ZWT - 1897 - R2084 thru R2237 / R2112 (061) - March 1, 1897
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VOL. XVIII. MARCH 1, 1897. No. 5.
Can You Do More?.................................. 62
Views from the Watch Tower........................ 63
"Collapse" of Foreign Missions................ 63
The Arbitration Treaty........................ 64
The Problem of Church Unity................... 66
Real Import of Modern Criticism............... 67
The Memorial Supper............................... 68
Millennial Dawn Misrepresented.................... 70
"Why Persecutest Thou Me?"........................ 72
Christian Liberty and Self-Restraint.............. 74
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CAN YOU DO MORE TO SERVE THE TRUTH?
WE hope that each TOWER reader will ask himself this question; and then act according to his answer. Furthermore, we want to assist whoever will accept our assistance.
The past three years of financial depression have greatly hindered what we esteem to be the chief branch of the work--the colporteuring of MILLENNIAL DAWN--and the circulation, instead of increasing yearly, has been decreasing, because many of the colporteurs, unable to make expenses, have been obliged to go into other employment.
It occurs to us that if this fact were realized by the friends of the truth it would lead them each and all to say, "In that event I must step into the breach; I must be that much more active in the service; I must devote that much more time in letting the light shine out upon others." And to such we proffer cooperation as follows:--
(1) We cannot make any concession on tracts, for they are already supplied by the Tract Fund free, in any quantity, post free, to any TOWER reader. Avail yourself of this arrangement. No other tracts were ever offered so cheaply. The poorest, who desires to serve the Lord and his cause thus, has no excuse.
(2) The price of the paper-bound DAWNS, when sold by Colporteurs will hereafter be 25 cents instead 35 cents, which will enable a larger number to purchase.
(3) We will hereafter supply the paper-bound edition of MILLENNIAL DAWN (any language or any assortment) in packages of ten volumes to one address, post paid, for one dollar;--larger orders at the same rate. Five or more volumes, to various addresses, at 15c. per Vol.
Let all who can avail themselves of this offer. If the new postal bill now pending would pass, it would make the postage alone seventy cents on these packs of ten, and would necessitate the cancelling of this offer,--except by freight.
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(5) Where a town has been thoroughly canvassed for DAWN we advise a canvass for "Tabernacle Shadows" and "Reply to Robt. Ingersoll," leatherette, embossed, 10 cents, three for 25 cents; or for What Say the Scriptures About Hell? For this purpose we will supply these pamphlets at 50 cents per dozen, assorted as you may please.
Those who use one hour or one afternoon a week may by these terms be enabled to devote two hours or two half-days per week. Those who loan the DAWNS may increase their work. (One sister in Allegheny has eighty copies constantly loaned out--changing them, about every three weeks.)
Let us, dear Brothers and Sisters, by the Lord's help, take a fresh hold of his work. The people never needed the truth more! It is the only thing that will keep them from Infidelity! People never were more ready to receive the truth! They realize that some great changes are at hand, and many want to understand them. "When the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the land, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness [truth--justice]." If we are anxious to serve, the Lord will give us an opportunity. Here it is!
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
DANGER OF THE "UTTER COLLAPSE" OF FOREIGN
THE Missionary Review of the World has been edited by Rev. A. T. Pierson, D.D., for ten years. Its editor is well posted in everything pertaining to missions, has written a number of books and pamphlets and delivered hundreds of addresses on this subject. Its opinions therefore are entitled to the greatest respect. In its January issue it declares:--
"Without claiming any undue capacity for observation, sagacity in discernment, or accuracy in judgment and induction, the calm conclusion reached after thirty years of study of this theme and of active participation in the actual machinery of missionary enterprise, is, that at no time during the half-century now closing have missions to the heathen been at greater peril of utter collapse! Wide doors are open, immense fields invite, some soil calls for the sower, while harvests demand the reaper; we never knew so well how much territory there is to be possessed, and how deep is the need of mankind; never had the church such opportunities and facilities, never such large numbers and wealth at her disposal; and yet, with doors open wider than ever, and candidates offering in unprecedented numbers, the giving of the people of God is so utterly inadequate and disgracefully disproportionate, that where every divine sign of the times is a call for rapid advance and expansion, our drums beat a retreat, and our boards loudly call for retrenchment!
"And--what is to our view most fraught with risk--there is a growing apathy about the whole question of the world's evangelization, which seems to argue a decay at the very root of missionary enterprise. The causes for this we can not for ourselves either doubt or deny. On one hand there is laxity of doctrine, which, at least, leads disciples to indulge a vague 'eternal hope,' like Dean Farrar, that the heathen are not really lost without Christ: and on the other hand, there is a laxity in practice, which leads to a practical recognition of all religions as belonging to a universal brotherhood of faiths, and to the fellowship of their representatives as entitled to our 'Christian charity,' forgetful of the famous proverb quoted by Dr. John Ryland to Robert Hall, that 'charity is an angel while she rejoiceth in the truth, but a harlot when she rejoiceth in iniquity," embracing those whom she should rather pity and weep over."
The following is given by the same journal as a survey of the condition of the nominal church which has led, and is leading, to this threatened "utter collapse." It declares the cause to be the decline of "vital godliness." It says:--
"Look at the church pervaded by sectarianism, sacramentalism, ritualism and Romanism, and an even more fatal secularism. Behold the awful lack of gospel preaching, the reckless extravagance that reigns and practical denial of stewardship, the low level of piety, the prevalence of prayerlessness and the encroachment of virtual infidelity. See the church confronting the world with its more than thousand million unconverted souls, scattered over a wide unevangelized territory, with its unoccupied and neglected fields continental in breath; yet unable to grapple with the awful problems of society, conscious of a widening gap or gulf between itself and the world, yet unable to bridge the gulf, while the intemperance, licentiousness, and anarchy of society takes on a more and more revolutionary aspect."
* * *
It was necessary that the gospel should be preached in all the world, to every nation, for a witness, before the end of this age should come. This work, we believe, has been accomplished. We should be glad indeed if as good a civilization as our own could be carried to the uttermost regions of earth, but the civilizing and social uplifting of the world we clearly see from the Scriptures does not belong to this age, but to the next,
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the Millennial age. Those who are hoping for the conversion of the world along the lines of present missionary effort, or any effort possible under present conditions, are hoping against hope. Not only can they see such discouragements as are above pointed out by the Missionary Herald, a "danger of utter collapse" because of lessening of interest in civilized lands, but, on the other hand, they must look squarely in the face the fact that while their most sanguine and exaggerated estimates of this century's success with the heathen claims one million converts, the same period of time has witnessed a natural increase of those heathen peoples of over two hundred millions. Why cannot all true Christian hearts, which long for the blessing of their fellow creatures, see that there is something wrong with their expectations, which now after fifteen centuries are as far as ever from realization, so far as the complete conversion of the world is concerned? Why will they not turn to the Word of the Lord and there see with us that the divine purpose in this age is the election or selection of a Church, a "little flock," of which our Lord Jesus is the Head and of which all his fully consecrated and faithful ones are members? Why can they not see that this Church, through trials of faith and oppositions from the world, the flesh and the devil, and through much tribulation, is being prepared of the Lord to be "his Kingdom and priesthood," through which, clothed with divine power--glory, honor and immortality--God will be pleased shortly to bless all the families of the earth according to his original promise as made to father Abraham.--`Gal. 3:16,29`.
Those who have been blessed by the Lord with the light of present truth have no such cause of despondency as others; nor have they any lack for fields of work. The Chief Reaper sends us, as he did the disciples in the Jewish age, with the message of present truth--"the kingdom of heaven is at hand,"--not to the wild savages of foreign lands, but to the fields "white already to harvest"--to those who have already heard the gospel,--to gather the "wheat" into his garner before the "fire" of the great trouble shall come upon the "field"--the whole civilized world.
And wherever there are ripe grains of "wheat," there we believe the Lord is sending the sickle of truth. In our last issue we gave letters from some interested in present truth from the various quarters of the world, and we might have added to them others from South America, Africa and India. Wherever there are ripe grains of "wheat," thither we believe the Lord will send the separating present truth. It will be first of all a test as to loyalty to him, and worthiness to be gathered into his "garner," as one of his faithful ones; secondly, if the test of faithfulness be passed successfully, it will serve to bless and uplift and strengthen, and to prepare the true believer with an understanding of many things that were, many things that are, and much respecting the things that are yet to be,--that he may not walk on in darkness and stumble into the ditch of unbelief with the masses.
RELIGIOUS AND SECULAR AFFAIRS COMMINGLING.
The general tendency for religion and politics to draw together is illustrated by the recent decision of a New York supreme judge, denying a Jewish organization a certificate of incorporation because its annual meeting was fixed for Sunday. The journals of the larger religious denominations very generally approve the judge's decision, while the organs of the smaller denominations, and Hebrew papers, very generally, condemn the decision as unjust and an attempt to control by the power of the state questions that are purely religious. The smaller denominations very properly see that if the views of the majority are permitted to control in any religious matter, it will be an entering-wedge for almost absolute majority control in all religious matters and liberties. The Jewish Messenger, commenting on this decision, says:--
"It has served the purpose of again making the Jew appear as under proscription, and at the hands of a jurist who, both by birth and training, was supposed to be above such bigotry. One cannot but feel ashamed that our age and city should witness such a revival of the blue laws. Perhaps Judge Pryor has been influenced by the recent opinion of the New York Presbytery as to the doubtful character of Jewish moral environment. Judge Pryor's ruling should not go unchallenged, and his violation of American civil and religious liberty merits a more effective rebuke than it has yet received."
THE ARBITRATION TREATY.
The U.S. Senate has not yet confirmed the Arbitration Treaty between the United States and Great Britain; but there is every probability that it will be approved with perhaps slight amendments. The measure is extremely popular both in Great Britain and here, and that with all classes. The disposition with many is to consider this the beginning of universal peace, with Reason as the arbiter instead of the Sword. The suggestion is freely made that it will not be long before all the nations of Europe will practically disarm. In this, and in connection with the hope for "union" amongst Protestant denominations, the worldly Church is looking for the realization of its ideal of the Millennium, when the whole world will be converted; not by the preaching of Christ, and him crucified, as the only name given under heaven or amongst men, but by harmonizing the Christian religion with the various religions of the world, saying, "There is some
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good in every religion, and the important things are civilization and prosperity, with some outward form of religion."
Alas! how far short all this would come of the grand hopes set before us in the gospel--even if it could be attained. If the whole world were as peaceful and as unarmed as are these United States, and if the whole world had a great civilization and prosperity as have these United States, and if the whole world had as much formalistic and true religion as have these United States; alas, how far we would still be from the blessed condition for which our Master taught us to hope and to pray, when he said, after this manner pray ye--"Our Father which art in heaven....Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
The following from the Jewish Exponent shows that the Hebrews are looking at the matter in a very proper light:-- "THE BEGINNING OF INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION."
"'And it shall come to pass in the last days that the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord's house shall be firmly established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and unto it shall flow all the nations. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in his paths....And he will judge among the nations and decide for many people; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruningknives; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and they shall not learn war any more'
"This prophecy of Isaiah and Micah dates at least as far back as the eighth century before the Christian era. At the end of the nineteenth century of the Christian era it begins to find actual realization in the affairs of two great nations.
"In presenting the treaty of arbitration between the United States and England to the Senate of the United States, President Cleveland intimates that the result reached may not meet the views of the advocates of immediate, unlimited and irrevocable arbitration of all international controversies."
How far from such an ideal the present measure is may be judged from those of its provisions which limit its duration to five years, and make it include but a limited class of subjects within its scope. Compare this with Isaiah's prophecy of universal and perpetual arbitration, disarmament and peace, under the guidance of divine justice and law, and then judge how far off yet are those "last days" of which the prophets speak. Over two thousand six hundred years have elapsed, and this is all that the most enlightened and most closely affiliated of nations are as yet prepared for.
"Nevertheless, the President declares that this treaty cannot fail to be everywhere recognized as making a long step in the right direction, and will mark the beginning of a new epoch in civilization. If this be true, Israel's prophetic writings can hardly be considered obsolete. On the contrary, they promise to attain a new and increased importance from the fact that the policies they prescribe are now beginning to be practically carried out among the nations. As in many other fundamental principles, a remarkable unanimity is here seen between the teachings of Israel's faith and the highest ideals of the American people."
"As it was in the days of Noah," men do not realize that we are now in the last days of this "present evil world [order]." The new dispensation is coming so differently from what they expect. Alas! how the bright hopes of this nineteenth century must shortly be dashed to pieces. What chagrin there will be as, one after another, present institutions shall be drawn into the vortex of the great time of trouble which is near at hand and hasteth greatly. The Lord has not only declared through the prophets that the sword shall be beaten into plowshares and the nations learn war no more, but he has also declared through the same channels that this blessed time shall be introduced by a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation. And of that time of trouble it is declared that then many shall beat their ploughshares and pruninghooks into spears, and the whole world be involved in the great battle. The battle will eventuate in the utter prostration of the world in the zenith of its power and glory. But, praise God, those days of trouble will not be permitted to continue, else as our Lord declared, "there would no flesh be saved." For the sake of the elect--because of Christ, the elect Head, and the Church, his elect body, and the acceptableness of the sin-offering, --the Kingdom of God shall be established under the whole heavens, to lift up and bless the groaning creation, and to grant eternal life and joy to all who will accept them under the conditions of the New Covenant.
* * *
Meantime even the blind can see that the common hopes of peace are not built upon a change of the controlling principles of human hearts from selfishness to love. For instance, note the fact that the French government appointed M. de Kerjegn to examine into and report upon the French Naval equipment as compared with that of Great Britain. He has filed his report, which, after pointing out the great superiority of the British Navy, urges a large increase of the French navy, and concludes thus: "The aim of every patriotic Minister of Marine ought to be to push on to the possession of a fleet capable of ruining the commercial supremacy of England at a given moment." Germany also is increasing her naval armament, so are the United States, Japan and Russia, while Great Britain feels
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bound to keep her fleet ahead of all, to prevent the ruination of her commercial supremacy. Evidently the lion and the lamb are not yet ready to lie down together in peace;--the lion must first get a new disposition.
Lord F. von Luttwitz, writing recently in a Berlin journal, commenting on the determination of the German government to greatly increase its navy, says:--
"A second partitioning of the world is at hand. We need only remember the dissolution of Turkey and the opening of China in order to realize what great opportunities for colonial enterprise [commercial warfare] still exist. Nor should the restless condition of some of the South American republics be forgotten, for these to many offer future advantages. But we will miss our chance again unless we have a fleet. We must become so strong at sea that nations which can afford to snap their fingers at our army cannot afford to ignore us in partitioning the world. We must have a navy, and we must not lose time in getting it. Our alliances are of no value in this matter. We cannot afford to go to war for the sake of some miserable little piece of land far from us, yet we will have to do so if we have no navy. It may be assumed that the next partitioning of colonies will be eminently peaceful. But unless we have a navy powerful enough to take possession of our share and to defend it, the maritime powers will not even consider us as competitor, and we will go out empty."
* * *
On the other side of the question a new factor is discovered. The soldiers of Europe are beginning to think, and are not so anxious as they once were to give up their lives at the behest of kings and princes. A recent dispatch from Brussels, which will be read with interest, is as follows:--
"The disaffection in the Belgian army, founded on the Socialist propaganda against the use of armed force, appears to be making headway. The Soir announces the discovery of organized Socialist clubs in barracks, whose members, while submitting to the rules of the service, are pledged to refuse active service should occasion arise.
"Inquiry in one large center has already revealed the existence of a club of this description, and seventeen non-commissioned officers have been suspended."
THE PROBLEM OF CHURCH UNITY.
Under this caption the Christian Statesman says:--
"What we maintain is no mere speculative theory, away up in the ecclesiastical clouds, and impossible of realization in this matter-of-fact world. On the contrary, it is the simple, practical, Scriptural rule by which the Church of Christ, according to her divinely ordained nature, is under obligation to order her earthly life....We believe that the church cannot effectively meet concentrating hostility in her present divided condition, with her separate denominations often failing to cooperate and not infrequently working at cross purposes. We further believe that she will be compelled in the near future to search for the true solution of the problem of her imperatively needed organic unity. We are constrained, therefore, to point out what we are fully convinced is the remedy that must soon be applied for the healing of her sectarian divisions....The church, like the state, is a social being made up of individual members. Each of these collective beings, by divine ordainment, is clothed with authority in its appropriate sphere of action. And in each of these collective or social beings are found subjects of authority. Christ is the Sovereign Lord and King over both church and state. His Word, given in the sacred Scriptures, contains supreme law for each of these social bodies in its distinct sphere.
"Due regard in the state for the law of Christ secures for it the balance of political authority and the liberties of the citizen, and thus the establishment and preservation of national organic unity. And in like manner due respect for the law of Christ will secure to the church and all her individual members the balance of ecclesiastical liberty and law and consequent enduring
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organic unity. The admitted differences between the sphere and functions of the church on the one hand and the sphere and functions of the state on the other hand will not affect this analogy. Ecclesiastical authority wields no material sword. Its penalties are spiritual."
It is seldom that we find the advocates of Church Federation so outspoken as this; but we admire honesty and frankness even in a bad cause;--and as our readers well know we esteem the movement for the proposed organic union of the churches and then their cooperative union with the state a very bad cause;-- one fraught with danger to the liberties of all classes --but foretold in the Scriptures as associated with the great trouble with which the social and ecclesiastical order of this Gospel age will come to an abrupt end.
We deny every proposition of the quotation. (1) We deny that the church (collectively) is "clothed with authority." On the contrary, we hold that the individual Christian is free from authority except that of the head of the true Church--Christ. His fellows may advise with him or may withdraw from his fellowship, but they have no "authority" over him according to the Scriptures. Since there are none "clothed with authority," there can be no "subjects of authority." The object of Satan, and unwittingly of those whom he deceives, has ever been to deprive the individual Christian of the liberty wherewith Christ has made him free, and under one pretext or another to sink the individual in the mass, under human heads and authorities. Papacy is a woeful illustration of Satan's successes in this direction in the early centuries of this age; and the Protestantism of the sixteenth century, which never entirely rid itself of that influence, is now being drawn into the same snare.
(2) It is not true, as stated, that God's Word given in "the sacred Scriptures contains supreme law for each of these bodies." On the contrary, the Lord's commands and counsels and promises were first to the
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little nation of Israel only, and secondly to the peculiar people, royal priesthood and holy nation--the Church called out of the world and begotten of a new spirit through that Word. And the Lord's words to the Church are not as an organization but as individuals only. "If any man [individually] will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. He that hath an ear let him [individually] hear."
So far from recognizing the state, the nations, and giving them laws, the Lord's Word declares that they are all "kingdoms of this world" and under "the Prince of this world"--Satan. And through the prophet he has pictured these Gentile governments or states as ferocious beasts, and told of their utter destruction at the time of the establishment of his Kingdom for which he taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come!"
(3) It is not true that "Due regard in the state for the law of Christ secures for it the balance of political authority." Quite to the contrary, the balance in politics often goes to the side of the corrupt and the saloon element. The history of the various so-called Christian States of Europe, written in blood, shows that none of them have ever been controlled by the laws of Christ, but all of them per force on contrary lines. Christ gave no national laws because his kingdom is not of this world. He rules individually each citizen of his heavenly kingdom.
(4) The claim that such an organized and dominating Ecclesiastical Authority would need no sword but would merely execute spiritual penalties is delusive. This was Papacy's claim in the zenith of her power. For instance, she damned the Huguenots as "heretics," told how God would torment them in the future, and declared that "heretics" had no rights which governments or people were bound to respect, and promised eternal rewards to all who would oppose them. And when the French king, thus incited, entrapped and massacred them Papacy struck medals to his honor and made him a saint. Thus spiritual penalties and rewards was interpreted not very long ago. We do not presume that Protestant authority would at once become so arrogant, but in some form all dissenters would be considered "heretics" or "anarchists," and persecuted to the extent that public sentiment would sanction.
THE REAL IMPORT OF MODERN CRITICISM.
The editor of the New York Sun has devoted considerable space to the discussion of modern criticism of the Scriptures, as recently publicly voiced by Rev. Lyman Abbott. The editor shows himself as ever to be a logician. Of course, his editorials have aroused opposition from many who seek to defend this modern infidelity. Referring to these defenders, the Sun of Feb. 9, says:--
"They all miss the point, which is that if there is not supernatural authority for Christianity it becomes simply a system of moral philosophy, regarding whose soundness disagreement is justifiable and inevitable. If it is not believed in as coming from God by supernatural revelation, but is treated as simply human in its origin, it will be criticized on its merits alone, as the Jews, for instance, criticize it, and as it was criticized by the Romans. The Romans opposed the Christian system and tried to destroy it as essentially inimical to the state and the established social order. They viewed the Christians and dealt with them as we now regard and treat Anarchists. If, then, the supernatural origin and character of Jesus are denied, his teachings will be examined in a light radically different from that in which their discussion has proceeded hitherto. They will cease to be the foundation of a religion imposing an obligation of belief as essential to obedience to God, and become debatable propositions made by a human teacher of philosophy, and therefore properly and necessarily examinable to determine their intrinsic value....
"It is this destruction in which Dr. Abbott and his defenders are now engaged. If the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale is to be regarded as purely a parable, an allegory, whose actual occurrence was impossible and therefore unbelievable, Christianity must descend from its exaltation as a religion of divine authority, and drop to the level of a system of religious philosophy or speculation, of human authorship. If the story of Jonah is merely allegorical, a fable, every other Biblical tale, from the creation of Adam and Eve up to the supernatural birth and resurrection of Jesus, is likewise allegorical, for they conflict equally with the possibilities under merely natural law. In other words, the arguments of Dr. Abbott and his defenders shatter the whole fabric of religion built by faith, and put the Scriptural reports of supernatural occurrences in the same category with the tales of mythology. This is a conclusion which the theologians of the school of Dr. Abbott try to avoid, with a timidity which may be natural in view of their ecclesiastical relations, for it takes away the reason for their existence....
"Our correspondents who discuss the case of Dr. Abbott, have no conception of the tremendous revolution in sentiment of which it is a symptom. All the infidelity of past periods has been of no consequence as compared with the present infidelity, of which, for the moment, he has made himself an example. It is an infidelity which strikes at the supernatural basis upon which Christianity rests, and therefore relegates the religion of Christendom to the position of mere mythology and fallible human philosophy."
We freely endorse the editor's arguments and his definition of modern criticism as the rankest infidelity.
* * *
The disposition of many to fail to discriminate on such subjects is witnessed by the fact that Dr. Buckley, of the New York Christian Advocate is rated as an utter repudiator of the Bible, worse than Dr. Abbott,--simply because he declared his disbelief that every word, punctuation and fly-speck of our English translation of the Bible is inspired. Nobody of sense could dispute
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his proposition. It is the original Scriptures that we hold were inspired; not the translations of it. Vastly different is Doctor Buckley's position from that of Doctor Abbott.
* * *
The start of modern criticism or "higher criticism" may be said to have been in the theory of Evolution-- which is diametrically opposed to the Bible theory of the creation of man in God's likeness, his fall into sin, imperfection and death, his redemption by a ransom and the restitution to come.
"But according to the following clipping from the New York Tribune, the most intelligent Christians are already perverts from the Bible faith to the protoplasm and monkey doctrine of Evolution, and hence to its associated doctrines known as "higher criticism." It says:--
"To-day, though evolution is not a demonstrated truth, and perhaps never will be, it is practically accepted by most intelligent Christians as the best explanation of life....
"Quite as terrible at first seemed the blow which evolution aimed at the literal interpretation of the Scriptures. Most of those who first read The Origin of Species believed literally in the creation stories in Genesis; and, of course, any theory that made such a belief impossible must have seemed a denial of God's Word. That view of the matter has been abandoned long ago by Christians....Thirty-six years ago it was Darwin against the whole Christian world. To-day Darwin lies among Christian England's honored dead in Westminster Abbey, and the man who publicly protests against elevating to the chair of St. Augustine a clergyman who holds the views of Darwin is contemptuously brushed aside as a crank."
* * *
The man referred to, who was treated as a "crank," is the clergyman mentioned in our issue of January 15,
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who protested against the enthronement of Dr. Temple as Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of all England, because as an Evolutionist he was necessarily lacking in all the fundamentals of Christianity. Now hear Brother Moody, the Evangelist. Before a large audience in Carnegie Hall, New York City, he said:--
"Nineteen hundred years have rolled away since Christ found no place on earth to lay his head. His gospel is now preached in all parts of the world, but is it not a fact that even now there is not room on earth for the Son of God, and no nation wants him?
"Does America want him? It is a Christian nation. England claims to be the most Christian nation, but if a man stood up in Parliament to-morrow to advocate --could it be possible--that Christ should come in person to rule England, he would be hooted down. France, Germany, Italy and Spain are Christian nations. Is there room for him in either?
"Has not Christianity settled down to be a mere lifeless form? Suppose it were possible to petition Christ to return to earth to rule us. How many of the people of New York would sign the petition? Would business men sign it? They would have to change their methods first. Would stock-brokers sign it? It would smash up their business pretty quick. Would saloon-keepers sign it? They would find their occupation gone should they do so.
"I'll bring the question closer home to you. How about the churches? Do they want him? Pride and form and dignity in the church would have to step down.
"But we can bring the question even closer to us. How many ladies here would vote to have him come? I think but few hands would be raised should the vote be taken this afternoon. Thank God, there are a few who have stepped out of the world who would welcome him!"
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THE MEMORIAL SUPPER.
AS instituted by our Lord, and perpetuated by the apostles and the early Church, the Memorial Supper took the place of the Passover Supper--on the fourteenth day of the Jewish first month Nisan. This custom of the early Church is still preserved in the English, Roman, Greek, Armenian and other so-called "Catholic" churches and by Lutherans. But soon after the death of the apostles, ceremonialism gradually crept in and very greatly altered the original simple Memorial services. Then, too, the idea of the Mass was evolved--a fresh sacrifice of Christ as the basis for forgiveness of special sins. Masses are not figurative sacrifices, remembrancers of the great sacrifice at Calvary, but meant as new and real sacrifices. The priest is specially commissioned to turn plain ingredients of bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ in order that the priest may make a fresh sacrifice of Christ, with fresh efficacy for the forgiveness of the special sins for which the Mass (sacrifice) is performed. These Masses appear in many respects to merely elaborate the Lord's blessing and breaking of the bread and wine at the institution of the Memorial Supper, only that they may be and are celebrated at any hour of any day or night.
It is not surprising that after a thousand years of false teaching and false practice along these lines, Protestants, when awaking and seeking to find the old paths, failed to discern all of the Papal error on this and other subjects. Accordingly, while discarding the Papal Mass (called in Scripture "the abomination that maketh desolate") as additional sacrifices for sins, and properly holding and teaching that "by one offering he [Christ] hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (`Heb. 10:14`), they overlooked the fact that the added
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times for what they term "Communion" were added for Masses, and that the anniversary of our Lord's death is the only appropriate and the only appointed time for its commemoration.
Accordingly, some celebrate three times a year, some four and some weekly. If the contention, "the oftener the better," be correct, why should they not celebrate it every day? While we cannot say that done in sincerity it is at any time a sinful abomination like the Mass, we may be sure that men of to-day are not wiser than our Lord and the inspired teachers of the Church--the Apostles--and that any change from the original institution must result unfavorably. The occasion loses its weight and impressiveness by repetitions disconnected with the fact memorialized. How national memorials would lose their intended significance if repeated three to fifty times a year! The fourth of July, for instance, celebrates a great event, the institution of the United States Government, and it is generally celebrated. But suppose instead it were celebrated weekly or quarterly--would not this deprive the celebration of weight and influence? Assuredly; and so with the Memorial of our Lord's death--its anniversary is its only proper or designated occasion for celebration. But once the origin was lost sight of, general carelessness and indifference prevailed, so that although always mentioned in the Scriptures as a "Supper," it is now generally observed at dinner time; and rarely or never as a supper or evening meal, like its pattern.
The expression, "As oft as ye do this, ye do show forth the Lord's death, till he come," has been misinterpreted by many to mean,--Do this as often as ye choose. But the emphasis should be put upon this-- As oft as ye celebrate this annual Memorial, instituted by our Lord, ye are showing forth his death, and are to so do until his second coming--until the establishment of his Kingdom and your glorification therein will fulfill or complete all that is symbolized in the Memorial.
As the people of God "seek for the old paths" (`Jer. 16:6`), the light of present truth spreads and the number who celebrate the central fact of redemption (the great Sin-offering) on its anniversary increases; and this year probably more than ever before, since the fifth century, will "Do this" in remembrance of their Redeemer, on the anniversary of his death.
The "Catholic" churches slightly changed the method of reckoning the anniversary so that they always celebrate a Friday for our Lord's death (Good Friday) and, on the Sunday following, his resurrection (Easter Sunday). The early Church, however, followed the Jewish custom of counting, regardless of the days of the week, and so we do. In fact, it is claimed by some that, as the Jews had an abrupt beginning of months every Spring, with the appearance of the new moon at or after the vernal equinox, so they had an abrupt beginning of weeks with the beginning of Passover, which was always counted a Sabbath and the new start of the cycle. However this may be, their Passover week always began with the fifteenth day of Nisan by divine direction.--`Exod. 12`; `Num. 28:16,17`.
We Christians, however, do not celebrate the Passover week. That will find its anti-type by and by, when the glory of the Kingdom shall be enjoyed. We celebrate the fourteenth; a day of which the Jew takes little or no account. It would appear that the fourteenth of Nisan should have been generally observed, but that the Jews seemed to begrudge the time, and generally crowded the supper over onto the fifteenth day, to gain one more day for business. Certain it is that it was proper to both kill and eat the Passover lamb on the fourteenth, for our Lord and the twelve apostles so did, and our Lord was crucified on the same day; this being provided for in the Jewish arrangement of time, which began each day at six P.M. --`Lev. 23:5,6`.
Reckoning according to the Jewish rule, the fourteenth of Nisan will this year commence Thursday, April 15, at six P.M. At 8 P.M. a few earnest Christians all over the world, including a little company in Allegheny, will break the memorial bread and taste the memorial fruit of the vine, in grateful remembrance of him who loved us and gave himself for us; and in pledge of our fellowship with him and all who are his, in the sufferings and trials of this present time; and in testimony of our hopes of fellowship by and by in his glory. Reader, will you not join with us at that hour? Whether alone, or as little groups, hundreds of miles asunder, we will surely have a special blessing; and, if we seek it, no doubt we will be welcomed specially near to our Heavenly Bridegroom, and be specially strengthened to share his cross, and to withstand the wiles of the devil.
We do not invite a general convocation to Allegheny as formerly, for two special reasons: (1) we are so situated as to be unable to entertain as formerly; and (2) we believe that the cause in general is benefited by having all of each little group meet together on this occasion. Every family together, was the law for the Jews; and it seems appropriate and profitable for us.
As we have heretofore pointed out, anyone of the Lord's people, the choice of the company, may serve the emblems of our Master's broken body and shed blood. The distinctions of "clergy" and "laity" are not of God, but of mistaken men. All who are true "disciples" are invited to take, eat, drink and distribute the emblems. It would surely require a great amount of authority and ordaining to qualify any man to "create God" out of bread and wine, as it is claimed
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the Catholic priests do; but it requires only a fully consecrated, humble believer to do any and every thing commanded by our Lord in respect to this beautiful Memorial. Let us, therefore,--all who are his and who see the beauty of his arrangement--obey, and "do this" in remembrance of him. Unleavened bread is
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best to use, as an emblem of our Lord's purity, his freedom from sin, which leaven symbolizes. Fruit of the vine may be wine or (preferably, we think) unfermented grape-juice, or the juice from stewed raisins; --"fruit of the vine" is quite a broad term.
MAKE DUE PREPARATION.
In the type only the circumcised were allowed to eat of the Passover supper. Circumcision of the heart is the antitype, as the Apostle explains, and signifies a full consecration to the Lord and a separation from the filth of the flesh and sin in general. Let us note, also, that none but those consecrated to be broken with him, and to share his cup of suffering and self-denial, are truly "disciples," and invited to "do this."--See `Matt. 20:22,23`.
Note, also, that even the "circumcised" were to cleanse their dwellings and put away sin, symbolized by leaven. And faith in the blood must be publicly confessed as symbolized by its being sprinkled on the front of their houses. All these things represented Christian life during this Gospel age. The eaters are to be Pilgrims who seek a heavenly country; our "bitter herbs" are the trials and persecutions and revilings and disappointments, incident to our faithfulness to the Lord;--they will only sharpen our appetites for more of our Lamb--Christ our Passover (lamb) slain for us. (`Exod. 12:8,11,12`; `1 Cor. 5:7`.) And, inasmuch as the law provided that none of the lamb must remain over to be eaten on the morrow, it seems to signify, typically, that the privilege of participation in the Lord's sacrifice is meant by the eating; and that this fellowship or communion in sufferings is confined to this Gospel age. This is intimated also by the Apostle. --`1 Cor. 10:16,17`.
Let all of the Lord's people examine themselves to see that their hearts are circumcised, separated from the will of the flesh and fully subjected to the will of God in Christ. Let us see to it that we purge out any of the old leaven of malice, envy and strife (`1 Cor. 5:8`), that the thoughts and intents of our hearts are pure and sweet and clean, and that unavoidable weaknesses are under cover of the precious blood. Although the Lord and the Apostles gave no command to fast forty days, as is the custom of the "lenten season" with many, and although we deprecate such formal commands of men, nevertheless, we believe that those who as a preparation voluntarily do some fasting, as well as praying, will be blest according to their faith and love and devotion.
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MILLENNIAL DAWN MISREPRESENTED.
A SEVENTH-DAY Adventist journal contains the following misrepresentation:--
"If it was expedient that Christ should pass the portals of the tomb to save men from the Adamic death, then it is equally expedient that he should pass the second death tomb, in order to save those who fail in the first opportunity, that they might have the second probation as per Millennial Dawn theology. A second probation for all mankind, and especially the heathen, is a corner-stone in Millennial Dawn theology. We ask, Where is the scripture to show that Christ passed the second-death tomb? If not, can he, or will he, save man from the second death, through a second probation?"
As a Seventh-day Adventist, the writer of the above no doubt acknowledges himself amenable to the command which says, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." In the above statement he violates that rule: he bears false witness against MILLENNIAL DAWN and should make amends by reading the book unprejudicedly and then correcting the misrepresentation.
MILLENNIAL DAWN teaches the very contrary of what is here attributed to it. It teaches that there will be neither redemption nor recovery from the Second Death, but on the contrary, that it is the everlasting punishment predicted for all intelligent and wilful evil doers.
The merest babe in spiritual things should know that under the divine sentence against Adam, which was shared by all of his race, not one of the human family could have everlasting life;--no, nor even a trial for it, which was what Adam had and lost,--except as the ransom-price first secured a release from that original Adamic sentence. This is the plain argument of the great Apostle Paul in `Romans 5:12,17-19`.
This one opportunity or chance for life, secured by the great sin-offering finished at Calvary, is the only one recognized in MILLENNIAL DAWN. And it is quite sufficient. The Scriptures assure us that it was "for all," for "every man," "a propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world;" and logically this implies that "all," "every man," "the whole world," will be granted an opportunity to profit by it, and, if they will, to come into harmony with God, under the merciful provisions of
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the New Covenant, and thus gain the gift of God, eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. This one chance is to be so complete, so ample, that there will be no reason for another. It will be a second chance, individually, to but one person, Adam. It can only be considered a second chance for the entire race by reckoning the entire race as having its first chance while in the loins of Adam, in Eden. That Eden chance or trial resulted in loss to Adam and all in him; none gained life under that chance or trial; and it is from that loss that all have been redeemed by the Second Adam who came to seek and to save that which was lost; and who under the New Covenant, sealed with his own blood, provides an opportunity for the whole race to return to life and harmony with God--(1) the Church as his bride; (2) the world as his children, to the willing and obedient of whom he shall become "the everlasting father."--`Isa. 9:6`.
This chance, secured by Christ for all through his atoning-sacrifice;--this chance which dates from our Lord's resurrection (except as in a typical manner it was previously faintly revealed to the faith of the patriarchs and prophets and in the Law to Israel);-- this chance, call it first or second as any may please, is the only one we find in the Scriptures, and the only one presented in MILLENNIAL DAWN. But let us see how ample it is, and how few have yet enjoyed this chance of trial for eternal life, secured by the precious blood.
Did the millions who lived outside of the favored nation of Israel for the period of over forty-one centuries before Christ, whom the Apostle describes as being "without God and having no hope,"--did those millions have any share in this chance or trial purchased by the precious blood? Surely not!--See `Eph. 2:12`.
Did the millions of Jews who lived and died before Christ, and who at the very most had only typical atonements for sin, year by year, which could never take away sin, nor make the worshipers perfect;--did these have a chance or fair trial for eternal life under the New Covenant, which had not in their day gone into effect? Surely not!--See `Heb. 9:9`; `10:4`.
Did the Jews of our Lord's day who rejected him have a full chance? No; for our Lord and the prophets and the apostles testify that "they were blinded" and that "through ignorance" they crucified Christ, "as did also your rulers." (`Acts 3:17`.) And we are clearly informed that their national blinding was for a purpose, and is to be removed; and that then the New Covenant will go into effect toward them as a people.-- See `Rom. 11:25-27-33`.
How about the heathen of to-day, and the hundreds of millions of the same class who have died since the true Light, the great Light came, since the Atonement sacrifice was slain at Calvary;--have they had any chance of everlasting life, in the remotest sense, never having so much as heard of the New Covenant or of the only name given under heaven or among men, whereby we must be saved? Knowledge is essential to a trial for life everlasting.
How about the other millions who have lived in so-called Christian lands, and have heard church bells ring and seen Bibles, and heard perhaps the preaching of clashing creeds--that we are saved by works and it matters not what is believed;--that we are saved not by works but by faith; that we are saved by both faith and works;--that we are saved by water baptism; --that it should be done by sprinkling;--that it should be by immersion;--that it is for the forgiveness of sins;--that it is not for the forgiveness of sins, but for induction into the elect Church;--that there is but one true Church, one Lord, one faith, one baptism;-- that the Roman Catholic Church is that one and all others false;--that the Lutheran is the one, and all others false;--that the Presbyterian is the one, and all others more or less in error;--that the Methodist church is the one, and all others confused. What shall we say of those who in all this din and confusion ("Babylon") do not believe, because they know not what to believe?
Shall we say that such have had a full, fair chance for eternal life; and that their failure to believe marks them as fit for the Second Death? No; we will rather hear the Word of the Lord on the subject. (1) The Apostle's declaration that "the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the glorious light of the goodness of God should shine into their hearts. (2) We will remember the promise of our Lord's Word, that times of refreshing and restitution shall come at his second advent (`Acts 3:19-21`), and that then Satan, who now blinds and deceives men, shall be "bound" and "deceive the nations no more"
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for the thousand years of our Redeemer's reign. (3) We will remember the promise through the prophet (`Isa. 29:18`; `35:5`; `42:7,16`) that in that Millennial day all the blind eyes shall be opened, and the light of truth made seven-fold clearer,--perfectly clear--so that the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, ocean deep (`Isa. 11:9`); and then all the families of the earth who have not had "ears to hear" during this age shall be blessed with a chance or trial for life under most favorable conditions, according to the blessed terms of the Abrahamic Covenant through the Seed of Abraham (Christ Jesus, the head, and the Church, the body).--`Gal. 3:16,29`; `1 Cor. 6:2`.
Let us remember that trial always precedes sentence. Adam was on trial for everlasting life: the
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result of his failure was the penalty, Adamic death, in which we all share. Adam and all of his race were bought back from that sentence by the great sin-offering which God accepted. As a result another "chance" or opportunity for trial for everlasting life comes to Adam and to his race. But since the race is no longer "in Adam" this trial must be an individual one. (See `Jer. 31:29-34`; `Ezek. 18:2-4`.) As a full, fair opportunity was necessary under the first trial in Eden, so now all must come to a clear knowledge of the conditions of life and death before he can be condemned or justified. This trial will be so complete that there would be no use for another, a third trial, and hence there is no provision for recovery from the Second Death.
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"WHY PERSECUTEST THOU ME?"
--MARCH 14.--`ACTS 9:1-12,17-20`.--
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."--`1 Tim. 1:15`.
SAUL'S transformation, from an enemy of Christ and his Church to a friend and zealous servant, is generally termed his conversion. In our opinion, however, the term "conversion" would scarcely be appropriate in such a case. Saul of Tarsus was either a bad man and a hypocritical Pharisee, a money-lover and self-lover, as were many, or else he was an Israelite indeed, whose aim and object was the service of God, and whose persecution of the early Church was prompted by his fidelity to God. We believe that the latter description is the one which fitted his case; it is in harmony with his own testimony on the subject: "I verily thought that I did God service." If then Saul was not only a member of the favored nation of Israel, but a true and loyal member of it, thoroughly consecrated to the Lord and serving him to the best of his knowledge and opportunity, but merely blinded for the time by prejudice and misconception, we can no more think of his case as a conversion than the cases of the other apostles. The Lord chose the original twelve because they were Israelites indeed; and he gave them the needed instruction for his service; and this he did also for Saul, though in a more striking manner. The word convert signifies to turn about in an opposite direction. But Saul was already going in the right direction; namely, in a whole hearted service of God, though his efforts were expended upon the wrong thing in the right direction. The Lord merely opened the eyes of his understanding and showed him the better how his efforts should be used. Saul needed no conversion and needed merely to be shown aright; and he proved this by as much fidelity and energy in the Lord's service afterward as he had ignorantly misused previously.
Saul was one of those Israelites who lived amongst the Gentiles, but who occasionally went up to Jerusalem to certain of the feasts. His home was in the city of Tarsus, one of the notable cities of that date--said to have been excelled in scholarship and fine arts by the cities of Alexandria and Athens only. He not only had the advantages of a home in such a city, but his family was one of the influential ones, as is implied in the fact that he was not only a citizen of Tarsus but also a citizen of Rome. In addition to the education of his home city he had received a special course in theology or Jewish Law at Jerusalem, under Gamaliel, one of the greatest teachers of that time. His early training, therefore, and all of its conditions were favorable to producing in him a breadth and refinement of thought equaled by few; and these conditions combined with his honesty of heart and his zeal for God, though not at first according to knowledge, fitted him to become just what the Lord subsequently made of him; namely, "A chosen vessel unto me to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings and the Children of Israel."-- `Acts 9:15`.
(`1`) It would appear that the circumstances connected with the stoning of Stephen only incited Saul to the greater energy in stamping out what he believed to be a very injurious doctrine--a heresy. Our own experience confirms the thought that an earnest, conscientious opponent is more to be respected than a cold, indifferent professed friend, and we are reminded of the Lord's words, "I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." Let us have respect, therefore, for all who are warm-hearted and zealous; remembering that there is more hope of their being pleasing to God, and being accounted worthy to receive the truth, than for the lukewarm.
(`2`) The Jewish priesthood was granted and exercised considerable power under the arrangements of the Roman government. It had come to exercise very much of the power subsequently used by the Popes of Rome. They had power to authorize arrests and imprisonments for the infractions of their religious rules and regulations. Saul, exercising the same respect to law and authority that subsequently marked all of his dealings and teachings as a Christian, did not attempt to take matters into his own hands in the persecution of the Christians, but went about it in the manner recognized as legal--under the sanction and authority of the highest religious tribunal. Let us remember that nearly
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all persecutions have been sanctioned by some human law, and regulate ourselves under the divine code.
(`3-9`) The account here given of the opening of the eyes of Saul's understanding is that of Luke, and was doubtless received directly from the Apostle Paul himself--with whom he traveled for a time. Two other accounts are given by the Apostle Paul himself. (See `Acts 22:6-11`; `26:12-20`.) The three accounts are in practical agreement, and show only such variations as might reasonably be expected, considering the fact that they were delivered under different conditions; as it was sought to emphasize or elaborate different points. Had the three accounts been exactly alike, word for word, there would have been just ground for supposing a special preparation of the text with this harmony in view. Even the seeming discrepancy of the account, when rightly seen, are additional evidences of the truthfulness of all. The account itself being simple, we need give attention only to those points which apparently conflict. All three accounts say that Saul himself heard the voice, saw the light and fell to the ground. One of the accounts adds that all with him fell to the earth as well. The account in our lesson tells that the men of his company "stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man." Another account says, "They beheld indeed the light, but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me." These accounts can be harmonized in this way: Saul himself was evidently the center of manifestation--"a great light shone round me." His companions doubtless saw something of this light in a general way, but they did not see the source of the light; they did not see the glorious body of our Lord Jesus--"seeing no man." Saul, however, saw the glorious body of our Lord Jesus, as he himself subsequently testified, "last of all he [Jesus] was seen of me also." Although none but Saul was smitten to the ground, the others who stood speechless and terrorstricken no doubt soon kneeled reverently about their leader. Respecting the voice--Saul and all that were with him heard a sound, "the voice," but only Saul could distinguish the words--which were meant for him alone. A similar case is recorded in `John 12:28,29`, where it is stated that our Lord Jesus heard a voice from heaven, saying, "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." But the people that stood by and heard the voice understood not the words, but said that "it thundered." Saul and all of his company in one sense of the word heard the sound or voice, but in another sense of the word he alone heard the voice. We use this same form of expression in our daily conversation to day. If some one speaks to us in a low or indistinct voice, we say that we did not hear --we mean that although we heard the voice we did not understand or comprehend it.
The feelings of Saul, as he heard from the Lord of glory a reproof of his misdirected zeal, can be better imagined than described. Nevertheless, we can but admire the promptness with which he at once laid down the arms of his opposition, and placed himself on the side of the one whose cause he had so recently persecuted. We can imagine him praying, Lord, teach me! In my blindness and ignorance I have been fighting against thee, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Messiah; while "I verily thought I did God service." Having made such a great mistake I
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am thoroughly humbled, I can no longer trust to my own wisdom nor to the wisdom of those in whom I have heretofore confided;--the chief priests, the scribes and Pharisees. Now Lord, I come to thee: Show me how I can undo some of the great wrong I have done ignorantly: show me, and I will be glad to promptly follow and obey.
How deep a hold the matter took upon the mind of Saul may be judged from the fact that he neither ate nor drank for three days. He could not think lightly of his own blinded course. Deep contrition is always a good evidence of genuine repentance of wrong. No doubt his thoughts were busy, and, well educated in the Law and in the Prophets, and familiar with what he had learned concerning the Nazarene and his teachings, we may reasonably suppose that those three days of blindness and fasting were days of prayer and reflection, in which he diligently compared the testimony of the Law and the Prophets with what he knew of the Nazarene and his teachings. His natural sight had been destroyed, but his mental vision had been opened, and he now saw matters in a new and wonderful light.
(`10-17`) The name Ananias in a previous lesson was associated with ungodliness and falsehood, but here we find another Ananias of a totally different character --a true servant of the Lord. His hesitation (`vs. 13-16`) does not seem to have been caused by opposition, nor faithlessness, but rather a reasonable caution. He had heard of Saul and possibly also knew Saul's host to be an enemy of the cause of Christ, and therefore wanted to assure himself that he was not misunderstanding the Lord. The Lord very graciously made the matter clear to him, as he always does to his faithful ones, and Ananias promptly fulfilled his mission. Here again is an illustration of divine methods: The Lord sent upon this important errand one who apparently was a very humble member of the Church. He did not send Peter and John and James the apostles from Jerusalem with great pomp and show to receive the penitent enemy of the cross and to make a public triumph, but used an instrument ready and willing that was nearby. This should be a lesson to us that the Lord is both able and willing to use in his service
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the humble ones who are ready and waiting--
"Emptied, that he might fill them, as forth to his service they go; Emptied, that so unhindered his life through them might flow."
(`18-20`) The scales which fell from the eyes of Saul would seem to indicate that a certain portion of the eye had been thoroughly destroyed by the great light; and the healing may be said to have been in a natural way by the removal of the injured cornea. Although informed that he received his sight, we are not informed that his eyes were made whole. Indeed, it seems very evident, from subsequent statements, that to his dying day his eyes never recovered their soundness and his sight was never again normal. It has been surmised, and we think with good reason, that the continued weakness of his eyes constituted what he terms "a thorn in the flesh." Although under the power of the holy spirit he was granted many gifts of the spirit, amongst others the gift of healing, and although he exercised this gift of healing upon many (see `Acts 19:11,12`), yet the Lord did not relieve him from his own weakness in this respect. This must have been all the greater trial; it would seem all the more strange that he who could heal others could not heal himself; that he who had divine power for the blessing of others in this way, should not have the divine power for his own blessing. Our Lord's answer to his petition was, "My grace is sufficient for thee, my strength is made perfect in weakness." The noble Apostle exclaims, Therefore most gladly will I suffer, if thereby the grace of God toward me shall be the greater: and thereafter he never requested the removal of this "thorn." Several incidents in his experience confirm this conclusion. (1) Although an educated man, he seldom wrote his own letters; and of the one letter which he did write, although one of the briefest, he remarks (`Gal. 6:11`), "Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with my own hand." The Greek would even give the thought that these words apologize for the use of very large characters in the writing,--such as a semi-blind person would use; (2) the Apostle comes down to us in history as "the bleared-eye Jew;" (3) when standing before the tribunal of the chief captain he declares that he did not know Ananias as the high priest; whereas, if his eyesight had been good, he could not have well helped knowing him, on account of his gorgeous apparel (`Acts 23:5`); (4) in writing to the `Galatians he tells them (4:15`) that, when he first met them, their love and sympathy for him were such that they would willingly have plucked out their own eyes for him--an expression which would be meaningless, unless his eyes were defective.
After a few days to gain strength from his fasting and the nervous excitement incidental to his experiences, days of communion with those whom he had come to persecute, and whom now in his renewed condition of mind he recognized and fellowshiped as dear brethren, he promptly began to preach Christ as the Son of God--publicly using the opportunities afforded in the Jewish Synagogues.
Those who think of the Apostle Paul's experiences as on a par with the conversion of sinners greatly err. Such conduct as is here related is not the conduct of sinners, enemies of God. The account of the Apostle's enlightenment in the gospel is the account of a most noble character which commends the respect of every class in every time. And we are inclined to regard the Apostle Paul as in some sense of the word a figure, or likeness, or type of his race--Israel--and the opening of their eyes now shortly due to take place. Amongst the Jews are many who seem to be Israelites indeed, merely blinded, as the prophet and the apostle have described. (`Rom. 11:7-12`.) That nation whose blinding took place in the fifth (1,000 year) day, and which has been blinded throughout the sixth (1,000-year day), is to have its eyes opened on the third day, which will be the seventh (1,000 year) day--the Millennial Day. Israel also has been without food or drink of a spiritual kind during all this time. Israel also is to be a chosen vessel in the Lord's hand as connected with the earthly agencies in bearing the message which shall bless the Gentiles and all the families of the earth. We are near to the time for the opening of Israel's eyes. When the time shall have fully come, the Lord will send some Ananias whose touch and blessing under divine favor shall bring sight. The name Ananias signifies, "Jah is gracious."
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CHRISTIAN LIBERTY AND SELF-RESTRAINT.
--March 21.--`1 Cor. 9:19-27`.--
"Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things."--`1 Cor. 9:25`.
DOUBTLESS it was in great measure because of his breadth of learning, as well as the result of his deep consecration, and hence his nearness to the Lord and fellowship in the divine plan, that the Apostle Paul was enabled to grasp the conditions of the New Covenant and the Gospel dispensation more quickly than did the other apostles. Although the Apostle Peter took as broad a view as others of the original twelve, and although in addition the Lord gave him the vision to indicate that the Gentiles were no longer
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to be considered unclean by the Jews, and sent him direct to preach the Gospel to Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, and although he witnessed the gifts of the holy spirit communicated to him, yet the Apostle Paul seems to have grasped the whole situation much more comprehensively than did even Peter; so that when Peter was confused on this subject, and stumbling, Paul was both able and willing to help him to clearer views. (`Gal. 2:14`.) It was Paul who first saw "that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit"; and that amongst those who have come under the new order of things there is no distinction of Jews and Gentiles, male and female, bond or free, because they are all one in Christ Jesus. It was Paul who recognized the fact that those who had accepted Christ were entirely free from the Law of Moses; that to them Moses was dead and they were married to another, even Christ, and were under his law;--the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus which made Israelites free from the law of sin and death.--`Rom. 7:4,6`.
(`19-23`) But though realizing his liberties in Christ, his freedom from all bondage, as of holy days, new moons, sabbaths, meats, etc. (`Col. 2:16`; `Rom. 14:5`), the Apostle was not anxious to use his liberty except as between the Lord and himself, and such of the brethren as could appreciate the matter. Those who were weak and bounden by laws and ceremonies and human traditions received from the elders, found in the Apostle one who did not seek to triumph over them by boasting of his liberty and their bondage. On the contrary, if they were in bondage to the Law he waived for the time his own liberties that he might thereby through sympathy and patience help them to the same liberty which he enjoyed at heart. And so we find him advising and urging others. He said:--
You find yourselves free from the law and those restraints which are upon your brethren, the Jews, you now say they are no longer bondages to you. You are thus greatly relieved: nevertheless, use not your
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liberties for an occasion of the flesh. You may know that an idol is nothing, and that meat offered to an idol (the custom amongst Gentiles) is not thereby injured, and you may feel perfectly free to eat that meat; but if a brother is with you who does not yet realize this freedom and see matters from this loftier standpoint, do not put a barrier between your heart and his by using your liberties, but rather for his sake avoid the use of that liberty that you may have the greater influence with him and bring him to appreciate the still greater liberties which are ours through Christ.
The blessings of the Kingdom of God are not merely these liberties to eat what we please without condemnation, and to be without restraint from fast days, new moons and sabbaths! No, no; the liberties which we have as the incipient Kingdom of God are far better than these, though they include these. The more important things are the freedom from sin, the communion and fellowship with the Lord, and the prospect of a glorious inheritance in the future. Righteousness, peace, joy in the holy spirit, these are the fruits of our new relationship to Christ which are to be specially enjoyed, and in comparison to which our liberty to eat and not to eat what we please and to observe such holy days as we may please are insignificant. --`Rom. 14:17-20`.
This is the Apostle's meaning in this lesson. He did not mean that he dissembled or deceived or pretended to be a Jew, etc., but that having and realizing his liberties, he did not always choose to exercise his liberties in Christ if he found better opportunities for usefulness by simply neglecting to claim or use liberty. Principles may never be abandoned for any consideration; but liberties and personal rights may be ignored in the interest of others, frequently and to divine pleasing; the Apostle was ready to go any length in defense of principle, and could not be budged an inch (`Gal. 2:5,11`); but in the sacrifice of his earthly rights and privileges and liberties for the sake of Christ and his Church, the Apostle evidently came next to our Lord Jesus, and is a noble example to all the Church, as shown in this lesson.
An illustration of such a proper ignoring of liberties without abandonment of principle is found in connection with Sunday observance. To our understanding Sunday, the first day of the week, is in no sense of the word the Sabbath Day that was commanded to the Jews,--which was the seventh day. The Christian is not commanded by the Bible to keep any particular day, in any particular manner different from other days; but by his covenant with God he is to keep every day holy unto the Lord. He has no more right to do wrong on one day than on another. His rest in Christ under the New Covenant is not the physical rest of the Jew under the Law Covenant. It is higher: it is a rest of faith that brings joy and refreshment; not only physical, but mental and spiritual.
This rest is not merely for one day in the week; the true Christian is to rest in Christ, and have joy and peace in believing every day. Instead, therefore, of having a seventh day rest in each week the Christian has seven days of rest in each week--a rest and a peace which the world can neither give nor take away.
Not by divine appointment but of their own volition the early Church began to keep as a day of special gathering together the first day of the week, as a Memorial of our Lord's resurrection from the dead, and the new life and new joy which began with that day. For a time they continued to observe also the seventh day, until they learned through the apostles' instructions that they were dead to the Jewish law and had become "new creatures" in Christ under the law of the spirit of life,--which has but one commandment and that an all comprehensive one,--Love.
The majority of Christians to-day seem to have drifted away in part from the liberties and appreciations of the New Covenant and to be attempting to mix the Jewish Covenant with the Christian Covenant, the Jewish law of ten commandments with the Christian law of one commandment--love. Accordingly Sunday, the first day of the week, is by many regarded as the Sabbath day of the Jews; and they mentally attach to it all the requirements of the Jewish law, and yet they continually feel a heart-condemnation in respect to it, as did the Jews, because they rarely or never live up to the requirements of the Law for that day. The law demanded that no work of any kind should be done by parents, children, servants or cattle; and as exemplifying
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the rigor of that law there is a record in the Scriptures that a man was stoned to death because he gathered sticks for a fire on the Sabbath day. By reason of this false conception that the first day is the Sabbath day or that somehow or other (they know not how or when or where) the authorities and ordinances respecting the Jewish Sabbath Day were transferred to Sunday, the first day, many are continually under condemnation to conscience--a consciousness of sin.
With some of those who learn the truth on this subject there is a combative disposition which leads them to wish to display their liberties by doing on the first day of the week that which their fellow Christians regard as improper--sinful. Such a combative spirit is a sign that the spirit of Christ is not dwelling richly within--that more knowledge has reached the individual than he has been able to wisely use. It indicates that such have need to grow in grace, in love, proportionately as they grow in knowledge.
The Apostle's declaration, in the lesson before us, is an illustration of the right spirit concerning every such question. If our neighbors meet in worship on the first day of the week, because they believe it to be the command of God, our liberty can be just as fully exercised meeting on the same day; not from a sense of obligation, not under law, but in the full enjoyment of the liberty wherewith Christ makes free. Indeed, we can enjoy the day very much more when we realize it as a liberty and privilege rather than as a duty and command. Yet there are trifling liberties which we should yield; for instance, our neighbor, thinking that he is under the Jewish law, might consider the driving of a tack to be a violation of the day of rest. We who know that we are not under the law but under grace, realize that no sin would be committed in driving a tack; but nevertheless we can well and properly set aside our liberties in that matter and conform and cooperate in the maintenance of the peace and quiet of the day. Indeed, we realize that the mistake of our friends is in many respects a blessing and a mercy to us. For if many appreciated the matter as we do, as a liberty and privilege and not as a law of God, quite probably a majority would pay no respect whatever to the day, and very soon it might be as other days. We are very glad, therefore, that a day for rest and quiet and study and meditation on holy things is set aside by the laws of the land in which we live. But even if we saw no reason whatever for observing the day, the fact of its legal secular appointment is a sufficient ground for abstinence from earthly labors. But on the contrary we see the wisdom of having a day for special fellowship in spiritual things and the day adopted by early Christians is eminently proper. The opening day of a new week symbolizes our new rest, new hopes and new life--all of which spring from the resurrection of our Lord.
We advise those who are seeking to walk in the "narrow way" to follow the Apostle's counsel and example closely, and while realizing themselves free in Christ to make themselves servants unto all--"doing good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith."
The Apostle was not moved to this abrogation of his own liberties from any selfish motives, but by his love of the gospel and his desire to supply to others its blessed healing balm, which had come to his own spirit. Wherever the spirit of Christ is, this spirit is received; and if developed it will manifest itself sooner or later by this disposition of self-negation in the interest of other--especially in spiritual interests and affairs.
(`24-27`) The Apostle would have us see that while we are granted liberties in Christ, nevertheless the essence of Christian teaching is to deny ourselves the use of those very liberties. As slaves of sin we were set free in order that we might become the voluntary bond-servants of righteousness--serving with self-sacrifice "even unto death." The Jews, as a house of servants under Moses, were bound as servants by rigorous laws, the meaning and object of which were not even explained to them. But the house of sons, of which Christ is the Head, is left free from any law, except the one--to love God with every power of being and our neighbor as ourself. But this very liberty, which is granted to us on the one hand, is the greater trial on the other hand. It leaves with us each the responsibility of proving our love to God and to his cause and to his people, and our sympathy for the world, by the extent to which we are willing to abandon our liberties for these--as their servants.
The Apostle illustrates this by the Olympic games of his day, prominent amongst which was foot-racing. Racers were set free to run, so we as Christians are set free from the law that we may run our race and win the great prize; but he that complies with certain recognized conditions, and "so runs," shall be crowned an overcomer.
Consecrated Christians have entered the lists, to run the great race for the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus--the prize of joint-heirship with him in the kingdom of glory, to be established at his second coming. We start on our race course not aimlessly, not hopelessly, not simply for the sake of denying ourselves, not to do penance for sins, nor simply for the sake of developing character; but the Lord has graciously arranged the matter so that we will have a grand and noble incentive to self-denial. The prize at
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the end of the race is his "Well done, good and faithful servant;" and to the faithful little flock "the crown of life" and the glory of the Kingdom. Therefore we are not running uncertainly, doubtfully, not knowing what the prize will be, for we are instructed by the Lord's own words.
The Apostle points out in this connection that if we hope to be overcomers and approved of the Lord we must be moderate, temperate, self-denying in all things. This he emphasizes in verse twenty-seven. It is not only necessary that our whole being should be consecrated to the Lord at the beginning of the race, but it continues necessary all along the way, that it shall be continually subject to the new mind, the mind of Christ, which is to dwell in us richly and abound. Otherwise, if we allow the old, fallen nature to rise up and hinder the new mind, the mind of Christ in us--if we permit the will of the flesh thus to come into control again, we may count the race as ignominiously terminated and ourselves as "castaways;" because the mind of the flesh leads to death, but the mind of the new spirit of life in Christ, by which we are begotten through the Word of truth, leads to life everlasting, and through faithfulness to eternal glory.