VOL. XXVI. APRIL 15, 1905. No. 8
Views from the Watch Tower........................115
The Welsh Revival.............................115
Several American Revivals.....................116
An Editor Who Sees Something..................116
Spirit Phenomena Increasing...................117
Washing One Another's Feet........................118
A Favorable Opportunity Lost..................119
The Meaning of the Lord's Action..............120
The True Vine and Its Fruit.......................121
The Vine of the Earth.........................121
Many Illustrations of our Oneness.............122
The Object of Pruning.........................122
"Now Ye are Clean"............................123
Withered Branches Burned......................124
Interesting Letters from the Antipodes............125
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
THE WELSH REVIVAL.
CONFLICTING views of the significance of the Welsh revival abound. The movement is novel in that it seems to be outside the labors of "ministers," carried on by men and women hitherto without reputation and still manifesting "little ability." Indeed, the meetings are described as "go-as-you-please," in many respects. We rejoice that it seems well established that better morals and much less drunkenness mark the region affected.
Lady Henry Somerset writes to friends respecting this spontaneous revival, contrasting it favorably with the less successful efforts being put forth in London by the ministers and others, in cooperation with Dr. Torrey and Mr. Alexander, "American Evangelists." The latter movement has had all kinds of advertising, and every assistance that $57,000 could command. An extract from Lady Somerset's letter follows:
"Dr. Torrey spoke simple, straightforward words without any great magnetic force, although you could not but feel the earnestness of the man and the strength of his belief, and yet his words to me were a disappointment. Ten thousand men and women were there, who, speaking generally, professed Christianity. They were gathering in a city where sadness and sin abound, where the indifferent crowd the pavements, and the hopeless fill our slums and mean streets. The revivalist took for his text, 'Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, Rejoice.' Joy, he said, was the characteristic of the Christian, joy overflowing filled his heart, illumined his features, welled out in his words. Does it? I thought, as I looked round the audience. Ought it to do so? was the question that rose in my heart.
"The cries of the oppressed in Russia are ringing in our ears, the cruel grasp of poverty holds our people in the iron grip of hunger, the steps of the man who is seeking work in vain beat upon our streets, the sin which mars, blights and destroys is stalking abroad at this very hour, the drink poison is inflaming men's brains and cursing their lives. Can our attitude as Christians be one of joy?
"Ought we not rather to weep with Christ over sorrowful, wayward Humanity, and humbly face the dread responsibility which rests upon us? Calm, self-satisfied we all sat there, and never a word did the revivalist say to those listening thousands to arouse them to the fact that the state of London, nay of the world, lies at the door of the lethargic church itself. We sang songs over and over again about heaven, about joining our loved ones yonder.
"A young man with a beautiful voice in the top gallery sang a solo about "Telling Mother I'll Be There," but to me the note of a real revival was missing, which should sound the call to be about the business of our Master, to be in dead earnest that God's will be done on earth, and to understand that it is the business of His Church to get it done. And as I went away after the meeting, to the slums of the East End, I felt more strongly than ever that to define our understanding of what heaven will be is an impossibility. One thing we know, however--that it must mean an eternal harmony between our will and God's, and that our present peace lies in doing His will now.
"But it is still more difficult to understand how joy can be the keynote of our Christianity if the revivalists really believe that for some an eternity of torment awaits them, without even the escape through the purifying fire which the tenderer spirit of the medieval church granted as a recognition of the mercy of God; for them it surely seems to me joy is impossible.
"It is as though one individual, with a cry of exultation and a shout of Alleluia, found the fire escape, while the rest of the household perished in the flames. But the impression produced on my mind may have been possibly heightened by the contrast presented by the wonderfully vivid realization of the simple work of the Spirit which has been blowing like the divine breath through the valleys of South Wales.
"There organization has been unknown, money has been unsought, newspaper puffs nonexistent; indeed, the revivalist has still to be found. True it is that the figure of Evan Roberts stands out strongly, and yet the revival is independent of him.
"There is no order of service, no set choir, only bursts of wonderful Welsh melody, no hymn books--the words are written in the hearts of the worshipers. The little whitewashed chapels resound with song, song exquisite in its harmony, solemn as death, and yet jubilant as a choir of angels. Then stillness, prayers, soft sobbing
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from broken hearts, confession, profession, all the wonderful gamut of the soul's experience, but all spontaneous, with no settled effect, only the greatest effect of all, the reality of human need and divine power.
"What wonder Wales has been shaken as never before since the great religious revival a century and a half ago! What wonder the drink shops are empty, that at the assizes there has been no crime!
"Everywhere as you move about you feel a great hush as though Christ walked over the mountains and into the mining towns and out through the valleys among the sons and daughters of toil, whose eyes have been opened to see Him as He came to them by the way."
* * *
This dear writer seems to be "ripe" for the message of Present Truth as are all the best hearts the world over. We trust that somehow she and all such will be reached within the next ten years. It is said to be remarkable, too, that the eternal torment idea is but seldom referred to in the Welsh movement.
The editor of Review of Reviews, Mr. Stead, has given considerable attention to the Welsh movement and predicts that the blaze there started will sweep over the world. He declares that he sees evidences of clairvoyance in connection with Mr. Evan Roberts, the leader of the revival. Mr. Stead is himself an avowed Spiritualist
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and ought to be good authority on the subject.
The "lights" which follow one of the women leaders of the revival, Mrs. Jones, we have referred to on the next page. A reader sends us the following, which purports to be an extract from a work, Luminous Phenomena, by no less a celebrity than
SIR WILLIAM CROOKS
"Under the strictest test conditions, I have seen a solid self-luminous body, the size and nearly the shape of a turkey's egg, float noiselessly about the room, at one time higher than anyone present could reach standing on tiptoe, and then gently descend to the floor. It was visible for more than ten minutes, and before it faded away it struck the table three times with a sound like that of a hard solid body....I have seen luminous points of light darting about and settling on the heads of different persons; I have had questions answered by the flashing of a bright light a desired number of times in front of my face. I have seen sparks of light rising from the table to the ceiling, and again falling upon the table, striking it with an audible sound. I have had an alphabetic communication given by luminous flashes occurring before me in the air, whilst my hand was moving about amongst them. I have seen a luminous cloud floating upwards to a picture. Under the strictest test conditions I have more than once had a solid, self-luminous, crystalline body placed in my hand by a hand which did not belong to any person in the room. In the light I have seen a luminous cloud hover over a heliotrope on a side table, break a sprig off, and carry the sprig to a lady; and on some occasions I have seen a similar luminous cloud visibly condense to the form of a hand and carry small objects about."
* * *
When we remember how Satanic influence operated toward the work of Paul and Silas (`Acts 16:16-19`) and when we remember, too, the repeated declarations of the Bible, that Satan is to have great power and signs and lying wonders in the end of this age, which, "if it were possible, would deceive the very elect," we are not yet sure that Spiritism (demonism) has not something to do with these signs. We are to expect that as a last resort to gain power, Satan will in effect cast out Satan--thereby to gain and hold a greater influence against the Truth. In the temptations to our Lord, Satan practically offered everything if he might but retain his power; and doubtless he would be no less willing now to do good, that evil might follow. Without judging until more fruits are ripe, and surely without opposing good moral results, let us beware lest we fall into any of Satan's traps, for we are not ignorant of his devices.
For a week Evan Roberts would not speak one word nor attend a meeting. The latest word is that on the eighth day he broke silence and said: "I have wrestled, not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, but power has been given to me, and I have obtained the victory."
SEVERAL AMERICAN REVIVALS
The newspapers tell of a remarkable revival in New York state, of one in New Jersey, which converted almost the entire population, closed the saloons, etc.; of another in Southern Illinois, where the principal minister seems to have been a professional base ball player, whose efforts for righteousness are turning many from sinful ways to sobriety and religion of a sort; and of a similar movement in a Dakota town, which has apparently awakened some to a changed course of life, "turning over a new leaf," etc.
Let us rejoice with those who rejoice! Let us be glad to note every evidence of reform in heart or conduct! But let us remember that conversion is the beginning and not the end of the Christian life. If these converts are now of "the household of faith," let us greet them as such and congratulate them and hope for their growth in grace and knowledge to the point where they will be ready for the next step,--full consecration.
The privilege and responsibility for the instruction of these lies at our door; for alas! most other Christians through lack of development are unable to assist these into right paths of faith and hope, not having found these for themselves,--being still bewildered by the fog and smoke of the "dark ages." Let us be as wise and kind and helpful as possible along these lines; and let us pray for the wisdom from above promised in our year-text.
Meantime let us stand fast in our uncompromising but kindly opposition to Churchianity, "Babylon," and our loyalty to the One Church of many members of which Christ is the Head. While repudiating sectarian systems as of the Adversary, let us fellowship as brethren all who trust in the precious blood and are consecrated to his service--no matter how imperfectly they discern
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the truth--hoping for the fuller opening of the eyes of their understanding soon.
AN EDITOR WHO SEES SOMETHING
The Methodist Advocate, of Richmond, Va., editorially notes the need of a revival of religion, but fears that the prosperity of our times is unfavorable for its development. He concludes thus:
"The South, in 1865, was the land of woe. No words have been coined to rightly represent its anguish. God in mercy gave them a divine solace. For years a revival continued. There was a million of accessions to our Church, unparalleled. But 'prosperity' spread to the cotton, cane and tobacco fields. We erected temples, hired men singers and women singers, set up sackbut, dulcimer, cornet, flute and harp, as never was seen or sought after by our fathers. We admired ourselves. And so likewise did our brethren of the "Twin Methodism," [Methodists of the North]. Such superb fanes, each with its baritone, alto, soprano and imported music master.
"There has been a dry-rot. The evolution is the 'boll weavil' of the pulpit. It has sapped the faith of the prophet. Commercialism raving in a delirium is the cut-worm of the piety of the pew. If ever this Republic had need of 'old-time religion,' it is in this era. The Trust is hatching the cockatrice eggs of Socialism. There are men living who saw 'Black Republicanism,' as then called, hooted. And presently that genius, a dwarf corked in a bottle, grew into a giant. He turned into the Demon of Civil War. Socialism yesterday cast but a handful of ballots. At last election it was a head taller than the 'Black Republicanism' of its early days. The contest, now on, is one of political economy. The Strike and the Trust are 'foot to foot, beard to beard,' at the ballot-box. And to-morrow, it will be the cartridge-box.
"America needs the inflow of the divine influence. The rainbow must arch the sky or the Deluge of Death will overwhelm this fair land."
SPIRIT PHENOMENA INCREASING.
It should not surprise us that spirit-manifestations are on the increase. In Pittsburg recently a Miss Fay gave public exhibitions of her power to read questions in the pockets of her audience, others held tightly in their own hands, etc. Her answers to the questions were said to have been remarkable everyway. True, it was claimed by some that her work was fraudulent; but others as positively declared that stolen goods were recovered by her advice and matters explained as no human being could have done without supernatural aid.
A SCHOOL GIRL'S POWER
A newspaper report tells of a school girl in the West who has just discovered that she possesses similar powers. She first found that she could "see the answers in her books" when they were closed, just as accurately as when they were open before her, etc.
"STRANGE SIGHTS" IN WALES
From London come cablegrams telling of peculiar manifestations of "supernatural lights" in the vicinity of the Revival scenes, and are regarded as signs from heaven. These follow one of the women preachers and are seen near one of the chapels. We quote further:--
"Suddenly I saw what appeared to be a ball of fire above the roof of the chapel. It had a steady, intense, yellow brilliance and did not move. Later two lights flashed out, one on each side of the chapel; they seemed about 100 feet apart and considerably higher in the air than the first one. In the distance they looked like large, brilliant motorcar lights. Just after 10:30 I was startled by a flash on the dark hillside. It looked like a solid ball of light, six inches in diameter, and was tiring to look at."
SPIRITS IN A TREE
The public press reports that a tree on the farm of W. Albert, near Paducah, Ky., called the "talking tree" has attracted much attention lately--crowds going to see and hear it. Strange noises emanate from the tree, including a crash, as though it were being crushed, and then a voice can be distinctly heard, saying, "There are treasures buried at my roots." One journal says:--
"A party consisting of the most reliable citizens of the county visited the tree to make a thorough investigation for themselves as to the noises being heard. They listened patiently for several hours, when there was a sudden crash, which has been given many times before, and the marvelous reproduction of human voice came out.
"The mystery remains unsolved, and so great has the number of people been who have gone there in the last several months that the tree is now dead, caused by the continuous tramping on the earth surrounding the tree.
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"The only theory that has been suggested is that a man was killed under the tree in 1862, and while many do not believe in "spirits," the facts are so plain and the voice can be so distinctly heard that they cannot dispute the fact."
THE OBJECT INTENDED
Evidently the time is nearing when the Lord will permit this "strong delusion" to mislead many; and we may be sure that the fallen spirits will be ready to use whatever liberty is granted them. We may expect their manifestations to increase and to deceive many more, and be one of the important influences leading up to the persecution of the followers of the Truth, and ultimately to the great world-trouble. There have been so many applications for extra copies of our issue of January 15 that we have concluded to issue its article on Spiritism in tract form at once. Order samples for your friends as you can use them to advantage.
TO FOUND AN INSTITUTE OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH
Professor Hyslop and others recently held a meeting in New York City to take steps to found a Research institute. It was decided that it would require one hundred thousand dollars to found it properly, and fifty thousand dollars a year to maintain it. Speaking on the subject, Rev. M. J. Savage said:--
DESIRES KNOWLEDGE OF NEXT WORLD
"If the life we are leading here is all there is to it, every sensible man would wish to know it, and yet there is no use in hiding from us the fact that such a knowledge would be sad to most of us and that it would change the entire meaning and outlook of existence.
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"I have been immensely interested in these investigations because I believe that if we could make people sure of continued existence and could couple with this in popular appreciation a recognition of the universal law of cause and effect, we should be able to lift the level of the moral life of the world. That is, if people could know that they must keep right on and if they could couple with this the further knowledge that as the past has made the present, so the present must make the future; that there is no magic in the fact of death to change our nature, but that we keep right on what we have made ourselves--this knowledge would seem to me the mightiest moral lever that the human mind can possibly conceive.
SOLUTION OF THE LABOR PROBLEMS
"It would become a practical motive bearing on every thought, every feeling, every action of the daily life. Right here I believe we should find the best possible solution of our industrial problems.
"If the mass of men come to believe that this life is all, it is the most natural thing in the world that people should struggle for their share of whatever good things life may seem to have for them as they go along. If we are only dogs in a world kennel whose roof is the sky, why should one smarter and fiercer than the rest be allowed to monopolize a pile of bones a thousand times larger than he can personally use while the rest simply snarl and starve?
"There is no use in my saying that this is not a practical question. It seems to me the most practical and vital of all of which we can possibly conceive. What kind of being am I? What is the rational way for me to live? On what scale shall I lay out my life? What is to be the possible outcome and what shall I try to attain? If these questions are not practical and important, then I do not know of any which are more than trifles."
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WASHING ONE ANOTHER'S FEET.
`JOHN 13:1-14`.--APRIL 30.
Golden Text:--"By love serve one another."--`Gal. 5:13`.
OUR lessons can only be properly understood by taking note of the surroundings. The feast at Bethany, followed by our Lord's triumphal entry on the ass amid the shoutings of the multitude, his several days' preaching in the Temple to large crowds, and the coming of the Greeks to inquire for him, all seemed to indicate a growing popularity; and the disciples, thoroughly unable to comprehend the Master's declaration that he was shortly to be put to death by the chief priests, were full of ambitious thoughts respecting the future--respecting their identity with the Lord, and how his exaltation as a king would bring them into prominence and honor with him, as well as confer upon them the coveted opportunity of accomplishing a large amount of good, blessing a larger number of people, etc.
The thirteenth of Nisan apparently was spent by our Lord in quiet retirement, and the evening following, beginning the fourteenth, was the time appointed for the celebration of the Passover Supper in the upper room. Some of the apostles had, by the Lord's instruction, made ready beforehand; and now, as they assembled without a host to appoint them their places at the Supper, a discussion as to their prominence and their rights to the most honorable places, nearest to the Master, is not surprising. Our Lord twice before had rebuked them on this very line, assuring them that unless they cultivated and attained a spirit of meekness like little children they could have no part in the Kingdom. And only a week before, while en route to Jerusalem, James and John had made the request that in the Kingdom, when established, they might sit the one on the right hand and the other on the left hand of the Master, in closest proximity to his person. It was this spirit that controlled on this occasion, and led up to our Lord's washing of the disciples' feet as a lesson of humility and willingness to serve one another even in the humblest capacity.
SELFISHNESS EVEN IN LOVE
Nor are we to think of the apostles as each striving for the highest position merely from a selfish standpoint. Rather we should suppose that Peter, James and John, whom the Lord had in various ways specially favored in times past and who seemed to be specially close to him, loved the positions nearest his person, not merely because of the honor thus implied, but largely because of their love and esteem for the Master himself, and perhaps with the feeling that they appreciated this privilege more than some others could appreciate the same. Indeed we may suppose that a considerable number of the other apostles strove on their behalf, insisting that they should have the most honorable position. But however we view the matter, it is evident that a wrong spirit had been engendered, one very inappropriate to the occasion, especially inappropriate to the Memorial Supper which our Lord intended to institute after the Passover Supper.
It is difficult for us to gage our own hearts thoroughly and hence we should use great charity in measuring the hearts and intentions of others, and should err rather on the side of too great sympathy and leniency than on the side of too strong condemnation. Doubtless had the apostles been inquired of respecting the matter they would have denied any elements of selfishness in their motives and conduct, and would have thought and spoken only of their zeal for the Lord and desire to be near him. This illustrates to us, what the Scriptures declare, that the human heart is exceedingly deceitful-- that it needs scrutinizing carefully lest, under the cloak of something good, it might harbor qualities which without that cloak we would despise or spurn.
As further illustrating this subject, and as helping us each and all to apply the lesson personally, we relate a dream told by a Scotch minister, Horatius Bonar, shortly
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before his death. He dreamed that his zeal was represented in a package of considerable size and weight, and that some angels came to it and weighed it and assured him that it was full weight, an hundred pounds--all that was possible. In his dream he was greatly pleased with this report. They next determined to analyze it. They put it into a crucible and tested it in various ways and then reported the result thus: "Fourteen parts selfishness; fifteen parts sectarianism; twenty-two parts ambition; twenty-three parts love to man; twenty-six parts love to God." Awakening he realized that it was but a dream, yet felt greatly humbled, and doubtless was profited by it throughout the remainder of life. That dream may be equally profitable to each of us in leading us to a close inspection of the motives which lie beyond our words and thoughts and doings--especially beyond our service for the Lord and for the brethren.
The first verse of our lesson calls attention to our Lord's love as the basis of all his dealings with "his own." Because of his love he laid aside his glory and became a man; because of his love he devoted himself as the man Christ Jesus; because of his love he was now anxious to help his dear disciples over a difficulty which, if not conquered, would hinder their usefulness as his followers both in the present and future. This love not only led our Lord to administer the reproof necessary, but led him to do it in the wisest and best and kindest manner. His example in this respect should be observed and copied by all his followers, especially those who in any public capacity or service are his representatives in the Church.
Had our Lord and his disciples been the guests of some host on this occasion, it would have been considered the duty of the host to have sent some menial
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to wash their feet. This was the custom of the country, and very necessary to comfort. The open sandals or imperfectly sewed shoes allowed the dust of the highway to soil the feet, and really made washing a necessity after every journey, but particularly on a festal occasion of this kind. As the Lord's company were not guests, but merely had the use of the room, no servant appeared to wash their feet, and it would have been properly the duty and custom for one of the number to have performed the menial service for the others. As we have just seen, however, the spirit of rivalry was warm in their hearts, and no one volunteered to render the service, nor had any one the right to demand it in a company in which the Lord had made no special rank and appointed none as menials. This, however, rightly understood and appreciated, would have left the greater opportunity for some of them to have volunteered this service to the others. What an opportunity they all lost!
A FAVORABLE OPPORTUNITY LOST
Our Lord apparently let the matter go to the full limit to see whether or not any of them would improve the opportunity and make himself servant of all: he waited until the supper was being served (not ended, as in our common version;) then arising from the table he laid aside his outer garment or mantle and took a towel and girded himself--that is to say, tightened the girdle worn around the waist, which would hold up the flowing under-garments and keep them out of the way of his activity. We can well imagine the consternation of the apostles as they watched this procedure, and then saw the Lord go from the feet of one and another as they protruded from the couches on which they reclined (as illustrated in a previous lesson). The method of washing feet was different from ours: the basin was merely a receptacle for holding the soiled water, the water being poured from the pitcher in a small stream while the foot was being washed, rubbed, rinsed.
Apparently the apostles were so astonished at our Lord's procedure, and so felt the condemnation which his course implied, that they knew not what to say, and so silence reigned until it came Peter's turn. Peter had a peculiar combination of character, part of which was extremely good. He objected to having his feet washed by the Lord, saying, "Dost thou wash my feet?--It is not appropriate, Lord, that one so great as you should serve a person of my standing, a poor fisherman." But our Lord answered that although Peter did not discern the full meaning of the matter, he would explain to him later when he had finished the washing of all. Peter's second remark was less praiseworthy than his first. He said, "Thou shalt never wash my feet."
It was hard for Peter to realize that he was the disciple and the Lord was the Teacher,--that it was for him to obey and not to dictate; but Jesus' answer, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me," at once brought out the better side of Peter's impulsive nature. If his washing had anything to do with his nearness to the Master and his relationship to him, then he wanted it. Going even to the other extreme again, fearing to leave matters in the Lord's care, he cried, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." There is a lesson for us in this matter: We are not to dictate to the Lord, not to attempt to be wise or good or obedient in ways that he has not directed. This is a hard lesson for some dispositions to learn,--continually they want to do more than is written in the Scriptures. Such a course indicates either a lack of reverence for the Lord and his Word and the wisdom thereof, or else a too great self-confidence, too much self-esteem. A humble and trustful heart should learn to say, Thy will, O, Lord, thy way and in thy time--"Thy will, not mine be done."
WASHING THE FEET OF THE BATHED
Our Lord's answer in our common version is somewhat obscure; the revised version is better--he that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet to be clean every whit. Properly they had all bathed in accordance with the Jewish requirement of the putting away of all filth at the beginning of the Passover season. Our Lord's
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intimation, then, signified that having bathed they merely now needed the rinsing of their feet, the cleansing of the members that had come in contact with the earth. Our Lord added, referring to Judas, "Ye are clean, but not all." This expression shows us clearly that he had in mind a higher cleansing, of which this washing of their feet and their previous bath were but figures.
The Lord knew that the hearts of his disciples were loyal. He had accepted them as his disciples and had reckonedly imputed to them the merit of his sacrifice as a covering of their blemishes, the full testimony of which would be given them by and by at Pentecost, the holy Spirit testifying that the Father had accepted the Lord's atoning sacrifice on their behalf. But there was one in the number whose heart was not clean. Our Lord did not pass him by, but washed the feet of Judas with the rest, knowing the while of his perfidy, and that he had already bargained with the chief priests, and was merely awaiting the opportune moment for the carrying out of his malevolent scheme.
Our Lord's words, although not understood by the rest, must have been appreciated by Judas, as were also his subsequent words recorded in `verses 18,26,27,28`. Our Lord went so far as to quote the very prophecy which marked Judas and his disloyalty, his violation of even the common hospitality. None of these things moved Judas; none of these things appealed to his heart in such a manner as to change his course. We have thus strong evidence of the willful intention which marked his crime and enforced the meaning of our Lord's words when he called him the "son of perdition," and declared that it would have been better for him that he had never been born. The quotation from the Psalm was, "He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me."
PATIENCE TO ITS LIMIT
We may be sure that our Lord's conduct in dealing with Judas is not only a proper outline of what our conduct should be to any of a similar class, but additionally we should note the lesson that the Lord is long suffering toward all who become his disciples, not willing that any should perish, but disposed to do for them until the very last, and to bring to their attention the error of their ways repeatedly, in hope that thus they may be turned therefrom. The latter lesson has associated with it the thought that those who have received the Truth, and who in spite of all the favors connected therewith encourage and develop in themselves the spirit of selfishness, are apt to become so hardened, so calloused, that not even the Master's reproofs and the words of the Scriptures will influence them. This reminds us of the Apostle's words, "It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance"--to a proper course--if once the Spirit of the Lord has been fully subjected to the spirit of selfishness in their hearts.
In harmony with what he told Peter--that he should know later on the significance of the washing--our Lord explained the matter after he had gone the rounds of all the apostles. He said, "Know [understand] ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet."
THE MEANING OF THE LORD'S ACTION
Here we have the entire lesson explained. In their fear to be the least, all the disciples had shunned the opportunity of service for the Master and for each other. Our Lord, their acknowledged Head and Master, the Messiah, had humbled himself to serve them all, and had thus rebuked their in humility, and at the same time set them an example that would apply to every affair of life, namely, that they should be glad to serve one another on every proper occasion, in the high things or in the common affairs of life. This washing of one another's feet we may readily see applies to any and every humble service of life, any and every kindness, though specially to those services and kindnesses which would be along the lines of spiritual assistances and comfort.
From this standpoint it will be seen that we do not understand that our Master here enjoined a form or ceremony as our Dunkard friends and others believe. We do not even see in the matter the groundwork for the custom of the pope of Rome, who once every year, at this season washes the feet of twelve poor men, perhaps beggars, who are first prepared by a general washing and then brought in while the pope performs the special public service in the washing of their feet. We see no such formality in our Lord's intention. Indeed so far from it being a comfort or necessity to literally wash feet in our day and under our conditions, the reverse would be true. On the contrary, the Apostle points out, to wash the saints' feet in olden times was a mark of special hospitality, and entitled the performer to a loving respect in the Church.--`1 Tim. 5:10`.
How many blessed opportunities we have for comforting, refreshing, consoling one another and assisting one another in some of the humblest affairs of life, or in respect to some of the unpleasant duties, experiences or trials of life. As our Golden Text expresses it, we are in love to serve one another and not through formality. Any service done or attempted to be done in love, with the desire to do good to one of the Lord's people, we may be sure has the divine approval and blessing. Let us lose no opportunities of this kind; let us remember the Master's example; let us, like our Master, not merely assume humility or pretend it, but actually have that humility which will permit us to do kindness and services to all with whom we come in contact, and proportionately enjoy this privilege as we find the needy ones to be members of the Lord's body--the Church.
As our Lord said to the disciples, "He that is bathed need not save to wash his feet," even so we may realize that all who are justified and consecrated members of his body have already had the bath, the washing of regeneration, and are already clean through the word spoken unto them. (`John 15:3`.) Nevertheless, although thus cleansed and sanctified, so long as we are in contact with the world we are liable to a certain degree of earthly defilement, and it especially behooves each one not only
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to look out for himself but to help one another to get rid of earthly defilements, thus serving his brethren, helping them in the weaknesses, trials and imperfections of the flesh, assisting them to become overcomers. In these respects he is cooperating in the great work of washing the saints' feet, cleansing from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and perfecting holiness in the reverence of the Lord.--`2 Cor. 7:1`.
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THE TRUE VINE AND ITS FRUIT.
`JOHN 15:1-12`.--MAY 7.
Golden Text:--"Herein is my Father glorified,
that ye bear much fruit."--`v. 8`.
FOLLOWING the institution of the Memorial Supper, the Lord and his disciples, excepting Judas, who had gone to betray him, went forth from the upper room toward the Garden of Gethsemane. It was while the disciples were troubled in heart in respect to various things the Lord had said unto them and his declarations respecting his coming death, and while the Lord, too, had in mind the parting from his disciples and their future experiences, that he gave them the parable of the Vine. Some have inferred that this, like other of the Lord's parables, was an object lesson--that something seen by them all suggested it. Some surmise that the vineyards on the route offered the suggestion, and others that their journey probably led past the golden gate of the Temple, on which there was a large golden vine, which Josephus describes as having had clusters as large as a man: another Jewish writer declares that its "leaves and buds were wrought in gleaming, reddish gold, but its clusters of yellow gold and its grapestones of precious stones." According to Jewish authorities, this vine kept growing by means of offerings of a leaf or a cluster or a branch by the wealthy, just as some to-day present memorial windows to churches. In any event the Lord and the apostles must frequently have seen this golden vine.
The Lord announced himself as the true Vine and his Father as the true Husbandman who planted the true vine, and his followers as the true branches of that vine. The expression "true vine" suggests a false vine, and this thought is accentuated and elaborated in our Lord's last message to his people in the symbols of Revelation. There he speaks of the gathering of the fruitage of the "vine of the earth," and the casting of the same into the wine-press of the wrath of God at the end of this age. (`Rev. 14:19`.) There was, therefore, a deeper meaning in our Lord's words, "true vine," than the apostles could have possibly gathered from them. We who are living at a time when both the true vine of the Father's planting and the false vine of the earth, earthly, have developed, have opportunity for noticing the difference between the two vines, and of noticing also that the vine of the earth is a counterfeit of the heavenly vine. In proportion as we see this matter clearly it will assist us not only in the understanding of the Lord's parable, but also in our application of it in our daily lives. We will be in less danger of misunderstanding, misconstruing and being deceived by the false vine, or by the false branches and the false principles represented in connection with its development, for it is not under the divine Husbandman's care.
THE TRUE VINE
The vine of the earth is the nominal Christian system organized along the lines of earthly wisdom. Its branches are the various sects and parties of Christendom. Its fruitage is cathedrals, temples, tabernacles, chapels, orphanages, hospitals, etc., political power, honor of men, wealth and social standing. It is great and influential in the world, and has the spirit of the world running through its branches and governing all of its affairs, and brings forth a fruitage which is not entirely bad, but which is entirely earthly, and which is relished and appreciated because it is earthly and practical rather than heavenly. This vine has grown wonderfully, has some three hundred branches and claims four hundred million adherents, and through its untold wealth of property and in its adherents it may be said to practically control the wealth of the world.
Great is the vine of the earth, wonderful in the eyes of men. But the harvesting time will show that these nominal systems are not the vine of Jehovah's right-hand planting (`Isa. 60:21`), and it is, therefore, the system which the Lord declares he will utterly uproot and destroy, and whose destruction is so graphically described in Revelation. In the wine-press of the wrath of God, in the great time of trouble which is nearing--which we believe the Scriptures to teach will be fully upon the world ten years from now--the blood of Babylon's grapes will mean a flood of trouble and anguish to the world. By that time, however, the true vine and its branches will all have been glorified, and the results of their proper fruit-bearing will mean blessings to all the families of the earth.
Let us consider carefully the "true Vine" and our relationship as branches of it, and the character of the fruit which the great Husbandman expects, that this last of our Lord's parables may greatly profit us, strengthen us, encourage us, assist us as it was intended that it should.
THE VINE OF THE EARTH
In the true Vine the branches are not sects, parties, and it is only by delusions of the Adversary that any who are his people recognize these systems of men. As the apostles were not Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, etc., neither should any of the Lord's followers be such, and it is only because we have been blinded by the Adversary's misteachings that any of the true children of God are in such error, and so we understand this parable and other teachings of the Word. The apostles did not join each other, but each Apostle was united in heart, in faith, in hope, in love, in devotion to the Lord himself. And so we should not join the apostles, nor say, I am of Paul, I am of Peter, etc., but each should individually join the Lord as a member, as a branch; each must have the sap of the vine if it would bear fruit. Sectarian sap is of no value in producing the real fruitage which the Lord desires--it is only a hindrance. By this we do not mean that none of the branches of the true Vine are by mistake associated with the nominal Church system, the vine of the earth. We recognize that this is so, and we also recognize
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the Lord's voice calling--"Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues"--the great troubles coming upon her, mother and daughters.
As the branches do not represent denominations and sects, but the individuals who are united to the Lord, so the teaching of the parable is that our Lord does not prune sects and denominations but the individual Christians, whoever and wherever they may be-- "The Lord knoweth them that are his." Our Lord's word on the subject is, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away, and every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth [pruneth] it, that it may bear more fruit." Everything in the Scriptures teaches us that our salvation and our relationship to the Lord are individual, personal matters; that we are not saved by congregations and sects and parties and families, but that individually and personally we must be united to the vine if we would have the sap, if we would have the life, if we would be counted members of the Church, which is his body.
MANY ILLUSTRATIONS OF OUR ONENESS
It is remarkable how fully the Lord has covered the whole range of illustration in describing the oneness subsisting between himself and his consecrated followers. He gives us an illustration from the mineral kingdom, saying that we are living stones built together upon him as the foundation and capstone, to be the Temple of our God. From the animal kingdom our Lord drew illustrations of this oneness, likening himself to the good Shepherd and his true followers to the sheep under his care, one with him in fellowship. From the vegetable kingdom he drew the illustration of this lesson --I am the Vine, of which my true disciples are the branches. From the family relationship he drew an illustration of the true husband and true wife, and their complete, thorough union of heart and of every interest. From the family again he drew another illustration representing the Creator as the Father, himself as the elder Son and all of his followers as brethren. From the human body we have another illustration, Jesus himself being the Head over the Church, which is his body, for, as the Apostle declares, we are members in particular of the body of Christ. In proportion as our faith can grasp
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these declarations, in proportion as we can realize their truthfulness, in that same proportion we may have strong faith and confidence that he who has begun the good work in us is both able and willing to complete it. Whoever of a loyal, obedient heart can exercise faith has thus provided for himself strength and grace for every time of need, for every hour of trial, for every difficulty and perplexity and for all the affairs of life-- the ballast which will give equilibrium and enable us to profit by all of life's experiences, the bitter as well as the sweet.
Our Lord's declaration that where two or three of his disciples are met together in his name they constitute a Church or body of Christ, and he as the head is with them for their blessing in proportion as their hearts are loyal to him and seeking his guidance, leads us to conclude likewise that wherever two or three of his members are there we have a representation of the vine, and they may have all the blessings of branches and all the privileges of fruit bearing. Very evidently, however, the Lord did not wish us to understand that in every little company of those who have named the name of Christ there would be so thorough a purging, so thorough a burning, that only the true branches would remain. His intimation is that he deals with us individually, as well as collectively, and that if we would maintain our personal relationship to him it must be by the receiving of the sap from the vine, the receiving of the holy Spirit, as one of the results of the union and fellowship with him.
So surely as we receive the holy Spirit into good and honest hearts the result will be a tendency to fruit-bearing, but the illustration our Lord gives teaches that some may become true branches in the vine and yet overlook and not possess the fruit-bearing disposition. Sometimes a healthy, strong branch develops from a good stock and root but has no fruit-bearing qualities. The husbandman with a trained eye discerns between buds which would bring forth grape clusters and the buds which would have only leaves. Those which do not have the fruit buds are known as "suckers"--because they merely suck the juices of the vine and bring forth no fruitage such as the husbandman seeks. These are pruned or cut off, so that the strength of the vine may not be wasted in such merely outward splendor, but may be conserved for its purposes of fruit bearing. Evidently a class of true professors resemble these suckers, who selfishly would draw to themselves as much of the righteousness of the Vine as possible, and would make a fair outward show in the world with leaves or professions, but would have no thought of bringing forth the fruitage which the Lord requires and which can only be brought forth through sacrifice.
THE OBJECT OF PRUNING
Aside from the suckers there are branches which, while having fruit buds, would never bring the fruit to a good ripe development if allowed to take their own course and to develop themselves as branches merely, and hence the wise husbandman, noting the bud, is pleased with it, and pinches off the sprout of the vine beyond the bud, not to injure the branch but to make it more fruitful. So with us who have not only joined the Lord by faith and consecration and been accepted as branches, but who as branches desire to bring forth good fruitage, which the Lord seeks in us--we need the Husbandman's care so that we may bring forth the much fruit, so that the fruit that we bear may be more to his pleasement, large fruit, luscious fruit, good fruit, valuable fruit. The methods of the Lord's prunings should be understood by all the branches, otherwise they may be discouraged and droop and fail to bring forth the proper fruitage.
It would appear that the great Husbandman prunes the branches of the Christ sometimes by taking away earthly wealth or property, or sometimes by hindering cherished schemes and plans. Sometimes he prunes us by permitting persecutions and the loss of name and fame, and sometimes he prunes by permitting the loss of earthly friendships toward which the tendrils of our hearts extended too strongly, and which would have hindered us from bearing the much fruit which he desires. Sometimes he may permit sickness to afflict us as one of these prunings, as the prophet declared, "Before I was afflicted I went astray." Many others of the Lord's dear people have found some of their most valuable lessons on the bed of affliction.
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Some have written us how they were too busy, too much absorbed in earthly matters and interests that seemed to press for attention, so that they had not the proper time to give to the study of the Divine Plan of the Ages and the cultivation of their own hearts and the bearing of the fruits of the Spirit, and how the Lord in much mercy had laid them aside for a season, and given them the opportunities which they needed for thought and for Christian development, for growth in knowledge that they might have growth in grace. So far, then, from the true branches esteeming the prunings of the Husbandman to be injuries and wounds, they should conclude that according to the good promises of the Word all things are working together for good to them that love him--to the true fruit-bearing branches of the true Vine. Such prunings, instead of causing discouragements, should be to us, rightly understood, sources of encouragement. We realize that the world is left to itself; that the vine of the earth has not special prunings of the Lord, and that when we have these special prunings it is an evidence that the Father himself loveth us and is caring for our best interests.
"NOW YE ARE CLEAN"
Applying this lesson to his disciples our Lord intimated that the proper pruning work had already been done on them up to date, and in the Lord's providences they had been purged of an unfruitful branch, Judas. He therefore said to them, "Now ye are clean through the word I have spoken unto you"--you are justified and accepted because of your faith, obedience and loyalty. What a joy the eleven must have felt when they heard those words, and what a joy we may properly feel as we realize the truth of the same words applied to ourselves. Praise the Lord for this great gift of his favor through Christ--that we have in him not only the forgiveness of sins and the covering of his robe of righteousness, but that through him we are accepted of the Father as branches of the true Vine, clean through the acceptance of the message or word sent to us. But this is not all, this is merely the beginning. The thing necessary to be remembered is that our ultimate blessing and acceptance of the Father will depend upon our abiding continually in this blessed close relationship of branches in the Vine.
If we will not bear the fruitage we may not remain in this relationship; if we do bear the fruits, if we have that spirit and disposition, and desire the Lord's grace and strength and assistance, his grace will be sufficient for every time of need and we will come off conquerors and more than conquerors through him who loved us and bought us with his precious blood. The bearing of the fruit which the Father desires cannot be accomplished, we cannot be pleasing to him, except as we are related to Christ and as his fruit is born in us by our relationship to him and the power of his Spirit and his Word working in us to will and to do of his good pleasure. The assurance is that if we abide in him we will bear much fruit and that without him we can do nothing, have no fruit that the Father will accept.
What is the nature of this fruit-bearing? How may we know the fruitage which the Father seeks? We answer that many, under the misguidance and wrong example of the vine of the earth, incline to think of grand earthly temples, orphanages, etc., as being the fruits which the Lord desires to see well developed. We answer, No. If these were the fruits, then Jesus and the apostles bore no fruits: they built no churches or cathedrals or temples, they neither built nor founded orphanages or asylums or hospitals. If these were the fruitage which the Father seeks, then the Lord and the apostles erred totally. But we hold that they did not err, that the error rather has come from another quarter; that the vine of the earth guided by the spirit of the world has taken a utilitarian direction, and is bringing forth the fruitage of the kind which the world approves.
THE WORLD MAKES PROVISION
We are not saying a word against hospitals, asylums, etc.,--we believe them to be very good, very desirable, very proper adjuncts of society and civilization,--but we believe that the world is thoroughly capable of providing for all those things, and that the world is quite ready to provide for them; indeed we find that the world really does make provision as it is. For instance, the various St. Francis, St. James, and St. Agnes hospitals, asylums, etc., Protestant and Catholic, all seek support from the donations of the State for their maintenance and all get them, and the State might just as well, and better in some respects, have full charge of these. And indeed we are not sure but that it does have full charge of them now as fully as possible. Not that we wish to intimate that there are none of the true branches of the true Vine connected with any of these earthly institutions; but we hold that these are not their fruitage according to the Lord's parable, and that if they are members of the body as well as members of Babylon, they must bear the fruit of the Vine of the Father's planting as well as be identified with other good fruits.
The fruits of the Spirit are sometimes taken to be activities in the service of the Truth, as, for instance, the scattering of the Truth, the talking of the Truth, the bringing of some out of darkness into the light and
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knowledge of the Truth, the expenditure of money for the publishing of the Truth,--all these are sometimes considered the fruits which the Lord expects of the branches. Not so! The fruits are something still nobler and grander than these things, and are described by the Apostle as the fruits of the Spirit. The Spirit of the Vine must permeate all the branches, and the fruit of the Vine must be in every branch. These fruits of the Spirit are enumerated--meekness, gentleness, patience, long suffering, brotherly kindness, love; if these things be in us and abound, says the Apostle, they make us to be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.
These fruits are all one in some particulars: that is to say, the essence of proper Christian patience is love; the essence of hope and faith and joy is love for our Father, and our confidence in his love, as expressed in his promises to us. So the name of all these fruits and graces of the Spirit is expressed in the one word, Love. These are the fruits which must be found in every branch if it would retain its place as a branch and be of the glorified Vine by and by. Let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that other things will do, and that we may pass the divine inspection without these. The other things, the good works, the seeking of the Truth, the distribution of the literature, etc., are only to be acceptable to the Father in proportion as they are the results of this fruitage in our hearts. The Apostle expresses
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this forcefully when he says, If I should give my body to be burned and all my goods to feed the poor, and have not love, it would profit me nothing.
The same thought is true in regard to service to the Lord: if we should spend every day and every hour in harvest work, if we should give all our money to printing tracts and books, or use ourselves in any other way for the service of the Lord's cause, it would profit nothing unless it were the result of love in our hearts. We see, then, that the thought is that we must cultivate in our hearts the graces of the holy Spirit, meekness, gentleness, patience, etc., love, and that we must have these in abounding measure to be pleasing to the Lord, to bear "much fruit." The expression of these fruits, therefore, undoubtedly will be through various channels, perhaps of giving goods to the poor, perhaps of such faithfulness in the presentation of the Truth as might lead us to martyrdom, that our bodies might be burned. If the burning of the body or the loss of all our goods comes in such a course through our faithfulness to the principles of righteousness, through our love and loyalty to the Lord, then happy are we indeed.
WITHERED BRANCHES BURNED
The declaration that those who will not bear the fruit of the Vine will be cut off from being branches and will wither and ultimately be burned, seems to imply the second death, utter destruction of the class indicated. This is not the worldly class, for they were never united to Christ, never were branches in the Vine and hence never were on trial in this respect. It refers only to those who have gone the lengths of making a full consecration to the Lord, a full union with him, a thorough consecration and begetting of the holy Spirit. These words, then, seem to correspond with the Apostle's declaration, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
The world is not in the hands of the living God, but is at the present time reckoned as dead in Adam, under the Adamic sentence, not being judged by the Lord. The Church only is reckoned as free from Adamic condemnation and placed on trial or judgment, and these only, therefore, could fall out of the hands of Christ, the Mediator, and into the hands of the Father in the sense here indicated. Being cut off from Christ their case is hopeless; for such we can look forward to nothing better than the second death. Even then we are glad that the theory of eternal torment is not true; that when they die the death of utter extinction they have suffered all that God has pronounced, terrible as that loss will be to those who appreciate everlasting life.
This statement about the branches cut off, withered and burned does not seem to take cognizance at all of the household of faith class, which, though believing in Jesus, never comes to the point of becoming branches or members in the Christ. Nor does it seem to take into consideration the great company. Indeed this class is mentioned in but few Scriptures and then obscurely, the Lord thus indicating, we believe, that none were called to such a company. The Apostle speaks of some as being "saved so as by fire," and a little suggestion in this same line might be taken from the Master's words that, being cut off as branches, they wither and are burned--burned as branches, destroyed as members of the company to which they originally were by covenant attached, but not necessarily destroyed individually to all eternity. The Apostle speaks of this class saying that themselves shall be saved so as by fire, but their works shall suffer loss. Perhaps we should consider these as being included in this manner in the Lord's statement.
FRUITS OF MEMBERSHIP IN THE VINE
Our Lord proceeds to tell us what some of the fruits of this union with him will be:--
First, such may ask whatsoever they will and it shall be done unto them. There is only one condition or limitation, namely, that before they are thus prepared to ask they must see to it that they give attention to the Lord's word that they may ascertain what is his will and what they may ask according to his will. Those who abide in Christ must have no will of their own, theirs must be the will of their Head, and their Head has already declared that his will is the Father's will. These, then, are the limitations, that we have the Father's will in our hearts and the Father's promises in our hearts; then our requests will be in conformity to these and the Lord will be pleased to grant all such.
The second fruitage or result will be that the Father will be glorified the more in proportion as our fruit increases, and on these terms our discipleship shall continue, namely, that we shall habitually seek to know and to do the Father's will and to glorify and honor him by lives obedient to his will. Anything short of this would forfeit our discipleship. Not that it would be forfeited instantly, as though the Lord would take occasion to cast us off lightly; but that it is a part of our covenant relationship that we will grow in grace, grow in knowledge, grow in harmony with God, grow in the fruits of the Spirit, and if we turn from this engagement or contract we cannot be considered as retaining our relationship as disciples, members.
The third fruit or evidence of this membership in the Vine and of our continued growth as branches is stated in `verse nine`, namely, that as the Father loved the Lord Jesus, the Vine, so our Redeemer loves us, his branches or members. What a wonderful thought this is, that our Master has toward us the same kind of love that the Father has toward him! Could our faith always grasp this thought and maintain this hold, we should indeed have nothing to wish or to fear--our summer would last all the year. The next thought suggested is that having reached, having attained this high position in the Lord's favor, if we are his disciples and truly appreciate what he has done for us in this respect, we will desire to continue in his love. Next in order come the terms and conditions upon which we may continue in that love, namely, that we keep his commandments.
By way of showing us that this is not an unreasonable proposition, our Lord declared that these are the same terms on which the Father deals with him, namely, "Even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." We cannot expect to abide in the Lord's love and be careless of his injunctions. The measure of our faithfulness to him will be indicated by our obedience to him, as the measure of his love for the Father was indicated by his obedience to the Father. The Apostle intimates this same thought and adds a little to it, saying, "For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous." (`1 John 5:3`). It is not enough that we
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keep the commandments, but that we keep them lovingly and loyally, of good pleasure, that we do not consider them grievous but rather are to be glad to be in line, in harmony, with all the Lord's righteous provisions and arrangements. Let us all more and more seek this spirit of full heart-harmony with all the principles of righteousness laid down by our Lord Jesus--his commandments.
Our Lord's commandments are not the ten commandments of Moses, but more or less according to the standpoint of expression. They are less in the sense of requirements on our flesh; they are more as respects the requirements on our hearts. Briefly summed up he tells us that his law is love with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength to the Father and for our neighbor as for ourselves. This is possible to our regenerated hearts though not possible to our imperfect flesh. The Lord's requirement, therefore, is that with our hearts we serve this law of God and with our flesh we shall do to the best of our ability, and we have the assurance that in the resurrection we shall have the new bodies in which we shall be able to serve the Lord thoroughly, completely, satisfactorily.
MY JOY REMAIN, YOUR JOY BE FULL
Our Lord concluded this little lesson, so short and yet so full of meaning and depth, by an illustration of why he gave it, saying, "These things have I spoken unto you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be filled full." This is my commandment that ye love
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one another even as I have loved you." Wonderful words of life are these that have come down to us through the centuries, that have helped to cheer and encourage so many of the Lord's followers in the narrow way.
Many are the objections that are raised to pure and undefiled religion: Some complain that it is gloomy, joyless, a fetter upon heart and brain; that it drives men from every temple of pleasure with a whip of small cords; that it posts notice, "No trespassing here," in every field of enjoyment. Our answer must be that this is a mistake: that these are the words of those who know not, neither do they understand the things whereof they speak. Those who have truly made a covenant with the Lord, who have truly accepted him, who have truly laid down their lives at his feet and become his followers in sincerity, are filled with his joy, as he promised; and it is an increasing joy, which day by day and year by year becomes more nearly complete--a joy which will not be complete, however, until that which is perfect shall come and that which is in part shall be done away, until in the resurrected condition we shall see as we are seen and know as we are known and appreciate to the full the joys of our Lord, hearing his welcome invitation, "Enter thou into the joys of thy Lord."
We enter now into those joys through faith, through anticipation, through rest of heart, but by and by we shall enter upon them in the actual sense. Meantime it is the world, that has not submitted itself to the Lord, that has not appreciation of the joys of the Lord, that is full of selfishness and ambition and strife and envy; it knoweth us not even as it knew him not; it knows not of our joys in the Master's service even as it never appreciated the joys of our Lord in doing the Father's will, even at the sacrifice of his life.
"AS I HAVE LOVED YOU"
It does not astonish us that the Lord directs that we love one another, but we stand amazed with the thought contained in these words, "As I have loved you." How can we love one another with the same love which the Lord has for each of us? is our first inquiry. We reply that this is impossible at first, but as we become more and more filled with the Spirit of the Lord, we approximate more nearly to this standard of perfect love to all that are his, a love that not only would refuse to do injury to another, but a love which would delight to do good to a brother, yea, to do good at the expense of one's own time and convenience. Thus Jesus loved us all and redeemed us with his precious blood, and to whatever extent we grow in grace, knowledge and love of him, in that same proportion we are Christlike and have a Christlike love. This love is the fulfilling of the Law, and whoever has such a love for the brethren will have undoubtedly a full, sympathetic love for the whole groaning creation, and will be glad to do now the little that is possible to be done on their behalf, and doubly glad that the Lord in his own good time and pleasure has a great and wonderful blessing for every member of Adam's race.
Some one has said, "Do not imagine that you have got these things because you know how to get them. As well try to feed upon a cook book." There is a good and an important thought here: it is very important that we should know these things and understand the Lord's plans and appreciate the principles laid down in his Word, but though we had all knowledge it would not benefit us unless we used it. Let us not think of getting the benefit of the Lord's gracious provisions by merely learning how to get them, but let us take the necessary steps--see that we are fully his, see that we live close to him, see that we are fruit bearers, see that we abide in his love, in the Father's love, in the love for one another, which he has enjoined.
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INTERESTING LETTERS FROM THE ANTIPODES.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have the pleasure herewith to hand you extracts from interesting letters received at the Society's Melbourne office. Accompanying are extracts from two Reviews of MILLENNIAL DAWN Vol. I., which recently appeared in Australian newspapers.
We have been made very glad by the safe arrival at Auckland of Colporteurs Brother and Sister Richardson. They had a very successful three weeks at Honolulu arriving at Auckland without a volume of DAWN in their possession. The arrival of Colporteurs Brother and Sister Nicholson and Brother Zink is expected early in March, D.V. Brother Anderson, who is laboring in Southern New Zealand, reports some interest in and opposition to the Present Truth.
Pray for us, and also that the Lord may send more laborers into the vineyard.
Faithfully yours, in the Anointed,
E. C. HENNINGES.
DEAR FRIEND:--I am enclosing 4s. for a year's subscription to ZION'S WATCH TOWER. I feel I cannot
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do without the reading. We never read such beautiful explanations of the Bible; my daughter and I think it wonderful, almost too good to be true, only that we know God is Love, and he doeth all things well.
My daughter said when I was reading to her a bit about the Millennial Age, "Why, mother, you might get your desire after all!" I always desired to be a missionary; since childhood I have wished to tell the heathen about the Love of Jesus. What a privilege that would be; may the Lord help me to be ready for His work.
If I can't keep on paying for the paper, I shall send a card at Christmas. Do not think I don't want to pay for the paper; if I had money, I should pay the people to read it.
Yours in the love of God,
DEAR FRIEND:--Please accept thanks for the liberal supply of tracts for distribution, which I shall do my best to place judiciously.
It is about seven months since I first heard of these publications. The first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN was handed to me by a friend. He said, "Now, George, here's something that will just about suit you, and when you've read it, you can tell me what it means, for I have no time. And here is some lighter reading; you ought to read something lively, for you need a change, but it seems nothing goes down with you but something religious; and if you don't alter you'll become quite mopish." In a few days I returned the light books unread, but I read the DAWN four times, carefully referring to every text quoted therein.
During the last few years I have always denied the doctrine of Eternal Torment, also the teaching that the heathen would all be lost to the Jesus who died for them; but I was quite unable to confute these matters. By some means, my reason disdained to receive such a portrait of God as the various sectarians presented to me; but I could merely affirm that I was unable, nay, that I dare not, believe these doctrines. I was not trusting in any but God, and he caused me to get that volume put into my hands, I am assured.
I have since read volumes 2 and 3, and now have a fuller comprehension of God's Plan, and feel very earnestly that it is my bounden duty to talk of God's Love; to tell of his Kingdom; to lovingly exhort people to brush aside all shadows that would intervene between themselves and the Truth, to verify for themselves all the doctrines advanced in the DAWN series, and the portion of life remaining to me I consecrate to his service, for the enlightenment of any and all such brothers and sisters as I may be thrown into contact with. I am now fully His, and in fellowship with all who believe in His Kingdom. I am, dear Brother,
Yours in the Glad Tidings,
__________, South Australia.
DEAR FRIEND:--I received your welcome letter and the paper some time ago, and should have written before this, only I wished to read the "Plan" first, so as to tell you what I thought of it. I am indeed very glad that it has dropped into my hands, and believe it has come in answer to prayer. I have been studying the Bible deeply for the last three years, and I thank God for the day that I determined to "search the Scriptures." He has blessed me wonderfully. Although I failed in business, and am now totally deaf, God has given me something in this last three years that I would not exchange for the best business in New Zealand, or the best pair of ears in Australia. There are several things in the paper you sent me that are very different from what is generally held in the churches, but which I fully agree with, and I want some more. With kind regards,
Yours and His,
__________, New Zealand.
DEAR FRIEND:--I have much pleasure in sending payment for the valuable and interesting pamphlet you loaned me, and my most sincere thanks added, as well. I must say it not only afforded me much pleasure to read, but opened up new avenues for thought, never before dreamt of. The masterly way in which every subject is handled, one after another, and the proofs brought forward to substantiate the argument, leave the whole matter beyond contradiction.
It grieves me to think that so many to-day ignore the inspiration of the Bible. Most of our colonial youths know nothing at all about it, and the theology that is preached from many of our pulpits does not improve matters much. But I am certain that anyone reading carefully The Divine Plan of the Ages cannot but be impressed by the doctrine contained therein. Please send me the next volume.
__________, New Zealand.
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DEAR FRIEND:--I tender you special thanks for the volume, MILLENNIAL DAWN, which I have already read, and re-read with intense interest, as it has thrown an entirely new light upon many passages of Scripture which previously were a puzzle and worry to me. I would be very glad to see any subsequent volumes by the same author, and shall be only too happy at any time to give a friendly notice of same through the columns of our paper.
Trusting that the book may be instrumental in removing many of the misconceptions regarding the attributes and plans of our Heavenly Father, I remain,
__________, Editor, New South Wales.
DEAR FRIEND:--I thank you very much for sending me The Divine Plan of the Ages, which I have been studying at intervals ever since it reached me--as I have been endeavoring to read and study my Bible all my thinking years. The work is inestimable; it has opened the eyes of my understanding, and lifted a harrowing weight from my mind. This grand opposite arrangement, and application of the Scriptures texts is far and away before anything of the kind I have ever been privileged to see. The study of them all in their respective and most reasonable connections as now presented dispels the gloom of the stern ascetic Calvinism, in the atmosphere of which I was brought up in Scotland.
Our so-called spiritual advisers in these parts would perhaps be benefitted by the study of this book; for, alas! they don't seem to know too much about the Bible Truths they profess to preach and explain. I have resided here many years, and there seems to be far less fear and love of God in men's hearts now than even in what were termed the wild old times. We are fallen
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upon evil days; the age is throbbing with mercenary passion, and grows mad with the lust of gold; men's hearts are failing them for fear. Truly I believe and have believed for years past, that we are fast approaching the close of this dispensation.
And so, may the Lord Jesus come quickly; for with the advent of his chariot wheels and the brightness of his coming, such a rose-light will flush over the world that the tired nations will up-leap with joy.
__________ Editor, New South Wales.
[The reviews will appear in our next issue.--EDITOR.]
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THE MEMORIAL CELEBRATION
THE annual celebration of our Lord's death, rather than a more frequent one, commends itself to the Lord's people more generally every year. At Allegheny the number participating this year was much larger than ever before. Anticipating this, Carnegie Hall was secured for the afternoon discourse on Baptism, as well as for the Memorial Service of the evening of April 16th. The death-baptism was symbolized in water at Bible House baptistry by 10 brethren and 31 sisters, after their public confession of faith in the redemption accomplished by the precious sacrifice of Christ, of their renunciation of sin, and of their full consecration to walk in Jesus' footsteps in self sacrifice, even unto death.
THE EVENT AND THE DAY
At the Memorial service explanation was made of why we celebrate the greatest event of history annually-- not weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. Not that the very day or hour or moment is of special consequence, but that it was meant to be a yearly celebration, and that so observed it is more than proportionately impressive. In fact, as all are aware, it could not be celebrated throughout the world at the same moment or hour or even on the same day, so great is the difference of time. For instance, the brethren in London had celebrated, and it was past midnight and they were asleep while we at Allegheny were celebrating. And for us to have partaken at the same hour with them would have been a day too early. A similar difficulty is met with by the Jews in their celebration of the Passover. History tells us that the early Church met with the same difficulty and that it was partly to correct this that it was decided to always commemorate our Lord's death on the day of the week nearest to the Passover date--"Good Friday." This arrangement has three advantages:--
(1) It groups the events of that momentous week more accurately before the mind's eye: Palm Sunday, when our Lord rode on the ass as King of the Jews; Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the Temple teaching; Thursday preparing for the Passover Supper eaten that night and followed by the institution of our Memorial Supper, the lessons and prayer of `John 14-17`, the experiences of Gethsemane, of Caiaphas' court, and on Friday morning before the Sanhedrin, and at Pilate's and Herod's palaces. Then the scenes of Calvary and Joseph's new tomb. Saturday our Lord lay dead, hope being buried with him. Sunday, the resurrection day, with its new hopes, then comes in most appropriately --an Easter-day of new hopes and impulses.
(2) It would bring us into closer fellowship and sympathy with those who celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and our celebration of the Memorial on Thursday night would suggest the appropriateness of that date and cause them the more to question the authority for and the wisdom of more frequent celebrations.
(3) In civilized lands Good Friday is quite generally a legal holiday, and all the associations and precious memories of our Lord's death-day would find the better opportunity for exercising our minds.
Since it is impossible for all to celebrate on the same night and hour anyway, the congregation was asked to consider these arguments for hereafter having the celebration on the Thursday night before Easter Sunday. And now the same thought is offered to all the dear friends scattered abroad.
THIS DO, REMEMBERING ME
The occasion was, as usual, a very solemn one as we communed respecting our Lord, the "Bread from heaven" broken for us. Nevertheless we rejoiced as we recognized in it a token of the "Love divine all love excelling." We rejoiced afresh as we assured our hearts that if God so loved us while we were yet sinners, much more does he love us now as he sees us daily striving to walk in the footsteps of Jesus,--"not after the flesh but after the spirit."
The bread spoke to us of the human rights of Jesus sacrificed for us and of which we who believe may eat-- appropriate by faith to ourselves, reckoning ourselves justified to all the rights originally possessed by Adam. Then we took the further lesson suggested by the Apostle's words,--"The loaf which we break, does it not signify the communion [fellowship] of the body of Christ? For we being many are one body: for we are all partakers of that one loaf."--`1 Cor. 10:17`.
The "cup" we recognized as symbolic of our Lord's blood--his life poured out during the three and a half years of his ministry and the dregs at Calvary. It was shed for us, yes, "shed for many for the remission of sins." Not the blood which flowed from our Redeemer's side when pierced by the soldier's spear. No, he was already dead then. Blood is used symbolically to represent life, and our Lord's life or being or soul was poured out unto death before the spear was thrust. We saw the necessity for this under God's law, that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins." While we sorrowed we again rejoiced, singing in our hearts unto the Lord--
"His blood can make the foulest clean.
His blood availed for me."
Then we got the still deeper meaning of the "cup" from the Spirit's teaching through the Apostle's words,-- "The cup of blessing for which we bless God, is it not a participating [sharing] of the blood of the Anointed One?" (`1 Cor. 10:16`.) Viewing it thus our Lord's words would have a deep meaning to our hearts, "Drink ye all of it;"--partake of my shame and death, walk in my steps; so shall ye be my disciples indeed and where I am there shall my disciples be.
We thanked God then for the privilege of being broken with him as part of the great loaf; and for the privilege of drinking of his cup and so filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ; assured that "if we suffer with him we shall reign with him."
About 550 were present and probably 525 partook of the emblems of the broken body and shed blood. Then we sang a hymn and went out to remember the scenes of the night of the betrayal, and of the day of suffering which followed it.