VOL. XVI. NOVEMBER 1, 1895. No. 21.
Views from the Tower..............................247
Colporteuring in Great Britain....................248
Pressing Toward the Mark..........................249
St. Paul's Tears..................................251
Shoot Upward and Root Downward....................252
Poem: Let Your Light Shine Out!...................252
Bible Study: Saul Chosen King.....................252
Bible Study: Saul Rejected........................253
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THE RECALLED INTRODUCTORY LETTERS.
Some of these have not yet been returned; please send them in promptly. In this connection we wish to correct the misapprehension of some by explaining that the Introductory Letters were not recalled because they were seen to be wrong. Quite the contrary: we considered them entirely right and Scriptural; but since certain opponents of the cause miscalled them Letters of Authorization, etc., in total disregard of the facts and the statements of said letters, and since some of the beginners might thus be stumbled by the misrepresentation, it was deemed best to recall them; for no principle was involved or surrendered. As stated at the time, the Tract Society will no longer thus introduce anyone. But this in no degree curtails either readers or Editor of the TOWER from giving a letter of introduction whenever they think such a course advisable.
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
WE called attention recently to the fact that Methodism is being considerably shaken internally. The people, or, as they term them, the "laity," are getting awake to the fact that they are being ruled by a clerical oligarchy, whose wire-pulling for place and power and title among themselves much resembles the methods of political parties; while the people, the Church en masse, have almost no voice in the councils of the church, but all the expenses to bear.
The following extracts are from a prominent article which appeared recently in the Chicago Chronicle, and which has excited considerable comment. It is headed--
"METHODISM AND REFORM."
"The old polity that was established in the time of Asbury, and that has been trimmed a little here and there by the general conferences, is as ungainly as a seventeenth century dress. Reform is abroad in the air....
"The laymen are evidently waking up to the fact that as they are payers they ought to have more voice in the matter of church government.
"At present their voice, what they have, is so limited that a consciousness of it produces nausea and disgust. They are beginning to clamor for a "magna charta," and as England's king was compelled to grant the people's request, so here the general conference of '96 in Cleveland will be obliged to heed and obey. They demand that the church members elect their own officers and that they be not the tool of the pastor and a self-perpetuating official board. They realize that every member is a stockholder, and ought to have his stock represented by vote. This encroachment will be fought bitterly by the 'big ones' and the bishops.
"It is hard to yield power once possessed. The bishops do not claim unlimited power, but it amounts to the same thing, and is so exercised as to bring about the results obtained....
..."The present mode is for the bishop to appoint [elders]. What does he know of men, except hearsay, or uncertain popularity? And yet they do this, in consultation with a cabinet of presiding elders, who piously declare the bishop appoints them.
"If he does do so, in opposition to his cabinet, he is tyrannical. Any misfit is attributed to the bishop, who is in a position to snap his finger at impotent rage. Methodist ministers are loyal, or they would not stand such ridiculous assumption of power. The laymen are taking pity on the poor minister whose position is by the grace of his lordship, the bishop, and his cabinet. The laymen demand a free, untrammeled use of speech and action. Another step and we elect our pastors. At present, contrary to all law, a few churches do elect their pastors. This is demanded for all the churches. Election or selection of all churches in regard to their pastors is a settled fact. It is coming, it must come, or the earth will open and swallow us up....
"The spoken and unspoken actions and utterances of the laity were to curb the power--in fact to stop the "band wagon" long enough to climb in and ride. They already demand representation in equal numbers to all deliberations and conferences of the church. Their hitherto loyalty and devotion to their church has made them spectators rather than participants. Now they plan participation or alienation. No longer presiding elders and preachers ruled and controlled by bishops, and the laity in turn ruled and controlled by preachers.
"The bones of John Wesley must almost turn in their grave to see it. The old lumber wagon is doing good work, but a more modern vehicle is demanded. The greatest church in Protestantism has arisen, and will put on her beautiful garments. It looks revolutionary, but reform is always that. It is a strange fact that British Methodism, triumphant, is more American by far than the church in America....
"A good shaking up is necessary and it is coming. We are now weak, where to-morrow we will be strong. Let us pray for the day when we get down to a basis we can commend to the people--our church free from the shackles of an imperial ecclesiasticism."
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The Church of Christ has probably suffered more from pride and ambition for leadership than from any other one cause. The disciples were reproved time and again for disputing which should be considered greatest, until finally our Lord told them plainly that such a spirit of self-exaltation would be sure to keep all who possessed it out of the promised Kingdom. He said, also, "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant, even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."-- `Matt. 20:25-28`.
The highest position in Christ's Church was to be "servant," and he declared himself the chief servant or minister of the Church. And surely--if "all ye are brethren," then all the brethren should have an equal right to express their judgment of the Lord's will respecting the leadership of meetings, and all other matters related to the welfare of the Lord's cause. There should be no rulership, lordship or masteries amongst those whom the one Master, even Christ, has put upon a common level. The division of the Church in the dark ages into "clergy" and "laity" came not from the Lord and the Apostles,
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but from ambition, fostered by the great enemy, Satan.
We trust that the brethren and sisters who rejoice in the present truth will be on guard against conditions which have done so much in the past to injure the Lord's cause, and which grow from almost imperceptible beginnings, until custom becomes a chain which perverts God's order and hinders the development of the talents of many of his children and permits one or two in the congregation to exercise lordship over God's heritage, without so much as recognizing the right of the Church to decide for themselves (under the guidance of the holy spirit) who are those who possess the qualifications for the service specified in God's Word.
We urge upon all the brethren, in every place, possessed of zeal and qualifications for the service of God's flock, that they carefully avoid trenching upon the liberties wherewith the Lord has made free his people. We commend that modesty which in honor prefers one another, and seeks to help forward into active service every other one in proportion as he seems to have requisite talents; and which would refuse to lead even a small group except with the expressed desire that he do so, by at least a majority of those professing faith in the ransom and full consecration to the Lord's service. And this choice should not be perpetual: an opportunity to know the mind of God's people should be sought at least yearly, and oftener if there be reason to believe that a change would be desirable to the majority. Protect the liberties of the flock, because they are not yours but the liberties of Christ's cause. "One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren."
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COLPORTEURING IN GREAT BRITAIN.
HERETOFORE this has not been successful to any considerable extent; but the friends of the truth will be glad to read the following interesting account of Brother Houston's two weeks' trip. It shows what can be done by the use of the right methods. We hope others will take courage and try it, if only for a week or two.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I was out a fortnight colporteuring, just as an experiment, and I liked it well. I got on splendidly. I took a return ticket to Edinburgh, with liberty to stop at every station. I took the 8 A.M. train to Helmsdale. At the first house I got an order for Vol. I. I called at every house up one side of the street and down the other, also hailing men who might be standing in little groups. I got orders for 35 volumes. Strange to say, the first order I took was cancelled, as well as some more, but in delivering I made some further sales, and so made up for all that were cancelled.
I left Helmsdale next morning for Brora, where I sold and delivered about the same quantity. I had to stay here over the Sabbath. Was called upon by the Y.M.C.A. to take their meeting (a public one) on Sabbath night, and the Lord helped me to declare very fully the glorious gospel--with which they all seemed refreshed. A few of the leaders came with me to my lodging, to whom I declared more freely the truth of God.
On Monday morning I left for Golspie, where I sold and delivered about 60 vols. About one-fourth of those who bought took all three volumes, which helped up the sales wonderfully. Golspie is one long street, very easy to work. I took the orders the one day and delivered them the next. Here my No. I books ran out, and not having any more I passed on to Inverness, as I did not wish to canvass towns near by until I would have the books to deliver. In this work above all works, I find it is true, that "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might."
I started again at Buckie and thoroughly canvassed every house. Buckie is a very dead sort of place, about half of the population being Roman Catholics; hence the spiritual and mental deadness. Got about three dozen orders. Next day I went to Cullen, a very bright little town, where I got about forty orders.
I passed on to Aberdeen, where I knew a commercial gentleman to whom I had loaned Vol. I. At his house I met a few friends, one from London, a notable evolutionist. We entered into friendly debate and very soon got into the thick of all the great questions of the day. From the knowledge of the "Plan of the Ages," I was enabled not only to confute the wrong theories, but to point out the true, and introduce M.D., all of which helped to confirm my commercial friend and his wife in the truth. Left Aberdeen next morning for Edinburgh, saw the friends there. Passed on to Glasgow and saw a number of friends there.
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Left Glasgow again on Monday and came back to Edinburgh. Began with Brother Montgomery to try what could be done there. For the day we got ten orders. Brother Montgomery was well pleased; he sold fully more than I did, and this gave him confidence. He is to spend one day in the week canvassing systematically over Edinburgh. Mr. Ballingall, an excellent young man, is to help him. Although large towns are stiffer, one gets over the ground easily, and you come in contact with a number of precious souls in a very short space of time; and a tract or a word of truth might get in and do good eventually.
Next day I left for Perth. Was very tired and done up, but called upon a number of booksellers to see if they had ever seen or heard of that book (pointing out No. I), but not one of them had ever heard of it. I had not much time, but got a few orders. From Perth I started for home, and found every thing getting on very well. My average during the trip was 30 volumes per day.
Yours, seeking to serve our blessed master more fully than ever, C. N. HOUSTON.
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PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK.
"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."--`Phil. 3:14`.
THESE were the words of one of the most earnest and faithful runners for the prize of the high calling of the Gospel Church. The speaker was a man of faith, a man of understanding, a man of fixed and unwavering purpose and of dauntless courage--a wise man in the Scriptural sense, though a fool in the world's estimation. His course, as well as those of the other eleven apostles, we are assured was a successful one; for the Revelator in describing the heavenly Jerusalem says, "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (`Rev. 21:14`.) And at the end of his course, the Apostle, in the full assurance of faith, left us this triumphant testimony: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day." And then, ever mindful of the other members of the body still in the race, he added, "And not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing."-- `2 Tim. 4:6-8`.
In reviewing the course of the successful runners of the past, there is much of encouragement and helpfulness to all those who are still endeavoring to make their calling and election sure; for even the Apostle Paul, strong and daring as he was, reminds us that he was a man of like passions with ourselves; that while still in the strife of the Christian warfare he counted not that he had already attained the mark for the prize, nor that he was already perfect. He tells us that he realized, as we all do, a law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and that he found it necessary to exert his will continually to keep the body under.--`Acts 14:15`; `Phil. 3:12`; `Rom. 7:23`; `1 Cor. 9:27`.
If Paul and all the other apostles and beloved saints of the early church were men of like passions with ourselves, and similarly compassed with infirmities and adverse influences, besetments and allurements; and if they too were frequently assailed with temptations and trials which summoned all their fortitude to enable them to overcome, then, in their overcoming, we have the assurance that we also may overcome through the grace promised to us, as well as to them, if, like them, we avail ourselves of it.
So assured was the Apostle of his own continuous faithfulness, and of that of the other apostles, and of his co-laborers, that he could say to the church, "You have us for examples."--`Phil. 3:17`; `2 Thes. 3:7-9`; `1 Cor. 4:9`.
Noble examples they were--of faithfulness, of zeal, of patience, of endurance, and of true Christian fortitude and heroism. While many of those in more obscure positions in the church were doubtless as faithful in their spheres, the Apostle Paul, as a leader and pioneer of the faith among the Gentiles, comes very prominently to view. At the very beginning of his Christian course, the Lord said, "I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." (`Acts 9:16`.) Paul was not long in proving the truth of this prediction; but, instead of allowing the prospect of continual tribulation to depress him, he only rejoiced in the privilege thus afforded of testifying his love to the Lord. "And now," he says, "I go bound
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in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there, save that the holy Spirit witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."--`Acts 20:22-24`.
Hear the Apostle's testimony of his own experience-- "In labors abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?"--`2 Cor. 11:23-33`.
Through all these tribulations the Apostle pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling. The mark to be attained was holiness--that holiness which brings
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very thought into captivity to the will of God, the mind of Christ. (`2 Cor. 10:5`.) That was the grand ideal which Paul steadily pursued; and surely in his life he gave evidence of constant growth in grace. Under tests of great and ever-increasing severity his character developed into most graceful and beautiful proportions. The same is also manifest in the characters of the other apostles and saints, though their record has not come down to us as complete as that of the Apostle to the Gentiles.
But it is specially important that we should observe how our beloved Brother Paul was enabled to run so steadily in a race so difficult. How was he able to steer so clear of the temptations and besetments to which he, as a man of like passions with us, was necessarily subject? His answer is--"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark," etc.
Here are four considerations which we do well to ponder most carefully:--
First. The Apostle made a humble, sober estimate of his spiritual standing and strength. He did not feel puffed up at being a chosen vessel of the Lord to bear his name before the Gentiles. He did not consider himself the Great Apostle, nor vaunt himself in any way. And so far was he from boasting of his spiritual attainments, that he humbly reminded the church of the possibility of himself being a castaway, even after he had preached to others, unless he continued to stand fast in his integrity and to grow in grace. (`1 Cor. 9:27`.) And while he held up before them Christ as the power of God and the wisdom of God, and the model for their imitation, he humbly declared that he, with them, was striving to follow the pattern, Christ, while trusting alone in the merit of his sacrifice to make up his own shortcomings. Thus he was relieved of that greatest hindrance to spiritual development--self-satisfaction; for if any man considers that he has attained a satisfactory spiritual state, from that very moment he may date the beginning of his spiritual decline. No present attainments can be satisfactory to a sincere follower of Christ who studiously endeavors to copy the perfect pattern. It is only when we turn our eyes away from Christ that self-complacency can be exercised; for, in full view of the pattern, our shortcomings are ever manifest. And if in pride of heart we do lose sight of them ourselves, they only become the more manifest to others. Only in the realization of a continual growth into the likeness of Christ should the Christian find satisfaction. Like the Apostle, let him consider, not that he has already attained, neither that he is already perfect, but that he is still in the race and making progress towards the goal. And no doubt it was the considering of himself as not having attained perfection, and as still subject to frailty, that led the Apostle to seek the Lord's grace, that kept him always in a humble attitude of mind and that gave him compassion for the weaknesses and failings of others. It is those who become high-minded and self-sufficient that strain to pull out the mote from their brother's eye and forget the beam in their own.
Secondly, we observe the Apostle's singleness of purpose --"This one thing I do." He did not try to do several things: if he had, he would surely have failed. He devoted his life to the one purpose to which he was called, and to that end dropped every other aim in life. He did it, too, in view of the fact that all through the present life his chosen course would bring certain loss, privation, toil, care, persecution and continual reproach. In this singleness of purpose he was relieved of many temptations to turn aside to enjoy some of the good things of this present life, or to pursue some of its illusive bubbles.
Thirdly, we observe that he determined to forget the things behind. Had he allowed his mind to return again and again to con over the treasures of the past which he had given up; to reconsider how great the sacrifice which he had made in thus devoting himself to the cause of the despised and crucified One, he might have been tempted first to despondency, and later to return and seek to recover the things behind. On the other hand, he might have carried before him the picture of his persecutions of the Christians and his consenting to their martyrdom, wondering whether the Lord had forgiven him, and continually condemning himself for his blindness, thus forfeiting his peace of mind and interfering with his usefulness. But, having accepted forgiveness in Christ, he put that away also, though he frequently referred to the matter with contrition, and the thought seemed to influence his whole life so that he labored the more diligently to testify to his appreciation of the grace bestowed, and to be long-suffering with others as God had been with him. (`1 Cor. 15:9,10`; `Phil. 3:6`; `Eph. 3:8`; `Gal. 1:13`; `1 Tim. 1:12-16`.) Wise indeed was he to forget the things behind!
Fourthly, he reached forward to the things that were before,--his faith took hold of the promises of God with such tenacity that to him they were living realities, inspiring zeal and faithfulness. Upon the heavenly themes he allowed his mind to dwell, as he also advised others, saying, "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, 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. 4:8`.) This is the way he reached forward to the things before; and thus also we must gather our inspiration to holiness and our courage to endurance and preservering faithfulness, even unto death. The Christian's habit of thought has much indeed to do with his spiritual progress or retrogression, as it is also an index of his spiritual state, and good habits of thought need to be very carefully cultivated.
By "habit of thought" we mean that normal condition to which the mind habitually returns in the moments of mental leisure. While engaged in the active duties of life we must of necessity bend our mental energies
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to the work in hand, for if we do any thing merely mechanically and without concentrating thought upon it, we cannot do it well: yet, even here, Christian principle, well established in the character, will unconsciously guide. But when the strain of labor and care are lifted for a time, the established habit of thought, like the needle to the pole, should quickly return to its rest in God. "Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee." (`Psa. 116:7`.) Let not the mind thus temporarily released grovel and revel in earthly things, but let it return to its rest and refreshment in the contemplation of "whatsoever things are pure and lovely and of good report" --upon that beauty of holiness which is the mark or goal or end of our high calling, the attainment of which will be rewarded with the "prize"--glory, honor and immortality. As the poet has beautifully expressed it,--
"Now let our thoughts on wings sublime
Rise from the trivial cares of time,
Draw back the parting veil, and see
The glories of eternity."
Let thoughts of God and Christ and the worthy saints of the past and present, of the heavenly inheritance, of the blessedness of our future work in cooperation with Christ, of the magnitude and benevolence of the divine plan, and of the glory and blessedness of our gathering together unto Christ when our work of the present life is finished, fill our minds and inspire our hearts. And to these contemplations let us also receive the additional comfort and blessedness of personal communion and fellowship with God through prayer and the study of the Word and the assembling of ourselves together for worship and praise.
Fifthly, we note the Apostle's energetic zeal, which not only reached forward in contemplation of and desire for the beauty of holiness and the heavenly glory, but also earnestly pressed toward the mark for the prize. It is not enough that we consider and desire these things, we must also run for them, strive to attain them, and study and endeavor
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by the grace of God to so run as to obtain. In this connection we see a fresh beauty in the Apostle's admonition in another place--"strive [i.e., endeavor, labor] to enter into rest." The harder we work to accomplish the Lord's will in ourselves and that part of his work committed to us, the greater is our peace and true rest. Let all the faithful take courage, and also take instruction from the example and teaching of the faithful Apostle to us Gentiles, who himself ran so successfully to the end of his course; for the same grace is promised also unto us.
There is one other thought suggested by the above words of the Apostle which we would do well to consider, and that is, that as his faithful and successful course was a worthy and safe example to the Church, so likewise should each disciple of Christ in turn consider that his example will have its influence upon others. Every Christian should strive to be a pattern worthy of imitation--a pattern of earnest, faithful endeavor to copy Christ in his daily life, and of active zeal in his service. Patterns of perfection, of the ultimate moral glory and beauty of holiness, we cannot expect to be in the present life. Such a pattern we have only in Christ our Lord. In no such sense did Paul ever say, Follow me, or Follow us; but he did say, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." --`1 Cor. 11:1`.
The Apostle was a grand example of earnest endeavor to attain perfection, but not of the ultimate perfection which was in Christ only; and it is his zeal and intense earnestness in striving to copy Christ and to accomplish his will that we should imitate. Let us mark all such worthy examples while we also "press toward the mark [of character] for [the attainment of] the prize of our high calling."
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ST. PAUL'S TEARS.
NO reader of the Acts of the Apostles can have failed to notice the strong affection with which Paul inspired those who came to know him. We find it illustrated, for example, by their grief when called upon to part with him. When he bade farewell to the elders of the Ephesian Church "they all wept sore." (`Acts 20:37`.) On his leaving the Christians at Caesarea some time afterwards it is evident from his words in `Acts 21:13` that some of them shed tears. And Paul himself records the tears of Timothy.--`2 Tim. 1:4`.
On these occasions it would seem that Paul himself retained his composure. No mention is made of his weeping like the friends whom he was leaving. And yet he has told us once and again of his being moved to express his feelings in this way. Thus he reminded the Ephesian elders, on the occasion already alluded to, that during his ministry among them he had served the Lord "with many tears." (`Acts 20:19`.) In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians he tells them that his first epistle to them, in which he had to rebuke them sharply for their carnality and toleration of gross evil in the Church, had been written "with many tears." (`2 Cor. 2:4`.) And amid the joy with which he wrote his Epistle to the Philippians the mention he made of those "whose end is destruction" caused him at once to give way to weeping.--`Phil. 3:18,19`.
Thus we see that the tears of Paul's friends, however excusable or even laudable they may have been, were the expression of feelings far less noble than those which made him weep. Theirs were the tears of natural affection, mourning its own loss. His was the grief of an unselfish heart yearning over the salvation of others, and dreading lest they should be lost, or lamenting because the Christian profession of the Lord's people was marred and their Christian life hindered by their unholy walk. In this matter Paul resembled the Lord, whose tears were shed chiefly in sympathy on behalf of others (`John 11:35`; `Luke 19:41`), and who forbade others to weep for him. (`Luke 23:28`.) May he make us like himself in this also--strong to bear our own griefs and tender to feel the sorrows and sins of others.--Selected.
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SHOOT UPWARD AND ROOT DOWNWARD.
LET me remind you all, ye faithful believers in Christ, that ye are compared to trees--trees of the Lord's right-hand planting. Seek to grow as the tree grows. Pray that this year ye may grow downward; that ye may know more of your own vileness, more of your own nothingness; and so be rooted to humility. Pray that your roots may penetrate below the mere topsoil of truth, into the great rocks which underlie the uppermost stratum; that ye may get a good hold of the doctrines of eternal love, of immutable faithfulness, of complete satisfaction, of union to Christ, of the eternal purpose of God, which he purposed in Christ Jesus before the world was. This will be a growth which will not add to your fame, which will not minister to your vanity, but it will be invaluable in the hour of storm; a growth, the value of which no heart can conceive when the hurricane is tearing up the hypocrite. As ye root downward, seek to grow upward. Send out the topshoot of your love towards heaven. As the trees send out their spring shoot and their midsummer shoot, and as you see upon the top of the fir that new green child of spring, the fresh shoot which lifts its hand towards the sun, so pant to have more love and greater desires after God, a nearer approach towards him in prayer, a sweeter spirit of adoption, a more intense and intimate fellowship with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. This mounting upward will add to your beauty and to your delight. Then pray to grow on either side. Stretch out your branches; let the shadow of your holy influence extend as far as God has given you opportunities. But see to it also that ye grow in fruitfulness, for to increase the bough without adding to the fruit is to diminish the beauty of the tree. Labor this year by God's grace to bring forth more fruit unto him than ye have ever done. We would not be as the gleanings of the vintage when there is only here and there a cluster upon the uppermost bough, we would be as the Valley of Eschol, whose presses burst with new wine.
This is to grow in grace; to root downward, to shoot upward, to extend your influences like far-reaching branches, and to bring forth fruit unto the Lord's glory.--C. H. Spurgeon.
LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE OUT!
Have you entered the race for the prize, brother,
For the crown of Immortal Life?
Are you pressing along the line, brother,
Amid dangers, trials and strife?
CHO.--Let your light shine out clear and bright,
For you travel 'midst error and doubt;
Of this dark world "ye are the light;"
Christ has said let your light shine out.
Does the pathway seem tedious and lone, brother,
Are you weary, discouraged or faint?
Courage! Christ is beside you to give, brother,
Grace and comfort for ev'ry complaint.
There are pilgrims who need cheering words, brother,
Like our Lord, let us comfort and bless;
Any where, any time, we may serve, brother,
In this, find our own burdens made less.
Time for winning the prize is but short, brother,
Then so run that you surely obtain.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus alone, brother,
He will lead you, and make your way plain.
Wondrous priv'lege is granted to us, brother,
That of suffering with Jesus, our Head;
As new creatures are we in God's sight, brother,
To the world we are reckoned as dead.
Then be vigilant, steadfast and true, brother;
For the enemy "lieth in wait;"
And put on the whole armor of God, brother,
And for your feet make your paths straight.
MRS. M. L. HERR.
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SAUL CHOSEN KING.
--NOV. 10.--`1 SAM. 10:17-27`.--
Golden Text--"The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice."--`Psa. 97:1`.
WHEN Samuel was well advanced in years he appointed his two sons as assistant judges in Beersheba; but their elevation to office proved detrimental to them in placing before them opportunities for dishonest gain. Instead of resisting this temptation, they yielded to it and "turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment."--`Chap. 8:3`.
Under these conditions, with Samuel growing old and his sons reckless, and with powerful and threatening enemies on their frontier, the outlook for the national safety and prosperity of Israel was not hopeful from a human standpoint of view. And from the human standpoint it was only prudent forethought, in view of existing circumstances, to make provision for future necessities according
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to their own best judgment. The men of Israel, the leading men of the nation, thus reasoned; and accordingly, with respect and deference, they came to Samuel, the divinely appointed judge, and laid their case before him, with the request that the form of national government be changed, and that a king be appointed over them like the other nations. Thus they seemed to think that in the eyes of the other nations they would seem more formidable and more like a well organized nation; and the appearance of a well organized and powerful central government would reflect creditably, they thought, upon them as a people, and would give them a standing among the nations of the earth.
All this would have been very commendable human prudence, and might be considered sound judgment in any other nation than the nation of Israel; but in their case it was not. They were forgetting, or rather ignoring, the fact that the Lord was their king, and that all their affairs present and future were in his hands; that so long as they were faithful to their covenant with him they should have peace and prosperity, and that no evil should befall them and no enemy could overcome them unless God permitted it as a punishment for national sins, as the Lord himself declared, saying, "Shall there be evil in a city, and I have not done it?" "I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things." (`Amos 3:6`; `Isa. 45:7`.) This was not true of any other nation. Consequently Israel would have suffered no lack of prosperity or safety had they closely adhered to the Lord's leading. They had a powerful, though invisible, king, before whom none of their enemies could stand, and their only right course was to be loyal and obedient subjects. And if they were apprehensive of trouble in the future it was their privilege to draw near God; and in putting away sin and closely following him and committing themselves to his care, they would have been safe in every condition.
Their course in requesting a king gave evidence (1) of a lack of faith in the power and love and faithfulness of God, notwithstanding the marvels of divine providence toward them in the past; (2) of weariness in well-doing-- of only a slack hold upon those principles of righteousness in conformity to which alone could they enjoy the favor and blessings of God; and (3) of a desire to appear great themselves in the eyes of the other nations.
In this they incurred the divine displeasure; nevertheless the Lord granted their request, but at the same time foretold the evils that would accompany their choice (`8:11-22`), which evils were realized in varying measure until God removed the diadem from the head of Zedekiah, their last king.
The conduct of Samuel in this instance was most noble and unselfish. There was not a trace of selfishness or resentment in it. Grieved in spirit he took the matter to the Lord, evidently with that singleness of purpose which desired only to know and do his will. Then, with that dignity and grace which marked a high and noble nature, he humbly resigned his office in favor of the new king, and, like a tender father, kindly counselled and encouraged them to be faithful to God, closing his address with these touching words, "As for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king."--`Chap. 12`.
The choice of Saul was the Lord's choice of a king for Israel, the choice being indicated by lot. (`10:19-22`.) He was a God-fearing man of humble mind, of good ability and of noble bearing; and all Israel was well pleased with the choice. And Samuel, forgetful of himself and rejoicing to honor another, even one who was thenceforth to be his rival in the affections of the people, said to all the people, "See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted and said, God save the king."-- `Verse 24`.
Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom --laying down the principles and limitations of the kingly power (`Deut. 17:14-20`), thus instituting a limited monarchy.
After his anointing and acceptance by the people as king, Saul returned to his home in Gibeah accompanied by a band of godly men as his supporters and aids; and there, in retirement, he had time to make ready for the subsequent duties of his office. When he was despised and spoken against by some who neither feared God nor regarded man, Saul showed his good sense by simply maintaining a dignified silence and reserve, which was a severer rebuke than contention or threat.
The `golden text` for this lesson, while it has no reference to the Lord's reign over Israel, but to the establishment of God's Kingdom in the earth in the dawn of the Millennial day, and hence calls upon the whole earth to rejoice, has nevertheless a fitness as applied to Israel. The Lord did graciously and righteously reign over that people; and, to the extent that they were able to appreciate his righteousness and justice and his love and care, it was a cause of rejoicing to them.
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--NOV. 17.--`1 Sam. 15:10-23`.--
Golden Text--"To obey is better than sacrifice."--`1 Sam. 15:22`.
THAT the Lord expected of both the nation of Israel and the individuals of the nation strong confiding faith in him and implicit obedience to his commands is very manifest from the fact that the lack of such faith and obedience so often brought upon them severe penalties. As a nation they were punished with wars and captivities and plagues; and as individuals they were often severely chastised, as in the case before us. And God had a perfect right to require implicit faith and obedience of a people upon whom he had bestowed so many of his blessings, and to whom he had manifested himself in such wonderful ways.
The case of Saul was one of those cases where much had been given, and of whom, therefore, much was required. God had chosen him and called him out from a position of obscurity and made him king over his chosen people; he had given him favor with the people, surrounded him with good assistants and co-laborers, and the wise and faithful
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counsel of his servant and prophet Samuel; and he had established him in the kingdom and given him victory over his enemies. But notwithstanding all these manifestations of divine favor, Saul was disobedient and slow to trust the Lord. `Chap. 13:2-15` records his failure to trust God, and his presumptuous act in assuming the role of the priest and himself offering sacrifices, contrary to God's law and to his agreement with Samuel. He feared the enemy when he should have trusted in God, and he sinned presumptuously when he should have waited patiently for the deliverance which God alone could give.
For this rash, presumptuous and faithless act, which proved Saul unworthy thenceforth of the great honor which God had conferred upon him in making him king over his people, God determined to withdraw that special favor and to appoint another to reign in his stead, and so instructed Samuel. "And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly; thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee."-- `13:13,14`.
Yet God did not take the kingdom from Saul at once. There was time left for repentance and reformation, which might have brought some mitigation of the penalty; and a measure of the divine favor still continued for his encouragement. But the season of grace was not improved, and by and by another test further proved Saul unworthy of his trust. On the southern borders of Palestine dwelt the Amalekites, a nomadic, warlike race, who roamed through the deserts between southern Judea and Egypt. They were a continual menace to the Israelites, often joining themselves to their other enemies and doing much damage. The iniquity of these enemies of the Lord's people now being full, God sent word to Saul by Samuel to destroy them utterly, to leave none of them alive, and also to destroy all their goods.
This last feature of the command was hard for the acquisitive Israelites to obey, and, with Saul's permission,
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the best of the spoils were preserved, and Agag (their king) he saved alive. Then Saul sought to cover his sin with a lie; but the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen disclosed the truth, and the faithful prophet did not hesitate to inquire of the king, "What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?"
They meant that the king had disobeyed the command of the Lord, and the flimsy excuse that they were preserved for sacrifices unto the Lord was rejected as worthless. "And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." (`Verses 22,23`.) This is God's estimate of human wilfulness. It is like witchcraft in that it trusts to erring human judgment in preference to the infallible divine judgment; and it is like idolatry in that it adores and seeks to please self rather than God, who alone is worthy of supreme reverence, respect and obedience.
Then Samuel delivered the Lord's message to the erring king, saying, "Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night." "And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?" and now, "Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king." (`Verses 16,17,23`.) A few years previous to this a similar warning had been given, but Saul did not heed it nor repent, though the Lord was very slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. (`Chap. 13:13,14`.) And Samuel mourned for Saul: the young man that seemed so promising on the day of his inauguration had now departed from the right ways of the Lord; and Samuel grieved as a father over a wayward son.--`Verse 35`.
But the Lord bade him arise and cease to mourn over Saul, seeing that he, the all-wise and holy One, who could not err, had rejected him from reigning over Israel. Then he directed him to David and told him to anoint him to reign in his stead.--`Chap. 16:1`.
In the selection of both Saul and David we see that the Lord specially sought a meek and quiet spirit. Saul was at first little in his own eyes, and when the proposition was made to make him king, Saul answered, "Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?"--`Chap. 9:21`.
That was just the spirit the Lord wanted to exalt, just the spirit that was fitted for his use; and had Saul maintained it throughout his course his reign would have been one of great prosperity; for behind his weakness was the might of Jehovah. The exaltation of Saul, alas! proved too great a temptation for him to pride, self-will and selfishness. He should have remembered ever to keep little in his own sight; for it is only the humble that God can exalt and use.
The lessons of this narrative are important also to us. If much every way--of favor, of divine precept and promise and leading and instruction, and of special providences manifesting the divine favor and presence and blessing-- was given to fleshly Israel, how much more is given to the Gospel church--the exceeding great and precious promises, the witness of the holy spirit with our spirits that we are sons and heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ if so be that we suffer with him, the leading of the holy spirit, the instructions of the inspired Apostles, and the wonderful manifestations of divine favor and providence to the Church both collectively and individually!
And if implicit faith and reliance upon God were expected of fleshly Israel in view of their knowledge of God, how much stronger is the ground for such expectation on the part of the Gospel Church! The Lord does, and has a right to, expect much--a large return of faith and confidence and love and obedience--from those to whom he has given so much of the wealth of his favor; and if we are doubting and disobedient and wayward still, notwithstanding all his grace, we surely will not be counted worthy to be entrusted with the crown and the Kingdom which the Lord has prepared for them that love him. But as the Lord appointed another to take the place of Saul, so he will appoint others to take the crown and the Kingdom from those of the Gospel Church who prove themselves unworthy of it.
Beloved, "Be not faithless, but believing," and "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."
The lesson of meekness is also an important one. "When thou wast little in thine own sight," God could exalt thee and use thee. But beware that his goodness to thee harden not thy heart and incline thee to pride, ambition, self-righteousness or presumption. Mark the effects of these upon Saul, and beware; and by watchfulness and
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prayer strive to maintain a lowly mind, to think soberly, and to act wisely and prudently. Mark also the contrast of the effects of God's favor upon Samuel--the meek and quiet spirit, the beautiful self-forgetfulness and self-abandonment to the will of God, the noble heart that could even rejoice in the prosperity of a prominent rival, and that could lovingly and tenderly minister to the ungrateful and unappreciative. Such a character is one of the choicest flowers of earth. Such God appreciates and loves and seeks to cultivate by all the testings and trials of the present time (`1 Pet. 5:10`); and such he will exalt in due time ("after that ye have suffered a while"). "Humble yourselves, therefore," beloved, "under the mighty hand of God."
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER:--I have been closely studying all the points you make in the three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN and in ZION'S WATCH TOWER.
Churchianity has been an abomination to me from childhood, and the Church of Rome a system I feared and hated. Fox's Book of Martyrs, with its illustrations of torture and persecution of the saints, roused all the indignation of my boy's heart. All my life my heart's best sympathies have been on the side of oppressed humanity, and I have turned neither to the right hand nor to the left for frowns or favors. In the abolition of slavery I took my part in Massachusetts, where I was born in 1835, and fought for it in the army. I was actively engaged with my dear old father in the temperance cause, and we struck hard blows, so much so that hanging in effigy and threats of all sorts, even to life, were common to us.
Some prejudice against the church and professed Christians was early engrafted into my mind by certain events of my youth. For instance, I saw a good man, who protested against fellowshiping men as brethren in Christ who held their fellow men in bondage, knocked down by the deacons and dragged by the hair of his head out of church. My mother had hard work keeping me from throwing the hymn-book at the deacons. I asked her why he did not stand up and fight. She replied that he was a true Christian, and believed in non-resistance. To my active, belligerent mind this was a strange principle. Senator Sumner of Massachusetts was another professor of this principle; and I remember well, when he was struck down in the Senate Chamber, how ready I was to avenge the blow if opportunity had permitted.
But life has brought its lessons, and I too have had to learn that physical force is not the most powerful weapon. In the Labor reforms energy, talent and money have all been spent for twenty-five years with no expectation of reward of any sort; for, unlike many others, place nor profit was not in it for me. However, as I see things now, I hold no vain regrets as to this matter; for I recognize in this whole matter God's own good pleasure to me personally, and world wide. No blow could have been struck, not even war, that would have caused such general worldwide distress and trouble as this act of all the kingdoms of demonetizing silver and thus taking away from the people the use of half their money. Money, the blood of commerce and the power of civilization, is thus made the instrument of helping on the day of trouble.
Excuse so much of personal history this time. I have written it as an introduction so you may the better judge what you think will be for my betterment.
Yes, I see much of God's more excellent way of blessing the world through Christ, and I have been talking it at the firesides of my neighbors and have been writing it to my old co-laborers and urging them to send for the DAWN, and some have written me they have done so. I only regret that I have not the means to purchase a lot to send to friends. I recognize how hard the change of base will be; for I am well known to all the labor leaders and was active in the last campaign, speaking in school houses and elsewhere, free and without price. I see no way to prevent my falling into the temptation except to give the same zeal and effort to the instruction of others in the signs of the times and telling the story of the Resurrection and the Life, the overthrow of all earthly systems of government and the establishment of the Kingdom of the Prince of Peace.
I have received the envelopes and am pleased with them, also tract No. 21 and the bound volumes of DAWN
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for my wife, who is talking as she visits of the old light in its new form.
I notice in a late TOWER your excellent wife is having parlor meetings. They are the very best kind of meetings. I find fireside talks with my neighbors very useful in pointing out the truth.
Wishing you and the cause success, I remain,
Yours truly, BENJ. W. GOODHUE.
[We sympathize greatly with the noble souls who, in one way and another, are striving and spending time, talent and means in the various reform movements of our day. They have the right spirit and we should not be surprised to find God granting them knowledge proportionate to their zeal.
To turn your zeal into the Lord's work and help to prepare yourself and others for a place in the Bride company which by and by, as God's Kingdom, will institute all the gracious reforms promised, is certainly the only proper course, as well as a great privilege. We are always glad to cooperate with all such soldiers of Christ.--EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER:--I have several things to write about. First: We are getting along nicely and harmoniously in our Circle gatherings. We have two a week, one Friday evening for the study of the Word in the light of the DAWN, and one Sunday P.M. for prayer and praise, taking some phase of the Christian life as part of the exercises. I have never attended any other meetings where there was such a unity of desire and purpose on the part of all to know the truth.
Second. It would seem as though when a little company comes out from the nominal church on account of the truth, they have to meet and reject all the errors going as never before. We have just passed through a trial of an error which most of us had never met before....[This is usually Satan's method. Those who sleep in Zion need not be disturbed, but as soon as they awake and come out into the liberty of the truth he is after them with "signs and lying wonders, and all deceivableness of unrighteousness."
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The only safety is in obeying `1 John 5:18` and `Jude 21`.--EDITOR.]
Third. The Wisconsin M.E. Conference has just closed its session here. I will send you some notes showing the drift of that Church. Dr. Payne, of New York, the General Secretary of the Board of Education of the M.E. Church, among other things said, "I am not an Adventist, and do not believe in a second advent. We have had one advent, and that is enough." This was loudly applauded. He held up Dr. Parkhurst's doings as the only kind of work necessary in connection with education, education being the prime factor. I have condensed Bishop Foster's sermon, using his words principally. Text: "For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." He said:
"God is moving things along an ideal line and doing the best he can under the circumstances, has not reached the end and never can. He is trying to produce a race of beings which if they could be finished would be wonderful. In the first place he has created the great Universe, which includes our earth, and all of this is but a temporary affair, although it has taken millions and millions of years to do it, and it will be millions and millions of years before he can finish what is possible of his idea, for it is going to pass away as a scroll. The reason: After these millions of years of creation the earth had come into a condition in which he could use it for his idea; so he created man, and put him in a physical body on the earth for a time for a special purpose; i.e., that he might suffer a while in order to fit him for the next step in the process after he has left the body; that is, to go on from glory to glory forever in a constant upward progression." As the Bible says that at the resurrection we are to be like the Savior, what must we be at the end of millions of years!!
He said that no man has seen God at any time, neither can see him, neither can the angels; for God hath no body nor parts, and therefore cannot be seen; but the angels, living where he manifests his glory, can see that; and that we cannot see man: as he is a spirit we can see only the house he lives in while on the earth, and which he leaves when he dies; for man was not made to live on the earth. Consequently when he is through with the earth as a starting place for the race he is trying to produce, he will roll it up as a scroll. In closing he said we must have literary education, in order to form character; for our destinies are in our own hands and the place we shall occupy after death, whether in hell or heaven, depends on what characters we form here. We are all babes while on the earth, although some of us (Bishop Foster and the like) are a little precocious.
I cannot see what use such men have for the Bible. He read `1 Cor. 15` for his morning lesson, though he has no use for the resurrection. He takes an indefinite number of millions of years for the creation, the Bible six definite periods of time; he says God is not a person, consequently no one can ever see him, the Bible says the Bride will; he says man is not a human but a spirit being, the Bible says the Word [our Lord] was made flesh and dwelt among us; he says we never will reach perfection, the Word says we are to be complete in Him; he says that he is working out an idea, while the Bible says God is working according to a definite and well arranged plan.
Yours in the faith, A. A. GRAVES.
DEAR BROTHER:--After so long a time, out of the abundance of my weakness and inability, I write of my success in the Master's vineyard. During ten month's work I have placed nearly fifteen hundred DAWNS to the Master's glory. I feel that I have done the best I knew.
On beginning work in every town, I have prayed the Lord that I might be used of him to carry the glad tidings to those of his servants who are hungry for the truth. I have asked him that I might be able to find his true servants, and while talking that I might speak my words aright and in season, that I might show the spirit of the truth, giving none offence by my words. I am determined to lay aside every weight and besetting sin, and to labor with patience for the Master, until he in his own good time may remove all difficulties. In the meanwhile I trust that the fruit of my labor may continue in his favor, that it may be watered and nourished until the crown be won. The Lord's work is my all-absorbing theme, and I humbly ask a continuance of the favor until I may have laid down my life in his service.
I can now more fully realize the blessing with which the Lord blesses those who enter his service. He has blessed me with a much plainer understanding of his Word and plan, and has shown me how to act my part, and given me a fuller appreciation of the joyful reward at the end.
With gratitude and love, I remain, yours truly in the service of the Lord, E. L. BOOTH [Colporteur].
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL:--What a privilege it is to work for our God! As we study his character and the character of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we cannot but worship and adore them, and seek daily to conform our characters more to theirs. We also want to express to you with the enclosed for the Tract Fund our love for the work and also for yourselves as humble servants in it. May the Lord daily guide and keep you in that attitude of meekness (toward Him) which shall be to the best interests of yourselves and the Church which you serve.
The Lord has been very good to us ever since we consecrated, by his wonderful providences leading us in a way we did not know. Until this year we have come out a little behind in our finances; but now, though times are harder than ever, he seems to be willing, without our seeking, to trust us with a little more of "this world's goods;" so after paying our debts we are gladly putting the surplus into the work.
Enclosed please find a letter from Miss Steel who is in the Sandwich Islands. It shows that she is reaping: even over there the sickle is being thrust in. We sent her the books requested and hope they are now doing their work.
Yours in the love of Christ, C. C. & C. P. BELL.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--It is with praise and gratitude to our dear Lord that I am enabled to give you an account of the Lord's dealing with us here.
Some fifteen months ago, while praying and waiting that the Lord would open a door for me to give out the joyful news contained in the Plan of the Ages, He opened a door through a Church of England service on the subject of Immortality. Two dear brethren were very much upset over it. But when I asked them to meet at my house, and we would see what said the Word of God, they came and we had a most interesting meeting. More came the next week, and the Lord opened their minds to the truth as it is in Jesus. My heart is full of joy that he is using me to give out the truth.
We are scattering "hail" where we think it will be received by thoughtful people. We always remember you and the brethren at the throne of grace.
Your brother in service for the King, H. ASHTON.