ZWT - 1916 - R5821 thru R6024 / R5889 (129) - May 1, 1916
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VOL. XXXVII. MAY 1 NO. 9
A. D. 1916--A.M. 6044
The Christian's Warfare Against Pride . 131
Mental Strongholds to Be Cast Down . 131
Pride Leads to Mental Unbalance . . 131
"Jesus Died and Paid It All" . . . 133
Legal Phase of Ransoming Work . . 133
The Cripple at Lystra . . . . . 134
Memorial Supper Reports . . . . . 136
The Counsel at Jerusalem . . . . 137
Necessity for These Restrictions . 137
Liberty is Not License . . . . 138
Faith Demonstrated by Works . . . . 139
Faith Distinguished From Credulity . 139
Preaching the Gospel a Necessity . . 140
Many Ways of Preaching the Gospel . 140
"Your Brethren That Hated You" . . . 141
Requests for Pilgrim Visits . . . . 141
Some Faithful Witnesses . . . . . 142
Some Letters on the Subject . . . 142
"How Wonderful!" (Poem) . . . . . 143
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SCRIPTURE STUDIES AND SCENARIOS--VARIOUS
For the information of our readers we give below a list of the languages into which the various volumes of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES have been translated. Most of these can be supplied from the head office at Brooklyn.
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THE CHRISTIAN'S WARFARE AGAINST PRIDE
"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."--`2 Corinthians 10:4,5`.
SOLDIERS of the Cross are of a different kind and are differently armed from the soldiers of the world. Ours is a fight against the spirit of the world and against the flesh. It is the fight not only against the imperfections that came into our flesh through our forefather's disobedience, but against the natural opposition of the flesh to sacrifice. The flesh instinctively struggles to avoid sacrifice. Moreover, our fight is against unseen spiritual foes. The world have their swords and their guns as weapons of warfare. And the Lord has provided us an armor; namely, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, the Sword of the Spirit, and the sandals of "the preparation of the Gospel of Peace." These are all weapons of defense, except the Sword. The Sword is an aggressive weapon.--`Ephesians 6:11-18`.
In the case of the Christian, "the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God," is to be handled to accomplish good, to be used in opposition to Satan and sin. But the thought of this Scripture seems to be, not that we are commissioned to fight the world, but that we are to strive to be loyal to the Lord, to fight sin in ourselves and wherever it might properly be under our jurisdiction, and to repel the attacks of the Adversary. The exercise of our powers in bringing self into subjection means a great deal in the way of sacrifice, much in the way of battling. God has given us "exceeding great and precious promises." The New Creature is made strong by these promises--strong in proportion as he perceives the significance of these promises, and feeds upon them.
MENTAL STRONGHOLDS TO BE CAST DOWN
The Apostle is pointing out that these strongholds which we are to pull down are in ourselves. Sin is entrenched in our minds, in our imaginations. Pride, selfishness and various other kinds of sin, are entrenched in us through the long centuries of the downward tendencies of our race. These things have dug deep trenches in our system; they are firmly fastened there. But, urges St. Paul, "Let not sin have dominion over your mortal body." Destroy the stronghold. Bring your entire being into subjection to the will of God.
By way of pointing out what these strongholds are-- that they are mental strongholds--the Apostle says, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth." Our imaginations may be of many kinds. We may be beset by false doctrines and superstitions that have come down to us from past ages. The Word of the Lord is the only thing that can effectually cast these down and make us see God's real character, make us see His glorious promises to the Church now and to the world in the future. The Word of the Lord is the only thing that will cast down imaginations--ignorance, superstition, pride, unholy ambitions, idle speculations, and every form of thought that would lead us astray and hinder the work of grace in our hearts and minds. These imaginations of the natural mind exalt themselves against the true knowledge of God, the Spirit of God--"high things," the Apostle calls them.
We are to "mind not high things." The Apostle does not mean that we are not to mind the high things that are spiritual; for in another place he says, "Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." (`Colossians 3:2`.) In other words, Set your affections on the very highest things. But the "high things" of the world are very different; they exalt themselves against the things which are truly high, which are of God. The Lord's children are to be humble, not high-minded, not to be carried away by the empty honors, projects and ambitions of earth. The desire to have a place among men, to shine in society, to have wealth and influence, to have whatever things would bring us into high esteem amongst mankind, is a temptation that the disciple of Christ must guard against.
It has been noted by those who have the care of the mentally defective that a great deal of difficulty lies in the imagination. It is said that if one visits an insane asylum, he will find one here who thinks he is a king; there another, who imagines that she is a queen; another who imagines he is fabulously rich and could draw checks for millions. The organ of self-esteem has been too large. The Lord only knows how much the individual himself has had to do in cultivating this tendency. But he has always more or less to do with the matter; the high imaginations and the desire to be great obtain dominion over him--get the mastery.
PRIDE LEADS TO MENTAL UNBALANCE
The same thing applies to Christians. After coming into the Church of Christ, they are still liable to the ambition to become some great one, to do some great thing, to find or promulgate some great doctrine, to discover
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some new interpretation of Scripture or some new type. All these are "high things that exalt." Our Lord gave a discourse upon this subject, telling us that when we are invited to a feast, we should not take a high seat, but a low seat--and perhaps afterward we might be exalted. To desire these things and to seek for them is to have "strongholds" of pride and unholy ambition in the imagination, aspirations for exaltation and honor. Then comes the thought that we are great, that we are worthy of attention, of special notice. Mental unbalance is there. The fact is that we are all insignificant, of very little importance in the execution of the Lord's Plan.
The Lord could have done all His great work without us and our cooperation, probably more easily than with us. But He very graciously permits us to have a part in His work, for our own good and blessing. He is dealing
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with us as children and is training us. Having begotten us of His Holy Spirit, He helps us to overcome our weaknesses and rewards us if we do overcome them. He drills and disciplines us to fit us for a noble and glorious future. A part of this drilling as soldiers of the King of kings is our fight against self-esteem and a desire for great things, high things, according to the standards of this "present evil world."
"BRINGING INTO CAPTIVITY EVERY THOUGHT"
The thought of casting down unholy and unprofitable imaginations is also borne out in the final words of our text, that we are to "bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Whatever we do we have first thought about. We sometimes say, "I acted before I thought." What we mean is that we acted before we gave the matter serious thought. No thought should be harbored in our minds which is not in full harmony with the Word of God. As Christ was obedient to the Father in everything--saying, "Let not My will, but Thine, be done"--so every one of us should bring our thoughts into obedience to Christ. Our Redeemer is our Exemplar.
All the members of Christ's Body must have the same mind that was in Christ, must manifest the spirit of our Master. "Let us humble ourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us in due time." (`1 Peter 5:6`.) No one can wholly follow the Lord without much of the spirit of humility, without bringing his thoughts into subjection to the Lord. This is not the time to exalt ourselves and to show how we can shine. But we are to "show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light" (`1 Peter 2:9`), who has called us with this Heavenly Calling, not for our own sakes merely, but for His own glory and the blessing of others. God's glory is to be our chief concern always. We are to be efficient servants of the Lord, through His grace, not of our own strength. If we are to be great in the end, we must be humble, we must gladly be servants of all now. We must be glad to serve, not only when there is honor attached, but when the service is unnoticed or unknown.
God has arranged for our learning certain lessons of self-control, bringing ourselves into full obedience to God in a voluntary way, with a view to our being His representatives by and by, and of then enforcing obedience to God's requirements on the part of the world. It is a generally accepted principle that no one is qualified to rule others who has not himself learned obedience. At the cost of great suffering, our Lord Jesus learned what obedience means. He promptly and fully submitted Himself to God. This Spirit of Christ is to be manifested and developed in us, that we shall thus be ready for the future work of The Christ, the work of the Millennial Age.
In proportion as the Truth is received and assimilated, it brings to us the spirit of a sound mind. It does not bring us perfect soundness of brain; but where rightly received, it brings meekness, teachableness, thoughtfulness, seriousness. It leads us to take careful heed to the instructions of our Heavenly Guide. It thus gives balance to the judgment, greater than we had ever before known. This should increase as we go on in the good way and become disciplined soldiers in the army of the Lord. But if the Truth is not received in the spirit of the Truth, in the love of it, it might not only fail to be of any benefit, but might engender a spirit of pride and boastfulness.
This quality of pride seems to be particularly associated with all kinds of insanity. Many of the inmates of insane asylums are affected with a large degree of self-esteem--thinking of themselves more highly than they ought to think. Their minds are unbalanced in that direction to a notable degree. We cannot be too careful to cultivate nearness to the Lord, which always brings humility and a proper realization of our own unworthiness and littleness before Him.
KEEPING CLOSE TO CHRIST OUR ONLY SAFETY
Satan is especially alert to trap the Lord's children in this "evil day." We might give an illustration which we have used before, but which seems well to picture wherein lies our special danger and our entire safety. Suppose we should consider a large circle, with Christ as the Center of that circle. Suppose the circle contained an abundance of space, so that there might be varying degrees of closeness to the Lord. Let the outer edge of that circle represent the utmost limit of God's care over His children. Any one, then, nearing the outside line would be coming more and more into a place of danger. We believe that in proportion as any of us live close to the great Center of the circle--our Lord Jesus--we are safe. In proportion as we fail to do this, and allow ourselves to drift or to wander away from Him, we shall be getting near the danger point, and are amenable to the evil influences from outside. Should we wander entirely over the outer line, our case would be beyond recovery.
The Lord has in a way put around the human race a barrier against danger. This barrier is, largely, man's will. Those who have given up their wills, their minds, to the Lord, to have His will done in them, are particularly liable to severe and subtle attacks of the Adversary. He especially seeks to delude and entrap the true children of the Lord, thus again to bring them into bondage to sin. Upon such as come under his influence, the delusion is gradual.
We are all born with unsound minds. As to the degree of unsoundness we need not quarrel. The armament which the Lord gives us is not merely a knowledge of how to quote Scripture. Neither is it merely to have the ability to dispute and to debate, though that ability is very good in its place. The real thing that God is looking for is in our hearts. He is not looking to see how much you know; for He could pump a good deal of knowledge into you in a few minutes if He so desired. But the Lord is looking to see to what extent you are meek, patient, fully submitted to His will. Let us have more and more of the Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of a sound mind, and the earnest desire to help one another.
"The Lord shall judge His people." (`Hebrews 10:30`.) If they get into trouble through not being sufficiently watchful, the Lord will give them some experiences which will be good for them, if rightly received. Let us remember the warning words of the Apostle Paul: "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged"
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of the Lord. (`1 Corinthians 11:31`.) This means that when we neglect to judge ourselves, He has to do it for us. Then we are being chastened with a view to our correction, that we might attain unto the Heavenly reward and favor that is to be ours as New Creatures in Christ, if we remain humble and faithful unto death. If we continue to be meek and filled with the spirit of humility, not craving present honors and exaltation, but willing in perfect patience to await the Lord's own good time, our exaltation will come; and we shall share our Savior's Throne and His glory forevermore.
"O blows that smite, O wounds that pierce
This shrinking heart of mine!
What are ye but the Master's tools,
Performing work Divine!
How blest that all these seeming ills
That draw my heart to thee
Are each a proof that Thou hast set
Thy seal of love on me!"
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"JESUS DIED AND PAID IT ALL"
THE Ransom of our race by our Savior is a matter of deep interest to the Lord's people, and one which apparently is very difficult to understand clearly. We view the subject from different standpoints. All see the same thing, but all do not see the details.
God might have told us that He had arranged a way by which Justice and the dignity of His Court of the Universe could be upheld and man nevertheless be released from the sentence of death imposed upon him six thousand years ago. There was no need of His telling us anything about the Ransom. It would have been sufficient for us that God should have told us that He had attended to the matter properly. But instead, God reasons with us in the Scriptures, and there explains the process of His Government by which He could be just and yet be the Justifier of sinners. This process which God had all to do with and man had nothing to do with is Scripturally styled the Ransom--the giving of the perfect life of Jesus to be the full, complete offset for the forfeited life of Adam, the father of our race.
From this viewpoint, if one went no further into the matter, one might say, "Jesus has died and the world has been ransomed"--just as the Scriptures speak of Jesus, even while He was in the flesh, as being the Messiah, the King of Glory. Even when He was a babe the angels sang, "Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ [Messiah] the Lord." Their statements included not only the babe and what had already been accomplished in His birth, but all the great work which He would do in the future. As a matter of fact, the babe was merely called a Savior because He would in the future save His people from their sins. The babe
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was merely called the Anointed--Messiah--because it was foreseen of God that He would make a consecration at Jordan, be begotten and anointed of the Holy Spirit, finish His work of sacrifice and be exalted to Heavenly glory, not only, during this Age, for the Church which is His Body, but also for the willing and obedient of the world of mankind during the Millennium. Thus we see that the babe was not the Savior except in the prophetic sense that He was to be the Savior. He was not King except in the sense that He was born and came into the world to that end. He was not the Deliverer then, nor has He even yet delivered all His Church; whereas, after the deliverance of the Church, comes the deliverance of the world from the reign of Sin and Death.
Similarly the word ransom may be, and often is, used by us all in a prophetic sense--as including the entire work of Redemption down to the very end of the Millennial Age; as we read, "I will ransom [deliver by a ransom] them from the grave."--`Hosea 13:14`.
LEGAL PHASE OF RANSOMING WORK
But as we come close to these various questions and analyze them, we see new beauties, new divisions of matters, which at first seem to be indivisible. We see, for instance, that the first step toward ransoming the world was taken when the Logos left the glory which He had with the Father and humbled Himself to become the Man Jesus. The first feature in the ransoming work was our Master's consecration of Himself at Jordan, followed by His life of devotion even unto death. The completion of His sacrifice was the completion of the Ransom-price, but it was not the completion of the Ransom-work. Indeed, the Ransom-work could not even begin until the Ransom-price had been provided--not paid.
We sometimes have spoken of Jesus as having paid the Ransom when He died, but such expression was not accurate. The price of obedience to the Father's will was death, and our Lord's death constitutes the price. In one sense Jesus paid it when He surrendered His life; but in another and more accurate sense, He did not pay it, but merely placed it in the hands of the Father as the price to be appropriated, or made applicable later.
The Ransom-price has been in the hands of Divine Justice--in the Father's hands--ever since Jesus died, but only as a deposit, because the time had not come for it to be paid over officially. If the Divine Plan had been for Jesus to take possession of the world and to set up His Kingdom at Pentecost, then it would have been proper for Him to have paid over to the Father the Ransom-price fully and completely--appropriating it as the offset to Father Adam's sin and sentence on behalf of all his race. But had that price been formally paid over, the proper and logical thing would have been for the Father to put the whole world immediately into the hands of Jesus, and for the Millennial Reign to begin.
RANSOM-PRICE DEPOSITED WITH DIVINE JUSTICE
There was, however, another feature to the Divine Plan: God did not wish to turn over the Kingdom to Jesus until the great Seventh Day, the Millennium. He did wish that during the intervening more than eighteen centuries a Church class should be called out from amongst the world, to be the Bride and Joint-heir of His Son in the Kingdom. Hence the Ransom-price for the sins of the whole world was merely left unappropriated, while Jesus dealt with the Church.
And since the Father's Plan for the Church was that they should sacrifice or surrender their earthly interests and receive, instead, Heavenly interests and the Divine nature, therefore it was not necessary to give the Church Restitution--the thing which the Ransom-price will secure for the world of mankind. Hence, instead of giving the Church a direct share in the Ransom-price, which would mean Restitution, the Lord's provision for them is different; namely, an imputation of merit covering their blemishes, so that they might present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
All, therefore, that Jesus has done with the Ransom-price is to impute a share of that price as covering the shortcomings of those who desire to become His disciples and joint-heirs. He has not appropriated it to them actually, as in Restitution, but by imputation--justifying
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them from all sin, and thus permitting them to be accepted of the Father as members of the House of Sons, by the begetting of the Holy Spirit.
And how beautiful is the thought that, when shortly our Lord will pay over the Ransom-price for the sins of the whole world, and have the world immediately turned over to Him for Restitution work, the Church will be with Him in glory sharing His honor and His Throne, as now they share in His sufferings and His ignominy!
PRACTICAL PHASE OF RANSOMING WORK
When the Ransom-price shall then have been given to justice in exchange for the world of mankind, and when the purchased world of mankind shall have been turned over to the Purchaser, the legal phase of the Ransoming work of Jesus and the satisfaction of Justice in the release of mankind from the penalty of death will be complete. Then, however, another part of the ransoming will begin and will operate; namely, the giving of the benefits of the ransom to Adam and his family. This phase of the Ransom-work will continue for the thousand years of Messiah's Kingdom, bringing Restitution to man and his earthly home--to all the willing and obedient of Adam's race--the unwilling being destroyed in the Second Death.
Then the Ransomer will have completed His work of ransoming the human family in its two phases: First, its legal phase, the satisfaction of Divine Justice by the giving of a life for a life; second, its practical phase, the restoring or recovering or delivering of the redeemed from the bondage of Sin and Death to the liberty of the sons of God.--`Romans 8:21`.
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THE CRIPPLE AT LYSTRA
--MAY 21.--`ACTS 14:8-20`.--
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF--ST. PAUL AND BARNABAS PERSECUTED-- SLANDERED AND MALTREATED BY PROFESSEDLY RELIGIOUS LEADERS--A NOTABLE MIRACLE--HONESTY REWARDED WITH STONES--HOMEWARD BOUND--VISITING THE CITIES WHERE THEY HAD BEEN PERSECUTED-- TRIBULATION NECESSARY FOR PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS.
"He giveth power to the faint; and to him that hath no might He increaseth strength."--`Isaiah 40:29`.
LEAVING Antioch of Pisidia, St. Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium, about one hundred miles distant. There also they preached the Word faithfully; and there also opposition was aroused and persecution threatened. The record is that "when there was an assault made, both of the Gentiles and also of the Jews, with their rulers, to use them despitefully and to stone them, they were aware of it, and fled unto Lystra." They did not permit fear to hinder them from preaching the Gospel with courage, neither did they fear threats; but when the persecution took a positive form, they fled. In so doing, they were following the Lord's instructions. He did not say, "Be fearful of persecution, withhold your Message and put your light under a bushel"; but He said the very reverse. Nor did He say, "Be fearful, and flee when there is no danger." On the contrary He said, "When they persecute you in one city, flee ye to another."
Arriving at Lystra, they began afresh to preach the Gospel, as courageously as though there had been no previous opposition. Amongst the auditors was a cripple, presumably a Jew or a proselyte, who manifested much interest in the Apostle's words. Perceiving that the man had faith, St. Paul stopped in his sermon and called out to him, "Stand upright on thy feet!" This was a thing that the man had never before done; but he had the necessary faith and obeyed the Apostle's command. Thus a miracle resulted, evidently to the astonishment of the entire congregation. The effect upon the people was electrical; and they shouted in their own dialect, "The gods have come down to visit us!"
The city of Lystra figured as the scene of a mythological event. The tradition was that Jupiter and Mercury, two of the gods of mythology, had once come to Lystra in the form of men, and had been refused lodgings everywhere until they came to the lowly hut of a poor man, who entertained them to the best of his ability. The gods rewarded him by turning his hut into a gorgeous temple, and punished the remainder of the citizens with a flood. This tradition was very old, and was perpetuated by a statue of Jupiter at the city's gate as its protecting god.
It is easy to discern how a comparatively ignorant and superstitious people might jump to the conclusion that the visit of St. Paul and Barnabas was a repetition of this visit of Jupiter and Mercury, handed down to them through tradition. St. Paul they called Mercury, because in their tradition Mercury was the orator, the speaker; and Barnabas they called Jupiter. Forthwith the priest of Jupiter prepared to offer a sacrifice of oxen before the statue of Jupiter at their city gate, in honor of the supposed gods present with them as men, in the persons of Barnabas and St. Paul.
NOBILITY OF THE MISSIONARIES
The missionaries were probably quietly conversing with some of the more interested ones, when they heard of the commotion in the city and of the sacrifice about to be offered. Not for a moment did they think of taking advantage of the superstition of the people to make of themselves some great ones. Nor did they attempt to turn the event to a service of the Truth by claiming that God was Jupiter, that our Lord Jesus was Mercury, and that they themselves represented the Father and the Son.
On the contrary, most earnestly and simply did they entreat the people to desist, explaining that they were nothing but imperfect men like the populace themselves-- "men of like passions"--that their mission was the very reverse of what the Lystrians supposed, and that Jupiter and Mercury were only products of imagination, ignorance and superstition. The two ran in amongst the excited populace while the latter were preparing for the sacrifice; and even then with difficulty, amidst protests of their own nothingness, did they restrain the people from sacrificing in their honor. Noble men they were; and their faithfulness to the Lord and to the Truth attested the wisdom of sending them on this missionary tour.
From this incident we may draw a lesson, helpful to all of the Lord's people who are to any extent His ambassadors, representatives, teachers of the Truth. The Truth itself, especially in the light of our day, is so wonderful, so brilliant, that it naturally reflects some of its brilliancy upon those who represent it, causing men to marvel and to say, as of old, "Whence hath this man this wisdom?" (`Matthew 13:54`.) In some instances it might lead to an undue deference, to an ascription of undue honor, and to a subserviency which would not be proper for the Lord's ambassadors to receive, and which they should as promptly and as thoroughly repudiate as did St. Paul and Barnabas refuse the honors which the Lystrian populace were about to bestow upon them.
From the worldly viewpoint, however, this would be an unwise course. Those who will accept flattery, adulation
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and honor more than is due are likely to be prospered in this course to some extent by the Adversary, and are apt to find that the worldly spirit likes to worship worldly heroes. The only wise course for the Lord's servants, therefore, is that followed by these missionaries of our lesson--to repudiate the entire matter, to confess that they are men of like passions with others, and to hold up the Word of God, hiding themselves behind it and ignoring self altogether.
Not alone will this course be profitable as respects the finding and the development of the true children of God, whom He is now gathering out of the world, but it will be profitable also for the Lord's ambassadors! for in this way they will grow in the Lord Jesus' grace and character-likeness, of which humility was a prominent trait. Thus they will best abide in the love of God.
TRUE SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS
In pointing out to the Lystrians the fact that their ideas were vanities, the Apostle well knew that this could not bring him the favor of his hearers; for it is not human nature to appreciate being told of our follies. To work his way into their good graces he would have needed to tell them a lie--that they were very wise, that their course was a very proper one, etc. Therefore in his endeavor to be candid and to serve the Truth, he risked their disappointment and displeasure. Undoubtedly, as God's mouthpiece, he shunned not to declare the whole Message of God, whatever its results might be.
Here are good lessons for all of the Lord's people. It requires comparatively little courage to be a soldier of the Cross and faithful to the Truth amongst those of like precious faith and obedience. But it requires great courage to resist improper honor of men when we know in advance that this resistance will not only deprive us of their honor and friendship, but make us ignoble in their sight, and turn them into enemies. True soldiers of the Cross still have the same trial; and it requires hardness-- a hardening campaign of experience in the Lord's service --to endure these things and come off joyful in them.
The babes in Christ, the weak, the untried, those who have not passed through trials and experiences, and developed character, are not hardened, and could not stand such experiences. Hence it is that the Apostle advises the Church that even proper exaltation to a position of service in the Church should not be accorded to a novice, lest he should be puffed up, and thus be injured himself, as well as be injurious to others. (`1 Timothy 3:6`.) It requires time and seasoning either to rightly accept and appreciate honors and dignities along proper lines, or to decline those along improper lines.
St. Paul pointed out to his hearers that in times past God had been permitting all nations to walk in their own ways, and had interfered particularly in the affairs of only the one nation--Israel. All other nations had been permitted to take their own course, except in so far as they might cross some feature of the Divine Plan. Thus the Prophet had expressed the matter to Israel: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." (`Amos 3:2`.) The Apostle's reference to "times past" (`Verse 16`) implies the change of dispensation which had just occurred in connection with the death of our Lord Jesus, the cutting off of Israel from any special favor, and the throwing open of the Gospel Call to all who have ears to hear-- "to the Jew first and also to the Greek."
Now God was sending a Message of instruction to all nations, in order that they should turn from such vanities and should recognize the only living and true God and His Son, the world's exalted Redeemer whom the Father had ordained to become its Ruler in due time, to put down sin and death and to bless with His Reign of Righteousness all the families of the earth. The Apostle also pointed out that although God had left the nations without the instructions of the Law Covenant and the prophecies, He had given them some indications of His care, in making provision for their necessities--causing the sun to shine and the rain to fall upon the just and the unjust, upon the evil and the good.
STONED FOR SPEAKING THE TRUTH
The sudden change of public sentiment which resulted from the Apostle's plain statements of the Truth led the Lystrians to look at the missionaries with very different eyes, now that, according to their own declarations, the two were only common men like themselves. We may even suppose that they felt rather humiliated that their superstition had aroused them to do reverence to men who repudiated it and acknowledged their unworthiness of it.
While the populace was in this spirit, certain Jews came thither from Antioch and Iconium, explaining to the Lystrians that the missionaries were imposters, working upon the credulity of the people, "turning the world upside down," raising questions about theology, and disturbing the minds of the people. The populace was ready for just such leading in the reverse direction, and disposed to feel that somehow, if these two men were not really Jupiter and Mercury, they were pretenders and falsifiers, who had deceived the people and who should be put to death. As a result, St. Paul was stoned, dragged outside the city, and left for dead.
How erratic is the fallen human mind, in its condition of superstition and ignorance! How easily the priest of Jupiter could lead the ignorant to make gods of men, and how readily he could lead them in an opposite direction, equally wrong! But although the greatest of all the Apostles, and one of the most remarkable orators and logicians which the world has ever known, was in their midst, how few, comparatively, could he influence in the right direction-- for the Truth and righteousness, in obedience to God!
In many respects the world is the same today as it was then, although civilization and general intelligence have done much to lift it out of that abject benightedness which leads to idol worship, although Mohammedanism, Confucianism, Churchianity and a certain kind of Christianity have put a veneer of respectability, reason and common sense upon it. Nevertheless, under this veneer the masses are still in a very unsatisfactory condition. They are still disposed to be humbugged, disposed to appreciate those who are boastful and pretend to be great, disposed to worship that which demands worship rather than that which is worthy of it, disposed to misunderstand God and His Plan and to consider these from a devilish standpoint rather than to appreciate the lengths, breadths, heights and depths of the Love of God.
A REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE
But God was not through with the Apostle Paul. He was not stoned because of God's indifference, nor because of the Almighty's lack of power to protect His servant. On the contrary, it is quite probable that the Lord was teaching the Apostle some great lesson, valuable both to himself and to the Church to whom he ministers even today in the matter of these experiences. Quite probably the Apostle, while being stoned, remembered afresh the death of St. Stephen, to which he had consented. Quite probably, too, the result was a fresh realization of his own unworthiness to be so prominent a representative of the Lord and of His Truth.
Had the incident of the sacrificing not been thus
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followed by some trying experience, who knows but that the Apostle might have felt a little of self-gratulation, such as would be natural to any man who had renounced voluntarily honors thrust upon him. He might have been disposed to glory in his strength of character; but his experiences led him in an opposite direction, as he himself subsequently wrote. (`Romans 5:3-5`.) All of the Lord's faithful ones may learn good lessons here--learn to trust in the Lord's providences in all of their affairs, not only in those which seem favorable, but also in those which are apparently working disadvantage and disaster. Concerning St. Paul the Lord had said, "I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake." (`Acts 9:15,16`.) From this lesson we may infer that when the Lord's servants are permitted to suffer for His name's sake--not for wrong-doing, not for anger, malice, hatred, strife, evil speaking, etc., but for His sake--it is an attestation of the Lord's favor, in the acceptance of their sacrifice, as in the type Abel's sacrifice was accepted with fire.
As the disciples stood about the prostrate form of St. Paul, supposing that he was dead, the Apostle arose and returned to the city.
Their entire public preaching at Lystra was at an end; and the next day the missionaries went to Derbe, a distance of thirty-five miles. This implies that the Lord wrought a wonderful miracle in St. Paul, in that he was able to continue his journey on the very next day after having received so severe treatment as a stoning unto apparent death. The Lord sometimes works marvelously for His people, as in this instance. At other times He leaves them to the general vicissitudes of life as other men.
No particulars are given regarding the ministry of the Truth at Derbe. We may presume that it was without special incident. Having gone thus far, the missionaries determined to retrace their steps, instead of proceeding and returning homeward by the nearer route--via Tarsus, St. Paul's home city. Apparently their motive in so doing was their realization that the little groups of believers at Lystra, Iconium and Antioch in Pisidia would by this time need some encouragement and establishment in the Truth; that because of the fierce opposition in these places there would probably be more or less contention and trouble, and questions would arise which the new converts would not be competent to answer.
This was pastoral work; and in the homeward journey there is no intimation that the missionaries attempted further mission work. They had no expectation whatever of converting all the people in these cities. They understood the Plan of God too well to have any such expectations as modern mission workers seem to have. They knew very well that the mission of the Gospel was not to convert the world, but to select out of the world a special people for His name. (`Acts 15:14`.) They had witnessed the Truth to these people, and had confidence that the Lord was with them and that only such as had the hearing ear would be reached, either by the missionaries or by those who had already been enlightened.
Accordingly the two contented themselves with the work of upbuilding the "little flock," encouraging them to make their calling and election sure to a place in the Millennial Kingdom which, in God's due time, the Age to come, shall be used of the Lord in the world's blessing, the world's conversion, the world's uplift.
Doubtless the brethren in these various places were surprised that if the Gospel were of God, its servants, its ministers, should be so at the mercy of the forces of evil. This may have tended to shake their confidence considerably; for the natural expectation would be that God would protect His servants. St. Paul explained this to the believers, declaring that tribulations are necessary for the perfecting of the saints, for the trial of faith, for the testing and the preparing of those who would be joint-heirs with Christ in the Kingdom; and that after the permission of evil shall thus have served its purpose of keeping the "little flock" separate from the world and of polishing and refining them for the Kingdom, then the time will come when Satan shall be bound, and when the righteous shall no more be persecuted, but shall reign as joint-heirs with their Lord and Head in His Kingdom.
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MEMORIAL SUPPER REPORTS
The Memorial Supper seems to have been very generally observed on Sunday night, April 16th--the Anniversary. Reports mention especially a very deep spirit of solemnity and reverential joy on the part of the Brethren participating-- so far as reports have yet reached us. The corroboration which the events of our day are giving to our hopes and prospects as found in the Bible seems to have a solidifying influence. At times faith seems almost to give way to sight. The fact that we may be here a year or two, or possibly more, before the Kingdom will be fully set up is not disappointing, because the Lord's people are finding so many opportunities for service that their hands, hearts and heads are fully engaged--laboring on this side of the veil in cooperation with the glorified members on the other side.
The Brooklyn Congregation is henceforth known as the New York City Ecclesia, because our principal services are now held in the New York City Temple, although the Tabernacle in Brooklyn is also used on every Sunday by a considerable number. We had a splendid meeting, which, apparently, everybody present enjoyed with a deep spiritual zest. We thought together of the original Passover Supper and its Antitype, and the Memorial Supper instituted by our Lord and of the meaning of the emblems--of our eating the broken flesh and participating in the shed blood of our Savior, and how these represent also our fellowship, or common union, with our Master in His ignominy, suffering, death, guaranteeing for the faithful a share with their Master in the Heavenly Kingdom and Glory.
The number participating, as shown below, does not include a number of suburban Classes which previously communicated with us, but which have now so grown that it is considered wise for them to have their own celebration.
This list below shows the Classes from which we have already heard, whose participating numbers were above fifty. The figures show quite a substantial increase in the numbers of the deeply interested and fully consecrated ones, which rejoices us greatly. However, we are especially joyed with the thought of the deeper and deepening Christian experiences which are manifest amongst the Brethren everywhere. We trust that this earnest devotion to the Lord will continue. "Faithful unto death" is the term of enlistment for all the Soldiers of the Cross:
New York City, N.Y.......1041 Cincinnati, O........... 188 Chicago, Ill............. 612 Indianapolis, Ind....... 184 Boston, Mass............. 507 Columbus, Ohio.......... 177 Pittsburgh, Pa........... 424 Dayton, Ohio............ 175 Los Angeles, Cal......... 422 San Antonio, Tex........ 175 Philadelphia, Pa......... 354 Milwaukee, Wis.......... 169 Toronto, Can............. 288 Kansas City, Kan........ 159 Cleveland, O............. 258 Buffalo, N.Y............ 158 Portland, Ore............ 255 Baltimore, Md........... 136 Vancouver, B.C........... 253 Toledo, O............... 127 St. Louis, Mo............ 244 Denver, Col............. 123 Seattle, Wash............ 235 Springfield, Mass....... 115 Washington, D.C.......... 221 Oklahoma City, Okla..... 112 Providence, R.I.......... 202 Spokane, Wash........... 110
Houston, Tex............. 109 New Brighton, Pa........ 69 Louisville, Ky........... 108 Hartford, Conn.......... 68 Roseland (Chicago), Ill.. 107 Rockford, Ill........... 68 St. Paul, Minn........... 100 Duquesne, Pa............ 67 Worcester, Mass.......... 98 Schenectady, N.Y........ 67 Binghamton, N.Y.......... 91 Wilmington, Del......... 60 Everett, Wash............ 90 Reading, Pa............. 60 Richmond, Va............. 88 York, Pa................ 57 Allentown, Pa............ 86 Cumberland, Md.......... 57 St. Joseph, Mo........... 83 Paterson, N.J........... 57 Scranton, Pa............. 75 Erie, Pa................ 53 Grand Rapids, Mich....... 74 Jacksonville, Fla....... 52 Pasadena, Cal............ 74 Wichita, Kan............ 51 Altoona, Pa.............. 70 Montreal, Can........... 50
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THE COUNCIL AT JERUSALEM
--MAY 28.--`ACTS 15:22-33`.--
THE FIRST ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF THE CHURCH--"THE SPIRIT OF A SOUND MIND" IN SETTLING DOCTRINAL DIFFERENCES --THE YOKE OF THE LAW COVENANT VS. CHRISTIAN LIBERTY--THE DECISION OF THE APOSTLES ON THE QUESTIONS AT ISSUE--LESSONS FOR OUR DAY--LIBERTY IS NOT LICENSE.
"The Liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free."--`Galatians 5:1`.
WHEN St. Paul and Barnabas had made their report to the Church at Antioch, both the congregation and their missionaries rejoiced in their mutual service for the Gentiles. The Lord's Cause was indeed quite prosperous everywhere for a season. But this period of peace, prosperity, growth in knowledge and in numbers was followed by a season of contention and differences at Antioch. From Jerusalem, the headquarters of the Lord's work, there came certain brethren, Hebrews by birth, who, perceiving that the Gentile Christians ignored circumcision, raised a great commotion on that score, claiming that as circumcision would not save without Christ, neither would Christ's salvation be operative without circumcision.
The minds of many in the Church were disturbed by these assertions, and for a time a split in the Church seemed probable. But better counsels prevailed; and their beloved brethren, St. Paul and Barnabas, were sent to Jerusalem, as a committee to confer with the Apostles and Elders there. Today's Study tells of this conference and its results.
Incidentally we remark upon the wisdom shown by these early Christians. They had "the spirit of a sound mind." (`2 Timothy 1:7`; `James 3:17,18`.) They had indeed great confidence in St. Paul and Barnabas, and realized that under the administrations of these two faithful brethren the Church at Antioch had already received great blessings from the Lord; and that this fact rather contradicted the idea that they could not be esteemed proper subjects for Divine favor without circumcision. They acted wisely, therefore, in considering that the Lord's will on the subject was positive; and that His will would be indicated through the Apostles, to whom He had said, "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven." (`Matthew 16:19`; `John 20:21-23`.) The Apostles might therefore properly be expected to know whether or not the Gentile Christians were free from that obligation which had been placed upon all the descendants of Abraham.
THE JERUSALEM CONFERENCE
At the Conference, the kindly deference of the Apostles, one to the other, is quite marked. It is also noticeable that they based their conclusions on what they found written in the Old Testament Scriptures and on their leadings of Divine providence. For several years the Truth had gradually become more and more plain to them. They saw that the special favor of God to the Jews had given place to a general favor toward people of every nation, so that all men everywhere who believed in the Lord, accepted His promises and consecrated their lives in harmony therewith, might henceforth have equal privileges and advantages with those of Hebrew birth. They knew of God's covenant relationship with the nation of Israel; and it took time for them to become convinced that the Divine Program had taken another step forward.
Similarly, in the end of this Age there are many who realize that only a "little flock" has been called of God, and has responded, sacrificed under that High Calling. It is difficult for these to grasp the thought that a change of dispensation is at hand; and that God purposes to complete the work of this Age for the Elect and then to inaugurate a new work for the non-elect--for the benefit of "all the families of the earth."
The conclusions of the Conference are given us in few words; namely, that so far as God is concerned, He had recognized believers of Gentile birth by bestowing upon them His Holy Spirit in just the same way in which He had recognized believers of Hebrew birth, and "put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." (`Acts 15:9`; `10:44-47`.) What more could be asked? These Gentiles had received all this favor from God without having come under the bondage of the Law Covenant. Why, they wisely asked, should they put a yoke upon the Gentiles when God had made no such requirement? They realized that the Law Covenant was indeed a yoke so heavy that neither they nor their fathers had been able to bear it. Christ had relieved them of the yoke of the Law Covenant. Why should they put it upon brethren to whom the Lord had not given it?--`Romans 3:19`.
Even going beyond this, they recognized that in some respects the Gentiles held the superior position; for they were free from the Law, never having come under that yoke. Hence the statement, "We [Hebrews] believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they [Gentiles]."
THE CONCLUSION OF THE MATTER
In `Verses 22-29` of today's Study we have the decision of the Apostles on the question at issue. They not only wrote it out, but sent it at the hand of two of their trusted brethren--Judas Barsabas and Silas--with St. Paul and Barnabas, that the Church at Antioch might have the matter in both written and oral testimony. The declaration was that the disquieting teachings had not been authorized by the Apostles at Jerusalem. Then they briefly summed up, not as law, but as "necessary things," the following: (1) Abstain from meats offered (sacrificially) to idols; (2) And from blood; (3) And from things strangled; (4) And from harlotry.
It was not intimated that abstinence from these things would make one a Christian; for nothing but faith in Christ and consecration to Him and endeavor to walk in His steps could constitute any one a Christian. By these recommended abstentions, they declared, "It will be well with you"--you will find these recommendations profitable to you as followers of the Lord. As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul has pointed out most forcefully that "Love is the fulfilling of the Law" (`Romans 13:10`); for love for God would control the life as respects holiness, and love for our neighbor as for ourselves would control as respects earthly justice.
THE NECESSITY FOR THESE RESTRICTIONS
The things recommended by the Conference were necessary to a preservation of the Body of Christ, composed of Jews and Gentiles of different education and sentiments. Without discussing whether or not harm could come to the meats sold in the markets, by reason of pagan ceremonies in connection with the killing of animals, the Conference advised that these be abstained from, because Jews would certainly consider the eating of such meats as participation in heathen idolatry--even though from the broad standpoint of fact the idol, being nothing but wood or stone or metal, could neither profit nor injure the food. Nevertheless, it was advisable that the Gentile Christians abstain from the use of their liberty in this direction,
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out of deference to the weaker brethren, Jews and Gentiles, who could not so deeply philosophize and whose consciences might be injured.
A similar thought attaches to the prohibition of the use of blood. To the Jew it was forbidden. (`Leviticus 17:10-14`.) Under the Law Covenant, blood was made a symbol of life; and to partake of it would therefore imply responsibility for the life taken. Moreover, in the typical ceremonies of the Law the prohibited blood was used as a symbol to represent the sin-offering; for atonement for sins was effected by the blood. To emphasize these typical lessons the Jew had been forbidden to use blood. There may be other reasons, sanitary or otherwise, connected therewith, but not yet known to us.
These prohibitions had never come to the Gentiles; for they had never been under the Law Covenant. But so deeply rooted were the Jewish ideas on this subject that it was necessary to the peace of the Church that the Gentiles should observe this matter also. The things strangled meant animals taken in traps, whose blood was not shed, or drained out by bleeding to death, as the Jewish Law required of all meats that were to be eaten. This restriction was necessary to the harmony between the two branches of Spiritual Israel--that which came from Judaism and that which came from the Gentiles-- previously separated by the Law Covenant. If the Gentile brethren did not wish to be contentious and cause division in the Church, they would surely be willing to restrain or sacrifice their liberty respecting these matters.
The last restriction specified was harlotry. The idol worship which prevailed at the time of our Study had connected with it a great deal of sensuality, which would be contrary to the Spirit of Christ in every sense of the word. It is difficult, however, to understand why one moral precept should be thus separated from others and placed on the list with ceremonial requirements. We incline to ask why were not included profanity, drunkenness, idolatry, adultery, false witness, murder, etc. Are we to understand that the Gentiles are free to commit all crimes not stipulated by this Conference?
Surely not! Rather, all the requirements of the Law are included in the one Law of the New Creation-- Love for God and man. Love would cover profanity, murder, theft, false witness, adultery; but the Law of Love would not so thoroughly cover the items enumerated by the Council at Jerusalem. We are to recognize that the Apostles were Divinely authorized to bind things on earth; and that they were so guided in their public utterances that they bound nothing unnecessarily, nothing contrary to the Divine will. It is our opinion, therefore, that these items thus superadded to the Law of Love should be observed by all Spiritual Israelites as representing the Divine will. As a matter of fact, nearly all the butchering for our markets is in harmony with the Jewish regulations, although many Jews decline to recognize this, and eat only such meats as have been inspected and approved by their rabbis.
GOOD RESULTS FROM THIS WISE COURSE
The message sent by the Conference to the Church at Antioch was received in faith by all, and caused great rejoicing in the Church. Harmony prevailed, unity of spirit, fellowship amongst the members. The secret of this lay in the fact that the Lord was recognized as having the supervision of the affairs of the Church, and as guiding her course and directing her way through the appointed channels, the Apostles.
Similarly today, where honesty of heart prevails amongst the Lord's peoples, schisms, divisions, should be unknown. The Lord's guidance and instruction should be sought--His Word through His Apostles. Moreover, since the Apostles fell asleep, the Lord has been pleased to use faithful brethren in the Church as finger-boards to indicate the right path, in harmony with His Word through the Apostles and Prophets. The thing necessary to each is the honest conscience, the humble spirit, and the pure heart.
We rejoice at the evidences that in the early Church there was such a spirit of broadmindedness as is represented in today's Study. We rejoice to know that when an important subject was to be considered, with a view to discerning the mind of the Lord, there was full liberty granted for as much dispute or debate, in a proper manner, as was necessary to bring the entire subject before those who had it under consideration. There is a difference, however, between discussion inside the pale of faith and disputes outside that boundary. As St. Paul says, "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations"--do not receive him to dispute his doubts--what he does not believe. (`Romans 14:1`.) Let him have a full opportunity for hearing the faith discussed. If his doubts do not then disappear, he will probably drop out of the assembly.
AS TO WHO COMPOSE THE CHURCH
In harmony with this we are not to recognize disputes respecting the FOUNDATION PRINCIPLES of the Gospel of Christ. The Church is composed only of those who recognize the foundation--that Christ died for our redemption from sin and its penalty; that all who would share His blessings must accept the simple facts of His death for us and His resurrection by the power of God for our ultimate deliverance; and that then, in harmony with the desire to be His disciples, they must consecrate themselves fully to Him, to do His will and to serve His cause. These foundation principles of the Church of Christ are not subject to dispute. Those who reject these principles are not of the Church, and should not be heard in the Church. They are intruders--doubtless wolves in sheep's clothing--of evil intentions and ultimate results.
But as respects discussions amongst those who are truly the Lord's, opportunity for freedom of discussion on any point of importance, within reasonable limits, is absolutely necessary to spiritual health and progress. To shut it off means to crush proper activities of thought, and in many instances means to accumulate a force which would ultimately result in an explosion, which would be damaging in some respects at least. Let us remember the Golden Rule in this matter. Let us accord to others the same reasonable liberty, inside of foundation principles, that we would like to have them accord us, if our positions were reversed.
LIBERTY IS NOT LICENSE
Our Golden Text is a precious one. The value of true liberty amongst the Lord's people cannot be over-estimated. It becomes a part of their very life. But because of a wrong conception of union, the spirit of true liberty was crushed out of the Church shortly after the Apostles fell asleep in death; and the Dark Ages resulted, with all their ignorance, superstition, blindness, persecution, etc. The Reformation movement of the Sixteenth Century was only a re-awakening of the spirit of liberty mentioned in our Text--liberty to think inside the foundation lines of the doctrines of Christ, liberty to believe as much or as little more, in harmony with this, as mental conditions and circumstances will permit, without being branded a heretic or persecuted by brethren, either in word or in deed.
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Strange to say, a peculiar combination of too much liberty and too little liberty is creeping over Christendom today. The too little liberty feature objects to any discussion of the doctrines of Christ and the teachings of the Apostles, for fear that some difference of opinion should be manifested. This is an endeavor to have an outward union without a union of heart and of head. The general trend along this line favors the covering over, the concealment, of truths as well as of errors, in the wrong assumption that the appearance of union will serve the purpose of real union, and will be really effective as respects the prosperity of the true members of the Body of Christ. Such a false union is coming, however, and will cause prosperity in the nominal Church, but only for a brief season. The culmination of the Time of Trouble will overwhelm all.
On the other hand, the too great liberty feature is that represented by the teachings of Higher Critics and Evolutionists. Any attempt to contradict these unscriptural doctrines is tabooed, as tending to stir up strife and thus to destroy the unity of the Church. Thus the too great liberty and the too great bondage features are working together in the nominal church systems to expel and ostracize the Truth and all who love it, all who wish to "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free." Let all who are the Lord's people and who have tasted of true Christian liberty see to it that they stand fast in that liberty; and as soon as an attempt is made to restrain their liberty, if not sooner, let them get completely out from all the bondages of human systems, in order that they may stand firmly and loyally with the Lord, our Redeemer, our Instructor, our King.
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FAITH DEMONSTRATED BY WORKS
"I will show thee my faith by my works."--`James 2:18`.
FAITH is a mental conviction respecting things not positively proven to the senses, but received on supposedly good authority. There is another quality that seems very closely allied to faith; namely, credulity. The difference between these two appears to be that faith requires, and inquires for, good, sound evidence and authority for its basis. There are people who are very much prejudiced, and who seem to reason very little about anything. Sometimes they are credited with having a great deal of faith, whereas the truth is that they have a great deal of credulity. The faith that is of the responsible kind is that which the Christian is called upon to exercise. He exercises faith in God. If he doubted God's existence, God's character, he would not be in any sense prepared to receive the Message which the Father has to send at this time.
Having gotten a glimpse of the great Divine Character through the Book of Nature, we properly enough, before exercising faith in the Bible, make inquiry into the personnel of the writers--who they were, what were their characters, who did they claim to be, what evidences are there that they were true, and do these evidences agree. In other words, faith does not jump at conclusions, but makes investigations and sees that it has some reasonable ground for its existence. If it were solid ground, it would be knowledge. Faith is not knowledge. Therefore Faith inquires for reasonable ground upon which to build.
FAITH DISTINGUISHED FROM CREDULITY
With the Bible open, the Christian has before him a field of faith-knowledge--knowledge of things not seen by the natural eye--all of which he may continually be proving. While ever satisfied with what he has been demonstrating, he must necessarily be manifesting his faith by the way, proving that which is good. His mental processes being active, he should realize how one feature of the Divine Plan fits into another. Thus his faith grows into larger faith, deeper faith, stronger faith. In time his faith becomes a conviction so strong that he might be willing to stake his life on what he believes to be the truth in the Divine promises. He accepts those promises as something real, something that he knows about--not something received in a vague, unsatisfactory manner.
On the other hand, credulity is prejudice. The heathen are credulous; for they are blindly prejudiced. Many Christian people seem to be beset by the same spirit of credulity, and seem to mistake it for faith. We are not to forget that there are two great powers at the present time --the power of Good and the power of Evil. We are not to forget that for six thousand years the power of Evil has had the upper hand on earth. God has permitted Satan to have a great deal of power in the world. But it is a deceptive power. To Satan's misleading spirit powers we accredit much of the superstition that has fastened itself upon humanity.
For instance, there was a time when we thought it a manifestation of great faith to see three gods in one God, and one God in three gods. From our mistaken viewpoint we said, "One cannot reason this out; it is all of faith." The fact that somebody had said that there are three gods in one God, and one God in three gods, was not a basis for faith. So then, it was not faith that we had in a Trinity, but credulity. With many other things it was the same; we were not exercising faith. And so it would seem to have been with very many in the past. They must have swallowed many things with a very slight amount of mental mastication. We believe that such conditions still exist.
We notice our Christian Science friends. Many of them are very noble people, very estimable people in some respects; yet in our judgment they hold certain doctrines that are not matters of faith, but of credulity. They have theories respecting sin, respecting error. Because these theories seem to fit certain experiences in life, they have accepted these as a basis for what they call faith, and have seemed to receive them aside from all processes of reasoning. The basis for their doctrine seems to be that they have experienced healing as a result of faith. They do not seem to see that Satan has power to mislead. We fear that many of them are being misled by Satan's deceptions. We see a similar condition amongst Mormons. They too have theories, and have healing. It is the same with the Seventh Day Adventists. The Adversary is misleading all these people as respects the Call of this present Age; they are being side-tracked. They are not, therefore, to receive the highest blessing, which goes only to the faithful who walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
COMBATTING WRONG DEDUCTIONS IN EARLY CHURCH
The Apostle in our text says, "I will show thee my faith by my works." This is part of an argument that he has been putting up. There was a theory prevalent in the days of the Apostle, that works amounted to nothing --that it was faith which counted. The Apostle James is combatting that thought. Faith is all very well; but you must have works also! The Apostle says, "You show me your faith without works, but I prefer to show you my faith by my works." There was some perversion of St. Paul's teachings that had gotten into circulation at that time. St. Paul had said that by the works of the Law no
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flesh could be justified. The Jews, who had the Law, had not been able to keep that Law; neither would St. Paul or any other human being be able to keep that Law, in order to justify himself in God's sight. The only way to do this was by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and not by the Law of works.
We are not to understand St. James as in any sense of the word opposing St. Paul in this thought, but rather as opposing the wrong deductions from St. Paul's teaching; to wit, "It does not matter what kind of works I have. I have strong faith; God will not pay any attention to the works. I can work the works of the flesh; and having plenty of faith in God, I shall be all right." St. James points out that this is not true. Faith in God and in Christ and in the forgiveness of sins is proper; but there must be works to accompany it. Just as surely as we have faith it will manifest itself in some way, and these works, if not good, will be bad works, indifferent works. A good tree will produce good fruit. A pure fountain will send forth pure water.
This seems to be the Apostle's argument. Surely we all agree with him, and are all seeking to show forth our works. The world cannot appreciate our faith, because they cannot read our hearts. But God appreciates our faith. Abraham was the father of the faithful. God loved him and treated him as a friend. He was called the "Friend of God." But, says the Apostle, God required that Abraham should show his faith by doing some works; he must have some works to prove that he had faith; he will test us by our works as to the strength of our faith.
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PREACHING THE GOSPEL A NECESSITY
"Woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel."--`1 Corinthians 9:16`.
WOE is a word not so often used today as formerly. It was a common word in the old English; but there is a meaning attached to it at present, we think, that was not in the original word. Nearly all who read the parable where the Lord speaks of "weeping and gnashing of teeth" seem to have the thought that it means eternal torment. Woe, when used in the Bible, means the same to some minds. So these construe our text to mean, "I shall go to eternal torment if I do not preach the Gospel." This is because of the creeds, traditions and customs that have come down from the Dark Ages, when the people were forbidden the Bible.
We understand the Apostle to mean here: "I should be very unhappy if I could not preach the Gospel; it would be a cause of great distress to me. In view of my former course of persecution, and the Lord's great mercy to me, it would mean a loss of His favor and blessing should I refrain from proclaiming His Message." The context seems to bear out this thought. So it should be a great distress to those to whom the Lord has granted the illumination of His Truth, if the opportunity of preaching this glorious Gospel were taken from them.
From one standpoint, the Apostle's words would apply only to the public ministry of the Word. From another standpoint, any one of God's consecrated people is a minister, ordained to preach; for ordination means commission, right, authorization. This commission to preach the Gospel is mentioned by the Prophet Isaiah. (`Isaiah 61:1-3`.) There the Church is brought to our attention through the great Head of the Church, Christ Jesus, who is represented, primarily, as the speaker. We read: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, and the Day of Vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that He might be glorified."
MANY WAYS OF PREACHING THE GOSPEL
Here the commission of the Holy Spirit to Messiah was prophetically announced, long in advance. The Body members of the Messiah, who have received the same anointing through Him, have also received this commission to preach the Gospel. If the disciple of Christ properly appreciates the privilege of being a messenger of God, an ambassador for God, it would be a woe indeed to him if he could not proclaim the Message, to the extent of his ability and opportunity.
There are some who have the thought that there is no way to preach except by a public discourse from the platform. But this seems not to be the Bible thought of preaching. Jesus talked to the people by the seaside, and along the way; sometimes He sat upon the edge of the well and preached the Message of salvation; He preached to His disciples up in the mountain; sometimes He journeyed with them and talked. And so with us. Whatever way or time we may have for preaching the Good Tidings we should use.
The word Gospel means glad tidings, good news. We are to tell the "good tidings of great joy." This may be done in the daily walk of our life, as we meet the butcher, the baker and the grocery man, or our neighbors and friends. It may be done by literature sent through the mails, or by handing out a tract, a book, or by preaching from the platform. All of this is preaching the Gospel, making known the Good Tidings; for preaching means merely to make known, and does not relate to the manner in which the knowledge is imparted.
BASIS AND SUPERSTRUCTURE OF THE GOSPEL
Many tracts contain no Gospel; they contain tidings of great misery. These we would not wish to circulate; for the more we spread such tidings the less preaching of the Gospel we would do. We are to remember that our Lord Jesus especially identified the Gospel with the Kingdom. Therefore we should preach the Good Tidings, the Gospel of the Kingdom. This has been God's method for gathering the Church, and is to be the witness to the world. We still have the opportunity for making known this good Message of the Kingdom. The Basis of this Gospel is the death of our Lord Jesus Christ as a Sacrifice for sinners, His resurrection and His ascension to the right hand of the Father. Its superstructure is the salvation of the Church and of the world--"whosoever will." The blessings of God are all through Christ.
The rich blessings of the Lord for both Church and world are to follow the Second Coming of Jesus. Then the Church is to be glorified and exalted; and the world will enter upon the Era of Blessing God has promised shall come with the full establishment of His Kingdom.
Whoever, therefore, understands this real Gospel, and appreciates his own ordination to preach it, must necessarily feel unhappy if he should be hindered from preaching
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it. Some can preach in several ways. Others can preach in nearly every way. Some can preach in very few ways; but all can preach in some way. The more we do, the more happy we should be. So we thank God that we have so many helps in our day--books, free literature, Bible Concordances, etc. We greatly appreciate all these and are seeking to make good use of them to the blessing of others as well as for our own upbuilding.
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YOUR BRETHREN THAT HATED YOU
"Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for My name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified; but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed."--`Isaiah 66:5`.
HOW beautifully reasonable is the Message of God's Word! Many of the followers of Jesus, young in faith and possessed of but a small measure of the Holy Spirit, would be inclined to threaten their enemies with dire vengeance from God, even as the Apostles James and John at first desired to call down fire from Heaven upon the Samaritan city because the people had refused to sell them bread for the use of Jesus and His disciples. Where in the Bible do we find one word of threatening in respect to those who persecuted Jesus unto death, or those who have persecuted His followers? The simple statement is, "They shall be ashamed." The Lord's declaration through Daniel's prophecy is, "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake," some to shine as the brightness of the firmament--the saintly, the Church of glory--others to be ashamed--to have shame and lasting contempt.--`Daniel 12:2,3`.
And even here our Common Version Bible oversteps the matter and declares, "Everlasting shame and contempt," whereas the Hebrew text says merely "lasting shame and contempt." The shame will last as long as the wrongdoer continues to be in his shameful condition of opposition to the Lord and to His Message. The contempt will last as long as the individual's course shall be a contemptible one. But as soon as reformation sets in, the shame will begin to depart; and eventually there will be neither shame nor contempt to those who will manifest a proper appreciation of the character of our God and the principles of His Government, when under the instructions of the Kingdom they shall come to understand them.
So then, dear brethren, since the Messianic Kingdom will be administered by those who have suffered for the name of Christ, receive persecutions patiently, joyfully. As the Lord advised, "Rejoice and be exceeding glad." Everything that we may suffer for the Lord's sake, for the Truth's sake, will, He assures us, eventually bring us an everlasting reward, if we are rightly exercised by it, if we become character copies of God's dear Son.
The names of all who suffer for righteousness' sake, we are assured, are written in Heaven; but we shall be glad to have a little memorandum on earth, too, from those who desire to send their names in to us. Make the record just as brief as possible, head it I.H.S., and crowd it down into a few words on a postcard, even though you enclose the postcard in an envelope. We want your address on one side and this brief review on the other side; and we will keep these cards on file.
In addition to telling us very briefly something about what the Truth has cost you, you may add one line about your family, and then a brief word respecting your talents, abilities and experience. Who knows but that we might be able to suggest something for you in future?
In addition to this card, we suggest that any brothers or sisters who have special literary talents as writers or as editors, and other special education, or such as are lawyers, doctors, or fluent preachers, send us a brief letter respecting their financial standing--accompanying the above mentioned card.
REQUESTS FOR PILGRIM VISITS
AS THE WATCH TOWER list includes thousands of new readers we make the following explanations afresh:
THE WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY out of donated funds sends forth instructors, lecturers, styled "PILGRIMS." It pays their expenses of every kind. Thus they become in a special sense its representatives, meeting with Bible Students everywhere. Some of these are specially qualified for public service as well as for semi-public studies with the friends; others are less qualified for public service, but excellent in Class meetings. The SOCIETY uses great care in the selection of these to the intent that their presentations of the Truth, expositions of the Scriptures, etc., may be along helpful lines--profitable every way and especially for the upbuilding of the Lord's people in the most holy faith.
It is expected that the Classes inviting such Pilgrim service will provide for the Pilgrim's necessities at one of their homes, or otherwise, during his brief stay of from one to two days. Luxurious or extraordinary preparation for these Brethren is not expected, but merely their comfortable provision. By this we mean a clean, comfortable bed and wholesome food. Any one not being able to furnish these reasonable requirements should not propose to entertain the Pilgrim. The Class inviting Pilgrim service should consider itself responsible and should see that these reasonable comforts are provided. The Pilgrims are expected to address meetings every night, also afternoon meetings wherever these are possible--or otherwise to visit the Brethren who may be sick either spiritually or physically. The morning is often necessary for traveling. The Pilgrim should not be kept up too late at night. "Moderation" should govern, in this as in all things, as the Scriptures direct.
We invite Classes desiring Pilgrim visits to send in their requests at once, addressing the SOCIETY, care PILGRIM DEP'T.
We desire that post-cards be used in making applications for these visits, and specially desire replies to all of the following questions. The questions need not be repeated, but merely indicated thus: (a), (b), etc.: (a) How many Bible Students in your vicinity use the
STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES? (b) Are weekly meetings held? (c) How many are usually in attendance? (d) Where do you now meet on Sunday? (Give full street
address and name of auditorium.) (e) At what hours are the Sunday meetings held? (f) Was a vote taken on the Pilgrim invitation? (g) How many voted for the invitation to be sent? (h) Do you desire Sunday for Special Public Lectures? (i) How frequently do you desire such Special appointments? (j) Give seating capacity of Auditorium you could secure. (k) What attendance do you think could be secured for well
advertised public sessions in good Auditorium? (l) Would a suitable place be found for meetings not specially
advertised? (m) Have the members of your class chosen leaders in accordance
with suggestions of SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Volume
VI., chapters 5 and 6?
If so, give name and full address of each. (n) Give full names and full addresses of the two (2) to
whom notices of Pilgrim visits should be sent. (Please
notify Pilgrim Dept. as to any change or removal.) (o) If your town is not on a railroad give the name of
proper railroad station at which to stop. (p) How many miles from station is meeting place, and
which direction from station? (q) Would Pilgrim be met at station? (r) If not, how should Pilgrim go from said station? (s) Give writer's full name and address. (t) Any additional remarks.
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SOME FAITHFUL WITNESSES
FROM an English newspaper, The Rugby Observer, March 3, we quote the following:--
The first conscientious objectors to come before a Rugby Tribunal made their appearance yesterday before the Rural Authority. There were three claims. Two were made by Colporteurs living at Biltonhill and in the employ of a Tract Society, and their objection was to either combatant or non-combatant service.
The first, a widower, on his application wrote that while he appreciated the noble sacrifices that had been and were being made on behalf of King and country, the reason of his application was that five and a half years ago he became a Christian, and that he then vowed to God that he would give himself to His service and work out his life to the best of his ability on the principles of Christianity. He would regard employment in any branch of military service as a complete violation of his oath to the King of kings; he would feel that in his own conscience he would have broken a sacred oath to the Almighty.
Addressing the Tribunal, applicant said when he accepted the principles of Jesus Christ he knew that sooner or later it would cost him something, and he had realized that as the spirit of militarism had permeated all the institutions of the country, it would need courage to hold to those principles. But while he realized that militarism had no room for conscience, he was determined to be guided by his conscience in the matter. He had sworn allegiance to the King of kings, and while he had all respect for those who had sworn to England's King, he was bound in honor to the Lord.
"I HAVE NO COUNTRY"
The President: "Don't you think it is quite compatible with the Christian life to defend your country?"
"I have no country, sir. I gave up my citizenship. While I have always realized the privileges of being born in this country, and have been surprised at the privileges granted by the conscience clause in the Military Act, and had decided to stand to my principles even if that clause had not been added--yet my oath of allegiance is to the King of kings."
Replying to further questions appellant said the instructions of Jesus Christ were that they were to use no violence to any man. Jesus Christ instructed: "It is said you should love your friends and hate your enemies; but I say unto you, love your enemies."
Rev. Challenor: We are aware of the Sermon on the Mount, but there is non-combatant service you could take up.
Applicant: Do I understand that I am discussing whether I am to take up non-combatant service?
Rev. Challenor: In the R.A.M.C. your work would be like that of the Master, to alleviate suffering.
Applicant: In this I should consider what the Master would do. It may seem to be very good to alleviate the sufferings of the brave soldiers at the front, but I hear them say on coming back, "It is ten hells in one." Take a man who is in the jaws of death, and I am asked to nurse him back to life. For what purpose? To send him back to those ten hells in one. No, I am of the opinion that it would be better to let him die and await the Lord's coming.
Mr. Flowers: Do you refuse to take the military oath?
Absolutely. I have taken my oath to the King of kings.
Rev. Challenor: Many other people have taken an oath to the King of kings.
Applicant: I hope they will have determination to keep it.
Mr. Wratislaw: Suppose a burglar entered your house, would you not resist him?
I have no house here.
But suppose you had?
Well, a burglar usually enters a house to look for wealth. If I saw a burglar in my house, I should ask him what he was after. If he said "wealth," I should say, "Well, I am going to help you find it, because I have none."
Yours is a paid service, surely.
I receive nothing in the form of wages from the Society.
Does not the Tract Society pay a commission to its men?
That is so. If I do no work I get no pay.
Replying to a question as to whether he would not defend his mother from violence, applicant quoted the incident of the betrayal of Jesus Christ when Peter was reproved for taking up a sword. No cause, he said, was grander than that, but Christ rebuked Peter for using the weapon.
Mr. Wratislaw: You will not fight and you will not tend the wounded. Are you prepared to go to one of the military prisons in Germany and say, "I am willing to put myself in this prison that one of those wounded soldiers may go back?"
Applicant: I should ask myself, "What would the Master do?" I remember that while our Lord was on earth John the Baptist was in prison, but our Lord did not release him; He allowed him to be beheaded in prison. I am prepared to go to prison. I am prepared to go to prison for my own conscience. If a man is imprisoned unjustly the Lord will deal with his captors, not I.
But you do not mind seeking the shelter of this country?
If this country denies me the privilege of living in it I am quite prepared to take a passport to leave it.
I hope you would accept it.
Exemption from combatant service only was granted.
Applicant: My conscience will be the final decider in this matter, and I shall keep to my conscience at all costs.
SHARP PASSAGE WITH APPLICANT
The previous applicant's companion sought exemption on similar grounds. He said he had consecrated his life to the Lord's service from the age of 14 years, and participation in any form of military service would violate the principles of Christian truth to which he had pledged himself. He said his views were identical with those of the previous applicant.
Asked by the Rev. Challenor if he did not consider it his duty to alleviate the sufferings of the wounded, he replied that if he did not undertake such service he would not be there to attend to the wounded.
The President: If you were in that incident in the Bible you would not be the good Samaritan?
To my understanding the parable is not applicable to military service. I would gladly help any one who needed it, but to work in non-combatant service is to assist those engaged in combatant service. He added that the citizenship to which he belonged was the citizenship of Heaven.
Exemption from combatant service was granted.
Applicant: I would like you to understand that my determination is not to serve in any branch of military service, and you as a Tribunal, have a right to give me the exemption I claim. You have been instructed by the Local Government Board to give me exemption in such circumstances. At the same time, I shall appeal if you will not grant it.
The President: You can appeal to the County Tribunal.
Applicant: You have the power and you have the intelligence to judge my claim.
The President: Perhaps the County Tribunal will have more intelligence than we have.
Applicant: It might be so of course.
SOME LETTERS ON THE SUBJECT
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
As you are aware, compulsory military service has been enacted in this country within certain limits. I come under the provisions of the act and would like to have your advice, which for the past fourteen years I have esteemed and sought to follow as presented in the DAWNS and TOWERS.
I applied for total exemption from all forms of military service, but succeeded in getting exemption from combatant service only. A special non-combatant corps is being formed for conscientious objectors to combatant service. Do you think a properly educated conscience would be violated by engaging in such a service, if compelled to do so? A number of the brethren in Glasgow have been refused even exemption from combatant service at the first appeal court, but I expect all will get recommended at the second and practically final appeal court for non-combatant service. Not to appear when called by the military authorities would mean trial by a civil court as a deserter and then a handing over in charge of an escort to the army officials. To refuse to drill, etc., after that, I suppose, would mean repeated punishments, ending probably in a court martial and a sentence of death. Do you think a properly educated conscience would make us endure all that rather than engage in non-combatant work? I would be deeply grateful for an early reply, as I may be called upon to decide for myself very soon. With fervent love as ever,
Your brother in Christ, ALEX. KIRKWOOD.
Reply by the Editor
The question is one for the conscience of each individual. For our part, it would seem to be a participation in the war if one were to engage in laying out and digging trenches, putting in foundations for cannon, etc.--the things implied in the term "engineering."
It would seem to the Editor a somewhat different case if a soldier of the Cross were demanded by an earthly government to enter the hospital work--such as the Red Cross-- for relief of the sick and wounded, etc., even if the care of
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the wounded and the nursing of them back to health would the sooner prepare them for slaughter.
The Editor's conscience would not balk at Red Cross hospital work.
DEARLY BELOVED PASTOR:--
Greetings in the name of the Lord from all of like precious
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faith in this place, who are anxious to assure you of a deep and constant love for you.
At the suggestion of these we are writing to inform you of a wonderful manner in which the Lord has used His people here to witness His glorious character and Plan--in a way so unexpected and with such clear evidence that we are but instruments in His hands.
You are aware of the position in which many of our dear younger brethren are now placed by reason of governmental legislation, and we are assured, beloved Pastor, that you are entering into these experiences with us, in that if one member suffer the others suffer with that one; even as it has been our privilege to enter (in spirit) the measure we have known to be laid upon you.
It was necessary for six brethren to appear before a local Tribunal three days ago, this particular tribunal being regarded as one of the "warmest" in the country; and it was therefore with the expectation of a rough time and with no anticipation of an opportunity of witnessing to any appreciable extent that these brothers faced the ordeal.
But the Lord has His hand in matters, and His power was manifested in a most wonderful way. It was our conclusion that here also was fulfilled, "Take no thought what ye shall speak, for in that hour it shall be given unto you," as the brothers in turn, young in years and young in the Truth (most of them only two or three years old "in the Lord"), stood up to these mighty ones (which they surely were, having years of knowledge behind them, and being lawyers and business men, all of them city counselors, or aldermen. Truly, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise"!
The power of the Truth confounded the mighty, too. The whole was something they had not met before, and had not reckoned with. To see these youths standing up to the learned ones, meeting their arguments with a reasonable answer, and replying in the spirit of the Master, was a witness most effectual--by far the best extension work we had done for some time.
In quietness and confidence is surely our strength. The applicant had no control of the subject; he had simply to answer questions put to him in rapid succession by several members of the Tribunal; but it was remarkable what a comprehensive witness was given. The first brother's main theme was the errors of Christendom, whilst the second pointed out the Law we are under--not the Mosaic, but the Law of Christ; whilst the third had no alternative but to cover the terms of our covenant, and what it means to us; the next the establishment of the Kingdom; and the last emphasized the answers of the one preceding him and dealt with the destruction of the present order of things to make way for the better one under Messiah's Kingdom.
"God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform" and a great witness has gone forth to a class we could not hitherto reach. And, then, all the papers have published something upon the subject. The Truth has thus been brought into prominence more than ever.
The decisions are against the brethren, so we take it to be the Lord's will that another witness should be given. I am glad to tell you that all the brethren are one in mind and attitude in the matter, and are rejoicing in the privilege of sharing experiences so like the Lord's and in having such opportunity of demonstrating their faithfulness to Him.
And now, dear Brother, we must thank you for your able ministry of the Truth of God to us, and we thank Him for the knowledge received through you, our beloved Pastor.
How valuable is the knowledge the Lord has permitted us to have! We are appreciating it more and more as the days go by, for so many do not know the things of which we have knowledge, and consequently the strange happenings of today disturb them much and they have not the "peace which passeth knowledge."
Be assured, dear Pastor, that we continually bear you up at the Throne. May the Lord sustain you to the end! We rejoice with you in the increasing evidence that our deliverance draweth nigh. With fervent love from all,
Yours in the Lord, -----.--England.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Greetings in our Lord Jesus! As you will no doubt have been informed, the Military Service Act has been passed in Great Britain, which gives the Military authorities power to call to military service every able-bodied man in the country between the ages of 18 and 41. It is Conscription pure and simple. Provision was made for conscientious objectors to be partially or totally exempted from the Act, if their objection was proved to be a bona fide, conscientious one. Many of the dear brethren throughout the country have already been up before the appointed Tribunals, claiming exemption from military service, either combatant or non-combatant. In every case that I know or have heard of the claim for total exemption has been disallowed, but mostly all have been granted to have non-combatant military duties. As the desire of the brethren is to be outside of the Act entirely, believing that it is only another way of engaging in military operations, most of them, I understand, are appealing to the Appeal Tribunals for the full benefits of the total exemption clause, which was provided in the Act for conscientious objectors. I myself have appealed and am waiting to appear before this Second Tribunal, the Appeal Tribunal. The Act provides for a third or Final Tribunal to be held in London, but it is within the power of the second or Appeal Tribunal, to keep any case from going further than the Second Tribunal.
When up before the First Tribunal held in the Town Hall, Newcastle, on seeing that I was showing from the Scriptures that a Christian was breaking the Law of his God to engage in warfare with carnal weapons, the military representative, Colonel Hicks, asked me the question, "What did Jesus mean when he told his disciples to sell their garments and buy swords?" Wondering just how to put the matter in few words so that they could understand the meaning of the incident recorded in `Luke 22:36`, the first sentence I uttered was interrupted by two or three members of the Tribunal, and the question was waived by further questions.
Requesting your prayers for myself and all the dear brethren who are being severely tried, and with much love,
Your brother in our dear Lord. JAMES HAMILTON.
NO DISCOURAGEMENT AMONGST THEM
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Greetings in our Lord and Head!
You are probably conversant with the trend of matters here in regard to the Military Act. So far as we are aware, all the brethren affected have asked for exemption in accordance with the conscience clause embodied in the Act.
The Tribunals to determine the validity of these claims are now sitting; but up to the present none of the brethren have succeeded in obtaining a complete exemption. There seems to be an entire disregard of the letter of the law in most of these cases. The brethren are, however, appealing to a further Tribunal in the hope that eventually they may obtain the full benefits of the Act.
You will be glad to know that though present circumstances are proving a test to all, and especially to the younger brethren, yet so far as we know there is no discouragement amongst them. Most are glad to have this privilege to witness openly and to suffer for the Lord and the principles of the Truth. With continued love as ever,
Yours sincerely in His service, W. CRAWFORD.--England.
CANADIAN CONSCRIPTION IMPOSSIBLE
A brother of considerable information on this subject writes us to the effect that Canada, being a Colony and not a sovereign State, could not legally conscript her citizens for overseas service. She could, however, conscript for home service--for defense of Canada.
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"He answered all my prayer abundantly,
And crowned the work that I had brought.
With blessing more than I had thought--
A blessing undisguised, and fair, and free.
I stood amazed and whispered, 'Can it be
That He hath granted all the boon I sought?
How wonderful that He for me hath wrought!
How wonderful that He hath answered me!'
"O faithless heart! He said that He would hear
And answer thy poor prayer, and He hath heard
And proved His promise. Wherefore didst thou fear?
Why marvel that thy Lord hath kept His Word?
More wonderful if He should fail to bless
Expectant faith and prayer with good success!"
International Bible Students Association Classes STUDIES AND LECTURES BY MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION