ZWT - 1900 - R2555 thru R2747 / R2739 (369) - December 15, 1900
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VOL. XXI. DECEMBER 15, 1900. No. 24.
Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society's
Yearly Report...............................371 A
Perfume of Sweet Odor...........................376
Opposition from Selfish Hearts................378
Hosanna! Blessed is He that Cometh................380
Questions and Answers.............................382
Duty to the Heavenly and to the
"Who Only Hath Immortality?"..................383
Items: Watch Tower Visits, etc....................370
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, "BIBLE HOUSE," 610, 612, 614 ARCH ST., ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $1.00 A YEAR IN ADVANCE. MONEY MAY BE SENT BY EXPRESS, N.Y. DRAFT, MONEY ORDER, OR REGISTERED. FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS, ONLY. SPECIAL TERMS TO THE LORD'S POOR, AS FOLLOWS:--
Those of the interested who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually.
BRITISH BRANCH NO. 131 GIPSY LANE, FOREST GATE, LONDON EAST, ENGLAND.
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NO DATE TAGS ON TOWER WRAPPERS.
Last year we adopted a new method of addressing the WATCH TOWERS which does not show date when subscription expires. Instead we now send a postal card receipt at once on receipt of the money.
DO YOU INVITE A CONTINUANCE OF THE
WATCH TOWER VISITS?
Samples of the WATCH TOWER are sometimes sent unintentionally to those who do not welcome them; but we certainly do not wish to intrude it regularly upon anyone. Hence we desire some expression from every one on our lists once each year: either the subscription price, or a request for its continuance with a suggestion as to when it will be more convenient to send the money, or a request to have it as one of the Lord's poor. Or, if you please, say that you dislike it and don't want to see it again.
We think it not unreasonable to ask at least a post-card expression yearly, from each one on our list. And if you will send this sometime in December it will convenience us greatly.
Do not misunderstand us: we have no desire to drop a single name--the poor who cannot pay, but who relish the spiritual food dispensed through these columns, are just as welcome to it as those who pay. Indeed they do pay: for we have a fund provided for this very purpose. Make known to all the interested that we desire their names on our lists. But they must ask for themselves--unless the person writing for them is a Tract Fund contributor, and at same time requests that these be charged to his donation--which we will be very pleased to do.
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WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY'S YEARLY REPORT.
--DECEMBER 1, 1899, TO DECEMBER 1, 1900.--
MANY OF the Lord's dear people, deeply interested in present truth, are quite isolated, and have comparatively little opportunity for learning of the general progress of the cause, except as they may infer it from occasional remarks in these columns. These, and we trust all of the WATCH TOWER readers, will be looking with expectancy for this report, that they may thus have accurate information respecting the work which interests us more than all else in the world besides--the work in which each, according to his love, zeal and ability, has contributed either financially or through the circulation of literature, or otherwise.
We are glad to think of you as looking for and interested in this report, and give thanks to our Lord that by his grace so favorable a showing can be made; indeed, the grand totals for the year astonish us, for altho we have been aware that greater efforts than ever were put forth, we were not aware, until the calculations were footed up, to what extent the year past had transcended every previous year of this harvest-time in our mutual service of the truth and in the evidences of good results attained. We are sure that our friends will be astonished as they read the reports we have to offer: astonished, first of all, that a company of the Lord's people so poor in this world's goods, as those who embrace present truth generally are, should contribute to the extent our Report shows; and that without being "dunned," urged, or even requested to give;--merely upon the information that an opportunity for thus engaging in the Lord's service is open to such as are able and willing to serve in this manner. The astonishment will be doubled when it is seen how great a work, under the Lord's blessing, has been accomplished with this comparatively small sum of money, which, amongst the nominal churches, would be considered only sufficient to pay the salaries of a few officers, and practically accomplish nothing in the way of propaganda.
And our astonishment still increases as we reflect that the circulation of this amount of literature, accompanied by this amount of "Pilgrim" preaching, etc., supporting the most glorious message that could possibly be heralded to mankind, shows so meagre results; that so few have ears to hear and eyes to see these things which enrapture our hearts. Let us, however, reflect that our Lord informs us that his "elect" will be but a "little flock"--and in it not many great, mighty or wise; but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith. The comparatively small results of our efforts to reach the ripe "wheat" in Babylon convince us, all the more, that the "wheat" is very scarce in comparison with the "tares;" that we are living in the time of which the Apostle declares that the church nominal will have itching ears, and be turned away from the truth, turned to fables, and respecting which our Lord said, "When the Son of Man cometh shall he find the faith on the earth?" implying that it would be difficult to find.--`2 Tim. 4:3`; `Luke 18:8`.
True, the results may be more than we can at present discern; for we can estimate the widening influences of the truth chiefly by the growth of the WATCH TOWER subscription lists. These show considerable growth for the year,--but not nearly so much as we had hoped for: and our offer of credit, and of special terms to the poor, should bring to our lists the names of all who have "tasted that the Lord is gracious" and are hungering and thirsting for his righteousness. We can only hope that an under-current of influence is moving, of which we have little outward
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manifestation; and that in the Lord's own time and way during this "harvest" all of the true "wheat" will be reached and ripened and garnered.
THE COLPORTEUR BRANCH OF THE SERVICE.
We give this department of the work the first place in the Report, considering that those who are engaged in it are doing the work of evangelists, and remembering that the Lord has specially blessed this service to the reaching of many who are now rejoicing in the light now shining upon the Word. We can think of no branch of the work in this harvest that more nearly corresponds to the style of service instituted by our Lord in the Jewish harvest, than does the Colporteur work. The Colporteurs usually go in couples, as the twelve apostles, and afterward the seventy, went forth,--from town to town and city to city. Like them, also, they go from house to house, and likewise their message is, "The Kingdom of heaven is at hand! The time is fulfilled; repent, and believe the good tidings!" Going in this manner into all the homes of the civilized world, these Colporteur brethren and sisters have opportunities for finding the truth-hungry as well, perhaps better, than if the pulpits of the land were open to them, and they all competent to give able discourses upon the divine plan. Because in such a case they would be able either to preach but few discourses, or else to reach comparatively few hearers: whereas each Colporteur can reach more than an average church audience every week; and with those whom he can interest he leaves reading matter representing many discourses, upon which the reader may feed for months. Where enough interest may not be awakened to lead to a purchase of the books, a tract is left, which sometimes bears good fruitage; and even tho some who purchase may neglect and fail to read at the time, experience shows us that the books thus scattered are often blessed of the Lord to the reaching of others, and sometimes years after, under more favorable conditions, the purchaser may also be blessed through them.
You will be pleased to learn that the sale of the DAWNS and booklets during the year (chiefly through the Colporteurs) was as follows:--
In the English language........................... 84,251
" German " ........................... 9,137
" Scandinavian tongues....................... 6,712
" French language (estimated)................ 543
Foreign languages................................. 1,323
It should be remembered that altho we endeavor to keep this branch of the work on a self-supporting basis, it nevertheless comes short of this, by reason of the fact that our wholesale prices are very low: in the case of the foreign translations considerably less than cost.
We feel sure that this showing will greatly encourage the dear brethren and sisters who are giving their lives in this department of the Harvest work; and we trust that it will act as an incentive to others
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who have been contemplating engaging in this work-- to lead such of them as are of good address, and without family and financial encumbrances, to give themselves freely to this evangelistic work. It is a department which the Lord has greatly owned and blessed; it is a preaching of the Word in a most practical manner, likely to leave a lasting impress; one which will undoubtedly, we believe, bring forth much fruitage during the great time of trouble, as well as serving to find and to perfect those of the Lord's saints who shall be accounted worthy to escape those things coming upon the world. We will be glad to hear from, and to cooperate with, all who desire to enter this branch of the service. Write to us freely of your wishes, hopes, difficulties, etc., in respect to this, and we will do what we can to open the way before you. There is still plenty of room for the work in this land as well as in Great Britain. The fields are white for the harvest, and the laborers are few; and if we are praying for laborers let us see that we are doing what we can to fulfil our own petitions.
Some who cannot give their entire time to colporteuring are doing valiantly in their spare moments and hours; for instance, one dear brother, an architect, not slothful in his business, is nevertheless so fervent in spirit and in serving the Lord that during the past six months he has disposed of 650 copies of the DAWN to mechanics and tradesmen with whom his business brings him in contact. Others have less opportunities, but the same zeal, and are doing what they can; --some by giving, some by loaning, some by selling the literature. We rejoice that in any and all of these ways there is an opportunity for all of the Lord's dear flock to show their love for the truth, and their zeal in laying down their lives for the brethren still in Babylon and darkness.
THE "VOLUNTEER" WORK.
All who labor for the truth do so of their free will and without compensation, and hence might properly be termed Volunteers: under this head we might include in a general way all the efforts that have been put forth during the year in the way of free circulation of WATCH TOWER literature, bearing on the Harvest themes--but the special use of the word with us has been confined to a particular feature of this free distribution;
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viz., that done systematically at or near churches at the time of their dismission on Sundays.
This Sunday church-distribution by those who volunteered for the service was begun in 1899, and reached good proportions and accomplished good results that year, and was continued during the past year with excellent effect. When we speak of results we have chiefly in mind that which is within our power, and not the ultimate results, of which no man can now know, and which time alone will show. The results, so far as the distribution of the Volunteer WATCH TOWER was concerned, were a success, large numbers being circulated in all parts of this country and in Great Britain. In handing literature to church attendants we had no thought whatever that they were all going into the hands of saints; but we do hope that some of them reached the hands of the Lord's consecrated people; and we still believe that it would be difficult to find a more effective way of reaching this class than by reaching the church-goers. In proportion to the circulation we cannot say that we have had large returns; on the contrary, they have been small, so far as letters, WATCH TOWER subscriptions, etc., are concerned. But in various ways we learn that they are making an impression upon the minds and hearts of many of those who have received them and who, while not ready to accept and endorse, nevertheless have been influenced by what they have read, and to some extent brought nearer to the truth and are better prepared for further instruction in the right way, when the Lord in due time may again send it to them.
We incline to think that the greatest blessing of all in connection with this part of the work has come to those who engaged in it as "Volunteers," and who, all over the country, numbered hundreds. These have repeatedly testified that no part of their Christian experience had ever been more helpful to them in the development of true character, in committing them fully to the Lord and to his truth and to his service; making them strong in him,--"not ashamed to own his name, nor to defend his cause." Those who have had the opportunity to engage in this work, and who have allowed the "fear of man which bringeth a snare" to hinder from engaging in it, and thus being ministers of the true Gospel, and co-workers with the great Chief Reaper in this harvest-time, have missed a great deal--how much they may never know in the present life, unless some further opportunity for the Volunteer work should occur and they should then engage in it and ascertain how great the blessing and character-development they have already missed.
The friends in various quarters who have engaged in this work during the past two years, are writing us hoping that the Lord may open the opportunity for further Volunteer service during the coming year, beginning early in the spring. The evidence is that where the entire company of the Lord's people at any point have entered into the work a great spiritual blessing has resulted. We will bear their requests in mind, and see what can be done as respects a future service for the soldiers of the Cross.
The total number of Volunteer issue of the WATCH TOWER circulated during the year was 948,459.
ORAL PREACHING--"PILGRIM" DEPARTMENT.
It is not long since this department was inaugurated, and yet, as this Report shows, it has already reached considerable proportions. While we are in direct contact with the Lord's people through correspondence by mail, it became evident to us about four years ago that if competent brethren could visit amongst the little groups of those who have come into present truth through the ministry of the printed page, they could be of great service and encouragement to them; and at the same time might through public meetings be able to reach and further interest many who were already partially interested through the printed page and through private conversation, etc. These traveling oral preachers we designate "pilgrims," because they are nearly always on the go, their stops with the various little groups or churches being very brief (two or three days, as may seem to be warranted by conditions). We make out the routes for these, and send notification ahead of them, so that no time need be lost. An evening meeting is always in order for the day of their arrival, and afternoon and evening meetings for the succeeding days.
We endeavor, as far as possible, to select for this service brethren who give evidence, first, of character, and of faith in the Lord, in his Word and in his plan; second, such as seem to give evidence of ability in presenting the truth to the minds of others--as the Apostle expresses it, "apt to teach"--and, so far as possible, those who are "mighty in the Scriptures" (`1 Tim. 3:2`; `Acts 18:24`); and of ability in "rightly dividing the word of truth." (`2 Tim. 2:15`.) These, so far as worldly judgment would be concerned, would all be classed as plain men; and we trust also would be classed as true Christian men, humble-minded and modest, both in language and deportment--men who do not have the false idea that they are great ones, or lords of God's heritage, of superior caste or order above the household of faith, but who simply and humbly acknowledge that they are "brethren," "servants" of the Lord and of the household of faith,-- men who are very thankful for the privilege granted them of being engaged in such a service, and who look for their reward, not in luxuries of the present life,
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but in the Father's house, beyond the veil--in the Kingdom. These "pilgrims" are not paid salaries; and tho ample provision is made for their comfortable maintenance, everything connected with this is expected to be done on the reasonable and economical lines which we believe the Lord and apostles followed, and respecting which we regard them as "ensamples." No collections are taken up by these "Pilgrims," nor do they in any manner, directly or indirectly, request aid privately. Nor need we request their entertainment, knowing full well that any we thus send to you in the Master's name will be welcomed by you and granted a share of such things as you have;--according to the Scriptural injunction.--`Heb. 13:2`.
In following the plan here indicated we have been enabled to reach some of the Lord's scattered ones in various parts of this broad land, who never expected to hear preaching along these lines; for it will be readily seen that the expense connected with this traveling ministry is proportionately much less than it would be by any other method which would reach the same number of the Lord's people. Besides, this method assists, rather than discourages, the development of talent amongst the brethren of the various little groups. It is our thought that, generally speaking, the Lord is pleased to use some in each little company for the instruction and assistance of the others in the same; indeed, we encourage the thought advised by the Apostle, that each member of the Lord's consecrated Church should strive to "build one another up in the most holy faith."
We believe that an immense amount of good has been done through this Pilgrim service during this past year, and that quite a number of the Lord's dear people, as they read this part of the Report, will offer prayer on behalf of this feature of the Lord's service, asking for us wisdom and grace in respect to the matter for the coming year. The figures in this line also,
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we believe, will astound many of our readers. They are as follows:
Number of persons who gave more or less of their
time to the Pilgrim work during the year 14
Number of miles traveled in connection with
the service...................................... 48,845
Visits to churches................................ 649
Public meetings held.............................. 1,287
Private or parlor meetings held................... 875
Cost of this branch of the work................... $3,357.59
One point alone in this Report seems unsatisfactory to us, and that is the number of private or parlor meetings. These, we think, should have been much more numerous in proportion to the public meetings. It is our thought that the chief good in these Pilgrim visits is for the household of faith: while, therefore, we urge the holding of some public services to which all classes of Christian and earnest people may be invited by advertisement and otherwise, we urge that during the year beginning the parlor meetings be given the chief attention. At these, subjects can be discussed which would not be so fully appreciated by the public, nor by any except those who had been studying along the lines of the WATCH TOWER literature. We take this opportunity, then, to offer this suggestion to the dear friends,--that when notified that a Pilgrim will be with them they may make proportionately larger arrangements for their parlor meetings and proportionately less arrangements for public discourses in halls, churches, etc.
CONVENTIONS OF THE YEAR.
The Conventions are a part of the "Pilgrim" work, but deserve a word of special notice. Three general conventions were held during the year--at Philadelphia, Chicago and Dallas; these were interesting and profitable, but were reported on at the time. Besides these the President of the Society (the Editor) attended several local, one-day conventions, at different points--Toronto, Canada; Saratoga, N.Y.; Houston, Tex.; San Antonio, Tex.; Columbus, O.; Cleveland, O.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Wilmington, N.C.; Roseboro, N.C.; Hayne, N.C.; and the Florida Chautauqua Assembly.
We have good reasons for believing that these gatherings were all profitable to the Lord's flock, seasons of refreshing and joyous fellowship in spiritual things; nevertheless we feel that in the coming year we must be more economical of our time. May the Lord direct; we will be glad to follow his leadings in the matter.
THE GENERAL TRACT DISTRIBUTION.
The circulation of tracts during the year has been highly satisfactory to us. They have not been sown in a broadcast manner, but rather handed out with a measure of discretion, so far as we are able to judge; and this is the plan which we commend. Of course, in a majority of instances we merely know that tracts have been ordered and have been sent; but many give us an intimation of how they use what they receive: some visit hotels, where they hand them to the patrons; others seek opportunity for handing tracts to intelligent looking people at railway stations; others mail the tracts with their letters, perhaps with a little comment, and a request that some report be given after the reading; others keep a variety on hand, and make a selection for those with whom they come in contact. Thus there are various methods in vogue in this department, the colporteurs using a considerable number, leaving one at every house where they
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fail to take an order,--the tract sometimes having an influence where the words of the colporteur failed.
The total number of tracts sent out during the year was 1,468,990.
Of these a large number went direct from the WATCH TOWER office through the mails, to lists of addresses which we procured in various ways--many of them those of persons known to be religiously inclined, holy people, lovers of righteousness; and some of the best of these lists are sent to us, written upon proper-sized wrappers by WATCH TOWER readers. You are all welcome to avail yourselves of this opportunity for service. Besides the tracts, we sent out as tracts large numbers of WATCH TOWERS to good addresses. We request that no addressed wrappers be sent us for either tracts or WATCH TOWERS except such as are known to you in some way to represent intelligent and religiously inclined people. It is only a waste of money and labor to cast the pearls of truth before those who are swinish; whose god is their belly or their apparel or their pocket book.
THE CORRESPONDENCE DEPARTMENT.
What blessed opportunities God has provided for his people at the present time! What an opportunity it affords for all of his dear children to have fellowship and communion! In this manner, as well as through the printed page, those afar as well as those near-by may have the privilege of complying with the Apostle's words, to forget not the "assembling" of ourselves together, and so much the more as we see the day drawing on. (`Heb. 10:25`.) Many letters assure us of the blessings which the wonderful mail service of our day has brought to them; and on our part we can testify that great blessings and encouragement have come to us through this same channel. While some of the letters received are cold and business-like, and others bitterly antagonistic, others, and the majority, are laden with rich perfume of Christian love, sympathy and deep appreciation of present truth. Through these we are kept in touch with the spirit of the Lord's dear flock in all parts of the world; and we can assure you that the touch is profitable to us, as we trust that our responses are profitable to you, and comforting and helpful.
As the work in general has grown, so this feature of it has expanded, so that the figures below are far in advance of those in any previous year in our history:
Letters and postal cards received during the
Letters and postal cards sent out................. 38,609
Copies of MILLENNIAL DAWN circulated
at cost.......................................... 100,643
Copies of booklets circulated at cost............. 40,370
CIRCULATED AT EXPENSE TO TRACT FUND.
Copies of ZION'S WATCH TOWER...................... 1,247,960
Copies of Old Theology Tracts................... 1,468,990
These amounts expressed in the usual
form represent in tract pages................. 131,891,340
Whenever figures get into the millions they are quite beyond the average mind to comprehend. We have therefore estimated the matter in pounds,-- 206,710 pounds, or over one hundred and three and a half tons, weight.
THE FINANCIAL SIDE--TREASURER'S REPORT.
TRACT FUND EXPENDITURE:
Cost of the above 103-1/2 tons matter, including
freight, postage, gas, help, etc.................$18,350.21
Pilgrim Expenses, etc............................. 3,357.59
TRACT FUND RECEIPTS:
Balance on hand Dec. 1, 1899 $ 871.54
From "Good Hopes" Donations 13,337.72
From Other Sources............... 4,472.63 $18,681.89
THE BLESSED PRIVILEGE OF THIS SERVICE.
The Editor (who is President of the Society), in closing this last report of the century, congratulates all the dear friends of the cause upon the above showing, and trusts that it will more than meet the expectations of all who contributed to the funds thus scattered as leaves of spiritual healing all over the civilized world. Especially do we trust that the God of all grace, the Father of mercies, may accept and approve our stewardship--the merit of our Redeemer making good whatever unintentional errors the all-seeing eye may discern.
Do we urge the dear co-laborers to make still greater sacrifices for the work in the year just beginning? Not at all. We have never solicited in the past, and we do not expect to do so in the future. Even of the Lord we make no requests for money. His will, not ours, be done in this and in all matters. If he through his people or otherwise sees fit to entrust to us financial means, we will endeavor to use the same to his praise, and seek for this the wisdom which cometh from above. We esteem it a privilege to have any share in any department of this "harvest" work, and its accompanying blowing of the Jubilee Trumpets proclaiming restitution times at hand. And this joy in the Lord's service is fully appreciated also by the twelve dear "brethren" who, as office assistants, have so ably and so patiently lent their best endeavors to make the work a success; and their efforts under God have contributed largely to the securing of the above results. The Lord will reward them as we can not. "Brethren, pray for us," as your representatives and the Lord's, in this "defence of the truth."
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Below we give some interesting figures from two of the Society's foreign branches (the reports from the other two are not yet at hand). Both of these reports are included in the totals given above.
REPORT OF MANAGER OF BRITISH BRANCH.
FROM MAY 7 TO NOV. 15, 1900.
LONDON, NOV. 16, 1900.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have the honor to submit the following report of the Tract Fund receipts and expenditures for the British Branch of the Society, May 7-November 15, 1900:--
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EXPENDITURES: L. s d
Paper and printing.......................... 340 14 10
Carriage.................................... 55 2 3
Share of expenses for labor, etc............ 24 10 4
Expenses in Pilgrim work.................... 45 5 9
Total....................................... 465 13 2
Receipts from Great Britain................. 40 11 10
Deficit supplied from Home Office 425 1 4
REPORT OF LITERATURE CIRCULATED.
Copies of MILLENNIAL DAWN circulated.............. 3,224
" booklets................................ 667
Tracts sent out free.............................. 77,835 Sample WATCH TOWERS sent out free................. 171,850
---------- Total sent free................................... 249,685 These represent in tract pages....................19,189,684
---------- Letters and cards received........................ 1,184
" " " sent out........................ 9,294
The Volunteer work has been quite zealously pursued here this year; how much so you may judge by comparison of the amounts distributed in America and here, and reckoning that there are about twenty times as many TOWER readers in America as we have in Great Britain. Volunteer work has been done in 39 cities and towns in Great Britain, and with some encouraging results. More than 50,000 copies were distributed in London.
Tract distribution has also had considerable attention from the friends here, and with such results as to warrant its continuance. To be sure, we must often put tracts in many houses before reaching one which contains persons ready for the truth; but sometimes the one tract in the right place has a very far-reaching influence, as has been indicated in this city, where one tract under a door has thus far reached four persons, on the principle of `John 1:41,45`, and is still working.
The Colporteur work has not fared so well, not having had so many workers as have been able to participate in the work in other ways; but the few who have had this privilege have been industrious, and have also been permitted to see some fruit of their labors which has caused their and our hearts to rejoice. We are praying and hoping for more laborers in every branch of service, but particularly in the Colporteur department, which experience has demonstrated to be by far the most efficient means of reaching "hearing ears" with the truth, as it is also the most practical, being self-sustaining. The experience of those who have engaged in the service of the truth by the Colporteur method in Great Britain in the last six months shows that the worker can sustain himself in this service. It is a most attractive opportunity for those who have time to spend in the harvest work, and we shall be glad to hear from many on the subject.
The financial aspect of the work here is presented in the figures foregoing, which plainly tell their own story. It would have been impossible for the British Branch to do as it has done, except for the financial cooperation of the head office to the large amount of $2,000.
We pray daily for ourselves, and for all of God's saints, that we may be plentifully supplied with heavenly wisdom, with strength and grace, for the discharge of each day's duties in such a manner as will redound to the glory of God and the upbuilding of his people. "Brethren, pray for us." Respectfully submitted, Yours faithfully in Christ,
E. C. HENNINGES.
REPORT OF OUR GERMAN WORK.
Sister Giesecke reports 448 letters received and 494 letters sent out; 2,899 copies of the German WATCH TOWER circulated as samples, and 10,108 tracts distributed, representing 232,460 pages.
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A PERFUME OF SWEET ODOR.
--`MATT. 26:6-16`.--JAN. 6.--
"She hath done what she could."
PRECEDING LESSONS showed us incidents in our Lord's journey toward Jerusalem, via Jericho --the healing of the blind men by the wayside, the conversion of Zacchaeus, and the parable of the young nobleman, given because they were nigh unto Jerusalem, and because the disciples and many of the multitude expected that the Kingdom of God would immediately be manifested,--set up in earthly grandeur, etc. The distance from Jericho to Jerusalem was only about twenty miles, and Bethany, the home-city of Lazarus (whom our Lord raised from the dead) and his two sisters, Martha and Mary, was quite near to Jerusalem
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and with them Jesus decided to spend his last Sabbath-day in the flesh. We may presume that the day was happily spent according to the observance of the Sabbath required by the Jewish law; but the narrative, passing over the events of the day unnoticed, draws special attention to the feast or supper made for our Lord in the evening, after sundown, when the Sabbath was considered ended, and the first day of the week beginning.
This feast was at the house of Simon the leper, yet Simon is not mentioned in connection with the narrative, and it is quite probable that he was then dead. It is conjectured that Simon was either the father of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, or else that Martha was the widow of Simon, and that Lazarus and Mary were younger than she. These items, however, are merely tradition, nothing in the Scriptures throwing any light upon the matter. We remember that on the occasion of a previous visit to this home, our Lord was entertained; and Mary became so absorbed in listening to the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth that for the time she neglected the ordinary affairs of life, until her more practical, but possibly less spiritually-inclined, sister commented upon the fact, which brought forth our Lord's declaration to the effect that while service is quite acceptable and appreciated, veneration and fellowship are still more appreciated--"Mary hath chosen the better part."
The two sisters had the enviable privilege of serving the Lord and ministering to his comfort in the feast of our lesson, just before the agonies which closed his earthly life. As before, so now, the service of the two sisters took somewhat different form, but probably this time by mutual agreement and prearrangement; Martha herself served the table with others assisting, and Mary was left free to render her peculiar service, of which this lesson is a memorial. From some source she had procured a valuable alabaster vase of choice perfume. She had either purchased the vase, and manufactured the perfume herself, at great expense of time, etc., or had spent for its purchase a considerable sum of money. She had anticipated our Lord's coming, and had fully arranged matters so that at this feast she might treat him in a manner in which very few except the worldly great were ever treated;--kings, emperors, etc., were thus anointed with perfume, but very rarely indeed could others afford such a luxury, for the facilities for manufacturing perfume then were quite inferior to what they are now, and even if the perfume were of home manufacture and of fine quality the cost in time, etc., would be great, and the perfume would be so valuable that it was usual to sell it to the very wealthy.
The feast had begun, and Jesus, with the disciples and other guests, were at the table, which, according to eastern custom, was long and narrow, the guests not sitting upon chairs, but reclining full length upon couches or divans, with the head extending over the table, and the feet extending back to the rear, the weight of the shoulders poised upon the left elbow, while the right hand was used in partaking of the food.
While Martha and her associates were serving, Mary came forward and, breaking the seal upon her alabaster vase, she began to pour the precious perfume upon our Lord's head, and subsequently, as John's record of the matter informs us, going to our Lord's feet she poured some of it upon them, and wiped them with the hair of her head. Mary's affection for our Lord was so deep and so strong that it could not be satisfied with any of the ordinary methods of expression. If the kings of earth were perfumed and anointed, much more did she esteem it fitting that her friend, her Lord, the Messiah, should be anointed with the best that she could procure for him. Her love was so intense that it knew no economy--nothing could be too good for her Beloved. She would give expression to the rich sentiments of her heart by giving him the finest and most costly of sweet natural odors. Our Lord appreciated the matter fully--the sweet odor of the heart-love which prompted the act, still more than the sweet odors which filled the entire house.
But the disciples, more selfish and less able to appreciate Mary's true sentiments, and the propriety of their expression in this form, found fault with her, and the records show that their leader and mouthpiece, who incited the fault-finding spirit amongst the others, was Judas, the treasurer of the little company, whose disappointment
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was great that the value of this ointment did not find its way into his money-bag, and thus a part of it, at least, to his own private uses; for we are told, "He was a thief, and carried the bag." His objection seems to favor the thought that Mary may have prepared the perfume herself, for he does not object to its having been purchased for a large sum, but that it might have been sold for three hundred pence. (`Mark 14:5`.) Estimating the value at 300 Roman pence, or denarii, worth about 16 cents each, the value of the ointment would be about forty-eight dollars, but much more than this amount would be represented in today's values; for we are to remember that a denarius represented a workman's wages for a day, and hence that 300 denarii would practically represent a workman's wages for a year. It was indeed an extravagant action, but it represented an extravagant love, and was expended upon one whom God and the angels delighted to honor, and whom Mary seems to have appreciated much more nearly at his true value than did his other associates of the hour.
Beloved Mary! We can, perhaps, imagine to some
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extent the emotions which filled her heart as she prepared this costly expression of her devotion, the sentiment of which she hoped others would appreciate. But now, on the contrary, she beholds the "indignation" of her friends and guests, the Master's nearest companions; and her heart sinks within her as she fears that the Lord himself will view the matter in a similar light, and reject and disapprove her libation. What a load is lifted from her heart, when she hears our Lord pronouncing her work a noble deed, and reproving his disciples for lack of sympathy in her sentiment, telling them that this perfuming of his body was in preparation for his burial. It was probably in the midst of this discussion of the matter between Jesus and the apostles that Mary, having anointed his head with the perfume, went to his feet, and began anointing them also, wiping them with her hair, as an evidence that the most precious thing of her personal adornment was gladly at the service of her Lord.
Probably Mary had no thought of perfuming our Lord's body for burial, and his words to this effect would be as astounding to her as to the others who heard them. It was customary with the ancients to spend considerable care and money upon the persons of their dead in preparing them for burial; sweet spices and perfumes, etc., were lavishly bestowed, just as today it is the custom to provide handsome caskets and many and expensive flowers and fine monuments, as expressive of the love and appreciation in which the dead are held by their friends. In Mary's conduct in the pouring of the precious perfume upon the Savior while he was yet living, we have a most excellent suggestion in respect to the proper course to be pursued toward those we love. It is far, far better that we should unstop our alabaster vases of perfume, and pour them upon the heads and upon the weary feet of our friends, while still they live, than that we should wait until they have expired, and then give our attention to the cold, inanimate and unappreciative corpse. Our alabaster boxes are our hearts, which should be full of the richest and sweetest perfumes of good wishes, kindness and love toward all, but especially toward the Christ--toward the Head of Christ, our Lord Jesus, and toward all the members of his body, the Church; and especially on our part toward the feet members who are now with us, and on whom we now have the privilege of pouring out the sweet odors of love and devotion in the name of the Lord, and because we are his. The poet writes:
"How oft we, careless, wait till life's sweet activities are past, And break our 'alabaster box of ointment' at the very last! O, let us heed the living friend, who walks with us life's common
ways, Watching our eyes for looks of love, and hungering for a word
The heart of each truly consecrated child of God is like the alabaster vase,--a receptacle for the holy spirit, the spirit of love, the choicest perfume and most precious to the Lord and to men. It is expensive, because it cannot be gathered rapidly, but requires patient perseverance in well-doing to be "filled with all the fulness of God." Again, it is like Mary's vase in that it gives forth its odor not before, but after the seal is broken and the contents poured forth. It differs from hers, however, in the fact that it may be continually poured out and yet its fulness all the while increase.
Our hearts and their holy love are like Mary's vase again, in that they should be poured upon the Lord himself--upon the Head first, but subsequently upon the members of his body, even the humblest, the lowliest, the feet. And this should be our service, even tho it be unappreciated by others, who instead would think that we should pour our love and devotion upon sinners, or upon the poor heathen world. They realize not what abundant opportunities there will be for blessing the heathen world in the future, in the Millennial age, which God has set apart for their blessing, and in which his disciples will have abundant opportunity for co-working with him in the general uplifting of the world of mankind. Those who upbraid us for pouring out our heart-treasures upon the members of Christ, the Church, do so through ignorance, and if at times it has caused some discouragement to us, let us hearken to the words of the Master, declaring that such is a noble course that has his approval, and that it is proper as a prelude to the burial of the entire Church, the body;--that it will be appropriate that this shall be done to the Church rather than for the poor world, up to the time when the Church shall have finished the earthly pilgrimage;--up to the time when the sufferings of Christ having been fulfilled there shall be no longer opportunity to bless and refresh and comfort the body of Christ, respecting whom our Lord declares that what is done to them is done to him.--`Matt. 25:40`.
So, then, let the Marthas serve the Lord in one way, and the Marys pour out their most precious spikenard perfume, assured that neither service will be forgotten; for both are told and have been told for eighteen centuries, as memorials to their praise, testimonies of their love, which the Lord appreciated and accepted, however they were viewed by others.
OPPOSITION FROM SELFISH HEARTS.
In this connection it is well to notice sharply that the one who made the greatest ado on behalf of the poor, and who objected most to Mary's expression of her devotion, was the thief and murderer, Judas. And the principle, to a considerable extent, seems to hold good all down throughout this Gospel age: that those who make the greatest outcry on behalf of mission work and in opposition to the expenditure of costly time in
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the anointing and blessing of the consecrated members of the body of Christ, are not always those who have the interests of the heathen exclusively at heart, but are frequently those who have an "axe to grind," a selfish interest in some way to serve. And not infrequently these hypocrites mislead others of the Lord's dear people, who are thoroughly conscientious, even as Judas, by his sophistry, for a time misled the other apostles into indignation against Mary for the doing of the very thing which was pleasing to the Lord, and on account of which he decreed that wherever this Gospel should be preached her conduct should be mentioned as a memorial.
And so it is today: this gospel is preached in more than 350 languages--to every important nation in the world. But we presume that it was not merely Mary that our Lord wished to memorialize, but especially her deed: he wished that all who should know the good tidings should know also of his appreciation of such devotion to him, to his body, and that the more it costs us the more he appreciates it. In view of this, let each one who would be pleasing in the Lord's sight seek continually to pour the perfume from his heart and life upon other members of the body of Christ, and let him realize that in so doing he will not only be pleasing to the Lord, but will be receiving also a blessing himself; for as no alabaster vase could pour forth perfumes upon others without itself being thoroughly involved in the perfume, so our hearts, as they pour forth upon others of the members of the body the sweet perfume of love and devotion to the Lord and his cause, will be sure to bring a blessing to ourselves, even in the present life --our Lord's approval and benediction now and everlastingly.
Some of the methods employed in connection with present endeavor to anoint the members of the Lord's "body" for burial,--with the perfume of his truth and grace--call down the condemnation of fellow-disciples. As for instance, the expenditure of time, energy, and large sums of money this present year in the "Volunteer" work has been, and will be misunderstood by many of the Lord's dear children,--and be bitterly reproved by those who are of the Judas stripe. Yet realizing the Lord's approval we have quite sufficient to make our cup of joy overflow. Fellow-disciples tell us that we should not be handing the meat in due season to the household of faith, but to sinners; that we should not be seeking to anoint the saints with the sweet perfume of present truth, but should, on the contrary, be going to the outcasts of society, engaging in slum-work or in foreign-mission work. The real difficulty with the Judas class, however, is that they fear that the circulation of the truth amongst the Lord's people would cut off the revenue which otherwise might flow into their coffers: they fear the loss of numbers and influence in sectarianism. But their fears are largely imaginary; for the perfume of the truth is only designed
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to fall upon "the members of the body of Christ," and our expectations are that the Lord will guide it to these, and that to others it will be of no effect. And since the members of the body of Christ, the consecrated ones, are so few, their anointing and their separation from Babylon, and their burial, will be comparatively unnoticed so far as numbers are concerned,--tho their taking away as the "salt" and the "light" of those systems, will indeed be a serious loss, conspiring to their downfall in the great time of trouble approaching. --`Matt. 5:13,14`.
Let us not forget to note clearly and distinctly the wide difference between love and selfishness, as exemplified in the opposite courses of Mary and Judas. Mary, full of burning devotion, was willing to sacrifice much to honor, comfort and please her Lord. Judas not only was unwilling to sacrifice on his behalf, but on the contrary was willing to sell him to his enemies for thirty shekels--the price of a slave. Not only so, but the devotion of the one seemed not to impress the other favorably, but rather the reverse; the devotion of Mary, and our Lord's approval of it, seem to have aroused the opposite spirit in Judas, for he went straightway to negotiate with the chief priests for our Lord's betrayal into their hands.
It would appear from the Greek text, and the rendering of the same in the Revised Version, that Judas received the money for his work in advance: "They weighed unto him thirty pieces of silver." He completed the contract; he sold himself to work evil, and that against his benefactor, his Lord, of whose power he was fully conversant, and of which, indeed, he had received so abundantly that he himself had been enabled to heal the sick and cast out devils. How strange that any could be so perverse! No doubt he had a way of reasoning the matter to himself which made his crime appear to him less heinous than it does to us. No doubt, also, others who today are willing less directly to sell the Lord for earthly advantage or influence or money find ways of excusing their perfidy; but in proportion as our hearts are loyal and devoted, as was Mary's, in that same proportion will the Judas course appear heinous and impossible to us.
Yet these climaxes of character are not reached suddenly. Mary's love had been growing from the first; it was greatly strengthened by her course in sitting at the Master's feet and receiving from him spiritual nourishment, which our Lord declared to be a still better part or course than that pursued by her sister, tho the latter was not disapproved. Mary's faith and love had been still further increased as she witnessed the
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Lord's power in various ways, and especially at her brother's awakening from the tomb. She had cultivated this love and appreciation for the Lord until it filled her entire heart, and found its expression in the costly libation which she had just poured upon his head and his feet. Judas, on the other hand, had long been permitting the spirit of selfishness to more and more intrude upon his heart; he had permitted himself to think of what money would do, and had given his thought largely toward its accumulation. It had fettered his soul, so that he was unable to appreciate the Lord's character, even tho he knew him intimately from daily association, so that he was unable to measure anything except from a monetary standpoint. And these bands of selfishness gradually grew so hard and tight about his heart that they squeezed out everything of character, of love, devotion and friendship, and thus gradually he came to be the representative of, and his name the synonym for, the grossest of ingratitude and meanness, selfishness and treachery. One lesson for us here is, to cultivate love and the appreciation of whatsoever things are just, good, lovely and pure; and to fight down and eradicate so far as possible (especially from our own hearts and lives) everything selfish, mean, ignoble, dishonorable.
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HOSANNA! BLESSED IS HE THAT COMETH!
--`MATT. 21:1-17`.--JAN. 13.--
"Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!"
AFTER THE FEAST of our last lesson, the next morning, the first day of the week (our Sunday), our Lord early began his preparations for his triumphal entry into Jerusalem as a King. Altho he well knew that "his own" people would not receive him, but, as he had already testified to his disciples, that he would be put to death by the rulers, and intimated the night before that Mary's anointing was for his burial, it was nevertheless necessary as a part of the divine plan that he should formally offer himself as King to the Jews, and thus fulfil to that people God's promise that his favor should be "to the Jew first."
Our Lord had previously resisted the disposition of some of the people to take him by force and make him King, withdrawing from their midst, etc. (`John 6:15`); but now the time, the due time, having come, and that to the very hour, he deliberately planned his triumphal procession, instead of, as previously, hindering it. He sent some of the disciples for the ass and colt, manifesting his superhuman power by designating where and how the animals would be found. An ass was used rather than a horse, and tradition tells us that so all the kings of Israel were accustomed to ride to their coronation.
When the animal arrived the disciples and the whole multitude seemed to enter into the spirit of the arrangement; for it would appear that quite a number of those who came up from Jericho, and who had witnessed our Lord's power and teachings en route to the Holy City and the Passover, lodged at Bethany over the Sabbath, as he did. These, with the disciples, constituted quite a little band, who began to hail Jesus as the King, and to do him homage, as was customary with notables at that time, by spreading their outer garments in the way for his beast to tread upon; and by plucking grass and flowers, and branches of palm trees, and strewing these also in the way.
Jesus, in the honored position, riding at the head, was followed by this multitude on the road toward Jerusalem. Then another multitude from the city, having heard that the great Prophet and Teacher was at Bethany, came forth to see both him and Lazarus, and these, meeting the Lord and the shouting company behind him, turned about and became a vanguard, shouting like the rest, "Hosanna to the Son of David," which meant the King, one of the royal line. They probably were deterred from using the word "king" lest they should bring upon themselves charges of treason against King Herod, and against the Roman empire, which sustained him in power.
It was a grand or a ludicrous triumphal entry into the city of the Great King, according to the standpoint from which it was viewed. From the standpoint of the disciples and the multitude, full of Messianic enthusiasm and hopes that the longed-for blessings upon Israel were about to be realized, and full of faith that this great Prophet, who had the power to raise the dead and heal the sick, could in his own time and way make himself and them invincible against all enemies, and amply fulfil all the glorious things foretold by the prophets,--for these it was a grand occasion, a real triumph. For, notwithstanding the fact that Jesus had previously told them repeatedly of his death, and had even reproved Peter for speaking to the contrary, nevertheless his disciples and others seem to have been unable to receive his words in their true meaning, and to have interpreted them as merely a part of his "dark sayings" which would undoubtedly later become luminous in some grand significance. This is attested by their language, even after his death and resurrection,-- "We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel."--`Luke 24:21`.
From the standpoint of Herod, Pilate, the chief priests and scribes, this triumphal procession was merely
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the parade of a fanatical leader and his ignorant and fanatical dupes. They saw in it evidently no more than this. King Herod and Pilate evidently had no fear that this despised Nazarene and his company would ever be able to organize and equip an army which would be of any force as against the order of things of which they were the heads. The religious leaders feared merely that the fanaticism might spread in some manner, and bring down upon them the wrath and further oppression of the secular powers, who might make them an excuse for further interference with the liberties of the Jews. Quite evidently none of these chief rulers believed in Jesus as the Messiah sent of God for the fulfilment of the gracious promises of their Scriptures. To this the apostles testify, saying, "I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers;" "If they had known they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."--`Acts 3:17`; `1 Cor. 2:8`.
That procession was viewed from still another standpoint by our Lord himself and by the invisible multitude of angels, ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation. These joined in the enthusiasm of the multitude, but from a totally different standpoint--realizing this triumph as merely a part of the divine plan, and merely a prelude to a greater triumph on our Lord's part through the completion of the sacrifice of himself and the attainment thus of "all power in heaven and in earth;" and as a foreshadowing, too, of his coming glory and
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his triumphal entry upon the Kingdom on his return from the far country (heaven) armed with a plenitude of power and authority, to put down sin and to bring all things into subjection to God; and to lift up out of the horrible pit of sin and disease and death all desirous of coming back into full harmony with the Father and the laws of his empire. This, the most glorious standpoint of view of that triumphal march, it is our privilege, by the grace of God, to enjoy; and we may well say in our Lord's words, "Blessed are our eyes, for they see; and our ears, for they hear."
Luke's account of this matter informs us that certain of the Pharisees who were with the multitude at the beginning, altho they could not object to anything which our Lord said or did, complained that he should permit his disciples and others of the multitude to hail him as a King, shouting Hosanna! (Salvation, Blessing, Praise!) Then it was that Jesus, knowing of the prophecy bearing upon this subject (`Zech. 9:9`), not only refused to rebuke the disciples and hinder their acclaims, but informed the Pharisees that since God himself, through the Prophet, had said, "Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem," therefore there must be some shoutings; and that if the people had not arisen to that amount of enthusiasm to give such shoutings the very stones would have cried out, so that the prophecy should not be unfulfilled.
Tho the distance is quite short to Jerusalem from Bethphage, where the Lord mounted the ass, nevertheless the city was hidden from view by the Mount of Olives, and it was when the Lord had reached the top of Olivet, and the city of Jerusalem came suddenly into view, that he halted the procession and wept over the city; saying, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes...because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." (`Luke 19:41-44`.) From this language it is evident that our Lord did not consider the multitudes who were with him, as in any sense of the word, representing the city and nation; for altho these who were with him were shouting the very words, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Jehovah!" our Lord's language indicates that a time is yet to come when the heads of Israel, the chief ones representing the people, shall gladly acknowledge him as King of kings and Lord of lords, at his second advent; but in the meantime their failure to recognize the time of their visitation meant to them a great loss of privilege; meant to them that their house must be left desolate, abandoned of the Lord during this Gospel age, during which he would gather from amongst the Gentiles a sufficient number to complete the elect number, in conjunction with the faithful ones of Israel, the remnant who had or would receive him.--See `Matt. 23:39`.
The objective point of this triumphal march was the Holy City, the capital city, the City of the Great King. But our Lord did not go to Herod's palace, to demand possession of it; nor to Pilate's palace, to demand recognition of him; but as the representative of Jehovah, as the Messiah, sent of God to be the Savior of Israel and the world, he went appropriately to the Father's house or palace,--to the Temple.
The scene in the Temple must have been a peculiar one. It was undoubtedly crowded with pilgrims from all parts of the civilized world, who at this season of the year came, to the number of hundreds of thousands, to worship the Lord and to observe the Passover, according to the Law. Probably many of them had heard something about Jesus of Nazareth, "mighty in word and deed." Many of them had been healed by him, or had friends who were thus blessed; and we can well imagine the commotion created by the multitudes coming with Jesus and crying, "Hosanna in the highest," etc. The Pharisees, scribes, and chief priests, who were used to dominate the people in religious matters, and especially in the Temple, altho filled with anger against Jesus, recognized themselves powerless to do him injury under the circumstances, for he was doing nothing contrary in any sense of the word to the Law, and this would be manifest to all. On the contrary, as tho to show that he was only doing what was in his power, our Lord began to exercise it as would be befitting a spiritual King--by reproving those who were violating the holy Temple and its precincts, driving out of it those who sold doves for offerings, and the money-changers who were reaping a profitable harvest from the necessities of the worshipers from a distance, whose money, not being Jewish, could not be accepted at the Temple, and which they must therefore have exchanged, at a loss--the profit of the moneychangers. We are not to understand that our Lord was interfering with the proper laws of the land nor of the Temple; --he was in every sense law-abiding. On the contrary, he was thoroughly authorized, as was any Jew, under the directions of the Law, to use so much force as was necessary in the maintenance of the sanctity of the Temple.
Blind and lame people came to our Lord in the Temple and were relieved of their infirmities, and then he taught the people--continuing the healing and the
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teaching for several days, returning at nights to Bethany and coming the next morning to the Temple, but without any further demonstration, as a King, for that one demonstration had served the purpose intended. It had given to the officials of the city and nation the opportunity to formally accept him as king, but their contrary spirit is shown by their coming to him while the children in the Temple courts were crying "Hosanna!" requesting that he should put a stop to the matter; but our Lord answered them, quoting from the Scriptures, that this was in harmony with the divine plan: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise." The worldly-wise did not appreciate this, and were blinded by self-interest; but little children, and especially those who in simplicity of heart and meekness became like little children, should be the instruments the Lord would use in shouting his praises.
Many of our Lord's parables and special teachings were uttered during those days in the Temple, between his triumphal entry and presentation on the tenth day of the month Nisan and his crucifixion on the fourteenth, as the Passover Lamb. (See `Exod. 12:3,6`.) These parables, etc., are recorded in `Matthew, chapters 23-25`, in `Mark, chapters 11-13`, and in `John, chapters 12-16`. Among other things he declared that the favor of God was, there and then, taken from fleshly Israel, saying,--
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee! How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate!" --`Matt. 23:37-39`.
In considering the best lessons we at the present time can draw from these incidents, we suggest that their typical feature be not forgotten--that all shall remember that the events in the close of our Lord's ministry, and everything pertaining to the rejection and dissolution of the fleshly house of Israel, is typical and illustrative of the things which are to be expected to transpire in the present time, in the end of the Gospel age,--in the rejection and dissolution of nominal Israel of today, "Babylon." As already shown in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., page 235, the time which corresponded to the Lord's formal offering of himself to fleshly Israel and his rejection was the year 1878. There nominal spiritual Israel was rejected, as previously the first or fleshly house had been rejected; yet in both cases all Israelites indeed receive him and receive corresponding blessings at his hand.
It is since this date (1878) we understand that our Lord has been in his spiritual Temple, the true Church, teaching in an especial manner all those who have an ear to hear, opening the blinded eyes and helping those who are spiritually lame to walk in his ways. It is since that time that all who belong to the Temple class of true worshipers are permitted to hear and see wonderful things out of the divine Word; and it is during this time also that the Lord is casting out of his Temple all those who make merchandise of the truth and who are not true worshipers--the money-changers and dove-sellers, etc.; and it is during this time that out of the mouth of babes and sucklings the truth is being proclaimed so often to the offense of the scribes and Pharisees of today.
Shortly, the last members of the body of Christ, the feet, already being anointed for burial with the sweet odors of the truth, will complete their sacrifice shortly, the first resurrection will be complete and all the members of the body of Christ be glorified together with him;--and then, the sufferings of Christ being ended, the glory will speedily follow. But meantime before the glory is revealed, there will come a great time of trouble, symbolically a time of fire (trouble) and smoke (confusion) upon the world, and especially upon rejected "Babylon," and all who do not escape from her before the great tribulation comes, even as similar fiery vengeance came upon Israel after the flesh, and all who had not escaped from her.--`Luke 3:16,17`; `Matt. 13:38-43`.
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
DUTY TO THE HEAVENLY AND TO THE EARTHLY
Question.--I am the wife of a minister in one of the denominations. I have been studying the truth for now several years, and feel convinced that the WATCH TOWER publications represent the true Gospel. I desire to be faithful to my Lord, no matter what the consequences; but I am in a measure of perplexity to know just what my duty is. As the minister's wife I am, of course, a member of the church; I am the organist for the congregation, and a teacher in the Sunday School. My question is, Should I, or should I not, come out of Babylon--withdraw from worship and cooperation in that which I believe is in many important respects a misrepresentation of the gospel;--of God's truth and character?
I do not wish to weigh earthly interests so far as I am myself concerned, being quite willing to suffer whatever the Lord's providence may permit. My hesitation is more on account of others who would necessarily suffer with me. My husband, who would undoubtedly lose his position and its small salary, is not in sympathy with the truth; my best efforts to awaken his interest in it having proved unavailing. He would suffer, and our two children would suffer, as well as myself; and my query is,--To what extent is it right for me to involve others? And what would be the proper course for me to take that would be pleasing to our Lord?
Answer.--Yours is a peculiar case, dear sister. We will suggest what we would consider to be the Lord's will in the matter, and give the reasons, and then leave it for your own conscience to decide upon. It is your duty to do what you understand to be the Lord's will according to the best light which you possess or can obtain.
First then, we advise that you explain the whole situation fully and frankly to your husband, and tender to him, as the minister and representative of the congregation, a letter requesting that your name be stricken from the list, etc.,--one of the printed letters which
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we supply free would answer this purpose. Your husband, as the representative of the congregation, can, if he choose, erase your name from the roll. You may request him to make the matter public, but he will not be bound to follow your request, and under your peculiar circumstances we advise (differently from usual) that you do not send the Withdrawal Letters to all the members of the congregation unless your husband is willing. Leave the responsibility with him.
As for the teaching of a class in the Sunday School --we advise that you continue it, especially if it be a class of adult scholars--teaching, however, not any sectarian theory, but the true theology of the Bible. Let your husband, as the pastor of the church, know that it is the only condition upon which it would be possible for you to retain your class. As for the playing of the organ, we recommend that you continue it also, explaining, however, to your husband your objection to certain false hymn-book theology, that you believe to be contrary to the Scriptures, and requesting that if he desire you to continue to be the organist he will give you some little liberty and consideration in the matter of the selection of the hymns. But we advise that you be not too particular, not hypercritical, in this matter. We reason that God's people are justified in praising God with any words from which it would be possible to take a proper thought--even tho others might from the same words take an improper thought.
Our reasons for advising in this case differently from what we would ordinarily are two-fold: (1) Your husband is nominally, and perhaps really, a Christian, and hence it would be proper for you to render some deference to his judgment in any matter not compromising your own conscience--as, for instance, along the lines above suggested.
(2) There is a little difference between the position of a husband and of a wife in such a matter: the wife may throw some responsibility upon the husband, but the husband could throw no responsibility upon the wife. We are not under the Law, but nevertheless the Law in a shadowy way gives to us some conception of the Lord's view of matters; as for instance, see `Leviticus 30`. Your husband was aware of your vow unto the Lord whereby you consecrated your all to him, and made no dissent thereto. It would appear, therefore, that he could not in any way interfere with the proper liberty of your conscience without doing violence to his own.
"WHO ONLY HATH IMMORTALITY"--WHO?
Question.--How should we understand `1 Tim. 6:14-16`? Is it the Father or the Son who is referred to as the "King of kings and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto," etc.?
Answer.--We understand that the Apostle here refers to our Lord Jesus. Our reasons for so concluding are as follows:--
(1) While immortality belongs exclusively to the divine nature, we are to remember that the Apostle Paul declares that the entire Church is called to "glory, honor and immortality," and the Apostle Peter says that God has given us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these "we might become partakers of the divine nature." This implies, therefore, that the Church of God is to possess this divine attribute of immortality or deathlessness. But only our Lord Jesus had yet been made partaker of this quality at the time of the Apostle's writing. The Church, his Body, would not be thus honored and glorified until their due time, in the First Resurrection, when they shall be like him, sharing his divine nature, glory, honor, and immortality, etc.
(2) That our Lord Jesus already possessed this divine nature, and therefore possessed immortality at the time of the Apostle's writing, is fully attested by the Scriptures, which assure us that "as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself." This describes immortality, for no other condition of life is inherent life; all other conditions are derived or imparted life. The statement here that our Lord will give this same inherent life to his followers, is in agreement with the Apostle's assurance that all who have part in the First Resurrection are raised in incorruption, in immortality (`1 Cor. 15:52,53`); and remember that our Lord's resurrection was the beginning of this First Resurrection, and that it could have meant no less to him, the Head, than it is by and by to signify to the members of his body. We are to remember the same Apostle's declaration that our Lord Jesus' resurrection was as a "first-fruits;" that thus he became the "first-born among many brethren." We are to remember also, that the Apostle, in harmony with the above, expressed the desire that he might have a share in "his resurrection," "the resurrection," "the First Resurrection," in which all the overcomers are to share.--`Phil. 3:10,11`; `1 Cor. 15:20`; `Jas. 1:18`.
(3) If, therefore, sharing in "his resurrection" is to bring his faithful members to immortality, our Lord's own resurrection can have been to no inferior condition. Hence, to apply the text in question to the Heavenly Father would not be consistent with the testimony of Scripture, that the Heavenly Son possessed immortality at the time as well as the Heavenly Father.
(4) That the passage in question relates to our Lord Jesus and designates him the only Potentate, King and Lord, does not imply any disregard or disrespect of the Heavenly Father and his attributes, kingship, etc., as the same writer (St. Paul) elsewhere points out. When speaking in similar strain about Christ's Kingdom and the subjugation of all things under him, he says, "It is manifest that he is excepted who did put all things under him." In other words, comparisons which show dignity and honor pertaining to Christ, Head or Body, are never understood to be comparisons with Jehovah, who is beyond all comparison. --See `1 Cor. 15:27,28`.
(5) The correctness of this application is further attested by our Lord's own application to himself of the same titles.--See `Rev. 17:14` and `19:16`.
(6) The Apostle's entire discourse is along the line of showing the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus, his humility and high exaltation, and how servants and all of us should be likewise humble and lowly and faithful to the truth as servants of God, and in due time be exalted--manifested to the world--in glory, honor and immortality in the Kingdom.