ZWT - 1898 - R2238 thru R2410 / R2360 (281) - October 1, 1898
(Use your Browser's "Find" or "Search" option to search within this page)
VOL. XIX. OCTOBER 1, 1898. No. 19.
Views from the Watch Tower........................283
The Czar's Peace proposal
The Second Zionist Congress...................284
The Kingdom of Judah More Faithful
Jehoshaphat's Good Reign..........................290
God's Word the Lamp of Liberty................291
Evil Companionship Baneful....................292
Repairing Solomon's Temple........................293
"A Little Leaven Leaveneth
the Whole Lump".............................293
Letters from Earnest Colaborers...................295
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY, "BIBLE HOUSE," 56-60 ARCH STREET, 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 accident, or other 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 constantly.
COUNCIL BLUFFS CONVENTION.
Indications are that the attendance at the Convention will be good. We trust that all of the class invited in our last issue, who come, will come as full as possible of the Lord's spirit-- Love; and that all departing shall overflow with the same, and carry home a blessing. Let each one watch and pray to this effect. "Brethren, pray for us!"
Any who intend coming, but have not sent definite word to Allegheny, should send a postal card at once, stating number in their party, for whom lodgings should be reserved, to--
C. F. ADAMS, 200 BROADWAY, COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA. The meetings will commence Sunday, Oct. 1st, at 9 A.M., at No. 400 Broadway, "Temple Hall."
::R2360 : page 283::
VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
CZAR NICHOLAS, Emperor of Russia, has startled the world with a proposition looking toward universal peace--"a durable peace"--by the disarmament of the larger proportion of the armies of Europe. He asks a conference of representative men of all nations to consider the subject; and all the leading nations, including the United States, have responded favorably, promising to send delegates to the Peace Conference. The London Chronicle considers the Czar's note the most striking document of the century, and the London Telegraph says, "Rarely, if ever, was there a more important document in the history of the world." The Press (New York) says, "The document is epochal....The millennium of European disarmament is brought within the range of profitable discussion." The Public Ledger (Philadelphia) says, "It may not lead at once to a national disarmament and an agreement to refer all matters in dispute to arbitration, but it will pave the way for this desirable result." The Times (New York) says, "It may be the beginning of the most momentous and beneficent movement of modern history, indeed of all history."
Among other reasons prompting to the humane course suggested, the Czar calls attention to the fact that present vast armaments were prompted by a desire for peace, but have proved ineffectual and instead are increasing financial burdens. He says:--
"All these efforts have not yet been able to bring about the beneficent result desired--pacification. The financial charges following the upward march strike at the very root of public prosperity. The intellectual and physical strength of the nations' labor and capital are mostly diverted from their natural application and are unproductively consumed. Hundreds of millions are devoted to acquiring terrible engines of destruction, which, tho to-day regarded as the last work of science, are destined to-morrow to lose all their value in consequence of some fresh discovery in the same field. National culture, economic progress and the production of wealth are either paralyzed or checked in development.
"The economic crisis due in great part to the system of armaments a l'outrance, and the continual danger which lies in this massing of war material, are transforming the armed peace of our day into a crushing burden
::R2361 : page 283::
which the people have more and more difficulty in bearing.
"It appears evident that if this state of things were to be prolonged it would inevitably lead to the very cataclysm it is desired to avert, and the horrors whereof make every thinking being shudder in advance.
"To put an end to these incessant armaments and to seek the means of warding off the calamities which are threatening the whole world--such is the supreme duty imposed upon all states.
"This conference will be, by the help of God, a happy presage for the century which is about to open. It would converge into one powerful focus the efforts of all states sincerely seeking to make the great conception of universal peace triumph."
* * *
Right glad would we be to hope just such a universal peace and maintenance of the present order of things, "the present evil world," if we had no better hope, no better prospect. But as Watchers we have been "taught of God" through his Word to expect no permanent peace from even the best intentioned monarchs and governments during these "times of the Gentiles." (`Dan. 2:34,35,44,45`; `7:4-13,14,27`; `Luke 21:24`.) Not until Immanuel shall, in Jehovah's appointed times and seasons, take his great power and reign and bind Satan, "the prince of this world," who now "worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience," can we look for the Golden Age of prophecy. Then humbled under the mighty hand of God, the world will "seek peace and ensue it."
::R2361 : page 284::
But, notwithstanding the welcome given the Czar's suggestion, few on sober second thought see reasons to hope for practical results: it is accepted rather as a benevolent wish rather than even the Czar's hope. Our own expectation is that such a disarmament as is proposed will come within about six years: whether or not it will be preceded by a great general European war, only the Lord knows, but we incline to think it will not. We expect such a disarmament surely within the next ten years for several reasons:--
(1) Because within that time commercial competition will make merchandise of all kinds very cheap, and debts, interest charges and government expenses proportionately the more burdensome. To reduce the burden upon the masses it will by that time be necessary to force it disproportionately upon the wealthy, or else reduce the burden; and disarmament will probably result.
(2) Humanity will delude itself with the thought that such disarmament is the prelude to the Millennium: and so it will be, but in an opposite sense from what they expect. "The wisdom of their wise men shall perish and the understanding of their prudent men shall not be manifested (`Isa. 29:14`); and when thus they shall be disarming, saying, Peace and Safety! they will be very close to the great cataclysm of trouble, and doing the very thing to hasten the overthrow of the present social structure. Because
(3) The present glut of the labor markets of "Christendom" will be intensified by further application of machinery within the next ten years; and the tremendous effect of augmenting the supply of labor to the extent of from one to five millions of men in the prime of life would surely mean a financial depression and social upheaval which would shake the thrones of Europe and overthrow many of them.
(4) Such social upheavals, eventuating in world-wide anarchy, are what the Scripture prophecies lead us to expect as the precursor of the Millennium which God has promised, when our Redeemer and his glorified Church shall intervene to deliver mankind from the oppression of its own selfishness, and to bless it with an enforced rule of righteousness along the lines of the heavenly law of Love.
THE SECOND ZIONIST CONGRESS.
The Second Congress of Israelites from all parts of the world, to consider the interests and welfare of the natural seed of Abraham, and especially looking to a reestablishment of Israel as a nation in the old homestead, Palestine, has closed. Like the first it was held in the city of Basel, Switzerland. All reports indicate that the Zionist movement has gathered much momentum since the Congress of a year ago: about four hundred delegates were present--nearly seven times as many as at the first one.
Addresses were delivered by a number of prominent Israelites, setting forth the necessity and urgency of the movement, and pointing out that prophecy and the traditions of the nation as well as the growing hostility toward their race, everywhere, all urged forcefully in the direction toward which they were heading. In view of the fact that Palestine is under the control of Turkey, and that foreign Jews have been prohibited from emigrating thither for now seven years, suggested the idea that the duty of the hour would be to labor for the betterment of the conditions of Jews already there, and to wait and trust for the Providential opening of the "door" in the near future. To this end a Palestine Banking Company, "The Colonial Bank," of $10,000,000 capital was provided for--to promote and foster various enterprises in Palestine--all of which shall in every sense of the word be in Jewish hands and employ Jews only. An advance intimation of this matter had gotten abroad, and as a result it was announced that $1,000,000, one tenth of the capital, had already been subscribed, and over ninety-six per cent. of it in single shares of $5 each, by Jews in all parts of the world. This indicates that the movement is taking hold of the hopes of the race. A new flag was raised;--a white six-pointed star on a blue ground-- and it served to add to the patriotic fervor. Even the populace of Basel caught the inspiration seemingly and cheered--"Hoch die Juden!" i.e., Hurrah for the Jews! Has this occurred before for over eighteen hundred years? Not that we know of. God's time has come for regathering Israel, and those who lend a hand will receive encouragement.
For twenty-three years past we have been calling attention to `Isaiah 40:1,2`,--showing that it became applicable in April, 1878, and that within forty years (before 1915) the prophesied divine favor beginning by regathering Israel from all lands "into their own land," would be an accomplished fact. "Adventists" ridiculed, declaring that much sooner than that this earth would be in cinders; "orthodoxy" sneered that Israel's regathering and the Millennium were thousands of years off and that first the gentiles must all be converted; Jews themselves were of two opinions--one class declaring that they and the leaders of Jewish thought and the rising generation had abandoned all hope of a Palestine home and ignored the prophecies relating to the regathering, or else applied them to the United States--the "new Promised Land;" the other class expressing hope and faith in the prophecies, declared that according to Jewish chronology (not the Bible chronology which we follow) over three hundred and fifty years yet remained before the completion of six
::R2361 : page 285::
thousand years from Adam; and that nothing could be hoped for sooner.
Only one-half of the forty years have passed, and what do we see! Palestine is rejuvenating: not only has it been connected with civilization by railroads, telegraphs and telephones, but the seasons are becoming more regular as respects rain, and the thousands of Jews driven thither by Russian persecution some ten years ago are taking root and are now to be helped with money, in a practical way, and the eyes of Israel and the world are opening to the fact that "The testimonies of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple," and that prophecies over two thousand years old are being fulfilled before us.
But the "Watchers" should not for a moment lose sight of the chief lesson which Israel's revival teaches us, namely that every evidence of the return of divine favor to fleshly Israel is an evidence that divine favor to spiritual Israel is gradually drawing to a close, because the divine purpose respecting this Gospel age has about reached fulfilment--in the selection of the Gospel Church, spiritual Israel, the Bride, the Lamb's wife.-- See `Rom. 11:25-33`.
We add a few extracts from a Jewish journal, interesting and corroborative:--
ZIONISTS AND THE PEACE PROPOSAL.
"On Monday, Aug. 29th, the ordinary business proceedings were stopped in order to discuss the Czar's message, the most remarkable document of the century. Dr. Herzl said, amid tremendous applause:
"'Since Israel's mission in the world is peace, anyone who labors to attain this end is ideally a brother in Israel! The universal peace manifestation of Czar Nicholas is now in order!'
"After a lengthy discussion of its various political and national aspects a congratulatory resolution was adopted and a telegram was sent to His Majesty the Czar, who, with the stroke of his pen, has conquered the world and is destined to become the Cyrus of the nineteenth century.
"There was a large attendance of delegates, the most numerous and most widely representative of Israelites that the world has seen for centuries, if ever before. The enthusiasm was unbounded, the confidence manifested, while too exuberant, running over into acts of aggression against anti-Zionists, yet sufficiently proved the ardor of the leaders; the harmony was unshattered, the deliberations were dignified and at times inspiring.
::R2362 : page 285::
"It was officially reported that there are nine hundred and thirteen associations now identified with this movement. From the half shekel subscriptions received it would seem to be certain that the number of Zionist adherents already largely exceeds two hundred thousand, compared to which all other organizations in Israel, local, national or international, dwindle into insignificance....The wide-spread character of the movement was not due to any propaganda carried on from any particular centre, but to the natural force and intrinsic attractiveness of the movement itself all over the world.
"The one great instrument that has been constructed by the Congress for the execution of its purposes is the Colonial Bank. An institution like this may become a powerful means for the accomplishment of great and definite results. These, it will be observed, are to be secured in Palestine, and nowhere else. That the construction of such an institution is practical with so numerous a constituency, there would seem to be no inherent reasons to doubt, and sufficient material evidences are at hand to fully substantiate. There is every prospect that those placed in charge will be both responsible and able to honestly and efficiently carry out the important trust that will be reposed in them.
"As to colonization itself, the present activities of the movement seem necessarily limited to the advancement of those interests which are already located in Palestine. The Sultan's prohibition of further Jewish immigration may not work inharmoniously with the best interests of Zionism if it shall result in first securing the welfare of the Jews now inhabiting that country before being burdened with new and large accessions from without. When this has been done the Sultan's fears may be dissipated, or the new arrangements in the European kaleidescope may have placed this territory under more favorable conditions than at present.
"Perhaps the most remarkable achievement of the Congress was to dispel the doubts that existed as to the true relation of Zionism to Judaism. Dr. Gaster, the haham of London, in his masterly address, declared: 'It is this religious element which knits us together much more strongly, tho often unconsciously, than mere principles of a political or racial unity.... Whatever the difference between individuals may be, the unity of religious sentiment remains with us; it is the abiding factor in our whole movement; it may lie deep down, hidden away in the breast of our people; it is there incontestably. It blends itself, here in our Zionist movement, into one harmonious whole....I, therefore, propose, for your adoption, the following resolutions: Zionism aims not only at the economical and political, but also at the spiritual regeneration of the Jewish people; it thus rests upon the foundation of modern culture and adheres to its achievements. Zionism will not undertake anything which would be contrary to Jewish religious law.'"
"WE DO NOT WORSHIP THE PAST."
Said another speaker at the Congress:--
"We do not worship the past, we alone hold that the future is better than the past, we are known as optimists, and whenever any wrong is done to us or we are exposed to hardships, we are comforted by the thoughts that it must be better, and it will be better. We do not commence with an age of gold that deteriorates in time to a silver and then an iron age. We, on the contrary, look to the continued improvement and progress of mankind, and that is what we understand under the Messianic Age, and that hope has been the solace of our race in its wanderings through the
::R2362 : page 286::
world. The light of culture and education has never been extinguished in our midst."
THE ZIONIST CONGRESS-MEDAL.
"On a large, peaceful landscape bordering on the seashore, at a well, shaded by a very old tree of Southern type, there rests a Jewish family composed of father, mother and three children, with eyes turned upon the ocean, where the sun is mirrored in myriads of waves. The father, in the prime of life, leans on his travel-staff, the tragic symbol of the lot of his race on earth. The mother nurses the infant at her breast. A little child is seated on the floor; an older boy, stronger and determined, stands erect and already holds the travel-staff in his hand, which is to become the symbol of his destiny, as it is that of his father.
"A supernatural vision appears to these exhausted and aimless wanderers; it is the personification of the Jewish ideal--the ideal of Zionism. Her left hand she lays on the shoulder of the father and points with her right hand in the distance to that land across the sea where he shall secure at last a home. Her expression is full of sympathy and love. Her arm and the movement of the hand illustrate destiny. The father gazes with a heart overwhelmed with emotion at the golden hope of the future which this genius has awakened in his soul. He resolves at once to follow his guide. The mother, half doubtful and half relying, grasps the strong hand of her husband,--she is the typical Jewish wife, that loyally speaks to her husband: 'I follow thee to the end of the world; where thou art there is my home; thy destiny is mine.' The little child is only curious, it does not comprehend yet the great event that is happening before his eyes. Not so the boy. The 'Arba Kanfoth'--the religious 'garb of fringes'--on his naked breast, teaches him symbolically that his race will eventually be 'gathered from the four corners of the earth.' He turns, therefore, with keen earnestness and profound determination to the destiny foretold by the heraldress, drinking in her words and impressed by her sympathetic features; he is ready to go with her, no matter what sacrifices this may require, what battles he will have to wage, nor in what struggles to endure.
"This is the explanation of the symbolic figures on the Congress medal, translated from the official Zionist organ, Die Welt, of Vienna, while the reverse side of the medal contains the Hebrew letters, of which the following is the translation:--
"Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, whither they have gone, and will gather them on every side and bring them into their own land.'--`Ezek. 37:21`.
"Who of those that read the signs of the times can shut their eyes to the important part that the restoration of Israel to Palestine is destined to play in the progress of humanity?
"In reviewing the events of the year, none appears to me so great, none so significant, none so fraught with incalculable blessings for the future of our people as the awakening of Israel, manifested by over 400 delegates hailing from every country and clime to the Second Congress at Basel."
::R2362 : page 286::
THE KINGDOM OF JUDAH MORE FAITHFUL THAN ISRAEL.
--OCT. 2.--`2 CHRON. 14:2-12`.--
"Help us, O Lord our God: for we rest in thee."--`2 Chron. 14:11`.
WITH this lesson commences a series of studies in the history of the Kingdom of Judah--the two-tribe kingdom, as distinguished from the ten-tribe kingdom, which, because of its greater area and numbers, held the name of Israel. In our studies of the course of the ten tribes, we intimated that the division of the kingdom had worked to the advantage of the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, known as the Kingdom of Judah, in that it had humbled them, drawn them nearer to the Lord, and made them more zealous of his worship, and more faithful in resisting idolatry of the surrounding nations: much of this, no doubt, resulted from the division of the empire, and the very wrong idolatrous course taken by the ten tribes.
The inspired record indicates that King Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, after he was deserted by the ten tribes, was considerably affected thereby, so that he and the people of Judah experienced a sort of religious reformation, as a result of which we are informed that not only the priests and Levites, but also the more religious of the people, Israelites indeed, deserted the ten-tribe kingdom, and allied and associated themselves with and made their home in Judah. "So they strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, strong, for three years: for three years they walked in the way of David and Solomon." --`2 Chron. 11:13-17`.
Before long, however, Rehoboam, finding himself strong in the kingdom, became lax in respect to its religious conditions, so that he and the people became negligent of the divine law. (`2 Chron. 12:1`.) As a rebuke for this, and as a lesson, the Lord permitted the army of Egypt to come up against Judah, "because they had transgressed against the Lord." The victories of the Egyptian army under Shishak brought Rehoboam and the rulers of the people to their senses, and caused them to seek unto the Lord for help. "The princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves, and they said, The Lord is righteous." Wherefore the Lord stayed the Egyptians, and did not allow them to overwhelm the kingdom, saying, "My wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem, by the hand of Shishak; nevertheless, they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms
::R2362 : page 287::
of the countries. So Shishak, king of Egypt, came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures
::R2363 : page 287::
from the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house; he took all: he carried away also the shields of gold which Solomon had made." Thus Rehoboam for a time was reduced to a subservient position. His kingdom had lost much of its wealth, accumulated under the reigns of Solomon and David, and all this was intended of the Lord to teach them an important lesson--that if the Lord let go of them they would be swallowed up of their enemies, and that the Lord, while demanding their obedience, always made that obedience profitable to them in their temporal welfare.
All this is very contrary to the Lord's present dealing with the house of sons--the Gospel Church. God's covenant with the twelve tribes of Israel was that he would give them earthly (temporal) blessings, as a reward for their faithfulness to him, and that he would give them temporal adversities as punishments for unfaithfulness to him. That was under the covenant made at Sinai. (See `Lev. 26`.) It is well that we should note that that covenant, with all of its arrangements, was confined to the natural seed of Abraham-- to typical Israel (divided into Israel and Judah) and that a wholly different arrangement and covenant has been made by the Lord with the spiritual Israelites of this Gospel Age, under the terms of the New Covenant. The New Covenant does not promise earthly blessings, nor freedom from earthly tribulations, but it does promise to the faithful spiritual Israelite that all the tribulations permitted of the Lord shall work out some good, some blessing, as respects his new nature and his preparation for future good things in the life to come, which God hath in reservation for them that love him. Natural Israel's promises were all earthly, while spiritual Israel's promises are all heavenly.
The lesson learned from Shishak's invasion seems to have profited Rehoboam and the people of Judah throughout the remainder of his reign of seventeen years, and it does not surprise us that his son and successor, Abijah, was a king who acknowledged the Lord. This is particularly shown in the war with the ten tribes of Israel, which speedily followed Abijah's succession to the throne of Judah. Addressing the ten tribes, drawn up in battle array, he sends them a message: "And now ye think to withstand the Kingdom of Jehovah, in the hands of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves which Jereboam made you for gods. Have ye not cast out the priests of Jehovah, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands?...But as for us, Jehovah is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests which minister unto Jehovah are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites....And behold, God himself is with us for our Captain, and his priests, with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers, for ye shall not prosper."-- `2 Chron. 13:8-18`.
Thus the three years reign of Abijah, altho a very short one, seems to have been a good reign in many respects. Nevertheless, his loyalty to the Lord did not lead him to make a thorough reformation, and to utterly put away the groves and high places devoted to improper worship, which began to be established in Solomon's day, and consequently he failed to have the Lord's approval, as it was subsequently pronounced upon his son, Asa. "Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God." "The heart of Asa was perfect all his days."--`2 Chron. 15:17`.
Likewise to-day there are those who are on the Lord's side, and get a blessing as a result, who, nevertheless, fail to have the Lord's hearty approval. It is not sufficient that we outwardly acknowledge the Lord to be our God: if we would have the fulness of the divine approval we must be zealous, not only in having the Lord on our side, but zealous also and faithful in serving his cause. Such faithfulness means activity in the cause of truth, and effort to bring others into full accord with the divine law.
Asa's course was approved more than that of his father, Abijah, because, as it is stated, his heart was perfect: he was not serving the Lord because it would be the most profitable course for himself and for the nation--not merely to obtain divine blessing--but he served from a heart that was in harmony with God, and which wished to accomplish the divine will. So a right heart made of Asa a great reformer: he destroyed the idols out of the land, and the groves and high altars, some of which were dedicated to false gods, and some to Jehovah,--the latter being, nevertheless, contrary to the divine instruction, which was that no other place of sacrifice should be recognized than the one-- the Temple. Asa's fidelity to God laid him open to the charge of narrowness and bigotry on the part of those who at that day considered themselves broad-minded, liberal. Asa even destroyed the idol which his mother had set up; and because she was using her influence in favor of idolatry he removed from her the dignities of her position as a queen. All this showed a great loyalty to the Lord, and indicated that Asa's zeal for the Lord was a zeal from the heart, and not a mere caprice, nor from a selfish motive.
In harmony with the divine covenant, a great blessing rested upon Asa and upon his kingdom, and during the first ten years of absolute peace he fortified
::R2363 : page 288::
his country, and strengthened the kingdom. It was now twenty-five years since Shishak had his victory over Rehoboam, and carried away the gold and treasures of the kingdom: and now another Egyptian army came against Asa, probably intent upon getting more booty. But as God, according to his covenant with Israel, had prospered the Egyptians because of unfaithfulness on the part of Rehoboam and his people, so now the Lord, under the same covenant, prospered Asa and his army, because of their faithfulness to him, and gave them a great victory over the Egyptians.
That Asa and the people might know assuredly that their victory was of the Lord, a prophet was sent to them, saying: "Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you while ye be with him; and if ye seek him he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him he will forsake you....Be ye strong, therefore, and let not your hands be weak." This message, we are informed, encouraged Asa to still further prosecute the warfare he had been waging for some time against idols: the result was the utter abolishment of idols "out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken." More than this, as his zeal, and the zeal of his people increased, a great convention was held--a holiness convention-- and "they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart, and with all their soul, resolving that whosoever should not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman; and they sware unto the Lord [to this effect] with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets and with cornets, and all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire, and he was found of them; and the Lord gave them rest round about...and there was no more war unto the five and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa."--`2 Chron. 15:12-15,19`.
Many Christian people, making the very serious mistake of not noticing the difference between the covenant which God made with fleshly Israel, and the different covenant and different regulations with spiritual Israel, have naturally fallen into the mistake of seeking to follow after the course of natural Israel, improperly. For instance, while it was perfectly right for Asa to interfere with the other religions in the land under his control, and to overthrow the false worship, and to burn the idols, and to destroy the altars and groves, it would be entirely wrong for any Christian king, president, governor, mayor, or one of any other position, to attempt to do similarly with the religious arrangements of others of to-day, either in Christendom or in heathen lands. The duty of the spiritual Israelite is to worship the Lord according to the dictates of his own conscience, and to leave everybody else free to do the same--not molesting him, his institutions or arrangements in any manner whatever.
The only way in which he would be permitted to interfere with others would be by preaching, by making known to them the true God and the true worship;--and even in this he would have no privilege to intrude upon others contrary to their wishes, but may merely make known the good tidings to those who have "ears to hear"--to those willing to be taught. It was a wrong view of this matter, and a copying of Israel's doings, and of the things which God approved in Israel, which, misunderstood and misapplied, undoubtedly led to many of the religious excesses and violations of justice, as well as of love and mercy, during the Dark Ages. It was a failure to recognize the different law of this Gospel Age, over spiritual Israel, that led to much of the religious persecution of the dark ages, the burning of church edifices of so-called heretics, the burning of the heretics themselves, and of their Bibles, their persecution by Inquisitions, etc., etc. Christendom in general is outgrowing these false ideas, especially in Great Britain and the United States, where religious liberty for all denominations, all religions, and toleration for all creeds is recognized, demanded and enjoyed, in harmony with the enlightened judgment of their peoples. But those who thus recognize religious
::R2364 : page 288::
liberty as the proper thing now, very generally fail to see how or why anything else than religious liberty could have been proper at any other time. Such are inclined to look upon the Bible as not up to date--as countenancing bigotry, persecution, etc., and so long as they regard the matter from this standpoint they are in great danger of a growing agnosticism and infidelity. Let us understand clearly, therefore, why the course of Asa was approved of God, and blessed, while a similar course to-day, in any nation of Christendom, would be disapproved of the Lord, and of those who have his spirit.
The explanation of the difference is that Israel, as a nation, took upon itself a special covenant with God at Mount Sinai, by which every individual of that nation, including the children, became bounden nationally and individually, to God, to be his people; while God bound himself to them to be their God, their king, their protector. In the compact or covenant the people further guaranteed that they would neither have, nor make images of, nor worship any other god. That covenant constituted Israel God's peculiar people; they became his typical Kingdom; he was the recognized King amongst them, and so it is written, "Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord, as King, instead of David his father." (`1 Chron. 29:23`.) It was God's
::R2364 : page 289::
throne all along, and earthly representatives sat upon it. Hence, so long as that nation was preserved as a kingdom amongst the nations, it was bound by the will or law of its King, the Lord, which specifically demanded that all idolatry should be put away. And as we have previously seen, God separated this one nation from all the other nations of the earth, in order that he might make of them a typical nation or kingdom, foreshadowing in them the "holy nation" of spiritual Israelites which he is now gathering out of every kingdom, people, nation and tongue, and which shortly he will organize under Immanuel, to be the Kingdom of Heaven, and to rule and bless all the families of the earth.--`1 Pet. 2:9,10`; `Luke 12:32`.
It would be wholly improper, now, for the people of the United States, for instance, to attempt to decide what is false worship and to abolish it; or to interfere in any manner or degree with absolute religious liberty; because the people of the United States are not God's Kingdom, as Israel was God's kingdom. God never did recognize any other nation than Israel (`Amos 3:2`); nor did he ever make covenants with other nations. On the contrary, the present governments of earth are all of them reckoned as "kingdoms of this world," in contradistinction to the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Anointed,--the "holy nation" now being prepared. While the heavenly Kingdom, the antitype of Israel's kingdom, is not yet set up in glory, as the holy nation, the peculiar people, the royal priesthood, nevertheless, in each individual heart of this "elect" class this principle applies: each Israelite indeed has entered into a covenant with the Lord that he will have no other gods, and that he will render worship to no other, but will serve the Lord with all his heart, with all his mind, with all his being, with all his strength. And as the nation of Israel was obligated, by its covenant, to abolish all idols, so each individual Christian, of this new holy nation, is obligated, by his covenant, to destroy every idol from his heart, and to worship the Lord only, and in the beauty of holiness.
Altho Asa's heart was loyal to the Lord, his judgment was not always sound: for instance, when toward the close of his reign the king of Israel (the ten tribes) manifested some hostility, Asa sent a present of gold and silver to the King of Syria to obtain his aid against Israel. This ordinarily would be termed shrewd statesmanship, and would be a wise enough and proper enough course to take, as between nations-- viz., the use of a little money as a peace agent, to thus avert war. Asa's statesmanship was successful, and did prevent the war and no doubt he congratulated himself on his wisdom; but it was an error on his part, as the Lord pointed out to him, through the Prophet Hanani, who after upbraiding Asa for his insufficiency of faith, and his forgetfulness of divine deliverances in the past, said to him, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars." Asa even resented this criticism of his policy and thrust the prophet into prison. Thus we see that the statement that his heart was right before God does not at all signify that he was right in the sense that we would use the word in connection with the Lord's people of Spiritual Israel, during this Gospel Age. The expression that his heart was right evidently signifies merely that he honestly, conscientiously, sought to do the Lord's will, as the king of Judah, in the putting away of idolatry, and in the enforcement of the Mosaic law. The use of the same expression in respect to the Lord's consecrated people of this Gospel Age would mean a great deal more--a full consecration in thought, and, so far as possible, of word and deed.
Much ado is made by some out of the statement that when Asa was subsequently diseased in his feet, "In his disease he sought not to the Lord but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers." From this it is argued that it is a sin for anyone to make use of medical assistance, and that God's displeasure was manifested in Asa's death as a lesson to his people then and now. We will not attempt to controvert the claim that much of the medicine given by physicians does more harm than good, but we deny that there is any ground for using this case as a basis for such an argument as the foregoing suggested. We must not forget that God's covenant with fleshly Israel, made at Sinai, implied that he not only would be their Captain, and give them deliverance in the time of war, and that he would be their Law-Giver and King, to rule them for their best welfare, but also that observance of his laws would, under his providence, protect them from pestilences and the common diseases of life, so that, as expressed in one of the commandments, their "days should be long in the land" which the Lord their God gave them. This being the case, it is understood amongst scholars that the physicians here referred to were enchanters and magicians who affected to heal diseases, and who undoubtedly performed some cures, after the manner of clairvoyant physicians and Voodoo and black-art doctors of to-day, by Satanic power. Hence, altho it was a mistake on Asa's part to seek to the physicians of his day, and to neglect the divine covenant with his people, we see no intimation here that it would be wrong for mankind in general to make use of bona-fide medical skill and aid to-day.
We are permitted to select from nature's provisions
::R2364 : page 290::
such foods as we find to be most suited to our health and occupation; so also we may reasonably use anything from nature's laboratory which ourselves or others may be able to compound which would serve to correct or tone up our physical systems for greater usefulness in life. It is a mistake of some to suppose that God has promised to keep spiritual Israel free from sickness, pain and trouble. On the contrary, we know that he permits the difficulties of life to afflict some of his most loyal children. What he does promise is that whatever he may permit to his people will work out something for their good, for their blessing, if they will be rightly exercised thereby, and seek for the blessings.
True, as we have frequently pointed out, those who live near to the Lord, and who are guided by his counsel respecting moderation in word, in thought, in act, are better prepared than others to withstand disease, or if attacked by disease are better prepared to recover from it, and on the whole we believe that the Lord's consecrated people enjoy much better health after than before giving themselves fully to the Lord, seeking to live according to his standard. But this, we take it, is generally the result of a better course of living, rather than the interposition of divine providence. Looking back to the days of the Apostles, we find that there is no record that the Lord or the Apostles ever healed the infirmities of the consecrated ones. Our Lord and also the Apostles healed the multitudes, but not the disciples. And the Apostle Paul, who sent handkerchiefs and napkins to the sick, far and near (`Acts 19:12`), sent no napkin or handkerchief or anointing oil to Timothy when he was sick. On the contrary, he advised the use of wine medicinally, and remarked that Timothy's ailment was not a trifling nor a temporary one, but rather a chronic disorder--"thine often infirmities." (`1 Tim. 5:23`.) We note the same thing in respect to Epaphroditus (`Phil. 2:26`) and Trophimas. (`2 Tim. 4:20`.) And the Apostle Paul had the same experience himself, and says, "Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmity, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake: for when I am weak then I am strong." (`2 Cor. 12:7-10`.) Our sicknesses and diseases from which we are wholly relieved by the value of the precious blood administered by the Good Physician are soul-sicknesses. We are now justified freely, made every whit whole, and shall shortly be saved from (out of) death by him, through resurrection.
::R2365 : page 290::
JEHOSHAPHAT'S GOOD REIGN.
--OCT. 9.--`2 CHRON. 17:1-10`.--
"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."--`Prov. 3:6`.
JEHOSHAPHAT succeeded his father, Asa, as King of Judah, following well in his footsteps and "in the first ways of his father David," copying after David's earliest course of devotion to the Lord. He sought not unto Baalim (plural of Baal), the various forms of Baal-worship which, as we have seen, had become the worship of the ten tribes, as it was the worship also of the various nations about them. The spectacular features of Baal-worship and the licentious orgies connected therewith were evidently strong attractions to the depraved heart, and must therefore have exercised continually a seductive influence upon the people of Judah, who worshiped the unseen God, of whom no images or idols or sensual worship were permitted.
The result of this course on the part of the king and the kingdom was the divine blessing, according to the covenant, resulting in peace with the nations round about and prosperity in temporal things--"riches and honor in abundance." Rightly exercised by these blessings, the king's heart was "lifted up," not in pride and self-adulation, but with encouragement, as recognizing the fulfilment of the divine promises in the blessings enjoyed. This stimulated the king to still further energy in the Lord's service, and to a still further movement in the putting away of the "groves and high places." These had been prohibited and destroyed by his father Asa, but apparently some had still been preserved by the people in a kind of secret way, or had sprung up again, like thrifty weeds, so as to need continual attention and removal. We may suppose that these were not all high places and groves of Baal, but that some of them were attempted modifications or "improvements" in the worship of Jehovah. So amongst Christians, there are some who are continually seeking innovations, variations from and additions to what the Lord instituted, in which they take pleasure, to the neglect of the Lord's wishes and regulations. It is hard for such to learn that "obedience is better than sacrifice," that the following of the Lord's will is far better and more acceptable in his sight than any amount of unauthorized denominational contrivance and "machinery." Every alteration of the divine arrangement must eventually prove injurious.
Perceiving the necessity of knowledge, as a basis for faith and obedience, the King Jehoshaphat very wisely instituted a general system of instruction throughout
::R2365 : page 291::
his kingdom, so that the people in general might become intimately acquainted with the Word of the Lord. Thus he was laying the ax of truth at the root of the evil tree of idolatry and disobedience, and preparing the people for a more hearty obedience to the demands of the Lord and the worship of the one God, Jehovah, with all their heart.
GOD'S WORD THE LAMP OF LIBERTY.
Christian experiences are in full accord with the course which Jehoshaphat followed. We find that in proportion as the Word of the Lord has free course amongst his people, in proportion as they are intimately acquainted with it--its instructions, its promises and its threatenings--in that proportion are they made free indeed, as respects earthly affairs, and in like proportion do they realize their obligations to the King of kings and Lord of lords. The "Dark Ages" was the period in which the Bible was hidden from the people, under a foreign language, and the Reformation movement started with and accompanied the translation of the Scriptures into the living languages of the people, and the progress of the Reformation and of civilization has kept pace with the study of the Scriptures. As the influence of the Lord's Word in Israel's day extended doubtless far beyond those who heard it taught, so likewise the influence of the Scriptures extends far beyond those who study the Scriptures: the spirit of the truth is a spirit of liberty and of civilization, even amongst those who receive it not in the love of it, and who do not obey it, nor walk according to its spirit of love.
The question may arise, Why is it that with the greatly increased circulation of the Scriptures in civilized lands--millions of copies every year--that a still greater blessing does not go with it, to lead all mankind into the right ways of the Lord, into appreciation of his grace and truth, and to obedience to his requirements, instead of bringing, as we see it is bringing, and as the Scriptures forewarn us, a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation? We answer that this can be accounted for in two ways:--
(1) The study of the Scriptures is handicapped by the many and variously conflicting false theories, human traditions, creeds, which, handed down from the Dark Ages, still fetter the minds of the vast majority, and are an agency in the Adversary's hands of blinding the eyes of many, hindering them from seeing the grand simplicity and beauty of the divine plan of the ages. Many who are helping along the circulation of the Scriptures, are likewise helping along the misunderstanding of them, and thus hindering the truth of the Lord's Word from having its full and designed effect. As our Lord said at the first advent, so it might be truly said now of the majority of religious teachers, "Ye do make void the law of God through your traditions"--the traditions of the ancients, the creeds and dogmas of the Dark Ages.
(2) Many of those who "seem to be religious" to the extent of attending religious meetings and having Bibles in their homes, are not religious at heart, but the contrary--are seeking not to know and to do the will of God, but selfishly seeking to do their own wills, and merely using the cloak of religion hypocritically to further their selfish schemes and purposes in life. Upon such the influence of the Bible, with the liberty which it inculcates, and the release of superstition which it gives, is really injurious in one sense of the word: release from the bondage of fear and superstition by the light of divine truth reflected from those whom Christ has made free indeed, merely makes them the more free to do evil, and hardens their hearts. They use the liberty for an occasion of the flesh (along lines of selfishness); and it is along these lines, which are the prevailing ones, that the great time of trouble is approaching, in which liberty will run riot in those who have received from the divine Word merely the breaking of the shackles of superstition, and whose hearts are not thereby brought into captivity to the will of God in Christ.
The result of Jehoshaphat's course in increasing intelligence amongst the people led to a greater respect for Jehovah, not only amongst the people of Judah, but also amongst the nations surrounding. The nations in the vicinity of Palestine evidently considered that each nation had its own God; but apparently they knew that Israel's God, Jehovah, was a God of gods, the Almighty God, superior to their own. Some of the heathen kings even seemed to grasp the situation so clearly as to say to themselves, If we can cause the people of Israel to reject Jehovah, and to commit idolatry, then Jehovah, their God, who has hitherto given them marvelous success, will work against them, and we shall have victory over them in battle. We remember that this was exactly the course of Balak, who tempted Israel to sin in order that he might defeat them in battle. Thus it was that when the nations round about saw the growing devotion to Jehovah amongst the people of Judah, they correspondingly feared them, and the power of the Lord amongst them, as it is written, "The fear of the Lord fell on all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war with Jehoshaphat."
So it is often with the world in respect to spiritual Israel: the world recognizes in a general way that there is some truth in Christianity, and the worldly fear to do injury to those whom it recognizes as humble, faithful, true and obedient children of God. They know, and so does the great Adversary, Satan, "the god of this
::R2365 : page 292::
world," that greater is he that is on our part, than all that be against us. Hence his effort and that of his willing servants is to lead us into temptations of pride and fond desire, selfishness, and thus to raise earth-born clouds between us and our Lord, as the beginnings of a course of evil.
EVIL COMPANIONSHIP BANEFUL.
The record of Jehoshaphat's reign seems to show only three serious mistakes, and the implication is that none of these was recognized by the Lord as being wholly intentional, but as being partly errors of judgment.
(1) His prosperity brought to him the friendship of the king of Israel, the weak and wicked Ahab, and with a desire to seem courteous, and possibly with the thought of re-uniting the separated ten tribes at some future time, Jehoshaphat accepted the friendly advances of Ahab, and visited him, with some of his troops, and out of courtesy, and with a desire to cement the friendship, he joined with Ahab in battle against the Syrians. And notwithstanding the fact that he suggested inquiry of one of the prophets of Jehovah what would be the Lord's will respecting the battle, yet when the one prophet of the Lord, Micaiah, foretold the disaster of the battle, in opposition to the testimony of four-hundred false prophets, Jehoshaphat nevertheless yielded, and went with Ahab to battle. In the defeat which followed the declaration of the Scriptures is that the Lord spared the life of Jehoshaphat, while Ahab was killed. On his return home the Lord sent to him one of the prophets, saying, "Shouldest
::R2366 : page 292::
thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord. Nevertheless, there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God." (`2 Chron. 19:2,3,7`.) That the lesson was not lost upon Jehoshaphat is evidenced by the fact that shortly after this, when appointing judges throughout Judah, he instructed them, saying, "Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man but for the Lord, who is with you in judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of Jehovah be upon you; take heed and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts."
Jehoshaphat's desire to be upon friendly terms with Ahab, and the wrong course to which this led him, contains a lesson for spiritual Israelites who are seeking to follow the Lord's counsel. If it was improper for the king to "help the ungodly and to love them that hate the Lord" it would be still more improper for spiritual Israelites to follow such a course. How many have been led into disobedience and various improprieties by neglect of the admonition that "evil companionship corrupts good conduct!" Let us learn the lesson of keeping company with those that love the Lord, so that all of our special friends and companions, in business or in pleasure, shall, so far as we are able to control the matter, be the Lord's friends who honor him with their lips and serve him from the heart. "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."--`Psa. 1:1-3`.
(2) Subsequently, Jehoshaphat joined in partnership with Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, in the construction of a fleet of vessels, to trade as Solomon had done, in the gold of Ophir; but the Lord sent a rebuke to him, through the prophet, saying, "Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah the Lord hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish." (`2 Chron. 20:37`.) Here is another lesson for the Lord's people not to choose for their associates those upon whom the Lord's blessing might not reasonably be expected, especially not to make such an alliance with those who are the enemies of the Lord.
(3) Jehoshaphat's third mistake was in arranging a marriage between his son and the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. No doubt his thought was to thus possibly re-unite, in the hands of his son, the divided kingdom. He seemed to forget that the Lord was abundantly able to re-unite the kingdom, if he saw fit, and that any union not of the Lord's approval would be a disadvantageous one. The wickedness of the daughter of Jezebel, who subsequently became the queen of Judah, rivaled her mother's and is a further illustration of how baneful an influence may be exercised by an ambitious and bad woman, as we have many instances of how good an influence may be exercised by a humble and godly woman.
There is a lesson in this for all of the spiritual Israelites, that they should not seek advancement of the interests of their children through ungodly alliance, marriage. How many Christian parents allow the lessons of their own experience to go for naught and allow pride and ambition and selfishness to influence their counsel of their children so that they consent to and aid their marriage with the unconsecrated. How often these find subsequently that they have sown thorns in their pillows and in the pillows of their children. The difficulty is one or both of two: (a) Either they are not fully and faithfully consecrated to the Lord, and possessed of faith in his wisdom and power to guide their affairs, and hence attempt to shape their own affairs; or (b) they have not learned that the Lord's will by which we are to regulate our course in life on every subject, is found in his Word, and is to be followed implicitly, leaving
::R2366 : page 293::
all results to his providence, and trusting absolutely to his Wisdom, Love and Power. With the Lord's people the rule of life in everything should be to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness, trusting that under divine providence all things will work together for good to those who love God.
::R2366 : page 293::
REPAIRING SOLOMON'S TEMPLE.
--OCT. 16.--`2 CHRON. 24:4-13`.--
"And the men did the work faithfully."--`2 Kings 12:15`.
THE ERROR of Jehoshaphat in seeking an alliance with ungodly Ahab, king of Israel, through the marriage of his son to the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, was a serious one. The daughter seems to have inherited all the evil nature of her mother, and as soon as her husband came to the throne of Judah, she seduced him, and through him the nation of Judah, from the worship of Jehovah to the worship of Baal, with its sensual orgies, attractive to the grossly depraved. And this evil influence continued during the reign of her husband, eight years, during the reign of her son, one year, and during her own reign (after murdering all but one of her grandchildren), six years, when she was killed, in a revolt of the people against her evil course: at which time her grandson, Joash, then seven years of age, was anointed king.
His grandmother evidently supposed that she had destroyed all of the royal family, but the infant Joash had been secreted by his aunt, the wife of the Lord's high priest, Jehoiada, who hid and cared for him in one of the rooms connected with Solomon's temple. During the period of the reign of the wicked queen the temple of the Lord had been suffered to go to decay, while an imposing temple of Baal had been erected, and thither the worship and wealth of the people had been directed. Consequently the rooms of the priests, in connection with the temple of Jehovah, being generally neglected, were a very safe place for the rearing of the young king.
"A LITTLE LEAVEN LEAVENETH THE WHOLE LUMP."
The lessons we might draw from this are numerous. (1) The error of seeking worldly alliances, political or social. (2) The error of being unequally yoked with unbelievers in marriage, and the fallacy of relying upon good influences to overcome the evil. A careful mother, watching out for the youthful companions of her son, forbade him to make companions and playfellows of certain boys whose influence she perceived would be impure and injurious. Her son urged, on the contrary, that his influence upon the bad companions should be greater than their influence upon him, and that thus he should be able, by keeping their company, to do them good. The mother sent her son for a glass of water and a bottle of ink. When they were brought she instructed him to put a drop of water into the bottle of ink, and see whether it would clarify it. Of course it made no visible impression. She then instructed him to put a drop of ink into the water, and the result was that the entire glass of water was beclouded. This furnished her a suitable illustration of how the good intentions and purity of her son would have practically a very small influence upon the companions already corrupted under evil influences, and the deleterious influence upon a pure heart of even the smallest amount of impurity. None can be too careful in this direction; evil in every form should be shunned, especially little evils and impurities, which constitute the entering wedge for greater ones.
In olden times, before the art of soap-making was learned, it was the custom to use a sort of clay, called fuller's earth, after the manner in which we now use soap, and based upon this is an ancient Persian fable, which runs thus: "One day, as I was in the bath, a friend of mine put into my hand a piece of scented clay. I took it and said to it, 'Art thou musk or ambergris? For I am charmed with thy perfume.' It answered, 'I was a despicable piece of clay, but I was some time in the company of the rose, and the sweet quality of my companion was communicated to me.'" This well illustrates the fact that every Christian, as a member of the body of Christ, must of necessity have more or less of his sweet spirit, meekness, patience, gentleness, brotherly-kindness, love, and that worldly people thrown into the association of such should absorb from them much of this spirit of gentleness and kindness. And as the spirit of Christianity is received in turn from the Lord, so it is necessary that all the members of the body of Christ should be much in the company of their Head and Lord, that they might be thoroughly filled with his spirit. Let us remember, however, that as the clay was susceptible to the delicate and sweet odor of the rose, it would have been equally or more susceptible to stronger vile odors, had it been in the company of that which is vile; and that if it had been thrown simultaneously equally near to the influence of the rose perfume and to the thing of vile odor, the latter would have been the stronger, and the result would have been an offensive odor. So with the Lord's people. It is as necessary that we shun the evil as that we cleave to that which is good.
The young King Joash, under the tutelage of his foster-father Jehoiada, the chief priest, walked faithfully
::R2366 : page 294::
in harmony with the law of the Lord, as long as his foster-father lived. He even seems to have been deeply imbued with a heart desire to serve the Lord, for it
::R2367 : page 294::
would appear that the repairing of the temple was of his own thought, and not suggested by his adviser, the priest. The command first given by the king, for a collection of money throughout all Israel, to repair the Temple, seems to have been comparatively neglected, probably because the people of Judah had very generally come to doubt the priesthood, and to query how much of the money that would be collected would ever be directly applied to Temple repairs. But the king was in earnest and, seeing that this method failed, he adopted a new one, of placing a large contribution box at the entrance of the Temple, and then all Israel was exhorted by the priests to remember the commandment of Moses in respect to their giving.
The Mosaic Law called for a tax of half a shekel (about 33 cents) on each male of twenty years old and upward, for the service of the Tabernacle, now the Temple (`Exod. 30:11-16`), besides which they might freely offer as much as they chose. It would appear also (`2 Kings 12:13-16`) that a regular accounting and division of the money was made, so that the people knew how their contributions were now being used, and could give directly to the Temple repairs. The result was a spontaneous giving of money enough for the work and to spare: and the awakening of the people to their sense of duty and obligation, and additionally their benevolence in the Lord's cause seems to have been generally profitable, arousing fresh interest in the proper worship of the true God.
We may draw some profitable lessons from all this, altho the Temple did not typify our church edifices, and its gorgeous adornment and costly furnishments do not convey a lesson favoring extravagance in church building to-day. Quite to the contrary, the plain synagogues of the Jews corresponded to church buildings, while the Temple typified the true Church, the glorified Ecclesia. (1) We may remember the Apostolic statement that as Christians our mortal bodies are individually and severally temples of the holy spirit, if so be that the Lord's spirit dwells in us (`1 Cor. 3:16,17`), and consequently it is our duty not only to keep our bodies pure and undefiled as possible, in thought, word and act, outwardly and inwardly, but it is a part of our duty also to take reasonable care of our physical systems to the intent that they may be the better exponents and channels through which the spirit of the truth in us may glorify God and bless those with whom we come in contact. This does not imply excessive carefulness or pampering, nor hesitation to use our strength to the very last in the service of our Lord, and in faithfulness unto death; but it does imply that we should seek to regulate our lives and so restrain our appetites that our eating and drinking and general course in life may be such as will fit us for usefulness in divine service. The Lord's people are not to live to eat, in self-gratification, but to eat to live, that they may be the better qualified to render service to him to whom they have consecrated themselves living sacrifices.
(2) The Apostle refers to the Church as a whole as the antitypical temple of God, in which each individual Christian is a member in particular: our Lord spoke of his Church from this standpoint when he said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up"--he spoke of the temple of his body, and the glorification of that body on the third thousand-year day, namely, at the beginning of the Millennium. In respect to this Temple of the Lord, each one of his people is to be very zealous that the Temple be kept in good condition, in good repair. To this end we are exhorted by the Apostle to build one another up in the most holy faith, to help one another, to encourage one another, to "restore one another," "if any be overtaken in a fault."
During the "Dark Ages" the nominal temple of God, the nominal church, fell into great disorder through false doctrines, false practices, priestcraft, superstition and general defilement. The Reformation movement of the sixteenth century did much to cleanse and renovate this nominal temple, but those who see in the divine Word the clearly drawn outlines of the true Temple of God, realize that the nominal temple is still in a deplorable condition. Our King enlightens us through his Word that the nominal temple is not the real Temple, and is shortly to be abandoned, with the close of this age. He shows us that the real Temple is yet to be built, and that the work of this Gospel age has been to quarry, then chisel and fit and shape, and then polish, the "living stones" for places in the true Temple of God, which is not yet completed.
He thus shows us that it is still our privilege to be co-workers together with God, and to help forward in this great work of preparing the great Temple, the spiritual, of which he is the foundation and capstone, and of which his faithful followers shall be living members and pillars. (`Rev. 3:12`; `1 Pet. 2:5`.) Our great work, therefore, is in connection with this future glorified Temple of God, (a) to co-operate with God in his work of grace in our own hearts, by which we are being fitted and prepared for a place in the Temple of his glory, and (b) to assist others, both by precept and example, for places in the same. Like Solomon's typical temple, this great Temple will shortly come together "without the sound of a hammer," every part fitting to its place perfectly. Then, shortly, the glory of the Lord will fill the temple; "then the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father;" then in and through this glorious Temple all the world of mankind shall be privileged to draw near to God, for forgiveness of sins and for reconciliation through the precious blood of Christ, and the great work of the Millennium will begin --the blessing of all the families of the earth through the "elect," the "royal priesthood."
LETTERS FROM EARNEST COLABORERS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I was much encouraged to receive yours of the 8th instant, and you indeed stated the matter correctly, for it was a great pleasure to me to be able to minister the truth to others, and where the opposition was the strongest, the Lord stood the closer by me and strengthened me. How I wish I could labor more in the service of the Lord than I do, just for that "sweet comfort and peace" that the Lord gives to those who rejoice in telling his truth. I find the more I labor the more I receive.
I am very glad to hear of Brother Ransom's contemplated tour in Texas this Winter, and I am sure that his visit will be productive of much good here. I have often wished I could meet some of the "pilgrims," and now it seems that my wish is to be gratified. As soon as I receive card announcing the time Bro. Ransom will arrive, we will make all necessary arrangements, and I will be glad to meet Bro. R. at the depot. I am of the opinion that the conditions existing here in the past have been an exception to the general run of events in other cities, and on account of such conditions I think the Lord has by various circumstances withheld the sickle of truth from being thrust in as thoroughly as it would otherwise have been. We wish to begin a systematic distribution of tracts at the different churches in this city, and to this end will be glad to have a further supply of tracts, and for the German-Lutheran churches we would be glad to have some tracts printed in the German language. Another Brother and myself have been distributing tracts in this manner, standing about a block away from the church;-- so as to avoid the appearance of a "special attack."
If you arrange for Bro. R. to stop at the places I have just recently visited, I would be glad to render what assistance I could in notifying interested ones of his arrival. If I can be of any service, advise me.
Yours in Christ, E. J. COWARD.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I wish to tell you that your recent TOWER articles have been a great help to me, especially the one entitled "Purify Your Hearts, Ye Double-Minded." It led me to examine myself more closely, and in so doing I found in myself more or less of double-mindedness which, by the grace of God, I am earnestly endeavoring to overcome, and I am so pleased to tell you that I am making blessed progress. I more than ever realize my privilege of being an overcomer if I only will to do his will. The article, "Ye Serve the Lord Christ," has also been a great help to me; it has taught me to be more faithful in little things in my every-day life, seeking to please him and cultivating Love more diligently in thought, word and deed; and Oh, the result is so grand: it gives sweetest rest and holy peace. It also serves to stir others up around us to let them know by our conduct that we are seeking to come closer to Jesus and more nearly to overcome the weakness of the fallen flesh, thereby making of ourselves living epistles. Oh, that we may all be kept humble and faithful to the end of our journey, is my earnest and sincere prayer. I desire an earnest interest in your prayers as I also always remember you with all the faithful of the household of faith. With warmest Christian love, I remain,
Your humble servant in Christ, MRS. R. FRITZ.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Brother M. L. McPhail came Saturday and held a meeting at Bro. Zorn's that evening. There were about fifteen present. On Sunday we had three meetings at our home, and many more came than I expected. I was so hungry to hear from "home" and to have someone to commune with who could expound these precious truths. When your card came, saying that Brother McPhail would be here on the 14th, I at once conferred with Bro. Zorn, arranged for the meetings and met Bro. M. at the depot.
There are quite a number of Seventh-day Adventists in this neighborhood, and some came to ask questions and to tell what their belief is; and how patient Bro. M. was, and how determined that all questions should be settled by God's Word alone! I cannot tell you how much good it did to those who came to hear him; but I can tell you that it filled my heart with gladness to hear him preach the good tidings. How any one can hear and not believe is a wonder to me, and I thank our Lord for his blessing. Hereafter, whenever any of our "Pilgrim" brethren pass near us, surely have them stop--my home will welcome all whom you may commend.
The WATCH TOWER is a great comfort to me, and my prayer to God is that he may bless and strengthen you. Your Sister in Christ, CAROLINE M. SMITH.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I want to give you a brief report of the meetings held here in conjunction with Brother Rogers' visit. We anticipated his coming with pleasure, and our expectations are more than realized. We had a blessed time indeed. How kind and gracious the Lord has been to us! Altho some outsiders received a blessing, it seems that the Lord intended specially to confer a blessing upon the little, lonely, scattered flock in this neighborhood. Our meetings were well attended, especially the second one, at which I think there were over 30 present. Brothers Jordan, Hampton and Weir were with us during the entire time, and symbolized their consecration by immersion with four of us here, making seven immersions. Bro. R. will no doubt give you all the names in full. The Baptist people kindly consented to let us use their baptistry, so we gathered there after the evening service to obey the Lord's command, and after the service we all felt happy and realized the Lord's favor and blessing more than ever. It has stimulated us to zeal and energy in overcoming and serving him more faithfully and joyfully with the best of our time and talents. One visible result of the meetings is that we have found several brethren and sisters who have been for some time searching for light in different directions, and we trust that they are true wheat and will be found of the truth and gladly receive and embrace it. We are truly grateful to our Lord for his kindness and mercy to us and also to his humble servants who were used of him to confer the blessings. Trusting that he will deem us worthy of another shower of the same kind before long and praying a continuance of his favors and blessings upon all his faithful servants and indeed all the household, we remain,
Yours in Love and fellowship of the truth,
G. B. IMHOFF.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Our August WATCH TOWER has just come, and I wish to thank you again and again for the words of strength and encouragement in its first article (have not had time to read all). It seems that as the time is shorter for you to work here in the body, you are given words to say, just the words that shall be a mighty power through God's blessing, when you shall be through with the work of writing with pen. Many faults in myself that I little thought were in me have you brought to my knowledge, and have opened my own heart, and I earnestly and joyfully thank you that you wounded to heal. We need not say we wish to be cleansed from all unrighteousness and then flinch when the cleansing comes. I think the very fact that some, yea many, sharp truths cut as we read them, is something to make us rejoice, as it shows that our Father is answering our prayers for cleansing: that we are his loved children tho we be still far from perfect. Because only those whom God loves as sons have their eyes opened to self to any extent; others, if they get but a glimpse of some hidden fault, will take refuge in anger and go faster and faster backward.
Our daughter is an earnest Christian, doing every thing unpleasant or pleasant, as the duty may be, as unto the Lord. She and I both pray earnestly each night for you, never forgetting, no matter how weary or sick we may be, and I am sure there are very many who have been blessed by your ministry who, like us, daily pray for you.
Your Sister in the faith, MRS. M. E. JOHNSON.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--A letter received from my people at home and one from Brother Draper go to show that great good has been accomplished by his visit to that locality, and that his visit was highly appreciated. I am truly thankful for this good news. About thirty attended each of the three meetings he held there, and all were interested, and those in the truth greatly benefited. As the Brother gave several discourses last year without the chart, he used it this time to good advantage.
The Washington friends are very glad to know that Brother Henninges will so soon be with us, and I am sure his visit will be timely and, I might say, providential; as just at this time there are several newly interested ones who have expressed a great desire to have someone give a chart discourse for their own benefit and the benefit of some of their friends who are likewise becoming interested through them. There will be about eight for immersion on this occasion, and this truly is a reason for much rejoicing and praise to God.
It seems that those coming into the truth now make much faster progress in knowledge of the deep things of God than heretofore, and I have been wondering if this is true in other places. May it not be that, as the time draws on for the closing of the door of opportunity, they who enter become more speedily enlightened regarding the deeper things? It certainly would seem that way so far as my observation goes.
Brother Hayes, formerly of Rock Island, called on me to-day, and we had a pleasant visit together in the office. He and Sister Hayes will meet with us next Sunday at our Anacostia meeting and will remain over to the meetings to be held by Bro. Henninges. We are having more than our usual allotment of meetings of late, and the more we have the better the friends here seem to like it. We certainly cannot have too many of the character we are having here now. We all enjoy them so much. We know that your prayers are with us, and you may be sure that all the Bible House friends have a share in our prayers, and may the dear Lord shower rich blessings upon all of like precious faith with us, be they near or far.
With Christian love to all the Church at Allegheny, I remain,--In Christ,--Brother J. A. BOHNET.
[Since the above was written, Brother Henninges has visited the Church at W. We have further good reports; eight were baptized.--EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Thank you for your letter of last week with its good wishes for my brother and his wife. I have not pressed the "present truth" upon them very urgently, but will still watch for opportunities and use them gladly.
::R2367 : page 296::
Yesterday (Sunday) I found my way out to the foot of Wilson Av., where our "brethren" gathered on the Lake front for a symbolic baptism service. We had our morning service in a fishing tent, seated around upon boards, caring little indeed for our surroundings, feeding upon the Word of life as set before us by Bro. M. L. McPhail, and showing forth God's praises in hymns and prayers from full hearts. Then followed eleven baptisms, six men and five women. Then we spread lunch under the trees on a pretty little hillock, and afterward held an open air meeting on the same spot. Bro. McPhail discoursed by request upon Paul's "absent from the body, present with the Lord" and context, answering questions and inviting them. He had a very quiet and earnest little flock of listeners--of several nationalities, American, Scotch, Irish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German and Polish, certainly, and possibly others. About fifty in all, men, women and children.
Before the morning service I looked in some wonder at the unattractive faces of some of the women, evidently used to continuous hard work and weariness. When I talked to them my wonder changed to another sort: the heavy faces lighted, and I discovered that their owners were not so dull as they had appeared; they seemed to know just where they stood, and were able to give a reason for the hope that is in them. And then I realized that even the plainest countenances were free from all hardness and bitterness, and I praised God for his great power unto salvation, and his sweet and wonderful ways.
The Lord's poor,--how different from the rest of the poor! And the quiet ways of these people, how different from some of less understanding in the divine Word! "The grave in front, a hating world in rear" seemed only to make them earnest, sober, patient, but not to have any terrors for them. "We must suffer with Christ before we can reign with him," a Danish Sister said, quite understandingly setting "Christian Science" aside. I am told that some of these people have scarcely missed a Sunday meeting in five and six years. Praying ever the Lord's blessing upon you all at the Bible House, with much Christian love,
Your Sister, ALICE L. DARLINGTON.