VOL. XV. OCTOBER 1, 1894. NO. 19.
BISHOP FOSTER'S NEW GOSPEL.
ON Sunday, September 23rd, Bishop Foster preached before the Pittsburg Annual Conference of the M.E. Church, over whose sessions he has presided. We give extracts from his discourse as reported by two of Pittsburg's daily papers, as follows:--
"If I could concede for a moment that the world as I know it, and I know it from rim to rim, having traveled in all its lands, having seen its dissolute, despicable millions, having seen it in shame and filth, and if I were compelled to think that my God, whom I worship, would by any possible method of condemnation send down to hades 1,200,000,000 of my brothers, that know not their right hand from their left, and save a few of us who are a little better perhaps in our morals, I would not go into heaven if I could. I could not worship such a God as that. I would join the hosts of hades in rebelling against such a God. Our God is not a God of that kind. God is love, and is trying to save men."--Pittsburg Dispatch.
"If I believed that God would send down to a hopeless eternity 1,200,000,000 of my brothers who are little worse than I am, I would not worship him. I have seen the world all over, know it from rim to rim, have seen its desolate and despicable people, and these I speak of hardly know their right hand from their left. God won't condemn all these. He's saving all men that he can. If I thought he would condemn all these, I would join the forces of the devil in hell, in rebellion against such an act."--Pittsburg Post.
The accounts of the two reporters are sufficiently alike to insure us that no serious mistake has been made as to the tenor of the Bishop's expression. But surely it is a remarkable expression, coming as it does from the foremost bishop of the M. E. Church. The bishop is, as he declares, well posted upon the condition of the vast heathen world--four-fifths of the living human family. He is well posted also respecting the missionary machinery for the civilization and conversion of these millions. He knows that while it was never before so complete as at present, yet, even now, the natural increase is proportionately far greater than the ratio of conversion. The bishop sees no hope for the heathen through the preaching of the gospel, and hence "flies the track," and leaves the Bible plan of salvation,--faith in Christ's redemptive work, a faith that comes by hearing of the word of God, the Gospel of salvation, a
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gospel which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.--`Rom. 10:17`; `1:16`.
Why should this intelligent man, a leader of thought amongst a very intelligent class of Christians, thus leave the gospel of the Bible? a gospel which declares: "Without faith it is impossible to please God;" "He that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be condemned;" "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him;" "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved;" etc., etc. Why should he, as above, preach another gospel--the gospel of the merit of ignorance? The gospel of salvation without faith?--the gospel of salvation by works?--the gospel of a salvation without a Redeemer? for, if the heathen are to be saved because God could not do otherwise than save those who "know not
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their right hand from their left," or to keep the bishop from joining "the forces of the devil in hell in rebellion against such an act," then Christ's death was in vain: it certainly is no factor in the gospel which the bishop is preaching (of a general heathen salvation in ignorance of the only "name given under heaven or amongst men whereby we must be saved,") even though his text was, "When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son."
The reason is that the bishop's intelligence has outgrown his theology. He has spent more time and honest mental effort in viewing the world from rim to rim and studying its social and moral questions than he has spent in studying his Bible from cover to cover with an honest desire to learn God's explanation, in it, of his purposes for the blessing, of the world of mankind through faith in Christ!
The bishop's new gospel will strike a responsive chord in many hearts--in the hearts of missionaries who know better than others how little they really accomplish;--in the hearts of worldly people, who will say, That is what I always believed; faith never saves anybody; it is works or nothing;--in the hearts of worldly Christians, who will say, that relieves me greatly; I believe that our great religious leaders are advancing far beyond the old-fogy faith ideas of the past, to see that it is not what we know or believe merely, but what we do, or God's free grace, that saves us. The modern agnostic and higher-critic will say, That is the way to talk; it is time people were being taught to cut loose from those narrow expressions of the Bible which so evidence the narrowness of the minds of the Lord and the apostles. Indeed, almost all classes will be prepared to welcome the bishop's new gospel.
How strange that all of these are so averse to the Scriptural explanations of these questions which trouble the bishop and all men who are even beginning to think! How strange that those who will applaud the bishop's new gospel will entirely overlook one feature of it, which, if true, would certainly stamp it as bad tidings to all the holy ones who through patient perseverance in well doing have cultivated faith, trust, hope and love, and developed character from grace to grace and from glory to glory! What would these, who, through the faith that overcometh the world and by much tribulation, enter the Kingdom of Heaven, think of it, if within the pearly gates, where they had anticipated so much of love and pleasure, they were to find the hundreds of millions and billions of ignorant, degraded, depraved and characterless of heathendom pouring in upon them and outnumbering them to such an extent that a saint would be a hundred times harder to find in heaven than now on earth! To say the least, they would be astounded; and if an explanation were asked, and Bishop Foster were given the opportunity to reply, and had not changed his opinion, he doubtless would say that, after having done all he could for them on earth without success, and fearing that the bishop would join the forces of the devil and thus make a bad matter worse, God did not know what else to do with the heathen than take them to heaven.
Would that the good-hearted, but benighted, bishop would face about and see the Millennial dawn, the increasing light of the Sun of Righteousness now shining forth! He then would see what he does not see now, that God's plan as presented in the Bible is transcendently more reasonable, more benevolent, more just and more practicable than any which he or other human beings could possibly concoct or outline.
What would he see? Briefly this: That God's time for giving the heathen to Christ (`Psa. 2:8`) is in the Millennial age and not in this Gospel age; that when God undertakes the work of causing the knowledge of himself to fill the whole earth, it will be done; for his Word shall not return unto him void, it shall accomplish that which he pleases and prosper in the thing whereto he sent it. (`Isa. 55:11`.) He would see that this knowledge of God is to reach, not only the very ignorant heathen of foreign lands, but, as well, the very ignorant of civilized lands; for "all shall know God from the least to the greatest." He would learn that the Millennial age will not only be a time for gaining knowledge of God, but a time when the obedient will be blessed with restitution to all the privileges and qualities and powers of mind and body lost by disobedience by Adam for himself and all
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his posterity;--redeemed by the Second Adam's sacrifice for sin, once for all. He would thus see that the Millennial age will be the great purgatory time in which the world in general will be permitted, if they will, to wash at the fountain opened in the House of David for sin and uncleanness (`Zech. 13:1`);--by faith in the blood of Christ to be made every whit whole, and fit for the fellowship of angels and saints.
The bishop would learn, moreover, that nothing unclean or unholy can enter God's presence and be acceptable with him, and that, as the Church is now called to be saints and to practice holiness ("without which no man shall see the Lord"), so it must be with the heathen when, during the Millennium, they are called, taught and released from the blinding influences of Satan. Only the pure in heart shall ever see God or enjoy the bountiful provisions prepared for those who love him.
Then Bishop Foster would be prepared to learn something respecting God's purpose in the call of the Church, and what is the hope of her calling. (`Eph. 1:18`.) Soon he would see that as God selected one class of servants during previous ages, to be used in his great plan for the future blessing of the world, so during the Gospel age he has been selecting a household of sons to be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, the Lord and Head and Redeemer, in the Millennial Kingdom and its work of binding Satan and opening the eyes of the world so long blinded by Satan.--`Gen. 12:3`; `Heb. 11:40`; `Acts 15:14`; `Rev. 20:1-4`.
Soon the Bishop would be not only studying this blessed gospel of the Bible, but circulating these truths amongst his friends, and in every way preaching the old gospel, the old theology --that "Christ Jesus by the grace of God tasted death for every man," that he "gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time;" and that eventually the "true Light" will lighten "every man that cometh into the world." --`Heb. 2:9`; `1 Tim. 2:4-6`; `John 1:9`.
We will comment on further quotations from this remarkable sermon in our next issue.
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"THOU HAST THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE."
"From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? "Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." --`John 6:66-68`.--
THERE is just a tinge of disappointment in our Master's words here recorded--"Will ye also go away?" Accustomed to look for a reason for every action and word, we inquire, Why did the loss of a number of followers make our Lord feel sad? Was he ambitious for a large following? Did his confidence rest in numbers? Did he say to himself, Now what will the Pharisees say when after three years of my teaching they see me deserted by many of my followers? Was it that he feared the deflection might curtail his revenues? No, it was none of these things; for he had already made himself of no reputation. He had already said to his disciples, Woe unto you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets. He had also the power by which two small fishes and three barley loaves could be made sufficient to feed five thousand people. And he already knew that his faithful followers were to be, in all, but a "little flock," and who of the multitude believed not.--`Verse 64`.
Why then, did his words express sadness at the loss of a number from his company? It was because he was true and noble and sympathetic, and loved his friends, and seeing the hour approaching when the Shepherd would be smitten and all the sheep be scattered (as it was afterward fulfilled when "all forsook him and fled"), the lonely sadness crept over him and found expression in the words, Will ye also go away? Love of sympathy, fellowship of friends, etc., are not weaknesses, but, on the contrary, are elements of a true character. But it would have shown weakness had our Lord allowed the turning back of his disciples to have influenced or swerved his course from the path of sacrifice marked out for him in the Father's plan. No such weakness ever manifested itself. On the contrary, but a few days after, when Peter who here spoke so nobly, attempted to dissuade our Lord from sacrifice, he promptly
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answered, Get thee behind me, adversary, thou savorest not the things of God, but of men.
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The Apostle Peter's words, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life," are full of meaning. He had known what it meant to seek God's favor and everlasting life through keeping the Law, and, like most of the Jews of the humbler class, had been discouraged, finding himself condemned both by the doctrines of the Pharisees and by his own conscience. Doubtless, also, he knew something of the various heathen philosophies respecting a future life; and, if so, he knew them to be merely human speculations or guesses.
But for three years he had known Jesus and heard his words on this subject of eternal life. His teaching was not speculative guessing as to what might be. "He taught them with authority, and not as the scribes." Nor did he teach them to hope for eternal life through the keeping of the Law (which they knew to be an impossibility). His teaching, on the contrary, was different from that of every other teacher. He taught them that he had come into the world, not to be served or honored and titled, but to serve men and to finally give his life a ransom or purchase-price for the forfeited lives of all who lost the right to life in Adam's trial and disobedience. (`Matt. 20:28`.) His teaching was that as a result of this ransom-sacrifice, which, by divine love and arrangement, he was about to give for all, all shall have the opportunity of everlasting life through obedience under the gracious terms of the New Covenant; and that to this end not only they, but also, "All that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and come forth, and they that hear [obey] shall live"--attain perfect life. (`John 5:25,28,29`.) Peter had heard this simple and beautiful gospel--this, the only real good tidings of everlasting life; he recognized Jesus as the Messiah sent of God to be the Life-giver to the world, the true light that shall ultimately lighten every man that cometh into the world. --`John 1:9`.
What wonder, then, in view of this, that Peter answered as he did, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." Peter's faith and hope had found in the doctrines of Christ a foundation and anchorage which they could not find elsewhere.
And the same is true of all intelligent believers to-day, in proportion as they have heard and understood the wonderful words of life, of which Christ's death is the central theme, the hub, whose spokes are the love and favor of God, including all his exceeding great and precious promises reaching to the circumference --everlasting life. Having once seen the truth, having once heard the good tidings--the words of everlasting life--for what would they exchange it?
Looking abroad, we still find the philosophies of Confucius, Buddha, Brahma and Zoroaster, but they satisfy us not. We hear the wisdom of this world speculating about an evolution which it surmises has already progressed from a protoplasm to a tadpole and from a tadpole to a monkey and from a monkey to a man and which it hopes, guesses and tries to assure itself will continue to progress to planes of being still higher than man. It assures us that whether there was or was not an intelligent God at the beginning, there will be millions of wise and powerful gods eventually, when they get evolved. But our hearts turn from such wild speculations back to the wonderful words of life spoken by him who spoke as never man spoke before or since. In those words is the rest and peace which the world can neither give nor take away.
Following the instructions of this same great Teacher, we are learning more and more about this eternal life which he has provided for all. As meat in due season he has taught us that this gift of eternal life is only for those that love him;--that a little flock of the ransomed world, called and proved worthy by their loving obedience during the Gospel age, are to be his joint-heirs in the glory, honor and immortality of the divine nature, and that he with these will in the next age, the Millennium, bless all the families of the earth with the knowledge of and opportunity to attain restitution to human perfection with everlasting life conditioned only upon faith and hearty obedience under the New Covenant, sealed with the blood of the ransom-sacrifice. This is the same gospel as of yore: these are the same words
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of everlasting life, only amplified and magnified as we get nearer to their grand consummation.
In the harvest of the Jewish age, it was after our Lord had spoken to his followers the "words of eternal life" that he permitted "offenses" to come to sift them as wheat, saying, "It must needs be that offenses come." Those trials came to prove which were ripe wheat and which chaff and undeveloped wheat. Two classes specially were sifted out--the merely curious and slightly interested class, and a consecrated class which had not much depth of character, represented in our Lord's parable (`Matt. 13:5,6,20,21`) as the stony ground hearers, which received the message with joy, but not having depth of heart-soil and earnest love and consecration to the truth, when tribulation or persecution arose they were at once offended, and turned back and walked no more with the Lord and the faithful.
The same is true now, in the present harvest of the Gospel age. Blessed have been our eyes, for they have seen many of the "deep things" in the divine plan of the ages; and blessed have been our ears, for they have heard with wonderful clearness the lessons of the great Teacher--the words of glory, honor and immortality --words of eternal life. And now in the Lord's order we are to be ready for trials and siftings. Now, again, offenses must needs come to prove all, and to turn back those who are not consecrated and those who have no depth of character, who are unwilling to bear the reproaches and afflictions of the Christ. So it was with Gideon's typical army. All who shall be owned of the Lord as joint-heirs with Christ must be a select class, a peculiarly zealous people;--and no wonder: Marvel not therefore at the fiery trials which shall try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. In fact, that is the very purpose of the permission of offenses and divisions: "that they which are approved [by God, because they endure the tests and stand fast in the truth] may be made manifest among you."-- `1 Cor. 11:18,19`.
Those who will stand the test here will be just like those for whom Peter spoke in the previous harvest testing. Should any feeling of faintness or discouragement come over them, they will also ask, "Lord to whom shall we go?" Looking about them they see the delusions of Spiritism and various doctrines of devils, and the blindness and contradictions of reason as well as of Scripture among agnostics, and in the various denominations of Christendom. The glance is sufficient for the class which the Lord desires to select. They could not go away, they could not be forced to leave the army of the Lord. Truly, where should we go? Our Leader, and he alone, has the words of eternal life. Since we have heard his words, all other gospels have lost their charm. We will abide with and follow the great Captain of our salvation: in his words and in his love and in his service we live and move and have our being as the elect of God.
"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word.
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled."
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JUDGMENT--ITS USE AND ABUSE.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."--`Matt. 7:1,2`.
A VERY unlovely disposition in the eyes of God, and of all fair-minded men, is that which assumes the obligation of sitting in uncharitable judgment upon all the affairs and conduct of fellow-men, either within the Church or outside of it.
That our Lord referred to this abuse of judgment, and not to the legitimate use of that noble faculty, is very manifest from succeeding `verses (3-5`), which warn against the hypocrisy of condemning others for faults no greater than those which exist in one's self, but to which self-love is wilfully blind; and also from `verses 15-20`, which bid us beware of wolves in sheep's clothing, or, in other words, to use sound judgment in discriminating between the truly consecrated and faithful children of God, whose hearts are pure and free from guile, and
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those who studiously cover up a wolf-like character with the outward professions of godliness, in order to deceive and lead astray the unwary.
"By their fruits ye shall know them," said the Lord; and to use candid and unbiased judgment in comparing their fruits--of character, conduct or teaching--with their professions and with the Word of God, is necessary to the safety and protection of the Lord's people. This, therefore, is a very legitimate use of judgment; and those who, disregarding the Lord's warning, either recklessly or wilfully, fail so to exercise judgment, expose themselves to the deceitful snares of the great adversary. The wolf is not to be tolerated, nor his sheep's clothing respected: he has no rightful place in the assemblies of the true sheep until his character is changed by repentance and submission to the will of God. His presence can only bring reproach upon all associated with him, and sow the seeds of error and discord; and, learning the shibboleth of the saints, he will deceitfully make merchandise of their holy things and demand that Christian charity should let him alone in his nefarious work.
Alas! many simple ones, ignoring the Lord's counsel, weakly yield to this demand, to their great detriment spiritually. They give that which is holy unto the dogs and cast their pearls before the swine; and the wolf is often tolerated out of respect for his sheep's clothing. It is not real charity to such characters to permit them to pursue their course unmolested; nor is it true loyalty to the cause of Christ. To firmly and candidly let such persons know that we recognize their character and refuse to fellowship or company with them until a change of heart is manifested, and to positively and openly resist their influence, is the noblest and truest charity, both to them and to the cause of Christ in general, though such a course will assuredly bring persecution in some shape.
To deal thus candidly and fairly may in some cases wake up the erring to a sense of their wickedness, and, by making it unprofitable to them, may lessen the temptations to continue the evil course. At all events, it gives the sheep and lambs of the Lord's flock warning of the dangers to be expected from such sources. To encourage or assist such, is to become partakers of their evil deeds. (`2 John 11`.) Nor would Christian charity demand that the wicked or the profligate should be protected against the natural rewards of their evil course. To thus aid them is only to interfere with the divine arrangement by which sin brings its own retribution for the correction of the sinner. Thus, for instance, if when a profligate son spends his substance in riotous living, an unwise father makes up his loss and starts him anew, not allowing him to realize the evil effects of his course, the son misses the lesson and proceeds to greater lengths in an evil course. The love of God is not thus unwise: if it were, he would not permit the great time of trouble, now impending, to come upon the world. But he will permit it, and when the judgments of the Lord are thus abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. (`Isa. 26:9`.) It is not our part, however, to bring evil upon the evil-doers; for vengeance belongs to God. Nor would it be contrary to the spirit of the Lord to show pity and to alleviate the dire wants of those in distress from their own folly. This would not interfere with the needed lesson, but, on the contrary, would tend to soften the heart and make it more susceptible to the lesson.
While the legitimate use of judgment for wise and holy ends is plainly taught in this sermon of our Lord, the `first verse of this chapter` expressly commands that we should not reckon ourselves as the competent judges of men's hearts, to uncharitably condemn them on our own responsibility. But when their course of conduct is in manifest opposition to and defiance of God's law, as in cases of disguised "wolves," "swine" and "dogs," the condemnation of that law, which is God's judgment, not ours merely, should always be recognized.
As a matter of fact, if we have the spirit of the Lord, our judgment will coincide with his --approving what he approves, and condemning what he condemns: we will judge righteous judgment, which makes every possible allowance for the infirmities of the flesh, the strength of temptation and the imperfections of knowledge, and which, ever bearing in mind that we also are far short of perfection, never forgets
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the golden rule--"Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets."--`Verse 12`; `Lev. 19:18`; `Matt. 22:40`; `Rom. 13:8,9,10`; `Gal. 5:14`; `1 Tim. 1:5`.
`Verse 2` makes very imperative the application of this golden rule in such cases--"For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Oh, if men and women would always consider these things, how much uncharitable judgment and evil-speaking, and how many bitter words, would be spared! If each could recognize in the other the spirit of love and candor, how quickly wrongs could be righted! If reproofs were always expressed in the spirit of the golden rule, how much more effective they would be than when they are colored with the glare of hatred and revenge!
"How wise are God's commands!
How sure his precepts are!"
Let us ponder them well, and cultivate more and more in our own hearts the spirit of God's love and kindness--the spirit of his holy law.
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"IF THOU KNEWEST THE GIFT OF GOD."
"If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."--`John 4:10`.
THE woman of Samaria failed to recognize in the weary sojourner who sat by the well, the anointed Son of God, whose presence in the world at that time had been foretold by all the holy prophets for four thousand years previous. And few indeed, even of those who knew of his claims and his teachings, as well as of the divine testimonies at his birth and baptism--that this was the beloved Son of God and the bringer of good tidings of great joy to all people (`Luke 2:9-14`; `Matt. 3:17`)--could appreciate this fact, because of the meek humility which bore no similarity to any thing that men were accustomed to call great. Even John the baptist sent and inquired, "Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?"
No wonder that the woman of Samaria did not recognize him. And, not recognizing him, how could she realize her privilege of service to him as a gift of God. Had she known and been able to appreciate her privilege of giving a cup of cold water to the only begotten and well-beloved Son of God, how gladly would she have rendered the service requested! And not only so, but had she realized who it was that requested the favor, she would have seen her opportunity of applying to him for the water of life, the great salvation.
But the woman did not know the gift of God so close at hand. Thinking of the stranger merely as a Jew, and one of a class who refused to have any dealings with the Samaritans, the request for a drink of water seemed only to arouse a measure of the old animosity of her race against this one, whom she probably thought of as one willing to receive a favor in his extremity, but at other times regarding her and her people as too far beneath him to have any dealings with her.
The Lord recognized the foundation for this feeling of animosity, and did not resent it, but
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patiently led her first to suspect, and then to realize, that this was indeed the Christ; and she went forth joyfully to proclaim this truth, and to bring others to him. This woman was a sinful woman, and a type of thousands of others, men and women, who would act very differently if they only knew. If the Jews had only known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (`1 Cor. 2:8`.) That which prevented them from knowing was the god of this world, who blinded their eyes and prejudiced their minds so that they could not believe. (`2 Cor. 4:4`.) Consequently they failed to perceive the gift of God in their privilege of service to Christ and of receiving from him the water of life.
The same is true also to-day of the world in regard to the body of Christ, the Church. They do not know that the Lord has his representatives in the world. Like their Lord, these are not invested with the glory of this world, but they are despised and rejected of men, and are not known as the future judges of the earth. But
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those who do know them should appreciate the privilege of service, since the Lord has said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (`Matt. 25:40`.) Whatever, therefore, we do for the least of God's people we are doing for him. How this should make us appreciate our privileges of service one to another!
But if the world knows us not, and has not yet learned to appreciate the refreshing water of life we have to bear to them, it is no cause of surprise. If they failed to recognize the Master who was perfect, how could we expect them to recognize us, in whom are many imperfections still, although in God's sight through grace we are reckoned holy? If the god of this world has blinded the eyes of many, it is our privilege, as it was that of the Master, to help remove the blindness and let the glorious light of the gospel of peace shine in upon their minds. Let us offer the water of life to all as opportunities may present themselves. In so doing we also will be blest, as was the Master.-- `John 4:31-34`.
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"AGREE WITH THINE ADVERSARY QUICKLY."
"Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily, I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."--`Matt. 5:25,26`.
"When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite."--`Luke 12:58,59`.
WE are asked whether these Scriptures can be understood to teach that those who do not make peace with the Lord in the present life will be held under compulsion to make full payment for all their debts by purgatorial sufferings in the Millennial age, and then be released to everlasting life.
We reply that we cannot so understand them, because such a construction would be in contradiction of the Scripture teachings respecting the wages of sin. Since the penalty, or "wages of sin, is death," to pay that penalty to the uttermost farthing would mean everlasting death, --extinction. And if these Scriptures be so applied they would necessarily mean, Thou shalt never come forth!
But viewing these statements from the standpoint of their contexts, we regard them differently. In `Matt. 5:17-20` the Law is held up as the great standard of authority, at that time the accuser of all; for it was the accuser of the Scribes and Pharisees, outwardly the most religious and devout Law-keepers. The attitude of every Jew should have been one of penitence. Realizing that they had all sinned and come far short of the requirements of the Law Covenant, they all should have been in a very contrite state of heart, ready and anxious to confess their shortcomings and to compromise the matter, if possible, whilst yet in the way with their accuser (adversary), the Law, and before final sentence would be pronounced.
Had the Jewish Church realized their condition, thus, they would have been glad, yea, anxious, to hear the message which Christ had for them. Confessing their inability to comply with all the terms of the Law Covenant, they would have been pleading for mercy, and would have been prepared to hear of God's provision for them in "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world."
Those who did thus plead for mercy did receive Christ as the sent of God--the way, the truth and the life,--the deliverer from the condemnation of their Law Covenant. These were delivered into the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, and became sons of God under the New Covenant which Christ sealed with his blood--his death.
But those who did not realize the situation, who discerned not the time of their visitation (`Luke 19:44`) as a nation, were blinded. Only the "remnant" of that nation, which made peace quickly, in the way to judgment, were delivered. (`Rom. 9:27-29`; `11:5,7-11`.) And upon that nation, except the remnant, which
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made peace in the way, the full weight of their judgment fell--they were blinded and cast off from divine favor for a "double," for a period of disfavor equal in length to their previous period of favor, 1845 years. Thus they were forced to pay the "uttermost farthing;" for, as the Apostle Paul states the matter,--"wrath is come upon them to the uttermost."--`1 Thes. 2:16`.
The context in `Luke's account (12:54-57`) strongly supports the foregoing. There our Lord's words reported are, "Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?" --Why do you not know that you are living in the day of visitation and testing, and that you as a people are even now en route to judgment. Why do you not confess that you are unable to keep the Law Covenant, and, instead of boasting in the Law, why do you not seek and obtain the mercy which is just at the door? It is because you are proud and hypocritical, and draw nigh to God with your lips while your hearts are far from him. It is because you are not Israelites indeed without guile or hypocrisy.
In this light the above texts may be briefly explained thus:--Addressing the Jewish nation, our Lord said, "Agree with thine adversary [the divine Law which condemned all to death (`Rom. 7:10`); i.e., admit the justice of its condemnation, because you have come short of its righteous requirements] quickly, while thou art in the way with him [while the offer of mercy is made to you as a nation, through faith in Christ who by his sacrifice offers an atonement for you], lest at any time the adversary [the Law, whose demands you fail to meet, though you claim to meet them] deliver thee to the judge [to the just judgment of God], and the judge deliver thee to the officer [to some power that would execute the penalty], and thou be cast into prison [into a position of disfavor, --such as that nation has experienced ever since their rejection of Messiah. As a nation they have been cut off, blinded, and imprisoned ever since they rejected Christ and said, 'His blood be upon us and upon our children']. Verily,... Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing [until the privileges of the Gospel age, the high calling, first offered to Israel, shall have ceased, having been bestowed upon the worthy Gentiles, and the worthy remnant of Israel who heeded this counsel. Then their blindness will be turned away; but they will have paid the uttermost farthing in the forfeiture of the chief blessing, which was offered to them first, but which they rejected]."
THE UNMERCIFUL SERVANT.
This parable has no relationship whatever to the foregoing: we treat it here merely because some of its expressions resemble expressions quoted in the above, and to avoid any confusion thereby.
The parable shows the conduct of an earthly king. He was generous temporarily, and forgave the debtor, allowing him time and opportunity to keep his word and pay the debt in full. But when he heard how ungenerously that debtor had unmercifully abused and refused compassion and extension of time to a still poorer man, who owed him a much less amount, the king was indignant and withdrew his mercy, cancelled the extension, and put the debtor into the hands of exactors until his debt in full should be paid.
This king's conduct does not in all respects represent our Heavenly Father's course; but in some respects it illustrates it. Our Heavenly Father does not forgive us our sins, nor grant us an extension of time in which to pay the price of our transgressions. He, on the contrary, "heareth not sinners;" but, having committed all judgment unto the Son, the Heavenly Father refers all supplicants to him--the way, the truth and the life. The only access and reconciliation to the Heavenly Father will be by the Son, who bought us with his own precious blood, and in whom alone we may have forgiveness, the remission of sins. Those who come unto the Father by him are already acceptable to the Father, in the beloved--i.e., reckonedly--but they will not be fully and actually presented until the Son shall have cleansed and perfected them, that he may present them blameless and unreprovable in love before him. --See `Col. 1:22`; `Phil. 2:15`.
The parable does, however, express or illustrate the Heavenly Father's attitude on the point
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in question. He also would be indignant that one for whom he has in Christ provided complete forgiveness, and not merely an extension of time for payment, should be unmerciful to a fellow-servant; and he will do to such as did the king in the parable. He will exact the full debt from the unmerciful, showing him no mercy who showed no mercy toward others.-- `Matt. 7:1,2,12`.
This will mean the death-penalty upon the unmerciful--the second death--"everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power."
Nor should we expect otherwise; for he who is not merciful and sympathetic has not the love of God--has not the spirit of Christ. And "if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." And only those in whom love instead of selfishness shall become the mastering sentiment have the promise of life everlasting on any plane of being. "Blessed are the merciful-- they shall obtain mercy!"
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ALEXANDER CAMPBELL'S VIEWS.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--As many readers of the WATCH TOWER, like myself, are warm admirers of that renowned champion of the Bible, Alexander Campbell, and are always interested in anything from his pen touching the mysteries of the Book, I beg leave to give below a scrap from his writings on the Prophecies, directly bearing upon the thoughts uppermost in our minds, and showing the drift of his investigations in that line. He says:--
"What now if we should attempt to prove arithmetically, the certainty of the prophecies concerning the final consummation of all things?
The expectation of Christendom is notorious. It is this: that sometime soon, perhaps in the present century, a new order of things in the political and religious relations of society will commence; that it will pervade the whole human family; that after its full introduction, it will continue a thousand years; and that soon
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after its completion, the present state of things will terminate and the multiplication of human beings cease forever. Without going minutely into detail, such is the general expectation of Christendom built upon those writings called prophecies.
Well, now, should we prove by an arithmetical calculation the certainty of such conclusions relative to the final consummation--what will the skeptics say? The premises or data are these: the present population of the earth is estimated, say, at one thousand millions. Now I will leave it to them to furnish the data, or to state what the population was two, three or four thousand years ago. They may even furnish me data from the census of any nation of Europe for two, three, four or five hundred years back. It will give the same result. We shall take the Bible data until they furnish another. According to the Bible data the whole human family, about four thousand years ago, was composed of eight individuals, four males and four females; and to keep our calculations in whole numbers, we shall evacuate Europe and America of all their population and place them in Asia and Africa on the population there, which will fill that half as full of human beings as can subsist upon its surface. We have now got, say, the half of our globe empty and the other half full. Now, the question is, if eight persons in four thousand years fill the one half of the earth as full as it can subsist, how long will one thousand millions be in filling the other half? If in despite of wars, famines, pestilences and all waste of human life, under the corruptions of the last four thousand years, such has been the increase of human beings, what would be the ratio of increase were all these to cease, and peace and health and competence be the order of the day for one thousand years? Why there would not be one half acre of land and water upon the face of the globe for every human being which would live at the completion of the Millennium or the seven-thousandth year from the creation, what I contemplate from these oracles to be about the end of the present state of human existence. Either then some devastation must empty the earth of its inhabitants or the human race be extinguished. Logic and arithmetic compel us to the former conclusions; but when we add to logic and arithmetic the prophecies of holy Scripture, we are compelled to embrace the latter. I think no prophecy ever admitted of so certain a calculation or so exact and definite a computation; in fact no other oracle in the annals of the world is proved by arithmetic so inevitably and unanswerably as I conceive this to be."
Query: Did not Brother Campbell see Restitution at least dimly? E. A. SADDLER.
We fear that Brother Campbell saw the future but dimly. Instead of being "extinguished" the obedient will be granted everlasting life, and only propagation will cease.--EDITOR.
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A NEW BRANCH OF THE SERVICE
Some have been in doubt whether or not to respond to "Another Branch of the Work," in Sept. 1 TOWER, and "Introducing Tower Tract Society Representatives," in Sept. 15 TOWER; because, while willing and anxious to donate some of their time to special service, and believing that by the grace of God they possess (and are growing in) the eight qualifications for special ministry mentioned, they are so situated, with families dependent upon them, etc., that they could give but little time to the service and could rarely go away from home,--unless the Tract Society could pay their home, as well as their traveling expenses.
We fear that we have been misunderstood by a few. It is not our purpose to start or to encourage a paid ministry. The funds at our command would be but a drop in the bucket for such an enterprise; and even if it were otherwise, we should doubt the wisdom of such a plan. One or two special representatives might be advisable, and they should be persons of remarkable humility and very clear in the truth-- otherwise they themselves might be injured as much as others would be benefitted by them; but we would not think it advisable to divert to this branch more than a small part of the limited Tract Fund receipts now being expended in tract work, in the preparation of translations of DAWN in foreign languages, etc.
Voluntary service from all, at the sacrifice of some earthly comforts, conveniences, etc., seems to be the Lord's order of development. Those who do not serve from the love of the Lord, his people and his truth should not serve at all,--their service will do harm. He who serves from love, and according to his opportunities for sacrifice, will have his opportunities enlarged and his talents increased. He who does not so serve will not serve long, but will be speedily gathered out--into outer darkness, error: for he will "gather out of his Kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity."
We had specially in mind certain brethren whose business calls them from place to place, and who we had reason to believe possessed the eight qualifications specified; and several of these have responded, glad to spend their Sundays and many of their evenings in visiting and helping the Lord's "little ones." We have accepted all so offering who have responded satisfactorily; and we trust that this branch of the service will accomplish much good during next year; for it will require some time to prepare lists of TOWER subscribers in so many towns.
But do not forget that the Colporteur work offers an open door to one of the most effective branches of the Lord's service. Those unincumbered can give their entire time thus, and pay their way; while those who can give but a few hours a week can be used also. And for such as are unincumbered, but too diffident and bashful to succeed as regular Colporteurs, we now have a new plan of work to suggest. "Go ye also into the Vineyard!"
It is not our design to supplant the DAWN and tract work, as a means for reaching the Lord's sheep with the "meat in due season;" for we know of no better method,--none nearly so good. The new branch of service is designed to "strengthen the brethren," to help them over difficulties and to lead them more and more to apply the truth and its spirit in their daily lives.
The form of certificate mentioned in our last issue is an old one, and is not quite satisfactory to us. We have gotten up what we believe is a better one, instead, a copy of which will be given in our next issue.
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OUR LORD'S VISIT TO NAZARETH.
IV. QUAR. LESSON 1., OCT. 7, `LUKE 4:16-30`.
Golden Text--"See that ye refuse not him that speaketh."--`Heb. 12:25`.
In this lesson the special point of interest is our Lord's reference to his authority and commission from God, through the Prophet Isaiah, to preach the gospel of his coming Kingdom. This commission is contained in `Isa. 61:1-3`; but it will be observed that the Lord read only to the middle of `verse 2`, and then closed the book and sat down, saying, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." It was fulfilled in him, as the Prophet declared, he having received the anointing of the holy spirit. Therefore he had come to them with divine authority to declare unto them the good tidings of great joy unto all people.
The question naturally arises, Why did he not read the entire commission? The answer is obvious: it was because the remainder was not fulfilled in that day. It was time then to preach (1) the good tidings of the Kingdom to all who were meek enough to receive it by faith from the humble
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and unpretentious Nazarene; (2) to bind up the broken-hearted; to tell those in trouble that by and by the Kingdom would bring order, peace and joy out of present confusion and trouble; (3) to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound-- What captives? Surely not those lawfully detained for criminality in prisons of the state. No, but for all the dead race still lying in the prison-house of death--the grave: The hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and shall come forth (`John 5:28,29`); and (4) it was time then to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord--the year or period of acceptable sacrifices: the "better sacrifices" than bulls and goats, the sacrifices of Christ and his body, the Church. (`Heb. 9:23`.) That was the beginning of the Gospel age--the time appointed as the great atonement day* for the world, the time of special favor to the called and faithful and chosen who should follow in the footsteps of their leader and head, Christ Jesus, and eventually become joint-heirs with him of the coming Kingdom.
This was all of the commission that was due in the beginning of the age. It was not yet time to proclaim--"the day of vengeance
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of our God," nor to comfort all that mourn--the whole "groaning creation" (`Rom. 8:22`), nor "to grant unto the mourners in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Had he read the entire commission, he could not have added the words, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." This latter part of the commission was not due until the harvest or end of the age; and while the entire commission belongs to the whole body of the Anointed-- the Christ, head and body,--the latter part must of necessity be declared by those members of the body living in the last times --the harvest or end of the age, from A.D. 1874 to A.D. 1915.
It is upon this generation that "the days of vengeance" are coming; and it is this generation therefore, that should hear the voice of warning. It is in the midst of the great afflictions of the now impending time of trouble "such as never was since there was a nation," that the "groaning creation" is to learn that it is the chastening hand of God upon them, who wounds to heal, and that by means of this great affliction he is subduing all things unto himself. And when the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. (`Isa. 26:9`.) Thus in due time--the end of the harvest and time of trouble--"all that mourn" will be "comforted." Then the whole world will have learned to be still and to know that the Lord's reign of righteousness is begun --the Kingdom of God established in the earth.--`Psa. 46:10`.
The last proposition of this commission also belongs to this harvest period. During this time is the gathering together of the elect from the four winds--from all parts of the great nominal Zion, the nominal Christian church. These are they who mourned in nominal Zion, who realized the decline of vital piety in her, who sadly lamented the great discrepancies between her creeds and the divine Word of promise and prophecy, and who hungered and thirsted for righteousness and searched for truth as men search for silver. To all such the Lord now appoints beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness. Within this harvest period he has given us refreshing views of the completeness and beauty of the divine plan: he has given to us the beauty and symmetry of divine truth for the ashes of human creeds, and the oil of joy in consequence, for the spirit of heaviness. And in the end of the harvest all such who prove faithful to the end shall be exalted and glorified: they shall be made heirs of the Kingdom, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. They shall be "trees of the Lord, the planting of the Lord that he might be glorified."
This commission through the Prophet Isaiah is the only divinely authorized commission that was ever given to any man to preach the gospel. And it belongs only to those, and to all those, upon whom the anointing of the holy spirit of God has come --to the Christ, head and body. They all can say, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach," etc. Our Lord Jesus received this anointing of the holy spirit immediately after his baptism in water, which symbolized his entire consecration to the will of God, even unto death, when the holy spirit visibly descended upon him and a voice from heaven was heard saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And as
*See TABERNACLE SHADOWS OF BETTER SACRIFICES.
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in the typical anointing of the typical high priest in the service of the typical tabernacle, the anointing oil was poured upon the head only, but from thence ran down even to the skirts of his garments, thus bringing the whole body under the anointing (`Lev. 8:12`; `Psa. 133:2`), so all who have come into Christ by faith and full consecration to the will of God have likewise come under the same anointing. It was at Pentecost, after the Lord's ascension, that this spirit of anointing began to descend upon the consecrated body of Christ (`Acts 2:1-18`); and all who have been added to the body since have likewise received of the anointing, by right of which they can also claim the divine commission to preach the gospel in the use of whatever talents they may possess, be they few or many, or be they humble or brilliant; and for the proper use of their commission they are accountable to him who gave them authority as his ambassadors.
The inference is also plain that no man should be regarded by the saints as a minister of the gospel, or received or heard as such, who cannot claim this commission (which alone grants the divine authority), as conferred upon him by virtue of his anointing as a consecrated child of God and member of the body of Christ. All such are of the "royal priesthood," whose duty and privilege it is to serve in holy things.
Unto those who have not fully submitted themselves unto the Lord, but who would nevertheless pose as leaders and teachers in the Church, the Word of the Lord is very explicit, saying, "What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction and castest my words behind thee?" (`Psa. 50:16,17`.) "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets [teachers] that prophecy unto you: they make you vain; they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord....I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied." (`Jer. 23:16-21`.) Alas! there are many such false teachers who are ambitious to declare the visions of their own heart, and claim that the Lord sent them and that they are teaching his truth. And many, too, there are who, ignoring the command of God, hearken to the words of such false prophets and are thereby deceived and led astray.
Our Lord's sermon from this gospel-laden text must have been one of great power, proclaiming the blessed tidings of redemption and restitution and giving some intimations of the special favor to be granted to the Gospel Church. While he thus spake to them as never man spake, and opened up the Scriptures to their understanding so that the blessed rays of hope and joy penetrated their hearts, the people "wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth." And they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" It was just as some remarked on other occasions-- "Whence hath this man this wisdom?" Ah, it was by reason of the anointing. Being thus brought into close fellowship with the Father, the divine plan was clearly revealed to him through the "sure Word of prophecy," and his lips gave expression to the glorious message of love and grace.
`VERSES 23-27` are words of reproof to a heedless and merely curiosity-seeking people. While he spoke to them wonderful words of life, he saw that the hearts of the great majority at least were not prepared to receive them, as evidenced by the fact that instead of looking for the correspondency in the teacher to the prophetic forecast of him to which attention had been called, they were inquiring about his earthly pedigree, and desirous to see some manifestation of his power to work miracles.
This incredulity and idle curiosity the Lord severely rebuked by citing them two historic instances where God through the prophets manifested his saving power, not to the curious and unbelieving, but passing all such by, he showed his great favor and power to the meek and humble who loved and believed God. This was too much for the hot-headed, impetuous pride of the unworthy hearers of that noble sermon. Who was this son of Joseph, one of their humblest citizens, that he should thus brand them as unworthy of the favor of God? And in their wrath and haste they seized him and with violence bore him away toward the brow of the hill, intending to hurl him to death.--`Verses 28,29`.
`VERSE 30` records his escape--"Passing through the midst of them, he went his way." His hour had not yet come, and therefore he seems to have exerted that power which belonged to him as a perfect man over the weaker, imperfect men--the power of his mind alone, we believe, which
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overwhelmed and cowed their fierce passions, so that none dared take the responsibility of casting him headlong; and he, therefore, passing through the midst of them, went his way. The same power was also exerted on other similar occasions. (See `John 7:30,43-46`.) But when his hour was come he opened not his mouth, nor resisted in any degree the throngs that sought his life.
The words of the `Golden Text` are most appropriate to all that hear the word of life --"this gospel of the Kingdom:" "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh...from heaven." The latter part of the divine commission --the harvest message--now due, and hence now declared, by those members of the body of Christ now living, is just as important to this end of the age as was the former part to the beginning and all through the age: therefore, let him that heareth see that he refuse it not, however humble and unpretentious may seem that member of the body through whom it may be declared to him.
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THE DRAUGHT OF FISHES.
IV. QUAR., LESSON II., OCT. 14, `LUKE 5:1-11`.
Golden Text--"He taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes."--`Mark 1:22`.
This miracle of our Lord, located thus early in his ministry, prior to the choosing of his apostles and also to the sending out of the seventy, was a prophecy of the future work of all such. They were to be fishers of men. And here also was a prophecy
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of their success as fishers of men. They were to catch multitudes. This same lesson was again repeated after our Lord's resurrection (See `John 21:1-9`), and the prophecy has been amply verified in the long fishing season of the Gospel age.
Using the same illustration, our Lord also spoke a parable (`Matt. 13:47-50`), saying, "The kingdom of heaven [the embryo kingdom of heaven, the Gospel Church] is like unto a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the age: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
The gospel net was first cast into the sea (the world, where no distinction was recognized between Jew and Gentile) at Pentecost; and from the day of Pentecost to the present harvest time it has been gathering in all sorts of fish; and together they constitute the great nominal Gospel church, or, as it is sometimes termed, the Christian world, and Christendom. But all of these fish are not of the kind desired of the Lord to constitute the true Christendom--Christ's Kingdom --which is to be set up in glory and power at the end of the Gospel age and dawn of the Millennium. Therefore, in the harvest or end of the age (a period of forty years-- from 1874 to 1915, See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., page 223,224), a separating work is to be accomplished, and those of the kind desired are to be carefully gathered out and preserved, while the remainder are cast away as unworthy of the Kingdom honors to which they were called.
Such a work has been in rapid progress since 1874. The sickle of truth has been the instrument in doing the separating work, and the angels or messengers sent forth to do the gathering are those of the Lord's people whom he has graciously brought to a knowledge of his glorious plan and its appointed times and seasons. This is the harvest message which was not previously due nor known; and it is accomplishing the great harvest work. Those who love the Lord and who partake of his benevolent and gracious spirit readily recognize the divine source from which the harvest message springs, and accept it. Such are the desired kind of fish, but they are few in comparison with the great number in the net.
The catching of the fish in the gospel net, and the sorting of them at the end of the age, are two parts of the one great work of making ready a people prepared for the Lord. This figure corresponds to that of the sower and the reaper; and when the great work is accomplished both the sower and the reaper shall rejoice together. The seed-sowing has been going on all through the age, but those who observe the divinely appointed times and seasons will devote their energies now to the special work of harvest, and not to seed sowing--to gathering the good fish into safety rather than to catching more.
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JEWISH NATIONALIZATION MOVEMENT.
We have often wondered that Hebrews in general seem to take so little interest in the revival of their own nation in Palestine. But their "double" (M. DAWN, VOL. II., p.218) having ended, and the time for the re-establishment of Israel as a nation being near, it is appropriate that we see signs pointing in that direction, such as the following:--
"The Zion Association of Baltimore was organized on Sunday, September 9th, for the purpose of fostering the national idea among the Jews, and to co-operate with similar societies in Europe and the United States, with the object of colonizing Palestine with Hebrews, who are emigrating from Russia and other countries in Europe.
"The society will, in the near future, publish a declaration of its principles, giving the reason that led to the formation of this Society in Baltimore, and calling upon all Hebrews to unite and assist the great work which is carried on in the land of our fathers."
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LIVE PEACEABLY WITH ALL.
Rev. E. M. Milligan, of the U. P. Church, Steubenville, O., has caught the anarchistic spirit and adapted it to his ideas of the Sunday question. As reported in the Press dispatches of Oct. 3rd, he said, "If necessary God's people would exchange ballots for bullets to bring about Sabbath reform."
The same gentleman spoke in the evening of the same day upon the "Attitude of the Church toward Labor Problems." With such lawless ideas as we quote above controlling his mind and speech, his advice would almost surely be unsafe.
All of God's people should remember the Apostle's advice, "Let your moderation be known unto all men." The influence of God's people--especially of those whose eyes are opened to see how the present unrest and discontent are injuring the poor world--should speak and act and "so far as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
THOSE who cannot remit by Express or P.O. Money Order, or Draft, may send one cent U.S. postage stamps;--foreign stamps are valueless here.
PLEASE write quite plainly, especially your address. If convenient, always prefer a pen and black ink. Give full address in every letter.