VOL. XVII. MARCH 1, 1896. No. 5.
Special Items..................................... 38
Views from the Tower.............................. 39
The Memorial of Our Lord's Death.................. 42
Gold Tried in the Fire............................ 43
Bible Study: Lord, Teach Us to Pray............... 45
Bible Study: "That Servant"....................... 47
Bible Study: Review............................... 47
Encouraging Letters............................... 48
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READ THIS AND ACT AT ONCE!
THE Postoffice Department has for years given us more or less trouble and expense by narrow interpretations of the liberal laws made by Congress, to foster the cheap circulation of good literature among the people. Up to the present time we have succeeded in getting our rights; but now we are menaced with an order which prevents us from mailing back issues of the Old Theology Tracts at the cheap or "pound" rates, while novels and trash in general are unhampered.
The present liberal law was evidently designed by Congress to facilitate and increase the circulation of legitimate literature of all kinds. The effort of the P.O. officials evidently is to restrict and hinder it in every possible manner. The fact is, that the P.O. Department has not quite paid expenses lately, because of the enormous charges paid to the railroads; and rather than reduce the R.R. rates pro rata to the increase of mail matter, it is the dear public that is inconvenienced and made to pay extra, by ruling that if it wants many extra copies for friends it must pay extra rates, because these are henceforth in violation of the spirit and intent of the law, to be ruled against as "reprints."
We learn that a bill is soon to come before Congress relating to "Second Class Mail Matter;" and we request that EVERY READER OF ZION'S WATCH TOWER, and also every friend of the cause it represents, residing within these United States, do something suggested below for its relief, immediately, at a cost of four cents and a little time and ink. Our request is that you (subscribers), with as many friends of the cause as will join, each send four postal cards: one addressed to the Congressman representing your district, another each to the two Senators from your State, and the fourth to Hon. Wm. L. Wilson, Post Master General. Address them all to Washington, D.C.
Please write in substance the following on each of the above mentioned cards, signing your name. You will need to get large Postal Cards and to write a small hand in order to get this on. Otherwise write letters.
Honorable Sir:--As my representative, I ask your influence on the subject of "Second Class Mail Matter," so that Religious Matter (including tracts, etc.) be given every advantage of the Act of Congress of July 16, 1894; and that every hindrance to the printing (and mailing at pound rates) of back numbers be removed while said publication continues to issue at least four numbers per year.
Where there are a number of friends at one place it would do equally well to start four papers with the above letter and get all the friends to sign each of them.
Join with us also in prayer to God, daily, for at least one week from the time you receive this TOWER, that he will preserve to us this "door" of opportunity for service, until all of his antitypical Israel shall have been sealed with the Present Truth, intellectually,--"in their foreheads." --`Rev. 7:3`.
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
OUR Lord declared that his mission, and that of his gospel, was "to preach the gospel to the meek, to bind up the broken hearted." And under his commission the gospel is no longer to be confined to Israel, the natural seed of Abraham, but may now be preached "to every creature," that whosoever "hath an ear to hear" may hear. He clearly announced, however, that only a limited class was intended to be drawn to him, and received by him as disciples in this age, saying:--
"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him....Every man therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto
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me." "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." --`John 6:37,44,45`.
If all Christian people understood and remembered these inspired words of their Master, many of their missionary efforts would differ greatly from the present methods. If they understood these Scriptures they would be in better condition to realize that this Gospel age is not the only age of salvation and drawing, but that by and by, in the Millennial age, Christ will draw all men unto himself (`John 12:32`), after the same manner that the Father now draws a few, "a little flock," of a special class, and presents them to Christ. This would help them over their great delusion that the "undrawn" and "uncalled" (`Acts 2:39`) of the present time, the vast majority of the human family, are not reprobated to an eternity of torture, but will be given a fair and gracious trial for life in a coming "day of judgment" when the Father-drawn "little flock" shall, with Christ, be their gracious and merciful judges as well as their kings and priests.--`1 Cor. 6:2`; `Rev. 1:6`.
But not knowing the Scriptures and the plan of God sufficiently, they have a zeal that is not according to knowledge, and are attempting to bring to Christ now those whom the Father has not drawn. Much better would it be that much of the present mission work should wait a few years longer, until the body of Christ, the Church, shall be "lifted up" and associated with the head in the glory and power of the Millennial Kingdom, and then share in the drawing which shall exert an influence for good upon "all men." (But this will not be an irresistible influence, even as the present drawing of the Father is not irresistible.)
A Brother in the truth, residing in Cape Colony, South Africa, sends us a clipping from the Natal Mercury, which tells of a Missionary Meeting held in the Presbyterian church there, at which the following statement was made: "There are still eight hundred and fifty millions of people unevangelized, over two hundred millions being in Africa. The heathen have increased during the last one hundred years over two hundred millions, and the Christians to the extent of three millions. The heathen rate of increase was thus seventy times greater than the Christian. More zeal for foreign missions is now shown than at any past period, but there is need for these increasing a thousand fold."
From early life our sympathies for the heathen and for those who give their lives to serve them have been very strong; and they will always continue so. Yet, even as a child, we wondered why God seemed so indifferent to the welfare of the masses of the human family. Now, thank God, the light of divine truth shining forth shows us that all of the race of Adam were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, and that in God's due time Christ, as the "true Light," shall enlighten every man that has come into the world. (`John 1:9`.) We see now that God's people have
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not studied his Word with sufficient care, and hence the distress and confusion of many zealous souls today as they note the failure of their hopes and efforts. They first overlooked the fact that the Gospel is only "unto as many as the Lord your God shall call;" and that no man can come to Christ except the Father draw him; and that the Father is not drawing all men, but is leaving the vast majority to be drawn similarly, and by other means, by Christ and his Church, in the next age. Thus, by getting false ideas of their own, to the effect that God had commissioned them to do all the drawing and converting in the present age, many are led to doubt and trouble of soul. And finding that they cannot accomplish what they had hoped, some lower their standard of righteousness and acceptableness with God, and conclude that the future companions of the "little flock" in heaven will be millions and billions of the most degraded savages; saved, not by faith, but by their ignorance.
Others charge the failure upon God's plan or upon his Church for not doing the impossible. Note the unscripturalness and unreasonableness of the following verses of a hymn sung at a Missionary Meeting of the Christian Alliance, held a few weeks ago in Montreal, Canada, sent us by a Brother in the truth who was present, but who could not join in the song.
"A hundred thousand souls a day
Are passing one by one away,
In Christless guilt and gloom;
Without one ray of hope or light,
With future dark as endless night,
They're passing to their doom."
"They're passing, passing fast away,
A hundred thousand souls a day,
In Christless guilt and gloom.
O Church of Christ, what wilt thou say,
When in the awful judgment day
They charge thee with their doom?"
It is blasphemous to charge that God has made the everlasting bliss or pain of billions of his creatures dependent upon impotent fellow creatures. As Peter said to the Jews who crucified Jesus, so we can think of many of those who sang, "I wot that in ignorance ye did it."
We do feel a very warm love for those who are specially spending themselves in any department of the Lord's service, at a cost of discomfort and self-denial whether at home or abroad, as missionaries or colporteurs, or otherwise. If the good accomplished is small so far as the heathen are concerned, it has undoubtedly been large so far as some of the missionaries themselves, and some of those who paid their expenses, are concerned.
Now, however, the Lord points us to the fact that "harvesting" is the special work in order, and we advise all who have the Lord's spirit and his truth to rejoice through their tears over their failure to convert the world, and to look up and see the rainbow which God hath set for us, promising that after the "elect" church has been called, drawn, chastened, taught and polished, she, with her Lord and Redeemer shall be the great light--the Sun of Righteousness which shall "draw," "bless" and "heal" all for whom there could be any hope. If our past efforts did not save the world from eternal torment, let us thank God that there was no such danger as we had apprehended, and let us the more appreciate our Creator and his perfect rule of love and justice. If we did not convert the world, let us thank God that we did "witness," as he declared we should do, and that in so doing we were blest. And let us quickly wipe our tears and rejoice in the present truth; let us enter the harvest work of perfecting holiness in ourselves and others of the saints, and preparing for the marriage of the Lamb.--`Rev. 19:7`.
* * *
Recently the French Representative at the Papal court was recalled. This means the severance of a long standing friendship. Now we get the following in the same direction.
"A cable to the New York World of Jan. 26 states that Premier Bourgeois of France has announced the introduction of a bill 'to separate church and state,' and that he will make vigorous war on Roman Catholic monasteries, convents and other religious houses. Money left to members of religious societies by bequest, for the use of such societies, shall be confiscated to the use of the natural heirs. 'It is hoped,' says the premier, 'to cripple the church as a political machine, and render innocuous the Pope's influence in France.' Religious houses holding millions in money will be required to make returns of their wealth to the government, preparatory to the imposition of a tax on such property."
The Roman Catholic clergy have been giving support to representatives of monarchy, and the Pope now claims that this has been in violation of his recommendations. At all events a desperate struggle between the French party in power and the Roman church is begun, and both will use every measure to win. Knowing the resources and intrigues of priestcraft, we fear for the safety of the Republic, unless it modifies its plans. The French are mostly Catholics, and have been used for centuries to having the churches, clergy, etc., supported by government money; and now, under the new laws, if executed, they will be obliged to pay their own priests, or have none; and their superstitions respecting "holy water," "holy candles," "masses," etc., etc., are so deeply grounded that they are still considered necessities to them, which probably will not be relinquished readily,--especially while the priests are among them to threaten them with hell and purgatory.
* * *
It is remarkable that while Catholic countries are striving to get rid of Catholic domination, Protestant countries are welcoming the Church of Rome. For instance, Norway, that has been ultra-Protestant, to the degree that fifty years ago Romish Priests could not enter the country under pain of death, is now undergoing a reaction, and recently, in Christiansand, when a large church edifice and
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hospital were dedicated, thousands of Protestants, including the officials of the province, were present. The same is true in Scotland. In Glasgow, where a Roman Catholic church edifice was unknown a century ago, there are now about twenty of them.
The fact is that where Papacy predominates and has the control it is terribly corrupt, so as to become a stench even to the worldly masses; but where she is in the minority she is under such crafty management that to the worldly she appears "as good as any," and indeed is preferred
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sometimes because of her greater power over her more superstitious votaries.
* * *
Rev. C. H. Sprecher, in a recent sermon, said:--
"With characteristic openness to western ideas, the Japanese received our religion with our civilization. But these sprightly people introduced innovations. They rebelled against our denominationalism. Christian missionaries have had to drop very generally denominational names. Most of the churches call themselves United churches or Associated. They would not even take the name of Congregational churches.
"They also look with little favor upon the abstruse doctrines of systematic theology. They talk of the Christianity of Christ, and of the religion of Jesus, pure and simple, as the faith which they want and which is suited to their nation."
* * *
Thos. Edison, the inventor and electrician, of Phonograph and Telephone fame, has been experimenting with the new light "X Rays" and has succeeded in taking a photograph through oak eight inches thick. But, as suggested in our last issue, Theosophists and others are claiming the new discovery as a part of their deception outfit. The Scriptures forewarn us that Satan will bring to bear strong delusions in this our day. Thank God, they shall not deceive "the very elect." Obedience, faithfulness to the end, is the condition upon which we may make our calling and election sure. In other words, if we are faithful to the Word and Spirit of the Lord he will carry us through.
* * *
A new lymph treatment for all germ diseases is announced in New York. The antitoxine is of mineral and carbolic acid compound, called Aseptolin. Great things are hoped for it as an arrester of diseases. No doubt recent discoveries are but preparations for the Millennial blessing, so that when, twenty years from now, the times of restitution shall be fully ushered in, and none except wilful sinners will die, it will not appear so strange to mankind, and still leave room for faith respecting the real source of all blessings.
* * *
Baron Hirsch, a Jew, four years ago undertook the colonizing of Russian Jews in Argentine Republic, S.A., setting apart ten million dollars for the purpose. A recent official report shows that two million dollars have been spent, and that only twelve hundred and twenty-two families have been located in Argentine; and for the present no new settlers are being forwarded from Russia. On the other hand, without this special aid about thirty thousand Russian Jews came to the United States during last year alone.
In our issue of December, 1891, we gave a copy of a letter which we sent to Baron Hirsch on the subject of Jewish colonization, recommending a plan for the autonomy of Palestine and the turning of immigration thither. Some such plan, we believe, will soon be adopted, and the land of Palestine be thrown open, not merely to Russian Jews, but also to Austrian, Hungarian, German and French Jews; all of whom will surely be persecuted in the near future to dislodge them and cause them to return to Palestine, as foretold in the Scriptures.
* * *
At the State Convention of the New Jersey Young Men's Christian Association, in session at Jersey City, Feb. 14, its President, Elijah S. Cowles, suggested the introduction of pool and billiard tables to the Y.M.C.A. attractions for young men. A few members from the southern part of the State protested, and one of them said that he had formerly been a saloon-keeper, and gave it as his opinion that it was useless to hope to lead young men to heavenly things by the aid of the billiard table. To clinch the argument in favor of billiards the South Jersey Delegates were escorted to the People's Palace, an auxiliary to the Tabernacle Church, and there were shown billiard and pool tables, with boys playing about them.
Comment on this is almost unnecessary. "Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God," is written all over this and the various "Church entertainments," minstrels, etc. If the contention were proved true, that men and boys are kept out of saloons by this means, still there is no excuse for associating with these things the name of Christ's Church, nor of calling such things young men's Christian associations and amusements.
Let us ever remember that morality is not synonymous with Christianity. The Christian is one who has passed through the strait gate and into the narrow way of self-denial --one who, having taken up his cross to follow his Lord, has left all for this blessed service. Such have other uses for their consecrated time and talents than killing them in playing even innocent games. As the poet says,
"We are living, we are dwelling,
In a grand and awful time:
In an age on ages telling,
To be living is sublime."
The steward of God's favors who hides his talent in the earth, or in a billiard parlor, or in business, or in pride and show, will be termed a "wicked and slothful servant," and only those who have used, and thus increased their talents, will hear the longed-for words,--"Well done, good, faithful servant, enter into the joys of thy Lord."-- `Matt. 25:23-30`.
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THE MEMORIAL OF OUR LORD'S DEATH.
FEW and simple are the memorials of the true Church in contrast with those of heathendom and formalistic nominal Christendom. Instead of the numerous fast and feast days and weeks, we have only three memorials:
(1) Baptism, the symbol of the death and burial of the already justified human will into the will of God in Christ.
(2) The Memorial Supper, emblemizing the literal breaking of our Lord's body and shedding of his blood (his death as "the man Christ Jesus" at Calvary),--and reviving our covenant to "be dead with him" that we may also live with him," to "suffer with him" that we may also be glorified together."
(3) The memorial of our Lord's resurrection on the First-day of the week, now commonly called Sunday.
Our Lord instituted all three beautiful, yet simple, memorials. His baptism was different from the baptism of John, preached to Jews only, a "baptism unto repentance;" for he had no sins to repent of. His was the first baptism of the new order, symbolizing the death of the will of a justified human being, already acceptable to the Father, and full submission to God's will, a full surrender, complete consecration.* It took the place of "John's baptism." --`Acts 19:3-5`.
Our Lord instituted the observance of the first day of the week, in the same manner that he instituted the Memorial Supper and Baptism; namely, not by command, but by example. He met with the disciples on the first day of the week, immediately after his resurrection; with Mary near the Sepulchre, with Simon Peter, with the two who went to Emmaus, and with the ten disciples in the upper room. (`John 20:1,14,19`; `Luke 24:13-31,34,36`.) Then he waited another week, and again appeared to them on the eighth day, probably meaning the day after the seventh, the first day of the week. (`John 20:26`.) The disciples seem to have expected something of the kind and had come together, and thereafter remembering the opening of their eyes of understanding to know him, that it was in connection with the "breaking of bread," they afterward not only met regularly on the first day, but regularly had a simple meal together, called "breaking of bread." This some in our day have mistaken for a commemoration of the Last Supper. The two, however, were totally different;-- the one commemorating the death, and the other celebrating with joy the resurrection. The first day of the week was not only honored as the memorial of our Lord's resurrection and manifestation and communion, but was again marked by divine favor at Pentecost, and became the memorial of the outpouring of the holy Spirit.--`Acts 2:1`; `20:7`; `1 Cor. 16:2`.
Our Lord instituted the Memorial Supper after, and to take the place of, the Jewish Passover supper. The killing of the Passover lamb was to be done on the fourteenth day of the first month of each Jewish year, in commemoration of the deliverance of Israel's firstborn from the last plague of Egypt, and subsequently the deliverance of the entire nation from slavery. Our Lord was himself the antitype of the Lamb. His Church is the antitype of the spared firstborn of Israel; and the near approaching "restitution," in which all who love God will be delivered from the slavery of Sin and Death under Satan, will be the antitype of the deliverance of the nation.
The Memorial Supper, with its unleavened bread and wine, representing the flesh and blood of the Lamb of God, whose sacrifice takes away the sin of the world, making reconciliation for iniquity, was intended to keep fresh before the memory of the Church of the firstborn the remembrance of her purchase price, and to pledge her to fellowship in the sufferings of Christ. (`1 Cor. 10:16,17`; `11:26`.) It was instituted, therefore, in the same night in which our Lord was betrayed, in the same day in which he was crucified (the Hebrew day counting from six p.m. until six p.m.).
It was not the intention of our Lord to commemorate the feast of Passover, which began on the 15th of Nisan and lasted for an entire week, but merely to give us a
*See TOWER for June 15, '93,--"Baptism and Its Import."
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memorial of his death on the 14th of Nisan. So far from being a feast of rejoicing, it was an occasion of sorrow and perplexity to the early Church. Jesus himself was "exceeding sorrowful."
Seeing that this Memorial celebrates the antitype of the killing of the Passover lamb, we can see that it is properly celebrated on its anniversary,--not monthly, quarterly, weekly nor daily, but yearly,--and properly at the same time of the year at which our Lord died, and at which he instituted the memorial. This was the custom of the early Church, which reckoned its date according to the Jewish method of reckoning time. The first deviation from this was by the churches represented by the Bishop of Rome, which substituted, appointed and observed the nearest Friday, when the 14th of Nisan fell on some other day, as it most frequently did. This was the origin of "Good Friday," and the third day following was known as Passover Sunday, and later as "Easter Sunday." Later, by the decree of the Council of Nice (A.D. 325), and still later under the revision of the calendar by Pope Gregory XIII., the so-called Catholic churches have been brought into practical agreement, and annually fix dates for "Good Friday" and "Easter Sunday."
For the past twenty years we who are seeking the "old paths" (`Jer. 6:16`) have celebrated the Memorial Supper upon its anniversary, as reckoned according to the Hebrew usage, which was recognized by our Lord and the Apostles. Theirs is an easy and simple method. They begin their year (Nisan being their first month) with the new
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moon at the Spring Equinox and on the night of the 14th, at six p.m., commences the 15th, which is the first day of their Passover feast.--`Exod. 12:2`.
This year the Equinoxial moon, or month Nisan, begins March 15th; hence its 15th day or the beginning of the Hebrew Passover week will be on the 29th. The 14th of Nisan, on which they killed the Paschal lamb, the anniversary of the death of our Lord, "the Lamb of God," will be March 28th, beginning, according to Hebrew reckoning, on the 27th at sundown. Since our Lord instituted the Memorial on the evening preceeding, we celebrate it correspondingly.
Following this honored custom, therefore, the Church at Allegheny will meet on the evening of March 27th, at 8.00 o'clock, to commemorate the greatest transaction known to mankind. As heretofore our services will be very simple, consisting of praise, prayer, a review of the significance of the emblems and the realities celebrated, partaking of the emblems, "Passover-bread" (i.e., unleavened bread), and "fruit of the vine." (For "fruit of the vine" we prefer unfermented grape juice or raisin juice rather than wine, because if the liquor habit has a hold upon any one we would avoid the temptation to such-- adding a spoonful of wine for the sake of those who consider that nothing but wine would fill the prescription, "fruit of the vine." As for the unleavened bread, what is needed can readily be purchased from almost any Hebrew family; if not, "soda crackers" or "water crackers" are an unleavened bread, and will serve every purpose.)
The special feature of the occasion is the heart communion with the Lord, facilitated by the appreciation of the significance of the emblems revealed in the Word. They are to be appreciated, not only as representing our Redeemer's sacrifice, but also as representing our privilege of fellowship with him in suffering for righteousness' sake, as members of his body, the Church,--our individual share in it. The cup of blessing for which we bless God,--is it not a participation of the blood of Christ? The loaf which we break,--is it not a participation of the body of Christ?" (`1 Cor. 10:16,17`.) Concluding with an appropriate hymn of praise we seek to avoid conversation, and to perpetuate the "communion" by thoughts respecting the great event just commemorated, and to follow our Lord reflectively to Gethsemane, and the day following to Calvary, thinking meanwhile of how little we are able to do to show our love for him, and resolving to be more jealously careful in the use of every hour and every mite of influence in his service.
Any friends who trust in the "precious blood" will be cordially welcome to meet with us. We advise, however, that brethren and sisters, so far as possible, should not desert little groups at home to enjoy the privileges of meeting with a larger company. Where two or three meet in the Lord's name he blesses them. Let each one be thoroughly willing to sacrifice his own preferences in the interest of the fellow-members of the body of Christ. This is being broken for others, as set forth in the preceding quotation, and the results are always blessed.
Remember all the dear flock of the Lord, not forgetting us, here, at Allegheny, in your prayers, and we will remember you all.
Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation.
Let each one be on guard against the wiles of the devil. Remember that we near the anniversary not only of our Lord's sufferings, but also of Judas' treachery and false kiss, and question "Is it I?" Let each one examine his heart and see that it is in such an attitude of love and devotion to the Lord, and to every member of "his body," that he can have communion with the Lord and all who are truly his. In any other attitude there is danger that Satan "enter in." (`Luke 22:3`.) "The last state of that man is worse than the first."--`Matt. 12:45`; `Luke 11:26`.
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GOLD TRIED IN THE FIRE.
"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich."--`Rev. 3:18`.
IN OUR study of the typical tabernacle, which was a shadow of good things to come, we have seen that everything inside the tabernacle was made of gold. The boards of which the tabernacle was constructed were overlaid with gold. The furniture also was of gold. There stood the golden candlestick, the golden table, the golden altar of incense, the golden ark of the testimony and the golden cherubim. Gold was also prominent in the typically glorious robes of the high priest. The fringe upon the upper robe was of golden bells and pomegranates; the texture of the ephod was interwoven with golden threads, and it
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was fastened on the shoulders with golden clasps; and upon his head was the golden crown, upon which was inscribed, "Holiness to the Lord."
All this was in striking contrast with the metals used elsewhere about the structure, its typical significance here being that all within "the Holy," which represented the present condition of truly consecrated believers, and within the "Most Holy," which represented the glorious condition of the Church triumphant, pertains to the divine nature, gold being a symbol of divinity. All who are privileged to enter the antitypical Holy and Most Holy are also to be, as Peter tells us, "partakers of the divine nature." (`2 Pet. 1:4`.) They are members of the body of the great Highpriest whose divine nature was symbolized in the gold of the typical highpriest's typically glorious garments.
It is in harmony with this same symbolic meaning of gold, that the Revelator says of the heavenly city, the New
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Jerusalem, "And the city was pure gold [a divine institution], ...and the street of the city was pure gold [all its highways are of divine appointment]." (`Rev. 21:18,21`.) And the Psalmist, referring to the privileged class who, when glorified, shall constitute that heavenly city, government or kingdom of God,--the members of the body or bride of Christ, partakers of the divine nature,--says, "Upon thy right hand did stand the queen, in gold of Ophir. ...Her clothing is of wrought gold."--`Psa. 45:9,13`.
It is to the same apt symbolism that our Lord also refers in addressing his people in our text,--"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire." These words, be it remembered, are not addressed to the world, but to the Lord's people, justified and consecrated. (`Rev. 1:1`; `3:14`.) This call is an exhortation to them to faithfully fulfil their covenant, to submit themselves fully and unreservedly to the discipline of the Lord, which is necessary for their perfecting in holiness, and for making them ready to reign with him as his bride and joint-heir in the glory of the divine Kingdom.
Not until we lay hold by faith upon the exceeding great and precious promises--of joint-heirship with Christ in his coming Kingdom and glory--which promises lead us to fulfil their conditions of consecration and self-sacrifice even unto death, is there any of the "gold" of the "divine nature" in us. This treasure can be purchased only at the cost of entire consecration or sacrifice of all that we have, to Christ. Previous to our justification by faith in Christ we had nothing to sacrifice, all that we had being under condemnation; but, being justified, we may present our bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, and our reasonable service. Thus the treasure of the new, divine nature, the gold, is given us. Thus we "buy" the gold.
But we have this treasure in the earthen vessels, and there is consequently much of alloy mixed with it. Hence the necessity that the gold be cast into the crucible for refining. And if we would purchase the "gold tried in the fire," it must be at the cost of faithful and constant submission to the discipline of the Lord in the fiery trials which are necessary to consume our dross and refine our gold. Wherefore Peter says, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." (`1 Pet. 4:12`.) And Paul reminds us of the counsel of wisdom (`Prov. 3:11,12`; `Heb. 12:5-8`),--"My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth."
Peter also reminds us that the trial of our faith is much more precious than that of gold that perisheth, and that the end sought through such trial is that we may be "found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (`1 Pet. 1:7`.) It would be idle for any of the Lord's consecrated people to hope to be made meet for the glorious inheritance of the saints without the refining processes of fiery trial; for Paul tells us that "the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is." "If ye receive not chastisement [discipline, fiery trial], whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." (`1 Cor. 3:13`; `Heb. 12:6-8`.) And through the Prophet Isaiah the Lord tells his spiritual Israel, as well as his typical fleshly Israel, "I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy sin." (`Isa. 1:25`.) The Prophet Malachi, making special reference to the last days of this age, the days of the Lord's presence, and the great refining work to be accomplished then, says, "Who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver."--`Mal. 3:2,3`.
Fiery trials are therefore to be expected by all of the Lord's people, especially in this day of the Lord. As surely as we are sons of God we shall have them; and when they come we should promptly recognize their mission to us and see that we are exercised by them unto godliness, sobriety and deep and fervent piety. "Now no chastening [discipline] for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."-- `Heb. 12:11`.
It is in the school of experience that we learn our most valuable lessons; and the ripest saints, in whom we find the deepest sympathy, the most patient forbearance, and the most tender helpfulness and consideration, are those who have been through the fire of affliction, and who have been rightly exercised thereby. It was when the cross grew heaviest and the clouds were darkest, and when the tempest was highest, that the Master's presence was most sensibly realized, and the blessed lessons of faith and trust and of the Lord's tender, personal love were sealed upon the hearts of the disciples. It is under such discipline that the soul is mellowed to a loving submission that calmly says, I can do all things, bear all things, through Christ who strengtheneth me. As gradually the dross of the old nature is consumed, and the gold becomes more and more manifest, these precious souls become ever dearer to their loving Lord. So dear are they to him that in every affliction he is near with his grace to sustain and his presence to cheer; and the deepest shades of sorrow become memory's most hallowed resting places, where the Day Star shines the brightest.
Whenever a new trial is presented to the Christian, if he will but call to mind this precept of the Lord, "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire," it will stimulate courage, nerve to patient endurance, and quicken to self-sacrifice. "Gold tried in the fire!" How can it be tried without the crucible and the flame? How otherwise can the dross be eliminated? There is no other way. "Wherefore, think it not strange:" let the fire burn; let the dross be consumed; and see to it, beloved, that in the heat of the flame you remove not the "living sacrifice"
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from the altar. Remember that the eye of the great Refiner is upon you; and as the refiner of gold watches the metal in the crucible to see his image reflected in it, so the Lord, the great Refiner, has his eye upon you. He is watching to see how the precious metal of your character reflects his image. Or, in plain language, in every trial he watches to see what influences control our actions, whether they be influences of present advantage, or worldly policy, or personal friendship, or earthly loves--of husband, or wife, or children, or houses, or lands, or whether they be honor among men, or love of ease, or love of peace at any cost; or whether, on the other hand, we are controlled by the naked principles of truth and righteousness; and whether we will defend these principles with zeal and energy at any cost of labor or suffering, or both, and so fight the good fight of faith to the bitter end--even unto death.
Those who do so, reflect the Master's image. Like him they are loyal to God, loyal to the principles of truth and righteousness, brave, obedient, faithful. These are the overcomers. They overcome by faith; for without a strong reliant faith they could not thus endure hardness as good soldiers, and pursue to the end a course which is continually against the current of the old human nature. Faith buckles on the armor of God and goes forth to the battle with firm and steady tread, quickened by the inspiring melody,--
"Awake my soul, stretch every nerve,
And press with vigor on;
A heavenly race demands thy zeal,
And an immortal crown."
The Christian course of self-sacrifice cannot be one of ease and continuous smooth-sailing and peace. There may be a calm now and then, but storms and battles are the rule; and he who courts ease and peace at the expense of the principles of truth and righteousness, or who is so indifferent to the value of those principles as not to study to discern them in order to defend them, is not a faithful, overcoming soldier of the cross. "Ne'er think the victory won, nor once at ease sit down; Thine arduous work will not be done till thou hast gained thy crown."
Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." "If any man come to me, and hate not [i.e., and love me not more than*] his father and mother
*See EMPHATIC DIAGLOTT--foot note.
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and wife and children and brethren and sisters; yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple....Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple....He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."--`Matt. 10:34-38`; `Luke 14:26,33,35`.
Oh, how necessary is the hearing of faith to the victory of faith--to that victory which makes every other love subservient to the love of God, which makes every other interest bend to the interests of his great work, and which cheerfully sacrifices every other interest to the interests which center in Christ and in his coming Kingdom. The ear of faith must be attuned to the melodies of divine truth if the soul would catch its blessed inspiration; and the eye of faith must discern the symmetry of truth and the beauty of holiness, if the soul would be filled with a burning zeal for God--for his truth and his righteousness.
But let the soul be thus inspired with deep and abiding love for the melody of truth and the beauty of holiness, and filled with a holy zeal for God, then everything else takes a secondary place, and we have the victory by faith in every encounter with the enemy. The soul thus stayed upon God can always trustfully sing,--
"If on a quiet sea toward home I calmly sail, With grateful heart, O God, to thee, I'll own the favoring gale. But should the surges rise, and rest delay to come, Blest be the tempest, kind the storm, which drives me nearer home."
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LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY.
--MARCH. 15.--`Luke 11:1-13`.--
Golden Text.--"Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you."--`Luke 11:9`.
THE first suggestion of this lesson is the inquiry, Why did the disciples ask the Lord to teach them how to pray? were not the Jews a praying people, and were not the prayers of the righteous acceptable to God from the beginning of the world? Yes, the Jews were a praying people, and their prayers, when devout and sincere, and in harmony with the expressed will of God, were acceptable, and were answered. So also were the prayers of others before the Jewish age began. Adam communed with God in Eden until sin separated him from God and he was cast out of Paradise. After he had sinned, he heard and promptly recognized the voice of God as he and Eve walked in the cool of the day. They feared the voice then because they had sinned, but their prompt recognition of it indicated that it was familiar to them, and that often before they had delighted to hear it.
The first act of God's mercy after the penalty had been pronounced, and the promise had been given of a coming deliverer--"the seed of the woman"--was to clothe each of the penitent pair with a garment of skins, provided by a sacrifice, which prefigured the sacrificed "Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world." We confidently say the penitent pair, because had they been rebellious and defiant, instead of penitent, God could not have dealt thus mercifully and kindly with them. He would not have forced them to wear the typical robe, nor have rewarded
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them with the hope of a future deliverance. Evidently they still had faith in God, and repented that they had hearkened to the voice of the tempter and forfeited the divine favor by disobedience; and they were anxious to find some way of return to that favor, since God in his mercy had given them a ray of hope which lifted them out of the slough of despair; and they desired, if possible, to have some recognition, some way of access to God, to reassure their hearts from time to time that they were not cast off forever. Such reassurance of hope for the race was given in the institution of the typical sacrifices, which began in the clothing of Adam and Eve in the skin of the sacrificed animal, the robe thus provided typifying the imputed righteousness of the sacrificed Lamb of God, Christ Jesus.
So we find those descendants of Adam who had respect to the will and promise of God offering to God acceptable typical sacrifices in harmony with his arrangement, thereby expressing both their faith in the promise, and their desire for full harmony and communion. Thus Abel and Seth and all the godly ancients sacrificed; and through these typical sacrifices they approached God, they walked with God, and had the evidence in their own hearts that they pleased God, as it is written,--"By faith Abel offered... sacrifice...by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts. By faith, Enoch, ...before his translation had this testimony, that he pleased God. By faith, Noah...became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."--`Heb. 11:5-8`.
Thus there was a typical justification and way of access to God open to faithful individuals long before the law of Moses instituted the typical national sacrifices, which brought that people, as a nation, near to God and secured a measure of his temporal favor to them, which, in turn, were also typical of the greater favors to come by and by, when the typical sacrifices should give place to the antitypical sacrifice, the real sin-offering which takes away the sin of the world, which the blood of bulls and goats could only prefigure, but could never accomplish.
With the typical adoption by God of Abraham's family and the institution by the law of Moses of the typical national sacrifices, the privileges of approach to God through these, and of communion with him, was systematically taught by the law and the prophets. Consequently, in the nation of Israel we have multiplied instances of earnest and believing prayer; and instances, too, thank God, of the gracious hearing and answering of their prayers. And not only so, but some of the believing Gentiles, seeing what God had wrought in Israel, believed on him, and also caught the spirit of prayer; and, though unjustified even typically by the typical sacrifices, their prayers were heard, and God kept them in remembrance until the time appointed for his favor to turn to the Gentiles.
Of this class were Cornelius and his friends (`Acts 10`). Of Cornelius it is said that he was a "devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway." And when the time arrived, when, consistently with his plan, God could answer the prayers of Cornelius, he did so, saying, "Cornelius, ...Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God;" and shortly after the great blessing came in abundant measure. Praise the Lord! "A bruised reed he will not break, and smoking flax he will not quench." Wherever there is a humble, contrite, faithful heart, God's love takes cognizance of it, and in his own good time and way confers his blessing. If their prayers cannot be immediately answered, they are not forgotten, but are kept as memorials until the right time comes for their answer.
Therefore it was not because the disciples had never been taught to pray to God, that they inquired of Jesus as to the acceptable way; but, perceiving his intimate communion with God, and that God always promptly heard and answered him, they evidently felt that there must be something in his manner of approach to God which secured such prompt recognition and answers, and they would know the secret of his power. The secret of his power with God was in the fact of his full and complete harmony with the will of God; and this likewise is the secret of power among all of God's people. True, we, being imperfect, cannot say, as did he, "I do always those things that please him" (`John 8:29`); but, realizing our imperfection, we can come with humble confessions of our shortcomings and with faith in his love and mercy to be exercised toward us in his own appointed way. And then we are acceptable in the beloved One.
Jesus taught us how to pray by a simple illustration which shows (1) The proper reverential attitude of the believer toward God,--"Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." (2) A full acquiescence in, and perfect accord with, the will of God for the blessing of the whole world through the coming Kingdom of Christ, which is also a recognition of the preparatory redemptive work by his sacrificial death--"Thy Kingdom come." (3) The earnest desire that the will of God may be done in earth as it is done in heaven. (4) An expression of our dependence upon God for the supply of our daily needs, with an acknowledgement that we do not need luxuries, but will be content with the "bread and water" assured through the Prophet. This may also be considered a petition for the bread of life for our spiritual sustenance--"Give us this day our daily bread." (5) Request for forgiveness of sins in his own appointed way (through Christ), at the same time impressing upon ourselves the necessity for exercising toward others the same spirit of forgiveness, and stating that we have thus forgiven all our debtors--"Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy." (6) Earnest desire for his assistance in the hour of temptation or trial, that we may not be overcome by it, and thus led to sin and thus brought under the power of the Evil One--"Abandon us not in temptation [or trial], but deliver us from evil." This implies a determination to resist sin, as well as a leaning upon God for assistance. Such must be the attitude of the soul in every approach toward God in prayer.
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`Verses 5-13` are blessed assurances of our Heavenly Father's love and solicitude for us, which should fill our hearts with the deepest gratitude and responsive love, and which should strengthen our faith and our earnest desire to come often to his footstool and tarry long in his presence, assured that if we come in the frame of mind indicated by our blessed Lord, we shall never be turned away empty; "for every one that asketh [thus], receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened." And the thing received will be neither harmful nor useless. It will not be a stone for bread, nor a serpent for a fish, nor a scorpion for an egg; but it will be something good and wholesome; for the Lord "knows how to give good gifts unto his children." Christian, we need not tell you this: you have proved it well. And yet, praise the Lord! we have not exhausted his bountiful grace. "Still there's more to follow." "Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you." "Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." The thing we need most, for which our Father is most pleased to have us seek and pray, is the spirit of his holiness.--`Verse 13`.
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--MARCH 22.--`Luke 12:37-48`; `Matt. 24:42-51`.--
THIS lesson, from Matthew's account (`Matt. 24:42-51`), was treated in our issue of April 1, '95. We have no further comment to make except upon one point: "that [special] servant." In our examination of this text we seem to have treated the term "that servant" as though the Spirit had erred in saying "that servant" when it meant servants (plural), and we applied it to all true servants of God. Since then we have been met from various quarters with objections to so general an application, and the suggestion that it would be wrong to allow modesty or any other consideration, good or bad, to warp our judgment in the exposition of the inspired Word; to which proposition we agree. God evidently has some purpose in all that he has caused to be written for our admonition; and faithfulness as servants requires that we deliver to the household the Lord's word, as he gives it.
Being unable to answer the objections and arguments raised, we candidly present them to the "fellow-servants" and to the "household" of faith as part of the Lord's message: the subject being forced upon us by its recurrence in the International S.S. Lessons, as well as by inquiries by letter. Let each "fellow servant" and each member of the "household of faith" use his consecrated judgment in accepting or rejecting this exposition, or any other exposition we may ever offer, according to his ability or inability to recognize in it the voice of our great Shepherd.
The objection urged is that the Lord's words clearly mention and distinguish between his "household" (his faithful people in general), the "fellow servants" (plural), and "that servant" specially indicated as the Lord's agent in dispensing present truth as food to his "fellow servants" and the "household." It is admitted that in many Scriptures the consecrated are addressed individually when all of a class are meant,--as, for instance, "To him that overcometh I will grant to sit with me in my throne." This, according to the rules of language, means--"To each one who overcomes," etc. And in the texts under consideration, it is held that if neither the "household" nor "fellow servants" were mentioned, it might be questionable whether the expression "that servant" referred to one or to all faithful servants; but that when "that servant" and "his fellow servants" and the "household" are all mentioned in one connection, and in contrast, it would be a perversion of the rules of language and interpretation to mix and confound that which the holy spirit has so emphatically marked as distinct. It is further urged that to apply the term "his household" to nominal Christian professors in general could not be correct, because the "meat in due season" is intended only for the Lord's truth-hungry, "watching" people; and hence among these must be sought the "household" to be fed, the "servants" (plural) to do the feeding, and "that servant" at whose hands our present Lord will dispense the food to "his fellow servants" for "the household;" and who thus is constituted a general steward, overseer and dispenser of the Lord's "goods."
It is urged, further, that the manifest fulfilment of this, during this "harvest" and time of the Lord's presence, should assist in the correct understanding of the promise; and that when we see things come to pass we should be able to recognize them whether we discerned their meaning in advance or not. Indeed, the demonstration seems to have forced the true interpretation, rather than that an interpretation led to the fulfilment;--which makes the matter really the stronger, now that it is seen.
It is further suggested that whoever occupies the position of "that servant" occupies a place of special danger, as well as of special privilege; that only by humility and faithfulness can he continue; and that, although not so stated in the Scriptures, it may be inferred that if the chosen one should fail, another would be chosen to be "that servant" or steward through whom the Master would continue to supply the "meat in due season" to those deemed worthy to continue at his table.
We submit the argument without comment.
It is well to notice that these words are not a parable, but an explanation of a parable (`Luke 12:41`) recorded in preceding `verses (36-40`). The parable had set forth the fact that the "powers that be" (ecclesiastical, social and political) would be unaware of our Lord's second advent when it would take place; and that the times and seasons were kept secret specially on their account; because if they were fully convinced of the great events of that time, and their own dissolution to make ready for the Kingdom of God, the "new heavens and new earth," they would alter their course from fear, to perpetuate the present imperfect order, and to hinder the establishment of the better Kingdom. In view of this, our Lord indicates the necessity for faithfulness and watchfulness on the part of his servants, that they may be in such condition as to be quickly and readily made aware of the presence of their Master, while "the powers that be"--the present householder--sleeps in ignorance of the true state of affairs, and dreams of his own greatness and prosperity. The parable enforces the necessity that all of God's faithful servants be constantly prepared and ready, so that as soon as the "knock" is given, they may recognize it, and open their hearts and minds to the fact of the Lord's presence, and, as his "household," all sit down to enjoy the meat in due season which he will then serve, through his visible, human agencies.
After hearing the parable, and perceiving that only the faithful were to know of the matter, Peter was perplexed, and wondered whether the Lord meant that "all [faithful brethren]" would sit down to meat and be served by the Master, or whether only "us [the twelve];" for he had already discerned that the Lord had some special favors for "the twelve" alone. Of course, if Peter had known that the parable would not be fulfilled for over eighteen hundred years, after all the twelve would have died, he would not have asked the question in that form. But our Lord, without correcting his error, explained this feature of the parable for our information. His answer in `verses 42 to 48` (and `Matt. 24:44-49`) declares that while He will be the real Provider and Servant, yet the food will be dispensed through a steward to "fellow servants" and the "household" in general.
The word "ruler" in `verses 42,44` and `Matt. 24:45,47`, of the common version, does not properly express the thought of the original: the Revised Version is preferable: "set over his household to give them meat" as a "steward," not as a lord or master--rather a general servant, or servant of all.
Golden Text.--"Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God."--`Luke 12:8`.
This will be the blessed reward of faithful loyalty. The opposite will be true of all the disloyal.--"But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God."--`Verse 9`.
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
DEAR BROTHER:--Please send me an outfit of tracts suited especially for introduction. I agree with you fully in the proposition that the printed page should accompany the public declaration of truth; but in this country we cannot sell DAWNS nor take subscriptions to the TOWER till we have evangelized gratuitously. Hence I cannot hope to sell very many; but will use them to the best advantage.
The Lord has been prospering our little effort exceedingly this winter. I baptized four new converts to Christianity recently, and expect soon to baptize a community of ten or fifteen aged persons, who were Methodists until present truth reached them. Opposition and persecution increase as signs of progress of the truth are manifested.
We have ordered our church work; that is, we have recognized an "elder" and two "evangelists," and have arranged to give attention to particular features of the work at stated Sundays, with other regulations along this line.
Your brother in Christ, C. A. McCLUNG.
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DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL:--I am truly thankful to both the Lord and yourselves for the good that you by the grace of God have done me through MILLENNIAL DAWN and ZION'S WATCH TOWER. Experience, as well as the Word of God, teaches us that we are living in perilous times, in a time that tries men's souls. And while it is true that the light shines from God's Word much more clearly than ever before, some who have received present truth to some extent are getting it mixed with spiritism and other false "isms."
When the Bible says "try the spirits" (`1 John 4:1`), does it mean we should investigate spiritism?
J. E. CHAMBERLIN.
REPLY:--When Satan and his present spurious Spiritism shall be bound and deceive the nations no more, there will no doubt be some communication established between the spirit-beings constituting the glorified Church, the Kings and Priests, and the world of mankind progressing in righteousness and restitution; just as there was communion between God and his creatures in Eden. But nothing of this kind should be expected now. The Church from first to last
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is to "walk by faith, not by sight." The body of Christ in the flesh is to have spiritual communion only with its Head, the Lord and with him only in prayer. We are specially warned, too, that Satan may even endeavor to counterfeit the Lord; and we are warned against those who claim to see him in the secret chamber (in seances), and are told that his revelation or manifestation in his day will, on the contrary, be "as the lightning"--really as the sunlight --filling the whole world with knowledge, light, truth. This scripture applies to the glorified members of the body as well as to the Head, Christ Jesus.--`Matt. 13:43`.
The scripture which says, "Try the spirits, whether they be of God," refers to doctrines, as is clearly indicated by the context. Furthermore, there is in the character and personal bearing of all spirit-mediums that which should impress unfavorably every child of God, who knows what to regard as the spirit (disposition) of Christ. "If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his;" and such will never be used as his mediums of communication.-- EDITOR.]
In our issue of Feb. 1, '92 we published the following letter:-- California.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I must write to tell you how exceedingly interested I have been in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III., which I spied out in a book store in Los Angeles. I enclose 50 cents, for which I would like you to send me, at once, VOLS. I. and II. of the series. I would also much like a sample or two of your paper--ZION'S WATCH TOWER--for if it is what I expect it to be, after DAWN VOL. III., I shall at once become a subscriber. VOL. III. is already circulating among my friends.
Yours in the waiting for Christ's Kingdom,
PASTOR FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH.
Our correspondent requested that until otherwise notified his correspondence be considered confidential; and therefore when shortly afterward we received a letter from Rev. Mr. Reed, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, stating that he had been considered the writer of this letter, and requesting that we make known the name of the writer, we replied that we were not at liberty to reveal his identity. We also stated that he was Pastor of the First Baptist Church of a neighboring city who had "spied out" the book while in Los Angeles; and we remarked that we thought the wording of the letter sufficient to show this, since a resident of L.A. would have said "this city." We did not therefore see any necessity for publishing Dr. Reed's denial, which he was abundantly able to do, and did do, through the Minister's meeting, and various of the religious press.
Notwithstanding this explanation, Dr. Reed and others have continued to make capital out of the letter, accusing us of various dishonorable and unchristian motives and acts. We therefore have pleasure in publishing herewith a later communication from the writer of the aforesaid letter, which we trust will set the matter right before all who have been misinformed on the subject.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--In reply to your request regarding the letter published in the TOWER of Feb. 1, '92, and signed "Pastor First Baptist Church," while I was in California, I may say I have nothing to retract from what I then said, but regret to learn from you that any one else has suffered in any way as the supposed writer of the letter in question; and though I have since left California and the Baptist ministry, I have no hesitation in acknowledging the authorship, if it will relieve another from a false imputation.
Yours in Christian fellowship,
Jan. 27, '96. W. DE RONDEN POS.