VOL. XXV. APRIL 15, 1904. No. 8.
Views From the Watch Tower........................115
Could the Heathen Do Worse?...................115
Dr. Russell Conwel Says Church
is Dying, Slowly but Surely.................116
The Trial of Faith............................116
The Memorial Celebrated...........................116
"Pray Without Ceasing"............................117
"Like Unto Men Who Wait for
"To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice"
Interesting Questions Answered....................126
Los Angeles General Convention....................114
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GENERAL CONVENTION, LOS ANGELES, CAL., MAY 7,8,9.
All sessions of the Convention will be held in Elks Hall, 231 S. Spring St. Visiting friends who desire accommodations secured for them should write in advance their intention to attend, stating the number in each party, the name, color and sex of each individual, and the price of accommodations desired. On account of long distance from Allegheny, applicants for accommodations should address the chairman of Committee direct, viz., Brother F. P. Sherman, 211 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, Cal.
Accommodations can be secured at 50c each for three or four persons in a room and $1.00 each for rooms for single persons or couples.
Reduced rates are available over the railroads on account of "M.E. General Conference." From points within the State of California the rate is one fare and a third for the round trip. Very Low Rates are granted from outside the State. Travellers should enquire for "General Conference Excursion Ticket." Friends arriving over the Santa Fe Railroad can reach hall by Washington St. car; and those arriving by Southern Pacific, should board yellow car marked "Arcade Depot."
Going and returning the Editor will hold several
ONE-DAY CONVENTIONS, AS FOLLOWS:
DALLAS, TEX., MAY 1.--A morning rally at 10 o'clock will be held in the Woodmen's Hall, 349 Main St. The public afternoon meeting will be held at 3 o'clock in Carnegie Hall, Public Library. Subject: "To Hell and Back! Who are there? Hope for the return of many." An evening meeting specially for the interested will take place at 7.30 in Woodmen's Hall.
HOUSTON, TEX., MAY 3.--All meetings will be held in the Auditorium; at 10 a.m., a rally, and at 2.30 p.m. a meeting for the interested. A public meeting will be held at 7.30 p.m. Subject, "The Oath-bound Covenant."
SAN ANTONIO, TEX., MAY 4.--Morning rally, at 10 o'clock, and afternoon meeting, specially for the interested at 3 o'clock, will be held at Red Men's Hall, 219 St. Mary's St. Public meeting at 7.30 p.m. at Beethoven Hall, 418 S. Alamo St. Subject, "To Hell and Back."
SAN FRANCISCO, CAL., May 12. PORTLAND, ORE., May 15. ST. PAUL, MINN., May 19. ALLEGHENY, PA., May 22.
GAZETTE SERMON REPORTS FOR THE POOR.
"Blessed is the man that considereth the poor." A dear friend of the cause, interested in the weekly published discourses by Brother Russell, has handed the Society a sum of money to be used in purchasing Gazettes every Monday and mailing said discourses to such as may request them amongst the WATCH TOWER readers too poor to purchase for themselves. We will do this and stamp each one, using the money so far as it will go. Send in your orders: postal cards will do. If samples of the paper containing the six Eaton-Russell debates are desired, say so.
Others who can pay for their papers are referred to the special "clubbing" rates granted by the Gazette on 3 mos., 6 mos. and yearly subscriptions, etc., in our issue of Feb. 15, page 2.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
COULD THE HEATHEN DO WORSE?
GENERAL Alexel Nicolaevitch Kouropatkin, the famous soldier, upon whom Russia depends for the success of her army in the far east, is said to be the most popular officer in the Russian service, and is recognized as the Czar's best general. He was a boy of eighteen when he began his military career under Skobeleff and participated in all the brilliant engagements in the war against the Bokharans. Kouropatkin did not become well known in the Russian army, says Ernest Haskell in the New York Evening Post, until years afterward, when he was Skobeleff's favorite captain and chief of staff at Plevna, Turkestan, in the conquest of Khokand. Here is a picture of Kouropatkin as presented by the Indianapolis Journal:
"It has been twenty-two years since the capture of Geok Tepe; perhaps Kouropatkin has become less sanguinary with age. But if he should live to be a hundred and in that time should become as mild-mannered and soft-hearted as any humanitarian of the age, he could never live down the memory of that dreadful day. Geok Tepe was a fortress in Central Asia held by the Turkomans and besieged for a month by Russian forces under Skobeleff. Kouropatkin was the active commander, and when at last the stronghold fell he gave orders to give no quarter on account of age or sex. And here he added the crowning touch to the unlovely reputation as a human tiger which he had gained in the Russo-Turkish war.
"The words of an eye-witness give a faint idea of the glories of civilized warfare as exemplified by this famous general. He says: 'The whole country was covered with corpses. The morning after the battle they lay in rows like freshly mown hay, as they had been swept down by the mitrailleurs and artillery. Hundreds of women were sabered, and I myself saw little babies bayoneted or slashed to pieces. Many women were dishonored before being killed. The troops, mad with drink and the lust of fighting, were allowed to plunder and kill for three days after the assault.'"--Literary Digest.
FROM TALK TO ACTION.
"Hitherto Socialism has been a theory. It has been debated by doctrinaires; it has sometimes been applied in microscopic experiments, but never until now has it captured the government of a State as important as Saxony. There is no parallel to it in the history of civilization.
"It would seem to be good policy for the German Socialists to concentrate their efforts on making Saxony an object lesson in the value of their theories. Of course their road is not yet clear. The lower house of the Saxon Parliament is chosen by a complicated system of double election, and most of the members of the upper are appointed for life. Still these paper barriers cannot long stand against a determined popular majority of a hundred thousand. If the Saxon people really want Socialism they can get it.
"Like the other German States and the Empire itself, Saxony has advanced some distance in this direction already. The railroads and telegraphs are public property. The business which in this country is done by express companies, insurance companies and private savings banks is done there largely by public agencies, municipal, royal or imperial. If we should begin now to socialize our business affairs it would take us twenty years to reach the point at which Germany stands today.
"Since the State in Germany now does everything that it can do consistently with the maintenance of the present social system, the advocates of a new social system have no preliminaries to dispose of before putting their own theories to a complete test. They have waded through the shallows of public ownership of public utilities, and the next move must be to strike out into the deep waters of Socialism.
"It seems to be 'up to' the German Socialists to try this experiment in Saxony. A kingdom as populous as Ohio furnishes an ample field for a fair test. The great cotton mills of Chemnitz, the machine shops of Zwickau, the type foundries of Leipzig, the mines of the Erzgebirge, would be impressive examples of socialized industry if they were worked successfully by the State. Probably the success of such an experiment would complete the triumph of the Social Democrats in the German Empire, and it would certainly give a powerful impetus to their agitation throughout the world. On the other hand, its failure would, of course, have a dampening effect on the movement everywhere. But the Socialists must believe that their theories would
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work well or they would not hold them. They have been talking for a good many years with great effect. Now is their opportunity to act."--Literary Review.
DR. RUSSELL H. CONWEL SAYS CHURCH IS DYING
SLOWLY, BUT SURELY.
"In an address which was the feature of the fourth annual meeting of the Baptist Social Union of New York, Rev. Russell Conwel, D.D., pastor of the Baptist Temple of Philadelphia has declared that modern churches are dying slowly but surely, because of indifference of pastors and congregations.
"'The modern Christian Church,' he said, 'is becoming submerged because of laxity. Pastors are growing indifferent, and congregations are all the time becoming smaller. There are too many movements, too many office holders and differing phases of creed. The result is that the parent Church is dying. The only reason that a young man goes to Church nowadays is because he knows that his best girl is there.
"'The Y.M.C.A. is more prosperous than the Church, because it is made attractive by its books and gymnasiums, with a true Christian spirit. With hospitals and colleges the sectarian spirit is waning. Men who make large endowments, as a rule, stipulate that the institutions they help shall be non-sectarian. If the Church is to live we must get back to the first teachings of Christ.'"--Exchange.
THE TRIAL OF FAITH.
"The Edomite saint must have looked into birds' nests when he used the comparison, 'I said, I shall die in my nest.' That is what a good many people say. They build each a nest for himself, and not for a summer, but for a life. They say that they shall die in it after many years of enjoyment of it. But they need the treatment the mother bird gives her young. Her first step is to make the nest uncomfortable. 'As an eagle stirreth up her nest,' she mixes the thorny outside with the downy inside. So God, by his testing providences makes the place of rest one of unrest to us, and thus lures us out to trust ourselves to his care and guidance over untried ways. And so he brings us to a stronger, maturer, more useful life. The wind roots the tree deeper in the soil. The stormy waves cause the anchor to take a stronger grip. There are advantages in disadvantages. Disappointments have proven God's best appointments. Financial ruin has proved a man's salvation. Sickness has brought many highest health.--Dr. G. Hallock.
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THE MEMORIAL WIDELY CELEBRATED.
REPORTS of the observance of our Lord's Memorial Supper on March 29th, its anniversary, have come in quite promptly this year--much to our pleasement. We rejoice to be able to announce that the interest and the numbers reported show quite an increase over those of last year and previously. In a sense the present is the opening of the year to us, as it was to typical Israel. Our remembrance of the Master's sufferings--"the just for the unjust"--and of our debt to him, and of our consecration to die with him in the battle of righteousness against sin, all press home on our hearts and serve to reinvigorate us for a fresh start in the service we love to render, even at the cost of afflictions and self-denials which, with the Apostle, we count but "light afflictions, working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
The letters received from every direction breathe the same spirit of love and devotion, with resolves for the future year, and prayers for the prosperity of the work centered here at Allegheny. We also remembered you all and continually do so in our daily worship. Brethren, continue to pray for us. As the work widens and deepens we need more of heavenly wisdom in connection with its general direction.
Of those already reported the following are those showing the largest attendances: Allegheny, Pa., 366; Altoona, Pa., 36; Boston, Mass., 197; Cleveland, O., 68; Dayton, O., 39; Los Angeles, Cal., 112; Lynn, Mass., 34; New York City, 62; Philadelphia, Pa., 170; Toronto, Ont., 68; St. Louis, Mo., 69; Washington, D.C., 67. We append a few of the letters, remarking that they are samples of all as respects sentiments.
The Church at Allegheny had a most enjoyable season of fellowship with the Lord and fellow-members on the 29th ult. The attendance, 366, was the largest we have ever had--overcrowding our conveniences-- and so far as we can judge all but fifteen partook of the Memorial emblems. The Spirit of the Lord was richly with us at the afternoon session, also, when a baptism service was held. Owing to the fact that at Allegheny we have given opportunities for symbolic baptism on the first Sunday of each month there were fewer baptisms on the 29th than some above reported. That day there were thirteen.
* * *
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:
Sixty-seven brethren and sisters met tonight in Bro. M__________'s studio and partook of the spiritual privileges of the Memorial, as well as the emblems thereof. The number is exactly the same as last year, but since January 1st no less than five faithful ones have entered other fields of usefulness, colporteuring or otherwise. Besides, several were unable to be present. It was a blessed occasion of refreshment as our hearts feasted together in faith upon those verities which the emblems so beautifully symbolize.
We were happy to adopt the suggestions made in Vol. VI. pertaining to the order of the service, in which I enjoyed the privilege of being the leader. Brothers F__________ and R__________ respectively offered our prayers of thanksgiving and praise for the "bread" and "wine," and various brethren shared in other portions of the service, while all were enabled to share in the heart-communion with the Lord.
Your brother in Christ, E. T.,--Washington.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:
The Church in this place and vicinity met last
night in our home and celebrated the Memorial Supper, and thus we remembered him who redeemed us by his blood. 26 were present, who all partook. We rejoiced together that the "unspeakable gift" of everlasting life was reckoned to us by the sacrifice of our dear Lord, appropriated to us by faith, and we pledged ourselves afresh to serve him faithfully, even unto death, saying: "O for such love I would make some return," and realizing that "my humble offering I know he'll not spurn." Within the past year--from Memorial to Memorial-- ten have been immersed and in about a year four of our number have entered the harvest work as colporteurs. The spiritual health of the Lord's people here seems good, if one may judge by the thoughtfulness and loving consideration which all seem to manifest one toward another, and it seems correct to think of Love as the golden reed by which God measures us. Oh, that we may come up to this mark of perfect love!
Your brother in this blessed hope,
D. K.,--Springfield, Mass.
CHAS. T. RUSSELL:
Dear Brother in Christ,--It gives me great pleasure to advise you of the blessed privilege extended once more to the Church at New York of commemorating the death of our dear Redeemer. Sixty-two partook of the emblems of the broken body and shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which sacrifice I am sure we appreciate much more than we did one year ago. May the feast continue until by his grace we shall celebrate it anew with him in his Kingdom. Our dear Brother R-- ably set forth the Truth in detail; the service altogether was very impressive and of great blessing to many.
No doubt you will be pleased to know that fourteen of like precious faith symbolized their consecration at the baptismal service Sunday, the 27th.
Yours in the faith, fellowship and service,
S. Y.,--New York.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:
The Lord's Memorial Supper was celebrated last evening in the vestry of the People's Temple with 197 adults and three children present. The season was, as it has always been, a blessed and impressive one. All or nearly all of the thirty-seven dear ones who were immersed symbolically into Christ last Sunday were present--an object lesson and illustration to the Church of Boston and vicinity of the truth that "he that reapeth receiveth wages." No one had any idea that so many as sixteen brothers and twenty-one sisters were to be baptized, the number being the largest we have ever had, as was also the number partaking of the emblems of our dear Lord's body and blood.
Our hearts are touched as we think of the suffering of our Head and Elder Brother, yet we glory in his great victory o'er the grave, the redemption bought thereby, and rejoice that we are one year nearer, if faithful, to drinking anew with him of the fruit of the vine in our Father's Kingdom. One of our beloved and faithful Elders served the Boston assembly, while the other served friends in another city. A number of the brethren were also with smaller companies in neighboring towns.
With new courage and zeal for the Master's service, I am, as ever, and in behalf of all of the brethren,
Yours in the Beloved, H. A.,--Boston.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:
The friends at this place met at our hall in commemoration of our Lord's death. Each year seems to make this season dearer to us and we can truly say that this one has been the most blessed of all.
We feel more keenly the responsibilities as well as the blessings that come to us through participation in the loaf and cup. There were thirty-four present and the emblems were sent to some who were unable to be present. We are looking forward to that time when we shall drink the "new wine" in the Kingdom with our dear Master.
With Christian love, I am, as ever, yours in the faith, C. B.,--Lynn, Mass.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:
About 170 of the friends gathered in the Church at 10th and Dauphin Sts. this evening to commemorate the death of our Lord. Seventeen symbolized their consecration by immersion at an earlier hour.
All the friends send you Christian love and greeting.
Your brother, H. P.,--Philadelphia.
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"PRAY WITHOUT CEASING"
--`LUKE 11:1-13`.--MAY 1.--
Golden Text:--"Ask, and it shall be
given you; seek, and ye shall find."
WE ARE NOT to suppose that the disciples had never prayed up to the time mentioned in this lesson, when they asked the Lord to instruct them in the matter. On the contrary, we are to suppose that they had, in common with the Jews in general, and in harmony with our Lord's example, been accustomed to go to God in prayer. They seem to have realized that, as our Lord's teachings were considerably different from those of the Scribes and Pharisees on various points, so also his conception of prayer was probably different, and they desired to have instruction on this subject along the lines of his advanced teaching. Several instances are recorded in which our Lord Jesus prayed in the presence and in the hearing of his disciples --a sufficient number to preserve us from the error of some who claim that public prayer is improper. Nevertheless, apparently our Lord's usual method was to go to the Father privately, after the manner he described to his disciples when he said, Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father in secret.
The spirit of this injunction was carried out by our Lord when he withdrew from his disciples into a mountain alone for prayer, and we have several records
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of his spending a considerable portion of the night thus in communion with the heavenly Father. One lesson to us from our Lord's example would be that if he in his perfection needed to have spiritual fellowship and communion with the Father in order to carry on the assigned work, we, his disciples, imperfect according to the flesh, and every way lacking the wisdom, etc., which he possessed, have much more need to look continually to the Lord for the guidance and comfort, the sustenance needed in all the trials and difficulties of life in the narrow way. It is in accord with this that the Apostle exhorts, "Pray without ceasing,--in everything giving thanks."
THE SECRET OF A HAPPY DAY.
We do not understand the Apostle to mean that the Lord's people are to be continually upon their knees, but rather that their hearts are to be constantly in an attitude of prayer, mentally, spiritually, looking to the Lord for guidance in all the affairs of life, and to see that their conduct has the divine approval. This thought of perpetual communion with the Lord, continually looking to him for his smile, continually watching that no earth-born cloud arise and hide from us the Father's face and blessing, is the attitude of the advanced Christian. To such an one every day and every hour is a time of fellowship with the Lord. Whenever business cares, household worries, etc., interfere with such communion it is an evidence that we are being overcharged with the cares of this life, and the difficulty should be corrected: either we should rectify matters by diminishing our business responsibilities, etc., or, if this be impossible, we should counterbalance the cares of life with the more earnest and more repeated turning of our hearts to the Lord for guidance in even the trivial affairs of life, much more in the great ones.
It was probably on our Lord's return to his disciples from such a season of private fellowship with God that they asked him respecting prayer, as recorded in our lesson. Had he been much in the habit of praying with them audibly we may presume that they would have known to take his style of praying as proper copy for their own.
The account of this prayer, as given by Luke, differs considerably from the account given by Matthew, the latter, apparently, being much the more complete statement (`Matt. 6:9`). We are not to understand that our Lord meant, Say ye, but rather, as it is elsewhere given, After this manner pray ye. In other words, our Lord gave, not the words for our prayers, but a general sample of style. We incline to think that our Lord's followers have, to a considerable degree, neglected the style, and, instead of the brief, orderly petition, all seem inclined to adopt more or less of the mannerism which our Lord ascribed to the improper prayer; namely, vain repetitions, as though it were expected that the prayer would be accepted only if it were of certain length. We
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are not to suppose that our Lord spent hours in prayer, and yet used so brief a form as the one here given to the Apostles, but we may reasonably expect that the order which he here set forth would be the one which he observed, namely--(1) The address,
"OUR FATHER, WHICH ART IN HEAVEN."
The term, Our Father, would necessarily be a new one to the Jews, for they were a house of servants. By this the apostles were to understand that, having become identified with the Lord Jesus, they were now privileged to consider themselves sons of God, and he their Father. Perhaps that was one of the particular points on which they desired instruction. They may have heard the Lord Jesus addressing God as his father, and may have wondered whether or not they would be so privileged to address him. This prayer would assure them that God recognized them, not as servants merely, but as sons. This is in accord with the statement made by the Apostle John (`John 1:12`), "To so many as received him, to them gave he the privilege to become sons of God." The term is one of special endearment.
The affection of a true father for his child, being one of the most precious in the world, is used to illustrate the relationship of the Lord's consecrated members to the Creator. It is necessary to be some time in the school of Christ as disciples, learners, before we are able properly to appreciate the meaning of this word Father as applied to God, but the more we come to know of the love of God, which passes all understanding, and the more we are enabled to draw near to him through faith and obedience, the more precious will this term Father become.
(2) "HALLOWED BE THY NAME."
This expresses adoration, appreciation of divine goodness and greatness, and a corresponding reverence. In addressing our petition to the Lord our first thought is to be, not a selfish one respecting ourselves, nor a thought respecting the interests of others precious to us, but God is to be first in all of our thoughts and aims and calculations. We are to pray for nothing that would not be in accord with the honor of our heavenly Father's name; we are to wish for nothing for ourselves, or for our dear ones, that he would not fully approve and commission us to pray for. Perhaps no quality of heart is in greater danger of being blotted out amongst professing Christians today than this thought of reverence for God. However much we have grown in knowledge, and however much we have gotten free from superstitions and errors, and however advanced in some respects is the Christian's position of today over that of a century ago, we fear that reverence has been losing ground, not only in the nominal church, but with many
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of the members of the one "Church of the living God, whose names are written in heaven." Every loss of reverence is a distinct disadvantage, both to the Church and to the world, paving the way to various evils, and ultimately to anarchy.
The difficulty is that ignorance and superstition were the foundation for much of the reverence of the past, and, as the light of Truth dispels the error, only the few receive the precious Truth instead of the error, and real reverence of love instead of reverence of superstition and fear--and even with these the transition sometimes involves loss of considerable reverence. The Lord's people will do well to cultivate this quality, and they will be helped so to do by following the order of prayer which our Lord has here laid down--considering first the will and honor of God as superior to their own and every other interest.
(3) "THY KINGDOM COME."
As God and his glory and honor are to be first in the minds of his children, so their next thought should be for the glorious Kingdom, which he has promised shall bless the world. However much our own personal interests and affairs may be pressing upon us, and however much we may desire to have the Lord's blessing and guidance in them, they are not to outrank our appreciation of his beneficent arrangements which he has so clearly promised in his Word. We are to remember that the Kingdom, when it shall come, will be a panacea for every ill and every trouble, not only for us, but for the whole world of mankind. We are not, therefore, to permit our own personal needs to be too prominent, but are to remember that the whole creation is groaning and travailing in pain together, waiting for this glorious Kingdom and the blessing upon all the families of the earth, which our heavenly Father has promised shall yet come through the seed of Abraham.
This thought respecting the Kingdom, its necessity, and the blessings that it will bring will keep prominently before our minds our own high calling to joint-heirship with our Lord in this Kingdom. And in proportion as that hope is clearly before our minds it will be, as the Apostle explains, as "an anchor to our souls, sure and steadfast, entering into that which is within the vail." This anchorage of hope in the future, in the Kingdom, will enable us to pass safely, and with comparative quiet, through the trials and storms and difficulties of this present evil world. More than this, our thoughts respecting the Kingdom will remind us that if we are to be heirs of the Kingdom it will be necessary that we have the appropriate discipline and training. And so, while praying, Thy Kingdom come, our hearts will naturally think next of the fact that our hopes are that when the Kingdom comes we shall be participators, with our dear Redeemer, in its glory, and in its great work of blessing the world. And in proper order then will come the thought that we must now have the necessary trials, difficulties and disciplines to properly fit and prepare us for the duties of the Kingdom. This thought in turn will make all the afflictions and trials of this present time seem to us light afflictions, knowing that they are working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Thus the very offering of this prayer in its proper order will bring us a measure of relief from our perplexities, trials and disappointments before, in their proper order, we reach these to mention them at the throne of grace.
(4) "THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH, AS IT IS DONE IN
This petition offered from the heart implies that the one offering it has made a full consecration of his will, his heart, to the Lord, and that as he hopes for the Kingdom by and by to come and subdue all unrighteousness and to establish the divine will from sea to sea, and from pole to pole, so now, the petitioner being thus in accord with the Lord's will, and thus wishing that it might be universally in control, will see to it that this will is ruling in his own heart--that in his own affairs God's will is done to the best of his ability in his earthly condition, even as he hopes to have it perfected in the Kingdom. No one can intelligently and honestly offer this petition and not desire and endeavor to have the Lord's will done in himself while on earth. Thus a blessing comes to the one who offers this petition before he has asked any special blessing upon himself or others. The mere thought of the divine arrangement brings a blessing, a peace, a rest, a sanctification of heart.
(5) "GIVE US DAY BY DAY OUR DAILY BREAD."
Matthew's statement is, we think, preferable on this point also: "Give us this day our daily bread." The thought seems to be that of continual dependence upon the Lord, day by day, for the things needed--accepting for each day the Lord's providential care and direction of our affairs. Daily bread should here be understood in the broad sense of food and raiment-- things necessary. The Lord's people, who recognize him as their Father, must trust him as children, while seeking to use the various instrumentalities and opportunities within their reach. They are to provide the things necessary for themselves, yet to recognize the divine provision and care which has pre-arranged matters so as to make their present conditions and blessings attainable. Agnosticism and higher criticism in general may deny, if they please, divine providence in connection with the grains and other supplies for man's necessities; but the eye of faith sees behind these supplies the love of God, and the wisdom of God, and the power of God, making ready for man's necessities, and
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giving the things necessary in such a manner as will be for the advantage of mankind--through sweat of face, etc.
The petition does not warrant us in asking for particular kinds of food and delicacies. Whether our energies and carefulness in respect to life's affairs shall result in temporal prosperity, accompanied with the comforts and some of the luxuries of life, or whether we shall barely have sufficient, and that with unceasing toil, we are to leave to the Lord's providence to direct. The Scriptures admonish us that we are not to be avaricious, but, while "not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord," we are to "be content with such things" as divine providence may grant us.
The child of God on common fare and in common clothing may really be much happier than are some much more prospered in temporal matters. His contentment with inferior conditions arises, not from a less ambitious mind, but rather from his faith and hope and love, which, under the guidance of the Lord's Word, discern that the present life is merely a vestibule to eternity, and in realizing that the Lord is supervising the affairs of his people. So the trials, persecutions, discouragements and disadvantages in the present time will work in them and work out for them preparation of heart, development of character, which will make them meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
(6) "FORGIVE US OUR SINS."
Those who come to God in prayer acceptably must approach him with a realization of their own insufficiency and unworthiness: they must realize that they
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are by nature sinners, and that their flesh is both fallen and weak ("so that they cannot do the things which they would"). Not the Adamic sin, but personal transgressions are here referred to, for Adamic sin, unrepented of and unforgiven, would stand as a barrier so that the supplicant would have no right to go to God in prayer at all until he had thus repented and been forgiven through the merit of the Mediator. He would have no right whatever to call God his Father, but would still be one of the Adamic race--unregenerated. Our coming to God in prayer and calling him Father imply that we have accepted the mediation of the great Redeemer, through the merit of his sacrifice--imply that our sins have been forgiven, that we have been covered with the robe of Christ's righteousness, and that the Lord is no longer dealing with us as sinners.
What sins, then, have we to confess? We reply that all should recognize that their very best efforts in the flesh necessarily come short of perfection--short of the glory of God. Although the forgiveness of sins is not here mentioned as being through the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ, yet other Scriptures clearly show us that this is the only ground of our fellowship with God, --that there is no other name given under heaven or amongst men whereby we must be saved from our sins.
To petition the Lord for forgiveness of sins implies that we are at heart opposed to the sins, and that any sins committed have not been wilful ones; and the Lord, according to his covenant of grace with us, agrees to accept the intention of our hearts as instead of the actual, full, complete, perfect obedience to the divine requirement in thought and in word and in act. This petition, then, signifies that we recognize that the robe of Christ's righteousness granted to us has become spotted or sullied, and that we desire to be cleansed, so that we may again be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. On the contrary, this cannot refer to wilful sins, because, as the Apostle explains, if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, and hence no more a basis for forgiveness; and the end of wilful sin is Second Death. It is, however, proper to remark that there are what might be termed mixed sins--sins in which a measure of wilfulness may have combined with a measure of ignorance or inherited weakness.
In the case of such sins the Lord expresses his willingness to cancel the wrong upon its being properly repented of, but he reserves to himself the giving of stripes, or chastisements appropriate and necessary to his child as an instruction in righteousness, and correction of weaknesses, etc. Happy are they who, with growth in grace and knowledge, find their hearts so fully in accord with the principles of the divine arrangement that they will never transgress with any measure of wilfulness; but blessed also are those who, finding some measure of wilfulness in their deflections from the divine rule, are pained thereby, and who, as the Apostle says, are led to discipline or correct themselves that they may the more quickly learn the lessons, and bring their bodies more completely into subjection to the new mind--"I keep under my body and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."
(7) "FOR WE ALSO FORGIVE EVERYONE THAT IS INDEBTED
Again Matthew's rendering is better: "Those who trespass against us." As we are imperfect and cannot keep the divine law, so likewise others are imperfect. As the degrees of deflection from the divine law vary with the degrees of the fall, so also we must expect that the trespasses of ourselves and others, one against another, will vary, according to natural temperament, weakness, etc. As we realize that we have received, and will still need, divine compassion and mercy in respect to our shortcomings, so the Lord teaches us that
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we must exercise similar benevolence toward our fellow-creatures, both in the Church and outside. Elsewhere he lays down this rule very stringently, that if we do not from our heart forgive those trespassing against us, neither will our heavenly Father forgive our trespasses. Thus the Lord would develop in his consecrated people the spirit of the Father, even as he instructed us, saying: "Be ye holy, even as your Father which is in heaven is holy."
That is to be the standard. However far short of it we may come, we can have no lower standard than that; and in proportion as we are striving for that standard and realize our own weaknesses and imperfections, we should have proportionate compassion upon fellow-creatures and their shortcomings toward us. This is love, sympathy, compassion,--and whoever does not attain this degree of love which will have compassion upon others and their weaknesses, and which would be ready to forgive them and glad to forgive them; and whoever does not succeed in this matter to the extent of being able to love his enemies, so as to even pray for them, that person fails to reach the mark of character which the Lord demands, and he may be sure that his own deviations from perfect rectitude will not be overlooked, because he is lacking the one important quality of love, which covers a multitude of sins of every kind. None, surely, will gain a place in the Kingdom class, in the Bride class, except they have this forgiving quality, this quality of love.
(8) "BRING US NOT INTO TEMPTATION."
We are to remember the words of the Apostle (`Jas. 1:13`) to the effect that God tempteth no man, and we are to apply this thought to the prayer. So doing our prayer will not signify that we fear God will tempt us, but that we entreat him that he may guide our steps, our cares in life, so that no temptation, no trial, shall come upon us that would be too severe for us; that he may bring us by a way in which we will not be tempted above that we are able, and provide a way of escape. when we are sore distressed. The Apostle assures us that this is the divine will, and that such a prayer would be in accordance with it. He says God will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will with every temptation provide also a way of escape. The temptations are of the Adversary, and of our own fallen natures--through our own flesh, and through the weaknesses of others. God is not responsible for these, but he is able to so guide the way of his people that they shall not be overwhelmed in these natural difficulties, weaknesses, besetments, nor by the wiles of the Adversary.
(9) "BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL."
These words are not found in the original, but corresponding words are found in Matthew's record: "Deliver us from the Evil One." There never was a time when there was greater need of this petition than at present. The Evil one is specially seeking to trap and ensnare the Lord's people in the present time, and the Scriptures inform us that God is permitting this, and, in that sense of the word, that he is sending strong delusions--permitting the Adversary to bring strong delusions upon the world and upon the nominal church. Our Father is permitting this because the time has come for a complete separation of the wheat from the tares. He has promised, however, that those who are truly of the wheat class--the sanctified in Christ Jesus, who are seeking to walk in his steps-- shall not be stumbled, shall never fall, but shall have an abundant entrance ministered unto them into the everlasting Kingdom. The question, then, is one of loyalty of heart to the Lord.
The trial of this day shall try the work of every man [in the Church] of what sort it is. It will be so severe that if it were possible the very elect would be deceived; but this will not be possible, because the Lord will specially care for these. Nevertheless the Lord will be inquired of by his people in respect to these matters which he has already promised, and as they pray, Deliver us from the Evil One, they surely will labor in the same direction. It is our expectation that very shortly now the forces of evil will gain much greater strength than at present, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness; and meantime the Lord is staying the adverse forces that his true people may put on the armor of God and be able to stand when the evil day shall come.
FAITH AND HOPE DEVELOPED BY DELAY.
In `verses 5-8` our Lord gives us a parable, showing how importunity might bring an answer from an earthly friend who at first declined a request. Our Lord uses the illustration in respect to the heavenly Father, not by way of implying that God is averse to his people's requests and will only grant them when their comings become tedious to him, but by way of showing what patient persistency men will have in connection with some slight earthly favor desired, and as illustrating how the Lord's people need to be much more solicitous and earnest in respect to the heavenly blessings they desire. Our heavenly Father has good things; he has promised them to us; he takes delight in giving them to us, yet some of them are afar off. For instance, he has allowed his dear people to pray, Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven, for nearly nineteen centuries. Why has he not answered the petition sooner? Why did he suggest that we should so pray, if the answer were to be so long delayed?
We reply that the Lord had a plan, including the time for the Kingdom, already mapped out before he taught us to pray for it; and that the prayer of now
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nearly nineteen centuries, going up from the hearts of his people, have been blessings to their hearts, and have led them to appreciate and long for the Kingdom far more than if they had not thus prayed. The longing for the Kingdom has been a blessing of itself and has been an encouragement, and so we are praying today, more earnestly perhaps than ever before, Thy Kingdom come, because we appreciate the need of God's Kingdom more and more as we get down to the time when it will be ready to be given to us.
ASKING, SEEKING, KNOCKING.
Our Lord's words in conclusion of the lesson are very soul-satisfying to those who have faith: "I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." We have the Master's words for this, but we are to remember the order as already expressed to us in prayer; we are to ask nothing that will not be hallowing and honoring to our heavenly Father's name; we are to ask nothing that would be an interference in any measure or degree with the coming of his Kingdom, or the doing of his will on earth as in heaven; we are to ask in harmony with the divine plan, and to be assured that that divine plan, revealed in the Word and prayed for by us, will ultimately be fully accomplished, and that it will be a most heart-satisfying portion when we do receive it.
The asking, seeking and knocking are to be done by us individually. We may ask the Lord for a share in the Kingdom, and may labor for it, praying his blessing upon our labors; but we may not attempt to direct the divine arrangement and to ask the Lord to specially favor others in connection with the Kingdom. Because some one is related to us and very dear according to the flesh, is no reason why we should conclude that the Lord would necessarily choose such an one for a member of his Bride. On the contrary, we are to preach the Word to such an one, to tell him of God's goodness and grace, and of the Kingdom, and of the blessing, and to encourage him to make a consecration of himself to the Lord; and, in connection with that consecration, we are to urge him to ask for himself, to seek for himself and to know for himself that he may receive and find and enter into the blessed favors of the Lord.
EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT COMETH FROM THE FATHER.
Our Lord appeals to the fatherly spirit in man, reminding his hearers of how they would delight to give good gifts of food to their children, how they would not only not give them something poisonous or injurious when they asked for good blessings, but they would not even give them the injurious things when asked for. Much more is our heavenly Father good, kind, benevolent, and disposed to bless his children. Much more will he give to us the right things. We have thought of this frequently when hearing some of our dear friends praying that the Lord would baptize them with fire, as he promised in the Scriptures. We are rejoiced to think that God, in his goodness, would not answer that prayer, would not take advantage of the misunderstanding of the matter, and answer a prayer which would be so injurious to the petitioner. What they desired was a measure of divine blessing; what they were asking for was the curse, or trouble which came upon the chaff in the end of the Jewish age, and which is again to come upon the tares in the end of Gospel age.
We trust that the Lord's people will more and more cultivate a spirit of prayer, and that so doing they will more and more appreciate their relationship to God as children, and come to him as to a father, with simplicity, with sincerity. We are not at all advocating the thought that is today so prevalent, of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. That false doctrine finds no place in the Word of God. God does not stand sponsor for the depraved race as it now appears. He was the father of Adam in his perfection, but these imperfections, which have come to have so prominent a place in the children of Adam, the Lord declares to be of the Adversary, and to some he said, of his day, Ye are of your father, the devil, and his works ye do. In order to get back again into the family of God, as Adam was, a son of God, before he sinned, it is necessary for us to go by the appointed way--through the merit of Jesus, the merit of his sacrifice for our sins. More than this, having been thus justified as sons on the human plane, we have been accepted in the beloved one to sonship, as New Creatures in Christ. It is from this standpoint that we come to the Father, from this standpoint that we have our fellowship, and from this standpoint that we are hoping, trusting, believing that all things are working together for good to us, because we love God and have been called according to his purpose.
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"LIKE UNTO MEN WHO WAIT FOR THEIR LORD."
--`LUKE 12:35-48`.--MAY 8.--
Golden Text.--"Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh, shall find watching."
FOLLOWING up his instruction respecting his approaching death and resurrection, and after the transfiguration vision which emphasized this lesson to the apostles, our Lord began to explain to them something respecting his second coming and what their attitude should be in the interval. The present lesson
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emphasizes this matter. During the Lord's absence his people were to be continually on the alert; their loins girded would represent that they were to be ready for service all the time--actively engaged in promoting the interests of the Kingdom. According to the custom of that time, loose, flowing garments were used, and the girdle at the waist drew these into proper place so as to permit of the ordinary services of life. When rest was sought the girdle was loosed. Consequently the lesson of the figure is constant activity on the part of the Lord's people during his absence from us. We are not to become charged with the cares of this world and slumber and sleep, and thus refrain from attending to the duties properly devolving upon us.
Each one of the Lord's servants is represented as a light bearer, and instructed to let his light so shine before men that they, seeing his good works, may glorify the Father in heaven. The picture is that of general darkness, ignorance, superstition and sin in the world, while the Lord's disciples have been granted the light of divine revelation and wisdom and understanding, which not only transforms them and makes of them New Creatures, but also shines through them unto all with whom they come in contact. "Ye are the light of the world." A suggestion is here in place, namely, that the Great Light, the glorious sunrise of the Millennial morning, has not yet taken place; the Lord's people are still in the world as little lights, shining in the midst of general darkness and watching and waiting for the morning. The Prophet's words were in line with this when he said, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." This night time of darkness and ignorance and sin began with the curse of death, which came upon our race through father Adam's disobedience, and the whole creation is groaning and travailing together, waiting for the morning, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God --Christ Jesus and his brethren, his joint-heirs in the Kingdom.
Our Lord gave a parable to illustrate the alertness and attentiveness that should characterize his followers. Amongst the Jews there would be no occasion on which the servants of the household would be expected to be more alert or to manifest more interest in the welfare of the household than on the night or morning on which their master would come to his home bringing with him his bride. And so the Lord chooses this as an appropriate illustration of the alertness that should characterize his followers while waiting for his second coming. As a matter of fact, the servants in this parable are the bride of another parable, but represent the matter from another standpoint. The sole lesson here is that diligence in service, that watchfulness for the interests of the Master's cause, that faith in his promise to return and expectancy of the event, serve as an aid or stimulus to proper service. When the master of the house should arrive with his company it would be a reflection against the interest of his servants and their love and devotion for him if on such an occasion they were found asleep or otherwise than ready to open the door at the Master's intimation of his arrival.
IF THOU WILT NOT WATCH THOU SHALT NOT KNOW.
The parable implies that at our Lord's second coming he will have arrived before any of his faithful servants will be aware of the fact. His presence will be made known by the knock, and the knock would correspond to an announcement, through some special servant or servants, either orally or by the printed page, setting forth the evidences of the Master's presence. For instance, the publishing of time prophecies showing that the time is fulfilled--that certain prophecies marking events belonging to the close of the Gospel dispensation and the opening of the Millennial dispensation are accomplished, and that certain signs mentioned in the Scriptures are fulfilled--such testimonies are in the nature of a knock, which would be heard by such of the servants of the Lord as would be awake at that time. It is not for the servants in general to do the knocking, but for the Master himself to set in operation the forces and agencies he may choose to use for producing this knock and the announcement.
A blessing is promised to those servants who at that time shall be on the alert and hear the knock and understand it, and welcome the Master. `Verse 39` shows quite distinctly that none except the servants are to appreciate the knock--that the world in general will not know of the time of the Master's return, but only his servants. No particular time for the Master's coming is set, but the intimation is clearly given that it is not for them to know the times and seasons, but
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for them to be on the alert continually, not only during the first watch, but during the second and during the third, that at whatever time the Master's knock may be heard they may respond promptly. It is not the thought, let it be noticed, that the servants are never to know when the Master will come: it is the thought that on his arrival he will cause such a knocking to be made as will be appreciated by all of his servants who are awake and waiting and watching. Wherein would be the use of the knock if the servants were not to know when they heard the knock? The knock is to be the evidence of the presence, and the servants are not to know in advance, but are to know at the time of the arrival and that without seeing.
THE MASTER WILL SERVE HIS SERVANTS.
What will be the special reward of these servants? The parable states it: their Master will "gird himself [he will become their servant] and will make them to
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sit down to meat and will come forth and serve them." This implies that at our Lord's second coming he will be present before any of his servants know of his arrival. He will knock or cause announcement of his presence to be made. Those who will hear the knock will be such only as are awake and ready, expecting him and on the alert for the knock. These will receive a special spiritual feast. It will be special because it is on a special occasion and intended as a special reward for their manifestation of interest and devotion. It will be special also, because the Master of the household, turned to be its servant, would have all the keys to all the riches of grace and blessing, and, as elsewhere explained, will bring forth from his treasuries--his pantries --things new and old, substantials and delicacies. The faithful ones will surely have a royal feast, such as never before was granted them.
These things, we hold, have already been fulfilled. The knock, or proclamation of the Lord's presence, as indicated by the Old Testament prophecies, has been given since 1875 and is still being given. The knock of the parable might appropriately be but for a few seconds, but the fulfilment would properly cover a period of years. The servants of the household are taking notice, and each one as he opens his heart and mind to the fact of the Lord's presence receives a fulfilment of the blessing promised--receives a feast of fat things, spiritual--an understanding and appreciation of the divine plan and a soul nourishment and strengthening such as was never his before. That this serving of the servants by the Master should be understood to be an individual work and not merely a collective service and feast, is evidenced by the Lord's statement in `Revelation 3:20`. Here the Lord represents the same event in connection with his message to the last phase of his Church nominal, the Laodicean phase. He says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man [individual] hear my voice [knock] and open the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me."
"A THOUSAND YEARS...ARE AS A WATCH IN THE
According to the ancient Jewish method of reckoning the night time, the second watch would be from ten to two o'clock and the third from two to six o'clock. The parable does not state in which watch the Master may be expected. That question was left open; the faithfulness of the servants would be tested in proportion to his delay. Many would find it easy to keep awake and alert during the first watch, not so many during the second watch and still fewer during the third. It is in accord with this implication of the parable that we find today general lethargy prevailing amongst Christian people respecting the return of the Bridegroom and the glorious things of the Kingdom then to be brought unto his faithful household. Many are asleep in Zion, many are overcharged with the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. Not only have worldly people made a god of business, money and pleasure, but many who are at heart lovers of righteousness and who desire to be considered servants of the Lord, are seriously overcharged--absorbed in worldly things. Their hearts are so filled with these and their minds so occupied with dreams of Churchianity and pleasure and personal interest that they cannot hear the knock. They know not of the Master's presence; they open not their hearts to this wonderful announcement, for which the Lord's people have waited so long and prayed so earnestly, "Thy Kingdom come." They are missing, as a consequence, a great blessing implied in our Lord's parable, and definitely stated in Daniel's prophecy--"O, the blessedness of him that waiteth and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days."--`Dan. 12:12`.
HIS PRESENCE UNKNOWN TO THE WORLD.
"But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through."
The reference here is to a thief-like coming, and the Greek word, translated broken through, would mean literally "dug into." Many of the houses of olden time were not built of stone or bricks but of dried mud, somewhat like what are known as adobe houses in some parts of the West and in Mexico. Entry into such houses could be gained more quickly by digging through the wall than by forcing the door. The goodman of the house or its master does not refer to the Lord, for the house referred to is the "present evil world"--the social structure as at present organized. It is not necessary to conclude that Satan is meant, although he is in a general way the master of present institutions, "the god of this world," the "prince of this world." We may properly enough understand the goodman of the house to here signify earthly governments, the powers that be, the representatives of the ten toes of Daniel's image and of his fourth beast.
This matter of the second coming of the Lord and the knock which will be heard by those of his servants who are awake, but not heard by his servants who are asleep and overcharged, will be totally unknown to the world. To them his presence will not be that of a master longed for and served, but that of an opponent whose house they have in his absence taken possession of and used contrary to his interests. These, if they knew the time of his coming, would have fortified themselves in some manner and have sought to defend present institutions and to perpetuate them.
The coming as a thief upon the world signifies a
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quiet coming, unostentatious, unknown, without heralds or any commotion likely to disturb. The breaking up of the strong man's house--the breaking up of present institutions, civil, religious, political, financial-- is already under way, just as the knocking for his servants is in process. The entire social structure is under control of the new Prince. He is marshaling his forces, and will cause even the wrath of man to praise him and to work out his purposes in the overthrow of every known institution built upon selfishness. Great will be the fall thereof--"a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation"; but upon the ruins the King of kings and Lord of lords will rear the grand Kingdom of the Lord, for which all who are his already pray, "Thy Kingdom come," and which, when it shall come to be instituted by the Lord, will be indeed the "desire of all nations."--`Haggai 2:7`.
"IN SUCH AN HOUR AS YE THINK NOT."
The essence of this lesson is summed up in the `40th verse`, "Be ye also ready; for in an hour ye think not the Son of man cometh." No one will be aware of the hour of the Son of man's coming; it is not a matter that is left in such a form as to be speculated upon in advance. His knock will be the first intimation of his presence. And so it has been fulfilled: none of us knew in advance when the Lord's coming would take place; it was after it had occurred that we heard the knock-- his voice through the prophets of the Old Testament, declaring to us that we are already in the harvest time and in the days of the presence of the Son of man. Here we have fulfilled the words of the Lord in `Matthew 24:37`, "As the days of Noah were, so shall also the parousia [presence] of the Son of man be." The text shows that the thought is that as the world was ignorant of coming events in Noah's days, and, being ignorant, was eating and drinking and planting and building, so it will be in the days of the presence of the Son of man: the world will be ignorant of the fact of his presence, and the ordinary affairs of life will be progressing as usual. Only "ye brethren" who hear the knock will discern the presence and get the blessing.
Peter inquired whether or not this parable was applicable only to the twelve apostles, or to all those who were disciples in a general sense. Our Lord measurably ignored the question in his reply, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward whom his lord shall set over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?" The implication seems to be that when the right time should come for understanding the parable, it would be clearly set forth: that at the time of the parable's fulfilment the Lord would appoint a servant in the household to bring these matters to the attention of all the servants, and that certain responsibilities would rest upon such a one respecting the dispatch of his duties. If faithfully performed a great blessing would be his reward, and if unfaithful to his charge severe penalties would be inflicted. The implication would be also that if faithful the servant would be continued in his service, and if unfaithful he would be dismissed and another take the position and its responsibilities.
"THE FAITHFUL AND THE WISE STEWARD."
We would naturally enough endeavor to interpret our Lord's words as signifying a composite steward-- that is that a certain number or class of brethren together would constitute the steward of this parable. In endeavoring to make such an interpretation we are
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met with several difficulties, however.
(1) To suppose such a class in the Church would be to recognize what is elsewhere denied--to recognize a clerical or authoritative class as distinct and separate from the remainder of the Church, because this steward is to dispense the meat in due season to the household, to the fellow-servants. The Church of Christ, we hold, is not composed of clergy and laity, but "ye are all one in Christ Jesus, and one is your Master, even Christ." There would be no violation of principle, however, in supposing that the Lord at the time indicated would specially use one member of his Church as the channel or instrument through which he would send the appropriate messages, spiritual nourishment appropriate at that time; because at various times in the past the Lord has used individuals in such a manner. For instance, Peter used the "keys" of the Kingdom of heaven at Pentecost, and again at the home of Cornelius, and in both places he was used as a special servant in connection with the dispensing of special truths. This did not constitute Peter a lord over the other apostles or over the Church, but merely a servant.
(2) However much we might endeavor to apply this figure to the Lord's people collectively, the fact would still remain that the various items stated would not fit to a company of individuals. For instance, in the `42nd verse`, in the common version it is rendered, that faithful steward; the revised version, the faithful steward; as though a particular one were meant and the term not used indefinitely for a number. Turning to the Greek text we find that the emphasis is there also and in double form--the faithful, the wise steward. If it were a case in which we could apply this text to Christ, there would be no difficulty, or if it were a case in which it could be applied to the whole body of Christ, there could be no difficulty, in harmonizing the one with the many members of the one body of Christ; but since the servant mentioned is to dispense food to the other members of the body, his fellow-servants, the term seems to be limited to some particular individual. However, just as we said of Peter, that he was not by reason of special use made a lord over the brethren, so we say of whoever is meant
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in this passage, that in no sense of the word would this constitute him a lord, or dictator or master, or imply his inspiration. All that we could say would be that it would be one who would be privileged to be a servant, and not many seem anxious to fill such a position in the true sense of the word. This servant, if found faithful, would be intrusted more and more with the distribution of every feature of Present Truth as represented in the parable, by his being given the dispensing of the food in due season to the household. Unfaithfulness on the part of this appointed one would mean his degradation from this service, and presumably the service would go on at the hands of another, his successor.
The expression, "Verily I say unto you, He shall make him ruler over all his goods," should not be understood to apply to future glories and honors, but merely to a more general charge or stewardship as respects the dispensing of the Lord's "goods" or truths due to be protected or disbursed during the remainder of this "harvest" time. In other words, the steward through whom the Lord will dispense Present Truth in this "harvest," will, if found vigilant, humble, faithful, be continued in the stewardship and be used of the Lord more and more in the service of the household-- down to the close of the "harvest."
"NOT AS LORDS OVER GOD'S HERITAGE."
That this servant must not act or be regarded as a lord is clearly indicated in the `45th verse`, which shows that such a misuse of his appointment would work his downfall. At no time has the Church ever had need to be on guard against its servants who really endeavored to serve it and to hand forth from the Lord's treasure house the meat in due season. The Church's dangers have always arisen from those who sought to lord it over God's heritage, and to dispense their own wisdom or the wisdom of other men instead of the Word of the Lord.
`Verses 47,48`, seem to imply that the servant's responsibility to the Lord will be in proportion to his knowledge of the Lord's will; and that the Lord will deal with him on the principle that having had much knowledge and opportunity, the requirements at his hands will be proportionately large.
While this exhortation in general seems to apply to one particular servant through whom the other servants are to be supplied (see `Matt. 24:45-51`), we can see that the same principles in a general sense would apply to each servant in turn, as he would receive either food or stewardship. His responsibility would be in proportion to what he received or had opportunity to receive, and to the manner in which he used the blessing. We of today, living under such great favor from the Lord, enjoying the light of Present Truth as we do, have every reason to give thanks and more and more to appreciate the things new and old from the Master's storehouse of Truth that he is now dispensing to us, and which each in turn is privileged to dispense to others and has responsibility for in proportion to his knowledge. The Lord help us each to be faithful, and to remember that our Lord was a servant as well as a Son, and that our highest privilege as sons is to be faithful servants, stewards of the manifold grace of God.
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"TO OBEY IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE"
Obedience to the Lord our God
Is what he doth require;
He looketh not for sacrifice
Without his Spirit's power.
The light of Truth that shines from God
And shows to us his way,
Reveals the path wherein to walk
While in this house of clay.
If God's great plan in vision speaks,
As prophets said it would,
Oh, may we heed its welcome voice
And be among "the good."
Pray, do not compromise the Truth;
Oh, sell it not, my friend:
Obedience doth our God require
Until our course shall end.
If faithful to our trust on earth
And hold "the faith" once given,
Then will our Master say, "Well done!
Come thou, and enter heaven."
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INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED
CONCERNING BAPTISM OF JEWS.
Question.--Would a Jew coming into Christ today symbolize consecration just as do Gentiles, or would his baptism signify repentance for remission of sins, as per `Acts 2:38`?
Answer.--The special favor of God toward natural Israel as a nation ended at the time of Christ's rejection when their house was "left desolate." A personal favor continued with the true Israelites for a further 3-1/2 years to the end of their covenanted 70 weeks of years. It is possible that some sort of special favor continued with this class until the full end of the Jewish "harvest," A.D., 69, but certainly no longer.
The Apostle Paul refers to this change, saying that
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"the middle wall of partition" between Jew and Gentile had been broken down. It follows, therefore, that Jews could not now come into relationship with Christ on any other terms than could Gentiles. As natural branches they are "broken off," and would require re-engrafting just the same as would the wild-olive branches.-- `Rom. 11:19-24`.
Question.--Was there any difference between the immersion of John and that mentioned by Peter (`Acts 2:38`)?
Answer.--Yes; John's preaching of repentance was merely an exhortation to renounce sin and prepare for a coming Messiah. The exhortation of Peter was to repent of sin, because the Messiah had come, and the sin to be repented of included the national sin of rejecting Messiah and crucifying him; hence, of the latter it is said that it is a baptism in the name of Jesus.
Question.--In `Eph. 4:5` we read that there is "One Lord, one faith, one baptism." How does this agree with the thought that the Jews were immersed for the remission of sins, whereas the Gentiles were immersed into Christ?
Answer.--The one baptism is not the symbolic one, but the actual one, viz., the burial into Christ. This, in the case of those who are Gentiles, signifies a full consecration and full burial into the will of Christ; but this same baptism to the Jew would mean a transfer from Moses to Christ, from being dead in Moses to being dead in Christ. The sin of violation of the Jewish Law Covenant being repented of and forgiven, the Jew who was under that covenant is thenceforth counted as being under the New Covenant, and to him the outward form or symbol of baptism would mean a repentance from the works of the Law and his failure under the Law Covenant, and his acceptance in Christ, the new Mediator of the New Covenant. To us who are by nature Gentiles there can be no such repentance from the dead works of the Law, for we were never under that Law, and there can be no such transfer from Moses to Christ, because we never were in Moses.
Question.--Does `Rom. 10:12` have any bearing on this question? "There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him."
Answer.--It has a bearing, but not as contradicting the foregoing. There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek when both have come into Christ--thenceforth they are on the same plane, on the same footing; but there was a difference in the way the Jew and the Greek properly attested their coming to Christ at the opening of this Gospel age.
Question.--Was the re-immersion mentioned in `Acts 19:3-5` made necessary because the persons were Gentiles, and had symbolized their baptism in a manner appropriate only to the Jews?
Answer.--We think it was, for the latter reason.
HOW DOES THE ANTITYPICAL SCAPEGOAT CLASS BEAR
THE SINS OF THE PEOPLE?
Question.--What is represented in the typical confession of sin by the high priest over the "scapegoat" in the Tabernacle sacrifices, as recorded in `Lev. 16:20-22`.
Answer.--We understand that this goat represents a consecrated class which fails to perform sacrifice; and that its being sent into the wilderness at the hand of the "fit" man represents that all the consecrated who have not sacrificed their lives according to covenant, but who
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have, nevertheless, not repudiated the Lord, will be brought, in the time of trouble approaching, into such straits that they will be forced either to deny the Lord or to lay down their lives for the Truth. But since this laying down of life will be in a sense compulsory, it is not reckoned as being a "sacrifice" but a "destruction of the flesh." Here your inquiry comes in, Why does the high priest confess over this class certain sins which have already been atoned for by the blood of the bullock and the blood of the goat? We reply that sin may be considered from two standpoints: First, as the divine condemnation, which cannot be liquidated by the sufferings of the transgressor, but which must be met by the atonement sacrifice of the great High Priest, Head and body. Second, there is a retributive operation of divine law amongst men which brings upon the sinner a measure of suffering for sins. This latter, we believe, is represented in the sufferings of the scapegoat in the wilderness. As the Lord charged up against the living generations of Jews at the first advent, who had the light and knowledge peculiar to their own day, and who sinned against this light and knowledge, and required at the hands of that generation all the blood shed from Abel down, so we understand that, similarly, there is a great responsibility in God's sight resting upon those who today constitute nominal Christendom, who are nominally children of the Lord and tethered at the door of the tabernacle. At the hands of nominal Christianity today will be required much, for if nominal Christendom entire were consecrated to the Lord there would be no necessity for the time of trouble to come at all, but the Lord might come and set up his Kingdom amongst a willing people without the necessity of overturning present institutions in a day of wrath. Consequently, when the day of wrath comes, it will be but the just recompense, and the divine wrath should be fully manifested upon and toward this nominal class.
RESPECTING `DEUTERONOMY 29:29`.
Question.--Please make some comment on `Deut. 29:29`.
Answer.--We understand this to mean that the Lord's people are to be careful to study and obey all that the Lord our God has commanded, searching diligently to appreciate it as it may become due to be understood. There are questions, nevertheless, respecting which the Lord has made no particular revelation, and we are to avoid the waste of time in considering those things, and to realize that had they been important for us to know the Lord would have revealed them in his Word. This is in harmony with the Apostle's statement, "All Scripture that is given by inspiration of God is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work." These assurances of sufficiency of the meat in due season to the household of faith should not only relieve us from anxious thought on outside lines, but should make us suspicious of anything and everything that is being taught that is additional to the Scriptures, as well as contrary to them.