VOL. XXV. MARCH 1, 1904. No. 5.
Views From the Watch Tower........................ 67
"Wars and Rumors of Wars"..................... 67
Ten Thousand in Israel Who Have
not Bowed the Knee to Baal.................. 69
Justice Woodward on Republic's
A People's Palace............................. 70
Bibles Printed but Not Read................... 70
"Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus"............ 71
"Under His Wings"................................. 74
"Give Ye Them to Eat"............................. 76
Quarterly Review.................................. 79
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DAWN, VOL. VI. IS READY!
This long-delayed volume has at length reached our friends who have waited so patiently for it. We can fill all orders for it now promptly--in cloth and leather bindings. There will be no paper-bound edition.
REMITTANCES IN POSTAGE STAMPS.
We are pleased to receive small remittances in postage stamps of with orders for books, etc., if that is more convenient, but we request our friends to use great care in sending them. If carelessly inserted in letters so that the stamps are folded in the middle they are broken and become absolutely valueless. Fold them only on the perforations. Remember that the 25c and 50c packets sold by post offices are only worth 24c and 48c to us!
On the evening of Tuesday, March 29th, after six o'clock, will be the proper time for the celebration of our Lord's Memorial Supper;--on its anniversary according to the Jewish system of reckoning in vogue in our Lord's day and still. The Jewish Passover, lasting a week, begins the next evening at six o'clock. We do not celebrate the Passover, but the killing of the antitypical Passover Lamb. "Christ our Passover (Lamb) is slain for us, therefore let us keep the feast."--`I Cor. 5:7`.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
"WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS."
IN using the above words (`Matt. 24:6`) our Lord indicated by their connection that the mere fact of war should prove nothing to his people respecting the consummation of the age. They were to be otherwise guided in their discernment of the signs of the times. Whatever therefore we have to say respecting wars is based on some knowledge of the divine plan, aside from these frequently occurring disturbances.
Our expectations respecting a war have been realized. We based that expectation not on any private information, nor on prophecy, but upon the thought that unless war intervened to prolong the commercial prosperity of Christendom a great financial depression would be sure to come speedily; and because we could not see time enough for such a depression and a recovery from it and a subsequent depression, all before October, 1914, when prophecy teaches us to expect the great climax of earth's troubles. We have in the Scriptures what we think is clear testimony respecting that date, but no particulars or dates for the intervening time. It is not our intention to enter upon the role of prophet to any degree, but merely to give below what seems to us rather likely to be the trend of events--giving also the reasons for our expectations.
The present outlook is that the success of the Japanese over the Russians thus early in their war will prolong the conflict and quite probably draw into it many other civilized nations. The Russian character is badly damaged by the fall, and, as a result, haughtiness, pride and contempt for others, are among the unenviable characteristics of their ruling classes,--and the peace-loving Czar is under their control. This will make it doubly difficult for Russia, as a great nation, to accept defeat at the hands of a small nation like Japan, which they have scarcely been willing to acknowledge as civilized, or in any degree a factor in the world's affairs. It would, we believe, be wisdom on Russia's part to propose terms for peace; but remembering the proverb, "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall," we incline to think that Russia will blunder into a prolonged war, disastrous to her prestige, finances, etc.
Meantime Great Britain is seemingly disposed to use the opportunity of Russia's distraction to add Thibet-China to her empire, either directly or as a suzerainty. Thibet is a rich country, adjoins India on the east, and its people are peaceable--unskilled in modern warfare and could be easily subjugated if no European nation interfered--and Russia alone could or would interfere. The present, therefore, is England's auspicious moment for satisfying her "land-hunger"--for opening up a new market for the products of civilization.
Turkey will be restless, too, when she sees her chief opponent, Russia, busy afar off.
France, Russia's ally, will feel keenly for Russia, and were it not for the alliance between Great Britain and Japan she most surely would back her ally and send her powerful fleet against the Japanese. She well knows, however, that this would bring England to the assistance of Japan, and that the British fleet is the most powerful in the world. Still, pride and "honor" are powerful factors with the French, who are a very excitable people, and there is no knowing when she may conclude that "French honor" demands her participation in the war.
The German Emperor, we may be sure, could scarcely remain quiet at such an auspicious moment as the present one for "cutting a dash" that would bring himself and Germany into prominence before the world. He will probably seek to befriend Russia, his powerful neighbor on the east, to secure her friendship and also to, if possible, break the tie now uniting France and
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Russia. Thus Germany and France may yet vie with each other for Russia's friendship and may both be led into the war.
Even the United States may become involved, improbable as that may at present appear. If the Great Powers of Europe become involved, as above suggested, it would be very difficult for this nation to remain neutral. The seed for trouble is already planted in the "Note" sent by the American Secretary of State to the Great Powers, proposing that the war be limited so as not to involve the independence of China. The "Note" is simple enough and well intentioned, and beneficent, and has been generally assented to, but it may not be lived up to by all, and the United States may yet feel "honor-bound" to insist on the terms of that agreement, and this may mean participation in war.
We do not say that the foregoing will take place, nor that it is likely to occur: we are merely outlining bare possibilities. Nevertheless, there is something behind it worth considering; because the Scriptures seem to imply some sort of a general war preceding or connected with the great time of trouble--anarchy--with which this age will close and usher in the Millennial period. For instance `Joel (3:9-16`) calls on all the nations to prepare for war; to beat plowshares and pruninghooks into swords and spears, to cause pursuits of agriculture to give place to pursuits of war, and for even the weak among the nations to feign strength. The connection shows this to be at about the present time, and mentions that the "harvest" is ripe (also `Rev. 14:15-20`) and the Lord's holy ones as about to "come down." This may be fulfilled in the anarchy in which "every man's hand shall be against his neighbor," but we incline to expect its fulfilment in a general and worldwide call to arms.
Another reason why we incline to expect a general war is, that at present the nations are so strong that a successful anarchous uprising against them would be little short of a miracle. But such a general war would increase taxation and breed general discontent alarmingly and quickly, causing the seeds of Socialist propaganda to shoot up and blossom and bring forth red-handed anarchy speedily. The credit of the nations would be weakened also by their increased debts; money would become proportionately scarce and interest rates proportionately higher, with corresponding effects influencing the general welfare and prosperity of Christendom.
ANOTHER FACTOR--RELIGIOUS AMBITIONS.
It may appear strange to consider religious ambitions a factor provocative of war; but it is true, nevertheless, that misguided emotions, supposedly religious, have been potent factors in many wars. Just now the apathy of the public of Christendom on religious subjects is noted as a result of the love of money and the cares of business. All the more those of religious proclivities are looking for another issue more popular than personal repentance, faith in the precious blood and consecration to divine service. They have been seeking it in "social uplift" schemes which have been more or less successful; and now the "civilization" of the uttermost parts of the earth is the popular scheme amongst them. They tell us that the conversion of the world is merely a question of dollars and cents, but do not explain to us why it is that the lands of dollars and cents are the lands of discontent and murder and suicide, etc., more than others. As an evidence of this spirit of aggression "for Christ's sake," note the following:--
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EXTRACT FROM (METHODIST) BISHOP FOWLER'S "GREAT MISSIONARY SERMON," GIVING HIS VIEW OF THE
POWER WHICH WILL WIN THE WORLD
"If the storm breaks upon the world too suddenly, and all the other Powers stand back and leave the contest to the English-speaking peoples, we even then can defend our rights, save the world from Russian absolutism and meet the high obligation thrust upon us by a friendly Providence; provided that the strife is like the old Talke-knife strife of the Swedes, where the contestants were bound together by a rope around their waists and, each armed with a stout knife, fought the mortal combat to the finish; provided that we understand its decisive character and have but one argument, and that war to the bitter end; that we have but one plan, and that victory or death, and that we have but one purpose, the absolute control of the Pacific, cost what it may. With such convictions and purposes we can help Liberty to her last and final triumph, and secure civil and religious freedom for mankind forever....A wise and sleepless Providence has cared for us, even before our cradles were made, and furnished defences for our use.
"So God has made ready his channels, and can easily cut the leashes of storm and tempest about the centers of English-speaking peoples, these homes of liberty and Christianity. It is for us merely to use the defences offered us."
The Bishop then proceeded to say to the assembled mission-workers that "the great Methodist Church is only playing at saving the world;" that if an earnest effort were made to straighten the traces, the M.E. Church alone, instead of struggling to raise one million and a half could raise more than three hundred million dollars a year for missions. "But even with one-third of that amount of holy, consecrated money what could we not accomplish?" exclaims the Bishop, and adds: "The world's salvation is reduced to a question of dollars and cents! We have the blood of the atonement; we have the resurrection of the Son of God; we have the Gospel; we have the experience of saving grace; we have the theology and a host of scholarly believers; we have the material agencies, Bibles, presses, steamboats, railroads and an open world--everything ready and waiting--all we lack is money." And yet he concludes,
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"This generation of believers will see the salvation of this generation of sinners, and the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdoms of our God and of his Christ."
TEN THOUSAND IN ISRAEL WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE
KNEE TO BAAL.
Quite a furor of excitement has been aroused in Presbyterian circles in Canada by the action of the congregation known as "Cooke's Presbyterian Church." This Church, in company with others, has been in the habit of taking up yearly collections to assist in maintaining Knox College, Toronto. At the usual time for voting the money this last year, the pastor called attention to the fact that if the money were donated as usual, it would be in effect the rendering of assistance to the enemies of God's Word. He set forth that the teachings of the college were along the lines of higher criticism, especially arraigning Professor McFayden. He pointed out that higher criticism was really the worst form of infidelity that had yet attacked the Lord's people, and recommended that the donation be not made until the congregation had some assurance from the college authorities that such donations would not hereafter be used against the Word of God, but for the reverent expounding of it.
We are glad to note this evidence that some are still on the side of the Lord and of his Word. The majority are rapidly falling away into unbelief, and day by day the cleavage, the separation between these two classes, believers and unbelievers, in all the churches of Christendom is becoming wider and wider.
Prof. McFayden is unquestionably a full-fledged higher critic, otherwise an agnostic. But he is one of the wise ones who, instead of attacking the Bible, has written recently what might properly be termed AN APOLOGY FOR HIGHER CRITICISM. His book, while avoiding higher criticism most explicitly, is written to show that higher criticism is honest, is candid, is truthful, is necessary, that it will do no harm, that ultimately it will do much good, and, to use his own expression, "while removing the old landmarks, it will not remove the land." These subtle leaders and teachers are the most injurious of all. They pretend a reverence for the holy things and a disinclination to mar them, but assume superiority of wisdom and of honesty which compels them to take the stand they do in opposition to their own preferences. We have no right to question the honesty of Prof. McFayden, and other college and seminary professors and ministers, any more than we have a right to question the honesty of Voltaire, Thomas Paine or Robert Ingersoll. We assume that these men were all honest, but they were none the less enemies of the Lord's Word, adversaries in the most absolute sense, as the Lord used that word concerning Peter when the latter opposed the Truth. The difficulty with all of these professors and free-thinkers is that they are natural men and not New Creatures--that they were never begotten of the holy Spirit, and hence cannot see and understand spiritual things. Besides, their position in society and professionally has made them arrogant and self-conceited. From their standpoint the words of the Book have become to them foolishness. As the Scriptures declare, the world by wisdom knows not God. The Word of God is to be understood from its internal testimony. "If any man will do my Father's will, he shall know of the doctrine." To us who believe, the Gospel of Christ, as expressed by Jesus and the apostles, and their reference to and corroboration of the prophecies, is the power of God and the wisdom of God. But these are evidences only to those who can see them, and none can see them except the eyes of his understanding be opened that he "may be able to comprehend with all saints the lengths and breadths and heights and depths, and to know the love of God which passeth all understanding." (`Eph. 3:18`.) As our Lord said on the same line to his faithful followers, "To you it is given to know of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to them who are without all these things are done in parables and dark sayings, that hearing they might hear and not understand." Again he said, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes: Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight."--`Luke 8:10`; `10:21`.
We wondered to what extent the action of "Cooke's Presbyterian Church" would meet with the approval of other Presbyterians, and a Toronto journal, dated January 23, before us, gives us the desired information. A reporter for this paper called upon the other Presbyterian ministers of Toronto to ascertain how the question appealed to them, and their replies are given. So far as we observe, every one of the seventeen ministers either avowed their sympathies with higher criticism, or dodged the question, and thus implied that they were to some extent at least ashamed of the Lord and of his Word. One of the ministers, Rev. T. R. Robinson, said that he was amused at the course of Cooke's Presbyterian Church, and did not think it would likely have many imitators. He added that he thought the chief danger to Knox College was not so much the loss of financial support, as a possibility that Professor McFayden might become weary of the treatment he was receiving from his opponents, and leave.
How clear are the evidences that the falling away from the faith is upon us, and that, as the prophet foretold, a thousand shall fall to one who stands. (`Psa. 91:7`.) How necessary that we should have well in mind the words of the Apostle, "Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."-- `Eph. 6:13`.
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JUSTICE WOODWARD ON THE REPUBLIC'S PERILS.
Speaking at a secular gathering in Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, N.Y., recently, Justice Woodward said in part:--
"Ours is a democratic government founded on ideas of equality and simplicity, but nowhere is there more of ostentation or of enervating luxury. Fundamentally, also, we are opposed to war and to the entangling diplomatic complications, yet we have forsaken the policy of the Fathers and have chosen a road whose end no man can see.
"In no country is the Church so strong as in America, yet in no civilized country is there so much of robbery and of murder. No other land has so excellent a school system, so free a press, and so just and equitable a law, yet no modern nation has suffered so much from the violence of the mob.
"We all recognize also the absolute perfidy of the citizen who, chosen to public office, proceeds to plunder the community that has invested him with the seal of its confidence; yet of such malfeasance in office we hear almost every day.
"Every true patriot--that is, every man who has the future of his country at heart--must, during the last year, have been brought to an intense realization of the fact that we are face to face with a crisis--a crisis whose results no man knows, and which it is our supreme duty to meet like men.
"We are not now confronted with an alien foe; neither are we menaced by rebellion. But the dangers that threaten us today are no less to be feared. Far more insidious, they threaten the very life of the Republic. How shall we stem the money madness of the time? How shall we combat the growing canker of official dishonor? How shall we overcome the menace of the mob? These are the evils that suck the very life-blood of our liberties, these are the sins that tarnish our national honor with deep stain....
"We have enlarged the sphere of our influence in Europe, in Asia, and on the seas--until today we are hailed as the foe of tyrants and the friend of the oppressed.
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We stand ready, if need be, to conquer the wide world--but alas, like the great Alexander, we have failed to conquer ourselves."
A PEOPLE'S PALACE.
The New York Tribune, says:--
"The largest Congregational church of New Jersey has begun the erection of a people's palace, in which there will be rooms for dancing and card games as well as for Church meetings and Sunday School. The corner-stone of the structure was laid yesterday on Jersey City Heights.
"In the words of the pastor, the Rev. John L. Scudder, 'the People's Palace' will sanctify all legitimate amusements, and not let the devil have a monopoly of them. It will keep boys off the streets, young men out of saloons and young women out of the dance halls." Accordingly, beneath the roof of this building, there will be bowling alleys, pool and billiard tables, rifle ranges, a theatre, a ballroom, an armory, a gymnasium, together with accommodations for many more amusements, and on the roof there will be a garden for summer recreations.
"Above the auditorium, on the fourth and top floors, will be situated the gymnasium, which is also to be used on certain occasions as an armory. Among other innovations, Mr. Scudder has established a cadet corps, composed of 175 boys, and in this room they will be drilled in the use of weapons of war. A large adjacent room is to be devoted to the quartermaster's department, and will be fitted up with gun racks, drums, cannon and other military paraphernalia. The armory floor will be of hard maple and the walls will be lined with maple sheathing.
"The entire basement will be devoted to popular amusements. It will contain six regulation bowling alleys, and individual and club lockers will be furnished those who prefer private tenpin balls and a place to keep their bowling slippers. Other space will be devoted to shuffleboards, pool and billiard tables and table tennis. Separated from these amusements by a heavy brick wall there will be a rifle range with an adjustable counter to increase or diminish the shooting distance. Near by there will be a smoking room which may, by means of folding doors, be connected with a restaurant, and thus furnish a large hall for diners or smokers. From an elevated platform spectators will be able to watch the games."
* * *
Evidently the old idea that a change of heart--a full consecration of the life to the Lord--is a prime necessity for the production of a true Christian, is rapidly giving way to the thought that a Christian is just the same as others, except that he avoids grossness and offensiveness. Morality is now the standard and not, as previously, Faith and Morality. We are in the "harvest" time and both the "tares" and "wheat" are ripening, and daily it becomes easier to distinguish the one from the other. Now is the time to thrust in the sickle of Present Truth and gather the wheat to fellowship with the present Lord.
BIBLES PRINTED AND SOLD BUT NOT READ.
Dr. N. M. Butler, president of Columbia University, discussing the subject of Religious Education recently, said, as reported in the N.Y. Journal:--
"One of the most pathetic sights in America is the ordinary Sunday School, taught by untrained persons not properly co-ordinate; text books the poorest; ideals the most vague; yet to that we are supposed to trust the rising generations for their systematic religious teaching."
"Public opinion in the United States is overwhelmingly in favor of secular education," he declared, "for men will agree on the history of everything of the past or the present except religion."
Dr. Butler said that the place for the religious education was in the family and in the Church, but that "the trouble with the Church is that it preaches too much and does not teach enough." He then spoke of the teaching in the Sunday School, and said that there was next to no religious teaching in the home. He said that every time he had said that, he was told that the Bible Society had sold many more Bibles this year than the year before. "I don't care how many Bibles are sold," said the Doctor "I want to know what becomes of them. I am pretty sure they are not read."
* * *
We fear that Dr. Butler's opinion is too true--that Church-going, Sunday-School attendance, Bible-owning, and participation in the exercises of Epworth Leagues, etc., are forms of godliness which to the majority are without the power of the holy Spirit--the power of consecration.
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A NEW DOGMA: THE "ASSUMPTION" OF VIRGIN MARY.
It is nearly fifty years since Pope Pius IX. decreed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of our Lord's mother. The present pope, Pius X., it is said, purposes soon to decree that it shall be the faith of Romanism that the Virgin's flesh did not corrupt in death-- that she was received direct into heaven. It is conceded that the place and time of her death are not certainly known. On the strength of this lack of knowledge the Pope assumes that she experienced "Assumption."
The dogma of the Virgin's immaculate conception is not only contrary to the Word of God--that condemnation passed upon all of Adam's posterity--but it reflects against the divine character and plan thus: If God could justly and properly so arrange that one of Adam's race should be born sinless he might have done the same for us all. And if our birth in sin is God's fault, to that extent he is responsible for all the deformity, mental and physical, with which we are born. In that event Christ's death as the ransom-price for Adamic sin was unnecessary. Let God be true--let his Word stand, though it make every creed and dogma of men appear foolish.
Similarly the dogma of the Assumption is unscriptural. Ascension to glory is to come by resurrection. Our Lord himself was the first-born from the dead, and no member of his Church was to be received into glory with him until he would "come again and receive us unto himself."
SAMSON'S BEE-STORY PARALLELED.
The account of Samson's slaying a lion by tearing it open, and of his subsequently finding honey in its carcase, has been very widely discredited; because bees are particular and generally seek very different storehouses for their honey. However, the workmen in the J. W. Goodwin lumber camp in Ovid Township, Branch County, Michigan, have recently come across a parallel instance. On cutting down a black ash tree recently they found it hollow, and in the cavity the carcase of a large raccoon full of wild-bee honey and apparently preserved by the sweets, though some of the hair of the hide had fallen off. The curiosity was sent to the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
CONSOLIDATIONS SAVING $5,000,000 A YEAR CAUSE
HARDSHIP TO MANY.
Following its announced policy of centralization, the International Harvester Company has decided to lay off 7,500 of its 19,000 employes, and thus save $5,000,000 a year. Already 1,500 employes of the Deering division have been informed that their services were no longer required, and as many more are to be laid off. In the McCormick division 1,500 employes are slated for dismissal. The other 3,000 workers to lose positions are employed in the mills in Milwaukee, Springfield, Ohio, and Plano.
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"DO ALL IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS."
"Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."--`Col. 3:17`.
WHETHER he realizes it or not, each one who professes to be a Christian speaks and acts in the name of the Lord Jesus. The thought of our text therefore must be that we should endeavor to keep this fact continually before our minds, to the intent that our actions and words may properly represent our Lord and honor the name which he has permitted us to bear. Imagine a maiden from the lower strata of society married to a prince of royal blood. We can imagine a true wife under such circumstances extremely careful of her every word and action, seeking to have these as nearly as possible comport with her new station in life--her new relationship. We can well imagine that from the moment of her espousal the thought of her husband's high position and of her responsibility as his helpmate and family representative, would lead her to guard particularly her every action and word. From the time that she assumes his name, or acknowledges that she is espoused to him, whatever she does or says must of necessity be either to the credit or the discredit of his name. Elsewhere the Apostle wrote respecting the Lord's people, likening them to a "chaste virgin espoused to one husband, which is Christ;" hence this picture very accurately represents our present responsibilities to the great name which our heavenly Bridegroom has granted us permission to use as his espoused. What an honor to be his representatives in the world! and what a responsibility to bear his name!
Another scriptural illustration well represents the manner in which our words and conduct--good or bad--are all done in the name of the Lord Jesus from the time we formally confess him. The Apostle's words are, we are "ambassadors for Christ," "who also hath made us able ministers of the New Covenant." (`2 Cor. 3:6`; `5:20`.) The United States appoints ambassadors or ministers of state to foreign countries. These are all supposed to be persons of good, reputable character before they are chosen, but we can well suppose that the most honorable and discreet amongst them, after realizing the dignity of such an appointment, would feel doubly impressed with the responsibility of his position. Previously he acted in his own name, and because of his own self-respect and personal love of justice, truth, honor, etc., he was careful of his words and conduct; but now he has not only the same personal responsibility but, additionally, an appreciation of
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the fact that the nation he represents will be either honored or dishonored by his course. If he were careful about his language and conduct before, his carefulness would be increased many fold. And then, because of his official position as the representative of a great nation, his words and actions would be more critically weighed than previously by those who know him to be the American ambassador; and we may be sure that morning, noon and night a realization of his position as representative of a great nation would be with him, prompting him to prudence. He would realize as never before that, whatsoever he said or did, all would be either to the credit or discredit of the nation whose general character and policy he represents-- in whose name he speaks and acts.
If it is an honorable matter to represent one great civilized nation of earth before another, how much more honorable it is to represent the heavenly Kingdom and its King of kings and Lord of lords before the "children of this world." If we as Christians could keep this thought always prominent before our minds what a dignity it would add to our character! what a transforming power it would be! what an assistance to the new nature in its battle with the low and groveling tendencies of the old nature now disowned by us and reckoned dead! "Our citizenship is in heaven," says the Apostle. "Ye are not of this world, even as I am not of this world," says our Master, Jesus. While still living in the world we are not of it, but have transferred our allegiance and citizenship to the heavenly Kingdom,--set free through the merits of "him who loved us and bought us with his precious blood." And now as the appointees of our Kingdom, while still living in the world amongst aliens and strangers, we as representatives and ambassadors should feel both the dignity and the honor of the position and the weighty responsibilities, and ever keep in memory the Apostle's words, "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Another scriptural figure represents us as the "members of the body of Christ" under our Lord Jesus as our Head. "As he was so are we in this world." When Jesus was here in the flesh he suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might bring men to God. Since his exaltation according to the divine plan such of the redeemed ones as now enjoy the hearing ear and understanding heart, and as are in full sympathy with the Lord's great plan, are called to be joint-heirs with him in his Kingdom--to be changed from human nature to spirit nature in a resurrection like that which highly exalted our great Head. But all such are called upon to demonstrate their loyalty to the Lord by walking in his footsteps. Because of their ignorance, superinduced by the great Adversary, the world hated our Master, opposed him, said all manner of evil against him falsely; and he requires that those whom he shall ultimately recognize as members of the glorious Kingdom class shall now attest their loyalty by being so faithful to him, and to the principles of righteousness for which he suffered, that they will draw upon themselves more or less of the same opposition of the world which he endured.
As his was a most honorable position as the ambassador and representative of the Father, so ours is the same, for he counts us as members of his body, his flesh and his bones. But he forewarns us not to expect worldly appreciation of the high standards of his teaching, but contrarywise, in proportion as we are faithful unto him and the heavenly Kingdom of light--in proportion as we let our light so shine that men may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven--we will, nevertheless, draw against ourselves the opposing forces of darkness. Our Lord explains this, saying, that the darkness and those who are of the darkness hate the light, and therefore oppose all who are children of the light in proportion as they are faithful representatives of it.
We see, then, that when the prophets spoke "beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow," those sufferings included not only the tribulations upon the Head, Christ Jesus, but those also to be endured by all the members of his body before the ushering in of the Kingdom glories--before the change of all the members of the body to the spiritual nature--before their shining forth as the sun in the Millennial Kingdom glory, for the blessing of all the families of the earth with the true light and opportunity for return to harmony with God.
As ambassadors, therefore--as representatives of the Lord Jesus, members of his body, bearers of his name--we are not to expect under present conditions that our embassage will be highly esteemed among men; rather we should "marvel not if the world hate us, for we know that it hated him before it hated us." (`John 15:18`; `I John 3:13`.) But we are also to remember that an ambassador of a hated government is more critically and unsympathetically watched than under other circumstances, and that such ambassadors would endeavor to be all the more careful as respects their every word and action.
This subject may be viewed from still another standpoint. With some the tendency is that, whatsoever they do, whether in word or deed, they shall do all in their own name--for their own credit, for their own glory. This is a spirit and disposition contrary to those which the Lord is seeking, and he who maintains such a disposition will surely not be accounted worthy of any place in the Kingdom, whatever may be his ultimate end. The class which the Lord is seeking will be composed of those only who have such an appreciation of the Lord and his grace, manifested in their redemption and forgiveness of sins and call to fellowship with him in his suffering and subsequent glory, that they will take delight in crediting all the honor, all the praise, to him. Not only their honor and praise for salvation, but additionally their credit for any kind deeds or benevolences or services they may be able to render to any. They will be glad to be able to do something in his name--to the glory of him who did so much for them.
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Their sentiment of heart is well expressed in the Apostle's words: "We thus judge, that since one died for all, all were dead, and that we who live should not henceforth live unto ourselves but unto him who died for us"--"doing all things in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Another erroneous custom amongst those who have named the name of Christ is that of ignoring his name in favor of some sectarian name. Such as are thus misled consecrate themselves, devote their lives, talents, etc., and spend these talents and opportunities in seeking to glorify the names of human institutions. One does all in the name of Methodism; another in the name of Presbyterianism; another in the name of Lutheranism; another in the name of Roman Catholicism, etc. This is all a mistake. None of these names were ever authorized by the Lord; and who can confidently depend upon it that even the best of works done in these names and for the upbuilding of these institutions, which the Lord and his apostles neither instituted nor authorized, will be accounted of the Lord as just the same as though his admonition through the Apostle had been heeded,--"Do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus"?
Another view of the subject is this: many are unauthorizedly using the name of the Lord Jesus in combination with the name of some earthly institution. Mark the words:--"Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to take my name into thy mouth, seeing thou hatest instruction and casteth my words behind thee?" The wicked here are not the worldly wicked, but those who have a form of godliness and deny the power thereof-- those who draw nigh unto the Lord with their lips while their hearts are far from him. These covenant-breakers are the wicked of this text. These the Lord reproves, telling them that they have no right to take his name--to attempt to speak in his name and call themselves Christians, to advertise themselves before the world as his representatives and ambassadors, when as a matter of fact he disowns them.
If a sharply dividing line were drawn in the Church, which would place on the one side the sincere believers in the precious blood, begotten of the holy Spirit, and thus recognized of God as his ambassadors,--and on the other side of the line all those who are merely nominal Christians and without either ability or authority to act as representatives of the heavenly Kingdom, what a small number it would leave on the Lord's side amenable to the Apostle's words in our text and ready to be influenced by the presentation of them we are here making! There are some who are anxious to get the worldly to sing the song of Zion, to get the worldly to name the name of Christ in religious profession: but we are not of these. We are anxious to recognize as brethren in the Lord all who hold "the faith once delivered to the saints"--faith in the Lord and in the salvation which he is yet to bring to us at his revelation--and who on the strength of such faith have presented their bodies living sacrifices to God, and are therefore commissioned of the Lord to be his representatives and to bear his name; but we would be glad indeed to see all others than these discard the precious name which they misrepresent.
Would it seem like a great falling away? We answer that it would affect only the "tare" class, and that all the true "wheat" would be much better off separate from the
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"tares." It is only the holy class the Lord recognizes as his, anyway. The great mass of professors have neither part nor lot in his present grace. The sooner we learn that at the present time the Lord is choosing out of the world a peculiar people, zealous for his name and delighting to do his will, and that the hope of all others lies in the Millennial Kingdom, with its chastisements and corrections of righteousness and uplifting influences, the greater will be the benefit to ourselves who are seeking to make our calling and election sure to a place in that Kingdom.
One of the ten commandments given to the Jews forbade their taking the name of the Lord in vain; and although this commandment was not given to spiritual Israel we can readily see how the spirit of it comes to us. The spirit of that commandment applied to us would not relate to profane swearing, cursing, etc., but rather to a misappropriation of the Lord's name. We have taken the name of Christ as our name. We are counted as members of the body of Christ. The holy name of the Head belongs to all the members of the body. The honored name of the Bridegroom belongs to his espoused. What carefulness the thought of this should give us, and how appropriately we should say to ourselves:--"I must see to it that I have not taken the Lord's name in vain,--that I appreciate the honor, dignity and responsibility of my position as his representative and ambassador in the world. I will walk circumspectly, seeking as far as possible to bring no dishonor to that name, but contrariwise to honor it in every thought and word and deed."
Nothing in this should be understood to mean that our Lord expects from us absolute perfection. He merely expects us to do all in our power to glorify him "in our bodies and our spirits which are his." Nor are we to consider the Apostle to mean that whatsoever things we do, in word or in deed, are all to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus--with the hope that by thus doing things well we shall obtain salvation. The thought is really the reverse of this. Those whom the Apostle is addressing are the "saints at Colosse," and the words are applicable today only to a similar class--"saints." Only the "saints" are authorized to take the Lord's name and act as his ambassadors and representatives. And this honorable position came to them because their sins had already been forgiven by the grace of God--through faith in the precious blood; and because on the strength of this forgiveness of sins they had been called to membership in the body of Christ which is the Church;--and because they had accepted this invitation and presented their bodies living sacrifices to the Lord.
Having thus properly, legally, officially taken the name of Jesus upon us, and having been acknowledged by having
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had his Spirit shed abroad in our hearts, and having been promised in addition the completion of this work of grace at the close of this age, we seek to speak and to act to his name and to his glory, not in hope of obtaining forgiveness of sins, but because we have obtained divine favor and because we appreciate the same and love him who first loved us. This loving devotion to him whose name we bear must with all "saints" be the power of God, working in us to will and do his good pleasure;--to honor his name and to serve his cause to the best of our ability. And the best of our ability, thank God! is accepted in the Beloved as perfection. How gracious are the divine providences! The more we realize these things the more careful and circumspect they will make us,--that whatsoever we do, in word or deed, it shall all be done in the name of Jesus and to his glory.
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"UNDER HIS WINGS!"
"He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou find shelter."--`Psa. 91:4`.--Leeser.
IN the midst of the "perilous times" of this "evil day," and of the warning voices of prophets and apostles pointing out snares and pestilences and subtle dangers on every hand--and in the midst, too, of a realizing sense of the actual existence of such evil besetments and perils--how precious to the saints are the assurances of divine protection and care and personal love!
We call to mind the gracious promises of our Lord --"The Father himself loveth you;" "Fear not, little flock; it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom;" and "He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him;...and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him.... Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." --`John 16:27`; `14:21,23,27`; `Luke 12:32`.
But warning voices and wholesome counsel are also necessary; and he is not wise who turns a deaf ear to them, and takes cognizance alone of the comforting assurances which are designed only for those who faithfully "watch and pray lest they enter into temptation." Every soldier of the cross needs to heed the Apostle's warnings--"Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand;" and again, "Let us fear lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it;" and fear also "lest, as the serpent [Satan] beguiled Eve, through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ;" "for grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them." "Behold," said our Lord, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves."-- `Eph. 6:13`; `Heb. 4:1`; `2 Cor. 11:3`; `Acts 20:29,30`; `Matt. 10:16`.
It is necessary for the discipline, trial and final proving of the Church of God that they should be subjected to these adverse influences; for to him that overcometh them is the promise of the great reward. If we would reign with Christ, we must prove our worthiness to reign by the same tests of loyalty to God, of faith in his Word, of zeal for the Truth, of patient endurance of reproach and persecution, even unto death, and of unwavering trust in the power and purpose of God to deliver and exalt his Church in due time. To such faithful ones are the blessed consolations of `Psa. 91`. Hearken--
`Verse 1`. "He who abideth in the secret place of the Most High [typified by the Most Holy or Sanctuary] shall rest under the shadow of the Almighty." We thus place ourselves under the divine protection when, having come to a knowledge of God's willingness to accept us as his children, we gratefully accept the invitation and approach in his appointed way, through Christ our Redeemer, and consecrate ourselves fully to his service. Such may sweetly rest in the precious promises of God, all of which are "yea and amen in Christ Jesus." (`2 Cor. 1:20`.) The world does not see the overshadowing wings of divine protection, but the faithful have a blessed secret realization of it. Praise the Lord!
`Verse 2`. "I [Christ Jesus, whom David here, as elsewhere, personifies, and who thus addresses his body, his Church] will say of Jehovah, who is my refuge and my stronghold, my God in whom I ever trust" (`John 20:17`)--
`Verse 3`. "That he will surely deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, [from the deceptions of Satan, in which all those not protected shall stumble; for our Lord said that so subtle and deceptive will they be that, if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect. But this is not possible, for those who are making their calling and election sure abide under the protection of the Almighty] and from the pestilence of destruction." [Not from the destructive pestilences of physical disease, but from the moral and spiritual pestilences of destruction--from the sinful propensities of the old nature, which, in unguarded moments, are liable to assert their mastery and overwhelm
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the souls of those who are not abiding under the secret protection of the Most High; and from the spiritual pestilences of false doctrine which, with subtle sophistry, destroy the faith of the unwatchful. Such pestilences are already abroad in the shape of so-called Christian Science, Spiritualism and the various no-ransom theories which take the name of The Larger Hope, and which bid fair, both from present prospects and from the prophetic outlook, ere long to become epidemic. From all these pestilences the Lord's elect shall be protected, resting sweetly under the shadow of the Almighty.]
`Verse 4`. "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou find shelter. [So close to his heart does Jehovah gather his loyal and faithful children that they feel the warmth of his love, and the responsive language of their hearts is, "I will abide in thy tabernacle"--under thy protection --"forever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings; for thou hast been a shelter for me and a strong tower from the enemy; for thou hast heard my vows"--my consecration--"thou hast given me the heritage of
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those that fear thy name."--`Psa. 61:4,3,5`] His truth shall be thy shield and buckler"--thy protection. Yes, his Truth--that grand system of truth comprised in the divine Plan of the Ages--is an ample shield and buckler to all who in simplicity of heart receive it and prove faithful to it. It is the armor of God which the Apostle urges all the faithful to put on--to appropriate, to meditate upon and to store up the Truth in mind and heart--that they may be able, by its use, to withstand error and evil in every form presented to them in this evil day.
`Verse 5`. "Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night [the dark night of which the Prophet Isaiah and also the Lord spoke, saying, "The morning" --the Millennial morning--"cometh, and also the night"--the great time of trouble which shall immediately precede it, the night "wherein no man can labor" for the dissemination of divine truth: so great will be "the terror," the tumult and trouble and persecution of that night.--`Isa. 21:12`; `John 9:4`]; nor for the arrow ["even bitter words" of the opponents of the Truth--`Psa. 64:3`] that flieth by day" [at the present time, which, in comparison with the dark night that is coming, is called day].
`Verse 6`. "Nor for the pestilence [moral and spiritual] that walketh in darkness [that spreads and makes its victims among those who are ignorant of the Truth, or who are unfaithful to it and hence unworthy of it, and who therefore lack the divine protection and are subject to the "strong delusions" of error--`2 Thes. 2:11`]; nor for the destruction [caused by these pestilences] that wasteth at noon-day" [that subverts the faith and hope of many, just when the light of divine Truth is shining clearest upon the faithful, as it is shining upon us today.]
`Verse 7`. "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand [so great will be the falling away from the Truth, even among those who, like ourselves, received it once with joy and who did for a time run well]; but it shall not come nigh thee." --Because of thy loyalty and uncompromising faithfulness and because of the ample armor of truth and righteousness, thou shalt stand and not fall.
`Verse 8`. "Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the recompense of the wrongdoers"-- who reject the Truth or who prove unfaithful to it.
`Verses 9,10`. "Because thou hast said, 'The Lord is my protection;' because the Most High thou hast made thy refuge, no evil shall befall thee" [no evils of the kind above referred to; and any other seeming evils shall, under divine providence, work together for your good--`Rom. 8:28`].
`Verse 11`. "For he shall give his angels [messengers] a charge concerning thee, to guard thee in all thy ways. [That is, God will raise up some faithful pastors and teachers who will "watch for your souls as they that must give an account." True, there shall arise false teachers, perverting the Word of the Lord and seeking by cunning sophistries to subvert your souls; but if in simplicity of heart God's children require a "Thus saith the Lord" for every element of their faith, and carefully prove all things by the Word, they will be able to distinguish readily the true from the false. And having done so, the Apostle Paul (`Heb. 13:17`) counsels us to have confidence. The Lord, our Shepherd, will care for the true sheep.]
`Verse 12`. "They shall bear thee [all the members of the body of Christ, individually and collectively] up in their hands [using their strength], lest thou dash thy foot against a stone"--any stumblingstone of false doctrine, and especially that great fundamental rock-doctrine of the redemption through the precious blood of Christ;--that "rock of offense and stone of stumbling" to both the houses of nominal Israel (fleshly and spiritual). (`Isa. 8:14`.) The "feet" of the body are its last members; the saints now living are members of the "feet of him" (Christ), the ones who are now in danger of being stumbled, as the feet of the Jewish house of servants were in danger in the end or harvest of the Jewish age.
How do such messengers of the Lord bear up the feet of Christ? By helping them to a clear understanding of the Truth, and teaching and encouraging
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them by word and example how to be faithful to the Truth, and how to run so as to attain to the mark for the prize of our high calling.
`Verse 13`. "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet."--Thus borne up in the hands of the Lord's faithful messengers and guarded by their vigilant watchfulness, and under the constant protection of the Most High, God's trusting, faithful children shall triumph over every device of Satan either to overpower or beguile them--whether he boisterously goes about as a roaring lion, or whether, serpent-like, he stealthily lurks about to insert his venomous poison.
`Verse 14`. "Because he hath set his love upon me [saith Jehovah], therefore will I deliver him [from the pestilence, etc.]: I will set him on high [exalt him to joint-heirship with Christ, make him a member of the "Royal Priesthood," and a "partaker of the divine nature"], because he hath known [appreciated] my name."
`Verses 15,16`. "He shall call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life [eternal life--`John 10:28,29`; `Rom. 2:1`] will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation"--make him understand my plan.
Praise the Lord for such assurances of his loving care! "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!"
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"GIVE YE THEM TO EAT."
--`MATT. 14:13-23`.--MARCH 20.--
Golden Text:--"Jesus said unto them,
I am the Bread of Life."--`John 6:35`.
ON hearing of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus crossed the Lake of Galilee,--out of the dominion of Herod. Possibly his thought was that his ministry was not yet concluded, and that Herod, having shown such boldness against John, might seek to interfere with his labors and the completion of his ministry. Or possibly he feared that a rebellious spirit might be aroused amongst the people--and his teachings would seem to foster this. An intimation of the kind is given in the fact that after the miracle the people sought to make Jesus king. To have encouraged any such matter would be to have opposed what he recognized to be the divine arrangement.
Possibly, as some of the epistles seem to intimate, Jesus sought privacy with his apostles that he might contemplate the character of the work he was to do. Evidence of his growing popularity at this time is given in the fact that so large a multitude went afoot for many miles around the shore of the lake that they might be with him and hear his precious words of life--parables, etc., respecting the Kingdom which he proposed to establish, and in which all his apostles and all his faithful were to share.
INSTANT IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON.
When Jesus saw the multitude his heart was filled with compassion, and he could not withhold himself from them. In season and out of season, so far as his convenience was concerned, he must work the works of God, lay down his life inch by inch, hour by hour. We read that "he had compassion on the multitude," for they were as sheep without a shepherd. They had a heart-hunger, although they knew not what it was really, for they longed for higher, better, nobler conditions than surrounded them, and this great Teacher seemed to have words such as none other had for them--words of hope, of reconciliation with God, of divine providence and care. Those who sat in Moses' seat (scribes and Pharisees, `Matt. 23:2`) were so filled with a misconception of their proper attitude toward God, misled so, that they merely banded themselves together to enjoy the divine promises and to appropriate them to themselves, and give up the remainder of their nation as publicans and sinners, considering them too lacking in piety to have divine favor or any part or lot in the Kingdom privileges. Jesus, however, passed by these self-righteous ones who rejected him and the only way of approach to God, and showed his special favor to the humbler poor, who heard his message gladly and wondered at the "gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth"--words telling them that God despises not the imperfect and weak if they are sincere and consecrated to him.
It was after three o'clock in the afternoon, in the early evening, that the disciples suggested that it was time for the multitude to be dismissed that they might find food and lodging in the surrounding villages. John and Mark record a dialogue on the subject between Jesus and Philip, the home of the latter being in the adjoining town of Bethsaida, and who was therefore acquainted with the region, its resources, etc. Jesus inquired of Philip, "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?" Philip replied that it would require two hundred pennyworth of bread to give each of them a little. This would mean about two hundred dollars' worth of bread according to our present day reckoning. All of the apostles then seemed to join in with the suggestion that the multitude be sent away that they might buy their own provisions as well as secure lodging--though as a matter of fact the people of the East make little ado about lodgings. They will camp almost anywhere, and, wrapping their cloaks about them, lie down in the fields or by the roadsides to sleep--in any place not supposed to be dangerous.
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SEEKING FIRST A NATURAL SUPPLY.
It was then Jesus said to his disciples, "Give ye them to eat." Mark says that they inquired, "Shall we go and buy them 200 pennyworth of bread and give them to eat?" Jesus asked, "How many loaves have ye? Go and see." It was the Apostle Andrew who returned with the word that a lad of the company had five loaves and two small fishes which he had put at their disposal. Jesus accepted the situation and instructed that the multitude be directed to be seated in companies. It is supposed that they arranged themselves in groups of fifty, and that there were 100 groups, making in all 5,000. Apparently they adopted the form of a three-sided square, after the shape of a Roman reclining table, the disciples who served them passing in at the open side and thus being able to reach the entire company. We are not informed how the five barley loaves and two small fishes were increased so as to be sufficient for the five thousand people with a remainder of twelve baskets full. Quite probably the increase was while being broken in the Lord's hands, though possibly also the increasing continued at the hands of the apostles as they in turn distributed the food to the people.
If such a story were told us respecting an ordinary person we could not believe it. Indeed it would be not faith but credulity on our part to believe it. So it is with those who deny the heavenly origin of our Lord Jesus: they do not believe that he could or did do such works as are recorded in the Scriptures. Neither could we believe the matter from their standpoint. It is because we believe that Jesus was the only begotten of the Father, who came into the world to be our Redeemer--because we believe that the Father poured upon him the divine spirit or power that we can also believe that he had power to still the tempest or thus increase the food by his blessing.
EVERYDAY MIRACLES OVERLOOKED.
But, after all, the greatest skeptics in the world do believe in miracles: they see them all about us, in all the affairs of life. They well know that the same amount of barley that composed those five loaves, if planted, might have brought forth a harvest sufficient for the five thousand; they also know that the two fishes in the ordinary course of nature in a short time might have brought forth a sufficient supply of fish for the five thousand. It is easy to be seen that he who arranged the provisions of nature had full control of the situation, and could as easily supply the needed food in the way he did as by some other method. Who will deny that it is a miracle from man's standpoint to have the grain grow and the fishes produce their kind? These miracles of nature are going on about us every day, and hence they are common to us and we forget that they are miracles. It is a fact, nevertheless, that while we can analyze the fish and determine exactly its component elements, and could bring these same elements together in a dish and could form them into shapes of fish, we could not give life to the fish or cause them to bring forth of their kind. That to us would be a miracle.
It is also true that we can analyze the barley and determine definitely its component elements and could bring them together in the same proportions and shapes, yet it is beyond our power to cause the products to germinate or to increase. Let these standing miracles that surround us every day convince all those who trust in the omnipotent God that he is able to do all that he is recorded to have done through his Anointed One. And let us remember that these things which Jesus did, as the Apostle declared, "manifested forth his coming glory"--illustrated and exemplified the coming power and glory of the great King of the world, who is to bless and feed and uplift the race of Adam and give life everlasting to as many as will receive it upon his terms.
If we could not accept these Scriptural testimonies respecting the power of Jesus over natural things, neither could we accept the declarations of the prophets and apostles respecting his coming power in the Kingdom. If we can accept the Scriptural declaration respecting him as the great Restorer of all things, God's representative, Emmanuel, who in the future shall bless the whole world of mankind, then with equal propriety and with the same kind of faith we can recognize him as the one in whom the Father's power operated in a small way in connection with the miracles under consideration and others at the first advent.
CAREFUL USE OF DIVINE BOUNTIES.
The whole lesson was intensified by the Lord's direction that the disciples should gather up the fragments; and, besides, another lesson was given, namely, that however great and bountiful are God's provisions for people, none of them are to be wasted. We cannot see wastefulness in any of the Lord's consecrated people without feeling that, however great progress they have made in understanding the mind of the Lord in some respects, they are still deficient in this particular. An appreciation of the gift and respect for the Giver implies a carefulness and a stewardship in respect to all that comes to us from our heavenly Father--things temporal and things spiritual. According to our Lord's parables he is measuring our love and zeal in a considerable degree by our use or abuse of the talents, opportunities, blessings, temporal and spiritual, now bestowed upon us.
We may be sure that in this miracle as in the others our Lord intended to inculcate some important lesson of faith or practice--not so much for the public as for his special followers, his disciples. We may presume, therefore, that he had a twofold purpose in sending them away by ship while he remained and dismissed the multitude, telling them that his discourses and miracles were at an end. One of these purposes doubtless was private fellowship and communion with the Father in the mountain-- apart from the multitude--apart even from his beloved
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twelve apostles. There are times when we love to join our hearts and voices with others at the throne of heavenly grace, and come as a company of the Lord's people into fellowship and communion with him, and there are other times when we seem to need individual, personal, private communion with God, as our Lord seemed to have required on this occasion.
Our Lord's second object was, doubtless, to give his disciples opportunity for thinking over the miracle and talking it over by themselves in his absence. They might thus speak more freely one with the other, and get more benefit than if he had been with them, and they would have been under a certain degree of restraint in his presence. The Lord wished this great lesson to be thoroughly impressed upon their minds: it would be helpful to them in future years to remember how he had power to increase their temporal food without human interference and independent of human conditions. It would be a lesson also respecting the spiritual food, that they should not despise the day of small things; that if sent by him to break the bread of life to the people, they should not be fearful and hindered by reason of unpropitious conditions prevailing, but should have full confidence in him that he had the power to overrule in all the affairs of life, that all his gracious purposes might be accomplished.
WE MAY DISPENSE THE BREAD FROM HEAVEN.
There is a lesson for us of the present day, too, in this matter, as there has been a lesson for the Church all the way down throughout this Gospel age. We may feel that the multitude is large and that the means at our disposal for reaching them with the bread of life are limited. We may be inclined to say here, we have such and such things, but "what are they among so many?" Let us hearken to the Lord's Word, "Give ye them to eat." It should be sufficient for us to know that any one is present who is hungering and thirsting after righteousness. "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear." Tell him the good tidings, no matter in what form they must be presented, no matter how intolerable the conditions. The important thing is that here are some who are hungry for the Truth, and that if we will the Lord will bless us in ministering it to them.
We have been reminded of this parable sometimes as we made out our annual reports of the work done by the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY--and endeavored to realize the immense amount of spiritual food borne to the people all over the civilized world, and our privileges connected with its dissemination. We have marveled how the Lord blessed the comparatively small amount of money so that it reached so far;--it seemed to multiply under the Lord's blessing. The matter is with us as it was with the apostles. The Lord himself raises the question of how much it will require. We look about us and see how few are hungering and thirsting for the Truth, how many grasping after multitudinous errors, false gospels, new lights, etc., and we hear the Lord's word, "Give ye them to eat." It requires faith to go forth and to hope to accomplish the great harvest work under present limited conditions, but so surely as the Lord is the Chief Reaper, his blessing upon what he has given us to dispense will make it sufficient, so that all who are really hungry may be fed.
Let the lesson sink deeply into our hearts; let us have the more confidence in him who not only provided the temporal food centuries ago, but who now according to his promise has come forth a second time and is dispensing again spiritual food, meat in due season, things new and old from the treasury of his Word. Let us be swift to appropriate these promises to our hearts, seeing to it that we are still hungering and thirsting after clearer views of the divine character and plan. Let us be on the alert to give to all who are hungering and thirsting the blessed food which has so greatly refreshed and strengthened us.
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If they do not get it they will faint by the way as they go looking for other provisions. We have the very thing which all of the household of faith need; without it they cannot maintain their standing, they cannot press on, they shall surely become discouraged. A thousand shall fall at our side and ten thousand at our right hand without this needed nourishment. Let us be alert.
THE USE OF MEANS--THEN AND NOW.
The lad who had the loaves and fishes and who put them at the disposal of the Lord, we may be sure was greatly blessed, although we hear nothing further of him than is here mentioned. It was a case of opportunity, and we may be sure that the boy thus willing to put his all at our Lord's disposal, instead of attempting to sell it to the hungry at famine prices, received a corresponding blessing. The lesson for all is that whatever we may have of financial means for sending forth the bread of life to others, or whatever we may have of knowledge of the Truth, is neither to be selfishly hoarded nor selfishly partaken of by ourselves. It is to be consecrated to the Lord, and out of that consecration the Lord will bring blessing to others and increased blessings upon our own heads and hearts.
The Golden Text of our lesson may be said to be the very heart of it in some respects. It was after Jesus had spent the night in prayer and toward morning came to his disciples still on the lake in the boat-- stormstayed--and after they had come to the landing safely, that some of those who had been with him and who had partaken of the miraculous bread and fish had returned to the vicinity of Capernaum and sought Jesus again, that he upbraided them and accused them of seeking him more for the loaves and fishes than on account of the truths which he proclaimed; and using this as a text, proceeded to tell them of himself as the Bread of Eternal Life that had come down from heaven, of which if a man eat he would never die--the bread of life everlasting.
Blessed are our ears for we have heard! blessed are the eyes of our understanding for we have seen him! blessed are we for we have tasted of this Bread of Life! Blessed
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are we if we are still hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and day after day being more and more filled according to the promise.
A FAMINE FOR THE WORD OF GOD.--`AMOS 8:11`.
We live in very stirring times, in times when there is a greater hungering for knowledge, for wealth, for influence, for power, for everything, than there ever was before. Everybody seems to be hungry. Yet our day is so full of philosophies, inventions, sciences (true and false), moneymaking schemes, financial schemes, theological schemes, etc., etc., that the whole world is absorbed in attempts to satisfy these various hungerings of the soul. Yet these things do not satisfy even the worldly;--they still hunger and thirst; and nothing will ever satisfy them but the living bread--the Truth. Now is the time for us who have become "new creatures in Christ Jesus" to see to it that we dispense to others the true bread and water of life; and that our own earthly hunger for earthly things shall not be prospered or gratified at the expense of our spiritual hunger for spiritual things, but that the latter shall have our special attention and care and provision.
The more people are satisfied with earthly things the less inclination they will have for the heavenly things, and the more we are satisfied with the heavenly things the less of appetite will we have for the earthly things. The new nature flourishes at the expense of the old nature, and the new ambitions, hopes and desires at the expense of the old. Likewise when the old nature flourishes, it is at the expense of the new in all of life's affairs. Let us then, realizing the difference between the food that perisheth and the food that brings divine blessing--eternal life--let us choose the latter, let us feed more and more upon the Lord and upon his Word and thus grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, and be more and more weaned from the world, its spirit, its hopes, its ambitions. We seek a heavenly country, a heavenly Kingdom, a heavenly nature, and heavenly qualities, fitted and prepared for that heavenly nature. We have found the great Lifegiver, the one who can and does supply this bread from heaven. It is our great privilege to be the dispensers of this bread--"Give ye them to eat." "He that hath an ear let him hear."
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QUARTERLY REVIEW.--MARCH 27.
Golden Text:--"Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness."--`Matt. 4:23`.
THE Sunday lessons for this quarter have given us numerous profitable pictures and studies in the life of Christ. Beginning with his birth we have traced his life from boyhood to manhood, and there noted his consecration even unto death and his consequent begettal of the holy Spirit as the beginning of the New Creature of God--the Head of the Church. We have followed him through the various steps of his ministry, noted many of his wonderful miracles on the sea and on the land, and in every particular have seen him faithful to his mission, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" his expression as a boy, seemed to be with him through all the affairs of life.
We are to remember that while Palestine at the present time has a population of about 600,000, it had about ten times as many in our Lord's day. Galilee, where most of his miracles were performed, as recorded in this quarter's lessons, is supposed to have had over 100 towns of 15,000 population, or a total population of over 3,000,000. The people of Galilee were evidently thrifty, prosperous work people. The aristocracy centered more about Jerusalem, and the explanation is given that Jesus could no more walk in Jewry because the Jews sought to kill him. Hence, as we have seen, much of his time was spent in Galilee, and evidently with the people best prepared to receive his teachings. We remember that he was called the "Galilean," and his disciples were "men of Galilee."
The essence of this quarter's lessons to the Lord's consecrated people should be specially that of discipleship-- following the footsteps of this great Teacher and Savior. He has called us also to be fishers of men, and we have responded to his call and left all to follow him, to be his disciples, to share his experiences and whatever ignominy may come as the result of faithfulness to him and the truths which he proclaimed. To us also he has displayed his powers, permitting us to see and know things which are kept secret from those without. To us he has given the good tidings of the Kingdom to encourage us, to inspire our hearts with love and loyalty. Blessed were those disciples of old, and blessed are the disciples of today! The blessing then was largely dependent upon the nearness of the disciples to the Lord, and the nearness was marked largely by the degree of zeal and devotion; and thus we must expect it to be today. It was Peter, James and John, who were the most zealous of the apostles, that had the special favors when such were to be given. And so it is today; those who most cheerfully, most zealously forget self and earthly ambitions, aims and projects, and who most fully give themselves to the Lord and to his service, these may walk nearest to the Lord at all times; these may go with him to the Mount; these may be special witnesses of his powers, and these in special times may be close to the Lord. Some, like John, may not only sit at meat with him, but sit next to him--in his bosom. In proportion as our lives are copies of the Lord's, all the time and influence at our disposal, outside of necessary obligations for things needful to ourselves and families, will be spent as he spent his time--in doing good unto all men, especially unto the household of faith.