ZWT - 1913 - R5152 thru R5372 / R5211 (097) - April 1, 1913
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VOL. XXXIV APRIL 1 No. 7
A. D. 1913--A. M. 6041
"Shall a Nation be Born at Once?"................. 99
Two Classes Born in Zion...................... 99
Rejoice With Jerusalem........................100
Qualities and Attributes of Jehovah...............101
The Omnipotence of Jehovah....................101
"God is Love".................................102
The Permission of Evil........................102
The Conflict Between Flesh and Spirit.............103
The Conflict Ends with Death..................104
Discerning the Will of God........................104
The Oneness of the Body of Christ.................105
The Gospel of Hope................................106
"The Whole Creation Groaneth".................106
Hated Without a Cause.............................107
"If We Suffer With Him".......................108
Afflicted, Yet a Comforter........................109
The Value of Adversity........................110
An Interesting Letter.............................111
Berean Questions in Scripture Studies.............111
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
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ON MEMORIAL SUNDAY
On April 20th, at 10 a. m., at Brooklyn Tabernacle, an opportunity will be given for symbolic baptism.
We are giving timely notice of this year's Conventions to permit the friends to arrange their affairs accordingly, and to decide which they may prefer to attend. Places and dates as follows: Pertle Springs, Mo. (near Warrensburg).......June 1-8 Hot Springs, Ark.............................June 1-8 Madison, Wis...........................June 29-July 6 Springfield, Mass..........................July 13-20 Toronto, Canada............................July 20-27 Asheville, N. C............................July 20-27 Mountain Lake Park, Md.....................July 20-27
BETHEL HYMNS FOR MAY
After the close of the hymn the Bethel Family listens to the reading of "My Vow Unto the Lord," then joins in prayer. At the breakfast table the MANNA text is considered. Hymns for May follow: (1) 165; (2) 1; (3) 160; (4) 176; (5) 191; (6) 327; (7) 12; (8) 130; (9) 260; (10) 324; (11) 195; (12) 145; (13) 90; (14) 312; (15) 315; (16) 108; (17) 299; (18) 314; (19) 301; (20) 72; (21) 201; (22) 107; (23) 109; (24) 87; (25) 16; (26) 257; (27) 5; (28) 29; (29) 135; (30) 151; (31) 93.
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"SHALL A NATION BE BORN AT ONCE?"
"Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a Man child. Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children."--`Isa. 66:7,8`.
THE name "Zion" was anciently applied to a prominent hill of Jerusalem, generally regarded as the southwestern and highest of those on which the city was built. It included the most ancient part of the city, with the citadel; and having been first occupied by a palace, it was called "the city of David." (`2 Chron. 5:2`.) It was also called the "holy hill," or "hill of the sanctuary" (`Psa. 2:6`), being the original site of the tabernacle pitched by David for the reception of the ark.
By the Prophets the name "Zion" was often put for Jerusalem itself, and also for its inhabitants, who were sometimes called sons and daughters of Zion. The word was often used in a wider sense, as was Jerusalem also, to signify the entire nation of Israel. And since fleshly Israel was typical of Spiritual Israel, the name "Zion" applies with still deeper significance to the Gospel Church, a term which throughout the Gospel Age included the entire body of professed Christians, of whom all the truly consecrated are on probation for full membership in the Church triumphant--the true Church, the Zion of the future and the true Zion of the present Age, the Elect Little Flock, to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom. (`Luke 12:32`.) In the symbolic application of the term we must, therefore, judge from the character of the prophecy whether the reference is to the fleshly or to the Spiritual House of Israel, or to both; and, if to the latter, whether it applies in its broadest sense to the nominal Gospel Church, or to the Elect Little Flock, the only true Church in God's estimation.
The symbolic travail in the above prophecy is a reference to the great time of trouble--the travail that is to come upon the nominal Gospel Church, great "Babylon," from which some are to be accounted worthy to escape. (`Luke 21:36`.) This is indicated by the preceding verses, which locate the time of this prophecy as synchronous with that wherein is heard "a voice of noise [confusion] from the city" [Babylon], and "a voice [of truth and warning] from the Temple" [the Elect Little Flock of consecrated and faithful ones], and "a voice of Jehovah, that rendereth recompense to His enemies"--in the great time of trouble.--`Isa. 66:6`.
The travail that is coming upon nominal Zion--"Christendom," "Babylon"--will be a great and sore affliction, "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation." (`Dan. 12:1`.) But the marvelous thing the Prophet here has to record is that a Man child is to be born out of Zion before this travail comes. This is a striking reference to the fact, elsewhere clearly taught, that the ripe wheat of the Gospel Church are to be separated from the tares, that they are to be gathered into the barn condition of safety before the burning, the consuming trouble, shall come upon the latter. (`Matt. 13:30`.) This Man child, therefore, is the Little Flock--the true Zion in God's estimation, the Body of Christ; as it is written, "There shall come out of Zion [the nominal Gospel Church] the Deliverer [The Christ, Head and Body], and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [fleshly Israel, or Zion]."--`Rom. 11:26`.
TWO CLASSES BORN IN ZION
This is the Man child that is to bless all the families of the earth. (`Gen. 28:14`; `Gal. 3:16,29`.) The birth of the Man child is the First Resurrection. Blessed and holy are all they that have part in the First Resurrection. (`Rev. 20:6`.) Such are now begotten of God by the Word of Truth, and quickened by the Holy Spirit (`James 1:18`; `Eph. 2:1`; `Rom. 8:11`), and in due time--before the travail --they will be born in the glorious likeness of Christ.
The birth of the Man child began over eighteen hundred years ago with the resurrection of Christ Jesus. There the Head of this Body of Christ came forth; and as surely as the Head has been born, so surely shall the Body come forth. "Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord: shall I cause to bring forth and shut the womb? saith thy God." (`Isa. 66:9`.) Ah, no: "the Man child," The Christ complete, the Great Deliverer, shall come forth!
Yet "who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things?" for not only shall the Body of Christ, the true overcoming Zion, the "holy nation, the peculiar people," be delivered out of nominal Zion before the travail; but when she travails, a Great Company of other children will be born. This is the Great Company described in the Apocalypse as coming up out of the great tribulation, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (`Rev. 7:14`.) The Body of Christ, the Man child, born before the travail, will be composed of those who heard and obeyed the call, "Come out of her, My people," etc. (`Rev. 18:4`), and who were counted worthy to have a part in the First Resurrection.
The many children born through the great tribulation
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will be those believers in nominal Zion, Babylon, who have allowed themselves to become measurably intoxicated by the spirit of Babylon, the spirit of the world, and who, therefore, are not quick to discern and prompt to obey the voice of the Lord in this harvest time. They fail to see that it is harvest time, and consequently fail to understand the separating work which the sickle of Present Truth is accomplishing. They regard those servants of God who wield the sickle as enemies, who oppose them and the Lord, whom they serve.
The great tribulation, or travail, that is coming upon nominal Zion is the only thing that can convince such as these. This class includes a large number of believing children of God, whose manner of life is righteous and generally circumspect, but who are nevertheless worldly-minded, and who are not rendering themselves a living sacrifice to God, following the Lord through evil and through good report, and meekly bearing the reproach of Christ. They have respect to men's opinions, traditions and plans, and fail to submit themselves fully to the will and plan of the Lord. And only when they behold the wreck of nominal Zion--Christendom, Babylon--will they realize its gross errors and be delivered from them and it.
CHRIST A STUMBLING-STONE TO SPIRITUAL ISRAEL
"Behold," says the Prophet, "I lay in Zion a stumbling-stone and rock of offense; and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed." (`Rom. 9:33`; `Isa. 8:14,15`; `28:16`.) That stumbling-stone is redemption through the precious blood of Christ. At that stone the fleshly Zion stumbled, and so now the nominal spiritual Israel is stumbling at the same stone; for it was to be "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel" (`Isa. 8:14`)--the fleshly and the spiritual.
The Elect Little Flock of overcomers do not so stumble, but recognize this as the chief corner-stone of the true Zion, remembering the words of the Prophet, "Behold I lay in Zion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded. Unto you, therefore, which believe [in Christ as your Redeemer who bought you with His precious blood] He is precious; but unto them which be disobedient,...the same is made...a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the Word, being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed." (`I Peter 2:6-8`.) God does not purpose to deliver His Kingdom unto any of the disobedient. They need the fiery trial of the coming tribulation to bring them into a proper attitude before God; and hence they must come up through the great tribulation.
While those who are truly begotten of God, who have been quickened by His Spirit to the new spiritual life, and who are faithful in fulfilling their covenant of entire consecration as living sacrifices unto God, may well rejoice in hope of the First Resurrection, and of being born before the travail upon nominal Zion, it is also a cause of rejoicing that many of the weaker children of God, now stumbling with nominal Zion, will, nevertheless, by and by be recovered and saved so as by fire [born] through the great tribulation [travail], in which nominal Zion shall expire, but from which they shall come forth.
REJOICE WITH JERUSALEM
"Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her." "Behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem and joy in My people, and the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying."--`Isa. 66:10`; `65:18,19`.
This call to rejoice with Jerusalem immediately follows the prophetic announcement of the birth of Zion, the terms Zion and Jerusalem being here used interchangeably. The birth of Zion, the exaltation of the Body of Christ to Kingdom power and glory, will indeed be a cause for rejoicing on the part of all people. It is for this exaltation and manifestation of the sons of God that the whole creation waits, groaning and travailing.--`Rom. 8:19-23`.
When the true Zion is thus exalted, then will follow the great work of the Kingdom. The travail upon nominal Zion immediately succeeding will quickly liberate the true children of God still in her, and they shall come forth to larger views and higher principles, and to develop into nobler characters. The rule of the iron rod will quickly subdue all things, completely breaking up the whole present social fabric and accomplishing the leveling process which will make ready for the reign of righteousness.
Then the great Millennial reign of righteousness will begin, when every man will have a full, fair opportunity to gain everlasting life by faith and obedience to the New Covenant. And no man's opportunity will be less than a hundred years; though if he wastes all of that time without taking any steps toward reformation, he will be considered unworthy of life and will be cut off in the Second Death. (`Isa. 65:20`.) But the obedient shall eat the good of the land. (`Isa. 1:19`.) "They shall build houses and inhabit them [there will not be so many houses to let in those days probably, but improved and cultivated homesteads, in which the owners shall take pleasure and comfort]; and they shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of My people ["They shall renew their strength"--`Isa. 40:31`]; and Mine Elect [all the faithful and obedient then] shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed [the children] of the blessed of the Lord [the Church], and their offspring with them."-- `Isa. 65:21-23`.
"And it shall come to pass that before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear"--so near will the Lord be, so mindful of all their interests. "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together [The reference here may be to men formerly of wolf-like or lamb-like character, or to animals, or to both--the expression signifying in any case a reign of peace]; and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock, and dust shall be the serpent's meat [--another expression similar to, 'His enemies shall lick the dust,' signifying the destruction of the serpent, or rather of Satan, whom the serpent symbolizes]. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain [Kingdom], saith the Lord."--`Isa. 65:24,25`.
Thus the birth of the true Zion will be a cause for rejoicing among all who truly love righteousness: for though it will first dash in pieces all their long cherished hopes, it is the dawn of real hope for all the world. It will humble all their pride, despoil them of all their cherished possessions and what they have come to esteem their rights, break down all their boasted institutions, civil, social and religious, and completely wreck all order and all hope, until they begin to see hope in the new order of things inaugurated by the Kingdom of God.
Yes, rejoice with Jerusalem, Zion, and be glad with her, all ye that love her, as well as all ye that mourn for her now and try to dissuade her from her course, not seeing the prize at the end of her life of faithful self-sacrifice; for soon her glory will appear, not only to her own exceeding joy, but also to the joy and blessing of "all the families of the earth."
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QUALITIES AND ATTRIBUTES OF JEHOVAH
THE SCRIPTURES declare a "beginning of the creation of God." His qualities and attributes were the same then that they are now; for the Scriptures also declare His unchangeableness--"the same yesterday, today and forever."--`Hebrews 13:8`; `Psalm 90:1,2`.
The completeness of the Divine perfection is such that companionship is not necessary to the happiness of Jehovah. The One who "inhabiteth eternity" is self-centered. The creation of angels and of man was indeed His pleasure, because, benevolently, He desires to do good, to give capacity for pleasure and to afford it opportunity for gratification. Furthermore, the highest good of His creatures calls for an exhibition to the full of all the elements of Divine character--Divine Justice, Love, Power and Wisdom.
BELIEF IN SATAN LOGICAL
The declaration of the Bible respecting the Father's Power is that "the eyes of the Lord [the intelligence of Jehovah] are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." (`Proverbs 15:3`.) This statement implies that there are things evil as well as good; things which God approves and things which He disapproves. This citation comes the nearest to a suggestion of God's omnipresence contained in the Scriptures.
The fact that the Lord has knowledge of all conditions of things is not out of harmony with the other fact that He permits conditions which He disapproves, and which He declares that He will ultimately destroy. "All the wicked will He destroy."--`Psalm 145:20`.
If we accept the great Divine premise that the Bible is the Word of God, then we are bound to accept the declaration that there is a being called Satan, that he is the "god of this world" (`2 Corinthians 4:4`), and that he now works in the "hearts of the children of disobedience." (`Ephesians 2:2`.) These words imply not only that there are evil principles at work in this world, but that behind them there are evil spirit beings, of whom Satan is the inspirer and through whom he is working.
Certain statements are made respecting Satan which could not properly be applied to a principle of evil, or to a working of error; as, for instance, Jesus declared that Satan was a "murderer" from the beginning--and a "liar." (`John 8:44`.) Errors and principles are not murderers and liars. It would be a misuse of language to make such application. Only an intelligent being can be a murderer or a liar. Hence the whole tenor of the Scriptures
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upholds the assertion that there is such a being as Satan and that he is in opposition to God.
If we were to suppose the everlasting continuance of Satan as a being, as an adversary of God, the matter would seem strange to us, because irreconcilable with our conception of Divine Power. We have the statement of the Scriptures respecting his reign and ultimate destruction. (`Hebrews 2:14`.) With this information we have a reasonable, logical thought on the subject. When we consider the Scriptural presentation further, that originally Satan was not an evil being, but that he made himself evil by the exercise of personal liberty and became the enemy of God, the subject seems to be clear and reasonable. In fact, this is the only rational solution to the problem of his existence.
To suppose that there is no Satan is to suppose that God has permitted His Word to deceive mankind in this respect, or that the Devil is a manifestation of God Himself --a position which is unthinkable. Nor is it logical to say that there is a Devil, an opponent of God, and at the same time to maintain that God is all in all, and omnipresent --everywhere present. But we do not find this latter statement to be Biblical. The Scriptural proposition is that at the close of the Millennial Age, when Christ shall have conquered sin and Satan, when Satan shall have been destroyed, and when the Kingdom of the Universe shall be in absolute harmony, then God will be all in all. (`I Corinthians 15:28`.) To all eternity there will be no opposition to His will. There is opposition now, however, in many places and at many times. But ultimately, God will have full control.
THE OMNIPOTENCE OF JEHOVAH
To say that God is all Power is sophistry of language which often misleads the one questioning as well as the one attempting to answer him. The statement is not correct. If God is all Power, then He is not Love or Justice or Wisdom. He would thus be limited to the one great attribute of Power, or force. Such cannot be the thought entertained by any logical mind. It is, nevertheless, a form of statement that is often used, perhaps unintentionally, but very injuriously to the reasoning faculties.
The Bible nowhere says God is all Power. There is a marked difference between being power and exercising power. God is all-powerful. He has the ability to exercise power in any direction to the extent that He wills. If He had chosen, He could have so created Satan that he could not think or do other than in harmony with the Divine will; or He could have exercised His power to crush the Adversary and thus have destroyed him long ago. But He has permitted Satan to exist for six thousand years, in the sense that He does not restrain the Devil from doing evil. The Scriptures, however, tell us that God will eventually destroy him.
The scope of the exercise of Divine Power is the Universe, but it is difficult for our finite minds to comprehend the meaning of this word--Universe. Astronomers tell us that by the aid of photo-astronomy they can see nearly 125,000,000 suns--the centers of solar systems like our own, with supposedly more than a billion of planets more or less like our earth. These, we may assume, are in process of development, are in preparation for inhabitants, whom the great Creator will in due time provide. From the Scriptural standpoint, however, the great work of human creation began with our earth. What a boundless thought we have in the mere suggestion that the billion worlds are to be peopled, and that the lessons of righteousness and sin, of life and death eternal, now being taught to humanity, will never need to be repeated!
We stand appalled at the immensity of space and at the law and order which everywhere reign! We heartily assent to the words of the Prophet David, "Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard." (`Psalm 19:2,3`.) The person who can look upon this wonderful display of superhuman power and believe that these worlds created themselves, shows to the majority of us that, if he has brains, they are sadly disordered, unbalanced. Whoever, after mature thought, concludes that there is no God, that everything came to be what it is by chance or by the operation of some blind force--that person is described in the Scriptures in the following words, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."--`Psalm 14:1`.
As scientific instruments demonstrate to us the immensity of the Universe, we perceive that the Prophet used very moderate language indeed in his description of the majestic power and greatness of the Creator, when he represents Jehovah as weighing the mountains in His balance and holding the seas in the hollow of His Hand.
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(`Isaiah 40:12`.) From His standpoint, a thousand years are but as a watch in the night. (`Psalm 90:4`.) How insignificantly small we all feel in the presence of our God! No wonder some great men are inclined to say that humanity is too insignificant from the Divine standpoint to be worthy of the least consideration--much less to be objects of Divine care and providence!
THE OMNISCIENCE OF JEHOVAH
To say that God is all Knowledge is also an inaccurate statement. If God were all Knowledge, how could He be all Power? God has all Knowledge, possesses all Knowledge. But this is a different matter. If we say, "The boy has a hoop," we do not mean that he is a hoop. To be a hoop and to have a hoop are not the same. God is omniscient; that is, He knows all things. This very fact proves that He is a personal God. There can be no knowledge without personality. Knowledge implies cognizance of external things. Amongst the things outside the Divine Person are things both good and evil.
When we read that God created man in His own image and likeness (`Genesis 1:26,27`), we may know that man is not God. He was merely made in the image of God. Because God is perfect, therefore the human being made in His image would be satisfactory to God. That human being had knowledge. But he neglected the Word of God, and thus he learned something by his neglect. What he learned is mentioned in the Scriptures. "He is become as one of Us [the Elohim], to know good and evil." (`Genesis 3:22`.) This statement proves that God knows good and evil.
If God did not know evil from good, then He could not be our Instructor. By His laws, His principles, God sets before our minds that which is right and that which is wrong. Adam knew how to discriminate between right and wrong, but his disobedience increased his knowledge of both good and evil. In his fallen condition man cannot always determine between them. Therefore God gave Israel a Law, and man's knowledge of that Law assists him to discriminate between good and evil.
One of old time said, "Thou art a God which hidest Thyself." (`Isaiah 45:15`.) How true! As a result the world by wisdom knows not God. He is near in His Wisdom and Love, yet He can be seen only by those whose eyes of understanding have been opened. But we are glad that the time is coming when all the blind eyes shall see clearly. "As truly as I live," says Jehovah, "all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord." "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (`Num. 14:21`; `Hab. 2:14`.) Then all shall see what God hath wrought, and our temporary blindness will but accentuate the glorious brightness of His Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power.
"GOD IS LOVE"
God is Love in the sense that the term Love represents the central principle of the Divine character. There is nothing contrary to love in God. The Scriptures do not teach that there is nothing except love anywhere--that God is everywhere and love is everywhere. But they teach that God is a loving character. This does not militate against the other statements that God is just, wise and powerful. But this quality of Love best of all represents the Divine Being. All of His Justice is in harmony with His Love. There is no exercise of Justice or Power in an evil sense, for all His attributes work together for good to all His creatures.
The Scriptures encourage us to reason from the known to the unknown. They tell us that although God is so great, so wise, so powerful, He is also just and loving. And the more we consider the matter, the more reasonable the Bible description of the Almighty appears. His Power we see demonstrated. The Wisdom of One so great cannot be doubted. When we come to consider, Could One so wise and so powerful be unjust or ungenerous? Our hearts answer, No! No one is really great who is devoid of justice and love. So surely as our God is Jehovah, He must possess these qualities.
When we came in contact with the Bible, and particularly after we learned something of its teachings and got rid of the misrepresentations which gathered about it during the Dark Ages--then we began to recognize it as the Message of Jehovah to His creatures. It informs us that the great Creator of the Universe is not only Almighty and All-wise, but loving and kind, with Justice as the foundation of His Empire. (`Psalm 89:13,14`.) From the Bible we learn, too, that our Creator has been pleased to make us in His own image, in His own moral likeness, to the intent that we may enjoy Him and the fruits of His righteousness to all eternity.
All the Power, all the Justice, all the Wisdom, of God must be used in accordance with His own character, which is Love. It will therefore be loving Wisdom, loving Justice, which He will use toward all creation in the exercise of His loving Power for their good. He created man. He permitted Adam to disobey His Law, telling us that
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He knew in advance what man would do and that He permitted man to do wrong.--`Isaiah 46:9,10`.
In permitting sin to enter the world, God had two ends in view. He purposed to give an illustration to the angels respecting the results of obedience and of disobedience. He also intended that the human family should gain a lesson from this experience. Thus we know that God's arrangement from the beginning has been for a resurrection of the dead. "As all in Adam die, even so shall all in Christ be made alive."--`I Corinthians 15:21,22`.
If we were to take any fragment of Scripture as a basis for a system of doctrine, we would find ourselves either teaching universalism on the one hand, or claiming that God has no Wisdom, or that He purposed the evil, or what not. We would get into all sorts of confusion. But when we see the perfect adjustment of God's Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power, and realize that He has good purposes respecting the evil, that He has fully marked out what it shall do and what it shall not do, either in its present influence, or in its ultimate influence, this gives us confidence in the character of God.
THE PERMISSION OF EVIL
From only one standpoint can Divine Wisdom and Love be discerned in connection with the history of mankind. It must include the Age about to be ushered in-- the period of Messiah's reign of righteousness. This will be the time when every member of Adam's race, sharing the penalty of sin and death because inheriting his weaknesses, will be set free from these; the time when the full knowledge of the glory of God shall be granted to every human being, and when a full opportunity will come to each, by obedience, to gain life everlasting.
The lesson thus far taught is the goodness and the severity of God--His goodness in bringing us into being, and His severity in the punishment of Father Adam's wilful transgression; also to both men and angels, Justice, unswerving Justice. The next lesson to be taught to God's intelligent creatures is that God is Love. The foundation for these lessons is already laid in the Ransom-sacrifice of Jesus, through and on account of which He becomes the world's Redeemer and Restorer. A few
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can believe this Message by faith; but not many have the ear of faith or the eye of faith. Only the saints are able to appreciate this great fact at the present time.
That which is now secret and understood only by the few is shortly to be made manifest to every creature in heaven and in earth. All will then see and be able to appreciate the great fact that the redemption accomplished by the sacrifice of Jesus is world-wide and means a full deliverance from the sin-and-death condemnation which passed upon Adam and all of his race, to all who will accept the same as a gift from God. The remainder will be destroyed in the Second Death.
THE SECOND DEATH THE ESSENCE OF WISDOM
As for the Second Death, we easily see that if God created man in His own image, man must of necessity be a free moral agent; otherwise he would not be in God's image. If he was created a free moral agent, he must have the power or privilege to will wrong as well as right. If he exercise his power in the direction of evil, God has the power to destroy him. On the other hand, if he live in harmony with righteousness God has the power to grant him life to all eternity.
The destruction of the wicked in the Second Death is the essence of Wisdom. As to the declaration that God is too pure to behold evil (`Habakkuk 1:13`), the thought of the original seems to be that God's character is so pure and so righteous that He will not continue to behold evil. He will not permit evil to exist to all eternity, for this condition would not be pleasing to Him.
This very thought implies that there is evil to behold. If not so, how could He behold it? But this is all consistent with the Divine Plan. Ultimately all evil shall be destroyed. Ultimately all creatures which are "in heaven and on earth and such as are in the sea" shall be heard saying, "Blessing and honor and glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."--`Revelation 5:13`.
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THE CONFLICT BETWEEN FLESH AND SPIRIT
"The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."--`Galatians 5:17`.
THE APOSTLE is addressing these words to Christians, who have become New Creatures in Christ, to whom old things have passed away, and all things have become new. These are said to be begotten of the Holy Spirit and therefore to be, in reality, spirit beings, who will be changed in the Resurrection, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye"--spirit beings who have not yet been completed. But the New Creature has only the flesh in which to operate at the present time.
God expects that the New Creature will manifest his loyalty, and demonstrate worthiness of perfection of the spirit in the First Resurrection. The Apostle says that such must expect to find a conflict going on--the Spirit lusting against the flesh and the flesh against the Spirit. The word lust here used is a good Anglo-Saxon word meaning desire. The New Creature strongly desires to be loyal to God and to do His will. The flesh strongly desires against all this.
These two spirits are in opposition. The two are in antagonism. The flesh desires to serve itself. It has earthly desires, earthly objects, earthly aims. The New Creature desires to set its affections on the Heavenly things and to sacrifice the earthly interests and aims and prospects, to live as a spirit being tabernacling in the flesh--to live no longer as a human being with earthly interests. Whatever serves the one interest is in conflict with the other interest.
NEW CREATURES HAMPERED BY THE FLESH
The words of our text are not addressed to the world, but to the Church. The Church has been begotten of the Holy Spirit--a New Creation. If these live after the flesh, if they renounce their covenant of sacrifice, they will die. But if they mortify, or kill, the deeds of the flesh and abandon this wholly for the Spirit, they shall live--have everlasting life. We all see that in our Lord Jesus, holy, harmless, undefiled, there was such a contrast; the earthly interests drawing one way, and the Heavenly interests another. These were all pure and perfect desires; nevertheless, as the New Creature, begotten of the Holy Spirit, He was obliged to overcome them.
We recall our Lord's words very near the conclusion of His ministry: "I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!" (`Luke 12:50`.) The conflict was going on; but the Lord's spirit was firm, and He was obedient to the terms of His sacrifice. Being perfect, however, He could do those things that He would. He did them, and won the great victory.
In our case the matter is different. We are by nature fallen. Our earthly appetites and tastes are depraved. All are more or less selfish; some more depraved than are others.
Our flesh is depraved; we cannot do the things that we would. Hence we need the merit of Christ to assist us; hence the Apostle tells us that every time we as New Creatures have done wrong, we should acknowledge the error and go to the Throne of Heavenly Grace to obtain mercy and find help for future needs. Thus we show to God the loyalty of our hearts. All those having Christ's mind and disposition are hampered merely by the weaknesses of the flesh, the fallen flesh; but they have an Advocate, to whom they may go and have these weaknesses of the fallen flesh compensated for.
The question may arise, Why should there be any conflict between the flesh and the spirit in our case? and how do we overcome these weaknesses sufficiently to desire to become joint-sacrificers with Christ, before we are begotten of the Spirit at all? The answer is that while the whole race is fallen, many of the fallen ones realize the shame of their condition and long to do righteously, but are unable to do so. They find themselves to be slaves of sin. They are weak; they are so bound that they cannot do the things that they would. Many of the Jews were in this condition. They were desirous to do God's will, but were unable to do so. The desire was there, the will was there. But because of man's fallen condition there were other qualities of their mind in opposition.
The human mind is made up of various qualities. When sin came in, the lower and baser of these qualities of the original man gained the ascendancy, and the nobler of these qualities gradually became effaced, until the original likeness of God was measurably gone from humanity. But in some of the sons and daughters of Adam there is sufficient of the original God-likeness to oppose sin and to seek to have reformation of life. Such good influences are manifest even amongst the heathen.
During the Jewish Age, some amongst the Jews were
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seeking to live in harmony with God. Others were following the course of Belial, and serving Satan and giving themselves up to selfishness. And so it is today. The Jews could not keep their Law, and unless they could keep the Law perfectly, they would fail of getting everlasting life, just the same as those who had never been under the Law. Since Pentecost there has been a different arrangement. God has provided a Savior, whose death is efficacious for the sins of the world.
THE CONFLICT ENDS WITH DEATH
Why, then, has this death not yet been effective for the world? God is wishing to find a class willing to lay down life itself in God's service. Some of these fallen children of Adam, noting the call of God's Word--to become footstep-followers of Jesus--have enough strength of character to follow in Christ's footsteps. They manifest their determination by consecrating their lives to His service. Such a consecration means that the higher qualities of the mind have united, and have gotten control, of the lower qualities of the mind, putting them under constraint.
Under the inspiring influence of God's promises and the Message of the Gospel, they are through the great Advocate received as members of His Body--as New Creatures in Christ, begotten of the Holy Spirit. Thenceforth they have a relationship with God. They are expected then to go forward from step to step, continually fighting against the snares of Satan. This is the Christian's life--the battle mentioned in our text. The two influences --the flesh and the Spirit--are contrary; hence the conflict.
There is no need to go outside and battle with others. There is plenty to do within. Happy are those who, by their endeavors, show their loyalty to God! In due time, by the power of the First Resurrection, they will lose the old body altogether and will be clothed upon with immortality. If we are "faithful unto death," we shall be like Him, our Lord and Head, see Him as He is, and share His glory.
There is, however, a great and continuous battle; for although the new will asserts itself, puts the body under and compels its subjection to the new mind, nevertheless, the mortal body, not being actually dead, is continually coming in contact with the world and the Adversary, and is continually being stimulated by these and by earthly cares, ambitions, methods, strivings, conflicts, to insubordination to our new will.
No saint is without experience of this kind--fightings without and within. It must be a fight to the finish, or the great prize for which we fight will not be gained. For although the New Creature, by the Lord's grace and strength, repeatedly masters the mortal body, nevertheless, until death there can be no cessation of the conflict.
"How goes the fight with thee?
The life-long battle 'gainst all evil things?
Thine no low strife, and thine no selfish aim;
It is the war of giants and of kings!
* * *
"Say not the fight is long;
'Tis but one battle and the fight is o'er;
No second warfare mars thy victory,
And the one triumph is for evermore!"
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DISCERNING THE WILL OF GOD
"Teach me Thy way, O Lord."--`Psalm 27:11`.
THE LORD does not wish us to walk by sight, and thus to have no difficulty in discerning His will. Therefore He puts matters in such a way that both our obedience and our perseverance are tested; for we are to walk by faith and not by sight. In order to do this, we should daily take everything to the Lord in prayer. We should not undertake anything without seeking to know the will of the Lord respecting the matter.
Since, however, we have no miraculous insight through which we may know what is the will of God in all the details of every-day life, we are not always able to discern that will. When the matter is one about which the Scriptures give instructions, then the way is clear; for the only course which the child of God desires to follow is that of obedience. But when the matter is such as depends upon one's own judgment, then the way is not so clear. Realizing that our judgment is not sufficient, we should not tax our minds with what we know is beyond our power to decide, but should leave the matter to the Lord.
We know that the Lord can direct our course in whatever way He chooses, if we put ourselves under His care. So at the beginning of the day we can say, "Lord, here am I; I thank Thee for the privilege of another day, which I hope will be full of opportunities for serving the Truth and the brethren. I ask Thee to direct my thoughts, words and conduct, that I may serve Thee acceptably." Then we may go forth and use our best judgment.
If the Lord wants to lead us in one direction or another, that is His part, not ours. We have solicited His guidance; and our eyes are alert to know and to do His will at any cost. In this attitude we may rest easy, knowing that God is able and willing to overrule all things for His glory and our profit.
As a child, the Editor noticed that some people had a certain way of going to the Lord with all of their affairs. They would open their Bibles at random; and whatever verse their thumb or finger happened to touch they would consider to be the Lord's message to them; and they would follow its suggestion carefully. Sometimes the text to which they opened seemed to be a remarkable answer to their prayer.
This method is not one with which the Editor desires to find fault. But since it did not appeal to his judgment, he took the matter to the Lord in prayer and said, "Father, I am really afraid to adopt this plan. So if it please Thee, I would rather be directed by my judgment than by this method; for my mind does not seem capable of accepting it." The Lord seems to have taken him at his word.
There is surely a reason why right is right in every matter; and we should desire to know it. We should desire to know why God wishes a matter this way rather than that way; not that we doubt His wisdom, but that we may enter into the spirit of the Divine regulations. The Editor's method of seeking Divine guidance is to study the Scriptures, taking all of the verses bearing upon the subject under consideration, and trying to find the underlying principle of God's dealings and teachings.
By this method he has much more happiness than he otherwise could have. By following the other method he could not know whether God or the Devil or chance would open the Bible for him. He much prefers to follow what he believes to be the teaching of the Word of God; that is, to commit all to the Father in prayer, asking Him to guide both reason and judgment, and then go out
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and use that judgment and reason to the best of his ability. Even if God should permit him to use his judgment in a way that afterward appeared not to have been the best, nevertheless the Father may use it to bring some great blessing or profitable lesson. By judgment, of course, he means his understanding of the Father's Word and of His providential leadings. Thus doing, he knows that all things shall work together for good.--`Rom. 8:28`.
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THE ONENESS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST
"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit."--`I Corinthians 12:12,13`.
WE ARE all baptized by one Spirit into one Body. The figure of a human body of many members, operating together for the general good and for the accomplishment of one general purpose, one work, is a mental picture that is very generally made use of by the whole world. It is not confined to the Church. In our own country we speak of the President, our Chief Executive, as the Head of the Government. We speak of the Congressional Body and the Senatorial Body, and of the co-operation of the various members of these bodies in a work for the general good.
The specially called out of God's people during this Gospel Age, whether they be called out from amongst the Jews or from amongst the Gentiles, are of one Body, because the Body is one, and not a divided Body. In this respect, the Body of Christ is different from the political bodies of today. In the United States, for instance, there are the Republican party and the Democratic party.
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They are not united in the most desirable sense. But the Lord says, through the Apostle, that the Church is one Body of Christ, that many members compose this one Body, and that all the members are related to each other.
The members of the Body of Christ all have one work, one purpose, or object, in view, and one method by which to attain that purpose. They are called to a special service --that they may show forth the praises of God. The world is seeking to show forth the praises of king or queen or sect or what not. But this class have but one aim and object in life--to serve God. They are His representatives in the world.
God is the real Emperor, or Ruler, of the Universe. But His subjects in this part of His Dominion are under a curse of death. He does not intend to leave them in this condition. He intends to roll away this curse eventually and to bring them a blessing.
Many who in the past heard of this purpose did not understand; and many who understood found their hopes grow faint, as the time was long. The Scriptures say that God's plans will not fail; that His present Plan is the election, or selection, of the Church, and that the purpose of the election of the Church is for the blessing of the non-elect. God had this purpose in mind from before the foundation of the world, and He will carry it out. The Church is being chosen that they may be associated with the Son of God, the Logos, the Mediator, in His Kingdom.
THE ONENESS OF THE BODY ILLUSTRATED
Those who are now called out all receive a begetting of the Holy Spirit. They are all baptized by the one Spirit into the one Body. His members are fellow-sharers in the suffering of this present time. They are to be fellow-sharers in the glories that are to follow. So the Apostle is here dilating on this particular phase of the subject. One member cannot say to another, "You are not needed"; for God hath set the members every one of them in the Body as has pleased Him. And the Body would not be complete without every one of them, unless one should fail to make his calling and election sure.
With this view of matters, we should be very sympathetic with each other. There is no division in the human body. Yet one hand is separate from the other hand; there is a separation between the hand and the foot. But there is a work for every part of the body to do. The hand and the foot are connected through the head. The brain is in touch with all parts of the body through the nerves. Nourishment passes from the central stations to the various parts of the body. So it is in the spiritual Body. We are not all doing the same thing. God has a variety of things to be done. He gives one a work to do in this department, He gives another work to do in another department.
The Apostle proceeds to say that if one member suffer, all the other members come to its relief. If one member of the Body of Christ suffer, all the other members suffer with it. And no member can be in ill condition without the knowledge and sympathy of the Head Member, Christ. Our Lord said to Saul of Tarsus, "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest." When Saul was persecuting some of the members of the Church, he was persecuting Jesus. Whether it is a member living back in Jesus' day or one living today, it is the one Body. There is one God and Father of all, one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and one Holy Spirit by which all are to be controlled and guided.
It is blessed to mark this oneness between Christ Jesus and the members of His Body. Our Lord does not selfishly grasp all the glory and seek to retain it for Himself. On the contrary, with loving solicitude He marks the progress of His Body-members as they develop in character-likeness to Himself, and says, "They are Mine; and I am glorified in them" (`John 17:10`); and He would have them all bound up together with Himself in the Father's Love. He would also have them with Himself, beholding and sharing the glory which the Father has conferred upon Him as a reward for His loyalty and obedience throughout all the crucial testings which came upon Him.
All the Divine family are bound together in one bond of love and fellowship and confidence and sympathy and harmony and common interest; and the honor and glory of one are the honor and glory of all. The Lord's prayer abounds with petitions for this oneness. Mark the expression --"That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, are in Me and I in Thee" [Thy Spirit, or disposition, and purposes and aim being common to us all]. (`John 17:21`.) Hence He would have us adopt the same Father's Spirit, aim and purpose, and devote all our powers with zeal and faithfulness to the accomplishment of the Father's will.
Be not men's servant: think what costly price
Was paid that thou might'st His own bondsman be,
Whose service perfect freedom is. Let this
Hold fast thy heart. His claim is great to thee.
All His are thine to serve: Christ's brethren here
Are needing aid, in them thou servest Him.
The least of all is still His member dear,
The weakest cost His life-blood to redeem.
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THE GOSPEL OF HOPE
FOLLOWING our public address at Havana, a lady of some prominence came forward and expressed herself as greatly pleased with what she had heard. She said she appreciated the hopeful outlook which we had held before the audience respecting God's Love and care, and the comforts of the Truth in the present life, and the hopes respecting the future life.
"But," said this lady, "I wish, Pastor Russell, that you could inoculate THE WATCH TOWER readers with this same spirit of hope breathed in your discourses. I am well acquainted with some who are deeply interested in your presentations of the Bible teachings, but who seem to lose sight of the hope and the good things, being chiefly impressed with matters that are very doleful and discouraging. They seem to dwell upon a coming time of trouble to such an extent as to make both themselves and others about them sad. I believe that if they could be inoculated with more of the spirit of hope in respect to the future, they could be much happier themselves and make others about them much happier. I believe that they would really make much more progress in the propagation of the Truth, if indeed your presentations are the Truth, as they seem to be." We promised to lay the matter before THE WATCH TOWER readers, and are now doing so.
YE HAVE NEED OF HOPE
The Apostle wrote, "Ye have need of patience." We are not contradicting his statement when we add that also, "Ye have need of hope." Without hope, patience would soon fritter away; and no length or breadth or depth of character could be expected. The very word Gospel is full of hope; for it means Good Tidings. Whoever, therefore, would preach the Gospel should be sure that his message is one of Good Tidings, one of Hope. True, it may be necessary and appropriate at times to say something respecting the time of trouble that we see near. Yet even that subject is to be approached from the standpoint of Good Tidings. To tell about the time of trouble merely to alarm people, would not be to use it as a part of the Good Tidings. If necessary to refer to the time of trouble, we should mention it merely as that dark cloud which for a little season will obscure the dawn of the rapidly oncoming Day of Christ--the Day of blessing and joy--the world's jubilee--the time of rolling away the curse and substituting God's blessing.
"THE WHOLE CREATION GROANETH"
The majority of the world and also of the Lord's consecrated people have plenty of trouble in the present time without being terrorized needlessly in respect to the great day of trouble. Let us remember that, additionally, the world has a latent fear respecting the future. They have been told by distinguished religious teachers and by musty creeds that nearly everybody was damned in advance to spend an eternity of torture. And although this is no longer outwardly preached to intelligent people, and no longer would be believed, nevertheless insinuations are often thrown out; and a secret fear lurks in the mind lest there should really be something terrible awaiting the masses after death--a Catholic Purgatory of awful severity, if not the endless torture of Protestantism. Much of the present day tendency toward intoxication with pleasures and travels, as well as with alcoholic intoxicants, is the result of an attempt to get away from fearful forebodings --to substitute more pleasant and happifying thoughts.
What the world specially needs is what the Bible alone can give. Bible Students alone are qualified to introduce others to this comfort of the Scriptures. More and more, therefore, it should be our aim to bind up the broken-hearted and to say to the weary and heavy-laden, "Come to Christ, and find relief and rest. Come now, and see who is the great Burden-bearer for all who become His followers. Then look beyond the present and see how, in harmony with the Father's gracious arrangement, He will eventually scatter the blessings of Restitution far and wide. Behold the Love of God, which constraineth us! Cast away your fear of Him! Draw nigh unto Him through Christ, and He will draw nigh unto you."
As there may be proper times for telling something about the time of trouble coming, which will inaugurate Messiah's glorious reign, so there may be proper times
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for telling the wayward that those who sin shall suffer; that walking in the ways of sin they are walking away from God; that the end of that way is death--the Second Death; and that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." But these features of the Divine Word are not so necessary to be repeated every day; for mankind instinctively know that sin leads to suffering of some kind, and that righteousness sooner or later brings its reward.
What the world needs most is encouragement to turn away from sin, to realize the sympathy of God for the rebellious family of Adam, and to know of the arrangement which God has made whereby He will have mercy upon all, through Christ. We need to follow the Master's course when He declared, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear." We need to tell those who see and hear what a blessing they enjoy.
It is necessary at times to point to the narrow way of self-sacrifice, self-denial, suffering, which the followers of Jesus must take if they would share with Him in His Kingdom glories, honors and immortality. But they will find the narrowness of the way, even if we should not tell them. No one can walk in the narrow way, no one can follow Jesus, without knowing the truth of the statement, "Through much tribulation shall ye enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
What then shall we tell the people? Oh, give them also the Message of hope, the Message of joy, the Message of peace! Let us draw the attention of the brethren to the blessed privileges that are ours, rather than frequently to point them to the trials and hardships of the way. But what are the privileges of the Christian, if through great tribulation he must enter the Kingdom? They are, oh, so grand! It is his to know the joy of sins forgiven; and many need to have this told them over and over again, that they may fully appreciate it. It is his to know of the Heavenly Father's Love and care-- matters so easily forgotten in the stress of life. These assurances of the Word need to be repeated over and over: "The Father Himself loveth you." "God is for us." "All things shall work together for good to them that love God."
As these promises of God's Word abound in our hearts, they promote the fruits of the Holy Spirit; joy and peace come in, such as the world can neither give nor take away. The peace of God, which passeth all human understanding, thus gradually comes more and more to dwell in our hearts; and so thankfulness results. Thankfulness in turn leads to more joy and praise, and to more sympathy for our fellows--for our families and for the world. Thus the Christian finds himself growing in grace, knowledge and love.
"THINK ON THESE THINGS"
All this is in full accord with St. Paul's advice: "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,
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whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (`Philippians 4:8`.) Following this course then--of preaching the Gospel of Hope--we are following the Master and the Apostles. They had so much of this spirit of hope, trust, confidence, love, joy and peace, that they could rejoice in tribulation; and they did so. The Apostles even sang praise to God that they were accounted worthy to share in the sufferings of Christ, that they might also share in His coming glories.
Let us then, dear brethren, realize that the world has tears and sorrows enough, and fears aplenty. Let us more and more use our time, strength, talents, joys, etc., in relieving the poor world of its mental distress. Hearken to the words of Jesus, "God shall wipe all tears from all eyes." "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect." As it will be God's great work in the future, through Christ and the Church, to wipe away earth's tears, let us chase away some of those fears at the present time. Thus we shall help to prepare the way for the world to come back into fellowship with God by and by, for the faithful of the present time to walk more carefully in the footsteps of Jesus and to encourage one another in the good way.
I journeyed through the twilight
Where all was dark and drear,
And wondered why my Savior
Did not seem always near.
As steeper grew the pathway
And full of thorns the road,
I stumbled, deaf and blinded,
Beneath my heavy load.
The tears of my own grieving
Had filled mine eyes with mist,
And thro' the vapory veiling
The face of Christ I missed.
At last I fixed my vision
On Heavenly Heights of Love,
Whose tips were ever glowing
In sunlight from above.
And wandering thus, up-gazing,
I earnestly pressed on,
Unheeding thorns and thistles
By which my feet were torn.
At last, worn out and weary,
I fell upon the ground.
Where, worn by time and tempest,
A granite cross I found.
I leaned my head upon it,
My all on it I laid;
Together with my sorrows,
My joys I also gave.
Then suddenly a rustling
Of pinions filled the air,
And lo! beside me kneeling
I saw an Angel there.
And midnight in the Garden
Was bright as day to me,
For Christ stood 'mid the shadows
Of my Gethsemane!
BIRLA I. MORRIS.
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HATED WITHOUT A CAUSE
--APRIL 27.--`GENESIS 37`.--
"Love Envieth Not."--`1 Corinthians 13:4`.
THE STORY of Joseph and his brethren, beautiful in its simplicity as a narrative, is deeply interesting and instructive, from various viewpoints. One lesson would be the unwisdom of a parent in showing too great a preference for one child above another, and thus cultivating amongst the children a spirit of envy. Another lesson would be along the line of the unwisdom of telling even our dreams to unsympathetic ears: as when Joseph told his dreams to his brethren. In the one dream, he saw eleven shocks of wheat bow down to one shock, which was his. In the other dream, he saw the sun, the moon and the eleven stars all doing homage to him.
Joseph was not to be blamed for having these dreams. Unlike the majority of dreams, they apparently came not from indigestion, but were from the Lord. Joseph was not even to blame for artlessly telling the dream to his brethren; and evidently this was the very thing which the Lord intended should be done. The Lord foreknew the jealousy of Joseph's brethren, and how envy would be cultivated in their minds; and He gave the opportunity for it; for He had already mapped out Joseph's subsequent experiences, which the envy of his brethren merely helped to accomplish.
We may, however, learn the lesson that in general it is the part of wisdom to keep to one's self truths not necessary for another to know which might merely arouse opposition. Jesus encouraged this very thought, saying, "Cast not your pearls before swine, lest they turn again and injure you." Very deep truths connected with the Divine Plan and with Christian hopes had better not be told to others than those for whom they are intended by the Lord--namely, the meek.
JOSEPH A TYPE OF MESSIAH
The most important feature of today's Bible Study is that which in addition to all that we have suggested, recognizes Joseph as a type, or prophetic picture of Christ, the Messiah. Joseph was kind to his brethren and was on an errand of mercy to them when their envy plotted his death, and later on sold him into slavery in Egypt. His brethren hated him without a cause--merely because he was good, because his father loved him, and because God in the dreams foreshadowed his coming exaltation.
Joseph's brethren should have said, "Let us rejoice that we have so noble a brother. Let us rejoice if it be God's will that he should be very highly exalted. God's Promise made to our grandfathers, Abraham and Isaac, and to our father Jacob, may thus be reaching a fulfilment. Let God's blessings come in whatever way He sees best. We will rejoice with our brother, as we see that he is pleasing to God and to our father Jacob. We will seek more and more to copy his character." But they were envious to the point of cruelty, first resolving to murder him, and later, merely as an alternative, to sell him as a slave.
"THEY HATED HIM WITHOUT A CAUSE"
But God's providence continued with Joseph and blessed him as a slave, and through much tribulation finally brought him to the throne of Egypt--next in influence and power to Pharaoh himself. Then it was that the famine of the land drove Joseph's brethren to Egypt to buy wheat. Thus was fulfilled his dream--that his
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brethren bow down, as illustrated in the eleven sheaves which bowed down before his.
Later on when his father and the entire family came into Egypt to live in Goshen, they all did obeisance to Joseph, as the representative of the Egyptian Government, thus fulfilling the second dream. But all of these experiences were at the time dark. They all looked as though the Lord had less love for Joseph than for any others of his family, until the time came for his exaltation to the throne. Then everything changed.
"WHICH THINGS ARE AN ALLEGORY"
The allegorical meaning of all this, as applied to Joseph, is that he was also hated without a cause. We read in `Psalm 69:4`, "They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head." Jesus quoted this statement and applied it to Himself, saying, "They hated Me without a cause." (`John 15:25`.) The brethren of Jesus were the Jews, who crucified Him. But there was no cause of death found in Him.
We perceive that it was for envy that they delivered Him up and called for His crucifixion, because His works were good and theirs were evil; because he taught the way of the Lord more perfectly than they; because He declared to them that the time would come when they and all others would recognize Him as the Messiah--coming in the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory--and would bow the knee to Him.
As with Joseph, disaster, treachery and shame prepared the way for glory and honor on the throne of Egypt, so with Jesus. His trying experiences proved Him loyal to God and led onward to His exaltation to the right hand of Divine Majesty. St. Paul refers to this, saying of Jesus, "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God." (`Hebrews 12:2`.) Again he says, "Though He was rich, for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might become rich" (`2 Corinthians 8:9`), even as the experiences of Joseph--all of his humiliation--prepared the way for him to be succored and honored by Pharaoh. Again we read of Jesus, that "He learned obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect [through suffering], He became the Author of eternal salvation to all those that obey Him."--`Hebrews 5:9`.
"IF WE SUFFER WITH HIM"
The Scriptures assure us that in God's great Plan, not only Jesus is to be exalted to the Throne as the world's Messiah, but with Him is to be a company of brethren, sharers of the same glory, honor and immortality. And these brethren, in God's great Purpose, are required to pass through similar experiences to those of their Elder Brother Jesus. Their experiences, therefore, are illustrated also in Joseph's experiences. They are not on an equality with their Elder Brother. He is designated their Head, their Chief, the Captain of their salvation. So we read again, that God, "in bringing many sons to glory, made the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." --`Hebrews 2:10`.
And all of the company of sons received under this great Captain must similarly be perfected through sufferings.
Does not this account for the trying experiences of the Church during the past nineteen centuries? The Apostle John declares, "As He was, so are we, in this world"; and again, "The world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." As Joseph's brethren were blind to the fact that their brother would be their savior from famine, as well as the savior of the Egyptians, so the world fails to realize that only through The Messiah will any have eternal life.
In the very same connection in which Jesus mentions that He was hated without a cause, He plainly forewarns all of His elect followers that they must similarly expect to be hated unjustly. We read, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me. ...But this cometh to pass that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their Law, They hated Me without a cause."--`John 15:18-25`.
We give in full the same text from which our Lord quoted, "They that hate Me without a cause are more than the hairs of Mine head...Let not them that wait on Thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for My sake; let not those that seek Thee be confounded for My sake, O God of Israel. Because for Thy sake I have borne reproach: shame hath covered My face. I am become a stranger unto My brethren, and an alien unto My mother's children. For the zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon Me. Reproach hath broken My heart; and I am full of heaviness; and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave Me also gall for My meat; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink."--`Psalm 69:4-9,20,21`.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FACTS
We have considered the facts--that Jesus and all of His followers, according to Divine intention, have suffered shame and contempt. We perceive that, in the case of Jesus and of the early Church, the persecution came from their brethren according to the flesh--from the Jews. And since then, all the way down the Gospel Age, the persecutions of the Church, the brethren of Jesus, the Household of Faith, have come from their brethren, too. These brethren are not Jews, but Christians. As the Jewish religionists in Jesus' day persecuted their more righteous brethren, so since then nominal Christians have been the chief persecutors of the Lord's faithful followers.
This persecution has come upon faithful souls of nearly every denomination. And, sad to say, this persecution has come from unfaithful souls of nearly every denomination. Presbyterians, Covenanters, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Methodists and Baptists have all endured persecutions from blinded brethren; and blinded ones amongst themselves have also shared in the persecuting work. In nearly every case the profession has been made that the persecuting was done for the glory of God. Thus the Lord through the Prophet expresses the matter, saying, "Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for My name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified! But He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed."--`Isaiah 66:5`.
Already the world in general, including the Jews, realize that a great mistake was made in persecuting Jesus unto death. Already to some extent similar transgressions against the faithful followers of Jesus have been recognized. And yet the same blindness, from the same envious disposition, leads on to persecution even in our day.
The majority admit that they do not know very distinctly much about God or much about the Bible. They
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pray for light, and sing, "Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom." And yet, if any light appear, if any voice of love or tenderness be heard, directing toward the dawning of the New Day, and pointing out with clearness the riches of God's grace and the lengths and breadths of His mercy, immediately their songs for light cease, and their stones of ridicule and slander are hurled. And why? Lest peradventure there should be any change; lest any one should get further light; lest the Divine promise should be fulfilled, and a new Dawn should be ushered in.
But what is the philosophy of these facts of history? Why has God permitted, yea, ordained that Christ should suffer, and that all who would walk in His steps must share in His experiences of ignominy and shame and reproach --suffering with Him? In Jesus' case, the Father used the trying experiences to test the love and loyalty of His Son, and to demonstrate His obedience to angels and to men. Intending to confer upon Him very great glory and honor, the Father would have all to see, as He saw it, the worthiness of the Logos, subsequently Jesus.
In a symbolical picture the Heavenly hosts are represented as acknowledging the propriety of the high exaltation of Jesus, because of His faithfulness unto death, saying, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." And if such a demonstration of the worthiness of Jesus, the Logos, was necessary or proper, much more necessary would it seem that an elect Church, being gathered from amongst a fallen race, should be proven loyal to God to the very last--even unto death. There is a difference, however.
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In the case of the Master, it was a demonstration that He was perfect before He left the Heavenly glory, and perfect also when He became the Man Christ Jesus--"holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners." "In Him was no sin." In the case of His followers, the imperfection of the flesh still remains; but they are judged, not according to the weaknesses of their flesh--of heredity-- but according to the love and zeal of their hearts. And this loving zeal is witnessed to by their endeavor to walk faithfully in the footsteps of their Leader and Savior, overcoming to the best of their ability the weaknesses of their flesh, and "showing forth the praises of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light."
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AFFLICTED, YET A COMFORTER
--MAY 4.--`GENESIS 40` AND `41`.--
"God giveth grace to the humble."--`1 Peter 5:5`.
JOSEPH may well be designated the model young man of Old Testament times. In some respects, he would be a model for any time. There is a distinction to be made, however. Joseph lived before the time of spirit-begetting, and hence was merely a natural man, not a Christian. He lived before the time of Bibles, before the time of preaching and Sunday Schools. He merely inherited from his father a strong faith in the God of Abraham, who had promised that, ultimately, a blessing should come to all people through Jacob's posterity. Joseph, who was one of that family, reverenced God and sought to live humbly, nobly. His faithfulness to God and his trust in God's Promise served as a rudder to guide and direct all the affairs of his life. Whatsoever he did was with a view to pleasing God and winning His approval.
Such faithfulness was probably rare at that time, as it is today, and the reward came in Joseph's advancement to the highest station in the house of his master--that of steward. His conscientiousness led him to be careful, economical and wise; and his master could and did entrust everything to his care. Young men of Joseph's type are very much valued everywhere today--yea, they have been valued in every period of the world's history--trustworthy men, faithful men, economical men, wise men; and all these qualities go with godliness--with faith in God, and a realization of responsibility to Him.
But just in the height of Joseph's prosperity, calamity came. His steadfastness to principle angered his mistress. She falsely accused him; and he was cast into prison and made to appear guilty of a heinous crime, disloyal to his master and benefactor. Yet all the while he was innocent; but only God and himself knew of that innocence. The Adversary had made circumstantial evidence to appear so strong that Joseph's guilt was not questioned. The poet Shakespeare noted this trait of human weakness in these words: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
How strange it seems that God would allow so terrible a blight to fall upon the life of one who was seeking to walk in the ways of righteousness! We can imagine Joseph's querying why this evil had befallen him, and saying with the Prophet, "They that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered; while those who seek to live righteously suffer persecution."
But evidently Joseph did not permit himself to question the Wisdom of Divine Providence which took him to prison in Egypt any more than he allowed himself to question the Wisdom of the same Providence in permitting him to be sold a slave into Egypt. His faith in God endured the test. He became stronger as he found himself shut away from all earthly hopes and ambitions--dead to the world. The more did he cultivate faith in the Almighty; the more did he determine that at any cost he would live righteously, soberly, reverentially. Even in prison, his faithfulness, intelligence and general goodness were recognized. He became the prison keeper's trusty man and assistant. Such a character, no matter how much traduced, misrepresented and slandered, eventually will commend itself to those with whom it has close contact. And the principle holds good today, as then.
DREAMS OF BUTLER AND BAKER
The prison regulations of old were less methodical than at present. Joseph had been in prison for years, had probably been forgotten, and might have continued there indefinitely, had not something occurred to bring his case to official notice. When he was twenty-eight years old, two high officials were thrust into prison because Pharaoh had taken some offence at their conduct. One of these was the king's secretary and butler, or cup-bearer. The other was head of his culinary department.
Joseph, as the general overseer of the prison, came in contact with these men, noted their sadness of face and tendered sympathy. What a noble example! Instead of moping about, bemoaning his lot, Joseph was cheerful, trusting in God and waiting for some circumstance by which God would eventually open up the way before him. Such a noble character can always find time to speak a word of consolation to those in trouble! What an example to worldly men of today! What an example to Christian
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men of today, who have much advantage over him in so many ways.
There are some who tell us that our race is rising so rapidly from brute nature by evolutionary processes, that impliedly Joseph, living nearly four thousand years ago-- two thousand years after Adam's creation--would be almost a brute, only a few removes from the monkey. But how different a view is given of him by this little narrative, which makes no attempt to pointing a moral with his experiences, but merely records them as matters of fact!
When Joseph learned that the two official prisoners were troubled because of impressive dreams, he volunteered interpretations. The one was encouraging, and the other discouraging. He told the butler that within three days he would be back again in favor with the king, but informed the baker that within three days he would be executed. Then Joseph, mindful of the fact that he had a duty to perform in respect to attaining his own liberty, urged upon the butler--the one he had so encouraged and befriended--that when at liberty he would remember his comforter and do something to bring Joseph's case before proper authorities, that he might be heard and, if possible, be released.
But alas, for the hardness of heart so prevalent! The butler forgot all about Joseph, his prisoner friend, for two years! Then the matter was brought to his attention by Pharaoh's dream; for none of the wise men of Egypt were able to interpret it. With apologies for his neglect, the butler told the king of the dream experiences of the baker and himself in prison and of the wonderful young man Joseph, who by some god-given power had interpreted their dreams, just as these turned out.
During those two years, Joseph doubtless hoped much and waited longingly for some adjustment of his case. We doubt not that, instead of growing faint in respect to his faith in God, he all the more earnestly laid hold upon the Lord, and realized that his experiences must be for good. And so they were; for it was when Joseph was just thirty years of age--when he had just reached manhood under the old-time law--that Pharaoh sent for him to interpret his dreams, and rewarded him very highly.
PHARAOH'S DREAMS INTERPRETED
Pharaoh related his two dreams. In the first he saw seven fine, strong cattle, and a little later the same number of very poor, lean cattle--the worst he had ever seen. In the dream, the lean cattle ate up the fat ones, and looked none the better. In the second dream, the king saw a fine stalk of corn grow up out of the earth, bearing seven full, healthy ears of corn; and then he saw another stalk with seven withered ears, good for nothing. The latter swallowed up the former, and looked none the better.
Young Joseph quickly gave the explanation of the dreams; but before doing so, he very distinctly told the king that the interpretation came not from himself, but from God. Thus he exemplified the Scriptural teaching, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him," and "He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."--`Prov. 3:6`; `Psalm 37:4`.
Joseph explained that the two dreams referred to the same matter--that unitedly they taught that there would be seven years of great plenty in the land of Egypt; and that these would be followed by seven years of famine, which would fully consume all the surplus of the plentiful years. Proceeding, Joseph offered the suggestion that God evidently meant this information to be used by Pharaoh, and recommended that, forthwith, a special agent of the king should be appointed to buy up all the surplus grain in the seven years of plenty and to store it for use during the seven years of famine.
Pharaoh very wisely acceded, and with manifestation of great breadth of mind and desire to serve the interests of his people, promptly appointed Joseph himself to be the purchaser of the surplus corn of the years of plenty, to have full charge of the matter and to attend to its disbursement in the following years of famine.
Thus Joseph stepped out of prison into a fourteen years' contract. From suffering because of slander he suddenly stepped into a place of highest authority, next to Pharaoh, in the greatest empire of those days. Can we doubt that God's hand was in the matter of Joseph's success and exaltation? Surely not! Nor should we infer any lack of Divine favor in Joseph's experiences of adversity.
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On the contrary, we may feel sure that the lessons of his adversity were merely preparations for his subsequent experiences as Pharaoh's logos, or mouthpiece, throughout the kingdom.
We are reminded again of the lesson of a week ago-- that Joseph's experiences were typical of those of Jesus and the Church, His followers. The Bible assures us that the graces of humility and patience are both closely related to love and loyalty. St. Paul reminds us of this when he declares, "If ye be without chastisement,...then are ye...not sons. For what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" He reminds us that "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."--`Hebrews 12:6-8`.
It was so with Jesus, and with all the faithful Apostles, and has been so with all the followers of Jesus during this Gospel Age. It will undoubtedly continue to be true in the case of all the consecrated Church. It is because the Lord Jesus loves these noble characters that He counts them worthy of trials and testings, disciplines, etc. These are necessary to qualify them for the positions of honor, glory, immortality and great responsibility, to which the Father has called Jesus and His brethren, the Church.
THE VALUE OF ADVERSITY
Jacob's special love for his son Joseph manifested itself in favoritism--the princely coat, or robe, etc. Quite possibly he would have spoiled his son, had not Divine Providence interfered and taken him entirely out of this father's control. Many fathers, especially the rich, have made similar mistakes. Hence the sons of the rich are not always a credit to their fathers.
The great Heavenly Father, however, makes no such mistakes. His people are assured that trials and difficulties are marks rather of their relationship to God and of His loving care over them. True, this providential care is restricted: "The Lord knoweth them that are His." His special dealings are with His consecrated people-- those who have entered into a covenant with Him, who have become His servants and His children. To these alone belongs the promise that "all things shall work together for good to them that love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."--`Romans 8:28`.
While this special call applies peculiarly to the Church of this Gospel Age, there is a sense in which it was applicable to the Hebrews, since the time of Abraham. Joseph belonged to this line which was in covenant relationship with God. This accounts for God's dealing with him rather than with young men of other families than Abraham's. Incidentally, it is worthy of notice that the Israelites passed through many trying experiences because of being God's people. Many of those experiences they might have escaped, had they not come into covenant relationship with God. But had they escaped the trials
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and difficulties, they would have escaped certain privileges and blessings also. And the blessings which God gives always outweigh the adversities which prepare for them.
JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN ELECTIONS
This reminds us that the Bible declares that the Jewish people, and subsequently the Christians, are God's Elect-- God's Chosen People--the Seed of Abraham, natural and Spiritual. Both have offers of God's blessings not accorded to other peoples; and in both cases the trying experiences are to fit the elect ones for the future glories to which they have been invited.
Nevertheless, God has also a great blessing in store for the non-elect. During the thousand years of Messiah's reign, the elect Church, the saintly only, will be Messiah's joint-heirs in the great Kingdom of God, which will then take control of the earth. Then also the Elect from the Hebrews will be used, in another part of the work, in conjunction with the Christian Church, the one on the Heavenly plane, the other on the earthly. Through these two Israels, God's blessings are to be poured out on all nations, kindreds, peoples and tongues.
Although God has not specially supervised the affairs of any except these two elect classes, nevertheless we see that He has permitted, in a general way, great lessons of adversity to come to the whole human family. As the special trials and difficulties of the elect classes are intended to work for them special blessing and qualifications for their work as God's agencies, so the general tribulations of the world will give general lessons that will be helpful to all people by giving all experiences with sin and death--by teaching all thus the exceeding sinfulness of sin.
By and by, when Messiah's Kingdom shall be established, when Satan shall be bound, when the reign of righteousness shall begin, when the curse shall be lifted, when the blessing shall flow instead--then the lessons of sorrow and tears and crying and dying will all prove valuable. Humanity will appreciate the great blessings of God in the future very largely by contrast with the evils and sorrows of the present time. When, by and by, they shall learn fully and conclusively that all these sorrows and tears are the results of violation of God's laws and disregard of His injunctions, the lesson undoubtedly will be one that will never be forgotten.
Wherever the plowshare of trouble has gone, it has served to break up the fallow ground and to make ready for the seed of Divine Truth and grace. The next Age, under Messiah's beneficent rule, will be the time of sowing the seeds of knowledge of God and appreciation of His glorious character and Plan. The results will undoubtedly be glorious, as the Scriptures declare. Eventually all will participate in these blessings everlastingly, except such as intelligently refuse them, choosing sin rather than righteousness, in that Day when the knowledge of the Truth will be given to all and when assistance to righteousness will be apparent.
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AN INTERESTING LETTER
THE SECRETARY, THE I.B.S.A.,
Can you let me have a copy of "The Divine Plan of the Ages." Helping Hand series? I saw a copy in a cell of the Kandy Gaol today. The prisoner said it had been a great help and blessing to him. He had spent a fortnight of great darkness and doubt, but this book had cheered him up. Yours sincerely, (Signed) ROBERT A. CLARKE,
Captain Salvation Army, Kandy, Ceylon.
The above is the result of a book placed in a prison library in India.
BEREAN QUESTIONS IN SCRIPTURE STUDIES
Series VI., Study XIV.--Sundry Earthly Obligations of the New Creation.
Read p. 568, par. 2, to p. 571, par. 1.
(13) What is the Scriptural injunction with respect to indorsing notes for others? P. 568, par. 2.
(14) How should the New Creation regulate their household affairs with respect to petty borrowing and lending, as between neighbors? P. 569, par. 1, 2.
(15) How should the borrowing of time by others be regarded by the New Creation? P. 570, par. 1.
(16) What beautiful example did our Lord set us with respect to waiting for a positive invitation and assurance of welcome before accepting hospitalities? P. 570, par. 2.
(17) To what extent should New Creatures permit themselves to be imposed upon by uninvited guests, whether "brethren" or relatives according to the flesh? P. 571, par. 1.
Read p. 572, par. 1, to p. 574, par. 3.
"TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR THE MORROW."
(18) Does `Matthew 6:34,19,20`, teach us to make no provision for the future? What example has the Heavenly Father set us in this respect? P. 572, par. 1.
(19) What is the proper interpretation of `Matt. 6:34`? P. 572, par. 2.
(20) What is the difference between carefulness and anxious care respecting the morrow, and how is this illustrated in Scripture? P. 573, par. 1.
(21) Does `Matt. 6:19,20`, imply carelessness in respect to the daily interests of the present life? P. 573, par. 2.
(22) How should all who have "chosen Christ" as their Master regard their earthly possessions? P. 573, par. 3; P. 574, par. 1.
(23) How should money be regarded by the New Creation? P. 574, par. 2, 3.
Read p. 575, par. 1, to p. 578, par. 1.
(24) What does full consecration to the Lord require of the poor as well as the rich? P. 575, par. 1.
(25) Suggest what further explanation our Lord might have given "the rich young man," had he possessed the proper heart-condition. P. 576, par. 1, 2.
(26) Does consecration of our all to the Lord imply that all our means must be used exclusively in religious work? P. 576, par. 3; P. 577, par. 1.
(27) What instructions do the Scriptures give with respect to making future provision for our families? P. 577, par. 2.
(28) What is the duty of every parent with respect to reasonable provision for his children's present and future interests and necessities? P. 578, par. 1.
Read p. 578, par. 2, to p. 582, par. 2.
ORGANIZATIONS FOR MUTUAL BENEFIT.
(29) Is the question of Insurance a religious or a purely business proposition? P. 578, par. 2.
(30) In a case where the wife is not in sympathy with Present Truth, what course would be advisable on the part of the husband? P. 579, par. 1.
(31) In view of the great Time of Trouble, what may be expected of Insurance Companies, especially those of a fraternal character? P. 579, par. 2; P. 580, par. 1.
(32) Should the New Creation become members of Masonic or other secret societies? P. 580, par. 2; P. 581, par. 1.
(33) What liberty of choice may the New Creation exercise in the matter of joining other mutual-benefit associations, not of a religious nature? P. 581, par. 2.
(34) What advice is suggested regarding membership in labor organizations? P. 582, par. 1, 2.