ZWT - 1905 - R3479 thru R3687 / R3487 (017) - January 15, 1905
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VOL. XXVI. JANUARY 15, 1905. No. 2
Views from the Watch Tower........................ 19
Jewish Comment on Mr. Zangwill's Mission..... 19
The Scotch Presbyterian Church................ 19
The New Hell.................................. 20
British Workmen Criticized.................... 21
Church Federation Within Ten Years............ 21
Poor Russia's Pitiable Plight................. 21
Election vs. Free Grace........................... 21
Increasing Influence of Spiritism................. 23
The Purpose of Miracles........................... 28
The Satisfying Water of Life...................... 30
Public Ministries of the Truth.................... 32
Special Items..................................... 18
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
JEWISH COMMENT ON MR. ZANGWILL'S MISSION.
ISRAEL ZANGWILL, the author and playwright, has come to this country to interest leading Jewish citizens in the establishment of a Zionist colony in British East Africa. The plan he advocates was projected at the last Zionist congress in Basle, and has a practical interest, in view of the British Government's declared willingness to set aside a large tract of land on the Nandi Plateau, Uganda, for purposes of Jewish colonization. As Mr. Zangwill explains (in an interview reported in the New York Times):
"This is not merely a dream in the air. It is an actual offer of the Government, made under the auspices of Joseph Chamberlain.
"The first Jews who went to Palestine did not go there straight. They wandered for forty years in the
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wilderness, and the old and feeble dropped away. Those who arrived were the strongest and fittest. The striking thing is that the Jews have not possessed an inch of land for nineteen centuries. This tract on the Plateau of Nandi is the first thing that has ever been offered."...
The Jewish papers in this country do not look at all kindly on Mr. Zangwill's plan. The American Hebrew (New York) says: "We doubt very much whether Zionists will subscribe to Mr. Zangwill's new definition of Zionism. It sounds like Hamlet with Hamlet omitted." To this The American Israelite (Cincinnati) adds:
"Of course he will succeed in getting more or less money; there never was a scheme so wildly foolish that a glib talker could not get some support for it. That this money will be absolutely wasted there can be no question, and if this were all there would be no great harm done."
Jewish Comment (Baltimore) says:
"Our English correspondent thinks that Jewish East Africa would become an ordinary English colony with a Jewish governor, and this seems to be all that is in it at present....It may turn out to be quite as successful an enterprise as the colonies in Argentina (and that is a modest hope), with the great advantage of being under the supervision of the English Government, the colonizing power par excellence. If the whole aim of the Zionists were to get a legally assured home, East Africa offers a prospect of an early realization of their fondest dreams; but if at the same time they hope for reinvigoration, intellectual and moral, through the influence of the spiritual glories and memories of Zion, East Africa will be as impotent as New Jersey or Winnipeg. Badly as the Jews need a place to rest in peace, they need an influence that will make for culture and for the awakening of the instincts that we are so ready to believe lie at the basis of Jewish character."
THE SCOTCH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
The fact has been already referred to that the House of Lords, the court of last resort in Great Britain, decided that the United Free Church did not acquire right in the property of the denomination and gives title to all to what is termed "The 'Wee' Free Church," which still holds fast to the original creed, refusing modification necessary to union with others. The House of Lords as a court decided that the moneys and properties accumulated for centuries for the propagation of a special faith or creed should not be diverted at the wish of any majority, however large. Doubtless this will be a spoke in the wheel of Church Union and turn the attention more to federation as easier, quicker and less hazardous.
How this matter marks the error of all the denominational creed fencings! None of them are of such a size as to permit all true Christians and only such to stand upon them. A writer in the Independent Review truly says: "The pious citizen of Antioch who lent his house for the assembling together of
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those first called Christians would be much startled could he see and hear the mass as it is performed today either in St. Peter's, Rome, or St. Paul's, London." The Duke of Argyle remarks that thus the recent decision affects "all British churches that do not by their constitution formally allow their members to 'agree to differ,' a liberty seldom given to churches in words, though nearly always practised in action." A writer in The Contemporary Review sees the error of present creedal methods, but evidently does not see that the Apostolic Church was free and different in these respects. He says:--"The position of all churches which use or acknowledge doctrinal standards or maintain a collective policy is affected by the judgment. They are told, in effect, that the law does not recognize churches where property is concerned, but only beneficiaries under a trust, powerless to alter its terms, incapable of declaring the purposes for which they exist, restrained from taking any step which may even be held by a civil court to involve a change of doctrine. Churches that exist on such terms, bound to the intellectual methods of the past, forbidden under ruinous penalties to think out the issues of Christian faith for themselves, place themselves, surely, in a position of fatal inferiority and disability."
The decision is just, as respects the donors of the past, and works hardship only in proportion as unscriptural creedal fences have been erected. The fellowship of the early Church was built doctrinally on faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Redeemer of men, in the justification of true believers who forsake sin to "follow the Lamb," and who through a full consecration of everything are begotten of the holy Spirit. All the Lord's true people could stand on that platform today and to add to or take from it is ungodly and the constant cause of trouble, as it has ever been. The Quarterly Review sums up the loss of "United Free Church" in these words:--
"A large and flourishing church, comprising nearly a quarter of the population of Scotland, with a national influence even greater than her numbers represent, and prosecuting extensive missions in Europe, Asia, and Africa, has been suddenly decreed to have lost her identity, through her union with another church and certain changes in her formulae which this union required; and to have forfeited in consequence all her invested funds and the bulk of her real estate."
THE NEW HELL.
The professor of Christian Theology in Tuft's College (Prof. G. T. Knight) not long since, in The North American Review, said:--
"As for Protestants, there is still to be heard on occasion a thorough-going expression of the old doctrine, but a more common opinion, even among conservatives, is reported in the words attributed to Dr. Patton, of Princeton. He said, according to report, that the number of the finally lost will probably be in about the proportion of those now confined in prison on earth. Dr. Briggs, who is reckoned somewhat less conservative, said that the number would be 'inconsiderable.' And it is by extending 'probation' to the future world, as Luther did, or by some substitute for the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, that provision is made and opportunity is given for doing so much more than the Church on earth can do....
"To the question whether the blessed in heaven will not be saddened by seeing their nearest and dearest ones tortured in hell, Luther answered: 'Not the least in the world." Jonathan Edwards said: 'The view of the misery of the damned will double the ardor of the love and gratitude of the saints in heaven.' Andrew Welwood thought: 'The saints will be overjoyed in beholding the vengeance of God.' Samuel Hopkins expressed the opinion that the sight of hell would be 'most entertaining' to all those who love God, and would give them the highest and most ineffable pleasure. The great Dr. Bellamy capped the climax by an elaborate calculation, based on science and philosophy, in which he estimated that the happiness of the blessed in heaven would be increased 9,600,000,000 times on account of the misery of the damned."
He notes a great revulsion of sentiment on this subject of late years, and in evidence quotes the expressions of several prominent clergymen as follows: Dr. Farrar said:
"These wanton exercises of the imagination assume the aspect of deadly blasphemy against him whose name is Love....We can scarcely refrain from the question which one has asked: 'What crimes of men can merit the endless tortures here set forth, except the crime of conceiving such tortures, and ascribing the malice of their influence to an all-wise and holy God?'"
Dr. Briggs said: "The preachers preach the damnation of the heathen; and the hearers hear and accept. But they do not believe it in their hearts. If they did, they would be more worthy of damnation than the heathen themselves--unless they should at once give their whole lives and property to the missionary cause."
John Wesley once said: "Calvin's God is my devil." Dr. A. H. Strong said: "Christ always suffers with us. He (who is God) began to suffer when the first sin was committed, and he will always suffer so long as men sin."
* * *
It is profitable for us to note these comments, not as endorsing any of them but by way of calling attention again to the fact that the increase of knowledge and heart enlargement of our day are sure to lead into error unless the Bible teaching on the subject be clearly seen. How thankful this makes us for the light now shining into our hearts and upon our Bibles; and how earnest it should make us in communicating this blessing to all who have "an ear to hear."
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BRITISH WORKMEN CRITICIZED.
Rev. R. J. Campbell of London City Temple, who recently charged that British workmen are "often lazy, unthrifty, improvident, sometimes immoral, foul-mouthed, and untruthful," spending their Sundays in "idle self-indulgence or drunken rowdyism," is being criticized by Labor journals and others--among them ministers. Nevertheless, "faithful are the wounds of a friend." Among other things quite scathing Mr. Campbell said:--
"Two thirds of the national drink bill is incurred by the workingman. His keenest struggles are for shorter hours and better wages, but not that he may employ them for higher ends. He is often lazy, unthrifty, improvident, sometimes immoral, foul-mouthed and untruthful. Unlike the American worker, he has comparatively little aspiration or ambition.
"Conscientiousness is a virtue conspicuous by its rarity. Those who have close dealings with the British workingman know he needs watching, or work will be badly done, and the time employed upon it will be as long as he can get paid for. It is as Ruskin
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puts it, that joy in labor has ceased under the sun. The worker does not work for the work's sake, but for the pay's sake, and his principal aim is to work as little as possible and get as much as possible, both in money and leisure. Such a workingman's Sunday, therefore, is exactly what we should expect, a day of idle self indulgence or drunken rowdyism. He does not go to church, and the churches are blamed for it; but his reason for abstention is not because his ethical standard is higher than the churchgoer's--far otherwise. These are facts, the statement of which may be unpopular, but which there is no gainsaying. Let it be understood that as stated here they are not intended to apply to workingmen as a whole, but to large classes among them, which classes it is to be feared, constitute a majority."
The Labor Leader (London) grants that "genuine Christianity" is on the decline, but thinks that ministers and Christians in general are doing little or nothing to "turn the downward rush." It says:--
"Are we to have more ministers standing by the side of oppressed labor, or is our fashionable preacher still to offer us words, words, words, which break no bones, fill no mouths, and end no iniquities? Is the pulpit still to keep its eye upon the rich subscribers in the pews, or is it to see nothing but justice, truth and mercy? The most eloquent and convincing condemnation of drink which we have heard came from a habitual drunkard who was getting intoxicated at the time. Is Mr. Campbell's denunciation of society also to be nothing more than the eloquence of Satan reproving sin?
"Though we feel how unsatisfactory a tu quoque is in such serious matters as this, we think the dishonest plumber and the lazy bricklayer may well turn to the preachers and say: 'Prithee, sirs, do not I do my work as well as you do yours? I look after my master's interests much more loyally than you look after those of your Master: and I assure you if I disregarded the fundamental principles of my craft as much as you disregard yours, my bricks would not stand a gale and my pipes would run nowhere at all.' The preacher who gets such a rebuff, if he be a wise man, will go away sorrowing. He will then pass out of the pharisaical stage of enlightenment."
CHURCH FEDERATION WITHIN TEN YEARS.
Commenting on the recent "National Council of Congregational Churches," the N.Y. Independent says:--
"This note of unity called forth the most remarkable scene in the meeting of the Congregational Council, when the report was adopted with the utmost enthusiasm for steps looking to final complete union with the Methodist Protestant and United Brethren bodies....Already the Methodist Protestants and the Congregationalists have accepted the plan of union, and it remains for it to be accepted by the United Brethren at their general conference next spring. Then the plan will have to be approved by the local conferences of the two before it can begin to be put into operation. It anticipates, for a while, the union of the three bodies in one general council, and the union of their missionary agencies, while plans are being prepared for complete consolidation. These things take time, as there are separate interests to be cared for and protected. We may expect that within the next ten years very much of the scandal of a disunited Protestant Christendom will be removed."
POOR RUSSIA'S PITIABLE PLIGHT.
Russia's disasters in the war with Japan, followed by the insurrection of her chief cities, presents a picture of severe retribution upon a haughty nation. "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." The fall of Russia is not yet, and doubtless in the interim the sufferings will be still more intense. The pity is that under present conditions the innocent suffer with the guilty and often more severely. Our special sympathy is for the poorly fed and but partly clad soldiers who are suffering at the front and for their poor families at home, and for the poor creatures whose unwisdom, joined with love of liberty and a desire to better their conditions, has brought them into conflict with the merciless Cossacks of the Czar's army. By and by--ere long now, it will be different. Then he who sins most shall suffer most, and the ignorant seeking the right way shall be guided to it by the great King and his joint-heirs.
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ELECTION VS. FREE GRACE.
REV. DR. PATTON OPPOSES UNION.
THE Rev. Dr. Francis L. Patton, Presbyterian, President of the Princeton Theological Seminary, preached in Pittsburg recently in the Third Presbyterian Church to a congregation crowding the church, made up of representative ministers and laymen from all parts of the two cities. As was expected, he opened the active campaign against union with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
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Dr. Patton preached from the words, "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness." He said:--
A SENSATIONAL SERMON.
"The minister is the attorney general of God Almighty, charged with the commission of presenting the claims of eternal truth in relation to the common things of life. He holds a brief for the supernatural. Some say that a minister must not touch secular things. I do not agree with them. It is his business to do what he can to bring men in their every thought into captivity and obedience to Christ. 'What is truth?' asked jesting Pilate, and he did not wait for an answer. If he had waited until today he would have got the answer from Chicago or from Oxford--'Any old thing is truth that works, that satisfies, that meets the exigency.' They say, 'You can convince a man if he will only be respectable and listen.' But he does not listen. If you cannot convince the one obstinate man in a jury, what is your argument worth? If Kruger could only have foreseen, do you think he would have declared war? If the Church of Scotland could have foreseen the action of the house of lords, do you think they would have gone into the union?
BAD CONSCIENCE A BLIND GUIDE.
"The worst thing that can happen to a man is to have a bad conscience. It is a blind guide leading him astray. Our Lord says we are the light of the world. If the world is ever to have a high ideal it must get it from the church. If men are ever to be lifted above the level of selfish desires, it is when they come into the house of God. The church has become corrupt in times past, and why not again? The rank and file think very much as their leaders. We are a gregarious people and go like a flock of sheep, men and women alike, and when the church follows blind guides, and the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch. You and I belong to the Presbyterian church, a great church with a great history--great moral and missionary history--a history which has marked the progress of this continent.
BEFORE "HIGHER CRITICISM."
"In 1789, when the general assembly was formed, there was no geology upon which to found attacks on the creation, no archaeology to upset early records, no higher criticism, no biology to attack statements as to the Garden of Eden, no sociology to make up a little sentiment to take the place of the old gospel. I often wonder how the old preachers got along when they had no telegraph wires nor wireless telegraph, when wars were fought and ended before they heard of them, and they had nothing to preach but the old fundamental gospel of Jesus Christ. But I had rather preach today with its magnificent opportunities when we stand face to face with great problems. There was a division in '37 on psychological lines, but the gravitating influence of good fellowship brought us together in 1870.
UNIONS WITHOUT FAITH.
"This movement for union goes on and people are making less of doctrine than polity, and they say, what is the difference, if we can come together. And the movement is for union, not with a Calvinistic body--not at all--but with an Arminian body. They say there is not enough difference between this Calvinistic confession of yours and that Arminian confession to keep the two bodies apart, and they say, 'Come together and disregard the difference, and unite on the basis of evangelical faith.' When this comes about how much broader do you want to be?
CALVINISM AND ARMINIANISM INCOMPATIBLE.
"You are morally committed to a polity that will embrace Arminianism. Great movements are going on--don't you forget it. I know what I am talking about. We are in danger of great defections in the Methodist church, in the Episcopal church, in the Congregational church, in the Baptist church and in the Presbyterian church--don't you forget it.
"We have the hard proposition--on the one side old-fashioned prayer-meeting, monthly concert, Sabbath observance religion, and on the other side out-and-out unmitigated rationalism. Men are saying this old-fashioned religion is what they want, and must hold on to, but there are intellectual difficulties, and they fear the stress and struggle and say, 'We will take the middle of the road.'
SEES THE CRISIS.
"When the great defection comes in all the churches, out of this storm and struggle a new church may arise. Before we go much further the time may
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come when the remnants of the faithful will come out and reorganize. When you get down to mere emotional subjectivity I will come around some Monday morning and ask you to let me have that subjectivity and send it off to have it analyzed by some professor of psychology, and I think you will not like to see the color of it.
"In the nation the rank and file follow the lead of the ministers, professors, editors, and if you tell what these say I will make a confession of faith. What the rich do the poor feel they have a right to do. The hope of the nation is not in big armies, big navies, new markets, but in righteousness.
"Darkness is bad enough, but blindness is far worse. What is needed is conscience in the individual, in the church and in the nation."--Pittsburg Gazette.
* * *
Dr. Patton is a theologian and sees, as many do not see, that Calvinistic theology and Arminian theology take opposite sides and are mortal foes to each other. Peace prevails for some years and neither denounces and shows up the other, but it is only for a time; the differences can never be ignored without the sacrifice of every distinctive theological principle and dogma. Nevertheless, the masses will not grasp the theological distinctions, because not taught theology in recent years; and because, for fear of a "theological war" such as formerly prevailed, Dr. Patton and others dare not speak out plainly their view of
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matters. For instance, the pith of the foregoing would scarcely be discerned by many of our readers without our added sub-headings.
Would that Doctor Patton could see with us the divine plan of the ages, in which both Election and Free Grace have their places. From that standpoint full and absolute union on the basis of the Truth would be a simple matter.
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INCREASING INFLUENCE OF SPIRITISM.
FOR twenty-five years we have sought to forewarn the Lord's people against the public influence of the fallen angels, the wicked spirits in high positions. (`Eph. 6:12`.) The pamphlet we publish treating this subject* has had a wide circulation. We have been much encouraged by the many reports received, showing that its influence has been widely felt for good, not only among the Lord's people, restraining them from "curious and dangerous investigations," but also amongst those who had been partially ensnared by the "wiles" of these adversaries--some of them "mediums."
We remind our readers afresh that the Scriptures expressly show that the fallen spirits would be held under restraint for a long time, and that those restraints would gradually be relaxed in the closing of this Gospel Age, in the lapping of the Millennial Age. The record is that they were "restrained [in Tartarus, our atmosphere] in lasting chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day." (`Jude 6`; `2 Pet. 2:4`.) As now the "great day" nears, it is not surprising to watchers to note that the chains are being gradually loosened, and that these "wicked spirits" have greater liberties than ever before.
"BE NOT HIGH-MINDED, BUT FEAR."
There is still danger to those who "don't believe in spirits," and who regard as superstitious the Bible narratives of how our Lord and the Apostle cast out demons, and how all wizards, witches, necromancers and others who proposed to hold intercourse with the dead were strictly prohibited in Israel. There is more danger to the self-confident, who "dare investigate anything," and who boast "a mind of their own," than of the humbler ones who say "let us fear to tamper with what God has forbidden." To many of the boldly self-confident curiosity is the demon trap. Before they are aware of it they are snared. The beginning of the trap is a bait to curiosity--a visit to a "medium," "a seance" with friends, or a "planchette" at a neighbor's home.
The Scriptures forewarn us that we are no matches intellectually for the wicked spirits, and need to give heed to the protections afforded us in the counsels of the Lord's Word. In the end of the Jewish age many were afflicted with evil spirits, and a considerable part of our Lord's work and that of the Apostles was referred to by the latter when reporting to our Lord--"Even the demons were subject unto us in thy name." (`Luke 10:17`.) So prominent is this matter in the four gospels that they contain forty-two references to these demons--mistranslated "devils" in our Common Version.
THESE ARE THE "STRONG DELUSIONS."
The Apostle points out that in the end of this age the Lord will "send," or permit to come upon Christendom, "strong delusion, that they may believe a lie,-- that they all may be condemned." (`2 Thes. 2:11,12`.) Thank God we see clearly that they will not be condemned to everlasting torture. Oh, no! That blasphemous misrepresentation of God's Word is one of the devices of these "wicked spirits," by which they would drive men away from God, by which they would blind them to his real character. But we are now in the "harvest," and the wheat must be separated from the tares, and these "strong delusions" will be permitted to demonstrate who have loved and obeyed the Lord's counsel and who, not doing this, are to be adjudged unworthy of the high rewards soon to be given to the "overcomers."
The context shows this, declaring in so many words that the "delusions" will ensnare them because "they received not the truth in the love of it." The "truth" is that the dead are dead, and cannot re-live except by divine power exercised for their awakening from this death-sleep. This plain truth, so abundantly set forth in the Scriptures, is not relished by any except the truth-hungry. Others tell us that they do not like to believe thus;--that they prefer to think of the dead as not being dead, but more alive than ever. Rejecting the plain truth as God presented it, and preferring Satan's lie, "Ye shall not surely die" (`Genesis 3:4`), these are easy marks for the demons who are constantly striving to perpetuate the lie which deceived Mother Eve in Eden. They will now be permitted to personate the dead so successfully as to be a "strong delusion," which "if it were possible [if the Lord did not protect them by the 'armor of God'] would deceive the very elect."-- `Matt. 24:24`.
HYPNOSIS, TELEPATHY,--MODERN DEMONISM.
Spiritism cunningly feigns, for a time, that its manifestations are the exercise of human powers. Thus it gains access to the hearts of men and women who dread demonism instinctively. Gradually, however, it comes to be conceded that the spirits are at the bottom of these powers, which are at least partially "occult." For years we have been almost alone in opposing hypnotism, telepathy, etc., as Spiritism in a new form; but now no less a celebrity than Professor J. H. Hyslop formerly "Teacher of Logic and Ethics" in Columbia University and now a leading light in The American Society for Psychical Research, seems to concede that spirits have to do with such matters;--not demons, but in his supposition "spirits of dead humans."
Prof. Hyslop is quoted in the New York American thus:--
"Telepathy is not a matter of thought waves. The solution is so simple as to be astounding. Messages are carried from mind to mind by the spirits. Mediumistic qualities are necessary, but, possessed of these and able to get in touch with the spirit world, telepathy should become as easy of accomplishment as the telegraphing of a message with wires.
"None but scientists should tamper with the weird phenomena of nature represented by telepathy," said Dr. Hyslop. "Every investigation should be made sanely and every experiment approached with a mind clear, impartial
*"What Say the Scriptures About Spiritualism?" 128pp. 10 cents.
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and prepared to weigh and balance every fact as carefully as though it were a precious gem.
"Our experiments in telepathy I regard as convincing, if not wholly satisfactory in number or in the ability to repeat them at will.
"In these experiments we used Mrs. Piper, who was sent to England in care of the British society. She was allowed to come into contact with no one not in league with the persons making the experiments. We began our experiments in long distance telepathy in the hope of eventually getting a message across the Atlantic, but failed time after time.
"Finally we scored a success. It was as remarkable as it was unexpected. The message was sent across the ocean in a way to demonstrate perfectly the possibilities of long distance telepathy. The experiment was conducted in a manner to eliminate any trace of fraud or deception. It was sent in English and delivered in Latin."
"COMMUNICATION WITH THE DEAD."
In an article over his own signature in "The World To-day," Prof. Hyslop says:--
"That there would be great difficulties in communicating, if spirits actually exist, would naturally be taken for granted by intelligent people. The silence of so many discarnate spirits through the ages if they exist, would be sufficient proof of that fact, as well as what we know of the difficulty of communications between living people when they have no common language as a means of it. But there happen to be additional reasons for this difficulty, and they should be mentioned, in order that the layman (I ought not to mention it to the scientist) may see and appreciate the reasons why the communications take the form which they show. The first of these is the abnormal mental and physical condition
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of the medium, specifically to illustrate, as in the case of Mrs. Piper. But this is not the chief reason that the communications are trivial and confused, or lacking in the kind of information wanted. The reason for these characteristics is deeper still. It is that the communicator is himself in an abnormal mental condition while communicating. It may be compared to a delirious dream, or to certain types of secondary personality in the living, or even to the trance of Mrs. Piper, in some of its aspects."
REV. I. K. FUNK, D.D. "TOUCHED."
Rev. I. K. Funk, D.D., of New York City, the widely known Methodist minister, has had some thrilling experiences with spirits, and has published them to the world, asserting, however, what even Spiritualists will admit, that some of the so-called manifestations are frauds; that others are by deceiving or "lying spirits." His investigations, like those of Prof. Hyslop, show the trend of our times, and give a hint of what we may expect when shortly the whole world will turn to the investigation of Spiritism as "the only proof that the dead are not dead."
REV. R. HEBER NEWTON'S VIEWS.
Discussing psychical science in an address to-night before the American Institute for Scientific Research in the home of C. Griswold Bourne, the Rev. R. Heber Newton made the assertion that the spirits of the dead communicate with the living: that telepathy is a power possessed by many men and women, and that clairvoyance is an established scientific fact. Said he in part:
"Clairvoyance was nothing but a will o' the wisp, but it is now a confessed power of certain organizations. Mollie Fancher, over in Brooklyn, has proved stronger than the incredulity of our savants. The belief in the existence of unseen spirits and of their power of communication with us in the flesh is one of the oldest, most widespread and most insistent beliefs of man, and it has revived strangely in our day.
"For the first time in the history of man these powers have been scientifically investigated in our day. Already the result is that a considerable number of eminent men of science have had the courage to avow that, after allowing for illusion, fraud and every possible hypothesis of interpretation, they have been driven up to the ultimate solution of the problem--the belief in the actual communication of the spirits of those whom we call dead with the living.
"Anyone who walks with his eyes open, ready to hear what men have to tell, will find stories pouring in upon him from men whom he cannot mistrust as liars, and whom he knows to be sane and sensible, which will stagger him. These experiences are not at all confined to the seance and the medium. Their most impressive forms occur in the privacy of the home without a professional medium present."-- Pittsburg Gazette.
The standing of Dr. Newton in the Protestant Episcopal Church will carry a weight of influence, and is being published and discussed in every quarter.
EX-JUDGE A. S. DAILEY EXPLAINS.
Great has been the interest aroused among those who are avowed Spiritualists by the statements of Dr. George Savage and Dr. Newton. The real enthusiasm has been among those who for years have acknowledged their belief in clairvoyance, clairaudience and telepathy between the dead and the living, although the word "dead" is one the true Spiritualist never uses. One man who for a quarter century has proclaimed himself a Spiritualist is former Judge Abram S. Dailey, of Brooklyn. Judge Dailey said he had read with interest the published statements by Dr. Newton, and felt that by him Spiritualism and Spiritualists had received recognition which would do more to gain for them and their creed the respect of the world at large than anything that had taken place since the founding of the Society for Psychical Research 20 years ago.
"Let me tell you a story which never has been given to the world," said Mr. Dailey. "I know that many will scoff at it, but I know it to be true, for it was told me by the man whom it chiefly concerns. It is how the Leland Stanford Junior university came to be founded. We all know it was built in memory of Leland Stanford's only son, but that is not all. It was known to me for many years that Mr. Stanford and his wife were interested in Spiritualism. They at times consulted mediums, not believing much of what they learned. In 1883, a year before their son died, they were warned by a noted psychic that if they permitted their son to remain in Florence, Italy, where he was studying, he would die. The warning was not heeded, and in May, 1884, he died. The parents for a while were numbed with grief. Then came to them the warning, and once more they engaged the services of the psychic.
"Mr. Stanford told me himself that through the medium they were able to get in communication with the son who had gone 'over the border.' I myself have been with them when a seance has taken place, and in the psychic language I have heard that boy talk with his parents. At one of these seances Mr. Stanford told me the spirit of their son came to him and made the suggestion that the great property, valued at $20,000,000, which would have come to him, be given to the founding of a place of learning. A year later, on the first anniversary of the boy's death, the corner stone of that great university was laid.
"When the university was opened, on October 1, 1891, the words of the founders were: "The idea of the university came directly and largely from our son and only child, Leland, and we hold the belief that had he been spared to advise as to the disposition of our estate he would have desired the devotion of a large portion thereof to this purpose."
HELPED CONVINCE REV. NEWTON, D.D.
"I may say without breach of confidence," continued Mr. Dailey, "that this story is known to Dr. Heber Newton, and is believed by him. When he resigned his Church in this city he went at once to Mrs. Stanford and has been with her constantly since. It is my belief this great truth that came to the founders of Stanford university was largely responsible in settling for all time any doubts that Mr. Newton had.
"That Spiritualism is gaining ground every day I know well. Only a month ago two clergymen in Brooklyn came to me late at night and said they represented 13 other pastors who secretly had been making an investigation of Spiritualism, but that they had got out of their depth in the mysteries and
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wonders of it. Would I help them? That was not the first time such a thing had happened. Under the surface there is a great quest of knowledge. People to-day are afraid to be known as Spiritualists, but there will come a day when a man will be afraid not to be known as one."--Pittsburg Times.
SUGGESTIVE FACTS NOTED.
It does not surprise us that Spiritism, like Christian Science, is aiming for the influential. Whatever else the fallen angels may be they are "wily," cunning. The Lord's people, on the contrary, number "not many wise, not many great, not many learned, not many rich, not many noble, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith."--`Jas. 2:5`.
A lady who has but recently come into the light of Present Truth, and who previously was a Spiritist, tells of how she had developed the "clairaudient ear," or the power of hearing the spirits when others heard nothing. (And, by the way, all should avoid everything of this kind as they would avoid a plague: they should if approached thus at once turn their hearts to the Lord in prayer for aid to resist the intrusion). This woman's relatives have been interested for some years in Present Truth, and pointed out to her that her communings were not with dead friends but with the fallen angels, "demons," and finally got her to the point of reading MILLENNIAL DAWN. This displeased the "spirits," who almost for a time prevented her study by an incessant opposition, such as "Don't read that," "That's not true," etc., etc. Gradually she asserted her will, calling on the Lord for help, and we understand that now she is quite free from their intrusions.
Another case which recently came to our attention, is that of a boy of 19 years, in Eastern Pennsylvania, who is terribly oppressed by demons. One of the brethren hearing of the case called to see him, taking a copy of the "SPIRITISM" pamphlet and a copy of ZION'S WATCH TOWER. The presence of the papers so aggravated the boy that they had to be removed before the brother could talk to the possessed one. The spirits having him under their control nearly set him wild until the books were removed. "The darkness hateth the light." We do not doubt that these evil spirits would do injury to the servants of the Truth if permitted. Evidently they are under some restraint as respects the Lord's people. Later on they may be permitted to operate through others, as Satan entered into Judas before the betrayal.
OFFER REFUSED--VOICE LOST.
A few years ago a lady living in Canada, a Methodist, prominent amongst that people as a choir singer, became interested in spiritism and developed the clairaudient ear. She suspected no harm until, by and by, the spirits proposed that if she would yield herself entirely to their control they would develop her voice and make her the best and most famous singer in the world. They knew of her ambition and used it as a bait to get her to surrender her will,--for apparently the human will is an impenetrable barrier.
The lady saw the bait, but was alarmed at the proposal, rightly reasoning that an evil being with an evil motive lay behind such a proposition, to sacrifice the most valuable gift of God--the will. She spurned the offer, and thenceforth would have no communion with
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what she had learned to fear without understanding. Not long afterward her fine voice began to fail and to-day she has none of it. But she has something infinitely better--she has the Truth. It was but a short time after she took her stand against Spiritism that the Lord graciously guided her to the "Dawns." She chose the better part and rejoices in it. We are not able, however, to explain to her how or why the evil spirits were permitted to spoil her voice: possibly it was through their influence that formerly she was so gifted, to the intent that it might be a snare for her. In any event, now that she understands who her tempters were, she is full of gratitude to God for her deliverance at any cost.
"EXPERIENCES IN SPIRITUALISM."
We clip the following from an exchange, "The Prophetic News." It may serve to further emphasize the foregoing.
I was induced to yield my hand to be controlled by a spirit, in consequence of reading what Mr. Stead wrote in the Review of Reviews about Spirit-Writing. Thus was the first step taken on this forbidden yet fascinating course. I look back on that first step and remember that I never uttered, in the perplexity that filled my mind, a prayer to God. I should have at once sought the guidance of God. Before I thought of so doing, I was seized with the desire to seek this newly-found source of help. I fear much I am not alone in being foolishly misguided by the perusal of spiritualistic literature which is now being circulated far and wide in England.
The spirit that came and offered me his aid forbade my praying to God, assigning as a reason that I was now under special heavenly guidance superseding the need of prayer, and that my heavenly inheritance was sure. That was strange counsel, and it was still stranger that I should have for one moment harbored it; but harbor it I did.
But, in addition, this messenger of Satan forbade my study of the Scriptures, for I had lately commenced a methodical reading thereof. The reason for this on the part of my evil counsellor was that the work I was now under so strong an obligation to execute, was so urgent that no time could be spared for other mental occupation.
Under the pretence of aiding me I was now "interviewed" by other spirits, who declared themselves to be the spirits of departed mortals. One assumed the character of what I might call ultra piety, and warned me from coming into association with and under the influence of a certain minister of the Gospel residing in the neighborhood--one who would certainly have counselled me in my perplexed state of mind with wisdom--but against him my "interviewer" uttered base slanders. This spirit hindered me greatly by making long discourses.
OF AN IRRELEVANT CHARACTER.
Another spirit declared himself to have been the former English ambassador to the nation of these persecuted Christians concerning whose distressing condition my heart was bleeding; and in language befitting a statesman he related his remarkable experience in the executing of his ambassadorial office. Then he desired my work to take a form which I subsequently found to be the worst under the circumstances, and that I should communicate it to an important public functionary. This was so opposed to my judgment that I could not yield assent to it.
After this the first spirit that came to me under the garb of a guardian angel declared that the spirit of my beloved mother had been permitted to visit me for a few minutes, and that she entreated me to transmit a message to a relative residing abroad, and that, though I was ignorant of the purport of this message, she would herself guide my pen in writing it down. I took the pen into my hand, holding it loosely for her to guide it. A strong wish came upon me to see my mother's form. Then, to my great astonishment, her portrait was instantaneously and with consummate skill, drawn on the paper before me. I now watched with breathless interest the writing of the message. It was traced in
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her well-known (to me) handwriting. Only two words were written, but they were written three times. The words written with tremulous haste and urgency were SAVE SOULS, and with a quick movement the pen was made to drop.
Such a message from such a source smote my heart with its deep solemnity. But I could not bring myself to send the message. I felt it would be wrong to send it. The relative for whom it was intended was already engaged in Christian mission work, and somehow I shrank from bringing on his mind the influence of a message from whence I hardly knew. I felt a total disinclination for any further communications from spirits, and I determined to receive no more from so dubious a source. But I was not to be so easily disentangled from this net into which in an evil moment I had deliberately placed my feet.
THE SPIRITS BETRAY THEIR EVIL INTENTION.
In disgust, and as if to take a plunge out of the vortex into which I had been stealthily drawn, I threw into the fire the portrait of my mother and all the spirit-writing. I would not believe that the spirit of that dear Christian--my mother --was wandering on this earth in company with others who gave me such disastrous counsels, and failed in their promise to strengthen and aid me. I even came to the conclusion that these spirits had attempted an impersonation of that departed saint, and had written that solemn message in order to induce me to believe in their celestial character and the sanctity of their intentions, that I might be induced to follow their perilous injunctions.
To justify their proceedings they were apt in misquoting Scripture. There was a terrible mystery in this, and it filled me with dire forebodings. I then said to myself, half aloud, "Can it be possible that there are evil spirits who have power to communicate with mortals and deceive them?"
A spirit answered "Yes," and added that they themselves would now act evilly towards me and that I was in their power to be punished, since I had sought to obtain knowledge forbidden to mortals.
With this startling declaration they changed their character and conduct to me.
I now believed that I had committed a sin in consulting them; but it was done in ignorance (it was a culpable ignorance, nevertheless) and with innocent intent. Surely I could trust in divine mercy to pardon me.
But the spirit answered my thought by declaring that the Divine mercy should not reach me, but that he would accuse me before the Recording Angel of this deadly sin-- intercourse with spirits,--and would call for immediate judgment!
Let it be remembered that these very spirits by their lying deception had induced me to cease from prayer and the study of Scripture, and had declared that my heavenly inheritance was sure. They left me to execute their threat.
A REMARKABLE VISION.
Soon after this a remarkable vision appeared by the permitted instrumentality of these tormentors. One night the wall at the end of my room seemed to vanish, and a large open space appeared. At one side was a dais with steps which appeared to lead up to an exalted throne, half hidden by clouds. Before the dais a number of celestial beings stood in a semi-circle, and, apart from the rest, at the foot of the dais, was a terrible form. I knew this was the prince of darkness, and I instinctively felt he was there as my accuser, and I seemed to have no advocate. This terrible vision at first seemed a confirmation of the spirit's threat, yet there was one essential difference. It was not, as they said, an avenging angel, but Satan, who accused me. I wanted to reflect on this vision and the new conditions environing me, but spirit voices continually interrupted me, so that I could neither think nor pray, but only repeat to myself some such words as "O Lord, in Thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded."
I could not stop their verbal communications, their small but intensely clear voices followed me everywhere.
The spirits told me that the torments of hell, in which I had not believed, awaited me, and that in the internal fires of the earth souls were in torment; and that the intensity of the punishment was proportioned to the guilt of the offender. They declared that I should know by experience the reality of eternal punishment that very night. The fact that I was still in mortal flesh would not impede them; there appeared to be some truth in their threat that they could cause death--or rather, the cessation of mortal existence, for they gave me an immediate and startling demonstration of their power in causing violent spasms and palpitations of the heart, while I was quite calm in mind. Indeed my imperturbable calmness caused them to remark that I was one of the bravest of mortals, but they would yet overcome me with greater terrors. But I ultimately found that they possessed no supreme power over the "King of Terrors." They then left me, and in the darkness and the silence of the night I waited, expectantly, believing that a terrible ordeal awaited me, for I knew that my enemies were powerful and malignant.
The wall of my room again seemed to disappear, and I was conscious that a spirit had entered and touched me, and a voice declared that he who had entered was an administrator of justice in the infernal regions. He demanded of me if I knew
WHY HE HAD BEEN SUMMONED TO ME.
I replied that I only knew that my enemies accused me, and that if he was the servant of God I desired him to tell me what it was the will of God that I should now do, for I desired only to know, and do that will.
He answered in some such words as these; "You are free; you cannot come within my province. I only punish
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those who will not obey God, and now I leave you."
I was inexpressibly thankful to be delivered from such threatening peril, and that a powerful spirit had acknowledged that Divine Power overruled in hell, and that he acted in subservience to it.
All these spiritualistic manifestations were far from being the phantasmagoria of dream or fancy--they too evidently belonged to the stern and abiding realities of life. They were manifestations of that great, and potent, and eternal realm of spiritual power which mortal vision may not yet behold. Throughout this ordeal I was calm, and possessed that intensification of consciousness that is aroused by tragic circumstances.
I resolved that as I had encountered these unique and tragic conditions not from personal needs or seeking personal aims, that the result of this experience should also have a wider range of influence.
I had more to learn and to endure. I was even to learn that my deliverance from the power of demons, like my faith, was of an imperfect character.
SATAN'S SCHEME FOR THE SUBVERSION OF CHRISTENDOM.
The remainder of the night I passed in peace. In the morning I recommenced the study of Holy Scripture; it became to me the most important concern of my life.
But to my great distress the evil spirits immediately returned to me with ceaseless interruptions to prevent my study. They determined to keep me from the knowledge of a full deliverance.
They compelled me to listen to their account of an insurrection on earth against Divine power which they had long been planning, but which was ere long to be carried out. They asserted that their mighty potentate and chief had obtained the vicegerency of earth, that he was the prince of this world, and that he would subjugate it as it never yet had been subjugated to his control, and that he would raise a storm of persecution against the followers of Christ. There was, in fact, to be a new putting forth of hellish influence upon the earth.
I was compelled to hear from these spirits the unfolding of their diabolical scheme. They brought many proofs to substantiate the fact that their power on earth was already greatly increased and was increasing. The prospects, therefore, that seemed in store for the world overwhelmed me with dismay. They asserted that their great potentate--the god of this world--had so subverted Christendom that at least the great ecclesiastical systems known as the Roman, Greek, and Anglican churches would more entirely be subservient to him. I was inclined to disbelieve their statements, I wished that they could have been disproved, but facts appeared to corroborate them. I then for the first time observed
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that the Church of Rome was gaining great power, and as for the Greek Church in Russia, it was then inflicting terrible persecutions on the true followers of Christ--Christians-- who would not practise idolatry.
It was now made apparent to me that these spirits who had hypocritically proffered their aid for the persecuted Christians had themselves instigated idolatrous Churchmen to persecute them. I gathered further that the servants of the great potentate of darkness had sown error and discord freely, in the other churches in Christendom and that these would advance in error and distance from God; that they had power to distract the attention and to deaden the perceptions of men who otherwise would
ARREST THE PROGRESS OF EVIL.
The spirits then spoke with sardonic triumph of their school of materialistic philosophy and their teaching on Cosmogony as opposing that of the Book of Genesis--a system that modern science has found so acceptable as appearing to fit in with what the bowels of the earth have displayed, but which entirely leaves out of its thoughts the operation of God's hand in judgment at the fall of man, when not only man was morally and physically ruined, but that which was once pronounced "very good" fell with the first man, so that the "whole creation"--material and immaterial --groans for deliverance.
A spirit calling himself Lord Beaconsfield declared that he would aid me by dictating a work of fiction that should surpass all his earthly efforts and would produce a small fortune for me, and that I should thus obtain the reputation of being a great genius by simply acting as his amanuensis, and he added the more alluring temptation to me--that the spirits could and would confer on me such knowledge and power that I myself should be considered by the world as a brilliant writer, and
WIN FAME AND FORTUNE.
Perhaps his offer has been made to and accepted by some of our present writers of brilliant but pernicious fiction, especially those who have popularized and dignified Satan himself; some of whom I know are students of Occultism.
One spirit professed to be the originator of such systems as Theosophy and Gnosticism. They had previously declared that "thought-reading" was under their domination and effected by them. I gathered, generally, though it was not very clearly expressed, that mesmerism and hypnotism were likewise agencies in their hands.
I learned, too, that in the world's pleasures Satan had set snares of almost infinite variety in order to keep men apart from God. Some persons he could degrade to the gross sins of the flesh, others of a more lofty and aspiring nature he could uplift by theosophy into a region of high and vain imagination.
I am aware that all this and much more I might write of what I gathered from the spirits was not necessarily true: but when compared with all the Scriptures have written as to the power of evil spirits to lead men astray, and when we see how marvellously successful the schemes for seducing the allegiance of the human mind from the authority of God and His Word has been, I am compelled to say that the spirits from the pit did not in their declarations contradict the experiences of the hour or the evidences of the Scriptures. I do not pretend to be able to understand why they supplied me with this information. It may be they knew not that I was eventually to be delivered out of their hands; but they wished, nevertheless, to glory in their mighty achievements in the world at large.
I was greatly impressed with the evident truth of much that I heard from them. O how potent were and are these "world-rulers of this darkness!" These were spirits of what I may call a highly intellectual order, whose language seemed unrivalled in its beauty of expression. I could not doubt their power to initiate mortals into any earthly knowledge if God suffered it. It may be that this excellence of power and understanding in spirit exists, as a remnant, in their fallen state, of those lofty faculties which belonged to them ere they fell; but about such matters so little can be known that the less I conjecture the better.
THE TRIUMPH AND DEFEAT OF SATAN.
And now, as another confirmation of the ascendancy the spirits still had over me, they fulfilled their previous threat to call blaspheming demons to madden me. At their bidding these base spirits came and uttered horrible blasphemies, until it seemed as if all hell was let loose upon me for a little while.
Then the spirits used one last awful device to overthrow me, and nearly succeeded.
In the midst of all these difficulties and dangers by which I was well-nigh overwhelmed, a commanding voice from an invisible spirit called me, saying words to this effect, "That I had become so environed and besieged by evil spirits that there was no deliverance for me on earth, and that he--an angel of the Lord--had descended from heaven to bear me this command from the Lord Jesus--that I must die by my own hand to escape my persecutors, and that my soul should then find rest in heaven." I had so strong a desire for life that nothing less than a Divine command, as I believed it could have induced me to take my life.
I did not question the words proceeding evidently from so high an authority. I could not conceive it possible that the spirits would command mortals to die by using the sacred name of Christ. Yet it was the device of the devil, and I fell into it.
I was perfectly calm in my mind and determined I would obey the Divine command, and trust in the Lord. Then, in the last prayer I thought to breathe on earth, I protested to the Almighty that I took my life believing I was acting at the bidding of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thereupon I drank a poisonous draught and quickly fell into a comatose state, but I did not awake in hell or in heaven, for I was allowed to recover, though only after much difficulty and suffering.
But whilst I was recovering, the inexorable voice repeated the previous message, upon which I seized an instrument; the only instrument at hand was a very small dagger, with which, having failed to cut my throat, I severed the temporal artery. Determined to make death swift and sure this time, I endeavored to cut another artery, and with the blood streaming from my head I fell to the ground insensible.
Again the spirits were foiled in their intention. The noise of my fall instantly brought assistance, and I recovered.
My recovery was, I might almost say, a miracle. I am convinced that God did in a very remarkable way interpose His healing hand that I might be
But, above all, I was delivered from the tormenting presence and persecution of these demons. Christ, who
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when on earth healed those who were demonized, and "healed all that were oppressed of the devil," mercifully healed me. He commanded them to leave me. I recognized the supreme need of a Redeemer. I believed His Word that "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me, and he that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out." I know of the Blood of Jesus which cleanses from all sin--of that ONE offering perfected on the Cross by which Christ has perfected His believing people. This blessed knowledge dawned upon my soul despite all the efforts of the powers of darkness to prevent me from obtaining it.
I beg every reader of this to fly from Spiritualism. Do not play with tools such as "Planchette," "thought-reading," etc. I feel that my life has been preserved that I might use this personal experience and knowledge of Satanic power that I have passed through, and witness against the snares of Spiritualism, declare its Satanic nature, and the potency of Christ as a Deliverer from it.
* * *
The above shows something of the ingenuity and versatility of the demons. To some, on the contrary, they report that there is no hell. To Swedenborg they gave visions of seven hells and seven heavens, which helped him frame a new religion to entrap honest souls. How evidently we all need to "hold fast the faithful Word." The Apostle forewarned us we should specially need this "armor" as the "evil day" draws on.
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THE PURPOSE OF MIRACLES.
`John 4:43-54`.--Feb. 12.
Golden Text:--"The same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me."--`John 5:36`.
IN a previous lesson we considered our Lord's first miracle at Cana in Galilee. A considerable length apparently intervened between that miracle and the one recorded in this lesson. Evidently our Lord in the interim had been at Jerusalem, because we read that he was well received by the Galileans, who had "seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast." It is evident, therefore, that the Lord performed miracles in Jerusalem at this time that are not mentioned in the direct order of their occurrence. Jerusalem was the representative city of the nation, and properly enough our Lord's principal miracles and teachings would thence reach the whole people better than from any other locality--especially as the whole nation was accustomed representatively to gather at Jerusalem at certain religious feasts every year. The Lord's principal ministry was evidently first conducted in Judea, and there aroused such a storm of opposition on the part of the rulers (`vs. 1-3`) that he was obliged to go to Galilee to continue his ministry. In this he illustrated his instruction to his disciples--"When they shall persecute you in one city, flee ye to another."
"A prophet hath no honor in his own country," and it may have been in recognition of this proverb that our Lord commenced his ministry at Jerusalem rather than in Galilee, which was his "own country,"--he and his disciples being recognized as "Galileans." Anyway the knowledge of his mighty works and teachings in Judea had by this time reached Galilee. He had honor amongst his own countrymen because of his fame in Judea, and hence, as we read, they received him more respectfully than they otherwise would have done. He probably now found a better opportunity for public ministry than he did on the occasion of his first visit to Cana.
Human nature is much the same in all ages and in all places: it esteems that which is distant as grander, more wonderful than that which is near. We have all seen the same fact illustrated under various circumstances. The poet, the philosopher, the teacher, the talented, are not first recognized at home. How little those who heard our Lord realized the privileges they enjoyed--that the very Son of God was amongst them, that the Teacher of Teachers was addressing them, that the special Ambassador was in their midst. To a limited extent the same thing has been true throughout the Gospel age, for the Lord's consecrated people have been all the way down his representatives, as he said, "He that receiveth you, receiveth me." The Apostle reminds us along these lines that "The world knoweth us not, even as it knew him not." The world recognizes not the Lord's humble saints as being the children of the Highest, "Heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together."--`Rom. 8:17`.
NONE PERFECT, NO, NOT ONE.
Some one has remarked, "When a hero or a saint is seen to eat and drink, live and dress, like an ordinary man, weak where some are strong, ignorant of some things that others know, it is almost impossible to look over these things and recognize the hero or saint." It is the ability to look over these things and to appreciate their relationship to the Lord that enables the Lord's consecrated people to recognize themselves and each other as members of the Royal Priesthood. It is the ability to see things thus from the divine standpoint, being "taught of God" to recognize each other by the heart, the will, the intention, but not according to the flesh with its weaknesses and blemishes. Such a correct view from the Lord's standpoint is necessary before we can "love as brethren," and have this love of the brethren as one of the evidences that we have passed from death unto life--that we have been begotten again as new creatures in Christ Jesus.
A nobleman whose name is not given, whose son lay at death's door, heard of our Lord's coming into Galilee, and recognized him as the one of whose mighty works in Judea he had previously heard. He at once went evidently a considerable journey to see the Lord and to request that he visit his home and heal his son, who was sick. Our Lord, by the way of testing his faith, said, "Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe." Apparently this was a refusal of the nobleman's request and had his faith been slight he probably would have accepted it thus. On the contrary so great was his confidence that our Lord was able to heal his son that he entreated that the Lord go in haste, lest the boy should be dead on their arrival. Having thus tested his faith and made it stronger, our Lord answered the request and healed the son, but in a manner calculated still further to strengthen his faith. He told him to return home and he would find his son cured. The fact that the nobleman at once set out for home is an evidence that he had great confidence in the Lord--a faith worthy of reward.
DIVERSE DEALINGS, ONE PROVIDENCE.
A lesson for us in this connection is that our Lord deals similarly with all of his people at times. (1) Often he does not answer our prayers immediately, but, delaying the answer, tests our faith, our earnestness, our confidence in him. He is pleased to have us hold on to him by faith, which strengthens our own hearts, by reiterations of his promises and reflections on his goodness and power. (2) When he does grant our requests the blessing frequently comes to us through a different channel or in a different manner from that we had in mind. As an illustration, a dear brother remarked to us recently that for an entire year the principal element of his prayer to the Lord had been for increase of heavenly wisdom, and that in no year had he seemed to be more unwise as respected earthly things--in no year had he been less prosperous from a worldly standpoint. Another remarked that the special feature of his prayer for a year had been for an increase of patience, and that in no year had he seemed to have so many trials and difficulties and testings of patience. The lesson is obvious--"whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth."
If the Lord would teach heavenly wisdom it must imply just such lessons as would win our hearts from temporalities and place them more and more upon the riches of his grace, the heavenly wisdom; if the Lord would teach patience it must be by showing us our own lack of this quality and permitting us to pass through trials and difficulties in which he is pleased to place us, and assist us in overcoming and gaining patience.
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Similarly with all the fruits and graces of the Spirit; they must be developed, and the school of experience is a severe one. Nevertheless we would not be without such experiences, such lessons, for unless we are taught of God, unless we learn the lessons due to be learned in the present time we would not be fitted and prepared to be the Lord's instruments in blessing and instructing the world during the Millennial age about to be ushered in. Let us learn these lessons of faith and patience and wisdom. Let us learn to look to the Lord and accept his way, and not expect him to gratify our whims and fancies. The true prayer of the consecrated is, "Thy will be done."
Another lesson for us is that while sickness, pain, sorrow and death are all parts of the great penalty for sin, yet the Lord is able to turn all these painful experiences into valuable lessons for his people--for those who trust him and seek to learn the lessons in his school. Our Lord did not heal all the sick nor awaken all the dead of the Jewish nation at his first advent. That great work belongs to the future, to the Millennial Kingdom. What he did do in these directions was merely to illustrate his power. They were miracles, intended more for the instruction they would give than for the blessings they
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contained. Had our Lord merely been intent upon comforting the bereaved, healing the sick and awakening those in the sleep of death, he might have accomplished a thousand-fold more than he did. He might at one word have healed all the sick and awakened all the sleeping ones, but he had no such purpose. That glorious work is future; and what our Lord did was merely a sign, an indication, a wonder to the people to attract their attention to him, to establish in their minds the thought that he was indeed the Son of God, and thus to prepare their hearts for the spiritual truths which he uttered in parables, and which after Pentecost were plainly stated through his mouthpieces, the apostles.
WHAT MIRACLES ARE.
There are many different views of miracles. Some call them violations of the laws of nature, and deny that nature's laws ever could be set aside. The numbers of those who deny that the Lord performed miracles or that any miracles ever were performed seem to increase daily. We are living in a very sceptical age. From the standpoint of faith, from the standpoint of the scriptural teaching, we must believe in miracles; but such belief does not imply that miracles set aside the laws of nature. In our view miracles are entirely co-operative with the laws of nature. More and more we should learn that all the forces of nature are under spiritual control. We may not understand this, but we can believe it nevertheless. We have illustrations of such mental or spiritual control all about us, as also in our own bodies for instance. The human mind, the will, is of itself invisible, yet it controls the nerves, muscles, sinews, bones, our entire human anatomy.
And if this be true, if the human will can move the human hand, the human foot, and if without the will these could not move, does that will interfere with the laws of nature either in moving or in staying the hand and the foot? Assuredly not: it is part and parcel of the laws of nature that the will should control and direct the physical system. Likewise we may see that the divine mind or will has control not only of the divine being but also of all things in the universe. How fully this is true, to what extent the divine will can control all the forces of nature, it is impossible for us to appreciate because of our weakness of intellect and our limited knowledge of the forces all about us. We may have a slight conception, however, of these matters to-day that could not have been had a few years ago. The telephone, for instance, is as nearly a miracle as could be found-- an invisible agency operating in a mysterious and unseen manner at great distances, and contrary to what we might have supposed to have been the laws of nature. We are merely asserting that there are many laws and operations of nature which are not understood, all of which are subject to the divine power.
"THEN WE SHALL KNOW IF WE FOLLOW ON TO KNOW THE
Not until we shall experience our "change" and know as we are known shall we be able to fathom all the mysteries connected with the miracles of Jesus and the miracles which we see in ourselves and all about us to-day. Meantime, however, let us be on our guard against the devices of the Adversary, by which he would ensnare those who are merely looking for earthly blessings, relief from earthly troubles. We are living in a time when, apparently in order to hold his dominion, the great Adversary is going into the healing business in a wholesale manner. Through spirit mediums, hypnotists, Mormon elders, Christian Scientists and others, Satan is making a bid for power in the world. He is seeking to use such power as he possesses in a manner that will allure and ensnare those who are selfishly seeking merely for earthly blessings, ignoring the great spiritual lessons of the Lord's Word. The Lord's consecrated people should be on their guard against the Adversary's methods and the snares of false doctrines into which he would lead them by this means.
Our Lord's remark, "Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe," implies that the highest order of faith would be that which would not require such ocular demonstrations of divine power--that could trust the Lord without the proofs of miracles. So we find it to-day and so we believe it has always been. A similar lesson is found in our Lord's words to Thomas, who, after having seen the print of the nails, believed in the resurrection of Jesus. Our Lord there observed, "Because thou hast seen thou hast believed; blessed are they who not having seen yet have believed." Miracles were necessary for the introduction of the Gospel message to identify our Lord with the prophecies and to prepare the nucleus of the Church for the Spirit baptism; but in later years, throughout the Gospel age, the Lord has given his people the opportunity of still greater blessing by withholding the miracles and allowing us to believe in him and to accept him without the attestation of wonders.
One of the greatest wonders, one of the greatest miracles, one that is more convincing to us than any other could be, is the change which the divine message has wrought in our own hearts--transforming us through the power of the holy Spirit. Not only do we see this transforming power at work in others, changing them from glory to glory and preparing them for the final glorious change of the First Resurrection, but additionally we experience it in our own hearts and appreciate the fact that the things that we once hated now we love, and the things we once loved now we hate. The poet gave the right thought here when he exclaimed, "I am a miracle of grace."
Our Golden Text bears out this thought, that the
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miracles which our Lord did were only intended to be sufficient to establish his identity, and were not with the view of establishing a precedent for the healing of the world nor of the Church. The Lord's great healing time is designated in the Scriptures, "times of restitution." (`Acts 3:21`.) When those times shall come, when the Millennial Kingdom shall be established, the healing of the nations will be the great work; and it will not merely be a physical but also a mental and moral healing, which will gradually bring all in proper condition back to all that was lost in Eden, with increased knowledge through experience.
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THE SATISFYING WATER OF LIFE.
`John 4:5-14`--Feb. 5.
Golden Text:--"Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely."--`Rev. 22:17`.
THE SAMARITANS were descendants of those heathen peoples planted in Palestine by the Babylonian government when the Israelites were deported to the countries of Babylon. Gradually these mixed people, "Samaritans," acquired a love for the land in which they were dwelling, and its ancient history became theirs. They realized that the Jews had been God's favored people, but thought of them as rejected from divine favor and of themselves as having become their successors, not only in the possession of that portion of the Israelites' territory called Samaria, but also to some degree their successors in the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Moses. They accepted the five books of Moses, the pentateuch, but rejected the remainder of the Old Testament Scriptures, which the Jews recognized.
There was even a greater religious antipathy existing between Samaria and the Jews than between Jews and other heathen peoples, because the Samaritan faith came closer to the Jewish faith and was, therefore, in some respects more actively antagonistic to it than were some of the heathen faiths which permitted of no competition. For these reasons there were no dealings between Jews and Samaritans--that is, they might trade one with the other but had no social fellowship. The Jews regarded the Samaritans as impostors, not the children of Jacob at all. True, a few "scalawag" Jews had mingled with the Samaritans, but in so doing they had alienated themselves from their brethren and the religious faith of the nation. The Samaritans, coveting the promises and blessings made to the seed of Abraham, strove to convince themselves that they were now the heirs of those promises, and called Jacob their father, thus making themselves the children of Abraham and heirs of the Oath-Bound Covenant.
JESUS' HUMILITY AND TACT.
Our Lord and his apostles, journeying from Judea to Galilee, passed through the territory inhabited by the Samaritans. They had probably been on their journey since early morning, and at noon time Jesus rested at Jacob's well while the disciples went to a near-by village to purchase food. Water wells in Palestine, as in many parts of the world, are comparatively scarce. Jacob's well, dug fourteen centuries before our Lord's time, was a remarkably good one, deep, abundantly supplied with water and well curbed at the top, with a small mouth about fourteen inches in diameter. It seems to have been considered almost a miracle in its day, and even at the present time it is definitely located, although much filled up and to some degree dilapidated.
A Samaritan woman came to the well for water while Jesus was resting there, and the account of our Lord's interview with her constitutes one of the most striking presentations of divine truth found in the Gospels. It is remarkable that on so many occasions our Lord said remarkable things to not very remarkable people under not very remarkable circumstances. There
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is encouragement in this for all of his followers: indeed we find that the Lord's principal communications all through this Gospel age have been with the humble-- "not many wise, not many great, not many learned hath God chosen, but the poor of this world, rich in faith, to be heirs of the Kingdom." As then, by the grace of God, we have heard the voice divine speaking peace through Jesus Christ, let us rejoice, yet let us feel humble too, remembering that he is taking of the ignoble things of the world with a view to making of these things the noble, that will reflect his glory and show forth his praise through all eternity as marks of his grace.
Our Lord's request of the woman, that she would allow him to have a drink of the water she had drawn, was a most tactful method of approach to her heart. In so doing he put himself in a measure under obligation to her. Thus in one sentence he broke the icy barrier which had always existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews claimed superiority, and while the Samaritans did not acknowledge this, they nevertheless felt it to some degree, just as colored people are apt to feel toward the whites. The woman was now ready to talk, but, standing on her dignity, she hasted not to give the drink, but parleyed to ask why a Jew of seemingly high character should act so differently from the custom--should ask water of a Samaritan woman, be willing thus to place himself under obligation to one of those usually treated as inferiors.
Jesus, while probably thirsty, was more anxious to give the word of Truth than to receive the natural water, and instead of allowing himself to be drawn off by the woman's question into a discussion of the rights and wrongs of the Samaritans, he turned the conversation by saying, "If thou hadst known the gift of God and who it is that saith unto thee, 'Give me to drink,' thou wouldst have asked of him and he would give thee living water." The force of this expression is only partially seen until we learn that the words our Lord used, "The gift of God," were the very words customarily used by the water-carriers, who, with water-skins filled with water from such wells, went about the cities crying out in their own language, "The gift of God!" "The gift of God!" Water was thus termed the gift of God, and the woman presumed our Lord's meaning to be, If you had known about the water, the gift of God, etc.
Of course the woman did not discern any deeper meaning--how could she? She at once retorted that he had no leather bucket, with camel's-hair rope, to let down for water, and therefore he could not give her to drink--"Whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself and his children and
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his cattle?" Is there any other water as good as this? Have the Jews got as good a well in all their country?
The value of water is much more appreciated in oriental countries than with us. It means the cooling and refreshment of the blood, the cleansing of the skin, the comfort of life in every way. The poet has expressed its value in the words:--
"Traverse the desert, and then you can tell
What treasures exist in the cold, deep well.
And then you may learn what water is worth.
The gnawing of hunger's worm is past,
While fiery thirst lives on to the last.
The hot blood stands in each gloomy eye.
And 'Water, O God', is the only cry."
"Let heaven this one rich gift withhold,
How soon we find it better than gold."
Our Lord's answer to the woman was, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever shall drink of the water I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." How wonderful this statement must have appeared to the woman! How wonderful it appears to us even after we have learned its real depth and meaning. How we are continually learning more and more about this water of life--appreciating it more and more each day we live, and finding still greater refreshment in it as we continue to partake of it.
As our physical systems call for water continually and cannot do without it, so we have longings and ambitions and thirsts of a higher intellectual order. These the whole world is endeavoring to satisfy, but the thirst for wealth, for influence, for power, is insatiable. What a little farmer or merchant finds of restlessness and lack of satisfaction, the greater farmer and merchant and manufacturer and millionaire and prince and king and emperor find in their larger spheres. We remember the story of how Alexander the Great wept because there were no more worlds that he might conquer. We remember that Solomon the wise, after having tasted of all the streams of pleasure and novelty which the world could supply to the richest and wisest and most influential man of the time, cried out, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" What the whole world is seeking for and failing to get, our Lord Jesus gives to his people--water of life, satisfaction. Those who receive his blessing have in them wells of water springing up in their hearts "A fountain ever springing." Their longing thirsts are satisfied as nothing else can satisfy them; they have more than ambition could ask. The divine bounties granted to them are exceedingly and abundantly more than they could have asked or thought.
"JESUS HATH SATISFIED! JESUS IS MINE!"
The whole world is seeking for happiness. The few who have truly found Jesus, and who have made a full consecration of their hearts to him, and to whom he has given the water of life--these few have found the happiness which the world is seeking in other directions in vain. They have found a heart satisfaction which is able even to offset trials, sorrows, difficulties and disappointments from other sources, and to glory in this realization, that their experiences are working to their advantage, proving them, preparing them for still greater riches of glory by and by. As the Apostle declares, this new life, this new relationship with Christ under which he furnishes the water of life, has the promise not only of the life which now is, but also of that which is to come.
Quite a good many who bear the name of Christ have a hope toward God as respects the future, but very little of the joys of his salvation in the present time. Such are not living up to their privileges--they have not properly grown up into Christ, their living Head. They need to increase their faith by adding to it fortitude, knowledge, patience, godliness, love of the brethren and love in general. As they thus comply with the terms of the school of Christ they will more and more be able to say not only that the Lord has lifted their feet from the horrible pit of sin and death and placed them upon the rock Christ Jesus, but also to add, "He hath put a new song in my mouth, even the loving kindness of our God."
THE GOLDEN TEXT.
Those who prepared the lesson evidently supposed that they were providing a Golden Text which would be a very key to the lesson, but in this they erred after a very common manner. The Golden Text is part of a picture in Revelation which represents not the conditions of the present time but those of the future--those of the Millennial age. It pictures the Church, the Bride of Christ, complete and glorified, as the New Jerusalem filled with the glory of God; it pictures the water of life proceeding from this glorified New Jerusalem, the Church in Kingdom glory--flowing as a river with the trees of life on either side of it bearing fruits, whose leaves are for the healing of the heathen. It pictures the Spirit and the Bride in the future, saying, "Come"--inviting whosoever will to come and take of the water of life freely.
That picture is future, as is evident not only from the connections of the narrative but because there is at present no Bride, but merely an espoused virgin. (`2 Cor. 11:2`.) The "very elect" of this Gospel age, who have striven to "make their calling and election sure," await the marriage feast at the close of this age, that they may enter then into the joys of their Lord as his Bride. This scene, then, in which the Bride in conjunction with the holy Spirit will invite to the water of life, is one which pictures the effulgent blessings of the Millennial Kingdom and its blessed opportunities, which shall be extended without restriction to every creature.
There is no such river of the water of life at the present time, and no one is commissioned to use the words of the Golden Text now. Now, as the Lord himself declared, "No man can come unto me except the Father which sent me draw him." The present, therefore, is the time for the special drawing of a special class to the Savior. It includes only those who have the ear to hear and the eye of faith to appreciate the grace and blessings which are now being offered. Blessed are our eyes for they see and our ears for they hear! We rejoice, however, that by and by all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped, and all shall then have the opportunity for drinking of the water of life to their satisfaction continually.
We who are now favored need not continually to drink at any well or river; but, on the contrary, as explained by our Lord in this lesson, they each have in them a well of water springing up unto eternal life--a "fountain ever springing." O, how rich is our condition! How wonderful are the Lord's bounties granted to those who are of humble and contrite heart and who possess the hearing of faith! Let us indeed abide in him, in his love, and in possession of the bounties he has provided for our refreshment.