VOL. XVII. DECEMBER 1, 1896. No. 23.
Worship the Lord in the Beauty
of holiness. No. 1..........................283
The Tests and Privileges of
Questions of General Interest.....................290
"Be Temperate in All Things"......................291
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WORSHIP THE LORD IN THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS. NO. 1.
"The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him."--`John 4:23`.
THESE words of our Lord, it will be remembered, were addressed to the woman of Samaria. She had found him sitting upon the well, and he had improved the opportunity by preaching her a discourse on the "water of life." Finally convinced that her teacher was no ordinary person, but a "prophet" of extraordinary wisdom, she improved the opportunity by asking a question which had long been in dispute between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritans were a mixed people, not of pure Israelitish stock, nor fully conformed to all the laws and customs of the Jews. Hence the Jews had "no dealings with the Samaritans,"--considering them Gentiles. Indeed, our Lord indicated that he also esteemed them as Gentiles, outside the covenants and promises made to Israel; for we recall that when sending forth the disciples to preach the Kingdom of heaven at hand, he charged them straightly, saying, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not;" "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." --`Matt. 10:5`; `15:24`.
The disputed question the woman thought she could now have answered for her by a truly good prophet, who, although a stranger to her, could tell her more of her own affairs than she supposed any one knew. She would now ask this prophet whether the Jews were right or the Samaritans. The Jews claimed to be in the Lord's hand, under divine guidance, as the seed of Abraham, in preparation as God's instruments for the blessing of all the families of the earth; and following the divine leading they had at first prepared the tabernacle, or the Lord's tent, and afterward the temple, or the Lord's house, which they recognized as the most appropriate place for worship, and hence, wherever they were, they worshiped facing toward the temple in Jerusalem, the city of the great King. And the pious ones sought to come at least once every year to the temple there to present themselves before the Lord for his blessing. The Samaritans, on the contrary, held that the simplicity of worship observed by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob without tabernacle or temple, but in the mountain was the proper method of approach to God; and they apparently thought that Israel had drifted into a mere formalism of worship, and that they, the Samaritans, worshiped the Lord with greater acceptance than the Jews. This, then, was the important question as between Jews and Samaritans, and now apparently a most favorable opportunity had come to have an authoritative expression upon the subject from one whose wisdom in holy things had been demonstrated. And so she put the question, Which is the proper place to worship, in this mountain where we Samaritans worship, or in Jerusalem in the temple where the Jews worship?
Our Lord's answer makes clear two things: (1) that up to that time the Jews were right in their place and manner of worship--they were in harmony with the divine arrangement; their worship was according to a knowledge of the divine law. You Samaritans know not what you worship, you are guided not by the divine
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Word, but by your own impressions, while we Jews do know what we worship, we are following the divine injunctions; for God has ordained that salvation (the blessing of mankind through an opportunity of a deliverance from the curse, by the promised "seed" of Abraham) is to come through the Jews. God prepared that nation, its laws and arrangements for the development of the Savior.
Our Lord did not tell the woman that he himself was the great Jew, "born under the law" and justified by the law, the forepromised and foreshadowed "seed" of Abraham through whom the blessings were to come to mankind. Nor did he tell her that when he should finish his testing and prove himself worthy by obedience in the things which he suffered as man's redemption
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price, he would be the God-seed and Heir of the Abrahamic promises, and qualified and empowered to bless the world. Neither did he tell her that when glorified he would seek a Church as his bride or members of his body, to be joint-heirs with him in this work of blessing the world, and that to the Jews first would come this honor and privilege of sharing his sufferings and afterward his glory. Nor did he tell her that only a remnant of Israel would esteem the privilege, and that the remainder, the great mass, would be blinded for a time to spiritual things and rejected from divine favor, while that favor would be turned to the Gentiles, including the Samaritans, to complete the elect Church, the bride, the Lamb's wife. These truths, so forcibly set forth by the apostles, were not yet due to be preached nor to be understood; nor would they be until our Lord had finished his sacrifice and ascended up into glory, and presented that sacrifice before the Father as the ransom price for the sins of the whole world, and until the Father had accepted it, and as a consequence shed forth the holy spirit upon the consecrated believers in Jesus on the day of Pentecost. Then would be the proper time for the riches of divine grace to be revealed and for the call to joint-heirship with Christ ("the mystery which hath been hid from ages"--`Col. 1:26,27`) to be made clearly known.
But although it was not due time and hence not proper to declare that "mystery," it was due time and a proper occasion to answer to some extent the honest inquiry of the woman respecting the proprieties of worship. Hence, while telling her that the Jews had done right in the matter of temple worship, he does not advise her to become a Jew, but tells her that a change of dispensation is at hand and points her to it as the proper thing henceforth: The hour is coming, and now is (at hand), when neither this mountain nor Jerusalem will be favored for worshiping the Father. The new dispensation will be a spirit dispensation, and those who in that dispensation will draw near to God and be accepted of him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
The Lord does not say that there never had been previously true worshipers; quite to the contrary, the Scriptures teach that there were holy men of old whose prayers were acceptable before God and answered, yet they did not "worship in spirit" (for "the holy spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified," --`John 7:39`); neither had they worshiped in the truth, for the truth would only be revealed by the spirit's guiding them into it.--`John 14:16,17`.
The fact that we now are granted the "sealing" or "adoption" as sons of God, by the holy spirit, and a clearer knowledge of the truth as a result, and consequently possibilities of a more spiritual and intelligent worship, in no sense implies that we are more worthy of the favors than were some of the ancient worthies. Neither did the giving of the Law to all Israel prove that all of that people were more worthy of God's favors than some amongst the heathen who were left with less advantage every way. (`Rom. 3:2`.) When the due time came to send types of coming favors, God chose the nation of Israel as his agent in fore-shadowing Gospel blessings which would follow. But as it is not the hearer but the doer of a law that is justified by it, so it is not the one who has the greater opportunities as a worshiper that is blest most, but the one who uses his greater privileges and renders worship in accord with the spirit and the truth received.
Indeed, special honor is due to the ancient worthies, mentioned by the Apostle in `Hebrews 11`, who, living before the Spirit dispensation commenced, saw not the truth, but merely its shadows and types, and who nevertheless laid hold upon what they did see with such zeal that they were enabled thereby to be faithful, even unto death; and who not only thus win our admiration, but God's approval;--although "they without us [the Christ] should not be made perfect," God having provided a "better thing," higher privileges, for us.--`Heb. 11:40`.
The holy spirit, as heretofore shown,* is the name for any divine energy, whatever its manifestation. Operating upon the prophets of old, it caused them to speak and write the divine Word without comprehending the meaning of their own utterances in full, and sometimes not even in part. (`1 Pet. 1:12`.) Nevertheless, in obedience they had a blessing, and the people who heard with respect and endeavored to render obedience, so far as they understood, had a blessing from contact with the holy Word and holy power of God thus manifested amongst them. Yet the testimony is that very generally the people resisted what of the holy spirit they did appreciate and come in contact with, as the majority do to-day.--`Acts 7:51`.
*See our issue of June, '92.
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Since the great antitypical sacrifice of the Atonement has made actual reconciliation for iniquity, it made possible the acceptance of consecrated believers as sons of God (See `John 1:12`), and accordingly made possible for sons the highest manifestation of the holy spirit, as a spirit of adoption, which in due time, the Millennial age, shall be poured upon all reconciled to God (of all flesh, regardless of national lines), under the New Covenant. (`Joel 2:28`.) During this Gospel age, this spirit of adoption is restricted to the class of sons, the "brethren" and "joint-heirs" with Christ, now being selected, "partakers of the divine nature," begotten of the holy spirit as "new creatures." The disciples came in contact with the holy spirit in our Lord (who had it in fullest measure), and they were greatly blessed, because they (except Judas) did not resist its influence. Yet our Lord assured them that, with all their spiritual advantages, a still greater blessing would come to them as the result of his sacrifice and its presentation to the Father. He assured them that in his name the Father would send them the Comforter, the holy spirit, and that they should then have more than a contact with it; for it would abide in them. Through them it would exert an influence upon others (`Acts 24:25`), but none others than the "sons" could receive it, as an indwelling power, nor even become acquainted with it, for it is a seal or mark of sonship.-- `John 14:16,17`.
"If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." Those who receive this spirit are to grow, by the truth which it enables them to appreciate, to the full stature of spiritual development; and to be "filled with the spirit" of the truth. From the very first these spirit-begotten and instructed ones may come with faith and confidence to the throne of grace as worshipers, "accepted in the Beloved;" and they may continue to grow in divine favor, as with increasing knowledge, faith and devotion they follow the footsteps of their Lord as worshipers in spirit and in truth, whose every act and sentiment is obedience to the divine will.--`Heb. 4:16`.
The Gentiles up to the beginning of this Gospel age had been "without God" and "having no hope in the world" (`Eph. 2:12`), while the Jews, God's favored people, to whom he had given the law, and to whom "were committed the oracles of God," and who had advantages "much every way" (`Rom. 3:2`), had not received the spirit of the truth, the spirit of adoption, but had merely in their law and through their prophets the shadows of good things coming after. Their temple was a typical temple only; their priesthood a typical priesthood only; and their high priest a typical high priest; their sacrifices were but types of the better sacrifices to follow them. Their promises were only earthly promises, and they at very most merely foreshadowed the heavenly promises to the spiritual Israel not yet called. What they knew of God outside of these shadows of coming mercy and blessing was chiefly his justice and his power. They knew little of the love of God, for it had not yet been fully revealed; as it is written, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."--`1 John 4:9`.
No wonder then that with the love of God, the great and all important key to the divine character and plan, not yet clearly revealed, and the plan of God for human salvation still a "mystery hid," and the sacrifice of Christ not yet completed, and the new covenant not yet sealed, and the holy spirit not yet given;--no wonder that none up to that time except our Lord himself had ever worshiped the Father in the full degree since made possible to those granted the spirit of adoption and a knowledge of the truth. But our Lord declares that the Father seeketh no longer the worship of blind faith and reverence, nor the worship of forms and ceremony however reverential; nor the rent garments and prostrate bodies; but he seeks for and will now qualify true worshipers with knowledge and the spirit, that they may worship him with intelligent appreciation and not merely with reverence for his greatness and humble appreciation of their own insignificance; with bowed knee, but also with bowed heart. And more than all this, he seeks those whose worship will be not merely because of his power and favor, but because of an appreciation, to some extent, of the lengths and breadths, the heights and depths of the love of God which passeth (human) understanding. To this end he has not only provided the ransom whereby all the true-hearted may by faith approach him under the justification of Christ's imputed righteousness, but for such he has also provided the seal of sonship, the spirit of adoption, whereby they may recognize him, and whereby they may cry to him as a Father. And in addition to this, and through this agency of the spirit, he has provided that they may "know the truth," so that although it is written, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered
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into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him," yet "God hath revealed them [these hidden things] unto us by his spirit;" for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep (hidden) things of God.--`1 Cor. 2:9,10`.
It thus appears that it is by reason of the spirit of adoption, and through the spirit of adoption, and our knowledge of the divine character and plan, that the Church during this Gospel age, the real members of the body of Christ, are enabled to worship God still more
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pleasingly than could the ancient worthies. The hour came with Pentecost, and the time has continued for the past eighteen centuries, in which these sons of God (`John 1:12`) have thus been permitted to worship God in spirit and in truth. But, alas! how few even of those who have heard the Gospel, how few even of those who have named the name of Christ, have by full consecration become partakers of the spirit of adoption, and then as adopted sons, through intimate fellowship of spirit with the Redeemer and with the Father, and through the study of the Word of God, have come to that degree of development which enables them to worship him in harmony with his truth and in the very spirit of it.
That a worshipful attitude of heart is necessary before being introduced to a knowledge of the divine plan, and before being begotten by the spirit as sons of God, is made very evident by the Lord's dealings at the time of the introduction of the new worship in spirit and in truth in contrast with the former worship in faith, reverence, ceremony and dim knowledge.
Take, for instance, Nathanael. Notice how our Lord addressed him as an Israelite indeed in whom was no guile. He was sincere, a true worshiper according to the limited light and opportunities of his time; hence he was one of the very kind that the Lord sought as worshipers in spirit and in truth in the new dispensation. Hence, instead of addressing him in parables and dark sayings, that hearing he might hear and not understand, and seeing he might see and not believe, as when he taught the masses, who were not Israelites indeed, our Lord on the contrary made very plain to Nathanael his supernatural knowledge. And so when Nathanael inquired, Why do you, a stranger, speak so confidently with reference to my character as an Israelite indeed, our Lord answered, "When thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee." We are not informed that Nathanael had prayed under the fig tree, but we think it not an unreasonable surmise that, having heard of Jesus as the Messiah, Nathanael had sought heavenly grace and wisdom on that very day just before coming to see the Lord. He may indeed have asked for some divine instruction and guidance whereby he might be kept from deception and might know whether this were the very Christ or not. If so, our Lord's words would have a hundred fold more significance as the answer to his prayer, as a proof that Jesus was to such an extent the Father's representative, that even the sacred thoughts of his heart were known to him, and that he was approved and acceptable as an earnest seeker for the truth, and Israelite indeed. Nothing further of Nathanael's life is furnished us in the history but our Lord's testimony to his real heart character. We may safely assume that he was one of the "five hundred brethren" privileged to see the Lord after his resurrection, that he was one of those who waited in the upper room for the Pentecostal blessing; that thus from being a member of the house of servants under Moses he became a member of the house of sons under Christ (`Heb. 3:5,6`); that having been begotten of the spirit he might progress in the knowledge of the truth, growing from a "babe in Christ" to the "stature of a man" in grace and knowledge; that meanwhile from the beginning of his experience as a new creature in Christ Jesus (as a babe in Christ) he was privileged to worship God in spirit and in truth, and that this worship grew and became more and more complete as he neared the "stature of a man in Christ."
Another illustration about that same time was Cornelius. As the Centurion whose servant was sick, he had already manifested faith in the Lord Jesus to such an extent that our Lord said of him, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." The testimony respecting him was, that he was a just man, that he feared God, that he prayed and that he had been kind to God's people. More could not be said of him as a worshiper of God because, first, he was a Gentile without God and having no hope in the world; secondly, he had neither the truth nor the spirit of the truth which would have permitted him to offer any higher worship than that of fear and obedience. But we note how the Lord marked such characters not only in Israel but outside of Israel; and when the time was fully come (at the end of the seventy weeks of special favor to Israel-- three and one-half years after the cross), when the time came that the Gospel might be preached to the whole world for a witness, and the barrier between Jews and Gentiles was broken down, this same man, Cornelius, who worshiped to the best of his knowledge, was the first one to be favored outside of Israel. Although he prayed, gave much alms, feared God, and was just, yet before he could be called and accepted of the Lord or become a worshiper of the kind the Lord seeketh to worship him, he must be instructed --he must have the truth, and he must have the spirit of the truth. Hence by divine direction he sent men to Joppa to call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. (`Acts 11:13-16`.) He obeyed, he heard the words of eternal life, "the truth," he was ready for it and believed, and God immediately sealed him with the spirit of adoption as one of the sons of God. Then, as a spiritual "babe in Christ," being instructed in the truth and sealed by its spirit, he became a worshiper of God in spirit and in truth; and we doubt not he continued to grow in grace and knowledge, and consequently to grow more and more to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Another worshiper of God under the Law according
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to the shadow of good things to come, but not a worshiper in spirit and in the truth, because not possessed of the truth nor sealed by the spirit, was Lydia, a business woman to whom the Apostle Paul was directed soon after his arrival at the city of Philippi. Being a true worshiper according to her past opportunities, she was ripe for the truth. While other ears were closed to it, she heard the Gospel; while other hearts were unmoved by it, God "opened her heart," already consecrated and waiting, and thus she was received into the house of sons and became a worshiper in the truth and in its spirit.--`Acts 16:14`.
We might mention also Justus, who as a believer entertained Paul at Corinth, of whom it is declared that he "worshiped God," and who on this account was esteemed worthy of the truth and its spirit and its privileges.--`Acts 18:7`.
Indeed, in our Lord's declaration, "The Father seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in truth," we see that the whole mission of the Gospel may be properly understood to be for the purpose of seeking out from amongst mankind in general these true worshipers; and, properly enough, the early ministers of the Gospel sought first those who seemed to be earnest worshipers, and the message which they bore became a test to those who heard it, separating between the worshipers in form and those who truly and reverentially sought the Lord. Thus the Apostle Paul's ministry was summed up by his accusers in these words: "This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law.--`Acts 18:13`.
Worship in spirit and in truth does not apply simply to prayer, praise, supplication and thanksgiving. It goes deeper than all these and takes hold upon the affections, upon the heart, and hence signifies not an "act of worship" but rather a life of worship--a life in which, through the begetting of the spirit and the knowledge of the divine plan, the individual becomes so at-one with God and so in unison with the law of God and all the features of the plan of God that it is, in the words of our Lord, his meat and his drink to do the Father's will. This is worship in spirit and in truth. It will find its expression in bended knee and in orderly and reverential demeanor in approach to God in personal prayer, in family prayer and in company with the household of faith; and it will find its expression also in all the acts and words of life. The captivated heart will seek to bring every talent of the body into complete subjection to the will of God and of Christ. The whole of this is the worship which God seeketh; and, surely, only those who are thus captivated to the Lord in heart, and who serve him in spirit and in truth and endeavor to have his will done in their hearts, words and conduct, are in the full sense the true worshipers whom the Lord seeketh; the "little flock," the faithful "royal priesthood."
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THE TESTS AND PRIVILEGES OF DISCIPLESHIP.
"So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."--`Luke 14:33`.
TO be a disciple of Christ signifies much more, both in the way of responsibility and of advantage, than many seem to think. Our Lord's words are very explicit in defining the terms of discipleship to be nothing less than a full, complete consecration of
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all that we have and are to him who has bought us with his own precious blood. It must be a consecration to daily crossbearing and to following in the footsteps of Christ, even unto death. Hear the terms: "If any man come to me, and hate not [love not less] his father and mother and wife and children and brethren and sisters; yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple;" and "whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."
The terms are too plain to be misunderstood. They signify nothing less than, as Paul expresses it, the presenting of our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service. (`Rom. 12:1`.) No one of those failing to do this is recognized of the Lord as his disciple, or enjoys the privileges of that relationship; and, further, only those who do this intelligently and freely are accepted of him.
That the Lord would not have any one take upon himself the responsibilities of this relationship without due deliberation and forethought, is shown by his reasoning on the subject, saying, "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first and counteth the cost, whether he hath sufficient to finish it? lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand. And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an embassage and desireth conditions of peace."--`Luke 14:28-32`.
Again, when the two brethren, James and John, desired to be very near the Lord in the coming Kingdom, the Lord endeavored to impress upon them the consecration
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that such a proposition would involve; and from the few recorded words we gather the drift of the more extended conversation. "Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask." At that time they could form no idea of the blessedness of being joined with Christ in his Kingdom and glory, to sit with him in his throne and to reign with him as his bride and joint-heir. They only knew that they loved the Lord, and that it would be blessed to be forever in his immediate presence and favor. "Are ye able," said he, "to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" That baptism signified the complete surrender of self to God at any cost of privation or suffering, even unto death. And, with this understanding, they replied,--"We are able." So great was their faith in and love for the Lord that they were willing to follow in his footprints of suffering. Then the Lord accepted their consecration, saying,-- "Ye shall indeed drink of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on my right hand and on my left [to be associated thus intimately with me in my throne] is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father." (`Matt. 20:22,23`.) From his subsequent teaching through the apostles we learn that this position is reserved of the Father for the overcomers of the Gospel age then beginning; and therefore, at that time, it yet remained to be proved whether these would be faithful to their covenant.
While the terms of discipleship are thus explicit, the advantages are none the less so. To the disciples belong the special teaching, training and discipline of the holy spirit given unto them as the seal of divine sonship, and all the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel. While our Lord did much public teaching, his special attention was always given to his consecrated disciples. Of this class were the twelve apostles and others, but few of whose names have come down to us. Such, for instance, were the company present in the mount of prayer where the Lord solemnly set apart the twelve to be his apostles (`Luke 6:13`); also the seventy whom he sent out two and two before his face, and who returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name, and to whom the Lord replied, "Behold, I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." (`Luke 10:1,17,19,20`.) Such also apparently were Martha and Mary and Lazarus, and the women who were last at the cross and first at the sepulcher, and Joseph of Arimathea (`Matt. 27:57`), and the five hundred brethren of whom our Lord was seen after his resurrection.--`1 Cor. 15:5,6`.
These disciples all had the Lord's special love, fellowship and instruction; but the twelve apostles were the more constantly under his instruction in view of the work that was to be specially committed to them for the benefit of all the other disciples, both of that time and subsequently.
Notice also that the several apostolic epistles as well as the revelations of the Apocalypse are addressed in harmony with these conditions of discipleship.
It is for this consecrated class alone that the gospel feast (`Isa. 55:1-3`) is spread--the children's table. To this class the Prophet `Isaiah (8:16`) also refers, saying, "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." Yet from the children's table some crumbs of comfort may and do fall to others. Aside from this disciple class in our Lord's day was a great multitude who marvelled at his words, who believed, and who said, This must be the Christ, Hosannah to the Son of David! When Messiah comes will he do greater works than these?--whose sick were healed, and who were fed by the miraculous loaves and fishes in the wilderness. Yet these multitudes were weak in faith and fickle-minded. They were not committed to a definite purpose as disciples of Christ, and consequently they were swayed back and forth by the stronger wills of their leaders. They feared to trust fully to the divine testimonials of Christ when their leaders taught them to the contrary. But in their hearts many hoped this might be the Messiah, and several times they were on the point of taking him by force to make him their King. Yet they never came to the positiveness of conviction and trust in Christ which would lead to their espousing his cause fully at all hazards and thus becoming his disciples. Consequently, such never had the privileges of discipleship, and soon they became partakers in the national sin of rejecting Christ, either openly, or by that silence which implied consent.
What, we may inquire, was the Lord's attitude toward this great multitude whose faith had not brought them to the point of discipleship, but who nevertheless believed on him? `Matthew (9:36`) says he had pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. They were sheeplike in many respects, but they were not yet his sheep: they were not yet fully persuaded to follow his leading, though they liked his voice, and some said, "Never man spake like this man." They followed him afar off, with uncertain steps and crooked paths, not fully determined to walk by faith, but desiring the (to them) stronger evidence of sight concerning his Kingdom and general teachings. Yet they had for a time some benefits from following Christ, even thus afar off: they had some faith, and consequently
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some hope, some love and some of the joy and peace that naturally flow from these. They also witnessed and realized some of the healing and teaching and many of the loving ministries of the blessed Lord. But because they did not improve these advantages and follow on to know the Lord, but weakly or indifferently followed their prejudice-blinded guides, not turning to the law and to the testimony of the prophets to see if they spoke according to that word, it was not long before they were all involved in the sin of their leaders, and with them they stumbled into the ditch of unbelief and of great tribulation, and were blinded to the privileges and blessings of the gospel, and lost them. But, nevertheless, the Lord will yet have mercy upon them, and his favor will return to them after the full number from among the Gentiles shall have come in to the chief place of favor which Israel failed to obtain through unbelief.--`Rom. 11:1,2,23`.
In like manner also many sheep from among the Gentiles may lose their high privileges, if they walk not by faith. The Apostle Paul warns them against a similar stumbling through unbelief, saying,--"Be not highminded, but fear." A similar class all through this age has been brought under the influence of the gospel, and has similarly responded to it, and yet failed of discipleship. They have believed in Christ and have followed him afar off, and have been variously swayed by other influences than the Shepherd's voice. They have had some crumbs of comfort from the "children's table"--some faith, hope and love and some joy and peace in believing in the redemption provided for all in Christ Jesus. They have enjoyed some of the healing influences of the gospel as it has enabled them to cast off many of the old sins, and they have had some of the teaching and loving ministries of the saints, the Lord's body. They, like the multitudes in Christ's day, are not unbelievers; nor are they believers in the full sense, in the sense of that implicit confidence that freely ventures a full consecration--the sense of discipleship. They are not anchored and steadfast, but are easily swayed by leaders and by their own unstable minds. They like to company with the saints for the crumbs of comfort they receive, and also because they appreciate the righteousness of the saints, although they do not walk wholly with them; and they often
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give them the cup of cold water (some word or look or act of encouragement) because they are the Lord's disciples and are self-sacrificingly engaged in his service.
Such are not the enemies of the Lord, nor can they be regarded as his disciples in the full sense. Yet, in so far as they have advanced toward Christ, they have not been repelled by him. So also the true disciples of Christ do not repel even the weakest inquirers and feelers after God. "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye," says the Apostle, "but not to doubtful disputations:" receive such to do them good. And "him that cometh unto me," said Jesus, "I will in no wise cast out." Again it is written, "A bruised reed will he not break, and smoking flax will he not quench." If there be but a little kindling of the fire of true devotion to God and to his truth and righteousness, the spirit of God will operate upon it and endeavor to fan it into a flame as long as such continue to come under the influences of divine grace by companying with the full disciples of the Lord.
That there is, and always has been, quite a large class of such as these, companying with the saints, the full disciples of Christ, is manifest. And not only so, but such were the disciples also before they came to that fulness of intelligent consecration which meets the requirements of full discipleship. Indeed, the first coming to Christ is infantile in every respect; and not until we have passed the infantile stage and have been developed somewhat in Christian character can we intelligently comprehend and comply with the Lord's terms of full discipleship.
When, by the grace of God, we have been led of his spirit to a clear apprehension of the privileges and terms of full and continued discipleship, if we draw back and fail to go forward, we lose our standing as disciples. But if, notwithstanding the difficulties that seem to obstruct our way, we meekly bow to the will of Christ, being constrained by the love of Christ to follow on, we shall receive more and more of the fullness of his grace, until, like Paul, in a blessed consciousness of the all-sufficiency of that grace, we can say, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me."
Happy and blessed, indeed, is he who thus follows on in the course of a true disciple of Christ; who, in love and faithfulness, quietly takes up the daily cross and bears it without complaint, remembering that the servant is not greater than his Lord, and esteeming it a privilege thus to have fellowship with him now in his sufferings and to be disciplined and trained thereby for the higher fellowship with him in the glory that shall follow.
Such faithful disciples the Lord declares to be, even now, the very salt of the earth--a healthful, cleansing, preserving element in the midst of a world of moral decay and sinful pollution. In reference again to the same symbol and its peculiar fitness to his true disciples, Jesus here, after describing the terms of discipleship, adds, "Salt is good; but if the salt should become insipid, how shall it recover its savor?" "It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men."--`Luke 14:33-35`; `Matt. 5:13`.
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Good-for-nothing, unsavory salt! castaways from divine favor, and left to be trodden under foot of men! branches cut off from the vine to wither and dry for the burning (destruction)!--such is the picture which the Lord gives of the sad end of those who draw back from their discipleship in the school of Christ. Paul also expresses the same thought, but in plain, non-symbolic terms, saying, "If any man draw back [not if he merely slip through weakness of the flesh under the power of temptation, which may indeed be followed by a godly sorrow that worketh repentance, but if he wilfully and deliberately draw back, loving sin and doing despite to the spirit of favor,--returning again like the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire--if any man so draw back] my soul shall have no pleasure in him." The Apostle then shows what all such draw back to, when, encouraging all to faithfulness, he adds, "But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition [destruction], but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."--`Heb. 10:38,39`.
Beloved called ones, hearken to the Master's words: "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!" You may indeed be weary in well doing because of the reproaches of them that are without the pale of discipleship; temptations, violent or subtle, may press hard upon you; trials and cares may sorely afflict you; but we bring you these blessed words of cheer from the Word of the Lord:--"Have faith in God;" "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith." "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God [the divinely appointed Redeemer, Leader and Teacher of his people]?" "Cast not away, therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." "In your patience possess ye your souls." "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart." "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world," said Jesus; and Paul adds, "In that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." Therefore, "let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom."--`Mark 11:22`; `1 John 5:4,5`; `Heb. 10:35,36`; `Luke 21:19`; `Psa. 27:13,14`; `John 16:33`; `Heb. 2:18`; `Gal. 6:9`; `Luke 12:32`.
Let us, then, in view of these precious promises, "gird up the loins of our mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ"--at the establishment of his Kingdom and his revealing in glory and power. God will work in us to will and to do all his good pleasure, if we patiently submit to the transforming influences of his grace. The tests of discipleship come to us every day, saying, This is the way: walk ye in it. It is the narrow way of self-denial, of cross-bearing, and of diligent, patient, faithful service to God. But who that has trod this narrow way has not been made to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory in realizing the presence and favor of God and in communion with our Father and our Lord and with the faithful in Christ Jesus?--truly a joy which the world can neither give nor take away.
MRS. M. F. RUSSELL.
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QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST.
Question. Please state whether you consider as typical the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine in Joseph's time, and their significance in relation to the events of the next few years. There are some passages of Scripture which seem to indicate that there will be a period of prosperity prior to the breaking forth of the divine wrath.
Answer. We are inclined to think that the seven years of plenty and seven years of famine were typical: but it had not occurred to us (as you suggest) that the antitype would be like the type. We incline rather to the opinion that the seven years of plenty represent the grace and bounty of God in Christ laid up in the present time, and that the years of famine represent the Millennial age in which the world (perhaps the majority) will come to hunger after righteousness and find none except that which the antitype of Joseph (Christ) possesses and controls in the name of the great King.
And the selling by the Egyptians of their goods and themselves to the king through Joseph, in order to obtain food, we would understand to typify the consecration of the above mentioned of mankind, of themselves and all they have to Christ, if they would obtain the bread of eternal life.--See `Gen. 41:54-56`; `47:13-25`.
Question. Is heaven a place or a condition? If a place, where is it?
Answer. While it is true that beings might be in a heavenly condition; that is, spiritual and invisible to human sight, and yet be near us who are in the flesh; and while we believe that is the condition in which our Lord is now present, a spiritual or heavenly being, we could not agree that heaven is only a condition; it must also
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be a place, just as truly as the earth is a place. The most reasonable suggestion we know of is that offered in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., page 327; namely, that heaven is located in or in connection with the heavenly group, Pleiades.
In evidence that heaven is a place and at a distance from the earth, and that it requires time to go and come, notice the fact that our Lord said that he would "go away" and "come again." This could not be true if to go to heaven means merely a change from human conditions to spiritual conditions, because he will never come again to human conditions. He took upon him the form of a servant, and was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death... that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (`Heb. 2:9`.) He has finished that work and has no further use for the body of humiliation and has been glorified; and is the express image of the Father's person.
Again our Lord says in the parable that the Nobleman went away to a far country.--`Luke 19:12`.
Again we are informed that the holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (`John 7:39`), indicating that as soon as Jesus would be glorified the holy Spirit would be given to the waiting Church. And we know that from the time our Lord ascended up on high until the descent of the holy Spirit was ten days.
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"BE TEMPERATE IN ALL THINGS."
--DEC. 13.--`PROVERBS 23:15-25`.--
"For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty."--`Prov. 23:21`.
HAVING found a lesson for the old in the experience of Solomon and his alienation from God in old age, we come in this lesson to the words of wise instruction to the young.
(`15,16`) The exhortation is that of a parent or a teacher who has had experience in life and who fain would be helpful through advice to one starting upon life's pathway. Knowledge of good and evil may reach us either through the instruction of those who have already profited by either or both of these. To profit by instruction is indeed an evidence of wisdom. The "prudent [wise] man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple [foolish] pass on, and are punished." (`Prov. 22:3`.) We see folly in this respect repeated every day. Those who profit by the experiences of others either through instruction or observation are the smaller number, but they are the wise ones. The majority must gain their wisdom through severe experience--punishment for errors, for rashness, for lack of observing the natural laws of cause and effect. Since they will not learn through instruction that whatsoever a man soweth the like shall he also reap, they must learn this lesson through bitter experience. The lessons of wisdom learned, no matter in which school, the school of instruction or the school of experience, are valuable, and ultimately, we believe, will be profitable to the majority of our race. Ultimately all shall learn that peace, joy, divine favor, including everlasting life, can be had only by walking in the way of truth, honesty, righteousness--the godly way.
A GOOD WAY.
This lesson seems to picture before our minds a youth starting upon life's journey where two roads meet; the one an upward road, an honorable course of morality, prudence, self-control, patience, perseverance, righteousness; the other path a downward road, a way of gratification of the depraved tastes and appetites of the fallen human nature, a way of apparent ease, of carelessness for the truth and for honesty and self-restraint, a way of loose liberty, a way that leads into intemperance of language, of thought, of conduct, of food and of drink; and which leads on to further degradation and dishonor.
The voice of wisdom is heard by nearly every young man and woman starting in life, directing them to the upward and honorable path; it reaches them either through parents or instructors or friends or observation. The smaller number, however, are wise enough to accept heartily the instruction and so to avoid the downward path entirely. The vast majority desire the pleasures of sin for a season at least. They
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have no thought of going onward in the path of sin, but merely to remain near by the noble path of morality and honesty and truth. They do not realize that each step in the downward road away from the path of righteousness will cause their hearts to lose appreciation of righteousness and to become inured to sin. Very few, therefore, accept the lessons of wisdom promptly and heartily, and act thereon. There will indeed be opportunities farther down the journey of life to leave the downward way and to seek the upward path, but they will be much more difficult than at the beginning, at the parting of the way in youth--more difficult because the downward path has been leading their characters and sensibilities farther and farther away from the way of morality and honesty.
(`17,18,19`) There may be times when those who
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walk in the way of wisdom may seem to see disadvantages therein, and pleasures in the way of sensualities; but the voice of wisdom instructs such to look beyond and consider the full end of the downward way, to respect the Lord and seek to walk honestly and uprightly, assured that the end of this course will eventually be better than the other. "Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the [good] way."
(`20,21`) Statistics show that hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year for intoxicating liquors, which not only fail to profit the users, but which do others as well as themselves serious injury--mental, moral and physical. How many have been brought to poverty through intoxicants! And, to our shame be it said, this sin against self and manhood is more common in the civilized or so called Christian nations than in some others.
The sin of gluttony leads usually to another kind of poverty. The poor may become sotted with drink, but rarely can they afford to be gluttonous. Gluttony is chiefly, therefore, a sin of the rich or well-to-do. It leads to poverty of both mental and physical strength. It is as truly intemperance as drunkenness, although not so far reaching in its bad influence.
The lesson speaks of the intemperance and impropriety of sloth, or idleness, or lack of energy; and the observation of every wise man proves that true happiness is associated with energy--mental and physical activity. "Not slothful in business," is one of the characteristics of a Christian, as set forth by the Apostle. We live in a day, however, in which another form of intemperance prevails in an opposite direction with not a few--intemperance in energy and ambition; a consuming desire for honors or wealth, that robs many, not only of proper social enjoyments, but, more important still, of spiritual privileges and joys.
(`22,23`) True wisdom will never despise the counsel of the aged, especially from parents, of whose interest in the child's welfare there can rarely be doubt. It is one of the peculiarities and difficulties of our day that because of the sudden increase in knowledge and educational facilities the young have in many departments of knowledge outstripped their seniors. The resultant tendency is disrespect for the experiences and advice of parents and seniors, and a disposition to be heady, high-minded, unthankful, unholy, disobedient to parents and other like disgraces foretold by the Apostle as features of our day. (See `2 Tim. 3:4`.) On this account additional wisdom and great patience are needful on the part of parents and all instructors of the young. Recognizing the influences which counteract parental instruction, and recognizing the fact that the children may be in advance in some points, the wise parent should seek to set a good example in proper childlikeness himself, and be ready to learn from and with the children along the lines of their superior advantages, explaining that the present increase of opportunities for knowledge are phenomenal, and not of men but of God, as foretold by the prophet respecting the "time of the end." (`Dan. 12:4`.) By this course of honesty and wisdom the parent will maintain the confidence of his child, who will then be the better prepared to learn in turn along the lines of the parent's experiences in life and respecting principles of morality and the evil tendencies of immorality. Thus wisdom in the parents has very much to do with the choice of wisdom by the child. One of the chief lessons to be inculcated is, that truth is precious above all things-- with reference to the ordinary affairs of life and dealings between men, with reference to spiritual things, with reference to God, and with reference to the divine plan. Truth is to be prized, and those who love and practice the truth are to be esteemed, and such only; error, falsehood, no matter how gaudy or showy or attractive, is to be disdained and repudiated. This is in harmony with our Lord's prayer, "Sanctify them [i.e., separate them from the evil and set them apart for good] through thy truth: thy Word is truth."
(`24,25`) These verses suggest, and properly, that wisdom in the young does not depend wholly on inculcation, instruction. Probably the majority of wise children are born wise. "He that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him." If parents in general could realize the importance of the parental office and the bearing of their own characters and sentiments upon their offspring, laying the foundations for good and wise characters before the children are born, the responsibilities of their position and relationship would, we believe, not only favorably influence their children, but help also to develop positive character in themselves.
The parents who have failed to discern the laws of nature under whose control they have brought forth children; and whose children therefore reflect the parental unwisdom and unsettledness of character, have in consequence double reason for exercising patience toward the unwisdom of their offspring, and double reason for perseverance in their later efforts to correct that unwisdom and to lead their children into right ways.
A STILL MORE EXCELLENT WAY.
It should be carefully observed that the way of morality, temperance, moderation and wisdom above set forth, although a commendable way, is not the way in which the Christian of this Gospel age is invited to walk, in the footsteps of his Lord, to
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attain glory, honor, immortality and a share in the heavenly Kingdom as one of the kings and priests. (`Luke 13:24`; `12:32`; `Rev. 5:10`; `20:6`; `Rom. 8:17`.) The foregoing is sound advice for all, and none should be more quick to follow it than the consecrated, the "new creatures in Christ Jesus." But the "Narrow Way" of self-denial and self-sacrifice marked out in the New Testament is the pathway of those who would win the prize of the high calling to joint heirship with Christ as his Church, his Bride.
All sensible people commend the path of temperance and morality above set forth, but few appreciate or commend the "narrow way" in which the Church is called as the bride to follow the Lord, her Bridegroom. The narrow way is foolishness to the world, neither can the worldly appreciate it, because its value must be spiritually discerned. (`1 Cor. 2:7-16`.) The wisdom that indicates and approves the narrow way of self-sacrifice is an inspired or begotten wisdom which cometh from above only to the consecrated, the spirit-begotten. It is inspired, not by earthly hopes or aims or promises or ambitions, but by "exceeding great and precious promises," "heavenly promises," of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and unfading, which the earthly eye has not seen, which the earthly ear has not heard and which has not been appreciated by the heart of the wisest of men. To so great an extent is this true that in the estimation of the worldly the way of the fully consecrated seems foolishness. In view of this the Apostle declares that as the world does not know the Lord, and does not understand his plan, which is higher than the world's conception as the heavens are higher than the earth (`Isa. 55:9`), so the worldly do not understand the true Church; and as the Apostle said, "We [who walk the "narrow way"] are counted fools all the day long,"--harmless but "peculiar people." The moving impulses which help us in this "narrow way" were only received after we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, when we made full consecration of ourselves to the Lord and received the spirit of adoption into his family. Then, because children of God, we received his spirit and were privileged to know more and more of "the mystery of his will," "the hidden mystery" (`Eph. 3:9`; `1:9`), to appreciate the divine plan in harmony with which (and in harmony with our consecration) we have joy in spending our lives, in "laying down our lives," in faithfulness in the service of the Lord; in the calling and perfecting of his saints to be the first fruits of the salvation purchased by the Redeemer.
Those who have received this special sealing of heavenly wisdom, and who are walking this "narrow way" of full consecration to the Lord, although counted "fools," are the truly wise referred to throughout the Scriptures:--"the wise virgins," "the wise shall understand," "the wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament." They who attain to this wisdom and this relationship to Christ do so at the expense of earthly reputation, as the Apostle declares: "If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool [according to the earthly standard], that he may be wise."--`1 Cor. 3:18`.
Once when we misunderstood the divine arrangement, and did not see that the "little flock" is to be a "kind of first fruits unto God of his creatures" (`James 1:18`), but supposed that the "little flock" who walked the "narrow way" of self-sacrifice would be the only ones to receive any measure of divine favor hereafter, that all others would suffer some kind of awful punishment,
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because they did not walk in the "narrow way" which few of them saw and which still fewer of them were able to appreciate, it perplexed us greatly; as it still perplexes the majority of Christian people. Thank God that we now see in his Word the clear instruction that when this "little flock" shall have been selected and rewarded with joint-heirship with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom, then the "narrow way," will have ceased and another way, "a highway" shall there be opened up--a way in which the human family as a whole shall be invited to return to harmony with God and righteousness through the Great Mediator and under the terms of the New Covenant sealed with his precious blood. It will not be a downward way like the way of sin in the present time, but an upward way. "The redeemed of the Lord shall go up thereon." It will not be a narrow way, that few can find, but a "highway," from which the stumbling blocks of temptation will be removed, and on which the ravenous beasts of evil and temptation will not be permitted.*-- `Isa. 35:8,9`.
We can thus see that, while a life of honesty and morality will not fill the requirements of the "high calling" of this Gospel age to joint-heirship as the bride, the lamb's wife, yet those who during this present time seek to live soberly, justly, truthfully, morally, and who thereby develop character, will be much in advance of the besotted and degraded of mankind (who gratify instead of restraining the fallen tendencies of their nature), when the new age shall open up in which all the families of the earth shall be blessed by the great "Seed of Abraham," Christ and his Church, the bride.--`Gal. 3:16,29`.
The call of wisdom to the way of honesty, morality, etc., has been heard and to some extent followed by heathen as well as civilized people; by unbelievers as well as by those who have heard of Christ; and to some
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., Chap. II.
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extent they have profited by his teachings, and all who walk in this, the way of wisdom, secure blessings both for the present life and also a preparation for the future blessings promised. But the "narrow way," pointed out to some by the still higher wisdom, is found by none of the heathen; Christ is the Door, the Gate, to this "narrow way," and it has but one, which opens to believers only. Although it is not merely a way of morality, but a way of consecration and sacrifice, nevertheless it includes morality in every respect, and to a higher degree than the unconsecrated generally recognizes. Those who are on the "narrow way" are required to consecrate their all, including their wills, and to receive instead the will of their Lord and Head, and to operate in harmony with that will. And since Christ's will is perfect in righteousness, truth, purity and goodness, all who walk in his will must walk as closely as the weakness of their flesh will permit after the spirit, after the will of their Head, and not after the will of the flesh.
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The following, received July 24, '96, will be encouraging to those who sometimes see little result from tract distribution. It shows that immediate results may follow in the experience of the recipient of the tract, though they may not be apparent for many months.
GENTLEMEN:--In 1894, while attending the C.E. Convention at Cleveland, Ohio, your tract "Do You Know?" fell into my hands. I was much interested in it, and have often thought of writing for further information; but for sundry causes have delayed. Have been much interested in reading and studying the prophecies since reading your tract; but feel the need of some help and guides. What can you do to help me? What is the "Chart of the Ages" spoken of in the tract? and what does it cost, etc.? Any information or helps will be thankfully received.
Yours in Him, __________
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--We had a good meeting Saturday afternoon with about 75 people present. Yesterday we held two meetings in an old church building, about twenty miles from here, with an attendance of over one hundred. Since coming here one week ago fourteen meetings have been held, three in private houses and eleven in public buildings. Some drove over fifteen miles to the meeting yesterday. I send a number of names for sample TOWERS.
I had a very peculiar experience in__________county, a mountain district, where the people think nothing of using pistols, and where the prejudice against the truth was very strong.
Brother __________ had spoken to one of the leaders in the Christian Church; he told him we would use the building Saturday evening; and it was so published. The Methodists held a meeting in a Baptist church building that evening, and the Christian friends closed their building out of courtesy to them, they said. It was then understood that we should have the use of the building Sunday afternoon, but matters were so arranged as to make that impossible. They then agreed to let us use the building for three services Monday, and announcement was made to that effect; but when we went there Monday morning, it was locked, and the janitor refused to open it.
Some who were very anxious to hear what we had to say then went to some of the leaders in the Baptist Church, who agreed to let us use that building Monday afternoon and night, and the janitor was paid in advance for cleaning and lighting. The friends published the meeting by going through the town and telling every one they met. A member of the Baptist Church, who heard of the proposed meetings, hurried to town to stop them. He said that if that stranger preached in the Baptist Church he would have to "stand over his dead body." As we had no desire to be riddled with bullets from a "Baptist gun," we decided not to have the meetings in the church.
You can imagine that by this time quite an excitement was stirred up. We had distributed tracts at the meetings Sunday; and this, with the bitter feeling aroused in the minds of some by the action of the church members, created a strong desire for a meeting. Several in sympathy with us then obtained the school house for the evening. The house was crowded, and I spoke
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nearly two hours. The "best element" of the place attended. We distributed more tracts, and many gave their names for sample TOWERS. I am inclined to think that the results will be greater than if we had succeeded in holding meetings without opposition.
I arrived at __________, which is a "Shaker Community," and was warmly received by Brother E__________. The "Shakers" are very exclusive religiously and do not permit preachers not of their faith to hold meetings in their midst. But for the first time in the history of this Community they departed from that time-honored custom and permitted me to preach in their school building. We held three meetings with an average attendance of 75 or 80, I judge. Most of those who attended the meetings were delighted.
Yours in love and service, FRANK DRAPER.
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