VOL. XXXI JANUARY 15 No. 2
A. D. 1913--A. M. 6041
Covenant Relationship with God Essential
to Life Everlasting......................... 19
Israel's Covenant Relationship Actual......... 19
The Covenant of Sacrifice..................... 20
Distinction between Keeping and Fulfilling
the Law..................................... 22
That Feature Fulfilled by Christ's Death...... 23
Death and the Resurrection........................ 23
Adamic Death Scripturally Called Sleep........ 24
Earthly Phase of the Resurrection............. 25
Quietly Minding One's Own Business................ 26
Busybodying an Evidence of Unbelief........... 26
"Yet There is Room"............................... 27
Abraham and the Hebrews........................... 28
God's Call to Abraham......................... 28
Children of Abraham........................... 29
Abraham Was Very Rich............................. 29
Riches Often Bring Trouble.................... 30
God's Blessing Makes Rich..................... 30
Interesting Letters............................... 30
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
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1913--OUR YEAR'S TEXT--1913
We have gotten out a motto card bearing this year's text, with a pretty design of grapes, the cup and the loaf, and with our text, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Most high."
We believe that nearly all of our readers will want one or two copies of this motto for their own use. Some will want a copy in each room. We suggest that so far as possible, Classes order these together, thus saving packing and carrying charges. The price singly will be 5c., by the dozen 30c., postpaid.
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BROTHER RUSSELL'S MORNING RESOLVE
MY EARLIEST THOUGHT I DESIRE SHALL BE:
"What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord [for grace to help]. I will pay my Vows unto the Most High."--`Psa. 116:12-14`.
Remembering the Divine call, "Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice" (`Psa. 50:5`), I resolve that by the Lord's assisting grace I will today, as a saint of God, fulfil my Vows, continuing the work of sacrificing the flesh and its interests, that I may attain unto the Heavenly inheritance in joint-heirship with my Redeemer.
I will strive to be simple and sincere toward all.
I will seek not to please and honor self, but the Lord.
I will be careful to honor the Lord with my lips, that my words may be unctuous and blessed to all.
I will seek to be faithful to the Lord, the Truth, the brethren and all with whom I have to do, not only in great matters, but also in the little things of life.
Trusting myself to Divine care and the Providential overruling of all my interests for my highest welfare, I will seek not only to be pure in heart, but to repel all anxiety, all discontent, all discouragement.
I will neither murmur nor repine at what the Lord's providence may permit, because
"Faith can firmly trust Him,
Come what may."
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COVENANT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD ESSENTIAL
TO LIFE EVERLASTING
GOD IS NOT in covenant relationship with the brute creation; for to them He has made no promises, although He has made a general provision for their needs. But we may understand that with all His intelligent creation He has a covenant, or agreement, to the effect that so long as they will do His will they shall possess life. Because of violation of that arrangement, the fallen angels were cast off, "reserved in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the Great Day" (`Jude 6`), to receive their final punishment. When Adam and Eve were disobedient, they violated this covenant, and came under the sentence of death. "They like men [Heb. Adam], have transgressed the covenant; there have they dealt treacherously against Me."--`Hos. 6:7`, margin.
Because of Adam's transgression, the world is not in covenant relationship with God in any sense of the word. On the contrary, they are aliens, strangers, foreigners. (`Eph. 2:11-13`.) To some extent God brought Abraham back into covenant relationship, but not fully so. To the nation of Israel He made certain promises in the form of a Law Covenant, to the effect that whoever kept that Covenant would thereby demonstrate his worthiness to receive God's blessing promised to Abraham--that through him should all the families of the earth be blessed.-- `Gen. 12:3`.
The Law Covenant was given to the Jewish nation; Moses was the mediator, for it was impossible to make the Covenant with Israel directly. Although they were unable to keep that Covenant because of inherited weaknesses of the flesh, yet it brought them a measure of blessing, as St. Paul points out. (`Rom. 7:7`.) While it lifted Israel above the degradation into which the Gentiles were falling, nevertheless it did not bring the blessing for which they longed. It did not remove the death penalty --it did not give them life.
In the clear light now shining for the people of God, we see that the Law Covenant was only a type of a better Covenant to be made with Israel after the Church of Christ has been glorified; that Moses himself was only a type of a better Mediator; that the sacrifices of the Law were only types of the "better sacrifices" mentioned in `Heb. 9:23`, and that their priesthood was a type of the Royal Priesthood of the Gospel Age.--`Heb. 7:27`.
In the Scriptures, the words covenant and promise are used synonymously. The children of Israel were under the Abrahamic Covenant long before they entered into the Law Covenant. They are still under those Covenants. St. Paul says, "God hath not cast away His people whom He foreknew." (`Rom. 11:2`.) Then he proceeds to say that after the Elect Church has been gathered from among the Gentiles, the favor of God will return to Israel; for they are still beloved for the father's sake. The fathers of Israel are the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Jews are, therefore, under the Abrahamic Covenant.--`Rom. 11:25-28`.
ISRAEL'S COVENANT RELATIONSHIP ACTUAL
An actual covenant relationship is one that is fully established--not merely suggested, or proposed, but accomplished. As Israel approached Mt. Sinai, God proposed to make a covenant with them. When all was in readiness, the Covenant was made through Moses as the mediator. The work of mediation was twofold; the first part was the sprinkling of the Law, representing the satisfaction of Justice; the second part was the sprinkling of the people, representing the bringing of the people into covenant relationship with God. That Covenant was then fully made, and has remained in operation ever since.-- `Exod. 24:3-8`.
With the Israelites, God was making a covenant which was to last for centuries. It was good for only one year at a time, however. For the first year the people were in harmony with God, but at the end of that time the cancellation of sins ceased; for the blood of bulls and of goats cannot take away sin. The whole arrangement was only a type. At the end of that first year, the Day of Atonement was inaugurated, and sacrifices were made for another year. The fact that the Atonement Day sacrifices were repeated year by year shows that they were efficacious for only a year at a time, and so never really took away sin.--`Heb. 10:1-4`.
After the Day of Atonement, the people made various kinds of offerings. Some of these seem to typify the presentation of the worshiper himself to God, as an indication that he wished to do the will of Jehovah. Others were for sin-offerings, indicating that the worshiper realized that there had been a measure of wilfulness in his conduct. So rigid are the requirements of the Law Covenant that only one Jew, the Lord Jesus Christ, was able to keep them. This He could do because He was perfect, and the Law is the measure of a perfect man's full ability.
That the Israelites were in covenant relationship with God through Moses, the mediator of their Covenant, is demonstrated by the fact that Moses said, "He hath declared
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unto you His Covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even the ten commandments." (`Deut. 4:13`.) Therefore the Jew is bound by the Law so long as he lives. (`Rom. 7:1`.) Although the Law Covenant is not intended to be an everlasting arrangement with the Jew, yet the only ones who have been able to get from under it are those who have come into Christ; the remainder cannot rid themselves of it. But the days draw nigh when the Lord God will make a New Covenant with them through a new Mediator, The Christ, who will assist them to keep the Law satisfactorily and thus to be delivered from the evil features of their Covenant.
At the close of the Babylonish Captivity, the Prophet Daniel asked the Lord for an explanation of the prophecies relating to his people. The answer to his prayer is given in detail. "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy."--`Dan. 9:24-27`.
For an elucidation of this prophecy, the reader is referred to STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. II, Study III. All these things were to be done in those seventy weeks. Of this period of time, we find that the seventieth week was the most critical, for it was the week during which Messiah was to confirm the Covenant. In our Study III, we show that this week began October, A.D. 29 and closed October, A.D. 36--from the beginning of our Lord's ministry until the conversion of Cornelius, the first Gentile to receive the Holy Spirit.
THE COVENANT CONFIRMED FOR ONE WEEK
During that period of seven years, God bestowed special favor upon the Jews. At the beginning of that week of years, our Lord, who was then thirty years of age, presented Himself to God as a sacrifice. This presentation was the first feature of the antitypical Atonement Day work, and corresponded to the sacrifice of the bullock in the type. Our Lord began the antitypical sacrifices; as St. Paul says, "Then said He, 'Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God.' He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second." (`Heb. 10:9`.) Our Lord there began to take away the type and to establish the antitype. It was necessary not only to begin the work with the antitypical bullock, but to complete it and to take His place as the antitypical Moses, so to speak. This He did not accomplish until after His death on the cross.
Many other features of that antitypical Atonement Day work are not yet completed. It was a part of the Atonement for the High Priest to offer the Lord's goat and to take its blood into the Most Holy and to sprinkle it there. It was also a part of the Atonement Day work for him to come out and confess the sins of the people on the scape-goat, and a still further part for him to bless the people. During our Lord's ministry, He fulfilled various features of the types. At Calvary His work of sacrificing Himself was finished, and the Divine acceptance of that sacrifice was manifested.
The Prophet's statement that in the midst of the week Messiah would cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, implies that our Lord would there terminate the efficacy of the typical work for Israel as a people, and that they were rejected from Divine favor at the time that they crucified Him. A few days before His death, our Lord had said, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." (`Matt. 23:38`.) This rejection seems to have been symbolized when the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, an indication of a breaking down, rather than of an opening up.
This rejection of the Jewish nation does not indicate the end of their Law Covenant. To the Church of Christ, who have been given the privilege of understanding the deep things of the Spirit of God, it appears that the efficacy of the typical sacrifices, which were offered year by year continually, ceased at the death of our Lord; and that since that time, as a nation they have had no Divine favor; but that the only ones who have had favor since then are those who have come out of Moses into Christ. The typical sacrifices continued until the time when Christ died, for the reason that Jesus Himself was under the Law, a part of which He fulfilled, and no feature of which can pass away until all has been fulfilled.--`Matt. 5:17,18`.
After our Lord's ascension, it was possible for greater work to be done than ever before. Under the Lord's blessing, thousands of Jews were gathered into the Gospel garner within comparatively a few days. The work of our Lord was cut short nationally, but it increased the opportunity of the Jews individually. There were only five hundred Jews who believed on Jesus until after His death, when there were thousands added to the number. (`1 Cor. 15:6`; `Acts 2:41`.) During the three and a half years following our Lord's death, God did not recognize the Gentiles, for He had said that He would give seventy weeks to the Jews, and therefore He allowed no favor to go to the Gentiles until that period had expired.
After the expiration of the seventy weeks of years set apart for Israel, the Gospel began to go to the Gentiles, to gather from among them "a people for His name." (`Acts 15:13-18`.) During this Gospel Age, the antitypical Atonement work has been progressing. Our Lord has already offered the antitypical bullock in the sacrifice of Himself. Since Pentecost, He has been offering the antitypical goat--the Church class. This work has been in progress for more than eighteen hundred years. As soon as it shall have been finished, the blood will be taken into the Most Holy, to sprinkle the Mercy-Seat and to "make atonement for all the people," as in the type.
THE COVENANT OF SACRIFICE
The Abrahamic Covenant, as it was given to Abraham, is a complete covenant, whose provisions include all mankind; for it reads, "In thee and in thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (`Gen. 12:3`; `28:14`.) Its promise is to THE SEED: (1) Jesus; (2) The Christ, Head and Body; (3) the earthly seed through them. Its provisions extend to all who have the faith of Abraham. The promise of God was that a blessing shall come to all the families of the earth. This promise was confirmed by an oath on the part of God, so that by two immutable things--the oath and the promise of God--the heirs of the promise may be sure of its fulfilment.--`Heb. 6:13-18`.
The Seed of Abraham, which is to bless all the families of the earth, was intended to be a Spiritual Seed. Since Abraham and his posterity were natural men, the only way by which they could become the Spiritual Seed was by the sacrifice of the earthly nature and the attaining to the spirit nature. The opportunity for making this sacrifice was first given to our Lord Jesus. By carrying out His covenant of sacrifice, He became the Head of the Seed which is to bring the blessing.--`Psa. 50:5`; `40:7-10`.
During the Gospel Age, Jehovah has been selecting the members of this Spiritual Seed, that they may lay down their human life and earthly interests in order to attain to the spirit nature. The selection of this Seed has been the work of the Gospel Age. Soon the Seed will be all gathered; then the work of blessing the natural seed will begin, and through them the blessing will subsequently spread to all nations, as these shall accept the Divine favor.
The Church will always be in covenant relationship
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with the Father. The fact that He calls them sons implies that they are bound to Him. (`John 1:12`.) Every father is in covenant relationship with his children, and they with him. Every child has a responsibility to its father, and the father to the child. The fact that God has received the Lord Jesus and the Church as sons (`Heb. 3:6`) signifies that they are in covenant relationship with Him. St. Paul says, "We are the children of God; and if children, then heirs." (`Rom. 8:16,17`.) His statement not only implies that relationship, but proves it; for the sons have a right to the things which the father has provided for his children.
All who hunger and thirst after righteousness (`Matt. 5:6`), all whose souls long for God "as the hart pants after the water brook" (`Psa. 42:1`), and who, having found Him, have consecrated themselves to Him--these have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, witnessing with their spirit that they are sons of God. (`Rom. 8:14-16`.) As anointed sons these can discover in themselves the worthy traits of true sons--loyalty, zeal, energy, discretion, faithfulness, obedience.
There are, however, conditions attached to this covenant of sacrifice; there are certain requirements which must be fulfilled. All must become partakers of the sufferings of Christ, if they would participate with Him in the glories to follow. But the arrangements for keeping our contract are complete in Christ. Therefore if we put ourselves under His care, this covenant will be everlasting with us, and we shall have "the sure mercies of David."-- `Isa. 55:3`.
COVENANT RELATIONSHIP TO BE RE-ESTABLISHED WITH
In `Jer. 31:31-33`, we read, "I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the house of Judah...after those days." The expression, "those days," we understand to refer to Israel's "seven times" of punishment, promised by the Lord for the violation of their Law Covenant. This New Covenant is to be made with Israel alone; for God never purposed to make a covenant with the Gentiles. The New Covenant will properly be so called because it will take the place of the old Law Covenant, which God made with Israel and which
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was broken by them. After Israel shall have been fully established under their New Covenant, all other nations will be privileged to come into this relationship after the manner set forth in the Law. All the world will eventually be blessed thereby.
The New Covenant, then, is to be made with such of Abraham's descendants as are able to receive it. Since the people are not worthy to enter directly into relationship with God, that Covenant must have a Mediator. The Mediator is the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Church, His Body. The Scriptures indicate that the Mediator is nearly completed.
The Word of God distinguishes between a covenant and its mediator. A covenant does not go into operation until after it has been fully mediated. When Moses mediated the Law Covenant, he first offered sacrifices; then he took the blood of the animals and, dividing it into two parts, sprinkled both the Book of the Law and the people. (`Exod. 24:4-8`; `Heb. 9:19-24`.) After he had done this, the Law Covenant was in force; and it will continue until superseded by its antitype, the New Covenant.
The Mediator of the New Covenant will be The Christ. For more than eighteen hundred years, our Lord has been offering the great antitypical sacrifices of Himself and His Church. As soon as He will have finished making application of the blood, He will have made satisfaction for the sins of the world. This act will correspond to the sprinkling of the Book by Moses. Divine Justice having accepted this arrangement, the Mediator will antitypically sprinkle the people; that is, he will show them how to come back into full accord with God.
The New Covenant will begin to swallow up the old Law Covenant as soon as the Kingdom is established. The Scriptures indicate that the first to receive it will be the Ancient Worthies. Raised from the dead to human perfection, they will form the nucleus of the new arrangement in the earth. Next in order will be those who have been known as Christians, but who have not been consecrated to death, and Jews who have been consecrated to the Law, but who have been blinded. Gradually the light will come to all who love righteousness and hate iniquity. Sprinkled from all sympathy with evil, they will make their declaration of full loyalty to God. In due time this light will spread to all kindreds and tongues and nations.
CHANGE OF HEART IN THE MILLENNIUM
The Prophet Jeremiah, speaking of the New Covenant (`31:34`), says, "They shall know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." The sins and iniquities of Israel will no longer be remembered against them. Christ will have appeared on their behalf and made satisfaction for their sins. They will then be as free from original sin as the Gospel Church are. The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the sufficiency for all.--`I John 2:2`.
The Prophet Ezekiel tells us that during the next Age the hearts of mankind will be changed. He says, "Thus saith the Lord God;...A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." (`Ezek. 36:22-27`.) This change of heart is entirely aside from the making of the New Covenant. It will take a thousand years to remove the stoniness out of the hearts of mankind and to make them stand without a Mediator. Those who receive everlasting life must attain this condition; for all of God's creatures who would live forever must keep His Law perfectly.
During the Millennium, God will not recognize the people, because of their imperfection, their weakness; but all of their dealings will be through the Mediator, until they shall have been brought up to perfection. At the end of the thousand years, they will be delivered up to the Father, unblamable before Him. (`I Cor. 15:24`.) God will then receive them as sons, heirs of the earthly blessings which He has provided for mankind--the things given to Adam. The very moment when the merit of Christ is applied for the world is the same moment when they will be turned over to the Mediator. Then they will be in covenant relationship with God, but only through the Mediator, until they shall have reached human perfection and shall enter into this relationship directly with the Father.
The New Covenant will continue everlastingly; and as it is proper to say that Moses mediated the Law Covenant, so we may say that Christ will mediate the New Covenant. But it would not be proper to say that Moses is now the Mediator of the Law Covenant; for a covenant does not need a mediator after it has been mediated. So the New Covenant will need no Mediator after the thousand years. But the title "Mediator" may belong to Christ to all eternity, just as one who has been a judge, ever after receives the title of "Judge."
At the end of the thousand years, when the Messiah
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will have accomplished His work of Restitution, He will cease to act as Mediator. But the Covenant will continue to stand; for if that relationship with God were to be removed from the people, they would have no blessing of everlasting life. That blessing depends upon covenant relationship with God. Under the favorable conditions of the New Covenant, whosoever will may have an opportunity to become the children of The Christ, the Seed of Abraham.
At the conclusion of the thousand years, the willing and the obedient receive the commendation, "Well done," and will be accepted as fit for the condition of everlasting life on the human plane. Those who prove to be unworthy of life will be destroyed in the Second Death.
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DISTINCTION BETWEEN KEEPING AND FULFILLING THE LAW
THE QUESTION, Did the keeping of the Law Covenant require the death of Christ? is a peculiar and very deep one. On one side it might be argued that the death of Christ was sacrificial, that no law would be just which would require the death of an innocent person; that since God's Law is just, it did not require the death of an innocent man, and that therefore it was not necessary for Jesus to die in order to fulfil the Law. But this is only one side of the question.
The other side of the argument is that our Lord Jesus, who loved His God with all His heart, soul, mind and strength, and who had consecrated His life to do the Father's will, must do that will and avoid everything contrary to it, in order to live in harmony with His consecration. As soon, therefore, as He learned that it was God's will that a redemption price of a perfect human life should be paid for Adam and the world of mankind, He would present Himself in consecration and faithfully carry out all that is implied in that consecration, because He loved God with all His heart, soul, mind and strength.
It would be reasonable, also, to expect that if our Lord knew that the hundreds of millions to whom He had become "neighbor" by becoming human were in great difficulty and could be delivered only by a sacrifice on His part, He would, if He loved His neighbor as Himself, want to do something for their relief. This desire would lead Him to make the sacrifice.
If to this we add the thought that God would not permit our Lord to perish, but would restore Him to life and glory, and that Jesus had in mind the promise that He would not be suffered to remain in death, we at once perceive that He would be willing to die for His unjust neighbor, because He loved His neighbor as Himself.
These two views, so directly opposite, nevertheless coincide in that it was left open for our Lord to will what He would do. The Father gave Him an opportunity and set before Him a great reward; the Father did not entrap our Lord into an engagement from which He could not draw back. When we come to view the subject from this standpoint, we see the reasonableness of the whole arrangement.
In His consecration at baptism our Lord had said, "Lo, I come...to do Thy will, O God" (`Heb. 10:7`); I will keep nothing back that You require. Such obedience would have been as much as the Law could require of any one. On the other hand, Justice would not require a sacrifice, for Justice could not demand it. Willingness to do anything that Justice would demand constituted His keeping of the Law. This point is so fine that it is almost impossible to explain it in language. We can know, however, that the Father set before Jesus the great reward, and that for the joy set before Him He endured the cross and despised the shame.--`Heb. 12:1,2`.
GOD'S WILL EXPRESSED IN THE TYPES
There is a distinction between fulfilling the Law and keeping the Law. The Jews did neither. They partially kept the Law and endeavored to do still further than they were able to do. But they could not fulfil the Law; for it is so great that it is beyond the power of man to fulfil all of its requirements.
The Law consists of two different parts. The one is a regulation of the morals--the duty of all toward God and toward fellow-men. In this sense of the word, the Law stands for justice--for what is right. The Jews endeavored to do right and thus to keep the Law, but were unable to do so on account of hereditary weaknesses.
Our Lord Jesus, however, kept the Law in this sense. By so doing He earned the right to everlasting life on
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the human plane. This the world will do in the next Age. They will be enabled to keep the Law and will get everlasting life, the reward of obedience to the Law. But Jesus did more than keep the Law of Justice. He also fulfilled that part of the Law which was applicable to Him, and He is still fulfilling the Law.
The other part of the Law consists of the ceremonial features, which constitute the types and shadows mentioned by St. Paul. (`Heb. 10:1`.) These prophetic features of the Law represent the Divine will in respect to the means by which mankind will be restored from the plane of degradation, sin and death to Divine favor. This prophetical fulfilling of the Law consisted in the carrying out in antitype of one important feature--the Passover institution. The killing of the lamb, the sprinkling of the blood and the eating of the flesh, were prophetical-- typical.
Jesus fulfilled His part of the type when He was put to death. It was only by virtue of His sacrifice of His will entirely to the Divine will that He was able to fulfil the prophecies, for these were not commands to mankind in general. In these was a suggestion of things which were not commanded, but which God desired to have accomplished at some time through some one, and through which the Redemption of the human race and the Restitution of all things lost by Adam would be effected.
In the performance of the Atonement Day sacrifices the blood was taken into the Most Holy and typically made satisfaction for sin. Jesus accomplished a part of this work. Since then He has ascended on High and made satisfaction for us, the Church class, by means of which we may walk in His footsteps by consecration. (`Heb. 9:24`.) All down through the Gospel Age He has been accepting this class, and eventually will accomplish their sacrifice. This was typified by the killing of the Lord's goat.
Jesus, we see, has been fulfilling the Law during these eighteen hundred years, as well as during His ministry. This work will not be finished until the end of the Age. Jesus said that He came not to destroy, but to fulfil the things of the Law (`Matt. 5:17`); and He will continue the fulfilment of the types of the Law during the thousand years, until all is fulfilled at the close of the Millennial Age. Some of these things are future; such as the sprinkling of the blood of the antitypical Lord's goat, the sending away of the antitypical scape-goat, and the appearance
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of the antitypical High Priest to bless the people. It will take the entire thousand years of Christ's reign to get back all that was lost through Adam's disobedience and that is to be restored to mankind through the merit of Christ.
THAT FEATURE OF THE LAW FULFILLED BY CHRIST'S
The moral Law--the Ten Commandments--and the Covenant, of which it is a part, promised life to those who would keep its requirements. Jesus could have had that everlasting life by doing everything that the Law required, for the Law demands no more than justice. He could have obeyed every command of the Law without sacrificing any of His rights. But the prophetic features of the Law could not have been fulfilled unless some one had sacrificed his life, and the one who would do this must be the equivalent of the one who had sinned. Since the one who had sinned was perfect, in the image of God, the one who would be a corresponding price to fulfil the Law and to bring out all those blessings to the world that the Law prophesies, must be one who could fully keep the Law. Only such a person would be competent to make the sacrifice and thus to fulfil the prophetic features of the Law.
This requirement was fully met by Jesus, who was "holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners"-- everything that Justice could expect. He gladly kept the Law, and did even more. He proposed to do everything written in the Book; for He had said, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God" (`Psa. 40:8`)--everything that had been written. His consecration went beyond the moral Law and embraced everything that God had written prophetically. All this He fulfilled. As a result He is the Savior, "able to save to the uttermost" all that come to the Father through Him.--`Heb. 7:25`.
We cannot think that God would be offended with any one who came up to the requirements of the Law, but who did not go beyond. Since God had said, "If any one keep all this Law, I will do My part and give him everlasting life," Justice could ask no more. If such a one should not go forward to sacrifice, Justice could not be offended, for it could not demand that he do so.
In fact, the Father does not require the righteous of this Age to sacrifice, nor will He expect the world to do so in coming to the plane of human perfection. But if God should set before any of the human family an opportunity to offer their lives in doing the Divine will, they should esteem this a privilege. The Father would not consign one to death, however, who should fail to do this. But every one who loves the Lord should think, "Here is my opportunity to show my trust, my loyalty to God." In this respect the example of Jesus will stand out for all eternity to angels and to men, so that if ever God gave even a hint of what His will would be, they would hasten to do that will and not hesitate for any consideration.
There is a lesson also of love in the matter. We are not to content ourselves with saying, "I did not lie; I did not steal; I did unto my neighbor as I would wish done unto myself." We are not to stop with this as a sufficiency; no one will get life on any plane if he does no more than this. Our privilege is to anticipate God's will through watching the types of the Law and the words of our Lord and Head. We are to count all things as loss and dross in comparison with this opportunity which we have. Nothing else should be counted so great a privilege as that of following in the footsteps of Jesus.
FOR CHILDREN OF BELIEVERS
Dear Father, hear a little child
Who offers thanks to Thee;
Through all the darkness Thou hast kept
A watch-care over me.
O Father, keep me through this day,
I would to Thee belong;
May love control my little hands,
May kindness rule my tongue.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done
Upon this earth again;
Dear Father, hear my little prayer
For Jesus' sake. Amen.
Dear Lord, before sweet slumber comes
To close my weary eyes,
Up to Thy Throne of Heavenly grace
My voice in prayer would rise.
For all the blessings of this day
I give Thee thanks and praise.
Forgive me, Lord, for Jesus' sake,
For all my naughty ways;
And as I lay me down to sleep
Do Thou an angel send
To watch beside me all the night
For Jesus' sake. Amen.--Rebecca F. Doney.
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DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION
DEATH IS NOT a sleep; it is destruction. Dead bodies decay because the work of destruction is progressing in them. We say that mortification sets in; that is, the destruction of the tissues goes on until everything that had life in that body has perished. This process of decay is common to both man and beast, and also goes on in the vegetable world. As the Scriptures say, "That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth the beasts; even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast....All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again."--`Eccl. 3:19,20`.
Very few people seem to realize what is meant by the term "soul." The Scriptural teaching is that man IS a soul, not that he HAS a soul. In `Gen. 2:7` we read, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man BECAME a LIVING SOUL." The Word of God speaks of both man and beast as souls. (See `Num. 31:28`.) Body, soul and spirit are in combination in a living organism.
A dog has a body; a dog has a life--a vitalizing principle; and aside from this life-principle and organism, a dog has a personality. One dog differs from another; one may be a bulldog, another, a lap-dog in a fashionable family. Each animal has his own joys and sorrows; but whatever he is, these things go to make up the experiences by which a dog would recognize himself.
So it is with a human being. There is a body and a life principle, the union of which makes the soul. His experiences
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--his home-life, his education, his environment, his travels, his finances, his private affairs--all go to make up his personality. It is not his body, but his soul that has these experiences. As two dogs under different experiences would have very different personalities, so with human beings. All the different experiences of life help to make them happy or unhappy, learned or ignorant, wise or unwise.
IN DEATH WHAT PRE-EMINENCE HATH A MAN?
What is the difference between a brute soul and a human soul? The human soul has a higher organization of body and brain, which constitutes him an individual of a higher order; and not only has he a better brain by Divine appointment, but he was not made like the brute beast to die after a brief period of years. Man was made to live forever.
In Eden, man came under the sentence of death, as the penalty for disobedience. The entire race has been born in a dying condition. Each human being receives a spark of life from his parents, without which the body would return to dust. When man dies, his personality, which is the result of his hereditary and prenatal influences combined with his experiences, perishes; for it cannot exist without a body. As the Scriptures declare, "In that day his THOUGHTS perish"; for "the dead know not anything"; "There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest." --`Psa. 146:4`; `Eccl. 9:5,10`.
The question then arises, Does man die in the same sense that the brute creation does? We answer that so far as man himself is concerned, he would be as dead as is the beast, if God had not made an arrangement by which humanity will have a future life. God intends to restore to life, not the body, but the soul that died. The soul that went into death is the soul that was redeemed by Jesus.--`Psa. 49:15`.
Through the resurrection, God has arranged to show His love for the world. It is written, "When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son" (`Gal. 4:4`); "Who gave Himself a Ransom for all" (`I Tim. 2:6`)-- "for every man." (`Heb. 2:9`.) Every man has gone into death or is going there; and unless a redemption had been provided, there could be no resurrection. So the Apostle Paul explains that, "since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order."--`I Cor. 15:21-23`.
This making alive will be the resurrection of the dead --not of those particles of matter which have gone to fertilize a tree and then through its fruit become a part of another organism, but the resurrection of the being--the soul. In the resurrection, "God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him." (`I Cor. 15:38`.) To the individual, it does not matter what particles compose his new body. What he is interested in is the resurrection of his soul--his being --his personality. That restoration is the all-important part of the resurrection.
God has given the assurance that He is able to restore mankind; and we who believe His Word do not think of man as dead in the same sense as is the brute. On the contrary, we allow the beast to pass into oblivion, but we think of man. For our dead we raise a memorial, remembrance, of the body which represented the personality dear to us. Our faith assures us that the personality is not extinct, but that it will have a resurrection. The respect which we show to our friends and loved ones in their sepulchers indicates our faith in their future life through a resurrection of the dead.
ADAMIC DEATH SCRIPTURALLY CALLED SLEEP
In the Scriptures, God sets forth the thought that the dead are asleep. Since He is the One who has the Power and the Purpose to raise the dead, He can speak of them in this way. Their bodies have indeed gone to dust, but they as individuals are known to God. To raise men from the dead and to give them back the very thoughts which they had before death will be a stupendous work, which only the Wisdom and Power of the Almighty God can accomplish. Those alone who have confidence in the promises of God can speak of their loved ones as asleep in death.
The Scriptures speak of the Ancient Worthies as asleep. We read that "David slept with his fathers." (`I Kings 2:10`.) The same statement is made of all of the kings of Israel, whether good or bad. St. Stephen, stoned to death, "fell asleep." (`Acts 7:60`.) St. Paul says, "Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him....We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede--go before] them which sleep...and the dead in Christ shall rise first."--`I Thess. 4:14-16`.
In the morning of that glorious Day when the Sun of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His beams, all that God has promised for that blessed time will come to pass. (`Mal. 4:2`.) Meantime, the dead are awaiting that Day during which "all that are in the graves shall hear His voice [the voice of the Son of Man] and shall come forth." (`John 5:28,29`.) In this sense of the word, therefore, we speak of the dead as asleep. Our Lord Himself used this word in speaking of Lazarus. He said, "Lazarus sleepeth." When by their reply the disciples showed that they did not understand, Jesus said unto them plainly, "Lazarus is dead."--`John 11:11-14`.
HEAVENLY PHASE OF THE RESURRECTION
From one standpoint, all mankind fall asleep to wait for the morning of the great Millennial Day, when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise. The resurrection will come to every member of the human race; but as no two individuals have been in the same degree of degradation, some will rise more rapidly than will others. The Scriptures seem to indicate that there will be several classes in the resurrection. One of these is designated the "First Resurrection," that is, the chief, or most important; and it will consist of those who are to be associated with our Lord in His Throne. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the First Resurrection; on such the Second Death hath no power, but they shall be Priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."-- `Rev. 20:6`.
This description excludes the Great Company and applies merely to the Little Flock, "partakers of the Divine nature." (`2 Pet. 1:4`.) Other Scriptures seem to show us that the Great Company class will attain to spirit perfection in their resurrection; and therefore we might think of theirs as a second resurrection--second in order, in glory and in preference. These two classes compose the "Church of the First-borns, which are written in Heaven." (`Heb. 12:23`.) The difference between them is merely that the Little Flock were zealous to go forward and perform what duties and privileges they saw, while the Great Company were less zealous and less loyal in sacrifice, although they would suffer death rather than deny the Lord or His Truth.
This distinction is set forth in the typical arrangement of the Law Covenant. As the tribe of Levi was called
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out from among Israel for a special work, so the Church of the First-borns are called out from among mankind, as the antitypical Levites. The priestly tribe of Israel was divided into two classes, the priests and the Levites, and likewise the Church is composed of two classes. Of these, only the "more than conquerors" (`Rom. 8:37`.) will become "partakers of the Divine nature" and have the preeminence. The Great Company will not attain to this honor.
We are not able to distinguish who are the "more than conquerors." The Great Company are identified with the Little Flock both here on earth and also in Heaven. Both classes are of the "First-borns." As the Apostle James says, we are "a kind of first-fruits of His creatures." (`James 1:18`.) To illustrate this thought, let us consider a bed of strawberries: These berries are among the first fruits of the season, yet even among them we find that some berries ripen sooner than the rest of the crop. These early-ripe berries may be said to be the first-fruit of the first-fruits. So with the Little Flock.
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EARTHLY PHASE OF THE RESURRECTION
In the Scriptures, a third class of faithful servants of God are mentioned. Many of these are called by name in the Epistle to the Hebrews. We refer to the Ancient Worthies, who lived and were found faithful before the coming of our Savior. These did not have the opportunity of walking in the footsteps of our Lord and so did not have the "high calling." These are said to receive "a better resurrection" than will the rest of mankind (`Heb. 11:35`) --better, not in the sense of belonging to the spirit plane, but in that it will be an instantaneous raising to human perfection, whereas the remainder of the race will require a thousand years during which to come back gradually to the original condition lost by Adam.
At the beginning of the reign of Christ, the Ancient Worthies will come forth perfect human beings--mentally and physically--that their bodies may correspond with their moral development. If they had scars, these will be theirs no longer; if they had blemishes, these will have disappeared. It is not easy for us to picture to ourselves a perfect man, for we have never seen one, and all around us are various degrees of imperfection. But we know that a perfect human being will be perfect in form, feature, voice, sight, hearing, taste, and in all other organs, as well as in mind.
Last of all, "the residue of men" will come forth, "every man in his own order." (`I Cor. 15:23`.) Their awakening will merely bring them forth from the tomb in the condition in which they entered it; for in the grave, "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom." (`Eccl. 9:10`.) This awakening is not the resurrection, but merely the preliminary step toward it. The Greek word rendered "resurrection" is anastasis, and means literally "a standing up again." Adam fell, and ever since "the whole world lieth in wickedness"--literally, "in the wicked one." (`I John 5:19`.) The standing up again is, therefore, a return to the perfection lost in Eden; for the world of mankind the resurrection is the Restitution. --`Acts 3:19-21`.
During the thousand years of Messiah's reign, the resurrection of the world will be in progress. The work will not be done by the Father directly, but will be committed to the Lord Jesus (`John 5:28,29`), and will require the whole thousand years for its completion. At the end of that Millennial reign the world of mankind will be perfect, as was Adam in his creation. All God's work is perfect.--`Deut. 32:4`; `Gen. 1:31`.
As previously stated, the Ancient Worthies, as a reward for their faith in God, will come forth to a better resurrection than will other men. The remainder of the race will come forth in practically the same condition in which they went into death. They will know nothing more, nothing less than when they died; their personality will be the same. As for their bodies, we cannot suppose that these will be perfect, for if mankind were thus brought back from death, they would not know each other. If all should be brought forth of one color, or if all should have the same style of features, they would not be recognized. On the other hand, they will come forth, neither gasping for breath, nor in fragments, as if blown to pieces by an explosion or eaten by an animal, but in what formerly was their usual health.
Mankind recognize each other by certain physical traits as well as by mental and moral characteristics. If in the awakening a man were given a perfect form or a properly balanced brain, he would not know himself on coming forth from the tomb. His very thoughts would be different; there would be nothing by which memory could identify him. Humanity will be raised from the tomb in the condition suggested by our Lord when He said to the man with a withered hand, "'Stretch forth thine hand!' And he did so; and his hand was restored whole as the other" (`Luke 6:10`)--complete--not in the full sense of the word, but enough so to have a new start in the new life.
SHAME AND CONTEMPT WILL BE PURGED AWAY DURING
The Savior makes an atonement for the sins of mankind for the very purpose of giving them a trial for life, an opportunity to demonstrate whether, under the favorable conditions of the Messianic Kingdom, they will choose righteousness and life or unrighteousness and everlasting death. The Scriptures seem to imply that there will be a great deal of shame and contempt properly attaching to those who will not have come into full accord with God.--`Dan. 12:2`.
During the thousand years of trial, very many will purge themselves of this shame and contempt. Thus we may suppose that, as the years go by, the shame will gradually cease and the contempt will die away. We see this point illustrated in the case of Saul of Tarsus. When he learned that he was fighting against God, he was very much ashamed of the course which he had taken. As gradually he manifested his loyalty to God, he purged himself of this shame and contempt. St. Paul's valor and zeal in the service of the Lord offset the things which he did ignorantly as Saul of Tarsus. His shame, therefore, has passed away.
The world will awake from the dead in this condition of shame and contempt. But gradually the obedient will arise from this state to the original perfection of the image of God. The wilfully disobedient, on the contrary, will not rise. They will sink lower, until finally they will go into everlasting destruction, or as St. Peter says, "As natural brute beasts...shall utterly perish in their own corruption."--`2 Pet. 2:12`.
At the First Advent our Lord did most of His healing on the Sabbath Day, thus foreshadowing the work of healing which He will do for the world in the great antitypical Sabbath--the Millennium. Mankind will come forth from the tomb free from their previous condemnation, with human bodies in proper condition, so that their friends will recognize them as formerly; but they will have weaknesses--physical, mental and moral.
God has provided everything necessary for the resurrection of mankind--not only the Ransom-price, but also
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Christ's Mediatorial Kingdom. The uplifting influences of the incoming Age will be open to every member of the race, whether great or small, rich or poor. But their acceptance or rejection and the rapidity of their progress will depend upon their personal interest in the matter. Those who refuse to advance and who show no desire for their own development, will be cut off in Second Death.
There is no reason why those who will not make progress should be allowed to live on indefinitely. The same Justice which declares that only those who are in perfect accord with God shall have everlasting life, will not permit those to live forever who continue to be imperfect. Such will indicate by their attitude that they are not in harmony with righteousness, and will be justly classed as wicked. Of these it is written, "All the wicked will He destroy."--`Psa. 145:20`.
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QUIETLY MINDING ONE'S OWN BUSINESS
"But we beseech you, brethren....that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business."--`I Thess. 4:10,11`.
THERE IS A quietness that appertains to sloth and indolence; but this evidently is not what the Apostle means in our text; for elsewhere he urges us to be "not slothful in business." (`Rom. 12:11`.) There is another quietness that appertains to peace-- a composure which is the opposite of nervousness, giddiness and childishness. This condition we believe to be that which the Apostle has in mind. The Lord's people are to study to have a mind that is well balanced. This composure is not natural to the majority of people and is, therefore, something to be studied and attained. We are in the school of Christ to learn such lessons.
This desirable quietness represents the graces of the Holy Spirit--meekness, gentleness, patience and brotherly kindness. While we are to be "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord" (`Rom. 12:11`,) we are also to be obedient to the instructions of the Holy Spirit, in meekness, quietness and love. We are to endeavor to take a proper estimate of the affairs of life, and not to allow trivial things to excite us. This course, if faithfully pursued, tends to produce a quietness of spirit.
To mind one's own business is a very important lesson to learn. Surely every Christian has observed that much of the trouble in the world results from interference one with another. In every difficulty, one or both of the persons involved failed to mind his own business. Some people are always seeking to find fault with others, and seem to think they are commissioned to correct the whole world. We find no authority given in the Bible for such a course.
A busybody is a person who meddles with the affairs of others with which he properly has nothing whatever to do. Sometimes he fancies that it is his duty to advise, criticise, investigate, chide and reprove others. The Golden Rule will prove a great help in deciding what is one's duty in any case. This commandment of the Lord prohibits everything akin to busybodying. Each member of the New Creation should educate his conscience to discriminate between brotherly-love and busybodying, and should learn to apply the rules of justice and love to every act, word and thought, so far as in him lies.
Where a matter is one in which we are personally concerned, however, we shall not be meddling with other
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people's affairs, but minding our own business, when we give it proper attention. There are times, places and circumstances which the Bible points out as proper for correction, reproof, etc. A parent may correct a child; a teacher, a pupil. It is not meddling for a parent to have knowledge and direction of all that is going on in the house, nor for the teacher to be in touch with the affairs of the school. The personal rights of the members of a family or of a school should never be lost sight of, however. A householder and those who are serving a house come under the same rule as do parent and child, teacher and pupil.
One of the greatest lessons of life is to learn that one who spends considerable time in correcting others, even though it be properly done and well, is prone to forget himself. One's first duty is to bring himself into harmony with the Divine arrangement and to keep himself there.
BUSYBODYING AN EVIDENCE OF UNBELIEF
To keep ourselves in the Love of God, we should cultivate the fruits and the graces of the Holy Spirit. There are not a few who can discourse learnedly on those qualities, but who seem not to be able properly to apply their knowledge to the affairs of every-day life. They seem to be unable to realize where meekness, gentleness and love should be shown in their own experiences. There are some things which we can teach others better by example than by precept. If we show in the little things of life that we are governed by the principles of justice and love, and if when under trial we exhibit meekness, gentleness and other fruits of the Spirit, our influence for good will be greatly increased.
Observation in life leads one to believe that fully one-half of the world are meddle-some busybodies, and that many of their trials result from this weakness. It would appear that in nearly every family there is some one, perhaps a husband, perhaps a wife, perhaps a child, who takes advantage of the kindness and generosity of the others and rules the house. Usually in such cases there is much injustice done. Those who take this position often attempt to justify their course by saying, "If I did not take the reins in hand, things would not run properly." Such do not perceive that they are busybodies.
This course of conduct demonstrates a lack of faith in God. We should do our duty and leave the rest to the Lord. There are people who in the future will find that they have lost much because they have not been subject to the Divine arrangements. Any one of the Lord's people who thus practises injustice is not making progress as a New Creature. Whether it be the husband, the wife or the child who rides rough-shod over the rights of others, this course is contrary to the Divine Law and the spirit of Love. Some day these will realize that they made a grave mistake.--`Col. 3:18-21`.
The head of a house and of a family has a responsibility which he should recognize and which it is his duty to exercise. But he should do so with loving interest, looking out for the welfare and the preference of those whom he directs. The responsibility of a husband in his home, therefore, means the obligation which the Divine Law has laid upon him and which often requires the sacrifice of his own time and preferences in the interest of his family. It is his duty to discharge this responsibility. --`Eph. 5:25-33`; `6:4`.
The Scriptures also describe the proper place for the
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mother in the family. This position is a noble one. But every woman who usurps the place of the head of the household is surely doing injury to herself and the best interests of her family, even though she may seem for a time to prosper in her wrong course.--`I Pet. 3:1-6`.
There are many who are impatient and unkind in their dealings with the members of their own family, but who to outsiders seem to be models of deportment. It is hard to see how they justify their course, especially when we recall that they have a particular responsibility toward their family for mental, as well as physical sustenance. It behooves each one who would have the approval of God to study his conduct, not only toward the world and the brethren, but also toward the members of his own family, that he may be sure that he is minding his own business in every sense of the word.
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"YET THERE IS ROOM"
"Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."--`Rev. 3:11`.
THE QUESTION is sometimes asked whether it is possible for one to consecrate himself and to be accepted at this late hour in the Gospel Age, unless there is a crown reserved for such a one. Certainly it would be possible for one to consecrate himself. Consecration is always proper. Long before the Gospel Age began, Abraham and the Prophets made consecration of their lives. St. Paul informs us that these Ancient Worthies showed that their lives were consecrated to God and righteousness; for they suffered--many of them--painful and ignominious deaths for His sake. Thus they demonstrated that the world was unworthy of them. --`Heb. 11:33-38`.
The fact that a person has offered himself in consecration does not, however, obligate the Almighty to accept the offering. While it is true that "God is no respecter of persons" (`Acts 10:34`,) yet His favor was given first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. This favor is the most wonderful ever offered to beings on any plane of existence--that all who will accept the terms may come into the Church, which is the mystical Body of Christ, until a sufficient number shall have been found, until the fore-ordained number shall have made consecration and shall have made their calling and election sure.
While the Scriptures indicate clearly that we are living at the very close of the Gospel Age, yet it is not for us to know when the full number shall have consecrated themselves. It is our belief that in a general way the outward call ceased in 1881, A. D.
Our thought is that in 1878 there were a great many consecrated persons who had not passed their trial in full; and that there were in the nominal churches many thousands who had made full consecration to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. From 1874 to 1881, there was a great number of evangelists preaching both in this country and abroad. Of these, Evangelist Moody was perhaps the best known. He seemed to make a great many converts; and his preaching seemed to be very different from that of the majority of evangelists. He preached forgiveness through the precious blood of Christ, and full consecration to God.
During that revival period, many made a full consecration, had their names tentatively written in Heaven, and filled up the number required. But when the testings came, many were found unworthy of a higher reward than that of the Great Company. Others took the places of the failures and were also tested and sifted. Vacancies occurred; and still others came in for an opportunity. We see evidences that this work has been going on for the past thirty years; and we believe that it is true that some names are now being listed and that there are crowns awaiting such.
OUR REASON FOR THIS THOUGHT
People who have not been interested in religion and who have not heretofore consecrated themselves unto God, have quite recently made full consecration of themselves and have received that evidence which seems to indicate that God has accepted them. Not only have the eyes of their understanding been opened so that they can see the spiritual, or deep things of God, but they are given opportunities to sacrifice. While we make a covenant that we will sacrifice (`Psa. 50:5`), yet it is for the Lord to give us the opportunity to do so. The fact that some of the recently consecrated are receiving and using opportunities to sacrifice, implies that when they made their consecration there was a place open and that they are filling it.
The fact also that so many have been thus accepted since 1878 seems to imply that there has been a considerable vacancy in the list of the Elect, and that it is gradually filling up. It is not for us to say how much of a vacancy remains, or just when it will be filled. We fully believe, however, that it will be filled before the close of "the Times of the Gentiles," which we think will end with October, 1914.
As for others who have not yet consecrated themselves, we can say with St. Paul, "I beseech you,...brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice." (`Rom. 12:1`.) Do your best. It may be that there is an opening and you may get in. Consecrate your time, your talents, all that you have, to the service of God. He is a good Paymaster; whatever reward He may give you will be a prize.
We realize, however, that all who will be accepted as members of the Body of Christ must have trials both of faith and of loyalty before being assigned to a definite place in the Kingdom. Those who become reprobates will constitute the Second Death class. Others may be assigned to the Great Company. All such will be counted out of membership in the Royal Priesthood. As each is put out as unworthy, his former place becomes vacant and
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his crown released. Such vacancies, we understand, are now being filled from among those who offer themselves.
This condition has obtained since 1881, when, we believe--as before stated--the general call ceased. When a vacancy occurs, it is reasonable to believe that from among those who are in a waiting attitude the one would be chosen who is the most highly developed and most fully in harmony with the Lord.
"The Lord be with you!" steals the benediction
With solemn splendor like a falling star;
In morns of joy and midnights of affliction,
It breathes its echoed sweetness near and far.
"The Lord be with you!" when the shadows hold you;
And prove His loving power to soothe and bless;
When dangers darken and when fears enfold you,
"The Lord be with you!" in His tenderness.
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ABRAHAM AND THE HEBREWS
--FEBRUARY 16.--`GENESIS 12:1-9`.--
"I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing."--`Genesis 12:2`.
"FATHER of the Faithful" is one of Abraham's titles in the Bible. He is one of the greatest characters in history. The most enlightened peoples of the earth look back to him as the Divinely-appointed channel through whom all their religious hopes and prospects have been received--Jews, Christians and Mohammedans. God's promises made to Abraham constitute the foundation of faith for all these peoples, although many of them are not aware of the fact.
The Jews are Abraham's natural descendants through Isaac and Jacob, while the Mohammedans represent specially the Ishmaelite and Esau branches of Abraham's family. Christians profess that they have become heirs to the chiefest blessings promised to Abraham's Seed, by becoming associates and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus, whom they consider the antitype of Isaac and the Heir to all things.--`Galatians 3:29`.
The New Testament claim is that the Church of Christ --partly from the Jews and partly from the Gentiles-- is the antitype of Rebecca, Isaac's wife and joint-heir. As such, the Church is to be the Bride and Joint-heir of Messiah in His Kingdom. In this picture Abraham typified Jehovah God, Isaac typified Jesus Christ, and Rebecca typified the Church. The New Testament claim is that this Spiritual Seed of Abraham is yet to be God's agency in blessing Natural Israel and all the nations. But, alas, much of the New Testament teaching was lost in the darkness of medieval times.
Christians forgot their high calling, forgot that they were to be joint-heirs in Messiah's Kingdom, forgot that that Kingdom was yet to bless all the families of the earth. Instead, they got the narrow view that merely the saintly Elect would be saved at all, and that they to all eternity would look over the battlements of Heaven and see all others of mankind in torture, and to all eternity hear their groans. Only now are Bible students gradually getting freed from the creeds and back to the teachings of God's Word. Only now are we learning the true import of St. Paul's words to the Church, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed, and heirs according to the promise [made to him]."--`Gal. 3:29`.
One would think that under such circumstances every Jew, every Christian, every Mohammedan, would have absolute confidence in the fact that Abraham once lived. Indeed, it has been merely their confidence in the promises of God made to Abraham that has held the Jews together as a nation and that has gathered Christians from all nations to be heirs of that same promise. Yet, strange to say, the learned Jews and Christians of our day are turning Higher Critics. They are rejecting Abraham and the promises of God made to him as merely mythical legends. How strange that they do not recognize the inconsistency of their position! It is like the tail of a dog disowning its head.
What excuse would Jews have, living in every nation and speaking fifty different languages, for still keeping themselves Jews at all, if they repudiate the peculiar promises of God which relate to them as a people and which caused them originally to remain separate from every other nation, according to Divine instructions, and in hope of a blessing ultimately? The Jew or the Christian who repudiates Abraham simply makes himself foolish in the eyes of all intelligent thinkers. Such would do themselves credit to renounce all claim to Judaism and to Christianity, and thereby they would benefit those whom they would leave.
GOD'S CALL TO ABRAHAM
The name Abraham signifies Father of a multitude. It was given to him after he had responded to God's call and showed his faith and obedience. Originally, his name was Abram, which signifies exalted faith. The name Abraham occurs in the New Testament seventy-four times. Jesus referred to him nineteen times. The promises of God made to Abraham constitute the foundation for all the theology of the New Testament, as expressed by the Lord Jesus, by St. Paul, by St. Stephen, St. Peter and others.
Abraham's birthplace was Ur of the Chaldees, one hundred and twenty miles to the north of the Persian Gulf, and was known as the richest portion of Asia. His father, Terah, was a heathen. Polytheism prevailed--the worshiping of many gods. Jewish legends respecting Abraham tell that as a boy he loathed the vices with which he was surrounded. When only fourteen years old, he refused to join with the family in idol-worship, and on one occasion destroyed seventy-two costly idols.
From Ur the family migrated to Haran, about five hundred miles northwest and in the direction of Palestine. There Abraham remained until his father Terah's death. Then he removed to the land of Canaan. God's dealing with Abraham, according to St. Stephen's account (`Acts 7:2,3`), began while he was still in Ur. God called him out of the midst of the evil surroundings to be the founder of a new nation that would be holy and obedient to God. The words of the call are not fully given, nor are we informed of the manner in which it was conveyed. It is sufficient for us that Abraham recognized the message as from the Lord, and that he obeyed Him.
Evidently the Lord fixed no earlier date than the death of Terah for Abraham's going to Canaan. Otherwise Abraham would not have been justified in delaying the matter. Doubtless Abraham had something to do with the migration from Ur to Haran. It took them away from the idolatrous scenes of the metropolis to the quieter conditions of pastoral life, and would be recognized by Abraham as a step in the right direction--toward Canaan, so that, on the death of his father, he could be prepared to quickly enter upon the Divine arrangement.
SEPARATE YOURSELVES FROM IDOLATERS
A portion of the call is stated: "Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee; and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing; and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth (injureth) thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."--`Genesis 12:1-3`.
It was in harmony with this Divine call that Abraham, seventy-five years old, at the death of his father Terah, took up his journey to the land of Canaan. There were no landed estates then. The Henry George idea of free land prevailed. Sometime before this, Abraham's elder brother, Nahor, had married and set up an establishment of his own. His brother Haran had died, and Terah. Abraham, with the remnant of the family--and his half-sister Sarah (princess), who became his wife, and his nephew Lot, the son of his elder brother Haran--took their flocks and herds to Canaan, so called because inhabited by sons of Canaan.--`Genesis 10:18`.
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ABRAHAM'S GREAT FAITH IN GOD
The Bible makes a clear distinction between faith and credulity. Abraham was not credulous, in the evil sense of that word, but he was full of faith. This feature of his character specially endeared him to the Almighty, who, because of it, styled him His friend. As St. Paul writes, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." (`Galatians 3:6`.) It is not claimed in the Bible that Abraham was perfect, nor that any man is perfect. The reverse of this is declared: "There is none righteous (perfect), no, not one." "All come short of the glory of God." (`Romans 3:10,23`.) None measure up to the glorious image of God, as first it was represented in Father Adam.
Neither was Abraham the friend of God because of his great education, nor because of any wonderful intellectual powers. None of his attainments are held up to us as a basis of his special favor from God and relationship to Him. Nevertheless, we see that he had intellectual powers. The fact that he was very rich indicates that he was a good manager. His skill as a leader of men and as a general was shown at the time that Lot and all the wealthy Sodomites and their possessions were taken captive by King Chedorlaomer and his associates. In the
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most commonplace language we read that Abraham promptly armed 318 of his own servants, pursued the victors, by strategy routed them and recovered the spoils.
But it was not for his skill as a general, nor for his generosity in dealing with the spoils, nor for his generosity on other occasions, that God loved Abraham. The special quality that God esteemed in him is repeatedly mentioned in the Bible as having been Abraham's faith. "Abraham believed God." He did not believe his own imaginations, nor the imaginations or dreams of other men.
CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM
Abraham's children, from God's standpoint, include only those who have faith in God. The original evidence of this faith and obedience was circumcision of the flesh, which figuratively represented a turning away from sin, to be obedient to God, and to be inheritors with Abraham of the promise made to Abraham and his seed. Circumcision has become largely a ceremony to the Jews--a ceremony in which they have little or no faith. Such faithless circumcision entitles them to no special favors of the Almighty. But all Jews who still trust in Abraham and the promises made to Abraham are subject to Divine favor and, to our understanding of the Bible, will soon be recipients of marked evidences of Divine blessing at the hands of the glorious Messiah, who soon is to set up God's Kingdom.
St. Paul explains that all true Christians, coming either from the Jews or from the Gentiles, become the Spiritual Seed of Abraham--heirs of certain spiritual promises, as the natural seed are heirs of certain earthly promises not yet fulfilled. But St. Paul tells us that as the natural seed must maintain their faith in circumcision to mark their separateness from the Gentiles, so the Spiritual Seed of Abraham must have an antitypical circumcision of the heart--still more effective, separating them from the world and from sin--marking them off as God's peculiar people zealous of good works.
We exhort both Jews and Christians to honesty and faithfulness--to obedience to God: the one class, that they may inherit the Heavenly promises; the other class, that they may be ready for the inheritance of the earthly promises, which will be theirs as soon as the Heavenly, Spiritual Seed of Abraham shall have been completed by the "change" of the First Resurrection.
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ABRAHAM WAS VERY RICH
--FEBRUARY 23.--`GENESIS 13:1-18`.--
"The blessing of Jehovah, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow therewith."--`Proverbs 10:22`.--R.V.
THE BIBLE declares that there are not many rich, not many wise, not many learned, who enjoy God's special favor, but chiefly the poor of this world, who are rich in faith. But whoever concludes from this that God is prejudiced against the rich, or that all the rich are iniquitous and have gained their wealth through fraud, errs grievously. What it does teach is that God is no respecter of persons. Whether one be rich or poor, learned or ignorant, God's estimation of him is from the standpoint of the heart. There are both good and bad rich men, just as there are both good and bad poor men.
Abraham, though the youngest son of the family, at the death of his father Terah doubtless inherited all that remained of his possessions, including the share of Sarah, his wife, who was his half-sister. The chronology of the narrative agrees with this; but some have erred in the study of it. Abraham is mentioned first amongst his brethren because of his greater prominence, and not because he was the elder.
Added to Abraham's rich inheritance was the blessing of the Lord upon him. After he had accepted the Divine call and left his homeland to become a wandering shepherd and herdsman in Canaan, his flocks and herds increased greatly. He was, under God's blessing, very rich. Others also of God's servants in the past were greatly blessed with riches--for instance, Job. We are not, however, to apply our Golden Text in this way at the present time. The blessing of the Lord very rarely makes wealthy His saintly people during this Gospel Age. Jesus and the Apostles and the specially saintly all down through the Age and today are poor in this world's goods.
It may be asked, Why this change in God's dealings? The reply of the Scriptures is, that in the past, up to the time of Christ, God's blessings were to men as men; but since the time of Christ, God's saints are "New Creatures in Christ." The terms of discipleship are that they exchange all earthly favors, riches and blessings, and sacrifice their claims to these in order that they may become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, their Lord, to the Heavenly inheritance--and share in the Messianic Kingdom and its glory, honor and immortality.
God dealt with Abraham as a friend and gave him earthly blessings and promised him earthly blessing in the future life. Jesus and His followers God accepts not as friends, but as sons. His promises to these are not earthly, but Heavenly, spiritual privileges and hopes in the present life, and spiritual glory and immortality--far above angels--in the life to come. God's favor to this House of Sons, of whom Jesus is the Head (`Hebrews 3:6`), is manifested often in the trials, difficulties, chastisements and earthly losses and afflictions which they experience, all of which are designed to work out for them "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." The beauty and harmony of the Bible can be understood only
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by those who thus "rightly divide the Word of Truth" and differentiate between the blessings and promises to the Ancient Worthies as distinct from those which appertain to the followers of Jesus.
ABRAHAM'S FRIENDS NOT JOINT-HEIRS
Lot was a man of nearly Abraham's age, his nephew, the son of his brother Haran. They were friends and companions. God did not call Lot, nor any other of Abraham's relatives, but merely himself, to be the recipient of the promises--the channel through whom they would be fulfilled. This did not hinder Lot from being with his uncle, but indeed permitted him to share the blessings of Divine Providence, which guided Abraham's affairs. God's Covenant and promises were not made with Lot, but with Abraham only. Similarly the spiritual children of Abraham alone are the heirs of the Abrahamic promise, and not their friends or relatives, although the latter may share a reflex blessing of spiritual influence through association with them.
These spiritual children of Abraham, Christ and His consecrated followers, are particularly specified as the heirs of the Abrahamic promise by St. Paul. (`Galatians 3:29`.) "They all have a faith similar to that of Abraham, and a spirit of obedience similar to his. Jesus is their Head, Captain and Leader, as well as their Redeemer, and they become His disciples by a covenant of sacrifice similar to His own. His promise to them is, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne"-- the Kingdom which is to fulfil all the gracious promises which God made to Abraham--to Jews and Gentiles.
RICHES OFTEN BRING TROUBLES
God's blessing upon Abraham, shared by Lot, led on to more or less of ambition and strife, not between the two men themselves, but between their servants. Abraham loved peace, and perceived that it would be wise that the two families should part company. Lot assented. Abraham gave him his choice as to the section of country; and Lot chose the most fertile--the plain of Sodom, in the Valley of Jordan, and the Plain of Sodom, afterward devastated as a judgment from the Lord, is now the Valley of the Dead Sea.
Lot made his home in Sodom while his herds and flocks were pastured in the fertile regions surrounding. Doubtless Lot's wife had to do with the choice. She loved a beautiful home. To her the surroundings of Sodom were very attractive. The family lived there three years, although the riches of the country had a debasing effect upon the people. Lot's righteous soul was vexed, more than offsetting the charm of the country which his wife so loved. Looking back with longing heart at the time of its destruction, she was overtaken in the catastrophe which her husband and daughters escaped.
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Abraham, on the contrary, fixed his heart and hopes upon the gracious promises of God, which appertained less to the present and more to the future life. Sarah, his wife, was a real helpmate, who shared her husband's hopes and desired to co-labor with him faithfully for their accomplishment. In these two families, both well-intentioned, we see illustrated the difference between seeking chiefly the Divine approval and seeking chiefly earthly welfare and ease.
Many Christian people today make similar mistakes to that which Lot made. They allow conflicting earthly interests to separate them from the blessings of God's greater favor. They thus involve themselves and their families in the snare of the wicked, while at heart preferring righteousness.
The Master's advice should be remembered, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness." Do that which is in harmony with that aspiration and leave to God the oversight and care of earthly interests, that He may give you the lessons and experiences most helpful for you. Those who follow His advice find peace and joy which the world can neither give nor take away-- "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding."
GOD'S BLESSING MAKES RICH
Whoever has the Lord's blessing is rich indeed, regardless of the amount of this world's goods which he possesses. Of what value is all the wealth of a Croesus if it bring not peace, joy and happiness? Wherever we go we find all--rich and poor--seeking pleasure, seeking the springs of joy; but how few of these seekers ever find it! Alas! it seems impossible for the world to understand the great fact that the blessing of the Lord constitutes the true fund of riches and pleasures forevermore--more than the life that now is, and the coming one!
Those whom the Lord makes rich with His promises and His favor, His guidance and His blessing, have the joy which others are vainly seeking. These true riches during this Gospel Age are obtainable by all who have the "hearing ear," and who learn of God's favor in Christ. In Christ are hidden all the treasures of Divine Wisdom, Love and Power.
The only ones who obtain a share of these blessings at the present time are such as become followers of Jesus through faith and consecration of their lives to His service. Nevertheless, in Him are also restitution blessings for the world of mankind, which will be dispensed during the thousand years of His reign, which will begin at His Second Coming. St. Peter tells us of this, and points us to the fact that it has been "foretold by all the Holy Prophets since the world began."--`Acts 3:19-21`.
God's Covenant with Abraham is several times repeated in slightly different form. One of these presentations is a part of today's study; but as this will be the topic of our study next week, we will here merely allude to it and ask the reader to note that it was not a Heavenly promise, but an earthly one--"all the land which thou seest"; and that it was to an earthly people--"I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth." These are wholly different promises from those which appertain to the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, as our lesson of next week will show.
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DEAR PASTOR RUSSELL:--
Just about eighteen months ago I wrote to thank you for the great happiness your books had brought to my husband and self. Today I write to tell you that he finished his course--on September 25.
It was truly as St. Paul says, "In the twinkling of an eye." He had been out, and was telling me something he had seen--and stopped in the middle of a sentence.
In your answer to my last letter you said you noticed we were anxious to spread the Truth, and that perhaps we should be given more opportunity. He was. He became mate on the ferry here, and as it is quite a big thing, he had many opportunities of talking to people, and I don't think he ever missed one.
Last year people used to laugh, but this year they were either annoyed or said, "Well, we can all see there's something coming, and perhaps you're right--hope you are!"
Several, I know, thanked him for telling them of your books, and said they were just what they were wanting. He always said he wasn't nearly good enough for the "little flock," but it seems to me he was just the sort you describe in Vol. V, page 237. He hated the thought of the "Great
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Company," as he did anything that was half and half; and he certainly never turned his back on the Truth.
His death was a great shock to everybody in the town, for he was considered one of its healthiest inhabitants, and he was only forty-three. As he lay there, I said to the doctor (who did not know him personally), "He never played a mean trick on anybody in all his life," and the doctor said, "You've only to look at his face to see that, Mrs. Childe."
People who knew him always said he was the most absolutely honest man (very often to his own detriment) they had ever met. His deck hands have told me he was the nicest man they ever worked for--so fair and just, and always ready to stand up for them if anyone else tried to down them; and I would rather have that than a good word from the King--one doesn't put on company manners for one's deck hands.
It may interest you to know that my husband tried twice (before we heard the Truth, and principally for the protection of myself and the children) to join a secret order. Each time--in different towns--the same men black-balled him. They had injured him, and so hated him. Since he knew the Truth, he has been asked to join (which is much against their rules, I believe), not only that order, but several others. They said it would make things so much easier! Of course, he stood clear, and was not in any "bundle" whatsoever.
We were left with almost no money--had lost all we had a few years ago. I have three children--11 and 9 years and 10 months old. I hadn't a relative nearer than 2,000 miles away. I left it all with God, knowing "our bread and water were sure," anyway. And now we are provided for, for at least two years! There was no appeal made--just everybody wanted to help. Ah!--
"I read from the past that my future shall be
Far better than all my fears!"
They all respected my husband for his character, though many thought he had "queer views." I should so value a word from you at this time. I don't know what I should do without the Truth now; I should be despairing. But now every newspaper I take up tells me I shall soon see him again! Thank God! I can say--
"The billows that guarded my sea-girt path
Carried my Lord on their crest!"
He has been as good as all His promises.
With many thanks for the comfort (under God) you have given me in this, my greatest trouble, I remain,
ELEANOR I. CHILDE.--B. C., Can.
DEARLY BELOVED BROTHER IN CHRIST:--
Your letter to colporteurs I have received, and I wish to express my great appreciation of its words of encouragement and counsel. I also wish to thank you for the offered gift-- I chose a "Heavenly Manna"--as my other one is wearing out. I could not live without these words of Truth each day, as they give needed strength in trials, and are a source of great blessings.
The WATCH TOWER, too, is eagerly waited for. Each issue is most precious. When I saw the last report, I felt so glad that I had been permitted a very small share in the work. Oh! the joy of service. I wish to briefly tell a little experience regarding our newspaper here, The Piqua Leader-Dispatch, which gives us the sermon each Monday.
Quite recently I was in the office on business, and being well known to the editor and others of their force, they called me in to inform me that a local minister had just been in to request the discontinuance of our sermon feature. They inquired of me the "why."
I knew at once what brought this on, for we were that week putting out our recent "Hell" tracts. This was the result. I carefully, wisely (I trust) chose my words in answer. I also stated that I had worked this city for a year or so in the interest of the Bible Society, and knew of many who were much helped by the reading of the sermons. I said that all great men have enemies, but ours is a Christian cause, and a great success, too.
Their reply was that personally they considered it very "small" for any minister to take such a stand.
A week or so later this same minister publicly announced that he would expose "Pastor Russell," our society, Bible Students, etc. And he did--to a moderate audience. But the wrath of men must praise God; for he spoke of our untiring zeal, of the wonderful scope of the work, but couldn't understand where the money came from!
Then he related how he had requested The Leader-Dispatch to discontinue the sermons. Their answer had been, however, that "they were too valuable!" "Then," he added, "if they will put them before us, we can at least refuse to read them."
I think this a good advertisement, don't you? But I found Catholics and Protestants, Christians, Jews and non-professors, who read them. Thanks be to God! How glad we are that in "due time" all shall know, even the least. We pray richest blessings upon you, dear brother, in the coming year.
Yours by His Grace, MRS. GEO. H. KELLER.
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Enclosed herewith please find clipping from the Gospel Messenger, December 14, 1912 issue, containing an article entitled "Hell and Damnation," by B. E. Kesler, River Bend, Colo. This paper is a Dunkard paper, or more properly is the mouthpiece of "The Church of the Brethren."
You will note that Mr. Kesler makes the charge that Pastor Russell makes all kinds of fanciful translations of the Scriptures in order to sustain what he designates your "theories." It is another case of "throwing dust" into the eyes of the people. I don't understand how any one can write such an article without knowing that he is misrepresenting the facts, and in proof note what he says respecting `2 Peter 2:4`. Here he makes you say that God cast the angels that sinned down to the fires of Gehenna, whereas you plainly show in the pamphlet, which he evidently read, that the Greek word here is not "Gehenna," but "Tartaroo." This I find is what the Emphatic Diaglott, as well as Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Scriptures, reveals it to be.
Is it not now time in the Lord's providence to answer the charge, "It is a peculiarity of his writings, generally, that he doesn't seem to find his theories taught in any of the commonly accepted translations of the Bible, and so he makes bold to make his own translation as he goes, and in this way tries to cover up his assumed prerogative, to condemn as 'heretics' and 'hypocrites' all who do not bow at his shrine and accept his theories"?
I will not now take the time to call attention to other discrepancies in this article of nonsense, but will leave it to your judgment of the Lord's will in the matter. Surely now is the separating time; and all who are professing to be the Lord's people are most surely now taking their stand for either Truth or Error, as never before.
We surely can never appreciate the Present Truth enough, nor render unto the Lord sufficient praise or thanks for the anointing of our eyes with the "eye salve" of Truth through your faithful ministry.
Yours in the Beloved, M. L. WOLF
* * *
Thanks, dear friend! It is saddening to find religious teachers striving to throw "dust" in the mental eyes of their
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followers. Some are "blind leaders of the blind," while others apparently are "willingly ignorant." Like the Pharisees of old, some have taken away from their too trustful followers the "key of knowledge," and are grieved that the people are now being taught better. However, the result is that some are getting awake and learning to think, and to study the Bible for themselves, who otherwise might have slept on. It is God's "due time" for His faithful to be awakened and to come to a knowledge of the Truth; and for aught we know He is using the wrath of man to praise Himself.
A still more despicable course is followed by some claiming to be ministers of Christ. Unable to controvert Pastor Russell's teachings they slander him shamefully. Professing to be Christians, they insinuate and come as close as possible to infracting the lowest standards of human law respecting slander and libel. They that preach the Golden Rule and profess to believe that everybody who breaks it is going to everlasting torture, do they forget the words of St. John that their course is in the sight of our Lord really "murder"?-- `1 John 3:15`.
MY DEAR PASTOR:--
Received the last WATCH TOWER for 1912 yesterday; and oh, how much good it has done me already! The article which appeals to me specially now is one entitled: "The Philosophy of Our Daily Experiences." It is meat in due season for me; and I thank the Lord for such strengthening food, as I am now undergoing some "training." By His grace and help assisting, I would like to come to the place where I will delight to do His will.
God bless you and keep you till the end.
MINNIE J. WILSON.