring every act and word and thought of life by the Golden Rule of this Covenant, which our Lord Jesus expresses most succinctly, saying, "As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."--`Luke 6:31`.
THE ROYAL LAW.
Our Lord and the Apostles, in all their teaching and writing, inculcated this royal law of the New Covenant. It was along this line that our Lord said to the disciples, "Judge not [harshly, unmercifully, ungenerously,] that ye be not [so] judged; for with whatever measure of cold justice and mercilessness you measure others, the same shall be meted out to you. The Apostle James, in our text, repeats the same thought, saying, "He shall have judgment [just sentence] without mercy who hath showed no mercy." That is to say, if we have come under the blessed provisions of the New Covenant, it means not only that we have accepted of God's mercy through Christ in the forgiveness of our sins, but also that a condition upon which we receive divine mercy was that we ourselves would be governed by the same rule of love and mercy towards our fellow-creatures. If, therefore, we fail to follow the Golden Rule, we mark ourselves as rejectors of the covenant of grace, and as those who despise divine favor, and who trample upon and make light of the great sacrifice by which this favor of the New Covenant was made available to us.
Such a course, persisted in intelligently and intentionally, would seem to result in the Second death; for, as the Apostle declares, if we show no mercy to others, if we attempt to mete out justice without mercy, the result to ourselves will be that we will be treated without mercy,--on lines of strictest justice. This would mean that we would be without any benefit in the New Covenant, and without any covering or protection in the Mediator, and would fall directly into the hands of Justice, without a covering for our blemishes. This is the condition of affairs which the Apostle Paul points out to us, in connection with which he says, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." It is a fearful thing for imperfect beings like ourselves to fall into the hands of strict justice and its judgment, and to obtain no mercy.
This would mean nothing short of the Second
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Death, for as the Apostle illustrates, the one who despised the typical covenant and the law given by its mediator died without mercy: much more, might we suppose, that he who has accepted the terms of the New Covenant, and who has intelligently heard from its Mediator the law which must govern all who would be blessed by that covenant (the law of love), and who willingly and intentionally despises and rejects the claims of that law, is worthy of death. And this death, as the Apostle intimates, would be a greater, a sorer, punishment than the one inflicted for the violation of the typical covenant--it would be sorer or more disastrous, in that it would be the Second Death, the end of all hope; because those thus condemned had enjoyed the opportunities and privileges of the New Covenant, and had despised and rejected them.
Nor should such radical treatment of transgressors against the conditions of the New Covenant surprise us: the same conditions will, we believe, obtain in the next age, in the Millennium. The world of mankind, when brought to a knowledge of divine grace, will be invited to fully subject themselves to all the terms and conditions of the law of love. Those who endeavor to make progress in this direction will have the blessing and the assistance of the great Mediator, while those who reject the principles of this law of love to God and love to man--"The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus," will be rejecting this law, be rejecting the life which is attached thereto. And such rejectors of the law of the New Covenant are to be esteemed as rejectors of all the grace "which first contrived the way to save rebellious man." Such rejectors will be despisers of God, who was the Author of this plan of salvation. They will be rejectors of the blood of Christ, which sealed the New Covenant. And figuratively speaking, they may be said to trample upon that grace of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. Very properly, eternal life is not intended for such. It would not be a real blessing for such, and they in turn would be an injury and a curse to all those who shall come into full accord with the Lord and with the spirit of his law of love.
Let us, then, who have heard of the grace of God in Christ, and who have accepted of that grace by entering into the obligations of the New Covenant--let us remember daily, hourly, to let this law of love rule in our hearts, and in all our conduct. Let us remember that it not only means supreme love to God, which places the will and Word of the Lord paramount not only to our own wills, but also to the wills of others, and thus makes us loyal in the highest sense of the word, and in every affair of life, to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Let us remember, secondly, that the law of love is to operate toward our fellow men, and to lead us to "do good unto all men as we have opportunity--especially to the household of faith." Let us remember that love not only would not kill the neighbor, nor steal from the neighbor, but that it would hinder us from speaking evil of the neighbor, from stabbing him with slander, and from stealing from him a good name, which is more to him than his purse. Let us remember that love would not only utterly repudiate and contradict and hinder such conduct, but that on the reverse, it would lead us to be kind, gentle, patient, forgiving, merciful, not only to them that love us, and who are gentle and kind to us, but also as our Master explained, to the unkind, to the unthankful, to enemies who injure us, and who say all manner of evil against us falsely. "Love suffereth long and is kind."
Love and its consequence, mercy, take hold upon the heart, the sentiments, the affections of life, and should ultimately permeate every channel of life. Thus love, mercifulness, would extend not only to the household of faith and our own family households, and to our neighbors, but also to the dumb animals. The man who has accepted love (mercy) as the ruling and controlling principle of life, the law of the New Covenant, which is to control in every act and word and thought, will be loving (merciful) toward his horse, toward his dog, his chickens,--toward everything with
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which he has to do. And if love (mercy) would restrain him from whipping his horse unmercifully, and if it would lead him to provide amply for the sustenance and comfort of the dumb creatures under his care, will not the same spirit of love extend also along to higher lines of the family, and lead him to be thoughtful of the comfort and welfare of all the human beings under his care, in matters both spiritual and temporal? And if it would stay his hand from smiting his beast an unnecessary blow, would it not much more stay his or her tongue from smiting the hearts and feelings of humanity with whom he or she may come in contact, with needlessly sharp, cutting words, irony, sarcasm, etc.--or still worse, with the poisoned blade of slander and suspicion and evil suggestion and surmise?
And all of this which applies to the beast, to the home circle and family, applies with equal or still more force to the family of God, the Church; hence the Apostle urges that evil speaking, bitterness, anger, wrath, malice, hatreds, strifes, envyings, which are all parts of the old nature, the nature of the world and of the devil, be put away. These are to be supplanted by the new spirit of Christ, in harmony with the law of the New Covenant,--Love--with its gentleness, meekness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness. "If these things be in you and abound they shall make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that
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lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore, the rather, brethren, give diligence [to the cultivation of these graces] to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."--`2 Pet. 1:8-11`.
He who finds his heart not in harmony with this law of the New Covenant, love--mercy, kindness, gentleness, goodness--lacks the evidence of proof that he is in any sense of the word accepted as a son of God, and a joint heir with Christ. If he have not this spirit of love, he will find it impossible to go far in the footsteps of the Master, for the sacrifice of Christ was not vain-glorious, not for outward show, not for honor of men, but prompted by love--toward God and men. So likewise with us, if we have not love in our hearts for the brethren, and the love of gentleness and benevolence toward all men, and even toward the brute creation, we have not the spirit which will carry us through in making the sacrifices necessary under present conditions. It will only be a question of time with such when the power of pride or vain-glory, holding them in the way of sacrifice, will snap asunder, and selfishness take full control. He who would be faithful even unto death, walking in the footsteps of the Master, must receive of the Master's spirit of love, before he can thus follow him. As the Apostle declares, "He that saith, I love God, and hateth his brother, is a liar. He that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen?" Hence, the Scriptures place the love of the brethren as one of the evidences of our having been begotten of the spirit, and of our being in touch with the Master.
THIS LAW IN PRACTICAL OPERATION.
And love of the brethren does not mean merely love for a faction, or clique, or for some of the brethren who have natural qualities which we admire. It means love for all who have accepted the New Covenant and are seeking to walk by the Golden Rule of love. It means that if some have peculiarities of natural development and disposition, which are discordant to our ideas and sentiments, nevertheless, we will love and cherish them, and cheerfully serve them, because they are trusting in the Lord, and have been accepted of him, and have adopted the law of the New Covenant, the royal law of liberty and life, as their standard. We thenceforth know them not after the flesh, with its peculiarities and knots and twists: but after the new nature, as "new creatures." It means also that each of us in proportion as we discover our own natural crooks and twists, which are contrary to the law of love, will seek to get rid of these imperfections of the flesh as rapidly as possible, and to make them as little obtrusive and offensive to others as possible.
From this standpoint love will not be forever noting the defects of the various members of the body of Christ, nor holding them up to ridicule and scorn of others; but each will be, so far as possible, fully as anxious to cover the defects of others as to cover his own defects; and to sympathize with others in their conflicts with their besetments, as he sympathizes with himself, and desires that the Lord shall sympathize with him, in his own conflict with his own imperfections. "If any man have not the spirit of Christ [the disposition of Christ, love] he is none of his."--`Rom. 8:9`.
The object of the present call of the Church, in advance of the call of the world, to share in the benefits and privileges of this New Covenant, is to select in advance, not those that are perfect, not those who are the copies of God's dear Son, but those who desire and will seek to become copies of God's dear Son, "conformed to the image of his Son." That image is love itself, for as God is love, so Christ's character is love, the express image of the Father. This is the mold into which we are to be fashioned. But God will not impress us into this mold; he will not force upon us these lines of character: rather, the only influences which he exerts to this end are the "exceeding great and precious promises; that by these we might become partakers of the divine nature" and impress upon ourselves the divine character of love, and thus escape the corruption that is in the world through selfishness; or rather, we are to keep ourselves in the love of God while he causes the pressure of all things to deeply engrave it upon us.--`Jude 21`.
The matter is left open to us; we can either avail ourselves of these promises and permit them to mold and fashion us according to the copy, little by little, daily and hourly, in thought, in word and in deed, or we can resist their proper influence, and we can hold the truth in unrighteousness. Those who take the latter course are purchasing for themselves thereby bitter disappointment; for such are not of the kind to whom the Lord will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things." The degree of our devotion to the Lord, therefore, will be indicated in the degree of our love for him and his; and the degree of our love and devotion will be manifested by our activity in conquering self and its selfishness, in all its ramifications throughout the affairs of life, and bringing all our thoughts and talents, great or small, into active service, prompted by love to God and to his people. And such will appreciate the sentiments of the Apostle, when he said, "We [who have
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received of the begetting of the holy spirit of our Master, the spirit of love, and who have grown to some extent in the knowledge of him--we] ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren."
THE ROYAL LAW DURING THE MILLENNIUM.
These same principles will be applicable to some extent during the Millennial age: note some of the differences between then and now, in the operation of this New Covenant.
First, the Mediator shall then draw or call all men to a knowledge of the grace of God bestowed upon them in the provisions of this New Covenant; whereas now all are not called, but only "Whomsoever the Lord your God shall call," for no man cometh unto the Son now, except the Father who sent the Son draw him. (`Jno. 6:44`.) Not many great, or wise, or learned, or rich are called.
Second, the acceptance of the New Covenant then will be less a matter of faith and more a matter of knowledge, than now; because the Lord shall take away the vail of ignorance which now is spread over all the earth, and the blinded eyes shall see out of the obscurity.--`Isa. 25:7`; `29:18`.
Third, nevertheless it will be equally necessary that each one who would then avail himself of the blessed provisions of the New Covenant shall for himself enter into a positive covenant with the Mediator, that he will obey the law of the New Covenant, Love. Love is the voice or command of the great Teacher, who shall then stand up with authority, and cause that all the world of mankind shall hear this message. "It shall come to pass that whosoever will not hear [obey] that prophet shall be cut off from among his people." All who will not conform themselves to the law of love, the law of the Millennial Kingdom, shall be cut off in the Second Death.
Fourth, but even in the Millennial age God will not compel mankind to be conformed to this law. He will compel them to bow to and acknowledge the rule of love, as it is written, "Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess;" because, when the Kingdom is established, and righteousness is laid to the line, and justice to the plummet, every violation of the law of that Kingdom, the Golden Rule, will meet with swift punishment; to the intent that evil doers shall be afraid, and that the righteous shall flourish. But God will still not impress the law of love upon the hearts of any; he leaves that for each to do for himself, just as at the present time. Each then, as now, must "put away" from his heart selfishness and all of the concomitant evils resulting from sin. Each then, as now, must "cleanse himself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the reverence of the Lord" (`2 Cor. 7:1`); because God seeketh not such as are merely forced into obedience,--he "seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth"
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--such as love the law of God with all their heart, and who are at warfare with selfishness and sin, especially in themselves.
Hence we see that at the close of the Millennial age, after the full opportunity has been granted to the world to have two-fold experience--now, with sin and selfishness, and their misrule, and the evil results; and then, with righteousness and love, and their blessed rule of peace and joy--when all shall have had fullest opportunity to develop in their hearts the spirit of love, then will come a test, a trial, in the close of the Millennial age, which will prove and demonstrate those whose love and fidelity to the Lord are of the heart, versus those whose obedience has been because of expediency. This trial, we may suppose, will not be a trial to see whether or not they will commit some open and flagrant wrong, but rather like the trial of father Adam in his perfection, a trial along the lines of obedience and disobedience, and whether love has been permitted to rule and take full possession of the heart, with resultant faithfulness to God and every principle of righteousness which would trust the Lord and follow strictly in his way.
The result will be that all of the world who then shall not have the spirit of love properly developed, will be cut off in the Second Death, as unfit for eternal life, or to go beyond the Millennium into the grand conditions;--respecting which God has promised us that there shall be no more dying, no more sighing, no more crying, no more pain, there; because all the former things shall have passed away--all the things of sin, and all who have sympathy or love for sin.
The victory in this race is not because of willing, nor for perfect running, yet it is only to him that willeth and that so runneth--through Christ. Thus Mercy rejoiceth against Justice, yet he that shows no mercy and who thus shows himself lacking in love shall receive no mercy. He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and for such are all the riches of divine mercy and grace.
I'LL DO MY VERY BEST.
I may perform no deed of great renown,
No glorious acts to millions manifest;
Yet in my little labors up and down
I'll do my best.
I may not paint a perfect masterpiece,
Nor carve a statue by the world confessed
A miracle of art; yet will not cease
To do my best.
My name is not upon the rolls of fame,
'Tis on the page of common life impressed;
But I'll keep marking, marking just the same,
And do my very best.
And if I see some fellow traveller rise
Far, far above me, still with quiet breast
I keep on climbing, climbing toward the skies,
And do my very best.
Mine may not be the beautiful and grand,
But I must try to be so careful, lest
It fail to be what's put into my hand--
My very best. --H. Guy Carleton.
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WERE LINCOLN AND GRANT CHRISTIANS?
Question. In the WATCH TOWER of June 15, p.180, the intimation seems to be that Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant were not Christians, but noble specimens of the natural man; and that their opportunities in the future may be much more favorable than those of some who, professing Christ in church membership, deny him openly and continually in their daily life; but, nevertheless, that such moral people are in no sense counted by the Lord as members of his elect Church. Have I understood you correctly?
Answer. You have stated the matter very correctly. The Church is composed only of believers in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus, who, because of their faith, are reckoned as justified from all sin.
Moreover, the believer must subsequently consecrate himself to the Lord a "living sacrifice," ere he is reckoned as a member of the body of Christ, which is the Church. And this implies not only belief with the heart, but also confession with the mouth, and in the general course of life a manifestation of having (in will at least) died to sin and self and become alive as a new creature to the Lord and his righteousness.
We are well aware that the foregoing is very contrary to the general views of this subject, but the Scripturalness of our position cannot be successfully controverted. The popular, but very erroneous, idea of the name Christian was recently illustrated by the answer of a gentleman to the question whether or not he or any of his family were Christians. His answer was,--Well, I presume we are Christians, for we are not Jews, nor heathen.
The trouble with Protestants in general is that they assume that the Scriptures teach that all who are not of the Church are damned to eternal woe, and they reason correctly that Lincoln and Grant were too good to be everlastingly tormented, and so, without the slightest warrant of Scripture and in opposition to it, they crowd into heaven, as members of the glorified Church, "all the ring-streaked and speckled" of Christendom, excluding only the absolutely black.
And when we call their attention to the Scriptures which declare that the blessings of the Church's high calling are promised only to the sanctified in Christ Jesus, who strive to walk in the Master's footsteps of self sacrifice; and to the fact declared by the Apostle, that "without holiness no man shall see the Lord,-- then they abandon the Scriptures, declaring that they prefer their own judgments. However, if the Scriptures be rejected at all they should be rejected in toto. But in that case to be consistent they would have to abandon all hope in a divine plan of salvation, for there is no other revelation of it: and such is the general trend.
We most heartily agree that Lincoln and Grant were far too noble to be justly sentenced to everlasting torments: and we will go a step further, and assert that no man is or ever was bad enough to justly merit eternal torment. The Bible commends itself as vastly superior to the views and teachings of the heathen and of Christian sects, in that it does not teach so unjust and unreasonable a theory.*
Much more consistent is the teaching of Roman Catholicism than that of Protestants on this subject. It puts all except the "saints" into Purgatory for purification and development.
But the essence of consistency is found in the teachings of the Bible: that (1) the present age is merely "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of service" in the age to follow this--the Millennium. (`Eph. 4:12`.) (2) That under that future ministry of the saints, for which they are now being perfected, "all the families of the earth shall be blessed," which will include the awakening of "them that sleep in the dust of the earth" (`Dan. 12:2`); for in that glorious day of blessing and restitution "all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth."--`John 5:28`; `Acts 3:19-23`.
When the sleeping world comes forth from the grave it will be found that while all men inherit blemished characters, nevertheless, each has according to his knowledge and opportunities either builded and strengthened character or undermined and degraded the measure of character received from his parents. Among these will be noble characters, such as Lincoln, Grant, Plato, Socrates, Confucius and many others less notable. These will be recognized according to their true worth at a time when "every secret thing shall be revealed" whether it be good or bad. And amongst those who shall then come forth we are told there will be some exposed to "shame and lasting contempt." (`Dan. 2:2`.) Oh, how much meanness and perfidy and hypocrisy and selfishness will then be exposed: and what shame will be connected with this exposure--and what contempt in their own eyes as well as in the eyes of each other. Yet all this will be a part of their "blessing," which, to those rightly exercised thereby, will work out reform and gradually lead, step by step, up to full restitution of all the glorious likeness of God bestowed upon father Adam and lost by disobedience. The shame and contempt will
*See What Say the Scriptures About Hell? Postpaid 10c. Watch Tower office.
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continue so long as the shameful and contemptible conditions continue, and no longer. And all who refuse to go up on the highway of holiness then opened up to
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them "shall be destroyed from among the people"-- "the Second Death."--Compare `Isa. 35:8`; `62:10`; `Acts 3:23`; DAWN I., Chap. 11.
WAS THE TEMPLE CLEANSED TWICE?
Question. From the various accounts would it not appear that the Temple was cleansed twice? I see that DAWN and WATCH TOWER always refer to the matter as tho there had been but one cleansing.--See `Mark 11:15`; `John 2:13-17`; `Matt. 21:12,13`.
Answer. Many take the view suggested--that there were two cleansings; but we do not share it. It will be noticed that Matthew, Mark and John each mention the matter only once; and each mention once our Lord's riding upon the ass in fulfilment of `Zechariah's prophecy (9:9-12`); but only one of them connects these two events--Matthew. Moreover, since all agree that the riding on the ass was in fulfilment, of Zechariah's prophecy, and that there our Lord assumed for the first time his title as King, it is but reasonable to suppose that the use of force in cleansing the temple followed and did not precede that assertion of regal authority. For the same reasons we accept that same day as the one on which our Lord wept over Jerusalem and said "Your house is left unto you desolate!" Note the Prophet's expression--"Even to-day do I declare I will render [the second half of thy] double unto thee;"--the day of the riding on the ass as King.
The disconnection so noticeable in the gospels may be accounted for (1) By remembering that the Apostles were "unlearned men," not regularly educated historians, men who recorded the wonderful words and works of their wonderful Teacher, but apparently saw little necessity for order or sequence. (2) By assuming that in this matter our Lord designed the confusion of the record, that only the faith-full and zealous might, under the leading of the holy spirit be led to "rightly divide the Word of truth" and to get from it "meat in due season."
CHRISTIAN DUTY IF DRAFTED.
Question. There are possibilities of a still greater war and of a draft which might include some of us who understand our Lord's commands to forbid our engagement in carnal warfare. What then, would be our duty?
Answer. "We know that all things shall work together for good to those who love God--to the called ones according to his purpose." If, therefore, we were drafted, and if the government refused to accept our conscientious scruples against warfare (as they have heretofore done with "Friends," called Quakers), we should request to be assigned to the hospital service or to the Commissary department or to some other non-combatant place of usefulness; and such requests would no doubt be granted. If not, and we ever got into battle, we might help to terrify the enemy, but need not shoot anybody. Meantime what an opportunity we might thus have for preaching "Jesus and the resurrection;" --for being "living epistles known and read by all" the camp;--examples of good soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ, drilled and thoroughly equipped with the armor of God, loyal and courageous in the Christian warfare, against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
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"JEHOVAH, HE IS THE GOD."
--JULY 17.--`1 KINGS 18:30-40`.--
"And when all the people saw it they fell on their faces, and they said: Jehovah, he is the God."--`1 Kings 18:39`.
THE three and a half years of drouth no doubt had an humbling effect upon King Ahab, as well as upon the people of Israel. No doubt they began to wonder where the matter would end; and to recognize it as more than an accident--as a judgment. The question would be whether it was a judgment from Baal or a judgment from Jehovah; for the people, as a result of their extended acquaintance with idolatry had a comparatively weak faith respecting the unseen Jehovah, who permitted no image or likeness of himself to be made or to be worshiped. The Lord's time had come for awakening Israel, and starting a reformation movement amongst them, and Elijah, who had been sought by the King throughout the surrounding nations, was instructed to present himself before Ahab, with a promise that rain should follow; and was permitted to be the Lord's agent in drawing the attention of the people to the true God, who alone has power over the elements.
Altho Ahab realized that the famine was a judgment of the Lord, nevertheless, after the custom of the natural man, he ignored personal responsibility, and affected to charge the evils to Elijah, saying to him, "Are thou he that troublest Israel?" It is always so with the faithful mouthpieces of the Lord. Since they cannot prophesy smooth things, but must present the truth in reproof of unrighteousness, therefore the world and the nominal Israelite hate them.
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They do not seem to realize that the difficulty lies in themselves, and their sins, and their separation from the Lord. But Elijah, humble yet unabashed, did not hesitate to tell the king the truth of the matter, assuring him that the trouble in Israel came from his own wrong course.
The drouth had so humbled Ahab that he did not resent the Prophet's arraignment of his sin: perhaps also he hoped that through the prophet's favor the embargo of the drouth and famine might be lifted. At all events he very promptly complied with Elijah's request that the people of Israel be assembled at Mount Carmel, together with the priests of Baal. Accordingly there was a great concourse to the flat, table-top of Mount Carmel, where Elijah awaited them, the king also coming with them; but Queen Jezebel sullenly remained at the palace in the capital city of Samaria.
Elijah, full of zeal for the Lord, and full of indignation against the idolatry, and probably counseled respecting his course by the Lord, had a plan prepared by which to demonstrate to Israel which was the true God and which the false one. In the presence of the people he made a proposition to the priests of Baal for a contest to prove the question. This proposition was so reasonable, and the interest and expectation of Israel so great, that the priests of Baal dare not refuse. They, four hundred and fifty in number, were to build an altar and to make a sacrifice thereon to their god, Baal, while Elijah would build an altar and offer a sacrifice thereon to Jehovah, and whichever god would answer by fire would thus be attested as the true God. If Baal were powerful enough to answer the prayers of his priests and to accept the offering of the altar, then the people might understand that it was because Baal was offended with them that they had experienced the drouth and the famine. But if Jehovah had the power, and would answer with fire, it would be proof to the people that the drouth and the famine were from him, and signs of his indignation because they had worshiped Baal.
The proposition could not be rejected: the priests of Baal prepared their altar and their sacrifice, and had the advantage of the noon-day heat of a tropical sun, sufficient almost of itself to ignite the fat of the sacrifice. They desired and prayed that the test might be granted; they cut themselves with stones until the blood gushed out, claiming that it must be because some of them, as priests of Baal, had trespassed against him, that their prayers were not heard. They kept this up for hours, until near sunset--Elijah meantime, in the hearing of the people, pouring upon them the sharpest sarcasm--the sarcasm of truth, not of falsehood. He suggested that they pray louder, as peradventure their god might be a little deaf; he urged them to keep it up, peradventure Baal might be on a journey, or attending to other business, or asleep. Thus he was giving to Israel in general the most telling lesson possible, considering their lethargy on religious subjects. He was preparing them for the final demonstration which he was about to give, that Jehovah is the true God, the only God who had power to answer both by fire and by water.
Mark how thorough the Prophet's faith in God, and how thoroughly he demonstrated that there could be no room for deception in connection with his offering. Twelve stone crocks of water were poured upon the sacrifice and the wood, and filled the trench around about it; the sun was losing its power, and the offering was thoroughly drenched, and all things were thus ready for a thorough test of Jehovah's power to send down fire.
Elijah stated the matter to the people: "How long halt ye between two opinions? If Jehovah be God, follow him; but if Baal be God, then follow him." The test was to show which was the true God, and which was the false god, and incidentally which the true and which the false prophets. Then Elijah prayed a beautiful and proper prayer. He did not say, "O Lord, cause Israel all to know how great, I Elijah, am, as a prophet of the Lord," but "Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art Jehovah God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again [--recalling them again by their experiences and these signs to be thy people]."
The answer by fire was prompt, and the effect upon the people great. They promptly acknowledged Jehovah, and slew the priests of Baal. Then, while Ahab and the people rejoiced in Elijah's promises that the
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long hoped for rain would come, and went to their homes to rejoice and feast, the prophet remained upon the mountain to pray for that which God had definitely promised. Once he prayed, and sent his servant a distance to look for indications, but no answer. Again he prayed, and sent his servant again, but no evidence of response. After having been used of the Lord so mightily, in the matter of the sacrifice, Elijah might have gotten to feel too much of his own importance, if his prayer for rain had been too promptly responded to. Opportunity was given for fear and doubt, that the Lord would fail to keep his engagement, respecting the rain. But knowing the sureness of the Lord's word, Elijah did not doubt; he prayed again and again, and sent his servant each time to see what evidences there were of the Lord's answers to the prayers, until finally, when he had prayed for the seventh time, and inquired for a sign, the young man returned, saying that he saw a small cloud about the size of a man's hand. Then Elijah ceased his prayer, and realized
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that the beginning of the fulfilment had come.
There is a lesson in this also for the Lord's people of to-day, that, as our Lord said, "We ought to pray and not to faint," not to grow weary in looking for, asking for and expecting the spiritual blessings which the Lord has promised us. Many of the prayers which fail of fulfilment, fail because the petitioners ask amiss; for things which God has not promised. Others fail, because of lack of faith. The prayer of faith is that which is offered, "nothing doubting," and whose hope is based upon a definite promise of the Lord. For instance, to us as new creatures, the Lord has declared, "Your heavenly Father is more willing to give the holy spirit to them that ask him, than are earthly parents to give good gifts [of an earthly kind] to their children." He that seeketh the spirit of holiness, the showers of divine grace, findeth them. To him that knocketh, the stores of divine favor shall be opened.
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A DISCOURAGED REFORMER.
--JULY 24.--`1 KINGS 19:1-16`.--
"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him."--`Psa. 37:7`.
SUDDEN was the reformation which apparently in one day overthrew the religion of Baal, and destroyed his priests, and revived the religion of Jehovah, and brought his prophet Elijah most prominently before Israel. But the influence of the slavery to superstition could not be easily eradicated. Reformation was not accomplished, but merely commenced by the test which the Lord had given at the hands of Elijah, in accepting the sacrifice with fire, and subsequently sending the promised rain. The people were lacking in those qualities of liberty and nobility of mind which are essential to a quick and thorough reformation. They lacked the courage of their convictions, and consequently were easily brought under the influence of that wicked woman, Jezebel, whose evil spirit and self-will were courageous enough to combat anything, everything.
Ahab, and all Israel, seemed to be thoroughly humbled and converted, but Jezebel, fearing not God and regarding not man, was furious when she learned that the priests of the religion which she had championed had been put to death. Ignoring the king and the people of Israel entirely, she constituted herself the executive, and sent word to Elijah that he might expect to die also, as the priests of Baal had died, within twenty-four hours. It is altogether probable that this was merely a threat, intended to drive Elijah out of the kingdom; so that she might the better overthrow the reform movement which he had so recently begun. Had she not become fearful that the killing of Elijah might have brought some disastrous result, either through an insurrection of the people or through a divine judgment, no doubt she would have ordered his assassination, instead of notifying him of what she would do twenty-four hours later.
The notification had what we presume was the designed effect: Elijah, thoroughly frightened and discouraged, fled panic-stricken before a woman; whereas but a few days before he had courageously faced the king, and reproved him. Ah, who will say that a woman has no power in the world! And her power for evil is commensurate with her power for good. No one can read the history of the world without seeing that woman has played an important part in all the important acts of the world's great drama. Her influences have been potent, both for good and evil, truth and error, God and Satan. Let not the sisters despise their opportunities, but let them seek to use them ever and always on the side of the good, the true, the pure, the noble, the holy, and in harmony with the Lord's Word.
Elijah fled to the kingdom of Judah. Utterly discouraged, he went alone into the wilderness, and prayed that he might die. How severe his disappointment was we may judge. There had been three and a half years of preparation for this reform movement, and it had been inaugurated under such favorable conditions, and at first with pronounced results; and now to have the entire matter fail was certainly very discouraging.
But the Lord did not even chide the Prophet for his timidity, etc. "He knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust;" he makes allowance for our unintentional imperfections. God realized, better than did the Prophet, the physical exhaustion which he had experienced in connection with the great work which he had done within the past few days. So now, instead of chiding him, he was permitted to take rest in sleep and was provided miraculously with nourishment, and then sleep again; and, his vitality replenished, he arose refreshed, and ate again, before commencing a long journey and a long fast, of forty days.
The lesson here to us is God's care over those who are fully consecrated to him, and who seek to do his will. He cares for our bodily necessities as well as for our spiritual wants. "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of." Another lesson is found in the character of the food which the Lord supplied to Elijah. It would have been just as easy for Omnipotence
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to have provided dainties and luxuries for the prophet, but instead the provision was very simple --bread and water. The bread is called a "cake," for the customary food of that country then was, and still is, bread made about a quarter inch thick, and somewhat in the form of a pancake, baked on heated pebbles. Our Lord's promise to us, as his faithful people, is that our bread and water shall be sure; we are not to ask for more than this; whatever is received more should be accepted with thanksgiving and to the Lord's glory. Elijah's food also was a symbol of the Church's spiritual food: water is a symbol of truth-- water of life; the unleavened bread is a symbol of Christ, whom we appropriate to our needs, for our refreshment through all the journey of life.
Having journeyed to Mount Horeb (that is, Mount Sinai) the Prophet seems to have been without any special aim or purpose before his mind, for he simply dwelt in a cave there. The Lord brings this fact that he had no definite purpose or aim in life, to the prophet's attention by the inquiry, "What doest thou here, Elijah?"
Elijah told the Lord how discouraged he felt, and why,--that he had in his zeal for the Lord attempted to do all that he could, but that apparently everything was wrecked, and the people of Israel had lost their courage and their faith in the Lord, and that apparently nothing further could be done to help them. And the Lord proposed to give Elijah a little lesson on various methods of work--so he sent him out upon the mountain, and there exhibited his power to him in various forms: (1) "A great and strong wind rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rock before the Lord." Here was an illustration of power such as Elijah had probably never before seen--wind with a velocity to rend the rocks; yet notwithstanding all this power, this was not God; it was merely the power of God. (2) He showed him an earthquake--the power of God to lift and to shake the mountains; yet neither was this the Lord; but an exhibition of his power. (3) A wonderful display of celestial fire, lightning, was next presented; but this was merely another grand manifestation of omnipotence. (4) Finally, in a great stillness, he heard a small voice speaking to him. Ah, here he recognized God. It had an influence upon him that all the manifestations of power did not have. He wrapped his face in his mantle, and fled back to the cave.
We are not informed what the voice said to Elijah, but we see that he learned the lesson designed, namely, that God has a way of appealing to the heart of man more powerfully than by the wonderful gymnastics and phenomena of nature. Perhaps the small voice told Elijah that he should have had greater faith in God, and should have remained at his post, notwithstanding the threat of Jezebel, and that the Lord could have delivered him from her power. However, the Lord spoke to him again, intimating that he was doing
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nothing, and not in a place to do anything-- "What doest thou here?" Elijah made the same response as before, about his discouragement, but by this time he had learned lessons of the Lord's providential dealing, and was prepared for the mission given him. The commission indicated that there was to be a general change in the affairs of Israel--a new king instead of Ahab, and another prophet instead of Elijah. Hazael, who was anointed to be the new king over Syria was to be the divine agent in bringing the divine judgment upon Israel and its king, Ahab, thus compelling reform, and preparing for better conditions future.
The Lord's inquiry of Elijah may be variously emphasized, and may be applied fitly to each one of the Lord's consecrated people. It may be profitable to us if each one will ask himself the question, What doest thou here? What are we doing for the Lord and for his cause? What are we trying to do? Are we fleeing from the threats of the Lord's enemies? Are we discouraged in his service? Having begun in the spirit, are we hoping, contrary to his Word, to find earthly blessings and victories? Has the courage which enabled us for a time to fight the good fight deserted us? After being courageous for the Lord and his truth and his people are we in danger of being put to flight by a woman or a man, or any other creature? Is the Lord's arm shortened that it cannot help us and deliver us? Shall we receive of his marks of kindness and provision for our necessities of spiritual food, yet doubt his care and ability to supervise our temporal interests, and our endeavors to render service to his cause. Let us gather a blessing of instruction from the experience of Elijah, as delineated in this lesson, lest we be weary and faint in our minds. Greater is he that is on our part than all they that be against us. He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with the temptation provide also a way of escape. His grace is sufficient for us. Nevertheless, for these things he will be inquired of by us, and he demands that we shall exercise faith in him corresponding to his mercies and manifold favors to us, for "without faith it is impossible to please God."--`Heb. 11:6`.
ELIJAH'S LESSON SYMBOLICALLY CONSIDERED.
Recognizing that Elijah was a typical character representative of Christ in the flesh (the complete Church, head and body), should lead us to scan every
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feature of his experience, to note, if possible, the correspondence to it in the experience of the Church. We have already pointed out that the discouragement of the Reformer and his flight represent the discouragement of many of God's people now, in view of the rising power of Papacy and the tendency of so-called Protestants to sympathy with Papal methods, and the general abandonment of faith in the "ransom for all" paid at Calvary.
It seems, therefore, not unreasonable to suppose that the lesson given to Elijah, just examined, represents a lesson which God has for his people now--to keep us at work undiscouraged or to revive the fainting. The lesson we see is this.
Protestants obtained from Papacy the false idea that the whole world must be converted during this age. Experience and statistics prove that this is an impossible task;--that the population increases at a ten-fold more rapid ratio than even nominal conversions to Protestantism. Dismay and discouragement are followed by perplexity. But now as "meat in due season" the Lord gives his people an inkling respecting his plan for man's salvation and it restores confidence and zeal on the part of his people. He shows them that his power will first be manifested and that afterward he will speak to the people by the still small voice of the spirit of the truth which shall be surely heard.
The four exhibitions of the Lord, given to Elijah, represent, we believe, four manifestations, in which the Lord is about to reveal himself to mankind;--the first three of which will prepare men for the final one in which will come the desired blessing, to all the families of the earth. These are:
(1) The mighty winds rending the very rocks. Blowing winds seem to be used in Scripture as a symbol for wars. And `Revelation (7:1-3`) teaches us that the wars, whose dark clouds have threatened the civilized world so ominously for the past thirty years, have been miraculously hindered to give opportunity for "sealing" the Lord's consecrated people in their foreheads (intellectually) with the present truth. We are therefore to expect that when these winds of war shall be let loose, it will mean a cataclysm of warfare which shall divide kingdoms (mountains)--prefigured by the mighty wind shown to Elijah, which rent the rock. But God's Kingdom will not follow the epoch of war: the world will not thus be made ready for the reign of Immanuel. No, a further lesson will be needed and will be given. It is represented in
(2) An earthquake. Throughout the Scriptures an earthquake seems always to represent revolution, and it is not unreasonable to expect that an era of general warfare would so arouse the lower classes of Europe and so discontent them with their lot (and especially with the conditions which would follow such a war) that revolution would be the next thing in order. If so, the earthquake made known to God's people is the one referred to in `Revelation 16:18`. But severe tho those revolutionary experiences will be to the world they are not sufficient to prepare men to hear the voice of God. It will require
(3) The fire from heaven;--an epoch of divine judgments and chastisements upon a maddened but unconverted world wild in anarchy, as other Scriptures show us. The results of their wars and revolutions and anarchy--the failure of their schemes and the lessons of divine judgments will however, have an exhausting and humbling effect and prepare mankind for God's revelation of himself in
(4) The still small voice. Yes, he who spoke to the winds and waves of the sea of Galilee will, in due time, "Speak peace to the peoples." He will speak with authority, commanding the observance of his long neglected law of Love. "And it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hear that Prophet shall be cut off from among his people."--`Acts 3:23`.
Mark the harmony of `Psalm 46` with these thoughts drawn from Elijah's lesson. After portraying in symbol the dashing of the kingdoms of this world, the shaking of society by revolution and the figurative melting of society under the fire of God's judgments, and after every hope of man in his own power is gone, the still small voice is heard, commanding,--"Be still and know that I am God! I will be exalted among the people, I will be exalted in the earth."
The difficulty with mankind is, in great part, their ignorance of God. And they fail to know him, partly at least because of their high opinion of their own wisdom and ability to get along without God. They will soon learn to the contrary and will then be willing to hearken to divine wisdom, and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord's house. He shall teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths."--`Isa. 2:3`; `Micah 4:2`.
"All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth." --`Psa. 25:10`.
The lesson to the Lord's people from these symbols is, that God has the power by which eventually he will "subdue all things unto himself," and bring order out of present confusion. We are to "wait patiently for him," and labor on diligently and fervently to the extent of our opportunities and abilities and to "hope to the end for the grace that shall be brought unto us at the revelation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" for "in due season we shall reap if we faint not."--`Gal. 6:9`.