ZWT - 1897 - R2084 thru R2237 / R2192 (221) - August 1, 1897
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VOL. XVIII. AUGUST 1, 1897. No. 15.
Views from the Watch Tower........................223
"Young People's" Societies....................223
Mohammedans Insolent and
Poem: The Pilgrim.................................226
Covered Sins to Be Blotted Out....................226
"I Will Come Again and Receive You"...............229
Self-denial in the Interest of Others.............233
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
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THE extreme heat and other considerations have necessitated slight changes of program for several of the traveling brethren; but in all cases where positive appointments had been made we were enabled to give timely notice: we hope that no serious inconvenience was experienced. Brother Ransom took unwell; Brother Cone is aged and needs a little rest; Brother McPhail's son took sick and has since died; and others had various hindrances. Remember these all with us at the throne of grace.
On the whole we have reason to rejoice that the Lord's blessing seems to go with this branch of the service in so wonderful a manner. Many of the scattered ones are reached, in parts we never expected to reach; and the meetings seem to do much good, judged by the letters and reports we receive from all along the various routes.
Whenever there are five or more WATCH TOWER subscribers we make an effort to reach them;--especially if a desire for public or parlor meetings has been expressed.
Wherever a positive appointment is made, you may expect it to be kept to the very hour. The routes are mostly arranged at the WATCH TOWER office. One to three days are all that can be spared generally, as the field is large and the laborers are few: so make the best use possible of the "pilgrims," while they are with you.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
THE Christian Endeavor and other societies of "Young People" are keeping well to the front, influentially and otherwise, in religious matters. When we remember that these young people's societies represent about five millions of members, and that the majority of these are no longer very young, we can readily see that within ten years these people will include the most active representatives of normal Christendom. They are likely to have considerable influence in forming the coming Protestant Federation. In view of this, we have been on the lookout for reports of what was accomplished by the recent C.E. Convention at San Francisco, California.
We have seen the report of the President of the Society, congratulating it upon its growth and size, and giving a brief account of his recent trip around the world, in the interest of the Society. But we have as yet seen no report of any important action taken, or even proposed. Indeed, it seems to be an immense combination of well-intentioned young people, anxious to do something great--and good, rather than bad. But it scarcely knows what to adopt as its mission. Hitherto this subject has not been so important; for all energies were employed in growing. Now it has corporeal size, and weight of influence, and feels strong, and realizes that it must have a policy and a mission, or else it will look foolish; and it, no doubt, will decide this question shortly.
It is fearful to adopt any very spiritual work or mission; because doctrine is more or less necessary to every such movement, and doctrines must be sedulously avoided, lest they split the organization, and thus wreck all that has so far been attained--size and union. For instance: suppose it were resolved that the Society of Christian Endeavor shall hereafter devote its main energies to Foreign Mission work, among the barbarous and heathen. Questions would at once arise, such as, Shall we determine and expect to convert the world? Shall we understand this to be God's purpose, and that he has raised us up to do it, and that
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he will give us success in its full accomplishment? And how quickly can we do this, if it has required eighteen centuries to reach the present degree of development? Or, shall we undertake it merely as a witnessing to all nations, to gather out an elect "little flock"--through whom, at the second advent of Christ God will "bless all the families of the earth"?
Here would be a split at once. Would the Y.P.S. of C.E., as a whole, declare its belief in a pre-millennial advent of Christ, or in a post-millennial advent? It would do neither; but would refuse to discuss the matter, lest it cause division; because some of its most earnest members are on each side of that question. But to avoid the question as to object of work, is to avoid those lines of work which necessitate decision as to object. And so it is with all spiritual questions and activities; they are inseparably connected with faith; and all faith is built upon doctrines--true or false, divine or human.
If, then, these societies are built upon wrong principles for spiritual work (in that they ignore doctrine, the basis of faith, as faith is the basis of spiritual activities), what will they do with their immense organizations, restless as they are for some great activity-- some mission?
The next plane of labor, lower than spiritual work, is moral or social or political reform work. For activities in these directions, doctrines are unnecessary,
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or at least easily avoidable. The faith of a Buddhist, or a Brahmin, or a Christian, need not interfere if the holder thereof will sink every other ambition and work, and devote himself solely to the reform work. But which of these phases of reform work will it probably decide on--the moral, the social, or the political?
These three reforms, all good, are more or less near to religion and spiritual things. Moral reform probably comes nearest--lifting up the depraved and fallen, is next, we may say, to preaching the gospel, because it helps often to prepare the way for the gospel. In fact, moral reformers often rank their work far above the commission given by our Lord--"Preach the gospel to the meek." But the Young People's Societies are not likely to take up that field as their mission; because it is already fairly well occupied. They will want a new work, which will show as distinctly theirs.
The second reform in nearness to religion would naturally be social reform. This is a large field, in which great good to a great number would be possible, if five million Christian men and women were to take hold of it. The world's social conditions sadly need an uplift--the poor need a protecting arm, to help ward off the pinch and grind coming as a result of invention, over-production and monopolies. But this field is apt to be left to Socialists, Populists and Anarchists; for the "Young People" generally feel that they and their benefactors belong to the other side of the question.
This still leaves the door of political reform open; and we incline to believe that these societies will decide that in that direction lies their mission. In some places they are already beginning this work; and of course there are politicians who will be glad of their co-operation, and who will teach them how to make this movement somewhat of a success. But where will this leave the more spiritual work and doctrine and faith within ten years? They will evidently be obsolete --abandoned. The reform movements will come gradually to be considered the real gospel to the world. And the world will, of course, approve the change; for it never has comprehended spiritual things; these and the cross of Christ have always been foolishness unto it.--`1 Cor. 2:12-14`.
* * *
Many of the C.E. Societies have adopted yells, similar to those used by college students, and these were freely poured forth as the delegations gathered at their Convention and en route. A published report of the Convention, for instance, says:
"The Colorado delegation came in with a ringing yell:
"Pike's Peak, or Bust!
Pike's Peak, or Bust!
Yell we must!"
The editor of one of the Pacific coast journals writes of the Convention delegates under the caption, "Christians Who Yell," as follows:
"There is no other body in the country like that of the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor. It is strictly a religious organization, but it is the best exemplification of muscular Christianity that ever appealed to robust piety. There is nothing sanctimonious about its members or sniveling about its methods. It unites good fellowship with Christian brotherhood, with no affectation of manner, speech or action.
"There is no other religious fraternity which goes to a convention with a college yell and a whoop. The war cry of the Spokane Club: 'Who can? We can, Spokane, Wash., Wash., Wash.,' is not only funny, but it is vastly superior to the ordinary run of baseball club and college yells, which are, indeed, frequently idiotic. The Colorado delegation also has a yell which must be very effective when uttered by a large body.
"The Christian Endeavorers have done more than any other organization to bring into the ranks of a Christian society young men and young women, and especially young men, who are ordinarily disinclined to be regarded as 'good' in the sense of being pious. There are some things which no amount of argument will change, and one of them is the suspicion and even dislike which attaches to too many young men who assume to be leaders in church work. Pastors know this, if they know anything in the world, and young men who are not professing Christians, although they may be good enough as the world goes, also know it. Although the Christian Endeavorers have been the most successful in the new departure, other organizations are awakening to the difficulty which they really have to overcome. The establishment of athletic clubs by the Y.M.C.A., for instance, has done much to impart a manlier tone to the members of that body.
"When, in order to be an acceptable member of a church organization, it is no longer necessary to wear a sanctimonious look and speak with a nasal twang, when a young man feels that he is no longer derided because he is an active church worker or a Sunday school teacher, it will be a great deal better for the churches, and we shall not hear that wail about the worldliness of the present generation. Men with fifty years of experience in English-speaking countries, at least, are aware that there has been a great improvement in the morals of the average young man. The number of those who are addicted to intoxicating drinks in an excessive degree is much smaller, and the experience of physicians is that there is much less unhealthiness due to preventable causes than there used to be, and the number of stalwart Christians who do not belong to churches is greater.
"The chief cause of this change is the realization by many pastors of the fact that all that is worldly is not vicious; there are songs which are harmless, although they are not hymns; amusements which are not sinful, although they are not strictly in the line of
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church work. Dancing is no longer condemned as it used to be, nor is whist regarded as an occupation invented by the devil. There never was a time when flirting could be entirely prevented, even by the most rigid disciplinarian and in the most Puritan communities, but it was regarded as a sin by the mistaken judgment of ministers."
* * *
The writer of the foregoing likes the change which he notices, and as much as says that he himself never was one of the over-pious, and is glad to find those of his mind greatly on the increase in numbers and influence. But Christians who have learned the way to God and the "narrow way" of discipleship in following the footsteps of Christ, will take a wholly different view of the change.
If these were claiming to be merely moral or social clubs, there would be no grounds for objection. The objection is to the desecration of the name Christian, to the erroneous thought that every man and woman who does not steal, nor get drunk, nor use vile and profane language, and who is moral and honorable, is therefore a Christian.
Here the ignoring of doctrines has a bad effect. If the doctrines of Free Grace and Election must be avoided, and if it is right to avoid and ignore them, then may not the entire subject of grace be ignored? and may not all faith be ignored as a standard by those who bear the name of Christ? This certainly is the tendency, not only of the young people, but also amongst the older Christians of all denominations. But all who see the Scriptural definition of a Christian falling into disuse and contempt, should be the more careful to hold firmly to "the faith once delivered to the saints," viz., that the steps into "the body of Christ, which is the [true] Church" are (1) Faith in the efficacy of the precious blood of Christ, shed for the remission of sins; (2) acceptance thereof with repentance and reformation: and (3) an unreserved consecration of every talent to the Lord's service.
The reason for such a falling away from doctrine is not difficult to find. It is because the doctrines of God's Word were so terribly mixed with God-dishonoring human traditions. For instance, the doctrine that an eternity of torment awaits all who are not of the elect, has brought the Scriptural doctrines of "an election according to favor" and the perseverance of the saints into disrepute. Intelligent people say to themselves, the saintly are few, the decent, moral and semi-moral are many. These are too decent and
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too good to be everlastingly tormented after death, and we must therefore suppose that they will go to heaven. And the next argument is, If they will go to heaven, can they go there without being Christians? The third step is to claim that they are Christians, and a letting down of all the terms and conditions of Christianity --on the score that if a moralist is a Christian, and will gain the reward of heaven, no one need be required to be more. Thus, the blasphemous doctrine of everlasting torment, foreign to God's Word, and invented during the dark ages, is rapidly destroying the Scriptural doctrine of the necessity of making our calling and election sure by faithfulness and holiness unto the Lord.
* * *
The "Cincinnati Post" gives the figures of a statistician, who has estimated the cost of four conventions of Young People's Societies this year, as follows:
Christian Endeavor Convention, fares etc..$2,875,000
Baptist Young People's Convention, fares,
Epworth League Convention, fares, etc..... 1,700,000
Brotherhood of St. Andrew Convention,
fares, etc............................... 200,000
The Post's article concludes by saying:
"The aggregate sum equals the contributions of all Protestant denominations for Foreign Missions."
The following statement by Mr. W. N. Coler, just returned from Japan, is significant, and fully in line with the foregoing--only "broader." He said:
"In Japan there is much talk of getting up a new religion. Japanese students and thinkers are studying religion as a practical problem, which they believe will throw much light on the question they are now asking, 'Why has the West gone so far ahead of the East in civilization?'
"They are reaching the conclusion that strict morality has much to do with it, and a large body of advanced thinkers are seriously considering the proposition of getting up a new religion.
"It is proposed to do this by dissecting the Christian and Buddhist religions and Confucianism and uniting the best doctrines and principles of each into the new system.
"In Tokyo and other Japanese cities all the religions are being liberally discussed. I think they are getting to the point of believing that the Christian religion is the most civil of them all, though believing in the principle of evolution and improvement."
Mr. Coler believes that the result of missionary work in India, China and Japan has been to detach many orientals among thinking classes from Buddhism, and has made them free thinkers, who will readily attach themselves to a new religion embracing the best points of the religions named.
MOHAMMEDANS INSOLENT AND BLOODTHIRSTY.
The success of Turkey in the recent war with Greece, has a tendency to encourage the followers of Mahomet to hope that they may yet conquer Christendom
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and the world, "for Allah and his prophet." We quote from a New York "World" a cablegram as follows:
"Sayid Rayhan Allah (the Mollah) has planned the extermination of all the Hebrews in Persia. He has summoned the chief rabbi, and informed him that the Hebrews must accept the Mahometan faith, or he will do all that he can to oppress and exterminate them.
"Sayid Rayhan has formulated the following restrictions:
"Every Hebrew must have all of his hair cut off, must never ride an animal throughout the city, must wear European dress, and must wear a mark to distinguish him from the Mahometan.
"'Hebrew women must veil. They must not wear the chador, or chaghchoor, the outdoor dress which Persian etiquette expects of every woman.
"'A Hebrew must not build a house higher than that of his Mahometan neighbor. The entrance to the house must be distinguished from the Moslem's. He is not to come out of his house on a rainy day, and is not to touch articles of food.
"'When a Hebrew dies, any relative who is a convert to Mahometanism may possess all his property.
"'A Hebrew who, having once accepted Islam, renounced it, will be put to death.'"
Poor Jews! Much of Jacob's trouble lies yet ahead, before the faithful are gathered back to Palestine, there to have the eyes of their understanding opened to recognize him whom they pierced, and to mourn for him and to be accepted.
The Zionist movement, noted in our last issue, although strong and very popular with some Jews, is opposed by others, as likely to bring greater persecution.
For fear of persecution, it has been decided that the convention will be held in Switzerland, instead of in Germany, as first proposed.
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Wild shrieks the wind, how rough's the way!
But, see, one star's alight!
Up! let us follow, where its ray
Strikes through the shuddering night
O'er yonder roof, serene and clear.
And hark! what music is't we hear?
My heart scarce beats, my steps are slow,
Almost I faint and die:
Sick, worn, benumbed amidst the snow,
Ah! what a pilgrim I!
Yet will I follow stagg'ring on,
Ere light and music both be gone.
For One waits there, the only one,
Who knows my heart and me;
All that I am, all I have done,
All I may chance to be:
Who will not spurn the piteous thing,
The sole, best offering I can bring:
Who will not chide me, poor and late,
Nor scorn my sorry wit;
Who will not fling me to my fate--
O God, the thought of it!
Once that I look in those dear eyes,
What virtues shall my soul surprise!
Then up, my heart, gather thy strength
A little longer! see,
Almost our journeying ends; at length
Almost at home are we:
Sheltered, my heart, from storm and night
In that Friend's house of sure delight!
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COVERED SINS TO BE BLOTTED OUT.
MANY make the mistake of confounding the "blotting out" of sins with the covering of sins; but the two thoughts are distinctly separate. The covering of sins takes place instantaneously, as soon as the believer has repentantly accepted of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. This covering of sin, and of all the blemishes of the believer is symbolically represented as accomplished by his putting on the "wedding garment," the pure robe of Christ's righteousness imputed to true believers. This constitutes the justification by faith of which the Apostle speaks, saying, "David describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works [righteousness which he had not worked out] saying, 'Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.'"--`Rom. 4:6-8`.
While it brings to the believer joy and peace to realize that his imperfections are covered, and not permitted to hinder his approach to the Heavenly Father, he nevertheless properly battles against those imperfections, a continual warfare--the newly-begotten and renewed or transformed mind being resisted by the natural, depraved will of the flesh. But, nevertheless, every true child of God, rightly instructed from the Father's Word, is distinctly looking forward to the end of his warfare-probation, when his "covered" sins and weaknesses shall all be "blotted out."
This blotting out of sins, so far as the overcoming
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Church is concerned, will not be completed until the first resurrection has been completed; for, as the work of grace began by the covering of the imperfections of the flesh for believers, it will end with the complete destruction of the flesh in death, and the raising of the elect Church spiritual bodies, free from all the blemishes and imperfections which belong to these present, mortal bodies. Now the consecrated "have this treasure [the new nature] in earthen vessels:" and all know how seriously marred is every one of these vessels, so that our very best intentions and desires are liable to have more or less of blemish or imperfection, when viewed from the Divine standpoint. But by-and-by this treasure, the new will, the new creature in Christ Jesus, will be delivered into the perfect condition, the new spiritual bodies, described by the Apostle (`1 Cor. 15:42-44,48-50`), saying: "Thus also is the resurrection of the dead [the first or chief resurrection of the overcoming class amongst the dead]...It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption"--all the marks and blemishes of sin which belong to the earthen vessel will be destroyed, "blotted out." When buried in death, the Church is actually imperfect, dishonorable and weak, except as her Lord's robe of righteousness is her covering, and his strength is made perfect in her weakness. But all these dishonorable, weak and imperfect conditions now covered are to be completely and everlastingly blotted out with the passing of the present life; for the promise to the overcomers is, "It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown an animal body, it is raised a spiritual body"--the image of the heavenly one, our Lord.
It was in harmony with this view of matters that the Apostle wrote "We [the newly begotten spirit beings, the Church] while in this tabernacle [earthly body] do groan; not that we desire to be unclothed [that we should lose our imperfect human bodies in death, and be obliged to wait or 'sleep in Jesus' until his second coming]; but that we might be clothed upon with our heavenly house [or spiritual bodies]"-- experience the blessings of a participation in Christ's resurrection--the first resurrection.--`Phil. 3:10-12`; `Rev. 20:6`.
The Apostle had in mind the same earnest desire of the spirit-begotten ones for the completion of the work of grace in them at the resurrection, when he said: "Ourselves, also, which have the first fruits of the spirit, even we groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption --to wit, the deliverance of our body--[the Church --from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of full sonship]." `Rom. 8:23`. The "wedding garment" of Christ's imputed righteousness, under which are granted to us all the privileges of sons without removing our weaknesses and frailties, leaves us to wage a warfare with these, thus to prove our love of righteousness and our faithfulness to the commands of "him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light," and to become sharers of his sufferings, and of the glories to follow. Through the merit of
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our robe we were begotten to the new mind, the new nature; and it will serve every purpose until such times as we shall have proved ourselves faithful as new creatures, and shall be permitted to pass from the probationary sonship to the enjoyment of the full measure of the Father's blessing and complete adoption into his family and nature. But there, at the moment of transition, when being received from the begotten and probationary stage of sonship into the everlasting state, it is eminently proper, and all that we would ask or desire, that every trace of the hitherto covered and forgiven sins and blemishes should be blotted out, and no longer need covering. And all this is a part of the Divine provision for those who love God, "the [faithful] called ones according to his purpose." Then, it will be that that which is perfect having come, "that which is in part [our present standing graciously covered with Christ's imputed righteousness, covering our defects] will be done away."
"Oh, hail happy day!
That ends our tears and sorrows,
That brings us joy without alloy;
Oh, hail happy day!
No more by doubts and fears distressed,
We now shall gain our promised rest,
And be forever blest,
Oh, hail happy day!"
The tears and sorrows and battlings in strife against the world, the flesh and the devil are all very necessary in the present time; and we should neither hope nor expect to be crowned as victors, without passing through such experiences. In this battle, we learn not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think; we learn of our own weaknesses and imperfections and our need to walk closely with the Lord, if we would keep our garments unspotted from the world. We learn also to trust his grace, and that "our sufficiency is of God." We learn that "greater is he who is on our part than all they that be against us." We learn that the victory that overcometh the world is neither the strength and perfection of our flesh, nor merely the strong resolution of our minds, but the latter helped and strengthened by him who assures us that his strength can be perfected in our weakness. It is here that we learn that all things are working together for good to them that love God.
In this battle with the world, the flesh and the devil
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we learn also to appreciate the whole armor of God: the value of the "helmet of salvation," the intellectual appreciation of the Divine plan and promises; the value of the "breastplate of righteousness," Christ's righteousness covering our most vital parts; the value of "the shield of faith," which is able to quench all the fiery darts of the Adversary; and the invincible quality and sharpness of "the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God"; and to put on the preparation of the gospel in a meek, patient and quiet spirit, which, as sandals, permits us to pass over the sharpest difficulties of life successfully. In this conflict we learn to cultivate the graces of the spirit, through many trials and temptations; which though for the time being are not pleasant but grievous, nevertheless work out for all who are rightly exercised thereby, "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
The Apostle in our text declares that the blotting out of the Church's sin shall be in connection with "times of refreshing" or spirit outpouring, at the second advent of our Lord. How consistent this is with reason, and with all the facts of the case: it was after our Lord Jesus had bought us with his precious blood that the Heavenly Father granted to his Church a great blessing, a season of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, at Pentecost, as marking his approval of all covered by the "wedding garment," and as a foretaste of his greater blessing, to be bestowed when her trial would be complete, and the sins actually blotted out. That season of Pentecostal refreshing from the Divine presence, under the blessed influence of which Peter was preaching when he used the words of our text, was only an earnest or hand-payment of the great perfect refreshment and spirit-energizing that will come to the Lord's people at the farther end of the narrow way, when the Bridegroom shall come to receive to his nature and his throne and to confess her before his Father and the holy angels. As the Apostle intimates in our text, the very first work then will be the complete blotting out of the Church's sins, in the first resurrection.
And immediately following this perfecting of the Church will come a work for the world--"times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began." This signifies a similar blessing (blotting out of sins) upon all the world of mankind, who shall then, after being brought to a knowledge of the truth, obediently accept the Divine mercy under the terms of the New Covenant. Since man as originally created was in the moral likeness of his Creator, but has lost that likeness by the blemishes of sin, restitution to the likeness lost, would signify the blotting out of those blemishes wrought by sin. But there will be a great difference between the blotting out of the sins of the obedient, overcoming Church and the blotting out of the sins of the obedient ones of the world. The Church's sins will be instantly blotted out in the moment of the resurrection; the world's sins will be gradually blotted out during the period of Christ's reign--during the Millennium. The terms and conditions will be different also. While the Church has her sins and imperfections covered during the period of her trial, and does not have her efforts to overcome the weaknesses of the flesh rewarded by physical restitution, but is rewarded instantaneously at the end of her race, according to her faith and her endeavors to conquer, the obedient of the world, in the next age, will, on the contrary, have their sins blotted out, not as the reward of faith and effort merely; but as the reward of successful and continuous effort, which will then be possible, and be rewarded step by step with restitution blessings or the gradual blotting out of sins.
Describing the judgment (trial) of the world during the Millennial Age, our Lord shows that all will then be "judged according to their works"--not according to their faith, as the Church is now being judged. (`Rev. 20:12,13`; `1 Jno. 5:4`.) Faith, which is now difficult and therefore highly rewarded, will by and by, when the mists have rolled away, be the most easy and only reasonable thing; and while it will be required, being easy it will not be specially rewarded as now. And perfect works, which under present conditions are impossible with all our efforts, because of our blemished bodies, will then be the standard for which and toward which all who attain to everlasting life will be required to labor, building up character in breaking off evil propensities and in bringing themselves into full accord with righteousness in thought, word and deed. And under the favorable conditions of that time, a restitutionary blessing will be present to reward every effort, not only with an upbuilding of moral character and will-power, but also with proportionate strength and upbuilding of the mental and physical powers.
Thus, item by item and step by step, throughout the Millennial Age, the worthy ones of the world will be helped out of their weakness and imperfections, back to the perfection originally lost by the disobedience of father Adam, the right to return to which (by the cancellation of Adam's sentence) was secured by the ransom-price given by our Redeemer. And since every victory over self and sin and imperfection will be promptly rewarded, it will be rightly seen that the blotting out of the world's sins will gradually progress little by little, until at the close of the Millennial Age, all who have been willing to hear and obey the voice of the Great Prophet (Head and Body), will have attained to an unblemished perfection, mental,
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physical and moral, with none of the blemishes of sin remaining.
Mankind, as originally created, as represented in father Adam before his transgression, was in the image of God: the mind, the will, the judgment were true copies of the Lord's; and thus it might properly be said that Adam had the law of God written in his heart, in his head, in his very organization. But, this Divine likeness has been marred, ruined by the fall. Man's organization, mental and moral, can no longer be said to be in the image of God. The selfish qualities have grown at the expense of the moral and intellectual qualities, so that he is very unlike his Creator, and his own original, as represented in Adam. But God's promise is that when he begins to deal with the world under the New Covenant in the hands of the Great Mediator, a great work will be accomplished for all the families of the earth who will obey him through the then exalted seed of Abraham; until all shall be blessed and be permitted to become God's people-- "Israelites indeed," children of Abraham through faith --multitudinous as the sands of the sea.
Then will be fulfilled the promise of the Lord (`Jer. 31:29-34`), that they who die will die for their own iniquity, and not as now, for Adam's iniquity. And under the conditions of the new covenant, the Great Mediator of that covenant will re-write the law of God in the hearts of the repentant ones, as it originally was in the heart and very organism of Adam before his transgression: as it is written, "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people." This promise does not apply to the present time, but indicates the completed results of the Millennial work, when the willing and obedient of mankind shall have been brought to perfection; all their iniquities and sins being blotted out. This is shown by the context, which says, "They shall teach no more every man his
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neighbor and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord'; for they shall all know him, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more."
This blotting out of sins for the world during the Millennial Age will begin with Israel according to the flesh; "to the Jew, first." So the Apostle informs us in so many words. Read `Romans 11:25-29`. As spiritual Israel is the first-fruits of all God's creatures, the first to enter into the fullness of his blessing and be recovered from death, so natural Israel is to constitute the first-fruits of the nations to be saved from the blinding influences of the Adversary, and to be granted a blessing under the New Covenant.
But, the blessing which begins with the return of fleshly Israel to Divine favor, will not end with them; for as the casting away of Israel under Divine providence resulted in the bringing in of some from amongst the Gentiles to be joint-heirs in the Abrahamic promise and covenant, so the blessing of Israel under the New Covenant means, not only an opportunity of life from the dead to them, but also a similar blessing of opportunity for all the families of the earth; because it is through the seed of Abraham (first the spiritual, secondly, the natural) that all the families of the earth are to be blessed with an opportunity of becoming children of Abraham, who is the "father" of all who are faithful to God. Thus, eventually, there shall none remain except the seed of Abraham, first the spiritual seed as the stars of heaven, and secondly, the earthly seed, as the sands of the seashore, all partakers of father Abraham's faith and obedience. See `Romans 11:12,15`.
The original perfection of mankind (father Adam) and the fall were symbolically represented in the first tables of the Law which God himself prepared and wrote, but which were broken, because of sin; they also represented the Law Covenant, and how it was a failure, broken so far as the people of Israel were concerned. The hewing out of the new tables of stone, whereon to rewrite the Law of God, symbolized the preparation of mankind, through the justification accomplished by the sacrifice of Christ. And not only was the preparation of the second tablets the work of Moses (type of Christ, Head and Body), but also the second writing of the law on those tables was the work of Moses and typified the work of Christ (Head and Body) during the Millennial Age--the engraving of the Law of God in the very hearts and constitutions of all of mankind, willing to submit to his gracious hands.
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"I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU."
--AUGUST 8.--`1 THESS. 4:9-5:2`.--
WHILE our lesson deals chiefly with the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is introduced with a description of the class who will rejoice in his second coming, and with good reason. The Apostle (`vs. 9-12`) points out some of the true characteristics of those to whom he elsewhere says, "Ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief; ye are all children of the light, and children of the day."
An essential of Christian character is "the love of
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God," "the love of Christ," extending to all the household of faith possessed of his spirit; and a spirit of sympathy toward the entire "groaning creation."
Although the Church at Thessalonica was composed of those who in respect to length of Christian experience were but "babes in Christ," yet very evidently the persecution which had come upon them had caused them to grow very rapidly. It was but a year since they had received the gospel, and yet the Apostle witnesses to their rapid development, as evidenced by their love one for the other; and not only love for the company at Thessalonica, but the breadth of their love extending to and manifesting an interest in all of the household of faith throughout the Province of Macedonia. The Apostle declares that this love of the brethren was a manifestation of the fact that they had been "taught of God." This reminds us of the statement of another apostle, "He that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen."
One of the first effects of a knowledge of the grace of God in Christ, and of a full, thorough consecration to the Lord, is this love for all fellow-servants--"brethren." Would that the fervency and zeal of first love, both toward the Lord and toward the entire household of faith, might not only continue, but increase with all. But alas! many who start warmly and earnestly grow lukewarm--become captious, cynical, hypercritical, high-minded and self-assertive--and lose much of the simplicity, zeal and humility of their first faith and first love. This is the first attack of the great adversary through the weaknesses of the flesh, to re-ensnare those who have escaped his chains of darkness, and gotten to see some of the glory of God shining through Christ. If they do not resist these temptations, the effect is sure to be not only lukewarmness toward the Lord and his cause and the members of his body, but eventually the cultivation of the fruits of darkness, envy, malice, hatred, strife, instead of the fruits of the spirit of Christ, meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly love and kindness. Hence, the Apostle urges the Church, "We beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more," in love and service one for the other, which imply a growth in all the graces of the Spirit.
The expression "that ye study to be quiet" might be rendered literally "that ye be ambitious to be quiet," or that ye have a quiet ambition--not a restless bustling for notoriety and great exploits, but a quiet earnest perseverance in well-doing; in which condition the fruits and graces of the Spirit thrive best. They were to be ambitious also to attend to their own affairs, and to work with their own hands: home and family duties were not to be neglected. The religion of Christ is designed to enter into and blend with all the proper duties, perplexities, trials and pleasures of the home and family; and thus the majority can best let shine the light which they have received from the Lord.
True, the light received will make a great change in many of the affairs of the home. It sets before us new ideals to be esteemed and to be copied. It introduces us to a new relationship, a new kindred--the family of God--and thus brings some new responsibilities and privileges. And if filled with the spirit of the truth, with love toward God and all who have any of his likeness, it will make us very zealous in the dispensing of the grace of God, which has brought so much blessing to our own hearts. But, we should not consider it necessarily the Lord's will that we all should go forth as public teachers, abandoning entirely our homes, trades, duties, responsibilities, etc.
The Lord's call will never conflict with proper duties and responsibilities previously upon us. The man or the woman who has a family to provide for should not think of leaving such obligations, nor consider himself called to public preaching, if it would imply the neglect of duties and obligations already resting upon him. He or she, however, should quietly and thankfully be ambitious to do all in the Divine service that a proper regard for others dependent upon them would permit. On the other hand, those who are free to give time and energy to the Lord's service, and who have talents, should when they receive the truth, humbly present their all to the Lord and seek to use their every opportunity in his service as he shall open the way; and such consecrated ones should be very careful that they do not encumber themselves so as to hinder usefulness in such service.
Not only have we duties and a ministry toward every member of the body of Christ, but (`v. 12`) we have certain responsibilities toward those who are without --in darkness, out of Christ. The Christian is to be a burning and shining light toward the world. The world sees not from the inside, as does the household of faith, but merely from the outside; hence the necessity that Christians should so live before the world as to be "living epistles, known and read of all men," honoring to the Lord and to the teachings of his Word. The Apostle's statement really is "walk honorably toward them that are without." The Christian life should be seen by the world, not merely as just and honest, but also as noble and honorable. There are honest people who are mean, truthful people who tell the truth in a combative and repellant manner; in the true Christian, love should produce so generous a sentiment as would ennoble every virtue. In other words, as the same Apostle expressed it, "He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity (without ostentation)"; "he that ruleth, with diligence"; "he that showeth
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mercy, with cheerfulness," etc., `Rom. 12:7-20`.
To this end, also, the Christian should strive "to have need of nothing"--So far as possible not to be dependent upon charity--but, rather, as the Apostle elsewhere states it, in harmony with the foregoing, he should "labor, working with his hands at useful employment [not to accumulate great wealth, but] that he may have to give to him that needeth." (`Eph. 4:28`.) The Lord's instruction to fleshly Israel that they should lend, but should not borrow, may well be applied in principle by spiritual Israel. And this principle applies to buying on credit; which should be avoided by the Lord's people, and as a rule would be found advantageous
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to mankind in general.
"THEM THAT SLEEP IN JESUS."
Having given us some general idea respecting the brethren, their general character, etc., the Apostle proceeds to speak of their hopes. Under the Apostle's instruction, supplemented by Timothy's, the Church at Thessalonica had in a very short time attained a considerable knowledge of the Divine plan; much more apparently than is enjoyed by a majority of Christian congregations to-day. For instance, (1) They knew what many to-day are ignorant of, that their hope centered in the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and their being gathered to him then. (2) They knew that their friends who had died were "asleep," and their hope was that they would be awakened from the sleep of death by the Lord at his second coming. Realizing that all hopes of eternal life depended upon the second coming of the Lord as the great Life-giver, there was no danger that the early Church should ever lose sight of this inspiring hope set before us in the gospel. And it is because this fact (that the dead "sleep" and cannot be awakened until the second advent) has been lost sight of for several centuries past, that faith in and hope for the Lord's second coming has so generally languished. It has come to be generally believed by Christian people that the dead do not "sleep," but are more awake than they ever were--that they go to heaven or to hell in the moment of dissolution; and that these conditions are permanent, unalterable. With such unscriptural thoughts before their minds, who can wonder that to them the second coming of the Lord is an event without special interest; and hence regarded lightly, and by many wholly disbelieved, and declared to be a useless, uninteresting and pernicious faith.
However, "the brethren," who have been instructed by the Word of the Lord, and who do not follow "cunningly devised fables" originated by the deceiver, find that the Scriptures as a whole from Genesis to Revelation are illuminated with the grand hope of the coming of Messiah in glory and power, to establish his kingdom of righteousness in the earth, and to awaken and lift up those who have fallen under the hand of death; to give beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness--to as many as will accept his blessing, under the terms of the New Covenant sealed at Calvary with his own precious blood.
The penalty against our race, as originally pronounced, was not a sleep of death, for a few days or for a few centuries; on the contrary, it was absolute death --destruction. But God had purposed a redemption from the curse of death, and for this purpose Christ Jesus came into the world and died, the just one for the unjust, that he might bring us to God--back to Divine favor, where the gift of God, eternal life, will be a possibility to the obedient. Ever since the ransom-price was paid at Calvary, and its acceptance manifested at Pentecost, it has been proper to regard the whole world as being no longer dead--wholly cut off from life--but as merely sleeping--waiting for the return of the Redeemer as the Awakener, Vivifier, Life-giver.
In this sense of the word, all mankind, redeemed by the precious blood, may be said to "sleep in Jesus"; because, by his death Jesus bought the world, and secured for all another trial for life (instead of the one lost by father Adam through disobedience). And Jesus himself declared that as a consequence of his being lifted up as the great sin-offering upon the cross, he will yet "draw" all men unto him--thus showing that the world is not to be considered as dead, extinct, but as merely "asleep," waiting for the drawing time foreordained of the Father, and provided for by the ransom for all. This drawing, like the drawing exerted for the selection of the Church, will be through a knowledge of the truth, and signifies that all mankind will ultimately be made aware of God's gracious provision, under which if they will (when brought to a knowledge of the truth), they may obtain life everlasting. Since the majority of mankind went into death before the ransom was paid, this implies an awakening from death in order that they may be drawn or come to a knowledge of the truth. In harmony with this are the words of our Lord, that the hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and come forth; and then they that hear (obey) shall live (everlastingly).
All have been redeemed by Jesus, who "gave his life a ransom for all"; and the fact that their death-sentence has been met, paid by the Redeemer, makes it proper that they may now be spoken of as "asleep in Jesus," instead of as being dead in Adam. The fact that many of them did not know of their redemption would work no greater hindrance than the fact that many of the same ones had no knowledge in particular of the original
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sentence through Adam--they came under Adamic sentence without choice or knowledge, and latterly came under the benefits of the redemption similarly without choice or knowledge--`Rom. 5:18`.
That the Apostle in this connection in the use of the words "them also which sleep in Jesus," does not refer merely to the saints is very evident, when we remember that the gospel had only been preached at Thessalonica for one year, and that in that year not very many of the saints could have died. When we remember further that the saints are not very generally related, according to the flesh, we can readily see that in appealing to their hopes that they should sorrow not as others, the Apostle must have meant not only hopes for the saints, but also hopes for all of their friends who died--including those who had previously died. If their hopes were merely for the saints, and if they believed that all others were hopelessly and everlastingly lost, it would be in vain that the Apostle would appeal to them not to sorrow as others who have no hope; for, such bad hopes respecting the great majority of their dying and dead friends and relatives would be a cause for more sorrow than they or any other heathens could have had when they had no knowledge, and no definite hopes.
This is set forth by the Apostle (`v. 14`): he points out that our faith is built upon the fact, (1) that Christ died; and (2) that he rose again. He died for our sins, "and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (`1 John 2:2`). His resurrection is an evidence that his sacrifice was acceptable on behalf not only of his Church, but also on behalf of all for whom he died; and it becomes a guarantee or pledge, not only of God's gracious proposition, that he will in his own due time establish Christ and his Church as his kingdom, but a guarantee, also, of the further promise that Christ's kingdom when established shall "bless all the families of the earth," with "the knowledge of the truth." Believing this, we are bound to believe also that all who were redeemed by his precious blood shall, according to his promise, yet come forth from the sleep of death to hear his Word as the great Law-giver of the new dispensation; and by obedience to it, under the New Covenant, sealed by the precious blood, to have if they will the gift of God, eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (See `Acts 3:22,23`.) As God accepted the sacrifice of Christ and raised him from the dead, even so, them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring [from the sleep of death] with him--through his instrumentality.
But let us not confound this thought of the future of the whole world being changed from "death" to "sleep" by the ransom which Jesus gave for all, with the very different expression "new creatures in Christ," and "the dead in Christ," expressions which are applicable to the elect Church only.
IN JESUS, VS. IN CHRIST.
Many will notice at a glance that the name Jesus, which signifies Saviour, has special applicability to the ransom and restitution features of our Lord's work, while the name Christ is the title of his kingly office. The call to "be baptized into Jesus Christ" (the anointed) is an offer which is restricted to the "called and chosen and faithful," "elect" Church of this Gospel age; but the redemptive benefits covered by the name Jesus are "for all," for "every man," for "whosoever will" accept those mercies on New Covenant conditions.
So, then, in the language of the Apostle, we exhort Christians that in respect to all their dead, in Christ and out of Christ--new creatures and old creatures, those enlightened and blessed by the marvelous light of the gospel, and those who have died while yet blinded to the truth by "the god of this world," that they sorrow not as others who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died for all, and that he has risen, and that all the dead on this account are to be reckoned as sleeping, waiting for his return and his exaltation with his elect bride in glory; and that then all whom God counts as asleep in or on account of or through him and his work, shall be also brought from the dead.
And few have noticed the frequency with which the Scriptures use this word "sleep." Notice that it is used three times in three successive verses in this lesson. Notice also the following instances: `Jno. 11:11,12`; `Acts 7:60`; `13:13,36`; `2 Peter 3:4`; `1 Cor. 15:6,13-18,20,51`; `Matt. 9:24`; `13:25`; `25:5`; `Mark 5:39`; `Luke 8:52`; `1 Thess. 5:10`; `Matt. 27:52`; `1 Cor. 11:30`.
These instances of the use of the word sleep, instead of the word death, are all from the New Testament, and used in full view of the ransom by which all were redeemed from the Adamic sentence, and a majority of them after the sacrifice had been given. What was the custom previously? Looking back we find `Daniel (12:1-3`) prophetically speaking of those who "sleep in the dust of the earth," and describing
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the sleepers as of two classes--some who will awake to everlasting life, and some to shame--the latter representing those whose trial will take place during the Millennium. And similarly of the kings and prophets one after another, good and bad, it is declared he "slept with his fathers."
The basis for this expression and of the faith in a future life which it implied is explained by our Lord saying, "That the dead are [to be] raised, even Moses showed at the bush" (`Luke 20:37`). "Have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him
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saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (`Mark 12:26`). "He is not a God of the dead [the extinct, for whom no future is designed] but [he is the God] of the living, because all live unto him" (`Luke 20:38`). It was as a result of this lesson the Jews thereafter spoke of their dead as "asleep," and "waiting for the morning" to be "awakened." And, be it noticed, God's grounds for speaking of humanity as yet having a hope of life beyond the grave, rests not upon any change of the sentence from death (extinction) to a profound "sleep" for a period, but upon his predetermined plan to provide a Savior who would redeem or purchase back for Adam and all his race "that which was lost" of privilege of life everlasting in harmony with God.
If, then, sentence of death which came upon all men by Adam's transgression is changed to a sleep, through whom came the change? We answer, It is in or through Jesus that they may now be said to sleep; because his sacrifice is the ground for the expression "sleep."
Having spoken of the general hopes of the entire "groaning creation" which all centre in the second coming of our Lord, the Apostle delivers, not an opinion or a guess, but a special message, to the effect that the sleeping saints will suffer no less by reason of having fallen asleep, but that, on the contrary, they will be granted a priority over the living saints, in that they will be "changed," "glorified," be like and see the Lord, and share his glory, before those of the same class who are alive at that time. Elsewhere we have given at considerable length our reasons for believing that the shout, the voice and the trumpet here mentioned by the Apostle are symbols, as in other parts of the Scriptures--for instance, the shouts, voices and trumpets of Revelation, connected with the same topic. See Millennial Dawn, Vol. II., chapter V., particularly pages 143-150.
It would appear that the Church at Thessalonica had been studying this subject of the Lord's second coming, and were fearful lest some of them might "fall asleep" before his coming, and were doubtful as to how much of the blessing might thus be lost by them, as well as solicitous for their friends, hence the Apostle says, "Comfort one another" with these words.
We here notice that the word coming in `verse fifteen` is in the Greek parousia, which really does not have the significance of our English word "coming," but instead signifies presence--after arrival--giving the thought that the Lord will be present before the dead in Christ are "raised," although that will be prior to the "change" of the living. This, as well as many other Scriptures, indicate distinctly that the Lord's presence will not be manifest, visible, to the world during this time; as our Lord said before he went away, "Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more." This thought is emphasized by the Apostle's subsequent remarks respecting the day of the Lord, and the fact that the world would not know of it, but only the "brethren" who were "not in darkness."
It speaks well for the rapid growth in knowledge on the part of the Church at Thessalonica that the Apostle could say to them, "Of the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you: for yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night; and when they [the world, unbelievers] shall say, Peace and safety! then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape; but, "ye brethren, are not in darkness that that day shall overtake you as a thief." How definitely the Apostle here separates the body of Christ, the Church, from the world; and how particularly he shows that the one class may, will, must have knowledge on this subject, while the other class must be in ignorance on the same subject. And that subject is a knowledge of the day of the Lord--the day of the Lord's presence--"the harvest" or end of this age, in which the great Chief Reaper will not only gather the sleeping ones first, but proceed also to seal and to gather all the living ones of the elect class, who shall be accounted worthy to escape the great things that are about to come upon the world, in the great time of trouble which will dissolve present institutions and make ready for the establishment of Christ and his little flock of joint-heirs, as the heavenly kingdom.
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SELF-DENIAL IN THE INTEREST OF OTHERS
--AUGUST 15.--`1 COR. 8:1-13`.--
GOD'S Word, both of the Old and New Testaments, has been, and yet is, the very cornerstone of human liberty and independence. Every other system of religion has tended more or less to fetter the mind and the conscience with priestcraft and superstition. And the various so-called Christian religions, from Roman and Greek Catholicisms down, have likewise tended toward priestcraft, superstition and conscience-bondage, in proportion as they have ignored the teachings of God's Word, substituting therefor the "traditions of the elders," Decrees of Councils, theological dogmas, etc. As we look over the world to-day,
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it is an unquestionable fact that the largest liberty, social, political and mental is possessed by the peoples who have the Bible, and who read it freely. And the largest Christian liberty amongst these is enjoyed by those who study it with the greatest candor and simplicity.
But if this knowledge and liberty be not accompanied by a full self-surrender to God, a complete consecration of one's self to him who is the Author of our liberties and privileges, we stand in great danger; for, as the apostle here declares, knowledge alone without self-submission to God would incline to puff us up, to make us heady, arrogant, self-sufficient. But if the knowledge be accompanied by a love to God, which leads to self-consecration in his service, in harmony with his instructions, the knowledge will work good for us, by thus introducing the spirit of love as the controling factor in our lives, because the effect of love is to "build up" instead of to "puff up." Love is constructive, and tends not only to build up our own characters after the Divine pattern, but by so doing it makes us co-workers together with God, in our sympathies for and interest in others--in their upbuilding and general welfare.
After making this point clear, the apostle proceeds to apply it to the Christians at Corinth. As in all other cities of the Gentiles at that time, there were plenty of idols, plenty of gods, and plenty of temples; and it was the custom to eat consecrated food--meat that had been offered before an idol. The Apostle assures his readers that he fully agrees with their knowledge and logic upon this subject; to the effect that since the idol is not a god, therefore the offering of meat to it could not in any manner injure the meat to those who really understood the matter. Their increase of knowledge had given them a liberty which they could not have appreciated at first; but he urges that as Christians it is our duty to consider not merely our own liberties, but in such cases to waive our liberties in the interest of others, upon whom the influence might be injurious. We should, therefore, be very careful in the use of our knowledge and liberties, to see that it worked no injury to others--or otherwise to abstain from such liberties as might be injurious to others.
Every one knows how easy it is to meddle with the delicate machinery of a watch, and thus to render it absolutely useless. So the conscience is a delicate mechanism, and we should be on guard against any and every influence which might injure either our own conscience or the consciences of others. The Corinthian brethren who fully understood that an idol was nothing, and that an idol temple was therefore nothing, might be fully at ease in their own consciences, if as guests they attended a municipal feast or banquet in such an idol temple; they might be able even there to recognize the true God and to eat and drink with thankfulness to him; but there might be onlookers, or amongst them, other brethren with knowledge less clear upon these subjects, who, nevertheless, would want to follow their example, and who in so doing would be violating and injuring their consciences. And no one could know what serious results might come from such a violation of conscience; the conscience which submitted to violation reluctantly at first, would incline to become hardened, and finally would cease to speak at all. And the owner of that conscience would be likely to drift according to the inclinations of his fallen nature into the very worst extremes of depravity. For this reason those who have knowledge of the Divine Word and the liberties wherewith Christ makes free, need more than ever an increase of the Divine spirit-- charity, love--which would make them careful that their every act would not only be in harmony with their own consciences, but such, also, as would not prove stumbling blocks to the consciences of others,
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whose knowledge or logic could grasp the situation less clearly.
To fail to have this love and this active, self-sacrificing consideration for the welfare and conscience of a weaker brother, the Apostle declares would not only be a sin against the brethren and wound their consciences, but a sin also against Christ--against the very spirit of his law of love one for the other. How nobly the Apostle sums this matter up when he declares that as for himself, if he found it necessary, in order that he might be a help to the brethren, and not a stumbling block to any, he would take pleasure in denying himself, not only the meat offered to idols, but all meat of every kind, as long as he lived. Paul thus manifested the true spirit of brotherly love; and every follower of the Lord Jesus Christ should seek to have this same spirit and sentiment active in all their intercourse with each other.
While there is nothing in this lesson directly bearing upon intoxicating liquors, the principle inculcated can be very properly applied to the great evil of intemperance which is doing so much injury to the whole world, and in some cases even to those who have named the name of Christ. We do not dispute the principle of liberty, that each Christian has a right to decide the right and wrong of such matters according to his own conscience, but we do offset this knowledge and liberty with the doctrine of love, as the Apostle does in this lesson. Whoever is a child of the King, not only has liberty, but must also have the spirit of love; and he who boasts the liberty and manifests nothing of the spirit of love and consideration for others, raises the question whether he is a bastard or a son; for if any
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man have not the spirit of Christ (love), he is none of his.
The Christian whose heart is full of the Lord's spirit of love will not only be careful that he may set a good example before the brethren, lest they should be stumbled, but he will also be careful of the example which he sets to his own sons and household, and to all "them who are without"--those who have not yet accepted the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, but who are reading the lives and characters of his disciples, as living epistles of his doctrines.
* * *
Incidentally our lesson brings before us a very clear and positive statement respecting God. While the world has many that it calls gods and lords and masters, to the Christian, as the Apostle expresses it, "There is but one God, the Father." The Apostle evidently knew nothing of the doctrine, started in the second century, and patterned after the heathen ideas, to the effect that there are three gods, of whom the catechisms declare that they are "equal in power and in glory." The Apostle knew of only one God who was supreme, "the Father." And he declares that of him (proceeding from him, directly or indirectly) are all things, including ourselves, who are his children.
But, the Apostle by no means ignored our Lord Jesus Christ, who claimed to be not "the Father," but "the Son of God." Of him the Apostle has elsewhere said after telling us how he humbled himself for our sakes, leaving the glory of the Father's presence in obedience to the Father's will and plan, and how he suffered for us, the just for the unjust, death itself, even the death of the cross," then adds, "Him hath God highly exalted, and given him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, both of things in heaven and things on earth, to the glory of God, the Father"--and that all men "should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." Nor does the Apostle here omit to mention Jesus, but says, that to us there is "one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."
How clearly and how simply the Apostle states the relationship existing between the glorified Father, the glorified Son, and all the creation of God, which is or will be blessed through the Son. Although, all things are of the Father, in the sense that the original power, life, etc., proceeded from the Father, nevertheless all things are by the Son, in the sense that he from the very beginning has been the Father's active and honored agent in every feature of the Divine plan. Himself declared to be "the beginning of the creation of God," it is also declared that "all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (though of the Father, by the Father's power, etc.). See `Rev. 3:14`; `Jno. 1:2,3`; also our issue for June '92 and April 15, '93.
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST:--I must say that I have been surprised, delighted and astonished beyond measure at the truth revealed in your tract on hell. Oh, how I have been deluded by the traditions of men! How I have misrepresented and traduced God in preaching such a doctrine.
I have been outside of all sects and systems of men for years, yet bound by the traditions of men, when I thought myself free. May he, the spirit of truth, guide me quickly into his perfect light.
I would be pleased to circulate any literature on these subjects that you have for free distribution in this dark town in which I live, and will send you my subscription for ZION'S WATCH TOWER as soon as I am able. Yours in Christ, I. W. HAMMOND.
TOWER PUBLISHING CO.:--Through the Christian kindness of my brother I have been furnished VOLS. I., II. and III. of MILLENNIAL DAWN. How blind and stiff-necked I have been, I can hardly tell. After reading the first volume I was not at all convinced, but through courtesy to my brother I re-read it, the second time comparing references carefully. Then I commenced at Isaiah's prophecy, and read all the prophets and the New Testament through. And altho I had read the same many times, I was surprised at what I found there, that I had never seen before. Five years ago I felt my ignorance of the Word of God, not being able to "rightly divide the word of truth," so I sought the Lord, pleading that promise, "If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not." And how wonderfully he has answered my prayers! I am now feasting on the hidden manna.
Yesterday I stepped out of the ship [the nominal church--ED.], alone on the troubled sea. For a little while I felt as if I was sinking, when I heard, by faith, "Oh thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt."
MRS. S. C. SMITH.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--We rejoice in the truth. Our pet doctrines, immortality of the soul, everlasting torment, triune God, have been exchanged for the pure gold. Now we can do nothing against the truth, but feel it our reasonable service to do all we can for the truth.
Silver and gold we have not; but such as we have, our time, testimony and influence to serve the truth to others, we give. We appreciate your offer very much, in sending us tracts for free distribution, as it opens the way to have a little talk and then leave the silent messenger with them (the people). They will read the tract, but cannot argue with it. The tract entitled "The Wages of Sin" proved a great blessing to me. I
marked it well, and accompanied with a long letter sent the same to a friend.
I have learned to appreciate this kind of reading matter so much, because of the glorious light it has brought me--"glad tidings of great joy." Blessed be God, I have learned to love him better, because I know him better and his wonderful plan; in fact it has brought me into harmony as a co-worker with him, and I am able to understand and willingly do the work he has for me to do in this harvest time.
A strong sectarian spirit prevails in this place. Something that will strike at the root of this evil with the many false doctrines and teachings of the popular denominations seems to be one thing needful. You may judge as to what tracts would suit, and I will faithfully distribute the same.
We shall be glad to take up the colporteur work and do what we can along that line. Will let you know when we are ready to take up that work. We know much good is accomplished in that way.
Yours in the love of God and the fellowship of the one spirit, P. J. SHOQUIST.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Allow me to address you a few lines concerning the effect of your work, the I., II. and III. volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN, upon me. It found me through a friend in a creed bed. And reading and examining it I found the bed too short. I was acting as superintendent of a Sunday School at the time, and I resigned and withdrew from the Evangelical Association; not without a church meeting, however.
I was able to get a great deal of truth before them, and the minister, having more knowledge of the Scriptures than the rest, and I having given him my reason for withdrawing before the meeting, confessed to the truth privately, but simply said he would have to defend the discipline or he could not preach. He lacked a love and appreciation of the truth. He could not condemn and did not do so, but by his silence allowed the members to condemn the truth.
This step cost me the friendship of all my neighbors for a time, but they have shown every respect since, tho the minister keeps them so guarded that I cannot get them to read MILLENNIAL DAWN and examine the truth for themselves.
I am so thankful to God for his great mercy to me in revealing this truth to me. Oh! I desire strength to fight the good fight of faith to the end. I pray God to be with you in his might in strengthening you in spreading the truth, and may the Lord reward you for your good work, as no one else is able to bless. Pray for me. Yours in Christ, L. L. PARNEY.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I take the liberty of writing to thank you for your very clear, forcible, logical, convincing and satisfactory presentation of the truth in your three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN. Altho I have been acquainted with the Word of God from childhood, I never knew so much of my heavenly Father's glorious provision for our fallen race as I have learned since reading your valuable works. While I am surprised and ashamed that for so many years I knew nothing of what is so clearly pointed out in God's Word, I feel very thankful that at eventide it is light. Praise the Lord for clearly revealing his glorious purposes, which till lately were hidden from me. I long to tell others the blessed tidings that gladden my heart. Glory to God, my Savior is here; Christ, the divine Bridegroom is present.
Since I have seen something of the Millennial Dawn, I have been trying to point others to its glorious light. I have conversed about it whenever I had an opportunity, and lent DAWNS to any who were willing to read them. Last May I publicly left the Methodist church of which I had been a member from my youth. All our family were members of that church, but two of them have left because they are believers in the great truths you teach. Our youngest son, who lives at M., left before I did. He is very diligent and earnest in his efforts to spread the light.
The people here are strongly prejudiced against what they think are new doctrines. One of them told me he wanted to die in the same faith as his fathers. I told him that if all his forefathers had been of his opinion they would have been Roman Catholics, and farther back they were heathen. One man to whom I lent the DAWNS acknowledged that no one could disprove them, but said that it was hard to give up opinions that had been instilled into the mind in childhood. Some are so prejudiced that they will not read the books at all. We never tire of reading them and the TOWERS over and over again.
My husband joins with me in kind regards to yourself and Sister Russell. May the Lord bless you abundantly in your great work. Your Sister in Christ,
MRS. ELIZABETH HALL.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I bless God for the MILLENNIAL DAWN, for it has removed all doubts and fears and revealed to me the perfect plan of God for the redemption of man, and I have since reading it made a personal acquaintance with my Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, and he is now ruling supreme in my heart, and I am looking for his coming [the full establishment of his Kingdom?] when I shall see him as he is and be like him. O, bless the Lord all my soul!
I was groping in darkness, but I was seeking after truth, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and bless God he has filled me and given me the Comforter, who he has promised shall abide with me forever.
I will tell you how the DAWN happened to fall into my hands. One day in looking over the books in the Public Library, under the head of Religion, I saw this book, and in scanning its pages I thought it was just what I wanted, so I took it home and read it on three different occasions, and it has been a great blessing to me; and not only to me, but I showed it to a friend of mine who had almost fallen into infidelity, and was attending meetings of a club which is composed of Anarchists, Communists and Socialists, and proffered to believe in their teachings; but praise God, he is now interested in the truth, and my prayer is that the Lord will manifest himself to him that he may make a personal acquaintance with Him and accept the ransom provided for all who will accept its benefits.
Yours in Christ, CHARLES PETERSON.