ZWT - 1910 - R4539 thru R4732 / R4726 (385) - December 15, 1910
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VOL. XXXI DECEMBER 15 No. 24
A.D. 1910--A.M. 6038
1910--The Annual Report--1910.....................387
Perilous Times at Hand............................389
"Men of Your Own Selves Shall Arise
Speaking Perverse Things....................390
"From Such Turn Away..........................391
The Precious Truth Is God's Message...........392
The Different Forms of Evil.......................392
Actions, Words and Thoughts...................393
Iniquitous Government Successful..................394
Lessons Here for Us...........................394
Antitypical Ahab and Jezebel..................395
Jehoshaphat's One Mistake.........................395
Three and a Half Years Without Rain...............396
The Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit................397
Gifts of Spirit Were for Early Church.........397
Fruits of Spirit Necessary to Success
The True Shepherd and His Flock...................398
Some Interesting Letters..........................399
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
"BROOKLYN TABERNACLE," 13-17 HICKS ST.,
BROOKLYN, N.Y., U.S.A.
Foreign Agencies:--British Branch: 24 Eversholt St., London, N.W. German Branch: Unterdorner Str., 76, Barmen. Australasian Branch: Flinders Building, Flinders St., Melbourne.
ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $1.00 (4s.) IN ADVANCE. SEND MONEY BY EXPRESS, BANK DRAFT, POSTAL ORDER, OR REGISTERED. FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS, ONLY.
Terms to the Lord's Poor as Follows:--All Bible Students who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for this Journal, will be supplied Free if they send a Postal Card each May stating their case and requesting its continuance. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually and in touch with the Studies, etc.
ALSO FRENCH, GERMAN, SWEDISH AND DANISH EDITIONS. SAMPLE COPIES FREE.
ENTERED AS SECOND-CLASS MAIL MATTER AT BROOKLYN, N.Y., POSTOFFICE ENTERED AS SECOND-CLASS MATTER AT THE POSTOFFICE DEPT., OTTAWA, CANADA
INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDENTS ASSOCIATION MEETINGS
CHATTANOOGA, TENN., DEC. 25
Morning Rally, 10:30 o'clock, at Knights of Pythias Hall, Walnut St. Discourse for the public at 3 p.m., in the Bijou Theatre, 6th and Walnut Sts. Visiting friends will be cordially welcomed.
MOBILE, ALA., DEC. 26
Morning Rally at 10 o'clock, in the Central Trades Council Hall, St. Michael St. Discourse for the public at 7:30 p.m. in the Battle House Auditorium. Visiting friends will be cordially welcomed.
BROOKLYN, N.Y., JAN. 1
Morning Rally for Praise and Testimony at 10:30 o'clock in the Brooklyn Tabernacle. The evening meeting at 7:30 o'clock will also be in the Tabernacle. Discourse for the public at 3 p.m. in the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lafayette Ave. and St. Felix St. Topic, "Fear Not."
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA., JAN. 8
Morning Rally for Praise and Testimony at 10 o'clock. Discourse for the interested at 11 a.m. Public lecture at 3 p.m. All sessions will be in the Auditorium, Second Av., between Second and Third Sts.
CHARLESTON, S.C., JAN. 9
Discourse for the Public in German Artillery Hall at 8 p.m. Visiting friends will be cordially welcomed.
PHILADELPHIA, PA., JAN. 15.
BUFFALO, N.Y., JAN. 22
WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 29
BROOKLYN, N.Y., FEB. 5
::R4726 : page 387::
1910--THE ANNUAL REPORT--1910
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
DECEMBER 1, 1909, TO DECEMBER 1, 1910.
Supplementary Report from Foreign Branches, January 1.
THE nearer we get to the grand consummation of our hopes, the more swiftly do the years go by, and the more interesting and meaningful do they become to us. If we realize our hopes, four more years will see the "elect" little flock of God all gathered; and the world's time of trouble begun, in which brethren of the "great company" will share and wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Is it any wonder that we all feel a fervency of zeal? Surely not!
We admit, as we have always done, that "We walk by faith and not by sight--that our chronology is not indisputable --that our opinion of it is fallible--that it is not clear to us just how all of the "little flock" can pass into death so speedily! Nevertheless, we rejoice in faith and love and zeal. And this year's Report shows that the dear friends everywhere are of one mind and of one heart on the subject. They have accomplished this year exploits in the publishing of the Truth which put all other years in the shade in many particulars.
The sentiment of all seems to accord with our own-- that the chronology (and the prophetic times and seasons which so wonderfully interlock with it and seem to prove it) has brought great joy and refreshment, even if later on it should appear that we have not located the end of the Times of the Gentiles exactly. Their end is surely near, if not on October 1st, 1914, as we still believe.
At any rate, even if we were in the same "outer darkness" as the world on subjects chronological, have we not more than all others to rejoice us in respect to The Divine Plan of the Ages? We surely have the only satisfying portion we know of, anywhere.
"It satisfies our longings
As nothing else could do."
This satisfaction, and the joy and peace and rest and zeal which accompany it, are reflected in our Report of the past year's work. The dear friends have not only contributed more than ever to the funds which make the wheels of the work move, but they have also been more energetic than ever before in the distribution of the Volunteer literature and in encouraging the Newspaper work.
Only in the Colporteuring of the SCRIPTURE STUDIES are we disappointed. The circulation of these "Bible Keys," as some term them, has lagged. Let us watch, pray and labor for more wisdom and blessing for the year 1911. The people are more open-minded than ever before, and seemingly more willing to read. This branch of the service has been specially blessed and used of the Lord hitherto, and we must not let it lag by reason of any inattention on our part. Any of the dear Colporteurs who may think that they see the reason of the decline, the President of the Society will be glad to hear from re the matter.
LETTERS AND CARDS RECEIVED (BROOKLYN), 112,085.
LETTERS AND CARDS SENT OUT (BROOKLYN), 144,311.
We are glad to hear from our numerous readers frequently. We consider our wonderful mail service a God-given blessing, and desire to use it more and more in the harvest work. However, we do not pretend to answer all letters, but only such as require an answer.
Many delightful letters thus go unanswered. Some of these tell of having taken "The Vow," and the great blessings since experienced. Others recite family history covering years and pages, some curious and some interesting. Others tell us the Plan of God, presumably that we may know that they comprehend it as we do, or to emphasize some point of difference. We are glad to have the dear WATCH TOWER readers thus unbosom themselves. It does them good as well as us. But we do not reply to such letters.
We reply to letters needing replies--to questions, etc. And many of our replies are brief, referring the questioner to the SCRIPTURE STUDIES volumes, or to back issues of THE WATCH TOWER, because these answer more thoroughly than could a letter of remarkable length. But continue to write us of your interest in the Truth and your love and prayers, even though you get no reply. And when you send questions, number them and write them on a separate page or sheet.
PILGRIM SERVICE IN UNITED STATES AND CANADA
Number engaged in Pilgrim service............ 57
Number of miles traveled..................... 477,247
Number of cities visited by Pilgrims......... 3,521
Number of public meetings held............... 3,297
Number of parlor meetings held............... 7,416
This department of the harvest work continues to demonstrate its worth to the household of faith. Our readers will be interested in the below summary.
During the past six months we have added a new feature, with excellent success. It combines an increased public service for the Pilgrims and at the same time increases the Volunteer work, in which all may engage. It is as follows:--
Sunday appointments for the traveling Pilgrims are given preferably to those cities whose classes have signified their desire and ability to secure fine auditoriums and to advertise the service thoroughly. To such we send special issues of the PEOPLES PULPIT, bearing the announcement on the last page, for free circulation--sufficient for the city. We also send window-cards (requiring but little printing).
The result has been much larger public meetings by several of the Pilgrims and additional millions of copies of PEOPLES PULPIT circulated. We commend the plan to all the classes located in large cities.
To ascertain the quantity of PEOPLES PULPITS necessary to put one copy in the home of every English-speaking family perplexes some. Decide thus: Ascertain approximately the number of English speaking population and divide that number by five. The result will be the number necessary to supply every family.
THE WATCH TOWER
We published 30,000 WATCH TOWERS every issue-- occasionally more. Some of these went out as "sample copies." Quite a large number went to "the Lord's Poor" --paid for out of a special fund. Altogether, we reckon that the profit on THE WATCH TOWER just about offsets the yearly loss on SCRIPTURE STUDIES, sold mostly to Colporteurs, and at a loss--counting foreign translations and "bad" accounts.
Some of our old readers have taken offense that their names were stricken from our lists. We again assure them that they are welcome to this journal so long as it is published--regardless of the subscription fee. But they must ask for it. Either ask it free, paid for from the special fund, or ask it on credit, payable at convenience; even if that should mean never. If you never pay for it you will have it free. We are anxious that our lists contain the names of all in sympathy with THE WATCH TOWER'S teachings.
We explain again that because our Government carries newspapers at such a very cheap rate, it now exercises a careful inspection of the lists of all publications to insure that no names continue on newspaper lists long after expiration.
We still feel that our list of WATCH TOWER subscribers but poorly represents the total number of the interested. We ask the aid of all our readers to the desired end. All who feel profited by the reading of THE WATCH TOWER are requested to recommend it to others who have read the STUDIES, explaining to them our very liberal terms and our desire that it go to all the brethren regularly.
"SCRIPTURE STUDIES" AND BOOKLETS
SCRIPTURE STUDIES put into circulation....... 600,157
This is a great showing, even though it does not in every feature exceed the records of 1908 and 1909. The figures include those of Great Britain.
We take this opportunity to remark that the circulation of the MANNA appears to be second only to the STUDIES in beneficial effects. One Colporteur followed his canvass for STUDIES with the HEAVENLY MANNA. He sold these where he had failed to sell STUDIES. Some months after he again canvassed with STUDIES. He was agreeably surprised that nearly all who had purchased the MANNA were ready and anxious for STUDIES. They asked, eagerly, "Are those books from the pen which wrote the MANNA comments? If so we want them!" Surely no more desirable Christmas gifts could be found than STUDIES, MANNA, THE WATCH TOWER and the DIAGLOTT. Every gift should represent the giver, either as his handiwork or as expressing his sentiments--is our suggestion to friends of the Truth.
FREE LITERATURE CIRCULATED
Our tract work goes on amazingly. By it all of the Lord's people, poor or rich, have opportunity for service. They are realizing this more and more. As their consecration and zeal deepen they send us money for the printing and assist in the circulation. Hence the astounding report of this year, the like of which no one ever dreamed of. We presume it safe to say that no other organization ever put out one-tenth this amount of free literature in a year, although some have dollars to our pennies.
We trust that nearly every reader of this Report can say to himself, as he reads the summary below, "God blessed me with the opportunity to share in this branch of the harvest work, and I used it as a blessed privilege. I have had an active share in this labor of love. I invested a portion of my 'Talent' thus instead of hiding it in the earth--in pleasure or business or cares of this life."
Let any who have had a hand in this blessed service be on the lookout how they may double the use of their talent next year--extending their labors to nearby towns not yet served. And let such as have not yet taken a hand in the work resolve that they will not miss the golden opportunity next year. We doubt not the Lord will supply the financial means. We start the new year with faith that he will, with a firm belief that a great work is yet to be accomplished, that the Lord still has "much people" in Babylon to whom he would have us carry the good tidings which have so blessed us.
PEOPLES PULPIT proves itself more attractive for tract-work than any other we have ever used. It is more dignified than any other, both for distributors and readers.
Total pieces of English literature, tracts, chiefly
PEOPLES PULPIT, given free in America and Great
This, represented in ordinary tract pages, would
mean in pages..............................350,957,360
These figures are so great that but few can comprehend their significance.
"PEOPLES PULPIT" IN OTHER LANGUAGES CIRCULATED FREE IN UNITED STATES, CANADA AND MEXICO.
Swedish Copies.......210,500 Pages.......3,368,000
Spanish " ....... 32,000 " ....... 512,000
Polish " ....... 80,000 " .......1,280,000
Hungarian " ....... 38,000 " ....... 608,000
German " ....... 5,000 " ....... 80,000
Greek " ....... 21,000 " ....... 176,000
Italian " ....... 53,500 " ....... 856,000
THE NEWSPAPER WORK
Our friends and our foes are alike astounded at the success which the Lord has granted to the work of newspaper evangelization. More than a thousand papers in the United States and Canada are now publishing our sermons and Bible Studies weekly. The circulation of these papers varies from 2,500 to 300,000 per issue. The syndicate handling the matter assure us that thus these weekly presentations of the Truth enter at least ten million homes.
And, more and more they are being read. Hundreds of letters tell us of this, and the Colporteurs are finding that they sell the STUDIES the more readily by telling that they are from the same source as the sermons.
"DIE STIMME" TO THE JEWS
God's Message to the Jews is being heard the world around. Not only were several of our sermons to the Jews published to the extent of 107,600 copies in Jewish papers in the English language, but in 655,000 copies of the Yiddish papers besides 325,000 copies of Die Stimme. These have been republished, we learn, in Russia and elsewhere. True, there was some opposition, but this, we believe, led the Jews to take more careful notice of the Message.
It is not our expectation that the Jews will become Christians now. It will be after they shall have returned to Palestine and the spirit of prayer and supplication shall have been poured on them, that they will "look upon him whom they pierced." Our message is to comfort them and to turn their eyes toward Palestine and to their glorious promises centering there. The Scriptures seem to imply that the "Great Company" will have the honor and privilege of leading them to recognize Jesus as Messiah, during the time of trouble.
OUR FINANCIAL SHOWING
Having in mind the foregoing work it might be expected that millions of money had been expended in order to its accomplishment. But, dear friends, economy is associated with every part of the work. No salaries are paid--merely moderate expenses. Yet we are all comfortable and very thankful and happy.
Expended for above work in
In Great Britain........................$7,965.55
In Germany.............................. 3,673.27
In Australasia.......................... 487.06
In India................................ 522.37
In S. Africa............................ 1,438.62
In Sweden............................... 1,675.82
In Norway and Denmark................... 3,494.58
In Jamaica.............................. 935.29
In France, Italy and Swiss.............. 295.73
In Greece............................... 396.45
In Mexico............................... 50.50
Balance from 1909.....................$ 9,718.38
Good Hopes, Tract Fund, etc............ 139,058.72
This is close for the extent of the work, and if other "Good Hopes" be realized this balance will be wiped out before January, 1911.
We congratulate all of our dear co-laborers and praise God for the privileges thus represented.
Very truly your servant in the Lord,
C. T. RUSSELL, President.
::R4728 : page 389::
PERILOUS TIMES AT HAND
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come."--`2 Tim. 3:1`.
REALIZING that we are now living in the very times referred to by the Apostle, some may inquire, How can this be? Are not these times, in comparison with times past, especially favorable to the prosperity of the Church? Time was when fire and sword and guillotine and rack were systematically employed to exterminate the true saints of God, when the Word of God was a book prohibited, and when the prison and the dungeon rewarded the faithful searching of the Scriptures. And is there not also more Truth due and understood now than formerly, as well as full liberty (if a man is pleased to exercise it) to believe and teach, either in private or in public, whatever he believes to be Truth?
Yes, such are the favorable conditions of our day. Never, in all the history of the Church, has there been a day of such privilege and blessing--such increase of knowledge and general intelligence, such facilities for the general diffusion of knowledge and such breadth of individual liberty--of conscience, of speech and of action --as today. The spirit of liberty is abroad in the earth, and though the wily enemies that once fettered and handcuffed and imprisoned it still live, and would fain imprison it as before, they regretfully realize that the soaring eagle is on the wing and may never be pinioned again. But hand in hand with all these advantages, strange to say, comes the Church's greatest peril. True, there is little peril to physical life, or earthly property; but these, to the true saints, are of minor importance, for they count not their earthly life dear unto them if by any means they may attain the divine nature and glory to which they are called.
The peril of these times is to the spiritual nature of the saints and to their valuable inheritance in the exceeding great and precious promises of God, which are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus. Subtle influences are now at work seeking to dwarf and extinguish the spiritual life and to rob the saints of their glorious hope, to sap stealthily the very foundations of Christianity, and thus effectually to overthrow the whole superstructure of the Christian faith in the minds of many, causing them thus to stumble and lose their glorious inheritance as joint-heirs with Christ.
The present besetments, being of this subtle character, are the more calculated to delude and ensnare, so that if one allows himself to be for a moment off his guard, the agencies of the Adversary will gain an advantage and use it to entrap the unwary one. And God will permit such snares because only those who are loyal and faithful, and therefore ever watchful, are counted worthy to escape their strong delusion. "Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."--`Matt. 21:36`.
MANNER OF APPROACH OF THESE TIMES
The Apostle forewarns the Church, not only of the certainty of such perils, and of their character, but also of their manner of approach. On one occasion he said, "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. (Such were the great and destructive papal powers.) Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them." (`Acts 20:29,30`.) Some of these Paul and the early Church encountered in their day.
Paul was often in peril among false brethren who, concerning the faith, had made shipwreck, and who greatly withstood his words--his efforts to build up the
::R4728 : page 390::
Church in the most holy faith. (`2 Cor. 11:26`; `I Tim. 1:19`; `2 Tim. 4:14-17`.) And he shows that from such false brethren, brethren who have erred from the Truth and become teachers of false doctrine, will come the Church's greatest peril in these last times. (`2 Tim. 2:16-18`; `3:5`.) And in order that we might recognize and beware of them, he very minutely described them, though the clear significance of the warning is somewhat beclouded by a faulty translation, which reads as follows:--
"For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,* truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good; traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth."
The description as here translated, the reader will observe, is incongruous; for men of such villainous character could have no form of godliness. Read the description again and consider, How could a proud, covetous, boastful blasphemer, a truce-breaker, a false accuser, incontinent and fierce, a despiser of those that are good, a heady, high-minded, pleasure-loving traitor, have any form of godliness whatever, or deceive any one in this respect? Such a fierce character and bold blasphemer could not possibly palm himself off as a child of God; nor would he attempt it. The fact is that our translators did not fully comprehend the Apostle's language, and in rendering it into English they put the heaviest possible construction upon the Greek words, and thus the picture of these persons is overdrawn. Thus, for instance, the Greek word here rendered "blasphemers" (`V. 3`) is blasphemos, which signifies one speaking injuriously, or an evil-speaker.
Now, judging merely by the word, regardless of the context, we would not know whether in this instance the evil-speaking is carried to the extent of revilings or not; but as it stands related to the context--in view of the after statement that these have a form of godliness (`V. 5`), though lacking its real power--we must conclude that those milder or more subtle forms of evil-speaking, which would be consistent with hypocritical forms of godliness, are referred to, and therefore that our English word blaspheme, though it means evil-speaking, is too strong a term by which here to translate the Greek word blasphemos; for the full and generally understood significance of the English word blaspheme is--"To speak of the Supreme Being in terms of impious irreverence, to revile or speak reproachfully of God, Christ, or the holy Spirit--to speak wickedly of, to utter abuse or calumny against, to speak reproachfully of."--Webster.
So also the word apeithes rendered "disobedient," signifies not persuaded; and the expression "disobedient to parents" would consequently signify not of the same persuasion, or not of the same mind as were the parents. The word anosios, rendered "unholy," which signifies unkind, or unholy, would likewise, in view of the context, be better rendered by the milder English term, unkind. The word aspondos rendered "truce-breakers" (`V. 3`), signifies irreconcilable or implacable--i.e., stubborn or constant in enmity. The word akrates, rendered "incontinent," signifies more properly, without strength, or without self-control. Though this thought is also in the English word "incontinent," a coarser meaning generally attaches to the word. The word anemeros, rendered "fierce," signifies not mild, savage. That is, it may be a great or a small lack of mildness, amounting in some cases to savage bitterness. But, again, the fierce or savage idea is not compatible with any pretentions to godliness, as intimated in `verse 5`. The word aphilagathos, rendered "despisers of those that are good," would thus be better rendered not friendly to the good.
Thus revised, the Apostle's language reads as follows: "For men shall be lovers of their own selves (selfish), covetous, boasters, proud, evil-speakers, not of the same mind as were their forefathers (i.e., devisers of new doctrines), unthankful, unkind, irreconcilable, false accusers, without self-control, not mild, not friendly to those that are good--traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God (i.e., preferring their own will or pleasure to the will or pleasure of God); having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth."
"MEN OF YOUR OWN SELVES SHALL ARISE SPEAKING
It should be observed also that the word men, in `verse 2`, is emphatic in the Greek text, as shown in the Emphatic Diaglott, thus indicating that a particular class of men is here referred to, which, according to the description, can be none other than those mentioned in `Acts 20:29,30`, viz., men "of your own selves (men of your own company, men whom you have hitherto regarded as members of the Body of Christ, and who still claim to be such), who shall arise speaking perverse things (perverting the Truth.
But why, you ask, should any one who had once received the Truth desire to pervert it? The Apostle answers that their object is) to draw away disciples after them." And for this purpose, of leading away disciples after them, they keep up the form of godliness, although they deny its power--the only power by means of which any of the fallen race can be reckoned godly or righteous in God's sight, viz., the power of the precious blood of Christ, which cleanseth us from all sin, as long as we appreciate and accept this salvation through faith in his blood.
Well may we inquire, as we realize that we are living in the last days here referred to, Is there such a class of enemies to the Truth and to the Church actually in existence today? Truly, the voice of prophecy has never set up a false alarm, or foretold an uncertain event. The perilous times have come and the foretold perils are all about us. Side by side in the same communities with the humble, faithful, consecrated saints--in the same little assemblings together of those who have escaped from the bondage of Babylon, in the same households, and often at the same table of the Lord, there has also been developing a class who are "lovers of their own selves (selfish), covetous (of honors and distinction and the praise of men--ambitious), boasters (as though the credit of the Truth now due and received were in some way due to them, and as though they had a right therefore to alter and amend it at their pleasure), proud" (of that knowledge which should be received with only humility and thankfulness, and which can be retained only under these conditions).
Because the light of the newly unfolding Truth has dawned upon their pathway, they, in common with the faithful saints, no longer are of the same mind as were their parents; but the goodness of God thus manifested to them, instead of cultivating in them a spirit of thankfulness
*The Sinaitic, the oldest and most reliable MS., omits the words, "without natural affection," they being no part of the original text.
::R4728 : page 391::
and co-operation, which is its design, seems to arouse a spirit of pride and ambition, which does not long hesitate to make merchandise of the Truth for ambitious ends, however trivial and foolish those ends may be. And in pursuance of the ambitious policy, by degrees they become "evil-speakers (against the doctrine of Christ and those who believe and teach it), unkind, unfriendly to those that are good (who hold fast the Truth in righteousness), and false accusers" (of such). As they proceed in this way they seem to lose all former strength of Christian character. They become irreconcilable to the Truth, so that neither Scripture, nor reason, nor the example of the faithful, has power to restore them. Loving their own wills more than the will of God, they grow more and more proud and boastful of their attainments-- high-minded and heady. Not submitting themselves to the Head of the Body, Christ Jesus, they are ambitious to head new factions themselves, and thus they turn traitors to the Truth.
They claim, too, to be very earnest students of the Word of God; and so they are, but they never come to a knowledge of the Truth. They are after something new, some new and peculiar "find" in the mine of God that will attract the wondering gaze of many curious disciples. But, alas for their purposes! There are no such real curiosities in the blessed Word of God; but the zeal of these ambitious ones is equal to the emergency, and one after another the actual truths are beclouded, distorted and perverted to this ignoble end and presented as newly-found truths. And the unwary receive them as such, not recognizing at first that they are subversive of the entire system of Divine Truth. Thus their faith in the truths already learned is unwittingly undermined; they are caught in the snare of the Enemy; and as they continue to give ear to these seductive influences they become more and more entangled, until, having lost their anchorage, they find themselves adrift on a vast sea of unbelief, floating they know not whither. Like their leaders, they may retain the form of godliness, but have lost its power.
THEIR POLICIES SHALL BE VERY SEDUCTIVE
But there is another feature of the description of these false teachers, whose ambitions place so many perils in the pathway of the saints, which should not be overlooked. `Verses 6 and 8` describe, or rather illustrate, the manner in which the influence of such teachers will be brought to bear upon the Church. Their opposition is not expressed in bold, defiant terms, and emphasized and enforced with vehemency. As here intimated, their policy is crafty, deceitful, sly, under pretentions of godliness, love of truth and zeal for the truth. Their influence will be exerted somewhat after the manner of a vile class mentioned in `verse 6`, who "creep into houses and lead captive silly women, laden with sin, and led away by various inordinate desires." Not that such will be the actual immoral character of these teachers, but that their policy will be similarly seductive.
Their actual course is more particularly described in `verse 8` thus: "Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the Truth--men of corrupt minds (corrupted or turned aside from the Truth), reprobate concerning the faith." Thus we are shown that the opposition to the Truth will be manifested in a subtle, deceptive course similar to that of those opposers of Moses. They opposed Moses by doing something similar to what he did, thus confusing the people. God had given Moses power to do certain miracles in order to prove to Israel that Moses was his Divinely empowered agent. And Satan forthwith empowered his agents to duplicate those miracles, which they did to some extent, not perfectly, thus endeavoring to confuse the minds of the people and to unsettle their confidence in Moses and his leading and teaching.
Just so it is today. The studied effort of false teachers --false brethren developing in the very midst of the Church--is to offset the Truth by plausible forms of error, to unsettle confidence both in the Truth and in all teachers of the Truth, thus to lead away disciples after them and their theories. And in consequence of the allurements of these false teachers, and of the unfaithfulness of many to the love and service of the Truth which they have received, a class in the midst of the Church will give much encouragement to the ambitions of these false brethren; "for," says the Apostle (`2 Tim. 4:3,4`), "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own desires (desires for something new) shall they gather to themselves teachers, having itching ears (for new and strange things); and they shall turn away their ears from the Truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
Nor will this class be only a small minority; for, in order that the faithful may not be discouraged when brought face to face with these things, they are forewarned (`Psa. 91:7`) that, before this conflict ends, a thousand shall fall at their side and ten thousand at their right hand. Thus, realizing that God foreknew it all and that the accomplishment of his glorious purposes is not in the least endangered thereby, they may still have confidence and joy in view of the glorious consummation of his Plan, and of their promised position in it.
"FROM SUCH TURN AWAY"
But how shall the faithful believers act towards these false brethren in their midst? Shall they take them by the hand, as formerly, and bid them God-speed? Shall they recognize them as brethren in Christ? Are they owned of God as sons? Shall we indeed walk with them and be guiltless? What does the Apostle say we shall do? He says, "From such turn away." (`V. 5`.) "Be not ye partakers with them; for ye were formerly darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light...and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (`Eph. 5:6-11`.) And the Apostle John (`2 John 11`) emphasizes Paul's counsel, saying, "If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed; for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
Such "evil men," says Paul (`V. 13`), "shall wax worse and worse (more and more bold and aggressive, as they receive encouragement from that rapidly increasing class who will no longer endure sound doctrine), deceiving (others) and being deceived" (themselves--becoming more firmly intrenched in the snares of their own weaving, so as to make it impossible to extricate them). But, nevertheless, the time is coming when they shall proceed no further; for their folly shall be manifested unto all men, as was the folly of Jannes and Jambres, who could not forever withstand the teachings of Moses, the servant of God.--`V. 9`.
Then Paul proceeds to call attention to the ground of Timothy's confidence in himself as a faithful teacher of Divine Truth, saying, "But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured; but out of them all the Lord delivered me."--`Vs. 10,11`.
Such are always the marks of a true teacher. His
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doctrine will be that which the most thorough investigation of the Scriptures most clearly proves and establishes beyond all peradventure. His manner of life will be consistent both with his faith and with his consecration to the Lord. His purpose will be the building up of the Church in the most holy faith. His faith will be positive and clear--not mere guesswork, but knowledge based upon the sure Word of God, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning. And his great love for the Church will be manifest, as was Paul's, and as was Moses' love for Israel, by long-suffering, patience and meek endurance of persecution, both from an opposing world and from false brethren arising in the midst of God's people. And in such persecutions no true teacher will be lacking; for "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (`V. 12`.) Such has been the experience of every true teacher that God has ever raised up to deliver and guide his people. Witness Noah, Moses, Paul and Luther.
But, Beloved, our advice to you in these perilous times, when error is taking on its most baneful and deceitful forms, and when it is finding its most active agents amongst false brethren and sisters in your very midst, and when fidelity to Truth, therefore, occasions the severing of some of the tenderest social ties you have ever known, even among those with whom you once held sweet converse as you walked together to the house of God--yes, in these times let us again urge the counsel of Paul-- "Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them"; for it is written (`John 6:45`), "They shall be all taught of God." Whoever the human agent may be that God has made use of to bring you to a knowledge of the truth, he was simply an index finger to help you trace it for yourself on the sacred page; and in humility and faithfulness he made no greater claim than this, assuring you that the holy Scriptures to which he ever and continually pointed are indeed "able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus"; and that "all Scripture, given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
THE PRECIOUS TRUTH IS GOD'S MESSAGE
Therefore, dearly beloved, what you have learned concerning God's glorious Plan of the Ages, and concerning your privileged place in that Plan, as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, his Son, and concerning the conditions upon which you hold this precious promise and may finally realize it, and concerning that great foundation doctrine of our redemption from sin and death through the precious blood of "the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all," upon which fact rests the whole superstructure of the wondrous and glorious Plan, hold fast these things, knowing of whom you have learned them. This precious Truth is God's message to you, not man's. No such high and glorious hope could ever have entered the mind of mortal man had not God revealed it by his Spirit, as he has done through faith in his Word, in his own due time. It is all in that Word. Search and see for yourselves; and be not faithless but believing. It comes not to you on the miserable authority of vain imagination, or dreams, or doubtful visions, but on the authority of God's most holy and authentic Word. True, it is almost too good to believe, but is it not just like our God? Does it not gloriously illustrate the breadth of his mighty mind, the scope of his marvelous wisdom and power, and the depth of his love and grace?
Continue, therefore, in the things which thou hast learned, and hast been assured of (having proved them yourselves from the Scriptures), and be not of them who turn away their ears from the Truth and are turned unto fables. And observing those who have a form of godliness, but who, nevertheless, by their false teachings deny the power thereof, "from such turn away," and "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
We cannot serve two masters; we cannot espouse the cause of Truth and the cause of error as well; nor can we retain the friendship of God and of the advocates of error also. Who is on the Lord's side? Let them rally around the Lord's standard. All told, they will be only a "little flock." Like Gideon's band, the company now gathered by the proclamation of the harvest-message of Truth must be tested and sifted until only the loyal, faithful, true-hearted, brave and valiant soldiers of the cross remain; and to these, though their numbers be small, will the laurels of victory belong when Truth and righteousness finally prevail. Let no man boast of numbers now when the highest interests of the elect of God are all bound up with the faithful few, to whom it will be the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom.
"Count me the swords that have come."
"Lord, thousands on thousands are ready."
"Lo, these are too many, and with them are some
Whose hearts and whose hands are not steady.
He whose soul does not burn,
Let him take up his tent and return."
"Count me the swords that remain."
"Lord, hundreds on hundreds are daring."
"These yet are too many for me to attain
To the victory I am preparing.
Lead them down to the brink
Of the waters of Marah to drink."
"Lord, those who remain are but few,
And the hosts of the foe are appalling,
And what can a handful such as we do?"
"When ye hear from beyond my voice calling
Sound the trump! Hold the light!
Great Midian will melt in your sight."
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THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF EVILS
"Abstain from every form of evil."--`I Thess. 5:22`.
IN the Revised Version the word appearance is rendered form--"abstain from every form of evil." Evils have different forms. Sometimes they are crude and repulsive forms; sometimes they are attractive forms. No matter what the form, if we know the thing to be evil, sinful, injurious, either to ourselves or to others, we are to abstain from it. The Apostle has enumerated some of these forms of evil, namely, "Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revelings and such like, of the which I have told you before, that they that do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God." (`Gal. 5:19-21`.) He says that these are the works of the flesh and that they are manifest.
To Christians these forms of evil must be very repulsive, because to be a Christian at all, one must have the New Mind. And the New Mind, in proportion as it is developed, will cleave to that which is good. We are to remember, however, the Scriptural admonition that all
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of these grosser evils have, for the Christian, a more refined form, as, for instance, when our Lord declared that "He that hateth his brother is a murderer." This is quite a fine line of distinction that applies to the Christian. We can see that that spirit in a Christian which would content itself with hating, instead of killing, a brother would be a very evil condition for the heart and would mean death to the New Creature.
Our Lord defines adultery as not merely the outward act, but also the having of an adulterous feeling in the heart--the having of a purpose or willingness in the heart. Hence the New Creature, taking this standpoint, should be earnest and zealous to guard his heart. And so with Covetousness. It is covetous to be discontented with what we have and desirous of obtaining what others have. This is one form of selfishness, and the spirit of selfish desires is evil. In fact, we might say that every form of evil, so far as we can discern, is a form of selfishness. No evil thing that we can think of in humanity would be apart from selfishness--the desire to have something, to be something. These things, leading on to their culmination, would mean a desire to be a usurper of power--to grasp things that are not our own--an improper condition of lust for power, lust for wealth, etc.
ACTIONS, WORDS AND THOUGHTS
Evils may be summed up into three forms--actions, words and thoughts. Evil actions are those which would be easily discerned by others. Evil words might not be quite so manifest. Evil thoughts, along any of the lines referred to by the Apostle, or along any other lines, are injurious, sinful, and should be abstained from. If, by reason of the weaknesses we have inherited and which belong to our mortal body, we be not fully able to master these evil propensities, we must show God that we are striving against them to the best of our ability. And as to what is the ability of each, is for himself and God to determine.
We should abstain not only from the evil things, but we should also seek to abstain from every appearance of evil. We should abstain, so far as possible, from doing things that we know to be good, if our friends or neighbors might misunderstand and consider these things to be evil. In order that our influence for the Truth may be the greater, we should avoid, not only evil in its every form, but everything that has an evil appearance.
To our mind, evil thinking is one of the greatest evils with which God's people have to contend. They can restrain actions and words to a considerable extent and they are, as the Apostle says, to seek to bring also every thought into obedience to the will of Christ. This does not mean that an evil thought would not cross the pathway of the mind. But the character of the thought should be discerned, whether it is mean or hurtful, and if so, it should be considered as a deadly foe and immediately a warfare should be waged against it, lest it fasten itself in some degree.
Has the Apostle suggested an impossibility when he says, "Abstain from every form of evil"? It is possible for us to abstain as New Creatures, to be out of sympathy with all forms of evil--to be antagonistic thereto. But on account of the imperfections of the flesh, one may not always be able to do this actually. The flesh is merely reckoned dead. It is the duty of the New Creature to see that the evil thought is battled against, if, indeed, it should ever attain full development. It is to wage this warfare against sin that we have enlisted with the great Captain of our salvation. He showed his own fidelity to righteousness and is the Father's Agent for abolishing sin.
And it is for those who would walk in the Master's footsteps to join in this crusade against sin. The first place to begin the crusade is in our own minds, in our own dealings. The Scriptures tell us to fight a good fight in our own flesh--not against sin in someone else. And to this our Lord refers when he warns us to overcome in ourselves ambition, pride, lasciviousness, etc.--not to let them conquer us as New Creatures. We are to conquer these things in the fallen flesh, in which we all share--some more and some less. According to our zeal we will have the Lord's approval. And according to unfaithfulness in this matter, we shall lack that approval.
All who serve the Lord's cause in any capacity--as Pilgrims, Colporteurs, etc.--should seek to keep their
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bodies under and live after the manner of the teachings of the Scriptures--and they will be blessed proportionately as they do this. And in proportion as they are less careful, they will be less blessed--less skilful in the preaching of the Word and in the service of the truth.
GOD'S DEALINGS UNDER THE DIFFERENT COVENANTS
The Decalogue of the Law Covenant was composed of prohibitions--"Thou shalt not." God's dealings with those who will become members of the "House of Sons" seem to be different from this. Instead of telling us what we shall not do, he tells us what we shall do.
How will it be with those with whom God will deal during the existence of the Messianic Kingdom, under the New Covenant arrangement? We answer that during the reign of Christ they will be under a very similar arrangement to that of the Jews under Moses. Thou shalt, and Thou shalt not, will be enforced by the great Mediator. And the enforcing will be necessary, because of the sins and imperfections and degradation in which the people will be. In harmony with this we read that "Whosoever will not obey that Prophet will be destroyed from among the people." (`Acts 3:23`.) The word obey implies a command and that the command is backed up by the authority to enforce.
The fact is that there will be a reign of Law in Messiah's Kingdom. "And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (`Isa. 2:3`.) And those who will not fall into line with this law will have tribulation that they may learn righteousness. "The judgments of the Lord will be abroad in the earth" (`Isa. 26:9`) and the people will take notice of these. They will not be dealt with as under the Covenant of Grace. The will will not be taken as instead of the deed. And they will not have the Advocate.
On the contrary, the great Mediator will, during the thousand years of the Mediatorial Kingdom, instruct and reward and bless and uplift all the willing and obedient, to the intent that all those during that reign who desire to be helped will be helped and will be ready to be turned over to the Almighty at the close of the Age. "And when all things shall be subdued under him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." (`I Cor. 15:28`.) Not, therefore, until the end of that Age will any of the World, under the New Covenant arrangement, reach sonship. But if, by that time, they have been perfected as sons, and will endure the tests then given, the Father will accept them and give them the blessings of eternal life, etc., as sons.
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A certain Scripture gives us intimation of how this will proceed. This Scripture shows us the injunctions and precepts God will put upon the world. "And this shall be the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (`Jer. 31:33`.) He also says, "And I will give them one heart; and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh." (`Ezek. 11:19`.) This brief statement implies a full restitution to all that was lost in Adam.
Adam was created perfect, but the depravity of mankind and the intensification of this in many cases have brought the world today to a condition of stoniness of heart, until the inhumanity of man toward man is appalling. The precepts of God will be gradually brought before the human mind and engraved and interwoven in the whole fibre of his being, so that man at the end of the Millennial Age will be as Adam was in the beginning-- fully in accord with every principle of righteousness and sympathetic with everything that is good and unsympathetic with everything that is evil. This condition will come to be the very fibre of human nature again and only to such as will attain this will come the blessing of eternal life.
We read that God will test all whom he will receive. We read of how Satan, at the close of the Mediatorial reign, will be loosed to test all whom God will have lifted up out of human imperfection. This will not be done to see whether or not they are perfect, because they will be perfect, but it will be to see whether or not, in their perfection, they will be loyal to God. All such as will not stand this test will be destroyed as not worthy of having the great blessings of eternal life and Divine favor!
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INIQUITOUS GOVERNMENT SUCCESSFUL
--JANUARY 22.--`I KINGS 16:23-33`.--
"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people."--`Proverbs 14:34`.
THE Omri dynasty of Israel was a successful one according to worldly standards, but a failure from the Divine standpoint. Omri, a great general, succeeded to Israel's throne after the death of Jeroboam. He was very successful and conquered the Moabites, to the East of the Jordan, putting them under an annual tribute of the fleece of two hundred thousand sheep. He built a new Capital, the city of Samaria, and successfully outranked Jeroboam as a misleader of his people, along religious lines. According to Israel's Covenant with the Almighty there was but the one Levitical priesthood and the one holy temple of Jehovah's presence for the whole people of Israel, and it was at Jerusalem. As worldly wisdom guided Jeroboam to completely separate the ten tribes from the two tribes by establishing new places of worship and simplifying the worship and symbolizing God by a golden calf, so the same spirit of worldly wisdom suggested to Omri a still further departure from God and a still closer approach to the customs and idolatry of surrounding nations.
Omri died, or, according to the records, "Omri slept with his fathers." We are not from this declaration to draw the inference that as a wicked man he went to eternal torment and that the nature of the torment is sleep. Neither are we to think of Omri as saintly and going to heaven and to imagine that those in heaven are asleep. Neither are we to think of him as having gone to Purgatory and that the experiences there are drowsy. We must leave all such unscriptural notions respecting the dead, good and bad. We must come back to the Bible and from it learn that all who die, like St. Stephen (`Acts 7:60`), fall asleep to await the morning of the resurrection, when the Redeemer will call all forth from the tomb. (`John 5:28,29`, Rev. Ver.) Then, as Daniel declares, "Many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake"; a few to glory and honor, the many to shame and age-lasting contempt--from which they will be obliged to purge themselves by obedience to the Divine requirements under Messiah's glorious reign of righteousness. --`Dan. 12:2`.
AHAB AND JEZEBEL
Ahab's name signifies, "Like his father." And surely he was! His name was appropriate. His was a reign still more successful in unrighteousness. For twenty-two years he devoted himself to the further undermining of true religion and to the introduction of the worst forms of licentious, heathen idolatry. He was greatly assisted in this course by his wife--Jezebel, the daughter of the King of the Sidonians. Her name signifies chaste; yet she used her great influence with her husband and throughout the nation for the furtherance of unchastity in connection with the orgies known as the religious rites and ceremonies, connected with the worship of Baal and of "Ashtoreth," the female divinity worshipped. In connection with this worship human lives were sacrificed, usually those of children--just as was found in Alaska when, in 1867, it came into the possession of the United States--human sacrifices were frequent--particularly in connection with the laying of a foundation for a great house.
LESSONS HERE FOR US
All civilized people are deeply interested in earthly governments and their success. We all crave social and financial prosperity. Nevertheless it is still true that prosperity is injurious in proportion as it separates the people from the Divine arrangements and the blessings which thereto attach. Only righteousness can truly exalt a nation. Every form of iniquity is injurious, however it may at the time seem contrary to this. Ours is the day of the greatest worldly prosperity this earth has ever known. But alas! it is not a day of religious prosperity. On the contrary, there never was a time when unbelief in a personal God and in the Bible as his revelation was so general amongst intelligent people. Our church edifices are becoming temples of fashion, concert and lecture halls, while the real worship which alone is pleasing to the Almighty is far removed--little thought of.
The worship of Mammon, the bowing to the golden calf, the sacrificing of lives to the acquirement of wealth, belong to our day as truly as to that of Ahab--but on a more refined scale and therefore the more deceptive and insidious. It affects the poor as well as the rich, too. The poor often are merely the unsuccessfully ambitious, hence often bitter and discontented.
Continually we find that God uses the wrath of man to praise him. The effect of the prosperity of Ahab and Jezebel was two-fold: it ensnared and degraded one class, while it aroused and separated from itself another class--
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those who worshipped God in spirit and in truth. Such left the ten-tribe kingdom and its idolatry and identified themselves with the two-tribe kingdom of Judah and its true worship.
So it is today. The success of Mammon, the rejection of the Bible by the Higher Critics and their lordly boasts of ability to give us something better than the Word of God, and in general Mammon worship, is awakening the more saintly people of our day to separate themselves and to say in the language of Joshua, "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
ANTITYPICAL AHAB AND JEZEBEL
As all Christian students know, Jezebel, Ahab and Elijah were used of the Lord as types, and their experiences foreshadowed much greater things in the experience of the Church, spiritual Israel, during this Gospel Age.
Ahab typified civil power. Jezebel typified a religious system. The improper marriage of Ahab and Jezebel, contrary to the Jewish Law, typified the marriage or union of Church and State. The progress of evil under this union is portrayed in the Book of Revelation, where Jezebel is specially mentioned by name. (`Rev. 2:20-23`.) The Lord charged that the antitypical Jezebel, the Church system, was suffered or permitted to teach and seduce his people from the proper course of Christian living. The same Scriptures represent Elijah, who was persecuted by Jezebel, through her husband, as a type of true believers of this Age persecuted by a false Church through the arm of civil power.
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JEHOSHAPHAT'S ONE MISTAKE
--JANUARY 29.--`II CHRONICLES 17:1-13`.--
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."--`Matt. 6:33`.
WHILE Ahab was king of Israel, Jehoshaphat succeeded to the throne of Judah. He had the advantage that his parents were godly people--a great advantage. As suggested in our last study, the iniquity and idolatry of Israel reacted favorably upon Judah, just as the drunkenness and profligacy of a parent sometimes reacts upon his children, who perceive his folly and learn by his mistakes. Moreover the idolatry of Israel, which drove its most saintly characters of all the tribes to Judah, enriched the latter nation in moral tone and character. This included all of the priests and Levites who were still loyal to God and to the worship which he had established.
All these things produced a healthy sentiment which the young king Jehoshaphat shared and, as the head of the nation, exemplified.
Encouraged thus, the young king began a general crusade against every idolatrous place and custom in his kingdom. As Ahab exceeded his father Omri as an evil-doer, so Jehoshaphat exceeded his father Asa as an upholder of the Divine Law. Indeed we remember that in Asa's later years he became proud and self-conscious and in a measure for a time rebellious against the Divine arrangements.
PROSPERITY IN DIVINE FAVOR
Jehoshaphat's kingdom prospered. He fortified its various boundaries, especially toward the land of Israel, Judah's nearest neighbor. Neighboring smaller nations sought Judah's favor and for it paid tribute and presents until Jehoshaphat's kingdom was very prosperous. Thus fidelity to the Lord was rewarded with prosperity. If some from this are trying to draw the lesson that all prosperous persons and nations are honorable, righteous and in Divine fellowship, they surely err. Those also err who claim that adversity, poverty, sickness are sure evidences of Divine disfavor and a sinful life.
Not only should we remember that the bad kings, Omri and Ahab, were prosperous, but we remember also that many wicked nations and iniquitous customs have prospered and are prospering today. Prosperity, therefore, is not always a sign of Divine favor. To Jehoshaphat and his kingdom, however, prosperity was a sign of favor because Judah still represented God's chosen nation in a special manner. According to God's Covenant with them they would be blessed in proportion as they maintained their loyalty to their agreement--their loyalty to God. But this promise or Covenant was not made with mankind in general, but merely with the one nation of Israel, which, at the time of our study, was specially represented by the Kingdom of Judah. If we would see that righteousness does not always bring peace and worldly prosperity, we have only to look at the Master himself and at his most faithful followers to see the contrary. Moreover this is the Master's assurance to his followers: "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace"; "Marvel not that the world hateth you; ye know that it hated me before it hated you." "Whosoever will live godly in this present time shall suffer persecution."
In other words, the systems of rewards and punishments which justice would indicate are not now being enforced. God now arranges that his spiritual family shall walk by faith and not by sight; and to give them trials of faith he frequently permits their suffering and disadvantage in earthly interests to test their loyalty and obedience --to demonstrate them as overcomers, faithful unto death, in their adherence to principles of righteousness. To these the promise is that when found worthy they shall receive the heavenly inheritance. Then will come the world's trial time.
But when Messiah's reign shall begin, all this will be changed and every wrong act and word and thought will receive prompt punishment, and every good effort will be rewarded and encouraged. Thus the Scriptures declare, "When the judgments (righteous dealings) of the Lord are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." The blessed opportunities of that time will belong to all mankind except the Church. The specially called class of this Age have the special blessing of hearing ears and understanding hearts and a call to the heavenly portion--the "High Calling." Thus, my dear readers, we see that our trials and difficulties, rightly appreciated and accepted, are blessings for us, because they thus work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory--than the world will receive. The highest rewards for the world will be restitutionary, earthly--to attain perfect manhood. Thus we see God's provision in Christ to be eternal human life for mankind in general, and eternal life on the spirit plane for the elect Church, and eternal death for those who, after experiencing to the full Divine mercy and opportunity, shall sin wilfully.
JEHOSHAPHAT'S ONE MISTAKE
Like others, this king, no doubt, made many mistakes,
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blunders, but his most important mistake was in affiliating with Ahab, king of Israel. There is a lesson here for all of God's people. "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers"--neither by marriage ties nor by business partnerships and close friendships. "What communion hath light with darkness?"--`2 Cor. 6:14-18`.
Ahab made war and invited Jehoshaphat to go with him. It was expected to be an easy conquest, but the Lord's blessing was not with it, as Jehoshaphat later learned, escaping barely with his life. But his still earlier mistake was in arranging a marriage between his son and the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. No doubt he considered this a wise method of ultimately re-uniting the two kingdoms--but it was worldly wisdom--foolishness--contrary to the wisdom from above. The Lord's disapproval of Jehoshaphat's fellowship with Ahab was indicated. The Prophet was sent to him, saying, "Shouldst thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore wrath is upon thee from before the Lord."-- `II Chron. 19:2`.
God's people can readily draw a lesson from all this, without further suggestions from us.
Our Golden Text refers to the Kingdom to which spiritual Israelites are now invited. To seek it means to seek a place with the Redeemer in the glory and power of his coming Kingdom. Those who seek it may apparently lose in temporal advantages, but by faith they recognize that all things, even trials, difficulties and privations, are working together for good to their spiritual advantage, preparing them for the Kingdom.
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THREE AND A HALF YEARS WITHOUT RAIN
--FEBRUARY 5.--`I. KINGS 17:1-16`.--
They that seek the Lord shall not
want any good thing.--`Psa. 34:10`.
ELIJAH the Prophet was God's messenger for reproving King Ahab, Jezebel his wife, and the ten tribes of Israel who supported them. As we have seen, wickedness and idolatry flourished for a time with national prosperity. Then there came a change, a drouth for three and a half years--a special dispensation of Divine providence--a retribution or punishment upon Israel. We do not wish
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to convey the thought that every drouth, famine, pestilence, etc., should be considered a judgment from the Almighty. The whole world is under Divine sentence or condemnation of death, and God permits cyclones, earthquakes, drouth, famine, pestilences, without sending them, except that in a general way they stand related to the present reign of sin and death, as of the curse not yet lifted.
But in the case of Israel matters were different. At Mt. Sinai Israel entered into Covenant relationship with God and he with them. The special terms of that Covenant were that God should deal with their nation differently than with others--that he would treat them as his people and protect them from the evils incidental to the curse, if they would serve and obey him. Under that compact not only were they to receive blessings if faithful, but equally they were sure to receive stripes, punishments, if they were disobedient and forsook the Lord and their share of the Covenant. The three and a half years' famine described in this study was, therefore, in Israel's case, specifically a punishment from the Lord for their sins.
This is the signification of the Lord's statement through the Prophet, "Is there evil in the city and the Lord hath not done it?" Some have mistakenly interpreted this to mean that God holds himself responsible for all the moral evils of mankind. Quite to the contrary, the Lord declares respecting his own Government that "His way is perfect." The word evil in this text is old style English, signifying any disaster or trouble or affliction. With the Israelites God wished it to be clearly understood that he was responsible, both for their blessings and for their tribulations, all of which were intended to purify them.
ELIJAH THE PROPHET
Under Divine guidance, Elijah, at the appropriate time, presented himself to King Ahab, clothed according to his custom, in exceedingly plain garments. In the name of the Lord he reproved the king for the idolatries practised in his kingdom and announced what the king doubtless considered a vain boast; namely, that there would be neither rain nor dew in the land of Israel until Elijah would command it. And the drouth came as the Prophet of the Lord predicted.
As months grew into years and the drouth continued, the king caused search to be made for Elijah, with a view to either entreating or threatening him, to the intent that the drouth might be broken. But Elijah, under the Lord's direction, secreted himself near the Brook Cherith, where the ravens brought him food morning and evening until the brook dried up and, under the Lord's direction, Elijah went elsewhere.
While this story that the ravens fed Elijah sounds mythical, it has its parallels. The raven is a wise bird. A story is told of a young man sick in prison, to whom a raven brought food. Bishop Stanley's History of Birds tells of another incident thus: "Coming into the inn yard my chaise ran over and bruised the leg of a favorite Newfoundland dog, and while we were examining the injury, Ralph, the raven, looked on also. That night the dog was tied up under the manger with my horse and the raven not only visited him, but brought him bones and attended him with particular marks of kindness."
"Nor is it a wonderful case,
The wonder is to be renewed;
And many can say, to his praise,
He sends them by ravens their food.
Thus worldlings, though ravens indeed,
Though greedy and selfish their mind,
If God has a servant to feed,
Against their own wills can be kind."
THE WIDOW OF ZAREPHATH
Divine providence guided Elijah to the home of a poor widow, to whom the drouth and continued scarcity had proved a great trial. She had a little coarse flour left, which alone stood between herself and her son and starvation, so far as she could discern. The Prophet, meeting her, asked for a drink of water and a small cake of bread. This was a severe test to the woman's faith and generosity. She explained the situation, indicating her desire to accede to the Prophet's wishes, yet loth to part with her all. Elijah replied, Fear not. Bake for yourself and for your son, but the first cake make for me and bring to me. Then he explained to her the Lord's message: "The barrel of meal shall
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not waste, neither shall the cruise of oil fail until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth." The word of the Lord was fulfilled. Miraculously the supplies were increased little by little, just as required for use.
There is a lesson for the Lord's people in this--a lesson that, even in our own extremities, we should exercise sympathy towards others in like condition or worse. The Lord loveth a cheerful giver. Those who give not, and those who give grudgingly miss, therefore, much of the Lord's blessing. We should not be foolish in our giving; but, while we have evidence that there is need, and particularly if the needy one be a child of God, we can well divide even our necessities with such. Our reward will be a realization of Divine approval and an increase in ourselves of the mind of the Lord. To such the Lord's promise is of his superabounding care. They are assured that all things shall work together for good to them, because they love God and are following in the path to which they were "called according to his purpose."
The Scriptures declare: "There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is proper and it tendeth to poverty." This widow scattered or divided her slender supply and thereby she increased it for many days, in harmony with this text. Our Golden Text, also, should not be forgotten: "They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing"--shall not lack anything good for them. The Lord in his wisdom may not give them riches or prominence. They must trust to his wisdom, his judgment, as to what things will be for their best, their highest good.
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THE GIFTS AND FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT
"And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love."--`I Cor. 13:13`.
FAITH may be viewed from two standpoints-- belief and trust. In the Scriptural use of the word faith, we understand it to be a belief in God and the things that we have reason to recognize as being of God--God's prophecies, the promises of his Word, etc., and a heart reliance on him--and not a belief in anything. The latter would be what we would term credulity. And the person who could believe anything would be foolish; whereas, he that believes what God has said has the Wisdom that cometh from above, and is, therefore, wise from the Scriptural standpoint.
We understand that the purpose and determination of the Christian should be to have this faith largely developed, and he should obtain it from the Scriptures. Many people have faith which they believe to be of God, but which, on investigation, they find to be unscriptural and not a faith in what has come from God, in what he has expressed, but from the traditions of the "Dark Ages" and from college professors, etc., and is quite contrary to the "faith once delivered to the saints."
In this particular sense we would understand faith to represent a heart-quality of trust in the Lord--something that has been acquired through the knowledge of God-- through acquaintance with him by the various means by which he has been pleased to reveal himself. This is a faith which cannot continue to subsist or increase unless knowledge shall increase, based upon the Divine Revelation, and full acceptance of it and the coming into harmony with the Almighty, so as to be able to apply the promises and to recognize that they belong to the individual.
We would consider faith, then, as belief in God and in his promises, as personal trust in God, giving one the rest and peace of God. As to how these views of faith agree with the words of our Lord, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth," and as to how they agree with the statement of the Apostle Paul in Corinthians respecting faith as a gift of the holy Spirit, we would say that in the first of these passages the rendering should be, "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find The Faith on the earth?" The implication is not that he will find no faith, but, Shall he find "The Faith (the Doctrine) once delivered unto the saints"; hence we understand our Lord's words to mean that when the Son of man cometh he will not find, save in a few, "The Faith once delivered unto the saints," but will find instead misconceptions.
And so we find that many Christian people, when talking on this subject, do not know what they are talking about. They have not "The Faith once delivered to the saints." Thus we are reminded of the statement of the Scriptures that "the inhabitants of the world have been made drunk" with the false doctrines which have perverted the Word of God. Instead of the "good tidings of great joy" they have been told bad tidings of most horrible torture. It is intimated in the Word that some will have The Faith. But the Lord implies that it will be a very small number who will possess it.
GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT WERE FOR EARLY CHURCH
Respecting the gifts of faith: At the very beginning of this Age gifts of speaking with tongues, gifts of interpreting tongues, gifts of healing, etc., were bestowed so that they might be exercised for the benefit of the people.
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It would require a great deal of faith to be able to say, as did Peter to the impotent man at the temple, "Arise and walk." One would need the "gift" in order to do this. And so with those who spoke with tongues. It would need to be a miraculous gift which would enable them to master any unknown language.
Those gifts which God chose to give were granted because the Church was in its infancy and needed them for encouragement. The gifts were given also for a witness, because the Church did not then have the Bible. The Old Testament was heard only occasionally in the synagogues of the Jews. The New Testament had not as yet been written. The early Church needed some means for instructing one another. Had it not been for these gifts there might have been frivolity, etc., among them. And so one would arise and speak in an unknown tongue; a gift of interpretation would be given to another, and he would rise and give the interpretation. These gifts were given amongst them as a sort of drawing power to cause the Lord's people to assemble themselves together. Thus was the Word of God sent out for a time through this imperfect channel.
We should not think that a higher development was indicated by the possession of these gifts, but, rather, these gifts were granted during the infancy of the Church, and we should not pray for them. The Scriptures show that either they were the gifts possessed by the Apostles or else, subsequently, they were the result of the impartation of the holy Spirit and laying on of the hands of the Apostles; as, for instance, when Philip, the deacon, sent the Apostle that he might lay hands upon the people that they might receive the gifts; evidently Philip had not the power to do this of himself.
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THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT NECESSARY TO SUCCESS IN
As to the desire for speaking with unknown tongues, the Apostle gave them a warning reproof. He said, "I would rather speak five words in the Church with my understanding--that by my voice I might teach others also--than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." (`I Cor. 14:19`.) He tells them that if any man possessed the gift of speaking with tongues, let him pray that he might interpret--that he might be able to express himself intelligibly to those to whom he was speaking, rather than in dark sayings. And then he proceeds to say that this strong desire for emulation in the possession of the gifts did not of itself indicate deep consecration to God. He tells them that if they spoke with the tongues of men and of angels, it would profit them nothing, if they did not have love. The possession of an unknown tongue did not imply that a man had reached a higher attainment and relationship to God.
He says that the fruits of the Spirit are more to be desired, which are these--meekness, gentleness, patience, fortitude, self-control, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness, love. St. Peter tells us, "If ye do these things, ye shall never fall, for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (`2 Pet. 1:10,11`.) But we might have all the gifts of the early Church and have no evidence whatever that we would be sure of a place in the Kingdom. Love excels all the other virtues, because it is the most enduring.
When we shall see and know thoroughly faith will, practically, have come to an end. And hope will be practically at an end when our hopes in our Heavenly Father's promises have reached fruition. But love had no beginning and it will have no end. God is love. Since God was without beginning, so Love was without beginning; because it is his character, his disposition; and as he endureth forever, so Love will endure forever.
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THE TRUE SHEPHERD AND HIS FLOCKS
"When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice."--`John 10:4`.
WE understand that the sheepfold was the Law Covenant arrangement under which Israel was placed at Sinai, that they were glad to be thus folded or put into the Lord's special care, and that Moses did all that he could for them as a kind of shepherd, but was not able to give them the liberty from the Law which they needed. Various others who pretended to be shepherds came afterwards. The Lord says that all these false shepherds who came before him were thieves and robbers. They did not come in through the door. They were endeavoring to take advantage of the sheep; hence they were selfish. He who is the Good Shepherd is willing to lay down his life for the sheep. It required the true Shepherd to bring about the conditions and the relationship thus expressed. "When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them." They needed to be led out into the green pastures. The fold is a place for rest and protection, but not a place for feeding.
So as respects the Law. The Apostle says that the Jews were shut up under the Law. Until the due time should come there was no way of escape. There was only the one door, which had not been opened, and which none of these would-be leaders could open. That door was the Door of Redemption. Our Lord, by laying down his life for the sheep, could open that door.
Having made satisfaction for the sins of his people, our Lord gained the right to be their Shepherd or Leader. When he puts them forth, he shows them the way they should walk. He is not only the Leader, but also the Shepherd to watch over and care for them. Thus he leads them through green pastures and finally will bring them to the heavenly fold. Jesus became the door of egress from the Jewish sheepfold, and there is no other egress. Any of the Jews who came out came through Christ. Any of them who did not come out through Christ are still shut up under the Law--to remain until the Mediatorial reign. Others might take advantage of the offer through Christ now, that they might have life and have it more abundantly. He is the good Shepherd. A stranger will the sheep not follow, because they know not the voice of strangers. This indicates that in the voice of the True Shepherd there is something that has the proper ring. And the sheep will not follow another having a different voice--a different sound or message.
Now is the Harvest time. The voices of the false shepherds who have temporarily bewildered some of the "sheep" are losing their influence and more are listening to the Voice of the True Shepherd, which is unlike that of any other voice, and which is unmistakable. In the sound is the chord of Justice mingled with those of Love and Wisdom and Power. All other theories and doctrines have no such power or harmonious sound as the glorious message of "good tidings" which the Father has sent us through his Son. The voice of the True Shepherd satisfies the longings of the sheep as nothing else can do.
"Send out thy light and truth, O Lord;
Let them our leaders be
To guide us to thy holy hill,
Where we shall worship thee."
The question has been suggested, In what way could we apply our Lord's statement to the Gentiles, "My sheep hear my voice and they follow me?" Our answer is that the Lord had sheep amongst the Gentiles; that is, those who were seeking to serve him. But at that time he had not received anyone from amongst the Gentiles--the middle wall of partition was still standing. But subsequently they had the opportunity of hearing his voice and following him, the middle wall of partition then being broken down. A little later than when he used the above words he said: "Other sheep have I; these also I must bring and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd." While this may be particularly applicable to the sheep of the next Age, it may not be amiss to apply it now to those who are received from amongst the Gentiles. In the next Age he will receive some from the natural house of Israel and some from the Gentiles. At the present time he is receiving some from the natural house and some from the Gentiles. During the next Age there will be but one fold and one Shepherd; and all the sheep will be brought into full harmony with God.
To carry out the thought of `Revelation 7`, and viewing the number of the Lord's people of the "little flock" as one hundred and forty-four thousand, this offer being originally made to the twelve tribes of natural Israel,
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others subsequently were permitted to take the places of those who were first called or first recognized as sheep, and who proved unworthy.
When Christ said, "All that ever came before me were thieves and robbers," we understand that these to whom our Lord thus referred were those who attempted fraudulently to palm themselves off on the Jewish people as their leaders. These are particularly referred to by Gamaliel in his address to the Sanhedrin, when he said to them, "Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves; who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to naught....And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught."--`Acts 5:35-38`.
SOME INTERESTING LETTERS
I take this opportunity to write you a brief letter re advertising for public meetings addressed by traveling brethren sent out by the Society.
During the past two years such meetings have been much better attended than formerly. Am sure that one of the principal causes of increased attendance is the more extensive and intelligent advertising carried on during that period by the brethren at many appointments. They have been doing remarkably well, and give evidence of increasing efficiency.
We are convinced that the advertising methods recommended by the Society are excellent--the very best, indeed-- viz., PEOPLES PULPITS, distributed from door to door, window cards and brief announcements in the newspapers.
We have noticed that whenever only newspaper advertisements have been used, the attendance has been less than when the other methods also have been employed. Indeed, my observation has led me to conclude that well-placed window-cards are more effective than newspaper ads., particularly in large towns and cities.
Of course, to engage a good room, and to advertise thoroughly involves the expenditure of some money and time. But what a glorious cause we are serving and what a blessed privilege it is to engage in such wonderful service.
You will be pleased, I am sure, to know that the friends, generally, are taking hold of this matter with considerable zeal and intelligence. But, while this is true, some may not fully realize how good the Society's advertising methods are, particularly the PULPITS and window-cards.
Yours in the interest of the blessed cause we all love so dearly, FRANK DRAPER.
DEARLY BELOVED BRETHREN:--
When we received notice of Pilgrim visit and the suggestion as to the method of advertising for a public meeting, we decided to do as nearly as we could according to those suggestions.
Personally, I was very hopeful and confident that the place of the gathering would be full. Some of the brethren were not so hopeful. However, heretofore usually we had only a small attendance, without any favorable results so far as we have perceived. We were inclined to feel disappointed, but each time hoped for better results when we would put forth efforts afresh.
Well, this time the hall was crowded and many were unable to get in. We also have found some who have become interested since this effort.
We, of course, do not look for numbers, but how glad we are that some come to see to some extent the length and breadth and height and depth of God's great plan of salvation.
We realize that the time is drawing nigh when we shall not be able to work any more, and we desire to do what we can while it is called today. Our hearts are filled with pity for those who oppose the Harvest message. Praise the Lord for his goodness.
Your brother in the Faith once delivered to the saints,
S. J. DE GROOT.
Please find enclosed $5 to be applied to "Good Hopes." This was collected in a peculiar manner. We have a little bank hung up in our home. A great many of the dear friends frequent our home and when any of us say anything we ought not to or complain about anything we are fined five cents, which goes in the bank. This amount is the proceeds so far. Needless to say we are all getting more control of our tongues. God bless you.
Your brother and sister in Christ, C. E. HEARD.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
I have been waiting for your return from England to express to you my appreciation of my visit at Bethel Home. My stay there was both pleasant and profitable. Because I understand the situation and conditions there better than before, my interest is increased, my sympathy is more substantial, my love is enlivened for you and your earnest co-laborers in the continual service there. I can now pray for the Bethel family with spirit and understanding. Surely you are all laying down your lives for the brethren--to supply sustenance for the spiritual sheep.
Considerable was crowded into the few weeks I was there --a wedding, a public meeting at Brooklyn Academy of Music, a Jewish meeting in New York Hippodrome, your sailing for England, etc., besides the regular routine of Chapel services, table-talks and work at Tabernacle. The last mentioned I particularly appreciated, and, so far as I know, the friends there survived my stay, so no harm was done. I thank you heartily for your hospitality and kindness, and desire to be remembered to the dear family there.
The morning worship was a delight to me. I think of it every day as I read the Manna and "the Vow" and sometimes sing the hymn. There is not always time for the hymn--at least in the morning.
A few days ago I was amazed to learn that some of the "natives" here have been accrediting me with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Bible Studies appearing in one of our local papers. I modestly disclaimed the honor, but my denial seemed to be held in doubt, at first, until I explained the matter quite fully.
My daughter Ruth is still in Iowa doing colporteur work. The work there has been considerably retarded by delays in getting books to deliver. Their expenses have thus been increased also. But she loves the work. Once, after a delivery, she wrote she had never been so tired in all her life--and never so happy, because the Lord had permitted her to do something not easy in his service. I am sure she has been homesick sometimes, but she has not complained and is very thankful for the opportunity she has had.
I wish there were more opportunities for service with fewer handicaps. The winters here are hard for me, and I have wondered if I could arrange to do colporteur work in January and February some place in the South. I wish I knew some of the Southern friends to whom I could write concerning it.
The past three months have been crowded full of blessings. I am grateful for them all.
Yours in our dear Redeemer, HATTIE O. HENDERSON.
MY DEAR SIR:--
I have received the Bible Studies, No. 1, and feel that as a Christian I am just beginning to live.
I have studied the Bible for thirty years and have been blind, as my teachers and Pastors have been blind. Ministers are not giving their people these things and they are starving, spiritually.
I thank so much some one who placed on my porch a copy of the PEOPLES PULPIT last summer.
I cannot think that I or mine are among the "Elect," but I am going to see that every one I can reach shall know about these precious truths.
My little daughter, who has been wrongly taught in Sunday School and at home, said, when I read aloud about the future of the heathen, "O! I am so glad they will have an opportunity."
And now I will write on separate sheet an order for more good things to pass along. God bless you again for the good, glad news you are spreading over the world.
Sincerely, MRS. L. K. THOMPSON.--Minn.