VOL. XXVI. JUNE 15, 1905. No. 12
Remarkable Chronological Parallels--A Letter
from Dr. J. Edgar...........................179
Three Charts of History.......................181
The Two Ministrations.........................186
"The Christ, the Son of God"......................186
Messianic Hopes Inspiring.....................187
Life Through Believing........................188
Boasters Defeated, Prayers Helped.................189
Spiritual Blessings for Spiritual Israel......189
Opposition Awakens Faith......................190
A Newspaper View of the Welsh Revival.............191
Public Ministries of the Truth....................192
Niagara Falls Convention......................178,192
The New Volunteer Tracts..........................178
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GENERAL CONVENTION, NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y., JULY 8-11
The RAILROADS of the New England, Trunk Lines, Central, Western and South-Western Associations will sell tickets to this Convention at ONE FARE AND ONE-THIRD, plus 25 cents, on the "Certificate Plan." You purchase a regular single-fare ticket to Niagara Falls, N.Y., telling your ticket-agent at the time that you desire a Certificate, that you are going to the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY'S CONVENTION, and which will entitle you to purchase a return ticket at ONE-THIRD a regular fare. Hold on to that certificate, as without it you would be charged full fare when buying your return ticket. The Certificates will need to be signed, but we will publicly announce at the Convention the name of the brother who will attend to the matter for you and save you all trouble.
ACCOMMODATIONS should be secured in advance to avoid confusion and trouble to yourself and the Entertainment Committee. Therefore, if you will attend, write at once, saying BRIEFLY (a) how many will be of your party; (b) how many of each sex; (c) if colored, so state; (d) married couples desirous of rooming together should so state. AS TO RATES.-- Arrangements can be made for accommodations in boarding houses at $1 to $1.25 per day and at hotels at $1.50 per day up. These rates include meals.
Do not write on this subject AT LENGTH. Tell us about things at the Convention. Give the information briefly and to the point. A postal card will do. Address the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, 612 Arch St., Allegheny, Pa.
From many points there are other Special Excursions run every summer to Niagara Falls. Some of these are at extremely low rates. It will be well for each to inquire of the railway ticket agents of his own city on this subject, and to select the excursion that will suit his convenience best. But take our own Excursion mentioned above unless you can do BETTER.
GET READY PROPERLY
Prepare your heart for a blessing. Come to the Convention in the proper spirit--as a disciple, a learner. Come intent also on doing good as well as getting good, of consoling and encouraging others, as well as to be yourself comforted. Above all, come realizing that the Lord himself is the fountain of blessings, and remembering his word--not by might, nor by power, but by the Lord's Spirit are we to expect the blessings we hope for. In making ready and en route do not forget this important item, for on it your share in the Convention's blessing greatly depends.
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THE VOLUNTEER TRACTS
The Volunteer orders are being filled rapidly now. Those who have examined the "ammunition" generally agree that it is interesting. It consists of four separate sheets folded together. These need not be separated. One or more of the four topics discussed is pretty sure to find interested readers in every home.
We again commend the house to house distribution, so effective last year. In districts where foreigners predominate or where Catholics are numerous it is always best to take up our earlier method of distribution near to English-speaking Protestant churches.
This is a work in which almost all can engage every fine Sunday. The tracts are supplied free as samples of our literature. The great Chief Reaper's words still hold good: "He that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life everlasting."
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REMARKABLE CHRONOLOGICAL PARALLELS.
BY J. EDGAR, M.D., AN EMINENT SURGEON, OF SCOTLAND
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--The Lord has enabled me to see another remarkable confirmation of the Parallel Dispensations, teaching that 1914 A.D. is the date when Christendom will lose its crown, will be finally overthrown, and when he, "whose right it is," will take his power and reign.
We recognize that the kingdom of fleshly Israel typified Christendom in many respects. Two prominent events, the division of the kingdom into Judah and Israel and its final overthrow as a kingdom, were undoubtedly types, the former of the division of Christendom at the time of the Reformation, the latter of its final overthrow. The remarkable feature which has now come to light is that we have in this a time-parallel.
Under Saul, David and Solomon, the typical kingdom was undivided for the space of 120 years. DAWN II., page 50, shows that the whole period of the kings, including these three, was 513 years. The length of time, therefore, from the division of the typical kingdom on the death of Solomon till the removal of the crown from Zedekiah was 513 minus 120, equal to 393 years. The date of the division of Christendom into Papacy and Protestantism was 1521 A.D. Therefore, 393 years later, i.e., in 1914 A.D., we should expect the final overthrow of "Christendom."
The evidence that 1521 A.D. is the date when the split into Papacy and Protestantism occurred is clear. In June, 1520, Luther received from Pope Leo X. the first bull of excommunication, commanding him to confess his faults within sixty days, or be cast out of the Church. On 10th December, 1520 (the third month of the year 1521 by the Jewish mode of reckoning), Luther publicly burnt this bull with a copy of the Canon Law, and on 4th January, 1521, the second bull was issued expelling him from the Romish Church. Blackie's Modern Cyclopedia states with regard to this: "From this time Luther formally separated from the Roman Church, and many of the principal German nobles, the most eminent scholars, and the University of Wittemberg, publicly declared in favor of the reformed doctrines and discipline. Luther's bold refusal to recant at the Diet of Worms (17th April, 1521) gave him increased power, while the Edict of Worms and the ban of the Emperor made his cause a political matter."
THE TIME OF THE END
MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., proves from a study of Daniel's prophecy of the 1260 days that the Time of the End is a period of 115 years, beginning with 1799 and ending with 1914 A.D. Wondering whether there might be a time-parallel here also, I reckoned back 115 years from 606 B.C., and reached the year 721 B.C. as corresponding with the year 1799 A.D. This date I found to be exactly five years before the death of King Hezekiah. `Isaiah 38:5` tells us that the date of Hezekiah's "sickness unto death," from which he miraculously recovered, was fifteen years prior to his death, and was, therefore, ten years before the date 721 B.C., or, in other words, 125 years before 606 B.C. Reckoning a similar period back from 1914 A.D. brings us to 1789 A.D., the year of the French Revolution, from which Christendom recovered, though it must have seemed to be a "sickness unto death."
We are told that, after his recovery, Hezekiah gave way once more to his vain-glory and received the Babylonian ambassadors, just as France once more favored Papacy. We also read that he afterwards led water into Jerusalem for the refreshing of the Lord's people. This seems to shadow forth the founding of the various Bible Societies at the beginning of the last century, mentioned in DAWN III., page 51.
THE SUN-DIAL OF AHAZ
What struck me in examining the above was that the year of the French Revolution, typified by Hezekiah's sickness, was ten years back from the end of the 1260 days of Daniel, the beginning of the Time of the End. Can it be that the sign of the sun-dial given to Hezekiah (`Isa. 38:7,8,22`) should be taken as a prophecy of this, the ten degrees (or steps, R.V.) representing ten years? Did the sign indicate symbolically that, just as the shadow on the sun-dial, on account of Hezekiah's repentance, was set back ten steps, so the date of the French Revolution would be set back ten years, i.e., that after this revolution would break out in 1789 A.D., ten years would require to elapse before the beginning of the Time of the End? The fact that the prophet Isaiah immediately proceeds (`ch. 40`) to refer to this Time of the End would seem to support this view.
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THE 2300 DAYS OF DANIEL
The year 1846 A.D., which ended the 2300 days of Daniel, has been shown in DAWN, Vol. III., to be the date of the cleansing of the sanctuary. The corresponding date in the typical kingdom was 674 B.C. I cannot find this date specified directly in the history of the typical kingdom, but it is significant that at this time the wicked King Manasseh had reigned 42 out of his total 55 years, 674 B.C., therefore, probably corresponds to the date of his repentance and consequent cleansing of the sanctuary.
The period of the good King Josiah's activity extended from 651 till 641, and consisted of a cleansing and reforming work. It ended in 641 with the finding of the Book of the Law and the celebration of the Great Passover. The parallel period in the Gospel Age was from 1869 till 1879, the period when most of your cleansing and reforming work was done. So far as I can gather, it was about 1869 that you began to inquire into the teaching of the creeds and of the Scriptures, and it was in 1879 that you founded ZION'S WATCH TOWER, for the purpose of upholding the doctrine of the ransom in all its fulness against the attacks of Mr. Barbour and others, and of announcing the Great Passover, the resurrection of the "dead in Christ" in the year 1878 A.D. and the passing-over of the feet-members since that date at the moment of death.
THE NUMBER FORTY
When we turn back to the early history of the typical kingdom, we find that Saul, David and Solomon each reigned 40 years. It is clear that the reign of Saul represents the Jewish Age, that of David the Gospel Age, and that of Solomon the Millennial Age. The fact that the duration of each reign was 40 years indicates that it represented a complete period of testing and sifting. This would appear to be the thought underlying the number 40 in all the instances in which it is used in the Scriptures. For instance, there were the 40 years' temptation of the children of Israel in the wilderness, Christ's 40 days' temptation, etc. They all seem to foreshadow the 40 years of harvest at the end of the Jewish, of the Gospel, and (possibly) of the Millennial Ages.
THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS
It is clear from the Scriptures that Jesus rose on the first day of the week (`Mark 16:2`), and also that this was "the third day" after his death (`Luke 24:21,46`; `1 Cor. 15:4`; also `Lev. 23:11`). It follows that he must have been crucified on a Friday. That this is of importance in estimating the dates of Jesus' birth and death, is pointed out in DAWN II., p.60. Some object to this that Jesus in saying (`Matt. 12:40`) that he would be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, contradicted the statement by the Apostle Paul that he rose on the third day. Those who reason in this way have failed to note that the phrase used by Jesus was purely idiomatic, and implied that he would be in the heart of the earth "till the third day." The proof of this is to be found in `Esther 4:16`; `5:1`; `Gen. 42:17,18`; `2 Chron. 10:5,12`. God is his own interpreter.
THE YEAR OF JUBILEE
I had always taken it for granted that the year of Jubilee was an ecclesiastical year; but on studying this subject recently, I noticed that the trumpet was to sound on the day of atonement, the 10th day of the 7th month (`Lev. 25:9`), and presumably, therefore, began on that day. Accordingly, the year of Jubilee was not an ecclesiastical year, i.e., from Spring to Spring, but a civil year from Autumn to Autumn.
As every 7th year was a Sabbath year, it follows that the 49th year was a Sabbath year. It would seem as if these were ecclesiastical years. If so, then the Jubilee year began in the middle of the 49th year. But it was called the 50th year! Should one reason from this
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PERIOD OF 393 YEARS FROM THE DIVISION OF THE TYPICAL KINGDOM TILL ITS FINAL OVERTHROW.
B.C. 999 Division of Kingdom of Fleshly Israel into Judah and Ephraim--`2 Chron. 10`; `11:1-4`.
PERIOD OF 125 YEARS.
B.C. 731 Hezekiah's "sickness unto death," followed by (1) Alliance with Babylon; (2) Supply of water to Jerusalem.-- `Isa. 38`, `39`; `2 Chron. 32:30`.
B.C. 606 Final overthrow of the typical Kingdom. --`2 Chron. 36:11-21`; `Ezek. 21:25-27`.
PERIOD OF 393 YEARS FROM THE DIVISION OF CHRISTENDOM TILL ITS FINAL OVERTHROW.
A.D. 1521 Division of "Christendom" into Protestantism and Papacy at Diet of Worms.
PERIOD OF 125 YEARS.
A.D. 1789 The French Revolution, followed by (1) Alliance with Papacy. (2) Supply of truth through Bible Societies.
A.D. 1914 Final overthrow of Nominal Christendom.
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that it was called the 50th year because it was the 50th civil year? The entrance into Canaan took place in the Springtime at the beginning of an ecclesiastical year. Six months afterwards their 2nd civil year began, while it was still the middle of their 1st ecclesiastical year. Consequently, their 50th civil year began, while it was still the middle of their 49th ecclesiastical year. If this be the interpretation, it is evident that the land had rest on these occasions, not two years, but only eighteen months.
It would seem as if this were a wise provision of the Mosaic Law. It provided that at the beginning of each
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THREE CHARTS OF HISTORY, SHOWING VARIOUS PARALLELS, ALL CONFIRMATORY OF OUR CHRONOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS.
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year of Jubilee, owing to the suspension of work on the land during the previous six months, the restitution of all things was rendered easier of accomplishment; and also after the Jubilee was over, and each had returned to his own land, an opportunity was given to him to prepare the land and get his crop ready for the Spring harvest and the celebration of the Passover and of Pentecost.
There seem, however, to be some deeper meanings in this arrangement. (1) The commencement of the Jubilee year on the day of atonement pointed forward to the time when the antitypical Jubilee would begin on the antitypical day of atonement, the end of the Gospel Age. (2) Brother Hemery of London mentioned to me some time ago that he had noticed that events which occurred in the Spring foreshadowed blessings for the Church, while those which occurred in the Autumn foreshadowed blessings for the world. This appears to me to be a natural arrangement, as Spring is the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, whereas Autumn is the beginning of the civil year. Applying this thought, we find that the Passover and Pentecost, etc., foreshadowed blessings for the Church, whereas the Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Jubilee foreshadowed blessings for the world.
I am, with love in the Lord to you and to all the dear ones in Christ Jesus,
A LATER LETTER
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
The Lord has guided me to the discovery of another confirmation of the Chronology as set forth in MILLENNIAL DAWN. In studying the Parallel Dispensations, I noted that the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy (`Dan. 9:24-27`) from 29 till 36 A.D. had its parallel as regards both time and events in the Gospel Age from 1874 till 1881 A.D. (DAWN II., p.219). Thinking that the events at the beginning of the 70 weeks might also have parallels in the Gospel Age, I noted your arguments in DAWN II., p.67, proving that the 70 weeks dated from Nehemiah's commission to build the walls of Jerusalem in the 20th year of Artaxerxes (`Neh. 2:1`), whereas usually they are reckoned as beginning at the time of Ezra's commission 13 years earlier (`Ezra 7:7`). I noted also your proofs that the former must have been in the year 454 B.C. Accordingly the latter must have been in the year 467 B.C.
Rollin, in his Ancient History of the Medes and Persians, agrees with this. In Book 6, sect. 18, he says that Xerxes died in 473 B.C. and quotes as authorities Ctesias, c.ii; Diodorus, Book xi. p.52; Justin, Book iii., ch. 1. He says Xerxes reigned 12 years; and in Book 7, sect. 1, he states that Artaxerxes was crowned in 473 B.C., and reigned 49 years. In accordance with this, he mentions in sect. 6 of Book 7, that Ezra's commission was in 467 B.C., and Nehemiah's in 454 B.C. Regarding the latter he states: "Artaxerxes immediately caused a decree to be drawn up that the walls and gates of Jerusalem should be rebuilt, and Nehemiah as Governor of Judea was appointed to put this decree in execution. It is from this decree, communicated by Artaxerxes in the 20th year of his reign, for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, that we date the beginning of the 70 weeks mentioned in the famous prophecy of Daniel, after which the Messiah was to appear and to be put to death."
By deducting 490 years from 1881 A.D., we get the year 1391 A.D., corresponding with 454 B.C. The year 1378 A.D., 13 years earlier, will, therefore, correspond with 467 B.C.
I. EZRA'S COMMISSION IN 467 B.C.
On consulting books on the Reformation, I was not long in discovering that the year 1378 A.D., corresponding with the year 467 B.C., is a very important date indeed. It is the year of the Great Papal Schism, when Wycliffe came out as the Reformer.
Workman in Dawn of the Reformation, p.172:-- "Wycliffe's spiritual earnestness was shocked, his theory destroyed by the spectacle of two Popes each claiming to be the sole head of the Church, each labelling the other as Antichrist. To Wycliffe, the year of the Schism, 1378, was the crucial year of his life. He first urged that both Popes should be set aside as having little in common with the Church of the Holy God. From this position of neutrality he quickly passes into one of antagonism to the Papacy itself."
Archbishop Trench in Medieval Church History:--"Gregory XI. died on 27th March, 1378, and the Papal Schism broke out. The year 1378 marked the turning-point in Wycliffe's career. Hitherto he had concerned himself with matters of mixed ecclesiastical and political import, but henceforth he devoted himself exclusively to doctrinal matters and came out as the Reformer. He began in earnest the translation of the Bible into English, and took the next decisive step by an open attack, forced upon him by his studies of the Bible, against Transubstantiation. The effect was immediate. The University itself turned against him. He was forbidden to teach. Ever afterwards he did, in nearly all his writings, introduce in some way a statement of his views upon Transubstantiation."
Can anything be more conclusive than that we have here a parallel, not only in time, but also in the events recorded between Ezra's commission in 467 B.C. and Wycliffe's acts in 1378 A.D.? Ezra in leading back from Babylon many of the Israelites, and bringing with him the vessels for the service of the house of God (`Ezra 7:19,20`) did for the literal temple what Wycliffe by his doctrinal reforms, especially by his attack upon the doctrine of Transubstantiation, did for the spiritual temple.
II. NEHEMIAH'S COMMISSION IN 454 B.C.
The year 1391 A.D. corresponds with the year 454 B.C. when Nehemiah received his commission to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Wycliffe died in 1384, before he could personally carry into effect all that he had longed for, but his works followed him. It was John Hus of Bohemia who more particularly took up the work of reform after Wycliffe's death. Though it was in the early years of the 15th century, up till his martyrdom in 1415 A.D., that his work attracted general notice, yet it was in 1391 that Hus might be said to have received his commission to rebuild the walls of Spiritual Jerusalem, for it was in that year that he became acquainted with the works of Wycliffe (Blackie's Modern Cyclopedia, Vol. IV., p.483).
Thatcher and Schwill in Europe in the Middle Ages, p.539:--"Political considerations, the alliance between
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Henry V. and the Papacy, led to repeated persecutions of his followers, and so all of Wycliffe's efforts at Reform came to nothing. But the cry for the reform of the Church was never again hushed in Europe. Through one of his pupils, John Hus of Prague, his teachings were carried to Bohemia, where they also caused a great uprising." "Hus condemned its (Papacy's) worldliness, its right of secular possessions, and objected to the supremacy of the Pope. The Bible, according to him, ought to be the sole rule of faith."
Professor Lodge in Close of the Middle Ages, p.207:-- "The systematic teaching of Hus was for the most part derived from the great English teacher, John Wycliffe. It is important to remember that the Hussite movement had a secular as well as an ecclesiastical side."
Burnet in History of the Reformation, p.9:--"Before the end of the 14th century, Wycliffe had extended his line of attack to some of the special doctrines of Western theology: but the movement which he began, though its effects were evanescent in his own country, became in the hands of more stimulating advocates a genuine national force in Bohemia."
III. THE SEVEN WEEKS OF `DAN. 9:25`
Is there anything in the Gospel Age to explain the mysterious division of the 70 weeks into 7 and 62 and 1? By seven weeks is meant a period of 49 years. As the seven weeks date from Nehemiah's commission, the year under consideration will be 1440 A.D. This is the time that Printing was invented, a very important factor in the Reformation.
Archbishop Trench in Medieval Church History, p.423:-- "Then while abuses were never rifer, while the lives of the clergy were never fuller of scandal, while the Papal Court was never more venal, nor could less endure the beating upon it of that fierce light which leaves nothing hid,--the invention of Printing (1440) multiplied a thousandfold every voice which was raised to proclaim an abuse or to denounce a corruption. And marching hand in hand with this wondrous invention there was the Revival of Learning."
IV. THE RETURN FROM THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY (536 B.C.) AND THE CONSEQUENT LAYING OF THE FOUNDATIONS
OF THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM
The restoration was not begun, but was finished by Ezra in 467 B.C. In accordance with the Edict of Cyrus (536 B.C.) many of the Israelites returned from Babylon and laid the foundations of the Temple. `Ezra 4:24`, however, states that the work then "ceased unto the 2nd year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia." The length of time from the Edict of Cyrus in 536 B.C. till the end of the 70 weeks in 36 A.D. is 572 years. Accordingly, the date in the Gospel Age which corresponds with 536 B.C. is 1881 minus 572, equal to 1309 A.D. This year is of importance as marking the first year of what is universally known as the "Babylonian Captivity" of the Papacy at Avignon, which is generally recognized as forming the foundation of the Reformation. It is curious that the year 536, which in the Jewish Age concluded the Babylonian Captivity of the Israelites, corresponds with the year 1309 in the Gospel Age, which began the "Babylonian Captivity" of the Papacy. [May we not reverse the form of this statement and say that it rather marked the first favorable condition for the liberation of the Truth, which had long been in bondage to Papacy? --Editor.]
Archbishop Trench in Medieval Church History, p.275:-- "Then in 1305 the French king contrived that the choice should fall on one who had so sold himself to carry out the wishes and policy of France that he did not feel anywhere safe from popular indignation except on the northern side of the Alps and under the protection of him whom he had engaged to serve. After a brief residence at Bordeaux and then at Poitiers, Clement V. fixed his seat at Avignon. There from 1309 to 1377 he and six following Popes resided. The 'Babylonish Captivity' is the name by which this voluntary exile in a foreign land with a servile dependence on a foreign power, which this exile entailed, is often designated, the name having been suggested by the 70 years or thereabouts for which this exile endured. The Popes could no longer be regarded as independent umpires and arbiters. Nevertheless, they advanced claims to a universal monarchy which stood in ridiculous contrast with their own absolute dependence on the Court of France, a dependence so abject that there were times when the Pope dared not give away the smallest preferment without permission first obtained of the French king."
Professor Lodge in Close of the Middle Ages, p.30:-- "In 1309 Clement V. fixed his residence at Avignon. As long as the Popes continued to live there, they were exposed to overwhelming French influence, and could hardly escape the charge made both from England and from Germany, that they were mere vassals of the King of France. It says much for the vitality of the Papal System that the 'Babylonian Captivity,' as the next 70 years have been called, did not result in the complete loss not only of the Italian Provinces, but of all spiritual authority in Europe."
Workman in Dawn of the Reformation, Vol. I, p.16:-- "The study of the Reformation should always begin with Avignon. The greatness of Luther and Calvin, as contrasted for instance with Marsiglio, Wycliffe and Gerson, does not lie so much in greater zeal, more thorough methods, more logical aim, as in their greater opportunity. The fulness of the time had come."
V. THE REBUILDING OF THE TEMPLE IN THE SECOND TO THE
SIXTH YEARS OF DARIUS
As already mentioned, it was only the foundations of the temple which were laid on the return from Babylon. Building operations were not properly begun until the second year of the reign of Darius Hystaspes, king of Persia, and the temple was finished in the sixth year of his reign (`Ezra 4:24`; `6:15`). Ussher's chronology gives the second year of Darius as 520 B.C., and the various authorities seem to corroborate this by placing the date of his accession in the year 521. According to this, the rebuilding of the temple began 16 years after the return from Babylon. The corresponding date in the Gospel Age is 1325 (equals 1309 plus 16). The greatest work about this time was the publication of a book against the Papacy by Marsiglio of Padua, but all the authorities which I consulted were unanimous in stating that the year of publication of this book was 1324, not 1325 B.C. Accordingly, I was forced to conclude that there was no time-parallel here, or, as seemed more likely, that the second year of Darius was 521, and not 520 as affirmed. I spent several days in searching all the works on the history of Persia to which I had access, and at length my efforts were rewarded. Professor Rawlinson, in his Five Great Monarchies, Vol. 3, p.404, states that Darius mounted the throne on 1st January, 521 B.C.,
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and he then adds in a footnote on page 408, in connection with the statements of `Ezra 5:2` and `Haggai 1:14,15`, that "according to Jewish modes of reckoning" the 24th day of the 6th month of the second year of Darius, would be September, 521 B.C., 8-1/2 months after Darius' accession." There can be no doubt that this is the true explanation, as both Haggai and Ezra would reckon by the ecclesiastical year beginning in the Spring.
The rebuilding of the temple would, therefore, occupy the four years from 521 to 517 B.C., and the corresponding years in the Gospel Age would be 1324 to 1328 A.D. It was in 1324 that Marsiglio published his famous book, Defensor Pacis (Defender of the Peace), and in 1328 he died. In the autumn of the same year the Emperor Lewis, who had been induced to attempt some of the reforms advocated by Marsiglio, deprived of his (Marsiglio's) advice retired from Rome and relinquished the attempt.
Archbishop Trench in his Medieval Church History, p.280, in describing the story of the "Babylonish Captivity," says:--"As might easily be supposed, words bolder than had ever been uttered before, words striking at the root of the Papal system, and leaving none of its prerogatives unassailed, had found utterances during this time; and more ominous than all the rest, these had not come from such as stood avowedly without the Church's pale, but from those within. Foremost among the threatening births of the first half of the 14th century is a book, the "Defensor Pacis," written by a physician of Padua, Marsiglio by name (died 1328), in the immediate service of Lewis of Bavaria. No later hand has traced with a finer historical tact the mundane conditions which first made possible, and then favored, the upgrowth of the Papal power; none has searched out with more unpitiable logic the weak places of the Papal armor. An epoch-making book, Neander calls it; and certain, for good or for evil, it was far in advance of its age; so far, that it is difficult to understand how it could very strongly have influenced its age."
Workman in Dawn of the Reformation, Vol. I, p.80:-- "In June, 1324, with the help of his friend, John of Jandun,--'the two pests,' as the Pope called them, 'from the abyss of Satan'--he wrote his great work in the incredible space of two months. Two years later, in the summer of 1326, he joined himself to Lewis. He became the leader in a band of visionaries who urged the emperor on in his struggle with 'the great dragon and old serpent,' John XXII. In treatise after treatise, both Marsiglio and Ockham criticised the nature of the Papal power, denied its claims and demanded the restoration of secular supremacy." Page 85:--"The works of Marsiglio give us in clear outline the ideals which now regulate the progress of Europe. The bolts which he forged have shattered the doctrine of divine right and the temporal claims of Papacy. In his emphasis of the value of Scripture, though the hand that wrote was the hand of Marsiglio, the voice seems the voice of Luther: in his call to the laity he foreshadowed Wesley: in his views as to the rights of separate congregations, he was a forerunner of the Independents."
Professor Lodge in his work, The Close of the Middle Ages, p.98, speaking about the struggle between the Emperor Lewis and Pope John XXII., says:--"No previous contest between the rival heads of Christendom
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had produced so much literature, or literature of such merit and significance. Michael of Cesena, the General of the Franciscan Order, John of Jandun, and William of Ockham, the 'Invincible Doctor,' exhausted the subtleties of the scholastic philosophy in their championship of the imperial position against Papal pretensions. Above all, Marsiglio of Padua, in his great work, the Defensor Pacis, examined with equal acuteness and insight the fundamental relations of the spiritual and secular powers, and laid down principles which were destined to find, at any rate, partial expression in the Reformation. This outburst of literary and philosophical activity was due in great part to the fact that for the first time in the long strife between Papacy and Empire, the struggle involved doctrinal ideas. Hitherto, the contest had been between Church and State, and the Church had been for the most part united. But on the present occasion the Church was profoundly divided. In spite of all the advantages on the side of the Emperor, the quarrel ended, not exactly in a Papal triumph, yet in the complete and humiliating discomfiture of Lewis. Doubtless the personal character of the Emperor contributed essentially to this result. He could take strenuous measures under the influence of a stronger will, but when he lost his adviser, Marsiglio, his habitual irresolution and his superstitious dread of excommunication returned upon him. In January, 1328, he was crowned Emperor by two bishops who had been excommunicated. In May, Peter di Corvara, a Franciscan friar, nominated by the Emperor, and accepted by the acclamations of the citizens, assumed the Papal title as Nicholas V. Lewis had committed himself to an enterprise which he had neither the moral nor the material force to carry through. He retired to the Ghibelline strongholds in the north, accompanied by his Antipope. The Roman populace, with characteristic inconstancy, expelled the imperial partisans, and opened their gates to the Orsini and the Neapolitan troops."
The following extract from Poole's Age of Wycliffe, p.28, indicates some of the chief thoughts in Marsiglio's teaching. "Marsiglio's chief work, the Defensor Pacis, was written in 1324, while he was still at the University of Paris. He taught Republicanism. The community of all the citizens or their majority, expressing its will either by elected representatives or in their assembled mass, is the supreme power in the State. The people must choose a ruler, but to the hereditary principle he will make no concession whatever. The name Church belongs to the entire body of Christian men. It is intolerable that its prerogatives should be usurped by the sacerdotal order. Excommunication, for instance, cannot rightly be decreed by any priest or any council of priests. The verdict belongs to the community of the faithful. The power of the clergy is entirely restricted to spiritual affairs; it can only be given effect to by spiritual means. Of heresy as such there is but one judge, Jesus Christ, and his sentence is in the world to come. Errors of opinion lie beyond the cognisance of human judicature. In the New Testament, bishop and priest are convertible designations of the same persons, and the popedom is a later institution of which the historical growth is clearly traceable. St. Peter had no authority over the other apostles; but even supposing he had, it is hazardous to assert that he communicated it to his successors in the Roman See, since we cannot say for certain that he himself ever visited, far less was Bishop of, Rome at all. The Pope in his quality of Christian Bishop can claim no right of supreme judgment
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in human things, even over the clergy. The keys of St. Peter open and close the door of forgiveness, but forgiveness is the act of God, determined by the repentance of the sinner. The Turnkey is not the Judge. Marsiglio goes through the standard arguments in favor of the Papal assumptions, and rejects them one after another, partly by his resolute insistence on a rational interpretation of the texts of Scripture, partly by the essential distinction between the sacred calling of the priesthood and their extrinsic or worldly connections. My kingdom is not of this world. The ministers of the Church should be supported by those to whom they minister, but only in the necessaries of life; but no one of the faithful is bound by Scripture to pay them a tenth or any other
B.C. 536 Return of the Israelites from the Babylonian Captivity to restore the Temple at Jerusalem. Only the foundations laid. (`Ezra 1:1-3`; `3:10`.)
B.C. 521 Restoration of the Temple in 2d to 6th years of Darius (`Ezra 4:24`; `6:15`).
B.C. 467 Ezra's commission in the 7th year of Artaxerxes to restore vessels to Temple. (`Ezra 7:7,19`.)
"Babylonian Captivity" of the Papacy.
A.D. 1309 The beginning of what is known as the "Babylonian Captivity" of the Papacy at Avignon. Generally recognized as the foundation of the Reformation.
A.D. 1324 Publication by Marsiglio of Padua of the "Defensor Pacis."
A.D. 1378 The year of the Great Papal Schism which caused Wycliffe in same year (1) to come out as the Reformer, (2) to translate Bible into English, (3) to renounce transubstantiation.
The Seventy Weeks--490 Years.
7 Weeks B.C. 454 Nehemiah's commission in 20th year of Artaxerxes to rebuild walls of Jerusalem. (`Neh. 2:1`.) Troublous times.
A.D. 1391 Year when Hus became acquainted with Wycliffe's writings. He carried Wycliffe's teachings into effect. Troublous times.
62 Weeks B.C. 405 End of the 7 weeks, followed by more favorable times.
A.D. 1440 Invention of printing followed by more favorable times.
70th Week A.D. 29 Advent of Messiah as Prince.
A.D. 33 Crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
A.D. 36 Beginning of the casting off of the Jews at end of exclusive favor to Jews.
A.D. 1874 Advent of Messiah as King.
A.D. 1878 Resurrection of the Saints. Beginning at Berlin Congress of return of favor to the Jews. Beginning of the casting-off of the Church.
A.D. 1881 End of exclusive favor to Church.
A.D. 69 Destruction of Jerusalem and of Jews' national polity.
A.D. 1914 Full loss of favor to Christianity.
A.D. 70 Full loss of favor to the Jews, and anarchy.
A.D. 1915 Destruction of nominal Christendom in anarchy. Full return of favor to the Jews.
part of his income. The clergyman might well supply his needs by other means, as by handicraft, after the example of the apostles. But now that the Church has been enriched by ample endowments, the question arises, To whom do these belong? Marsiglio replies that the property can only belong to the person or persons who gave it, or to the State. Nor can the clergyman claim the entire use of it: he is the administrator of a Trust, and what is left over after his daily food and raiment are supplied, must be distributed to the poor. Wycliffe was seen by Pope Gregory XI. to be the successor of Marsiglio."
I have given this somewhat fully, as it is so much in line with our own views, setting them down in the order in which they occurred to me in the course of my investigations. On reviewing them, I feel more certain than ever that the hand of God has been in the affairs of men. Such correspondencies could not be due to chance.
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Prior to 536 B.C. and 1309 A.D., fleshly and Spiritual Israel were completely in the power of Babylon, but these years marked the turning-point, and then step by step the Great Reform went on. The people had been punished for their sins, but now God was beginning to bestow his favor upon them for a season in order to prepare them for the Messiah. Each of the items noted above was a distinct step in the reformation of Jews and Christians. So much for the beginning of the 70 weeks. The events at the end of the 70 weeks are detailed in DAWN II.
The prophecy of the 70 weeks does not, however, indicate when the final overthrow would take place, and, except for the reference to the seven weeks, no mention is made of any events in the interval between the commission of Nehemiah and the 70th week. In line with this, we find that the historical canon of the Old Testament ends with Ezra and Nehemiah. It is evident that God did not intend to indicate the Lutheran movement in connection with this prophecy. This might have appeared strange to me had I not formerly seen that this movement was typified by the division of the Kingdom of Israel on the death of Solomon. All the above stages of reform were in the Church, but Luther's reform was a complete revolt, resulting in a division of the Kingdom, and was, therefore, best represented by the division of the typical Kingdom of Israel before its final overthrow by Nebuchadnezzar.
Dear Brother, I shall be glad to hear what you think of these time-parallels. So far as I can judge at present, they seem to me to be very conclusive, and have helped to confirm me very strongly in the opinion that your views regarding the times are correct. I feel convinced. The "Truth is mighty and will prevail."
Yours in Him, JOHN EDGAR.
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Below we give an outline chart built upon the Bible chronology presented in MILLENNIAL DAWN and embodying our original "Chart of the Ages." It presents additionally several new features, "parallels," which no doubt will be both interesting and instructive. It is by Bro. U. G. Lee.
THE TWO MINISTRATIONS
If the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. `2 Cor. 3:9`.
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THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD.
--`JOHN 20:31`.--JUNE 25.--
Golden Text:--"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name."
OUR Golden Text is a very appropriate one for a review lesson, preparatory to a new course of studies in the Old Testament. We have been considering the testimonies of the Evangelists respecting the words and mighty works of him who spake as never man spake, and who, as the finger of God, as a small manifestation of divine power, cast out devils, healed the sick, awakened the dead. John sums up the object, the purpose, of these records, saying that they were written to the intent that we might believe on Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.
Some in our day, totally misunderstanding the divine plan with reference to human salvation, would be inclined to say--What difference whether we believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, or believe merely that he was an ordinary man, a wise and good man, the son of Joseph? Would not his conduct and teachings be just the same in either event? And is it not the teachings of Jesus and their moral influence that we seek as a power over men rather than any faith in him? What is the value of faith anyway? is it not works that we wish? If a man have good works without faith would he not be just as acceptable to God as if he had
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faith? In what way would faith profit or benefit any?
We answer that this is human reasoning merely, and that it ignores the divine plan and record, which is to the effect that "without faith it is impossible to please God." It seems strange to some--impossible to believe this Scriptural declaration--to accept the fact that an imperfect man with faith is acceptable to God, while the best man in the world without faith would be unacceptable. Nevertheless, this is the divine arrangement respecting the work of God which he is accomplishing during this Gospel age.
KNOWLEDGE AND WORKS BY AND BY.
The Scriptures indicate to us that by and by the knowledge of the Lord shall be so complete, so fill
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the earth, that at that time the word faith will have practically lost its present meaning, knowledge taking the place of what is now termed faith. In that time knowledge and works will be what the Lord will require of mankind. All the avenues of knowledge will be open to the human family, the knowledge of the glory of God will fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep, and with that knowledge obedience will be required --obedience to the extent of ability, and increasing ability will be the reward of every effort until, at the close of the Millennial age, all who will may actually have attained full perfection of human nature that was lost in Eden. That will be the age of works, as we read in `Revelation 20:12`. The whole world will stand on trial for life eternal, and their judgment will be in harmony with the principles already enunciated in the Word of God, and the decision will be "according to their works"--not according to their faith, as it is with us in this Gospel age.
During this Gospel age the Lord is seeking a certain class able to exercise faith, a class whose conduct will be largely influenced by their faith. It is this class that is addressed throughout the Scriptures, and their faith is continually appealed to as in our text--"These things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God." The Apostle declares that God's method of dealing seems foolish to the world-- "It has pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." The world thinks it strange that believers should be saved on account of their belief rather than from the standpoint of works. But whoever wants to avail himself of the present privileges of this Gospel dispensation must accept the Lord's terms or none. It is he and not the Evangelist who has decided that faith is an essential. First, before we can come to God, we must believe that he is and that he will reward those who seek him, those who desire to come into heart-relationship with him. Whoever cannot thus believe in advance is barred from coming to God at all in this present time. If he exercises faith to this extent he may go on to still greater and deeper and broader faith.
To him who seeks to thus approach God in fellowship, the Lord is pleased to point out that sinners can have no relationship to him except they come through the appointed Mediator who redeemed us with his precious blood and made possible our reconciliation with the Father. If the believer accepts this as the divine provision he may rejoice in the thought that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he rose again on the third day for our justification. If he cannot believe this he must stop just where he is-- he finds no access into divine favor and fellowship. He may find access into errors and false doctrines, but he can find no fellowship, no assistance from God, no correct information respecting the divine plan. If he takes this step, accepts Christ through faith, then he may have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Still, faith will be necessary if he would go on. To the justified believers during this Gospel age God has been pleased to make known further riches of his grace, namely, the call of the Church to joint-heirship with the Lord in his Kingdom, "If so be that we suffer with him that we may also be glorified together."--`Rom. 8:17`.
But this inspired hope can only be ours to the extent that we exercise still further faith in God, in his love, and in the messages which he has sent us through his Son and through the apostles and prophets. Even if these be accepted, and we have thus "access into the grace of God wherein we stand, hoping for the glory of God," it will be necessary for us to still exercise faith in order to make progress in the narrow way thus entered and to ultimately attain the glory, honor and immortality promised. Thus it is written, "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life," and again, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even thy faith." So we see that faith marks every step of progress for those who are the called according to the divine purpose during this Gospel age.
PARTICULAR FAITH NECESSARY.
Another mistake frequently made is to suppose that the faith which God requires is a vague and indefinite one--anything. On the contrary, the Scriptures delineate very particularly the kind of faith acceptable to God. We have already shown as a first prerequisite a faith in the personality of God and in his willingness to be approached by his creatures; second, a faith in him, that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life, by whom alone we can approach the Father. Our text emphasizes this thought of a particular faith, declaring that the faith must be that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. What is implied in this thought, the Christ the Son of God? It means more, far more than a mere belief that Jesus lived and Jesus died, a man of Nazareth. The word Christ signifies Messiah and Messiah signifies God's anointed king. For four thousand years the Lord has been making gradually known to mankind through the prophets and apostles that he will ultimately establish a Kingdom of righteousness in the earth, "under the whole heavens." That through this Kingdom for which we pray, "Thy Kingdom come," all mankind are ultimately to be blessed and righteousness established in the earth upon a sure footing, and all sin and iniquity be overthrown, and this Kingdom is to be under the control of Messiah, the great King, the divinely appointed Ruler. The thought of our text, then, is that Jesus must be recognized as more than a man who died; he must be recognized as the long-promised King of the world and as the Son of the Highest.
MESSIANIC HOPES INSPIRING.
To be without any hope of a future would make the present existence terrible; to think of death as ending all would be to rob life of its chief blessing and hope. Fortunately but few of mankind are in this absolutely hopeless condition; but to attract attention away from the divine plan, and its reasonable and efficient hopes and promises respecting the Millennial Kingdom, and the blessing under that Kingdom of every nation, people, kindred and tongue, seems to have been the
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object of the Adversary. He has introduced false hopes which can never appear to mankind to be thoroughly reasonable because they are most unreasonable--the hope on the one hand that they do not die and on the other hand that they go to heaven when they die, the hope that death does not mean death. These fallacious hopes are delusions which may satisfy the mind temporarily, but which in the end, with all who will reason, must prove unsatisfactory.
The only faith that will stand the test and bring us off conquerors over the spirit of the world, the flesh and the Adversary, is the hope set before us in the Gospel, of which Jesus as the Messiah is the center. That is the hope of the world--the hope that Christ having redeemed the world with his precious blood will grant, in due time, a blessing of opportunity to every creature, that whosoever will may come through knowledge and obedience to life eternal and that the disobedient shall be destroyed in the second death. A further part of this hope of which Jesus, the Messiah, is the center, is that those who are now called, the obedient through faith, shall be joint-heirs with the Master in the great Kingdom which shall bless the world. No wonder the Apostle said of this Messianic hope, this Kingdom hope, "He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure."
LIFE THROUGH BELIEVING.
The Apostle in the latter part of the text pursues this thought of the necessity of faith, saying that the believing ones may have life through the name, through the power, through the authority of this Messiah-- by virtue of the work which he has accomplished for them and the door of opportunity which he has opened to them. The unbelieving have no such door of opportunity now. Thank God there will be a glorious opportunity of another kind for them in a coming age, but they are barred by their unbelief from participation in God's favor now, because the present salvation is based wholly upon this as a condition--faith in Jesus as the Messiah.
Believing is not only the precedent to the life to come, to be attained at the resurrection, but it is also precedent to a proper life in the present time. Indeed it is a very easily discerned principle that whoever would be accounted worthy of a part in the first resurrection must begin the new life in the present time and have his trial here. In other words, unless we are begotten of the Spirit now to newness of life, unless we be risen with Christ to walk with him in newness of life, unless we develop as new creatures, we will never be fit for eternal life, which is offered to us as a reward-- life with our Lord, glory, honor and immortality. How essential then it is that we have faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God; how necessary that this faith work in us to will and to do God's pleasure, that our
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faith be so living, so real, that it will influence the entire course of life, transforming us by the renewing of our minds and sanctifying us to the Lord and to his service, changing us from glory to glory, in the likeness of the Lord, and generally making us meet, fit, for the Kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him.
The Apostle in the beginning of the Gospel age referred to the Jews, and remarked that as a nation they had from the Lord much advantage every way over other nations and peoples, chiefly in that to them were committed the oracles of God, a knowledge of the divine plan, even though that knowledge were more or less vailed in symbols and scattered in mysterious statements. But accepting that as a fact, what can we say of Spiritual Israel? Certainly we can say that she enjoys much advantage every way, not only advantages over and above those possessed by the heathen, but advantages over those possessed by the Jews. To us the oracles of God are no longer vailed and hidden, but open by the grace of God through the holy Spirit. We can see a depth of meaning and beauty in the words of the Law and the prophets that the Jews never discerned, for we are guided into these by the inspired explanations of the Lord and the apostles and by the illumination of our minds through the holy Spirit.
And if this be true in respect to the Gospel age in general, what shall we say of the special advantages and privileges and unfoldings of the divine Word accorded to us who are now living in the end of this age-- to us who now have the convenience of the Word of the Lord in printed form, with marginal references, concordances and various Bible study helps? What advantage have we? Much every way, we reply, even over the believers of the early Church.
If of these early Christians it was required that their faith should bring a corresponding life, as of those risen from the dead, seeking the things above, much more should this be true of us who now with still greater knowledge of the divine plan should have a still larger and fuller appreciation of the grace of God in Christ, and a still fuller desire to live the new life and to ultimately be accounted worthy of the new body in the resurrection, and that the new life should be made everlasting. By the grace of God, dear brethren and sisters, let us attain to this which has been placed within our grasp. As the Apostle says, let us lay aside every weight and every easily besetting sin and let us run with patience the race set before us in the Gospel: Looking unto Jesus the author of our faith who will also be its finisher. We have been studying the various experiences of our dear Master, and now we are to remember that we are called to walk in his steps, to suffer with him that we may also reign with him. Every feature of his experiences should be profitable to us and any victory of his should give us more courage, realizing that greater is he that is for us than all they that be against us.
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BOASTERS DEFEATED, PRAYERS HELPED.
--`2 CHRON. 32:9-23`.--JULY 2.--
Golden Text:--"With us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles."--`2 Chron. 32:8`.
THE International Sunday School course of Bible studies now changes from the New Testament to the Old. The present lesson relates to one of the severe experiences that came upon the people of Judah under the reign of good King Hezekiah. Hezekiah's father, the notoriously wicked king of Judah, lacking faith in the true God, had introduced the idolatries of Moloch, had closed the Temple against divine worship, and in every way endeavored to lead the minds of the people into the idolatrous ways of the surrounding nations. Doubtless he reasoned that, as Israel was once a mighty nation yet had latterly made much less progress than the nations round about that were idolatrous, this should be understood to mean that idolatrous nations would prosper the more. He did not see what we see in this matter, namely, that God was not dealing with the surrounding nations, the heathen nations, but allowing them to take practically their own course, interfering with the same only as it impinged upon the features of his plan and upon the Jews, his peculiarly favored people. He did not realize that the covenant entered into between Israel and God meant great blessings for them if faithful, and implied corresponding tribulations if they were unfaithful, and that their measure of unfaithfulness had been the cause of their lack of prosperity.
SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS FOR SPIRITUAL ISRAEL.
While recognizing this truth respecting natural Israel, we should guard our minds against expecting temporal blessings as a reward now in respect to Spiritual Israel. God's promises to natural Israel were the temporal blessings on condition of their hearty obedience to his requirements. But the blessings he promises to Spiritual Israel are the spiritual kind--not temporalities. Hence, when we find that while seeking to serve the Lord faithfully we are not prospered in temporal matters, we should understand that in some way which the Lord sees he is overruling our temporal adversities for our profit in spiritual things as his Spiritual Israel, his New Creation. The failure to see the differences between the promise of earthly blessings, physical health, etc., made to natural Israel, and the blessings of spiritual favors, spiritual health, made to Spiritual Israel, has been the occasion of much confusion and stumbling to some of the Lord's people. Let us not so stumble.
Hezekiah, at the death of his father Ahaz, attained dominion over a nation already considerably impoverished; because Ahaz, failing to have the Lord for his counsellor, after making various blunders endeavored to enter into a compact with the surrounding nations. Toward the north were the Philistines, who had triumphed over him on several occasions, taking possession of much of his territory. He also feared the Egyptians, and for his protection he made an alliance with the king of Assyria, becoming a vassal king, paying tribute annually to the king of Assyria to protect him from his closer neighbors, his enemies. Thus the kingdom not only lost much of its independence, but much of its wealth and considerable of its territory; and instead of the Moloch worship advancing the national interest, as had been hoped for, the Lord, true to his covenant, had allowed troubles to greatly increase against his covenant people. We thus see that Hezekiah and the whole nation were greatly handicapped by the idolatrous course of Ahaz.
Shortly after Hezekiah took the reins of government and instituted the true worship of God at the Temple, abolishing the idolatrous worship of Moloch, etc., blessings began to flow upon him and upon the nation according to the same divine covenant. He longed to rid himself of the exactions of the Assyrian compact, and the favorable opportunity seemed to arise when Assyria was at war with Babylonia. He neglected and refused to send the annual tribute, in this going contrary to the counsel of Isaiah the prophet, and showing that although loyal to the Lord he was not without self-will. No doubt the trouble which speedily followed chastened the king and prevented his becoming more self-willed, more arrogant, less to the Lord's pleasement.
The Assyrian king, vanquishing the army of Babylonia, turned to punish the people of Judah and other surrounding nations which had withheld the tribute. The march of Sennacherib's army meant destruction and captivity to many small cities and towns on his route toward Jerusalem. Sennacherib's own account of this invasion was written upon what is commonly known as the Taylor cylinder, now in the British Museum. After an account of his triumphs over Syria, Egypt and Philistia,
SENNACHERIB GIVES THIS ACCOUNT.
"And Hezekiah, the Judaite who had not submitted to my yoke--forty-six of his fenced cities and fortresses and small towns in their vicinity without number...I besieged and took, 200,150 persons,
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small and great, male and female, horses and mules, asses, camels, large cattle, small cattle, without number, I brought forth from the midst of them, and allotted as spoil. As for himself, like a caged bird in Jerusalem his capital city, I shut him up. Forts against him I constructed, and any who would go out the city gate I caused to turn back....Fear of the luster of my sovereignty overwhelmed him...Thirty talents of gold and eight hundred talents of silver,...great stores of lapis lazuli, couches of ivory,...an immense treasure,...to Nineveh my capital I made him bring; and for the rendering of tribute and making homage, he sent his ambassador."
This was the condition of affairs at the juncture represented in our lesson. Sennacherib's army had
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prospered greatly, and Hezekiah at Jerusalem realized himself powerless to oppose such an army. The inhabitants awaited in dread the storming of the capital city, with prospects of a siege, famine, etc., for Jerusalem, being hilly and fortified, was prepared to stand a siege for some little time. In great haste King Hezekiah made up a large sum of money, estimated at about $600,000, or, in proportion to the purchasing value of the present day, the equivalent of about 6,000,000 dollars in gold and in silver. This was sent to Sennacherib at Lachish as tribute money, hoping thereby to turn aside the king's wrath and to restore the conditions of peace, and to at least save the capital and the remainder of the nation. Sennacherib took the money, but slacked not to make preparation for the utter destruction of the whole country, purposing, we are informed, the carrying away captive of all the people. The coming of the Jewish representatives with this treasure money to Assyria was represented in bas-relief on the walls of his palace at Nineveh, and this portion was cut out and transferred to and is on exhibition at the British Museum. It is interesting to note the complete harmony between these records and those of the Scriptures. The Bible, we hold, is the reliable history of the world, preserved to us by divine power; but it is pleasant to have such corroboration from other sources.
Although the present was sent to Sennacherib at Lachish, that city stood a siege, and Sennacherib himself remained with the army besieging it while he sent three of his chief generals and some of his principal warriors and paraphernalia to Jerusalem to accomplish its captivity. Realizing that the city could stand a considerable siege, and desiring to hasten matters, especially as there were rumors of an Egyptian army coming against Assyria, these generals attempted by intimidation, boasts, etc., to terrorize the people of Jerusalem, so that a sedition would be formed within the walls and overcome the king and his faithful and open the gates to the invaders, hoping thereby to be spared from the terrors of a siege, and from perhaps severer treatment at the hands of the captors if the city required to be taken by force of arms.
They did not in those days have rifles or cannon, but came to close quarters using arrows, spears, etc. Many of the people of Israel gathered upon the wall, some of them no doubt soldiers armed with bows and arrows, spears, etc., to defend the walls, but in the presence of so mighty an army there was evidently a fear to attempt to arouse its ire. The generals of Sennacherib took advantage of the situation, and sought to impress upon the soldiers and others within their hearing the uselessness of such destruction of life as would be involved in a siege, and assured them that other nations round about had succumbed, and that it would be foolish to think that they could withstand so mighty an army, so great a general. They pointed out the fact that other nations had gods in whom they trusted also, but that none of these were able to deliver them, and that the people of Judah should not be deceived and be persuaded by Hezekiah that they had the slightest hope of deliverance, nor should they believe that their God could accomplish more for them than the gods of other nations mightier than they. The Hebrew language was used, in order that the people might understand the proposition, and undoubtedly a great influence was effected; yet the people remained calm and obedient to their king, to whom Sennacherib's representative sent a letter expressing the same sentiments--their hope that he was a man of sense and reason, who would not jeopardize the kingdom and his own life also by trusting in foolish hopes, railing also at Jehovah the God of Israel as being no mightier, but less mighty, than the gods of the greater nations already conquered.
OPPOSITION AWAKENS FAITH
Hezekiah had undoubtedly come to deprecate his course in ignoring the advice of Isaiah in respect to the tribute. He was thoroughly humbled now, and the more he heard of the opposition of his enemies to the Lord the more sure he seems to have felt that God would take vengeance upon those who thus railed at him, and so we read, "And for this cause Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah cried to heaven." Their faith grew stronger the more the false gods were brought into contrast with the true.
And is not this true with all of the Lord's people today? While we are in very different circumstances every way as members of the Royal Priesthood, Spiritual Israel, nevertheless it is true that our faith is sometimes helped to shine the more brightly when it is brought into sharp contrast with the errors and falsities around us. This is the right effect of love and faith toward God, which cast out fear and enable us the more earnestly to lay hold upon the exceeding great and precious promises of the Lord. The extremity of Hezekiah and his people became God's opportunity. The blasphemy against God and the comparing him with the gods of the nations became the opportunity for the Lord to show to the contrary, to avenge his own, to deliver his people. In answer to that faith and prayer, yet in full accord with his own foreknown plans, the Lord sent his angel and cut off in death the mighty ones of the
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army of Assyria, so that he returned to his own land with shame. We are not told in what manner this was accomplished --here is one of the peculiarities of some parts of the divine Word, so much is told in so few words. We do not need to think that an angel of the Lord went about through the camp of the Assyrians and smote all the chief men of the army and demoralized it. We may on the contrary very properly remember that the Lord could use as his angel or messenger a flame of fire, a stroke of lightning or a breath of pestilence. The important thing is to recognize that the Lord did it and that it was in answer to prayer. This account of Sennacherib's terrible defeat is not confined merely to the Bible account, which says (`2 Kings 19:35`) that of officers and the bravest of the troops 185,000 perished, the remnant fleeing in wild disorder. Geikie remarks that the hills over which the Assyrians fled received the name of the "mountains of prey," so great was the disaster and so great the spoil left in the hands of the Jews. The poet Byron has given a vivid picture of this Assyrian defeat, from which we cull the following:
"The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold.
* * *
Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green
That host with their banners at sunset were seen.
Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.
For the angel of death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed.
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances uplifted, the trumpets unblown,
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Has melted like snow in the glance of the Lord."
Sennacherib later on was slain in the house of his god by two of his sons, as is recorded in a vailed form in this lesson. Thus did the Lord bring eventually a blessing to Hezekiah and the Jewish nation because of their faithfulness to him, at the same time permitting a chastisement because of temporary neglect of his commands. The Lord's victory doubtless became known as that of Hezekiah, and as a consequence he was honored in the sight of all the nations henceforth.
What a lesson is here for all of the Lord's people of Spiritual Israel to-day! When our proudest, strongest foes seem triumphing over us the most, when they are loudest in their denunciations of the Lord and his promises, is the very time when we should lay hold on the Lord's promises with the greatest confidence. Indeed we give it as our experience that those who are most thoroughly rooted and grounded, whose hopes are most surely anchored within the vail, are those who have been attested through very trying experiences, and have had occasion to call mightily upon the Lord for help, when there was no earthly arm to lean upon. How many have found that the breaking of earthly ties has meant the strengthening of the heavenly ones, that the opposition of the world and the Adversary has meant increase of spiritual favor, because, "Greater is he that is for us than all they that be against us."
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A NEWSPAPER VIEW OF THE WELSH REVIVAL.
Dear Brother Russell:--
Enclosed find a newspaper clipping that may interest you. It is from the March "Review of Reviews," and throws a little clearer light than anything I have yet seen on the "Great Welsh Revival." The statement that it is more a movement toward community reform than individual regeneration, is in line with the wholesale methods of the "New Christianity." The emotionalism which characterizes the movement is, it seems to me, indicative of Satanic influence rather than of that of Holy Spirit, which is peaceable and sane and quiet. Satan's effort among those who are reaching out after truth and godliness at this time, is not, apparently to openly thwart and oppose, but to mislead-- to carry to an excess of emotion where reason is lost sight of. That this is being accomplished by this movement is evident-- and not only among those directly concerned, but throughout nominal Christianity--whose members are pointing to this as an evidence that "the Holy Spirit" is still working in "the churches." `Jeremiah foretells (2:35`) "Yet thou saidst, I am innocent; surely his anger is turned away from me!-- Behold, I will enter into judgment with thee, because thou sayest 'I have not sinned!'"
If I am uncharitable, I want to be corrected--if right in above view, I thought the clipping might strengthen the faith of some (as it has mine) regarding something hard to understand--the apparent success of some nominal church movements--and so submit it to you for use as you see fit.
With Christian love to yourself and all the Bible House friends, I remain,
Yours in the King's service,
HORACE E. HOLLISTER.
SOME RESULTS OF THE WELSH REVIVAL
The weekly edition of the Times, of London, finds the whole movement finely characteristic of the Welsh people, with their emotional temperament, love for music and oratory, and warm-hearted impulsive lives. Summing up his impressions of the results of the revival, the writer in question says:
Suppose we first hear the critic. "Remember," he tells you,--and I well remember,--"the revival of 1858-59. It was as great in fire and extent as this. The chief figure in that revival himself soon lapsed into an unbroken callousness, and his name was not held in honor, while in Cardiganshire, the cradle and center of the movement, a few months revealed a trail of immorality left by the revival, and showed how closely kin are sympathy and sensuality, emotion and lust. Then, as now, the excitement threw many off their balance, and condemned them to end their days in rayless mania. The net result was bad--the people, strung up by an untrustworthy fanaticism, soon fell back into an immovable indifference, and dissent itself was left enfeebled and palsied." Such criticism is in the air. There is some truth, but not all the truth, in such an estimate of the revival, and those who know intimately the mining valleys of South Wales, and, alas, the squalid, brutal lives of many of the toilers, must be profoundly thankful for any influence that can awaken and startle them to the thought and the hope of better things. The weariness of well-doing is the strain under which so many fail. That strain is increased by the unwisdom that confounds innocent amusement with wrongdoing, and regards football and lying as equally heinous. The revival does give an impulse to better things. If its influence wanes and fails, it will be for the lack of that sustained nurture and spiritual discipline which are essential to moral growth. But in spite of all the inevitable failures and lapses, a revival which makes men sunk in ignorance and depravity feel even for one short week the spell and power of a noble ideal cannot and must not be condemned.
The Saturday Review says of it:--
It is clear that a religious conception directs the present movement to which the men of the earlier revivals were strangers. Their minds were fixed on the idea of individual conversion. They rushed to the chapels and field preachings to hang on the lips of a great orator who proclaimed salvation. In the movement of to-day the underlying idea seems to be the public confession of sin, and the salvation not so much of the individual as of the community. In a word this remarkable revival is a protest against an individualistic and sectarian conception of religion, and a struggle to return to a corporate and positive Christianity.