VOL. XXXVII. APRIL 15 No. 8
A.D. 1916--A.M. 6044
Principles of Love and Justice Contrasted 115
Justice Before Generosity . . . 115
Love and Justice Both Control . . 116
How Love May Overflow the Measure . 116
Yoke-fellows With Christ . . . . 117
New Creature Fulfils the Law . . 117
The Perfect, Adjustable Yoke . . 118
"The Little Foxes" . . . . . . 118
St. Peter Delivered From Prison . . . 119
Passover Season Siftings . . . 119
The Missionaries of Antioch . . . . 121
Disciples First Called Christians . 122
Ordination and Laying on of Hands . 123
"Lo, We Turn to the Gentiles!" . . . 123
"Ordained to Eternal Life" . . . 125
Proper and Improper Judgment of Brethren. 125
Church Incapable of Judging Now . . 125
Interesting Letters . . . . . . 126
Spirit of a Sound Mind . . . . 126
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
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SEND REPORTS OF MEMORIAL PROMPTLY
We request prompt reports from all classes and little groups celebrating the Memorial of our Lord's death on April 16th. A postcard report of numbers and interest will do.
THE EUREKA DRAMA SUCCEEDING WELL
Nineteen Classes have sent in reports which show the following results for one week's exhibitions of EUREKA DRAMA:
Thirteen places were served. A total of twenty-nine exhibitions were given to an audience of thirteen hundred and thirty-eight. One hundred and twenty-nine cards requesting free literature were handed in.
These nineteen EUREKA DRAMAS heard from for the week are only a small portion of the whole number thus far sent forth. Fifty-seven have sent in no report whatever for the week. We can only imagine how many other thousands they may have served if actively engaged, or how many other thousands missed being served if they were not actively engaged.
Total EUREKA DRAMA reports to date show 1,788 places served; total exhibitions, 5,967; total attendance, 1,041,998; total cards received, 33,188.
All this is very encouraging and shows what possibilities there are in connection with this EUREKA DRAMA outfit. In a previous notice we suggested that the EUREKA DRAMA be not used in theaters, but in country schoolhouses, etc., leaving the theaters for the regular DRAMA. However, we have no desire to restrict the use of the EUREKA sets. We therefore suggest now that where openings for it may be found, it should be shown. Indeed, we have some excellent reports of its showing in theaters. Quite a number of exhibitions have been given in private theaters on Sunday mornings recently. They were very successful. People seemed to be interested and a good class of people seemed to attend. The Theater Managers were very pleased to have the EUREKA DRAMA, desiring in some manner, no doubt, to cooperate for the public good and also to give tone to their Theaters.
Be it remembered that we have the lecture records in Danish, Swedish, German, Polish, Italian, and Spanish (soon). These foreign records have cost us more than the English, but we propose to supply them hereafter to the friends at uniform prices--an entire set of DRAMA records for $25.00.
Wonderful opportunities, dear Brethren, are at our hands. Many are showing their love and zeal. Let each do according to his judgment of what would be pleasing in the sight of the Lord.
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THE PRINCIPLES OF LOVE AND JUSTICE CONTRASTED
NOTHING is more necessary to the peace and prosperity of the Church of God than that its members should have a clear understanding and appreciation of moral principles, with a full determination to be controlled by them. Even among Christians there are often differences of opinion with reference to principles of action, which greatly interfere with spiritual growth and prosperity. Such difficulties most frequently arise through failure to distinguish between the relative claims of Love and Justice. Therefore we consider it profitable to examine these principles and their operation among the children of God.
Justice is sometimes represented by a pair of evenly poised balances, and sometimes by a square and compass, both of which are fitting emblems of its character. Justice knows no compromise and no deviation from its fixed rule of action. It is mathematically precise. It gives nothing over for "good weight" or "good measure." There is no grace in it, no heart, no sympathy, no favor of any kind. It is a calculating, exact measure of truth and righteousness. When justice is done, there are no thanks due to the one who metes it out. Such a one has merely done a duty, the neglect of which would have been culpable, and the doing of which merits no favor or praise. And yet, firm and relentless as this principle is, it is declared to be the very foundation of God's Throne. It is the principle which underlies all His dealings with
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His creatures. It is His unchangeable business principle; and how firmly He adheres to it is manifest to every one who understands the Plan of Salvation, the basis of which is the satisfaction of Justice against our race. Though the arrangement for the satisfaction of Justice cost the life of His Only-begotten and well-beloved Son, so important was this principle of Divine Justice that God freely gave Him up for us all.
JUSTICE, BEFORE GENEROSITY
The principle of Love, unlike that of Justice, overflows with tenderness, and longs to bless. It is full of grace, and delights in the bestowment of favor. It is manifest, however, that no action can be regarded as a favor or a manifestation of love which has not underneath it the substantial foundation of justice. Thus, for instance, if one comes to you with a gift, and at the same time disregards a just debt to you, the gift falls far short of appreciation as an expression of love; and you say, "We should be just before we attempt to be generous."
And this is right; if Justice is the foundation principle in all of God's dealings, it should be the same in all of our dealings; and none the less so among brethren in Christ than among those in the world. As brethren in Christ, we have no right to presume upon the favor of one another. All to which we have a right is simple justice, though we may waive those things that are really our rights. But in our own dealings, we should strive always to render justice--justice in the payment of our honest debts to each other, justice in our judgment one of an other (which must make due allowance for frailties, etc., because we recognize in ourselves some measure of similar imperfection), and justice in fair and friendly treatment one of another.
As we have just said, there is no obligation to demand justice for ourselves, and we may, if we choose, even suffer injustice uncomplainingly. We must, however, if we are Christ's, render justice so far as we are enabled to recognize it. In other words, we are not responsible for the actions of others in this respect, but are responsible for our own. Therefore we are to endeavor earnestly that all our actions, our words and our thoughts may be squared by the exact rule of justice, before we offer even one single act as an expression of love.
JUSTICE, EQUITY, A CHRISTIAN QUALITY
It would appear that many Christian people spend years of their experience without making any great progress. One difficulty leading up to this condition is a failure to recognize the basic principles underlying the Divine Laws, which apply to us from the moment we are adopted into the Lord's family. The first of these basic principles is justice. We need to learn more and more clearly what are our own rights and the rights of our fellow creatures in the Church and out of the Church. We need to learn how to measure the affairs of ourselves and of others with the plummet of justice, and to recognize that we must not under any circumstances or conditions infract the rights, interests or liberties of others--that to do so would be wrong, sinful, contrary to the Divine will, and a serious hindrance to our growth in grace. Secondly, we must learn to esteem love next to justice in importance in the Divine Code. By love we mean, not amativeness nor soft sentimentality, but that principle of kindness, sympathy, consideration and benevolence which we see manifested in our Heavenly Father and in our Lord Jesus.
In proportion as we grow up in the Lord, strong in Him, it must be along the lines of these elements of His character. More and more we must appreciate and sympathize with others in their trials and difficulties and
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afflictions; more and more we must become gentle, patient, kind toward all, but especially toward the Household of Faith. All the graces of the Spirit are elements of love. God is love; and whoever receives of His Spirit receives the spirit of love.
These two basic principles must cover all of our conduct in life. Justice tells us that we must cease to do evil--that we must not speak a word nor do an act that would work injustice to another, nor even by look imply such injustice; that we must be as careful of his or her interests and welfare as of our own. Justice must govern all of our dealings with others. Love may permit us to give them more than justice could require, but justice demands that we must never give them less than due. No matter if they do not require justice at our hands, no matter if they are willing to take less than justice, no matter if they would say nothing if we should take advantage of them, no matter if they would not appreciate our degree of justice, still our course is the same. We have received of the Lord's Spirit, and must act from this standpoint and not from the standpoint of others who have not His Spirit or who are more or less blinded and disabled from dealing justly.
LOVE AND JUSTICE BOTH CONTROL
If justice must mark our conduct toward others, so love must be used by us in measuring the conduct of others toward us. We may not apply to others the strict rules of justice which we acknowledge as our responsibility to them. Love, generosity, demands that we accept from others less than justice, because we realize that they are fallen, imperfect, not only in their flesh, but also in their judgments. Furthermore, we see that the great mass of the world has not received the Spirit of the Lord at all, and therefore cannot appreciate these basic principles of justice and love as we appreciate them. We must in love look sympathetically upon their condition, as we would upon the condition of a sick neighbor, friend, parent or child. We must make allowance for their disordered condition, and think as charitably as possible of their words, conduct, etc.
This does not mean that we are to be blind or oblivious to true conditions, and permit ourselves to be deprived of all that we possess or earn; but it does mean that we should take a kind, sympathetic view of the unrighteousness and injustice of those with whom we have dealings. We should remember that they are fallen, and that they have not received the grace of God as we have received it; and that they are not, therefore, to be measured by the line of strict justice, but rather that their imperfections are to be allowed for reasonably by the elastic cord of love. It is our own conduct that we are to measure by the law of justice, the Golden Rule.
HOW LOVE MAY OVERFLOW THE MEASURE
How clearly the Master sets forth these conditions, urging upon us the Golden Rule as the measure for our conduct toward others, and that in measuring their conduct toward us we shall be as generous as we shall wish our Lord to be in His judgment of ourselves, in harmony with His statement, "With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged"! A right appreciation of these basic principles, justice and love, by the Lord's people, and worked out in the daily affairs of life, would lift them above the world. It would save many an altercation, many a law suit, many a quarrel, and would make of the Lord's people shining examples of kindness, generosity, love, and at the same time examples of justice, right living, sterling honesty, etc.
Love is not, like justice, an exact principle to be measured and weighed. It is three-fold in its character: it is pitiful; it is sympathetic, in the sense of kinship of soul--affectionate; it is reverential. These different forms of love are exercised according to the object upon which love is centered. Pity-love is the lowest form of love; it takes cognizance of even the vile and degraded, and is active in measures of relief. Sympathetic love rises higher, and proffers fellowship, comradeship. But the reverential love rises above all these, and delights in the contemplation of the good, the pure and the beautiful. In this latter form we may indeed love God supremely, as the personification of all that is truly worthy of admiration and reverence; and love our fellow men in proportion as they bear His likeness. The Divine Law demands love, both to God and to man.
Although we owe to every man, as a duty, love in one of these senses, we may not demand it one of another; but love overflows justice. Love shakes the measure, presses it down, heaps it up. The lack of love is not to be complained of by the Christian, however, but when bestowed it is to be appreciated gratefully and reciprocated generously. Every one who craves love should crave it in its highest sense--in the sense of admiration and reverence. But this form of love is the most costly; and the only way to secure it is to manifest that nobility of character which calls it forth from others who are truly noble, truly like our Lord Jesus.
The love begotten of sympathy and fellowship is also very precious. But any sentiment that comes merely in response to a demand, is deprived of love's choicest aroma. Therefore never demand love, but rather by manifestation of it toward others court its reciprocation. The love of pity is not called out by the nobility of the subject, but rather by the nobility of the bestower, whose heart is so full of love that it overflows in generous impulses toward even the unworthy. All of the objects of pity, however, are not unworthy of love in the higher senses; and some such often draw upon our love in every sense.
A SELFISH, ONE-SIDED VIEW
To demand Love's overflow of blessing--which is beyond the claim of justice--is only an exhibition of covetousness. We may act on this principle of love ourselves, but we may not claim it from others. If we do, we manifest a lack of love and the possession of a considerable measure of selfishness. Some seem to see clearly where brotherly love should be extended to themselves, but are
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slow to see their own obligations in this respect.
For instance, two brethren were once rooming together, and through a failure to consider the relative claims of love and justice, one presumed upon the brotherly love of the other to the extent of expecting him to pay the entire rent of the room. When the other urged the claim of justice, the first urged the claim of brotherly-love, and the former reluctantly yielded, not knowing how to refute the claim, yet feeling that somehow some Christians had less principle than many worldly people. How strange that any of God's children should take so narrow, so one-sided, so selfish a view! Cannot all see that love and justice should work both ways; that it is the duty of each not to oversee others in these respects, but to look well to his own course, to see that he manifests brotherly love; and that if he would teach others, it should be rather by example than by precept?
LET LOVE REIGN SUPREME
Let us beware of a disposition toward covetousness. Let us each remember that he is steward over the Lord's goods entrusted to him, and not over those entrusted to his brother; that each is accountable to the Lord, and not to others, for the right use of that which the Master
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has placed in his hands. There is nothing much more unbecoming and unlovely in the children of God than a disposition to petty criticism of the individual affairs of one another. It is a business too small for the saints, and manifests a sad lack of that brotherly love which should be especially manifest in broad and generous consideration, which would rather cover a multitude of sins than to magnify one.
The Christian is to have the loving, generous disposition of heart--a copy of the Heavenly Father's disposition. In trivial affairs he is to have so much sympathy and love that he will take no notice, just as God for Christ's sake deals with us and does not impute sin to us, except as it represents knowledge and wilfulness. With such a rule operating amongst Christians, a determination not to recognize as an offense anything that is not purposely done, or intended as an offense, would be a great blessing to all, and the proper, God-like course. The transgressions to which our Lord refers in `Matthew 18:15-17`, are not the trivial affairs of no consequence, are not evil surmisings and imaginings, are not rumors, are not fancied insults, but positive wrongs done us, and on account of which it is our duty, kindly and lovingly and wisely, to give some proper rebuke--some intimation that we recognize the wrong and that it has grieved us and hurt us and needs correction.
The disposition to forgive should be with us always, and should be manifested by us at all times. Our loving generosity, our kindness and our desire to think no evil or as little evil as possible, should be manifested by all the words and acts of life. This is God-like. God had a kind, benevolent, generous sentiment toward us even while we were yet sinners. Nor did He wait for the sinners to ask forgiveness, but promptly manifested His desire for harmony and His readiness to forgive. The, whole Gospel Message is to this effect: "Be ye reconciled to God." Our hearts should be so full of this disposition toward forgiveness that our faces would not have a hard look, nor our words of reproof a bitter sting. We should manifest the loving forgiveness that we should have in our hearts at all times.
May love and justice find their proper, relative places in the hearts of all of God's people, that so the enemy may have no occasion to glory! The Psalmist said, "O how love I Thy Law [the Law of Love whose foundation is justice]! It is my meditation all the day." (`Psalm 119:97`.) Surely, if God's Law were the constant meditation of all, there would be fewer and less glaring mistakes than we often see! Let us watch and be sober, that the Adversary and our fallen flesh may not gain an advantage over us as New Creatures. Let SELF be more and more eliminated and LOVE reign supreme.
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YOKE-FELLOWS WITH CHRIST
"Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me;...for My yoke is easy and My burden is light."--`Matthew 11:29,30`.
OUR Lord was here addressing the Jews. He did not preach to the Gentiles, because the time for favor to the Gentiles had not yet come. He was not sent, He declared, "save to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." The Israelites were under the yoke of the nation of Rome, but we do not think that this was the yoke to which our Lord referred. They were under a religious yoke, the yoke of the Law.
A yoke signifies servitude. One who bears a yoke is a servant. For instance, oxen have a yoke put upon them, not that they may bear a yoke, but that they may be enabled by the yoke to bear the burdens which are to be laid upon them. Hence the yoke becomes the symbol of service, of burden-bearing. So with the Israelites; all the obligations of the Law Covenant were to be borne by them. They had agreed to become the servants of God under the conditions of this Law Covenant. But they found themselves so unbalanced and weak, as the result of sin, that they could not bear the burdens of the Law. No Jew could draw that Law Covenant load. "There is none righteous; no, not one"--none could meet the obligations of God's perfect Law.
Our Lord did not come to do away with the Law. On the contrary, He magnified the Law, and made it honorable. He showed that its requirements were neither unreasonable nor unjust, although by reason of their imperfection no man had been able to keep it. By keeping the Law perfectly Himself, our Lord proved that it is not beyond the possibility of the obedience of a perfect human being, but it is the full measure of a perfect man's ability. The Law did not prove too weighty a load for Him to bear; He was able fully to meet its every requirement, and did so.
But now He was inviting His disciples to come under a different yoke--a yoke of servitude with Him. He had a new Message--the Gospel, the Message of "good tidings." It spoke of release from the obligations of that Law Covenant which they were unable to bear, but which was designed to be a "schoolmaster, to lead them to Christ." He told them how they might have part in this wonderful new arrangement which was just opening up, of which He Himself was to be the Head. The arrangement was altogether of the Father, but the Son was to be His special Representative. His disciples might have a part by becoming dead to the Law Covenant, through believing in Jesus their Messiah and becoming united to Him. Thus they would be acceptable to God by Him, and would be begotten of the Holy Spirit and become sons of God.
THE NEW CREATURE FULFILS THE LAW
In this way they would become associates of the Messiah in the keeping of the Law of righteousness; for it would be quite possible for them to keep God's Law under this new kind of yoke and these new conditions. The new yoke would not be upon the old creature; the old creature had already demonstrated that it could not keep the Law's requirements. But the Divine arrangement was that in order to become New Creatures they must become dead, not to the Law Covenant alone, but to all earthly interests, hopes and prospects. The Apostle, speaking of such, says the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.--`Romans 8:4`.
We are not only fulfilling the requirements of the Law, but we do more. We lay down our lives for the brethren. This is beyond what the Law could require. But it is the New Creature that does this. The old creature is dead, from God's standpoint. The New Creature must operate through the old body, the imperfections of which are all covered by the robe of Christ's righteousness. Hence the New Creature is, from the Divine viewpoint, fulfilling the righteousness of the Law, for it abides faithful to the Lord and has continually the cleansing of the imputed merit of the blood of Christ for the imperfections of its body.
THE HEAVY YOKE OF THE LAW UPON ISRAEL
It was for a purpose that the Master brought this figure of a yoke to the attention of the Jews. They knew
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something about the burdens of the Law under which they as a people had long groaned. They had learned that they were unable to gain the everlasting life which it promised on condition of perfect obedience to its requirements. For sixteen hundred years they had been trying to keep the Law, and had failed. They remembered that God had promised them the Messiah, and they knew that somehow or other He would bring in a new arrangement; but they did not know how or when. Through their Prophets God had foretold that He would take away the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh. So the faithful ones had been watching and waiting with longing for this Messiah and all that had been promised through Him. And devout Jews are still waiting for the fulfilment of those promises.
But when Jesus came He began a work not clearly understood before. He did not then bring in the New Covenant which had been promised through the Prophets. (`Jeremiah 31:31-34`; `32:38-41`; `Ezekiel 11:19`; `36:25-30`.)
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He did not then take away their stony hearts and give them hearts of flesh. This was to be a still future work, the work of the Kingdom, when it should be set up in power and great glory over all the earth.
THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW CREATION
But now, previous to all this, the Messiah had come for a different purpose; to do a preparatory work. He was instituting a new thing; He was starting a New Creation, and was inviting as many of the Jews as were in the proper attitude of heart to join with Him--not waiting for the New Covenant of the future, but to have a part with Him in this matter of becoming sons of God. "Yoke up with Me," Jesus said. And His Message was appreciated by those who had been sincerely trying to keep the Law. "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." (`Matthew 11:28`.) Here was a new proposition. It must have seemed very strange to them, even if they had fully understood the figure of speech which He used.
Although we who are Gentiles by nature were never under the yoke of the Jewish Law, yet, in another way, we have had a great burden which we were unable to bear--the burden of sin and death. Adam first came under the burden of sin which has brought so great a curse upon the world. We have all borne and felt the weight of sin and all its evil accompaniments. So the Master's words of hope and comfort have brought joy and refreshing to our hearts also, and we have found this offered rest--rest in Him, our true Yoke-Fellow.
All who are heavy-laden, who appreciate the nature and the bitterness of sin, who know and fear it and are striving against it--all these are invited to come to the Master. They are invited to take His yoke upon them and to learn of Him. They are assured that His yoke is easy. It is easy in the sense that it is possible to bear, and that it is not galling.
THE PERFECT, ADJUSTABLE YOKE
We have seen oxen yoked. We have seen the great wooden yokes upon their necks bear down with heavy pressure upon the skin and muscles. A yoke that does not fit an animal will chafe him and cause restlessness; whereas a yoke that is properly fitted will be comfortable and will make the load much more easily drawn. Our Lord declares that He has a yoke that is easy, comfortable and enjoyable. His yoke is, so to speak, an elastic yoke. It meets the varied conditions of the different individuals who wear it. It is large for the large, small for the small, medium for the medium. It is a yoke by which the greatest, the highest and the most talented may yoke up with the Lord--or the most insignificant, may do the same. The Lord is able to bear for us all that we lack ability to bear. There is no yoke which will enable one to bear burdens as this yoke does. True, it requires perfection to bear this yoke and we are weak and imperfect beings; but if we have only one-tenth of perfection, and nine-tenths of imperfection, our Lord will bear for us the lacking nine-tenths. If we have one-half imperfection, He will bear that. Thus the weakest are provided for, and the strongest get what they need. Here is the great opportunity of the Gospel Age.
Our Lord Jesus gave to the Apostle Paul the assurance, "My strength is made perfect in weakness." (`2 Corinthians 12:9`.) All things shall work together for good to us because we love Him, because we have taken His yoke, have become yoke-fellows with Him. We rejoice in the privilege of suffering with Him. The flesh may suffer, but the spirit rejoices. We shall not be tried beyond our strength. His burden is light. No one is required under this arrangement to do more than he is able to perform. If we have the right spirit we shall be glad to do all that we can accomplish. One who would not be willing to do all in his power would not be accounted by the Lord as faithful. The Master's burden is light if it be accepted in sincerity and in truth, and only those who so receive it can become yoke-fellows with Him.
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"THE LITTLE FOXES"
"Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes."--`Canticles 2:15`.
IN THE above text the word "take" is used in the sense of catch--help us to catch the foxes, especially the little foxes. The fox is known as a very cunning, but docile little animal, not capable of ferocity and viciousness, but nevertheless the cause of much harm. Its very appearance of harmlessness makes it the more dangerous. The young fox, like all the young of the dog family, is very destructive in its character; and the fox is particularly cunning and crafty when bent on mischief, hence less likely to arouse suspicion of its evil intentions. It has a peculiar simplicity of manner; it attracts by its apparent innocence, and is all the more apt to deceive.
In our text King Solomon seems to be picturing the depravities of our fallen nature which are not so extreme, not so gross, as some, but which are none the less very harmful; indeed they are especially deceitful and likely to elude our attention, and for this reason need more careful and constant watching. The words seem to be the language of the Bridegroom to His espoused. He emphasizes the expression, "the little foxes," and intimates that they would be very destructive.
If we apply the term to sins, we find that there are little sins which are really more dangerous than grosser sins, because we are less likely to be on our guard against these than against the greater sins. Every one would be instinctively on guard against lions, bears, serpents, etc.; but little foxes are so attractive-looking and seem so artless in disposition that unless one has had bitter experience with them he would have little or no fear. But these little animals are much given to scratching and generally destroying everything with which they come in contact.
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GUARD CAREFULLY THE "TENDER GRAPES"
In this illustration of the wise man the grape-vine is spoken of, as though these foxes have a special predilection for grapes--the grapes representing the fruits of the Holy Spirit. As these little foxes delight to tear the vine with their sharp claws and to gnaw the roots with their teeth, so small sins tear the branches and gnaw at the roots of the spiritual vine, thus endangering its very life. They destroy or devour the precious grapes, which are very tender. Grapes during the formative period and while very small are exceedingly tender and the stems very brittle and easily snapped off the vine and destroyed. So the Spirit's fruitage in the hearts and lives of immature Christians may be easily ruined, either by their own lack of care and watchfulness or by the example of the brethren. How careful should those be who have been longer in the Heavenly way to guard their words and conduct in the presence of the younger, less mature ones, the lambs of the flock! Unloving criticism of the brethren before beginners, or others, may do untold harm and is a manifestation of a lack of love and Christian maturity.
Every child of God should be especially on guard against the little things--the things that seem like jokes, which sometimes do more harm in the Church than things which appear great; the little insinuations, that often leave a sting; the jesting about sacred matters, turning Scriptural passages into jests; the little acts of selfishness, etc. These things and many others which by careful thought each one may note really do much damage, injuring the branches and destroying the precious fruits of the Lord's Vine. Then let us, dear brethren, strive to be more and more watchful to catch these "little foxes." Let us each, individually, watch and pray that we do not by thought or word or act of ours hinder or lessen our own fruit-bearing or that of another.
It is difficult for us to realize how potent is our influence for either good or evil in matters which, unless carefully scrutinized, seem trifling. Ah, these little foxes! Careless words, spoken with scarcely a thought or in a moment of impatience, little grumblings, a sarcastic word or laugh or look or shrug--oh, how these things count in our daily lives either for or against our own spiritual development, and often the development of others! How earnestly we should each seek to upbuild our own character and the characters of the brethren! Our Lord is marking all these things. Remember, "He that is faithful in that which is least, will be faithful also in much."
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ST. PETER DELIVERED FROM PRISON
--APRIL 30.--`ACTS 12:1-11`.--
PASSOVER TRIALS AND TESTINGS--DEATH OF ST. JAMES-- ST. PETER IMPRISONED--HIS MIRACULOUS DELIVERANCE-- AN ALL-NIGHT PRAYER-MEETING--THE REWARD OF FAITH--LESSONS FOR OUR DAY--DIVINE GUARDIANSHIP OF ALL WHO ARE TRULY THE LORD'S--THE POWER OF SATAN--THE POWER OF GOD AND THE POWER OF PRAYER.
"The angel of Jehovah encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them."--`Psalm 34:7`.
HEROD was the family name of several kings who ruled Israel, but who were descendants of Esau--Edomites. At the time of our Study for today Herod Agrippa I. had been appointed king of Judea. He was the grandson of Herod the Great, murderer of the babes of Bethlehem, and the nephew of Herod Antipas, who beheaded John the Baptist and subsequently, with his soldiers, set Jesus at naught and mocked Him, just prior to His crucifixion.
Herod Agrippa appears to have been desirous of the good will of the people, even at the cost of principle. He took pains to observe the minutiae of Jewish ceremonials. He hung up in the Temple the gold chain which the Emperor Caligula had given him. The story is related that at the Feast of Tabernacles he caused the entire Book of Deuteronomy to be read in the hearing of the people; and that when the reader came to the words, "Thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, who is not thy brother" (`Deut. 17:15`), the king "burst into theatrical tears." Thereupon the populace obsequiously cried, "Do not weep, Agrippa; thou art our brother!"
PASSOVER SEASON SIFTINGS
On the lookout to curry favor with the Jews, especially the influential ones, Agrippa caused the Apostle James to be beheaded. St. James was one of the three who had usually accompanied our Lord in the most confidential capacity. Although the record of this noble Apostle's ministry is brief in the extreme, it contains nothing that gives the slightest suggestion of anything but zeal and faithfulness to our Lord and to His Cause. This James, who died early in the Christian Era, should not be confounded with the author of the Epistle of James--"James the Less," supposed to have been second cousin to our Lord, and for this reason styled "the Lord's brother," according to Jewish custom.
Finding that the death of St. James brought great pleasure to the Jews, Agrippa had the Apostle Peter arrested. The expression, "When he had apprehended him," implies that some delay occurred between the order for the Apostle's arrest and the time of his imprisonment --that his arrest was after searching. Probably all of the Apostles were more or less secreted about that time; but, trusting to the sacredness of the Passover season, St. Peter had ventured forth and was arrested and imprisoned, Agrippa intending his death directly at the close of the Passover week. Meantime, however, the Lord delivered His faithful Apostle, as this Study shows.
We can well imagine the sadness of the Church at this Passover season, which must have reminded them considerably of the time of our Lord's death and of the alarm then amongst His followers. For some years past it has seemed to us as though each Passover season, each Memorial celebration, was a time of special trial and testing amongst the followers of our Lord. Whether this is a fact or not, it surely will not injure the Lord's people to be especially on guard against the wiles of the Adversary at these times. Let us watch and pray always, lest we fall into temptation.
The thought of special trial, special temptation from the Adversary at this season of the year, seems to have been the foundation for the Lenten Season, a period of special restraint, fasting and prayer, which has come down to us through the oldest channels of Church history. The fact that with many today the Lenten season is a mere formality does not mean that it is so or that it was originally so. Strongly would we recommend the fasting and prayer at all times enjoined in the Scriptures; and we suggest that, if possible, alertness be especially
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exercised by all the consecrated during the forty days preceding the Memorial.
As we have already explained, our self-denials are not merely along the lines of food and drink, but are to extend to all of our appetites. Undoubtedly a very simple and limited diet during the Spring of the year would be beneficial for the majority of mankind, even though there were no spiritual blessings connected therewith. Winter cold brings hearty appetites; and the result is that toward Spring the system is apt to be surfeited, or over-charged. From this condition it need to be relieved by a measure of abstention, which is as favorable to spirituality as surfeiting is unfavorable.
PRAYING FOR ST. PETER
St. Peter is supposed to have been imprisoned in the famous Castle of Antonia, where our Lord was arraigned before Pilate, and where St. Paul was subsequently taken when mobbed in Jerusalem. The Apostle had a guard of four quaternions--four soldiers each--who relieved each other every three hours. Two of the four were chained to St. Peter's arms, one to each arm; a third stood outside the door; and a fourth was stationed in the passage leading to the outer iron gate.
The power of Divine grace to help in every time of need and to give peace amidst alarms is well illustrated in this case by the fact that under all these circumstances St. Peter was fast asleep when the angel of the Lord came to deliver him. The proprieties of the case are also illustrated by the fact that the Church were not asleep, but praying for the Apostle. It was not for him to pray for his own deliverance from the power of Agrippa; he had already consecrated his life unto death, and properly should feel quite ready to lay down his life at this time, if such proved to be the Divine will respecting him. For him to have asked for the prolongation of life would have been to ask amiss, and would have manifested a wilfulness incompatible with a full consecration to the Lord's will. But with the Church it was different. While expressing their confidence in the Divine supervision of the affairs of the Church, they could with all propriety tell the Lord of their love for St. Peter and express the hope that it might be the Lord's will that the Apostle should continue with them for their joy and comfort and for their upbuilding in the "most holy faith."
Then, too, the loss of the Apostle James, who apparently was the leader amongst the Apostles, would make St. Peter and every other Apostle doubly precious in the estimation of the Household of Faith. God purposed that St. Peter should live to be an old man; for this was our Lord's prophecy concerning him. (`John 21:18,19`.) But the emergency proved a blessing to the Church, by way of stirring up their pure minds to an appreciation of God's Cause in general and of St. Peter in particular.
DELIVERED BY AN ANGEL
Between three and six o'clock in the morning St. Peter, who had been sleeping peacefully, was awakened by an angel, whose radiant features enabled the Apostle quickly to discern that his deliverer was a holy being. The Apostle was bidden to arise. Quickly and simultaneously the chains were loosed which bound him to the soldier by either hand. He was then instructed to put on his sandals and his outer garment, or cloak, and to follow his leader. He did so, realizing the facts as those in a dream. Thus he was led past the first and second wards, or doors, until they came to the great gate leading into the city. This swung open of its own accord; and then the angel left him.
It is worthy of notice that the miracles performed were only such as were beyond St. Peter's natural power. Whatever he could do he was required to do; namely, to put on his sandals and his cloak and to follow the angel. He might have been transported; sandals might have been fastened to his feet; a new cloak might have been provided. But the lesson is more profitable as it was given. Similarly in the Lord's dealings with us today, we should remember that it is ours to do everything in our power; and that it is the Lord's to overrule all things for our good and to supply our deficiencies from His abundance.
When the Apostle came to himself, when he realized the facts in the case--that he was free--his faith was strengthened. Willing to die, he found that the Lord was willing that he should live, labor and endure; and he was equally pleased, rejoicing, we may be sure, for the privilege of further service, even though it would mean further sacrifices and sufferings for the sake of the Lord and of His people.
Doubtless the angel had started St. Peter in the direction of Mary's home, where prayer was being made on his behalf. The description of the house implies that it was one of the better class. St. Peter's knock was answered by little Rose (Rhoda), who child-like, was so delighted, when she recognized the Apostle's voice, that she neglected to open the door before running back to tell the praying household that he was at the gate. Expecting no deliverance at such an hour, some thought that the little maid was mistaken, and insisted that it must be his angel--in harmony with the prevalent thought that an angel had supervision of each individual of God's people, and that such might personate the one under his protection.
The brethren were surprised at the Lord's answer to their petition; for it came very unexpectedly as respects time. When they realized that it was actually St. Peter who stood before them, there was an outburst of excitement and of questions which the Apostle was obliged to silence by the shaking of his hands. Then he narrated the wonderful story of his deliverance, and bade them tell it to the other James, the cousin of Jesus, and to the other disciples. Then he went his way, whether to another city or to another house we do not know. In any event, he exercised wisdom in not needlessly provoking Herod.
With the coming of daylight there was consternation in the prison. Later on in this same chapter we learn of another visit of the angel of the Lord. This time he came to smite the king with disease, from which he subsequently died. The entire chapter shows us the power of Satan, the power of God and the power of prayer.
THE GOLDEN TEXT
Our Golden Text is a symbolical statement illustrative of the Divine guardianship of all those who are truly the Lord's. The thought is that the affairs of His people are under His continual supervision. Whether we think of the angel of the Lord as one of the Heavenly host especially appointed on our behalf, or whether we think of him from the standpoint of the various powers of nature, the levers of which are all in the Divine care, it matters not. We have the assurance that the Father Himself loves us, and that all the Heavenly powers are pledged to those whom He has accepted in Christ Jesus; and these unitedly guarantee blessings to all who abide in God's love.
To thus abide means to abide in the Redeemer. It means to abide loyal to our consecration, to do the Father's will to the best of our ability. That will is declared to be that we shall love the Lord supremely, shall love our neighbor as ourselves, and shall love all the members of the Household of Faith even as Christ loved us.
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THE MISSIONARIES OF ANTIOCH
--MAY 7.--`ACTS 11:19-26`; `13:1-3`.--
PERSECUTION SPREADS THE GOSPEL--THE FIRST CHURCH AMONGST THE GENTILES--BARNABAS SENT FROM JERUSALEM TO ASSIST THE YOUNG CHURCH--SAUL OF TARSUS BROUGHT TO ANTIOCH--THE TWO BRETHREN SENT FORTH AS MISSIONARIES--ORDINATION AND LAYING ON OF HANDS.
"Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations."--`Matthew 28:19`. R.V.
ANTIOCH, at the time of our Study, was the third city in the world both in commercial importance and in population, only Rome and Alexandria taking precedence. It is noted as being the first city outside of Palestine in which a Christian Church assembly was formed. Indeed, we might say that as Jerusalem was the center of influence in Palestine, so Antioch became a center of influence as respected the Gospel amongst the Gentiles.
It seems that the little spark of Truth which started the work of the Lord at Antioch resulted from the persecution which arose at the time of St. Stephen's death. Some of those forced out of Jerusalem by the persecution settled at Antioch; and of course they could not walk in the light of the Gospel without letting the light shine out for others. At first this was done only toward those who were of the Jewish faith; and in a large commercial center such as Antioch there were sure to be large numbers of Jews. We know not how many of them were reached with the Gospel; but it was surely confined to them until the end of Israel's seventy symbolical weeks of Divine favor--until the autumn of 36 A.D.
At the same time that the Lord was sending Deacon Philip to the Samaritans and to the Ethiopian eunuch, and the opening the door to the Gentiles through the Apostle Peter, He was ready to open the door to the Gentiles everywhere. Under the leadings of Divine providence some of the Christian Hebrews got the proper thought at the proper time--that a Gentile who would receive the Lord Jesus could be classed as a disciple equally with the Jews who had done so. The work thus started amongst the Gentiles at Antioch spread considerably, the Gentiles seeming to take more notice of the Gospel than had the Jews to whom it was first preached.
BARNABAS SENT TO ANTIOCH
The news that the Gospel had gone to the Gentiles at Antioch, and that large numbers were turning to the Lord, reached the Church at Jerusalem--the head-center of the Christian work, so to speak. The Apostles and all the brethren had been prepared by the Lord's manifest dealing in the case of Cornelius, the Roman centurion; and this undoubtedly would detract from their surprise and would largely correct any prejudice on the subject of the Gentiles as fellow-heirs of the Abrahamic Promise, which had previously pertained to the Jews alone. Nevertheless, we note that the record does not say that this news caused rejoicing in the Church at Jerusalem. We may infer, therefore, that they heard with considerable trepidation that large numbers of Gentiles were attaching themselves to the faith, and may have reasoned that this would have an injurious effect upon the Cause they loved to serve.
It would appear, then, that the original motive in sending Barnabas to Antioch was that he might see and judge of the true condition of things, and give a report as to whether the new converts were worthy to be recognized as fellow-heirs with the saints. When Barnabas had arrived in Antioch, he took note of "the grace of God" manifested amongst the believers there. This must have been manifested not only in their faith in Jesus as their Redeemer and Master, but also in their conduct as disciples of our Lord. Barnabas quickly discerned the cleansing and sanctifying power of the Truth amongst these believers, and thus realized that the Cause, instead of being hindered by such accessions, would be honored thereby. We read that he was glad; and we may assume, although it is not stated, that he promptly made report to the brethren at Jerusalem, and that they were glad also.
The Apostles evidently made an excellent choice when they sent Barnabas to Antioch. The fact that he was a Levite by birth would make him very careful of every Jewish interest connected with the faith; and undoubtedly he was well learned in the Law. He was a native of Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, not far from Antioch. Born thus at a distance from Jerusalem and amongst Gentiles, he was probably a broad-minded man, as well as familiar with the dialect spoken by the people of Antioch. Another good reason for sending him was the fact that he was a beautiful character and very helpful as a brother and a teacher in the Church. We remember that he sold a part of his property in the interest of the poor in Jerusalem; and that he received the name Barnabas--"a son of consolation," a helper-- as a title of love and respect in the Church.
HIS WORK WITH THE YOUNG CHURCH
Barnabas at once overflowed toward the Antioch brethren, and in the same comforting and helpful manner as at Jerusalem he exhorted them all. Doubtless he saw various things needing to be corrected. But instead of finding fault, instead of lacerating their feelings and chiding them, he began by acknowledgment of what he saw in them as a cause for rejoicing. His comforting message was to the effect that they should cleave unto the Lord with purpose of heart. He wished the dear brethren, new in the Truth, to see to it that their hearts were firmly united to the Lord, that their minds were fully made up, that their consecration was complete.
This was a matter of first importance. Later on he might show them kindly, gently, certain weaknesses of the flesh to which they were addicted. Or, their hearts being more firmly united to the Lord, they might very speedily see these inconsistencies of themselves, without a word being said. The point which we would impress is that it was not a restraining of the flesh, nor a perfecting of it, but a much deeper work of grace than this --a purity of heart, a heart-adhesion to the Lord.
We cannot do better today than to follow this same course in our endeavors to do good unto others as we have opportunity. The brethren need strengthening rather than tearing. They need building up in the most holy faith and in love. They need encouraging in heart adhesion to the Lord. Criticisms of the flesh may come in afterward, but very gradually and kindly.
There were three elements cooperating which made Barnabas so suitable a person for service, and which will surely make any of us an able minister of the Truth. These elements are stated in `Verse 24`: "He was a good man [moral, upright, reverential], full of the Holy Spirit [he had not received the grace of God in vain; in him it was a living power, the new mind guiding and controlling in all of his affairs] and of faith." However good a man may be, and however much of the Lord's Spirit he may have, a strong faith is essential. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Let us strive to have all of these qualifications in our ministry, that we may be
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true sons of consolation, helpful in the Lord's service and to His people wherever we may be. No wonder we read that as a result of the labors of Barnabas at Antioch much people was added to the Lord!
SAUL OF TARSUS BROUGHT TO ANTIOCH
The last we heard of Saul of Tarsus (`Acts 9:30`) was that after the opening of his eyes of understanding, after he had become a disciple of the Lord Jesus, he had preached first in Damascus and then in Jerusalem, after which, his life being endangered, the brethren had sent him down to Caesarea, and then probably by ship to his native city, Tarsus. We are not informed regarding the nature of his work in his home city, but can readily suppose that one of his character and disposition would not long remain idle. And if the sphere of outward activities was a narrow one, we may be sure that his mind was active in the study of the Divine Plan, and that his great heart was also active, in comprehending Divine grace and in considering ways of service.
Evidently Barnabas had in mind the talents, the force, the logic, of Brother Saul, whom he had met in Jerusalem; and he concluded that, Tarsus being not very far from Antioch, he would look Saul up, interest him in the service of the Church at Antioch, etc. He probably remembered that Saul's ideas respecting the Gospel were extremely broad--too broad, perhaps, for the brethren at Jerusalem to appreciate fully when Saul was amongst them. But by this time all the brethren, and especially large-hearted Barnabas, had come to see the Divine Plan in a broader light--more nearly as Saul of Tarsus had comprehended it.
Barnabas had concluded that the conditions at Antioch were such as would deeply interest Saul, and that the brethren there would be greatly profited by his assistance. So he found Saul, and brought him to Antioch, where his influence was doubtless great. We rejoice in noting the heart nobility of Barnabas. Many Christian men of smaller caliber would have reasoned themselves into a wrong course, saying, "Having had larger opportunities than the others, and having had close contact with the Apostles at Jerusalem, I am the chief one amongst the brethren here. But if I bring Saul into our midst, his superior abilities as a logician, as an expounder of the Scriptures, will cast me quite into the shade."
Brethren who reason thus are misguided by their own selfishness. They forget that the Lord's work is in His own hands; that with such a spirit they could neither please Him nor be prospered in His service; and that the reactionary effect upon their own hearts would be serious. All of the Lord's people should be noble and unselfish. And the closer we approximate this character, the more shall we be loved of the Lord and of the brethren, and the greater will be our sphere of influence for righteousness, for the Truth, for the Lord.
DISCIPLES FIRST CALLED CHRISTIANS
It is noteworthy that our Lord never gave a name to His people, but called them disciples--pupils, learners. The Apostles have applied to the Church various terms; such as, "Church of the living God," "Church of God," "Church of Christ," "the Church." But gradually the name Christians, identifying God's people with their Redeemer, came to be the general name everywhere.
It is a pity that any have thought it necessary to adopt any other names than these, which are common to the entire Church of Christ, or to use these names in a sectarian manner. Evidently the name Christian should represent one who trusts in Christ as the Messiah--one, therefore, who trusts in Him as the Redeemer and who accepts all the fundamental doctrines of the Scriptures. These doctrines are based upon three declarations: (1) That all were sinners, needing to be redeemed before they could be acceptable to God. (2) That the believer accepts God's forgiveness through the precious blood of Christ. (3) That he has accepted the Leadership and name of Christ and henceforth will seek to walk in His steps.
There was a start toward sectarianism in the early Church, some saying, "I am a Christian, but of the order of Paul." Others said, "I am a Christian of the order of Apollos;" still others, "I am a Christian of the order of Peter." St. Paul promptly rebuked this spirit, assuring them that relationship in Christ was all that was necessary, that neither Peter nor Paul had redeemed them, and that neither Apostle could therefore occupy the place of a head to the Church. Furthermore, the Apostle calls attention to the fact that such a spirit on their part was an evidence that much carnality still remained, much of a worldly, partisan spirit, contrary to the teachings of the Holy Spirit.--`1 Corinthians 1:10-13`; `3:1-7`.
It is to be regretted that ever since the Reformation this spirit has prevailed to a large extent, some taking the name of Luther, others, Wesley, Calvin, others non-personal, sectarian or party names such as Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. We are not claiming that those who do so are wholly carnal, without the Lord's Spirit; but with the Apostles we do claim that a disposition to such partisanship is contrary to the Spirit of the Lord, and to that extent is carnal, fleshly, and should be overcome by all who would be recognized of the Lord as overcomers.
What we ought to have is one Church, one Household of Faith, accepting the plain fundamentals of Scripture, and with limitations as to acceptance of more or less conjectural views outside of those fundamentals-- all fellowshipping each other, and all known as Christians, and thus separated from all who deny the Atonement, from all who deny the results of the Atonement in the resurrection, and from all who deny the propriety of a newness of life in the present time. In this view of the matter, each individual Christian would have an independence as respects his own thought, aside from fundamentals which are clearly stated in the Scriptures.
MISSIONARIES SENT FORTH
For a considerable time Paul and Barnabas met with the Church at Antioch in the worship of the Lord and in the study of His Word. The result of these studies was that the Church as a whole was developed and brought to the point of considering and praying about means for the spread of the Gospel. There were a number of Prophets--public speakers--and teachers in the Church; and evidently they began to think of how they might be used to the glory of God and to the blessing of others, as they themselves had been blessed by the Truth.
This is always the case with those who receive the Truth into good and honest hearts. Properly enough, they desire to feed thereon themselves and to grow strong in the Lord. But just so surely as the Truth is received, it gives a strength and a desire to use that strength. This is as true today as it was then. The sanctification which the Truth brings starts with our begetting of the Spirit; and the energy for service corresponds with the quickening of the Spirit.
Evidently the Church at Antioch had an oversupply of teachers, as compared to its own requirements, and began to look about for larger fields of service. They were uncertain as to the course they should follow, and hence looked to the Lord as the real Head of the Church.
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They served and they fasted; and we may be sure that they prayed also. As a result they came to the conclusion to send forth two of their number--Barnabas and Paul--as representatives of the whole in mission work.
We are not informed in what manner the Lord directed them to this decision. It is possible that this was after the same manner that we today would consider a similar case, and would say, "After studying the Scriptures and praying, seeking thus to know the mind of the Lord, we believe that it would be His will that such ones of our number should go for a public service of the Truth. We believe that we are guided to this conclusion, not by any wrong spirit of pride or ambition, nor with any mercenary motive, but by the Holy Spirit. We believe that it is the Lord's will that we as a congregation should send forth these representatives to carry the light to others."
In some manner the conviction came strongly to the Church at Antioch that this was its duty and privilege. It is worthy of note that the Church sought out its very best representatives for this service, thus letting the spirit of self-sacrifice prevail. No doubt the Lord blessed the Church correspondingly, and made up to them the loss sustained in the giving of these two very talented brethren to the mission work.
ORDINATION AND LAYING ON OF HANDS
The proper course having been decided upon, the congregation fasted, prayed and laid their hands upon Paul and Barnabas, and then sent the two on their missionary tour with God-speed. The laying on of hands would probably be done by the congregation through their representatives, the Elders. But this proceeding did not signify, as is generally understood today, an "Ordination"; for Paul and Barnabas had been recognized for a considerable time as amongst the principal prophets and teachers in the Church at Antioch. It would not signify authority to preach, as Ordination sometimes means today amongst Christians of various sects and parties.
This ceremony simply meant, "We, the congregation at Antioch, by this laying on of hands of our representative Elders, are sending forth these two men, Paul and Barnabas, on a missionary tour; and that they go, not only as representatives of the Lord and of themselves, but also as representatives of the Church of the Lord at Antioch; and that as such we hold ourselves responsible for their maintenance. We will supply them the needful assistance, and thus will be colaborers-- sharing in their labors, sympathizing in their difficulties and trials, helping them in their necessities, and partaking with them also in whatever results shall come to the Lord's praise through their efforts."
Accordingly we find that after this missionary tour the two brethren returned to Antioch, and made report. It would appear that subsequently the Apostle Paul, at least, traveled without any such dependence upon the Church at Antioch--without any such praying and laying on of hands and without any subsequent reports of results of labors--though still in love and sympathy with them, so far as we may judge.
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"LO, WE TURN TO THE GENTILES!"
--MAY 14.--`ACTS 13:13-15,42-52`.--
ST. PAUL'S FIRST MISSIONARY TOUR--HIS SERMON AT ANTIOCH IN PISIDIA--EFFECT OF HIS DISCOURSE TWOFOLD-- VIOLENT OPPOSITION FROM THOSE BLINDED BY SECTARIAN PREJUDICE--MISREPRESENTATION AND SLANDER EVER THE ADVERSARY'S METHOD OF FIGHTING THE TRUTH.
"I have set thee for a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the uttermost part of the earth."--`Verse 47`.
FROM Antioch Paul and Barnabas went to the seaport town of Selucia, where they took ship for the island of Cyprus. This island was as about as good a place to begin as any, and had the advantage of being the home country of Barnabas, who was familiar with the dialect of the people, their customs, etc. With them went a cousin of Barnabas, John Mark, writer of the Gospel of Mark and son of one of the Marys at Jerusalem.
Although Paul and Barnabas fully appreciated the fact that Gentiles might now have access to the blessings of the Gospel, nevertheless in every place they entered into the Jewish synagogues. The Jews already believed Moses and the Prophets, and therefore expected Messiah. Hence they would necessarily be in a much better attitude of mind to receive the Gospel Message than would be the Gentiles, who knew nothing of such matters and who therefore would require more instruction. Indeed, probably the larger proportion of converts between the time of our Lord's resurrection and the fall of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, were made amongst the Jews; and up to that time comparatively few Gentiles accepted Christ.
The missionary tour probably consumed considerable time, as the three went from village to village, preaching Christ, until they reached the city of Paphos, at the far end of the island. There they found Sergius Paulus, a man of good judgment, the governor of the island. Even before the missionaries got there, he had a hearing ear; and the Adversary, noting this, was at work upon him through Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer or magician, who had ingratiated himself with the proconsul and was esteemed his friend. We are not to wonder that a man of sound judgment, as the proconsul is represented to have been, should be so interested in the magician and his doings. On the contrary, we should remember that similarly there are some men of ability today who are to some extent under the influence of the same Adversary and his agents--spirit mediums. Besides, the magicians in olden times were mixtures of scientist and miracle worker, and usually very bright men.
CONFLICT BETWEEN TRUTH AND ERROR
When the proconsul heard something respecting Paul and Barnabas, he sent for them, desiring to know more. Then came a conflict between the powers of light and the powers of darkness, between Truth and Error. There is no harmony between the two; they are opponents at every point. And so in this case, as soon as the magician discovered that the proconsul was coming under the influence of the Truth, he used his every power to prevent it. This furnished occasion for a remarkable manifestation of Divine power through the Apostle Paul, who denounced the magician by a plain statement of his case and declared that he would become so blind that he could not see even the sun for a season. The blindness came upon Elymas gradually--first, a mistiness, which subsequently settled into complete darkness.
This manifestation of Divine power was convincing to the proconsul. It was not that this incident converted him; but that having already heard the teachings, and being in the process of comparing these with his previous views and with the presentation of Elymas, he was enabled by this incident to reach the right conclusion and to decide his matters on the Lord's side.
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DEPARTURE OF JOHN MARK
St. Paul and his company did not tarry at Paphos, but departed for Asia Minor. When they came to Perga, in Pamphylia, there John Mark discontinued his service and returned to Jerusalem. Hardship or discouragement or home-sickness--we know not what--evidently quenched his zeal as a servant of the Lord for a time, assuredly much to his disadvantage. Whatever the cause, the Apostle Paul evidently considered it quite insufficient, for on another occasion, when Barnabas suggested that Mark accompany them similarly, St. Paul declined. (`Acts 15:36-40`.) This he would not have done had Mark's desertion been fully justified by necessity.
There is an element of encouragement in Mark's experience, however. Later on, he evidently became a devoted soldier of the Cross and was again accepted to the Lord's service; and we find that the Apostle Paul made acknowledgment of appreciation of his faithfulness. (`Colossians 4:10`; `2 Timothy 4:11`.) The Lord is very merciful to us in our weaknesses and imperfections; and as He restored Mark, undoubtedly He is willing also to restore all who will similarly learn a lesson from their failures, and who earnestly strive for reinstatement and for the privilege of service.
PREACHING AT ANTIOCH IN PISIDIA
The first stop in Asia Minor was made at Antioch of Pisidia. The usual custom was followed--of going first to the Jewish synagogue. There the missionaries were recognized as strangers and also as men of talent. After the regular services of the synagogue had been introduced by the reading of the usual lesson from the Law, the two were invited to address the assembly--Jews by birth and Jewish proselytes from the Gentiles.
The Apostle Paul was the speaker and made a telling address. He recognized the fact that his hearers had faith in God's promises regarding the coming Messianic Kingdom. He did not need, therefore, to emphasize the Kingdom feature in his discourse. Rather, his hearers needed to see that there could be no Kingdom and no permanent blessing of all the families of the earth, such as was implied in the Promise made to Abraham, unless in some manner Divine forgiveness of the sins of the world could first be obtained.
The trend of the Apostle's address, therefore, was to show that in the past God had established a typical kingdom, which had never reached the grand stage essential to the fulfilment of the Abrahamic Promise; and that the thing necessary and lacking was a REDEMPTION of the world and the forgiveness of sins. Then he presented to their attention Jesus as the Messiah--not merely a crucified Messiah, but also a risen One, who, because of His death for the sins of the world, was able to save to the uttermost all that should come unto God through Him. Having put the matter squarely before them, the Apostle offered his hearers forgiveness of sins as the very essence of the Gospel of Christ.
Forgiveness of sin is still the essence of the Gospel, although mankind now, as then, are generally loth to accept it thus. It disappoints them by condemning them and declaring that all are sinners; that "there is none righteous, no, not one"; that all need just such a redemption as God has provided in the Sacrifice of Christ. It disappoints also in that it shows a necessity for repudiation of sin in the heart and, so far as possible, in resisting it in all the conduct of life.
Few have an ear to hear this Message. The majority are ready to say, "Preach unto us smooth things! Praise us for our religious fervor! Point out to us how far superior we are, not only to the heathen world, but to the masses of those about us. Tell us that we are God's people, and that He could not get along without us. Do not tell us that we are sinners, under condemnation as others are; and that all who would come unto God through Jesus Christ must come by the same narrow gate of faith, repudiation of sin, and heart-consecration to do God's will."
TWOFOLD EFFECT OF THIS DISCOURSE
The Apostle's discourse had a twofold effect. The honest-hearted realized the Truth regarding God's perfection and their own imperfection, and recognized their need of just such a Savior as the Apostle had preached. These were speedily drawn to the missionaries, who recognized their right attitude of heart and assured them that they were already in God's grace, or favor; that now the Message of salvation through Jesus was an additional unfolding and development of the same favor that had already been extended to the Jews; and that they should continue in the grace of God--continue to let God guide them in His way--continue to be the recipients of His mercies and blessings, which now were multiplied to them through Christ Jesus and the Atonement work which He had accomplished. Others were much less prepared for the Apostle's words, and rather inclined to be envious of the attention shown the missionaries and their teachings.
News of the new religion--supplemental to the Jewish --spread throughout the little city, in which Judaism had evidently gained a good foothold and great respect. The next Sabbath the whole city gathered to hear the Message of the missionaries--the majority probably coming merely out of curiosity, to see the difference between these doctrines and those of the regular Jewish teachers. Such attention to two strangers and their new doctrines, which threatened an overthrow of Judaism, naturally awakened a spirit of jealousy in those interested in forms and ceremonies, honor amongst men, and denominational pride.
As a result, they contradicted St. Paul's statements with blasphemy. This does not mean that they blasphemed God's name, but that they slandered, or blasphemed, the Apostle and Barnabas, speaking evil of them. We may surmise that they misrepresented the motives and the characters of the missionaries, etc. This is the usual course of those who fight against the Truth. It has ever been thus. The Truth cannot be gainsaid; it is irresistible. But it can be misrepresented; it can be denied. The presentations of the Truth can be distorted, and its messengers slandered, vilified. The Adversary seems to adopt this method on every occasion. It is the method now in vogue. Those who oppose Present Truth dare not meet it openly in public discussion; but they distort and misrepresent it, and speak evil of its advocates.
TWO LESSONS FOR OUR DAY
The missionaries were not discouraged by the opposition. Rather, they were the more courageous, and brought to the point where they explained to their vilifiers the fact that they were rejecting God's favor, God's Plan, to their own loss. The two pointed out that God had in His mercy long favored Israel; and that in sending the Message of Messiah to them first He was still favoring them; but that according to His instructions it was the duty of His representatives to proceed and to tell the Gospel to whoever had ears to hear--to the Jews first, but also to the Gentiles. They showed that the Lamp of Truth which God had now lighted was not for the Jews exclusively, as had been His previous favors; but, as the Prophet had already declared, it was to be "a light to lighten the Gentiles" also--salvation unto the ends of the earth.--`Luke 2:32`; `Isaiah 42:6`; `52:10`.
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This feature of the Gospel especially aroused the opposition of such Jews as were in the wrong condition of heart, but was proportionately attractive to the few who were in the right attitude. So it is today. The Message now due to Christendom is--more Light! It shows that the Lamp of God's Word of promise, which at the beginning of this Age was permitted to bless both Jews and Gentiles in proportion as the eyes of their understanding were opened to see it, is shortly now to give place to a greater Light; that whereas the Word of God has been a Lamp to the feet and a Lantern to the footsteps of the faithful for over eighteen centuries, the Sun of Righteousness is soon to rise and flood the whole world with the light of the knowledge of the goodness of God.
Those of God's people in the right attitude of heart will be gladdened by this unfolding of the Truth. No feelings of jealousy will be theirs. But the majority, full of sectarian plans and selfish sentiments, and blinded largely by false theology and by misrepresentations of God's Word, are violently opposed to any thought of Divine mercy being extended to every creature--not only to those who have not yet gone to the prison-house of death, but also to the twenty billions who have already gone down into death in ignorance of the only name given under Heaven or among men whereby we must be saved. But the faithful, the honest-hearted, will ultimately rejoice in the lengths, the breadths, the heights and the depths of God's Plan, to be consummated during the Millennium by the glorified Christ, Head and Body.
"ORDAINED TO ETERNAL LIFE"
Many of the Gentiles were glad as they heard that God's favor was broader than they had previously supposed. Some, we may infer, were merely pleased that something had been shown up that was broader than the Jewish teachings. But some others, we are assured, believed in the true sense of the word--accepting Christ as their Redeemer and their Lawgiver. And so today we see two classes amongst those who favor Present Truth. Some hail it with joy, and gratefully serve the Lord more fervently than ever. Some are merely glad to find that there is no Scriptural ground for the popular theory of eternal torment for the vast majority, but are not especially drawn by Divine love and mercy.
The more the Truth spread, the more angry became its opponents, the Jewish leaders; and what they could not oppose with argument or with logic they did oppose successfully with prejudice and superstition, arousing these baser sentiments by misrepresentation. Thus they secured the cooperation of some of the most honorable and notable people of the city to such an extent that the missionaries were obliged to depart.
The record is that "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed." The word "ordained" here may properly be translated disposed. Thus we get the thought that as many of those as heard the Gospel and its offer of everlasting life, and who were disposed to accept the terms, became believers--obedient to the faith. So it still is. Wherever the Truth goes there are some who like it, and others who dislike it; some who appreciate the doctrines and rewards which it represents, and some who prefer the pleasures of sin or the affairs and rewards of the world. This is the time for each who has heard the Message to make his choice. Soon the number of the Elect will be complete; and then their work will begin-- the blessing of mankind--the blessing of the non-elect.
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PROPER AND IMPROPER JUDGMENT OF BRETHREN
"There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who art thou that judgest another?"--`James 4:12`.
IN THIS Epistle, St. James has been discussing the fact that partiality had been shown in the Church--that some, without proper reason, were esteemed unworthy of as high honor as others. This is particularly brought out in the Second Chapter. Some who were rich and influential were given the choicest seats in their assemblies and treated with great deference and respect. Others, who were poor and humble, were given obscure places and treated with scant courtesy, as though they were inferiors. Judgment was passed upon the brethren contrary to the instructions of the Lord. The Apostle points out the sin of judging and of having respect of persons aside from the standpoint of character. He declares that as there is but one Lawgiver, Jehovah, so there is but one great standard. He who gave that standard, that Law, is to be the Executor of His own Law, although He may appoint various representatives. His special Representatives are to be Christ and the Church associated with Him in glory as judges. But they will judge by that standard given by the great Lawgiver; and there will be no other law in competition with it.
Since this is the case, and since there is an arrangement by which we are accepted as God's children, who is he who undertakes to say what degree of Divine favor or disfavor each of this class may have? Who is to say which will be destroyed in the Second Death and which saved to life? God has a personal dealing with each one of those who are accepted into His family. Hence the very fact that one has been thus accepted is a proof that God has seen something in that person pleasing in His sight. If He who is the Lawgiver has seen something sufficiently favorable for Him to choose such a one and anoint him with His Holy Spirit, what right has any one else to condemn him whom God has seen fit to approve?
THE CHURCH INCAPABLE OF JUDGING NOW
We might see in an individual certain traits which would seem more or less unjust, unrighteous. But we are not to judge. We cannot see into the heart. We might suppose a certain one to be an overcomer, and he might not be. Or we might suppose him not to be an overcomer, and he might be one. Therefore we are to "judge nothing before the time." We should avoid judging the brethren.
This does not mean that we would not be able to discern acts of positive disloyalty to God. But instead of setting up standards of our own, we should recognize for ourselves and everybody else the one standard which the Lord has given; namely, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength; and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (`Luke 10:27`.) This is the very essence of the great Law of God. We should judge ourselves by this Law, to see to what extent we are loving God thus, and are loving our neighbor as ourselves. This is our primary work of judging.
The Apostle Paul, particularly, has pointed out that if any one in the Church is living in violation of the Law of God, then the matter should be taken up by the Church. This does not apply to any case except that of an outward departure from the Lord's Law. It would not apply if the individual happens to say "Tweedledee," when we think
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he should say "Tweedledum," or if he should in some way violate the ideas of some one else. It should be a positive violation of the principles of righteousness laid down in the Word of God. If any one is known to have done us a real injury, we are to go to him alone. If he refuses to listen, then we may take two or three others of the Church. If he still refuses to acknowledge his wrong, the matter may be brought to the attention of the Church in a proper manner. During all this time, however, the brother is not to be cut off from recognition. It is only if he still persists in doing the things contrary to the Divine arrangement, or refuses to make reparation for a serious wrong, that he should be cut off from fellowship.
It is not our place to judge others, but to judge ourselves, to bring ourselves up to the highest possible standard. Let others see our good works, that thus they may glorify our Father which is in Heaven. It is the Lord who will judge His people. We are to assume, then, that if any one in the Lord's family should violate his covenant, the Lord will attend to his case. We are not to pass judgment upon his motives; we can only see when his outward conduct is wrong. And we may err even here. But we may not judge the heart. God alone is competent to do this. God gave the Law, and He is the One to decide whether the person is seeking to keep that Law.
STANDARD OF JUDGMENT FOR NEW CREATURES
The Apostle Paul says to the Church, "Ye are not under the Law, but under grace." (`Romans 6:14`.) But here in our text St. James seems to say that we are under Law and under the Lawgiver. How shall we harmonize these two texts of Scripture? We reply, When St. Paul said, "Ye are not under the Law," he meant the Law Covenant. The Law Covenant which God made with Israel of old was a different thing from the Law of God itself. It was an agreement between the Lord and Israel as to what they would do and what God would do. They were under this Law Covenant. Gentiles never were under this Law. They were without God.
The Apostle Paul intimates (`Romans 8:4`) that "the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Although Natural Israel were not able to keep the Law of God under their Covenant, we, the Gospel Church, are able to keep it under our Covenant. Under God's arrangement for the Gospel Age the New Creature alone is recognized; the flesh is reckoned dead. The New Creature, having been accepted into God's family, is still in possession of his imperfect fleshly body and must operate through it. He must do his best to control this body and use it to the glory of God. In his heart, his mind, his endeavor, he can, as a New Creature, keep God's Law perfectly.
It is not the imperfect actions of the mortal body that will determine anything, but the heart intentions and endeavors of the New Creature. The body must be kept under and brought into subjection, as the Apostle Paul tells us. It is the New Creature that will live or die, so far as the Church is concerned, under the judgment of the Divine Law, the Divine Lawgiver.
In harmony with the thought of our text, the Apostle Paul declares that neither the world nor the brethren were capable of judging him--that only the Lord, who can read the heart and know all the conditions, testings and weaknesses to be striven against, can properly judge. He even declares, "Yea, I judge not mine own self." (`1 Corinthians 4:3`.) We should neither condemn others who claim to be walking conscientiously as children of the Lord, nor condemn ourselves, if we know we are truly striving to thus walk. We should simply press along day by day, doing the best we can by the Lord's assisting grace to cultivate the fruits of the Holy Spirit and serve our Master, leaving all the results with Him.
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SPIRIT OF A SOUND MIND
DEARLY BELOVED PASTOR:--
I am not giving any name or address, as I think it wiser not to, and please do not notice this note if you do not think it advisable, otherwise if you can spare a short paragraph in THE TOWER I should appreciate it, and others also.
A Sister recently arrived from _____ tells us that the Class there are teaching that the Church must not expect to be glorified until 1925, and that this is your thought; consequently it is producing a spirit of apathy, and many are taking a greater interest in business and worldly things. Whether or not it is so, to me it seems that I have to be on my guard and "watch and wait," with loins girded and Lamp burning, that I may be ready.
I have realized and accepted this glorious Message of "Present Truth" for five years; and it grows more precious all the time. I grew up in the Church of England, and living at Oxford with the College Set, was extremely High Church, so you know what I have had to unlearn.
I praise God for raising you up, dear Brother, as "that Servant." May He bless you still more, that you may give us the "meat in due season." I also thank the dear Lord that He brought me to this country before this awful war; and made me to realize "where are the dead," as all my people are being shot and I should have been in despair.
There is another little matter I would like to mention. At the Class I attend the presiding Elder never seems prepared. He does not know where the MANNA Text for the day is, and although it is a Prayer and Testimony Meeting, he occupies most of the time with his views on the present state of affairs and the war crisis. No one else can have much time.
I hope you will not think I am too critical, but in the little old Church I had been accustomed to reverence, and for an Elder to be gaping, sleeping or picking his teeth and nails--well it jars awfully! He also brings with him a child of three years that disturbs the Class very much. No one likes to say anything to him, as he says that he has been in the Truth for fifteen years. But we do not feel spiritually helped, especially as he is a business man. Before the meeting he talks business; and the moment it is over, shop.
O dear Brother, I don't want to think evil, or speak evil, but this does worry us! Many of us have prayed about it. The children do bother us; but I dare not speak of that, as I am told that I have too strict English ideas. I would not wound his feelings in any way, so if I am in the wrong please ignore what I have written. The dear Lord knows that I am trying to follow in His footsteps, and to keep my pride under and make myself of no reputation, as the dear Master did.
Apologizing for encroaching on your valuable time, I am, dear Pastor, YOUR SISTER BY HIS GRACE.
The Apostle declares that God gives His people the spirit of a sound mind--His Spirit, His Mind. But we receive this in proportion to our earnestness and heed to the Lord's Word. The longer we have been in the School of Christ, if apt pupils, the better we should know Him and the better be able to exemplify His character and teachings.
As the letter is anonymous, we have not the slightest idea who the Elder may be. We will assume that he means well. We might also, however, assume that he has not been sufficiently wide-awake to well exemplify the spirit of a sound mind in the matter of the service of the Lord. Otherwise, would he not be more careful of his actions and words, in order that he might glorify the Lord and be assistful to His people?
Lack of reverence is manifest everywhere, but it seems especially out of place in assemblages of the Lord's consecrated people. As we have said before, we may say again, that no matter how limited our talents we can by our actions
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and manner speak volumes in the praise of Him who called us from darkness into marvelous light.
We cannot help it that many of the dear friends continue to tell what THE WATCH TOWER believes, and to misrepresent its teachings. Our kindest thought must be that they are not giving much heed to its teachings. Otherwise they would know from its columns that we are not looking forward to 1925, nor to any other date. As expressly stated in THE WATCH TOWER, we are simply going on, our last date or appointment having been passed more than a year ago.
We believe that the dates have proven to be quite right. We believe that Gentile Times have ended, and that God is now allowing the Gentile Governments to destroy themselves, in order to prepare the way for Messiah's Kingdom. The Lord did not say that the Church would all be glorified by 1914. We merely inferred it and, evidently, erred. We see, however, that the different times and seasons which the Lord's providence sent to His people in hope of resurrection "change" correspond closely with the different places to which Elijah, the Prophet, was sent before his translation. The last place to which he was sent was Jordan, which, we believe, corresponds to October, 1914. After that, Elijah and Elisha went on without having any definite point in view.
Our thought is that something very important to us all is implied in Elijah's use of his mantle in smiting the waters of Jordan and dividing them. After so doing, Elijah and Elisha continued to go on until the chariot of fire parted them. It was after that that Elijah went up to Heaven in the whirlwind. We may discuss these matters more at length again, but now suggest that we have no different time in mind from the Scriptures on the subject, and do not expect to have any. However, the division of the waters might require either years or months--who could say?
FROM BRETHREN OF FRANCE
BELOVED BROTHER IN CHRIST:--
I do not know whether anybody at the Tabernacle can read French or not; but I cannot resist the impulse to assure you of my entire devotion to the cause of Truth.
You have helped me to so much joy, and been the means of my accepting salvation. Through your labor I have been brought to an appreciation of the love of our Heavenly Father, to such an extent that I find my sentiments aptly expressed by St. Paul to his brother Philemon. (`Philemon 7`.) Being delighted at recognizing this fact, I find delight also in expressing it to you.
In all my painful moments, when the cross is heavy to bear, I think of you and say to myself, dear Brother Russell, too, has suffered, and is suffering, and I must not wonder if my share is to suffer also. Then my soul goes up to the Father of Mercies in gratitude for His favors (the privilege of suffering with Christ), and I earnestly beg of Him ever to bless and guide you.
During the past year I have appreciated much, very much, your excellent advice, and it has profited me greatly.
In my present trials, after having been compelled to leave my wife and three children in the invaded territory of our dear France, the daily partaking of the Vow and of the Morning Resolve has helped me much. These helps alone have developed in me much of the love of the Father--and all this during the past year. Because of it I bless the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, let me by this message assure you that my petitions ascend to the Father in your behalf, that He may bless you abundantly, to the end that His blessing upon you may redound through your ministry upon every one of us.
Yours sincerely in Him, E. LARVENT.
P. S.--Have found here a refuge since December, 1914, when I had to leave my home at Denain (Nord). Am here with several brothers and sisters who also are refugees from Lens, Lieven and Denain. We have each of us signed the accompanying brotherly message:
The undersigned brethren and sisters, members of the I.B.S.A. (French Ecclesia of Bruay-Auchel), in meeting assembled this 1st day of January, 1916, send their most brotherly greetings to the well-beloved of the Household of Faith, fighting the same spiritual fight under the Captain of our Salvation, Jesus Christ, at the Brooklyn Bethel and everywhere.
After having studied `Psalm 116` (especially dwelling on `Verse 15`, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints," also the motto for this year, "Strong in Faith"), we express the sincerest wish that each of you, when tried, may be found faithful unto death and then present at the approaching Rendezvous in eternal joy! SIGNED BY 25.
LOVE IN THOUGHT, WORD AND DEED
BELOVED BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Greetings and much love to you, dear Brother, as we come to the end of this wonderful year. What a glorious year it has been for the development of the saints, particularly along the lines of love and patient endurance! I am incapable of expressing my love and appreciation of you and your service to me personally. I am constantly praising my Heavenly Father for allowing me to come in contact with your precious Volumes, which God used to bring me out of the kingdom of darkness and into the light of the glorious Gospel.
I thank you, dear Brother, for the suggestion that we each pray that "God would bless us in the cultivation of love in thought, word and deed." I immediately acted upon the suggestion, and oh, joy, what grand results! I never knew that there was so much in "loving in thought." Now, dear Brother, you said we might report to you as to our success, and that is why I am intruding upon your precious time. The results with me have been away beyond my highest expectation.
We thought there might be some in the class who had not yet taken the "Vow" nor sent in their names. So we opened up a sheet and to our surprise, there were fifty-two who wished their names sent in. Please find the same enclosed. Loving Greetings from Sister Heard and
Your Brother by Divine favor,
C. E. HEARD.--Vancouver, B.C.
FROM THE VANCOUVER CLASS
OUR BELOVED PASTOR:--
We the undersigned, members of the Vancouver Ecclesia, take this opportunity of expressing our love and gratitude to you for the inestimable service you have rendered to us, in that through your ministrations we have been led into the light of Present Truth. And now recognizing that we are in "the evil day" and the danger of slipping is so great, we desire to "make straight paths for our feet," and believing
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that the special "Vow" is a great means to that end, we wish to add our names to the many who have already taken it, and thereby make it our own.
Praying our Heavenly Father's rich blessing upon you. dear Brother, and asking a continued interest in your prayers, We are: [Fifty-two signatures follow.]
I have in my possession a copy of the EMPHATIC DIAGLOTT, and esteem it very highly. I have compared it with the works of the great English commentator Clarke, and all of his citations to the Greek are identical with the DIAGLOTT; I have been comparing the Septuagint with it, and where the DIAGLOTT makes reference to the Old Testament, I find the text the same.
The good I have received from its study, plus the increased value of it by comparison, has greatly endeared the work to me.
I am engaged in the work of the ministry and in circulating sacred literature, including Bibles and Testaments. I would be glad to handle a few copies of the DIAGLOTT, if you can give me a fair commission on them.
I have an order now for one copy. If you will quote me agents' terms, I shall be glad to handle some for you. Please include your pamphlet on ARMAGEDDON.
Respectfully yours, REV.__________
SEES GETHSEMANE EXPERIENCES AHEAD
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Just a line, dear Brother, to wish that our dear Lord and Master continue to bless you, as He has so richly done in the past. I remember you every morning at the Throne of Grace.
We in this country seem to be on the verge of Gethsemane experiences, as the conscription bill has passed.
One of my sons has now reached the age of 19. He has so far given a good witness for the Lord by refusing to enlist in the army, and if it should come that it will mean being shot for still refusing, I trust he will receive the Heavenly Grace to stand firm to the principles of truth and righteousness.
Brother, we ask your prayers for us during this evil hour.
Yours in the one hope, W. O. WARDEN.--Scotland.
International Bible Students Association Classes STUDIES AND LECTURES BY MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION