ZWT - 1905 - R3479 thru R3687 / R3528 (081) - March 15, 1905
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VOL. XXVI. MARCH 15, 1905. No. 6
Views from the Watch Tower........................ 83
The Czar's Speech to Workmen.................. 83
Prospects of a Russian Revolution............. 83
The Influence of Spiritism Widens............. 84
Some Truth from Dr. Huntington................ 84
Canadian Church Union Movement................ 85
Rev. W. Spencer Walton's View of Nominal
National Federation Seems Assured............. 86
Our "Passover" Memorial........................... 86
True Shepherd, True Sheep, True Fold.............. 88
"Lazarus, Come Forth"............................. 91
Readings from the Swedish Revised Bible........... 95
Public Ministries of the Truth.................... 96
Special Items..................................... 82
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BAPTISM SERVICE, APRIL 16.
At Bible House Chapel the first Sunday in each quarter is open for appointments for symbolic immersion. This rule will be set aside next quarter. Because of the Memorial Service coming on Sunday, April 16th, the Baptism service will take place on the same date,--at 3 p.m.
ROLLING TOGETHER OF THE HEAVENS.
An article under this caption has been crowded out of two issues, but D.V. will appear in our next. It clearly indicates the approach of conditions we have long been expecting from `Revelation 13:11-17`.
SWEDISH TABERNACLE SHADOWS.
We have now this pamphlet in TOWER form. Tract Fund contributors, also the poor, may order these without price. Others who so prefer may purchase what they can use at 3 for 10 cents.
A NEW WALL CHART.
A new Chart, similar to the one in the front of DAWN I., five feet long, done in solar tint (blue print) has been prepared. These we can supply at $1.00 each, express prepaid. We still have the 5-ft. Charts, painted, at $1.50 each, express prepaid. Either style is excellent for your sitting room. The explanation of it is entertaining as well as instructive to your friends who may call, and will prove very helpful to yourself; for if you learn to explain it to others you will have a good store of information for your own heart.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
THE CZAR'S SPEECH TO WORKMEN.
FOLLOWING the appeal to the Czar, of the striking workmen of St. Petersburg, which was refused, and the bloodshed which resulted when the crowds attempted to enter the palace grounds after being forbidden to do so, the Czar sent an invitation to some of the leading workmen to visit him at his palace. They responded, and the following is a detailed report of their reception:--
VISITING THE CZAR, THE "LITTLE FATHER."
Emperor Nicholas adopted the traditional fatherly tone in his talk with the workmen yesterday. He chided them for allowing themselves to be misled into engaging in a movement imperiling the internal order of Russia and aiding the foreign foe, and for attempting to demand by force what he otherwise would be willing to do voluntarily.
WILL PACIFY THE STRIKERS.
This interview, face to face with their "Little Father," in whom their faith has not been shaken by the events of the bloody Sunday of January 22, has had a far greater and more reassuring effect than any number of proclamations by Ministers and Governors General, and the workmen of St. Petersburg are now generally inclined to accept the promises of Governor General Trepoff and Finance Minister Kokovsoff at their face value.
The gift by the imperial family of $25,000 to aid the families of the victims of the conflict of January 22 also has had an excellent effect; and as the news slowly permeates the laboring classes of Russia it is expected it will make them content to wait for the promised reforms.
The workmen received the royal assurances of reform with cheers, and after a lunch at the imperial table returned to St. Petersburg in the best of humor to report to their fellows, as enjoined, the words of His Majesty. No attempt was made by them to present their desires, which already are sufficiently evident.
WILL GET PAY FOR STRIKE TIME.
The action of the St. Petersburg manufacturers in placing themselves in the hands of the Government in the matter of the adjustment of the main points of the dispute, and promising to grant the men pay for the time they have been on strike, not as a matter of right, but as a favor, and their contribution in aid of the sufferers among the families of their workmen, are expected to add to the prevailing good feeling.
The workmen's deputation was accompanied to the Czar's palace by Minister of Finance Kokovsoff and Governor General Trepoff. The workmen bowed low to the Emperor, who said:
"Good day, my children."
The workmen replied:
"We wish Your Majesty good health."
The Emperor then said:
"I have summoned you in order that you may hear my words from myself and communicate them to your companions. The recent lamentable events, with such sad but inevitable results, have occurred because you allowed yourselves to be led astray by traitors and enemies to our country. When they induced you to address a petition to me on your needs, they desired to see you revolt against me and my government. They forced you to leave your honest work at a period when all Russian workmen should be laboring unceasingly in order that we might vanquish our obstinate enemy.
"Strikes and disgraceful demonstrations led the crowds to disorders which obliged, and always will oblige, the authorities to call out troops. As a result, innocent people were victims.
PATIENCE IS COUNSELED.
"I know that the lot of the workmen is not easy. Many things require improvement, but have patience. You will understand that it is necessary to be just toward your employers and to consider the condition of our industries. But to come to me as a rebellious mob in order to declare your wants, is a crime.
"In my solicitude for the working classes I will take measures which will assure that everything possible will be done to improve their lot and secure an investigation of their demands through legal channels. I am convinced of the honesty of the workmen and their devotion to myself, and I pardon their transgression. Return to your work with your comrades and carry out the tasks allotted to you.
"May God assist you."
At the conclusion of his speech the Emperor told the members of the deputation to communicate his words to their comrades, and said he would supply them with printed copies of his address.
PROSPECTS OF A RUSSIAN REVOLUTION.
The London Spectator, in an able article on Russia says:
"The probability that the dynasty will be crippled and a revolution of some kind inaugurated is very great. The true pivot of power in Russia, the mystical belief in the autocratic
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Czar, has been shaken, if not destroyed. The autocracy substituted for his is that of the elder grand dukes, who have no 'divine' claims, who are divided by incurable jealousies, spites and rival female pretensions, and who are, with one exception, men without great parties behind them. If they make, as is possible, a palace revolution, they run the risk of dividing the troops, for the baby heir and the sickly Grand Duke Michael stand between the strong Vladimir and the succession, and the army, or sections of it, might pronounce for different men. Every ambition will be unloosed, and under an autocracy fear makes all ambitions fiercer. Meanwhile Kuropatkin will be hampered by want of supplies and reinforcements, and a new discredit must fall on Russian arms, which are now employed six thousand miles from St. Petersburg, and liable to paralysis from any interruption en route. The
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great cities, Moscow, Odessa, Kieff, Riga, and perhaps others farther east, are seething with agitation; the Reservists are furious and have arms; and it is hardly conceivable that the millions of revolutionaries, all white men and most of them drilled men, should not produce a competent leader who when he appears will be recognized in a flash. Even if we discredit the very minute accounts of the mutiny of the Black Sea sailors, and the refusal of the troops to crush them, it is clear that the vastness of the empire which has so long protected the central power is turning against it, and that the authorities may be more than bewildered by the necessity of violent repression in so many places at once. Prophecy is of course, futile; but we should say that unless the imperial family produces, or can attract, a chancellor of genius who understands how to preserve the autocracy by conciliation, or to transmute it into a despotism bound by laws like the governments of India and Germany, the days of the terrible regime which has prevailed in Russia for more than two centuries are approaching to an end."
THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITISM WIDENS.
Recently a Catholic priest (Mgr. Doane) on his death bed related a vision he had--that he was taken to heaven and saw the Lord and the throne and a great crowd in which he definitely recognized one person at least. There was some error about the matter, surely, for Catholics admit that practically none of their Church go directly to heaven--that all go first to purgatory. We doubt not masses were said for poor Doane, for the easing of his soul in purgatory. And if priests and popes know and teach that they can and do liberate such souls from time to time they surely ought to know who are there. Otherwise how could they know whom to attempt to deliver.
Our point is that poor Doane's words were taken up by a leading newspaper, and reporters sent to interview leading ministers of various denominations on the subject. These interviews were published, and several of them show a remarkable tendency toward Spiritism. As a whole they show that the leaders of the nominal Church are prepared to lead their flocks toward Spiritism. Nay, the words we quote will doubtless influence thousands in that direction. We quote the words of two of the more prominent as follows:--
REV. VAN DE WATER, D.D.
Dr. George R. Van de Water, rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, said to an "American" reporter last night that he considered the vision of Mgr. Doane as direct and indisputable evidence of the belief that he had always held, that it was possible for people on earth to hold communion with the souls in Heaven.
"I have always maintained the possibility of communication with the other world. Any man with the experience of dying persons which a clergyman or a physician has cannot fail to know positively that glimpses of Heaven are often vouchsafed to persons of great faith and saintly lives on their deathbeds.
"Personally, I consider that it is just as unscientific to deny the possibility of supernatural manifestations and the meaning and significance of dreams and visions as it is unscientific to swing to the other extreme and attribute to perfectly natural phenomena occult and supernatural meaning.
"Mgr. Doane's vision has unquestionably made a wide and profound impression on the mind of the public, just as it appeared to have made a deep impression upon his own mind at the time. The fact that these things are not to be understood or explained is no reason why they should not be believed."
REV. C. H. PARKHURST, D.D.
The Rev. Dr. Charles H. Parkhurst, discussing with an "American" reporter last night the wonderful vision of Mgr. Doane, frankly avowed a deep interest in the investigation of these problems that hitherto have been regarded as entirely outside the domain of strict religious thought.
He declared that he saw nothing incompatible with Christianity in the earnest efforts that are being made by well-known scientists to reach a point of view where avowed spiritualists and devout Christians may agree on an explanation of the recurring phenomena in the unseen world.
HE SUGGESTS AN INVESTIGATION.
"I myself have been impressed recently with the belief that there are spiritual manifestations going on about us in the unseen world which might profitably be investigated by some such organizations as that which Professor James, of Harvard, Professor Quackenbos, Dr. Hyslop and others are striving to form.
"As to dreams and visions, and this one in particular, I have no word to say. The matter, I should say, belongs to the psychologists. I should say that such things might be investigated by such a jury as I have referred to, and some practical results might thereby be attained."
"According to the story told by two men to whom Mgr. Doane related his dream, he had a distinct view of heaven, and was even conducted to the foot of the throne," said the reporter. "He disclosed to his friends the fact that he recognized at least one person whom he knew on earth, and spoke with him. Will you say, Dr. Parkhurst, whether or not this agrees with your conception of heaven?"
"No, I will not discuss that," replied Dr. Parkhurst.
"There has been an awakening along these lines recently, as is evidenced by the fact that such men as Professor James are giving serious attention to it. The danger lies in irresponsible persons, or those not fitted by study and temperament for the work, taking it up and exploiting it."
Dr. Parkhurst laughed at the idea that he was verging upon a belief in spiritualism, but referred to the remarkable experience of Dr. Funk with Mrs. Pepper in the matter of the lost widow's mite and the late Henry Ward Beecher.
"These are vastly interesting problems," he said in conclusion, "which we are not yet able to explain."
* * *
VISIONS AND DREAMS IN GENERAL.
It is not necessary to claim that all visions are of evil origin. Doubtless some of the worst dreams have resulted from improper eating. We know of no reason why the Lord might not permit his people a special warning through a dream, although his proposal that we must learn to "walk by faith and not by sight" implies that such special guidances outside the Word will be very exceptional.
Visions, etc., occurring in connection with the delirium of fever or with the last flicker of life on a death-bed need
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not be considered uniformly miraculous--of a holy or of a Satanic inspiration. Bad people have had pleasing experiences of the kind, and the very best have experienced a horror of great darkness at the dying moment. Our Lord, for instance, cried aloud, "My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me?" with his latest breath. Evidently our sleeping thoughts even more than our waking ones require supervision and rectification in the light of God's Word,--to which alone the Apostle commends us, and never to dreams and visions--our own or those of others.
SOME TRUTH HERE FROM DR. HUNTINGTON.
PHYSICAL TORTURE FOR CHRISTIANS MAY BE REVIVED.
"Readiness to suffer persecution is the supreme test of fidelity. That, perhaps, is the reason why Christ puts it at the very topmost round of his ladder of perfection. The special passion that distinguishes the persecutor is relentlessness. The figure is that of a bloodhound on the track of his victim. Earnestness turned to a bad use, describes the persecutor, for only so long as he is terribly in earnest is he to be feared. Curiously enough, the sorest persecutions that befell the early Christians befell them under the so-called 'good emperors.' The good emperors were given their epithet because they were diligent in attending to their business of governing. They saw that the new religion was eating into the very vitals of the Roman system, and that if not arrested, it would eventually overthrow the empire. Therefore, they persecuted the new religion's adherents, persecuted them to the death.
"The modern Church ought to be not a little mortified at observing how largely it is obliged to draw upon the annals of the far past for illustrations to supreme fidelity to duty. We interpret the 'faithful unto death' as meaning while life lasts, but there was a time when the words bore a sterner sense of faithful at the cost of dying. The Church of to-day is very much in the position of a man living on an inherited fortune; he may know how to enjoy it, but he has a very meagre knowledge of the toil and struggle that went to the amassing of it. The title deeds to this goodly heritage we call Christian civilization were written in blood, and in 'the place of the seal' we note, dim and faded by lapse of years, the sign of the cross.
"Whether the days of active persecution for conscience' sake have passed never to return is a question upon which only a rash thinker would venture an opinion. The time may conceivably come when a Christian minority may make itself so obnoxious to a non-Christian majority that there will be a renewal of physical pains and penalties. To-day toleration is the favorite word; it may not be to-morrow. As things are, the true reading of the Beatitude is that which applies it to those who dare to be unpopular rather than surrender what they know to be right. Under the soft condition of life as it is now lived, unpopularity is the nearest approach to persecution that is allowed.
"The age of the fagot and the axe is passed. The only flames of martyrdom to-day are those kindled by hot, burning words. It is with the breath of his lips or by the stroke of his pen that the modern lictor does his work. The desire
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for popularity is a natural instinct. The man never lived who was wholly devoid of it. The child desires popularity with his playmates, the college student with his class, the politician with his party, the man of business with the public, the seeker after social promotion with the particular set or circle in which he or she is ambitious to shine."--N.Y. Tribune.
CANADIAN CHURCH UNION MOVEMENT.
Although there seems little likelihood that definite union will be accomplished for a long time to come, the movement in Canada toward an amalgamation of the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches of the Dominion, is progressing and leading men in all three bodies are seriously working for its accomplishment. There have been several meetings of committees, and the present status of the matter is that at the last joint meeting of the committees there were appointed sub-committees to consider the subjects respectively of "Doctrine," "Polity," "The Ministry," "Administration" and "Law."
Each sub-committee has forty members (sixteen Methodists, sixteen Presbyterians and eight Congregationalists), except the committee on law, which has but fifteen members. These committees will study the subject assigned them and report to some future meeting of the full joint committee, trying to find some basis on which all three bodies may agree. There is no disposition among Canadian leaders to hurry matters, for it is realized that so large a subject needs the most painstaking consideration, and that a successful union will need the hearty approval not only of leaders, but of the entire membership of the churches.--Boston Transcript.
IS CATHEDRAL BUILDING TO BE A "FORM OF GODLINESS"
FOR OUR DAY?
Are we entering upon a new age of cathedral building? asks the New York Tribune. Not long ago it was announced that $750,000 had become available for work on the new cathedral of St. John the Divine; it is a matter of months only since the great Roman Catholic Cathedral of Westminster, in London, was finished; and it is less than a year since a bequest of $1,000,000 toward the construction of a cathedral for Boston was recorded. These facts lead The Tribune to remark: "The vast commercial structures, the luxurious hotels, must reach at last a limit beyond which men will go only for 'God and country.' Has the time come? In this period of magnificence and lavishness in building, are we at last turning some of our riches to the visible glorification of religion? If we are, we are coming indeed to a new age of cathedral building."
REV. W. SPENCER WALTON'S VIEW
OF NOMINAL CHRISTENDOM, AFTER FIFTEEN YEARS IN AFRICA.
"After fifteen years' residence as a missionary in Africa, I find upon my return to America that the Church here is dead. I find that the Church has gone away backward; I find an immense amount of empty profession. The Church for the most part is dead, and why? Because she has opened her doors to the world. The spirits of sedition that are abroad have entered in. The people are running after Dowieism, Spiritualism, and all kinds of fads which make a pretence of being scientific.
"I ask you here, do you think that if Christ walked the streets of this city to-day he would be popular? I tell you no. To be a Christian means to take up your cross and follow him. When a Christian says that he can get along with everyone it is because he is not following close to Christ."-- Toronto Star.
NOAH'S ARK AS A MODEL.
Recent despatches from Denmark tell of remarkable experiments, carried on in the Sound between Denmark and Sweden, for the purpose of testing the seaworthiness of a vessel built according to the dimensions of Noah's Ark, as given in `Gen. 6:15`. According to the Copenhagen Daily Dannebrog: "Naval architect Vogt, who has experimented for a long time with the dimensions of Noah's Ark as given in the Bible, has recently completed a model of that ancient craft....It measures 30 feet in length by 5 feet in width by 3 feet in height, the actual measurements of the Ark of Noah being 300 x 50 x 30. The model is built in the shape of an old-fashioned saddle-roof, so that a cross-section represents an isosceles triangle. When this queer-looking craft was released from the tugboat which had towed it outside the harbor and left to face the weather on its own account, it developed remarkable sea-going qualities. It drifted sideways with the tide, creating a belt of calm water to leeward, and the test proved conclusively that a vessel of this primitive
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make might be perfectly seaworthy for a long voyage. It is well known that the proportionate dimensions used by modern shipbuilders are identical with those of the diluvian vessel."
NATIONAL FEDERATION SEEMS ASSURED.
Eighteen religious bodies, including all of the principal ones, have now responded favorably to the proposition of the National Federation of Churches and Christian Workers to come together in a representative way and effect organization through which they may, on all great problems, speak as one body. Acceptances have behind them a constituency of nearly eighteen millions of communicants. Thus it may be said that Protestant America is getting ready to act.
The National Federation, which led in suggesting the scheme, has to some extent turned the working out of the details over to representatives of these bodies, who have set to work on their own account. The aim is not union of the bodies. Neither is it one designed to interfere with forms of government, much less to frame a doctrinal standard. It is, instead, unity on all moral questions, such as laws governing divorce and remarriage, Sabbath observance, temperance, and the scores of other matters with which form of denominational government and creed have nothing to do.
It is purposed to have the supreme judicatories of all the religious bodies joining in the movement appoint a commission or delegates, to represent them in the organization, if one be effected, and authorized to speak for them, to the end that the Church may be heard in no uncertain way. The meeting to effect this organization is to be held in Carnegie Hall, New York, next fall, and its sessions are to extend over six days, with various auxiliary meetings in the same period. A committee is now at work on the programme.-- Boston Transcript.
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OUR "PASSOVER" MEMORIAL.
EVERY year this celebration of our Redeemer's death seems more full of meaning and more impressive. The very fact that the date changes, and must be reckoned after the Jewish method of calculation, adds to the impressiveness, and brings afresh to our minds the various details of the Passover type and their fulfilment in the death of the Lamb of God--"Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us."-- `1 Cor. 5:7`.
The severe bondage of Israel under Pharaoh, the god or ruler of Egypt, calls to mind the bondage of corruption under which "the whole creation groans," being burdened under the reign of Sin and Death; and Pharaoh fitly typified Satan, "the god of this world." In the deliverance of all Israel under the leadership of Moses we see the deliverance, the liberation, of all who reverence God and his Laws under the leadership of the greater than Moses,--Christ, head and body, during the Millennium. In the overthrow of Pharaoh and his hosts we see the type of the destruction, in the Second Death, of Satan and all who follow his course. These anti-typical blessings are all the pictured results of the anti-typical Passover, of which Christ is the central figure.
THE LAMB SLAIN.
The Scripture which refers to our Lord as the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world indicates to us that all the details of this Passover were clearly in the mind and plan of God, not only since the Fall of Adam under the death sentence, but from long before Adam's creation. It thus assures us that although the Justice of God only was manifested for centuries, although divine Love was not "manifested" until the first advent of Jesus, nevertheless Love was in God's heart toward his creatures,--from the beginning.
As the Passover deliverance represented the Millennial blessing, so the Passover night represented this Gospel Age, in which all who trust in God wait for his salvation;--in which the entire "household of faith" feeds on the unleavened bread of Truth, mingled with the bitter herbs of trial and testing, waiting for the Morning; --in which the Church "of the first-born," under the protection of "the blood of the Lamb," is passed over from condemnation to justification, from death to life. Ah! there it is! For that reason we keep a continual feast of rejoicing in the Lord, feeding on our Lamb and unleavened bread and herbs. For this reason, also, we keep the annual Memorial of all this, "for even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast."--`1 Cor. 5:7`.
It was this that our Master enjoined upon all his disciples, saying, "As often as ye do this, [as, year by year, ye shall frequently, before my second coming, do this] do it in remembrance of me;--and no longer in remembrance of the typical lamb and the typical passing over of the typical first-born of typical Israel.
For centuries the Adversary blinded the Lord's people to this simple custom of the early Church, persuading them first of all that the Romish Mass was the same thing, and later that the quarterly, monthly and weekly celebrations of Protestants would do as well. How much we were losing under those delusions
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we never knew until graciously brought to see the truth respecting "Christ our Passover, sacrificed for us," on whose account we, "first born," celebrate.
We will no longer be defrauded of the blessing our Lord designed for us. We will "keep the feast." And so surely as the consecrated believers of this age are the "Church of the first-born," so surely will there be a deliverance later of all of the household under the lead of the first-born (Christ), even as the type showed. And that the after-born delivered by Moses will ultimately consist only of the obedient the Apostle clearly shows.-- `Acts 3:23`.
"IN THE SAME NIGHT."
How much more impressive and inspiring it is to celebrate an important matter on its anniversary;--to recall the deeds and words and looks, and place ourselves with the chief actors of that greatest of all dramas which over eighteen centuries ago ended at Calvary. It even strengthens our general faith in divine providence to note that the very day, the very hour, as well as the very year of this tragedy God had predetermined, so that although previously the Jews sought to take him to put him to death, no man laid hands on him, because
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"his hour was not yet come." The precise time of this great event had not only been typified for centuries with careful precision as to the very day, but our Lord with equal exactness declared "Mine hour is come," and when instituting the bread and wine Memorial of his own death as the antitypical lamb he waited, "and when the hour was come he sat down" with his disciples to eat the Passover Supper, saying, "With desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." --`Luke 22:15`.
"LET US KEEP THE FEAST."
With equal carefulness to that shown by our Lord and his apostles, let us keep the feast, the Memorial of his death, as he directed--not at any time, morning, noon or night, but only as a Supper--not any day, but only on its anniversary--if we would "do this," rather than commemorate something else, on some other date.
This year, Monday, April 17th, will correspond to the day on which our Lord was crucified, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. when he died, crying, "It is finished." He was laid in Joseph's new tomb before 6 p.m., and the next day (beginning at that hour) was the first day of the Feast of Passover celebrated by the Jews, corresponding this year to Tuesday, April 18th. We celebrate nothing in common with our Hebrew friends, but refer to their date by way of making clear the date on which we locate our Lord's death and its Memorial Supper of the preceding evening.
Our Lord instituted the Memorial Supper, which he requested his followers to celebrate, after six o'clock on the evening before he was crucified, "in the same night in which he was betrayed." This, however, as we have previously shown, was on the 14th of Nisan, the very same day on which he died--God having provided the Jews a custom for counting their days from 6 p.m. to 6 p.m., from sundown to sundown.
WASHING ONE ANOTHER'S FEET.
Jesus and his disciples, being Jews, were obligated to keep the Jewish Passover Supper, and ate together a literal lamb, with herbs and unleavened bread, and wine; but we are no longer interested in those typical matters, which have forever passed away by being fulfilled in Christ. It was after the Jewish Passover Supper that our Lord instituted the new, the Memorial Supper, commemorative of his own sacrifice for the first-borns, and of their joint-sacrifice with him, as we shall show.
Whether the washing of his disciples' feet by our Lord was after the Passover Supper and before the Memorial Supper or after the latter, we can not be too positive, but apparently it was the latter (`Matt. 26:26`); and was intended as an example in humility and a lesson to the apostles who seem still to have had a spirit of rivalry for preeminence. In any event the feet washing was not a part of the Memorial, nor do we understand it to have been enjoined as a custom amongst our Lord's disciples, though we have no quarrel with those who think differently and choose to wash each other's feet literally. To our understanding, the lesson was that our Lord's followers were not to shun any service, however menial, that would enable them to assist or comfort one another. Performing this service to-day is usually far from a convenience to those who practice it, whereas other comforting services are often neglected.
"THIS IS MY BODY."
Apparently it was just when the regular Jewish Passover Supper was ended that our Lord took some of the left-over unleavened bread, blessed it, broke it into pieces, and gave them to his disciples saying, "Take, eat; this is my body given for you; this do in remembrance of me."--`Matt. 26:26`; `Mark 14:22`; `Luke 22:19`.
These words "This is my body" have caused endless disputes for centuries amongst the Lord's people, the basis for the dispute being the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass, which claims that under the priest's blessing the bread is changed into the actual flesh of Jesus, which the priest then adores and proceeds to bread (a fresh sacrifice) for the sins of those for whom the Mass is said. To have this procedure resemble that of our Lord, great stress is laid on the words, "This is my body," thereby to prove the body in the bread and the possibility of its sacrifice. But the whole matter is very quickly settled when we remember that our Lord had not yet died when he said these words. Hence he must have meant, "This bread represents my body," for any other interpretation or meaning would have been untrue,--for he was still flesh, his change not having yet come in any sense.
Taking our Lord's words in their simple obvious sense, how beautiful is their lesson. Unleavened (pure) bread henceforth would at this Memorial represent our Lord, the bread from heaven, of which we may eat and have everlasting life. The next thought is that this heaven-supplied "bread" must be "broken" in order to be appropriated. And so we see that it was necessary not only for our Lord to come from heaven as the "bread;" but necessary also that he be broken in death --sacrificed for our sins--ere we could appropriate his merit and enjoy everlasting life.
"THE BLOOD OF THE NEW COVENANT."
The "fruit of the vine" was next introduced as a part of this Memorial of our Lord's loving sacrifice. He explained that it represented his blood--"The blood of the New Covenant, shed for many for the remission of sins." (`Matt. 26:28`.) What a reminder this is of the ransom-price necessary and paid on behalf of the sins of the world. The broken bread taught a part of the lesson, the "cup" taught the remainder of it. We not only need nourishment, strength, assistance to come back to God and his favor, but we need the precious blood--the life of our Lord as our redemption price to release us from the condemnation of Justice.
The Lord's disciples must, by faith partake of (appropriate) both the "bread" and the "cup," or they cannot be one with him. More than this: the Apostle shows that there is another subsequent view of this Memorial. We who thus eat and drink--who thus partake of our
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Savior's merits--are reckoned in with him as his "members," as his "body," being broken; and our lives sacrificed in his service under his direction are counted as a part of his sacrifice. The Apostle's words are: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion [common-union] of the blood of Christ? The loaf which we break, is it not the common-union of the body of Christ? For we being many are one loaf, and one body, because we are all partakers of that one loaf [Christ]."-- `1 Cor. 10:16,17`.
Ah, yes! How deep are the Lord's lessons! and the deeper we look the more beauty we see, the eyes of our understanding opening more and more as we appreciate and heartily obey. "Let us keep the feast" in both senses, then: (1) Appropriating and feasting on the great work done for us by our Redeemer and the riches of grace granted us through him; and (2) Appreciating our privilege of joint-sacrifice with our Redeemer--laying down our lives in his service, for the brethren, etc., and thus "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ."--`Col. 1:24`.
Left behind, not because our Lord could not suffer enough for all, nor because his sufferings were not sufficient for all, but because he wished to have us with him to share his nature and his glory, and only by suffering with him and as his members could we be allowed to share his glory, honor and immortality.
"SHOW FORTH THE LORD'S DEATH."
We exhort all the Lord's brethren everywhere to join us in observing the Lord's Memorial on its proper anniversary, as above stated. Gather with as many as profess faith and consecration--urge not others. Let us meet in twos and threes and larger groups as opportunity permits. Take a day or two off if necessary to assemble with brethren nearest you. Do not let monetary considerations decide everything. One spiritual feast with the Lord and those who celebrate his Memorial in sincerity is worth more to us than several meals of natural food. Man shall not live by earthly bread alone, but specially by the bread from heaven.
Even the solitary ones who cannot possibly meet with even one more should celebrate. "Soda biscuits" are unleavened bread and will do very well--though if you live near a Hebrew family they will be pleased to sell you an unleavened loaf (cracker) for a cent or two. As for "fruit of the vine:" it is advisable to put away a bottle of grape juice every summer; but if you have none you can stem raisins and use the juice, which will be "fruit of the vine" as truly as any other.
But do not let us allow preparations for the Memorial to so fill our thoughts that the real meaning of the emblems will be forgotten. On the contrary, let us give as much of the preceding and the succeeding days as
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possible to prayer, and to meditation on the stupendous events memorialized, and feed upon the Living Bread in our hearts with thankful joy.
We again recommend that after the season of communion, while partaking of the symbolic bread and cup, the meetings all close as did the one our Lord conducted as an example. "They sang a hymn and went out." Let us do the same. Omitting our usual greetings, etc., let us keep our thoughts with the Lord in Gethsemane, at the High Priest's Court, before Pilate, before Herod, before Pilate again--beaten, condemned to death, carrying his cross, crucified--for our sins. These thoughts are sure to make us appreciate our Lord the more and to hate sin the more, and thus will help us to realize better "what manner of persons we ought to be in all holy conversation and godliness."
We would like to have a postal card from each little company thus celebrating, stating the number present and participating. Please appoint some one, for what is everybody's business is not attended to properly. But have the appointment made a week or more before, so that it will not disturb the proper closing of the meeting.
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TRUE SHEPHERD, TRUE SHEEP, TRUE FOLD.
--`JOHN 10:7-18`.--APRIL 2.--
Golden Text:--"The Good Shepherd
giveth his life for the sheep."
THE PARABLE of the Good Shepherd opens with the `first verse of John 10`, and really concludes with the incidents of our last lesson, which showed the Scribes and Pharisees angry with the blind man who had been healed at the Pool of Siloam, who had confessed Jesus, and as a result had been cast out of the Synagogue. This parable seems to be a continuation of our Lord's remarks anent that incident. From this standpoint it seems to have had special force as teaching that whatever the Scribes and Pharisees had previously done or attempted to do in the way of shepherding the sheep they were merely hirelings, seeking their own advantage, honor of men, influence, wealth, etc., and willing to sacrifice the sheep to serve these ends. This was illustrated in the treatment of the man whose eyes had been opened: his interests as a sheep were entirely sacrificed to their personal ambitions and fear of the loss of influence through the growing popularity of Jesus.
The lesson declares that the Lord is the "door" of the sheep--the door by which the true sheep entered the true fold. All who ever preceded Jesus, claiming to be the shepherds of the sheep, were deceivers, (thieves and robbers). The word here rendered thieves contains the thought of craftiness, embezzlement, while the word robbers contains the thought of open violence, free-booting. In combining these two words our Lord represents the foes of the flock, some of them being crafty, "wolves in sheep's clothing," and some of them open, bold, aggressive. The Adversary's attacks have always
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been along both lines, and the sheep still need to be on guard against both classes of deceivers, but chiefly against the deceitful foes who cloak their ambitious designs under the ministerial garb, affecting to be caretakers of the flock, while in reality their conduct shows that self interest controls them.
The late Mr. Ruskin in his book, "Sesame and Lilies," quotes from Milton's writings a characterization of these false spiritual shepherds, as follows:
"Blind mouths: that scarce themselves know how to hold
A sheep hook, or have learned aught else, the least
That to the faithful herdsman's art belongs!
* * *
"The hungry sheep look up and are not fed,
But, swollen with the wind and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread;
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace and nothing said."
Ruskin's comment is, "These two mono-syllables ['blind mouths'] express the precisely accurate contraries of right character in the two great offices of the Church --those of Bishop and Pastor. A Bishop means a person who sees. A Pastor means one who feeds. The most unbishoply character a man can have is, therefore, to be blind. The most unpastorly is, instead of feeding, to want to be fed--to be a mouth."
"I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD."
The pretended Shepherd, self-seeking, is called a thief because he not only steals or misappropriates the title of Shepherd or Pastor, but in his self-seeking greed is willing to risk the destruction of the spiritual life of the sheep that the sectarian lines may be kept up, that his own personal interests may be served. We see this illustrated to-day. How many of the Protestant Shepherds of the Lord's flock in all denominations seem willing to misrepresent the harvest message, and everybody and everything connected therewith, that thereby they may preserve their hold upon the sheep, maintain their standing and influence in the denomination, and withal get goodly clippings of the golden fleece of the flock.
The Good Shepherd is the reverse of all this--his entire thought is for the sheep, their welfare. Our Lord himself was the true Shepherd, and he demonstrated his devotion to his office by the sacrifice of everything, even life itself, on behalf of the sheep. The Lord would have his true sheep to recognize the distinction between the true and the false shepherds, and he would have his sheep of to-day similarly recognize his appointees, representatives, in the flock by the same signs. Those elders in the Church to-day who manifest the blind-mouth disposition should be avoided, should not be encouraged, should be reproved; while those whose loyalty to the Lord and the flock is continually manifested should be recognized, and, because of their likeness to the true Shepherd, they should be loved "for their works' sake" as well as for their intellectual worth. The self-sacrificing spirit, blended with humility, should be recognized by all of the sheep as the spirit of the true Shepherd, and from such alone should be expected the leading which the Good Shepherd promised to the flock throughout this Gospel age.
Our Lord defended the interests of the sheep against the false spirits and the wolves of his day, and it cost him his life. And so the faithful followers of the Lord throughout this Gospel age have been obliged either to fight with the wolves in the sheep's clothing, and thus incur their hatred, malice and opposition, in synods, presbyteries, counsels, etc., or else ignominiously flee before them by silence and allowing the sheep to be starved and misled. Our Lord could have taken this course: he could have refrained from antagonizing the Scribes and Pharisees and chief priests: he could have said, "Why should I expose myself to opprobrium and persecution and all manner of reproach and death by opposing these blind leaders of the blind?" For him to have done so would have been for him to have fled responsibility and duty. His love for the sheep would not permit this, and his faithfulness demonstrated him the true Shepherd of the flock. In this he made it plain that he was not a "hireling," not merely serving for the sake of the golden fleece, but out of a true heart with true love for the sheep.
The true Shepherd thus commends himself to all who are truly sheep, and such admire this spirit of their Master wherever they find it. That is to say, whoever are the true sheep will love and appreciate such a spirit and none other, and will thus differentiate themselves from those who are merely the followers of men, partisans, sectarians. The Lord knoweth them that are his, and they know him. The Lord appreciates those who thus recognize principle, and that class recognize, know, the Lord more and more intimately day by day, and find their love and devotion to him continually increasing. Our Lord's words on this matter are more clearly presented in the revised version, namely, "I know mine own and mine own know me, even as the Father knoweth me and I know the Father." This intimacy of acquaintance, this fellowship divine, is something which cannot be explained to others, but which is certainly appreciated by all the true sheep who know the true Shepherd, and who have been, under his guiding care, led to the green pastures and still waters and also into the fold for safety.
OTHER SHEEP OF ANOTHER FLOCK.
When the Lord said, "Other sheep I have which
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are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock and one Shepherd," he was voicing the same truth which was afterward, under the guidance of the holy Spirit, elaborated by the Apostle Paul, saying that the heavenly Father hath purposed himself that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ--the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth.--`Eph. 1:10`.
The flock which the Lord was gathering to himself at the time of this parable was not natural Israel, but spiritual Israel. Natural Israel had existed under Moses and the Law for centuries, but the Law made nothing perfect and could not give them the liberty and blessing requisite to their attaining everlasting life. They were "shut up" under the Law Covenant, as the Apostle Paul expressed it. Various pretenders came claiming that they were proper shepherds of the sheep and able to lead them to the necessary nutriment, the green pastures and the still waters of truth, but they were all
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unfaithful, thieves and robbers, who sought their personal honor and social advantage at the expense of the sheep. Our Lord became the "door" (`vs. 7,9`) of the sheepfold; those who accepted him were the true flock, he knew them and they knew him, and heard his voice and followed him. They were a small flock indeed compared with the large nominal Jewish system, the majority of whom followed the false teachers because they did not have the true spirit of the sheep.
All "Israelites indeed" heard and recognized the voice of the true Shepherd and became his followers. Our Lord as the "Door" gave these true sheep that access to the blessings and mercies of this Gospel age in the fullest sense which began at Pentecost and will not be finished until all the true sheep shall have heard the Shepherd's voice and shall have entered into his rest and have been fed and refreshed by following him. Jesus as the "Door" represents all the privileges and blessings of the true sheep. By him we enter into rest in the fold or resting place provided for the true sheep --the rest of faith. By him also we may go out to enjoy the liberties and refreshment to which as our Shepherd he leads his flock. We go in and out continually, enjoying the liberties and privileges secured to us by our Shepherd. We thus enjoy "the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free."--`Gal. 5:1`.
This rest and liberty we obtain, first, through our justification by our Lord's sacrifice of himself; and, secondly, through our consecration as his sheep and our adoption through the holy Spirit, which brings us under his care and feeding.
"FELLOW-HEIRS OF THE SAME PROMISE."
We who are not Jews by nature, but Gentiles, when we come into Christ are members of this same flock. This the Apostle distinctly states, declaring that God hath broken down the middle wall of partition to make of the twain one; wherefore we are no longer aliens, strangers, foreigners, but are brought nigh, and are permitted to enjoy all the privileges and blessings accorded to any by the great Shepherd. We were not the Lord's sheep in any sense of the word before, but foreigners, strangers, aliens. Hence the view that some have taken that we who are of the Gentiles or "other sheep" mentioned are now being brought into the one fold is not correct. We were not the Lord's sheep at all at the time of this parable.
The Apostle in `Romans 11` pictures our relationship to natural Israel. He represents the Jewish people as the olive tree, the outgrowth of the fat root of the Abrahamic promise, the Oath-Bound Covenant, and shows that the branches or people of that nation were broken off from the relationship of the root of promise except the few who properly received the Lord Jesus. He then points out that the Gentiles are being engrafted instead of these broken off branches. Thus the Jewish flock as it previously existed was not accepted of the Lord but merely those who heard the good Shepherd's voice, and with these we, who are Gentiles, are made fellow-heirs, members of the one body, the one flock. This same thought is held before us in `Revelation 7` where our Lord pictures the entire elect Church as 144,000, 12,000 from each tribe. God's election was made in respect to the twelve tribes of Israel; and, when many of all these tribes were found unworthy of the highest honor and rejected, the elect number in each tribe was filled up from believing Gentiles. We may not know to which of these tribes we have been accredited, even as we do not know which crown has been apportioned to us; but we do know that all of the elect of God, the overcomers, are thus reckoned of him as Israelites indeed in whom is no guile, and these shall be heirs with the Lord in the Kingdom.
Evidently these "other sheep" mentioned in this parable are those who will become the Lord's sheep after the present "little flock" shall have been completed. The entire Millennial age will be required for the finding of the Lord's true sheep amongst the world of mankind, including those Israelites who, because blinded by sin and error, were unworthy to be sheep of the present flock and were turned aside and blinded, but whose blindness shall be put away in the Lord's due time.
The Lord refers to this other flock of sheep, and explicitly tells us about the gathering of those sheep to his favor under him as the great Shepherd. He definitely fixes the time, and shows that the parable of the sheep and goats belongs not to the present age but to the Millennial age by the declaration with which it opens, namely, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them from one another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats."--`Matt. 25:31,32`.
It will require all of that Millennial day, that thousand years, to demonstrate who amongst the world of mankind desire to be the Lord's sheep, to hear the voice of the good Shepherd and follow him in the paths of
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righteousness and truth and to the attainment ultimately of life everlasting. Others who will not hear him shall be cut off from amongst the people--destroyed in the Second Death. (`Acts 3:23`.) These are the goat class of the parable, whose destruction is pictured elsewhere in the lake of fire and brimstone, which is explained to mean, the "Second Death."--`Rev. 20:14`.
At the close of the Millennial age all of the sheep of that age will be received into full favor with the Lord, and will be brethren to all who are the Lord's on any plane of existence. They will be brethren to the Church which is now being selected, the "elect," who will sit with the Lord in his throne during the Millennial age and be associated in the work of judging both the sheep and the goats (`1 Cor. 6:2`), and they will be brethren also of all the angelic hosts. When all things in heaven and in earth are brought fully into subjection to our great Shepherd, in that sense of the word all will be his sheep on whatever plane of existence they may be--the "Church" partakers of the divine nature, the angelic hosts, restored and perfected men.
"THEREFORE DOTH MY FATHER LOVE ME, BECAUSE I LAY
DOWN MY LIFE THAT I MAY
RECEIVE IT AGAIN."
The special love of the Father for the Son above all others is here referred to. The basis of that special love was the Son's complete trust in the Father and thorough harmony with and obedience to the divine will. We can see at a glance how such a noble, faithful character would be appreciated by the Father. Our Lord had always been obedient to the Father, but he learned the meaning of obedience, he learned to appreciate how much obedience might cost by the things which he suffered--his self-denial, humiliation, death. No wonder all noble hearts love this noble Shepherd, and what wonder that we who are his sheep, and who realize so great a blessing and advantage through his sacrifice for us, should love him in return.
No wonder, as the Apostle says, that we find such a love constraining our hearts to a responsive love. The Apostle exhorts us that we should have this same mind that was in Christ Jesus--not only the elders of the Church, who as under-shepherds, pastors, seek to safeguard the interests of the flock in every way, but all of the Church, seeking and attaining more and more of a likeness to the great Shepherd--have more and more of his spirit. The Apostle urges such, saying, "We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren." This spirit should be manifested in all of the Lord's sheep, and should be considered as a prerequisite to recognition as one of the under shepherds.
Our Lord's commission was not merely to lay down his life, but also to receive it again. Evidently he had the promise of the Father of a resurrection from the dead. He intimates this in his prayer, "Father glorify thou me with the glory I had with thee before the world was." Doubtless the Master had been promised some still higher glory and honor, but he waived all reward and was content that he should please the Father and accomplish his purposes for mankind. The Father was not content to merely restore him to his previous high position of the past, but made him a partaker of the divine nature in the fullest and most absolute sense. The same promise, through our Lord, is open to us if we are faithful--"if we suffer with him we shall also reign with him," sharing his "glory, honor and immortality" --the divine nature.--`2 Pet. 1:4`.
Our Lord wished it to be understood that his life, which would shortly be given was voluntarily submitted on his part. It was necessary that his disciples should know this, not merely that they might esteem their Lord more highly, but especially that they might realize him as the Redeemer whose voluntary sacrifice for our sins redeemed Father Adam and his entire race. To have confidence in the result they must have confidence in his resurrection--that the Father had so pleased and had given his sanction or authority or power to this end. Our Lord acknowledged that all the authority, all the power in connection with his resuscitation was of the Father. He was trusting implicitly to the Father, and so doing was able to lay down even life itself on behalf of the flock. The same will be true of all who would walk in his steps. In order to be faithful in the laying down of our lives, we must have faith in the Father and in the great plan of salvation which hinges upon the sacrifice of our Lord. With this matter clearly before our minds we may have grace and strength for every time of need.
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"LAZARUS, COME FORTH."
--`JOHN 11:32-45`.--APRIL 9.--
Golden Text:--"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life."--`John 11:25`.
IT has been supposed by some that the rich young ruler who came to Jesus for advice and subsequently went away very sorrowful was his friend Lazarus, who, with his sisters Martha and Mary, resided at Bethany, near Jerusalem, and at whose home our Lord was frequently entertained--a welcome guest. Lazarus was taken sick suddenly, probably with one of the fevers common to that part of the country, similar to the one from which our Lord recovered Peter's wife's mother. The illness developed very rapidly, and about the time the messenger from Bethany reached the Lord beyond Jordan, a distance of only about thirty miles, Lazarus had died. Even then our Lord made no haste to reach Bethany, but on the contrary tarried two days. According to his own statement, this matter of Lazarus' death was a part of the divine program, as was also his subsequent awakening from the tomb.
The message sent to Jesus was, "He whom thou lovest is sick." It was not a prayer that he should come to his relief nor that he would exercise power for his recovery; it was merely a statement of the facts, submitting the whole matter to the Lord. This message alone
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tells us of a deep work of grace in the hearts of the family of Bethany--that their intercourse with the Lord had been profitable, that they had learned of him. We commend the words of their message to all spiritual Israelites as the proper form for bringing before the Lord's attention our various burdens and troubles. We are not wise enough to direct the Lord as to what should be done in respect to our affairs. If we have committed our all to him, a proper faith bids us trust him, bids us rely upon the divine wisdom and love and power, which promises to make all things work together for good to us--better than we could ask for. It was quite sufficient to say,
"He whom thou lovest is sick."
Let the Lord do as seems best to him. And so it is quite sufficient in respect to our dear ones who are sick, to comfort our hearts by going to the Lord in prayer and making mention of the facts, although we are sure that he knows them. Our burdens should be left at the Lord's feet and our faith should firmly trust him, come what may, and accept the results as of divine providence-- meantime, of course, doing all that we know how to do reasonably and properly in the aid of the ailing ones or to rectify the troubles, just as we may be sure that the sorrowing sisters, while sending this message to the Lord, neglected not to do everything in their power for the relief of their brother from his illness, for the assuaging of his pain.
It speaks volumes for the character of Lazarus as a man that he had the love of the Lord Jesus. We remember that in the record concerning the rich young ruler it is written that after he had related to the Lord that he had at least outwardly kept all the commandments from his youth, Jesus beholding him, loved him-- even though he was not in the condition of heart to make a full consecration and thus to become a true disciple. So we are bound to love all in whom we see the beauties of a noble character, whether they be of the consecrated ones or not--but our love and esteem for them of course increases as we see them recognizing their "reasonable service" and presenting their bodies living sacrifices to him who redeemed us.
Let us all more and more cultivate such elements of character as will make us lovely and lovable in the estimation not only of the brotherhood, who overlook our imperfections and cover them with the robe of Christ's righteousness, but also in the estimation of the world, that they may behold our good characters and glorify our Father in heaven on our behalf. It has been inferred that later on Lazarus did become a fully consecrated follower of the Lord.
"OUR FRIEND LAZARUS SLEEPETH."
Although the messenger brought word that Lazarus was sick, our Lord reported the matter to his disciples according to the facts of the case, for Lazarus had already died. He said, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth." The disciples did not at first catch the import of these words, and thought that he referred to the taking of rest in sleep; and then, coming down to their comprehension, Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead." Here we have the two standpoints of viewing death: actually, "plainly," death is the complete cessation or discontinuance of life, of being, and this discontinuance would have been eternal death, eternal non-existence for the whole human family, had it not been for the divine favor which provided the ransom-price for Adam, and incidentally for all of his race, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In view of this purpose on God's part to ultimately call forth the dead from the tomb, he uniformly mentions the subject of death to his people as a sleep--a cessation of consciousness, which, however, would not be eternal but from which they would recover consciousness and being in the glorious resurrection morning which the Father had purposed in himself from the beginning. As many as exercised full faith and confidence in the resuscitation promised, spoke from the Lord's standpoint, and hence throughout the Scriptures we find death repeatedly mentioned as a sleep--Abraham slept with his fathers, so did all the prophets and kings of Israel, that nation having much advantage every way over other nations in that the Lord had revealed to them through the covenant promises and prophecies that, although weeping endure for a night, joy cometh in the morning.
Tarrying two days, in order that the miracle might be more pronounced, our Lord and the apostles spent portions of two more days in reaching Bethany. Martha learning of his coming, went down the road to meet him in advance. While greeting him, the burden of her salutation indicated a measure of disappointment. She was still sorrowing for the loss of her brother, and her heart was pained additionally with the thought that the Lord might have prevented this calamity, yet had not done so. She said, "Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother would not have died." How apt we all are, while laboring under the weight of sorrow, disappointment and trial, to look to the Lord and wonder why his omnipotent power does not intervene on our behalf to save us from some of the ordinary experiences common to the world,--feeling that because we are his special friends we should have had special consideration.
"BE NOT FAITHLESS, BUT BELIEVE."
Let us learn a lesson on this point from the experience of Martha and Mary. Let us learn to trust the Lord even where we cannot trace his providences in all of our affairs. Let us remember the love divine which already has done so much for us, redeeming us and inducting us into the divine favor, and providing for us exceeding great and precious promises respecting the things unseen as yet. "Only believe," was the keynote of our Lord's reply to Martha. And so to each of us in the many experiences which affect our interests, we must learn the lesson of faith, confidence in the Lord's wisdom, love and power. The lesson eventually learned by Martha and Mary more than compensated them for all their tribulation, and so it will be with us if we will allow our faith to firmly trust him. In the end we shall be stronger in our faith, closer to the Lord, and full of appreciation of his favors.
In answer to Martha's expression of confidence in
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our Lord's power to have preserved her brother from the tomb, our Lord suggested the great consolation he had to offer, not only to the sorrowing sisters, but to the whole world of mankind, namely, that the divine power within him was not only such as could keep the sick from dying and heal them, but a power of resurrection --a power to bring forth from the tomb and, more than that, a power to raise up out of all the imperfections of the fallen condition, up, up, up, to the original perfection, the fullness of life enjoyed before the curse of death came upon our race.
All this is in the words, "I am the resurrection and the life," the Golden Text of our lesson. These are the great lessons for all of the Lord's people to learn: (1) That death is a just penalty because of imperfection, (2) that God has had mercy upon us as a race, and has provided a ransom; (3) that the Ransomer is the divinely appointed and commissioned and empowered one who, by and by, shall, in God's due time, bid all in the tomb come forth, and he will, then, additionally grant an opportunity to all to escape entirely from all the weaknesses and blemishes of the fall, and eventually, if they will obey him, secure the perfection of life which he purposed for all at the sacrifice of his own life.
As faith is able to recognize Jesus as the Redeemer whose sacrifice is sufficient for the satisfaction of Justice --as faith discerns that this ransom-sacrifice was made to the intent that the blessing of the Lord might reach every individual of our race,--as faith is able to look forward to the second coming of this Redeemer as the Life-Giver to his people, in that proportion faith is able to rejoice and to permit even in the presence of sorrow, sighing, tears and dying, the looking forward beyond the tomb to the glorious morning of the resurrection. In proportion as faith can lay hold of the precious promises of God's Word, it is able under the most trying conditions to sorrow, not as others who have no hope, but it is able to believe that as Jesus died and rose again as our dear Redeemer, so also all who sleep in Jesus, the world of mankind, will God bring from the dead through or by him.--`1 Thess. 4:14`.
It has been assumed that there was a special heart-fellowship between our Lord and Mary, and it is in full harmony with this thought that we find the latter remaining at home until she received the message that the Lord had inquired for her. Our lesson opens with her response: she came to the Lord and fell at his feet, her
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burdened heart giving utterance to the same expression that Martha had used, "Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother would not have died." If the words contained a measure of chiding or suggestion of wounded hopes, it was a very delicate one.
MARY, WHO "CHOSE THAT GOOD PART."
Our Lord gave no suggestions of the kind usually offered in consolation to the mourner in our day. He said not, Thy brother is much better off than he was before; he is in heaven amongst the holy angels, etc. Nothing of the kind. Why? Because this would not have been the truth, and our Lord's message must be strictly true, and if error had even comforted more than truth he dare not tell the untruth. And so it is with all who are his followers--they must tell the good tidings of Jesus and the resurrection, and must do nothing to corroborate the false theories that have been received from heathendom to the effect that the dead are not dead, that they are not asleep--to the effect that at the moment of dying they are more awake, more alive and more intelligent than ever they were before. No! Those who are of the Truth must speak the truth and nothing else; they must tell plainly, "There is no work, nor knowledge, nor device, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest." (`Eccl. 9:10`.) They must point as the only hope of a future life to Jesus, the Redeemer, and to the resurrection power by which he will ultimately deliver from the tomb all whose ransom price he paid in the sacrifice of himself.
FULL OF SYMPATHY, "JESUS WEPT."
Travelers in the East relate that the mourning practices for the dead are most distressing:
"At the very moment of death, a wild, piercing shriek, high and prolonged, a quavering wail announced the fact. This cry is taken up and repeated by the friends of the family near and afar. Every sympathizing woman friend hastens to share the mourning, and announces her approach by the conventional shriek and then adds her voice to the shrieking chorus.
"Oriental wailings before the funeral include a calling of the dead by name: 'O, my father! O, my glory! O, my strength!' as David wailed over his son, 'O, my son Absolom! My son, my son, Absolom!' The mourning continues violently for three days, and then for four more feastings and wailings are the prominent characteristics."
While a certain amount of this emotion was of a perfunctory kind, but, nevertheless, had in it the element of sympathy for the bereaved, it illustrated in a most forceful manner what the Apostle expressed, saying, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together, waiting."
Such was the scene upon which our Lord entered on reaching the house of mourning on the fourth day. The grief of the sisters broke forth afresh in the Lord's presence as they thought of what might have been if the Lord had been there before their brother died. Likewise we are all more or less inclined to think of what might have been if something had been different--apt to forget that our Lord and Master has full charge of all of our affairs if we are truly, consecratedly his, and that no "if" of chance has to do with the little flock.
When Jesus looked upon the scene of sorrow, we may well suppose that it brought vividly before his mind the abject sorrow and despair of the groaning creation-- "Jesus wept." Indeed we may suppose that, being perfect, all the circumstances and conditions of fallen humanity would be much more weighty and impressive upon the Lord than upon those whose minds were less acute to the situation. We are glad of those words which constitute the shortest verse in all the Bible--"Jesus wept." They tell us as no elaboration could have told of the sympathies of our Master's heart; they tell us that
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we have an High-Priest who can be touched, who was touched, who is touched still with a feeling of our infirmities, a sympathetic feeling. How unlike all the great ones of this world, whose greatness so often is represented in their coldness, stoicism, and really represents their lovelessness, their lack of sympathy. The Lord presented to us in the Scriptures is the only great and sympathetic Immanuel known to the world--"To us he is precious."
It is worthy notice, however, that the Greek word translated wept, when referring to our Lord, is not the same word used in respect to the weeping of the sorrowing sisters and the Jewish friends. Theirs was the weeping of wailing or emotion, our Lord's was the silent tear of sympathy. The friends of the sisters, who were not yet believers in Jesus' Messiahship, took note of his tears and commented, "Behold how he loved him," and these queried why he had not in some manner interfered to save him from dying.
The tear of sympathy is not to be understood as a sign of weakness. Our Master's tears proved this, and additionally we have his exhortation that we should be moved with a sympathy for others in their sorrows as well as in their joys. He himself has bidden us weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. The cold, stoical hearts which neither weep nor rejoice are not after the fashion of our great Pattern. Let us be more and more like to him and permit our sympathies to have some reasonable measure of expression. Nevertheless let us remember that great wailing and weeping are not appropriate to us, for, as the Apostle says, "We sorrow not as others who have no hope;" our blessed hope, confidence and trust moderate our expressions of both earthly sorrows and joys as well.
"TAKE YE AWAY THE STONE."
The tomb of Lazarus we are told, was a cave, the doorway of which was closed by a large stone which our Lord directed should be removed. In answer to his call Lazarus came forth, still wrapped in the grave clothes or the winding sheet customary at that time. He was in a measure bound, although loosely--what we would call swathed. Our Lord directed that assistance be rendered for the setting of him free. This stupendous miracle, which testified to our Lord Jesus as the special messenger and representative of the heavenly Father and authorized to use divine power, was not one whit abated but rather intensified by the fact that he permitted those about him to do as much as was in their power in connection with the miracle--first the rolling away of the stone and subsequently the loosing of the winding sheet. Undoubtedly the same power that could restore the dead to life could much more easily roll away the stone and could subsequently have loosed the clothing.
One lesson to us in the matter is that we should not call upon nor expect divine interposition in matters which we are competent to control. It is ours to do whatever is in our power for our reasonable protection from sickness and poverty and accident. It is ours also to do everything in our power toward recovery from any of these, but it is also for us to look to and to trust the Lord in connection with all of our experiences, and to realize that he is able to make all things work together for our welfare; that with him our extremity becomes the Lord's opportunity, as his people have often proven by experience. Furthermore, true faith is inculcated and developed along these lines--a faith that is not merely credulity.
"IN ALL THY WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM."
Before performing the miracle our Lord lifted his eyes to heaven in acknowledgment of the Father's power and that he was acting as the Father's agent and representative. What a manifestation we have in this of true humility. It was so in all of our Lord's utterances; he freely acknowledged that he had come to do the Father's will and not his own; that the Father was above all, and that what he did in the way of wonderful works was but the Father's power. His prayer was in the nature of a conversation as between a Son and his Father, "I know that thou hearest me always; but for the sake of them which stand by, I said it."
From this we may assume that it would have been entirely consistent on our Lord's part to have proceeded to speak as the Father's representative without offering prayer, but that he offered his petition in acknowledgment of the Father's power for the sake of the hearers that they might know that he did nothing of himself, that he claimed nothing of himself. We, his disciples, have in this a beautiful example of what should be our course on every occasion. In all our ways we should acknowledge the Lord--not only whether we eat or drink or whatsoever we do, to do it to the Lord's glory, and in a manner pleasing to him, but we should be careful to glorify him, to let it be known that we claim nothing of ourselves either as to wisdom or ability in the expounding of the divine plan. Our conduct should be simple, unassuming, devoid of boastfulness, in everything manifesting humility of heart and simplicity.
"Rather be nothing, nothing--
To him let their voices be raised;
He is the fountain of blessing,
Yes, worthy is he to be praised."
As might have been expected, this wonderful miracle, the revival of a man dead more than three days, created no little stir. No wonder that we read that many of the Jews seeing these things believed. It would be wonderful indeed that they could disbelieve under such conditions. We remember, too, that subsequently the Jews sought the more to take the life of Jesus because of the fame of this miracle. Verily, the truth of God is either a savor of life unto life or of death unto death.
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All we know of divine power and goodness either affects us favorably or unfavorably, to draw us nearer to the Lord or to separate us the more from him if we are not at heart disposed for righteousness but are controlled by envious or wicked motives.
"ALL THAT ARE IN THEIR GRAVES SHALL COME FORTH."
Lazarus was not resurrected--he was merely awakened from the sleep of death--resurrection would signify the complete raising up out of sin and death conditions, to perfection and life conditions. The calling forth of Lazarus, therefore, is a good picture of what may be expected early in the Millennial reign, after the living nations shall have been to some extent enlightened and brought under the influence of the heavenly Kingdom. Then all that are in their graves, order by order, class by class, generation by generation, will come forth as Lazarus did to a measure of health and a measure of strength, but not to perfection of being. Their cases, however, will be different from his, in that his release from death was merely a temporary one: later on he died again. Those in the Millennial age, on the contrary, who will come forth under the new conditions of that Millennial Kingdom, need never die again, but instead, by hearing the voice of the Son of Man, by obeying the same, going onward step by step, they shall emerge gradually from all the weight of the curse, from all the weaknesses and imperfections of the present dying condition, to the full life and perfection and joy of the life-eternal condition, at the close of the Millennial age.
Theirs will be the resurrection by judgments, by disciplines, by corrections in righteousness--by their gradual attainment under the systems of rewards and punishments then in vogue--to all the glorious perfections of human nature, as our Lord declared, "Though dead, yet shall they live." This will include not only the dead in the tombs, but also the other dead who buried their dead--those who are now nine-tenths dead and under sentence of death, but who, contrasting themselves with those in the tomb, speak of themselves as alive. Then, whosoever living shall be obedient to the Lord at heart shall never die, but will be granted an entrance to the eternal conditions beyond the Millennial age, approved by the Father as true sheep.-- `Matt. 25:34`.
LAZARUS NOT IN HEAVEN.
It would be preposterous to suppose that Lazarus was in heaven for four days and that the Lord in mercy and compassion called him away from blessed scenes there. The tears of Jesus and his failure to offer any such explanation of death, no less than his awaking of his friend Lazarus as a mark of his sympathy and love, all forbid the thought that Lazarus had been in heaven. Besides this, we have the Lord's positive declaration that "no man has ascended up to heaven." (`John 3:13`.) Again the uniform testimony of Scripture is that death is death, and further our Lord's declaration is that when Lazarus was dead he was asleep. In his sleep of death the four days were but as a moment; his awaking thought was next to the one he had when he fell asleep in death.
"GREATER THINGS THAN THESE SHALL YE DO."
Stupendous as this miracle was, we ourselves see in some respects still greater miracles. Many of the Lord's people have seen in themselves and in each other great transformations spoken of in Scripture as passing from death unto life. At our recent New York Convention one person in attendance spoke to the Editor after the meeting about consecration, and remarked that for some years she had been an infidel, estranged from the Lord and his book by her acquaintance with some whose conduct in life caused her to lose all faith in Christianity. She explained that the remarkable conversion of her sister-in-law by the Truth had drawn her attention to it. She added, "I never saw so great a change in any human being in my life, nor did I suppose such a change possible. It led me to believe there was a power in Christianity, and I began to investigate the religious teachings set forth in MILLENNIAL DAWN which had so powerfully affected my sister-in-law. I am convinced of its truth, and am considering the subject of consecration, and trust that you will pray for me."
"So let our lives and tongues express
The glorious Gospel we profess;
So let thy glories in us shine,
That all may know that we are thine."
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READINGS FROM THE SWEDISH REVISED BIBLE.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Herewith I hand you some interesting readings from the Revised Swedish Bible. Yours, KIHLGREN.
`Isa. 21:12`. "The watchman answereth: Morning has come, and still it is night. If ye will ask more, [than the question in `verse 11`] ye may ask; come back again" [for more information?].
`Isa. 28:8-13`. "For all tables are full of nauseating vomits, not a clean spot is found. Who then [asks the class mentioned in `verse 7`?] is it he desires to learn understanding, and who can he make to give attention to his preaching?--Are we then recently weaned from the mother's milk, recently taken from the mother's breast? For it is nagging upon nagging, nagging upon nagging, prating upon prating, prating upon prating, a little here, a little there [as if this class should say: 'What does he take us for?--we are no babies either; it was not yesterday we discarded the old-fashioned theory of the fall and the redemption of man, etc.,--we are full-grown mature Higher Critics; and yet there are a few old fogies who never let us alone, but are nagging at us ceaselessly, giving out tracts, papers and books, which represent us before the public as deceivers,' etc.] Well, yes, through stammering lips and in a strange language shall he speak to this people, he who nevertheless has said unto them: 'Here is the place of rest, let the weary get rest; here is the place where refreshment is given,' but such they would not hear. And thus the Lord's Word shall be for them, 'nagging upon nagging, nagging upon nagging, prating upon prating, prating upon prating, a little here, a little there, so that they, as they walk on, fall backward and are crushed, become ensnared and captured." [Refusing to accept God's grand plan for salvation, which would give them rest, they are annoyed by those who are pointing out its beauty, which to them is merely prating, and the result is that they fall completely into the snares of the adversary].
The context seems to favor the thought brought out in this rendering, though differing from the English rendering.