VOL. XXXII APRIL 15 No. 8
A.D. 1911--A.M. 6039
Views from The Watch Tower........................115
The Day Has Not Come..........................115
China's Cry for Pity..........................115
To Shorten the Commandments...................116
Church Unity Congress.........................116
The Good Tidings Abroad (No. 1)...................117
Reminders of Apostolic Days...................118
"Until the Lord Come".............................120
The Day of the Lord Has Come..................120
The Church's Judgment Now--The
World's Not Yet Here........................120
"Consider Him Lest Ye Be Wearied".................122
What Our Lord Feared and From What
He Was Saved................................124
"Offered Up Strong Cryings and Tears
to Him Who Was Able to Save Him"............125
Sin Not With Your Tongue..........................126
We Should Daily Render Our Accounts...........126
Berean Questions in Scripture Studies.............127
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
"BROOKLYN TABERNACLE," 13-17 HICKS ST.,
BROOKLYN, N.Y., U.S.A.
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INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDENTS ASSOCIATION MEETINGS
AT WHICH BROTHER C. T. RUSSELL WILL BE PRINCIPAL SPEAKER
FRIENDS FROM NEARBY PLACES ARE CORDIALLY INVITED.
BROOKLYN, N.Y., MAY 7
Morning Rally for Praise and Testimony at 10:30 o'clock in the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Discourse for the Public at 3 p.m. in the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lafayette Avenue and St. Felix Street. Topic, "The Resurrection Hope." Visitors and friends will be cordially welcomed.
LYNCHBURG, VA., MAY 14
Morning Rally at 10:30 o'clock. Discourse for the interested at 11 o'clock and Lecture for the Public at 3 p.m. All services to be in the Auditorium, Main Street, between 11th and 12th Streets. Visitors and friends will be cordially welcomed.
BALTIMORE, MD., MAY 21
Morning Rally at 10:30 o'clock. Discourse for the interested at 11 o'clock in Lehman's Hall, 856 North Howard Street. Afternoon service for the Public at 3 o'clock in the Lyric Theatre, Mount Royal and Maryland Avenues.
BOSTON, MASS., MAY 28
BROOKLYN, N.Y., JUNE 4
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
THE DAY HAS NOT COME!
SAYS ARCHBISHOP IRELAND
The night of weeping is to give place to the morning of joy, says God's Word.
Messiah is to establish his Kingdom of Peace and compel the abolition of war, so the Bible declares, and so both Catholics and Protestants agree.
Yet both Catholics and Protestants agree that Messiah's Kingdom was set up in power and great glory more than eighteen centuries ago. Why, then, has it failed of its mission? Can either Catholics or Protestants explain?
Hear Archbishop Ireland at Peoria, Ill., on February 23, as follows:--
"Has the day come of such eminent prepotency of the principle of arbitration that a great nation, such as the United States of America, may safely turn all its swords into plow-shares and all its spears into sickles? No one will make the affirmation.
"No, the day of assured and lasting international peace has not arrived, if ever ambitions and pride of nations permit it to arrive.
"Today the nation that dismantles its ships of war and disbands its soldiers puts itself in danger of gross humiliation, if not fatal disaster. Today America is respected by its sister nations--it is respected because, also, it is feared.
"Peace America invokes, but to be the more sure of peace America must be ready at a moment's notice to summon to its defense an army and a navy to whom defeat is impossible."
God's Kingdom, Messiah's Kingdom, was not set up eighteen centuries or more ago. That is the mistake! It is not yet set up! The Church was not commissioned to conquer the world and to reign as and for Christ during this time. Her commission was to "make herself ready." (`Rev. 19:7`.) She is to be her Lord's mouthpiece in calling and instructing the elect, who, at the First Resurrection, are to be "changed" to the "divine nature," as St. Peter declares, and then will inherit with their Redeemer his Messianic Kingdom, which will rule the world with a "rod of iron" for its blessing and uplift out of sin and selfishness.--`2 Peter 1:4`.
Christendom (Catholic and Protestant) has labored under the huge mistake of supposing themselves authorized to rule the world. The attempt to live by their erroneous opinions deluged the world with the blood of religious "holy wars" and cruel persecutions of each other and of the Jews.
It is time to awake to the fact that the Lord's call now to his people is to show their loyalty by faith and obedience to the Divine law of love, even unto self-sacrifice, even unto death. So the Apostle wrote, "If we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with him."-- `Rom. 8:16,17`; `I Cor. 6:2,3`.
The First Resurrection, like the second coming of Christ, will be invisible, except as the glory and power of the Messianic Kingdom will quickly follow. (1) A time of world-wide trouble. (2) A reign of righteousness world-wide, the cessation of wars, etc., as promised in the Prophets.
Let us no longer deceive ourselves by speaking and thinking of civilized nations as Kingdoms of God in any sense. Let us recognize them, Scripturally, as "kingdoms of this world," Gentile kingdoms, permitted to hold sway until the time of Messiah's Kingdom --and no longer. (`Daniel 2:44`.) Let us not expect of these kingdoms the blessings promised only under Messiah's Kingdom. Let us, on the contrary, watch and pray for the Kingdom of Heaven and prepare ourselves, and all who have the hearing ear, for our promised resurrection "change;" and let us leave all else to God. He is able and willing to work all things according to the counsel of his own will.
CHINA'S CRY FOR PITY
The intoxicating curse of China is opium. Half a century ago, China endeavored to control the situation and to exclude all foreign opium. But wealthy Englishmen were concerned, because they had large interests in India, where the poppy, from which opium is made, grows profusely.
The result was a war, in which the heathen Chinese, not having up-to-date Christian (?) cannons and ships, lost heavily. Then the British fastened themselves on the Chinese, took control of a liberal piece of territory, and made a treaty, which the conquered Chinese were forced to accept. That treaty stipulates the admission of opium into China. The Chinese cannot stop the traffic without precipitating war with the most powerful Kingdom of Christ (?) on earth, so far as naval strength goes.
Now, after years of suffering, the Chinese are becoming civilized, or Christianized (?), to the extent of adopting cannon, rapid-fire guns, a regular army, etc. They are about to establish a Parliamentary form of Government also, and are arranging to school the rising generation in the English language. It is said that vast orders for these new school-books have been placed in the United States.
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Now China realizes that opium is her great curse; she has passed laws against the growth of the poppy and the manufacture of opium. But she finds that the imports of opium amount to 5,000,000 pounds per year. She cries out again, as in the past, that this Great Kingdom of Christ (?) (Great Britain) will have mercy upon her and cease to insist on this curse being introduced to blight China morally and physically.
A MONSTER PETITION
The young men of heathen China have started a monster petition for the cessation of opium importation. The signatures are to be 200,000, representing China's 400,000,000 people. It is to be addressed to his Majesty, King George, of Great Britain and Ireland, and Emperor of India and the Isles of the Sea and Head of the Church of England--the mightiest Kingdom of Christ (?) on earth.
The text of this appeal has already appeared in the New York Herald, February 17. It recounts that a previous appeal, of similar character, was made without avail to the King's royal grandmother in 1858, when she was the representative of this branch of Christ's Kingdom (?).
Is not all this very incongruous! very strange? What hypocrisy we have indulged in! How we all should be ashamed of it! Think of one of the chief nations of earth sending Bibles and missionaries to the heathen in one hand and rum and opium in the other! Is it any wonder that the heathen reject our two-faced overtures as best they are able? Is it any wonder that the "common people" of Great Britain are unable to take their religion seriously and are falling away from all church association--into infidelity?
It is no wonder! Let us get back to honesty and truth. Let us admit that Great Britain is one of the kingdoms of this world. Let us not charge the faults of our selfishness to God and to Christ's Kingdom. Let us stand for the best possible in worldly government and continue to pray for and to hope and wait for the Kingdom which is to come and to bring about the doing of God's will on earth as it is done in heaven, according to the prayer of our dear Redeemer and Lord.
TO SHORTEN THE COMMANDMENTS
Advices from London note that the highest counsels of the Church of England are considering the advisability of modifying and shortening the Ten Commandments-- especially the second, fourth and tenth.
Those who admit that God gave those commands must be egotistic in the extreme to attempt to correct the Almighty!
Those who disbelieve in the Divine authorship of the commands would better repudiate them entirely and make new ones to their own pleasement and properly credited to their own wisdom.
God's consecrated people, guided by his Word in the New Testament, realize that the law is just and good. But they see also that it was given to the Jew and not to the Christian "new creatures in Christ."
These latter are spirit-begotten and are under the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ--a superior Law--a Law which requires love to God supremely and love for our fellow-creatures as for ourselves. This Law of Love includes all of the requirements of the Mosaic Law and more.
If the Jew could not keep the Mosaic Law, because of the hereditary weakness of his flesh, neither can the Christian "new creature" keep his still higher law for the same reason.
But God is not judging these "new creatures" as flesh beings, but as spirit beings. They are being judged according to their minds, their hearts, their intentions. Thus "the righteousness of the Law of God is fulfilled in us, who are walking, not after the flesh, but after the spirit. --`Rom. 8:1`.
CHURCH UNITY CONGRESS
Early in March a "Church Unity Congress" at Los Angeles, Cal., is recorded. Its principal speaker was Bishop Johnson (Episcopalian). His address, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, is interesting, and was as follows:--
"We are addressing ourselves to a project which, until within very recent years, has been regarded as fanciful.
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We are about to confer concerning the reunion of Christendom, than which, a quarter of a century ago, no proposal was regarded as more chimerical. And yet we are doing this at the present time, conscious that the convictions of Christian men have within twenty-five years so changed that, to a large extent, they coincide with the judgment that has brought us together.
"Up until the early sixties, a fatal sense of security seemed to have blinded the Christian world to the inadequacy of the results attending the efforts of the churches.
"Suddenly the Christian world began to realize that possibly it had attained all the success it could expect to have, or deserved to have, under existing conditions. Christendom divided, even if it be into friendly camps (which was not always the case), was not a condition favorable to the largest and best fruitage in the Christian church. Therefore, it is now demanding that at least this one adverse condition shall be changed, so that the church at large shall be able to do work worthy of Jesus Christ our Lord and of the character which he expected the church to do.
"With such a cry ringing in our ears, you and I come together today and join in this conference, which, until the present time, has been deemed impracticable. I am glad to believe that should we get the ideal of what ought to be done clearly in our own minds, we could, in God's own time, bring about such a reunion of Christian forces as would make the united churches really a tremendous power in the world for God.
"I am quite aware what this statement involves. I am prepared to say that I am, by conviction, committed to a policy which looks forward to its universal adoption, even to the obliteration of so-called denominational lines, and to a genuine effort so to re-relate Christian forces that they may, with no overlapping or friction, plan as with one mind for the upbuilding of the Kingdom of Christ in the world.
"Yes, it is a great thing that we are undertaking to do, and we, in our own time, may only be able to make our own generation believe that the conception is practicable.
"Some of our friends may say that we have not done much, and that may be true, but will it not be fine when we do appear before the Judgment Seat, should we be commended by God because we have not allowed the Christian world, in the presence of fearful social and civic problems, to fail of its duty, without some warning on impending disaster, due to our dismal and pitiable divisions?
"We recognize that a century may pass before the end shall be attained, but if you feel as I do, my brethren, you want to be ahead of your time.
WHAT HIS IDEAL IS NOT
"In order to show what my ideal is, it has seemed well for me to show what it is not. Frankly, my ideal leaves the federation idea far in the rear, and I say it with a profound
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respect for federation. Right here in this city we have shown what federation may accomplish, and if it has done nothing else, it has made this meeting possible." [Great applause.]
Bishop Johnson argued that, in case of federation, if the settled policy of any affiliated church was menaced by the action of the federation, the latter would be unable to carry out its policy. He declared that the towns and hamlets of Southern California are overchurched, and that in the cities the churches are scattered about in a most unstatesmanlike manner. He argued that the uniting of forces would bring about better results at a much reduced cost and more effectively reach the people who need to be reached, but it would probably not be accepted by many of those affected by such a move.
"Of course," said the bishop, "there is something seriously wrong in this attitude, but it is the fact and we must face it. I am perfectly satisfied, however, that the churches, merely federated, will not be able to deal effectively with the problem.
"You will see that I regard sectarianism not only as productive of evil, but as being evil and vicious in itself; that is, if the spirit of the greatest of the Apostles is any indication of the Master's aim and purpose.
"It is my feeling that the time has come when we, as Christian leaders, ought to repreach the Pauline conception of the church. Of course, we will all find that there will be plenty of people in all of our congregations who are determined, at all cost, to be first, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists and Congregationalists, and I suppose there always will be such, but I for one am praying that the time shall come when the necessity for these names shall have passed away (applause); that the Christian world will soon have formed a platform upon which every Christian may stand without any sense of loss, and with the satisfaction of knowing that it includes every essential to salvation in the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
THE FINAL CONCEPTION
Bishop Johnson's widest conception of this United Apostolic Church is to be found in the following paragraph:--
"When a church regards herself as the enclosure for saints, rather than the refuge for those 'called to be such,' she is giving herself a character quite unlike and below that which Jesus had. If the church is the extension of the Incarnation, then she must welcome to her companionship and fold the publicans and sinners who are fascinated by her Master's message; she must so relate herself to them that she will neither suffer defilement nor have an unpleasant sense of contamination in such association, and they, on the other hand, must be led by association with her, to think of and to love noble things.
"In a word, the church is to be the physician of the spiritually sick, and halt and blind, and yet the guide of the spiritually strong, courageous and brave, and for each in his own place and time, she is to bring a message of love and peace, so that she herself will ultimately become the spotless Bride of Christ."
The speaker at great length pursued the discussion of the subject without attempting or desiring to enter into any of the details of the ideal church. He said:
"We could most easily, while purring and smiling, enter upon a conflict to secure an intellectual victory, that would widen and not bridge the breaches."
In conclusion the Bishop stated that when every man was sure of himself in God; when there was no sense of pride and no desire for petty victory, then the thing could be accomplished.
The congress closed with a night session, at which Dr. Robert J. Burdette delivered an address on "The Church with an Alias," and Bishop W. M. Bell talked of "Christian Unity in the Foreign Field." A very large audience was present, and their delight was frequently expressed in laughter and applause.
A GERMAN ANTI-MILITARY CRITIC
Col. Gadke, a German military critic, has joined the chorus of civilization in protest against the huge waste of armies and navies. These armaments, he says, do not tend to preserve peace, but to menace peace; and, furthermore, upon the eight great nations they impose an annual expenditure of upward of $2,000,000,000.
The argument is not new. The figures add nothing to public information. Interest in them is due almost wholly to the source from which they come. German authorities have hitherto upheld the military spirit and maintained that a standing army is a standing benefit. An opposing voice from that quarter naturally compels attention.
In the course of events, however, it is fairly certain that German public sentiment will be forced into revolt against the Kaiser's militarism. It is either that or bankruptcy.--New York World.
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THE GOOD TIDINGS ABROAD
TO THE FAMILY OF GOD AT BETHEL--BROOKLYN:-- AS our vessel steamed out of New York harbor your good wishes and kind messages of love cheered us greatly. It was a pleasure to know that you regretted to have us leave, even for two months, but it was a pleasure also to know of your brotherly love toward God's people beyond the sea in Great Britain and Scandinavia. We will remember to tell them of your interest in their welfare, and of your desire that God's blessing might accompany us to the intent that our hasty visit might further spread the "good tidings" and might further deepen their knowledge and their zeal and assist them in making their calling and their election sure in the Kingdom.
We had a pleasant voyage--uneventful. The first two days the water was a little rough, and we had little difficulty in practicing Lenten self-denial. Brother Rutherford, Jr., served as our stenographer, and, under the Lord's blessing, we were enabled to get out considerable work-- answers to correspondence and matter for THE WATCH TOWER and newspapers.
We landed at Plymouth (my stenographer and myself). Brother Driscoll, as representative of the Press Association, continued his journey, going direct to
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Vienna and beyond in preparation for our later coming.
The London Bible Students' Ecclesia held a general meeting the night of our arrival. It was a very happy occasion. Some excellent testimonies were given, and later we had the pleasure of a special meeting with the Elders and Deacons. As arrangements for the use of the LONDON TABERNACLE were not fully completed, Manchester was given our first Sunday in Great Britain. We arrived at Manchester Saturday evening and were met by representatives of the Bible Students there and had
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a good night's rest in preparation for Sunday, March 19.
The Hippodrome had been secured. The morning meeting was for the interested only. It was well attended, quite a number coming from surrounding places. We had a season of spiritual refreshment. A testimony meeting preceded our arrival, and our remarks, which concluded the session, were in the nature of a testimony to the grace of God on our behalf, and respecting God's blessing upon the work in general; of our constant endeavor to grow in grace, knowledge and love, and an exhortation that all of us continue so to do.
The afternoon meeting was semi-public--that is, it had not been particularly advertised. The audience was approximately a thousand. We had excellent attention. The subject was, "The Two Salvations, but no Second Chance." The evening meeting was also in the Hippodrome. The topic was, "The Judgment of the Great White Throne." The friends had evidently advertised it thoroughly, as the audience was a very intelligent one in appearance. The number was estimated at thirty-two hundred, and it is said that hundreds were turned away. The aisles were crowded in a manner not permitted by the Fire Departments in America. For two hours the immense audience gave closest attention, many of them standing during the entire session.
REMINDERS OF APOSTOLIC DAYS
The night train took us to London, and the next evening we were en route for the Continent. We went direct to Vienna. Some Jewish friends in New York had urged this course, suggesting that Vienna, Budapest, Cracow and Lemberg were great Jewish centers, and that in these cities many would be rejoiced to hear us respecting "Zionism in Prophecy."
According to all outward appearances these Jewish meetings were complete failures, but we are not so sure that they were such in reality, and from the Divine standpoint.
A Jewish Rabbi of New York, who there tried to do us injury, continued his efforts of opposition in Austro-Hungary, and with considerable success. He evidently was grieved that we taught the people respecting the prophecies of the Bible. He cabled at considerable expense a long message of misrepresentation, warning the Jews to beware of us--that we were a missionary.
A moderate-sized hall had been secured in Vienna and it was crowded. The audience was of average intelligence and appearance; about two-thirds of them appeared anxious to hear us, and the other one-third seemed determined that no one should hear us. From the very beginning of our address, from all over the hall, they shouted and screamed and some of them appeared possessed of demons. One would have thought that we had come to deprive them all of life and liberty, whereas our motive was purely benevolent and a desire to make them more happy--to tell them of God's love, and that the wonderful prophecies to which they are heirs, will soon be fulfilled. Evidently the many and severe lessons which the poor Jews have learned under the hand of oppression and injustice have not profited them greatly. Of justice they seem to know nothing. They neither respected our rights as friends nor even as they should have done had we been foes, neither did they respect the rights of their more intelligent brethren, who were anxious to hear what we had to say, without compromising their own liberty.
We smiled upon them and motioned to them with our hands for order, but to no avail. Through our German interpreter, Brother Koetitz, we endeavored to speak a word or two to allay their fears, but to no purpose. They shouted and screamed and whistled and made Babel of the place. Several seemed anxious to get their hands upon us, but a strong cordon of the more sensible ones formed a barricade around us. We had no fear, but those who knew our opponents better seemed quite fearful for us. Finding that we could accomplish nothing, we smilingly waved our hand, indicating that we would give up the attempt, and left the platform. The same Jews opened the way before us and kept off any opponents and guided us out of the hall into which about six hundred were crowded. A number of young Jews followed to the hotel and questioned us until midnight and asked the privilege of coming the next day.
About fifteen came the next day and questioned further respecting the Divine Plan and of the share of the Jews therein, for about two hours. They informed us that after we had left the hall on the previous night, the Jews got into a serious wrangle among themselves. (1) An atheistic, anarchistic and Zionistic class, influenced by the cablegram of Rabbi Magnus, the self-appointed head of the self-appointed society of New York, which styles itself the Jewish Kehillah. (2) An orthodox class, greatly excited, which joined with them in opposing us, believing the statement that our object was "mission," and evidently greatly in fear that we would undertake it. (3) More than half the audience, reasonable, intelligent and more civilized and sympathetic with Judaism and the Bible, but not sympathetic with the foolishness and superstition. This class was the one which was anxious to hear us. Our Jewish friends informed us that the three parties got into such a row after we left, that forty-six policemen came in and dispersed them. We presume that Rabbi Magnus and the New York Kehillah will feel very proud of their influence over the hoodlum class of their people--the anarchists. False words may prosper for a time, but eventually the falsifiers will be known and be disesteemed by all whose esteem is desirable. We arranged to have a large number of Yiddish papers circulated in the Jewish quarter of Vienna, so that those anxious to know respecting "Zionism in Prophecy" might not be hindered entirely by their insanely fearful brethren.
We had intended a Jewish meeting at Budapest, but the advance agent reported adversely. The Hungarian government, as explained by one of the nobles, has long been trying to break down the lines of Judaism, and to have the Jews become Hungarians and become dead to any national hopes and promises. Evidently they have been successful to a considerable degree. The prominent Jews showed little interest in Zionism and preferred that their more ignorant brethren should abandon all Zionistic hopes. Added to this no moderate priced hall was available in Budapest, and Brother Driscoll's financial allowances would not permit the renting of such halls as were available.
At Cracow no meeting was held because of the Governmental restrictions. It is on the border of Russia, and Russian usages prevail to a considerable degree. It would have required some resident to become responsible to the government in respect to the meeting and what should be said thereat, and no interest was manifested by the Jews or others to this extent.
At Lemberg the situation was similar, but as Brother Driscoll had about given up his endeavor, a Jew of some prominence seemed to be Providentially sent forward. He took an active interest in the matter, signed the papers securing the government approval, etc. We had every reason to expect that the two meetings there, afternoon
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and evening, would prove very interesting to the Jews, who constitute about 28 per cent. of the entire population; but we had miscalculated. The message from America to Vienna was forwarded to Lemberg. "Pastor Russell is a missionary and the greatest possible menace to our race," seems to have been the substance of the message. As at Vienna, the Jews were of two parties--one party anxious to hear, the other determined that no one should hear. Again the opposing Jews acted like insane people--as though possessed of evil spirits. "They gnashed on us with their teeth," would pretty nearly fit the situation. We were reminded of Apostolic times. No meeting could be held. Again we smilingly yielded to the situation and bowed adieu to the audience. Some cheered us and some cheered our opponents for having gained a victory over us. We withdrew.
We had determined not to attempt to address the evening service, and had sent a written note to this effect. In it we mentioned our interest in the Jews, assuring them that we were not endeavoring to proselyte them to Christianity; but that since the disorderly element was so large we declined to even appear to thrust ourselves on their attention.
Then a special message came from the hall to inform us that there was a large and intelligent audience waiting for us and that certain Jews had provided military police to keep order, and that we must surely come and give the address. We went, but the wild, fanatical, foolish and almost insane conduct of the afternoon was repeated. Again we smilingly bowed to the audience that we would give up any attempt to address them. In the ante-rooms prominent Jews apologized, one a banker, another a lawyer and it should be mentioned that a prominent Rabbi made an endeavor during the meeting to have order. Nevertheless the friendly Jews were so fearful that something would happen to us that we were taken from the hall by a back way to a waiting automobile. Three of our friends stuck to us until we took our train, nearly an hour past midnight. They at least did show us that all Jews are not fanatics and insane. Indeed, they had become our fast friends, and the fact that
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we took the matter so patiently, kindly and without bitterness towards our enemies, made them interested in our message, and they requested reading matter--for themselves and some to circulate.
God alone knows what his providences may be in connection with these experiences. In our estimation, however, no higher compliment could possibly be paid to human tongue. Think of it! The Church of England Mission to the Jews has had a regular station at Lemberg, we believe also in Vienna, for years, ably and expensively managed, but these have no terror for the Jews. It was the coming of an American to speak for a few hours that threw them into such paroxysms of excitement, fear, dread of some wonderful bewitching power which would attend his utterances and sweep off a large proportion of the Jews into Christianity in two hours. Poor Jews! We must acknowledge that we are unworthy of such a tribute. Quite probably, however, their excitement on the subject may lead some to a deeper investigation than if they had heard us in a decent and orderly manner, or, not desiring to hear, had properly stayed away from the meetings to which only those interested in "Zionism in Prophecy" were in any sense of the word invited.
BERLIN CHRISTIANS AND JEWS
Our next appointment was at Berlin. There we met a very interested company of believers in Present Truth, some of whom had come about two hundred miles. We addressed them for about half an hour following their testimony meeting. Then came a general luncheon. The afternoon session was adapted to both Christians and Jews, but the topic seemed to bring an audience in which the Jews predominated--in all nearly a thousand.
Messages respecting us had been forwarded from Vienna, and there was manifested great fear lest we should convert them all in one short talk. It was surprising to us for two reasons: (1) It was in Berlin, a city of modern thought, and (2) the leader of the opposition was a Dr. Loewe, a man of fine appearance. Those who did not believe in the Bible should not have attended a meeting to which they were not invited, and if they came through any misunderstanding, justice would have demanded that they withdraw with as little disturbance as possible. It furnished a fresh illustration of how even intelligent people may be swayed by false words and prejudice. Our address had not proceeded very far until the Doctor and about 120 followers arose and retired to the rear of the room, where they made demonstrations of opposition. We judged that they were Socialists and unbelievers, because their withdrawal took place as soon as we began to refer to the prophecies of the Bible.
HOW STRANGE IT SEEMS!
How strange it seems that those who disregard the promises made to Abraham, and who even question whether any such person ever existed, should pride themselves upon belonging to his family. How strange it seems to us that any who disregard the promises of the Scriptures should take any interest in the land of Palestine --the land of promise. Surely there is more desirable land to be found in many parts of the earth and much more accessible. Surely Zionism, without a religious basis, will never amount to anything.
The remainder of the audience, approximately eight hundred, remained and gave earnest attention as we set forth the interests, both to the Jews and Christians, of Zionism from the Biblical standpoint. At the conclusion of the service several Jews came forward and requested opportunity to apologize publicly for the conduct of those who had withdrawn boisterously. They spoke in the highest terms of the address they had listened to, assured us of their appreciation, and that they were not used to hearing such words from Christians, and that their brethren who had withdrawn had surely done so under misapprehension. They inquired when we would address them again, assuring us of a great audience. When they learned that we would depart the same night, they expressed regret, but warmly urged us to come back at a future time.
On the whole, who can tell but that, even in Berlin, the results may have been better for those who heard than if no prejudiced opposition had been manifested. We will leave the results with God. If the time has come for the Jews to hearken to their prophets, and for Zionism to take on a religious aspect, then it will be so. If we are mistaken, if God's time for Zionism is not yet, nevertheless Zionism, in the broadest sense of the term, is the hope of the world as well as for Israel. Whenever it shall come to pass, the Law will go forth from Mt. Zion, the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, the glorified Church, the great Messiah, with Jesus as the Head; and the Word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem --through the Natural Seed of Abraham--through the Ancient Worthies, and so many other believing ones as will then associate themselves with that nucleus of Messiah's earthly Kingdom.
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"UNTIL THE LORD COME"
"Therefore, judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God." --`1 Cor. 4:5`.
THE TEACHING of the Apostle here is parallel to that of our Lord in his parable of the wheat and the tares. (`Matt. 13:24-30,36-43`.) When the zealous servant in the parable inquired, "Wilt thou then that we go and gather them [the tares] up?" the Lord answered, "Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the Harvest; and in the time of Harvest I will say to the reapers,* Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn."
All through the Gospel Age the wheat and tares have grown together, and only the Lord, who could read the hearts, could distinguish between them with unerring precision. But both the Lord and the Apostle, in the above Scriptures, indicate a difference in the time of Harvest, and show that it will then be possible for the faithful saints to judge also. With this thought in view, they are told to "judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come."
THE DAY OF THE LORD HAS COME
And now the day of the Lord has come: we are now living in the days of the parousia (presence) of the Son of Man--"the Lord of the Harvest," "having on his head a golden crown [Divine authority] and in his hand [in his power] a sharp sickle"--the sickle of "present truth," the clear unfolding of the "Word of God [which] is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword ...and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (`Heb. 4:12`; `Matt. 9:38`; `Rev. 14:14`.) And he is sending forth such "laborers," "angels" or "messengers" into this harvest as he sent forth into the harvest of the Jewish Age, viz., his consecrated and faithful disciples, bearing the Harvest message--the now fully revealed Plan of God and its appointed times and seasons.
The Truth thus sent forth is doing its appointed work. Like a magnet, it gathers to itself all who have an affinity for it. Thrust it in wherever you will, it will invariably accomplish its work of finding the loyal and faithful. And we can readily judge, from this affinity for the magnet, who are at heart true and loyal and faithful to the Lord. "My sheep hear my voice," said the Master, "and I know them, and they follow me;...for they know my voice [they are able to recognize his voice of Truth]; and a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers." (`John 10:27,4,5`.) Again he says, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."--`John 12:48`.
THE TRUTH IS DOING ITS SEPARATING WORK
Thus, in this last day, the Harvest of the Age, this day of the Lord's invisible presence in the world, the Truth concerning the Divine Plan, which he has been revealing since 1874, and which is now being widely testified for the sealing of the elect, is doing its separating work; and the saints, who understand the present situation and watch with interest the progress of the harvest work, can see clearly where the lines of judgment are drawn between the faithful and the unfaithful. And often with astonishment they mark the divisions which the Truth makes when some prominent church-member, whom they had always judged to be faithful and true, manifests no affinity for the Truth, but turns from it and hugs the error more tightly than ever; or, when some other one, touched by the power of the Truth, awakes to earnest self-sacrifice in its service.
"Judge nothing before the time." How could we have judged before this time as to whose hearts were loyal and true? But now, in this day of the Lord's presence, when the magnet of Divine Truth makes manifest those who have and those who have not an affinity for it--those who refuse to recognize the voice of the "Good Shepherd," and will not follow his leading, and who flee not from the voice of strangers, but hearken to and follow them--it becomes our duty, as well as our privilege, to judge who is on the Lord's side and who is against him; for, says the Master, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." --`Matt. 12:30`.
"JUDGE NOTHING UNTIL THE LORD COME"
"Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come"; but then let your spiritual senses be exercised in observing and marking the heretofore hidden things which the Truth, in its effects, is bringing to light. See how it is bringing to light the hitherto covered deformities of the various creeds. Where is the intelligent Calvinist today who would not like to bury his creed sea deep, and forever hush this wrangle that has been exposing its deformity for a few years past? And where is the intelligent Arminian that is not trembling lest his turn may come next?
Everything is being dragged to the light, whether men are willing or not; for every hidden thing must be revealed. And not only the hidden things of creeds and systems of error and iniquity, but also the hidden things of individual character; "for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known. Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."--`Luke 12:2,3`.
Ah! it is the day of reckoning with the Church, and "the Lord hath a controversy with his people." And this controversy, this reckoning, is not merely with the Church-nominal in its great sectarian branches; but in a special sense it is with those who have escaped from the bondage of error and sectarianism, and who, because faithful to their consciences and the truths brought to their attention, have been served by the Master with "present truth" as "meat in due season" (`Luke 12:37`), and who have been permitted to enter into some of the "deep things" of God's Plan.
THE CHURCH'S JUDGMENT NOW--THE WORLD'S NOT
The world has not yet come into its judgment; its reckoning is yet future; but ours is now upon us. We, to whom the testimony of Divine Truth has been borne, before whose mental vision the whole Plan of God with all its specifications has been spread out and carefully explained, now stand on trial, yea, under the final tests of that trial, which is either to prove or disprove our worthiness to enter into the promised reward of the faithful. Many, as predicted (`Psa. 91:7`), are proving unworthy, and some still stand.
*"The reapers are the messengers" who bear the Truth, the indirect influence of which binds the tares. See SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Vol. III., Chap. VI.
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And among those whom we fellowship and bid Godspeed as faithful brethren in Christ, it is our duty to judge as to whether they are still faithful when the magnet of Truth makes their judgment so manifest in this day of the Lord; for it is written (`2 John 10,11`), "If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed; for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
Here is a responsibility with reference to our endorsement of another which we cannot ignore and still be faithful; and except we judge of one's course by his fidelity or infidelity to the Truth, we shall be endorsing error quite as often as Truth. It is our privilege to know the Truth and to hold it firmly and to be faithful to it to the end, and if we so abide and walk in the light we will quickly know when one has turned away from the light into darkness, and will be able to render wholesome counsel and warning to such, and to help those who still retain enough of the spirit of meekness to accept the proffered assistance.
But, if such a one still pursue the path of darkness and call it light, thus deceiving himself and others, we cannot further endorse him and be guiltless. To do so is to add our influence in some measure, at least, to the error and in opposition to the Truth, and thus we become partaker of his evil deeds.
"IN THE LAST DAYS PERILOUS TIMES SHALL COME"
The necessity for this careful discrimination and jealous guarding of the Truth in these last days is very manifest, both from the warnings of the Scriptures and from observation of their fulfilment. "In the last days," says the Apostle, "perilous times shall come." (`2 Tim. 3:1`.) Why? Because the Prince of darkness will make every possible effort to retain his power and dominion; and ignorance, error and superstition are his strongholds. He first used all his power to keep men in ignorance and to foster superstition. But now God's due time has come for knowledge to be increased (`Dan. 12:4`), and the Millennial dawn is breaking; and not only the Church but the world is now waking up and beginning to think.
So the policy of Satan at present is to devise plausible counterfeits of the Truth, whereby to entrap and mislead those who have been making progress in the knowledge of the Divine Plan. As, in the beginning of our Lord's ministry at his first advent, Satan's efforts were concentrated upon the one object of causing him to stumble, thereby to nip the Divine Plan in the bud; and as during the Gospel Age the consecrated members of the Body of Christ have been specially opposed and beset by him, so now his efforts are concentrated specially upon the last members of that Body, "the Feet of him," who are running the race for the prize of the high calling. It is for this cause that so many new and plausible forms of error have been brought forward within this Harvest period.
SATAN USING EVERY EFFORT TO STUMBLE THE FEET
OF HIM THAT PUBLISHETH PEACE
Satan is using every effort to thwart God's Plan and to stumble the Feet. And God even more than permits this: he encourages it by sending these strong delusions of Satan among his professed followers--at the same time assuring all who at heart are faithful to his Word and to their covenant of self-sacrifice that they need fear no evil, for he will be with them and uphold them though a thousand fall at their side.
Ever since the Plan of God has been made manifest to the saints, the delusions of error have been rapidly multiplying. This was foretold by the Apostle who, referring to our Lord's second coming, said, "And then shall that wicked [the Man of Sin] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the bright-shining of his presence,* whose parousia [Christ's presence] is with+ [or accompanied by] the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the Truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they might all be condemned who believed not the Truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."++ --`2 Thess. 2:8-12`.
One after another the deluded ones who have fallen into the various snares set for their feet have become active advocates of the several causes they have espoused since they departed from the Truth, and are advanced by the Adversary as teachers, angels or messengers of new light. They never seem to realize that they have gone into darkness, but imagine they have made great strides of progress in the light. This is because they have been overcome by the strong delusions of this evil day. They verily mistake the darkness for the light, the error for the Truth. But, though they be cast thus into the outer darkness of the world and of the nominal professor, thank God, we can now see that by and by the shining forth of the Sun of Righteousness in the Millennial morning shall open all the error-blinded eyes to the full and glorious Truth, though too late to assist any to win the great prize of joint-heirship in the Kingdom.
THE STRONG DELUSIONS SHALL CAUSE THE UNWORTHY
TO BELIEVE THE UNTRUTH
However, none are ever permitted to be thus overcome who have not in some way been unfaithful to the Truth and hence unworthy of it. Upon all such God has said he would send the strong delusion, so that they shall believe a lie. The Truth being designed for those only who are worthy of it--the elect--all others are bound to lose it. But it is impossible to deceive the "very elect." God will keep them by his mighty power because of their faithfulness and loyalty to him.
The Lord distinguishes between the nominally elect and the finally elect, and so should we. Not all who have accepted of the Redeemer's favor of justification from guilt, and have heard and accepted the high calling to joint-heirship with Christ in his Kingdom and glory, will attain that great prize. All such have entered the race as now the nominally elect, and all such are eligible to membership in the glorified Church as the finally elect; but in order to gain that prize they must fulfil the conditions specified when they entered the race--when they in Christ's name and merit made a covenant with God, to sacrifice themselves in his service. In no other way can they make their calling and election sure.
"LET HIM THAT THINKETH HE STANDETH TAKE HEED
LEST HE FALL"
It is this nominally elect class that is being tried now; and God is now making manifest the secret counsels of the hearts of his people. He puts us all on guard, too, saying, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall"; and telling us to take heed that no man take our crown.
*The words, "Even him," here supplied by the translators, and not in the original text, as indicated by the italics, tend to obscure the sense of this passage.
+The Greek word "kata," rendered "after" in the common version, should here be rendered "with," as the same word is rendered in `Mark 1:27`; `1 Cor. 2:1`; `Eph. 6:6`.
++Greek adikia should here be rendered untruth or error because contrasted with truth.
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How great is the responsibility of our present position before God, the great Judge of all hearts! He has shown us special favor in revealing to us the wonders of his Plan and in setting before us the grand prize of our high calling. Thus far we were counted worthy of those favors and eligible to the prize of joint-heirship with Christ. How worthy have we proved ourselves since receiving this knowledge? Have we received it with meekness and humility and with a gratitude which manifests itself in active service of the Truth--in proclaiming it to others and in defending it and standing by it nobly in the midst of all the reproaches hurled against it? Have we refused to compromise the Truth to any extent to avoid its otherwise inevitable reproach?
If we are not thus jealous for the Truth we are not worthy of it, and one of the deceptions of this "evil day" will surely number us among its victims; for it is in this time of the Lord's presence that Satan is to work so mightily, with great power to deceive, with signs of success and with lying wonders of error. His various schemes will have great success, in comparison with which the success of the Truth will seem small; for with these, as with Gideon's band, it will be a time of sifting, and "who shall be able to stand?"
But let those who stand girt about with Divine Truth fear nothing; the Lord is permitting these delusions that they may serve his own wise and benevolent purposes in the separating of the worthy from the unworthy, and for the manifestation of those who are at heart loyal to him and to his Truth.
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"CONSIDER HIM LEST YE BE WEARIED"
"Consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
TO "CONSIDER HIM" seems to be to take note of, to have in mind, to reflect upon and not to easily forget how our Lord endured various trials and oppositions of sinners against himself. In our own experiences we have, as the Lord's followers, endured some opposition of sin and sinners against ourselves; but we have not yet resisted unto blood. We have not yet passed through the trying experiences through which he passed. When we remember that while we are poor, imperfect creatures like our neighbors, he was "holy, harmless, undefiled," then it is good to reflect that he endured patiently the opposition of sinners. When trying experiences came to him, he did not consider them as being merely from the individual with whom they originated, but as being, on the other hand, under the supervision of the Father. If, therefore, the Father permitted such experiences to come to him, he was bound to prove his loyalty by patient endurance. As he said, "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?"--`John 18:11`.
So it is with us, Spiritual Israel, "The Lord your God proveth you." (`Deut. 13:3`.) In proportion as we are able to take our Lord's viewpoint in our experiences in life, we may be calm. If the Father permits trying experiences for our testing, or for the testing or proving of others, in ways we may not understand, it is for us to rejoice to have his will done. The poet has beautifully expressed this thought when he says:--
"My times are in thy hands,
My God, I wish them there."
If we faithfully endure to the end, the reward will be ours. If we prove our loyalty and keep our faith that God is supervising our affairs, and that no good thing will be withhold from those who are walking uprightly, we shall some day hear his "Well done, good and faithful servant."
We know that our Lord endured physical opposition. But our English word "contradiction" properly translates the original, implying verbal contradiction of his words. As we consider our Lord's case, we see that the people opposed him, not physically, but in his words, his teachings. It was left for the high priest and Sanhedrin and soldiers to do him physical violence and put him to death; and he could have resisted them if he had so chosen.
"WHEN HE WAS REVILED, HE REVILED NOT AGAIN"
The Apostle, therefore, seems to refer to the contradiction of his words. This is implied by St. Peter, who says, "When he was reviled, he reviled not again." (`I Pet. 2:23`.) So when we consider the three and a half years of Christ's ministry, we find that his doctrines were disputed, and that he was slandered. The Jews said that he had a demon; that he performed his miracles by the Prince of demons; that he was a blasphemer. These contradictions and oppositions on their part might have called out from him some very just, truthful statements, respecting them. He might have given them as good as he got, and better. He might have told them that the Devil was working with them, etc. His perfect power of language would have given him ability to more than cope with them. When they thought to entrap him in his words, he entrapped them in their words. But he reviled not. He did not render evil for evil, nor railing for railing. This, the Apostle shows, is the proper course.
But in the daily affairs of life, when people say all manner of evil against us, when they revile us, it is natural to the fallen flesh to think of something evil to say in return. Thus these things become tests upon us. If we yield to such a spirit, we are following the course of the enemy and not that of the Lord.
"Consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds" when attacked by the Adversary--whoever may be his agents and whatever may be their missiles. He cannot harm but will only increase our reputation in the Lords' sight, if we endure faithfully; and he can do
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no outward harm that God cannot overrule for the good of his cause--though that good may mean "siftings" of "chaff" and "tares" from the "wheat."
Evil speaking, backbiting and slandering are strictly forbidden to God's people as wholly contrary to his spirit of love, even if the evil thing be true. As a preventive of anything in the nature of slander, the Scriptures very carefully mark out only one way of redress of grievances. --`Matt. 18:15-17`.
PROFESSED CHRISTIANS OFTEN WORST
Many, among even advanced Christians, seem to be utterly in ignorance of this Divine ruling, and hence professed Christians are often the most pronounced scandalmongers. Yet this is one of the few special, specific commandments given by our Lord; and considered in connection with the statement, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you," the constant violation of this, our Lord's command, proves that many are not far advanced in friendship--discipleship.
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Let us look carefully at this rule, which if followed would prevent gossip, "evil speaking," "backbiting." See, as above cited, `Matt. 18:15-17`. Its first provision, for a conference between the principals alone, implies candor on the part of the accuser, who thinks that he has suffered. It also implies his thinking no evil of the accused. They meet as "brethren," each thinking his own course the right one, to discuss the matter; to see whether they can come to the same view. If they agree, all is well; the matter is settled; peace prevails; the threatened break has been averted, and no one is the wiser. In the great majority of cases, a frank, open discussion between the principals will bring about harmony. But both must be equally candid and governed by the Spirit of the Lord.
Thus did our Lord guard his true disciples from the insidious sin of slander, which leads onward to other and grosser works of the flesh and the Devil, and stops growth in the Truth and its spirit of love. Let us also note that those who hear slanders and thus encourage slanderers in their course of wrongdoing, are partakers of their evil deeds; guilty partners in the violation of the Master's commands. God's true people should refuse to listen to slanders and should point the offender to the Lord's Word and the only method therein authorized. Are we wiser than God? Experience teaches that we cannot trust to our own judgments and are on safe ground only when following the voice of the Shepherd implicitly.
WE SHOULD REFUSE TO HEAR GOSSIP AND SLANDER
If any Brother or Sister brings to you an evil report of others, stop him at once, kindly but firmly. "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (`Eph. 5:11`.) Refuse to have any share in this violation of the Master's commands, which does great mischief in the Church. If the Brother or Sister be only a "babe" in spiritual matters, call attention to the Lord's ruling on the subject. (`Matt. 18:15`; `I Tim. 5:19`.) If the conversation is not addressed to you but merely in your hearing, promptly show your disapproval by withdrawing.
If, after having had his attention called to the Lord's command on this subject, the slanderer still persists in "evil speaking," "backbiting" and telling you his "evil-surmisings," reprove him more sharply, saying as you go, "I cannot, must not, hear you; for if I did, I would be as criminal in the matter as you are, violating the Lord's command. And even if I were to hear your story I could not believe it; for the Christian who does not respect the Lord's Word and follow his Plan for the redress of grievances, shows so little of the Lord's spirit that his word cannot be trusted. He who twists and dodges the Lord's words would not hesitate to twist and misrepresent the words and deeds of fellow-disciples." Then withdraw fellowship from such until his error has been confessed with promises of reform. If to any extent you listen to such conversation, or express "sympathy" with it or with the gossiper or slanderer, you are a partner in the sin and in all its consequences; and if a "root of bitterness" is thus developed, you are more than likely to be one of those "defiled" by it.--`Heb. 12:15`.
Be pure: maintain a conscience void of offense toward God and men. Begin with the heart; harbor no thoughts that in any sense of the word would be evil. To make sure of this, have Christ Jesus as your pattern, well and much before your mind. When evil is obtruded upon you, either from without or from within, lift up your heart in prayer to him for the grace promised in every time of need. Keep constantly before you the prayer, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer."--`Psa. 19:14`.
LET US CULTIVATE APPRECIATION OF THE PRINCIPLES
OF DIVINE LAW
While seeking to follow the various specific commands of Scripture, let us seek more and more to understand and come in sympathy with the principles which underlie the Divine Law. These will enable us to judge of the right and the wrong of such of our words, thoughts and acts as may not be particularly specified in the Lord's Word. Indeed, as we come to understand and sympathize with the principles of Divine Law, to that extent we are getting the spirit of the Divine Word. Note the testimony of the Psalmist on this point, "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou, through thy commandments, hast made me wiser than mine enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy Word. I have not departed from thy judgments, for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding; therefore, I hate every false way. Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."--`Psa. 119:97-105`.
Shun a contentious and fault-finding disposition as contrary to the spirit, or disposition of Christ--contrary to love. A certain amount of combative courage is demanded in overcoming the world, the flesh and the Devil and their various snares. This fighting disposition may become a valuable aid to ourselves and to the Master's cause if rightly and wisely directed against sin, first in ourselves and secondly in others; if used for the Lord and his people and against Satan and all his powers of darkness and superstition. This, in the Scriptures, is called fighting the good fight, and we all should be gallant soldiers in this battle for Right and Truth, lovingly defending our Captain's honor and his people's liberties.
THE POWERS OF EVIL WOULD MAKE COMBATIVENESS
A CHIEF VIRTUE
But such a good use of combativeness is not pleasing to the Prince of this world, who will seek to pervert what he cannot directly use. Consequently, he attempts with some to make combativeness a chief virtue. He encourages them to fight everything and everybody; the brethren, more than the powers of darkness; nominal churchmen, more than the errors and ignorance which blind them and make them such. Indeed, his desire is to get us to "fight against God."
Let us be on our guard on this point. Let us, first of all, judge ourselves, lest we cast a stumbling-block before others; let us fight down in our own hearts the wrong spirit which seeks to make mountains out of trifles and disposes us to be captious and contentious over non-essentials. Greater is "He that ruleth his own spirit than he that taketh a city." (`Prov. 16:32`.) Let us guard ourselves that our defense of the Truth be, not from motives of self-glorification, but from love for the Truth, love for the Lord, for his people, the brethren. If love be the impelling spirit, or motive, it will show itself accordingly in a loving, gentle, patient, humble course toward all the fellow-servants. Let us be "gentle toward all." Let "the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God," which is quick and powerful, do all the cutting.
Beware of all thoughts, feelings and conditions of heart directly or remotely connected with malice, envy,
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hatred, strife. Give these no place in your heart even for a moment; for they will surely do you great injury, aside from leading to the injury of others. Keep your heart, your will, your intentions and desires full of love toward God and all his creatures--the most fervent toward God, and proportionately toward all who have his spirit and walk in the way of his direction.
DO NOT TRUST TO CONSCIENCE ALONE
If conscience were a sufficient guide you would have no need of the Scriptures. The majority of people have as good as no conscience; for they are blind to the principles and laws of God given to guide conscience; and still worse off than these are those mentioned in `I Tim. 4:2`. Hence the imperative necessity for carefully heeding the Lord's Word, and walking circumspectly according to its light.
We are not to faint in our minds nor become discouraged, feeling that so much has been said against us that we must give up the race. On the contrary, we are to feel assured like our Lord, that nothing can befall us except with the knowledge of the Father, who is working all things for our good. It was thus our Lord was prepared for his exaltation. So we, if we are rightly exercised by our various experiences and follow as closely as possible the commands laid down for our guidance, will find that even revilings, slanders, oppositions to righteousness, will work out blessings for us, as they did for our Lord.
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But how many become weary and are in danger of losing the prize because they fail to consider what the Lord faithfully endured of opposition! If such would consider that the Lord, who was perfect, suffered in every sense unjustly for righteousness' sake, and that their own conduct is imperfect, they would not be weary in well doing, but would learn to fight and to "endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ"; they would continue to "fight the good fight of faith."
"We have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we [the Church] are, yet without sin."-- `Heb. 4:15`.
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WHAT OUR LORD FEARED AND FROM WHAT
HE WAS SAVED
"Christ...was heard in that he feared."--`Heb. 5:7`.
THAT which the Lord feared was not that the love or promises of God would fail. He knew that God was faithful who had promised; that God is a covenant-keeping God, and that all his conduct and dealings are founded upon the eternal principles of truth and righteousness, from which to vary in the least iota would be a moral impossibility. But the Lord also knew that the plan of human salvation was made dependent upon the obedience of the Anointed High Priest to every jot and tittle of the Law concerning him, as shown in the typical service of the Tabernacle. Not only must the sacrifice be made, but it must be offered exactly as prescribed.
If the typical high priest, Aaron, had at any time failed to conform to the directions given for the offering (see `Lev. 9:16`); if he had forgotten or ignored any part of the directions; or if he had substituted some of his own ideas, he would not have been allowed to sprinkle the blood of such imperfect sacrifice upon the mercy-seat; his offering would not have been accepted; he would have died, and so could never have come out and blessed the people.--`Lev. 16:2,3`.
Thus we see that when undertaking the great work of redemption our Lord bore in himself the issues of life and death, not only for the whole human race, but for himself as well. Figuratively speaking, he took his life into his own hands. No wonder, then, if under the weight of his responsibility, the Lord feared! The tension of the trials to which he was subjected was too great for even the perfect human nature, unaided by Divine grace. Therefore he frequently sought the place of prayer for grace to help in every time of need.
Consider the great fight of afflictions through which he passed; the subtle and deceptive temptations in the wilderness (SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Vol. 5, pp. 110-117); the contradiction of sinners against himself, and the base ingratitude of those he came to save; consider also his poverty, his loss of friends, his labors and weariness, his homelessness, his bitter and relentless persecutions and, finally, his betrayal and dying agony! Surely the tests of endurance and of obedience to the exact requirements of the Law of sacrifice, under these circumstances, were most crucial. What carefulness it wrought in the Lord; for he feared, lest the promise having been left him of entering into the rest that remaineth and the glory to follow the Day of Atonement, he should come short of the full requirements of his Office as Priest, to render acceptable service. So also, says the Apostle (`Heb. 4:1`), should we fear lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should seem to come short of it.
"THE CUP WHICH MY FATHER HATH POURED FOR ME
SHALL I NOT DRINK IT?"
When the Lord came to the last night of his earthly life, then the question came to his mind with increased force, "Have I thus far done everything in exact accordance with the will of God? And now, in full view of the agony which it will cost, am I able to drink the bitter cup to its very dregs? Can I endure, not only the physical agony, but also the ignominy and shame and cruel mockings? And can I do it so perfectly as to be entirely acceptable to God in my own righteousness? Can I endure to see my disciples scattered and dismayed and my lifework apparently destroyed, my name and the cause of God covered with infamy, and my enemies triumphant and boastful? Can I do this so as to hear the 'well done?'"
Such was our Lord's last conflict. Doubtless the powers of darkness were busy in that awful hour, taking advantage of the circumstances and of his weakness and weariness to discourage his hope and to fill his mind with fears that, after all, he would fail, or had failed to do the work acceptably; and that a resurrection, therefore, was uncertain. No wonder that the perfect human heart sank before such considerations and that an agony of emotion brought great drops of bloody sweat! But did he yield to the discouragement and give up the struggle when the crucial test was thus upon him? No! he took those human fears to the Heavenly Father, "to him who was able to deliver him out of death," in order that his
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human will might be reinforced by Divine grace to go forward and complete his sacrifice acceptably to God; to freely submit to be led away as a lamb to the slaughter, and, as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so to open not his mouth in self-defense.--`Isa. 53:7`.
His prayers to the Father were not in vain: "He was heard in that he feared." Though his words were few (because no words could express the emotions of his soul) his chastened spirit was all the while making intercession for him with groanings which could not be uttered. (`Rom. 8:28`.) Then God sent an angel to comfort and minister unto him; to assure him still of the Divine favor, and thus to give him fresh courage, strength of mind and steadiness of nerve to endure all that was before him, even unto death.
With this assistance of Divine grace our dear Lord went forth from that moment with undaunted courage to finish the work which was given him to do. Calmly he could come now and say to his beloved, but weary and bewildered disciples, "Sleep on, now, and take your rest." The bitterness of the mental conflict was over, and the light of heaven shining into his soul had chased away the deep gloom that hung over him like a funeral pall, making him "exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." Yes, "he was heard in that he feared"; and the fear was all taken away; and, strong in the strength which God supplied, he felt that he was able to offer the acceptable sacrifice, to meet every jot and tittle of the requirement of the Law in doing so; and hence, that his salvation out of death, his resurrection, was assured.
"LEARNED OBEDIENCE THROUGH THE THINGS WHICH
The fear on the Lord's part was not a sinful fear. It was a fear such as we, also, are exhorted to have--we who are striving to walk in his footsteps--lest we fail to realize the precious promises vouchsafed to us upon conditions that are positive and unalterable. (`Heb. 4:1`.) It was a fear begotten, not of doubt of the Father's ability and willingness to fulfil all his promises, but of a knowledge of the righteous principles which must in every case govern the Father's course of action; a fear of the inflexible Law which righteously affixed the reward of eternal life and glory to his fulfilling of his Covenant of sacrifice, or of eternal death should he fail. At the same time he began to realize that, though perfect as a human being, his heart and his flesh would fail unless reinforced by Divine grace. The Psalmist expressed this fear of the Lord and the source from which his help came, when he said, "My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (`Psa. 73:26`.) It was a filial fear entirely compatible with his relationship to God as a recognized Son; for "though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience through the things which he suffered."--`Heb. 5:8`.
We are glad that Jesus was not cold and stoical, but that he was full of warm, loving, tender feelings and sensibilities; and that we, consequently, can realize his ability to sympathize with the most tender, the most delicate, the most refined, the most sensitive, more than could any other human being. He must have felt keenly the conditions under which he had placed himself, in laying down his life on our behalf; for the more perfect the organism, the more sensitive and high-strung are the feelings; the greater the capacity for joy, the greater the capacity for sorrow. Being absolutely perfect, our Lord must have been immeasurably more susceptible to the influence of pain than are others.
"OFFERED UP STRONG CRYINGS AND TEARS TO HIM
WHO WAS ABLE TO SAVE HIM"
Besides this, he knew that he had a perfect life, unforfeited, and realized that he was about to part with it. Others of the human family possess only a forfeited or condemned existence, and realize that they must part with this some time. It would, therefore, be a very different matter for our Lord to lay down his life from that of any of his followers laying down theirs. If we let one hundred per cent. represent perfect life, our Lord had the full one hundred per cent. to lay down, while we, being more than ninety-nine one-hundredths dead through trespasses and sins and condemnation could, at most, have had but one hundredth part to lay down. A cold, stoical indifference to the loss of life, based upon knowledge that it could last but a short time longer at best, would, therefore, be a very different thing from the clear knowledge which our Lord had of the experience which he had with the Father "before the world was"; and the realization that the life he was about to lay down was not forfeited through sin, but was his own voluntary sacrifice.
There can be no doubt that this thought of the extinguishment of life was an important factor in our Lord's sorrow. The Apostle clearly intimates it in the words (`Heb. 5:7`), "Who in the days of his flesh... offered up prayers and supplication, with strong cryings and tears, unto him who was able to save him from [out of] death, and was heard in [respect to] that he feared" --extinction. This thought brought with it another, viz., Had he done the Father's will perfectly? Could he claim, and would he receive the reward promised him--a resurrection from the dead?
Had he failed in any particular to come to the exact standard of perfection his death would have meant extinction; and although all men fear extinction, none could know the full depth and force of its meaning as could he who not only had the perfection of life, but had recollection of his previous glory with his Father before the world was. For him the very thought of extinction would bring anguish, terror of soul. This thought seems not to have come to our Lord with the same force previously. It was this, therefore, that bore down upon him now so heavily as an exceeding sorrow unto death. He saw himself about to suffer according to the Law as an evil-doer, and the question naturally arose, was he entirely blameless, and would the Heavenly Judge thoroughly acquit him whom so many were disposed to condemn?
"COULD YE NOT WATCH WITH ME ONE HOUR?"
After praying he went to his three disciples, but found them asleep. Gently he reproved them asking, "Could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." Then our Lord went away and used the same words in prayer; and again he prayed a third time, similarly. The matter was weighing upon his heart. Could he rely upon it now, that having sought to do the Father's will, having finished his course, he had done it acceptably? Could he have full assurance of faith that God would save him out of death by a resurrection?
In answer to his petition a heavenly messenger was sent to comfort him, to reassure him, to strengthen him. We are not informed what message the angel brought, but we can see that it was a message of peace; that he brought assurance, not only that the Lord's course had the Father's approval, but that he would be brought again from the dead by a resurrection. These were quite sufficient to give our Lord all the strength and courage necessary for the ordeal before him; and from that moment
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onward we find him the coolest and calmest of the notable figures brought to our attention. When approached by Judas and his band, he was the most calm and self-possessed of all; when before the chief-priest, Caiaphas, he was the same; when before Pilate, the same; when crucified, the same. He had found peace in the message that he was approved of the Father, and that all the gracious promises of glory, honor and immortality were his; and now he could pass through any ordeal, he could submit himself perfectly to his enemies.
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SIN NOT WITH YOUR TONGUE
"I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue; I will keep my mouth with a bridle while the wicked is before me."--`Psa. 39:1`.
OUR general thoughts have much to do with our language, our general conversation. Whoever, therefore, possesses a proper control of his heart, will govern himself in every sense of the word. If our ways please the Lord, if our ways are ways of righteousness, then out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak to the edification of the hearer. The ways being right, the utterances will be right. People generally love themselves and avoid saying anything bitter, unkind, about themselves. But the man who hates his neighbors will have very little difficulty in saying something bitter or unkind of them.
Though the tongue is one of the most useful members, yet it is necessary to put a bridle, a restraint, a controlling influence upon it. With the tongue we may honor our God or we may blaspheme him. When in the presence of the wicked, we need to be still more on guard than with the righteous; for with the former the tendencies and thoughts are toward evil. When with the wicked or in their presence we are in contact with a degrading influence. At such times, some of sympathetic disposition may find special difficulty in bridling their tongues; but it is better to do so than to speak of even good things to the wicked, as we would feel at liberty to do with the righteous. The Lord has suggested, "Cast not your pearls before swine,...lest they turn again and rend you."
Besides the evilly inclined of the world there is another class Scripturally called the wicked; namely, people who have a knowledge of the Lord, but who take their stand in opposition to him. Judas was of this class. So there are about us those who are in an adverse attitude. None seem to be so cynical as those who have been partakers of the Holy Spirit, but who have turned their backs upon "the Way, the Truth and the Life." Such
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seem to be more wicked than others in that they are in a more reprehensible attitude. No matter how careful we are, these will distort our words and assert that we have said something that we have not said.
The warning of the Scriptures is not against the tongue itself, but against the power we exercise against others by the use of our tongues. Probably every person of experience will fully agree with the statement that the tongue is potent in its influence beyond any other member of the body, for either good or evil.
THE TONGUE OFTEN A POWER FOR EVIL AMONG THE
As the bit in the horse's mouth will control his strength; and as the small rudder of a vessel will direct its course; so the tongue, and the pen, its representative, may influence large numbers of people for good or ill. How important, therefore, is the tongue! And how much more frequently do we find it employed as an agency for evil than for good; to pull down rather than to build up the faith; to implant seeds of discord and discontent rather than those which will produce righteousness and peace! While this is specially true in the worldly, it is also true among God's people; and each should remember that to some extent he is a teacher, and day by day is either forwarding or hindering the cause of truth, righteousness and peace.
In the unregenerate world the tongue is a "fire" causing no end of burning of wrath, envy, hatred, strife and everything that defiles the entire body, stimulating all the fallen passions and desires. No wonder the Apostle declares that, figuratively, the tongue is set on fire of gehenna--the Second Death. Its burning tends to bring, not only its owner, but others to destruction.
As imperfect beings we may not always be perfect in word and deed. Despite our best endeavors we sometimes err in word as well as in deed; yet the perfect mastery of our words and our ways is to be sought by vigilant and faithful effort. But, nevertheless, for every idle word we must give an account in this our day of Judgment.
WE SHOULD DAILY RENDER OUR ACCOUNTS
If, in the daily scrutiny of our ways, which is the duty of every Christian, we discover that our words have in any way been dishonoring to the Lord, we should remember that, "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous" (`I John 2:1`); and in the name of our Advocate we may approach the throne of grace. There we may explain to our Heavenly Father our realization of our error, our deep regret at our failure to honor his name and his cause by a holy walk and conversation, and humbly request that the sin be not laid to our charge; but that it may be blotted out by his gracious provision for our cleansing, through Christ, humbly acknowledging that in his precious blood is all our hope and trust.
Thus we should render up our account for every idle word; and by our words of repentance, supplemented by the merit of Christ applied by faith, shall we be acquitted. Otherwise, the idle words dishonoring to the Lord, will stand against us and condemn us, and we shall be obliged to suffer the consequences. The first consequence will be self-injury, for every evil thought or word indulged hardens the character and inclines it the more toward unrighteousness. The second consequence is that by setting a bad example to others we stir up evil in them. "A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger." (`Prov. 15:1`.) Thus, as the result of unwise or unkind words, we may stir up about us difficulties which will become agents of retributive Justice to teach us the lesson of self-control and consideration for the feelings and opinions of others.
It is often the case that the Lord (or the Devil) is blamed for sending trials, which are simply the natural results of our own mistakes. Those who fail to locate the root of the matter (in themselves) pray in vain for the Lord to remove miraculously what they themselves could obviate by obedience to the Word and vigorous self-discipline. "If we would judge [and correct] ourselves, we should not be judged; but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord [largely by the experiences through which our own faults put us], that we should not be condemned with the world."--`I Cor. 11:31,32`.
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THE TENDENCY OF FALLEN NATURE IS TO BLAME
OTHERS RATHER THAN OURSELVES
But even should it be admitted that the difficulties are not directly caused by God or by the Devil ("Every man is tempted [tried] when he is drawn away by his own lusts [desires] and enticed"), the natural tendency is to blame some one else, and to think that our lack of patience, our hasty word or act, was the fault of another. How many deceive and encourage themselves with the thought, "If everybody else had as reasonable and generous a nature as I have, our family or Church gathering or community would be a veritable heaven upon earth!" Beloved, let us examine ourselves, let us be very humble lest the thoughts of self-congratulation and self-satisfaction which we may consider in our hearts, even if we do not utter them aloud, bring our condemnation.
"If ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye [what merit is there in it]? (`Luke 6:32,33`.) It is only when we "endure grief, suffering wrongfully," that our suffering is acceptable to God as a sacrifice of sweet incense. "What glory is it if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently? but if, when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable to God; for even hereunto were ye called." (`I Pet. 2:19-21`.) Beloved, let us see to it that our sufferings are for righteousness' sake only, and let us not charge God or our neighbors for tribulations resulting from the indulgence of our own inherited or cultivated faults.
In view of the fact that we now stand before the bar of Judgment, which, if we are truly the Lord's people, we will endeavor more and more fully to realize, "What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness?" (`2 Pet. 3:11`.) Godlikeness certainly cannot include any harmful gossip, any unclean or unholy conversation, any disloyal or rebellious words. Let us remember daily to settle our accounts with the Lord, to make sure that no record of idle words not repented of, and, consequently, unforgiven, stands against us. "Let your conversation be as becometh the Gospel of Christ."
HOLY THOUGHTS PRODUCE HOLY WORDS
"Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things." (`Phil. 1:27`; `4:8`.) Thus out of the good treasure of the heart we shall speak the words of truth and soberness, and honor our Lord by a godly walk and conversation, subduing the tendencies of our fallen nature, and "having our conversation honest among the Gentiles; that whereas they speak against you as evil-doers, they may, by your good works which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."--`I Pet. 2:12`.
If daily we render up our accounts to God and seek his grace for greater overcoming power with each succeeding day, we shall be acquitted in judgment and stand approved before God, through Christ, having the testimony of his Holy Spirit with our spirits that we are pleasing and acceptable to him. So, dear brethren, let us "take heed to our ways, that we sin not with our tongues." (`Psa. 39:1`.) There is nothing that is of so powerful an influence as the tongue. The influence of a good word, a good thought, may become world-wide; an evil thought, an evil word, may also extend its influence to the end of the world.
BEREAN QUESTIONS IN SCRIPTURE STUDIES
Series VI., Study V.--The Organization of the New Creation.
(49) While assured of the Apostles' inspiration and their guidance by the Holy Spirit, how can we explain Peter's denial of our Lord? P. 223, par. 4,5.
(50) Did the Apostolic office bring with it perfection of every thought and action? P. 224, top, and par. 1.
(51) Did Peter's "dissembling" on one occasion affect his usefulness as an Apostle? P. 224, par. 2.
(52) What reply shall we make to the objection that the Apostles expected the Lord's second advent during their lifetime, and were therefore untrustworthy in their teachings? P. 225, par. 1,2.
(53) What shall we say to the objection that Paul's teaching and practice with respect to circumcision did not agree? P. 226, par. 1,2.
(54) How explain the Apostle Paul's course recorded in `Acts 21:20-26`? Pp. 227-229.
THE APOSTLES NOT LORDS
(55) Were the Apostles ordained to be lords or rulers, or in any manner the vicars or substitutes of Christ in their relation to the other members of the Body? P. 229, par. 3,4.
(56) Were the Apostles ever regarded as lords by the early Church, or did they assume such dignity? P. 230, par. 1.
(57) Were the actions and experiences of the Apostles such as would be expected of lords? P. 230, par. 2.
(58) Did the Apostles counsel or encourage any other members of the Church to such aspirations? P. 231, par. 1,2.
(59) What were the respective attitudes of the Apostles and the other members of the Church toward each other? P. 232, par. 1.
(60) Why were the disciples at Berea especially commended by the Apostle Paul? P. 232, par. 2.
(61) Was this method of proving the Gospel also approved by our Lord? P. 233, par. 1, first part.
(62) What is the proof of Divine inspiration in the teaching of the Lord and the Apostles, the Law and the Prophets? P. 233, par. 1, last part, and par. 2.
APOSTLES, PROPHETS, EVANGELISTS, TEACHERS
(63) What is the general thought of Christendom with respect to the organization of the Church, and what is the character of the Divine arrangement in contrast with this? P. 234, par. 1.
(64) In showing forth the Divine arrangement, should we consider ecclesiastical history? P. 234, par. 2, first sentence.
(65) In examining the Bible account of the Church's organization, how shall we regard the Old Testament with its types? P. 234, par. 2, and P. 235.
(66) In looking to the New Testament for directions respecting the organization and rules of the Church in her trial state, what must we keep constantly in mind? P. 235, par. 1.
(67) What Scriptural illustration (`1 Cor. 12`) beautifully illustrates this entire subject? P. 236, par. 1.
(68) What conclusion do we draw from this illustration as to the necessity for stringent rules in the Lord's organization of the Church? P. 236, par. 2.
(69) Who is the Superintendent of affairs in the Church? P. 237, par. 1,2.
(70) Should those who fill the more responsible positions in the Body be able to produce evidence of their Divine appointment? P. 237, par. 3.
(71) Do we find the same variety of members in the Church now as were necessary in the early Church? P. 238, par. 1, first part.
(72) When and how did the "gifts" of the Spirit cease? P. 238, par. 1, last part.
(73) What did the Apostle mean when he said, "Covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet show I unto you a more excellent way"? (`1 Cor. 12:31`). P. 238, par. 2.
(74) Where do we find another Scriptural lesson concerning the oneness of the Church as one Body of many members, and the object of special service on the part of some members? P. 239, par. 1.
STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES
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