VOL. XVII. JANUARY 15, 1896. No. 2.
Special Items..................................... 14
Views From the Tower.............................. 15
Boast in the Lord................................. 17
Poem: The Promise................................. 20
Bible Study: The Power of Jesus................... 21
Bible Study: The Sermon on the
Bible Study: The Great Helper..................... 22
Into His Marvelous Light (Letters)................ 23
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THE Chart of the Ages is made a frontispiece to the first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN, and is described by a chapter of said volume; but when, later, it was published separately, as a map mounted upon a spring roller (2 feet 6 in. x 5 feet), requests came in from every quarter for such amplified explanations as would enable friends of the truth to give comprehensive parlor talks from their wall charts. And it is to fill this requirement, and to enable many to tell the good tidings of great joy connectedly and systematically, that a little pamphlet has been published, giving three suggestive discourses upon the chart.
Many other discourses can profitably follow, and suggestions for some of them will be found in Chapters X., XI. and XII. of MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., and Chapter V. of VOL. II.
After interesting your friends or neighbors by the discourses on the chart, either loan or sell to them the volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN and get them to reading, and follow this up with assistance upon points which may seem to them obscure. Next we advise a weekly gathering of such, as a "Dawn Circle for Bible Study." A method for conducting these very profitable meetings is suggested in ZION'S WATCH TOWER, Sept. 15, '95, and Dec. 1, '95.
The price of the above described pamphlet is ten cents.
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
"OVER sixty churches in New York have already joined a federation which hopes to band together the churches for all sorts of practical ends--charitable, humanitarian, social and reformatory." (The Golden Rule.) Similar federations are in progress in various cities.
"In Mobile, Alabama, a Methodist and a Jewish congregation united in a Thanksgiving-day service in the Jewish synagogue. Both ministers addressed the assemblage, and all united in singing." Of course, Christ was not preached nor his name mentioned in the thanksgiving, for fear of offence to the Jews. Are such thanks acceptable to God who specifies the name of Jesus as the only one by which he can be approached? Could such a service help the Jews to recognize Christ, the crucified? Are unions or federations which ignore the principles and doctrines of God's Word at all desirable? We would rather stand alone with God upon his terms than unite with millions upon any
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other. Individual freedom and mutual cooperation upon the lines laid down in the Scriptures is God's way, and hence our way.
Chicago, anxious to please all classes, has arranged to have the Bible read in her public schools, and a committee made up of Protestants, Catholics and Hebrews is appointed whose duty it will be to select "non-sectarian passages" of Scripture for this use. That committee will have a difficult task. It is possible that the framers of that law intended to prove to the people the impossibility of suiting the ideas of all. Hebrews would probably object to the New Testament as a whole, and Catholics, Hebrews and Protestants would dispute about which version or translation of the Old Testament they should use.
Evidently, the religious instruction of children should be in the care of their parents and their chosen religious guides, and not mixed with secular studies which should be compulsory and under the supervision of the state. Attempts to unite the two must prove disadvantageous until God's absolute and infallible Kingdom shall have obtained control.
* * *
The Czar of Russia has through the Procurator-General of the Holy Synod brought to an end the persecution of Stundists and others in his Baltic provinces. The procurator excuses the change of his policy, thus: "The Orthodox [Greek] Church is showing gratifying growth in those parts," and "extraordinary measures need no longer be taken by the authorities to help forward the work." Thank God! it will not be long until the power to persecute will be taken from the Mohammedans and Greek Catholics, as it has already in civilized lands been taken from the Church of Rome.
* * *
The Emperor of Germany seems bent upon crushing Socialism regardless of consequences. Even moderate objections to his government are prosecuted as treasonable disrespect. In addition, the Chief of Police of Berlin gave notice of the summary closing of eleven Social-Democratic clubs of that city--six Reichstag clubs, the Socialist Press Committee, the Agitation Committee, the Local Socialist Committee, the Club of Party Delegates and the Central Committee of the Social-Democratic Party of Germany. The effect will be to unify and strengthen the Socialists, who are already a powerful third in the Reichstag.
The Emperor's heart and the hearts of his counsellors are evidently failing, for fear and for looking forward to those things which are coming upon the earth. He is putting the whole weight of the government upon the safety valve, to stop the noise of the people clamoring for liberty. We agree with him that the liberty desired would bring fallen
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men to license and anarchy; but we can read, as he probably can not, the sentence of present governments, as recorded in God's Word,--Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin,-- Babylon, thou art tried in the balances, and found wanting. Thank God! the fall means but a brief though awful chaos, and then the establishment of God's Kingdom in the hands of Christ.
"The tide of Socialism is rising in France. M. Bourgeois has carried his graduation succession duties by a majority of 404 to 125. They are probably the most extreme in the civilized world, and for a precedent you must go to Oriental countries. There the ruler takes what he likes, or what he can get. In France the new ruler begins by exempting all estates under two thousand dollars-- a premium on poverty to start with, and a bid for the votes of the peasantry and the workingmen. From exemption he passes by easy stages to confiscation, ending by taking one-fifth of the entire property devised to strangers."-- N.Y. Herald.
This seems to us a more equitable and a wiser taxation than the Income Tax. Society has a claim upon a share of the money accumulated under its protection, when the accumulator is done with it. This method would induce some of the wealthy to dispense their means more liberally while alive, to see to its use. Apparently few of the saints are wealthy; but such as have wealth should regard this as a part of their stewardship, one of their talents, for which they will be required to give an account. "Ye are not your own," applies to all that we have, money, influence, time, all. If the measure of our self-denial in the interest of the Lord and the truth is the measure of our love, we can neither afford to neglect the cultivation of this love nor to neglect opportunities for manifesting it to the Lord and to ourselves, however we may modestly seek to hide it from our fellow men.
* * *
We learn that Joseph Rabinowitz, the converted Jew, purposes shortly to remove from Kischenev to Palestine, expecting that the latter will prove to be a better center from which to carry on his missionary work among his kinsmen according to the flesh. This we believe will be a good move. We urged him to make it when we visited him in 1891, and again when he visited us in 1893. Although he will be leaving a city containing nearly as many Jews as are in all Palestine, we believe that those who have returned to the "land of promise" would prove the more receptive--if not now, very shortly, when "the time of Jacob's trouble" shall be upon them there. They need instruction, whether they hear or forbear, to prepare them by and by to acknowledge the earthly phase of the Kingdom when it shall be established among them.
* * *
It does not seem to be generally known that Jews (not converts to Christ or Islam) have not been allowed to settle in Palestine since August 1891, and only a few are permitted to enter as visitors with fifteen to thirty day permits. This edict of the Sultan of Turkey went into effect just before we reached there. No Jews have been permitted to settle there since. Items published in newspapers telling about thousands of Jews going to Palestine, etc., are either fabrications or else five-year-old items republished. We expect, however, that by the time European persecutions shall again become hot against the Jews the door to Palestine will somehow be unbarred.
* * *
The London Review of Reviews says:--
"In Austria, the form taken by social discontent is that of a violent agitation against the Jews. Dr. Lueger's reelection as Mayor of Vienna, with the consequent dissolution of the City Council, led to a debate in the Reichsrath, which was interesting as revealing the savagery with which the Jews are hated in Vienna. One of the speakers was not ashamed to assert that at Jewish festivals the food is sprinkled with a dark dust which is made from Christian blood! There is reason to believe that if the masses had their way in Central Europe, the Jews would lose their eye teeth, if indeed they were permitted to escape with their lives. It really seems as if it will be necessary before long to reconstitute the Kingdom of Jerusalem, if only to give the Jews a center from which diplomatic intervention would be possible on behalf of the scattered and peeled remnant of the children of Israel."
* * *
"The Bishop of Jerusalem declares that a great change of front toward Christianity is taking place among Jews all over the world. There is an avowal of disapproval of the crucifixion of Christ; there is admission of his claim to be a Prophet; to be the Messiah, at least of the Gentiles; to be the holiest of the sons of men. The assertion of the Yemenite Jew, 'Our fathers never returned from the captivity until now; we are not chargeable with the black deed of the rulers against Jesus;' is but the expression of a widespread desire to reverse the imprecation of eighteen centuries past; it seems like a prayer, 'May his blood be forgiven to us and to our children!'"
It is reported that a Russian Jew, recently converted to Christ, in a hospital in Smyrna, has begun preaching the newly found Messiah among the Russian Jews there with great success. A Jewish Christian Society has been started, and already is reported to have nearly two hundred adherents, who are being persecuted by kinsmen after the flesh.
It is the time to expect such movements. The time for the beginning of a return of divine favor was 1878, and beginning there it has been steadily progressing since.
* * *
Dr. Ahlwardt, the German Jew-hater, who came to this country to arouse hatred toward the Jews--but without success--in answer to the question, By what means do you propose to put an end to Jewish influence in Germany? said,--
"It can be done only by educating the masses, and getting the right sort of representatives into the Reichstag. For one thing, legislation should be enacted against ownership of land by Jews. Forty-seven per cent. of the agricultural land in Germany is owned by Jews, and they hold mortgages upon most of the remainder. Of course, we have not been able yet to pass any of the laws we advocate, as we have only seventeen representatives in the Reichstag.
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Anti-Semitism has spread fast recently, and the people are coming to see the corrupting influences of Judaism. Our support comes chiefly from the middle and poorer classes, who have suffered from the greed and unscrupulousness of the Jews. The lower clergy, both Catholic and Protestant, are nearly all with us."
No doubt there is considerable truth in this charge, and, taken together with the fact that Jews seldom so violate the laws as to get into prison, suggests the thought that their experiences under the Law of Moses have not been valueless to them. They are law-abiding so far as the letter of the law is concerned, but use all the ingenuity of their active minds in avoiding and circumventing the spirit of it. Outwardly they are very obedient to the law; but they
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do not recognize that love to God and the neighbor is the essence of the Law.
Nevertheless, under the new Millennial laws they will be found amongst the most pliable and consequently will be amongst the first to be blest by the new order of things; and by and by no doubt many of them will learn that the whole Law is comprehended in the one word, Love: and, learning this, many doubtless will obey it from the heart, and become "sheep" of the Millennial fold. (`John 10:16`.) God foreseeing this made them certain promises which cannot fail (`Rom. 11:25-32`), and their trouble, now brewing in Germany, will only serve to drive them out and to prepare them for the fulfilment of the divine covenants.
* * *
The Turkish question seems to be subsiding. It is settling itself. The German Emperor is averse to meddling with any ruler's control of his own subjects,--evidently fearing that at some time it might be a precedent for interference with his control of the Social-Democrats. Russia believes that she will get cheaper and more satisfactory possession by and by, when some other war is on foot involving other powers, and is not anxious now. France does what Russia does, and England, the only hope of the Armenians, is impelled by caution (in view of Venezuelan and South African difficulties) to let Turkey alone.
The matter is rapidly settling itself by the Armenians becoming Mohammedans, as the only escape from death. Thus quickly can threatening wars be averted, and the winds of strife held back, that the sealing of the servants of God may be first accomplished, as suggested in our last issue.
* * *
While the general tendency among prominent Protestants is toward skepticism and open infidelity of the Dr. Briggs type (We do not mean Atheism, the denial of a personal God, for few are so blind and foolish--`Psa. 14:1`-- but Infidelity in the sense of disbelief in the Bible and the record of the fall, redemption and restitution as therein set forth), still there is another movement progressing vigorously --a return to formalism and ceremonialism, as represented in Roman Catholicism. The more ignorant gravitate to the Romanists, and the more cultured and wealthy to the Episcopal church. St. Ignatius Church of New York City is one of the favorites with the latter, and is known as a high-church. Another, recently finished at a cost of half a million dollars, is known as The Church of St. Mary the Virgin. At both of these churches the Romish ceremonials are in vogue, and Masses are celebrated, as by Roman Catholics. (For the significance of the Mass see MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., page 324, and Vol. III., pages 98-104.) The next few years will witness alarming progress in both of these opposite directions, as well as toward mere Moralism. Thousands will thus fall, from the only standing (in Christ) which has divine favor and recognition, on every side of those who abide under the shadow of the Almighty, rooted and grounded in the promises of God's Word and firmly fixed upon the ransom, the rock of salvation.
But, thank God, their fall is not an everlasting fall, but only a part of the present sifting and shaking in which only his "elect," his "saints," shall be able to stand--the falling of the false that the true may be made manifest. (`1 Cor. 11:19`.) When the Millennial Sun of Righteousness shall have arisen and scattered the mists of error, many now stumbling blindly will, we trust, be recovered. Those, however, who have been granted the light of present truth, and who are cast out as unworthy of it, seem to be in a more serious condition--apparently in danger of the hopeless "second death."
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BOAST IN THE LORD.
"Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exerciseth loving kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?" "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."-- `Jer. 9:23,24`; `1 Cor. 1:20,31`.
THINGS highly esteemed among men are wisdom, power and riches. But it is not the wisdom that cometh down from above, nor the power of godliness, nor the true heavenly riches that moth cannot destroy nor rust corrupt that is sought after by the world. Men of the world have not learned the value of these, and therefore they "spend their strength for naught, and their labor for that which satisfieth not." "The reverence of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;" the faith that lays hold upon the might of the Lord is the beginning of power; and the poverty that freely surrenders all things to the will and service of God is the beginning of true riches. Worldly
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wisdom, which has not its foundation in the reverence of the Lord, tends to self-exaltation and pride; power in the hands of the ungodly tends to haughtiness and overbearing selfishness; and riches, among those who have not learned from God the responsibilities of stewardship, tend only to dwarf the soul, rendering it impervious to the noble sentiments of love and brotherly kindness.
The man who, by dint of labor and strife, succeeds in a measure in gaining one or all of these earthly prizes generally considers himself a wise man; for he does not realize how transient are the treasures, how unsatisfactory they will prove in the end, what snares are in them, nor how great is the value of the heavenly treasure which he has missed while grasping after fleeting earthly things.
To the worldly who have never known the treasures of divine grace these earthly things are of paramount importance; but to the child of God, if possessed, they only increase the responsibilities of his stewardship; for they are not his, but the Lord's, all being included in his consecration. Whatever he has of human learning--education --must be held in subservience to the wisdom of God. No human theories or philosophies that conflict with the Word of God may be entertained. A "Thus saith the Lord" must be the end of all controversy when human reasonings come in conflict with divine wisdom; for the wisdom of this world that arrays itself in opposition to the heavenly wisdom is "foolishness with God," and will by and by be brought to most ignominious humiliation. So also the human might that lifts its puny arm in defiance of Jehovah's power shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy, and the hoarded riches shall be scattered to the winds.
What folly is it then--especially for any one who has been enlightened by the truth, and made a child and heir of God--to forget the importance and value of the unseen heavenly treasure and turn to minding earthly things. For any to glory in such a course is to glory in their shame and folly. But let it not be so with us: "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." "Let him glory in this," saith the Lord, "that he understandeth and knoweth me." "And this is life eternal," said Jesus, "that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."--`John 17:3`.
This is the knowledge that does not puff up, the wisdom that cometh down from above. The beginning of this wisdom is indeed the reverence of the Lord. Nor can we grow in this wisdom except by continued growth in the reverence of the Lord. If to any degree we cease to reverence supremely the Lord's words, or if we cease to cultivate his acquaintance through our privilege of communion and fellowship with him in prayer, in the study of his Word, meditation upon his glorious character and teachings, and
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in obedience to his will, to the extent of our neglect we fail to realize the blessings of that wisdom that cometh down from above.
But if, in the use of these privileges, we open our hearts to receive all that divine grace has in store for us, then, indeed, we may glory in the Lord. Let such a one "glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me." To thus know the Lord is not merely to know of him, to know something of his works and ways, but it is to know him by that intimate fellowship and communion which, by a living faith, seals the testimonies of his Word upon our hearts and makes us to realize that they are ours personally, that the Lord himself is our personal friend and helper and counselor and guide. We thus become acquainted with his spirit, his principles and methods of action,--we understand him,--we know how to interpret his providences, to mark his leadings, to observe his attitude toward us and thus daily to walk with him. Thus also we are led to a fuller appreciation of the Lord's righteousness and of his loving kindness, which will in due time establish justice in all the earth. Well, indeed, may we glory in the Lord and in the fact of his great condescension to us personally, when thus we come to understand and know him.
In this blessed sense of the divine love and care, we may say in the words of the Psalmist, "My soul shall make her boast in the Lord. I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the Lord, ye his saints; for there is no want to them that fear him."--`Psa. 34:1-9`.
How precious is this experience of the child of God! but it can never be the experience of a proud heart; "for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace [his favor] to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (`1 Pet. 5:5,6`.) It is hard for those who are rich in the wisdom or power or wealth of this world to do this. (`Matt. 19:24-26`.) It was hard for the scribes and Pharisees who were rich in titles and honors and praise of men; it was hard for the whole Jewish nation who were proud of being the seed of Abraham to whom pertained the promises of God; it was hard for the Greeks who were proud of their worldly wisdom and intellectual attainments; it was hard for the Romans who were proud of their power and prestige among the nations. And it is hard to-day for all those who have pride in any thing. It is hard for all religionists whose pride in the sectarian religious systems of Christendom blinds their eyes to the truth now due; it is hard also for those who boast in human philosophies and science, falsely so called; who are proud of being inventors of something new and strange, and who desire to be thought great and to lead men after them; it is hard for all those who reverence the opinions of men more than the words of the Lord. All those who either are rich or desire to be rich in the things
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of this present life, and specially those who are "rich" in a good opinion of themselves, or in self will, find it hard to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. Indeed, the Apostle intimates that the greatest battle of each one coming to a knowledge of the truth is along this line; for it is after pointing to the severe humiliation of our Lord Jesus that he says, "Wherefore, my beloved, work out your own salvation [in like manner] with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you [by this severe discipline, this humbling process] both to will and to do of his good pleasure."--`Phil. 2:12,13`.
Those who have endeavored in all sincerity to do so have always found the grace of God sufficient for them; but very few are ever disposed to make the attempt. To all the worldly-wise the preaching of the cross is foolishness, and they have no disposition to take up their cross daily and follow Christ.
It is for this reason that "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" to share with the Lord in the glory of his Kingdom. They are generally so engrossed with the things of the present life --its pursuits, its cares, its pleasures, etc.--that they have no ear for the Lord's call. They are not humble enough even to hear the call; much less are they humble enough to obey it and to walk the narrow way of self-sacrifice in which the Lord leads.
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world [those who are not noted for worldly wisdom or influence or wealth] to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world [the humble poor], and things which are despised, hath God chosen; yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are." (`1 Cor. 1:26-29`.) How truly the wise are being confounded to-day by the power of the truth in the hands of the humblest of God's consecrated children! Systems of error which are the growth of centuries are put to confusion and are tottering before it, and the sages of all the sects are troubled by it; for it is becoming more and more apparent to all men that "the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid."--`Isa. 29:14`.
Why has God chosen these weak, inferior instruments for his great work? why does he not employ the eloquent tongues, the pens of ready writers, and the prestige of great names? Paul tells us why. It is in order "that no flesh should glory in his presence." The great work of vanquishing sin and establishing righteousness in the earth is the Lord's work: no human power is adequate to the emergencies of the case. Yet God is pleased to allow his power to operate through any human instrument that is meet for his use; i.e., that can be used without injury to itself. If God were to work his wonders through those whose hearts are inclined to pride, that pride would grow, and would arrogate to self the glory that belongs to God, instead of appreciating the honor of being a servant of God, an instrument in his mighty hand--"for the Master's use made meet."
The Lord's use of even the weakest instruments, of those having even a very small measure of talent for his service, sometimes proves an exaltation too great, and that which was a blessing becomes a curse through pride and vain-glory. Such is the perversity of human nature, and such the subtlety of the Adversary in gaining the advantage, that the very texts above cited sometimes become a stumbling-block to many who are not only poor financially, but who are deficient in intellect and education, and who even lack instruction in the divine Word. They forget that the Lord said, "Blessed are ye poor i.e., those who were poor (or became so) as his disciples]" (`Luke 6:20`); or, as `Matthew (5:3`) records it, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." And they forget that the ignorant as well as the learned, the poor as well as the rich, can become "puffed up in their fleshly mind." It is sad to see "a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing" (`Gal. 6:3`), thus deceiving himself,--but specially so, when even the rudiments of education and Christlikeness are lacking. We believe that modesty and simplicity are traits to be cultivated by rich and poor alike, who are blessed with a knowledge of the truth, and that any "confounding of the mighty" should be done kindly and in meekness (`Eph. 4:2`; `2 Tim. 2:25`), and not in a combative spirit or with a show of gratification over their defeat.
Above almost every thing else, therefore, beloved, let us guard well our humility. It is only when we are little in our own eyes that God can use us with safety to ourselves. And yet he does not shield us from every test of fidelity. If therefore the Lord gives you a little exaltation to-day, a little encouragement of success in his service, receive it humbly, meekly remembering your own unworthiness and insufficiency except as God is pleased to work through you; and be just as ready to receive the humiliations of tomorrow as necessary for your discipline and the proper balancing of your character. If the success of yesterday makes you fret under the humiliation of to-day, then beware: you are not as roundly developed spiritually as you should be. Whatever may be the triumphs of the truth through us, let us always remember that we are among "the things that are not." Let us endeavor therefore to make the Apostle Paul's experience our own, who said,-- "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere, and in all things, I am instructed, both to be full, and to be hungry, and to abound and to suffer need. I can do all [these] things through Christ which strengtheneth me."--`Phil. 4:11-13`.
In God's dealings with his people at all times we can see his care in guarding them against pride and self-sufficiency. If he would choose Israel to be his peculiar people, he permits them first to be enslaved for four hundred years,
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and then with a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm he gathers them to the promised land. Moses, too, the chosen deliverer, was of humble birth. He was slow of speech, and needed Aaron to supplement this weakness. And Paul had his "thorn in the flesh," from which the Lord was not pleased to deliver him, though thrice he besought the Lord to remove it; and the Lord said unto him, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness [i.e., my strength, operating through this imperfect earthen vessel, will be more manifest to men than if the vessel were a perfect and polished one. In that case men might ascribe the greatness of the work to the talent of
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Paul, and by and by conclude that since Paul is only a man it is only presumption for him to assume to teach other men, etc. But if the power is seen to be of God, and merely working through Paul as a ready instrument--meek, willing and energetic--then the testimony of the grace of God will be weighty with them: and so it was]."
To this explanation and assurance from the Lord Paul meekly replied, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."--`2 Cor. 12:8,9`.
The Lord with unerring wisdom has always chosen the meek for every great work. Moses was the meekest man in all the earth. (`Num. 12:3`.) Meekness was a marked characteristic of all the prophets and ancient worthies. The Lord Jesus was meek and lowly of heart (`Matt. 11:29`), who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor. He was of humble birth, born in a manger and reared in the despised town of Nazareth, that he might be called a Nazarene. The twelve apostles were all plain men, mostly fishermen; and so also the whole Gospel Church--not the church nominal, but the true ones written in heaven--have generally been the poor of this world, who were willing to be humbled yet more and more, that the power of Christ might be manifested through them.
Let every one therefore humble himself under the mighty hand of God. This is not the time for exaltation, but for humiliation and trial. The exaltation will come in due time to the faithful. Let our present glory be in that we understand and know the Lord, and in that he condescends to make use of these poor earthen vessels in his service, that it may be manifest to all men that the excellency of the power is of God, and not of men.--`2 Cor. 4:7`.
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"Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, and he shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you." `Acts 3:19-21`.
There are verses in my Bible
That bring solace and delight;
On my way-worn spirit shining
Like a day-star in the night;
For my faith now holds the promise
Of a grand and glad reward,--
Since refreshing times are coming
From the presence of the Lord.
While I tread life's rugged pathway,
Through the calm and stormy years;
As I hear the wails of anguish,
And behold the gushing tears;
I might fail to see God's goodness,
And surrender to despair,
If I could not read my Bible
And his promise written there.
When I hear the bondman cursing
Cruel hands that forged his chain;
When I scent the smoke of carnage,
And recount the mangled slain;
I might own the prince infernal
As creation's reigning lord,
If I could not read the promise
And believe its cheering word.
While the pliant mind of childhood
Is estranged by errors vile,
And the lips so pure and loving
Are instilled with curse and guile;
While the spotless form of virtue
Is befouled with hands of lust,
I can still look up to heaven
And believe that God is just.
Oh! the better day is dawning
When the Judge shall take his seat,
And this murderous tide of error
Shall ebb out in swift retreat.
Then the resurrected creature
Shall the Lord's salvation see,
Can repent of former follies
And "in Christ" henceforth be free.
Would you know what makes me trustful
When the clouds obscure the sun?
Would you know what makes me cheerful
When life's race is almost run?
There's a book mark in my Bible
That will point you to the line
That has filled my saddened spirit
With the rays of hope divine.
For my faith now holds the promise
Of a grand and glad reward:
Since refreshing times are coming
From the presence of the Lord.
See `Isa. 25:6-8`. G. M. BILLS.
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THE POWER OF JESUS.
--FEB. 2.--`Luke 5:17-26`.--
Golden Text--"The Son of Man hath power upon earth to forgive sins."--`Luke 5:24`.
THE statement of `verse 17` shows the rapidly growing influence of our Lord even at this early stage of his ministry. From the wilderness scene of temptation and victory he had gone into Galilee filled with the power of the holy spirit, and his fame had gone out through all that region. He had taught in their synagogues and been glorified of all. He had come down to Capernaum, and the people were astonished at his doctrine, for his word was with power. He had healed the sick and the lepers, and had cast out devils, and the multitudes thronged about him continually. And so great was the attention which his teaching and his works attracted that Pharisees and doctors of the law came out of every town of Galilee, and Judea, and Jerusalem to hear and to see.--`Luke 4:14-16,22`.
We next notice the great faith that so perseveringly brought the palsied patient to the attention of the Great Physician. Being unable to reach Jesus through the crowds that continually thronged about him, so great was their faith in his healing power that they removed a portion of the tiling from the roof, and, with his couch, let him down over the heads of the people. This persevering, trusting faith in Christ speedily received its reward--the forgiveness of sins and healing.
We notice that the forgiveness of sins was the first blessing--"And when Jesus saw their faith [the faith of the sick man and those interested in him], he said unto him, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." This evidently was an unlooked for answer. The previous miracles of healing doubtless led all to expect a similar manifestation of healing power; but as yet it was not manifest. There lay the sufferer before them all while the people pondered this claim of the man of Nazareth to have power on earth to forgive sins, probably while the Lord was proceeding with his discourse, not allowing this incident to interrupt it entirely.
But there were some whisperings among the scribes and Pharisees present, who said, This is blasphemy. Who can forgive sins but God alone? Though their murmuring words did not reach the ear of the Lord, he perceived their thoughts. Their cynical faces doubtless told the tale of their scorn and unbelief; and their influence upon the people who looked to them as leaders and teachers was also manifest. Has this man indeed power to forgive sins? has he authority from God to this effect? is he indeed the Messiah, the sent of God?--these were the questions revolving in the minds of the people. And it was to awaken these thoughts that the Lord had said it. His words implied the claim of Messiahship. Truly none could forgive sins but God alone, except as his anointed and authorized agent and representative, and in his appointed way. The divinely appointed way for the cancellation of sins was by means of the ransom as the legal settlement of the penalty, and faith in Christ the Redeemer.
The faith of this man and his friends in Christ and his claims had been put to the test and manifested, and though the ransom price had not yet been actually given, the Lamb for sacrifice had already been presented by our Lord at his baptism, and had been accepted of God and was on the altar of sacrifice. And therefore, in view of the complete consuming and acceptableness to God of that sacrifice, Jesus, perceiving their faith, could then say, "Thy sins are forgiven thee."
We observe that the healing did not follow as a result of the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness of sins was one thing, and the healing was another; and Jesus intimates that the same divine authority that was necessary to the forgiveness of sins was also necessary to the healing; and that if the forgiveness of sins was blasphemy, so also was the healing. From what they had seen, they must all admit his power, and consequently also his authority, to heal, and that the authority and power must be of God. And this power and authority they must therefore recognize as the divine testimony of his claims to be the Son of God and the Messiah of Israel. "Whether is easier," said he, "to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Rise up and walk;" for the same authority and power are necessary to both. "But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (he said to the palsied man), I say unto thee, Arise and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all astonished, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to-day."
Thus our Lord called attention to his miracles of healing as the divine testimonials of his claims to be the Son of God and the long-looked-for Messiah of Israel, to whom was intrusted the great work of taking away the sin of the world, and subsequently of healing men of all their infirmities, these all being part of the wages of sin. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world!" said John; and Jesus endorsed that saying by his subsequent claim to have power on earth to forgive sins. And the Father also endorsed his claim by granting him the power to do many wonderful works in the sight of all the people.
While the forgiveness of sins is an assurance that the healing, or removal of the penalty of sin, will surely follow, as the palsied man doubtless considered it and waited for the healing, it does not signify that the recovery from the penalty will immediately follow. The Gospel Church, for instance, receives the forgiveness of sins in this Gospel age; but not until the dawning of the Millennium will she be delivered from the bondage of corruption. But in due time the power that accomplishes the one will accomplish the other also; and by and by those miracles of grace which brought health and gladness to so many in Israel, and which attracted the attention and were the astonishment of that whole nation, will be totally eclipsed by the wonder-working power and authority of this same Jesus exalted to power and dominion over the whole earth as the mighty Prince of peace, who, having in the days of his flesh redeemed the world by the sacrifice of himself, comes again to heal all their infirmities and to restore them to the fulness of divine favor in which is eternal life and peace.
Blessed be God! it is as easy to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, as to say, Rise up and walk, and vice versa; for both the authority and the power are committed unto Jehovah's Anointed, in whom is all our hope and all our trust.
It will be observed that all the healings performed by our Lord were both instantaneous and complete, showing the fulness of his authority and power, and they included the worst forms of disease--leprosy, palsy, blindness from birth, and even awakenings from death. In all these respects
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they differed from the healings we hear of to-day, many of which are somewhat remarkable; and when the agents and agencies employed are not in opposition to the Lord and his truth, we are justified in accepting them as slight intimations to men that the times of restitution are at hand, and as a preparation for the great restoring work which may be expected as soon as the world's great tribulation is past.
Other manifestations of healing power through agencies in subtle opposition to the Lord and his Word of truth, such, for instance, as Christian Science, so called, we can only regard as the efforts of Satan to offset the power of God, which is now occasionally and partially manifested as a mere intimation of coming blessings to lead men gradually to expect their fulness.*
*See The Epistle of James, in our issue of May 15, '92.
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THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
--FEB. 9.--`Luke 6:41-49`.--
Golden Text--"Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"--`Luke 6:46`.
THIS portion of our Lord's sermon suggests several important thoughts:--(1) That it is wrong to encourage in one's self a fault-finding disposition, even though the faults of others, if not our own, must be manifest and often painful to us. True brotherly love remembers that we are all imperfect in various ways, that while our neighbors' faults are unpleasant to us, ours may be equally unpleasant to them; and as we desire to have our neighbors considerate of our lameness from the fall and to have patience with our weaknesses, so, in the same brotherly love, we should exercise a similar forbearance.
(2) The Lord's words imply that a persistent fault-finding disposition, which ignores the faults of self and magnifies those of others, is mere hypocrisy--a vain pretension to a zeal for righteousness which is not sincere. A sincere zeal for righteousness will always begin with self-discipline; and in proceeding to help others will endeavor to do so with skill and carefulness, and as gently as possible, remembering the slow and painful processes of one's own self-correction and self-culture.
If any man does not submit his own heart to the leading and teaching of the Lord, he has no authority from him to teach others to do so. And for such to presume to do so, as did the Pharisees and doctors of the law, is hypocrisy, as the Lord plainly indicated. (See also `Matt. 23:2-7,13`.) "Unto the wicked [those who know what is right and do it not, who refuse to practise what they preach], God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth, seeing thou hatest instruction and castest my words behind thee?" (`Psa. 50:16,17`.) Only those who, being fully consecrated to the Lord, have received the anointing of his holy spirit, are commissioned of God to preach the gospel and serve the household of faith. And only such as continually and faithfully submit themselves to the leading of the spirit of God, out of the old paths of sin and uncleanness, into the paths of holiness, are worthy or able to perform the skilful service of teaching and serving the Lord's household.
(3) The Lord points to the common acts and words of our daily life as the index of our hearts, saying, "A good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit; for every tree is known by his own fruit." So also, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."
Thus it appears that all of our words and actions in the little as well as in the great things of life testify in judgment, either for or against us, every day. With what carefulness, then, should we guard every act and word of life; and if overtaken in a fault, we should quickly repent and seek forgiveness, remembering that "If any man sin, we have an advocate," etc.--`1 John 2:1,2`.
(4) Our attention is called to the necessity of doing, as well as hearing, the words of the Lord. To do as the Lord indicated, signified, not an insincere outward show of righteousness (calling attention to one's own good deeds by contrasting them with the failures of others, and at the same time being blind to deeper and graver personal faults), but it signified radical and thorough reform, a digging down deep through all the rubbish of pride and conceit and laying well the foundations of a sincere and righteous character. Digging deep for a sure foundation upon which to rear such a superstructure, we find nothing solid until we come to Christ the rock. (`1 Cor. 10:4`; `Rom. 9:33`; `1 Pet. 2:7,8`.) In ourselves we find no ground of stability upon which to rear our building of character and faith. Nor is there stability in anything which other men can furnish. Human resolutions and human theories are all sandy foundations which cannot insure permanence in the storms of life. But those who are rooted and grounded in Christ and built up in him--in his doctrine, his love, and his character --shall never be moved. When the floods of temptation rise and in a steady stream beat against that house, it shall not be moved; for its strength is in Christ, the solid rock upon which it is founded.
Those not thus founded in Christ will surely fall: their faith will surely be swept away; and character must necessarily suffer from the decline of faith.
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THE GREAT HELPER.
--FEB. 16.--`Luke 7:2-16`.--
Golden Text--"And there came a fear on all; and they glorified God, saying, A great prophet is risen among us, and God hath visited his people."--`Luke 7:16`.
IN THIS narrative a believing Gentile is brought to our attention whose faith and humility are worthy of imitation. An officer among the Roman soldiers on duty in Palestine, he had come in contact with God's people and law and from these had learned something of the righteousness of God, of his wonderful leading and teaching of his people, and of the promises given to them. Evidently these things had awakened in him feelings of reverence for God and love for righteousness and truth. These sentiments towards the God of Israel found expression in special kindness toward his people; and, being a man of means, he had built a synagogue for some of them.
Evidently he was naturally a benevolent man, well disposed, and had a heart, which, had he been born an Israelite
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and entitled to the privileges of that elect nation, would have proved to be good soil in which the good seed of the Kingdom, planted by our Lord, would have brought forth good results and have constituted him one of the "brethren." This is attested not only by his faith, but also by the fact that his servant was "dear unto him," so loved that he went to much trouble to secure his healing. In his humility he felt unworthy of our Lord's favors, realizing, as did the Syrophenician woman, that the Gentiles were as "dogs" who could have only the crumbs from the children's table. Hence he got the elders of his city to request the Master to heal his servant; and they urged his request before our Lord, saying that he was a good man, "He loveth our nation and hath built us a synagogue."
The beauty of the centurion's faith and humility was specially manifest in his afterthought and message of apology to the Lord for having asked him to come to his house to see his servant; for he felt that in so doing he had only put him on a par with other physicians, and besides was taking him away from other and more important work: hence his message, I am unworthy that you should come under my roof; but being myself a man clothed with authority, and accustomed to doing things by my servant's hands, I know that you can do the same on a higher plane with your servants and agents: therefore simply speak the word of command, and it shall be done.
This simple, noble faith and humility were very pleasing to the Lord, who declared, "I have not found so great faith,--no not in Israel," where he had much more reason to expect it. His faith was rewarded by the healing of his servant, and our Lord, who had received his message through the Elders at Capernaum (`verse 3`), and who had already started toward the Centurion's house, discontinued his journey and instantly granted the healing of the servant.
Impressed by the faith and goodness of this Centurion, so unexpected among Roman soldiers, we were considering that it would be "just like the Lord" to send the gospel to such a noble Gentile soon after the Jewish favor would end, when the doors of divine love and mercy would be opened to Gentiles as well as Israelites. Then the Lord brought to our memory Cornelius, the first Gentile to whom the gospel message was sent. (`Acts 10:1-8`.) We remembered that he also was a Centurion, and of him also it is recorded that he was "a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always." It is not probable that among the Roman soldiers of Palestine there were two Centurions of such similarly exceptional character. The residence of the Centurion mentioned by Luke is not stated but that of Cornelius is mentioned: it was Caesarea. Turning to Map No. 10 in a Teacher's Bible we found with no little pleasure that the distance from Capernaum to Caesarea is only about 45 miles, and that Nain is on the way, a little to the East, about 20 miles from Capernaum. We note also the remark of Peter, when preaching Christ and his gospel to Cornelius (`Acts 10:37`), to the effect that Cornelius already knew the word which Jesus had preached throughout all Judea. In our judgment the circumstantial evidences are strong that the Centurion of our lesson was Cornelius. This would also explain why the holy spirit was poured out on Cornelius and his house even while Peter yet spake, and before it is even stated that Cornelius accepted Christ; for apparently he had already done so, as narrated by Luke.
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It was just like the Lord, too, to keep in mind this exceptional character among the Gentiles, and when the due time came for the gospel to be preached to the Gentiles, to send it to him first. "Them that honor me, I will honor," saith the Lord; and so it appears in this case that the Centurion was doubly honored, first in the granting of his request and in the friendship and commendation of the Lord; and subsequently in being the first Gentile to receive the holy spirit of adoption as a son and heir of God.
The power manifested by Jesus in reawakening the young man of Nain was another proof of his Messiahship which none of his enemies could gainsay or resist; and the people drew from this potent argument the only legitimate conclusion. There came a reverential fear on all; for they felt that this was indeed the great prophet sent of God, and that in him God had visited his people to bless them with his love and grace; and they glorified God.
If the people had only followed their convictions, based upon such indubitable testimony, how greatly they would have been blessed! But instead of doing this, they afterward stifled their convictions and weakly leaned upon the judgment of their blind guides; and by and by, with few exceptions, notwithstanding all the testimony of his wonderful teachings and mighty works, and notwithstanding all that the prophets wrote concerning him, which was plainly fulfilled in him, they stumbled into unbelief and crucified the Lord's Anointed. Let children of God to-day beware of a similar mistake, and when convinced of the truth, hold it fast in a good and honest heart and promptly acknowledge it, lest blindness come upon them; remembering the Lord's words,--"He that is ashamed of me and my words, of him will I be ashamed."
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"OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT."
DEAR SIR:--Recently, while waiting on a patient, on looking around for something to read, I came upon the second volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN. I became much interested in it; and upon inquiry, I learned that my patient had all three volumes, which she kindly loaned me. They had been in the house, she told me, several years, but they had evidently never been read. I have read them all, not as carefully as I should have liked, and found in them much food for thought. Your calculation as to the time of the end seems to be very plausible. I am not able to pick any flaw in it, unless I say that I have always had the idea that God never intended that any one should know in advance when the end would come. Of course, this idea of mine may be a very erroneous one, and certainly is worth absolutely nothing if there is any Scriptural proof against it. Your calculations, made in different ways and from different standpoints, do seem very conclusive, the one based upon the Jubilee striking me very forcibly.
I am sincerely anxious to know the truth and to live the truth. I am a Calvinist in faith, profoundly reverent in my attitude toward God, and earnestly desirous to know and to do his will, and his alone. If the views instilled into me from my infancy are in any respect erroneous, I would like to get rid of the error, but I do not wish to commit the mistake of giving up the real truth under the belief that it is not truth.
Your views are intensely fascinating, but some of them
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are so different from and opposed to what I have always believed to be Scriptural, that you can not wonder that I want more proof. Have you anything more that will throw further light on these grand themes?
Very respectfully yours, W. W. M__________.
REPLY:--We are always glad to meet and greet personally or by mail God's consecrated children. We perceive that you have the spirit of Christ, reverence and love for the truth. Your "idea" that God did not intend that anyone should know in advance when the end of the present age would come, and the Millennium be ushered in, is, we think, correct--borne out by facts. But if the Millennium began chronologically in 1874, and we are since then in the lapping time (forty years) in which the one age ends and the other as gradually begins, can it be said that any one knew of it in advance? Should we not expect that all who are Christ's "brethren" would be made to know of the changes of dispensation now in progress which are causing the world so much perplexity? Remember the Apostle's words on this subject: "The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night [stealthily, unobservedly], and when they [the world] shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child [with paroxysms of increasing severity]; and they shall not escape; but ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you [completely] as a thief. Ye are all the children of the light and of the day."--`1 Thes. 5:2-6`.
We have sent you samples of this Journal, as requested; and recommend a second or third careful reading of the three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have read with interest the article in the TOWER for Nov. 15, "Decently and in Order." Do I understand you to advise an organization as nearly as possible like that existing in the days of the Apostles? We have abundant evidence that their arrangement did not preserve the Churches in those days from error; in fact, they finally degenerated into Papacy; and it seems as though that would have been nearly impossible if there had been no "bishops," "deacons" and "elders."
Again: If elections are left to the vote of the people, will not the unfaithful soon gain the advantage and create another "system" from which we will be glad to "come out?"
If those gathered out of Babylon by present truth are all of the "wheat" class, they surely need no rules or order of any kind. If they are not all "wheat," but if some are "tares," will not the electing of elders make the companies part of Babylon, which is to be destroyed?
Yours, B. R. J__________.
[REPLY:--The article "Decently and in Order" will stand careful study, because the subject is much confused in many minds. We expressly state in that article that we do not propose an organization, because the true Church is already organized, and has been organized for over 1800 years. We proposed no preparation of a creed, because our creed was made for us (by the Lord), and we have no right to change it. We distinctly stated that in our judgment only those have a right to a voice in the Church who profess faith in the ransom and full consecration to the Lord, and whose lives are in conformity with that profession.
This simple order, if still in force, would operate as at the beginning. You will find that in any congregation the number of those who even claim such faith and consecration is very small. The difficulty which you apprehend in the following of the course of the inspired Apostles is a misapprehension. The falling away, which culminated in Papacy, was from the opposite reason; namely, because the consecrated did not preserve their liberties by choosing their own leaders according to their understanding of the Lord's mind, but on the contrary permitted the leaders to usurp their places, authority and power, independent of them. Our only safety lies in close adherence to the instruction of the Word of God.
We have never claimed that the acceptance of the present truth proved a person to be of the "wheat" class; on the contrary, we have pointed out, repeatedly, that after receiving the light of present truth the sifting and separating, the threshing and winnowing, progresses most earnestly;--that the truth is a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. The gathering of the wheat "into the garner," from which all "tares" are excluded, is the gathering into the heavenly state as we are "changed," and pass beyond the vail.
To suppose that observing the Apostolic order, and preserving liberty by electing "elders" to serve the Church, is joining "Babylon," is to suppose that the Apostles organized "Babylon;"--a great mistake. The Babylonian method is just the reverse: it, so far as it is able, fetters the conscience of the believer with elaborate human formulae of creed, and makes the ministers (servants) a special and higher order, above the congregation, self-appointed or appointed by each other, as the case may be.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--I received your letter this morning. I am reading DAWN for the third time, and the only part I cannot understand is why others cannot see the truth presented therein. Sometimes, when I am reading, my heart runs over with joy. I feel like a different man from what I was four months ago. I was almost ashamed to speak of Jesus and his love, but now I cannot help speaking of it all the day long. I have purchased sixty-five copies of DAWNS, and have a large card placed in my window as
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follows: "Every seeker after the truth should read MILLENNIAL DAWN, to be had within."
Our class, of sometimes eighteen, meets on Sunday and Tuesday evenings. We are now making arrangements for a hall to hold two hundred and fifty people, which we trust to open shortly. We shall also have arrangements for baptism. We have already commenced open air meetings.
I have been appointed by the class to be responsible for all tracts and DAWNS. We have received over two thousand tracts and could do with fifty thousand more. We also propose to visit a different town every Saturday afternoon, circulating tracts, each tract stamped with my address.
Yours in Christ, W. THIRKETTLE.