ZWT - 1895 - R1794 thru R1910 / R1858 (197) - September 1, 1895
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VOL. XVI. SEPTEMBER 1, 1895. No. 17.
" Dawn Vol. II, in Dano-Norwegian.............198
Views from the Tower..............................199
Sobriety, Vigilance, Steadfastness................200
Peace! Perfect Peace!--Poem......................202
"Remember Lot's Wife."............................202
"They Had All Things in Common"...................204
Bible Study: Caleb's Reward.......................206
Bible Study: The Cities of Refuge.................208
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MILLENNIAL DAWN VOL. II. IN DANO-NORWEGIAN.
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
IT is not at all improbable that the killing of missionaries in China may lead to a Chinese war in which Great Britain will take a hand, and that event might be considered by Japan opportune for a resistance of Russian interference, and the result might be another war. Such conditions would bring increased prosperity to the United States and Europe for three or four years, supplying munitions of war, etc., and this would put off the financial pressure and great time of trouble a little while. Then the awakening and opening up of China would put her millions of cunning imitators into competition with the mechanics of civilized lands and ultimately make the pressure upon labor all the heavier.
Meantime a great reaction is taking place both in England and France, against radical socialism and in favor of conservatism, as shown by recent elections. Not for a long time before has the majority in the English House of Commons been of the Tory party.
But the reaction is less than it seems on its face to be: in fact, the Tory party has abandoned its old lines, and while retaining its old name it is really a "moderate" party in every sense. And so long as financial conditions are at all bearable the majority of the people in all civilized lands prefer to have the judgment and management of affairs in the hands of the well educated and well-to-do, rather than risk the untried schemes of political novices. We may reasonably expect, therefore, that we will see comparative quiet and prosperity for the next few years, to be followed by a greater depression and a socialistic reaction.
In the United States, as well as in Great Britain, the growing tendency in religious circles is to ignore doctrines and to make morality and conservatism the tests of fellowship. In both countries there is an increasing tendency to unite for the "purifying of politics," on the "liquor question," etc. For instance, take the following clipped from the daily press:
"METHODISTS IN POLITICS.
"Cleveland, O., Aug. 22.--An important circular signed by every presiding elder of the Methodist church in Ohio has been sent to the members of that denomination throughout the state. It calls for united political action on the part of all Methodists in an effort to elect to the next legislature as many members as possible who will fight the saloons. The circular states that 'special services' will be called for by the elders in this connection in every Methodist church in Ohio."
"SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SUN.
"At Ayer yesterday thirty-one clergymen, representing six denominations, Baptist, Congregationalist, Roman Catholic, German Evangelical, Unitarian and Universalist, organized a ministerial union to be known as the United Religious Association, the object of which is 'fellowship and acquaintance with each other's religious doctrines, local cooperation with each other on the basis of love to God and man, and to the furtherance of all social reforms and the bringing in of the kingdom of God.' Rev. P. A. McKenna, of the Catholic church at Marlboro, said that he was present with the willing consent of Vicar General Byrne, in the absence of the archbishop, and expressed the most cordial interest in the objects of the association. He was especially emphatic in his Americanism and was heartily applauded by his Protestant associates."
It is remarkable that at a time when the so-called "higher critics" and "advanced religious thinkers" are tearing in pieces the Scriptures and discarding the very foundation of all Christian faith, the great sin-offering given by our Redeemer for the sins of the world, we find some defenders of the Bible and the true faith where we
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might not have thought to look for them. The following is a portion of a letter written not long since by Rev. Morgan Dix, D.D., pastor of Trinity Church, New York, to Rev. C. Gauss of the Prof. Epis. Theol. Seminary near Alexandria, Va., and published by the latter's consent in the N.Y. Tribune, as follows:--
"The recent startling appearance of pantheistic teachers in our Church in the person of liberal theologians so-called, the open denial of several of the facts stated in the creed, the contemptuous repudiation of the authority of our Church, the substitution of ideas derived from the philosophy of evolution for the doctrine of the Gospel as the Church has received the same, and the avowed determination to throw the ordination vow to the winds, and freely to proclaim whatever views the individual minister may evolve from year to year, and from day to day, out of his own consciousness--these signs of the hour increase my respect for the men of the old school, who hold, simply and sincerely, the inspiration of the sacred Scriptures, the destructive properties of sin, the need of atonement for sin through the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and the power of divine grace as the sole agency which can put health and strength into the enfeebled and corrupted nature of men. Thus am I, like many others of my own school, in stronger sympathy with the men at Alexandria than they perhaps suspect; believing that we are fighting the same battle for God in Christ against a world fallen and out of Christ, and that we are aiming substantially at one and the same end. It looks as if society was preparing to rise up in general revolt against the Gospel as we have learned it from the Apostles of Jesus Christ, and the Church which he has made the witness and keeper of his revelation. If it does, so much the worse for society. I am very truly yours, MORGAN DIX"
The present Pope is pushing forward to regain as much ground as possible.
Some fifteen years ago Chile found that the Jesuits were its worst foes and put an end to clerical interference in politics, etc., although the population and government are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. But the present pope has smoothed out the difficulty and gotten government and people to forget the injury previously inflicted and to return into sympathy with the Papal authorities. Chile has sent an Ambassador Extraordinary to Rome and in every way is prepared to forget the past and return gradually to a condition as bad as before, or worse.
Effort is being made to have Mexico, whose experience was similar, also to return to the evil control of Papacy. It is the constant scheme at Rome to get back the absolute control of the people formerly held by the Papal clergy. A movement is on foot to have the Mexican government consent to the coming of a Papal Nuncio, with powers similar to those of Mgr. Satolli in the United States.
The effort to capture Great Britain for Rome is meeting
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with considerable opposition. Writing against the union of the Church of England with the Church of Rome the Dean of Canterbury says:
"Great as is the evil of division, let us be sure that it is incomparably less than that of such a spurious, hollow, artificial unity as is held out by the See of Rome, unity purchased by the subjection of reason and conscience to the arbitrary decrees of a self-styled infallible human authority."
With a view to extending the Catholic movement in England the Pope has just canonized as saints the following Englishmen, Hugo Farrington, Richard Whiting, John Beck and Adrian Fortesque, martyrs.
The eight thousand members of the St. Adelbert Roman Catholic Church of Buffalo, N.Y., who have rebelled against the arbitrary rules of the bishop, have decided to secede and organize as an Independent Catholic Church. We learn that these are in sympathy, at least in harmony, with the Polish seceders at Cleveland, mentioned some time since.
A Madrid cablegram of Aug. 18 tells that as the Spanish troops were embarking for the reinforcement of the army in Cuba, the Archbishop declared that the Pope like a new Moses had raised his hands toward heaven and was praying that the Angel of Victory might accompany the Spanish army.
We are well aware that the Pope's prayers are usually with the oppressors in every clime; but in the days of Pope Leo IX. it became proverbial that people and ships which he blessed usually met with disaster.
Ah, how much the world needs the real Pope, the real Anointed One, our Lord Jesus, with the true Church, the Royal Priesthood, to take control of the world as the promised priest after the order of Melchizedek--a priest upon his throne. "Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as in heaven."
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SOBRIETY, VIGILANCE, STEADFASTNESS.
--`1 Pet. 5:8,9`.--
WHAT more appropriate watchwords than these could express the proper attitude of the Christian soldier? --"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are endured by your brotherhood in the world."
The "brotherhood" includes all the soldiers of Christ throughout the world, and this symbol of their present character is not a mere empty sound; for there is a mighty conflict in progress, a war being waged, and the encounter is one of desperate earnestness. Those who know nothing of this great conflict, and who have no part in it, though they may bear the name of Christ--Christians--really have
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no right to that name; for they are not Christ's soldiers. Jesus himself was a soldier, and fought the battle through to the bitter end, and gained the victory. And he is the Captain of all those who accept the redemption he purchased and that follow in his footsteps, and he will lead them on to certain victory, if they faint not.--`Gal. 6:9`.
The Apostle Paul gives the same idea of the Christian life. He represents it as a desperate warfare, and urges all the true soldiers of Christ to "put on the whole armor of God, that they may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; for," says he, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places....Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness," etc.--`Eph. 6:10-18`.
When we consider how strongly our adversary is intrenched in the world--in its ideas, its maxims, its institutions, its policy, its hopes, aims and ambitions--and the Christian life as in direct opposition to all these; and when we further consider how, because we were once partakers of the spirit of the world, the enemy of our souls has strongly intrenched himself in our weak fallen natures; and still further, how, with shrewd subtlety, this invisible, intelligent personal foe is plotting and scheming to allure, deceive and lead us into sin--when with sober judgment we consider all these things, then indeed we realize that we are in the midst of a great conflict.
The three points of attack by the enemy are, as the Apostle John (`1 John 2:16`) enumerates them, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life."
The first of these includes all those appetites and passions common to the whole human family, which in their legitimate uses under the full control of reason and conscience, are right and proper, but which, unduly cultivated until they become the masters of reason and conscience, degrade and debase the man.
The second,--"the lust of the eyes,"--includes all those ambitions to acquire and possess whatsoever things the eye (the natural eye or the eye of the understanding) perceives to be good; i.e., to be gratifying to the carnal mind, the old unregenerate nature. This disposition impels to self-gratification regardless of the rights and liberties of others in any direction. It craves wealth, or fame, or power, or social distinction, and to these ends it inclines to harness every energy of mind and body.
The third,--"the pride of life,"--is the blossom of selfishness, so abhorrent to God and to all good men. It is that disposition in a man which glories in his shame. When the lusts of the flesh and the lusts of the eyes have brought their curse of narrowness, bigotry and conceit; and when they have gone further in depriving fellow-men of their rights and privileges, then pride, the exultation of meanness, has its short triumph, and loftily soars above the unfortunate subjects of its power and gloats over the desolation it has wrought.
These three points of attack by the great enemy are the points which the Lord would have us guard with unwearied vigilance. Be sober, be vigilant, and watch that the enemy gain no approach to the citadel of your heart by any one of these routes.
That he makes repeated attacks is certain; and that these attacks come suddenly and without warning, and often with terrible force, is a matter of experience with all: hence the necessity for sober and constant vigilance. Be assured the ever watchful enemy will take advantage of our unguarded moments and our unfortified conditions if such there be. Even with all the watchfulness and readiness which we can command, the ability to withstand the enemy and to resist his attacks causes more or less suffering, and often taxes the powers of endurance to the utmost. Indeed, we must expect that the tension on our powers of endurance will sometimes be so great as to threaten disruption, and as to surely cause it if we trust to our own strength. We are forewarned to think not strange of the fiery trial that shall surely try us if we are indeed the sons of God and soldiers of Christ, as though some strange thing happened unto us. (`1 Pet. 4:12-16`.) These things should be expected and carefully prepared for by the Christian soldier.
Peter intimates that the power by which we are to resist the adversary is the power of faith--"whom resist, steadfast in the faith." And John expresses the same thought, saying, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (`1 John 5:4`.) If we are not strong in the faith, how can we endure hardness for it? Faith must grasp the exceeding great and precious promises of God and appreciate their value. Faith must lay hold also upon the power of God and find the grace to help in every time of need. And faith in a personal righteous God, whose eye is ever upon us, must steadily cultivate those elements of character which are always pleasing and acceptable to him, and which Peter tells us are most essential to our final overcoming in this warfare.--`2 Pet. 1:5-10`.
He urges that, in addition to our faith in the exceeding great and precious promises which inspire zeal and give us renewed courage, we should give all diligence to add to our faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity." Then he adds, "For if ye do these things, ye shall never fall."
The steady persistent cultivation of these graces of character will also clarify our spiritual vision, enabling us the more fully to comprehend the truth of God, and thus, "by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left," we shall be able to "withstand all the fiery darts of the adversary" and to win the victory of faith and make our calling and election sure.
With this view of the great battle of life to the Christian, what a work we realize to be before us, and what necessity for sobriety, vigilance and steadfastness! It is a life work, a life battle against a mighty foe intrenched in our flesh.
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The powers without are strong indeed, but the civil war with the powers within is by far the most to be dreaded. If we become in any measure intoxicated with the spirit of the world;--if we give way to self-gratification, love of ease, pleasure, a little indulgence of any
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of the old dispositions of envy, malice, pride, vain-glory, vaunting of self, headiness, highmindedness, wrath, strife, or any such thing--even a little, Oh, how great is the peril to which we are exposed!
Beloved, let us war a good warfare against the world, the flesh and the devil, seeking and finding, daily and hourly, fresh supplies of grace; for every day and every hour is a time of need if we are but awake to realize it. It is to the warfare with the powers intrenched within that we are again referred, when it is said, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." (`Prov. 16:32`.) Yes, the task is a greater one, and represents a greater, as well as a nobler, effort. Let us fight the good fight of faith along this line. Let our lives be a daily and hourly struggle to overcome the evil that is in ourselves, to purify and beautify our own characters. Thus shall we be the more fully prepared to strive faithfully and steadily against the foes without --to war a good warfare to the end.
The Apostle, out of the fulness of his love and sympathy for all his comrades in the army of the Lord, adds to his earnest exhortation this parting benediction--"The God of all grace who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." It is only through endurance of hardness as good soldiers of Christ that this desirable condition can be attained--viz., perfect self-control and ability to resist evil, established faith, patience and virtue, settled, abiding rest in Christ, and hope through his word of promise. This undoubtedly was the Apostle's own experience as he grew old in the Master's service, and so may it be ours. Let each departing year find us nearer the glorious summit of perfection!
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PEACE! PERFECT PEACE!
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee."--`Isa. 26:3`.
Peace! perfect peace! in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.
Peace! perfect peace! by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.
Peace! perfect peace! with sorrows surging 'round?
On Jesus' bosom nought but calm is found.
Peace! perfect peace! 'mid suffering's keenest throes?
The sympathy of Jesus brings repose.
Peace! perfect peace! with loved ones far away?
In Jesus' keeping we are safe, and they.
Peace! perfect peace! our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and he is on the throne.
Peace! perfect peace! death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.
It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus call us to heaven's perfect peace.
E. H. BICKERSTETH.
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"REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE."
IT WAS in connection with our Master's prophetic warnings respecting the trials of the present day that he used the words, "Remember Lot's wife" (`Luke 17:32`); and their significance should be comprehended by all who are walking in the light.
The lesson is that those who, under the special guidance of the Lord, are now fleeing for life to the mountain of the Lord's Kingdom, will be held to a much stricter account than others. Lot and his family were not accused of sharing the evil practices of the Sodomites: his wife's outward fault was merely that of looking back; but we may reasonably suppose that this implied a heart out of harmony with her deliverance and in some degree sympathetic with the evil things and evil people which God had condemned as unworthy of life. She at heart clung to the accursed things, even though she did not outwardly return to them, but fled from them; and therefore God brought her no further. She became a monument of the folly of sympathizing with evil-doers after knowing that God has given them up.
Quite a number now need to have their attention called to the antitype of this incident referred to by our Lord as typical. Quite a number are disposed to sympathize and fraternize with those who are under divine condemnation now, and as such sentenced to the second death, destruction, typified by the destruction of Sodom, which we are directly told was "set forth as an example" or type.--`Jude 7`.
Those who assume to be more gracious and long suffering than the Lord make of themselves opponents, who, instead of being students of the principles of righteousness, attempt to be judges and teachers of Jehovah. The proper attitude of heart accepts God's conduct as not only wiser, but more just than our own; and consequently when we see any who have ever enjoyed the light of present truth abandoned by the Lord and led into outer-darkness,
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we are to conclude that before being thus abandoned there must have been in them "an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." "He is faithful who hath promised," "If any man will do my Father's will, he shall know of my doctrine." Whoever therefore loses the doctrines of Christ after once having had them, has surely done more than get his head confused. His heart had separated from the Lord's ways previously; for as long as we abide in him as his "elect," it will not be possible for any of the snares of this evil day to entrap us, and none shall pluck us out of the hand of the Lord our Shepherd.
It is proper for us to be watchful of each other's welfare doctrinally as well as otherwise. When we see a brother walking contrary to the Lord's instruction into the snare of the wicked, we are to "have compassion," and while praying for him we are to use our best judgment as to how to help him, "making a difference" according to the circumstances of the case. Some should be dealt with energetically --"pulling them out of the fire." (`Jude 22,23`.) But while we should always be on the alert to render assistance whenever needed, to convert a brother from the error of his ways (`James 5:19,20`), we should make no such effort for him as would tend to make us fall from our own steadfastness into the error of the wicked.--`2 Pet. 3:17`.
When we see others walking in forbidden paths, in the way of transgressors, we are not to follow them there in order to help them out; but to show them the right path by keeping in it and calling to them. When we see some confusing themselves with doctrines and teachings of men, when they know that they are fundamentally wrong, we are not to wade through those doctrines in order to help them out; but we are to remind them that the study of any doctrine which will not square with the foundation is not only a misuse of consecrated time, but that all trifling with that which we know to be error is wrong and dangerous, as all violations of conscience and principle are dangerous.
For instance, at the very foundation of all Christian doctrine lies the doctrine of the ransom. It implies that God is holy and man a sinner. It implies that God is just as well as loving. It implies recovery or restitution, as well as a fall into sin and death. Any teaching, therefore, which either openly denies, or quietly ignores, the "ransom for all, to be testified in due time," must be a doctrine at variance with the doctrines of God's revelation, whether it be old or new, whether advocated by friends or foes, the learned or the unlearned, in the name of evolution or in some other name. Our attitude toward it should be prompt and decided opposition. If others waver we who have learned that this is the test by which all things are to be proved need not waver. If friends get into the quicksands of no-ransom errors, whose name now is legion, and which are growing continually, we should lend them a helping hand to get out, "pulling them out of the fire," by reminding them of the Rock Christ Jesus, whereon our feet of faith are firmly established, and throwing to them the rope of divine promises throughout which is woven the scarlet thread of the ransom, and exhort them to come back to the rock and not attempt to find another rock at the bottom of the quicksands. And we must use great plainness of speech in showing them their danger and in pointing out their way of escape.
We must not accept their invitation to join with them in exploring what men can say or write which would tend to make the Word of God of none effect, which would claim that God has all along been the sinner and man his dupe; or that the hope of mankind is in their own evolution and not in the ransom and restitution of Scripture; or that he who redeemed will not be the same who will, as the Good Physician, restore and bless all who will accept his grace "in due time." If, after kind and faithful remonstrance on your part, they still persist in exploring and delving into such evident contradictions of God's Word, let them go. Remember that there must be something wrong at their hearts, else they would have no pleasure in the unfruitful works of darkness, but would rather reprove them; and their delight would be in the great divine plan of the ages. (`Psa. 1:1-6`.) Remember, too, that God has promised to keep and guide the minds of those whose hearts are loyal and true to him. We should, therefore, conclude that if the Lord is either thrusting any one out of the light, as unworthy of it, into the outer darkness of the world, or if he is permitting unfaithful ones to be seduced by the great enemy, it is not our mission to follow them into the outer darkness in conversation, reading, etc., but to remain with the Lord and with those who walk in the light, and to seek others to take the places and the crowns of those who deny or ignore the precious blood of the covenant wherewith once they were sanctified.--`Rev. 3:11`; `Heb. 10:29-31`.
Neither are we to waste sympathy upon those who depart. If we can neither persuade them nor pull them out of the fire, we must let them go, and should turn at once and render aid to others more worthy. When the Lord has put any one out of the light (`Matt. 22:13,14`), we cannot hope to bring them back. Had it been proper for them to stay in the light he would not have permitted them to be put out of it.
We do not here refer to slight differences in understanding which should be patiently dealt with, and explained or overlooked, as all the children of one school have not
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attained to the same "step" or degree of knowledge; but we do refer to those radical differences, all of which may be quickly proved by the test of the ransom doctrine. If they agree not with this, it is because there is no light in them. And such are to be to us no longer brothers in Christ, but should be considered and treated as of the world--"as a heathen man or a publican." Such are not to be numbered among our friends; for the friendship of such is enmity against God. We are not to receive or entertain such at our houses, nor to bid them or their work God-speed in any manner. (`2 John 8-11`.) Some
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who have neglected the plain statement of God's Word on this subject have suffered spiritually for their disobedience.
Let us more and more be of one mind with the Lord. His friends only must be our friends; his enemies only our enemies. If we affiliate with the Lord's enemies we will at least get into a lukewarm condition towards him and his friends; and the lukewarm he will spew out of his mouth. And we want to cultivate warmth of heart toward all who trust in the precious blood and are consecrated to our Redeemer as the only Lord. There must be no lukewarmness there. Whatever their peculiarities according to the flesh, we cannot be otherwise than "brothers" to them in spirit, with all that helpfulness and sympathy which brotherhood in and with Christ implies.
But we will not, must not, cannot have any fellowship with the ungodly, the sinner against light and truth, nor the scorners of the grace of God. Whoever are our Lord's enemies must be our enemies, because enemies of the light, the truth, the way: and although if they are destitute we should feed them (`Rom. 12:20`), yet so long as they are the opponents and adversaries of the Lord's cause, of which Christ and his cross are the centre, they are our adversaries and we theirs. The Lord loves positiveness with harmlessness, and of us it should be true, as it is prophetically written of our Lord and the true members of his body in `Psalm 139:16-24`.
Whoever therefore is being led of the Lord's messengers to the place of safety, as were Lot and his family delivered from the destruction of Sodom, let him "remember Lot's wife" and not look back or otherwise manifest sympathy with those whom the Lord has condemned and abandoned to destruction.
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"THEY HAD ALL THINGS IN COMMON."
"And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people."--`Acts 2:44-47`.
SUCH was the spontaneous sentiment of the early Church: selfishness gave place to love and general interest. Blessed experience! And without doubt a similar sentiment, more or less clearly defined, comes over the hearts of all who are truly converted. When first we got a realizing sense of God's love and salvation, when we gave ourselves completely to the Lord and realized his gifts to us, which pertain not only to the life that now is, but also to that which is to come--we felt an exuberance of joy, which found in every fellow-pilgrim toward the heavenly Canaan, a brother or a sister, in whom we trusted as related to the Lord and having his spirit; and we were disposed to deal with them all as we would with the Lord, and to share with them our all, as we would share all with our Redeemer. And in many instances it was by a rude shock that we were awakened to the fact that neither we nor others are perfect in the flesh; and that no matter how much of the Master's spirit his people now possess, they "have this treasure in earthen vessels" of human frailty and defection.
Then we learned, not only that the weaknesses of the flesh of other men had to be taken into account, but that our own weaknesses of the flesh needed constant guarding. We found that whilst all had shared Adam's fall, all had not fallen alike, or in exactly the same particulars. All have fallen from God's likeness and spirit of love, to Satan's likeness and spirit of selfishness: and as love has diversities of operation, so has selfishness. Consequently, selfishness working in one has wrought a desire for ease, sloth, indolence; in another it produced energy, labor for the pleasures of this life, self-gratification, etc.
Among those actively selfish some take self-gratification in amassing a fortune, and having it said, He is wealthy; others gratify their selfishness by seeking honor of men; others in dress, others in travel, others in debauchery and the lowest and meanest forms of selfishness.
Each one begotten to the new life in Christ, with its new spirit of love, finds a conflict begun, fightings within and without; for the new spirit wars with whatever form of selfishness or depravity formerly had control of us. The new "mind of Christ," whose principles are justice and love, asserts itself; and reminds the will that it has assented to and covenanted this change. The desires of the flesh (the selfish desires, whatever their bent), aided by the outside influences of friends, argue and discuss the question; urging that no radical measures must be taken--that such a course would be foolish, insane, impossible. The flesh insists that the old course cannot be changed, but will agree to slight modifications, and to do nothing as extreme as before.
The vast majority of God's people seem to agree to this partnership, which is really still the reign of selfishness. But others insist that the spirit or mind of Christ shall have the control. The battle which ensues is a hard one (`Gal. 5:16,17`); but the new will conquers, and self, with its own selfishness, or depraved desires, is reckoned dead.-- `Col. 2:20`; `3:3`; `Rom. 6:2-8`.
But does this end the battle forever? No;--
"Ne'er think the victory won,
Nor once at ease sit down;
Thine arduous task will not be done
Till thou shalt gain thy crown."
Ah, yes! we must renew the battle daily, and help divine implore and receive, that we may finish our course with joy. We must not only conquer self, but as the Apostle did, we must keep our bodies under. (`1 Cor. 9:27`.) And this, our experience, that we must be constantly on the alert against the spirit of selfishness, and to support and promote in ourselves the spirit of love, is the experience of all who likewise have "put on Christ" and taken his will to be theirs. Hence the propriety of the Apostle's remark,
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"Henceforth know we no man [in Christ] after the flesh." We know those in Christ according to their new spirit, and not according to their fallen flesh. And if we see them fail sometimes, or always to some degree, and yet see evidences that the new mind is wrestling for the mastery, we are properly disposed to sympathize rather than to berate for little failures; "remembering ourselves lest we also be tempted [of our old selfish nature in violation of some of the requirements of the perfect law of Love]."
Under "the present distress," therefore, while each has all that he can do to keep his own body under and the spirit of love in control, sound judgment as well as experience and the Bible tells us that we would best not complicate matters by attempting communistic schemes; but each make as straight paths as possible for his own feet, that that which is lame in our fallen flesh be not turned entirely out of the way, but that it be healed.
(1) Sound Judgment says that if the saints with divine help have a constant battle to keep selfishness subject to love, a promiscuous colony or communism would certainly not succeed in ruling itself by a law utterly foreign to the spirit of the great majority of its members. And it would be impossible to establish a communism of saints only, because we cannot read the hearts--only "the Lord knoweth them that are his." And if such a colony of saints could be gotten together, and if it should prosper with all things in common, all sorts of evil persons would seek to get their possessions or to share them; and if successfully excluded they would say all manner of evil against them; and so, if it held together at all, the enterprise would not be a real success.
Some saints, as well as many of the world, are so fallen into selfish indolence that nothing but necessity will help them to be, "not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." And many others are so selfishly ambitious that they need the buffetings of failure and adversity to mellow them and enable them to sympathize with others; or even to bring them to deal justly with others.
Such communities, if left to the rule of the majority, would sink to the level of the majority; for the progressive, active minority, finding that nothing could be gained by energy and thrift, over carelessness and sloth, would also grow careless and indolent. If governed by organizers of strong will, as Life Trustees and Managers, on a paternal principle, the result would be more favorable financially; but the masses, deprived of personal responsibility, would degenerate into mere tools and slaves of the Trustees.
To sound judgment it therefore appears, that the method
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of individualism, with its liberty and responsibility, is the best one for the development of intelligent beings; even though it may work hardships many times to all, and sometimes to many.
Sound judgment can see that if the Millennial Kingdom were established in the earth, with the divine rulers then promised, backed by unerring wisdom and full power to use it, laying "judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet," and ruling not by consent of majorities, but by righteous judgment, and as "with a rod of iron"-- then communism could succeed; probably it would be the very best condition, and if so it will be the method chosen by the King of kings. But for that we wait; and not having the power or the wisdom to use such theocratic power, the spirit of a sound mind simply bides the Lord's time, praying meanwhile, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." And after Christ's Kingdom shall have brought all the willing back to God and righteousness, and shall have destroyed all the unwilling, then, with love the rule on earth as it is in heaven, we may suppose that men will share heaven's mercies in common, as do the angels now.
(2) Experience proves the failure of communistic methods in the present time. There have been several such communities tried for many years; and the result has always been failure. The Oneida Community of New York is one, whose failure has long been recognized by sensible people. Another, the Harmony Society of Pennsylvania, soon showed that the hopes of its founders met failure, for so much discord prevailed that it divided. The split-off, known as Economites, also located near Pittsburg. It flourished for a while, after a fashion, but it is now quite withered; and possession of its property is now being disputed in the Society and in the courts of law. The leading men in the Community have about died out, and the unintelligent and ambitionless who clung to them for a home, a living and a head, are likely to be gulled into the control of Cyrus Teed, a false Christ, who would like to handle their money. And other societies are starting now, which will be far less successful than these, because the times are different: independence is greater, respect and reverence is less, majorities will rule, and without wiser leaders are sure to fail. Wise worldly leaders are looking out for themselves, while wise Christians are busy in other channels,--obeying the command, "Go thou and preach the gospel."
(3) The Bible does not teach Communism, but does teach loving considerate Individualism, except in the sense of family communism--each family acting as a unit, of which the father is the head and the wife one with him, his fellow-heir of the grace of life, his partner in every joy and benefit as well as in every adversity and sorrow.
True, God permitted a communistic arrangement in the primitive Church, referred to at the beginning of this article; but this may have been for the purpose of illustrating to us the unwisdom of the method; and lest some, thinking of the scheme now, should conclude that the apostles did not command and organize communities, because they lacked the wisdom to concoct and carry out such methods. For not a word can be quoted from our Lord or the apostles advocating the communistic principles; but much to the contrary.
True, the Apostle Peter (and probably others) knew of and cooperated in that first communistic arrangement, even if he did not teach the system. It has been inferred,
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too, that the death of Ananias and Sapphira was an indication that the giving of all the goods of the believers was compulsory; but not so: their sin was that of lying, as Peter declared in reviewing the case. While they had the land there was no harm in keeping it if they got it honestly; and even after they had sold it no harm was done: the wrong was in misrepresenting that the sum of money turned in was their all, when it was not their all. They were attempting to cheat the others, by getting a share of their all without giving their own all.
As a matter of fact, the Christian Community at Jerusalem was a failure. "There arose a murmuring"--"because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." Although under the Apostolic inspection the Church was pure, free from "tares," and all had the treasure of the new spirit or "mind of Christ," yet evidently that treasure was only in warped and twisted earthen vessels which could not get along well together; because while all were blemished, all were not blemished in the same manner and degree.
The apostles soon found that the management of the community would greatly interfere with their real work-- their commission to preach the gospel--"That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, beginning at Jerusalem." So they abandoned those things to others. The Apostle Paul and others traveled from city to city preaching Christ and him crucified; but, so far as the record shows, they never mentioned Communism and never organized a Community: and yet St. Paul declares, "I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God." This proves that Communism is no part of the gospel, nor of the counsel of God for this age.
On the contrary, the Apostle Paul exhorted and instructed the Church to do things which it would be wholly impossible to do as members of a communistic society --to each "provide for his own;" to "lay by on the first day of the week" money for the Lord's service, according as the Lord had prospered them; that servants should obey their masters, rendering the service with a double good will if the master were also a brother in Christ; and how masters should treat their servants, as those who must themselves give an account to the great Master, Christ.--`1 Tim. 5:8`; `6:1`; `1 Cor. 16:2`; `Eph. 6:5-9`.
Our Lord Jesus not only did not establish a Community while he lived, but he never taught that such should be established. On the contrary, in his parables he taught,-- that all have not the same number of pounds or talents given them, that each is a steward and should individually (not collectively, as a commune) manage his own affairs, and render his own account. (`Matt. 25:14-28`; `Luke 19:13-24`. See also `James 4:13,15`.) And, when dying, our Lord commended his mother to the care of his disciple John, and the record of `John (19:27`) is, "And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." John, therefore, had a home; so had Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Had our Lord formed a Community he would, doubtless, have commended his mother to it instead of to John.
Moreover, the forming of a Commune of believers is opposed to the purpose and methods of the Gospel age. The object of this age is to witness Christ to the world, and thus to "take out a people for his name;" and to this end each believer is exhorted to be a burning and a shining light before men--the world in general--and not before and to each other merely. Hence, after permitting the first Christian Commune to be established, to show that the failure to establish Communes generally was not an oversight, the Lord broke it up, and scattered the believers everywhere, to preach the gospel to every creature. We read,-- "And at that time there was a great persecution against the Church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles," and they went everywhere preaching the gospel.--`Acts 8:1,4`; `11:19`.
It is still the work of God's people to shine as lights in the midst of the world, and not to shut themselves up in convents and cloisters or as communities. The promises of Paradise will not be realized by joining such Communes. We advise all TOWER readers to have neither part nor lot in such communities. The desire to join is but a part of the general spirit of our day against which we are forewarned. (`Isa. 8:12`.) "Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for him." He will establish righteousness and equity in the earth. "Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of Man."--`Luke 21:36`.
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--SEPT. 8.--`JOSH. 14:5-14`.--
Golden Text.--"He wholly followed the Lord God of Israel."--`Josh. 14:14`.
IN ALL the promises to the faithful prior to the Gospel age there were no intimations of spiritual things,--of the high calling to joint-heirship with Christ, of the privilege of being transformed new creatures, partakers of the divine nature, etc. Thus, for instance, Caleb wholly followed the Lord God of Israel and received as his reward a choice portion of the land of Canaan.
We observe also many similar promises made to Israel as a nation conditioned on their obedience to God and their faith and loyalty:--They should eat the good of the land; their days should be long upon the land which the Lord gave them; their enemies should not triumph over them; they should be blessed in basket and store, etc., etc. These were the immediate temporal rewards of earthly things promised to the obedient. But the promises to be realized to them even beyond the grave were also of an earthly kind. To Abraham God said, "Lift up now thine eyes and look from the place where thou art, northward and
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southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever." And Stephen and Paul, referring to this earthly promise to Abraham and to his seed according to the flesh, remind us that this promise was never fulfilled to Abraham in his past life (nor has it yet been fulfilled to his posterity --"for an everlasting possession"); but that he died in faith believing that when he should be awakened from death in due time the promise would be verified.--`Acts 7:5`; `Heb. 11:8-10`.
These observations suggest several important questions. --(1) May the Christian expect the temporal rewards or earthly prosperity as a present reward of faithfulness to God? (2) Shall the spiritual seed of Abraham share the earthly inheritance with the fleshly seed? or (3), vice versa, If the higher promises were made to the spiritual seed, the Gospel Church, can they apply also to the fleshly seed?
Considering the second question first, we answer, No; for the saints of the Gospel age are to be changed from the human to the spiritual, divine nature. They are to be made like unto Christ's glorious body, who is now "the express image of the Father"--"the King immortal, invisible and dwelling in light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see;" and with Christ they are to inherit all things. (`1 Cor. 15:51-53`; `Phil. 3:21`; `2 Pet. 1:4`; `Phil. 1:5`; `1 Tim. 1:17`; `6:16`; `Rev. 21:7`; `Rom. 8:17`.) While the fleshly seed of Abraham will rejoice to sit, each man, under his own vine and fig tree with none to molest or make them afraid (`Micah 4:4`), the spiritual seed will be reigning with Christ in glory, and from their exalted position will be able to bless all the families of the earth; and not only so, but even to judge angels.--`Gen. 28:14`; `Gal. 3:16,29`; `1 Cor. 6:3`.
Nor can the fleshly seed of Abraham, even the most worthy and faithful prophets and martyrs, inherit the "exceeding great and precious promises" which belong to a subsequent dispensation of divine favor; for it is written that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,"-- the spiritual plane of that kingdom being here referred to, --though they will inherit its earthly phase, as it is written: "Ye [unfaithful Jews] shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God [the earthly phase], and you yourselves thrust out." (`Luke 13:28`.) These two phases of the kingdom will be in communication and cooperation during the Millennium--the one, the higher, spiritual and invisible, and the other, perfect human and visible among men. Thus it is written, "Out of Zion [the spiritual phase] shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem [the human, visible phase]." (`Isa. 2:3`.) And while the promise to Abraham, "In thee and in thy seed ['which seed', says Paul, 'is Christ'-- Head and body] shall all the families of the earth be blessed," shall be fulfilled in the spiritual seed primarily, yet the exalted earthly phase of the kingdom are to be the blessed channels or agencies through which the blessing shall flow to all the kindreds of the earth. And thus, as the Apostle declares, the promise of God--"In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed"-- shall be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law (the fleshly seed), but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.--`Rom. 4:16`; `Gal. 3:16,29`.
This calls to mind the two phases of the kingdom of God as presented in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chap. XIV., and the separate and distinct inheritance and office of each. We are also reminded of the Lord's teaching that not all the natural descendants of Abraham are to be heirs with him of the promise, but only such as Abraham would be honored in owning as sons--such as partake of his spirit or disposition.--See `John 8:39,44`.
While to the natural seed of Abraham is promised all the land which Abraham saw, and the privilege of dwelling in it in safety, and while the inheritors of the earthly phase of the kingdom are to be princes in all the earth (`Psa. 45:16`), to the spiritual seed of Abraham, which seed is Christ-- Head and body--are given the "exceeding great and precious promises."--`2 Pet. 1:4`.
This brings us to the consideration of our first inquiry, May the Christian expect the rewards of earthly prosperity for his faithfulness to God, either in the present life, or in that which is to come?
We have already shown that Christians, members of the body of Christ, have beyond this life "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven" for them (`1 Pet. 1:4`); consequently the earthly inheritance of human perfection and a peaceful home, each under his own vine and fig tree, could not confine to earth the immortal spirit beings, partakers of the divine nature, the scope of whose powers must necessarily extend to the utmost bounds of creation.
Nor can the rewards of present temporal prosperity in worldly things be expected by those who are running for the prize of this high calling to glory, honor and immortality as kings and priests unto God; for the way to the crown is the way of the cross, the way of sacrifice, as well to every member of the body of Christ as it was to our Head and Lord, Christ Jesus. He was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;" the reproaches of them that reproached God fell upon him; though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor; so poor that he said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." There was no reward of earthly prosperity for the Lord's faithfulness, but the reverse--privation and persecution were realized, even unto death. And the servant is not above his Lord: if they have persecuted him they will persecute us also; and the reproaches of them that reproached him will also fall upon us. The only present reward for which the followers of Christ may look is the heartfelt manifestations of the Lord's love and approval. "In the world," said he, "ye shall have tribulation, but in me ye shall have peace."
It should be observed also that while rewards of temporal prosperity were promised and given to fleshly Israel as a nation and as individuals, yet the very cream of that nation, the faithful patriarchs and prophets received no such temporal rewards, but like the Gospel Church, they endured hardness as good soldiers and nobly fought the good fight of faith; and their abundant reward will be in the glory of the earthly phase of the Kingdom of God. Note the account of their faithful endurance as recorded by Paul in `Heb. 11`.
The temporal rewards and punishments and general discipline of fleshly Israel were typical of the Lord's similar discipline of the world in the age to come; while his selection out from among that people of a worthy class of overcomers for the earthly phase of the Kingdom was typical of his selection during the Gospel age of a class of overcomers for the spiritual phase of the Kingdom. In any case, it pays to wholly follow the Lord God of Israel, who is a rewarder of all them that diligently seek him to walk in his ways.--`Heb. 11:6`; `Prov. 8:32-36`.
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THE CITIES OF REFUGE.
--SEPT. 15.--`JOSH. 20:1-9`.--
Golden Text.--"Who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us."--`Heb. 6:18`.
THE cities of refuge were appointed in Israel for the protection against summary punishment of any who might accidentally take human life, but not for any wilful murderer. There were six of these cities in central localities, to any one of which the man-slayer might fly and there find protection until his case could be legally tried. These cities did not shelter the wilful murderer, but the authorities, after a fair trial, delivered such up to the just penalty of their crime, which was death.--`Deut. 19:11-13`; `Num. 35:30-34`.
If the killing proved to be accidental the man-slayer must still remain in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest then in office. This restraint upon his liberty was the penalty for his carelessness, and thus an additional protection to human life.
This feature of the typical Mosaic law strongly foreshadowed the refuge which the sinner may find in Christ. He is our shield and hiding-place from the penalty of all sin, save that which is wilful. He is no shelter for obstinate, unrepentant sinners; but for every one born in sin and shapen in iniquity, and thus sinners by the accident of birth or heritage, yet earnestly desirous of escaping from sin and its just consequences, and seeking refuge in him by faith, there is protection. We are all under sentence of death; Justice is the avenger; and only those in Christ are shielded.
But, mark you, the sinner must continue to abide in this city of refuge as long as the high priest liveth--i.e., as long as Christ continues in the priestly office, which will be until he is able to present all the redeemed who abide in him under the New Covenant conditions faultless before the throne of God, at the end of his Millennial reign as king and priest. Then, being made actually perfect by the great Redeemer-Physician, they will be able to stand, not in the imputed or reckoned righteousness of another, as formerly, but in their own glorious perfection, yet never forgetful of the great atoning sacrifice and the patient work of restitution which made possible such a glorious consummation.
Like the cities of refuge Christ is easy of access to all who diligently seek him, and who have no will in opposition to righteousness, nor to any of his measures of just and righteous discipline.
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I desire to write you at this time. I seem to be learning more and more the necessity of watching against the spirit of division, which Satan seems more and more trying to inject into the Church, if possible, to overthrow the faith of some. When I think of well-informed men that have fallen, because of not watching against that hydra-headed monster, Envy, it makes me tremble. And I ask myself: "Can it possibly be that I may live too unguarded, and finally forsake the Truth and be a 'cast-away'?" Oh, yes, it is possible, but I pray, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit
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[of love] within me." Satan would have me to enviously harbor evil against a dear brother some times, and then my only refuge is "the precious blood" of Christ. How I realize that this "earthen vessel" needs to be constantly replenished with the spirit of the truth, oil, lest the fires of love go out. May the dear Lord keep all the precious sheep safe and secure. And this he certainly will do if our part be done. "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God." (`Prov. 4:23`; `Heb. 12:15`.) This I want to do.
May the precious love of our dear Lord be a consolation to you, my dear Brother, in all your labors for his name's sake. Also may the dear ones in the office be shielded from every fiery dart, by "the breastplate of faith and love." They are dear brethren and sisters, yet I see they are open to an attack from the Evil one in a way others are not. How necessary the warning of the Apostle: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
Oh, that the constant prayer of all may be, Lord, "Keep thou my way for me." I find that we Colporteurs need to "watch and pray" constantly, especially where there are two or more together, lest the spirit of division creep in there too. May we all "walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."--`Eph. 4:1-3`.
Yours in the hope of our high calling,
JAMES D. WRIGHT.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Your letter with the volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN at hand, and I have found much pleasure in studying them. I find food that no other book outside the Bible has given me. Thank God that millions of heathen Chinese who have no knowledge of that "only name whereby men must be saved" are to be given a knowledge! I have felt since I have been in China that all my faith had been taken away, and many times, when facing realities, as if I should die in the struggle. I find much opposition to what seems to me to be the correct interpretation of the Scriptures, and while I stand alone in a sense, yet I am perfectly happy and God blesses me.
I enjoy the TOWER very much, and would like to send you the money for DAWNS and TOWER but I haven't it. Since I withdrew from the Alliance Mission I have had no stated salary, and many times am short of what many would call the necessities of life; but my needs have all been supplied; praise God!
I have many things to think about, and it is not easy to surmount the hills of difficulty. I need the prayers of faith, and trust you will remember me sometimes when at the throne of grace. God bless and use you abundantly!
In the hope of his coming, G. HOWARD MALONE.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Books duly to hand. Am now through with the third volume, and re-reading VOL. I., as there were very many things I did not see in it the first reading. I notice you say, that, if the readers derive one-fourth the joy from these books that the writer did in preparing same, you will be satisfied. I will say, four times the joy I received in reading them, is more than one man can hold; so your joy must be full. Yours in the Lord,
M. P. THORI.