VOL. XVI. JANUARY 15, 1895. No. 2.
Items--Tracts, Binders, Towers.................... 14
Views from the Tower--............................ 15
The Religious View............................ 15
The Bible Dangerous to Autocracy.............. 15
Encouraging a Military Spirit................. 16
The Social View............................... 18
Poem: All This Be Thy Portion..................... 19
The Ministry of Evil.............................. 20
Bible Study: The Good Confession.................. 21
Bible Study: The Transfiguration.................. 22
Encouraging Letters............................... 23
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The Scripture Teaching respecting the subject of God;--the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. June '92.
What Saith the Scripture About Hell? An examination of every text of the Bible containing the word "hell," and many others supposed to imply the thought of eternal torment. Feb. '93.
The True Church;--which it is, where to find it and how to join it. Sept. '93.
The Law of God--the Sabbath, etc.--a most important subject, upon which all Christians should have a clear understanding. We know of nothing in print so well adapted as this to meet and answer the peculiar points of doctrine on this subject set forth by Seventh-day keepers. Nov. '94.
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
THE RELIGIOUS VIEW.
ONE of the sensations of the world during the past few months has been the disclosures made before the LEXOW COMMITTEE of investigation, showing that the government of the city of New York has for years been in league with gamblers, the keepers of immoral houses, and thieves; and that probably millions of dollars were paid within the past fifteen years to the "Tammany" democracy by merchants and others for special police protection, and by thieves and others as blackmail to save them from justice.
The public, irrespective of party, rejoices to be relieved of such polluting parasites, and its thanks and commendations go out in large measure to the Rev. Dr. Parkhurst (Presbyterian), whose energy and perseverance had very much to do with the present exposure.
The public has an eye to utility, and sees in this a new field of usefulness for ministers. The public sees no value in faith, but great value in works. It virtually says,-- "Ministers are useful in their way: they help to keep up the moral tone of society by Sunday orations, visit the sick, and offer consolations to the bereaved at funerals; and why not keep their eyes on our office-holders and be ready and active in every reform? Would not this be a most practical way of enforcing Christian principles respecting honesty, etc., and a way that would make the Churches and their ministers more popular?"
Ministers will at first disdain such a course, but as it will appear more and more that it would please and interest the public, and as purely religious interest will be seen to be failing, we may be sure that ambition will lead out one minister after another into this new field--political, moral and religious combined--until it will be once more considered quite the proper thing (as in the days of Calvin and Zwingli), and Church and State will be practically one, although still theoretically two. Keep watch along this line: you will see it gradually draw nearer until the federative Union of all Protestant denominations shall have been accomplished--then matters will move forward rapidly.
Reliable accounts of the atrocious attack recently made by Turkish soldiers (Mohammedans) on several villages of Armenian Catholics in Turkey show that the spirit of savagery still exists in the breasts of fallen men as much as it did during the so-called "dark ages." Men, women and children were shot, stabbed and cut to pieces, their houses were set on fire and the occupants driven back with swords and bayonets when they attempted to escape. The descriptions almost equal the history of massacres of Waldenses, Huguenots, etc., by the papists.
THE BIBLE DANGEROUS TO AUTOCRACY.
In southern Russia, especially in the Polish provinces, there resides a class of very simple-hearted Christians, who are too enlightened from a Scriptural standpoint to have fellowship in the forms, ceremonies and image worship of either the Greek or Roman Catholic Churches. Since no other Christian churches or worship are tolerated in Russia, these have no preachers or preaching services. They have for years, however, held prayer-meetings at which some times one of their number would have a Bible and read therefrom to their general edification. These meetings usually last one hour (we are under the impression that a law hinders a longer session), and the people have been nick-named "Stundists," from the German word meaning an hour.
Some years ago one of our brethren (now interested in the present truth) was arrested and compelled to leave the country, because as a Bible Society's agent he was quietly circulating the Bible amongst these poor people. They are
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brought to our attention now by the decree of the Russian
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government, published in the Official Messenger, Dec. 5, '94, prohibiting the "Stundists" from holding their prayer meetings and declaring them to be a religious sect most dangerous to the Church and State. Yes! the Bible in its purity and simplicity is always dangerous to the prosperity of superstition and tyranny--and however meek and law-abiding its adherents may be, they must be suppressed, so far as priest craft can control the governmental arm.
How long will it be after the coming federative union of all Protestant denominations and their entente cordiale with the Papacy, before they will feel that ZION'S WATCH TOWER and MILLENNIAL DAWN are "dangerous" to their welfare, because they hold up to the common people the word of God in its simplicity? We are expecting that time to come, but not for at least ten years in Great Britain and in this land where liberty has made and will yet make its bravest struggle. Meantime, let all who love the truth serve it diligently. "Labor while it is called to-day; for the night cometh wherein no man can work."
The Guardian, Bombay, India, says on this subject:
"The same spirit of intolerance is spreading toward all who love and worship God according to the holy Scriptures in that country. The British and Foreign Bible Societies' depot in Kiev has been closed by the order of the Governor-General, Count Ignatieff. A further step has been taken by an order, which is published in several Russian papers, forbidding the colportage of Bibles carried on in the provinces which stand under this Governor.
"It is alleged, as the ground of this prohibition, that the Societies' workers have been guilty of spreading the doctrines of 'Stundism.' What has led to such a charge is difficult to see, as the colporteurs are in almost all cases loyal members of the Russian Church, and have received stringent injunctions to avoid implications with all forbidden movements. In the district of Saraisk, in a certain village, the chief of the rural gendarmerie had observed that several peasants were in the habit of meeting in the cottage of one of their number, where they read the Gospels, prayed, and sang hymns. Suspecting these persons to be 'Stundists,' the officer raided the place and arrested ten peasants who were assembled in religious conclave. Before the local magistrates the accused declared that they were faithful Orthodox believers, but that, as the Scriptures were never read or expounded to them by the priests, they claimed the right to do this for themselves. The Court held that the case came within the rescript with regard to the "Stundists," and each of the accused peasants was fined fifty rubles (about $37), or, in default, ten weeks' imprisonment."
STILL LATER ADVICES.
The clergy of the Greek Catholic Church of Southern Russia recently met at Kiev to discuss the present position and prospects of the "Stundists." Its report has just been presented to Governor-General Ignatieff. It states that in their opinion Stundism is no longer able to attract great masses of the people from the Greek or "Orthodox" Church. They thank the Governor-General for the help of the secular arm in combating heresy and state that the measures most effective were the following: (1) Forbidding the meeting together of the heretics for prayer. (2) Forbidding the colportage of the British Bible Society. (3) The ordinance by which children baptized into the "Orthodox" or Greek Church can be removed from the guardianship of either parent becoming connected with the Stundists. (4) Forbidding Stundists from membership or other association in societies of artisans. (5) The enactment preventing Stundists from purchasing land.
Truly these Stundists must be our "brethren;" for their only crimes (?) seem to be love for the Lord, a desire to worship him in the spirit of the truth, and a desire to be separate from the Greek quarter of "that great city" Babylon. Give them your sympathy and prayers. Should the Lord open the door for it these people would doubtless be found hungry and thirsty for the truth, and we should take pleasure in doing what we could to serve it to them. But there is little hope now, since even the Bible Society's representatives have been excluded. The "night" has already come to them. Let us the more diligently labor for others upon whom such restrictions have not yet come.
ENCOURAGING A MILITARY SPIRIT.
It is well known that Roman Catholics have for years encouraged the military spirit amongst their young and middle-aged men, who are known as "Hibernian Rifles," and other names, and are regularly drilled and equipped. The American Protective Association freely charges that the basement of nearly every Catholic church is an arsenal, well stocked with rifles and general ammunitions of war, ready for a conflict which they hold will be incited by papists to get possession of the government. But we pass by this view, which if it ever was Rome's policy we believe has been abandoned, at least for the present, in favor of more cunning as well as more peaceable methods of gaining the same desired end; and we now call attention to the fact that the military spirit not only permeates all the colleges of the land (to many of which the U.S. Government regularly supplies free professors of military tactics), but is being adopted by enterprising Protestant Sunday School Superintendents in the larger cities all over our land. Summer picnics and Christmas treats and S.S. papers and books are growing stale, and something new must be devised to fix the religious interest of the rising generation and hold them in the Sunday School,--which will also insure the presence of female scholars.
We do not charge the promoters of this new enterprise with any really bad motives: they are certainly free from Jesuitical schemes. But what a commentary it is upon the spiritual condition of the various denominations of Christendom, that they are not only blind and cannot see afar off and have [almost] forgotten that they were purged from their old sins (`2 Pet. 1:9`), but they are so very blind that they do not see that the spirit they are cultivating is the very reverse of the spirit of Christ, who is called "the Prince
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of Peace," and who declared, "They that take the sword shall perish with the sword," and said, My Kingdom is not of this world, else would my servants fight, but now because ye are not of the world [and under my teachings are opposed to wars, fightings, etc., and are children of the "God of peace"], therefore the world [which is of the other spirit] hateth you.--`Matt. 26:52`; `John 18:36`; `15:19`.
As we look out from our office window we see three companies of boys, ranging in years from ten to twenty, in blue uniforms and with imitation (wooden) guns and swords drilling in front of the First Presbyterian Church; and picking up the daily paper we note that the same is going on everywhere, and that within the past few days the Secretary of War, by influential request, loaned a lot of regular military repeating rifles to a company of the larger Christian (?) soldier boys of one of the New York Church Sunday Schools, and that they gave "a very creditable exhibition," which drew to them general attention and applause for their skill.
Our thoughts run on into the future in line with what God's Word shows us is "coming upon the world," and we wonder how any can be so blind as not to see that
"All things are onward moving" in perfect accord with what God has prophetically outlined.
Truly the morning cometh, when the nations "shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks, neither shall they learn war any more." (`Isa. 2:4`.) But that time lies beyond a dark intervening "night," and for that night all the world is preparing, consciously or unconsciously. This, too, is pointed out by the Prophet, who cries the Lord's message to this Laodicean phase of Christendom, saying,--
"Proclaim ye this among the nations, Prepare war, wake up the mighty men;...let them come up--all the men of war. Beat your plow-shares into swords, and your pruningknives into spears: let the weak say, 'I am a hero.' Assemble hastily together, and come, all ye nations from every side, and gather yourselves together: Thither, O Jehovah, cause thy mighty ones to come down!
"Let the nations awake, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat [God's pleading judgment]; for there will I sit to judge all the nations from every side.... Multitudes, multitudes, are in the valley of decision [trial, crisis], for near is the Day of Jehovah in the valley of decision. Sun and moon [Gospel and Law] are obscured and the brilliancy of the stars [teachers, especially the apostles --`Rev. 12:1`] is obscured. And the Lord will roar out of Zion [the elect Church], and from Jerusalem [Israel in restoration] will send forth his voice; and the heavens [nominal church] and the earth [society] shall quake: but the Lord shall be a refuge for his people, and a strong hold for the sons of Israel."--`Joel 3:9-16`.
LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE.
"There are ministers of the Gospel who are losing golden opportunities for usefulness, because they have not been called to fill a conspicuous pastorate. Their light, they are quite sure, was intended for a lighthouse on some oft traveled sea, and they cannot come down to the humble destiny and duty of a village lamp."--N.Y. Observer.
This same fault can be found nearer home. How many of God's children, readers of the WATCH TOWER, are praying to God to open to them some great work to do in his name and for the spread of his truth, and are neglecting opportunities God has already given them in their homes and in their neighborhoods, etc. The Lord loves most the humble who take hold of the most important work they
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see to do and do it with their might, and when he wants a servant for an important place in his service, he gives the opening to these humble ones. Their humility permits him to honor them without injuring them, and thus permits them more and more to honor him.
Of all religionists "Protestants" seem the most inconsistent. Evangelist Moody continues to charge Protestants a good stiff price for reviving them, but shows his love for papists by donating $500 to help build a Roman Catholic church, and by prohibiting the sale upon his school premises of a newspaper containing an anti-Romanist article.
The World's Parliament of Religions clearly showed that many professed ministers of Christ were not only ready to ignore the faith, but even the name of Christ--to draw men after them.
Recently a Baptist church edifice was dedicated, and all the denominations of the town were represented at the ceremony by their ministers except the Roman Catholic. For his consistency and honesty the priest was roundly denounced. His reply was to the effect that he recognized a wide difference between the teachings of his church and that of the one to be honored by the dedicatory services, and that he wished to be consistent and honest in his conduct as well as in his professions.
A Jewish synagogue was dedicated in Cleveland, and Protestant ministers vied with each other at the service to show that faith in Christ means nothing. This is not Christian love, or "love of the brethren," so highly commended by the Apostle as one of the evidences that we "have passed from death unto life." It is worldly love-- the result either of ignorance or of disloyalty to Christ. It is the kind of love mentioned in the Scriptures thus: "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
Far better, far more consistent, is the Jewish view of the matter, expressed by the Jewish Exponent, as follows:
"The participation of Christian divines in the services at Jewish houses of worship, a notable instance of which-- at the dedication of a synagogue in Cleveland--has attracted attention, is accepted as a welcome evidence of good-will and mutual toleration, if it has no under or deeper significance.
"It must be confessed, however, that the expression of this sentiment in this way does not seem specially appropriate. For men to ignore broad lines of demarkation, and to announce a harmony where none exists, can only lead to eventual discord. We prefer that Christians and Jews shall remain distinct in the domain of religion, mutually
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respecting each other's convictions, but agreeing to disagree on this one subject. On all others they can join hands, or at least the lines of cleavage will be other than between Jews and Christians.
On occasions of large and general importance, even of religious significance, it may not be unmeet for Jews and Christians to join where no sectarian question is at issue. On other occasions it is better to follow the Mosaic injunction not to remove the landmarks."
Not a great while ago a conference of Christians and Jews was held in the First M.E. church of Chicago, in which ministers of several denominations took prominent part, notably Revs. W. E. Blackstone, C. A. Blanchard, D. C. Marquis, E. P. Goodwin. The meetings were opened and closed with devotional "exercises"--singing, prayer, etc., and the name of Christ was entirely ignored;--even the benediction was Moses' blessing, written off and read for the occasion.
The Chicago Tribune criticized the matter and interviewed both Jews and Christians on the subject. The Jewish Rabbi said:--
"It was undoubtedly the intention on the part of those who arranged the affair to have all reference to Christ and the Trinity omitted from the devotional exercises. As such it was a great concession on their part, and I think an unfortunate one. More than that, it was the most inconsistent in those who believe that prayer should be offered in the name of Christ. It seems to me that the whole thing was unfortunate.
"I do not wish to be understood as questioning the honest intent of the promoters of the conference. I was of the impression that it was a scheme to convert us and wrote Mr. Blackstone that were such the case he had better not waste his efforts. He assured me that such was not the case and I am now convinced to that effect. I am quite certain it did no good and I hope it did no harm. I was amused at one thing. Mr. Blackstone asked me if I thought the conference would draw a crowd. I replied that it certainly would, as anything in the nature of a show was certain to draw well in Chicago. He replied that he intended to take from it the character of a show by having devotional exercises. I was much surprised at that, wondering all the while how Jews and Christians could possibly worship together. You see, I did not think they would eliminate Christ. It was done, I suppose, to give the conference a solemn character. This end, however, was not fully attained, as I was often interrupted during my address by applause."
THE SOCIAL VIEW.
In England, the special representatives of the lower classes in Parliament are yearly becoming more numerous, and correspondingly the demand is urged, that members of Parliament shall receive a salary of L.300 ($1500) per year, and that all Election expenses be paid by the government. The demand will become a law--though perhaps at first modified so as to apply only to those who will declare themselves as needing such assistance. Hitherto, no salaries have been paid; so that all except men of means have been practically barred out.
In Germany, the various parties of socialistic tendency are becoming very strong. Recently, when cheers for the Emperor were proposed in the Reichstag (the German Congress), some of its members refused to join. The government representative attempted to make an example by punishing the disloyalty, but was greatly surprised that the Reichstag, by a vote of nearly two to one, refused to punish.
The government (that is, the Emperor, through his representative) is about to introduce a new bill, giving the Emperor more power and limiting the scope of the Reichstag's powers. This, of course, will be opposed by all liberals and socialists and the government expects to be forced to make concessions to the Church of Rome, in order to secure the votes of the Roman Catholic members, who are thoroughly under the control of the papacy, and can be relied upon to vote for anything that will promote its interests. The newspapers representing the Catholic party are very strong in their opposition to the new measures for restricting the Reichstag's powers; but those familiar with their methods assert that this is only to secure the larger price--the greater concessions to Papacy--for their votes, when the time for voting arrives.
The London Daily Chronicle gives the following account:--
"Yesterday we predicted that the coming session of the German Reichstag would be a very stormy one, but we little thought that its first sitting would be marked by a 'scene of tumult almost unequalled in the history of the Imperial Parliament.' The Socialists refused to join in a cheer for the Emperor, at the instance of the President-- refused even to rise from their seats. This was indeed a very ominous inauguration of the parliamentary sittings in the new Reichshaus. Indeed, it will take rank as a kind of historical landmark.
"Substitute 'King' for 'Emperor,' and it may be said that a precisely similar scene occurred yesterday in the Belgian Chamber of Deputies, when a Socialist Deputy protested against all royal grants. The reply of the Premier was to call upon the House to give three cheers for the King. This was goading the Socialists into a further demonstration, and they retaliated by crying, 'Long live the People! Down with the Capitalists!'"
In the French Chamber of Deputies (the French Congress) a socialist member recently introduced a bill granting a small city the right to establish a drug store to be operated in the interest of the citizens. This was intended to be an entering wedge for communistic principles in all kinds of business and in every city of France. The measure was voted down by a large majority; but its advocate declared that revolution would yet accomplish what was peaceably refused.
Greater precautions than ever before are now being taken against assassins in and about the President's mansion in Washington. Twenty-four policemen, divided into three watches, guard it day and night. Within the past month a sentry box has been placed in the middle of the roadway and about fifty feet in front of the mansion. Under an order recently issued no one is allowed to cross the
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White House porch while a member of the President's family is entering or leaving it.
The N.Y. Sun asks, "What new danger threatens the inmates of the mansion, that it should be more closely guarded than at any time in its history, even during the civil war?" We answer, in the words of our Lord's prophecy, that they hear "the sea and the waves roaring," threatening, and their "hearts are failing them for fear, and for looking forward to those things coming."
The years 1893 and 1894 proved very unsatisfactory to Labor Organizations in the United States. Their strikes were failures in almost every instance. The loss of their reserve funds by the societies, as well as the loss of wages
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by the individuals, has greatly dispirited them all. But although wages are falling so are prices of goods--which never before were so cheap. If Capital would content itself with a lower rate of interest and smaller proportionate returns from business investments and thus share the general reduction the great "time of trouble" might, for the present at least, be averted.
But we know that the Scriptural forecast is correct, and we need expect no abandonment by Capital of the time honored principle of selfishness, which for centuries has controlled all classes; namely, "Secure for yourself all you can legally get possession of." Acting upon this principle, firms and corporations and trusts will say, We did not make as much money last year as the year previous and cannot pay as large a dividend: we must pinch a little more off each employee's wages, for we do not want our business and its profits to get behind what they have been.
Because of their present impoverished condition, and in view of the failure of so many of their strikes recently, wage-workers will feel forced to submit, and will submit. But as they witness the extravagant use by their employers of the money thus pinched from their wages, hard and revengeful thoughts will arise within the hearts of all except those who have made the Lord their refuge and habitation, and who are waiting patiently for the establishment of God's promised Kingdom of Righteousness.--`James 5:7`.
The movement against Anarchists and Socialists in France, and the new legislation pending against them in the German Congress, are supplemented by a recent Government decree in Italy, by which every Socialist club, society or union has been dissolved and their papers and archives confiscated. The decree and its execution came suddenly and unexpectedly. It is said that papers of importance were seized by the police.
Such repressive measures may or may not prolong the lives of the governments adopting them; but will they not make the explosion and wreck, when they do come, all the more terrible? Holding down the lever of the safety-valve of a steam generator may stop the noise of the escaping steam temporarily, but every engineer knows that would be bad practice. Instead he would reduce his fire; so the wiser plan would be to reduce the causes of social unrest.
But the Lord's time has come for the great change which will demolish totally the present social structure, that upon its ruins he may establish his Kingdom so long promised and for which his saints have so long prayed, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven." Therefore, as is declared in the Scriptures, "The wisdom of their wise [states-]men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent [business-]men shall not be manifested." --`Isa. 29:14`.
Although the American Federation of Labor at its recent meeting in Denver voted down by a strong majority resolutions favoring Socialism, this should not be understood as signifying opposition to everything Socialistic: they are opposed to the general theory of Socialists as being, at least at present, impractical. They still favor community ownership or at least regulation of railroads, telegraphs, telephones, etc., indispensable to human progress and comfort. Their newly elected President, John McBride, is a man of moderation who favors peaceful methods rather than riot.
These things show what we have heretofore called attention to--that the majority of American workmen are not disposed to be Anarchists; that when anarchy does come, it will be years hence (probably not before 1911)-- and then as a result of despair at being unable to secure equity by other methods.
The Pope has recently, after two years' consideration of the subject, put under his ban three secret societies;-- Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows and Sons of Temperance. No Roman Catholic may hereafter belong to these orders. Similar restrictions have long since applied to the Masonic order.
The Pope wishes so to draw the line that his faithful will be forced into orders whose regulations will not hinder the full knowledge of the priests of all their affairs through the Confessional. The developed Christian will find membership in the Order of the "Royal Priesthood" quite sufficient. In it he will find use for all the hours not due to his family and himself. In it he will find the best of earthly fellowship, and with its Head the perfection of fellowship.
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ALL THIS BE THY PORTION.
NEW mercies, new blessings, new light on thy way;
New courage, new hope and new strength for each day;
New notes of thanksgiving, new chords of delight,
New praise in the morning, new songs in the night;
New wine in thy chalice, new altars to raise;
New fruits for thy Master, new garments of praise;
New gifts from his treasures, new smiles from his face;
New streams from the fountain of Infinite Grace;
New stars for thy crown, new tokens of love;
New gleams of the glory that waits thee above;
New light of his countenance, full and unpriced--
All this be the glory of thy new life in Christ. --Selected.
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THE MINISTRY OF EVIL.
THE life of every human being has its lights and shadows, its seasons of joy and its depths of sorrow. These make up the warp and woof of experience, and the web of character that flows from the active loom of life will be fine and beautiful, or coarse and homely, according to the skill and carefulness with which the individual appropriates and weaves into it the threads of experience. In every life, under the present reign of sin and evil, the somber shades predominate; and to such an extent that the Scriptures aptly describe humanity in its present condition as a "groaning creation." Nor is the Christian exempt from these conditions that are upon the whole world; for "we also groan within ourselves, waiting for deliverance." --`Rom. 8:22,23`.
But while we are waiting for the deliverance, the daily experiences of life have a most important mission to us, and the manner in which we receive and use them should be a matter of deepest concern to us; for, according to the use we make of them, each day's prosperity or adversity and trial bears to us a blessing or a curse. Those experiences which we are accustomed to regard as prosperous often have in them subtle dangers. If wealth increase or friends multiply, how almost imperceptibly the heart finds its satisfaction in earthly things; but, on the other hand, when the keen edge of sorrow and disappointment are felt, when riches fail, and friends forsake, and enemies take up a reproach against us, the natural temptation is to despondency and despair.
Just here is an important part of the great battle of the Christian's life. He must fight the natural tendencies of the old nature and confidently claim and anticipate the victory in the strength of the great Captain of his salvation. He must not succumb to the flattering and deceptive influences of prosperity, nor faint under the burdens of adversity. He must not allow the trials of life to sour and harden his disposition, to make him morose, or surly, or bitter, or unkind. Nor may he allow pride or ostentation or self-righteousness to grow and feed upon the temporal good things which the Lord's providence has granted him to test his faithfulness as a steward.
Sorrows indeed may, and often will, come in like a flood, but the Lord is our helper in all these things. The soul that has never known the discipline of sorrow and trouble has never yet learned the preciousness of the Lord's love and helpfulness. It is in seasons of overwhelming sorrow, when we draw near to the Lord, that he draws specially near to us. So the Psalmist found it, when, in deep affliction, he cried to the Lord and reasoned of his righteousness, saying, "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications." Feeling his own shortcomings, and longing for full deliverance from every imperfection, and prophesying the bountiful provisions of the divine plan of salvation through Christ, he adds, "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities [imputing them to us], O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared [reverenced]"
How blessed are such assurances when the soul is painfully conscious of its infirmities and of its inability to measure up to the perfect law of righteousness. When the heart is true and loyal, God does not mark our infirmities in a record against us. They are not imputed to us, but are freely forgiven through Christ in whose merit we trust and whose righteousness is our glorious dress,--arrayed in which, we may come with humble boldness, even into the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
If God thus ignores the infirmities of our flesh and receives and communes with us as new creatures in Christ, his children should also so regard one another, considering not, and charging not against each other, the infirmities of the flesh, which all humbly confess and by the grace of God strive daily to overcome. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" The case is different, however, when the infirmities of the flesh are cultivated, indulged and justified that the errors may be continued. Then, indeed, they are charged against us, and if we do not speedily "judge ourselves," the Lord will judge and chasten us.-- `1 Cor. 11:31,32`.
"I wait for the Lord," the Psalmist continues, "my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning." How necessary is this patient waiting for the Lord! In the midst of cares, perplexities, difficulties and infirmities we may remember that all the jarring discords of life are working together for good to them that love the Lord, to the called according to his purpose. But for the consummation of this purpose of God toward us we must "wait," and, while waiting patiently, endure hardness as good soldiers. "Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently
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for him, and he will bring it to pass." Time is an important element in all God's plans: we are not, therefore, to be disappointed when the test of endurance is applied while the blessings we crave tarry long. God took time to frame the world and to fit it for human habitation; time (6000 years) to give the world its necessary experience with evil; time (4000 years) to prepare for the advent of Christ as the world's Redeemer; time (2000 years) for the preparation of the Church to share in his glorious reign; and time must be allowed for the shaping and adjusting of the individual affairs of all his people. God has not forgotten when the answers to our prayers seem to tarry long. He who heeds the sparrow's fall and numbers the very hairs of our heads is not indifferent to the faintest call or the smallest necessity of his humblest child.
O, how blessed is the realization of such care over us.
"MORE THAN THEY THAT WAIT FOR THE MORNING."
"My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that wait for the Morning,--I say more than they that wait for the Morning."
The "brethren," are not in darkness respecting the dawn of the Millennial Morning, because taught there
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of by the Comforter (See `1 Thes. 5:4`), and because to their eyes of faith the Day Star (the Day-bringer--Christ) has already appeared, and they rejoice in the inspired testimony that although "weeping may endure for the night [of sin's predominance] joy cometh in the Morning" of the great day of the Lord. And as the dawn of the new day, "the day of Christ," becomes more and more distinct, many besides the "brethren" can and do see signs that "the night is far spent and the day is at hand;" and by and by, notwithstanding the dark clouds and terrible storm of trouble that will temporarily hide the signs of morning from them, all the world--even the still sleeping nominal church--will awake to the fact that "The morn at last is breaking."
But many of those who are now watching for the Morning from the standpoint of Socialism, Nationalism, etc., are not waiting for the Lord--in fact, they do not know the Lord, his character and his Kingdom having been so sadly misrepresented by those who claimed to be his mouthpieces. They rejoice in the Morning, because it ushers in the golden age of human equality, general education, decreased toil, and increased privileges, comforts and luxuries. "God is not in all their thoughts," when they look for the Morning. Looking from a more or less selfish standpoint, and unguided by the divine revelation--for no man knoweth the mind of God save he who has the spirit of God (`1 Cor. 2:11,12`) --they fail to see the real object and chief characteristic of the coming age of blessing, and are merely championing the interests of the masses as against the present special advantages of the wealthy. They see not the greatest blessings of the dawning day;--that with earthly comforts and privileges it will bring the great blessing of a trial for everlasting life;--that it will be the world's Judgment Day, to determine who, under those favorable conditions, will develop characters in harmony with God's character.
But with the "brethren" it is different. While they appreciate the coming earthly blessings none the less, but the more intelligently, the Lord, his character and the work which will be accomplished for men by the great Physician --as Prophet, Priest and King--these more weighty and more valuable considerations outweigh by far the earthly favors which will attend his Kingdom's rule. Yes, the "brethren" wait for the Lord himself, longing to see the King in his beauty--the fairest among ten thousand, the one altogether lovely. Yes, truly our souls "wait for the Lord more than they that wait for the Morning."
Then let all the Israel of God hope in the Lord (`verses 7,8`), for with the Lord there is mercy; mercy not only in dealing with our infirmities, but also in shielding from overwhelming trials and in granting grace to help in every time of need,--to those who abide in the Vine by faith and obedience. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."
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THE GOOD CONFESSION.
I. QUAR., LESSON IV., JAN. 27, `MATT. 16:13-23`.
Golden Text--"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."--`Matt. 16:16`.
AFTER the many proofs of his divine anointing which his disciples had seen, the Lord had reason to expect their faith in his claim to the Messiahship to be established. Hence the questions of this lesson--(1) "Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" and (2) "But whom say ye that I am?" The former was but a leading question; the latter, the pointed one calculated to bring out a full expression of their faith.
Here Simon Peter's impulsive zeal, which sometimes led him into difficulties and errors, led him to a very warm and prompt expression of his full conviction that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. "And Simon Peter answered and said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!'" Such a prompt and full profession of his faith brought the immediate reward of the Master's approval. The conviction thus impressed upon his mind was not such as the carnal mind would arrive at, but such as the mind could gain only by submitting itself fully to the spirit of God. Peter and all the other apostles had done this, but Peter, being the most prompt to confess it, received the first and warmest commendation and reward.
`Verse 18`. "And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter [Greek, petros, a stone, a piece of a rock]; and upon this rock [Greek, petra, the rock in mass, the foundation rock] I will build my church; and the gates of hell [hades, the grave, death] shall not prevail against it."
The foundation "rock" was Christ--"this rock"-- which Peter had just confessed, and not Peter, as the Church of Rome claims, and as some Protestants are now willing to concede. Peter himself disclaims such distinction, and such usurpation of the Lord's place, when he points to Christ as the foundation stone in the spiritual temple of God, and to all the members of his body as living stones to be built upon that foundation.--`1 Pet. 2:4-6`. See also `Isa. 28:16`; `Matt. 21:42`; `Acts 4:11`; `Rom. 9:33`; `Eph. 2:20`; `Psa. 118:22,23`; `1 Cor. 3:11`.
The promise that the gates of death should not prevail against the Lord's true Church has indeed been verified; for though assailed by the fiercest persecutions she has never yet been exterminated. Throughout the entire age down to its close in the present time the Lord has preserved a people; and his further promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the age," has also been richly verified.
But while the gates of death (hades) have not prevailed against the Church as a whole, they have done so (temporarily) against its members--even against the Head, our Lord. But they shall not prevail everlastingly. Our Lord triumphed or prevailed over hades (the grave) on the third day in his resurrection (by the Father's power), and we his Church also shall prevail on the third (thousand-year) day. For it is promised that He who raised up our Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus. And thus the gates of the grave shall not eventually prevail or triumph over us. "Weeping [and death] may endure for a night, but joy [in resurrection] cometh in the morning."
`Verse 19`. The "keys of the kingdom" granted to Peter signified the privilege which he subsequently enjoyed of opening the gospel door to both Jews and Gentiles:
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to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, after the anointing of the holy Spirit (See `Acts 2:14-40`); and to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert. (See `Acts 10:33-46`.) The ability to bind and loose on earth and in heaven, while here expressed to Peter specially, applied also to all the other apostles. It was the guarantee of that divine inspiration which subsequently so guided their teachings as to make them infallibly authoritative to the entire Church. Whatever they, under divine inspiration, bound upon the Church as duty was bound in heaven; and whatever they loosed, e.g., the obligations of the Mosaic law, were loosed in heaven.--See our issue of May 1, '93.
`Verse 20`. The charge that they should not yet begin to preach this doctrine was given probably in consideration of the fact that the people in general still needed line upon line and precept upon precept in the way of evidence before they would believe. The Lord apparently desired to multiply the evidences rather than the assertions of his character. He gave them the evidences and led them thus to the right conclusions.
`Verse 21`. Having fully convinced the apostles--his chosen witnesses--of the verity of his claims, he now began to instruct them further in the purposes of God with reference to himself. Step by step, as a wise teacher, he led them into the truth.
`Verses 22,23`. While the love of Peter would, if possible, protect the Lord from his predicted tragic end, the Lord promptly rebuked any interference with the divine plan to which he himself was fully submitted. Like our Lord, we should be so fully submitted to the will of God that even the kindly meant dissuasions from duty on the part of our own friends, or the natural desires of our own flesh, we should recognize as besetments of the Adversary; and we should promptly and firmly resist them.
Thank God for the Peters of his flock, with their own earnest confessions. Their characters, as well as that of the Paul class, demand and have our admiration-- notwithstanding their need of reproofs at times, for misdirected zeal.
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I. QUAR., LESSON V., FEB. 3, `LUKE 9:28-36`.
Parallel Accounts--`Matt. 17:1-13`; `Mark 9:2-13`.
Golden Text--"This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him."--`Matt. 17:5`.
THIS lesson should begin with `verse 22`. `Verses 22-26` tell us how the Lord disclosed to his disciples the intelligence of the tragic end of his life which he must soon meet, and assured them of his resurrection on the third day. He then intimated that his disciples would not be exempt from similar persecution and counselled faithfulness under even such trials, assuring them of an abundant reward in the glory of his Kingdom at his second advent.
`Verse 27` was a prophecy which received an almost immediate fulfilment, as the narrative of this lesson proves.
`Verses 28-36`. We have the Lord's own words to prove that the incident here recorded was a "vision,"-- not a reality. "And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, 'Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.'" --`Matt. 17:9`.
The import of this "vision" is also clearly indicated by the Apostle Peter. (`2 Pet. 1:16-18`.) He declares it to have been a "vision" of the coming glory of Christ's Kingdom, saying, "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty; for he received from God the Father honor and glory when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount."
As a "vision" it is to be understood as a symbolic representation of the glory of Christ's Millennial Kingdom. The changed appearance of the Lord's person and clothing were symbolic of his coming personal glory. And the glorious appearance also of Moses and Elias represented the association with the Lord in the glory of his Kingdom of the two companies from among men who shall constitute the earthly and the heavenly phases of the Kingdom. Moses represented the earthly phase and Elias the spiritual or heavenly phase. Here in symbolic "vision" was represented the established Kingdom, referred to in `verse 27`-- "I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death till they see the Kingdom of God." It was not the actual Moses and Elias, remember, for this was a "vision," not a reality. (`Jude 9`; `Rom. 5:12`; `Eccl. 9:5`; `Psa. 146:4`; `Job 14:21`; `John 3:13`; `Acts 2:34`; `Psa. 90:3`.) Nor was their resurrection due then: "They [the ancient worthies of the Jewish dispensation] without us [the Church] shall not be made perfect." (`Heb. 11:40`.) Their resurrection tarries, therefore, until the second advent of Christ and the full establishment of the spiritual phase of the Kingdom--the Gospel Church.
`Verse 31` records the theme of the three glorified ones, which was the great transaction shortly to be accomplished at Jerusalem--the crucifixion of the Lord, the payment of our ransom price.
The object of the "vision" was probably two-fold-- for the comfort and strengthening of the Lord, and for the enlightenment of his chosen witnesses. The communication with the Lord concerning his decease was probably while the disciples were asleep (`verse 32`), and was doubtless, therefore, specially for his own comfort. The "vision" came in answer to the Lord's prayer, and though it was not understood by the disciples at the time, it was afterwards a blessed inspiration to them, and should be to us also. Yet, says Peter, "we have a more sure word of prophecy [concerning the Kingdom and its glory. It is spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began--`Acts 3:19-21`], whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." (`2 Pet. 1:19`.) The "vision" was a vivid and refreshing symbolic view of the Kingdom, but without the "sure word of prophecy" it would have been unintelligible.
`Verses 34,35`. Here was another testimony by a voice from heaven to the claim of our Lord to be the Son of God, and pleasing and acceptable to him. At his birth the heavenly messengers announced him; at his baptism the voice from heaven declared him the acceptable Son of God; and here, very near the close of his human existence, he is again proclaimed the acceptable and well-pleasing Son.
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`Verse 36`. "And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone." The "vision," the voice and the cloud had all passed away, and the natural conditions were again realized, while the lessons of that solemn hour remained to gain a yet broader significance when, by and by, after Pentecost, they would receive the anointing of the spirit, and understand its significance.
Thus with line upon line, and precept upon precept, the blessed truths of God concerning his glorious benevolent plan were riveted upon the hearts and minds of his disciples; and they shall be upon ours also as we bring ourselves more and more into communion with his word.
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--I have the pleasure of informing you that we have just had a great spiritual feast. The Nov. double number of our most welcome semi-monthly visitor came, loaded with good things. Oh! how glad I am that our Father in heaven gave you thoughts on the Law question so satisfying, encouraging and strengthening to his children; for I have long waited to have a solution of these subjects from your pen. I feel very thankful indeed.
Just as we were enjoying these blessed truths, Brother McPhail came. We had a blessed time. The Brother spoke from the Chart. The following night we had a grand meeting, which closed with many questions, well answered. Bro. M. is the right man in the right place, according to my judgment, and I pray that he may do all of the congregations as much good as he did us. I consider him sound in the truth. On Sunday we had two meetings. The three o'clock meeting lasted until dark, and the eight o'clock meeting until nearly eleven o'clock. I think all were benefited.
We hope that Brother M., or some other brother as well posted will visit us again soon. He gave me a satisfactory solution of every text brought up, except `Psa. 49:19`, which he says he will speak to you about.
Your brother in Christ, M. L. STAPLES.
[REPLY--`Psa. 49:19,20` must be interpreted in the light of its connections and in harmony with all the declarations of Scripture. These who "perish like the beasts" --hopelessly--and who shall never after "see light," are not men who have died in ignorance of God, as the heathen (at home and abroad); they are specially declared to be such as when "in honor" appreciate it not.
Father Adam, when perfect, was "crowned with glory and honor" (`Psa. 8:5`), but lost this in sin and degradation by disobedience. Restitution to "honor" and life in God's favor was redeemed for all by our Lord's sacrifice, and this honor and life are reckoned as offered or given back to a man when he is brought to a knowledge and opportunity of regaining them: and those thus reckonedly honored again through Christ, who do not appreciate it so as to accept it, are subjects of the Second death--will perish as the beasts and never see light. Or the "they" of `verse 19` might be understood to refer to the earthly riches and "glory" of `verse 17`; these will never more be seen as his. Any other views would seem to conflict with `verse 14`, which distinctly says, of mankind in general, that "the righteous shall have dominion [rule] over them in the morning,"-- when the Millennial Day has dawned. This agrees with the Bible as a whole which assures us that "all the families of the earth shall be blessed" with the gracious knowledge and opportunities of the New Covenant, when "the saints shall judge the world."--EDITOR.]
DEAR FRIEND:--I take the liberty to enclose a couple of clippings from the San Francisco Examiner, as showing that the promised light is breaking. People are beginning to see as they never saw before; and by and by their hearts will have to confess the power of Christ. Oh! that they would give in willingly, and sooner. My infidel friends keep me supplied with their literature, well written and powerful, but so misleading, so false. I return the compliment with TOWER, tracts, etc., and so the battle goes. I read the DAWNS over and over again, they are ever fresh as their fountainhead, the Bible. How welcome are the TOWERS; they deal with living questions, and are always good.
Twenty years yet remain. It seems to me a long time. I cannot imagine any one wishing it to be million of years hence. The reign of injustice, of sin, has already been full long. Let us welcome the new Day, and cry, as the saints under the altar, "How long, O Lord?" (`Rev. 6:10`.) The hard times here in this truly Golden State would be hard to describe. The people have been driven to the verge of revolution. Starvation stares the once happy and prosperous farmers in the face. So little money circulates that it may be said to have disappeared. The future has no ray of hope for the worldly. Yet this cannot be the end, and prosperity after a fashion on a lower scale no doubt will return by and by. I find this a good opportunity
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to start the DAWNS and TOWERS where during prosperity there would have been "no time" to read them, and I think some fruit will yet come of it.
I enclose a clipping containing an account of the strange death of a spirit-medium. This phase of Satanic power is surely on the increase. I am ever on the watch on this line. Work on the Second Tower of Babel is also progressing; viz., the coming together of rulers, Church and State, and various plans for the salvation of man by man. The signs are multiplying; for, verily, is it not a deluge of blood that is coming?--`Rev. 6:10`.
How I have longed since a youth to take up the sword and fight for the oppressed; but the teachings of your books are against such a course, and I am forced to admit you are right; for history stands as a proof that none of the patches put on Governments are lasting: ultimately oppression again comes to the front, if possible in a worse form; and the last revolution to right the wrongs of the nations must end in anarchy worldwide. How I pity the brave and earnest men who will go into it! How great will be their disappointment! Yet my whole bent has been that way. This is the point where your books hit me hard. How much we owe to those who of yore took up the sword and fought for the rights of man; yet it seems now we must not do it. In the near future I hear "the thunder of the captains and the shouting," and the "cause" on the surface, no doubt, will appear as right as any ever fought over. It will be impossible to show others what we see and know; and I hear the word "coward!" It is a hard thing. Perhaps I am climbing a hill in advance. My friend, Capt. H., feels about the same as I do on this subject. He does not think he could help but go.
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[If Brother H. grows strong in faith he will gain strength thereby to be an "overcomer" of this spirit which is part of the spirit of the world--of the natural man. Besides we see a more excellent way of dealing with these matters--God's way; and as we receive of his spirit we prefer his way and will follow it, at any cost.--EDITOR.]
On another subject. In his answer to `Job (Chapters 38-41`), God was speaking of actual things throughout; and I think that the snow and hail (`38:22,23`) indicate actual snow and hail. If this could be sustained, would it not point to the actual (literal) fulfilment of part of the prophecies and revelations?
[We consider that a number of symbolic prophecies are intended to have both a literal and a symbolic fulfilment; but the above expression by Job seems to us to be figurative language and not prophetic.--EDITOR.]
Yours in the hope of the better Day,
A. R. PEARSON.
MY DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--Below is my list for TOWER, seventeen in all, but mostly renewals, as you will see. Find amount enclosed. Sorry the list is so small, but it is the best I could do.
I have been meeting with the friends, and preaching, at different places in this vicinity for some time past, as you know, and find many who appear (and some are) interested; and I want to continue to advance the cause. God bless the truth, and prosper it in 1895. S. WILLIAMS.
DEAR MR. RUSSELL:--I am thankful that I have another opportunity of writing to you. I am glad to say that I am still making a little advancement. With this I send an order for seven subscriptions. Some are now beginning to read both DAWNS and TOWER, who a short time ago would not hear anything of the sort.
I find your notes on the International S.S. Lessons most useful in helping me to present the truth, especially in my Bible class, as they help to elicit questions, and also to give answers, and frequently open the way for further talk on the subjects; in fact, I often wish you could insert your notes a month in advance, so that we could always get them beforehand. [It is our intention to do this during the present year.--ED.] If you could see some of my old copies, it would give some idea how their contents have been studied: many of them are in small pieces, completely worn by use. I lend many out with the object of getting new subscribers.
Yours sincerely, R. EVANS.
DEAR BROTHER:--Quite an affecting incident occurred at the last meeting held here by Brother McPhail. A poor, decrepit old Jew edged his way up to Bro. M., and in a feeble voice asked, "What had, or would, become of all the sons of Jacob who died this side of the cross?" He seemed to be satisfied that those on the other side of Calvary were safe and would be duly restored during the Times of Restitution. When Bro. M. read to him the prophecy about their being taken up out of the graves and sent back home, the old man received the message with a beaming countenance, and simply said, "I am so glad to hear that."
The old man's faith touched me, and I was reminded of other scenes in New Testament times, where the simple truth was announced, and as simply accepted.
Your brother, L. R. BROWNE.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--I had hoped to get a letter of respectable proportions to you a month ago; but good intentions do not always come with fitting opportunities. And now we must be content simply to forward subscriptions and to tell you that we have abundantly proved that our God is faithful and keepeth his own. We are sometimes tempted to mourn over the small outward fruitage of our work, but we have the better fruitage of the Lord's work within us, which gives us peace and joy in spite of surrounding and ever closing-in trouble--a meek and quiet spirit of trustfulness that he will enable us to endure. We see that the nominal church (the Christian world) is more and more forsaking Christ in spite of so much religiousness and zeal in really good work (temperance, purity guilds, Christian Endeavor Societies, etc.): they will not hear the voice of the Shepherd. Verily, though they think they are doing God service, they are working only their own wills.
We have been greatly helped and blessed of late by realizing that God's thoughts are not man's, and neither are man's ways God's; indeed, they cannot be. We are very prone to set ourselves some "good thing" to do, and then to conclude that is what God would have us do; and although I do not quite unconditionally accept the preaching of one of the great preachers who says in effect that "a Christian is one who does what he does not like," or "he mostly finds God's way the very reverse of his own," yet I do believe that if two courses are open to us we shall often be safest to choose the most unpleasant.
I have just been laid aside a little through sickness, and it has prevented me from getting round or writing to librarians; so that the matter I spoke of, respecting supplying free libraries with sets of DAWN, is no nearer completion. [Brother Riley has been supplying public libraries with a set of DAWN each.--ED.] But another thought has occurred to me. If you think the plan worth anything, how would it be to insert a notice in TOWER, setting forth the scheme, and asking readers to see the librarians in their own districts, and so get the interest spread?
I have just been refreshing my memory and strengthening my faith by reading history, and it has mightily confirmed me in the belief that Christians, and the saints specially, have nothing to do with either the good or the bad methods of governments of this world; that we are not only to be quiet and submissive to good rulers, but to be in subjection to every ordinance of man; to suffer indignities, imposition, the spoiling of our goods and the taking away of name or life; for our God will not allow this unless it be for our good. I am amazed to find so few who are not swallowed up in politico-religious (!!) broils. The whole of nonconformist churches are given over to this delusion of bringing about Christ's Kingdom. The Lord's people must leave themselves in his hand, and he will deliver them from worse than Egyptian bondage, but he will never submit to be helped by man. The image (earth's governments) is not only to be destroyed, but carried away, so that no trace of it can be found. We must not be deceived into thinking that this or that or the other good cause is God's way of improving matters. Christ's Kingdom will not grow out of the best of earth's governments: it is not of this age at all, and so nothing but utter destruction can clear the way for it.
We always remember you in our prayers. We very much appreciate the Nov. TOWER. Indeed, this year has given us some of the best. May the light increase more and more. With heartiest love from all here,
Ever yours sincerely in Christ, A. P. RILEY.