ZWT - 1901 - R2748 thru R2928 / R2799 (129) - April 15, 1901
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VOL. XXII. APRIL 15, 1901. No. 8.
Views From the Watch Tower........................131
Jews Looking Towards Christianity.............133
Communing with the Lord...........................134
Word from the British Branch......................137
As Seeing Him Who is Invisible....................138
"Whosesoever Sins Ye Remit they
"Be Not Faithless, but Believing".............140
Interesting Questions Considered..................141
Not the Lord of the Dead......................142
Words of Cheer and Encouragement..................142
Items: Volunteer Work for 1901, Etc...............130
LETTERS FOR THE EDITOR SHOULD BE SENT TO ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A. SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, "BIBLE HOUSE," 610, 612, 614 ARCH ST., ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
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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.
ENTERED AS SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER AT ALLEGHENY, PA., POST OFFICE.
WE HAVE plenty of the Missionary Envelopes now. Postpaid 25 cents per hundred. $2.00 per thousand.
WE HAVE the "Marked New testament" in good supply again. Two copies for 25 cents, postpaid.
YES! THE OFFER of four six-months WATCH TOWER subscriptions for $1.00 is still open. When you thus send to your friends, write them in explanation and commendation.
SILENT SERMONS TO VISITORS.
Notice the statement above--"To Us the Scriptures Clearly Teach." We have this printed on fine card board, rounded corners, size 11 x 14 inches, with silk cord. This should hang prominently in all of your homes. We have also imported a new silver text card with motto for 1901, and one of another style. We propose supplying the three securely packed in a tube, postpaid for 15 cents.
VOLUNTEER WORK FOR 1901.
Remarks respecting the new tract "Food for Thinking Christians," No. 52, are favorable: all of our readers seem to consider it well calculated to awaken interest wherever it may be read. We are getting ready large editions for the "Volunteer" service on Sundays, near Protestant churches and are now ready for your orders; many are already received. We will fill these in part soon, and you may order further as needed.
It is time now to prepare by choosing a "captain" and enlisting as many volunteers as may be able and willing to serve. Let your "captain" report to us the names of volunteers, the numbers of churches, the average attendance at these, and his estimate of the quantity of the booklets needed, and the addresses to which they are preferred to be sent.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
SOME misunderstood an item in our March 1 View, namely, that we commended the course of the Boers and Filipinos and condemned Socialism. Nothing of the kind was meant.
(1) THE UNITED STATES AND THE FILIPINOS.
The Filipinos would have been much wiser to have thrown themselves upon the mercy and justice of the United States and, expressing thanks for deliverance from Spanish misrule, to have asked for civil and religious liberty under the protection of this great Republic. But their ignorant failure to take this course did not make it right to ignore their aspirations for liberty, and to treat them as enemies on this account. Rather they should have had from the very start distinct assurances and guarantees of as much liberty as they could show capacity for;--eventually full freedom. But the right policy was offset by land-hunger, commercialism and the spirit of empire building, willing to spend thousands of lives and millions of money for its gratification. This we condemn as being contrary to the spirit of Christ, the spirit of love, and as sure to bring its own reward in due time.
(2) THE BRITISH AND THE BOERS.
Others thought that we commended the Boers, because we rebuked the British Ministry's lust for empire extension that would give British capitalists the control of Boer gold and diamond fields, at, however, a far greater cost of British lives and money than they expected. No one is deceived by the claim that the war was precipitated by Mr. Chamberlain's desire to free the Boer slaves and correct the Boer morals: everybody knows that he had plenty of room to work along those lines at home, where thousands of white children are still the wage-slaves of commercial selfishness, and need deliverance and schooling and moral training. Neither are sensible people deceived by the plea that the war was precipitated by love of liberty and the desire to give the ballot to the assorted white foreigners, called Uitlanders. This was the pretext by which the statesman who engineered the war for commercialism and empire deluded the British masses and got their support. Indeed, the claim that Britain forced the war by insistence, that her own sons, known as "Uitlanders," should be allowed to expatriate themselves as British and swear allegiance and support to the Boer republics, is laughable. The Boers well knew that such an oath to such men who openly avowed their hostility would be meaningless--that at the very time they were ready to take the oath of allegiance these men were conspiring for a revolution. In refusing the franchise under such circumstances to such persons, they did what every Briton would have done if in their stead.
We by no means commend the Boers! We deprecate their low ideas of civilization, their practice of slavery of the native blacks, and their lack of liberality; --their narrowness and selfishness. But two wrongs do not make one right; and in our opinion the Boers should have been permitted to possess their land, and gradually improve its government as their ideas enlarged. It is but very few years since Britain took the step of giving the ballot, even under limitations, to her own sons. We love and respect British character far more than that of the Boers; and we refuse to believe that the British masses would have sanctioned this land-stealing war in South Africa, had they not been blinded and deceived by their trusted political and financial leaders. Our appreciation of the
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Britons does not mean a love for their rulers, but for the people who more than once have shown their sturdy love of principle to the extent of compelling their rulers to adopt at home the very liberal government which they now enjoy as a consequence. But as the "god of this world" is using Doctors of Divinity to blind many to the divine plan and its justice and love, so he uses Doctors of Finance and Doctors of Politics to blind noble and liberty-loving nations to the rights and liberties of others. Thank God, the liberty of "the prince of this world" will soon be curtailed, that he shall "deceive the peoples no more."-- `Rev. 20:3`.
However, it is not and has never been our wish to dabble in worldly politics. We are citizens of another country, even a heavenly, and have our Lord's Word for it that none of the earthly kingdoms are his; but that they all are under the domination of "the prince of this world"--"the god of this world;" Satan, who will continue to blind and deceive the masses until our Master, according to promise, takes the Kingdom and restrains Satan. (`Rev. 20:3`.) Then the blinding influences being removed and the true light shining, all men shall see clearly, and all the worthy will rejoice.
Our object, in these occasional Views from the Tower, of Babylon's matters and affairs, is to have all those who belong to the "holy nation" (`1 Pet. 2:9`) see how widely astray are all the kingdoms of this world, even tho they call themselves "Christian nations" --"Christendom." We who are in harmony with the Lord and his righteousness must realize that the entire social structure is out of joint, else we could not so honestly and earnestly pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven,"--knowing that the coming of God's Kingdom means the utter wreck of earthly kingdoms, in a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.
Whoever sees no fault in present arrangements and conditions, but approves them, is not very fit for the Kingdom, nor to be made one of the rulers under the new regime. On the other hand, however, we do not understand it to be the duty of the Lord's consecrated people ("the saints") to tirade and fight against the world, but to submit to its ordinances, except when conscience would be violated (`1 Pet. 2:13`), waiting patiently for the Lord's promised Kingdom as the only hope. Such are to realize that the worldly are blinded, and not to expect any to see the truth except such as have been specially blessed of the Lord and called to joint-heirship with Christ in the Kingdom, on condition that now they shall suffer with him for righteousness' sake.
(3) SOCIALISTIC PRINCIPLES APPROVED.
Some supposed us to be antagonistic to Socialism. Quite to the contrary; we are very sympathetic toward its aims, and merely object that they are wholly impracticable under present conditions. Unquestionably the new age will see many of the ideas of the Single-Taxers and Socialists, modified, in successful operation, under the auspices and backed by the power of the Heavenly King and his Kingdom, then in full control, and Satan bound.
But we warn any of the saints against building their hopes upon any relief which Socialism now promises. That anchor and its cable are of sand, and will crumble into direct anarchy as soon as put to the test. Our faith and anchor, on the contrary, are sure--faith in the promises of God. This faith anchorage fastened in the divine power will endure every strain. In proportion as any look to earthly sources for the deliverance of the "groaning creation" (`Rom. 8:19-23`) they are turning their backs on the heavenly Deliverer. And in proportion as we trust in the deliverance that is to be brought about by the second advent of Christ and the glorification of his elect "little flock," to be the Kings and priests of God's Kingdom, in that same degree we must rest all our confidence in it.
True, if all the princes of earth, including the financial, the "captains of industry," were to combine to establish Socialism, its temporary success would seem to be assured; but no sane man dreams of such conditions. And if established all will admit that it would be but an experiment, with the strong probabilities, all would admit (with the certainty, we would claim), that it would frequently contend with anarchy and have a continual fight. With the spirit of selfishness entrenched in the hearts of the individuals, could we suppose that the endeavor to live collectively on the opposite basis of love would be very successful?
Socialism can only succeed to a limited degree at present--to the extent that it benefits the intellectual and wealthy as well as the poor. Any attempt to carry it further will precipitate anarchy. Present aggregations of capital and industry are favorable to Socialism-- governmental control, by the people and for the people. The masses seeing this will ere long attempt to grasp the throttle, expecting capitalists to submit to save their lives. But they are mistaken. Money and brains and selfishness are a strong combination, self-confident, resourceful, powerful. The result, as the Scriptures foretell, will not be Socialism but anarchy, humbling to the pride of the rich and the poor, the reformer and the demagogue. But that extremity will be the Lord's opportunity, and on the ashes of human avarice and pride and boastfulness and self-confidence will be erected the strong equitable government
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of Messiah for which we watch and pray, "Thy Kingdom come."
We commend to the interested a fresh reading of MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. IV., The Day of Vengeance, in which we discuss this subject at considerable length.
JEWS LOOKING TOWARDS CHRISTIANITY.
We have published several articles of late showing that Jewish teachers are gradually turning from a hatred of Jesus (as the originator of what they consider a false religious system) to an admiration of him as one of their race, whose teachings have benefited the world and influenced it for justice and mercy more than any other. Below, however, we give a few of the words of a prominent German Jew, B. Levita, recently published in the Preussische Jahrbuecher (Berlin), in which he advocates (merely nominal) Christianity as the only real relief for the Jews from the social ostracism under which they grieve.
After recounting that the Jew is now refused admission to many clubs and associations and rejected from offices in the Prussian army, he proceeds to point out that Jews are neither more nor less religious and conscientious than these nominal Christians; because both are formalists, but the forms and ceremonies of the Jews are sad, doleful, and relate mostly to the remote past--the exodus from Egypt, etc., and are national rather than personal,--while the nominal Christians practice rites and ceremonies which, however little they really believe them, are consoling or happifying; personal and cheering, rather than saddening. For instance, infant christening (for males and females) is a bright, sunny occasion, the reverse of the bloody circumcision of Jewish male infants; and nominal Christian marriage and death services and social functions are all bright and attractive and consoling as compared to Jewish customs. He argues that it is these links between Israel and the past that hinder his social progress, and that as people of little belief or no belief can and do associate under the name Christian, so may the Jew, who may equally maintain his unbelief or partial belief, become a Christian and share the amenities of life without prejudice. A free translation of the conclusion of his plea may be summarized as follows:--
"It is our religion alone that keeps us apart from the rest of the German people; yet we reject reform upon a Christian basis. We may say that we are no longer Jews,--yet we cannot become Christians. We can not believe in the divinity of Christ. But do the progressive German Protestants, with their higher criticism, believe in it? No; yet they hold fast to the old forms. The same ministers who teach from the pulpit an undogmatic Christianity are compelled to pray to the Holy Trinity before the altar and confess their faith in the 'Son of God.' This cast-iron 'I believe' is still there, and we can not, will not, pronounce the formula, for we can not believe. A mere formula, a piece of paper, divides us from our most enlightened Christian German brothers.
"But what shall we do? Are we to found a new Jewish-Christian sect in which Christ is recognized as man only? That would only separate us again, and we are tired, so very tired, of separation. Back into Jewdom we will not go; into the German nation we can not go. The terrible cry of our forefathers is still fulfilled in us: 'His blood be upon us and our children.'
"Our children! Why should we transmit the curse to them? Why should they suffer for a cause which is no longer anything to us? I have it! If we find in Christianity the true religion with the exception of a single doctrine that has lost its force, then we must not educate our children as Jews. The piece of paper which hinders us does not exist for our children. Let them take part in the great spiritual battle which is being fought out in the ranks of Christianity. Ours was the prophet who destroyed the law and taught eternal love. Let the wandering Jew die. Let our children become Christians."
* * *
How evident it is that when, shortly now, God shall turn away Israel's blindness they will be in as ready a condition to receive the truth as nominal Christendom will be;--yes, more ready. But not yet. The idea of worshiping Jew Jesus as Jehovah is preposterous to him, and so arouses his contempt that he is unready to even listen to the truth--esteeming that this is the very basis of all Christianity. Hence the above suggestion of Levita is merely that, for the sake of their children's social future, they join the masses in mere outward profession of things they could not conscientiously consider for a moment.
The "great gulf fixed" still remains, and will remain unbridged until the special work of this Gospel age (to which Israel as a nation was blinded by divine decree) has been accomplished;--until spiritual Israel, the elect bride of Christ, has been "sealed" and "garnered." Then the individual blessings of the new age (the Millennium) will begin, and Israel will be first to receive the blessing of the "latter rain." "I will pour upon the house of David the spirit of grace and supplication [in the midst of "Jacob's trouble"] and they shall look [with the eye of faith, as we do now] upon him whom they have pierced. And they shall all mourn because of him, as one mourneth for his only son." Then and thus they shall all be saved from their blindness and be granted full opportunity of obtaining everlasting salvation through the Crucified One, then being installed as the King of Glory. --`Zech. 12:10`; `Rom. 11:25-32`.
Let us never lose sight of the fact that not until "the times of the gentiles" expire, and not until
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"the fulness from the Gentiles" have come into the Church and been glorified, can the individual blessings of the Millennium be expected; and then to the Jew first. Whatever of Millennial work precedes that time is general, pertaining to the nations and systems;--preparations for their overthrow and for the establishment of Messiah's Kingdom upon the ruins of present day systems.
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COMMUNING WITH THE LORD.
`LUKE 24:13-35`.--APRIL 21.
"Did not our hearts burn within us
while he talked with us by the way!"
"A LITTLE talk with Jesus, how it cheers our lonely way!" writes the poet, and who that is a Christian has failed of this experience? And fortunate are those who early learn, that while we should greatly appreciate our privilege of talking with the Lord, in prayer, we are to recognize that it is not this that brings the full blessing; but our attentive hearing, understanding and appreciating what he says to us;--the Word of Truth. Our hearts burn while he talks and we listen, more than when we talk even to him.
Toward evening of the day of our Lord's resurrection, two of his followers, one of them apparently Simon Peter (`vs. 34`), the other Cleopas, passed along the country road leading from Jerusalem to Emmaus, about eight miles distant, evidently the home of Cleopas who would entertain Peter, whose home was in Galilee. Like all the followers of Jesus they had been greatly exercised and perturbed by the remarkable events connected with our Lord's last visit, in connection with the Passover--his triumphal entry into Jerusalem; the cleansing of the Temple; the routing of his ecclesiastical foes in debate; his remarkable teachings during those few days; his arrest, trial and crucifixion. The excitement of their hearts made other business for the time impossible, and they spent the day in Jerusalem probably without knowing just why, except that they desired to be in touch with fellow believers. They shared with all the Lord's friends in the considerable excitement, resulting from the reports given by the sisters who went to embalm our Lord's body, that the tomb was empty and that they had seen angels who said that Jesus was alive again.
Full of the subject so close to their hearts, they were discussing in animated conversation the likelihood and unlikelihood of the reports they had heard, and in general the Messianic hopes of themselves and their nation, which they had trusted would have been amply fulfilled by Jesus, whose death seemed to throw all of their expectations into confusion. It was at this juncture that Jesus was drawing near them, disguised in a body of flesh and ordinary clothing--with a face different from what they had previously recognized, yet nevertheless gentle, soothing, sympathetic. He inquired the occasion of their discussion, which seemed to be respecting some sad subject. This kindly interest was not resented as an intrusion, but rather their burdened hearts rejoiced to find a sympathetic ear to which their perplexities could be related. How much of human nature there is in all this! How favorable is a time of adversity and perplexity in which to approach those whom we desire to assist; but how necessary it is that we should learn of the Master how to approach with such sympathy in word and act as to gain the hearts of those whom we would serve and bless. Love is the secret of gentleness, of sympathy, of all real heart-helpfulness. In order to be more useful in life, the Lord's people need to become more and more filled with his spirit of love;--copies of God's dear Son.
It was no deception on our Lord's part to inquire what things they were sad about, altho he knew everything
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better than they. It is sometimes the part of wisdom not to tell all that we know, if we can the better help others by inquiring of them. In this instance we can see the wisdom of our Lord's course, for the minds of the two travelers were lifted from any points of disputation and drawn to a general review of the circumstances of the preceding days, and this furnished the best foundation for our Lord's exposition of the meaning of and the reason for the things which perplexed them.
Jesus did not reply to their surprised expression that he must be a newcomer in the city not to have heard of the wonderful things that had recently transpired. He let them proceed to declare their faith in him and how they viewed the situation. The portion of their conversation recorded implies clearly that however much their confidence might have been shaken respecting our Lord's Messiahship, and their hopes, that it would have been he that would have redeemed (delivered) Israel from the Roman yoke and exalted her as God's agency, the seed of Abraham, for blessing all the families of the earth, they still believed in him as a great Teacher, a prophet--"mighty in deed and word before God and all the people." This was a good confession, all that could have been asked, and quite sufficient for our Lord to use in rebuilding their confidence in himself, in his Messiahship--on a surer, a better, a more positive foundation.
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While it was expedient for him to start the matter by questioning them, it would not have been wisdom to have continued thus to any great length; for he had the message, they needed the instruction: we, as his followers, may learn a lesson from his course in this also. As soon as he had their minds in the channel to receive the lessons he would give them, he began to open unto them the Scriptures concerning himself--to expound them, to show their true meaning and fulfilment. We here see the proper course of the teacher illustrated by the great Teacher himself. As he went to the Scriptures and brought forth from them evidences of divine foreknowledge and prediction respecting the things that were transpiring before their eyes, so we, if we attempt to teach others, should not be content with offering our views, our opinions, our conjectures, but should search the Scriptures and be able, from that source to give to every man a reason for the hopes that are within us--that his hopes, as well as ours, may be built up, not upon the theories of men, but upon the inspired teachings of God's Word. Higher critics, Evolutionists, etc., never follow the method which our Lord Jesus here emphasized as the proper one: on the contrary, denying any special inspiration of Moses and the prophets, they ignore them, and offer instead, as of superior value, their own conjectures. Let us not only ignore such teachers as blind guides, attempting to mislead the Lord's flock, but let us also, to whatever extent we have opportunity to teach others, see that we follow not in their footsteps, but in those of our dear Redeemer. "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word there is no light in them." (`Isa. 8:20`.) And those who follow such teachers as have "no light" are sure to get further and further into darkness.
We are not informed what features of the Law and the Prophets our Lord enunciated; but we can surmise that he pointed out to them in Moses' writings various features of the Law which pointed to himself as the paschal Lamb, whose death must take place before the first-born and all Israel could be delivered from the bondage of sin, and from the great task-master, prefigured by Pharaoh, and be led ultimately into the Canaan of promise. We can surmise that he recalled to them Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, the typical seed of promise, and how this represented the actual death of Messiah, the antitypical seed, the Son of God. We may presume that he called their attention to various of the psalms, which prophetically spoke, not only of the glories of his reign, but also of his sufferings and his death, and his subsequent exaltation to the right hand of the majesty of God. No doubt he called their attention also to the utterances of Daniel the Prophet, respecting Messiah's being cut off in death, but not for himself. Undoubtedly he reminded them of the words of Isaiah, that Messiah should be led as a lamb to the slaughter, be despised and rejected of men, and how, nevertheless, in due time God would set him as his King upon his holy hill, Zion.
Spellbound with this wonderful exposition of the divine Word, his listeners drank it in, realizing its truth by the manner in which it harmonized the various testimonies of God's Word--nor did they think for a moment of inquiring of their teacher whether or not he had an ordination from the scribes and Pharisees, with a license to preach. They perceived that he had a divine ordination, and this was fully attested by his ability to make clear to them what other teachers could not make clear.
The eight miles of the journey seemed all too short, as they reached their home, and they were loath to part with the wonderful teacher, whom they supposed they had fallen in with by accident, never dreaming to what extent divine providence was guiding their affairs. It was drawing toward evening, and the stranger was bidding them adieu, as tho intent upon a further journey; and indeed, he surely would have gone from them had they not been sufficiently appreciative of what they had already heard to constrain him earnestly to remain with them and partake of their hospitalities. So it is with all of us, as the Lord's disciples whom he is instructing, after we have been taught of him. If our hearts fail to burn with responsive love and zeal and appreciation, the blessing will pass from us and we will fail to reach the climax of joy in a full recognition of who our Teacher has been. While the Lord draws nigh to us with his grace and truth, without solicitation, he passes us by unless his message is appreciated so that we shall constrain him, urge him to abide with us, to continue the conversation--unless we shall proffer him in turn our hospitalities, our temporal things, in endeavoring to make some slight recompense for the spiritual favors showered upon us.
Our Lord accepted their urgent invitation and remained; supper was prepared, and recognizing their new acquaintance as a great teacher or prophet they requested that he should return thanks for their evening meal. It was while he was thus asking a blessing upon it and upon them that the eyes of their understanding were opened--it dawned upon them that their guest was no other than Jesus himself! Perhaps the language used in the blessing was such as they had heard him use before, or perhaps in some other way their understanding was opened.
Having accomplished his purpose, our Lord vanished from their sight. Thus, in addition to the instruction impressed upon their minds, he showed them by this vanishing that he was no longer the man
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Christ Jesus--that he was "changed"--that the resurrected Jesus was a spirit being, who could come and go like the wind, as he had explained to Nicodemus (`John 3:8`), appearing and disappearing, as he had never done previously, but as angels had frequently done. Moreover, they realized from this illustration that our Lord could appear in any kind of a body, and with any kind of clothing, as might best serve his purposes. They did not know him by the marks in his hands and his feet, nor by the seamless robe; for he had not appeared to them in these, but in another form, as an ordinary traveler whose features they did not recognize. Had he borne the prints of the nails in his hands and his feet they surely would have noticed them during their long walk; just as Mary would surely have noticed them when she grasped our Lord by the feet. But they had an explanation of the whole matter now; they understood why this stranger had been able to present the divine word with such clearness and force and beauty as to cause their hearts to burn with fresh love and zeal and hope. They were glad.
Let us pause here to note some of the conditions which evidently led up to this blessing, that we may apply the same to ourselves, realizing that our Lord operates very generally along the lines of fixed principles, and that if we would be the recipients of his special favor and instruction, and have our hearts burn with the spirit of his truth, we should expect such experiences along somewhat similar lines to those observed in connection with the two who went to Emmaus. We remark, first, that this is an illustration of our Lord's promise that where two or three are together in his name--considering him, his word, his promises, his blessings--there he will be in the midst, and a blessing shall result. This may be in a country road, in the home circle, or in the more general gatherings of the Lord's people for worship, prayer and study of the truth. How this reminds us of the injunction, "Forget not the assembling of yourselves--and so much the more as ye see the day drawing on." Who has not noticed the blessing that comes to those who remember these promises of the Lord's Word, and who act upon them? Who has not noticed in his own experience, as well as in that of others, the danger of neglecting these admonitions--the danger of doubts, fears, indifference, coldness, worldliness? It is undoubtedly true today, as much as or more than ever, that we need such fellowship, and it is to such who seek it that the Lord reveals himself.
Let us mark again the word of the Prophet, "They that feared the Lord spake often together; and the Lord hearkened and heard it," and noted it in the book of remembrance. Let us remember, too, that it is declared of such, "They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in the day that I make up my jewels." (`Mal. 3:16-18`.) We are not saying that others will not be the Lord's, nor does the Lord say so; but we may be well assured that those
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who have opportunities for meeting together and speaking together, and who fail to use the opportunities, are manifesting a lack of interest in our great salvation; and that such are very likely to lose the remainder of their interest, and failing of the Lord's instruction given to such, that they may fail also to be amongst the "jewels" whom he will gather. If on the contrary one feels little interest in the heavenly things, little disposed to discuss the features of the divine plan and its promises, and happy only when conversing on worldly matters, business, etc., it is an unfavorable sign. The Lord is not likely to approach such and open their understanding respecting the Scriptures, as he surely is pleased to do to those who are hungering and thirsting after truth.
Many are so situated that they are unable to gratify the desires of their hearts in respect to assembling frequently with others of like precious faith, to talk over the good things of the Lord's Word of promise; but the isolated should not feel disappointed that the Lord's Word says that he will meet with the twos and threes, and does not promise the same to the solitary. They should rather look about them to see what provision the Lord has made whereby at least two can meet and discuss his Word together. We suggest, dear friends, that the Master has made special arrangements for all of his people in this respect in our day; for all, the world over, who so desire may have such a meeting at least twice a month, through the regular visits of the WATCH TOWER--and he that hath no money has the same opportunities as others (as will be seen by the terms on the second page of each issue). We believe this is a divine provision for the necessities of many, and we urge that all avail themselves of this as well as of every other privilege the Lord may grant for fellowship, for communion in spiritual things. The written message is not different from the spoken one.
The Editor of this journal, through its columns, is pleased to meet with those of the Lord's people who desire fellowship and communion respecting the Lord's Word; and the reading of expositions of the Scriptures in the WATCH TOWER differs nothing from hearing the utterance of the same words by any living person who might meet with you. We claim no infallibility for our presentations, nor do we simply offer our opinions and conjectures, after the manner of the scribes and Pharisees; but rather after the manner of the great Teacher, we seek to present to the minds of those interested the teachings of Moses and the prophets, and to voice the testimony of Jesus and the apostles, and to show the harmony of the Scriptures.
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As soon as the Emmaus brethren recognized their guest, and he vanished, they understood well the meaning of the joy, the refreshment and the burning zeal in their hearts which his expositions of the truth had inspired. They had thus a confirmation of the words of the angels to the sisters in the morning, that Jesus was risen. The news was too good to be kept, even until the next morning. They must and did start immediately for the city, altho it was a journey of at least eight miles. How different their feelings as they set out in return from those when they left the brethren at Jerusalem, their hearts sad and their minds full of questionings! Now they were full of joy; for they saw that our Lord's crucifixion, so far from being the end of their hopes, was really the foundation for them; that as our Lord explained, "Thus it behooved Messiah to suffer before he would enter into his glory"--that unless he had suffered--died--the race would not have been purchased at the hands of Justice, and the condemnation of death would still rest upon it and make any permanent blessing impossible; but now, the redemption price having been paid, the way was open, first for the reconciliation of the Royal Priesthood who should be joint-heirs with Jesus as the Seed of Abraham, and subsequently, in God's due time, would follow the times of restitution of all things, the blessing of all the families of the earth.
Some such thoughts as these engaged them as they returned to Jerusalem, and arriving at the upper room found the eleven (except Thomas--the term "eleven" being used in a general sense, and not a particular sense, as referring to the apostles in general and not to the exact number) with others of the company assembled. Then there was general rejoicing in the information that Jesus had revealed himself to Peter, as they related their joyful experiences, and how the Lord had been known to them in the breaking of the bread and the asking of the blessing. Doubtless it was this experience that led subsequently to the custom of the disciples having a meal in common on every first day of the week, at which they again in imagination recognized the Lord present in their midst, blessing the bread and opening the eyes of their understanding. Thus each first day of the week they called to mind how he opened unto them the Scriptures and sought to keep the eyes of their understanding open and to grow in grace, in knowledge and in love.
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WORD FROM THE BRITISH BRANCH.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--There is nothing special to narrate at present, but I shall drop you a line on general principles. The 13 cases came on Friday about 6 P.M. By Saturday evening at 10, they were all opened and the contents properly stowed away, thanks to the fact that they were so far as possible packed in parcels, and thanks also to two brethren who came in to help--one on each evening.
The outlook for DAWNS is good this year, and if the 5,000 last ordered are sent via Baltimore I think they will not be here much in advance of the time they are needed. The lot just received came in the nick of time, so far as cloth and leatherette are concerned. I think we will not at present go very deep into the matter of Volunteer work by secular hands, as a more excellent way seems to be available; i.e., moving the Colporteurs into some of the territory where at present we have no readers, and thus getting Volunteer as well as Colporteur work done there. They all do Volunteering on Sundays, so it will be no new thing to them.
The Church in E. London had their annual business meeting last Tuesday. They unanimously requested me to serve as pastor for the coming year (from March 1), and at my request as unanimously requested Bros. Bull (A. C.), Guard and Lightfoot to serve as assistants.
Some time ago you gave it as your opinion that the twentieth century would not have advanced far without showing some great "sign." I reckon you hit it pretty close, if the Morgan-Rockefeller-Hill Trust be taken as a "sign." The papers in England talk about Mr. Morgan "syndicating the world." What do you think of `Isa. 5:8` in this connection? If the parable be taken as a representation of "Christendom," which was foreshadowed by the first "house of Israel" (`v. 7`), we see that God gave Christendom the advantage of the "choicest vine" (Christ, `John 15`), and when he looked for justice and righteousness as the fruits (`Gal. 5:22`), behold oppression and a cry. The combine seems to be losing no time in seeking to acquire control of the world's interests in various lines (Mr. Morgan is coming to Germany this month to combine his crowd with the German steel combine), "that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth," and may make great profits out of it. But `verse 10` should be a warning to them, and a comfort to God's people, for one bath equals only eight gallons, and one ephah is but a tenth of a homer. "Great will be the fall thereof" in anarchy, I presume.
Spoke last evening on `Matt. 6:33`, showing that the Lord here puts God and the things of this world as possible "masters" of his disciples. We cannot serve both, "therefore I say unto you," etc. If we serve the things of this world, as the nations do (cares of this life, etc.), God's word will be unfruitful in us; but if we serve God, seeking first his Kingdom and righteousness (if we seek and find his righteousness, we shall also find his Kingdom, `2 Pet. 1:5-15`), all these things shall be added to us, and in fact shall be OUR servants, instead of we in bondage to them.
Notwithstanding the course of this world being opposed to those who seek God's righteousness, the Father will overrule in the affairs of his people that
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those who seek first his Kingdom, etc., shall not be deprived of the necessaries for an honest living. Godliness has "the promise of the life that now is," etc. Showed how some misunderstand this passage to authorize an idle waiting for the necessaries of life to fall down on them, because they take the wrong thought from the Lord's reference to birds and lilies. It is true that birds do not sow or reap, and that lilies do not toil or spin, but also true that birds do not know how to sow and reap, nor do the lilies know how to spin. But the birds get their food in God's appointed way for them, and the lilies get their glory in God's appointed way for them. So man must get his food in God's appointed way for him, and any Christian who seeks to get it in another way is "disorderly." (`2 Thes. 3:7-11`.)
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The idea was to show that this passage does not authorize begging or idle waiting for the Lord's people to supply one's needs. Would you think these views correct?
Hope you are as well as usual. We are in fair health, and rejoicing in the Lord. With love to all, in which Sister H. joins,
Yours faithfully in Christ,
E. C. HENNINGES. [Manager British Branch.]
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AS SEEING HIM WHO IS INVISIBLE.
--`JOHN 20:19-29`.--APRIL 28.--
"Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed."
AS THE news of our Lord's resurrection spread amongst his disciples it naturally drew them together seeking for fresh evidence respecting it. Then arose the fear that the spite of the priests, etc., which had seemingly been satisfied in the crucifixion of Jesus, would now extend to his disciples; and no doubt this thought was emphasized by the recollection that the Lord, speaking of his own sufferings and experiences, warned the disciples that they would be cast into prison and suffer persecution for his sake. No wonder, then, that when they met in the upper room that first Sunday night, the doors were shut for fear of the Jews, and we may safely conclude that this means that they were barred, bolted, locked in some manner.
Scarcely had the two from Emmaus finished their account of how Jesus had appeared to them on the way and at Emmaus, when suddenly they were all terrified at seeing a stranger standing in their midst. It was Jesus, and this was his third manifestation on this day of his resurrection (counting that of `Matt. 28:9` and `John 20:14` as the same; and that of `Luke 24:15 and 34` as the same). He came into their midst, not by opening the doors, as some have suggested, but strictly as the narrative reads, "the doors being shut." The security which was felt from having the doors fastened, caused the disciples to feel the more terror, when they beheld a stranger with them, but Jesus quickly assuaged their fears, saying, "Peace be unto you!" and then showed them his hands and his side, that they might note the marks of his crucifixion and the spear-wound, that thus they might identify him with the crucified one. This evidence, added to what they had already heard, was convincing to all who were present, and they were glad. No doubt our Lord's previous manifestations were intended to lead up to this general presentation. He had stimulated and cultivated the faith, not only of the ones to whom he had appeared, but also of the entire company, through them, by the method adopted.
Women seem to be able to exercise faith more readily than men; hence our Lord appeared first to Mary, and through her prepared the hearts of the others, as we have seen. It requires the masculine mind rather longer as a rule to reach the position of implicit faith; he calls for more evidences, more proofs, and our Lord was not unwilling to give these. However, had this appearance in the upper room in the evening been the first manifestation and information respecting our Lord's resurrection, we can readily suppose that it would not have produced the faith and joy it did produce. Wonder, astonishment and "reasonings" required the entire day for their exercise, and by the time our Lord showed his hands and his side this culmination of evidence was convincing.
After the disciples believed, Jesus again used the words, "Peace be unto you," but now as believers the words had to them a new meaning; they began indeed to find a peace for their troubled hearts which they had not known for some time. Since they realized their Master to be again alive they could afford to have peace, for they had learned to have confidence in him and in his love, and intuitively realized that all things would work together for good to them, under his care, tho as yet they knew not how. And so it is still. It is only those who realize in Jesus their Redeemer and Lord, who died and who rose on their behalf, and who have given themselves to him to be his disciples--only such can really receive of his peace--"the peace of God which passeth all understanding" ruling in their hearts. So today, as well as then, and even more abundantly under the holy spirit's guidance, they can realize that they are not their own, and that all things are under divine supervision, working for their highest welfare.
"My peace I give unto you," were our Lord's
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words on the night of his betrayal, at the supper, and "Peace be unto you," were his words when first he met the disciples together after his resurrection. He is indeed the Prince of Peace, and the grace of peace which he gives to his faithful disciples is a blessing beyond all measure, such as the world can neither give nor take away; but this peace is based upon certain conditions of the heart: first, faith, trust in God; secondly, obedience, on our part, endeavoring to do those things which are pleasing in God's sight. To such and such only comes the heavenly peace, and in proportion as either the faith is lost or the obedience lacking, the peace flies away. Whoever, therefore, believes himself to be a child of God, trusting in Jesus and consecrated to the Lord's service, and seeking to walk in his footsteps, should expect the Lord's peace to rule in his heart, giving him rest, no matter what his circumstances or conditions in life; and if any of this class are without the peace let them look to it and repair the difficulty, for they are lacking either in faith or in obedience, and with the revival of these the dove of peace will surely return. Another lesson here is, that however much strife and contention his message, the Truth, stirs up among men, our Lord himself was always peaceably disposed and a peacemaker as respects others; and so all of his disciples are to be. "Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called children of God." Whatever of strife may come in contact with the Lord's people it is not to be of their production or cultivation; and even when they speak the truth, which will necessarily cause strife, they are directed to "speak the truth in love," in meekness, in gentleness, and with long-suffering and patience, and not in strife.
Then, saying to his disciples, "As the Father commissioned me so I commission you," our Lord breathed upon them, adding, "Receive ye the holy spirit." The Father's commission to the Christ, the Royal Priesthood, was all addressed to the Head, the Chief Priest, we having no standing with the Father except through him, and no other commission than his for our service. Our Lord's words imply that we as his disciples are to be engaged in the same work that he is engaged in. He did not finish the work completely, but merely finished one part of it--the part which he was to perform in the flesh, the redemption. Another great part of the work is to be accomplished at his second advent in power and great glory; viz., the blessing of all the families of the earth with a knowledge of divine grace and an opportunity for returning into full fellowship with the Father and to eternal life. His commission covered this entire work, as represented in the promise of God to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed," and our Lord explained to the two brethren on the way to Emmaus that it behooved him to suffer for the sins of the world before he should enter into his glory, and ultimately begin the work of their blessing, because he could not have the power or the authority to bless until first he redeemed from the sentence of death.
And this is the commission which our Lord and Head has in turn committed to his followers. We are sent on the same mission, and hence it is declared that we are to suffer with him in the present life--to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ"-- and then to share with him in his glory in the blessing of all the families of the earth. How grand a commission! What a great privilege to be invited to walk in his steps--of trial and suffering now, and of glory, honor and immortality by and by! Whoever appreciates this privilege will show his appreciation, not only in words, but in deeds, in truth, by laying aside every weight, and the easily-besetting sin, and running with patience the race set before us in the Gospel.
The breathing upon them was evidently symbolical; an illustration of his words, "Receive ye the holy spirit," by which, when, fifty days later, they would receive the Pentecostal blessing and adoption of sons, they might know that while the holy spirit is of the Father it is nevertheless by the Son. And so the apostles understood it, as Peter subsequently explained.-- `Acts 2:33`.
"WHOSESOEVER SINS YE REMIT THEY ARE REMITTED."
We are not to understand that either the Father or the Son gave over to the apostles or to others the power of remitting sins. We see, indeed, that sins could not be remitted by power, but only by the satisfaction of Justice, and that hence it was necessary for Jesus to die for our sins, and to rise for our justification, before those sins could in any sense of the word be remitted. The most that could possibly be understood from our Lord's words is that he would so supervise the words and writings of the apostles that in every instance they would lay down such directions respecting sins and their forgiveness as would be in full accord with the divine arrangement--that thus they might act as mouthpieces of God explaining to men the nature of sin and the terms of its forgiveness. This view we know is fully borne out by the facts in the case. The apostles did define sin and the terms of forgiveness, justification, reconciliation, etc., in a manner entirely satisfactory, in a manner in which our Lord himself never explained these things; because he left this work for his apostles to accomplish in his name and under the guidance of the holy spirit.
This commission is grossly misunderstood and misapplied by Catholics, who claim for the pope, the bishops and the lower clergy of their institution the right, the power, the authority, to forgive sins,--to determine
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what penalties shall be inflicted, and to offer release from such penalties on certain conditions of their own making. It is in support of this claim, and as an adjunct to it, that Papacy has established "the sacrifice of the mass," by which it claims that all of its priesthood can so consecrate flour and wine and water as to make of these the actual flesh and blood of Christ, which then being broken they claim is Christ sacrificed afresh, as the basis or authority for their forgiveness of sins.
We claim, on the contrary, that all of the Royal Priesthood (under Christ, the Chief Priest, and under the directions given them through the chosen apostles), are fully empowered to declare to the world the terms upon which sins will be covered, cancelled, remitted,-- and consequently the terms without which there is no remission. The right to do this comes, not through any power or authority enjoyed by the under-priesthood now, but as a result of the information which they receive of the holy spirit, through the inspired utterances of the apostles. By these means "we have the mind of Christ," and know clearly the terms upon which he is willing to receive sinners; viz., upon repentance, and faith in him, and consecration to his service. Any and all of the Royal Priesthood are privileged to tell this good message to whoever may have an ear to hear it;-- but we are instructed of the Lord not to expect that many will have the hearing ear now, but to know that the present is rather the time when only the few specially blessed of the Lord will be able to understand and appreciate this grace of God by faith.
"BE NOT FAITHLESS, BUT BELIEVING."
One of "the eleven," Thomas, was not with them on the evening mentioned. This would imply that he had disbelieved the stories told by the sisters respecting the message of the angels and the Lord's manifestation to Mary. He evidently thought them laboring under some delusion and excitement, which he ought to discountenance, and he therefore did not meet with the others to confer respecting their newly begotten hopes; they might enjoy such ephemeral hopes if they chose, but as for him, he could not do it. Having seen the crucifixion and the wound in the side, he could believe nothing else than that the Lord was still dead. And even when the apostles met him the next day, and told him how Jesus was in their midst and showed them his hands and his side, Thomas still disbelieved, and told them that he would not even trust to the sight of his eyes, which might be deceived. On his part he would want also an opportunity to feel the print of the nails and to thrust his hand into the spear-hole in the Lord's side. If he could have such evidence he could believe, but not otherwise.
Our Lord's followers today, as then, differ constitutionally to a considerable extent. Some find it easier to exercise faith than do others. It was right that Thomas should take care not to be deceived in the matter, but it was wrong that he should be so deficient in faith as to stand out stoutly in disbelieving when he had his evidence from so many of the brethren whose honesty he could not doubt. However, the Lord is very patient and long-suffering toward us all, and so he was with Thomas to the extent of granting him the very evidence which he had said would be satisfactory.
A whole week passed without any manifestation of the Lord to any of the disciples; however, the next first-day of the week (Sunday, "the eighth day," the Jewish method of counting including both days) found the Lord's followers gathered in hope of some further reports, evidences, etc., connected with his resurrection, when Jesus again "appeared," and we may well suppose them full of interest and suppressed excitement not unmixed with disappointment, and fear that they might see him no more. But all this was a part of the lesson they needed;--for meantime they must have reasoned out that a great "change" had come to our Lord, that he was no longer a man as before, but a spirit being, who exercised the powers of angels in respect to his appearing and disappearing,--coming and going invisibly "like the wind." Thomas meantime, altho still sceptical, had become sufficiently interested to want to be present, to want to receive any proofs or evidences that could be adduced by which he would know that his dear Lord was now alive again. As before, Jesus came into their midst, the doors being shut, and again gave the word, "Peace." How beautiful and how blessed it would be if the Lord's people whenever they come together, to meet each other and to meet Jesus in spirit, would greet each other with
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this salutation from the heart,--"Peace be unto you!" Uttered in the right spirit it should imply that their hearts were in a peaceable condition, seeking each other's peace and welfare and to avoid strife. This meek and quiet spirit would have a quieting and pacifying effect to a considerable degree upon any others present in such a meeting who had less of this holy spirit. The spirit of peace is contagious amongst the Lord's people, even as the spirit of anger is contagious in the flesh. "My peace I give unto you," said our Lord; and hence whoever has not this spirit ruling in his heart lacks an important evidence of discipleship. The Apostle classes the contentious with those who are disobedient to the truth (`Rom. 2:8`); yet allowance is to be made for weakness of the flesh in this as in other respects; and to "contend earnestly" for the truth (in a spirit of love) is commended. (`Jude 3`.) Whatever our natural dispositions may be, the indwelling of the Lord's
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spirit is sure to be manifest in "the peaceable fruits of righteousness."--`Heb. 12:11`.
Immediately our Lord addressed Thomas, thus indicating his thorough knowledge of his doubts and fears; he invited him to come forward and have the very evidences which he had declared would be necessary. We presume that Thomas did as he said, altho the account does not mention it; it is implied in his prompt confession of his faith in the words, "My Lord and my God!" We are not to suppose that by this expression Thomas meant that he recognized the risen Jesus as being the Heavenly Father, as some would suggest: on the contrary, we are to remember that amongst the Jews the word "god" signified mighty one, and was sometimes applied to angels, and sometimes to great, influential men, as well as to the All-mighty One, Jehovah. God, mighty one, was an appropriate title to apply to our Lord Jesus; but in no event should Thomas' words be understood either to be wiser or truer in any sense than our Lord's own expression of a few days previous, when he said, "I have not yet ascended to...my Father and your Father; my God and your God." As the angels were elohim, mighty ones or gods, to mankind, so Jesus, God's beloved Son, was properly recognized by his disciples as being far more than man, as being a mighty one, a god; and Jesus, in turn, recognized the Father as his God as well as ours. With this view all is reasonable, consistent and harmonious. With any other view of the subject there is confusion.
Our Lord did not reprove Thomas for his hard-headed determination to have indubitable proofs before he would believe; but he did tell him of a more excellent way,--that while it is good to believe upon the basis of physical sight and physical touch, there is a still higher attainment of faith than that, which is able to see things that cannot be seen with the natural eye, and to feel things which cannot be felt with the natural touch. He would have Thomas and us all realize this well; so that we might the more cultivate this spiritual sensibility: not that he would have us credulous and ready to believe without evidence or testimony, but so filled with true faith and confidence in the Father's mighty power, and in Christ's own promises, that we would be ready to believe certain things upon the evidence of others, yea, to expect those things.
And this has been the condition of acceptance with the Lord throughout this Gospel age. We have not seen Jesus except with the eyes of our understanding; we have not heard his voice except as we have heard with the ears of our hearts; yet this is the more blessed faith;--the kind more appreciated by the Lord himself than the kind which would be satisfied with nothing but a tangible demonstration. A time is coming in which God will give to the whole world of mankind tangible evidences respecting all the features of the divine plan. Faith will then be swallowed up in sight, but when that time shall have come the rewards of faith which are now held out will no longer be open. Other rewards will be given, rewards of obedience; but they will not be so great as the rewards of faith.
Now, while it is dark, before the Sun of Righteousness has arisen with healing in his beams, to scatter all the doubts and fears and hindrances, the Lord puts a premium upon faith, and only those who can and do exercise it may and do have certain rewards, privileges, opportunities and blessings. Of the Gospel-age-little-flock it is written, "We walk by faith and not by sight." We endure, "as seeing him who is invisible;" we run for a crown and a throne which we may see only with the eye of faith; we obey the voice of him who speaketh from heaven, but whose voice now is the still small voice, which only the few who exercise faith can hear, appreciate and understand. By and by the time will come when this voice shall shake the earth and cause the knowledge of the Lord to fill the whole earth. Obedience then will be proper and bring a blessing; but obedience now, even unto sacrifice of earthly interests in following the footsteps of him who set us an example, brings the greater blessings--the blessings which pertain not only to the life which now is, but also to that which is to come,--the blessings of glory, honor and immortality.
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INTERESTING QUESTIONS CONSIDERED.
EARTHLY TREASURES VS. HEAVENLY TREASURES.
Question.--Since I find that the approaching time of trouble will mean anarchy and the destruction of all values, I feel little disposed to put forth energy for more than life's necessities. Is this right or wrong?
Answer.--In reply, we are sending you a TOWER of April 15, 1896, which contains some interesting items.
It is our opinion that the disorders prevailing during the time of anarchy will render title to property null and void, so far as transfer or sale will be concerned. Nevertheless, it would not be unreasonable to expect that a home of modest appearance would as likely be respected as anything. Rents and mortgages, we think, would be of little account as a reliance for income. Similarly, insurance will probably be of little value; the mutual societies failing first when the "hard times" come, and thus assisting in bringing the anarchy. People who are learning to depend on such assistance will be the more despondent and desperate when this reliance fails.
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But all this, while it should properly hinder us from having the world's spirit of land and money hunger, should not hinder us from reasonable energy in our business; for surely, even if money would lose all value at that time, there is still opportunity for using it wisely in the Lord's service in the interim, and should we not thus to some extent be conforming our course to the Master's words, when he admonished that we lay up treasures in heaven, where it will be safe?
NOT THE GOD OF THE DEAD.
Question.--If the dead are dead, and an awakening, a reanimation, is necessary to future consciousness, in what way should we understand our Lord's comments on God's words to Moses, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob"--"Not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live unto him?"--`Luke 20:37,38`.
Answer.--This is to be understood from the standpoint mentioned by the Apostle when he tells us that the believers should not sorrow for their dead friends, as do others, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, let us also believe that those who sleep in Jesus will God bring [from the dead] by him." While the original sentence was not that man should sleep, in Jesus or otherwise, but that he should utterly die, lose all life and all rights to life, yet God shows us that it was his plan from the very beginning to provide a Redeemer, and that in the redemption sacrifice the ransom would be paid and mankind be released from the original sentence. It was in view of this plan that God spoke to all the faithful of the times past respecting his purposes. Thus it was that he said to Moses that he was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--the God who had made promises to these that would surely be fulfilled, promises which declared that in them and their seed all the families of the earth would be blessed, promises, therefore, which implied their awakening from the dead, and which implied, therefore, that from the divine standpoint they were not extinct, not annihilated, but merely resting in death until the due time should come, mentioned by Job, when he says, "O that thou wouldst hide me in the grave until thy wrath be overpast; then thou shalt call and I will answer thee, for thou wilt have a desire unto the work of thy hands." (`Job 14:13,15`.) The "wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness" now, and has been so revealed ever since father Adam's transgression. It is revealed and may be seen in all the sickness and pain and trouble and dying, and just as the Apostle says, makes of the world in general a "groaning creation, travailing in pain together, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God"--waiting for the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom, under Christ the Head and the Church his brethren, his bride, his body.
Our Lord was answering the Sadducees, who deny that there will be any resurrection of the dead, and he offered this testimony in proof, not that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not dead, but in proof that there would be a resurrection for them, which would have been an impossibility had they become, as the Sadducees claimed, extinct. Our Lord, in other words, tells us that all those who are in harmony with him are not, in his estimation, dead, in the full sense of the word dead, but merely for the time being sleeping and waiting until the morning. As the prophet declares, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" --the resurrection morning. Had it not been his plan to have a resurrection, God would not have referred to Abraham and others in such a manner as he did.
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WORDS OF CHEER AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--We have to report for "Volunteer" work for 1900 as follows:--
Churches. TOWERS distributed. Under direction of
53 8,000 Bro. W. T. Thorn.
317 28,672 Bro. A. M. Graham.
Total 370 36,672
We still have about 1,000 TOWERS which we will distribute during the present month.
We are all prepared for a new campaign. At a meeting held Sunday p.m. Brother A. M. Graham was chosen "Captain" for 1901, with instructions to make requisition for necessary ammunition. I send you a copy of the New Volunteer roll-call of 43 names --21 brethren, 22 sisters. We think the above report a good basis; we will certainly need as many as 36,000 as there is little doubt of our being able to accomplish as much as last campaign, as shown above. We did more last year than in the previous one, covering more territory and giving out more TOWERS. We have reached every suburb within 10 miles, and in some directions going 14 miles out. It is 20 miles from extremes of this territory (Boston). The enthusiasm and zeal was inspiring; there was no grumbling and no shirking. Our last day's work was done with the thermometer at 3§ above zero, some of the friends traveling 16 miles to get to the field.
The fact that this work is "doing with our might what our hands find to do" has stimulated the zeal of us all. No other service has ever seemed so fruitful in blessings to the Lord's flock. It was grand to note the tact and skill some of the Volunteers learned to use in managing the "rams" and "goats" in the Babylonish flock, who made trouble occasionally. Generally the "soft answer turned away wrath." We received many a "God bless you," and met many who had read and enjoyed the DAWNS. We found our Brothers Sherwood
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and Jones in the Babylonish camp. Both withdrew-- Brother Jones becoming a Volunteer. On one occasion a Bible class teacher came out and asked for TOWERS to give to his class, saying, "I want every one of my scholars to have one of those papers." Again, on another occasion, the Pastor of a church came out and asked to see the TOWER, and after looking it over said, "Stand right there on the steps; I will be glad to have my people read that paper." There is scarcely a week that we do not meet some one who read that TOWER and was blessed in the reading. It has been a blessed work, every way and no doubt the present healthy spiritual condition of the Church here may be considerably attributed to this work--its influence is sanctifying.
Our yearly meeting on Jan. 2 was a love feast, and gave evidence of spiritual growth on the part of all. All hailed the news of another tract for distribution with joy and responded to the call heartily. During the past year Brother and Sister Black and Sister Mason, and quite recently Sister Mower, have entered the Colporteur service, and we still pray the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers into the field. The past year has been one of spiritual growth and blessing under our dear Lord's leading, for which we praise him and gather fresh courage and confidence for new battles, and we trust, new victories--both within our hearts and without, as he may be pleased to send. Dear Brother, pray for us. Your brother in Christ,
ALEX. M. GRAHAM,--Massachusetts.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I write to express, as well as I may in words, my thanks and love to you for this grand message of helpfulness to the Church in the April 1 WATCH TOWER, on `Rev. 3:10`. It came to us in the "nick of time," and O, how it has cheered and strengthened our souls. It is a companion piece to "Pressing Toward the Mark," and I wish we had the two articles in pamphlet form together. I have been
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thanking our heavenly Father and you over and over again (nor do I consider it a vain repetition) for those helpful, solicitous words. I am so rejoiced to believe that the Lord is directing your mind to the upbuilding of the "little flock," and we are getting in each issue of the TOWER just what each individual case requires. I read with pleasure and profit often those hymns in "Zion's Glad Songs."
We are still having severe trials in a business way, and also on account of the Truth, but we have plucked from the orchards God's precious promises, hope, love and patience and, as a result, thank God, are still pressing on toward the mark of love, the perfection of character which is most pleasing to our Lord. My prayer for all the saints is that nothing shall hinder or separate us from the love of God, but that we may come off more than conquerors through him who hath loved us.
With much love from Brother Raymond, myself and the brethren here, I remain, yours in the one Faith,
MRS. G. B. RAYMOND,--New York.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Many, many thanks for your very kind letter of encouragement to me last October. I am the one of whom Brother Henninges wrote, telling you of my dismissal from the Farnsfield Wesleyan School, Notts., because of my loyalty to King Jesus. There was not one other thing they could find against me, and they admitted I was the very best schoolmaster that had ever been there, but my religion they would not have. My testimonial from the chairman of the managers says, "His moral character is without reproach."
I have not yet heard of another situation, but I am glad that this has happened to me, for I take it that it is a "Witness of the Spirit that I am a child of God." Is not that so?
With care, and God giving us (my wife and myself) a comparative measure of health and strength, we have been enabled to save a few pounds, and thus I have been enabled to go into the Harvest Field, "Gathering Sheaves for Jesus," [colporteuring] and doing whatever I can for the dear Master who has done so much for me.
My work so far, with regard to the sale of the DAWNS, has not been very successful, but I am "content with what it is my Father's pleasure to bestow," and thus "gladly all surrender to the Lord."
My dear wife is also trying to do the same, but she is not as firmly grounded as I am, and therefore, dear Brother, pray for us, that I may stand firm, and that I may help her along the pathway. I find the work very profitable as regards growing in love for the groaning creation, in the same sense that God so loved the world. I hate the sin, but love the blinded ones for whom Christ died, and would gladly do anything that lies in my power for their benefit, my enemies as well. Praise the Lord, it is my enemies that are keeping the fire under the sacrifice, and therefore I cannot be angry with them for it.
There is a great apathy amongst the people for religion, and they would much rather talk upon any subject than Christ. Several people have refused to listen to me on the DAWNS, because of the free WATCH TOWERS which we have been distributing at the doors of the different places of worship on Sunday mornings, but on the other hand there are instances where they have been the means of selling DAWNS. Last Thursday I had the grand opportunity of witnessing for the Master to two ministers of the Gospel, one a Baptist and the other a Mission minister. The former said he had not any time for reading them, but the latter after some little talk took a book--Vol. I., and I pray the Master may open his eyes to the glorious light. My whole time is now devoted to gathering the "wheat" from the "tares." I am glad to be doing this work, and prefer it to teaching in school, if I can only make a simple living. L.1 per week in the Saviour's army is more to me than double the amount in secular work.
Dear brother, I must tell you of the kindness I have received from several of the brethren on this side the water. Our Brother and Sister Smedley of East Kirkby, Notts., said to us before leaving the district, that "so long as Tom and Mary Smedley had a home" we could share it with them; and since I have been here (300 miles away), I have received a letter from them asking whether I needed any financial assistance.
Again on New Year's day there was a convention at Manchester (I was the speaker in the morning, taking for my subject `2 Tim. 2:15`), and when I was coming away, Brother Hodge, with whom I was staying, said that if ever I was short of money I must let him know and he would gladly give me some, as he only
holds what he has as a steward. I just mention this to let you see the spirit that pervades the whole family.
Dear Brother, altho we have never seen you, yet we love you and all the dear brethren. You are daily mentioned in our prayers, that the Master may strengthen you and be with you.
Yours in our Redeemer and King,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL AND ASSOCIATES:--My visit to the "Bible House" has been a blessing to me. It has let me into an experience that adds a significance to life. If I know myself I have made a full surrender of myself and of the powers of my being to God in every sense of the word, and I do hope I shall be kept faithful to my present attitude. I am ignorant, but I have realized this,--that full consecration to God brings the blessing, and won't you remember me in your prayers for all the dear brethren and sisters that I may be kept and that my life may be spent in God's service? I had despaired of ever coming to a knowledge of the truth; but surely if you have come to a satisfactory understanding of the Bible why may not I? I feel that I have hope of becoming grounded in the truth, but it is this experience--this realization of full consecration to God and of my acceptance in the Beloved--that I am most anxious to maintain.
Excuse my writing, I can scarcely write for attending to my flowing tears of joy. Oh, what an experience has come to me! I ask myself, will it last? For if it does I shall indeed be a changed man and my life will be a changed life.
I am so glad I went down and found such a devoted company of brethren and sisters. I have the card "To-Day" hung up by my desk; I am committing it to memory, and want it to be the rule of my daily life. I wish I was nearer the Bible House so that I could get strength from Christian fellowship. It was like a heaven to me being amongst the brothers and sisters there. I had no idea there was such a work being carried on.
I have been greatly exercised long--indeed all my life with varying interest--but especially for some years back, over questions which I realize it is for my highest welfare to have settled. I hope my visit to the "Bible House" will lead to this end; I shall spare no effort to accomplish it. While amongst you an influence took hold of me that I believe will have a lasting effect upon my life. Last night while reading "Tabernacle Shadows" and looking up a reference in `1 Peter`, I read the epistle through, and felt that it was all for me. There is a oneness of spirit between me and the Bible now, that seems to make doubt of its authority impossible. Evidence of the divinity of the Bible comes, I believe, through the spirit of God upon the heart, and not through the intellect from outside testimony. By my visit to Allegheny I have been led to consecrate myself and all my interests to God, and I do hope I shall be a faithful follower of the leadings of the spirit.
As you know, my visit in its inception was purely a business one, and came about in rather a strange manner. I had no idea I was going amongst such a devoted and deeply interested people, among whom there is such brotherly love as of one family and one spirit.
Surely God will keep me from this time on and forever if I only continue to trust, and not fall into my own way, and my own desire that my life shall be so and so; but be willing from moment to moment to accept my task and my burden and rejoice that I am counted worthy to suffer--to suffer for what shall I say? --for God? for Christ? for the truth? I don't know what to say for fear I may say wrong, and this is for lack of a knowledge of the truth. But I don't want to wait till I read anything before beginning to live and experience what I found your people living and experiencing. Your brother in the spirit,
L. SHUTTLEWORTH,--New York.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Enclosed please find "Pilgrim" Report for past 15 days, with nine WATCH TOWER subscriptions. The audiences at Hayne have been unusually large and appreciative.
Nearly four years ago, while en route to Hayne from the preceding appointment, it was necessary to lie over at Selma an hour or two, while waiting for a train. During this time I distributed "Do You Know?" tracts amongst the business houses of that town (as I had done before, and have done frequently since, while waiting for trains); Brother Hare, proprietor of a drug store, receiving one, and becoming interested, sent for DAWN, and reading it, became deeply interested. He then presented the work to Brother Homer, who also became deeply interested, and later he presented it to another brother, who also became very much interested. By one tract these three brethren are now TOWER subscribers, and two or three others are becoming interested.
This circumstance encourages me to continue the work of Tract distribution in the future--to "Sow the seed beside all waters."
With much Christian love to yourself and other dear friends in office and home, I remain your brother and servant in the Lord,
FRANK DRAPER,--North Carolina.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--We have been reading the DAWNS and TOWERS for over five years and have never written to thank you, but we can assure you they have been appreciated, and have established us in the precious faith. We thank God continually for being so good to us in sending us such help for the study of his Word. It was but a few months after we started in the Christian way that the dear Lord sent them to us. We have been so glad that we got no further into Babylon. We joined the Methodist church on probation, but when we got the truth we saw we were in the wrong place and quietly dropped out.
We tried to convince some of the brothers and sisters of the truth of this glorious doctrine, but only one seemed to have "ears to hear" the good tidings, and he seems to have a hard time to overcome his love for popularity, and until lately has made but slow progress; but thank God, he is beginning to see more plainly now. We attended the Chicago convention, and what a wonderful feast it was to us to see so many of like precious faith, and feel the hearty shake of their hands, and hear the words of love and wisdom proceed out of their mouths. And now may the dear Lord grant you wisdom day by day to carry on the good work he has intrusted to you. Pray for us that we may endure to the end. Yours in the love of Christ,
MR. & MRS. J. W. BELL,--Michigan.