VOL. XVI. FEBRUARY 15, 1895. No. 4.
Items--Tracts, etc................................ 38
Views from the Tower--............................ 39
The Social View............................... 39
The Religious View............................ 40
A Proposed Pan-American Congress.............. 41
Against So-called Higher Criticism............ 41
A Reflective M.E. Minister.................... 41
The King's Highway................................ 42
Bible Study: Christ, and the Blind Man............ 46
Bible Study: Awakening of Lazarus................. 47
Bible Study: What Lack I Yet?..................... 47
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THE "DO YOU KNOW?" TRACT is doing good service. It suits all classes. Many already praise the Lord for the light which it as an entering wedge has introduced.--English, German, Swedish.
"THE ONLY NAME" (Tract No. 24), a criticism of Bp. Foster's new gospel-excellent for Christians of all denominations, especially Methodists.
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
THE SOCIAL VIEW.
THE indications are that Russia has gained considerable in the new Czar. Already he manifests a statesman-like liberality of thought which has pleasantly surprised the world. It is related that recently in examining papers bearing upon some official appointments the Czar struck out with his pen the sentences relating to the religious beliefs of the applicants, remarking to the effect that their religious views were their own private matter and had no bearing upon their suitability for political office. It is hoped from this that religious liberty may soon be granted to a degree not enjoyed for centuries in Russia. Such a policy would be welcomed by Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics and Protestants, no less than by the Jews.
In harmony with this view we note the removal of Gen. Gourko, Governor-General of Warsaw, and of Count Ignatieff, Governor-General of Kieff. Both of these men were noted for their anti-Jewish proclivities; and the latter had only recently instituted the severe persecutions of the Stundists mentioned in our issue of Jan. 15. The Czar's uncle, the Prince of Wales, visited him at the time of his father's funeral and doubtless lent encouragement to his more liberal views respecting government.
The Lord-Mayor of Liverpool created a sensation a few days ago in a speech before the Commercial Travelers' Association. Speaking of the need of a higher technical and intellectual culture amongst English workmen, he went on to say that if they did all they could to produce British goods he believed that in two or three years there would not be an idle man in Great Britain. But he feared an unwillingness to acquire this culture and skill, and a disposition rather to do as little work and for as few hours as possible and in a careless manner. "He was afraid there was nothing for it, but to let them (the English workmen) go to the devil."
The gentleman no doubt spoke out boldly what many others have thought, but have not uttered. He says, truly, that his method would give employment to the idle; but he seems not to see what so many overlook; viz., that if the workmen of Liverpool or of all England became more efficient than other workmen the world over, and drew the world's business to themselves by fine work at low prices, it would mean the stoppage of factories elsewhere and idleness of their employees, until they had reached a similar or greater skill and lower prices and should reclaim their trade. Meantime, the constant increase of machinery, population and skill would shortly make matters even worse than now, for the unemployed in Liverpool and throughout the world would be intellectually cultured workingmen who would suffer under deprivations more than at present. This very sort of thing has been in progress for the past twenty years.
No, the Lord-Mayor sees not the real cause of the present social distress. It is but the natural travail and labor incident to the birth of a new order of things, incident to the liberating and enlightenment of the race as a whole and the development of inventions, all of which are but preparations for "the day of Christ"--the Millennial Kingdom.
The recent "bread riot" in Montreal, Canada, and on the same day eight mass-meetings of thousands of unemployed men in Berlin, Germany, demanding employment, tell us how wide spread is the present financial depression. Capital refuses to be risked except with profits in
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prospect; Labor refuses to be used on any less favorable terms than at present, realizing that each step lower would not only be permanent, but would lead still lower. The only help is that suggested in the Lord's prayer--"Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." Look up yourself, and lift up the eyes and hearts of others, to the dawn of the Millennium. Through all the present mists behold with the eye of faith the first rays of the promised Sun of Righteousness arising with healing in his beams.
THE RELIGIOUS VIEW.
Zion Associations of Jews are being organized in Great Britain as well as in the United States, their central thought being a National Movement--the re-establishment of a Jewish Kingdom in Palestine. Jewish journals long silent on this subject, if not opposed to the project, are now devoting space in almost every issue to its consideration. We are glad to see this. It is a "straw," pointing in the direction indicated by prophecy. Trust in the Lord and wait patiently for him, and he will bring to pass all that he has promised. But do not expect it before his time, his fixed time. While the time to favor Zion began in 1878, the treading down of the Gentiles will not be at an end until 1914 A.D. The interim, however, will be more and more a time of turning away of blindness from Israel;-- the blindness which happened unto all Israel except the elect remnant, after they as a nation and individually rejected Christ.--See `Rom. 9:27-33`; `10:1-3`; `11:1,7-11,25-32`.
The Pope, desirous of devising some scheme for a basis of agreement between the church of Rome and the church of England, summoned Cardinal Vaughan from England to Rome for conference. The Cardinal gave little encouragement to the proposition, even advising that such efforts would be fruitless; but the Pope is not yet satisfied, and proposes a conference with the Catholic Bishops of Salford, Nottingham and Southwark, whose sentiments are understood to be more in harmony with the pope's sentiments.
One effect will be to draw some of the high-churchmen of England Romeward, while the low-church party will unite with other Protestants in the coming Protestant Federation, from which, however, the word "protestant" will probably be dropped.
The Pope's long expected Encyclical, or General Message, to the Roman church in the United States, has just been made public. Its items of chief interest to us are: (1) It definitely declares Mgr. Satolli the Pope's representative --the United States' Pope. (2) It refers to Protestants here, desires their conversion to Romanism and suggests that Roman Catholics in general win them over by their examples in living the Christian virtues. This is surely a hint in the right direction: Protestants in general would be glad to see some better exhibition of Christian virtues amongst their Romanist neighbors. Should the Pope's advice operate energetically, it would immediately close about three-fourths of the saloons, breweries and distilleries, and vacate about the same proportion of all the jails and penitentiaries of our land. The Pope is right: such an "example" would convert many Protestants, who would gladly forget the shameful history of the past. But Papacy does not possess the truth which sanctifies, and the few real saints who in past centuries belonged to her communion did not really belong to her faith. The Encyclical says:--
"How solicitous we are of their salvation.... Surely we ought not to desert them nor leave them to their fancies; but, with mildness and charity, draw them to us, using every means of persuasion to induce them to examine closely every part of the Catholic doctrine, and to free themselves from preconceived notions.
"Great is the force of example, particularly with those who are earnestly seeking the truth and who, from a certain inborn virtuous disposition, are striving to live an honorable
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and upright life; to which class very many of your fellow citizens belong. If the spectacle of Christian virtues exerted a powerful influence over the heathens, shall we think it powerless to eradicate error in the case of those who have been initiated into the Christian religion?"
(3) It congratulates the church upon its prosperity in the United States, but intimates that liberty is not all that it desires, but, in addition, public patronage, etc. The Encyclical says:--
"For the church among you, unopposed by the constitution and government of your Nation, fettered by no hostile legislation, protected against violence by the common laws and the impartiality of the tribunals, is free to live and act without hindrance. Yet, though all this is true, it would be very erroneous to draw the conclusion that in America is to be sought the type of the most desirable status of the church, or that it would be universally lawful or expedient for State and church to be, as in America, dissevered and divorced. The fact that Catholicity with you is in good condition, nay, is even enjoying a prosperous growth, is by all means to be attributed to the fecundity with which God has endowed his church, in virtue of which, unless men and circumstances interfere, she spontaneously expands and propagates herself. But she would bring forth more abundant fruits, if, in addition to liberty, she enjoyed the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority."
This would be to make matters stand here as they stood in Europe, during the "dark ages," which Papacy recognizes as its Millennium, the present period of progress and civilization under Protestant influences being recognized by them as the "little season" of `Rev. 20:7` in which the devil is loosed in the form of Protestantism.
Many Protestants, while unwilling to return to religious serfdom to Papacy, are convinced that liberty and enlightenment are not always conducive to contentment amongst the masses and would be quite willing to be identified with a Protestant "image of the beast" with sufficient show of strength and authority to awe not only the masses, but also to hold its own against the papal (leopard) "beast,"--still feared even while fellowshiped and fraternized.
But the Lord's program included a new order of things entirely,--"a new heavens and new earth," a new ecclesiastical
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system and a new social system. The present enlightenment of the people and their incidental discontent are merely means toward the great end he has in view, outlined in the Scriptures. "He shall not fail nor be discouraged until he have established justice in the earth."-- `Isa. 42:4`.
A PROPOSED PAN-AMERICAN CONGRESS OF RELIGION AND EDUCATION.
Steps are being taken to hold a general convention of Catholics, Protestants and Hebrews during the coming Summer. The date has not yet been fixed, but July is suggested. It is to last one week and to have two general sessions daily, and ten sectional meetings each afternoon. Seven cities are reported as competing for the privilege of entertaining the convention.
Rev. S. G. Smith, D.D., of Minneapolis, is the President and Mr. S. Sherwin is Secretary. They, with Rev. Dr. Edwards of Chicago, Rev. Dr. Bennett of Akron, O., Rev. Dr. Burrill of New York City, constitute a special committee to decide upon the most desirable time and place. "Secretary Sherwin has started a systematic plan of organization which will be carried out in every state and country by counties." The Congress will invite representatives from Central and South America and Canada. Among those who have promised most hearty cooperation are Archbishop Ireland (Roman Catholic), Bishop Mahlin (Episcopalian), Bishops J. H. Vincent, J. H. Hurst and C. H. Fowler (Methodist Episcopal), and President of the Chicago University, W. F. Harper (Baptist).
How rapidly matters are moving! It certainly seems probable that the Protestant Federation will be an accomplished fact within six years. It will be a fellow with Papacy though distinct from it, as the Scriptures clearly show. The time is short wherein to serve the truth.
AGAINST SO-CALLED HIGHER CRITICISM.
The Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal church have issued a Pastoral Letter to their people, warning them against "seductions to lawlessness," and against the so-called "higher criticism" of our day which threatens to wreck all faith in the Scriptures on the part of those who are misled thereby. The Pastoral has its good points. We quote extracts:--
"We, your Bishops, having been assembled to take order, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for the extension of the kingdom of God, have availed ourselves of the opportunity to meet in council to consider our duty in view of certain novelties of opinion and expression, which have seemed to us to be subversive of the fundamental verities of Christ's religion. It has come to our knowledge that the minds of many of the faithful clergy and laity are disturbed and distressed by these things; and we desire to comfort them by the firm assurance that the episcopate of the church, to which, in a peculiar manner, the deposit of faith has been entrusted, is not unfaithful to that sacred charge, but will guard and keep it with all diligence, as men who shall hereafter give account to God....
"The minute and reverent study of the divine Word must always be necessary and will always be profitable. The time will never come when men will not be obliged to combine the separate portions of God's Word, to study the fashions in which they were given, and to consider the operation of the Holy Spirit, both in and through the sacred writers; and the time will never come when the honest student of God's Word will not require and will not welcome every critical appliance which the providence of God may furnish, to cast new light on the sacred page. It would be faithless to think that the Christian religion has anything to fear from the critical study of the holy Scriptures.
"We devoutly thank God for the light and truth which have come to us through the earnest labors of devout critics of the sacred text. What we deprecate and rebuke is the irreverent rashness and unscientific method of many professed critics, and the presumptuous superciliousness with which they vaunt erroneous theories of the day as established results of criticism. From this fault professedly Christian critics are not always exempt; and by Christian critics we mean those who, both by theory and practice, recognize the inspiration of God as the controlling element of holy Scripture."
After asserting that no discovery of modern research, positively ascertained, is of a character to unsettle a Christian's faith in any particular, the letter continues:
"Any instruction or any study which makes any part of the Bible less authoritative than it really is, which weakens faith in its inspiration, which tends to eliminate Christ from the utterances of the Prophets, or which leads a man to think of miracles with a half-suppressed skepticism, is a pernicious instruction and a pernicious study."
The sound logic of such "Pastorals" will appeal very favorably to a large class of Protestants; and, not having the correct view of the subject, the feeling will arise, would that we had a Pope or a Council of Bishops whose letters to the church would come with apostolic authority. And as the Scriptures show, by and by this desire will result in the general union of Protestants to which the supposed power and authority of the bishops of the Episcopal church will be added as "life to the image."
A REFLECTIVE M.E. MINISTER.
At the January monthly gathering of the M.E. Ministers of Brooklyn, the Rev. J. Rippere of the DeKalb Ave. church astonished the others by the following truthful observation, the force of which seems not to have dawned upon the minds of ministers in general. He said:--
"If the standards of the Methodist church are right, then nine out of ten members are going to hell. We preach and are taught to preach that without holiness and purity no man shall see God. Put that standard up and you must have a Purgatory. Our funeral orations are at war with our theology. Our philosophizing cuts the nerve of our conviction."
We are glad that the brother's eyes are opening a little. Although the first effect of the light of reason is to shock and stagger him, it may do him good eventually, by directing him to the discrepancy between the teachings of his Methodist standards and the true standard--the Word of God.
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The effect of the error upon a thoughtful mind is toward one of two things;--to look about for a Purgatory, or to reduce the meaning of the word "holiness" to a level which would permit everyone not an out-and-out criminal to be considered holy. Such seems to be the effect upon the majority of ministers; for their funeral orations generally send "the ring-streaked and speckled" Christians (as Bp. Foster styles them) to glory and to "see the Lord," and exclude only the blackest of the black goats. As a consequence holiness is at a discount in all the churches, and those who profess to be of the "sanctified in Christ Jesus" are sneered at as Pharisees who would raise the heavenly standard so as to exclude the unsanctified. One of the ministers at the above meeting (Rev. Dr. Poulson) evidently took a very lax view of holiness; for in replying to the above he said, "We may differ as to the meaning of sanctification." But, we inquire, is there any room for difference of opinion on the meaning of such simple English words as holiness and sanctification? And are not the Greek words which they represent of equally fixed meaning? Only such an emergency would lead intelligent men to quibble about the meaning of such simple words, to the
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confusion of themselves and their flocks.
We trust that the Rev. Rippere's eyes may yet open wide enough to see that while only the holy will ever see the Lord, the others will not, as the Methodist standards teach, be roasted and toasted for ever in hell; but that the Millennial age will be the great Purgatory in which with many and few stripes the Lord will "thresh the heathen" and bring all to a clear knowledge of himself, to a correct appreciation of holiness, and to a grand opportunity for reconciliation through the precious blood and for return to God and to perfection by the "highway of holiness" then to be opened up for "whosoever will," who has not had a full opportunity in the present life.
While this subject is fresh in the minds of the Brooklyn Methodists, we think it would be well for the brethren there to see that all the churches are supplied with tracts on the subject--PURGATORY (No. 17), A REPLY TO BP. FOSTER'S NEW GOSPEL (No. 25), and DO YOU KNOW? (No. 21). The Tract Society will supply the tracts freely. Let the light shine!
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THE KING'S HIGHWAY.
UNDER the reign of Sin and Death there is now a "broad road," in which, under the tendency of the world, the flesh and the devil, almost all mankind are walking in a greater or less degree of selfishness and gratification of the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Its grade is downward and away from God. Its end is death, in just harmony with the original sentence of sin in Eden. On it none can retrace his steps so as to return to God. He may stop for a time, or even attempt to return, but the grade is too steep, and the influence and pressure of the crowd irresistible; and soon he is on the downward course again--moving slowly or swiftly.
But there is a way of life, into which the pilgrim may turn. Of it our Lord said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." There is consequently only one way of return-- through acceptance of Christ and obedience testifying thereto. Its gate is Faith, and at present it is a very difficult road to travel, even after it has been found. This gate and way have been open for nearly nineteen centuries. (`John 14:6`.) Comparatively few of the race have ever seen or known of this path; for we are authoritatively informed that "few there be that find it." And the reason for this is given,--"the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them."--`2 Cor. 4:4`.
Here is a marvelous thing! Why does the God of love make the gate to the way of life so obscure that only a small portion of the race have any opportunity of even knowing of it?--and so narrow and rugged that when found many are so discouraged with the prospect that they make but little effort to walk therein, and gradually drift back again into the general current of the broad road?
From the ordinary standpoint--the world's standpoint of ignorance and human speculation--there is no reasonable answer to this question. But from the standpoint of the divine plan of the ages, as revealed in the Scriptures, there is a very satisfactory answer.
The answer is, that God's purpose of mercy respecting the world (which entered the "broad road" through Adam's transgression and sentence) is to deal with it as a whole;--to let all have an experience with the wages of Sin (death), and then through Christ to end the reign of Sin and Death under Satan, and inaugurate a reign of Righteousness and Life under Christ,--the Kingdom of God. Thus seen, the "narrow way" now open (which only a few see, and in which but a "little flock" walk in faithfully when they do find it), is not meant to be the way of life for the race in general. It is provided only for a special class, called variously in Scripture--"the Church of Christ," "the Bride," "the Temple of the Living God," "the Elect" or Select, "the Body of Christ," the "little flock" to which it is "the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom." The gate of Faith is made obscure to insure that those who enter shall be faith-full. The way is rugged and difficult to insure that all who continue in that way faithful to the end shall be "overcomers," --shall be of strong character. The special service for which these are being selected demands that they shall be tried as gold is purified, in the furnace of discipline, that they may be found vessels unto honor and meet for the Master's use, when his time shall come for them, with their
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Lord and Redeemer, as "the Seed of Abraham" to extend the blessing of God to all the families of the earth (the dead as well as the living) (`Gal. 3:16,29`) and when they with him shall be the Kings and priests unto God who shall reign on the earth during the Millennial age, to bind Satan's power (`Rev. 5:10`; `20:1`) and to open the eyes of those whom he has so long blinded and deceived. By these God will prepare a favorable way for all.--`Isa. 62:10`.
WHEN CHRIST IS KING--WHAT THEN?
When our Redeemer shall have taken to himself his great power and established his Kingdom,--after the last member of "the Church which is his body" shall have been perfected and glorified with the Head upon the throne (`Rev. 11:17`; `3:21`),--after the great "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation" shall have swept away present institutions and humbled the pride of man in the dust and brought the world into a teachable attitude, then the Broad-road to death will be abolished and instead the way to death (Second Death) thereafter will be hedged about and made narrow and difficult, by reason of the speedy and just retribution which then will promptly follow every attempted violation of Immanuel's laws. The Narrow way to immortal life will also have terminated, having served its purpose by selecting the "little flock," the "Royal Priesthood," through persecution for godliness and fierce oppositions from the world, the flesh and the devil. Then Satan will be "bound" (restrained from deceiving mankind) and "the world" will be forced to respect at least outwardly the laws and Kingdom of God. The "flesh," the weaknesses men labor under as the result of the fall, will alone stand between men and perfect happiness,--and full arrangements are provided by the Mediator-King for assisting the fallen flesh back to perfection. The way of life will then be a Highway, cleared of every impediment--the Highway of Holiness.
The various arrangements of the Millennial Kingdom will at first make the road to death difficult (to insure that only the wilful shall go by it into the Second Death); and the same Kingdom arrangements will make the way to life easy of access. Its gate of faithful obedience will be clearly seen and easily accessible to all; and its name correspondingly will no longer be the Narrow way, but the King's Highway of Holiness, leading to life everlasting, and open to all who desire righteousness.--`John 10:16`.
As the Prince of Darkness (Satan) rules now over the Broad Road and its blinded millions whom he leads downward to death, so there the Prince of Light (Christ, head and body) will rule over mankind, for whom he will open up the Highway of Holiness, upon which millions will go upward to Life eternal. It is as a means to this end that he is selecting his Church, is causing the great trouble to come upon the world, and will shortly bind Satan for the thousand years of his reign. And, more than this, he will open the blinded eyes that all may see the light of the knowledge of the goodness of God as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord.--`2 Cor. 4:6`.
When Satan no longer has power to deceive men and to put good for evil and evil for good; when the eyes of their understandings have been opened to see and appreciate "the True Light,"--until "every man that cometh into the world" has been thus enlightened (`John 1:9`; `1 Tim. 2:6`); when the knowledge of the Lord fills the whole earth as the waters cover the depths of the sea (all covered, but some more deeply than others); when there shall no longer be necessity to teach, every man his neighbor, saying, "Know the Lord," because all shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest (`Jer. 31:34`); when the Lord's Kingdom shall have come and his will is done on earth as it is done in heaven--instead of the message of the gospel being limited to a few, all will know the plan of God; and the evidences of its truth will be so clear and convincing that none will have excuse for disbelief; for the conditions will be such that doubt would be more difficult than is belief at present. Nevertheless a personal acceptance of "the way" (Christ) and of the conditions of the New Covenant will be required of each individual thus enlightened.
Not only will men learn unquestionably that Christ died for our sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God; but more, they will see and feel the restitution work begun, in themselves and in their fellows. (`Acts 3:19-21`; `Ezek. 16:48-50,53-55,60-63`.) They will see Righteousness ruling the world unto or toward Life, instead of as now Sin reigning and all of its influences tending unto death. They will see great changes in the climate of the earth because "he that hath the power of death, that is the devil" (`Heb. 2:14`), will no longer be "the prince [ruler] of the power of the air" (`Eph. 2:2`), and "the wilderness and the solitary place shall rejoice" and "the earth shall yield her increase" (`Isa. 35`; `Ezek. 34:27`); for the microbes of destruction and disease shall be restrained and "nothing shall hurt nor destroy" in all God's holy Kingdom.--`Isa. 11:9`.
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Sickness and pain and all diseases will yield to the power of the Great Physician upon the throne; and he will not permit death to befall any except those who shall intelligently and willfully refuse his offers of full restitution, by rejecting the terms of obedience required under the New Covenant then open to all. And even these shall be liberally dealt with; for our Lord willeth not the death of him that dieth, but would rather that all should turn unto him and live. Accordingly, while all will be forced to "bow," in at least outward recognition of that Kingdom and to "confess" it a blessed improvement upon the reign of Sin unto death (`Rom. 5:21`; `1 Cor. 15:26`), yet their will must remain their own and their progress in restitution beyond the common advantages will depend upon their willingness or unwillingness to come into accord with that Kingdom and its righteous arrangements. Concerning these we are expressly told by the Prophet, that if still sinners when a hundred years old they will be cut off (in the Second
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Death--destruction--from which there is to be no ransom and no resurrection); but that to die at that age then, would be like a death in infancy now;--because the smoking flax he will not quench, nor break the bruised reed; and all who shall then show any evidence of love and consecration to the Lord may continue to enjoy the Kingdom blessings at least until the close of that Millennial age.--`Isa. 65:20`.
As the Lord now sends seed-time and harvest, sun and rain, upon the just and unjust, so then, to a certain extent (i.e., for one hundred years each), the restitution blessings, that is, the equitable laws and other public arrangements for the education and uplifting of the masses, and the climatic conditions more favorable to health, will be common to all men. But, although plenteous in mercy, the Lord "will not [continue] always [to] chide [correct]; he will not keep [hold back] his anger [his righteous indignation against wilful sin and sinners] forever." "Every soul which will not hear [obey] that Prophet [Teacher] shall be destroyed from among the people."--`Acts 3:23`.
But although the condition of things in the Millennial age will differ greatly from present conditions so as to be almost the reverse, yet the laws of God, like himself, change not: it is merely the conditions that will have changed. God's law, when exercised by our Lord Jesus and his Church ("Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" `1 Cor. 6:2`), and tempered with mercy (because of man's fallen condition for which as Redeemer our Lord paid the price in his own death) will be the same law in every particular that it always has been. It cannot change, for the same reason that God himself cannot change;--because it is perfect, and to change it in any degree would be to make it imperfect.
That law is Love. Full obedience to it means perfect love--controlling every thought, word and deed; partial obedience means a measure of love. At the beginning of that new era the world in general will be loveless as at present--controlled instead by selfishness; for the heart of the natural [fallen] man is enmity against this law of God which represents God's character. When present-day selfishness shall have blossomed and gone to seed in the great time of trouble now impending, it will become apparent to all that, however selfish their hearts may be, their deeds must thereafter conform more closely to the principle of love--doing to others as they would have others do to them. It will thus be with a practical lesson that the new King will introduce the Law of his Kingdom. Then loving deeds and words will be made compulsory upon all, though their hearts (wills) may still be tainted with selfishness; for God does not now, and never will, force the wills of his creatures. But those who at end of the hundred years' of trial remain obstinate in heart, and only obedient outwardly, under compulsion, shall be judged hopeless "sinners," and will be cut off from all further trial for life; for the principle will still hold that, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."--`1 John 3:36`.
"In that day" an intellectual unbelief in Christ and the offer of salvation will be an impossibility (`Isa. 11:9`); for "even the devils believe and tremble;" but belief, in the sense of acceptance of Christ as the Lord who bought us, and hearty obedience to the letter and spirit of his requirements, will be the condition upon which any may obtain everlasting life--provided and intended only for those who love God; which implies a love of his character and his laws.--`Isa. 47:14-21`.
But perfect love and obedience in letter and spirit will not be realized by the world then on trial, until the close of the Millennial age; for perfection of being is necessary to a perfection of obedience; and that entire age will be necessary to the full restitution or bringing back of such as accept the Son to the perfection and divine fellowship lost six thousand years ago. And as from the first moment of the death-sentence Adam and the race were no longer fully alive, but dying, so, although the reign or Kingdom of Life will continue during the entire age to lift the obedient out of death toward life, yet perfection of life will not be attained until the end of the process of uplifting or restitution;* and none will get that grand gift of God except such as are perfected in love--not only in word and deed, but also in the very deepest thoughts and intents of their hearts. Such as thus believe the Son, accept of his grace and are conformed to his image, and such only, shall see life, in the full and absolute sense, and be presented unto the Father perfect and unreprovable in love, when Christ shall deliver up the Kingdom, having thus accomplished the work begun by him nearly three thousand years before, when he bought the world with his own life, that he might give life unto all them that obey him.
But while the giving of everlasting life to the worthy ones of the world will be at the close of the Millennial age, and in the nature of a reward of obedience in the school of Christ, in fashioning themselves after the pattern of the Redeemer's character, yet that everlasting life will be reckoned to each one who accepts of Christ and comes to any degree of heart-harmony with his requirements, from the moment that he thus accepts the terms of the New Covenant.
The various temperaments and various degrees of degradation of fallen men guarantee that their hearty acceptance of Christ and his regulations for their blessing will differ, as is now the case with those who come to the knowledge of the truth. Some will respond quickly, some
*Thus it will be seen that the statement of `Rev. 20:5`, "The rest of the dead [aside from those associated with Christ in the Kingdom at the beginning of the Millennium] lived not again until the thousand years are finished," is a true enough statement when life is properly understood to mean their perfection in life and their acceptance to eternal life by the Father at the close of the Millennium. The fact remains, however, that this clause of `Rev. 20:5` is not found in any Greek MS. of earlier date than the Fifth Century;--nor is it found in the ancient Syriac.
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slowly, some not at all. But the Lord's provision, that all shall have at least a hundred years of opportunity under the clear light of "the Sun of Righteousness" (`Mal. 4:2`; `Luke 1:78,79`), guarantees against the loss of any for whom there could be any hope that they would develop characters fit for an eternity of fellowship with God. Nor will it be merely those who promptly and fully accept the Lord that will be continued beyond the first hundred years of trial, for we are assured that "the bruised reed he will not break, and smoking flax he will not quench." That is, if there is any tendency to hold on, to appreciate and to make use of the divine favors, if there is even a smouldering spark of love toward God and righteousness, the Lord will not break off such a one, but will fan the spark if perchance it might become a blaze of love which would purify the heart and eventually bring every thought into captivity to the will of God. He will pursue this course until "he shall bring forth judgment unto truth."--`Isa. 42:3`.
Those who most quickly and most fully accept the new conditions will more quickly and more fully taste the joys of salvation and the Lord's favor, and have the peace of God rule in their hearts. Thus the measure of "light" sinned against in the present life determines not only the amount of heart-hardening, but also the time and the amount of difficulty the person will experience in getting his heart softened again.*
Those who will be "cut off" during the Millennium will be such as when given full opportunity to enter upon the King's Highway of Holiness will refuse to "go up thereon." Satan's Broad Road of the present time is a downward one, but the King's Highway in the Millennium will have an upward grade. Now, men can go downward to death almost without effort; but to reach the prize of life at the end of the Highway will require effort. That "Highway," however, will require less effort and overcoming than does the "Narrow way" of the present age. It will be less steep, for several centuries may be had for gradually developing character in likeness to the Lord's, whereas now the development must be effected in much less time to constitute the pilgrim an "overcomer" and a worthy associate with the Lord in the throne. Now, there are "stumbling stones" to faith in the "Narrow way," to test the faithful in trust and endurance, and there are "lions" of opposition to threaten, and to turn back discouraged, all except the "peculiar" people whom the Lord is now selecting for the peculiar work of the future, as his Bride; but of the King's Highway it is declared, "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast;" and the stumbling stones shall all be gathered out, and mountains of difficulty shall be leveled, and valleys of despair and discouragement shall be filled up, that the King's Highway may be most favorable;--that all the Redeemed of the Lord (who will accept the gift of life upon the conditions of its offer) may go up thereon to perfection.
*See "The Retributive Character of Divine Law," June 1, '94.
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--`Isa. 35:8-10`; `62:10`; `40:4,5`.
It must not, however, be supposed that progress along that easy "Highway," with everything to aid in the development of character, and with nothing like opposition or temptation to test its strength, would be sufficient evidence of heart loyalty to God and his laws to prove that all who will reach the end of that age, are worthy of everlasting life; even though in the use of its elixirs of life,--its pure air, nutritious foods, inspired skill and conformity to its divine laws and regulations--they shall have attained human perfection,--physical, mental and moral.
The testings of the present "Narrow way" are step by step; but the testings of the King's Highway will be specially two--at the beginning and at the end: first, as to who will start to go upward on it and keep on going upward; and finally a test of all who shall have gone up that Highway to its farther end--to the end of the Millennium. Such will then be tested or proved as to their fitness for everlasting life. (1) Those who, when all the conditions of knowledge and obedience are so favorable (as God has promised they shall be--so that the conditions in general shall make the road to life a Highway), will make no effort upward will be cut off after one hundred years of opportunity and testings and reproof, as unworthy of further testing or further Millennial privileges. (`Isa. 65:20`.) (2) The object of the test of those who shall have gone up the Highway to its farther end will not be to prove which are sinners, either open or covert; for none of them will be transgressors of God's law, the evil doers having been cut off long before, at the end of a hundred years trial; and no doubt it will surprise many of them when they learn that God has purposed their trial at all. What! Test those who for hundreds of years have been living in harmony with God's law, and constantly blessed by it? Are not those centuries of obedience a sufficient proof of loyalty to God? Can any further test be required? And if so, for what purpose?
We answer that their obedience for centuries had its corresponding reward of blessings and enjoyments experienced during those centuries. They are still God's debtors. God does not owe them everlasting life. Everlasting life is a gift of God through Christ: it is one of the things, however, prepared for those who love God, and the test at the end of the Millennial age will be a test of love;--to prove the degree of love and consecration that has been developed as a character in those who have seen and enjoyed so many of God's favors. Not outward perfection merely, but inward perfection will be the test; and that some who will have reached outward perfection will not have developed the inward perfection of heart or will, even with every favorable opportunity, is evident from the results of the test. (`Rev. 20:9`.) So, too, Adam was perfect before his trial in Eden, but he had not developed a consecrated will or character fully submitted to the Lord. Satan was perfect as an angel of God, but he developed a character or will antagonistic to God's. And God's purpose is that the trial or judgment both of angels and men shall be so thorough, so complete, that not a single creature who is not in absolute heart-harmony
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with God and his laws shall receive everlasting life and pass into the ages of eternity beyond the Millennium. All not possessed of characters (wills) in full, absolute harmony with God's will, must die the Second Death. And yet they will have enjoyed much, and will have much for which to be thankful.
In no other way could the Lord continue his creatures in his own likeness as free moral agents, and yet guarantee that when the Millennial reign of Christ shall have caused the former things of sin to pass away, "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain."
Praise God for the lengths and breadths of his great and gracious plan of salvation through Christ;--for the Narrow way of the present with its severe trials and temptations and its great prize of life in joint-heirship with our Lord the Redeemer; and praise him too for the great Highway of Holiness which by and by shall be prepared and opened by the Christ to all the redeemed, that whosoever will may not perish, but have the gift of God, eternal life.
The test at the close of the Millennium is symbolically represented in `Rev. 20:7-10`. Satan will be permitted to attempt to deceive all, whose number will then be as the sand, but what proportion he will succeed in leading astray is not stated.
The Lord's Word does not indicate the nature of the movement, but we do not suppose that Satan and his followers will go up and surround the beloved city (the capital of the earthly phase of the Kingdom) with any thought of war, or with intent to use physical force. They could not be so foolish, after so long an experience with the power of God's Kingdom. We surmise that they will err in their calculation of when the thousand years of Christ's autocratic Kingdom will end, and when the dominion of earth will be restored to mankind in general to be exercised as a Republic --in full harmony with the divine law. Miscalculating the time, they may feel that the rulers of that time (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets) are prolonging their rule unwarrantedly. And the surrounding of the beloved city may signify a "demonstration," or appeal for their rights, such as has often been made by present-day workmen--surrounding Parliament or council chambers with remonstrances against infringements of their claimed rights. Such peaceful remonstrances in the present time against wrongs or oppressions are not sins, but such a demonstration on the part of perfect men after centuries of benefits and blessings at God's hands would indicate that their hearts were not fully submitted to the Lord; for the right hearted would say to such an invitation,--No: we may have been mistaken in our understanding of the Lord's word, or in our calculations of the time;--but if God sees best to continue us as "servants" rather than to grant us the full liberties and privileges of "sons" (`Rom. 8:21`), we will trust the wisdom, love and power which have so abundantly provided for us thus far--even while we were yet sinners--and will not even harbor in our hearts a wish to change any of the Lord's arrangements, much less would we join in any demonstration or protest against the Lord's arrangements.
Only those who under such a test would manifest heart-harmony with God are of the class for whom everlasting life has been prepared as a gift of God. Such will be received and blessed after the test; but the others will be cut off in the second death. If it be objected that these committed no great crime, we answer, neither was the transgression of the perfect Adam a gross crime; but the eating of the forbidden fruit was a disobedience; and disobedience and transgression on the part of perfect beings is a just cause for a refusal to grant such the great boon of life everlasting.
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CHRIST, AND THE MAN BORN BLIND.
--FEB. 24, `John 9:1-11`.--
Golden Text--"I am the light of the world."
THE question of the Lord's disciples (`verse 2`) was the expression of a common opinion among many of the Jews, and one also entertained by Job's friends,--that all suffering is the direct penal result of some personal sin. But this man, having been born blind, they reasoned, must have been so afflicted on account of some sins of his parents.
The Lord, both in this instance and on another occasion (see `Luke 13:1-5`), clearly disclaimed the idea. While it is true that some afflictions are the direct results of personal sins and are the promptly administered penalties designed for the warning and correction of the offender, such is not always the case. This is the age of the triumph of evil and the persecution of righteousness. (See `Mal. 3:15`; `Psa. 73:2-17`; `1 Tim. 5:24,25`.) Afflictions often come upon the Lord's most devoted saints to try them and prove them, to test their loyalty, zeal and faithfulness, and to refine and cultivate the Christian graces and establish character.
In the particular instance of this lesson, the affliction is said to have been permitted for the special purpose of manifesting the power of God through Christ in his recovery. He was raised up blind for this purpose, just as Pharaoh, being a suitable character in which to manifest the power of God in another way, was raised up to the throne of Egypt.
In this illustration of the giving of sight to the blind we have a sample of the great work of restitution to be performed in the Millennial age. Then not only will the blind eyes be opened, but the deaf ears will be unstopped, and the lame man shall leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb shall sing; and even all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and shall come forth. (`Isa. 35:5,6`; `John 5:28,29`.) And not only will the bodies of men be thus blessed, but their minds and hearts will be similarly liberated from the fetters of ignorance, superstition and sin. This is the work of God to be accomplished when the Kingdom shall be established in the earth under the dominion of his anointed Son and Heir.
That great work of his future reign the Lord on this and various occasions illustrated, that through such illustrations the faith of his disciples in this age might be confirmed.
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The statement of `verse 4` calls to mind also the statement of the Prophet `Isaiah (21:12`), to which the Lord evidently referred. The coming night would be one when "no man can work;" and it behooved the Lord and all the
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members of his body, the Church, to make use of the opportunities in hand for doing that portion of the Father's work which is to be accomplished in the present age, before the foretold night cometh.--"The morning [the Millennial morning] cometh, and also the night [the dark night of great tribulation which shall immediately precede the dawning of the glorious day]."
Jesus said (`verse 5`), "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world;" and to his disciples, who were to continue his work after he should leave the world, he said (`Matt. 5:14`), "Ye are the light of the world." Thus through Christ and the Church the light would continue to shine in the world in the midst of its darkness until the predicted night would come, when the world that has loved darkness rather than light shall be overwhelmed by it, and, in the midst of its shadows, reap the fruit of its own sowing.
The means which the Lord used to effect the cure of the blind man had no intrinsic healing virtue, but they served to fix the attention and to test the faith of the man in the great teacher. Had he had no confidence in Jesus he might have despised the means and ridiculed the idea that the anointing with clay and the washing in the pool of Siloam would accomplish such a miracle as the giving of sight to one born blind, and so never have been healed. But the spirit of faith and meekness led him rather to hope and obedience and the blessed result of vision.
Then followed his grateful testimony. How different from the caviling, dishonest disposition of the opposers that stood by. The account of the noble testimony of this healed one fills our hearts with warmest admiration. He bravely faced the opposition, reasoned with the opposers, boldly affirmed his own most reasonable faith, and took the consequences, being cast out of the synagogue.
It was then--in the time of his persecution for righteousness' sake--that the Lord again found him and established and confirmed his faith in himself as the Son of God, the long-promised Messiah. Thus it is ever with those who faithfully endure hardness as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus. The reward of his presence and loving approval is ever with them.
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THE AWAKENING OF LAZARUS.
--MARCH 3, `JOHN 11:30-45`.--
Golden Text--"I am the resurrection and the life."--`Verse 25`.
IN this lesson is brought before us the glorious doctrine of the resurrection--a doctrine which finds no place in any religious system except Christianity, nor in any religious standards of authority save the Bible. While the doctrine of redemption is the central doctrine of the Christian system, the doctrine of the resurrection is the end of our faith, our glorious hope through Christ. Eliminate this doctrine from the Bible, and the Apostle tells us our faith is vain.--`1 Cor. 15:14`.
And yet, strange to say, Christians in general have almost lost sight of this doctrine, as the natural consequence of several popular errors. As the Prophet `Isaiah (28:15`) expresses it, they have made a covenant with death, and with the grave they are at agreement. Instead of regarding death as the Word of God presents it--as the "enemy" of our race, "the wages of sin," they have come to regard it as "the angel God hath sent to carry mortals home," and as a step in a process of evolution to higher conditions. With the idea that the destinies of both the good and the evil are fixed and entered upon unalterably and everlastingly at the moment of death, they have no use for a resurrection, even though they know that the Scriptures teach it and even though a majority of them profess to believe it.
But what saith the Scriptures? Hear the Prophet `Isaiah (28:18`): "Your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with [sheol] the grave shall not stand;...the hail [hard, forcible truth] shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters [of prevailing truth] shall overflow the hiding place [of error]." Even so shall it be in this harvest time of judgment upon "Christendom."
The awakening of Lazarus from the "sleep" of death was but a foreshadowing of the power and purpose of God for the liberating of all the prisoners of Sin and Death in his own appointed time, through Christ and his Kingdom.
When Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus it was in sympathy, not only with his bereaved friends, but also with the many similar scenes of sorrow which must thus afflict mankind before the dawning of the then far distant glorious day of resurrection.
For a fuller exposition of the Bible's teaching concerning Resurrection--"the first resurrection," the general resurrection, the character and the object of each, see our issues of April 1 and Oct. 15, 1893.
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WHAT LACK I YET?
--MARCH 10, `MARK 10:17-27`. (`MATT. 19:16-30`; `LUKE 18:18-30`).--
Golden Text--"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God."--`Matt. 6:33`.
WE have in this lesson an illustration of the great difficulty of getting a full, fair view of one's self. Hence the value of every applied test of character. These tests open our eyes to our real condition of heart as we could not otherwise realize them. Sometimes the test comes in the shape of a searching question which leads the thoughtful to a close scanning of his ways--as, for instance, the Lord's repeated question to Peter--"Lovest thou me?" Sometimes it is a direct showing of the line of duty through difficulties and dangers from which the flesh shrinks; and sometimes it comes in tempests and storms of persecution which prove the heart's loyalty to God and its powers of endurance. But in whatever shape the tests of character are applied to us we have reason to be thankful for their good office in the better acquainting us with our own hearts.
This young man who came to Jesus inquiring, What lack I yet? was, evidently, one who was in many respects very exemplary. From his youth up he had carefully observed the divine law, and had sought scrupulously to fashion his character in conformity to its precepts. And
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now he had heard the teachings of the Galilean claimant to the Messiahship and had observed the testimony of his miracle--the power of God witnessing to the truth of his claims. And, notwithstanding the persecuting spirit of the rulers and teachers in Israel against the Lord and all who believed in the validity of his claims, he came to him openly, saluted him with that reverence due to so great a teacher, and sincerely inquired what he should do to inherit eternal life.
The inquiry, especially under these circumstances, indicated most commendable candor, thoughtful consideration, and realization that by the deeds of the law no flesh had yet gained the life it promised for obedience, and faith in the new and wonderful teacher to show him more perfectly the way of life. All of these were most promising indications of discipleship. "Then Jesus, beholding him, loved him." A life of moral purity, sincerity, thoughtfulness and truth had left no marks of degradation but had given to the countenance that frankness and nobility which always accompanies a transparent character.
The Lord's reference to the law brought the quick response, "All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" He was anxious for a perfect conformity to the will of God; and so anxious that he manifested his willingness to bear reproach for it in thus coming to Jesus. That was a long step in the direction of full consecration to God. His heart was very nearly right; but still there was a lack; his attitude, although he did not realize it, was not that of entire consecration to the will of God; and in answer to his sincere inquiry the Lord sought to show him wherein he lacked, what was the weak spot in his character.
This he did by applying a test which instantly discovered to him the fact that he loved self more than either God or his neighbor; consequently that he had failed to keep the law in those two important principles upon which hang all the law and the prophets--viz., supreme love to God, which manifests itself in singleness of purpose to do his will and please him; and love to the neighbor as to self, which in the present age implies self-sacrifice and daily cross-bearing in imitation of Christ.
"And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved; for he had great possessions." No doubt the heart of Jesus was sad also when he saw the blight of selfishness and self-will attacking that promising half-blown rose of character. A crisis had come in the young man's life which he failed to pass successfully, and thenceforth the beauty of character so far attained must surely decline. We hear nothing of his subsequent conversion, but in all probability he remained in sympathy with the Jewish teachers and partook more and more of their spirit of opposition to Christ and his teaching.
"And Jesus...saith unto his disciples,...How
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hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!" He had been showing the way into the Kingdom --the way, not for this young man only, but for every man who would lay up the treasure of such a hope. Every aspirant to the Kingdom must travel this narrow way of sacrifice, and with one motive of supreme love to God and desire to bless his neighbor as himself. He must go, and sell all that he has and give to the poor, and take up his cross daily and follow Christ. The simple significance of this to all of us is a life of loving devotion to the good of others, along the lines of God's plan and prompted primarily by love to him. "Go, sell all that thou hast"--all thy possessions, all thy time, all thy reputation, all that hitherto has been dear to thee; and then, having dropped all the weights of earthly ambition, take up thy cross and follow Christ; for the labor of love and sacrifice for others will not bring its due reward of gratitude in this age, but, on the contrary, it will bring ingratitude and even persecution, as it did to our Master. But, no matter, "the servant is not above his lord:" like the apostles who followed closely in his footsteps, we should be able to say, "Being reviled, we bless; being defamed, we entreat; being persecuted, we suffer it."
It should be considered also that to follow Christ is not to make unwise disposition of our possessions and talents, but, as wise and faithful stewards, to use them to the best possible advantage in his service. To feed the poor would not necessarily mean to feed the hungry with the bread that perisheth, but first, rather, to feed the spiritually hungry with the bread of life. In a word, it signifies to spend self for the highest good of others, not looking for any present reward, except a sense of the Master's approval.
The Lord indicates that though it is very difficult for the rich to enter into the Kingdom, it is not impossible. With men, it might seem impossible that a man could have riches and use them conscientiously;--be a sacrificer. Riches of any kind--whether of money, or reputation, or friends, or anything upon which the heart has been set, form such barriers to the formation of truly noble characters--after God's own heart--that the natural man, unaided by divine grace, cannot surmount them. But, nevertheless, however insufficient we may feel in ourselves, we need only to remember that "our sufficiency is of God:" it is
"When thy weakness leaneth
On his might, all seems light."
No matter how heavy may seem the cross, how severe the trial, or how weak we feel in consideration of it, if we simply and sincerely surrender ourselves to God, he will carry us through: with him, with his grace and guidance, it is possible for the weakest and the most severely tempted and tried to make their calling and election sure. He will infuse courage into fainting souls; he will apply the balm of his consolation to wounded hearts; he will grant wisdom to him that asketh it; and he will furnish the armor of God to every true soldier of the cross. O blessed promise! With God it is possible to enable even those tempted with the subtle influences of riches of any kind to run the race of self-sacrifice with diligence and patience to the end.
Then let the sincere inquiry of every child of God be, "What lack I yet?" Surely there is none so perfect that he lacks nothing. And when in answer to our inquiring prayer the Lord applies some test to prove our standing before him, let us bravely determine that by his grace we will not draw back; for it is written, "If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him;" and again, "No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God."--`Heb. 10:38`; `Luke 9:62`.
"You cannot manufacture a conscience out of expediency, the voice of conscience says not. It is better not to do so; but--Thou shalt not."
"It is the crushed olive that yields the oil, the pressed grape that gives forth the wine; and it was the smitten rock that gave the people water. So it is the broken, contrite heart that is most rich in holiness and most fragrant in grace."
"We have two ears and but one tongue, that we may hear much and talk little."
"We are in hot haste to set the world right and to order all its affairs. The Lord hath the leisure of conscious power and unerring wisdom, and it is well for us to learn to wait."