VOL. XVII. AUGUST 15, 1896. No. 16.
Views From the Tower..............................187
"The Lord Preserveth the Faithful"................189
Poem: What Would Jesus Do?........................193
Restitution, Faith Cures (Continued)..............193
The Glory of Methodism............................195
Forgiveness of Injuries...........................196
Are Public Prayers Authorized?....................196
Bible Study: Absalom's Rebellion..................198
Bible Study: Absalom's Defeat and
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"In a service that His love appoints
There are no bonds for me;
For my secret heart is taught the truth
That makes His children free.
And a life of self-renouncing love
Is a life of liberty."
Let us not be ashamed of the true gospel, nor of any of its agents or agencies. He who is ashamed of the brother or sister or tract or book through which God was pleased to send him the truth, shows clearly that, had he lived in the days of our Lord's humiliation, he would have been ashamed of him, and of the humble men whom he chose and used to promulgate his gospel in the beginning. The truth is not intended for the proud or the dishonest. God hides his truth from the worldly wise and prudent, and reveals it unto babes. (`Luke 10:21`; `1 Cor. 1:19`.) By candor and humility and zeal let us keep ourselves in the love of God and continue to walk in the light.
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"Thou must be true thyself
If thou the truth wouldst teach,
Thy soul must overflow, if thou
Another soul wouldst reach;
It needs the overflow of heart
To give the lips full speech.
"Think truly, and thy thoughts
Shall the world's famine feed;
Speak truly, and each word of thine
Shall be a faithful seed;
Live truly, and thy life shall be
A great and noble creed."
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
THE confusion of tongues at the tower of Babel led to the scattering of mankind on the earth--to sectional and racial selfishness, independence, clannishness, --to classes and castes. This in turn has led to selfish animosities, wars, etc. On the other hand, it no doubt worked some advantage by preventing all from falling into the same ruts, vices and superstitions. But lately, especially since the beginning of "the time of the end" (A.D. 1799), the tendency in every direction is for the peoples of the earth to commingle, to obliterate caste and racial prejudices. People of every nation commingle with those of every other nation; not without prejudice, but nevertheless with the effect of gradually breaking down prejudice.
The city officials are compelled to guard the sanitary conditions of the poorer quarters as well as of the wealthier; for disease in the tenements, where clothing or cigars are made, means disease elsewhere,--wherever their wares are used. Quarantines are as needful for paupers as for the wealthy who pay the tax for the expense incurred. In courts of justice crimes against the poor are recognized, as well as against the rich. This is not only just, but necessary for the preservation of respect for justice before the masses. The failure of a crop in one quarter of the globe does not now affect that part alone, but diffuses itself over the whole world by causing a slight general advance in price. So also with diseases. La Grippe spread as a scourge over Europe and America and was traced by science to Russia, and as the result of a famine which prevailed there the year before. The enlightened world has learned that it is not only humane to relieve the famine-stricken, but that it is necessary for the protection of those who have plenty.
Even the lower animals are benefiting; for since it is learned that many contagious fevers are induced by the eating of infected meat and milk, the sanitary conditions of dairies are being guarded by the law; and the kind of cars in which cattle are shipped, and the food and drink supplied to cattle in transit, are being made subjects of careful legislation.
This growing oneness of the interests of the world is well illustrated in Trades-Unionism. It started as local institutions, thinking little of the interests of others; but before long they were extended to all of the same craft in the same section or environed by the same conditions. Next it was found that with new machinery it was not difficult for a man of skill in one craft to turn his skill to another; and federations and amalgamations sprang up on broad bases of fellowship and cooperation. Next international unions were called for, especially in Europe; and it was found expedient also to organize the female laborers, since they with machinery were likely to become competitors to a larger extent yearly. And now, finally, realizing that the millions of Japan, India and China are likely to come into competition with civilized labor, the Socialistic Labor Congress of the world, which met in London in July, proposed to extend its doctrines and organization to the barbaric peoples. The resolution on the subject reads as follows:--
"Considering that the aim of the foreign and colonial policy of the governing classes of all modern states, as the trustees of capitalists' interests, is to gain possession of new worlds to capitalize; considering further, that the aim of Socialists must necessarily be opposed to this absorption of barbaric races and the lands occupied by them into the great system of modern capitalistic
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civilization as tending to give to that system a new lease of life, shorter or longer, as the case may be, it is resolved that the policy of the Social Democratic party, irrespective of nationality, should be to support, and, in every feasible way, to make common cause with barbaric peoples in their efforts to maintain their independence against the raids of European civilization, no matter what the power may be, by whom the raid is undertaken, and no matter what may be the specious excuse, humanitarian or patriotic, by which such raids are supported or defended. It is further resolved that a standing international committee be appointed to watch events and to take such action in the above sense as from time to time may seem desirable, thereby inaugurating a new departure in the sense of a foreign policy, at once united and definite, for the Social Democratic party in all countries, irrespective of so-called national interests."
While this proposition is absurd in the extreme, it illustrates the trend of our times; the unifying of the interests of mankind. The lessons of the present time, although taught by selfishness, are preparing mankind the better to appreciate the levelling and unifying which the Kingdom of God will shortly establish on an unselfish basis--on a basis of a sympathetic love which redeemed all and will bring all to a clear knowledge of the truth that they may be saved.
* * *
The federative union of Protestants foretold in the Scriptures comes on apace. It has been hindered, however, to some extent by the hopes of some that it might as a federation include Roman Catholicism and Greek Catholicism, and thus be the more "imposing." Much dependence was placed upon the known sympathy of Pope Leo XIII. with the union movement; and it was confidently hoped by many that he would in some manner recognize the Church of England and its clerical orders, as the Greek and other Catholic systems had already been recognized. This matter seems to be positively settled in the negative by the Pope's last Encyclical (as we knew and pointed out from the Scriptures it would be). Now, therefore, all hope of union with Rome being abandoned, it is not unreasonable to expect that greater energy than ever will be directed to effecting the union or federation of Protestants, foretold.
The following editorial review of the Encyclical in "Harper's Weekly" will be interesting:--
"He of the Vatican has spoken again. Pope Leo XIII. has often spoken, but this time on a new theme. No pope of the last two centuries has surpassed him in keen and quick perception of the rapid changes in popular sentiment, and of the paternal way, from the Vatican point of view, in which to confront and adapt them. Besides, he excels in stately and labored declamations on the main thought of the hour upon ecclesiastical polity and doctrine. His encyclical is well timed, for it recognizes the preeminence of the aspiration for the union of Christendom.
"Gladstone had heard that something of the kind was in due time to come from the Vatican. He therefore wrote his letter to Cardinal Rampolla, the Pope's Secretary of State, pleading for Leo's recognition of the validity of Anglican orders. The encyclical is not an answer to Gladstone, and was probably in type and translated into many languages before the great Englishman had put his plea on paper, and nowhere mentions, even remotely, the validity of the orders of the 35,000 Anglican clergy. But in a sense it is an answer, for it says in substance: All who are out of my fold are schismatics; they belong to no Church; they must accept me as the one Holy Father, and they must adopt every one of the Roman Catholic doctrines. The inspiration of the Apocrypha, the celibacy of the clergy, the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, papal infallibility, and all the rest must be accepted, or the recusant is 'outside the Catholic communion.'
"The language is explicit. Nobody can be admitted into this blessed unity 'who in the least degree deviates from even one point of the doctrine proposed by the authoritative magisterium of the Church.' The primacy of the Pope, the recognition of his authority, and the assent to every doctrine which he represents are the conditions of the only Christian union which Rome can entertain.
"The Pope begins by declaring his desire to bring all peoples into the one Christian fold, and then proceeds to place before them the example of the Church in which all should be united, and to show that the Church is a visible body, and only one body; that it is the guardian of the world's faith; that of necessity there must be a unity of government as well as of faith; and therefore that 'as Christ willed that his kingdom should be visible, he was obliged to designate a vicegerent on earth in the person of St. Peter. He also determined that the authority given to him for the salvation of mankind in perpetuity should be inherited by St. Peter's successors.'
"The conclusion is now natural and easy. The authoritative magisterium being determined--and this is only a beautiful and classical euphemism for the mastery of the Pope above bishops, councils, and all
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else--nothing further is wanted than the application, which is substantially this: 'Come into the Church of Rome. Do not hesitate. The ultimate tribunal is vested in one man--namely, his own pontifical self-- who, when speaking in his official quality, divides his authority with no man or number of men when he declares on doctrine or morals. He can annul whatever councils determine. He holds St. Peter's keys, and can bind or loose at will. All must obey his orders. How easy, then, is the union of all Christendom!'
"One learns a lesson from this last encyclical from the Vatican--that Rome has lost nothing of its monumental egoism. The invitation of the Thirteenth Lion to all the lambs to come into union with him might easily have been made by Leo X. or Gregory VII. It is musty with the antiquities of the temporal power of four centuries ago. The dust of the centuries flies out of it as one turns over its parchment pages. Rome alone is in the true path.
"Still, there is a difference in the way of putting things nowadays. Even a pope scolds no more. The language of the authoritative magisterium is calm. There is nothing of the elder bluster. The anathemas
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against Protestants are forgotten as though veritable antiques. This is a gain for the courtesy of words. Never more will a pope speak as universal master."
* * *
Recent accounts of cyclones, hurricanes, "cloudbursts," tidal waves, etc., in various parts of the world are appalling. About six weeks ago 3500 Japanese were drowned by a tidal wave, and now about 4000 Chinese have met a similar fate. The numerous disasters at home are too well known to require mention.
Creation groans (`Rom. 8:22`) under the curse. Present conditions are only what we might expect as a race of criminals under sentence of death from the Divine Court. True, the ransom price for sin has been paid; but the time is not yet fully come for the lifting of the curse. It must yet rest very heavily upon the culprit race; a dark hour of trouble must precede the glorious sunrise of the new day wherein there "shall be no more curse."
Great physical changes in nature may reasonably be expected as a part of the impending trouble (intermingled with the social, political, financial and religious troubles of this day of the Lord). What the changes will be we know not; but we do know that present conditions of climate, etc., are not such as we should expect or are promised "when the Kingdom is the Lord's and he is the governor among the nations." If, therefore, any of the King's Own shall witness at close quarters any of the fearful signs connected with the grand changes now due, let them remember that the Lord knoweth them that are his and will not permit anything to come upon them that he will not overrule for good.
* * *
When pointing out some time ago that the Scriptures indicate that the Jews are to be persecuted in all lands, so as to drive them out, eventually, into their own land, we mentioned the anti-Jewish sentiment in France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Russia; and the probability that intense and general Jewish persecution would break forth ere long; but intimated that the British would probably not share in it. But even in Great Britain an anti-Jewish feeling is taking root. The publication of a letter from Mr. Gladstone in the public press, recently, avowed his opposition to the race, --saying, "I am an Anti-Semitist"--much to the surprise of others as well as ourselves. Jew-hatred-- "Judenhetze"--is making progress in England; and is being discussed in the prominent journals. It is really a movement against the Jewish money-lenders, and is of a piece with the Silver Movement in the United States. The following is clipped from the Quarterly Review:--
"The day may dawn, even in France, when a popular Government will be the voice of the people. In countries not so manipulated and hoodwinked--in the German Empire, with its military feudal spirit on one side, its spirit of Socialism on the other; in Austria, where the Hebrew conquest dates from yesterday; in Russia, which M. de Vogue calls 'a mightier Islam,' the reaction may take a swift and sudden turn that would be far more dreadful than any Judenhetze known since the expulsion of the Marranos from the Spanish Peninsula. It is not an appeal to the principles of '89 which would then avail to prevent scenes of horror and confusion. The European Democracy has no mind to be shorn of its golden fleece for the benefit of the Rothschilds and the Oppenheims. Let the situation be clearly understood--and it is growing clearer with each day's news, in Italy, in the Transvaal, at Vienna--who can believe that Christendom will allow itself to be made a farm, a tenement of which but a handful even among the five million Jews are to enjoy the fruits and the revenue? The 'Emancipation of the Jews'--that old Liberal watchword--has already given place to its antithesis 'Emancipation from the Jews,' economic liberty for the Christian working class, defence against usury and speculative finance, and the rest of a sound social programme. Sooner or later, these new ideas will issue in legislative enactments; or, if they do not, a worse thing may happen in countries which have to choose between the rule of productive industry and the despotism of capital wielded by a cosmopolitan and antisocial power."
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"THE LORD PRESERVETH THE FAITHFUL."
"O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord."--`Psa. 31:23,24`.
SINCE the publication of "Our Children in the Time of Trouble," in our issue of April 15, numerous requests have been received for a further expression concerning the probabilities of personal safety during the troublous times just ahead.
One Brother writes:--"As the Lord almost invariably works through means, and as the 'prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself' (`Prov. 22:3`), I think it proper to seek of the Lord a way of escape. This question will force itself more and more upon God's people as the storm clouds gather and the thunders of his wrath become more appalling; and I believe it is of the Lord that his people should effectually hide themselves 'until the indignation be overpast.' He has given them the exceeding precious knowledge of the truth that they may seek of him a place of safety. I have long believed with the brother to whose letter you replied in the above number that some remote place will be the safest. But we must not seek and inquire in fear and doubt of our loving Father's care, but in faith, because the fact that he has given us a knowledge of
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the coming trouble is proof that he intends we shall find a refuge.
"This question is pertinent, not only to the children of the elect, but also to what you term the 'Elisha class.' My observations for a number of years have convinced me that the 'Elijah class' are not only few, but extremely few; and yet there are many Christians, devout, and unbendingly loyal to all the light they have, who do not know of the harvest time; and there are others who do know of it and are in full sympathy with the truth, who have confessed to me that they have no desire or hope beyond a home in the redeemed earth when Christ is King. Yet I perceive in them considerable of the spirit of Christ--meekness and loyalty. My observations convince me that these out-number the 'little flock' ten to one; and I am so glad that our Father will take care of them; but, as I said before, I believe he will use means."
Another Brother says:--"Soon after I made my escape from Babylon you wrote me, in answer to a question respecting the time of trouble, that you understood the Scriptures to teach that the 'saints' would escape many of those things coming upon the world in the time of trouble. Now, will you kindly give me your opinion as to how a man in business will escape the financial crash? Is it by such a one foreseeing the trouble and withdrawing from business? or do you think that the saints who have families may continue in trade and have the Lord's special care which will bring us successfully through, up to the time of our change? I have had thoughts and conversations along this line, but have not become thoroughly convinced either way, and shall appreciate an answer either in the TOWER or by letter."
A Sister wishes to know how `Psa. 37:25,26` can be harmonized with the fact that some of the Lord's consecrated people have been in very poor circumstances, and whether this statement of the Psalmist is to be understood as a guarantee that throughout the trouble the Lord's people will not be reduced to beggary?
* * *
The foregoing queries have been answered in part in the following WATCH TOWER articles:--
"Your Safety in the Trouble."--Oct. 1, '95, p.229.
"Come, My People."--Mar. 15, '95, p.72.
"The Time of Thy Visitation."--Aug. 1, '95, p.178.
"Upon this Generation."--Sept. 1, '94, p.285.
Looking out upon the world of mankind we see them divided by the Word of God into two classes. (1) Those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; who have accepted him as their personal Redeemer from sin
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and its penalty, and who accordingly are seeking to avoid sin and to be acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (2) The vast majority of mankind who (whatever the length and breadth of the divine provision for all in Christ) are yet in their sins, who have not accepted a share in the ransom nor fled away from the sins which beset them as members of the fallen race, who for these reasons are still unreconciled to God, strangers and foreigners to his love and promises, and enemies through wicked works.
Of these two classes only the first could reasonably hope for any favor at God's hands. And this class, although not large, may be subdivided into three classes, as below.
(a) Those whose appreciation of the great divine gift has developed a reciprocating love to God and Christ, which has led them gratefully to consecrate to the divine service their little all;--time, money, influence, reputation, talents,--
"To be used in joyful service
For the glory of their King." Such rightly feel that to serve so good a King is an inestimable privilege; and hence, to them his word is law, and it becomes their very meat and drink to do his will. Thus, daily, these become more and more conformed to the image of God's dear Son (`Rom. 8:29`), and thus they are making their calling and election sure as his joint-heirs--to be like him and be with him and to behold and share his glory. These alone "walk worthy of the vocation" whereunto all living believers have been called;--"worthy of the Lord." (`Eph. 4:1`; `Col. 1:10`.) To these all of the exceeding great and precious promises of God's Word belong--help and strength for the present life, and glory, honor and immortality for the future, with Christ, the Lord.
(b) Some, who started out with an appreciation of God's gift and their consequent reasonable service of full consecration to God's service, have been sidetracked and hindered, by "the cares of this life or the deceitfulness of riches" (sought, even if not secured). These do not love sin, nor delight in its practice; they love righteousness in word, thought and deed, and wish that circumstances were favorable to righteousness, and long for the time when Satan and sin shall be bound for the thousand years of Christ's reign, and pray fervently, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." Yet they are so in bondage to the customs of society, so fond of the approval of fellow creatures, and the spirit of Christ in them is so blended with the spirit of worldliness, that they are hindered from performing the sacrifice of earthly things and interests which they covenanted to do when flushed with their warm first love and appreciation of God's goodness and grace in Christ. They have lost much of their first love; and, consequently, self-sacrifices for the King and his cause are more painful and more difficult. At first they accounted it joy to be permitted to suffer for the truth and for right-doing with and like their Lord: now it is a painful duty which they shirk repeatedly, and repeatedly mourn over. They resolve that they will again take up the cross and find the old joy in bearing it; yet they do not do so.
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Their fault and hindrance began in dividing their hearts between heavenly and earthly interests. They listened to the voice of the world, the flesh and the devil (and the Nominal Church), saying, Be not an extremist in piety; take a moderate course, else you will be considered a religious fanatic, as Jesus, Peter, Paul and other ancient worthies were disesteemed. They thereupon dropped their full consecration, even unto death, and decided on a "moderate course" by which they could retain the esteem of their unconsecrated friends and associates, and, as they vainly supposed, exert over them a more powerful influence for good. They had no thought of abandoning their covenant of suffering and death with Christ, but intended merely to do their suffering and dying in a more moderate way than a full surrender--an out and out sacrifice, once and for ever, of earthly hopes, aims, friendships, etc. Alas! they did not realize that they could not sacrifice themselves, --that only the High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, can perform the great sacrifice by which we become dead to the world and alive toward God. He must lay his hands (power) upon those who would be joint-sacrifices; he must offer them.* And he offers none except the fully consecrated; nor would the Father accept upon his altar any others than these. In determining to sacrifice themselves piecemeal when and how they and their friends might please, was the primary mistake of (b). And the mistake continues; therefore their repeated determinations to "suffer joyfully" are always failures.
The only way out of their difficulty is to do their first works (`Rev. 2:5`)--to commence over again by a full surrender of themselves to the Lord, that he may sacrifice them and give them grace to endure it joyfully and thus through full obedience restore them to class (a) as "overcomers" who shall "inherit all things."
(c) This class is a large one, very inferior in its attainments. It includes, nevertheless, many who are highly esteemed amongst men as Christians. It is composed of those who have accepted Christ as their Redeemer, by accepting in faith their share of his great sin-offering. They desire all the blessings he has promised, but would like to give nothing or as little as possible in return. They hear God's voice through the apostle, urging them to present their bodies living sacrifices, and thus to suffer with Christ and by and by to share his glory, and they realize that it is but a reasonable service; but they do not heed the call, and will not be granted a portion of the great "feast," the "marriage supper," prepared for those who love their Redeemer with an intensity which delights to render life itself in his service. Consequently, so far as the present high calling is concerned, they have "received the grace of God in vain," in that they have not made even an attempt to learn of their calling, much less to make their election sure, by full consecration and a baptism into the sufferings and death of Christ.--`Mark 10:38`.
Now amongst these three classes the favors of God must be understood to apply. The first (a) class undoubtedly is the one to whom as "overcomers" the promise applies,--"Watch ye that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all those things coming upon the world, and to stand before the Son of Man." They will escape (we believe) by being all gathered through death to glory before the terrible severity of the world's trouble will be permitted to come.
The great time of world-wide trouble (40 years) which began in October, 1874, is of two kinds. (1) Trouble, siftings, or fiery trials, upon the Church, that "every man's work [in the Church] may be tried so as by fire," and that the wood, hay and stubble of character or faith may be destroyed. (2) Trouble upon the world, financial, political and social, which will utterly wreck all present institutions and prepare for the rule of righteousness by the Kingdom of God. The first trouble will be specially upon the saints and all others who are in any degree subjects of divine favor. None who are truly God's sons will escape it. As it draws to a close, having selected, purified and proved the "overcomers," it will be followed by extreme trouble of a physical kind upon the world, in which those who were true children of God but whose lack of zeal did not permit them to be "accounted worthy" as "overcomers" (class b above), will suffer death,--not as sacrifices (for the acceptable day of sin-offerings, the "Day of Atonement," will be at an end), but, as the "scape goat," a destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved. These, "the great company," who must come up out of great tribulation and wash their robes white in the blood of the Lamb--these, surely, we cannot expect to see shielded from the very trouble which the Lord declares they need; and which in special mercy he will inflict for their perfecting.--`Rev. 7:9,13-15`.
The third class described (c) remains for consideration. Can we expect that these who already have received the grace of God in vain, to the extent that they have refused to consecrate themselves fully to God--their "reasonable service,"--shall we expect that additional favors will be bestowed upon these, more than upon others who did not the Master's will, because they knew it not?--because the god of this world had blinded their minds? We incline to fear not! If they have not had a full opportunity, we doubt not they will yet receive it with the residue of mankind during the Millennium; but that God should specially protect these from the tribulations of the day of trouble does not seem to us to be reasonable or Scriptural. It
*See TABERNACLE SHADOWS OF BETTER SACRIFICES, Page 55.
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is those who knew the Lord's will and did it not who are to be "beaten with many stripes."--`Luke 12:47`.
So far as we can at present see, the only ones promised "escape" from the coming storm are the overcoming class (a). `Isaiah 26:20` should be understood as applicable to God's people throughout the past as well as in the present and so long as his "saints" shall be in the flesh and need divine protection. It does not refer to the severity of the coming catastrophe because the saints will all be gone before that time.
We may, however, reasonably expect that divine protection will shelter two classes not recognized above. (1) The children of the Lord's consecrated people who will not have previously reached years of discretion and personal responsibility. (See `1 Cor. 7:14`.) (2) Some whose eyes will get opened during the trouble, and who will promptly avail themselves of the grace of God and fully consecrate themselves to his service. These two classes will, we believe, be subjects of divine care in the day of trouble. And although they will not "escape" from it, as will the saints, they will, we believe, be preserved, guarded, provided for in the midst of it.
We do not believe that efforts to escape the trouble by going into solitary places, etc., will be successful.
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It is the time for the building of the true antitypical Temple, the glorified Church; and, preceding it, "Before those days, there was no reward [hire] for man, nor any reward [hire] for beast; and for him that went out and for him that came in there was no peace, because of oppression: and I let loose all men, every one against his neighbor." (`Zech. 8:10`, Leeser's translation.) The trouble will be world-wide; there will be no place of safety except under divine providence; and, as we have seen, few can expect that protection.
"Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth which have wrought his ordinances; seek righteousness, seek meekness: perhaps ye will be protected in the day of Jehovah's anger." (`Zeph. 2:3`.) This is the only safe course. Those who now seek according to this direction may yet make their calling and election sure, and be among the "overcomers" who shall "escape" the things coming upon the world. Those who do not "escape," but find themselves in the great trouble, can follow no better advice;--they may be hid or protected from at least some measure of the trouble.
Hence, instead of seeking a place of safety (which cannot be found) for ourselves and our children, let us seek to bring ourselves and them into the above described condition of safety, by hearty obedience to the reasonable service set before us.
The suggestions of Brother Clardy's letter, published on other page, we consider good.
* * *
There is this to be said, however; although the great financial and social trouble has not yet come and will not come for some years, yet the great coming event casts its shadows before; and we have something to do with these present-time shadows, spasms and perplexities. While the hearts of the worldly-wise are failing them for fear (not from suffering) and for looking after those things coming (not things already experienced), God's people are to be in no such fear and perplexity. We know in whom we have believed and are persuaded that he is both able and willing to keep that which we have committed to his keeping. These thunderings and dark shadows only corroborate the divine Word which foreshows them all and the glorious results to follow. We will draw the nearer to the Lord and by faith shut about us the more closely the protecting door of our Lord's exceeding great and precious promises.
But we are not to expect miraculous help except when necessary. We are to watch as well as pray, and to seek to order our course in life according to the leadings of divine providence for which we are to be constantly on the lookout. We are to look ahead (`Prov. 22:3`) and to use our best judgment accordingly, trusting in and looking for our Lord's providential guidance. This may mean a change of business or not, or even a failure in business. If you have done your best to "owe no man anything but love," and have used your best abilities diligently, and then fail, accept the result with resignation. With the consecrated the chief thought should not be ease, nor large profits, nor best wages, but best conditions: best conditions for personal development in Christian graces, and best conditions for rendering service to the Lord, his people and his truth. If you are married, the interests of your companion along these lines should have equal consideration; and if you have children, they and their interests, present and future, are a part of your charge. You will need divine help in weighing these interests, that you may give to each its proper share of consideration. If you have children, you brought them into the world, and are responsible to them and to God accordingly: you owe them not only religious instruction but secular education and a business or trade preparation, to fit them for and start them in life. If unprepared or unwilling to give them this reasonable start, you should not have begotten them. Having begotten them, they are a first-mortgage upon your time, influence and means; and in providing for them you will be blessed. Not even the gospel has a prior claim upon your time.
But the interests of your children are a part of the Lord's providential care over you, if you are one of his fully consecrated ones. If, therefore, you see opportunities for teaching your children trades less liable to strikes, boycotts and wrangling than your own--more conducive to peace and the cultivation of the graces of
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the spirit, be willing to sacrifice something for their benefit, if the Lord providentially shows you a good opportunity to do so.
Respecting present business trials: "Trust in the Lord and do good, and verily thou shalt be fed." "I have never seen the righteous forsaken [by the Lord] nor his seed begging bread." These promises are sure, and while doing good and trusting we may also rejoice. This does not imply that you will have no business trials and vexations and disappointments and discouragements. Such experiences may be just what you need to develop your Christian character--in meekness, patience, brotherly-kindness --Love. Your meal and oil may run low, as did those of the widow of Zarephath (`1 Kings 17:12-16`); but God knoweth it and will provide, with spiritual blessings accompanying, if you will but trust him and do what you can do. The Lord may provide the things needful through our own industry, or through the generosity of friends, or by public provision. While the former is to be desired and sought, the latter are not to be despised or rejected. None of these methods are begging. Accepting proffered help is not begging.
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WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
When the morning paints the skies,
And the birds their songs renew,
Let me from my slumbers rise,
Saying, "What would Jesus do?"
Countless mercies from above
Day by day my pathway strew;
Is it much to bless thy love?
Father, "What would Jesus do?"
When I ply my daily task,
And the round of toil pursue,
Let me often brightly ask,
"What, my soul, would Jesus do?"
Would the foe my heart beguile,
Whispering thoughts and words untrue?
Let me to his subtlest wile
Answer, "What would Jesus do?"
When the clouds of sorrow hide
Mirth and music from my view,
Let me, clinging to thy side,
Ponder, "What would Jesus do?"
Only let thy love, O God,
Fill my spirit through and through;
Treading where my Savior trod,
Breathing, "What would Jesus do?"
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RESTITUTION, FAITH CURES, PRAYER CURES AND
THE GIFT OF HEALING.
--(CONTINUED FROM OUR LAST.)--
CONTINUING from our last the consideration of the necessity that our hearts be purified by faith and kept clean through the application of the Word, in order that we may progress in the divine life, let us consider the necessity for purity of heart and the purifying of the flesh in our approaches to God in prayer.
"HAVING OUR BODY WASHED WITH PURE WATER."
"Let us therefore draw near, with a true heart, and with the confidence of faith, being sprinkled as to our hearts, and pure from an evil conscience, and our body being washed with pure water."--`Heb. 10:22`. Syriac translation.
Here the Apostle mentions five conditions, (1) Honesty of heart; (2) an undoubting faith; (3) a blood-sprinkled heart (`Heb. 9:14`), a heart or will that has been justified not merely through faith but also through the application of the blood, symbol of the merit of the ransom, given once for all by our Redeemer; (4) a clean conscience; (5) washed or purified bodies; i.e., with the outward man in process of cleansing by the purifying of the word of truth and grace.
The purifying or cleansing of the heart through faith in the precious blood seems to be much better understood by Christian people than the purifying of their bodies, their flesh, through obedience in the application to themselves in daily life of the promises, precepts, warnings and illustrations of Scripture--as water or cleansing truths.
It is true that God accepts us into his family as soon as our hearts (wills) have been consecrated through the application of Christ's merit, even before we have had time to cleanse ourselves from much of the filth of
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the flesh. But this merciful provision to meet the necessity of our case should not embolden us to expect to be continuously received at the throne in filthiness of the flesh not even attempted to be removed, yet for the gradual removal of much of which in the present life every preparation has been made.
On the contrary, realizing God's holiness and purity of motive and deed, we should realize that sin and
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sinners are very obnoxious to him; and, while accepting his favor in Christ's robe of justification granted to us, we should begin at once earnestly to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit [mind], perfecting holiness in the fear [reverence] of the Lord." (`2 Cor. 7:1`.) The Scriptures give us no ground to hope that when we shall have finished the race we shall be absolutely clean and that holiness in us shall be perfected. No, no; when we shall have done all that we can do we must still confess that we are not servants who have brought our Master profit; we must still confess that in our flesh is no perfection; that still God could accept us only in the Beloved, covered by his imputed righteousness; for of all the sons of Adam "there is none righteous; no, not one;" nor will any be perfected in holiness until our Redeemer shall give us new, pure and perfect bodies, through which our purified hearts (wills, intentions) can find exercise. But, just the same, our hearts (wills), if they are pure and subject to the Lord's instructions, will be constantly seeking to come as near as possible to absolute purity of the flesh and spirit and to perfect holiness.
And, as the cleansing process continues through the washing of the water of the Word, our appreciation of what purity is grows; so that what we would have thought almost spotless purity at first comes gradually, under our clearer spiritual sight, to appear quite sullied. At first, the only "filth of the flesh" which we noticed as such were the gross impurities of word and act; but after having progressed a while, these gross impurities become repulsive so that we hate them and have no sympathy with them; by that time another set of sins, less gross, that we did not see at first as sins, are demanding and having our efforts to purge them out; and, as they go, other impurities, still more subtle, still more refined, still more deeply entrenched in our poor, fallen bodies, are discovered and being by God's grace purged out. The "filth of the flesh," as at first seen by many, consisted of murders, drunkenness, debauch, adulteries, filthy language, etc.: as seen later, it includes selfishness in its various developments, hatred, malice, envy, strife, vain-glory; but, as seen from the advanced standpoint of those who for some time have been striving by the Lord's help toward perfect holiness, it is seen to include every thing short of meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly kindness, love. And it is well that we should see that, while such results are to be aimed at and to be attained as fully and as rapidly as possible, yet our Lord, as our High Priest, knows our circumstances and peculiarities, and not only is not expecting impossibilities but stands ready to assist us to the possibilities to which he calls us by his gospel and its exceeding great and precious promises. And surely, "he that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he [who called him] is pure."--`1 John 3:3`.
What we have said with reference to heart purity, the most important, applies also to physical cleanliness. Get the heart (mind) started toward purity, and the literal water will be used as well as the symbolical, and the outward man will soon be clean.
PURIFICATION WITH FASTING AND PRAYER.
Although not under the Law Covenant, we may with propriety look back to God's dealings with the ancient worthies and the typical arrangements of the past and draw therefrom some lessons of value. One lesson is in the fact that those who celebrated the Passover (typifying the Gospel Church which partakes of Christ, our Passover Lamb) were required to cleanse themselves and their houses and to put away all leaven (a symbol of sin) and generally to purify. See `Exod. 12:19,20`; `13:7`: `John 11:55`.
On the great occasion of the giving to Israel of the Law Covenant, washings, purifying, etc., were strictly enjoined. (See `Exod. 19:15`.) The antitype of that is the institution of the New Covenant of grace at the hands of the greater Mediator, Christ. The appropriateness of the still greater purifying of all who accept the New Covenant must be evident.
When Daniel the prophet sought the Lord in the special requests which God so specially answered, he "chastened" himself; that is, he sought by the practice of self-denial to bring himself into a special condition of heart and mind pleasing to God. (`Dan. 10:2,3`.) That his course was helpful to him and acceptable in God's sight is testified by the angel of the Lord--"O Daniel, a man greatly beloved [margin--"man of desires"], ...fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard." `Verses 11,12`. Compare also `Chapter 9:3,4-18,20,21`.
While the fastings, washings and purifyings of the Law Covenant represent conditions of self-denial and deadness to the world, which should be the attitude of all true believers at all times, yet we have good New Testament precedent for the observance of literal fasts, etc. Note the following:--
Our Lord fasted forty days at the beginning of his ministry, when specially seeking divine leading and instruction for the work; and we know not how often he fasted in secret.--`Matt. 4:2`.
"When ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance,...that they may appear unto men to fast....But thou, when thou fastest,...appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret,...and he shall reward thee openly."--`Matt. 6:16-18`; `9:15`.
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In the Church at Antioch were several of the brethren who served the Church, and prayed and fasted and sought to be and to do what would be most pleasing to God. It was from among these earnest seeking ones that God chose Paul and Barnabas for special service. What a suggestion there is in this for all who are desirous of being used and useful in the service of the same Master. The Church at Antioch seemed to feel the importance of the matter, too, for when sending them forth at their expense, as their representatives and the Lord's, they fasted first and then prayed and laid their hands upon the missionaries (as recognizing them as their agents and representatives) and sent them forth.--`Acts 13:2,3`.
The Apostle mentions how he and his co-laborers approved themselves to the people of God, and among other items he mentions stripes, imprisonments and fastings. We are not to think of the Apostle as whipping and imprisoning himself, as do some of the monks and nuns, but as suffering these at the hands of unbelievers, on account of his faithfulness to the Lord, in declaring the good tidings of great joy--"Jesus and the resurrection"--of which he was not ashamed. So, likewise, some of his fastings may have been enforced fastings, because of his service of the truth; and, if so, no doubt they were all the more acceptable in God's sight. --`2 Cor. 6:5`; `11:27`.
To those who have written to us of their desire to abandon the use of tobacco, etc., or who find in themselves any weaknesses which they long to overcome, we advise not only the continual washing of their hearts with the truth and praying and watching unceasingly, but also additionally the frequent use of literal water in a physical bath and occasional fasting unto God as a sign to him of your earnestness of heart--as a proof to yourself, as well as to God, that your prayer is not merely a momentary fancy but a deep, earnest heart-desire.
[CONCLUDED IN OUR NEXT.]
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"THE GLORY OF METHODISM."
"THE increase of Methodism is one of the wonders of the age. Starting in 1739 with eight or ten persons...the number of its adherents has increased to millions and its influence encircles the globe. Its educational institutions are equal to those of any denomination of Christendom. It numbers among its adherents some of the foremost statesmen, financiers and professional men of the century. Its pulpits are filled by ministers the equal of any in ability and religious zeal. Taken as a whole, Methodism wields an immeasurable influence in the world, and has a tremendous responsibility.
There is a growing danger that these outward material things should absorb our attention, causing us to forget the lowliness and purpose of our origin. When the king of Babylon looked upon the city that had risen to such grandeur under his fostering care, he said: 'Is not this the house of my power, and for the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?' His history is but another illustration of the proverb, 'Pride goeth before destruction,' and should stand as a warning to individuals, nations and churches, not to glory in material prosperity only. There may be much glitter and glare in the church to arrest the attention, and yet 'Ichabod' may be written upon her portals.
"John Wesley said: 'In 1729 my brother Charles and I, reading the Bible, saw we could not be saved without holiness; followed after it, and incited others so to do. In 1737 we saw that this holiness comes by faith. In 1738 we saw likewise that men are justified before they are sanctified, but still holiness was our object, inward and outward holiness. God then thrust us
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out to raise up a holy people.'
"Again, he says: 'This doctrine is the grand depositum which God has lodged with the people called Methodists; and for the sake of propagating this chiefly he appears to have raised us up.'
"The glory of Methodism is, that its object was, 'to raise up a holy people' and 'to spread Scriptural holiness over the (all) lands.' If that object is lost sight of, its glory will depart. Dr. Adam Clark says: 'If the Methodists give up preaching entire sanctification, they will soon lose their glory.'
"The bishops in their quadrennial address in 1824 said: 'If Methodists give up the doctrine of entire sanctification, or suffer it to become a dead letter, we are a fallen people. Holiness is the main cord that binds us together; relax this, and you loosen the whole system. This will appear more evident if we call to mind the original design of Methodism. It was to raise up and preserve a holy people.' The Centennial Conference of American Methodism which met in Baltimore, 1884, reaffirmed this as our faith and purpose: 'We remind you, brethren, that the mission of Methodism is to promote holiness.'
"That there may be no mistake as to what is meant by holiness in the above quotations, the General Conference of 1832 issued a pastoral address to the church and used the following words: 'When we speak of holiness we mean that state in which God is loved with all the heart and served with all the power. This is the privilege of the Christian in this life, and may be secured [commenced--EDITOR] instantaneously by an act of faith, as is justification.'
"Hear then the conclusion of the whole matter: The germ of Methodism is holiness. The design of Methodism is to spread Scriptural holiness. The shibboleth of Methodism is holiness. The glory of Methodism is holiness.
"Some of the greatest men that ever were connected with Methodism have told us, that when we cease to preach holiness, as above explained, our glory is departed."--Methodist journal.
[Evidently the original glory of the "people called Methodists" was the true glory of the true Christianity. But alas! to how great an extent this glory has been lost by this as well as other denominations. It was the seeing clearly of the truths then due to be seen, that produced good effects and results in Wesley's day, although unpopular. It is the "present truth" that is needed to sanctify God's people to-day. "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth."--EDITOR.]
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FORGIVENESS OF INJURIES.
"FORGIVENESS often seems to be more divine than any other virtue because it costs so much and is such an unmistakable proof of love. It cuts directly athwart that self-interest which is the gravest temptation, the deadliest danger, of our lives. He who can and does forgive in anything like God's own spirit and manner has taken a long step toward ideal righteousness.
"We are to forgive those who have injured us, both for our own sakes and for theirs. For our own, because we need to learn to repress that indignant self-justification which is far too eager to exalt our own rights and belittle those of others; because we cannot consistently ask of them the forgiveness which we too often need unless we are willing to grant it in turn; and because we never can be sure that in their circumstances we might not have given offense, equal to, perhaps even greater than, theirs.
"For their sakes, also, because they may have battled long and nobly with the temptation to wrong us before yielding, and deserve credit for it; because they need to be encouraged to begin again and do better; because they are our brothers and sisters before God; and because, if we continue implacable, they will have good reason to doubt whether our spirit is truly that of our heavenly Father, and such a doubt is an injury to them which we can prevent.
"Moreover, forgiveness ought to be hearty and convincing, not merely that of the tongue, but evidently the glad renewal of confidence. And, if we are to imitate the divine example set us, it ought to be renewed in all its sincerity as often as needed, provided it be sought with equal honesty. Seventy times seven! That means indefinitely--if the offender be in earnest.
"This suggests a limitation which is right and inevitable. He who seeks and receives forgiveness must prove his sincerity by the effort to avoid renewed offense. A merely formal request for forgiveness does not necessarily involve genuine penitence, and nobody has the right to impose upon one whom he has injured by pretending to be sorry when he is not sorry. Such a hypocritical wrongdoer must, for his own sake and for the general good, be refused forgiveness until he seeks it in the proper spirit. Travesties of penitence need rebuke, not pardon. Christian dignity, and the very dignity of God himself, must not be thus mocked. But with this exception it is both a sweet privilege and a solemn duty to forgive indefinitely, even as we hope to be forgiven."
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ARE PUBLIC PRAYERS AUTHORIZED?
A brother writes: "I have much enjoyed recent WATCH TOWERS. I see that the theme will be continued: Please say something in regard to Public Prayer. The brethren here are not one on that subject, some claiming that Christians should never pray in public.
OUR Lord, after reproving the custom of the Pharisees, of standing on the street corners to pray, to be seen of men and to be thought pious, said, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet [private place], and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (`Matt. 6:6`.) From this, and from the fact that our Lord himself frequently retired for prayer to the mountain solitude, quite a few earnest souls have concluded that other than private prayers are disapproved if not sinful: and thus they have, we believe, done themselves injury.
Our Lord himself set us the example of offering prayer in public; not only in the presence of his disciples frequently, but also in the presence of unbelievers at least once--at the tomb of Lazarus. (`John 11:41,42`; See `Luke 10:21`.) That which is generally termed "The Lord's Prayer" was not only uttered in the presence of the disciples, but is a sample of a collective prayer. It addresses "Our Father," not My Father; it requests forgiveness of "our sins," not my sins; as "we forgive" others, and not as I forgive others. It is a sample of a collective prayer, specially.
The prayer recorded in the `17th chapter of John` was evidently a public prayer, before the disciples at least, else it could not have been recorded by one of them as it is stated.--`John 18:1`.
The apostles, guided by the same holy spirit, not only prayed to the Father in secret, but also prayed publicly before the Church and exhorted and instructed others respecting such public, congregational prayers.
Frequent mention is made of the gathering of the Church for prayers, when it is not stated that they prayed audibly, and where the fact is not proved by the narration of the petition, but it is not reasonable to suppose that they gathered for prayer and that each then prayed privately and secretly. Besides, in some instances the prayers are recorded.--See `Acts 1:14,24`; `12:5,12`; `16:13`; `20:36`; `21:5`.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Church at Corinth, clearly teaches that prayer and giving of thanks before the Church is to be done in an audible voice and in a common tongue, in order that the hearers of the prayer may be edified.--See `1 Cor. 14:14-17`.
However, we have no sympathy with the custom of some of pretending to pray to God, while really addressing the congregation. Although our prayers be distinct and intelligible to the audience, in order that the hearers may all be profited by being able to join sympathetically in a possibly more full and fluent petition
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than the majority could express, yet it should never be lost sight of that it is God, and not men, that is addressed.
Neither have we any sympathy with the custom of opening Political Conventions, and Legislative Assemblies and Schools and Lodges with prayer. Since these are not meetings of the Church they can (as meetings) have no recognition from God. If delegates to a Convention or Legislature or Congress, or attendants at college or school be Christians they as such always have access to God by prayer, and they should not be found in any place where they could not ask and expect God's blessing with them. If a teacher be a Christian, he or she might without special impropriety offer an audible prayer, for wisdom and grace to instruct aright; and any of the pupils who are Christians might say, Amen. But school-children should not be taught to repeat the "Lord's Prayer:" It was given for no such purpose. Nor should teachers be required to offer prayer; for many are not Christians. And the children? Although innocent of personal crimes, they are still under Adamic condemnation, and are permitted to approach God only through faith, on the terms of the New Covenant; --except the children of such as have entered into covenant relations to God.--See `1 Cor. 7:14`.
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The evil effect of promiscuous public praying is growingly manifest on every hand. Men who know that only as a great favor through influential friends could they gain an audience with the potentates of earth, and then only with great formality of dress, etc., have gotten the idea that anybody at any time and in any filthy rags of his own righteousness can rush into the august presence of the King of kings and have an audience with him. And Christians, ministers and educators, have sanctioned this hurtful folly. As a consequence, thousands do not truly come to God, but delude themselves that they are "all right" and "as good as the average Christian;" while really, not having come to God in his appointed way, they have neither part nor lot in his Church, nor in the exceeding great and precious promises made to it.
"God heareth not sinners." (`John 9:31`; `Job 27:9`; `Prov. 1:28,29`; `28:9`; `Psa. 66:18`; `Isa. 1:15`.) Christ is the way, the truth and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father but by him. (`John 14:6`.) While father Adam was created a son of God and then had access to his Father, yet this relationship and its privileges were cut off when he rebelled and was sentenced as a sinner to death;--all relationship was severed, all rights and privileges were forfeited. True, God has mercifully provided a great sacrifice for sin, and reconciliation through the precious blood of the Redeemer, and through him a return to all the privileges, communion and favors lost in Adam; but this provision is restricted: it is not for everybody; it is open only to those who, desiring to flee away from sin, come to a knowledge of the Savior and accept the favor of God on the conditions of the New Covenant.
Provision is made for these, that they may divest themselves of the filthy rags of their own righteousness and put on the robe of Christ's righteousness through faith; and thus prepared they may be introduced to the Father as redeemed and restored sons--reconciled to God by the death of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Then, and not until then, should we expect that their prayers would be anything else than an abomination before God. None will be heard and accepted by the Father, while rejecting the New Covenant and the only name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved.
But to those who realize their sins and, repenting of them, accept the Redeemer and the New Covenant as the only way back to sonship and fellowship with the Father, the Apostle says,--
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." "For through him [Christ] we both have access by one spirit unto the Father."-- `Eph. 2:18,19`.
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,...let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith." (`Heb. 10:19-22`.) "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of the heavenly grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."-- `Heb. 4:16`.
Here, then, is what we hold to be the Scriptural line on this important subject. (1) Prayer is the privilege of "believers," reconciled children of God, only. (2) It is appropriate for such children of God to pray collectively as well as individually and privately. (3) At a meeting of God's children, the fact that unbelievers might be present would not make prayer improper, because it is a meeting of the Church and not a meeting of the unregenerate, nor under their control. (4) Prayer is wholly improper at Political, Legislative, Social, Educational, and other meetings which are not meetings of the Church of Christ. Even though some of the regenerated sons of God be present, the meetings are world-meetings, not directly amenable to the Word and Spirit of God. If Christians find it expedient to attend such meetings, let them attend as citizens and not as saints, and let their prayers be offered in secret.
"Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth--seeing thou hatest instruction and castest my words behind thee?"-- `Psalm 50:16,17`.
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--AUGUST 23.--`2 Sam. 15:1-12`.--
Golden Text--"Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."--`Exod. 20:12`.
IN this account of Absalom's rebellion there are several important lessons to thoughtful minds. (1) First of all we notice in Absalom the sin of disrespect to parents. The experience and wisdom of riper years are, when heeded, the safeguards of youth, and specially in the case of parental experience and wisdom, which parental love is ever desirous of utilizing for the benefit of sons and daughters, to protect them from the ills of life of which they have learned either by experience or observation. Youth, alas! too often disregards this divinely provided safeguard until by and by it learns its folly by bitter experience. The hopefulness of youth naturally gilds the future with glory; and, with ardent spirits, undisciplined, unrestrained and self-conscious, it plunges into new schemes, sanguine of the success of its theories until, by and by, its bright visions fade before the stern realities of life.
So it was with Absalom; and so it is with every youth who disregards the commandment of the Lord, "Honor thy father and thy mother;" and again, as expressed by the Apostle, "Children obey your parents." The duty to "honor" parents, however, extends far beyond the obligation to obey them, which specially applies to childhood, and not to mature years. The duty of honoring parents extends from the cradle to the grave, and when the last honors are paid to the lifeless forms of parents they should still hold an honored place in the archives of memory. Nothing is more beautiful in youth than preferment and deference to riper years, and specially to old age. "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man." --`Lev. 19:32`.
(2) We notice in Absalom the sin of disrespect to the God of his father, which was but the natural result of his lack of love and confidence in his father. He entirely ignored the facts that the kingdom was the Lord's, and that the Lord placed whom he would upon the throne, so that his youthful ambition plotted not only against his father, David, but also against God, who had anointed David to be king, and who also promised to establish his throne and to indicate his successor, and to subdue all his enemies. In his rebellion Absalom vainly thought not only thus to outwit his father, David, but also the Almighty Jehovah. How vain and foolish! what reckless folly! And yet, how many have repeated this folly, and few of the sons of men have paused to consider how puny is the arm of flesh when lifted in defiance of the Almighty!
(3) We see how political intrigue stole the hearts of the people and made the cause of Absalom temporarily very prosperous, so that "the conspiracy was strong and increased continually with Absalom." But every successful step of the plot was only bringing the young man nearer to the height from which he must eventually fall. So it is in the temporary success of every evil device: the much sought elevation only adds force to the final disaster. In this view it is manifest that the truest friendship to the wayward is resolute, wise and well-planned opposition, which no flattery or political craft can overcome. Such friendship is seldom appreciated except by Him who reads the heart, though it does sometimes turn the sinner from the error of his way and save a soul from death. For such service how necessary is great sobriety, patience, faith, hope and love! especially in any efforts to assist fellow members of the prospective body of Christ, who are now on trial for eternal life and in the race for the prize of our high calling, lest any, becoming wayward, should fail of the grace of God.
(4) We observe the progressive course of evil-- how the sin of ingratitude and dishonor to a father brought on ambition and defiance of God; how this led to unscrupulous political intrigue, flattery and lying; and finally to a bold and wicked plot which was treason alike to the king and to God. In all this Absalom was cultivating that haughty spirit which goes before a fall.
While thus noting the course of Absalom and its lessons to the young, there is also a hint of wisdom for parents which they would do well to heed. The example of David to his children was not a faultless one: the sins of his youth and of his later years yielded a most undesirable harvest. Not only had he violated the law of God in multiplying wives to himself (`Deut. 17:14-17`), but he had further transgressed by taking some heathen wives, the mother of Absalom being the daughter of the heathen king Talmai, king of Geshur in Syria; and the children of a polygamous household, living apart from their father with their several mothers, were necessarily almost without a father's influence and care, so that Absalom was brought up under the influence of a heathen mother and apparently with little reverence or respect for the true God.
The sin of Amnon for which Absalom slew his brother was one deserving of punishment, and yet in view of his own sin with the wife of Uriah how could David become the avenger? The crime doubtless caused him sorrow and tears and bitter reflections upon the past, all of which he recognized as part of his own penalty but, remembering his own folly, he could not punish the offender.
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In the slaying of Amnon, whatever purposes of selfish ambition or personal hatred may have mingled with his indignation, Absalom was avenging the crime against his sister with only a lawful vengeance, the prescribed penalty being death. To David, who loved all his children, this was a terrible blow, and Absalom, fearing his indignation, fled to his maternal grandfather where for three years, unrecalled by his father, he remained, under the influence of that heathen land, no doubt restive under unfavorable conditions, with no indication of any favorable turn of affairs and chafing under a sense of injustice, since in avenging his sister he had merely executed the sentence of the Law (`Deut. 27:22`; `Lev. 20:17`); and, brooding over his misfortunes and magnifying all the faults and weaknesses of his father, it is no matter of surprise that the spirit of rebellion strengthened; for in the absence of any expression of his father's interest in him, how could he
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know of his heart yearnings? And when after three years he was permitted to return to the land, still he was not permitted to see his father's face, nor to know of his continued love for two more years.
It is not, therefore, surprising that the experience of these five years fastened upon the mind of Absalom the conviction that his father no longer loved him or considered his interests; and this feeling rankling in his heart, he prepared to set at defiance his kingly authority, and in the fire of his youth, the self-consciousness of early manhood and his now dominant ambition, he also recklessly ignored the divine authority.
This attitude of David toward his son was a great mistake on the part of David, the realization of which when it was too late to rectify it doubtless greatly deepened the grief which was subsequently expressed in the bitter and tearful lament, "O my son Absalom! my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee. O Absalom, my son, my son!" For five years David had allowed the hard side of his nature to thoroughly conceal his tender emotions; and not only so, but in all that time he had been neglecting his opportunities for exerting a godly influence upon his son, and that at a time when he most needed such influence, and instead of which he was surrounded with the influences of a heathen land. It was a dear price for David to pay for his resentment, and in the light of his son's highest interests it was certainly very poor policy. Yet how often is the mistake of David repeated by fathers! Many seem to forget the temptations, trials and inexperience of youth, and so fail to be gracious, considerate, forbearing and studious of their highest interests. Kind, generous, self-forgetful interest will follow the son long after childhood has matured into manhood, and will make parental counsel very potent long after parental authority has ceased.
There is probably no time in life more fraught with danger than when the young birds leave the home nest and launch out to try their own wings and to carve out their own fortunes. And if they can go with a father's and a mother's blessing; if every rebuff and misfortune they meet from a hard, cold world elicits home sympathy and prayers and loving encouragement; if father's house is felt to be the place of refuge in case of a sudden disaster; if they feel that loving forbearance there offsets the hard knocks of experience outside, what a power is there for good! It certainly is not a wise father that will long permit any pride of dignity or stiff reserve to forego the privileges of his position for the blessing of his offspring.
Parents should heed well this lesson, that the bitter lament of David over a son whom kindness, forbearance and loving counsel and sympathy might have saved, may not be theirs; and in every relation of life let us all see to it that love not only exists, but also that it is made very manifest.
In `verse 7` the word "forty" evidently should be "four." It is believed to be a transcriber's error.
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ABSALOM'S DEFEAT AND DEATH.
--AUGUST 30.--`2 SAM. 18:9-17,32,33`.--
Golden Text--"The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish."--`Psa. 1:6`.
THE successful conspiracy of Absalom, so artfully planned and skillfully executed, finally drove David from Jerusalem and planted Absalom there. But the victory of the conspirators was not yet complete while David, the rightful sovereign, lived. So Absalom and his counsellors conspired further against the life of the king.
But the Lord raised up in Hushai a friend for David, and placed him among the counsellors of Absalom, and thus through his counsel brought to naught the foolish and wicked conspiracy. In the pride and wickedness of his heart, bent on the slaying of his father, Absalom placed himself at the head of a great army and went forth to fight. In contrast with this wickedness mark the father's love, even under these extremely trying circumstances, saying to his men as they went forth to meet Absalom, "Deal gently, for my sake, with the young man, even with Absalom."
How suddenly God brought to naught the evil designs of this wicked young man: elated with his success and proudly riding to expected victory, he was suddenly caught by the head in the branches of a great oak; his mule passed on leaving him helplessly suspended, and the friends of David finished the work. Joab's trumpet of victory is blown, the conspiracy has come to naught, the usurper is dead and buried under a heap of stones, and those that were with him seek to hide their faces for very shame; and King David, the Lord's anointed, returned again to Jerusalem in peace.
In the lesson which these circumstances afford let us mark well how short is the triumph of evil doers. Though their eyes stand out with fatness and they have more than heart could wish (`Psa. 73:7`); and tho now the world calls the proud happy and they that work wickedness are set up, and they that tempt God are even delivered (`Mal. 3:15`), yet soon they will all be as stubble under the feet of the righteous. (`Mal. 4:1`.) The time may indeed seem long to those burdened by oppression; but it is not long in God's estimation. He will bring forth judgment unto victory just as soon as the wisdom of his purposes will permit. If justice be delayed, it is only for the development of some greater good than could be accomplished by a speedy adjustment. In this confidence, therefore, let the Christian rest, assured that all things--even the seeming delays --shall work together for good to them that love God, to the called according to his purpose. (`Rom. 8:28`.) "Cast not away, therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward; for ye have need of patience that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise."--`Heb. 10:36`.
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have been thinking about `1 Thes. 4:16`. As noted in DAWN [Vol. II, p. 146], the word "shout," as per concordance, means "a shout of encouragement." I believe the word from which "shout" is here translated does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. In looking at the word rendered "Jubilee," I notice that the meaning is given as "time of shouting" or "shout."
It has occurred to me that possibly the word "shout" in `1 Thess. 4:16` might mean the same as jubilee, and that Paul, possibly, there conveys the idea of an antitypical jubilee. The jubilee of old, I believe, was ushered in by the priests, the trumpet and the shout. Might it not be a jubilee shout? Might it not be possible that this passage is a proclamation of the Great Antitypical Jubilee? In `Psalm 89:15` we read, "Blessed is the people who know the joyful sound [shout]." (See concordance for this word "sound" and also "joyful sound.") "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance." `Isaiah 27:13` says:-- "And it shall come to pass in that day that the great trumpet shall be blown." `Zech. 9:14` says:--"And the Lord shall blow the trumpet."
Should there be any such connection between the "shout" in `1 Thes. 4:16` and the word jubilee, then the other scriptures I have named would appear to be specially significant.
In the type, if I am correct, the first day of the Jubilee year was also the Day of Atonement. "In the Seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls." (`Lev. 16:29`.) From this it would appear to be a day of sorrow rather than gladness. Is it not probable that the trumpet did not sound until evening? Then the afflicting of the soul was over, the great atonement completed, the High Priest had entered within the veil and returned alive, all transgression had been symbolically carried away. In the evening, therefore, joy and triumph might well be in order.
Do the Scriptures indicate just when the trumpet was blown?
On the supposition that the shouting and sounding of the trumpet took place in the evening, it might follow that the antitypical trumpet might be looked for later than 1874. If October 1874 is the date of the commencement of the Antitypical Jubilee, then when would the Antitypical Trumpet be due to sound?
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I have thought that possibly the Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks, might be a type of the thousand years or times of Restitution. Doctor Smith's Old Testament History says (pages 264, 265 and 258), "The Pentecost was the Jewish Harvesthome." "The Pentecost is the only one of the three great feasts which is not mentioned as the memorial of events in the history of the Jews." "It was doubtless after the sacrifices of that solemn day were ended, that the trumpet of Jubilee pealed forth its joyful notes," etc. I would be pleased to have your views regarding this in your own time and way.
Your brother, C. C. KELLY.
[We are in full agreement with the various propositions above set forth. The Gospel age has been the antitypical "Day of Atonement," in which Christ Jesus our Lord redeemed the world and in which, also, the Church as his body "fills up that which is behind" of his sufferings. (See TABERNACLE SHADOWS OF BETTER SACRIFICES.) The Millennial age, we understand, was typified by the "Feast of Tabernacles." It will be a time of rejoicing but not a time of fixity, because that which is perfect will not fully come until the end of the Millennium, when the unfit who have neglected to hear the great Prophet, the Christ, will be destroyed from among the people, and the age of everlasting and fully established perfection amongst men will begin. The "harvest" (Oct. 1874 to Oct. 1914) is the lapping time in which the Gospel age ends and the Millennial age begins. The Jubilee trumpet we identify as one with the Seventh Trumpet and Trump of God. (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., page 197.) The Apostle Paul was a prophet as well as an Apostle and the "shout [of encouragement]" (`1 Thes. 4:16`) should be understood to be the people's response to the Jubilee trumpets blown by the priests.--EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Our number here is holding its own, and we have been quite successful in scattering the truth. A great many appear to see the reasonableness and scriptural authority of the "Plan," but Oh! so few are willing to sacrifice and must simply be driven by the fiery troubles to give up their love for the god of this world. Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory; his kingdom for which we have prayed is coming, and his will will soon be done on earth as it is in heaven. It seems that if the people would only open their eyes and ears they could not fail to understand (see) the Christ presence casting Satan out of his high ruling position. Let us work on, fight on, suffer on; the time is not much longer; and he is faithful and just for whom we labor, and will reward us bountifully. J. C. GAULT.
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DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER:--From an article in a late TOWER I find I had anticipated your ideas, for I had been teaching the same to my children and had set forth the same sentiments to a few special friends, in regard to the perpetuation of the lives of children of Christian parents; holding out the idea to them, as gathered from the Scriptures, that they, above all others, would have the special protecting care of God in this great battle of the day of God Almighty which is now being waged. While I recognize that they will have special protection thrown around them, yet, if they would enjoy the full benefits of his grace or favor, and live over into the full of the Millennial kingdom, when none will die except for wilful sin, they themselves have a work to do, after arriving at the years of accountability; viz., it is necessary that they live a righteous life, and the only difference between their relationship with God, and that of the children of the unrighteous, consisted in the more abundance of grace supplied them, which would the better strengthen them, and support them in this hour of trial; that God could not, nor would not, look upon sin with any degree of allowance in any one; but by his grace or favor, for their parents' sake, in Christ, the Father would be more liberal in supplying his grace to the children of Christian parents. I have told my children in my talks to them that if they did not live on and on forever it would be because they resisted the leading of the spirit, and persisted in living an unrighteous life.
Will you bear with me while I relate two instances in point, relating to my own family, in brief. My business called me from home. I received intelligence that my youngest child was dangerously ill. I immediately took it to the Lord in earnest prayer. This was about 8 P.M. The spirit's leading was so plain in the matter that next morning, before any further advice in regard to the condition of my child had been received, I wrote a card, saying that though the child had been very sick it was better and would be all right soon. The next evening I received a card from home which had been written before mine reached them stating that it was greatly improved and that there seemed to be a sudden change for the better about 8 o'clock the night previous. This is a matter of record.
The second case is that of my daughter. When she was a child (she is now 18) her eyes became affected so she could not see her way, and had to be led about. I sent her to an oculist, and she remained there for about three months; she came home considerably improved. We continued his treatment for some time after her arrival at home, until finally the medicine seemed to lose its effect, and she became worse. I carried the case to God in prayer; and she is now comparatively well. While this case is not so well marked by immediate results, it is plainly the work of restitution.
Your yokefellow in Christ, J. W. CLARDY.