ZWT - 1899 - R2411 thru R2552 / R2483 (145) - June 15, 1899
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VOL. XX. JUNE 15, 1899. No. 12.
Views from the Watch Tower........................147
Spiritualism Steadily Asserting Itself........147
Dr. Briggs an Unwelcome Episcopalian..........148
Sowing to the Flesh--In the Churches..........149
"Will a Man Rob God? Yet Ye have
Application to Spiritual Israel...............152
Questions and Answers.............................155
"Unto the Uttermost Parts of the
Divine Mercy in Hosea's Prophecy..................159
Convention at Indianapolis in July................146
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THE INDIANAPOLIS CONVENTION.
Arrangements are completed for a Convention of believers in the Second Coming of the Lord and the Plan of the Ages,--to be held at Indianapolis, Ind., July 21st to 23d, as follows:--
The Railroad fare will be one-half the usual, except from a few points which will add $2 to the one fare for round trip. All passenger trains run into Union depot, which is about three blocks distant from the meeting place of the Convention-- "Shover's Hall," on Market Street, between Delaware and Alabama Avenues.
Accommodations--good and clean--have been arranged for, at the very reasonable rate of ninety-five cents per day, at "Barton's Hotel," No. 29 Virginia Ave. Such ZION'S WATCH TOWER readers as cannot afford even this modest sum, will be entertained free, by the Indianapolis friends, with great pleasure. Those who ride to the hotel can take any car leaving the Union depot and should ask for "transfer" when they pay their fare. A "Reception Committee" will meet all the friends at the Barton Hotel--except during convention hours, when it will be at Shover's Hall, as above mentioned.
The following program will be followed closely as practicable:
Friday, July 21st.--The opening "rally" will be at 10 A.M., conducted by Brother C. A. Owen--an opportunity for getting generally acquainted. At 3 P.M. the assembly will be addressed by the Editor of this Journal from the text--"Looking for the blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." (`Titus 2:13`.) At 7:30 P.M. an address on the Ages and Dispensations of the divine plan, illustrated by the Chart of the Ages, may be expected.
Saturday, July 22d.--Testimony Meeting at 8 A.M. Preaching at 10:30 A.M. by the Editor of this Journal: subject, "The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus." (`Rom. 8:2`.) At 3 P.M. a discourse by Bro. M. L. McPhail--"Sanctify them through thy Truth." At 7:30 P.M. a discourse from the Chart.
Sunday, July 23d.--Testimony Meeting 8:30 A.M.; at 10:30 a discourse by Bro. M. L. Staples on "The Offence of the Cross;" at 3 P.M., "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ," by the Editor; at 7:30 P.M., "Preserving the Unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace"--several speakers.
All who love the Lord, trust in the precious blood and wait for his Kingdom, are cordially invited to attend this Convention which recognizes only the one Church and her one Lord, one faith and one baptism. All such will please address the WATCH TOWER SOC'Y as soon as they know definitely that they will attend, stating in few words who will be of their party, and whether or not they will stop at the hotel. There will be an opportunity for symbolizing baptism.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
SPIRITUALISM is steadily asserting itself.
The Boston Journal of May 28th, reporting recent utterances of Rev. M. J. Savage, says:--
"TALKED WITH WHITTIER.
"In a quite recent sermon Dr. Savage declared that he had talked with the late poet Whittier and knew that he, too, believed in the essentials of Spiritualism. Longfellow, too, he classified with him, and cited his famous line: "There is no death; what seems so is transition.' Most of the poets, he thinks, have shared the Spiritualist conception of the life beyond this one.
"'The other day,' said Dr. Savage, 'the papers contained a long account of the belief of Dr. Lyman Abbott and of Dr. Hillis, who is his successor. Both believe all the essentials that Spiritualists believe, only both were very careful to guard themselves against believing in such vulgar and foolish things as rappings on a table. For the life of me I cannot see what there is so foolish and degrading in rapping. If you are in one room of a hotel and I am in another, I am not so impolite as to go into your room without rapping to find out whether you want to see me. If some one from the other world is near me and wants to see me, is it so dreadful that he should call my attention by rapping? I have been asked as to the nature of communications from the other side. I've had what purported to be hundreds of them, and I say that they are pretty much on a level with my daily mail. I get some foolish and some malicious communications, and again some noble and intelligent ones in my mail every morning. So it is with those from the other side. If we can get rid of the old idea that the moment a man dies he is either a devil or an angel, we will see that this is just as it would be likely to be--the communications being on a level with things as they are now. If I should die here in this pulpit I should not expect to be in the next moment more foolish or more wise than I am now.'"
The matter of the faith of Whittier, Longfellow, Abbott and Hillis is stated as tho it were exceptional among Christians: on the contrary, it is the rule: the exception is to find those who deny these propositions among clergy or laity. All believe that the dead are not dead, but more alive than ever before. All think and speak of them as being near to the living and interested in their welfare; but only Roman Catholics directly invoke their aid in prayer, except Spiritualists who go still further and claim to converse with the living-dead or dead-living. (Which would be the less absurd statement?)
It should not surprise us, therefore, that Christian people, long accustomed to this fallacy (that the dead are alive without a resurrection), are stumbling into Spiritualism, utterly blind to the fact that its manifestations are the work of demons who personate the dead to draw attention away from the Scriptural teaching that the Christian's hope is--the resurrection of the dead at the second coming (presence) of the Redeemer when he will exercise his office of Lifegiver.
* * *
Rev. B. E. Austin, D.D., of the Methodist Church of Canada was deposed for heresy on June 1st, after a trial by Conference at London, Ont. Respecting the matter Dr. Austin said to the reporter of the Toronto Globe:--
"If I had elected to leave the Conference in ignorance of just where I stood on the subject of Spiritualism, I would have been in the church to-day, but, as I was charged with teaching it, I thought it only fair to defend my own views on it, and against the advice of my friends I addressed the Conference. I did not wish to be in the church and hold views which were contrary to its teachings, and I decided that if the church was not broad enough or liberal enough to let me in, I wanted to be out of it. While I valued my standing in the church, I value my liberty much more. I wished a large personal liberty.
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"My views are the result of years of study and investigation. I became interested in the study of psychology through teaching it in class work at Alma College, and five or six years ago I became convinced, not that the current theory regarding Spiritualism was correct, but that underneath all the deception and artifices practiced throughout the country under the name of Spiritualism there was a great deal of natural phenomena. As Principal of Alma College I became specially interested in investigating mental sciences both theoretically and experimentally. I read the works of scientists like Sir William Crookes, Alfred Russell Wallace, Zollner and others, who have been making long and patient researches into this subject, and I finally became convinced that telepathy and clairvoyance were positive facts, and that there were many phenomena that were not explained even by them. The question of the origin of these phenomena then arose. One theory held by a great many people in the church is that it is all deviltry; then there is Carpenter's theory of mental cerebration, and the other theory that the phenomena are caused by the spirits of the dead, or so-called dead. Investigation and study convinced me that the last was the only theory to fit the case. I was led up gradually to a firm conviction in this truth.'"
As the Doctor declares, the fact that some good people cry "deviltry," while teaching doctrinally what supports reasonably nearly all the claims of Spiritualism, is not enough--should not be enough for reasonable minds. Only those who get the Bible teaching on death and on Spiritualism are prepared to see conclusively that it is demonism.*
DR. BRIGGS AN UNWELCOME EPISCOPALIAN.
Dr. Charles Briggs, famous as a leader among "Higher Critics" and for his determined endeavor to remain a minister of the Presbyterian Church after confessing himself out of accord with it, has been received into the Episcopal Church: but quite a few Episcopalians do not welcome him. Bishop Seymour declares himself forcefully on the subject as follows:--
"I agreed cordially with the Rev. Dr. Briggs in his rejection of Calvinism, but I as cordially revolted from his trying to remain a Presbyterian minister after he had publicly renounced the characteristic teaching of Presbyterianism. This shocked my moral sense. ...This view of the Rev. Dr. Briggs touching Holy Scripture may be true. I do not stop to inquire, since the truth or falsehood of the Rev. Dr. Briggs' theory does not touch the issue. He believes it to be true, and avows his belief in oft-repeated publications. This is quite enough. With such convictions, I cannot understand how any man who accounts himself an honorable and upright man can enter the ministry of the church.
"The test is much more than the declaration which the candidate signs and the vows and pledges which he makes before the altar of his God, and in the most solemn and critical hour of his life it confronts him and will continue to confront him while he lives, in every, or almost every, public service in which he participates. The rubbish and debris theory of the Bible places the Rev. Dr. Briggs in a most frightful position now that he has been ordained. The Bible supplies two lessons for morning and evening prayer daily throughout the year, and it saturates with its language and ideas the offices and services of our Book of Common Prayer. There is no branch of the church which makes more copious use of Holy Scripture than does that one in which the Rev. Dr. Briggs has just been ordained a presbyter, at his own earnest request, and
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in spite of protest and warning for his own sake as well as that of others.
"This Holy Book, as we regard it, is, in the estimation of the Rev. Dr. Briggs, a holy book hidden, unknown beneath an incrustation, an accumulation of myth, fables, legends, stories, and to some extent worse material--in a word, dust, debris and rubbish, and this dust, debris and rubbish he and all the clergy must serve up to the people as the Word of God in the public offices of the church. How can any man with one spark of religion in him voluntarily place himself before God and man in such a position? I confine myself to one point, and to one point alone, and I rest upon no question taken from its context, but upon a fundamental position deliberately taken and publicly avowed by the Rev. Dr. Briggs.
"It is true that the Rev. Dr. Briggs professes love and reverence for the Bible, but it is not our Bible, the Bible published by our Bible Society and read in our churches; it is a hidden Bible, an unknown Bible. The kiss of Judas was more conspicuous than the betrayal. A general profession of veneration and love does not condone repeated stab thrusts which are designed to destroy life.
"It has been said that any church is honored by the admission of the Rev. Dr. Briggs into its fold. Alas, the Rev. Dr. Briggs may be, and probably is, all that his admirers represent him to be, but neither he nor any other man, be he saint, confessor or martyr, can honor the Church of God. The church can do without us, but we cannot do without the church.
"Again, there are men who seem to be afraid if they do not profess sympathy and agreement with this higher criticism that they will be regarded as ignoramuses or idiots. Let me tell all such persons that there is a worse fate than that--it is to be accounted a fool by God.
"In conclusion, I wish to press the point that the ordination of the Rev. Dr. Briggs is most of all a moral issue, and brings into view Almighty God, with whom all who shared in that service must deal, if not now, ultimately at the last great day. God may be 'far above out of our sight,' and we may say in our hearts: 'Hush, God will not see.' But this is a sad, fatal mistake. God will not be trifled with. He is patient, but no man can be guiltless who takes his name in vain. 'So, then, every one of us must give account of himself to God.' Must, not may, give account of himself, not of others, to God, who cannot be deceived, not to man, who can be imposed upon and misled."
*See What Say the Scriptures About Spiritualism?--10c., or loaned free, this office.
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SOWING TO THE FLESH--IN THE CHURCHES.
We regret to note the multiplying evidences that the nominal churches are more and more losing sight of the Scriptural idea of the Church of Christ--that it is a company of called-out ones, separated from the world and united to each other and to the Lord as "members in particular of the body of Christ," whose present duty it is to edify one another and to build one another up in the most holy faith. The false view, that the Church is now to effect a social uplift of the world, is largely responsible for this. The remedy for the malady is the truth, that the election and education of the Church is the duty of the present age except as the light shining out from these saintly ones shall "reprove the world;" and that the Lord's time for the social uplift will be the Millennium, which he will bring about in his due time by the exaltation to glory and power of the Church, whose election will then be complete. In illustration of the misleading influence of a false theory note the following, published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer of May 30th:--
"PRIZE FIGHTS IN A CHURCH.
"New York, May 29.--The idea of special features to attract young people to church, which has gone as far as dancing classes in several places, has gone a step further in the Protestant Episcopal pro-cathedral at No. 130 Stanton street, of which the Rev. Dr. Charles Briggs is to have charge.
"Boxing matches and a wrestling bout were introduced with the approval of the authorities of the pro-cathedral and under the eye of the Rev. Mr. Paddock, the vicar, who seemed to enjoy them. The contests were held in the basement for the Young Men's club, one of the many organizations of the pro-cathedral. There was a smoker, music and recitations. Then a ring was improvised.
"At the opening Kid Rowling of Buffalo and Kid Floss of Avenue A boxed three tame rounds, and a draw was the decision. The boys carried out the custom of the ringside, and vociferous cheers, hisses and catcalls filled the large room.
"Then came the real event of the evening. 'Fellows,' said Announcer Gambert, 'I now introduce to you with great pleasure Dick Wunderlick, ex-champion welterweight, and Phil Kelly, the coming welterweight. They will box three rounds, and in the last introduce their original 'knockout,' which has been imitated by many, but successfully copied by none.' Three strictly professional rounds followed, and in the last round, Kelly delivered the realistic 'knockout' blow.
"The wrestling match was between Mike Zimmer and George Burke, the instructor of the gymnasium attached to the church.
"The Rev. Mr. Paddock said that doubtless many people would not approve of such amusements in such a place, but he said the aim was to hold the young men's interest and keep them off the street."
"I SUPPOSE THEY CALL THAT HERESY."
Rev. F. W. Gunsaulus, D.D., of Chicago, preaching recently, is reported to have said:--
"The fact that the spirit of holiness and truth enters into man with the power of a divine comfort is proved as much in the songs of the Wesleys as in the Psalms of David.
"A man must believe that God has vacated his throne, and that the ascended Christ has ceased to guide human events, and that the holy spirit is dead, if he does not feel within his own inspired nature that the inspiration with which the soul of Lincoln trembled and was yet steadied when he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation is greater and diviner than the inspiration with which Joshua commanded the massacre of a prostrate foe."
Dr. Gunsaulus said, after the address: "I suppose they call that heresy."
This may have been said in a bombastic spirit, with the desire to create a little cheap sensation; or it may have been uttered in all sincerity. If the latter, it only serves to show how blind are the "Doctors of Divinity," selected at good salaries by "orthodoxy" to confuse the people and mislead them into the ditch of skepticism.
The gentleman's words, whether so intended or not, will give to the average reader the thought: "Dr. Gunsaulus believes that Wesley's hymns were as much inspired as the Psalms of David, and in the same manner and degree." Dr. G. may privately deny any such sentiment, but the thousands who read his statement in print will be influenced to discredit the inspiration of the Scriptures in proportion as they are babes in knowledge of God's Word and pin their faith to those who are "highly esteemed among men."
All true Christians partake of the spirit of the Lord--the spirit of truth, of gentleness, of patience, of kindness, of love: for "if any man have not the spirit [disposition] of Christ, he is none of his." The Wesleys, we doubt not, had much of this same spirit, and we may discern considerable of it in their writings, prose as well as verse, with some admixture of what we consider error, which cannot have been, as it is not now, in agreement with the spirit of truth. But in the Psalms of David, written long before Pentecost by one who never received "the spirit of adoption," we find a totally different inspiration from that which fills and guides the Church as its members become emptied of "the spirit of the world."
The Apostle Peter explains the difference exactly, saying, "Holy men of old spake and wrote as they were moved by the holy spirit"--mechanically--often, if not always, without knowing why they wrote what they did, or what it signified. The Apostle declares this in so many words, saying, that they sought the
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significance of their own utterances, but were not granted an explanation, but were informed that "not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister." (`1 Pet. 1:12`.) How else could we account for the prophetic utterances of the Psalms, descriptive of our Lord's death and resurrection and of his coming Kingdom and of the great time of trouble by which it will be introduced? Can we go thus to the writings of the Wesleys or others since the apostles? Surely not! Hence the blindness of those unable to discriminate, or the criminal negligence of those who pose as oracles of God and yet would mislead the blind into the ditch.
Respecting the comparison between Joshua and Lincoln: Here again evil is done; the blind are misled by the suggestion that the Bible presents Joshua as an inspired man. Nothing of the kind is true. Joshua was no more a prophet than Lincoln, so far as the Scriptures inform us. Both were good men so far as we know them: both, so far as we know, were used of the Lord in accomplishing his purposes. Lincoln was led of divine providence and the exigencies of the war to proclaim the liberty of the slaves;--as a war measure, to enlist the sympathies of the millions of slaves for the Northern cause and to proportionately
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discourage the Southern cause. God's hand was behind Lincoln's course, unquestionably, and he did his part courageously and no doubt was brought into that place for that purpose and because he was such a man as the Lord could use. But it is very doubtful if the honored President realized to what extent his Emancipation Proclamation was forced by divine providences.
With Joshua the case was different: he was not guided by circumstances and necessities of the war he was conducting, but was definitely directed respecting what should and what should not be done to the enemy. The matter was not left to his choice in any sense. Those against whom he fought had already been sentenced to destruction; because "the iniquity of the Amorites" had come to the full.--Compare `Gen. 15:16`; `Lev. 18:24,25`; `Deut. 9:4-6`; `18:12`.
The difficulty with Christian people, in re the destruction of the Amorites, lies in their misapprehension of the facts and of the future operation of the divine plan of the ages. They think of the slain Amorites as going to a hell of eternal torment; instead of which they went to sheol; of which the Scriptures declare, "There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [sheol], whither thou goest." (`Eccl. 9:10`.) They think of Joshua as cutting short the probation of the Amorites to all eternity, whereas their probation for everlasting life had not begun; nor did such a probation for life or death everlasting come to anyone until after our Lord had redeemed all from the "curse" of Adam's transgression, by the sacrifice of himself.
Evidently the "key of knowledge" by which the divine plan may be understood is as thoroughly lost to the Doctors of Divinity of our day, as it was to the Doctors of the Law at the first advent. (`Luke 11:52`.) The people should know this and should seek the "key of knowledge." Seek, and ye shall find! Knock, and it shall be opened unto you!
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"WILL A MAN ROB GOD? YET YE HAVE ROBBED ME."
"Bring ye all the tithes into the store-house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it."--`Mal. 3:8-10`.
THE TITHING system, so far as Israel was concerned, had its beginning when they entered the Promised Land, after their forty years journey in the wilderness. A tithe signifies a tenth; and under the divine arrangement made with Israel this was the portion of all their increase required to be devoted to holy purposes. One-tenth of the increase of their flocks, their herds, their seeds, grains, etc., was first to be set apart to the Lord's service, as sacred, to be used in the maintenance of the priestly tribe, the Levites, and for the relief of widows and orphans, and other unfortunates. The one-tenth of the family increase was also required by the Lord; but this had already been provided for in the selection of the tribe of Levi and its increase devoted to the Lord's service exclusively, as instead of the firstborn of each family.
The system of taxation in vogue throughout Christendom to-day somewhat resembles the tithing system, except that it is collected and not left to voluntary contribution: and it is assessed on the valuation of property, etc., and not wholly on the income. It covers the expenses of public schools, relief of the poor, improvements of streets, sewers, and general government expense. In the United States maintenance of religion not being included in taxation is left, properly, to the zeal and discretion of the individual: it is safe, however, to assume, that the majority of people do not contribute largely to religion and charity; while others strictly appropriate one-tenth of their entire income to these benevolences.
The effect of this tithing system, had it been carried out in the right spirit, would have been, (1) to teach the people of Israel generosity, and to inculcate in them a realization of their obligations to God, and that all that they enjoyed were his bestowments. (2) It would have made abundant provision for the maintenance
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of the priests and Levites, the widows, orphans, and unfortunates, and thus would have been a perpetual insurance fund of mutual benefit. It not only would have provided for the temporal necessities of the unfortunate, but also for the educational arrangements, which were in the care of the Levites.
But the Israelites, like all the other branches of the human family, were depraved through the fall, and had come under the control of the spirit of selfishness, the spirit of evil,--to which may be traced every impure, ignoble, unholy word, thought and act. Hence the Israelites begrudged the giving of so large a proportion as one-tenth of all their earnings, and since the contribution was left to the conscience of the people, and no officers were entrusted with the enforced collection of this tithe, by punishment of those who failed to contribute it, very soon many ceased to contribute altogether, while others gave stintedly and grudgingly. But however the people felt that they were thus at liberty to curtail the amount of their contributions to holy purposes, and however much they presumed that they would ultimately be gainers, to the extent that they would withhold their tithes, we find that they erred; for God himself not only was the ruler of that peculiar people, their King (`1 Chron. 29:23`), but he was also the chief executive officer to administer the punishments for the violation of his own laws. Consequently, in proportion as they attempted to defraud the Lord of tithes, in that proportion or a greater proportion they were losing, for the Lord sent upon them grasshopper plagues, caterpillar plagues, and various insects, blights and diseases, which more than offset the tithes which they were withholding.
In all this, and in every instance when thinking of Israel and God's dealings with Israel, we should remember that they were a special and peculiar nation, differently dealt with from all the other nations of the earth. (`Amos 3:2`.) God did not exact from other nations a tithe, a tenth, but neither did he promise to other nations his special care and bounty and blessing. Other nations were left largely subject to the changeable conditions in nature, but Israel, as a result of the covenant sealed between them and the Lord at Sinai, came under special obligations to the Lord, including this tithing arrangement, and the Lord came under special obligations to them, in that he promised that, if they would live up to their engagements, observe his laws and statutes, to do them, he would bless them in their fields and in their cities, in their flocks, their herds, their crops and all.
Israel, therefore, was to know that God would not fail of his part of the covenant, and that if they lacked any good thing, any temporal blessing, it must be because sin lay at the door; because they had, in some sense or degree, violated their part of the Law Covenant. Consequently the coming of caterpillars, army worms, palmer worms, locusts and grasshoppers upon them meant special chastisements from the Lord, and were special evidences of divine disapproval toward them, while similar things coming upon the world of mankind in general meant no such thing.
In our Lord's day, at the first advent, he called attention to the fact that the holiness class of that day had gotten into a formalistic condition--that they were very exact about their tithes, being careful to tithe the very smallest of seeds: mint, anise and cummin. But he showed that their hearts were still selfish, and that these contributions were not according to the spirit of the law, but rather for an outward show, done vain-gloriously: that so far from having the spirit of tithing, a desire to contribute to the Lord's cause, and to the maintenance of the poor, these so-called holiness people (the "Pharisees") were quite ready to devour the widow's house, taking advantage of her necessities, etc., and that their long prayers were, in keeping with this wrong condition of heart, merely outward display.
Our text calls attention to this neglect of tithes on the part of the Israelites, pointing them to the fact that if they had been faithful to the Lord their granaries would be full instead of empty; their flocks and herds would have been well-favored instead of lean; and their general prosperity would have been much greater. This is along the line of the Scriptural injunction, "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth: and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty." (`Prov. 11:24`.) In our text the Lord calls upon Israel to realize the situation, and restore that which they had withholden, and that then he would pour them out a great blessing, and would "rebuke the devourer," the pests which injured their crops.
SOME APPLICATIONS OF THIS IN NOMINAL SPIRITUAL
Many in Spiritual Israel draw from this Scripture the lesson that Spiritual Israelites should faithfully give a tenth of all their earnings and profits to the Lord's cause. This lesson is preached from pulpits of nearly all denominations and emphasized as obligatory upon their adherents. Such is the case with the Mormons, and as a result millions of dollars flow into their treasury, and are used in the propagation of that system of religion or irreligion, as each may be pleased to term it. We see the same method enforced by the "Seventh Day Adventists," with similarly marked results, --hundreds of thousands of dollars pour into their church treasury, and are used in the dissemination of
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literature, in the sending forth of evangelists to all parts of the world, and in the general propagation of their doctrines. We note also a similar tendency in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Already it has engrafted this feature of "Moses' Law" upon their young people of the "Epworth League," those who agree sign a pledge, called "God's Tenth--the pledge of Jacob," which reads: "Of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give a tenth unto thee."
The printed matter before us, descriptive of this tithing system, bears the imprint of the Methodist Book Concern--New York and Cincinnati offices. It proceeds to outline suggestions respecting the manner in which so large a sum should be divided up. It takes as a basis of calculation an income of $1.00 a day, or $300.00 per year, the one tenth of which, $30.00, it appropriates to pastor's salary and various other religious benevolences, but says:--
"Those who are specially interested in some particular benevolence are permitted to use a different ratio for these benevolences, provided one tenth of the income is given. Tithing should be figured from the net income, not the net surplus after living expenses have been deducted. Many examples are before us, where the Lord has proven his promise: 'Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse [etc., our text]'--not only rich spiritual blessings, but temporal as well." [Italics are ours.]
We have not learned what measure of success has attended this effort, but infer that it is considerable; because the denominational papers are now calling attention to the fact that Bishop McCabe is starting a similar tithing scheme for the older Methodists. Some objections are urged against it--that it is going back to the Mosaic Law: but the majority apparently do not recognize clearly the dividing line between the Law Covenant and the New Covenant and are inclined to think the movement a proper one, in the direction of duty.
OUR APPLICATION OF THIS TO SPIRITUAL ISRAEL.
While we believe that such a system may be a powerful influence for good or for evil, as respects the amount of money collected and disbursed; and while we believe also that such systematic giving is a helpful discipline to many of those who contribute, increasing their interest in the cause to which they give, and decreasing their selfishness and worldliness,--nevertheless we are not prepared to advocate this system amongst the Lord's consecrated people; because we find no authority for the tithing system under the New Covenant; and we may preach nor advocate neither more nor less than the laws our God has spoken unto us.
To Christians, begotten of the spirit of adoption to be sons of God, the Lord speaks not as he speaks to servants, saying "Thou shalt" and "Thou shalt not" do thus and so. On the contrary he speaks to us as a father unto his sons. He communicates to us a knowledge of his will and plan, without putting exact limitations upon our acts. He merely places us under the perfect law of liberty--Love; the law which gives us perfect liberty to do all we please in harmony with love to God and man. He who loves much may give proportionately: he who loves little may give little accordingly. Our Lord desires that each should thus show forth his own developments in love. But, shall we consider that this liberty, which we enjoy as "new creatures in Christ Jesus," releases us from all obligations? Shall we consider that because the Lord has not specified that we must give one-tenth of our incomes, as he required of the Jew, under his Law Covenant, therefore we are at liberty to give the one-twentieth, or the one-fiftieth, or one-hundreth part, or nothing, to the Lord's cause?
Yes, we have just that liberty,--that is to say, God will not now withhold from us rain on this account, nor will he send pests as punishments as he did with the Jews under their covenant. Yet surely all who have been begotten of the spirit of adoption, all true sons of God, would rather say: If it were proper that the Israelite according to the flesh should give one-tenth of all his income to benevolent purposes, it is much more proper that we, the spiritual seed of Abraham, who have been still more highly favored than the natural seed, should render some thank-offering unto the Lord our God. And what shall we render unto the Lord? If the Jew, who had much advantage every way over the Gentile, should in all justice devote one-tenth of his income to holy things, how much more should we devote who, by God's grace, have still greater advantages every way--not only greater advantages than the Gentiles, the world, but greater advantages also than the Jew, the natural Israelite? What shall we not render unto the Lord our God, for all his benefits toward us?
The more we consider this matter, the more we might properly be perplexed to know where our giving should end, we who are the recipients of the manifold grace of God--not only of the present life, but also of the promises of the life to come--justification and its joy and peace, sanctification and its rejoicing in hope of a share in divine glory and honor and immortality, and all the good things which God hath in reservation for them that love him. The more our hearts learn to appreciate the blessings of divine favor which have been showered upon us, the more do we feel not only that a tenth would be too little, but that
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a half would be too little, and that our all would be too little for us to render unto our God.
Here the Apostle comes to our relief, and offers a suggestion, saying, "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God [already received] that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (`Rom. 12:1`.) Ah yes! that comes nearer to our reasonable service than anything else we can think of, and yet we realize that even such an offering is far too small, and does not at all counterbalance divine grace and mercy bestowed upon us. Nevertheless, seeing that it is all that we can give unto the Lord, we are glad to have the Apostle's assurance that, presented in the name and merit of our dear Redeemer, God would esteem it holy, and would accept the offering. And so, with rejoicing hearts, we lay our little all upon the Lord's altar in consecration.
However, let us not forget that the "new creatures" were accepted in Christ and adopted to sonship, because they presented themselves to God as living sacrifices to be wholly his and to do only his will in all things. And since he who thus gives himself gives his life and his all, it follows that all who made this covenant of full consecration thereby agreed to give to the Lord more than ten times as much as the Jew agreed to in his covenant. So then the obligation of the true Spiritual Israelite is the greater, not the lesser, obligation of the two, as compared with the Jew. Our obligation not only absorbs all the income and profits on our capital and labor, but additionally the capital, the life, the principal.
But now the question arises, How shall we present ourselves? We have given our all in consecration to the Lord; in what way would he have us render it unto him? He does not wish us to destroy our lives, and thus become dead sacrifices: and if we present ourselves living sacrifices, how little there will be to render to the Lord! As living beings we have certain necessities of our own and obligations toward others (we must support our own lives and the lives and happiness of those who are immediately under our care, in our own families and households): and if we attend to these, how little time will be left for special service of the Lord. Surely, it requires the largest portion of our time and energy to provide the "things needful" of the present life; and thus, to our disappointment, we find that the all that we had laid upon the altar will mean comparatively little by the time that it is rendered to the Lord in special services or contributions, or efforts on behalf of his cause. What shall we do?
Realizing our perplexity, and how unsatisfactory this condition of things would be to those who are of a proper condition of heart, the Lord very graciously informs us of how he accepts the matter. He tells us that he accepts us as living sacrifices, and that this which we have fully and completely devoted or consecrated to him, and which he has accepted, he returns to our care and custody, making us stewards of those things which we have devoted--our time, our influence, our means, our talents--all. We are to do the best we can with these in our Lord's service, and if we do the best we can with them, to glorify him, he accepts the matter as tho every act and every word and every deed were rendered directly in his service, tho the majority of these acts and words and deeds may necessarily be used by us in attending to our own necessities, and the necessities of those depending upon us. How gracious is this arrangement by which we may not only render
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our all to the Lord, but give proper attention also to all the obligations of an earthly kind, and that with greater blessing, realizing that, whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do (as stewards of the Lord, with an eye single to his service, his glory, his pleasement), is accepted of him as done unto him,--as tho it were direct service.
Let us remember also, during this Gospel age the Lord is seeking a peculiar people for a peculiar present and future service. He seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth--from the heart, and not of compulsion. Hence the Lord leaves the Spiritual Israelite free: he does not shower temporal blessings upon those who live up to their covenant, more than upon others, nor does he pour out curses, blights and troubles upon those who violate their covenant more than upon others. He leaves all the "house of sons" thus free, in order that each by his own conduct may manifest the sincerity or the insincerity of the covenant which he made.
Thus all of the sons of God practically pass judgment upon themselves.
This is illustrated in the parables of the Pounds and of the Talents; in these the Master shows talents and pounds recognized as his, entrusted to his servants during his absence. The servant who had not sufficient love for the Master to use what he possessed in his service was reproved, and rejected from further stewardship as unfaithful, unworthy. So all the sons of God under the New Covenant, having presented their all to the Lord, are now only stewards of what they control--principal and increase. They are given a free hand to do with it as they choose: "Ye are not under law [as servants], but under grace [liberty--as stewards]." But at the reckoning day all unfaithful stewards who failed to use their Lord's goods with energy in his service--time, talent, influence, as well as money --will be rejected, put out of further stewardship.
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While, therefore, the Spiritual Israelite of this Gospel age has a greater liberty than had the natural Israelite of the Jewish age, in so far as the express commands of the Lord are concerned, we find that, in proportion as he possesses the spirit of the Lord, he will realize a much greater obligation than his Jewish brother, and where this obligation is realized and appreciated, it will lead to faithfulness, devotion. As with the Jew the Lord did not make the matter of tithing obligatory, in the sense of enforcing it, so with the Spiritual Israelite he does not attempt to enforce his covenant obligation of full consecration, but takes note of our courses in life, as indicative of the measure of our love and appreciation of his mercies and blessings. Yet as God watched over the Israelites, to give earthly blessings, bountiful harvests, etc., to those who were faithful in tithing themselves, so with Spiritual Israel, the Lord watches over us to give us, not temporal, but spiritual bounties and fatness in proportion as we are faithful in presenting our bodies living sacrifices to him. Do we see some stumble and fall from the truth, after they have been once enlightened, and after they have tasted of the heavenly gift and of the powers of the age to come, after they have had much advantage every way? Do we see some feeble and delicate in spiritual health, and ready to be stumbled by the Adversary? If so, we see some who have been unfaithful in rendering unto the Lord their God that which they have covenanted. Or if they seem to have been energetic in his service, and yet are stumbling, we may rest assured that it is because their energies and efforts were to be seen of men, and were not of pure devotion to the Lord.
It is well, of course, that our criticisms should be chiefly turned inward, and that each should question himself, rather than others, on so important a subject as this. We may not always know who are the Lord's, but we may always know that "the Lord knoweth them that are his"--the heart-faithful. And we may be sure that these shall not stumble, tho they be permitted to pass through trials and difficulties which would deceive and stumble, if it were possible, the very elect. To these the Lord will, with every temptation, present also a way of escape; he will succor them because they are his. As the Apostle Peter says, "If ye do these things [fulfil the royal law of love and devotion to God and the neighbor] ye shall never fall; for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."--`2 Pet. 1:10,11`.
"These things," which the Lord's people are to do, because they are begotten of his spirit, and because they are consecrated to his service, are all of them the things of love--the patience of love, the meekness of love, the long-suffering of love, the brotherly-kindness of love, the gentleness of love. These things can abound only in those who have been begotten of the spirit of love, and who, on this account, are already reckonedly dead (and daily dying) to their former selves, and to the selfishness which once ruled them, through inherited depravity by the fall.
Let each reader look, of course, to his own condition of heart, and judge himself whether or not he is rich in the spirit of the Lord, whether or not his soul is fat, whether or not he is growing in grace and in love, as well as in knowledge. If any, on inspection, find such fatness of soul, let him rejoice, yet nevertheless, as the Apostle says, "rejoice with fear," lest the present condition of divine favor and blessing should give place and some earth-born cloud arise to hide the heavenly Father from the eyes of faith. And should any, upon self-examination, find leanness of soul, spiritual poverty, lack of progress, or perhaps a retrogression in spiritual matters, let such remember the Apostle's words,--"Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into [divine] rest, any of us should seem to come short of it."--`Heb. 4:1`.
Nevertheless, let not such be discouraged, but hearken further to the word of the Lord to fleshly Israel, in which he says to them, in the words of our text, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse... and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open unto you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Let all who desire to find blessing in rich and overflowing measure take the Lord at his word, and present to him the offerings which we have already consecrated, and which are not our own, (1) because they were bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, and (2) because recognizing this fact, we solemnly consecrated ourselves to the Lord--presented our bodies living sacrifices in his service. Let us resolve for the future to bring to the full measure of our ability a reasonable service, the rendering of time and influence and talent and means to the Lord and to his cause, to his service;--that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts may be pleasing to him: and let us seek that all our acts of life may be living epistles, read and known of all men, showing forth the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
And not only so, but let us, in proportion as we have been lax or careless in the past, and unfaithful to our vows, put forth renewed energy, to compensate, so far as possible, for past neglect, "redeeming the time," remembering also that "the days are evil" --that the times in which we live are unfavorable,
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that the tendency of our day is towards selfishness and worldliness more and more.
Those whose consecration will be thus revived will no longer find themselves more interested in worldly riches, and the meat that perisheth, than in spiritual riches and the bread of eternal life, but contrariwise will seek and find opportunities, not only for serving the Lord in their ordinary vocation, but also will seek and find special opportunities of service. This will include the rendering to the Lord of thanks and worship. For in proportion as each becomes earnestly desirous of rendering service to the Lord, and of keeping his heart in the love of God, he will find it desirable, yea, necessary, to seek supplies at the throne of grace and the family altar daily, as well as to lift up his heart frequently in private to the Lord, in thankfulness, or in prayer for help in time of need. And likewise, at the close of every day, those who have been desirous of pleasing and serving the Lord will desire to render their report at the close of the day, and to inspect themselves and the efforts which they have made, that thus they may stimulate themselves in the heavenly race, and renew their vows of consecration. Moreover, those who are thus wholly consecrated to the Lord, and seek first or chiefly his righteousness and a share in his Kingdom, will very generally find opportunities for meeting together with others of like precious faith, to encourage one another, and to build one another up in the most holy faith, and so much the more as we see the day drawing on.
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
Question.--(1) To what extent should the Lord's people take literally the statement, "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than raiment?" --`Matt. 6:25-34`.
(2) How much time should the Lord's people take from the duties of life for Bible study and in general the service of the truth?
Answer.--(1) The words of our Lord which you quote must be interpreted in harmony with other declarations of the inspired Word. They must not be interpreted so as to conflict with other statements. Other Scriptures instruct the Lord's people to labor with their hands, that they may have to give to those that have need (`Eph. 4:28`), and this implies forethought and provision in the way of laying up of money earned. Again, the Scriptures declare, "The children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children" (`2 Cor. 12:14`)--implying some reasonable forethought and provision on the part of the parents for those whom they have brought into being. Again, the Apostle implies that the Christian who is fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, will not be slothful in any business (`Rom. 12:11`), and declares that "If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."--`1 Tim. 5:8`.
Interpreting our Lord's words in harmony with these other Scriptures, their sense would be that the Christian is not to take anxious care respecting the future, in matters beyond his control. He is, however, to take thought for every matter that is subject to his control. He is to seek to order his life so that it shall be useful to himself and to others. He is to remember the Scriptural injunction, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise," and is to follow the ant's custom of laying up provision in advance of necessity. This lesson is taught by all of our Lord's providences; for instance, the plowing and the sowing are to be done bountifully and in faith, not doubtfully and fearfully. So also the cultivation is to be done with patience, waiting for the harvest: and when the harvest comes the lesson of nature is that the reaper shall not merely reap what he wishes to eat, and let the next day look out for itself, but that he shall gather into barns, making provision for the winter and for the next seedtime. Our Lord's remark that the fowls of the air do not gather grain into barns, and yet are fed, nor do lilies spin, yet are clothed, was not intended to teach that his followers should adopt the method of the fowls respecting their food, nor expect to be clothed as the lilies. It was intended to teach confidence in God as our care-taker, and thus permit his faithful children to plow and sow in faith, to labor in faith, and to reap with faith, to lay up in store with faith, and to use with faith; recognizing every good gift as of the Lord (through the sun and rain, by plowing and reaping), the same who provides for the birds, tho in a different manner. The Christian is ever to remember that man shall not live by bread alone: that he is not wholly dependent upon his own energies; that his affairs are in the Lord's hands for supervision, and that the promise is, "Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." Putting this confidence in God's supervision of his affairs, while making a true Christian restful in mind, will not make him slovenly, careless or idle in doing with his might what his hands find to do, as unto the Lord.
(2) Duties may at times seem to conflict, but they do not really do so. A Christian's first duty is his
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hearty acknowledgment of his Creator and Lord, in all his ways. His second duty, if he be a husband and father, is toward his wife and children; or if she be a wife and mother, it is toward her husband and children. In the divine arrangement the husband is made the provider of the family, and is not obeying the divine law if he neglect this duty--no matter for what reason, unless it be disability through sickness. Likewise, the wife's first duty is that of care-taker; looking after the comfort and encouragement of her husband and children along the path of duty. The marriage contract, by divine arrangement, comes in as a first mortgage upon every husband's time and upon every wife's time--the demands of this mortgage must be reasonably met before anything can be properly done to or for outsiders.
It is a great privilege for Christians to study the Lord's Word, yet a great deal of study is done to no purpose. Study which is not put into practice in daily life is worse than a waste of time. It is not he that merely knoweth the Master's will, but he who patiently and perseveringly seeks to do the Master's will, that shall be approved and win the crown. Every reasonable opportunity should be used by the Lord's people to obtain a knowledge of the divine plan--even to the extent of sacrificing; but the child of the Lord will be particular to see that it is his own conveniences and comforts that he is sacrificing, and not chiefly the conveniences and comforts of others. The Bible study which is done merely at the expense of others is a sign of selfishness rather than a sign of a rich indwelling of the Lord's spirit of love.
To make our studies of the divine plan as profitable as possible, we should spend as much time daily in dispensing the truth to others as we spend in seeking to feed ourselves, and Christian experience proves the truth of the words of Scripture, "He that watereth shall be watered also himself:" so that gradually the servant of the Lord will become more and more interested in handing forth the truth to others and finding that his own growth in knowledge and in grace came either in preparing to dispense the truth to others or while dispensing it to them. A state of lethargy, indolence, etc., respecting the duties of life, and respecting opportunities for presenting the truth to others, is a sure indication of spiritual poverty. It is well that all of the Lord's people keep ever before their minds the inspired words, "Not slothful in business, fervent [warm, zealous] in spirit, serving the Lord."
As to the amount of time each can devote, no rule can be laid down except that of fervency of spirit. One fervent in spirit will be serving others temporally and spiritually nearly all the time--with his might, as his hand finds to do.
Question.--Who is the "spoiler" denounced in `Isa. 33:1`--"Woe unto thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled"? Do you consider that this verse is in any sense applicable to the present time of harvest?
Answer.--The connections seem to associate this with the coming great time of trouble. No doubt when the time of trouble is fully on or nearly over it will be very easy to distinguish who is referred to by this verse. It does not seem easy to distinguish with certainty at the present time.
Question.--Please give a thorough definition of the words sheol and hades.
Answer.--We hope to furnish such a definition in the fifth volume of the DAWN series, now in preparation.
Question.--Do you consider the history of Joseph, recorded in Genesis, as typical?
Answer.--Yes; to our understanding Joseph was a type--various features in his history seem to be separate and distinct pictures of the experiences of Christ, Head and body. (a) Joseph was hated of his brethren, beloved by his father; so with Christ. (b) Joseph was cast into the pit by his brethren, as Jesus went into the pit of death for his brethren, the Jews. (c) Joseph's life was sold into servitude to the Egyptians, but became ultimately the means of the preservation of his entire family, as well as of the Egyptians; so Christ gave himself a ransom not only for his brethren but also for all mankind; and during the Millennial age will furnish "bread of life" to all who famish for it. (d) Joseph was sacrificed, sent to prison, because of his purity; so our Lord Jesus, "holy, harmless, undefiled," was treated as a transgressor, and went into the prisonhouse of death. (e) Joseph was delivered in due time from the prison, and made the associate of the king upon the throne of Egypt; so our Lord Jesus was raised up from the prisonhouse of death by the glory of the Father, to be set at his right hand in the glory of power, on the throne of earth; agent and representative of the Great King for the blessing of all the families of the earth, typified by the Egyptians.
Question.--Do you understand from the prophecy of `Ezekiel 40:40-46`, that sacrifices of animals will be resumed after the establishment of Christ's Kingdom and when Israel is again in Palestine?
Answer.--The "better sacrifices" of the Gospel age having taken place beforehand, we think it unlikely that typical sacrifices will be restored. We consider it more probable that antitypical sacrifices are referred to--the broken and contrite hearts of the people, and their consecration to the Lord's service being thus represented. However, we are to remember that God considered these typical sacrifices of bulls and of goats a good method of presenting important truths to the attention of fleshly Israel, and we can see that if such sacrifices were restored now, they would have much more force and meaning to similar classes than they had before their antitypes had come. We may not, therefore, be sure that the Lord will not adopt some such plan as this of instructing the ignorant masses of mankind, as preparatory to higher lessons-- as illustrations of spiritual things.
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"UNTO THE UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE EARTH."
MY DEAR SIR AND BROTHER:--Will you allow me, in the spirit of love and humility, to call your attention to two or three scientific errors which have crept into your papers?
Z.W.T., Mar. 1, '97, p. 74, column 1, says, "the healing may be said to have been in a natural way by the removal of the injured cornea." If the cornea itself were removed, the anterior chamber of the eye would be open, and with the consequent exposure of the iris, pupil and lens, the eye would inevitably be destroyed. The removal of the injury to the cornea, in a natural way, would probably be effected by the dried exudation from the inflamed structures (scab or scale) falling off.
[The EDITOR acknowledges, freely, that he should have added the word portion and thus have said--"by the removal of a portion of the injured cornea." Thanks for the correction.]
Z.W.T., June 1, '98, p. 172, column 2, says,-- "As it was the full of the moon, a solar eclipse could have lasted but a few minutes at most." That is an unfortunate expression, for at the full of the moon a solar eclipse is an impossibility. A solar eclipse is only possible at the time of new moon, and owing to the varying rates at which the two bodies travel it is not possible under the most favorable circumstances for a total eclipse to last longer than seven minutes, and an average eclipse is two or three minutes only. The most favorable circumstances are, (1) The sun at greatest distance from the earth, i.e., the earth at aphelion; (2) the moon at least distance from the earth (at perigee); and (3) the observer must be on the central line of totality.
[We are at a loss to understand how this statement crept in and thought to have corrected it in our next issue: we concluded not to do so, thinking that few of our readers would notice the error, and that those who had noticed it would recognize it as a "slip of the pen." We should have said--"As it was at the full of the moon, a solar eclipse even for a few moments was an impossibility."--EDITOR.]
In Z.W.T., Oct. 15, '95, p. 241, column 1, and in tract No. 40, p. 3, line 4, it is stated:--"The heart whose valves in turn propelled them to every part of the body." The function of the valves is not to propel, but to stop, the current of blood. It is the strong muscular heart wall itself which, contracting, forces the blood out of its cavities into the vessels, and the blood pressure thus produced shuts down the valves, closing certain orifices, to prevent the backward flow of the blood. In sending out this excellent tract I am taking the liberty of erasing the two words "whose valves" and substituting "which" in their place.
[Thanks for this correction also: our thought was that the heart is a pump with necessary valves. We will correct our next edition of Tract No. 40 to read-- "The heart as a pump in turn propelled them to every part of the body."--EDITOR.]
I am sure your large heart will easily bear with me, as I call your attention to these points, and my only reason for doing so is that some readers, I fear, may reject your more precious Bible expositions because they detect an error in your science.
[Fortunately, dear Brother, the EDITOR has never laid claim to infallibility on scientific or other matters. He is on the contrary pleased to have honest criticism from any quarter--appreciating it specially when it comes from "brethren" and in a brotherly, loving spirit. We strive to exercise great care that our every utterance may be as the Scriptures direct--"as the oracles of God." (`1 Pet. 4:11`.) The EDITOR can scarcely hope that these three are the only errors and "slips" of his pen, in the publications of the past twenty years, and requests that if you or other readers note other errors worthy of correction you will kindly communicate them.]
You may like to see the circular letter, 5,000 of which I have had printed, and which I am sending out to all missionaries in China, Japan, Corea and Siam. I enclose a copy.
[Our readers are interested in all efforts to serve the Truth to others--we therefore print Brother Randle's Circular Letter in full.--EDITOR.]
"There has arisen a witness for God and his Christ, an expositor of Bible truth, such as may be safely said has not hitherto appeared.
"The question is, 'Is this man's testimony of God?' I believe it is. He claims little, but he teaches much. He teaches that the conflicting creeds of Christendom are out of harmony with God; and that even some of the most cherished doctrines regarded as orthodox, are wrong. If what this man writes is true, he is the veritable John the Baptist of this age, or at least the voice of one crying in witness to the second presence (not coming) of the Son of God.
"If his interpretations are true, he is 'that servant' now engaged in 'giving meat in due season to the household of faith.'--`Matt. 24:45,46`.
"It is of course a very easy thing to see error in the teaching of other churches than that to which we belong. The Episcopalian sees the Nonconformist as astray from the main track of truth, the Baptist recognizes the mistakes of Methodism, the Brethren condemn both these churches, while the Presbyterians regard the last-named as distinctly misled, and so it is more or less all round. The greatest difficulty of all is to detect one's own errors of Christian doctrine and practice. We are (generally speaking) all of us, so sure that we have the Scripture interpretation correct, and are so confident of our own position, that for one to call anything in question is an offence. That branch of the Christian church to which we belong is much more frequently determined by the accident of our natural birth, than by the circumstance of our regeneration.
"Can it be within the bounds of possibility, that the views commonly held as orthodox are mistaken
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ones, just as was the case with Israel at Christ's first appearance? Read 'MILLENNIAL DAWN' and see. We think the Jews were terribly mistaken to reject Christ as they did. Are we quite sure we have got hold of the truth just as God means it? Read 'MILLENNIAL DAWN' and see. Either the author of DAWN is wrong or we are. Of course it is easy,--perhaps all too natural, --to rashly conclude the author of DAWN must be wrong. Still it would be safer to examine his testimony and the Scriptures, to see if these things are so.
"How every age that has ever lived before us has failed to see the hand of God at work at the time; and as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be in the days of the coming (presence) of the Son of Man.
"God gives his evidence in strange ways, emphatically not in the way commonly expected.
"I therefore beg all who are desirous of possessing the pure gold of God's truth, to examine what this servant of God has written. The most important are four volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN, which show the character, circumstances, and time, of the coming Kingdom of God. It may be that some will feel inclined to lightly toss this aside without much thought (as I did myself six years ago). I beg you do not so. If you hunger for God's truth, the living bread, at least read carefully the first volume of 'MILLENNIAL DAWN.'" [Signed.]
I am also advertising DAWN in local prints, and if I may but be used in bringing some others into the light and joy of the truth I shall be satisfied.
I have sold several of the DAWNS to missionaries, and this week I received a very encouraging letter from one who had bought the first volume a few weeks ago, and he now writes:--
"Please forward me the other three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN. I have been deeply interested in reading the first volume. I am determined by the grace of God to go to the bottom of these questions, cost what they will. If the DAWN teaching is according to God's Word, it will need humility of mind for us to confess how thoroughly we have been mistaken and to retrace our steps."
On the contrary many speak against it, and some with bitterness, but it is (for the most part) those who only hear of it, or only read superficially. But whether few or many receive the truth, our strong confidence is in God's own purpose regarding his Word, which he has clearly stated in `Isaiah 55:11`.
My wife and eldest daughter rejoice with me in the light of God's truth now shining. We pray for you, and your colaborers, and for all who love the present truth, that God will graciously preserve us all until the manifestation. I am,
Yours in the love and service of Christ,
HORACE A. RANDLE,--China.
P.S.--Poor WONG CHIN FOO (DAWN, VOL. 4, p. 253) died suddenly of heart failure at Wei Hai Wei on Sept. 13th last. A few weeks before he had visited Teng Chaufu where he first heard of and learned Christianity. He then remarked to a Baptist missionary that "he supposed the most wicked thing he ever did, was to write that letter, 'Why Am I a Heathen?' but he never supposed that it would cause so great a sensation." H. A. R.
"SEND OUT THY LIGHT AND TRUTH, O LORD!"
From earliest childhood the EDITOR has had a deep interest in the heathen, and naturally a deep interest in missionaries. At the early age of seven years he expressed to his mother his intention to become a missionary, and a little later with other Sunday School children contributed his mite to the building of "The
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Morning Star" missionary boat--abstaining from certain table luxuries that he might have the value thereof to contribute as his own donation, that had cost him something and was not merely his parent's gift.
This sympathetic love for the heathen has not abated in all these years; but under the leadings of the Divine Word and providences it took a different turn than he had first intended. As the divine plan of salvation unfolded to him, he saw clearly that the Lord's sympathetic love for the heathen so far from being less than his own was greater. He gradually came to see that God's plan of salvation as he has purposed it in himself, from before the creation of the world, has made abundant provision for "every man that cometh into the world"--that all should "come to an accurate knowledge of the truth"--to a knowledge of him who is "the way, the truth and the life" and by whom alone access to the Father and restitution to his favor and blessing are possible. He came to see, also, that God is operating his great plan methodically, and that, as there was a "fullness of time" in which our Savior should be born, so also there is a "due time" in which the knowledge and blessing flowing from his redemptive sacrifice shall be made effective to all who will accept this favor under the terms of the New Covenant sealed with the precious blood.--`John 1:9`; `1 Tim. 2:4-6`; `Gal. 3:16,29`.
In harmony with this he soon learned from the Word that the Church, the "little flock," "the very elect," who are to win the "prize of the high calling," offered during this Gospel age, are to be but a "first fruits unto God and the Lamb." (`Rev. 14:4`; `Jas. 1:18`.) And the completion of this specially elect Church with the close of the present age will therefore be but the beginning, and not the ending, of the great plan of salvation which God has purposed.--`Isa. 55:9-11`.
In a word, he came to see that in God's great plan the present Gospel age is merely for the selection and education of those whom God purposes to use as his ministers, his missionaries to the world in general, in the next age, the Millennium. These are to be the "royal priesthood," to whom (under Christ the King of kings and Priest of priests) shall be committed the full control of earth during the "times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."--`Luke 12:32`; `19:12-15`; `22:29`; `Jas. 2:5`; `2 Pet. 1:11`; `Dan. 2:44`; `7:18,22`; `Matt. 13:43`; `Rev. 20:4`; `Acts 3:19-23`.
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From this standpoint it soon became evident to him that the duty of the hour is not the uplifting of heathendom,--for which work God has specially appointed a coming age and is specially preparing teachers, who will be granted plenary powers for that work. Accordingly, instead of seeking foreign fields of service, he sought a more and more intimate knowledge of the divine plan from the divine Word--to the intent that he might be a coworker with God in his work. And the due time for revealing to the Church the divine plan respecting its participation with Christ in the blessing of all the families of the earth--"the mystery hid from past ages and dispensations,"* having come, he has been privileged by God's grace to serve this "meat in due season" to many of the Lord's people far and near.--`Eph. 3:3,4,9`; `5:32`; `Col. 1:26,27`; `Rev. 10:7`; `Matt. 24:45`
Further light upon the Word showed that this knowledge is now granted because due, because we have reached the period designated by our Lord as the "harvest" or closing period of this age.* We most firmly believe that this is the "harvest message" which as the Lord's sickle is to gather the ripe "wheat" of the living Church and that all associated with the promulgation of this message are reapers in this harvest, colaborers with the great Chief Reaper--our Lord and Head. He believes that this message and these messengers are figuratively referred to in `Matt. 13:39,41`, as doing a separating work in the Church--gathering the jewels, making ready the bride, the Lamb's wife, for the "marriage,"--gathering the elect from the four winds--from one end of the ecclesiastical heavens to the other.*--`Matt. 24:31`.
If it be argued that the work is insignificant in comparison to the great institutions of Christendom surnamed in the Scriptures "Babylon," we reply: It is God's usual method to choose the weak things, and the things that are despised; that it may be the more manifest that not the arm and spirit of man have accomplished the results, but the arm and spirit of Jehovah --our Lord Jesus and the "spirit of the truth." It may be argued, also, that less than sixteen years of the "harvest" period remain and that the Scriptural indications are that all of the elect will have been found and "changed" probably four years before the harvest ends--before the climax of the great time of trouble. We answer, Yes; but each year puts the present truth into more concrete form and increases opportunities (financially and otherwise) for reaching all who have "an ear to hear" (`Matt. 13:43`); and each year under divine Providence brings the ears of the consecrated --the Watchers, the Jewels--into better condition to hear the Lord's message.--`Rev. 18:4-8`.
Here, for instance, are the missionaries in far off China and Japan having this "harvest" message served to them by a dear brother in their midst. We have no idea that all missionaries have the true missionary spirit; but undoubtedly some of them have: and all such having ears to hear will surely hear, and be gathered by the truth out of sectarian bondage and the slavery of error and fear into the blessed liberty of the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of the truth, the spirit of Love; and into the closer oneness with our great Head which accompanies a knowledge of the truth to the faithful. May the Lord richly bless dear Brother Randle's efforts to serve the truth to others--more than compensating him for his consequent trials and self-sacrifices.
Nor have we been idle as respects foreign missionaries, for during the past year we sent out large numbers of TOWERS and tracts to English speaking missionaries in all parts of the world.
And as it relates to "foreign missions," but of another kind, we here mention that the past year has witnessed considerable progress of the truth in Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark, and an entrance has been effected into France and Norway. We hope for additional coworkers (Colporteurs) in all these foreign fields as well as here in the home field, which thus far seems to yield the largest returns of "wheat"--under divine providence, previously gathered here from every nation under heaven. All of the Lord's people filled with his spirit must be engaged in this work in some manner. (`Jer. 20:9,10`.) And "he that reapeth [using his abilities and opportunities] receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal." (`John 4:36`.) Therefore, let each one who has tasted of this grace of God be forward to avail himself to his utmost in using his privilege of being a colaborer with his Lord.
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN for Scriptural proofs.
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DIVINE MERCY IN HOSEA'S PROPHECY.
--JULY 2.--`HOS. 14:1-9`.--
"Come, let us return unto the Lord."--`Hos. 6:1`.
FOR THE next six months the International Lessons are in the Old Testament, and begin with the closing words of Hosea's prophecy.
To appreciate the lesson it is necessary that we have at least a general understanding of the time and circumstances under which the prophecy was given. Hosea was a resident and prophet in the kingdom of Israel--the ten-tribe kingdom--during a part of the period in which Isaiah was prophesying in the kingdom of Judah--the two-tribe kingdom. We recall in our lessons of last year (Sept. 4) the death-bed of Elisha, and his instructions to Joash, the king of the ten-tribe kingdom, to smite upon the ground, and his explanation that the smiting of the ground three times with the arrows by Joash represented three victories which he would gain over Syria, effecting the full deliverance of Israel from Syrian control. Those promised victories were gained, and for a time Israel made great strides nationally, extending its borders to very nearly the area of territory controlled by David and Solomon (Judah excepted). This condition of things was favored by dissensions in Egypt and in Assyria, the greater nations near. The Lord manifested his favor to Israel in token of the measurable reformation begun by Joash by giving
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bountiful harvests also, so that the land became very wealthy and prosperous from the large crops, as well as from the spoils taken in war.
But these prosperities, which were in full accord with the covenant God had made with Israel at Sinai (`Deut. 28:1-14`), instead of leading the people back to God and to full obedience to their covenant, seem to have had before long a very different effect. Soon they forgot that the prosperities were the results of divine favor, and, in the language of Scripture, the nation "went whoring after other gods." Undoubtedly one thing which especially made the false religions attractive was the fact that their worship and ceremonies gave loose reign to licentiousness, and even gave a certain sanctity to it. Thus their great prosperity led Israel into idolatry and into general licentiousness and corruption, worse, probably, than at any other period of their history, and this led to their utter rejection by
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the Lord, delivering them to the Assyrians, who took the entire nation captive.
Hosea's prophesying was at the time of Israel's depravity, just preceding their captivity. Through the Prophet the Lord appeals to Israel, pointing out his loving tender care for them from the very beginning of their history as a nation, pointing out their backsliding attitude, their falseness to him--picturing them as a false wife and God himself as a most merciful husband.
It would appear that the Lord permitted Hosea to have certain very trying experiences in domestic troubles, with a view to impressing upon his mind the Lord's view of Israel, his spouse. The Prophet, in the very opening of his book, declares that the word of the Lord first came unto him in connection with his domestic trials. The Prophet had married, seemingly by divine providence, an attractive girl, named Gomer, whom he dearly loved, and who at the time of their marriage was quite probably true and worthy of his affection--or it is possible to understand from the account that the Prophet, loving her, hoped to fully reclaim her,--but, infected with the general immorality of the time, she proved unfaithful, so that only her first child was recognized by the Prophet. The names given to the succeeding two show that the Prophet did not acknowledge them. Dr. George Adam Smith remarks: "Hosea does not claim the second child, and in the name of this little lass, Lo-ruhamah, 'She that never knew a father's love,' orphan, not by death, but by her mother's sin, we find proof of the Prophet's awakening to the tragedy of his home. Nor does he own the third child, named Lo-ammi, 'Not my people.' That could also mean, 'No kin of mine.' Once at least, but probably oftener, Hosea had forgiven the woman, and until the sixth year she stayed in his house. Then either he put her from him, or she went her own way. She sold herself for money, and finally drifted, like all of her class, into slavery."
The Prophet's sympathy went out to his wife to the extent that he redeemed her from slavery, as recorded. (`3:1-3`.) These severe experiences through which the Prophet passed seemed to be preparing him to voice the Lord's sentiments of tender compassion to Israel, his espoused one, who so frequently and persistently went after other gods. If the prophecy of Hosea be read from this standpoint its tender compassionate appeals will be appreciated as from no other.
Our lesson is the conclusion of the matter. First, the Prophet is represented as addressing the people: "O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity; take with you words and turn to Jehovah"--words of contrition, promises of reformation.
Then Israel is represented as speaking in a repentant attitude, saying: "Say unto him [the Lord], take away all iniquity and receive us graciously: so shall we render the calves of our lips. Assher shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses, neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless find mercy."
This is the attitude of heart in which all "Israelites indeed" throughout this Gospel age are returning to the Lord;--not those alone who are Israelites according to the flesh, but those also who are called to fill up the elect number from every nation under heaven; to become members of the holy nation, the peculiar people, by becoming the Bride, the Lamb's wife. The Lord has indeed graciously received them, and has put away their iniquity--through the blood of the cross.
The Lord's answer is recorded in `vss. 4-6`, saying, "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely [unmeritedly], for my anger is turned away from him. [Spiritual Israel is not received of Jehovah as a woman, but as a man, of which Christ Jesus our Lord is Head and his Church the members of his body, accepted in the Beloved.] I will be as the dew [refreshment] unto Israel; he shall grow [thrive] as the lily [whose growth in Palestine is remarkable], and cast forth his roots as Lebanon [the trees of Mt. Lebanon had very sturdy roots]. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as an olive [everlasting], and his fragrance as Lebanon." Thus does the Lord picture the development and establishment of his true Israel, the Christ.
Then follows a picture of the blessings of the Millennial reign of Spiritual Israel as God's Kingdom; the revival and restitution of Israel and of all the nations is symbolically pictured, saying:
"They that dwell under his shadow shall return [have restitution]; they shall revive as the corn and flourish as a vine, and the fragrance thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim [one of the names given to the ten-tribe kingdom, and also symbolically used sometimes in referring to nominal churchianity] shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him [the great Prophet--`Acts 3:22`] and observed [obeyed] him; I am like a green fir tree [an evergreen tree,--symbolically representative of the possession of everlasting life]. From [in] me is thy fruit found;"--the fruits of the spirit.
In conclusion, attention is called to the fact that not by earthly wisdom and intelligence can these predictions be comprehended. They shall be understood only by those who are taught of the Lord with the true wisdom which cometh down from above: as the Prophet declares, "The [truly] wise shall understand, but none of the wicked shall understand."--`Dan. 12:10`.
We give the translation of this last verse from Leeser, as follows: "Who is wise that he may understand these things? intelligent, that he may know them? For righteous are the ways of the Lord, and the just shall walk in them [understand them], but the transgressors will stumble through them [misapprehend them]."