VOL. XX. DECEMBER 1, 1899. No. 23.
Views From the Watch Tower........................259
Cold Comfort for Evolutionists, et al.........259
A Minister's Presentiments....................261
An Astounding Proposition.....................261
Papacy's Demands in Spain.....................262
Poem: Walking in the Narrow Way...................263
Questions and Answers: Borrowing..................263
and Lending--Man's Free Agency
Meteoric Showers--The Study of
"God Loveth a Cheerful Giver".....................265
Right and Wrong Conditions and
Resisting Worldly Influences......................272
Items: Z.W.T. Visits during 1900--
The Attached Bible Price List, etc............258
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
COLD COMFORT FOR EVOLUTIONISTS AND
PROF. A. H. SAYCE, one of the greatest living archaeological explorers and professors of Assyriology in Oxford University, England, after thirty years spent in deciphering the ancient hieroglyphics of eastern lands, recently declared:--
"Higher Criticism is wrong. The higher critics of the Bible are engaged in hair-splitting trivialities and are pursuing false methods. Our researches among the monuments of Babylon, Assyria and Egypt have opened up a new world undreamed of a few years ago. They show that the history of mankind goes back to a very remote past; and that civilization was then quite as high as that of imperial Rome or the civilization of Europe at the time of the Renaissance, if not higher in some respects.
"They have also shown how much there is still to be discovered. After all, what we have found is only the beginning of what we shall find. It is no longer possible to say, as in the early days of oriental research, that such and such a thing could not have been. The population of the early East was highly cultured and highly literary. Both in Egypt and in Babylon a large portion of the people seem to have occupied their time in reading and writing.
"The monuments that have been found in Egypt
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and Babylonia have revealed this fact in part. These are literally covered with writing. Even the smallest articles of daily use have been found covered with inscriptions. The revelations are also partly due to the discoveries that the old cities of the East had very large libraries of books. And some discoveries made a few years ago at Tel-el-Amarna, in Egypt--where a large number of letters on clay tablets were found-- proved that in the fifteenth century before the Christian era the whole educated population of the East from the Euphrates to the Nile were engaged in writing letters to one another. This correspondence was going on actively in a language and form of writing which belonged only to the Babylonians. Those, therefore, who wrote in this language must have studied and learned it as we do French. Hence there must have been schools in which the language and script of Babylonia were studied all over western Asia.
"Not long since a discovery was made in the extreme south of Egypt showing that papyrus books were written in the very early days of Egyptian history. As regards the Babylonian libraries, they were equally ancient and very numerous. Every great library had its clay books. Some time ago at a place called Tello, in South Chaldea, a French excavator discovered a library which was formed three or four centuries before the birth of Abraham, and which he concludes had contained 33,000 separate clay tablets or books on all kinds of subjects. He found them arranged in shelves, piled one upon another. They had probably been overwhelmed by the fall of the building in which they were placed. Many of these clay tablets are now in Constantinople. About 10,000 were stolen by the Arabs. The tablets are mostly written in Accadian, a language which is still imperfectly known."
* * *
Amongst the papyri found recently in Egypt and mentioned in our View for Nov. 15th were others quite interesting. One was--An Ode of Welcome to Usertesen III., written probably on the occasion of a royal visit. It has six stanzas of ten lines each and is pronounced by scientists "the oldest known poem in the world." They forget the Bible again, for the Book of Job is of about the same age and conceded to be a masterly poetic production.
Veterinary surgery is treated in a good sized volume, and we are told "the cures are very practical and similar to those used in the present day." But legal documents and private papers are amongst the most interesting, evidencing surely that if (as Evolutionists claim) the first man was but one remove from a monkey, he got civilized very quickly, and that so far
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as the Egyptians are concerned, very little evoluting has been done for the past 3700 years. We quote a few extracts from these interesting documents from the London Daily News of Sept. 29th, '99,--supplied to it by Mr. F. L. Griffith,--as follows:--
"The wills and conveyances are certainly the earliest examples of legal documents known, and afford ample proof of the antiquity of the laws of ancient Egypt. The first is a curious transfer of the apparently hereditary office of 'regulator of priestly orders' from father to son.
"'I am giving up my regulatorship of priestly orders to my son Antef, called Jusenb, an old man's staff (assistant); even as I grow old let him be promoted at once. As to the title to property I made for his mother it is annulled.'
"Like all Egyptian documents, it concludes with 'name list of those in whose presence this title to property was made,' and the date is the 19th day of Khoiak, in the 39th year of Amen-em-hat III., or about B.C. 2588.* The next papyrus is even of greater interest. It measures twenty-two inches by twelve and a half, and has been folded up and sealed with a scarab seal, and is inscribed with two wills. The first is a deed of gift by a man named Ankh-ren, servant of the superintendent of works, to his brother, of all his property in 'town and marsh land, his servants,' etc. It is stated a list of the property is deposited in the office of the 'second registrar.' The second will is that of the brother, named Uah, who bequeaths all to his wife, Teta. Considering its great age, it is really a very remarkable document. The writer says:
"'I am making a title to the property to my wife--of all things given to me by my brother, the devoted servant of the superintendent of works, Ankh-ren, as to each article. She shall give it to any she desires of the children that she has borne me. I am giving her the four Eastern (Syrian) slaves that my brother gave me. She shall give them to whomsoever she will of her children. As to my tomb, let me be buried in it with my wife. Moreover as to the apartments my brother built for me, my wife shall dwell therein without allowing her to be put forth by any person. The deputy Gebu shall act as guardian for my son.'
"The word used for guardian is curious, 'child instructor.' To the deed are appended the names of several official witnesses. Among the officials we find the name of 'the scribe of the hearing,' in whom we may see the official shorthand writer who wrote out the draft of proceedings.
"Very curious are the private letters, a number of which were found. These letters, probably the oldest in the world, are in various handwritings, in the hieratic character, and resemble in style the Early English letters. The writing is across the longest width, the papyrus is then folded three times from the side, and sealed or tied, and the address written on the outside, for example: 'The master to whom be Life. Health Sakanu to whom be L.P.H., from Arisu, Year 2, 4th Month of Harvest, 12th day. Brought by Henat.' Like all Oriental letters, these ancient epistles are redolent with platitudes and flowery language, the pious phrase, 'Life, Prosperity and Health,' being constantly repeated. The less the importance of the letter the more flowery the language. Most of the letters are from officials, and relate to the public works being carried on. The following is a good example:
"'The servant of the wakf Arisu saith to the superintendent of the interior, Sa-ka-anu, to whom be life, health, and prosperity. This is a communication to the Master L.P.H., saying that I arrived in the city of Het-Gehes on the 4th Month of Harvest (July) on the early morning of the 5th day. I found that the Master had gone South. The foreman Ampy told me, and I gave him three laborers. Thereupon I sent to the foreman Henai, in a ship that I found at Het-Gahes. I caused him to bring thee a freight.'
"The freight consisted of barley and durra, etc. Near the end of the letter is an interesting passage showing how the Egyptian officials worked together:
"'Behold I have sent particulars of thy business to the Steward Hetu, for thou must be with him as one man (friends).'
"There is also a letter from a lady which relates chiefly to the weaving carried on in the temple.
"The letters are not always so polite, and a fine specimen of strong language is afforded by the following:--
"'May thy speech be in all ill favor by Sebek (crocodile god), and whoever will send thee to perdition--favored be his Ka (spirit). Thus hath the dean of the temple, He Kat-Pepa, done for thee, continually for ever and ever, eternally. Ill be thy hoaring and a plague (on thee).'
"The reports and account tablets are wearisome in bulk, but abound in details of the greatest value to the historian and archaeologist. The whole system of the corvee is set forth in detail. The men were called from certain villages and towns, hence the gangs contain several members of the same family, to work for two months. The gangs numbered usually ten, and each had a master, a ganger, and a timekeeper or scribe. They were lodged in sections in the town and fed from a common store. Some idea of the number of men and the work of the commissariat is afforded by the return for one day's baking of eighteen hundred and ninety loaves. An interesting account is that of the dancers employed in the temple in the great festivals. Many of them were Syrians and Nubians. The list of festivals is very curious, and among them are several which exist to the present day. Thus, the 'Festival of the Night of Receiving the River,' is the well-known festival of the cutting of the dam, celebrated to this day in Cairo on the second or third week in August.
"As we turn these ancient fragments over-- these accounts and revenue returns--it is hard to believe that they are the records of some forty-five centuries ago,+ they might be those of the Egypt of today. The return of the native reiyses and katibs (scribes) for the daily and monthly work on the barrage at Assouan, hardly differ in a single detail from those made for the reclimbing works in the Fayoum in Bezboim. The publication of these papyri only affords another proof of how real is the resurrection of the buried past and how vivid and full of life is the picture we can reconstruct."
*Over 600 years in error (too long), as shown by the later findings and calculations referred to in our last issue.
+More properly 3776 years ago, in harmony with the Bible Chronology and in harmony with the papyri dates discovered by Dr. Borchardt, set forth in our last issue, page 245.
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A MINISTER'S PRESENTIMENTS AND REASONS.
Rev. H. R. Perseval, Episcopalian, of Pennsylvania, over his own signature has recently expressed his views of the present situation and the future outlook of the Christian religion in civilized lands. He sees a tendency toward the denial of all positive faith and a substitution of unbelief coupled with forms and liturgies: in other words, he foresees an Agnostic ceremonialism; and so far as we understand him, he is in full sympathy with such a faithless "church." We agree
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that the tendency is as he outlines it; but we are not in sympathy with the tendency and deny that it will be the Church of Christ or in any sense justified in the use of the name Christian. We hold that it will be merely the binding of the "tares" in bundles ready for the "fire" (trouble) of this Day of Vengeance;--that the true Church, the "wheat," will first all be separated from the "tares," as now commanded by the Lord. --`Rev. 18:4`; `Isa. 48:20-22`; `52:11`; `Jer. 51:6-10,45`; `2 Cor. 6:16-18`.
The reverend gentleman gives some cogent reasons for his views, from which we make brief extracts as follows:--
"Even old-fashioned orthodox Protestantism is in America on the wane, and while the law of William Penn's own Pennsylvania still by statute fines those who speak against or insult the Holy Scriptures of God, many Protestant ministers in the hundreds of pulpits of Philadelphia find no more interesting and exciting theme for their Sunday preachments than the showing the Word of God to be the erring and often immoral and ridiculous word of man!
"It is no exaggeration to say that Protestantism is rapidly disintegrating, and is losing its hold as a teaching power.
"An American bishop, whose diocese is in the wilds of New England and contains but twenty-seven clergymen all told, has recently written a letter to a church newspaper in which he makes the highly interesting assertion that the clergy are not bound even to believe the statements they make in the prayers of the church service, which they offer out of the prayer-book to the God of truth! The bishop would seem to be a fair match, in this respect at least (altho not in others), to the rationalistic German professor, Adolf Harnack, who made a similar statement with regard to the Lutheran ministers of the state church, who were obliged to accept the Apostles' Creed which they did not believe!
"It is not too much to say, then, that Protestantism as a system of positive religious belief is dying out, and that its professors are for the most part able to continue in its ministry only through some device of casuistry [equivocation, lying], which in any other matter would be considered by themselves, as it is in their case by almost every one except themselves, dishonest and dishonorable. It is manifest that this state of things can not go on, and that the only final result of 'progress' in this direction, so far as faith is concerned, must be unbelief, and, so far as organization is concerned, decay and dissolution."
AN ASTOUNDING PROPOSITION.
"THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF JESUS CHRIST."
At a meeting of the "Canadian Society for Christian Union" held in Toronto, Canada, Oct. 3d, was a speaker, whose subject should have evoked astonishment, but evidently did not. The nominal Christian is in a sort of hypnotic stupor which accepts unquestioningly and unreasoningly whatever is presented to him by those duly authorized by any popular sect to bear the title of Reverend. The press reports say:--
"Rev. A. Crapsey, of New York, had prepared a lengthy paper on the subject, 'The Disappointment of Jesus Christ.' As it was too exhaustive for such a meeting, he gave the audience the essence of his idea extempore. There was, he held, one great petition in the Savior's prayer just before he suffered death that was not answered yet. He prayed that his people might be one, as he was one with the Father. He came to be a great unifier, and his plan was the most successful of any in the history of the world, yet his own people had disappointed him. They were continually at war with one another over trivial matters. The speaker held that one of the great causes of disunion was an improper theory of officialism, whereby the outward organization was considered the church."
We would be deeply interested in reading the original exhaustive treatment of this subject that we might know,--
(1) How it came that the Lord who had the Holy Spirit without measure (stint) at the time he offered the prayer referred to (`John 17`), did not know what to expect as the outcome of his work and hence met with the declared disappointment.
(2) If disappointed in one particular may he not be disappointed in all? Hence, may not his prophecy of `Matthew 24`th chapter and all others of his precious promises be similarly mistakes--disappointments?
(3) If our Lord and his words are thus "errant" would not the argument of the "Higher Critics" be correct when they claim that the Book is an unreliable guide and that instead of it we should take the wisdom of earth's wise men (the Higher Critics) as far better?
(4) It is not unreasonable to suppose from his "orthodox" associations that the Rev. Crapsey is a trinitarian; and if so a believer that our Lord Jesus was his own Father in heaven at the same time that he was his own Son on earth.* This being the reverend gentleman's position the logic of his argument is that Jehovah has been disappointed and hence did not know the end from the beginning--as he supposed and said
*See The At-one-ment Between God and Man, Chap. 5.
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he did. (`Isa. 46:10`.) And if Jehovah is thus "all at sea" and greatly disappointed at results, is it not time that we his creatures should become excited and abandon our rest in Christ and our hopes and our faith, and begin to try our own skill instead of trusting all to the Lord?
(5) To cap the climax of this argument we should only need to be assured that the reverend gentleman is a Calvinist (a Presbyterian, or a Congregationalist, or a Baptist) and that he is a firm believer in "the divine decrees," in divine predestination,--that God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass. In other words, that God foreordained matters as we see them but did not know, or forgot that he had so foreordained, and was disappointed in consequence.
What a wretchedly nauseating pabulum is this, that is being served to young and old Christians instead of the "sincere milk of the word" and its "strong meat" so abundantly supplied in the Scriptures. Is it any wonder that the rising generation in Christian lands is full of scepticism? They see the reasoning people leaving the Bible under the lead of Higher Criticism, and from the friends of the Bible they get such arrant nonsense as the above. The wonder is that all who do not see the truth do not quickly become skeptics. They are saved apparently by their stupor in things spiritual.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PROPOSITION.
What is the reverend gentleman's difficulty? The closing sentence quoted above shows that despite his gross darkness he has some light,--some light that many of his associates do not have. That last sentence gives us good hope for the man, for we see just where he floundered and why. He floundered in his logic by reason of his attempt to hold and harmonize a prominent teaching of Churchianity with the Scripture's teachings. He must sift and separate the teachings of the Scriptures from all others, and then he will find the logical harmony and consistency which he does not now find.
Had he followed along Scriptural lines the logical reasoning of his last sentence quoted above that the outward organization is not the real Church, he would have seen that it was not for the union of the outward organization that our Lord prayed. He would have seen then that Christ is not disappointed that the outward organizations are not united. If the real Church is composed of believers and not of unbelievers, "higher critics" or otherwise: and if, as the Scriptures declare, it is composed of only such believers as are consecrated --the holy, "the saints" (`Heb. 12:23`; `2 Thes. 2:13`; `Rev. 20:6`), was not the gentleman looking in a wrong quarter to find those who are at one with the Father and the Son and with each other? We think so.
And no doubt he was mislead into all this error by that other doctrine of Churchianity that is in conflict with the teachings of the Bible,--the doctrine of eternal torment of all except the Church. Every man of generous heart, believing this false doctrine, will be disposed to "count into the Church" as many as possible, not wishing to count them into eternal torture. Many are thus blinded and misled and unintentionally arrayed against God and his Word.
What these well-meaning but deluded people need is, to see the Scriptural doctrine of Election stript of the unscriptural doctrine of hopeless reprobation of the non-elect to eternal torture. They need to learn that God foreknew and foreordained an elect Church which he has been calling and selecting from among mankind during this age for a purpose (`Acts 15:14`; `Rom. 8:28`) --the glorious purpose of making them his agents for the blessing of all mankind. They need to see that this elect Church is the Seed of Abraham (`Gal. 3:8,16,29`), and that it will shortly inherit the promises made to Abraham:--"In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blest."
They need to see, too, what God has predestinated; and then they will see the absurdity of "counting in" the millions of nominal churchianity; and all the more they will see the need for their own neighbors and friends and families, of the promised blessed Millennial reign of Christ and his elect Church, his Bride. God's predestination is stated by inspiration by the Apostle, thus: "Those whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be copies of his Son."--`Rom. 8:29`, Diaglott.
"He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied"--not disappointed.--`Isa. 53:11`.
PAPACY'S DEMANDS IN SPAIN.
Well do the Scriptures symbolically represent Papacy as a leopard beast (or mottled government-- `Rev. 13:2`). In one place it is liberal, almost white in its professions or appearances; in another quarter it
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is black, corrupt, degrading, brutal; and in still other places it has various neutral and tawny shades of correspondence to the natural depravity of the people it rules with its rod of eternal torment and its staff of Purgatory.
In Spain, which has been for centuries one of its dark spots--as dark as the general civilization of the people will permit,--the "leopard" has been accustomed to have its way, and is now incensed that freedom of worship, or even of thought, should be dreamed of. And now hints are thrown out that an insurrection would be supported against the present government,
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if the "Liberals" are granted any privileges. Of course, all the blame is attached to the "Liberals" (which there means any and all who demand the right to think and act for themselves in religious matters), and it is claimed that they should let things alone--not create a disturbance by demanding and seeking their rights. A Paris newspaper (Journal des Debats) analyses Papacy's demands thus:--
"According to the views expressed at Burgos, the Spanish church, to quote the words of a French king, simply says: 'L'etat c'est moi!' The grave crisis of Spain, we are told, is due to her 'excessive Liberals,' and, further, that 'the chief error of Liberalism is that it substitutes individual discernment for the authority of the church.' The church, therefore, makes the following cardinal demands: Complete independence of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, which means that none of its members, under any consideration whatever, shall be judged by secular courts; re-establishment of all clerical privileges; abolition of the legality of marriages not sanctioned by the church; non-interference of the secular authorities with any legacies or grants obtained by the church; prohibition of religious association to non-Catholics. Thus the church makes demands which are altogether incompatible with modern life. The spirit of these demands is all the more easy to discern when we read that 'the increasing impudence and audacity of Protestantism, which raises its temples and opens its schools in the presence of Catholic sanctuaries and schools, in the capital as well as in other places of Spain, is a direct violation of the constitution.'"
In a word, the Pope and his coadjutors seem to be seeking to put pressure on all the nations of Europe to compel an interference on his behalf to secure for him some restoration of temporal power at the opening of the new century.
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WALKING IN THE NARROW WAY.
"Dear Lord, the way seems very dark,
I cannot see."
"Yes, child, I know, but I will be thy light,
Come, follow Me!"
"Dear Lord, so lonely is this way,
Where are my friends?"
"My child, dost thou forget how far from me
Their pathway tends?"
"Dear Master, I am growing weak,
I scarce can stand."
"O, foolish child, trust not in thine own strength,
Come, take my hand;
"For I have trod this way before,
So dark to thee;
I know each step, its weariness and pain;
Wilt trust in ME?"
"Yea, Lord, tho friendless, lonely, dark,
This way may be,
I will be strong! Beloved Guide, lead on,
I follow Thee." --G. W. SEIBERT.
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
BORROWING AND LENDING.
QUESTION.--I have neighbors who bother me continually by wishing to borrow of me. I wish to be neighborly but do not like to be pestered by people with whom I have scarcely anything in common. If they were "brethren in Christ," I would think nothing of it, but be glad to oblige them. What is my duty under the circumstances?
Answer.--Our advice is that you bear with them in this matter--for the truth's sake, for the Lord's sake, not directly, but indirectly. In this way seek to make friends with earthly things. You will find little enough that you and your neighbors can exchange along spiritual lines, and in order that what you have to offer of spiritual things may be the more acceptable to them, improve every opportunity to be kind, generous, in respect to the lending of earthly goods--not, of course, carrying matters to an extreme, so as to injure your own interests. Thus the Lord's people may be lenders, but not borrowers, as the typical fleshly Israelites were instructed also. (`Luke 6:35`; `Deut. 15:6-14`.) By pursuing a kind and generous course, you will to that extent favorably impress your worldly neighbors, and that at a trifling cost. If subsequently they misunderstand your religious views, they will at least concede you to be a kind and generous neighbor.
It would seem that many of the Lord's dear people fail to see that with our clearer light we should become more kind in word and in action and in thought, and much more generous every way, than our neighbors --peace-able and peace-makers. The majority of people seem naturally to be mischief makers, and do not quickly see that this is contrary to the spirit of the Lord--the spirit of love. The possession of the quarrelsome, selfish spirit gives evidence that the possessor has not been taught of God, or has not properly learned of him who is meek and lowly, kind and gentle of heart.
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MAN'S FREE AGENCY.
Question.--Has man been a free moral agent since the fall?
Answer.--There are two ways of looking at this subject, and the answers accordingly would be opposites.
(1) If by "free moral agent" is meant freedom of will in respect to moral questions, we would answer, Yes. Undoubtedly man is free to will as he may please on moral questions, altho he may not be able to carry out this will in all the affairs of life by reason of the weaknesses of his flesh or by reason of circumstances and conditions of others with whom he is in contact. Thus the Apostle Paul says, "To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." --`Rom. 7:18`.
(2) If by "free moral agent" is meant one who is not influenced or restricted by his environment, the answer should unquestionably be, No; because we are all born in a certain measure of slavery to ignorance, superstition and weakness, the results of the fall. Whoever is thus bounden may indeed seem to have full liberty to do right as easily as to do wrong, but in reality he has no such liberty, by reason of his own depravity and that of others, especially "the Prince of this world," who blinds the minds of them that believe not.
If all men had absolute freedom from the curse and from the weaknesses which it entails, the present would be the time of the world's trial; but because such conditions do not prevail, therefore God has appointed a "day" (the coming Millennial age) in the which he will judge the world by that "man" whom he hath afore ordained--the Christ. (`Acts 17:31`.) When that appointed Day shall come, the ignorance now enslaving mankind will be dissipated before the Sun of Righteousness, the unfavorable surroundings will be largely corrected by the Great Prince of "the world [age] to come," our Lord Jesus; and such blemishes as may be connected with the imperfection of the flesh of those on judgment will be off-set according to the gracious provision of the New Covenant, under which their trial will take place.
With the Church, whose trial or judgment takes place during this Gospel age, the case is somewhat similar. These are specially justified by faith under the New Covenant; their unintentional blemishes and weaknesses all being offset with the great sin-offering, and their knowledge being granted by special illumination of the holy spirit through the Scriptures. Only such as are thus made free by the Son are free indeed, --"free moral agents" in this sense and use of the expression.
CONCERNING METEORIC SHOWERS.
Question.--What about the falling of stars predicted in the newspapers by astronomers for Nov. 15-17? It is said that these meteoric showers occur every thirty-three years. How does this fit with the exposition set forth in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. IV., where the Meteoric shower of 1833 is referred to as a sign?
Answer.--It fits well! The fact that astronomers have located the floating star dust which produced the phenomena of 1833, and the fact that they know now that it approaches close to the earth every thirty-three years prove nothing. The original fact remains that in 1833 there was a starry shower such as was never heard of before and such as has never been seen since, tho twice predicted.
Astronomers announced in 1866 that the shower of 1833 would be repeated and that such showers had probably occurred often, but had never before attracted attention and record. But Nov. 14th, 1866, saw only comparatively few shooting stars--a few more than can be seen at other times.
Now that the second prediction, Nov. 15-17, '99, has passed without any remarkable display, it rather strengthens our position and corroborates the thought that the meteoric shower of Nov. 13th, 1833, was a special one intended as a sign and understood at the time as such and that the like never occurred before as it has not occurred since.
The last failure was particularly disappointing to astronomers for they had predicted wonders and had made extensive preparations. The Paris observatory had a balloon by which an ascent was made high above the city's lights and mists so as to obtain good results; but it could report only "about one hundred" meteors. At the Allegheny, Pa., Observatory elaborate preparations were made for months in advance and the largest photographic camera ever constructed in the world was in place to secure repeated photographic negatives of the heavens during the entire night. How different was the original shower intended for, and by many understood, as a sign.
Read the testimony of MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. IV., pages 588-600.
IS THE STUDY OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENA NECESSARY?
Question.--I have recently seen a book on psychic phenomena, styled __________. Do you not think it would be well to obtain these for TOWER readers at wholesale rates?
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Answer.--We do not so think. We may only put before our brethren of the Lord's flock "clean provender." We can only recommend to them reading along the lines advised by the Apostle, saying: Whatsoever
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things are true, just, lovely and of good report-- think on these things and stir up each other's minds with these.--`Phil. 4:8`; `2 Pet. 3:1`.
We have every confidence that the devil has plenty of power to produce any variety of psychic phenomena if the Lord permit him; and we have the Scriptural assurance that the Lord will permit him to exercise these powers in a special manner at the present time, to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect, and to bring strong delusions upon many in the nominal church, that they should believe a lie, because they do not have pleasure in the truth. (`2 Thes. 2:10-12`.) Please see booklet, What Say the Scriptures About Spiritualism?
We do not think, dear Brother, that the children of light need special instructions along the lines of psychic phenomena, and a thousand other books which have been and will be published, calculated to confuse many. The strongest protection God's people can have is the one which he has provided them--the armor of his Word, his plan. Whoever sees the "plan of the ages," as laid down in the WATCH TOWER publications, clearly, distinctly, will be safeguarded, not only against one, but against all the devices of the great Adversary in this evil day: but it will require that they give careful attention and prayer in order that the study may be satisfactory in its results--in order that it may sink into conviction in their hearts, and establish them so strongly in confidence in the Bible and its inspired statements that all contradictory theories and so-called scientific proofs to the contrary will be unable to move them.
Question.--In the fifth volume of DAWN and also in various issues of the WATCH TOWER you mention the prehuman existence of Christ. Some have taken exception to this statement, holding that you mean that our Lord was human before his existence upon the earth. Please give us a word on this subject at your convenience.
Answer.--The critic has erred respecting the meaning of the word prehuman. Pre means before, hence pre-human signifies before human. The thought is--that condition in which our Lord was before he became a man. At that time he was a spirit being. The critic has taken exactly the opposite to the true meaning of the word prehuman.
Question.--Is not individual, personal election to salvation taught in `Rev. 13:8` and `17:8`?
Answer.--We think not. The first of these texts is much the simpler and, it will be noticed, does not say when the names would be written in the Lamb's Book of Life. It does, however, mention that in the divine plan the Lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world, and that this Book of Life record is one of the consequences of our Lord's death.
The second text is more obscure and reads as tho it had been intended to be a repetition of the former statement, but inadvertently a portion had been omitted, viz., the words, "of the Lamb slain." We do not surely know that these words were omitted, but merely that, if they were there, this passage would be in harmony with the preceding one and in harmony with all of the testimony of Scripture, without allowances or inferences.
Taking this latter verse as it stands, and supposing it to be complete, we should be obliged to understand it to mean that the book or scroll covenanting life to an elect number was prepared from the foundation of the world, and that the names in it have been written as the individuals have made consecration of themselves, coming under the terms of the divine call. In this view of the matter the book or scroll would represent the original divine purpose--God's intention to have a Church, of which our Lord Jesus would be the Head. Such interpretation would be in perfect harmony with the various figures of speech which represent the writing of the names of the believers in the Lamb's Book of Life, and in harmony also with the other records which speak of blotting out the names of such as prove unfaithful to their consecration.--`Rev. 3:5`.
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"GOD LOVETH A CHEERFUL GIVER."--`2 COR. 9:7`.
--DEC. 10.--`MAL. 1:6-11`; `3:8-12`.--
MALACHI uttered the words of his prophecy during the period of Nehemiah's absence from Jerusalem at the court of Persia, and the return of Nehemiah may at the time have seemed like a fulfilment of Malachi's prophecy,--"The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple," etc. No doubt the testimony of the Lord given through Malachi prepared the people for their quick response to Nehemiah's energetic appeals and commands already noticed.
The International Sunday School Committee has very appropriately chosen Malachi's testimony as a basis for lessons on the grace of giving. While on the one hand we are wholly out of sympathy with the usual
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everlasting "dunning" carried on in religious circles --the passing of the collection box on every possible occasion, in season and out of season, and appeals for money for every conceivable object--nevertheless, on the other hand we fully realize that the grace of giving is indissolubly attached to all the other graces of God's spirit. Hence it is impossible for the Lord's people to grow in the other graces inculcated in his Word without growing also in the grace of benevolence. Indeed, while thoroughly disapproving the begging spirit as abominable, we are ready to concede that in all probability it has wrought some good-- where doctrinal instructions in righteousness and truth were lacking and the ill-fed souls of the Lord's people were likely to die of spiritual starvation, the appeals for money have no doubt often awakened, in the hearts of many, such responsive sentiments as compensated to some extent for their ignorance of God and his Word: no matter how selfish the motives, no matter how ignoble the method adopted, if it touched the heart of the giver with a desire to offer something in loving appreciation and worship to his Creator, the effect was surely a blessing to the giver--the sacrificer.
`Vs. 6` lays down as a fixed principle that a proper son will honor his father, and a proper servant honor his master, and then these principles are applied as between God and Israel. If they claimed God as their Father they should render to him the love of children; if they claimed to be his servants they should render to him servants' reverence--and such love and reverence should be the greater toward God in proportion as God is great above all others.
Phrenologists locate the organs of benevolence, reverence and spirituality in a row in the center of the top of the head. They are thus given places of prominence and nearness to God above all others: and it is certainly true that those who have these organs most largely developed are permitted, under the grace of the New Covenant, to come nearest to God in their hearts, in their sentiments, in all their experiences in life. But our day is not the most favorable for the development of these organs. Ours is a money-making and money-loving day, and the tendency is to concentrate thought and effort along the baser lines of acquisitiveness, combativeness, and in general the selfish propensities.
Moreover, the great increase of knowledge which the Lord has permitted in connection with the present day of preparation for his Millennial Kingdom tends to egotism rather than to favor veneration. Children have opportunities for education to-day which their parents did not enjoy, and are inclined to a feeling of self-confidence and self-satisfaction, and feelings of disrespect toward their parents instead of reverence. And this dwarfing of the organ of reverence, in its relationship to human creatures, implies also its dwarfing in respect to God; and hence we see to-day, as never before, disrespect of parents and disobedience to parents, and proportionately disrespect to God, irreverence in holy things. Realizing the source of these evils we are bound to sympathize with the rising generation in its difficulties in these respects.
As Christians taught of God through his Word and by its spirit, we are to realize for ourselves, our families, and the entire household of faith, the necessity for striving against these tendencies of our times --the necessity for curtailing our selfish, avaricious tendencies and egotism, and the necessity, on the contrary, of cultivating the higher and nobler graces of benevolence, veneration and spirituality. This the Apostle designates transformation, saying, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."--`Rom. 12:2`.
The prophet presupposed that those whom he addressed did not realize the true situation, and so in speaking to others to-day we should likewise presuppose that the majority do not realize how completely the spirit of selfishness dominates their hearts. "Ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?" The answer is, not that they publicly and directly used profane
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and disrespectful language, but that they had failed to properly honor God by failing to manifest a proper reverence and devotion toward him and his holy things. They had become careless respecting the things offered unto the Lord--these were not of the best they had but, if not the worst, were at least inferior. Thus the Lord's table had lost its proper dignity, had become "contemptible," common.
Apparently they had grown irreverent to the extent that, instead of bringing unblemished sacrifices to the Lord, they brought the sick, the lame, the blind: they continued to have "a form of godliness," of worship, of reverence, but they had lost the spirit or power of it. So it is with some in Spiritual Israel; they have consecrated themselves to the Lord, and in a formal manner at least desire to comply therewith; but as they have lost the spirit of devotion, the whole matter has become offensive in the divine sight. The Spiritual Israelite offers unto the Lord the fruit of his lips in prayer and praise, but if these are offered in a merely perfunctory manner as a "duty" and not from the heart, they are blind, sick and lame offerings, which the Lord despises. He offers unto the Lord service or money, but if these be given grudgingly, not heartily and with a loving appreciation which wishes they might be increased a thousandfold, then the offering is blind and lame and sick, and not pleasing in the Lord's sight.
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The Prophet inquires whether, if they were going to an earthly governor and, after the custom of that time, would entreat his favor with a gift, they would expect the favor if they took a mean gift, the sick, the lame, the blind of the flock as a present? Surely not. Then, turning the illustration, he suggests, And now I pray you that, in beseeching God for his mercies, you consider what kind of a present you have brought to him, and whether or not you have any right to expect his favor.
The `tenth verse` in our Common Version would give the thought that all had become so selfish that they would refuse to do anything in connection with the Lord's service unless it yielded pay of some kind; but Leeser's translation and the Revised Version give a different thought here, viz.: "O that there were someone among you that would lock up the door of the sanctuary, that you might not light up my altar for nought: I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept in favor an offering from your hand." The thought is, that from the Lord's standpoint it were just as well to abandon all such formalistic worship devoid of reverence and love and heart-worship: and this is true to-day in respect to us Spiritual Israelites and our "better sacrifices," devotions and offerings.
`Vs. 11` in the Common Version declares that the Lord's name shall be great throughout the earth, but it will be noticed that the words "shall be" are italicized, which signifies that they are not in the original text. Some verb must be supplied to make sense, and the Revised Version supplies "is" instead of "shall be." This makes it read that God's name is great amongst the heathen--was great at the time of the writing of this prophecy.
Altho Israel was the only nation in the whole world with which God had up to that time made a covenant or agreement as respected an offer of eternal life; and altho Israel alone had been favored of God with any revelation respecting his character, his plan; and altho Israel alone had received the Law of the Lord; and altho Israel had in these respects "much advantage every way: over all the other nations of the world;-- nevertheless, we have evidences that the other nations, even those in idolatry, had a reverence for Jehovah, "the God of Israel." We have frequent instances of this in Scripture narratives. For instance, the Philistines revered Jehovah, the God of Israel, when they returned the Ark of Jehovah to Israel, after having taken it in battle. (`1 Sam. 4:7,8` and `chapter 6`.) Nebuchadnezzar reverenced Jehovah, the God of Israel, as the great revealer of secrets through Daniel, and that there was no other god like unto him. Darius, who honored Daniel, and who was entrapped by his courtiers into the making of a law which cast Daniel into the den of lions, declared, nevertheless, his reverence for Jehovah the God of Daniel (`Dan. 4:37`; `6:26,27`). The fame of Israel's God had reached the Medes and Persians also, and Cyrus, in reverence to God, had given liberty to the captives of Israel to return from Babylonian captivity. And there are not wanting evidences that the surrounding nations realized even more clearly than did Israel that many of the judgments which befell Israel were divine chastisements for their unfaithfulness to Jehovah.--See `Ezra 1:2`; `Num. 24`.
Our lesson skips over certain other exhortations by the prophet, and comes to `chapter 3:8`, where he makes the inquiry, "Will a man rob God?" The matter is put in a startling form. Who would think of robbing his God? The thought connected with the word "God" is that of mighty one, powerful one, adorable one, and to the enlightened mind of the Christian additionally, the gracious, beneficent one. We realize a responsibility to God, obligation to bring him gifts and sacrifices and services, but who would refuse all this and on the contrary would rob God? Who would be so profane, so irreverent! Surely none would do so intelligently and wilfully; and so the natural Israelite is represented as doubting the matter and saying, "Wherein have we robbed God?" It is an important matter to see ourselves in a true light--to get a proper view of our conduct as precedent to any reform.
Israel was bemoaning its impoverished condition, its lack of divine favor and blessing, and the Lord's testimony through the Prophet was designed to show them that their leanness and poverty were the result of losing God's favor, and that they had lost divine favor by reason of their irreverence and failure to show hearty appreciation and to render true worship. Applying the same lesson to Spiritual Israelites who find themselves lean of soul and starving spiritually, we find that the difficulty has been either (1) that they have been worshiping in a wrong direction, or (2), if worshiping in the right direction, they have failed to present unto the Lord their very best.
Under the first of these errors many are worshiping and sacrificing to human institutions and not to God--they are offering their devotions and sacrifices perhaps to build up "churchianity" in some of its forms,--Presbyterianism, Methodism, Lutheranism, Adventism, etc. This is worshiping idols and sacrificing to idols and not to God. How can spiritual blessings be expected from God, when the reverence and service are rendered to men and to human institutions?
Under the second error, others who are not thus
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deluded by human institutions, but who recognize the true God, and who know of their responsibilities toward him, are lean of soul because they have not sufficient love and reverence for the Lord whom they do know. They serve him much more meanly and sacrifice to him in a much more niggardly manner than do the devotees at the shrines of human isms. Knowing the true God, they have the larger responsibilities and should be the more careful to present to him the best offerings possible of their time, influence, means, talents. If they give to the Lord but the fag ends of time, but the offals of influence, but a dribble of their talents, such sacrifices cannot be acceptable in his sight, nor could any reasonable person expect them to be so.
"Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation." Being one people, many of their interests were common, and their general poverty and leanness of soul was but a recompense for their course. And so it is and has all along been with the Lord's spiritual people, the one Church, the holy nation, the peculiar people, the sanctified in Christ Jesus. But now that we have reached the "harvest" time we find that a separating work is in progress-- not merely a separating of "wheat" from "tares" and of suitable fish from unsuitable fish, as represented in the parables (`Matt. 13:24-30,36-43,47-49`), but also another separation amongst the Lord's true people, amongst the consecrated ones, as represented in the parable of the wise and the foolish virgins--all virgins, yet not all worthy to go in to the marriage and to constitute the Bride, Christ's joint heir.--`Matt. 25:1-13`.
The present separation from amongst the consecrated will not only "gather out of the Kingdom those that do iniquity," and that have neither part nor lot in the matter, the "tares," but it will also gather out "those that offend"--those who fail to come up to the requirements of their covenant in fulness of consecration to the Lord, those who must therefore pass through the great tribulation and be brought through severe tests by trials and disciplines.
`Verses 10-12` give the gist of the entire lesson. When the Lord reproves, it is not for the purpose of discouraging his people, but for their reformation. When he chides, it is not to dishearten but to stimulate and to revive: and as here with natural Israel he exhorted to reformation and to thus prove his love and his bounty and his willingness to bless them, so we may apply a similar exhortation to a similar class in Spiritual Israel. "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse...and prove me now herewith,...if I will not open to you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it"--an overflow blessing.
We exhort all Spiritual Israelites to thus prove the Lord, to awaken to a fresh realization of his goodness and bounty and of their own obligation to spend and be spent in his service, according to their covenant of self-sacrifice,--walking in the footsteps of Jesus. To such it will mean a revival of spiritual health, energy, vigor, joy. Looking unto Jesus, their eyes will see
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him the more clearly, and see also the heavenly crown in reservation for them, and all the exceeding great and precious things which God hath in reservation for them that love him, and whose love is manifested to be of the genuine kind, which loves to sacrifice to him and to his cause the very best of all that they possess.
With the Jews there were two tithes obligatory. (A tithe signifies a tenth.) One tithe or one tenth of all their increase of flocks, herds, grain, etc., went for taxes, for the support of their government, and was rendered to the governor. The other tithe or tenth of their increase was a tax for religious purposes; it was rendered to the priests. Under the present Gospel age "high call" God has left Spiritual Israel without any specific instructions of this kind. The governments of this world generally take good care to look out for the tax part, while the obligation for religious and spiritual things represented by the holy tithe of the Jews is now left at the option of the Spiritual Israelite without even so much as a command respecting it or a stipulation as to the amount.
The tithe obligation was commanded to fleshly Israel, Moses and the house of servants, of which he was the head,--Israel after the flesh; but in dealing with the house of sons, of which Christ Jesus is the Head, a Son "over his own house" of sons (`Heb. 3:5,6`), the Lord has placed no restriction. Why? Because in this household of sons he recognizes only those who have been begotten again by his holy spirit: the thought is that whoever has become a partaker of the spirit of the Lord, whoever has the mind of Christ, has a mind not merely to give a tenth of all his possessions and income to the Lord, but to consecrate it all--without the reservation of a single item--mind and body, influence and talents, time and means.
But while the foregoing proposition of entire consecration will not be questioned by any who belong to the house of sons, nevertheless, the fact that they have the treasure of the new nature in earthen vessels frequently causes some to act very inconsistently--very much out of harmony with the real spirit of their consecration. The new mind is beset and continually fought by the mind of the flesh; as the Apostle declares, there is a warfare here continually, for the two minds are contrary. The new mind says,
"All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
All my being's ransomed powers;
All my thoughts and words and doings;
All my days and all my hours."
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But the mind of the flesh combats this and fights against such a full consecration, urging that it would be an extreme, that it is contrary to the general course of the world and its wisest men and women--urging that we must not thus make of ourselves "peculiar people," but must in general do as the world does, using all of time and talent, influence and means, selfishly --if not personally, then at least for our families.
Here is the great battlefield on which so many surrender before the evil influences, the forces of the world, the flesh and the devil--the place where so many fail to come off conquerors, victors, through obedience to the Word of the Lord and the spirit of their consecration to follow in his footsteps.
A few, but not very many, may need caution lest they should carry the matter of consecration to an extreme. An occasional one out of a thousand might perhaps act too literally upon the instruction that whosoever would be the Lord's disciple must forsake all to follow him,--might understand this too literally to mean an abandonment of houses, lands, families, etc. There can be no doubt, however, respecting the real import of the Scripture teachings along these lines: the Lord's followers are to forsake houses, lands, parents, children, etc., in the sense of not permitting any of these things to henceforth take his chief affection or to absorb his interest, his love, his devotion in the supreme sense. This supreme devotion by right and by covenant belongs to the Lord, and must be preserved inviolate. Family, home, the beauties of nature, should all be appreciated, but in a secondary sense as compared to the Lord. What would please the Lord must be supreme.
If we were dealing with an unreasonable and irascible Master, such a covenant and such an obligation might mean unreasonable requirements of us, and might inflict injustice upon others; but we are dealing with one whose requirement is a "reasonable service." Altho we have covenanted our all to him--time, money, influence, name, earthly hopes and pleasures, family and friends, "even unto death," we find that the Lord, after accepting our full consecration, makes us personally "stewards" of these things which we sacrifice to him and his cause. And as his stewards he permits and commissions us to use our consecrated all reasonably and moderately and according to our best judgment of what would honor his name and forward his cause. He permits us to use some of our consecrated means for our own sustenance and the sustenance and care of our families, merely enjoining moderation in all things. He permits us to use, therefore, a portion of our time, energy and talent in providing for these necessities and, if properly and reasonably used, he does not reckon this a selfish use, but merely a necessary expenditure.
Indeed, he leaves matters entirely in our hands, saying to us, so to speak: You have consecrated your all to me, and I have now returned it all to you to use in my name and to my glory and to the forwarding of my will in the earth as you shall understand my will from my Word. Go, occupy, use; I will inspect your work later and will judge of your love and your devotion by the carefulness with which you shall seek to use your hours, your moments, your dollars, your dimes, etc. If you have much love and devotion to me, it will manifest itself, or if you have little that also will be manifested, and my reward shall be accordingly. Only those who love me supremely and who rejoice to follow my Word and example shall be joint-heirs in my Kingdom--for only they will have the reverential and benevolent and spiritual dispositions of heart essential to the great work of the Kingdom which will be instituted as soon as the elect little flock has been completed and glorified.
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RIGHT AND WRONG CONDITIONS AND THEIR RESULTS.
--DEC. 17.--`MAL. 3:13 TO 4:6`.--
"Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap."--`Gal. 6:7`.
HOW FORCEFULLY divine truths were expressed by the Prophet Malachi! While no doubt his words were more or less applicable at the time and to the people addressed, it is very evident that his, like the other prophecies, was specially intended for the Gospel Church--more than for those who heard his words--as the Apostle Peter explains. --`1 Pet. 1:10-12`.
We apply this lesson then to fleshly Israel in the time of the Prophet, and note its complete fulfilment in respect to the "wheat" and "chaff" of that age in its harvest time--the wheat gathered to the garner of the Gospel Church as spiritual Israel, and the chaff element burned in the fiery destruction which overthrew their national polity. But more particularly we apply it to the Gospel Church and to the harvest time at the end of this Gospel age, when the "wheat" will be glorified in the heavenly Kingdom and the "tares" will be destroyed in the fiery trials of the day of vengeance, the great time of trouble with which this age will be wound up, preparatory to the inauguration of the Millennial Kingdom's triumph.
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The lesson divides itself into four portions, `vss. 13-15` expressing the attitude and sentiments of nominal Christendom; `vs. 16` telling of the attitude of the true saints; `vss. 17`--`4:3`, the Lord's declaration respecting the two classes (the nominal Christians, or tares, and the true saints, the wheat), and `vss. 4-6` being counsels for the interim for whoever has ears to hear.
Nominal Christendom is represented (`13-15`) as restive, out of harmony with the divine arrangement: the inquiry is, What is the use? How will it profit us? What advantage will we have? This view is from the purely selfish standpoint, which hears the divine requirements as so much of penal servitude--not having the heart interest in the Lord, his truth and his service. In the past it has walked mournfully, that is to say, with an outward show of reverence, contrition, observing Lenten seasons, etc., etc.; it brought lame, sick and blind gifts and sacrifices to the Lord's altar, as duty, but not being prompted by the spirit of love, the sacrifices were meager and inferior to those offered to themselves and to their families. The lesson represents that this condition, having continued for quite a while, toward the end of the age, is finally measurably dropped--and this we see about us today. Many who once made a more or less hypocritical confession of sins and penitence and of an outwardly careful walk are inclined to say, What is the use? What is the profit? We might just as well have a good time. As the Apostle foretold, one of the signs of our times is that men are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, while still having a form of godliness they deny its power.--`2 Tim. 3:4,5`.
As the Jews were inclined to look about them and note the prosperity of the other nations not favored with divine promises, as they were, so many professors of today incline to look at the general world conditions,
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and to say to themselves, Are not the proud the happiest? Are not the workers of iniquity the most firmly established in the world? Do not even some outwardly profane opposers of the truth get along well? As a result we see a decrease of reverence for God and for holy things, and an increase of doubt and skepticism as respects there being any advantage to be gained by a godly life--doubts respecting any future rewards, or at least any that would compensate self-denials for the present time.
Then (`vs. 17`) the Prophet points us to the few, the "little flock," exceptions to the nominal whole, who are taking the proper view of matters. The general attitude of the nominal system in rejecting the way of holiness and consecration will only tend to draw nearer to the Lord and to each other these who at heart reverence and love the Lord. So long as the nominal mass professedly walked in the same way of outward observance of divine ordinances and with an outward manifestation of reverence, contrition and devotion, these having the spirit of the Lord that thinketh no evil, felt a fellowship and companionship in the nominal church; but in the harvest time under divine providence circumstances tend to make manifest the true from the false, and to separate them. Those who have not the matter at heart as they more and more neglect the outward forms will naturally hate the others who, having the matter at heart, are as faithful as ever--because their faithfulness is a standing rebuke and evidence of the unfaithfulness of the other. And the faithful few, coming to realize that all were not Israel who were of Israel, will be drawn nearer to each other as they realize that after all the number of the faithful is extremely small.
This leads them to speak often one to another. Each finds his own need of help, counsel and encouragement, and realizes that the others need the same: and this draws them together. The further the nominal church gets away from the Lord and the truth and even from outward signs of reverence, the greater blessing it proves to be to this class, because it separates them from fellowships which all along have been unfavorable, hindrances to their spiritual development. Many of these today are meeting with us in little groups in various parts of the world for the study of the divine plan of the ages, and very many solitary ones meet with us (through the same medium--ZION'S WATCH TOWER publications) to break the heavenly bread and to commune concerning the Lord and his great purposes respecting us--our discipline as members of the body of Christ and our preparation to be his joint heirs in the promised Kingdom which shall bless all the families of the earth.
"And the Lord hearkened and heard it." Thus he would represent to us his interest in our efforts to understand his plan, and to offer him in loving sacrifice the very best of everything that by his grace we possess. O, that as we meet (personally or through the printed page) we could always realize our Heavenly Father's interest in us and his willingness to bless our efforts in the study of his Word and in the development of character! Such a realization would probably make all such meetings increasingly profitable. Those who do not recognize the Lord's presence in the gathering of his people are apt to exercise an injurious rather than helpful influence upon others, and are less likely to get any profit for themselves. Let us more and more remember as we meet in the name of our Lord his promise, "Where two or three are met in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (`Matt. 18:19,20`.) Those who realize the Lord's presence amongst his people when they meet will be very careful of the words of their mouths, their actions and the very thoughts of their hearts: pride, vainglory, slander, and all evil things ("works of the flesh and of the devil") will be carefully shunned, if his presence is clearly realized by the eye of faith.
The Lord presents to us great truths under figures which the least learned can comprehend: for instance,
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instead of telling us that he has knowledge of and will never forget those who are his, and their diligent efforts to know and to serve him, he pictures the lesson, telling us that he has a "book of life" and "a book of remembrance." Through these figures we get the thought that the Lord would have us get, viz., that he takes full knowledge of his true people. And he tells us that this class not only reverence him, but also "think upon his name"--his character, his goodness, his infinity, his plan, his love--thinking upon these things they come to know him more and more intimately and to realize his grand perfection, and thus more in his company and well acquainted with his character they become more and more like him.
The Lord encourages these with the assurance that their love and devotion shall have its reward in the future--that a grand change is coming, and that then every sigh and every tear and every sacrifice, for righteousness' sake and for love of the Lord, his cause and his brethren, shall be fully rewarded in a manner that is beyond our present comprehension. They serve not for selfish reasons, but from devotion, from fidelity, and consequently from love, and hence they shall find that the light afflictions of the present, which are but for a moment, will work out for them a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory--looking not at the things now seen, but at the things now unseen, the eternal things.--`2 Cor. 4:17,18`.
Without attempting to detail what are the riches of grace in reservation for them that love God, two figures are used, which are quite expressive to the eye and ear of faith--God's Jewels, God's faithful Sons. These two thoughts suggest a full explanation of present experiences: the proper father will instruct, correct and discipline his son, tho he may pass by the greater faults and blemishes of others who are not his children. Then, as respects Jewels, we all know the necessity for cutting, trimming and polishing them to the intent that their real qualities may be developed. Thus we see ourselves in the Father's school of discipline and preparation to be his heirs--joint-heirs with Christ in his Kingdom--we see the necessity of the trials and perplexities and persecutions of this present time that we may be polished and prepared for the glory-time to come.*
We may apply this gathering of Jewels in one sense to the Jewish nation, fleshly Israel, and say that the Lord gathered the faithful ones from that nation in the harvest time of their age, beginning A.D. 29. But the figure would not be complete there; its completeness is shown in connection with spiritual Israel and the polishing of these diamonds during this Gospel age. From this standpoint the time for making up the Jewels is the present "harvest" time. The faithful from the Lord's day until now will have part in the first resurrection, and all of the Jewel class now living, when polished and found worthy, will be "changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," to be like and with the Lord--the moment of their death being the moment of their change--they having no need to sleep in unconsciousness, for behold, the "harvest," the gathering time, has come. They will be gathered into the Kingdom, as represented in our Lord's parable. (`Matt. 13:30-43`.) They will be "spared" from passing through the great time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, as our Lord has said, "Watch ye, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape" all those things coming upon the world.
Then there shall be a turning point (return), a change in the divine administration, tho not a change in the divine plan--for the plan of God formed from the beginning did not contemplate the perpetuation of the present condition of things, in which whosoever doeth righteousness suffers and in which the unrighteous prosper. It contemplated and arranged for the great re-turn of the rule of righteousness now about to take place, which will transfer the dominion of earth from Satan, its present supervisor, and from the kingdoms of this world, its present dominating powers, to the dominion of Christ and his Church in glory and in power,--the Millennial Kingdom, in which he that doeth righteousness shall be blessed, and he that doeth iniquity shall be punished, and if the correction be not heeded, shall eventually be cut off from amongst the people in the second death.--`Acts 3:22,23`.
The day that brings the glorification to the faithful "jewel" or "wheat" class brings a different experience to the "tare" class. To them it will be a hot time--a time of fiery trouble that will completely consume their hypocrisies and pretended devotions to the Lord, which were merely in form without the heart and without power, and unacceptable to him. In that trouble-time their pride, their ambition, their world-love and their spirit of selfishness, will meet a retribution that will be terrible in the extreme--such a time of trouble as the world has never yet witnessed. The Lord's fierce anger will burn against their hypocrisies and shams; and will utterly consume the same-- but not, we understand, consume the individuals. They will cease to be "tares," but not cease to be human beings; they will cease to make professions of consecration, as the Lord's true Church, when at heart they have neither part nor lot in the matter and are not in sympathy either with the Lord or his spirit, his righteousness.
This burning day is referred to by `Zephaniah` also (`3:8,9`): and through him the Lord declares, "I will pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger, for all the earth [the present social order] shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." That this does not mean the literal earth nor the people of it, is clearly evident from the next statement of the
*See Old Theology Tract, No. 44.
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prophet, viz., "Then will I turn unto the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."
While the "fire" of this day will burn the "stubble" and "tares" quickly, nevertheless the same fire of the Lord's anger against hypocrisy and pride and every evil thing will continue to burn throughout the entire Millennial age, wherever such things shall be manifested--even down to the end of the Millennial age, when some in the final testing will be found unworthy of life eternal. (`Rev. 20:9`.) Thus will evil eventually be destroyed, root and branch.
Following the fiery time or day of trouble will come the new era, in which the Sun of Righteousness shall shine forth, dispelling the darkness of the present time--healing the wounds of sin and death and
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bringing in joy, peace, love and blessing. Then the righteous shall rejoice in their liberty and shall realize that the restraints of this present time have been blessings in disguise, for thereby they have been made spiritually fat--"stall-fed" during the winter of the prevalence of sin, they shall go forth to liberty in the springtime of the new age.
`Vs. 3` indicates the completeness of the victory of righteousness over sin, of the Lord's faithful over the workers of iniquity: a strong figure of speech is in the words, "Ye shall tread down the wicked"--as ashes.
Then (`vs. 4`) the Prophet addresses the people of his day, "Remember ye the law of Moses," but the expression is equally applicable to the Spiritual Israelite who recognizes Christ as the antitype of Moses and the New Covenant as the antitype of the Law Covenant, and the new Law of Love as the antitype of the Decalogue.
The faithful in fleshly Israel were not to expect the gathering of the jewel class immediately, but would know that before that time the Lord would send a great antitypical Elijah whose mission it would be to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. Should he succeed in doing this the great burning day would not be necessary; but should he fail, then the burning day, the time of trouble, would come, and the Lord would smite the earth with a foretold awful trouble.
The turning of the hearts of parents to children and children to parents would seem to mean the establishment in the earth of a spirit of reciprocal love. And it would further mean, the turning of the minds of the aged so that they would become as little children, humble, teachable; and had they become thus childlike they would have been ready to turn their hearts to the teachings and example of the early fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the holy prophets, and they would have been made ready for divine favor and blessing and to be spared from the foretold curse or trouble.
John the Baptist fulfilled this prediction so far as Fleshly Israel was concerned, endeavoring to turn their hearts so that they would be ready to receive Jesus in the flesh; but John the Baptist failed to turn them to repentance, and they crucified the Lord, and hence the curse or time of trouble came upon the nation, destroying it A.D. 69-70.
But as the prophecy relates still more particularly to Spiritual Israel than to Natural Israel, so it relates still more particularly to the antitypical Elijah sent to Spiritual Israel than to the antitype sent to Natural Israel. For the evidences that the little flock throughout this age has been and still is the Elijah to the nominal system, exhorting it and seeking to bring it into harmony with God, and that it has failed so to do, as foretold in the Scriptures, and that hence the great time of trouble impends, we must refer our readers to MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. 2, Chap. 8.
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RESISTING WORLDLY INFLUENCES.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I wish to acknowledge receipt of VOL. V., M. DAWN. I appreciate very much the favor of receiving the volume so early. It rejoices my heart to see how much brotherly kindness is manifested among some of the Lord's people here. Bro. S., after reading only the table of contents, loaned his copy of VOL. V. to Bro. N. and Sr. M. who do not have so many privileges and opportunities in many ways as Bro. S. has. I learned from Sr. M. yesterday that she had intended letting me read it first, should her volume come before mine. I was ignorant for three days of the fact that only Bro. S. and I had received the volumes, and when I learned this, I hurriedly read mine and sent it to another brother anxious to see it.
Altho I did not give the book a very careful reading, I am able to say that I feel the Lord has wonderfully used you in the work of setting before the household of faith so clear, logical and Scripturally satisfactory a presentation of the glorious corner-stone of our faith. How vastly superior the Bible explanation of man's fall and God's plan of redemption through our Savior, Jesus Christ, is to all the teachings of science falsely so-called! It seems that we alone of all earth's millions are able to sing the Song of Moses and the Lamb: "Just and true are all thy ways!" Sometimes I am almost overpowered by the desire to literally leave all and "spread the truth from pole to pole." It is so hard to be patient and wait; but I think of him who has waited more than six thousand years and is waiting still in infinite patience; and who am I--to faint!
I wish your prayers especially, dear Brother, that I may be able to resist gently all the influences of my worldly surroundings, so antagonistic to the "new nature." I will call to mind the Apostle's encouragement, "Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you." I have no difficulty in resisting the influence, but I find it hard to do it gently, without giving offence. I guess it must be my old nature which is very nervous and quick. I am sure I have not the faintest sympathy at heart with worldly things, but I do not wish to be too severe against those who mean kindly tho they try to draw me from the "narrow way."
What do you think about the saints using opiates for pain, especially in a last illness? I have thought of it in connection with our Redeemer's refusal of the vinegar and myrrh. With much Christian love and prayers for your steadfastness, Yours, in the love of our Mediator and King, MRS. R. S. S__________, California.
[REPLY.--We are glad, dear Sister, to note that your worldly surroundings do not ensnare your heart, but that on the contrary you fully maintain your love for the Lord and his way, the "narrow way." We sympathize with your desires to resist worldly influences in a gentle spirit, and trust that you may have much blessing in this endeavor, and may be enabled through it to cultivate the various graces of the spirit. You will be strengthened by the Lord's declaration-- that in his sight a meek and quiet spirit is an ornament of great value.--`1 Pet. 3:4`.
Respecting our final illness and opiates: I had not thought of our dear Master's example in refusing opiates. Personally I would incline to leave the matter in the hands of friends and trust to the Lord's providence respecting what they would do and prescribe at such a time,--praying that the Lord's will might be fully done even unto death. --EDITOR.]