VOL. XXII. FEBRUARY 1, 1901. No. 3.
Views from the Watch Tower........................ 51
The Christian Advocate's View of
the New Century............................. 51
How the Century Looks to a
God's Blessing Brings Riches...................... 52
Heavenly vs. Earthly Riches................... 55
Laodicea's Counterfeit Riches................. 56
Parable of the Ten Virgins........................ 57
"To Every Man According to His
Several Ability"............................ 58
Interesting Questions Answered.................... 62
Sin and Sickness.................................. 63
Interesting Letters............................... 63
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POEMS AND HYMNS OF DAWN.
This volume contains a very choice selection of 150 Poems and 333 Hymns, purged, we trust, from much of the too common, erroneous, hymn-book theology: 494 pages, good print, cloth binding only. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom in verse, by the pens of many of God's dear saints of all centuries. It is a companion to MILLENNIAL DAWN, and sells at the same price as the cloth-bound volumes. It is designed to lead the mind aright in meditation and worship.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
THE DAWN of the twentieth century has naturally led to the launching of new programs along ethical and religious lines. The United Free Churches of Great Britain, it is announced, "have been quietly working to bring about one of the greatest and most striking revivals on record." Their primary effort, for which they have prepared for more than a year, is the conversion of London, tho it expected to extend more or less to the whole world. In the same metropolis Rev. Dr. Joseph Parker has for a week tried to demonstrate the advantages of a religious daily newspaper. In our own land various Union-movements have been started which welcome Jews, Romanists, and Unitarians who deny the ransom, to unite with the so-called "Orthodox" who ignore the ransom. The general plaint of all is that an effort to uplift mankind must be made, and yet they ignorantly oppose or ignore the divinely appointed uplift so near at hand-- the Millennial Kingdom of God's dear Son, the result of the great sin-offering finished at Calvary over eighteen centuries ago, but delayed until now for the calling and perfecting of the elect Church to be joint-heirs with her Savior and Bridegroom in that heavenly Kingdom.
What these various "movements" and "crusades" will accomplish is hard to guess: our surmise is that they will amount to little socially so long as times are prosperous; and that they will amount to nothing spiritually --along the lines of true spirituality--"sanctification through the truth;" because they are not built upon the truth of God's Word, but upon various human philosophies and theories.
Some, however, seem impressed with the fact that the new century opens under conditions very unfavorable to peace on earth and good will amongst men. For instance,--
CARDINAL VAUGHN DECLARES THE WORLD
In a recent address in London he is reported to have said: "The twentieth century will dawn on a world badly out-of-joint and sick unto death. The sense of uncertainty and unrest is universal. Races are exasperated against races. Rival nations have provoked each other to strife by gibes and insults, and men are asking whose influence is to dominate mankind when Asia is armed like ourselves? Will the heathen races prevail against Christian?
"Envy, jealousy, hatred, desires for revenge, avarice, greed of power and influence, have broken out among the nations like a plague of vices that threaten to destroy them. Remedies have been applied, but remedies are worthless.
"The nations called a conference for peace, but excluded the pope. They have forged weapons of destruction; harbored compulsory education without religion; preached the gospel of commerce; of the 'open door' and 'spheres of influence,' and then dispatched armies to fight the people.
"They have dug passionately into the bowels of the earth for more and more of the precious metals; yet taxation is increased and wants multiplied, and there is a chaos of conflicting cries, but no common agreement."
THE CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE'S VIEW OF THE NEW
"The nineteenth century goes out in war all around the world. The Hague Conference led some to sing 'Hosanna!' and to cry, 'The age of peace dawns!' We sat among the doubters; for human nature unregenerated is the same all over the world.
"The Christians are still cutting one another's throats in South Africa. The Christians are not done cutting one another's throats in the Phillipine Islands. The Christians and the pagans are but pausing for breath in China.
"Clouds are rising over various parts of Northern Africa, and the shadow of revolution is upon a score
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of nations in South and Central America and on the continent of Europe.
"An epidemic of lynching pervades this country. Prize-fighting is a great popular amusement. New York loves it, and also can breed a race riot....
"Those premillennarians who think that the world must get worse before Christ can come are solemnly pointing to these things as portents."
HOW THE NEW CENTURY LOOKS TO A MILLIONAIRE.
At the annual meeting of the Educational Alliance recently held, former Mayor of New York City, Abram S. Hewitt made caustic criticism of the rich men of New York City and of the country, and prophesied that unless they changed their attitude toward the masses of society the twentieth century would bring forth a social cataclysm such as the world has never seen. Mr. Hewitt said in the course of his remarks:
"The rich are blind. There is not one among them who is giving what he would give if his conscience were properly aroused. They do not seem to realize that this is a government by the majority. Ours is the only country in which there is universal suffrage. To be exercised rightfully and righteously, that suffrage must needs be educated. The rich in contributing to its education are but building for their own protection. If they neglect so to build, barbarism, anarchy and plunder will be the inevitable result.
"I believe that in the twentieth century the spirit of commercialism will steadily grow less strong and the spirit of altruism stronger. I believe that the rule, 'Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,' will more generally prevail than in all the centuries which have gone before.
"If I am mistaken in this--if the spirit of commercialism and greed continues to grow stronger-- then the twentieth century will witness a social cataclysm unparalleled in history. It is only by the discountenancing of commercialism and the spreading of altruism that we can safeguard justice, property and liberty."
How much the above words resemble the Scriptural declarations respecting our day, and their assurances that the growing selfish rapacity will eventuate in that great time of trouble "such as was not since there was a nation," in which "every man's hand shall be against his neighbor," and lead to mutual distrust and anarchy!--`James 5:1-5`; `Zech. 8:9,10`.
The closing words of Mr. Hewitt's address remind us forcibly of `Malachi's words (4:6`), "He shall turn the heart [sentiment]...or else I will come and smite the earth with a curse." Here the Lord puts an alternative, as Mr. Hewitt suggests; but other Scriptures clearly indicate that no such reform will occur, and that the "curse" or trouble will surely come. How refreshing it is to have the Lord's assurance that the coming trouble (in which the groaning creation will suffer and groan still more than ever) is but a preparation for their introduction to the long promised Millennial Kingdom blessings. How the Lord links the fire upon the tare-field with the speedy shining forth thereafter of the Sun of Righteousness to heal and bless all the families of the earth! (`Matt. 13:43`.) How this trouble, in which every man's hand shall be against his neighbor, is prophetically connected with the building of the great spiritual temple! --`Zech. 8:9,10`.
All faithful "Watchers" may well lift up their heads and rejoice in the evidences which abound on every hand corroborative of what the Scriptures so clearly show is to be expected now. These evidences portend the speedy finishing of the Gospel age "harvest," the binding of Satan, and the inauguration of the reign of righteousness. Let us be glad and rejoice and give glory to God while patiently waiting for the consummation of his plans, and seeking to become more and more copies of his dear Son and meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
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GOD'S BLESSING BRINGS RICHES.
"The blessing of Jehovah it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it."--`Prov. 10:22`.
HOW REASONABLE it seems that those who become God's friends, and especially those who are adopted into his family as children, should be blessed of him in multitudinous ways, in which others of mankind, who are aliens, strangers, and foreigners to him through wicked works (`Col. 1:21`), should not be blessed. We look back into the past and see father Adam, while in divine favor, very rich, --the possessor of the whole world, filled with bounties. We read of father Abraham, "the friend of God," very rich in cattle and goods; and Jacob, altho losing all inheritance in his father's estate, was blessed of the Lord, so that he became very rich in flocks and in herds. So Israel was promised that if as a nation they would be obedient to the Lord they should be blessed in all of their temporal affairs; their land would bring forth bountifully; they would not be afflicted with drought or pests; their flocks and herds should prosper and multiply exceedingly, and even their physical health was provided for, so that God guaranteed them that abiding in his favor as a people they should not be subject to pestilences, diseases, etc., for the Lord himself would be their physician to preserve to them health and every prosperity.
However, with the introduction of the new age, the Gospel age, came a great change--not in the divine
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plan, but in the divine dealings; and henceforth the favored of the Lord were not promised earthly blessings and good things, nor immunity from sickness and pain and persecution; but to the contrary of this, they were assured that whoever would be received into God's family on the high plane of sonship, begotten of the spirit, and, prospectively, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord, would be required to pass through experiences of suffering more than others; of trials of faith and of patience and of character to which others would not be subjected; and they were instructed that these adversities should be accepted by them as marks of divine favor, as evidences that God was dealing with them as with sons, and by these experiences fitting and preparing them for positions of honor, and untellable blessings in the future. (`Rom. 8:17`; `2 Tim. 2:12`; `Heb. 12:6-8`.) "Eye hath not seen, neither hath ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him; but God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit."-- `1 Cor. 2:9,10`.
In harmony with this change of dispensation, we find the New Testament declaration to be to the effect that those accepted to this high honor of sonship (`John 1:12`) should not expect earthly riches or temporal blessings or marks of divine favor, but that, quite to the contrary, the Apostle says, "Harken my beloved brethren: hath not God [as a rule] chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" (`James 2:5`.) And again he assures us that not many great, not many rich,* not many mighty, not many wise, according to the course of this world, are to be found amongst the called and sanctified sons of God. --`1 Cor. 1:26-29`.
From the foregoing Scriptures and many others we see, not only that those who become the Lord's sons are very rarely blessed with temporal riches, but we see also that the principle extends still further, and that very few who possess earthly riches in advance of hearing of the truth are very likely to attain the high calling of this Gospel age. This is not because God is opposed to riches, for he himself is rich above all others. It is rather, we might say, the outworking of a natural law or principle which has its force in the fact that all mankind, by reason of the fall, are selfish. The possession of wealth in combination with selfishness leads to a measure of satisfaction with present circumstances and conditions unfavorable to faith in God's heavenly promises. The wealthy, selfish, satisfied soul says to itself, Eat, drink and be merry; enjoy your advantages; take your pleasure out of these, rather than speculate respecting future advantages and future riches, which are intangible, and which must be accepted by faith. It is in harmony with this that our Lord declared, "How hardly [with what difficulty] shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!"--`Mark 10:23`.
By this term, the Kingdom of God, our Lord evidently did not refer to the earthly nominal church, for we are all aware that the rich men find very little difficulty in getting into it. Evidently he referred to the real Kingdom, the glorified Kingdom which shall be established in the end of this age, the Millennial Kingdom. It will be difficult for a rich man to obtain membership in this glorified body of Christ, to which the Kingdom work will be entrusted. But why is this so?
The reason is that God, desiring to select in this Gospel age a peculiar people to be the kings and priests and judges of the world in the next age, desires to select for the rulers and teachers only such as will come up to certain tests or requirements of character and obedience. One of these requirements is sacrifice --self-sacrifice--and hence all of this class now being selected are Scripturally designated a priesthood--"a royal priesthood," because royalty eventually is to be added to their office, partly as a reward for their faithfulness as priests in sacrificing the present life, and partly to enable them as priests in the future the better to serve and bless all the families of the earth.
The beginning of these terms or conditions of this age was with the great Head of the Church, our Lord Jesus--he must sacrifice ere he could be made the King, and have the power and authority to bless. His sacrifice, as is well known, was a comprehensive one; it began with the sacrifice of his riches, and ended with the sacrifice of his life. "He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might [eventually, in the Millennial Kingdom] be made rich." (`2 Cor. 8:9`.) His wealth, consisting of heavenly glory and, subsequently, of human talents, and every kind of good possessions, was all sacrificed, including even his reputation, so that the Apostle declares, "He made himself of no reputation." His will also was sacrificed,--the strongest individual thing that any being can possess; as he himself declared, he sought not his own will, but the will of the Father who sent him. His life, the most precious thing to any intelligent creature, was freely laid down, a sacrifice, a sin-offering, in harmony with the divine plan, on our behalf.--`Phil. 2:5-8`--Diaglott.
*Riches, while generally applied to money and physical comforts and opulence, may properly enough be applied to any valuable possession; as, for instance, one might be rich in talents of music or oratory or art; or he might be rich in mental endowment which would carry with it weight of influence amongst men.
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But all these sacrifices led, under divine providence and promise, to still greater riches, greater honors and greater powers, as the Apostle, after reciting how our Lord humbled himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, declares,--"Wherefore, [as a reward for this sacrifice] God hath highly exalted him, and hath given him a name that is above every name;" he has been exalted "far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named." He has been given a name more excellent than all others, that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. (`Phil. 2:9-11`.) It is by virtue of his sacrifice of riches and honors and will and life itself that our dear Redeemer is now the great and glorious Royal High Priest, with all power in heaven and in earth, which he soon will take to himself. (`Rev. 11:17`.) Soon he will exercise it in accomplishing the wonderful work which he already has begun, and which it is the Father's good pleasure that he shall complete; viz., of subduing all things, and bringing all sin and rebellion against divine authority into subjection, rescuing so many as desire to return to harmony with their Creator and his laws, and destroying with an everlasting destruction all who love and practise sin knowingly and wilfully.
These, our dear Redeemer's experiences, are set before believers as an example; and so many as desire during this Gospel age, and under its high calling, are permitted to become his followers, and to walk in his footsteps--to have fellowship in his sufferings, sharing in his sacrifice, that ultimately they may be sharers with him in the glorious rewards. As a matter of fact, none of these followers have anything of value to sacrifice. It cannot be said of them, as of their Redeemer, that they were rich and became poor; on the contrary, they are all poor as respects everything that could be considered true riches. Even their own righteousness was as filthy rags, which needed to be replaced with the imputed robe of the Savior's righteousness (justification), ere they could be invited to be his followers.
But while none called to the under-priesthood possess any real riches, each one possesses something of some value in his own estimation; some possess a little honor amongst men; some possess a little of this world's goods, bringing measurable comforts; some possess talents capable of exercise and development; each one possesses a will, more or less weak and imperfect; and each one possesses a little fragment of life which has not yet flickered out. The invitation to each would-be royal priest is, that being justified by faith through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, he should sacrifice his all, and thus be reckoned a joint-sacrificer with the great Redeemer, as having fellowship with him in his sufferings, that he might also share in his glory. (`Rom. 8:17`.) This is the particular feature of this Gospel age: it is the age of sacrifice and self-denial as respects all earthly blessings and privileges and advantages. And the object or hope inspiring to such sacrifices of present things is, that all such shall be made partakers of far greater riches of glory, honor, immortality and eternal life, in the Kingdom. Thus we have the key to the difference between God's dealings with his faithful ones in this present age, and his dealings with some of his faithful ones in a preceding age.
From this point of view earthly riches of every kind, opulence of money, of influence, of talent, should not be despised by the Lord's people, but, on the contrary, should be appreciated--not after the worldly manner of appreciation, for selfish interests and purposes, but because those who possess riches of any kind, have that much more than they otherwise would have to offer upon the Lord's altar as a sacrifice in his service, to glorify his name, to advance his truth, to bless his people. But the consecrated should keep ever in mind that this is the only value of any kind of riches to them: they are not to seek to keep these riches, but to seek opportunities for using them wisely,
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--spending them all to the very last farthing.
There are some who are rich in talents, and who could, if they would, turn those talents into the service of the Lord and the Truth; and they make a great mistake and lose a precious opportunity if they hold them for themselves in any selfish manner or degree. There are those who have more or less of the money talent, earthly riches, and they make a great mistake if they hoard these; for their only value as respects the Kingdom, its glories, its riches and its honors, is in using them, now. If they hold and hoard their earthly riches they are burying their talent, their opportunity, instead of using it; and such will demonstrate to themselves eventually the meaning of our Lord's words, "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye* than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom." (`Luke 18:25`.) He cannot get into the Kingdom at all except as he strips himself of his riches, --sacrifices them, devotes them to the Lord.
However, the stripping of oneself of riches, sacrificing riches, does not signify the reckless and wasteful disposition of them; rather, all riches of every kind should be considered consecrated to the Lord at the time their possessor consecrates himself and his all to God's service; and thenceforth those riches should be used, not as his own, but as the Lord's riches, the
*A small gate in the walls of ancient cities, for the convenience of belated travelers after sundown, after the main city gates were closed. These needle-eyes were so low that camels could enter them only upon their knees and after being stripped of their burdens.
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Lord's talents, to be used according to the steward's understanding of the divine will. But certainly no steward is faithful who hoards and accumulates to hand down selfishly to his own posterity. We are not here opposing a reasonable provision being made for the steward's household, as the Apostle enjoins (`1 Tim. 5:8`; `Rom. 12:17`), but we are opposing the thought that God has ever authorized his stewards to avoid using their stewardship, and to attempt to pass that stewardship onward at their death, to others.
This is one of the fallacies with which many deceive themselves, for, as the Scriptures declare, the natural mind (heart) is exceedingly deceitful and at times misleads the new creature, the new will, the new heart. (`Jer. 17:9`.) It is for this reason that God in his Word gives us in so many ways line upon line, precept upon precept, that we may know the terms of our calling, that they are terms of sacrifice and not of acquisitiveness as respects earthly things,-- that knowing this we may make our calling and our election sure by conformity thereto,--by becoming copies of God's dear Son, "who was rich [in every sense of the word, far beyond our comprehension], but who for our sakes became poor [sacrificing it all]."
The Apostle speaks of the deceitfulness of riches; and on every hand we may witness this deceitfulness: we see how often earthly wealth deceives and misleads and corrupts the reasoning powers, and turns aside the force of God's Word to those who possess it. We see the same in respect to the wealth of influence, how those who possess this wealth frequently deceive themselves, and hoard it, and refuse to sacrifice it for the truth, for the Lord, for his cause. We see the same deception operating powerfully in those who possess a wealth of talent in any direction; they feel like keeping all of it for self, and if not all, the larger and choicer parts; they are deceived into thinking this is the right course, notwithstanding the Scriptures so plainly declare that our privileges in connection with these is that of sacrifice. As a whole, then, we daily witness, as the Scriptures declare, that those who possess any kind of riches, wealth, talent or influence, are rarely amongst the sacrificers. We might almost say, Blessed are those who are poor in this world's goods, and in talents and in influence, for they having practically nothing to sacrifice to the Lord but their wills, find it easier to comply with the conditions, and we presume that the larger proportion of those who will through faith inherit the Kingdom will consequently be of this poor class, rich in faith only.--`Jas. 2:5`.
When we would see a noble example, like that of our Lord, who was rich in everything, and who gave all, we rejoice in it, and realize that as his sacrifice was so great his reward also is proportionately great. When we see the noble example of the Apostle Paul, who possessing some considerable wealth of ability, talent and influence, and possibly of financial means also, laid these all, a willing, a glad sacrifice, at the feet of the Lord, laying them all down with joy in God's service, in the service of the truth, in the service of the brethren, it causes our hearts to rejoice, and we feel sure that one so rich, and who spent his riches so faithfully, will be one to shine very brightly in the Kingdom, when it is set up and manifested. And so, undoubtedly, it will be with all the royal priesthood,--in proportion as they have sacrificed their possessions. Those who joyfully endure for the Lord's sake, the truth's sake, the greatest shame, the greatest ignominy, the greatest trials, the greatest persecutions in this present life, and thus have experiences most like those of the Master and Pattern, we may be sure will in proportion to their faithfulness manifested in such sacrifices, have a future great reward;--as the Apostle has declared, "star differeth from star in glory."--`1 Cor. 15:40-44`.
HEAVENLY VERSUS EARTHLY RICHES.
We have said that the heavenly riches are to be attained in the resurrection, when the Millennial Kingdom shall be inaugurated, and the faithful overcomers, by their resurrection change, shall be richly endowed with all the good things which God hath in reservation for them that love him, and who prove their love by present-time devotions, sacrifices, etc. But, we should notice that there is a foretaste of these heavenly blessings granted to the faithful in this present life; these heavenly riches granted us now the Apostle speaks of as "riches of grace" (`Eph. 1:7,18`), and these grace-riches include faith, hope, and joy in the holy spirit and an ability to see and appreciate with the eye of faith things actually not seen as yet. The Apostle declares that these treasures of wisdom and grace--knowledge of divine good things in reservation, and the fellowship with God which permits us to anticipate and enjoy those blessings in a measure now, are all hidden in Christ, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (`Col. 2:3`.) We must come into Christ, as members of his body, the true Church, by sacrifice,--before we can have the opportunity of even searching for these hidden treasures, or of finding any of them. And then, as we progress faithfully in our sacrificial service, as priests, walking in the footsteps of the great High Priest, we find more and more of these true "riches of grace" day by day, and year by year, as we progress.
Moreover, another kind of riches comes to the royal priesthood, faithful in performing their self-sacrifices.
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These are riches of the holy spirit. They find as they sacrifice the selfish interests, earthly aims, earthly projects, etc., in the service of the Lord and the Truth, that they grow more and more in likeness to their heavenly Father and to their Lord, and that the fruits of the holy spirit abound in them more and more--meekness, patience, gentleness, brotherly kindness, love.
Furthermore, they find a peace and a joy to which formerly they were strangers, and which the world can neither give nor take away. This peace and joy come through a realization that having given their all to the Lord, all of his exceeding great and precious promises belong to them. Now their faith can firmly grasp these promises as their own; they can realize that as their justification and call were not of themselves, but of the Lord, so all their course of sacrifice, in harmony with that call, is under divine supervision and care, and sure to work out blessings; and that to whatever extent they shall work out earthly hardships, trials and sufferings, God will proportionately make them to work out a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory in the Kingdom.--`2 Cor. 4:17`.
With this peace of God and confidence in his leading and care, they can apply to themselves the prophetic statement, "All the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord, and he [the righteous man] delighteth in his way." (`Psa. 37:23`.) They can delight in this way, be it ever so thorny and narrow and rugged, because of their confidence in God's love and wisdom, and that he who began a good work in them is thus completing it and blessing them with experiences which divine wisdom sees will be to their profit eventually. Thus the Lord's blessing is upon this class; and they realize indeed that, "The blessing of the Lord it maketh rich." How rich it makes their hearts in the present time--rich in noble sentiments, rich in faith, rich in love, rich in good works to all men as they have opportunity, especially toward the household of faith; and very rich in God's blessing and under his providential care, which, if rightly accepted, will ultimately make these members of the Royal Priesthood heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord, in an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them.--`1 Pet. 1:4`.
LAODICEA'S COUNTERFEIT RICHES.
We have been considering the true riches, present and future, provided for the true Israel, the Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven,
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and whose Head is Christ. But the Scriptures draw to our attention the fact that the nominal church of this present time, symbolical Laodicea (`Rev. 3:17,18`), claims also to be very rich. "Thou sayest, I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing." Alas! This seems to be the prevalent condition of nominal churchianity on every hand. Only the few in her who are Israelites indeed, and who have not yet heard and obeyed the voice speaking in this harvest-time, and saying, "Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues"--only these very few know of the true riches; the remainder are deceiving themselves with a counterfeit wealth. They look with pride upon their numbers, and count them by millions: they rejoice in this wealth of numbers, not realizing that nearly all are "tares," not begotten by the good Word of the Kingdom;--indeed very few of them know anything about the Kingdom at all, not being begotten of the Truth, but begotten of error.
Laodiceans look upon their material prosperity, and the numbers of wealthy people associated with their confederating denominations, and count their money and their donations by millions, and say, We are rich as never before. Alas! that they do not realize that these are earthly riches of the kind which our Lord declares are no evidence of his favor during this Gospel age, but rather to the contrary. And they see not the true riches which the Lord admires, and which are the foretaste of his favor and the coming Kingdom wealth.
And so the Lord declares to Laodicea, "Thou knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." She is poor, in that she has so little of the Master's spirit, so little of the Truth and the spirit of the Truth. The only riches which God can recognize are those which he promised to, and bestows upon his people in this present time. Laodicea is blind, in that the god of this world hath blinded her perceptions of God's character and plan and is leading her further and further away from confidence in his Word, under the guidance of her chosen and well-paid lords and masters, the clergy, who under the name of Higher Criticism and Evolution are rapidly taking away from her every good possession and thing which would be estimable in the sight of the Lord, and who are thus denuding her, making her naked, taking from her the robe of Christ's righteousness, and leading her to trust, not in the precious blood of the redemption, the death of the Redeemer, but to trust in an evolutionary process which needs no Savior, which denies an atonement for sin, yea, denies that there is, or has been any sin to make atonement for; and claims, on the contrary that humanity has ground for pride in its own progress, which will be quite sufficient eventually to bring to them every desired blessing, without any Savior and without his Kingdom, which God has
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promised as the hope of the groaning creation.-- `Rom. 8:19-23`.
Laodicea is indeed counseled to buy the true gold, the true riches of the Lord, and to use eye-salve that she may see, and to put on the garment of Christ's righteousness, that she may not be put to shame; but we have no intimation in the Scripture that she will give any heed to this counsel; on the contrary, the intimation is that more and more she will become a Babel of confusion, and that she will go down with the political and financial systems of this present age, in the great time of trouble with which this age will terminate, and which will fit and prepare mankind for the Kingdom of God's dear Son, and its reign of righteousness. "When the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."--`Isa. 26:9`.
Then, with the new Millennial age, will come a new order of things, and no longer will the blessing of the Lord entail sacrifice and self-denials, as at the present time; because the sacrificing priesthood will all have been found and proven and glorified. Then the blessing of the Lord will come, as to the Jews, in earthly favors and earthly blessings, in proportion as they shall be obedient to the laws of the Kingdom and to the spirit of those laws. "In that day the righteous shall flourish"--flourish in all temporal prosperity, and in mental, physical and moral growth, upward and still upward in the highway of holiness; in that day the evil-doer will receive the stripes, and be at the disadvantage; and, if he continue in evil-doing, ultimately he will be cut off from amongst the people, --in the Second Death.--`Isa. 35:8`; `Psa. 37:9`; `Acts 3:23`.
"Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches,--but in the living God who giveth us [all his people] all things [needful] to their rich enjoyment; that they do good; that they be rich in good works, liberal, ready to bestow; treasuring up for themselves a good preparation for the real life."--`1 Tim. 6:17-19`.
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PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS.
--`MATT. 25:1-13`.--FEB. 3.--
"Watch ye therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh."
OF DEEP and special interest to every consecrated believer this parable should surely be, referring, as it does, to the Lord's true people only-- the "virgin" or pure class--ignoring the worldly and hypocritical, and yet showing that amongst the true saints there are two classes, only one of which will enter the Kingdom and be the Bride, the Lamb's wife. Those who pin their faith to the creeds of "Christendom" find little light and comfort in this parable. Those creeds teach (contrary to the Scriptures) that death inducts the Church to heavenly joys, and all others into endless torment. No wonder those who believe those creeds seek to deny or at least to forget the Scriptural statement that there is "no other name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved." No wonder they seek in generosity of heart to extend God's favor, and heaven's protection from eternal misery, to hundreds of millions who have never heard of the only name, and consequently have never believed in Jesus unto justification, as well as to all except the most vicious of civilized lands. To such creed-deceived people this parable should give such a shock as would thoroughly awaken them to search for the truth in God's own Word. For to interpret this parable in harmony with their creeds would not only cut off for eternal woe all but the truly consecrated Christians, but would divide these "virgins" (pure ones) into two classes, only one of which attains the heavenly Kingdom, and joint-heirship with Christ as his Bride. All must see error in such a conception of the divine Word and plan, whether they have seen the truth on the subject or not.
For our interpretation of this parable, which we believe to be both Scriptural and reasonable, we refer our readers to MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III., page 91 and on.
The Golden Text should not be overlooked;--particularly because its real lesson is the very reverse of the interpretation usually given it. It is usually quoted and considered separate and apart from its context, and understood to mean, Watch; because no one will ever know anything respecting the second coming of Christ. How absurd it would be to tell us to watch for a thing, and in the same breath assure us that our watching would be useless because none would ever know!
But this verse taken in connection with the parable of the Virgins, as our Lord gave it, and meant it to be considered, means much of great interest and importance to God's people. It means that all of God's people should watch, because if watching faithfully they will know of his second coming--it will be distinctly announced--not to the world, ignorant of the Bridegroom and non-expectant of his second coming--but to all the "virgins" (the pure in heart, the truly consecrated, the Church). These alone (not the world) are called upon to watch and wait for the Lord from heaven, the Bridegroom. And the parable shows the necessity for this expectancy, watching, and readiness on the part of the consecrated;--that only such would be ready
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for, and share in the great blessing expected. The unready were too drowsy spiritually;--overcharged with the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches. This proved that they did not love the Lord enough, more than earthly interest, and hence did not sacrifice the latter for the spiritual interests; and surely in this they are foolish, and will so assert some day.
The parable belongs to our day. It is now in process of fulfilment; and it is but a kindness on the part of the "virgins" who are awake that they shake and otherwise attempt to arouse the sleeping "virgins" in time for them to get the oil in their vessels and make all needed preparations, and be among the wise before all the wise have gone in to the wedding and the "door" of opportunity is shut. This is the meaning of the exertions being put forth through the circulation of WATCH TOWER literature in every conceivable way.
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We seek to awaken the sleeping "Virgins." Some of them get awake and thank the Lord and his faithful, while others are merely angered by our kind endeavors and say all manner of evil against us falsely;--thus showing that they are not of the kind whom the Lord desires shall be members of "the Bride, the Lamb's wife."--`Rev. 19:7,8`.
The portion or future of the foolish virgins is not shown in the parable--except that they, not getting the proper supply of the "oil" in season to go in before the "door" to this joint-heir class closes, will not be admitted to it;--its number being limited, and by that time completed. Other Scriptures seem to show us that these foolish virgins will pass through the great time of trouble with which this age is just about to close; and that in it they will be chastened and tested and made fit for a good place in the Father's house; and that tho they will never be sharers of the Bride's portion they will be of "the virgins her companions that follow her."--`Psa. 45:14`; `Rev. 7:14-17`; `19:9`.
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"TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS SEVERAL ABILITY."
--`MATT. 25:14-30`.--FEB. 10.--
"So, then, everyone of us shall give an account of himself before God."--`Rom. 14:12`.
IT WAS ON the way from Jericho toward Jerusalem that our Lord gave the Parable of the Ten Pounds, delivered one each to ten servants. (`Luke 19:11,12`. See our issue of Dec. 1.) The Parable of the Talents which we are now considering is a different one in several particulars, tho bearing close resemblance to the other. It was part of our Lord's teaching to his disciples during the few days preceding his crucifixion, probably the Tuesday preceding it, on the evening journey from Jerusalem to Bethany. This parable illustrates to us the differing abilities of God's people in respect to his service, and how each is accountable according to his ability, and that the same results are neither required nor expected from all, but simply faithfulness by each in the use of that ability and opportunity which he possesses. The Revised Version notes the fact that the words, "the Kingdom of Heaven," in the opening verse, are not found in the ancient MSS., but this does not interfere with the thought that it is the Kingdom of Heaven in embryo (the Church) that is discussed, and that is likened to these servants who receive the talents; for this parable, it is to be remembered, followed immediately the Parable of the Ten Virgins, which is declared to be an illustration of the Kingdom. The Parable of the Talents, therefore, merely continues the thought respecting the Kingdom class, making these fresh observations respecting it. Altho a number of servants are implied, yet only a sample illustration of three is given, leaving it to be inferred that the others were more or less distinctly represented in these three, without attempting to show or to teach which of the classes would predominate. In this respect also this parable corresponds to the Parable of the Pounds. This parable was evidently, like the other, to prepare the minds of the apostles for our Lord's departure from the present life--to the "far country," heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God to present on behalf of mankind the sacrifice for sins which he was about to accomplish at Calvary; and incidentally to be crowned, highly exalted and honored far above angels, principalities and powers, at the right hand of divine favor, and there to remain till the appointed time for him to take possession of his Kingdom under the whole heavens, to subdue it and to bring it into full accord with the divine government, that God's will should be done on earth as it is done in heaven. The expression "far country," would give the thought of a considerable time to elapse between the Master's leaving and his return to establish his Millennial Kingdom. Meantime the apostles were to understand that they themselves were his servants to whom he entrusted his property, and that he would expect them to be faithful in guarding all of his interests and affairs, and promoting the same according to their several abilities. But since the parable covers the long period of eighteen hundred years, and looks down to certain servants living at the time of the Master's return, it is evident that it was intended to include, not the apostles only, but, as our Lord's prayer expressed the matter, "All those who shall believe on me through their word." We are to notice distinctly that the parable
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does not concern the world; nor do the decisions mentioned as taking place at the second coming of our Lord in any sense of the word represent decisions respecting the world, but merely decisions respecting the Church. Nor are we even to understand that the parable includes the general "household of faith;" but simply and only the specially consecrated servants of the Lord, to whom he has committed certain responsibilities; viz., those only who have been begotten of the holy spirit. In the early Church, following the Pentecostal outpouring of the holy spirit, every consecrated believer received a gift or talent, and some received many of these, as the Apostle says: "The manifestation of the spirit [a portion, at least one talent] is given to every man [in this consecrated Church] to profit withal." Each had a responsibility in proportion as he had talents or gifts of the spirit, and hence the Apostle Paul, having more than the others, had a greater responsibility because he had greater opportunities; and we judge that he measured up to these responsibilities in a manner most acceptable to the Master. (`1 Cor. 14:18`.) But those gifts must have ceased within a short time after the death of the Apostles, because we most clearly find that the gifts of the spirit were imparted to believers only through the laying on of hands of the apostles --that they did not come supernaturally from God to every individual,--and that those who possessed the gifts themselves, except the apostles, could not communicate them to others.--`Acts 8:12-20`. The object of those gifts, as we have already seen, was the establishment of the early Church, but with its establishment their necessity ceased, and hence the gifts ceased in that form, and have since continued with the Lord's people in a very different form; that is to say, since then the natural gifts or talents which each person possesses through birth, education and training are reckoned, when he is consecrated to the Lord and accepted by him, as being owned or possessed by the man's new or holy spirit, and hence are reckoned as talents or abilities committed to his care, and for the use of which he will be held responsible in the outcome. If he remained one of the world he would have other responsibilities, but no such as are implied in this lesson, which represents only the responsibilities of the consecrated servants in the use of their Master's spiritual goods. We may safely say that there are comparatively few five-talent servants amongst the Lord's people: the majority of the saints may safely be considered as being of the one- and two-talent classes. There are not many five-talent people in the world anyway, and it would appear that the world, the flesh and the devil bid so high for the services of these few that the number of them to become the Lord's servants, and to make consecration of their five talents fully and exclusively to his service, is comparatively small--"not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble." The parable shows that five-talent people amongst the Lord's servants are not to measure themselves with others and to say, I have done enough; certainly more than A., who has one talent, but as much as B., who has two talents. Rather, each disciple is to seek to know truthfully just what talents of natural ability and opportunity the Master has committed to his care, and to seek to use everyone of these as fully, as thoroughly and as constantly as possible, so that the results may be much fruit, much praise, much service, much honor to the Lord. And as this parable should be a check upon those servants who have five talents, to hinder them from taking a slothful view of the matter so it should also be an encouragement to those having fewer talents of ability and opportunity, showing them that the Lord will not expect as great things from them as he would expect from those having greater opportunities and greater natural talents. It teaches such that they should do with their might what their hands find to do, and realize that this reasonable service is what the Lord expects and what he proposed to reward in each. The servant who had only one talent of ability and opportunity should have felt equally his responsibility, and might equally have had the Master's approval had he been faithful, in which event, no doubt, his one talent would have increased to two. Our Lord's arrangement of the parable, that the person who received the one talent was the one who digged in the earth and buried it, should not be understood to mean that the one-talented people are more likely than others of the Lord's servants with more talents to thus neglect and misuse them. So far as observation teaches, we might conclude that proportionately
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as many of the two-talented and five-talented dig in the earth and hide their talents, as of those who possess only one; and of course their so doing would be proportionately more blameworthy than that of the one-talented man. Why, then, is the one-talented man chosen as an illustration of these talent-burials? We answer, that it is to show the responsibility of those who have least--that the Lord expects even the least of his consecrated people to know of, and to use the talents he has in his possession, and that he will not hold guiltless even those who have the smallest ability to serve him and his brethren and his truth and who neglect to use it. As the responsibilities accompanying a larger number of talents would be greater, so the losses in their case would be greater, and thus the punishment more severe. "After a long time the lord of those servants cometh and reckoneth with them." By these words our
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Lord gave to the disciples as clear an intimation as was proper of the fact that they were not to expect him to return and reckon with them in a very few days, a few months or a few years; but when they subsequently asked him respecting the particular time, he refused them, saying that it was not for them to know the times and the seasons, which the Father had put in his own power. And so for eighteen hundred years the Lord's people have been left without clear information on this subject. This, however, does not militate against the thought that it is the privilege of God's people now to know something of the times and seasons, because the due time has come in which the Father wishes to communicate these;--the time mentioned through the Prophet Daniel, when the [truly] wise shall understand, as we saw in the preceding lesson.--`Dan. 12:10`; `1 Thess. 5:4`; `John 16:13`. There is no intimation in the parable that the disciples would die and go to their Lord, and be reckoned with and rewarded then, as many believe to have been the case. The Scriptures are harmonious and consistent with themselves in their teachings, and not only declare that "David is not ascended into the heavens," and that "no man hath ascended up to heaven" save Jesus, but they declare also that our Lord will come a second time, to receive his people unto himself and to then reward them. The Apostle Paul, who was one of these five-talented servants, declares respecting himself, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me [in reservation, in waiting] a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me in that day, and not to me only, but also unto all them that love his appearing."--`2 Tim. 4:7,8`; `John 3:13`; `14:3`; `Acts 2:34`. To our understanding we are now living in "the days of the Son of Man," and he is now reckoning with his servants in this the day of his revelation. We understand, according to the Scriptures, by faith and not by sight, that the reckoning was to begin with those servants who had fallen asleep, and that "we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord" should not prevent or hinder them, nor take precedence to them in this matter of being reckoned with and rewarded. (`1 Thess. 4:15-17`.) To our understanding, as already shown in the MILLENNIAL DAWN series, 1878 marked the date for our Lord's assumption of Kingly authority and his judgment upon Babylon the Great, characterizing her as "fallen," and calling for all the people of God to come out of her: and that it marked also the date for the faithful overcomers of the past to have a share in the first resurrection--to enter into the joys of their Lord, and hear his words, "Well done, good and faithful servants." In harmony with this, it is our understanding that all of this class are now enjoying the glory, honor and immortality promised to the faithful. This work of judging the servants is totally distinct from the judging of the world--the world's judgment is very different everyway, and is to take place during the Millennial age, and is represented in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, the scene of which is located "when the Son of Man shall sit upon the throne of his glory," at which time the faithful servants of the present age, whose trial is now in progress, and whose reckoning and rewards are shown in the parable of the lesson, will sit with the Lord in his throne as he has promised.--`Rev. 3:21`. As other Scriptures show, "we who are alive and remain unto the presence of the Lord" will not be omitted from the company of the glorified, altho our being alive will not give us precedence to them. The inspection and rewarding of the Lord's servants having begun in 1878 as respects those that had fallen asleep, is since progressing in respect to those who remain: these are granted a reasonable time in which to finish up their contract of full consecration,--to become ripe "wheat"--and to render up their accounts. Each of the elect now, as he finishes his course, reports immediately, and does not need to "sleep" in death, to wait for the coming of the King, but is immediately, in the moment of death, changed, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," experiencing fully and instantly the first resurrection blessing of glory, honor and immortality --in the moment of death. Realizing from this view of the parable that the Lord's people of today are represented in it, it is for each one of the consecrated (while yet it is called day --before the night cometh) to make a full and thorough inspection of himself: and to determine to what extent he has talents, abilities, privileges, opportunities, to serve the Lord, and to what extent he is using these; and to remember that his share in the reward depends upon his faithfulness in the use of his talents. There may be instances in which persons of five talents will use three of them faithfully in the Lord's service, and bury the other two in business and cares of this life-- "in the earth," in earthly affairs. There may be instances in which those who have two talents use one for the Lord's service and bury the other one; but the fact that our Lord does not give such illustrations would lead us to question the probability of such a course. Some might plan certain things respecting two talents for heavenly things and three for earthly things; or of one for earthly things and the other for heavenly things; but the result probably would be either that he would become thoroughly immersed in the earthly things, and bury all his talents there, or else that his heart would become so thoroughly infused with the Lord's spirit
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and the desire to serve his cause that all of his talents would be thus employed. This tendency and result is implied by our Lord's statement on another occasion: "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." "No man can serve two masters." Experience and observation corroborate this; and hence as a rule we find that people are either cold or hot in spiritual things; either it is the Kingdom of heaven first and far above all other considerations, demanding and receiving the very best we have of time, energy and influence; or else the Kingdom of heaven is neglected and forgotten, and time and influence are spent in money-getting or other selfish and earthly occupations of mind and body. The lesson of this to every one of the Lord's consecrated people is plain: we are to "seek first [chiefly] the Kingdom of God." It is to be our chief concern and to receive from us all the time, attention, thought, energy, influence and means we have--the things needful for the present life being understood to be excepted; and our love and zeal will be manifested by the proportion of these even, which we are willing to sacrifice in the interest of heavenly things. The reward given to the faithful servants was the same in each case--the entering into the joys of the Lord; and we may reasonably understand that this will mean that the cup of joy to each will be full. In this, too, we have a great encouragement for all, and one which perhaps is specially needed by the majority of the Lord's servants, who possess only one or two talents of opportunity, etc. They have an equally good opportunity of entering into the joys of the Lord as tho they had five or ten talents; and the reward, "Well done, good and faithful servant," will be truly meant for, and as fully appreciated by the one as the other. The reward to these servants is in full harmony with the foregoing application of the parable, and shows that during the Millennial age the faithful servants, the "elect" of this Gospel age, will be the rulers of the world, "joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord" in his Kingdom, and upon his throne of rulership; for the reward specifies, "Thou has been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things." If the parable were intended to represent the world's judgment, such a conclusion would be inappropriate, because by the time the world's judgment will have ended there will no longer be necessity for rulership in this sense; for, as the Apostle declares, Christ shall reign [during the Millennium] until he shall have put down all authority, etc., and then he shall deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father. The rule, or reign of righteousness, the Mediatorial Kingdom, is to be established during the Millennial age,--thus to overthrow the rule of unrighteousness now prevailing amongst men, and to lift mankind in general out of the present condition of sin and death--to deliver as many of them as will accept the deliverance from the power of Satan into the liberty of sons of God. And with the accomplishment of this work the time for all such ruling will be at an end; hence this parable is a strong lesson in support of the pre-millennial coming of our Lord and exaltation of his faithful, the elect Church.
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The servant who hid his talent in the earth, and who failed to use it, endeavored to justify his course by blaming the Master with being too hard and exacting. And so it is with many, who, having taken upon themselves the vows of consecration to the Lord, subsequently fail to perform them. They are disposed to blame the Lord rather than to blame themselves; and this course indicates what their real lack is,--Love. They do not love the Lord fully, truly, sufficiently, and their course reveals this fact. Had they loved him they would have delighted to do to their ability his will; and only such are blessed with rewards. The punishment of those who failed to perform their covenant as servants, who failed to use the talents provided for them under this covenant, is shown to be great loss;--but not the loss which many suppose, whose minds are blinded by the theory that eternal torment is the wages for sin, and that it is visited upon all except the "overcomers" of this Gospel age. Such claim that the unfaithful servant would be delivered over to Satan and be tortured in flaming fire, and so blind are many of the advocates of this theory that they read all this into our Lord's statement in this very parable; but instead of mentioning flames of fire, which would surely make the place light, our Lord mentions darkness as his portion--"outer darkness." Neither does our Lord mention the demon-tormentors, generally believed in. We offer another and much more reasonable, much more consistent, interpretation of our Lord's words. The servant who fails to use present privileges of consecration and service and sacrifice will find the opportunity taken from him. He will have it no more; neither will he have any share in the reward given to the overcomers;--he will suffer this great loss. He is represented as going into "outer darkness," implying that he had already been in the light of divine favor, blessing, privilege, knowledge of divine things;--that he would lose this enlightenment, and that his understanding would become darkened as respects spiritual things. It is "outer darkness," because it is the darkness common to and resting upon the whole world of mankind;--only the consecrated, accepted of the Lord, being permitted to come fully into the clear light of the knowledge of the Lord and of his plan now shining. Any others than these, upon whom this light may temporarily fall, have it only in a secondary sense, at very most, and see not the glorious things themselves, but merely, so to speak, their reflections. The unfaithful
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servant is to be cast completely out of all favor; even the reflected light will be obscured from his vision, and he will find himself, now or shortly, in the darkness of the world as respects the divine plan, work, etc. And there he will share with the world in its great time of trouble with which this age is about to close, a time of trouble which is fittingly pictured in the parable by the weeping and gnashing of teeth.
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INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
Question.--Is it so that children are not amenable to the high calling, and that consequently they should be let go, without special religious instruction--into the nominal church Sunday Schools, etc.?
Answer.--Only believers have ever been amenable to the high calling of joint-heirship with Christ, and to suffering with him. The innocency of childhood is in the Scriptures set forth as a beautiful picture, and one that is to be emulated by all of the Lord's people in spiritual matters--they are to be children as respects malice; they are to be simple in their faith and love, not given to duplicity, misrepresentation, deep scheming, etc. In this sense of the word the Lord assures us that we must all become as little children, else we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But to be as a little child in these respects, and to be a little child, are two different matters. The Lord did not accept any of the infants of Palestine to be his disciples, nor has he called infants to be his disciples since.
However, the age at which an intelligent faith in the Lord might be exercised and the time, therefore, at which, after the exercise of that faith, a covenant of full consecration to the Lord's service could be intelligently entered into, must vary with the individuality of the children. We have known some that we considered quite competent both to believe and to consecrate at as early an age as fourteen, and all we should ask of any would be an evidence of their faith and an evidence of appreciation of consecration.
We have a duty to our children, even tho they be too young to appreciate matters for themselves. They are our children, and under our care, and for us to deliberately lead their young feet into the snares of the Adversary, and to assist in entangling them in sectarianism, when we know how much evil it has done us, would be a crime on our part against them and against the truth. Every parent should recognize himself as having incurred grave responsibilities toward his children, not only for their temporal necessities, but equally for their mental and moral training; and the parents who are most faithful in the discharge of this God-appointed responsibility are sure to be the ones who are running the race themselves most successfully: for they will find that every effort to make clear the divine plan to the child will bring clearness and force to the parent's mind, and every attempt to inculcate the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of truth, will be sure to bring with it a blessing, not only upon the heart of the child, but upon the heart of the parent. And years will show that the faithful parents will have reward through their children, of joy and peace and comfort, while those parents who neglect their children, or who trust them to those who are likely to mislead them in spiritual things, are pretty sure eventually to reap according as they have sown--poor or meager results.
Question.--Would it be proper for us after withdrawing from a church to return to it and commune with it?
Answer.--There is no law to hinder the Christian from going anywhere he believes the Lord would have him go, and where he believes he can get and do good and serve the truth, and feed the Lord's flock, and use his influence to the Lord's praise. If therefore you feel that your visiting the church from which you have withdrawn would have the above beneficial results, and if you would be made welcome by the said church, we see no reason why you might not, as occasion would offer, attend such church.
However, on the other hand there is something to be said. Are you sure that your going would either do good or bring good? Are you sure that your influence would be favorable to the truth, if invested in that manner? Or would it be unfavorable to the truth and favorable to error? Are you sure that your attendance would furnish you any opportunities for speaking the truth and serving it to fellow-members of the household of faith? These are questions which each of the Lord's people must decide for himself. We think that as a general rule denominational lines are so closely drawn that there is no opportunity inside of them for bringing the truth clearly and fearlessly before the attention of the attendants.
Respecting the taking of communion: It would seem to us that to do this regularly would certainly be unwise and prejudicial to the truth, because it would be favoring what we think is not Scriptural. And yet if by accident we happened to be with Christian people when they partook of the communion we would not feel condemned by our conscience in celebrating the Lord's death with them, explaining subsequently to our acquaintances what we considered to be the Scriptural truth on this subject. But in visiting a nominal church we should, if possible, avoid visiting on the Sunday when they erroneously celebrate the Lord's death out of its memorial season.
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SIN AND SICKNESS.
It is frequently asserted by some of the faith-healers of the present day that personal sin is the cause of all personal sickness, and that if persons who are sick will repent and be saved from their sins they may expect to be also saved from their sickness and diseases; the one only condition being that they shall believe that the Lord does heal them in answer to prayer.
The proposition may be true that sin is the general cause of sickness, or, rather, that sickness is a consequence of sin, in the sense that had not Adam sinned death would not have entered into the world, neither sickness as an antecedent of death; yet to hold that the sickness of the individual is the consequence or result of the sin of the individual in every instance, and that salvation from sin necessarily carries with it, on the exercise of the requisite faith, the healing of the body, is a doctrine fraught with error and evil; bringing those who come under its influence into great mental trouble because they cannot exercise the necessary faith for healing, and they therefore count themselves
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base unbelievers, when they may be exercising all the faith that is required of them, and should `rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory,' because they are receiving the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.--`1 Pet. 1:8,9`.
It will, therefore, be a desirable thing to disprove this unwholesome doctrine, and, in order to do so, it will be only necessary to show that the Lord Jesus Christ was sick, for he "did no sin" (`1 Pet. 2:22`), "and in him is no sin" (`1 John 3:5`), and he could boldly ask, while he walked the earth, "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" (`John 8:46`), and, therefore, personal sin could not have been the cause of sickness in him, as it was not in the case of the man born blind, and may not be in a thousand other instances.
Jesus was a very sick man in the garden of Gethsemane. Luke, who was a physician, tells us that, being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was, as it were, great drops (thromboiclots) of blood falling down to the ground. This sickness with which Jesus suffered was diapedesis, a sickness not very common, and yet frequent enough to receive note and attention in the medical works and the cyclopedias. In McClintock and Strong's great work we have several instances given, under the phrase, "bloody sweat," especially that of Charles IX. of France, and allusion is made to Dr. Stroud's book on "The Physical Cause of the Death of Christ," where the matter is scientifically treated....
No one can read the `fifty-third chapter of Isaiah`, in the original, without being fully convinced that (the chapter containing a prophecy of Christ) it is intended to present him as one suffering from sickness. In the `third verse` we have the words, "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Here the Hebrew word for sorrows is "makaboth," and means pains, while the word for grief is "choli," and is from the verb "chalah," which means to be sick, weak, diseased. This word "choli" is the word used when the sickness of Hezekiah is spoken of; also when it is said, "Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died (`2 Kings 13:14`), and in numerous other instances of bodily sickness. The same word is used in the `fourth verse`, when it is said, "Surely he hath carried our griefs." In `Matthew 8:17` this word is translated in the Greek asthencias, "infirmities" in our version, but it is the word that is used in the singular when the sickness of Lazarus is spoken of (`John 11:4`), and as a verb in various other instances of unquestionable bodily illness. Again, in the `tenth verse`, "he hath put him to grief," where the reading in the Hebrew is, "he hath made him sick," as in the margin of the Revised Version.
Thus the proof from the Scriptures is ample that Jesus Christ was sick, and so able to sympathize with us in our sicknesses and "infirmities" (`Heb. 4:15`); being without sin, personal sin could not have been the cause of his illness, and, therefore, may not be of ours.
W. S. URMY, Pastor of Potrero M.E. Church, California.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Your recent favor was received yesterday. Please accept my most heartfelt thanks for your clear and detailed explanation of the 1881 matter. Altho I felt this to be your understanding of the matter, yet several in the meeting have been greatly exercised with respect to the question. These I now rejoice to be able to comfort and encourage more positively than I could before receiving your letter. I trust I am not taking up your valuable time unnecessarily with my little questions. I felt a little guilty after reading your comment on the numerous conventions held during the past year, fearing that my correspondence may have helped to retard the sixth volume of DAWN. I most sincerely trust such has not been the case.
I visited Brother and Sister Davis at __________, Cal., last week, and they asked me to call your attention to a statement on page 16, VOL. V., where you classify the Quakers with Unitarians, which they fear will cause prejudice among the Friends denomination. They fully understand your reason for this statement, knowing that the Friends you meet in Pennsylvania are of that belief; but they are only about one-tenth of the denomination. I send by same mail a "Discipline" of Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends, from which you can judge of their position with respect to our Lord Jesus (page 30), and I am free to confess that I have for years held the same view with yourself, having come in contact with what I supposed were representative Friends, but who I now see were "Hicksite" and "Wilburite" Quakers, and representing the "Philadelphia Yearly Meeting," one not recognized by the other Yearly Meetings as sound in the doctrines of the "Friends." I felt sure you would like to know this, for in view of the statement appearing so early in the volume, readers might feel that you had either misrepresented the matter or were misinformed, and therefore they would lack confidence in the author and not desire to pursue the
study further. Bro. Davis may write you on the subject too. I feel so jealous for the Truth, that I cannot bear to have any error, however slight or unimportant apparently, go without correction. If I may suggest, I think a foot-note in future copies, or a little slip pasted in the present edition to the effect that you referred to a certain branch of the Friends denomination in your classification, would serve to counteract any erroneous impression. Dear brother, please do not think I am desirous of giving orders to you in any matter. I feel that situated as you are, and with your mind so free from the suspicions and evil surmisings of people in general, even professing Christians, you might possibly not see these matters in the light we do who come in contact with them.
I enclose a copy of a publication which truly seems a device of the Adversary, written as it is by a person of your name, and on the subjects especially treated by you, but from so opposite a standpoint. Nevertheless "no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper," and the true sheep will not follow the "voice of a stranger." Only it makes my heart sad to see such things scattered broadcast to further deceive and delude any who may be "feeling after God."
I wish especially to thank you for the article in the TOWER on "The Song of Moses and the Lamb." Ever since I came into the knowledge of present truth I have felt that I would really be satisfied even to go into the grave never to be resurrected if only I might live long enough to see the character of Jehovah vindicated, his infinite wisdom, justice, love and power made known to all the world of mankind. How true it is that we alone of all the people of the earth are able to sing this glorious song of Moses and the Lamb! And my heart longs for that blessed time when "the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea." If God has been willing to wait six thousand years for his true character to be made manifest, should not we be able to wait a few brief years to have our motives and lives, now so sadly misunderstood, cleared of every misconception? I have recently been reading the Bible through, the first time since I began to study present truth, and great was my delight at the marvelous harmony of every passage with the Divine Plan. Scriptures once as unintelligible as if written in Sanscrit now flame with light and truth and meaning! Oh, how can I ever praise my Heavenly Father for all his mercies to me! I am overwhelmed with the feeling of my utter unworthiness to have been called "out of darkness into his marvelous light!" Pray for me, dear brother, that I may be faithful to my calling and a more worthy ambassador for Christ Jesus, "approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth;" and more than that, one who not only hears and knows the Master's will, but also obeys it. I desire especially to be more humble, more like our Beloved, who had no will but that of his Father, for I realize more fully day by day that "this is the will of God (concerning me) even my sanctification," my complete submission to him in all things, if I would be with him and "see him as he is."
With much Christian love to yourself, and all the other faithful ones in the TOWER office, I remain,
Yours in the love and service of our King,
G. W. SEIBERT,--California.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have long desired to write to you to tell you as best I can how happy I am since I have learned of the true Gospel of Christ. I hesitated about writing for I felt that perhaps I ought not to intrude on your time, even for the few minutes that you will take to read these few lines, but I was assured by the dear brothers and sisters here in Boston that it would be all right, so I write these few lines to you at this time. I thank God, through his beloved Son every day for the true Gospel which has been revealed through the MILLENNIAL DAWN books, and I want to thank you, as the instrument in God's hands, for writing those books. I cannot tell you what they are to me, but when we "see face to face" you will know. I often wonder why his truth was made known to me, who am the least of all his children, as it seems to me, and while I realize that it increases my responsibility, yet that is not to be compared with the blessed privilege of knowing the true plan of God.
I am a constant TOWER reader, though you will not find my name on the list of subscribers, for the reason that I am blind and cannot therefore read for myself, and I feel that I ought not to have the TOWERS sent to me and be able to make no use of them. They are far too precious for that. I have had three volumes of DAWN read to me, and am now having the fourth and fifth read. I have sent to Scotland to have the first volume copies in embossed type for my use. I have often wondered if there are any more blind people who know the true gospel. Do you know of any?
Enclosed you will find a small Money Order which perhaps will help to send TOWERS or books to some of the Lord's poor. Yours faithfully,
F. B. GOULD,--Massachusetts.
MR. CHARLES T. RUSSELL,
DEAR SIR:--Some one kindly sent me a copy of your paper of March 15 and April 1, 1900, the contents of which I have just read with more than ordinary interest, the matter of which is entirely new to me,--a revelation. Will you kindly supply me with some tracts that I may more fully know whereof you speak. I am truly interested. A great deal of the contents of the paper now before me I read to another professional gentleman, Dr. J. H. Jenkins, whose office is on the same floor with mine. He too is interested.
Yours truly, W. H. WOODSON,--Missouri.
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DEAR BROTHER IN JESUS CHRIST:--Your divine theology is certainly a helping hand to me. I hope, dear sir, that you will let me have many tracts and ZION'S WATCH TOWER for my religious education. I do certainly believe that the "little flock" will be an instrument by whom all the families of earth will be blessed; because all the churches are in a very poor situation and the world in great desolation [distress]. May God give me opportunity to know more about your divine mission. Come to my help and let me take the water abundantly in your publications. I am, dear sir, with much gratitude
Very truly yours,
J. R. VILATTE, Archbishop of the
Orthodox Catholic Church,