VOL. XXI. JUNE 15, 1900. No. 12.
Views From the Watch Tower........................179
Thoughtful Words of an Able Man...............179
The Anomalies of Orthodoxy....................179
Methodism and Higher Criticism................180
Educated White Savages........................181
Keep Yourselves in the Love of God................182
Jesus Walking on the Sea..........................184
I Am the Bread of Life............................186
Lord, Help Me! `Matt. 15:25`......................190
Revised Price List of Bibles, Etc.................192
Special Items: The Volunteer Work.................178
Attention Watch Tower Readers!................178
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THE VOLUNTEER TOWERS.
The friends of the truth in every direction are joining heartily in circulation of this special issue of the WATCH TOWER. They evidently consider, as we do, that it should be regarded as a sharp sickle of truth for gathering the ripe "wheat."
We have already printed over half a million copies of it, a good share of these being already in the hands of the people. We are proceeding with the work, and hope to make the total at least a million. We regret that we cannot as yet supply foreign orders except from Great Britain on account of freight rates. We are having an edition printed in London for Great Britain.
Do not waste any, nor let any lie idle; but send us your requests for all you can use judiciously--amongst intelligent readers.
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ATTENTION WATCH TOWER READERS!
We have learned recently of some readers of this journal who have not read the MILLENNIAL DAWN volumes entire. This is a great mistake. None can rightly understand or appreciate the precious truths presented herein unless he first have a clearly outlined view of the great divine plan of the ages: and hence we urge upon all that they begin this study at once.
All on our list are supplied the DAWNS at wholesale rates (to assist in their wide circulation through loaning, etc.) and any too poor to pay even this small sum will be supplied gratis for their own reading if they will let us know, requesting under this offer. For prices and descriptions, etc., see next column.
In view of the fact that our "earthen vessels" are so leaky we all need to replenish our stock of grace and truth continually; and hence we advise repeated readings of the DAWNS. When reading them you are really reading the Bible; for they are merely an arranged and systematized Bible. It is for this reason that like the Bible they do not grow old to the truth-hungry.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
THOUGHTFUL WORDS OF AN ABLE MAN.
AN EXCHANGE quotes epigrammatic statements from various addresses delivered before the "Ecumenical Mission Conference" held recently in New York City, and among them all none impressed us so much as the following by Mr. Benjamin Harrison, ex-President of the United States:--
"The natural man lives to be ministered unto-- he lays his imposts upon others. He buys slaves that they may fan him to sleep, bring him the jewelled cup, dance before him, and die in the arena for his sport. Into such a world there came a King, "not to be ministered unto, but to minister." The rough winds fanned his sleep; he drank of the mountain brook and made not the water wine for himself; would not use his power to stay his own hunger, but had compassion on the multitude. He called them he had bought with a great price no more servants but friends. He entered the bloody arena alone, and, dying, broke all chains and brought life and immortality to light."
THE ANOMALIES OF "ORTHODOXY."
The "Ecumenical Conference" on Missions recently in session in New York City, considering ways and means for preaching the gospel to Brahmins, Buddhists, Confucians, Greek Catholics and Roman Catholics--in its very name ignoring Romanism as anti-Christian, since its missions were not recognized or included under the comprehensive term Ecumenical --was of course "orthodox." At the same time there was in session in the city of Boston another and quite different convention or Religious Congress, which being under the lead of the famous "orthodox" preacher, Heber Newton, supported by many other notable reverend gentlemen and Doctors of Divinity also "orthodox," must be considered equally as "orthodox" a conference as the one which met in New York City. Yet note the wide difference in these applications of the term "orthodox;" for the Boston Convention accepted and heard all religions--Christian, anti-Christian, Buddhist, Brahmin and Confucian on a common level.
As a matter of fact this word orthodox, which signifies "correct or sound doctrine," is claimed by everybody; for no one could conscientiously hold to anything he considered unsound or incorrect. But in applying the term to others is the difficulty: how for instance can a Methodist agree that Presbyterian doctrine of foreordination and predestination is correct or "orthodox" and still refuse to accept it? Or how can a Presbyterian agree that Methodist doctrine is "orthodox" when it differs so radically from his own? And how can "Disciples" and "Baptists" recognize as "orthodox" or correct and sound other doctrines which ignore water immersion, which Baptists and Disciples strenuously claim is absolutely essential to a membership in the Church of Christ, and to the salvation which they claim is provided only for the Church?
The fact is that the various sects were much more consistent when they each denied that the other was "orthodox" and each claimed that itself alone was the "orthodox," the correct and doctrinally sound church.
What brought about this change? We answer, two things conspired to produce the present inconsistent condition.
(1) Religious doctrinal convictions have softened, tho the professions continue as hard and stout as ever. Instead of conviction has come uncertainty, doubt, skepticism and the general feeling that "nobody knows --we may be right, you may be right or all may be wrong."
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(2) Not knowing who is right we will simply stick to our own church [not to Christ's one, true Church "whose names are written in heaven"] as being as good as any other man-made church, and merely recognize all others claiming the name of Christ and having influence, wealth and numbers as being also "orthodox," correct also--for all we know to the contrary. But in preventing any advanced thought being known as "orthodox" all are agreed--they have already sufficient confusion unavoidably covered by that term: unavoidably, because to deny the term "orthodox" to any popular system would be to invite it to denounce yours as "unorthodox," and thus to raise a doctrinal discussion which neither cares to risk before the people, lest the weaknesses and fallacies of all be disclosed to those now "at ease in Zion," dozing, if not sound asleep, on all such subjects.
This is the meaning of the general opposition of all denominations to what we are presenting from the Scriptures as present truth: they see that it is a positive doctrine and that those who receive it have convictions: they see, too, that these appeal to the Bible and apply its statements in a manner that brings order out of the hitherto confusion and babel of the sects: they perceive, too, that it is reasonable (which they know none of the others are) and they each individually and all collectively fear that if heard upon its merits it would sweep all theories before it into oblivion. It is therefore "Self-preservation, the first law of nature" which incites the so-called "orthodox" against the glad tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people. For just the same reasons the various sects and parties of the Jews, however diverse, united against the true Light as God revealed it in the close of the Jewish age.
We of course claim that the WATCH TOWER presentations are orthodox, correct, sound doctrinally-- otherwise we would not promulgate them. And we go farther and deny that the various inconsistent, unreasonable and unscriptural doctrines of Babylon are orthodox. We claim that altho almost all the creeds of Christendom contain some grains of truth, they contain much more error, which quite beclouds and nullifies their elements of truth.
Nevertheless, we claim that our standard of "orthodoxy" is not narrow when applied to Christian people, tho it is so exclusive as respects all the creeds of Christendom. It is just as broad as the Bible will permit: and who that acknowledges its authority has a right to ask for more or to accept less?
Our standard of orthodoxy as applied not to sects but to Christians, personally, recognizes as correct and sound in doctrine all who acknowledge the following points. (1) That he is by nature a member of the fallen, condemned race and hence a child of wrath even as others, and justly under the divine sentence of condemnation. (2) That Christ died for the ungodly, for Adam and all his condemned race; and hence God can now be just in justifying him and all who believe in Jesus. (3) That his justification is the basis of his call to full consecration in self-sacrifice, and that he has thus devoted his all to the Lord, in exchange for the share in the Millennial Kingdom which the Lord has promised to all such "overcomers." --`Rev. 2:26`; `3:12,21`.
All the above described class are properly recognized as "orthodox" and "brethren," however they may differ on minor details in the correct knowledge of which they may be expected to grow under the Lord's guidance;--building one another up in [the details of] their most holy faith, as revealed in the Word of the Lord, which, as they come more and more to understand it, will make them wiser and wiser respecting the good and acceptable and perfect will of God,--unto salvation,--until salvation actual, the "crown of life," with glory, honor and immortality, shall be the grand outcome of the finished race.
Who knows any fault to find with this Bible standard of "orthodoxy"? No one! But this is the chief ground of objection to it in the eyes of churchianity: it antagonizes and would speedily destroy not only one but all sects: hence all oppose it:--the far-seeing preachers leading their ever-confiding flocks into the battle against the Lord and his truth,--in which through temporary success they eventually are the sad losers.
METHODISM AND HIGHER CRITICISM.
It was expected that the General M.E. Conference would be asked to take some stand for or against "higher criticism;" but so far we have seen no mention of it. The expectation was based upon the protest made by a few students against "Higher Criticism," Evolution, etc., being taught at the M.E. Boston Theological Seminary. The students resigned, intending to go to other M.E. colleges presumed to be sound on the Scriptures; but to their surprise they found a solid denominational front against them, which conspired so successfully that they were refused admittance to any. This means that infidelity to the Bible, under the name of "higher criticism," is being impressed upon every M.E. minister now issuing from these seminaries. And it means that the greatest power of Methodism, its ministry, scattered all over the land, is to be exerted to the gradual undermining of the faith of Methodists. And, "like priest like people," it means that Methodism will soon be fighting God's Word stealthily, covertly, from the inside--inside
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the house of its professed friends. However, this will only awaken some of the Lord's true saints in that house and show them that it is high time for them to come out from Babylon--and from its confusion of false doctrines.
Zion's Herald publishes the results of an investigation respecting the number of "conversions" made by two hundred M.E. ministers, educated in the Boston Seminary since Higher Criticism and Evolution began to be taught there fifteen years ago. The results are reported with great satisfaction as giving evidence that Methodism is prospering exceedingly under the diet which repudiates the doctrine of the ransom and makes void the Word of God. These two hundred ministers report 6,023 "conversions" during the six months preceding March 1, 1900. The argument drawn from this is that M.E. prosperity lies in that direction, and that the sooner the old fogy believers in the Bible and the Cross wake up and abandon these the more rapidly will Methodism prosper. Hence it was taken as beyond question that the General Conference would certainly not raise its voice to interrupt successful procedure.
But to what were these 6,023 persons "converted"? To Methodism! Possibly a very few of them may have been converted to the Lord. Yet when one remembers that nearly all such so-called converts are children of from eight to fifteen years it seems amusing to credit their "conversion" to either truth or error or to call them "conversions" at all.
Principle seems to be disappearing in respect to religious matters. Churchianity of all denominations seems to be getting to be a business governed by "rules of trade" and "laws of supply and demand." What do the people want? What will draw the crowd, add to the church list and treasury? Evidently these are the queries which cause preachers most of their anxious thoughts rather than--What message does the Lord's Word give me for his people? What is the Truth and how can I best make it plain to the Lord's sheep?
But then again, how could we expect these wise "higher critics" to lay much emphasis on the words of our Lord and the apostles and prophets when they have concluded themselves to be wiser than they-- claiming that our Lord and the apostles made numerous and grievous mistakes in quoting from Moses, David, Isaiah and other prophets, words which these modern wise men declare were never uttered by these prophets. The conclusion is that if the Lord and the apostles erred in these matters they were not infallibly inspired respecting others: and if they, the "higher critics," could correct them on these points they could give them general instruction, and are surely more competent authorities themselves.
Alas for the poor sheep! How many may be expected to follow the pernicious ways of these false shepherds! None too extravagant is the prophetic declaration, "A thousand shall fall at thy side"--only the sanctified in Christ Jesus, copies of God's dear Son, will be able to stand complete in him. These will be the "very elect," and it will not be possible for them to be deceived and ensnared; for God will give his messengers a charge [a message] for them [present truth] and thus these "feet" of the body of Christ shall be upheld that they stumble not.--`Psa. 91:1,7,11,12`.
EDUCATED WHITE SAVAGES.
That education is valuable no one will dispute, nor is it to be denied that it frequently puts a refined polish upon the actions and words of men and women who are therefore known as gentle-men and gentle-women. It is a mistake, however, to confound this kind of surface polishing with the "begetting of the spirit," "a new heart." The one is a gilding of the surface manners, the other a transformation of the entire being affecting the sentiment as well as the conduct.
As a painful lesson on this subject, proving that fine education may leave men still savage at heart and only needing opportunity to develop it, we quote below an article from the Literary Digest. It relates specially to college bred men of two nations, both of which combine religious and secular education--Protestant Germany and Roman Catholic Belgium: the representatives of the former probably were three-fourths Protestants and one-fourth Catholics and of the
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latter all Catholics, corresponding to the populations of those countries. Both claim to be "Christian nations," kingdoms of God, and their coins declare that their rulers reign "by the grace of God." We are glad that we hope for a very much better Kingdom for which all the more we pray, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth even as it is done in heaven." The article follows:--
"THE WHITE MAN'S SAVAGERY IN AFRICA.
"While it is customary to speak of the African natives as 'savages,' and to deplore the cruelty of the Sultan of Turkey, who permits the slave trade to flourish between his dominions and the east coast of Africa, late revelations prove that men of more civilized nationalities can be quite as cruel. The Brussels Petit Bleue relates the following:
"The rise of the Bundja tribes against the Kongo authorities was caused by Belgian tyranny. Hundreds of men died with Lothaire and other Kongo agents in defense of the cruel practices there. The agent Moray says: 'The rebellion of the Mongalla region is due solely to the cruelty with which the natives are treated. Rubber is the booty of the white invader now. If, in
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a village of 100 male inhabitants able to work, only 50 appear with the required amount of rubber, soldiers are sent to kill the other fifty. The 'loyal' natives are used to fight against the 'disloyal,' and as all are man-eaters, it is easy to reward the loyalists by promises of feasts on the corpses of the slain.
"The following statement which appears in the continental papers speaks for itself.
"CONGO STATE, DISTRICT BENGALA: Before me, Agent of the Antwerp Trading Society, appeared at Mandika, the sergeants Massamboko and Mulanda, and the privates Mutuana and Pongo, all of the Station of Mandika, who swore as follows:
"'White Man! We have returned from the war. We marched thirty hours' distance with the white man Imela (Van Eyken). He ordered us to enter the villages, to see if the inhabitants had gathered enough rubber. If they had not, we were to kill them. In one village we told him we had fulfilled his orders. He told us we had not done enough. He told us to cut up the men, placing the pieces on poles; the bodies of the women and children we were to put in a big scaffold in the shape of a cross. Returning through N'Dobe we found all the natives treated like that. We swear that this is true. Follow marks and agent's name: Moray.'
"According to other reports hundreds of natives have had their hands chopped off because they did not furnish the required quantity of rubber. Similar cruelties are reported from the French Sudan. Several high officials formerly in the German employ have also been punished as offenders of this kind. The Dutch papers remark that the French, English and Spaniards have a great advantage in the patriotic discipline of their newspapers, for while the Dutch and German papers will report an outrage of their countrymen immediately, Frenchmen and Englishmen will exercise patriotic prudence."
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"KEEP YOURSELVES IN THE LOVE OF GOD."
WE CANNOT KEEP ourselves in this love unless we have gotten into it. And that all men do not possess it, or are not in this condition of heart, is not only manifested to our senses through the experiences of life, but testified to by our Lord Jesus, who said to some of the holiness people of his day, "I know that ye have not the love of God in you."-- `John 5:42`.
We are to distinguish then between natural love and the love of God. All mankind has some share at least of natural love--self-love, love for family, love of friends. Our Lord, speaking of this kind of love, implies that it is not the love of God, saying, "If ye love them that love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same." (`Luke 6:32`.) The love of God, therefore, is a different kind of love to that which is common to the natural man, and we need to be directed into it, and to grow or develop in it, as the Apostle testifies, saying, "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God." (`2 Thess. 3:5`.) We are directed into this love through the divine Word which brings to our attention the peculiarity of God's love as distinguished from that of the natural fallen man. While love in the natural man is more or less selfish, even in our very best exercise of it, on behalf of friends, God commendeth his love toward us as being of a superior kind, in that while we were yet sinners, aliens, strangers, enemies through wicked works, under his gracious, loving plan Christ died for us. This kind of unmerited, sacrificing love is wholly different from anything that is known to fallen humanity. As our Lord Jesus said, the greatest love amongst men would be that a man should lay down his life for his friends, but to lay down his life for his enemies is certainly a much higher type of love,--unselfish, gracious, heavenly.--`John 15:13`; `Rom. 5:7`.
The first blessing that comes to us, as the eyes of our understanding open and we come to some knowledge of the divine character and love, is that we perceive or discern or come to realize this higher type of love--the love of God. As the Apostle says, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he [Christ] laid down his life for us." "Herein was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him."--`1 John 3:16`; `4:9`.
It is after we have thus perceived the love of God that it begins to operate upon us, if we are in a favorable condition--if our hearts are good ground, prepared under divine providence for this knowledge. Of such the Apostle says, "The love of Christ constraineth us"--draws us, awakens a reciprocating love in our hearts, so that in turn we love God. Not that we first loved God, but that his love attracted and developed ours. (`1 John 4:19`.) The effect of this love upon the good-ground heart is that very shortly it decides that it could do nothing less than love similarly in return, and thus be willing to lay down life itself in God's service. It esteems that this would be but a reasonable service, a reasonable recompense for divine favors.
The Apostle Paul sums up this transformation from selfishness to the love of God in a few words, saying, "We ourselves also were at one time foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another; but when the goodness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared he saved us [delivered
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us from this evil condition of heart], not on account of works of righteousness which we had done, but according to his own mercy, he saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the holy spirit, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior."--`Titus 3:3-6`.--See Diaglott.
This newness of spirit, this new mind, this mind in accord with the love of God, the Apostle assures us is not received except by those who receive the holy spirit. Those who merely take the step of justification may to some extent experience a reformation of life, so that instead of living an openly evil course they will seek to live at least moral lives. But none can expect to receive the begetting of the holy spirit of love, and thus to become possessed of "the love of God," a self-sacrificing love, unless he takes the step of consecration to the Lord, which brings him into the condition in which he may indeed have the holy spirit, the spirit of divine love, shed abroad in his heart. Let none then hope to obtain the love of God in any other way than the way which God has provided. Undoubtedly in the Millennial age it will be made possible for the natural man to come into "the love of God" through a process of restitution; as he shall more and more attain to the perfection of human nature in that time he may to that extent more and more become possessed of the love of God until, when finally perfected, he may possess this love of God in full measure,--because humanity, in its perfect condition, is a fleshly image of the invisible God. But now, while we still have these mortal bodies that are imperfect, and while restitution has not commenced, there is only the one way of attaining the love of God --by obedience to the call of this age, to present our bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, through Jesus our Lord.
The new creature is to grow and to be more and more filled with the holy spirit--more and more filled with the love of God; hence we may expect that there will be differences of attainment in this matter, and we should know what to look for as evidences of our growth in grace and of our attainment of this love of God. The Apostle John declares, "This is [proof of our possession of] the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and do not find them grievous." (`1 John 5:3`.) He who keeps the Lord's commandments, but who finds them grievous, has thus an evidence that he is not in heart-harmony with them, that he has not made a full consecration of himself to the Lord--the obedience of such an one would be no proof whatever of the possession of "the love of God." But whoever of the Lord's people is so in harmony with him that they delight to do his will, have in this an evidence that the love of God is dwelling in them
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richly and abounding. This is the same thought which the Apostle again expresses, saying, "Whosoever keepeth his word [loves the word of God, and takes pleasure not in turning, twisting and endeavoring to avoid the force of that Word, but who keepeth or cherisheth it, loveth it, and seeketh to conform thereto] in him verily is the love of God perfected."--`1 John 2:5`.
This reminds us of our dear Redeemer, in whom verily the love of the Father was perfected, and who is represented by the Prophet as saying, "I delight to do thy will, O God; yea, thy law is within my heart." (`Psalm 40:8`.) And our Lord marked out the same spirit, as being essential to those who would be his disciples, saying, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." (`John 15:10`.) There is no suggestion in any of these or in other Scriptures that mere outward formalistic obedience and piety count anything with the Lord. The Lord "seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth"--such as have the spirit of righteousness, love for righteousness, love for truth, love for all the qualities of the divine character, and a desire to conform thereto in thought, word and deed.
Nor are we to make the mistake that some have made, of supposing that the commandments referred to by our Lord are the Ten Commandments upon which hung the covenant which God made with the Jews. We are not Jews, and hence have nothing whatever to do with their covenant, given through Moses, its mediator, at Sinai, nor with the Law upon which it was based. We are Christians, and have to do with a better covenant, sealed with the precious blood of Christ our Mediator, and based upon a still higher law than the Decalogue--a law which instead of saying, "Thou shalt not" do this, "Thou shalt not" do that, is positive, and declares what we shall do, saying, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy being, with all thy strength; and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." This is a higher law, of which our Law-giver, Jesus, said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love," and of which the Apostle said, "Love is the fulfilling of the law." The Apostle John says, "He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God; he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love."--`1 John 4:8,16`.
Altho the first evidence of the possession of "the love of God" is a love for God, nevertheless the Scriptures distinctly point out to us that an additional requirement is specified, viz., love for the brethren--for those who have the spirit of God, especially, but in a general way at least a sympathetic love for all mankind. Thus the Apostle says, "If we love one another, [it is an evidence that] God dwelleth in us, and [that]
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his love is perfected in us." (`1 John 4:12`.) The same Apostle emphasizes this same point, saying, "Whosoever hath this world's goods [interests, affairs], and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (`1 John 3:17`.) The intimation is that such a lack of love and sympathy, and such a restraint of assistance from a brother in need, would imply that the love of God either did not at all dwell in such an one, or that it was but slightly developed--far from being perfected.
Nor does this love merely exercise itself toward the brethren in matters of temporal necessities; rather, it affects all the affairs of life, leading the one who enjoys it to "walk in love," "forbearing one another in love." (`Eph. 5:2`; `4:2`.) And even were it necessary to speak an unpalatable truth, the spirit of the Lord, "the love of God," will dictate the speaking of the truth in love, which the Apostle assures us is essential to our growth in Christ.--`Eph. 4:15`.
Knowledge is valuable, but only incidentally; of itself the Apostle assures us knowledge would be inclined to puff us up, make us vain and boastful, and thus quite out of harmony with the spirit of God, the spirit of love, meekness, gentleness. Knowledge might make us merely tinkling cymbals giving out a sound, but possessing no real merit in the Lord's sight. But knowledge, when it serves its proper purpose, brings us to the appreciation of "the love [that is] of God" and to a realization of the wisdom of copying his character, that we should seek so far as possible to be like our Father which is in heaven, copies of his dear Son, our Lord. The Apostle brings this position clearly to our attention when he says, "That ye being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height and to know [appreciate] the love of Christ... and be filled with all the fulness of God.--`Eph. 3:17-19`.
Undoubtedly love is the principal thing to be studied, to be appreciated, to be copied and practiced in our lives. We trust that a large proportion of the WATCH TOWER readers have already become partakers of this "love of God," and that all such are seeking to have it perfected in them, and to be rooted and grounded in it. We have the Apostle's assurance that only those who take this standpoint can make permanent and thorough progress in grace and knowledge. Those who have entered the school of Christ, and who refuse to progress in it toward perfection, may assuredly expect that sooner or later their knowledge of the divine plan will slip from them; while those who do make progress in this proper direction may expect that the lengths and breadths of the divine plan will continue opening before them, and that their growth in knowledge will keep pace with their growth in love.
Finally, in harmony with our text, let us remember that this is not a matter that God attends to, but a matter which requires our own attention. God has made all the provisions whereby we may know of his love, and may be constrained by it, and may be accepted into it, but it devolves upon us to keep ourselves in the love of God: and we can only thus keep ourselves in his love by seeking to practice in the daily affairs of life the principles of his love: permitting the love of God to constrain us daily to sacrifice ourselves in the Lord's service, for his honor and for the spread of his truth; permitting the love of the brethren to so fill our hearts that, as the Apostle expresses it, we may be glad to "lay down our lives for the brethren" (`1 John 3:16`); permitting a sympathetic love for mankind in general, the "groaning creation," in all of its trials and difficulties, to exercise our hearts so that we shall more and more feel kindly and generously toward all with whom we have contact and to make us helpful to them as we have opportunity; permitting this love even to extend to the brute creation under our care, so that we will not be negligent of their interests; all this seems essential to our keeping ourselves in this love of God. Let us more and more practice, and thus become more and more perfected in this love, which is the spirit of our Father, the spirit of our Lord, and the spirit of all who are truly members of the body of Christ.
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JESUS WALKING ON THE SEA.
`MATT. 14:22-33`.--JULY 1.
"Of a truth thou art the Son of God."
OUR LAST LESSON, respecting the feeding of above five thousand persons with five barley loaves and two small fish, and the twelve haversacks of fragments gathered, and the illustration this afforded of divine ability to care for the Lord's people, and at the same time the propriety of frugality on their part, was followed that same night by another miracle and another lesson. After the multitudes had been fed, toward the close of the day, they evidently were loth to leave the company of one so able and willing to care for their necessities, and probably it was to expedite their dispersion that our Lord urged the apostles to start in their boat for Capernaum.
Our Lord, after dispersing the multitude, sought the solitude of the mountain in prayer. Tho he sometimes prayed with his disciples in their hearing, so that
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they recorded the words of his prayer, it is evident that he was not content with merely these opportunities, but frequently sought the Father alone, as he has counseled his disciples to do, saying, "Enter into thy closet [private apartment] and pray to thy Father in secret." (`Matt. 6:6`.) All Christians of experience have realized the value of such secret personal communion with the heavenly Father, nor are we surprised that our Lord Jesus felt the need of a similar communion. His knowledge of the Father, and his fellowship with him before the world was made, so far from satisfying him and rendering prayer unnecessary, rather stimulated his desire for further fellowship and communion, especially as he was alone in the world--even his beloved disciples, not having yet been begotten of the spirit (`John 7:39`), could not enter into fellowship with him in respect to spiritual things, nor appreciate the trials which came to him as a perfect man, in a way in which they do not come to fallen humanity. He needed such fellowship with the heavenly Father for the refreshment of his own zeal, for the keeping warm of his own love and devotion, which was the basis of his consecration and his daily sacrificing of himself as a man, even unto death.
There is no intimation given that our Lord spent much time at prayer, morning and evening, yet we may
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reasonably suppose that he never neglected to seek the Father's face; but these brief seasons of worship and prayer daily were evidently supplemented by occasions like the one mentioned in this lesson, in which our Lord spent, apparently, considerable of the night in prayer and communion with the Father. There is a lesson in this for the Lord's people. The duties of life, pressing upon us daily, are not to be neglected; each is to feel, as our Lord expressed it, "I must be about my Father's business," and this would imply, ordinarily, short prayers, which our Lord commended, saying, "When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be ye not therefore like unto them; for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him." (`Matt. 6:7,8`.) And the example of a prayer, given his disciples, is brief. Nevertheless, in proportion as we feel the importance of the great work in which, by the Lord's favor, we are privileged to be co-laborers with him, our hearts should be and will be drawn to seasons of spiritual communion;--not necessarily a prayer in the sense of making requests of the Father, for much of such seasons will doubtless be devoted to thanksgiving for the mercies and favors already experienced, and for the gracious promises upon which we base our faith for the future, and communion with the Lord, in the sense of pondering his will respecting us, and how we may most acceptably serve and please him.
While our Lord was thus holding communion with the Father, the apostles rowing the boat were having difficulty to make headway, a strong head-wind having arisen, which made the lake very rough, boisterous, billowy. John, who was one of those in the boat, tells us that they had only gotten about twenty-five or thirty furlongs (two and a half to three miles) from the shore, in the several hours they had been rowing. This was what is termed the fourth watch of the night, viz., between three and six o'clock in the morning. While thus rowing hard, worn and sleepy, they saw the figure of a man near them, walking on the water, and apparently intending to pass their boat. (`Mark 6:48-50`.) Some of them cried out in fear, thinking that they had seen a supernatural being, and that it foreboded some calamity, but it was Jesus who spoke to them, and set at rest their fears.
The boldness of Peter's faith was then most strikingly illustrated by his request that the Lord should bid him walk on the water; and having received the permission, his faith was so strong that he did walk for a few steps, until seemingly appalled by his own temerity and the boisterousness of the water, he began to sink, and cried to the Lord for help, which he received through touching the Lord's hand. If the miracle of the loaves attested the superhuman authority of our Lord, so likewise did this manifestation of his power attest the same; and if the former illustrated his power to protect his people from want and to supply all their necessities, this last manifested that divine power is unlimited and able to preserve his people in all the storms and difficulties and trials of life.
This is a good lesson for us to apply individually, realizing, as we all must, that our Lord has supernaturally fed us with spiritual food, and that during the darkness of the night-time which precedes the Millennial dawn and sunlight there will be storms and difficulties arising which would overwhelm us without the Lord's aid. We are to remember that not only the natural winds and waves obey his power and command, but that all the storms and billows of trouble and persecution which may impede and weary us are amenable to his control. The more we are able to realize this, the more of joy and peace we will experience, because the stronger will be our faith in him who is able to succor us and who has promised eventually to do so, and that meantime all things shall be overruled for our highest welfare, if we abide in him.
But the boat and the twelve toiling rowers, and the storm and darkness of the night, all picture still more perfectly the experiences of the Lord's people as a whole--not the experiences of a sectarian church, but the experiences of the one true Church, of which the Lord is the Head, the "Church of the First-born, whose
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names are written in heaven." (`Heb. 12:23`.) This true Church has indeed had a stormy time since parting with her Lord who ascended to the Father. The darkness came down upon them--darkness of error and superstition; and the great Adversary, through the Antichrist and many less antichrists, has aroused all through this Gospel age a great storm against the Lord's faithful few. The difficulties of their position have caused them to bend every effort to make progress against such fearful opposition, of which one of the apostles declares, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood [merely], but against principalities, and against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against wicked spirits in high positions." (`Eph. 6:12`.) This battle against adverse influences has continued throughout the night-time of this Gospel age, and yet the Church has not reached the harbor nor has the storm abated.
As our Lord came to the disciples in the midst of the storm, in the fourth watch of the night (that is, in the early morning), so his second coming in the Millennial dawn is to the Church and to "help her," rescue her from her toil and weariness and peril, as the Prophet says, "The Lord shall help her early in the morning." (`Psa. 46:5`.) And as the manner of our Lord's coming to his disciples was different from that they had expected, so the manner of his second advent differs from what has been expected, and Peter would seem to represent a class living now, in the end of the age, who being fully convinced of the Lord's presence are privileged to walk to him by faith. But as Peter's faith was unequal to the occasion, except as the Lord came to his rescue, so all of the faithful now will need the Master's hand stretched to their relief, otherwise they would sink in discouragement, because of the lack of faith.
Is there not a good lesson here for all who have been faithfully laboring in self-control, and in the Lord's service, to bring all their thoughts and words and doings into full accord with the will of God in Christ, and who experience from the world and the flesh and the Adversary serious opposition as the Lord's people? The lesson here, in harmony with its presentations elsewhere in the Scriptures, is that little progress can be made by the Lord's people until the Master himself shall join them; and that then their blessedness and privileges will be proportioned to the measure of their faith. How strongly this speaks to us, then, of continued faithfulness and of growth in faith, not in ourselves but in the Lord, and of his ultimate deliverance of all who put their trust in him.
In John's account we learn that as soon as the Lord and Peter got into the boat, immediately the wind and storm ceased and the ship was at the harbor. So it will be with the Lord's people, the "little flock;" so soon as their faith has been fully tested at the Lord's second presence, he will join their number, and immediately the trials and storms, difficulties and oppositions will be at an end, and the desired haven of heavenly condition will have been reached, the Kingdom will have come. Courage, then, dear brother-mariners on the sea of experience, seeking to make your calling and election sure! Let us note carefully the Master's words to Peter as especially applicable to ourselves, viz., that all that will hinder us from walking out to meet the Lord is lack of faith. "O thou of little faith: wherefore didst thou doubt?"
Let us learn to trust the Lord, not only in the matters which pertain to his Church and all of its interests and affairs, but also in all of the matters and interests of ourselves and families. The lessons will be profitable to us, and prepare us for larger measures of divine favor, and for the joys of the Kingdom. And all this faith is based upon a clear realization of our Golden Text, viz., that our Lord Jesus is truly the Son of God. If the Son of God, he is true, and if he is true then all the exceeding great and precious promises which he left for us may be relied upon, built upon, anchored into; and such reliance in them will give us the faith requisite for the overcoming of all the difficulties and obstacles of life, that we may come off more than conquerors through him who loved us and who bought us with his own precious blood.
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"I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE."
--`JOHN 6:22-40`.--JULY 8.--
SOME OF THE MULTITUDE who dined on the five loaves and two fish were evidently very deeply impressed with the miracle, and inspired with great respect for Jesus. A number of them (we cannot suppose very many) concluded that they would follow this great Teacher, possessed of such wonderful powers, feeling assured that becoming his disciples would at least safeguard them from want; and this, to a people of their kind and under those conditions, was evidently quite an inducement. However, when they found the Lord on the other side the lake, at Capernaum, and expressed to him their interest, and how it had led them to follow him, he told them plainly that theirs was a selfish or mercenary interest, and not the kind that he desired to cultivate, namely, an interest in the truth.
Taking advantage of the situation, our Lord gave, not only to these but also to his disciples and to us through them, a most valuable lesson on the proper
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things to be sought after; pointing out that the chief aim and desire and object of life should not be the meat that perisheth, earthly food, earthly comforts, earthly pleasures, which at very most can be but transitory, but that on the contrary the chief aim of all should be to attain life eternal, beyond the present dying condition. He points out that God's provision for his creatures is not merely earthly food for the sustenance of our natural bodies for a little time, but much more important, a spiritual nourishment, of which, if we partake, we shall attain eternal life.
He would have them see that the miracle which he had performed, and whose blessing they had shared, was merely an illustration of a greater gift, of a more valuable bread of life, that he, the Son of God, was alone able to give them--and the same is true of us and of all. By way of assuring them that he was as able to provide the bread of eternal life as he had shown himself able to provide the natural food, he declared himself to be the Son of God; and that the heavenly Father had sealed him, marked him, granted him the evidences and proofs of sonship in the powers conferred upon him. The seal was the holy spirit, the holy power of God, which acting upon our Lord Jesus enabled him to turn the water into wine and to increase the broken barley loaves and two little fish so as to feed the multitude. These powers were the evidences or outward manifestations to men that God's holy spirit was with him, the mark or seal of his relationship to God as an honored representative, a Son. On the strength of these evidences, the witnesses having the right condition of heart should have been prepared to heed our Lord's testimony, as a message from the Father.
The discourse was not without its effect: the hearers felt the force of the suggestion that the important food to be sought after was that which would give the life eternal, and as Jews they had before their minds the further thought that God had made a covenant of works with their nation, with promises of eternal life attached thereto--the Mosaic Law Covenant. Hence their inquiry, What works shall we do that would be pleasing to God, and that thereby we might have eternal life? Give us whatever message you have that will help us in this matter.
Our Lord's answer may at first seem to us a peculiar one, in that he declares that to believe on him would be a "work"--the work most acceptable before God-- the only work that could possibly make them acceptable to God. What is meant by this we will consider further along. His hearers evidently understood exactly what he meant, viz., that the thing most pleasing in God's sight would be that they should acknowledge him as the Son of God, the Messiah, coming into the world according to divine promise, to establish the Kingdom of God, and to begin the blessing of all the families of the earth. But now they asked a sign of his Messiahship, instead of realizing that they had already seen the sign or signet or seal of God upon the Lord Jesus, as manifested not only in his spirit of love, kindness, generosity, goodness, purity and truth, as well as in his doctrines, but additionally that they had seen outward manifestations and evidences of the divine power upon him, as shown, for instance, in the miracle of the day before. This was because they were hard-hearted, as the Scriptures elsewhere express the matter (`Mark 3:5`; `John 12:40`), that is to say, they were in a faithless attitude, not readily impressionable, but rather inclined to be skeptical: hence these signs or evidences of the seal of God upon Jesus were not sufficient for them.
We can readily see, however, that if sign upon sign had been given, the same "evil heart of unbelief" could reject ten signs as well as it could reject one. Just so it was in the case of Pharaoh: he was really more impressed with the first sign given by Moses than by the succeeding ones, each of which being received in an improper spirit tended to make his heart the harder, until the last. Just so it is with some today in respect to the Lord's promises. They incline to ask, Did the Apostle say this, that is contrary to my prejudices? And if convinced of the fact they would want to know whether any other apostle had said it, and thirdly, whether the Lord himself had said it, and fourthly, whether any of the prophets had said it,--seeking not so much to believe as for an excuse for disbelieving. Such persons usually, if they had all of these evidences, would be no more convinced by the multiplicity of testimony. On the contrary, he who really believes the Bible to be God's Word believes its every authentic testimony, whether by the Lord or an apostle or prophet, and whether stated once or many times reiterated.
The workings of skepticism in the minds of our Lord's auditors is evidenced by their statement. In substance they said, "We cannot acknowledge that your miracle was so great or so wonderful as necessarily to imply that you are the Son of God, for we remember that Moses exercised a power something of this kind; in fact, he provided bread enough for our forefathers, the whole nation of Israel, for quite a long time in the wilderness, and that without any loaves and fish to begin with,--we refer to the manna."
Our Lord's response is that the manna was not produced by Moses, that he had nothing whatever to do with sending it; that it came directly as a provision of the heavenly Father, Moses not being even an agent in the matter. And then our Lord pointed out that the manna given in the wilderness was typical of the true Manna, the true bread of eternal life--himself and the truth he
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proclaimed--which he now desired them to receive at his hands.
They did not yet get the thought that he referred to himself, but rather were getting a crude and natural thought, that as God had given manna from heaven that sustained their fathers in the wilderness, so now this great Teacher, Jesus, was telling them of a still higher class of manna, the partaking of which would yield eternal life, and hence they exclaimed, "Lord, evermore give us this bread!" Our Lord then explained the figure or parable, declaring, in the language of our Golden Text, "I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."
It is evident that in the words "cometh to me" our Lord did not mean to approach him as his hearers had done, coming across the lake. The expression "cometh to me" must be understood, therefore, as coming to the Lord with hunger and thirst for righteousness, with a desire for the life eternal, and hence for the bread of life by which it might be attained. All who would thus come to Jesus, in this proper attitude of heart, would find him to be indeed a satisfying portion. Likewise the expression, "He that believeth on me shall never thirst," must be understood to mean more than merely believing that such a person lived, for it is written that "devils also believe and tremble:" to "believe," therefore, must be understood to signify accepting the Lord, not merely intellectually, but with the heart, as it is written, "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness" [to a change of heart which aspires to righteousness]. He who thus believes in the Lord from the heart, recognizing him as the Son of God, through whom are to be fulfilled all the exceeding great and precious promises of the divine Word, receives such a refreshment, such a slaking of thirst, such a satisfaction, as will never end so long as he maintains this faith. (`Rom. 10:10`.) Such find the divine provision in Christ so abundant that they could not ask for more, and exclaim,--"It satisfies my longings, as nothing else could do."
And now we see the meaning of our Lord's words of `verse 29`, "This is the work of God [the work which God would be pleased with], that we believe on him whom he hath sent." There is a work connected with believing;--not a work with our hands, but a work with our heads and our hearts: and no work that we could do with our hands would be as acceptable in the Lord's sight as this. Indeed, when we realize that in our fallen and imperfect condition it is impossible for us to do anything perfectly, when we remember also that God is perfect, that all his work is perfect, and that he cannot therefore be in sympathy with imperfection, or any degree of sin, we can readily see that the very best works we could offer him aside from faith would be unacceptable.
But God has proposed to do a great work for us-- he has done that great work in that he has provided the Redeemer, through whom the ransom-price has been paid for our race: and now God can be just and yet be the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Hence, while no work that we can do could be accepted of the Lord so long as we are under condemnation, yet he can, by his own provision, accept our faith in Christ,
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and justify us through that faith: this, our first work possible, is therefore what God calls for. He will accept no other work, except it is preceded by this one and based upon this one. O that all could realize the importance of faith in the Lord's sight! "Without faith it is impossible to please God," and the more faith we exercise the more do we please him: not credulity, not a belief of something which God has not said; not a belief in our own imaginings or those of other men; but a belief in what God has said, and a firm, confident trust therein: this is acceptable with God, and becomes to all who exercise it the ground or base of justification, that "being justified by faith we might have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."--`Rom. 5:1`.
The Lord did not here discuss the further step to the high calling of this Gospel age; hence we will not discuss it now. He is dealing merely with our first necessary step in approaching God,--justification. The thing necessary, in order to justification, is the acceptance of Christ as the Bread of Life--which must be preceded by the realization that we have no life in ourselves, death having passed upon all of our race through father Adam's transgression; and that the Lord Jesus was made flesh in order that he might meet the penalty that was upon father Adam, and thus upon the race; and that now, therefore, whoever accepts this free grace of God in Christ, whoever appropriates to himself the merit of Christ's sacrifice, is thereby eating, partaking of the great benefits and blessings provided by God in the Anointed one, who gave his life for the life of the world, a ransom price. Whoever mentally accepts this fact, and feeds upon it in his heart, is represented as feeding upon the flesh of the Son of Man--partaking of the human rights, privileges and blessings of restitution [or in this age justification] provided in him.
Our Lord pointed out to his hearers the fact that their slowness to receive him, and the slowness of the people of Israel in general, was not an evidence that he was not the Messiah, but rather was an evidence that they were not in a condition to receive the Messiah. And further, that it was not God's purpose that he should attract the whole Jewish people, but merely that he should draw to himself, by the gracious words which should proceed out of his mouth, and by the miracles
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or evidences of power of the Lord in him, such as the Father had "given" him--such as were pleasing to the Father, such as were ready to receive a further blessing through this channel which the Father had provided. And he assured them that while not expecting all to be thus drawn to him, nevertheless all who would be drawn thus of the Father he would most gladly welcome, because he was not in the world on a mission of his own merely, but to fulfil the Father's purposes,--with which he was in full harmony.
In the two verses following, our Lord seems to distinguish between the two classes of saved ones, verse 39 referring to the elect class of this Gospel age, and verse 40 to the general blessing upon mankind to follow this age, during the Millennium,--and to the opportunity that will then be afforded to every creature to be blessed with this great gift of eternal life, purchased by our Lord at such high cost as his own life.
The elect are frequently, as here, spoken of as specially given to Jesus, while the whole of mankind are referred to as his because bought with his own precious blood. The Father draws to the Son during this age a special class, and gives such a class to him to be companions, joint-heirs in his Millennial Kingdom--these are sometimes called his "brethren," as when it is said that Jesus was "the first-born among many brethren" (`Rom. 8:29`); and again, they are designated his bride and joint-heir, in contradistinction to the saved of the world of mankind, who will be recognized as the children of Christ, and of whom he will be the "Everlasting Father."--`Rev. 21:9`; `22:17`; `Rom. 8:17`; `Isa. 9:6`.
Our Lord declares it to be the Father's will that all whom he has "given" him shall be saved, shall be raised up--not one of this class shall be lost. Who, then, are these thus sure of salvation? We answer that the Apostle Paul adds a word of explanation along this line, informing us of the class whom the Father has elected and predestinated: they are such as receive the Lord Jesus now by faith, and who hearing the invitation of this Gospel age, the "high calling," are so impressed with it that they lay aside every weight and run with patience the race set before them in the gospel;-- and so doing, under divine providence and direction they are molded and fashioned as respects their characters so that they become "copies of God's dear Son." --`Rom. 8:29`.--Diaglott.
The heavenly Father fixed the marks and conditions of his predestination of this class, not so much in respect to all who shall hear the good tidings (altho he has to do with sending the message); not so much in respect to who all shall be drawn by the message of his grace in Christ (tho he has to do with the drawing, and in the present time is drawing only a particular class); not so much with reference to the call that goes forth to all who accept Jesus, inviting them to run the race of self-sacrifice in his footsteps (tho he is interested in this call, and supervises the affairs of those who accept this call, causing that all things shall work together for their good); but especially he has predestinated in respect to the number who shall constitute the Bride of Christ, and to the character of all who shall be in that company: that it shall be composed of such and such only as shall during this Gospel age, while in the school of Christ, learn thoroughly the lessons of faith and obedience, developing characters of like pattern to that so gloriously manifested in Jesus, whom the Father sent forth to be not only our Redeemer, but also our Pattern.
It is the Father's will that every one who thus obeys the leadings of divine providence, and attains to the likeness of the Lord Jesus in his heart, his will, his intention (not perfection of the flesh), shall everyone of them be saved in this great salvation, and be sharers with Jesus in the "first resurrection," and in the glory, honor and immortality to which it leads. Not one of these shall be lost; every one of them shall be raised up to that glorious station at the appointed time--"the last day," the seventh of the great week of thousand-year days,--the Millennial day. And as the Prophet declares, it will be early in that day, for "God shall help her [Zion] and that right early [in the morning]."
The `40th verse` does not refer to those whom the Father specially gives to the Son to be companions and joint-heirs in the Kingdom, and whom he draws through his providences during this age: it refers to the remainder of mankind whose ransom price our Lord Jesus has paid, and who, according to the Father's program, our Lord Jesus himself is to draw unto himself, during the Millennial age; as it is written, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me." But even as the Father's drawing is not a compulsory drawing, so likewise the drawing of the Son will not be compulsory. But since we may assume that the majority of those who now resist the Father's drawing do so because of blindness, ignorance, etc., because the prince of this world is now reigning and deceiving, we may reasonably suppose that when our dear Redeemer's Millennial Kingdom shall have been established, and when Satan, the prince of this world, has been "bound" (`Rev. 20:2`), and when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth,-- then the drawing influence upon the world of mankind exerted by the Redeemer himself and by the Church, his body, associated with him in glory, will be a drawing which will yield much larger results, so that many will yield to it and come to the Lord truly and heartily, and receive of the blessings which God has provided in him;--all except those who wilfully love sin and refuse the terms of the Kingdom, faith and obedience.
Of this class our Lord declares (`verse 40`), that it is
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his Father's will that all such shall see the Son (their blinded eyes being opened in that Millennial day, as the Lord has promised through the prophets.--`Zech. 12:10`.) Their eyes of understanding being then opened, they will be able to appreciate, as they cannot now appreciate, the Lord and the covenant of eternal life which he offers to all who obey him. They will not thus see him, however, until the god of this world, who now blinds the eyes of their understanding, shall be bound for the thousand years, and his baneful influence offset with the light of the knowledge of God which will then shine out to the world from the great Sun of Righteousness, --the Lord and the glorified Church, his body.
It is God's will that all who shall accept Christ then shall have everlasting life too; and that they shall be raised up by the Lord Jesus to perfection also,--tho theirs will be an earthly, and not like the others a heavenly, perfection; and their raising up will also be "at the last day," but not at its beginning as with the "elect" of the "first resurrection." The overcomers of this Gospel age, the body of Christ, will be perfected in his likeness in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and then subsequently, throughout that age, the work of raising up the world of mankind out of sin and depravity and degradation will go gradually and grandly forward, until by the close of the Millennial age all the willing and obedient shall have eaten to their fill of the bread from heaven and shall be fully raised up, out of sin and death, to life eternal--in the image and likeness of God as was Adam before sin, but with characters perfected and tested in righteousness by their Millennial experiences.
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"LORD, HELP ME!"--`MATT. 15:25`.
--`MARK 7:24-30`.--JULY 15.--
AFTER OUR LORD'S discourse on the bread from heaven (we know not how long after) he and his disciples went westward to the border of Phoenicia. There, entering into a house with the evident design of secluding himself from general notice, and possibly to gain quiet and rest, the Lord was quickly discovered by a Syro-Phoenician mother, whose daughter was possessed of a demon, and who availed herself of this opportunity to importune the Lord for her daughter's deliverance. The fame of Jesus and his miracles, in the healing of the sick, etc., had evidently extended throughout that region, yet it must also have been known that Jesus was a Jew, and that his miracles and favors were confined to his own race.
We can readily see that there were numerous obstacles to the woman's faith, and the strength of faith which surmounted them compels admiration.
(1) She was a foreigner, a heathen, for whom God had manifested no favors, "without God and having no hope in the world." (`Eph. 2:12`.) Hence, coming to Jesus she not only had to overcome the prejudices of her own heathen ideas and instruction from infancy, but had also to overcome everything akin to pride and the fear of being despised and rejected as one unworthy of the favor she sought.
(2) As a poor and uneducated woman she would naturally have great diffidence in approaching a learned man, especially one so notable as this great Prophet of Israel, of whom no doubt she had heard much.
Notwithstanding these obstacles, her love for her daughter, and her confidence in Jesus, were so great that she sought him out; and after the manner of that time and place, in a loud voice and probably with weeping, "cried" to the Lord for compassion and assistance, in her trouble, saying, "Have mercy upon me, O Lord, thou son of David: my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." She met with a rebuff at the very start, for according to `Matthew's account (15:23`) our Lord ignored her entirely, not answering her a word. To many this would have been sufficient to have discouraged faith, and sent them away weeping; but not so with this woman: she kept up her cries and importunities. She was confident that the Lord had the power to assist her, and had not yet refused to do so, and hence her faith continued to cling.
The disciples seem to have been annoyed with her cries, which probably kept up for some time, and Jesus and the disciples had evidently left the house in which they were lodging and proceeded on their journey, the woman still following and crying out for assistance. The disciples came and besought him, saying, "Send her away, for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Our Lord's answer to the disciples would seem to indicate that the meaning of the apostles' words was that he should grant her request and send her away; and his answer shows why he delayed so doing. The blessings he had to give were for God's covenanted people, the typical seed of Abraham, and this woman was not of that nation to which God had granted much favor every way; she was of a heathen nation, with whom God had not entered into any covenant relationship whatever, and for whom as yet he had done nothing. Our Lord explained this to the disciples, and in the hearing of the woman, not merely for their benefit and hers, but also, we may presume, for our admonition.
Altho our Lord would seem to have been resisting
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the woman and unwilling to grant her favor, we consider it not unreasonable to suppose that he thoroughly understood the case from the beginning, and that he adopted the method he did to draw out her faith, preparatory to the giving of the blessing desired.
And herein we have a lesson respecting persistency in entreating the Lord for relief from the power of the devil, however exercised, whether in our friends or in ourselves. As the woman knew that the case was a hopeless one as respected relief from any other quarter, so we know to hope for relief from the Adversary only through the Lord's interposition. Like this woman, therefore, our faith should be equal to the emergency, and should persistently hold on to the Lord for the blessing which, with a greater knowledge than she, we may be sure he will be pleased to grant in his own due time and way. "Shall not the Lord avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, tho he bear long with them?" (`Luke 18:7`.) If in our case the Lord shall not see best to grant a prompt response to our prayer, "Abandon us not in temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One" (`Matt. 6:13`), we may be sure that it is not from lack of interest in our welfare, for has he not manifested his interest by redeeming us, and by calling us to joint-heirship in the heavenly Kingdom? If then the response shall not come in the way or at the time we had inclined to hope, let faith still hold her anchorage in the divine goodness and power, and in the exceeding great and precious promises, and let us remember that according to these the time, at very farthest, will not be long, until the Millennial Kingdom, when the great Adversary shall be bound, and deliverance full and complete from his power shall be granted, not only to ourselves and those immediately dependent, but also to all of the "groaning creation" now under his baneful influence.
The hearing of the reason why she had been ignored, so far from discouraging the poor woman, seemingly convinced her the more that Jesus had the power to help her, and, quite probably in front of him, she prostrated herself at his feet, after the custom of the East, so expressive of humility, dependence and entreaty, accompanying this with the plea, "Lord, help me!" (`Matt. 15:23-25`.) When finally our Lord addressed the poor woman prostrate at his feet, importuning his assistance, his words were again a rebuff, calculated to dishearten one of little faith, but correspondingly to strengthen a great faith. His answer to her was not one of disdain and contempt, nor of indifference to her woe; for indeed we well know that our dear Lord had no such feelings toward any. It implied interest and sympathy, but explained to her a reason why she was not a proper subject, namely, that as the children of a household would be provided for first, before the dogs, so it was proper that the Lord's covenant people, the Jews, should be ministered unto, healed, taught and blessed, first,-- before these blessings should in any manner or degree be extended to the Gentiles, who in comparison were as the dogs of the household. And, by the way, we should notice here that altho dogs amongst the Jews were spoken of frequently with great disrespect, as for instance, in `Rev. 29:15`, "Without are dogs," etc., referring to the wild dogs which roamed the country and were pests, yet the Jews were in the habit of having house dogs which were esteemed and petted by the family, and the word that is here used by our Lord, and also by the woman, signifies these house dogs or little dogs, pet dogs, and not the objectionable kind.
The woman triumphed over the obstacle of the Lord's argument, and with wonderful keenness and humility she acknowledged that she was not one of the children who had a right to the Father's blessing, but was merely one of the dogs under the table, desiring a stray crumb of divine favor. Then our Lord, appreciating such great faith and earnestness, said, "For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter," and that the woman's faith was of the proper kind was demonstrated by the fact that she believed the Lord's word, ceased her importunings, and went to her home, to find the matter even as Jesus had said.
How different is our case in many respects from that of this poor woman! So far from resisting us the Lord has graciously called us to a knowledge of himself and of his gracious plan, and we who were once aliens and strangers and foreigners have not only been redeemed with the precious blood, but upon making a covenant with the Lord have been adopted into his family, have been privileged to surround his table, and he has set before us as "meat in due season," in great abundance, all the exceeding great and precious promises of his Word. We need not to importune for these; they are ours for the taking. We simply need by faith to accept them and to use them. And if the poor woman of this narrative could exercise such faith in the Lord, and could get so great a blessing, it evidences to our
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minds what is abundantly stated elsewhere in Scripture, that nothing that we have or could offer to the Lord would be more acceptable in his sight than faith--faith in him, in his power, in his love and in his promises. Whoever will not exercise faith in these things cannot grow in knowledge of the Lord, cannot make development, cannot be overcomers, gaining the desired victory, for, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith," and "Without faith it is impossible to please God."--`1 John 5:4`; `Heb. 11:6`.
There is little that any of us possess that we could reasonably hope would be acceptable to God outside those mercies which he has bestowed upon us through Christ--faith, trust in God, is one of those heart-qualities which we can bring to the Lord, that he will not despise; honesty of heart is another; humility, realizing our utter dependence upon him, and confessing it, is another. These various sentiments were expressed by the woman in the narrative, by her actions and by her words, and as these brought to her divine favor, even before it was due to come to the Gentiles, much more should our humility, faith and candor prevail and make us endeavor to do that which is pleasing to God, who has already accepted us in the Beloved, and with whom he is well-pleased in proportion to the measure of our accepting through the Lord all the exceeding riches of his grace, which he has promised to them that love, reverence, trust and obey him.
REVISED PRICE LIST OF BIBLES, Etc.
Our Society does not supply Bibles free, but it justifies the Bible feature of its name by supplying Bibles, Testaments and Bible Study Helps at wholesale rates. Additionally we give our readers the benefit of our experience and judgment respecting which Bibles are the best value at the wholesale rate. Publishers expect to make a further advance in prices of cheap Bibles January, 1901.
OXFORD PRESS BIBLES.
The Students' Hand Bible.
No. 04403 Minion type, French Seal, Divinity circuit, Selected
Helps, including Concordance.......75c Post. extra 20c
The Self-pronouncing Teachers' Bible.
No. 0823 Bourgeois type, French Seal, Divinity circuit,
Round corners, Red under Gold edge, $1.00, Postage 25c
This is a wonderful book for the price, and its self-pronouncing
feature is on a new plan preferred by many.
The Revised Version Teachers' Bible.
No. 02752 (not self-pronouncing), Bourgeois type, French
Morocco, Divinity Circuit, Round corners, Red under
Gold edge....................$1.75, Postage extra, 25c
OXFORD PRESS INDIA PAPER BIBLES.
No. 01157x Ruby type, French Morocco, Postpaid..................$1.45
No. 03009x Pearl type, Persian Levant " .................. 2.25
No. 03114x Ruby type, Persian Levant " .................. 2.50
No. 03229x Ruby type, Persian Levant " .................. 2.65
No. 03265x Emerald type, Lev. Morocco " .................. 3.25
No. 03464x Minion type, Persian Levant " .................. 3.80
No. 03554x Bourgeois type, Alaska Seal " .................. 3.80
No. 03581x Long Primer type, Pers. Lev. " .................. 4.67
No. 0863x Long Primer type, Alaska Seal " .................. 5.21
No. 0865-1/2x Long Primer type, Levant " .................. 6.55
Thumb Index, if desired, 25 cents extra.
THE COMBINATION SELF-PRONOUNCING TEACHERS' BIBLE.
This remarkable Bible is really two Bibles in the space of one, for it shows in footnotes on each page the readings of the Revised Version whenever it differs from the Authorized version.
No. 932 Bourgeois type, French Seal, Divinity circuit, Round
corners, Gilt edge..................$1.15, Postage extra, 25c
No. 934 Bourgeois type, French Seal, Div. circuit, Leather
lined, Red under Gold edges.........$1.35, Postage extra, 25c
BAGSTER TEACHERS' BIBLES.--LONG PRIMER TYPE.
No. 8701 French Seal, Divinity Circuit, Red under Gold..........$1.05
No. 8706 Egyptian Seal, Flexible, Divinity Circuit, Silk
Sewed, Leather Lined, Red under Gold Edges............. 1.45
No. 8722 Norse Morocco, Divinity Circuit, Silk Sewed,
Leather Lined, Red under Gold Edges.................... 2.00
Postage on above Bibles 25 cents each, extra.
HOLMAN PICTORIAL TEACHERS' BIBLES.--BOURGEOIS TYPE.
These are handsomely embellished with eighty choice photographic reproductions of scenes in Palestine, which alone are worth the price of the Bibles.
No. 8816 French Seal, Linen lined, Red under Gold edges.........$1.75
No. 8836 Persian Levant, Silk Sewed, specially recommended
for service............................$2.35, Postage .25
OTHER DESIRABLE BIBLES AND TESTAMENTS.
Lap Bibles for the Aged.--No References.
These contain Family Registers.
No. 01600 Small Pica type, Cloth, red edges $ .90 Post. extra, 25c
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Ditto New Testaments for Aged.
No. 212 Small Pica type, Roan Sq. cors..........35c Post. extra, 12c
No. 283 Same as No. 212 with Psalms added.......45c " 15c
Pocket Bibles Without References.
No. 01103 Diamond type, India paper, Divinity Post. extra
circuit, Red under Gold edges................$1.00 3c
No. 178 Pearl type, Cloth, red edges................. .18 7c
No. 010 " Fr. Seal, Red under Gold......... .50 5c
No. 013 Pearl type, Fr. Seal, Divinity circuit,
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No. 038 Pearl type, Padded, Red under Gold........... .50 5c
No. 035 " Padded and clasp, Red under
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No. 01150 Ruby type, Fr. Seal, Red under Gold........ .40 7c
No. 01153 Ruby type, French Seal, Divinity circuit,
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No. 01227 Ruby type, French Seal, Gold roll, Red
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No. 01327 Minion type, French Seal, Divinity
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No. 01329 Minion type, French Seal, Divinity
circuit, Leather lined....................... 1.25 12c
Pocket Bible with References.
No. 03008 Pearl type, Fr. Seal, Divinity circ. $ .55 Post. extra, 7c
Child's Bibles, Profusely Illustrated.
No. 140 Ruby type, Fr. Seal, Limp..............$ .80 Post. extra, 10c
No. 145 Ruby " " Divinity circ........... 1.00 " 10c
Pocket New Testaments.
No. 801 Ruby type, Limp cloth, Sq. corners 5c Post. extra, 2c
No. 030 " Fr. Seal, Fine Design 15c " 2c
No. 033 " " Div. circuit 25c " 2c
No. 0130 Same as No. 030 with Psalms added 25c " 3c
No. 0133 " " 033 " " " 35c " 3c
No. 287 Brevier type, Roan, gilt edge, Psalms 35c " 5c
No. 010 Diamond type (very small), Limp,
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No. 014 Diamond type (very small), French
Morocco, Divinity circuit, Leather
lined, etc........................... 80c " 1c
The Tischendorf New Testament with footnote readings of three oldest Greek MSS., 50 cents, postpaid.
"Bible Talks in Simple Language."
This is the best book of its kind we have ever seen. It presents the Bible Stories in simple but not childish language, and seems remarkably free from the bad theology so common in this class of books. All Christian parents should have a Sunday Bible lesson with their children, and this book furnishes interesting topics, to which may be added as much concordant "present truth" as the age of the children will justify. Parents are responsible for their children's training in theology as well as morals. This will assist you in the discharge of this duty, and thus be a blessing to yourself as well as to your children.
624 pages, 250 illustrations; cloth sides, leather back and corners, gilt edges. A subscription book at $3.00. Our special price 75 cents, plus 25 cents postage.
Two texts and a verse for every day in the year. Have one on your breakfast table with the natural food. Appoint one of the family reader, and call for questions and comments. Feed the soul as well as the body. Small, neat, cloth bound, gilt edges. 15 cents, 2 for 25 cents, including postage.
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