VOL. XXI. NOVEMBER 15, 1900. No. 21.
Views From the Watch Tower........................339
Is Nature Cruel?..............................339
Roman Catholicism in Politics.................340
Make Sure of Winning in God's
Different Standpoint, Different View..........342
Ignorance Respecting God's Election...........342
Sorrowful, For He Had Great
The Grace of All Graces.......................347
"Trust Not in Uncertain Riches"...............348
Entreaty Answered.--Blind Eyes
Ill-gotten Wealth Restored........................351
Christian Home Embellishments.....................352
About Pilgrim Arrangements........................338
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
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"PILGRIM" ARRANGEMENTS STILL MISUNDERSTOOD.
We find that quite a number of our readers did not respond to our queries respecting "Pilgrim" visits because they thought themselves too far from Allegheny to ask or expect a visit. Others who did respond have wondered that a "Pilgrim" was not started to them at once. For these reasons we explain again, as follows:--
The Society sends forth a number of these Pilgrims--according as the Society's funds will permit and the interests of the flock seem to demand. These are sent out on long tours-- three to twelve months, according to circumstances;--and sometimes reach very out-of-the-way places where we know that the interest and arrangements will justify the expense and time. We rarely give more than two days to any place unless more is specially requested and good reasons given.
We will be making up new routes for 1901 and therefore requested replies to our questions from all who desire to be remembered and visited. See TOWER Aug. 1, 1900.
MARKED NEW TESTAMENTS.
We have now a goodly supply of the Marked New Testaments. The markings are in red ink, making prominent verses which are specially forceful as respects various features of the divine plan for our salvation. The ransom, justification, sanctification, the second coming of our Lord and the resurrection are made quite prominent in these markings. Price postpaid two for 25 cents or $1.10 per dozen by express at your charges.
The publication, markings, etc. are not our work.
MONEY OR STAMPS SHOULD BE SENT "REGISTERED"
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
IS NATURE CRUEL?
THIS QUESTION has already been answered by some eminent authorities in the affirmative, and the belief that such an answer is the correct one is widespread. Sir Samuel Baker declares that nature "is a system of terrorism from the beginning to the end," and John Stuart Mill asserts that if there are marks of design in creation, "one of the things most evidently designed is that a large proportion of all animals should pass their existence in tormenting and devouring other animals." If we assume nature to be the work of a Being of infinite power, he concludes that "the most atrocious enormities of the worst men will be more than justified by the apparent intention of Providence that throughout all animated nature the strong should prey on the weak." These radical assertions are controverted by J. C. Hirst, of Liverpool, England, in a book whose title is the same as the head of this article (London, 1900). After examining the experiences of hunters of big game, he concludes in the first place that Sir Samuel Baker's dictum is untrue. We quote from a review in Our Animal Friends (October) the following abstract of his argument:--
"Where there is terrorism there must be terror, and terror is one of the most horrible of sufferings. Is it true, then, that the animals most exposed to the attacks of the carnivora suffer greatly from terror? We believe that it is almost entirely untrue. Terror in human beings is largely due to the imagination.... Have we any reason to believe that the lower animals have a similar terror of imagination? We have good reason to believe the contrary. Mr. J. D. Inverarity tells the following incident: A poor donkey was 'tied-out'; that is, as a bait for a lion. The lion approached, but the hunter, looking through his peephole, saw the donkey standing unharmed, while the lion went on growling. It was afterward discovered that the lion had actually tried to throw the donkey over with his paw and had failed, altho it had scratched the donkey on the inner side of the leg. But 'within a few minutes of the donkey being attacked, it was calmly eating which showed its nerves were not affected.'
"Mr. Wallace maintains that 'the constant effort to escape enemies, the ever-recurring struggle against the forces of nature,' are 'the very means by which much of the beauty and harmony and enjoyment of nature are produced.' To what else is it that the fleetness of the horse and of the many species of deer and antelopes is due? To what else, indeed, but the perpetual stimulus to exert their utmost speed, which is caused by the fear of enemies? But is not this fear the very terror which Sir Samuel Baker affirms? By no means. Mr. Francis Galton not only agrees with Mr. Wallace, but maintains that the peril in which they live is a source of pleasure....
"Prince Kropotkin points out the enormous exaggeration of the 'tooth and claw' view of nature. The Prince refers to the families of elephants, rhinoceroses, and the numberless societies of monkeys to be found in the lower latitudes of Asia and Africa; the numberless herds of reindeer in the far North, the herds of musk-oxen and the innumerable bands of polar foxes still farther north; the flocks of seals and morses and sociable cetaceans which inhabit the ocean; the herds of wild horses, donkeys, camels and sheep which range the steppes of Central Asia. He says:
"'How trifling, in comparison with them, are the numbers of carnivora! And how false, therefore, is the view of those who speak of the animal world as if nothing were to be seen in it but lions and hyenas plunging their bleeding teeth into the flesh of the victims! One might as well imagine that the whole of human life is nothing but a succession of Tel-el-Kebir and Geoktepe massacres.'
"Unless, then, death is an inexcusable incident in animal life, it would seem that the terror of death to be inflicted by the carnivora is really a figment of the imagination; and one might reasonably adopt the language of Mr. Wallace, that 'the supposed torments
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and miseries of animals have little real existence, but are the reflection of the imagined sensations of cultivated men and women in similar circumstances, and that the amount of actual suffering caused by the struggle for existence among animals is altogether insignificant.'"
Mr. Hirst does not, of course, deny that there is a good deal of eating and being eaten in the animal kingdom. This, however, he says, is not cruelty, and he devotes much space to showing that in their attacks wild creatures cause their victims little pain, altho he does not go so far as to say that the mangled ones enjoy it, as Wallace maintained of the fleeing antelope. The familiar case of Dr. Livingstone, on whom a lion's jaw crunching through his shoulder acted as an anesthetic, is of course cited, and supported by much evidence along the same line. The reviewer regards the case as having been made out, and concludes as follows:
"So then, as the result of this most interesting investigation, we may reasonably come to the conclusion that nature is by no means the system of terrorism that Sir Samuel Baker makes it out to be; that it does not justify the pessimistic and almost atheistic conclusions of Mr. J. S. Mill, and that it is not the horrible commingling of devourers and devoured that a superexcited imagination is predisposed to paint it. On the contrary, we may believe that the various carnivorous enemies of the gentler races of animals are much more serviceable in training them to the finest exercise of skill and fleetness than they are destructive of their numbers or oppressively noxious to their happiness of animal life, and that in a world in which death is necessary, death by the assault of carnivorous enemies is no more dreadful, but is, in fact, much less painful, than many other methods by which life may be extinguished."--Literary Digest.
The above is in full accord with our presentations on the subject in our issue of June 1, page 165; which please note again.
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ROMAN CATHOLICISM IN POLITICS.
"At the annual meeting of the Catholic Young Men's National Union in Brooklyn, September 26, a resolution was adopted to form a great federation of all the societies of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States for political purposes. Last spring Bishop McFaul of Trenton, N.J., told the Ancient Order of Hibernians that the Roman Catholics of America were fools not to organize into one solid mass and make their power felt in the politics of this country; there were 2,000,000 Roman Catholic voters, and if they were united for political action they could make this country a Roman Catholic nation.
"This federation has now been formed by the following societies: The Knights of Columbus, the Knights of St. John, the Catholic Benevolent Legion, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish Catholic Benevolent Union, the Irish-American Societies, the German-American Societies, the Catholic Knights of America, the Catholic Total Abstinence Union of America; and, as the Brooklyn Eagle of Sept. 26, 1900 (from which we quote), says: 'Besides these organizations there are scores of others of less prominence.'
"The federation is formed, says the Eagle, 'for the avowed purpose of influencing legislation and securing what the Catholics claim are their rights.'
"The convention, which met in the Park Theatre, Brooklyn, was the largest gathering in the history of the Young Men's National Union, and it was addressed by leading priests and laymen from all parts of the country. Father Lavelle, rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral in this city, Monsignor Doane of Newark, N.J., Sheriff Buttling of Brooklyn, Congressman Fitzgerald, of Boston, and Father Wall of Holy Rosary Church, this city, made stirring addresses. The latter was elected president of the union.
"'The convention,' continues the Eagle, which is one of the foremost metropolitan daily journals, 'unanimously approved the plan of federation and appointed committees to carry it into effect. By this means tens of thousands of men of the Catholic faith will be brought under one national head, and this stalwart body of men will have a strong influence on national legislation.' The New York Herald and other papers had similar reports. This is the most important step ever taken by the Roman Catholics in the United States. They now have New York City in their possession, and many of the other large cities of our republic are under their control; all, like Tammany Hall, 'worked for all their worth,' in the interests of the Roman Catholic Church, and incidentally for the benefit of the workers. 'In politics I work for my own pocket all the time,' said Richard Croker, the 'Boss' of Tammany. He might have added that a large share of the municipal plunder goes to Roman Catholic institutions.
"Having possession of the cities, the Romanists now reach out to gain control in national affairs. 'We must make America Catholic,' said Archbishop Ireland at the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the United States, which was held in Baltimore, Nov. 10, 1889. 'We must make America Catholic. As we love our church, it suffices to mention the work and our cry shall be, God wills it, and our hearts shall leap towards it with Crusader enthusiasm.' He was wildly applauded by the eighty bishops, one thousand priests and five thousand laymen present.
"'Why should we fear or hesitate?' he continued, with glowing fervor and proud boasting. 'We number ten millions--a powerful army if the forces be well marshaled and their latent strength be brought into action. Catholics in America are loyal to their church and devoted to her leaders. Their labors and their victories in the first century of their history show what they are capable of in the coming century, when they are conscious of their power and are under complete hierarchical organization.'
"And so, even before the century has begun, they are preparing by a complete organization to conquer this country and turn it over to the pope! What have the Protestants of America to say to this? says The Converted Catholic of New York."
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SOCIALISM GROWING IN GERMANY.
The election of a member of the Reichstag for Brandenburg has caused considerable political excitement throughout Germany, as it has resulted in a signal victory for the Socialist candidate, Herr Peus, by a majority of 648 votes. This constituency has had a varied history, having returned within the past twenty years Conservatives, Radicals and National Liberals; but throughout all its fluctuations one fact was prominent; namely, the growth of Socialism there.
The number of Socialist members now in the Reichstag is fifty-eight; in 1885 there were only twenty-three; in 1890 the number rose to thirty-five. At the general election of 1893 there were forty-four Socialists returned. At the last general election in 1898 the number was fifty-six. Subsequent byeelections have added two members.
If we turn to the number of recorded votes we find that in 1885 over half a million Socialist votes were given; in 1887 three-quarters of a million; in 1890 nearly one million and a half; in 1893 one million and three-quarters; and at the last general election two and a quarter millions. The calculation which places the strength of the Socialist party at the next election at three million votes, and 100 seats in the Reichstag out of a total of 397 seats, would not appear excessive.--London Daily Chronicle, Oct. 29.
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MAKE SURE OF WINNING IN GOD'S ELECTION.
"Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure."--`2 Pet. 1:10`.
INTEREST in the recent election of a President of the United States has been general throughout the whole world, and especially amongst English-speaking peoples: in fact, the exercise of the franchise by the public, whenever and wherever, is generally a matter of absorbing interest to "the children of this world"--whether the office be a high one, as that of President of the United States, or Member of Congress, or Member of Parliament, or whether it be a lower one, for some petty office of ward magistrate or constable. The candidates for these offices and their friends, in proportion to the dignity of the office, do not hesitate to spend money for printing, brass bands, banners, flags, banquets, traveling speakers, etc. And this is looked upon as thoroughly reasonable, and engaged in by the reputedly more intelligent and sane of all nations. But there is another election in progress--an election of a hundred and forty-four thousand, to a higher position than that of any earthly magistrate or potentate; and for not a few years merely, for the elect are promised this highest of all honors for all eternity.
Does the world know about this election? We answer, No. True, many have heard something about an election--that God is "taking out of the nations a people for his name," a "little flock," who, as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord, will be given the Kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him,--the Kingdom for which we pray, "Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." But tho they have heard of this Kingdom and the election now in progress, to make up the foreordained number of its kings and priests they do not really believe it, but regard it as a fantasy, "as a tale that is told," a fairy story which none but the simple-minded and children would take seriously. Ah yes! and so the Redeemer-King informed us it would be; and so he prayed to the Father, saying, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight."--`Matt. 11:25,26`.
If the wise and prudent, the keen and the shrewd, the learned and the great, really comprehended the situation,--if they really believed in this election which is in progress under divine direction, according to the divine Word, what haste there would be amongst them to "make their calling and election sure," as the Apostle exhorts. It is not that people are not appreciative of such honors and dignities of power and influence as this Kingdom offers, that they pass by God's election, and treat it with indifference; for their love of power, their love of influence, their love of position and prestige, is abundantly in evidence in connection, not only with the governments of this world, but also in connection with even the trifling offices in the nominal churches. The spirit of "Which shall be greatest?" has apparently not died out.
But while those who seek for earthly offices of a brief tenure and comparatively small dignity are willing to sacrifice time, energy, money, etc., to attain these petty offices and honors, and while they can arouse enthusiasm amongst their friends and neighbors, leading to expenditures of time, money and energy to an astounding degree, and tho they think it strange that we "run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of us" (`1 Pet. 4:4`), nevertheless, they affect to think it remarkable that we who are candidates for the superlatively high office for which God has nominated us should spend time,
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influence and means in making our calling and election sure, and in assisting "brethren" in their election work: they consider our time wasted. Altho they spend millions of dollars in speeches, brass bands, editorials, parades, etc., to determine which of two men should hold the most honorable office of this nation for four years, they consider it remarkably strange that we should spend a fragment of the amount, or make the one-thousandth part of the commotion to secure for ourselves and to all of the "elect" the great "prize of our high calling."
DIFFERENT STANDPOINT--DIFFERENT VIEW.
All this only illustrates the two very different standpoints from which matters may be viewed. From the world's standpoint the Lord's consecrated people who seek to make their calling and election sure to the heavenly Kingdom are counted fools, because to attain that they are willing to sacrifice present temporal interests; and this sentiment of the public is the same today that it was in the Apostle's time, when he wrote, "If any man among you seemeth to be wise, in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise." (`1 Cor. 3:18`; `4:10`.) From our standpoint, seeing the eternal things and the glories attaching to them, we cannot avoid the feeling that it is "the children of this world" who are foolish, in that they expend so much breath and energy upon things which, if attained, last but a short time, and bring with them large measures of perplexity and trouble and criticism of opponents to their election: and sometimes untellable injury to themselves, the ruled.
But why this difference of opinion? Which party is sane, and which is lacking in sanity? We answer, that the difference is that the one class sees what the other class does not see, and that because God has specially revealed it unto the one. As it is written, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man [the natural man, unilluminated by the holy spirit] the things which God hath in reservation for them that love him; but God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit,...which searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."--`1 Cor. 2:9,10`.
The fact, then, is that the Lord's consecrated people, through faith and by God's holy spirit, have inside information respecting "the things not seen as yet." Hence we see that the two parties--the one seeking earthly honors and advantages, for themselves and each other, the other seeking the heavenly advantages, or election for themselves and each other-- are both laboring for what they see; for what they consider to be the most valuable thing they see and may attain. O how precious, then, is this eye of faith, which the Lord's consecrated people have! No wonder our Lord said to some of his disciples, "Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear"--other eyes do not see and other ears do not hear these heavenly things. And in that sense of the word comparatively few even in civilized lands have been called or nominated of the Lord for his election --comparatively few know anything about it or the terms which must be understood and obeyed in order to make the calling and election sure.
IGNORANCE RESPECTING GOD'S ELECTION.
Even amongst professing Protestant Christians the majority do not know that there is an election. The leading denomination, Methodists, positively deny that there is an election; and even the large denominations which hold that an election is in progress (Presbyterians and Baptists, etc.) have totally false conceptions of its character: they regard God's call or nomination as being the election itself, and hence the words of the Apostle in our text confuse rather than help them. They think of the matter from the standpoint of divine foreknowledge and predestination: they consider the election as something done by the Almighty wholly regardless of the character and works of the elect, saying in their Confessions of Faith, that it takes place without consideration of any worthiness or merit on the part of the elect, but solely of divine grace. They thus make void the Word of God, and the election inducements which it holds out,-- confusing their own minds, and in the end traducing the character of the divine ruler and his law.
Would that they could see what is so plainly set forth in the divine Word; viz., (1) that the predestination on God's part was that he would choose a Church,--from amongst those whom his grace would redeem from the curse of death through the precious blood of Christ. (2) That he predestinated that this Church should be of a fixed, positive, limited number; --we believe literally 144,000--of whom the nucleus was found in the remnant of Israel which accepted of Christ at and after Pentecost: the number being constantly added to throughout the Gospel age, and to be fully completed with the end of this age. (3) That he predestinated what must be the fixed character of each one whom he would recognize as a member of this elect Church, the body of Christ--as the Apostle says, he "predestinated that we should be conformed to the likeness of his Son." (`Rom. 8:29`.) Consequently the predestination meant that none could be of the elect Kingdom class (however plainly they heard the call or nomination), unless they made their calling and election sure by cultivating the graces of the spirit and thus coming into heart-likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ--copies of him who set us an example, that we should walk in his steps.--`1 Pet. 2:21`.
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Here we have an election which accords with every definition of the Scriptures and all the Scriptural facts relating to the divine plan of the ages. It is this election which we feel justified in securing at any cost, at any self-denial, any self-sacrifice; and these self-denials and self-sacrifices are works which must be performed if we would be of the elect; as the Apostle says, we must "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling." (`Phil. 2:12`; `Jas. 2:22`.) Yet these works are not ours (as men) but as "new creatures," members of the body of Christ. And they are God's works in the sense that they are incited by his Word and Spirit: for "it is God that worketh in you to will and to do."--`Phil. 2:13`; `Eph. 3:20`.
Let us not be misunderstood, however. Our justification, the basis of our call or nomination to this high position in the Kingdom was secured, not by works, but by simple faith without works. We were justified by faith, and had peace with God, before it was possible for us to do any works which would be acceptable in his sight. But when we were accepted in the Beloved, having made full consecration of our mortal bodies, and every interest pertaining thereto, --then the works began, the sacrificing began, the self-denials began, the overcoming of the world began, the battle with the world, the flesh and the devil began. This battle must be won in our hearts (even tho we will not attain perfection in the flesh) else we will not make our election sure and receive the crown of glory, the symbol of our joint-heirship with him who bought us with his own precious blood.
So then we see (a) that only those who have heard something, at least, of the grace of God in Christ have been in the remotest sense in contact with the privileges of this election,--because "faith cometh by hearing." And (b) faith the result of hearing, rightly received, brings justification from the sins that are past, and peace with God. And (c) only those who are at peace with God (being justified by faith) are called to joint-heirship with Christ in his sacrifice, walking in his footsteps and thus attaining to joint-heirship with him in his Kingdom. And (d) only those thus called or nominated by God have the remotest opportunity of becoming the elect. And then mark, (e) the Lord's own declaration, "Many are called; few are chosen [elected--from the same Greek word]."--`Matt. 22:14`.
Let us not only assure ourselves of the fact that there is an elect class being selected during the Gospel age, to a special position of honor and service with the Lord, but let us at the same time note the lessons enjoined upon this class of called or nominated ones --the instructions given them of the Lord whereby they may make their calling and election sure.
OTHER SCRIPTURE REFERENCES TO THE ELECT.
"I endure all things for the elect's sake," writes the Apostle Paul. (`2 Tim. 2:10`.) The Apostle's sufferings whereby, as he said, he sought to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ [were] for his body's sake, which is the Church" (`Col. 1:24`) --not for the world. The reason for this is evident: The Apostle knew the Lord's plan to be to call and to elect during this Gospel age a little flock of overcomers of the world, faithful even unto death, as a Royal Priesthood, to share with the Lord Jesus in the Millennial Kingdom. He knew, therefore, that labor on behalf of the world before the world's day of trial or judgment would come, would be to a large extent at least love's labor lost; and hence he was not of those who would "beat the air" in the service of the Lord, accomplishing nothing; he would work according to the divine direction and thus be a co-worker together with God, that in due time as a member of the elect company, faithful to the Lord's call, he would be granted a share in the Kingdom, which is to bless all the families of the earth.
"Even so, at this present time there is an election according to grace....Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it and the rest were blinded." (`Rom. 11:5,7`.) Here the Apostle is speaking of this same elect Church, and is referring to the Jewish remnant out of all the tribes with which this elect Church was started, and to which, after Israel's national rejection of the Lord, the special invitation went forth to the Gentiles, to "take out of them a people for his name [to bear the name of Christ]" to complete the predestinated number of the elect 144,000 (twelve thousand accredited to each of the twelve tribes of Israel). Thus we who are being called from amongst the Gentiles are invited to fill up the deficiency in the elect number of Israel, and will be, so to speak, divided amongst the twelve tribes, tho according to what rule of distinction the Scriptures do not show.
"Put on, therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering, forbearing one another and forgiving one another." (`Col. 3:12,13`.) Here we have an intimation of the character-likeness to God's dear Son which the same writer tells us God has predestinated respecting everyone who will make his calling and election sure. (`Rom. 8:29`.) God has called us with his high calling, and from the time we accept the call and make the requisite full consecration of ourselves to him he gives us the earnest of our inheritance, viz., the spirit of adoption, the spirit of sonship: it remains, however, for us to be tested,--to
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prove the depth of our consecration, the sincerity of our professed love. If we love the Lord with all our hearts we will seek to do those things which are pleasing to him, and these the Apostle is specifying in this Scripture, showing us that God's requirements are all in harmony with his holy spirit of love; that "Love is the fulfilling of the Law," and that we must attain to this condition of perfect love in our hearts if we desire to finish our course with joy, and make our calling and election sure--making sure a share in the inheritance to the spiritual body and the Kingdom glories of which our spirit of begetting is but the earnest or foretaste.
"Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect." (`Titus 1:1`.) Here the Apostle not only reiterates that there is an elect class, but he specifically points out that this class has a special faith, a peculiar faith, that is not shared by others, neither can others know it, for "it is spiritually discerned."--`1 Cor. 2:14`.
"Shall not God avenge his own elect, tho they cry day and night unto him?" (`Luke 18:7`.) Here our Lord himself testifies respecting this elect class. He gave a parable of an unjust judge, who, tho careless respecting the doing of justice to a poor widow, nevertheless was so careful of his own convenience that he would give her justice, lest by her continual coming she would annoy him. And our Lord's inquiry is, if an unjust judge would thus render justice from a selfish motive, could we expect less from the all-wise, all-loving and all-just Heavenly Father? Verily, God shall avenge the cause of his elect, altho he has permitted them to be maligned, slandered, misrepresented, for over eighteen centuries; the time will come when he will give them justice, when he will exalt them; and when those who have wilfully and maliciously injured them shall certainly be punished --in the great time of retribution in which every such evil deed of mankind shall be rendered a recompense, and every good deed receive its reward--in the Millennial day.
"He shall send forth his angels [messengers] and shall gather together his elect from the four winds of heaven." (`Matt. 24:31`.) Here our Lord not only testifies to the fact that there is an elect class, but he assures us that he himself will gather this elect class in due time; in the end of this age when he is ready to establish his Kingdom, in which, as the overcomers, the elect of God, they will be joint heirs and sharers, as in the present life they have been sharers in the sufferings of Christ.--`Rom. 8:17`; `2 Tim. 2:12`; `Matt. 13:43`.
For the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." (`Matt. 24:22`.) Our Lord here refers to the great time of trouble with which this age shall end, "the day of vengeance," the time of retribution, the day of avenging his elect; and he assures us that the trouble then coming upon the world, and which will largely, we see, be brought about by the world's own course, would, if not interrupted by the Kingdom and its intervention with power from on high, mean the utter obliteration of the race at the hand of its own selfishness. But for the elect's sake those days should be shortened, and the time of trouble will not be permitted to run the length which otherwise it would run. As at first, "He shall speak to them in his wrath and vex them in his sore displeasure," so afterward he shall not permit their utter destruction: his Kingdom will stay the trouble, for "He shall speak peace to the heathen [peoples];" he shall say unto them, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth."-- `Psa. 46:10`.
"Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" (`Rom. 8:33`.) The Apostle is here pointing out that altho this called class accepted of God to be his elect, and to run with patience the race set before them, and make their calling and election sure, have weaknesses of the flesh, in the overcoming of which they, as new creatures, are not always wholly successful, nevertheless, God looks upon the heart, and their judgment is not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, the will. Lest such should fear failure after all, he points out that in the great heavenly court there would be none to condemn them;--because God the Judge who once condemned us in Adam has himself justified us in Christ,--accepting on behalf of the Adamic sin and the resultant weaknesses the sacrifice of Christ. And then he points out that Satan, our Adversary, will have no hearing before the heavenly Court, and that there will be none to appear against us, and that on the contrary our Lord and Master, who redeemed us with his precious blood, will be our Advocate. Who then could lay anything to the charge of God's elect?--those whom God has justified, whom God has called, whom God has accepted, and who, according to the divine arrangement, make their calling and election sure. Who would they be who could find fault with these whom God accepts on his own terms? Surely none! "Yea, we are more than conquerors, through him who loved us and bought us with his own precious blood!"
"Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father...through sanctification of the spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." (`1 Pet. 1:2`.) The Apostle here marks out the terms of our election; none can remain in this elect company, nor make his calling and election sure, without
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being under the sprinkling of the blood--justification through faith in the great sacrifice; nor can any attain it without sanctification, a setting apart to God; and such a sanctification as will lead to obedience to God--to the full submission of his will to the will of the Father in heaven. Such must be the character of those who will be of the elect, and this class of which we are seeking to become members was predetermined, foreordained by God; it was not a new thing, but the carrying out of the original divine purpose, in which also our Lord Jesus shared. This the same Apostle shows (`1 Pet. 2:4-6`), declaring that our Lord Jesus himself was the elect of God, and that we who are now being chosen from amongst men to be "members of the body of Christ," members of the elect class, are chosen in him, chosen as members of his body, and as such must be conformed to the likeness of his character. He says: "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen [elect] of God and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up, a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up sacrifices* acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
"Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious, and he that believeth in him shall not be confounded." Thus the whole Church of Christ, the elect little flock, are now being shaped, fitted and prepared for positions in the Temple of God, of which the dear Redeemer himself is the chief cornerstone, the foundation.
"They that are with him are called and chosen [elect --the same word in the Greek] and faithful." (`Rev. 17:14`.) Here in symbol our Lord Jesus tells John, and us through him, of the glorious exaltation of the elect in the Kingdom, when they shall be with him and share his glory as the Apostle declares, and with him judge the world;--granting trial, with gracious opportunities to every member of Adam's race to return to full harmony with God through the merit and by the assistance of him who redeemed the race.
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my spirit upon him. He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles." "I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob and out of Judah, an inheritor of my mountain: and mine elect shall inherit it." "They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall make them continue long." --`Isa. 42:1`; `65:9,22`, margin.
Here our Lord Jesus, the Head, and the Church, "members in particular of the body of Christ," are unitedly declared to be God's elect, in whom he is well pleased. The Father was well pleased in the Son, who came not to do his own will but the will of him that sent him, and by his obedience won all the gracious things promised under the Law Covenant, and redeemed Adam and his race; and the Father is well pleased also in us, whom, tho "we were children of wrath even as others," he has accepted in Christ, justified and sanctified by his Word and spirit, and who, if we abide in Christ, faithful unto death, will be fitted and prepared for his promised Kingdom.
In these statements of the Prophet reference evidently is made to the work of the Lord's anointed (Head and body) in conferring restitution blessings upon the world of mankind during the Millennial age; and this is in full accord with all the New Testament declarations respecting the work of the elect.
"Brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure." This our text is one of the most forceful of the many references to God's elect, and is particularly clear in marking out the conditions upon which election may be surely attained by each one whom the Lord our God shall call or nominate to this grand office--the Royal Priesthood. The Apostle has been mentioning the various graces of the Lord's spirit which those who are seeking to be of this royal and priestly class must develop in their characters. He shows us that there is more or less of an addition in the matter: we put on one grace and add to it another, and to that another, and so on; and do this repeatedly in respect to all the graces, which keep growing, developing in us and rounding out and deepening and broadening us as spiritual new creatures. And he shows that those who do not have such experiences of growth in grace and in knowledge are deficient, and cannot hope to make their calling and election sure.
But seeming to understand that some would question the possibility of their gaining so great a prize, the holy spirit, through the Apostle, gives to this called and chosen class a word of special encouragement, saying, "For if ye do these things ye shall never fall." There may be more or less stumbling on the part of the elect, not through weakness of the spirit, the heart, the new mind, but "through manifold temptations" of the flesh, the earthen vessel, in which temporarily resides the new creature, begotten of the spirit, the elect. The Apostle proceeds to give further assurances, saying, "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." The elect will not be received of the Lord with chidings and upbraidings for the imperfections of the flesh, which were unwillingly theirs, but on the contrary all the
*The word "spiritual" is omitted in this verse as spurious, by old MSS. It is the flesh that is sacrificed, not the new creature.
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weaknesses of the flesh will be ignored, and the intents of the heart alone will be judged, and the heart-character formed will alone be tested and approved; and this will determine whether or not we shall stand the Lord's approval and be granted the glorious things which he has promised to them that love him--"glory, honor and immortality" and a share in the Kingdom and its work of blessing.
"He that hath this [election] hope in him purifieth himself even as he [the Lord] is pure." But how is it with those who have not this hope, and who are totally ignorant of this election,--even tho they be Christians, in the sense of believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Redeemer? Surely they are at a great disadvantage, lacking as they do the proper conception of the exceeding great and precious promises which are the channel of the power of God working in the elect both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
If we have seen that there is an elect class, it follows that there must be a non-elect class--those who are not making their calling and election sure, and it is proper in this connection that we see something respecting this class, and what provision God has made for them. This phase of the subject we reserve for our next issue.
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"SORROWFUL, FOR HE HAD GREAT POSSESSIONS."
--`MATT. 19:16-26`.--DEC. 2.--
"Children, how hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God!"--`Mark 10:24`.
OUR LESSON relates to what for centuries has been called "The Great Refusal." The rich young ruler, whose name is not given, altho possessed of an abundance of the things of this life longed for an assurance of everlasting life. As a Jew he knew the Law; he understood that God had made with this nation, and with no other, through Moses the mediator, a covenant, under which everlasting life might be attained. He perceived, however, that even the best men of his nation had failed to gain eternal life under this covenant--that all had died. He had heard of Jesus, and that "never man spake like this man," and he knew that in many respects his teachings were of a very positive character, and that his manner and instruction were not like those of the scribes and Pharisees, uncertain and equivocal;--that he taught as one having authority, and knowing what he taught to be true. He hesitated to go to this Teacher, but finally, seeing him leaving a house in his own neighborhood, he ran out hastily and point-blank put the question: "Good master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal [everlasting] life?"
Instead of answering his question directly our Lord inquired why he thus addressed him as "good." Jesus' words do not imply, as some have surmised, a denial of being good. Rather, he would impress upon the young ruler the import of his own language, that when he got his answer he might appreciate it the more. Our Lord's words might be paraphrased thus: Are you addressing me as Good Master from the heart, or only as a complimentary salutation? If you really believe me to be good, you must believe in me as a teacher sent of God--the All-Good. More than this, you must believe my testimony, that I proceeded forth and came from God, that I am the Son of God. If my testimony is untrue in any particular I am not good at all, but a falsifier, a hypocrite, a blasphemer. If, then, you call me Good Master from the heart, and believe that I am the "sent of God," the Messiah, you will be the better prepared to receive my reply as the divine answer to that question.
Without waiting to require that the young man should commit himself definitely on the point involved, but content with merely raising the issue in his mind. our Lord proceeded to answer the question.
We are not to understand our Lord's answer to this young Jew, at a time when the Law Covenant was still in force, to be the same that he would give, or that we should give in his name, today, in reply to a similar inquiry. The young man was living under a covenant of works, of which the Apostle declares, quoting from the Law itself, "He that doeth these things shall live by them." (`Lev. 18:5`; `Rom. 10:5`.) The New Covenant had not yet been sealed with our Lord's
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precious blood, and hence it was not operative toward this young ruler or anybody else at this time. Our Lord could not properly direct the young man's attention to any other procedure than the keeping of the conditions of the Law Covenant which was still in force. Anyway, this was what the young man inquired: "What good thing must I do that I may have everlasting life?" It was for this reason that our Lord did not say, as we should say today in answer to such a question: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ--believe that he died for your sins, and arose for your justification, and accepting him as your Savior, as the Mediator of the New Covenant, present your life in full consecration of all its talents, powers and opportunities to the Lord's service.
Our Lord did point out to the young man the only way to life everlasting then open--the keeping of the Law. He well knew that the young man could not keep this Law perfectly, and hence could not obtain everlasting life through it; but he would bring the matter
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before his attention in the most favorable form to be comprehended--without preaching the New Covenant or any other feature of the divine plan not yet due to be announced. Hence the form of his reply.
The Law was divided into two parts or tables, the first relating to Jehovah and the second to the neighbor. Our Lord ignored the first of these, realizing that the young man, so far from desiring to make or worship idols or another god, was seeking to know and to do the will of the true God. Our Lord would bring the answer down to the simplest possible proposition, and hence referred merely to the commandments respecting duty toward his fellow-creatures, and got the response that so far as the young man had discerned the matter he had kept the Law; but altho he kept its outward form he realized that something was still lacking. He had no evidence that he had received any special blessing of eternal life, and wished to know of the Master what hindered, what he lacked of being a perfect man, keeping the Law and meriting the reward of that Law, life everlasting. No wonder Jesus, looking upon him, loved him; everybody who loves righteousness loves those who are righteous, or who are striving to the best of their ability to come up to the mark of righteousness,--perfection.
THE GRACE OF ALL GRACES.
Then Jesus told him plainly, "One thing thou lackest." You have been endeavoring to keep God's Law, and have done well, so far as the outward is concerned; but the spirit of the Law you have not apprehended at all--the spirit of the Law is Love. "The whole Law is comprehended briefly in one word." "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." (`Rom. 13:9,10`.) You have been getting the outside, or shell of the divine command, but have entirely overlooked the precious thing in it, the kernel, the essence,--love to God supremely and love toward your fellowman as toward yourself. Let me prove this to you, by suggesting that you demonstrate your love for your neighbors by disposing of your property for the assistance of poorer ones. Then consecrate your life in loving devotion to God's service, and come with me as my disciple, taking up the cross of self-denial thus involved.
The test was a crucial one, and manifested clearly the distinction between the letter and the spirit of the Law. The cross was too heavy for the rich young ruler. He had gotten the answer to his question, but oh! it was so different from what he had anticipated. He had felt comparatively well satisfied with himself, altho realizing that something must still be lacking. He had rather expected Messiah's commendation, and perhaps some further advice, but nothing so radical. It was too much for him; he went away exceeding sorrowful, says Luke; his countenance fell, says Mark; it was a sore disappointment. For the time being he could not think of accepting the Master's prescription, the dose was too bitter, and he must at least think the matter over well.
Whatever course this young ruler may have subsequently taken we are not informed; but of one thing we may be sure; he had learned a great lesson respecting the scope and significance of the Law. He had ascertained the impossibility of his attaining eternal life under the Law Covenant.
It will be seen that we totally disagree with those who claim that the condition of this young man and our Lord's words to him apply to all young men or to those possessing wealth--tho the spirit of the matter is applicable to all, under the different conditions of the New Covenant. The New Covenant says to us, rich and poor, "Christ died for us, according to the Scriptures." He not only met the requirements of the Law, and fulfilled that Covenant and annulled it, but additionally he sealed and ratified the New Covenant under which he, its Mediator, can apply to all who come under its provisions through faith whatever share of his merit is necessary to make good the weaknesses and imperfections of our flesh to which our hearts, our minds, do not assent. Accordingly, even if when some come to Jesus to inquire the way of eternal life, they should be unable to say, as did this young ruler, "All these things have I done from my youth up,"--if it should be even necessary for such to confess with shame, "All these commandments have I violated," nevertheless, the provisions of the New Covenant are such that even the vilest sinner who has turned from sin and who at heart desires henceforth to walk in the way of righteousness, and who, repenting of the sins of the past, gladly makes such restitution as is within his power--all such are accepted in the Beloved One, and reckoned as justified freely from all things, from which the Law could not justify them.
Then such are invited, as was the young ruler, to come, take up their cross, and follow Jesus--come, prove, demonstrate, their love for righteousness, their devotion to God and every feature of his will; come, crucify self and selfishness, and receive into their hearts instead the spirit of God, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of love. Not merely to love their neighbors in word, but in deed and in truth, so that so far from wishing to steal from them, or to kill them, or bear false witness against them, or to do any other evil toward them, their hearts' desire would be the reverse of these, to do them good, to bless them. God is Love; the spirit of his Law is Love; and the spirit of his faithful Son, Jesus, is Love. Love is the holy spirit, of which the Apostle declares, "If any man have not the spirit of Christ
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[love, in some measure] he is none of his." Under the New Covenant, if the heart be full of love, it is acceptable with God even tho the heart may not be able at all times to control the flesh in respect to every thought and word and act, and to show forth through it this holy spirit of love which rules paramount in the heart.
The New Covenant is God's agreement, under which he accepts, through Christ, the intentions of our hearts as tho the same were actually and fully demonstrated in our lives; and certainly our hearts' desires will find expression through the flesh in large measure, tho not always perfectly. Thus our hearts may to some extent be read by our fellowmen, tho not perfectly, while to our heavenly Father they are an open book. Moreover, the love which enters and fills our hearts expands them and crowds out more and more of the natural and selfish propensities, crossing this natural, or earthly will with the heavenly one, the new mind. Thus gradually making progress in the new way, the Lord's saints are growing in knowledge and in grace, and more and more are having the love of God shed abroad in their hearts.
"TRUST NOT IN UNCERTAIN RICHES."
Our Lord took advantage of this episode to impart a lesson to his disciples, showing them the danger of riches--any kind of riches, honor of men, political influence, many and large talents or abilities, social standing, fine education and material wealth--for one may be rich in any of these senses. "It is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of heaven." (Revised Version.) Our Lord does not here undertake to explain why there would be greater difficulties for those possessing riches to enter into his Kingdom, but from other scriptures we learn the reasons, and why it is that the heirs of the Kingdom will be chiefly found amongst the poorer classes. "Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the mighty." (`1 Cor. 1:26,27`; `Jas. 2:5`.) The rich are "called," in one sense of the word, but not in another; they are equally invited but they are much less likely (than others who are poorer) to accept the Lord's invitation and to present themselves according to the terms of the Kingdom call. In this sense of the word "called" only those who accept the call are meant; and they then divide themselves into two classes--those who make their calling and election sure, and obtain the Kingdom, obtain a part in the first resurrection to glory, honor and immortality, obtain a place with Messiah in his throne, to share with him in his Millennial Kingdom; and others who do not make their calling and election sure, either by becoming reprobates, and subjects of the Second Death, or by a failure to manifest a sufficiency of zeal in the race for the prize, and on this account being remanded to the class known as the "great company," who must come through great tribulation, washing their robes in the blood of the Lamb.--`Rev. 7:9-15`.
It is well that we note carefully what are the hindrances of these "rich," preventing them from having so favorable an opportunity as their (in earthly respects) less favored brethren. (1) The possession of
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earthly good things, "riches," is less favorable to the development of faith, without which it is impossible to be pleasing to God. (2) These earthly advantages are more likely to develop pride, a serious barrier to every grace, and an impossible barrier as respects the Kingdom, which can be attained only through humility. (3) Riches of any kind bring with them friends and associates of the earth, whose hearts being generally out of sympathy with the Lord and the Kingdom will constitute them adversaries to the new mind, from whose influence it will be the more difficult to break completely away. (4) And summing up all of the foregoing, those possessed of such earthly riches have proportionately more to sacrifice than those who are poorer in these respects; and the greater the things sacrificed the greater the difficulty in performing the sacrifice.
However, on the other hand, it may be said that whenever one who is rich in this world's goods (talents, etc.) does present himself a living sacrifice to the Lord and his service it witnesses to a deeper heart-loyalty than if he were poorer. It implies a greater sacrifice, and it implies also the exercise of greater opportunities in the Lord's service. The servant who has five talents and who uses them faithfully, and doubles them, accomplishes a greater work than the servant who, having one talent, uses it faithfully and doubles it, and our Lord's understanding of this matter is shown in the fact that according to the parable the one will have granted to him authority over ten cities, and the other authority over two, altho both will be commended-- "Well done, good, faithful servant."--`Matt. 25:14-30`.
If we would look for illustrations showing wherein the rich (in talents, etc.) have been faithful, we would find at the head of the list our Lord himself, "who was rich, but for our sakes became poor." As he was richer than all others in every sense of the word, so proportionately his sacrifice was greater than that of all others in every sense of the word, and his honor, glory and power are greater. "He is Lord of all." "Him hath God highly exalted and given a name that is above every name." Similarly the Apostle Paul was rich-- if not in money and property, he was at least rich in education, in social advantages and privileges, and in
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life's opportunities; and we may say that since the Apostle so faithfully sacrificed all these earthly riches for the sake of the privilege of preaching the Gospel of Christ, his must have been a much larger sacrifice than that of the majority of men: and proportionately we anticipate that his reward in the Kingdom will be great because he counted these earthly "riches" but "loss and dross that he might win Christ and be found in him [a member of the Anointed One]."--`Phil. 3:8,9`.
So then, while we call attention to the fact that few will be in the Kingdom who have had great opportunities, privileges, property or other "riches" of this world, we nevertheless encourage those who possess this world's goods of any kind, to consider that they thus hold within their grasp grand opportunities which rightly used will yield riches of grace, not only in the life that now is but also in the life that is to come; working out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, proportionate to their sacrifices and faithfulness in their stewardship.
We cannot wonder that the disciples were astonished to learn that few of the rich would enter the Kingdom, for did they not see on every hand that the rich had the more important places in the synagogues and in the offices of the Jewish system? Did they not see that comparatively few of the poor in this world's goods were rated amongst the saints? No wonder they inquired, where would the Kingdom class be found, if the rich were excluded? How, then, could the salvation which God had promised should come through his Kingdom ever be attained?
The time for explaining these features of the divine plan having not yet come, our Lord contented himself with merely assuring the disciples that they must leave such a question to the Father; that the truth of his statement did not imply that no Kingdom could be formed, but that with God the matter was possible, and that his original promise to Abraham would be fulfilled, a Kingdom class be selected, and the blessing of salvation be communicated through it. To have told them of the rejection of the Jewish nation, all except the "remnant" of believers, mainly the poor, and to have explained to them that the elect Church, the elect Seed of Abraham, would be completed from amongst the Gentiles, of a similarly poor class as respects this world's advantages, would have been going beyond what was then due to be explained,--beyond what the disciples would have been able to comprehend at that time; and hence our Lord, using the true wisdom from above, refrained from saying more than would be to their advantage to know--leaving such information, as he explained to them subsequently, for unfoldment to them by the Comforter--the holy spirit which would come upon them at Pentecost.--`John 14:26`.
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ENTREATY ANSWERED,--BLIND EYES OPENED.
`MARK 10:46-52`.--DEC. 9.
"Lord, that I might receive my sight."
WHILE PASSING along a road in the vicinity of Jericho, possibly going from the old city to the newer one of the same name, a great multitude following him, our Lord passed by two blind men, sitting begging by the wayside. (Mark mentions only one, the chief subject of the lesson, but Matthew mentions a companion.) Bartimeus, one of the two, as he heard the multitude passing and learned from some of them that they accompanied Jesus, the reputed Messiah, of whom he had no doubt heard before, was struck with the fact that his opportunity for a blessing was near at hand and rapidly passing from him. He began to cry out, his voice rising above the din of the multitude, saying, "Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Our Lord paid no heed at first, but passed on. The multitude rebuked the blind man, so to speak, saying, "You, poor beggar, should not thus cry out and annoy and seek to take the attention of so great a one as this, whom we verily believe to be the Messiah, and whose mission is the establishment of God's Kingdom; keep quiet!" But so much the more did he cry out for mercy. He longed for sight, and had faith to believe that the great Messiah might be prevailed upon to rescue him from darkness. Jesus stopped and gave the word to the multitude to bring the blind man to him. He might have gone to the blind man, or he might have lifted up his voice and spoken to the blind man, bidding him to come; but instead he chose to use instrumentalities--to give those about him an opportunity of sharing in the work of blessing. So the word was passed from one to another, and the blind man was helped forward and thus greater attention was brought to the whole miracle and to the divine power which it manifested. Those who had but a moment before upbraided the blind man for his temerity in expecting a blessing from the Messiah, now gladly bore the message of hope to him, saying, "Be of good cheer! arise; he calleth thee." And he sprang up, casting away his outer robe that he might go the more quickly to Jesus for the blessing.
Everything connected with the case shows us that Bartimeus possessed a large amount of faith, and that he was very earnestly desirous of the blessing which
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he received. When he came to Jesus, altho the latter knew well his desire, he inquired respecting it. He would have the blind man express himself respecting his hopes and desires. He answered, "Rabboni, that I may receive my sight!" The word "lord" here is "rabboni," the most reverential term of four titles used amongst the Jews at that time (rab, rabbi, rabban, rabboni). Then Jesus touched his eyes (`Matt. 20:34`), saying, "Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole." Sight came immediately, and Bartimeus became one of the followers of Jesus.
The lesson itself is a very beautiful one in demonstration of the Lord's tender compassion and divine power; and from its incidents we might draw other lessons, parallels, as it were. For instance, sin brought alienation from God, and moral blindness, which prevails today in every land and on every hand. The Apostle thus pictures some of the heathen, desirous of having the light of truth, as blind men groping after things desired. He speaks of such as crying out to the Lord in prayer, and "feeling after God, if haply they might find him;" just as Bartimeus had cried out to the Lord and then went to him. And as Bartimeus cast away his outer robe that he might go to the Lord the more speedily, so the sinner should cast away everything found to be a hindrance--he should make acknowledgement and repentance of sins, and he should make restitution also as far as possible, and thus approach the Lord.
And such, when their eyes are opened to see the blessings of God bestowed upon them, should look,
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as Bartimeus looked, first into the face of the Savior with gratitude and appreciation, and look unto the Father through him. Indeed, their eyes being opened by the word of truth, they will gradually come to see everything in a new light, and be able to say, "Old things [of darkness and sin] are passed away; all things are become new"--lighted by the knowledge of God; for we have been "translated out of darkness into marvelous light." It is unnecessary to add that such transformed sinners should thenceforth follow Jesus as his disciples, seeking to walk in his steps.
Another lesson might profitably be drawn from this narrative. Bartimeus was not a sinner, in the sense of being an alien, stranger, foreigner and outcast from the divine favor. He was a member of the household of faith, an Israelite, to whom belonged the promises and the covenants, etc. (`Rom. 9:4`); yet he was blind. And so there are today in spiritual Israel many who are not sinners, strangers, aliens from God, but members of the household of faith and heirs of the promises, who are mentally, spiritually, blind. They are blind to the goodness of God as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord: they do not appreciate the love of God, having been blinded thereto by false theories and traditions of men. Because of their blindness they are unable to "comprehend with all saints the lengths and breadths and heights and depths and to know the love of Christ," as they should do. Perhaps some of them are accountable to some extent for their own blindness, and quite possibly others are in no measure responsible.
We notice that in the case of Bartimeus Jesus did not inquire respecting his responsibility for his condition. It was sufficient that he realized that he was blind, and that he earnestly desired from the heart to receive his sight, and that he demonstrated this by his prayers and his efforts to obtain sight. So today, to those spiritual Israelites who are blind to the beauties and harmonies of the divine character and plan, if they are willing to admit their blindness, and so anxious for the light that they will cry aloud and not be dissuaded from their good desires, they will undoubtedly get the blessing they crave, the opening of their eyes of understanding, that they may be able to understand "the deep things of God."--`1 Cor. 2:10-12`.
We see many blind people of this latter sort today. Nearly all of the nominal churches are full of them. But alas! the vast majority are unlike Bartimeus --they do not realize their condition nor hunger and thirst for the light, nor come to the Master in the humble attitude necessary to receive it. Their pitiable condition is described by the Lord himself (`Rev. 3:17`) under the name Laodicea. He tells why they do not receive their sight--why they cannot comprehend the lengths and breadths and depths of divine love: "Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked."
As it was not within the power of the multitude to give Bartimeus his sight, neither is it within our power to give sight to the spiritually blind. All we can do is to let the blind ones know that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by--that the great Physician is able and willing to grant them the opening of the eyes of their understanding. Those who long for sight, who love the truth, who hate darkness and error, and none others, will be attracted by the information, and lift up their voices in supplication for assistance. But, alas! when they do cry aloud for help there are sure to be some, even amongst the Lord's friends, to rebuke them for their earnestness, instead of encouraging it. However, such oppositions only serve to demonstrate the amount of faith and the measure of love for the light, and the Lord evidently intends that only those who seek for truth "as men search for silver" shall find the knowledge of God.--`Prov. 2:4`.
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When the faith and earnestness of the seeker for light have been sufficiently demonstrated the Master will grant him the opportunities he desires. Nevertheless he will require that even in their blindness all shall manifest and exercise faith, and come to him through evil report as well as through good report, to receive the enlightenment sought. And when they obey thus they surely receive a good reward in their appreciation of the Lord's character and plan. From this new standpoint they can sing with the spirit and with the understanding also,--
"How happy and blessed the hours,
Since Jesus I always can see;
Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flowers
Have all gained new sweetness for me."
They will surely acknowledge that whatever their joys in the Lord previously they are multiplied by the opening of the eyes of their understanding. And is it surprising that such will follow the Lord? Nay, verily! How could we do otherwise than "show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light"?--`1 Pet. 2:9`.
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ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH RESTORED.
--`LUKE 19:1-10`.--DEC. 16.--
"The Son of Man is come to seek
and to save that which was lost."
ZACCHAEUS was a Jew and a chief publican, which signifies that he was in the employ of the Roman government as a tax-gatherer, a very lucrative office, but one greatly despised amongst the Jews, because (1) their views of patriotism led them to resent the service of their conquerors; (2) their tax-gatherers collected for a per centage of the tax, and were at the same time assessors of the amount of the tax, and charged (probably generally with good reason), with gross violations of justice--taking advantage of their position and of the necessities of their neighbors to reap large usury by advancing them money for the tax and requiring superabundant security for both tax and usury. Publicans, then, it will be seen, were a disreputable class amongst their own people, esteemed as financially immoral, and unworthy the confidence and honor of faithful Jews. Zacchaeus as a "chief" probably employed under-collectors to assist him in his contract, and for this reason was designated chief publican.
He had heard of Jesus evidently, and curiosity and possibly other nobler sentiments operated in his heart and led him to desire to see the great Teacher. Possibly indeed he had qualms of conscience respecting his business and business methods, and a longing for peace with God, which his riches could not take the place of. These nobler and better thoughts and aspirations were quickened as he found himself in the presence of the celebrated Nazarene, of whose holiness and exalted teachings he had heard. Quite probably, too, he had heard that, unlike the Pharisees, this great Teacher did not spurn publicans and sinners, but, on the contrary, treated them kindly. Zacchaeus sought a glimpse of the Master's face, but there being a throng in the way, and he being of small stature, could not discern him. There was a throng anyway at this season, going up to the Passover, and so notable a person as Jesus would always be an attraction.
Zacchaeus soon resolved what to do, for he was a resourceful man; he would run ahead and climb into a tree, and thus get a good view of the Master. We cannot help admiring the courage of this little rich man, ordinarily probably dignified enough in his bearing, but now his heart swelling with feelings of interest in righteousness and a desire for reconciliation with God, and ran along like a boy and climbed the tree. When Jesus and the multitude came to the place the Lord addressed Zacchaeus by name, possibly by that power of knowledge which is beyond our comprehension; or possibly by reason of hearing the crowd jeer and laugh at the little rich publican in his lugubrious position.
How astonished he must have been when the Master said, "Zacchaeus, come down, for I must lodge at thy house!" So great an honor as this Zacchaeus had not dreamed of, and the multitude of Jews were likewise surprised. The latter murmured against Jesus because he, as a holy man, should have nothing whatever to do with this publican. Perhaps it was in part to give the Pharisees a lesson, as well as to provide for his own entertainment or to put himself in the way of Zacchaeus, that our Lord proposed this visit to the publican's house. In any event, nothing could have pleased the serious thinking little man more. He came down from the tree immediately, and joyfully took Jesus (and the disciples also we may presume) to his home for entertainment. Thus does the Lord look for and care for and assist those who are of a contrite heart --those who are feeling after God, and longing, as prodigals, to return to the Father's house. Had Zacchaeus been of other condition of heart we may reasonably presume that our Lord would have paid no attention to him whatever.
What a surging of sentiment took place in the heart of little Zacchaeus! His name in the Hebrew comes from a root signifying pure, and the inference is not unreasonable that his ancestors had been noble and holy people, and that back of his love for money and dishonest practices lay good principles, which now, under favorable conditions, were asserting themselves and clamoring for a change of life,--worrying his conscience and embittering all his pleasures and causing
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him to long for righteousness in his own heart and life. In no other way can we account for his sudden determination to reform. Nor was he content merely to determine upon reform in his heart; he would seal the matter by a public confession. As we read, he stood forth in the presence of his own family, in the presence of Jesus and his disciples, and probably numerous friends and neighbors who had gone along, and publicly acknowledged that he had gained part of his wealth by unjust exactions, and pledged himself to restore all such wrongfully obtained money, to the extent of his ability, fourfold. More than this, realizing that there were probably many cases of small injustices which it would be impossible for him to ever correct in detail, he publicly pledged one-half of all his possessions to the poor in off-set of these.
Noble Zacchaeus! Well did his conduct show that the Master knew what he was doing when he went to lodge with this little man, so much despised by some of the Pharisees. Jesus knew that notwithstanding his wrong course of life he was much nearer to the right attitude of heart than some of the self-righteous who denounced him--altho outwardly they were living a cleaner life and a more moral one--making clean the outside of the cup while inwardly it was full of vile affections and selfishness, abominations in God's sight.
Our Lord's reply is striking: "This day is salvation come to this house; forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham." While it is true that "salvation is to be brought unto us at the revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"--at his second advent--it is nevertheless true also that this salvation begins in the present life to all who are of the spiritual house of Israel, who, repenting of their sins, come into harmony with the Lord, and seek to walk according to his ways. It is a salvation of the heart, reclaiming it from sin and selfishness and meanness--filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit." --`2 Cor. 7:1`.
This salvation means reformation and transformation; and while the Lord can read the heart and see there more than men can see respecting the change, yet, as Brother D.L. Moody suggests, the change, the conversion, the transformation of life, must have been appreciable even by the most unsympathetic of Zacchaeus' neighbors when, the next morning after this event, Zacchaeus' servant presented himself to the neighbor with a purse of money, and when asked what it was for replied, "My master says that he extorted from you a sum of money years ago, and now returns it fourfold." The conversion that includes recompense--and that not merely in a skimped manner but abundantly --four-fold--undoubtedly signifies a true conversion, one that is not likely soon to be forgotten or ignored.
We might find parallels to this incident, which belonged to the end of the Jewish age and to fleshly Israel, in the end of this age and to spiritual Israel. We find today some backsliders from the Lord's Covenant of Grace, as Zacchaeus was a backslider from the Lord's Covenant of the Law. We may perhaps find them living in a measure of sin, in business which they admit is unjust and in violation of their consciences. We are not, therefore, to pass by them with the Gospel message, the good tidings of great joy; but if any such manifest an interest in the present truth we are to seek to assist them as our Lord and Head assisted Zacchaeus. And there is an encouragement to this class in Zacchaeus' case, for tho they may feel themselves sadly short of the stature of a man in Christ, if they have in their hearts a longing desire for righteousness and to behold the Lord's face, they will find opportunity to do so, if they will but humble themselves to take the necessary steps. And sincere reformation today must be like that of Zacchaeus; it must make some outward manifestation expressive of contrition and of a desire to make reparation to the extent of ability. Some one has said, and quite truly, we think:--
"No religious profession amounts to anything if it does not include a readiness to put one's property at the service of the Lord. It has been well said that 'a personal consecration' should be spelled 'a purse-and-all consecration.' And the full restitution of all that had been taken wrongfully must be made by a Christian disciple--even to the stripping of himself of all his earthly goods."
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CHRISTIAN HOME EMBELLISHMENTS.
We have a choice assortment of Scripture and Motto Text Cards of our own importation from London. Some are of dark red and dark green color, assorted shapes and sizes, embossed with silver lettering and with hanging cords; others on light tinted cards with flowers or other illumination, etc. The mottoes are too numerous to specify but all good. The prices range from five cents to twenty cents each: and these prices are considerably less than the usual.
Another drawback has been the difficulty in preparing small quantities for mail, so as to prevent their getting damaged. We believe we can best surmount all these difficulties by putting them up in $1.00 packages as follows:--
2 mottoes dark, 5c each.................. .10
2 " light, 5c " .................. .10
2 " dark, 10c " .................. .20
3 " " 20c " .................. .60
2 "To Us the Scriptures Teach"........... .10
2 Text Easels, 2c each................... .04
4 Text Cards............................. .08
Postage and packing free.
We will put these up in four different --A,B,C,D,-- assortments, so that persons ordering more than one package need not get duplicates except the fifth item. If you order more than one package and want variety, say so.
Importing these ourselves and saving jobbers' profits and saving time, etc., by packing them in this way, we can afford to supply these bundles for the price named, one dollar. We would not offer them were we not sure that our readers will appreciate them and thank us for bringing them to their attention. The card marked above, "To Us the Scriptures Clearly Teach," is our own get up, of rose pink color printed in maroon ink, size 11x14 inches, with silk cord hanger. On one side is the statement which appears at top of page 2 of each WATCH TOWER in good sized type. It is a statement of Bible faith which none need feel ashamed of; and which should be seen in the homes of all WATCH TOWER readers. We have gotten out a large quantity and can therefore supply them very cheaply,--at five cents each (plus five cents for tube and postage). In lots of 20 for $1.00 postage free.