VOL. XVII. SEPTEMBER 15, 1896. No. 18.
View from the Tower...............................215
Poem: Abide in Me.................................218
Some Better Thing for Us..........................218
Thy Light is Come.................................220
Questions of General Interest.....................221
Bible Study: Wholesome Counsel....................223
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THE CHART OF THE AGES.
IT IS five feet long, of heavy, tinted cloth, with spring roller, having painted thereon, by a good artist, the outlines, etc., of the divine plan of the ages, the same as represented by the diagram in the front of MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. 1. Ordinarily it would cost about five dollars to prepare such charts; but by giving large orders in the dull seasons we can supply them at one dollar and fifty cents each.-- and we prepay the expressage. The painter has just completed a new lot, and we are prepared to fill all orders. To foreign countries at same price.
A careful study of the "Three Discourses on the Chart" will enable many of the friends of the truth to explain the chart, and the divine plan there symbolized, to their friends and neighbors. These three discourses are published in pamphlet form, bound in leatherette, at 10 cents per copy, postpaid. Every one who has a chart should also have this pamphlet. Later on you will be able to present other features, finding help in MILLENNIAL DAWN, each chapter being a discourse.
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FLORIDA LAND FREE--NEAR THE TRACT SOCIETY'S
Some of the brethren own considerable land in Florida (a portion of which was some time ago donated to the TRACT SOCIETY and sold by it and the proceeds used in spreading the truth). These brethren wish us to say for them that,--
They have no desire to withhold this land from those who would wish to settle on it and cultivate it, but who cannot afford to purchase. They therefore make an offer of a ten-acre plot (sufficient for an early-vegetable farm there) free, to actual settlers.
This land is in the healthiest part of Florida--between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, close to the railroad and within four to eight miles of St. Petersburg, which has one of the finest harbors in Florida. The atmosphere there is so pure that fresh meat hung in the open air will not spoil in the hottest weather.
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
WE are frequently reminded of the words of the apostles relative to the insidious attacks of Satan that would come upon believers in the last days of this age, as we witness his attacks not only upon every servant of the truth, but also upon the truth itself --the Word of God. What a comfort we have in the assurance that all the true "sheep" will hear and know the Shepherd's voice, and that none shall pluck them out of his hand,--that the "very elect" shall not be deceived. How this should and does stimulate us to press for the mark of character development which will make our calling and election sure.
Satan seems to know that these attacks will be all the more forceful if they are apparently scientific discoveries, etc., and so he operates along that line. Thank God,--"We are not ignorant of his devices." For instance, Spiritism and Christian Science, having captured their thousands and gotten well established are continued, while other signs and wonders are introduced under the name of Theosophy (already described in these columns); and now later Hypnotism is introduced, not as a religious but as an occult power which will inferentially corroborate and endorse Satan's pseudo religions and discredit the teachings of the Scriptures. Thus, for instance, the visions and revelations granted of the Lord to some of the apostles and prophets (`Dan. 7`; `2 Cor. 12:1`; `Eph. 3:3`; `Rev. 1:1,10`) are, by the powers of Hypnotism, made to appear very ordinary, such as may be had by any one who will be put by himself or by a professional into a cataleptic sleep or trance. This, because professing to be non-religious, scientific, will catch some who instinctively fear the trance-mediums and clairvoyants of Spiritism; and yet it will surely pave the way to the latter, and away from God's Word which condemns it and everything akin to it--witchcraft, etc.
One of the latest feats of Hypnotism was the simulation of our Lord's death and resurrection. This was performed both in Europe and in the United States. Hindu Theosophists by the power of Hypnotism put one of their number asleep in London in a coffin, with the understanding that he would be awakened after three days in Vienna, whither, with guards, etc., the coffin was conveyed. On the third day at Vienna the coffin was opened and the fakir found apparently dead. The rigid form was taken from the coffin and placed upon a table, where, to demonstrate that the subject was wholly unconscious, needles were thrust through his flesh, but brought no sign of consciousness. Finally, at the command of the chief Hindu fakir, the hypnotic spell was broken, the man's consciousness returned, and, with manifestations of pain from his long cramped position, he got up and ate and went about his business.
Thus, without directly attacking the Bible account of the awakening from the sleep of death of Lazarus, and Jairus' daughter, and the son of the widow of Nain, their influence is offset by these modern "strong delusions" to "believe a lie." (`2 Thes. 2:11`.) Nay, more; it goes farther and would even discredit or cast into the shade the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
Similar was the demonstration which took place in the United States, only still more realistic; for the subject was not only put into a death-like sleep, but was actually buried under three feet of earth through which
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a wooden pipe permitted air to reach the subject, and down which the public looked upon the buried man's face. The New York Journal (Aug. 30, '96) publishes an illustration of the grave, its occupant, and the public gazing down upon him, together with the subject's own account of the matter, and of his feelings, etc.; and the Editor introduces it in the following words:--
"John D. Wyatt has just been resurrected at Indianapolis, Ind., after being buried alive at his own request for three days. No fancied grave was his, for though in hypnotic sleep, he was actually buried under four feet of earth. It was a marvelous experience. No man ever endured one like it."
It is claimed that ere long the public will become accustomed to hypnotic phenomena by their introduction through dentistry, where it will be used in a manner calculated to support the claims of "Christian Scientists," that there is no such thing as pain, but merely an imagination thereof.
Truly, the great Adversary is being permitted to prepare "strong delusions" for those who, having been brought in contact with the truth, either resist it or, by failure to follow the true light loyally, show that they are unworthy of it, "that all might be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." --`2 Thes. 2:11,12`.
* * *
Another illustration of Satan's subtle workings is found in the claimed "latest discoveries of science." For two centuries science has been making discoveries which it has claimed completely overthrow the reliability of the Bible narrative; but as often have these scientists been compelled to admit that they have erred. The fact is that scientists are usually infidels, if not openly, then of the "higher criticism" type, who have little respect for the Bible, and who are on the lookout to secure world-wide fame by finding and promulgating something which would do what other scientists had tried to do but failed; viz., to cast discredit on the Bible. It is not remarkable that being thus prejudiced against the Bible, these worldly-wise scientists, going about to disestablish God's Word, and seeking honor one of another, and not submitting themselves to the guidance of faith in their researches, will, in the future as in the past, frequently "believe a lie" and publish it for the truth, until disproved and repudiated later by some other scientists. Our prejudices should be in favor of the Bible, and only positive, unimpeachable evidence against it should be even considered.
The modern field for scientific research is Assyria, where the ancient buried ruins of Babylon, Nippur, etc., being dug into, furnish relics and records of an early day--antedating all history except that of the Bible.
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So, then, let it be understood that the scientific research, for which our day is noted, is frequently only an effort on the part of those engaged in it to immortalize themselves by impeaching the record of God's Word, if they can possibly do so.
The latest news of this kind is from a party of Armenians, representing the University of Pennsylvania, who have for some time been excavating the ruins of the ancient city of Nippur in the Valley of Babylon. This news is that these scientists, having dug down below the level of the known Nippur, found about thirty feet below it a still older Nippur with valuable relics, tablets, etc.
Immediately Prof. S. A. Binion (who, so far as we are aware, has never seen the excavations at Nippur) hastens to tell the public through the daily press what he don't know about Nippur, and to most dogmatically assert respecting tablets, broken vases, etc., bearing inscriptions, and their supposed decipherment, --"These tablets show that a high state of civilization existed 7,000 years before the birth of Christ, and 3,000 years before the creation of the world as set down in the marginal chronology of the Bible." "Many cuneiform records upon tablets, of Babylonian history, have been unearthed, in an excellent state of preservation. Some of these are 9,000 years old, and are almost as clear today as when the writing was done." Professor Binion very accommodatingly furnished also a "sectional drawing" showing the temples, streets and houses of ancient Nippur, from which thirty-six feet of covering, debris, is supposed to have been removed; and also showing the still more ancient Nippur, from which thirty feet additional debris had been removed.
This drawing covers nearly a page of the New York Journal of Aug. 30, '96, under a full page headline declaring as follows:--
"A BURIED CITY UPSETS THE CHRONOLOGY OF
Under the above mentioned picture of the two cities, in large types, appeared the following:--
PREHISTORIC NIPPUR 7000 YEARS BEFORE CHRIST.
THE REMAINS OF THE ASSYRIAN CITY, NIPPUR, BUILT 3,000 YEARS BEFORE ADAM AND EVE WERE CREATED. (FROM A SECTIONAL DRAWING AND RESTORATION OF THE EXCAVATION BY PROFESSOR S. A. BINION, THE ARCHAEOLOGIST.)
Every scientist, every editor, every business man, every mechanic and every day-laborer can, if he will but think, see through the fraud thus practiced upon a confiding public by a Professor and an editor. Why, if the University of Pennsylvania had a thousand times as much money as it now possesses, and if it spent every cent of that sum in excavating at Nippur and
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had laborers at work night and day, none of its professors would live long enough to see such a job of work accomplished as Prof. Binion and the New York Journal represent--thirty-six feet of debris removed from off a city of miles in extent, and thirty feet more from off a lower city of similar size.
What are the facts? Simply these: A few years ago the management of the University of Pennsylvania, desirous of fame for their institution, concluded that foot-ball and boat-rowing are not the only outside enterprises in which a modern college may engage, and with commendable enterprise undertook scientific digging into the ruins of Nippur. At the outset Rev. Dr. Peters was placed in charge of the work. Under his direction a shaft or pit was sunk on the principal mound, and some underground passages excavated thirty-six feet from the surface. But to be a successful "scientist" in such a work, a man needs to have a lively imagination and to give it full play, else he will fail to "astound" the world with his "archaeologic" ability in deciphering real and imaginary hieroglyphics on pieces of pottery, etc.; and so Dr. Peters was superseded by a man pretty sure to find something that would cover himself and the University of Pennsylvania with glory and renown--Prof. Hilprecht.
The latter gentleman has not uncovered the entire city of Nippur, but merely removed a few more cubic yards of debris from what is believed to have been a temple; and sinking a shaft or pit thirty feet still lower, through the debris, he found at that level "virgin soil" and some relics of an ancient civilization which it would in every way be to his interest to believe and seek to prove existed 7,000 or 8,000 years before A.D. 1.
Whether or not there are two cities of Nippur, one built upon the other with thirty feet of debris between, nobody can yet say truthfully. It will require vastly more money and labor than has already been expended, to demonstrate the truth or fallacy of the suggestion. The Valley of Babylonia is supposed to have been the cradle of the race; and it is possible that Nippur was a city built before the deluge of Noah's day. If its temple were but sixty feet high, thirty feet of silt and debris would still leave a temple thirty feet high, whose upper levels may have been used after the flood. Or it may be that the level first recognized, thirty-six feet below the surface, was never a city level but merely one level of the temple.
Prof. Binion describes the written tablets as "in an excellent state of preservation," "almost as clear today as when the writing was done;" but Prof. Hilprecht, now at Constantinople, told quite a different story to the representative of the London Daily News who interviewed him, and who says: "The labor of piecing together the thousands of fragments of vases and other objects, and of deciphering the inscriptions upon them, has during the past winter nearly cost him his eyesight." Prof. Binion is probably mistaken also in saying that these broken fragments are in Philadelphia. According to the "firman" or permit issued to the University by the Turkish government, all findings were to belong to the Turkish museum.
These "scientific" gentlemen who endeavor to discredit the Bible by fraudulent pictorial misrepresentations and descriptions, ask us to take their word for it, that the Bible account, which has time and again come off victorious in contests with "scientists," so-called, and which alone of all histories carries an unbroken line from creation to our day, and is represented by a living race--the Jews--is now utterly overthrown and proved unreliable, by the finding of some broken pottery bearing peculiar letters and symbols which one scientist fondly hopes will raise him and the college employing him to world-wide renown.
As for us, we will hold on to the Bible and wait a few years until another "scientist" equally anxious for renown will refute the present conclusions and show wherein the deductions are false. It has ever been thus. Not long ago Chinese histories were paraded similarly, to prove that China had a civilization and history one or two thousand years older than that of the Bible; but to-day archaeologists concede that the very ancient history of China is mythical, a fabrication.
We have gone into this matter at some length because we have had many inquiries concerning it, and because it serves as a sample of the many ways the Adversary is attacking the Bible, and overthrowing the faith of those who have not put on the whole armor of God, that they may be able to stand in this evil day. (`Eph. 6:13`.) What a defense against doubt and every attack of the devil is the knowledge of the divine plan of the ages! Praise God from whom our blessings flow!
Professor Sayce, one of the best informed as well as one of the most candid of modern archaeologists, writing upon the reliability of the Babylonian records and their probably faulty interpretation says, under date of June 30, '96:--
"I pointed out some years ago that the length of reign assigned to several of the kings in the first two dynasties is suspiciously, if not impossibly, long, and that the same high number recurs with too great a frequency. Since then the American excavators in Babylonia have discovered tablets which show that in the early period of Babylonian history records were kept of the events which marked the several years of each king's reign, and it was by these events that the legal documents of the time were dated. I believe that it will turn out that the compiler of the dynastic list supposed in some cases that where two or three events characterized the same year they were to be reckoned as representing separate years, while in other cases the co-regencies of a father and son have been neglected, as they have been in Egyptian and Jewish history."
"ABIDE IN ME."
That mystic word of thine, O sovereign Lord!
Is all too pure, too high, too deep for me;
Weary with striving, and with longing faint,
I breathe it back again in prayer to thee.
Abide in me--o'ershadow by thy love
Each half-formed purpose and dark thought of sin;
Quench, ere it rise, each selfish, low desire,
And keep my soul as thine--calm and divine.
As some rare perfume in a vase of clay
Pervades it with a fragrance not its own--
So, when thou dwellest in a mortal soul,
All heaven's own sweetness seems around it thrown.
The soul alone, like a neglected harp,
Grows out of tune, and needs that Hand divine;
Dwell thou within it, tune and touch the chords,
Till every note and string shall answer thine.
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Abide in me: there have been moments pure,
When I have seen thy face and felt thy power;
Then evil lost its grasp, and, passion hushed,
Owned the divine enchantment of the hour.
These were but seasons beautiful and rare;
Abide in me, and they shall ever be;
I pray thee now fulfil my earnest prayer--
Come and abide in me, and I in thee.
Harriet Beecher Stowe.
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SOME BETTER THING FOR US.
"These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.--`Heb. 11:39,40`.
IN the eleventh and twelfth chapters of Paul's letter to the Hebrews the two classes who are to constitute the two phases of the Kingdom of God (the human and the spiritual*) are brought to our attention. At the time of this writing the heirs to the earthly phase had all run their course, and were awaiting their reward in the resurrection, John the baptist having been the last and most highly honored of all that noble line of ancient worthies (`Matt. 11:11`); but the heirs to the heavenly phase had just entered upon their course; and, knowing that it would be a long and painful one, the worthy Apostle would have them draw a large measure of inspiration and zeal from considering the faithfulness and patient endurance of the worthy ones who shall constitute the earthly phase of the Kingdom.
His words, while addressed directly to the early Church, apply with equal force to the whole Church, to the end of the age; and in some respects the application will be seen to have special force in the end, or harvest, of the age. In recounting the prominent characters among those to inherit the earthly phase of the Kingdom, beginning with Abel, he shows that it was their faith in the promises of God that nerved them to such endurance and faithfulness, even unto death; and so he would have us consider and, with the same faith, rely upon the exceeding great and precious promises given unto us, whereby, as Peter says, we may "escape the corruption that is in the world" and be made "partakers of the divine nature." (`2 Pet. 1:4`.) He shows how by faith they walked with God; how they ventured upon his promises, doing his will and leaving the results with him; how they overcame great obstacles in the strength of that faith; and how they endured persecution, pain and loss, and then died in faith that what God had promised he was able also to perform, and would perform in his own good time and way. They were such men and women, says the Apostle, as the world was not worthy of. They endured as seeing him who is invisible, so strong and courageous was their faith.
Yet, though the reward of those ancient worthies will fully recompense their faithfulness, the Apostle would have us know that God hath still reserved "some better thing for us;" viz., the inheritance of the heavenly phase of the Kingdom. In so doing, however, God is not rewarding us according to our deserts; for neither our merit, nor that of the ancient worthies, could claim by right an inheritance in either phase of the Kingdom. Both callings are of his abounding grace. The times and seasons for the selection of these two companies, as well as the conditions of eligibility to them, were fixed by Jehovah before the foundation of the world; and within those appointed seasons those individuals who will have complied with the conditions become heirs of the promised inheritance to be realized in the time appointed. God has a right thus to do what he will with his own, and his wonderful favors will be received with thanksgiving by all his righteous heirs without respect to comparisons; and all will be satisfied when they awake in his likeness, whether it be on the human or on the spiritual plane of being.
The "better thing" reserved "for us" who are called of God during this Gospel age is the joint-heirship with Christ, Jehovah's only-begotten Son and heir of all things, the partaking with him in all his subsequent work for the blessing of all God's intelligent creation. Therefore it is, as the Apostle states, that the
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. 1., Chap. xiv.
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reward of the ancient worthies tarries until first the overcoming Gospel Church is exalted to the throne with Christ in the dawn of the Millennial age, now so close at hand. As soon as the spiritual phase of the Kingdom is established in power the setting up of the human phase will be immediately accomplished. In humble recognition, therefore, of the divine purpose and order in the superior exaltation of the Gospel Church, we repeat the Apostle's statement that "they" --those noble, loyal, righteous, faithful ancient worthies --"without us shall not be made perfect." Their perfecting will be instantaneous with their awakening from death, their trial having been passed successfully, as attested by the Lord's word.
But as to whether we shall be numbered among the "us" depends yet upon our successful running of the race set before us. Surely, no less faithfulness and nobility of character can be expected of us than of those who ran for the earthly prize. And since all the blessings of God's plan,--the exaltation of the ancient worthies, the liberation of the whole world from the bondage of sin and death and the final judgment of angels --await the manifestation of the spiritual sons of God, the Gospel Church, therefore the Apostle in `chapter 12`, in forceful metaphor, points us back to those ancient worthies as a stimulus for faith and zeal; saying:--
"Therefore also we, being compassed about with so great a cloud of martyrs [Greek marturon--who so nobly witnessed for God and righteousness], let us [emulate them and] lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the [higher, heavenly] race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Jesus, our Ransomer, is also our forerunner and pattern in this race. He ran successfully, and in consequence is even now at the right hand of the throne of God, whither we also may go to him. His way to the crown was the way of the shameful cross, and he said, If any man love me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me: the servant is not above his Lord. Persecution and shame and grief and loss are our portion in this present world, and the exaltation and the glory will follow in due time, if we faint not. Therefore we are urged to consider his example and teaching lest we be weary and faint in our minds under the trials of faith, patience and endurance of this evil day.
Again referring to the ancient worthies and their faithfulness (`12:18-24`), we are reminded of our much more favored position on the stream of time; for we are not approaching, as were they, the established typical kingdom of God under the typical mediator Moses; but, in point of time, we are approaching the glorious antitype of that--the Kingdom of Christ. How inspiring is this thought of the proximity in time to the glory of the Kingdom! And if this was true of the early Church, how much more is it true of us who are living in the end, the "harvest," of the age?
The Apostle would also lead us to a fuller appreciation of the glory to be revealed in the setting up of the real Kingdom--the antitype--by a reference to the glory that attended the setting up of even the typical kingdom, and the enunciation of its righteous code of divine law. (`Verses 18-21`; see also `2 Cor. 3:7-11`; `Exod. 19`.) That was a scene whose majesty and glory caused all Israel to fear and tremble; and even Moses said, "I exceedingly fear and quake." But, he says, that manifestation of glory was nothing in comparison to the glory that excelleth, which shall attend the setting up of the real Kingdom. That will be the glorious New Jerusalem, the true Mount Zion, the city (government or Kingdom) of the living God, the city for which Abraham looked afar off. It will be the general assembly of the Church of the firstborn in the midst of a welcoming host, "an innumerable company of angels:" it will be the gathering together of the Church unto Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel--not vengeance, but peace, pardon and life,--and unto God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits [lives] of just men made perfect; --first the earthly phase of the Kingdom, and finally the full number of the restitution host.
What a glorious prospect! and how full of solemn import to us specially, who have approached to the very threshold of this blessed hope;--solemn, in that the overcoming to be done before we reach the goal will tax all our fortitude and faith and test every principle of righteousness to the utmost. To do this will require the greatest humility and dependence on Christ, not only for redemption but also for grace to help in every time of need. If we should allow pride and self-righteousness to come in and our ears to grow dull to the voice of him that speaketh from heaven, we shall no more escape the wrath of God than would an Israelite have escaped it had he disobeyed the voice which commanded that he should not touch the mountain where God appeared unto them and spoke to them through their mediator Moses; for our God is a consuming fire to all who attempt to approach him except through our mediator, Christ, just as, in the type, he was a consuming fire to any who disregarded the mediation of Moses.
* * *
"ONLY FOR JESUS!--Lord keep it forever
Sealed on the heart and engraved on the life!
Pulse of all gladness and nerve of endeavor,
Secret of rest, and the strength of our strife."
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THY LIGHT IS COME.
"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."--`Isa. 60:1-3`.
THE words of this prophecy have a double application, --first to spiritual Israel, and second to Israel after the flesh. The great and long-looked-for light is the Lord Jesus Christ, the light of the world; and the time indicated is the end or harvest of the Gospel age, when he comes in glory and power to shine as the sun in his Kingdom. That the prophecy had a partial fulfilment to fleshly Israel at our Lord's first advent is true. He indeed was the light and glory of Israel; but as a nation they knew not the time of their visitation (`Luke 19:44`): the light shined in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. (`John 1:5`.) Consequently the glory of the Lord was not then seen upon Israel: they did not know their King, nor enter with him into his Kingdom, though the privilege was then offered to them. They did not arise and shine, and therefore darkness came upon them; and, as a nation, blinded to their highest interests, they stumbled into the ditch (`Matt. 15:14`), a great time of trouble, which, beginning with the destruction of their holy city and the complete wreck of their national polity, drove them out of their own land and left them as fugitives in every land and the subjects of more or less persecution even unto the present day.
All this reminds us very forcibly of the words of Jesus to them,--"Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you; for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light." (`John 12:35,36`.) But alas! Israel heeded not the light, nor the warning. It was as the Prophet had foretold (`Isa. 1:3`), "Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." However, Behold (says Paul) the goodness as well as the severity of God: on them which fell from their high privileges, severity; but upon you Gentiles, goodness, if you heed and continue to walk in the light, but, if like them you become proud and self-righteous, you also will be cut off from the divine favor and left to stumble in darkness.--`Rom. 11:22`.
Indeed, that such would be the case with the masses of nominal spiritual Israel in the end of the Gospel age, as well as with fleshly Israel in the end of the Jewish age, was also foretold by the Prophet, who said, "And he shall be for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offence, to both the houses of Israel." (`Isa. 8:14`.) Again, in the end of this Gospel age, the Lord of the whole earth has come. He comes not for a sin-offering, as at the first advent, but he comes now in the plenitude of his kingly power to begin his glorious reign and to exalt his faithful Church as his bride and joint-heir to his throne and his glory. He comes while yet darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people, and the glad message to all his faithful saints is, "Arise, shine! for thy light is come." "Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."
Observe that the Prophet calls upon the saints to shine now, and also tells of a glory about to be revealed in them. The thought of the passage is plainly that they have something to do with the shining to which they are exhorted, while the glory to be put upon them is apart from their own doing, a reward from God to the faithful ones who now diligently let their light shine for him.
Jesus said to his disciples in the beginning of the age, "Ye are the light of the world;" and so the true followers of Christ all through the age who have been with Jesus and learned of him have been the lights of the world. (`Matt. 5:14-16`.) But this prophecy, taking the standpoint of the end of the age, indicates that greater light is due here than at any previous time. And so we find it. Although the Lord has been enlightening and leading his people ever since the days of his first advent, yet now they are to arise and shine as never before. Within these days of the Lord's presence (since 1874) the light of divine truth has been shining more brightly than ever, so that his people have been able to discover and understand God's deep designs, and to see in his mighty work a grand and benevolent plan of ages, fully worthy of the wisdom, power, justice and love of our God. To use another figure, the table of the Lord has been richly spread with all the bounties of the harvest season, and the Lord himself, according to his promise, is serving.--"Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily, I say unto you, that he shall gird himself and make them to sit down to meat and will come forth and serve them."--`Luke 12:37`.
Well may the Church arise now and put on her beautiful garments; for very shortly she is to receive beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness. The time is come when she may lift up her head and rejoice, knowing that her deliverance draweth nigh. (`Luke 21:28`.) The exhortation to arise and shine is therefore to all who have been enlightened by the harvest message in these days of the Lord's presence. The prophet tells us that this truth which so fills our hearts with joy and gladness is nothing less than the glory of
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the Lord which is risen upon us. How blessed the thought, how precious the truth! The humblest saint who has been brought to a knowledge of it, and who has been thrilled with its blessed inspiration, may rejoice in the realization that the glory of the Lord has already risen upon him.
Is it indeed true that the glory of the Lord is risen upon this humble one who has to fight hard the fight of faith day by day to keep his mortal body in subjection to the mind of the spirit, and who realizes every moment that he stands only in the imputed righteousness of Christ, his own being but as filthy rags? Yes, it is even so; and the fact that the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, that it has thrilled thy soul with a joy unspeakable and full of glory even now, is a special evidence of his love and care for thee. And more, it is an earnest or foretaste of that fulness of glory and blessing promised a little further on, if we are faithful to the light we now enjoy; if, with a holy zeal for God, we arise and let it shine--in our words, in our works and in our characters.
A few more days or years of cross-bearing and trial, a few more days of valiant and persistent warfare with the principalities and powers of darkness that conspire against us to bring us again into bondage to sin, a few more opportunities to tell the blessed tidings to those who sit in darkness, to bear our loving testimony to the power and grace of our God, and then, by and by, we shall shine in the glory of the Kingdom for the blessing of all the world;--"His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Let us therefore be faithful to the light; let us walk in the light while we have the light; for if we prove unfaithful to it, it will be withdrawn from us. If, after receiving it and being blessed by it, we fail to appreciate it, and seek for the satisfying portion elsewhere, thus plainly indicating our lack of appreciation, it will not continue with us.
While this harvest message comes to all the professed people of God with this stirring appeal, "Arise, shine!" it comes also with an inherent power to separate between the true and the false, the faithful and the unfaithful. Like a magnet, it attracts only its own kind. The spirit of God which is in the truth must also be in every one who receives it: all such, and only such, have an affinity for it and can be attracted by it; and the more they are filled with the spirit of God the more they will prize the treasure of divine wisdom and cling fast to it, notwithstanding the opposition that may be brought against them. Those who have less of the Lord's spirit may not hold to it so tightly, and unless they become filled, sooner or later, they will be overcome by opposition, either open or subtle, and will be swept away. There must be a very strong and close affinity for the magnet of truth to hold fast to it against all opposition. Those in whom the spirit of the world dwells, whether they be professed Christians or not, have no affinity for it, and are not drawn by it. It is no matter of surprise, therefore, that we find the large majority of professed Christians, who are really worldlings, either indifferent or in opposition to the truth; for the nominal spiritual Israel, like fleshly Israel, is to stumble at this stumbling stone, and only the remnant of both houses shall be counted worthy of the Kingdom and its glory. Now, as in the end of the Jewish age, the masses of the professed people of God are blinded and stumbled because their hearts are not in the proper attitude to receive the blessings God has to bestow.
Another thought is prominent in this glowing prophecy and this cheering exhortation to arise and shine. The words remind us of our Lord's counsel to Mary, immediately after his resurrection. Overcome with joy she was inclined to linger in his presence; but gently he reminded her that the good news of his resurrection would be equally good to all the other disciples, and that it was her privilege to bear it to them. The time for his ascension to the Father was not yet, and he would meet with them all again.--`John 20:17`.
So now, while we are made to realize and to rejoice in the presence of our Lord, the prophet bids us be mindful of our brethren to whom this joy has not yet come, and to whom it is our privilege to bear these
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good tidings. All who are truly the Lord's faithful covenant people will recognize the glory of this harvest message; they will be attracted by it and rejoice in it. But since we cannot always discern the hearts to know who are the worthy ones, we must expect the repulses of many whose hearts are not yet in condition to receive it. But, nevertheless, let us arise and shine. Let us bear the blessed testimony wherever we have opportunity, especially to them who are of the household of faith.
After spiritual Zion has been glorified with Christ to shine as the sun in the Kingdom (`Matt. 13:43`) and that true light shines upon the nations, it will be first upon the house of Jacob--the return to them of divine favor, "mercy through your mercy" (`Rom. 11:26-31`); then this call will come also to them, "Arise shine, thy light is come!"
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QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST.
Question.--Some define gnosis, rendered "knowledge" in `2 Pet. 1:5`, as "the spirit of judicial investigation and inquiry." If we are always willing to add to our faith the gnosis, the spirit of judicial investigation and inquiry, the epignosis, the exact, sufficient knowledge, will certainly be the reward. Do you consider this the Apostle's meaning?
Answer.--Reference to other passages in which the word gnosis occurs shows that the above definition is not adequate. See `1 Cor. 8:1`; `2 Cor. 4:6`; `Eph. 3:19`; `2 Pet. 3:18`; etc.
To our understanding the Apostle's meaning is not, "Add to your faith an investigating disposition," but as follows:
Beginning with those who already have some knowledge, enough to be a basis for faith, he exhorts
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them to add to their faith fortitude (common version, "virtue"); that is to say, he implies that if they hold to their faith against the attacks of the enemy it will develop fortitude, an added grace of character. And when he says, "Add to your fortitude knowledge," we understand him to mean that if faith be held firmly, and fortitude of character result, this, under the Spirit's guidance, will bring the faithful one to deeper and wider expanses of knowledge; or, as the same Apostle suggests (`2 Pet. 3:18`), the faithful one will grow in both grace and knowledge, and the holy Spirit, through its begetting, will enable such to know (appreciate) the deep things of God, the things freely given unto such by God, the knowledge of God resulting from our experience in the school of Christ. It is concerning this knowledge, not merely concerning the intricacies of doctrinal matters, but the heart sympathy and communion with the Lord himself, that the Apostle Paul exclaimed, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."--`Phil. 3:8`.
This knowledge, received into a good and honest heart, will bring forth the fruitage or grace of character here termed "self-control" (common version, "temperance"). As is elsewhere stated, "He that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself," controls himself, purges out more and more of the old leaven. Following and connected with the attainment of such self-control would come patience: for the self-mastery would teach the necessity for sympathy with and patience toward others. This patience in turn would lead to and develop the next grace mentioned; namely, piety--a condition in which the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, influencing all the thoughts and words and deeds. This condition in turn develops brotherly kindness --a love for all who are brethren and yoke fellows in the cause of righteousness and truth, the cause of God. And brotherly kindness in turn leads to that still broader and deeper experience designated the chief of all graces; namely, love, love for God, love for the brethren, love deep and pure and true, which thinketh no evil and doth not puff itself up, and is not easily offended, rejoices always in the truth and never in iniquity, the climax of Christian attainment in the present life; the grace of all graces, which never fadeth, and which will but be perfected when we receive the new resurrection body.
Question.--If our Lord had power to take his life again after having laid it down (`John 10:18`), would not this indicate (1) that his covenant to give his life a ransom was not binding and (2) that he possessed knowledge and power in hades?
Answer.--This passage should read, "I have power to lay it down, and I have power [or privilege] to receive it again." We understand our Lord to have meant that he was commissioned or authorized by the Father so to do.
Our Lord, born under the Law, was subject to its conditions, and additionally he took fresh responsibilities upon himself at the time of his baptism, specifically consecrating his all to the Father's service, in harmony with the Father's provision for him. But, while his life was consecrated, it was still in his own hand, it could not be taken from him. To be his sacrifice it must be his own offering in every sense of the word. Hence when he said, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legion of angels?" he undoubtedly spoke the truth. (`Matt. 26:53`.) His request would have been honored. Having violated no law, his life was not forfeited, and we believe could not have been taken from him. But having consecrated his life, and realizing that it was the Father's will that he should attest his obedience by the death of the cross, he kept his covenant with the Father and would not ask for protection, but freely delivered himself up on our behalf. He does not indicate by his language that he could ask for angelic protection and yet retain the full measure of the Father's approval; but, choosing the latter, he refrained from making the request. We remember in this connection his previous prayer, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me-- nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." (`Matt. 26:39`.) What our Lord did, and what he refrained from doing, we know was the Father's will. To what extent he could have done contrary to the Father's will, or what would have been the consequences to himself, it is not necessary for us to know, and what would have been the results of such improbabilities have not been revealed.
The substitution of the word "receive," a better translation, clears away the difficulty from the word "take." It is distinctly stated that he was raised up by "the glory of the Father."--Compare `Rom. 6:4`; `8:11`; `1 Cor. 6:14`; `2 Cor. 13:4`.
Question.--Several of the brethren here, myself among them, are railroad employees. We have intimation that we will be expected to vote at the coming election, and that for the gold party. What is our duty? Does `Colossians 3:22` bear upon this question?
Answer.--The Scripture you quote does not apply to your voting privileges. The "servants" there addressed by the Apostle were bond-servants or slaves; but even in their case he cannot have meant that they should violate their consciences in obedience to the commands of their masters.
The safe plan is to take no part in politics; and to tell inquirers with whom you are intimate that, although an ardent admirer of this as the highest type of human government, you are, as Cromwell expressed it, "a fifth monarchy man"--waiting for and talking for "the Kingdom of God's dear Son;" for which we pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
The Quakers take note of the fact that God's people are not to engage in carnal warfare, but they overlook the fact that when they vote for a government they ought to support it by words and deeds. Thus our Lord said, "If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight."
Of course if "the powers that be" should ever compel us to vote or to fight, it would be our duty to act
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with the side most nearly approved by our consciences.
Some will take knowledge of you--especially if your daily conduct support well your profession; others will ridicule you; but few will injure you, "if you be followers of that which is good," and faithful to your duties. And if you should sustain injury, God is able to make it work for your good. But, whatever your conscience may dictate, obey it.
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Question.--In the May 15 issue, page 116, you refer to the withdrawal of the Roman army under Vespasian from the siege of Jerusalem, A.D. 69. It is claimed by some that this retirement was by Cestius in 65. Will you please explain?
Answer.--Both statements are correct. Cestius Gallus with a Roman army first undertook the subjection of the rebellious Jews. He was defeated in 65 A.D., and Vespasian was sent to conquer them. The latter having reduced the principal fortresses was just ready to attack Jerusalem when the death of Nero stopped him until he should get orders from the succeeding emperor. Disorders at Rome and his own proclamation as Emperor hindered the war for about a year, when the army returned under Titus, and Jerusalem fell. It is quite probable that the majority of those who recognized the Lord's prediction and escaped availed themselves of the first of these two opportunities.
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--SEPT. 20.--`Prov. 16:22-33`.--
Golden Text--"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death."--`Prov. 16:25`.
THE most important thought of this lesson is expressed in the Golden Text. It is a solemn warning against self-deception--against pursuing a course of conduct which is radically wrong, being opposed to the spirit and intent of the divine law, and yet which may be made to seem right by a line of false reasoning, suggested by the will of the flesh and apparently founded upon the Word of God, yet denying its fundamental principles of righteousness. The delusions of Satan also greatly help along such deceptions, and thus the blinded one is urged along in a course which seems to him to be right, but the end of which is death.
Christians should above all things guard themselves against the folly of this way. To do this, let us ever remember that, even though through Christ we have a reckoned standing of justification before God, the human heart which we still have is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (`Jer. 17:9`), and that it requires constant watching and purging to enable us to put in practice the Apostle Paul's rule,--In simplicity and godly sincerity have your conversation in the world. (`2 Cor. 1:12`.) To do this requires humility, sobriety, godliness. If the heart be puffed up with pride, or ambitious for vain glory, or if it be selfish, or in any measure intoxicated with the spirit of the world, then beware; for there is great danger of getting into that way that seemeth right, to a man because blinded by his own perverse will or fleshly mind.
The best safeguard which a Christian can have against the snares of Satan is that understanding which is here (`vs. 22`) described as "a well-spring of life unto him that hath it." Such understanding is not merely that of the head, but of the heart specially; for, "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness," and "out of the heart are the issues of life." If the heart be wrong, the head will seek to justify it, and in so doing will pervert judgment and truth. Therefore, take heed, and "keep thy heart with all diligence."
Not only will the "wise and understanding heart" keep the feet in the paths of righteousness, but also "the heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips" (`verse 23`), so that he shall speak forth "words of truth and soberness," words of wisdom, of kindness and of love. How important that the fountain should be sweet, that thus the stream that issues from it may be healthful and refreshing to all within the range of its current! Truly, "pleasant words [of wisdom, of counsel and of loving kindness] are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones [in that they refresh and comfort and stimulate courage and thus fortify the soul and strengthen it to noble deeds]."--`Verse 24`.
How different is the picture of the ungodly man! (`Verses 27-29`.) "An ungodly man diggeth up evil [apparently finding a morbid satisfaction in searching for it], and in his lips there is a burning fire. A froward man soweth strife, and a whisperer separateth chief friends. A violent man enticeth his neighbor, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips, he bringeth evil to pass." Thus, as Isaiah says, "The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."--`Isa. 57:20,21`.
But blessed is the man that hath learned the right ways of the Lord and walketh therein with a perfect heart. Such a one, unlike the wicked who go about digging up evil, delights himself in doing good and in speaking forth the words of truth and soberness. He is slow to anger, and studies carefully how to rule his own spirit, which is surely a great work and worthy of the ambition and effort of every Christian. (`Verse 32`.) How blessed (`vs. 31`) are the closing years of a long life devoted to this most worthy end of ruling one's own spirit in harmony with the principles and precepts of the Word of God; when, as Mr. Whittier has beautifully expressed it,--
"All the jarring notes of life
Seem blending in a psalm,
And all the angels of the strife
Are rounding into calm;" and when the hallowed influences of ripened Christian graces are manifest to every beholder. Truly, "the hoary head is a crown of glory if it be found in the way of righteousness." But if not, it is but a monument of folly and its ripened evil fruitage is most undesirable.
The statement of `verse 33` is to the effect that God's overruling power takes cognizance of even those things which men may regard as mere chance, and that nothing can come to pass without his knowledge and permission,
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and that eventually all things will be overruled to the accomplishment of his purposes.
SEPTEMBER 27, REVIEW LESSON.
Golden Text--"The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it and is safe."--`Prov. 18:10`.
The earnest Christian of many years has had this assurance amply verified by blessed experience. Let those younger take heed, apply their hearts unto instruction, learn to trust the Lord with implicit faith, and he will make you also to realize the blessedness of this refuge, and the sweetness of abiding in him. Let the language of our hearts continually be, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee."
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER:--The enclosed Postal Order is a thank-offering to the Lord for an especial favor. The occasion is, that I have recently completed the perfect memorization of the Book of Isaiah; and I desire with a humble heart to thank God for the preservation of my memory, for its power of rapid reception and the tenacity with which it retains that which has been stored in it. Please do not think me boastful, for I fully realize that it is God's gift, and I feel very humble in view of the fact that I have so misused it in the past.
The book was more than half learned in detached portions before I dreamed of making it a complete subject; then it was completed much sooner than I had expected it to be. It has been mostly the work of my morning hours. I rise habitually at four and leave home for the shop at seven. Breakfast and other duties occupy part of the time, but I get from an hour to an hour and a quarter for reading and study, and that is the best time I have for it. This is the only entire book of the Bible which I have memorized, except the first epistle of John, which I had learned before meeting MILLENNIAL DAWN.
I know that it is one thing to fill the mind with a collection of words, and another to understand their meaning; and I ask your prayers that God's holy Word may not be to me as the words of a book that is sealed, nor I as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, but that I may have the seal of understanding and the stamp of obedience on my heart. Pardon me if I seem egotistic, but God's mercy to a weak old man fills me with the desire to tell some one of it, and I have no one here to whom I can talk about these things and who can sympathize with me in them. The memorial which I send is small, but it is nearer in its proportion (as coming from me) to the widow's mite, than it once would have been; and I trust you will accept it in the spirit in which it is offered, and that the Lord will use it, as he does many small things, to his glory. Yours in love and sympathy, __________.
[When the memory is thus stored with the words of divine revelation, what food is furnished for prayerful meditation, what a ready
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weapon of defence is at hand against every attack of the adversary, what words of wisdom, counsel, instruction, comfort, consolation, warning, encouragement and cheer will spring up in the mind as necessity may require. We commend the brother's course to all to the extent of their ability and opportunity, remembering the counsel of the Lord, "My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart."-- `Prov. 7:1-3`. See also `Deut. 6:6-9`; `Psa. 1:2`.
Such storing of the memory with heavenly "food," if it be but one verse a day or one verse a week should not be neglected: the results will be surprising in even one year. "Thy word was found and I did eat it."--EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--The following item from a religious publication shadows forth the wide-spread feeling that to accomplish any purpose, even to subduing the earth and crowning the blessed Christ, only the unity of Christians is necessary. It reads:--
"The time has quite come to beat the sword into a plow-share, and the spear into a pruning hook. This age has the courage and the faith, if applied in the right direction, to grasp the mighty contents of prophecy and hurry its fulfilment, thus quickly bringing on its blessings.
"God is willing that something should be done for him on a scale as magnificent as for war or international display. The Christian nations are well equipped with ships for destruction and tremendous engines of war. Let the Church of Christ drop its differences, and bury them to the centre of the earth; then unite to do this thing. The angels will again throng the skies, with their song, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will to men.' From heaven itself mighty, unseen forces will move to help on the work of crowning Jesus King of kings. May there not be found somewhere a man, who will be as great for God, as Napoleon Bonaparte in war, as statesmen have sometimes been for their country, as many now are for the simple purpose of making money?"
Strangest of all is the idea that it is in the hands of men to accelerate or retard the accomplishment of God's great and glorious designs. It seems to me that the assertion that this age has "courage and faith to grasp the mighty contents of prophecy," is little better than the incoherent mutterings of one in deep sleep. Who can grasp the mighty contents of the prophecies unless God reveal them? God declares that he reveals them only to his humble, watchful children; and we know that the boasted numbers of Christendom have no such characteristics. And to hurry God's movements: what comment is adequate to such towering pride?
We can know what God wills to be done only by his revealing it; and nowhere has he revealed that he would have a grand display of earth's pageantry to usher in the kingdom. Truly, the "outer darkness" is very great; but my heart rejoices to walk the lowly vale with the self-sacrificing One. W. F. EATON.
[REPLY. Very true; and yet it is well to remember that most of us who now rejoice in God's "marvelous light" were once in the same darkness. There is every reason why we should think charitably and even hopefully of such blind reasoners. They are on the Lord's side at least, and longing for the better day, however ignorantly. A zeal not according to knowledge is far more pleasing to God than a knowledge without zeal. The zeal shows the state of the heart, and the knowledge the condition of the head to some extent. It was because Saul of Tarsus had the proper zeal that God corrected his knowledge and made him the great Apostle Paul; while it is declared that "unprofitable servants" who have knowledge, and who do not have the loving zeal to use it, will be cast out of the light into the "outer darkness."
A man, such as the writer of the above, who respects "the contents of prophecy," is a much more hopeful subject for effort than the many who know not and care not for the prophecy, and who disbelieve the promise of a coming Kingdom of God in which God's will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven.
The eyes of such may be profitably anointed with a few facts as follows:
(1) This century has witnessed the greatest missionary efforts ever put forth.
(2) Some sanguine people reckon the converts from heathenism during this century as high as one million souls.
(3) Statistics show that during the same period the numbers of the heathen have increased about two hundred millions.
(4) It does not require a great mathematician to see that there is no hope for the conversion of the world, unless God interposes supernaturally.
(5) These facts should awaken all who are truly God's people to a study of God's Word, to see what is the "hope of the groaning creation;" and they would find it to be the Kingdom of God--the glorified Church, whose Lord and head is Christ Jesus; and that his Kingdom is to be introduced by divine power and judgments in a great time of trouble now nigh, even at the doors.--EDITOR.]