ZWT - 1904 - R3294 thru R3460 / R3382 (177) - June 15, 1904
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VOL. XXV. JUNE 15, 1904. No. 12.
Views from the Watch Tower........................179
The Outcome of the War........................179
Church Must Do Some Fighting..................180
Rev. Dr. Burt on Romanism.....................180
Immortality in the Early Church...................182
Some Modern Views.............................183
The Los Angeles Convention........................184
Studies in the Old Testament......................186
Selfish Expediency Misled Them....................188
Interesting Questions Answered....................190
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
THE OUTCOME OF THE WAR.
VARIOUS are the speculations on the outcome of the present war in the far East. Russia's prime minister has surprised Europe by declaring that Russia will neither accept any mediations for peace, nor be willing at the close of the war, should it end in her favor, to allow other nations to have any say in regard to the terms of peace. The journals of the world generally agree that this is an early boast, and that when the end of the war comes, even if Russia win, she will be so weakened by the struggle as to be in poor condition to resist the will of the Great Powers, all of whom are deeply concerned in the future of China and Japan.
The Japanese, pardonably intoxicated by their success over one of the greatest nations of Europe, are speculating on what they will do when the war ends favorably to them, as they expect it will. Some of their leading papers counsel moderation, but others picture Japan as the head and leader of all Mongolia --of China, Korea, etc., some even thinking of Siberia as ultimately a part of Greater Japan.
Russia includes numerous subjected peoples-- Finns, Poles, etc., all of whom have been treated with great harshness, which they have been powerless to resist. The failure of Russian ships and armies in the present war emboldens these peoples to hope that some kind of relief for them may be part of the outcome of the war,--either through open rebellion or through the change of the general government of Russia from a despotism to a more liberal government in which they would have some share. We quote from one of their journals, as follows:--
"The roar of the bombs shattering the Russian vessels at Port Arthur must resound with a double echo in the heart of every Pole. It proclaims to us not only the defeat of our foe, the executioner of our fatherland, who for a century and a quarter has been torturing so many millions of our countrymen, but it announces something else. Out there in the Far East wedges are being driven into the granite, into the apparently indestructible might of Russia. There, amid the whizz of the balls and the groans of the dying, conditions are forming by means of which all upon whom Russia has laid her heavy hand may derive advantage. The name of these sufferers is legion. There is perhaps no corner of the Russian empire in which feelings of hatred have not thus accumulated, in which there does not seethe in the hearts of the people the desire for liberation, for the final removal of the cause of so much misery and of so many wrongs....Rendered especially audacious in recent times by her diplomatic successes, convinced that her external foes would not dare attack her and that her internal foes would be subdued the more easily the more severity she displayed in oppressing them, Russia discarded all restraints. She created one enemy after another. After the workingmen and the students came the turn of the peasants. Next the Jews learned the meaning of Russian rule. After the Jews, Russia laid her iron hand upon the proverbially loyal Finns. Finally came the turn of Armenia, which only recently was turning a yearning eye to Russia, the deliverer from Turkish chains. Of the Poles there is no need to speak. With the exception of the conciliationists, there is no one who does not long to cast off the hated yoke. Any action having that object in view would certainly meet with the approval of the Poles."
In any event the war means a wakening of the nations--a preparation for the general and awful anarchy which the Scriptures forewarn us will wind up the present Gospel age and be the forerunner of the Millennial age. During the next ten years many of the great nations will become similarly weakened.
Whatever price for Jewish liberty in Palestine might be acceptable to the Sultan of Turkey, its actual
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ruler, the matter would require the acquiescence of Great Britain and Russia, and Germany might like to be consulted. Negotiations between Dr. Herzl of the Zionists and the Sultan of Turkey were reported satisfactory some time ago, but nothing could be done without Russia's consent--Great Britain and Germany being understood to have been favorable all along.
Now, under date of May 26, press dispatches report that just as the Zionist Congress at Hamburg, Germany, was closing, the announcement was made by Dr. Klee that the Russian government had replied favorably to the request of the Zionists that it would use its influence with the Sultan of Turkey in favor of Jewish colonization of Palestine.
CHURCH MUST DO SOME FIGHTING.
At the City Ministers' Union meeting yesterday, Dr. Charles A. Eaton spoke on "The Relation between Churches and Men." He said in part:--
"Seven million young men in this country are alienated from the Christian churches, according to Dr. Cressey. To this number a vast army of older men must be added. I do not attribute this condition to the preacher; nor do I attribute it to the innate depravity of these 7,000,000 and more men.
"We can refer this alienation to a deeper cause. Biological science, for one thing, is at the root of the evil. We eliminate the supernatural revelation. We burrow ourselves in nature. Each man becomes his own god. The idealistic philosophy, as taught today, is that God and man are one. That's the plain English of Monism."
Following another detail of this line of thought, Dr. Eaton said: "I don't believe the world today could produce Jesus; I don't believe the United States could produce Jesus; I don't believe the city of Cleveland could produce Jesus; not even the Church--could it, Dr. Jackson?"
"We'd crucify him, probably, if he came among us," shouted Dr. Jackson.
"Yes," Dr. Eaton went on; "we'd find him the most inconvenient member of our Church, and the hardest to get along with. His doctrines would stagger us.
"We have failed to use our scientific heritage, but we are better off than we were ten years ago. We have had our scientific deluge. We have discovered that a man can have a thorough knowledge of science, and yet die of a broken heart. We have discovered that science is not infallible.
"We're beginning now to feel hungry for some meat and some milk, something that will sit well on the stomach. We have tried all the isms, all the new things, and now we are about ready to turn to the truth."--Cleveland Plain Dealer.
* * *
How strange such confessions sound to the well-nurtured children of God. While realizing that science, falsely so called, has done great harm--has destroyed the faith of many--Dr. Eaton is seemingly oblivious to the fact that his own faith is undermined. Otherwise how could he talk about our day being unable to produce a man the equal of Jesus. Evidently Dr. Eaton believes that our Lord Jesus was a mere man, a sinner, "born in sin and shapen in iniquity," even as others. Evidently he rejects the Biblical teaching that our Lord had a preexistence, and that his life was transferred, and so peculiarly born that he was "holy, harmless, separate from sinners." And yet this gentleman has accepted and avowed a creed which declares that Jesus was Jehovah. Alas, such inconsistency! Is it any wonder that the "world" is gradually seeing through such theological deceptions and double dealings? How hard theologians sometimes seem to struggle in their endeavor to be honest with themselves and their hearers. Years of systematic
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dishonesty with their own consciences has put them now at great disadvantage in any attempt they may make to grasp or to tell the Truth.
REV. DR. BURT ON ROMANISM.
A DESCRIPTIVE VIEW OF CONDITIONS IN ITALY.
The following is from the Geneva Daily Times:--
"Rev. Dr. William Burt of Rome, Italy, spoke to a large audience in the First Methodist Church last evening. So closely did he hold the attention of the people that when the fire alarm sounded only the firemen present withdrew.
"Dr. Burt gave a concise review of the history of Italy, leading up to the events of 1870, when the Romish Church lost its temporal power. He showed that the growth of education and of liberal thought, as represented by Protestantism, had resulted in the fall of the temporal power of Papacy. He gave an eloquent portrayal of the work of Garibaldi in establishing freedom and uniting the petty states of Italy into one strong kingdom.
"Mr. Burt contended that the Papacy of Italy is essentially pagan; that its influence upon personal character is pagan; that it places responsibility not upon the individual but upon the Church; that it teaches that salvation depends not upon faith in Jesus Christ but upon some external ceremony. He declared that the rank and file of the Italian priests are ignorant and helpless, so far as practical notions of life are concerned; that many of them are anxious to escape from their positions as they come into contact with the liberal ideas of Protestantism.
"There are two great classes in Italy--the poor, ignorant people, who are idolatrous and superstitious followers of the Papal Church, and the educated class, who are agnostics and infidels. The young men of Italy, he said, are bitter and intense in their hatred of the Romish system. The popular estimate of the Papal hierarchy is that the names of cardinal, bishop, priest, are synonyms for deceit, hypocrisy, lust, avarice and intolerance. The press of Italy deals constantly in charges of corruption and lust against the clergy, such as would be considered too indecent for public utterance in America.
"Dr. Burt declared that the present pope is considered
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only a figurehead by the authorities at Rome; that within the Vatican there is a representative of the Associated Press, whose business it is to see to it that the world gets a favorable impression of the pope, while the Jesuitical powers that elected him are really guiding the policy of the Church. The pope turns one face to France, another to Austria, another to Italy and another to America.
"Mr. Burt closed with an earnest appeal to Americans to be more on the alert against the encroachments of Romanism in politics and their interference in our schools. He said, 'If you want to know what Romanism really is, look at Mexico, look at Spain, look at South America, look at Porto Rico! Look at them!'
"One of the most surprising statements of the speaker was, that much of the detailed description of the imposing scenes connected with the burial of Pope Leo XIII, was prepared and sent out from Rome two weeks before the pope died."
Chancellor MacCracken, of the New York University, at the recent opening of that institution, complained of the gross ignorance of the Bible on the part of students. He spoke as an educationist, looking to the production of noble and effective manhood and womanhood. Ignorance of the Bible is to all a great loss; in Jews it is a disgrace. If the clubs and classes formed for the study of Browning and Shakespeare are evidences of culture, what shall be said of those who neglect the study of the Bible?
It is not inopportune to present some reasons for the study of the Bible:
1. It is the charter of our religion.
2. It is the storehouse of its principles.
3. It has essentially moulded our civilization.
4. It is an ancient classic.
5. It is the inspired Word of God.
6. It is the history of our people.
7. Its language is worthy of study.
8. Its characters are striking and original.
9. Its principles are exemplary and most powerful. 10. It is an ethical force. 11. It unveils an ancient civilization to the world. 12. Its fundamental ideals are yet far from realized and its declarations unexhausted mines, yielding ever fresh treasures. 13. Its facts and principles and characters pervade all literature, which is unintelligible to those ignorant of its contents. ("The Bible in Shakespeare," "The Bible in Browning," are two recent books.) 14. It is the battle-ground of a great science. 15. It is the basis of three great religions. 16. It is culture-building. 17. Ignorance of it is gross stupidity. 18. Knowledge of it is presupposed in every educated man and woman. 19. It enables men to reach and move the heart of all. 20. It is faith-giving. 21. A great comfort in time of sorrow. 22. An ever-present help in temptation. 23. A great stimulus to noble living. 24. Its view encompasses heaven and earth, opens a path in this life to walk in, and a hope for the future. --Jewish Exponent.
REFORMED PRESBYTERIANS DECRY THE SPECTACULAR.
Holding fast to the "faith of the fathers," a movement has been inaugurated by the Philadelphia Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church for concerted interdenominational action to "correct abuses in the forms of worship" among Protestant churches. The first steps in the movement were taken this week at a meeting of the Presbytery, and arrangements are under way for a joint meeting of representatives of several denominations in the near future.
The resolutions, among other declarations, state as follows:--
"Churches in general, in the present day, have departed far from the apostolic system and method of divine worship.
"The existing tendency is to lower and degrade the holy and solemn service of God's house to a sensuous and spectacular entertainment.
"The preaching of the Word of God has been quite generally reduced to soul-starving brevity.
"The churches, by will-worship, are endangering their religious inheritance won in the great Reformation at the cost of much precious blood.
"Let all bear testimony against the presumption of men who attempt to improve upon God's own plan and system of divine service. The law of God relating to the matter and manner of worship, as revealed in his Word is, in our judgment, a foundation stone of primal importance in a basis of union for all the churches of Christian faith."
WANT TO CLASP HANDS.
At the closing session of the recent Baltimore (Md.) conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church the following resolutions pertaining to the unification of the Methodist Episcopal and Methodist Protestant churches of the country were adopted:--
"Whereas, Providence evidently plans the union of Methodism, and negotiations are now progressing between the Methodist Protestant and other communions; therefore be it
"Resolved, That the Baltimore annual conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church invite the Maryland annual conference of the Methodist Protestant Church to join with us in requesting their delegations to their respective general conferences to memorialize to appoint commissioners to confer upon the terms of union."
PRESBYTERIANS FAVOR UNION.
Buffalo, N.Y., May 27.--The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, by an overwhelming vote, today adopted the report of the committee on union with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The resolutions adopted included not only favorable action on the report but recommends certain other steps to be taken to secure the union of the churches and to make plain the position of the Church.
The question of proposed basis of union will now
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go to the presbyteries of the General Assembly. If it be approved by two-thirds of them, the necessary steps will be taken at the next General Assembly to effect the union. The announcement of the result was received with great cheering.
METHODISTS FAVOR UNION.
Washington, May 27.--The Methodist Protestant Conference today completely cleared the way for union between itself and every one of the four denominations with which negotiations are pending, by the adoption of a supplemental report from its committee on union.
The report provides: First, that the annual conferences of the denomination should vote on the proposition of union with the Primitive Methodist denomination. Should a two-thirds vote for union be recorded--the same action being taken by the Primitive Methodists--the union will have been consummated. Second, the memorial from the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church was received "in a most heartily reciprocating spirit."
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IMMORTALITY IN THE EARLY CHURCH.
IT is not our practice to quote the "early fathers" on any subject, but all the more some of our readers may be interested in what Rev. J. Agar Beet, D.D., Professor in a Methodist college in England, has found on Immortality. We quote liberally, as follows:--
"In chapter 1 we saw that Plato taught that the soul of man is immortal, i.e., that for good or ill, immortality is its inalienable attribute; in contrast, as we saw in chapter 2, to Christ and his apostles, who taught that incorruptibility--i.e., a state without decay --and eternal life are the reward awaiting the righteous, whereas destruction awaits the wicked. We shall now consider what the early Christian writers, living in an intellectual environment greatly influenced by the teaching of Plato, said about the immortality of the soul and about the eternal life promised by Christ to the righteous.
"The earliest Christian writers reproduce the thought, and in large measure the language, of the New Testament, and say nothing about, or reject, the immortality of the soul. Clement of Rome, in his epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 35, speaks of 'life in immortality' as a gift of God to the righteous. So Ignatius to Polycarp, chapter 2: 'Be sober, as God's athlete; the prize is incorruptibility and life eternal.' He writes to the Magnesians, chapter 20, about 'the medicine of immortality, an antidote so as not to die, but to live eternally in Jesus Christ always.'...
"Theophilus to Autolycus, book ii. 27, writes: 'But some will say to us, Was man by nature mortal? Certainly not. Was he then immortal? Neither do we affirm this. But one will say, Was he then nothing? Not even this hits the mark. He was by nature neither mortal nor immortal. For, if he had made him immortal from the beginning, he would have made him God. Again, if he had made him mortal, God would seem to be the cause of his death. Neither then immortal nor yet mortal did he make him, but, as we have said above, capable of both; so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from him immortality, and should become God; but if, on the other hand, he should turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he should himself be the cause of death to himself. For God made man free, with power over himself. That, then, which man brought upon himself through carelessness and disobedience, this now God bestows upon him as a gift, through his own kindness and pity when men obey him. For as man, disobeying, drew death upon himself, so, obeying the will of God, he who desires is able to gain for himself life eternal. For God has given us a law and holy commandments; and every one who keeps these can be saved, and, obtaining the resurrection, can inherit incorruptibility.'
"Somewhat later Irenaeus writes, in book ii, 34, 3, that 'the Father of all imparts continuance forever and ever on those who are saved. For life does not arise from us nor from our own nature, but is bestowed according to the grace of God. And therefore he who shall preserve the life bestowed upon him and give thanks to him that imparted it, shall receive also length of days forever and ever. But he who shall reject it and prove himself ungrateful to his Maker, inasmuch as he has been created and has not recognized him who bestowed the gift upon him, deprives himself of the privilege of continuance forever and ever. And for this reason the Lord declared to those who showed themselves ungrateful to him, If ye have not been faithful in that which is little, who shall give you that which is great? indicating that those who, in this brief temporal life, have shown themselves ungrateful to him who bestowed it, shall justly not receive from him length of days forever and ever.'
"On the other hand, in book v.4.I (cf. ch.7.I), Irenaeus speaks of the soul as one of the things 'which are by nature immortal, and to which it belongs by their own nature to live.' This apparent contradiction reveals the influence of two contradictory lines of thought.
"At the close of the second century Clement of Alexandria writes: 'Let us observe God's commandments and follow his counsels: they are the short and direct way that leads to eternity,' i.e., to eternal existence; and again, 'When baptized, we become enlightened; enlightened, we become sons; as sons we become perfect and immortal.' See Paed. I.3,6.
"Up to this time, so far as I know, except the passing references in Irenaeus just quoted, and two writers now to be mentioned, no Christian writer speaks of the soul of man as immortal, or as continuing in endless existence, or of immortality as other than a reward of righteousness.
"In the middle of the second century Tatian writes, in his 'Address to the Greeks,' ch. 13: 'The soul is not in itself immortal, O Greeks, but mortal. Yet it is possible for it not to die. If indeed it knows not
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the truth, it dies and is dissolved with the body, but rises again at last at the end of the world with the body, receiving death by punishment in immortality.' About the demons he says in chapter 14: 'That which is now their chief distinction, that they do not die like men, they will retain when about to suffer punishment: they will not partake of everlasting life so as to receive this, instead of death, in a blessed immortality. And as we, to whom it now easily happens to die, afterwards receive the immortal with enjoyment, or the painful with immortality, so the demons who abuse the present life to purposes of wrong doing, dying continually even while they live, will have hereafter the same immortality, like that which they had during the life they lived, but in its nature like that of men, who actually performed what the demons ascribed to them during their lifetime.' The phrases 'punishment with immortality' and the 'painful with immortality' deviate from the phraseology of the New Testament. For there the terms immortality and its equivalents, incorruptibility and eternal life, are used only to describe a state of blessing. Thus Tatian approaches the language of Plato, with whose writings he was familiar...."
After referring to Athenagoras, a philosopher of Athens who accepted Christianity, to Tertullian and to Origen as advocates of the Platonic teaching concerning the immortality of the soul, Dr. Beet says:--
"To sum up: The phrase, the soul immortal, so frequent and conspicuous in the writings of Plato, we have not found in pre-Christian literature outside the influence of Greek philosophy; nor have we found it in Christian literature until the latter part of the second century. We have noticed that all the earliest Christian writers who use this phrase were familiar with the teaching of Plato; that one of these, Tertullian, expressly refers both phrase and doctrine to him; and that the early Christian writers never support this doctrine by appeals to the Bible, but only by arguments similar to those of Plato. We have learnt that by this phrase Plato and the earliest Christian writers who use it asserted the endless and essential permanence of all human souls, and appealed to this doctrine in proof of retribution beyond the grave. But we have failed to find any trace of this doctrine in the Bible. On the other hand, Christ and his apostles teach clearly and frequently retribution beyond death, and eternal life with God for all who put faith in Christ. The hope of immortality, however, rests in the New Testament, not on the nature of the soul, but on the 'promise of life in Christ Jesus.'
"The doctrine of the immortality of the soul differs further from the immortality promised in the New Testament in that this last is not for the body only, as Plato taught, but for the whole man, body and soul.
"Doubtless the doctrine before us was welcome in the early Church, as in a still earlier day to some devout Jews, because of the support it renders to the all-important doctrine of retribution beyond the grave. But, as we have seen, it is altogether alien, both in phrase and thought, to the teaching of Christ and his apostles."
It is sometimes argued that the immortality of the soul is a truth so generally accepted that any direct statement of it in Holy Scripture was unnecessary; and a parallel to this silence is thought to have been found in the fact that none of the sacred writers have felt obliged explicitly to state the proposition. There is a God.
But notice the wide difference between these two cases. The existence of a God, even if it be not distinctly asserted, is yet on almost every page of Scripture as plainly implied as it possibly can be. Everywhere the Almighty confronts us. Take his name and presence out of the Bible and the book shrivels into nothingness in a moment. Can any such thing be said of the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul? Where is it taken for granted? In what single sentence is it necessarily implied?--W. R. Huntington, D.D. Sermon, "The Hypothesis of Conditional Immortality."
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NEW VIEWS OF THE AUTHOR OF "IN HIS STEPS."
I have come to believe myself in the probable annihilation of those who never respond to God's offer of forgiveness, those who never believe in Christ and take him as their Savior. It seems probable that the Bible teaches that the word "death," as applied to the soul that always refuses to repent, is a death that means total extinction. I cannot interpret the use of such a text as we have today, to mean anything less than that "the wages of sin is death." What do these words mean, if not plainly what they say?--the extinction of life, the utter going out of the flame that was meant to ascend higher and brighter and purer on the alter of man's worship of his Creator and Redeemer.--Chas. M. Sheldon, in Sermon reported in "The Christian Herald."
HENRY WARD BEECHER'S VIEWS.
He that lives to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption--shall. It is sure to come. What shall it be? Future torment? No, I do not mean that; I mean that he that cultivates his lower nature, mere animal nature, with the animal perishes....It is to my mind a relief that if a man never rises any higher than the animal life, the universe will never see a God enthroned that looks down upon the infinite and prolonged torments of an unconceived number of men shut up simply for the purpose of suffering. If there be anything more infidel than that I do not know what it is, or anything which more effectually blots out the possibility of respecting and loving any God than this--continuing to create men with some foresight of their perpetual suffering.--From Sermon on `Gal. 6:7-9`.
FROM DR. LEONARD BACON.
"Let it be fairly understood, on all hands, that the doctrine of future existence as conditional upon the act of God, is not incompatible with any of the theories of the future life current in modern Christendom --with Universalism, Restorationism, with the opinions called orthodox, or even with the wretched
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despair of those who know no life to come at all. The one thesis to which, if I were a disputant on the subject, I should try to stick and to compel all my diverse antagonists to stick, until it was decided one way or the other, is this: That whatever future existence men shall have after death, be it blissful or miserable, be it unending or transient, be it the lot of all souls or only of a part, they will have it as being conferred by the act of God who raises from the dead, and not by the soul's intrinsic tenacity of life."
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THE LOS ANGELES CONVENTION.
OUR greeting on arrival at Los Angeles depot was most cordial. Probably thirty of the dear friends awaited us, though the train was many hours late and it was Saturday night--May 7th. Words are not adequate to describe our mutual joys as we realized that our long-looked-for pleasure of meeting was at last fulfilled. It made us think of the waited-for "General Assembly of the Church of the First-born" in the Kingdom glory. Indeed it was in many respects a foretaste of it. We were made glad when we learned that the opening sessions of the Convention had been joyous and profitable, and by midnight we were safely abed at the home of our dear Brother and Sister Sherman, with a "Rest" motto at the head of the bed and others on the walls, and all wrapped in the perfume of roses. We gave hearty thanks to the Lord for his care and bounty and slept refreshingly after our tedious two-days' journey through the desert.
Sunday was the principal day of the Convention. Its morning hours were for all--a Testimony and Praise Meeting. It was good to be there. Many of the testimonies were remarkable as tributes of praise and thanksgiving to the Heavenly Father for the "meat in due season" received in various ways, often peculiar and unexpected. After this session we were privileged to shake the hands of the dear friends of the Los Angeles Church and about as many more-- visitors from abroad, far and near--the total being about 250. The writer greatly enjoyed this, and the words and tones and looks and hearty hand-grasps assured us that many had their cups of joy full to the brim.
The afternoon discourse was specially for the public, from a platform covered with flowers--surely a thousand of them--on the topic, "Salvation--from what are we saved and to what are we saved?" We had a house full, estimated 750, who gave very careful attention. A full report of the discourse appeared in the Gazette, which so many of our readers now receive regularly.
The Sunday evening meeting was designed to have been a Question Meeting, but as we decided to remain over an extra day we spoke on "Cast not away therefore your confidence."
The sessions of Monday forenoon from 10 to 12 o'clock were occupied by Pilgrims Draper and Van Amburgh, who spoke ably to attentive listeners. Monday afternoon the discourse was on "Baptism and its import." This was followed by the symbolic burial in water of twenty-two, who witnessed a good confession of their faith, devotion and obedience.
The evening service was, as per our program, a "Love Feast." After a few remarks explanatory-- showing that there is no relationship between such "breaking of bread" and the Memorial Supper--we made brief reference to the blessings which by the Lord's providence the Convention had brought to us all, and exhortations that we each strive diligently to make our calling and election sure so as to be participants in the joys of the great Convention in glory-- "the General Assembly of the Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in heaven." Then with the Elder of the local Church, Brother Sherman, and Pilgrim Draper at one end and Pilgrim Van Amburgh and the writer at the other end, and intermediately elders of other churches and colporteurs (about 25 in all), we bade good-bye to the dear brethren and sisters, greeting each with a hearty hand-shake. The first-named four each had on a plate a loaf of bread cut into strips, that the passing friends might break bread with each as representatives of all present, and indirectly, in the writer's loaf, with all absent members of the Society--who also were remembered in our prayers. Thus the Convention proper closed.
However, further pleasures and privileges were open to those who could and did remain over. Tuesday morning we had a most interesting gathering of colporteurs and those meditating engaging in that fruitful and blessed service. In the afternoon we addressed many of the Convention friends and others in a suburban village in a Presbyterian Church on the occasion of the funeral of a dear sister who for weeks had been hoping to see us in the flesh, and whose death occurred just in season to gratify another wish of her heart,--that her neighbors should hear from our lips respecting the hopes built upon God's Word, common to us both.
In the evening we met in the W.C.T.U. rooms and had the postponed Question Meeting, about 150 being present. Some very interesting queries were propounded and answered. Then final greetings and partings and hopes for the future, when we shall be forever with the Lord and all who are his. A goodly
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company, however, was on hand at the depot as we left next day for San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO, PORTLAND, SEATTLE, ST. PAUL
AND MILWAUKEE ONE-DAY
Each of these precious gatherings had its own special and peculiar features of interest; but we must not detail them all lest we weary you, for however distinctive they each were to us and to those met at the different points, the accounts must needs be in similar language.
At San Francisco dear brethren awaited us at the depot and saw to our comfort and refreshment. Two meetings were held, dear friends being present from various quarters and introducing themselves--Brother A-----from B-----ville, Sister C-----from D-----ville, etc. Some said they had come 60 miles, some 100, some more and some less. And their radiant faces and hearty grasp told the same story as their lips: that the occasion was one of the grandest experiences of their lives--long to be remembered as an encouragement in the "narrow way." May it be so: we all need each other's help, sympathy and prayers. Attendance about 150.
Saturday night (May 14) we reached Portland, Oregon, and were greeted at the depot by about twenty of the dear friends most enthusiastically, and you may be sure we reciprocated the joy. We were most comfortably entertained at the home of "Grandmother" Baker and the Sunday convention began and ended most enjoyably.
The morning session was devoted to general testimony, interspersed with praise and prayer. It was good to be there--to hear the thanksgiving of many overflowing hearts acknowledging God's goodness in "so great salvation," and for the knowledge of his grace coming to us now as "Present Truth." About 125 were present.
The afternoon session for the public was on "The Oath-bound Covenant." About 300 attended, some of whom were obliged to stand throughout. Our hope is that some good was done--some glory brought to our God and Savior, and some blessing and refreshment to his hungry flock. The evening discourse on "A night of weeping and a morning of joy" appeared in the Pittsburgh Gazette of the following day and thus
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many of you already have it in full. After this service we took the train for our next appointment at
Seattle, Washington, which we reached next morning, Monday, May 16. A group of seven brethren awaited our arrival at the depot, giving us a most cordial welcome and greeting. An afternoon and an evening session were held, and from the latter quite a group accompanied us to the 10.30 East-bound Express, on the N. Pac. R.R. Their earnest expressions of good wishes, requests for our prayers and hopes for our return will long be remembered.
Spokane, Wash., we reached on Tuesday (May 17). We deeply regret our inability to spend a few hours with the loyal little band of "fellow-soldiers of the cross" at this place. But as the train stopped here for five minutes we had opportunity for greetings and found seventeen of the dear friends awaiting our arrival at the depot. The love and enthusiasm and zeal manifested everywhere by those who know and love Present Truth is very encouraging indeed. With the Apostle we thanked God and took courage, accepting a bouquet of flowers as a love token. Most of the dear friends here were no longer young, but all had the bright, joyous look so general among the "Truth people."
Constant riding day and night brought us on Thursday to the dear ones at St. Paul and Minneapolis, whom we had met before, but who were none the less beloved on that account. True love, begotten of the Spirit through the word of grace never grows cold but goes on increasing.
We were met at the train by Brothers Thori and Dickinson, who conducted us to the meeting place, where the friends were already assembled. We had time for personal greetings before the advertised meeting hour and enjoyed the privilege greatly. Some of the dear friends had come considerable distances, and fully one-half we had never met before. They had the family likeness, namely earnestness and fulness of the Truth, and beaming faces. The afternoon discourse was chiefly for the interested, and in the evening, to which the public was invited, the topic was "The Oath-bound Covenant." At the close of the meeting we bade all adieu, being accompanied to our train by nine of the friends.
Milwaukee, Wis., was reached the next forenoon, and there we were cordially welcomed and entertained by Bro. Page and his family. Our time permitted of but one meeting here; it was not publicly advertised, but afforded a most enjoyable opportunity for meeting eighty dear friends of the Truth--about half of whom had come from other points in Wisconsin and thirteen from Chicago. Our text was, "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward." --`Heb. 10:35`.
We reached Chicago the same evening and had an hour and a half before train-time to spend with a surprise party of seventeen of the Chicago Church who met us in the depot and with whom we had supper near by. The love for the Truth, manifested here as everywhere, was most refreshing. How often the Lord has thus comforted us, and how such comfort
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offsets the adverse conditions incident to the present pilgrim-way! As the Apostle expresses it:--
"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort by which we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation [comfort] also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted it is for your consolation [comfort] and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation [comfort] and salvation."--`2 Cor. 1:3-6`.
We reached Allegheny safely the next morning, where two of the Bible House family met us at the depot and escorted us to the sitting room, in which were gathered the office helpers--about 30. We united our hearts and voices in praise and then in prayer, when on behalf of the whole a few words of greeting and welcome-home were expressed by one of the brethren. We responded that though greatly pleased and refreshed by recent meetings with the dear friends in various places, nevertheless none could have a warmer or a closer place in our heart than the dear fellow-laborers of the WATCH TOWER office.
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STUDIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
--`I KINGS 12:20`--JULY 3.--
Golden Text:--"Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall."--`Prov. 16:18`.
THE International Sunday School lesson course changes again to the Old Testament. Six months ago we concluded a study of Israel's experiences down to Solomon's time: today we consider the conditions which followed the death of the wise king. And, by the way, while crediting King Solomon with great wisdom, we should not ignore the fact that his life in many respects was a contradiction of his wise utterances. Under the Lord's blessing his rule brought great prosperity to the nation of Israel. Peace ruled within its borders during his lifetime, and those borders were extended so that they included adjoining nations.
The fact that discontent was rife throughout a considerable portion of Solomon's kingdom, so that it was all ready to break out in open rebellion at his death, does not necessarily prove that his subjects were badly governed --oppressed. We find today that many of the best governed and most prosperous peoples are discontented, while many of the badly governed and less prosperous are contented. Thus in our own nation the blessings and privileges of liberty are not appreciated by all. There is perhaps more complaining under the wisest and best governments in the world today than under the more despotic ones. It may have been the same in respect to Israel. Indeed it would appear to have been the same in some degree, because we find that Israel never prospered to the same extent subsequently. After their rebellion against what they considered tyranny and oppression, they seemed to be less prosperous than under that which they considered to be oppression.
Solomon's son who succeeded him in the kingdom was Rehoboam. The twelve tribes, while uniting under David and subsequently supporting Solomon, nevertheless preserved tribal liberties and called a council of all the tribes except the one to which the royal family belonged (Judah--Benjamin being a small tribe attached to Judah). This gathering of the ten tribes was in the capital city of the principal one, Ephraim, in the city of Shechem. The representatives of the ten tribes made no secret of the fact that they wished assurances from the new king that there would be an abatement of the royal demands in the nature of levies of men for public labor, of taxes, liberties, etc., and that their loyalty to him as their king was more or less in the balance. The king was invited to attend this meeting.
WHAT BETTER COULD BE EXPECTED?
The king was really a better man in some respects than might have been expected when we call to mind that his mother was a heathen woman, and that to please her Solomon had erected a sanctuary to Moloch on Mount Olivet. With such a mother and a royal father whose time was necessarily largely occupied in other ways, it would have been a wonder if Rehoboam had been more godly than he was. The older councillors advised that he yield to the demands of the tribes as gracefully as possible, but the young men expressed the thought that to yield a little would mean a pressure to yield more and would show weakness. They advised that he speak out boldly and bully his subjects into loyalty. He followed their advice and sent as his reply, "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions (whips with metal lumps on the strands)." The answer was a foolish one and precipitated the separation of the ten tribes from the two. That separation lasted for centuries: the only healing of it that ever took place was that, after the captivity in Babylon, so many as desired of all the tribes gathered back again into Canaan and were henceforth one little nation.
We are to view the affairs of nations and the affairs of individuals as separate and distinct, though the individuals make up the nations. Things may be working advantageously to the individuals, but disadvantageously as respects the nations, or vice versa. The Lord's people are to learn to trust him in the guidance of the great affairs of
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life--that he is overruling in the affairs of nations in the interests of his loyal servants. This was so in respect to Israel's affairs. The split in that nation must have seemed to many of the people a woful disaster, reducing them as a nation from a high place as one of the principal nations of earth to a much lower level. To some it may seem even to intimate a failure of the divine purposes--that God never wished the nation to be divided, but wished the Jewish people to become great, mighty, powerful, so that he might accomplish through them the promise that in the seed of Abraham all the families of the earth should be blessed. But those who took such a view erred. God wished the nation to be divided--he wished to humble them, to weaken them. This is distinctly stated in the lesson, as we read the cause was from the Lord, that he might establish his word
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through the prophet Ahijah. Some time before the Lord had sent a message through this prophet to Jereboam to the effect that the latter should become king of the ten tribes, and now the answer of Rehoboam paved the way to the accomplishment of that prophecy.
PROPER VIEWS OF ISRAEL'S EXPERIENCES.
As in the lessons of the next six months we shall study the history of Israel, let us view it from this standpoint. Let us not think of the matter as being wholly the result of unwisdom on the part of kings and rulers, but as being a matter entirely overruled by the Lord with a special object in view.
The object in view--indeed the entire object of the Jewish dispensation--was the purifying of Abraham's descendants, so that the Lord might find in that people the most holy, the most devoted, the most obedient, to the intent that when the time should come for the presentation of Messiah, the nation should be represented by its very best people under the most favorable conditions. This was attained. In the time of our Lord, notwithstanding the fact that many of that nation who heard him were called hypocrites and many others were professedly publicans and sinners, nevertheless the moral and religious conditions of the nation were never better. This is evidenced, we think, by the fact that, in addition to the disciples and the five hundred brethren who received our Lord during his ministry, there were several thousand ready to receive him on the day of Pentecost, and more thousands subsequently. It is doubtful if as many thousands of "Israelites indeed, in whom there was no guile," could have been found in any other period of Israel's history. The finding of them at that time was by no means accidental, but was the result of divine providences in their national experience.
The Lord sifted the nation time after time to take out of it the classes possessing less faith and to bring more closely together those possessing more faith, until the best results were eventually found, as we have shown. The experiences narrated in our lesson were the beginnings of a sifting process. The nation of Israel was more or less honeycombed with idolatry, though still the religion of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was their national faith. The Temple at Jerusalem was the center of this faith, and the tribe of Judah--through which the Lord had foretold Messiah should come, and in which, therefore, the kingly authority was vested--became on this account the most religious of all the tribes, because thus closely identified with this hope and its fulfilment, and because in their king Messiah's kingdom was typified, as in their sacrifices his sufferings were typified. Both the sufferings and the royal glories, therefore, were more vividly and specially impressed upon the people of Judah than upon those of the ten tribes, whose territory was more or less remote from the capital city, the Temple, etc.--especially in a time when there was no rapid means of communication.
During the period of the union of the tribes under David and Solomon, some of the most devoted people of all the tribes had removed to Jerusalem, partly through their religious convictions and for the privilege of prayer in the Temple, and for more frequent association in the religious festivities. With the political rupture came the tendency to cast off all faith in the promises made to the fathers to the effect that a deliverer should rise out of Zion and that this great king should be of the tribe of Judah. Patriotism on the part of the ten tribes would naturally tend to alienate them from these religious promises. They must have remembered that the Lord had said that his law-giver would not depart from Judah until Shiloh should come --until the Messiah. In harmony with this we shall find, as we progress during this series of lessons, that idolatry began to come into the ten tribes more and more after their separation from Judah, and that likewise those who respected the Lord and his promises and were dissatisfied with idolatry, were disposed to leave their own tribes and to emigrate to the land of Judah. This division of the tribes, therefore, tended to sift the Israelites indeed out of all the tribes into the land of Judah.
SIFTINGS OF SPIRITUAL ISRAEL.
Spiritual Israelites studying this lesson should take special note of this feature--should notice that the Lord overruled in all the affairs of the typical people for the welfare of the true-hearted. Applying this lesson to spiritual Israel, we learn not to feel disappointed at what to others might appear to be unfavorable turns in national or temporal affairs, realizing that the Lord is wisely directing, not according to man's wisdom but according to his own plan and in the interest of his own cause, which means also in the interests of his own people. From this standpoint the Lord's consecrated people may seem less patriotic than others, but they may continually have joy and peace in all the vicissitudes of life, knowing that all things are cooperating for good to them that love the Lord.
`Verse 16` briefly tells that the ten tribes revolted from Rehoboam in a quiet and peaceful manner, advising the king that he must look to his own tribe for support. `Verse 17` refers to the Israelites from all these tribes which dwelt in the cities of Judah, and who from religious or
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other considerations were not moved to join with their tribes in rebellion, but preferred affiliation with the tribe of Judah, in which God through the prophet had declared that his blessing should come, and the worship divinely instituted at the Temple, built under divine direction.
The king, uncertain to what extent the dissatisfied ones would carry their threat, sent to them Adoram, the Secretary of the Treasury, the one having charge over the assessments, etc., the same mentioned in `I Kings 4:6`, called Adoniram, who presided over the forced labor. He was probably commissioned to do as previously, call for levies of laborers to serve the king as troops and for general national services. The people promptly resented it, and after the manner of their time the king's messenger was stoned. At this, the king realized that the people were not only sullen but angry and determined, that a rebellion was not only threatened but accomplished, and that his own life would probably be in danger unless he got back into the boundaries of Judah. The ten tribes chose Jereboam for their king and supported a separate government. King Rehoboam, loath to lose so large a part of his empire, at first thought to compel the union by putting down the rebellion, but the Lord warned him to the contrary--this also being in accordance with what we have heretofore seen, that it was part of the divine plan that the nations should be divided, and that, as we have seen, for the greater blessing of the Israelites indeed.
THE LORD ABHORRETH THE PROUD.
Our Golden Text fits well to the king. He had evidently overlooked, as many others have done, his father's words of wisdom, "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." We will not claim that if the king had taken a less haughty course he would not ultimately have lost the ten tribes from his kingdom; on the contrary, we believe that would have been the result anyway. Nevertheless, the Lord has a peculiar way of causing fore-intended events to come to pass in accordance with natural laws, etc.
The force of the proverb is still greater to us who are spiritual Israelites than to any others in the world at any time, for by the grace of God we who have received the high calling have reached a position, a standing, never previously granted to any, and the higher the standing the more serious would be the fall, and the greater the blessing the more serious would be the loss by destruction. Let us, dear brethren, as those who have tasted of divine favor, as those who have been made recipients of so great blessings, let us walk humbly with the Lord; let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. Let us remember that pride leads to destruction; that a haughty spirit, a domineering, self-satisfied disposition, tends to undermine the character, and ultimately to precipitate the haughty one from his vantage position into degradation-- in some cases into death, the Second Death.
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SELFISH EXPEDIENCY MISLED THEM
--`I KINGS 12:25-33`.--JULY 10.--
Golden Text:--"Keep yourselves from idols."--`I John 5:21`.
JEROBOAM, by divine arrangement the king of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, trusted not in the Lord. To some extent he must have recognized that God had given him the kingdom; nevertheless he proceeded to establish himself in it, leaving the will and power of God out of his consideration. He was a worldly-wise man: expediency was the law which governed his course. He concluded that to make the separation between the ten tribes and the two tribes lasting, and thus to insure his own throne, the religious arrangements of the people must be changed. By divine order Jerusalem was the center of religious service, and all the people, individually or representatively, were expected to be at Jerusalem three
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times a year--at the feast of Passover in April, feast of Pentecost in June, and the feast of Tabernacles in October. Jeroboam feared that this recognition of Jerusalem as the center of the religious interests might ultimately lead the ten tribes to long for union with Judah; hence one of his first arrangements was to break the religious tie.
This was done by the establishment of two religious centers favorably located in the ten-tribe kingdom--one at Dan, in the most northern part, where an altar had long been maintained contrary to divine arrangement, where certain descendants of Moses had long officiated and continued to officiate under Jeroboam's arrangement. The other sacred place established was Bethel, the place where Jacob had his dream and saw the ladder with angels ascending and descending. This place on this account had always been somewhat sacred in the minds of the children of Israel. Jeroboam thus showed worldly wisdom in selecting places for the new religious movement that were already sacred to his people.
EVIL GARBS ITSELF AS ANGEL OF LIGHT.
Thus error and everything pertaining to it is always crafty, insidious. Temptations to wrong doing are rarely presented in an open, blunt manner--usually they come clothed in the garments of light and associating themselves with something sacred, claiming to be for spiritual advancement. So Jeroboam claimed that the ten tribes had long enough gone to the farther part of the country, to Jerusalem, to worship; that it was time that Israelites should recognize that their God was accessible from other quarters as well. It was time that they should feel a kind of national pride and patriotism in connection with their religion. Craftily he did not tell them his real reason, that he feared ultimately his own rejection and was merely strengthening his power over them and feathering his own nest.
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The two bulls or calves of gold were probably made of wood overlaid with gold; as we would say, they were golden calves. One was located at each of the sacred cities appointed, and at each a house was built dedicated to the worship of God, and the golden bull installed as God's representative--as representative of him who brought Israel out of Egypt. We are not to think that Jeroboam and the people turned quickly to worship the bull as a god: they surely would have indignantly denied anything of the sort, just as today the Roman Catholics and Greek Catholics deny that they worship images, pictures, crucifixes, etc., and for the same reason. The claim is that these things represent spiritual truths and help the mind. We find to the contrary, however, that the scriptural declaration alone should be followed, and that any other course is sure to lead to idolatry; and so in this lesson it is stated that, "This thing became a sin" unto the people. It was not only a sin in that it was contrary to the divine arrangement to have any other place for a general convocation for worship except at Jerusalem, but it became a sin in that it led them gradually into idolatry. God was forgotten, and the worship attached more and more to the image.
TO RESIST EVIL IS PROFITABLE.
Not content with changing the arrangement, the king changed the priesthood also. The priests and Levites lived in various countries of Palestine, yet had certain seasons of the year at which they went to Jerusalem to take part in the services there, thus unifying the people and the religious sentiment and continually keeping it fresh. It is probable, though not so stated, that the Levites refused to join with the king, refused to cooperate in the establishment of these unauthorized religious services mixed with idolatry. If so, it was to their credit. But the king would have no difficulty in finding others willing to take the services, and quite probably to these would go the tithes of the people. This in turn would mean temporal deprivation to the Levites as a reward for their fidelity to the Lord and the Truth. As a consequence many of them removed to the kingdom of Judah. Thus, as we suggested in our last lesson, the sifting of the noblest, truest and best people from the ten tribes was gathered into the nation of Judah, and was evidently a part of the divine program for preparing that people for the reception of Messiah in due time.
Jeroboam's scheme was far-reaching. In addition to changing the place of gathering and the priesthood, he changed also the date for one of the gatherings, which, instead of being held on the seventh month, he appointed for the eighth. However, craftily he perceived that by taking the high priest's position to himself and being both priest and king he would attach to his own person more of the reverence of the people. This was the very matter which God had stipulated for the Israelites as being more favorable to their liberties, as putting less power into the hands of their rulers, as keeping their religion on a separate basis from their politics. But Jeroboam's plan evidently was to take the very step that would forward his personal ambitions. Similarly the emperors of Rome took to themselves the priestly office, in order that they might the more effectually bind the people to them and appear to be not only great military heroes, but the representatives of the gods.
LESSONS WE MAY DRAW FROM THIS.
Let us apply to our own hearts the lessons that evil is insidious, and that every parting of the ways, every leaving of the divine path, signifies a separation from righteousness to a degree we are unable to estimate at the beginning. Let us learn that the only safe course to pursue is to trust in the Lord and to be glad to have whatever his providences may mark out for us, and to refuse to have anything contrary to his will, however desirable it might be, however gratifying to human ambition. Let us learn the lesson that ambition is a dangerous thing--especially in our present imperfect condition, where our judgments are more or less warped from the fall, where our knowledge is imperfect and where Satan is sure to put light for darkness and darkness for light. Our ambitions must be curbed, yea, every thought must be brought into subjection to the will of God in Christ, if we would be on safe ground as New Creatures in Christ Jesus.
MAMMON WORSHIP IS IDOLATRY.
Let us not too quickly suppose that we are not in danger along the lines of Jeroboam's fall. Let us note carefully the Golden Text applied by the Apostle, under divine guidance, to the New Creatures of this Gospel dispensation, "Keep yourselves from idols." On every hand policy suggests the setting up of idols--that we love or respect or serve some one or some thing or some system in an improper spirit or degree, and allowing such to take the place in our hearts which properly belongs to the Lord only. Some have their chief temptation from one quarter and others from another quarter. Some are disposed to idolize husband or wife or child, and really, in their affection and interest and devotion, give these a place superior to that accorded to the Lord. Others are inclined to idolize wealth and to devote themselves to it, continually serving it, seeking it as though it were the most important thing in the world. Others are disposed to worship fame, desiring to be thought some great one either in the Church or in the world, to attain a position, a pre-eminence; they hunger and thirst more after the pre-eminence than after righteousness--they worship it, it becomes their idol; in their hearts and time and affections it takes to a considerable extent the place belonging to God, whose will and service is correspondingly neglected. Others set up selfishness pure and simple as their idol; they serve self, minister to self, comfort self, please self, etc., instead of God. In many respects this idol of self is the most horrible one of all--the meanest looking. Others, disdaining personal ambition and selfish consolations, take on in some respects a nobler thought, yet are deceived by
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the Adversary in worshiping a sect, a party, a faction. To it they will sacrifice, to it they will yield their lives, for it they would yield their reputations, and the while--like the Apostle, before his name was changed from Saul to Paul --they would verily think that they did God service. Let us, dear brethren and sisters, keep ourselves from all idols, and, as the Apostle exhorts, sanctify the Lord God in our hearts. "The Lord your God will prove you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.--`Deut. 13:3`."
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INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED
IN THE SAME BODY.
Question.--When our Lord appeared to the eleven apostles in the upper room and invited Thomas to thrust his hand into his side and put his finger into the nail prints, was it the same body that was buried in Joseph's tomb a few days before? If not, was it a deception practised upon Thomas?
Answer.--No: it was neither the same body nor was there a deception. Our Lord's body, buried in Joseph's tomb, was composed of flesh and bones, and could not have passed through the door into the room in which the disciples were met--"the doors being shut." To have dissolved it into gases, and to have thus brought it into the room and reorganized it there, would have been to destroy one body and to make another. Nothing of this kind was necessary, and we have some reason for supposing that the body which lay in the tomb is hidden away by the Lord as
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was the body of Moses, though for a different purpose. Possibly it is preserved incorruptible as a great object lesson for the future, that men may actually look upon him whom they have pierced, actually see the remains of him who died for them. The man Christ Jesus gave himself a sacrifice for our sins completely and forever; and that sacrifice was never taken back. To have taken it back would have meant the cancellation of our redemption. Instead, the heavenly Father gave to our Lord Jesus a spiritual body, glorious, honorable and immortal. Thus, as the Apostle declares, the Father exalted him far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named. As we have already shown (MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., p. 123), there was a special reason why our Lord appeared at all to his disciples after his resurrection.
As a spirit being he would, of course, be invisible to them, and a miracle was performed every time they saw him;--he appeared to them at different times, in different places and in different bodies, forms and appearances. As the writers declare, he "showed" himself. At any other time than when he thus showed himself he was hidden from human sight, as are other spirit beings. One of these manifestations was to the disciples in the upper room. Thomas, not being present, was informed, and inquired of the others whether or not they had noticed the nail prints or seen the wounded side. Apparently they had not, and Thomas declared his incredulity, saying that they might believe if they chose that Jesus was risen from the dead, but he would not believe unless he saw the nail-prints and the spear-mark.
When our Lord appeared in the upper room, the doors being shut, and Thomas present, the body in which he appeared must have been created or materialized inside the room; and when he subsequently vanished out of their sight it was merely a dissolution of the body. Not only so, but the clothing must also have been created or materialized in that room. Our contention with spiritualists is not that there is absolutely no foundation to their claim of materialization, for we believe that their seances are not all fraudulent; but our contention is that the materializations which they show are deceptions, in that they appear like deceased friends while in reality they are the fallen angels, the "demons" of the Scriptures. The Scriptures show clearly that the dead could not thus materialize, for they know not anything and will not know anything until the awakening on the resurrection morn.--`Eccles. 9:5`.
In our Lord's case the matter was different. "He was put to death in the flesh, but revived a quickening spirit," and it was quite within his ability as well as his rights to appear in any manner he might choose for the purpose of instructing his disciples,--teaching them that he was no longer deceased, but alive; and no longer man, but a spirit being--"Now the Lord is that spirit." Before he became a man he appeared to Moses in a flame of fire, in what appeared to be a burning bush, yet there was no deception in it; and he appeared unto Abraham as a man on the way to Sodom. So after he had again became a spirit being by resurrection he appeared to Mary as the gardener, and to the two on the way to Emmaus as a traveler, and in the upper room to Thomas and others in a body similar to the one in which he had been buried.
LIFE AND EVERLASTING LIFE.
Question.--Is there any difference between life in its perfection, as Adam enjoyed it before he sinned, and everlasting life, which the Lord purposes to give eventually to the worthy of mankind, and as expressed to the sheep in `Matt. 25:46`, "These shall go away into everlasting life"?
Answer.--Death is the opposite, or antithesis of life. Man was created a living soul, a living creature,
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and death had no power upon him until after he sinned: then he came under its power, as the divine sentence expressed it, Dying thou shalt die. Where the dying began life in its perfection ceased. From this standpoint not a soul of humanity has life--neither perfect life nor a right to perfect life. All rights have been forfeited and death is reigning over all.
Adam before he sinned possessed everlasting life, a life which would have lasted forever had he remained obedient to God. As is well known to our readers, the word "everlasting" in our English language has a stronger meaning than any word either in the Hebrew or the Greek language: the strongest Greek or Hebrew word would properly be translated lasting. Adam had the lasting life and lost it; Jesus has redeemed for mankind that which was lost by Adam, and the Millennial age is to be the time of restoration --restitution. What men will get eventually through Christ's redemptive work and their acceptance of it and obedience to its terms will be the same lasting life which father Adam lost--human life, unimpaired either by sentence or by disease.
This Gospel age is the anti-typical Day of Atonement, in which the Church, typified by the goat, fills up or participates in the work of sacrifice with her Lord Jesus, who in the type was represented by the bullock. The entire Gospel age is devoted to the sacrificing of these--Christ Jesus, the Head, and the Church, the members of his body, who "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." With the close of this Gospel age the Atonement Day will be ended, and, as expressed in the type, an atonement will have been accomplished for the sins of the whole world, and forthwith the forgiveness of all sins under the original curse will be decreed for men. As the Apostle expresses the matter,--As by the offence of one [Adam], judgment [sentence] came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift will come upon all men to justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, "even so through the obedience of one shall the many be made righteous"--that as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
With the completion of the "better sacrifices" (`Heb. 9:23`) the Atonement will be complete and the sentence will be removed from mankind. Thenceforth no man will be under sentence of death for Adam's transgression, but whosoever then shall die will die for his own sins. The Life-giver, the merit of whose sacrifice accomplished all this, will be present with his associated Church, his Bride, as the great Physician, to heal and to bless and to uplift all who will to be blest.
From the moment the sentence of death shall be lifted the dying processes will cease to reign, and the living processes will begin to reign in mankind. More and more throughout the thousand years life will reign, will become ascendant in mankind, and more and more the weaknesses and imperfections resulting from the death sentence will abate, until at the close of the Millennial age life in its perfection will be attained by mankind--any unwilling to progress, by obedience to the great Prophet, having been cut off from amongst the people from time to time. (`Acts 3:23`.) Thus righteousness will be reigning--unto life--during the Millennial age, as sin has reigned--unto death--during the past 6,000 years, under the curse.
Thus seen, life will begin in mankind in a small way, but will be in the ascendancy: all will live, except as they shall wilfully reject the provisions of life. Thus every man will get lasting life at the hands of his Redeemer at his awakening, and the measure will increase according to his obedience until he shall have attained it in its fullest measure at the close of the Millennium, and then standing trial to see whether or not his heart is fully loyal to the Lord. If determined that he is in full loyalty his testings will be at an end, and the same life will be his in perpetuity--so long as he remains in accord with the spirit and laws of his Creator.
Thus seen, our confidence that the future life will be an everlasting one, is not based upon any immortal quality which mankind possesses, or will ever possess, but based upon the principles of the divine arrangement revealed to us in the Word, namely, that God was pleased to create and is pleased to continue everlastingly those of his creatures in harmony with himself--that there is no penalty nor suggestion of death to any intelligent creature of God, except upon condition of sin--the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
IT WAS "FINISHED" AT CALVARY.
Question.--One of the preaching brethren suggested in my hearing that our Lord's sacrifice was not finished until he ascended up on high and appeared in the presence of the Father, and that the evidence of its being finished was the sending of the holy Spirit at Pentecost. Is this the correct thought?
Answer.--No. The correct thought is that the Lord's sacrifice was completed at Calvary, where he cried, "It is finished!" Possibly you misunderstood the conversation referred to, and the speaker may have said, or probably intended to say, that satisfaction for our sins was not accomplished at the cross, but when our Lord Jesus appeared in the Father's presence and offered the merit of his sacrifice on our behalf--appropriating to believers their share in his Atonement work. That the Atonement work at Calvary was satisfactory to the Father was demonstrated by our Lord's resurrection from the dead. That he had offered the merit of the sacrifice as a covering for the sins of believers, and that it was so accepted of the Father, was witnessed by the holy Spirit at Pentecost.