ZWT - 1896 - R1911 thru R2082 / R1911 (001) - January 1, 1896
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VOL. XVII. JANUARY 1, 1896. No. 1.
Special Items..................................... 2
Views From the Tower.............................. 3
The Earth Saw and Trembled........................ 5
Poem: Still Let Our Hallowed Altars
The One Thing Desirable........................... 8
Bible Study: The Forerunner of Christ............. 10
Bible Study: The Boy Jesus........................ 11
Bible Study: The Ministry of John the
Bible Study: The Early Ministry of
THIS JOURNAL AND ITS MISSION.
THIS journal is set for the defence of the only true foundation of the Christian's hope now being so generally repudiated,--Redemption through the precious blood of "the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price, a substitute] for all." (`1 Pet. 1:19`; `1 Tim. 2:6`.) Building up on this sure foundation the gold, silver and precious stones (`1 Cor. 3:11-15`; `2 Pet. 1:5-11`) of the Word of God, its further mission is to--"Make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery which...has been hid in God,...to the intent that now might be made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God"--"which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed."--`Eph. 3:5-9,10`.
It stands free from all parties, sects and creeds of men, while it seeks more and more to bring its every utterance into fullest subjection to the will of God in Christ, as expressed in the Holy Scriptures. It is thus free to declare boldly whatsoever the Lord hath spoken;--according to the divine wisdom granted unto us, to understand. Its attitude is not dogmatical, but confident; for we know whereof we affirm, treading with implicit faith upon the sure promises of God. It is held as a trust, to be used only in his service; hence our decisions relative to what may and what may not appear in its columns must be according to our judgment of his good pleasure, the teaching of his Word, for the upbuilding of his people in grace and knowledge. And we not only invite but urge our readers to prove all its utterances by the infallible Word to which reference is constantly made, to facilitate such testing.
TO US THE SCRIPTURES CLEARLY TEACH
That the Church is "the Temple of the Living God"--peculiarly "His
workmanship;" that its construction has been in progress throughout the
Gospel age--ever since Christ became the world's Redeemer and
the chief corner stone of this Temple, through which, when finished,
God's blessings shall come "to all people," and they find access to
him.--`1 Cor. 3:16,17`; `Eph. 2:20-22`; `Gen. 28:14`; `Gal. 3:29`. That meantime the chiseling, shaping and polishing, of consecrated believers
in Christ's atonement for sin, progresses; and when the last of these
"living stones," "elect and precious," shall have been made ready,
the great Master Workman will bring all together in the First Resurrection;
and the Temple shall be filled with his glory, and be the meeting
place between God and men throughout the Millennium.--`Rev. 15:5-8`. That the Basis of Hope, for the Church and the World, lies in the fact that
"Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man," "a ransom
for all," and will be "the true light which lighteth every man that
cometh into the world," "in due time."--`Heb. 2:9`; `John 1:9`; `1 Tim. 2:5,6`. That the Hope of the Church is that she may be like her Lord, "see him
as he is," be "partaker of the divine nature," and share his glory as
his joint-heir.--`1 John 3:2`; `John 17:24`; `Rom. 8:17`; `2 Pet. 1:4`. That the present mission of the Church is the perfecting of the saints for
the future work of service; to develop in herself every grace; to be God's
witness to the world; and to prepare to be the kings and priests of the
next age.--`Eph. 4:12`; `Matt. 24:14`; `Rev. 1:6`; `20:6`. That the hope for the World lies in the blessings of knowledge and opportunity
to be brought to all by Christ's Millennial Kingdom--the restitution
of all that was lost in Adam, to all the willing and obedient, at the
hands of their Redeemer and his glorified Church.--`Acts 3:19-21`; `Isa. 35`. CHARLES T. RUSSELL, Editor; MRS. C. T. RUSSELL, Associate.
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A MUSICAL NUMBER.
WE hope soon to issue a musical number of the TOWER. It will contain some strictly new pieces of vocal music, written specially for it, on the lines of our spiritual hopes and joys. You may expect it February 1.
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
PRAISE from thankful hearts, to the great Giver of all good, should be the uppermost sentiment with all the children of the great King at the dawn of the New Year 1896. Our praise should be for mercies past, and no less for the exceeding great and precious promises which stretch out before all who in deed and in truth are under the protection of the precious blood and consecrated fully to the will of God.
"Give me a thankful heart,
Like, Lord, to thine!"
As a miser counts over repeatedly the gold he loves, and thus comes to value it more highly, so the children of God should count and recount the Lord's favors, and study their benefits, that they may appreciate them the more. The fully consecrated will, in the light of God's Word, find cause for thankfulness in the very things which once they would have reckoned as adversities; for they have learned that all things work together for good to them that love God [supremely], to those called according to his purpose. He who has freely given us Christ, shall he not with and through him freely give us all things? (`Rom. 8:32`.) Therefore, those who have rightly accepted God's "unspeakable gift" find in him abundant cause for thankfulness and rejoicing. Having in him the promise, not only of the life that is to come, but also of the present life (`1 Tim. 4:8`), they sing:--
"Christ for sickness, Christ for health:
Christ for poverty or wealth:
Christ for joy, and Christ for sorrow;
Christ to-day and Christ to-morrow:
Christ my Savior, Christ my Friend:
Christ my Treasure without end."
After considering our personal blessings and privileges and rendering praise therefor, let us, as members of his Church, render thanks for divine favor upon his people and his work, and upon our united, though feeble, efforts in connection with it shown in the annual report in our last issue: also for the privilege of being co-workers together with God in the great plan of the ages;--for the privilege of sharing now the reproaches of them that reproached him, and thus filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ (`Col. 1:24`); and for the glorious prospect that those who suffer with him for righteousness' sake shall reign with him, if faithful unto the end. Let us be thankful, too, that as the darkness settles down upon the world, "ye brethren are not in darkness;" and that, being enlightened, the very things which cause the hearts of the world to fail with fear, and for looking forward to those things coming upon the earth, are to us evidences that our deliverance draweth nigh; causing us to lift up our heads with hope, and our hearts with rejoicing.
The year, as it opens upon the Nominal Church, finds it flourishing as to numbers, influence and outward prosperity. "Rich, increased in goods, and having need of nothing," is its sentiment, as foretold by our Lord. (`Rev. 3:14-19`.) Never was there so much wealth invested in church buildings, equipments, choirs and minister's salaries. Never were the numbers of members so great, and never did they represent so much wealth. In addition, there is a general tendency toward union, federation, "confederacy," which is popularly considered an evidence of growth in grace. Never were there so many "young people" active in Christian work; and never so many "Boy's Brigades" learning the use of carnal weapons.
But inwardly what do we see?--We see (1) a few in every congregation who are perplexed,--who know not whether to think that the outward prosperity is genuine or artificial, who know not whether to condemn the majority
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for having lost the spirit and power of full consecration, or whether they should accept the verdict of the majority that they are "old fogy," and the old sermons, old hymns, and old reverence for God and his Word and consecration of heart and life merely old-time nonsense. They hunger and thirst after righteousness sometimes, and try to satisfy their longings by listening to sermons which know nothing of either the cross or the crown, being prepared for the unregenerate "tares" who have no appreciation of those things.
Amongst her learned men in seminaries and pulpits the doctrine of Evolution has supplanted the Bible doctrine of the fall, the ransom and coming restitution. And her great men, with very few exceptions, vie with each other in destroying the faith which once they preached,-- in discrediting the inspiration and truthfulness of the Bible, under the name of "higher criticism." This flood of infidelity has not yet reached the masses: when it does `Psalm 91:7` will have its fulfilment;--thousands will fall from the faith now held by them credulously, but not understood, into mere social moralism, denying the fall and consequently the redemption from its condemnation, and all necessity for an imputed righteousness of Christ. This is the position of the leaders now, and both reason and Scripture indicate that "many will follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." The few years ahead are important ones, and demand the energy of all who are awake to the truth, to extend the helping hand before the falling away becomes general.
The outlook amongst the nations is unrest--"fear of those things coming upon the earth." Never were they so well prepared for strife, yet never did they so much dread it, and with good cause.
The Far Eastern question, in which all the great nations of the world are interested, as well as China, Japan and Russia, is still unsettled; it is merely eclipsed for the time by the Turkish or Eastern-European question. Turkey has long been known as "the sick man" amongst the nations; and the Great Powers of Europe, all anxious to get hold of his possessions, fear each other. Constantinople has one of the choicest harbors of the world, and, in the hands of progressive people, would be of inestimable importance. It is coveted by Russia, which is practically an inland country, her Baltic and Arctic sea ports being ice-locked for a considerable portion of the year.
The nations of Europe fear any increase of Russian power or influence, as likely to overshadow their own; and hence have aided Turkey to resist her powerful and acquisitive neighbor, Russia. It was for this reason that the Crimean war was fought, and, for Russia's limitation, one of the terms of that peace stipulates that no foreign warships may pass through the Dardanelles without permission from the Turkish government, Russia's ships being the only foreign
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warships that would probably desire to pass. Hence Turkey is called "the buffer kingdom." The "sick-man's" government, always execrable, has since become still worse, and Russian intrigue has fostered rebellions. But these seceding provinces were not allowed to fall into Russia's hands, nor into Austria's. The great powers met and decided to organize a line of petty princedoms between Turkey on the one side and Austria and Russia on the other. These are Roumania, Bulgaria, Servia and Montenegro.
The recent massacres of tens of thousands of Armenian Christians (Catholics, slightly different from the Roman and Greek Catholics) in the Sultan's dominions is probably due either to the breaking down of the thoroughly corrupt government, or else to conspirators in power, who hope to secure the overthrow of the present government by "the powers," and thus to gain some personal advantages. The Sultan, once very tractable to the wishes of Great Britain, believing her a friend, is now distrustful, and fears that, as she has taken and held Egypt, she may intend now to grasp Syria and Palestine.
The English people clamor for interference for the protection of life and order, and do not in general realize the importance of Turkey as a "buffer;" and their rulers fear to mention it lest it should stir up Russian pride and precipitate an undesirable conflict. Russia stands waiting, as for a rich morsel, but preferring to get it at a cheaper price than war. The situation is greatly strained every way. If it results in war, the Turks will make a stern resistance, and after their fall, Russia, with her army already on the spot, will be unwilling to let go, especially as she now has the French navy for an ally on the sea. This would be likely to involve all Europe, and perhaps Japan, in a war such as was not since there was a nation.
But while the outlook is threatening, and many consider it sure that such a general European war will break out during this year, we do not share their fear. Turkey may be still further dismembered, or even entirely cut up, but the general European war will certainly not come for several years yet; not for ten years, we feel quite confident. If it be asked upon what evidence we reckon, we answer, (1) Upon the divine prediction of `Rev. 7:1-3`, that the "Four angels" (agents) must hold back that great storm until the truth shall first prepare or "seal the servants of God in their foreheads [intellectually]." (2) Upon the fact that the Scriptures clearly teach that first the union or federation of Protestants shall take place, and enable them to act conjointly with Papacy in support of "the kings of the earth and their armies," before the great overthrow of all government will take place. Whenever the general European war occurs, we may feel tolerably sure that its outcome will be world-wide anarchy, accompanied eventually by all the horrors of the French Revolution--worse by far than those perpetrated recently in Turkey. Of that time the prophet declares every man's hand shall be against his neighbor; and our Lord says that unless those days should be shortened (by the setting up of the elect in the kingdom) there would be no flesh saved.--`Zech. 8:10`; `Matt. 24:22`.
We have gone into this matter at some length, because "Adventists" are industriously teaching that when Turkey falls the Lord's second advent and the burning up
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of the world will immediately follow. This has long been their mistaken theory, often disappointed. They fail to see that our Lord is a spirit being, whose second advent, glory and power, will be spiritual, not fleshly; that his Millennial parousia--presence--will be invisible to men; and that his kingdom will be the invisible power that shall use the nations to overthrow one another, and thus prepare men for the reign of the Prince of Peace.--See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., page 103.
Much more dangerous looking, to our view, is the threatened rupture between Great Britain and the United States. Related by ties of blood and history and language and religious sentiment, a war between these countries would be a specially sad picture. Yet the consanguinity of the two nations in some respects increases the danger; for both are courageous, both boastful and proud, both full of resources, and both confident of ability to teach the other "a needed lesson;" and neither is willing to give an inch, nor to acknowledge an error. Yes, we must admit, there is great danger of a war, which would be a disgrace to the two nations which, more than any others, should be able to settle disputes justly and amicably. Nevertheless, we do not expect war. We have great confidence that the British government will find a way to arbitrate its dispute with little Venezuela. Such a course would be very much to their credit every way. Yet thoughtless public opinion, with "brag and bluster," may force Lord Salisbury to say and do things very contrary to his own judgment. It is safe to assume that the United States Government dare not, and will not, retreat from the essentials of its present position.
* * *
Matters get wonderfully mixed up sometimes. For instance, it was the peaceable, order-loving Christian people who insisted that British diplomats and, if necessary, gunboats should exact of China reparation for the murder of Christian missionaries, and who secured the execution of seventeen Chinese rioters. It is the same class of peace-loving people who are now urging Lord Salisbury to begin a war at once upon Turkey--in defense of the poor Armenians. Even the most ardent peace advocates must admit that, in Turkey's case, everything possible seems to have been done to avoid war; and that it is merely a question of time until the Turks will utterly exterminate the Armenians, if "the powers that be" do not interfere with physical force. The perplexing questions are: would it be more righteous and honorable to go to war or to permit such atrocities?
What should be the attitude of God's fully consecrated saints upon this subject? Should we favor war and bloodshed in a good cause, or a peace that would leave fellow creatures exposed to such atrocities? What would our Lord do or say on this question?
We believe that he would repeat his former words,-- "They that take to the sword shall perish by the sword." "Do good to them that hate you and persecute you." "If ye suffer for well doing, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth on you." "My kingdom is not of this world, else would my servants fight." These instructions, however, are not for the world individually or nationally, but for the saints who would walk in their Lord's footsteps. Of these our Lord said, "Ye are not of this world; for I have chosen you out of the world and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit."
The governments of the earth, although largely dominated by Satan, "the prince of this world," and although in no sense kingdoms of God, nevertheless have a lease of power from the Almighty, which carries with it a certain responsibility;* they are to be "ministers of justice" fully authorized to "bear the sword" and use it, as the Apostle Paul points out. (`Rom. 13:1-4`.) So, then, let the nations do their part, and let God's consecrated "little flock" remember their Master's words, "Ye are not of this world, even as I am not of this world," and abstain from the use of carnal weapons, and from counseling others to use them, and instead be "fervent in spirit serving the Lord," and using the sword of the spirit, the Word of God. The "saints" thus appear to the world unpatriotic; but this is unavoidable. We have become aliens so far as all present earthly governments are concerned; we are citizens of the heavenly kingdom, and hence "strangers and pilgrims" here. Filled with the spirit of the Captain of our salvation, we cannot be otherwise than opposed to the destruction of human lives, our desire on the contrary being to save them. If compelled by the government to enter the army, we should "go" (`Matt. 5:41`), but probably could get into the hospital service.
The fact not generally recognized is, that the Scriptures lay down a particular rule for the saints--the law of Love to God and man--while the world is left to its own expediency. The Church alone is on trial: the world is merely gaining an experience, whose failures will prepare the worthy to appreciate the Millennial reign of righteousness, under the law of Love.
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., p. 259; VOL. II., p.73.
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THE EARTH SAW AND TREMBLED.
"His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled." "Beware lest you should reject him who now speaks; for if those did not escape who rejected him who admonished them on earth [Moses-- `Heb. 10:28`], much less shall we escape if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven; whose voice then shook the earth [`Exod. 19:16-18`]; but now it has been announced, saying, 'Yet once for all I will shake not only the earth, but the heaven also.' Now this word, 'Yet once for all' denotes the removal of the things shaken, as of things made, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain."--`Psa. 97:4`; `Heb. 12:25-27`.
THE Psalmist prophetically taking a standpoint of observation future from his day declared, "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof." As has been shown,* this began to be true in 1878, when our returned Lord Jesus took unto himself his great power. Yet not until 1915, when his kingdom will be fully set up and established in the earth, will his glorious reign be fully manifested and recognized. But that the prophet is referring specially to the present time, since 1878 and down to 1915, is clear from his succeeding statement--"Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies."
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III., Chap. ix.
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How true it is that the storm clouds are all about this day of his kingly presence! and the darkness of gloom and perplexity and trouble deepens on every side. If we inquire, Why is this day of his presence such a time of trouble and perplexity and distress of nations? the answer is, Because righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne, and he is judging the nations and weighing them in the balance. Judgment is being laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet, to the intent that ere long the equitable principles of his government may be established in all the earth. And not only will all unrighteousness be made manifest, but "a fire goeth before him and burneth up his enemies." All the opposers of his righteous course will be the sufferers: they shall be cut off, destroyed, burned up, with the fire of his jealousy.-- `Zeph. 3:8`.
This work of judgment and consequent time of trouble being a necessary preparation for the glorious reign of righteousness that shall immediately succeed it, and all being wisely directed by the high and holy One who is too wise to err and too good to be unkind, the Prophet bids us discern in it all the abundant cause for rejoicing and gladness. Indeed, there is cause for rejoicing, not only among the saints, but in the whole earth; and it is the privilege of the saints to tell them so if they will hear. But whether they will hear or whether they forbear, let us tell it out, and by and by when the great afflictions of this judgment hour begin to seal its instruction upon the hearts of men, then the blessed testimony will be as healing balm, and they will see that he that smote them in his wrath, and scourged them in his hot displeasure, is also merciful and gracious, and unwilling that they should perish, but anxious rather that they should turn unto him and live.
It is in the midst of the clouds and darkness of this day of trouble incident to the setting up of Messiah's Kingdom, that the statement of the prophet is verified--"His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled." How apt is the figure! Truly like lightning flashes in the midst of the gloom and perplexity of this cloudy day come to men the remarkable glimpses of the great principles of truth and righteousness in contrast with which the world's present disorder is so manifest. A flash of lightning from the obscured throne discloses here one error and there another and another; and by and by the whole world will be aroused. Already it is largely so, and the whole world trembles for fear, not knowing what the outcome will be.
It is remarkable, too, that the lightning flashes are continually calling attention to the Word of God--to the golden rule, to the equal rights and privileges of human brotherhood, to the faultless character and self-sacrificing disposition of Jesus Christ, to the law of love in contrast with the law of selfishness. It is leading men to reason of righteousness (if not to practice it) and of coming judgments when they hope and believe that in some way present wrongs will be righted. By the sudden and now increasingly frequent flashes of light which issue from the very storm clouds that surround the invisible, spiritual presence of our glorious King, these principles of the Word of God are ever and anon being illuminated and brought to the front for the consideration of all men. They are discussed in the daily press, in our popular periodicals, in labor and trades unions, on the streets, in stores and factories and counting rooms, in the market places, at public gatherings; even the heathen nations are discussing them and contrasting the daily life of professed Christians and Christian nations with the character and teachings of the great founder of Christianity, extolling the latter and ridiculing the former.
Thus his lightnings are enlightening the world, and as a result there is great commotion everywhere manifest: there is dissatisfaction, unrest, and the whole current of popular thought is set in a revolutionary direction. The lightning flashes are revealing the corruption that is in the world, and showing men that they are living far below the dignity of manhood; but how to right things they are not able to see; and the conflicting ideas and voices and theories and threats reveal the facts the prophets foretold--"The nations are angry"; and the whole earth trembles from the din of a wordy conflict which they realize must sooner or later come to blows. "The earth saw, and trembled."
But while the whole earth trembles for fear and for looking after those things that are coming on the earth, what is the attitude and condition of the Lord's consecrated and faithful people? Are they, too, in fear? and when the judgments of the Lord fall heavily upon the wayward and disobedient, so that the whole earth reels to and fro and staggers like a drunken man (`Isa. 24:20`), are they in dismay and distress? Ah, no; for it is written--"Zion heard and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced, because of thy judgments, O Lord;" and `Psalms 91` and `46` show why they rejoice while others weep. It is because they dwell in the secret place of the Most High (represented by the holy place in the typical tabernacle), and abide under the shadow of the Almighty (as the typical tabernacle was covered by the cloud, which symbolized the Lord's presence and protection). "The secret counsel of the Lord is for them that fear him, and his covenant [is] to make it known to them."--`Psa. 25:14`.
These dwellers in the secret place of the Most High are therefore provided in these perilous times with a clear knowledge of the divine plan, which enables them to see both the necessity for the present method of divine discipline upon the world and also the peaceable fruits of righteousness which shall result therefrom. In the midst of the storm and battle of this day of the Lord they hear the commanding voice of the Lord of armies, and their hearts rejoice because they have full confidence in his ability to bring order out of all the confusion. They realize that in the judgments of this day it is the Lord that speaketh from
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heaven--from the high place of authority and control; and therefore they rejoice and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness--of his justice, wisdom and love, which insure his doing all things well.
But the Psalmist intimates that while the world at large would be in ignorance of the import of present events, and therefore in fear and dread; and while the saints, with clear knowledge, will be rejoicing because of the Lord's judgments and their foreseen outcome; some, all heedless of both the world's distress and of the voice which speaketh from heaven, will still boast themselves of idols. He says, "Confounded be all they that serve graven images; that boast themselves of idols."--`Psa. 97:7`.
These words call to mind the warning of the Apostle Paul, above quoted--"See that ye refuse not him that [now] speaketh," etc. The Apostle addresses these words to those who know the Lord's voice and recognize it, warning them against at any time refusing longer to heed it, when it speaks in wrath and judgment. But, alas! there are some who heed not the warning, and who, although they recognize the voice of the Lord, do refuse longer to obey it and be led by it; and they turn away from him that speaketh from heaven, to the idols which their wayward hearts have set up in his stead. These "graven images" are indeed the work of their own hands--they are the human philosophies and science, falsely so called, of this evil day; and those who reject the testimony of him that speaketh from heaven, having once heard it, invariably fall into some one of the many forms of idolatrous worship now so prevalent; or else they drift restlessly from one to another of them.
All such shall surely be confounded; they shall be put to shame and confusion; their idols shall be destroyed; and the wilful sinner, once enlightened and blessed with the hallowed influences of the holy spirit and the truth, and who then turns away from all these, the Apostle declares shall not escape the reward of his deeds. "For," he says, "if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape if we turn away from [after once recognizing] him that speaketh from heaven."
The former reference, as shown by the preceding verses (`Heb. 12:18-21`), was to the ceremonies which accompanied the establishment of the law covenant, with Israel, in the hands of Moses, the mediator of that covenant. (`Exod. 19`.)
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So solemn and impressive was the occasion that even "Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake." First, through Moses, the people entered into a sacred covenant to obey the Lord, saying, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do." And the Lord covenanted with them, saying, "If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people;...And ye shall be a Kingdom of priests and a holy nation."--`Exod. 19:5-8`.
Then followed the giving of the law and the accompanying solemnities which established the covenant in the hands of Moses as the divinely appointed mediator--"And the Lord said unto Moses. Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee and believe thee forever." (`Verse 9`.) Then followed the demonstrations of the divine presence in the cloud-covered mountain, from which proceeded thunders and lightnings and the sound of a trumpet--"And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice....And the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount, and Moses went up." (`Verses 18-20`.) And the people were charged not even to touch the mount on penalty of instant death.--`Verses 12,13,21-25`.
These solemn ceremonies prefigured the still more impressive circumstances which accompany the establishment of the "new covenant" in the hands of the mediator greater than Moses--our Lord Jesus Christ. The mountain (kingdom) of the Lord's house is now being established above the tops of all the mountains (kingdoms) of the earth, and exalted above the hills. (`Isa. 2:2`.) Clouds and darkness (trouble and perplexity and distress of nations) are round about it (`Psa. 97:2`); and the thunderings and lightnings are making all the earth to tremble as did Israel at Sinai. And now (since 1878) "God hath set his King upon his holy hill of Zion." (`Psa. 2:6`.) Wherefore, says the Apostle, "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh." For if those who refused to obey Moses, and presumptuously disgraced the ceremonies of the occasion at Sinai, met with instant death, how can we escape if we disregard the voice of the Mediator greater than Moses, who now bids all beware of the presumptuous sin of disregarding the remarkable circumstances which now accompany the establishment of the new covenant through Christ, its mediator?
We see the gathering, darkening clouds of trouble; we hear the thunder tones of judgment that "call the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof"-- from the east to the west (`Psa. 50:1`); we see the lightning flashes of truth and righteousness, and how the whole earth trembles with fear and for looking after those things that are coming; and the foretold events of this harvest time speak in trumpet tones. How shall we regard these things? Shall it be with thoughtful and reverent fear, lest, the promise being left us of entering into the rest and glory of his Kingdom, any of us should seem to come short of it (`Heb. 4:1`), and with great carefulness to make our calling and election sure? or shall it be with that presumptuous irreverence which disregards all these manifestations of divine power and glory, and, turning away from him that thus speaketh from heaven, sets up some idol of a wayward heart? Let us beware of any condition of heart that would lead to such a course.
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As in the type, so here, the establishment of the new covenant is accompanied with the shaking of the earth (society) and the mountains (kingdoms); and not only so, but Paul says the heavens also (the ecclesiastical powers) shall be shaken.
What is the object of all this shaking? It is the removal of the things shaken, and the establishment of a kingdom which cannot be moved. In this eventful period everything that can be shaken will be shaken; for only the unshakable principles of truth and righteousness can endure and be worthy of a place in the Kingdom of God. And every one called to share in that Kingdom must be a lover of and follower after righteousness and truth. All others will be shaken out of the company called to share the honors of the Kingdom. The many snares and delusions of this evil day are accomplishing this very work: they are shaking out all the unstable as well as the false and faithless ones; and in the end only the true will remain.
Seeing then that all these present things shall so shortly be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness? "Be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace."--`2 Pet. 3:11,14`.
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STILL LET OUR HALLOWED ALTARS BURN.
THE following lines were prepared by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes (now deceased) and read at the twenty-fifth anniversary of the organization of the Young Men's Christian Association, in Boston. They voice well our sentiments for the New Year 1896 for all of God's children awakening from the errors of the "dark ages." As errors are discovered and discarded, may the truths, old as well as new, become all the more precious to us all.
"Our Father, while our hearts unlearn
The creeds that wrong thy name,
Still let our hallowed altars burn
With faith's undying flame.
"Not by the lightning gleams of wrath
Our souls thy face shall see,
The star of love must light the path
That leads to heaven and thee.
"Help us to read our Master's will
Through every darkening stain
That clouds his sacred image still,
And see him once again,--
"The brother man, the pitying friend,
Who weeps for human woes,
Whose pleading words for pardon blend
With cries of raging foes.
"If 'mid the gathering storms of doubt
Our hearts grow faint and cold,
The strength we cannot live without
Thy love will not withhold.
"Our prayers accept; our sins forgive;
Our youthful zeal renew;
Shape for us holier lives to live,
And nobler work to do."
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THE ONE THING DESIRABLE.
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?...One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple."--`Psa. 27:1,4`.
THE inspired Psalmist in loftiest strains of devotion and fervor puts into the hearts and minds of God's consecrated people sentiments of faith and trust and love and adoration to God, who is worthy of all praise. While many of these sentiments were based upon his own checkered experience, they were uttered under divine inspiration for the instruction and edification specially of the true spiritual Israel of God.
Thus the Lord himself would indicate to us the sentiments of fervent devotion to him that should fill our hearts; and in this view of the matter we see how closely he would draw us to himself in love and faith and childlike confidence. While reason and common sense have their rightful place and are indispensable to a religious life, the soul that never mounts upon the wings of holy and fervent emotion, that is never stirred to its depths by a sense of the divine goodness and beneficence, has never yet experienced the blessedness of the relation of sonship. A true son of a beloved and approving father naturally experiences the fervor of tender emotion. Especially is this so of a true son of God who recognizes in his heavenly Father the perfection of every grace, the crowning glory of all excellence, and who lives in close communion and fellowship with him and has the constant witness in himself of his love and approval.
Ah, those were no empty words of our blessed Lord Jesus when he said,--"The Father himself loveth you." "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (`John 16:27`; `14:23`.) It is under such conditions that all those holy emotions of love, tenderness, faith, gratitude and praise fill to the brim our cup of joy; and with holy ecstasy we sing, "My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
How full of the melody of fervent emotion, of grateful
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praise, and of loving confidence are the inspired psalms! They bid our hearts rejoice and our tongues be glad, and they
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show us how, by meditating on his word and obeying his precepts, to "Rejoice in the Lord always, and in everything give thanks."
It was in view of the Lord's providences and of his many deliverances from the power of his enemies, and of the uniform kindness and mercy of God as he meditated upon them, that David exclaimed, "The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?" This consolation, variously expressed throughout the Scriptures, comes with all its blessed potency in our times of greatest need: the more desperate and determined the foes we encounter and the more fierce the conflict with the powers of darkness, the more glorious is the deliverance and the clearer are the manifestations of divine grace. And, as a consequence, faith takes deeper root, and, with renewed confidence and assurance, lays hold upon all the precious promises of God; and love and gratitude well up from hearts refreshed with an increased sense of the divine favor and blessing.
So it was with David; and so it is with God's faithful people who lead a life of prayer and faith and close fellowship with God. Such fellowship with God in adversity and in prosperity naturally tends more and more to center the heart's affections and desires in God, until the one thing supremely desired and sought after is that expressed by the Psalmist--to continually dwell in the house of the Lord, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
To dwell continually in the house of the Lord signifies to be continually counted worthy and to be recognized of God as a member of his Church, "whose house are we if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." (`Heb. 3:6`.) These, who hold fast their faith, and by faith overcome the allurements and temptations of the world, dying daily unto its spirit, hopes and ambitions, and living more and more unto God--these shall indeed dwell in the house of the Lord, in his holy, spiritual temple, his Church, forever. Now they dwell in the holy place of consecration and adoption; and the Lord says, "I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels;" and by and by he will present them to himself "a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, and worthy, as kings and priests unto God, to pass beyond the vail into the Most Holy--into the glorious spiritual condition and into the immediate presence of God.
"To behold the beauty of the Lord" is to behold the beauty of holiness, to have this image of his glory ever before the mind's eye as our inspiration, our light, our guide, our pattern and our chief joy. Here indeed is the Christian's secret of a happy life--happy in the midst of whatever may come to him of affliction or pain or loss or perplexity or whatever experiences come through the checkered scenes of this present life. To behold the beauty of the Lord really is only possible to those who dwell in his house; for only to such does he reveal himself "the fairest among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely." Such only know how to appreciate the beauty of his holiness; such only can delight themselves in the Lord and in the continual meditation of his law, and in conforming their lives to it.
"To inquire in his temple" signifies that those who are truly of the Lord's house are inquirers, students of his holy law and testimony, and that their delight is in so doing. The language of their hearts is, "Oh, how love I thy law; it is my meditation all the day." "I have meat to eat that ye [who are of the world] know not of;" for "It is my delight to do thy will, O God."
This one desire is the sum and substance of the Christian's ambition as more and more he becomes dead to the world and alive toward God. Let us more and more seek after it and conform to it; for in so doing Christian courage, boldness, fortitude and zeal will be greatly multiplied. These all are not only born of faith, but they increase and grow strong by a living faith developed and strengthened by the lessons of experience.
Courage, born of faith and strengthened by endurance, cries with humble boldness in the midst of the deepest darkness of the most perplexing difficulties, and in the midst of the wildest storms and most threatening dangers, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
The Apostle Paul surely caught this blessed inspiration when he said, "Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say rejoice....Be careful for nothing; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Mark how all through the Word of God we are taught, not only to be sober, vigilant, diligent, thoughtful, prayerful, and always abounding in the work of the Lord through whatsoever it may bring of toil or care or reproach or persecution, but in the midst of any or all of these experiences we are taught to be happy and to be filled with the inspiration of a holy joy. And not only are we counselled to be joyous, but the manner of life which naturally produces this joy is pointed out to us. When we come into the Lord's family we enter a new and holy atmosphere which those only can realize and appreciate who have the one desire above referred to paramount to every other, viz.,--to be counted worthy to abide continually in the house of the Lord.
"Do not count, when day is o'er, daily loss from life's rich store; But the gains, however small, count them daily one and all: Every sweet and gracious word, every pleasant truth you've heard; Every tender glance and tone, every kindly deed you've known: Let all evil things go by; still with brave endeavor, try simple joys
to multiply. Thus you'll learn, how large a sum will with faithful reckoning come."
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THE FORERUNNER OF CHRIST.
--JAN. 5.--`Luke 1:5-17`.--
Golden Text--"And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways."--`Luke 1:76`.
IN considering this familiar narrative we are reminded of the Lord's great care in preparing his chosen instruments for the various parts of his great work. Abraham's life was a long discipline of faith and patience; for he was to be the father of the faithful, a type of the fatherhood of God, and a worthy example to all his children, both those under the Law and those under the new covenant of grace.--`Rom. 4:11-17`.
Moses was specially prepared to be a leader, lawgiver and judge to Israel. Born under the humiliating conditions of bondage and the imperial sentence of death, he was providentially protected, preserved and adopted into the royal family, where he received a measure of that education necessary for his future service; and after that he had forty years more in the retirement of domestic life, which, under the operations of divine grace, hardened his virtues and mellowed the ardor of his temperament. Thus God gave to Israel a trained and experienced character as a leader. Similarly, suitable preparation for the positions they were to occupy or the work they were to do is very noticeable in other cases, both of Bible record and of subsequent history. Mark the case of Samuel, a child of prayer, devoted to the Lord from his infancy, and trained in the service of the Lord under the care of Eli; and of Paul, called from his infancy, instructed in the law, and zealous toward God even while ignorantly persecuting the saints, verily thinking he did God service.
John the Baptist was another illustration. The preparations in this, as in most of these cases, began before he was born, in the hearts of his parents,--"They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." (`Verse 6`) Consider also subsequent reformers known to all through the pages of history, and mark the providential leadings in their preparation for their work long before they could have any knowledge of the work that was before them. Consider also how the Lord has been preparing the Gospel Church for its Millennial work; and how he prepared the ancient worthies for their Millennial work in the earthly phase of the coming Kingdom; and so on through all the list of his "chosen vessels." The "chosen vessel" is always a prepared vessel for the service intended; and that the preparation is of God, and not of himself, is manifest from the fact that in every case it began long before the chosen one knew of the ends to be accomplished or the significance of the providential circumstances or the measures of discipline.
The principal preparation which God requires for every part of his honorable service is holiness of heart--devotedness to God and to his righteousness and truth, and abhorrence of all that is unholy, unclean. "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." There are, however, some parts of the Lord's service which reflect no honor upon those engaged in it, though they do reflect honor upon the wisdom and power of God who is able to make even the wrath of his enemies to praise him, by his power to out-general and overrule their evil for good to his cause. For instance, Satan, and every other evil worker, whose evil devices are, by divine power, overruled for good of God, unwittingly serve some of the purposes of God--sometimes
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for the discipline of the children of God and sometimes for the revolutionizing of affairs in the world.
The prenatal influences upon John the Baptist were such that, from his birth, his heart was inclined toward God and holiness (`verse 15`); and the training and discipline of his life were such that at maturity he was ready for the work of introducing to Israel the long-promised Messiah. Of him it was foretold, "He shall be great in the sight of the Lord." Yes, he was a great man, a great preacher and a great prophet. Jesus said he was the greatest of all the prophets. (`Matt. 11:11`.) But he was not great in the eyes of men. He was never a guest at the palace of Herod, but he was a prisoner in his prisons. He was not an esteemed orator in the Jewish synagogues, but he was "a voice crying in the wilderness." He was not arrayed in purple and fine linen, nor did he fare sumptuously every day, but his raiment was of camel's hair and a leathern girdle, and his meat was locusts and wild honey. And though, for a time, the multitudes were attracted by his preaching, he was soon abandoned by the people, imprisoned by the king, and finally beheaded in prison.
And yet John was truly a great man; for he was "great in the sight of the Lord." He was great in the sense that he that ruleth his own spirit according to the principles and precepts of the divine Word is greater than he that taketh a city. (`Prov. 16:32`.) All the natural aspirations and human ambitions were made subservient to his one mission of introducing his cousin, Jesus of Nazareth, a man of humble birth and circumstances, as the Messiah, to whom he knew the gathering of the people would be after he had accomplished his mission of introducing him. (`Gen. 49:10`.) But John was pleased to have it so, and declared that in performing this service for his cousin according to the flesh, and thus accomplishing his part in the divine purpose and prophecy, his joy was fulfilled. (`John 3:29`.) And, by the eye of faith discerning in the humble Nazarene the Son of God, he said to the people, "One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose." "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" "He must increase, but I must decrease."-- `Luke 3:16`; `John 1:29`; `3:30`.
It was this meekness, this complete self-abnegation and singleness of purpose to accomplish the righteous will of God, that constituted the moral greatness of John. And because he was in that attitude of heart where the Lord could use him he was privileged to be the greatest, the most highly honored, of all the prophets, in that he was chosen to introduce, to Israel and the world, the Anointed Son of God, the Redeemer and future King of the whole earth. Thus he became a great man, a great preacher of righteousness and truth, the greatest of all the prophets, and one of the heirs of the earthly phase of the Kingdom of God.
What a profitable lesson is in this for all who would seek true greatness--to be "great in the sight of the Lord." It calls to mind that wise admonition of the Apostle, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you in due time." (`1 Pet. 5:6`.) The way of the cross, the way of humiliation and self-abasement, is the way to the crown, to that true honor that cometh from God only. Where now is the honor of the great ones of earth who have passed away--the Caesars, the Herods, the Alexanders and Napoleons; the Jewish scribes and Pharisees
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and doctors of the law and Rabbis? and where all the reverend Popes and Cardinals and Bishops and Priests of the great Apostasy who proudly flourished in their day? They have all come to naught, and in the Millennial judgment they will come forth to shame and confusion of face, stripped of all their honors. But those truly great ones--"great in the sight of the Lord"--are reserved unto honor and glory and power at the appearing and Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Let the lesson come home to each of our hearts,-- "He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." Patiently submit to the humbling now, and hopefully and joyfully wait for the glory to be revealed by and by in all the faithful. This is not the time nor place for rewards, but for discipline and service, for the development of character, for making ready for the future exaltation, that we may appear without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, joint heirs of our Redeemer.
For an exposition of `verses 16 and 17` see MILLENNIAL DAWN VOL. II., chapter viii.
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THE BOY JESUS.
--JAN. 12.--`Luke 2:40-52`.--
Golden Text--"Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."--`Luke 2:52`.
THIS brief narrative gives us a single glimpse at the youth of our Lord; but it reveals all that is important for us to know concerning him before he arrived at maturity. It shows us the wonderful prodigy of wisdom and grace, so developed at twelve years of age as to be able to cope with the reasoning powers and the learning of men far advanced in years, in so much that he astonished them with his understanding and answers.
We observe also that his superior ability did not puff him up nor cause him to forget the respect and deference due to the advanced years and position of the Doctors and teachers. He was meek and lowly of heart, both as a boy and as a man. He was anxious also to learn of them from the law and the prophets. He did not miraculously know all that was in them; but he "grew in wisdom." He acquired knowledge, but with that ease, rapidity and retentiveness with which only a perfect mind can grasp and hold it.
His tarrying in the temple to receive the instructions of his Father's Word evidently was not in wilful disregard for his parents; but rather, was an evidence of his zeal to do his Father's will, which motive, in his childish simplicity, he seemed to think his mother and Joseph would fully realize and approve. This is apparent from his question,-- "Why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be in the courts of my Father?" No, they did not know. They could not understand the wonderful child. Bearing in mind subsequent expressions of more mature years which showed that his memory extended back to his previous existence with the Father before the world was, we have no reason to doubt that at the age of twelve his memory was active, and that he then knew what in after years he affirmed, saying,--"Before Abraham was, I am." "What and if ye shall see me ascend up where I was before?" "Father, glorify me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was," etc.--`John 8:58`; `6:62`; `17:5`.
But his mother and Joseph understood him not. How could they? Mary silently pondered these things in her heart; but how could she understand this mystery of God? Jesus, seeing that he was not understood and remembering his duty of submission to parents, was subject to their wishes, and returned with them to Nazareth. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man." In the retirement of his early life of preparation for his public ministry and great sacrifice, his virtues commanded the admiration of all who knew him. Praise God for this testimony of the human perfection of his dear Son!
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THE MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
--JAN. 19.--`Luke 3:15-22`.--
Golden Text--"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."--`John 1:29`.
SEVERAL points in this familiar narrative are worthy of special notice,--(1) The deep and wide influence of John's preaching. The prepared instruments of the Lord are powerful in his hand. The whole nation was aroused, the multitudes were baptized with the baptism of repentance (`Mark 1:4,5`), and the expectation of the immediate advent of the Messiah was everywhere manifest.
(2) The humility and sincerity of John, which was not changed in the least by the popular favor, is seen in his denial of the suggestion that he might be the Messiah. Had he made the claim, how readily would the people have accepted it! But this prepared vessel of the Lord was so established in righteousness as to be superior to any such temptation.
(3) In disclaiming this honor for himself John compared his own work and the work of the coming Messiah and showed them the difference. Referring to himself he claimed great inferiority. And his own work he described as only a preparatory work,--"I indeed baptize you with water, but...he shall baptize you with the holy spirit and with fire." It is very manifest that all of the multitudes who were baptized with water were not baptized with the holy spirit. The baptism of the holy spirit came at Pentecost after the Lord was glorified, but only upon a small minority of the Jewish nation. The baptism of fire came later--in the end of the Jewish harvest (A.D. 70) when Jerusalem was destroyed and their national existence terminated in the midst of a great time of trouble. `Verse 17` is in reference to the great separating work of the Jewish
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harvest and the gathering of the worthy remnant into the garner of the Gospel age, and the fiery judgments upon the unworthy chaff.
(4) In the baptism of Jesus we see that the ordinance received a new significance. His baptism was not unto repentance; for he had no sins to repent of. "He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." (`Heb. 7:26`.) With the accustomed view of baptism, John declined to baptize Jesus in whom there was no sin, nevertheless, though he could not understand why he should desire it, John complied with his request--"Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."--`Matt. 3:15`.
The righteousness of God's law which could by no means clear the guilty (`Exod. 34:7`) without a satisfaction of the claims of justice by the sacrifice of a life for a life (`Exod. 21:23`; `Lev. 24:17-21`; `Deut. 19:21`), he was about to fulfil by the sacrifice of himself. He was about to give his flesh for the life of the world--giving his life for the life
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of Adam, in whom we were all condemned, that as all posterity were included in the condemnation, so they might likewise have a share in the redemption. And all who desire to follow in the footsteps of Christ must likewise present their bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable through Christ. Thus it becometh us [the Christ, Head and body], to fulfil all righteousness.
With the baptism of Christ, then, the ordinance received the new signification of entire consecration to God as living sacrifices, even unto death. And in this new view of the matter some of the Jewish converts were baptized again. See the baptism of John and the baptism of Christ and his body, the Church, contrasted in `Acts 19:3-5`. See also TOWER for June 15, '93.
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THE EARLY MINISTRY OF JESUS.
--JAN. 26.--`Luke 4:14-22`.--
Golden Text--"And they were astonished at his doctrine; for his word was with power."--`Luke 4:32`.
WE HAVE before us in this lesson the greatest teacher that ever lived; and if we inquire wherein his power consisted, the answer is, It was the power of the holy spirit, which he had without measure. (`John 3:34`.) This is the secret of all power in the work of the Lord. Learning and worldly wisdom, or natural talents of fluency of speech, or oratory, are no substitutes for this indispensable requirement for the divine service. No preaching, no teaching is of value, except it be in the power of the holy spirit.
In this power our Lord Jesus came up from the wilderness into Galilee. How did he obtain this power? He obtained it in the same way his followers may obtain it; viz., by entire consecration to God, faithfulness to that consecration, and by communion with him in prayer and meditation upon his Word. The complete consecration our Lord had made and symbolized at Jordan; and while carefully studying the law and the prophets in order to an exact knowledge of the will of God, he had just endured a most subtle and severe conflict with the powers of darkness for forty days alone in the wilderness.* Through implicit faith in the wisdom, love and power of the Father, he came off that battlefield victorious, and filled with the power of that holy spirit which had given him the victory. Thus he was equipped with power from on high for the great work upon which he immediately entered. It was no wonder, indeed, that the people "were astonished at his doctrine; for his word was with power." "He taught them as one having authority [as one who knew the truth by an implicit faith in God which admitted of no doubt, and by the practical demonstration of its power upon his own heart], and not as the scribes who had no such power, and no such insight into the holy things of God.
It is thus, and only thus, that the followers of Christ may also gain this power which will mightily convince men of the truth, and which will compel respect for it, even in those who are not prepared to receive it into good and honest hearts. The preacher or teacher acceptable to God must, therefore, like the Lord, be first sincerely and fully consecrated to God. Then, when tried and tempted, he must prove his faithfulness to that consecration. Then let him go forward in the work of the Lord with a resolute purpose, to do his will at all hazards of human approval or disapproval, or of human praise or persecution. Most likely, like the Lord himself, he will have some of both-- at first some of the praise, but afterward the bitterness of persecution.
At first Jesus "taught in the synagogues, being glorified of all," "and all bore him witness and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth;" but very soon his faithfulness to the truth, which rebuked their unrighteousness, turned the praise of the people into wrath and persecution. This is the reward that faithfulness to the truth is sure to bring in the present life; and those who find it so should rejoice in this fellowship in the sufferings of Christ. Every new trial of faith, patience and perseverance, and every new victory in such trial brings to the soldier of the cross added power of the holy spirit--a courage born of endurance, a confidence in God born of experience, and a zeal born of a human appreciation of the power and intrinsic worth of divine truth, and a fuller appreciation of the righteousness of God and of all his ways. In this light the Christian should view every trial that comes to him, and, by drawing near to God in it, seek that measure of his holy spirit which will enable him to overcome, and in the conflict to gain new strength for further service.
The text of our Lord's discourse on this occasion was chosen from `Isaiah 61:1-3`, which declared his commission from God to preach the gospel--"The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach," etc. This was the object of his anointing with the holy spirit. And this anointing needed no supplement of human authority. No Jewish ecclesiastics or councils had anything to do with giving him this authority. It came, as he showed, from God alone, through his inspired prophet.
In this connection we are also reminded that, through him, this same anointing has come upon every true member of the body of Christ, which is the Church--"The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you." (`1 John 2:27`.) This anointing began at Pentecost, and has continued upon all who are truly the Lord's, even to the present day.
And not only so, but every member of the body, however humble or obscure, being "anointed to preach," is failing in his mission if he does not preach. Indeed, if he be filled with the spirit he must preach, being impelled to that service by a burning zeal, like him who said, "The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up;" "It is my meat and drink to do thy will, O God." But preaching is not always public declaration. Every influence that we can send out from within the radius of our talents, be they one or many, or be they humble or brilliant, is preaching the gospel. Let us all, therefore, diligently apply ourselves to it, and let it be "in the power of the spirit."
It is very significant that our Lord in quoting this commission, quoted only so much of it as was to be fulfilled by himself, the last phrase being, "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,"--the Gospel age, the time wherein the presenting of our bodies as living sacrifices would be acceptable to God. With this he closed the book and sat down, and said, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." Had he read the remainder of it he could not have claimed its fulfilment that day; for it was not yet time to preach the day of vengeance, nor yet to begin the great Millennial work foreshown in `verse 3`. The proclaiming of the day of vengeance belongs specially to this end of the age, and the whole commission applies to the Church entire. The message concerning day of vengeance is now due, and consequently is now being proclaimed by the "feet" members of the Christ.
*See our issue of August 1, 1894.