ZWT - 1898 - R2238 thru R2410 / R2247 (017) - January 15, 1898
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VOL. XIX. JANUARY 15, 1898. No. 2.
Views from the Watch Tower........................ 19
"Agnostics in Heaven"......................... 19
"Admits He Lived a Lie"....................... 20
"An Invisible Hand is Shaking"................ 20
Poem: What the Prince of Peace
Might Say................................... 21
Secret Faults and Presumptuous Sins............... 22
The Blessed Ones Portrayed........................ 24
"After this Manner Pray Ye"....................... 27
Interesting Letters............................... 31
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
"AGNOSTICS IN HEAVEN."
DR. Lyman Abbott, like other thinkers, finds it difficult to believe that the divine plan is as narrow as Calvin's creed would make it appear. But Dr. Abbott is more fearless than many preachers and hence keeps well to the forefront as an expounder of the advanced thought which is invading all denominations. He is reported in the public press as having recently expressed the belief that there would be agnostics in heaven. It would appear that he received a considerable number of letters criticising his position, and urging that, tho hope might be entertained for the heathen, none should be extended to unbelievers in Christian lands. In response he preached a discourse from the words, "He that believeth in me, believeth in him that sent me."
Discoursing on the text, he is reported to have declared, "There is more faith in Christ in many an agnostic who spends his life in the service of humanity, than there was in Torquemada. There are many people who are trying to believe in Christ but cannot, and so call themselves agnostics."
The Doctor is sure that many unbelievers are far too good to be everlastingly tormented, and who in justice should not be punished in any manner for not believing creeds and theories contradictory to each other, and to reason, and much of which their own adherents repudiate unqualifiedly. Mr. Abbott feels that these moral people should not be consigned to torment for not acting the hypocrite and professing to believe what they do not believe, as so many professors in the churches do.
Quite right thus far, Dr. Abbott. But are you not wresting the Scriptures, and perverting the Lord's word of your text, in trying to convince these unbelievers that they are saved by morals and good works, and that these constitute faith? Are not these unbelievers better men for confessing their lack of faith, than many in the churches who profess faith and have it not? Are you not in danger of making these honest unbelievers two-fold more the children of Gehenna, than they are at present, by getting them to profess a lie; as the Master said to some of the Doctors of the Law at his first advent?
But if God were to let Dr. Abbott have his way, and take to heaven all the unbelievers and all the heathen who cannot believe for similar reasons, we fancy that heaven would be so barbarous and uncouth, and its denizens so characterless, that Dr. A. and others who advocate the same unscriptural theory, that faith in the precious blood of Christ is unnecessary to salvation, would like to get away from such a heaven to some more civilized place.
How strange that, seeing the difficulties and unreasonableness of their unscriptural position, Dr. A. and the growingly large class who think along the same lines do not see and accept heartily the Scripture position,--(1) That faith in Christ is essential, and a development of character also, to any who would receive the gift of God, everlasting life; (2) That the present Gospel age is intended merely for the selection of a "little flock" along a "narrow way" which "few" find and still fewer care to walk in; (3) That another age of a thousand years is to follow this and be the Kingdom age, in which Christ and the "little flock," developed in the Gospel age, will be the world's instructors and judges--"kings and priests unto God" (`Rev. 1:6`; `5:10`; `20:6`) whose reign shall bless the
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world with full, clear knowledge and opportunity for the development of character and its reward of eternal life.
How strange that men, learned and thinking men too, will oppose this divine scheme of "restitution" which St. Peter tells us God has declared through all the holy prophets since the world began! (`Acts 3:19-22`.) Doctor Abbott and all thinking people see the necessity for just such an opportunity of salvation, for the ignorant heathen and others, whom the "god of this world has blinded" so that they cannot now see and accept the divine provision (`2 Cor. 4:4`); yet these thinkers prefer to wrest and twist the divine Word, and teach the salvation of unbelievers in heaven in preference to the better as well as Scriptural plan of restitution and education and trial for eternal life on the earth during the coming Millennium.
This is passing strange indeed. Surely, they are "blind guides," as the Scriptures declare, and are leading their followers into the ditch of doubt and skepticism. Surely, they are not wilfully choosing the error! Surely, they do not see the beautiful, reasonable, Scriptural plan of God! The matter reminds us of an incident that is related respecting the great river Amazon. A sailing vessel at sea had encountered adverse winds and had lost its way, and had exhausted its supply of fresh water and the crew was famishing for water. Sighting another vessel, they signaled, "Famishing for water. Can you supply us?" The other vessel signaled back, "Throw your buckets overboard and dip all the fresh water you want." They were in the mouth of the Amazon River while still out of sight of land. The water they craved was all about them, but they knew it not. So it is with our friends who want to find some way of salvation for the heathen and honest skeptics: if they would only taste and see, they would find in the Bible on their pulpits and in all their homes the very water of life for all the willing and obedient, which their reasons crave and their hearts seek: they would find a plan of salvation there which fully meets every reasonable requirement.
Thanks be unto God for his grace which has brought some of us "out of darkness into his marvelous light."
"ADMITS HE LIVED A LIE."
Under the above and similar captions the daily press of our land is calling attention to Mr. Henry Morehouse Taber, deceased, President of the Board of Trustees of the First Presbyterian Church, New York City, and long highly honored as a Christian millionaire, and prominent in Presbyterian circles. But tho Mr. Taber did not have the courage of his convictions while he lived, he at least wished to be honest in his death; and hence he left a Will, recently probated, which has caused quite a stir by its candor respecting his total unbelief. It denounces all religions as frauds and shams based on superstition. In it he desires that no funeral services be held over his corpse, and that the same be cremated, instead of buried.
Was not this man positively injured by reason of being cajoled into a dishonest profession of faith in the Westminster Confession, by membership in the Presbyterian Church? Who will deny that this man would have been in a much better condition to meet his Redeemer and Judge in the General Judgment of the Millennial Day, if he had not lived a lie respecting his faith? There are thousands, we doubt not, in the pulpits as well as in the pews of all denominations, who are similarly living a lie; and the majority are not honest enough to make even a post-mortem confession, as Mr. Taber did.
These dishonest people do not wish to be dishonest, but act a lie for fear the truth would do injury to the Church. How much better to be honest and let God take care of all consequences. "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her [Babylon's] sins and that ye receive not of her plagues," is the Lord's command to all who are his people, as soon as they get the light of present truth and thus get out of harmony with the falsities of Babylon's professions and confessions.
"AN INVISIBLE HAND IS SHAKING."
Rev. R. Heber Newton, one of the prominent New York preachers, on January 9, among other things said (as reported in the New York Herald):--
"All religions are moving in the same direction-- reaching forth toward something new. The end of this century has been looked to by prophetic students as the end of a dispensation--the opening of a new order. Our fathers believed that Jesus Christ was to come again somewhere about this time.
"An invisible hand is shaking the intellectual kaleidoscope, and the figures familiar to generations are changing before our eyes. The traditional systems
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of divinity seem to hosts of men to-day of as much help as the charts of New York harbor drawn up by the primitive Knickerbockers would be to our steamers. Men are slowly and painfully realizing that there is no answer in the Thirty nine articles and Westminster Confession for us in the year 1898. Their whole thought is as antique and obsolete as the language of Chaucer and Spenser. Men ask now for a gospel in the vernacular of the nineteenth century: not necessarily a new gospel, but at least a translation of the old gospel of the mediaevals and ancients into a 'tongue understanded of the people.'
"Sublimely unconscious of the day that is breaking outside the church walls, our priests go on droning the old refrain about an impossible Bible and an unnatural
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Christ, and anathematizing those who don't care to come in and listen to their music of the past. Pulpits are timorous and silent on questions of the age. Conventions reauthorize, at every triennial session, as text books for theological seminaries, treatises which are as accurate maps of our present knowledge as the celestial charts of the Ptolemaic astronomers....
"What is needed is not denunciation, but the quickening of a new idea and the kindling of a new ideal which shall once more guide and inspire man to a life higher than that of pleasure.
"The close of this century has witnessed the growth of monster nationalities. Are they under the inspiration of the Christian law? It does not look much like it, as we see the great Christian powers standing around China, waiting to dismember it. Have our Christian States become pirates, flaunting above their ensigns the black flag? The bishop of Breslau may invoke a benediction upon the fleet which goes forth for the protection of the cross, but the average man smiles cynically at such conception of Christianity.
"Every new advance of humanity is won against obstructiveness of the churches. Every social and political injustice that, one after another, is swept violently away--slavery, land monopoly, the tyranny of capital, war--is defended, up to the last, by the sign of Him who came to break every yoke and to let the oppressed go free; over whose cradle the angels sang, 'Peace on earth, good will among men.'
"Humanity is growing conscious of its magnificent possibilities of glorious life, which are still postponed from generation to generation because the churches, which should be consecrated to this task of social regeneration, have not the mind nor the heart to grapple with it. They are busied, as their prototypes of old, with their pretty, petty play of charities, while neglecting the weightier matters of the law, the stern and solemn sentences of justice.
"A GREAT REVOLUTION POSSIBLE."
"The era of competition is ended. The era of combination has opened. All business is concentrating. In this massing of capital there is coming to be an absolute domination over the wage worker, over the interest of the people at large, over the life of the State itself. Yet this movement is natural and necessary. It is in the line of economic progress. The real question concerning it is, Can this new order grow a soul within it, a spirit capable of mastering these monster powers and using them, not for self-aggrandizement, but for human service? If it cannot, there is a revolution ahead worse than any the world has hitherto known. If it can, there opens an era of boundless, beneficent progress. This is a question of religion. It is the old need of an ever fresh faith and hope and love.
"Plainly a real religion of some sort is needed, more needed than ever," said the speaker in conclusion. "It is the one thing which alone is really needed. All else will flow from it. Without it all else will disappear--political institutions, wealth, civilization, everything. Our duty as we find ourselves in this epoch of transition is to keep our minds open for the new light that God is preparing to send forth into the world, and our hearts eager for the new life into which he is preparing to lead us."
* * *
How many more see the same thing? and fear the same thing? What is lacking that these people do not receive the "present truth," the "meat in due season" for the household of faith? The trouble is that they have too much faith in each other, and not sufficient faith in the Lord and his Word. The blind people are looking to and following the blind leaders; and the latter are looking in the wrong direction to see "the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his beams." If the Lord's message of "present truth" and Scripture harmonization presented in the four volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN were promulgated from some source more "highly esteemed among men," who can doubt that it would--
"Satisfy men's longings, as nothing else can do?"
So also, if our Lord Jesus had been a Pharisee and from a notable family and city, his message would have been received, and he would not have been crucified. God still hides his truth from the great and wise and prudent, and reveals it unto babes--the humble minded, the teachable. Nevertheless, the congregation of "All Soul's Church" which heard the above sermon should be an excellent field of labor for some earnest friends of the truth to labor in,--seeking to present the "harvest" message contained in MILLENNIAL DAWN volumes. And while a discourse like the above may not convert any one to Christ, it undoubtedly may shake loose some of the true "wheat" from Babylon's bundles and thus prepare this class for the food for which they are starving spiritually.
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WHAT THE PRINCE OF PEACE MIGHT SAY,
IF HE WOULD SPEAK TO-DAY.
"I have come, and the world shall be shaken
Like a reed at the touch of my rod,
And the kingdoms of men shall awaken
To the voice and summons of God.
No more through the din of the ages,
Shall warnings and chidings divine
From the lips of my prophets and sages
Be trampled like pearls before swine.
"Have ye 'seized' all my lands and my cattle?
Would ye keep back from labor her meed?
Would ye challenge the outcasts to battle,
When they plead at your feet in their need?
And when clamor of hunger grows louder,
And the multitude prays to be fed,
Will ye answer with prison and powder
The cries of your brothers for bread?
"I'd turn from your altars and arches
And the mockings of steeples and domes,
To join in the long, weary marches
Of the poor ones bereft of their homes;
I'd share in the sorrows and crosses
Of the poor, the hungry and cold,
For dearer to me are their losses
Than your mines and your altars of gold.
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"I will wither the might of the Spoiler,
I will end the reign of his hate;
The servants of Sin shall no longer
Be prospered in Church and in State.
Aye, the prayers of the poor are ascending
To be written with lightnings on high!
And the wails of all captives be blending
With bolts that shall leap from the sky.
"Then the thrones of your kings shall be shattered,
And the captives and surfs shall go free;
Then I'll harvest from seed that I scattered
On the borders of blue Galilee.
Yea, I come not now as a stranger--
Lo, my reapers shall sing through the night,
Till the star that stood over the manger
Shall cover the world with its light." --Selected.
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SECRET FAULTS AND PRESUMPTUOUS SINS.
"Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.--`Psa. 19:12-14`.
THIS prophetic prayer represents well the heart attitude of the fully consecrated and earnest Christian. While realizing a forgiveness of the "sins that are past through the forbearance of God," through the grace of God which was in Christ Jesus, which imputed our sins to him and his righteousness to us who believe in him, nevertheless the well-instructed soul realizes its faults, its short-comings. These secret faults may be of two kinds: (1) They may be faults which were secret to ourselves at the time committed--slips, unintentional errors. Of course the earnest heart, desiring full fellowship with the Lord, will regret even his unintentional short-comings and will strive and pray for divine grace to get the victory over these: but besides these there are other secret faults, which are secret in the sense of being unknown to any one but ourselves and the Lord: imperfections or faults of the mind before they take the outward form of actual and presumptuous sins.
All Christians of experience in the good way and in the battle against sin and self have learned that there can be no outward or presumptuous sins that have not first had their beginning in secret faults of the mind. The sinful thought may be one of pride suggesting self-exaltation; it may be one of avarice suggesting unlawful acquisition of wealth; or it may be some other fleshly desire: the mere suggestion of the thought before our minds is not sin; it is merely the operation of our faculties, and of the influences which surround us, inquiring of our wills whether or not we will consent to such thoughts. Many consent to thoughts of evil who at the time would utterly repudiate any suggestion to commit evil deeds; but if the thought be entertained it is a secret fault, and the growing tendency would surely be toward the more outward and presumptuous sinful conduct, the tendency of which is always from bad to worse. For instance, to illustrate, suppose the suggestion should come to our minds of a method by which we could advance our own interests of fame or honor or reputation by the undermining of the influence and reputation of another, how quickly the evil, selfish thought, if entertained, would lead to envy and possibly hatred and strife. Almost surely it would lead to back-biting and slander and other works of the flesh and the devil. The beginnings are always small, and correspondingly much easier to deal with than in their developed form. Hence, the prophetic prayer, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults" and thus restrain or keep me back from presumptuous sins.
In the Epistle of `James (1:14,15`) we read, "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own desire and enticed. Then when desire hath conceived it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Here we have the same thought differently expressed. The temptation consists at first in the presentation to the mind of suggestions which are impure or unkind or unfaithful to obligations; but there is no sin, no fault, as yet. The fault begins, when we harbor the evil suggestions, begin to turn them over in our minds and to consider the attractions which they may have to offer. This is where desire (taking hold of the evil thing instead of resisting it) causes a beginning of the secret fault; and it is only a process
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of development which in many instances under favorable circumstances may be very rapid, that sin, the presumptuous or outward acts of sin, results;--for instance, bearing false witness against a neighbor, or slander, or other evil deeds. And the evil course having begun in the fostering of the evil suggestion, and having progressed to presumptuous sin, there is a great danger that their entire course of life will be ultimately affected thereby and bring the transgressor into that condition where he will commit the great transgression --wilful, deliberate, intentional sin--the wages of which is death, second death.
It would appear then that every intelligent Christian would continually pray this inspired prayer, for cleansing from secret faults that he might thus be restrained from presumptuous sins; and thus praying heartily, he would also watch against these beginnings of sin and keep his heart in a cleansed and pure condition, by going continually to the fountain of grace for
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help in every time of need. He who seeks to live a life of holiness and nearness to the Lord by merely guarding and striving against outward or presumptuous sins, and who neglects the beginning of sin in the secrets of his own mind, is attempting a right thing in a very foolish and unreasonable way. As well might we seek to avert the smallpox by outward cleanliness, while permitting the germs of the disease to enter our systems. The bacteria or germs of presumptuous sins enter through the mind, and their antiseptics and bactericides of the truth and its spirit must meet them there and promptly kill the bacteria of sin before it germinates and leads us to such a condition of evil as will manifest itself in our outward conduct.
For instance, whenever the bacteria of pride and self-importance present themselves, let the antidote be promptly administered from the Lord's great medical laboratory for the healing of the soul: the proper dose to offset this species of bacteria is found in the words, "He that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted;" and "Pride goeth before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."
If the thought presented to our minds be the bacteria of envy, then let us promptly apply the antidote which declares that envy is one of the works of the flesh and of the devil, and contrary to the spirit of Christ, which by our covenant we have adopted as ours. And let us remember that envy is closely related to and apt to be followed by malice, hatred and strife, which under some circumstances mean murder, according to the New Covenant and our Lord's interpretation.--`1 John 3:15`; `Matt. 5:21,22`.
If the bacteria which presents itself to our minds is avarice, with the suggestion of unjust methods for its gratification, let us promptly apply to it the medicine furnished in the Lord's Word, namely, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" "For the love of money is a root of all evil, which some, coveting after, have erred from the truth and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
The more attention we give to this subject, the more we will be convinced, from our own personal experiences, of the truth of the Scriptural declarations respecting the beginnings of sin as secret faults in the mind; and the more we will appreciate the statement of the Word, "Keep thy heart [mind, affections] with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."-- `Prov. 4:23`.
But we are not to wonder that God has so constituted us as to permit temptations to come to our minds, nor are we to pray that we may have no temptations; for if there were no such presentations, no such temptations, then there could be no victories on our part, no overcoming of sin and of the wicked One. But we know that for this very reason we are now in the school of Christ; not that we shall there be shielded from all temptation, but that we may learn of the great Teacher how to meet the Tempter, and by our Master's grace and help to come off conquerors, victors in the strife against sin. The degree of our success in this conflict will depend largely upon the keenness of our faith and trust in the great Teacher. If we feel confident in his wisdom, we will follow closely his instructions and keep our hearts [minds] with all diligence. Faith in the Lord's wisdom and in his help in every time of need is necessary to us in order that we may be thoroughly obedient to him; and hence it is written, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith;" i.e., it will be by the exercise of faith and the obedience which flows therefrom that we will be enabled to "come off conquerors and more than conquerors through him that loved us and gave himself for us."
Nor are we to seek divine aid far in advance, as, for instance, to be kept throughout the year to come, or month to come, or week to come: rather we are to know that if we have made a covenant with the Lord and are his, that he is near us at all times in every trial, in every temptation; and that his assistance is ready to our use, if we will but accept it and act accordingly. Hence, our prayers should be for help in the time of need, as well as general prayers for the Lord's blessing and care for each day. In the moment of temptation the heart should lift itself to the great Master, in full assurance of faith, recognizing his love, his wisdom and his ability to help us, and his willingness to make all things work together for good to those who love him. Asking for assistance in such a time of need would surely draw to us the Lord's counsel and help and strength for righteousness, truth, purity and love; and thus we should be hourly victorious, daily victorious, and finally victorious.
The difficulty with many is that they are looking for some great battles, instead of averting the great battles by availing themselves of the Lord's provision, and keeping their minds cleansed from secret faults. The little battles, and much more numerous, are the ones in which we gain the victories with their ultimate rewards. "Greater is he that ruleth his own spirit [mind, will] than he that taketh a city."
Finally, the grand results of obedience to this counsel of the Lord, the grand attainment of those who have faithfully kept their hearts with diligence, is expressed in our text, and may well be the repeated earnest prayer of all the sanctified in Christ Jesus,--"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."
A year from now we hope to hear from very many of great blessings received through this counsel of the Lord's Word, as suggested in our last issue.
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THE BLESSED ONES PORTRAYED.
--JAN. 23.--`MATT. 5:1-12`.--
"Ye are the Light of the World."--`Matt. 5:14`.
THE beatitudes--or the blesseds--designate the particular graces necessary to our Lord's followers, if they would receive the blessings which the Father designed they should enjoy through Christ. These constitute the text as it were of our Master's great "Sermon on the Mount." It is supposed to have been delivered from a site known as the Mount of Beatitudes, sloping gradually, about sixty feet in height and situated about seven miles South-west from Capernaum where, as we saw in our last lesson, Jesus had taken up his residence. Strange to say, it was on this very site on July 5th, 1187, that the last remnant of the Crusaders was destroyed, after their army had been defeated by Saladin in the valley below. Those Crusaders claimed to wage their warfare in the interest of the Lord's cause, but had they remembered and properly applied to themselves even remotely the lesson which we are about to consider, spoken by our Lord on this very Mount, they would not have been defeated and exterminated, for they would not have been Crusaders at all. Alas, how many cry, Lord, Lord, and attempt in the Lord's name to do many wonderful works who, neglecting his Word, are not his people and fail to get the blessings now offered.
At this time our Lord's ministry was fully inaugurated: he had collected his first disciples, had performed some miracles, and the multitudes began to follow him, saying truly, "Never man spake like this man." With his disciples nearest to him and the multitudes surrounding, he began his celebrated discourse the text of which we have under consideration.
(1) "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." This first beatitude or blessed state really in some respects comprehends all the others. Through it the other graces and blessings are accessible. It is the gateway and the main roadway from which all the other avenues of blessing branch off. Some one has said, it is the hallway of the house of blessing, from which all the various rooms or apartments are accessible.
The word blessed signifies much more than happy; happiness proceeds usually from outward causes, while one might be blessed while in misery, in pain, not joyous but grievous. The root of the word blessed here carries with it the thought of great or honorable: our Lord is describing the characters which from his standpoint and that of the Father are truly great, honorable
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characters, which God is pleased to bless and ultimately to reward.
The Greek word here translated poor has the significance of utter destitution, extreme poverty. Hence, the thought is that a full appreciation of our own spiritual destitution is essential before we will be ready to receive the measures of divine grace provided for us by the Father in Christ Jesus, our Lord. And not only must this destitution be realized at the beginning of our approach to God, but it is necessary that the same dependence upon divine grace and realization of our own insufficiency shall continue with us all our journey through, if we would finally be acceptable and be granted a share in the Kingdom which God has promised to them that love him. There is nothing in this text to signify earthly poverty and destitution: nevertheless we know from experience, as well as from the Lord's Word, that not many rich or great, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith, shall be heirs of the Kingdom. Very evidently moderate poverty is the most favorable condition for us in our present weak and fallen condition: earthly prosperity and riches very frequently tend to choke the new nature and hinder it from bringing forth the peaceable fruits of righteousness --tending rather to a spirit of self-sufficiency, pride, etc. As our Lord Jesus expressed it, "The cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and it becometh unfruitful." Let us all then in seeking the character which will be approved of God and accepted to the Kingdom of God's dear Son, seek more and more continually this humility of mind which so far from being boastful and self-sufficient, humbly accepts with gratitude every good and every perfect gift as coming from the Father of Lights.
(2) "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." We apply this in connection with the first blessing; for it is not every one who mourns who will be comforted, but merely the poor in spirit: their mourning will be from the right standpoint and will bring a blessing of heavenly comfort--a realization of sins forgiven, iniquities covered and divine reconciliation and favor. We sometimes sing,
"Why should the children of a King
Go mourning all their days?"
There is a proper thought in the poet's expression: for we need not continue to grieve over our "sins that are past through the forbearance of God," which are "covered" by the merit of the precious blood: nor should our lives be destitute of the "joys of the Lord" and the "songs in the night" which he gives, according as it is written, "He hath put a new song into my mouth, even the loving kindness of our God." But hilarity and boisterous "gayety" are certainly inappropriate to the children of the Great King. Why? Because all such should realize that life is a stern reality,
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not only to the Christian but to the whole world, "the groaning creation." A sympathy with the sorrows, difficulties and privations of the masses, at home and in heathen lands, no less than a realization of the grandeur of the high calling of the Church in this Gospel age and of the exceeding great and precious things which hinge upon our faithfulness to him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light,-- these all should be saying to us continually, in the language of the Apostle, Be vigilant! Be sober! Watch! Quit you like men!
Besides, all who are earnestly striving for the victory over self, and the world, and sin, are sure to make a sufficient number of failures along the way to insure them considerable experience in mourning for these deflections,--if their hearts are in the right attitude toward the Lord. Gracious indeed is the promise to such, "They shall be comforted." Our Lord does comfort such with the assurance that he notes their tears as well as their efforts in opposition to sin, and that he is thus preparing them through present experiences and the development of character for the Kingdom.
(3) "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." Nothing can be more evident than the fact that this promise also waits for the establishment of the Kingdom, for its full fruition. Certainly the meek are not in this age favored with the ownership or control of any considerable proportion of the earth's surface. Rather it is the arrogant, the proud, the domineering, the selfish and pushing who chiefly inherit the earth at the present time--under the rule of "The Prince of the power of the air, who now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience." Very evidently this blessing also belongs to those who inherit the first blessing--those poor in spirit who shall be heirs of the Kingdom. The Kingdom class--Christ Jesus and his Church, his body, will inherit the earth --purchased, as well as man, by the great sacrifice finished at Calvary. And when this Kingdom class shall inherit the earth, it will not be to oppress mankind, but on the contrary for their elevation, restitution and blessing. This is in harmony with the Heavenly Father's promise,--"I will give thee the heathen for thy inheritance; and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession."
But the time for this inheritance has not yet come. It will be introduced as soon as the last member of the elect Church has been fitted and prepared for the inheritance by the development of the graces of character here portrayed by our Lord. Yes, blessed are the meek--all who shall be accounted worthy of a share in the Kingdom and in its inheritance must be meek, teachable, humble, for "Jehovah resisteth the proud but showeth his favor to the humble."--`James 4:6`.
(4) "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." To whom is this blessed promise applicable? Surely to none other than "the elect," the Church, referred to preceding as "the poor in spirit," "the meek." These, and these alone at the present time, are hungering and thirsting for truth and righteousness, in respect to the divine revelation on every subject and affair of life. Others may have a little hunger for truth, but they are soon satisfied;--especially when they find the truth unpopular and that, however sweet to the taste, it afterward brings bitter gripings of persecution and ostracism under present unfavorable world-conditions. To a considerable number honesty and righteousness are the best policy, to a limited degree,--so far as public opinion sustains them; but a righteousness and honesty and love of the truth at the cost of persecution, at the cost of having men "separate you from their company," is only hungered and thirsted after by the "little flock" --the overcomers. "They shall be filled." They will be filled to the full by and by, very shortly, in the "change" of the "first resurrection," when this mortal condition shall be exchanged for immortality; when this animal body shall give place to a perfect spirit-body. Then partial knowledge and partial attainment of righteousness shall be superseded by a full, complete knowledge, then "we shall know, even as we are known." But even now this class enjoys much larger measures of knowledge of the truth and experiences in the blessings of righteousness than are possible to any other class.
(5) "Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy." Human mercy, sympathy, pity, compassion, are but reflections of the divine character: these qualities may be found in the natural man, but not infrequently when so found they are traceable to some extent to pride, selfishness, ostentation, show. The mercy, pity and sympathy which would exercise themselves irrespective of human knowledge and approval, and irrespective of divine reward, are not frequently met with except in the "poor in spirit, heirs of the Kingdom." And all who are of this class must be merciful, pitiful, loving: their own relationship with the Lord and all their hopes respecting the Kingdom to come depend upon their being merciful; for only the merciful shall obtain mercy, and those who pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth," are instructed to pray at the same time for the forgiveness of their trespasses (only) as they also forgive the trespasses of others, their fellow-creatures.
(6) "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." We are to distinguish sharply between purity of heart, will, intention and absolute purity of
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every word and act of life; for the one is possible while the other is impossible, so long as we have our present mortal bodies and are surrounded by present unfavorable conditions. The standard set before us in this very sermon however is a standard not only for the heart but for all the conduct of life, "Be ye perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect." By this standard we are to measure ourselves, and that continually, and not with one another; and to this standard we are to seek to bring the conduct of our lives and the meditation of our hearts. But only our wills (hearts) have yet been transformed and renewed and purified: our present imperfect earthen vessels in which we have this treasure will not be "changed" or renewed until the resurrection. Then, and not until then, will we be perfect in the divine likeness, but now nothing short of purity of heart, will, intention, can be acceptable to God and bring the blessing here promised.
In whom do we find the new hearts, renewed hearts, cleansed hearts, pure hearts? Surely, in none except those who are called, chosen and faithful,--the poor in spirit class, the meek, the "little flock," heirs of the Kingdom.
(7) "Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God." None will be accounted worthy to be called children of God who shall not have developed peace-loving dispositions. The anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife and generally quarrelsome disposition, which to some extent is inherited through the fall by every member of the race, must be recognized as belonging to "the works of the flesh and of
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the devil, and must be resisted in heart fully, and in outward conduct as fully as possible. Peaceableness must supplant quarrelsomeness in all those who would hope to share the Kingdom and be recognized as children of God. "So far as lieth in you live peaceably with all men." This of course does not mean peace at any price, otherwise our Lord, the apostles and the faithful body of Christ throughout this age might not have suffered, or at least might have endured very much less suffering for righteousness' sake. Hence, the significance of our Lord's statement, "In the world ye shall have tribulation; in me ye shall have peace."
But surely, as we should be at peace with the Lord, so we should desire and strive and expect to be at peace with all who love the Lord, who have his spirit, and who are seeking to walk in the same way toward the Heavenly Kingdom. "Live in peace [among yourselves]" (`2 Cor. 13:11`), is the injunction of the Apostle to the Church. There is a great lesson in these words for all who are seeking to be heirs of the Kingdom and to inherit these blessings which our Lord enumerates. With perverse natural dispositions it may require considerable time and practice to learn to know and choose and love the path which leads to peace among God's people. This path is love;--love which thinketh no evil, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, but beareth all things, endureth all things, hopeth all things. And to be a peace-maker one must first be a peace-lover himself: to attempt to make peace without first having the spirit of love ourselves is to blunder, and will surely result in failure. Those who, wherever they go, make for peace, righteousness, love and mercy, in meekness, thereby prove themselves to be children of God.
(8) "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." This blessing also applies only to "the faithful in Christ Jesus." The elements of character which constitute righteousness, and imply harmony with God and heirship to the Kingdom which he has promised, have already been stated in the seven propositions preceding; and now our Lord calls attention to the fact that with all these graces and elements of righteousness, far above the standard of the world, this class would nevertheless be persecuted and suffer; because of these very elements of character which he approves. This is because the world in general throughout this age will be so blinded to the truth, and so in harmony with sin, that righteousness will be hated in proportion as sin is loved. But in order to be heirs of the Kingdom we must not only love righteousness, meekness, purity of heart, humility of spirit, etc., but must be ready and willing to endure persecution in support of these heavenly principles.
The great Apostle, Paul, declared, "All that will [in this present time] live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (`2 Tim. 3:12`.) Hence, the implication is that we must have all of the foregoing seven characteristics so deeply imbedded in our characters that we will endure the persecutions which they will bring, unflinchingly. Such the Lord elsewhere terms overcomers, saying, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne." So then, to have a share in the Kingdom implies a share in the persecutions which the Kingdom class will endure faithfully. The same thought is amplified in the two succeeding verses, which inform us that we should not only be ready to endure persecution, but, rightly informed, will realize that the more we endure along proper lines the more cause we will have for rejoicing in heart, however sorrowful our outward conditions and circumstances may at times be.
Nor does the Lord leave us to suppose that the only persecutions to be endured are those of physical culture; he specifies that some of these persecutions, the endurance of which will be acceptable with him as
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proofs of our love for him, his kingdom and its rules of righteousness, are "revilings," "false-witnesses" and "all manner of evil" misstatements, because we are his, loyal to his Word and cause. Let us remember also that as the persecutions, misstatements, slanders, revilings, misrepresentations, against the early Church came not so much from the world as from those who professed to be God's people, Israel according to the flesh, so now we must expect that persecutions will come from professing Christians, who are not in heart-harmony with the Lord, and his Word, and the rules of righteousness which our Master laid down.
These same rules of course apply in a modified degree to the whole world, in proportion as they have these traits of character: even in uncircumcised hearts, and even tho they be only outwardly practiced and for effect, nevertheless to that degree do blessings attend. And we may reasonably suppose that when the Kingdom class, the Church, shall be exalted with their Lord and head, to share his Millennial Kingdom, and to bless the world of mankind with a righteous government, and to bring all to a knowledge of the Lord and of the truth,--then practically these same rules will apply to all who then will be on probation for divine approval and eternal life. Now however, during this Gospel age, these lessons are fully applicable to the elect Church, the "little flock," to whom only it is the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom.
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"AFTER THIS MANNER PRAY YE."
--JAN. 30.--`MATT. 6:5-15`.--
"Pray to thy Father which is in secret."
"PRAYER is the soul's sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed," says the poet: and he says truly, for the Scriptures inform us that God is a "discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart;" and again, that in the case of the saints the spirit or intention is accepted by the Lord when we approach him in seasons of distress, when we can find no language in which to clothe our feelings and desires, --when we come to him with spirit-groanings which we cannot utter in words. (`Rom. 8:26`.) Nevertheless both by words and example our Lord instructed us that our prayers should be uttered, formulated, and, if possible, not be left merely to incoherent feelings and groanings. It was to this end that he gave the instructions of the present lesson, in answer to the request of the apostles, "Lord, teach us to pray."--`Luke 11:1`.
While certain rules should govern all prayers, all approaches to God for communion, namely, that we should approach with humility and simplicity and reverence and in the name of Jesus, yet circumstances may govern in certain particulars:--
(1) The prayer of the sinner, the alien and stranger from God, should differ from that of the child of God who has received pardon and reconciliation along the divinely appointed lines. For instance, the prayer of the publican, approved by our Lord, did not address Jehovah as "Father" but as God--"God be merciful to me a sinner." On the contrary, those who come into relationship with God under the terms of his covenant in Christ have the privilege not only of recognizing God as the Creator and Ruler, but also as their "Heavenly Father," and of addressing him as such.
(2) Amongst those who approach God in prayer as his children, different circumstances and conditions may have a bearing as respects the manner of worship: at times they may properly go aside and hold communion with the Father in secret,--where no earthly eye will see and no earthly ear will hear. Our Lord's own example should be an illustration of this privilege: we remember how it is written of him frequently that he went apart from his disciples and prayed alone, and how sometimes he spent the entire night in solitary prayer.
(3) Prayer at other times may properly and profitably be offered in the presence of fellow-believers and audibly, as the prayer of all and in which all are interested and join. An illustration of this may also be drawn from our Lord's example: for instance, his prayers recorded in `John 11:41,42`; `17`; `Matt. 11:25,26`; `Luke 10:21`; `11:1`. These prayers could not have been recorded if they had not been heard by the apostles: and the very object of their utterances in their presence was evidently for their benefit and blessing, as well as for the benefit and blessing of all the household of faith since then. The prayers of Moses and Solomon, David and Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel are also recorded, and hence were made publicly, at least before the Lord's people. The record respecting the early Church seems to imply that they met together as one family and that their prayers as well as their hymns and song-prayers were general, in common, for the benefit of the whole company present. This is implied in the account given in `Acts 1:14` where it is declared, "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." Again, the words of one of their prayers are quoted in `Acts 1:24`; evidently this prayer was uttered audibly and in common. Again in `1 Cor. 14:16`
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the Apostle shows the thanksgiving of the congregation was and should be presented before the Lord not only audibly but in a language heard and understood by the worshipers, so that all might be able to say "Amen" to the thanksgiving and petition.
(4) At times it may not be improper to give thanks to God in the presence of a mixed company--believers and unbelievers. Illustration of this course is found
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in our Lord's own conduct. His prayer at his baptism in Jordan was witnessed evidently by the multitudes. (`Luke 3:21`.) Again our Lord prayed in public, in the hearing of the mixed gathering, at the grave of Lazarus. Again at the close of our Lord's ministry, when he prayed, "Father, save me from this hour," "Father, glorify thy name," the multitudes surrounding evidently heard or in some manner knew of the prayer, as is shown by the statement of `John 12:29`. Again our Lord's last prayer, on the cross, was audibly heard even by his enemies.--`Matt. 27:46,50`.
We have gone into details of proof respecting this subject because some of God's dear people have fallen into the error of supposing from this very lesson which we are about to consider, that it is wrong, sinful, to pray with or in the presence of others, either the Church or the world; they evidently put more stress upon our Lord's words, "Enter into thy closet, etc.," than our Lord intended, as we have shown from his own course of conduct, which certainly is the best illustration of the spirit of his teachings,--for "In him was no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." We remark incidentally, however, that we have no sympathy whatever with a practice which seems to be very common with the majority of Christians, namely, that of preaching at transgressors and scoring them, in prayers ostensibly offered to God. That this general disposition is recognized by others, is well illustrated by the following statement which appeared in a Boston secular journal, in a favorable comment upon the discourse of a very popular minister in that city. It said: "His prayer was generally acknowledged to be one of the finest ever offered to a Boston audience." There are indeed strong reasons for believing that many of the prayers offered are offered more to the congregations who hear than to the Almighty. This is a gross perversion of the wonderful privilege of prayer granted to God's children, and is of a piece with the hypocrisies of our Lord's day against which he warned his disciples, saying that those who thus pray are hypocrites and have their reward in being heard of men; for that is the reward they seek.
To this day the traveler in the far East will see and hear prayers in every direction. Some of them may be results of misdirected energy and conscience, but many of them no doubt, as intimated by our Lord, are the results of spiritual pride and desire to be thought pious. A traveler in the East writes: "I was awakened in the early morning by a sound of prayer that was evidently intended to be heard of men whether God should hear it or not; it was a prolonged and energetic intoning, with an occasional rise in the voice that would be sure to start the soundest sleeper--it was the dragoman [guide], who after the morning greeting, added, 'Did you hear me pray this morning, my master?' Indeed I did, was my reply. And then he told me of his zeal and earnestness in prayer." The customs of Christendom differ; and yet in every direction we may find evidence of the same spirit,--ambition to be thought pious, effort to make an impression upon men and women, rather than to hold communion with the Heavenly Father. Such hypocrisies cannot be too strongly guarded against in all those who seek and enjoy communion with the Father and with our Lord Jesus Christ.
TO WHOM SHALL WE PRAY?
Our Lord's instruction is, "Pray to thy Father," "Pray, our Father which art in heaven." But this instruction is to be coupled with the further instruction, "Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name he will give it you." (`John 15:16`; `16:23`.) "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." (`John 14:6`.) This excludes Jews, excludes Mohammedans, excludes the heathen, excludes all who have not a knowledge of Christ and a faith in him as the Redeemer. Only believers who have accepted Christ may approach God in prayer and call him "Father;" others may formulate petitions, but need expect no answers. It is only after we have accepted Christ and had our sins forgiven through faith in his blood that we may have the "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way which he has consecrated for us." (`Heb. 10:19,20`.) These privileges which we enjoy under the New Covenant sealed and ratified by the blood of Jesus, had their correspondence and type in fleshly Israel and the Law Covenant sealed with the blood of bulls and goats; hence it was that the Jews as a people under their covenant were permitted to have access to God in prayer--tho not so directly and closely and intimately as we of the New Covenant.
"Use not vain repetitions as the heathen do." The natural tendency of the human mind in approaching the Creator seems to be to feel its own poverty of expression, and to attempt to make up for this by repetitions. Thus the Chinese have the "praying wheels" in which long prayers that the worshiper cannot remember to repeat are turned round and round by him as representing his will, his wish, his prayers.
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The same principle is used amongst Roman Catholics, who repeat the same prayers scores and hundreds of times, and are promised by their priests certain special rewards for "saying" these prayers, a certain number of times,--the omission of so many days or years of future purgatorial sufferings. The same influences seem to operate upon Protestants tho less grossly, and often leads to long prayers and improper details of instruction to the Almighty. The Lord wished his followers to pray intelligently and realize that they were approaching an intelligent and reasonable God who knows already, far better than we, what things we have need of; and who is more willing to give them to us than earthly parents are to give good gifts to their children. Hence to repeat our petitions over and over is not only vain, in the sense that it will profit us nothing, but it indicates a low degree of spiritual development, very imperfect ideas respecting God, and a very imperfect relationship with him. The Christian neither needs to repeat certain prayers indefinitely, nor does he need to take up in prayer all the affairs of the world and the affairs of the Church, to tell God all about them and how they ought to be regulated. We have heard public prayers which implied that the worshiper had as much or more wisdom than the Almighty; because in them he undertook to tell the Almighty how, when, where and what should be done the world over, at home and abroad;--how many should be converted at the meeting in which he was praying, and how the heathen everywhere, the world over, should be dealt with.
All this is monstrously wrong. No man is in a fit condition of heart to approach God in prayer who has not first learned of his own ignorance and lack of wisdom, and learned also of the Lord's infinitely superior knowledge and wisdom and power and love. The Christian who is advanced in knowledge and experience in the heavenly way will on the contrary be so filled with a realization of his own ignorance and insufficiency that he will rather go to the Lord praying, Lord teach us thy will, show me what is thy way and plan of salvation for Christendom and for the heathen, and show me how I may best be a co-worker with thee in the accomplishment of thy great and wonderful, wise and good purposes. Indeed, as the Christian's experience grows he is apt to come more and more to the condition of heart where his prayers to God will be chiefly thanks for mercies and favors already received, expressions of confidence in the Lord's willingness and ability to fulfil all the gracious promises of his Word, temporal and spiritual, and request merely that the divine will be done.
"Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him." The Christian's prayer therefore is not for the purpose of giving information to God, nor for the purpose of calling attention to matters which he might overlook or forget; but on the contrary he is enjoined to pray and required to pray, because it will benefit himself: God withholds many of his blessings until we approach to ask them in prayer, in order that we may realize our need of his aid, and our dependence on him. Our prayers therefore are not to induce God to give us things which he desires to withhold from us, but are merely to secure the things which he desires us to have and has promised to us, and is more willing to give than to withhold. And how wise is this divine arrangement: how many of God's people have realized great benefit from this divine arrangement that we must ask if we would receive, must seek if we would find, must "knock if it be opened unto us." And thus, in addition to the favors asked and received, the very necessity of prayer itself has brought us into close fellowship with the Lord--into the enjoyment of one of our greatest privileges and blessings.
"AFTER THIS MANNER PRAY YE."
"Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name." This address of God as our Father, as we have just seen, does not imply the fatherhood of God to all mankind; for on the contrary we remember that our great Teacher declared to some, "Ye are of your father, the devil." And the Apostle declares that we were "children of wrath" even as others still are. We have "escaped the condemnation that is on the world," and have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God's dear Son--out from amongst those who are children of wrath into the family of God; so that now, as sons of God, all who believe in Jesus may pray, "Our Father, which art in Heaven." This portion of the petition is an address of reverence, an acknowledgment of God's greatness, and implies our humility and littleness. It implies that the worshiper
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reverences God and is not undertaking to address him in a light or irreverent manner: even his very name is revered as holy by the true worshiper.
"Thy Kingdom come: thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." This petition is not in the nature of a demand, nor even an expression of impatience. Rather it is an acknowledgment on the part of the worshiper that he has faith in the divine promise that a Heavenly Kingdom shall in God's due time be established in the earth. It is an acknowledgment that the worshiper not only believes God's promise but that he is in sympathy with it and desires the Lord's Kingdom --longs for it. It thus implies that he is not in sympathy with sin, nor with the kingdoms of this world and the present order and its imperfect social, financial, political and ecclesiastical arrangements. It is an acknowledgment,
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furthermore, that the worshiper is longing for the condition in which no sin will be possible;--in which God's will shall prevail on earth as well as in heaven. It thus implies that he is out of harmony with sin and in harmony with righteousness, truth, goodness. It is an acknowledgment, nevertheless that God's will is not done on earth, that his Kingdom has not come to earth as yet; for when his kingdom comes, when Christ, the appointed King, shall take unto himself his great power and reign, the result will speedily be as shown in the Scriptures, that Satan will be bound, evil in general restrained, and on the contrary knowledge, peace and blessing shall fill the whole earth. (`Rev. 20:1-3`; `21:1-5`; `22:1-6`.) There is no attempt here to tell the Lord, what must be done, and how and when his Kingdom must be established: the rightly instructed worshiper is supposed to know that he who made all things is thoroughly competent to govern and direct and overrule all things, and that he is "working all things according to the council of his own will." The worshiper, it is supposed, has gone to the divine Word for instruction and will continue to receive his instructions there respecting the divine purposes: in this petition he is merely expressing his full acquiescence to the divine arrangement and rejoicing therein.
"Give us this day our daily bread." The words of Matthew here differ slightly from those of Luke. Literally translated Luke's statement is, "be giving continually our daily bread." Matthew says "this day," while Luke says "day by day." The thought is practically the same, however. It is not an appeal to God for superabundance and much goods laid up for many days; nor is it a request for luxuries: but merely asking, Lord, give us those things which are needful to us daily. Contentment is the very spirit of this petition. Whoever prays to the Lord after this manner, and from the heart, will surely be a very thankful and very contented person. And this petition is as broad as the divine promise respecting earthly things would warrant. "Thy bread and thy water shall be sure," leaves no room for requests for luxuries. Moreover, while this petition is the only one in the prayer of an earthly character, the only one taking hold upon earthly affairs and interests, it also may be understood as relating to spiritual things; indeed, we believe it will be so applied by all God's children, in proportion as growth is made in grace and knowledge and spirituality. The spiritually minded will be asking for the spiritual food, the spiritual necessities, day by day and will more and more realize that as the Heavenly Father clothes the lilies and feeds the ravens, so, much more, he will care for the temporal interests of all who are seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness, --the righteousness which it will enforce.
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." What a thought! Who can offer a prayer "after this manner" and yet be under control of the evil spirit--filled with malice, anger, envy, hatred, strife, being unforgiving, unthankful, resentful, backbiters, slanderers? All these works of the flesh and the devil proceed from evil conditions--not one of them is prompted by true love, such as the Lord inculcates and his spirit inspires. The very essence of Christian principle is love, sympathy, forgiveness of the faults of others, even as we realize we have faults ourselves and that God has graciously forgiven us these for Christ's sake. Our Lord emphasizes the importance of this forgiving spirit before we can be children of our Father in Heaven, saying, in another place, "With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged;" and with what measure ye measure others, your own conduct shall be measured. (`Matt. 7:2`.) We remember, also, that he gave a parable illustrating the subject, representing his forgiven disciple as a servant who owed ten thousand talents, whose debt he had freely set aside, and did not press; but when that follower manifested so different a spirit that, finding a fellow servant who owed a few pence, he treated him unmercifully, then the Lord's mercy and generosity were likewise withdrawn from him.--See `Matt. 18:23-35`.
Let every Christian in approaching the throne of the heavenly grace, daily inquire of his own heart, whether or not he has forgiven those who are indebted to him, as he desires that God should freely forgive him for Christ's sake. This does not mean the forgiving of financial indebtedness and destruction of our account books, except that on the debtor willing but unable to pay, we should have mercy and patience, even as we hope for mercy of our Lord. Its special application is to moral obligations, transgressions and indebtedness. Nor does this imply that we should pay no attention to the transgressions of others against ourselves--that we should not recognize offences. True, we should not be swift to take offense, we should be slow to anger, we should never take offense unless offense is most evidently intended. And then, while we may not forgive in the absolute sense until our forgiveness is asked, according to divine pattern on this subject, yet we should be always in a forgiving attitude of mind: that is to say, we should harbor no vindictive or malicious feelings, we should have no feelings except those of love and sympathy, and a desire to forgive the wrong that has been done us, as soon as possible, and an anxiety to make the way of reconciliation as smooth and easy as possible for the wrong-doer; and we should be on the alert to discover and prompt to rectify any missteps or wrong doings on our own parts.
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And "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." The thought here is slightly obscure; for we all remember that "God tempteth no man." Amplifying the sentence so as to give us what we believe is the literal translation of it, and adding in brackets some suggestive words to make more plain our conception of the Lord's full thought here, as it was understood by those who heard him, this passage reads thus:--"And bring us not into temptation [merely], but [also] deliver us from the Evil One." It is a part of the divine arrangement to bring us or permit us to be put into positions of trial or testing. We are not to rebel against the divine wisdom in this matter, but quite to the contrary to acquiesce in it, and to realize that trials are essential to our development. Hence, instead of praying to be kept from temptations, our prayer rather is that when our Lord in his providences brings us into places of testing, he will also stay with us during the trial, and let his grace be sufficient for us, and not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to bear, but with the temptation provide also a way of escape--delivering us from the Evil One, Satan.
"For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever. Amen." These words, altho found in our Common Version and in some of the Greek manuscripts, are not found in the oldest Greek MSS., the Sinaitic and the Vatican. These would therefore seem to have been human words added to the words of our Lord. So far as this earth is concerned, these words have not been true throughout the Gospel age; the dominion of the earth has not been the Lord's; the power of earth has not been the Lord's; and the glory of the earth has not been the Lord's. On the contrary, Satan has been "the prince of this world" and has worked in the hearts of the children of disobedience, and has blinded the minds of them that believe not the gospel. And the kingdoms and powers of this world have been Satan's, and God's people are waiting for God's Kingdom to come, as represented in `verse ten`, to overthrow the kingdoms of this world, and to establish the Kingdom of righteousness: to bind Satan and to destroy the works of the flesh and the devil.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--It seems to me there should be a million of the booklet on Spiritism circulated this year. The error of Spiritism is increasing in a wonderfully rapid manner, and the regions here about seem pervaded with it. The "angel of light" phase seems to be wonderfully successful. How blessed the thought that the Lord will take care of his own. "I pray for them which thou hast given me out of the world." What joy to know that the Father hears the prayer of his dear Son. What a privilege to know that we may "abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
I enclose you a little booklet which I think should be titled "The Methodist Tenth," instead of "God's Tenth." I sometimes think if the Lord wanted to get money as badly as the preachers do he would get it. I hope it is not wicked to think such thoughts. Certainly my ideal of the Most High is very different from that. When the great work is completed, we will all see that He has done it all, and to Him belongs all the glory. Blessed be his holy name!
Yours for the truth, W. H. HOUGHTELIN.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have to report a splendid meeting at __________; a regular camp meeting, where my audiences varied all the way from 50 to 200 people, many of whom were deeply interested in the truth, as never before. Three Universalists threw away their arms of rebellion, came forward, two of them for the 1st volume of DAWN, and the third one subscribed for the TOWER, overjoyed at the wonderful plan of redemption when brought forward from a true and reasonable standpoint. Many others were deeply affected by such a grand harmony of the Word of God. Certainly it was a feast of fat things.
With Christian greetings to yourself and Sister Russell and all the dear brethren and sisters,
Yours in the bonds of love and service,
Z. A. RANSOM.
DEAR FRIENDS:--Please find enclosed M.O. for $1.00 to pay for my TOWER of '98. "To pay for" are not the words, however, to express my sentiments, as there is not money enough in the world "to pay for" the grand things it has been my great privilege to have, through the TOWER. May it please the Lord to continue the TOWER a true Herald of Christ's Presence and a firm defender of the Ransom, so as to keep it a true helper to us at all times.
Yours very truly, J. G. KUEHN.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--The TOWER arrived this morning, announcing the death of your father. I was deeply touched by your article, and you have my earnest sympathy in your loss. What you said of his burdens and disabilities made me think of some verses in the poem, "Mortally Wounded,"--
"I lay me down to sleep, with little thought or care
Whether the waking find me here--or there;
A bowing, burdened head, only too glad to rest,
Unquestioning, upon a loving breast;
Not eager, bold nor strong--all that is past,
Willing not to do, at last, at last!
My long day's work is done, and this is all my part;
I give a patient God my patient heart."
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What a great blessing this dear old father must have been to you! In his own quiet way, loyal to the truth and to you. I can understand well how his noble efforts to "hold up your hands" must have comforted
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and strengthened you through dark times when Satan assaulted the work. His was indeed--
A ROYAL SERVICE.
"Among the Master's callings of high honor,
One oftentimes we miss,
Because our hearts in their impatient yearning
Fail to perceive its bliss;
Fail to perceive the grandeur of its service,
The deep, sweet joy it brings,
And deem some other easier, or nobler,
With richer harvestings.
"And so we may not choose, but Christ appoints us
The work of sitting still,
And saith, My child, in quietness and patience
This service now fulfil.
We learn that we are given this sweet service,
Because the Master sees
That thus his delegates must oft be fitted
For higher embassies.
Until at last we hear his dear voice saying,
Child, I have need of thee
To fill this vacant place of trust and honor,
To do this work for me.
"And then, as fellow-workers with the Master,
We shall arise and go
Forth to the harvest fields of earth, it may be,
The reaper's joy to know;
Or to some perfect, wondrous service yonder,
Within some Holy Place,
Where, veilless, in its full transfigured glory,
His servants see his face."
Your father's humility and child-like faith in our blessed Lord were beautiful: and you could not have paid a higher tribute to him than this brief, loving article in the TOWER. While your present separation from him is sad, yet we sorrow not as those who have no hope, and we have probably only a few more years in the flesh. Then we, too, shall enter that better, more blessed life, and understand fully what now we know only in part. With much Christian love to you and to Sister Russell, I am
Yours in our dear Redeemer,
HATTIE O. HENDERSON.
[The EDITOR desires to express deep appreciation of all the many loving and sympathetic letters received from every quarter;--Love's testimonies and benedictions. What better evidences have we of the Lord's spirit than "brotherly love" and sympathy? Verily, "If one member suffers, all the members suffer with him." Please, dear Brethren and Sisters, accept this as an acknowledgement of all your kind and highly esteemed expressions of sympathy; and excuse me from a personal reply by letter, for we are extremely busy with the "harvest" work--as you will be glad to know.--EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I cannot tell you how deeply thankful I feel for being enabled to come to a knowledge of present truth as set forth in MILLENNIAL DAWN and ZION'S WATCH TOWER. It has strengthened and deepened my love for God and my desire to be of some use in the work of the present "harvest." There is a good field here for work, and I earnestly desire to engage in it. I do firmly believe that the Lord is calling me to it.
I have fully counted the cost, and I am prepared to devote my time, my talents, my all, in the Lord's work, and I wish to colporteur and devote the most of my time to spreading the truth. I have no one depending on me, so that I am entirely free to devote myself to the work. I enclose five dollars for renewal of TOWER and tracts, also some 1st volumes of DAWN.
Yours in the Lord, ANDREW ANDERSON.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. IV. and your welcome letter of the 12th inst. came safely to hand. Many thanks! I am reading the book with much interest and profit. It opens up many truths to me, so important for God's people to know; it is "meat in due season" for me. Oh, how I wish those books could have a wide circulation among the people, and enable many to see this wonderful light!
On the 17th of October there happened an event here that should not be left entirely unnoticed. The Salvation Army was then officially legitimized in Denmark. General Booth was then visiting here and opened up several new homes for destitute. And at one of his meetings he had some very big(?) people on the platform. Judge of Supreme Court F. Larsen, privy Counselor of State Goos, Lieutenant-General Bahnson, Secretary of State Tierry, Chief of Police Madsen, and several others, solemnly pronounced the Salvation Army legitimized as a useful institution for the present order of society, and promised it their best support.
But, for all that was said there, we know that it is not the promotion of Christianity these men are expecting by the efforts of the Salvation Army. It is not for the sake of Christianity, but for their own sakes, for the sake of Capitalism, that they have now legalized the "Army." And because the "Army" supports Capitalism, the great men bless its doings and step forth on the platform to thank the "Army" for all the good it has accomplished.
Please give my Christian love and regards to the office helpers and receive a large share to yourself and Sister Russell, from
Your loving brother in Christ, J. S. WINTER.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I am writing to thank you for the generous supply of tracts you sent me and to tell you I arrived here after a very smooth and pleasant voyage. The people are very much scattered over the island, and in no place is there any very dense population, and as horse, steam or electric cars are entirely unknown here it entails considerable walking to make a thorough canvass of the entire colony; but (D.V.) I hope after about a week to start in and distribute the tracts and at the same time solicit orders for DAWNS, and as this is a virgin field, I trust my labor will not be in vain.
I hope, dear Brother, that you will remember me at the throne of grace that He may use me in this solemn harvest time in making me His humble instrument in this colony for separating the wheat from the tares, and that whatsoever I may do, it may be entirely for His honor and glory who has called us to be fellow-heirs with Jesus. "Emptied, that so he might fill me, as forth to his service I go; Broken, that so unhindered his love through me might flow."
Yours in the love of Jesus, WALTER YARDLEY.
[This dear brother has already had 100 copies of VOL. I., and about all sold now.--EDITOR.]