VOL. XXV. JULY 1, 1904. No. 13.
Views from the Watch Tower........................195
Arguments for Christian Unity.................195
The Judgments of the Lord.....................196
Effect of the Eastern War.....................196
The Hamilton Convention...........................197
Universal Anarchy--Just Before
or After October, 1914......................197
The Atonement for Sin--A Scientist's
Praying for Help in Time of War...................202
A Good King's Error...............................205
Report of British Convention......................207
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
ARGUMENTS FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY.
RECENTLY at a Protestant Ministers' Meeting in the Y.M.C.A. building, St. Louis, Mo., the following argument was presented by Rev. Gilbert Dobbs, of the Coliseum Place Baptist Church:--
"The churches of Jesus Christ are confronted by a gigantic problem. Nineteen centuries have passed since our Lord came in the flesh, and taught and wrought and died; nineteen centuries since he arose from the dead and said, 'Go, disciple all nations,' and yet the nations are still stumbling on the dark mountains. Only the apex of the great pyramid of humanity has thus far been brightened and transformed by the Gospel light, a diamond point flashing in the sun. But what about the great pyramidal base, the black carbon of ignorance and superstition and sin and all the marks of a lost and benighted race?
"Nineteen centuries, and only 390,000,000 nominal Christians in all the world, and only 116,000,000 of these belonging to all Protestant denominations. That leaves more than one billion souls absolutely destitute of the bread of life. What a sad commentary on the sloth and strife of Christendom! This is the problem: How shall the great black pyramid be transformed by light? What concentrated energy and fervency must be displayed before the black can be burned out, and the huge mass become, as it were, a colossal kohinoor of divine splendor and glory?
"You remember the part of that remarkable prayer of Jesus recorded by the Evangelist John, where he prays: 'That they all may be one, as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me,' and again he repeats it, 'that the world may believe that thou hast sent me and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.' The great utilitarian purpose of Christian unity is, therefore, that the world may believe....
"We must get closer together. We must cease looking at our denominational difficulties through the magnifying microscope of bigotry and prejudice, and at our essential agreement through the inverted telescope of indifference and selfishness. Of course Christian unity does not mean uniformity. The latter is perhaps not desirable; and at present it is certainly not feasible. It is not one form that we need, but one spirit, a spirit of brotherly kindness and a broad Christian charity. All arbitrary and coercive methods of attaining uniform religious observances are anti-Christian. God's children are freemen, and their service must be rational and voluntary. There is nothing more uniform than penitentiary life. The same shaven face, the same cropped pates, the same stripes, the same dull, slavish tasks. It is not the unity of the prison that we covet, but the unity of the family, where each preserves his individuality, and yet where all dwell together in love, sharing a common life and hope and purpose.
"And just as there cannot be any uniform ritual, so there cannot reasonably be any uniform creed. Of course, we all admit that God's Word is our all-sufficient guide in matters of faith and practice, an infallible and inerrant standard by which we must be led; but as each man must interpret that Word as his mind and conscience shall direct, we cannot expect that all will see alike. The domain of God's truth is so wide, and the various paths of interpretation are so numerous and intricate, and the human understanding is such a complex matter, that all of us may not be expected to traverse the same paths. Perhaps God has so ordained it that every part of his divine truth shall have due emphasis by raising up different schools of interpreters.
"You know the parable of the blind men and the elephant. In describing the elephant one felt his leg and said, 'He is like a tree.' Another felt his trunk and said: 'He is like a huge snake.' Another his ear: 'He is like a blanket.' And still another said: 'He is like a rope,' as he felt his tail. They were all right and all wrong. The part is never equal to the whole. Let us not suppose that our distinctive views are of more importance than the sum total of accumulated knowledge which the whole body of Christian theology sets forth. I think, however, that an occasional ecumenical council for the purpose of discussing in a brotherly manner our doctrinal differences with a view of arriving at a clearer conception of the truth, and the bringing of the various
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denominations into a closer sympathy and affiliation, would have an admirable effect....
"The most inspiring utterance on the subject of Christian unity, aside from the beautiful prayer of our Savior, to which we have made reference, is from Paul. Writing to the saints at Ephesus, he says: 'I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.'
"The argument is this: As the body of Christ is one, and all of God's people are members of that body, made members by the divine Spirit, whose sovereign call they have heard and obeyed; as they all have the selfsame hope of eternal life and the glad expectation of entering into the joys of their Lord, whom they love and serve in common; as they acknowledge but one Lord and master, Jesus Christ, and have exercised the same saving faith in him, and have been brought into his Church through baptism, the one symbol of their renewed nature; as there is but one God who rules over all, everywhere guiding and directing his people by his loving providence, and who has made his habitation in every renewed heart; then ought not all his people endeavor to recognize and preserve this spiritual unity, and live and labor together in peace?
"The Indians speak of friendship as a golden chain. So may all God's people be linked together in the closest ties of fraternal love, and by keeping the golden chain forever bright, we will the best be able to bring a captive world in loving servitude to the feet of our God and Savior."--Times-Democrat.
* * *
The above shows how easy it is to have "a form of godliness and deny the power thereof;" how easy it is to have a form of sound doctrine, but to misapply it!
Neither our Lord nor the Apostle Paul referred to a union of denominations. They preached an individual union with Christ, and a consequent relationship of all justified and consecrated believers to each other in the one Lord, one faith and one baptism.
This union already exists, except to the extent that denominational creed-fences and social usages separate the Lord's sheep. Wherever and whenever the Lord's sheep meet they may and do quickly identify themselves to each other, and the heart union and fellowship and joy in the Lord they experience cannot even be imitated by creedal bonds.
The union of the Church to which our Lord referred in his prayer, "That they all may be one," was this union of heart already and always experienced by the true members of the "one body,"--and additionally he referred to the actual union of all such with himself by the resurrection "change" from flesh and blood to spirit being--to be with him and like him and to share his glory and power and great work for the world, which he mentions just following, viz.: "that the world [during the Millennium] may believe."
THE JUDGMENTS OF THE LORD.
The Scriptures declare that "when the judgments of the Lord are abroad in the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (`Isa. 26:9`), and the coming Millennial age is pointed out to us as the world's Judgment Day; and our Lord tells us that the dead world will be awakened from the death-sleep --"come forth" unto a resurrection [anastasis, an uplifting out of sin and death] by judgments.-- `John 5:28,29`.
Now we have an illustration well authenticated by the Chicago journals, showing one kind of judgments which will prevail during the world's Judgment Day, as follows:--
Julian Renfro, 21 years old, while engaged with three chums at a game of cards, declared his unbelief in a God. He was a "higher critic" of the Ingersoll school and said: "Fellows, if God would demonstrate himself to me in some way--for instance, if he would strike me deaf and dumb, or blind--I might admit his existence." One of the young men was about to reply to the argument when he noticed Renfro turn pale. The next moment the skeptic threw his arms out before him as if warding off a blow, then he convulsively placed his hands before his face. An instant later he fell forward off his chair, and on to the floor. Since that time he has been unable to speak or hear. In writing he afterward expressed faith in the Lord and declares his intention to study the Scriptures, and if the Lord should grant a recovery he hopes yet to preach Christ.
When the time shall come that the Lord's judgments of rewards and punishments will be promptly meted out, and in no uncertain manner, the whole world will be speedily converted and, like this young man, be glad to preach the One once blasphemed. But we must wait for this to become general until the Kingdom class shall be completed and the general "Judgment day" or age fully inaugurated.
THE EFFECT OF THE EASTERN WAR.
The London Spectator, commenting on the recent successes of Japan, in the battle on the Yalu river, says:--
"It is the moral effect upon the world at large which is, and will be, so tremendous as to modify, possibly for all time, the relation of Europe to Asia. Until that battle had been fought the white race, though deeply impressed with the capacity of the Japanese and the devoted courage of Japanese sailors, was still unconvinced that a Japanese army could rival or defeat a European force of anything like adequate dimensions. The pride of the white continent had for three centuries
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seemed to be justified by history, and it created, consciously or unconsciously, a mass of belief which was perhaps the cause of many of its victories, and certainly of much of its daring. The struggle on the Yalu provides precisely the concrete evidence needed to dissipate this confidence. A Japanese army has crossed a mighty river in the teeth of European defenders, and then has marched upon those Europeans entrenched in a splendid hilly position; has driven them out by the close fighting which we still call fighting with the bayonet; has overwhelmed the European fire by the superior weight of cannon and shells made in Japan itself; has captured whole batteries of European guns; has driven European artillerymen in what seems to have been headlong rout: and--most notable fact of all-- has taken hundreds of European prisoners, who have surrendered, not by a capitulation, but while fighting on the field. In other words, an Asiatic Power has arisen which, besides defeating a European war-fleet, is proving itself able to use three great armies of invasion, each sixty thousand strong, with the careful provision, the strategic skill, and the clenching courage of armies directed by the great masters of European warfare."
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THE HAMILTON CONVENTION.
THE One-Day Convention held at Hamilton, Canada, was quite a success in its way. Delegations were present from every quarter of Ontario-- sixty-seven from Toronto, thirteen from Buffalo, about the same number from Brantford, and ones, twos and threes from many points.
The morning session was for the interested only and was not advertised. The attendance was about 400. A praise and testimony meeting for 45 minutes was followed by a discourse on the divine promise,--"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the people of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." (`Isa. 54:17`.) A full report of this discourse appeared in the Pittsburgh Gazette of the day following, and many of our readers thus have it. We still have a few copies of the Gazette and will be pleased to send a sample on request.
The afternoon session at 3 o'clock brought out a closely packed house, chairs being crowded in the aisles and probably fifty persons were seated on the platform behind the speaker. The friends estimated that at least 1,100 were present. Profound attention was given to our discourse on "God's Oath-bound Covenant to Abraham and His Seed." (`Heb. 6:17-20`.) This discourse appeared in full in the Hamilton Times of the next day, and thus reached many more than were able to hear it.
The "Truth" people all looked and felt joyful in the Lord, and, as our train pulled away from the station, about fifty of us joined in singing, "God be with you till we meet again."
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UNIVERSAL ANARCHY--JUST BEFORE OR AFTER OCTOBER, 1914 A.D.
WHAT seems at first glance the veriest trifle and wholly unrelated to the matter, has changed our conviction respecting the time when universal anarchy may be expected in accord with the prophetic numbers. We now expect that the anarchistic culmination of the great time of trouble which will precede the Millennial blessings will be after October, 1914 A.D.--very speedily thereafter, in our opinion --"in one hour," "suddenly."
Our readers familiar with the presentation of the subject given in MILLENNIAL DAWN, will recall that the date, October, 1914 A.D., is very sharply defined by two lines of evidence: (1) The Times of the Gentiles--2,520 years from the overthrow of the government of Zedekiah, the last typical king of the Jews, in 606 B.C.; and (2) the Parallels, both the length and various features of the Jewish and Gospel ages. We have found no flaw in either of these prophetic testimonies, nor do we believe that fault can be found with them along Scriptural lines by anybody. The matter that has just come to our attention is that in counting the forty years' harvest of the Jewish age, from October, A.D. 29, to October, A.D. 69, where the year 70 in Jewish reckoning began, we spoke of that harvest time as ending A.D. 70. This is a correct enough statement, because the full end of 69 A.D. is up to the beginning of 70 A.D. We pointed out that the parallels of time in the harvest of this Gospel age began October, 1874, and will end October, 1914-- at the beginning of 1915, Jewish time.
All these matters stand just as they were--we have nothing to fault or to alter. But in a recent examination of the closing of the Jewish harvest, with a view to closer scrutiny as to what might be expected in the end of the present harvest of Christendom, we noticed that the actual fall of the Jewish polity was not at the beginning of A.D. 70, but towards its close, and at once we perceived that the forty-year harvest ending 69 A.D. closed before the destruction in its fullest sense came upon the typical people. Instantly we thought of the parallel here and perceived, as above stated, that our forty years' harvest, ending October, 1914 A.D., should not be expected to include the awful period of anarchy which the Scriptures point out to be the fate of Christendom. The matter seems so plain and simple now that we wonder that we or our many critical readers did not notice it long ago. The only plausible explanation is that in the divine will our eyes were holden for the time respecting this matter--possibly
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with a view to our expectations that the harvesting opportunities would sooner close, causing our consequent greater zeal in the service.
Looking back to the prophetic testimony respecting the Times of the Gentiles, we perceive that, although the Lord did not give to worldly governments a definite lease of power until 1914, nevertheless our Lord's words, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be filled full," gives the intimation broadly enough that the determined times or years in which the empire of earth would be in the hands of Gentile governments was a fixed one from the divine standpoint. And if, as we believe the Scriptures to teach, Gentile domination was provided for up to October, 1914, it would seem but a reasonable interpretation that divine power for the overthrow of the kingdoms of this world would not be exercised to their dethronement until after the time allotted for their reign had ended--October, 1914.
True, it was to be in the times of these kings that the God of heaven would take from the mountain, without hands [not by human power], the little stone which should eventually smite the image in its feet. True, also, it was to be in the days of these last kings--represented in the toes of the image-- that the God of heaven should set up his Kingdom, which should break in pieces and consume all; but the setting up of that Kingdom we understand has been in progress throughout this harvest time, especially since 1878, since which time we believe that all the overcomers of the Church who die faithful are changed "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," and are immediately constituted members of the set-up Kingdom on the other side the veil. Quite probably this setting up will consume nearly or quite all of the forty years of harvest time apportioned to it; but in any event, the time for the smiting of the image in its feet will not come until October, 1914 A.D., however much trouble and distress of nations may result from the prior awakening of their peoples under the enlightening influences of the dawning of the Millennial morning. Already such distress or perplexity is felt in quarters national, financial and religious.
Our previous expectation was that the anarchistic period would last some three or four years, and in our mental calculations of the opportunities for harvest work, we naturally cut off those years, and the time thus appeared shorter to us. Now, however, we see clearly that for some of the Church there probably remain fully ten years of experience, opportunities, testings, victories, joys and sorrows. Each year, however, we may expect that the signs of the times will more and more demonstrate the accuracy of our expectations both for the Church and for the world. As already pointed out, the harvest dates shown us in the Scriptures are October, 1874, as the beginning of the harvest; April, 1878, as the parallel to our Lord's death; October, 1881, as the parallel to the termination of the special favor to natural Israelites in the sending of the Gospel to the Gentiles, Cornelius being the first; and October, 1914 A.D., as the end of the forty years' harvest. Any other dates than these are purely speculative. We have never set forth any other dates as being presented by the Scriptures. We did indeed call attention to the date suggested by one of the measurements through the upper step of the Great Pyramid's "Grand Gallery," but in conjunction with the suggestion we particularly intimated that it was merely speculative.
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Our estimate of what may be reasonably looked for as the order of events in the next ten years is, of course, based upon what the Scriptures indicate to be coming, and is the result of our endeavor to put together these coming events in their seemingly logical order or sequence. We have already pointed out that the "symbolical image of the beast" began 1846.* We are now anxiously looking for the vitalizing of that image as foretold in `Rev. 13:15`. Our expectation is that this causing of the image to have life, speech and power will have its fulfilment in some pact or union or agreement amongst so-called Protestant denominations, with a sympathetic alliance and cooperation with the Church of Rome. Our expectation is that the spark of life to the organic union begun in the Evangelical Alliance will come from the Episcopal Church, which claims divine authority through apostolic succession--a claim which other Protestant denominations would be glad to be able to make. The Episcopal Church is quite ready to confer the spark of authority and vitality, and we opine that three or four more years will so greatly increase the tendency toward union and toward power amongst Protestants that they will be willing in some form to accept the so-called apostolic ordination and authority. If this be not accomplished by 1910, or evidently be very near to accomplishment at that time, we shall feel a measure of disappointment.
Meantime Socialism (which, although not so intended by its best and ablest leaders, is incipient anarchy, because even its best propositions would prove unworkable under present selfish conditions) will be making strong headway throughout Christendom, and will be causing more and more perplexity to the great, the rich, the mighty, the wise, the influential, according to the course of this world. The quickened "image" will be closely related to the chief captains
*See Millennial Dawn, Vol. III., p. 119.
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of industry, finance and politics, and the dread of Socialism and irreligion and anarchy will draw them more and more closely together and make each the more energetic in support of the other.
As a result of these conditions we may expect an increasing disregard of the rights and constitutional prerogatives of all who are not directly active supporters of the powers that be, political, financial and religious. The freedom of speech and freedom to circulate literature will be greatly abridged, under the plea that such abridgment is necessary for the public welfare, which in some respects will be the truth. Anything not fully in line with the rulers of that time will be reckoned as in opposition; and notwithstanding our disposition for peace, and our good will toward all men of all classes and stations, the WATCH TOWER publications will probably come under the ban with those of Socialism--though their teachings be as opposite as the poles. The period following will seemingly be the time when the door will be closing --and opportunities for service will be increasingly diminished, though opportunities for suffering for the Truth's sake may increase.
The lesson to us each and all seems to be that during the next five or six years we should labor with intensified zeal, because we know that the night is coming wherein no man can labor. How glad we are that in divine providence our lot has fallen in the present time! How glad we are that our eyes have seen and our ears heard the precious messages peculiar to this time! How glad we are that we are permitted even at this "eleventh hour" to engage in the harvest work! How glad we are for the prospect of continued opportunities for service--a little longer than we had previously supposed! How glad we are that, no matter how infinitesimal our talents and opportunities may be, the great Reaper deigns to use us still as his co-laborers, and has provided various instruments by which even the smallest, the weakest, the humblest, may through tracts or books or otherwise engage in the wonderful opportunities of the harvest of this age.
In answer to many inquiries respecting the progress of the work, we take this opportunity of assuring the dear co-laborers that it is progressing greatly. The Volunteers are very energetic and we are continually noting favorable results: some of the Lord's truth-hungry sheep are being found and revived; the Colporteurs are finding more and more a readiness to hear as the people awaken to the fact that their theological professors and ministers and many of the membership of the various denominations are drifting farther and farther from faith in God and in his Book. As the chasm between faith and unbelief widens and deepens, as the higher critics become more and more bold, and the evolutionists more and more assertive, the true sheep are getting to listen more and more attentively for the Shepherd's voice, and to realize that they have been following to some extent false guides and have been too careless of the voice of the Shepherd. Now is the time for reaching these hungry sheep, who if not speedily nourished with the Truth will fall into the evolution theories and the higher critical pit of infidelity.
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THE ATONEMENT FOR SIN.
--A SCIENTIST'S VIEW.--
SIR OLIVER LODGE, F.R.S., D.Sc., of Birmingham University, England, has recently expressed his views on the above fundamental feature of the Christian religion. Such gentlemen in the past have kept their unbelief somewhat secret, but now they are encouraged, emboldened, by the temerity of the "higher critic" infidels in pulpits and seminaries, and are speaking their minds more freely. This man learned in worldly lore, and the trusted educator of many good people's sons, expresses his unbelief in the first proposition in his published article, thus:--
"In the days when the vicariousness of sin could be accepted, and when an original fall of Adam could be held as imputed to the race, it was natural to admit the possibility of a vicarious punishment and to accept an imputed righteousness. In the days when God could be thought of as an angry Jehovah who sent pestilences until he was propitiated by the smell of a burnt-offering, it was possible to imagine that the just anger of an offended God could be met by the sacrifice of an innocent victim....
"As a matter of fact, the higher man of today is not worrying about his sins at all, still less about their punishment. His mission, if he is good for anything, is to be up and doing, and in so far as he acts wrongly or unwisely he expects to suffer. He may unconsciously plead for mitigation on the ground of good intentions, but never either consciously or unconsciously will any one but a cur ask for the punishment to fall on some one else, nor rejoice if told that it has already so fallen.
"As for 'original sin' or 'birth sin' or other notion of that kind, by which is partly meant the sins of his parents, that sits absolutely lightly on him. As a matter of fact, it is non-existent, and no one but a monk could have invented it. Whatever it be, it is not a business for which we are responsible. We did not make the world; and an attempt to punish us for our animal origin and ancestry would be simply comic, if any one could be found who was willing to take it seriously.
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"Here we are; we have risen, as to our bodies, from the beasts; as a race the struggle has been severe, and there have been both rises and falls. We have been helped now and again by bright and shining individual examples--true incarnations of diviner spirits than our own--notably by one supremely bright Spirit who blazed out nineteen hundred years ago, and was speedily murdered by the representatives of that class whose mission it appears to be to wage war against the prophets, and to do their worst to exterminate new ideas and kinds of goodness to which they are not accustomed. Fortunately for the race, they are only able to kill the body; the soul, the inspiration, the germ of a new and higher faith seems forever beyond their grasp."
* * *
Here we see the wretched effect of false doctrine: we see a noble mind poisoned against the Bible and its grand plan of redemption through the death of Christ. The time will come when grand men like this one will be relieved of their blindness. "All the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears shall be unstopped." Thank God! Now we cannot hope to influence such: we cannot hope to antidote the poison of error in those already poisoned, but we do hope to forewarn and forearm and put on guard those not already prejudiced and poisoned. This is our constant aim in this "evil day."
Sir Oliver Lodge will not deny that "pestilences" and other forms of disease--death--have reigned over the world for centuries. He may deny that there is any personal God, and call Nature his God, and thus charge to irresponsible Nature all the evils that afflict men: but so surely as he admits a personal and intelligent Almighty God he must also admit that this Almighty being causes "pestilences," diseases, death, or else that knowing of these he is careless or indifferent to the interests of his creatures. This issue cannot be honestly dodged. The answer is one of the keys to the argument.
The spiteful animosity against the Biblical teaching of vicarious atonement by Jesus for the sin of Adam is undoubtedly engendered by the labyrinth of hateful and unscriptural errors which ever since "the dark ages" has been associated with the doctrine of the vicarious atonement in all the creeds of Christendom.
This wrong view (which has misled many honest minds into opposition to the true view) is briefly stated thus: God became enraged at Adam and Eve for their disobedience and damned them to an eternity of torture, and, still not satisfied, he included all their children
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that should ever be born. Later on Jesus, by his sufferings, caused a cancellation of part of the sentence so far as part of the people were concerned. Or, as some view it, God declared that he would never recede from his anger, would never forgive any, but let all roast forever unless Jesus would suffer for some and release them. No wonder every true man would reject such a conception of God, or if he accepted it would refuse to worship him or to regard him as even an equal with honest manhood. This is not the view of "vicarious atonement" which we defend, nor the one which the Bible presents.
HOW DIFFERENT AND HOW REASONABLE IS THE BIBLE
VIEW OF THE MATTER!
The divine decree is, that absolute obedience to the divine commands shall be required of all and for the good of all. Because all unrighteousness is sin, therefore the decree, "The wages of sin is death"-- to the intent that sin and its attendant misery may not be eternal--to the intent that perfection in holiness, perfection in life and perfection in happiness may forever be indissolubly connected.
With such a righteous indignation against sin, with such a just and holy desire that it might not be perpetual, God made his law and explained it to Adam, and, when the latter had violated that law, pronounced the sentence, and has for six thousand years backed up the forces of nature which executed that decree, "Dying thou shalt die."
Who can find fault with the sentence for original sin as it is expressed in the Bible--a death sentence. No reasonable man could deny that God has the right as well as the power to destroy in death any creature who will not conform to his just and wise law. This is the case as stated in the Bible, exactly. "The sting of death [the sting, or virus, which produces death and all its attendant sufferings] is sin; and the power of sin [to thus sting to death] is the Law,"-- "The wages of sin is death."--`I Cor. 15:56`; `Rom. 6:23`.
The dying processes affected the first perfect pair in every way--mentally, morally and physically. Degeneracy began at once, and once, and of course affected their offspring according to the laws of nature. Nothing can be charged to the dishonor or injustice of the Creator. In every particular he was well within the rights of his position--yea, he was in duty bound to make the condition such that the sinful and imperfect would not live on forever. And so it was that father Adam died "in the day" (the thousand year day-- `2 Pet. 3:8`) in which he became a sinner, and none of his posterity ever lived more than 969 years.
Now, let us not complicate the question by theological "smoke" from the "dark ages," but standing by the simple narrative of the Scriptures,--that "by one man's disobedience sin entered into the world, and death by [as a result of] sin, and so [thus] death passed upon all men, because all are sinners" (`Rom. 5:12`), let us inquire respecting the vicarious atonement
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and its necessity under the conditions set forth in the Scriptures as above.
Granted that God did pronounce a just sentence of death upon Adam, the question is, How could he get rid of that sentence so as to ever grant mankind a resurrection from death to life, and all that was lost by the disobedience under its sentence? God is "unchangeable," he assures us; hence this sentence of the great Supreme Court of the Universe is unalterable, unless it can be shown to be unjust or unwise. Neither of these could be acknowledged and hence the sentence is unalterable.
But could not God devise some method for the rescue of Adam if he so desired? Although human wisdom could see no way, could not divine wisdom and love aid and find a way out of the dilemma? The Scriptures say, Yes; and proceed to tell us that it was in order "that God might be just and the justifier of them that believe in Jesus" that God provided a vicarious atonement (blood atonement) for Adam's sin. Blood-atonement means atonement by the sacrifice of a life to pay for the condemned life.
Now, Professor Lodge acknowledges Jesus to have lived and to have died--there is no dispute as to the facts. The question at issue then is, Did the fact that Jesus died for Adam's sin make his death any the more severe or unjust or improper?
We concede at once that God could not have justly demanded that his Son become a man, and then as a man die for the sins of the one man, who had been sentenced to extinction because of sin, and whose race in his loins at the time of his transgression shared his penalty and would equally share anything done for his relief. However desirable such a result, or however impossible to reach that result otherwise, Justice would forbid such an exaction.
But the case is otherwise stated in the Scriptures, --and their testimony respecting the divine program must be taken as a whole. The Bible account shows that, so far from compelling the great sacrifice, God induced it: he offered the Only Begotten Son a great reward as compensation for the faithful performance of the service. The statement is, that "for the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame." Read carefully the context also.--`Heb. 12`.
As to what the reward or "joy" consisted of, we may draw from the Scriptures very satisfactory conclusions. (1) "Lo, I come to do thy will, O my God. Thy law [will] is written in my heart." This undoubtedly would be the first moving impulse. (2) "He was moved with compassion for the multitude," and said, "The good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." "I lay down my life of myself,--no man taketh it from me." (3) At his resurrection the Father gave him a still higher form of life than he had ever previously enjoyed--life on a higher plane--"far above angels, principalities and powers;"--although he had always been the first and highest of all the heavenly sons of God--"the First-begotten," "the beginning of the creation of God," and who in all things had always had preeminence over others and been next to the Father. Henceforth, as a reward for his obedience, love and zeal, he was made a "partaker of the divine nature" with "life in himself"--a life inextinguishable and needing no supply or sustenance --immortality, in the strictest meaning of that word.
What fault can be found with such a substitution, with such a vicarious atonement for the sinner? Had Jesus been compelled to "suffer for us, the just for the unjust," we might plead injustice. Had he even willingly died for us, but never been raised from the dead, we might have murmured that he was more obedient than the Father was kind. Had he been raised from the dead a man, and not as the Apostle declares, "a life-giving spirit," it would have meant the taking back of the "price," and would have implied also his perpetual degradation to a lower plane of being, because of his obedience to the Father's will. But, as the matter is outlined in the Scriptures, neither of these objections can be urged, for our Lord was raised from death "to die no more--death hath no more dominion over him." He could not die now because made possessor of immortality, "the divine nature," which cannot die, being death proof.
SUFFERING FOR UNWISDOM ONLY?
If it were only the foolish and the wicked that suffered now the Professor's logic would be more apparent: but if a man should expect to suffer for wrong and unwisdom should he not expect to prosper for well doing? But we all know that the wicked often prosper most, and that the good and the pure and the wise frequently suffer; witness the cases of the prophets of old and of our Lord and his apostles, and of all his faithful followers, of whom it is written: "All that will live godly in this life shall suffer persecution." (`2 Tim. 3:12`.) Indeed, is not almost all of the wickedness of the world practised at the expense of the innocent?
How about the pains and death of infants, who constitute nearly one-half of our race: are they suffering for their wrong-doing? If not, for whose error do they suffer? Who gives a better answer to this query than the Bible gives--that they die because they have inherited the weaknesses and blemishes of Adam? The fact is that sin and death are upon our race, and that we are born to their influences.
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Men who think have indeed, as the Professor declares, ceased to concern themselves about "original sin" or "birth sin," but not because a monk invented the thought. They know that they were "born in sin," "prone to sin," and that its bonds are fast upon their every power. They know, if they will but think, that Moses, who first told of original sin, was not a monk. Neither was our Lord, who declared that he "came to seek and to save [recover] that which was lost." Neither were the apostles monks: least of all that logical man the Apostle Paul, whose words we have quoted foregoing.
EVOLUTION THEORY THE PROFESSOR'S SNARE.
The Professor's difficulty and how he fell into it are clear from the paragraph last above quoted. He was too logical to be held long by false conceptions of the atonement as a means of rescue from eternal torture, and in discarding that he discarded the Bible which he believed so taught. Next he was ensnared by human speculation and science, falsely so-called, into the Evolution theory. This is shown by his words, "Here we are. We have risen, as to our bodies, from the beasts."
Illogically and without evidence the Professor is led into Theosophy--into the belief that each man is the incarnation of a previously unknown spirit being. This is evident from the words "true incarnations of diviner spirits than our own." Alas! how liable all of us would be to fall into confusion of thought if we were to reject the divine Word of revelation. How quickly such folly manifests itself, no matter how learned or brilliant the individual!
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The Professor's closing reference to "the germ of a new and higher FAITH" seems peculiar in view of the fact that he appears to have no faith in the Bible, very little confidence in a God of Nature. We are forced to the conclusion that the Professor's "germ of a new and higher faith" is self-faith or self-confidence respecting "reincarnations," and a gradual evolution from microbes to beasts and from beasts to men and from men to gods. Those who can be satisfied with such faiths are welcome to them. As for us, we prefer "the faith once delivered to the saints;" but we want it pure--free from traditions of the dark ages, which dishonor God and insult reason and lead on to such darkness of worldly wisdom as we are here criticising.
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PRAYING FOR HELP IN TIME OF WAR.
--`2 CHRONICLES 14:1-12`.--JULY 17.--
Golden Text:--"Help us, O Lord
our God, for we rest on thee."
OUR lesson relates to the two tribe kingdom of Judah under its good king Asa, the great grandson of Solomon. We have already noticed the tendency to idolatry stimulated by Solomon's marrying heathen women, and then, to please them, introducing their heathen religions. We have seen how only a small portion of the kingdom was left in the hands of Solomon's son Rehoboam, and that true religion for a time was stimulated by the adversities of the government. Nevertheless, idolatry flourished, not only in Israel under Jeroboam, but also in Judah under Rehoboam, and also under the reign of his son Abijah, mentioned in the opening verses of our lesson.
CONFLICT BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARKNESS.
Under all the circumstances one is inclined to wonder whence Asa received his aspirations for righteousness and loyalty to God. We are to remember, however, that the gathering to Judah of many of the religious people of the ten tribes and the Levitical tribe gave true religion a strong foundation in Judah. The heathen religions were fascinating to the people, not only because they were showy, but because they contained a large element of licentiousness, and it is a weakness of the fallen human nature to want to be right and yet to be wrong at the same time --to pretend to be doing good and serving righteousness and exercising the religious elements of human nature, while at the same time gratifying the lower and baser instincts. The entire human family is weak in this direction, as is evident by all the heathen religions of the world. The religion of the Bible is the only one that lifts its standard far above all baseness, and which demands of its followers the highest ideals, as represented in our text for the year,--"Brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are reputable, if there be any virtue, or any praise, think on these things."--`Phil. 4:8`.
Our Lord, in telling us to let our light shine before men, informs us that the darkness will hate the light, that there will be continually a conflict between the two, and that this will cause the "children of the light" continually to walk in the narrow and difficult way. Nevertheless the light reproves the darkness wherever it shines. We may be sure that some such conditions prevailed in the kingdom of Judah when the best people of the whole twelve tribes had gathered in Judah and were letting the light of their faith in God shine before their fellows. The influence of the Truth took hold upon the heart of Asa, and upon his reaching the throne, at the death of his father Abijah, he promptly availed himself of the opportunity to strike a blow at idolatry--to take his stand on the side of the Lord and his Law, which the nation centuries
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before had accepted as the basis of their government with God through Moses.
ASA'S COURSE NOT A PATTERN.
The work of reform consisted in the destruction of the altars erected on various hilltops, at which the orgies of heathendom were practised. These altars were surrounded by groves for the worship of Baal and Ashtaroth by those who affected to be in a large sense worshipers of nature, and groves of trees on hilltops were their temples. Asa not only destroyed these unlawful accessories to a false worship, but he caused a proclamation to be made throughout the kingdom calling the attention of the people to the true God Jehovah, the God of their fathers, and to his Law and all the commandments connected therewith.
Such action on the part of Asa has been misunderstood by many well-meaning Christian people to imply that other kings and rulers in other countries should similarly take active measures for the destruction of all false religion and for the establishment of what they conceive to be the true religion. This has meant religious persecution throughout the past. For instance, in Great Britain, Germany, France, etc., time and again Roman Catholics coming into power have overthrown Protestant worship and persecuted Protestant worshipers, and, reversely, Protestants coming into power have endeavored similarly to persecute Catholics. Sometimes the persecution has been between various sects of Protestants, sometimes between Mohammedans and Christians, etc. Of late years a more tolerant spirit has disposed intelligent people to let each other worship different gods or the same God according to the dictates of the conscience of each. Nevertheless there are many today, who, if they had the power, would feel it to be their duty to emulate the example of Asa, and destroy any and every religion disapproved by their consciences.
Such misapprehensions of proprieties are built upon misunderstanding of the course of Asa and others of his time, who had God's approval in their course of opposing false worships. In order to grasp the situation thoroughly and to see the principles underlying it, we should remember that no nation in the world today occupies the same position toward God that Israel occupied in its day. God chose Israel--the natural descendants of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob--to be his peculiar people, to be his nation. They were thus separated from all other nations of the world, which were accounted heathen. In this his chosen nation God established his Law, and made a covenant with that people by which they were to be obedient to certain directions and to receive from him certain blessings, protection, guidance, etc. It was in harmony with this special arrangement that Asa was properly doing his duty in destroying any and every religious system in his nation contrary to the divine Law and Covenant.
"YE ARE A HOLY NATION."
However, Israel has ceased to be God's people since the time of their rejection of Messiah, and God has not adopted any other nation of earth to be his nation instead of Israel, and he is no longer in covenant relationship with any other nation. Believers in the Lord Jesus, consecrated followers in his steps, are, from the Lord's standpoint, his "holy nation," his "Royal Priesthood"--spiritual Israel. But these do not constitute a nation from the worldly standpoint. They are the embryo members of the coming nation, the Kingdom of God's dear Son, which will be established in power and great glory at the second coming of the Lord and the establishment of his Kingdom. For this reason it would be entirely improper to any king or governor or president or emperor of earth today to attempt to use any such power as that exercised by Asa with divine approval. During this Gospel age the Lord's plan is that his people shall be as lights in the world in the midst of the darkness of sin and error, and that the light which they let shine shall reprove the world of sin, not nationally but individually, so that those who experience conviction of sin and who go on to repentance may become associated with the light-bearers, the Lord's people, and while still in the world and still of the world, according to the flesh, and still bound to it by certain obligations and laws of men, nevertheless as our Lord expressed it, such, from the time they become members of the Royal Priesthood, the holy nation, are not of the world even as Jesus was not of the world, because he has chosen them out of the world.
King Asa built fortress cities in the highways connecting the land of Judah with the outside world, as a protection against attack from Egypt on the south and west, from Syria on the north and east, and from the ten-tribe kingdom on the immediate north. He organized also a militia army subject to call. These preparations for war had the divine approval, but in no sense of the word indicated that we, the antitypical Israelites, should take a similar course. On the contrary, as the Apostle points out, we are to have on the armor of God, the armor of righteousness; we are to fortify our hearts against the attack of spiritual enemies in every direction; we are to note the quarter from which the enemies are to be expected--the world, the flesh, the Adversary. The battles of typical Israel represented or prefigured and illustrated the battles in which we spiritual Israelites are to engage and the victories which we are to win on a higher plane, for we contend not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers and wicked spirits in places of influence.
The ten years of quiet mentioned in verses `1,5 and 6`, in which Asa instituted reforms amongst the people and equipped them for defence, were evidently all needed for the struggle recorded in `verse 9`. Zerah, the Ethiopian, with an army of 1,000,000 men, is supposed by some to have been Osorkon II. of Egypt, who was of Ethiopian descent. Others suppose that Zerah was the general of this king. In the days of Rehoboam the king of Egypt
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had invaded Judah and conquered it, and had taken away from it an immense treasure in gold accumulated by King Solomon, including the solid gold shields which Solomon had hanging from the pillars of the Temple. It is assumed that Judah became practically a vassal nation to Egypt as a result of this war, and that Asa's organization of the nation on a military basis and the erecting of fortifications meant a declaration of independence and a refusal to pay tribute to Egypt, and that Zerah's army was sent to punish him, to bring away more spoil and to reduce the nation again to the condition of a vassal.
KING ASA'S PRAYER FOR VICTORY.
Asa called into requisition his army, which numbered only about one-half that of the invading foe, but his confidence was in the Lord, and he cried unto him in prayer for help that the war might result favorably to the Lord's people, the Jews. His recorded prayer is beautiful for its simplicity of faith:--
"Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, Lord, there is none beside thee to help between the mighty and him that hath no strength: help us, O Lord our God; for we rely on thee, and in thy name are we come against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee."
The Lord blessed the forces of the Jews. The enemy was discomfited, scattered, routed, and pursued through the land of the Philistines, who evidently were in league with them as enemies of the Jews. This was one of the most remarkable victories ever achieved by the Jews over any foreign nation.
Following the custom of Asa and David and Moses, and others of bygone times in Israel, it is the habit of Christian peoples of our day to offer up prayers for success in war. We recall well the prayers that were offered for the armies during the civil war of this country; we remember the accounts given of the prayers of the British and Boers during the recent British war; we remember in the Spanish war the prayers of the Catholics of Spain and of Italy for the success of the Spanish forces, and how the Pope's blessing was given to the Spanish war vessels. We have heard lately of how the Czar of Russia, on learning of the outbreak of the war, repaired to the Cathedral for prayer to God, and how the leading Russian generals have similarly gone to confession and to prayer and for other public recognitions of the Almighty and appeals to him for success to the Russian arms in the present war with Japan. We have seen pictures in the public press of how the regimental standards, flags, are blessed by the Czar and assisting priests, and the telegraphic reports declare that an image of the Virgin Mary, which was taken with the army in wars of long ago that were successfully waged, is to be taken to the far East as a kind of talisman to give good luck to the Russian side of the warfare. How shall we view these appeals? Shall we view them as others do as being on a parity with the appeal of Asa in our lesson? Shall we consider that they are equally appropriate in God's sight and that they are bringing a blessing and victory? We answer, No. The prayers offered for the success of the Confederate armies did not bring them victory; the prayers and blessings upon the Spanish forces and vessels brought them no victory; the prayers of the Boers brought them no victory; the prayers of the French in their war with Germany brought the former no victory; the prayers of the Russians have in no sense of the word stayed or turned the tide of battle as yet.
GOD'S INTEREST AND CARE AND OURS.
We would not be understood as declaring or even implying that God has no interest in the affairs of the world, and that he does not in any measure take a hand in the results of the wars of our time. Quite the contrary. We believe that the Lord's power, especially in this day, especially in this time of "harvest," is supervising and shaping the affairs of the nations with a view to bringing about the grand consummation of the age so long foretold in the Scriptures, which will result in a great time of trouble through a social, political and financial upheaval which will prepare the way for the Kingdom of God's dear Son in its due time. But we deny the propriety of Christians attempting to pray or otherwise direct the Lord in connection with these matters, and the outworking of the divine program, which we cannot fully and clearly comprehend. No nation in the world today is God's nation in the sense that Israel was his people. With no nation in the world today has God made a covenant such as that which subsisted between himself and Israel for the centuries between the giving of the Law at Sinai and the rejection of the Lord at the time of his crucifixion. No nation or kingdom in the world can claim divine authority or right or backing. The title, "Christian nations," is entirely a misnomer, unauthorized by anything in God's Word. All these nations, from the Scriptural standpoint, are "kingdoms of this world," Gentile kingdoms. The Lord acknowledges none of them, but describes them unitedly as great Babylon, which in due time would fall and give place to the glorious kingdom which the Lord has promised--the antitype of the Jewish kingdom under a still more favorable covenant, under a still better Mediator, under a still more grand and glorious king than David or Solomon or any other.
The proper attitude, therefore, for the Lord's consecrated people to occupy is that of neutrals. "Ye are not of this world, even as I am not of this world; for I have chosen you out of the world, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." The fruit which the Lord's people are to bear is not strife and enmity and vain glory, but love, joy and peace in the holy Spirit. This does not mean either that we are to quarrel with the world and seek to bring all mankind to the same position that we occupy. On the contrary, we are to realize that the
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world is of one nature and the Lord's consecrated and accepted ones are of a new nature; that the Lord has not given to the world the same law that he has given to his consecrated ones, and that he is not expecting of the world the same course of conduct that he is expecting of the house of sons begotten of his Spirit, adopted into his family and guided by his Spirit and his Word.
Let the world fight its fight: the Lord will supervise and the results will be glorious eventually. Let us who belong to the new nation, to the new Kingdom that is not of this world, who use no carnal weapons, but the sword of the Spirit--let us fight the good fight of faith, lay hold upon the glorious things set before us, and not only stand ourselves, but help all those begotten of the same Spirit and members of the same heavenly army corps to stand, complete in him who is the Head of the body, the Captain of our salvation. By and by God's loving care over all his creatures will be manifested in the glorious Kingdom of his dear Son, which shall bless and rule, instruct and uplift mankind in general. "The groaning creation" will then be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God--so many of them as will then accept the blessing. Then all will see that God so loved the world as to give his Son to die for us and to thus open the way for his Kingdom blessings.
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A GOOD KING'S ERROR.
--`2 CHRONICLES 19:1-11`.--JULY 24.--
Golden Text:--"Deal courageously,
and the Lord shall be with the good."
JEHOSHAPHAT is noted as one of the best kings in the history of Judah. He was the son of Asa, of our last lesson. He had been reigning twenty years at the time of the events narrated in this lesson. He was a still more vigorous reformer than his father Asa, his record being that he utterly destroyed all the groves where idolatry was practised, the implication being that his father had permitted some of them to remain. Additionally he established the true religion throughout his kingdom, and evidently was zealous for righteousness in every sense of the word. The record certainly shows his reign in the most favorable light.
He got into error through ambition. He made a marriage alliance for his son with the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel of the ten-tribe kingdom--Israel. Doubtless his ambition was that ultimately through this union the two nations might become again united as one under his son. Alas! how many good men and good women have been injured by ambition and expediency. How many parents think more of the earthly prospects of their children than of their real happiness and spiritual prosperity. However good and noble and well intentioned such parents may be, their course in such matters indicates lack of faith in God or lack of submission to his will, without the realization that his arrangements faithfully carried out will mean greater blessing than any other.
ALLIANCES WITH EVIL DANGEROUS.
The ambition which led to the intermarrying with the royal family of Israel led also to fellowship and sociability between the two royal families, and the effect, as might have been expected, was an evil one. "Evil communications corrupt good manners," says the Apostle. A son once asked his mother why she did not permit him to play with certain boys of the neighborhood. She replied
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that she feared their influence over him would be for evil. He inquired why she should not expect that his good example would influence these neighbor boys rather than that their example would influence him unfavorably. By way of illustrating her thought, she requested her son to bring her a tumbler full of clean water and a bottle of ink and a pen. When he had brought these she asked him to put a drop of the ink into the tumbler of water. He did so, and she asked him to notice the clouded effect that even a drop of the ink produced; and then suggested that he put one drop of the water into the ink bottle and note how little change would be manifested. The lesson is a good one: there is a corrupting power in evil, a downward tendency to which nothing in righteousness corresponds, and reversely.
The lesson to us is that we need to "keep ourselves unspotted from the world," and, more than this, to seek divine aid in so doing--to appropriate to ourselves the instructions and encouragements, the reproofs and exhortations of God's Word. A little leaven of sin can affect a whole community; it has a power of self-development in fallen human nature that righteousness does not possess. The more we realize this the more we are led to look to the Lord for the great relief that the world needs, and the more we are inclined to pray as well as to labor that the Lord's Kingdom may come, and that through it righteousness may be established in the world, and the divine will be done eventually on earth as it is done in heaven.
The sociability between the king of Judah and the king of Israel led the former to visit the latter, and on such an occasion the host proposed that he would attempt to retake from the king of Syria a certain city that had once belonged to Israel. He requested his guest, the king of Judah, to accompany him to the battle, which was evidently expected to be a victory. Out of courtesy, and from his desire to cultivate the friendship of Ahab, Jehoshaphat yielded and accompanied him, the result being a disastrous battle from which the king of Judah barely escaped. The Lord, through the prophet Jehu, sent him a message on his return from the battle, saying, "Shouldst
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thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee"--indicated by his ignominious return without any evidence of divine favor especially promised to the kings of Judah so long as they were in harmony with God.
BE YE SEPARATE, SAITH THE LORD.
This whole matter teaches an important lesson for the Lord's people: it is for us to seek first the Lord's will in every matter and to leave to him the direction of our affairs and interests. We should be specially on guard against associations with the ungodly--against fellowships, matrimonial alliances, etc., as between them and ourselves and families. We are not to wonder so much that one of the best kings of Judah should commit such an error, but we do wonder that members of the Royal Priesthood, begotten of the holy Spirit, could ever be so negligent of their relationship to the Lord and responsibility to him and to their children, that they should to any extent follow the course of Jehoshaphat; and yet we well know that those who thus attempt to take the guidance of their own affairs and the affairs of their children into their own hands, and hence to ignore the Lord in the matter, are a considerable number. As we grow in grace and in knowledge, and sometimes profit by our mistakes, we should be more and more free from them and therefore more and more pleasing to the Lord.
The Lord's instruction to the new creation is that we should not only love righteousness, but hate iniquity; we should not only love and fellowship with all who are the Lord's people, but we should strictly avoid the fellowship of those who are not his people, who are enemies of righteousness. This does not mean that we are to hate the wicked, but that, hating the wickedness, we will avoid any fellowship with those who are in sympathy with it, realizing that they are either blinded to the right or ensnared and influenced by the Adversary. What fellowship hath light with darkness, truth with error, righteousness with sin? Let all who love righteousness depart from iniquity: "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord's house."
While thus reproving Jehoshaphat, the Lord graciously mentioned his approval of his course in destroying the idolatrous arrangements and the tendency of the king's heart to seek the Lord. Evidently the experience was a profitable one and led Jehoshaphat to still greater zeal for righteousness, for he went out amongst the people, either personally or through heralds and representatives, and effected a religious revival, bringing the people back to a higher appreciation of the Lord and observance of his statutes. Evidently the king had a very high sense of justice and honor, as indicated by his judicial appointments in all the cities of his kingdom. His message to the judges, "Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons nor taking of gifts." These are grand sentiments, worthy of a saint of this Gospel age! Surely such a king would be a blessing to any people because of his approximation to the divine ideal of righteousness. What may the world hope for when the great king Immanuel--whose right the kingdom is, and who shortly will take it in the name of Jehovah--shall exercise the powers of the kingdom, and with superhuman knowledge and wisdom shall order the affairs of the world in the highest interests of every creature, in accord with the principles of righteousness.
JUSTICE IS THE FOUNDATION OF GOD'S THRONE.
Very evidently the majority of people--even Christians, "saints"--have not sufficiently high ideals respecting justice. The more we realize what a detestable thing injustice is in the sight of the Lord, the more must we strive to exercise ourselves continually along this line. Justice is not so high an attribute in some respects as love, but it is of primary importance, for the adage is a true one that we should be just before we are generous. The Lord's people should make sure that they render to no man in any respect less than is due him in business transactions, in social affairs, in private conversation, in every way. The saint is to go beyond this, and not only be just but generous--to render nothing less than justice to any, and to be willing to accept from others less than he might justly demand if they seemed not so highly to appreciate the principles of Justice.
We are to remember the wide difference that exists between the Lord's people and the world, and are not to measure ourselves with others in this respect. The majority of the world have not been in the same school as we-- the school of Christ--as it is written of the Lord's people, "They shall all be taught of God." As we have been learning in the highest school from the best of teachers for years, it would be strange indeed if we did not have a higher standard both of justice and of love than that which generally prevails amongst men. Let us learn to cultivate justice, let us be diligent students in the school of Christ, that we may be fitted for the graduation tests and thus be accounted worthy to be associated with our Lord as teachers in the great Millennial age school, in which the whole world of mankind shall receive instruction along these lines.
The officers of the court were largely selected from amongst the Levites--the tribe specially consecrated to the Lord's service. Apparently the king could not have acted more wisely in all these matters; nevertheless we are not to expect the kings of Christendom to follow his example and select only consecrated men for judges, court officers, police duty, etc. The kingdoms of this world will by and by become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Anointed, and then undoubtedly during that Millennial period only the consecrated will be granted positions of power, authority or responsibility in connection with
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the government of the world. At present, however, the "god of this world," the "prince of this world," Satan, has largely to do with all the politics of the world, and sees to it that the majority in places of influence and power are faithful to himself.
True, there is today outwardly a good moral tone and a general desire on the part of the public not to be abused or defrauded by those in ruling positions, and a certain amount of decency and order must be maintained and a high standard must be claimed. Nevertheless, we are all witness to the fact that there are various standards of honesty, and that the majority of people both in and out of office have standards that are too low. It is not for us to specially pry into the present condition of things, which rather seems to us to be as good as we could expect, better than we could have hoped, all things considered. We rejoice, nevertheless, that the time is coming when absolute perfection will be secured in the conduct of the world's affairs. God is now selecting his Royal Priests to be his kings and ministers in the administration of the affairs of the Kingdom of his dear Son. Let us be faithful, and learn well the lessons of the present time, that we may be counted worthy a share in this honor.
"JUDGE RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT."
Jehoshaphat's charge to the Levites who constituted this superior court at Jerusalem is grand also. "Thus shall ye do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully, with a perfect heart. And whensoever any controversy shall come to you from any brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the Lord, and so wrath come upon you and upon your brethren." The judging between blood and blood would signify the decision as to the degree of culpability in the event of a murder--to determine,
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as we do today, whether or not the death were manslaughter, accidental killing, or in the second degree--murder unpremeditated or incited by anger or fear--or, third, if it were murder in the first degree, intended, premeditated. Similarly they were to discern which offences were against the common law, which against the divine law, and which against the usages of society, and were to see that justice would be meted out to all. As we think over those conditions of olden time, we wonder how such matters as these-- such evidences that people of thousands of years ago were just, noble, thoughtful, reverential--are regarded by our Evolutionist friends. They seem inclined to think that at that time mankind must have been near the monkey scale of intelligence, but the facts are against them. Here was a king in whose empire justice was no doubt dispensed equally as well as it is with us today in this most favored land at this most favored period.
The closing words of the lesson constitute our Golden Text--"Deal courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good." We commend these words to the Lord's faithful people. Whoever has a duty to perform let him not fear, and while seeking to do unpleasant tasks in a kindly manner, both justly and lovingly, let us fear not man, but rather fear the Lord and be intent on pleasing him. May the words of our mouths as well as the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer!
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REPORT OF THE BRITISH CONVENTION.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Our first British General Convention has come and gone! It brought us much joy in the Lord, and left us with a greater desire to "spend and be spent" in the Master's service. With general consent it is acknowledged that the meetings have been the best we have had in this country. But this was according to expectation, for the convention brought together a larger number of friends than has hitherto been the case, and because all should have more of the holy Spirit now than ever before. The predominant feeling was the love of the brethren for each and all, and with it was the appreciation of the grace of God which produced such a grand result. Each of the meetings added its quota to the good derived from the Convention: the Praise and Testimony, and the Colporteurs' and Workers' meetings being specially helpful. Already we have heard of fresh or renewed efforts as a result of these talks with each other. On the Monday morning forty-three brothers and sisters signified by immersion their consecration to the Lord, and their desire to be accounted worthy to suffer with him. It was a most impressive time as we reviewed with each other our privilege of suffering with the Lord, as well as believing on him. And we rejoiced in anticipation of the "glory to follow."
All the meetings were well attended, and there was the usual eagerness to get as much as possible of the food the Lord provided. The largest contingent of friends came from Glasgow, the most distant place represented. Ireland was represented by Bro. Walker, while England was represented by friends from all parts. We were glad to have Bro. Koetitz with us. It was hard to part, but we all realized that the Lord had given a work to our charge, and that the King's message demanded haste. A good proportion of the Colporteurs were with us also, and to these we bade "God-speed," commending them to the grace of God. We felt the shortness of the time, and the coming of the Kingdom for which we work and wait and there was a greater determination to do all possible for the accomplishment of the work committed to the hands of those who know the Lord.
You and your work were specially remembered. We would have been glad to have had you with us, but we shall hope that, in the Lord's providence, you may be permitted and we may be privileged to have you with us in our next convention. The friends desired me to express on their behalf the gratitude they felt towards the Society.
Your brother in the Lord, J. HEMERY.