ZWT - 1900 - R2555 thru R2747 / R2686 (257) - September 1, 1900
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VOL. XXI. SEPTEMBER 1, 1900. No. 17.
Views From the Watch Tower........................259
The Chicago Love Feast........................ "
Southern Presbyterians Disappointed........... "
Poem: Gather All Thy Children Home................260
"Do Ye Even So to Them"...........................261
Is the Golden Rule Incumbent?.................262
Divine Strength Perfected in
Watching and Its Reward...........................268
"Be Ye Doers of the Word".....................271
A View of "Bible House"...........................272
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
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TRACT No. 50 is the German translation of No. 49, "Which Is The True Gospel?" Copies have been sent to our entire list, as usual. You have German friends or neighbors to whom these may be acceptable. Order additional copies as desired.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. CONVENTION--SEPT. 4 AND 5.
Friends of the truth residing in the vicinity of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., advise us that a Floral Fete will be held there Sept. 3-6, which will have very low rates of railroad fare from all points in New York and New England. They request a gathering of the friends of that vicinity,--and as many others as can conveniently meet with them on Sept. 4 and 5. The Editor has promised to attend on the 4th, and if possible to remain also the 5th. Purchase Excursion tickets to Floral Fete.
Comfortable accommodations can be secured at one dollar a day including board. Notify the WATCH TOWER office at once by postal card, when you will arrive, by what road, and how many will be of your party. On arrival go at once to the New Prohibition Hall, No. 464-1/2 Broadway.--But first look out for the Reception Committee at the door of the "Ladies' Waiting Room," displaying a copy of the WATCH TOWER.
DALLAS, TEXAS, CONVENTION--SEPT. 29,30, OCT. 1.
We merely remind the friends of Texas and vicinity of the date as above, reserving particulars for next issue.
CONVENTION OPPORTUNITIES FOR SYMBOLIC BAPTISM.
This is a feature in all conventions. Robes, towels, etc., are supplied, and the use of baptistry secured.
"HE THAT HATH NO MONEY--COME YE!"
At all Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society Conventions provision is made for the free entertainment of the Lord's "brethren" able to attend, but unable to pay for hotel accommodations. In notifying us of your coming, mention if the Lord's providence has made it expedient for you to accept the free hospitality.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
THE CHICAGO LOVE FEAST.
A LOVE FEAST from beginning to end! This was the public expression of many, and apparently the sentiment of all in attendance. Our Lord surely poured us out a grand spiritual blessing and refreshment. Surely if any went away empty it was in part or in whole his own fault. None of our conventions ever exhibited more love for the Lord and his truth and his brethren. Indeed each succeeding one seems just a little better than its predecessors, however grand they were. And may we not expect this, as we approach nearer and nearer in our journey toward "The General Assembly and Church of the First-borns?" It would be but reasonable that the ripening of the hearts of a larger number should be more and more manifest in the exhibited fruits of the spirit.
The Chicago Convention was announced as a--
CONVENTION OF BELIEVERS IN THE ATONEMENT THROUGH "THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST,"--"A RANSOM FOR ALL," AND IN HIS MILLENNIAL KINGDOM.
It lasted for three days, continuously--except for intermissions for food and rest--and was followed by a colporteurs' session in the interest of those already in that service, or about to enter it.
The attendance was the best we have ever had;-- three important items contributing: (1) Chicago's large population and the goodly number already interested in the truth there. (2) The city's central location. (3) The unusually low rates of railroad fare granted from every direction and over all roads. The number in attendance was estimated at between 500 and 600, and of these about 300 were from outside Chicago.
We had a grand time! The Lord be praised! May the blessing so abundantly poured out not only be lasting in its effect upon those who received it, but may it overflow from them upon the brethren at their various homes, and thus become wide-spread. We know well that we had the loving thoughts and earnest prayers of many thousands not privileged to meet with us. Eighty-two symbolized their consecration to death by water baptism (46 brothers, 36 sisters). It was a grand sight, such as is seldom witnessed on earth. We may be sure that our Lord, the great Chief Reaper, and the saints who have already joined him "beyond the vail," and also our guardian angels who continually minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation, looked upon that scene with deep interest, as did some three hundred brethren in the flesh who were witnesses.
SOUTHERN PRESBYTERIANS TROUBLED.
The split between Northern and Southern Presbyterians during the Civil war made of them practically two distinct bodies or denominations. The troubles and suggestions respecting the Confession of Faith have all been amongst the Northern brethren, until lately. However, at the last "General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (South)" a petition was received from the Presbytery of Brazos, Texas, requesting that the Assembly "modify the statements of the Confession regarding the eternal damnation of non-elect infants."
The resolution was strangled in committee which reported adversely to any discussion of the Confession, fearing no doubt that the question once opened never would close. The representatives of the Brazos Presbytery asked an amendment to the Confession reading thus:--"All dying in infancy are elect infants, and
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are regenerated," etc., Chapter 10, paragraph 3.
Note now the shrewd but dishonest treatment of that petition (formulated by the committee and adopted by the Assembly) in these words,--"We recommend that the prayer of the overture be declined, inasmuch as the present language of the Confession cannot, by any fair interpretation, be construed as teaching that any of those who die in infancy are lost."
Let us read over this paragraph 3, Chapter 10, of the Confession and see whether or not the Brazos brethren and humanity in general have mis-read it. Here it is: "Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word."
If the General Assembly were sincere in averring that in their judgment these words do not teach that there are non-elect infants who dying in infancy are lost, then it follows that these brethren have totally repudiated the doctrine of election taught in other paragraphs of their Confession of Faith. For if all infants are elect, or if the election does not take place until after the period of infancy, then they must deny all that Calvinism stands for in the way of Predestination and Foreordination. Otherwise they would be forced to the position that only elect persons die in infancy and hence must assume that God specially intervenes to prevent the non-elect from dying in infancy, specially supervising the deaths of the millions of infants dying annually from infanticide, lack of care, etc.
But to think of the General Assembly taking any of the above positions would be altogether unreasonable, and hence we are unwillingly forced to think of their resolution as lacking in honesty, lacking in truthfulness, which they no doubt excused on the Jesuitical plea that--It is right to do wrong if thereby you can serve God and the Church. However, the Church is not served by this false statement, even if a sect is thereby held together a little longer. The true Church "whose names are written in heaven," and which will eventually include all the truly "elect" "little flock," is never benefited or served by error or falsehood; but, as our Lord declared, only by the truth-- "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy Word is truth." Nor is God served or honored by such false representations of his Word and plan.
Furthermore, the specification of "elect infants" implies that the framers of this Confession had in mind non-elect infants who die in infancy, whose fate they left to be implied by the intelligent reader, who, if he accepted this Westminster Confession as a whole, would believe in elect and non-elect adults, and coupling this with the specifications of the same Confession on predestination would conclude that every non-elect adult must at one time have been a non-elect infant, who dying in infancy would have died non-elect and unregenerated and unsaved by Christ through the spirit who worked not upon them at any time nor anywhere nor anyhow, because he pleased not so to do, they being non-elect.
One would suppose that our dear Presbyterian friends, finding themselves in such inextricable confusion on this doctrine of election, and yet finding much on the subject in the Bible, would be ready, yes anxiously and hungrily waiting for the reasonable Bible-solution of the subject presented in Millennial Dawn. Yet comparatively few of them seem to be so. The only reasonable explanation is that the majority are not sufficiently honest with themselves and with each other, and with God and his Word. They do not sufficiently love the truth--error is preferred. They do not hunger and thirst after right. Hence also the comparatively few who are "sanctified through the truth"--the large number failing to make their calling and election sure, because unsanctified by reason of their false doctrines.
THE "BIBLE HOUSE," ALLEGHENY.
Friends of the cause naturally feel a deep interest in everything connected in any manner with the harvest work. We have frequently been urged to publish the Editor's picture either in the DAWNS or in these columns; but have as persistently refused. It is the truth rather than its servant that should be honored and proclaimed. There is too much disposition to credit truth to the preacher, forgetful that all truth is of God, who uses one or another servant in its proclamation as it may please him.
However, when requested to publish a photo of our work-shop, the "Bible House," we could think of no reasonable objection, and hence it appears on the last page of this issue. The third floor is the chapel in which Sunday and other services are held. On the top floor, centre, is the Editor's study: his usual seat being near the window at the head of the spiral fire escape.
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GATHER ALL THY CHILDREN HOME.
Heavenly Father, Holy One!
May thy will in me be done;
Make my heart submissive, meek,
Let me ne'er mine own way seek!
Loving Savior, I would be
Ever more and more like thee,
Free from pride and self-desire,
Fervent with a holy fire.
Blessed Lord, thy saints defend,
Watching o'er them to the end;
Day by day their faith increase,
Keep them in thy perfect peace.
Comfort, strengthen, guide and bless,
Lead them through the wilderness;
And when thy due time shall come,
Gather all thy children home! --G.W.S.
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"DO YE EVEN SO TO THEM."
"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."--`Matt. 7:12`.
WHATEVER THE TESTS we apply, Jesus and his teachings are seen to tower above all others. For instance, we are frequently told that the Golden Rule is found in the writings of Confucius as well as in the New Testament, and that this is a proof that Confucius was a teacher equal in rank with Jesus, and equally sent of God. And no doubt many of those who give this report do so in all honesty; for the fact is that many Christians have never seen the depth and scope of the Golden Rule given by Jesus, and misunderstand it to be the same as the maxim by Confucius, which much resembles it. There is a wide distinction, however, and in comparison the words of Confucius might be termed a brazen rule. His maxim is, "Do not do to others what you would not wish them to do to you." We repeat that this is as much as the majority of Christians have ever seen in the Golden Rule given by our Lord.
We would be glad to see the maxim of Confucius received and acted upon throughout the whole world by every creature, and undoubtedly the result would be a great blessing to mankind--a great improvement over present conditions, in which almost everybody except the saints who seek to walk in the footsteps of the Lord are continually doing every day the very things which they would not wish their neighbors to do to them. But even tho so great a reformation could be brought about, it would still leave much to be desired; it would still leave the world far from the condition suggested by our Lord's prayer, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven." For men might, through policy or for other reasons, deal justly with each other, refraining from the doing of such things as they would not wish done to them, and with all that their hearts might be very full of selfishness, meanness, covetousness, etc., and very far from the condition of love.
But when we note the comprehensiveness of our Lord's Golden Rule, we find it is absolutely a love-rule; and that it leaves nothing to be desired: nothing could possibly be added to it; it is complete. It is not merely a negative law: "Thou shalt not" do an injury; it is a positive law: "Thou shalt" do good. Thou shalt do thy neighbor all the good, all the kindness, all the service, that thou wouldst have him do to thee. This law, which the Apostle calls "the law of liberty," the perfect law, this Golden Rule for life, has no parallel anywhere, in any writings, and could not possibly have a superior,--a grander sentiment could not possibly be expressed. But how few there are who rightly appreciate and love this rule, and use it daily in the measurement of their own conduct! As already noted, the majority, even of the best people in the world, the vast majority of Christians, fail to discern its lengths and its breadths, and consider it merely an injunction not to do injury to others. How few, then, joyfully and appreciatively grasp its sentiment, and seek from the heart to conform their lives thereto-- none but the saints, none but the "elect," we may be sure, are thus in heart-harmony with the essence and spirit of their Heavenly Father's law of Love.
There might be danger of some of the Lord's people using this rule amiss and to their injury, by being overgenerous toward others and not sufficiently careful of themselves; but such instances are very rare, because in our entire race the general result of the fall has been to crowd out love and benevolence, and to fill us with selfishness. So much is this the case that it has become a worldly proverb that "Self-preservation is the first rule of life;" that self is always to be number one, and to be cared for well and thoroughly before others are to be even considered.
Even after we have been begotten of the holy spirit, as new creatures, after the transforming of our minds has begun, we all know from experience that the selfishness of the old nature is so deep-grained that it is likely to hold its own with us to the very end of life. We have, however, known of some who, in their desire to conform themselves fully to the Lord's will, have taken an extreme view of this Golden Rule, and have understood it as tho it said, "Thou shalt do to thy neighbor as he shall wish thee to do to him"--not noticing that this would be a very different rule, and one which might operate very unfavorably in every way. While few are in danger of making a mistake in this direction, many are inclined to reason on the matter from this standpoint, and to say: We could not possibly carry out this Golden Rule in the ordinary affairs of life, because, for instance, if I were to do to my neighbor as I should wish him to do to me, I should sell him a five-dollar pair of shoes for one dollar; or a twenty-dollar suit of clothes for five dollars; or what he might want of wheat or oats at half the usual price. And if I adopted such a rule with one, I should properly adopt it with all, and this would soon mean bankruptcy in my business; so, evidently, the Golden Rule cannot be used in human affairs at the present time.
But we answer that this is a mistaken view of the Golden Rule, and whoever examines it should see that the difficulty probably lies in the selfishness of his own heart. He thinks his neighbor might expect goods at less than cost, because he thinks that he himself would be willing to receive goods at less than cost from his neighbor. The application of the Golden Rule should show him his difficulty; should teach him
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the lesson that when he goes to his neighbor to buy shoes he must do to his neighbor as he would that his neighbor should do to him: he must pay his neighbor a reasonable price for his shoes; a reasonable, living profit. And likewise in every other transaction: the Golden Rule teaches us that we should be willing to pay the farmer for his produce, and the manufacturer for his, as we would think just if we were the manufacturer and making the sale. Likewise, if we were making the sale, we should not think of charging our customers a larger profit than we would think reasonable if they were the sellers and we the customers. Whoever of the Lord's people, therefore, gets thoroughly into the way of using this Golden Rule in all of life's affairs will certainly find that it will elevate their conceptions of justice, righteousness, equity; and these godlike qualities will become more and more developed in them, as parts of their characters, until they will obey them not merely because of their harmony with the Master's Golden Rule, but because they will recognize their true beauty and grandeur, and because their hearts will be in harmony with them.
But this rule, while thus inculcating justice, goes beyond this and inculcates benevolence;--such benevolence and so much of it as we, with properly balanced minds would be disposed to ask of others if we were the ones in need, in straits. O how grandly rounded out in spiritual character would all of the Lord's true saints become, under the influence of this Golden Rule! It would not only affect the actions of life, making them first just toward all with whom they had dealings, then, benevolently disposed toward all needing their assistance to whatever degree they were able to render assistance without doing injury to others,--and, additionally, the same law in force would extend also to their every word. Under the regulations of this golden measurement how few bitter or angry or slanderous words would be used--for how few would like to have others use such to or of them--to speak to them in anger and with bitterness and rancor, or to slander them. No wonder the Apostle tells us that those who have put on Christ must put off all these--anger, malice, hatred, strife, envy, slanders, etc. Additionally, this Golden Rule would lead to kind words, gentle actions, considerate demeanor; for who would not wish such from his neighbor? As the Apostle again declares, we are to put on as Christian graces,--gentleness, meekness, patience, longsuffering, brotherly kindness, love.--`Col. 3:8-10,12-15`.
This Golden Rule, beginning with the outward actions, and progressing to our words, would very quickly extend to our thoughts; and as we would not wish to have others think ungenerously or meanly of us, nor put a bad construction on our every act of life, but would rather that they would view our words and deeds generously and lovingly, so we in turn would
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find, that under the influence of this Golden Rule, our thoughts of others would become more generous, more noble, less suspicious, etc.
This Golden Rule is assuredly the divine law which our dear Redeemer expressed in other words at another time, saying, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." We may safely consider, therefore, that the one rule interprets the other, and that to love our neighbor as ourselves signifies that we should love him and do for him as we ourselves would wish him to love us and to do for us. And we could not understand it to mean more than this. God expects of us that we will make reasonable provision for ourselves and for those for whom, by legal or natural ties, we are responsible--our families, our relatives, as the Apostle says: "He that provideth not for his own, and especially they of his own house, hath denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."--`1 Tim. 5:8`.
Evidently, therefore, our own households are our first charge and responsibility, and must have reasonable attention before we could hope to do for our neighbors. This would indeed be putting a difference between our neighbor and ourselves, and between our neighbor's family and our own family, but the matter is well adjusted by the Golden Rule, rightly interpreted, which requires of us that we shall do for our neighbor, in his want and extremity, as we would have him do for us, were we in his circumstances and he in ours. And our minds being leveled up to a plane of justice, we should expect that if we were in distress our neighbor would first make reasonable provision for his own family, and not give to us to the injury or deprivation of those more immediately and more closely dependent upon him.
IS THE GOLDEN RULE INCUMBENT?
But some one may inquire: Is it necessary for us as Christians to attempt to carry out this Golden Rule in our daily lives? When we see that very few even of Christian people appreciate the rule, or to any extent seek to carry it out, may we not consider that it is a very good rule, but that its observance is not made incumbent upon us, and that our attainment of eternal life and heavenly glory are not linked with the observance of this Golden Rule? May we not consider it rather as a good standard to have in mind as the perfect law, but consider that we are not to live up to that standard in any sense of the word?
We answer that this Golden Rule was the one by which our dear Redeemer's every action was measured, the one according to which he lived, and under
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which he laid down his life on our behalf, and it is essential to and incumbent upon all those who would be his disciples, his followers. All who hope to become his joint-heirs in the Kingdom are required to walk in his footsteps as he set us an example (`1 Pet. 2:21`), or, as another Apostle declares, God has foreordained to have an elect Church to be joint-heirs in the Kingdom with Christ, but he has equally foreordained that none shall ultimately be acceptable as members of that glorified Church except such as shall, in the present life, become copies of God's dear Son, our Lord Jesus: and to copy him means to copy the Golden Rule, which was exemplified in him and in his course. It follows, therefore, that whoever expects to share the Kingdom must give diligence to the formation of character, and that this Golden Rule is necessary in such formation of character--to develop in us not the principles of equity, or justice only, but also the spirit of love, of unselfishly doing good to others.--`Rom. 8:29`.
DIVINE STRENGTH PERFECTED IN HUMAN WEAKNESS.
But here again comes in the question, How can those who by nature are fallen and imperfect, and full of inherited selfishness and meanness, ever hope to keep this Golden Rule, which is the full measure of a perfect man's obedience, and which, with all his well-doing and sacrificing, was not more than fulfilled by our Lord Jesus himself? How could we hope to be approved as keepers of this Golden Rule, in the sight of him who can read, not only the outward conduct, but also the thoughts and intents of our hearts?
We answer that here comes to our relief the gracious arrangement which God has provided for this Gospel age, viz., justification by faith. Our justification not only covers "the sins that are past" (`Rom. 3:25`), and makes us acceptable to God in Christ, so that we can offer ourselves as living sacrifices upon his altar, but, more than this, it stands with us all the way down the journey of life, and according to God's grace in Christ it compensates for, or makes up for us all of our unintentional deficiencies, so that, as the Apostle says, "The righteousness of the Law [expressed in the Golden Rule] is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit." --`Rom. 8:4`.
Since we are not all alike fallen, not all alike selfish, it follows that some walk much nearer to the spirit of the divine Law, attain much closer to the measurement required by the Golden Rule, than can others; yet no fallen creature can walk fully up to the requirements of the Golden Rule, so long as handicapped by the various weaknesses of the flesh: and here the grace of God in Christ makes up our deficiencies; those who are able to follow the pattern most closely are still far from following it absolutely, and consequently need to have the merit of the precious blood of Christ imputed to them to make up for their shortcomings; and those who are still more fallen, and who, with their very best efforts, are still further from measuring up to the grand standard of the Golden Rule, need that much more of God's grace to compensate for their deficiencies. Hence the Apostle declares that where sin and imperfection abound the most, there God's grace correspondingly abounds the more; so that to those who are in Christ and seek to walk in his footsteps, who are in their hearts measuring themselves with the Golden Rule, and seeking to the best of their ability to live up to its requirements, may be succeeding variously in their endeavors, from the worldly standpoint; but from the divine standpoint all such are reckoned as having their blemishes fully covered with the merit of our dear Redeemer's sacrifice, and that therefore the righteousness of the Law, its true meaning, its spirit, and the true measure of the Golden Rule, is reckoned as fulfilled in them to divine acceptance,--perfectly.
But it is not merely to have this Golden Rule thus reckonedly fulfilled in us for a day or for a week or for a month that counts us "overcomers," but that we shall faithfully continue to walk as closely in the Lord's footsteps as we may be able, faithfully continuing to use his Golden Rule to the best of our ability; and that we shall do this day by day and year by year with continued and increasing zeal, until our Master, watching the process of development of character, shall say, It is enough; the character is fixed; the love for righteousness is permanent and thoroughly developed; the spirit of love is indelibly marked, and altho there still remain in the flesh traces of selfishness, yet they are dim and faint in comparison with the original mark, and give good evidence of victory gained, not in the flesh, but in the heart, in the will.
"They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."--`Mal. 3:17`.
ANOTHER SERIOUS ERROR MADE BY SOME IN APPLYING
THE GOLDEN RULE TO LIFE.
Undoubtedly the Golden Rule has, to a considerable extent, exercised an influence over even worldly people (nominal Christians), where such have come more in contact with the true saints who endeavor with more or less zeal to recognize and to use the Golden Rule in the measurement of their daily conduct, without their being keepers of it as a rule, or even professing so to do. And even amongst Christians who have given themselves to the Lord, and who fully desire that his will in every particular shall be done in them,
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and who recognize this Golden Rule as a grand expression of the divine will, we believe there are serious misapprehensions respecting the proper manner of its use. For instance, among the noblest of the Lord's people are some who say, We will turn our backs on society and worldly enjoyments, and devote what time we have at our disposal to the improvement of the fallen--to moral reforms, social reforms, financial reforms, the reforming of drunkards, etc. And still others, imbued with the same spirit, and with the same desire to fulfil this Golden Rule, say, We will leave home and friends, and go into far-off lands as missionaries, to preach Christ to the heathen.
We are bound to appreciate such noble sentiments, whether we can agree with the conclusions as to methods of work, etc., or not. We love the noble principle which, if not in every instance, at least in many cases, lies at the foundation of such sacrifices of time, influence, convenience, etc.: it is an outworking of the Golden Rule in these dear friends, saying to themselves and to others, If we were in the slums or in heathen degradation, we should wish that some of God's children would come to us, to lift us up and enlighten us, and hence we should do so to others, even as we would, if our conditions were altered, that they should do to us.
This is sound reasoning and a proper application of the Golden Rule, and yet also, we believe, a mistaken or wrong one. One of the first lessons that the Christian is called upon to learn in the School of Christ is, that his judgment is defective; that not only our physical powers have degenerated through the fall, but that likewise our mental powers have suffered; so that the whole world today is not only unsound of body, but also unsound of mind, unsound of judgment.
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The primary lessons of God's children in the school of Christ are to the effect that we all lack wisdom, and that for this very reason he has provided his Book, the Bible,--"that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished."--`2 Tim. 3:16,17`.
We are taught in the Book that the work of salvation is one too great for humanity itself, and that therefore God has undertaken the work; we are taught that he has not left the matter to operate itself at random, neither has he left it to our imperfect judgments and puny efforts: we are taught that the great Savior of the world planned his work "from the foundation of the world," and yet that it was four thousand years and more before he took the first great step for its accomplishment, namely, the giving of his Son to be the redemption price of Adam and his race (`1 Pet. 1:20`); we are taught that having begun this work of salvation God has not abandoned it, and does not intend to abandon it, but that eventually "he shall bring forth judgment [trial] unto victory;"--and that eventually our Lord Jesus shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul on man's behalf, and shall be satisfied;-- that eventually the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, and all shall know him from the least to the greatest; that eventually he shall bring in everlasting righteousness, so that the time shall ultimately come when all the families of the earth shall be blessed with the knowledge of God's goodness and grace, and with an opportunity to benefit thereby; that eventually whosoever will not obey the great Prophet-King shall be cut off from amongst the people in the Second Death; that eventually there shall be no more dying, no more sighing, no more crying, no more pain there, because the former things of Adamic sin and its penalty and blight shall have been done away.--`Isa. 14:24,27`; `55:11`; `Matt. 12:20`; `Isa. 53:11`; `11:9`; `Jer. 31:34`; `Acts 3:19-23`; `Rev. 21:3,4`.
But many of God's dear people overlook these gracious provisions and promises of his Word, and partaking to a considerable extent of the spirit of love they forget that God's love is still greater than their own, even as God's wisdom is greater than theirs; hence they lose sight of the fact that the entire plan of salvation is of God, and that he has not abandoned it to others, but will carry it out himself in his own due time. It is because they forget this that they become burdened with the weight of responsibility, and feel as tho the salvation of the world rested upon themselves,--and, impressed with this feeling of self-importance and forgetfulness of God's Word, they go into the mission work, slum work, and to the heathen. They forget, and are greatly disadvantaged by so doing, that God has already declared, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my plans higher than your plans, and my ways higher than your ways."--`Isa. 55:8,9`.
As a consequence of this oversight and misdirection of effort, these dear friends are doing works now which God intends shall be done in a future age, and which can and will be done then to very much better advantage every way. God has appointed the Millennial age for this work of lifting up the weak, opening the blind eyes of the barbarians, and unstopping their dull ears to hear the message of divine grace. God has appointed that when his time for this great work, in which he is more interested than any of his creatures possibly could be, will come, the conditions will be favorable to the success of his plan, which he guarantees us will succeed, and will bring blessing to all the families of the earth, and will enlighten every man born into the world.--`Gal. 3:16,29`; `John 1:9`; `Acts 3:19-21`.
God's Word informs those who seek his counsel,
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that at that time Satan shall be bound so that he may deceive the nations no more, as he is now doing (`Rev. 20:1-3`): that during that period of Satan's restraint those whom he now blinds (`2 Cor. 4:4`) with various false doctrines, sophistries, superstitions, etc., will be freed from these, and have the eyes and ears of their understanding opened. It informs us also, that at that time he will establish as the King over all the earth his honored agent, who gave his life as a ransom for mankind; and that our Lord Jesus will establish the Kingdom of God amongst men, a Kingdom not merely in name, but also in power and in fact; one which shall rule the world, forcibly putting down sin, oppression, ignorance, superstition, darkness; and raising up righteousness, truth, and every good principle and influence for the blessing and uplifting of those whom he purchased with his precious blood. It informs us that under his beneficent reign all evil shall be subdued, that even death shall be conquered: and that all mankind, freed from the Adamic sentence of death, may, if they will, then attain unto eternal life and full human perfection, and that only the wilful sinners against light and opportunity will be utterly destroyed in the Second Death.--`1 Cor. 15:24-28`; `2 Thess. 1:8,9`; `Acts 3:23`.
The same Word instructs us that the Lord's plan for the present age does not purpose the conversion of the world; nor its salvation in any sense of the word; nor its uplifting; but that his plan, on the contrary, is simply the development of the Church, the foreordained and predestinated number, a "little flock," who must all be selected from amongst men, and every one of them be copies of God's dear Son. (`Rom. 8:29`.) It also informs us that this work of God in this age is the work in which we are invited to be co-workers together with God. It points out to us that this is the work of the Bride--to make herself ready for the marriage (`Rev. 19:7`); that the special work in this present time consists not only in the "calling" of the Church, but also in the building up of one another, among the called ones, in the most holy faith;--helping one another to perfect holiness in the reverence of the Lord,--showing us that a large part of our work is in our own hearts, cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit, helping one another to make our calling and our election sure, by perfecting in our hearts the Golden Rule.--`2 Cor. 7:1`; `Jude 20`.
But overlooking the particular service marked out for those who would be co-workers with God in this age, our dear friends, now criticised, misuse their Golden Rule, by applying it outside of the class for which the Lord intended it in this age. It will be applicable to all the heathen world and the sub-stratum of society in the Millennial age, but now it is applicable chiefly to the household of faith. True, if we could accomplish all that the Lord would have us accomplish for the household of faith, it would then be very proper for us to extend our efforts to the heathen and lower strata of society, rather than to sit down in idleness; but so far from finding that we have not enough to engage our time in the household of faith, we find that we are in the harvest-time of the age, and that the harvest is great and the laborers are few, and that there is much more than enough to engage all our time and energies among the "brethren" whom the Lord our God has called. Hence the Golden Rule calls us to be exercised chiefly amongst these, and not amongst those whom the Lord our God has not yet called, but who are left, in the divine plan, for a calling and blessing of another kind in the next age--the Millennial age.
Looking back we see that our dear Master, who gave the Golden Rule, observed it in the manner we are now advocating. Living in the end of the Jewish age, and knowing that the divine favors and blessings at that time were confined to fleshly Israel, our Lord, with a full appreciation of the Golden Rule, nevertheless used it in strict harmony with the Father's plan; and accordingly instructed his twelve apostles also, saying, "Go ye not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; for I am not sent save to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (`Matt. 10:5,6`; `15:24,26`.) Likewise the apostles understood that while, at the death of Christ, the middle wall of partition, which had heretofore separated divine favor from other nations, was now broken down, so that, so far as God was concerned, the Gospel message was open to every creature,--nevertheless, that every creature had not open ears for the Gospel, and that according to the Lord's plan he would not open their ears until his due time, the Millennial age, and hence it was that the apostles sought for the class to whom the present message, the high calling for the Church, was intended,--"He that hath an ear, let him hear."
Pursuing this policy of searching for those who had ears to hear, the Apostle Paul, sent by the Lord to be the great messenger of grace to the Gentiles, did not say within himself (as some of our dear missionary friends seem to say within themselves), I will seek out the most illiterate and degraded people in the world, that I may lift them up. Had this been the Apostle's sentiment he doubtless would have hastened, with his coadjutors, southward from Jerusalem into darkest Africa, or eastward from Jerusalem into India, with its hundreds of millions, and still further eastward into China, with its hundreds of millions, in utter ignorance of God and steeped in superstition.
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But the Apostle had made a better study of the divine plan, and knew that the times of restitution, the Millennial age, was set apart by God for this general uplift of mankind; and that it would be a waste of effort to undertake to do that work in advance of God's cooperation; in advance of his time and in advance of his arrangements, which his wisdom foresaw would be necessary to the accomplishment of that work.
The Apostle reasoned, on the contrary, "God hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness" (`Acts 17:31`), and that appointed day is a future day, the Millennial day; and if God has appointed that day to be the time for the world's judgment, it would be folly on my part to attempt to bring in a judgment of the world sooner than God intends it, even if I were able to do so. He reasoned, further, that if God has appointed a future day for judging the world in general, then the world in general is not on trial or under judgment in the present Gospel day, and hence might just as well be left in their heathen darkness a little longer, as God already had left them in heathen darkness for more than four thousand years;--and he reasoned wisely, logically. He was instructed of the Lord, and hence he had the spirit of a sound mind, and did not attempt to do an utterly impossible and hence a foolish thing. He did not attempt to be either wiser or more loving than the Heavenly Father, but trusting to the Heavenly Father's wisdom and love he sought to know the will of God now, in this present age, that he might thus be an ambassador for God and a co-worker together with him.
Nor was he left in darkness. He was instructed of the Lord, and he in turn instructs us, that the work of the present age is the work of preparing the judges of the world, who, when the great day of the world's judgment or trial shall have dawned, will be prepared to execute judgment and justice in the world, and to bless with a righteous rule all the families of the earth. He informs us that the saints now being tried (judged), tested and developed in character are undergoing this severe process, and are required to walk in the "narrow way," to the intent that they may be fit to be instruments of God for judging the world in righteousness when the due time for that judgment shall have come. (`1 Cor. 6:2,3`.) Consequently, we find that the Apostle's energies, so far from being directed to the substratum of society, the heathen and the barbarians, were directed to the very opposite class. He sought the best people in the world; the most moral people and the most intelligent; the people most advanced in every sense of the word--believing, and rightly, that the reasonable and gracious plan of God would commend itself better to such than to the sodden and benighted and stupefied and degraded minds of the barbarian heathen. Conservatively, the Apostle first sought the intelligent classes of Asia Minor, and after having gone through various cities (not attempting nor expecting to convert the people en masse, but merely hoping, in harmony with the divine program, to find a few, a little flock, and to establish these in principles of righteousness and in the School of Christ, to learn of him and to develop character, and to be prepared for the future work of judgeship and joint-heirship with Christ in the Kingdom)--the Apostle pressed on to find still others who had "ears to hear."
The declaration of the Scriptures is that he and his company purposed to go into Asia, but that under divine providence he seemed to be hindered from going there, and that then God specially directed him in a dream, and sent him into Europe with the message --sending him, not to barbarians, but to the most enlightened and most cultured people of the then civilized world, the people of Greece. (`Acts 16:7-10`.) And we remember that later on the Lord sent the Apostle to Rome, telling him in advance that this was his purpose, and seemingly in order to keep the Apostle in Rome he was sent there a prisoner, yet for three years was permitted to have full liberty to preach Christ to as many as had ears to hear. And let us not forget a circumstance which occurred in connection with the journey to Rome, when the Apostle was shipwrecked on the Island of Mileta. (`Acts 28:1-10`.) He found there a people who, so far as we are able to judge, were on the average better prepared for the truth than the Chinese, Malays, etc., and of these the record says, "The barbarians showed us no little kindness." We might suppose that barbarians who were disposed to be kind and generous to people who were shipwrecked on their coast, would be a rather more favorable class to approach with the gospel of Christ than cannibals, to whom missionaries of to-day frequently go.
And yet what do we find as the result of the Apostle's stay in the midst of that people all that winter? Do we read that he left several flourishing little missions? Do we read that he preached day and night unto the barbarians? Not a word of it; no mention is made of the slightest effort to reach them. The Apostle seemingly knew that they were too degraded to have any ear to hear the Christian message, or to be called with the high calling which God during this age is sending forth, to gather the Bride for his Son. We have every reason to believe that the Apostle made no effort whatever to make known the Gospel of Christ to those heathen people. Quite possibly while he was there forcibly detained in their midst, and unable to reach those who would have an ear to hear the good
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tidings, he may have attempted to suggest to them certain moral reforms, or how to live more comfortably, or something else that would come within the range of their measure of intelligence. But apparently he had no thought whatever that the gospel "High Calling" was for such, and hence the Golden Rule, operating in his life and governing his conduct, was limited accordingly--limited to act in harmony with the divine revelation and the divine plan.
Why is it that the example of Jesus and his inspired apostles is overlooked by so many of our dear Christian friends to-day? Why is it that they use their Golden Rule without respect to the divine plan and divine promise? We answer, It is because some of them are leaning to their own understanding, instead of seeking the divine Word, and to be taught of God; they think they know what ought to be done without inquiring of God's Word, and they are going about to do what they think should be done, rather than seeking to follow heaven's directions and Apostolic example. Many of them, indeed, are not self-conceited to the extent of being careless respecting advice; indeed, many of them are quite lacking in thought on their own part, and only too willing and too anxious to take advice of others; but they are not sufficiently careful where they get the advice.
They say to themselves, We belong to the Presbyterian body: look at its millions; look at its education; look at its influence. Or, We belong to the Methodist body: look at its numbers, influence, etc., etc. The same is true of the others. And then they ask, Is it possible that all these wise and learned men should be mistaken? Do they not all advocate that we should thus go out to preach the gospel amongst the heathen? Yes, we answer; this is a part of the delusion: many of the great and worldly-wise have adopted a theory, and are attempting to operate the Golden Rule wholly outside of and in utter neglect of the divine plan. Their theory is that God's Kingdom has come, and they point to the civilized nations of Europe and America as evidences and proofs that God's Kingdom has come, and they say, What all zealous Christians should now do is to convert the Chinese nation, the Japanese nation, India, and all the tribes of the earth, that these also may become Christian nations like those of Europe and America, and thus the whole world will become God's Kingdom.
But we answer, This is false, utterly false; the nations of Europe and America are not God's Kingdom, notwithstanding the fact that they claim to be Christian nations, and that they put upon their coins that their monarchs reign by the grace of God. They are all, at best and at most, "kingdoms of this world," under the control of Satan, "the prince of this world." (`John 14:30`.) These are the kingdoms which at the advent of Christ's Kingdom he declares shall be broken in pieces as a potter's vessel, as being utterly unfit for his service, and utterly out of harmony with the principles of righteousness which will be established in his Kingdom.--`Rev. 2:26,27`; `Dan. 2:45`.
Alas! if these kingdoms of so-called Christendom be the fulfilment of our dear Redeemer's prayer which he taught us as his disciples, "Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven"-- if we must accept these as God's Kingdom, if we must think of their rule as being God's will done on earth as it is done in heaven--then some of us are greatly disappointed, for we find that God's will is very little done on earth, and consequently heaven, if no better than this, must be a pandemonium in comparison to what we had hoped for.
But we are not mistaken; the Lord's Word everywhere teaches that the present Gospel age is for the selection of the Kingdom class, the saints, who by and by, in God's due time, shall be joint-heirs with Christ in his Kingdom, and inheritors with him of the great promises made to Father Abraham, that this seed, Christ (head and body--`Gal. 3:16,29`), shall bless all the families of the earth, as God's Kingdom bringing in everlasting righteousness. Would to God that we could assist to some extent in opening the blinded eyes of Christendom on this subject: and yet we could not hope to render any assistance to the general mass of churchianity,--for it is the divine plan that not the "tares," but only the "wheat," shall now understand. --`Dan. 12:10`; `1 Thes. 5:3-5`.
All we can hope for is that those who are the Lord's true saints are not, and never have been, fully
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satisfied with the position in which they are, and the work which they are doing; but realize a heart-hunger for something better, more satisfactory, and more in harmony with the divine character and power--that these who have ears, and who have already heard to some extent the true gospel, might now hear the true ring of the Shepherd's voice, and thus be called away from Babylon and its confusion of error, its jargon of contradiction and insincerity, to the green pastures and still waters of divine truth--present truth--that thus separated (delivered from Babylon's bondage) they might be more fully united with the Shepherd himself, and become co-workers together with God in his work, learning to exercise the Golden Rule in their own hearts, in their own lives, and to help others of the household of faith and the Bride of Christ to do the same.
Nor are we to overlook the fact that while the present Gospel message is for the highest types of men, it appeals specially to the middle class of these --the humble but intelligent rather than the rich or great. "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight."--`Matt. 11:25,26`.
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WATCHING AND ITS REWARD.
--`LUKE 12:35-46`.--SEPT. 23.--
GOLDEN TEXT:--"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation."--`Matt. 26:41`.
PRAYER IS GOOD; it is absolutely indispensable to Christian life. It means, not only a living faith, but a growing faith. Experience will prove that neglect of either private prayer (`Matt. 6:6`) or prayer in the congregation of the Lord's people (`Acts 12:12`; `1:14`; `16:13`; `1 Cor. 11:4,5`; `14:13,14`) is sure to lead to leanness of soul and lukewarmness in respect to spiritual things--unfaithfulness, coldness, death. On the contrary, communion with the Lord in prayer brings increased confidence in the Lord's supervision of our affairs; increased faith in all the exceeding great and precious promises of his Word; increased realization of his leadings, past and present; increased love for all the brethren of Christ, and increased solicitude for their welfare and spiritual progress. Prayer is thus closely and actively identified with progress in spiritual things, progress in the fruits of the spirit, toward God, the brethren, and all men.
Our Golden Text suggests, however, that more than praying is necessary. Praying that does not fully represent the sentiments of the heart is apt very quickly to degenerate into a mere form of words--drawing nigh to the Lord with the lips while the heart is far from him,--perhaps enwrapped in business or pleasure or sin. Whoever, therefore, would make progress in the spiritual way must not only pray with the spirit and with the understanding, but he must also watch--against the sinful tendencies of his own flesh--self-gratification, selfishness; also against the allurements of the world toward so-called worldly pleasures, worldly ambitions, honor amongst men, the love of money, etc.; also against the wiles of the Adversary, whose deceitful attacks usually come upon the Lord's people as "an angel of light"--to deceive them into forms and ceremonies of Churchianity, substituting before the mind and affections and consecrated intentions, human sentiments and methods and works and objectives, as instead of "the hope set before us in the Gospel" (`Col. 1:23`) and its various exceeding great and precious promises, by whose incentive the Lord has called us to walk and to run, by faith and not by sight, following in the footsteps of our Redeemer.
Our lesson itself deals particularly with the watching; but in harmony with the Golden Text we know that all true watchers must also be prayers, and that all fervent prayers will also be watchers. Prayer represents the faith; watching represents the works which must accompany it, so long as it is a living faith; for, as the Apostle declares, Faith without works is dead-- it speedily loses its vitality, its value, its very existence.
Our Lord gave a parable, as was his custom in teaching, to illustrate this lesson of the necessity for watchfulness.
A wealthy householder is represented as absent for a considerable portion of the night at a wedding-feast, and expecting on his return that the servants of the household would be awake and alert to receive him and any company he might bring with him. It was expected of such servants that they would not only not retire to bed, but that they would not even get drowsy. To give their master a proper reception they should be thoroughly awake, quick to hear and to respond to his knock, and to "open unto him immediately." Hence, in the parable, such servants are represented as having their loins girt about and their lamps burning brightly. The custom of Orientals at that time was to wear long, loose, flowing robes. These, when they were resting, were loosened at the girdle, but when attending to business they were drawn tightly at the waist with a girdle or belt, preventing them from interfering with proper service. Lamps, which were the mode of illumination, were also necessary in the night, and should not be permitted to grow dim, but be trimmed as necessity required.
Our Lord points out that such faithful servants would be appreciated by their master, and that he would give them a reward--he would honor them by treating them as his friends, and bring forth to them of the good things from his pantry. He would indeed gird himself as a servant and serve these faithful ones: and for the master of the house to do this would imply the bringing forth of the very best that he possessed. But in order to fulfil the conditions and be thus acceptable to their master they must be ready in whatever hour of the night he might come.
The parable, without question, refers to the second coming of our Lord Jesus, and points out to all of his faithful servants the proper attitude of watchfulness and preparation to receive him at whatever time his second advent should occur. It also indicates that it was the Lord's good pleasure not to reveal definitely and positively to his people when to expect his arrival, but rather that all the way down through this night-time which we designate the Gospel age, and which must necessarily precede the morning of the Millennial day, they should be continually awake, alert, waiting for him, ready to receive him at any moment. They should have the loins of their minds girt up and be active in thought, in word and in deed, in every matter pertaining to the Master's service, that they might be approved of him;--the lamp of the divine Word, so necessary to their enlightenment, should be with them, and well supplied with the oil of the holy spirit--and well trimmed, in the sense of rightly dividing the word of truth, and seeking to understand through it their proper attitude of heart and conduct, to be pleasing to their Master.
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The parable is a very simple one, and could scarcely be misapprehended by the class for whom all parables are intended--the consecrated Church. These realize at once that the central thought with them, as the Lord's servants, must be such readiness of heart and mind and character as will be pleasing to the Master when he shall come to gather his "jewels,"--his watching, faithful servants. This thought of the return of the Lord, and of the blessings which he has promised to his faithful ones at that time, is the great incentive set before the called ones of this Gospel age. It is for the Master's favor and the consequent exaltation with him to a share in his Kingdom, then to be established, and a share in the great work of blessing the world of mankind, then to be accomplished, that all of the saints are seeking, watching, praying, striving.
Well has the Apostle said, "He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he [the looked-for Master] is pure." It is this hope that leads the faithful servants continually to the lamp of the divine Word, to trim it and to thereby keep themselves thoroughly awake, quick of ear and quick of eye in respect to any and every thing relating to the will of the expected Master, and such conditions of heart-purity and robes of righteousness as would be pleasing and acceptable in his sight at his arrival.
Let all watchers fully appreciate this parable, and be on guard against every ensnarement of the Adversary, and against the stupefying influence of the world and its spirit, and against the selfishness and weaknesses of his own flesh; and let each put on the graces of the spirit, and assist his fellow-servants in these preparations, that thus an entrance may be ministered to him into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.--`2 Pet. 1:4-12`.
What great blindness and spiritual stupor respecting so simple a parable is manifested by many who are regarded as teachers in nominal Zion, in respect to this lesson! Note the interpretation of it offered by one of the leading "Helps to Sunday School teachers." The writer evidently is not so blind as to fail to see that the parable relates in some manner to the second coming of our Lord; but he is so blinded by misconceptions,
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false doctrines, etc., as to give the following as an explanation:--
"The comings of the Lord are ever unexpected to us,--his coming at death, his coming to judge the world, his coming in his Kingdom, his coming in the harvest-times of men, his coming in the crises of our lives, his coming with opportunities and open doors, his coming with the power of the holy spirit."
This blind teacher thus believes in seven comings of Christ, additional to his first coming eighteen centuries ago. More than this, the words we quote signify that the writer believes that a coming of Christ occurs every time a death occurs (or possibly he limited this to the death of his saints; but other teachers of the same school of darkness, when preaching funeral sermons, are accustomed to announce the Lord's coming in the death, not only of saints, but of pretty nearly everybody). This writer further claims a coming of Christ in all the crises as well as in all the opportunities of human life. He evidently believes (may we not say, dreams?--he surely is not awake, and surely his lamp is not trimmed and burning, nor the loins of his mind girt about) that there are millions of comings of Christ. Moreover, speaking (in his dreams) as a mouthpiece of the great Adversary, he speaks of the harvest-time of men--evidently to direct attention away from the Master's explanation that the harvest-time will be "the end of this age," in the which he himself will be the great Chief Reaper, and will associate with him his faithful servants in the work of gathering the wheat (his faithful) into his barn (the spiritual condition). --`Matt. 13:30`.
Note another method of wresting the Scriptures, and of attracting the minds of the Lord's people away from the great truth everywhere set forth in the Scriptures, and particularly enunciated in this parable, viz., the second coming of our Lord as King, and the duty of all his faithful ones to be ready, expecting and joyously waiting for that event. This perversion and wresting of the Scriptures is in the interest of temperance, and represents the watching as implying temperance work, thus: "Not only those who are laboring and praying for temperance reform, but the young people especially, should be wide awake and watchful in regard to temperance. They should watch the effect of strong drink upon others. They should watch its effect upon the community. They should be on their guard against the smallest beginnings of the habit of using intoxicating liquors. They should watch for opportunities of helping on the cause of temperance by word and by example, in public and in private."
Is it any wonder we hear the Master prophesy respecting the unfaithfulness amongst his professed people at this time, saying, "When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth?" The form of the question implies the answer, No; he will not find the faith flourishing in the earth,--not predominating. Other Scriptures, however, assure us that at the time of his coming he will find a little flock of faithful watchers --not many great, wise or learned, but chiefly "the poor of this world, rich in faith, heirs of the Kingdom." As for Babylon in general, she is saying, with louder voice than ever, Have we not done! done! done! Are we not rich and increased in goods! Are we not compassing sea and land to make proselytes!
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But the Master will say, Thou art poor and blind and miserable and naked, and knowest it not! (`Rev. 3:17`.) Thy colleges, of which thou dost boast, are they not the very hot-beds of infidelity, denying my Word--denying that my work was perfect in the beginning, and that present conditions of sin and degradation and death are the penalties of violation of my righteous law; denying also the value of my sacrifice for sins, given that the heavenly Father might be just and yet the justifier of him that believeth in me; denying that holy men of old spake and wrote as they were moved by the holy spirit, and claiming a superior wisdom as "higher critics," by which they determine that myself and my chosen and inspired apostles were ignorant and incompetent and deceived, when we quoted the words of the prophets and applied them; denying also my second coming, to gather my little flock, the Church, to associate them with me in the Kingdom promised through the prophets, which shortly shall bless all the families of the earth; claiming, on the contrary, that all things continue as they were from the beginning, --that a process of evolution is in progress, and that no Redeemer, no redemption and no restitution are necessary--some of them going so far as to claim that no personal deity is necessary, but that what they call the laws of evolution are the creator, preserver and savior of the race.
Is it any wonder that under such false teachings in high places, and the same teachings repeated with more or less of ability throughout the length and breadth of Babylon--is it any wonder that my people are "perishing for lack of knowledge"? (`Hos. 4:6`.) They have "hidden the key of knowledge," and not only fail to enter into the privileges and opportunities of this Gospel age and its call, but them that would enter in they hinder by their false teachings and misrepresentations, putting darkness for light, and light for darkness.--`Luke 11:52`; `2 Pet. 2:1`; `3:3,4`; `Amos 8:11`; `Matt. 23:13`; `Isa. 5:20`.
Alas! that any whose eyes of understanding have been opened in any degree should be deluded into supposing that he can do God service by cooperating with Babylon in any measure, sense or degree. Surely they are under the blinding and stupefying influence of the Adversary when they do not hear sharply and distinctly the Lord's message to all of his true people at this time, to come out of Babylon and be not partakers of her sins, her errors, her false teachings, and the crime implied in these, and on account of which severe scourgings are coming upon Babylon, and will fall with special severity upon those who had known better, and who for any reason have refused to obey the voice of him that speaketh from heaven--our present Lord, King, Bridegroom. --`Heb. 12:25-27`; `Rev. 18:4`.
Our Lord applied the parable in few words, saying, "Be ye, therefore, ready also, for the Son of Man cometh at an hour that ye think not." That is to say, watchfulness for the great event of the King's return would be absolutely indispensable, and would constitute a mark or indication of those worthy to be called true servants or "brethren." We are not to make the mistake of supposing our Lord to mean, Watch incessantly, for you will not know when I do come. This would be an absurdity. The central thought of the parable is that the faithful servants, awake and watching at the proper time, will hear the knock, will recognize the Lord's presence, will open to him, in the sense of believing and accepting his presence, and will be rewarded by him in the time of his presence by being supplied special knowledge respecting heavenly things which would be "meat in due season" to their comfort and joy. All who are faithfully watching shall know when the event occurs, so surely as those who do not watch shall not know.
The Apostle Paul speaks of this same great event and of the same class of watchers, designating them brethren; and after explaining that the second coming of our Lord would be upon the world as a thief and a snare, and that the world will not escape certain trouble and overthrow of their systems and politics, he explains that, on the contrary, "Ye brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief"-- you have your lamps trimmed and burning. As he further explains, the brethren worthy to know and to escape the troubles incidental to that time do not sleep, as do others; they are watchful; they are alert, and because thus alert they know of the Bridegroom's arrival, of which the world knows not; and in the time of his presence these brethren are fed with special spiritual food, which the world knows not of. The Master himself is sending forth, at the hands of his servants, the needed meat in due season, things new and old for the strengthening of his household for this present time of trial and for the perfecting of the saints for the work of ministry, to which he has called them. --`1 Thess. 5:1-6`.
TO WHOM DOES THE PARABLE SPECIALLY APPLY?
This was Peter's question. He wondered whether or not the Lord meant that the specially chosen twelve apostles were these servants who must watch and wait for him at his second coming, or whether the parable was of general application, and meant that everybody should watch. Our Lord did not answer this question directly, for to have done so would have been contrary to the divine plan; to have answered directly, to have shown that our Lord was not coming in the early watches of the Gospel night, would thus have been in contradiction
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of the very teaching of the parable, that he must be watched for all through the Gospel night.
Evading this feature of Peter's question our Lord embraces the opportunity to give some further instruction, and explains to Peter and to us all that at that time, "then," i.e., at the time of his return, his second advent, he would look out and appoint a steward for the dispensing of spiritual food to the household of faith; and that a special blessing would be with that steward in the event of his faithfulness, and that he would be removed from the stewardship in the event of unfaithfulness. Faithfulness on the part of this steward would imply larger and continued service in dispensing
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the meat to the household of faith at that time. But unfaithfulness on his part, and a disposition to tyrannize the household, would be sure to result in his being cut off from further opportunities for serving the household, and lead to his having a severe experience with the unbelievers in the time of trouble then to come upon the world. And altho it is not stated, it is fairly inferable that such an one being deposed from stewardship, another would take his place, subject to similar terms and conditions as to faithfulness.
In certain senses of the word, and in certain respects, every child of God is a steward--a steward of his own talents, opportunities, privileges, abilities in the Lord's service; and each one is to recognize that his responsibilities as a steward in these respects is toward the Master who gave him the talents, and who will require at his hands an account thereof--an increase by reason of proper use. We are not, therefore, to understand our Lord's answer to Peter to imply that none of the household but the one are in any sense of the word regarded as stewards. Such an interpretation would be in conflict with numerous Scriptures. We are to notice that the stewardship mentioned is not a stewardship of talents and opportunities, but a stewardship of spiritual food merely.
Neither does it imply that in the end of this age, and at the time of our Lord's presence and the sending forth of meat in due season that the special steward alone will have to do with the dispensing of the food for the household, for, as shown in Matthew's account of this parable (`Matt. 24:45-51`), there are "fellow-servants" whose duty and privilege it will be to cooperate with this steward in the dispensing of the viands, the feeding of the household of faith. The thought would seem to be that in the interest of the household, and for its comfort and joy and blessing, the Master at an appropriate time would furnish to some one of his servants a key to the precious things of his Word, thus providing bountifully "things new and old" for the sustenance and joy of the household, and minister these through numerous fellow-servants, as well as through the one to whom the key of this stewardship would be specially entrusted.
In this connection we are to remember that every stewardship brings with it weighty responsibilities, and while such responsibilities are not to be shirked, neither are any of them to be undertaken lightly, without appreciating the fact that every one who becomes a servant of the household of faith has thereby a larger degree of responsibility, not only toward the household, but toward the Master of the house, from whom comes every commission. And every servant is to remember that unfaithfulness would surely lead to his removal, even as every manifestation of humble faithfulness on his part will endear him to the Master and to every faithful member of the household, and imply his continuance in the service until the Master shall say, "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joys of thy Lord."
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REVIEW OF THIRD QUARTER.--SEPT. 30.
"Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your
own selves."--`Jas. 1:22`.
Reviews are frequently profitable, and especially so when conducted in the light of this Golden Text; with a view to noting to what extent we have heard the voice of the Son of Man, and to what extent we have been obedient to his messages. To fancy ourselves as making spiritual progress merely by gaining information respecting the Lord, his miracles, his teachings, etc., is to get the nut and crack it and drop the kernel, the thing of real value.
It is in harmony with this thought that our Lord declared, "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and they that hear shall live." The dead are the entire human family, all of whom must hear the voice, the teaching of this great Prophet, whom the Father has sent, not only to redeem, but also to restore so many of the human family as will accept his favors upon his terms. All must hear eventually, but comparatively few have the hearing ears at the present time. The prince of this world blinds the mind, closes and stupefies the ear, or makes what may be heard of no effect through traditions of men, or through hardness and selfishness of the hearer's own heart. Blessed are our eyes if, seeing and hearing of the Lord's grace and goodness toward us and toward all of his creatures, we at once fall into obedience to the spirit of the great Teacher's instructions. In so doing we will have passed from death unto life--gradually, until, under the ministry of the great Prophet, as sharers in the first resurrection, we shall be perfected and possess life in perfection, yea, life more abundantly,--immortality.