ZWT - 1916 - R5821 thru R6024 / R5988 (305) - November 15, 1916
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VOL. XXXVII. NOVEMBER 15 No. 22
A. D. 1916--A.M. 6045
Death of Charles T. Russell . . . . 338
"The Earth Trembled"--And Fell . . . 339
Lightning Flashes From the Throne . 339
One of the Master's Forceful and Beautiful
Lessons . . . . . . 341
Proper Consideration of the Lily . . 341
Rest and Peace in Perfect Trust . . 342
"How Long, Oh Lord, How Long?" (Poem) . 342
"Jesus Christ--the First and the Last" . 343
What the Beloved Disciple Saw . . 344
The Master's Comforting Message . . 344
"In His Right Hand Seven Stars" . . 345
"Faithful Unto Death" . . . . . 346
The Lord's Second Coming . . . . 347
Some Items of Interest . . . . . 348
Holiday Remembrancers . . . . . 348
Interesting Letters . . . . . . 350
Whom the Lord Loves He Chastens . . 350
British Conditions Grow Serious . . 351
Carefully Studied Vow--Then Accepted It . 351
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DEATH OF CHARLES T. RUSSELL
The sudden death of Pastor Charles Taze Russell, Editor of THE WATCH TOWER, has created a profound impression upon his many friends throughout the world. Hundreds of letters and telegrams received, further evidence the love and esteem in which he was held, and express unqualified desire to cooperate in continuing the great cause for which he stood so many years.
Brother Russell left Brooklyn in the evening of October 16, to fill appointments in the West and Southwest, but was obliged to start homeward before his scheduled time, owing to ill health.
It was on a Sante Fe train at Pampa, Tex., that he died. Brother Menta Sturgeon, who accompanied him on the trip as his Secretary, telegraphed the information to the headquarters of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY at Brooklyn, adding that "he died a hero."
The body lay in state at Bethel Home Saturday, and at The Temple throughout the day Sunday.
In the afternoon at the hour of 2, funeral service was held for the congregation, and in the evening a service was conducted for the public.
At about midnight the body was taken to Allegheny, Pa., where in the Carnegie Hall, at 2 in the afternoon of Monday, service was held by the Pittsburgh congregation, of which he had been resident Pastor for many years.
Interment took place in Rosemont United Cemeteries at Allegheny, in the Bethel Family plot, according to his request.
We rejoice to know that instead of sleeping in death, as the saints of old, he is numbered among those whose "works follow with him." He has met the dear Lord in the air, whom he so loved as to lay down his life faithfully in His service.
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
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BROOKLYN, N. Y., U. S. A.
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A MEMORIAL NUMBER
Owing to the fact that this issue of THE WATCH TOWER was ready for press at the time of Brother Russell's death, the Society decided to insert a brief notice, with the announcement that the following issue, December 1, will be in the nature of a Memorial Number.
Brother Russell's Will provides for the continuance of the publication of THE WATCH TOWER, for which he left ample manuscript to insure its publication for an indefinite period. The affairs of THE WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY will likewise be continued according to provision made by him before death.
Anyone desiring extra copies of the Memorial Number will please advise us immediately. Extra copies at the usual price--5c each.
WATCH TOWER BIBLES
Our present stock is nearly exhausted. The prices of these Bibles will be advanced on November 15, 1916.
I.B.S.A. BEREAN BIBLE STUDIES
FOR MONTH OF DECEMBER
MANUAL ON SERIES THIRD
"STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES"
STUDY VIII.--"RESTORATION OF ISRAEL" Week of Dec. 3..Q. 8 to 14 Week of Dec. 17..Q. 22 to 28 Week of Dec. 10..Q. 15 to 21 Week of Dec. 24..Q. 29 to 35 Week of Dec. 31....Q. 36 to 42
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"THE EARTH TREMBLED"--AND FELL
"His lightnings enlightened the world; the earth saw, and trembled."--`Psalm 97:4`.
GOD'S holy Prophets of the Old Testament and of the New give us numerous pictures of our day and the events now taking place in the world. The Psalmist David, taking prophetically a standpoint of observation future from his day declared, "The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof!" (`Psalm 97:1`.) As we have shown in SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Vol. III., Study 9, this began to be true when our Lord Jesus, having returned to earth to set up His Kingdom, took unto Himself His great power. Yet not until His Kingdom has been fully established in the earth will His glorious Reign be clearly recognized.
That the Prophet David is referring especially to the present time, from 1878 down to the full inauguration of the Kingdom, is clear from his succeeding statement: "Clouds and darkness are round about Him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His Throne. A fire goeth before Him, and burneth up His enemies round about." How true it is that the storm clouds are all about us in this Day of the Kingly presence of Jehovah's great Representative, the Executor of His great Purposes! Daily the darkness of gloom and perplexity deepens on every side for those not acquainted with Jehovah's purposes.
"A FIRE GOETH BEFORE HIM"
If we inquire, Why is this Day of His presence such a Time of Trouble and distress of nations? the answer comes, Because righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His Throne, and He is judging the nations and weighing them in the balance. Judgment is being laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet (`Isaiah 28:17`), to the intent that ere long the equitable principles of His Government may be established in all the earth. Not only will all unrighteousness be made manifest, but "a fire goeth before Him and burneth up His enemies." (`Psalm 97:3`.) All the wilful and persistent opposers of His righteous course shall be "cut off," "destroyed," "burned up," "devoured with the fire of His jealousy."--`Zeph. 3:8`.
This work of judgment and the consequent Time of Trouble being a necessary preparation for the glorious Reign of Righteousness that shall immediately succeed it, and all being wisely directed by the High and Holy One, who is "too wise to err, too good to be unkind," the Prophet bids us discern in it an abundant cause for rejoicing and gladness. (See `Psalm 96:9-13`; `98:1-9`.) Indeed, there is great cause for rejoicing, not only among the saints, but in the whole earth; and it is the privilege of the saints to tell the glad tidings to all who will hear.
But whether men hear or whether they forbear, let us tell it out, and by and by when the great afflictions of this Judgment hour begin to seal the instruction upon the hearts of men, then the blessed testimony will be as healing balm. They will see that He who smote them in His wrath, and scourged them in His hot displeasure, is also merciful and gracious, and unwilling that they should perish, but desirous rather that they should turn unto Him, obey His counsels and live.
LIGHTNING FLASHES FROM THE THRONE
It is in the midst of the clouds and darkness of this Day of Trouble incident to the setting up of Messiah's Kingdom that the statement of the Prophet is verified: "His lightnings enlightened the world; the earth saw, and trembled." How apt is this figure! Truly like lightning flashes in the midst of the gloom and perplexity of this cloudy day, come to men the remarkable glimpses of the great principles of Truth and Righteousness in contrast with which the world's present disorder is so manifest! A flash of lightning from the obscured Throne discloses here one error, and there another, and another.
Soon the whole world will be aroused. Already it is largely so. Every day adds to the intensity of the trouble, and the whole world trembles for fear, not knowing what the outcome will be, but dreading the worst. The editorials of some of our great newspapers read as if written from the standpoint of Present Truth, so remarkably do they foretell what they declare to be almost certain to follow this present terrible war. Revolution and black anarchy are freely prophesied, to precede a great reconstruction period. The great French Revolution is referred to in contrast, as an April shower compared to a destructive hurricane of the tropics. How truly are the Master's words concerning this time being fulfilled-- "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for apprehension of the things coming on the earth"!--`Luke 21:26`.
It is remarkable that these lightning flashes are continually calling attention to the Word of God, to the Golden Rule, to the equal rights and privileges of human brotherhood, to the faultless character and loving and self-sacrificing disposition of Jesus Christ, to the Law of Love in contrast with the law of selfishness everywhere prevailing. It seems remarkable, too, how often in these days of war and stress worldly men are drawing attention to the prophecies of the Scriptures, and wondering whether present conditions, and the troubles which all intelligent people see just ahead, are not fulfilments of these Bible prophecies. All this is leading men to reason of righteousness and of coming judgments (`Acts 24:25`), when they hope and believe that in some way present
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wrongs will be righted and righteousness established.
By the sudden, and now increasingly frequent, flashes of light which issue from the storm clouds that surround the invisible, spiritual presence of our glorious King, these principles of the Word of God are being illuminated and brought to the front for the consideration of all men. They are discussed not only in the daily press, but in our popular periodicals, in the official labor organs, in stores and factories, in counting-rooms, in the market-places, at public gatherings. Even heathen nations are discussing them, and are contrasting both the daily lives of professed Christians and the present course of the professed Christian nations with the character and the teachings of the great Founder of the Christian religion, extolling the latter and ridiculing the former.
"THE EARTH SAW--AND TREMBLED"
As a result of God's lightning flashes which are enlightening the world, there is great commotion everywhere manifest. Never before have such conditions prevailed. There are ominous mutterings of dissatisfaction, unrest; and the whole current of popular thought throughout the earth is set in a revolutionary direction. The lightning flashes are revealing the corruption in the world, the dishonesty in high places, and showing men that they are living far below the dignity of manhood. But how to right things they are not able to see; and the conflicting ideas, voices, theories and threats, reveal the facts which the Prophets foretold; for "the nations are angry," "the heathen [Gentiles, peoples] rage," and the whole earth trembles from the din of a wordy conflict and from the blows which even now are beginning to arouse the world.
"ZION HEARD--AND WAS GLAD"
But in the midst of all this trouble and tumult in the world, what is the attitude of the Lord's truly consecrated and faithful people? Are they, too, in fear? As the judgments of the Lord fall heavily upon the wayward and disobedient so that the whole earth reels and staggers as a drunken man (`Psalms 107:27`), are the saints in dismay and distress? Ah, no; for it is written, "Zion heard, and was glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of Thy judgments, O Lord!" It is the "sinners in Zion" that are "afraid." `Psalm 91` and `46` show why the saints rejoice and are restful of heart while others weep and lament. It is because they "dwell in the secret place of the Most High [represented by the Holy of the typical Tabernacle], and abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (as the typical Tabernacle was covered by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night). It is because God is their "Refuge and Strength." "The secret of the Lord is with them that reverence Him, and He will show them His Covenant."--`Psalm 25:14`.
These dwellers in the secret place of the Most High are provided in these perilous times with a clear knowledge of the Divine Plan, with its times and seasons, which enables them to see both the necessity for the present method of Divine discipline upon the world and also the peaceable fruits of righteousness which shall result therefrom. In the midst of the storm and battle of this great Day of the Lord, they hear the commanding voice of the Lord of armies, and their hearts rejoice; for they have full confidence in His ability to bring order out of all the confusion. They realize that in the judgments of this Day it is the Lord that speaks from Heaven--from the high place of authority and control; therefore they give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness (`Psalm 30:4`) --of His Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power, which insure His doing all things well.
THE HEEDLESS WHO WILL NOT HEAR
But the Psalmist intimated that, while the world at large would be in ignorance of the real portent of present events, and therefore in fear and dread, and while the saints, with clear knowledge, will be rejoicing and lifting up their heads, because they see the outcome, some-- heedless both of the world's distress and of the Voice which speaketh from Heaven--will still boast themselves of their idols. He says, "Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols." These words call to mind the warning of the Apostle Paul: "See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh from Heaven." (`Hebrews 12:25`.) St. Paul addresses these words to those who know the Lord's voice and recognize it, warning them against at any time refusing longer to heed it, when He speaks in wrath and judgment.
But alas! there are some who heed not the warning, and who, although they recognize the voice of the Lord,
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refuse longer to obey it. They turn away from Him that speaketh from Heaven, toward the idols which their wayward hearts have set up instead of God. These "graven images" are indeed the work of their own hands--the human philosophies, and science--"falsely so called"--of this evil day. And those who reject the testimony of God, when once they have heard it, invariably fall into some one of the many forms of idolatrous worship now so prevalent; or else they drift restlessly from one to another of them.
All such shall surely be confounded; they shall be put to shame and confusion; their idols shall be destroyed. The wilful sinner, once enlightened and blessed with the hallowed influences of the Holy Spirit and the Truth, shall not, the Apostle declared, escape the just punishment for his deeds. `Heb. 12:14-19` points out this danger to the children of God, and warns them of the fearful penalties of turning away from the holy commandment delivered unto them. The Apostle Paul here depicts the scenes accompanying the inauguration of the old Law Covenant, and shows it to be a picture of events which will accompany the establishment of the New Law Covenant, at the close of this present Age, under the greater than Moses--our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Mountain (Kingdom) of the Lord's House is now being established in the top of the mountains, superseding the great kingdoms of this world, and is being exalted above the hills--the smaller governments. (`Isaiah 2:2`.) Clouds and darkness, trouble and perplexity and distress of nations are round about; and the thunderings and lightnings are making all the earth to tremble as did Israel at Mt. Sinai. (`Exodus 19:1-25`.) And now--since the Spring of 1878--God has "set His King upon His Holy Hill of Zion." (`Psalm 2:6`.) Therefore, if those who refused to obey Moses, and presumptuously disgraced the ceremonies of the occasion at Sinai, met with instant death, how can we escape if we disregard the voice of the great Mediator of the New Covenant, and the remarkable circumstances which now accompany its establishment?
We see the deepening clouds of trouble. We hear the thunder tones of judgment that "call the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof" (`Psalm 50:1`) --from the east to the west. We see the lightning flashes of Truth and Righteousness, and observe how the whole earth is now in the shaking process which will eventuate in the complete overthrow of all existing institutions, systems and governments. Present events indeed speak in trumpet tones. How shall we regard these things? Surely, dear brethren, it will be with thoughtful
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and reverent hearts! Surely we shall watch and pray, lest "a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of us should seem to come short of it!" (`Hebrews 4:1`.) We shall guide our course with the greatest carefulness that we may make our calling and election sure.
In this eventful period everything that can be shaken will be shaken, that only the unshakable things of truth and righteousness may remain. (`Hebrews 12:25-29`.) Every one called to share in the coming Kingdom must be a lover of righteousness, one who will courageously and lovingly stand for the Truth however much it may be spoken against. All others will be shaken out of this company. The snares and delusions of this "evil day" are accomplishing this very work. In the end only the true will remain. "Seeing that we look for these things [let us] be diligent, that we may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless" (`2 Peter 3:14`), ready for the entrance into that rest which yet remains.
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ONE OF THE MASTER'S FORCEFUL AND BEAUTIFUL LESSONS
"Consider the lilies of the field,
how they grow."--`Matthew 6:28`.
MANY and varied are the precious lessons taught by the Master during His earthly ministry, and they never grow old. To the true disciple of Christ they are ever new, ever fresh. Whether He taught by the seaside or on the mountains or by the wayside, as He walked and talked with His chosen Twelve, His words of wisdom and grace come to us vibrant with meaning, pulsating with life, full of strength and power, cheering, encouraging and blessing our hearts.
In using these words under our consideration, our Lord, as was His custom, drew an illustration of something familiar to all His hearers. God's care over the lilies seemed a fitting reminder of His greater care over His own people, of His infinite Wisdom, Power and Love. He who so carefully supervised the clothing of the simple flower--which bloomed only to fade in a day--that its robes were more regal than the kingly vesture of Solomon, would surely provide for the clothing of those who trusted in Him!
SOME HAVE HIS PROMISE--SOME HAVE NOT
Undoubtedly much that our Lord said to the Jews would not have been said to Gentiles; for the Gentiles were then under the general curse and condemnation --the whole world was alienated from God. The people of Israel alone had been brought back into covenant relationship with God, through the Law Covenant made at Mount Sinai; hence different words would be applicable to them. Having come into relationship with God, His promises were theirs. All things should work for their blessing--their cattle, their fields, everything, would be blessed of the Lord, if they would be faithful to Him. Our Lord was, therefore, in line with this thought, exhorting the children of Israel to have greater confidence in God, greater trust in Him who had chosen them to be His peculiar people.
We, like the Master, should make a clear distinction between the persons to whom we would give consolation and assurances of God's care, and all others. We are to remember that some have come into His family and some have not! that some have His promises as theirs, and some have not. We are not to deceive others and to imply that they have a right to claim as their own, promises which were never given to them. Rather, we shall do them more good if we point out that these promises are conditional--only for those who make a covenant with the Lord under the special arrangement open during this Gospel Age. To the Christian this lesson of unfailing trust and confidence in God is a very important one, and to have learned it represents a very considerable growth in grace and in knowledge--in the spirit of love, which casts out all fear. It means a nearness to God, a fellowship with Him, which those who have not learned this lesson cannot enjoy.
THE WORLD'S HEAVY BURDENS
To the people whom the Master generally addressed, the matter of providing for the necessities of life was a very important one. He rarely had the very rich amongst His audience, generally the poor; and the poor in Palestine and other Eastern countries find it very difficult to obtain food, clothing, etc. In many parts of the world today, especially in India, there are people who scarcely ever go to bed without going hungry; and to these the necessities of life are a very important consideration.
Our Lord Jesus indicated that this was so in His time, saying that the important consideration with most people was, "What shall we eat and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?" They were anxious and worried. "After these things do the Gentiles seek," said the Master. Their object in life was to procure food and raiment. That was the burden of their prayer. And even the Jews, though professedly the people of God, had not learned implicit trust in Him, but were to a large extent grasping after the material things, seeking chiefly worldly gain rather than the true riches. Our Lord said that His disciples were to realize that God knew what things they had need of before they asked Him, and should rest fully content in the matter of what God would provide them respecting their temporalities. Jesus wished them to be sure that God would so supervise their interests that they should not want anything really good and needful to them.
This seems to be the whole lesson that our Lord was inculcating in bringing in this illustration from nature-- "Consider the lilies of the field." It was a forceful reminder that the things of the Kingdom were the things of paramount importance, and that in seeking these things first, they might have the assurance that all needed earthly things should be theirs.
PROPER CONSIDERATION OF THE LILY
What is it that we are to consider about the lilies? "How they grow!" What does this mean? Jesus Himself answers, "They toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." That is, the lilies grow in a very reasonable way; they develop grace and beauty, and are adorned in robes of loveliness without putting forth unnatural, unusual stress or effort. They are not worried about growing. The lily does not wake up in the morning and say, "Now, I wonder if I can make another quarter of an inch today. I wonder if I shall be able to grow as fast and to look as beautiful as that lily over there; and I wonder what people will think about me." It simply assimilates what it can absorb from the earth, and from the atmosphere what God has provided for it there. It does not say, "I think that I shall go to another place, I cannot grow here," but it does the best it can wherever it happens to be.
The lilies of Palestine to which our Lord referred were evidently not the kind of flowers that we generally term lilies, but were apparently of some other plant family, and a very numerous species, we should judge,
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growing everywhere. Those who are accustomed to the flowers of Palestine point to a common reddish flower which they think was meant by "the lilies of the field."
Our lesson, then, as New Creatures, is that since we have given our hearts to the Lord we are not to be worried, anxious, about the things of the present life. Nor are we to be over-anxious regarding our spiritual growth. We are simply to do our best, and trust the growing to Him. But we are to be particularly engaged respecting the things God has promised us as New Creatures in Christ, that we may make our calling and election sure and attain to the glories which our Father has in reservation for those who love Him. If we give our attention to these things, the Master assures us, the Heavenly Father will so supervise our affairs that we shall not lack any necessity of a spiritual kind or of an earthly kind. He will give us whatever of spiritual blessings and of temporal blessings we need as spirit-begotten children of God that we may finish our course with joy.
We are not to interpret our Lord's words to mean that we are to neglect our proper duties in life; that He would not have us do any more spinning or toiling than the lilies do; that He would not have us labor with our hands and our brains in order to care for our family, home, etc. Surely not! for these things are inculcated in the Word of God. Here, evidently, He is merely impressing us with the thought that while we are doing to the very best of our ability in harmony with the surroundings and conditions which God has provided for us, we are not to be worried. We are to be as free from anxious care as are the lilies, to be fully content and to look up in faith to our Heavenly Father, expecting and accepting His providential care and overruling in all our affairs and interests.
"Just leave all with Him; lilies do, and they grow;
They grow in the rain and they grow in the snow.
Yes, they grow.
They grow in the darkness, all hid in the night,
Or if in the sunshine, revealed by the light,
Still they grow.
They ask not your planting; they need not your care
As they grow;
Dropped down in the valley, the field, anywhere,
There they grow--
In garments of beauty, arrayed in pure white,
All radiant in glory from heaven's own light--
REST AND PEACE IN PERFECT TRUST
God knows all about our circumstances. If we need to be transplanted to another place, into a different kind or soil, where our new nature can better thrive and expand, or where our reasonable, temporal needs can be better obtained, He can arrange for it. He knows just what is good for us, best for us, temporally and spiritually. It is our part to look for His leadings, not attempting to take the helm into our own hands, nor concluding that the Lord will never change our conditions, etc. If it is best for us that they shall be changed, He will change them, if we trust in Him; and surely, if we are His children, it is His will that we desire, not our own! We are to be perfectly restful under whatever conditions or circumstances we find ourselves, restful in the thought, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him."--`Matthew 6:8`.
Will this not mean sometimes strong tests of faith and endurance, if the conditions of our lot are painful and hard to bear? It may be such; but if the Lord's providence does not for a time offer a way of escape, we may be sure that the test will prove one of the "all things" that will work out our good, if we submit sweetly to His will and wait for Him to point out a different way, if it shall seem best to Him. Let us as lilies of His planting, bloom for the glory of our Heavenly Husbandman.
ASKING FOR DAILY NEEDS
While Jesus tells us that we should ask, "Give us this day our daily bread," this is not a specification of what we would prefer to have in a temporal way. We are not to specify things that would be most pleasing to our palate. We are to leave that part to Him. We are merely to acknowledge that we are dependent upon Him for the necessities of life, that we are looking to Him, that we are waiting on His providence and will accept those things which His Wisdom provides as proper for us in connection with the instructions of His Word.
So on we go, growing daily, happy and content in God, and preparing for the Kingdom; for Christians who cannot learn now, under present conditions, to trust in God, would probably not be able to learn this lesson under other conditions. Present conditions are especially helpful, indeed, for those who would cultivate trust, dependence upon the Lord. In this respect we see that the poor have an advantage over the rich; and it was those who were poor, like the lilies of the field, that our Lord Jesus was addressing in the words of our text. And it is to those who are poor in spirit, who realize their own impotency, who long for the rest and peace that Jesus alone can give, who come to Him for this rest, that all the Master's gracious promises and lessons of wisdom, comfort and instruction are given.
"O flower of Heavenly birth, blooming in earthly soil,
Taking on fairest hues from sun and wind and rain,
Soon shall thy beauty grace the Heavenly realms Above,
Transplanted to a fairer clime to bud and bloom again!"
"HOW LONG, OH LORD, HOW LONG?"
How long, oh Lord, how long
Shall weakness serve the strong?
How long shall Might make Right,
And darkness hate the light?
How long, oh Lord, how long,
Till Truth shall crush the wrong,
Till darkness turn to day,
And sorrow flee away?
How long till wars shall cease,
This turmoil end in peace?
How long the sin-cursed Earth
Await her second birth?
How long, Lord, must I feel
The proud oppressor's heel?
I'm weary of the night,
I long for morning light!
I long to see Thy face,
I long for Thine embrace--
How long, Lord, till I come
To my long-promised home?
* * *
Not long, my child, not long;
Be brave, be true, be strong!
The Day-star doth appear,
The Kingdom draweth near!
Look up, my child, look up,
The last drop's in thy Cup!
Trust where thou canst not see--
I soon will call for thee!
GERTRUDE W. SEIBERT.
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"JESUS CHRIST--THE FIRST AND THE LAST"
--DECEMBER 3.--`REVELATION 1:1-8,17-20`.--
THE MESSAGE OF THE RISEN CHRIST--THE APOSTLE JOHN REPRESENTATIVE OF THE FEET-MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF
CHRIST--IN A TRANCE HE SAW A SERIES OF VISIONS OF THE LEADING EVENTS OF THE GOSPEL AGE, THE SEVEN
STAGES OF THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE GOSPEL CHURCH
AND THE SETTING UP OF THE MESSIANIC KINGDOM--A SYMBOLICAL PICTURE OF OUR GLORIFIED LORD--THE WORD
LIKENED TO A TWO-EDGED SWORD.
"Fear not; I am the First and the Last, and the Living
One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for
evermore."--`Verses 17,18`. R.V.
VISIONS are not realities, although symbolically representing them. This is true, whether the visions come as Daniel the Prophet describes his or whether they come in broad daylight, as did the transfiguration scene, which our Lord declared was a vision. (`Daniel 7:1`; `Matthew 17:9`.) The visions granted to St. John, recorded in the Revelation, are in no sense to be understood as realities; and this is the significance of his statement, "I was in the spirit on the Lord's day."
Note the simplicity of the introduction to this most wonderful Book. The Apostle did not write the title as it appears in our Bibles--"The Revelation of St. John the Divine." On the contrary, he claims no credit for the revelation; for it was not his. As he distinctly explains, it was from our Lord Jesus Christ, and to Him from God the Father. Nor was it even to St. John in any special sense; but, as he again declares, unto God's servants, sent by His "servant John." This simplicity, common to all the Apostles, commends them to us as men of humble mind--the very kind we should expect our Lord to use as special messengers to His people. This simplicity, this absence of boastfulness, so noticeable in the writings of all the Apostles, marks them as being in the ministry, not for the gratification of vanity, or for earthly rewards of any kind, but simply as the servants of God, who delighted to do His will, and to tell the Good Tidings, to the utter ignoring of themselves, except in so far as mention of themselves and their affairs might be necessary.
St. John was instructed to write, to make clear, to God's people the things already brought to his attention, and other things subsequently to be thus brought, to the intent that God's people might be enabled to comprehend with all saints the lengths, the breadths, the heights and depths of the Love of God, which passeth understanding, and which can be received only through revelation from God. And here let us note the force of the Apostle's statement (`Verse 3`) to the effect that there is a blessing upon those who read this revelation, even though they do not understand, and a special blessing upon those who hear and understand the words of this prophecy, and who conform their lives to the things therein written.
THE RISEN CHRIST'S MESSAGE
At the time of this vision St. John was a prisoner, exiled to the Isle of Patmos, a penal colony of those days --a rocky, barren island in the Aegean Sea. The crime for which he suffered this banishment was his faithfulness as the Lord's mouthpiece. At the time he must have been about ninety years of age--supposing that none of our Lord's disciples were younger than Himself at the beginning of His ministry.
St. John, the beloved disciple, in some measure or degree represented the last living members of the Body of Christ. Doubtless this was the meaning of our Lord's statement, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" (`John 21:20-23`.) St. John did not tarry; but a class whom in some respects he illustrated are represented as tarrying--a class that see with the eyes of their understanding the visions and revelations which the beloved disciple saw in symbols in a trance.
If, then, St. John's exile in any degree represents ostracism which the Lord's followers may expect in the close of this Age--a complete isolation from others and a treatment implying that they are prisoners--they may take comfort from the thought that as our Lord's favor and revelation to St. John more than offset his persecutions, so the opening of our eyes of understanding and the granting to us of greater knowledge and appreciation of our Lord and of the Divine Plan will far more than offset the various experiences which in His providence God may permit to come upon us. His assurance is that all things shall work together for good to those who love God. Whoever rests his faith securely upon the Divine promise may indeed with the Apostle Paul count all things else as loss and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.--`Philippians 3:8`.
Presumably the Apostle had this vision on the first day of the week, now generally called Sunday. To Christians it is peculiarly the Lord's day--the day on which our Savior rose from the dead, and on which all the promises of God's Word received life and our hopes through Christ were quickened. We may see in the expression also a reference to the Millennial Age, called frequently in Scripture "The Day of the Lord." According to our understanding of Bible chronology we today are living in the early dawn of this Day of Christ; and it is here, properly enough, that we begin to see the wonderful things of the Divine Character and Plan. But to see and to understand we must be "in the spirit." Only those who have become New Creatures in Christ can be expected to appreciate spiritual things; and this is the class which the Apostle John represented.
There are many reasons for concluding that while the messages were given to the seven churches specified, and were applicable to them, nevertheless these messages should properly have a still wider application to the whole Church of Christ, the number seven representing completeness and the order representing different epochs in the history of the Church. Thus the Church at Ephesus would represent the condition of the Church at the time of the writing of the messages; while the Laodicean Church would represent the Church in our day--in the end of the Gospel Age. The other churches would correspondingly represent different epochs intermediate, between then and now.
To think otherwise would be to attach too much importance to these seven comparatively small churches of Asia Minor, and would have implied an ignoring of other churches more influential than they; for instance, the churches at Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, etc. Furthermore, the details of the messages given these churches fit historically the one Church of the Living God, over every member of which our Lord has a care. This thought that the number seven signifies completeness we find emphasized in other symbolical representations--seven spirits, seven golden candlesticks, seven stars, etc.
"THE FIRST-BORN OF THEM THAT SLEPT"
`Verse 5` clearly teaches what the creeds of Christendom ignore, and what is in direct antagonism to their statements; namely, that the risen Christ was "the first born of the dead." That is to say, our Lord was the first to experience a resurrection in the full sense of the word, the first to experience a resurrection to perfection
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and eternal life. Although some before Him were temporally awakened, they relapsed again into death; for they were only partial illustrations of resurrection, to assure men of the Divine Power to accomplish it fully in the due time appointed of God.
`Verse 7` clearly teaches that at the time of our Lord's Second Advent the world will be far from converted to God; for "all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him." Some Scriptures taken disconnectedly seem to teach that the world will be converted before His return; but when God's Word and Plan are viewed as a whole, these will be found to favor the opposite view--that Christ comes before the conversion of the world and for the very purpose of converting all mankind; and that the glorified Church of the Gospel Age shall share with her Lord and Head in His Reign, which is God's appointed means of blessing the world.
Christ and the glorified Church, made "partakers of the Divine nature," will be spirit beings, invisible to men. Our Lord's presence will be manifested to the world by exhibitions of power and great glory. He will not be visible to natural sight, but to the eyes of understanding, as these shall open to an appreciation of the great changes which earth's new Ruler shall effect. His presence and His righteous authority will be recognized in both the punishments and the blessings which will flow to mankind from His Reign.
Our King will reveal Himself gradually. Some will discern the new Ruler sooner than will others. But ultimately "every eye shall see [Greek, horao, discern] Him." But "He cometh with clouds." And while the clouds of trouble hang heavy and dark, when the mountains--kingdoms of this world--are trembling and falling, when the earth--organized society--is being shaken and disintegrated, some will begin to realize that Jehovah's Anointed is taking to Himself His great power and is beginning His work of laying justice to the line and righteousness to the plummet. For He must reign until He shall have put down all authority and laws on earth which are contrary to those controlling in Heaven.
WHAT THE BELOVED DISCIPLE SAW
St. John's attention was first attracted by a trumpet-like voice of Christ from behind him. The fact that its location is mentioned implies that it has a symbolic meaning. It signifies that the beginning of this Message was not in St. John's day, nor in the future, but that the things revealed had already commenced and were already to some extent in the past. As some features of the Revelation show, the voice from behind went back to the time of our Lord's earthly ministry.
Turning and looking, the Apostle saw in symbol what the Lord's people may now see with the eye of faith and understanding. He saw One like a son of man--like a man, like a priest, as implied by the clothes described-- walking amongst seven golden candlesticks, caring for them, trimming the wicks, seeing to the supply of oil, etc. Thus our Lord Jesus, our glorified Master, although absent from us, has protected the interests of His Cause throughout the past eighteen centuries, and has directed respecting His people's affairs, especially inspecting and caring for the Church as a light-bearer, a candlestick. Alas, how poor the wicks have sometimes been! How feeble the light that has sometimes shone out into the darkness of this world! How much trimming has been necessary, and how much more may yet be required!
In the Tabernacle, and subsequently in Solomon's Temple, the Golden Candlestick was placed by the Lord's direction--not seven candlesticks, but one with seven branches, representing the whole Church during this Gospel Age. In the Revelation the same candlestick, or lampstand, is brought to our attention; but the parts are separated--the union, the relationship between them, being supplied by our Redeemer, the antitypical High Priest. The lampstand symbolized the Lord's nominal people of this Gospel Age, including the members of His mystical Body. It holds forth the light of life, which shines in the darkness and which He directed should be let so shine that men might see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.--`Matthew 5:16`.
Alas! The Master evidently found but few good works, found but little glorifying light shining out from His earthly representatives in many of the seven epochs of the history of the Church. This fact is indicated by His messages, chidings, encouragements, etc., given to each of these epoch-churches represented by the different candlesticks, or lampstands. It is to be noted that the candlestick, or lampstand, represents the nominal Church of Christ, rather than the true Church. This is shown by the fact that in addressing each of these churches the Lord finds fault with the many and approves the faithful few, especially so in the last, the seventh, the Laodicean Church of our day.
THE APPEARANCE OF CHRIST
We are not to regard the word picture of `Verses 13-16` as a portrait of our Lord in glory; for it is merely symbolical. When we shall see Him in glory He will not look as here described. Nevertheless this symbolical picture has precious lessons for us, more valuable than an attempt to describe to our minds the appearance of our Lord as a Spirit Being, "dwelling in light which no man can approach unto," and which we cannot appreciate until we shall be changed to "be like Him and to see Him as He is."--`1 John 3:2`; `1 Cor. 15:50-53`.
His head and His hair as white as wool and snow tell us of His wisdom, His splendor and His glory. His eyes like a flame of fire tell us in symbol that our Master is all-seeing, omniscient; that He is not deceived by outward forms and ceremonies; but that He can, and does, read every thought and intent of the heart. The contemplation of His glance should of itself purge and purify our hearts to the extent of our ability, to put far from us everything which would have His disapproval.
Having described the head, St. John mentions the hands and the feet. The remainder of the body was covered with a garment reaching from the head to the feet. This may possibly represent the fact that the glory of Christ was manifested in His own person, in His own ministry, and in that of His Twelve Apostles, His representatives --St. Paul taking the place of Judas; and that with their death the body of Truth was almost veiled throughout the eighteen centuries intervening, until now, in the end of the Age, the Feet members of the Body of Christ will be illuminated by the Truth and will shine forth--not like the Head, but as polished brass.
THE MASTER'S COMFORTING MESSAGE
When we think of the great advantage which we of the present day possess, we are inclined to say, "What manner of persons ought we to be in all holiness of living and God-likeness!" We have shining upon us with almost burning brightness the focused rays of Divine inspiration and revelation from the past 6,000 years. How it should consume in us all the dross of selfishness! How it should purify us! How humble it should make us! Even in our flesh we should be polished, bright, luminous representatives of our glorious Lord and Head.
The countenance of the majestic One present amongst
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the candlesticks is said to be like lightning. So great was the splendor that St. John fell as dead when he beheld it, just as Daniel did in the presence of the mighty One whom he saw, and just as Saul of Tarsus did before the majesty presented to him. (`Daniel 10:4-11`; `Acts 9:3-9`.) So it is symbolically with the Christian, when once he gets a glimpse of the glories of the Divine character. When once we get a true view of Him with whom we have to do, as the great Heart-searcher and Caretaker of His Church, we fall before Him, humbled to the dust, realizing that we are imperfect, that we cannot stand before our Master, that we are unworthy of His favor and blessing.
But as our Lord touched St. John gently, raising him up, so He has spoken to us comfort, peace and love, assuring us that we have a High Priest that can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, One who is able to sympathize and mercifully to assist, One who has bought us with His own precious blood, and who has accepted us and will number us as His Body members as long as we abide in Him, seeking in our hearts to know and to do His will. To us His comforting assurance is:
(1) "Fear not." The same message the Father has sent us through the Prophet, saying, "Their fear of Me is not of Me, but is taught by the precepts of men." (`Isaiah 29:13`.) This is one of the first lessons which we must learn. We cannot come into close sympathy with our Lord and be taught of Him respecting other features of His Plan until we learn to fear not, learn to have confidence in Him as the One "who loved us and bought us with His own precious blood," and whose purposes toward us continually are for our welfare and, if we submit ourselves to His guidance, will bring us off conquerors and more than conquerors.
(2) "I am the First and the Last." We must recognize that our Lord is the One who was the beginning of the creation of God and the end of it, the One by whom are all things, the One who is next to the Father, His very Representative in everything pertaining to the affairs of the Universe. (`Colossians 1:15`; `Revelation 3:14`; `John 1:1-3`; `1 Corinthians 8:6`.) (3) We must recognize Him as the One who was dead, the One who really died for our sins, but who was as really raised out of death by the Father. (4) We must realize that He is alive for evermore, that death has no more dominion over Him, that the work is finished, that neither sacrifices of the Mass nor death in any sense or form ever will be needed. His work is perfect; and, as He cried on the Cross, "It is finished!"
(5) We must recognize that He has the keys, the authority, the power over the tomb, to deliver from it all who are therein imprisoned. We must also realize that He has the key, the power over death, in order that those whom He liberates from the prison-house of death, like those who have not yet gone into the tomb, but who are under the death sentence, may all be ultimately delivered, set free from the dominion of Sin and Death, delivered into the full liberty of the Sons of God--righteousness and life everlasting.--`Romans 8:21`.
"IN HIS RIGHT HAND SEVEN STARS"
This One whom we thus know, thus recognize, as the Instructor and Caretaker of the candlesticks, we are also to recognize as having in His right hand--in His favor as well as His power--seven stars, the angels, the messengers, of the seven Churches. Apparently the stars represent special ministers, or servants of the Church. In `Revelation 12:1` the Church is pictured as a Woman crowned with twelve stars. These stars evidently represent the Twelve Apostles as the special lights of the Church. Similarly, in the picture before us, the seven stars which the Lord holds in His right hand seem to represent special light-bearers in the Church--in each of its seven phases or stages of development. That they are in His right hand seems to teach us that these should be considered as in some special sense under the Master's guidance, protection and care in the interest of the Churches which they represented.
It will be noticed that the messages to the various Churches are addressed to these stars, messengers, angels, as though our Lord would have us understand that the appropriate message for each appropriate epoch in the Church's experience would be sent by the Lord through a particular star, or messenger, whom He would especially commission as His representative. Our Lord Himself is represented by the great light of the sun; and His special messengers in the Church throughout the entire period of the Gospel Age are consistently enough represented as stars.
The difference between the symbols of the star and the candlestick is manifest. The star light is the Heavenly light, the spiritual enlightenment or instruction. The lamp light is the earthly light, representing good works, obedience, etc., of those who nominally constitute the Lord's Church in the world, and who are exhorted not to put their light under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, and to let it so shine that it will glorify their Father in Heaven.
No part of the description could more thoroughly convince us that the description of our Lord given here is a symbolic one than does the statement that out of His mouth proceeded a two-edged sword. As a symbolic picture, however, it is full of meaning, speaking to us of the Word of the Lord, the Sword of the Spirit, "sharper than any two-edged sword." (`Ephesians 6:17`; `Hebrews 4:12`.) It reminds us that our Lord's words are not one-sided, not directed merely against sin in one class, but that His word is sharp, cutting in every direction, that sin is reproved by Him as much when found in His most earnest followers as when found elsewhere. It assures us that none need attempt to pluck out the mote from his brother's eye without first getting rid of the beam in his own eye; and that if we do not show mercy to those who are our debtors we must not expect mercy from Him who has proposed to extend His mercy toward us.
How heart-searching is God's Word when we understand it--not merely as a compendium of rules and regulations, but when we catch the spirit of it! Then we come to see that its requirement is love out of a pure heart; first, to the Heavenly Father; secondly, to our Lord and Head; thirdly, to all His brethren; fourthly, to the world in general, groaning and travailing in pain, waiting for the blessings of the coming Day of Christ; and fifthly, toward our enemies also, sympathetically realizing that they are warped, twisted and blinded through the deceitfulness of sin and through the machinations of the great Adversary.--`2 Corinthians 4:4`.
"Blessed Bible, precious Word!
Boon most sacred from the Lord;
Glory to His name be given,
For this choicest gift from Heaven.
"'Tis a ray of purest light,
Beaming through the depths of night;
Brighter than ten thousand gems
Of the costliest diadems.
"'Tis a fountain, pouring forth,
Streams of life to gladden earth,
Whence eternal blessings flow--
Antidote for human woe.
"'Tis a mine, aye, deeper, too,
Than can mortal ever go;
Search we may for many years,
Still some new, rich gem appears."
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"FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH"
--DECEMBER 10.--`REVELATION 2:1-17`.--
THE REVELATION A BOOK OF SYMBOLS--SEVEN SUCCESSIVE STAGES IN THE HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH SYMBOLIZED
BY "THE SEVEN CHURCHES WHICH ARE IN ASIA"
--THE NAMES OF THE CHURCHES CHARACTERISTIC--THE
GREAT FALLING AWAY--THE TRUE CHURCH CALLED "OVERCOMERS"--THE LORD'S RETURN DURING THE LAODICEAN
PERIOD OF CHURCH HISTORY.
"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will
give thee the Crown of Life."--`Verse 10`.
WHILE the messages given to the seven churches specified in the Revelation were doubtless applicable to them, they properly have a still wider application to the entire Gospel Church, the number seven representing completeness. The `Book of Revelation` is a book of symbols, which our Lord "sent and signified [told it in signs and symbols] by His angel unto His servant John." (`Revelation 1:1`.) Bible students know that the book abounds in symbols, or signs; and we are satisfied that these are the rule, and that the literal is the exception, being used only when unavoidable.
To be in harmony, then, with the rest of the book, "the seven churches which are in Asia" must be symbolic; and as the book is chiefly history written beforehand, they must symbolize seven successive stages in the history of the Christian Church, covering the period between the First Advent and the Second Coming of Christ. The fulfilment, we think, proves the correctness of this position.
In the `first chapter` we have a description of "One like unto a son of man," as seen in vision by the Apostle John. Some one or more of the features of this description would seem to be peculiarly appropriate to each of the successive stages of the Church; and in each case He who sends the message is thus described. The last part of each message is a promise to the "overcomers," and is also adapted to the different periods of Church history.
To give a bird's-eye view of the arrangement, we would notice their chronological position. Ephesus covers the period during the lives of the Apostles; Smyrna, the time of the Pagan persecution, reaching to about 325 A.D., when Constantine became Emperor of Rome and declared in favor of Christianity. Pergamos embraces the transition period during which the Papacy had its rise; Thyatira, the space during which the true Church was in the wilderness, and the Apostate Church sat as a queen and lived deliciously with the kings of the earth. Sardis includes a short interval just before the Reformation; Philadelphia, the period from the Reformation until recent times; and Laodicea, the nominal Church of today.
MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS
The word Ephesus means first, desirable. During this period our Lord "holdeth the seven stars in His right hand," etc. (`Chapter 1:20`.) The messengers of the Churches--St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John, etc.--were so powerfully led and kept in the grasp of our Lord Jesus during this epoch that we accept their teachings as His, believing that their words were really His words. This stage of the Church is commended for its faithful, patient labor and for its discernment of Truth and true teachers. --`Acts 20:28-30`; `1 Cor. 11:19`.
It was characteristic of this period that "they forsook all and followed Him." They took joyfully the spoiling of their goods. They sold what they had and gave to those in want. Though often deprived of the bread of this present life, they not only had the Living Bread, but had the promise of "the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." It will be remembered that all the trees in Eden were trees of life, but that the one in the midst of the Garden was then a forbidden tree, the disobedient eating of which brought death upon Adam and all his race. That tree in the midst of Paradise was called "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"; and our Lord's promise in today's Study is that the overcomers of the Gospel Age shall have full liberty to partake of that tree under most blessed and satisfactory conditions, when the knowledge will be of benefit to them under Divine approval, and will not then bring a curse.
TO THE CHURCH OF SMYRNA
Smyrna means bitter. Myrrh and Marah are kindred words. This stage of the Christian Church was the period of most bitter persecution, under the Roman Emperors from Nero to Diocletian. In His message to the Church of this epoch our Lord styles Himself "the First and the Last, which was dead and is alive." In no other sense or way could He be the First and the Last than as the only direct creation of the Father, through whom all else was created. Any other view would be in conflict with the Scriptures.--`Revelation 3:14`; `Colossians 1:15`; `1 Corinthians 8:6`; `John 1:1-3`, Diaglott.
"The Devil shall cast some of you into prison that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation ten days." Thus the Lord informed His faithful servants of this period that theirs would be a time of great persecution. Pagan Rome, here symbolized as the Devil, has been the most devilish of all earthly governments, when viewed in the light of its bloody persecutions. The ten symbolic days refer to the last and most severe persecution under the Roman Emperors--that of the reign of Diocletian, A.D. 303-313. Those who have read the history of this period can understand the depths of the words, "that ye may be tried." Some of the most sublime pictures of Christian endurance that the world has ever seen were enacted during the Smyrna period of the Church. The call was for faithfulness unto death; the promise was that the overcomers should "not be hurt of the Second Death," but should receive the Crown of Life--immortality.
TO THE CHURCH OF PERGAMOS
Pergamos means an earthly elevation. The Speaker is "He who hath the sharp Sword with two edges" [Greek, two-mouthed]--the Word of God. During this period, while the nominal Church was growing popular, the true Christians were tested and proved by the introduction and development of Pagan and Papal ideas. The Pagan
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priests, unwilling to lose their positions of honor and influence amongst the people, sought to bend their ideas to fit the new religion. Thus while nominally professing Christianity, they brought many of their former ideas with them into the Christian Church. These were eventually grafted upon the true stock--"the faith once delivered to the saints."--`Jude 3`.
Thus gradually the Church was led into error, evil practises, and away from God. This is what is meant in `Verse 14` by the allusion to Balaam and Balak. It will be remembered that Balaam, who had been a prophet of God, instructed King Balak how to tempt Israel to sin, and thus brought about what he could not accomplish by his own powers. (`Numbers 23`; `24`; `31:16`.) So these Pagan priests taught the Church to indulge in spiritual fornication, and thus brought upon her the withering blight of the wrath of God.
The "doctrine of the Nicolaitans" seems to be the theory of lordship or headship in the Church. The strife as to who should be greatest existed amongst many of the patriarchs--fathers--of the prominent churches. At their councils there was a bitter fight for supremacy. The
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tendency was toward an earthly head, and of course many coveted the honor. The patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople and Rome were the most prominent. The first two dropped out of the conflict, but the strife continued for several hundred years between Constantinople and Rome. It was settled only by a division of the Church: the Eastern, or Greek Church, accepting the Patriarch of Constantinople for its head; and the Western, or Papal Church, acknowledging the Bishop--Pope or Father--of Rome.
Many of the true followers of the Master in the churches denounced this attempt to disobey the direct command of Jesus, "Call no man father." (`Matthew 23:9`.) Of course, they received the promised persecution. (`2 Timothy 1:12`.) This class in Pergamos is commended by our Lord under the symbol of "Anti-pas, My faithful martyr." In the Greek, anti means against, and Papas signifies father. In this stage of the development of the Church those who sought to be popular received the emoluments of the Church; but the promise to the overcomers is that of pleasure and honor that shall be eternal.
THE CHURCH OF THYATIRA
Thyatira seems to mean "the sweet perfume of sacrifice." It was the period of Papal persecution. The virgin Church was enduring the hardships of the wilderness; while the apostate Church sat on the throne of her royal paramour. The message is sent by Him "who hath eyes like a flame of fire," to watch over His faithful ones as they wandered through the dark valleys or hid in the darker caves of earth; and "feet of hard brass," to walk by their side as they scaled the rugged mountains or wandered footsore and weary, seeking a place to plant the seeds of Truth.
The message contains an allusion to a faithful old Prophet who fled for his life into the wilderness from the wrath of the idolatrous wife of a king. The picture is from the history of the Prophet Elijah. (`1 Kings 18`; `19`.) Jezebel was the protector of the priests of Baal. Her husband was king, and she wielded his power for her own ends. The drouth of three and one-half years was evidently a type of the "time, times and a half"--1260 years--of the spiritual famine, "not of bread nor of water, but of hearing the words of the Lord."--`Amos 8:11`.
THE LORD'S SECOND COMING
Sardis is said to mean that which remains, as if it signified a useless remnant, something out of which life or virtue had gone. The nominal Church during this period had the appearance of being what it was not, having a form of godliness without its power. Sardis was the remains of the true Church, which had been driven into the wilderness; but when the persecution began to subside, her zeal also abated. Persecution has always developed the vigor of the Church.
Many today have the Sardis characteristics. To such there is a fatal warning in `Revelation 3:3`. Seven times our Lord's Second Coming is described as being thief-like, stealthy. Only to those who are watching is the approach of a thief known. Those who are asleep will be awakened only after he has taken full possession, after his work of destruction has progressed. Although they may then arouse themselves, it is too late. They have been overtaken. Thus our Lord will be present, but invisible and unknown--except to the watchers--for some years after His arrival; and His presence will be recognized by the sleepers only as the noise of spoiling the Strong Man's House gradually increases. Then slowly will they realize what it is and what the outcome will be.
The reason why many professing Christians cannot recognize our Lord's Parousia--presence--is that they are looking for a fleshly Christ, visible to the fleshly eye, and making an imposing demonstration which they cannot mistake. Failing to realize the fact that spiritual bodies cannot be seen by human eyes without a miracle, they cannot understand how He can be present while "all things continue as they were since the beginning of creation." (`2 Peter 3:3,4`.) Thus they are unable to understand "the signs of the times," revealing His return.
THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA
Philadelphia means brotherly love, as is well known. This stage of the Church's history evidently began at the Reformation; and there are many still living who possess the characteristics described.
There is considerable similarity between the work begun on Pentecost and that of Luther and his friends. The Reformation was, in a sense, the beginning of a new era, a dawning of light where all had been darkness, the separation of the true from the false, and a new start in the way of Truth. No doubt all the powers of Satan were exerted to close the door then opened; but "He that is true" had said, "which no man can shut." Compared with the mighty hosts of their enemies, the little band of Reformers had but "a little strength"; but they knew that they had the Truth, and they fully trusted the Giver. Thus the Master could say, "Thou hast kept My Word, and hast not denied My name."
During the Philadelphian period, especially during the first and the last phases of it, the faithful have either been obliged to come out of the nominal temple or have been cast out for their straight testimony. The reward promised them is that they will be, not simply an unimportant part, but a vital one--a pillar in the true and eternal Temple--a part which cannot be removed while the structure exists. During their trial state their names were cast out as evil. They were branded as infidels and heretics. They were not recognized as children of God, as citizens of the Heavenly Country, as Christians. All this is to be reversed. "The Lord knoweth them that are His," and in due time will fully and eternally acknowledge them.
THE NOMINAL CHURCH OF TODAY
Laodicea is interpreted to mean a tried, or judged people. The description shows us that they were tried and found wanting. If we understand Christ's meaning in this message, it is sent particularly to those who profess His name, but deny the Truth which He Himself here presents. Let those who read this special message do so with special care.
"The Beginning of the creation of God." "What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He?" (`Matthew 22:42`.) This question has had many answers. More Bible and less hymn-book theology would have made the subject clearer to all. The doctrine of the trinity is totally opposed to Scripture, and has not even one reasonable text to support it when the well-known interpolation of `1 John 5:7` is discarded and when `John 1:1` is properly understood. We suggest that any reader who does not see this subject clearly should read carefully and prayerfully the `17th chapter of St. John's Gospel.`
The Message to the Laodicean stage of the Church pictures the nominal Church of today as our Lord sees her. In one sense she is not cold. She has much zeal, but not according to knowledge. She has organized her armies, developed her machinery and multiplied her stores; but yet the enemy does not fall before her. She claims that her principal object is to convert sinners, to bring forth spiritual children. The Prophet puts these words into the mouth of nominal Christians when they
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awake to a knowledge of the situation: "We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the earth fallen." (`Isaiah 26:16-18`.) This is said after they have realized the presence of the Lord.
We should not look for light where little remains but the fading reflections of a former glory. The sickly hue which now appears is only the smoke illuminated by the piercing rays from the Hand which, high upon the wall, is writing, "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN." (`Daniel 5:25-28`.) Unknown to the Laodicean Church, our Lord has returned. He has stood at the door and knocked. Had they been awake, they would have heard. Our Lord clearly foretold that He would come as a thief; but He did not tell at what hour.
While the nominal church is still seemingly in power, while the old glory still hangs about her, while it is still respectable and honorable to be a church member, the Little Flock of Truth-seekers are despised and rejected. They are covered with reproach because they dare to point out the faults of a worldly church. They are looked down upon by her who sits as a proud queen, lifted up in order that she may have the greater fall.--`Revelation 18:7,21`.
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SOME ITEMS OF INTEREST
THE WAR OBSESSION
"Does it not strike you that a most dangerous worldwide psychological condition is being created by the war in Europe? War is too rapidly becoming a fixed and normal condition; men and women are becoming too easily adapted to that condition.
"The people of the warring powers, not alone the soldiers, but the stay-at-homes, are accepting death on the firing line as inevitable and as good a way as any to die. The prayers for peace have been superseded by a grim determination on both sides to fight to a finish; to continue the war as the PERMANENT business of the nation. In the meantime crops are being raised almost normal, business is being conducted as usual, and even social functions are being resumed.
"The attitude of Europe is being reflected over here. While still persistently declaring our principles of peace, war in our heart of hearts does not appear near so horrible to us as it did three, two, or one year ago. Are we not being insidiously inoculated with the war germ?
"We may be forced into war, no matter how we struggle against it, but as a decent, Christian people let us not accept it as other than a horrible catastrophe. Without this country to lead in persistent efforts for peace a complaisant mental attitude toward war may soon become chronic all over the world; it is almost so in Europe now." --Cleveland Press.
"WITH THE SKIN OF MY TEETH"
The following is a partial synopsis of the description of the teeth-membrane or skin, in "Tomes' Dental Anatomy," 1904, Fourth edition, London. It shows that Job and the learned of his day were far from being monkey-men. Until lately Job's words were considered a joke by dentists as well as others. The Bible is a wonderful book.
"Under the names of Nasmyth's Membrane, Enamel, Cuticle, or persistent dental capsule, a structure is described about which much difference of opinion has been, and indeed still is, expressed. Over the enamel of the crown of a human or other mammalian tooth, the crown of which is not coated with a thick layer of cementum, there is an exceedingly thin membrane, the existence of which can only be demonstrated by the use of acids, which cause it to become detached from the surface of the enamel. When thus isolated it is found to form a continuous transparent sheet, upon which, by staining with Nitrate of Silver, a reticulated pattern may be brought out as though it were made of Epithelial cells. It is exceedingly thin, Kolliker attributing it to a thickness of only one twenty-thousandth of an inch; but, nevertheless, it is very indestructible, resisting the action of strong Nitric or Hydrochloric Acid and only swelling slightly when boiled in Caustic Potash."
WE ARE publishing early this year, as usual, a list of our stock suitable for Holiday Gifts. This will enable the friends to send their orders in good time to avoid the later congestion of the mail and express service.
Remember that our Gifts should always in some measure represent us as ambassadors of Christ:
"Studies in the Scriptures." India paper edition, fine sealskin binding, gold edges, light, small, beautiful, per set, $9.80 in cloth carton.
"Studies in the Scriptures." Morocco, over boards, gold edges, but on paper the same as the ordinary cloth edition, suitable for book-shelf, $6 (1L 5s) for six volumes, postpaid.
"Studies," Volume I., with Pyramid Chapter added. This special edition is very suitable for presentation to uninterested friends. Many have had their interest awakened by the reading of the Pyramid Chapter. A picture of the Great Pyramid is stamped in gilt on the front cover. We recommend this Volume for gift purposes. Postpaid 50c. (2s 1d).
Daily Heavenly Manna. Cloth-bound edition, prepaid, 60c. Prices on "Studies" and Manna to Colporteurs and to I.B.S.A. Classes in lots of 50 or more, charges collect, will be one-half of the above mentioned prepaid rates.
"Poems of Dawn." Nearly three hundred very choice poems topically divided, the very thing each should have near him for a leisure moment. The value of these as spiritual stimulants is inestimable. They can be appreciated by all Christians, though of course especially by those possessing a knowledge of Present Truth. Postpaid in karatol, red edges, 50c; leather-bound, gold edges, 75c.
"In the Garden of the Lord." This little booklet is a choice poem from the pen of Sister Seibert. It contains sixteen colored illustrations, twenty-four pages. Postpaid 6c. (3rd) each; per dozen 65c. (2s 8d).
Choice Motto Cards for home embellishment and spiritual refreshment:
Packet Ma--Twelve mottoes, small and medium, postpaid 50c.
Number Mb--Fourteen medium and small cards, $1.
Number Mc--Thirteen large, medium and small cards, $1.
Number Md--Four large and medium cards, $1.
Where $5 worth of these are sent to one address the saving in packing and expressage would be 60c., making the price $4.50. Order by number only.
Postcards. Assorted mottoes and designs, 15c. (7 1/2d) per doz; two dozen, 25c. (1s 1/2d); 100 for $1.
Scripture Memorizing Cards. We have two different sets of these--No. 1 and No. 2. Colors of the cards indicate the topic. For instance, purple represents royalty and the Kingdom, garnet represents the redeeming blood, etc. On one side of the cards are texts appropriate to the color. On the reverse side of the card is the citation of where it is found. These can be used personally or with a company of friends. The design is to commit the text to memory and its citation. Many have found these very useful. Fifty cards to the pack, 25c. (1s 1d) per pack, postpaid.
Write your letters and correct P. O. address very plainly; also give name of nearest express office and company.
Write your orders on a separate sheet of paper from your letter. If answering a letter marked File A, File R, or otherwise, refer to it in the opening paragraph of your letter.
By observing these simple requests, delay will be avoided.
"I.B.S.A." BIBLES, BIBLE STUDY HELPS, ETC.
First in this list we mention the several volumes of
"STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES" SERIES
[SEE OPPOSITE PAGE]
We commend also, as aids, the following publications (not all our own), which we supply at specially low prices because of the assistance they lend to the study of God's Word. We mention these somewhat in the order in which they seem to us to be desirable aids.
OUR SPECIAL "I.B.S.A." BIBLE
Hereafter to distinguish our own special edition from other Bibles, we will refer to it as the "I.B.S.A." Bible. This Bible is becoming more and more indispensable to all readers as they learn how to use it. The translation, of course, is not at all different from that of other Bibles of the Common Version. We specially recommend it for its smallness of size, lightness of weight, and good-sized print, and above all for the helps to Bible students and teachers bound with it; printed on India paper; excellent press work. Its special feature, distinguishing this Bible from all others, is
BIBLE TEACHERS' MANUAL.
Biblical Comments from Genesis to Revelation with references to the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES and others of our publications showing the page where the text is more fully discussed and elaborated. We can scarcely imagine anything more helpful than these for Bible study. It is so easy to turn to the reference and ascertain if the matter has been treated and where and how. It represents four hundred and eighty-one pages of matter.
INSTRUCTORS' GUIDE TEXTS.
This is a topical arrangement of Bible subjects specially convenient for those who have opportunity for teaching others the Divine Plan of the Ages. Its various Topics are arranged under distinct headings and the various texts bearing upon the subjects are collated. With this help a novice has at his command, well-furnished, "the Sword of the Spirit." It is in condensed form, very convenient, consists of eighteen pages solid matter.
BEREAN TOPICAL INDEX.
The Berean Topical Index, alphabetically arranged, presents a large variety of subjects showing references to the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES and others of our publications treating the same. This feature covers twenty-eight pages.
DIFFICULT TEXTS EXPLAINED.
SPURIOUS PASSAGES NOTED.
In this, specially difficult texts are brought to the attention and references given showing where they are treated in our publications. Following this is a full list of various interpolations and spurious passages of the Scriptures not in the original MSS., as proved by the oldest Greek MSS.--fifteen pages.
These four features, representing five hundred and forty-two pages, are not to be found in any other Bibles on earth and, in our opinion, they are of almost priceless value. One of our interested readers if he could not procure another would not sell his copy for a hundred dollars--many of them surely would not take thousands for it.
All of our "I.B.S.A." Bibles contain the above, and some of them, the numbers of which end with a nine, contain additionally Bagster's Bible Study Helps, including an alphabetical index of proper names and Bagster's Bible Concordance and Maps--a total of one hundred and eighty-six pages.
We not only supply these Bibles at cost price, but, because of the large quantities ordered at a time, we are enabled to secure a cost price which is really phenomenal. The very low prices must not lead you to think that these are manufactured in any slipshod manner. They are first class in every particular. The prices are, many of them, less than one-half of what you pay for such books almost anywhere else.
So great is the demand for these "I.B.S.A." Bibles that hereafter we purpose carrying no others in stock except pocket Bibles and large type Bibles for the aged. We will still, however, be pleased to serve anyone who desires other Bibles. We can procure for these wholesale rates, usually twenty-five per cent. off, plus postage.
DESCRIPTION AND PRICES--"I.B.S.A." BIBLES
No. 1918, $1.85, postage prepaid, is a beautiful book. It is small and light. Size 4 3/4 x 6 3/4 inches. It has minion type, red under gold edges, divinity circuit. French Seal. Looks like the genuine sealskin, but it is in reality good sheepskin.
No. 1919, price $1.95, postage prepaid; the same book, the same Bible; the same every way, except the addition of Bagster Helps, Concordance, etc., making this size a trifle larger.
No. 1928, price $2.85, postage prepaid. This is the same book exactly as No. 1918, except that it has genuine morocco binding; leather-lined.
LITTLE LARGER, IONIC TYPE, SELF-PRONOUNCING
No. 1939, price $2.25, postage prepaid. This is the same book as 1919, the same binding and contents, but it has a coarser print and is a little larger book. Size, 5 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches.
No. 1959, price $3.85, postage prepaid. This is the same book as 1939, except that it has splendid morocco binding, is calf-lined and silk-sewed. Bibles similar in quality and finish are listed in many catalogues at $8.
The sale of these books is not restricted to WATCH TOWER readers. They are valuable aids in Bible study and open to the public.
BIBLE STUDY HELPS (BOUND SEPARATE).
These are the same as in the latest "I.B.S.A." Bibles, described above. Full leather, divinity circuit, $1.15; Karatol, red edge, 60c., postpaid. Also in German (leather), $1.15; (cloth), 60c.
Remit with order. We can secure such prices only by paying spot cash and must sell on the same terms. Insurance, 10c additional.
Anyone ordering patent index on any of these Bibles should so state and should add twenty-five cents to the price.
Should any desire other Bibles we will be pleased to supply publishers' catalogue, giving full description and prices. We are usually able to secure a discount of 25 per cent. on the publishers' list prices.
THE EMPHATIC DIAGLOTT
This Greek New Testament, with interlinear, word-for-word rendering, and a free-reading emphasized translation alongside, based upon the famous Vatican Manuscript, No. 1209, is a very valuable work. Originally published under the author's copyright by Fowler & Wells Co., New York City, it was sold by them at $4 in cloth and $5 in half-leather binding. For several years a friend, an earnest Bible student, desirous of assisting the readers of our Society's publications, has supplied them through us at a greatly reduced price; now he has purchased the copyright and plates from the Fowler & Wells Co., and presented the same to our Society as a gift that the poor of the Lord's flock may have this help in the study of the Word.
REDUCED PRICE.--Hereafter we will have the Diaglott in leather binding only, divinity circuit, Bible paper, and have reduced the price to $2.00 (8s. 5d.), postpaid. We offer THE WATCH TOWER for a year as a premium, with each order for the Diaglott, if it is a new subscription.
LEESER'S TRANSLATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
This is the standard translation amongst English reading Hebrews, by one of their own rabbis. It is not perfect, but is a valuable aid in critical study of the Old Testament. Our special price, in leather binding, including postage, is $1.10.
ANALYTICAL CONCORDANCE TO THE SCRIPTURES
In English, Hebrew and Greek, by Prof. Young (Presbyterian). 1240 pages. A valuable work for all critical students. We are not permitted by the publishers to cut their price, but we may and do give in addition, postage free, any two volumes of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, cloth binding, with each Concordance. Postpaid, cloth binding, $6.
SMITH'S BIBLE DICTIONARY
This is one of the most desirable editions of Prof. Smith's work. It is a large volume of 1,020 pages. Cloth binding, $1.30, including postage.
*DAILY HEAVENLY MANNA
FOR THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH
The demand for this publication increases year by year.
Our present edition of the "Manna" contains the same texts and comments as all former editions. Every alternate leaf is blank-ruled for use as an autograph and birthday record. Its value increases as additional autographs of friends are secured. It is printed on fine bond paper.
The following wholesale rates postpaid are granted to all WATCH TOWER subscribers:
Purple cloth, gold embossed, gilt edges;
English and Polish...... $0.60
Dark blue cloth, silver embossed, German......................... .60
Leatherette, blue edges, Swedish and Norwegian................... .60
Leatherette, genuine gold edges, Swedish and Norwegian........... 1.10
Genuine Morocco, gold edges, English, Polish and Norwegian....... 2.00
We hope this little book will find a place at every breakfast table, that spiritual refreshment may thus be enjoyed with the natural food.
*SCENARIO OF CREATION DRAMA
The ninety-six short, pithy lectures of the Creation Drama can be supplied in print as follows:
IN ENGLISH AND FINNISH:
De Luxe, gold edges, embossed, 400 illustrations.......$1.00 postpaid
Cloth, burnished edges, embossed, 400 illustrations.... .65
" Paper in three booklets, complete; per set............. .25
" A Newspaper edition in 4 Parts......................... .05
" IN GERMAN, SPANISH, ITALIAN, GREEK, POLISH, ARMENIAN:
Cloth bound, complete.................................. .65
" Paper " " .................................. .25
" Newspaper edition, 3 Parts, 2c ea.; per set............ .05
" IN SWEDISH: Newspaper edition only, 2c ea.; per set...... .05 "
Hymns of Dawn, with music (cloth)...................................$ .35
Hymns of Dawn, without music (flexible)............................. .10
Poems of Dawn (Karatol)............................................. .50
Poems of Dawn (Leather)............................................. .75
Bible Talks in Simple Language (half leather)....................... 1.25
Bible Talks in Simple Language (half leather)....................... 1.25
Memorizing Text-Cards (100 in pkg.--assortments, Nos. 1 and 2),
per pkg........................................................... .30
Scriptural Post Cards (assorted), doz. 15c; per 100................. 1.00
CHARTS (Blue Prints, soft cloth):
Plan of the Ages, 5 ft. $1.85; 8 ft............................... 2.50
Chronology of the Bible, 7 1/2 ft................................. 2.00
Tabernacle of the Wilderness, 7 1/2 ft............................ 2.00
BINDERS for THE WATCH TOWER:
Spring Back (holds 1 yr.)......................................... .60
CROSS & CROWN PINS (Gold, with red enamel):
5/8"--No. 1 Ladies' Style, No. 2 Gents', each..................... 1.15
1/2"--No. 3 Gents' Style, No. 4 Ladies', each..................... 1.00
5/8" celluloid, per doz., .25; each............................... .03
Missionary Envelopes, per 100 .30; per 1000......................... 3.00
Vow Bookmarks (paper) per 100 .25; (silk) each...................... .05
*Booklets (on Hell, Spiritism, Evolution, Tabernacle Shadows, Our
Lord's Return..................................................... .10
*Question Booklets on each Vol. of SCRIPTURE STUDIES and on
THE TABERNACLE, each .07; per doz................................. .84
Report on Foreign Missions, each.................................... .05
THE WATCH TOWER, (semi-monthly) per year............................ 1.00
The Divine Plan of the Ages (Za), WATCH TOWER form, ea.............. .10
What Say the Scriptures about Hell (Hz), WATCH TOWER form, ea....... .05
Judge Rutherford's Defense of Pastor Russell, each 10c, per 100..... 8.00
THE BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY, per year................................ .12
Tracts in all languages............................................. FREE
*Colporteurs and Class Secretaries may deduct one-half from above prices on MANNAS, BOOKLETS and SCENARIOS if shipment consists of 50 or more volumes, charges collect.
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WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS
MY DEARLY BELOVED PASTOR:--
As is expressed by so many dear friends writing you, we hesitate to intrude upon your consecrated time. We regret that too often during the past fourteen years we have needlessly done so. We now pray that God shall overrule all our mistakes for the good of His cause and our own spiritual advancement.
We are now perplexed over some matters concerning what we should do in the Harvest work, and after praying over the matter, feel directed of the Lord to lay it before you, and abide by what you think best. We will try to be brief.
(1) Reading and accepting Present Truth in 1902, I was very zealous for about one year to hand out tracts and tell the "good tidings." Finding that the people generally did not care to hear it and having a growing family to support, I lost my zeal, became interested in worldly affairs, with the result that after a season of measurable prosperity in which I failed, painfully, to contribute to God's cause as I should, I found myself a bankrupt and in debt in 1912. I accepted the chastisement as of the Lord, returned to my "first love," and was not rejected (what wonderful mercy!), putting my trust in Him for temporal welfare as well as spiritual. He has guided and guarded our interests to the extent that we have been able to provide things needful in an honorable way (farming). Our family of seven children are growing--our oldest, a girl of fifteen years, thoroughly consecrated, and two boys younger than she, thirteen and eleven years respectively, are manifesting a deep interest in God's Word. We are thus enabled to have the Bethel exercises each morning, with lessons from the SCRIPTURE STUDIES and TABERNACLE SHADOWS alternately every evening before retiring. We are at present somewhat isolated, except for one dear brother near us whom the Lord brought into the light through our humble ministry. We have no class connections except our own home. Our questions follow:
(1) Opportunities are presenting themselves for giving public talks in small towns around us, which, when we have accepted them, seem to have stirred up an interest to the extent that the congregation increases and some are giving evidences of full acceptance of the Truth. There are brethren in large Classes who could and would as Elders do this work at a considerably greater expense than myself, owing to distance, etc. Since I have no Class direction should I call upon those brethren, or do this work myself--especially when going to a small place where we have no assurance of a good turnout?
(2) If I continue to do this service should I report to the Bible House each meeting held, number in attendance, number manifesting interest, etc.?
(3) We note that you advise that only such as are able to answer the late list of questions be considered as eligible to Eldership. We have sent in our answers to these questions, but have not heard as to what grade we made. We are sure since sending them in that we were not quite clear on one or two, at least. We kept a copy of the questions and are making a study of them, and find them very helpful. We also believe this is a timely test directed of God to provide thorough shepherds for His flock, and shall be glad to abide by the outcome of our examination.
(4) Considering the fact that we have lessons each day in the week at home, would it be proper for my family to sacrifice my leadership to other work on Sundays?
Praying every day for you, dear Brother, that you may receive strength, courage and wisdom from above to continue in the way until He shall say, "It is enough," and soliciting an interest in your prayers,
I am sincerely your brother in hope, -----.
OUR REPLY:--We rejoice with you that the Lord did not permit you to drift away from Him, but gave you experiences which directed you, and brought you important lessons.
We quite approve your course of going forth every Sunday, or whenever convenient opportunity may afford, to neighboring villages and towns, to spread the knowledge of God's Word and of the Divine "Plan of the Ages." We are glad that you are thus engaged and that the Lord is granting you to see some fruit from your labors. We would encourage you to go on in the good work, believing that you will not be sacrificing the interests of your home so long as you continue the worship of the Lord and the study of His Word therein. A further suggestion we would make is that you introduce the reading matter to all who manifest any interest. It is our experience that, no matter who does the preaching, nor how much of it is done, very few will be brought to a satisfactory condition of knowledge or of character unless they read for themselves--STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, WATCH TOWER, etc.
Since you are not identified with any Ecclesia, it would not be necessary for you to appeal to any. Authority to preach God's Word goes to whoever receives the Holy Spirit, in proportion as he may have talents for service.
The V. D. M. questions have been sent out freely and many of them have been returned, but we have not yet had time to make an examination of them. Shortly we hope to appoint a Committee to examine all the papers and to pass upon them, and we will then be glad to notify each one in respect to the accuracy of his answers, as viewed by the Committee.
May the Lord's blessing continue with you richly!
TO PREPARE THE WAY
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Loving greetings to my beloved Pastor and Brother in the Lord, through whom the dear children of the Kingdom are constantly fed and nourished with meat in due season from the dear Lord's own table!
Kindly pardon this intrusion upon your great magnanimity, and accept my sincere thanks for all you have been to, and done for, me and mine, by your unceasing labor of love. As the debt is so great, and I so very poor at reciprocity, I pray God, our Father, through His Son, our Redeemer and Lord, to cancel it, making such rewards perpetually as it richly merits. (`Phil. 4:19`.) His grace is so wonderful and matchless!
Had served many years as a church worker, but eventually sickening at its form of godliness, etc., slipped back into the field (world). About this time I married, and my wife has blessed me with great faithfulness and five children--one asleep.
About this same time a dear friend of ours bought THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES of a Colporteur (Sister Graham) and handed it to my wife for me to read it and give my opinion as to its merit, etc.
At this time my business began to move me to and fro with my little home and increasing family, and the book was laid away. After ten years or so of roaming, sometimes doing well, but never satisfied, I met a dear Brother S-----. A little conversation made me feel he had something I wanted, and somehow I let him know it. He kindly invited me to discuss the matter and after a very few exchanges he quoted, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground," etc. It was with this text I received some light, and surely more light has been the watchword ever since!
I should tell you here that we had been well warned to beware of our friend S-----'s religion, etc., and we had never heard of you, or MILLENNIAL DAWN; in fact, it was only when reading Volume III., after going through Volumes I. and II., that I got to know Pastor Russell and his authorship of the books, etc., the main reason for this, I think, being the fact that the chart and preface of Vol. I. were missing.
Leaving Brother S-----'s that evening, some tracts were given me. When I got home and told my wife where I had been and spent the evening, both hands went up in horror, and the words, "You've done it now; I was always afraid you would! I have no more desire; ah, I have been warned! You'll be an infidel proper now!" etc., etc.
But she was already grieved about my seeming lack of spiritual desire and non-churchianity, and very anxious for the children. Two days or so after this I sat down to take some of the "food," and a paragraph in the tract "Do You Know?" got me; it referred to the trouble, "world-wide, socialistic and anarchistic." I felt very strange and not anxious to take it in. The statement, "The downfall of all the kingdoms of the world" grieved me, but I had not yet noticed the statement, "To prepare the way for Messiah's Kingdom"--the Heavenly Kingdom.
I did not like to see the disasters predicted, but when the above caught my eye I exclaimed, Thank God, whoever has penned this! Exuberant with this joy, my wife must see it. And as I read, you should have seen her face, "And will result in the downfall of all the kingdoms of the earth." She was troubled and said, "That's awful!" Yes, I said, but thank the Lord this author has something better for their place; listen: "To prepare the way for Messiah's Kingdom."
She did not, however, embrace the Truth with me, but seemed to fight at every step, until she was brought to see plainly it is the Truth and that it is no use to fight the Truth. She was now hopeful, missing my society, and very, very lonely. One day, sitting at her knitting (I was making a few notes), she said, "If you can't speak, write something; it will be all right." Whereupon I wrote, "What do you think of consecration?" and passed it on. She replied, "A great deal." I was delighted. She symbolized shortly after, and our
life has since been fraught with abundant joy and satisfaction in the dear Lord, to whom be all the praise for evermore!
Being tied by family duties, etc., we have not been able to render very much service in the Harvest work, but we do pray for the dear Lord's blessing continually on you and all "the dear colaborers at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, Bethel, and everywhere."
We ask your loving prayers for us that we may be found faithful and joined with you and all His own to our living, loving Head in His Kingdom, in the sweet bye and bye.
"Toil on, and in thy toil rejoice;
For toil comes rest; for exile, Home;
Soon thou shalt see Him face to face,
And hear Him say, "Enough, well done!"
Your brother in the Lord, T. R. HICKMAN.
ONE USED HIS BRAINS--THE OTHER DID NOT
DEARLY BELOVED PASTOR:--
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I have been wanting to give you my testimony for some time; how I got the Truth, and what it has done for me. I had often heard the saying, "As a man soweth, so shall he also reap," and I was sowing bad thoughts in my heart, and reaping bad habits.
My first start in the Christian life was in the fall of 1914, when I joined the "Knights of Malta." I got out of each Degree just enough of the Bible to make me want to know the rest; so I would go home and get my Bible and read the connections. It got so interesting to me that I started at Genesis and read everything to the end of Revelation. In that way I was getting rid of some of my bad thoughts, for some good thoughts.
I was a great fellow for condemning the Roman Catholic religion. I was working with a Catholic friend at that time, and I asked him one day why he did not use his own brains instead of believing everything the priests told him. He
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asked what church I went to, and I told him that I was a Presbyterian, and he inquired why I was one. I told him, "Because my mother and father were." He asked, "Why don't you use your own brains?" I replied, "That is right; I am going to use them." He was telling all about St. Peter as being the first Pope, etc. So I bought a "Theological Dictionary" which gives the history and belief of all denominations. I asked our Heavenly Father to show me which was the right one. The first that I read was the history and belief of the Presbyterian Church. It did not take me long to find out that I did not believe what they taught. The more I read of the different beliefs the more disgusted I got. I saw your sermons in the Pittsburgh papers, but I did not read them very often, until one day I saw your sermon on, "Peter and the Kingdom Keys," and read it very carefully. I found that you proved from the Scriptures that St. Peter was not the first Pope. It gave me more zeal to read and study your sermons. The one, I believe, that got me into the Truth, was your sermon on "Christ Buried in the Flesh and Raised in the Spirit." I told my wife (who is also with me in the Truth), that I was going to send for a set of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. But our Heavenly Father, seeing that my heart was ready for the Truth, did not give me a chance to send for them. He sent one of His messengers to my home with them. It was April 15th, 1915, and I have been making a close study of them ever since, and I thank my Heavenly Father for calling me "out of darkness into His marvelous light." I rejoice in trials and tribulations, because my love for our Heavenly Father casteth out fear.
My wife and I had the great pleasure of hearing you talk at the Carnegie Hall, Pittsburgh, May 9th, 1915. The first time we attended a meeting in the Auditorium, Pittsburgh, was July 4th, 1915. Brother Kendall gave a talk on the Life of Christ, from `Isaiah, 53d chapter`. We made up our minds that from that time on we would follow you as you follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
October 10, 1915, I sent nineteen letters which I received from the Brooklyn Tabernacle, to the Elders, Deacons and the Minister of the Presbyterian Church, notifying them why I was withdrawing and asked each one of them to come to my home and we would talk it over. None have come yet. Shortly after, I passed the minister on the street, but he did not recognize me. It was told me that he said he did not want to have anything to do with Pastor Russell or anybody that believed in his teachings.
My wife and I consecrated ourselves to God during the October, 1915, Convention in Pittsburgh, and we symbolized our consecration by water baptism January 2d, 1916. We have been striving ever since to be overcomers by making the good fight, and guarding "the faith" to the best of our ability. We ask that you remember us in your prayers, that we may be faithful unto the end, when it will be said, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of thy Lord."
We pray that our Heavenly Father will give you strength and wisdom so that you will be faithful unto death, and also all others who have made a Covenant with Him by sacrifice.
With much Christian love,
BROTHER AND SISTER HEADRICK.--England.
A MINISTERIAL ATTEMPT TO "ANSWER" THE TRUTH
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Since your visit among us I have wondered if you would like to hear the results of our meeting. The effect on the entire city has been wonderful. Many thoughtful men heard you and have not minced matters in their open approbation of your sermon. The local papers did not report it and they came in for some criticism for failing to do so.
On Sunday evening following your meeting two ministers attempted to "answer" you. They resorted to slander and falsehood, blindly wresting your points. Many who heard them after having heard you, have been drawing comparisons that are detrimental to these ministers' hold on their people.
The pastors of one denomination have met to discuss the situation and to decide what to say to their congregations about you and your teachings. They admitted that the question everywhere is getting beyond their ability to answer.
We are continuing our volunteering and canvassing, finding a kind of interest that will not much longer be put off without the Truth.
The opposition is getting strong, but the Lord knows all about that! I thank Him always for this opportunity to serve Him. How kind He was to let me have this Light and His Robe of Righteousness to hide my blemishes as they become more perceptible!
I thank Him for your visit here. It has been a greater blessing than we knew. May our Father bless you and send you back!
In Jesus' Name, BUEBO ELLER.
BRITISH CONDITIONS GROW SERIOUS
A Brother in Great Britain writes:--
"Women are now taking the places previously occupied by men, in nearly every trade. They are driving and collecting fares on the electric cars, motor cars, etc.; they are to be found at the railway depots emptying the wagons, behind the counters, in the banks, working the machines on the farms, and doing every other conceivable job which men have been in the habit of doing in the past.
"Our nation is being weakened very considerably by the big battles that are now raging at the front. Thousands from this district wiped out daily. It is a common occurrence to meet a mother who has lost all her sons--very often three or four--and in many cases the father also.
"If ever there was a time to preach the Truth it is now. The nation is being broken down, and who can give comfort and joy to these dear hearts, now torn and sad, but ourselves? and we are doing, by the Lord's grace, all we can.
"As a Church here, we are adding to our numbers daily; many very fine and noble characters are amongst those now coming along; and while the Lord continues to bless us, we remember you all. Often we find it easier to walk with the Lord when troubles abound on every side, while it is difficult to maintain our full devotion to the Lord when everything goes smoothly."
CAREFULLY STUDIED VOW--THEN ACCEPTED IT
DEAR PASTOR RUSSELL:--
Soon after reading your views in the November 1 issue of THE WATCH TOWER I sat down to inform you, out of my own experience, what reasons a consecrated believer could have for not taking the Vow. After stating my reasons I decided to change the letter by leaving out one of them, so I re-wrote the letter, but decided to wait awhile before sending it in its final form. The result is, that after having carefully studied the Vow and my own heart, I have made the Vow my own, and thank God for it.
I wonder if there are not others who would be led to take the Vow, if they should very carefully scrutinize their reasons for not taking it? Please record me as a keeper of the Vow and accept my deepest gratitude for having brought me to a closer study of my heart.
May God's blessing continue with you in the work!
Yours in His name, M. E. S.--N. C.