VOL. XXII. FEBRUARY 15, 1901. No. 4.
Views from the Watch Tower........................ 67
Men's Hearts Failing them for Fear............ 68
Religious Federation in Unbelief
and Works................................... 69
Resist, Stedfast in the Faith..................... 70
The Lord's Supper................................. 72
First Celebration of the Lord's Supper........ 74
Primary Signification of the Bread
and the Cup................................. 75
The Secondary and Deeper Signification
of the Loaf and the Cup..................... 75
The Celebration in the Kingdom................ 76
Gethsemane--Watching and Praying.................. 77
Items: One Day Conventions, etc................... 66
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
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ONE-DAY CONVENTIONS AND ALLEGHENY MEETINGS.
The Editor has accepted quite a number of invitations for one-day (Sunday) Conventions of late--at points which can be reached by railroad in one night's travel, permitting him to leave Allegheny Saturday night and to get back to his Editorial duties on Monday morning. One of these (D.V.) will be held at Canton, O., Feb. 10, one at Toledo, O., Feb. 17; another at Baltimore, Md., on Mar. 10. These are only local conventions usually attended by friends living within a radius of 50 miles.
But some dear friends from neighboring towns who have come to Allegheny at such times have felt a little disappointment at not seeing "Brother Russell" as they expected. We therefore announce, that hereafter such one-day conventions will be arranged for on only the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Brother Russell may be expected to be at Allegheny on the first and third Sundays of each month, no preventing providence.
VOLUNTEER WORK FOR 1901.
Remarks respecting the new tract "Food for Thinking Christians," No. 52, are favorable: all of our readers seem to consider it well calculated to awaken interest wherever it may be read. We are getting ready large editions for the "Volunteer" service on Sundays near Protestant churches and hope to be ready to fill orders about April 1.
It is time now to prepare by choosing a "captain" and enlisting as many volunteers as may be able and willing to serve. Let your "captain" report to us the names of volunteers, the numbers of churches, the average attendance at these, and his estimate of the quantity of the booklets needed, and the addresses to which they are preferred to be sent.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
NATURALLY enough at the opening of a new century thinking men inquire each other's views respecting the outlook. Naturally enough, too, hopes and fears chase each other through these imaginings, according to the temperaments of the thinkers and their experiences and their light.
The child of God, with his Father's Word of revelation in his hand, surely has much advantage every way over others as he seeks to scan the horizon of the twentieth century. But alas! how few among the millions of Christendom are in this position scanning the future through the glass of divine revelation. The masses nominally assent to the wisdom of such a course, yet will not follow it, confessing themselves "babes" as respects the Bible,--"unskilful in the word of righteousness." (`Heb. 5:11-14`.) Such "babes," realizing their own inabilities, look to their teachers as to nurses, care-takers; and the latter, sad to relate, are fulfilling prophecy in turning away their ears from the truth unto fables,--evolution theories and higher criticism unbelief.--`2 Tim. 4:3,4`.
But the few, the very few, the Lord's "little flock," those who do trust the Lord and search his Word--the very class to whom our Lord declares, "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom" --the very class specified by the Apostle as "taught of God" and guided by his holy spirit to an understanding of his Word--these certainly have much advantage every way; notably as respects the Kingdom, but also in respect to the affairs of the present evil world.--`1 Cor. 2:6-16`; `Matt. 13:11`.
As this class faces toward the sunrise to note the world's prospects for the twentieth century, what a sun-burst meets their eye of faith peering with the aid of the divine glass--God's Word--through the clouds and mists! They see, just beyond the vail, the Lord of Glory ready to take possession of earth's empire, just as soon as the allotted "Times of the Gentiles" shall have run out! They see, with the same eye of faith, the Lord's jewels, his bride, his joint-heir in the Kingdom, mostly with him and waiting now while the remainder of the 144,000 finish their course and make their calling and election sure--passing one by one beyond the vail--changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, to the glorious perfection of the First Resurrection, with its glory, honor and immortality, which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, but which, as the Apostle declares, God hath revealed unto us by his spirit.
Then looking for the world's portion through the same inspired glass and with the same eye of faith they see still other wonders and glories. They see God's (spiritual) Kingdom about to be established in the earth: they see its wonderful provisions of heavenly love,--for justice, equity, righteousness and the resultant blessings of peace on earth, good-will toward men: they see the binding of Satan and every evil principle and thing: they see the release of earth's dead and dying millions from the curse to an opportunity then to be theirs to return to full heart-harmony with the Creator through their Redeemer: they see the channel of this favor to be Christ and that the knowledge of this grace of God is yet to fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep.
Seeing these things their hearts rejoice and their faces are glad;--truly the holy anointing oil, the holy spirit and the blessed enlightenment which it brings them, is the oil of joy which replaces the spirit of heaviness. True, they see also the intervening trials of faith to themselves, and the sharp experiences which lie before them in the narrow way ere the goal is
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reached, and they see with even clearer distinctness than do the worldly-wise the great time of trouble coming upon nominal Christendom; but realizing all these things to be but incidentals preparing the way for the great blessing so soon to follow, they can and do lift up their heads and rejoice in the God of our salvation, saying--"Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."
"What if the clouds do for a moment
Hide the blue sky where morn appears?
Soon the glad sun of promise given
Rises to shine a thousand years!"
But now let us contrast with the above bright prospect the fears and doubts which trouble the wisest of the "children of this world," because they see only with their own mental eyes and lack the hearing enlightenment of the Bible spy-glass. These views have been collated by the New York World, which sent out some time since to prominent people a query respecting their view of the greatest menace to twentieth century progress. Some of the replies are summarized as follows:--
"I believe that ere the twentieth century closes, the earth will be purged of its foulest shame, the killing of men by men in battle under the name of war," says Andrew Carnegie.
W. T. Stead declares that the chief menace to man's progress is "war, which threatens Christendom as the result of ignoring Christian principles in its dealings with one-fourth of the human race which is born inside a yellow skin." Sir Walter Besant fears
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especially the increasing naval armaments, designed "apparently for self-protection," but in reality for aggression; while Lord Charles Beresford regards "the Chinese question" with most apprehension.
In many quarters the greatest menace is believed to be of a social rather than international nature. The Earl of Wemyss states it as his opinion that Socialism is blocking the march of human progress, and Arthur W. Pinero, the dramatist, attacks trades-unionism. Joseph Arch, the English labor leader, retaliates by declaring that "a large accumulation of wealth on the one hand, and a large increase of pauperism on the other" is the growing evil in society; and Samuel Gompers expresses fears for the lowering of the American standard of living, by Oriental competition.
"The greatest political danger of the twentieth century is that the increasing influence of wealth will lead to increasing disregard of the inalienable rights of man," says William Jennings Bryan. President Schurman, of Cornell University, fears most the "exaltation, worship, and pursuit of money as the foremost good of life. The salt that may save us from this blight," he adds, "is to be found in our schools and churches; in every union for a righteous cause; and most of all, in the ideals and aspirations of the noble souls who will not suffer human society to degenerate into a mere brutish struggle for life and the survival of the fittest." President Hadley, of Yale University, finds the threat to the public welfare in "legislation based on the self-interest of individuals, or classes, instead of on public sentiment and public spirit."
Among the ecclesiastics, emphasis is laid on the moral virtues. When questioned regarding coming dangers, the Bishop of Hereford replied, in the words of `Col. 3:5`: "Evil desires and covetousness." The Bishop of Llandaff answered: "Infidelity, anarchy." Cardinal Gibbons says that "the greatest dangers that now seem to confront us are political corruption and lust for gain and the unholy purposes to which it is perverted."
"MEN'S HEARTS FAILING THEM FOR FEAR."
"The view ten years ago showed a placid, smiling river; now we see the boiling rapids of a torrent plunging toward what abyss no one knows. War has followed war with swift succession....What the next stroke will be, who can say?"--Springfield Republican.
Lord Salisbury said of threatened wars:--
"These wars come upon us absolutely unannounced and with terrible rapidity. The war cloud rises in the horizon with a rapidity that obviates all calculation, and, it may be, a month or two months after the first warning you receive, you find you are engaged in, or in prospect of a war on which your very existence is staked."
Gen. N. A. Miles, after his European tour said:--
"I have seen all the great armies of Europe except the Spanish army. What I have seen does not indicate that the millennium is at hand, when swords shall be beaten into plowshares."
The late Bishop Newman gave his view thus:--
"This is the most unsettled condition of the world since the crucifixion of Christ. The stability of government is no longer a fact. Change is in the atmosphere. It is just as true now as a thousand years ago, 'Thou knowest not what a day will bring forth.'... Statesmen are at their wits' end. Philosophers speculate in vain."
Archbishop Ireland, Roman Catholic, declares:--
"The bonds of society are relaxed; traditional principles are losing their sacredness, and perils hitherto unknown are menacing the life of the social organism."
Prof. Andrews, ex-president of Brown University, says:--
"No well-informed person in Europe seems to believe that peace is destined to endure there very long. On all hands people are preparing for war. Armies and navies are strengthened; fortifications multiplied; immense war treasures of gold piled up; all possible hypothetical plans of campaign, offensive and defensive,
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studied and discussed; firearms, great and small, ceaselessly experimented upon and improved; civil measures subordinate to military, and statesmen to great army men and navy men."
Signor Crispi, ex-prime minister of Italy, says:--
"Europe resembles Spain from a certain point of view. Anarchy is dominant everywhere. To speak frankly, there is no Europe. The European concert is only a sinister joke. Nothing can be expected from the concert of the powers. We are marching toward the unknown. Who knows what tomorrow has in store for us?"
All of these are right to some extent, for indeed and in truth the new King, Immanuel, will bring in an everlasting peace, but his reign will be ushered in by the political and social and ecclesiastical troubles, which Bishop Heresford properly ascribes to "evil desires and covetousness"--otherwise selfishness, which, as Bishop Llandaff declares, lead to anarchy.
RELIGIOUS FEDERATION IN UNBELIEF AND WORKS.
In Great Britain and in various quarters in the United States religious federation is making progress. These unions are for greater and more effective works of righteousness according to their own statements, and religious conviction, faith, is generally lost sight of-- denominations of opposite faiths seeking rapprochement, --in growing unbelief as respects Bible doctrines. Note the following public affirmation of unbelief in the reliability of the Scriptures by Rev. Rainsford, D.D., of New York City, reported in the New York Journal.
"In his sermon at St. George's Protestant Episcopal Church, Rev. Dr. W. S. Rainsford said that the teachings of Jesus Christ in regard to his second coming had been grossly misunderstood by the Apostles; that they had incorporated their mistakes into the New Testament; that the Church had been grossly misled; and that the Prayer Book's teachings had been largely influenced by a handling of the Bible which did not discriminate between the spiritual teachings of Jesus and the concepts of men.
"The preacher's thesis was that the Kingdom of God was not a world power at all, but a spiritual kingdom in all men's hearts, which could never be established by force, but could be wrought only by the persuasion of truth. Dr. Rainsford said that the prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem, in the Gospel of St. Mark, had been understood to include the promise that the Lord would come again within the generation of the Apostles. When he did not come, St. Jude attempted to explain the apparent failure of the prophecy by saying that one day was with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
"'A delightful theological subterfuge,' remarked the preacher; 'a complete twisting of the meaning of Jesus. There is no terrible judgment ahead, no physically burning hell. Judgment is a process here and now; salvation is a process here and now. There is no standing before an awful throne and the separation of impossible sheep and goats; but the separation is here and now, as men go on up or slip down into the bog and mire.'"
Here we have one of the nominal church's great men, one of its "princes," doing his best to undermine the faith of the people who pay him a princely salary to help them to see and follow the Lord's paths. Nor must we condemn the man as a hypocrite, for doubtless it is but another case of the blind leading the blind into the ditch. This learned man has possibly not yet learned that it was not Jude who wrote the words to which he objects, but Peter. (`2 Peter 3:8`.) He perhaps has not noted, either, that the same holy spirit indited the same lesson through the Prophet David centuries before Peter's day, saying, "A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday." (`Psa. 90:4`.) The expression was so used by the Lord himself also. --`Gen. 2:17`.
However, Dr. Rainsford is only following the logical course of all "higher critics," who, starting out with too much egotism, find fault not only with all of the Old Testament but also with the New--confounding both prophets and apostles by their superior wisdom, and classing our Lord with these because he quoted those very prophecies which the superior wisdom of the higher critics show to be spurious, while our Lord, lacking their wisdom, thought these to be genuine prophecies and quoted them as such. Truly, as the Prophet Isaiah foretold, the wisdom of their wise men is perished.--`Isa. 29:13,14,9-12`.
A PLAIN STATEMENT OF THE CASE.
The Rev. M. O. Simons, a Cleveland minister, is reported by the Plain Dealer to have summed up present conditions in Christendom as follows:--
"Rev. Simons referred to some of the old battle fields in this warfare of ideas, and indicated how recent have been the great changes in religious thinking, by referring to the fact that only in 1876 Dr. Minot J. Savage preached a series of sermons on "The Religion of Evolution." So far as known, he was the first minister in Europe and America in the regular course of pulpit work to frankly accept evolution and to frankly attempt a reconstruction of religious thinking. 'And it is hard for us to realize now,' said Mr. Simons, 'the hue and cry that was raised over these sermons. Where are we now in this conflict between the old and the new? I believe we are on the verge of a frank confession that there must be a complete religious reconstruction. The old system of Christian doctrine rested upon the fall of man as a foundation. But now modern thought has utterly discredited this story of the fall and the subsequent depravity of all human nature. What then becomes of the system that is built upon it?'
"Mr. Simons then referred briefly to some of the
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great Christian bodies to show how every one of them is yielding to the broader and more liberal interpretation of Christian doctrine. He said: 'Officially, the Catholic Church stands squarely opposed to all modern tendencies, and yet its people cannot be prevented from thinking. We find much unrest among Catholic leaders, much suspicion in European Catholicism of American Catholicism. The Catholic Church has its radical wing as truly as any Christian denomination. In the Church of England we find reactionary tendencies, but these simply indicate that the conservative element has turned to the only things left to it, the traditional value of church machinery and apostolic succession. That reaction does not represent the whole church. Some of the most enlightened scholars in the world are in that church; the great liberal interpretation of all doctrinal points is winning its way and the future of the English church is in the hands of those who are rebuilding their religious thought on new foundations.
"I may say much the same of the Episcopal Church in America. It has its conservative reactions, but the growing sentiment in the church is broad and liberal. I have friends in its ministry who are as liberal as I am. In the Congregational Church there is going on a rapid reconstruction of religious thought. A book like Dr. Gordon's 'The Christ of Today' is proof of this, not only because of its ideas, but because it did not convulse the whole Congregational body as it once would have done.
"In the great Presbyterian Church there is a great rising tide of liberal thinking. The movement for revision of the Westminster Confession, or for some relief from the outgrown ideas of that document, is plain evidence.
"In all the great Christian denominations the conservatives who would keep fighting the church upon its old foundations, are fighting a losing battle. The advance of liberal thought is irresistible."
We quote the above to prove the reverse of what the speaker intended--to prove the great falling away from the truth to vanity and fables and from vital godliness to moralizing infidelity. However, the wider the chasm grows between the "wheat" and the "tares," between the children of light and the children of darkness, the easier it will be for each to know his place, and by taking it he will make the division the more quick and complete. Who is on the Lord's side? Who?--Speak and live accordingly!
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"RESIST, STEDFAST IN THE FAITH."
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your Adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist, stedfast in the faith."--`1 Pet. 5:8,9`.
THE SCRIPTURES set before us the thought that as Christians we are subject to assaults from three different quarters, by three different enemies, who, nevertheless, frequently cooperate the one with the other;--the world, the flesh and the devil. We are not to suppose that every difficulty and trial which besets us is of the devil; but rather to remember the Apostle's words, "A man is tempted when he is led astray of his own desires and enticed." (`James 1:13,14`.) Such temptations, then, are of the flesh--the result of our being members of the fallen race, whose weaknesses and imperfections have been aggravated and intensified for now six thousand years. So, then, we are to recognize as one of our chief foes our own inherent weaknesses and predisposition to things depraved, selfish, sinful.
The whole world, thus depraved and under the control of the spirit of selfishness, is largely, tho unconsciously, the tool of Satan, who now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience. (`Eph. 2:2`.) The world has become an enemy and tempter by reason of the fact that we (the Church) have been "begotten again" to new hopes, new ambitions, new aspirations, new desires, which are along radically different lines from any the world knows or has sympathy with. Our begetting is of the holy spirit, and its tendencies are heavenly and spiritual, and in harmony with principles of righteousness, truth and love. Yet it is only our hearts that are thus changed--our flesh is still much more in harmony with the world than with the new order of things established in our hearts and wills by grace and truth, through Christ. Consequently, when the world, through any of its children, by their words or writings or general spirit, comes in contact with the Lord's people, immediately they find that altho their hearts are loyal to the Lord and loyal to all the gracious things which he has promised them, and to the spirit of righteousness, love and truth, nevertheless their flesh has an affinity for and an attraction toward the world, its things, its views, its arguments, its pleasures, etc.
It is for this reason that the Christian is called upon to reckon himself dead, not only to sin, but to his own natural desires, appetites, inclinations, and to the world, which is in harmony with sin and perverted tastes and appetites. As the Apostle intimates, there is a constant battle between the new creature, the new will, and the old creature, the fleshly or depraved disposition. He says, "The flesh desires contrary to the spirit, and the spirit contrary to the flesh." (`Gal. 5:17`.) And even tho the advanced Christian has reached the place where he is enabled to reckon his flesh and its will completely dead and buried, he nevertheless has need continually, with the Apostle, to reexamine the matter, lest the flesh should become alive again. This was the Apostle's method; he says:
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"I keep my body under [dead, buried, in complete subjection to the new mind], lest having preached to others I myself should be a castaway." (`1 Cor. 9:27`.) This keeping of the body under, this watching of it lest its will become alive again, is a constant necessity to those who would be "overcomers;" for it is the victory of the new mind, the new will, over the old will, the will of the flesh, that constitutes us victors, by developing in us strong, holy characters.
And now we come to the third feature of the Christian's temptations--Satan, our Adversary; strong and lion-like, vigilant and fully awake, he seeks to use every opportunity against us, as the Apostle declares. He seeks to devour us, to swallow us up in calamity, patiently waiting and insidiously laying snares for the "new creatures," using his many blinded servants to brow-beat or cajole or otherwise inveigle us into yielding to the old will;--thus separating us from the Good Shepherd and making us more and more deaf to his Word. Since our Lord sees best to permit Satan to have this liberty, and will not take it from him until the beginning of the Millennial age, when he shall be bound, to deceive the nations no more, it implies that in some sense it is profitable to the Lord's people that this Adversary be granted liberty against them. If it were not so, faith assures us that he would be bound forthwith,--at once restrained of liberty to assault us.
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Writing on this same subject, the Apostle Paul declares, "We are not ignorant of his devices." Again he refers to the "wiles of the devil;" implying that he is an ensnarer who seeks to entrap us. Again he declares, "For we wrestle not with flesh and blood [merely], but [our chief conflict is] with principalities and powers [unseen], with wicked spirits in exalted positions." (`2 Cor. 2:11`; `Eph. 6:11,12`.) The Apostle here seems to call attention to the fact that not Satan alone, but all the fallen angels, the demons, his coadjutors, are the foes of the Church, against whose wiles and schemes and plottings, more subtle than that of human beings, the Lord's people must be continually on the lookout.
As to Satan's methods of attack, we are given some suggestions also. Altho he is alert, like the roaring lion, he never attacks us with a roar, but, on the contrary, subtly; he creeps upon us in an unlooked for place and at unlooked for times, to devour us, to overcome us, to crush out of us the spiritual life, and particularly to deprive us of faith in the Lord.
The Apostle Paul shows us that these subtle approaches of the Adversary are to be expected through human agencies, assuring us that the Adversary worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience, and the better and more honorable and more closely identified with the Lord and his flock these children of disobedience may be, the more pleased the Adversary will be to use them, and the more service they may render him. Thus the Apostle declares that Satan presents himself in his temptations as an angel, a messenger of God--not a messenger of darkness, of error and of gross sin, for he knows that these qualities would alarm and repel all the children of the light: rather he appears as an angel of light, a messenger of divine grace and truth. And we are not ignorant of his wiles and devices; we see that for centuries he has used not only heathen religious systems to delude and ensnare the heathen, but Christian religious systems, to deceive and ensnare God's people. At the making of the creeds of Christendom, during the dark ages, we may be sure that he was present, and that through various agencies he took an active part in framing their many blasphemous misstatements of the divine character and plan, and of deluding the people into thinking that these were the teachings of the divine Word; and so through these channels he has wrought great havoc with the truth and greatly hindered God's people from receiving both the milk of the Word, and its strong meat, and from growing by these means to the stature of the fulness of manhood in Christ.
We see again that after he could no longer control the world under Papacy and its darkness of error, when he perceived that the light of a clearer knowledge of divine things was breaking out here and there, he zealously presented himself as a messenger of light, to help on in the formation of the various sects and parties which then sprang up. How well he succeeded in getting into them all the leaven of false doctrine, and in getting each denomination, after having organized, to declare that it had the whole truth, and that there must be no further progress in the knowledge of the Lord and in the understanding of his Word, all may judge.
Coming down to our own day, we see that as the light of truth became due, and when the minds of all thinking Christians were surely awakening from many of the superstitions and fallacies of the past, Satan again becomes the leader and reformer, and starting in with the principal colleges and theological seminaries, he leads them, professedly in a search for truth, into the gross darkness of skepticism, under the names of Higher Criticism and Evolution; and through these fountains of learning and instruction his influence is permeating Christendom through the ministry, in all denominations and in every quarter of the civilized world.
But, foreseeing that all minds would not be influenced along the same lines, our wily adversary has been leading other parties into other doctrines along
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other lines, all of which, however, have the Satan mark upon them; viz., either a tacit or an active denial of the Ransom--a denial of the redemption accomplished once for all by the man Christ Jesus at Calvary, and a denial, consequently, of all the gracious things which the Scriptures declare respecting the establishment of Christ's Kingdom and the blessing of all the world of mankind with a knowledge of the truth, and with opportunities of restitution to Edenic conditions and harmony with God and everlasting love.
These various devices of the Adversary in recent times are well known. Mormonism is one of these that attracts and ensnares a certain class; Spiritualism is another which attracts and ensnares another class of minds; Christian Science is another, very distinctive and totally different from the others; Theosophy is still another that has its attractions for other minds. In testing all the "new light" theories let us not forget that the Cross of Christ and the redemption thereby accomplished are the central point of antagonism between all these spurious theories, and the doctrine of the Scriptures. "The faith once delivered to the saints" has as its foundation, "how that Christ died for our sins and rose for our justification." However much Satan's various systems of delusion may differ from one another, they all agree in opposing this central point of the truth; and however they may seek to use the name of Christ, call themselves Christians, and seek to cover themselves with that "holy name" as a garment of light, it is only to deceive; it is in full accord with the policy which our great Adversary has employed for centuries.
One of the most recent of Satan's devices to ensnare those of God's people who could not be misled by something presenting itself as another religion and another gospel, is what claims to be a Christianity of good works and good morals without respect to faith in things past or future. The good works are usually presented in the form of healing of disease. The methods employed, and the claims set forth vary considerably, yet back of and underneath all is an occult power, a hypnotic power, which, however much it claims to be "merely human power," nevertheless gives evidence in various ways that it is a part of the great deception of our day, wrought by the Adversary himself as an angel of light, and respecting which the Scriptures forewarn us that there would be such strong delusions, which, if possible, would deceive the very elect.--`Matt. 24:24`.
If the very elect will be in danger, what must we expect respecting the world of mankind in general, and nominal Christianity? We must expect, as the Scriptures forcefully picture it, that many will "fall from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils." We must expect the number thus to fall from the faith to be large, as again it is prophetically stated, "A thousand shall fall at thy side; ten thousand at thy right hand--but it shall not come nigh thee,...because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation."--`1 Tim. 4:1`; `Psa. 91:7-9`.
This gives us a clue to the security of the saints. Their strength will lie in great part in that they are taking heed to the warnings of the Apostle respecting the present time, and hence know how to beware of the wiles of the Adversary. The "very elect" will be so in harmony with the Lord and so filled with the spirit of his Word, and so blessed by the exercise of their privileges as under-reapers in this harvest, and so disposed to lay down their lives for the truth and in its service, that none of these snares and delusions of the Adversary, promising life and health, will be special attractions for them. On the contrary, knowing what to expect, and looking forward with joy to the finishing of their course in death and thus passing "beyond the vail," they will be wholly out of sympathy with the snares which the Adversary will present. Nevertheless, as the Apostle intimates, there will be in this time also some of the Lord's people who will require the sympathy and assistance of others, respecting whom he says that we should seek to pull them out of the fire,--away from the influence and snares of the Adversary.--`Jude 22,23`.
The Apostle Peter's counsel respecting the way in which the Lord's people should meet the Adversary implies that they will all somehow or other be enabled to recognize him. He says, "Whom resist, stedfast in the faith." These words imply that in order to resist we must have the faith--the faith that has confidence in God; the faith that has led to a consecration on the Lord's altar, even unto death; the faith that would not take back the sacrifice under any consideration, but which delights to see it consuming, and which rejoices, hoping thereby to share in the glory that shall follow.--`Jude 3`; `Rom. 8:17,18`.
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THE LORD'S SUPPER.
--`MATT. 26:17-30`.--FEB. 17.--
"This do in remembrance of me."--`Luke 22:19`.
VARIOUS ARE the theories throughout Christendom respecting the Lord's Supper--its meaning and the proper time for its observance. Most Christian scholars recognize the fact that it was instituted as the antitype of the Jewish Passover. Amongst the older churches, Roman and Greek Catholic, Episcopal, etc., there is an attempt made to celebrate our Lord's death as a memorial on its annual recurrence. Originally the celebration was according to Jewish calculations, on the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month, Nisan--the day on which the Jews kill the typical Passover lamb. Subsequently, however, a change in the method of calculation was made so as to commemorate our Lord's death on the nearest Friday and his resurrection on the Sunday--Good Friday and Easter Sunday. With the younger denominations of Christendom this custom has generally fallen into disuse, probably with a desire to put as much difference as possible between Protestant
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customs and ceremonies, and those of Catholics. As a consequence of this we find that the majority of Protestants fail to associate the Lord's Supper with the Jewish Passover, and fail to appreciate the fact that the death of the Jewish lamb celebrated annually on the fourteenth of Nisan typified the death of our Lord Jesus on the same date, the latter being the antitype, the fulfilment of the type.
Nor are they wholly without excuse in this oversight, for we are to remember that while the older churches celebrate our Lord's death upon its anniversary, they introduced other ceremonies resembling the Memorial, but not authorized in the Scriptures, nor in anything pertaining to the type. For instance, to the average Catholic mind, as well as to the Protestant, the Catholic Mass is merely a commemoration of our Lord's death; but this is not its true significance. The Mass, rightly understood, from a theological standpoint, is a fresh sacrifice, and not merely a commemoration of the one sacrifice at Calvary. Protestants, misinterpreting it to be a repetition of the Lord's Supper, have come to believe that from the earliest times the Memorial Supper was celebrated at any convenient season. Hence we find among Protestants a variety of views on the subject, some partaking of it weekly, others monthly, and others quarterly, as each esteems to be the most desirable, most profitable.
We hold that no such irregularity was ever intended by the Lord or by the apostles--that our Lord instituted it at the particular time, on the particular day of the year, that was proper; and that the words, "As oft as ye do this" had reference, not only to the bread and the cup, but also the time,--the general incident commemorated. We will not here attempt to go into detailed expose respecting the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass, but merely refer our readers to MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III., pages 98-104, remarking incidentally that to the informed Catholic, Greek or Roman, the Mass is in no sense of the word a commemoration of the original sacrifice of Christ. The claim is that the first sacrifice of Christ was sufficient for sins that are past, but not for subsequent sins, and that God has given authority to the properly ordained bishops and priests to representatively create Christ afresh on any occasion, and then to sacrifice him afresh for any special sin or sins--High Mass for particular sins of an individual, Low Mass for general sins of a congregation.
The claim of Catholicism is that the blessing of the priest transforms the ordinary wafer and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ, who is thus re-created thousands on thousands of times every year, by thousands of priests, and re-sacrificed for thousands and thousands of sins. We, of course, object to all this as being thoroughly anti-christian, and the majority of orthodox Protestants will give their cordial assent. Nevertheless, those who organized new Protestant denominations seem to have entirely overlooked this matter when they use this frequency of the Mass in the older churches as an excuse for a frequency of commemoration of the Lord's Supper. However, the majority of Protestants seem to have been well aware that great frequency of observance (as in the Mass) would be unwise, unprofitable; and hence the majority commemorate only three or four times a year, believing the service to be thereby rendered more impressive and solemn to all who participate. We hold that the original method, of celebrating our Lord's death on its anniversary, is still more solemn, still more impressive; besides which it has the sanction of the Scriptures, which we claim no other method has.
OTHER MISCONCEPTIONS, BASED UPON SCRIPTURE.
Our so-called "Disciple" and "Plymouth Brethren" friends and others who have adopted the custom of celebrating our Lord's death every Lord's Day--on the first day of the week--seem to us to have fallen into a serious blunder. The inappropriateness of such celebrations is manifest in several ways: first they celebrate it on Sunday, which is itself the memorial of our Lord's resurrection, a totally different thing--a joyous Easter occasion. And losing sight of the importance of the date, it is not remarkable that they have likewise lost sight of the proprieties respecting the time of the day--that as originally instituted it was partaken of at night, whereas the usual custom is to commemorate in the morning or in the afternoon.
We are not to suppose that these Christian friends adopted their weekly custom without any reason whatever; but noticing the reasons they give we find them quite insufficient. It is their claim, for instance, that the statements of `Acts 2:42,46`; `20:7`, which speak of the disciples coming together on the first day of the week "to break bread," refer to the Memorial Supper. To the contrary, we hold that these first-day-of-the week gatherings were Love-feasts, and never intended to take the place of nor in any sense to represent our Lord's Memorial Supper. It will be noticed that in these various accounts nothing whatever is said of "the cup," representing our Lord's blood, and which must be considered as important a part of the symbol as the unleavened bread, which represented his body. The Love-feasts appropriately took place on the day which celebrates the Church's joy in her Lord's resurrection, and no doubt were all suggested by the circumstances of the first Sunday,--the day of our Lord's resurrection, on which occasion he was known to the two at Emmaus in the breaking of bread, and later in the evening to the eleven as they sat at meat, saying, "Peace be unto
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you," and causing their hearts to burn within them. (`Luke 24:30,31`; `John 20:19`.) Our Lord's Supper, on the contrary, was evidently intended to be a reminder of his death and of our covenant as members of his body to have fellowship in his sufferings.
THE FIRST CELEBRATION OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.
Our lesson points us to the first institution of this memorial, indicating that it was celebrated on the day before the Passover proper began,--on the fourteenth day of Nisan. The Law respecting the Passover was very exact. The lamb was to be taken into the house on the tenth day of Nisan, was to be killed on the fourteenth, and was to be eaten during the night before the dawn of the fifteenth. In the antitype Jesus offered himself to the nation on the tenth, but they, except his faithful few, neglected to receive him, and on the fourteenth he was crucified. It was in the same Jewish day in which he was crucified that he ate the Passover mentioned in our lesson, and later on he was betrayed. (The day with the Jew began at sundown and lasted until the next evening.) There can be no doubt from the account that our Lord and his disciples ate the Passover Supper on the day preceding the one on which the Jews in general ate it; for in John's Gospel we read (`18:28`; `19:14`) that when our Lord was before Pilate in the Judgment Hall, which was after he had eaten the Passover, the Pharisees, his accusers, had not yet eaten it--nor would they eat it until the evening after his crucifixion.
One Evangelist records that our Lord said to his disciples, "With desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." It was his last commemoration of the Jewish rite, which as a Jew he was bound to observe legally, fully. We may not know positively the particular hour of the fourteenth day at which our Lord and the disciples partook of the Passover, but probably it was near midnight, when after the Passover had been eaten our Lord instituted the new memorial of his own death, the Lord's Supper, substituting it for the Passover supper of the Law, and intimating this in his words, "Henceforth, as oft as ye do this do it in remembrance of me." "This" represented the antitypical Lamb, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," and doing this-- breaking the bread and drinking of the fruit of the vine--showed forth our Lord's death and not any longer the death of the type, because the antitype had now come, and in this same day, a few hours later, he would be killed, crucified. Our Lord was thus laying a deep and broad basis for the new institution, his Church, and separating it from the Jewish type by pointing out to the believers himself as the antitype, and the higher meaning connected therewith--the deliverance of all true Israelites, not from Pharaoh, but from Pharaoh's antitype, Satan, the deliverance of all the first-born of God's people from death into life more abundant-- eternal life.
All who see clearly the type should realize that it could never pass away until its antitype had come, and the antitype of the killing of the Passover lamb must occur on its anniversary, the fourteenth day of Nisan. Hence the significance of the Scriptural statement that "they could not take him because his hour was not yet come." (`John 7:30`; `8:20`.) God had foreseen the entire matter, and had forearranged everything pertaining
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to it, and the type had marked it most definitely. We no longer celebrate the type, but believing that the antitypical sacrifice of the Lamb of God has taken the place of the type, we as Christians "do this" in remembrance of the antitype; for, as the Apostle says, "Even Christ our Passover [Lamb] is slain; therefore let us keep the feast."--`1 Cor. 5:7,8`.
It was while the Lord and his apostles were eating the Passover Supper, the typical roast lamb, that our Lord said to them, "One of you shall betray me." John tells us that our Lord was "troubled in spirit," manifested emotion, at the time he said this. His emotion was not caused, we may be sure, by the matter of his betrayal, for he evidently foreknew the particulars as well as the fact of his death. The cause of his sorrow, we may reasonably suppose, was the thought that one of those whom he had so tenderly kept and cared for should now prove so ungrateful, unthankful, unholy;--evidently his sorrow was for Judas. His statement drew forth from the disciples inquiries, "Lord, is it I?" Or rather, as the Greek word would seem to indicate, the question signified, Lord, do you mean to accuse me? I am not the one, am I? And the disciples in general were sorrowful too. It was well, perhaps, that they should pass through this experience at this time, as they evidently needed it all, in order to prepare them for the trying times just before them.
Judas, of course, asked the same question with the rest, for not to have asked it would have implied that he admitted his guilt. Our Lord's answer was that it was one who supped with them, and dipping the sop he gave it to Judas, who forthwith went out. (`John 13:25-30`.) So far from these incidents melting the heart of Judas and leading him to change his course before it was too late, they seem to have aroused in him a malevolent spirit, just as divine mercy toward Pharaoh, in the stopping of the plagues, hardened his heart. Instead of resisting the Adversary's suggestions Judas entertained them more and more, until he was filled with the Satanic spirit, "Satan entered into him" fully, completely--took possession of his heart as an instrument of evil, and it was doubtless because he felt out of place in such society that he went out.
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It thus seems probable that Judas was not with the others when our Lord washed their feet, and subsequently instituted with the bread and the fruit of the vine the memorial of his death. It was better that he should be absent; and so it would be preferable, where possible, that only the true, loyal, devoted disciples of Christ should meet together to celebrate his death on its anniversary. Nevertheless, let us remember that we are not competent to judge the heart, and hence in coming to the memorial table all should be invited to come who trust in the precious blood of Christ for redemption and who profess a full consecration to the Lord. Let us leave it to divine providence to scrutinize those who profess to be fellow-disciples.
PRIMARY SIGNIFICATION OF THE BREAD AND THE CUP.
In presenting to the disciples the unleavened bread, as a memorial, our Lord gave a general explanation, saying, "Take, eat; this is my body." The evident meaning of the words is, This symbolizes or represents my body. It was not actually his body, because in no sense of the word had his body yet been broken; in no sense would it have been possible for any to have partaken of him actually or antitypically then, the sacrifice not being as yet finished. But the picture is complete when we recognize that the unleavened bread represented our Lord's sinless flesh,--leaven being a symbol of sin under the Law, and specially commanded to be put away at this time. On another occasion our Lord gave a lesson which interprets to us this symbol. He said, "The bread of God is he that came down from heaven and giveth his life unto the world. I am the bread of life."--`John 6:33,35`.
In order to appreciate how we are to eat or appropriate this living bread it is necessary for us to understand just what it was. According to our Lord's explanation of the matter it was his flesh which he sacrificed for us. It was not his prehuman existence as a spirit being that was sacrificed, altho that was laid down and its glory laid aside, that he might take our human nature. It was the fact that our Lord Jesus was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and without any contamination from father Adam, and hence free from sin--it was this fact that permitted him to be the Redeemer of Adam and his race,--which permitted him to give his life a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. And when we see that it was the pure, spotless human nature of our Lord Jesus that was laid down on behalf of sinners, sacrificed for us, we see what it is that we are privileged to appropriate. The very thing which he laid down for us we are to "eat," appropriate to ourselves: that is to say, his perfect human nature was given for us and redeemed Adam and all his race from condemnation to death,--to a right to return to human perfection and everlasting life if they could. The Scriptures show us, however, that if God would consider all of past sins cancelled and should recognize us as having a right to return to human perfection, this still would not make us perfect nor give us therefore the right to everlasting life. In order for the race of Adam to profit by the redemption accomplished by our Lord's sacrifice it is necessary that he should make a second advent, and then be to the whole world a Mediator, Prophet, Priest and King, to assist back to perfection and to harmony with God all who will avail themselves of the privileges then to be offered.
It is this same blessing which the Gospel Church in this age receives by faith from the Redeemer; viz., justification by faith--not justification to a spiritual nature, which we never had and never lost, and which Christ did not redeem; but justification to human nature, which father Adam did possess and lose, and which Christ did redeem by giving his own sinless flesh as our ransom-sacrifice. The partaking of the bread, then, means to us primarily acceptance and appropriation to ourselves, by faith, of justification to human rights and privileges secured by our Lord's sacrifice of these.
Likewise the fruit of the vine symbolized our Lord's life given for us,--his human life, his being, his soul, poured out unto death on our behalf; and the appropriating of this by us signifies primarily our acceptance of restitution rights and privileges which the Lord has thus, at his own cost, secured for us.
THE SECONDARY AND DEEPER SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
LOAF AND THE CUP.
As we have already seen, God's object in justifying by faith the Church during this Gospel age in advance of the justification of the world through works of obedience, in the Millennial age, is for the very purpose of permitting those who now see and hear and appreciate the great sacrifice which Love has made on our behalf, to present their bodies living sacrifices, and thus to have part with our Lord in his sacrifice--as members of his body. This additional and deep meaning of the memorial our Lord did not refer to directly. It was doubtless one of the things to which he referred, saying, "I have many things to tell you, but ye cannot bear them now; howbeit, when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth, and show you things to come."
The spirit of truth, speaking through the Apostle Paul, clearly explains the matter of this secondary and very high import of the memorial, for he says, writing to the consecrated Church: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the participation of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the participation
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of the body of Christ?"--to share with Christ as joint-sacrificers even unto death, that thereby they may be counted in with him also as sharers of the glory which he has received as a reward for his faithfulness. "For we being many are one loaf and one body." (`1 Cor. 10:16,17`.) Both views of this impressive ordinance are important: it is necessary that we should see, first of all, our justification through the Lord's sacrifice. It is proper then, that we should realize that the entire Christ is, from the divine standpoint, a composite body of many members, of which Jesus is the Head, and that this Church as a whole must be broken, and that in this respect each member of it must be a copy of the Lord Jesus and must walk in the footsteps of his sacrifice. We do this by giving our lives, "laying down our lives on behalf of the brethren," as Christ laid down his life for all. It is not our spiritual life that we lay down, even as it was not our Lord's spiritual life that he laid down in sacrifice; but as he sacrificed his actually perfect being, so we must sacrifice our justified selves, reckoned perfect but not actually so. Likewise the cup represents suffering. It is one cup, tho it be the juice of many grapes, even as it is one loaf, tho it be from many grains. The grains cannot maintain their individuality and their own life if they would become bread for others; the grapes cannot maintain themselves as grapes if they would constitute the life-giving spirit; and thus we see the beauty of the Apostle's statement,that the Lord's people are participants in the one loaf and one cup. (April 12 Manna)
Our Lord distinctly declares that the cup, the fruit of the vine (nowhere is this cup described as wine, tho it may have been) represents blood, hence life; not life retained, but life shed or given, yielded up, sacrificed life. He tells us that it was for the remission of sins, and that all who would be his must drink of it,--must accept his sacrifice and appropriate it by faith. All who would be justified through faith must accept life from this one source. It will not do to claim an immortality outside of Christ; it will not do to declare that life is the result of obedience to the Law; it will not do to claim that faith in and obedience to any great teacher will amount to the same thing, and bring eternal life. There is no other way to attain eternal life except through accepting the blood once shed as the
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ransom price for the sins of the whole world. There is no other name given under heaven or amongst men whereby we must be saved. Likewise there is no other way that we can attain to the new nature than by accepting the Lord's invitation to drink of his cup, and be broken with him as members of the one loaf, and to be buried with him in baptism into his death, and thus to be with him in his resurrection to glory, honor and immortality.--`Rom. 6:3-5`; `8:17`.
THE CELEBRATION IN THE KINGDOM.
As usual our Lord had something to say about the Kingdom. It seems to have been associated in his every discourse; and so on this occasion he reminds those to whom he had already given the promise to share in the Kingdom if faithful, of his declaration that he would go away to receive a Kingdom and to come again to receive them to share it. He now adds that this memorial which he instituted would find its fulfilment in the Kingdom. Just what our Lord meant by this might be difficult to positively determine, but it seems not inconsistent to understand him to mean that as a result of the trials and sufferings symbolized there will be a jubilation in the Kingdom. "He will see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied." He will look back over trials and difficulties endured in faithful obedience to the Father's will, and will rejoice in these as he shall see the grand outcome in the Kingdom blessings which will come to all mankind. And the same jubilation will be shared by all his disciples who drink of this wine, first in justification and secondly in consecration, and who suffer with him. They are promised that they shall reign with him, and when the reign is begun and when the Kingdom work has been established, looking back they as well as he will praise the way that God has led them, even tho it be a "narrow way," a way of sacrifice, a way of self-denial.
Our Lord's faith stood the test of all these trying hours which he knew to be so near to the time of his apprehension and death. The fact that he rendered thanks to God for the bread and for the cup are indicative of a joyful acquiescence in all the sufferings which the breaking of the bread and the crushing of the grapes implied. He was satisfied already with the Father's arrangement, and could give thanks, as by and by he will greatly rejoice. In line with this was the singing of a hymn as they parted, a hymn of praise, no doubt, thanksgiving to the Father that his course was so nearly finished, and that he had found thus far grace sufficient for every time of need.
THE MEMORIAL SUPPER THIS YEAR.
The anniversary of our Lord's death will this year fall, according to Jewish reckoning, on Wednesday, April 3. Consequently, the appropriate time for celebrating his memorial would be on the "same night in which he was betrayed," the night of Tuesday, April 2--not immediately at six o'clock, but later on, allowing time for certain necessary preparations then, and for certain examination of the meaning of the symbols and considering the whole subject afresh, now.
According to custom, the Church at Allegheny will meet on this anniversary date to celebrate the great
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transaction by which we were bought back from condemnation, and to celebrate also our consecration to be dead with Christ, if so be that being dead with him we shall be sharers also in his resurrection, the first resurrection, to glory, honor and immortality.
We recommend that the dear friends in various parts of the world neglect not this precious memorial, which is so full of meaning to all who intelligently appreciate it. We do not advise gathering together in large companies, but rather that each little company or band meet together as is their usual custom; for this seems to have been the method in the early Church. Let us keep the feast in joy of heart, and yet with due appreciation of its solemnity, not only as relates to our Lord's sacrifice for us, but also as relates to our own covenant of sacrifice to be dead with him. We recommend that all the leaders of the little companies of the Lord's people make arrangements to obtain, if possible, unleavened bread (from some Hebrew family, possibly) and either unfermented grape juice or raisin juice, or other fruit of the vine, as may be decided. Our recommendation is against a general use of wine, as being possibly a temptation to some weak in the flesh. However, we recommend that provision be made for those who conscientiously believe that wine was meant to be used. As satisfying to the consciences of some it might not be amiss to put a small amount of fermented wine into the unfermented grape or raisin juice.
We recommend that these little gatherings be without ostentation,--yet decently, orderly, quietly, let us come together, full of precious thoughts respecting the great transaction we celebrate, rather than with our attention much taken up with forms and ceremonies. Let us in this, as in all things, seek to do that which would be pleasing to our Lord, and then we will be sure that it will be profitable to all who participate.
We have already intimated that none are to be forbidden who profess faith in the precious blood and consecration to our Savior's service. As a rule there will be no danger of any accepting the privilege of this fellowship who are not earnest at heart. Rather, some may need to be encouraged, since wrong views, we believe, are sometimes taken of the Apostle's words respecting those who "eat and drink damnation to themselves, not discerning the Lord's body." (`1 Cor. 11:29`.) For the sake of these timid ones, who, we trust, will not forego the privilege of commemorating this great transaction, we would explain that to our understanding the class mentioned by the Apostle is composed of those who fail to realize the real import of the sacrifice, and who merely recognize it as a ceremonious form. They eat and drink condemnation because, if they would investigate the matter, they would clearly see the terms upon which the Lord is accepting the "little flock" being chosen in this Gospel age. Their failure to do this brings a measure of condemnation, reproof; they are more responsible than others of the world who know nothing of the Lord, his sacrifice, etc.
Let us, when we celebrate this grand memorial, not forget to give thanks to the Lord for our justification, and also for the grand privilege we enjoy of being fellow-sacrificers with our Redeemer, and filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. And while sorrowful and thoughtful, meditative and full of heart-searchings on this occasion, let us, as did the Lord, triumph through faith and go forth singing praise to him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light, and who has privileged us thus to have fellowship in the great transaction now in progress.
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GETHSEMANE--WATCHING AND PRAYING.
--`MATT. 26:36-46`.--FEB. 24.--
"Not my will, but thine, be done."--`Luke 22:42`.
NO ONE CAN thoughtfully read this lesson of our Lord's dark hour in Gethsemane, and his "strong cryings and tears unto him [the Father], who was able to save him out of death" (`Heb. 5:7`), without feeling that there is something thoroughly incorrect in the idea so prevalent amongst Christian people that our Lord Jesus was his own Heavenly Father, Jehovah; and that it would have been a pretence, a mockery of prayer, for him to have supplicated as here represented, unless it were true also that instead of being in any sense the Father, he was simply what he claimed to be, the Son, the sent of God, the only begotten of the Father, the first-born of all creation, the beginning of the creation of God. (`John 10:29`; `1:14`; `Col. 1:15`; `Rev. 3:14`.) There is absolutely no other standpoint from which the language of our Lord and the apostles and his course of conduct are reasonably interpretable. On this point the earnest truth-seeker is referred to MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. V.
Our previous lesson closed with our Lord and his disciples leaving the upper room, where they had commemorated his death. They went to the Mount of Olives, to an orchard there, known as Gethsemane,-- the name signifying "oil-press place," probably because olives were there pressed and the oil extracted used both for light and for food. One of the Evangelists speaks of it as the "garden of Gethsemane," but the word garden, as used in olden times, corresponds more nearly with our word orchard; it was not a flower-garden. There is a small enclosure now on the side of Mount Olivet, about 150 feet square, which is reputed to be the place of our Lord's agonizing prayer. It contains eight very old and very gnarled olive trees, and whether the exact spot or not, it represents it sufficiently well.
Our Lord probably had two reasons for going forth as he did that night. First, realizing that he would be arrested by the traitor Judas and the band he would bring, our Lord probably did not wish to bring commotion or trouble upon the friend who had so kindly
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permitted him the use of the upper room. Secondly, he desired the still quiet of midnight, out upon the hillside where he could be alone with God, to pour out his soul in prayer and obtain the strength necessary for the ordeal at hand. In harmony with this last thought, we find that when our Lord reached the entrance to the orchard he left eight of the disciples there, as an outer guard, so to speak, or as pickets, to give notice; and took with him the same three disciples whom he had specially honored on other occasions, Peter, James and John: Peter, the bold and impulsive, James and John, the so-called "sons of thunder"-- the three most courageous, most zealous, most earnest, of his disciples. These he wished to have nearest to himself in this time of anxiety. And yet, on this occasion, he desired to be still more alone in his prayer, for even these truest friends could not appreciate the situation: "of the people there were none with him." Hence he left these and went a stone's throw further, where he prostrated himself upon his knees, and with his face to the earth, as the various accounts show, and thus, alone, he communed with the Father.
The different accounts of our Lord's experience on this occasion, grouped together, show us that mental anguish seemed to come upon him here with a force of poignancy he had never before experienced; and that the load became increasingly heavy--"sorrowful even unto death," a sorrow which almost crushed out his very life, says Matthew. `Mark says (14:33`) that he was "sore amazed," as tho the sorrow had come upon him unexpectedly, as tho he were bewildered. Luke, who was a physician, says that he was "in an agony," a contest, a struggle, the language used in the Greek implying a struggle of increasing force and severity, so that "his sweat became as it were great drops of blood;" and this bloody sweat is not unknown to physicians today, altho very rare. It marks an extreme tension of feeling--sorrow nigh unto death.*
Infidelity has suggested that this account of our Redeemer's sorrow, tears and prayers, attests his weakness. They argue that there have been many martyrs of various religions who have faced death with boldness, stoical firmness, sometimes with smiles, and that this account shows Jesus to have been cowardly, and inferior instead of superior to others. But there is a philosophy connected with the matter which they seem not to grasp. There is a dullness and numbness connected with fallen, degraded, coarse manhood that can regard pain and death with indifference,--which permits them either to undergo it themselves without great emotion, or to inflict it mercilessly upon others without compassion. We are glad that Jesus was not one of those cold, stoical icebergs, but that he was full of warm, loving, tender feelings and sensibilities; and that we can realize consequently that he is able to sympathize with the most tender, the most delicate, the most refined, the most sensitive, more than any other human being. He must have felt keenly the conditions under which he had placed himself, in laying down his life on our behalf; because the more perfect the organism the more sensitive and high-strung the feelings, the greater the capacity for joy and the greater the capacity for sorrow: and our Lord being absolutely perfect must have been immeasurably more susceptible to the influences of pain than others.
Besides this he had a perfect life, unforfeited, and knew it, and realized that he was about to part with it; while others of the human family possess only a forfeited or condemned existence and realize that they must part with this sometime anyway. It would therefore be a very different matter for our Lord to lay down his life than for any of his followers to lay down their lives. Supposing 100 to represent perfect life, our Lord had the full one hundred units to lay down, while we, being more than ninety-nine-hundredths parts dead, through trespasses and sins and condemnation, could at most have only the one-hundredth part to lay down. A cold, stoical indifference to the loss of life, based upon knowledge that it could last but a short time longer anyway, would therefore be a very different thing from the clear knowledge which our Lord had, based upon his experiences with the Father "before the world was," and the realization that the life he was now about to lay down was not forfeited through sin, but was his own voluntary sacrifice.
There can be no doubt that this thought of the extinguishment of life was an important factor in our Lord's sorrow. The Apostle clearly intimates it in the words (`Heb. 5:7`), "Who in the days of his flesh... offered up prayers and supplications, with strong cryings and tears, unto him who was able to save him from [out of] death, and was heard in [respect to] that he feared"--extinction. Intent continually upon doing the Father's will, day by day had passed in self-sacrifice, until now, in a few hours, the whole would be complete; and the thought of this brought with it another thought, viz.: Had he done the Father's will perfectly? Could he claim, and would he receive the reward promised him, a resurrection from the dead?
Had he failed in any particular to come up to the exact standard of perfection his death would have meant extinction; and altho all men fear extinction none could know the full depth and force of its meaning as could he who not only had the perfection of life, but had recollection of his previous glory with the Father before
*Prof. Tischendorf shows that this account of our Lord's bloody sweat is not found in the Vatican MS., and that altho it appeared in the original Sinaitic MS. it was crossed out by a later critic. The passage is therefore doubtful, or at least questionable.
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the world was. For him the very thought of an extinction would bring anguish, terror of soul. This thought seems not to have come to our Lord with the same force previously. It was this, therefore, that bore down upon him now so heavily as an astonishing sorrow unto death. He saw himself about to suffer according to the Law as an evil-doer, and the question naturally arose, was he entirely blameless, and would the heavenly judge thoroughly acquit him whom so many were disposed to condemn?
After praying awhile he went to the three disciples, in whom he had greatest confidence, and who, more than any others, were his tried and trusted companions, but he found them asleep. Luke explains that their sleep was the result of sorrow. The night and its lessons had been impressive; the memorial supper, which they did not fully understand, nevertheless left a weight of sorrow upon them, as the Master had intimated that it represented his death, and had further intimated that one of their number would betray him. The reaction from the sorrow brought a measure of stupor. Very gently our Lord upbraided them: "Could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation." It is not merely that you need to watch on my account; you need to be in a watching attitude on your own account. An hour of severe trial is upon us all; watch and pray lest ye fall in this evil time.
Then our Lord went to pray again. We are told that his prayers were in the same words; that is to say, that the same sentiments were expressed; and again a third time similarly: the one matter was weighing upon his heart. Could he rely upon it now, that having sought to do the Father's will, that having finished his course, he had done it acceptably? Could he have full assurance of faith that God would save him out of death by a resurrection? In answer to his petition a heavenly messenger was sent to comfort him, to assure him, to strengthen him. We are not informed what message the angel brought, but we can see that it was a message of peace, and that he brought assurances that our Lord's course had the Father's approval, and that he would be brought again from the dead by a resurrection. These were quite sufficient to give our Lord all the strength and courage necessary for the ordeal before him; and from that moment onward we find him the coolest and calmest of the notable figures brought to our attention. When approached by Judas and his band he was the most calm and self-possessed of all; when before the chief priest, Caiaphas, it was the same way; when before Pilate the same; when crucified, the same; he had found peace in the message that he was approved of the Father, and that all the gracious promises of glory, honor and immortality were his, and now he could pass through any ordeal.
The Scriptures assure us that our Lord was tempted in all points like as we (his brethren) are, and we see in this his experience in Gethsemane an illustration of one of the most severe trials which come to the Lord's people. It would seem as tho the Adversary at times attempted to discourage us by making us think that the trials and difficulties of the "narrow way" of sacrifice will be all unavailing anyhow, and that we might as well give up. When such thoughts come to those who are earnestly and faithfully seeking to fulfil the conditions of their consecration vows they constitute one of the severest trials that could overtake them; if they have given up this world and its affections, hopes, aims, desires, exchanging all these for the heavenly, then anything which seems to becloud the heavenly hopes, leaves them in a darkness more utter, more dense, than they could have known had they never seen and appreciated the glorious promises. And what course should we pursue at such a time? We should follow the example of our Lord, and seek the Father's face, anxious to know whether or not everything is all right with him; anxious for some assurances that while the world may hate us, and say all manner of evil against us falsely, we still have his approval; anxious for some fresh assurance that it will be well with us, that the Lord will grant us a part in the better resurrection to life eternal.
But while we draw this correspondency between our experiences and those of our Lord we should not forget that there is an immeasurable difference; that we are of the dying and ninety-nine-hundredths parts dead already, and that therefore we cannot so fully appreciate the meaning of death nor the meaning of life eternal; and besides all this we have the example of our Lord, and the further assurance that our share in the First
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resurrection is not to be attained through perfection of our own, but through his perfection, provided we shall have attested to the Lord our full loyalty of heart, of intention, of will, however imperfect the results of our efforts to glorify him in our bodies and spirits.
The Evangelist records that our Lord prayed, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." It may be that our Lord meant by this, If your infinite love and mercy see it possible in any manner to accomplish your purposes of salvation for mankind without it being necessary for me to die, then grant it to be so. But if this were the Lord's thought it would imply that he had not fully grasped the Father's plan of a restitution for mankind, made possible through a ransom price for Adam and his sin; for, seeing this, our Lord could not have supposed that anything short of the full ransom could secure the results. Quite possibly, however, the thought which bore heavily upon him was the realization now coming vividly to his mind that if apprehended
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as a blasphemer it would be the policy of his enemies not to destroy him secretly, but to deliver him over to the Romans; and he could realize the influence and power they would exert to secure the performance of their wishes, and he knew that the Roman method of execution was that of crucifixion, and he knew also that the Scriptures explicitly said, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."
Here, then, seems to have been the centre of his thought: I shall be esteemed of all my countrymen as forsaken of God, and as accursed of him; I shall die as a blasphemer, as a malefactor; whereas my every sentiment is, and has always been, fealty, loyalty to the Father. This, we believe, was the special feature of our Lord's anxiety, called the "cup" of sorrow, which he wished, if possible, might be removed. We believe that he knew his death to be necessary, unavoidable, as he had many times informed his disciples; but that it was this ignominious form of death, "even the death of the cross," that staggered him; for it not only bespoke shame and misrepresentation before the people, and those whom he loved and to whom he sought to do good, but it carried with it also the thought that he was accursed of God; and if accursed of God he could have no hope for a realization of the glorious promise of a resurrection. But when assured through the angel that he would not be actually accused of God, even tho he would for a time take the place of the accursed Adam and be "made a curse for us," his race, then even the cross and its shame could be endured with fortitude.
WATCH AND PRAY LEST YE ENTER INTO TEMPTATION.
In the case of our Lord and the apostles we see illustrated the value of watchfulness and prayer in the dark hour of trouble. Our Lord followed the direction he gave to the disciples: he watched, he prayed, he got a blessing, he was strengthened, and came off victor. They did not watch and did not pray, failing to realize the necessities of the occasion, and as a result we find them scattered, bewildered;--and one of them, the very strongest of them all, who boastingly had said a little while before, "Tho all men forsake thee yet will not I," was so overpowered by his surroundings, and so weak through lack of the very strength he should have obtained through watching and prayer, that he denied the Lord with profanity.
Whenever we find the Lord's people attempting to live a life of holiness and consecration, yet ignoring the injunction of our Lord to watch and pray, we know that they are unwise; and that however much they may be virgins, pure ones, they are foolish: they cannot hope to gain the victory over self and sin and the Adversary, single-handed, alone. If the Master himself needed strengthening, surely we also need it; and if he received it in response to supplications with strong cryings and tears, it is an intimation to us of the way in which God is pleased to bestow the full assurance of faith which is able to strengthen us as good soldiers to endure any and everything in his name and service. Those who seek the Lord earnestly and in prayer are as sure to receive a blessing as was the Lord Jesus himself; and altho there will not come to them the same kind of heavenly messenger to comfort and encourage them, nevertheless a heavenly messenger of another kind will surely be sent. It may be in the person of a fellow-disciple, able to enter into and sympathize with us in our trials as difficulties, as none of the apostles could sympathize with our Lord or assist him. Or it may be that the messenger sent will be one of the apostles themselves, through the many gracious words of inspiration which God has communicated to us through them in his Word. But however the strength may come, it must be the assurance, not of men nor of angels, but of God, that we are pleasing and acceptable to him,--and that we may claim and expect the exceeding great and precious things which he has in reservation for them that love him.
So to speak, we are now in the hour of trial which cometh upon the whole world to try them. The present is represented in the Scriptures to be "the hour of temptation" or testing at the close of this age. It is the Gethsemane hour, in this sense of the word, to all who are the Lord's true people, fully consecrated to him. It is the hour, therefore, in which we, like our Lord, should be seeking the Father's face to receive the full assurance that we are his, and that he is ours; and that we may rely confidently on his strength to carry us through this time. It is the time in which we are to make sure, as we sometimes sing:
"O let no earthborn cloud arise
To hide thee from thy servant's eyes."
It is a time in which those who neglect the Master's words, "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation," will be sure to enter into temptation, and be tolerably sure to fall therein. And the fall will be severe, --and even tho, like Peter, they should afterward be recovered out of it, it will be with weeping.
Some make the mistake of praying without watching; others make the mistake of watching without praying; but the safe and only proper method is that which our Lord directed, to combine the two. We are to watch, and to be on our guard against the encroachments of the world, the flesh and the devil. We are to watch for all the encouragements of the Lord's Word, the evidence of their fulfilment, the signs that betoken his presence and the great changes of dispensation just at hand. We are to watch for everything that will strengthen us in faith and hope and loyalty and love; and while watching we are to pray without ceasing. We are to pray together as the Lord's people; we are to pray in our homes, as families; we are to pray in secret, in private. We are to have the spirit of prayer in all that we say and do: that is to say, our hearts should be going out continually to the Lord for guidance in all of life's affairs, that we may do with our might what our hands find to do, in a manner that will be acceptable to him, and that we may be shielded by him from temptation that would otherwise be beyond our endurance, and that we may be ultimately delivered from the Evil One and have a place in our Lord's Kingdom. Brethren and sisters, let us more and more remember and put into practice, in every home in which the WATCH TOWER is a visitor, these words of our Lord, "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."