ZWT - 1913 - R5152 thru R5372 / R5338 (305) - October 15, 1913
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VOL. XXXIV OCTOBER 15 No. 20
A. D. 1913--A. M. 6042
Resume of the Ending of the Times of
Noah's Day Similar to the Present Day.........307
"Strong Man" Must Be Put Out..................308
Church Glorified Before Lease Expires.........308
The Present Outlook...........................308
Good Courage Required for Overcoming..............309
Different Kinds of Courage....................309
Courage Proportionate to Faith................310
Test of the Apostles and Its Lesson...............311
Trial and Victory in Gethsemane...............311
Patience a Cardinal Grace of Character............312
Purpose of Our Testing........................313
Fervency of Spirit Necessary to
Who Shall Be Able to Stand?...................314
God Buried Moses, His Servant.....................315
Israel Under a New Leader.........................317
Choosing Elders and Deacons.......................318
Some Interesting Letters..........................319
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
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CLASS DEPOTS FOR BIBLE STUDENTS
Some of the larger classes have found it very convenient to appoint one of their number as Literature stock Keeper. He is supplied from the local Treasury a sufficiency of money for such a stock of books as the class will probably use during a month or more. This he keeps under his charge, and supplies to anyone desiring literature at the same rate as though he himself ordered from Brooklyn or London. He also is usually given charge of the Volunteer matter, and special free literature, dealing with interesting subjects. From him, at meeting times, the class can supply themselves with literature, and thus often use much more than if they had been obliged to order from headquarters.
We recommend the plan as having some good features, and worthy of consideration by all classes.
We advise the selection of a brother or sister for this service who has some acquaintance with business, and, if possible, one who has access to a typewriter.
Keep a fair supply on hand. Order in good time, for express charges are much higher than freight rates--we should be economical in the use of the Lord's money. Supplies for "Pilgrim Meetings" should be ordered at least four to six weeks in advance, according to distance.
PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION
Unexpected difficulties have from time to time arisen hindering the presentation of the drama. Perhaps the Lord's time for it has not yet come. The present outlook for it is not favorable for public work before the first of the coming year.
We have on file the applications of those who desire to serve in this Department of the Harvest work. More applicants have already sent in their names than we shall probably be able to use for some time. Should more help be desired, mention of the same will be made in these columns.
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MORE ABOUT THE GREAT PYRAMID
Brother Morton Edgar has recently issued a very neat little book dealing with the Pyramid, and corresponding in size and shape to the Karatol and India paper STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. It is on India paper, cloth-bound, two shillings (fifty cents.) We are informed that it treats the passages of the Pyramid very critically and finds that many of the measurements are closely corroborative of the time features of the Divine Plan presented in the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. We are advised that it gives seven different corroborative proofs that the close of the year 1914--namely, about October, 1914--will mark the closing of the Times of the Gentiles, and the beginning of the Messianic Reign. Many of the dear friends are rejoicing in these corroborations.
Any desiring to procure these books can send their orders to our office, or directly to Morton Edgar, 224 W. Regent street, Glasgow, Scotland.
We wish still, however, to reiterate what we have said from the first respecting the date of the close of the Times of the Gentiles; namely, that the calculations as we presented them in Vol. II, STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, are the Truth to the best of our knowledge and belief. Nevertheless, there is enough uncertainty about the matter of chronology to make it a matter of faith rather than of positive knowledge. We remind our readers that our consecration to the Lord is not to October, 1914, nor to any other time except that mentioned by the Savior--"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."--`Rev. 2:10`.
"SCRIPTURE STUDIES"--POCKET EDITION
We have the Karatol edition of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES in stock, 25c. each, postpaid.
We have a new edition also on thin paper, red cloth binding, 35c. per volume--$2.00 per set of six, in neat cloth holder. The set with THE WATCH TOWER for one year, to any address, $2.65.
Colporteur rates the same as on our regular cloth bound edition.
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RESUME OF THE ENDING OF THE TIMES OF THE
WE THINK of October, 1914, as, in round numbers, the ending of the Gentile Times. As a matter of fact, however, the first day of October is not the end of the Jewish year, which varies at its closing, just as at its beginning. It is regulated by the moon, instead of the sun. The Jewish calendar can never depart from this fixed arrangement of regulation by the moon. The date 1914 is not an arbitrary date; it is merely what the chronology of the Scriptures seems to teach. We have never said positively that the Scriptures do so teach--that the Jewish favor will begin exactly at that time, or that the Gentile Times will end exactly at that time.
We say that according to the best chronological reckoning of which we are capable, it is approximately that time--whether it be October, 1914, or later. Without dogmatizing, we are looking for certain events: (1) The termination of the Gentile Times--Gentile supremacy in the world--and (2) For the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom in the world. The kingdoms of earth will come to an end, and "the God of Heaven will set up a Kingdom." (`Daniel 2:44`.) The Scriptures do not say that the trouble will come in an hour, or in one day, or in one year. The intimation is that the catastrophe coming upon our civilization will be a very sudden one. (`Revelation 18:8,10,17,21`; `I Thessalonians 5:3`.) But it will be very sudden if it comes within twelve months. The Flood required many days to come, and many days to assuage.
NOAH'S DAY SIMILAR TO THE PRESENT TIME
Our thought in connection with the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom is that there is a similarity between the ending of "The world that then was," and the ending of this Gospel Age. It is not our thought that the events associated with the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom will all be momentary, instantaneous--in a literal hour, or day; rather, we are to expect that it is to be a gradually increasing trouble. It is to be a culmination of trouble-- "such as never was since there was a nation."
Then it will take a certain time for the bringing in of God's favor--the peace, the blessing. It will be some little time before this peace will be developed, as represented by the dove's returning to the ark, unable to find rest for its foot. The dove was again sent forth, and this time it returned with an olive twig, indicating that the blessing of the Lord was bringing about vegetation again. Thus Noah knew that the waters were considerably abated. We do not undertake to say that the trouble will all be over in a year; but, with the kind of trouble that the Bible seems to picture to our minds, we cannot see how it could last more than a year, and yet any of mankind be left alive. There would be no flesh saved--all would be destroyed. The Lord intimates that unless these days be shortened such would be the fact.--`Matthew 24:22`.
LIGHT FROM THE PROPHECY
The Elect will constitute the Kingdom before that time. On the Divine plane they will then begin the work of blessing and Restitution; and this will have the effect of bringing the strife and trouble in the world to an end. Thus the difficulties will not be so prolonged. The olive branch will sprout, the dove will find a resting place, and the New Dispensation will be fully inaugurated.
When we look through the prophecies relating to the Times of the Gentiles, we find that there are two promises --one appertaining to the Jews and the other to the world. During this period of 2,520 years, known as the Times of the Gentiles, the Jew was to have more or less tribulation from the Gentiles. He was not to be free--he would be more or less under subjection to the "Powers that be." At the close of this period the Church will be glorified. The Kingdom will not be established until that time. At the end of the Gentile Times Messiah will appear and set up His Kingdom.
Referring to the last king of Israel, Zedekiah, we read, "Thou profane, and wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end; thus saith the Lord God, Remove the diadem and take off the crown; ...I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it to Him." (`Ezekiel 21:25-27`.) If this period of overturning be rightly understood to be 2,520 years, it would seem to end with the Second Coming of Christ and the setting up of His Kingdom. The Gentile supremacy was to pass from nation to nation until the time of the establishment of Messiah's Kingdom. That would prove that the treading down of Jerusalem would then cease-- it would not continue after the end of these Gentile Times.
The lease, or permit, to govern the world was given to the Gentiles at the time it was taken away from the Jews in the days of Zedekiah--606 B. C. And during the 2,520 years in which the Jews were to have no government of their own, the Gentiles were to have the privilege of maintaining such governments as they could. One nation after another has tried to govern the world--first
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the Babylonian, then the Medo-Persian, then the Grecian, then the Roman--including Papal Rome--which was the fourth to attempt universal empire. We are waiting for the time to come when the government of the world will be turned over to Messiah. We cannot say that it may not be either October, 1914, or October, 1915. It is possible that we might be out of the correct reckoning on the subject a number of years. We cannot say with certainty. We do not know. It is a matter of faith, and not of knowledge. "We walk by faith, not by sight."
"STRONG MAN" MUST BE PUT OUT
But when these Gentile Times expire, we are not to expect that the transfer will come as a flash of lightning. For instance, about May 1, when it is moving day here in New York, the one whose lease has expired is to move out. Then the new tenant will move in. This requires a little time. So it will be with the great change now imminent. He who bought the world is going to take possession. The kingdoms of this world are going to move out. In the world, when moving day has arrived, some may say, It is time now to move. And they may move out in the morning of May 1. Some may have moved on the day previous. And there are some who may stay in until noon of the day of the expiration of the lease. Others, brazen in the matter, will say, This moving makes us a lot of trouble; and they make a great deal of fuss about moving; and when they go, they leave the house in bad order.
We rather think it will be so at the close of the Gentile lease of power. The putting out will not be done before the expiration of the lease. Suppose you were a landlord and your tenant were upstairs, and should refuse to get out. What would be done? You would have to get an officer to put him out. So the officer comes and puts him out, and sets all his things in the street. We think such a procedure is a picture of how the "Prince of the world," being slow to move out, will be put out--that he will have to be bound hand and foot. (`Matthew 12:29`.) We think there is going to be a great deal of trouble. But we shall know fully a little later.
"I will overturn, overturn, overturn it,...until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it Him." (`Ezekiel 21:27`.) The new King will not set up His Kingdom in a minute or an hour or a day. He has already come, and will take possession in due time. He is getting ready to take the House, and its present occupant is not quite sure as to whether he has to go out or not. We
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think he will have to be put out of the House. The Lord said that, if the strong man had known, he would have watched and not have allowed his house to be broken up.
CHURCH GLORIFIED BEFORE LEASE EXPIRES
As we understand this matter, the Church will be glorified before that time. When the lease expires, it would seem that the new tenants will be ready to take possession. And we cannot see how the new tenants could be ready to take possession unless they were glorified beforehand. If they were still in the flesh, they would not be ready to take possession. So if the Church is here in 1915, we shall think that we have made some mistake. We do not understand how they will all die between now and the close of 1914--how so many people, all over the world--people of one mind--will all pass beyond the veil in so short a time.
But we can see how the Lord might purposely leave us in a measure of ignorance in this matter. We do not know positively that the month of October, 1914, will see the Church all glorified, and the time of trouble ushered in. We merely say, Here are the evidences. Here are the proofs. Look at them for yourself and see what you then think. It is for each to accept or reject the facts. (See STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. II.)
So far as we can reason, this chronology is reasonably correct--a good basis for faith. "We walk by faith, and not by sight." God did not tell us that we should know the exact hour. But we have certain valuable information, and events seem to be fulfilling our expectations more and more as the days go by.
THE PRESENT OUTLOOK
When we began to publish information respecting these dates and began to describe what was to be expected in the near future--the fulfilling of Revelation 12 and 13, for instance--there was no sign of such things. We pointed out that there would be a Federation of Churches, a general union of all Protestants, and that the Catholics would not unite with them. And at that time nothing seemed less likely than that the Protestants would all unite. Years before, the Evangelical Alliance had been formed; but various denominations were urging that it was far better for these different denominations to exist. Competition is the life of business, they said, and was the life of the Church also. That was their argument.
Now, however, that sentiment has all gradually given way, and they are unifying. But, from politeness, they do not like to throw away the name, the door-plate, the coffin-plate, of the different sects; hence they hold on to the names. The Federation is coming nearer every week, every day. But it is true that we thought that the "fire would come down from heaven" much more rapidly than it has come.
The Federation is, however, not yet so well organized that it can do very much persecuting. In various cities it has hindered the publishing of the sermons in the newspapers. Some of the newspapers have been forced to give them up. This has been done by ministers going in a body to newspaper offices and saying, We will boycott your paper. Some editors have said, Go ahead and boycott! Other editors, however, have said, Well, we do not want to run against so many denominations. To these latter, this opposition movement looked large, because it represented so many ministers. These editors did not stop to think that comparatively few of the people think enough of these ministers, even to go to hear them preach on Sunday! But the preachers have been trying to exercise power--and are trying more and more.
The time is surely coming when every effort that we can put forth will be throttled. But we intend to keep pushing the door open at every step as long as we can. We are not going to lie down, are we? These conditions have been coming gradually--and are coming on time-- though not so rapidly as we were expecting. God's movements are usually very slow. But in this case we have expected something to come suddenly--something to indicate a very abrupt termination--an overturning of the present order of things. And we reason that, if this "Beast" is to have power (`Revelation 13:11-17`), it should be coming very soon.
Now, of course, all this can take place yet--it could easily be brought to pass, we see. There may be a temporary reign of prosperity, a co-operation with Catholicism. The Federation may continue to prosper for a year yet, and accomplish everything that they are to accomplish before October, 1914; and the fall of Babylon will follow shortly after that date. That is one of the things due to come to pass at that time.
Another thing we have been expecting is the return of the Jews to Palestine. There is more and more now
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being said about the Jews returning to Palestine, and more interest is being aroused in the matter. When we first began to draw attention to this subject of the return of the Jews to the Holy land, there was no movement at all of this kind. It has all come since. It has not as yet reached as great development as we might have expected, but it is coming. So when October, 1914, comes or October, 1915, or some other date (the Lord knoweth) and the Gentile Times terminate, it does not follow that there will be an outburst that will revolutionize the world, all in a day. But we believe that it will do so not very long thereafter.
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GOOD COURAGE REQUIRED FOR OVERCOMING
"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord."--`Psa. 31:24`.
THE Scriptures everywhere encourage the Lord's people to be full of faith, hope, confidence, trust. As we look out into the world we see particular reasons why this should be so. The majority of the world are full of fear, apprehension, distrust, worry. For this reason they fail to get the best out of the opportunities they have. They know of pitfalls of sin and trouble in different directions, and therefore they have reason to be distrustful, to be fearful.
But the Lord's people have come into special relationship with Him and He with them. He has assured them that He will have a supervision of their affairs, as would not have been their experience had they not come into relationship with Him. They are, therefore, to hope in the Lord, to trust in Him. They are to heed the things which He has said, and to take courage in the thought that their affairs are under His supervision.
God's people have stepped out from the world and joined the standard of the Lord Jesus Christ--the standard of righteousness, truth, holiness, opposition to sin and the Adversary. They will be beset by powerful enemies. Against them will be arrayed Satan himself, who will seek to oppose them, as he has opposed all of God's plans. He can make no direct attack upon the Lord, but he can attack His Plan and those who believe in God. He it is who instigated the riots, the tumults and the persecutions in the days of the Lord, and subsequently instigated the persecution of the Lord's people.
Satan has not done these things with His own personal touch, but through his deluded servants. He has ever opposed righteousness and all those who love righteousness. On this account the Lord's people need to have great courage; for if they allow the Adversary to beat their courage down, he will soon put them out of the battle entirely. A retreating soldier is of no more good than one who has not gone out to battle. Instead of losing courage we are to resign our earthly interests to our Father and trust Him that in the present life He will guide us, will overrule everything for good to those who are "the called according to His purpose."
Besides the Adversary, we have the general spirit of the world to oppose us. The world considers us foolish in thinking that we have any special Divine supervision-- that God loves us. They say to us, God has made all the worlds, the thousands of angels, etc. Do you imagine that He has any special interest in you? They tell us that if there is a God, He is so great and we so small that He cannot take any notice of us. Thus they would beat our faith down. And this is the sentiment of the world, even when it is not expressed. And whenever we come in contact with worldly people we find, as it were, a wet blanket thrown on our simple trust, even though they say not a word to us. We need to have good courage and to hope in the Lord, as our text enjoins.
Then, additionally, we have our own flesh. Each of us has in himself, in his own body, an opponent. The Scriptures represent that when we gave ourselves to the Lord and He gave us His Holy Spirit, we there passed through a transformation and became embryo spirit beings, the embryo having this mortal body in which to develop until the moment of resurrection, when we shall pass from the earthly to the Heavenly condition. "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."--`I Corinthians 15:42-44`.
But while we are in the flesh, we have all the motions of the flesh. We as New Creatures have disowned these. We have turned our backs upon sin. We have exchanged the earthly interests and hopes for the Heavenly interests and hopes. By our daily experiences the Lord is testing us. We must be on guard to overcome the flesh. It requires a great deal of courage to fight down the tendencies to sin. And it requires still more courage that, after battling
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with the weaknesses and frailties of the flesh, and conquering it, we should additionally force our human bodies to sacrifice, to abandon the earthly things, and to serve the Lord. It requires a great deal of courage; therefore we are of ourselves insufficient.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF COURAGE
But we are exhorted to put our trust in the Lord, and assured that we "can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth us." (`Phil. 4:13`.) His is a power sufficient for us. It requires all our courage, all our hope-- every helpful element that we can put into the fight--in order to bring about the most successful issue. But the Lord supplies sufficient grace so that we may be overcomers. This does not mean that any one will live a perfect life; and he may not fully exercise this good courage. He may make partial failures from time to time. But our Lord is leading us on, and we learn valuable lessons from our failures.
Some, having stronger faith and hope, having their minds fully centered on the Lord, have gone forward courageously. This is called good courage in the sense of being strong courage, proper courage. We might also associate with our text the thought that this hope in the Lord is to be backed up by a good courage, a right kind of courage, a godly courage.
There is a courage that is born of pride, which would say: Do not back down. Do not let anybody get ahead of you. In a battle the soldiers will vie with one another, each having a desire to do something especially conspicuous, which will bring him the applause of his fellows. They need something to inspire them--desire for fame, love of country, music, etc.--in order to give them courage to run the risk of losing their own lives, or to take the lives of other human beings. And this is the kind of courage that will help them to gain the victory in their battle, even though it be an unworthy motive for inspiring courage.
But a courage from right principles, based on faith in the Lord, is not one of bragadocio, but a courage that is noble and pleasing to God. It has its source in a realization that God has promised, and that God is watching, and desires us to be joint-heirs with His Son in His
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Kingdom. He is merely testing us to see whether we will prove faithful. And this courage with us must also be to do things in the right way.
THE EXHORTATION APPLIES TO ALL STATIONS
This exhortation affects us in everything in life, whether we are in one station or another. It would apply to a king on his throne--that he should be courageous enough to do the right thing--the thing understood to be the Lord's will. Such courage would say to us, Do your duty, whatever may be the Lord's will for you. Hope in the Lord, even though your motive will be misunderstood. We should have the good courage to stand for what is right, whether our reward be in this life or in that life which is to come.
This exhortation is for the business man who is a Christian. His worldly friends may say, You will fail in your business. You cannot advertise your business. If you tell the truth, the people will not patronize you; they will go to a place where a host of lies will be told them. If he takes their advice, he will do a larger business, but he will make a failure of the chief affair of his life, he will lose the great Prize.
It will apply to workingmen--that they may advocate right principles, and be not faint-hearted and fearful to express the truth. This does not mean that a man should be cantankerous and take a different view of every question from that of others, but that, after conceding every point that may be yielded with wisdom, where there is a principle at stake he should take his stand and say, My thought is thus and so, and I shall be obliged to maintain my position. However, I recognize that each of you has a duty to perform according to his own conscience; and I will content myself with doing what I feel is my duty, not wishing to coerce the remainder of you. But at any cost I will be faithful to principle. I hope that you will not misunderstand me, and think that I am trying to oppose you and to turn the matter my way. I have my rights and my conscience, and you have yours. I am merely telling you what I must do according to my judgment and my conscience. You must do what you think right according to your judgment and conscience.
Thus even those who would think differently would know that the one speaking to them had a conviction, and that he was of good courage. This would apply to the humblest walk in life--to a day laborer, or to a washer-woman --any person.
COURAGE PROPORTIONATE TO FAITH
There are trials and difficulties in the life of each one, great and small. The right kind of courage finds an opportunity to exercise itself in each of God's children. And this is what the Lord is looking for. He is looking for this kind of courage, a courage such as must be found in overcomers. It is only to overcomers that any place will be granted in the Kingdom. Whoever has not good courage will not be in the Kingdom at all. Hence the lesson of our text is, BE OF GOOD COURAGE; for this is the way in which we shall demonstrate our faith in the Lord. He who hopes in the Lord and is loyal to the Lord will be courageous in proportion to his loyalty and his faith.
This kind of courage will stand by us in all circumstances. For instance, our Lord in addressing His disciples on one occasion said, "Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake;...take no thought [beforehand] how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak." (`Matt. 10:18,19`.) The Lord's people, whatever circumstances may arise, will have such faith and trust in God that they will conduct themselves courageously, relying on God's power. The Greek here seems to give the thought: Do not be worried when you shall be brought before kings and judges.
The way in which God will give us a mouth and wisdom may vary according to circumstances--perhaps by suggestions from another; perhaps in the hearing of the testimony of some one else; or it may be that a text of Scripture that would be especially helpful would come to our mind. But the thought is that our trust is in the Lord, and that we are not to be in fear and trembling.
The Lord addressed these words to His disciples--the ignorant and unlearned. For them to be brought before kings and magistrates and judges would naturally cause them much apprehension. What should they say? How could they answer those men--those great, learned men! They were very humble, and they realized their ignorance; but the Lord guided them. Education was much less general then than now. Today, practically all are educated to some extent. The assurance of the Lord would, therefore, apply less forcefully to us today, than it would to the disciples then living.
But if we are in any straits, any difficulties, we are to remember that the Scriptures assure us that "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear [reverence] Him, and delivereth them." (`Psa. 34:7`.) This thought should tend to make us cool and collected in our minds, and should enable us to conduct ourselves courageously, feeling ourselves in this close relationship with Him, and having the confidence that this thought would give us. Furthermore, we realize that we are not wise enough to know just what God's purposes respecting us may be. We know not, therefore, just how the Lord may prefer to have this or that matter eventuate.
"FAITH CAN FIRMLY TRUST HIM"
The early disciples, thinking of Jesus and what He had said to them, thought: Jesus is certainly a good man; God would not allow any disaster to befall Him. Thus they pondered, as they thought of the things that Jesus had predicted for Himself. St. Peter said to Him, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!" (`Matt. 16:16`.) And they thought, How could God allow any harm to come to Him? So the disciples concluded that these things He had said must be figures of speech, just as when He said, "You must eat My flesh" and "drink My blood." So now when He said that the Son of Man would be crucified, they thought it was one of His peculiar sayings that they could not understand.
Hence they were quite perturbed, wondering and astonished, when He was arrested and taken before the Jewish Sanhedrin, and when, instead of using His powers and His eloquence, He was dumb, and allowed Himself to be contradicted and maligned. Then He was taken before Pilate. Now, the disciples thought, Jesus surely will not hesitate before him! Hence the surprise and astonishment of the disciples again when things turned out so contrary to what they had expected. But such a course on our Lord's part was necessary in the Heavenly Father's Plan, not merely for the Lord Jesus, that He might suffer and then enter into His glory, but necessary also for the world, because the redemption price must be laid down, must be in the hands of Justice.
We see that the Lord has declared that His people shall not be especially protected along earthly lines; and if in His Wisdom it is best in any way to bruise us and put us to shame, as was done with our Master, we are to be of good courage, and He will strengthen our hearts, because we trust in Him, we have confidence in Him. We know that He is too wise to err, and that there must
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be a motive, a reason for the permission, whatever it may be. We know assuredly that the saintly ones are precious in the sight of the Lord--are as the apple of His eye; and thus we know that all things are working together for good to us.
So we do not necessarily anticipate that a certain form of words will be given to us, before either judges or princes. We are not necessarily free from worldly condemnation. We are to remember that these words of the Master were applicable to our Lord Himself and to the Apostles; that Jesus was condemned and crucified; that the Apostles were condemned and were put into prison and received stripes on several occasions. And later most of them were killed.
Whatever may be the outcome of any matter to us, we are to accept it as from the Lord, whether we are able to discern the reason for it or not. We are to have faith and hope, even though the way is rough, and even though things might seem to be the very reverse of what we expected. "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord."-- `Psalm 27:14`.
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TEST OF THE APOSTLES AND ITS LESSON
"Watch and pray, lest ye enter
into temptation."--`Mark 14:38`.
WE RECOGNIZE these as words spoken by the Master in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night in which He was betrayed. They were addressed especially, and with much force, to the eleven Apostles who were with Him, and more particularly to the three whom He had called apart to be a little nearer to Him, as He went a little further on in the Garden to pray. The Master seemed to realize that wonderful events were to take place that night. But the Apostles did not grasp the situation. Their ears were dull of hearing. They were not without loyalty--it was not a matter of indifference with them, but they did not comprehend.
We are to remember that at this time the Apostles were not begotten of the Holy Spirit, and could not, therefore, so fully watch with the Lord and pray with Him as if they had been spiritually enlightened. Jesus had told them that He would be crucified, but they had taken this statement as one of His dark sayings. They had heard very many of the parables which He had given to the people, which they were not able to understand. He had told them that when the Holy Spirit should come it would guide them into all Truth and show them things to come.
Amongst those dark sayings Jesus had told them that He was the Bread that come down from Heaven. This they did not understand, nor how He was like unto the Manna of olden times; neither did they understand how the eating of this Bread would give them life. These things had been so mysterious that they could not accept them, and, as a result, many of those once interested fell away from Him. They said, How could the whole world eat His flesh or drink His blood?--it is ridiculous! So they walked no more with Him. But the Apostles and a few hundred brethren continued to have faith in Him. They said, There is some deep meaning in His words, and some hidden reason for His strange course; perhaps, as Jesus says, we shall in time understand. We see so many evidences that He is the Son of God that we must not stumble over these things. Thus they continued to believe in Him, and to hold these obscure statements in abeyance in their minds.
IMPULSIVE PETER'S MISTAKE
So, when Jesus told them that the Son of Man must go up to Jerusalem, and that the Jews would crucify Him, and that the third day He would rise again from the dead, they could not understand. He had already intimated that all the glorious promises referring to Messiah were applicable to Him. How, then, could He be crucified? Accordingly Peter began to upbraid Him, saying, What strange things you speak! It shall not thus be done unto Thee. But Jesus said unto him, "Get thee behind Me, adversary; thou art an offense unto Me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."--`Matt. 16:23`.
Peter, of course, recognized the rebuke and knew that he had made a mistake. He had thought that some evil might happen to the Master, but no such thing as that He would be crucified. A few days before a multitude of people had cried, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" (`Matt. 21:9`.) There were a million or more Jews in Jerusalem who had hailed Him as King. Therefore the Apostles thought that the chief priests would not dare to do anything against Him. And now they had partaken of the Passover Supper, and Jesus had said to them that He desired to eat the Passover with them before He should suffer. Peter had declared that, though all should deny him, yet would he never deny his Master. Evidently Peter said to himself, What would there be to make me deny Him? I could not think of doing such a thing!
The disciples had thought that everything was propitious --so much so that Jesus found them disputing amongst themselves as to who would be the greatest in the Kingdom. And they had been so engrossed with these things they were discussing that they could not think of washing each other's feet. Then the Master and the Apostles had walked across the brook Kidron and to the Mt. of Olives. After they had entered the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus took Peter and James and John with Him and said, "Tarry ye here, while I go and pray yonder." Then He had returned to them, and finding them asleep had said, "Watch, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." But they could not think of any temptation into which they could enter in that peaceful spot.
TRIAL AND VICTORY IN GETHSEMANE
Jesus had agonizing experiences in the Garden. He was fearful lest in some way He might have violated the Law. He feared lest He had made some mistake and had not come up to the standard--the full requirements of the Father, in respect to the new life which He had begun. In such case His whole human life would be a failure, not for Himself only, but for the world of mankind whom He had come into the world to save from sin and death. After the Lord had passed through His trial-experiences in the Garden, God sent Him special help. An angel came and ministered unto Him. We do not know the nature of this help; but if we can read between the lines, the angel gave Him the assurance that He had fulfilled His part--He had rendered full obedience to the Father's will.
Just as soon as Jesus received this assurance, He became very calm. If He had the Father's favor, the Father's blessing, He could pass through any experience, no matter what it might be! Then he returned to His
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disciples intimating that He had gotten the victory. He was no longer in trouble. He had said, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death." But now confidence had come, in the assurance God had given Him. No longer would it be necessary to watch and pray, so far as He was concerned.
RESISTING TEMPTATION AUGMENTS STRENGTH
We note that to the disciples this exhortation was specially needful at that time. With such peculiar trials and testings before them, if they had been watching and praying to God for wisdom and grace, lest they should fall in their temptations--enter into them--they would have had help to resist them. They would have fallen into temptation the same, but they would not have entered into it. Temptations may be presented to us many times a day, and when they come we may be deceived and misled. But a temptation resisted makes us so much the stronger to resist the next. And so the Apostle James says that we are to "count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations." (`James 1:2`.) But no one could count a temptation a joy if, when it should come upon him, he would fall in it--enter into it.
St. Peter could never look back without regret to the moment when he denied his Master. If he had been watching and praying for guidance, he would have come off conqueror when Jesus was arraigned before the tribunal; he would not have thought of denying his Lord. He would have been stronger when the temptation came, and would have said, No, I will never deny the Lord! I will cast in my lot with Him! Afterward he might have said, I tell you, brethren, it was a tight place! But I am rejoicing that I fell into that temptation and was yet able to come off conqueror in that terrible hour!
But Satan was desiring to have him, to sift him out, as it were. If, after he had denied the Lord, Peter had said, I will not back down now, I will give the Lord up entirely, and pass right out! then he would indeed have lost everything. But, although he was caught in the temptation, he ultimately gained the victory. It was cock-crowing time, and Peter, hearing the cock crow, said to himself, There, that is just what Jesus said--that before the cock should crow I would deny Him thrice. So St. Peter went out and wept bitterly; and, after he had it out with God in tears and prayers, he started again in the good way. And so our entering into temptation may not mean our utter rout. But the more we resist temptation, not allowing it to overcome us, the stronger characters we will become.
TEXT NOW APPLICABLE IN A SPECIAL SENSE
The experiences of the disciples in connection with this text have been, in the broad sense of the word, applicable to all of God's people throughout this Gospel Age, but they are particularly so today. Now is the time for the Church to be specially on the alert, to be attentive, to fortify themselves against the wiles of the world, the flesh and the Adversary. As the poet Longfellow has expressed it,
"Be not like dumb, driven cattle;
Be a hero in the strife!"
We might be in the Lord's army and yet be like driven cattle. But we are to be intelligent. The Lord has given us an understanding of His Plan. In this we have at the present time an advantage over the Apostles, for they had not yet seen the great Divine Plan of the
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Ages and the significance of the sufferings of the Church. We have much advantage in this way. Jesus had explained to them about Himself: "Thus it behooveth the Son of Man to suffer and to enter into His glory." And He had opened the Scriptures to them as far as they were able to understand, and had indicated the necessity of His suffering. Still they could not clearly understand. But we have an advantage in that we know what the Lord's Plan is; and so the words of our Lord are more forceful in their application to us than to the early Church.
Let us be watchful, active, alert, and co-labor with God and with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to consider the offer made to us--the great High calling--the most wonderful thing ever known in all creation! We shall never have another opportunity of showing God and our Lord Jesus our zeal for righteousness and our earnestness of spirit. The present opportunity is a special one. God has made it possible for all of us, who are in harmony with Him, to grow in grace and in knowledge, and thus to be more intelligent in our service. And we are to pray in harmony with that intelligence.
What may be the character of the temptations which shall come upon us, we may not clearly discern in advance; for if we knew all about them beforehand, they would be but slight temptations and easily overcome. Watch, therefore, and pray always. The only safe way is to be always prepared; for our Adversary, the Devil, is seeking whom he may devour. He knows our weak points better even than we do, and is ever ready to take advantage of them. Each of us needs the Spirit of the Lord in his heart, as well as His "grace to help in time of need," if we would be overcomers. Our daily exhortation to self should be,
"My soul, be on thy guard,
Ten thousand foes arise;
The hosts of Sin are pressing hard
To draw thee from the prize."
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PATIENCE A CARDINAL GRACE OF CHARACTER
"Ye have need of patience [cheerful endurance], that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the [fulfilment of] the promise.--`Heb. 10:36`.
THE Apostle is addressing the Christian Church --You who have left the world, who have accepted Christ as your Standard-bearer, as well as your Redeemer, and who are seeking to walk in His steps, and have made consecration of your life to the Lord--"Ye have need of patience." To a certain extent you did the will of God when you made your consecration to be dead with Christ. But that will of God was more deeply impressed upon you when you began to realize more than at first what this sacrifice would mean, and that only those who suffer with Christ shall reign with Him.
"After you were illuminated" you saw the matter clearly, and "endured a great fight of afflictions." This was well. But St. Paul goes on to show in the context that some, after having demonstrated their zeal for a certain time, become cold. They become weary in well doing. And he tells us that these thus cut themselves off from the favors, privileges and blessings belonging to the Church of Christ. His exhortation is that those who are still loyal to God at heart continue so and exercise patience, remembering that this is one of the cardinal graces of Christian character. Many have naturally a little love, a little gentleness, a little patience, a little meekness, etc. But after we begin to grow in the graces of the Holy
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Spirit, we need patience to control the flesh, the spirit of the world, the spirit of selfishness.
The will of God is in one sense of the word the standard of God--full perfection--that we should be like our Father which is in Heaven. But God remembers that we are fallen creatures, and that we cannot do perfectly. Our text does not mean that we must do the will of God in the perfect and complete sense; but rather, as the Apostle elsewhere says, ours is a reasonable service. When we present our bodies living sacrifices to God, it is our reasonable service. God does not expect us to do that which is impossible.
THE PURPOSE OF OUR TESTING
What is this will of God? Stated in concrete form, "This is the will of God [concerning you], even your sanctification." (`I Thess. 4:3`.) As the Apostle teaches, consecration is a full and complete setting apart. If we do such a setting of ourselves apart at the beginning, then the Father sanctifies us--begets us as New Creatures, and sets us apart. So we have, first of all, our setting of ourselves apart; and then God's acceptance by our begetting of the Holy Spirit as New Creatures, and His continued work in us.
We are doing the will of God when we fully consecrate ourselves to Him, and attain a place in the New Creation. But He wills to put us to the test. How much do we love God? How sincere are we? A soldier in an army might be loyal in time of quiet, but how would he be in time of stress? Would he desert the flag then, or would he prove himself a good soldier? He would need a great deal of patience. If he says he loves his country, his endurance and faithfulness will be tested in her time of need. He must go on picket duty; he must sometimes do menial work. He must endure wearisome marches, and many privations. All these things are required of a faithful soldier. If he is faithful, he is likely to be promoted, honored, for his faithful service.
So we are tested as to our loyalty. What are we willing to endure for Christ's sake? How fully are we submitted? How deep does our submission go? Are we wholly in harmony with the will of the Lord? Is our interest merely superficial, or does it enter fully into our hearts? The question is not merely, Shall we make the consecration?--but after the Christian has taken all of these preliminary steps, to what extent will he manifest patient endurance and obedience and loyalty?
God puts us to these tests because He has great honors to bestow on those who will be overcomers. They are to be a select company, and these will receive the Promise. As the Apostle says, it is after we have proved our loyalty to the very last, that we shall receive the Promise; i.e., its fulfilment.
THE ESSENCE OF THE PROMISE
When, where, what is the Promise? Undoubtedly the promise will be received in the resurrection. The promise includes all that God has in reservation for them that love Him--that love Him more than they love houses and lands, or children, or parents, or friends, or husbands or wives, or self, or any other thing.
The particular promise that the Apostle refers to here is The Promise. All our hopes and blessings are centered in the original Promise made to Abraham, when God brought him out of the land of Chaldea into the land of Canaan. God promised Abraham that in His Seed should all the families of the earth be blessed. That has been the great Promise for encouragement to the Seed, to give them patience and fortitude. This is the essence of the Promise--that those who receive the Promise shall be the Seed of Abraham to bless the world. The faithful in Christ will be associated with Him in His Kingdom-- will have the honor of blessing all the families of the earth under this Kingdom. Every creature of God shall then be brought to a knowledge of His Truth, and shall have the opportunity of being restored, if he will, to perfection, to all that was redeemed on Calvary.
Now the opportunity is different. Now the selection is being made of those who will inherit the Promise as the Seed of Abraham. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed, and heirs according to the Promise." The Apostle is in our text urging that we continue to be Christ's and to abide in Him. All those who thus remain in Him to the end will be glorified with Him. In order to remain faithful, we must have His spirit of devotion.
NOTABLE EXAMPLES OF PATIENT ENDURANCE
St. James exhorts the Church saying, "Take, my brethren, the Prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience." Those whom the Apostle addressed already knew of the sufferings of Jesus. They already knew of the faithfulness of the Apostles. And now he was calling the attention of their minds to something additional. He is urging, Look back into the past, and see that patient endurance has been characteristic of all who have lived holy lives. These examples should be lessons of encouragement to us, in addition to those we have in the living brethren around us!
Then there is always something to be gained in casting the mind backward. The things close at hand are too near to be seen in their proper light. It was fitting that the Apostle should call attention to those faithful ones of the past, so that we might be encouraged to note what God desires. In those who are His, He desires a willingness to endure patiently and loyally, thus manifesting true character, that which greatly pleases Him.
As we look back over the Old Testament record of the Prophets, we notice that many of them displayed this very quality referred to by the Apostle as loyalty to the Lord, a willingness to suffer afflictions for His sake, and not as experiences brought through chance upon them by the people. We see Moses--how willing he was to suffer
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affliction because of his faith in the Promise made to Abraham and his conviction that the Promise would come true. He preferred to suffer with the people of God rather than to live at ease in the royal family of Pharaoh, into which he had been adopted.
We see in Job another example of patient endurance of tribulation and of strong opposition for a considerable time. We see the same in Jeremiah--how much his faithfulness cost him of hardship, and how patient he was. We see the same in Daniel the Prophet--his faithfulness to the Lord, his patient endurance of whatever God permitted to come against him. And so with others of the Prophets. And we read that their experiences were written for our admonition, our instruction. Although they belong to one Dispensation and we to another, yet their experiences furnish us good lessons.--`I Cor. 10:6,11`.
PERSONAL APPLICATION OF THESE LESSONS
Applying these lessons to ourselves, we may say that to whatever extent we may be privileged to speak the Word of God and to suffer persecution therefore, if we take it with patience, it will bring us a corresponding blessing and commendation from the Lord. But we cannot think it would be pleasing to Him if, when we suffer, we think, Oh, how terrible, terrible, terrible! Such an attitude would not be taking His Word for it, that "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,"
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and that all things shall work out for our good.-- `2 Tim. 3:12`; `Rom. 8:28`.
When Job was rich, prosperous, God tested him by taking from him all his family, all his wealth, his health, and even allowing his wife to turn against him. Yet in all this Job did not turn against God. He did indeed express wonder, but he looked to the Lord in faith and said, "Though worms shall destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." I shall yet receive the manifestation of His favor, and learn what He means by these experiences, these afflictions, coming upon me. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."--`Job 13:15`.
After his testings had been accomplished, God gave him back children, houses, lands, friends. And these coming in abundance shadowed forth the blessings of Restitution--how the tribulations of mankind will eventually work out for good to those who will love God. If those who are now suffering affliction because of their loyalty to the Lord, because of their trust in His arrangements, will take afflictions and trials joyfully, these will surely work out good to them--"a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
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FERVENCY OF SPIRIT NECESSARY TO OVERCOMING
"Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."--`Romans 12:11`.
THIS text might very properly be transposed to read: "In serving the Lord, be not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit." The primary thought, the central thought, is that the Lord is to be served, and on this account we are to be careful to learn what kind of service is acceptable.
We ask first, Why should the great Creator of all things, the Upholder of all things, need our service? And the Bible answers us that God needs no service whatever, that He is quite competent to carry out His own Plan, but that He is pleased to have the co-operation, the sympathy, of His own servants--not only of the human family, but also of the spiritual family--that God is not making an exhibition of His own power, but that all of His intelligent creatures are permitted to become more or less participants in the one Plan of which He is the Center.
This is particularly true of the earth. God permitted the Adversary to overturn things, and has permitted sin to have its course, in order to illustrate certain great principles that operate in the universe, according to certain laws. Whoever violates the principles of righteousness will have proportionately an unsatisfactory experience, as sin is contaminating and contagious. And so what might appear as God's inability to control sin and its evil influences will ultimately be seen from a different standpoint --illustrating His Justice, Wisdom, Power and Love.
As some great business firm might say, Now we do not need any capital, but we will hold the balance of stock, and allow some to go out amongst the employees, so that each one may be associated in the business--have an interest in the business; just so God makes use of capital, having plenty otherwise Himself. God therefore arranged the Plan just as it is.
In God's Plan, the Logos was to have the first opportunity of becoming man's Savior and of bringing everything earthly to a condition of full perfection. God so arranged the matter that it would require a death to redeem mankind. God could have imposed a different penalty. He could have put a penalty of ten years of disfavor, or what not, for the first act of disobedience. But He did not. He put the penalty of death. And then He made the proposition to the great Logos that if He would carry out His Plan of being the Redemption-price for Adam and his race, which would cost Him His life, He would be granted still greater honors.
So the Logos left the glory that He had with the Father and humbled Himself to become a man and to die, even the death of the cross. "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him." In this way our Lord Jesus was permitted to be a co-laborer with God. He was required to be faithful, zealous in spirit, fervent in spirit. And we read of Him, "The zeal of thine House hath consumed Me." He was to be self-sacrificing and not self-seeking.
The pictures of these things were given aforetime-- before He came into the world. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so should the Son of Man be lifted up, etc. It required a great deal of fervency of spirit to carry our Lord through all the bitter experiences of His earthly existence. He needed to have a great deal of faith in the Father and a great deal of devotion to the Father. And the fact that He overcame the difficulties shows that He had the faith and the fervency.
WHO SHALL BE ABLE TO STAND?
But our Heavenly Father's Plan is even broader than this. He planned that Jesus should have associates. And so the Apostle declares that God, who foreknew our Lord Jesus as the great Shepherd of the sheep, foreknew us also by Him--with Him. And if we partake of His sufferings in this present time, we shall also share with Him in the glories to follow. This was premeditated in God's Plan from before the foundation of the world.
This feature of the Plan began to operate at Pentecost. Those who had already believed in God as a Savior, and who had tendered their hearts to the Lord, could not be accepted until Jesus ascended up on High and made application of His merit for them--on behalf of all such. The Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost. Immediately they were privileged to begin a service for the Lord-- a service that was made necessary in God's arrangement. He could have done without this service, but He did not --He arranged to have this very service. He purposed that a witness should be given to the world, to gather out a people for His name, and that those who should give the witness should show their faithfulness in the trials and tests that would come to them.
The Father is seeking such to serve Him as serve Him in spirit and in Truth. Therefore He allows the way to be made narrow by the opposition of the Adversary, the flesh and the world, so that none but those who are fervent in spirit will stand the tests. Others will not enter this work, or will fall out by the way. They will say that it is too hard. If you are God's servant they will say all manner of evil about you. They will say that you are a hypocrite, etc. God does not cause the Adversary to do this, but He permits it, not because He is limited in Power and could not cause it to cease, but because He is testing all who would be followers of Jesus. And He wishes to have no others in that Elect company than those who are fervent in spirit. Therefore are there such services and such tests.
THE CAUSE OF OPPOSITION
The great business in life of those who would honor and serve the Lord is to serve the brethren and the Truth. Everything that represents the Truth these
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soldiers of the cross are to uphold--everything that is right, just, true. They will give their approval to such things and their disapproval to other things. This is what causes the opposition of the flesh and of the world and of the Adversary.
So, then, Christians have become dead to the world and alive toward God. Having thus been received and counted in as a member of Christ, every such one has as his special business the service of the Lord, the brethren and the Truth. And according to his abilities and opportunities is he to engage in this business. And this is to be his mind or disposition--to serve the Lord. And he is to be fervent in spirit, not indifferent, not lukewarm. As the Lord Jesus was fervent in spirit, even so are we to be. The fervency of His spirit for God and His arrangements consumed His life. So it must be with all those who serve God--those who walk in the Master's footsteps. This must be, necessarily, the chief business in life for these people of God.
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HOW TO REDEEM THE TIME
It is necessary for us to engage in some kind of occupation in order to secure a livelihood. God has so arranged in order to prove our faithfulness. Further, as other people are engaged in these same occupations, laboring for the comforts of life, we are compelled to compete with these to some extent. But as we see that we have a nobler business, we shall see to it that all these secular things in life are cut off, as far as possible, in order that we may have the more time for the Lord's service. The old ambition to gain earthly things would lead us to lay up treasures on earth. But the hope set before us in the Gospel leads us rather to lay up treasures in Heaven, "where moth doth not corrupt," etc.
So this class do with as few luxuries in life as possible, in order that they may lay down their time and strength in His service. And the more they do this, the more they become copies of God's dear Son. Thus, if any one is engaged in the carpenter business--the same in which our Lord engaged when He was a youth--he will say, How can I minimize the affairs of life so that I can give more of my time to the Lord and less to earthly matters? And so it will be his endeavor to cut off the desire for earthly luxuries. More and more he will count the affairs of this life as loss and dross in comparison with the glory of the life beyond.
In proportion, therefore, as we imbibe the Truth, in that same proportion will be our desire to be fervent in spirit--in that same proportion we shall be striving to sacrifice, to cut off, to devote to the Lord this time and talent and energy. We do not think that the Lord would wish us to be too particular regarding earthly things and waste valuable time. For instance, we might say, I will keep this house as unto the Lord. And we might give too much of our time and attention to different matters about the house. But the Lord is inviting us to choose the better part and not to give too much time and attention to procuring and caring for ornaments and bric-a-brac. Whoever would give too much time to the housework or to other earthly affairs would show that he did not appreciate the privilege of the Lord's service.
When we look about us, we find that all men need so much and the Household of Faith need so much. "What do they need?" They need the Truth. "Is the Truth, then, to go now to the world?" Yes, to all who have the hearing ear. There is a satisfaction and a blessing in having the mind properly sustained. We would rather be without all the luxuries of life, and have this Truth. We would rather suffer the loss of everything else than suffer the loss of our being.
If everything else in life were taken from us, and we were without a penny in the world, we would still be rich toward God if we had the Truth. And so we all are needy in respect to this intelligence, this knowledge. When we perceive this, how could we be indifferent to the telling forth of the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light! So, then, God has so arranged this matter that all those who believe and become children of God may have a share with Him in His great work. And since we know these things, they become a test of our loyalty and our love. And the Lord seeing or not seeing this character in us will determine whether or not we shall be associated in the honorable work on the other side of the veil.
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GOD BURIED MOSES, HIS SERVANT
--NOVEMBER 16.--`DEUTERONOMY 34:1-12`.--
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."--`Psalm 116:15`.
MOSES is one of the grand characters on the pages of history. His nobility looms up as a great patriot, general, judge and ruler of his people; and still more grand does he appear in his relationship toward God. He was the personification of obedience and loyalty as a servant of Jehovah. In this he typifies the "greater than Moses," Messiah. As we read, "A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up from amongst your brethren like unto me" (`Deuteronomy 18:15`)--I am a diminutive picture or representation of that great Teacher, Leader and King whom Jehovah will anoint to be the real Deliverer of Israel and the world from the bondage of Satan, sin and death.--`Hebrews 2:14,15`.
Any one may discern something of the greatness of Moses from the records. Any one may perceive that it required great patriotism to forsake the courts of Pharaoh to cast in his lot with his brethren, the Jewish nation, and to become their leader out of bondage to the Land of Promise. Any one can note the patriotism of the man when, as mediator for his people, he pleaded with God for the forgiveness of their trespasses, declining the proposal that the nation be cut off and that he and his family inherit the promises instead. Any one can see that great faith in God was necessary for the position occupied by Moses. But only comparatively few see the real depths of Moses' character; for only a few grasp the real situation and realize the Divine call to the nation of Israel and the work of Moses as their mediator.
MOSES, THE SERVANT OF GOD
We cannot help feeling sympathetic toward this grand servant of God--"the meekest man in all the earth"--in respect to the particular cause which, as a penalty, barred him from entering Canaan with his people and made him, in a typical way, a representative of those who die the Second Death. After so many years of patience and longsuffering and loyalty to God, in an unguarded moment Israel's great mediator failed in meekness and in loyalty. Directed by the Lord to speak to the rock, which on a previous occasion he had smitten, Moses petulantly smote the rock the second time, saying to the people, "Ye rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?"
The rock whence came the life-giving stream represented
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the Rock of Ages--Messiah, who was to be smitten once more. Compare `Hebrews 6:6`.
The fact that Moses was used as a type of the Second Death class in no sense implies that he experienced the Second Death, nor that he cut himself off from Divine favor. The punishment which he received merely helped to complete the typical picture--he might not enter Canaan--he might not enter the Promised Land.
CANAAN VIEWED FROM MT. PISGAH
Pisgah is one of the peaks of Mount Nebo. From it Moses got a considerable glimpse of the Promised Land, toward which his eye of faith had looked for eighty years and toward which he had laboriously guided the nation of Israel for forty years. This grand old servant of God, fully resigned to the Divine will and arrangement, was put to sleep by the Lord whom he served. The Jews have a saying that the Lord kissed him there. His place of sepulchre was hidden--doubtless to prevent anything of the spirit of idolatry. The New Testament declares that Satan strove for possession of the body of Moses, doubtless with a view to using it in some idolatrous way, but Jehovah forbade.
MOSES DIED AND WAS BURIED
We are not to overlook the fact that Moses died, and that he will not live again until the Divinely-appointed time when, under Messiah's Kingdom, he will be resurrected. Meantime he has slept with his fathers, as the Bible generally records of all who died.
The account of the transfiguration of our Lord and the appearance of Moses and Elias with Him in that vision must not be made to contradict the statement that Moses died, and that the only hope for anybody is by a resurrection from the dead. (`I Cor. 15:13,14`.) We have Jesus' own word for it that neither Moses nor Elias went to Heaven. He declared, "No man hath ascended up to Heaven." (`John 3:13`.) Jesus explained that what the disciples saw on the mountain was not a reality, but a vision--just as the trumpets, beasts, etc., of Revelation are not realities, but visions. "Tell the vision to no man." (`Matthew 17:9`.) St. Peter, who witnessed the vision, declares that it was a representation of Messiah's Kingdom. (`2 Peter 1:16-18`.) Moses represented one class and Elijah another, as participators with Jesus in His Messianic glory--in the Kingdom which is to bless the world, the Kingdom which, established on earth, will quickly correct wrong and effect the accomplishment of God's will as completely as it is done in Heaven.
GOD'S PROMISE TO ABRAHAM
At the foundation of all of God's dealings with Natural Israel and with Spiritual Israel lies His great Promise made to Abraham and bound with an oath--"In thee and in thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
God purposed from the very beginning that the curse of death should not be an everlasting curse on the race. From the beginning He purposed in Himself the healing of sickness, sorrow and pain, and that the time would come when He would roll away the curse. From the beginning He premeditated sending the Lamb of God, who by redeeming the world should take away its sin, lift the curse and bring in a blessing to mankind in its stead. Yet the first clear statement of this Divine purpose was made to Abraham--that himself and his posterity should be associated with God in the great work of human uplift and blessing.
Although God knew that no member of the human family could perfectly keep the Divine Law, nevertheless it was expedient that this matter should be exemplified. Hence, before God was ready to bring in the Messianic blessing, He made a proposition to Abraham's posterity through Jacob--suggesting to them that if they would show their loyalty by keeping the Divine Law God would be ready to use them as the promised Seed of Abraham for the blessing of all nations. Israel's sixteen centuries of endeavor under the Law are summed up by St. Paul, saying, "By the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified in God's sight."--`Romans 3:20`.
PREPARATION OF THE SEED
This led up to Messiah's time. The Logos, by virtue of a special birth, became Jesus and sacrificially laid down His life, in harmony with Divine foreknowledge. To Him were gathered such of the natural Israelites as were saintly at heart, to be His disciples--to share in His sufferings
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and death and to be made partakers of His glory and exaltation to the Divine nature. These Elect, or select, ones are with Jesus to constitute the antitypical Moses. To this end they were called, or raised up from amongst their brethren, as Moses prophesied. Not enough of such "Israelites indeed" being found, Divine Wisdom has been calling and selecting others throughout this Age from amongst the Gentiles--from every kindred, nation, people and tongue.
Thus gradually God has been preparing the great Prophet, Priest, King and Judge, who during the thousand years of Messiah's Kingdom will be the Mediator between God and all who desire to draw near to Him and to receive His blessing. These will be related to the repentant world as the priests of Israel were related to their nation; but their work will be efficacious, and not a failure, because based upon the "better sacrifices" for sins (`Heb. 9:23`), and therefore backed by Divine Power in the forgiveness of sins and the deliverance of the willing and obedient out of bondage to sin and death into the glorious liberty of the children of God. This grand antitype is before us and will, we believe, soon have its glorious accomplishment.
The Messiah whom God is thus preparing, composed of Jesus the Head and all the Elect of Israel and of the whole world, the Body of Messiah, will, like the type, be very faithful, loyal, patriotic toward God and toward the people. Indeed, it is one of the tests of these that they shall be willing to lay down their lives for the brethren and be faithful to the principles of the Divine character even unto death.
MOSES' MESSAGE TO ISRAEL
The Book of Deuteronomy may in a general sense be said to be the dying message of Moses to Israel. It is supposed to have been uttered within a few days of his death.
The first address begins with `Chapter 1:6` and concludes with `Chapter 4:40`.
The second address begins with `Chapter 5` and extends to the end of `Chapter 26`.
Third address, `Chapters 27`, `28`.
Fourth address, Ratification of the Covenant, `Chapters 29` and `30`.
Joshua appointed to be the successor of Moses, `Chapter 31:1-8`.
The Song of Moses, `Chapter 32`--"The Rock of Israel" --delivered on the very day in which his summons came.
The Blessing of the Tribes, `Chapter 33`, on the same day.
The tenor of these addresses was hope toward God, faith in the promises and loyalty to their Covenant engagements.
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ISRAEL UNDER A NEW LEADER
--NOVEMBER 23.--`JOSHUA 1:1-9`.--
"Be strong and of a good courage."--`V.9`.
ISRAEL spent thirty days in mourning for their great leader, Moses, yet with one accord accepted Joshua as their new leader by Divine appointment through Moses. Like other Bible heroes, Joshua was renowned for his faith and his loyalty to God. At the time of taking Moses' place he was in his eighty-third year, yet full of vigor, and evidently the best qualified man for the position. He and Caleb only had been of mature years when the Israelites left Egypt. They only had been witnesses of God's marvelous dealings with His people. They two had been the spies who brought an encouraging report of Canaan, which the people refused and on account of which refusal the adults died during the succeeding forty years of wilderness journeying.
The fact that Moses was vigorous at one hundred and twenty, and Joshua at eighty-three, speaks loudly to us in confirmation of the Bible's teaching that Adam was created perfect, and that the entire race has since been fallen in sin and death--sharing Adam's penalty, "Dying, thou shalt die." The intelligence of these men, as well as their vigor, quite contradict the Evolution theory; for this very Joshua had been one of the slaves in Egypt.
ISRAEL'S REAL LEADER--GOD
Not for a moment are we to lose sight of the fact that God had adopted the nation of Israel and entered into a special Covenant with them; and that, therefore, He was their real Captain and Leader--Moses, Joshua and others being merely His representatives and mouthpieces. We have already referred to the reasons for the adoption of Israel by the Almighty, and in a subsequent lesson will consider them more fully.
THE NEW LEADER'S NAME
Joshua's name was originally Hoshea, the same as that of the Prophet Hosea, signifying salvation. To this was prefixed (`Numbers 13:16`) Je, an abbreviation representing the word Jehovah. Thus the name became Jehoshua, signifying Jehovah's salvation. This was shortened to Joshua and Jeshua. (`Nehemiah 8:17`.) The Greek form of this word in the Septuagint is Jesous--Jesus.
For twenty-seven years Joshua was the leader of Israel, faithful to God and to the people. He not only led them through Jordan and directed in the conquering of city after city, but he divided the land amongst the tribes and governed the people with great acceptance, dying at the age of one hundred and ten.
It would not do for us to contrast Joshua with Moses as a leader; for they were men of totally different types. Indeed, any one contrasted with Moses would be disadvantaged, so high did that great statesman tower above the average of humanity then or since. But while Joshua could not be Moses, the leader, commander, law-giver, he was faithful as a follower of Moses, as one who obeyed the Divine Law, and whose faith and influence with the people were helpful to them. He was just what God wished him to be, and whoever is worthy of such a testimony is truly great.
The Lord's command to Joshua was, "Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel....There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee nor forsake thee....Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest."
THE LAND OF PROMISE
That Joshua and Israel in conquering Canaan should take forcible possession of it is called in question by some. They ask, By what right might one branch of the human family destroy another and seize their land? Where is the justice of such a course, not to mention the absence of love? How could the Golden Rule be applied to such a course--do unto others as you would be done by?
There is but one answer to this query; and, rightfully seen, it is a satisfactory answer. The Lord declares that the earth is His, that He gave it to the children of men, as represented by Father Adam. (`Psalm 115:16`.) But the gift was conditioned upon obedience and loyalty-- disobedience, disloyalty, being punishable by death. Adam incurred this penalty; and his children, under the laws of heredity, shared it with him, because born in sin and shapen in iniquity. Thus all human right in the earth was abrogated by the death sentence upon the sinner.
God purposed in Himself the recovery of Adam and his family from the curse of death--through Messiah-- through His death and by the power of His Messianic Kingdom, not yet established. In preparation for these blessings to come, God laid hold upon the nation of Israel and blessed them by making a Covenant with them. Although they could not fulfil the terms of the Covenant and obtain the choicest blessing of God, nevertheless the Israelites were greatly blessed by their Law Covenant, and many of them were fitted and prepared by it for cooperation with Messiah in His Kingdom in due time. Meantime, the experiences of Israel were overruled by the Almighty, to make of them types and symbols illustrative of the Divine Plan as it will be finally outworked on a higher plane.--`I Corinthians 10:11`.
In carrying out this arrangement with Israel, God promised them and gave them Palestine. He explained to them, nevertheless, that this gift was not because of their worthiness, but because of His favor toward them in pursuit of His own great plans previously outlined to Abraham. He further explained that the people of Canaan were not making progress, and that their further continuance would be neither for their good nor for the
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Lord's glory--as with the Sodomites, whom God took away as He saw good.--`Ezekiel 16:49,50`.
TO SHEOL, NOT TO TORMENT
It is well that we should remember that the Bible hell, to which the Canaanites went when they were slaughtered, is not the hell of torment pictured to us in the creeds. Their destruction by the Israelites sent them to Sheol, to Hades, to the tomb, where "there is neither wisdom nor knowledge nor device." (`Eccles. 9:10`.) There they sleep with their forefathers--just as we read of all the good as well as of all the evil ones of that time. Abraham slept with his fathers, who were heathen men.
All through Bible history we read that both good and bad, dying, were gathered to their fathers--slept with their fathers. There they are still, waiting for the glorious resurrection Morning, when Messiah's Kingdom, having inaugurated a reign of righteousness, will bring the earth to its Edenic condition and bring back eventually every man in his own order--all that sleep in Hades, in Sheol, in the tomb.--`I Corinthians 15:21-29`.
Death with humanity is totally different from death with the brute, because of the Divine promise that there shall be a resurrection of the human dead, the just and
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the unjust; and because in fulfilment of that promise God has already sent His Son. Jesus already has died for human sin, thus opening up the way for the resurrection-- that God might be just and yet be the Justifier of those accepting Jesus.
True, few have accepted Him as yet, because few have come to a knowledge of the Truth. The great masses of the world are still blind and deaf, and know not. The glorious promise is that in Messiah's Day not only shall all be awakened from the tomb, but the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth. Then all the blind eyes will be opened and all the deaf ears will be unstopped. All will have the opportunity of returning to Divine favor under Messiah's Kingdom. Those refusing to come into harmony will be classed as wilful rebels, and will die the Second Death.
The nation of Canaan, like all other nations, will have a share in that glorious time when Jesus, the Light of the world, will lighten every man which shall come into the world.--`John 1:9`.
From this viewpoint, the taking of Palestine from the people who were using it to no profit themselves, and the giving of it to Israel for the enactment of types of good things to come, was not injustice, but wisdom. And taking away by the sword the people already condemned to death was just as proper as if they had been taken away by famine and pestilence. In any event, the Divine provision for them all through Christ is a blessing, which will reach them in Messiah's Day, when the earth shall be free from the curse. Then the curse will be rolled away and the blessing of the Lord shall be rolled upon them, when the enlightened will love righteousness and hate iniquity. To all such there will be no more sighing, no more dying, no more crying. Wilful evil-doers will be destroyed; and all the earth having been brought to perfection, God's will shall be done on earth as perfectly as it is done in Heaven.
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CHOOSING ELDERS AND DEACONS
NUMEROUS inquiries have come to us indicating that some of the brethren have difficulty in applying the suggestions given in Vol. VI, on the subject of election of servants for the Classes--elders and deacons.
It was not our thought there to lay down an invariable rule on the subject. The Bible gives none, and no one else has a right to establish such a rule. Our suggestion was that wherever possible the election should be unanimous, and unless seventy-five per cent. of the Class, or more, favored a brother's election, it would be rather unwise for him to accept the office--the service. We did not by this mean that a minority of twenty-five or thirty per cent. should be encouraged to obstruct the Class and hinder an election.
Strictly speaking, a majority of one in a Class would decide any matter except as love might come in to urge a consideration of the sentiments of others. If, for instance, a Class numbered one hundred, fifty-one of these would have a right to decide respecting who should be the servants of the Church, and the other forty-nine should very quietly acquiesce, recognizing the fact that they constitute only a minority, and should loyally strive to support the will of the majority.
Only the spirit of love and the best interests of all in the Class suggests more than fifty-one per cent. Love should strive for a unanimous vote. But how might this be obtained? We will offer a suggestion.
Suppose that in a Class of one hundred six Elders were considered necessary for the service. A, B, C, D, E, F would represent available candidates of more or less ability. A might have a hundred votes; B, ninety; C, eighty; D, seventy; E, sixty; F, fifty. Under a strict voting on the lines of preference only two would be selected on a ninety per cent. basis; but our thought would be that the entire six might be unanimously elected, if they were on the average as good material as the Class possessed, and if nothing were known derogatory to their moral characters.
It is a mistake to think that the standards established by St. Paul are to be taken literally, for no one would be found fully up to all the requirements. The Apostle has stated what the ideal Elder would be. Each voter should have this ideal before his mind in thinking of the will of the Lord; but the Class is not to be left without an Elder unless there are serious blemishes.
Our Lord similarly set a perfect standard before us when He said, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect." (`Matt. 5:48`.) Who is perfect in the sense that God is perfect? "There is none righteous; no, not one." (`Rom. 3:10`.) The Master evidently meant that we should not measure ourselves by a low standard, but by the perfect standard, that thus we would be assisting ourselves up to the grandest ideals in respect to our own lives and characters and in respect to those chosen to be Elders and ensamples to the Flock.
Be it always remembered that none are to vote except those professing full consecration, manifested by the usual symbol--immersion in water. Such as have not symbolized their consecration are not to be disowned as brethren, but should be considered so immature as not to be competent to express an opinion in respect to who would be qualified to serve the Church, and, of course, would not be qualified to be servants themselves.
Another question which here and there is obtruding itself is, Should any one be chosen as a servant of the Church who has not taken the special Vow which so many of us have found very helpful, and which has been recommended to all? We cannot make the Vow a test of brotherhood, for, even though we believe that the Lord has specially brought it forth at this time, and that to a certain extent He intends it to serve as a test amongst the consecrated, nevertheless the Bible does not authorize us to make this a test of brotherhood. It is a matter of judgment rather than of Divine direction, just as the candidate's misuse of the English language, or uncouthness of manner might properly enough be taken into consideration, although not mentioned in the Bible amongst the qualifications for eldership.
It would rejoice us greatly to know that all the dear Elders and Deacons amongst the Lord's people everywhere could see eye to eye with respect to the reasonableness of the Vow, and its harmony with the Divine Word and with our consecration Vow, to which it is, as it were, a blue fringe, or border and finish. One can scarcely refrain from wondering what objection any Christian brother or sister could have to that Vow. To some of us it seems as though it would imply either something wrong as respects their heart intentions or something defective in their reasoning faculties. However, we are not competent to judge so closely. The Master said, "Judge not."
Our thought is that in selecting Elders or Deacons a preference might well be given to those who have taken the Vow and who see eye to eye on this subject. Nevertheless, if the brethren who are competent to lead Classes
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are acceptable in every other way and are not opposers of the Vow, they might be chosen. This would be especially true of those who declare that they are living up to all the requirements of the Vow to the best of their ability, and merely decline to take it because of fear that somehow or other the taking of this simple Vow might injure them while it helps others. We may not understand the processes of their reasoning, nor the attitude of their hearts, but we may under such circumstances pass over what we cannot understand nor appreciate.
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SOME INTERESTING LETTERS
PROSPEROUS MEETINGS IN GERMANY
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Brother and Sister Rutherford have just left for Zurich. The eight public meetings were quite a success:
Hamburg ....2,500; hundreds turned away............ 616
Berlin .....3,000; 500 of these in a second hall... 620
Dresden ....1,600; 750 turned away................. 700
Leipzig ....1,500; several hundred turned away..... 442
Elberfeld ..2,500; ................................ 740
Siegen ..... 800; 200 turned away................. 288
Coln .......2,000; several hundred turned away..... 346
Stuttgart ..4,000; ................................1,232
Together with the 16,000 addresses received in the last few months in connection with my discourses this makes 21,000. We will do what we can to feed these through our few able Colporteurs. They all received a copious supply of literature. Where it seems impossible to canvass these addresses soon, we will send them a handsome little circular illustrating the volumes.
Surely, the hungry ones can have food for thought and heart! We are much encouraged.
We are having a local convention here today and another public meeting tomorrow evening. I will do all I can to encourage the friends in the work and to show them the great privilege of service.
With much love in the Lord, O. A. KOETITZ.
THE WORK IN HUNGARIA
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
The work in Hungary is much more difficult than in America, because the friends, with few exceptions, are very poor, and the work must be done on a much smaller scale. All would gladly work if they could find work to do. (This evidently refers to labor conditions.) We were obliged to give a number of the books free, and we were glad to be privileged thus to serve the Lord.
Last year I had 50,000 PEOPLES PULPITS and also 400 volumes of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES in Hungarian. These are all out now, and more are ordered.
There are at present forty-two small classes in various counties, in which we are received with gladness, and they rejoice with us in the revelation of Present Truth. The eleventh and twelfth of May we had a little convention, about 100 being present. How good and how pleasant it was to be there! (`Psa. 133:1`.) Some strangers were among us that gave evidence of being interested.
Seven brethren were elected as workers and servants of the Truth--Brother Kis, myself and five others. We have conventions semi-annually, and spend the time in building one another up and studying the Divine Plan. We rejoice in spirit with the brethren at a great distance, with whom we seldom come in contact. We had a baptism service, at which seventeen brethren and ten sisters symbolized their consecration into Christ's death. About 1,000 people were present at this service, even the police, and it was a blessing that they were there, for somebody wanted to create a disturbance, but the police quickly restored order. Praise the Lord!
We believe that none of these blinded men will be able to destroy the work of the Lord, but rather that all things will be done after the counsel of his own will. One of those who are now opposing the Truth was with us for two years and was very zealous in spreading the Truth; he gave up a paying position to be more fully used in the service, and because of his activities was cast out of the Baptist church. I received much help from him financially, and through his efforts I was privileged to lecture in the Baptist church. Now, however, he has turned against us.
There is great need at present for a brother who can speak both Roumanian and Hungarian, to help the friends and to aid in building them up to the full stature of a man. (`Eph. 4:13`.) Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send more laborers into the vineyard.--`Matt. 9:37,38`.
The pastors and priests of various denominations have sought to stop our work in a legal way. We were haled before the court. We have been able so far to defend our course. We hope also in the future to be able to hold high the Divine banner, going forth and following the living Captain of our faith, as well as his honored servant, our beloved Pastor C. T. Russell, and say with the Apostle Paul, "We are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ."
SOBERNESS, DIGNITY, REVERENCE
My attention was attracted by a peculiar little laugh that accompanied a brother's effort to lead a meeting. This "little" laugh kept up through all his talk, but seemed to be more pronounced when he seemed to feel he had given a "deep" thought, when he would "heh-hah, heh" in a very peculiar way. This was about three years ago. I have noticed it in different brethren and upon many occasions since, and more particularly during the past year. To me it seems very undignified and has got to where it is very disgusting to me. The serious thing about it is, it seems to be "catching," often involving several in the class, and the meeting is made peculiarly strange. Even with strong resistance I find myself indulging to my shame, sometimes. Even other brethren who seem to be more dignified and modest than I are often affected and I notice they seem to realize it. Those who practice it don't seem to realize it, but seem to use it as a kind of emphasis to what appears to them to be a very deep thought or explanation. __________.
LITTLE POLISH CONVENTION
Thinking that news of the welfare of the Polish friends would be gladly received, as well as of all of the saints, I desire to mention something of the results of our efforts to be built up in the most holy faith and in fellowship and in love.
The two classes of Polish friends (one in Milwaukee, Wis., and one in Chicago) arranged for a two-days' convention, or union meeting, which was held August 31 and September 1, 1913, in Kenosha, Wis., midway between the two localities. A program was arranged for, calling for nine discourses and two symposiums and a testimony meeting. Two of the discourses were for the public in the same hall; one, "The Plan of God," and the other, "Baptism." There were also symposiums on the "Fruits of the Spirit," and on the "Attributes of God." All the friends were much refreshed and encouraged to run on in the narrow way. A good time spiritually was had. It was hard for the friends to depart, and nearly all of the faces expressed a desire to continue the convention and special fellowship with God, for our Heavenly Father blessed our meeting wonderfully.
Arrangements were made for the giving of an opportunity, to those desiring, to symbolize their consecration unto death to do the Heavenly Father's will and to follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. There were twelve immersed, six brethren and six sisters. The immersion took place in the lake. Although the lake was quite rough, the friends, and especially the sisters, who would never venture into the water under other circumstances, went bravely and yet with a dignity that characterizes all immersion services of the true saints of God, showing under a picture their death with Christ. While the friends were being immersed the remainder stood on the shore and sang in Polish, spiritual songs prepared for the occasion, such as "Happy Day," and "Our Best Friend," to the tune No. 134 in the hymnal, and several others which made the service very impressive and
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upbuilding for the singers and the immersed ones. That moment of witnessing will be long remembered by all present. A love feast was arranged for on the order held at the general conventions of the I.B.S.A. After this all went back to their duties, filled with the Lord's Holy Spirit. Such a wonderful blessing was realized that it would be almost impossible not to say something about it.
Praying for further blessings on these and the saints of God everywhere and with Christian love, I am,
Your brother in the One Hope,