VOL. XIV. MAY 15, 1893. NO. 10.
TAKING GOD'S NAME IN VAIN.
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."--`Exod. 20:7`.
WHILE it is true, as the Apostle Paul states (`Col. 2:14`; `Eph. 2:15`), that the handwriting of the ordinances or decrees of the Jewish law, which was found to be only unto death, was taken away by the vicarious sacrifice of Christ Jesus, so that there is now no condemnation to them that are in him, by faith in his blood, and also that the ceremonial or typical features of the law, having been fulfilled, have likewise passed away (`Rom. 8:1`; `Matt. 5:18`), it is nevertheless true that the moral precepts of that law never have passed away, and never will, because they are parts of the eternal law of right.
Among these precepts is the above, generally known as the second commandment--"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." It behooves us, therefore, to consider what the Lord would esteem as a vain use of his name. The expression, "in vain," signifies falsely, or, to no purpose; and, it will be seen, is a finer distinction of irreverence than either profanity or blasphemy. To profane the name of God is to use it with disrespect and irreverence; and to blaspheme his name is to revile, calumniate, reproach and abuse it. While, therefore, it is unquestionably wrong to either profane or abuse the holy name of our God, those also who in a milder sense take it in vain, are, we are assured, not held guiltless.
"Behold," says the `Psalmist (51:6`), "thou desirest truth in the inward parts"--in the heart; and the Apostle Paul exhorts, saying, "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ [Jehovah's representative] depart from iniquity." (`2 Tim. 2:19`.) "But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes [laws], or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction and castest my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son."--`Psa. 50:16-20`.
The prophet `Isaiah (29:13`) prophesied of such a class; and alas, many have arisen in fulfilment of his words. Our Lord applied the prophecy to some in his day, saying, "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."--`Matt. 15:8,9`.
Seeing with what aversion the Lord regards anything short of simple candor and honesty of heart in those who claim to be Christians or children of God, with what carefulness should we take upon us his worthy name! In claiming to be the divinely recognized children of
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God and followers of his dear Son, we stand before the world as God's representatives, and, presumably, all our words and actions are in harmony with his indwelling spirit. We stand as guideposts in the midst of the world's dark and uncertain way; and if we are not true to our professions we are deceitful sign-boards causing the inquirer to lose the right way and to stumble into many a snare. To take the name of God, then, claiming to be his sons, and Christians, or followers of Christ, without a fixed determination and careful effort to fairly represent him is a sin against God, of which none who do so will be held guiltless.
"Let every one," therefore, "that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity." "If I regard iniquity in my heart," says the Psalmist, "the Lord will not hear me." (`Psa. 66:18`.) To undertake the Christian life is to engage in a great warfare against iniquity; for, though the grace of God abounds to us through
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Christ to such an extent that our imperfections and shortcomings are not imputed to us, but robed in Christ's imputed righteousness we are reckoned holy and acceptable to God, we are not, says the Apostle (`Rom. 6:1,2`), to continue in sin that grace may abound; for by our covenant with God we have declared ourselves dead to sin and that we have no longer any desire to live therein. But having made such a covenant with God and taken upon us his holy name, if we continue in sin or cease to strive against sin, we are proving false to our profession.
"Shall we," then, "who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" God forbid. Let not sin reign in your mortal body, but reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. (`Rom. 6:1,2,11,12`.) This means a great deal. It means a constant warfare against the easily besetting sins of our old nature; and the struggle will be long and constant until the power of sin is broken: and then only constant vigilance will keep it down. A Christian, therefore, who is true to his profession is one who daily strives to realize an increasing mastery over sin in himself, and who, therefore, is able from time to time to distinguish some degree of advancement in this direction. He grows more Christ-like--more self-possessed, more meek and gentle, more disciplined and refined, more temperate in all things, and more fully possessed of the mind that was in Christ Jesus. The old tempers and unlovely dispositions disappear, and the new mind asserts its presence and power. And thus the silent example of a holy life reflects honor upon that holy name which it is our privilege to bear and to represent before the world--as living epistles, known and read of all men with whom we come in contact.
The formation of such a noble and pure character is the legitimate result of the reception of divine truth into a good and honest heart. Or, rather, such is the transforming power of divine truth upon the whole character when it is heartily received and fully submitted to. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth," was the Lord's petition on our behalf; and let none of the faithful fall into the error of some--of presuming that the sanctifying work can go on better without the truth than with it. We need the instruction and guidance and inspiration of the truth for holy living; and our Lord's words imply that all the truth that is necessary to this end is in the Word of God, and that consequently we are not to look for any further revelations through visions or dreams or imaginations of ourselves or others. The Word of God, says the Apostle (`2 Tim. 3:16,17`), "is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
It reveals to us the spirit, mind or disposition of God, and exhorts us to let the same mind dwell richly in us; and, in conjunction with the study of the mind of God as revealed in his Word and communion with him in prayer, we receive the blessed influences of his spirit, which bring us more and more into conformity with his perfect will. To live a holy life is not to do some great and wonderful things: it is only to live from day to day a life of quiet unostentatious conformity to the will of God, of secret communion with him in our closet devotions and daily walk, and of zealous
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activity to the extent of our ability and opportunity in his service. There is in reality no such thing as the "wonderful piety," the "eminent piety," or the "wonderful faith" of which we often hear and read. There is nothing wonderful about piety: we ought to be pious. Why not? And when our piety becomes "eminent," let us beware of self-righteousness and sanctimonious vain-glory. Neither is there anything wonderful about a clear and steady faith and confident trust in the sure promises of God. Why should we not have faith sufficiently sure and strong? The Christian who bears the strongest testimony for God is the one whose faith is just simple enough to take him at his word, and whose piety consists simply in reverent and loyal obedience to the will of God and in the faithful study of his will, with a view to personal conformity to it. Such need not hesitate to take the name of God --to declare themselves the children of God, and Christians or followers of Christ, and to openly profess that thus they are daily submitting themselves to God to be led of his Spirit.
But let us beware of the error of those whom the Psalmist in the above words describes as "wicked"--who bear the name of Christ in vain, who claim to be God's children and to be led of his spirit, but whose actions show that they hate instruction and cast the words of the Lord behind them--who make common cause with the "thieves and robbers" who are striving to teach men to climb up to life by some other way than that of God's appointment, and whose whole course is in opposition to God and his truth while they proclaim themselves his representatives and ambassadors. Let us indeed beware of such a lamentable condition --of so taking the name of God "in vain." And let all such hear the solemn inquiry and accusation of our great Judge--"What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?" etc. The words of our text assure us that such shall not be held guiltless. Nor will those be who in any way become the aids or abettors of these; for if we consent with "thieves" and become partakers with "adulterers," we shall surely share their reward of divine indignation.
The Lord would have his people separate and distinct from all such, and would not have them fellowship or aid them in any way. He does not own them, and would not have us bid them God speed. Nor would he encourage them to bear his name, to assemble with his people for prayer and praise, or to pose as his ambassadors of truth. The only proper course for such to pursue is to repeat their first works --to repent and turn humbly to God and to heed his instruction.
When we thoughtfully consider what it is to take the name of God in vain, we are overwhelmed with the thought of how many are doing it. Few indeed are applying their hearts unto instruction, yet, without the least hesitation, multitudes are taking the name of God and of Christ in vain. Some do so recklessly because it is customary among respectable people--because Christ's name is a passport of some value in social and business life. Others assume the name as a cloak for false doctrines, as, for instance, "Christian Scientists," whose deceptive doctrines sap the very foundations of Christianity, even denying the personal existence of God and seeking to mystify the very evidence of our senses as to actual human existence. And what gross and hideous doctrines have not shielded themselves under the name Christian, vainly taken? "In vain they do worship me," saith the Lord, "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (`Matt. 15:9`.) Therefore, let all that name the name of Christ depart from iniquity and apply their hearts unto instruction, and verily they shall be led of God in green pastures and beside still waters--their table will be richly and bountifully spread, and their cup of blessing and joy and gladness will overflow; while the wrath of God will in due time be revealed against all who take his hallowed name in vain, however they may band themselves together, and however loudly they may proclaim themselves heaven's appointed messengers.
"'Not my own!' my time, my talent,
Freely all to Christ I bring,
To be used in joyful service
For the glory of my King."
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A GRACIOUS PRINCE!
SOMEWHERE there is told a strange old story,
Of a grand young Prince of royal birth,
Who forsook His sceptre, crown and palace,
Just to mingle with the poor on earth:
Just to serve as lowliest of the lowly,
With a tender love unknown before,
Just to win the hearts of all the wretched,
And persuade them to His palace door.
For He longed to have their feet, all weary,
Find a rest upon His golden floor;
Yearned to spread a banquet for the fainting,
That they might not hunger any more;
Open all His secret, priceless treasures,
Even give the best that was His own,
Clothe them in His robes of beamy splendour,
And invite them to his kingly throne.
So it came: His feet were often weary
With the way--that others might find rest;
And His crownless head at night unpillowed,
That other heads might pillow on His breast.
And the midnight of His soul grew blacker,
'Neath the shadow of the olived gloom;
That other souls might catch the sunny glory
Falling from a grand, eternal noon.
It was He who opened living fountains,
While He drank the wormwood and the gall;
It was He who hushed His own heart's crying,
Just to hear another's feeble call.
He could give a crown of lovingkindness,
And himself be crowned with cruel scorn;
He could put on other brows a glory,
While His own still wore the stinging thorn.
While He gave the joy of heaven to others,
He himself was crushed to earth with woe;
And He spoke His words of consolation,
From an inner anguish none could know.
When the Father raised His face of glory,
And the shades of death came o'er His eyes,
He could turn to help a soul belated,
Groping for the Gates of Paradise.
Heaven and earth have taught us whispered lessons,
From the depths beneath, and heights above;
But the clear voice of the princely Teacher,
Spans the ages with its chords of love.
'Tis His voice that calls us to His service,
'Tis His hand that reaches down to lead,
'Tis He bids us set our feet, well sandalled,
In the very footprints He has made.
Everywhere "His lowly" need our caring,
All around "His blinded" need our sight;
Many a soul sits darkly in grief-shadows,
Waiting for our hand to bring the light.
Hiding deeply all our selfish sorrows,
'Neath a love that "seeketh not her own,"
Filling sunny hours with heavenly service,
We shall hear at twilight His 'Well done!'
--Alice W. Milligan.
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RESURRECTION WITHOUT COMMOTION.
AS shown in our issue of April 1, the resurrection of the Church will be in spirit bodies, quietly, unknown to human beings, who cannot see spirit beings. But with the world in general, how will it be? They, we have seen, will be raised human beings, and hence will be visible to all mankind; will not their resurrection cause a great commotion, and, indeed, consternation? Would not the appearing of millions of human beings, needing food and clothing and shelter, produce a general famine and shortage for all, and interrupt all the affairs of the world?
We answer: No. Although our Father's Word has not given us clear and direct information on these points, we who have come to some knowledge of his wisdom and power, and of his orderly methods of working out his great designs, can safely trust all to him.
Nor should we "speculate" on these subjects, not clearly revealed, in the sense of accepting or setting forth our ideas as anything more than our opinions or suggestions--carefully guarding lest we ourselves, or others, should take our suppositions for the Word of the Lord, which liveth and abideth forever. What follows, then, is not the Word of the Lord--nor our opinion based upon certain explicit statements of God's Word, but merely inference or mental deductions, based upon general principles, and, so far as we can see, in harmony with the scriptural declarations, touching the divine character and general dealings, past and present, and as revealed for the future.
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Let us suppose ourselves living in A.D. 1915, or thereabouts, that we are of the world, and not of the elect Church, at that time the last member of the latter having been "changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," to be like and with the Lord and the glorified spirit-host--although the world will not be aware of this, because the change will come in the moment of dying. By that time society will be in a chaotic condition--nineteenth century
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light, with selfishness, having worked general discontent, and led to the rejection and overthrow of good as well as evil views and institutions. The light of truth having shaken the foundations of sectarianism, which for so long misrepresented the Word of God, the natural result followed: When sectarianism began to fall, it unsettled faith in the Bible. Next followed a union or confederacy of Protestants and an affiliation with Catholics, to rule the world on lines of morality and formalism. This had its day; but finally the masses, freed from the chains of superstition, revolted against class and clerical domination, and overthrew them (probably not many years before or after A.D. 1909). Then followed various efforts to establish peace, prosperity and general welfare, according to various theories-- Nationalism, Single Tax, Socialism, Nihilism, Communism and, finally, Anarchism. Each proved impracticable--all failed to do good. Altogether they proved worse than the worst of earth's despotic governments, because really based on selfishness, while theoretically built on love; leaders selfishly aggrandizing themselves, while violently declaiming against others who had done the same under previous social arrangements.
And now (A.D. 1915) the world has sickened of its own futile efforts to institute and maintain satisfactory, and peace and prosperity-giving government. The time has come for God's Kingdom to begin to reconstruct society upon the principles of righteousness and love. The spiritual Kingdom (Christ and the Church) present in the world, and having all power (but invisible to humanity), begins its work by resurrecting the faithful overcomers of the past (mentioned in `Heb. 11`). They come forth perfect men, because they passed their trial in this life, and that satisfactorily in God's sight (`Heb. 11:39`), and men, because they belonged to the human family for which God has provided restitution--to that nature whose perfections were lost by the fall. "These all" are but few; and their appearance amongst the regathering Jews in Palestine is not wholly a surprise, since all are looking for some favor of God to Israel. Their appearance, no less than their superior talents and wisdom, contrast strongly with those of imperfect men around them, and bring them at once the reverence and obedience of Israelites. Taught to believe in the resurrection, the people are ready to surmise who they are, even without their giving any explanation. Soon they are the recognized rulers of Palestine.
Such news, reaching anarchistic Europe and America, excites the sympathy of the worldly-wise for the poor Jews, so easily deluded; and the news goes the rounds that certain impostors have arisen amongst the Jews who, claiming to be "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the prophets," have deluded the people and seized the government. Soon, however, the news is that Palestine is prospering under these new governors; as never before attention is drawn to their laws and methods, which bring the very results so long and so fruitlessly sought otherwise and elsewhere. Finally, the world in general petitions for the same government and laws, saying (in the language of the prophet): "Come, let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths." (`Micah 4:2`.) In some such way the earthly representatives of the spiritual Kingdom of God will come into control of the world; and then will begin the work of restitution; --the formation of the "new earth" [new social order] under the "new heavens" [the spiritual Kingdom, the glorified Church]. The "new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
Now let us step about fifty years farther into the Millennial age, and take a view.--The blessings of peace and wise government by perfect rulers, in whose hearts selfishness has no place, have wrought wonders: they have really
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transformed the world; the people are happy, industrious and contented; the idle rich are gone, the unemployed poor are gone, "walking delegates" and breeders of discontent are gone; Love and Wisdom and Justice and Power are in control, under the name of the Kingdom of God. Education is general; for, under the new order, wastes are saved, and all have an abundance, and that with fewer hours of labor; besides, now wisdom is general, and saves woful waste, while yielding increased comfort. Aside from climatic changes, the wisdom of perfect rulers is causing the earth to yield great increase in quantity as well as in quality of food. Machinery now is marvelous, and the results benefit all the people. Health is good, proportionately, as people obey the laws of the Kingdom; and none now die except the wilfully perverse, who resist all the beneficent arrangements provided for their welfare, now and everlastingly. And those who do die now have no hope of future trial;--for all living now are living under the second trial secured for all by our Lord's ransom-sacrifice, and failure now means second death--"everlasting DESTRUCTION from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power."
The knowledge of the Lord is now general: the knowledge of the Lord fills the whole earth, and none need say to his neighbor, Know thou the Lord; for all know him, from the least to the greatest. Seeing that the blessings of restitution enjoyed are the result of the ransom-sacrifice of our Lord, and that it was "a ransom for all--to be testified in due time," and that the Scriptures teach that all the world must be awakened from death and brought to a knowledge of the truth and to an opportunity thus to reach full restitution or full resurrection-- up to the perfection lost--talk about this, and when and how it will come about, is general.
Finally, used to trust in the Lord and pray to him, some unite in prayer for a dear old father and mother, whom now they could make so comfortable, and so readily and gladly provide for. The Lord's time having come for this step in his plan, the prayer is answered, and father and mother walk into the home;-- from whence they know not, but themselves they know. It is a miracle, but without the least confusion.
The matter will for a time be doubted by many, as faith-healings are now doubted. By some it may be falsely accredited to evil agencies, as by many now the powers of Spiritism, although Satanic, are often falsely accredited to good agencies. There will be room to doubt on the part of all who prefer to doubt-- who prefer to lean to a perverse understanding, despite the abundant manifestations then provided, showing the goodness of God and expounding his gracious plan for human restitution.
It may readily be surmised that it will be those who have done the most good in life, those who have exercised and developed patience, benevolence, etc., that will first be thus tenderly thought of and longed for and prayed for. Not until nature and invention shall have made the necessities and comforts of life quite abundant, nor until the hearts of the world have become greatly enlarged with generosity and sympathy, will the viler characters of the world be remembered and prayed for. Those remembered as brutal and devilish, such as Calegnia, Nero, Diocletian, Torquemada, and thousands less notorious, may be expected amongst the last. They will "come forth to shame and lasting contempt." (`Dan. 12:2`.) By that time the world of mankind will be much nearer perfection than now, and, with their greater powers, will be able to read through and through the minds, the very thoughts, of these miserable, depraved, fellow-creatures. The evil tendency of their lives of selfish gratification will then be seen. They will shun the pure, the generous, the good, and will loathe themselves.
But, although in contempt with all, all will recognize that a share in the great redemptive sacrifice of Christ belongs to even these; because Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. Yet even while despising their miserable characters, all will be ready and anxious to help them to a knowledge of God and Christ, and to direct their faith and hope. And all will rejoice at every evidence of progress toward God and righteousness and
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restitution and eternal life. And whichever of these shall, by full consecration, yield himself entirely to the Lord, shall proportionately lose the contempt of the godly, and gain, instead, their love; and on those who then, after seeing righteousness and sin fully contrasted, choose the ways of sin, the wrath of God and the contempt of all who love righteousness will abide, and they "shall be punished with an everlasting destruction"--the second death.
Thus will be the "coming forth" of "all that are in their graves." And it is written that "They that hear [give attention to, or obey the voice of the Son of Man, at that time] shall live." Their awakening will not be reliving, in the full sense of the word live. Their condition, when they "come forth," will resemble the present condition of men--a dying condition. But theirs will properly be called a living state; because the merit of our Lord's great sacrifice will then be fully operative toward all, and because the general tendencies surrounding all will then be life-tendencies instead of, as now, death-tendencies. And all who under those favored circumstances do not oppose, but hear and obey, the Lord will find themselves coming more and more into man's original estate, "very good," the earthly image of their spiritual Creator, and finally be accounted worthy of perfect life.
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A TOWER reader writes that she recently met some of like precious faith, who, while recognizing Sanctification as she does, did not seem to have an ecstatic joy, accompanied by great emotion, but, on the contrary, seemed to hold the doctrine of full consecration by a process of mental reasoning. She was disappointed in finding them, as she thought, too cold and calculating. She found, too, that they did not hold to an instantaneous change of character;--from sin to perfection in holiness, at one bound. She desires our expression on the subject in the TOWER.
We are glad of the opportunity thus afforded us of giving a word of caution on both sides of this question. It is a mistake with some, to cultivate and appreciate only the intellectual side of God's grace, while others appreciate and cultivate chiefly the emotions aroused by God's grace and truth. And while we should realize that these extremes result often from a difference of temperaments, this should be no reason for neglecting to alter or modify our natural tendencies, to have them conform to the Lord's pleasure, as indicated to us in his Word.
Our Lord's prayer for his people clearly indicates what is the proper means for our sanctification. He prayed, "Sanctify them through thy truth;" and then, making us doubly sure of his meaning, he added, "thy Word is truth." Those, therefore, who attempt to be sanctified by feelings or by errors or in any other way than by the truth are seeking a good thing in a wrong way; and results will surely be unsatisfactory until the Lord's method is adopted.
But that is no less serious a mistake which some others make, who, while devouring God's Word, get from it merely relief from fears and a satisfaction for their curiosity. Curiosity is insatiable; and if they fail to get what God designed to give them through the truth (Sanctification), they will ere long be devouring one error after another to feed their curiosity, and will delude themselves into supposing that they are continually feeding upon truth;--although they are well aware that each new thing devoured is soon abandoned as error, while their curiosity continues the devouring process, but never is satisfied. These the Apostle describes as "ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth."--`2 Tim. 3:7`.
The proper course unites the head with the heart in the search for truth. The heart searches that it may know or prove what is that good and acceptable will of God, that it may please and serve him. The head, as the servant of the heart, searches to test or prove the truth, that the honest heart be not deceived into believing and serving amiss. But when the head undertakes to do all the truth-seeking and feeding, the real design of the truth--sanctification
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--is not attained. The result is merely a reasoning about the truth, and not a practicing of the truth;--the word of truth is handled and dissected, but the spirit of it is not received into good and honest hearts; because it is not a heart-hunger that is being fed, but a curiosity-hunger.
But where the heart hungers and thirsts after righteousness (after right views of God and of fellowmen and of the proper use of our time and influence and talents), and the head, as the heart's servant, engages in searching God's Word, the case is different; because then each morsel of truth received is at once applied in the life, and the sanctifying work begins and
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progresses. To this true heart to know the Lord's will means to at once strive to do what is seen; and not merely to see the duty or privilege.
Where truth is seen, and when the heart falls in love with it so that it delights to conform itself to it, even at the cost of convenience or friendships, or other selfish advantages,--there the sanctifying influence or spirit of the truth is at work;--there the results sought and intended by our Lord are being attained. Joy will accompany, and peace and trust and love. And zeal will never be lacking in a thoroughly sanctified heart, although all may not manifest it in the same way. With one it may be manifested boisterously and with great activity, as a mountain stream when suddenly swollen by a cloud burst; with another it may be that deep and unshown current of spiritual life which enables its possessor to go more calmly forward in a life of sacrifice and faithfulness to duty, against all opposition;--as an iceberg, moved by the under current of the ocean, moves steadily and irresistably with that current, against all the surface currents of the ocean.
To enter into the spirit of the Lord's plan, as revealed in his Word, is to be sanctified by it; and this is impossible without some knowledge of it. And whoever catches the spirit of the truth will have some emotions, whether or not they are manifest to others. Sanctification is the truth acted upon--put into the affairs of life; and, under present-age conditions, always leads to self-denials, self-sacrificings in the service of God, and Truth, and fellow-men.
BROTHER RUSSELL:--I would like to ask a question. Knowing that the world and its ways are of the enemy, at present under his control, and that the saints have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, how are we to escape serving as jurors. We might say that we cannot conscientiously serve, but the reply is, The court knows no law of conscience. We might say that we do not believe in going to law, and that we are not American citizens; but to all these statements the court has an evasive answer. The question is, Is it proper for the saints to serve as jurors, hold offices, swear or affirm?
I believe it is not; but how to escape to the best advantage for the cause of Christ and his Kingdom, is what myself and others wish to know. About twelve or fifteen years ago, I saw that the enemy is the ruler of this world, and, as I could not serve two masters, I gave up politics, and have not voted since. Again, the Word says, "Swear not at all." I have raised these questions before the court of this district and have been dismissed; and others, also, have begun to see that they were serving the enemy when they thought they were doing God's service. Yours, etc., G. W. HANEY.
REPLY:--Serving on a jury is in no sense taking part in political affairs. A jury has nothing to do with politics. As far as judging is concerned, the Apostle Paul remarked that, since we are to be judges in the weighty affairs of the next age, we ought to be able to judge in the small matters of the present.--`1 Cor. 6:2,3`.
The law governing juries is very simple. The judge instructs the jury on the points of law involved in the case, and each juror is required to reach a conclusion in his own mind with reference to the facts brought out by the evidence. In serving as a juror, he has nothing whatever to do with the law, whether it be good or bad, right or wrong: he merely decides what the verdict shall be, according to the law given by the judge. When called upon to serve as a juror, it becomes a duty to respond, and one should ask to be excused only in a case of necessity.
The above would apply even in murder cases, although in such instances most of us would prefer to be excused. But if it is necessary to serve, and if the verdict be murder in the first degree, it does not imply that the jury either
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gives the sentence or executes it. The law provides what shall constitute murder in the various degrees, and the jury merely finds to which of these degrees the facts and circumstances point. It remains, then, for the judge, as the representative of the law, to sentence the culprit, and for the sheriff to execute the laws commands.
In the matter of being sworn in as a juror: We see nothing in this to conflict with our Lord's words, "Swear not at all;" but for those who do, the law makes provision, permitting them solemnly, sincerely and truly to "affirm."
As concerns voting, the case is somewhat different, and we fully agree with you in the view expressed--that our covenant with the Lord, and our fidelity to him, practically make us aliens in our relations to all human governments, and that, therefore, we would best take no part in the election of officers or in the management of the affairs of this world.
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GRACE AND PEACE MULTIPLIED.
--`2 PET. 1:1-4`.--
MANY Christians refer with special delight to the day when first they realized the pardoning grace of God and the consequent peace that silenced all their fears and enabled them to realize the love of God to them personally. And well indeed may we sing with all such--
"O happy day that fixed my choice
On thee, my Savior, and my Lord."
But if we have to refer back to the day when we took our first steps as babes in Christ, as the happiest day in our life, there has been something wrong in our experience: we have not been developing as we should and experiencing that wealth of divine favor which is the privilege of every consecrated and faithful soul.
To all such the Apostle Peter sends greeting, saying, Grace and peace be multiplied unto you. If our hearts leaped for joy when we realized the first droppings of grace and peace, how should our songs abound now, with the increasing evidences of divine favor--with the multiplication of grace and peace now experienced.
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But is it really so with us? are grace and peace really multiplied to us? The Apostle indicates that such should be the experience of all who have obtained like precious faith with him (`verse 1`); and, further, that this increase of blessing should come through an increasing knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. --`Verse 2`.
Some Christians seem to look for the increase of divine favor and peace through other agencies than the knowledge of God; but such is not God's order. Our Lord prayed for his disciples, saying, "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth." The knowledge of the truth is the sanctifying power, the peace-and-joy-imparting power, and is the precious evidence of divine grace or favor. Those who expect to be sanctified without this divinely provided agency and who expect to enjoy abiding peace without it, make a great mistake. Their peace may last while the sun of prosperity shines, and so long as they do not permit themselves to think beyond the immediate present, or to consider future possibilities; or they may for a time, upon a very slight knowledge of the truth, build up beautiful castles of wood, hay and stubble, with here and there a precious stone of truth, and for a time be filled with even ecstatic joy over them; but soon such flimsy structures must fall, and the transient joy end in bitter disappointment--in a loss of both joy and peace and, measurably at least, of the realization of the divine favor.
But such disappointments are never realized by those whose peace has its fountain in the perennial springs of God's eternal truth; for, the Apostle says, he "hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." But this knowledge of God is not only an intellectual knowledge of his great and loving plan: it includes also a personal acquaintance with God, a heart to heart communion and fellowship with him--an established sympathy of love and common interest
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and co-operation. Such a knowledge or acquaintance with God is gained through the study of his precious word with reverence and diligence, through the personal application of the principles of that word in every day life and through secret prayer and communion with God.
If we would have this inspiring acquaintance with God we must not forget our privilege of secret prayer. Remember the Lord's words,-- "Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is invisible, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee." "The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me and have believed that I came out from God." And again, "If a man love me he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him."
Thus it is our privilege to know God; but only those who have had the blessed experience can appreciate how greatly the grace and peace of God can be multiplied to us through the knowledge of him thus acquired. As we draw near to him in prayer and communion and the study of his precious Word, we are made to understand the wealth of the divine love and favor toward us who are in Christ Jesus, and who, through entire consecration of ourselves to God, have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust [the worldly desires and ambitions]. We learn that to us are given exceeding great and precious promises, that by these we might be made partakers of the divine nature; that we are called to be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ; that, if we are faithful to our covenant of entire consecration to God, we shall be made like him and see him as he is; that we may behold the King in his beauty; and that through us in the ages to come God will manifest the exceeding riches of his grace. Oh, what heights of glory are we called to share with our beloved Lord; and what fathomless love is manifested toward us in Christ Jesus!
In humble thankfulness let us ponder these precious promises more and more as in secret we bow at the throne of the heavenly grace; and here let the holy spirit of God apply the instruction to our hearts, and so may we be filled with the spirit, and grace and peace be multiplied unto us.
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ARE THE LATTER DAYS AT HAND?
"FROM barbarous Russia comes the news of renewed persecution of the Hebrew people. In Germany the crank and half madman, Ahlwardt, finds bigoted thousands to listen to his barbaric screeds against the sons of Abraham, notwithstanding the fact that the giant intellect of the great Bismarck points out the radical, inherent and illogical viciousness of the antisemitic cry.
"From Austria comes the flat refusal to receive as one of the representatives of our enlightened nation one whose only real offence is that his ancestors fed their flocks among the Judean hills. In our own borders, in the country's metropolis, the portals of its most noted club are closed against a man who admittedly possesses in a high degree every requisite for its membership, but is objectionable to a few miserable beings unworthy of the name of Americans or Republicans, who assign as their only objection the fact that he is of the same race as He whom they pretend to worship as the Savior of all men.
"But even more significant than all are the statements made in a discussion now going on with regard to the proselyting of the Hebrews of New York City. A young member of the race, Warzarviak by name, intended for its priesthood, in the course of his preparatory studies to that end, became convinced of the truth of Christianity and embraced that faith. He was repudiated by his parents and friends, and even his wife and children forsook him. Nothing daunted, he came to New York City and commenced Christian missionary work among the members of his race. He attracted many of them to hear his preaching, with one result, that a few weeks ago several Jewish rabbis took up the matter and made a vigorous assault upon him and his work. They claimed
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that the Hebrews who were alleged to have been converted had been bribed by money and other valuable inducements to pretend to forsake their ancient faith and that their conversion was a myth. In support of this they produced several affidavits from Hebrews claiming to have played this despicable game.
"These statements led, of course, to a lively rejoinder by the parties principally concerned and to considerable discussion and criticism of the whole subject through the city press. On the one hand it was contended that Christians should convert the heathen before seeking to proselyte a race of sufficient intelligence and civilization to judge for themselves as to their religious faith, which is also so closely related to Christianity, and also that the work was really a waste of time and money, and no true converts resulted. On the other hand such men as the Rev. Dr. Lyman Abbott contend that the work is entirely proper and that it has been largely successful in New York City.
"The claim is made that since the work commenced fully 1,000 members of the race have honestly embraced Christianity, largely through the efforts of Mr. Warzarviak, whose wife, impressed with his honesty of purpose, has rejoined him with her children, although she has not yet finally embraced Christianity. In this incident, no doubt, many will claim to see the beginning of the fulfilment of the Scriptural prophecies interpreted to mean the conversion of the Jews in the latter days."
STUDIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
--INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS.--
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL. PUBLISHED IN ADVANCE, AT THE REQUEST OF FOREIGN READERS.
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REVERENCE AND FIDELITY.
II. QUAR., LESSON X., JUNE 4, `ECCL. 5:1-12`.
Golden Text--"Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord."--`Rom. 12:11`.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, presumably written in Solomon's later years, we have an important question raised, considered in various aspects, and answered from the standpoint of a wide and varied human experience. The question (`chap. 1:3`) is--
"What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?"
The question is an important one, especially for the young; but all would do well to carefully consider it in the light of Solomon's experience, and with the prayer of the Psalmist in their hearts--"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."--`Psa. 90:12`.
Hear the words of the Preacher. He says, "I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I gave my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit." --`1:12-14`.
Thus testifies one of the most successful men, from the world's standpoint, that ever lived. He had all the comforts and blessings that wealth and power and honor and fame and natural qualifications of mind and body and education, and even specially granted superhuman wisdom could bestow upon him. And all of these he used chiefly for his own personal, present gratification. He says, "I said in my heart, Go to, now, I will prove thee with mirth....I sought to give myself unto wine; I made me great works; I builded me houses, I planted me vineyards, I made me gardens and orchards; I got me servants and maidens and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions. I gathered me also silver and gold and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces. I got me men singers and women singers and musical instruments of all sorts: also my wisdom remained with me."
Thus he proceeds from `chap. 1:12` to `2:26` to show how he delved into every luxury to seek full satisfaction and to find in these things the chief end of his existence. But, after all, he pronounces the whole experience "sore travail."
In `chapters 3`, `4`, and `5` Solomon gives us the results of his wide experience and observation from a business and social standpoint.
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He sees men laboring hard to amass wealth, and wisely inquires (`3:9`), "What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth?" Then he adds--and how truthfully his experience agrees with all our own observation and experience--that "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them; and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?" (`5:10,11`.) So business prosperity he regards as an empty bubble, and the excessive labor to accomplish it as laboring for the wind.
In the adjustment of human affairs he further perceives that iniquity and injustice prevail everywhere, and to such an extent that there is really no redress and no comfort to those who lay it to heart, except in the thought that God is above all the judges of the earth, and that his judgments will some day be manifest and prevail. (`5:8`.)
`Chapter 6` shows how vain and unsatisfactory is every earthly good, when there is no hope beyond the present life. `Chapter 7` gives some advice which, from the standpoint of present selfish advantage, is good. It counsels such as seek merely present ease, etc., to be careful to maintain a good name (`verse 1`), not to be hasty tempered (`verse 9`), to be sympathetic with those in sorrow (`verse 2`), etc. But since righteousness is not rewarded in the present time with prosperity, but rather with adversity, the ease and pleasure seeker will find it to his present advantage not to be "righteous over much," neither to be "wise over much." Neither should he be either wicked or foolish. (`Verses 16,17`.) In other words he should keep his finger on the popular pulse, and regulate himself according to popular ideas. This is not the proper course for the children of God, but it is the wise course from the standpoint of worldly policy, which, alas! is too often adopted by his professed children. It is the policy of the "tare" element in the nominal Christian church; but it is not the policy of the truly consecrated children of God who prefer to suffer for righteousness' sake, rather than to win a good name among men by a compromising policy.
In `chapter 8:16,17` and `chapter 9`, Solomon declares that, in view of God's mighty works, he had sought to find out the deep mysteries of his plan for his creatures, but that he had sought in vain. A knowledge of his plan was not then due; and so (`chap. 9`) he considered that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God, but he could not tell certainly from the book of nature whether God loved or hated them; for he said, "All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked." So from this skeptical view he concluded to take all the pleasure he could out of the present--to make merry, and live as joyfully as he could, seeking, first
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of all, his own ease and pleasure, and, secondarily, the pleasure of others so far as it did not interfere with his own. Upon these very principles Solomon acted until, surfeited with self-gratification and sick at heart, he cries out at last, as does every one who drains the cup of worldly pleasure, "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity."
`Chapter 12` now turns away from the disgusting sweets of worldly pleasure, and counsels youth to pursue a different course from that the king had taken, saying, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth," etc., and adds that the conclusion of the whole experience of his life is that the proper course is to "Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man; for God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil."-- `Verses 1,13,14`.
Well would it have been with Solomon had he learned this lesson in his youth from the law and the prophets, instead of ignoring these and turning to poor human philosophy --his own reasonings--and then, by the experience of a wasted life, finally proving the vanity of every other course save that of God's appointment and direction, and losing the reward of divine favor which a course of entire faithfulness to God would surely have brought in due time. The course which Solomon chose and followed brought the temporal advantage which was very unsatisfactory; but it surely did not entitle him to a place among the ancient worthies, some of whom Paul enumerates in `Heb. 11`, who are to have an honorable position in the earthly phase of the kingdom of God. (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., Chapter xiv.) Then those who faithfully suffered for righteousness' sake will be exalted as princes in all the earth (`Psa. 45:16`), while such as Solomon will have a much lower station.
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The `Golden Text`--Be not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord --is the counsel of the Apostle Paul to such as have consecrated themselves to the Lord. These, devoted to the special work of the Lord, he would have remember not to be slothful or indifferent to the duties and responsibilities incumbent upon them and pertaining to the present life--such as providing for their families, etc. They should not be slothful in these things, but active, and at the same time fervent in spirit in serving the Lord.
The golden text is very suggestive of the different standpoints of the Apostle Paul and King Solomon. The latter, living before the Gospel age and its high calling began, counseled an easy course of moderation: saying, Why should one become overmuch interested in anything? Why not take life easy? But the Apostle saw a prize that inspired his zeal to the point of fervency; and he advises all who are running for the same prize to be fervent in spirit, in the service of God now open to them;--an opportunity not open to Solomon, and not then even revealed.--`Eph. 3:5`; `1 Pet. 1:12`.
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THE CREATOR REMEMBERED.
II. QUAR., LESSON XI., JUNE 11, `ECCL. 12:1-7,13,14`.
Golden Text--"Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth."--`Eccl. 12:1`.
`VERSES 1-5` present a vivid pen picture of old age--"the evil days" of physical decline and infirmity, "when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." The world offers its pleasures to the young, who snatch at the delusions; but age has proved them all empty bubbles. The world has nothing substantial to offer, and therefore, unless the mind has found its satisfaction in God, there is indeed no pleasure in old age.
`VERSE 2` refers to the dimness of vision, both mental and physical, and to the fact that clouds of trouble of one kind or another quickly succeed each other after every refreshing rain which brings hope of succeeding sunshine of prosperity.
`VERSE 3`. "The keepers of the house [the arms and hands] tremble; and the strong men [the lower limbs] bow themselves [unable to support the weight of the body], and the grinders [the teeth] cease [to perform their office], because they are few; and those [various mental faculties] that look out of the windows [the eyes] be darkened [or dimmed]."
`VERSE 4`. "And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low."--When the work of life is done there is little in common with the rising generation, and therefore less and less communication. "He shall rise up at the voice of the bird [--early, being unable to sleep well], and all the daughters of music shall be brought low [the failing powers cease to catch the strains of earthly enchantments]." But if he have the ear of faith, he catches the sweeter strains of heaven's melodies, of which Solomon in all his glory never knew.
`VERSE 5` represents the great burden, labor and sorrow of extreme old age with all its infirmities, until all earthly desires fail and he goes to his long home--the grave-- there to await the morning of the resurrection. "Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning."--`Psa. 30:5`.
`VERSES 6,7` represent death--the silver cord of life being loosed, the golden bowl (the body which contained the precious life-blood), broken; the pitcher (the lungs which drew in life from the fountain, the surrounding atmosphere), broken at the fountain; or the wheel (the heart), broken at the cistern. Then, when the body can no longer perform its offices, the dust of which it is composed returns "to the earth as it was [mere inanimate dust] and the spirit [ruach, breath, wind] shall return unto God who gave it," going back into his great reservoir of wind, breath--the surrounding atmosphere; and the being, the soul, is no more, save as it is engraven indelibly upon the tablet of God's memory to be reproduced again in the resurrection at the last day--now so near.
`VERSES 13,14`. This conclusion of the whole matter of a life's experience is that to which all men come sooner or later. "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity" is, after a wasted life, the poor world's dying refrain, when they see it would have been better to have feared God and kept his commandments. And that they may effectually prove this conclusion is God's object in letting them have the present experience under the dominion of Sin, which even Solomon in all his glory called "sore travail:" that they may be ready for the duty of submission to God, which will be enforced in the coming Millennial age of the world's probation. This object is distinctly stated by Solomon in `Chapter 1:13` and `3:10`.--"I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised [by experience] in it."
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"OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT."
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL (for by that endearing name I feel permitted to call you):--I received your esteemed reply to mine of recent date, also the TOWER containing article on "The Holy Spirit," for which I desire to thank you fervently. For me it is "Confirmation strong, as proofs of Holy Writ." God grant that the truth may spread yet more widely.
I desire to express, through you, my heartfelt thanks to the young colporteur from whom I bought the DAWNS some six months ago. I saw him only for a few moments, and have not seen him since. He was trying to sell DAWNS at the house at which I had to call to collect a bill. I saw a package of books on the stoop, and I picked one up. The title was enough to attract me. I told him I had been, and was still, deeply interested in the subject, being a believer in the dear Lord's immediate coming, and my daily prayer being, "Thy kingdom come." He told me that, if I read the DAWNS, I would get the light I sought on the subject. May the dear Lord bless the young man wherever he now is. He was the direct means of bringing much light and knowledge and consequent joy and peace to my life.
I am not rich in this world's goods, but I have bread and to spare; and I think the benefit I have derived from the perusal of your article on "The Holy Spirit" demands a thank-offering: so I enclose $1.00 for that purpose.
Yours, stronger in the faith, and still hungering for the truth as it is in Jesus,
G. H. SAGAR.
MY DEAR FRIENDS:--After much delay (which is not the result of carelessness) I acknowledge the receipt of the sample lot of Booklets, and also three copies of ZION'S WATCH TOWER which came in due succession, beginning with March 1st, and for which I tender my hearty thanks. You will remember that I expressed my intention to try the business of selling the Booklets; and on receipt of samples I spent an afternoon canvassing and secured orders for about two dozen. Meanwhile I loaned some of the Booklets, and they were circulated from house to house. Some of the people seemed so awe-stricken at the strange doctrine of a future probation, and others so unwilling to support any theory that questioned the doctrine of "eternal torment," that I decided to prepare myself, if possible, to give explanations and to meet their arguments. So I applied myself diligently to the study of The Plan of the Ages, which has been to me a source of great delight. Notwithstanding the doctrine is entirely new to me, and quite contrary, in many respects, to what I thought was my fixed opinion, it
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appears, from an increase of knowledge through the study of The Plan of the Ages, that the subject is worthy of serious consideration.
If the plan of salvation is broad and liberal enough to grant a full opportunity beyond the grave, to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved, to all who could not or did not have such knowledge and opportunity in this life, why should any one find fault? And if it is found that those--
"Tempests of angry fire, that roll
To blast the rebel worm
And beat upon the naked soul
In one eternal storm," are, after all, only imaginary, why should not all the living rejoice that so many billions of our race are delivered from a fate worse than death, and that God is truly a God of love? [Why indeed?]
I enclose twenty-five cents to pay for Vol. I., and I desire the succeeding volumes, as I am a humble seeker after the truth, and never expect to get too wise to be taught. I want not only your books, but your prayers --that I may understand them, and be enlightened and blessed by their teachings.
Yours in sincerity, D. M. STANSELL.
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST:--It is impossible to express my gratitude for the pleasure and happiness your explanation of God's Holy Book has given me. I believe every word of it. It fills a vacancy I have always felt, since first I tried to serve God, and it draws me nearer to him.
I recently loaned Vol. I to a retired Congregational minister. He returned it in a few days, saying that he believed every word of it. I asked him why the ministers do not acknowledge the errors they are preaching. He replied that they are tied up.
I read my Bible more than ever, and I love it more, because I understand it better. Please remember me in your prayers.
Gratefully, yours in the Lord,
A. M. BRUYN.
==================== ::page 162::
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FURTHER JEWISH EXPULSION.
ACCORDING to a cablegram to the New York Times of May 7, a fresh edict, by the Russian Emperor, will expel nearly a million Jews from Poland. We quote as follows:--
"Nothing that can occur in Europe, not even a war of great magnitude, possesses a deeper interest for Jews and Christians alike, than the prospect of a large exodus of Jews from Russia.
"As a consequence of the Passover edicts of 1891 more than 400,000 Jews were driven from Russia. More than 110,000 of the exiles landed in New York, and many thousands found their way to Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Chicago.
"The interest of the people of New York in that vast body of immigrants was greatly intensified by the presence among some of them of typhus and cholera; but on other grounds the immigrants aroused the most widespread concern.
"The labor unions of New York and other cities made energetic protests against the admission of the Russian Jews into the labor markets of the New World. There were objections to the wholesale entrance of the refugees on social grounds.
"The movement of the Jews in Russia, which is now under way, according to Mr. Frederic, is four times as great as that following the Passover edict of 1891, and it will affect every Jew in Poland. This is the first time that the Polish Jews have had their liberties abridged. There are in Poland about 1,500,000 Jews.
"The immigration laws of the United States have been recently made much more rigorous by Congress, owing to the last Russian exodus and to the public fear of typhus and cholera. The immigrants are to be catechised in order to get statistics as to their social, moral, physical, and financial condition. Immigrant-carrying vessels are to be limited, and in several directions the restrictions are drawn tighter around the passengers of the steerage.
"Through liberal contributions of Baron de Hirsch and other rich Jews in Paris, London, Berlin and Vienna there were established two funds for the exclusive relief of Russian and Roumanian Jews.
"One of these funds amounted to $10,000,000, and was put at the disposal of a committee of London Jews, with that city as the headquarters of the fund.
"The other fund was sent by Baron de Hirsch to New York, and is managed by seven trustees. The fund amounted, when established, to $2,500,000, and the money was invested in New York bonds and mortgages drawing interest.
"A Trustee of the Baron de Hirsch Fund said, "We were anticipating something of the kind before long. We have $30,000 a year available for direct relief to the refugees, and this sum can readily be increased to $50,000. There will be no lack of funds to take care of all the needy Jews who come. We do not encourage them to come, nor have we ever.
"The partial failure of the colonization schemes in South America has rendered it probable that other parts of America and the world will be considered by the managers of the London Baron de Hirsch Fund, in future schemes of this kind. Australia offers an inviting field, and it is probable that colonies will be started there. Mexico, likewise, seems to be a favorable country. We can ourselves take care of 50,000 Jews this Summer, and we do not think that the number who come will reach that figure.
"A good many of the Jewish refugees from Russia are fleeing into Palestine and settling there. The Jews have not nearly as much disinclination to agricultural pursuits as is popularly supposed."