ZWT - 1916 - R5821 thru R6024 / R5955 (273) - September 15, 1916
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VOL. XXXVII SEPTEMBER 15 No. 18
A. D. 1916--A.M. 6044
Danger in Spiritual Pride. . . . . . . . . . . 275
One Symptom of This Soul-Sickness . . . . . 276
Still further Symptoms. . . . . . . . . . . 276
Special Test Upon Elders and Deacons. . . . 277
Great Necessity for Self-Examination. . . . 279
God First--Self Last . . . . . . . . . . . . . 279
Application of Principles . . . . . . . . . 280
Justification--What? When? How?. . . . . . . 281
Cleansing of flesh Not Justification. . . . 281
The Appeal to Caesar . . . . . . . . . . . . . 282
St. Paul's Defense Before King Agrippa . . . . 283
The Voyage to Rome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 284
Days of Trial and Danger. . . . . . . . . . 284
Niagara and Nashville Conventions. . . . . . . 285
Interesting Letters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 286
The Lord has Strengthened His Heart . . . . 286
The Censer--The Fire--The Incense . . . . . 286
A Preacher Who Sees Light . . . . . . . . . 286
Manna, Vow, Morning Resolve Blessings . . . 287
Thought He Did God Service. . . . . . . . . 287
SEATTLE, WASH., SEPTEMBER 14 TO 17.
MILWAUKEE, WIS., SEPTEMBER 16 TO 24.
DAYTON, OHIO, OCTOBER 5 TO 8.
DALLAS, TEXAS, OCTOBER 19 TO 22.
SEATTLE, WASH., CONVENTION
Excursion rates for Seattle Convention, Sept. 14-17, have been secured, and all those arranging to attend can secure these by inquiring of their local Ticket Agent.
The Merchants' and Manufacturers' Assn., representing 1500 of the city's leading business men, have invited the INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDENTS ASSOCIATION to hold a Convention in the City of Milwaukee, Sept. 16 to 24. They have placed their splendid Auditorium at our disposal, its seating capacity being over 3000, with smaller halls conveniently connected with the main Auditorium.
RAILROAD RATES.--The Central Passenger Association informs us that they grant no excursion rates in their territory, owing to the fact that the two-cent per mile rate prevails. We have learned, however, that regular summer tourists' excursion rates prevail from many points in this territory, and also in North and South Dakota, Wyoming and certain parts of Minnesota. Friends coming from this territory should inquire of their local ticket agent about regular tourists' rates to Milwaukee, or to Chicago via Milwaukee.
A SPLENDID PROGRAM.--The Program contains the names of some of the Association's best speakers, and is a splendid one. Brother Russell will be present the latter part of the Convention. Arrangements are being made for an I.B.S.A. steamboat excursion on Lake Michigan Thursday afternoon, Sept. 21. Everything connected with the Convention arrangements leads us to believe that the Convention will be a profitable one, and we look for a large attendance.
DAYTON, OHIO, CONVENTION
Mayor G.W. Shroyer, of Dayton, has extended a hearty invitation to our Association to hold a Convention in this city. We have accepted the invitation and appointed the dates of October 5 to 8. Governor White has placed at our disposal the Soldiers' Home Memorial Hall, where the various sessions of the Convention will be held during the morning and afternoon, with the exhibition of the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION in the evening. We had hoped to secure special concessions from the railroads running into Dayton, but have been unable to do so. However, those contemplating attending the Convention would do well to inquire of their Ticket Agent regarding local rates. We are preparing a very attractive Program. Brother Russell will be present during the latter part of the Convention.
DALLAS, TEXAS, CONVENTION
The friends at Dallas inform us that exceptionally low excursion rates are granted their city on account of the Dallas State Fair, Oct. 19-22, and we have arranged for a four-day Convention to be held on these dates. The various Convention sessions will be held in Oak Cliff Casino, cor. Crawford and Fifth Sts., during the morning and afternoon: the PHOTO-DRAMA will be shown at night. Brother Russell will be present during the latter part of the Convention. Those desiring information regarding rooms, railroad rates, etc., should communicate with E.G. Rust, 2517 Harrison Ave., Dallas, Texas.
I.B.S.A. BEREAN BIBLE STUDIES
FOR MONTH OF OCTOBER
MANUAL ON SERIES THIRD
"STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES"
STUDY VI.--"THE WORK OF THE HARVEST" STUDY VII.--"DELIVERANCE AND EXALTATION OF CHURCH"
Week of Oct. 1. Q. 148 to 153 Week of Oct. 15. Q. 161 to 166 Week of Oct. 8. Q. 154 to 160 Week of Oct. 22. Q. 1 to 7 Week of Oct. 29. Q. 8 to 14
Question Manuals on Vol. III., STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, 5c each: or 50c per dozen, postpaid.
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DANGER IN SPIRITUAL PRIDE
PRIDE in any form and in anybody is a dangerous thing. In a worldly way the proverb is well attested, "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall"; and surely very, very few people have anything of which they might justly be proud! Some who hold their heads high with the pride of a haughty spirit, as though they were especially created out of some preferable "dust of the earth," have really nothing to boast of as to ancestry. A very few generations back are generally sufficient for any boaster.
The world is learning that it is not wise to boast of riches, lest thereby some one ask how were the riches accumulated and by whom, and whether they were honestly obtained. Pride of education is not appropriate, either; for education in general signifies the learning of what other people have found out or have written as history. And in our day those who would boast of great education have need of humility lest it be found that the very thing that they are boasting about has been disproven by later researches. Scientific books of the year 1900 will not pass muster today, nor their theories stand in the light of present knowledge. So if it were right to boast of knowledge, the boaster would need to be very careful to keep up to date.
Pride of one's beauty or physical perfection is scarcely to be excused; for the beauty of form and feature came by heredity, and the parent rather than the child might have some reason for pride. Pride as respects clothing, adornments is also foolish. The maker of the fabrics or the ornaments might have some reason for pride in the handiwork, but surely the wearer has not! He is merely appropriating to himself the skill and labor of others.
SPIRITUAL PRIDE WORST OF ALL
But our theme is spiritual pride! We would divide it into two classes: first, the spiritual pride of the merely nominal or professing Christian; and second, the spiritual pride affecting true Christians.
The spiritual pride of the nominal church-goer is not all hypocrisy. He sees spiritual forms and ceremonies, hears spiritual songs and sermons, and in many instances is not aware but that he himself is a true Christian, as much so as any. Does he not go regularly to meeting? Is he not a regular contributor, not only to the expenses of the house of worship, but in general to the forwarding of the Lord's cause--charities, etc., as these are presented to him from time to time?
However they have lived during the week, however they have dealt with the butcher and the baker, most church-goers take a pleasurable pride in joining some of the showy groups moving toward church buildings. The spiritually proud usually prefer the showiest and most aristocratic and high-toned temples of worship. At the conclusion of the services they feel a self-satisfaction. Have they not worshiped God? Ought not all people to worship Him? How many others have not done so! They feel a spiritual pride or superiority when comparing themselves with non-attendants.
They went not for spiritual instruction; or even if any were given in the places visited, they were not themselves in condition to receive such--not being spirit-begotten. They had no real hunger for righteousness, for truth. They had merely satisfied a feeling of duty. They had in a sense done penance, and hoped that somehow, sometime it would inure to their advantage--perhaps saving them from some of the worst degrees of purgatorial sufferings-- perhaps even making them acceptable for Heaven. Why should not God feel grateful to them for having denied themselves and wasted a few of their precious hours to go worship Him?
Although they would not put it so, they feel in a measure that God would be very unjust if He would pass by such a matter and not reward it handsomely. They feel spiritually proud and self-satisfied, and so long as in that condition are not in a particle of danger of getting hold of the Truth. Nor need we suppose that the Great Adversary would especially give his attention to them, for they are very safely under his influence. Was he not the first to manifest pride and to say in his heart, "I will ascend above the sons of God [I will take a higher position than others]; I will be as the Most High"? Spiritual pride was evidently Satan's great mistake, which led to his complete downfall.
Some who make no pretense of belief in God or in the Lord Jesus Christ or in the Bible have what might be termed a sort of spiritual pride. They pride themselves on living a moral life, on being able to conduct themselves honorably and decently in life--never getting drunk, never doing some of the seriously immoral and perverse things that many others do. In pride and boastfulness they will say: "I feel myself just as good as any church member, and I never go to church." And by this they mean, "I feel myself to be better than any church member." They are merely mixing modesty of statement with pride of thought in the proportion which they think will best influence the hearer.
Press the inquiry a little further--as to what good works they especially rejoice in--and they will tell how as "Odd Fellows," "Masons," etc., they sat up one night with
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a brother of the Order who was not very sick, who did not need very much attention and who had a trained nurse anyway to take care of him; but they felt as though they had been doing a noble work of charity. In general, their pride is that they have not violated the laws; that they have lived decent, respectable lives. Is there really anything in this that is an occasion for pride, for special self-congratulation? What man or woman should not keep the laws and should not be ashamed if he failed to keep the laws--especially when we would remember that those laws were made--not for good people, but for evil-doers?
SPIRITUAL PRIDE IN THE TRUE CHURCH
Now we come down to the most serious thing of all! The pride which is merely foolish or semi-hypocritical in the world and in the nominal Christians becomes a very serious matter indeed if it invades the heart and the life of the child of God. But why do we make such a difference? Why say that spiritual pride would be so very dangerous in one of the Lord's saints, whereas it would be little more than foolishness in the world? Ah! the difference is that these are God's special representatives in the world, who must become copies of God's dear Son if they would ever attain to the glory, honor and immortality to which they have been invited by the Lord.
When they gave themselves entirely to the Lord and were justified from sin through the imputation of the Redeemer's sacrifice, and were thus introduced into the family of God and begotten of the Holy Spirit, it meant a great change for these. Old things passed away; all things became new. These, and these alone, are on trial during this Gospel Age for eternal life or eternal death. And of all their temptations and beguilements, the sin of spiritual pride is probably one of the most dangerous of all. In proportion as it comes in, the Spirit of the Lord departs, and the spirituality of the individual ceases. This spiritual sickness, unless curbed, would surely lead on to the Second Death, for "the Lord resisteth the proud and showeth His favor to the humble."--`James 4:6`.
The Apostle Peter evidently had this besetting danger of spiritual pride in mind when he wrote to the Church: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." (`1 Peter 5:6`.) "Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted," said the Master.
ONE SYMPTOM OF THIS SOUL-SICKNESS
How may we know spiritual pride? some one may inquire. One of the most serious things in this connection
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is that those who have spiritual pride very rarely are aware of it. They sometimes have forms of godliness which not only deceive others, but deceive themselves and hinder them from seeing the spiritual pride which is working and which others may more readily see.
When you feel that your attendance at meetings, your reading of so many pages of SCRIPTURE STUDIES per day, your distribution of so many tracts, or your circulation or loaning of so many books, are matters to be boasted of--then take care! That disposition to boast is an indication that you would be in danger of catching spiritual pride if circumstances were favorable. These are all good and laudable things, all proper things; and you should feel a proper degree of self-congratulation that you find yourself able and willing to turn from the daily newspaper or novel, the reading of chitchat, or the writing of chitchat, to do things so reasonable, so proper, so much in harmony with the Divine will. But any disposition to boast of the matter should lead you to a careful scrutiny of thought--of the motives lying behind these activities in the Lord's service.
We are not meaning to say that it would be improper to give a testimony in which all of these things might be brought forward as an encouragement to others or as a proof that we love the Lord and are anxious to serve Him. What we are cautioning against is a spirit, or disposition, to boast of anything that we might be or do as the Lord's children. We have nothing whereof to boast. If we gave all of our goods to feed the spiritually poor, all our time to circulating the Truth, and all of our energy to the honoring of the Lord's name, we should feel that, having done all, we had not really profited our Lord, but merely found an opportunity of showing Him a little of the devotion of our hearts in acknowledgment of the numberless blessings already received at His hand, and the still more wonderful favors which He has promised shall be ours, if faithful. Well did the poet write: "I want the first approach to feel
Of pride or fond desire!"
STILL FURTHER SYMPTOMS
Another form of this disease of spiritual pride manifests itself in a hypercritical attitude of mind. When one attends a testimony meeting, or a Berean class, and hears no real good testimony but his own, hears no proper answer except his own to any of the questions, never sees an Elder in the chair who knows how to lead a meeting anyway--these should be considered dangerous symptoms of spiritual pride.
Not that all these things might not possibly occur, but they are surely not likely to occur continually. It would be perfectly proper for us to give such attention, and to be so well informed, that we would be able to see quickly any unscriptural proceeding or any instance of very poor judgment that would be a hindrance to the effectiveness of the services. It would be proper, too, if ever we saw that the best interests of the class were not being served--and if, after waiting patiently for a while, we found that they were not likely to be corrected--it would be entirely proper for us, in a meek and quiet spirit, to call attention to the fault, either in the Class or to an elder, or whatever would be the most effective and least demonstrative way. "Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory," but everything for the glory of God.
And right there we need to be careful, too, lest we get into the way of thinking that everything that harmonizes with our ideas is to the glory of God, and that whatever would not harmonize with our ideas could not be pleasing to Him. Well did the Apostle write: "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools." (`Ephesians 5:15`.) Well do we see the meaning of this word "circumspectly"-- that it signifies with close scrutiny on every hand, especially as respects thoughts, motives, intentions.
"BE NOT MANY OF YOU TEACHERS"
Well did St. James write, "Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that a man shall receive the severer trial." (`James 3:1`.) While, as we have pointed out, all of the Lord's people are specially susceptible along the line of spiritual pride, there seems to be a special danger surrounding all who become in any manner identified with the promulgation of His Truth.
It is a special privilege, indeed, to tell out the Message of God's grace to all who have a hearing ear. How thankful we are that it is not--as it was once supposed-- the exclusive privilege of the clergy, but that the Lord declares that all who are His consecrated people and who receive the begetting of the holy Spirit have, through it, the anointing to preach the Good Tidings to the meek and to bind up the broken-hearted! (`Isaiah 61:1`.) We are glad of this privilege, which includes our private conversations
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with neighbors and friends. But what a privilege to be God's ambassadors, and in His name to tell of the coming Kingdom, of the great provision God has already made through the death of Jesus, of the grand outcome, and of how the kings and priests of that Kingdom are now being called out of the world, experiencing a change of nature in preparation for their future work!
Old as the Message is, it is so new and wonderful, if rightly presented, as to awaken astonishment in the honest-hearted who hear. They wonder, how did this ordinary man (or woman) ever come to understand and be able so beautifully to portray these wonderful things? Perhaps they give a hint of their surprise. Then comes a danger-moment for taking the disease of spiritual pride. Just a little swing of the mind; and you think that it is wonderful that even you should know about such things when the great mass of mankind have not the remotest conception of them, and that even some of the ablest and most talented ministers of the Word of God are ignorant respecting these things in the Bible.
If you are taking the disease of spiritual pride you will doubtless feel a straightening of your back. You are beginning to feel more important, and to look more dignified and to feel that, after all, you are somebody great. Your voice indicates this, too; and your hearer notices it. Then he begins to feel that it is not the Word of the Lord, but that, as you seem to admit, it is something that you made up--something that you are responsible for, and he thinks less of it on that account.
The proper attitude, as all will agree, is that the Lord's people should feel greatly humbled instead of greatly exalted and heady in respect to these opportunities for telling the Truth to others. We should feel our unworthiness. We should realize that the Plan is not ours; that we have merely heard of it ourselves; that it is really God's Plan; that we are honored as His servants to tell it out. But if we allow any impression to go out that it is by any wisdom on our part, or any skill, that the beauty is seen in the Message, then to that extent we are taking glory to ourselves which belongs to the Lord, and doing injury to ourselves proportionately by failing to demonstrate our worthiness to be used by the Lord in the present and in the future. The wonderful privilege of speaking as ambassadors for the Lord, to tell of His greatness and Plan should humble us with the thought that He has privileged us, whereas He has angels, who excel in strength and whom He might have used in communicating this most wonderful Message.
SPECIAL TEST UPON ELDERS AND DEACONS
But the dear brethren chosen by the Classes to be their Elders and Deacons have a still further test to their humility. Apparently no one could occupy such a position without great danger of infection from the disease called spiritual pride. Sometimes the Lord's people seem entirely to forget the caution which St. Paul gave, saying that a novice, a beginner, one young in the Truth, no matter how bright, no matter how educated, should not be chosen to the service of Elder or Deacon because, as the Apostle remarked, he would be especially susceptible to this foe of the children of God--spiritual pride.--`1 Timothy 3:6`.
But not merely are the novices in danger. Everyone appointed to serve the Lord's people is thereby put into the place of great temptation, which might mean a spiritual fall and ruin in the Second Death. Perhaps the Lord's people have not been sufficiently considerate of these things as respects those whom they elect to be their servants. Perhaps those accepting these positions of service under the votes of the brethren scarcely realize what danger they do run in accepting. If they realized, doubtless that realization would make them hesitate about accepting at all; and humility would certainly lead them not to attempt to serve unless they were most explicitly appointed to the service.
But what do we find? Alas! in some a tendency to seek the eldership or deaconship. In some, even a tendency to "wire-pull" and bargain that they might be elected; in some a tendency to feel offended if they were not chosen; in some a tendency to feel angry with anybody who would vote against them in such an election. Alas! alas! if the dear brethren realized what was gnawing in their minds and urging them on to these things-- oh, what a different course they would take! In all meekness and humility they should feel a timidity even about taking a position where there would be such a responsibility. The admonition on this is that although all of the Church should, according to their knowledge of the Truth, be qualified to be teachers, nevertheless the safer place is not to be a teacher, knowing that such shall have the severer trial. Only a sense of responsibility to the Lord and to the brethren should make one willing to serve in such capacity, much as all ought to love to be the Lord's representatives in the Church.
Everything in the nature of pride, fond desire to be
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Elders or to be great, is not only dangerous to the person himself, but dangerous to the entire Class with which he is associated. The spirit is catching, just as is every disease. Strife, vain-glory, ambition, all contrary to the spirit of the Lord, soon appear. Next come anger, malice, envy, hatred, evil-speaking, evil-surmising. These, St. Paul tells us, are "works of the flesh and of the Devil." All this harm, all this spirit of the Adversary, is apt to be introduced into the class either by one or more of its Elders or Leaders, or by one or more who desire to be Elders or Leaders.
We are sorry that this is true, yet we know of a number of Classes containing many dear children of God, many of whom are otherwise exemplary, but who have gotten into this condition. Instead of the spirit of the Lord being fully in control, the evil spirit, or disposition, is frequently manifest in various ways in the meetings. The class fails to make progress, either numerically or spiritually. These are the bitter fruits of this noxious thing known as spiritual pride.
If we had but the power of language to hold it up before the readers of THE WATCH TOWER, that they might see it in its true shape and terrible color, the effect would surely be to cause an alarm in Zion! Fain would we ring the alarm bell from the "Watch Tower," for be it noted that these dear ones who are becoming thus involved are often grand characters, truly spirit-begotten children of God. Of some of them we know that in the past they ran the race splendidly. How sorry we feel to see signs that their characters are being transformed in a wrong direction! Let us heed Him who said, "By their fruits ye shall know them."--`Matthew 7:16`.
GUARDING AGAINST SPIRITUAL PRIDE
As already indicated, one of the serious things connected with this malady of spiritual pride is that those who have it are rarely aware of it. Another difficulty is that it is almost impossible to correct them and to cause them to know that they have the disease. If spoken to on the subject they seem to think at once that their benefactor is their enemy; that he is jealous of them; that he would like to get their position, etc. Hence the disease is nearly incurable, except as either the Class may assist or the Lord's providence may interpose.
If the Class notices the growth of such a disposition,
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it should quickly, and with love and good intention, merely fail to elect for any service to the Class the individual who seems to be getting top-heavy--spiritually proud. If this were resented, it should be considered all the more a necessity to leave the self-conscious one to cool off quietly and get his bearing--for his own good and that of the Class. Where the Class fails to help in this matter, apparently nothing remains except for the Lord to chasten the individual for his good, either with business reverses or losses or with physical disease, or in whatever way may seem best to Him. And we have confidence that the Lord will do this for everyone who is truly His child and who gets into such a condition as to need such correction in righteousness. Is it not written, "The Lord will judge [punish] His people"?--`Deuteronomy 32:36`.
A BIBLE ILLUSTRATION OF THIS SIN
The Bible gives many illustrations of this sin, but we choose the most conspicuous one. There was a holy man of old, beloved of the Lord, noble, self-sacrificing, a Prophet of the Lord. He served the Lord and His people faithfully--wonderfully--for forty years; but finally he was guilty of this sin of self-assurance--spiritual pride. And, strangest of all, this man is noted to us in the Bible as having been at the beginning of his career the "meekest man in all the earth."--`Numbers 12:3`.
Yes; it was the glorious Moses, who at the beginning of his experience as a servant of the Lord was so very meek, so very humble, but who, at the conclusion of his career, was hindered from entering the promised land as a punishment for spiritual pride or self-assurance, where he should have given the Lord the glory. We recall the circumstances: Moses, as the Lord's special servant, had led Israel out of Egypt across the Red Sea into the wilderness, en route for Canaan. He performed, by the Lord's direction, several miracles on the journey. One of them was the smiting of the rock when the people were famished for water. God directed him to smite the rock; and from that rock flowed an abundant stream of water for the refreshment of the people.
According to the Bible, that rock was a picture of Christ--the "Rock of Ages." (`1 Corinthians 10:4`.) It was by the Lord's arrangement that this "Rock of Ages" was smitten, that the water of life might flow from Jesus for all of Adam's race who would become Israelites indeed and come out of Egypt--out of the world--out of sin-- out of the kingdom of the Adversary into obedience and fellowship with the Lord.
Forty years after this time of the smiting of the rock, when Israel had been journeying to and fro, waiting for the time to come that they might be permitted to enter Canaan, their wandering led again into this district, so barren and devoid of water. The people cried to Moses and Moses cried to the Lord on their behalf as to what should be done. The Lord's answer was that Moses should speak to the rock which previously he had smitten, and that water would come forth. But during these forty years in which Moses had dealt with the Israelites as a father with his children, he had naturally gained a great deal of self-assurance. He could hardly pass through such experiences and still be the meekest man in all the earth.
So now, neglecting the command of the Lord, Moses went to the rock and smote it a second time with his rod, shouting to the people: "Ye rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" (`Numbers 20:1-12`.) Alas, poor Moses! He was taking the glory to himself instead of ascribing it all to the Lord. Soon Moses realized the great mistake he had made. It might be said to have been his only mistake, and yet the Lord on this account denied him the privilege of going into the land of Canaan, granting him instead merely the opportunity of seeing it from across the River Jordan, and burying him there.
Shall we not from this illustration esteem that spiritual pride and self-assurance are very displeasing in the sight of the Lord? Could we draw any other conclusion from this great lesson written for our admonition?
A WORD OF CONSOLATION
For the comfort of those who may feel that they have done much worse than Moses, or been much more self-assertive, been much less careful to honor the Lord, have manifested much more spiritual pride--for their comfort let us notice that the punishment here was severe because it was part of a type. As the first smiting of the rock typified the crucifixion of our Lord, so the second smiting of the rock typified the crucifying of the Son of God afresh and putting Him to an open shame; as described by St. Paul in `Hebrews 6:6`. As the smiting of the rock represented this public, open repudiation of Jesus and His teaching and His cause, so the preventing of Moses from crossing Jordan into Canaan typified the Second Death. We are not to think that Moses will never come into Canaan; nor that he has died the Second Death, but merely that this type was shown in his experiences.
Neither are we to think that brethren who have manifested spiritual pride and done things in their own name, rather than in the name of the Lord and the name of the Class, have thereby committed the sin unto death. We are, however, to realize that a terrible danger goes with spiritual pride, and that, persisted in, it would surely result in Second Death. Realizing this, how anxious, how zealous we should be, not only in the eradication of every symptom of it we might find in ourselves, but also in being careful lest we should take the contagion or in any manner come under its influence or have any of its symptoms!
SPIRITUAL PRIDE--PREVENTION AND CURE
We have already intimated the difficulty in connection with the treatment of this disease when once it gets hold. The chief feature of the difficulty seems to be that the disease has a destroying effect upon the conscience. The mind becomes more or less obtuse to the simple principles of the Golden Rule--not to mention the still higher law of our Lord's New Commandment to the brethren. The ignoring of the Golden Rule is manifested every time an attempt is made to coerce the Class, either in the election of its servants or in the ordering of its meetings.
The regulations of the Lord's Word are known; the residing of the authority in the Class is recognized, and when an Elder attempts to twist or turn or alter this he is not doing to the others as he would be done by. He has a right, as one of the Class, to his own opinion of the Lord's will on any matter. He has the right to express his judgment. But he has no right to hinder others from the expression of their judgment; and every such interference is a violation of the Golden Rule as well as a violation of the Law of Love and a violation of the First Commandment--to honor God; for it is setting aside the Divine arrangement provided for such matters.
But where the Elder progresses along such lines, in defiance of the Golden Rule principle, to the ruling of the Class, the coercing or cajoling of them to the doing his way, his will, the effect is the perversion of his own mind. His conscience becomes obtuse. Whoever violates his conscience repeatedly, by ignoring the principles of righting a wrong which he clearly sees, that person is undermining his conscience.
Conscience is the scale by which we weigh the various things presented to our judgment to ascertain the right
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or the wrong, the justice or the injustice, the truth or the falsity of a thing. This scale may be a very coarse one or a very fine one. It may be capable of very fine discriminations; or it may see things only in a rude, crude way. The Christian, especially if he has been long in the School of Christ, should have a very sensitive conscience; and from the Word of God he should be able to draw the weights by which he would balance all the questions of the affairs of life, and determine with almost absolute accuracy their right or their wrong--to what extent they would be pleasing or displeasing to the Lord. The impairment of that scale is the great danger in every sin, and it seems to us especially so in respect to the sin of spiritual pride. Nothing much can be done until the scale be rectified.
How important all of the Lord's people should feel it to be to keep their consciences thoroughly just; to be unwilling to take advantage of a brother, or of anybody, either in business or in an argument or in a Church election! The thought of the slightest infraction of justice on his own part should ring the loudest bells of alarm in the heart and the head of every true child of God: "Could it be that I who have enlisted in this cause of justice should be found sympathetic with injustice? Could it be that I could close my eyes to anything in my own conduct in the nature of injustice? Can it be that I am vitiating my own conscience and shall be liable to all the terrible results?"
To rectify a wrong course would therefore mean the reestablishment of the principles of justice in the hearts and the minds with a carefulness proportionate to the results involved--life or death everlasting. As justice shall begin to be reestablished in our minds, it will begin to regulate our words and acts. Gradually, then, the wrong-doer would begin to see how grossly he had violated the principle, how spiritual pride had almost destroyed his future prospects in the Kingdom. To such an one would surely come hearty repentance and thorough resolutions for the future.
THE GREAT NECESSITY FOR SELF-EXAMINATION
But how shall we safeguard ourselves against this spiritual pride, knowing as we do its insidious character and evil influence? How may we know that we are keeping ourselves in the love of God and not straying away toward spiritual pride?
Our advice is the same that we have already given in THE WATCH TOWER; viz.--that the Lord's people not only go to Him at the opening of each day and ask for Divine wisdom and supervision, and then through the day seek to live in accordance with that prayer, but additionally at the close of the day we have recommended a special self-inspection as respects the things done, the things neglected that should have been done, and the things done that should not have been done, in accordance with our vows of consecration to the Lord. If these reckonings and balancings every night with the Lord continue, and if they are done honestly, by a conscience that is not perverted, but that balances truly, we may surely expect that such, in harmony with the Lord's Word, will be keeping themselves in the love of God. They will be growing in grace, growing in knowledge, growing in love; and "the Wicked One will not touch them."
But let us not forget that while we are to exercise great leniency in viewing the words and deeds of others, ascribing only good intentions where they are professed, we are to scrutinize with all of our might our own hearts, our own intentions. We are to inquire why we did this thing or left undone the other thing; why we did this thing this way; why we spoke in such a tone, etc. Such a careful examination, weighing of thoughts, words and deeds, would be very unsatisfactory to a person who was not wishing to be in accord with the Lord. But those who have made a covenant with the Lord and are faithful to that covenant will find such a course to be a great blessing, comforting their hearts at the time, strengthening them for the future, and in connection with the Lord's providences it will be fitting and preparing them for places in the Heavenly Kingdom.
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GOD FIRST--SELF LAST
ALL of the Lord's true people, begotten of His Holy Spirit, are beautiful characters as New Creatures: As the Apostle expresses it, "Holy Brethren, partakers of the Heavenly calling." (`Hebrews 3:1`.) "Every one that loveth Him that begat [the Heavenly Father] must love also that which is begotten of Him." (`1 John 5:1`.) The fact that the Heavenly Father has anything to do with a human being and in any sense of the word recognizes him--especially if He recognizes him as a son--signifies that there is a nobility of character, an honesty of heart and a consecration of will, whether we be able to see these things in the outward conduct and words of the individual or not. We must assume that they are there--that God, who readeth the heart, sees them to be there. Having confidence in the Divine Wisdom, it is proper for all of the Lord's people to accept each other as New Creatures in Christ, to whom old things are passed away and for whom all things have become new. But, as the Apostle points out, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels"; these good hearts, these consecrated wills, have no perfect spirit bodies in which to operate yet. They can act and speak only through the poor, imperfect flesh, which is consecrated to death.
And oh, how the imperfect tongue and the imperfect body often misrepresent the real sentiments of the New Creature using them! Our stammering tongues fail to express our real sentiments, and we are misunderstood. Our poor brains, which the New Creature strives to exercise in favor of justice and love, often get sadly twisted. The justice we would do, we often misunderstand and do not; and the love which we wish to manifest, is twisted also and misunderstood by others and is unsatisfactory to ourselves. Early in our Christian experience, we may have failed to see our blunders, and frequently have done injury where we supposed we had done good. Later, as we began to see our imperfect works, imperfect words, imperfect thoughts and reasoning, and discerned how little we really accomplished of the much we would like to do, we were in danger of being thoroughly discouraged. We needed the very encouragements which the Lord's Word holds out to us--the assurance that God looketh at the heart and not at the outward appearance; and that the pure in heart will be blessed and see God, notwithstanding the weaknesses of their flesh, against which they strive courageously.
GOD FIRST IN OUR HEARTS
Many are the rules and practices which will be assistful to the New Creature while endeavoring to prove loyal and to fight down and overcome the imperfections of his flesh. A great variety of rules might be mentioned, including the study of God's Word, continual watchfulness and endeavor to cultivate the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the
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remembrance of the Golden Rule, etc., etc. But we now wish to call attention to one general rule which seems to have a broad application to all of our thoughts and words and actions. If this rule be followed, the entire life will thereby be regulated. This rule is--God first, self last!
This is a hard rule so far as the old creature is concerned, and he will rebel against it--especially the latter part--putting self last. But the old creature cannot really object to the rule so far as "God first" is concerned; for even natural men realize that there are proper obligations to the Creator; but the New Creature sees this obligation in a special light. It is this special light which led to the making of a full consecration to the Lord, to enlistment under the banner of Jesus to fight a good fight against sin entrenched in the flesh, and to faithfulness in this warfare even unto death. In making this consecration, the individual put God first, Jesus next, and himself as the servant of These and the principles which They represent; and his flesh as devoted, consecrated, given over to death in the service of these principles.
But it is one thing to recognize the principles, and quite another thing to apply them in the daily life and in the Church. God first in the home and the personal affairs means that all earthly interests and pleasures will be subordinated, and that the will of God, the service of God, the honor of God's name, will have the most prominent part in all of our affairs every day--in all of our words, in all of our dealings, in our very thoughts.
Extending this principle to the Church, which is the Body of Christ, we perceive that if all the brethren had this spirit, it would imply the very highest ideals and practices in the Church. As the Apostle admonishes, nothing would be done through strife or vain glory, but merely to the glory of God--God first! It would mean that in all the matters of our worship, praise, and Bible study, pride or fond desire and selfishness and partiality and hypocrisy would be far away; for God would be first, and we would know that all of these traits of evil entrenched in our flesh are contrary to the will of our God.
APPLICATION OF PRINCIPLES
In the election of servants in the Church, the rule of "God first" would mean that each one in voting would seek to vote according as he believed to be God's will, entirely ignoring his own will and the wills of all others of the brethren. "God first" would also lead him to take an individual stand in that kind, loving manner which the Bible declares to be the Holy Spirit, or disposition of
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meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness, love. Surely a blessing would follow such an endeavor to put God first, and to forget everything that might be in competition with the Lord in our affection!
As for the latter part of this resolution--"self last," this would mean the very essence of the Apostle's admonition, "Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory" (`Philippians 2:3`); and again, "in honor preferring one another." (`Romans 12:10`.) We look back at the record of the Twelve Apostles, and see how they were disposed to strive amongst themselves as to which should be greatest in the Kingdom. But this striving was before their begetting of the Holy Spirit, before Pentecost. How glad we are to see that such a spirit apparently disappeared after Pentecost, amongst those who received the spirit-begetting! "Self last" might well have been the rule among the Apostles--so loyally did they support the principles of the Lord's Word and uphold and encourage one another in the good work. How we rejoice with them!
But how sad it makes us feel when some dear brethren of our day, who profess to have received the begetting of the Holy Spirit, and whose professions we do not doubt, seem not to have learned this lesson of "self last"! "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." (`1 Peter 5:6`.) Occasionally, we perceive some disposed to seek office as Elders or as Deacons of the Church, disposed to feel offended if they are not elected to these offices. Oh, what a pity that they cannot take the broader and better view of the matter! We do not question their hearts; we shall suppose that as long as they abide in the Truth, the Lord's Spirit is not taken from them. And yet how little growth in grace is implied where a spirit of self-seeking is manifested amongst brethren aspiring to leadership in the Ecclesia!
"WHILE PLACE WE SEEK"
Dear Brethren, let us truly humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and take whatever His providence metes out to us with full contentment. If for any reason the Class chooses us to the position of Elder or of Deacon, let us be thankful to the Class and to the Lord; and let us use our privilege as a gift, as a favor, with humility of spirit, remembering that an elder brother in the Class is a servant of the Class. Let us seek to use our opportunities and stewardship wisely, as those who must ultimately give an account. If on another occasion, the Class for any reason passes us by, failing to elect us to a service, let us remember that that is the Class' privilege-- yea, each one of the Class is in duty bound to vote according as his judgment shall be respecting the Divine will. Should we quarrel with the Divine will? Nay. Should we quarrel with the brethren for exercising their judgment respecting the Divine will? Nay. What should we do? Let us accept the Divine arrangement and be just as thankful of heart, and be just as energetic to serve in the proper ways according to our opportunities. Let us not seek to put stumbling-blocks in the way of those who have been chosen for the service, but rather do all in our power to cooperate with them.
Let the brother of high degree--that has a high position of favor in the Class--rejoice if he is debased and removed from the position. Let him rejoice to learn whatever lessons the Lord's providence may have for him. Let him rejoice to learn how to serve in another position. And let a brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted. Let us receive whatever experiences come to us as being under Divine supervision, remembering that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose." (`Romans 8:28`.) Let us be on the alert to have God first, the interests of His cause, His people, the Church-- and our own interests and ourselves, last. We may be sure, dear Brethren, that whoever is thus found faithful, in harmony with the principles taught and exemplified by our Redeemer, will have some good place in the Redeemer's Kingdom by and by; and that all the present experiences will be overruled for his preparation for that Kingdom position.
The time for our exaltation is not now. The dear brethren may have exalted us to some service in the Class for which we were not worthy, and the possession of which might have made us heady or otherwise have injured us. The proper thought is that God is at the helm, and is able to make our experiences work out blessings to us, as individuals and as Classes. It is for us to be rightly exercised by the Lord's Word and by the Spirit of our Master, putting God first; self, last.
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JUSTIFICATION--WHAT? WHEN? HOW?
JUSTIFICATION really means only one thing, viz.: a making right, making just. Justification may be either partial or complete. In Abraham's case it was partial. He was justified to fellowship with God because of his faith and obedience, but was not justified to life, because such a complete justification could not be accomplished, except by the redemptive work of Jesus, which had not been and could not be accomplished in Abraham's day.
The justification of the Gospel Church is an instantaneous work. "It is God that justifieth." But the basis of this justification is the sacrifice accomplished by Jesus, finished at Calvary. Before the Savior will impute to us the merit of His sacrifice, we must know of Him and trust Him and accept His terms of discipleship and consecrate ourselves fully as His disciples, even unto death. The moment He imputes the merit of His sacrifice to us, covering our blemishes, we are acceptable to the Father, received into His family by the begetting of the Holy Spirit, and thus, thereafter, members of the Church of the Firstborns, whose names are written in Heaven.
The world's justification will not be an instantaneous one, but will progress during the thousand years--the Millennium. The world might then be said to be tentatively justified through the Mediator and His Kingdom, but their justification will be accomplished only in their absolute perfection at the close of the Millennium, when they will be presented to the Father and accepted by Him. "It is God that justifieth," and He receives to everlasting life and to His family on any plane of existence only those who are perfect.
CLEANSING OF FLESH NOT JUSTIFICATION
A person desiring to turn to God during this Gospel Age finds Him gradually. First, he finds that God has made a provision whereby He can be just and yet be the Justifier of sinners. Next he finds that the death of Jesus is the way which God has provided. Next he finds his own weaknesses and sins--the defilements, and properly seeks to put these away. He may and should considerably cleanse himself from the filthiness of the flesh, but this does not justify him, does not make him perfect, because by heredity he is a sinner, imperfect, and can be cleansed only by the Divine application of the merit of the Sin Offering. After washing at the Laver--putting away the filthiness of the flesh--the believer approaches close up to the door of the Tabernacle and "ties" himself there-- obligates himself by consecration vows, devoting himself fully to the Lord and His service, whatever that may be.
All the foregoing steps of the person desiring fellowship with God are proper steps, as outlined in the Word. We describe the person who has taken this course as being tentatively justified; that is to say, he is in the right course, doing what he is able to do to attain justification. While in this course, he would have blessings of mind and heart and the approval of his conscience, and would be favored of the Lord in the sense that Divine providence would open up before him a knowledge of the proper course to take for his justification--pointing out to him the necessity for the steps enumerated, including the devotion or tying of himself at the door of the Tabernacle. The sinner approaching God can do no more. It is now God's time to act. God's mercy toward the sinner is wholly through Jesus, who has been appointed the "great High Priest." It is the part of Jesus to accept the devoted one (the goat) and to sacrifice him. And those whom Jesus, as God's High Priest, accepts are accepted of the Father, and such are begotten of the Father to the Divine nature, etc. That moment when Jesus, and when Divine Justice, through Jesus, accepts the sinner is the moment of justification.
From the moment the sinner turned his back upon sin and began to seek the Lord and to walk as best he would be able in the ways of righteousness--putting away the filthiness of the flesh--from that moment this person has a new mind or will, different from the mind or will which he had when he loved and served sin. This new mind is a new mind of the flesh, because he has not yet been begotten of the Holy Spirit. At the moment that the High Priest accepts him, imputes His merit, and the Father begets him of the Holy Spirit--at that moment this one with the new mind is justified and begotten of the Spirit; he is then a New Creature. The New Creature is not to be justified, because the New Creature has done no sin and would have no sin to be justified from. It was the new-minded old creature that was justified, and at the moment of justification it dies sacrificially. The New Creature
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might be spoken of as justified in the same sense that Jesus was spoken of--"justified in spirit,...received up into glory." (`1 Tim. 3:16`.) In this use of the word justified, the thought is "proved right"--"proved perfect"; not made right.
PEACE PROPORTIONATE TO PROGRESS
To this class, fully consecrated, justified, accepted of the Father by the begetting of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle's words apply: "Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (`Romans 5:1`.) But this Scripture would not apply to any who have not come to the point of consecration and acceptance and who are merely approaching through the Court. These do, however, have a measure of peace, in proportion as they progress. A certain measure of peace and joy comes from finding that there is a way back to God through the endeavor to put away sin and to draw near to Him; but the peace of the Church, mentioned by the Apostle in this text, can apply only to those who have come into the condition of Sons of God. God is not at peace with any others.
It would not be possible for any one during this Gospel Age to have exactly the same experience given to Abraham, because of the difference of conditions. Abraham fully believed God, and so far as he understood, apparently was fully consecrated to do God's will, even unto death. In other words, if Abraham had been living during this Gospel Age, he would have been one of the fully consecrated, fully justified, spirit-begotten ones; but living before the Gospel Age, before Christ had died for our sins, his consecration could not bring him into the fulness of justification and its privileges.
Some confuse themselves by thinking of justification as of two parts--legal and actual. We know of nothing in the Bible to make any such division of justification. It is legal and it is actual at the same instant. It could not be actual and illegal; it could not be illegal and yet actual.
Our justification, represented by the "Wedding Garment," put on when we are accepted of the Lord, covers not the New Creature, but merely the flesh, which is legally reckoned dead, sacrificially. In other words, justification does not signify a process of being made right, but a right condition already attained. The putting on of the "Wedding Garment," signifies our entrance into the family of God as members of the Church; the putting of it off would mean our rejection of the grace of God, and would imply Second Death.
Justification to the world, as already explained, will be attained differently. It might be said that the world's
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justification, under the Great Mediator, will be a gradual one--a gradual making right as each individual will come into harmony more and more with the Divine requirements and receive more and more of restitution perfection. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that "It is God that justifies," and that the world will not be in God's hands until the conclusion of the Millennial Age. Then all approved of the Father and accepted of Him to eternal life will be justified in the full sense. That will be an instantaneous act.
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THE APPEAL TO CAESAR
--OCTOBER 15.--`ACTS 25:1-12`.--
FESTUS THE NEW ROMAN GOVERNOR OF JUDEA--ST. PAUL'S ENEMIES ON THE ALERT TO INJURE HIM--A NEW PLOT AGAINST THE APOSTLE'S LIFE--ST. PAUL UNWILLING TO ACCEPT A DISCHARGE RESPECTING THE ROMAN COURT AND TO STAND TRIAL BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN--HIS APPEAL TO CAESAR'S COURT--FESTUS PUZZLED AS TO WHAT CHARGE HE COULD FORMULATE--ST. PAUL CALLED TO GIVE HIS VERSION OF HIS PEOPLE'S ENMITY AGAINST HIM.
"It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Teacher, and the servant as his Lord."--`Matthew 10:25`. R.V.
FELIX, the Roman governor of Judea, was succeeded by Festus; and, willing to carry favor with the Jews, he left St. Paul a prisoner, although confessedly he had found the Apostle not guilty of any infraction of the Roman law and was persuaded that his enemies were frantically jealous of him. The two years of St. Paul's imprisonment doubtless afforded excellent opportunities for his mature study of the Divine Plan set forth in the Scriptures.
It is impossible for us at this distance even to surmise with any accuracy what may have been the Lord's object in permitting His faithful representative to be thus isolated and debarred from the privileges of service. On the one hand, it may have been to give the Apostle rest, quiet, opportunity for further study of the Truth. On the other hand, it may have been to teach him a lesson of patience, submission and confidence in God--that his services were not indispensable; that while the Lord had not let go of him and would ultimately deliver him, yet he was not indispensable to the Divine Plan. These are important lessons for all of God's people to learn-- particularly all who are in any prominent way identified with His service.
Or it may have been that the Lord had a work for the Apostle to do at Caesarea, where possibly he had contact with the officers of the garrison, and where they would have opportunities for observing the man and for appreciating the power of God to uphold him in his adversities. We may be sure that the Apostle let his light shine on every proper occasion; and we may be sure also that his labor was "not in vain in the Lord," whatever it was and however it was accepted or made useful in the interests of others. Even if he had no opportunity for serving others and if the work of grace were accomplished in his own heart, it was not in vain; and faith commands us to accept the matter without doubt respecting the wisdom of the arrangement.
ST. PAUL'S CASE BROUGHT TO FESTUS
Festus, the new governor, went at once to Jerusalem, the center of his province, there to become acquainted with the chief men of the people amongst whom he must preside as governor and judge. He was of a totally different character from his predecessor. St. Paul styles him "noble Festus," and history confirms the appellation.
St. Paul's enemies were on the alert to accomplish against him through the new governor what they had failed to do with Felix. Taking advantage of the fact that a new official would naturally desire to make a favorable impression in respect to prompt dealings with prisoners charged with sedition, rioting, disloyalty, the Jewish rulers quickly brought St. Paul's case to the attention of Festus. However, after setting forth the arguments of Tertullus to prejudice the governor's mind, they feared to have a trial before him because of the weakness of their cause; for they had no witnesses to any wrong-doing on the Apostle's part which could be recognized as against Roman law or the privileges of a Roman citizen.
Apparently their explanation was that the Apostle's conduct had been an assault upon their religion, along lines which the Roman governor, unacquainted with their religious customs, would not be prepared to appreciate. Hence they proposed to Festus that, after all, their dispute with St. Paul was more along religious than civil lines, and that therefore the desirable thing would be that the prisoner should be delivered to the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem for trial according to Jewish Law. Meantime, plans had been matured whereby in the name of God and religion, and "the good of the cause," the Apostle was to be assassinated on the way to Jerusalem.
Alas, that such criminal injustice cannot be charged against the Jews of that Age alone; but in every Age, and in almost every religious system, the mental unbalance is such that in the heat of the moment atrocious crimes have been advocated and perpetrated in the name of God and holiness! What lessons we may learn from these excerpts of history! When will mankind learn that as Justice is the foundation of the Divine Government (`Psalm 97:2`), everything contrary thereto must be displeasing to God? When shall we learn that the results of injustice will ultimately be more injurious to the doer than to the injured?
ST. PAUL APPEALS TO CAESAR
Governor Festus acknowledged his ignorance of the religion of the Jews, and made no objection to the trial of the prisoner by the religious court of his countrymen. On his return to Caesarea, he placed the proposition of the Jews before St. Paul, asking him--because the Apostle was a Roman citizen--whether he was willing to accept a discharge as respected the Roman Court and to stand trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin.
The Apostle promptly replied that he would not consent to this; that as a Roman citizen he had a right to Roman privileges, and therefore appealed his case to Caesar's court at Rome, the imperial capital. He well knew the animosity of his countrymen, and realized that those who were ready to assassinate him two years before were probably still unchanged in heart.
St. Paul's course furnishes a good example for all of the Lord's people in similar circumstances. It is a mistake, made by some well-meaning members of the Lord's family, to suppose that the Master's teaching of non-resistance signifies that His followers should put forth no efforts on their own behalf. It is our privilege to avail ourselves of every right granted to us by the laws of the country in which we live. It is proper for
us to appeal to higher or better courts if we can, to obtain that justice which might not be obtainable in lower courts. But having exhausted all such legal resources and remedies, the Lord's people are to be submissive to the results--not grumblers, not resisters of the decisions of the law.
Another matter worthy of notice is that, so far as the records show, the Apostle did not berate nor calumniate his people or the Sanhedrin or others associated as his prosecutors and persecutors. The lesson for the Lord's people today is to speak evil of no man. Take advantage of every legal right and privilege and opportunity, and accept the final results as of God.
KING AGRIPPA ASKED TO ASSIST FESTUS
Festus was placed in a peculiar position. In sending the Apostle to Rome, as he was obliged to do in the case of appeal of a Roman citizen, he must of necessity send some charges; and being a just man, he desired that the charges should be truthfully stated. Therefore he was puzzled to know what charges, if any, he could formulate against the Apostle.
Shortly after this, the ceremonies of the inauguration of Festus took place in Caesarea. King Agrippa of Galilee did his respects by attending. Although an Edomite, the king professed the Hebrew faith; and Festus, who had no knowledge thereof, embraced the opportunity to have assistance in formulating charges against St. Paul, whose crime, if any, could be understood only from the Jewish standpoint, hence the Apostle was called to give, before the king, the chief captains of the military forces and the prominent citizens, his version of the enmity of his people against him.
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ST. PAUL'S DEFENSE BEFORE KING AGRIPPA
--OCTOBER 22.--`ACTS 26:1, 24-32`.--
PREACHING CHRIST TO THE RULERS--ST. PAUL GIVES A STIRRING ADDRESS ON HIS OWN EXPERIENCES--THE SALIENT FEATURES OF THE GOSPEL EMPHASIZED--THE HOPE OF ISRAEL--THE SELECTION OF ABRAHAM'S SPIRITUAL SEED --THE LONG-PROMISED MESSIANIC KINGDOM--ISRAEL TO BE FIRST BLESSED--THEN ALL MANKIND--KING AGRIPPA DEEPLY IMPRESSED--ST. PAUL, THE PRISONER, HAPPIER
THAN ANY WHO HEARD HIM.
"I was not disobedient unto the Heavenly vision."--`Acts 26:19`.
OUR last Study showed us that St. Paul's appeal to Caesar's Court afforded the Apostle an opportunity of preaching the Gospel before people of prominence whom he could otherwise never have expected to reach. He seems to have appreciated the occasion thoroughly; for he made a stirring address, the theme of which was the circumstances of his own conversion, narrated here for the third time. We cannot doubt that he was guided of the Lord in the matter. Thus does God mysteriously work the counsel of His own will and cause the wrath of men to praise Him; and thus does He put before His faithful servants fresh opportunities to serve His cause. How much every faithful follower of Jesus should be encouraged by this to continued faithfulness, to singleness of heart, to the improvement of every opportunity, realizing the Lord's supervision of His work!
As a true gentleman, St. Paul opened his speech by complimenting King Agrippa, as much as he truthfully could, on the fact that he would be heard by one who was expert in all Jewish matters. He pointed to the fact that his course of life from youth was well known in Jerusalem and throughout the Jewish nation. If his countrymen would, many of them could witness to his strictness as a religionist. "And now," he declared, "I am standing on trial for my hope in the promise which God made unto our fathers--a promise which all Jews are hoping will have fulfilment. Nevertheless it is for this hope's sake that I am accused by the Jews."
THE HOPE OF ISRAEL
The hope of Israel centered in God's Oath-Bound Covenant to Abraham: "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (`Genesis 12:3`; `22:15-18`.) St. Paul was preaching that this Promise was in process of fulfilment; that Jesus of Nazareth, as the Son of God, by obedience to the Law and by His sacrifice of His earthly rights, had become the Head of this promised Seed of Abraham by His resurrection to the plane of spirit glory, honor and immortality. Moreover, the Apostle was teaching that since Pentecost the Lord was selecting from both Jews and Gentiles a "little flock," to be Messiah's Bride and Joint-heir, members of the Spiritual Seed of Abraham; and that when this selection shall have been accomplished, The Messiah, Head and Body, in glory will set up the long-promised Kingdom of God, through which blessings will come first to Natural Israel for their restitutional uplift, and subsequently will extend through Israel to all the families of the earth.--`Galatians 3:8, 16, 29`; `Romans 11:7-15`.
Surely St. Paul pointed to the prophecies which tell of the sufferings of Messiah and of the glories that will follow! All the Jews knew of the sufferings of Jesus and His followers; but they disputed His resurrection to glory and the hope that His followers would by and by share His resurrection change. The whole dispute between himself and the Jews was in respect to whether or not Jesus arose from the dead. If He did not arise, the Jews were right. No valid hopes could be built upon a dead man, however good he might have been. If He arose, St. Paul and the followers of Jesus were right; for his resurrection to glory should be considered a demonstration of Divine approval and of the Messiahship which He had claimed and of His Kingdom to come at the time appointed.
St. Paul explained how once he also had opposed Jesus and had persecuted His followers, shutting them up in prison and giving his vote with others for their death. He had even compelled them to blaspheme Jesus to escape sufferings; and in his madness he had extended his energies from Jerusalem to outside cities. He described the revelation of the Lord given him near Damascus--the light above the brightness of the sun, and the voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?...I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest."
Then he explained the commission he had received from the Lord on that occasion--that he was to preach to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews, the resurrection of Jesus, the gathering of His elect members and, in due time, the establishment of His Kingdom; and that he was to declare that all should repent and turn to God. It was for these things that he was in bondage and his life in jeopardy, until he was obliged to appeal to Caesar's tribunal. He pointed out that the sufferings of Christ had been foretold by the Prophets; and that Jesus acknowledged persecution of His followers as being persecution of Himself--His members.
"THOU ART BESIDE THYSELF!"
Governor Festus heard with amazement the Apostle's recital. Then, interrupting the speaker, he said, "Thou are beside thyself! Much learning doth make thee mad." But St. Paul replied, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. King Agrippa knoweth of these things."
Thus it is still. From the worldly standpoint the true follower of our Lord Jesus is branded a fanatic, a fool, unbalanced. But from the Christian's standpoint the view is reversed--the worldly are unwise and money-mad. The worldly see merely the earthly things, the transitory. The Christian sees with the eye of faith-- sees glory, honor, immortality and a share with the Redeemer in the privileges of the Millennial Kingdom, which is shortly to bless the world with a Reign of Righteousness, in fulfilment of the Lord's prayer, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as in Heaven."
St. Paul appealed to Agrippa: Did the king not believe the prophecies cited? The king's reply is a matter of dispute--whether he said, "With a little more time and eloquence you might persuade me to be a Christian"; or whether he said, "Do you think that in so brief an argument you could make of me a Christian, with all of discredit which that word means?" St. Paul's reply favors the former interpretation: "I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds."
A nobler sentiment, a broader spirit of charity, in a prison, falsely accused and unjustly restrained, cannot be imagined. Only those who have been with Jesus and have learned of Him could thus exemplify the sympathy and moderation which He taught. Oh, that all of Christ's disciples might learn also to be meek and lowly of heart, and thus find rest for their souls! For who can doubt that St. Paul, the prisoner, with his glorious hopes, was happier every way than were any of those who heard him?
MANY WILL BE AMAZED AT OPPORTUNITIES NEGLECTED
The time will come, and it is not far distant now, when many who now are highly esteemed amongst men for their wisdom, will be seen to have been foolish; and many who are now esteemed fools for Christ's sake and for the Gospel's sake will be seen to have been truly wise in choosing the Heavenly things and in being willing to surrender the earthly for the attainment of the Heavenly, because it is impossible to serve God and Mammon.
It is presumed upon reasonable grounds that, although King Agrippa did not become a Christian, this knowledge of the principles underlying Christianity remained with him and influenced him during the remainder of his life. History tells us that in the subsequent persecutions that arose in connection with the trouble coming upon the Jewish nation King Agrippa received and kindly entreated the Christians who fled to him for protection.
How many there are in Christian lands who have heard the Gospel Message more or less distinctly and have been "almost persuaded" to lay hold of the grace of God, but who neglect opportunities of action and have lost their appreciation of the privilege! These, like King Agrippa, will have comparatively small conception of the wonderful things which they came so near grasping and yet missed. When they shall come forth from the grave and enjoy the great privileges of the Millennial Kingdom, it will amaze them to know what great opportunities they had to become members of the Little Flock, the Lord's associates on the Throne.
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THE VOYAGE TO ROME
--OCTOBER 29.--`ACTS 27:13-26`.--
ST. PAUL SENT TO THE IMPERIAL CAPITAL--A STORMY VOYAGE-- DAYS OF TRIAL AND TESTING--THE APOSTLE ENCOURAGED BY A VISION--"GOD MOVES IN A MYSTERIOUS WAY"-- THE SAILORS CHEERED BY THE HELPFUL SPIRIT OF
THE APOSTLE--LESSONS FROM HIS EXPERIENCES.
"Commit thy way unto Jehovah; trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass."--`Psalm 37:5`.
NOT LONG after St. Paul's discourse before Festus and King Agrippa, opportunity was afforded for sending the Apostle and other prisoners to Rome under a strong guard. There were no derogatory charges preferred against St. Paul, however. There was no direct intercourse between Rome and the little port of Caesarea; hence for a distance of six hundred miles the journey was made in a small trading vessel.
This journey lasted from about the middle of August to September 1--good speed for a sailing vessel in those days; but the weather was fine. At Myra, St. Paul and two of the brethren who accompanied him--St. Luke and Aristarchus--were transferred, along with the other prisoners and the guard, to an Egyptian vessel laden with a cargo of wheat and en route for Rome. Besides the crew, this vessel bore a considerable number of passengers-- in all, two hundred and seventy-six persons.
For several days the pleasant weather continued, and then it became stormy. The vessel abandoned her intended route in order to get under the lee of the island of Crete, and tarried at the port of Fair Havens for better weather. Thus they were delayed until about October 1, the time for equinoctial storms. St. Paul drew attention to the dangers of continuing the journey, and advised that they winter there. His opinion may have been the result of some inspiration, but quite possibly was merely his own judgment of the weather, etc. He had already had large experience in seeing disasters, as we are informed in one of his Epistles written previous to this time. (`2 Corinthians 11:25`.) Besides, his trade as a sail-maker would naturally bring him into contact with sailors, and interest him in all matters pertaining to the craft.
But those in authority concluded to go to Phenice, a larger port. Before they had gone far, however, a typhonic northeast wind struck the vessel suddenly; and they were obliged to go with the wind southward and came under the shelter of the little island called Clauda. Here they undergirded the ship by placing chains and ropes under her keel, because the weight of the cargo and the severity of the storm had strained her. Then they lowered the gearing of the sails and continued to drive before the wind, guarding against sand banks. The ship labored heavily in the storm. Part of her cargo was thrown overboard; and later she was further lightened by casting overboard her heavier furniture, tackle, etc.
DAYS OF TRIAL AND DANGER
The storm continued for several days. Neither sun nor stars were visible; and the captain could not tell his whereabouts; for the compass had not yet been invented. Hence all on board were gradually abandoning all hope. They had ceased to eat, and were almost in despair.
During those fourteen days the Apostle had abundant opportunity to fear, to doubt and to question the Lord's
providences. Apparently it was not until the night of the thirteenth day of the storm that the Lord sent an angel to St. Paul with the consoling message, "Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar; and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee." (`Verse 24`.) We may safely assume that during those days of testing the Apostle remained heartily loyal in faith toward God, and that this Message at the close was in the nature of an encouragement and an expression of approval.
We may draw a good lesson from this incident, not only in respect to our own affairs in life, but in a general way to all spiritual testings and trials. The Lord may lead in mysterious ways regarding our temporal matters and our service for Him and His Cause. While He gives us assurances of His love and care and of the ultimate outcome of the narrow way to all who faithfully follow in the footsteps of Jesus, nevertheless He may meantime permit trials and difficulties of various kinds to come as storms upon us, threatening our very destruction, threatening the overwhelming of our spiritual life, darkening the sky of our hopes with the thunder-clouds of our enemies' threats and with Satan's roarings. Our duty is to let the eye of faith be undimmed by these various terrible conditions--to let our hearts be firmly fixed upon Him who has promised and who will perform.
THOUGHTS BY THE WAY
The expression, "God hath given thee all them that sail with thee," is very meaningful. There is no suggestion in these words of "the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men," as that false teaching is now advocated by many who are actuated by a noble impulse. On the contrary, the thought is that there was only one man on board that ship who was in personal relationship to God. The others, whatever their natural traits of character, had never come into relationship with God.
There is another thought which may be inferred from the angel's words: The Divine care going with the saints may prove to be a great blessing to their companions, even though, as in this case, these be worldly and unregenerate. This thought is particularly applicable in the earthly families of the people of God. The consecrated parent is the direct object of Divine care; for of the angels it is written, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (`Hebrews 1:14`.) And in the angelic ministrations to these, very frequently--indeed, we may suppose very generally--those of their families who have not come into full relationship with the Lord are to some extent included under the protecting care.
Elsewhere the Apostle points out that in some respects the believing wife has a blessed influence over her husband, or the believing husband a favorable influence over the wife, in regard to their children; else the children would be accounted unholy. (`1 Corinthians 7:14`.) This is another illustration of the same general lesson that Divine care, although especially for the saints, includes all of their interests of every kind. This does not necessarily imply earthly prosperity, wealth, preservation from accident, shipwreck, etc., as in St. Paul's case; and yet it always means an advantage in some sense and in some degree. Let us take from this thought all the comfort that we can. All things shall work together for good to the Lord's saints (`Romans 8:28`); and those who are nearest and dearest to them will surely be participants to some extent in their interest and in the Divine care.
ST. PAUL'S MESSAGE OF CHEER
Promptly after having received the assurances of the safety of all on board, the Apostle made the matter known to the ship's company. Then he manifested his own faith in the message by cheerfulness and by breaking his fast, and by advising all the others to do likewise. His spirit was contagious. All were cheered; and doubtless all were impressed not only by the fact to which the Apostle called their attention--that this disaster had resulted from their failure to follow his advice-- but also by the evidence of God's special favor toward him respecting the knowledge of their ultimate rescue.
So should it be with the Lord's people. Whatever we know that is good or comforting or refreshing to ourselves we should dispense to others. Had the Apostle kept the good news to himself, it would have implied either that he did not have faith in its fulfilment, or that he was selfish. But having the Lord's spirit of generosity, as well as large trust in the Lord, he did not hesitate to make known the coming deliverance; and he glorified God in that he did not claim to have this knowledge of himself, but credited it to a revelation.
Evidently the prisoner had produced a deep impression upon many of the soldiers and the sailors. Who can say that at some future time the Apostle's brave, noble conduct may have influenced some of his two hundred and seventy-six companions--possibly eventually drawing some of them to the Lord? So it should be with each of us. We should be prompt to tell to others the best tidings we have. Sympathy with the groaning creation in the various trials of life should lead us to point to the Lord's promises respecting the coming Kingdom of Messiah and the blessings which shall then come to all the families of the earth. Whoever does not thus proclaim daily, on every suitable opportunity, gives evidence either of lack of knowledge or faith in the revelation or else of selfishness, which the Lord cannot approve and which, if persisted in, will ultimately debar him from a share in the Kingdom.
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NIAGARA AND NASHVILLE CONVENTIONS
THE Niagara Falls Convention was the most successful one of the year thus far--in respect to numbers in attendance. At the opening about seven hundred Bible students gathered and by Sunday the number had increased to fifteen hundred. A very cheap excursion rate granted on several of the railroads no doubt contributed greatly to these results.
Spiritually we cannot say that it was better than others, for it would be difficult to imagine seasons of greater spiritual refreshment than were enjoyed at St. Louis, Mo.; Sioux City, Iowa; Newport, R.I.; Norfolk, Va., and Portland, Me. We can say, however, that the dear friends who were present at Niagara Falls manifested a beautiful spirit, and so far as we could judge from what we could see this Convention was rich in spiritual encouragement and refreshment to each one present.
The Sunday afternoon meeting had a capacity house, one-half of the number being Bible students, the others being from the public. The Bible students, who would have filled the house to its capacity, gave way to the public. The interest was splendid in every way, and the Convention will long be remembered. Seventy-five symbolized their baptism into Christ by water immersion. The influence of this Convention will be far-reaching.
The Nashville, Tennessee, Convention was a most delightful one, but disappointingly small as respects attendance.
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Some may have feared the heat; but Providence favored us with most delightful weather--considerably cooler than that experienced at Niagara Falls. The attendance would not be estimated above three hundred. They were all very happy and seemed to greatly enjoy the presentation of the Truth to which they listened. Twenty-one were immersed in water.
The meeting for the public was addressed by Brother Russell, and had an attendance of two thousand; considerable interest was manifested.
Nashville gave the PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION a very hearty welcome, the average attendance at all meetings being about twenty-five hundred. Eight hundred cards were handed in requesting reading matter.
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HOW THE LORD HAS STRENGTHENED HIS HEART
MY DEARLY BELOVED BROTHER RUSSELL:--
With just a little regret, I will ask for a moment of your valuable time. I noticed in the first article of THE WATCH TOWER of July 15, 1915, you make mention of the MORNING RESOLVE, the VOW and the suggestion you had to make recently about Love.
I wish to tell you briefly of the great amount of good these have all been to me. My first waking thoughts are, to repeat the MORNING RESOLVE. This is my Watchword during the day. The VOW: I never could have kept up my spiritual existence without it, especially during the time I have been engaged in the Colporteur work.
The consideration of the MANNA text each day has also been of inestimable value. And the suggestion on Love: I do not wish to say that I was proceeding ahead of the light, but I have been including this same thought each day in my prayer for the last two years; I now report each evening at the Throne of Grace; and as to the noticed results, I wish to say that I have increased love for the Father and the Son, for all the dear brethren, and for all the world of mankind. I have more love, more kindness, more gentleness toward all the animal creation; even so much that it has made me careful for the little insects that go before me on the ground.
I feel quite sure that if all the friends would include this request in their morning prayer they would notice decided development of that one grace--Love. I am striving by the Lord's grace each day to make use of about all the opportunities that come in my way. I am waiting on the Lord, and am of good courage, for He has strengthened my heart.
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Dear Brother, just a little question, if you will grant an answer to it--to me it means so much. Concerning our Lord's last hours in Gethsemane: He desired some evidence from the Father that His Covenant of Sacrifice had been carried out faithfully. In like manner, what is the best evidence we can have that our Heavenly interests are all right?
I pray the Lord's richest blessing upon your every step of the way; also upon your every effort to assist and encourage the entire Household of Faith, as we near the closing scenes of the Harvest. Sister Kellar and my family all join with me in sending you very much Christian love. I remain
Your Brother and fellow servant in the one hope,
EBER A. KELLAR.
ANSWER TO ABOVE LETTER
Our Lord's case was peculiar. No one had ever trodden the pathway before--He was the first, the Forerunner, on the path of Life. If He had erred in any particular, He had no Advocate to make good for Him. The issue before Him was a resurrection to eternal glory on the Divine plane-- glory, honor and immortality--or everlasting destruction as one who had failed to keep the Divine Law, and for whose recovery from sin no provision had been made. It seems, therefore, not unreasonable that our Lord might ask of the Father an evidence of His acceptability.
In our case it would be a little different. We know that we are imperfect and that we cannot do all that we would-- for we will to do perfectly. In our case we know the provision of the Father had already been made--namely, that if our hearts are loyal He will take care of the remainder, making good for our short-comings, through the merit of Jesus. We are to accept this statement fully, heartily, faithfully. I believe that it would not be pleasing to the Lord if we should ask for some special manifestation of His favor over and above what He has done for us, and also the promises that are ours. If it were possible to imagine that similar circumstances could arise with us to those experienced by our Lord, we might be sure that the Heavenly Father would be pleased to have us call upon Him in the hour of trouble, and that He would be pleased similarly to respond.
THE CENSER--THE FIRE--THE INCENSE
PASTOR C.T. RUSSELL. DEAR BROTHER:--
Greetings and love in our Lord and Head! Whilst recently moving amongst the friends of various classes, I found that the question as to whether the incense was burned in the Most Holy on the typical day of atonement, was the cause of some friction and differences of opinion. Some had even gone to the length of hinting that TABERNACLE SHADOWS required to be rewritten and amended.
For my own part the question has never seemed to me worth any serious consideration, as from a merely surface glance this new view seems to be entirely out of harmony with the various antitypical features of The Divine Plan as we now understand them. Believing, however, that it is now more necessary than at any time in the past to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us, I made careful inquiries on the point and find that the whole theory rests mainly on two texts of Scripture--`Leviticus 16:12` and `Hebrews 9:3, 4`.
Turning up the DIAGLOTT at the latter text I find a footnote there which satisfactorily explains the evident contradiction here between the Old and New Testament records of the A.V. on this point. The real difficulty then lies with `Leviticus 16:12`.
Apparently from the reading of this verse, the Censer, full of burning coals of fire, as well as the Incense, were both taken by the Priest beyond the second veil. There is no doubt that from a comparison of Scripture, the veil referred to here is the one between the Holy and the Most Holy. On closer examination, however, I find that the apparent contradiction of this verse rests entirely upon a poor translation of one word. The word "bring" in this verse is from the Hebrew word "bow," which, according to Profs. Young and Strong, literally means "to cause to come in" or "to send." The action implied in this word does not refer to the censer or the fire, but only to the incense. This is admitted even by the singular number of the pronoun supplied by the translators of the A.V.
How then does the Priest cause the incense to come within the veil? Analyzing `verse 12` it would mean something like the following: "He shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar (in the court) before the Lord" (and place it in the top of the incense altar in the Holy); then "he shall take his hands full of sweet incense beaten small and bring (cause it to enter) within the veil." The Priest standing at the incense altar in the Holy and crumbling the incense on the fire in the top of the altar would cause the sweet perfume of the incense to enter the presence of Jehovah beyond the veil.--`Revelation 8:3, 4`.
Apparently two things were necessary in order to save the Priest's life when he entered beyond the veil. First the incense must have preceded him, as indicated in `Leviticus 16:2`. Second he must have had the blood with him, or otherwise death would have been the result.--`Hebrews 9:7`.
The incense, representing the antitypical Priest's faithfulness in the midst of His earthly trials, must have been acceptable to God even before He passed beyond the veil of His human nature--the flesh. Additionally the blood (earthly life rights) must still be unforfeited in any way, as otherwise he would not have risen beyond the veil in resurrection life and therefore could not have benefited the human race.--`Heb. 9:7`.
Your ever-grateful brother in His service,
A PREACHER WHO SEES LIGHT
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Greetings in the name of our Redeemer. Appreciating the fact that we are living in the close of the "Harvest," and that privileges of service are very precious to us all, we would use this opportunity to call to your attention briefly a notable witness for the Truth in one of the churches of this city.
For some time past you have doubtless noticed news clippings, sermons of Rev. ----, of the ---- Church, Los Angeles, in which his presentation was in harmony with the truths as presented in the SCRIPTURE STUDIES. Indeed, there was a reason for this. A year ago this man, evidently a conscientious Christian, was falling into and preaching Higher Criticism, though honestly. With this was mixed Socialism
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and thoughts on Restitution; the latter, he had evidently gained by reading your sermons. Attracted by this, a certain lame Brother here, full of zeal, looking for ways to serve the Master, was used of the Lord in bringing the Volumes to his attention. These he commenced to read and believe, but could not accommodate the thoughts of a Ransom. Patiently the brother stayed with him until finally, grasping the thought that "there is one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a Ransom for all," he began to preach it, repudiating all former no-ransom theories. This led him to a further study and assimilation of the Volumes. He realized that we are living in the closing hours of the Gospel Age, and that this being the Truth, he must preach it.
Gradually leading his congregation along, they voted at his suggestion to have the DRAMA exhibited in their Church on Wednesday evenings. Greatly appreciating this opportunity of service, we gladly gave them the DRAMA, advertising it and filling their church to overflowing at each exhibition. General appreciation was expressed, and Brother ---- himself was greatly encouraged, especially through his fellowship with the friends, whom he evidently recognized as Christians in deed and in truth. After this he was invited to hear Judge Rutherford at a small gathering of the friends, the subject being along the lines of the Ransom. This he greatly appreciated, and in the testimony meeting told us how he "got the Truth," of his love for it, and how he appreciated the opportunities and privileges that he now has in declaring it. This he proved on the following Sunday, by speaking on the Atonement, using the Tabernacle Chart which we had provided to illustrate, driving home the vital points of Truth --the death penalty against man, the opportunity for all to be released from that penalty by the fact that the Lord Jesus, dying as a man, a perfect man, offset the penalty against Father Adam and his race. The Spirit of the Truth had so gotten into his heart and mind that the short time allotted to his sermon was not half long enough to speak forth the Words of Life.
This Brother's zeal, and evidences of a full heart-consecration to God, have surely inspired us. To see him standing up before his congregation, speaking forth the Words of Truth and Life, so earnestly and sincerely, would gladden the heart of any child of God who realizes that we are in the "Harvest" of this Gospel Age.
The interest shown at the DRAMA exhibition was very good, attendance being from three to four hundred at each Part. Over a hundred cards were turned in, requesting the "Where Are the Dead" Booklet. The interest thus stirred up is to be followed up.
Hoping this will prove as interesting to you at it has to us, and praying the Lord's blessing upon you and the dear colaborers at Brooklyn in the completion of His Harvest work, We are
Your Brethren in the Lord, DRAMA WORKERS.
MANNA, VOW AND MORNING RESOLVE BLESSINGS
DEARLY BELOVED PASTOR:--
I have been so blessed by your ministrations of love and good cheer that I would like to express my gratitude to you and to our Heavenly Father for the riches of grace which we
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enjoy. I receive such a blessing daily with the MORNING MANNA, THE VOW, and THE MORNING RESOLVE! Also, "ARE YE ABLE TO DRINK OF MY CUP?" Oh, the blessed Truth! It satisfies my longings as nothing else can do. And, dear Pastor, THE WATCH TOWER is such a wonderful channel of blessing, too! We praise God on your behalf as we see how He has kept you all these years; it gives us courage. The feast is now spread surely in the midst of our enemies! The Lord grant we may be enlarged daily and thus have the spiritual capacity for the SEVENTH VOLUME of which you also spoke.
Our dear Pastor, I would just make one request of you, if I may. It is that you would pray for me; that, having run well thus far, I might continue faithful even unto death. Three months ago I had two operations in one. After seven weeks I came home to take up my family obligations once again--except sweeping, washing, and ironing. It taxed my strength so much that I thought it only right as a New Creature in Christ to speak to my husband. I told him how I felt. He could not understand, neither could his mother, how it was that I did not feel able to do the work. Well, this proved quite a trial to me. But as no deliverance came from these duties, I considered it my duty, and evidently God's will also, that I go on and serve just as long as God gave me strength. I feel that my strength is going, though I have not told my husband, as he speaks to me only when he must, since the experience mentioned.
The pressure I feel has been hard upon me for the last five or six months, but I have been able to rejoice. Though the cup has overflowed with sorrow and suffering, nevertheless I have been able to realize the Lord's presence very near and the truth of Jesus' words, "The Father Himself loveth you." But even so as our Lord, I would continue to pray with strong crying and tears, realizing so much my utter helplessness and need of God's help through Christ Jesus. I ask you to pray for me, that I may in due time have the full assurance, as those who have gone before, that I am acceptable in the Beloved One, and have made my calling and election sure. I feel that I have need of patience also, that having done the will of God I might receive the promise.
Now again I would thank God for the blessed tie that unites us all in Him. My prayer is that we may be enlarged and abound yet more and more in the love of God. This love has increased in me as daily I have prayed with you all that thus we might be able to show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
May the Lord bless thee and keep thee, and grant thee the "abundant entrance" through Christ Jesus our Lord!
Your Sister in Christ, ----
LIKE SAUL, THOUGHT HE DID GOD SERVICE
Am happy to say that I am most surely a believer and an earnest one in "The Divine Plan of the Ages," and just as set forth by Brother Russell. More than that, I have been preaching it in no uncertain manner from the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of this place. And as might be expected I have also been ordered to stop such preaching or resign; consequently I have resigned. But then, of course, there are other places to preach, and preach it I will!
Yes, I recall the circumstances to which you refer, at the time of the revival meeting in my church, at the time the PHOTO-DRAMA was shown here, and I recall the matter only with shame and humiliation for the part I played in it. While I made no speech at the band-stand that afternoon, I did help to arrange the meeting with the object of keeping people from seeing the DRAMA. The Evangelist and the Methodist pastor of this place did the speaking, but I approved of it at the time. That humiliating experience serves to show what an absurd and enormous blunder a man makes when he jumps at conclusions and forms an opinion without investigation, just because "everyone says so." However, like Saul, I verily thought I did God a service, and being honest and sincere, though ignorant, like him, I obtained mercy, and have been shown a "more excellent way."
I am already beginning to feel the edge of the people's opposition, and, as you say, from those who were formerly my strongest supporters. However, "'Tis always with the righteous well," and I trust that I have the imputed righteousness of my Master, and that through His grace and help I shall be able to exemplify that righteousness in my life.
I have a full set of the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, am getting THE WATCH TOWER and also the BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY. No, I have not a copy of Brother Rutherford's "Defense of Brother Russell," nor do I need one for myself, as I need no further evidence than the STUDIES. But I might be able to use one with advantage with others that are not so convinced.
Thanking you for the interest and sympathy manifested in your letter, and requesting that you will remember me at the Throne of Grace.
I am your brother in the Truth, ----
DAILY USE OF VOW A BLESSING
DEARLY BELOVED PASTOR:--
Although my name was entered as taking the Vow seven years ago, I wish to express my appreciation of its being a great safeguard from the powers of darkness in this evil day.
I have been very diligent in repeating it in the morning, and always received a blessing. Recently I was careless for a few days and did not repeat the VOW; as a result I had a very severe trial.
I wish to renew my name and covenant with the Lord, and am sure the result will be a blessing; I know of no other way to correct my carelessness. How graciously we have been provided for, and how much we need to be on the alert to resist the occult powers!
With much Christian Love, ----