VOL. XXII. SEPTEMBER 15, 1901. No. 18
Views From the Watch Tower........................291
The Outlook--War and Prosperity...............292
"Finally, Be All of One Mind".....................294
Fighting the Good Fight of Faith..............295
Faith and the Messages Essential..............297
The Blessed Inheritance for which
We are Being Prepared.......................298
"Hated Without a Cause"...........................298
Poem: Pass Under the Rod..........................301
Words of Cheer and Encouragement..................301
Public Ministries of the Truth....................304
Our Special Edition Linear Bible..................290
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OUR SPECIAL EDITION LINEAR BIBLE.
We have received a sufficient number of orders for the new Bible to warrant us in proceeding with its publication. It is to be printed from the regular "Linear Bible" electroplates with special DAWN and WATCH TOWER references in the one-inch-wide margins. Additionally we will add a Topical Index giving Scripture references as well as DAWN and WATCH TOWER references. These were prepared by two sisters in Los Angeles, California.
Our readers are aware that these Bibles are being prepared at considerable trouble, for their convenience and spiritual assistance and not for financial profit: indeed we run the risk of losing something. We do not wish to urge any orders, but feel sure some who do not order will be greatly disappointed when they see the books in the hands of others and think of what they have missed. The price is only about one-third that of the same book without the wide-margin references which will so greatly add to its value among WATCH TOWER readers. See the illustration of type in our issue of July 15. Two bindings, $2.00 and $3.00 post-paid. We advise the better bound one to all who can afford it.
Orders may be sent in at these prices during September; but not later. Some will be printed, extra, for a party who believes they will be in demand at much higher prices.
THE LEATHER-BOUND DAWNS
are sold only in sets--5 volumes. This insures correspondence in shade of leather, finish, etc.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
A WRITER in the Advance facetiously points out the antagonism between the Bible and its true friends on the one side, and the Higher Critics on the other. But he does not seem to realize that the followers of these higher critics are in most of the pulpits and in the most influential pews of Christendom; --that the secret of the prevalent skepticism and indifference of professing Christians is doubt. It is not the loud and foul-mouthed infidelity of a century ago; but much more insidious and dangerous, because it has a "form of godliness"--much more deceptive to such as are sincere truth-seekers. The writer says:--
"Beyond any question some unknown writer gathered up the legends of his time and used them to describe a hero, whom he named Abraham. A later writer used the same legends, but he called his hero Isaac. Without doubt all these stories were invented to account for the supremacy of Israel over Edom." So said a Rev. Dr. in his 'lecture' to some fifty ladies of his church a few days since--in a Congregational church not far from Boston! At the close of the lecture, among others this question was asked: 'Doctor, do you believe that any such persons as Abraham and Isaac ever lived?' 'Well, I don't know,' replied the Doctor. 'It is quite possible that persons bearing those names have lived, but probably these names represent nations or tribes. I should say that the weight of best modern scholarship is against the theory that any such persons as Abraham and Isaac actually lived.'"
Being from the backwoods and not familiar with the "best modern scholarship," I was wont to exclaim, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it!"
What a pity that Isaiah could not have heard a course of lectures like these before he prophesied! Then he would have been spared the mortification of making such a reference as we find in his prophecy-- `Chapter 41:8`: "But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend." And another blunder worse than the first: "Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him!" But it may be that "the best modern scholarship" will discover, if indeed it has not already proven, that no such prophet as Isaiah ever prophesied or lived even! This would do much in clearing the way for a solid foundation for our faith!
It is a great pity also that Matthew could not have heard or read a few lectures concerning the "higher criticism" before he wrote his book; for he would have omitted the first chapter which has deceived so many ignorant souls since his time! A great many people have lived in times past and "fell on sleep" believing that in some way Jesus was descended from Abraham! Alas, what ignorance! Why could not the wise men of the East have discovered this new knowledge ages ago?
Moreover, what a help it would have been to Jesus if He could have known the "last word of our best modern scholarship!" He would not have been deceived, nor would he have deceived others by quoting from those "old legends," as He did in `Matt. 22:32`: "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob!" Nor would He have said: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it and was glad. I say unto you before Abraham was I am." `John 8:56,58`. Then think of the unfortunate Stephen! Had he only known the results of "the best modern scholarship" he never would have spoken as he did in `Acts 7:5`--and so might have saved his life! If he was ignorant or so foolish as to rehearse as true a lot of "legends" about people who never lived, why should not the multitude gnash on him with their teeth, stop their ears, run upon him with one accord, cast him out of the city and stone him to death! James too was deceived and quoted as a fact a passage from those same "old legends": `Jas. 2:23`.
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But the most deluded of all those poor, ignorant men, who lived and worked in the first century was Paul! How unhappy he must be even in heaven (if there is any heaven), if he now knows the "last word of best modern scholarship!" His ignorance first appears in quoting the same "old legend" that fooled James in his letter to the `Galatians--3:6`. He repeats the myth in his letter to the `Romans--4:1-4`. But worse than this, in the `ninth chapter` he digs up and palms off onto the innocent and unsuspecting Romans a whole string of "legends!"
Ah me! Four years of preaching and working does not seem to have brought any more light into his benighted mind! for then he wrote that strange epistle to the Hebrews! Who can read the eleventh chapter of that epistle in the light of "the best modern scholarship," with any degree of allowance for the ignorant writer?
Poor Paul!--To think of the sermons written and spoken from the "legends" quoted by Paul in that chapter is enough to give a man spiritual nightmare! And the preachers have believed those stories to be true, and so have deceived their flocks. "The blind leading the blind!" These deluded preachers have cited Abraham for an example of faith, living, saving faith, lo, these centuries past! And yet Abraham never lived! To buttress their sermons on prayer, these same preachers have quoted again and again Abraham's petitions as found in the "legends" recorded in `Gen. 15`, `17` and `18`! What a debt of gratitude we owe to the "higher criticism," that our eyes have been opened and that with the very beginning of this glad new century "the best modern scholarship" has brushed away the myths and "legends" of the ages and given us a "new theology" founded upon the latest researches of "the higher criticism!"
* * *
The serious feature of the matter is, that Christian people in general are but "babes" as respects a knowledge of God's Word, and hence liable to lose their little all of faith; especially when the doubts are suggested by their leaders, to whom they have been taught to look too implicitly for guidance in matters of faith.
The Word of God clearly shows us that so great a falling away from the faith is to be expected here, in the end of the age, as will justify our Master's words,--"When the Son of Man cometh [is present] shall he find faith on the earth?" (`Luke 18:8`.) These are the "perilous times" mentioned by the Apostle, and of whose deceptions our Lord said,--"If it were possible [if they were not divinely aided] the very elect would be misled by them."--`Matt. 24:24`; compare `2 Thes. 2:10-12`; `2 Tim. 3:1-5`.
The only safe-guard for the Lord's people now is the "present truth" with which the Lord is so bountifully supplying the "table" of his fully consecrated people. God has so arranged the outward evidences respecting the Bible that the world and all who have the spirit of the world can find plenty to cavil at and stumble over. The Lord's intention was and still is that only from the inside can his Word and plan be seen in their true beauty and strength. He intends it to be "sufficient, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work." But who are genuinely men of God, is the question. The difficulty is that many professing to be men of God are men of their own--not consecrated: and many of the consecrated are consecrated to a particular work or theory or sect instead of to God. Now the "hour of trial" has come which will show the real standing of each one professing godliness. God is now making it quite possible for every "man of God" to be thoroughly furnished, fully equipped, at the same time that he is permitting the Adversary to bring in error like a flood.--`Isa. 28:2,18-20`; `59:19`.
In view of these conditions let all whose eyes are open, all who see where we are and what is coming, be alert first for themselves that they may be of the "brethren" who will see and be delivered, by giving the more earnest heed to the things which God has shown us, lest we let them slip; and secondly, for all who give any evidence of being "brethren," to assist them as much as lieth in us. Thus we may make our own calling and election sure, and minister grace to all with whom we come in contact.--`2 Pet. 1:10`; `Eph. 4:29`.
THE OUTLOOK--WAR AND PROSPERITY.
As our readers are aware, we credit the prosperity of the world during the past three years very largely to their wars, which have put hundreds of millions of dollars into circulation among the people, and stimulated manufacturing, shipbuilding, etc., at a cost of an increase of public debts, which, being put into the shape of negotiable bonds, is practically an increase in the world's circulating medium--money.
Our principal reason for looking for a further period of prosperity and inflation is, that in our judgment
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there is scarcely time enough to permit a panic and period of general prostration and then another period of prosperity and inflation and another panic, etc., by the time which we think the Scriptures indicate as the time for the great cataclysm of trouble; by which the present institutions of Christendom are all to go down in anarchistic chaos. The culmination of the trouble in October 1914 is clearly marked in the Scriptures;* and we are bound therefore to expect a beginning of that severe trouble not later than 1910;--with severe spasms between now and then.
Should the severe trouble come in 1910 we may infer that it will be preceded by a period of gradual financial and social disturbances, similar to those of the past, and leading on toward the condition of desperation then, or sooner, to be reached. For these reasons we expect the present wave of prosperity to roll on a little while: and since it could not do so without war, or something of the kind, to put more money and more bonds into circulation--therefore we look for war, possibly numerous small wars, possibly great ones. It is a time for wars and rumors of wars, and of crying Peace, Peace; but the end is not yet,--a more pronounced federation of Protestantism is first to be expected, and a consequent persecution of such as will refuse to worship it.
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOLS. II., III.
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In harmony with the foregoing, read the following extract from that very conservative London journal, "The Spectator:"--
"THE LITTLE CLOUD."
"One grand difficulty of the past, the insufficiency of useful products, is being rapidly obviated. The world is being searched for more pleasant things, and with the new facilities for intercommunication the search is well rewarded. As regards food, indeed, always the first of human preoccupations, the world has been pooled, and where absurd laws do not interfere bread is now so abundant and so cheap that the age-long ascendency of those who by owning the soil controlled its production is threatened, and will probably disappear. It is more than probable that the speed of human transit, and the inherent power of the instruments used by man to lighten toil, will be enormously increased--a new and lighter accumulator of electricity would effect that at once--while it is possible that the fertility of the earth itself, the locked treasure-house of all things, may be materially increased. The energy of white mankind, relieved of many superincumbent weights, has been developed beyond precedent, and the highest men of science see dimly that even man's power of thinking may be enlarged by a comprehension of laws as great as gravitation which are still hidden from his ken, but the filmy veil of which shows an inclination to disappear. The "rolling back of the heavens" in the fifteenth century, on which thinkers and rhetoricians have so often dilated, would hardly expand man's conceptions more than an accurate and fairly full comprehension of the nature and properties of the all-pervading though invisible substance which we have agreed to call the ether.
"In the midst of all these facts and prospects men remain silly, and a new and serious danger bewilders all who can think. The white world may fling its future away for the gratification of its spites and greeds. The nations have become conscious of each other, and they snarl. The fierce jealousies, the fiercer greediness, the distrusts fiercest of all, which in history are seen to have divided the dynasties, now divide the peoples. Each is as angry when it sees another gain anything as a dog when it sees a bone in another dog's mouth. Each thinks itself injured when another is enriched, and, what is worst of all, each believes in its heart that every other is plotting astutely and carefully to deprive all rivals of that which they possess.
"The new hunger for comfort, the new knowledge of the external world and the riches it contains, unite with the new freedom and rapidity of intercommunication to produce a hatred of rivals at least as strong as the ancient hatred of races or religions. Great nations are ready to fight to the death for transmarine acquisitions, for privileges of trading, and above all for profitable monopolies. Governments are forced to "interfere," usually with menace, to secure concessions for their subjects. The popular papers are full of profits about to be pilfered away. The more popular the representative the more angrily he pleads for objects which, in plainer language, are large profits to be reaped by his constituents. If the State buys anything abroad he is furious; if it is indifferent to a foreign tariff he is in despair; if it does not prevent a rival railway he asserts, and almost believes, in treachery in his rulers. It is impossible for him to believe that the claims of others may be well founded, and the imputations in which he indulges resemble nothing so much as those of priests against heretics, or scholars against each other in the Middle Ages.
In short, while the Governments are tranquil the peoples hate each other to the point at which the maintenance of peace becomes daily a more difficult performance. The spirit infects all countries alike, even Great Britain, usually so free in her inner pride from any impulse either of envy or apprehension; and if it cannot be allayed there will in the end be war. And war in England or with America now fully included in the circle of jealousies, would mean the disappointment for half the century of all the hopes with which it begins, the waste of the new resources upon competitive and skilful killing, and the diversion of all powers of thought from conquests over Nature to conquests over each other. Everything, in fact, in the time is propitious except the nature of man, which in its new freedom from the pressure of suffering is allowing the freest play to some of his meanest instincts. So far as safety and progress are concerned, the world has gained little by the exchange of royal ambition as the driving force in politics for popular jealousy and greed."
WHAT OTHERS ARE COMING TO SEE.
The "Grocer's Criterion" (Chicago) commenting on the fruit and vegetable scarcity resulting from the general drouth of the past Summer points out that this means deprivation to the poorer classes, and high prices for life's necessities, etc. It then concludes,--
"The cost of living everywhere will be enormously increased all over the country. With the coal trust putting up the price of coal and other trusts advancing the cost of the necessaries of life, the outlook for the masses is not very encouraging. The labor situation has not improved and there is a growing feeling of discontent among the poorer classes in every manufacturing locality.
"We have been enjoying a long period of prosperity, but over-reaching greed will soon result in bringing about an industrial revolution. Success has turned the heads of ambitious promoters, and they desire to control and monopolize the business of the world, which will eventually end only in universal disaster. We believe that the beginning of the end of the present era is at hand. We look to see want, misery and suffering in the near future. We expect to hear of outbreaks, riots and bloodshed at almost any time, and the conditions are ripe for a bloody conflict between capital and labor.
"The long drought will tend to aggravate the parties to the present struggle.
"We can not reasonably expect the difficulties now existing to be soon amicably or justly settled. Greed is apparent and uppermost and is crushing labor with
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an iron hand; labor is struggling for its very life with a fair prospect of being overcome--yet there are no immediate signs of a panic. There may be a slumbering volcano beneath us, but it has not yet burst into fiery eruption. Business men everywhere are entrenching themselves to meet the emergency when it comes, and to this conservative policy we may attribute the present calmness in the commercial world and the absence of anything like a panicky feeling among business men."
Watch Tower and Millennial Dawn readers have seen the above conditions for these many years in the light of the divine Word. The Editor has been proclaiming these things for nearly thirty years. It is an evidence of the ripening of the matter when the worldly can see them without the secret light of God's Word,--clearly discernible only by the "royal priesthood" in the "holy" place, in the light of "the golden candlestick." But our sorrow for the world in view of its coming catastrophe is mitigated by our knowledge of the grand results to be thus brought about under the administration of the coming Kingdom of Messiah. Praise God then even for "the day of wrath!"
PALESTINE'S MINERAL WEALTH.
COMMERCIAL AWAKENING OF THE HOLY LAND PROMISED UNDER THE TURKS.
Washington, Aug. 6.--The Department of State has received from Ernest L. Harris, Consular Agent at Eibenstock, a report on the mineral treasures of Palestine. The report says:
"Valuable mineral treasures have recently been discovered in Palestine, so it is safe to say that the industrial awakening of the Holy Land is no longer a dream. It is true that the greater part of the once flourishing country is a barren desert. The lines of communication are miserable, and traffic is unsafe, aside from the one railroad from Yafa to Jerusalem.
"The newly discovered mineral deposits lie on both sides of the Jordan and the Dead Sea. The salt deposits of the Dead Sea could be developed into an industry. The most important of all the deposits is
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phosphate. At present the phosphate mines of Florida almost supply the world's demand. The immense fields of phosphate to the east and west of the Jordan need only better means of traffic and communication in order to insure the development. This, it would seem, is not far distant, as the Turkish Government is planning a continuation of the Yafa-Jerusalem Railroad, and steamboats are already plying the Dead Sea."
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"FINALLY, BE ALL OF ONE MIND."
"Finally, be all of one mind [harmonious--in accord], having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but contrariwise blessing, knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing."--`1 Pet. 3:8,9`.
HARMONY does not mean alike-ness. Rather it signifies unity with diversity: and this is the meaning of the Greek word translated "of one mind" in our text. The Lord's will respecting his people does not contemplate exact sameness, wholly ignoring individual characteristics and peculiarities; on the contrary, a diversity with harmony is more desirable than a sameness; as, for instance, it is the harmonious union of the seven colors that constitutes the beauty of the rainbow. So also in music: one strikes a chord on the piano or the organ and the result is harmony, oneness, union--the variety of the notes gives a melody which could not be obtained from any one of them, or from a sameness of equal volume. This is the thought the Apostle's words give us in respect to God's people; they are of various natural temperaments and dispositions and peculiarities, and the divine alchemy by which the human is transmuted into the spiritual, the old mind into the new mind, does not wholly destroy, and is not intended to destroy, the elements of character and disposition; but is intended to take from each one its dross and imperfection and discordancy, and thus to permit all eventually to unite in and develop into a harmonious whole.
The Lord does not expect, however, that this condition of complete harmony, will be attained by his people the instant of their consecration. On the contrary, as the Apostle indicates in our text, this attainment of harmony is the result, the glorious consummation, --rather than the beginning of the work of grace in the Lord's people: he says, "finally," not primarily, we are to be all of one mind--harmonious. It requires long years, generally, in the school of Christ, for his disciples to so grow in grace and in knowledge and in love,--ere they reach the glorious condition expressed in our text, even "finally."
The Apostle Paul intimates that we are to continue so to grow in grace and in knowledge, and in love, as to attain in heart, in will, the stature of a perfect man in Christ. The "babe" in Christ has not the stature of a "man," and requires first the milk of the Word, and subsequently the "strong meat," that it may grow thereby, and finally attain to the ideal condition represented in our text,--a condition of harmony with the Lord and with each other, which indicates that the work of grace has well progressed-- that the mark of perfect love has been well attained in the heart, even though it be not possible still to fully express it in every word and act of life.
The Apostle Paul describes this transformation of life, this growth, saying, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind;" but while it requires only a short time to give this instruction, and does not require long to agree to follow the instruction, it does require patient perseverance in well-doing to comply with the instructions;--to fully attain to the transformed
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conditions even in our hearts--so that we will aright, however difficult it may be for us to always do right. And here arises a difficulty: many do not clearly see just what are the requirements, and hence go through life in a maze, in perplexity, in doubt, in fear, lacking the rest and peace and blessing which should come from a proper understanding and a consistent endeavor.
No doubt all have been struck with the fact that those who manifest the deepest interest in the divine plan are not always the most smooth and most agreeable people in the world: frequently they are so combative as to be continually distressing both themselves and their friends by their unwisdom or their disposition to wrangling and contention. The very quality which the Apostle mentions in this text as like-mindedness or harmony is peculiarly lacking, naturally, in the disposition of the majority of those who become deeply interested in present truth. And some have been inclined hastily to condemn the doctrines and to say, This is not the peaceable spirit of Christ. Where the spirit of Christ is there should be love and harmony. So says the Apostle: "Finally, be ye all of one mind." And this should be borne in mind as being the final result of discipline and instruction in the school of Christ; by our attainment of this disposition to harmony (while at the same time loyal and courageous for the truth), we may safely gauge our growth in grace, knowledge and love.
We want to suggest an explanation as to why it is that so many of the Lord's people are combatively disposed. A wrangling and contentious disposition is the result of large combativeness--misdirected-- unwisely exercised. Combativeness itself is not a bad quality. On the contrary, it is a good quality, --a quality actually indispensable to the attainment of the prize set before us in the Gospel. Those who lack combativeness, lack backbone; lack the ability to walk an upright life, under present conditions; they are like a boat on the river which has neither oars nor wheel nor screw-propeller. They can do nothing but float with the current, for they lack the apparatus necessary to stem it. There are many goody-goody people who lack firmness, lack character, lack combativeness, and who could not think of anything else than floating with the popular current; and these frequently are mistaken for "saints" when they are nothing of the kind. They are not even of the kind of material that the Lord takes to make "saints" out of. They are unfit for his purposes under the present call of this Gospel age; for all who are called now to be of the elect Church are called to be "overcomers;" called to be victors; called to stem the popular tide; called to fight a good fight of faith and obedience; and such as are totally lacking in firmness, in combativeness, in character, cannot possibly comply with these conditions, and are not in the race.
So then, if any of those who have grasped the truth, and who have been grasped and drawn by the truth to consecration to the Lord, have at times felt the perversity of their natural dispositions--their combativeness, contentiousness and wrangling disposition, and felt discouraged on this account, let them thank God and take courage. Let them realize that this very disposition constitutes one qualification for enlistment and service under the Captain of our salvation; --although such a service will mean the bringing of this contrary disposition into accord with the spirit of love, which, in the end, will mean that the wrangling disposition will be subdued, and the combativeness be properly turned to good account in another direction.
But while taking all the encouragement we can from the thought that the Lord is wishing and is seeking and calling out a fighting class of "conquerors," who could not be conquerors unless there were something to conquer, and who could not conquer unless they possessed something of the conquering or combative disposition, let us nevertheless, promptly take ourselves in hand, realizing that the good quality of combativeness has in every instance been misdirected, and that from the moment we enlist as soldiers of
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the Cross of Christ our combativeness is to be turned into new channels. We are to learn, first of all, that our combativeness is not to be exercised toward the Lord, that we should resist his will; but that, on the contrary, we are to make a full surrender to him of our thoughts and words and conduct. We are to remember that combativeness is not to be used toward the brethren; for to fight against the brethren is to fight against God, against the truth, against the fellow-members of our own brigade. Instead of fighting against the brethren, we are to love them, and to fight for them, even as we are to fight for the Lord and for the truth. We are to remember, too, that our combativeness is not to be exercised against our friends, our neighbors, or the world in general. No; all of these have plenty to contend against without having our opposition. On the contrary, they need our sympathy, they need our help, they need our encouragement, they need whatever we can render them in the way of uplift.
FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH.--`1 TIM. 6:12`.
How, then, and against what shall we exercise our combativeness, that it may be well directed to the Lord's pleasement and in the service of his cause? We answer, that our combativeness is to be turned against sin, and that its first exercise must begin with ourselves: the battle with self is the greatest battle, and we have the Lord's Word for it that he that "ruleth his spirit (his own mind, will) is better than he that taketh a city," because he has to that extent learned to exercise the combativeness of a true character in the right direction, in self-control. It is after we have had considerable experience in battling with sin and selfishness in ourselves, in casting the beam out of our own eyes, in subduing anger, malice, hatred and strife in our own hearts and flesh--it is then, and by means of this severe battle and experience, that we will be prepared to assist the brethren, and to assist our neighbors in their difficulties--to help them to overcome their besetments and weaknesses.
Whoever starts out by fighting even the sins of others before he has made a vigorous campaign against his own weaknesses and errors, is making a mistake. He needs humility and sympathy to assist the others to fight their battles, and this he cannot
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gain without first battling with himself and learning to appreciate how strong is the foe to be contended with, and how thoroughly entrenched is sin and selfishness in all the avenues of the flesh. He even needs to be worsted in some of his battles with self in order to have a clear appreciation of his own inability to overcome and to force him to go to the throne of the heavenly grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help. He needs this because, as the Apostle says, it is when we are weak that we are strong; and when we are strong in our self-confidence, and therefore neglect to go to the Lord, then we are weak and liable to make failure in the battle, and to be overcome by the enemy--Sin.--`Heb. 4:16`; `2 Cor. 12:10`.
All those who have had any experience in the matter, and who have learned how and where to direct their combative energies, find that there is full scope for the exercise of every particle of combativeness he possesses. (1) In himself, continually; as the Apostle expressed it, "I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (`1 Cor. 9:27`). O, how much of energy and how much persistency in fighting the good fight of faith, and of loyalty to the Lord, is needful in the conquering of self--"bringing every thought [and so far as possible, every word and act] into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (`2 Cor. 10:5`). Plenty of room here for combativeness; plenty of room for all the contention and wrangling we want;--contention with sin and self-will, wrangling with the will of the flesh and opposing it at every step--mortifying it, killing its affections and desires. No wonder the Apostle speaks of these present experiences as a fight; no wonder he tells us that we must be prepared to endure hardness as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(2) As soon as the victory over self has been gained, and as soon as the new mind has put a garrison in every quarter of the conquered body, to guard it from rising in insurrection, to hold it in subjection to the King of kings and Lord of lords--forthwith all the remaining energies that can be spared from self-control will find ample opportunity for usefulness in battling for the Lord, battling for the brethren, battling for the truth, battling against error, battling against all the wiles of the devil, "for we are not ignorant of his devices," as the Apostle declares.
(3) As the eyes of our understanding get opened, wider and wider, we see the great conflict that is progressing throughout the world between righteousness and sin, between our Lord and the god of this world and his blinded representatives, who ignorantly think that they are doing God service and are often found fighting against the truth and against the true soldiers of the Cross, their brethren, even as in the case of Paul. We remember how he, as Saul of Tarsus, persecuted the Church, mistakenly misusing his combativeness in a wrong way. We remember how the Lord called to him in the way, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"--Why are you fighting against God, opposing the truth and his cause? In Paul's case we see how that as soon as the eyes of his understanding were opened he became a most valiant soldier of the cross, hesitating not to lay down his life in the service of the Lord and the brethren, who once he had ignorantly opposed.
It was the same combativeness which made Paul a violent persecutor that subsequently made him the most valiant of the apostles in the defence of the truth. And so it was also with others of the apostles. Those who had the largest amount of combativeness naturally, when it was turned into the proper channels, became thereby the strongest and most valiant for the truth. Peter, for instance, full of combativeness, and at first seriously impeded by it, ready in defence of the Lord to smite off the ear of the high priest's servant, was very valiant subsequently in the use of his talents to the Lord's praise. James and John, two others specially favored and recognized of the Lord, and specially used in the service of the truth, were of combative dispositions, so much so that they were known as the "sons of thunder;" and it was these two who were so incensed at the Samaritans who refused to receive our Lord into their city, and who were so full of love and zeal for the Master that they inquired, "Lord, wilt thou that we call down fire from heaven to consume these men and their city?" They had the combativeness, they had the courage, they had the zeal; but they had not yet learned how to direct it, and so the Master intimated, when he said, "Ye know not what spirit ye are of. The Son of Man came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them." By and by, when they were anointed with the holy spirit at Pentecost, and had learned gradually what spirit they were of (what spirit the Master was of, and what spirit they must be of as his disciples), they understood better how their combativeness and zeal were to be used. And hence we find them loyal soldiers of the cross, shunning not danger, enduring hardness as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus, even unto death.
It was this natural combativeness consecrated to God, and rightly directed through the spirit, that led Peter and one of the others, when threatened, and charged straitly by the Sanhedrin that they should preach no more in the name of Jesus, to courageously withstand this illegal restraint upon their liberties and rights as Jews, under the Law, and to be obedient to the voice of the heavenly call, and to declare, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (`Acts 4:19-20`). The Lord knew whom he was choosing for his apostles, and we see clearly that weak, vacillating, nerveless men would not have served the cause as did these whom Jesus chose. And it is but reasonable that we conclude that the Lord similarly throughout this age, is seeking for and choosing strong characters, those who dare to do right; who dare to incur the frown of the world and its slights and sneers, its scoffs and its jeers, its persecution because of fidelity to the Lord and to the brethren. This is overcoming;--and to whatever extent any realize that they are deficient in these qualities let them cultivate this combativeness in this proper direction --to combat weakness, combat sin, combat subserviency to those things which are contrary to the Lord and his Word.
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FAITH AND THE MESSAGES ALSO ESSENTIAL.
But combativeness alone would not be sufficient. It needs proportionate faith, in order to use the combativeness aright. Hence we hear our Lord's word, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith." Faith in the Lord must be the power that will move his people and energize them. Not faith in creeds, nor faith in men, nor faith in ourselves, but faith in the Lord and in his exceeding great and precious promises. As the steamboat wheels represent its combativeness, by which it battles against and pushes the water, and thus is enabled to go upstream, so its steam-power, through the engine, represents faith, which must be behind the combativeness, to exercise the combativeness--to lead us to endure hardness, to direct us in fighting the good fight and to hope for the rewards to be attained.
Similarly the fuel and the boiler generating the steam represent the Word and providences of God, which produce in us the cause, the power of the faith which energizes us in stemming the current. The exceeding great and precious promises of the divine
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Word were given to us as the basis of faith,--as the fuel to produce the power in us to will and to do God's good pleasure (`Phil. 2:13`). And hence these gracious promises must not be neglected; they must be continually used and must continue in us to energize us. And the energy must be applied, and we must progress proportionately against the course of this world, if we would attain to the glorious conditions to which we have been called.
While we should ever remember (lest otherwise we should be discouraged), that the attainment of a control of our own spirits, our own minds, and the bringing of these into full accord, full harmony, with the Lord and, so far as possible, into accord with all of the Lord's people who are in accord with him, is to be "finally," nevertheless we are not to delay our endeavor to reach that final and grand development to which the Apostle exhorts us in our text. We are to have it continually before us as the standard, the ideal, the aim, and although we may fail time and again, if we are rightly exercised in the matter we will be stronger as the result of every failure; for each failure will show us more clearly than we discerned previously the weak points of our characters, naturally resulting from the fall. And if each weak point be carefully noted and guarded against as respects the future we will come by and by, by the grace of God and under the direction of our great Teacher, by his Word and example, and providential leadings, to that subdued condition, that harmonized condition, which would accord to the expression of the text. And to such, looking back, even the failures which subsequently recognized led to greater fortification against the wiles of the Adversary and the weaknesses of the flesh, may be seen to have been overruled by the Lord for our blessing according to his promise that all things shall work together for good to them that love him.
As we finally, in larger and larger measure, attain to harmony--to the subduing of our natural dispositions toward contention, gradually getting these combative tendencies into accord with the Lord and his Word and his Spirit, and into accord with those who are his, our fellow-soldiers in this battle for the right, our condition will be what the Apostle here describes; viz., we will have compassion one of another. We will expect to see and will see "the brethren" striving for the mastery over self and we will be sympathetic, compassionate; so that if they err through weakness of the flesh, we will be glad to restore such in the spirit of meekness, remembering ourselves also lest we should be tempted (`Gal. 6:1`). We will love them as brethren ought to love--heartily, thoroughly --such a love and such a sympathy, such a compassion, as would lead us to do everything within our power for their assistance;--especially along the lines of spiritual assistance, in the conquering of sin, and in growth in grace and knowledge and love;--but, nevertheless, also in temporal matters as we have opportunity, as may be possible to us.
This compassion and brotherly love amongst the spiritual brethren, even as respects temporal matters, cannot surely be less than it would be amongst natural brethren. Indeed, inasmuch as the spiritual relationship is the higher, the nobler, the grander of the two, without detracting anything from the love and affection and obligations toward the fleshly brotherhood, it would imply that the spiritual would appeal to us still more strongly, so that we would do all for a brother in Christ in a temporal way that we would do for any earthly brother--and more abundantly. The Apostle sets this standard, saying, that we are to "do good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith."
This of course does not mean that we are to be negligent of those of our own immediate households and our special responsibilities to these; but it does mean that aside from these, the spiritual brethren should have the first place in our hearts and in our sympathies and in our love, and in all that this would imply in the way of sharing with them both the spiritual and the temporal good things which we enjoy, according to their necessities. Those who have reached this condition of heart-harmony with the Lord and with his gracious plan will have had such an experience in attaining to this position themselves that it will make them pitiful of others,--sympathetic in the difficulties and trials of others; and it will make them "courteous," polite, "gentle toward all."
In a word, according to the Scriptural standard, the elect Church of Christ should be the most polished, the most refined, the most polite, the most generous, the most kind, of all the people in the world;--and should be all these in the most absolute sense; not in the mere sense of an outward form and appearance of kindness, gentleness, etc., so common in the world; but a gentleness, a kindness, proceeding from the heart, proceeding from an appreciation of the Lord's spirit and the spirit of the truth, the spirit of love, and the spirit of justice, also. It is a great matter that we learn to be thoroughly just, and in all of our affairs to do unto others as we would wish them to do unto us,--that we accord them the same liberties that we ourselves would wish to enjoy. Truly, the law of God is a wonderful law, and truly the people
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who are taught of the Lord and trained in harmony with the divine will, must be a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Combative people will always (while in the flesh) feel a disposition to retaliate; but those who have learned of the Lord the lesson of self-control, and who have developed meekness and brotherly-kindness and pity, will thereby be prepared to fulfil the demands of our text,--to not render evil for evil, or railing for railing. And looking to the Lord as the pattern they will see how it was with him, that "When he was reviled he reviled not again." Not because his enemies had found in him something that could properly and justly be reviled and evil spoken of;-- nor because his enemies were so nearly perfect that he could find nothing in them to revile and speak evil of; but because he was so full of submission to the divine will that he was enabled to take the scoffs and railings of the people, and to bear these humbly and patiently, and to remember that even hereunto he was called, that he should endure patiently and learn the lessons, and prove himself faithful, and develop and demonstrate his true character, and feel and manifest his pity for the people, in their blindness and ignorance, and his love for them.
And so it must be with us as we grow in our Lord's character-likeness. We also will be less disposed to rail at those who rail, and to revile those who revile us. We also will be ready to suffer the loss of all things, and to do so with cheerfulness; yea, even to rejoice in the trials and difficulties of this present time, knowing, as the Apostle declares, that these are working out for us a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory. We note here the harmony between Peter's statement of this matter and our Lord's statement of it: "Bless them that curse you; bless and curse not" (`Phil. 3:8`; `2 Cor. 4:17`; `Matt. 5:44`; `Rom. 12:14`). So the Apostle says we should rather render blessing. If we have not yet attained to this high standard which is at the end of the race, the mark of perfect love, where we love our enemies and are ready and willing and anxious to bless them, to help them, to desire their uplifting out of darkness and degradation, and to wish and do all that we can in harmony with this, the divine plan, let us not be discouraged; but let us press onward, that as soon as possible we may reach this point, which is the mark of perfected character. For, as the Apostle says, "even hereunto we were called, that we might inherit a blessing."
THE BLESSED INHERITANCE FOR WHICH WE ARE
We were called to be the Royal Priesthood, under Jesus, the Royal High Priest of our profession. We are instructed in the Scriptures that this royal priesthood is to be God's agency during the Millennial age for bringing blessing to the world of mankind, and "hereunto we were called" that we might be fitted for this priesthood. The Apostle tells us that in the preparation of our Lord Jesus and his testing as to fitness for the position of high priest, it was necessary that he should be tempted, tried, and caused to suffer, in order that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest when the time should come to exercise the authority and power of his office. Similarly it is necessary that all who would be of this Royal Priesthood should have such experiences now as would develop in them also these principles of truth, righteousness--such experiences as would lead them to love righteousness and to hate iniquity--such experiences in battling with self and in gaining control (at least so far as the mind, the will is concerned), as would constitute them victors and develop in them these graces of the spirit mentioned by the Apostle, brotherly kindness, pitifulness, compassion. All these qualities will be requisite in dealing with the world during the Millennial age. They will be merciful and faithful high priests, because they will know how to sympathize with the poor world in its fallen condition, and how to make allowances for them in their various efforts toward regaining the standard of perfection then to be established through restitution processes.
We will be kings as well as priests then. As kings, we will be endued with power to control the world. This will be a further proper use of combativeness; but we are not fitted and prepared to so control the world in the present time; and therefore the Lord directs his people to wait, and long for, and pray for his Kingdom to come, and his will to be done;--to be enforced with heavenly power and authority. These "very elect" kings and priests will be fully qualified to exercise their power in moderation, for
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then they will have the new bodies in perfect accord with the new minds;--the new minds which are now being developed, disciplined and brought to that standard of perfect love, which is full of pity, compassion, brotherly kindness and harmony. How necessary, dear brethren, that we learn these lessons, if we would be prepared to be used in the glorious service of the Kingdom so shortly to be established.
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"HATED WITHOUT A CAUSE."
--`GEN. 37:12-36`.--OCT. 6.--
Golden Text: "The patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him."--`Acts 7:9`.
RACHEL, the dearly beloved wife of Jacob, was dead, but her first-born son, Joseph, was beloved by his father above his ten older half-brothers. And from the narrative it is not unreasonable to assume that this love was not merely on his mother's account, but that Joseph himself had a kindness and nobility of character which specially commended him to his father, and drew forth his affection. As a son of his old age, Jacob was inclined to favor Joseph in various ways, and amongst others procured for him an expensive robe, of a kind peculiar to that time, samples of which have recently been found in Egypt, in the tomb of Beni-Hassan,-- "long, richly embroidered robes in various patterns and colors, which seem to have been produced by
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sewing together small pieces of different colors. Herodotus describes one sent as a present by the king of Egypt, which 'had a vast number of figures of animals interwoven into its fabric, and was embroidered with gold.'"
Jacob probably did not realize to what extent his partiality was cultivating in his other sons a feeling of enmity and envy against Joseph; and, indeed, we may question if it would have been to Joseph's advantage, as respects development of character, to have remained at home under such conditions; he would probably have been a spoiled young man, just as grandparents are very apt to spoil grandchildren by too much petting and partiality, developing in the favored child a spirit of pride, to plague and injure it for the remainder of life.
The envy of his brothers over his father's partiality was intensified by two dreams which Joseph had, and which he told them of, apparently with all simplicity and innocency. In the one dream he saw twelve sheaves in the field, one for each of the sons of Jacob, and the other eleven sheaves bowed down to his sheaf. In the other dream he saw the sun, moon, and eleven stars bow down to him. His brothers were incensed at any thought of his ultimate superiority to them, who were his elders; and even his father repudiated the thought that the dream could have any meaning, since it would imply that Joseph would be greater than his parents, as well as greater than his brethren. We are not to account for these dreams as the work of the boy's imagination and ambition, altho such may be the case in respect to many dreams; rather we are to understand that those dreams were prophetic: that God was foretelling, foreshadowing the future--to the intent that Jacob and Joseph and his brethren might all eventually discern that the Lord's hand was connected with all the peculiar circumstances of his life;--that God foreknew and overruled them in the manner in which they ultimately resulted. This forestatement would make the lessons many times more weighty, when they would be understood, just as prophetic declarations respecting our Lord and his experience, are the more convincing on this account. The dreams were fulfilled later on, when Jacob and his family presented themselves before Joseph, a prince in Egypt, and made obeisance to him as to a king.
Well does the Apostle class envy as one of the works of the flesh and the devil. (`Gal. 5:19-21`.) It is a seed which thrives rapidly in any heart where it takes root, and who can tell what bitter fruitage it will produce? So rank had been its growth in the hearts of Joseph's brethren that when he came to them in the field at Dothan with a message from his father, their envy overflowed all bounds, and they premeditated murder. Subsequently, at the instance of Reuben, one of their number, his life was spared, and he was merely put into a pit, a dry cistern, to die of starvation; Reuben, however, premeditating his deliverance. Subsequently, at the instance of his brother Judah, his life was spared from the pit, and he was sold to some traveling merchants as a slave for the Egyptian market, where shortly afterward he was installed as a servant in the house of Potiphar. How hard must have been the hearts of these brethren, and how sore and affrighted the heart of Joseph, the favored child of his father! The narrative tells us nothing respecting his tears, his entreaties, and the refusal of his brethren, but an account of this is given us elsewhere (`Gen. 42:21`), for the guilty brethren, when in trouble themselves, exclaimed, "We saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us."
Whoever finds envy, hatred or malice in his heart in any degree should know that he is harboring an enemy; a spirit which, under certain circumstances, might quickly develop into a spirit of murder. The Apostle, therefore, urges all who have become new creatures in Christ Jesus to mortify, to kill, to bury, to put away, the spirit of evil, of hatred, of strife, of envy, and through the transforming influence of the Lord's spirit to put on more and more, day by day, the spirit of love, the spirit of Christ. We can see a lesson in the experience of Joseph's brethren; and even tho envy never led us thus far, it should be an illustration to us of its tendency, and we should hate it and proportionately eradicate it from our hearts.
The chief point of this lesson is its illustration of divine providence. It reminds the children of God of this Gospel dispensation of the promise of the Lord's word, that "all things shall work together for good to those who love God." It teaches us how implicitly we may rely upon divine power and wisdom and love, even when all things seem to be against us; and also how futile are all the powers of our enemies to do us real injury if God be for us. (`Rom. 8:31`.) Apparently the spirit of murder was in the nine brethren, and apparently had the Lord not so led the matter about, some of them would have killed Joseph quickly. But we are not to suppose that it was the only way God could have adopted for bringing Joseph into Egypt, and ultimately (`Gen. 41:40`) to its throne, to be the life-giver (bread-provider) for the Egyptians in their famine, and also for the Israelites, and thus to lead on to the captivity of the whole nation of Israel in Egypt, and to their discipline and education in the arts known to the Egyptians, and ultimately to cause their deliverance, as he did. We are to remember that the All-mighty is All-wise as well as All-powerful, and that he could have selected any of many ways to accomplish his purpose. The lesson illustrates, however, God's wisdom, by which he is able, not only to circumvent the machinations of evil men, but also to use their evil deeds to serve his purposes, to carry out his designs, and to bless those whom he is leading. Would that all of God's consecrated people, spiritual Israelites indeed, might obtain a great impetus to faith from this lesson, and henceforth rely more strongly and fully than ever upon the Lord and the power of his might. What a peace, what a joy, what a comfort it brings, to be able by faith to realize that the Lord is at the helm in respect to all of our interests and affairs, temporal and spiritual!
Those who can plan murder, and who are full of envy, malice and hatred, will not hesitate to support their evil way by fraud, deception, lying. And
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so it was with the ten brethren. They took the coat of many colors, they draggled it in blood, and sent it to their father Jacob, probably at the hands of a messenger. Never doubting them, Jacob assented at once to the proposition that his beloved son had been cruelly devoured by a wild beast, and he mourned his loss, apparently for years;--his other sons vainly endeavoring to comfort him, and, no doubt, suffering to some extent anguish on account of their deeds. Perhaps this experience with evil was beneficial ultimately both to Jacob and his sons. Indeed, the subsequent narrative seems to imply this. And there is a lesson here for us, to the effect that those who yield to evil influences may subsequently learn valuable lessons therefrom, and that we may entertain hope for their recovery to righteousness. This is a part of our hope respecting the world in the coming Millennial age--that present experiences with sin, envy, hatred and strife will prove valuable to them by and by, when they shall have experienced some of the retributions and have learned a more excellent way, under the judgments of that time.
As Joseph was hated by his brethren, and that without a cause, and figuratively killed, when sent to them by his father, so Jesus came to his own brethren, the Jews, came in their interest, as the representative of the Father, was hated without a cause, and was actually put to death, murdered. Nevertheless, in the Lord's providence this very hatred will ultimately bring him to the throne of earth, and to
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the place of power, and give him control over all the food, the "bread of life," and thus indirectly make him the life-giver, not only to the world of mankind, represented by the Egyptians, but also to his brethren, the Jews--to as many as will receive the bread of life upon the generous terms and conditions then laid down.
And "as he was, so are we in this world"--as members of his body--as his fleshly representatives now, and, if faithful, to be his joint-heirs in the throne by and by, and with him to dispense life to the dying world.
We are not to be surprised, therefore, if we find ourselves hated of the world; for, as the Master said, they shall say all manner of evil against us falsely for his sake. Let us remember his words, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."--`John 15:18,19`.
As our Master was hated without a cause, so let it be with us, so far as possible, that the hatred, malice, envy and murder which may be poured out against us may be wholly unmerited by us--that our lives shall be as nearly pure as possible; that so far as possible our thoughts and words and deeds may show forth the praises of our Lord, and speak of our love for all men, especially for the household of faith. By and by, when the Church shall have been glorified, and a new dispensation inaugurated, those who hate us now, largely because they are blinded by the Adversary and misled, will bow before us, as the Lord's anointed, and we shall have the great pleasure of lifting them up, blessing them, encouraging them and forgiving them; and assisting them back to the full image and likeness of God.
In our Golden Text let us note the significant statement,--"But God was with him." Success in life may be viewed from different standpoints. To some the successful lives are those represented by Alexander the Great, and Caesar, and notable kings, emperors and generals; or by its money accumulators --Croesus, Carnegie, et al. But we write for such as have different conceptions of greatness from these;--to those who, without disdaining the merits and charities of any, have accepted the divine standard of greatness as delineated in the Bible;--Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Job, David, the holy prophets and apostles, and above all our Lord Jesus. And the secret of the success of each of these was,--"God was with him."
The same principle holds true to-day, in all matters connected with the divine service,--"Without me ye can do nothing." God's favor during the Jewish age was manifested in earthly prosperities; but not so in this age, when spiritual prosperity alone indicates God's favor, and when not many rich or great are called, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith, heirs of the Kingdom. And, if God be with us and for us, who can be against us? What will their opposition amount to? They may indeed cause us pain or inconvenience, but they cannot harm us or injure our highest interests; because the Almighty has given assurance that "All things shall work for good to those who love him, to the called ones in his purpose."
But what must be the character of this class whom God is with and for; and for whose blessing he intervenes in all of life's affairs?
Ah! they are a peculiar people--zealous of good works--zealous for righteousness--zealous for God and his favor--zealous for his service and the smile of his face--faithful, trustful, meek. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God"; now we have these assurances of God's favors which will surely continue with us if we seek earnestly to follow the footsteps of our dear Redeemer--walking not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Let us, therefore, remember to purge ourselves of envy, malice, selfishness, including self-conceit; that we may be vessels unto honor and meet for our Master's service.
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PASS UNDER THE ROD.
You said to your heart on life's golden morning:
"How bright is the sky and how happy the hours!"
The rich blood of youth through your pulses was throbbing,
The path at your feet was all radiant with flowers;
And life's golden chalice that brimmed with joy's wine,
Sparkled bright in the sunshine most temptingly sweet;
You raised it to quaff with delight from its depths,
But it fell! and its fragments lay strewn at your feet.
Its red wine was spilled and it stained all the flowers,
Like blood drops that ooze from a bosom of snow;
And the sun that so brightly had shone o'er thy pathway
Seemed suddenly robbed of its brightness and glow.
And night's gloomy shades seemed to gather about thee,
And through the deep shadows, the dark form of Pain
Loomed up, and his gaunt fingers clutched at thy heart-strings
And laid their cold grasp on thy shivering brain.
Ah, then did despair like the billows of ocean
Sweep over thy soul, oh, poor heart, sore distressed?
Did you cry out in anguish with tears and with sobbing,
With quivering hands o'er thy bleeding heart pressed?
Ah, yes, and the days dragged so weary along
Till they grew into months and at last into years,--
Till you learned to look up to the Father above,
And at last see the rainbow of hope through your tears.
And you learned that the truest and best of life's lessons
Are gained through the travail and pain of the soul;
That the rarest of graces bestowed on God's children
Oft grow where life's billows tumultuously roll.
And you saw that the stars in the blue vault of Heaven
Shine only when night's sable curtains enfold;
You learned that the fierce furnace heat of affliction
Is needful to sever from dross the heart's gold.
'Twas a wonderful lesson borne into thy spirit,--
This grand truth to know, though a fruit of thy pain;
It taught thee to soar where before thou hadst grovelled,
And the heart that had broken learned a heavenly strain.
O, thrice blessed sorrow that drives us to Jesus,
To find in His love a continuous peace--
A joy, that abides though all earthly hopes wither,
And brings from the nights of despair full release.
O, Heavenly Shepherd, how wise are Thy dealings--
Thy thoughts--far beyond human wisdom to know;
Thy rod and thy staff sure will guide and sustain us,
Held close in Thy love while we tarry below.
So we patiently wait while we bide in the shadows,
Our eyes looking up through the gloom of the night,
'Till the shadows shall lift, and the dawn of the morning
Of Heaven's full glory shall burst on our sight.
A. G. James.
WORDS OF CHEER AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
Dear Brother Russell:--To my mind the Oakland convention is the best I ever attended, due perhaps in some degree to the fact that it was in the country, amid nature's surroundings, God's own handiwork, instead of being in a city; and again, due largely to the fact that it was at Bro. Weber's home. We have much to be thankful for to the family who did so well by us all, and to the Lord be the praise for his "goodness and mercy (which) shall follow us all the days of our life." I cannot find words to express my gratitude in having been privileged to assemble with those of like precious faith on this blessed occasion. One brother remarked to me, "Surely this is a foretaste of how it will be in the Millennial age,-- such brotherly love everywhere manifest." Did ever a company of worldly people or even nominally Christ-professing people come together and mingle with each other as cordially and confidentially as if members of one household, leaving their valises and handbags open and their room doors unlocked? And did ever so many men, entire strangers to each other, sleep in one room on the floor and not tuck their valuables carefully away under their pillows? Why, such a thing was not thought of on this occasion, much less put into practice. Each brother recognized that in the other a change of heart had taken place--a heart that thinketh no evil, a heart that delights in giving rather than in receiving.
Again, there was no going out after meals to indulge in "a quiet little smoke." No tobacco here in evidence at all, not an unkind word heard. Truly, this was brotherly love according to the Scripture presentation of what brotherhood should be. Everybody had a glad smile for everybody, each recognized the other as one of the family of God, a member of the body of Christ. Surely all attending this convention gained a good appreciation of how matters will be when all shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest, and when the knowledge of him shall cover the earth as the waters cover the mighty deep. I want to tender you a word of thanks for the part you took to make this an occasion ever to be remembered with joy. The Lord grant we may have more such joyful gatherings, and finally meet to part no more. Your brother in hope,
J. A. Bohnet,--Washington.
Charles T. Russell,
Dear Sir and Brother:--A small package of tract matter is at hand, containing the views of "Bill Arp" (a personal friend of mine) on Millennial Dawn. They are being distributed, mostly in letters; I can use a lot of them. I am often tempted to write you, but the belief that your time is too valuable in the Lord's work to read personal letters deters me. The seed is being constantly sown hereabouts by the few dear brothers who have been blest with sight; but though interest is stirred up in a few, no genuine results have been thus far noted, yet we keep steadily at it. We think that things are ripening fast enough to satisfy the most impatient, and the daily papers in their reports of lawlessness confirm us. God's work and Word are marvelous in our eyes.
Gratefully and sincerely yours,
Dear Brother Russell:--Your kind letter came to hand to-day, and my wife said when she read it, "That is like a pastoral visit." It has made her feel much better. Since we received a letter from our old (Lutheran) pastor, stating that the Book of Daniel is not a prophecy, but a kind of religious fiction, her faith has had a hard test; but we have gone to God's own Word and studied it out for ourselves, and now she says she has a firm foundation for her faith. And so
the way is growing brighter day by day, and it is the earnest prayer of our lives that we may be guided into such a knowledge of the truth as will lead us into that perfect childlike submission of ourselves and all we have and are,--that we may fight a good fight and finish our course, as did the grand apostle Paul.
We have our little meetings regularly every Sunday at 3 p.m., only five, but the room always seems full, for we have one in our midst who is all in all. Oh! the blessedness of having our Elder Brother to guide and lead us by the power of his Holy spirit into all truth. How precious the dear Bible has grown! How as it possible for us to live so long in blindness? We can never thank you enough for your gracious teachings which led us to God's Word, and unfolded the beauty of it all to us. We pray daily that God will continue to use you, in his own way, to spread the truth.
Trusting that we may be used in God's hands in the spread of his truth we remain, Yours in Christ,
A. W. Goodrich and wife,--Pennsylvania.
Watch Tower, Bible & Tract Society:
I am very lonely here at present, having no friend in the truth thus far. I hope though to get some interested before a great while, although the majority of the people here in the north of Ireland are very "set" in their ways.
I am still rejoicing in the truth and giving diligence to make my calling and election sure.
The Watch Towers never were more appreciated than they are by me at present. They are all good and helpful in building me up in the faith and knowledge of the Lord. I am thankful I ever came under the influence and power inspired by the literature from the "Tower" office. I pray the Lord daily to continue to bless Bro. Russell and all his co-laborers as well as all those who have espoused the Truth in sincerity and godly reverence.
With best wishes for spiritual prosperity in the harvest-field of this dispensation, I remain your brother in the one Hope,
My dear Brother Russell:--I have long purposed to write you a letter concerning my coming into the Truth, but something always came to hinder me when I thought of it. Some 6 or 7 years ago two colporteurs came to Greenwich to sell Millennial Dawn. A friend of mine had a conversation with them and learned something of their doctrine, and the Colporteurs asked him to allow them to have a meeting in his office (he is a dentist) on the next Sunday; but he being a good Methodist would not hear of such a thing. He told me of this, and I was rather displeased with him, because he did not grant permission and invite me to be present, so that I might tear their newfangled doctrine to pieces. I was just foolish enough to think that I could do that, but I did not get the opportunity. However, a night or two after I had the conversation with my friend, I met one of the Colporteurs in the postoffice and went for him rather roughly, but when I saw we were going to attract a crowd I desisted.
I paid him for 3 vols. of Millennial Dawn and asked him to leave them in the office of my friend, which he did. He and his companion left for another town a day or two after, and I never have seen either of them since to my knowledge. At the first opportunity I got the books and began reading them for the purpose of condemning the teaching they contained, but had not read far before, to my astonishment, I was carried away with their Scriptural teaching, and found before I had the first volume half read that instead of condemning the teaching I was condemned myself and had such a blessing and uplift as I continued to read that but those who have had a like experience know how to appreciate.
I was convinced that I was reading the truth, and that it was not in harmony with the doctrine of the church of which I was an official member. At that time I was a class-leader and Superintendent of the Sunday-school in the M.E. Church. I had received the very best of treatment in the church, and had a great many friends in it whom I esteemed highly. How I was ever going to cut away from them was a problem that gave me a great deal of anxious thought, but to remain where I was was impossible. Finally I made up my mind to go to my pastor and tell the whole thing; and ask him to drop my name from the church register. But he would not hear of such a thing: he told me I had a perfect right to hold any views I chose and persuaded me to remain in the church: After a while I got relieved from being superintendent of the Sunday-school and took my place in the Bible class, of which the pastor was teacher. In the course of the lessons we had some pretty warm discussions in a friendly way, and while in the class I got some of the members down on me.
After a time the pastor decided to have a different class, and another teacher was appointed in his place. While the new teacher remained, I tried to avoid discussion as much as possible, but he left town after a few weeks, and the class was without a teacher. So they insisted that I should become the teacher. I demurred, but after some talk I consented on condition that I would teach what I believed to be the truth, to which they assented. I had the class for about a year and got along very well with it on the whole, considering that I did not hesitate to teach the truth, as I understood it in the lessons. Some, of course, were very much displeased, and did not come at all after I became teacher; others liked to hear the truth, but did not accept it. I am glad to say, a few did accept it. Things went along in this way till the pastor was changed and another took his place, who, to use his own words, was "determined to have a clean church if there was nothing left but the walls when he got through." The second Sunday he was here he fired a volley or two, but I thought it had come to him spontaneously, for he is somewhat of an orator, and I thought he was not long enough here to understand the state of affairs. I took my medicine feeling that I deserved to get it, and said very little until more shots were fired, and then I concluded that I, with some others, were the targets aimed at.
As soon as I arrived at that conclusion, I determined to hand a withdrawal letter to the pastor. This
time I had my mind fully made up to be out of the M.E. Church, no matter what it cost. So when the pastor came to see me, I was prepared to take my stand, and I did it, and have never seen the day since when I was sorry for it. I have enjoyed more real spiritual life since than I ever did before; besides I have a more exalted idea of God than I ever could have, had I remained in the darkness and confusion of "orthodoxy." I am thankful to the Providence that ever put Millennial Dawn literature into my hands; and I hope to follow in its teaching as long as life here shall last. I will try to help the truth as long and as well as I can.
Pardon me for taking so much of your valuable time. I thought it was in order to write this before leaving this country, for the sole purpose of showing how the Lord is using your efforts to bless many who are desirous of doing his will. I pray that Heaven's richest blessing may accompany your labor of love for the Master's cause till he calls you to receive the reward of well doing. I enclose a donation for the "Good Hopes" fund.
Your brother in the faith once delivered to the saints. James Bright,--New York.
Dear Brother:--I thank you for your kind words; be assured the "Tower" is a welcome visitor to me; enclosed find $1.00 for one year's subscription.
Last Sunday the church people here were supplied with the pamphlet "Food for Thinking Christians," by some friends from Lynn, who stood near the churches and passed them to the people as they came out. Just about a year ago a Tower was handed to me as I came out of church, and what a change has been wrought in my thoughts since then! God helping me I shall remain in his hands to be taught and purified. Yours,
John W. Goodwin,--Massachusetts.
Dear Watch Tower Friends:--It is with pleasure I enclose the little I can spare for "Good Hopes"; I pray it may help to bring the good news to some hungry soul. Not a day passes that I do not think of you, and long to see your kind faces. Pray that I may be faithful even unto death. The more I read and study God's plans the more I love my Saviour, and I thank him all the time that I was found worthy to receive the true gospel.
Yours in our blessed Lord and Redeemer,
Mrs. O. F. Boyer,--Illinois.
Dear Brother Russell:--I don't wish to worry you with a long letter, but must tell you that we now have a "Dawn Circle" of seven, and more are interested. On the fifth Sunday I spoke where a debate between "Christadelphians" and "Campbellites" had just closed. There were five preachers present to listen to "Ransom and Restitution," and some of them gave close attention;--"Bless the Lord, O my soul"! God will gather his sheep--precious thought!
Bro. H. has the work started in Kerrville by making a special trip over there, and the Campbellite preacher, through the solicitation of some, has tendered me his day--fourth Sunday--and we anticipate a glorious time.
All my Sundays are occupied, and I can't fill the calls that come, for I must attend to my office duties. I will preach long enough to get the people interested, and to give the "sheep" a chance to come into "green pastures," and then I may close that part of my work;--the "Dawns" are all any one needs.
So far God has blessed my efforts; some are much interested, and a general Bible reading is going on in many homes. Some who have not entered the race for the prize say that what they have heard has blessed and helped them to live better lives. Pray for me. May God keep you to feed us!
J. A. Currie,--Texas.
Dear Brother Russell:--Although I have been interested in the Harvest Truth for nearly two years, I have never expressed my gratitude to you, the channel through whom this great blessing has reached me.
I was first attracted to this message by my sister, Mrs. Lee,--whom we believe now to be with our Lord--and since her death I, too, have given all I have or hope for respecting earthly things for joint heirship in God's Kingdom.
I do thank you for the helpful words and sound doctrines found in the columns of your journal. My prayer is for you to obtain grace, wisdom and strength to feed us unto the end of the Church's journey through the wilderness of sin.
I have much faith in the prayer of a righteous man, therefor ask you to remember me at the Throne of Grace that our Father may guide my every step and make me faithful unto death.
Enclosed please find my "Good Hopes" offering for this month. With Christian love I remain,
K. M. Day,--California.
Dear Brother Russell:--Allow me to thank you with all the earnestness of my heart that by the grace of God you were enabled to give us meat in due season. The Millennial Dawn series has been to me a well in the desert. I cannot tell the joy, the blessing, the light and the strength it has been to me, a poor, hungry, struggling soul; and I am just as if I had not got through rubbing my eyes in wonder yet. It was in March Brother Bright put the books into my hands. For quite a while before that I had been perplexed and troubled because I felt I did not understand the Word. I have been praying to God to help me; to give me just the right light; and that He would make me ready when He came. My prayer was answered, far above what I could ever have asked or thought. My Lord is now,--"More dear, more intimately nigh, than e'en the sweetest earthly tie." It is far easier, now, to walk in the "narrow way." Dear brother, do not forget to pray for me that I may be kept faithful; it is such blessed thought that God does not judge us according to our weakness, but according to our spirit and mind.
May God abundantly bless you in your work for our King.
Mrs. Bessie Keyes,--New York.