VOL. XVII. FEBRUARY 15, 1896. No. 4.
Special Items..................................... 26
Views from the Tower.............................. 27
The Sure Mercies of David......................... 28
Poem: The Peace of Christ......................... 30
By thy Words Acquitted; by thy
Words Condemned............................. 30
Bible Study: Faith Encouraged..................... 33
Bible Study: Jesus the Messiah.................... 34
Bible Study: True Love to One's
Encouraging Letters............................... 35
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THE CHART OF THE AGES.
OUR announcement of the pamphlet giving three primary discourses on the Chart of the Ages (leatherette covers, 10 cents each) brought many orders, and fresh inquiries about the Charts for use in home gatherings and small audience rooms. We therefore again describe them.
They are five feet long, of heavy, tinted cloth, with spring roller, having painted thereon, by a good artist, the outlines, etc., of the divine plan of the ages, the same as represented by the diagram in the front of MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I. Ordinarily it would cost about five dollars to prepare such charts; but by giving large orders in the dull seasons we can supply them at one dollar and fifty cents each,--and we prepay the expressage.
A careful study of the three discourses above mentioned will enable many of the friends of the truth to explain the chart and the divine plan there symbolized, to their friends and neighbors. Later on you will be able to present other features, finding the help you need in MILLENNIAL DAWN.
All the consecrated are "anointed to preach" the gospel; and all such may do it, according to their talents and opportunities, regardless of nationality, color or sex; for all such are "new creatures in Christ:" and in Christ there is neither male nor female, bond nor free. But let all things be done decently and in [Scriptural] order, which implies that, all other conditions being equal, the man should do the public speaking, as the Lord's representative and mouthpiece.
But let none but the consecrated attempt to teach spiritual truths; for they have no commission or ordination of the Lord so to do. Moreover, others would do injury to themselves; for their fleshly minds would soon be puffed up, and they would ere long fall into the snares of the Adversary, as boastful, heady men-pleasers.
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THE MUSICAL TOWER.
WE have heard from many of their pleasure in connection with our last issue of the TOWER--"Zion's Glad Songs of the Morning." We would like it if these beautiful songs should become popular among Christian people generally. The singing of the truth is a good way to get it into the heads and hearts of God's people. It is one way of preaching the gospel, which figuratively is called a "song:" "Thou hast put a new song into my mouth, even the loving kindness of our God."
We thank God for the musical and poetic talents granted to some of his saints. (We esteem the collection represented in the MUSICAL TOWER, and in our hymn book, "Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn," to be not only choice doctrinally, but also choice poetically.) We thank God for the privilege of serving the truth to his flock in poetry, as well as in prose. Let each one who receives be active in serving again, by song and printed page and word, to others who have not yet tasted the heavenly food provided now, as "meat in due season," by our present Lord. If the whole body were an eye or foot or hand, where would be the symmetry? Nay, those members which even seem to be feeble and less important are all necessary, and may all do something in the service.--`1 Cor. 13:17-24`.
Extra copies of the musical TOWER will be supplied at the rate of five cents each, or twenty-five to one address for one dollar.
DO NOT SEND MONEY UNLESS "REGISTERED."
COMPLAINTS of money lost in the mails continue. Send only by Draft, P.O. Money Order or Express Order. Then if letters be stolen the money can be recovered.
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
THE wonders of our day, "the time of the end," are so many and so astounding that even prudent, cautious thinkers hesitate to pronounce the most unreasonable things untrue. The present year has introduced to the world one of the most remarkable discoveries of modern times; one which, had it been advanced a century ago, would have been esteemed the ravings of a maniac, but which to-day is received at once by the scientific men of the whole world within two weeks of its first announcement. We refer to the discovery made by Prof. Roentgen, of Wurzburg University, Germany, that an electric ray can be passed through opaque substances, such as paper, wood, cloth, leather, aluminum, animal flesh, etc., although to varying degrees, and that the same ray does not penetrate bone, stone, and metals generally.
Experiments show the photograph of coins in a purse, of a razor in its case, of the bones and sinews of a man's hand, of the contents of a wooden box, etc. Although still an infant of a month, the professional men of Europe and America are busy with various experiments which may yet lead to great improvements and to wider usefulness. The chief value of the discovery, so far, would seem to be in aiding surgery, by locating bullets and other foreign substances, "gravel" in the kidneys, "gall stones," etc., saving life and sufferings; for not infrequently good surgeons err in diagnosing.
But a lesson goes with this discovery which will not be generally recognized at first, and yet one that sooner or later is sure to influence many. For centuries, skeptics and Infidels have been disposed to smile incredulously at the words of our Lord, "Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door pray to thy Father which is in secret, and the Father who seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (`Matt. 6:6`.) Can these scientists any longer mock at Christians for "credulity," because we believe that "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do?" (`Heb. 4:13`.) Surely human pride and positiveness may well be abashed by its own nineteenth century discoveries. "He that formed the ear shall he not hear? He that formed the eye shall he not see?" And we begin to see how that other prediction can be fulfilled, largely in a "natural" way--"There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known."
Step backward only one century and you can sympathize with the Infidelity which disputed and denied everything which it could not see and handle and comprehend; for their unbelief in unseen things and powers was in full accord with their experiences. But when God's set time for "knowledge to be increased," "the time of the end," had come, he began gradually to lift the curtain, and to show the world invisible things and to teach them faith in invisible powers, and ultimately through these lessons to see him "who is invisible," with the eyes of their understanding.
The Telephone, by which men hundreds of miles apart, may speak to each other through little boxes on their office walls, and recognize each other's voices, tells us, suggestively, that God can hear infinitely better, and without the wires and batteries necessary to our service.
The Phonograph, recording our words and tones, preserving them if needful for years, and repeating them with their original emphasis and intonation, reminds us, suggestively, that similarly our brains are much more delicately constructed, and can not only record words but also thoughts and feelings, and classify these, and lay them away for future use, subject to the call of memory. It gives us a hint, also, of how simple a matter it will be for God to resurrect
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the dead, by creating new bodies with brains having similar convolutions to the deceased, which, thus revived by the breath of life, would reproduce beings which would recognize and identify themselves by the memory of their past thoughts and experiences.
Machinery and cars moved by the invisible electric current of power are common everywhere to-day, though undreamed of fifty years ago. And through these we and all men have illustration of the invisible power divine, "which holds all nature up," and runs the vast machinery of the universe.
These lessons to the child of God enforce the salutary thought that God hears the "groaning of the prisoners" of sin and death, the prayers or the murmurs, the thanks or the sighs of his children; that "Thou God seest me;" that "the eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good;" and that divine power, although invisible, is omnipotent and everywhere present. The same lessons will be valuable to the world, by and by, when God's Kingdom shall shine forth and chase away the night-shades of sin and sorrow: but meantime the Prince of darkness will no doubt continue to deceive many, and will use even these wonderful signs of the Millennial dawn to support delusions and to oppose the truth. For instance, the natural man, not led by the spirit of God, will thereby be led, by the Adversary, toward Spiritism, Theosophy, etc.
* * *
The Superior Council of the "American Protective Association," commonly known as the "A.P.A.," met in annual session on Jan. 28 and 29 at Rochester, N.Y. This association, formed to offset the oppression of Papacy, especially against the Public School system, has been growing greatly but noiselessly for the past five years, and now claims to represent a voting strength of 3,500,000. These large figures will be a general surprise--not only to its enemies of Rome, but to its friends as well.
The American Protective Association demands as the consideration for its support of any party for President, that the platform of the national convention of that party shall reaffirm the principle of the total separation of Church and State, the restriction of immigration, and the reform of the laws regarding citizenship and right of franchise. Such party, too, shall reaffirm its faith in the American school system as the basis of liberty and prosperity.
One of the delegates to the Convention gave the following as the voting strength of this and other "allied orders"--
American Protective Association...........3,500,000
Nat. League for Protection of American
Junior Order United American Mechanics.... 500,000
Patriotic Sons of America................. 350,000
Order of Deputies......................... 125,000
Various other Patriotic orders............ 250,000
It was reported at the Council that one hundred and eight members of Congress, the Governors of four states, majorities in the Legislatures of several States, the school boards of two hundred and fourteen cities and towns, and a majority of city and town officials in every central and western state were members of or allied with the American Protective Association.
These facts, seemingly authentic, indicate that some have learned not to trust Papacy's recent professions of love for the Bible and education, but to stand guard over their own liberties. Although we may recognize the hand of Providence in this, and all such affairs, we are to remember, still, that the saints of God are enlisted in another branch of divine service. If it is the service of some to manage homes and orphanages, and hospitals, and reformatories, and temperance work, and liberty protections, we know that our commission is to preach the Gospel. We who are "ambassadors for God" are to wait upon our ministry (service) and not upon another, however much we may sympathize with or feel interested in every good work. We advise, therefore, that those who have been favored with the truth and the divine commission of ambassadors of it give it all their energies, aside from the providing of
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things needful, to this service. And we here remark, that if any understood our words in our issue of June 15, '95 to be a commendation of Beneficiary Societies and an advice to join them, they misunderstood our meaning. Said societies are not without their good features while matters run along smoothly, but when the time of trouble will shortly overspread the world, all of these societies which depend upon assessments will quickly crumble; and then those who are leaning upon them will be most wretchedly disappointed, and many of them will by their despair be helped toward anarchism.
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THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID.
"And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."--`Isa. 55:3`.
IF THE faith of any of God's children needs reinforcement from the Word of God, let him turn to the Lord's gracious invitation through the Prophet Isaiah to partake of the bounties therein offered. The call is not to every man, but to a certain class--"Ho every one that thirsteth!" (`Vs. 1`.) There is a blessing for the thirsty soul. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness [Observe, not only after truth with a curiosity interest, but after that righteousness which comes through a knowledge of the truth]; for they shall be filled." The invitation is not to those who are satisfied with sin, but to those who have learned the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and
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whose aspirations are toward God; who thirst after God and his truth and his righteousness. It is to the class which the Psalmist describes as saying, "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?"--`Psa. 42:1,2`.
Are you of this class? then hearken to the gracious invitation--"Ho, every one that thirsteth [The call is to you], come ye to the waters [the refreshing waters of divine truth]; and he that hath no money [None of us have aught to offer as an equivalent for this priceless treasure: it is God's free gift to all the thirsty]; come ye, buy and eat; yea come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
And not only is the invitation thus liberal, but the Lord also condescends to reason with those of this class who still have some hope of finding the satisfying bread and water of life where already they have long looked for them in vain. He graciously inquires, "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good [the "meat in due season" provided by the Lord for the household of faith], and let your soul delight itself in fatness. [The portion which the Lord supplies is a satisfying portion; and the soul that is fed at his table is not lean.] Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
Turning to `Psalm 89:19-37` we find the sure mercies of David enumerated. David is introduced here as a typical character representing Christ--primarily our Lord Jesus, but subsequently the Christ complete--Head and body. In the meekness of his youth, his loyalty to God, his faithfulness, zeal, courage and wise discretion, David's character was a very beautiful type of the beloved One, to whom God referred when he said, "I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people. I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him."
Our Lord Jesus is the mighty One upon whom the help of the world is laid. He is the great deliverer, but it has pleased God also to associate with him in this great work the Church of the Gospel age, the elect "little flock," whose names are written in heaven. These, all chosen out of the people, constitute that one body, which, with Christ Jesus their Head, shall bless all the families of the earth. These all possess the characteristics enumerated above, which are preeminently the characteristics of their Head. All, therefore, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, whose souls thirst after God as the hart for the water-brook, and who, having found him, have consecrated themselves to him and received the anointing of the holy spirit, witnessing with their spirits that they are the sons of God, and who as anointed sons can discover in themselves the worthy traits of true sons, enumerated above,--loyalty, faithfulness, zeal, energy, courage, discretion, etc.,--these constitute the class with whom the Lord has made an everlasting covenant and to whom belong "the sure mercies of David."
Hear them--"With whom my hand [my power, dominion, kingdom] shall be established: mine arm [of support and strength] also shall strengthen him [to perform the great preparatory work of sacrifice]. The enemy shall have no advantage over him, nor the son of iniquity have power to hurt him. [All things, even the deep and wicked designs of the adversary, shall be so overruled by God as to work together for good to this David class].
"And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him. But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him; and in my name shall his horn [his authority and power] be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. [His power will in due time control all the restless, ungovernable masses of the world, which like the raging sea will make great commotion in the time of trouble with which this age closes.]
"He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. [Even in the midst of their earthly course of trial and sacrifice they shall have communion and fellowship with God: they shall realize his fatherly love and care and rejoice in his salvation.]
"Also I will make him, my firstborn ["the Church of the firstborn"], higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him forevermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also [redeemed and restored mankind to whom Christ will be "the everlasting father"--`Isa. 9:6`; `Psa. 45:16`] will I make to endure forever [they shall have everlasting life], and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. [This has reference principally to the fleshly people of God, and partially to the world during the Millennium.]
"My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David [Christ]. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established forever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven."
Such are the "sure mercies of David" thus divinely assured to the Gospel Church, Head and body.
* * *
"When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see thee as thou art,
Love thee with unsinning heart,
Then, Lord, I shall fully know--
Not till then--how much I owe.
"When the praise of heaven I hear,
Grand as anthems on the ear,
Loud as many waters' noise,
Sweet as harps' melodious voice,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know--
Not till then--how much I owe."
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THE PEACE OF CHRIST.
"My peace I give unto you."--`John 14:27`.
Sweet gift of Christ! O blessed thought!
The peace of mind that God hath wrought!
No earthly passion's half so sweet,
No joy on earth is so complete,
As that the loving Father gives
To those in whom the spirit lives--
The peace of Christ.
O weary one upon life's sea,
That hast no Christ to comfort thee,
Remember when the billows roll,
Surge upon surge, about thy soul,
That there's a harbor safe and sure,
Wherein thy heart may rest secure--
The peace of Christ.
O loving heart that trembles yet,
Half fearful that it may forget;
Afraid that it may miss the way,
Doubting, wavering, all the day--
Remember that it is to thee
This gift of gifts is offered free--
The peace of Christ.
O Christian with the brow severe,
With eyes that seldom drop a tear,
With lips that smiling have forgot,
Remember that it is thy lot
To have within a joy divine;
Open thy heart and make it thine--
The peace of Christ.
The love of God! How its dimension
Reaches above our comprehension;
And who of us can understand
The workings of his mighty hand?
But rest, my soul, and quiet be,
Thou knowest this he giveth thee--
The peace of Christ.
So then, my soul, upon his breast
Thy troubles cast, and be at rest.
Though sorrow wrings the heart, and pain
Saps life and strength with steady drain,
O'er all these griefs and cares of thine
God pours the healing balm divine--
The peace of Christ.
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BY THY WORDS ACQUITTED; BY THY WORDS CONDEMNED.
"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle [unprofitable or pernicious] word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof on a day of judgment. For by thy words thou wilt be acquitted, and by thy words thou wilt be condemned."--`Matt. 12:34-37`.
REALIZING that we, the Church, are at the present time under the inspection of our kingly Bridegroom, who is now present (`Matt. 22:11`) to gather out of his Kingdom [in its present embryo or formative condition] all things that offend" (`Matt. 13:41`), and to gather unto himself his jewels, his bride (`Mal. 3:17`), we cannot too carefully consider the principles upon which this judgment and this selection are made.
The above words of our Lord indicate that the heart and the mouth are under very special scrutiny, the former representing the individual character, and the latter being an index of the character. It is in this same view of the matter that those words of wisdom were penned,--"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee." (`Prov. 4:23,24`.) The indication is clear that a right condition of heart is necessary to right words; for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," as experience testifies to every man. It is therefore just that our words should be a criterion of judgment in the Lord's estimation, as he tells us they are. True, honied words are sometimes only the masks of deep hypocrisy; but the mask is sure to drop off some time, as soon as selfish policy renders a change of tactics necessary. The fact therefore remains that the words, the entire course of conversation and conduct, are an index of the heart.
Our first concern, then, should be for the heart--that its affections and dispositions may be fully under the control of divine grace; that every principle of truth and righteousness may be enthroned there; that justice, mercy, benevolence, brotherly kindness, love, faith, meekness, temperance, supreme reverence for God and Christ, and a fervent love for all the beauties of holiness, may be firmly fixed as the governing principles of life. If these principles be fixed, established, in the heart, then out of the good treasure of the heart the mouth will speak forth words of truth, soberness, wisdom and grace.
Concerning our Lord Jesus, whose heart was perfect --in whom was no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth, it was said, "Grace is poured into thy lips;" and again, "All bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth." (`Psa. 45:2`; `Luke 4:22`.) Moses, personating Christ, foretold the blessed influences of the Lord's words, saying, "My doctrine shall drop as the rain; my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass." (`Deut. 32:2`.) And Jesus said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life."
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(`John 6:63`.) So wise, just and true were the Lord's words, that, though his enemies were continually seeking to find some fault, it is said, "They could not take hold of his words before the people; and they marveled at his answers and held their peace." (`Luke 20:26`.) And others said, "Never man spake like this man."--`John 7:46`.
Thus our Lord left a worthy example to his people, which the Apostle urges all to follow, saying, "Let your speech be always with grace [with manifest love and kindness], seasoned with salt [a purifying and preservative influence]." (`Col. 4:6`.) And Peter adds, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God,"--wisely, and in accordance with the spirit and Word of the Lord. Again, it is written, "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile [deceit]." "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from troubles." "The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious words: but the lips of a fool [an unwise, reckless talker] will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness, and the end of his talk is mischievous madness." "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few."-- `Psa. 34:13`; `Prov. 21:23`; `Eccl. 10:12,13`; `5:2`.
Job, in the midst of all his afflictions, was very careful not to sin with his lips. (`Job 2:10`; `31:30`; `1:21,22`.) He knew that his words would be taken by the Lord as an index of his heart, and he was careful to keep both the heart and the words right, saying, "What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil [calamities, troubles--for discipline or refining]?... The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." There was no spirit of rebellion in a heart out of whose abundance came such words of loving submission, patience and faith under severe testings, and that, too, without a clear apprehension of the divine wisdom in permitting them.
The Psalmist puts into the mouth of God's consecrated and tried people these words of firm resolution:--"I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue. I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked [who tempts and tries the righteous] is before me."--`Psa. 39:1`.
How necessary to the stability of Christian character is such a resolution, and the self control which develops under a firm adherence to it. In an unfriendly world we can expect to receive only the reproaches of our Master; for the servant is not above his Lord. The world, the flesh and the devil oppose our way: there are fightings within and fears without, and many are the arrows and fiery darts aimed at the righteous. But what is the safe attitude of the soul under afflictions and severe testings? Is it not in silence before God, waiting and watching first to see his leading, his will, in every matter before presuming to touch things that often involve so much? So the Psalmist suggests, saying, "I was dumb with silence: I held my peace, even from good [even from doing or saying what seemed good in my own sight]; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me, and in my self-communing there burnt a fire [description of a fiery trial]. Then spake I with my tongue"--not to the revilers, nor to others, but to the Lord.
Yes, it is always our blessed privilege to carry our sorrows and vexations to the Lord;
"For he knows
How to steal the bitter from life's woes." He does it, as the Psalmist suggests (`vs. 4-6`), by showing us, through experience, the vanity of all earthly things and their utter inability to satisfy the soul's cravings, or to comfort the wounded spirit. Then comes the thought that the present life, with its cares, vexations and sorrows is passing away, that our days are but as a handbreadth, and however vexing our experiences, they will soon be over; and if we permit them to do so they will only work out in us the peaceable fruits of righteousness, and develop in us strong and noble characters, disciplined to thorough self-control, thoughtful consideration, patient endurance of affliction and loving loyalty and faithfulness and trust in God. Then the assurances of the blessed rewards of righteousness in the life to come begin to have a new and deeper significance, and we are made to realize that this is not our continuing city, but we seek one to come. Thus the heart is separated from earthly things, and made to realize the superior worth of heavenly things. Nothing but the Lord himself can satisfy the longings of the soul, which, tempest-tossed and tried, comes to realize--
"How vain is all beneath the skies,
How transient every earthly bliss,
How slender all the fondest ties,
That bind me to a world like this!" Thus chastened and comforted, we learn to look beyond the present to the glory that shall by and by be revealed in the faithful overcomers, who, by patient continuance in well-doing in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, seek for the prize revealed to faith alone. Thus disciplined and blessed under fiery trials by going to the Lord for comfort and help, the child of God begins to realize what it means to be dead to the world and alive toward God, with a keen appreciation of his love and goodness and grace; and being thus separated from the world, and more firmly united to Christ, the language of the heart is, as the Psalmist further suggests, "And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee." (`Vs. 7`.) Thus
"E'en sorrow, touched by heaven, grows bright
With more than rapture's ray,
As darkness shows us worlds of light
We never saw by day."
Such is the blessed result of bridling the tongue under circumstances of trial and vexation, and humbly taking all our cares to the Lord in prayer, to the end that, when we speak, our speech may be with grace, seasoned with salt,
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and that under all circumstances we may speak as the
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oracles of God.
Considering our Lord's words above quoted--that we must give an account for "every idle [unprofitable or pernicious] word"--in view of the fact that the present is our (the Church's) judgment day, we see what great importance attaches to our words. All our words are taken by the Lord as an index of our hearts. If our words are rebellious, or disloyal, or frivolous, or flippant, or unkind, unthankful, unholy or impure, the heart is judged accordingly, on the principle that, "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Thus our words, in all the varied circumstances of our daily life, are bearing testimony continually before God of the condition of our hearts. So our Lord's words imply: and in this view of the case how timely is the admonition,--"Be not rash with thy mouth; and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God [And remember that "all things are naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do."--`Heb. 4:13`]; for God [our Judge] is in heaven [upon the throne], and thou upon earth [under trial before the bar of God]: therefore let thy words be few." Let them be thoughtful and wise, as uttered before God, and not rash, hasty and illy considered.
Again, in harmony with the Lord's statement of the responsibility incurred by our words, it is also written, "He that keepeth his mouth, keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction." (`Prov. 13:3`.) What a fearful responsibility attaches to the tongue that wags in an evil, or even in a flippant, way, which is also dishonoring to God! And how necessary is the injunction of the Apostle Peter, "Be sober and watch unto prayer!"--`1 Pet. 4:7`; `1:13`; `5:8`.
The Psalmist puts this prayer into the lips of all who feel this responsibility, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth: keep a guard at the door of my lips. Permit not my heart to incline after any evil thing." "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer." "My lips shall utter praise when thou hast taught me thy statutes. My tongue shall speak of thy word; for all thy commandments are righteousness. Let thy hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts. I have longed for thy salvation [from all sin, and for the perfection and beauty of holiness], O Lord; and thy law is my delight."--`Psa. 141:3,4`; `19:14`; `119:171-174`.
That, as imperfect beings, we may always be perfect in word and deed is not possible. Despite our best endeavors we will sometimes err in word as well as in deed, yet the perfect mastery of our words and ways is the thing to be sought by vigilant and faithful effort. But, nevertheless, for every idle word we must give an account in this our day of judgment. If, in the daily scrutiny of our ways, which is the duty of every Christian, we discover that in any particular our words have been dishonoring to the Lord, we should remember that, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (`1 John 2:1`); and in the name of our Advocate we may approach the throne of grace, explain to our Heavenly Father our realization of the error, our deep regret at our failure to honor his name and his cause by a holy walk and conversation, and humbly request that the sin be not laid to our charge, but that it may be blotted out through his gracious provision for our cleansing through Christ, humbly claiming that in his precious blood is all our hope and trust.
Thus we should render up our account for every idle word; and by our words of repentance, supplemented by the merits of Christ applied by faith, shall we be acquitted. Otherwise the idle words, dishonoring to the Lord, will stand against us and condemn us, and we will be obliged to suffer the consequences. The first consequence will be self-injury, for every evil thought or word indulged hardens the character and inclines it the more toward unrighteousness. The second consequence is a bad example to others, and the stirring up of evil in them. "A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger." (`Prov. 15:1`.) Thus, as the result of unwise or unkind words, we may stir up about us difficulties which will become the agents of retributive justice to teach us the lesson of self-control, and consideration for the feelings and opinions of others. It is often the case that the Lord (or the devil) is blamed for sending trials which are simply the natural results of our own mistakes. And those who fail to locate the root of the trouble (in themselves) pray in vain for the Lord to remove miraculously what they themselves could obviate by obedience to the Word, and vigorous self-discipline. "If we would judge [and correct] ourselves, we should not be judged; but when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord [largely by the experiences through which our own faults put us], that we should not be condemned with the world." (`1 Cor. 11:31,32`.) But even should it be admitted that the difficulties are not directly caused by God, or the devil ("Every man is tempted [tried] when he is drawn away of his own lusts [desires] and enticed"), the natural tendency is to blame the matter on some one else, and to think that our loss of patience, our hasty word or act was the fault of another. How many deceive and encourage themselves with the thought: "If every body else had as reasonable and generous a nature as I have our family or church gathering or community would be a veritable heaven upon earth!" Beloved, let us examine ourselves, let us be very humble, lest the very words of self-congratulation and self-satisfaction which we consider in our hearts (if we do not utter them aloud) bring our condemnation. "If ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye [what merit is there in it]?" (`Luke 6:33-38`.) It is only when we "endure grief, suffering wrongfully," that our suffering is acceptable to God as a sacrifice of sweet
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incense. "What glory is it if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God; for even hereunto were ye called." (`1 Pet. 2:19-21`.) Beloved, let us see to it that our sufferings are for righteousness' sake only, and let us not charge God or our neighbors for tribulations resulting from the indulgence of our inherited or cultivated faults.
"In many things we are all faulty. If any one does not err in word, he is a perfect man, able to control the whole body." (`Jas. 3:2`.) But such a man does not exist. We all need and must continually plead the merit of our Redeemer and Advocate, while we strive daily to bring every thought into captivity to the will of Christ, and to perfect holiness in the fear (reverence) of the Lord.
In view of this fact, which we trust all of the Lord's people will endeavor more and more fully to realize, viz., that we now stand before the bar of judgment, we inquire, in the words of Peter, "What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?" God-likeness certainly cannot include any harmful gossip, any unclean or unholy conversation, any disloyal or rebellious words. Let such things be put far away from all who name the name of Christ in sincerity and truth. And let us remember daily to settle our accounts with the Lord, to make sure that no record of idle words, unrepented of, and consequently unforgiven, stands against us. "Let your conversation be as becometh the gospel of Christ." "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Thus out of the good treasure of the heart we shall be able to speak the words of truth and soberness, to honor our Lord by a godly walk and conversation, to subdue the evil tendencies of our fallen nature, and to have our conversation "honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may, by your good works which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." --`Phil. 1:27`; `4:8`; `1 Pet. 2:12`.
If daily we render up our accounts to God and seek his grace for greater overcoming power with each succeeding day, we shall be acquitted in judgment and stand approved before God through Christ, having the testimony of his holy spirit with our spirits that we are pleasing and acceptable to him.
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--FEB. 23.--`Luke 8:43-55`.--
Golden Text--"Thy faith hath made thee whole: go in peace."--`Luke 8:48`.
NO ESSENTIAL element of Christian character is given greater prominence in the Scriptures than faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please God." In this requirement we see the condescending grace of our heavenly Father, who, though so far above us, yet, like a tender parent, desires the reciprocal love and implicit confidence of his intelligent creatures. Since Christ is the appointed agent of God in his dealings with men, whom God bids all men to honor, even as they honor the Father, and since he is the appointed way of access to God, faith in Christ is necessarily a part of our faith in God. Those who believe in Christ, believe the testimony which God gave of his Son through the prophets and through Christ's
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own teachings and the mighty works which God wrought by him, to the end that men might believe, having a sure and abundant ground for confidence; so that faith might not be mere credulity, but a reasonable thing.
To believe in Jesus in those days, when his mighty works astonished the people, and the beauty of his holiness impressed every beholder, was most reasonable to those of simple hearts, who desired only to know the truth of God and to obey it, and who therefore had no crossgrained will or prejudice of their own to oppose it. Nor are the evidences, the foundation of faith in Christ, any less reliable to-day than they were then. On the contrary, they are still more abundant and strong,--a firm foundation that can never be moved. In simple faith, reliance upon the testimony of Christ, the sick woman came to Jesus, so fully assured of his power that she did not wait even to call his attention to herself when the multitudes thronged about him; "for she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole;" and she was instantly healed. And Jesus, perceiving her faith, said unto her, "Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."
This miracle was immediately followed by another, still more wonderful--the raising of the dead to life. Faith had brought an anxious father to Jesus to request the healing of his daughter. But while he was making the request, a messenger came to him saying, "Thy daughter is dead, trouble not the Master." The messenger evidently knew nothing of Jesus' power to raise the dead, and the anxious father would probably have abandoned all hope except for the Lord's reassurance of his faith, "Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole."
In the former instance the faith was exercised by the patient; but in this case it was exercised by another on behalf of the patient, who, being dead, had no ability to exercise faith. Yet the faith in the power of Jesus of those who had requested the healing was a very weak faith, and when they saw the child was dead all hope departed. They had considerable faith in Christ, but they did not believe that his power extended to the raising of the dead, and were quite incredulous at the suggestion of the Lord's words,--"Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth,"-- knowing that she was dead. As in the case of Lazarus, our Lord here referred to death as a sleep, in view of the fact of the resurrection. The term is similarly applicable to the whole human family in the death that came upon all through Adam; because there shall be an awakening, a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. The second death, from which there shall be no resurrection,
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is never likened to a sleep, anywhere in the Bible.
It is worthy of note, that while our Lord took with him the parents and three of his disciples into the chamber of death, that they might witness the awakening, when they manifested their lack of faith he put them all out, and then recalled the dead to life, and permitted them afterward to come in and minister to her. Thus, while he rewarded their faith, weak though it was, he reproved them also, and gave them overwhelming evidence of his mighty power.
The statement of `verse 55`, when relieved of the mists of a false theology, is very clear. "And her spirit came again," simply signifies, "And her breath returned," and is so rendered in the Emphatic Diaglott, the Greek word "pneuma," translated "spirit" in the common version, signifying breath, wind, or the spirit or breath of life. With the reinstituting of the breathing process and the healing of the physical organism came reanimation, restored intelligence, and the dead lived again. Thus the Lord rewarded even the weak faith, and gave them additional and overwhelming evidence to strengthen and establish their faith. The Lord did not expect or desire the people to have faith without good substantial evidence upon which to base it; but he did desire and reward the faith that was exercised to the extent of the evidence. A faith without substantial evidence upon which to base it, is mere credulity, and generally degenerates into gross superstition unworthy of the intelligence which God has given us.
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JESUS THE MESSIAH.
--MARCH 1.--`Luke 9:18-27`.--
Golden Text--"This is my beloved Son: hear him."--`Luke 9:35`.
FOR treatment of the major part of this lesson see our issue of January 15, 1895--"The Good Confession."
The Lord's command to his disciples to refrain from bold assertions that he was the Christ, which, coming from them, his intimate friends and disciples, would have had about the same effect as if coming from himself, was a wise one. He preferred to give the people the evidences, rather than the assertions, of his Messiahship, and to let the logic of his mighty works lead them to the only reasonable conclusions.
Our Lord's words following this command to tell no man, show the reasonings on which it was based--"The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day." Consequently if any followed him from any other motives than those of deep conviction and a heart desire to be in harmony with God, the trial coming would sweep them all away as chaff before the wind. But those who would follow him from a heart and head conviction of the truth, drawn from the clear testimony of the Scriptures and of his mighty works, would thus, by their settled convictions, be enabled to stand the tests of faith and endurance which must shortly follow. Even with this care, the faith of most of those who believed proved very superficial. They were swayed in judgment by the opposition of their leaders, and only a few stood firm in the midst of the trials following.
The Lord plainly taught his disciples that following him meant daily self-denial and cross-bearing. He showed them how he must suffer reproaches and persecutions, and that from a source whence it might least be expected--from the leaders and religious teachers of his day, who were moved with envy and consequent hatred of one whose power and wisdom so far outstripped their own as to detract from their honor and esteem among the people. He showed them how he must suffer, even unto death, and that if they would follow him and continue to be his disciples, they must do as he did,--they must be willing to bear reproaches, and to suffer persecution even unto death. If they were not willing to do this, they were not worthy to be his disciples. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
The statement of `verse 24` is applicable to those who, having entered into covenant relations with the Lord to lay down their lives in his service, subsequently ignore their covenant while they seek to save that which they had consecrated to God even unto death. Faithfulness to our covenant of sacrifice insures eternal life as spiritual beings; while the repudiation of it would surely forfeit that life. And since by our covenant we have given up all claim upon the humanity and its hopes and aims, which we engaged to sacrifice, the result must be as the Lord states it:--"Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." The reasoning of `verse 25` is unanswerable, and should have its full weight with every consecrated soul. The assurances of `verse 26` also claim most careful consideration.
The reference of `verse 27` was to the vision of the Kingdom of God given typically on the mount of the transfiguration. On this subject see our issue of Jan. 15, '95.
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TRUE LOVE TO ONE'S NEIGHBOR.
--MARCH 8.--`Luke 10:25-37`.--
Golden Text--"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself."--`Luke 10:27`.
THE insincerity and evil disposition toward Jesus on the part of the Jewish teachers (doctors of the law, scribes and Pharisees) was very manifest in the questions they publicly propounded to him, for the evident purpose of entrapping him in his words and thus hindering his influence among the people. It was for this purpose that they mingled with the multitudes who witnessed his miracles and attended his preaching. But Jesus was more than a match for their cunning craftiness; and we admire the adroitness with which he ever thwarted their purposes.
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The question on this occasion was, "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" The questioner probably thought he would say, You must believe that I am the Son of God, the promised Messiah. Then they would have said, "He repudiates the law. The law says that the man that doeth the things contained therein shall live by them." This, to the people, would have seemed a strong argument against Jesus, before they had become sufficiently acquainted with him and his teachings. While such a claim on the part of Jesus would have been the truth, the people were not yet prepared to understand and receive it. They
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needed continued and repeated evidences, not assertions, to convince them; and the Lord modestly and wisely gave them what they needed, and with great tact and skill avoided the interference with his purpose on the part of his enemies.
Jesus' answer referred the questioner to the law, saying, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" They gave the answer from the law--Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, etc., and thy neighbor as thyself,--and Jesus said they had answered correctly, and that if they would do that, they should have eternal life.
But the answer was not satisfactory to any one, not even to the questioner, who was doubtless anxious to make a show of his zeal for the law; but the thoughts now revolving in every mind must have been the disconsolate remembrance of the fact that, though thousands had endeavored to merit life through the keeping of the law, not one had ever yet succeeded in retaining life beyond the usual allotment. And so they understood the Lord's words to imply that if they could keep the law perfectly, then they should receive the life; but that "if" was insurmountable: they could not keep it, and there seemed to be no hope of life unless this great teacher might have something else to suggest.
Even the questioner betrayed some anxiety in the matter, as though he felt that his own conduct toward God and his fellow-men might not stand the scrutiny of the law, even as judged by those about him. Possibly some were present, who, by their incredulous faces, indicated that they did not think this man always acted as if he loved his neighbor as himself, and God supremely. So, to justify himself in the estimation of such, this doctor of the law endeavored to give the impression that the word "neighbor" had some restricted meaning which permitted the exercise of a good deal of selfishness.
The illustration which followed forced from the questioner himself the admission of the truth that every man is neighbor to every other man; that our common humanity is the neighborly bond, and that only those who recognize the bond of human brotherhood, and act accordingly, are worthy of the name "neighbor." To ignore the claims of human brotherhood is meanly selfish and inhuman. Yet that was just what the proud, boastful, hypocritical teachers of that day were doing (`Matt. 23:14,23`): they were scrupulously tithing their mint and anise and cummin, and omitting the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith.
The truth thus wisely put, and by logical argument forced home to the hearts of all, exposed the hypocrisy of the caviling questioner, and drew from himself the admission of the truth. "Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise." Thus the evil designs of the unbeliever were frustrated and the truth was triumphant.
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I arrived home a few days ago, and I think you will be interested to hear my general experience in the colporteur work, and what my future intentions are. I am willing to go wherever the Lord wishes, for he knows where the most good can be accomplished; and I am taking it to him in prayer, that he will guide and direct me.
In reviewing the last few months, I must acknowledge that the Lord has wonderfully watched over and blessed me in this great harvest work, and I thank him that he has counted me worthy to labor in his vineyard. I must confess that I am very weak and can do nothing of myself; but if I put my trust fully in the Lord, and do the work through him to glorify his name, I have the assurance that he will not forsake me. Whatever talent he has given me, if it be only one, I want to use it to win others; for I know the Lord's words are true, that if a person does not work with the one talent he has, he will certainly not have others given to him, and the only one he has will also finally be taken away.
In less than four months I have put out about 700 DAWNS, and I hope that through them some may come to the knowledge of the truth. I think myself that, as you remarked in your letter, a great many true Christians are still in the nominal churches, and it seems to me that (by such at least) the truth will be more appreciated in the future, because I have found a great many whose hunger cannot be satisfied there, and who are looking for the truth.
Enclosed you will find Twenty Dollars, not to add to my account, but to use for the spread of the truth wherever you think it will accomplish the most good. As I have said before, I did not engage in the work to make money, and this is about what I made over and above my expenses.
Wishing that the Lord may spare you, and use you to bring these glad tidings (which shall in due time be to all people) to a great many more, I remain, in Christ our Redeemer, your brother, F. KNAUSS.
DEAR BROTHER:--I heartily approve of the sentiments expressed in TOWER of Nov. 15. The Church question is one of great importance, and the term "church" needs to be clearly defined. Satan endeavors to take Christians the full swing of the pendulum; i.e., from the chains of sects to the license of "comeoutism."
One of the worst weapons which the sects have used against us is that we were "comeouters." A sort of stigma attaches to that name, because of the actions of the real "comeouters;" and when it is applied to us it does great damage to the cause of the truth. My influence was hurt in this locality by the report becoming current that I was a "comeouter," and I was under the necessity of publicly disavowing any connection with them.
I am fully convinced that sectarianism is sin, so much so that I would stand alone forever, before I would knowingly join any sect. But I am just as fully convinced that "comeoutism," as it finds expression in many, is the
other swing of the pendulum, and that the church is not an incongruous mass of irresponsible nondescripts. The New Testament Church is a New Testament reality, and occupies the golden mean betwixt the two extremes.
But I can give a hearty "amen" to all you say in the Nov. 15 issue. It will do a great deal of good, and will help to remove the distrust with which we are viewed. God bless you and guide you! I know, as you say, that the time is short; but not too short in which to be right. God expects us to be right, to make plain paths for our feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed.
I thank God that Millennial truths are finding some lodgment in this neighborhood. I thank God daily that he has given wife and myself this "hearing ear." Like the Psalmist, we have set the Lord always before us; and when we go to God, it is always by the way of the cross.
We pray much for you, that he will keep you unchangeably loyal to the truth. The position you occupy demands it for the glory of his name.
Pray for us. R. F. CROOKS.
DEAR SIR:--I regret my last contribution to ZION'S WATCH TOWER having been so long ago, and also that during the interval my reading of your periodical publications has been interrupted much more than I would have wished. My interest in your writings continues unabated --recognizing, as I do, your acquaintance with the whole Bible, and rare power in explaining in simple language its spirit and meaning. May your labors, and those of all other faithful workers in his vineyard, be abundantly blessed by God.
Will you pardon me if I hint (from the best motives but with great diffidence) my fear that some of your correspondents, whose letters I see in the TOWER, may be in danger of deceiving themselves by assuming, on insufficient grounds, that their salvation is sure. Good works (for example those of colporteurs and others, in commending and circulating the Word of God) are of course meritorious; but this of itself cannot warrant the firm confidence with which not a few of the correspondents appear to me content to rely on efforts of their own.
Can it be possible that your theology--with all its grand views of what Christ has done and suffered to redeem sinners--still has in it something relaxing, upon which poor, erring human nature may be deluding itself? I hope you quite understand that my remarks are made in all charity. I have no wish to be, nor to appear as, an accuser in any sense.
Yours very truly, __________
[IN REPLY:--We fully agree, dear Brother, that none have cause for boasting except in and through Christ. But we do believe that those who are true branches in the "true Vine" should know of this union with Christ, and should be able to "glory in the Lord," with a "full assurance of faith," "nothing doubting;" realizing that "he who hath begun a good work [in them] is able to complete it." So far as we know the brethren whose letters we publish, they rejoice in the grace of God in Christ through the redemption and the remission of sins.
"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent Word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said?
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled." EDITOR.]
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--The Lord has specially blessed my efforts of late in selling DAWNS during morning, noon and evening hours. Sold 11 volumes last Friday, 16 Saturday, 10 yesterday. This morning I took an order for a set, and this noon I went to a sash and door factory and got orders for 32 volumes; and several more may buy when I deliver, next week.
I see more clearly now than ever before the race we are running for the glorious high calling in Christ, and that each and every day shall tell whether we are among the overcomers or not. I realize more than ever before the great privilege which God in his infinite mercy has conferred upon us, a few, a small band, to give us his unadulterated gospel, and how glad we ought to be to run and do the Master's will, when we know what it is, and that it is so glorious towards all men, and that the days are evil. As the Apostle says, "We must buy it," or "Let us purchase the acceptable time, as the days are evil." (Norwegian trans.) I clearly see, that we, who have once voluntarily offered ourselves a living, holy sacrifice to do God's will only, henceforth and forever, are passed through the Adamic death, and if we wilfully sin, and count the blood of Jesus Christ, with which we were sanctified, a common thing, "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins," and we certainly would be unfit to live on any plane. But, blessed be God! he judgeth our hearts, and if we will walk humbly by faith, God's Word shall truly light us home. God shall be our strength and our refuge; and if we abide under the shadow of his mighty wing, nothing shall tear us away. But it behooves us to be watchful, and faithful unto death, as only the faithful will receive the crown. Since we have been made free indeed, we feel the power of the devil and his unseen host trying every way to retard our progress; but, blessed be God! "We overcome in all things through Christ who strengtheneth us."
Yours in the race, M. P. THORI.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I enclose a few clippings. As the N.Y. World admits a great many interesting articles on religious subjects, why not take advantage of its world-wide reputation and liberality to spread the truth? There were several articles lately on the missionary question that put the orthodox people in a "box." It has always seemed strange to me that more of the DAWN people do not write in the public press, where I see all shades of opinions represented, but rarely see any reference to the DAWNS or the truths taught in them.
Wishing you all the Lord's continued blessing,
Yours in the faith, W. A. WHITCOMB.
[We commend this suggestion to all who have the talent to express the truth wisely, kindly, fluently and pointedly. We are glad to say that several Brethren are active in such directions. They usually send us the papers containing their articles, which often contain some reference to MILLENNIAL DAWN, or a quotation from it, and close with a promise to send reading matter free, and the writer's address. The securing of the addresses of the interested is very important, for you cannot hope to thoroughly convince any one by a short article or two. We are glad to cooperate by furnishing and mailing tracts, etc., to all the addresses you can send us. Let the light shine out in every way that you can.--EDITOR.]