ZWT - 1901 - R2748 thru R2928 / R2821 (177) - June 1, 1901
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VOL. XXII. JUNE 1, 1901. No. 11.
A High Priest of Coming Good
To Whom was the Ransom Paid?..................180
Paul's Heavenly Vision............................182
Jesus Revealed to John in Vision..................187
Bible Markings Commended..........................191
Special Wide-Margin Bibles....................191
Public Ministries of the Truth....................192
Items:--About Teachers' Bibles, Etc...............178
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"SILENT SERMONS," delayed, are now in good supply, and orders are being filled.
ABOUT TEACHERS' BIBLES.
We no longer have Bagster Bible No. 8706. We commend instead the Holman edition, which contains not only excellent Bible Study helps, but also eighty (80) photo-engravings, illustrating Palestine and the Orient in a most truthful manner-- enabling accurate conceptions. These pictures are well worth one dollar. The type is Bourgeois of good size. Price in French seal, divinity circuit, $1.35; in Persian morocco, silk sewed, $2.35. Postage 25 cents extra.
However, before deciding about this, or any other Bible, see our remarks respecting wide-margin Bibles, under the head of "Bible Markings Commended," this issue.
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A HIGH PRIEST OF COMING GOOD THINGS.
--`HEB. 9:11-14;24-28`.--JUNE 2.--
Golden Text:--"He ever liveth to make intercession."--`Heb. 7:25`.
NO SIGNATURE is attached to the Book of Hebrews, nor does the writer of it in any way identify himself, except as we see in its style, close reasoning, deep penetration and wide knowledge of the divine plan, strong evidence that it was written by the Apostle Paul. Who but he could have written it? It is not addressed to Jews, as if with the intention of converting those who did not believe in Christ--but to the Hebrews--to those who were the children of Abraham according to the flesh, but who had accepted Christ.* The Apostle would strengthen and establish the faith of these (and indirectly of all others who would come to a similar knowledge of God's dealings with Israel). In this epistle he seeks to show that, so far from the new dispensation repudiating the old one, it was merely an advance step which was being taken because its due time had come. The Jewish system was not being repudiated as a divine institution, but was being established as such, everything in the new dispensation having an analogy to the things in the old one, but on a higher plane.
Thus all the Mosaic arrangements were honored, and shown to be of divine institution, good for the time, and serving a noble purpose as types and lessons of instruction and preparations for the Gospel. The time had now come for the establishment of the antitype --the antitypical Covenant through the antitypical Mediator, sealed with the antitypical blood of the Covenant, and to be followed by the antitypical Day of Atonement, preceding the antitypical blessing of the people and their full and permanent release from sin and condemnation.
In line with the foregoing, the Apostle, in the lesson before us, is pointing to Jesus, ascended and in the heavens, as the antitype of the earthly high priests when they went into the "Most Holy" on the Day of Atonement to sprinkle the blood of the atonement upon the Mercy Seat. It will be remembered+ that on the Day of Atonement the high priest put on his linen garments (not his glorious garments) and with the blood of the sacrifice went into the Most Holy to present it as the ransom price--the atonement. While he was within the people had no evidence of divine favor resulting from his sacrifice, but waited on their faces in the dust, representing the prostrate and helpless condition of mankind in degradation, needing and waiting for the divine blessing. So, now, our High Priest is in the heavens, and we must not look for the blessings of restitution until all the work of atonement be accomplished, and until all the members of his body shall, with their Head, have put on the garments of glory and beauty, typifying honor, majesty and authority. Then the blessing will quickly follow, from the uplifted hands (manifested power), of our great High Priest;
*Nevertheless, we believe the Book of Hebrews to be a presentation of the Gospel specially suitable as a message to unbelieving Jews--superior in its influence to anything which we or others could present. Accordingly, we are preparing a booklet giving this Epistle in the Hebrew-Jargon, familiar to Jews of all nationalities, for use among them,--hoping that through the assistance of our readers in all lands it may be the means under divine providence of blessing and enlightening some, and preparing them for the mercy future, mentioned by the Apostle in `Romans 11:31`. We will send a copy of this brochure when issued to each WATCH TOWER subscriber, and trust that few if any will be wasted;--the stewardship then will be yours.
+See Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices--this office.
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then, indeed, restitution blessings will prevail toward the whole creation now groaning and travailing in pain together.--`Rom. 8:22`.
It is in respect to this coming blessing that the Apostle declares our Lord to be a High Priest of coming good things--coming blessings--obtained of God in a higher tabernacle or temple than the Jewish earthly one--a tabernacle, the Holy of Holies of which is heaven itself, from which in due time our great High Priest comes forth with the promised blessings of restitution, etc.
In order to appreciate this matter we must see that not only was the High Priest superior to the high priests of the Aaronic order--their antitype--but also that the sacrifices which he presents are of a superior character--his own blood, his own life: having sacrificed it on our behalf he entered into heaven itself, the holy place--"having found [procured] lasting ransom-deliverance [for those whom he as high priest represented]." --`Verse 12`.
The Apostle urges that these conclusions are logical and reasonable, they recognized the fact that the typical sacrifices had served in a measure for purification, and made the creatures represented thereby typically acceptable with God for a time, and this, which was all that the most zealous Jew could claim for the Law, being accepted as true, how much greater must be the blessing which the greater, the antitypical, High Priest would bring, would secure, as the result of his better, more precious and wholly acceptable sacrifice. Our Lord Jesus offered up himself; the offering took place at his consecration, which was symbolized by his baptism at Jordan; his dying, his sacrifice, began there, tho it was not "finished" until he breathed his last at Calvary. His flesh which he offered was "holy, harmless, undefiled," an acceptable offering, a full offset or ransom-price for father Adam, through whose disobedience the condemnation of death came, not only upon himself, but also upon all his posterity. The man Christ Jesus was begotten again, begotten to the spiritual, the divine nature, through the holy spirit which there came upon him, and which constituted him the Anointed--the Christ, the Messiah. From that moment onward this Anointed One, Messiah, the new creature, was the anointed high priest, whose business for the time was that of offering up himself--offering up or sacrificing himself as the man Jesus, even unto death. Meanwhile, as a "new creature," he was growing in grace and gaining all the experiences necessary to fit him for his office as man's High Priest in all things pertaining to God. Jesus, from the time of his anointing of the holy spirit, was reckoned as having begun the new life, as having been begotten of the Spirit to be a spirit being (which was perfected in the resurrection, when he arose from the dead a quickening spirit) --it is to this spirit begotten High Priest that the Apostle refers, saying that our Lord (the new creature) offered himself (the man) without blemish unto God through, or by, the eternal spirit by which he had been begotten. --`Verse 14`.
TO WHOM WAS THE RANSOM PAID?
Some have inquired sarcastically, "To whom was the ransom paid?" asserting that if paid at all it must have been paid to Satan. Our answer to this question is found in the Apostle's words in `vs. 14` of this lesson; --that our Lord Jesus offered himself to God in sacrifice; that the ransom price was paid to Justice, that it was not Satan who gave the law under which Adam was tried, and under which, on his failure, he was condemned to death; but as that was God's law and God's condemnation, so the ransom price which God provided for in Jesus must be paid to God--to divine Justice-- "that he might be just and yet be the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus."--`Rom. 3:26`.
The Apostle urges that this clear view of how "Jesus died and paid it all," how he bought us with his own precious blood, giving the exact sacrifice which was necessary, according to the divine law, should purge or free our consciences from a sense of guilt, and that forever. We should see that if God, who counted us justly condemned, has provided now in this sacrifice a ransom price acceptable to himself, "He is just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (`1 John 1:9`.) And since this is a matter of faith, our blessing and good conscience toward God, and realization of the full reconciliation through the precious blood, will be in proportion as we exercise faith in this great fact which God has revealed in his Word. According to our faith it will be unto us; he who exercises the faith may go on realizing his acceptance with God; but he who fails to exercise faith will be hindered from approaching God, and using the blessed opportunities put before us in the Gospel, as truly as those who know not of the ransom.
The Jewish Covenant was one which required perfect works, and not merely a perfect heart or will; and since, as fallen men, the Israelites could not perform perfect works, even their best endeavors must be works which could only result in death. Now, however, realizing the better sacrifices which Christ had accomplished, and realizing that a new order or dispensation had come in, based upon a new covenant, of which Christ is the Mediator, they were to realize that he, having paid the ransom-price for the "sins of the whole world," could accept their will, their intentions, their righteous endeavors, as fulfilling their Law Covenant, and thus they might thereafter enjoy a living
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faith, instead of sorrowing for works that were dead.
To impress the foregoing lessons, the Apostle, in `vss. 24-28`, contrasts the work of Christ in the true tabernacle or "Holies" with the work of the typical high priest of the Aaronic order in the typical Tabernacle or Temple. Jesus could not have been an earthly High Priest, because, according to the Law, the priests could only be of the tribe of Levi, whereas our Lord sprang from Judah. Thus he could not, and did not enter into "holy places" made with hands, the typical; but his is a higher priesthood, after the order of Melchisedec, as the Apostle elsewhere explains, and the Temple in which he offers is the antitypical one, and hence it is that in entering the "Holy of Holies" he entered heaven itself, there to appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf, as the earthly priests once every year, on the Day of Atonement, went into the typical presence of God, into the typical "Most Holy," appearing before the Shekinah glory (representing God) over the Mercy Seat.
For the same reason, the Apostle explains, it is not necessary that Christ should repeat his sacrifice every year, because his is the antitypical one and prevails everlastingly. The typical priests needed to repeat their typical offerings "year by year continually," because they were merely types, and could never cancel sin, but merely, by divine arrangement, covered it for a year. The Apostle reasons that if Christ's sacrifice had been no better than these it would mean repeated sufferings on our behalf, but, on the contrary, all the facts agree that his sacrifice was once and forever; because it was a complete, a perfect sacrifice, which the divine law demanded. This is in direct conflict with the teachings of the Church of Rome, which claims that our Lord's sacrifice needs to be repeated (in the "sacrifice of the Mass") in order to the forgiveness of each particular sin for which it is applied; hence the claim of Romanism that her priests have power to transmute the elements of bread and wine into the actual body and actual blood of Christ; to recreate Christ for the very purpose of sacrificing him afresh--and this sacrilegious, blasphemous misrepresentation of the divine arrangement is repeated, not only yearly, but daily, in all parts of the world where Romanism has a foothold.
And so far has Protestantism lost sight of the real character of Papacy, and the original grounds for protest which separated their fathers from Papacy, that they are now generally ignorant of this her claim, and ready to consider the Mass as merely a symbol of our Lord's sacrifice, of the same meaning as their own Eucharist or "Communion" service. The coronation oath of the British kings was so formulated as, if possible, to hinder any but a Protestant from ever coming to the throne; hence on this subject the oath declares: --"I do believe that in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is not any transubstantiation; and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other saint, and the sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous."
The Romanists of Great Britain are complaining against this form of oath as being a reflection against their religious doctrines; and Protestants have so generally lost sight of the real meaning of the Mass that they are inclined to agree with the Romanists that the oath has become obsolete and might properly be changed. Their forefathers evidently knew much more about the real meaning of the Papal doctrine respecting the Mass, that it is blasphemous and sacrilegious, and particularly emphasized in the Scriptures as "the desolating abomination." (`Dan. 11:31`; `12:11`.) The Scriptural proposition is that our Lord's sacrifice was once for all, and that Christ dieth no more, death hath no dominion over him (`Rom. 6:9`), and the Apostle in our lesson shows that there could be no need of a further atonement sacrifice than that which God has already provided. It is able to make perfect and that "unto the uttermost" those who would approach to God.
Perhaps no statement of the Scripture is more thoroughly misunderstood than the `27th verse` of this lesson, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." It is unreasonable to suppose that the Apostle has suddenly dropped the topic of his discourse respecting Christ as the antitypical High Priest, in contrast with earthly priests, and to suppose that here he refers to mankind in general, out of all relationship to his subject. Indeed, as respects mankind in general, the verse would not be true; it is not true that God appointed man to die and after that a judgment. On the contrary, Adam, the one perfect man, was appointed to life, and it was while thus appointed to life that he had his judgment or trial; and it was his failure in that trial which brought the sentence, death. Death is the penalty, and must follow the judgment, not precede it. True, the Scriptures teach us that there is to be another judgment or trial for all mankind (and that with some, believers, this trial has already begun), but it is not because matters were so "appointed," but because Christ has redeemed us from the original sentence of death, paying it once for all. And in the new trial or judgment, thus secured, the same principle as in Adam's case will hold true again;--the redeemed are appointed to life if they will obey the great Law-giver--they are not "appointed" to die, and none will die except as wilful sinners in the Second Death. The world of mankind,
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as a result of the redemption, will be awakened from the tomb, that they may have their judgment or trial (`John 5:28,29`),--such a judgment or trial must precede the Second Death sentence in any event.
What the Apostle does mean by this statement may perhaps be more clearly shown by a paraphrase, as follows: We have just seen how the Jewish priests, and their service in the earthly holy places, typified Christ Jesus and his service in the heavenly holies,-- now notice that, "As it is appointed unto men[-priests] once to die [typically, as represented in the animals which they slew, as their representatives] and after this the judgment [passing in beyond the second vail into the presence of the Shekinah glory, to offer the blood of sacrifice and to receive divine judgment in the matter, it implied that if everything had been properly done by the priest he would live, and be judged worthy to be the Priest for the people, and to go forth again as the bearer of divine favor,--to bless them, forgiving their iniquities and releasing them from all condemnation thereunder,--but if anything on his part had been improperly done, in a manner unacceptable to the Lord, his judgment would have been unfavorable; he would have perished, died, in passing under the second vail; for this was the law on the subject--`Lev. 16:2`]."
This interpretation not only connects with the preceding verse, but also with the succeeding one, for the Apostle says, "So [in like manner] Christ was once offered [died] to bear the sins of many [and we have evidence, in the giving of the holy spirit at Pentecost, that his sacrifice was acceptable to the Lord, and that he liveth, and that divine judgment has been rendered, accepting his sacrifice, and therefore favorable to us, for whom the sacrifice was made] and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin [not as a sin offering, nor as a sacrificing priest, but in the glory and majesty of his exalted office, symbolized by the robes of glory and beauty, worn by the Aaronic high priests] unto salvation [to accomplish for mankind the deliverance from sin, death and all the concomitants of death, sickness, pain, sorrow]."
Meantime, throughout the Gospel age, the Lord's people by the eye of faith beheld the great High Priest as their Mediator, "who ever liveth to make intercession for us," while he awaited the Father's time for his coming forth a second time to make good his exceeding great and precious spiritual promises and blessings upon his Church, and to grant the promised restitution blessings to the world, foretold "by all the holy prophets since the world began."
But in advance of the actual blessings, by faith, all who are his brethren, his disciples, walking in his footsteps, seeking to fulfil their sacrifice as he fulfilled his, and under his assistance and direction, may realize that they are not aliens and strangers and foreigners from God, but that they are accepted with the Father --not directly but indirectly, "accepted in the Beloved," who is our Intercessor, our Mediator, and in whom alone we have a standing before the Father and may ask or expect any favors.--`Eph. 1:6`; `Rom. 5:1,2`.
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PAUL'S HEAVENLY VISION.
--`ACTS 22:6-16`.--JUNE 9.--
"I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision."--`Acts 26:19`.
WHILE waiting at Jerusalem for the Pentecostal blessing promised, the eleven apostles overlooked the fact that they were not to begin their work, nor to consider that they had the proper endowment of wisdom or authority from on high for any part of it, until they should receive the promised blessing. Their selection of Matthias to fill the place of Judas, as the twelfth apostle was, therefore, a blunder; for altho they cast lots, to give the Lord a choice, and the lot fell on one of the two they had decided upon, they were in this doing something beyond their authority. The Lord had his own choice for the one who would take the place of Judas, and this one already had been undergoing special training and discipline "from his mother's womb."--`Gal. 1:15`; `Acts 9:15`; `Rom. 1:1`; `11:13`; `1 Cor. 1:1`; `9:1`.
The name of the Lord's choice for the twelfth apostle was, in the Hebrew language, Saul, and in the Greek, Paul. Under divine supervision, and with a view to his future work, without, however, interfering with his will, the Lord had carefully guided, in respect to the birthplace, opportunities, education, etc., of this one whom he foresaw to be his chosen vessel to bear his message to the Gentiles. He was well-born, well educated, inheriting the valuable right of a Roman citizen; was of a very religious cast of mind, a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee.
Paul, like others of his countrymen, was zealous for the Law, and for the promises made to Israel. He was not a wicked man in any sense of the word, but, on the contrary, was moral, upright, religious, having a religious zeal which led him to persecute Christ and his followers as heretics against the Mosaic institutions. He himself tells us that he persecuted the Church "in all good conscience," and yet he freely admits that in his language respecting Christians he blasphemed the holy name, and was an injurer of the saints and a persecutor. In his religious zeal, he tells
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us, he was "exceeding mad against" the Christians, and "delivered into prisons both men and women."-- `Acts 22:4`; `26:11`; `1 Tim 1:13`; `Phil. 3:5,6`.
It was because Paul of Tarsus was not a bad man, but a good man, laboring under blindness and misapprehension, "an Israelite indeed," fighting the truth ignorantly, that our Lord favored him in the miraculous manner related in this lesson. Indeed, we may suppose that the Lord in some manner favored all "Israelites indeed," as we note, for instance, that he favored Nathanael, who at first was skeptical respecting his Messiahship, but was granted convincing evidence because of his sincerity. Similarly we may suppose that some of those who were converted by the miraculous manifestations of the day of Pentecost and shortly afterward (numbering thousands), may have been amongst the very ones who, but a few days previously, had thought of and perhaps had spoken of Jesus as an impostor, and his disciples as shallow-minded dupes. The Lord had mercy upon Nathanael, and assisted him in one way, while he assisted others, at Pentecost, in another way, through manifestation of the spirit; and now in a still different manner he arrested the attention of Saul, convincing him speedily that he was doing the very opposite thing from what he intended to do.
The heart of Paul being in a right attitude,--of loyalty toward God, of zeal for God, he merely needed to be set right; and we see that immediately the same zeal and fervency of spirit which once persecuted the Church was enlisted on behalf of the Church;--that he gladly forsook all to follow Christ, as soon as he recognized his true character. These things being true, those who refer to the Apostle Paul's "conversion," and who compare it to the conversion of an ordinary evil-doer, show that they are laboring under a serious misapprehension of the facts. Had Saul of Tarsus been a wicked man we could not suppose that the Lord would have been interested in him in any such manner, nor that any such miraculous means would have been used to bring his attention to his wrong course of action.
God's time for dealing with the unbelieving world is not in this age--that work is left for the Millennial age. He is dealing now only with those who are "Israelites indeed," honest at heart; and it is for this class, and this class only, that the Lord's providence and drawing and convincing power is exercised. In other words, God never proposes to change a man's will, but where his will is right and his ideas, his conceptions of proprieties, are wrong, it is in accord with every principle of righteousness for the Lord to favor such, and to open the eyes of their understanding: and this same rule holds good now, as the Prophet has declared: "None of the wicked shall understand-- but the wise shall understand"--the truly wise. If any of the wicked gain a partial knowledge of the truth we may be sure that they will lose it, for, as the Scriptures again declare, "Light is sown for the righteous: truth for the upright in heart." (`Psa. 97:11`.) God has abundant provisions for dealing with other classes in the future, "in due time"--such as will be best suited to their cases.
Our lesson shows us Saul on his way to Damascus, armed with authority for the apprehension of the Lord's followers, accompanied by others who seemingly
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were under his command as a police force. All who know anything respecting the exceeding clearness and brightness of the noonday sun in Palestine, glaringly brilliant, will note the force of the statement respecting the great light which suddenly shone upon Saul from heaven about noonday. It must have been an exceedingly bright light; but apparently it affected Saul alone, and not those that were with him, tho they saw it and noted its effect upon Paul, who was blinded by it, as he fell to the ground. If he were afoot this might mean that he immediately prostrated himself, as one would be said to fall down before a king; if he were on horseback it might mean that he dismounted and prostrated himself;--but we do not incline to the thought which seems to be the common one, that he fell from his horse as in a faint. Rather, instead of being stunned or in a faint condition, Saul seems to have been fully possessed of his senses, and to have realized that he was the subject of a miracle. The voice which he heard was one, not of approval, as he might have expected, since he was supposedly in the divine service, but one of reproof: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Paul's clearness of mind is manifest in his inquiry, "Who art thou, Lord?" He recognized at once that the one who had thus power to arrest him in his journey was a lordly one, a powerful one, yet he wished to make no mistake, he wished to know who it was who thus reproved him, that he might benefit the more. The answer must have been a surprise to him, almost a shock: "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest."
Our Lord's answer shows us how intimately he stands related with all those who are truly his; those who touch his saints touch him, for are they not, as the Apostle declares, "members in particular of the body of Christ?" He is indeed, "the Head of the Church, which is his body," and the ascended Head feels for and cares for and is interested in even the weakest and humblest of those whom he recognizes as truly his. If we remember this it will be a great help to us in the midst of trials and persecutions--the thought that we are "filling up that which is behind
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of the afflictions of Christ," that "as he was, so are we in this world," and that while we are in the flesh, Christ is in the flesh, and that this will continue until the last members, even the feet members of the body, shall have suffered and have entered into glory. Let us remember this also, and specially, if at any time we are tempted to deal harshly or speak rudely or think unkindly of any of the "brethren." Let us consider that as we, with all our weaknesses and unwilling imperfections, are the Lord's members and subjects of his interest and care, so also are all of the brethren; and that inasmuch as we do, or do not do, to one of the least of his brethren, we do, or do not do, to him. If this thought of the intimate relationship between the head and the members could be always fresh before our minds, how favorable would be the influence; how often we would improve the opportunity, not only of suffering, as the body of Christ, but of suffering with the fellow members, and assisting in bearing their burdens. "We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren."--`1 John 3:16`; `Heb. 2:11`; `Col. 1:24`.
We are told that Paul's companions also saw the light, but heard not the voice. Elsewhere it is stated that they heard the voice, but saw no man. The statements are not to be supposed to be contradictory, but can be understood to be harmonious by remembering that the expression "hearing the voice" is sometimes used in two different ways. We may say to a friend, "I did not hear what you said." And again, speaking of the same matter, we might say, "I heard a voice or sound, but did not distinguish the words." The two statements might seem to be contradictory, but are really quite in harmony; and so with these two records of the Apostle's words. The voice was heard by all, but the message by Saul only.
Paul was an intensely practical man, and as soon as he understood who it was that had thus arrested him in his course of error he immediately inquired, "Lord, what shall I do?" This meant a great deal; it meant: I am anxious now to undo what I have been heretofore mistakenly doing; I am anxious to be your servant; I appeal to you for orders; I am ready to obey. "He, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (`Acts 9:6`.) This, the language and the attitude of all sincere souls, meant full surrender. It meant, I am not more sincere now than I was a moment ago, but the eyes of my understanding have been opened, tho it has cost me the loss of my natural sight. Let me demonstrate, O Lord, that my crime against thee was not of heart, but merely of misapprehension of head; let me lay down my life in thy service.
And similar seems to be the attitude of the Lord's true people today: those who have been blinded for years with misconceptions of the divine character and plan, and who have blasphemed God's holy name ignorantly, in misrepresenting him and his plan; and who have persecuted Jesus by opposing his truth, and those supporting it--these, when now the eyes of their understanding are opened, feel as did Saul, that the remainder of life is only too little and too short to show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light;--of him who had mercy upon us, and who graciously shined into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord. (`2 Cor. 4:4`.) Those who do not feel their hearts burn, and who feel no desire to pledge themselves to the service of the Lord and his truth, have not the spirit of the Apostle,--have not the spirit which is best pleasing to the Lord and most esteemed amongst those who have the mind of the Lord. And if we have this spirit or disposition in any measure let us cultivate it, by thinking what great things the Lord has done for us, and by considering how little we are able to do in return to manifest the appreciation which we feel and ought to feel.
The Lord's answer, sending Paul to Damascus, and informing him that "there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do," shows us that Paul was in the divine mind and plan beforehand. The Lord knew that he was honest, and one who, when the truth would shine into his heart, would not be disobedient to the heavenly vision, but would be prompt to consecrate his life, his all, in the service of the Lord and of the brethren. Verily, "The Lord knoweth them that are his." The same thought is brought to us in noting the Lord's answer to Ananias, when the latter was fearful to go to Saul. The Lord said, "Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel; for I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." Such language could not be used by the Lord in connection with one whose heart was not already fully consecrated to the divine will and service, however ignorantly it had been misused. So today we may have more hope of some who are outspoken in their opposition and enmity to the truth and its servants than for some who are its very cold and indifferent friends. The former may be truly consecrated, but blind, and if so the Lord's due time will come for their mental eyes to be open, and then we may be sure that they will be amongst his most faithful followers.
The wonderful light which flashed upon his eyes destroyed his sight. "Saul arose from the earth, and
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when his eyes were open he saw no man, but they led him by the hand and led him into Damascus, and he was three days without sight, neither did he eat or drink." We may be sure, however, that during those three days he did a great amount of thinking,--endeavoring to grasp, so far as possible, the lessons of his wonderful experiences. He tells us that he realized his experience to be nothing else than his seeing of Jesus. We need not suppose that he saw our Lord's spiritual body in its wonderful glory, for we are to remember the Scriptural statement that our Lord now is the express image of the Father's person; and we remember, too, that it is declared that no man can see God and live; that he dwells in a light no man can approach unto. And since our Lord Jesus is his express image and likeness, the same thing must now be true of him. Saul was but a man, and could not, therefore, have seen that which no man could see, and live. What, then, did he see? We answer, that he saw a representation of Jesus' glory. Since he could not see the fulness of that glory and live, he was permitted only to see a part of it, and that part destroyed his eyesight. This demonstrates to us the truth of the statement that the divine glory, if fully revealed to man, would cause death. Nevertheless, such an appearance of the Lord's glory to Paul made him as really a witness of Jesus' resurrection as were the other eleven apostles, for neither did they see Jesus, in reality, in his glorious spirit person; they saw him as he appeared in bodies of flesh, assumed for the very purpose of appearing and instructing; Paul saw him partially; that is to say, he saw some of the light from his glorious presence, sufficient to give him absolute assurance that Jesus was no longer, as he had supposed, the dead Nazarene, but the resurrected, glorified, heavenly Lord, a quickening spirit.
Let us note how the Lord chose a devout man amongst the disciples, when he would send a message to Paul, the record being that Ananias was esteemed amongst the Jews as a good man; and so we should always expect that those whom the Lord would choose as his special messengers would be good men, devout men, pious men,--not frivolous, not worldly, not immoral.
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And should we ever find any, claiming to be the ministers of the truth, of immoral character, we would have good reason to doubt them; or to suppose that if the Lord even had used them once, he would no longer use such after they had departed from the ways of righteousness. Nevertheless, we are to remember that we must not judge any hastily upon the testimony of the worldly, and especially not according to the witness of enemies of the truth, however religious those enemies may claim to be, but should remember our Lord's word, "They shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake."
Altho the Lord, at the hands of Ananias, performed a miracle on the eyes of Saul, so that scales fell from them, and he was able to look upon Ananias, nevertheless, we have every reason to believe that his eyes were never restored to their former strength, and that it was for this reason that the Christian brethren would have gladly plucked out their own eyes for him (`Gal. 4:15`); for this reason, also, that, altho a learned man, he wrote very few of his own epistles, and was largely dependent upon his companions, tho himself invariably the chief speaker and writer. This was the "thorn in the flesh," which the Lord was not pleased to remove entirely, and which the Apostle learned to rejoice in ultimately, when he came to know that through this God's mercy and grace would abound toward him the more.--`Gal. 6:11`; `2 Cor. 12:7-9`.
And so with us: we might be inclined to think that if we had greater talents and abilities, or we were relieved of certain weaknesses of the flesh, it would be better for us and for the Lord's cause; yet we are to remember the Master's words again, that we are to "seek first the Kingdom of heaven," and that all things needful of an earthly kind will be added to us. Our desires and prayers are not to be for the earthly things after which the Gentiles seek, but are to be chiefly for the spiritual things. We are to remember that as respects our earthly interests they have all been committed to the Lord, and that he knoweth what things we have need of before we ask him, and that he has promised to do for us in every matter exceeding abundantly better things than we could ask or think, as viewed from the standpoint of our spiritual and eternal interests. We surely would not want temporal blessings which would in any degree hinder our attainment to the exceeding great and precious promises--the spiritual things which God hath in reservation for them that love him.
Let us note carefully the message God sent to Paul through Ananias. "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldst know his will, and see that just one, and shouldst hear the voice of his mouth." Ah! how few indeed realize the truth of the Master's statement, "No man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him." How few realize that God, during this present time, is not attempting to gather the world into his arms, but merely, as the Scriptures abundantly declare, is taking out from amongst the people a peculiar people, a little flock, to constitute the Bride, the Lamb's wife and joint-heir. If all who have heard the voice of Jesus speaking to them through his Word, and who, with the eye of faith, have seen him, and into whose hearts the light of the glory of God, above the brightness of
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all earthly light, has shined, could but realize how great a favor has come upon them, it would indeed be a great stimulus to their appreciation of the privileges thus put within their grasp. They would see that all this signifies that we are called to be coworkers together with God, to be fellow-sufferers with Jesus in this Gospel age of sacrifice for righteousness' sake, and to be fellow-heirs with him in the coming age, in which the reign of righteousness shall prevail to the blessing of all the families of the earth, and the subjugation of Satan and sin.
This was the thought conveyed to Paul: that the meaning of the experience which had come to him was, that he had been found of such condition of heart as to be worthy to be a witness for God and for Jesus respecting the things he had seen and heard. And so with each of us; we are not to attempt to tell to others things which we have not seen and have not heard ourselves; but first of all the eye of appreciation and faith must be opened, and the ear of understanding unstopped, and then out of that which we ourselves hear from the Lord, through his appointed agencies and ministers, we are in turn to repeat to others-- dispensing the divine favor according to our capacity for appreciation and for utterance.
The Lord's declaration to Ananias respecting Paul was, "He is a chosen vessel unto me...I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." (`Acts 9:15,16`.) Thus it is with all of the Lord's chosen ones, like the Captain of our salvation, Jesus, each and all must learn and prove their obedience and loyalty to the divine plan by suffering in this present time, that they may be thus fitted and prepared for the glory, honor and immortality of the Kingdom. And to be chosen to suffer much implies qualification for the higher glory hereafter. Thus it was with our Lord and with the apostles: and thus it is written, for our encouragement, that the sufferings of this present time work out "for us a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory."--`2 Cor. 4:17`.
Let us also note and apply the words of Ananias, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord." There is a directness in this address that is worthy of being copied by all who have an influence upon others, and who are seeking to bring them along in the right way. Urge them to promptness, to full and complete obedience, to a full confession of the Lord and the truth. If they are not inclined to promptly obey after their eyes of faith have seen the Lord, and after their ears have heard his voice, they will be much less likely to be ready to make a consecration after a while, when the world and the flesh and the devil will say to them, Do not be an extremist, now; be moderate; do not make a full consecration of yourself to the Lord. Your neighbors and friends will think you beside yourself, and it will interfere with your hopes and prospects, and turn your friends into enemies. It will cost you too much; go slowly. The right course for every one who would give instruction is that of Ananias, to favor prompt obedience. "The time past of our lives sufficeth us" to have misrepresented the Lord, his character and his plan to any extent. The remainder of life is far too short to show forth the praise of him whom we now see to be the glorious one, the author and finisher of our faith.
The baptism of John, which was instituted for Jews, was a baptism unto repentance and remission of sins--not original sin, but sins against the Jewish covenant, and sins against Jesus, the Messiah who fulfilled that Covenant. This was John's baptism, the one that was appropriate to the Jews; for every Jew who was in harmony with his God and with his covenant had his original sin covered under the arrangement of the Mosaic Law, in the sacrifices which took place year by year continually, until the great sacrifice came, the antitypical one, which superseded all others. Every true Israelite, therefore, who was in Moses under the Jewish Law Covenant, by virtue of Christ's work in taking the place of Moses, and in substituting the New Covenant for the Law Covenant, was, so to speak, transferred from the Old to the New; from Moses into Christ; and the typical covering of original sin became actual in Christ. Therefore the Jews were everywhere called upon to repent and to be baptized for the remission of their sins against their covenant; that thus they might be in full accord with the Lord. This baptism for the remission of sins, John's baptism, was for the Jews only, and not for the Gentiles, who were not under the Mosaic covenant nor in Moses (baptized into Moses--`1 Cor. 10:2`), and hence in the transfer of the Mosaic institution into the Christian we were not transferred into Christ. Baptism to the Gentiles means an admission into Christ--into the body or Church of Christ, as the Apostle explains.--`Rom. 6:3-5`.
Noting that the Apostle Paul was so faithful a follower of the Lord Jesus, and that his enlightenment in many respects so clearly illustrates our own spiritual enlightenment in this harvest-time, let us lay well to heart the Golden Text, the Apostle's words, "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision." Let us, dear brethren and sisters, who have seen in the light of this harvest-time the light of the Lord's presence (parousia), shining above the brightness of all earthly light, giving a light of the knowledge
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of the glory of God, showing us something of the divine character and plan--let us not be disobedient unto the heavenly vision, but faithful to our privileges and opportunities in letting the light that has shined into our hearts and minds so shine out to others in our words, and in the living epistles of our lives, that men may glorify our Father which is in heaven.
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JESUS REVEALED TO JOHN IN VISION.
--`REV. 1:9-20`.--JUNE 16.--
"Jesus Christ, the same yesterday,
today and forever."--`Heb. 13:8`.
VISIONS are not realities, tho they symbolically represent them. This is true, whether the vision come, as Daniel describes his, as "visions of my head upon my bed," or whether they come in broad daylight, as with the transfiguration scene, which our Lord declared was a vision. (`Matt. 17:9`.) The visions granted to John, recorded in the Book of Revelation, are in no sense and in no part to be understood as realities, and this is the significance of John's statement in our lesson, "I was in the spirit on the Lord's day" --in a trance.
Altho the words, "on the Lord's day," might not unreasonably be understood to signify that John in vision was carried down the stream of time to the great Millennial Day, the Day of Christ, the Lord's Day, nevertheless, we think it reasonable to understand him to mean also that he saw this vision on the first day of the week. And how appropriate it was that our Lord, who arose on the first day of the week, and who most frequently manifested his resurrection powers on that day, should on the same day reveal himself and certain great instructions to the Church through John, honoring the same day of the week. It is no wonder, therefore, that Christian people from the very earliest times have held the first day of the week in special reverence as the symbol of the fulfilment of all our hopes, whereof God gave us assurance in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus on this day. Besides, to confine the meaning of the expression to the Millennial Day exclusively, would be to ignore the fact that the larger proportion of John's vision related not to the Millennial Day, but to the intervening time.
Note the simplicity of the Apostle's introduction to this most wonderful book. He did not write the title of the book as it appears in our Bibles--"The Revelation of St. John the Divine"--that is to say, the Revelation of St. John, Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Theology. On the contrary, John claims no credit for the revelation; it was not his, but, as he distinctly explains, it was from our Lord Jesus Christ,--and to him from God the Father. Nor was it even to John in any special sense, but, as he again declares, unto God's "servants," sent by his "servant John." This simplicity, common to all the apostles, commends them to us as men of humble minds,--the very kind we should expect our Lord to use as special servants and messengers to his people. The apostolic simplicity is in striking contrast with the pomposity of the majority of those who claim to be their pupils and fellow servants, and who delight in the titles of "Reverend," "Right Reverend," "Very Reverend," "His Holiness," "Doctor of Divinity," etc. And in proportion as the spirit of the world is quenched by the spirit of Christ--and in proportion as the Lord's people are zealous in seeking and finding "the old paths" (`Jer. 6:16`), in that same proportion do these human titles which seem so much to the world and to Babylon come to appear vain, inappropriate, deceitful.
Instead of adding loud and boastful titles to his name, as Reverend, Bishop, Overseer of all the Churches in Asia Minor, we find John introducing himself as "Your Brother," as the companion of all saints in tribulation and in the Kingdom, and in the patient endurance of Jesus Christ. He was sharer with Christ, as a member of his body in his afflictions, in his endurance, and prospectively a joint-heir in his Kingdom, and in all this he was the brother of all fellow-disciples, sharers of the same sufferings, and prospectively of the same glory. It is generally understood that John had already been severely persecuted, and that at the time of this vision he was in banishment on the little island in the Mediterranean Sea called Patmos--a penal island where convicts were worked in the quarrying of marble, etc. Yet John himself, with remarkable modesty, passes over not only his previous service for the truth, which had brought him his persecution, but also lightly passes over the persecution itself, merely noting that he was in the island of Patmos because of his fidelity to the word of God and the testimony that Jesus was the Christ.
This simplicity, this absence of boastfulness so noticeable in the writings of all the apostles, commends them and their words to our attention, and marks them as being in the ministry not for the gratification of vanity, or seeking earthly rewards of any kind; but simply as the servants of God, who delighted to do his will, and to tell the good tidings, to the utter ignoring of themselves, excepting in so far as mention of themselves and their affairs might be necessary and helpful to the Church. All of the Lord's followers do well to
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note this characteristic of the Master, and of those whom he specially chose to be his followers and our exemplars. In proportion as we attain to the Lord's spirit it will similarly manifest itself in our sentiments and conduct.
John's attention was first attracted by the trumpet-like voice of Christ from behind him. The fact that the location is mentioned at all implies that it has a special symbolic meaning. It signifies that the beginning of this message was not in John's day, nor from some future time, but that the things to be revealed had already commenced, and were already to some extent in the past;--the voice from behind going clear back, as some of the features of the book show, to the time of our Lord's earthly ministry. The trumpet voice directed that its message should be written and sent to the seven churches named. Ancient MSS. omit the words, "saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and," and also the words, "churches which are in Asia." There were seven churches in Asia Minor corresponding to those mentioned by name in this connection; but while this revelation may have been applicable to them in some manner or degree it was evidently in but a small measure. Those seven churches of Asia Minor we understand were chosen of the Lord as symbols representing seven different epochs in the history of the one true Church of Christ, from Pentecost day until the gathering to the Lord of the last grain of wheat in the end of this Gospel harvest.
Turning to see the one who addressed him John beheld seven golden candlesticks (lamp-stands), and standing in the midst of these one having the resemblance to a son of man--not the Son of man. It is to this particular point that the Committee which selected this as the International Lesson for this date sought to draw attention--the revelation of Jesus to John, it to some extent resembling his revelation to Paul, considered in our last lesson. In truth, however, there is considerable difference, for what John saw in the way of light and stars and lamps and brightness was merely a mental vision, while that which Paul saw while on the way to Damascus was a very literal light, which permanently injured his eyes. What John saw in vision was not understood by him to be the Lord's glorious body, nor even a representation of it, except in the sense that it was a symbolical representation.
For instance, the head, with its white hair, corresponding to the Ancient of Days of Daniel's vision (`Dan. 9:27`), is not to teach us that our Lord in glory has the form of a man, and hairs that are white, but merely suggestive and symbolic of venerableness, of knowledge, experience, wisdom. The fiery or electric glance of the eyes should similarly be understood symbolically to represent penetrating intelligence, and ability to see and to know everything pertaining to his people, his Church. The mouth, from which proceeded the sharp two-edged sword is not to tell us that this is the appearance of our Lord in glory, but merely to symbolize to us that his words in his Church are to be as the sword of the spirit, which the Apostle declares to be sharper than any two-edged sword, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart, dividing and classifying his people, and separating from his elect every impure thing and every unacceptable element. His voice, as the sound of many waters, might be understood to mean that the Lord could and did speak to his Church sometimes as the voice of musical rippling waters of the brook, and sometimes as the roaring of the sea; or the many waters might be understood as signifying peoples, nations and languages, as elsewhere explained in this book, and that thus our Lord, present with his Church, would speak to her and through her by many tongues, in many languages,--the latter view seems to us the more reasonable.
The hand, in which were seven stars, is similarly to be understood as a symbolical part of the vision, representing the Lord's power in his Church. The stars, as he explains (`vs. 20`; `chap. 2:1,8,12,18,etc`.), are the angels or messengers or special servants of the Church in each epoch. The intimation is that the Lord would recognize in his Church, in each of its seven stages or developments, one representative to whom he would specially address himself, and through whom he would specially instruct the Church, and whom he would specially hold or keep as his instrument by his own power or hand. This would not necessarily mean that one individual of the Church must be used of the Lord, even should he become unfit for the service, but would imply that one servant would be recognized in each epoch. If that servant for any cause or in any manner seemed to be an unsuitable one another might take his place, and be the star or messenger of the Church of that epoch.
The whole body was covered, hidden from sight, with a robe, only the head, the hand and the feet being exposed to view, thus agreeing with the explanation given us by the Apostle Paul (`1 Cor. 12:12-31`) in
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which he represents the whole Church as being the body of Christ and members in particular, but pointing out that some of the members of the Church may occupy the position of an eye or an ear or a tongue, and others the position of feet. Thus the Lord would be present with his people by his spirit dwelling in them, using different members of the body to accomplish for his body different services. The feet, described as like furnace-refined copper would represent those members of the body of Christ who serve, in the sense of carrying forward, financially and otherwise, the Lord's work. Copper is a symbol of humanity,* and this copper being furnace-refined would seem to say that those who belong to the body of Christ, and whom the Lord would use in his service, "the feet" members of the body, must, in their contact and dealings with the world, be refined, purified, clean--"Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord's house." The feet would thus represent the living members of the body, all down through this age; and the refining process to each and all will be fiery trials.
*See Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices.
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Thus understood, the figure of a son of man (a human figure) in the midst of the seven candlesticks, etc., symbolically represented Christ standing criticising, judging, directing, in the midst of his Church, upholding his chosen stars or ministers, and represented in the various members by his people, is an impressive picture or symbol, full of instruction, leading us to expect the Lord's guidance in all the affairs of his Church, and to realize that things are not happening to her haphazard. To so recognize that the Lord's people in every part of this age have been "feet" members of the body, carrying forward his work, is not to contradict our previous application of `Isa. 52:7`, which merely represents the "feet" members of the present time, and identifies them as the ones who declare unto Zion, "Thy God reigneth"--in this manner distinguishing these from their predecessors in the pilgrim way.
Seven, as a symbolic number, represents perfection or completeness, and thus the seven candlesticks, the seven churches, represent the complete Church, and this union of seven as one was most beautifully typified in the golden candlestick (lamp-stand) of the "*Most Holy" of the Tabernacle and subsequently of the Temple. That candlestick or lamp-stand was one, but there were seven branches or lights; while in this symbolical picture of the Church in Revelation each is represented separately, and our Lord's messages are directed to the seven churches of the seven epochs separately; nevertheless, in reality the Church is all one. (`1 Cor. 12:12`.) The union and the separateness are merely as we view the matter from two different standpoints. It is the one high priest who cares for all the lamps, and the one holy oil that in every stage of the Church has given light to all of the consecrated class, the "Royal Priesthood," who have access to the "Holy *Place" and are seated with Christ in heavenly places (conditions).--`Eph. 2:6`.
It is not strange that John in vision fell down as dead at this glorious symbolical representation of Christ. John may be considered as a representative of the Lord's consecrated ones, who in his presence feel their own deadness. Upon all such he places his hand (his power), and to them gives his message, "Fear not, I am the first and last, I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and have the keys of hell and of death."--`Vss. 17,18`.
Not all, but only those who fall as dead before the Lord, who recognize their own nothingness, who, in the language of this symbolical book, are beheaded, or lose their own wills, accepting the will of the Lord instead (`Rev. 20:4`)--these alone are ever able to fully receive this message from the Lord appreciatively. From these fear is cast out; and they alone may know that our Lord was the first-born of all creation, and the last; that he was the beginning of Jehovah's work, and the end of it, and that all beings and things were made by or through him, and that "without him was not one thing made that was made." (`John 1:3`.) These also may know, fully appreciate, understand, that the Lord now liveth, and in order to appreciate this they must understand that he was dead for parts of three days-- not merely apparently dead, but actually dead--his soul poured out unto death, made an offering for sin. --`Isa. 53:10-12`.
For these also is the wonderful message that this Redeemer, now glorified, has all power in respect to our race--the keys, the authority, the control, not only of hades (the great prison house of death), but also the power or control over death in its every degree; so that it is his privilege to raise up so many as will obey him out of the degradation and imperfection of this dying condition, up, up, up, to perfection of life, where death will have no power. These may know, also, that the time for the exercise of this power by the Redeemer is nigh at hand, and that the privilege of deliverance from the tomb and from death into the full liberty of the sons of God, into abundance of life and freedom from the bondage of corruption, will be extended to every creature of Adam's race.
But to others this message is dark and meaningless or worse. Misled by error they believe that Jesus was not really dead, but fully alive always; mistaught that death holds no one, but all are alive in either bliss or torment, they see no force, beauty or significance in the key and its power; and thinking of hell (hades) as a torture chamber, filled with devils and their victims, they feel as tho the unlocking of its portals would be undesirable. Surely, all of the favored ones may say, "Blessed are our eyes for they see, and our ears for they hear!"
John was instructed to write, to make clear, to make plain to us and to all of God's people, the things already brought to his attention, and other things subsequently to be brought to his attention; to the intent that all of God's people might be enabled to comprehend with all saints the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God, which passeth all understanding, and which can only be received through revelation from God. And here let us note the force of John's expression (`vs. 3`) to the effect that there is a blessing upon those who read this revelation, even tho they do not understand, and a special blessing upon those who hear and understand the words of this prophecy, and keep or conform their lives to the things that are written therein.
*See page 210 A TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR.
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DISCOURAGEMENTS AND ENCOURAGEMENTS.
NONE are so strong as not to need encouragements in the present time, when all who would be of the "Royal Priesthood" are required to "walk by faith, and not by sight." We feel this frequently in the WATCH TOWER office, and know from your inquiries that all laborers in the Vineyard are on the lookout for fruits of their labors. You as well as we sometimes wonder that the hundreds of tons of literature and other efforts on behalf of the Truth, emanating from this office, do not yield larger results.
Recently, while feeling considerably discouraged that the "Volunteer Work" seemed to show small results, the Lord lifted the veil a little, and showed us that a greater work was in progress under the surface,
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than we could have surmised. And as this encouraged us, we now relate the same for the encouragement of our colaborers. First a Presbyterian minister called at our office and renewed his WATCH TOWER subscription and, expressing himself quite warmly in approval said: Go on, Brother Russell, a greater work is being done than you can possibly be aware of; I know it, because the ministers express themselves freely to me. The Truth is taking effect in every direction. Be of good courage.
This did encourage us, especially when we reflected that this very minister has never openly confessed the truth, so far as we know,--"for fear of the Jews." Shortly afterward, when at the Toledo Convention, a brother from Indiana encouraged us greatly by relating one of his experiences. He said, "I had finished distributing the 'Volunteer TOWER' in my town and wondered that I saw no fruit of my labors, when one day a young man came to my bakery and asked if I had not distributed WATCH TOWERS at the Methodist Church, and if I could not let him have some more of them. I asked what for? He replied that at a recent meeting of their Epworth League their new pastor brought up the subject of Hell, and made some remarks upon it, and then threw it open for discussion. Thereupon one after another, some five or six of the Leaguers, arose and disavowed their former belief in hell,--denying that the Bible taught it and giving reasons. The pastor arose in surprise, and inquired where they had gotten their ideas, and was told that they had read them in ZION'S WATCH TOWER. Others who had not received them, then wanted copies of the TOWER. Of course I supplied the young man gladly."
As a further encouragement for you all--as showing that the DAWNS and tracts are doing silent work --we mention that every now and then we hear from some who have been reading the DAWN, and studying the Bible with their assistance for years, yet somehow had never before written to us for further reading matter,
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nor to glorify God on behalf of the light they had received and were rejoicing in. We give below a letter just received which has greatly encouraged us along these lines. It shows, also, how the truth can take hold of the heart, at as early an age as ten years. It should encourage those who have charge of children to teach them the truth. The child mind is more logical often at ten, than later, when the sophistries of its elders confuse it, by teaching that death and destruction are synonymous with everlasting life in torment. Assist the children to a knowledge of the Lord and the truth, and encourage them to right views of life favorable to a full consecration to the Lord. The letter follows:
DEAR SIR:--I would begin with an apology if I were not sure you must be used to such letters by this time, and perhaps expect them from all deeply interested in the truth which you expound. I beg pardon beforehand if I am too tedious and diffuse. I will try to be as brief as possible. I was a very small child (10 years) when your publications were first introduced into our family, through the kindness of Mr. Henry Weber, of Oakland, who was then my brother's Sunday School teacher, and whose name I cannot mention without the sincerest gratitude.
I cannot say what drew my attention to your writings, they were never forced upon me in any way, but I have been an insatiable reader ever since I learned how, and when Food for Thinking Christians came in I devoured it with the avidity of a healthy, unspoiled appetite. I was then so little that I had never received any but the most general religious instruction. I do not remember to have read any doctrinal works or heard any doctrinal discussions, but since my earliest recollections I had been taught, and realized as by a natural instinct, that the first object in life is to be good and learn the will of God.
I would like to describe the impression your writings made upon me, but it would be egotistical waste of space, and perhaps seem overstrained, as I was so young. I only want you to know that from childhood I have been familiar with your interpretation of the Scriptures, and acknowledged it as truth. The TOWER has been a regular visitor to our home for so long that I think I have seen it in all its different dresses; and all the volumes of DAWN I have read and re-read many times. Of course, as I grew older, I no longer accepted statements implicitly. I am naturally a student and I have thought and questioned and investigated deeply about these things, but always with the result of being more firmly convinced of the correctness of the views I criticized.
In my tenth summer I made a voluntary dedication of myself to the Lord. I think it was an intelligent offering, certainly I have never since wished to recall it. The one object of my life is to make my calling and election sure. The only thing that seems of real importance to me is my success in this. Yet I am often very perplexed to know what is required of me, just now. The practice of the Christian graces, the necessary transformation of my own character to the image of the Son, is clear enough. I can work at that daily, with some evidence of success; for tho I am continually shocked at the roots of sin and folly I find in myself, yet for a long time I have been accustomed to look at all things from God's standpoint, approve what I think he approves, and condemn where he condemns, both in private affairs and in matters of the world.
So far, then, as the discipline of my own "new nature" is concerned, the way is plain, tho toilsome; but when I begin to look about me and ask, What part can I take in the present harvest work? everything is confused and I seem tied hand and foot. I read in the TOWER of other workers, but none seem situated as I am.
In my own circle of relatives and friends I have tried to be a witness for the truth, tho I am afraid a very feeble one. Timidity is a fatal besetment to me, and the reluctance to seem to think myself wiser than my elders and betters.
One terribly severe trial I was enabled to undergo last spring. I withdrew from the denomination I had joined at fourteen. You may wonder why I ever did join it; but I was so young and ignorant, I thought only of acknowledging my Christianity, and really had no realization of binding myself to a particular sect. There is no word of the Confirmation service that I could wish to retract, but I was determined no longer to call myself an Episcopalian, so requested to have my name erased from the list of membership.
The pastor was most kind and considerate. He remonstrated, but being convinced that I was acting
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conscientiously agreed to do as I demanded, and announced the withdrawal at the next meeting of the congregation. I scarcely know how I went through with that ordeal. It seemed at first as impossible to make myself so conspicuous and shock so many of my family and friends. For, of course, almost every body misunderstood. Except from sisters I have no sympathy and am quite alone. I know there are people in town who take the TOWER, but I do not know them.
Perhaps something may come about to change things in this respect. Several times when you have been in our city I have seen and heard you, but I could not go forward and introduce myself. I do not expect any special answer to this letter. I do not know what particular advice you could give me. But I thought perhaps I had done wrong in remaining entirely unknown and aloof, and that I ought to have some personal communication with the one to whose ministrations I owe so much.
Yours gratefully and respectfully,
EDNA MARY HAMMOND,--Maryland.
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BIBLE MARKINGS COMMENDED.
THOSE interested in Bible study appreciate everything which tends to give them a firmer hold upon the sword of the spirit, the Word of God. Such frequently wish that they could quickly find the particular passages desired; and many have been the devices for marginal marking designed to assist in this matter. We have a plan to suggest, as follows:--
USE RED INK for marking all passages which relate to the redemptive work, letting the figure 1 represent the thought of man's need of redemption, or of divine promises thereof. Use figure 2 to represent references to Christ's work in our redemption, as our sin-offering, etc. Use figure 3 to represent references to redemption as an accomplished fact--"ye were redeemed."
USE PURPLE INK for marking all passages relating to the Church as the "Royal Priesthood." Let figure 1 represent present sacrifices and joys of faith in coming glory; let figure 2 represent parables and promises of the Kingdom; figure 3, future glories and service in the Kingdom.
USE BLUE INK for marking exhortations of the Church to faithfulness, using figure 1 for references to graces of the spirit, and figure 2 for zeal in running the race set before us, figure 3 for reproofs and the "great company."
USE GREEN INK for representing Millennial blessings. Let figure 1 represent the Second Advent of the Great Restorer; let figure 2 represent Restitution promises, etc., and figure 3 the knowledge, judgments and instructions of the Millennium, and the restraint of evil then.
USE BLACK INK for representing Death: figure 1 for Adamic death, and figure 2 for Second Death.
The verse, or part of a verse, referred to may be indicated by a neat line, like a parenthesis, or a brace mark [(^^], in the appropriate color, followed by the proper figure. Follow, this if you please, with marks to indicate a treatise on this verse in any of the MILLENNIAL DAWN volumes, using A, B, C, D, E, F and G respectively, to indicate the seven volumes of the series (only five yet ready). Use T to represent Tabernacle Shadows, S for What Say the Scriptures About Spiritism? and H for What Say the Scriptures About Hell? Following the letter indicating the volume, put the number of the page. References to ZION'S WATCH TOWER can be Z, using two figures to represent the year, then a separating stroke followed by the page number.
In the margin alongside `Acts 3:20,21` we should place a brace line in green ink, then the figures 1, 2; under these we would put A89, 149; under that B173, 211, 254; under that put C243, D311, 615; next E24, 240, 418, 435; on next line Z'97-266.
BIBLES WITH WIDE MARGINS.
Realizing that such marking would require a wide margin, to do it satisfactorily, we have hesitated to mention it, knowing that wide-margin Bibles usually sell at from $4.50 upward at wholesale; because few are sold, and the expense of special editions, larger covers, etc., etc., is considerable. However, we finally concluded that we might get a favorable price on a large order, of say 2,000 copies. We have secured prices that astonish ourselves, and have selected what all will conclude is one of the finest editions of the Bible ever published. It is known as the "Linear Bible," because it shows, side by side, the variations between the Common and the Revised Versions. It has a very full analytical Concordance of 256 pages, 14 maps, and we will have added eighty photo-engravings, illustrating Palestine, etc., and a combined index of the Scriptures cited in the five volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN; another giving Scripture references in the WATCH TOWER from January, 1895 to July, 1901; and another Topical Index showing Scripture, DAWN and WATCH TOWER references under various heads, such as Ransom, Restitution, etc., etc.; and additionally there will be a margin of one inch blank alongside the Scripture text, for the markings above described.
We can have these superb books made to order so as to supply them at the following prices to our subscribers only, so as not to conflict with the publisher's interests; but we are not restricted as to the number of copies you may buy.
French Seal binding, linen lined, silk sewed, full divinity circuit, red under gold edges, etc., $1.50, postage 30 cents.
Persian Levant (morocco) binding, leather lined, silk sewed, full divinity circuit, red under gold edges, etc., $2.50, postage 30 cents.
We can obtain these special Bibles, at these special prices, only by ordering two thousand copies. We will do this provided a sufficient number of our readers approve the idea and send us word to this effect at once--by postal card. Say which grade you will want, and when ready due notice will be given in the TOWER columns;--probably not before July or August.