VOL. XXIII. APRIL 15, 1902. No. 8.
Great Voices in Heaven............................115
Time of the Dead--to be Judged................116
All Rewards and Punishments
Under Seventh Trumpet.......................117
Whose Are the Great Voices?...................117
The Privilege of the Service..................119
Volunteer Work for 1902.......................119
What Doth It Profit?..............................120
Noting Dispensational Changes.....................120
The Charges Against Peter.....................121
"The Disciples Were First Called
Christians at Antioch"......................123
An Interesting Question Answered..................126
Letters of Interest...............................127
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GREAT VOICES IN HEAVEN.
"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever."--`Rev. 11:15`. R.V.
WE ARE NOT SURPRISED that it is difficult for the Lord's people, and impossible for the world, to recognize clearly and distinctly the fulfilment of prophecy at the time of its fulfilment. It has ever been thus. Looking back to the first advent of our Lord, where many prophecies converged and met fulfilment, we notice with what difficulty even the "Israelites indeed" were then enabled to grasp the reality of their fulfilment. We remember how the Lord's brethren and his disciples, although in close contact with the Master, hearing him who "spake as never man spake," and seeing miracles performed such as had never been performed before, were, nevertheless, "slow to believe all the things written [concerning the Messiah] in the law and the prophets"--slow to realize the fulfilment of these predictions. Even John the Baptist, who realized that he had been specially commissioned of God to do the work of a forerunner, to introduce Messiah, and who had been given the token that the one upon whom he should see the dove descend, he might know to be the real Messiah,--after he had borne this witness to Jesus, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world"--after all this, was not thoroughly convinced of the fulfilment of either his own prophecies or the prophecies of others; and while languishing in prison sent messengers to our Lord inquiring, "Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?" Jesus offered him no new demonstration, but merely pointed out that the Scriptures were being fulfilled by him day by day,-- demonstrating that he was the very Christ.
Indeed, we see clearly that all prophecies were written with the divine intention that they should be so obscured as to be unintelligible except to a particular class for whom their information was intended; and to be made known to these only through the guidance and interpretation of the holy spirit. It is in perfect accord with this that we find that our Lord's teachings at his first advent were spoken in parables and dark sayings; that hearing his hearers, might not understand--except the few, the "Israelites indeed," the chosen, the elect. To these our Lord so explained his course; saying, "Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God; but unto them that are without [to outsiders] all these things are done in parables [and dark sayings];...that hearing they may hear and not understand." (`Mark 4:11,12`.) And these chosen "Israelites indeed" needed special instruction even after his resurrection; for we read that he explained unto them the Scriptures; saying, "Thus it is written and thus it behooved the Son of Man to suffer and to enter into his glory." Similarly it was with difficulty, and only under the guidance of the specially instructed apostles, that the primitive Church learned of the partial fulfilment of Joel's prophecy in the Pentecostal blessing; and, later on, were taught respecting the fulfilment of other prophecies through the widening of the message of reconciliation and joint-heirship in the Kingdom, so as to include such Gentiles as would come unto the Lord through faith and obedience.
These things being obviously true, we are not to wonder that the fulfilment of prophecies now, in the end of the Gospel age, in its harvest time, should be similarly obscure, and require elucidation, and then be comprehensible only to the true spiritual Israelites, now keenly awake, and seeking to know and to do the Lord's good pleasure. In the Millennial Dawn series, we have called attention to many of these prophetic fulfilments now transpiring;--to the end of the 6,000 years of the reign of evil, and to the opening of the seventh thousand, or period of rest and blessing;--to the great antitypical Jubilee, a thousand years long, in whose beginning we are now living, and whose trumpets of Jubilee announcement are now antitypically being blown in the proclamation of the restitution of all things which God hath
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spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets (`Acts 3:21`); --to the "Times of the Gentiles" whose full end will be with a great time of trouble, political, ecclesiastical, social, witnessing the full establishment of Christ's Kingdom upon the ruins of present institutions; --to the close of the 2,300 days of Daniel's prophecy, and the cleansing of God's antitypical temple, the true Church, from the defilement of the dark ages, as now being due;--to the end of the 1,335 days of Daniel's prophecy which were to bring in the present "harvest" time, which, as foretold, has brought, and is bringing to God's people great joy and blessings through an expanded view of the divine plan of salvation, enabling them to appreciate better the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of the love of God, which manifests itself in the divine plan; --to the completion of the parallels between fleshly Israel, the type, and spiritual Israel, the antitype, by which we see that we are now in the "harvest" of the present age, and can know what to expect in its remaining years if we look back at the closing years of the Jewish harvest, the type. As our Lord Jesus said to some of his faithful ones when explaining the prophecies due at the first advent, so, also, might now be applied, to some of God's people, the Master's words,--"Oh, slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken."
Our text is another prophecy which we believe applies in this harvest time, and which, consequently, has a beginning of its fulfilment now. As already pointed out in these columns, we, in common with almost all expositors, recognize that the seven trumpets of Revelation are symbolical and not literal-- indeed that this entire book is a book of symbols, and that so far it has been symbolically fulfilled. Christian people in general understand that five of these trumpets have already "sounded" and are in the past;-- we would say six. It is admitted that those that have already "sounded" have not been literal blasts of a bugle on the air, but divine decrees and their fulfilments; and we esteem that it is reasonable to expect that the seventh trumpet will be similar in this respect to the preceding six. But literal things are so much more easily received by the natural man that, even though absurd, they commend themselves as instead of the truth,--until our minds are guided of the holy spirit into the proper channel by "comparing spiritual things with spiritual"--by comparing the seventh trumpet with the preceding six trumpets, and not with a natural blast upon the air. So firmly entrenched is the error that many advanced Christians, Bible students and ministers are really expecting some day to hear what is sometimes denominated "Gabriel's horn," shrill enough and loud enough to awaken the dead. It is both proper and necessary that we exercise great patience with Christian brethren, who thus display their infantile development of knowledge in respect to spiritual things, while we point out to them that this seventh trumpet--"The Last Trumpet"--"The Trump of God," is as much symbolic as were its predecessors, and marks a much larger and more important fulfilment than any of them. Its fulfilment extends through a period of 1,000 years; its events mark and coincide with all the various features of the Millennial reign of Christ. Its beginning, we understand, was in 1878, and its termination will be a thousand years future from that date. It will be "sounding" for all that time--during which its events will be in process of accomplishment.
What the events represented by this Seventh Trumpet are, is briefly explained in the verses following our text (`17,18`). The first feature of this Trumpet is the announcement of Christ's Kingdom in the earth--the assumption of his great office, the beginning of his reign. This, as we have already shown from other Scriptures, was chronologically due to begin in 1878. The results of this assumption of authority by Messiah follow in due course as narrated. (1) "The nations were angry and thy wrath is come." The laying of judgment to the line and justice to the plummet, and the sweeping away of the refuge of lies, an early feature in our Lord's reign, as described in the prophecy of Isaiah (`Isa. 28:17`), will necessarily result in great commotion in the affairs of the "present evil world"; because its social, financial, political and religious conditions and arrangements will not square with the Lord's line and plummet of righteousness. And because he will not
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put a new patch upon an old garment, present institutions in their entirety will be overthrown, as has been predicted, in the "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation"--no, nor ever shall be afterward. How graphically in a few words is this trouble pointed out,--"The nations were angry, and thy wrath is come."
TIME OF THE DEAD--TO BE JUDGED.
Then follows a statement of the object of the establishment of the Kingdom upon the ruins of present institutions; namely, because that will be "the time of the dead that they should be judged." The dead--who are they but the whole human family which came under divine sentence of death? "Death has passed upon all men, for that all are sinners." Only those who have heard of and have received Jesus upon divine conditions have life; all the remainder of mankind, from the divine standpoint, are dead --under sentence of death, and rapidly hastening to the tomb. "He that hath the Son, hath life; he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life."--`John 5:12`.
But are the dead to be judged? If they have not already been judged, why should they be dead? Is not death the penalty of sin, the sentence, the result of a judgment? Truly so; but a redemption has taken place. All became involved in sin and its penalty, death, through one man's disobedience (Adam's), and even so through the obedience of one (Jesus) justification to life has passed upon all the condemned,-- the dead world. As a result of the atonement the whole world of dead humanity is to have an opportunity of hearing the voice of the Son of Man (his commands), and of obeying, and of thus being judged by his words, to be either worthy or unworthy of everlasting life. They cannot be judged without his words, and the vast majority,--"dead in trespasses and sins," blinded and deafened by the Adversary, through sin,--have not thus far been enabled to hear their Redeemer's wonderful words of life. In the present age only "so many as the Lord your God shall call" have been able to hear with any distinctness; only such, therefore, have had any responsibility for, or been able in any degree to reject, the wonderful
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words of life, and to bring upon themselves afresh the sentence of death,--the Second Death. The present age, therefore, witnesses the call and the acceptance of only a "little flock" to whom it is the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom,--to make joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord in the Millennial Kingdom. They will be with him in all the work of his one thousand years' reign, for the blessing and uplifting of the dead. The dead world will then have the eyes of its understanding opened and its ears unstopped, and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth and reach every member of the dead race, not only those who have not yet gone down into the tomb, but "all the families of the earth;" for, "all that are in the grave shall come forth" for the very purpose of hearing the "wonderful words of life," and of being judged by them. If they shall accept them heartily they shall, by restitution processes, be brought fully up to life conditions; such as Adam possessed before sin and death took hold upon him; if they shall reject them and cling to sin and injustice, they shall be adjudged worthy of the Second Death and be "destroyed from amongst the people"-- `Acts 3:23`.
What is here termed "the time of the dead that they should be judged," is elsewhere termed the "day of judgment," of which the Apostle declares, "A day with the Lord is as a thousand years"--with men. We remember that the inspired declaration respecting this day of judgment is--"God hath appointed a day [the Millennial day--the thousand years of Christ's reign], in which he will judge the world [dead in trespasses and sins, but redeemed by the precious blood] in righteousness [that is with a just trial or judgment] by that man whom he hath ordained"-- the Christ, Head and body."--`Acts 17:31`.
What a glorious judgment day that will be, and how miserably false have been our conceptions of it in the past--how foolish, how ridiculous, how dishonoring to God and repulsive to justice, wisdom and love divine! Yes, this is an object worthy of the Millennial Kingdom;--it is emphatically "the time of the dead [world] that they should be judged," that they should have their trial for life or for death everlasting, --their share of the great ransom. Then will not be the time for the judgment of the Church, for that takes place in the present age; as it is written, "Judgment must begin at the house of God"; as it is written again, "When we are judged of the Lord, we are chastened, that we should not be condemned [judged] with the world"--in the coming Millennial age of judgment or trial.
ALL REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS UNDER SEVENTH
After having thus summarized the work of the Millennial age to be a work of judgment, beginning with a national judgment and wrath upon the nations in the establishment of God's Kingdom, and gradually accomplishing for every member of the race of Adam an individual judgment, the declaration proceeds to give certain particulars; saying,--it is the time "That thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldst destroy them that corrupt the earth." Here the entire work of the Millennial age, all the events covered by this seventh symbolic trumpet, are enumerated, the prophets, the ancient worthies, and the teachers or exponents of the Lord's words, of this Gospel age, together with all the saints, all the faithful in Christ Jesus, all the holy ones, are to be rewarded early in this Millennial day: their reward is to be amongst the first events under this seventh trumpet. Subsequently, all the dead world shall "hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear [obey] shall live [attain to full perfection of being, life everlasting];" thus will be fulfilled the rewarding of "them that fear God's name, small and great." They that reverence God will reverence his laws, and come into full and hearty obedience to the same; and to all such the Lord will be pleased to give the great reward of life eternal.
As for the others, such as will refuse to hear the voice of the Son of Man, such as will neglect, when they hear them, the wonderful words of life, such as will prefer injustice, in-equity, even when they know thoroughly the good from the evil,--what of these? These are corrupt, and their influence will be corrupting, defiling; and hence the divine decree is that they shall be destroyed in the Second Death. And all this rewarding and judging and cleansing of the earth from every defilement, bringing it back to its primitive holiness, perfect harmony with God--all this will be accomplished under the sounding of the seventh trumpet--by the time Immanuel's reign of righteousness shall have accomplished its intended work; for, "he must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet";--until he shall have rescued from condemnation and death, and brought back into harmony with the Almighty, every member of the human family desiring such reconciliation with God and found to be a lover of righteousness and a hater of iniquity.
WHOSE ARE THE GREAT VOICES?
If now we have gotten a glimpse of the purport of the Seventh Trumpet, and are no longer expecting its fulfilment as a voice upon the air, but in the glorious events of the Kingdom, what shall we say respecting the "great voices" which, at its very beginning, are to announce that the time has come for the establishment of the Kingdom? We answer that we are not to expect them to be angelic shoutings in the sky, nor mutterings of thunder. We are to remember that the voices are symbolic as well as the trumpets, and in this direction we look for the fulfilment of this declaration which must be due at about the present time, if we are correct in our understanding of the prophetic teachings, to the effect that the Kingdom power of Messiah was assumed in 1878, and that the King has since been ordering the events which will shortly bring about the great time of trouble, the angry nations, and the wrath of God manifesting itself in their destruction, as nations and institutions --not as people, though, undoubtedly, many human lives will be sacrificed in that trouble.
As we examine some of the parallels given to illustrate the work of this Gospel age, especially the work of this "harvest" in the close of the age, we learn that like as the Lord and his followers at the first advent did a reaping work in the harvest of the Jewish age, separating the "wheat" from the "chaff"-- gathering the wheat into the garner of the higher
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spirit dispensation, and leaving the chaff to be consumed with the fire of trouble which came upon the Jewish nation utterly destroying its polity,--so likewise will it be in the harvesting of this Gospel age, in the separating here of the "wheat" from the "tares;" in the gathering the wheat to the garner of the heavenly Kingdom and the abandonment of the tares to the burning time of trouble which will destroy the present institutions of the angry nations. As the reapers, who in the Jewish harvest gathered the wheat into the garner, were the Lord's faithful servants (men in the flesh), so the reapers in this present harvest will be the Lord's faithful servants (men in the flesh), under the guidance and instruction of his Word.
Similarly we find that the Lord's people living at the present time are again referred to by the Lord in figurative language, when he declares that he will send forth his messengers with the sound of the great
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trumpet [the Seventh Trumpet] and shall gather together his elect unto him, from the four winds of heaven. This work we understand to be now in progress; each one who receives a knowledge of present truth is not only made glad and strengthened, refreshed individually, but is also put into service forthwith and permitted in a special sense to be a co-worker with his Lord in the harvest work,--the gathering unto the Lord of all the ripe wheat of this present time. According to the parable the wheat and the tares were to grow together until the harvest; --there was to be no general gathering or separating before the harvest: and so we see that, in all denominations, wheat and tares are to be found very generally commingled. But now the harvest time has come, and the harvest truth, as a sickle, is to separate and gather the wheat, that it may all be safely garnered. The wheat is not to be gathered into another new sect, or denomination, with another new sectarian name, but is to be gathered to the Lord,-- "Gather my saints together unto me; those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." (`Psa. 50:5`.) This work is going onward gradually, steadily; more and more the Lord's true people are coming to a knowledge of his true plan and getting free from the ignorance and superstition and blindness of the dark ages, superinduced by the great adversary, Satan. Gradually these faithful ones are being individually ripened, perfected and made meet for the Kingdom, and passing into it, they shall be "changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye"--the moment of death.
As in these various parables and figures, representing the end of this age, the living members of the Church are evidently the active agents in the Lord's service--as we do not see angels going about through the world binding the tares with literal cords into literal bundles, and gathering the wheat into a literal barn,--neither do we see the angels flying through the heavens [symbolic of the religious institutions of the present time]; so we are not to expect that the voices under the Seventh Trumpet, proclaiming the Kingdom, will be any more than human voices and human agents. Nor should we expect them to be other than the voices of those who have some measure of light in respect to the times in which we are now living, the harvest time, the time of the establishment of the Kingdom. Those who utter these voices declaring that the "Kingdom [dominion] of this world, has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ" must of necessity be such as have first learned this fact from some quarter.
There are some of God's people in all parts of the world (and their number is increasing daily) who do realize fully and thoroughly these very things, and who are doing all in their power to gather together, unto the Lord, all who are his consecrated ones;-- seeking to separate the wheat from the tares and to prepare them for the garner, the Kingdom; and to these we must look expecting to hear from them the "great voices" announcing the Kingdom.
We might say that the volumes of Millennial Dawn have to some extent been such voices, announcing the Kingdom, and giving the reasons for believing that it began to be established in 1878; that it will reach full establishment in October, 1914; and that ultimately it shall bless all the families of the earth. These voices have been circulated here and there throughout the whole civilized world, not by worldly agents, not through book-sellers, but by those who have themselves been blessed by the light, and who desire to render a service to the Lord and to the truth, and to lay down their lives for the brethren by taking to them the glorious and encouraging message now due to the Lord's people. These voices have been uttered, and to some extent heard, in the symbolic heavens, the nominal church; yet they do not seem to fulfill all that is implied by the "great voices" of our text;--we note other voices, all however, from the--
"HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE."
For some three years past a "volunteer work" has been steadily progressing amongst the brethren--the work of rendering assistance to the members of the household of faith still in Babylon, still in darkness respecting the Lord, his true character, his true plan, and respecting the nearness of his Kingdom. This consists generally in the circulation of printed matter, not far from the exits of the various churches of all denominations, especially in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Their services are all rendered freely "as unto the Lord"--time, energy, carfare, etc., are gladly sacrificed in the service of the truth and of the brethren; and, additionally, contributions are sent in from which the "ammunition" is provided,--the tracts, booklets, papers, etc., for free distribution. These "Voices," uttered for the past three years, have been "great voices" in the sense of being widespread and in the sense of exercising considerable influence--they have been heard by many. But although they have been tending in the direction of the announcement mentioned in our text, they have not, up to the present time, made a distinct annunciation of the important matter mentioned in our text; namely, that the Kingdom time has come; that the King is present and has assumed the authority, and that his work is henceforth to be accounted the chief factor in connection with all of earth's affairs;-- as leading up to the great disintegration of present institutions in the approaching time of trouble which shall make his people willing to hear his voice--when many nations and peoples shall say, "let us go up to
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the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord's house; he will teach us of his ways and we shall walk in his paths" --when he "will turn to the people a pure language [a pure word of instruction which they can understand --in contrast with the present mysticism and confusion] that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."-- `Zeph. 3:9`.
The volunteer matter prepared for this present year (the issues of our journal for February 15 and March 15) had already been prepared, and contracts had already been made for a million copies of these issues, in equal parts, for this volunteer season, which will begin immediately after the Memorial--April 27th--before we thought of how wonderfully this year's distribution will agree with the declaration of our text. The matter was called to our attention by one of the brethren of the office force. Here will be a million voices proclaiming throughout the nominal Church (symbolic heavens) the great message of this present time; namely, the second presence of our Lord as the reaper of the harvest of the Gospel age, gathering the wheat into the "garner" and destroying the tares (as tares--not as human beings) and establishing his glorious Kingdom upon a firm foundation of righteousness and equity, for the blessing of every creature redeemed by his own precious blood. These voices summarize in a brief way some of the testimonies of the Scripture respecting the presence of Christ, its time, its order of events, and his final manifestation in the glory of Kingdom power. We have no assurance that the "heavens" will hear, or respond to the message, and glorify God on this behalf; indeed we can only expect that at most only a remnant will be counted worthy to understand respecting the great work of God now in progress--just as only a few in the end of the Jewish age were found worthy to understand and appreciate the truths concerning their harvest time.
THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SERVICE.
Referring to the reapers of the Jewish harvest, his faithful disciples, our Lord said, "He that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto eternal life." The same words are evidently applicable in this present harvest: it is a privilege to serve our Lord at any time and in any manner, but a special privilege came to the faithful in the end of the Jewish age; and similarly a special privilege of service has come to God's people now, in the end of the Gospel age. The message may indeed be resented, and those who promulgate it may be spoken evil of and persecuted, as were the apostles and faithful brethren in the past; but what of this? Shall we not like them and like our Lord "learn obedience" by the things which we may suffer for the truth's sake? Shall not we also learn to "rejoice in tribulation" and to "count it all joy" when our names are cast out as evil, and when all manner of evil is said against us falsely for Christ's sake? Yea, verily! We do rejoice, and we will rejoice yet more, in the great privilege granted us of being co-laborers together with God in this grandest and most momentous day the world has ever known.
The number of those engaging in this volunteer service is quite considerable--especially in some localities where the love, the zeal for the Lord, and for the truth, abounds greatly. (Those who cannot thus engage can find other opportunities tho none better, except, perhaps, the colporteur work.) In Washington, Toronto and Boston, are found three of the most energetic companies, probably 70 per cent of whom are so full of zeal as to be able so to arrange their affairs as to participate in this service of the truth. It is not surprising to know also that nowhere does the love of the Lord, and interest in his cause more abound than among the brethren of these three cities. The friends participating gratefully acknowledge that they have received blessings far more than compensating them for every trial and every sacrifice involved. Yes, indeed "He that reapeth receiveth wages," daily, hourly;--his service brings its rich recompense; he realizes that God is accepting his imperfect work through Jesus, and that thus he is confirming and establishing his faith and demonstrating the honesty of his consecration to the Lord, the reward of which God has promised shall be life everlasting through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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We hope, dear brethren and sisters, that in view of what we saw in our issue of December 1, 1901, respecting the "Three Signs" and respecting our share in the making of those signs; and in view also of what we saw respecting our privilege as reapers in the harvest, gathering the "wheat"; and what we saw respecting the gathering together of the elect unto the Lord; and what we see in this article respecting the "great voices" which are to declare the dominion of this world transferred to the Lord; and that now he is a King among the nations; and that it is our privilege to be engaged in the work of sounding forth the announcement in the "heavens";--in view of all these things we trust that fresh zeal, fresh energy, fresh courage, will be the portion of each of the Lord's consecrated ones, so that this year more than ever we may show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Should all the Lord's people, who enjoy this light of present truth, become thoroughly awake to their privileges, it would probably require two million papers to supply their requirements during the coming season, and if this quantity should be called for, we believe that the Lord would, in due time, enable us to meet the requirements. Let us each resolve that others may do as seems proper to them; but that we will exercise our God-given judgments and opportunities in the service of the truth--as the feet members of the body of Christ "saying unto Zion,-- Thy God reigneth"--the reign of the anointed one has commenced.
1902 VOLUNTEER WORK AND AMMUNITION ORDERS, 1902.
Let each little group elect as its captain for this "volunteer" service the brother manifesting the greatest executive skill and judgment. Ascertain how many "volunteers" you can secure. Meet weekly for conference, prayer and encouragement. Estimate the quantity of papers necessary to serve the attendants at all the churches you can serve, and order from us at once one-half of these. Order the remaining half one month before you will be ready to use them.
The object in having the two different papers for this year is, to avoid sending duplicates into the
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homes--because members of the same family usually leave church together. We will send the papers of equal parts in each bundle; but when you open the bundles, please, first thing, separate the two kinds and then combine them so that each paper of one date will be followed by another of the other date in the entire pile. Then as they are handed out they will go equally and alternately. We have no opportunity for thus mixing them before sending to you. Large orders will be filled in bundles of 800 and 1,600 (half and half, the two dates) and will be shipped by our printers by freight. Use up whatever old "ammunition" you have on hand, but order no more for this service.
WHAT DOTH IT PROFIT? `MAL. 3:14-18`.
"What doth it profit me?" I hear a weary pilgrim say,
As he sinks beside his burden upon the "narrow way."
"What do I gain," he plaintive moans, "in service of my
Save weary pain and labor, bearing this heavy load?
For many dreary years I've toiled through sunshine and
Through chilling winds and wintry blasts, I've suffered
The rocks have cut my weary feet, I've left a bleeding
I cannot climb this mountain side, my feet are slipping
Why should I suffer day by day, bearing this heavy cross?
Why may I not the 'promise' gain without this pain and
I see so many all around who do not serve the Lord,
Yet they are not thus burdened and their lives hold rich
Their barns are filled with plenty and their vats with wine
While I am made to drink the dregs of bitterness and woe."
And thus he faints upon his way, and darkness fills his
O, foolish one! with "armor" loosed, and pierced by Satan's
Dost thou not hear the Master: "The servant's like his
O, listen to His message and heed His Holy Word:
"If ye will suffer with me, then with me ye shall reign;
He who would shine in glory, is perfected through pain."
We cannot walk with Christ our Lord and still find flowery
The path that leads to Heavenly heights finds many sunless
The "narrow way" to Life Divine, oft leads through
Yet the loving Master walks beside, and holds our trembling
The "shield of faith" we must not fail to use as on we go,
For "darts" are flying thick and fast from the Christian's
The world has not been "called" to walk upon our "narrow
The shallow pleasures they enjoy are only for a day.
O, who would covet their poor joys, or look with envious
Upon the flow'rs which deck their path and blossom but
Happy your lot, ye sons of God! O, "Jewels" of the Lord
Press on! Nor faint upon the road that leads to your
The way is weary, yet it ends in life, in bliss, in God!
Press on! Nor longing look ye back o'er the path that ye
Keep looking upward toward the "Prize," and let its glory
Glad "Hallelujahs" to our King, who suffered for our sake;
Who died to give us life, that we might also with Him die,
Then share "His Resurrection" and His glorious throne on
High! --Alice G. James.
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NOTING DISPENSATIONAL CHANGES.
--`ACTS 11:4-15`.--APRIL 27.--
"Whosoever believeth in him shall receive
remission of sins."--`Acts 10:43`.
THE NEWS of Peter's visit to Cornelius and the baptism of the latter, a Gentile, into the Christian Church, created quite a hubbub-- not in Jerusalem only, but throughout Judea. Peter may have been called to Jerusalem by the brethren to give some explanation of such an innovation;--or, learning of the commotion, he may have gone voluntarily to explain the situation and to set the minds of the brethren at rest respecting the propriety of his course. He took with him the six of the Joppa brethren who had accompanied him to the house of Cornelius. This was a wise course; Peter recognized that however well satisfied he himself might be respecting the propriety of what he had done, it was but just to the brethren to give as explicit a testimony on the subject as possible--to avoid the least ground for criticism or division of sentiment in the Church.
We note the divine providence which guided in this matter--that (1) it was Peter, the eldest, and in some respects the strongest of the apostles who was chosen for this service; and (2) that he was guided in judgment in respect to taking with him six of the prominent Joppa brethren. Thus does the Lord supervise the affairs of his people, while yet leaving the matter without a special direct revelation --teaching them rather by their experiences and his providential leadings. He could have sent an angel to the apostles, at the appointed time, to inform them definitely that the "seventy weeks" of Israel's favor had expired; and that now, in harmony with the divine plan, the gospel was to be preached not to Jews only, but to people of any or every nation who might be found with "ears to hear"--with hearts to appreciate it. But to have made such a revelation would have had three disadvantages; (1) the Church would thus be caused to walk by sight rather than by faith; (2) a precedent would have been established under which at any future time the Lord's people would have been warranted in expecting miraculous instruction, and thus their minds would have been diverted from the Scriptures which God intended should be the light upon our pathway; (3) miraculous instruction is opposed to thought, reflection and examination of underlying principles--so important to the progress of the Lord's people in grace and in knowledge.
We should not be surprised that the apostles
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would be opposed to Peter's going to the Gentiles with the gospel message; such a course was contrary to all the traditions of their nation for over sixteen centuries--seemingly in contradiction of many of the statements of the prophets: prudence, therefore, bade them beware lest the new light and blessing which they had received should mislead them into too great liberty--into license contrary to the Lord's Word. They probably called to mind that the promises indicated that God's blessings were to come to the world through Israel--"the forces of the Gentiles should come unto thee"--the "sons of strangers shall build up thy walls"--"the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee, shall perish," etc. They may also have recalled our Lord's words at the beginning of his ministry when sending forth the apostles, and subsequently, the "seventy," he said, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; for I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."--`Matt. 15:24`.
In view of these things the apostles and brethren did only their duty in calling Peter to account--in seeing to it that they took no liberty with the Lord's directions--that they did not attempt to get beyond, or to circumvent his arrangements. They did realize that a change of dispensation was upon them, and that in some important sense Israel was rejected by the Lord, so that only the remnant accepting Christ were now in divine favor; but they did not realize fully what this meant, nor see clearly how the Lord's promises centering in Israel were yet to be fulfilled. We can see now, in the light of providential leadings and apostolic teachings, and in the light of prophetic fulfilment, what it was not possible for them to see clearly at that time.
We can see that natural Israel was being rejected, --blinded with a blindness which would last for nearly nineteen centuries. We can see God's purpose to elect, in the interim, the spiritual seed of Abraham; taking, firstly, from the natural Israelites all found worthy; and secondly, completing the election with chosen ones selected from among the Gentiles --possessing the spirit of Abraham, the spirit of faith and obedience. We can see, that this Spiritual Israel was not fully explained through the promises and through the prophets; but that the elect church in the prophecies was counted in the Messianic promises --as members of the body of Messiah of which Jesus is the Head, "God blessed forever." (`Rom. 9:5`.) We can see, that not until this body of Messiah shall be complete will the Lord's promises to natural Israel have fulfilment;--then their blindness being turned away (`Rom. 11:26-32`), they will become the leading nation of earth, representative of the spiritual Kingdom of God, the glorified Church, the Messianic body: then the forces of the Gentiles will come to them, and all earthly interests will co-operate, and a blessing through Israel shall proceed to all the families of the earth.
THE CHARGES AGAINST PETER.
It is rather peculiar, that the charges made against Peter were not that he had recognized Cornelius as a Christian and baptized him and his household, but that he had gone into their house and had eaten bread with them--proceedings which were contrary to Jewish custom entirely--the recognition of the Gentiles as being on an equality with the Jews-- a matter which had been settled to the contrary with them, from time immemorial. Singularly, too, the Apostle Peter in his defense entirely ignored their charges and proceeded to acquit himself as though they had charged him in the way we would have expected --with receiving a Gentile into Christian brotherhood. Yet Peter's course was just the proper one, and, undoubtedly, he was guided thereto. There is a lesson in this for the Lord's people to the effect that it is always better to discuss fundamental principles and divine laws than to dispute over traditions of men and mere technical observances, customs, etc. When Peter got the fundamental features straight before the minds of all, the question of social customs was settled; whereas, if he had discussed the proprieties of the social custom, the larger question would still have been unsettled.
Peter's simple, humble, unvarnished explanation was a rehearsal of the facts in the case. He considered that the evidence which had convinced him that he was right, would similarly convince the others; and he was correct in this. He might on the contrary have "stood on his dignity" and have insisted that what he did was none of the business of the others-- that he was an apostle and the eldest of them, and specially guided of the Lord; and that the Lord had even declared in advance that he should have and use the keys of the Kingdom; and that as he had used the first of these in announcing the divine favor on the day of Pentecost, so now he had used the other in opening the door of favor to the Gentiles. Such a course while it would have had a great deal of truth in it, would have been an unwise one to say the least; --the humbler, kinder, more brotherly course he did take speaks well to us of his heart condition, his humility, his love to the brethren, his desire to make matters so simple, so clear, so explicit, that none could have any occasion for stumbling over his action. Had he been arrogantly disposed, a great breach in the church might have resulted;--but no; the Lord was at the helm, and had Peter been out of proper condition of heart would not have used him, but some humbler brother for this service. There is a good lesson in this for us all--especially for such as are chosen leaders of the various little companies of the Lord's people: the lesson is, humility, brotherly kindness, love. Any appearance of haughtiness, anything dictatorial in manner or tone would be unbecoming in any of the Lord's people, but especially so in any seeking to serve him: leaders manifesting a haughty spirit should be considered, in that respect and degree, unsuited to the position they fill,--while those who manifest the humbler manner and spirit of Peter on this occasion, should be proportionately the more esteemed by all.
Peter rehearsed his experiences, the Lord's leadings, going into the smallest details, so that the brethren might have the benefit of the situation as fully as though they had been in his stead; and to their credit, the record says, that, when they had heard the particulars, so far from further murmuring against Peter or finding fault with his course, they
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glorified God. This shows us clearly that their opposition to the extension of the gospel favor was not the result of any narrowness or meanness of heart; but was the result of conscientious conviction respecting the divine program. They were gradually learning the lesson that a new dispensation was being ushered in, by divine providence, and their entire anxiety was that they might run no faster than the Lord's spirit, through his Word and providences, would direct them--glad, however, to note the leadings and to receive the lessons and to act accordingly.
Similarly, we today are living in a time of changing dispensations; similarly, the Lord's providence is now guiding his people to a clearer appreciation of his plan--to a discernment of certain changes of dispensation now in progress: First, that as in the end of the Jewish age the nominal systems of fleshly Israel were rejected of the Lord, and ignored, so now the nominal systems of spiritual Israel are rejected of the Lord, and all "Israelites indeed" are being gathered out of them. Second, as it was a difficult matter for the Jews to realize that divine favor would extend beyond their nation to the Gentiles, so now it is a difficult matter for Christian people to comprehend that divine favor does not end with the election of the Christian Church; but that, on the contrary, the blessing of all the families of the earth must there begin; and that the new dispensation, the Millennium, in which this favor to the world is to be bestowed by the Church, is nigh, even at the door. As Peter was patient in his explanation of the Lord's providence and leadings in respect to the greater lengths and breadths of divine favor, so now it behooves all of the Lord's people to be very patient, very gentle, and as wise as serpents in presenting to their fellow Christians, true Israelites, the evidence which the Lord's providence has furnished to us, in respect to the world-wide blessings and their nearness. Our Lord's words are applicable, "Be ye wise as serpents, harmless as doves."--`Matt. 10:16`.
Peter explained to his hearers the simple gospel message which he had presented to the Gentiles, and which they had so gladly received; that it was in no sense a perversion of the message preached to the Jews, and in no degree were any of the gospel's conditions modified to win Gentile approval; it was the same gospel that had blessed them which now refreshed and blessed the Gentiles. He told them of his surprise when the Lord manifested his favor toward the Gentiles by bestowing some of the gifts of the holy spirit upon them--similar to those bestowed upon the Jewish believers at Pentecost, and subsequently transmitted through the apostles. He declares that this manifestation of divine favor called to his mind the words of the Lord, "John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the holy spirit." (`Acts 1:5`.) By this he understood clearly that the holy spirit baptism was of much greater importance than water baptism; and he understood, further, that only the "you" class would be baptized with the holy spirit; and hence he could not logically ignore the fact that the Gentiles having received the same spirit must be in the Lord's estimation reckoned as members of the same body of Christ, and eligible to baptism, etc. He concluded his argument with a question which must have appealed to all of his hearers; "Who was I that I should withstand God?"
The whole company agreed, that Peter would have had no right to withstand the will of the Lord; but that every propriety called upon him to conform his teachings and his conduct to the Lord's arrangements; and so under this wise presentation the entire company came into full harmony of heart and mind, on an important subject which, had it not been
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properly handled, might have meant rending and discord in the early Church, and have made two or more factions of those who were at heart desirous of being right and in accord with the Lord's will. Let us each and all resolve to follow Peter's example in every such matter, and thus to study the welfare, the best interest, the peace, of Zion.
The decision of the conference was, that the evidence educed by Peter was unquestionable, that a new step in the divine plan had been taken, and that henceforth God had granted to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews the privilege of "repentance unto life." Very properly none of them thought of calling into question God's right, God's privilege in this matter of granting repentance unto life. These faithful brethren were not disposed to run into either of two extremes common to some today--they neither claimed that God was bound to give his favors only to Israel, nor on the other hand did they claim that he was bound to make a free offer of repentance unto life to everybody alike. Some today go to even a greater extreme than this, claiming not only an opportunity for repentance unto life to all, but that God must eventually and everlastingly save all--grant all everlasting life. Let all the Lord's people beware that they do not attempt to dictate to the Almighty; that they recognize him as a sovereign, and seek to know his will, and not to dictate according to their wills.
The brethren evidently drew the lesson which the Lord wished them to draw; namely, that God was thenceforth willing to grant forgiveness of sins to Gentiles as well as Jews who would repent and seek to be in harmony with him. There is no suggestion in this of coercion nor of acceptance upon any other condition than repentance and pardon of sins; and this implies faith in the Lord Jesus and in his work as the ransom for sinners, and turning to God with full sincerity of heart, to know and, as far as possible, to do those things which would please him. This is still the position of the Lord's people and must be to the end of the age; it is the established principle underlying all of the Lord's dealings and promises.
Our Golden Text is in full accord with this. The remission of sins, typically, year by year, was Israel's favor only, for centuries; and when the real sacrifice for sin had been offered, the privilege of repentance unto remission of sins, tho confined for a time (three and a half years) to the Jews was thereafter thrown open to all alike--"He that hath an ear let him hear" the message. There is no other means of approach to God than through the remission, the covering of our sins; and there is no other means of covering than through faith in the precious blood of Christ. "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." "There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby
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we must be saved." All suggestions therefore of salvation without a belief in Jesus,--all suggestions of salvation of the heathen in ignorance, all suggestions of their being no necessity for a knowledge of the historic Christ,--all suggestions that a recognition of the Christ spirit of righteousness is sufficient,--all suggestions of harmony with God through any other than the one, appointed, "Mediator of the New Covenant," --receive a thorough condemnation in the words of this text. The entire plan of God sets forth and honors not only divine justice, wisdom, love, and power, but it likewise sets forth and honors the Lord Jesus as the only way by which, access may be had to the Father, and by which everlasting life may be attained by any. In view of these limitations, how comforting are the assurances of the Scriptures, that for the vast majority of our race the time of knowledge and, hence, the time of probation for everlasting life is future; during the Millennium. In that, their "due time," all the deaf ears shall be unstopped and all shall hear the voice of the Son of Man (and his Bride, glorified) directing in the right ways of the Lord;--"and they that hear [obey] shall live."--It is a further cause of joy that this blessing and opportunity for resurrection to perfection, under the judgments of such gracious judges, is to extend also to "all that are in their graves."--`John 5:25,28`; `I Tim. 2:6`.
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"THE DISCIPLES WERE FIRST CALLED CHRISTIANS AT ANTIOCH."
--ACTS 11:9-30.--MAY 4.--
"The hand of the Lord was with them; and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord."
ANTIOCH, at the time of our lesson, was the third city in the world in rank of commercial importance and population, the latter being estimated at 500,000. Its situation was about 300 miles north from Jerusalem,--a long distance in those days of foot and camel and sailboat traveling. It is noted as being the first city outside of Palestine in which a Christian church assembly was formed; and 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 start of the work of the Lord at Antioch, the little spark of light and truth which started that important work, resulted from the persecution at the time of Stephen's death. Some of those forced out of Jerusalem by the persecution settled in Antioch, and, of course, they could not live and walk in the light of the gospel without letting the light shine out for others. This at first was done only toward those who were of the Jewish faith, for in a large commercial city such as Antioch there were sure to be large numbers of Jews. We know not how many of these were reached with the gospel; but it was confined to them, surely, until the end of Israel's seventy symbolical weeks--until A.D. 37. At the same time that the Lord was sending Philip to the Samaritans and to the Ethiopian eunuch, and opening the door to the Gentiles through the Apostle Peter, he was ready to open the door to the Gentiles everywhere; and under the leading 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, and conform his life to his teachings, could be classed as a disciple equally as tho he had been born a Jew. The work thus started amongst the Gentiles at Antioch spread considerably, the Gentiles seeming to take more notice of it than had the Jews to whom the gospel was first preached, and, as our Golden Text assures us, large numbers believed. There is a lesson here, to the effect that while the Lord made clear to the apostles first the matter of receiving the Gentiles into the Church, he, nevertheless, did not confine his message to them, but was willing to use any convenient disciple, no matter how humble, as a mouthpiece for the truth, and was pleased to bless the consecrated ambassadors and their service. So today let each and all of the Lord's people be alert to notice opportunities for service, and let those who occupy a position as teachers in the Church emulate the example of the apostles, who manifested no spirit of jealousy in respect to this broadening of the work--rejoicing, rather, at the spread of the good news by whatever instrumentality the Lord might be pleased to use. This is the true spirit of discipleship, the spirit of humility. It is in accord with the Apostle's words, "In honor preferring one another;" "Rejoice not in iniquity, but rejoice in the truth."
The news of the gospel going 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 of the brethren had already been prepared by the Lord's manifest dealing in the case of Cornelius, and this, undoubtedly, would take away from their surprise and largely correct any prejudice on the subject of the Gentiles as fellow-heirs of the promises which had previously pertained to them alone. Nevertheless, we note that the record does not say that this news caused rejoicing in the Jerusalem Church. We may infer, therefore, that they heard with some considerable trepidation that large numbers of the 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-- inasmuch as the Jews would say, Yes, your message is good enough for the barbarians or the Gentiles; it takes hold of the non-religious; but it attracts very few of the deeply pious of God's chosen people, to whom belong the promises and the covenants of the Lord, etc. It would appear, then, that the original motive in sending Barnabas to Antioch (visiting other intermediate churches en route) was that he might see and judge of the true condition of things, and give some report as to whether the new converts were worthy in their lives and characters to be recognized as fellow-heirs with the saints. Barnabas, when he had come, took note of "the grace of God," manifested amongst the believers at Antioch--it must have been manifested not only in their faith in the Lord as their Redeemer and Master, but also in their conduct as disciples or followers of Jesus. It is written,
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"He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure," and we may suppose that Barnabas quickly discerned the cleansing and sanctifying power of the truth amongst these believers at Antioch, and thus realized that the cause, instead of being hindered by such accessions, would be honored. We read that he was glad; and we may assume, altho it is not stated, that he promptly made a report to the brethren at Jerusalem, and that they were glad also. A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, is always made glad by evidences of God's grace operating in himself and in others. It is one evidence of the possession of the holy spirit, and that in good measure, when we rejoice in all good things --"Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."--`Phil. 4:8`.
The apostles evidently made an excellent choice when they sent Barnabas. We remember that he was a Levite by birth, and this, unquestionably, would make him very careful of every Jewish interest connected with the faith, and, undoubtedly, he was well learned in the Law. We remember, too, that he was a native of Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, near Antioch. Born thus at a distance from Jerusalem, amongst Gentiles, he was probably a broadminded man, as well as familiar with the dialect of the people of Antioch, and added to these good reasons for sending him, was a fourth; namely, his beautiful character, his helpfulness 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. We remember, too, that he received the name Barnabas as a title of love and respect in the Church, which thus designated him "a son of consolation," a "helper." The fact that this good man was glad, is an assurance to us that the conditions he found in the Antioch Church were good conditions, for a good man "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth."
Barnabas at once overflowed toward the Antioch brethren, and in the same comforting and helpful manner as at Jerusalem he exhorted them all. The Greek word here is from the same root as his name, and signifies comfort, stimulation, assistance. No doubt he saw various things needing to be corrected; but instead of beginning with fault-finding, instead of lacerating their feelings and chiding them, he began, properly, 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. The word "cleave" here in the Greek signifies to glue, to adhere. He wished the dear brethren, new in the truth, to see to it that their hearts were firmly united unto the Lord, that their minds were fully made up, that their consecration to him was complete. This was the 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 we would impress is that it was not a restraining of the flesh, nor a perfecting of it, that was sought, but a much deeper work of grace than this; a purity of heart, of intention, a heart-adhesion to the Lord. We today cannot do better than follow this same course in our endeavors to do good unto others as we have opportunity. The brethren needed strengthening rather than tearing. They needed building up in the most holy faith and love. They needed encouraging in heart-adhesion to the Lord, and that criticisms of the flesh come in afterward gradually and very carefully and kindly. There were three elements co-operating which made Barnabas so suitable a person for this service, and the same three elements in any of us today will surely make us able ministers of the truth. Those elements are stated here; viz., "He was a good man [moral, upright, reverential] full of the holy spirit [he had not received the grace of God in vain; it was in him 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 character and spirit he may have, 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 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 his labors at Antioch much people was added unto the Lord!
The last we heard of Saul of Tarsus (`Acts 9:30`) was that after the opening of the eyes of his understanding, after he became the disciple of the Lord Jesus, and had preached in Damascus, and then in Jerusalem, his life being endangered the brethren 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 active too, in comprehending the divine grace and considering ways of service. He was in Tarsus while Barnabas was at Antioch, and the latter now 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 him up, interest him in the service of the Antioch Church, etc. He probably remembered that Saul's ideas were extremely broad in respect to the gospel --too broad, perhaps, for the brethren at Jerusalem to fully appreciate him when he 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 concluded that the conditions at Antioch were just such as would deeply interest Saul, and that the brethren there would be greatly profited by his assistance. He found him; he brought him to the Church at Antioch, where his influence was no doubt great for the good of all. We rejoice in noting the heart nobility of Barnabas. Many Christian men of smaller caliber would have
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reasoned themselves into a different course, and a wrong one; saying, As it is, I am the chief one amongst the brethren here, having had larger opportunities than the others, and having had close contact with the apostles at Jerusalem; 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, etc. Brethren who reason thus are misguided by their own selfishness. They forget that the Lord's work is in his own hands, and 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 a serious one. All of the Lord's people should be noble and unselfish; and the closer any of us approximate this character the more will we be loved of the Lord, the more will we be loved of the brethren, and the more useful will be our sphere of influence for righteousness, for truth, for the Lord.
DISCIPLES WERE FIRST CALLED CHRISTIANS.
It is noteworthy that our Lord never gave any name to his people; he called them disciples, which signifies pupils, learners. The apostles have applied to the Church various terms, "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 and leader, came to be the general name throughout the world. It is a pity that any have thought it necessary to adopt any other names than these, 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 also as the Redeemer, and who accepts all the fundamental doctrines of the Scriptures, based, as they are, upon these two declarations--(1) that men were sinners, needing to be redeemed before they could be acceptable to God, and that they were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ; (2) that they have accepted the name of their Redeemer, and are seeking to walk in his footsteps. There was a start toward sectarianism in the early Church, some saying, I am a Christian, but of the order of Paul; others, I am a Christian, but of the order of Apollos; others, I am a Christian, but of the order of Peter, etc. But the Apostle promptly rebuked this spirit, assuring them that the relationship in Christ was all that was necessary; that neither Peter nor Paul had redeemed them, and that neither, therefore, could occupy the place of a head to the Church. The Apostle, furthermore, calls our attention to the fact that such a spirit on their part was an evidence of that much of carnality still remaining; that much of a worldly partisan spirit contrary to the thought and teaching of the holy spirit. It is to be regretted that ever since the Reformation times this spirit has prevailed to a large extent, some taking the name of Luther, others of Wesley, others of Calvin, others non-personal, but, nevertheless, sectarian or party names, as Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, etc. We are not claiming that those who do these things are wholly carnal, without the Lord's spirit, but we do claim with the Apostle that a disposition to such a 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.
Let no one misunderstand us to advocate one sect or party as instead of many. On the contrary, we know that if there must be sects there is an advantage in having many, as they serve to keep each other within more reasonable bounds, serving to some extent to hinder gross arrogance and persecution. 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 fraternizing, 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 respected his own thought, aside from fundamentals
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which are clearly stated in the Scriptures.
BENEVOLENCE A FEATURE OF PIETY.
In view of the fact that the condition of the Antioch Church made Barnabas glad, and in view of the instruction and assistance rendered it by Paul and Barnabas, we are not surprised that it was a living Church, instead of a dead one, and we are not surprised that, an opportunity offering through a famine especially affecting the vicinity of Jerusalem, this congregation of believers at Antioch was prompt to make up a relief fund and send it to the Church at Jerusalem, as an expression of its love and sympathy and oneness of spirit. It is more blessed to give than to receive, not only as respects the sentiment of the matter, but the results are still more blessed. No doubt the contributions sent were a comfort and a help to the Jerusalem brethren, but the blessing to the givers we may be sure was far greater. The Lord would reward them, and that in proportion as they had given, at some sacrifice as respects earthly things, luxuries, etc.
"Is thy cruse of comfort failing?
Rise and share it with another,
And through all the years of famine
It shall serve thee and thy brother.
Love divine will fill thy storehouse,
All thy handful still renew;
Scanty fare for one will often
Make a royal feast for two."
We do not mean to say that this principle could be worked out now, under present conditions, with the nominal church full of "tares," and thoroughly soaked in false doctrines. What we do mean to say is that had it not been for the sectarian spirit which early crept into the Church after the death of the apostles, there would not have been the present number of tares, professed Christians, nor the same amount of false doctrine discounting the true. Ambition for numbers and for influence led to the formulation of doctrines which attracted the tares into the Church. Without these false ambitions, and with the fundamentals of the ransom and full restitution
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clearly recognized by all, the nominal Church today would be amazingly smaller than it is, but it would be comparatively pure, and it would be at one with itself, and there would be no desire for any other name than that of the one Lord and Head.
The question then may arise, In view of this what should we do? Should we join with those who are trying to form a federation of all the churches? We answer, No, for two reasons: First, because common sense tells us that such a union as is proposed is not along the principles which the Lord laid down, but is merely a human expedient. (Second) The Lord's Word shows us an illustration in the harvest time, and that it is not the time for organizing, etc., but a time for reaping, separating, threshing, winnowing, and gathering into the barn of the true wheat--the time also in which the tares will be bundled for the day of burning or great time of trouble with which this age shall close.
Our proper course is to separate ourselves from all the Babylonian systems and to "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made free," and to own no other name than his, and to accept no other standards than those of his Word. Our duty, after coming ourselves into this position, is to help others into the same liberty, and to avoid putting restraints upon the brethren, or making tests of any kind, except such as are fundamental--faith in the ransom and full consecration to the Lord, which would include an honest desire to know the meaning of his Word. There can be no danger amongst such as are taking this position, and where only this class is recognized as the Church, and where this liberty wherewith Christ has made us free is strictly observed.
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AN INTERESTING QUESTION ANSWERED.
LIFTING THE CURSE.
Question.--When and how is the Adamic sentence lifted from the human race--the Church and the world?
Answer.--This subject has been treated at length in Dawn Vol. V., and also in our issue of August 1, 1901. For these reasons our answer here will be brief, for so large a question.
(1) The legal condemnation of the race has rested upon the world since Adam's disobedience, and this has led to the actual sufferings and dying of mankind. There is a difference, however, between the legal and the actual "curse." The legal curse or sentence went into force against Adam immediately after he had sinned, but the effects of that legal sentence in pain and suffering came on him and his posterity gradually, and are still with them. Similarly, there will be a difference between the cancellation of the legal sentence and the rescue of man from the difficulties which came upon him as the result of the legal sentence.
(2) The work of Christ, the work of the atonement, embraces both of these features--man's release from the legal sentence of the divine law, and subsequently his release from the actual pains and weaknesses which came upon him as a result of that divine sentence. Our Lord's death was a full offset to the sentence against Adam, and could have been so applied at once, had this been the divine arrangement. If so applied it would have canceled at once the legal sentence against man, but it would have done nothing in the way of recovering him from his fallen and dead condition--that work of restitution is separate and apart from his redemption or purchase from the curse or legal condemnation of the law.
(3) Instead of applying his death at once, as a full cancellation of the legal penalty against the race, the teachings of the Scriptures give us the thought that our Lord Jesus presented the whole matter of his death sacrifice on man's behalf before the Father, and that it became a credit on his account, but that it was not yet applied to the world. The next step in the divine
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program was the arrangement for the justification of the Gospel Church--not actually, but by faith, reckonedly. So many as believed, so many as accepted Jesus, were reckonedly justified--reckonedly had the legal curse lifted from them, tho they were actually allowed to remain under the weaknesses and difficulties resulting from that curse. To such of these, reckonedly justified ones, as made full consecration of themselves to the Lord, the privilege was granted of walking by faith in the footsteps of Jesus, and being conformed to his sacrificial death;--the promised reward for this being a share in the Lord's glory, honor and immortality. But not until the last member of this elect body of Christ shall have been accepted as faithful will this Gospel age of sacrifice terminate.
(4) As the Apostle explains, the Lord is reckoning that the various members of the body of Christ are filling up a measure of the afflictions of Christ (they are joined with him in the atonement sacrifice; not that their sacrifices could have been acceptable with God at all without that of their Lord Jesus, but that they are acceptable to God through and under the merit of his sacrifice). "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, your reasonable service." (`Rom. 12:1`.) When the Church's sacrifice is complete the whole work of suffering for sin ends, and forthwith the Church will be received to conditions of glory with her Lord, in the first resurrection, as he was received by the Father from the dead after he had finished his sacrifice. Then, according to the Scriptures, the Lord will appropriate on behalf of the whole human family so much of the merit of his own sacrifice, and of the entire sacrifice of the Church, as Justice could demand, and Justice will be fully satisfied of all its legal claims against mankind.
(5) As a result of such a legal satisfaction of the claims of Justice, early in the Millennial day, there will be no hindrance whatever to prevent the institution of the restitution arrangements which God has provided in Christ and the Church, and of which all the holy prophets have spoken since the world began. --`Acts 3:19-23`.
(6) Thus seen, the curse or condemnation for Adam's sin will be no more--as a legal sentence against mankind from thenceforth forever. Full atonement will have been made and accepted, for the
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sins of the whole world.* But this will not mean that the effects of the curse will then instantly disappear; just as if a man imprisoned for crime by an earthly court lost his hair, his sight, his hearing, and in general his entire health, while serving out the imprisonment; if he were then pardoned and set free the pardon would not restore to him his hair, his sight, his hearing, all his health. These must be sought for in some other direction. Justice is not responsible for their loss, and has nothing to do with their restoration. The freed man must look for some good physician. Just so with the race and its release from the sentence--from the condemnation to death. It must also look to the "Good Physician." And this is just what God is providing for the world in the glorified Christ--a wonderful and faithful Prophet, Priest and King--to rule and bless and uplift the redeemed world, or so many of the race as will accept his just and gracious terms.
(7) Here, then, we see the distinctions between Christ, the Redeemer, and Christ, the Life-giver. We were redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, and through the merits of that sacrifice all will be freed from the condemnation; and then, as the Life-giver, he who previously redeemed will restore as many as will accept his favors, bringing them back to the conditions of perfection from which they fell--back to a condition in harmony with their Creator, and thus back to a condition of at-one-ment with God by the close of the Millennial age.
*See "Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices."
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LETTERS OF INTEREST.
Dear Brother Russell:--
Having just finished carefully reading the recent "Watch Tower," and with profit comparing spiritual things in them with the spiritual things contained in the Book (`I Cor. 2:13`); and having found much food, both milk and meat (`Heb. 5:12-14`), I discovered among the papers in the hotel in Mt. Jewett, the March, 1902, number of "World Wide Missions," a twenty page monthly, now in its fourteenth year, and which from its attractive appearance bade fair to furnish an appetizing dessert to the full meal just partaken. But I studied its aggressive frontispiece and turned its pages in disappointment. At her bare cupboard Mother Hubbard's poor dog was equally fortunate; no food was there, not even a discussion of the Sunday School lesson.
What it did contain was five portraits of as many Reverend gentlemen, and two groups of missionary subjects; ninety-four articles of various lengths concerning meetings, work, services, revivals, conferences, discipline, rum and opium, church erection, impecunious missions, money, Buddhist opposition, addresses, colleges, health and food, Epworth League, charcoal, one short poem, New England, China and war, travels, Africa, Europe, Mexico, Korea, Porto Rico, Chicago, self-denial, charity, mission-giving, benevolence and six complimentary notices and six personals; it believes they are just on the eve of success in China, and that by proper effort the world will be evangelized during the twentieth century. There was much regarding persons and things, in which the first person, singular and plural, predominated; and finally, six and one-half of its twenty pages were devoted to thirty-eight miscellaneous and illy selected advertisements.
The brethren who edit the paper seem full of zeal; but, alas! it does not appear to be according to knowledge (`Rom. 10:2`). There was not a single Scripture reference, nor did I notice any Scripture quotations. They were very anxious to prevent the use of profanity, liquor, opium and tobacco, but the coarser sins are not mentioned, while the more refined, as envy, lust, gossip, are overlooked. Meekness is mentioned approvingly, as an adjunct to benevolence, and for the benefit of the missions' coffers; but love, joy, peace (`Gal. 5:22,23`) receive little attention. "Zions Watch Tower," on the contrary, contains of Scripture references nearly a thousand a year, and of quotations several times as many.
But if we are more favored by the light now due and shining upon us from the pages of the Bible, the "Dawns" and the "Towers," we have nothing of which to boast, nothing that we have not received (`I Cor. 4:7`); and we may well remember with fear that our duties and obligations increase as we advance from opportunity to knowledge, and from knowledge to still farther opportunity. Will you not pray for me, dear brother, as I do daily for you, that this wonderful glorious opportunity and light may not have come to us in vain.
With Christian love,
Wm. M. Wright,--Pennsylvania.
Dear Brother:--From the amount of publishing that you are doing, it is quite evident that your time must be fully occupied. On this account I have long hesitated to trouble you with my difficulties and hindrances to advancement in present truth. About one and a half years ago I received my first number of "Watch Tower," which I perused with pleasure and profit. Other numbers followed full of good Bible teaching.
I read the first volume of "Dawn" with much interest, and thought I had now found what I had been seeking for,--a substitute for the prevailing delusions of the day. I read and reread it and talked as much as I read, and gave to friends four or five copies. I then took up the succeeding volumes. I soon began to find things so contrary to my preconceived notions that I laid them aside and read volume V, which proved really "meat in due season." I have since been reading the three volumes laid aside and making some advancement. And now comes "Tower," March 15, containing the very subject I am stumbling over. I am reading them carefully and prayerfully, and hope to find the truth. Your effort to publish the truth is commendable.
"Old Theology Quarterly," in Yiddish is quite opportune. I think you hit the right thing to publish for Hebrews in that language which is spoken at the present moment by some millions of that people.
I am earnestly and prayerfully studying "Dawns." I have not much time for anything else at present.
Yours in the love and fellowship of the Truth.
C. C. Stanbro,--New York.