ZWT - 1904 - R3294 thru R3460 / R3428 (273) - September 15, 1904
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VOL. XXV. SEPTEMBER 15, 1904. No. 18.
Views from the Watch Tower........................275
Arguing Against Denominational
Bishop Foster Too Old Fogy....................276
Misleading Young to Hate God..................277
Defied God and Died...........................278
Elisha the Prophet................................278
The Boston Convention.............................281
According to thy Faith............................281
Hospitality and Faith Rewarded....................284
Interesting Questions Answered....................286
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TRACTS FOR COUNTRY FAIRS.
Country Fair Time is upon us. These fairs furnish favorable opportunities for reaching the farming communities with morsels of spiritual food;--a class more difficult to reach than city folk;--a thoughtful, reading class, too. We will be glad to supply the tracts freely, but urge that judgment be used in distribution--wherever possible.
THE TITLE OF THE DAWNS.
It is not our thought to abandon the now so well-known title, MILLENNIAL DAWN. But since many of its enemies have misrepresented it in public and in private the new title is proposed to save colporteurs (in some quarters) the time and trouble of explaining away the lies--of showing that it not only is not "an infidel book," against the Bible, but the very reverse, a Bible Key or Studies in the Scriptures. The books under the new title will not be ready for some time, but meantime colporteurs preferring this edition may order it and get the old edition until we get caught up.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
ARGUING FOR DENOMINATIONAL UNION.
AT a meeting held in Washington City not long since, to favor the union of Methodist Protestants, Congregationalists and United Brethren, one of the speakers said:--
"Lutherans are divided into 16 different bodies, Baptists into 13, Presbyterians into 20 and Methodists into 17. Who is wise enough to show us how and to what extent the Kingdom of God is being profited by all these divisions? Does Presbyterianism have 20 and Methodism 17 different messages to the world? How ridiculous the thought of having 16 varieties of Lutherans and 16 Baptists in the same town or mission field. The fact is we are over-organized. Our machinery is too ponderous and complex. It requires so much energy and money to keep it going that we have but little to use beyond the machinery itself. Just think of the missionary and church extension organizations, of the publishing plants, colleges, theological seminaries and the great number and variety of other benevolent institutions which are fairly piled upon each other! No wonder there is friction and great waste. Nor need we be surprised that level-headed laymen are getting tired of seeing their money wasted and are beginning to seek a remedy.
"Away with the delusion that the God of all wisdom and grace has planned for the continued existence of these ecclesiastical divisions and sub-divisions, with 100 more that might be named, whose presence cannot be explained on any rational grounds or in harmony with the spirit of the gospel.
"Mere federation will not accomplish what we want. We must go further. The call of God at this hour to husband our resources and to unify our forces, to the end that we may conquer and win, is loud and clear.
"How humiliating the thought that very much of the money raised in this country ostensibly to save the heathen is spent in keeping up ecclesiastical distinctions and consequently the most shameful rivalries. Why should a town of only a few hundred people be burdened with a half dozen churches, when two at most would answer every purpose? Yet we have scores and hundreds of such over churched towns. Christian work, so called, degenerates into a mere scramble for existence.
"In concentration we will find a solution of many of the problems which confront and annoy us; and this centralization is impossible where a multiplicity of similar organizations exist. It is a sin to waste God's money in duplicating agencies, and yet this is being done all the time."
* * *
It seems remarkable that some of the most earnest and intelligent Christian people in all denominations are so misled by the present cry of denominational union. The majority seem to be entirely blind to the real issues: they are all carried off their feet mentally with enthusiasm for a united Church. They fail to see that such a union must be disadvantageous along the lines proposed, namely, the ignoring of doctrine, the ignoring of conscience, the ignoring of truth. In the union of Christendom which prevailed for over a thousand years before the Reformation, the basis of union was false doctrine supported by tyranny and force, persecution and fire. The Reformation movement was a breaking up of those evil influences, and practically every denomination into which Christendom split represented further endeavor to get to the truths taught in the Lord's Word. The union or federation of all denominations now proposed is to be one in which not only false doctrines will be considerably ignored, but also the true doctrines of the Lord's Word. Among those to be retained as fundamental will be some of the gross errors that dominated Papacy during the Dark Ages, and much of the Reformation blessing will be entirely lost.
The union of the true Church is amply provided for in the Scriptures without any outside patent fastenings, bolts, rivets, cords, etc. The Scriptural proposition is that the Lord's people, instead of being united to him by sects and parties called "branches,"
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should be united to him individually--as individual branches. As he declares in his Word, "I am the true vine, ye [individually] are the branches." As the Reformation led to the splitting off from Papacy and its errors various large composite branches or denominations, so we need still further reformation that will split every sect up into individual units, so that each individual Christian will have his own individual faith and his own personal relationship to the Lord as a "branch." Union of denominations, instead of favoring this proper condition which the Lord designed for his people, will be in opposition to it. But the true people of God will gradually be guided of him and separated from the Babylonian bundles, leaving therein only the tares. Thus the separation of this harvest time is progressing.
The tare element in the nominal Church sees matters only from the worldly natural standpoint and hence, influenced by pride, etc., favors size and bulk rather than truth. The Lord is taking advantage of their worldly spirit and favoring their organization, that the gulf between the tares and wheat may daily, monthly, yearly become more marked. Meantime through the Truth and its various mouthpieces and ministers the Lord is calling the attention of the true saints to the bright shining of his glorious plan, now visible as never before; and as they perceive it and compare it with their surroundings in Babylon, it becomes to them the voice of God saying to them, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers
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of her sins and receive not of her plagues."
More and more, as the present "harvest" draws to its close, the uniting of the tares will progress and the liberty of the wheat will likewise progress: "Whom the Son makes free is free indeed." The wheat will more and more give heed to the words of the Apostle, "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
But while the wheat class are to be thus free, are not to be bundled like the tares, there will be, nevertheless, among them a union, not of bondage and creeds and disciplines, etc., but a union of hearts, accomplished by and through the Truth. Each one of this class, being united as a branch to the vine, will thus have a relationship to every other branch in the vine. This is the true union which the Lord desires amongst his people--union in Christ. Those thus united to the Head are his members or branches, and as they come to realize this relationship they will discern that they are not Lutherans, nor Calvinists, nor Russellites, nor Wesleyans, nor Campbellites, but are all one in Christ Jesus.
The secret of this individual liberty, individual faith, individual responsibility toward the Lord, yet complete union with all who are his, is found in the fact that these are all "taught of God," taught of his Word, guided by his Spirit. We do not by this mean that the teaching element in the Church is to be ignored, of which the Apostle declares, "He that is of God heareth us," and again, God hath set in the body the various members as it has pleased him, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc. The point to be kept in mind is that evangelists, teachers, apostles are not to be given in our minds the place that belongs to the Lord, but at very most are to be esteemed as his servants and mouthpieces, and as such are to be critically examined by each believer to see that the teachings are in harmony with those of the Lord and the Apostles--"If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them." Thus the true saints are all to be taught of God in that they will lovingly and critically examine every teaching and every teacher in the light of the divine message. This is the union which the saints should desire and which the Lord is gradually accomplishing amongst his people, the wheat, while outward union is being favored by him as a means of separating the tares from the wheat.
BISHOP FOSTER TOO OLD FOGY.
Bishop Foster of the Methodist Episcopal Church has been dropped from the lists--superannuated. The gentleman took a too pessimistic view of Methodist progress. His views are lightly dismissed as childish and old fogy. Our readers can judge of these matters for themselves and form their own opinions. The Bishop's views, as expressed by himself and published in the Methodist Journal, are as follows:--
The Church of God is to-day courting the world. Its members are trying to bring it down to the level of the ungodly. The ball, the theatre, nude and lewd art, social luxuries, with all their loose moralities, are making inroads into the sacred enclosure of the Church; and as a satisfaction for all this worldliness, Christians are making a great deal of Lent and Easter and Good Friday and Church ornamentations. It is the old trick of Satan. The Jewish Church struck on that rock, the Romish Church was wrecked on the same, and the Protestant Church is fast reaching the same doom.
Our great dangers, as we see them, are assimilation to the world, neglect of the poor, substitution of the form for the fact of godliness, abandonment of discipline, a hireling ministry, an impure gospel, which, summed up, is a fashionable church. That Methodists should be liable to such an outcome, and that there should be signs of it in a hundred years from the "sail loft," seems almost the miracle of history; but who that looks about him to-day can fail to see the fact?
Do not Methodists, in violation of God's Word
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and their own discipline, dress as extravagantly and as fashionably as any other class? Do not the ladies, and often the wives and daughters of the ministry, put on "gold and pearls and costly array?" Would not the plain dress insisted upon by John Wesley, Bishop Asbury and worn by Hester Ann Rogers, Lady Huntingdon and many others equally distinguished, be now regarded in Methodist circles as fanaticism? Can any one going into the Methodist Church in any of our chief cities distinguish the attire of the communicants from that of the theatre and ball-goers? Is not worldliness seen in the music? Elaborately dressed and ornamented choirs, who in many cases make no profession of religion and are often sneering skeptics, go through a cold, artistic or operatic performance, which is as much in harmony with spiritual worship as an opera or theater. Under such worldly performance spirituality is frozen to death.
Formerly every Methodist attended class and gave testimony of experimental religion. Now the class meeting is attended by very few, and is in many churches abandoned. Seldom the stewards, trustees and leaders of the church attend class. Formerly nearly every Methodist prayed, testified or exhorted in prayer-meeting. Now but very few are heard. Formerly shouts and praises were heard; now such demonstrations of holy enthusiasm and joy are regarded as fanaticism.
Worldly socials, fairs, festivals, concerts and such like have taken the place of the religious gatherings, revival meetings, class and prayer meetings of earlier days.
How true that the Methodist discipline is a dead letter. Its rules forbid the wearing of gold or pearls or costly array; yet no one ever thinks of disciplining its members for violating them. They forbid the reading of such books and the taking of such diversions as do not minister to godliness, yet the church itself goes to shows and frolics and festivals and fairs, which destroy the spiritual life of the young as well as of the old. The extent to which this is now carried on is appalling. The spiritual death it carries in its train will only be known when the millions it has swept into hell stand before the judgment.
The early Methodist ministers went forth to sacrifice and suffer for Christ. They sought not places of ease and affluence, but of privation and suffering. They gloried not in their big salaries, fine parsonages and refined congregations, but in the souls that had been won for Jesus. Oh, how changed! A hireling ministry will be a feeble, a timid, a truckling, a time-serving ministry, without faith, endurance and holy power. Methodism formerly dealt in the great central truth. Now the pulpits deal largely in generalities and in popular lectures. The glorious doctrine of entire sanctification is rarely heard and seldom witnessed in the pulpits."
* * *
As respects the Methodist Church, past and present, we are inclined to concede much of what the Bishop presents as truth and not as childishness. We are inclined to think that higher criticism and evolution theories, etc., have turned the minds of the Methodist leaders as well as of the leaders in other denominations, so that they take a more worldly view of all affairs of life than was customary in the past. We are not by this meaning to say that Methodists and others are less moral or less benevolent than in former times, but we do incline to say that they and others of our day have less faith in God, less faith in his Word, less faith in Jesus and the merit of his precious blood for the forgiveness of sins, and less consecration to his service than in times past.
The great sifting, the separating work of this harvest time, is in progress: the tare class of nominal Christians are being separated from the sincere and consecrated wheat class. The latter will be found largely in the minority and will be considered "old fogy," and their faith and hopes will be greatly at a discount in the nominal system, but at a premium in the Lord's estimation. The Lord is gathering out his jewels and will leave none of them in Babylon. "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues."
The Bride of Christ, the true members of the great High Priest, are not falling away in this time of general worldliness, unbelief, skepticism and forms of godliness without the power, but are growing in grace, growing in knowledge, growing in love and in the fruits of the Spirit. The difficulty with the world is that they see the nominal Christians and see not the true Church: "The world knoweth us not because it knew him not."
MISLEADING THE YOUNG TO HATE GOD.
Before us is an advertisement of "Books for Children and Young Persons--Book 10, THE SIGHT OF HELL," by Rev. J. Furniss, C.S.S.R., published by J. Duffy & Co., Dublin, Ireland. The advertisement gives two extracts which we reproduce below with a deep sense of shame that in this twentieth century and under the British flag there should be people to publish and others to buy and circulate such terrible, blasphemous misrepresentations of divine providence. How we long for the binding of Satan and the opening of the eyes of human understanding promised in the Millennium. Surely, when some of the poor, deluded ones come forth from the tomb they will rejoice to know the true God and to participate in his glorious plan of salvation at present understood by so few. The extract from page 19 reads thus:--
THE RED HOT FLOOR.
"Look into this room. What a dreadful place it is! The roof is red-hot, the walls are red-hot, the floor is like a thick sheet of red-hot iron. See, on the middle of that red-hot floor stands a girl! She looks about sixteen years old. Her feet are bare. She has neither shoes nor stockings on her feet; her bare feet stand on the red-hot burning floor. The door of this
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room has never been opened since she first set her foot on the red-hot floor. Now she sees that the door is opening. She rushes forward. She has gone down on her knees on the red-hot floor. Listen! she speaks. She says: 'I have been standing with my bare feet on this red-hot floor for years. Day and night my only standing place has been this red-hot floor. Sleep never came on me for a moment that I might forget the horrible burning floor. Look, she says, at my burnt and bleeding feet! Let me go off this burning floor for one single moment, only for one single, short moment! Oh, that in this endless eternity of years I might forget the pain only for a single moment!'
"The devil answers her question: 'Do you ask,' he says, 'for a moment; for one moment to forget your pain? No, not for one single moment during the never-ending eternity of years shall you ever leave this red-hot floor!'
"'Is it so,' the girl says with a sigh that seems to break her heart, 'Then, at least let somebody go to my little brothers and sisters who are alive and tell them not to do the bad things which I did, so they will never have to come and stand on the red-hot floor.'
"The devil answers her again: 'Your little brothers and sisters have the priests to tell them these things. If they will not listen to the priests, neither would they listen even if somebody should go to them from the dead.'
"Oh, that you could hear the horrible, the fearful scream of that girl when she saw the door shutting, never to be opened any more. The history of this girl is short. Her feet first led her into sin, so it is her feet most of all which are tormented. While yet a very little child she began to go into bad company. The more she grew up, the more she went into bad company, against the bidding of her parents. She used to walk about the streets at night and do very wicked things. She died early. Her death was brought on by the bad life she led."
THE RED-HOT OVEN.
"See! it is a pitiful sight. The little child is in this red-hot oven. Hear how it screams to come out! See how it turns and twists itself about in the fire! It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor of the oven. You can see on the face of this little child what you can see on the faces of all in hell--despair, desperate and horrible! ...God was very good to this child." (!!!)
* * *
To know that such things are believed and taught today helps us to comprehend that once they were almost the exclusive teachings of Europe;--helps us, too, to understand that people who held such erroneous ideas of God's arrangements could and did prepare similarly diabolical tortures for those who differed with them, and might do the same again if circumstances favored it. It is difficult for humanity to rise in conduct above its conception of God and his conduct.
DEFIED GOD AND FELL DEAD.
Baltimore, Aug. 20.--Consternation reigns in the little town of Allen, in Southern Maryland, over the strange death of Walter H. Whitney, a pronounced atheist, but one of the most popular residents of the place. On Sunday night Whitney was conversing with some friends, when he suddenly exclaimed: "I defy the Almighty to strike me dead!" Instantly Whitney fell to the floor, and when those about him picked him up he was dead.
* * *
Not long since we called attention to the case of a young man whose challenge that if there be a God he might be assured of it by being stricken deaf and dumb. He was stricken instantly and is reported to have recovered about a month later. The above is on the same line. The clipping was handed us during the Boston Convention, and we read it to the large audience as an illustration of divine judgments in execution, and the awe and obedience they would quickly inspire throughout the world.
Imagine the Millennial reign inaugurated, with its prompt rewards for right doing and prompt and just punishments for wilful sins, and we can see that a wonderful change in the morals of the world would speedily be effected. Such will be the judgments of that thousand year judgment day. "When the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."
Of course, the death of the young man mentioned in this dispatch is not to be considered lasting death or Second Death, because he was really ignorant and showed it. Undoubtedly he will be awakened during the Millennial day of judgments, and be granted a clear knowledge of the Lord before he could be liable to the final penalty-- the extreme penalty--"The soul that sinneth, it shall die" --the Second Death, from which there is no hope of recovery.
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ELISHA THE PROPHET.
--`2 KINGS 2:12-24`.--OCTOBER 2.--
Golden Text:--"Let a double portion of
thy spirit be upon me."--`2 Kings 2:9`.
THAT Elisha was the son of a wealthy Israelite is evidenced by the fact that his father's farming was done on a large scale. At the time that Elijah, under divine direction, first approached him and indicated his call to special service by symbolically laying his mantle upon Elisha's shoulders, the latter was plowing his father's fields with twelve separate yoke of oxen under servants, he accompanying the twelfth. That he was of a religious family not affected by the idolatry introduced by Jeroboam is evidenced by the name his parents gave him, Elisha signifying "God is deliverer." His call through Elijah was not to a place of honor and distinction but to become a servant of the Prophet, but he entered upon the service joyfully, esteeming it as done unto the Lord. He was thus with Elijah for more than ten years, until the latter was separated from him by the chariot of
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fire and was taken up by the whirlwind. His relationship was really that of a serving son, and between the two a deep affection had evidently sprung up, for he seemed not only to reverence Elijah as the Prophet of the Lord but also to love him as a father.
It is at this point that our lesson opens. Elijah had asked Elisha what blessing he would most desire at his hand before their separation, and in the language of our Golden Text the latter had requested a double portion of Elijah's spirit. This does not signify his desire to have twice as much as Elijah enjoyed, but rather was the familiar way of expressing an elder son's portion--a double portion as compared with other members of the family. Elisha aspired to have of the Lord a recognition as the Lord's special representative instead of Elijah when the latter was gone. The answer was that his request would be granted if he should see Elijah at the time of his taking: this seemed to imply that circumstances or conditions would tend to separate the two, and if they were separated from any cause Elisha would fail of the blessing desired. We remember that after this promise, when the Lord would take up Elijah, he led him by a circuitous route, and at the various stopping-places suggested that Elisha tarry; but to have suffered anything to have separated him from Elijah would have excluded him from the desired blessing, and we recall that Elisha clung closely to the Prophet, allowing nothing to detain him or hinder his being with him to the very last.
Doubtless there is a typical significance in this, for although the Scriptures do not conclusively show that Elisha was a type, we have definite, positive assurance of this kind respecting Elijah; and, again, the lesson through both these prophets seemed to be typical so far as the Gospel Church is concerned. It was not until after their day that the Lord provided for the written prophecies, such as those of Isaiah,
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Amos, Malachi, etc., which have come down to us with important teachings applicable to spiritual Israel.
When Elijah was taken up in the chariot Elisha did recognize the fact and shouted, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof." This was his good by salutation, and indicated that he fully recognized that the God of Israel had taken his servant by his own mighty power. As a prophet he probably expressed more than he himself understood. We have already seen that the translation of Elijah taught in a typical or pantomimic way the change of the last living members of this Gospel Church, the antitypical Elijah.* The taking of Elijah was the matter of a moment, but the change of the living members of the Church, which is the body of Christ and the antitype of Elijah, is a work of years, already in progress since 1878. Since that time we understand the Scriptures to teach that the overcomers of the Church in dying do not sleep, but are changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, to the heavenly glory, the spiritual conditions of the first resurrection. Ours is the real deliverance by chariots of victory and divine power from death, from weakness, from imperfection, to glory, honor and immortality. Elijah's experiences were merely typical. He was not changed to the spiritual or divine nature, for he was not an heir of the heavenly promises, living before the time of their promulgation; but he was an honored servant, and used of the Lord for the setting forth of a typical lesson representing the experiences of the Church of the First-born down to the very end of its journey, including its change.
Elijah's mantle, symbolical of his authority and dignity, did fall to Elisha, as was prophetically implied ten years before when he was invited to become Elijah's servant. Elisha took off his own outer garment or mantle and tore it in two parts, an act in that day symbolical of grief, sorrow, mourning, and then instead of his own he appropriated Elijah's mantle.
These incidents took place "on the other side Jordan"--on the eastern side, presumably not far from the river, possibly on Mount Pisgah, or in the neighborhood of the place where Moses took his last view of the promised land. Elisha, calling upon the name of the Lord, returned by the same route which they had come, arriving at Jordan, and used Elijah's mantle as a rod to smite the waters of Jordan, knowing that if the power of God was with him, as it previously was with Elijah, then the same results would follow in his case and the waters would divide at his command as they previously had done at Elijah's. His faith was undoubtedly made stronger by the manifestation of divine favor in connection with the separation of the waters, while he passed across to the western side of Jordan where the "sons of the prophets" awaited him.
As already stated, nothing in the Scriptures positively assures us that Elisha was a type; but if his experiences from the time Elijah was taken away were typical, it would appear to us that they were in some sense double--that he represented two classes.
(1) He would seem in the first part of his experience, accompanying Elijah and serving him and yet being separate from him, to represent what we designate as the second company, the class that in `Revelation 7:9-14` is described as a great multitude whose number no man knoweth, who are--not the Royal Priesthood but the antitypical Levites--consecrated to service but not going on to share in the Priesthood by sacrificing all the interests of this present life. If Elisha be a type of this class, it would appear that there should be a close affinity of heart, of spirit, between these and the sacrificing Royal Priesthood, so that nothing will shake their devotion nor hinder them from fellowshiping with and serving the Elijah class down to the time of their change. The spirit of devotion
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chap. viii.
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previously manifested by the little flock would thereafter be manifested by those who had hesitated and refrained from a consecration of themselves and all their interests in the fullest degree. This would imply that the remainder of their lives would be of the same character as that of the little flock, although it would then be too late to gain a part and place in the Elijah class, or a share in the glory, honor and immortality which the Lord has prepared for them. With this view, Elisha's recrossing Jordan might be understood as representing their faithfulness, their testimony, and their passing over the Jordan of death without being overwhelmed by the waters--that is to say, that the death of this Elisha class would be a passing over without "sleep," a change from human to spirit conditions, though not to the conditions to which the Elijah class will attain.
From this standpoint we would be inclined to view the remaining experiences of Elisha after he had crossed Jordan as typifying still another class--a restitution class amongst men under the restitution conditions which we believe will begin to obtain from October, 1914 A.D., and onward, represented probably in the ancient worthies, who will then, as the earthly representatives of the heavenly Kingdom, begin to exercise a guiding and controlling influence in the affairs of mankind.
The suggestion of the sons of the prophets that messengers be sent to see whether or not Elijah had been dropped down somewhere on the mountains, would, from this standpoint, represent an expectancy on the part of the well-meaning but uninstructed people of the time that the Gospel Church would be reinstituted. It would indicate on their part a slowness of perception of the change to the new order of things, in which the ancient worthies (represented in Elisha) would have the guidance and direction of earthly affairs and through whom blessings must thereafter be expected. The wait and search for Elijah may represent a period of three years, in which the world may fail to receive the blessings it might enjoy by reason of a failure to exercise faith in the new institutions of that time.
As soon as Elisha was recognized as beyond all question the successor of Elijah, his work--totally different from anything Elijah had done--began. It was in many respects a restitution work--and a judgment work. An illustration of both these phases of his ministry are furnished in the present lesson.
Jericho was quite a prosperous city and favorably located, except that it had a poor water supply. The spring of water which supplied the city, and from which apparently the surrounding country was irrigated, was brackish--contained some mineral property that had the effect of causing the products of the land to drop off before they reached maturity, so that the land brought no fruit to perfection. The word Jericho signifies "his moon" or "month," and this in turn reminds us that the moon was a symbol of Israel, as the sun in the Scriptures is the symbol of the Gospel Church. There is this bare hint that the people of Jericho perhaps in this picture represented natural Israel, and the fact that they will be the first to recognize the restitution class and to look for relief to those ancient worthies who will then be in control under the guidance of the glorified Church, the heavenly Kingdom. From this standpoint we can see that natural Israel, for now over eighteen hundred years, has been striving to bring forth fruitage, but has been unable to do so. That people indeed have clung to the promise of God and have attempted to bring forth the fruits of obedience, worship, reverence, etc., but they have brought forth no fruit to perfection because by the deeds of the Law can no flesh be justified in God's sight. The Law, represented in the symbolical picture by the brackish water, was in itself just, perfect, good, yet it lacked something necessary to make it a blessing to that people. That something was the work of Christ in fulfilling the Law and thus removing its curse or condemnation from those who were dependent upon it.
From this standpoint the appeal of the men of Jericho to the restitution Elisha would represent the appeal of the Jews to the ancient worthies to know why the blight had been upon them so long as a people, and what would be necessary to the correction of their difficulty that they might have the full blessing of the Lord. As the request of the people of Jericho was granted, so the request of Israel will be granted, for the ancient worthies (the restitution Elisha) will take a new earthen vessel with salt therein--representing the new institutions, the new conditions, the new views respecting Christ and the glorified spiritual Israel ("Ye are the salt of the earth"). And this construction placed upon Israel's Law, this application and instruction and showing of its true import and fulfilment, etc., will mean to those who desire that knowledge and blessing the healing of their stream, and henceforth to Israel the Law will have a new meaning and bring forth in their hearts fruitage acceptable to the Lord, the righteousness of the Law being reckoned to those who accept the Redeemer who recognize him in connection with the Law and seek to obey his voice.
It was following this that Elisha on the way to Bethel was disdained and insulted by a mob of young lads [Leeser] who shouted after him, "Go up, thou bald head," etc. It is claimed by some that this expression, "bald head," was a particularly opprobrious epithet at that time, and that the lads were from the city whose waters had been healed; and if the matter be typical it would seem to indicate that amongst the people of natural Israel will be some who would appreciate the new condition of things while others would despise it. Elisha looked behind him and declared them "evil in the name of Jehovah" [Young's translation], and forthwith two she bears attacked them and more or less scratched or tore forty-two of them. So far as the literal incident was concerned, it served to teach a lesson of respect for the Lord through his representatives, not only to the boys but also to their parents, who had failed of their duty either by misinstructing them or failing to instruct them. If viewed prophetically, symbolically, it would typify the judgments of the future upon any who will disregard the instructions of the earthly representatives of the Kingdom, or fail to render to them a proper appreciation of the dignity of their office as chosen agents of the heavenly Kingdom.
These two incidents illustrate well the conditions
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which will prevail throughout the whole world during the Millennial age. Those desiring a blessing will be granted it, and those despising the Lord's arrangements and violating proprieties will receive judgments or punishments. Thus we read that when the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
We can readily see that when God shall thus interpose his power to reward every good deed and to punish every transgression it would not take the world a great while to learn the difference between right and wrong, and very speedily the majority surely would be prompted to render obedience to the right and to abstain from the wrong. At first this might only be an outward obedience and loyalty to the Lord and to the principles of righteousness; but as years and centuries roll around and the benefits and blessings of righteousness are manifested and the evils and punishments of unrighteousness are seen, the lessons would touch the hearts of all such as the Lord purposes may have eternal life, so that at the great harvesting at the end of the Millennial age all who love righteousness and hate iniquity in their hearts would be able to stand all the testings of that time, and thus would be accounted worthy of the eternal life and blessedness beyond the Millennium throughout eternity; while the others, demonstrating that they had refrained from evil merely because of the fear of punishment, would in the Lord's judgment have had a sufficient experience with his mercies and would be cut off in the second death--as unworthy of any further opportunity or blessing.
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THE BOSTON CONVENTION.
THE friends everywhere will be glad to learn that the Boston Convention was a most excellent one. The Lord greatly blessed the systematic efforts put forth by the dear brethren of the Boston Church in connection with the various arrangements made--the arrangements effected for lodging the visiting friends, the commodious and well located auditorium for the Convention meetings, etc. We cannot think how the dear friends could possibly have done better than they did do. All the arrangements passed off smoothly, happily. The Convention was a great success, not only in number, but specially in spirit, earnestness, love, fellowship.
Some previous Conventions probably had as large a number of visiting brethren and sisters in attendance, but none that we recall have passed off more satisfactorily, more profitably. The limitations of the railroad people touching the date of purchase of tickets was rather disadvantageous, and doubtless hindered some from attending who would otherwise have been with us. As it was, the number of visiting brethren and sisters was estimated at 600, and the attendance, including the public, at the public service of the session was estimated at 2,400. Of course, New England contributed by far the largest proportion of the visitors, some coming from Ontario, Nova Scotia, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and one, at least, from as far off as the Pacific coast. It is needless to say that, although many had never met before, they were not strangers. The bond of Christian love bound all our hearts together, and it required a remarkably short time to become thoroughly acquainted.
The programme was carried out, and apparently to the pleasure and profit of all in attendance. Various of the brethren led the praise and testimony meetings, and the regular services were addressed by Brothers J. D. Wright, J. Harrison, H. Samson, R. E. Streeter, A. E. Williamson and the Editor. Sixty two professed a full consecration--immersion into Christ's death--and symbolized the same by water immersion, the average of age being about 40 years.
We feel sure that while met in Convention we had with us the love and prayers and interest of thousands of the Lord's dear people in every direction. We also remembered all the absent ones, and especially such as would have loved to be with us had their matters and interests so favored. We have no doubt that the blessings received by those in attendance were shared also by those whose hearts were with us; such surely was our petition on your behalf. We trust that not only those present received a great blessing, but that they have carried it to their homes and that thus it has spread abroad, filling many hearts after the manner of the widow's cruse of oil, which continually poured forth until every empty vessel had been filled.
We look forward to a still larger attendance at the St. Louis Convention, though we cannot hope for a more successful session, nor to have a greater blessing from the Lord. St. Louis is centrally located, has a large population, and the World's Fair excursion rates will favor us there considerably.
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ACCORDING TO THY FAITH.
--`2 KINGS 4:1-7`.--OCTOBER 9.--
Golden Text:--"Trust in the Lord and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed."--`Psa. 37:3`.
ELISHA, recognized as Elijah's successor, and thus as a special prophet of the Lord, was naturally looked to by all the "schools of the prophets" as their leader and chancellor. Just the exact nature of these "schools of the prophets" we may not clearly discern. Apparently they were started in the time of the Prophet Samuel, and undoubtedly their members were Israelites who had a firm trust in God, and who, as the nation went more and more into idolatry, felt the need of fellowship one with another and of holding up a divine standard in their nation. It is quite probable that their gatherings were after the manner of what we to-day call summer schools--at times which did not conflict with their farming, husbandry, etc. From the fact that the principal actor in our lesson was the widow of
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a member of the school of the prophets indicates that they were not a monastic order, but rather, as we have intimated, that they attended ordinarily to the duties of life and had certain periods for assembling for religious study and worship.
The widow found herself distressed by her husband's debt and naturally appealed to Elisha for advice and assistance, as he might deem proper. She recited her case--that her husband had been a member of the school of the prophets; that he died, leaving her with two children; but so far from having left an estate, her husband had bequeathed a debt, and according to the customs of the Jews, in common with all other nations of the time, the families of the debtor could be called upon to render service equal to the debt, and that thus she was threatened with the loss of her two sons. Some have wondered that the divine law given at the hand of Moses should have sanctioned servitude for debt, which is esteemed to have been partial slavery. We reply that God's dealings with Israel contained many lessons beyond what they fully comprehended. For instance, such an indebtedness represents how, as the Apostle expresses it, the whole world of Adam's family was sold under sin and obligated to pay the wages of sin, death, as the offspring of Adam. This permission of an attachment of persons and possessions for debt gave ground also for the arrangement of the Jubilee year of emancipation, freedom from all debt and release of all property--illustrating the glorious times of restitution coming, when, by the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord, the great Atonement Day ending the grand year of Jubilee (the Millennial age) will be ushered in and witness the freedom of every creature from every liability and restraint now resting upon the world through the disobedience of Adam.
Josephus claims that this woman was the widow of Obadiah, Ahab's steward, and that the borrowed money mentioned in the text was that which he had expended in supporting the hundred prophets whom he hid from the wrath of Jezebel as he related to Elijah. (`I Kings 18:4.`) We know not by what tradition Josephus was guided in this statement, but nothing in the Scriptures connects the two incidents except the fact that the woman described her husband in much the same language as is used respecting Obadiah's faithfulness to the Lord. He said of himself, "I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth:" that is to say, he reverenced, worshipped and sought to serve the Lord and to live true to the Lord in all the conduct of life, and the widow gave just such an account of her deceased husband.
Elisha upon hearing the story took immediate steps for the widow's relief, and inquired what she still had in her possession. The reply that she had nothing but olive oil shows clearly that this was a genuine case of distress--that the woman, loyal to principle, had not appealed for aid until it was absolutely necessary. Undoubtedly this had something to do with the case--with the miracle which was wrought for her relief. Had she asked while she still had the wherewith to pay the debt, we might doubt that her petition would have been responded to as it was. There is a lesson here for the Lord's people: we should do with our might what our hands find to do,
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and having done all in our power and being in extremity should consider that the proper time to appeal to the Lord, either directly or through his servants and representatives. Human necessities seem to be the occasion for divine aid. It was so with our Lord's miracles also, and we believe that this same rule still holds good.
The Apostle speaks of some whose prayers were not answered, saying, "Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your desires." (`James 4:3`.) Our hearts should be so full of appreciation, thankfulness and gratitude for blessings already received at the Lord's hands, temporal and spiritual, that we would hesitate to ask more than his wisdom has seen fit to provide--hesitate to ask more than the bare necessities, "daily bread." If, in the Lord's providence, we are permitted to come into straits, into actual want, we should cry unto the Lord without stipulating what help or what kind or degree of assistance we should have. We must learn to trust the Lord's wisdom as superior to our own, and if we were to be granted wealth or even competence it might not be the best thing for us. Our petition, therefore, to the Lord should be, Give what is best! And faith should firmly trust him, come what may.
This is in full accord with our Golden Text, "Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." Luxuries and dainties are not included in the promise, though these may be granted to us according to divine wisdom. We are not to set our hearts upon them nor to expect them, but, rather, to be content with such things as we have, and very thankful and specially zealous to do good--to use time, strength, energy and every blessing and opportunity in the service of the Lord and the household of faith, and in doing good to all men as we have opportunity.
A pot of olive oil would be an unusual thing in the home of a poor family of today amongst us, but it was different in Palestine, where oil was one of the indispensables, not only for light and for cooking, but
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frequently used also after the manner in which we use butter. The immense quantities of oil produced in Palestine in those days is well illustrated by the fact that King Solomon sent as a present to Hiram, king of Tyre, about 200,000 gallons every year during the period of the building of the Temple. (`I Kings 5:11`.) It was to the people of Palestine a household necessity and an article of ready sale.
Under the Prophet's direction the widow sent her sons in every direction amongst her neighbors to borrow vessels that would hold oil, and was instructed to secure many of them. The fact that she was able to borrow from her neighbors implies a good reputation among them for honesty, for they must have known that she was poor. When the vessels had been gathered under the Prophet's direction she and her two sons went into an inner room and shut the door and began pouring oil from her pot of oil into all those vessels, the sons assisting her; and the supply of oil miraculously increased until every vessel was full. The fact that there was sufficient oil to pay the debt and to leave a comfortable sum of money for her further aid, implies that the woman's faith was great and the vessels she borrowed were indeed "not a few."
It is proper that we should notice the great difference between the miracles of Scripture and those of fiction, such as are recited in "Arabian Nights," etc. The miracles of Scripture are not merely frolics and freaks but useful and full of meaning. Whether we take the miracles of our Lord and the apostles or this miracle of Elisha and others of Old Testament times, they had a reasonable and proper purpose and illustrate as well a great truth.
In the case under consideration we can see that the woman was helped and blessed by the processes of this miracle. Her faith in the Lord was called out by the extreme condition in which she found herself--in poverty and threatened with the loss of her sons. Her cry to the Prophet of the Lord was a cry to the Lord himself, and the answer through the Prophet was undoubtedly accepted as a direct answer from the Lord himself. Her faith was tested and developed by the Prophet's requirement that she and her sons should cooperate in the borrowing of vessels. Again her faith and that of her sons was tested in respect to the pouring of the oil into the vessels beyond the closed door, without even the Prophet's presence with them. The lesson so learned we may be sure was a great blessing both to the widow and her sons for the remainder of life, and it has been a blessing to many a widow and orphan since as they have remembered that the same God, who was able and willing to help the poor in olden times, is still willing to hear the cry of those who have confidence in him and entreat his favor in times of like distress.
The Lord uses olive oil in the Scriptures as a symbol of the holy Spirit, the source both of spiritual nourishment and enlightenment to his people. The anointing which we receive of him comes down from our Head and Master and Redeemer, our Lord Jesus. The pot of oil and the pouring out into all the vessels that could be secured remind us of the Lord's testimony through the Prophet Joel that while in these days--during the Gospel age--the holy Spirit is poured out only upon the Lord's servants and hand-maidens, only upon the specially favored ones, nevertheless by and by, during the Millennial age, his Spirit shall be poured out upon all flesh, every vessel fitted for its reception shall be filled with the Spirit to its full--the whole world shall be brought under the influence of the Spirit of God, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of righteousness, the spirit of Truth. And under the influence of that Spirit, and under the teachings of the great glorified Teacher and his earthly representatives, the ancient worthies, a blessing of release shall come to the whole human family, releasing from the sin-and-death conditions which have prevailed during the six great thousand-year days of evil.
As we thus think of the Lord's goodness promised to the world in general in his own due time, in the sweet by and by, and as we look back also and see his gracious care over those of ancient times who trusted him, what shall we say respecting ourselves of this Gospel age, who have much advantage every way over those of olden times as well as over those of the age to come, in that we have the special favor and blessing of the Lord in the knowledge of his gracious plan and an adoption into his family? Shall we not reckon that he who was careful in the past, who will delight in giving blessings in the future, is now ready and willing to pour out to each of us as his children blessings, specially spiritual, to the extent of our willingness and faith to receive? If while we were yet sinners God loved us so as to redeem us, much more now that we are forgiven and accepted into his family, and adopted and made joint-heirs with our Lord Jesus prospectively, may we not expect of the Lord continually, day by day, the blessings and favors which he assures us he is well pleased to bestow upon us. Surely faith can trust him, come what may. While the Lord is now pouring out of his Spirit upon his servants and handmaidens, it is for them to see that they are emptied vessels--empty that he may fill them--enlarged more and more that they may be more
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and more filled with the Spirit of God. The poet has beautifully said:--
"Pour forth the oil, pour boldly forth; it will not fail until
Thou failest vessels to provide, which it may freely fill.
"Dig channels for the streams of love, where they may broadly
And love has overflowing streams, to fill them every one.
"But if at any time thou cease such channels to provide,
The very streams of love, for thee, will soon be parched and
"For we must share if we would keep that good thing from
Failing to give, we cease to have--such is the law of
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HOSPITALITY AND FAITH REWARDED.
--`2 KINGS 4:25-37`.--OCT. 16.--
Golden Text:--"The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."--`Rom. 6:23`.
ELISHA'S ministry as a prophet covered many years. Apparently his home was at Mount Carmel, but from thence he probably made visits to the various schools of the prophets and to the city of Samaria, the capital of Israel. The route by which he traveled led him near to the village of Shunem, where lived a woman described in the Scriptures as "great." She was evidently widely known as a good and wise woman, and probably, judging from the records, she possessed a large estate, which may have been of her birthright rather than her husband's. In those days there were no hotels, nor even what are now known as khans, in those parts--stopping-places at which travelers might rest, but usually without any arrangements for refreshments. This Shunemite woman, whose name is not given, but the story of whose hospitality and faith in the Lord have reached and blessed many of his people in many ages, noted the passing of the Prophet and urged upon him the hospitality of their home, desiring that Elisha and his
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servant Gehazi should stop and eat bread with them as he passed them in his journeys. Apparently this hospitality was partaken of on several occasions, and the woman's next step was to propose to her husband the building of a small guest chamber for the use of the Prophet and his servant, located upon the roof of their house, accessible from the outside stairway and furnished with a bed, a table, a stool and lamp. It was thus arranged, and thereafter the Prophet apparently made it one of his stopping-places in his journeys to and fro.
The Scriptures everywhere commend hospitality as exemplifying a condition of heart pleasing to the Lord. Thus in the New Testament the Apostle urges that those esteemed worthy of serving the Church as elders shall be given to hospitality, and again urges all, saying, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares," referring, doubtless, to Abraham's experience in this line. Our Lord also remarks that he that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. (`Matt. 10:40,42`; `Rom. 12:13`; `I Tim. 3:2`; `Heb. 13:2`.) Present-day arrangements for public hotels, lodgings, etc., are calculated to hinder the development of the spirit of hospitality: few would think to-day of entertaining strangers, nor would it be generally wise so to do. But the people of Israel were in a particular sense one family, much after the same manner that all who are the Lord's people to day are one in Christ Jesus. It is toward these brethren of Christ that we should be particularly careful to exercise hospitality, even though they be strangers to us, if we recognize in them the Master's likeness, his Spirit. No service or kindness rendered to one of the least of these will fail of his notice and appreciation and reward. Nevertheless the hospitably inclined may find it necessary to exercise prudence in their hospitality according to the natural disposition of the person entertained, as we have already suggested in DAWN, Vol. VI., Chapter xiv.
In the present case the woman recognized Elisha, not only as a brother Israelite, but specially as a consecrated man of God. She perceived, doubtless, that his life was given to the Lord's service, and hence whatever she attempted to do for him was done as unto the Lord. Her wisdom, too, was exemplified in the moderation and simplicity of the arrangements provided--they were comfortable, but not extravagant. It was during one of these visits that the Prophet sent his servant Gehazi to speak to their hostess and inquire whether or not he could render her some kindness in return--mentioning her favorably to the King or to the chief of the army if she had any favors to request from either quarter, but she had none. Elisha then queried his servant as to what they could do for the woman that would show their appreciation, and the latter remarked that he had noticed that the home was childless and that the husband was in advanced years, intimating that, in harmony with the general views of the East, there could be no greater blessing come to the woman than to have a
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son; that otherwise her home was like the city of Jericho, beautiful for situation, but, nevertheless, having a great dearth or lack.
Elisha grasped the thought instantly, and sending for the Shunemite assured her that within a year she would clasp a son to her bosom. She could scarcely believe it, even though she had full confidence in the Prophet, but in due time the promise was fulfilled. It was years after this, the Prophet still using the guest chamber provided, that the son was with his father and the servants in the harvest field, and apparently had a sunstroke and was sent home in the care of a servant. Shortly after he died, and the mother, making known the fact to no one, laid him upon the Prophet's bed in the guest chamber and hastened to the Prophet's home on Mount Carmel. The boy was not really dead from her standpoint, for she had faith in God and in his Prophet Elisha. She reasoned that he who was able to give her the son was able now to restore him to her again, but she would communicate only with the Prophet. Avoiding the questions of his servant, she fell at Elisha's feet, her heart full of her sorrow, which, nevertheless, was well mixed with faith. Her inquiry was, "Did I desire a son of my Lord? Did I not say, Do not deceive me?"
The Prophet understood that her son was ailing or dead, and sent his own staff by the hand of his servant to lay it upon the child's face--much after the same style that the Apostle Paul sent napkins and handkerchiefs to the sick. But the woman would not leave the Prophet, not having full confidence in the results of the servant's doings, possibly realizing that the servant was not such a man as his master in any sense of the word, as later on was manifest in his conduct. The woman's faith had its reward; the Prophet went with her.
We are not of those who claim that sickness and pain, sorrow, suffering and dying, are indispensable or in any sense of the word blessings. On the contrary we hold that all of these things are parts of the "curse," which affect more or less every member of the human family; but we do hold that the Lord frequently gives experiences of this kind, sickness, pain, sorrow, death, to those of his people who trust him,-- as agents by which to develop meekness, patience, faith. Apparently it was so in the case of the Shunemite. Had her son not taken sick, had he not died, she would have lacked that chapter in life's experiences which we doubt not proved to her a great blessing, which developed in her more and more of faith in the Lord and appreciation of his favors. While deeply agitated at heart, her faith in the Lord's goodness through his Prophet preserved her from excessive grief, and apparently from all outward manifestations such as tears, and thus the Apostle exhorts us who are of the household of faith in this Gospel dispensation, saying, that we should sorrow not as those who have no hope.
This woman had faith and hope that the Lord through the Prophet would restore her son. We well may have stronger and better hope that our dear ones going down to the tomb will in due time be recovered from it, because from our standpoint we perceive that Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and a redemption has been accomplished for the sins of the whole world; and that it is the purpose of God, the plan of God, that in due time those who sleep in Jesus will be brought by him and through him from the tomb, from the prison-house of death. The Shunemite's faith in the Prophet corresponds very well to our faith in the Lord Jesus, as God's power and instrumentality for our relief. And so we read that in answer to the prayer of the Prophet and the instrumentalities he used in harmony therewith, the child was restored to life and to its mother.
The fact of this miracle does not prove that it is the will of God to grant a miracle of recovery in every case. In Elisha's long experience this is the only case of the kind. We may even suppose that this woman's husband died shortly after this without any interposition of divine providence on his behalf, for we find the Prophet instructing the woman that there would be a seven-years' famine in the land of Israel and advising her to sojourn for the time in another country. On her return seven years later with her son she found her property in the possession of others, and called upon the king to repossess her of it, and her husband is not mentioned in connection with the going or the return. It was at this time that the blessing of the Lord through Elisha served her a secondary reward for her hospitality and her faith, because the king had just been talking with Elisha's servant respecting the mighty works which his master had performed in the name of the Lord, and when the woman cried to the king, the servant immediately informed him that this was the mother of the boy whom Elisha restored to life. Thus her case was brought directly to the king's notice and she received again the possession of her property.
Hospitality and faith may not always be thus promptly rewarded in the present time; the Lord's people may even suffer evil for good and be persecuted and hated by those whom they seek to serve and benefit. But a blessing, nevertheless, is sure to be theirs--not only a blessing at the Lord's hand in the future for what they did or endeavored to do, that will more than compensate them, but even in this present life they receive a blessing with the persecutions
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in that their own hearts are enriched and refreshed, made more Christ-like, and they are thereby better prepared for the heavenly Kingdom and glorious things which the Lord has in reservation for all who shall be copies of his Son.
Our Golden Text in connection with this lesson gives us the suggestion that while the heavenly Father may not be pleased to grant us either for ourselves or for our children immunity from pain, suffering and death, nevertheless he has made a still grander and more glorious provision for us through our Lord Jesus Christ--a provision for our eternal life. But this gift is reserved for those who either now or in the future shall cultivate and exemplify hospitality, generosity, faith, love toward God and man. Blessed are we whose eyes and ears of understanding are now open to know the grace of God, to appreciate the same,-- we who are now in the school of Christ to develop the fruits and graces of his Spirit, the likeness of our Lord. For such is the Kingdom, the joint-heirship and blessings and privileges not only of eternal life, but of joint-heirship with Christ. As for the world in general, it will be required of them during the Millennial age that they also shall develop the fruits and graces of the Lord's Spirit if they would be accounted worthy of his gift of eternal life. Sonship implies likeness, and none are to have eternal life except those acceptable as sons.
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INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
THE APPLICATION OF `JOHN 5:25` AND `REV. 20:12`.
Question.--If lasting life (on conditions) is accorded to all the world at the moment of awakening, in what sense are we to understand the expressions: `John 5:25` and `Rev. 20:12`.
Answer.--`John 5:25` reads, " Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of man, and they that hear shall live."
This verse is applicable both to the present time and to the future age. Now we who were dead in trespasses and sins and who have been justified freely by God's grace, through faith in the redemptive blood, and who have made a consecration of ourselves to the Lord, are counted as "alive unto God"-- alive from the dead. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. The life which is to last forever has begun in him as a New Creature, and will be perfected, or completed, in the First Resurrection change to glory, honor and immortality. As the Apostle explains respecting this overcoming class who now have the treasure of the new nature in the earthen vessel-- imperfect, ignoble, corruptible:--he says, "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in weakness, raised in power; it is sown an animal body, raised a spiritual body."
With this fulfilment of the Lord's words and our own experiences before us we are guided to an understanding of that fulfilment which will belong to the world in general in the Millennial age. First will come the awakening; second, the voice of the Son of man; the message declaring the terms on which the life enjoyed may be continued everlastingly will be declared throughout the world, that every creature may hear and clearly understand; the knowledge of the Lord's grace and abundant provisions shall fill the whole earth. Some may refuse to hear--refuse to obey. Such will receive chastisements and stripes; and if they still refuse to obey, the declaration through the prophet is very explicit, that the sinner shall die an hundred years old. At an hundred years old he shall be cut off, and yet he shall die as it were in childhood, because under the favorable conditions then proposed each might by obedience live at least to the end of the Millennial age--then to be tested respecting his worthiness or unworthiness of heart to go further. After the Millennial Kingdom shall have expired the world will be directly answerable to God the Father. To those who will hear, obey, the voice of the Lord, the great Teacher, the voice of the Bridegroom and the voice of the Bride, say Come; and whosoever will say, Come, and take of the water of life freely-- these will progress step by step to the attainment of all that was lost, and beyond this to the attainment of those things which God had in reservation for Father Adam, and to which he might have attained had he remained in obedience to God.
`Rev. 20:12` reads, "And I saw the dead, the great and the small, stand before the throne, and the books were opened: and another book of life was opened, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works."
This is a brief description of the work of the Millennial age. The whole world will be on trial before the throne--the Millennial throne--the throne of Christ. Our common version says, stood before God, but this is not in agreement with the reading of the oldest manuscripts, from which we have quoted above. The world will be standing on judgment before the throne of Christ throughout the Millennial age in the same sense that the Church has been standing on judgment during this Gospel age. A picture of the
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world's judgment is given us in `Matt. 25`, where the two classes that will be found amongst men are to be separated into sheep and goats, and the division between them is to be the work of the Millennial age-- to separate the true sheep, who will be accounted worthy of divine favor everlastingly, from those of the goat nature, who, refusing to come into subjection to the Lord's will, shall be estimated unworthy of any favors beyond the Millennial age, and will be destroyed with Satan, as described in `Rev. 20:9,10`.
The judgment, or trial, of these will not be along some new lines, but along the same lines that God has already made known to us through his Word. The Bible is now a sealed book to the world, understood only by those who are his, and by them because revealed to them through his Spirit. "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; he has covenanted to show it unto them." During the Millennial age these books of the Bible--Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, etc., will be opened to the whole world, will be understood fully, clearly, and the great lessons therein taught will be emphasized; and, as our Lord declared to the Jews, so it will be-- my Word shall judge him in the last day--the Millennial day.
In the present time the Church is judged, not according to her works, but according to faith, and works are required merely as a test of the sincerity of the faith; but when the world's judgment, or trial time, shall come it will not be so. The things now mysterious and dark and hidden will be made plain and simple and easily understood, and the rewards now offered for faith will no longer be given, for faith will in large measure have turned to knowledge,-- "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth." Moreover, Satan being bound and all the conditions favorable, it is proper that the Lord, the King of that day, should require of each human being who receives the knowledge such works as he is able to render--"they shall be judged according to their works." Advancing experience, increasing knowledge and increasing strength, under the blessing of the Lord's Kingdom, will make possible increasing good works of obedience, and these good works will measure the progress of each individual, mentally, morally and physically. Under the judgment rewards of that time the faithful in good works will attain to the full perfection of life, while those who do not come into hearty obedience will be judged unworthy to retain the life that was within their grasp and will be condemned to the Second Death.
From the very beginning of their blessing and hearing of the voice of the Son of man their new life will be, so to speak, in their own hands, either to strangle it or to increase it under the Lord's blessing and direction. The other book of life then to be opened is in contrast with the book of life now open. The book of life opened during this Gospel age is the one in which the names of the Church are written, and from which the Lord will not blot out our names, if we continue faithful to our covenants. This book of life will be complete and no additions made to it after the close of this age, but another book of life will be opened for the world; and whosoever resolves, by the grace of God, to make use of the lasting life which the Redeemer will put within his grasp at the beginning of the Restitution times may never have it blotted out, but by obedience to the voice and judgment of the great King he may attain to all of the blessings of restitution and perfection.
EXPLANATION OF `ROMANS 9:22`.
Question.--Please explain `Rom. 9:22`.
Answer.--God is not averse to manifesting his wrath, his indignation, against sin and sinners, after the manner he has indicated in his law, the penalty of which is death (not eternal torment). Nevertheless, while having this willingness to execute his law, he has endured or permitted a continuance of sin and sinners in apparent contradiction to his law, thus manifesting much long-suffering toward those who were properly subjects of destruction. The Lord has done this at various times, but particularly in connection with the nation of Israel, which came under the Law Covenant at Sinai, and which proved itself unworthy of continued favors by repeated falling into idolatry. But he kept that nation together, the evil as well as the good, the sham Israelites as well as the "Israelites indeed," up to a certain time--the time when, according to his purpose, the true Israelites would be called out from the chaffy ones, to be the nucleus of the Gospel Church. These were the vessels of mercy, upon whom the Pentecostal blessings came, and who were accepted of the Lord out of the house of servants into the house of sons. (`John 1:11,12`.) Forthwith, as soon as all of the worthy had been selected, destruction came upon Israel's polity; as the Apostle expresses it, "Wrath to the uttermost against this people;" and the vessels fitted for destruction met with their destruction--the chaff was consumed in that fire. (`Mat. 3:10-12`.) Not all of the individuals were destroyed, but their existence as a nation was blotted out. Henceforth divine mercy, ignoring the natural Israelites who were not Israelites indeed, has been blessing with mercy those whom the Lord is calling out--Gentiles as well as Jews.