VOL. XXIV. JUNE 15, 1903. No. 12
Conventions Across the Sea........................179
The Editor on His European
The Apostle Paul at Rome..........................183
Paul's Charge to Timothy..........................186
Public Ministries of the Truth....................192
The Editor's Return...........................192
General Conventions, Etc......................192
Corrected Bible Prices........................178
LETTERS FOR THE EDITOR SHOULD BE SENT TO ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
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CORRECTED BIBLE PRICES.
We are obliged to announce that the two cheap Teachers' Bibles mentioned in our list in Dec. 15 issue as Nos. 8301 and 04403 have advanced in price. They will hereafter be sold at 90c. each; postage, 25c. extra. Thumb Index, if desired, 25c.
ZION'S GLAD SONGS.
We have this booklet of spiritual songs in large supply again, and orders can be filled promptly. While it is not expected that the "Songs" shall take the place of the noble hymns in the book POEMS AND HYMNS OF DAWN, they will be found appropriate for social meetings and praise services. The price is 5c each, postpaid; 60c per doz.
POEMS AND HYMNS OF DAWN.
This work contains a very choice selection of 160 poems and 333 hymns, purged, we trust, from much of the too common hymn-book theology. In cloth binding only, 50 cents. TOWER subscribers supplied at the wholesale rate, 25 cents. This price now includes postage.
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CONVENTIONS ACROSS THE SEA.
--THE EDITOR ON HIS EUROPEAN JOURNEY.--
DEAR WATCH TOWER READERS:--
I posted my previous letter just as our vessel, the New York, reached Southampton. As I stepped ashore I was met by Brother Henninges, and a little later, on arrival at London, by a delegation representing the London Church. Assuredly our greetings all around were most cordial, and unitedly we thanked God for a safe journey and asked divine blessing upon our mission.
Five meetings were held in London. The first on Saturday afternoon was a greeting and salutation meeting, and in the course of my remarks I mentioned the cordial greetings sent with me by the brethren of the Allegheny congregation; assuring the friends that those greetings well represented the sentiments of all the dear brethren and sisters of America. They in turn wished me to tell you all of their love and to give you their greetings in the Lord, and to testify to you that the Lord's people, though separated by oceans, are of one spirit--begotten of the one Father.
The evening session lasted from 7 to 9; the attendance being about 400 (about the same as in the afternoon). My text was `Heb. 6:13-17`--respecting the hope that is an anchor to our soul and that is based upon God's promise to Abraham, which he confirmed with an oath; so that not only Abraham might have "strong consolation," but we also who look back to that oath-bound Covenant, expecting its fulfilment and trusting by God's grace that we may be heirs of that Covenant's provisions--as Abraham's spiritual "seed." Our hearts rejoiced in the Apostle's assurance, "If ye be Christ's (members or bride) then are ye Abraham's
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seed and heirs according to the promise." (`Gal. 3:29`.) We saw clearly that if we are heirs of that promise it is still unfulfilled, and our faith laid fresh hold of the promise and oath of God, and we assured ourselves not only that it could not fail of fulfilment, but that our Lord's glorification as the Head of the "seed," as the antitypical Isaac, was an additional guarantee that soon the Church, as the antitypical Rebekah, would be united to him and the promise proceed to complete fulfilment--the blessing of all the families of the earth under the Millennial Kingdom.
On Sunday we had three sessions: at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. The attendance in the morning was estimated at 400, in the afternoon at 600 and in the evening at 800. The dear friends of the N. London congregation provided a bountiful luncheon at 6 p.m. on Saturday as well as Sunday: all were cordially invited to partake. The number participating on Sunday evening--about 300--fairly represented the deeply interested of London and surrounding cities and towns.
Our text on Sunday morning was `Phil. 4:8,7`. The Church rather than the public was addressed, and the "way of the Lord" made as plain as possible: (1) The way in which we first saw ourselves to be sinners. (2) Our first view of Christ as our Savior, and our justification through Christ in his blood. (3) Our consecration, begetting to the new nature as members of the elect. (4) Our experiences after we thus as New Creatures entered the school of Christ. (5) The trials and polishings by the way to fit and prepare us for the Kingdom--to polish us as the Lord's jewels. (6) The assistance of the brethren in the good way by words and example--our Elder Brother's being first and Brother Paul's next.
The afternoon session was devoted to questions: this being deemed the most practical way of reaching topics in which the brethren were most deeply interested. Two hours were thus spent--profitably, we
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trust, to all. Many of the questions indicated deep thought on the subjects dear to us all.
The closing session of the London Convention was well attended--notwithstanding an all-day rain. The interest was excellent, as indicated by the close attention given for two hours by people of whom nearly one-half had little or no previous knowledge of the truth.
Our topic on this occasion was: "Millennial Hopes and Prospects." At the close nearly an hour was spent giving and receiving cordial farewells and good wishes. Would that our pen were capable of delineating the words of earnest greeting--the loving glances of the eyes and the earnest pressure of the hand. We assured the dear friends that we accepted their warm words and many kind acts as first of all to the Lord, who has given us all the precious truths which so rejoice all who have the hearing ear of faith. That, secondly, I was welcomed and loved as a representative of the Lord's people rejoicing in present truth--not only in America but throughout the world. That, thirdly, I accepted a portion of their love and greetings personally--as a servant and representative of the Lord and his people. (And this is uniformly my course and view.)
On Tuesday (April 28) we took up our journey for Denmark and Sweden--a journey of over two thousand miles--to meet our dear Scandinavian friends, whom not having seen we loved as brethren in Christ. Representatives of the London assembly escorted us to the railway depot and bade us Godspeed, hoping to see us yet again before our return to America. Brother Henninges accompanies me and is a real comfort and true yokefellow in every way. The Lord reward him!
Our first stop was at Copenhagen: We were met at the depot with a most cordial welcome and escorted to comfortable lodgings. The notice of our coming had brought brethren and sisters from various directions who awaited our coming and, with the local brethren, almost overwhelmed us with the evidences of their love and fellowship. Although our communications were through a brother who served as interpreter, yet eyes and hand-clasps added emphasis.
We had three meetings in this great city--two of these were semi-public, including not only the friends of the truths represented by ZION'S WATCH TOWER publications, but their Christian friends whom they had been endeavoring to interest. The largest attendance was about 200--very good indeed for a mid-week meeting.
Continuing our journey we reached Stockholm on Sunday morning, May 3--the dear leader of the Danish meetings accompanying us. As we alighted from the train we were met by about ten Swedish brethren--amongst them the two dear brethren who for some time past have been colporteuring in these parts and whose efforts God is blessing. A hasty wash and we were off for the meeting place, where we found a crowded roomful of Swedish brethren and sisters singing most heartily an old and familiar tune in words which we could not understand. But the circumstances and earnestness and illuminated faces all told us that the unknown tongue gave praise to the same God, inspired by the same hopes built upon the same promises. We began at once our address--a dear brother (once a minister in the Swedish State Church) serving as interpreter, repeating our words in Swedish, sentence by sentence.
For two hours we discussed the oath-bound covenant, hope in which constitutes the anchor of our faith as the Lord's brethren and joint-heirs. The moist eyes and nods of assent told clearly that the truths were recognized and appreciated and that many of those present were sincerely desirous of making their calling and election sure as "heirs according to the promise," as joint-heirs with Christ Jesus our Lord.--`Gal. 3:29`.
Our second public meeting was at 5.30 p.m. Sunday, and lasted until nearly 8 o'clock. About 250 were present and the closest attention was given to our presentation of the "Millennial Hopes and Prospects." Some of the audience--about one-half--were outsiders not fully committed to present truth. They were seemingly sincere Christians, however, and we may reasonably hope that some of them may yet be blessed by the Lord through these or other instrumentalities;--that they may be enabled to "comprehend with all saints the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God which passeth all knowledge."-- `Eph. 3:18`.
Monday's meetings at 11 a.m. to 1, and 3.30 to 6, were attended by about 100 each. These doubtless are all deeply interested, even though some may not as yet be fully committed. The topics of these meetings related to the steps of discipleship; the conditions for entering and continuance in the narrow way to "glory, honor and immortality." Our heart was much encouraged by hearing from two, who could speak English, that they had discerned the way they had long been seeking, and had made a full consecration of their all to the Lord and were rejoicing accordingly.
We may hope that there were more, for some of the dear friends spoke most eloquently with their eyes, and by all their actions indicated that they longed to talk with us. One dear brother caught our hand in both of his and looked us in the face with moist
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eyes, and then, pointing to his mouth, shook his head; then he pointed to his eyes and then to his forehead; --then he looked heavenward, then pressed our hand afresh in both of his. Thus he told us, as forcibly as could words in any language: I cannot speak to tell you of my joy of heart, but the eyes of my mind have been opened and now I can see our heavenly Father in his true light and can understand his wonderful plan, and I want to thank you because it was through your instrumentality that our Father sent me this priceless blessing.
We have just left these dear brethren and sisters on our return journey to fill appointments in Great Britain. About 25 or 30 came to the depot in the rain to see us off. Impressive were the handshakes of these dear friends who, though poor, purchased railway tickets so as to get on to the platform to see the last of us. Through the interpreter they said, We fear that we do not and cannot show you how much we love you in the Lord and how much we appreciate the privileges of this Convention.
One dear Swedish sister, a school teacher (able to speak English), who has had the truth for only about one year and a half, but during that time has done much to present it to others, came to meet us at Copenhagen, went with us to Stockholm and returned with us to Copenhagen and went home after seeing us off. As we finally parted, she handed us some flowers, saying, "These are not from me but from all the dear Swedish friends of the truth. I was the first of them to meet you and now I am the last of them to bid you farewell and Godspeed--so accept these flowers, please, as a token of our Christian love for you and the work the Lord has given you to do." This dear sister, a hard worker, traveled in all over 700 miles to enjoy and feast upon the truth and to show her love for it. Can it be wondered if I write now: I shall never forget my visit to Scandinavia, and shall ever pray and seek for the Lord's blessing upon his work there.
* * *
Journeying from Stockholm by rail to Malmo (375 miles) and by sea (15 miles) brought us back to Copenhagen, where we again bade good-bye to our Danish friends. Thence by rail we reached Korsor (70 miles), where we again took ship for Kiel (100 miles). Here we saw the German Emperor's war yacht and about 24 German war vessels, and rejoiced in spirit that ere long they will be remelted, that their tons of metal may be used in peaceable pursuits under the administration of the great Prince of Peace. From Kiel a rail journey (500 miles) brought us to Flushing,
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where we again took steamer (115 miles) to Queensboro pier and were again on British soil. The rail journey to London (50 miles) was through the most highly cultivated country we saw on our entire journey or anywhere. It seemed a picture of what Paradise restored will shortly be.
On our first arrival in England we added to our itinerary several intermediate appointments. One of these was Leeds, our next stopping place, which we reached after a journey of 250 miles. The dear friends met us at the depot, greeting us most cordially; --our arrival was delayed, and they had waited all afternoon. The weather was damp and chilly, but not so their ardor, nor ours. We felt at home with them at once. After tea we proceeded to the Y.M.C.A. hall and for an hour and a half addressed a very intelligent audience of about 125 on "The Oath-bound Covenant" of `Heb. 6:17`. A special supper had been arranged, at which a goodly company gathered, and after a refreshing night's rest we started for Glasgow (200 miles)--a happy party escorting us to the train and sending kindest greetings to the "brethren in America."
Glasgow was one of our stopping places in 1891, when we hunted up some six TOWER subscribers. Now, on the arrival of the train, 30 dear brethren and sisters were on the platform and greeted us most enthusiastically--assuring us of the love of others not able to be present. We had heard that the Scotch were undemonstrative, and very averse to "wearing their heart on their sleeve," but the warmth of our reception convinced us that the Scotch had been misrepresented, or else that the "love of the truth" had greatly transformed these dear friends, who, by their hands and faces, no less than by their words, so enthusiastically welcomed us. We were most hospitably entertained, and pray for the divine blessing upon our hosts and their families. This was Friday evening, and the Church's committee of arrangements (8) called on us to submit suggestions of details for the Convention, not previously arranged by mail. Our fellowship was most pleasant and both opened and closed with prayer.
The Saturday morning program consisted of interesting reports from various little companies of believers in Scotland presented by representatives. They were most interesting and showed clearly that not only in Glasgow, but in every direction thereabouts, the truth is extending and under God's blessing is finding the Israelites indeed. We addressed the dear friends briefly on this occasion, congratulating them on the many evidences of God's favor and blessing upon them, pointing out that the keynote of the present movement is, "Gather together my saints unto me: those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." We rally not around a sectarian standard or
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name or creed, but to the Lord. We who are united to Christ need not creeds or other human bonds to unite us--our union with the Head means union with all united to him and love for all such in proportion as each has or attains the Lord's spirit. We assured the dear friends that we brought greetings to all of like precious faith from brethren in America, and that your thoughts and prayers were surely with us.
The afternoon discourse was on "The Oath-bound Covenant" (`Heb. 6:13-17`), and that of the evening on "The exceeding great and precious promises." (`2 Pet. 1:4-11`.) These we showed to be the Church's share in the Abrahamic Covenant. The attendance for a week-day was excellent--about 400 at each session.
Sunday was the great day of our spiritual feasting with our Lord (in prayer and praise and the study of his Word) and with each other as fellow-heirs of the promises. The opening session was a general testimony meeting. One after another told the story which we all know from experience, but which we are always glad to hear afresh--of God's grace and providential leading into the clearer light of present truth. Several of the dear Colporteurs were heard from at this meeting, and their testimony was like that of all others,--of their own blessing, and of their joy in the service notwithstanding occasional discouragements. We took occasion again to express our joy that the Lord had been pleased to use our humble efforts, but gave the glory to the Lord, pointing out that "of his fullness have all we received, and favor upon favor;"--that the due time had come for the fuller light to illuminate the divine Word and therefore it was sent of the Lord for all Israelites indeed; and that any little trials and sufferings and sacrifices which had come to us incidentally to the serving of the truth to the household of faith had been far more than compensated for in the blessings and favors and privileges granted us in the present time, besides the promised share in the Kingdom glories. The discourse following was on the greatness of God's power working in his saints. (`Eph. 1:19`.) We saw the divine power exercised through the Word of promise and his grace sufficient for all trials and to bring off conquerors all his faithful. We saw also his power to do for us and with us in the future --raising us up to glory and using us then to bless the world.
At the Sunday afternoon session Brother Henninges addressed the Convention, his topic being "Consecration," from `Prov. 23:26`. Close attention was given while he pointed out the consecration of Abraham and the other worthies of the past, and then that of our Lord and his apostles, and brought home the lesson to all that only by full self-surrender to the Lord can any hope to attain divine favor and everlasting life.
The Sunday evening service (from 6.30 to 9 p.m.) was the most largely attended session of the Convention and its closing one. About 1,000 were present, and the close attention given by many for so long a session leads us to hope that some hearts and heads were reached by the truth. We cannot hope that all or even many of those who heard had an "ear to hear" or "an understanding heart"; but we do hope that audiences so remarkable for intelligence as were these of Glasgow received some thoughts respecting the divine plan of salvation which they will never forget, even though but few of them may be finally of the very elect who shall eventually as "overcomers" "make their calling and election sure." Quite a number of medical men were present, doubtless through respect to one of the brethren, who is a very prominent physician--a professor in the medical college here and one of the two chief surgeons in the Glasgow hospital.
Monday was spent with friends in the suburbs of Glasgow most delightfully, resting and attending to correspondence. In the evening we were joined by over sixty of the Glasgow Church, who spent three hours with us--a sociable and farewell visit which closed with prayer for the Lord's continued favor upon the Church here and upon us in our further journeying and ministering and upon all the dear Israel of God--known to us and unknown. The dear friends requested us to extend their greetings and hearty good wishes to the Allegheny Church and to all the "brethren of like precious faith." About 28 of the Glasgow friends intend an (80 miles) excursion to Edinburgh to visit the Church there at the time of our visit--there to bid us a final goodbye. They urge, however, that we come again when the seventh volume of DAWN shall have been prepared,--for we assured them that we could not at present consider it the Lord's will that we should make so long a journey until the DAWN series is completed. Having a day at our disposal, we have accepted an invitation north, at Dundee, prior to our Edinburgh engagements --Wednesday and Thursday, May 13 and 14. En route to the railway depot we met "Aunt Sarah," who wished us to visit her "shop," in the rear portion of which the Glasgow Church had its start in a Dawn Circle of about four to six persons. We took a cup of tea there and ate some of a fruit cake baked for us by another sister upon the first TOWER announcement of our visit. Some who could not come to Edinburgh gathered at the depot to bid us farewell (30). As the train started they were still singing-- "God be with you till we meet again." Our hearts
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and theirs were full. We remembered our Lord's promise in `Matt. 19:29`, and realized its fulfilment afresh. Praise his name!
At Dundee station we were met and heartily welcomed by six of the friends--just one-half of the total number interested. Sixty-one gathered for the one meeting which our time permitted there. Close attention was given us for two hours while we endeavored to show the exceeding riches of God's grace to usward, set forth in the Oath-bound Covenant. We hope later to know of some fruitage. We were most hospitably entertained and started early the following morning, May 13th, for Edinburgh.
We reached Edinburgh shortly after noon and were met at the station with a most cordial welcome by representatives of the Church. The grand city was in commotion and gala dress in honor of a state visit of the King; nevertheless our first evening session was well attended and close attention was given to our presentation of "The Oath-bound Covenant." The meeting on Thursday at 3 p.m. was chiefly for the deeply interested. Our topic was, "The Losses and Gains of Christ's Followers," from `Phil. 3:7-14`. Then followed a luncheon--sandwiches, cakes and tea --served by the Edinburgh Church and shared by nearly a hundred. Next came our closing public service, the topic being "Millennial Hopes and Prospects." At 9.45 we were at the railway station with a delegation of the local church to bid farewell to the 34 visiting Glasgow brethren and sisters. This was a general farewell and again "God be with you till we meet again" was sung with zest. We will never forget our Scotch brethren and their urgent request that we come again. As evidencing the zeal of dear friends here we mention that quite a number came as much as 400 miles journey to attend this convention;
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and one dear sister (from Shetland Islands, north of Scotland) when bidding us good-bye, said, "I am sure that not many came so far to see the King as I have come to meet you; I have travelled by land and sea for two days and two nights to get here, and now it will take two days and two nights to reach home again." We assured the dear sister of our deep appreciation of her Christian love, and that we accepted the compliment not personally, but as a mark of her love for the great King of kings, who has honored us in permitting us to dispense present truth-- the harvest message--now in its due time.
Faithfully, your brother and servant in the Lord,
CHARLES T. RUSSELL.
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THE APOSTLE PAUL AT ROME.
--`ACTS 28:16-24,30,31`.--JUNE 14.--
Golden Text.--"I am not ashamed of
the Gospel of Christ."--`Rom. 1:16`.
DOUBTLESS the favorable impression made by the Apostle Paul upon the centurion who brought him prisoner to Rome--the evidence which the latter had on the journey, in the storm, in the shipwreck, and subsequently during the stay at Malta--combined with the favorable letter sent by Festus to Caesar explaining that the charges against the Apostle were evidently the results of religious hatred, etc., secured for him very different treatment from that usually accorded to prisoners sent to Rome. He was treated as a prisoner to the extent that he was continually chained to a guard, a Roman soldier, responsible for his appearance whenever demanded. These guards were changed every few hours, so that, on the whole, probably a considerable number of the garrison had personal contact with the Apostle, knew his manner of living most intimately, and many of them must have heard his teaching and preaching to the numbers of Jews and Christians who visited him. It is surmised, --not without grounds, we think,--that some of these soldiers, who were subsequently sent to Great Britain, carried the gospel thither. Certain it was that the Apostle's life was a living epistle which cannot have been without its effect, either for the blessing or the hardening of those with whom he came in contact--to some a savor of life unto life; to others a savor of death unto death--according as they received or rejected the knowledge and light. The same should be true of all the Lord's followers to the extent of their abilities and opportunities; each should let his light so shine as to glorify the Father. Business acquaintances, social friends, neighbors, relatives,--all should know exactly where we stand on all questions of righteousness, as well as what is the foundation for our faith and hopes.
We are informed that Paul dwelt in his own hired house--more properly apartments, not necessarily an entire building. The expenses of maintaining such a residence, where numbers of people could be invited, must have been considerable, and evidently the Apostle did not here continue his trade of tent-making. It is possible that his necessities were supplied by his friends at Rome and elsewhere: it is possible also that by this time, in the Lord's providence, he had inherited a considerable patrimony from his father's estate. The lesson in this particular is that God is able to supply all of our real needs in one way or another. It is for us to do with our might what our
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hands find to do, using our time and strength and talents in the Lord's service to the best of our judgment, and leaving all arrangements as well as results in his hand. No doubt it was to the Apostle's advantage that for a time he was left in penury and found it necessary to labor, working with his hands for life's necessities while he was preaching the good tidings. Thus he demonstrated his loyalty to the Lord, to the truth, to the brethren, to principle; and thus he set us an example along these lines which, doubtless, has since been profitable to many of the Lord's followers.
Paul had a considerable number of kinsmen and acquaintances in Rome, the number of whom we know was at least over thirty-two according to the salutations of his epistle written to them previously at Corinth. (`Rom. 16:1-15`.) Doubtless these were informed of the Apostle's arrival and visited him speedily. But our lesson calls our attention particularly to the Apostle's energy in seeking to be about the Master's business, --seeking to make known the good tidings to those who as yet had not heard it. Three days after his arrival in Rome he sent forth an invitation requesting the leading Jews there to visit him. We can learn a good lesson from this in harmony with the Apostle's words, "Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." Our chief business, like his, should be the Lord's service; the comfortable fixing of our abode and our fellowship with our friends and relatives should not occupy the most important part of our time. We should remember the Apostle's words, "This one thing I do"; and applying them to ourselves we should be "instant [unceasingly] in season and out of season [when convenient and when inconvenient to ourselves]" in our service of our Lord and his cause.
The Jews accepted the invitation and visited the Apostle: doubtless they came readily for several reasons. First, all the Jews residing in Rome had been subject to persecution, which had some three years previously driven Aquila and Priscilla from the city. This persecution had now to some extent abated, but doubtless it had left the hearts of the Jews in a much humbler condition than they would otherwise have been. Persecutions certainly have their value to the Lord's people; they help to make us tender-hearted, compassionate and sympathetic with others, as well as help to polish and develop us in Christian character. Secondly, the Jews were, doubtless, interested in a fellow-countryman in distress, and specially interested in one whom they found to be so peculiarly treated by the Roman government--one granted so great liberty as Paul enjoyed. The Lord's providence was certainly in this matter, and the Apostle's peculiar form of restraint was evidently favorable to the cause he represented. The Jews would certainly beware how they would raise a commotion against one who, though a prisoner, was treated with such consideration, and one who was under the direct protection of a soldier, and for violence to whom they would be directly responsible to Julius, who is supposed to have been the perfect of the Praetorium, or "captain of the guard," of that time--a man of good repute. It was while a prisoner in his own house that the Apostle found favorable opportunity for writing several of his epistles--to the Philippians, to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Colossians. Doubtless the two years spent in prison in Caesarea were valuable to the Apostle himself, as giving him more abundant opportunity for further study of the divine plan than he could have enjoyed while engaged continually in the mission work. Now this added experience and grasp of the gospel found their expression in the epistles referred to, and were communicated to the Church at Rome. We should remember, too, that Rome was the very center of influence at that time, that from its influences radiated in every direction. Thus we see the Lord's guidance in the Apostle's affairs, and applying the lesson to ourselves it impresses upon us his assurance that "all things shall work together for good to those who love God, to the called ones according to his purpose." Consoled with this promise we can endure trials and disappointments, even though at the time we cannot see how such experiences will ever work good. Thus we learn that
"Faith can firmly trust him,
Come what may."
To the chief Jews who visited him the Apostle explained briefly the cause of the opposition of the Jews, the necessity of his appeal to Caesar and the assurance that he had naught whereof to accuse his own nation. His nobility of character is prominently before us at every turn of his affairs. How many less noble minds would have felt embittered against their own nation! How many would have charged the rulers of it in immoderate terms for their injustice, hypocrisy, etc.! We love the Apostle all the more because we discern in his course the true, noble, Christian spirit and principle. Let us seek to emulate his example, not only in respect to what we shall say of earthly laws and rulers, but let us also apply the same rule to all who seek to do us injury; let us not render evil for evil and railing for railing, but let us remember how it is written of our Lord that "when he was reviled he reviled not again."
Mark the wisdom of the Apostle in handling his subject: He not only showed no unkindness of sentiment toward those who had been the cause of his imprisonment, but he declared to his hearers that he was bearing his bondage because of the hope of Israel. He
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was not seeking for their sympathy; he was seeking to turn their hearts to the Lord. Hence, as soon as possible in his narrative he directed their attention to this central fact, that Israel had a hope, and that it was because of his loyalty to Israel and Israel's hope that he was suffering imprisonment.
Kindness often begets kindness (though not always), and the Jews responded in most considerate terms that they knew nothing against the Apostle and that they would be pleased to hear his story from his own lips. They admitted, however, that they had some prejudice against the doctrines he advocated because they had heard unfavorable reports concerning Christianity--that "everywhere it is spoken against."
The nearer we approach to the truth the more likely we are to find numerous enemies. Good men and bad men may have both friends and enemies, but it is reserved to the pure gospel and those who uphold it to be everywhere spoken against--to have few zealous friends outside its own little consecrated band; but it will not always be so. It is so now because we are still living in an epoch known spiritually as "this present evil world" (`Gal. 1:4`), and because Satan is the god of this world, who now worketh in the children of disobedience, blinding their eyes to the truth and constraining them to hate the light and oppose it. By and by Satan will be bound, and his deluded subjects will have the eyes of their understanding opened (`Isa. 35:5`; `Rev. 20:1`): "then shall ye return"--turn about-- see things from the divine standpoint, and discern between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not--discern a marked difference from the present time--that evil doers will suffer, and that those who do the will of the Lord will be greatly blessed and no longer be everywhere spoken against.
The Apostle did not attempt to preach the gospel at this first interview, but simply introduced himself and his message and made an appointment for a future meeting, at which, according to the Greek text, a great number gathered, to whom he expounded the matter, testifying the Kingdom of God and persuading them concerning Jesus--from morning until evening. We can imagine the substance of this long discourse: it evidently was along the same lines as our Lord's words to the two with whom he went to Emmaus after his resurrection, when he opened unto them the Scriptures --showing the types of the Law, the necessity for an antitypical sin-offering and the necessity for an antitypical Prophet, Priest and King; the predictions of the Prophets concerning these things; the words of David, of Isaiah, of Jeremiah, of Zechariah, Joel, etc., etc. Doubtless, too, the Apostle gave an account of the purity of our Lord's life and teachings, and narrated the facts proving his resurrection, and his own witness that the Lord was no longer a man, but a glorious being, whose presence when seen by the Apostle shone above the brightness of the sun at noonday. Doubtless, too, he pointed out the high calling of the Church, and that this opportunity for becoming spiritual Israel was accorded first of all to fleshly Israel; and that the Gentiles, nevertheless, according to the words of the prophets, would be called in to fill up, to complete the elect number that God had predestinated to this glory. Doubtless he showed that the call involved suffering, sacrifice and self-denial now on the part of those who would share in the glories of the heavenly Kingdom as it will be established at the second coming of Messiah, and the resurrection of the Church, which is his body.
As is always the case, the truth proved a separator, and we are not surprised to find that among those who were interested enough, and curious enough, to desire to hear the Apostle, some believed and some disbelieved. The truth in the harvest time of this age has a similar effect: it is a sickle which both gathers the wheat to the garner and separates the tares. Paul was not responsible for the effect of the truth upon his hearers. He earnestly desired to do them good, and used his very best endeavors to present the truth wisely, but the responsibility lay then with the hearers, not with Paul, nor with the Lord. It is the Lord's intention that the truth shall attract only the one class --the pure in heart, the Israelites indeed--and that it should separate and antagonize those who are not in the right condition of heart, but are moved even in their religious devotions by selfishness. So we find matters today; not all are ready for the present truth. Some who are noble and generous in many respects have a prejudice of mind, or heart, which hinders them from being able to receive the good tidings. With some it is love of the sect, or party, with which they are identified, and whose teachings must be more or less antagonistic to the truth because of the error they contain; with others the difficulty is the fear of man, which bringeth a snare--the fear of greater unpopularity and the realization that faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ would mean self-sacrifice. The Lord is using just such testings now as then to separate the wheat from the tares, the gold from the dross. We can not expect that he will do otherwise for us or for any, and our prayers and endeavors must be in the direction of thorough honesty with the Lord, with the brethren and with his truth--the love of the truth being above all things else. The Lord's declaration respecting the class that will fall in this time of testing is that he will send them strong delusion, that they will believe a lie, because they received not the truth in the love of it.--`2 Thess. 2:10,11`.
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The good work thus promptly and thoroughly begun, we doubt not, was continued by the Apostle with fervency during the remainder of the two years he was a prisoner. He was not privileged to go out and make public discourses in Rome, for at that time the Emperor was not only the head of everything social and political, but also the ecclesiastical head of the world, and any new religion would be under special restraint in Rome, the seat of the imperial government. Hence, in all probability Paul's condition as a prisoner --at liberty to receive all who would come to him-- was the best not only for him, but for the cause he represented. We are reminded here that some are kept prisoners at home by family duties, or illness, or other bonds of obligation or necessity, and that where such conditions prevail the Lord's people should both pray and expect that the Lord would bring to them such as might be benefitted by their ministries of the truth. Let us each be zealous to use our opportunities, whether our advantages be great or small, and let us rely upon it that the Lord knows our condition and is able to change it according to his good pleasure and wisdom. Under the existing conditions, no one was able to forbid the Apostle, or to restrain him, from speaking with the utmost confidence and boldness the truths pertaining to the Lord Jesus and the Kingdom of God which he would establish at his second advent--the present Gospel age being for the selection and polishing and testing of those who will be joint-heirs with him in that Kingdom. Let us be faithful and let us see to it that our ministries, both public and private, be along these lines--that we do not permit any other gospel to take the place of this one which the Lord has committed to us. We note incidentally that we are living in a day of many gospels--the gospel of socialism, the gospel of health by proper living, the gospel of faith cures, mind cures, hypnotic cures, etc.; the gospel of various sciences; the gospel of the power of the will, etc., etc. Whatever their advocates may say about these gospels, let us remember that none of these is the gospel which the Lord and his apostles committed to us; let us inquire for the old paths and let us keep them faithfully until by and by we shall hear the Master's words, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord." Then we shall know as we are known; then we shall understand much better than the various theories of the present time could possibly instruct us. If we win the great prize it must be, in any event, at the cost of our present earthly lives; and, hence, the gospel of health is in some respects in direct antagonism to the gospel of sacrifice which we preach. By this we do not mean that the Lord's people should be negligent of health; but we do mean that it should in their estimation be so secondary to the gospel of God's dear Son and the glory to be attained through him and through association in his sacrifice, that earthly life and earthly health and earthly physical development should be loss and dross in comparison.
Here the narrative of the Apostle's work ends. Tradition tells us that the Apostle was liberated at the end of the two years; that he again visited the churches of Asia Minor and, subsequently, made a visit to Spain, preaching the gospel; and that later on he came to Rome again a prisoner without favor, and that he suffered martyrdom after spending a considerable time imprisoned in the Mamertine prison, a dread dungeon in Rome. Tradition says that his Roman citizenship saved him from crucifixion, and that he was, instead, decapitated. St. Paul's Cathedral at Rome is said to have been built near the site of his execution.
It was probably during this latter imprisonment that the Apostle wrote his epistles to Timothy and Titus, in one of which (`2 Tim. 4:7,8`) he declares, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also who love his appearing." As we note the noble character of this dear brother in the Lord, we all desire to emulate it and thus to be copies of the Lord Jesus. And now we have approached, we believe, close to the termination of the narrow way, close to the time when we hope to hear the Master's "Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Let us, therefore, be encouraged the more to buckle on tightly the armor, and to fight the good fight faithfully to the close, that we may with the Apostle share the crown of rejoicing which the Lord has promised to all who love him supremely--even unto death.
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PAUL'S CHARGE TO TIMOTHY.
--`2 TIM. 3:14-4:8`.--JUNE 21.--
"There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness."
A DREADFUL conflagration burst forth in the City of Rome a few months after Paul was set at liberty, which laid waste a large area of the city during the six days it continued. Nero, the Emperor, "enjoyed the dreadful sight from a turret of his palace, singing and dancing the mime of the 'burning of Troy' during the progress of the national catastrophe." It was rumored that Nero himself caused
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the fire, and to avert suspicion he had it charged to innocent Christians, of whom, it would appear, there was a considerable number by that time. Christians, being unpopular with their heathen as well as their Jewish neighbors, were made the scapegoats, and they suffered dreadfully. One very careful account says: "Multitudes of every age, of every sex, were arrested. They were slain with the sword; they were exposed in amphitheaters; they were covered with the skins of wild beasts to be torn to pieces by dogs; they were wrapped in sheets of pitch, tied to stakes and set on fire. Nero drove among the people in his chariot, lighted by the flare of these hideous human torches."
The Lord's faithful of today ought to be prepared to suffer similarly for the truth, whether called upon to do so or not. It seems improbable that anything so dreadful should occur in our enlightened day; and yet we have various Scriptural reasons for expecting that within ten years all who stand faithfully and boldly for the truth will suffer to a considerable extent--some of them quite probably even unto death. What charge could be brought against them? We answer, the same charge that could be brought against their brethren of Paul's day--they are unpopular; the world hates them; their loyalty to truth and principle will hinder them from being highly esteemed among men, and probably make them the scapegoat of evil-doers.
It was about two years after this conflagration and persecution that the Apostle was arrested, imprisoned, and, very shortly after, beheaded; and it was while waiting in his prison that he wrote his second epistle to Timothy, who was, apparently, at the time with the Church at Ephesus--where tradition says he remained until his own martyrdom, which probably occurred about thirty years later, in A.D. 96. Our lesson is based upon extracts from this letter to Timothy; it urges him with Mark to visit him at Rome, but he was beheaded before they reached there. The grandeur of the sentiments expressed, the confidence and hope, can be appreciated only when we remember the circumstances bearing upon the Apostle at the time they were written. Realizing that he had come to the end of his own course, he sought to impress as much as possible of his own spirit and zeal upon Timothy--that he might be the more faithful and efficient servant of God. The exhortation is specially applicable to all who seek in any manner to minister to others--and this really includes all of the Lord's people, each one of whom should be a living epistle showing forth and speaking forth the Lord's message as his ambassador. Let us each apply to himself the words of this lesson.
Timothy is first reminded of how great his privileges had been--that he was well born, under religious instruction from his infancy. He is reminded, too, in a most modest manner, of how he had received his understanding of the Scriptures through the Apostle, and had been assured that the instructions were of God-- that the Apostle spoke as an oracle of God; "He that heareth us, heareth God." The Apostle points to the Word of God as a great light, or lamp, able to make wise unto salvation. He must have referred chiefly to the Old Testament, since the New Testament was not yet completed; but no one will doubt that if the Old Testament is valuable for the instruction of the Lord's people, the New Testament is still more valuable as its key and elucidation. The Apostle's words give the thought that these divine instructions are for the purpose of making the Lord's people wise unto salvation, --of showing them how they may please God and be acceptable to him under the terms of his covenant. However, the Apostle carefully guards the matter by indicating that such wisdom cannot be unto salvation except through the faith that is in Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus must be recognized as the antitypical Prophet, Priest and King, and must have reverence and obedience as such to the extent of our ability, else there can be no salvation. Ours is not a gospel of works merely, but a gospel of faith, which acknowledges that we cannot perform the works which we recognize to be perfect, but must needs have the merit of our Redeemer imputed to us.
We live in a time when the Bible is more generally in the hands of the people than ever before, but in a time when its inspiration is more generally doubted than it has been for centuries. Only a short time ago the opponents of the Bible, Paine, Voltaire, Ingersoll, et al., were called infidels; but today its opponents and traducers are found in the majority of the pulpits of Christendom, and in the Professors' chairs of nearly all its colleges and seminaries. This recent view holds the Bible to be worthy of reverence because of its age, but not as a revelation from God; it places the Bible alongside of Shakespeare, and draws comparisons in favor of the latter; it attempts to question not only the inspiration of the book, but even its reliability as history. So virulent is this attack that the faith of all Christendom is being shaken to its foundation, and our expectation is that within ten years there will be a distinct cleavage between those who accept the Word of God and those who reject it, and that amongst those professing the name of Christian the unbelievers will be an hundred-fold more numerous than the believers. This will form a part of the great falling away predicted for that day: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
The best proofs respecting the inspiration of the Scriptures are to be found on the inside--in the divine plan of the ages which it records with such grand harmony.
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The trouble with the higher critics is that they do not see this internal evidence, but, on the contrary, have accepted the incongruous and unreasonable theories of the dark ages which misrepresent the real teachings of the Bible, and these higher critics are now showing the book (which they believe to be full of inconsistencies) from the outside--endeavoring to prove that it was not written by the people whose names are attached to its various parts. To those who see the divine plan which the book contains, these arguments of the higher critics respecting the authorship of the parts are of little weight; for it matters not to us who wrote the books, so long as we see they contain the elements of a divine plan so stupendously grand that we are confident no human mind conceived it or could have depicted it.
That the Apostle was a firm believer in the inspiration of the Scriptures is evidenced by his declaration, found in this lesson, to the effect that "all Scripture [holy writings] given by inspiration of God, is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for rebuke, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
In harmony with this testimony of Paul respecting inspired writings, we have the words of the Apostle Peter assuring us that holy men of old spoke as they were moved by the holy spirit. (`2 Pet. 1:21`.) It seems difficult for some to understand how this inspiration could be, and yet the individuality of the writer be maintained. The matter, however, becomes very clear and simple when we consider that God was able to inspire the sentiments and leave much of the clothing of those sentiments to the judgment and taste and mannerism of the prophet, merely overruling where necessary to hinder any misstatement which might prove injurious, and to secure an exactly proper statement of a necessary item.*
How true are the Apostle's words that the teachings of this wonderful book are profitable! What other book ever so inspired us with hopes and joys eternal, and of newness of life in order to attain this? What other book ever proved valuable to so large a number for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness? --None. The value of all other books is in proportion to their fidelity to the teachings of this Book of books. What is true of teachers is true also of books written by teachers: "If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them."-- `Isa. 8:20`.
Not only can no man of God be "complete and thoroughly furnished unto every good work" without the assistance of the Bible, but it is admitted even by worldly men that no man's education is complete without a considerable knowledge of this wonderful Book. The Lord's people who are growing in grace and in knowledge are daily becoming more convinced of their need of the instructions which flow from this Book, by whatever silver tongues and helping hands of explanatory writings the interpretation may come.
After thus laying down the foundation of Timothy's established faith, and after thus urging him to abide, or continue, in those things which he had learned, the Apostle proceeds to deliver his dying charge. He sets the matter forth in a most solemn form, according to the Greek--"I adjure thee [I most solemnly urge upon you, therefore] before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his Kingdom." We may accept these urgent words from the Apostle as applicable to ourselves. We, also, stand before God; we,
*We refer the reader to MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., especially to Chap. 3, "The Bible as a Divine Revelation, Viewed in the Light of Reason."
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also, are trusting in his favor for eternal life; we, also, are adopted into his family, and as sons are hoping to have such experiences as will fit and prepare us for the glorious things the Father has promised to them that love him. We, also, have respect to the Lord Jesus and his appearing and Kingdom--hoping to have a share with him in those future glories and grand opportunities. We, also, remember that that Kingdom is to judge the world, and to judge the fallen angels--the latter, the quick, the living, who have never passed into death, but are restrained by chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day; the former, the race of mankind to which we belong by nature, children of wrath even as others, all of whom are dead, under sentence of death. Hoping for a share in all these glorious privileges, what manner of persons ought we to be! Let us hearken to the charge further:--
"Preach the Word!" All of the Lord's people are teachers; as it is written, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good tidings," etc. This anointing of the spirit which came upon our Lord, the Head of the Church, comes down to, and covers every member of the body, anointing each one similarly to preach the good tidings, the Word of God's grace and mercy and peace through Jesus--to all who have an ear to hear. The Christian washerwoman is to preach this message; so is the Christian business man and laborer and housewife, each according to his opportunities--and there are surely some opportunities for all. All should be able to show forth the praises of him who hath called us "out of darkness into his marvelous light" (`1 Pet. 2:9`); --should be living epistles known and read of all men. We are to consider the preaching of the Word
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to be the chief business of life, and the earning of a living and keeping ourselves in comfort to be secondary and incidental to the one vocation to which we are called of the Lord. He who would hold back the word of truth must surely do so for a reason, and the reason cannot be a proper one. If he has received the truth in the love of it, he will love to tell it forth; and any restraint will, therefore, indicate either that he is subject to the fear of man or ashamed of the Lord and his Word; and the Master has declared that such are not fit for the Kingdom--not fit to be of the Bride class, whatever else they may be fit for.--`Luke 9:62`.
"Be instant in season and out of season." This cannot mean that we are to violate the laws of reason and decency by intruding the good tidings upon others at times inconvenient and unseasonable to them; but it does mean that we are to have such a love for the truth, such an earnest desire to serve it, that we will gladly accept the opportunity to do so, however inconvenient it may be for ourselves. It is the chief business of our lives, to which life itself even is subservient, and hence, no opportunity for service must be laid aside. (Aug 28 Manna)
"Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine." This part of the exhortation is not alike applicable to all; too many feel at liberty to reprove and to rebuke. Doubtless many need reproofs and many need rebukes, but how few are able to administer these to profit and not to injury! The Apostle addressed these words in a particular sense to Timothy as an experienced elder in the Church of Christ, and to some extent an overseer amongst the elders. It would be a great mistake to apply these words in general, and for each of the Lord's people to see to what extent he could administer reproofs and rebukes to his brethren. Rather should sympathy go out to such an extent that reproofs and rebukes would be avoided, except as duty, because of responsibility in the Church of God, should necessitate this. Even so experienced an elder and overseer as Timothy must see to it that his reproving and rebuking and exhorting should be done with all longsuffering--with patience, gentleness and forbearance, and with doctrine (`2 Tim. 4:2`); showing clearly wherein the principles of righteousness were infringed and pointing out distinctly the Word of the Lord concerning the same. This duty still rests upon those who occupy places of prominence in the Church to which they have in the Lord's providence been appointed; and in proportion as they are filled with the Lord's spirit of love and gentleness and meekness and patience and forbearance, they will strive to perform this delicate and unpleasant business of reproving and rebuking, where necessary, in most modest language and under the most favorable conditions.
Without knowing how long it would be from his day until the harvest, the end of the age, the Apostle did know distinctly from the Scriptures that a great falling away would come and that the end of the age would be a period of special trial amongst the Lord's people, when every man's work would be tested; as he elsewhere wrote, "The fire of that day shall prove every man's work of what sort it is." In `verses 3 and 4` of our lesson he describes the conditions which prevail today in the nominal churches. The time has come when sound doctrine is not endured, when the faithful ministers of the Word are considered back numbers, and when up-to-date higher critics are wanted for all the high-salaried pulpits. The Revised Version says, "Having itching ears will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts [desires], and will turn away their ears from the truth and turn aside unto fables." How true to the facts! In scarcely any of the pulpits of Christendom are the truths of God's Word set forth. The great mass of preaching is largely composed of anecdotes or delineations of science, often falsely so called, or essays on politics, social uplift, etc. The preaching of the Lord is obsolete because the hearts of men have been turned largely from the Word of God to the great Adversary's deceptions--putting darkness for light and misrepresenting the Bible through the creeds of the various churches.
But what should be the attitude of the true soldier of the Cross at such a time? The faithful ministers of the truth, whether they teach merely by example or precept, or by the printed page or orally,--what should be their attitude? It is clearly pointed out by the Apostle saying, "Watch thou in all things, endure affliction [suffer hardships], do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry"--demonstrate what you have professed and what you know to be the truth, that you are a servant of God and not of man, that you are loyal as an ambassador of the great King in delivering none other than the message he sends.
As clinching this earnest appeal for faithfulness to the Word of the Lord, the Apostle refers to himself-- that he must give up the fight; that the end of his life course was apparently in sight; the time of his departure from life was at hand. How we can rejoice that he could and did write the burning words of `verses 7 and 8`, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith," etc. As we glance through the Apostle's history we concur with his judgment, and see that he was not boasting; but was a faithful follower in the footsteps of Jesus; that he did make a good fight for right, for principle, for truth, for the Lord against sin and selfishness; that notwithstanding its narrowness and ruggedness, he did run faithfully over the course from the time that he started in
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it; that he did keep the faith to the close, at the cost of self-denial, of self-sacrifice, hardships and persecutions. And here we must remember that keeping the faith is not merely keeping it in us, but is in the sense of faithfully declaring it; for whoever does not declare the good tidings to others will soon lose the faith himself. Let us press along the line toward the same mark for the same prize of joint-heirship with the Lord; and if when we come to the close of life we can say, as did the Apostle, that we have fought well all along the course and kept the faith, the Lord will not say to us that we did not do as much as the Apostle Paul or as much as the Lord Jesus, but having done what we could, having been faithful in the few things and in the small talents entrusted to us, we will hear the welcome words, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord."
These joys of the Lord the Apostle refers to as a crown of righteousness. The Apostles James and John speak of the same crown and call it the crown of life. (`Jas. 1:12`; `Rev. 2:10`), and the Apostle Peter speaking of the same calls it the crown of glory. (`1 Pet. 5:4`.) The thought at the bottom of each of these expressions is evidently the same; namely, the custom in olden times of running races and the giving of a crown to the successful runner at the end of the course. As it was not sufficient to enter a race, or start to run, but it was required that the race be run faithfully and perseveringly to a conclusion, so with this race which we are running as followers of Jesus, it is essential not only that we shall make consecration to the Lord, but that we persevere to the end, and our reward will be the crown of life in the sense that we will get life on the highest plane, inherent life, immortality. It will be a crown of righteousness in the sense that only those who are approved of God as righteous will thus be rewarded and glorified; and our hope is, therefore, that we may be accepted in the Beloved; that the righteousness of the Lord may be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit; and that the rewards which God has promised to those who love him and serve him will be granted to us. The crown of glory is another name for the same grand reward--the glory of the Kingdom, the glory of immortality, the glory of the Father's favor, the glory of being joint-heirs with Christ in his Kingdom.
The Apostle declares that his crown is laid up for him; he did not claim to possess it at the time, except by faith, and he had never seen it except by the eye of faith. This laying up of crowns is an expressive figure. The Scriptural thought seems to be that when justified
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believers make a full consecration to the Lord and are accepted as members of the body of Christ, their names are written in the Lamb's book of life, and crowns are set apart for them. If they are faithful their names will never be blotted out and their crowns will never be given to others, but if unfaithful others will be permitted to take their places upon the roll of honor and attain to their inheritance to the crown, their share in the Kingdom.--`Rev. 3:11`; `Rev. 3:5`.
The Lord, the righteous Judge, will determine the matter of unworthiness for the crowns. The Apostle's language elsewhere in this letter seems to imply that some who did have confidence in him had lost their confidence, and in the heat of trial had deserted him. "At my first defense no one took my part,
PETER AND PAUL.
"In the Vatican library at Rome is preserved a bronze medal with the heads of Peter and Paul, which was found in the cemetery of Domitilia, one of the Flavian family, and if genuine is no doubt the earliest portraiture known of the two great apostles. The medal is referred to the close of the first century or the beginning of the second, and at this early period the features of the two apostles must have been faithfully preserved. Both heads are full of character, and that of Paul in particular is distinguished by solemnity and dignity, and the thoughtful and wrinkled brow indicates the high intellect that so remarkably characterized the man."
but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their charge." (`2 Tim. 4:16`.) He here intimates that he cannot even accept the judgment of the brethren respecting his faithfulness, but that he has appealed his case in the fullest sense of the word to the great Lord and Judge who shall finally determine these matters for him and for all. He is a righteous Judge and, therefore, will not condemn any who are seeking, to the best of their ability, to serve and praise him. He will approve such, but being a righteous Judge none may venture to hope that he will approve that which is evil, unrighteous, unfaithful; hence, if our hearts condemn us not we may have peace with God.
The Apostle was not expecting his crown of righteousness, the crown of life, the crown of glory, at the moment of death; but pointed Timothy forward to the
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second coming of Christ, and the general giving of rewards, as the Lord has promised, "at that day." We rejoice to believe that we are living "in that day," and hence that the Apostle is no longer waiting, but has received his crown during this harvest time, and we expect that those who are now alive and remain need not wait, but that when the hour of death shall come to them there will be no need of sleeping to wait for a future time, but the death change will mean the immediate entrance into the glorious conditions referred to by the Apostle.
The Apostle distinctly points out that although he, with the other apostles, occupied a high position in the Church of Christ, this did not signify that only the Lord and the apostles were to be crowned as victors; on the contrary, he includes all of the faithful ones of this Gospel age; saying that the crown of righteousness is not for him only, but "for all those who love his appearing." Ah! the loving of his appearing is indeed a close test, whether applied now or in the Apostle's day! The Apostle himself could not have looked forward with joy to the day of Christ's revelation in Kingdom power and glory, if he had not felt that he had fought a good fight and kept the faith courageously; and so it must be with all others who have named the name of Christ and started to run in this Gospel race for the heavenly prize. If they are overcharged with the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches in any sense, they will put far from them the thought of the Lord's presence and Kingdom; they will not be looking for it and longing for it; they will not be loving it. Those who love the Lord's appearing must of necessity love the Lord himself, and this will mean that the love of Christ will constrain them to endeavor to serve him and those who are his. John Calvin remarks, "Paul excludes from the number of the faithful those to whom Christ's coming is a source of terror."
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Golden Text: "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom."--`2 Tim. 4:18`.
IT will, undoubtedly, be advantageous to us to glance back in review over the wonderful experiences covered by the Sunday School lessons of the ending quarter. They extend over a period of about thirty years--from the resurrection of Jesus to the end of Paul's imprisonment in Rome, about A.D. 62. The dominating thought through these lessons is the earnestness of the early Church in the service of the Lord, that earnestness being based upon the strong conviction that Christ's death had been the redemption-price for mankind; that the Church was now being called out to be members with Christ in his Kingdom; that the necessary experiences for participation in the Kingdom would be such loyalty to the Lord and to the truth and to the brethren as, under present conditions of sin, would lead to suffering and self-sacrifice on the part of all the faithful; and that the Kingdom to be especially for the blessing of all the families of the earth would bring to the faithful suffering ones of this present time, glory, honor and immortality, which would much more than compensate them for every sacrifice, every trial and every sorrow.
Another of the important lessons of this quarter, repeatedly clinched in the various experiences of the Apostle Paul, is expressed clearly in the Golden Text-- namely, the Lord's ability to deliver his people from all the machinations of the Adversary and his blind emissaries. He who was faithful in the Apostle's case is none the less so today in respect to our affairs. Furthermore, the Golden Text suggests to us the very happifying thought that our Lord is not only able to deliver us from all these human enemies and from the Adversary, but that he is able also to preserve us from the last enemy--death. The Apostle at the time of writing these words was in almost hourly expectation of martyrdom--that he would go down into the portals of the tomb--yet he had confidence in the Lord that he would not leave his soul in Hades; he had confidence in our glorious hopes in respect to all the members of the Church, expressed in the words, "The gates of hell [Hades--the state of death] shall not prevail against it." The grave has prevailed against the Church, not only against the great Head of the flock, but against all the members of his body, and the Adversary has seen to it that many of them came to death ignominiously, as malefactors, as deceivers, although true. But we have the Lord's assurance for it that this was not the end--that in due time, in the resurrection morning, all who have gone down into death will be delivered; that he, the Son of Man, would take unto himself his great power, and open the prison doors and set at liberty the captives of death, his own loved ones being the first to participate in the First Resurrection to glory, honor and immortality, and then being used of him as his co-laborers in the great work of delivering all the captives of the tomb, bringing all to the knowledge of the truth, and permitting as many as will to come back to life everlasting, perfection.
In this way the Apostle expected the Lord to preserve him, to keep him unto his heavenly Kingdom: he had no thought of death being an utter extinguishment of life; he had full confidence in the resurrection promise, and that the Lord was able to keep that which he had committed unto him against that day--that
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glorious Millennial morning--that glorious resurrection morning when the Kingdom would be established, and when the blessings of the Lord would be conferred first upon his faithful, as shown in the parables, and that subsequently all the families of the earth should be blessed through that Kingdom.--`Matt. 25:1-30`; `Luke 19:11-27`.