ZWT - 1916 - R5821 thru R6024 / R5852 (049) - February 15, 1916
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VOL. XXXVII. FEBRUARY 15 No. 4
A. D. 1916--A. M. 6044
Views from The Watch Tower . . . 51
Bitterness and Passion Increase. . 52
Responsibility of the Preachers. . 52
Christ's Kingdoms at War? . . 52
Truths Untaught--Error Entrenched . 53
Our Fair Land . . . . . 54
How We Outwork Our Great Salvation . 54
The Marvelous Grace of God! . . 55
Our Covenant Identical With Christ's 55
"Pay That Which Thou Has Vowed" . 56
The Many Cold--The Few Faithful . . 57
Worldliness Among Professed Christians 58
The First Christian Martyr . . . 59
Victory in Death! . . . . 59
Two Bands of God's Heroes . . . . 60
House of Servants--House of Sons . 60
"Let Your Light So Shine" . . . . 61
Militia Laws of Canada . . . . . 62
Interesting Letters . . . . . 63
Welcome Back, Dear Brethren! . . 63
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
IT WOULD appear that our nation is entering the danger zone as respects the great war-conflagration of Europe. The war fever seems to spread. Our President, who has been so staunch a friend of peace, is manifestly being influenced by the prevalent spirit of pride and the demand that American rights shall brook no interference. Our President's peace policy has been changed to a preparedness policy. And what could preparedness mean except that, if we had the largest navy, the Government sooner or later would become more proud and arrogant and wish to dictate conditions to other nations, and thus plunge us into war?
From our viewpoint, the United States has a very respectable navy, abundantly sufficient for its own home defenses--especially when supplemented with the laying of ocean mines and with port fortifications, if any of the latter be lacking. What has America to fear? Do Great Britain and Germany, France, or all of them together, wish to destroy their best customer, from whose trade they make their largest profits? Nonsense! All the great countries of Europe are anxious for our friendship, and all of them should have it, with our influence exerted in the interests of their peace and welfare. Imagine an army of a million men crossing the Atlantic ocean! Imagine the number of ships required! Remember that the largest vessels can barely carry coal enough to bring them properly across the ocean without replenishment. Who can imagine the inability of the United States to meet any invading army, if we had no navy at all?
We are not disputing that it would be a policy of reasonable worldly wisdom to be prepared for any reasonable liability of invasion. We are not disputing that it might be, in some respects, a wise policy to enroll the youth of the land and to require all to spend two weeks every summer in camp life. This would be both a recreation and an education, and with the inculcation of the thought that they are a peace army, and not an army of aggression, the influence might be favorable.
VIEWS OF BIBLE STUDENTS
The foregoing is what we might call a worldly view of the situation. Bible Students, looking from the standpoint of the Word of God, see clearly that the present great war in Europe will, according to prophecy, so utterly wreck all the participating nations that they will have no strength for further combat, no gold reserves, called war-chests, for military purposes.
War-smitten, bankrupted, discouraged, the nations will be many years in repairing the terrible losses they are now inflicting upon each other. Moreover, the Bible assures us that with the crisis of their trouble, coming through revolution and anarchy, the world will be saved from its own madness by the establishment of Messiah's Kingdom. "He shall make war to cease unto the ends of the earth." (`Psalm 46:9`.) The war-mad nations will "beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks...and learn war no more."--`Isa. 2:4`; `Micah 4:3`.
But of course we cannot expect others than Bible Students to see matters from this viewpoint. They must wait for the actual experiences which we foresee through the telescope of God's Word.
Failing to see from the Bible standpoint, yet wishing to carry forward his policy, which so far has been so very successful, our worthy President now seems in great danger of being misled by his past successes in the field of diplomacy. He is greatly endangering, not only the peace of our own land, but the breaking of all restraints of war throughout the world by insisting that Germany shall declare that she transgressed the laws of warfare in destroying the Lusitania. Germany's plea is that the submarines, recognized and used by all nations, bring in a new question as respects international law in dealing with life. To maintain the respect and good will of the United States, Germany has offered to pay for the lives of American citizens lost on the Lusitania and has given assurances of her intention to hereafter abstain from sinking passenger vessels, even though they carry munitions of war; unless the passengers all be given first a full, fair chance of safely leaving the captured vessel. The attainment of such a concession is a great honor to President Wilson's diplomacy. We greatly fear that he is about to wreck the entire matter by insisting that the German Empire shall say, "We confess that we were naughty."
Our President threatens that if Germany does not acknowledge that she did wrong, he will undertake to punish her by breaking off friendly relations between the two governments, etc. We see nothing to be gained by his course, but much to be endangered. Germany's friendship and willingness to concede to our wishes may be brought to the snapping-point. Their friendly relationships sundered, what would there be to restrain the Germans from going any length they might please in what they recognize as a war for their very existence as a nation? The result might be to give every submarine commander liberty to sink any and every thing bearing the flag of Germany's enemies. Moreover, the animosity undoubtedly would extend to the American flag. Furthermore, if not resented, it would be considered as more or less of an injustice, on the part of many Americans whose sympathies must naturally
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go, to some extent, with their blood toward their kinsmen across the water, waging battle for existence against a combined world in arms.
To Bible Students we merely suggest that, if the worst should happen, we should remember that God is at the helm, and that thus He will allow human pride and wrath to further work out the great troubles incident to the "Battle of Armageddon" and the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom. Let us remember Jesus' words, applicable to the present time, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."--`Luke 21:28`.
BITTERNESS AND PASSION INCREASE
In STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. IV., we have clearly pointed out the things now transpiring, and the worse conditions yet to come. We have said in so many words that this great Time of Trouble will manifest fully that the civilization of our day, of which we have so greatly boasted, is merely skin deep--merely a veneer. Already we have seen manifestations of this in various quarters, and our understanding of the Bible teaching is that these matters, so deplorable, will grow from bad to worse. National animosities will become personal animosities until, as the Bible foretold, there will be no peace to him that goes out, nor to him that comes in, because "every man's hand will be against his neighbor." (`Ezekiel 38:21`.) Our Savior, in describing these matters, prophetically declares, "Unless those days should be cut short, no flesh would survive." (`Matthew 24:22`.) But we are glad that He also gives us the assurance that because of the Elect (Himself and His Church in Kingdom power and glory) those days will be cut short--Messiah's Kingdom will be set up.
But we are not to expect the interposition of the Lord's power to stop the great Time of Trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, until mankind shall have been greatly humbled to the dust and shall call upon the Lord in great trepidation. We are far from that condition of things now. Now the Germans pray to God that He will destroy England. And British prayers go up for the victory of their armies and the downfall of their foes. And so with the other nations participating in the war; each praying against its foes; each expecting God's favor and blessing. Will it not be a very different story and will not very different prayers ascend when all nations shall realize their undoing and that the only succor they can hope for from any quarter, will be through the interposition of Divine power to stay the anarchy of that awful time which the Bible symbolically calls a devouring fire, and which our creeds have all mistaken to be literal fire?
RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PREACHERS
The following extracts from the Methodist Times purport to be faithful translations of some German sermons recently preached. These sermons remind us of the infatuation unto persecution which once was general between the various sects. We had hoped that all such bitterness and acrimony were things of the past, yet here they are in all their evil malignity. Rev. William Burgess, the Methodist representative at Rome, furnishes the quotations referred to as follows:
"NO COMPROMISE WITH HELL
"Pastor Zoebel, speaking in the great Lutheran church in Leipsic, said: 'It is this deep consciousness of our mission that permits us to congratulate ourselves, and rest content with a heart full of gratitude, when our guns beat down the children of Satan, and when our marvelous submarines-- instruments to execute the Divine vengeance-- send to the bottom of the sea thousands of the non-elect. We must fight the wicked with every means in our power; their sufferings should give us pleasure; their cries of despair should not move German hearts. There ought to be no compromise with hell, no mercy for the servants of Satan--in other words, no pity for the English, French, and Russians, nor indeed for any nation that has sold itself to the Devil. They have all been condemned to death by a Divine decree.'"
"A WORK OF CHARITY
"Professor Rheinold Seeby, who teaches theology in the Berlin University, preaching in the cathedral of the city,
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said: 'We do not hate our enemies. We obey the command of God, who tells us to love them. But we believe that in killing them, in putting them to suffering, in burning their houses, in invading their territories, we simply perform a work of charity. Divine love is seen everywhere in the world, but men have to suffer for their salvation. Human parents love their children, yet they chastise them. Germany loves other nations, and when she punishes them it is for their good.'"
"THE DIVINE MISSION OF GERMANY
"Pastor Fritz Philippi, of Berlin, from his Protestant pulpit, among other things, said: 'As the Almighty allowed His Son to be crucified, that the scheme of redemption might be accomplished, so Germany is destined to crucify humanity, in order that its salvation may be secured. The human race can be saved only by blood, by fire and sword. German warriors do not shed blood with a light heart. They look upon it as a sacred duty imposed on them, a duty they cannot neglect without committing sin. Our beloved Emperor hates the horrors of war. Through long years he labored to maintain the peace of the world. Germany has never employed force to menace the independence of any nation. It is really because we are pure that we have been chosen by the Almighty as His instruments to punish the envious, to chastise the wicked, and to slay with the sword sinful nations. The Divine mission of Germany, oh brethren! is to crucify humanity; the duty of German soldiers, therefore is to strike, without mercy. They must kill, burn, and destroy; any half measures would be wicked. Let it then be a war without pity. The immoral and the friends and allies of Satan must be destroyed, as an evil plant is uprooted. Satan himself, who has come into the world in the form of a great Power (England), must be crushed. On Germany is laid the Divine command to bring about the destruction of those who are the personification of evil. When this work is finished, fire and sword will not have been used in vain. The redemption of humanity will be achieved. The kingdom of righteousness will be established on the earth; and the German Empire, which will have created it, will remain its protector.'"
CHRIST'S KINGDOMS AT WAR?
What a pity that the name of Christ should in any sense of the word be associated with such a horrible war, the basis of which is commercialism! What a shame to see nations immorally balancing the lives of millions with the hopes of commercial gain, or territorial gain! Note how Italy balanced the question for three months whether she would join the Teutons or the Allies, finally deciding that the latter offered her greater hopes of an enlarged dominion. She was ready to slay and to be slain, and ready to embargo with debt coming generations, if only she might have more territory. If this same principle were applied to individual affairs, it would mean a willingness to kill our neighbors in order to enlarge our own
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properties, just as King Ahab of old slew Naboth in order that he might have the vineyard which he coveted.
Similarly vicious is the attitude of Japan. The dispatches told us how she refused for a long time to send any soldiers to Europe; and how then she proposed that she would send 500,000 soldiers to kill and be killed if, as her reward, the French would turn over to her the control of Kozan, China--French China--a portion of Chinese territory which the French stole years ago as a part of their commercial warfare. France is not yet ready to give up her Chinese dependency; and Japan is still waiting for the blood-money before she enters upon her side of the killing program.
But how came we to think of the kingdoms of Europe as Christendom--Christ's Kingdom? How came the various great nations of Europe to put upon their coins the declaration that their kings reign by the grace of God? Many perhaps have forgotten where the matter started. Let us remind our readers:
These kingdoms of God had their start A.D. 800, and are therefore eleven hundred years old. The beginning was with Papacy, which perceived its own great power over the peoples of Europe, all of whom at that time ignorantly and blindly acknowledged the Roman Catholic faith. While the kings of Europe were comparatively weak, the suggestion came, "Now it must be God's time for setting up the Messianic Kingdom, because now we have the power." The answer of others was, "Not so. The Bible teaches that Jesus will set up His own Kingdom at His Second Advent in power and great glory, and that the Church will become His Bride and Joint-heir by the power of the First Resurrection." The answer to this was, "So once we thought. But we have waited for the coming of Messiah for over 800 years; and now we have the new thought that He probably wishes us to set up His Kingdom for Him, and in His name to reign over the kings of the earth and to convert the world."
They acted upon this suggestion. The Church, that is, the hierarchy, was set up in dignity and power and claimed authority. The rulers of the nations were informed that their continuance in power depended upon their obedience to Papacy--that it was Christ's spiritual Kingdom, and had all power to crown and uncrown kings, and to rule the world with a rod of iron. It was publicly claimed that the Popes in succession were Christ's vicegerent, which signifies that they reigned instead of Him upon His Throne. Our Catholic friends still claim this, denying not one jot of it. They hold that all the kingdoms of the world should bow to the Pope's authority as supreme--as God's authority, Christ's authority.
It was at that time that the kings of Europe were told that, through accepting their honors and dignities as rulers from the Papacy, their kingdoms were kingdoms of God, and that all of these together were Christendom--Christ's Kingdom, under Christ's vicegerent--representative.
Of course we dispute the whole matter. We deny that anybody has ever had the right to set up Christ's Kingdom; and that we still properly pray the Master's prayer, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, even as in Heaven." We are not charging our Catholic friends with fraud, but believe that they were deceived, as St. Paul prophesied. (`1 Timothy 4:1,2`.) Surely the things which the Bible foretold respecting Messiah's Kingdom have not come to pass during the eleven centuries of the Papal vicegerency. We read, "Of the increase of His Government and peace there shall be no end." (`Isaiah 9:7`.) This has not been fulfilled. We read, "He shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth." (`Psalm 72:8`.) This has not been fulfilled. We read, "In His day the righteous shall flourish," and "evil doers shall be cut off." (`Psalm 72:7`; `37:9`.) This has not been fulfilled. The wicked have flourished instead of being cut off; and it is the righteous that have had the narrow way from Jesus' day until now--a way of self-sacrifice, and not a path of glory.
PROTESTANT KINGDOMS OF GOD
Germany and Great Britain are Protestant kingdoms of God, while Austro-Hungary is the only one engaged in this great war which holds its commission and approval entirely from the Papacy. How is this?
We answer that these kingdoms, once recognized by Papacy, broke away--protested. Great Britain withdrew from Papal control in the days of King Henry VIII., who renounced allegiance to Papacy, but accepted the Catholic Bishops of Great Britain, made them members of the House of Lords--Lord Bishops--and appointed himself to be the head of the Church of England, as the Pope was the head of the Church of Rome. Thus he attempted to set up a new kingdom of Christ, making himself Christ's vicegerent. All succeeding kings of England hold title to being the head of Christ's spiritual Kingdom, the Church of England, and the head of His earthly kingdom, the British Empire. This is the title of King George V. now reigning.
In Germany it is a little different. German princes and kings fostered Luther until his teachings had made a deep impression upon the most educated Germans at that time. Then they exalted the Church of Luther to be the State Church, and the Lutheran Church recognized the rule of the kings of Germany as kingdoms of God.
Surely we need not dispute with any one the error of these claims. This accounts for the false position in which all the kingdoms of Europe stand today, claiming to be kingdoms of God, while really they are kingdoms of men--earthly kingdoms--Gentile kingdoms. Jesus declares that Satan is the Prince of this world, and that all these are kingdoms of this world--therefore under Satan's princeship. (`John 14:30`; `Revelation 11:15`.) Not that they realize this, but rather, as the Apostle explains, they are deceived. (`2 Corinthians 4:4`.) Not that God gave Satan any authority to rule these kingdoms, but that he is ruling through human weakness; as the Apostle says, Satan "worketh in the children of disobedience" as God works in the hearts of His children of obedience. (`Ephesians 2:2`.) The latter are the Little Flock to whom the Father will give the Kingdom in due time. The children of disobedience are, in the great majority, absolutely ignorant of the fact that they serve Satan. Nevertheless, "His servants ye are to whom ye render service."
TRUTHS UNTAUGHT--ERROR ENTRENCHED
With the coming of clearer light, did the ministers of Germany and Great Britain, Austro-Hungary and the other countries tell the people the truth about the Kingdom of God and about what mistakes have been made? Nay, verily! They allowed the question to go by default. Hence, today the people of these various countries are impressed still with the thoughts of the Dark Ages respecting a Divine appointment of their churches and their governments, and are not therefore looking to the Kingdom of God's dear Son to bring its proper blessing. Hence prayers are going up from each side of these professed kingdoms of God--sophistries upon the Truth.
How we long for the time when the true knowledge of God shall fill the earth; when the Kingdom of Messiah will have really come, and the Church of Christ will be with Him as His Bride and Joint-heir; when the Reign
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of Righteousness will fill the earth with blessings, physical, mental, moral, uplifting, resurrecting! The world cannot understand these things yet, but will learn them soon. We who have the knowledge of God's Word should lose no opportunity for showing forth the praises of our God and for explaining His great Divine Plan of the Ages for the "blessing of all the families of the earth." Let us be of good courage. Let us be sympathetic with the whole world on all sides of these troublesome questions, realizing that very few have eyes to see, and hearts to appreciate the true condition of things; and glad that ere long the glorious Kingdom of Messiah will bring light, knowledge and blessing to every creature.
OUR FAIR LAND.
Daniel's Image of Gentile governments (`Daniel 2:31`), pictures Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Grecia, Rome--the ten toes being represented in the present divisions of the Roman Empire in Europe. It is upon the feet of this Image that the Armageddon crash of God's Kingdom is pictured as falling--grinding the entire image to powder. America is apparently not included in this picture directly, but of course is represented indirectly, because our population is from all the countries represented in the Image. The winds of strife are not needed here to weaken the kingdoms, preparatory to their fall, for we have no kingdoms.
However, we cannot suppose that America is more ready for the great Kingdom of Messiah than the remainder of the world. Americans have much of the same spirit as Europeans--the Spirit of the Lord in His saints, the spirit of the world in the others. Here, too, the children of disobedience are so much more numerous than the children of obedience that Satan and not Christ is the Prince.--`Ephesians 2:2`.
America's first share of the trouble may be in its secondary stage, i.e., revolution; or in its third stage, anarchy. Notwithstanding our blessings and great prosperity in many ways, there is a spirit of discontent--a selfish grasping for future blessings and an impatience at their delay. This is far from the Spirit of the Lord--the spirit of meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness, faith, hope and love.
Who can tell that revolution or anarchy may not come just as soon in America as in Europe; as we write, there are rumblings of discontent heard from two quarters; the coal miners are threatening a strike which might quickly disarrange the entire social structure. The railroad employees have formed a union of their various departments --engineers, firemen, conductors, trainmen and switchmen, such as they have never before had. We learn that they are determined to have a strike unless their latest requirements are met by the railroads. And they admit that the railroads are not likely to meet their requirements without a strike. They declare themselves financially prepared for the strike, and that it will take place in the spring --March 1st, say some, others say later. In any event, God's people are to remember the words of the Savior, especially applicable now, "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." (`Luke 21:28`.) The course of the Lord's people and their counsel to others should always be along the lines of peace and righteousness, justice and love--even though we know that these are not now to prevail. But oh! what comfort and serenity of soul it gives to have the knowledge which the Bible affords in respect to the present times and the grand outcome of the trouble--Messiah's Kingdom.
We remind our readers of the suggestion previously made in these columns, i.e., that they keep a good stock of coal on hand always, and a little reserve of something like beans, wheat, corn, or other staples of food. "The wise man foreseeth the trouble and protecteth himself." --`Proverbs 22:3`.
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HOW WE OUTWORK OUR GREAT SALVATION
"Beloved, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."--`Philippians 2:12,13`.
IN THIS chapter from which our text is taken, the Apostle Paul pays a beautiful tribute to the Church at Philippi. He refers in tender and loving terms to their obedience always to his instruction and counsel, not only when he was present with them, but likewise in his absence. He urges them to continued faithfulness and earnestness in this good way. He desires that they make still further progress in the Master's likeness, working out in themselves through humility and obedience the character-development necessary, with fear and trembling, doing their own part in the attainment of the salvation to which they had been called in Christ.
This exhortation of St. Paul is designed likewise for the sanctified in Christ Jesus of today. He reminds us, as he did the Philippian Church, that we are to work out our salvation. Elsewhere the Scriptures inform us that our salvation is by grace--that "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit." (`Titus 3:5`.) These Scriptures are not contradictory. Our salvation is "not of ourselves, lest any man should boast." The Father has appointed the Lord Jesus to be our Savior; and it is through Him that our salvation is to be accomplished.
We cannot work out our own justification; but being justified by the blood of Christ and being called with the Heavenly Calling, we can do our share in this great work of our own preparation for our future station and glory. We do this by giving heed to the instructions of our Lord, by following the example which He has set us. We can never attain perfection in the flesh; but from the beginning our heart, our intention, must be wholly loyal, and day by day this heart intention must become more and more crystallized, fixed, in the way of righteousness. We must continue the work of bringing our body into subjection, and enlisting in the service of the Lord.
HOW WE BECOME SONS OF GOD
It is encouraging for us to know that this warfare is not one which we must wage alone. All the powers of Heaven are enlisted on our behalf. Our God has led us thus far in the willing and the doing of His good pleasure, and He will continue thus to lead and help us and work in us by His Word of Truth, if we continue to give heed to His counsel. The Gospel is the "power of God unto salvation unto every one" who accepts it; and no greater stimulus can be found than the exceeding great and precious promises given unto us, that by these we might become "partakers of the Divine nature."
Our salvation is a salvation from death to life, from sin to righteousness. Moreover, it is a transformation
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from human nature to Divine--our "so great salvation!" The initiatory step to our salvation was the work accomplished by our Lord Jesus at Calvary. "He died for our sins." This dying for our sins was first necessary; for there was no one on earth who could pay the penalty of Adam's sin. The Law of God required "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a man's life for a man's life." There was no man perfect; hence God arranged that His Only Begotten Son should meet this death penalty upon man. The Father could have arranged it otherwise, but He did not; therefore we know that this was the best way.
The death of Christ, however, was not all that was necessary. "He rose again for our justification." His death was for the cancelation of our sins; but it could not effect our justification while He was still in the bonds of death--not until He had risen--and more, not until He had ascended up on High--and more, not until He had presented His merit on our behalf--on behalf of the Church. Still more than this, our justification is not accomplished until, in each individual case, the necessary steps of faith and full consecration have been taken, as a result of which the merit of our Redeemer is imputed.
This merit of Christ has not as yet been presented for the world, because their time has not yet come. Thus far it has been presented only for the Church--those who are called to be joint-heirs with Christ, and who accept the Call. When Jesus appeared in the presence of God for us, there was an arrangement then effected by which we might become justified. There are certain inflexible conditions upon which God is willing to impute this merit of Christ's death. It is those only who wish to turn away from sin, to be justified from sin, and to serve God, to whom this favor is offered. Only these can now become sons of God.
Whether these steps take years or days or a few minutes, all these steps must be taken before we are in the place where we can be accepted of Christ and presented by Him to the Father. When our Redeemer imputes to us His merit, covering our blemishes, this brings us to the place of vital justification. We have done nothing to accomplish this justification. We have merely presented ourselves that we might become servants of
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righteousness. We have merely placed ourselves in the position of readiness to receive the blessing. When our Savior's merit was thus imputed, all our past was forgiven, our blemishes covered, the Father accepted the offering, and our High Priest sacrificed us as justified human beings. At that moment we were begotten of the Father by His Holy Spirit, "to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for us." (`1 Peter 1:4`.) We became embryo New Creatures, who were then to grow and develop day by day until, in due time, we would be born as spirit beings on the Divine plane, if faithful unto death.
THE MARVELOUS GRACE OF GOD!
This is a wonderful work, a marvelous transformation! Selected from a race of bondslaves of sin, beings of a fleshly nature, depraved, death-stricken, sin-cursed, we are lifted out of the miry clay; we are washed, cleansed, from our pollution, our soiled rags of unrighteousness, and a new nature has been begun in us. Then our earthward tendencies are gradually bent Heavenward. We are transformed day by day, rising up, UP, until, our resurrection completed, the work of transformation fully accomplished, we are exalted to heights unimaginable-- passing the nature and rank of angels, of cherubim, of seraphim, and every name that is named, and seated upon Messiah's Throne, beside the Infinite Son of God, partakers of His glorious nature--the nature of Jehovah Himself--the Divine nature!
Can mortal man conceive so marvelous a glory? The very thought of such a Calling should cause us to bow our hearts in the dust before our God, realizing our great unworthiness of such stupendous grace--of bliss so transcendent! What can we render unto the Lord that can fittingly demonstrate our gratitude, our thankfulness, for so unspeakable a favor? Surely, the most faithful service we can give is but a very feeble return to Him who has so loved us, so blessed us, so honored us!
We are joint-heirs with the Lord of Glory to this wonderful inheritance, if only we are faithful unto death and keep our garments white. To us "old things have passed away, and all things have become new." As old creatures we had no standing with God; we were feeding on the beggarly elements of the world. We were dead in trespasses and in sins. It is only as New Creatures that we have any standing, that we can please God, that we can work for Him. It is this New Creature that the Apostle is addressing in our text.
OUR GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
As we have made a consecration of ourselves to God, our sins are all under the blood, and the new life has begun in us. We are under a solemn contract to see that the work of transformation steadily progresses. When the Father accepted our offering and our vows to Him, and granted us His Holy Spirit, He did not give us the full consummation of our hopes, but merely an "earnest of our inheritance." Our agreement was to be dead to the world, dead to earthly things, and alive toward God. It is therefore for each of us to demonstrate in our words, in our actions, in our thoughts, that everything in this contract is bona fide on our part--that we meant every word of it. When we become children of God, our one ambition should be to prove our loyalty to God, our loyalty to our Covenant of Sacrifice. Was it not so with our Lord Jesus?
Our Lord came into the world to be our Redeemer. But He was not the Redeemer when He was born, nor when He was thirty years of age, until He made His consecration. He was called the Savior from His birth, only in a prospective sense. He became our Redeemer in the real, the official, sense when He was baptized of John in Jordan, and the Holy Spirit came upon Him in begetting power. Then it remained for Him during the three and a half years of His active service to work out that consecration. Every act of life during that crucial period was the fulfilling of His Covenant of Sacrifice. He had covenanted to sacrifice His human nature with all its conditions and possibilities, in order that He might carry out the Father's purpose. For this cause He came into the world, and He faithfully fulfilled His Covenant. His glorious reward was the Divine nature and the authority to execute all the Father's great Program.
OUR COVENANT IDENTICAL WITH CHRIST'S
And so it is to be with us, His followers. We come in under the same arrangement, our weaknesses and imperfections being covered by our Redeemer's robe of righteousness, which constitutes our "wedding garment." Thus we stand before the Father complete in the Beloved. And His Word to us is, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (`2 Corinthians 12:9`.) All the children of God who are true to their covenant are working out their salvation from day to day. It is a work of sacrifice, a daily work of crucifixion of the flesh. From the beginning of our consecrated life we are reckoned as being fully "crucified with Christ"; but the actual crucifixion is a slow, painful, lingering process, and ends only with the completion of our sacrifice in death.
"Gather my saints together unto Me, those who have
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made a covenant with Me by sacrifice," is the command of Jehovah. (`Psalm 50:5`.) To what extent are we performing this work of sacrifice in ourselves? And to what extent are we seeking to assist in the work of gathering the saints of God unto Him? Are we faithful to the extent of our ability and opportunity? Are we sure that we are careful to note the opportunities, great or small, that are within our reach? If we do not see our opportunities, the Lord will use another to do the work that might have been ours; and we shall lose the blessing and the reward of the service that we might have rendered. How careful, then, we should be!
"PAY THAT WHICH THOU HAST VOWED"
But this is not a matter in which we are to judge one another. It is not for me to say to you that you are not sufficiently earnest in your sacrificing. Neither can you properly say to me that I am not faithfully fulfilling my sacrifice. To his own Master each one stands or falls. It is for the Lord and ourselves to settle this important matter in our individual cases. And we may not fully judge even ourselves. We are to strive to do our best, and then leave the results for the Lord's determining. The Father will apportion to each faithful member of our Lord's Body his own place in the glorious Temple.
The brethren may give a word of suggestion to each other along these lines, but that is all. The Lord alone is to decide whether or not we are each living up to the terms of our covenant. He expects faithfulness in each one who has taken His Covenant upon him. It were far better that we never covenant to sacrifice our earthly life and its interests than that we take this vow upon us and then fail to pay that which we have vowed. (`Ecclesiastes 5:4-6`.) This is a most solemn matter, and the Lord will certainly require of us the fulfilment of our vows. If death is not voluntary, He will destroy our flesh. If we resist this, it will mean the hopeless death of our being.
OUR FAITHFUL, UNCHANGEABLE GOD
"It is God who worketh in you," declares the Apostle Paul. We did not begin this work ourselves. It would never have occurred to us, uninvited, to endeavor to obtain a share in the glory, honor and immortality of the Lord Jesus. It would have been the height of presumption for us so to do without an express invitation. It is God who planned the whole matter. He has been working in us by His promises, by His providences in our daily experiences, and by all the instructions, warnings and counsels of His Word, and we rejoice in this. There is no changeableness with God; and when once He made this proposition, He meant it to the full. It would never mean anything else. He never makes an arrangement which He would wish to abrogate or amend.
We are assured by the Apostle Paul that "He who has begun the good work in us will complete it, unto the Day of Jesus Christ." The only condition is our own faithfulness. God will never fail. "We are His workmanship." He is really doing the work. We are submitting ourselves that God may work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. He is the great Master Workman. Thus the work of grace goes on in our hearts and lives, making us ready for the exalted position to which we are called. And it is only if we are negligent of these great privileges granted to us that God will take them from us and give them to others.
Those who are constructing a fine building need special power to accomplish the work--to hoist the great steel frames, the blocks of stone, the brick, etc. Now God purposes to furnish the power by which we may accomplish the work on our character-building, this wonderful structure we are setting up. But the Lord will not accomplish this great work in us unless we diligently cooperate with Him. He gave us the calling, the inspiration, and furnishes all the necessary assistance day by day; so we are to persevere in the building of this character which is essential and which He purposes shall be in all those whom He will make joint-heirs with His Son.
"DO ALL THINGS WITHOUT MURMURINGS"
In following in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus, we are not to murmur by the way, finding fault with its difficulties and its narrowness; nor are we to dispute how or where we are to be led, nor to seek to have any other way than that which Divine providence marks out for us, realizing and trusting that the Lord knows exactly
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what experiences are necessary to our development in the character-likeness of Christ. We should realize also that if obedience were possible while our mouths are full of complaints and dissatisfaction with the Lord and with our lot, which He has permitted, it would indicate that we are out of sympathy with the spirit of His arrangement.
Such an obedience, if it were possible--and it is not-- would not meet the Divine approval nor gain us the prize. Hence, as the Apostle exhorts, we should "do all things without murmurings and disputings, that we may be the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we shine as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of Life."
HOW WE ARE TO FEAR AND TREMBLE
In the expression of our text--"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling"--we are not to understand that the Lord wishes His children literally to tremble with fear before Him. We should exercise the same judgment in interpreting the words and expressions of Scripture that we would in reading any other book, or in understanding the words of our friends. One called to a position of great responsibility will sometimes say afterwards, "I accepted that position with fear and trembling." He would not mean that he actually quaked with fear; but this is an expression used to indicate that one feels the need of great carefulness--that he realizes his great responsibility and his liability to fail to meet all the requirements without the most earnest attention. It means that one realizes that the matter is not one to be taken up lightly, as if it were a mere bagatelle, but that failure in it would bring serious consequences.
Just so when we read this Scripture, we are not to think that we should tremble with fear before our God; but we believe the Apostle's thought to be that in this great work that we have undertaken--of walking in the footsteps of Jesus that we may attain the prize of our High Calling--so much depends upon our faithfulness, our diligence. We have not undertaken a light thing. It is a very heavy responsibility. Our eternal interests are in the balance--the issue of life or death. Those who win the prize will be heirs of God to the highest honors and glories which have ever been offered--to a glory and honor beyond human power to imagine! We believe that no such offer will ever again be made.
The Son of God holds the position next to Jehovah, and can never have but one Bride. Surely, then, there is need that we work out our salvation with fear and trembling--with great carefulness, with great earnestness, in respect to everything in connection with it! We should be keenly appreciative of the fact that it is the most wonderful thing in all the Universe of God! We believe that if we do not make our calling and election sure and win in this fight within a very brief time now, the opportunity will be gone forever. No amount of
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wailing and gnashing of teeth will then avail. When the door is shut, it will never open again. Like Esau, those who fail will find "no place for repentance," though they seek it "carefully with tears." The glorious birthright will have slipped from their grasp forever.
But, beloved fellow-laborers, who are earnestly striving day by day to "so run as to obtain," "we are persuaded better things of you, though we thus speak." But it is well that we have our "pure minds stirred up by way of remembrance," that we may keep our eyes upon the Heavenly City and the prize set before us. The wearisome march will, we believe, soon be ended. At most it is only a little while. And so, with steadfast hearts, let us run with patience and perseverance to the end of our course.
"Joyful through hope, thy motto still must be--
The Dawn is here! What glories does that Dawn unfold to thee!
Be of good cheer! Gird up thy loins; bind sandals on thy feet! The way was dark and long; the end is sweet."
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THE MANY COLD--THE FEW FAITHFUL
"Because iniquity shall be multiplied the love of the many shall wax cold."--`Matthew 24:12`. R. V.
IT IS evident that our Lord is not here speaking of the world, for the world does not have this love. It is the Church of whom Jesus is speaking; it is only the Church with whom God is now dealing. As New Creatures, God's children have seen a great Light, Christ Jesus. Through this Light we have ourselves become illuminated, and we seek to let our light shine before men. We are not lighted candles to shed light upon others until we have become the Lord's, until we have received of His light.
The Bible declares that all men are by nature sinners, unworthy of God's notice. But He has made a provision of everlasting life for the perfect. How, then, will any member of our sinner race ever get everlasting life? Surely none of the children of Adam are worthy of everlasting life! The Lord, however, has provided for this emergency through the death of Christ. During the Gospel Age God has been delivering from death a certain class. During the incoming Millennial Age, He will lift up and make perfect the world of mankind. But only at the close of that Age, after they have been finally tested, will God grant them, if worthy, everlasting life. If they fail to attain perfection, He will not give them everlasting life at all, but will destroy them.
UNIQUE ARRANGEMENT FOR THE PRESENT AGE
The Church is an especially called-out class. "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world," said the Master. "I have chosen you out of the world." Mankind in general are in a different heart attitude from those who come into the Church. It is only the minority who now hunger and thirst after righteousness. God in mercy keeps back the Truth from those to whom it would not in the present time be a blessing. This class that the Lord is now calling out from the world are "called to be saints."
The word saint stands for one who is holy. The word holy has the significance of the word whole--that which is entire, lacking nothing. God, who is holy, calls His children to be holy, saying, "Be ye holy, for I am holy." (`1 Peter 1:16`.) But we were by nature unholy; hence His arrangement for our justification, our being made right, whole. The world in general will be made right during the Millennium. None is made right now in the actual sense.
In what way, then, does God make the Church right now? Ah, there is the beauty of God's Plan! They are made right reckonedly, by the counting to each of them of the perfect merit of Christ. This is a unique arrangement, peculiar to the present Age alone. God says, "My Call at this time is an invitation to a new nature. I am not inviting any now to Restitution; if so it would not be necessary to issue this special Call. I want a certain class for a specific purpose, to be used later in blessing the whole world. I know of some who will be glad to respond. So I am sending My Message, that those able to hear may hear."
WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY ILLUSTRATES GREAT TRUTH
We all know something of the wireless system of telegraphy. This is one of the blessings of this "day of the Lord's preparation" for the incoming New Age. It may serve as an illustration of how God has been sending out His Truth during the Gospel Age. If we would hear the Lord's Call, we must have co-hearers. If we do not have co-hearers, we cannot hear His Message at all. We need to have responsive hearts, ready to receive with gladness the Message of God's love and mercy.
If your heart is not rightly in tune, you cannot understand; but as you get it in tune with the Lord, the Message enters, and you can hear the wave tones. God speaks to us in tones of a certain character. We recognize those tones and respond, if our heart is in the proper attitude. We had a wrong tone given us by the Adversary-- that God had damned the world, had made a place to eternally torture the majority of mankind. With that wrong tone given us, we were not in a position to get the true Message. God's true Message is a glorious tune, a marvelous melody.
Finally we got the right tune from the Word of God. "I can hear better now," we said. "Yes, yes; God is Love!" "God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son"; "Like as a Father pitieth His children, so the Lord pitieth!" Yes, I now understand something of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God! It is too wonderful a symphony to fully comprehend, I cannot take it all in, but it is there. I am hearing it more and more clearly!
Only those who get their hearts in tune with God can hear it all, and the more fully in tune you get your heart the better you can hear. If your instrument is out of tune, if something happens to get you out of touch with the Heavenly electric wave, then you cannot hear the wonderful melody. If you do not keep in close touch with the Lord, you will fail to catch the harmony. You are out of tune with the Infinite One.
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JUSTICE THE BASIC QUALITY OF CHARACTER
What is the character of God that we are learning more about as we study His Word? We find that the very basis of God's character is Justice, absolute Justice. If God were an unjust God, we could never depend upon Him. He might make some term or condition today and then alter it tomorrow. But He is absolutely just; "Justice and judgment are the foundation of His Throne." (`Psalm 89:14`.) He changes not; "I am Jehovah, I change not." (`Malachi 3:6`.) He is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever." He will never fail us, He will never deceive. Whoever desires to be in proper tune with God must practice upon that string of JUSTICE. Justice must come into our heart and into our
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life. The nearer we come in line with justice, the better we shall understand and enter into the spirit of God's great Plan. We trust that is what we are striving to do.
But there are many ways of being unjust. We may say unjust things about our neighbors; we may make trifling faults appear to be great faults; we may color things unjustly. We may use words with a certain intonation or emphasis, with a shrug of the shoulders, giving a wrong impression which might be detrimental to the reputation of another. Although we might not really mean to wrong another, yet this course would be wrong, and might do incalculable harm. When you say, "I would not wish to be seen in that man's company," you might not mean to do wrong, and yet be guilty of slander. Your co-hearer is out of tune with God.
Then in the mind one might be unjust. Many people seem to become prejudiced against certain things or persons without just reason. To that extent they are out of harmony with justice. What we need to do is to think righteously, soberly, kindly, along the lines of the Golden Rule, to let our words and deeds be in harmony with the principles of righteousness. Thus we shall be greatly assisted in the development of the sterling Christian character which is absolutely essential if we would have our Father's approval.
Justice, then, is the basis, the first thing necessary, in building character. From this basis we are to go on to the attainment of sympathy, benevolence, forgiveness, love. God has been very loving and sympathetic with us. He has provided us a Redeemer. He has covered our many blemishes from His sight. Then, as we seek to copy God, we shall wish to be kind and forbearing and helpful toward all. But we must be just first. If we have an unjust twist in our mind, it will interfere with our communion with God, and we shall be in danger of failing to make our calling and election sure.
We are continually surrounded by the spirit of the world--hatred, envy, malice, strife. So we must keep very close to the Lord to counteract this spirit. The world and the things of the fallen nature are so close to us that we can with difficulty avoid being contaminated by them. One can hardly pass through a vile neighborhood without carrying away vile odors. But the Lord has furnished us with a most effective disinfectant in His Word. All the cleansing we need is derived from the Message which God has given us, with its explicit instructions. This wireless Message from Him tells of His love for us, speaks peace through Jesus Christ our Lord, makes known to us our privilege of becoming heirs of God and joint-heirs with our Lord Jesus.
Having been called with this Heavenly Calling, we can readily understand that God would not have us in this class unless we have the right spirit. The selection is not according to a whim of Divine preference. On the contrary, God chooses according to character, according to natural qualifications of honesty and the desire to be just, to be right, whatever may be the fleshly weaknesses. Justice is the very basis of God's Throne, the foundation of His Government.
WORLDLINESS AMONG PROFESSED CHRISTIANS
In our text the Lord Jesus declares that at a certain time in the Gospel Age, and apparently pointing down to our day, "because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." The Revised Version given here is stronger than our Common Version rendering. It is not only many who will grow cold, but the many, the majority, of professed followers of Christ. How truly the Master's words have been fulfilled! Iniquity is inequity, injustice, unrighteousness. Our text might properly read, "Because unrighteousness shall abound, the love of the many shall grow cold." We are in the time against which the Lord sought to especially guard us. How few comparatively have heeded the warning!
The STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES point out that in God's arrangement the Prophet Elijah was a type of The Christ in the flesh--Jesus being the Head of the antitypical Elijah and the Church being His Body. The three and a half years, 1260 days, of Elijah's experiences while hiding in the wilderness from Queen Jezebel were symbolic, and corresponded to the 1260 years of the true Church in the wilderness condition, where she had fled from the antitypical Jezebel. (`Revelation 12:6,14`; `Daniel 7:24,25`.) Elijah's coming out of the wilderness prefigured the coming out of the true Church of God from her wilderness hiding after the year 1799 A. D., when Jezebel's power was broken, and the copious rains following represented the wide circulation of the Bible since that date.
The Church of Christ, the watching ones, are now in a particular time of waiting. The Elijah class is soon to be taken beyond the veil. The Elisha class will be left until later, to wash their soiled robes in the blood of the Lamb in the "Great Tribulation" just before the world. It seems that the Lord is now especially testing His people. Among many of the people of God love has waxed cold, because unrighteousness is abounding everywhere. Many today profess to believe things that they do not believe. Empty forms of godliness prevail. Love of pleasure is rampant. As a result many professed Christians are lukewarm or cold. They say, "Look at what the church systems are doing. What is right for our church leaders is right for me." Thus many are taking a very wavering course.
There is much injustice practiced everywhere. We find great neglect of the Golden Rule. Christian parents, too, are leaving the religious training of their children too frequently to the Sunday School, where the teachers are often wholly incompetent to instruct them in the Word of God. Christian parents should be the priests of their own family. They have a great responsibility. Because iniquity prevails, the temptation is strong with many to follow the multitude. But the Lord's children should not follow a multitude to do evil. We must learn quickly now all God's will concerning us. The end of the Church's probation is drawing near. We have not much time left in the School of Christ. The saints are soon to be judges of the world. Shall we be among those judges?
PROPER ATTITUDE OF CHRISTIANS
Let each child of God bestir himself. Let him encourage the brethren to faithfulness. Let us give close attention to God's Word, that we may become more and more like our Father in Heaven. Let us love the things which are true, right, noble, Godlike. Let us renounce all else for the Heavenly things. We cannot stand for our own rights in the world. We gave up our human rights when we gave ourselves to the Lord. There are times perhaps when we might offer a protest, as Jesus did when He was smitten. But He did not retaliate nor try to render evil for evil. And we are to walk as He walked. Let us not allow the inequity of others to cause our hearts to grow cold.
The One whom we are to please, the One with whom we have to do, the One whom we love above every human tie, is our Lord. We desire to do His will. As for the brethren, let us do the best we know how for them. Let Heavenly wisdom be our guide. Let us faithfully follow Jesus in the Narrow way, whatever others about us may do; and soon we shall hear His sweet "Well done!"
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THE FIRST CHRISTIAN MARTYR
--MARCH 5.--`ACTS 6:9`--`8:3`.--
FAITHFUL ST. STEPHEN--HIS ELOQUENCE AND ZEAL FOR GOD AND TRUTH STIRRED HIS ENEMIES--THEY HATED HIM FOR THE QUALITIES THEY SHOULD HAVE ADMIRED--BECAUSE BLINDED BY ERROR--HIS FIRST BATTLE IN THE SYNAGOGUE-- HIS SECOND BATTLE BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN-- HIS VICTORY IN DEATH.
"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."--`Revelation 2:10`.
STRICTLY speaking, our Lord Jesus was the first Christian martyr; but the first of His followers to endure death because of loyalty in preaching the Gospel of Jesus was St. Stephen, one of the seven elected Deacons, appointed to the distribution of the Church's charities. The Apostles had sought to give themselves entirely to the Master's work, and doubtless expected little of special service from the Deacons appointed. Nevertheless, by God's providence one of these, Stephen, because of his love and zeal was given much of the Lord's grace and blessing and permitted to lay down his life faithfully for the Truth.
Seemingly St. Stephen was a man of great power and
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a lover of the Truth. His choice as one of these special Deacons indicates that those who knew him best highly estimated his purity of character and life. His eloquence in defense of the Master and His Gospel is well evidenced by this lesson.
History says that at that time there were four hundred and sixty synagogues in Jerusalem. Some of these were Hebraic; that is, those attending worship there were accustomed to the Hebrew tongue, and it was used in these. Others of the synagogues were called Hellenist; that is to say, Greek. The Greek was the cultured language of that time in the outside world; and some Jews and proselytes living in outside places and in Jerusalem preferred to have the books of the Law and the Prophets in the Greek language.
It is supposed that St. Stephen had been attached to one of these synagogues, and that this fact accounted for his going thither to urge upon his associates the message that Jesus was the Messiah. It has been assumed, with apparently good reason, that Saul of Tarsus attended the same synagogue; and that he was one of the disputants over whom St. Stephen, by the Lord's grace, seemed to have an advantage in these debates. Thus a bitter feeling was aroused.
It seemed to the Jewish rulers that this message respecting Jesus as the Messiah and a Jewish responsibility for His death, and respecting God's favor in raising Him from the dead, was a gross error which, being set before the people in masterly fashion, was likely to arouse a spirit of resentment against the rulers of the Jews and to be subversive of all law and government in Palestine. Indeed, these Christians claimed that because of this rejection of Jesus the Jewish nation had been rejected from God's favor, and that dire calamities were coming. Those committed to the old order of things refused to believe these prophecies of coming disaster.
St. Stephen's second battle was the one which preceded his death. The Sanhedrin, angry against him, suborned witnesses; that is to say, they bribed certain men to make complaint, charging St. Stephen with having blasphemed--with having declared Moses and the Law obsolete, with declaring that the Temple was no longer God's Temple. These witnesses put together certain isolated sayings of St. Stephen, which thus patched up, made the Truth to appear false and blasphemous. So it is with any matter. The form in which a statement is made has much to do with the impression which it makes. St. Stephen had said the very things that they charged; but by putting his statements together as they did, they misrepresented the essence of his teaching.
ST. STEPHEN'S DEFENSE
After these paid witnesses had given their testimony before the Sanhedrin, charging blasphemy--the penalty for which was death by stoning--the Sanhedrin, with a show of fairness, permitted St. Stephen to reply in his own defense. This he did in a masterly way, by taking up the thread of Jewish history and reciting it, showing his implicit faith in God's dealings with Abraham and in the promises there made. In orderly manner he brought the thought of his hearers down to the time of Moses and the giving of the Law, and reminded them that Moses had said that in due time God would raise up a greater Prophet than he. (`Deuteronomy 18:18,19`.) This great Prophet, St. Stephen allowed them to infer, was Jesus; and since Moses had particularly referred to Jesus thus as greater, it could be no disloyalty to Moses now to accept that greater Prophet. Thus one feature of the charge against St. Stephen was overthrown. He was not disloyal to Moses, but contrariwise.
As for the Temple, St. Stephen reminded his hearers that God first established the Tabernacle in the wilderness; and that by and by, in its stead, God provided the Temple at Jerusalem. It was no disrespect to the Tabernacle for them to believe in the Temple that Solomon built. God had now provided that a still higher Temple should take the place of the building made with hands. The higher Temple was the spiritual one, to be composed of the people of God who, as living stones, would be builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. As it was not blasphemy to accept the Temple of Solomon instead of the Tabernacle of Moses, neither should it be considered blasphemous to accept this higher, spiritual Temple, of which Jesus is the Head, or Foundation, instead of the typical Temple, built of wood and stone.
VICTORY IN DEATH!
So able, so logical, so convincing, were the words of St. Stephen that his hearers "were cut to the heart," not in a penitent sense, but with a realization that their cause was coming out second best. It is assumed that Saul of Tarsus was a member of that Sanhedrin. They no longer had any hope of justly charging St. Stephen with blasphemy. Their only hope now was that they could fasten upon something that he would say as being blasphemous, and on the spot rush him to his death.
The moment came. St. Stephen, full of his subject, preaching Christ and the blessings yet to come through Him upon Israel and the world, was radiant in face-- like an angel of the Lord. And looking up toward Heaven he exclaimed, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God!" This was the signal for the Sanhedrin to raise a cry of blasphemy and rush upon God's messenger.
Just what he did mean by those words, we may not too surely say. Remembering that our best sight is with the eyes of our understanding, we might use the same words--not referring to anything seen by our natural sight, but merely to our mental view and our positiveness of its truth. Thus a blind man, catching the point of an argument, might truthfully say, "Oh, yes, I see now!"
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We may be sure that a mob was ready to follow the suggestion of the Sanhedrin. Mobs now, as then, seem ready for any kind of violence if they have a leader and a pretext, especially if the pretext and the leadership be along religious lines and from those recognized as authorities. There is in the fallen nature a ferocious, bestial disposition which seems blood-thirsty and only awaiting opportunity.
Pushing the minister of Jesus outside of their gates --for no execution was allowed on the inside--the crowd threw their clothing at the feet of the young man Saul of Tarsus. Thus he became their authority for the stoning. Then they stoned Stephen to death, he crying at the time, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit"--my life-- and also, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge!" This was St. Stephen's climax of victory--faithfulness unto death, and, withal, the loving spirit in which he received death through his enemies--the spirit of the Master, the same spirit which we should cultivate and manifest.
HEROISM IN THE TRENCHES
St. Stephen has set us an example. Indeed, examples are not difficult to find, showing what manner of persons we ought to be. The difficulty seems to be that none but those of fervent spirit and well instructed of the Lord profit by the examples. For instance, the world is today giving the Church a wonderful lesson in respect to faithfulness unto death. When the followers of Jesus look across the water and behold millions of men leaving home, family, business, pleasure and every consideration to obey the rulers of their lands--to go into the trenches and suffer the hardships and exposure and wounds and death, it seems truly marvelous.
We say to ourselves, "What manner of persons ought we Christians to be!" We have not been called to kill our fellowmen, but to do them good. We have not been called for a few cents per day of wage or possibly an iron cross or a name on some roll of honor, but have been promised glory, honor, immortality, joint-heirship with our Lord in His Kingdom. Moreover, ours is not only the privilege of helping men now instead of destroying them, but the blessed privilege also of helping them in the coming Age, from imperfections up to the image and likeness of God. Oh, what manner of persons ought we Christians to be! How faithful, how loyal!
Our Golden Text is impressive. Our enlistment is not for a few days, but undertaken with a full understanding that in order to gain the great prize we must lay down our lives in the Lord's service--faithfully, loyally. How many Christians have rightly understood what was signified by consecration of their heart to the Lord and by taking up their cross to be His followers through evil report or through good report? It is not too late yet to learn our lessons more thoroughly and to determine that by the grace of God we will be faithful unto death to Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
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TWO BANDS OF GOD'S HEROES
--MARCH 12.--`HEBREWS 11:1`--`12:2`.--
FAITH HEROES OF THE JEWISH AGE--FAITH HEROES OF THE GOSPEL AGE--THE HOUSE OF SERVANTS--THE HOUSE OF SONS--EARTHLY PROMISES--HEAVENLY PROMISES-- RESURRECTION TO PERFECT HUMAN NATURE--RESURRECTION TO DIVINE NATURE--THE CHRISTIAN RACE COURSE.
"Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith."--`Hebrews 12:2`.
THE Bible puts faith before works, because no works can be acceptable to God unless inspired by faith. Thus it is written, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." The Bible brings to our attention two distinct classes of Faith Heroes, both pleasing to God and both to be highly rewarded by Him. One of these classes preceded Jesus' day; the other class follows His day. The first class of Faith Heroes are therefore known as the Ancient Worthies; the latter class, with Jesus as their Head, are styled the sons of God. This distinction or division of God's servants, although clearly marked in the Scriptures, has been overlooked by the Lord's people until recent years.
No matter how faithful or loyal Enoch, Abraham, David, Jeremiah and others were, they could not be recognized by God as members of the House of Sons, because they lived before Jesus' day--before Jesus tasted death for every man. The Bible points out that the first man Adam was recognized as a son of God. (`Luke 3:38`.) From the time that sin entered the world through Adam's disobedience, God recognized none of the human family as His sons--all were sinners--until Jesus came and died, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us back to God and open to us the door of sonship. It is in harmony with this that St. Paul declares, "Moses verily was faithful as a servant over all his House [the House of Servants], but Christ as a Son over His own House [the House of Sons]."--`Hebrews 3:5,6`.
Thus the distinction is clearly marked between the noble brethren before the Cross, the last one of whom was John the Baptist, and the noble brethren since the Cross, the first of whom were the Apostles. That John the Baptist was the last of the Ancient Worthies is attested by the Master's words, "There hath not arisen a greater Prophet than John the Baptist; and yet I say unto you, that he that is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he."--`Luke 7:28`.
St. Paul makes this distinction between the Ancient Worthies and the Christian Worthies in today's lesson. He first of all recites the names of the prominent ones of the past--Enoch, Abraham, David, Jeremiah, etc. He declares their faith, and says that they were pleasing to God, noble, praiseworthy. Then he calls attention to the fact that they never received the promises which God made to them.
It should be remembered that God did not promise Heavenly things prior to Jesus' day. The promises to the Ancient Worthies, which inspired their zeal and devotion, were all earthly promises; for instance, the one made to Abraham--"Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever."--`Genesis 13:14,15`; `17:8`.
St. Stephen calls our attention to the fact that this promise to Abraham is still secure and still unfulfilled. He declares that Abraham never received enough of that land to set his foot upon. On this promise he predicates the resurrection of Abraham, that in God's due time he may inherit the land, and that his faithful seed, or posterity, will inherit it after him.
On the other hand, the promises in the New Testament
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are only spiritual--Heavenly promises, "things above." The Christian Worthies are promised a share with Jesus in the Heavenly Kingdom which He is to establish at His Second Coming. They are to be His joint-heirs, "if so be that they suffer with Him that they may be also glorified together." (`Romans 8:17`.) The promise to these is that they shall be a Kingdom of Priests, or a Royal Priesthood; while the promise to the Ancient Worthies is that they shall be made "princes in all the earth."--`1 Peter 2:9`; `Rev. 20:6`; `Psalm 45:16`.
The Christian heroes are to have a change of nature from human to Divine, the beginning of this change being the begetting of the Holy Spirit in the present time, and the completing of the change being that of the resurrection-- "changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye"--"sown in weakness, raised in power; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown an animal body, raised a spiritual body." But the Ancient Worthies, not having the begetting of the Holy Spirit to a new nature, will have a different resurrection; namely, to human perfection.
Contrasting these two classes of Faith Heroes, the Apostle in `verses 39 and 40` declares that the Ancient Worthies, "having obtained a good report through faith, received not the Promise [the things promised to them]. God having promised some better thing for us [Christian heroes, followers in the footsteps of Jesus], that they without us should not be made perfect." In other words, God from the beginning arranged that Christ should be first--Jesus the Head, then the Church, His Body; and after the perfecting of these, styled the First Resurrection, the Divine promises will begin to fulfil to the Ancient Worthies, and extend ultimately to "all the families of the earth."--`Genesis 12:3`; `Galatians 3:29`.
THE CHRISTIAN RACE COURSE
God has great blessings in store for every member of the human family willing to accept the same on the Divine terms. But the chiefest of all the blessings brought to our attention in the Bible are those found to be provided for the Church class--the Little Flock, to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom, and the glory and the honor of association with Jesus in the work of blessing the world during His Millennial Reign.
The Apostle addresses this class in the two closing verses of today's Study. He urges us, saying, "Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God."
The Apostle is a forceful reasoner; for in these words he exhorts to look backwards at the list of Ancient Worthies and to consider what they endured and how faithful and loyal to God they were. Then he would have us consider them as though they were a cloud of witnesses watching us, to whom has been given this still greater blessing and privilege of becoming sons of God on the Divine plane, of attaining "the Divine nature."-- `John 1:12`; `2 Peter 1:4`.
He pictures before our minds a great race-course, in which we are runners. He pictures Jesus as the Leader gone before, the One who has become the Author of our faith, the One through whom we are privileged to enter this race, and the One who has promised us grace sufficient for every time of need. He pictures to us how Jesus ran in this race and by faith looked forward to the joy that was set before Him by the Father. He pictures to us how loyal Jesus was, and what He endured--the cross and its shame. He pictures the Father's faithfulness in highly rewarding Jesus, seating Him at His own right hand of Divine Majesty. Then comes the exhortation, "Let us lay aside every weight," every hindrance, everything that would prevent our running grandly and successfully the race for this great prize which Jesus has obtained, and to which we are invited through the merit of His sacrifice.
The Apostle reminds us also that one of the greatest hindrances to our running this race is sin; that we are beset by inherited sin in our members; and that we need to run in the race not only perseveringly, but also patiently; for whoever would obtain so great a prize will need patience, will need to be proven and tested in all points as respects his loyalty and devotion to the Heavenly Father, to the Truth, and to the brethren. Only such as attain the character-likeness of their Leader in this narrow way may hope to be with Him and like Him, and share His glory; for God has predestinated that these shall all be conformed to the image of His Son. --`Romans 8:29`.
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"LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE"
"Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity."--`1 Timothy 4:12`.
WE RECALL that St. Paul was the writer of these words, that they constitute a part of his first Epistle to Timothy, a promising young Elder in the Church, one who had labored much with the Apostle in his work of the ministry. On one occasion Timothy was referred to by the Apostle as "my son Timothy." This was due no doubt to the fact that it was through St. Paul's instrumentality that the Truth had reached Timothy. On account of his youth he may not have realized his responsibility. He might have felt that many others in the Church were older than himself and would therefore be better examples to the brethren and better representatives of the Lord before men.
But the Apostle here exhorts Timothy to be an example of what a true believer should be. He urged him to "flee youthful lusts," to "stir up the gift of God" which was in him. Timothy was to make a special use of the talents and opportunities which were his. And in so doing he would be a worthy example--not only to believers, but of believers, so that not only might the Church see his life and general course, but others, those of the world, might also see this, and thus have greater interest in the Lord's Cause.
This example was not to be the wearing of a particular shape of coat or a particular cut of collar, nor was it in manifesting to the world eccentricities of life and manner-- not so. His example was to be in his Christlike character. He was to glorify the Lord in his words--in what he would say, in how he would say it--in wisdom of speech. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Whoever would be careless in his language would reveal a careless heart. If Timothy had been careless in his words, others might have said, "You see that he thinks that he knows everything. See how he is always intruding himself." This would be especially unbecoming in one who was young. Thus he would have
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been despised as an example of believers, and others would be offended rather than helped.
Not only in word, but in his entire conversation was he to be an example. The word conversation, at the time our common version was translated, had the significance of conduct, manner of life. This advice is the counsel of wisdom in reference to us all as children of the Lord! The Apostle admonished Timothy with regard to his intercourse with the Church and with the world--Whether you eat or drink, whether you buy or sell, whatever you do, be a worthy exponent of the doctrine of Christ and of the effect of His Spirit in the heart.
In his charity, his love, Timothy was to be an example. This would include the ordinary thought of the word as now generally used, in the sense of dispensing largess. We do not know that Timothy had very much of this world's goods to distribute; but he could have charity in the sense of love, which is the comprehensive sense, the Bible sense, of the word. Love would not wish any harm to his neighbor, but would manifest interest in everybody, and even in the brute creation--wishing to do right, to be kind.
Love would serve the interests of others in spirit; it would come from the heart, from the inward disposition, not be merely in word or in outward conduct. Kindness and good-will would not be feigned from a sense of duty or to appear polite and thoughtful. It would be genuine. The spirit in which a thing is said or done has a great deal to do with its effect upon others. One who had wounded another might say, "There was not a word in what I said to which you could object." Ah, well! but it was the spirit in which it was said or done--the animus of it. This is an important matter to all the Lord's people. We are to remember the spirit of the Master--the spirit of consideration, of self-sacrifice, of righteousness, of love.
In faith, also, Timothy was to be an example to all with whom he came in contact. Of course the Apostle would mean here his manifestation of faith. One must have faith before he can manifest it. We have known Christians who, if they have a doubt about a certain feature of Truth or a weakness of faith, would discuss their doubts in the presence of those who were weak in the faith or who were of the world. This is a great mistake and productive of much harm. One never knows when a weak one may be present who might be greatly injured by words of doubt or distrust. Whoever is troubled by such doubts should go promptly to the Lord for help, that his faith may be firmly established; he should not discuss his doubts and fears with others unless as mentioned above, with the One who alone can help him. The Lord's people should not boast of how much faith they have--not so--but we should manifest our faith to others, our confidence in the Lord, by our peace under trial and difficulty. We should not merely say that we have faith, but should manifest it in our lives.
Timothy was counseled to be an example in purity. "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." (`Isaiah 52:11`.) As the typical priests and Levites were instructed to wash and keep themselves continually clean, so the people of the Lord today, the spiritual Priests, the spiritual Levites, should be pure, clean, in word, in action, in thought. Whoever is not pure in his thoughts is very apt to be impure, unclean, in his actions, his words. Out of the heart proceeds the impurity. One person of impure mind might poison the minds of many.
Impurity may be given a broad or a narrow view, as circumstances may indicate. In the broad sense, it would be uncleanness, dishonesty, insincerity, in general. But in every sense St. Paul would have Timothy be a worthy example, so that all who took note of him would see how they ought to deport themselves. The Apostle expressed the same desire concerning Timothy that he expressed concerning all the Church--that he walk as the Apostle himself walked, that he be as self-sacrificing as he saw St. Paul to be. This was not a Pharisaical attitude--"I am holier than thou." But the Apostle demonstrated those principles of righteousness in the life that he lived, and he wished that Timothy should do the same.
Those qualities of character here enumerated by the Apostle should be shown forth--not merely by the Elders and the teachers of the Ecclesia, but by all who have made the same profession of being disciples of Christ. So far as our standing with God is concerned, we are all brethren one of another; and each of these brethren should seek to copy the Elder Brother, our Lord Jesus. Each one should seek to be a pattern to the whole flock of God.
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MILITIA LAWS OF CANADA
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
With reference to letter in THE WATCH TOWER of November 15th last, giving excerpt from the Canada Militia Act, in connection with classes of persons entitled to exemption from military service under same, no mention was made of clause reading as follows:
"No person shall be entitled to exemption unless he has, at least one month before he claims such exemption, filed with the Commanding Officer within the limits whereof he resides, his affidavit, made before some Justice of the Peace, of the facts on which he rests his claim."
We have procured an authorized copy of said Act, further copies of which may be obtained from the King's Printer, Ottawa, Ont., or possibly from any stationer, and enclose same for your information.
From the clause quoted above it would appear that no claim for exemption will be considered unless affidavits have been filed in accordance therewith, and you will notice from a perusal of the Act that all males, between the ages of eighteen and sixty are liable to be called out for military service, at home or abroad, at any time under same, no further Act or amendment being necessary.
In view of the fact that every effort is now being made to obtain recruits here, we being approached on the streets and in every conceivable manner, with a view to having us enlist, and, as the authorities propose to raise 70,000 additional men in the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan during the next few months, they may deem it advisable to put this Act in force at any date. We would, therefore, be glad if you will kindly advise as to our methods of procedure in this respect, and, if you deem it advisable for us to file affidavits immediately (it being our opinion at present that we should do this as soon as possible), we would appreciate advice as to suitable wording of same, so as to give the necessary facts upon which to base our claims for exemption.
Perhaps you may also think it advisable to acquaint other Canadian brethren of the terms under which exemptions may be obtained, if desired, as it does not appear to be very generally known what has to be done in such cases.
Praying the Lord's richest blessing upon you, and trusting you will be able to visit us here ere long, I am,
Your brother by His Grace, W. T. HOOPER.
WHAT BIBLE STUDENTS SHOULD DO
The above letter is of great importance to members of the International Bible Students' Association residing in Canada. The full text of the law respecting militia and defense of Canada--Chapter 41 R.S. 1916--is published by S. E. Dawson, Ottawa. It could be ordered direct for, probably, five cents, or possibly could be obtained from any Canadian stationer. Its Eleventh Article enumerates exemption from service and includes "persons who, from the doctrines of their religion, are averse to bearing arms and rendering personal military service, under such conditions as are prescribed." 4 E. VII. c. 23, s. 12.
Paragraph twelve declares, as is pointed out in the foregoing letter, that "No person shall be entitled to exemption unless he has, at least one month before he claims such exemption, filed with the commanding officer within the limits whereof he resides his affidavit made before some Justice of
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the Peace of the facts on which he rests his claim. When exemption is claimed on any ground the burden of proof shall always rest on the person claiming it."
In harmony with the above requirement we advise that all Canadian members of the I. B. S. A., between the ages of 17 1/2 and 60 years, at once write out the following statement, drawn up by the Hon. J. F. Rutherford, make affidavit to it before a Justice of the Peace, and forward it, as directed, to "the commanding officer within the limits whereof he resides":
Dated at __________1916. To the Honorable __________ Commanding Officer of __________ Honorable Sir:--
In accordance with the provisions of Chapter 41 of "AN ACT RESPECTING THE MILITIA AND DEFENSE OF CANADA," and known as "MILITIA ACT 4 E VII.," and particularly sections 11 and 12 thereof, I herewith hand you, to be filed as required by said Act, my affidavit setting forth the facts on which I rest my claim for exemption from liability to service in the Militia, and respectfully request that you cause the same to be filed as provided by said law.
Respectfully, (Signed) __________
AFFIDAVIT. Province of __________}ss. Dominion of Canada }
I, __________(name of affiant), being duly sworn, upon my oath state: That I am a male citizen of Canada, and am __________years of age; that I reside at __________; that I am averse to bearing arms or rendering personal military service under the conditions as prescribed by "Militia Act 4 E VII.," and I make this affidavit, as provided by section 12, subdivision 2 of said Act and of Chapter 41 of "AN ACT RESPECTING THE MILITIA AND DEFENSE OF CANADA," for the purpose of obtaining exemption from liability to service in the Militia, and the facts upon which I rest my claim for such exemption are as follows, to wit:
I am a Christian and the religious doctrines which I believe and hold preclude me from bearing arms or rendering personal military service; I am a member of the International Bible Students Association, a religious Association organized under the laws of Great Britain, with its chief office at No. 34 Craven Terrace, Paddington, London, England, and also with offices at No. 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, N. Y., U. S. A., and which has classes or congregations throughout the Dominion of Canada; I subscribe to and am in harmony with the religious doctrines taught by said International Bible Students Association, which are, to wit, that all members thereof avow a full consecration of will, heart and life to God's service--as footstep followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrines and teachings concerning His Kingdom of Peace and good will; I am obligated by my conscience and by engagements with said Bible Students Association to "follow peace with all men," and to do violence or injury to none; that such is in harmony with the teachings of the Master, Christ Jesus, that His followers practise non-resistance; that the requirements of the International Bible Students Association are that its members be obedient to the "powers that be" in so far as their laws and requirements do not conflict with the teachings of Jesus Christ; that the provisions of said "Militia Act 4 E VII." are in conflict with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, as I understand and believe the same. Dated at__________ __________1916. (Sign here) __________
Subscribed and sworn to before me, a Justice of the Peace within and for __________, this __________day of __________A. D. 1916.
__________Justice of the Peace.
Every WATCH TOWER subscriber is recognized as a member of the International Bible Students' Association. The WATCH TOWER being the official organ of the Association its yearly subscription price includes annual membership fee of all Associated Bible Students.
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WELCOME BACK, DEAR BRETHREN!
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
You are the first person I have acquainted with the fact of my return home to fellowship with the brethren here at Victoria, B. C. I find myself, through my Heavenly Father's grace, brought back into the most blessed fellowship on earth, after being severed from that same fellowship for now six years.
You will doubtless remember me at Manchester, England, and how I, with some others there, saw cause to secede from the brethren on the subject of the Sin Offering. Well, I am happy to state that I now see that that action of mine was not justifiable and that I did wrong. I now wish to express my heartfelt shame for all the sorrow and pain such action caused to so many of my brothers and sisters in the Truth in England and Scotland, and most especially to yourself, for I am so much indebted to you for the Truth, on which I stand and in which I rejoice.
By God's grace, and abiding in Him, I will re-devote myself to Him and His Cause, show Him my love, live up more and more to Jesus and "toe the mark" for the Prize. Meditating on the `thirteenth of 1 Corinthians` brought me to see the error of my way--together with God's providential dealings with me. Oh, that all, like myself, would or could see their mistake and come back again; what rejoicing there would be in many hearts and what gladness to the heart of our Heavenly Father and our dear Lord and Savior and to all of like precious faith!
May the grace of Him who called you, dear Brother, and of our most precious Lord, abundantly sustain you to the end! Sorrowfully and gratefully,
Your brother in Christ, J. T. HODGE.--B. C.
CALLED AGAIN TO TENT-MAKING
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
In terminating my services with the Society, I wish to express my thankfulness to the dear Lord, and to you His servant, for the blessed privilege which has been mine during the past two years, of engaging in the Pilgrim work.
In this period I have had many blessings, and learned many lessons, not the least important of which is to more humbly value my few talents. The responsibilities of a "teacher" have frequently weighed very heavily upon my heart, lest by careless word or thoughtless act I stumble one of the Lord's little ones. I feel that I have not at all times acted or counseled as wisely as, under the circumstances, I might have done. But He whose eye sleepeth not will overrule.
Knowing of your care for all the churches, and how heavily their spiritual interest weighs upon your heart, I am prompted to call your attention once more to the flood of literature and "sermonizing" now being forced upon the attention of the brethren. Some of this literature is advancing very subtle error; much of it is of doubtful value and considerable calculated to confuse or discourage the friends. The SCRIPTURE STUDIES and WATCH TOWER articles, in my judgment, could serve far better the issues in question.
While some slackness respecting faithfulness to their Vows and the systematic reading of the SCRIPTURE STUDIES can be noted since October, 1914, yet on the whole, I am glad to say that the general spiritual condition of the brethren is much improved.
The WATCH TOWER for Jan. 1st is very encouraging. May the Lord continue to bless you His servant, as you faithfully sacrifice of your time and comfort in ministering to our spiritual needs. With sincere Christian love to yourself and the Bethel family, I am
Your servant in the best of bonds, WM. A. BAKER.
THE MINISTRY OF SORROW
BELOVED PASTOR RUSSELL:--
In THE WATCH TOWER of November 15 there appeared that most beautiful setting forth of "The Ministry of Sorrow." I want to impose on your most valuable time to tell how much I appreciated and do appreciate the article. Not that each TOWER does not contain most helpful and precious food, but as contrasted with the many things I have read along this line, the "Ministry of Sorrow," referred to above, is incomparably sweet. It has opened my eyes to a field of service I had not heretofore seen.
One Class that I visited have what they call their "Up-to-Date Meeting," which is given to careful study and analysis of such WATCH TOWER articles. Thus the application of doctrine to personal experience is more thoroughly impressed. I am sure from my own experience that many of the good things appearing in THE TOWER can be reread and studied with much profit.
We are sure, beloved Brother, that none could minister such things except he had the experience of such a ministry.
Thanking you for your ministry of love, and praying the Father's continued blessing upon you in such a ministry, I remain with much love,
Your Brother by His grace, W. M. BATTERSON.
International Bible Students Association Classes STUDIES AND LECTURES BY MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION