ZWT - 1899 - R2411 thru R2552 / R2515 (209) - August 15, 1899
(Use your Browser's "Find" or "Search" option to search within this page)
Vol. XX. AUGUST 15, 1899. No. 16.
SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER ISSUES
Will Be Millennial Dawn, Volume V.
Views from the Watch Tower........................211
The Peace Conference Failure..................211
Presbyterianism in Scotland...................212
Conventions--Boston and St. Louis.................212
Poem: The Only Begotten...........................213
"Unto the Pure all Things are Pure"...............214
Some Antidotes for Heart Impurity.............215
"Give to Every Man that Asketh"...............217
"I, if I be Lifted up, will Draw all Men".....218
Encouraging the Temple Builders...................219
"My Grace is Sufficient for Thee".................221
An Interesting Letter.............................224
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.
GOD AND MAN.
MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. V.
We have pleasure in announcing that Volume V. of MILLENNIAL DAWN series is now on the press. It will (D.V.) be sent to all paid up subscribers to ZION'S WATCH TOWER (including those who have requested credit for the year, and those who are receiving it free as the Lord's poor)--as September 1st and 15th, and October 1st and 15th issues of this journal. There will be no other issues for the four dates named. If you do not receive a copy before Sept. 30th it will not be our fault. If your account differs from ours be sure to let us know all particulars. Notice the tag on the wrapper. Jun. 9 means that your subscription is settled for only to and including June, 1899--that you are in arrears. Dec. 9 means that your subscription is settled for, up to the end of the year and should be renewed in December or written about.
This volume will, we believe, furnish an abundance of spiritual food for the two months (September and October). It should be thoroughly masticated, that it may be well digested and give strength to head and heart and hand. It is our prayer and hope that it may be a great blessing to the readers of this journal; and that through them as fellow servants of our one Lord and Master it may honor him and bless many.
::R2515 : page 211::
VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
THE PEACE CONFERENCE FAILURE.
CZAR NICHOLAS II. was no doubt greatly disappointed with the barren result of his recent Peace Conference. Called specially to induce a general disarmament on the part of civilized nations and for the institution of national courts of arbitration, the convention may be said to have failed utterly, in that the question of disarmament was totally rejected by Germany and therefore of necessity by her neighbors. The German emperor evidently realized that the disbandment of his great army would not only leave him with less power, but would throw another million able-bodied men upon Germany's labor market seeking employment, further depressing wages and precipitating a panic and anarchy. He did the wisest thing for the present: but no human wisdom can long avert the impending time of trouble when there shall be no hire for man nor hire for beast, and no peace to him that goeth out nor to him that cometh in, because every man's hand shall be against (in competition with) his neighbor. (`Zech. 8:10`.) The growth of intelligence is being fostered by the schooling connected with these standing armies, and labor-saving machinery is fast bringing these to the place where their increased intelligence will make them the more discontented and the less willing to step backward into serfdom at the command of giant Trusts.
Of the twenty-seven nations represented at the Conference, sixteen agreed to favor and to seek to promote arbitration in settlement of national disputes, and about as many agreed to certain modifications of cruelties of war, which they evidently do not hope are ended. How evident it is that not humanity and not councils, but God who shall "speak peace to the Gentiles [the nations]."--`Zech. 9:10`.
And his voice commanding "Peace" will be in a very different tone from what is generally expected. --In tones that will shake not only the earth [social structure] but also the heavens [the ecclesiastical structure], he shall, by that awful time of anarchy when all the selfish passions of mankind shall be let loose, say--"Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the Gentiles, I will be exalted in the earth."--`Psa. 46:8-10`.
"KNOWLEDGE SHALL BE INCREASED"--AND "THERE
SHALL BE A TIME OF TROUBLE SUCH AS WAS
NOT SINCE THERE WAS A NATION."
Another illustration of the fact that the impending trouble is being hastened and not hindered by education, comes to our knowledge. The security of the past was due, less to the fact that men were better in olden times than now, than to the fact that general intelligence being less men did not so well know how to do evil. A general increase of knowledge not accompanied by a conversion to righteousness and subjugation to the law of Love is dangerous at the present time. The time for such general enlightenment will come safely when the Kingdom of the Lord has been established and when its iron rule will hold in check the evilly-disposed, and teach them lessons of swift retribution.
The illustration of this subject is again in Russia, where, as noted a short time ago, the privileges of high-school and college education were greatly restricted by government authority. Now we clip the following respecting the unrest of the educated classes in Russia from the London Spectator:--
"The signs of unrest in Russia multiply. Apart from the local insurrections caused by the prevailing
::R2515 : page 212::
scarcity, which in some places, notably Kazan, are serious, there are the artisan troubles which we noticed last week; and now the University students are in mutiny. Their real grievance is the brutality with which every expression of their feelings is suppressed by the Cossack police, who strike them with their whips, arrest, and otherwise maltreat them. The students have combined to protest against this treatment, and between their strikes and expulsions thirty thousand young men have left the universities, whose doors are closed in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kieff, Kharkoff, Odessa, Kazan, Tomsk and Warsaw. The female students will, it is stated, follow the example of the men, and are much more dangerous, as they at once become revolutionaries. Indeed, there would seem from some documents published to be small revolutionary parties embedded in the movement. As each student has many families interested in his success, the matter is a serious one for the government, which once again finds itself in collision with the whole educated class. Nothing will, or can, happen in Russia until the military class is discontented, or the Empire finds a reforming Czar, but no government likes to feel itself hated by the class, from which, after all, it must draw all its own agents. There is, however, no remedy to be perceived, except through the Emperor, and Nicholas II., tho he wishes thoroughly well to his people, has no strength of initiative."
PRESBYTERIANISM IN SCOTLAND.
The claim is often set forth that Presbyterianism is drifting from its ancient moorings: and we regard this as having both a favorable and unfavorable aspect. It is favorable to the intelligence and heart of these people to find increasingly large numbers of them unwilling to admit the unreasonable side of the doctrine of election--that God predestinated the torture of hundreds of millions of his creatures before their creation and made provision for it by the creation of a vast torture-chamber called "hell" and the preparation of vast quantities of fuel for their torture. It is unfavorable when we find them drifting toward infidelity--the rejection of Christ's redemptive work and the gospel set forth in the Bible--under the influence of a Higher Criticism and Evolution doctrine. And it appears that this movement is not confined to this country. An evidently well informed writer in the N.Y. Tribune says of this progress in Scotland,--
"Professor Briggs would not have been molested in the church founded by John Knox. On the contrary, he would have found in it scholars and thinkers like-minded with himself. Open-mindedness is the characteristic of the Scottish church. Implicitly, if not explicitly, truth is the first article of its creed, and all the other dogmatic articles of its creed are interpreted in the light of the truth. It is true the biblical scholars and theologians of Scotland are more conservative than those of Germany. But, for all that, some of them would have as hard a time in the American Presbyterian church as Professor Briggs had. Nor is that all. A ritualistic tendency has grown up in the Scottish church that has for its object the restoration of some liturgical and ceremonial features that were discarded at the Reformation. This movement meets with a sympathetic response from the people in the larger towns, and bids fair to revolutionize the church. Only in the remote country districts will one find the typical Presbyterians of the old days, and as they die there are none to take their places. Thus, in spite of its strong government and its uncompromising creed, Scottish Presbyterianism finds itself moving along in the stream of tendency.
::R2516 : page 212::
"But most remarkable of all is the drift away from the severe conception of life and religion that characterized the Scottish reformers. During the last few years there has been a noteworthy change of sentiment in regard to the observance of the Sabbath. Not long ago Principal Story, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Scottish church, preached a sermon on Sabbath observance in Edinburgh. In this sermon he made a strong plea for a less rigid observance of the day, and especially for the opening of clubs, public gardens, museums, art galleries and libraries."
If all the "old fashioned" Christians are dying out of the Presbyterian Church and few or none of this class now being developed, and if this church is a fair sample of all churches, what can we expect? Just what the Master implied when speaking of the present time he said, "When the Son of Man cometh shall he find the faith on the earth?"--`Luke 18:8`.
It is the errors in the creeds of all churches that are causing the overthrow of the truths which they all hold, and which the errors discredit. Let all who have the true light now shining be zealous to lend a helping hand to these dear brethren--especially to the "old fashioned" ones.
::R2516 : page 212::
BELIEVERS' CONVENTIONS--BOSTON AND ST. LOUIS.
TWO MORE Believers' Conventions are called under the auspices of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, as follows:--
At Boston, Mass., commencing Friday, Sept. 22d, at ten o'clock A.M., and lasting three days.
At St. Louis, Mo., commencing Friday, Oct. 6th, at ten o'clock A.M., and lasting three days.
At this writing we are unable to give full particulars respecting the program and speakers, except that the Editor of this journal will probably speak each afternoon, and that Pilgrim McPhail is expected to take part in the Boston Convention, while Pilgrims Draper, Willis and Ransom may be expected at St. Louis. The hours for meetings will be the same for both conventions; viz.,
Friday, 10 A.M., opening "rally" led by representatives
::R2516 : page 213::
of the home churches whose guests we will be, and who promise us a warm welcome. At 2 P.M., a Testimony Meeting. At 3 P.M., a discourse. At 7 P.M., a Testimony Meeting. At 8 P.M., a discourse.
Saturday, 9 A.M., a Testimony Meeting; at 10:30 A.M., a discourse; at 2:30 P.M., a discourse on Baptism, its import and its symbol,--with opportunities offered for its symbolization by any who may so desire. At 7 P.M., a Praise Meeting; at 7:45 P.M., a discourse illustrated by a large Chart of the Ages.
Sunday, at 9 A.M., a Prayer and Testimony Meeting; at 10:30 A.M., a discourse illustrated by the Chart of the Ages; at 2 P.M., Praise Service; at 3 P.M., a discourse; at 7:30 P.M., several speakers, subject, Preserving the Unity of the Spirit in the Bonds of Peace.
All Christians who trust in the precious blood of Christ for justification are cordially invited to convene with us for the study of our Father's Word;-- and especially such of these as have made or desire to make full consecration of their justified selves to the service of the Father through the merit and mediation of our Redeemer-King.
RAILROAD RATES, ETC.
The Boston Convention is timed so as to give us the advantage of the "Congregational Convention," held at the same time. Special tickets should be inquired for at once, that the Railroad agents may have them on hand at proper time. These special tickets will cost full fare going; and will have an agreement attached, pledging the Ry. to sell a return ticket for one-third of full fare for return journey. Thus the round trip rates will be two-thirds of the usual. Get full particulars of your ticket agent.
The St. Louis Convention is timed to take advantage of the low rates granted to the "St. Louis Fair," viz., one fare for the round trip. These tickets will be on sale Oct. 2d to 7th and will be good for return until Oct. 10th. Remember that our Convention date there is 6th to 8th.
Good, comfortable, clean accommodations will be arranged for at the rate of one dollar per day--board and lodging,--two in a bed (fifty cents extra where separate bed is insisted on). WATCH TOWER subscribers too poor to pay these moderate charges will be provided for, if they will request entertainment as "the Lord's poor."
DECIDE AT ONCE AND, IF COMING, NOTIFY US.
This will be the only notification of these Conventions, as there will be no other issue of this journal in this form until Nov. 1, the special issue (DAWN, VOL. V.) taking the place of the Sept. and Oct. issues.
Therefore, decide as quickly as possible whether or not you will attend either of these Conventions. If your decision is to go, write to the Watch Tower Office, heading your letter with the word Convention. Tell us how many there will be of your party--males and females--and whether you desire us to secure $1. a day accommodations for you, or whether you desire provision as the Lord's poor, as above. Also state by what railway you will come and, if possible, the hour of your arrival. So far as possible there will be a Reception Committee to take charge of all comers at trains; and they may be known by their displaying a copy of MILLENNIAL DAWN or the WATCH TOWER. But more than this, your letter will be so answered as to give you full information how to find the lodging and meeting places.
Dear Brethren and Sisters, let all who attend these Conventions go to them full of earnest desire to get good, and so far as possible to do good to others;--full of the spirit of loving devotion and prayer. All such will surely experience a great blessing--a feast of fat things, in fellowship with our Lord and his brethren.
::R2519 : page 213::
THE ONLY BEGOTTEN.
From far in the great aions of eternity,
From space unlimited, unmeasured by the steps
Of worlds, from silence broken only by the voice
Of him, the Self-Existent One, whose skilful word
Created him,* came forth the glorious Son of God.
(O sacred moment! which with shaded eyes we dare
With holy boldness to approach; not with a vain
Desire to see and know what God has hid, but drawn
Thereto by that blest Spirit which in reverence
Delights to search the deep and precious things revealed.+)
O glad Beginning of Creation's early morn!
O glorious Finish of Creation's noon and night!
O blessed Son, begotten of the Father's speech,
Thou Only Well-belov'd, in whom all fulness dwells!
Silence and space alone were found to worship thee!
But deep within the counsels of th' Eternal One
Lay countless hosts whose praise should celebrate the Son;
And to the Son was giv'n prerogative++ to call
Them to existence, in abodes of him prepared,
And crown with happiness each creature in its sphere.
Rich in insignias of his high rank, he still
Delighted in the emblems of humility;
And wore upon his heart the gem obedience,
And clothed his arm with zeal, his feet with haste, to do
The holy will of Him who loved and cherished him.
*`Rev. 3:14`. +`1 Cor. 2:10`. ++`John 1:3`.
::R2519 : page 214::
And now reigns silence, solemn, still, as that which on
His natal day received him; for the angels watch,
With awe constrained, while he divests himself of all
His wealth and glory, and becomes a babe; then loud
Hosannas sing, "On earth be peace, good will to men!"
And lovingly they watch him as the perfect man's
Estate he magnifies with like obedience,
Unflinching loyalty and firm humility;
Till, daunted not by Calv'ry's cross and shame, he gives
His life--a ransom for a helpless, dying race.
That awful day the darkened sun and quaking earth
Creation's anguish voiced; but One yet reigned supreme,
Who loved him with the power of infinity,
And in His master-hand the mighty issues held--
The matchless Son had won the title to a throne!
What throne? Could all the boundless universe produce
A worthy coronet for his escutcheon which
Nor honor, glory, shame nor death could mar? Behold,
The heav'nly myriads worship, while the Father crowns
The risen Son--divine,* immortal,+ Lord of all.++
O hail, Immanuel! Prince of life and glory, hail!
Let earth with heaven unite in adoration, praise,
Thanksgiving to thy God, whose attributes thou hast
Exalted, and to thee, whose love and sacrifice
Constrain a race redeemed to endless gratitude!
--R. B. HENNINGES.
*`Heb. 1:3`--Diaglott. +`John 5:26`. ++`Rom. 14:9`.
::R2516 : page 214::
"UNTO THE PURE ALL THINGS ARE PURE."
"Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unfaithful nothing is pure; but both their mind and conscience are defiled: they profess to have known God, but by their works they renounce him, being abominable and disobedient, and to every good work worthless."--`Tit. 1:15,16`.
NOT SINNERS, not the worldly, are thus spoken of by the Apostle, but those who have enjoyed the truth, and who have enjoyed at least the first step in heart-purification, namely, justification; and whose hearts have become defiled through a failure to maintain in them the law of love as the ruling principle. Instead of being filled with love, selfishness, with its defilement, has been received back as the ruling principle of the heart. Such have the spirit of the world, and sometimes exercise it with a much greater degree of animosity than the world exhibits. They are specially ready, as the Apostle intimates, to impugn the conduct and motives of others: being selfish themselves, they attribute selfishness to everyone else: being impure themselves, they attribute impurity to others: having lost the spirit of love which thinketh no evil, their hearts rapidly fill up with selfish, envious, uncharitable, ungodly, unkind sentiments, toward those who are true, sincere and noble.
We have known such to go even to the extreme of impugning the motives of the great Jehovah and our Lord Jesus Christ. Unable to think of love and benevolence as motives for conduct, and accustomed in their own hearts to think merely of selfishness and personal aggrandizement as motives, they view the divine course from this standpoint, and esteem that God was moved by pride to recover man from sin and death, or by vanity, to show what he could do. They claim that our Lord Jesus was moved by selfish motives, of self-gratification, honor, increase of power, in becoming our Redeemer. They think of the loyalty of the angels from a selfish standpoint, as in hope of advancement, or in fear of punishment. Who can bring a clean thought out of an unclean heart? Who can expect benevolence, generous feelings, sentiments or words, except hypocritically, from a heart in which selfishness has the control? Who would expect generous considerations in a mind full of envy and self-seeking?
The Apostle suggests of such that not only their minds become corrupted, but also their conscience; so that they will do evil, speak evil, think evil, and yet their consciences do not reprove them; because their consciences and minds work in harmony, and, as the Scriptures declare, they become blinded, self-deceived. What a terrible condition this is, and how careful all of the Lord's people should be, not only to have pure hearts, pure minds, but also to keep their consciences very tender, in close accord with the word of the Lord. This condition can only be maintained by judging ourselves, and that strictly and frequently, by the standard which God has given us, his law of Love.
::R2517 : page 214::
"I want the first approach to feel
Of pride or fond desire;
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire." (2/19 Manna)
As the Apostle points out, those whose minds become impure, poisoned by ambition or pride or selfishness, the spirit of evil, profess to have known God they are apt to profess as loudly as ever, sometimes, indeed, becoming boastful of how much they know of God, and of his Word, and of how wise they are as respects its interpretation. Not by boasting or professions, therefore, can we always judge who are of the pure minds and of good consciences, and in full harmony with the Lord. Rather by their fruits we shall know them, as the Master said--by their works, as the Apostle here points out. If any profess to know God, and yet by their works renounce him, we are fully justified in questioning whether or not they may not be self-deceived, whether or not their consciences,
::R2517 : page 215::
as well as their minds, may not have become defiled.
To renounce the Lord in our works, does not necessarily mean a resort to murder, robbery, licentiousness, etc. It means rather, in the beginning at least, that from the hitherto good fountain of a cleansed or renewed heart or will, from which issued purity, truth, sweetness, kindness, encouragement and refreshment for all who drank of its waters, in the home and family and neighborhood and amongst the Lord's people, would issue instead bitter waters, producing bitter feelings, watering and nourishing roots of bitterness, stirring up malice, envy, hatred, strife, etc. No wonder the Apostle says of such that they are abominable! All who have the spirit of the Lord must abominate the spirit of evil, however surprised and grieved they may be to find it issuing from one who previously gave forth sweetness, love, kindness, good works.
As the Master declared, if the professedly sweet fountain sends forth bitter waters, we may know that there is something wrong, something defiling, in the fountain, and are not to deceive ourselves respecting its waters, and to partake of its bitterness.
Commenting along the same line the Apostle James declares, "If any man among you seemeth to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, that man's religion is vain." Because the tongue is the index of the heart, because "out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh," therefore the unbridled tongue speaking selfishly, enviously, bitterly, boastfully, slanderously, proves that the heart from whose fullness these overflow is unsanctified, unholy, grievously lacking of the spirit of Christ,--hence, whatever religion it may have attained is thus far vain, as that heart is not saved nor in a salvable condition. No wonder the Apostle comments in our text, that such are "disobedient:" only by disobedience to the law of the New Covenant, Love, could anyone reach such a condition of heart and conscience defilement, after he had been purified through faith in the precious blood, and consecrated to the Lord.
The final statement of our text is that such an one, having lost the spirit of the truth, and having obtained instead a spirit of bitterness, rancor, evil, having a poisoned or defiled mind and conscience, is "to every good work worthless." No matter what work such an one might undertake to do, it would surely be spoiled, because the spirit of evil, the spirit of pride, the spirit of selfishness, the spirit of malice and envy, are so violently in opposition to every feature of righteousness and goodness and truth and love, that there can be no peace, no cooperation between them. And this reminds us of our Lord's words, to the effect that those who are his people and who have his spirit, are "the salt of the earth,"--preservative, so long as they have this spirit; but, as he suggests, if the salt lose its saltness--if the Christian lose those peculiar features of the spirit of Christ which constitute him different from the world, separate from the world, and a salting or preservative quality in the world--if he should lose these, what?--he would be worthless as bad salt, "to every good work worthless."--`Tit. 1:16`.
What course should be pursued by those who find themselves possessed of impure minds,--minds inclined to surmise evil rather than good, envious minds, selfish, resentful, bitter, unforgiving, minds which love only those that love and flatter them? Is there any hope for these? Would God not utterly reject such?
God is very pitiful; and it was while all were thus "in the very gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity" that he provided for our redemption. There is hope for all such who see their defilement and who desire to be cleansed.
"His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood avails for me."
But true repentance means both contrition and reformation: and for help in the latter we must go to the Great Physician who alone can cure such moral sickness; and of whom it is written, "Who healeth all thy diseases." All of his sanctified ones, it is safe to say, were at one time more or less diseased thus, and proportionately "worthless" for his service. True, it is worse for those who were once cleansed, if they "like the sow return to the wallowing in the mire" of sin,--but still there is hope, if the Good Physician's medicine be taken persistently the same as at first. The danger is that the conscience, becoming defiled, will so pervert the judgment that bitterness is esteemed to be sweetness, and envy and malice to be justice and duty, and the "mire" of sin to be beauty of holiness. Then only is the case practically a hopeless one.
SOME OF THE GOOD PHYSICIAN'S ANTIDOTES FOR
The Good Physician has pointed out antidotes for soul-poisoning,--medicines which if properly taken according to directions will sweeten the bitter heart. Instead of envy it will produce love; instead of malice and hatred and strife, love and concord; instead of evil-speaking and backbiting and scandal-mongering it will produce the love which thinketh no evil and which worketh no ill to his neighbor; which suffereth long and is kind, which vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, which never faileth and which is the spirit of the Lord and the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Let us all take these medicines, for they are good not only for the violently sick, but for the convalescing and the well. The following are some of the prescriptions:--
::R2517 : page 216::
(1) "He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he [the Lord] is pure."--`1 John 3:3`.
The hope mentioned is that we have been adopted as sons of God, with the promise that if faithful we shall be like him and see him as he is and share his glory. As our minds and hearts expand with this hope and we begin to measure its lengths and breadths, its heights and depths, it surely does set before us the Heavenly Father's love and the Redeemer's love in rainbow colors and we more and more love the Father and the Son because they first loved us. The divine form of love becomes more and more our ideal; and as we seek to reciprocate it and to copy it, the cleansing and purifying of our hearts follows: for looking into the perfect law of liberty--Love--we become more and more ashamed of all the meanness and selfishness which the fall brought to us. And, once seen in their true light as works of the flesh and of the devil, all anger, malice, wrath, envy, strife, evil-speaking, evil-surmising, backbiting and slander become more and more repulsive to us. And finally when we see that such as to any degree sympathize with these evil qualities are unfit for the Kingdom and to every good work worthless, we flee from these evils of the soul as from deadly contagion. Our hearts (wills, intentions) become pure at once and we set a guard not only upon our lips but also upon our thoughts-- that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts may be acceptable to the Lord.
(2) "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works."--`Titus 2:14`.
We might theorize much and very correctly upon how and when and by whom we were redeemed; but this all would avail little if we forgot why we were redeemed. The redemption was not merely a redemption from the power of the grave;--it was chiefly "from all iniquity." And the Lord is not merely seeking a peculiar people, but specially a people peculiarly cleansed, purified. This medicine will surely serve to purge us from iniquity if we are anxious to make our calling and election sure.
(3) "Pursue righteousness, fidelity, love, peace, with all who call upon the Lord with a pure heart." --`2 Tim. 2:22`.
We not only need to start right, but also to pursue a right course. We may not follow unrighteousness even for a moment; whatever it may cost, justice and righteousness must be followed. But here a difficulty arises with some: they do not know how to judge righteous judgment. They are too apt to judge according to rumor or appearances, or to accept the judgment of scribes and Pharisees, as did the multitude which cried, "Crucify him! His blood be upon us and upon our children." Had they followed righteousness they would have seen the Lord's character in his good works as well as in his wonderful words of life: they would have seen that so far from being a blasphemer he was "holy, harmless, separate from sinners:" they would have seen that his accusers were moved by envy and hatred.
And it is just as necessary as ever to follow the Lord's injunction, "Judge righteous judgment," and whoever neglects it brings down "blood" upon his
::R2518 : page 216::
own head and becomes a sharer in the penalty due to false accusers. For as the Lord was treated so will his "brethren" be treated. And the more pure our hearts the less will they be affected by slanders and backbitings and evil-speakings, and the more will we realize that those who have bitter hearts from which arise bitter words are impure fountains in which is the gall of bitterness and not the sweetness of love.
Next comes fidelity, that is, faithfulness. The Lord declares his own fidelity or faithfulness and declares himself a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. And even the worldly recognize fidelity as a grace: and by such it is often given first place; for many would commit theft or perjury through fidelity to a friend. But notice that God's Word puts righteousness first. Fidelity, love and peace can only be exercised in harmony with righteousness; but unrighteousness not being proven against a brother, our fidelity and love and peace toward him must continue, and indeed must increase in proportion as envy and slander and all the fiery darts of the Wicked One assail him "without a cause." This valuable prescription will help to keep our hearts free from the poison and bitterness of roots of bitterness which the Adversary keeps busily planting.
Justice is purity of heart,--freedom from injustice.
Righteousness is purity of heart,--freedom from unrighteousness.
Love is purity of heart,--freedom from selfishness.
(4) "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit [the spirit of the truth] unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart, fervently."-- `1 Pet. 1:22`.
This medicine is for those who have used the other prescriptions and gotten clean. It points out that the purity came not merely through hearing the truth, nor through believing the truth, but through obeying it. And not merely a formal obedience in outward ceremony and custom and polished manner, but through obedience to the spirit of the truth--its real import. All this brought you to the point where the love of the "brethren" of Christ was unfeigned, genuine. At first you treated all with courtesy, or at least without impoliteness;
::R2518 : page 217::
but many of them you did not like, much less did you love them: they were poor, or shabby, or ignorant, or peculiar. But obeying the spirit of the truth you recognized that all who trust in the precious blood and are consecrated to the dear Redeemer and seeking to follow his leadings are "brethren," regardless of race or color or education or poverty or homeliness. You reached the point where your heart is so free from envy and pride and selfishness, and so full of the spirit of the Master, that you can honestly say, I love all the "brethren" with a love that is sincere and not at all feigned.
Now having gotten thus far along in the good way, the Lord through the Apostle tells us what next --that we may preserve our hearts pure,--"See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently [intensely]." Ah, yes, the pure heart must not be forgotten, else it might be but a step from pure love into a snare of the Adversary, carnal love. But the pure love is not to be cold and indifferent: it is to be so warm and so strong that we would be willing to "lay down our lives for the brethren."--`1 John 3:16`.
With such a love as this burning as incense to God upon the altar of our hearts there will be no room there for any selfish, envious thoughts or words or deeds. Oh how blessed would all the gatherings of the "brethren" be, if such a spirit pervaded all of them! Can we doubt that, if it held sway in one-half or one-third or even one-fourth, it would speedily exercise a gracious influence upon all--for righteousness and fidelity and love and peace, and against envy, strife, malice, slanders and backbitings?
Let all the "brethren" more and more take these medicines which tend to sanctify and prepare us for the Master's service, here and hereafter.
::R2518 : page 217::
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
HOW CAN WE "GIVE TO EVERY MAN THAT ASKETH"?
QUESTION.--What is the meaning of our Lord's words in `Luke 6:30`, "Give to every man that asketh"?
Answer.--Our Lord's discourse, of which this is a part, is given more fully, more completely, in `Matt. 5:40-44`. From Matthew's account it would appear that our Lord meant that when we are brought under compulsion, legally, we are to submit gracefully, and not to harbor resentment or grudgings. For instance, he says, "If any man sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat [by legal process], do not refuse him the cloak also." It does not follow that we are to allow him to take coat and cloak, etc., without the process of law-suit and compulsion. But whether we think the legal decision a just or an unjust one, we, as the Lord's disciples, are to be so law-abiding that we will offer not the slightest resistance to the enforcement of the legal decision, tho it take from us everything.
We should interpret `Matt. 5:42`, and `Luke 6:30` in harmony with the foregoing, and assume that the asking means a demand, a compulsion. As for instance, if a highway robber were to "ask" or demand your money (as was much more customary in olden times than now, under present police regulations), surrender it without a fight. That this is the proper view is proven by the preceding statement, "If any man sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat," etc. If the coat were to be given freely for the asking, the injunction respecting the law-suit to obtain it would be meaningless.
The succeeding statement is in harmony also, "From him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." Here the attitude of the borrower stands out in contrast with the attitude of the highway robber, who demands absolute possession. The Lord's followers are to be generously inclined toward all men, anxious to "do good and lend," and to use hospitality without selfishly hoping for return favors. If so situated that an enemy could demand of us our goods, we are to submit; but if so situated that we can resist legally, we are to resist any unjust demands, and compel a suit at law. If the suit at law shall go against us, we are to submit gracefully and heartily. The teachings of this verse seem to be that the Lord's people are to seek to be generous, peaceable and law-abiding under all circumstances and conditions.
WAS THE GOSPEL PREACHED IN ALL THE WORLD
IN PAUL'S DAY?
Question.--Please harmonize `Matt. 24:14` and `Col. 1:23`, with your teachings.
Answer.--The statement of `Matt. 24:14` does not imply that the whole world will receive the gospel and be converted by it, before the end of the Gospel age. Quite to the contrary, it expressly states that the preaching is to be for "a witness to the nations." From the form of your question, it would appear that you consider `Col. 1:6` to mean that the gospel had already been preached to all the world in the Apostle Paul's day. If this be your thought, it is evidently quite incorrect, because, if the gospel had already been preached to every nation at that time, the end of the Gospel age should have come at that time, as our Lord declared, and the Millennial Kingdom should have been set up and Satan been bound eighteen centuries ago. Besides, as we look over all the world to-day,
::R2518 : page 218::
we know that neither now nor at any time in the past has the gospel converted all the world: the most we can say to-day is that now, finally, the gospel has been preached as a witness to every nation--the Bible, which is the gospel message, has been translated into all the national tongues of the world, and thus every nation (through some representatives) has been made acquainted with the letter of God's message, at least; and this is in full agreement with our position that we are now in the "harvest" time or end of this gospel age, and in the dawning of the Millennium.
In respect to `Col. 1:23`, we will suppose that you refer to the clause which says, "The gospel which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven." To assume, as you evidently do, that this implies that the gospel was already preached to every creature under heaven in the Apostle's day, and hence that there would be no need of a presentation of Christ to any in the future, because all have had a full and fair opportunity of knowing of the grace of God in the present life, is a most unreasonable interpretation of the Apostle's words. We submit to you that his meaning is as follows:--
God's grace for over two thousand years was restricted to Abraham and his seed,--the one nation of Israel; and was not sent to any other nation under heaven. (`Amos 3:2`.) And even when the gospel "began to be preached by our Lord," it was restricted to the same "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (`Matt. 15:24`): it was not until Israel had stumbled through unbelief, and been rejected of God (`Matt. 23:37,38`), and after our Lord Jesus had "tasted death for every man," "for the sins of the whole world," and had risen from the dead, "Lord of all," that he authorized the preaching of the gospel to others than the Jews--to the Gentiles. His message was, "Go ye and teach all nations," etc. In harmony with this the Apostle tells us in `Col. 1:23` that the gospel which we have heard is open to every human creature under heaven--there is no longer any restriction of it to the Jews. The difficulty in the translation is in the word
::R2519 : page 218::
to: the proper thought would be better conveyed by the word for. The Greek word here is en, and altho its strict meaning is in, yet it is frequently used in the sense of for, being so translated six times in the New Testament. Instances: "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ." (`1 Pet. 4:14`.) "Well reported of for good works." (`1 Tim. 5:10`.) "Think they shall be heard for their much speaking" (`Matt. 6:7`), etc.
"I, IF I BE LIFTED UP, WILL DRAW ALL MEN."
Question.--What is meant by "lifted up" in our Lord's expression, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me"?
Answer.--The primary thought undoubtedly is our Lord's crucifixion--his lifting up on the cross, as the great sin-offering on behalf of "the sins of the whole world." It is as a result or consequence of this sacrifice that all the blessings which God has purposed and promised shall eventually come to our race. Until the atonement for our sin had been made, nothing permanent could be done for man's release; for the sentence upon him was a death sentence. Our Lord's lifting up was as the antitype of the brazen serpent which Moses lifted up in the wilderness, looking to which the Israelites, bitten by the fiery serpents, were healed,--in type of how the world of mankind, bitten by sin, poisoned and dying, may have life through the exercise of faith in the Redeemer, based upon his great sacrifice--his lifting up as our redemption price.
A secondary thought connected with this passage would be that our Lord's obedience in laying down his life as our sin-offering led directly to his own exaltation to power and great glory, as the Apostle has stated it, "Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,...and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."--`Phil. 2:10,11`.
It is by reason of our Lord's lifting up, in both of these senses, that the blessing is to come to the world. His lifting up as the sin-offering was our purchase-price; his lifting up in exaltation as our great Prophet, Priest and King, is equally necessary to the drawing of the world of mankind, and the resultant blessing upon all who yield to the drawing influence.
While considering this passage, it is well to have a proper thought in mind respecting the drawing. That our Lord is not drawing all men to himself at the present time is evident to every one: moreover, the Scriptures assure us that he is not drawing men at the present time: on the contrary, his own words are that during the present age the Father does all the drawing: "No man cometh unto me, except the Father which sent me draw him." The drawing by the Son will not begin until the drawing by the Father has accomplished its intended purpose. That purpose, as Scripturally expressed, is "to take out of them a people for his name"--to gather out of the world an elect Church as a bride for his Son, to bear the name of Christ, to be his Bride and joint-heir, "members in particular of his body."
When the election of this Gospel age shall have accomplished this purpose, and the Church shall have been glorified, Bride and Bridegroom made one, then will begin the time in which the Son will "draw all men," the world of mankind, as the Father has been drawing the Church during this age. In this work of
::R2519 : page 219::
drawing all men, the Church will be associated with the Lord as "members of his body," of which he is "the head over all, God blessed forever."
It has required this entire Gospel age to lift up, first the Head, and afterward the members of his body, joint-sacrificers with him. When all the sufferings of Christ are ended, and the last member of the body has finished his course in death, then, through the power of the first resurrection (which began with our Lord, and will finish with the change of the last member of his body) the entire Church will be lifted up in the secondary sense, of exaltation, and then will begin the work of drawing the world--pointing all to the great sin-offering finished at Calvary.
That our Lord meant by this expression, "lifted up," more than his own crucifixion is evident from his words, "When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am he." The Jews do not yet know Christ as the Messiah: and this is an additional proof that his words include the lifting up, the crucifying, of all the members of his body--the Church.
The drawing does not mean, as some have erroneously supposed, a compulsory forcing of mankind. Some Universalists have used this passage as tho it supported their contention; but rightly understood it is quite to the contrary. It intimates that the Lord will exert a drawing and helpful influence upon all men, but nevertheless leave their own wills free to act; for he seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth. In proof that the word, "drawing," as used in the Scriptural sense, does not signify compulsion, note well the fact that the Father's drawing during this Gospel age has not been compulsory: it has consisted of enlightenment and help and opportunities which may be either accepted or resisted by all who experience the drawing. Thus we are distinctly told concerning this calling and drawing that "Many are called, but few chosen;" because few make their calling and election sure by obedience to the terms of the call. So, too, it will be during the Millennial age; the light, the opportunities, the general influence of that time, will be so favorable, that "all shall come to a knowledge of the truth" (`1 Tim. 2:4`; `Isa. 11:9`) and to opportunities of harmony with God. And it shall come to pass that the soul who will not hear (obey) that Prophet, Priest and King, then in power, shall be cut off from amongst his people--in the Second Death.--`Acts 3:23`.
::R2520 : page 219::
ENCOURAGING THE TEMPLE BUILDERS.
SEPT. 10.--`HAG. 2:1-9`.
"Be strong, all ye people of the land, saith
the Lord, and work, for I am with you."
HAGGAI'S prophecy dates from a period fifteen years after the return of Israel from Babylonian captivity. In our last lesson we saw the corner-stone of the Temple laid with much rejoicing and hope, but it would appear that the builders soon became discouraged, and practically gave up the work. We are to remember that the work of reconstructing their homes, gardens, etc., would be considerable, and would keep them very busy for years. Besides, a new ruler of the Medo-Persian empire had succeeded Cyrus, viz., Cambyses, and he with his hordes of soldiery had passed through Palestine en route for Egypt, which he conquered, and doubtless both going and returning the large number of poorly disciplined soldiers did considerable looting, and thus discouraged the hopes of those who so confidently looked for a return of national prosperity.
But apparently a considerable portion of the difficulty lay in a lukewarmness toward religion. The people, it would seem, had provided themselves with comfortable houses, gardens, etc., while the Temple, the Lord's house, lay desolate. This is implied in the Prophet's words. (`Haggai 1:4-6`.) Haggai not only came as a reprover of the people's neglect, but also as an encourager to a reformation in this matter. He pointed out to them that their crops were small, and prosperity was lacking, because they had neglected to honor the Lord with their substance. We remember that this was the Lord's covenant with Israel as a nation --that they should have temporal prosperities as a reward for faithfulness to the Lord, and temporal adversities as a punishment for neglect of their religious obligations. Hence the Prophet's words would be recognized by the people as in full accord with the Lord's predictions through Moses. (`Deut. 28:1-42`.) And the appeal seems to have had the desired effect. The people began to realize that in neglecting the Lord's cause, and merely caring for their own temporalities, they had not only dishonored God, but had also justly hindered their own temporal prosperity. In consequence, a revival of religious interest followed, and the Temple reconstruction began again.
Many have failed to note the distinct difference between God's covenant with fleshly Israel and his covenant with Spiritual Israel, and therefore are inclined to apply the above reasoning to Christian people of the present time, and to say that if anyone is not prosperous financially and socially it is an indication of his lack of religion and of divine disfavor. But the very reverse of this is frequently true now. If we see an individual, or a company of individuals, very prosperous in temporal things, experience would lead
::R2520 : page 220::
us to question whether or not the prosperous ones were living as near to God as when they were less prosperous, and whether or not their prosperity might imply extra danger from "the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches."--`Mark 4:19`.
True, riches do not in every case indicate worldliness. Apparently the Lord occasionally finds some earnest and faithful children to whom he can entrust a stewardship of riches for the furtherance of his cause, without injury; but observation shows that such instances are rare, and that as a rule not many great, not many rich, not many wise, not many learned, hath God chosen, but the poor of this world, rich in faith, to be heirs of the Kingdom.--`1 Cor. 1:27`.
If it be inquired, then, Wherein is the parallelism which we should expect to find between God's dealings with fleshly Israel under the Law Covenant, and his dealings with Spiritual Israel under the New Covenant? we answer, The parallelism is there, but on a higher plane. The Spiritual Israelite who is faithful to God will grow rich spiritually in deed and in truth, but if unfaithful to God he will grow poor spiritually in deed and in truth. And those who are poor in temporal things may be rich in spiritual things, but in any case will find that "godliness with contentment is great gain"--true riches.
The date of Haggai's prophecy is given as the second year of the reign of Darius (`1:1`), but this Darius was not the one who succeeded Belshazzar, but Hystaspes, who succeeded Cambyses.
`Haggai`'s message, as presented in the `first chapter`, had evidently aroused an interest in religion, as intended; and so we find that the `second chapter`, of which our lesson is a part, is in the nature of an exhortation and encouragement to "the people of the land." And by the way, this expression, which fifteen years before was considered applicable to the foreigners residing in Palestine, is now applied to the returned exiles; they were henceforth the people of the land,--God's people in the Land of Promise. The encouragement, extended to the governor, the chief priest, and the people in general, was an exhortation to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might; and the basis of the encouragement was in the declaration, "I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts."
It is a mistake to suppose that God's people always need a berating. It is well to remember the weaknesses and discouragements with which all contend, and to administer the oil and wine of consolation and encouragement. We are to remember that when the Lord's people are weak in confidence in themselves is the most hopeful time to cultivate in themselves and each other a spirit of reliance upon the Lord and confidence in him. Fain would we say to the Lord's spiritual children these words of the Prophet, "Be strong, saith the Lord, and work, for I am with you."
It is when the Lord's people begin to feel that the Lord is afar off, and that they are depending on themselves or on each other, and when they realize their weaknesses, that discouragement is apt to creep in-- especially upon those who, having returned from mystic Babylon, are seeking to build again the spiritual Temple, the Church, the Temple of the living God. There are many temptations to these to attend to earthly affairs, to build their own reputations and earthly prosperity, and to neglect the great work for which ostensibly they came out of Babylon. Let all such take courage from the Word of the Lord, through Haggai, "I am with you; be strong and work." To those who have no interest in the work the message respecting the Lord's presence will be undesirable; but it encourages and strengthens the truly devoted who are merely discouraged by the fightings without and within.
The Lord, through the Prophet, called the attention of the Israelites to the fact that he had made a covenant with them after they had come out of Egypt, assuring them of his willingness to perform it; and that his spirit, his power, his energy, was in their midst to guide, to overrule and to bless, and on this account they should not fear nor be discouraged. And if that Law Covenant, given at the hands of Moses, and ratified with the blood of bulls and of goats, was a cause of encouragement to fleshly Israel, much more should Spiritual Israel remember the New Covenant, and its new Mediator, who ever liveth to make intercession for us, and to regard our welfare at the throne of the heavenly grace; and the precious blood by which this New Covenant was ratified. Spiritual Israel may well say, I will not fear; for if God so loved us while we were yet sinners, much more now that we are accepted in the beloved are we the special objects of divine care and grace.
The message of `vss. 6-9` was doubtless considerable of a riddle to the Israelites who heard it. It seemed an extravagant statement; indeed, it was so, if applied to the house which they were seeking to reconstruct. But the holy spirit, through the Apostle, shows us that this prophecy did not relate wholly nor even specially to the literal Temple at Jerusalem, but to the symbolic Temple, the Temple of God, "which temple are ye"--the Church of the living God, whose names are written in heaven. This Gospel Church is the "latter house" or Temple, Spiritual Israel, as the former house was natural Israel, represented in the natural Jerusalem and its Temple. Ours is the New Jerusalem and our Temple is being built by the new
::R2520 : page 221::
Master-builder himself, as it is written, "Ye are his workmanship." (`Eph. 2:10`.) The Apostle shows us that Christ Jesus himself is the great Corner-Stone of this house of sons, and that all of the faithful followers of Christ are being shaped, fitted, polished, prepared, as "living stones," for places in this antitypical Temple, whose builder and maker is God.--`1 Pet. 2:7`; `Heb. 11:10`.
It is only when we get a glimpse through the New Testament of the glory, honor and immortality which shall attach to the great spiritual Temple now under construction, and realize by faith the "glory that shall be revealed in us," in God's due time, that we can realize even slightly the significance of the words of the Prophet, "The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace."
The peace and joy and blessing which the world needs and craves cannot come, will not come, until this latter house of the Lord's building shall be completed and filled with his glory--until the elect Church, whose Head is Christ Jesus, shall be given the Kingdom, the dominion of earth--then a King shall reign in righteousness and princes shall execute judgment, the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, and none shall need to say to his neighbor, Know thou the Lord, and great shall be the peace of that Millennial day, when the Prince of Peace shall reign. --`Luke 12:32`; `Rev. 5:10`; `Isa. 11:9`; `32:1`; `54:13`.
::R2521 : page 221::
This prophecy respecting the shaking of the heavens and the earth is quoted in `Heb. 12:26`, and we there have an inspired comment upon it, showing that it will be fulfilled in the end of this Gospel age, and that it is a symbolic shaking and signifies the removal of everything that is unstable, transitory, imperfect, --in the great time of trouble with which this age will end and the Millennial age be ushered in. The Apostle assures us that the expression, "Yet once more," signifies a finality; that there will never more be requirement for shaking, for revolution, for changes, because with this great shaking, this great change, will be ushered in that perfection of the new order of things which cannot be shaken--the Kingdom of God conditions.
The shaking of all nations is here, as everywhere, associated with the glory of the Temple: in other words, the Scriptures show that the time of great trouble upon the world, in which all the Kingdoms of this world and its various institutions, religious, political, social, shall fall, will be the very time when God's Kingdom, God's Church, shall be "set up" in power and great glory; to be his agency in blessing the world. And not only here but elsewhere we are assured that when this shall take place the Desire of all nations shall come.
All peoples have been looking with more or less earnestness and sincerity for a just and good government, however blindly they may have sought it, because the prince of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not through the weakness of their judgment and the selfishness of their hearts. But when the vail shall be taken away, and the blind shall see out of their obscurity, and God's Kingdom shall have come and established peace and good will amongst men, and when the knowledge of the Lord shall have been caused to fill the earth, and when the evil-doers shall have been cut off from life, in the Second Death, verily then the Desire of all nations will have come, and the desire of the Creator will have come too,--for God's will shall yet be done on earth as it is done in heaven, as prophesied in our Lord's prayer.-- `Matt. 6:10`.
Silver and gold, in the restoration of the Temple, seem to have been lacking; hence the Lord's declaration that all the gold and all the silver are his. In the antitypical Temple construction, it at times appears as tho the silver of divine truth were lacking, and the gold of the divine character insufficient, but all who have confidence in the Lord may rely upon his assurance that he has all things needful for the accomplishment of his purposes--"the Lord knoweth them that are his," therefore, in the language of the text, let us all be strong, and work, for God is with us; we are merely co-workers together with him. He will surely accomplish the great work he has promised; the spiritual Temple shall be built: but our individual blessing in connection with it will be in proportion as we have been strong in the Lord and full of faith and full of zeal, co-workers together with him. "I am with you,...work!"
::R2521 : page 221::
"MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR THEE."
SEPT. 17.--`ZECH. 4:1-14`.
"Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
ZECHARIAH the Prophet was a priest as well, and was a young man at the time of his return under the governor, Zerubbabel, from the Babylonian captivity. As a prophet he was the successor of Haggai, who was now old, and his career as such began in the second year of Darius Hystaspes, and continued about two years. It was part of his mission to encourage Zerubbabel and all who labored in the construction of the Temple, and who were beset by innumerable oppositions, difficulties, etc.--`Neh. 12:4-7`; `Zech. 1:1`; `Ezra 5:1`; `6:14`; `7:1`.
There are two general views respecting this and
::R2521 : page 222::
all prophecies; one of these, the one favored by the "higher critics," is that the prophets of the Old Testament Scriptures were men of high moral attainment and faith in God's promises, who realized in advance of others and more keenly the true situation of things, and of their own volition, prompted by their own faith and zeal, exhorted the people, in parables that would be helpful, instructive, encouraging, etc. The other view is that God had the faith in his own promises and arrangements, and that he miraculously operated upon certain chosen persons, so that "holy men of old spake as they were moved by the holy spirit" --things which were not their own thoughts, but which encouraged themselves and inspired their own faith and zeal, as well as the faith and zeal of all about them. This view of the prophets and their prophecies gives the glory to God, and makes of the words of the prophets messages from God, and hence authoritative and reliable, while the fervent utterances of the very best men could not be considered reliable; but, as we all know, are frequently faulty, because of the fallibility of their authors. The Apostle Peter asserts this last view of the matter, and contradicts the former one.--`1 Pet. 1:10-12`.
Any other view than the latter would make the prophecies valueless as prophecies to the Church of to-day. It is not until we realize that the prophecies, altho having some force and application to the times in which they were written, have a special force and application to us, as the antitypical Israel, and to the building of the antitypical Temple, that we get the true force, value and beauty of these prophecies--a force and meaning that is entirely lost to those who take the higher criticism view, and reduce the prophets of olden times to the level of street-corner preachers, who expressed truth in crude forms and figures, blended with considerable of untruth and human misjudgment.
Altogether the Lord gave the Prophet Zechariah seven different visions; and the fifth of the series is the subject of this lesson. It showed a large golden candlestick, or, as we would say, lampstand, with a large central bowl, and seven branches therefrom, each of which terminated in a lamp. The prophet, no doubt, was somewhat familiar with such a lamp, since it in many particulars corresponded to the one made by divine direction, and kept in the holy apartment of the Tabernacle, and later of the Temple. The Prophet knew that this lamp represented in some manner divine favor, enlightenment and blessing as connected with the promises made to Israel. But the lampstand of the vision had a peculiarity all its own, for the Prophet beheld also two olive trees connected with it by golden pipes. (`Vs. 12`.) Thus the Lord indicated that the supply of oil for Israel's candlestick and the supply of Israel's light was an inexhaustible one.
No doubt the Prophet himself, and those in that day who heard his prophecy, drew from this vision a considerable amount of blessing and encouragement. To them it would speak of the Lord's continued favor with them, notwithstanding the persecutions and difficulties on every hand. Quite probably they interpreted these two olive trees to represent in some manner the kingly and the priestly offices in Israel, which offices were now represented by Zerubbabel, the governor, and Joshua, the high priest, God's special representatives in the work of restoring Israel. No doubt the Lord wished those to whom Zechariah prophesied to get just such encouragement, and arranged that these two leaders of the people should be types of the Royal Priest--Christ Jesus.
Nevertheless, we believe that there is a much higher significance to the vision than this, for we find, not only the golden candlestick, but also the two olive trees, mentioned six hundred years later, in our Lord's revelation given to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos: and this is conclusive proof that the vision was more than merely a parable by Zechariah, and farther reaching than merely the encouragement of the builders of the typical Temple. We will not here enter into the subject in detail, but merely call attention to the fact that the seven lamps or candlesticks shown in united form to the Prophet are shown as separate and distinct in the Book of Revelation, where each of the seven Churches, or the seven epochs of the history of the Church, is represented by a separate candlestick, or lamp.--`Rev. 1:12,20`; `2:5`; `11:4`.
The message sent to Zerubbabel, the governor, no doubt carried with it the intended blessing and encouragement to that officer, and was in full accord with the candlestick vision. He was to learn, and all the people with him, that the success of their work was not by the might, influence and favor of the Persian monarch to whom they were subject, nor by the power and numbers and ability of themselves, as laborers and defenders of their cause against their nearby neighbors, the Samaritans. They were to learn that the success of their efforts should be attributed to God, whose holy spirit, power, influence, would guide and control the affairs of that nation, and accomplish in his own time and way the gracious things which he had promised them.
"Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain."
This probably referred to the mountain of difficulty which stood in the way of the Lord's work, and which had for some time prevented its completion, and
::R2522 : page 223::
at the present moment was a serious menace. The Lord's assurance, through the Prophet, was that the Temple should be completed, shall be finished; and not only so, but that Zerubbabel, who had laid the foundation stone, should also have the honor and privilege of completing it with the head-stone or cap-stone, and that when completed there would be great rejoicing and appreciation of the work, acclamations of "Grace, grace, unto it!" In harmony with this, Israel was exhorted, "Despise not the day of small things"-- small beginnings, feeble efforts, discouraging conditions, etc.,--but to consider Zerubbabel the master-builder, the plummet-user, and to recognize the Lord's wisdom and power with him.
But the language used in this connection is entirely too strong to be applied solely to the insignificant little temple built by Zerubbabel and his associates. As we have seen that the former part of this vision applied to fleshly Israel only typically, so we see that this part also applies to Israel, and to Zerubbabel and to Joshua only typically.
Looking for the antitype, we find it in Spiritual Israel, the spiritual Temple, which God is building. In Zerubbabel and Joshua we find the kingly and priestly offices of our Lord Jesus represented in two parts--the word Joshua in the Hebrew signifies Savior, and in the Greek is Jesus, and the name Zerubbabel, as we have already seen, signifies Born in Babylon. The particular time typified would be the present time, when God's people are returning from Babylon, and when the work of Temple-reconstruction is in progress.
Our Lord Jesus himself laid the foundation of the spiritual Temple, and he himself will complete it as its top-stone, and it shall be acclaimed glorious, not only by men, but by angels, in God's due time. The work is in his hand, and altho from outward appearances at the present time there may seem to be discouragements, and little progress may seem to have been made, yet his servants should be of good courage and should remember that their victory is to come, not through human might, popularity and influence, nor by their own power, but by the Lord's spirit. The possession of his faith and his spirit will give us the victory over the world, the flesh and the Adversary, and make us more than conquerors through him who loved us and bought us with his own precious blood. Our struggles, our efforts, our building, are all on a discouragingly small and insignificant scale, but we see not and build not the real Temple, the living stones. We see each other according to the flesh, to some extent, despite our efforts to know no man after the flesh, and to recognize each other only as new creatures in Christ. We look more or less, however unintentionally, at the things that are seen, which are temporal and imperfect. We think more or less of the work of construction from the standpoint of numbers, influence, outward polish, etc. Instead, we should be looking unto Jesus, the author of our faith, who laid the foundation-stone, and who is to be the finisher of it, and is the cap, the climax, of his great and wonderful work, the new creation in glory. --`Heb. 12:2`.
The "great mountain" of the present is the great kingdom of the Evil One, which has the appearance of being immovable, but which now speedily, in the great time of trouble and "shaking," shall pass away, leaving a plain, a highway of holiness on which whosoever wills of the world of mankind may return by restitution to full harmony with God under the great Prophet, Priest and King.
The antitypical Temple will be complete when the power of the most high, represented by the oil of the candlestick, the holy spirit, shall rear up the living Temple in resurrection power (from the dead) in the likeness of our Lord, in glory, honor and immortality. Then the glory of the Lord will fill the spiritual Temple! Then will be the shoutings, "Grace, grace, unto it!" Then will begin the great work of blessing all the families of the earth, and the blessing shall flow from this spiritual Temple, a river of water of life, clear as crystal,--as seen in our lesson of August 20.
From this standpoint only, as applicable to the antitypical Zerubbabel, can we understand the reference to the "seven eyes" of the Lord which run to and fro through the whole earth. We can see that the eyes of the Lord (his perfect and much diversified wisdom) are necessary to be exercised throughout the whole world in connection with the work of preparing the living stones and rearing up the antitypical Temple in the hands of the antitypical Zerubbabel, but we could not see how divine wisdom would be necessary in all parts of the earth to take supervision of the building of the little typical temple by the typical Zerubbabel.
No one can rightly appreciate the hopes and ambitions aroused in the minds of the Jewish nation by the Lord through the holy prophets, except as he realizes the fact that Spiritual Israel has taken the place in large measure of natural Israel, whose branches were broken off, that we who were of the Gentiles might be grafted in and become heirs of the chiefest, the heavenly, the spiritual features of those promises. Nevertheless, we are to remember that there are also earthly features of those promises, which the Apostle assures us are still sure, and reserved for the natural seed of Abraham, and through the latter to extend to all the families of the earth, that whosoever will may become of the earthly seed of Abraham: for Abraham's seed is to be of two parts--"as the stars of heaven" and "as the sand of the seashore."--`Rom. 11:26-33`; `Gen. 22:17`.
Golden Text.--"The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them."--`Psa. 34:7`.
::R2522 : page 224::
AN INTERESTING LETTER.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I thought I would drop you a few lines as to my experience in my recently begun work as a colporteur. In company with Brothers Richardson and Barbour I came to Washington, Pa., a nice town of about 20,000 population. For the most part its people are very intelligent and independent. I found DAWNS and tracts in many of the houses, and a strong feeling of suspicion as well as of opposition against both. For this the ministers of the place are evidently responsible; the most of them had never read what they blindly oppose. Thus they are guilty of expressing judgment in advance of knowledge!
The WATCH TOWER readers have just distributed The Bible vs. the Evolution Theory. In a majority of the houses at which I called I found that excellent booklet, and upon inquiry learned that nearly all who had it had read it with benefit, and some were loud in their praise of such "a good and timely tract." On the strength of this tract many gave me their orders for DAWNS, saying that "the author of such a tract would certainly produce a readable and profitable book." One old "brother" said he "knew something heavier was coming." He gave me his order for the books that he might learn more of the truth.
One of the ministers of the city was very industriously engaged in misrepresenting the DAWN, going about from house to house counseling his flock not to read the book, but to exercise the same caution concerning it as they would relative to a dose of poison. He told some of them that if they had any faith at all the book would eclipse it with the darkness of unbelief. That if they had the least hope, they would be deprived of it should they read the DAWN! This "shepherd" and I came near forming acquaintance; he was always one door ahead of me! The first house I saw him come out of I went into. The "lady of the house" recognized me as if by instinct. "Good morning," I said. "Good morning, Sir; you are the man that's around with that book, MILLENNIAL DAWN?" "Yes; and I will be only too glad to call your attention to the book for just a few moments." "Oh, no! our minister was just here and told me not to read the book, nor receive you into my house, nor bid you God-speed, for your book was full of infidelity, and neither you nor the book believed in God, heaven or hell."
I replied, "Sister, I am confident the minister never read the book,--does not know what it contains, and am sure he is entirely wrong, for the book treats on all these subjects; and, besides, if you will read it, you will find as much hell taught as you could wish." "Oh, well, if that is the kind of a book it is you may bring it to me," said she. I thanked her, and in leaving the house was just in time to see the good minister emerging from another house.
I made my way to this residence and was received with a way-below-zero air, and at once told that "We do not want the book, and would not give it house-room." The minister, she said, had told her not to read the book, and that was enough for her! I said, "Lady, do you do everything your minister tells you to do?" She said, "No, not everything." I said, "If he would tell you to put your head in the fire, would you do that?" "No," said she. Then with true womanly curiosity she inquired: "What's in the book, anyway? It must be a funny book, everybody has so much to say about it." This opened the way, and after rehearsing some of the leading points she said: "If it's a book like that you may bring it, for I have often wondered what was to become of the heathen, anyway!" I recorded her order, and in leaving was just in time to catch a glimpse of my adversary leaving another house. I was soon in the presence of the "lady of the house," who at once advised me that I was wasting time at her house with the book; that when she wanted to read Ingersoll she would procure his works! I said, "Now, lady, why don't you want
::R2523 : page 224::
my book? I am sure it contains heart-satisfying and mind-catching explanations of the very things you wish to know about, and concerning which you have inquired of your minister and others many times, only to be left in the dark. You have, I am sure, been all your life querying respecting how the death of your Redeemer and the love and justice of God can and will affect the heathen. How and what will be the general judgment? When and how God's Kingdom will come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven? Why God has permitted evil so wide an influence? etc. You have never found satisfactory answers to these questions, but can have them now in the MILLENNIAL DAWN. Besides, a lady of your intelligence should read for herself, as I am sure you do." "Well," said she, "bring me the first volume, and if it holds out, I will have the rest." I thanked her, adding, "I am confident you will have all the books. You do not look like a woman who will abide having her reading matter selected for her. The book may cut the corners of your creed, but"--. "I don't care anything about the creed, I never read the creed! I don't know it. Bring me all the books! How much are they?" she interrupted.
It is strange how little mental and moral independence some people have! Yet, there are instances where some go to extremes with what they do possess. For instance, in this town of Washington is a beautiful college building filled with the young of both sexes. The learned "Doctor" who presides over the institution, told Brother Barbour, who was presenting the claims of DAWN, that when he was a young man the question of the second coming of Christ troubled him very much. But as he grew in years and wisdom (?) the question did not bother him any more, and said: "I have absolutely no interest in the question of the second coming of Christ, and do not wish anything to do with the question." "No, young man, I don't want your book."
Altho I have been a minister of the gospel for nearly a quarter of a century and thought I knew something about matters and things, yet I realize that much of that service, tho rendered in all good conscience, seems to have been worse than wasted, for evidently my conceptions of the character and work of God were to a considerable extent decidedly wrong. Now with more correct and enlightened views of the lengths and breadths, and heights and depths of the justice, wisdom, love and power of our Heavenly Father, I am glad to avail myself of this new ministry which enables me to leave from sixteen to fifty printed sermons with the truth-hungry with whom I meet.
Praying the blessing of our Heavenly Father upon you, dear brother, and that you may be spared to us and to his service unto the end, I am,
Yours in his service, C. W. COOPER.
==================== ::page 209::
SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER ISSUES
Will Be Millennial Dawn, Volume V.