ZWT - 1905 - R3479 thru R3687 / R3635 (289) - October 1, 1905
(Use your Browser's "Find" or "Search" option to search within this page)
VOL. XXVI. OCTOBER 1, 1905. No. 19
Views from the Watch Tower........................291
Romanism's Losses and Gains...................291
Church and State in France....................291
To Abandon Sovereignty........................292
"The Sun of Righteousness Shall Arise"........292
"Devils Also Believe..........................293
The Editor's Western Tour.........................293
Bible Study for October...........................295
"Greater is He that is on our Part"...............295
The Prayers of a Righteous Man................297
The Angel of the Lord Delivered Him...........299
In the Wilderness (Poem)..........................300
Returning from Babylon........................300
"Come Out of Her, My People"..................301
Encouraging Words from Faithful Workers...........302
LETTERS FOR THE EDITOR SHOULD BE SENT TO ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS AND REMITTANCES
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, "BIBLE HOUSE," 610, 612, 614 ARCH ST., ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
--OR TO-- BRITISH BRANCH--24 EVERSHOLT ST., LONDON, N.W. GERMAN BRANCH--MIRKER STR., 45, ELBERFELD. AUSTRALASIAN BRANCH--32 JOHNSTON ST., FITZROY, MELBOURNE.
PRICE, $1.00 (4S.) A YEAR IN ADVANCE, 5c (2-1/2d.) A COPY. MONEY MAY BE SENT BY EXPRESS, BANK DRAFT, POSTAL ORDER, OR REGISTERED. FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS, ONLY. SPECIAL TERMS TO THE LORD'S POOR AS FOLLOWS:--
Those of the interested who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER, will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually.
ENTERED AS SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER AT ALLEGHENY, PA., POST OFFICE.
THIS JOURNAL IS PUBLISHED IN THE FRENCH, GERMAN, SWEDISH, DANISH AND ITALIAN LANGUAGES. SAMPLE COPIES FREE.
::R3635 : page 290::
ABOUT PAPER-COVERED DAWNS.
Since the exclusion of paper-covered DAWNS from cheap postage privileges the cost of mailing has been almost equal to the price of the books; hence we have made a special effort to bring the cloth and leather editions before the friends, partly because the price is little more than the present rate would be on the paper bound books, and partly because those better bound are much more substantial as well as attractive in appearance.
There will therefore be no further edition of DAWN printed in book form in paper covers. If orders for same are received we shall have to hold for further instructions, or return the remittance.
Since, however, there is need for a cheap edition of Vol. I. for missionary purposes, we issued, as a special number of the WATCH TOWER, Vol. I. in magazine form. This edition is not an abridgement; it constitutes the entire book, except the "Appendix" and Scripture Index, and is excellent for introducing the Truth to those who show some interest. We have plenty of these on hand to fill orders. The price is 5c each, postpaid, in U.S. or Canada; 9c each to other foreign countries, in any quantity, to one or various addresses. This edition is published both in English and in German.
::R3636 : page 291::
VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
ROMANISM'S LOSSES AND GAINS.
WHILE Roman Catholicism has been steadily losing ground in priest-ridden lands--Italy, France, Mexico, etc.,--it has of late been making headway in Protestant countries--Great Britain, Germany and the United States.
President Roosevelt's latest appointee to his cabinet, Secretary Bonaparte, a Roman Catholic, is the attorney who was influential in securing a large sum from the Indian funds for Catholic schools. At the recent Young People's Christian Endeavor Society's gathering in Baltimore, Secretary Bonaparte, who represented the President, was one of the special attractions.
SECRETARY TAFT'S TRIBUTE
Manila, Aug. 10.--"I do not think I can illustrate better the character of Theodore Roosevelt than to say what he has said: 'I wish as President of the United States to act toward the Roman Catholic Church as I would have a President who was a Roman Catholic act toward the Protestant churches,'" said Secretary Taft tonight, responding to the toast, "The President," at a dinner given to the male members of the Taft party by Archbishop Harty.
Mr. Taft said the relations between the United States government and the Roman Catholic Church have been made closer by the government's occupation of the Philippines and Porto Rico, where formerly Church and State were intimately connected. Although the separation of the Church from the State was necessitated, he said, nevertheless an association between the two was established thereby which has never before existed.
KAISER GREETS ROMAN CATHOLICS
Berlin, Aug. 10.--Emperor William, alluding to Polish discontent in a speech made yesterday at a dinner at Gnesen, Prussia, said he wished each Roman Catholic Pole to know that his religion was honored by his emperor.
"In my last visit to the Vatican," said his majesty, "the great Leo XIII. held me with both hands and, notwithstanding that I am a Protestant, gave me his blessing. You are my fellow-workers, and Germanism stands for culture and for freedom for every one in religion, in thought and in achievement."
CHURCH AND STATE IN FRANCE.
"The passing of the bill for the separation of Church and State in France, an event of first-class importance, has hardly secured the attention from the press of this country to which it is entitled. The Chamber of Deputies gave a majority of upward of a hundred in favor of the measure, which will not become law until it has received the approval of the Senate, from which, however, no serious difficulty appears to be anticipated.
"Thus the concordat entered into between Napoleon and Pius the Seventh in 1801 has been practically abolished. This instrument regulated the relations between the government and Protestants and Jews, as well as Roman Catholics. The Protestant pastors, the Jewish rabbis, and Roman Catholic priests and bishops have received stipends from the government since 1804 under its provisions, though the vast preponderance of the latter gave them the advantage. The new measure is an approach to absolute religious freedom, but not entirely so, for the government contemplates the payment of stipends to those who at present draw salaries, but new priests and other religious functionaries will henceforth be compelled to rely upon their congregations for support. The government claims the ownership of religious edifices, but will lease them to local associations and to groups of local associations forming episcopal sees.
"Whatever may be the practical working of the measure it undoubtedly implies a loss of ecclesiastical prestige, as the protest of the five cardinal archbishops and the French bishops practically admits, when it cries out for the preservation of the concordat. Italy bears testimony to the same tendency. There the Pope has issued an encyclical, under the terms of which Italian Catholics are declared to be at liberty to exercise their political rights, and the non-expedit policy of Pius the Ninth and Leo the Thirteenth is thus reversed. The Pope says: 'Catholic activities must find a field in the promotion of all those practical measures which are dictated by the study of social and economic science, by the condition of civil affairs, by the political
::R3636 : page 292::
life of the state.' After this it is not surprising that negotiations should be reported as being carried on between the Vatican and the Quirinal looking to the surrender of the temporal power in consideration of the payment of the arrears accumulated under the guarantee laws. These, the annual sums guaranteed by the Italian government and refused by the Pope's predecessors, now aggregate about twenty-two millions of dollars. There appears to be little doubt that a basis of agreement will be reached, and that the Pope will resign all claims to temporal sovereignty.
"So, little by little, power passes from the hands of the Popes of Rome."--San Francisco Argonaut.
TO ABANDON SOVEREIGNTY.
"No matter what is said in Vienna, I have positive information that Emperor Francis Joseph will go to Rome in the fall to visit King Victor Emmanuel, and will stay for several days in the Quirinal as the guest of the king, and before he returns to Vienna he will visit the Pope in the Vatican.
"Pope Pius, who is anxious to end the long feud between the Church and State in Italy, and who also would like to see the difficulties which have arisen between Italy and Austria smoothed over, has personally arranged this visit.
"The importance of this visit cannot be overlooked, as it means that His Holiness has definitely decided to abandon all claims to the old temporal sovereignty of the Church and to accept a fact which was established thirty-four years ago--the consolidation of the Italian kingdom, with Rome as its capital.
"After October at least there will no longer be a 'Prisoner of the Vatican,' and Romans will see Pope Pius walking or driving through the streets of Rome and making a friendly call upon the king and queen in the Quirinal."--Jean de Bonnefon, Paris.
WHY HE WAS NOT A CHURCH-MEMBER.
Rev. Hiram C. Hadyn, referring to the late Secretary of State, John Hay, said in a sermon in Cleveland, O., recently:--
"Hay was not, so far as I know, a member of any church. Once he stated his reason. It is characteristic. He said: 'My faith in Christ is implicit. I am a believer. I am in fullest sympathy with all that the Church mainly stands for, but I feel that to unite with it formally I should be in full accord with its methods, creeds and aims, and I cannot go that far.'"
Whether Grant, Lincoln, Hay and other men of recognized character had too much heart or too much head, or too much of both with too much honesty, to join any of the sects and subscribe to any of their creeds we know not, but we surmise the latter.
INSANITY AFTER REVIVALS.
An investigation made by the State Board of Control of Charitable Institutions, Topeka, Kan., during the last week shows that the counties in which lengthy religious revivals have been held during the last year have the high records for the number of insane persons sent to the State asylum.
"Insanity," says H. C. Bowman, a member of the board, "seems to have followed the religious revivals like an epidemic. Reno county, where there was a protracted revival early last year, has sent 32 insane persons to the State asylum in Topeka in twelve months. I find that this epidemic of insanity has also followed the revivals which were held in Topeka, Arkansas City, Winfield, Wichita and other places."
"THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL ARISE."
The Women's Board of Foreign Missions has published the diagram which we reproduce below. It speaks of their appreciation of the difference between the Darkness and the Light. And yet it shows too brightly. There are really no such light spots as the illustration shows. The civilized communities thus represented are but drab at very most, not white. The very few who in the Lord's esteem are white are those of whom the Apostle says, "The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."
::R3637 : page 292::
"For the happy beam of day
That shall chase their gloom away--
"The restless millions wait
The light whose dawning
Maketh all things new.
Christ also waits--
But men are slow and late.
Have we done what we could
Have I? Have you?"
Alas! how much darkness prevails in the mind of the one who wrote that stanza. She evidently knew not or forgot that God has promised a glorious Day, which shall chase sin's shadows quite away. The writer intimates that "Christ also waits" for the poor puny arm of flesh which in nineteen centuries has accomplished so little.
Ah, no! Thank God for a better hope, the hope of the Gospel, which as an anchor to our souls enters within the vail, fastened to Christ, the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Our hope began in God's Oath-bound Covenant to Abraham, "In thy Seed all the families of the earth shall be blest."
We see Christ Jesus our Redeemer as this "Seed,"
::R3637 : page 293::
and we see the work of the Spirit during this Gospel age calling, drawing, gathering from among men "the very elect" to be "the Bride, the Lamb's wife," and we hear the Apostle's testimony, "If ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Glory to our God! We rejoice not only that all the world shall yet "come to a knowledge of the truth that they may be saved," but that Christ is not "waiting" on us, but is selecting, or electing, his Church to be his co-workers as the "royal priesthood" in Kingdom glory, to do the work of instructing and judging (`Rev. 5:10`) and uplifting and restoring (`Acts 3:20,21`) all who prove willing and obedient "in that day." We are glad to note also that the called and chosen are in "the school of Christ" now, for their development and testing, and that our light afflictions may thus "work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." (`2 Cor. 4:17`.) Would that all of God's true children could see these things eye to eye with us! And we believe that they will very shortly now; that the Lord's plan will shortly be hid only to the perverse or cold hearted.
"DEVILS ALSO BELIEVE."
We remember the above statement of Holy Writ, and also the fact that demons once cried out to our Lord, "We know thee whom thou art, the Holy One of God," and further how a damsel possessed of a demon followed Paul and Silas certain days crying: "These be the servants of the Most High God, which show unto us the way of eternal life."
These are proofs that the demons keep in touch with earth's affairs, and that at times they have attempted to make capital out of their knowledge: for we are not to suppose that they really sought to serve the Truth or to proclaim it except with selfish, evil intentions.
The above thoughts came to us as we recently read the predictions of some noted astrologers, whose information we credit to the spirit demons and not to ability to read destiny in the stars. One of these in particular closely touches dates and incidents on the line of our Scriptural expectations as follows:--
ASTROLOGICAL PREDICTIONS OF OUR TIME
"In a dozen publications of this present springtime over all Europe astrologers agree that an extraordinary period is approaching. In the first place Saturn enters the sign of the Fishes in April, 1905, to remain there during 1906 and 1907. He will come out only in July, 1908. And these conjunctions, most rare in astrology, promise to be particularly hard on France.
"Each year the sun remains in the Fishes from Feb. 20 to March 20. It will be then in conjunction with Saturn, therefore, in 1906, 1907 and 1908. Combined with divers halts in the signs of the Crab and the Scorpion, this move of the sun threatens internal war and revolution for France, ending in the fall of the republic. The great troubles will commence in 1907 in a 'people's revolt.' There will be pillages, burning cities, massacres and the temporary domination of the lower orders. 'The year 1907,' declares one astrologer, 'will see the triumph of the populace and the reproduction of the worst days of the first revolution. I will add that this year, which seems marked as one of the most fatal in the history of all times, reproduces all the conjunctions of 1572--the year of the massacre of St. 'Bartholomew!' Twice only have the same conjunctions happened since--in 1793-4, the year of the terror, and in 1848, that other year of revolution in France.
"For France, at least, peace will not be reestablished until 1914, when a 'warrior king'--'he who is to establish the reign of good'--will set things to rights. This 'Caesar imperator,' realizing the astral reproduction of Napoleon I., will commence to manifest his presence in 1914, and will be definitely crowned in 1916 or 1917. Until then--alas! poor France!"--Sterling Heilig.
::R3637 : page 293::
THE EDITOR'S WESTERN TOUR.
STARTING on the evening of August 29th, we were speeded with kind wishes to ourselves and all the dear household of faith whom we hoped to meet later by twenty-five of the "brethren," fully half of whom were of the Bible House family. As we parted the song floated out, "God be with you till we meet again."
The next morning found us in Chicago, where about 200 friends had assembled, waiting for us--including some from nearby places. We addressed them on the subject of "Consecration," and subsequently fourteen symbolized their vows in water baptism.
The afternoon session was attended by about 400, whose attention was directed to the words of the Apostle Peter, "God resisteth the proud, but showeth favor to the humble; humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time."
Although we took the midnight train for St. Louis, nevertheless about a dozen of the dear friends were there to see us off and bid us God-speed. May divine mercy and grace and peace be their portion too. They assured us that their hearts and prayers went with us, though they could not go farther in person.
ST. LOUIS OUR NEXT STOP
We had a warm welcome at St. Louis, too, and the attendance was excellent, notwithstanding the fact that we did not get the announcement into the WATCH TOWER, and hence but few came from nearby towns.
The morning session was in the "Christian Church" edifice. The topic was "Consecration," and following it nine symbolized full consecration by water baptism. Among the number was Brother Alexander Stewart, well known throughout the South for the active and prominent part he took in the war of the Rebellion, as the leader of "Stewart's Cavalry." General Stewart is of advanced years, but clear of intellect. He has been a "soldier of the Cross" for some time, and deeply interested in "Present Truth" for several years. He expected to be symbolically baptized at the time of
::R3637 : page 294::
the Chattanooga Convention, but was prevented by ill health.
After leaving the water Brother Stewart was heard to express great satisfaction at having thus outwardly confessed his blessed Lord and his full devotion to Him and His cause. Brother Stewart already had joined the army of the Lord, but by this act of public confession he, so to speak, donned his regimentals and joined the forces "on the firing line." May he loyal prove and true to the end of the way, and with all the faithful receive the crown of life which fadeth not away.
How sectional lines, race and party prejudices and all the distinctions of wealth and fame gradually fade from the minds of those who become by God's grace and truth members prospective of the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the peculiar people, called for a purpose, even to show forth the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his marvellous light!
With this erstwhile warrior, but more recently college president and later U.S. Commissioner, none others of the nine were of the same rank or education, yet they all were on the same level of divine mercy through Christ --justified and sanctified through the grace of our Lord. The assorted company well illustrated the Apostle's words, "Not many great, not many wise, not many learned, hath God chosen."
One of these nine was a child of twelve years, a very unusual sight with us. Child though she was she gave good evidence of a clear appreciation of what she did, so that we could not question her acceptability with the Lord. We could not help a mental reflection on how extremes meet in the family of God--in the body of Christ. The tall man, full of years and ripe in the learning of this world, and the little girl, on the threshold of life every way, had both heard the voice of Jesus say, Come unto me and have your sins forgiven, and find rest for your souls and find eternal life. "All of the
::R3638 : page 294::
Lord's followers meet on this common level. "All ye are brethren," "One is your Master, even Christ."
Some may have almost envied the great man, but we doubt not he almost envied the little child, who, starting thus early to follow the footsteps of Jesus, had apparently reached nearly the same point at the same time by the shorter journey. "They that seek me early shall find me"--the more easily. Nevertheless, the General's learning and influence may be turned to the greater advantage if wisely used in the service of our King. May he, may we all, prove faithful to the cause of him who loved us and bought us with his precious blood.
Again we took a night train--this time for Kansas City. Again a crowd escorted us to the depot and bade us God-speed. Joined by two at the start and two more at Chicago our party now numbered five, and we learned that others would join us further on.
AT KANSAS CITY
We had a splendid time at Kansas City, Mo. The dear friends gave us as warm a reception as did the weather, which is saying a great deal for them. The morning session was a praise and testimony meeting and many availed themselves of the opportunity to show forth the praises of him who "called us out of darkness into his marvellous light."
In the afternoon about one hundred and fifty were present at a gathering for the interested only and not advertised to the public; many of them were from other parts of Missouri, and from Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. Our subject was, "The called ones according to his purpose," and how to these all things work for good if received in faith and obedience and love.
The evening session was for all--the public included --"To Hell and Back. Who are there? Hope for many of them." We had the closest of attention from a packed audience of about 600, and left them in haste by a side door just in time to get our train for Denver. As we left, the friends united in the song-prayer, "God be with you till we meet again," a sentiment fully reciprocated by our hearts.
THE DENVER TWO-DAY CONVENTION
A ride of a night and day brought us to Denver on Saturday night at 10.30 o'clock, where a group had been keeping vigil for us for over seven hours, because our train was delayed. Meantime five more had joined our party. We were cordially received, and although the G.A.R. encampment had brought hosts of people our bespoken quarters were soon at our disposal, and, with the Lord's blessing, we awoke Sunday morning refreshed for further service for the "King" and his "brethren" and the "household."
Brother Hall opened the services with an address of welcome from the Denver Church and introduced Brother Harrison (Pilgrim) as the permanent chairman of the Convention. The latter made some fitting remarks and soon after threw the meeting open as a prayer, praise and testimony service, according to program.
The afternoon service was advertised and public the topic being "To Hell and Back," etc. A fine audience was present and excellent attention was given. It is hoped that some of the audience of 475 got some further opening of the eyes of their understanding respecting our Creator's gracious character, testified to by the glorious plan he has outlined for us in his Word.
The evening discourse had for its text the story of Gideon and his band, typical of Jesus and his faithful followers and their ultimate victory over the forces of evil, typically represented in the hosts of Midian. This discourse many of our readers already have, as it was reported in the Pittsburgh Dispatch.
Monday's services were held in the South Broadway Christian Church. At 9 o'clock we had another praise and testimony service, followed by a discourse by Brother Harrison on "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many." (`Isa. 53:11`.) The speaker showed how important is knowledge. Without it Adam failed, with it Christ Jesus was a victor. Likewise
::R3638 : page 295::
knowledge is necessary to the followers of Jesus who would make their calling and election sure. Knowledge is not the end but closely connected as a part of the means of our victory over sin and death and selfishness.
Our afternoon discourse was on "Baptism: true and false"--a review of the topic presented in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. VI. The baptistry was at our service, and 20 symbolized the full surrender of their wills to the Lord--the immersion of their wills into his will in all things and their rising to newness of life, to be attained perfectly in the First Resurrection.
This was the last session of the Convention proper, and, bidding the dear friends adieu and God-speed in hope of meeting in the Kingdom, we were just in time for the 6 p.m. train for Ogden, Utah, our next appointment. However, as the building was at our disposal, it was decided to hold a post-Convention meeting in the same place, and Brother Harrison, missing the Ogden stop, remained for this meeting also.
::R3638 : page 295::
BEREAN BIBLE STUDY FOR OCTOBER.
--SEE PREFACE OF WATCH TOWER BIBLES
AND WATCH TOWER, MARCH 1, 1905.--
BROTHERLY KINDNESS (BROTHERLY LOVE)
21. How should brotherly-love treat a slanderous report against an elder or other brethren? F.293 (par. 1) to 294 par. 1,2; Z.'02-200 (1st col. par. 1).
22. How should the Church exercise brotherly-kindness toward those who "walk disorderly"? `1 Thess. 5:14`; F.292, par. 2; F.298,299; F.303, par. 1; F.307, par. 2; Z.'02-198 (2nd col. par. 1), to 199 (1st and 2nd cols.); Z.'02-311 (1st col. par. 1).
23. How should the Elders exercise brotherly-love in reproving the "unruly"? Z.'03-189 (1st col. par. 2); F.300,301.
24. How may we avoid judging one another as individuals? `Matt. 18:15-18`; Z.'99-41 (1st col. par. 3, and 2nd col.); F.289-292; Z.'00-217 (1st col. par. 1,2); F.402, par. 2, to 406; F.414, par. 2, to 417.
25. How should brotherly-kindness be exercised toward brethren who have doctrinal "hobbies"? `Rom. 14:1`; F.317, par. 1, and 318, par. 1.
26. What is the relation between brotherly-kindness and "the unity of the faith"? `Eph. 4:11-16`; F.239, par. 1, to 240, par. 1; F.326 to 328; Z.'01-295 (1st col. par. 1); Z.'03-6 (1st col. par. 3, and 2nd col. par. 1,2).
27. How should brotherly-kindness deal with serious offenders in the Church? F.302; F.417, par. 2 and 418.
28. By what rules are "false brethren" to be judged? See Topical Index of Watch Tower Bible, under "Brethren."
29. What should be our attitude toward "siftings" among the brethren? `1 Cor. 11:19`; Z.'98-334, (2nd col. par. 1) and 335.
30. What should be the attitude of all "true sacrificers" toward each other and toward those who have left "the Holy"? T.62, par. 1,2,3; F.478, par. 2, and 1st half of par. 3.
::R3638 : page 295::
"GREATER IS HE THAT IS ON OUR PART."
--`DANIEL 6:10-23`.--OCTOBER 8.--
Golden Text:--"The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them."
KING Darius of this lesson has not yet been located in profane history, consequently higher critics hold this as against the authenticity of the book of Daniel. However, it is but a short time since they denied the reality of Belshazzar of our last lesson: only recently his name was found on some of the monuments of that period. Doubtless the same will be true in regard to "Darius, the Mede." Our surmise is that he may have been Cyrus the Mede, and that the name Darius was merely an official title--as, for instance, in Germany Emperor William is called the kaiser, and in Russia Emperor Nicholas is styled the czar. Similarly, Cyrus may at times have been called Darius, just as subsequently in history we read of Darius Hystaspes; or, since the Medo-Persian empire with the addition of Babylon was now large, possibly Darius may have been vicegerent of Cyrus in Babylon. At all events we will stick to the Scriptural account, confidently expecting that sooner or later its truthfulness will be demonstrated.
When the Medo-Persian empire succeeded Babylonia as the world empire, and Daniel was found occupying a place of importance and high honor, his qualifications were promptly recognized; and when the then civilized world was divided into one hundred and twenty provinces, with a governor over each, there was a court of three superior governors who had the charge of the whole as the king's representatives or ministers, and Daniel was the chief of these three. How wonderful this appears! How we must admire that element of candor and evident desire for good government which led the kings of Babylon and Medo-Persia to exalt to place and power those who were found competent and trustworthy! The same conditions were manifest in the case of Joseph in Egypt. Evidently the history of the world marks a contention between the good and the evil in the fallen race. There is a desire for that which is right and just and true in very many, but in opposition to this is the selfishness which overrules and overrides everything that is contrary to its interests, as we find illustrated in the lesson we are now considering. When the new conditions of the Millennial age prevail we may have no reasonable doubt that the majority of mankind, cut off from conditions which now prompt to selfish invasions of the rights of others, will appreciate and enjoy the righteous conditions which will then prevail. As the
::R3639 : page 296::
Lord has declared respecting that time, "The Desire of all Nations shall come."
FOR ENVY THEY DELIVERED HIM.
Selfishness, a prominent trait of fallen humanity everywhere, is the basis of all graft, dishonesty, wherever it is found in every nation. Probably there is very little superiority of conscience in one part of the world over another; but in Europe and America the light of public criticism and the power of civil liberty combat fraud and dishonesty in public officials in a manner and to a degree unknown in eastern countries--in Turkey, Russia, China, etc. The standard of honesty is higher with us probably on this account. In oriental countries it is the custom for government officials to receive bribes, and to more or less pervert justice accordingly.
Daniel's high position in the empire was doubtless accorded him to a considerable extent because of his opposition to unjust practices and because he was esteemed by the king to be unimpeachable in his honesty. We can readily understand that his associates in the directory of the empire, as well as the governors of the various provinces, being hindered by him from pilfering and from disposing of valuable franchises and privileges to their own profit, would have no kindly feelings toward Daniel. On the contrary, they hated him, not so much because he was good, honest, just, faithful, for these qualities all men to some extent no doubt admire; but they hated him because he stood in the way of their schemes and projects and aggrandizement.
LOVE ENVIETH NOT.
Additionally they no doubt envied Daniel. He was not a Mede, he was not a Persian, he was not even a Chaldean; he was a Jew, a man whose very nation had withered and disappeared from amongst the nations. With him out of the way they would all have better opportunity for attaining their ambitions--not only would one of them get his higher position but all would profit by his fall. As he scrutinized all the affairs of the kingdom, and was permitted to call to account every failure of duty, they concluded that he must be humiliated: he must have weaknesses and faults also, he must be subject to bribery of some kind if it could only come to him from the right standpoint. They felt sure of this, judging him according to the standards of their own hearts. Their first endeavor was to corrupt him, to detect him in some dishonesty and thus to humiliate him. But they failed. Loyal to God, and doing all things as unto the Lord, they found no fault in him--nothing that they could bring against him as a real charge, a crime; but they still hated him--without cause--except that he was honest and sincere, true, and that the brightness of his character discredited theirs and put them to shame.
Thus it has always been, as the Lord expressed it-- "The darkness hateth the light." Thus bad men dislike the company of the pure in heart, as it continually condemns them; they do not feel the same freedom in the presence of those who are pure in heart. Thus the Lord again said--"Marvel not 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 now ye are not of the world, for I have chosen you out of the world; therefore the world hateth you." "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify God." Daniel's enemies did not glorify God on his behalf at the time; nevertheless God was ultimately glorified by his course before the king and before the people. So it may be with us: for the time all things may seem to work unfavorably, but if we are faithful in letting our lights shine our Lord's promise will be fulfilled: "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass. He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday."--`Psalm 37:5,6`.
Envy and hatred are set down in the Word of God as works of the flesh and of the devil, antagonistic to everything that is good and right and approved of the Lord. These are amongst things which the Apostle assures us must be rooted out of our hearts if we would ever be of the Kingdom class. Many unconsciously use false measures when judging of righteousness and unrighteousness: many who would roundly condemn in unmeasured terms the thief and the seducer, pass lightly over envy and hatred in their own hearts. From the divine standpoint matters are different, for hateful and atrocious as the former crimes are, they are the results of sin working in the mortal body, while envy and hatred are sins more of the mind and indicate a perversity of will, which is a far more serious matter everyway than a perversity of the flesh. Thus the Scriptures tell us that God looketh upon the heart. It may be a new thought to some of the Lord's consecrated people, who have long harbored more or less of envy and hatred, that their condition is really more reprehensible in the sight of the Lord than that of some who, while better in heart, are in public prisons because of wickednesses of their flesh.
To discern this clearly means a proper sympathy with the poor world in general, the "groaning creation," and it will mean also prayer and fasting before God in an endeavor to purge out the old leaven of malice. We may be sure that envy and hatred cannot abide in the heart in which the Spirit of the Lord abides, for the two are opposites everyway--the Spirit of the Lord is the spirit of love, which thinketh no evil, is not envious, has not hatred. We would not say that a feeling of envy or hatred in the heart was a sure sign that the Lord's Spirit had already departed, but we could say with confidence that the two spirits are in antagonism, and that one or the other must conquer. There can be no peace, no progress in the spiritual life while the heart entertains envy, bitterness, hatred for others.
THE TRAP LAID FOR DANIEL.
Not successful in detecting wrong doing in Daniel his associates took the opposite turn and concluded to entrap him in his well doing. They had learned of his strength of character, and rightly concluded that he would not swerve from the course his conscience approved --and their plans were laid accordingly.
All the great kings of ancient times posed as gods, or, more properly, as the chief priests and vicegerents of their gods--just as the popes of Rome, each in succession, claim to be the vicegerents and representatives of Christ, Pontifex Maximus or chief priest. This same title, Pontifex Maximus, was held by the Roman emperors, and our lesson indicates that the same thought prevailed in connection with Darius--that he was "a very god on earth," as was said of Pope Martin. The conspiring princes knew well the weakness of humanity for praise and honor and homage. They affected a great reverence for the person of Darius and argued that it would have a salutary effect throughout the empire for all the people to recognize his office from the high religious
::R3639 : page 297::
standpoint--that he was the vicegerent and representative of the gods, and that homage and honor and loyal sentiments would be increased by a decree that all worship should be rendered to him personally for a month. The king, susceptible to flattery and to reasons of State, fell in with the proposition.
Flattery and vanity have been the tools of the Adversary for the injury of the Lord's people and cause many a time, and all who recognize this fact should be specially on guard accordingly. True, none of the Lord's consecrated ones are likely to be placed on a pinnacle of fame or of power as was Darius, nor are they likely to be offered literal worship; yet there are little worlds, little empires, so to speak, little circles of acquaintance, in which the same principles may more or less operate.
In every little group of the Lord's people there may be one or more who, because of talents or other providential circumstances, may properly have a prominent place in the love and esteem of the company, and the Word of the Lord indicates that this may not only be reasonable but just. If they are faithful stewards they should be loved and honored for their works' sake. But it should be remembered that they are still brethren, and that in no sense should they be given the honor or reverence which belongs to the Lord only. No confederation of Church or State can interfere with this principle, that God should be recognized as in every way the Chief, the one alone worthy of worship. The brothers and sisters of the Church, while esteeming faithful leaders very highly, should see to it that they do not flatter or puff up or in any other manner excite the vanity and thus lead to the undoing of those whom they may properly appreciate as servants of the Lord and of his flock. Likewise every leader in any capacity in the families of God should be on guard against the insidious influences of pride and fond desire and ambition, and against accepting to himself the credit which is due to God for the Truth and the knowledge of it and for some ability in presenting it to others. Humility is undoubtedly one of the most important of our lessons--those who in any degree neglect it will surely find trouble as a result.
::R3640 : page 297::
THE PRAYERS OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN.
Public praying is much more common in the East than it is here. The Mohammedans are very numerous in all parts of the East, and at certain hours of the day, at the striking of the clock, all business is suspended and every Mohammedan engages for a moment in worship. Some fall on their knees, others stand with bowed heads and closed eyes, others stand with the face turned upward in prayer. The spirit of reverence appears to prevail more generally with them than with us, and the man who has no gods, no religion of any kind, is greatly disesteemed. It was, therefore, not at all contrary to usual custom that Daniel, who like others of the time was on the first floor, had an upper chamber for quiet and rest and prayer from the remainder of the house, and reached usually by an outside staircase.
This little pavilion had its windows to face toward Jerusalem, for the prophet remembered the words of the Lord through Jeremiah that, at the end of the seventy years of desolation, Israel would be brought thither again; and we may be sure that, trusting the great Abrahamic Oath-Bound Covenant, he was expecting great things eventually for his nation. It was his custom to go to this little room three times a day to kneel before the Lord in prayer and thankfulness. Ordinarily nothing would be thought of such a matter, but the conspiring princes, who had already noticed this, concluded that Daniel was so thoroughgoing, so truthful, so honest, so bold, that the decree which they got the king to sign, that all worship should be to him alone for thirty days, would not change Daniel's course one iota. They were quite correct in their surmises, and Daniel, hearing of the decree, undoubtedly understood that the purpose and object of it was to entrap him and cause him to be devoured by lions--thus to get rid of him, thus to put out his light, thus to free themselves from his surveillance and honesty, thus to secure to themselves liberty and prosperity in their program of graft.
Daniel continued to worship the Lord as before. He would not sell his conscience, he would not deny his God he would not pretend that he was praying to or worshipping Darius. Had the king's decree been of a different kind, Daniel's course might properly have been a different one. For instance, had the king decreed that none should worship in public or in the sight of others any other god, then Daniel might consistently have worshiped in private; but since all worship other than that of Darius was forbidden, the question was different and no compromise was possible. All of the Lord's people should be extremely careful about compromising the conscience. Our consciences may require education, because through the fall our judgments may be warped and twisted and need to be corrected; but conscience must be followed in any event. As the education comes in modifications may result, but no change or modification must be made that conscience will not approve; any other course than this would not be safe for the Lord's people to-day or at any time.
Another thought connected with this is the propriety and necessity for prayer. We have been surprised occasionally to hear of some professed follower of Christ urging the impropriety of prayer--that all of life should be a prayer, and that there should be no formal kneeling before the Lord in worship and thanksgiving. Such a proposition is astounding to us--the logic of it is incomprehensible. True, indeed, we are to pray without ceasing. Our entire lives are to be so devoted to the Lord and to his cause, and our minds are to be so filled with appreciation of his goodness, and our faith in him is to be so constant and so bright, that we will always have in mind his will in every matter, and thus be in the praying attitude of heart continually; but we hold that no Christian can maintain this heart attitude without going to the Lord in a more particular and formal manner, and preferably upon the knees, and if possible sometimes at least in solitude--"Enter into thy closet and pray to thy Father who is in secret."
Nothing in this, however, would interfere with the thought of family prayers, nor with the still further thought of prayers in the Church, which is the Lord's family circle. Our Lord gave his sanction to this, not only by going aside for private prayer but also at times by praying with and for the disciples. For instance, the prayer recorded in `John 17` and the words of the apostles commend praying in the Church, and even call attention to the propriety of praying in such a tone and voice as could be understood by the others present. Those who contend to the contrary, the Apostle intimates, are doing so about matters which they do not understand. However capable such may be they should be given no place
::R3640 : page 298::
of prominence in the gatherings of the Lord's people. First, let them learn before calling upon them to be leaders in the flock. The same principles apply to those who contend against the observance of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. They should be kindly treated, for even our enemies should be kindly treated, but none should be selected as servants in the Lord's flock who have not a respect for and a knowledge of the faith once delivered to the saints, and a respect for all the institutions established by the Lord and his apostles.
THE KING WAS TROUBLED.
Shortly after the signing of the decree the princes reported Daniel as having violated its terms, and then and there the king's eyes were opened and he beheld the trap into which his vanity had gotten him. In accord with the theory that the king was the vicegerent of his god was the law of the Medo-Persian empire that every decree by its king was inviolable--unchangeable. No doubt there was a policy behind the establishment of such a law. No doubt the great men of the empire desired fixity, so that when the king had made a positive promise or decree respecting them he could not at the instance of another change the arrangement and thus subject his princes and counsellors to his caprice. The king was greatly displeased with himself that he had fallen into this trap, and was displeased undoubtedly with the princes who had entrapped him. The words "with himself" are lacking from some of the reliable manuscripts, which makes the displeasure all the broader to include his counsellors. He appreciated Daniel as a man of God and as an able servant of the empire, and set about at once to do everything in his power to annul his own decree--"he labored until the going down of the sun to deliver him," but he found no excuse.
Ordinarily, when the kings desired to be released from some decree, they called upon their wise men and magicians, who usually were skillful in suggesting a way out of the dilemma; but in this case it would appear that there was a combination of all the wise men and rulers of Babylon against Daniel. They now had him in their power, and would suggest nothing in the way of release. On the contrary, they held up before the king that he was bound by his decree and that he could not do otherwise than execute it, because a failure to do so would mean a dishonor to the empire in having broken its laws and would endanger his throne, etc. Perceiving the king's endeavor to rescind the decree, the counsellors called upon him in a body to impress the necessity for its execution. In compliance Daniel was cast into the den of lions. It was probably a lion pit surrounded by high walls, just as we have to-day in some parts bear pits. The entrance to this pit from certain protected enclosures was through a door, and there the lions were enclosed at night by a stone, which, pushed across the entrance to the pit, served as a door and was fastened. The king's sealing wax was placed upon this and also the seal of his counsellors, thus indicating that the pit might not be opened except with the consent of both the king and his counsellors.
What must have been the feelings of the aged prophet and ruler as he realized the condition of things, and as the king talked with him and told him of his inability to gain the consent of his counsellors to any change in the decree, and of his deep sorrow in connection with the execution of the sentence. How well Daniel had let his light shine is evidenced by the words of the king in this address--"Daniel, thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee." We may reasonably suppose, too, that a man so firm and strong in his faithfulness to the Lord and to principle could go to the lions' den without fear. Some one has said that one with God is a majority; the Prophet has said, "Greater is he who is on our part than all they that be with them." Although Daniel did not live under the favored conditions of this Gospel age and its influences of the holy Spirit, he did have what by the Lord's arrangement is common to all mankind, namely, strength and courage in proportion to his honesty of heart and faithfulness.
On the one hand he knew that God was able to deliver him from the lions if he chose to do so; on the other hand he knew that if the Lord permitted the lions to devour him he could give him strength and courage to endure the pain and trials, with other Jews who looked forward in hope and anticipation to the glorious Millennial time when Messiah should reign, when all of his faithful will be blessed, yea, when all the families of the earth will receive a blessing. Why should such a man have special fear or dread as respects a den of lions? Much more, why should we, if likewise faithful to our trusts and obligations to the extent of our ability, and if living in the enjoyment of our privileges and with the still greater light upon the divine plan--why should we fear or quake under such circumstances? God is able to deliver us from every evil, and has promised that whatever may come to us shall work for our good, because we love him and are called according to his purpose. It requires faith to pass through such an ordeal triumphantly, and it requires character and obedience behind that faith to give it strength; and above all it requires that behind the faith and the character shall be the realization that Christ is our sufficiency, that he not
::R3641 : page 298::
only has redeemed us with his precious blood but that he lives to succor us.
Bunyan, in his story of how Christian fled from the City of Destruction to Paradise, tells us how he was attacked in the way by two great lions, and how he trembled and expected to be destroyed, until ultimately he discovered that the lions were chained and could go so far and no farther against him, and that he had room to pass between. This allegory illustrates to us our own experiences in life as Christians. Lions great and small threaten the Lord's people in the present time, and, as in Daniel's case, the threats are generally with the view to turn us aside from duty and the service of the Lord. These are tests that come to us. If we yield to them we are proving that we are not of the overcoming class; if we stand faithful to the Lord they will demonstrate that he is able to carry us through all the trials and difficulties and diverse experiences of this present time.
"NO LION SHALL BE THERE."
The prophet Isaiah, pointing down to the grand Highway of Holiness which shall be open to the world during the Millennial age, the way of righteousness by which they may return to full harmony with the Lord and to full restitution and eternal life, declares respecting that way, "No lion shall be there nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon." Again at the same time it was declared, "Nothing shall hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain [kingdom]." How glad we are, even
::R3641 : page 299::
while battling with the lions in the way, and while being threatened by them, and while overcoming the fear of those which would bring a snare upon us--how glad we are to know that in the coming age the world will not be subject to such oppositions, but rather will be helped upward and onward in the way of holiness. And how encouraging it is to know that our experiences with these lions in the way, these oppositions of the world, the flesh and the devil and science falsely so-called, are all testing and proving us to the intent that the Lord may use us by and by in the great work he purposes, the deliverance of the whole world from that great Adversary who goeth about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and how then he shall be bound for a thousand years that he shall deceive the nations no more.
THE ANGEL OF THE LORD DELIVERED HIM.
Evidently the more the king thought respecting Daniel and his God the more his faith in that direction increased. He spent a sleepless night, and arose early in the morning and went to the den of lions and cried in a voice full of sympathy and sorrow, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually able to deliver thee from the lions?" And is it not true at the present time that those who are not of the consecrated class sometimes have a considerable faith in our God and in his protecting power, and in us as his children? It is well that we keep this in memory-- well that we recognize that our worldly friends are watching us to see to what extent our God delivers us from the difficulties and trials of life's pathway. We have known many instances where the strength and fortitude granted to the consecrated ones to endure trials and difficulties and hardships unmurmuringly has told the worldly friends, louder than any professions could tell them, of the power of our God and of the peace of God which passeth understanding, which rules in our hearts. Thus it should always be. The trials and difficulties of life shall not overwhelm us if we trust in the Lord. Our hearts may be joyful in him notwithstanding persecutions and difficulties. Thus the Philippian jailor perceived that the God of Paul and Silas was able to deliver them from being utterly cast down by their experiences when in the stocks suffering from the beatings they had recently received. Their songs in the night told that their God was able to deliver them.
Daniel promptly responded, and assured the king that God had sent his angel and had shut the lions' mouths that they had not harmed him. We are not to understand this to signify literally that an angel held each lion by the muzzle, but rather that God through the exercise of his power had restrained the wild beasts, who were hungry, and without such restraint would have devoured the helpless prophet. A thought that associates with this is the assurance of the Apostle that the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that are his and delivereth them, protects them--protects them not always from the threatening disaster but from any injurious or evil effects therefrom. As, for instance, in our Lord's case, and in the cases of many of his followers, no protection was assured against those who sought to take their lives, but the Lord did overrule so that their death under such conditions was a blessing not only to themselves but also in its influence upon the remainder of the Church.
It would be well for all of us to learn more and more this lesson of the Lord's ever-present power to help. But in order to have the blessing from such experiences faith must be there--not faith in ourselves, not faith in our own righteousness, but faith in God's love, faith in the great redemption price which that love has provided, and faith in the great promises which are still in reservation, waiting for accomplishment.
But the child of God who would have a perfect faith, a perfect trust in God and his promises, must needs remember that they are applicable only to a certain class, namely, to the sincere, the honest-hearted, who not only will to do right but who do the right to the extent of their ability and whose faith in Christ is counted for the robe of righteousness which covers their imperfections and blemishes. This was so in Daniel's case as he testified to the king that God preserved him because of his innocency, and he was able to appeal to the king also, that his course had been one that met the king's approval. Let us live in this attitude continually, in a condition in which our consciences are void of offense toward God and man--in a condition, therefore, in which we can hope for the blessings which God has promised to those who love him, who reverence him, who seek to do his will.
"THE KING WAS EXCEEDING GLAD."
The king's heart was rejoiced. He realized that he had been entrapped, and that those who had been at the foundation of his difficulty were not really worthy men, fit for the high positions of trust which they occupied, seeing that they were willing to destroy a fellow creature because of his adherence to the principles of righteousness --because he was better than themselves, because he was more faithful to the trusts imposed upon him. The king felt that he could not afford to lose one of Daniel's stamp of character. And this is true still: there are not enough men of the Daniel type, courageous, honest, truthful, innocent, capable. Yet if Daniel could occupy such a position, certainly all of the Lord's people of this Gospel age, still more highly favored, should be able to approximate the same standard, especially since our blessings are along the spiritual lines.
When Daniel was taken up from the den of lions his word was fully corroborated, no marks of violence from the beasts were manifest. The king, having strictly followed the law of his country, having been forced to this by his subordinate rulers and wise men, realized that now he was free from their control; and under the despotic form of government then in vogue he called for those who had been Daniel's accusers who had entrapped the king, and he commanded that they be put into the lions' den. He would thus make a test as to which were worthy in the sight of the Lord. Daniel's protection manifested the exercise of divine power in his behalf: let these others, if they would, call upon their gods and let them deliver them. There was no divine power to stop the mouths of the lions, and, hungered, they devoured those who were cast to them.
Thus the notable miracle pointed out the true God, and Daniel as his true servant, and no doubt an important lesson was taught to those acquainted with the circumstances. It is not for us to think of having our enemies devoured when we are delivered, it is not for us to rejoice over their fall. On the contrary, the Lord's people are to be self-content and to remember that the Lord has said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." Instead of having our enemies devoured we have the Apostle's word,
::R3641 : page 300::
"If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst give him drink." Love and sympathy are to be our attitude toward all the world of mankind, including those who persecute us and say all manner of evil against us falsely, for his sake.
The punishment which came upon Daniel's adversaries was what the Scriptures designate a judgment, and we have the Scriptural assurance that when the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth [when they are general] the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. When the Kingdom shall have been established and the reign of righteousness shall have begun every transgression shall receive a just recompense of reward, every sin will be punished and every endeavor for righteousness will be blessed and rewarded. How speedily the world will learn righteousness we may readily judge. In the present time, although probably the majority of people would prefer righteousness to sin and injustice, yet under present conditions, under the dominion of the prince of this world, the righteous are the ones who usually suffer and the evil doers very generally escape--hence a doubt prevails respecting God and any enforcement of justice. The assumption is that if one can escape the technicalities of the law and the clutches of the law's officers in the present life he is safe and need not fear divine interference. We may readily see then that when the Millennial age shall have been fully ushered in, and when just penalty will follow each transgression and reward follow every good deed, a world-wide reformation or conversion to righteousness will follow forthwith in every land, in every tongue. In that glorious time the righteous shall flourish and the evil
::R3642 : page 300::
doers shall have the stripes, and eventually if they continue to be evil doers shall be cut off in the second death.
There are indeed various illustrations in the world of transgressors suffering severely for their wrong doing. We are to remember, too, that with the nation of Israel God made a special covenant, under which transgressors were to be punished and well doing was to be rewarded-- much after the manner that shall prevail during the Millennial age. But we have no such assurances as respects this Gospel age and as respects the Lord's consecrated people. We are to remember, on the contrary, that many of the Lord's people have suffered as transgressors. For instance, our Redeemer himself was crucified as a blasphemer and injurious person, and against one of the apostles the mob cried out, "Away with such a fellow from the earth!" The Apostle himself says that they were counted as the filth and offscouring of the earth, and our Lord said that we must not marvel if such be our experiences; that we should on the contrary remember that the Master of the house had been called Beelzebub, and that his true followers might be spoken of similarly in an evil manner.
We are waiting, therefore, with patience for the glorious day of Immanuel's reign, the reign of righteousness, when justice shall be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet. In the meantime we are to brave the oppositions of the world as did Daniel, as did Christ, as did the apostles, faithfully, courageously, persistently --even unto death. The principle which we recognize has been recognized also amongst worldly people, as Shakespeare says:--
"Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow,
Thou shalt not escape calumny."
"That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect;
For slander's mark was ever yet the fair;
So thou be good slander doth yet approve
Thy worth the greater."
IN THE WILDERNESS.
Be still, and murmur not, poor heart,
When God shall lead thee to "a desert place,"
And bid thee dwell apart.
If ravens in the wilderness
Did feed the servant of the Lord, will He
For thee, His child, do less?
Nor fear, sad heart, its loneliness,--
Hath He not said, "I never will forsake
Nor leave thee comfortless!"
Have faith, thy Master may design
To fit thee thus for Kingdom work and bliss,--
And wilt thou then repine?
Be patient, let His will be done;
Be calm, be strong, that He may finish there
The work He hath begun.
"A little while," He soon will come,
And say to thee, "It is enough, my child,
My faithful one, come home!" G. W. S.
::R3642 : page 300::
RETURNING FROM BABYLON.
--`EZRA 1:1-11`.--OCTOBER 15.--
Golden Text.--"The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."--`Psa. 126:3`.
THE first year of Cyrus mentioned in our lesson is by general consent considered the year 536 B.C. Evidently this does not mean that it was his first year of reigning as the king of Persia, but that, having conquered Babylon and accomplished other matters subsequently, this was the beginning of his reign over the united empire of the Medes and Persians as successor to Babylon in world empire.
It will be remembered that in `Isaiah's prophecy (44:26-28`; `45:1-4`), the Lord had distinctly marked out the return of his favor to the Israelites, and had mentioned Cyrus by name as the one who should accomplish their deliverance, saying:
"That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shall be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid."
"Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him: I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight. I will break in pieces the gates of brass and cut asunder the bars of iron....For Jacob my servant's sake and Israel my elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, although thou hast not known me."
Tradition has it that this prophecy was drawn to
::R3642 : page 301::
the attention of King Cyrus, and that it was in harmony with the prophecy that he promptly made the proclamation mentioned in our lesson, permitting all Israelites who might desire to return to their own land to do so. The wording of the proclamation, "The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judea," might seem to imply that Cyrus was a believer in and a servant of the true God, but we have no corroborative evidences to this effect: rather the records of his time refer to the heathen gods, but apparently make no mention of Jehovah. We are to remember that the heathen kings were at that time in the habit of recognizing the gods of the various countries which they governed, and wrote and spoke respectfully in reference to all of them, apparently with a view to preserving the respect for their realm of every creed amongst the worshipers. Thus also to-day Great Britain, ruling over millions of Mohammedan subjects through her viceroys, shows deference to the Mohammedan faith and worship, and not long since built and endowed a Mohammedan college. We are to remember that amongst worldly people policy continually has an upper hand, and that the religious convictions, aside from a clear knowledge of the Truth and consecration thereto, are more or less vague and indistinct in vision and see good and bad in all religions. Positiveness in religion usually is only found in those who have the Truth and a clear knowledge of the Divine Plan of the Ages, or in fanatics blinded by ignorance and superstition.
The king's proclamation encouraged all the people of Babylon, neighbors of the Jews, to help such as desired to return to their own land. The king himself provided liberally for the expedition, sending a troop of one thousand cavalry for the protection of the emigrants and their goods from the depredations of the Arabs of the desert. He also returned to the Jews the vessels of the Temple which Nebuchadnezzar had taken at the beginning of the seventy years' desolation of the land-- the last captivity, when Zedekiah was taken. The total number of these vessels, gold and silver, is astounding-- five thousand four hundred, large and small.
ONLY 50,000 RETURNED.
When we remember the length of time the people had been in Babylon, that scarcely any of the Jews living at the time of this emancipation proclamation had ever seen Palestine, that they had merely heard of it through their parents, and that only a few very aged men and women remembered to have even seen the city as children, it will not surprise us that the total number volunteering to return to rebuild the city and the Temple was only 50,000. But they were a choice 50,000; they were, as nearly as could be reasonably expected, Israelites indeed. In their hearts burned faith in God and in the great Abrahamic promise which had held their nation together up to that time. In their captivity they had learned lessons respecting why they had been cast off from divine favor, and had learned also to look for and wait for this very event in which they now participated. They knew that the prophets had foretold that it would be seventy years of desolation, and they recognized that the opening of the door for their return was of divine arrangement.
Of course that fifty thousand were not all men and women of faith in the promises, but many of them, probably more than half, were children. The great mass of the nation, having become settled in business and in family relationships in Babylon, were loth to leave-- just as to-day, if Palestine were opened to the Jews for their return, there would be comparatively few to go from America, where they are prospering in business, socially, etc. The majority would undoubtedly go from the lands of persecution, and would probably be chiefly the poor. In the present case we know that they were not all poor, because a very large sum indeed was collected for the rebuilding of the Temple, a sum estimated to be
::R3643 : page 301::
nearly equal to four hundred thousand dollars.
"YE SHALL GO FORTH WITH SINGING."
`Psalm 126` seems to picture the returning of the Jewish exiles from the Babylonish captivity, our Golden Text being the key to the joys of the occasion--"The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad." A writer describing the scene of their departure from Babylon says:
"Forth from the gates of Babylon they rode, to the sound of joyous music--a band of horsemen playing on flutes and tabrets, accompanied by their own two hundred minstrels and one hundred and twenty-eight singers of the Temple (`Ezra 2:41-65`), responding to the prophet's voice as they quitted the shade of the gigantic walls and found themselves in the open desert beyond: 'Go ye out of Babylon, Flee from the thraldoms, with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth; say ye, The Eternal hath redeemed his servant Jacob,'"--`Isaiah 48:20`.
We are interested in the affairs of this narrative sympathetically, and also because we realize that the Lord's providences control in respect to all the affairs of Israel, his people. But we have greater and more profound interest in the events here narrated now that our eyes have been opened to see that the seventy years of desolation of the land of Palestine represent the seventy jubilee cycles appointed to them in the time the fulfilment of which we are now living. Our interest is still further awakened when we remember that in this long interim of time God's favor was transferred from the Jewish house of servants to the Gospel house of sons, and that an antitypical Babylon has carried away captive the Lord's people and all the golden vessels of Truth. Spiritual Israel in captivity has been waiting for the glorious deliverance to be brought about by Immanuel, the Deliverer greater than Cyrus.
The proclamation of liberty for the Lord's people to go forth from Babylon has not been generally responded to by them. A comparatively small number of them have had such love for the Lord, such a reverence for his promises, such a desire to be inheritors of those promises as to lead them to sever the earthly ties and the bonds which hold them satisfied in Babylon. But some have heard, some have rejoiced, some have stepped out and some are still leaving. Our antitypical Cyrus, our present Lord, has permitted us to bring back the golden vessels, the golden truths which for so long have been misappropriated, misapplied, misunderstood, misused in Babylon.
"COME OUT OF HER, MY PEOPLE."
The Lord now calls his people forth from mystic Babylon ("Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots"). His words are, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be
::R3643 : page 302::
not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues." (`Rev. 18:4`.) No one should be urged to come out of Babylon. If he does not come out joyfully, "with singing," making melody in his heart to the Lord, glad of the opportunity of coming out, glad of the opportunity of getting away from the error and into the place of divine favor and inheritance of the divine promises, let him stay in Babylon. If he loves the things of this present time, the social advantages of Babylon, the business advantages and opportunities, the greater honor of men, the greater comfort and ease, let him so indicate to the Lord and refuse to respond to the Lord's message.
As the company of the Israelites left Babylon with great joy and rejoicing, so we who have gotten free from mystic Babylon rejoice exceedingly and would not go back under any consideration. By and by, when the time of trouble is imminent, others may still escape and deliver their souls, but it will not be with the same joy: some we are assured will be in Babylon up to the time of its fall, and will be delivered, but theirs will not be the songs of gladness and joy and victory; they will not be of the overcoming class. Rather it will be theirs to mourn that they were unfaithful to the voice of the Lord, that they remained in Babylon contrary to his Word and that they receive of her plagues, her chastisements, her troubles, which so surely will come thick and fast--the "seven last plagues."
"Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry;
We're marching through Immanuel's ground,
To fairer prospects nigh."
::R3643 : page 302::
ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--
More than six years ago I commenced to look to the Lord alone for help, asking grace to be made willing to die or live, just as His will would be.
Years of suffering followed and no notable change physically, but spiritually the blessings were many and the Lord's nearness very sweet.
Reading the Word of God continually, also many publications on the blessings and need of an absolute surrender, the Lord not only made me willing to consecrate myself fully to him, but same time prepared me to receive the present truth. (I must count it a real wonder, a special grace of the Lord, that I was able to read most of the time, as the nature of my illness, according to man's knowledge, makes reading impossible.) About this time a tract came to hand warning all Christian people against a publication called "MILLENNIAL DAWN,"--denouncing same as a dangerous and anti-Christian work, and quoting numerous Scriptures in proof of this assertion. Carefully reading same I soon noted that most Scriptures quoted were given a different interpretation than I was led to understand them so far. This naturally awakened the desire to read the very publication mentioned and compare notes, but how and where to get these books was more than I knew. All I knew was the name, and this subsequently proved all sufficient, because only a few days after, two books were left in our house to be given to a party living near. Sitting in my chair near the table, and noting the paper on this package badly torn, I reached out to do it up better, and--oh, wonder!--MILLENNIAL DAWN was in my hand. Dear Bro. Russell, had it not been for the torn wrapper these precious books, which proved to me a source of instruction, joy and happiness for years, would have passed out of the house and I not any the wiser. Surely this was the Lord's doing. I was hungry for the truth, longing for more light, and true to his promise he provided. Glory to his name!
This was three years ago last winter and often almost overwhelming blessings received in the study of God's dear Word in the additional light presented, frequently makes me cry out: "Oh, Lord, I am utterly unworthy of so much grace. Grant that I, like clay in the potter's hand, may rest in thy Masterhand, to be prepared and molded into a vessel ready for thy use and honor only."
With Christian love and greeting, I remain,
Yours in Christ Jesus, JOHN F. GRAF,--Oregon.
PASTOR C. T. RUSSELL:--
The books which, by the grace of God, you have been led to write and publish, have been an inestimable blessing to me, and some of my dear ones, and I cannot thank my dear Redeemer sufficiently for having directed my attention to them.
I read them over and over again; indeed, I may say I read nothing else but these and my Bible, and much as I loved the Scriptures before, they are doubly dear to me now; because, I have the key which opens up to me much that was mysterious and therefore not properly understood. Now, since through you and the other dear friends who labor together with you I have received this "present truth," the whole Scripture is illumined--God's plan, in Christ, for the glorification of the Church, his body, and the salvation of the world, is grasped as never before, and I say, reverently, that I rejoice even with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. There are of course many things that I would like to talk with you about, with the hope that I might see more clearly than I do: but it is wonderful how the holy Spirit enlightens--as one reads, ponders, prays, and compares the statements in the DAWN series with Scripture, endeavoring to rightly divide the Word of Truth, how the mists clear away, and the light of the truth fills the soul, and one gets a faint idea of what it is to be filled with the Spirit. I try, as I have opportunity to do, some harvest work, and have frequent chances for conversations. One is astonished at the various ways in which different people, many of them professed Christians, receive the truth. Some turn a deaf ear entirely, and change the conversation as quickly as possible; others are indifferent--the truth as preached is sufficient for them; they do not wish to be any wiser than their parents, etc.; still others are startled and state that the signs of the times indicate that some great catastrophe is approaching they know not what. Others, and these are the ministers and learned men I talk with, admit that we have fallen upon evil times; but that brighter times are coming, that an age of greater faith is approaching, etc. Pity they cannot see just how it is to be brought about! But, thank God, there are a few who have the listening ear. With those I earnestly talk, as aided by the spirit of God, and generally get them to promise to read one of the series of books, DAWN.
I had been sending my copy of the WATCH TOWER to a friend. This week my copy was late in coming, and yesterday I was delighted to have her ask where that paper was I had been sending her.
You will not be surprised when I tell you that I am about to withdraw from the Presbyterian Church here. For some time I have been studying the Confession of Faith, and of course I am not in accord with it, and for this reason cannot loyally remain. There are two other reasons why I must withdraw--one is that I deplore the spirit of destructive criticism, and the evolutionary theories that not only exist in the Church but are tolerated and approved. Again, while in the Church I am bound, if loyal to its creed, to be silent about present truth; but I must speak, and therefore my course is plain.
Yours in this glorious harvest work, __________.,Canada.
::R3643 : page 303::
MY BELOVED BROTHER, RUSSELL:
I always appreciated the work being done through the colporteur service, but this appreciation has grown wonderfully since entering the pilgrim field, as coming in contact with the various little classes I have learned how some colporteur --often unknown--sowed the first seed which gave the work in that place its start. If each colporteur could know how often we hear of such things discouragement would be unknown amongst them.
For instance, about two and a half years ago, I was at Savannah, Ga., and during my visit a sister told me how that city had been canvassed with apparently no results,--books had been sold but no fruit could be seen. Two months ago, I went to Chauncey, Ga., for the first time, and in the course of my drive into the country I asked the brother how he first learned of these things. He said that some years ago his sister was working in Savannah, and one day a colporteur came to her employer's home. She answered the door bell, and found a colporteur there from whom she purchased "The Plan of the Ages." That book brought her and her two brothers into the light, and now, a hundred miles or so from Savannah, a grand little company is laboring and rejoicing because of the seed dropped by a colporteur.
I went to one place in Michigan where a brother and his wife were full of joy over the light which had come into their hearts and home. The brother told me that when his wife ordered the book he thought, "There's another one of those fake book agents," and tried to show the colporteur brother just how he felt about it. But he said to me, "Oh, Brother Barton, I only wish I knew who that brother was. How glad I would be if I could only show him how different is my feeling now, and could take back what occurred then."
Do you not think the Lord purposely keeps results from being seen by those who do the work in order to give room for the exercise of faith? They should believe their "labor is not in vain in the Lord," whether they can see its outward fruit or not. Our heavenly Father wants us to work for him,
::R3644 : page 303::
not for results,--work from principle, not from a mere desire to see our efforts prospering.
Should we not also esteem the fruit borne in our lives of more consequence than the results of labors in the harvest field? Does not `2 Tim. 2:6` teach this?
So even if there was no fruit from the colporteur labors except the fruits of patience, humility and fortitude borne in our own lives, it would more than pay to be in that work, but there is other kind of fruit too, and we pilgrim brethren would like to tell of that for their encouragement.
"God's mercy 'tis which hides results--
A mercy which our good consults;
For did he choose he could reveal
The fruitage of our Christian zeal.
"He might have shown the seed you thought
Had surely died and come to naught
Was living in some unknown place
Producing words and works of grace."
May the dear Lord continue to bless those noble brethren and sisters who in this way are "laying down their lives for the brethren."
With Christian love in the royal service of the King,
BENJ. H. BARTON,--Pilgrim.
DEAR BRO. IN CHRIST JESUS:
I am so thankful to the Lord for having brought my husband and myself out of that awful darkness into the light of Present Truth, that I want to write you a few lines in regard to same. We were spiritualists for five years: In fact I was a trance medium, although I could never bring myself to take any money for it, as I regarded it altogether too holy to use it for earthly gain; yet for the past few years I was not satisfied with it and its teaching, and I prayed to the Lord to show me whether it was his work, as I had always remarked to the spirits if it were God's work I would be very thankful for the gift and to be his instrument to further his truth; but if it were the Devil's I did not wish for any of it. Whereupon they always replied, "There was no Devil," and that it was God's work. I gave up friends for their sake, and for two years I lived in a haunted house suffering untold agony, doing, as they told me, what God had ordained me to do, to release an earthbound spirit, the spirit of a man that committed suicide by cutting his throat from ear to ear.
Many times I suffered the horror and agony of having the sensation of a razor cut my throat from ear to ear. This they told me was to be a proof when that spirit was near me: Time upon time I suffered dying agonies to bring tests to friends. Prior to my coming into the Truth last fall, I had a very severe trial, which I thought I could not bear, and when I prayed to die a beautiful little form appeared assuring me God would forgive, and I would suffer no punishment if I committed suicide, which I had intended. But, thank God, my husband watched me until I became more calm, and could reason again. That was just one week before the booklet "What Say the Scriptures on Spiritualism" was placed in my hands. When studying that for two hours, and fighting the great battle all night, I knew who I had been serving, and so you can probably gain a glimpse of why I say awful darkness. In fact I could write many more experiences, should you think they would be any benefit to God's people.
I rejoice in the Lord and pray he may keep all. I desire to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Lord and to you, for the DAWNS--as Bible Keys. May the Lord continue to bless you and use you as that faithful steward, is our earnest prayer.
Yours with Christian love, MRS. G. K.--Ill.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:
Much love and greetings in the name of our dear Redeemer. May our Father continue to bless you richly in all your efforts to serve his cause. The Cleveland Church has requested me to inform you of the rich blessings derived from the Niagara Convention, not only by those who attended, but also by those who did not attend. We had a convention echo meeting last Sunday, and all who attended the Convention echoed the blessings they received to others. We had a delightful season of refreshing, so much so that we had to let you know about it. It was, indeed, good to be there, among so many of the Lord's people. Such a happy people, all so full of love and the spirit of unselfishness. If this is a foretaste of the heavenly joys, what will it be to have gained the crown and be forever with the Lord? It was a means of drawing those who attended closer to the Lord and a fresh endeavor to run the race set before us more patiently. These conventions, dear brother, are a great spiritual uplift and, as you said, the money expended was not wasted, and we think could not be spent better. The Niagara Convention was, by far, the most blessed convention we ever attended. We are so happy and thankful that you intend continuing them. May the Lord preserve you, to continue to give us such refreshing seasons of fellowship.
Yours with Christian love, FLORENCE SOPER,--O.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--
I am still rejoicing in the light, and appreciate the strong and helpful words in the WATCH TOWER and DAWN. You certainly lift the standard high, higher than any other religious teacher I ever knew, but none too high, and I rejoice in it. I am greatly enjoying the new Bible Studies, and as I am not where I can meet with others, I have pretty long lessons. Am not doing as much personal work as I could wish, but hope to be able to do more sometime.
Yours in the blessed cause,
EMILY A. HAYES,--Maine.