VOL. XXXI NOVEMBER 1 No. 21
A.D. 1910--A.M. 6038
Blessing God and Cursing Men......................339
No Evil to Which the Lord's People
Are More Exposed............................340
How the Depraved Taste Hedges Behind
Love Commands that We "Speak Evil
of No Man...................................342
"Doth a Fountain Send Forth at the Same
Opening Bitter Water and Sweet?"............343
"The Tongue Set on Fire of Gehenna"...........345
Concordances and Other Bible Study Helps..........346
"The Presence of the Son of Man"..................347
"This Generation Shall Not Pass"..............347
Satan's House to Be Broken Up.................348
The Dark Gethsemane Hour..........................348
Judas the Ungrateful Apostate.................349
Nearing the Goal (Poem)...........................350
Watch Tower Bibles................................350
The Liberty Wherewith Christ Makes Free...........351
Berean Questions in Scripture Studies.............351
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BLESSING GOD AND CURSING MEN
"But the tongue can no man tame: it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father, and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be."--`James 3:8-10`.
THESE words of the inspired Apostle are addressed to the "brethren"--not to the world. Indeed, the entire Epistle is addressed to the Church. The fact that in opening it James addresses "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad," is not to the contrary of this. We are to remember that to the twelve tribes of Israel, the natural Seed of Abraham, pertained originally the great Covenant or promise of God made to Abraham. By natural heredity, then, God's offer or proposition to bless the world belonged to fleshly Israel, as the Divine instruments, if they would comply with the Divine conditions. But one of the Divine conditions was that they should have the faith of Abraham, and should not be considered the promised Seed of Abraham without that faith, since Abraham was to be the Father of the Faithful.
Our Lord and the Apostles, in the New Testament, set forth clearly how and why natural Israel, as a nation, was broken off from inheritance under that Covenant. The Apostle, representing the promise as an olive root, describes all Israelites as branches growing up out of that root, and tells us that many of the natural branches were broken off, the vast majority, and that only a remnant at the first advent were found possessed of the faith of Abraham, and accepted by our Lord as members of the house of sons.--`John 1:12`.
The Apostle further explains that the rejection of the unbelieving of natural Israel left the way open to engraft in the place of the broken-off branches some from amongst the Gentiles, possessed of the faith of Abraham. And this, we see, has been the work of this Gospel Age-- grafting into the original root of promise believers from amongst the Gentiles, who were once without God and had no hope in the world, strangers from the commonwealth of Israel, but are now brought nigh, united with Christ, and through him united with the Abrahamic root of promise, and inheritors of all its richness and fatness.--`Eph. 2:12,13`; `Rom. 11`.
Thus we see that these Spiritual Israelites become the Israelites indeed, from the Divine standpoint, the actual inheritors of the Abrahamic Covenant or promise; although we see also, yet to be fulfilled, certain gracious earthly promises to the natural Seed of Abraham; nevertheless they have missed, have lost, as a nation, as a people, the great prize; as the Apostle declares, "Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded."-- `Rom. 11:7`.
So, then, the "twelve tribes" of Israel had promises made to them which apply not merely to themselves, but also and specially to Spiritual Israel, whom they typified; while the original election, or predestination, of God, respecting the Abrahamic Seed, that it should be 144,000 or 12,000 from each tribe, still stands; and consequently that each one accepted from among the Gentiles, and engrafted into this root of Abrahamic promise, is counted as taking the place of one of the broken-off branches of the various tribes.
By the time the Gospel Age shall have finished its work, a Spiritual Israel will have been found--"a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people"--showing forth the praises of him who called them out of darkness into his marvelous light--neither one more nor one less than the original, elect, predetermined number--a natural Israelite having been "broken off" for each one from the Gentiles "grafted in." The Church is thus referred to in `Revelation 7:3-8`. And the sealing of the Church is spoken of as being so many from each of the tribes, with the intimation that all of these will have been "sealed in their foreheads" before the great time of trouble shall come upon the world.
So, then, the Epistle of James is to be understood as addressed to these true Israelites, engrafted into the root of promise, and taking the place of the natural Israelites. And to this agree the words of the Apostle Paul, "They are not all Israel which are of Israel." (`Rom. 9:6,7`.) And again, "He is not a Jew which is a Jew outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart." (`Rom. 2:28,29`.) And again, the words of our Lord in addressing his Church: "I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan."--`Rev. 2:9`; `3:9`.
Our Lord recognized this same distinction between natural and true Israelites. When receiving Nathaniel he declared, "Behold, an Israelite indeed." These two Israels, of the flesh and of the spirit, were typified in Isaac and Ishmael, and again, as the Apostle declares,
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in Jacob and Esau. (`Rom. 9:8-13,22-33`.) In each case the inheritor of the promise was the younger brother, illustrating that Spiritual Israel would be developed after natural Israel, and take its place as heir of the chief blessings mentioned in the Abrahamic Covenant. However, we are to remember that a blessing was granted also in each case to the elder brother, in the types; and so it is in the antitypes. While God has appointed Christ to be the heir of all things, and has called the Church as his Bride, to be his joint-heir in all things, he has, nevertheless, provided that blessing shall flow from these to the earthly seed, and in turn through the latter to all the families of the earth.--`Rom. 11:26-33`.
Having thus definitely determined that the Apostle is addressing the Church, let us consider the astounding statement of our text, and seek to ascertain in what sense it should be understood; resolving that, should we find that in any sense or degree it applies to us individually, we will assuredly respond quickly to the spirit's teaching, and correct so evil a condition.
CHRISTIANS WHO CURSE MEN WITH THEIR TONGUES
We may readily see how the Apostle means that God's people bless or praise his name with their tongues. They do so in prayer; they do so in their hymns of praise; they do so in declaring his Truth, and in witnessing to his providences on their behalf. In a word, we bless God with our tongues by showing forth his praises, who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
But in what sense does the Apostle mean that Spiritual Israelites curse men with their tongues, and that so commonly, so generally prevalent as to require public reproof? Surely no Christian curses his fellow-man by oaths and profane swearing! But are there not other ways in which our tongues may be a curse and an injury to fellow-men? We are to remember that the meaning of our English word "curse" has somewhat altered in common usage within the last century, having very generally lost the sense of injury and assumed wholly the sense of swearing, profanity. In the Greek language different words are used when referring to a cursing oath, viz., anathema, and anathematiso, used ten times in the New Testament; and when referring to a spoken condemnation as a blight or curse, viz., katara and kataraomai, which signify condemnation, to speak against, to speak evil of, to injure. The latter is the word used by the Apostle James; hence his language really is-- With the same tongue wherewith we praise and honor God, we do injury to fellow-men, by evil-speaking, slandering, etc.
Thus our Lord, using the same word, said, "Bless them that curse [speak evil of] you." The Apostle Paul, using the same word, admonishes God's people to "Bless and curse not"--speak favorably of others, but do not speak injuriously of them. Again, we are told that our Lord cursed (the same Greek word) the fig tree, saying, "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforth"--he injured it, he made a declaration unfavorable to its future development. Thus also the Apostle declares that the Jews under the Law were under a curse--not that the Law was evil, but that, because of imperfections of the flesh, the Israelites came under the condemnation (curse) of the Law. He declares also that "Christ hath redeemed us [formerly Jews] from the curse [condemnation] of the Law, being made a curse for us"--having suffered for us the full condemnation of blight which the Law imposed upon the transgressor. (`Gal. 3:10-13`.) He illustrated the same thought in connection with the word "curse," when he declares that garden land which had been overgrown with thorns and briars is "nigh unto cursing"--not ready for profanity, but for condemnation, as unfit for tillage, until burned over and its weeds exterminated.--`Matt. 5:44`; `Rom. 12:14`; `Mark 11:21`; `Heb. 6:8`.
Having thus before our minds the real word, and its signification as used by the Apostle, we see that while curse is a proper enough translation of the original, the whole difficulty is that present-day common usage and common education have largely hidden from sight this signification of the word. Similarly the word evil has lost its original breadth of meaning, and is almost invariably considered to signify immorality, badness, wickedness; whereas in its breadth of meaning it may be used to refer to anything that is undesirable, not good, such as calamities, etc.
NO EVIL TO WHICH THE LORD'S PEOPLE ARE MORE
Looking at the Apostle's statement from this standpoint, we see clearly that his charge is applicable to Christian people of today to an alarming extent. How many there are who do injury with their tongues to their fellow-creatures, who use the same tongue in offering praise to God. We know of no evil to which God's consecrated people are more exposed than to this one. With many it is as natural to gossip as to breathe. They do it unconsciously. We have even known people who took cognizance of the Scriptural injunction against slander and evil-speaking, who were so utterly confused on the subject, and so unaware of their own conduct, that they would declare their horror of speaking a slander in the very same breath in which they utter slanders. We mention this in proof that this evil is so ingrained in fallen human nature as to elude the notice of the new nature sometimes for years--and thus escapes the correction in righteousness which the Lord's Word directs, and which all who are truly the Lord's people desire.
Many are the peculiar subterfuges which the fallen nature will use, in its attempt to stifle the voice of conscience and yet maintain the use of this channel of evil --long after it has been driven from evil practices which are less common, less popular, more generally recognized as sinful.
(1) It will say, I mean no harm to anybody; but I must have something to talk about, and nothing would be so interesting to friends and neighbors as something which has more or less of a gossipy flavor (scandal) connected with it. But is evil-speaking, slander, any the more proper on this account for the children of the light? By no means. Hence it is that the Scriptures instruct us, "Let your conversation be such as becometh saints"; "Let your speech be with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man"; "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good, to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."--`Phil. 1:27`; `Col. 4:6`; `Eph. 4:29`.
But the scandal-monger, however refined his methods and words, well knows that so far from the scandal ministering grace to the hearer, it ministers evil; that the hearer is impelled by the forces of his fallen human nature to go quickly and tell the scandal further; true or false, he knows not and heeds not. It has kindled in his heart a flame of carnal sentiment which issues from his lips to "set on fire the course of nature" in others, similarly weak through the fall. The fallen nature feasts and revels in just such things, feeling the more liberty to do so because they delude themselves that thus they are moralizing--preaching against sin, and that in thus discussing
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and impliedly denouncing the said-to-be transgressions of another, they are mentioning matters abhorrent to their righteous souls. Alas! poor, weak, fallen humanity's reasonings are seriously defective when the Lord's counsels in righteousness are ignored.
MUCH FOR DISCUSSION ON THE SUBJECT OF THE
RICHES OF GOD'S GRACE
As for the point that there would be little else to talk about if scandals were thoroughly eliminated from Christian conversation, and all were to abide strictly by the Apostle's injunction, "Speak evil of no man," we answer: Is there not a wide scope for conversation amongst Christian people on the subject of the riches of God's grace in Christ Jesus our Lord, expressed in the exceeding great and precious promises of the Divine Word? In these things we have indeed that which not only ministers grace to the hearer, but which adds also to the grace of the speaker. It showers blessing on every hand, so far as the "new creature" is concerned, and assists in deadening the old nature with its evil desires, tastes, appetites.
This is what the Apostle had in mind, evidently, when he said that the Lord's people should "show forth the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light." And a heart filled with the spirit of love, the spirit of God, the spirit of Truth, the spirit of the Master, will be sure to overflow that which is within, for, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." An evil mouth, therefore, a mouth which does injury to others, either to fellow-members of "the Body of Christ," or to those who are without, indicates an evil heart, implies that the heart is not pure. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."--`I Pet. 2:9`; `Matt. 12:34`; `5:8`.
(2) Another excuse for gossip about other men's matters is offered by others who say: I can talk about religious matters to those who are religiously inclined, but when I am with worldly people, or with professors of religion who take no interest in religious themes, I must be agreeable and accommodating, and must at least hear their gossip and news; and if I do not share in such conversation I would be considered very peculiar, and my company would not be desired. Yes, we answer; but this is to be one of the peculiarities of the "saints." They are not only to be different from the world, but different also from the nominal professors of religion. Their religion is not to be merely on the surface, and on one day of the week, and under a certain suit of clothes; but is to be of the heart, related to all the affairs of life, for every day and every moment. To follow strictly the Divine injunction will indeed separate these from some who are now their friends and who love such evil things-- forbidden us who have become sons of God and who have received of his spirit of sonship, the spirit of Love.
THE WAY TO GLORY, HONOR AND IMMORTALITY A
That our Lord understood and taught that the way to glory, honor and immortality is a narrow one is evident. "If any man would be my disciple, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." And again-- "Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be who find it." If, therefore, your failure to be an entertaining visitor, neighbor, friend, is because of your fidelity as a "new creature" to the law of Christ, Love--which "worketh no ill to his neighbor," either in word or deed--then indeed you have cause for rejoicing, because you are suffering a little, experiencing a loss, for Christ's sake, for righteousness' sake. The loss may at first seem heavy, but if you endure it for Christ's sake, in obedience to his righteous law of Love, you will soon be able to say with the Apostle that such losses are "light afflictions," not worthy to be compared with the offsetting blessings.--`Phil. 3:7,8`; `2 Cor. 4:17`.
Your cause for rejoicing is that you have the Lord's promise that such suffering shall work out for your good. Companionship with those who are not seeking to walk according to the mind of the spirit, but according to the common "course of this world," is injurious to the saints, to those who are seeking to walk in harmony with the new mind. They are far better off without such worldly companions and friends, and in proportion as they are separated from these they will find closer fellowship with the Lord himself and with his Word, and with all who are true members of his Body, and under the direction of his Spirit.
It is in harmony with this that the Scriptures declare, in so many words, that the friendship of this world signifies enmity against God. (`Jas. 4:4`.) God has purposely placed the matter in such a position that his people must take their choice, and lose either the Divine friendship and fellowship, or the worldly friendship and fellowship; because those things which the Lord loves are distasteful to the worldly, and those things which the worldly love, evil deeds and evil thoughts, evil-speaking, are an abomination in the sight of the Lord, and those who love and practice such things lose his fellowship--they are not of his Spirit. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."--`Rom. 8:9`.
(3) Another way by which some otherwise good Christian people avoid this question, and justify themselves in this common fault of humanity, is by confining themselves (as they think) to the truth. But they never know how frequently their gossip-loving natures pervert their judgment and lead them to accept as truth, things respecting which they have little or no knowledge. Nor are such anxious to know more, after they have circulated a slander with their stamp of verity on it. To find it untrue would prove them "false witnesses" and put them to trouble to correct the lie. The pride of the natural mind objects and refuses to believe the truth under such circumstances. Thus one evil leads to another.
HOW THE DEPRAVED TASTE HEDGES BEHIND
Such will say, "Oh, I never tell anything for truth until I positively know it to be true--of my own observation, my own personal knowledge. Anything that I do not know of myself to be true I am always careful to so state, and say, I have heard thus and so, or, I am told thus and so; I do not vouch for the truth of it myself. Thus I am sure that I always avoid speaking evil of anyone." Perhaps there is no more common delusion on this subject than is thus expressed. The depraved taste hedges itself behind conscience, and declares that it is always right to speak the truth, and hence God cannot have meant that speaking the truth would be slander, but that in condemning evil-speaking and slander, as works of the flesh and the Devil, he must have meant the speaking of that which is false, untrue.
This is a great mistake. A slander is equally a slander, whether it is true or whether it is false, and is so regarded, not only in the law of God, but also in the laws of civilized men. True, in human law, if a suit were brought for slander, if it were proven that the charges made by the slanderer had some basis of fact, that would probably be considered by the Court and jury an extenuating
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circumstance, and would probably very much reduce the amount of the verdict for damages. A slander is anything which is uttered with the intention of injury to another, whether true or false, and the laws of men agree with the law of God, that such injury to another is wrong.
In other words, Divine and human laws agree that a first wrong does not justify a second wrong. Human law says, If a wrong has been committed, the Courts are open to the injured one to seek redress or the punishment of the evil doer; but the injured one shall not be permitted to take the remedy into his own hands, either by making an assault with physical force or by the use of the more subtle weapon, the tongue, to assassinate his reputation with the poisoned stiletto of envy and malice. True, many slanderers are never prosecuted; true also, the newspapers of the United States many times escape heavy damages for libelous slander by the plea that they do not publish the defamations as of malice, but simply as news, which, they claim, properly belong to the public, as in the cases of politicians who are seeking the franchises of the people for positions of public trust. Then again, public men, knowing that much of the false statements by the opposition press will be properly credited as falsehoods, consider it good policy to let any ordinary slanders go unchallenged in the Courts. The effect is a gradual growth of slander among the people, sure to work evil to themselves and to their institutions; for government officers and courts and everybody of influence coming under such slanders (generally, we believe, untrue) lose their influence for good over the lower classes, who are thus being helped along to greater lawlessness day by day, and preparing for the period of anarchy which the Scriptures tell us is near at hand.
THE LAW OF LOVE COMMANDS THAT WE "SPEAK EVIL
OF NO MAN"
But the Law of God, the Law of Christ, goes much further and deeper into such matters, naturally, than do the laws of men; for it deals not with men, but with the "new creatures in Christ Jesus"--transformed by the renewing of their minds, and under special Covenant relationship, and bound by the law of Love, which "worketh no ill to his neighbor," under any circumstances, under any provocation, but, on the contrary, returns "good for evil," "blessing for cursing."
The Law of Love commands silence to all who acknowledge that law and the Law-Giver, saying, "Speak evil of no man." (`Titus 3:2`.) It goes further than this and declares against evil thoughts, evil suspicions, evil surmisings against neighbors. It declares that love filling our hearts will not only hinder evil conduct and injurious words, but will even prevent evil thoughts--"Love thinketh no evil." The new creature possessing it can be convinced of evil only by indisputable proofs. Indeed, to impress this subject and its importance in his sight, the Great Teacher declares to the pupils in his school-- With what judgment ye judge others, I will judge you. (`Matt. 7:1`.) And again he tells them to pray to the Father--"Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." (`Matt. 6:12`.) Again he declares. If at heart ye treasure up resentment against others, the Heavenly Father will not forgive you.-- `Matt. 18:35`.
Ah! indeed, a Christian after the Lord's pattern, a graduate of the school of Christ and prepared to teach others, is one who not only outwardly, but inwardly also, is clean--separated, washed by the water of Divine instruction, from the meanness, the filthiness of the flesh. He is no longer the slave of sin, controlled by the desires and weaknesses of his fallen flesh and its spirit of the world, bearing fruits unto unrighteousness--anger, malice, hatred, strife, slander, evil-speaking. (`Col. 3:8`; `I Pet. 2:1,2`.) From his high standpoint of appreciation of the Divine law, the advanced Christian sees that in the Lord's sight hatred is murder, slander is assassination, and the destruction of a neighbor's good name is robbery and rapine. And any of these things done in the Church, among the professed people of God, is doubly evil--the assassination and robbery of a brother.--Compare `I John 3:15` and `Matt. 5:21,22`.
THE NATURAL HEART IS DECEITFUL AND DESPERATELY
To utter a defamatory or injurious remark against another, and then to add, "I do not know whether it is true or not," is to show that the speaker is exercised by an evil spirit and not by the Spirit of Christ, the spirit of love--he wishes to injure or curse his fellow-creature, is anxious to do so. He would feel restrained to some extent from telling what he knew to be absolutely untrue, but delights to speak evil, and is glad to know that he may roll it as a sweet morsel over his tongue, and hence speaks of even those scandals which he does not know to be true, and attempts to excuse himself with such an apology as the above.
Verily, it is with force that the Scriptures declare that the natural heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Those who thus speak, and thus attempt to justify their misconduct, have either never entered the school of Christ, or are as yet only in the infant class, and do not know that theirs is the spirit of murder, and not the spirit of brotherly love. Oh! that all true Christians might learn the scope of this law of Love, in its relationship not only to God, but also to fellowmen; what a bridling of tongues it would mean, what a carefulness of speech! As David said, "I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue." And he who watches his tongue is putting a detective upon his deceitful heart and can the better know it and master it, for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."--`Jer. 17:9`; `Psa. 39:1`; `Matt. 12:34`.
The only exception to this rule, "Speak evil of no man," would come in where we might know of an absolute necessity for making known an evil--where the relating of the evil would be contrary to our heart's wishes, and only mentioned because of necessity--because of love for others who, if not informed, might be injured. For instance, the law of the land demands that, if we know of murder having been committed, it shall not be considered slander, but on the contrary be considered duty, to make known to the proper officers of the law the facts (not suspicions) which have come under our observation. Likewise, if we knew of some weakness in a brother or sister, and realized that another brother or sister was about to be placed in a dangerous position by reason of that weakness, it might become our duty to make known, either to the individual or congregation liable to be injured, so much of our knowledge of facts (not suspicions) as might be necessary to guard against injury through the weakness mentioned. But this would not be speaking evil, but, on the contrary, would be speaking with a good motive, with the intention of preserving the one party from extraordinary temptation, and of preserving the other party from injury. And before anything should be said on the subject we should most positively satisfy our own consciences that
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our motive in speaking is a good one, and not an evil one; that we are about to use our tongue to bless, and not to injure. And even then, prompted by the spirit of love and kindness toward the weak brother, as well as toward the others, we should avoid mentioning one solitary item that would not be necessary to the object in view.
"DOTH A FOUNTAIN SEND FORTH AT THE SAME
OPENING BITTER WATER AND SWEET?"
But some will object to limiting this liberty to cases of positive knowledge, and urge that absolute knowledge generally being small little could be said. We answer that this is in line with the Divine law--"Love thy neighbor as thyself." You would not want your neighbor to use brain and tongue in evil surmises and slander against you; and you should not do so to him. The law of the land does not demand that you should tell one word more than you know (of personal knowledge) against your neighbor; it does not ask your suspicions and evil surmisings. And on the contrary, the law of the Lord commands that all under the law of love shall not utter one solitary suspicion against a neighbor; and that if suspicion beyond knowledge is forced upon the mind by associated circumstances, the new mind shall promptly, with its native benevolence, counterbalance the suspicions by suggestions of the possibility of misinformation or misinterpretation and always give the apparently guilty the benefit of the doubt.
Another will object--"Oh! I could never waste so much time in getting at facts. Life is too short! Why, I would have no time at all left for my own business, if I carefully hunted up the facts so as always to speak from knowledge and never from hearsay!"
Just so! and the lesson to you should be to follow the Scriptural rule--"Speak evil of no man!"
(1) Because you have not the time to get at the facts, and quite probably also lack the ability to judge impartially, if you had all the facts before you.
(2) Because, if you have the Spirit of Christ, love, dwelling in you richly, you will prefer to tell no one the facts, even if you have the chain of evidence complete. You will loathe the matter the more in proportion as the known facts are unfavorable. What, then, must be the condition of those who have itching ears for scandal and of those whose tongues delight in scandal as a sweet morsel, and are anxious to scatter an evil report of which they have no knowledge--only prejudiced hearsay? The most generous view possible of such is that they have little of the Spirit of Christ; that they are deficient in brotherly love and have never truly learned "the golden rule."
The Apostle inquires, "Doth a fountain send forth at the same opening bitter water and sweet?" The form of his question implies the answer, No; it is either good water only, or brackish water only. He evidently wishes to suggest that we apply the same rule to our hearts and mouths: How is it possible if our hearts have been renewed that our mouths utter loving sweetness to God and bitter acrimony, envy, hatred, strife, towards or respecting our fellowmen?
THE TREASURE OF THE NEW MIND IN AN EARTHEN
There is but one way of understanding the foregoing question Scripturally. It is expressed by the Apostle Paul (`2 Cor. 4:7`), "We have this treasure [the new heart, the new mind, the new nature] in an earthen vessel." Not that Christians are of two natures, for that thought is contrary to the science of the Bible. No mixture of natures can be recognized; hence it was that our human natures were justified through faith in Jesus' blood and a renouncement of sin and a consecration to death, that instead we might have spiritual natures and become "new creatures in Christ Jesus." The new creature, however, is as yet only in embryo, possessing only the new mind which dwells in and proposes to regulate and govern the mortal bodies, which are considered dead so far as the will of the flesh is concerned.
When, therefore, our mouths are speaking forth heartfelt praise to God, who hath blessed us, lifted our feet from the horrible pit, and the miry clay, and placed us upon the Rock Christ Jesus, and has put a new song into our mouth, our praise implies that the new mind is controlling at such a time, that the new heart is overflowing in the mortal body, and going forth through the lips to the blessing and edification, the comfort and encouragement of those who hear. Thus the fountain in our heart is sending forth sweet waters, carrying with them life, blessing, refreshment. But when our tongues speak evil of any, whether it be true or false, it implies that the new nature is, temporarily at least, overcome by the old nature; it implies that another fountain is now operating and using the tongue, the mouth, in issuing forth the words of malice or hatred or envy or strife or reproach or evil speaking of any kind--cursing or injuring others in any degree, great or small.
This implies that the flesh is not being kept under, kept dead, kept buried, kept out of sight. Such a condition, therefore, implies slow spiritual development or retrogression--falling away on the part of the "new creature." All such should remember, as the Apostle Paul declares, "The time past of our lives sufficeth us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles." Again, he says, "Yield not your members as instruments of unrighteousness; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."--`I Pet. 4:3`; `Rom. 6:13`.
"PURGE OUT THE OLD LEAVEN"
From this point of view we may console ourselves if, in looking backward, we perceive that in our own cases from the same mouth has proceeded praise to God and injury and defamation and slander and evil-speaking, or any of these evil propensities, toward our fellow-creatures. It does not, therefore, prove that our hearts were not truly justified, and sanctified by the holy Spirit of adoption; it does not prove that we are not sons of God and partakers of his Spirit. It does prove, however, that we are in a sadly improper condition--spiritually sick and in need of taking a purgative; as the Apostle expresses it, "Purge out, therefore, the old leaven [malice, etc.], that ye may be a new [unadulterated, pure] lump" or loaf--proper representatives of the Body of Christ.--`I Cor. 5:7`.
We may know assuredly that, until the "new creature" gains a thorough victory over the flesh, we will not be winners of the great prize which is promised only "to him that overcometh." The overcoming, however, will be not in the perfecting of the flesh, but in the perfecting of the heart--the will, the intentions. As for the blemishes of the flesh, some of them, undoubtedly, despite every effort on our part to eradicate them, will continue with us so long as we are in the flesh. The perfection which is to be hoped for, therefore, and aimed at and expected and gained by the overcomers, is the perfection of the will, heart, intentions--"Blessed are the pure in heart; they shall see God."
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Moreover, our physical weaknesses and defects not only vary in kind but in intensity. Some are by nature more inclined to gentleness, kindness, etc.; others, until accepted of Christ, may have very uncouth, coarse, rude, rough earthen vessels. And while the influence of the treasure within, the "new mind," will be sure in any case to exercise a modifying and transforming effect upon the earthen vessel, we cannot expect as much of a change in some as in others. We cannot expect as complete a correction in righteousness in the outward man, where coarseness, rudeness, unkindness are, so to speak, bred in the bone and fibre, as we might expect in one born to fine sensibilities.
While recognizing this difference of "earthen vessels," we, of course, must use our best endeavors each to correct his own. We are to remember that our relationship to one another in the Body of Christ is not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit; hence, as the Apostle declares, we know one another no longer according to the flesh, with its weaknesses, imperfections and ungainly and ungraceful natural tendencies. We know each other only according to the Spirit, according to the intentions, according to the heart--as "new creatures," not as old creatures.--`2 Cor. 5:16`.
This will lead us to be very pitiful of one another's imperfections of the flesh, so long as we have the assurance that the flesh does not represent our brother's real self, his mind, his will. We are, therefore, to be gentle toward all, "kindly affectioned one toward another," so that so far from desiring to wound one another, or to injure one another, or to devour one another with our tongues, we shall sympathize with each other, do each other good, and, by words of grace and comfort, or by admonition and reproof spoken in love, may "build one another up in the most holy faith"--in the likeness of our Lord and Master.
Proceeding with this subject, the Apostle points out that there are two kinds of wisdom, a heavenly and an earthly, and that all of the Lord's people should discern these, and should see to it that theirs is the heavenly. The Apostle's intimation is that there may be some with the Church, who may have counted themselves in the Church, who may have associated themselves with the Church from worldly-wise motives--some who have caught sight of the fact that there is a reasonableness and a wisdom in the teachings of the Scriptures which they admire and which they can turn, perhaps, to their own advantage. These, he implies, will be inclined to be heady and to make a show of their wisdom, and to be "puffed up" by it, and while outwardly acknowledging the propriety of the Christian graces, brotherly-kindness, gentleness, meekness, patience, love, they have in their hearts bitter envyings and strife--strife to have name and fame --envying those who may seem to them to have more of these.
These, the Apostle intimates, will find it difficult, yea, impossible, to avoid cursing (speaking evil of, injuring) the brethren. It will be so natural to them to do so that they cannot avoid it, because they have not pure hearts-- they have not regenerated hearts. If their hearts ever were regenerated, they have returned like the sow to wallowing in the mire--like the dog to his vomit. The Apostle's advice to such as find that they have in their hearts envious and bitter feelings, is that they have no cause to glory or to boast, but on the contrary should acknowledge that, having these evil conditions in the heart, they are not Christians at all, and they should cease to lie against the truth--cease to act fraudulently, hypocritically --cease to continue to claim to have renewed hearts, sanctified in Christ Jesus.
He tells such plainly that their wisdom, their knowledge, is not of God, is not of the holy Spirit--"This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish; for, where envy and strife are, there is confusion and every evil work [to be anticipated]."-- `Jas. 3:15,16`.
It seems evident that although the Apostle James' denunciation applies to any professing to be Israelites indeed, he nevertheless is specially aiming his remarks at those who profess to be teachers in the Church, to have wisdom to a considerable degree. And his words remind us of the words of the Apostle Paul; when speaking of the various gifts distributed to the Church, he seemingly points out the dangers of those of large knowledge, and, as an illustration of this principle which James presents, he says:--
"THOUGH I SPEAK WITH THE TONGUES OF MEN AND
OF ANGELS AND HAVE NOT LOVE"
Though I could speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not Love, it would imply that I had become as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, making a noise indeed, but having no feeling respecting the matter myself--I have neither part nor lot with those who possess the Spirit of Christ. Although I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, and have not Love, I am nothing; and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not Love, it profiteth me nothing.--`I Cor. 13:1-8`.
Thus the Apostle points out distinctly that knowledge and oratory are not the most vital tests, but that Love, permeating the heart and extending out through all the course of life, and actuating and operating our mortal bodies, is the real test--the real proof of our Divine relationship. He points out that those who had received gifts of God before they had come into a proper relationship to God might become sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, and thus become "nothing," if they lose the love, if they lose the Spirit of Christ; for "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
It is well for the Lord's people to take particular note of these Divine instructions from two of the chiefest of the Apostles, and to remember that, valuable though they be, neither oratory nor knowledge is to be considered amongst the "brethren" as sure proofs of their being in the right way, nor that their influence might not be injurious instead of helpful. The leading characteristic to be looked for in everyone accepted as a servant of the Church, to minister in holy things, should be first of all the spirit of Love. We do not mean to say that knowledge and ability should be entirely ignored, but we do mean to say that these should be considered of secondary and not of primary importance, as is always the tendency.
Select from among yourselves, holy men, full of the holy Spirit, that they may have the charge of the spiritual interests of the different companies of the Lord's people. And for a Divine explanation of how this holy Spirit will manifest itself, of the qualities, therefore, that are to be looked for in the servants of the Church, see `I Cor. 13:4-8`; also `I Pet. 1:22,23`; `2 Pet. 1:1-13`. For their own good, as well as for the good of the Church, all who, having other qualifications, give evidence of being puffed up and of desiring to lord it over God's heritage (the Church), or who manifest envy, strife, bitterness, evil-speaking--these should be passed by, as giving evidence of having the wrong spirit, that cometh
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not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. They are unsafe teachers, and are likely to do more harm than good, with whatever knowledge they may possess.
"THE WISDOM THAT COMETH FROM ABOVE," ETC.
Continuing, the Apostle leaves no doubt respecting his meaning, for he distinctly outlines the course and fruitage of heavenly wisdom, saying, "The wisdom that is from above is first pure"--truthful, honest, sincere, not put on, not used as a garment of light to deceive and to cover up selfishness, malice, hatred, strife; it makes no compromises with sin, impurity, in any shape or form.
It is "peaceable."--So far from being a quarrelsome, bickering disposition, the "new mind" desires peace; it will "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints," but it will not contend simply from a love of contention, a love of strife; on the contrary, the new mind is peaceably inclined, would prefer, so far as possible, to yield a non-essential point in a controversy; it loves its opponents and sympathizes with their difficulties.
It is "gentle"--not rude or coarse, not rough in action or word or tone; and if the earthen vessel through which it speaks have these rudenesses ingrained by nature, the "new nature" regrets them, strives against them, and seeks to conquer them; and where they do injury to others is ready, willing, glad to apologize, and to remove the smart.
It is "easy to be entreated"--easy of approach, not haughty, not disdainful, not hard or cruel; yet it is firm on matters of principle; principles cannot be bended or modified; they belong to God. But while affirming the principles, this spirit of wisdom points out its own willingness to moderation, by acknowledging any good features in its opponent, and by pointing out the reason why no modification is possible in relation to Divine laws and principles.
It is "full of mercy and good fruits."--It delights in all things prompted by love and kindness; it takes pleasure in doing for others; it takes pleasure, not only in showing mercy to dumb animals under its care, but it especially delights in mercy in dealing with brethren in respect to their faults. It is merciful also in the family--not over-exacting, but generous, kind, benevolent. It is generous also with opponents, and those who are contentious--not wishing to push a victory, even for the truth, to such a point as would be injurious, hurtful, unmerciful to the antagonist.
It is "without partiality."--It loves the good, the true, where these are found; and opposes the untrue, the impure and the unholy, whether found amongst friends or enemies. Its justice is of the strictest kind, tempered with mercy; it will not approve a fault in a brother, because he is a brother, but would reprove the same with gentleness and meekness, remembering the liability of all to the assaults of the world, the flesh and the Devil. It will not fail to see a virtue in an enemy, nor hesitate to acknowledge it. Truth is its standard, not prejudice, not partyism, not sectarianism.
It is "without hypocrisy."--It is thoroughly candid; it needs not to feign love, because it is love; it needs not to put on a kindly exterior and to smother feelings of wrath and envy and strife, for it is without envy, without strife. Such works of the flesh and of the Devil have, by the grace of God, been seen to be earthly, sensual, devilish, and have been repudiated, and the heart has been justified, cleansed, sanctified to God, renewed in thought, intention, will, and is now full of the treasure of the holy Spirit.
With these thoughts before our minds, let us all, dear readers, more earnestly than ever, guard against the old nature, and its insidious attempts to gain control over our tongues. Let us, more and more, seek to appreciate, in ourselves and in others, this heavenly wisdom, whose operation is so forcefully presented by the Apostle. The more important our members, the more influential, the more earnestly ought we to strive to keep them in full subjection to the Lord, as his servants. Our feet are useful members, consecrated to the Lord; we may use them in many errands of mercy, to the glory of his name and to the profit of his people. Our hands are likewise useful, if thoroughly consecrated to the Lord's service. Our ears are also useful in his service, to hear for him, to refuse to hear the evil, and thus to approve evil, and to set a good example to others. Our eyes are a great blessing from the Lord, and they also are to be kept from evil, from the lust of the eye and the pride of life, and are to be instruments or servants of righteousness, in seeing the good, in appreciating the good, and in assisting the good, and in helping us to know the will of our God.
"THE TONGUE SET ON FIRE OF GEHENNA"
But of all our members the most influential is the tongue. The tongue's influence exceeds that of all our other members combined. To control it, therefore, in the Lord's service, is the most important work of the Lord's people in respect to their mortal bodies and the service of these rendered to the Lord. A few words of love, kindness, helpfulness--how often have such changed the entire course of a human life! Yea! How much they have had to do with moulding the destiny of nations! And how often have evil words, unkind words, slanderous words, done gross injustice, assassinated reputations, etc.! As the Apostle declares, the tongue is capable of setting on fire the whole course of nature--awakening passions, strifes, enmities, at first unthought of. No wonder he declares such tongues "set on fire of Gehenna"--the Second Death!
The public servants of the Church are to some extent specially its "tongues," and what an influence they wield for good or for evil, in the blessing and upbuilding of the Lord's people, or for their injury--cursing. How necessary that all the tongue-servants of the Lord's Body be such, and such only, as are of his spirit. Their influence not only extends to those who are in the Church, but in considerable measure they are mouthpieces heard outside. And the same principle applies to every individual member of the Church, in his use of his member, his tongue. He may use it wisely or unwisely, with heavenly wisdom or with earthly wisdom. He may use it for strife, and tearing down the faith and character of the brethren, in overthrowing love and confidence, or he may use it in building up these graces of the Spirit.
How many have proved the truth of the Apostle's words--that the tongue has great possibilities for defiling the whole Body, the Church, and setting on fire the course of nature, by stirring up the evil passions and propensities of the fallen nature! How few amongst the Lord's people have conquered the tongue to the extent of bringing it into subjection to the will of God, that they may minister good, and only good, to all with whom they come in contact! Let us, dearly beloved, be fully resolved that by Divine grace (promised to assist us) we shall witness great progress in our control of this most important member of our bodies, bringing the same into full subjection and obedience and service to the King of kings and Lord of lords--to him "who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light."
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"THE PRESENCE OF THE SON OF MAN"
--`MATTHEW 24:32-44`.--NOVEMBER 13.--
"Watch and pray, lest ye enter into
FOR various reasons many Bible students understand that our Lord referred to the Jewish nation under the symbolism of a fig-tree. He had been telling his disciples what he expected in the end of this age, when he would come again to receive his faithful to himself and to give them a place as his Bride upon his Throne and to establish his Kingdom under the whole heavens for the blessing of Israel and all the world through Israel. In this study he tells us that amongst the prominent signs of the closing of this age and the opening of the new will be the budding of the fig tree--the springing forth of new life and new hope in the Jewish nation. And is not this condition of things manifesting itself today? Behold the Jews awakening and listening to the voice of Moses and the Prophets calling them to Palestine and to fresh hope in God and in the glorious promises to which they still are heirs as the natural
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seed of Abraham! "For the gifts and calling of God are things he does not repent of."--`Rom. 11:11-39`.
"THIS GENERATION SHALL NOT PASS"
The generation which witnesses the signs promised in the verses preceding our lesson and which witnesses this putting forth of the green leaves of hope by Israel will see to the full the accomplishment of the glorious change of Dispensation so long foretold. They will witness the passing of the reign of the Prince of Darkness and the inauguration of the glorious reign of the Prince of Light --Messiah with his glorious Bride class; not, however, that mankind will see Messiah with the natural eye, nor see even his glorious Bride, except with the eyes of their understanding. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God" in this highest sense. Flesh and blood, however, will see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the Prophets in the Kingdom, and will have full testimony and practical demonstration of the Kingdom power in the great transformation that will be wrought and the restitution blessings which will be showered upon Israel and upon all who will come into harmony with God through Israel's New Covenant.--`Jer. 31:31`.
The present ecclesiastical heavens and the present social earth will, indeed, both pass away in the great time of trouble with which this age will end; but following these, supplanting them, will come the new heavens and the new earth--the new religious institutions of the Lord --the Church in glory, and the new social order amongst mankind under the regulations for which we still pray, "Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth." Then the words of the great Teacher will surely have fulfillment.
THE DAY AND HOUR HAD NOT BEEN FORETOLD
The day and hour of the great change no one knew, not even the angels in heaven. The Master himself declared that he did not know--but the Father alone. This should not, however, be understood to mean that the Son of God would not know about the matter later on, in due time, before he would begin his work of establishing the Kingdom. Neither would it prove that the angels of heaven would be in ignorance up to the last moment. Neither would it prove that God's people, living at the time for the establishment of the Kingdom, would not know. In fact, the Master declares that all living in proper harmony with him would be kept informed respecting the Father's Plans as they became due. He declared that if they would partake of the things of God and follow after them, then they should have meat in due season.
In this very study the Great Teacher illustrates this principle, referring to Noah and Lot. Noah was informed respecting the coming change of Dispensation when he was instructed to build the ark one hundred and twenty years before the flood. Lot was instructed respecting the disaster coming upon the city in which he lived long enough in advance to escape from it; likewise the Church of Christ is forewarned by this illustration and reminded that when they flee they shall not, like Lot's wife, covetously look back to the things which, under Divine condemnation, are to pass away, but shall escape to the mountain--flee to the Kingdom of God, which will at that time be in process of establishment.
Doubtless much of the immorality and sensuality which marked the days of Noah and the days of Lot will prevail in the world in the closing days of the present age. Other Scriptures so inform us, even though this study intimates nothing of the kind. This lesson brings to our attention another feature connected with our Lord's Second Advent--a feature which hitherto has been little noticed by Bible students. It informs us that his Second Coming will be unobserved, unknown to the world; that he will be present in the world, and have to do with the gathering together of his saints and with the great time of trouble which will follow, yet be entirely invisible to men, recognizable only by outward signs of his presence and known only to the saintly few of humanity.
This feature of the lesson is veiled from the eyes of the average Bible student by a mistranslated word. The Greek for the word coming in `verses 37` and `39` is parousia, which does not mean coming, but should be rendered presence, as of one who has already come.
"IN THE PRESENCE OF THE SON OF MAN"
This gives us a stupendous thought! The great King of kings will for a time be present amongst men, invisible, unknown, except by a very few of his saints, to whom his presence will be revealed through the knock of prophecy and the opening of the eyes of their understanding to appreciate fulfillments. Everything will continue as ordinarily --the eating, drinking, planting, building and marrying, "as it was in the days of Noah." Had the world known in Noah's day the climax of trouble impending, many of the ordinary affairs of life would have been discontinued --and likewise here. The lesson is that as the world did not know in Noah's day, so the world will not know "in the days of the Son of Man"--in the presence of the Son of Man.
The field is the world, said our Lord, in explaining one of his parables. And so we should interpret it here. The Lord will gather some of his jewels from the field; all not his jewels will be left. Two will be grinding at the mill preparing food for the household; one will be taken and another left. The Lord's household is the Church, and the mills which prepare the food for the Church are theological. The intimation is that some theologians will be taken and some will be left, in the selective processes of the presence of the Son of Man--in the making up of his jewels.
St. Luke mentions another feature of this discourse. There shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken and the other left. A bed is a place for rest. All churches profess to be resting places, where the weary and heavy-laden rest through faith in God and in his promises. The
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teaching, then, would be that not all who are resting in the churches of Christendom, in the creeds, will be amongst the elect, the gathered jewels. Some will be taken away from these beds. Others will be left in them. A vivid description of these creed-beds and their unsatisfactory character is given us by the Prophet.-- `Isaiah 28:20`.
WATCH THAT YE MAY KNOW
Following these illustrations of his presence and his work in the harvest time of this Gospel Age the Master exhorts all of his followers to watch, to be ready, to be on the alert, to be on the lookout, that they may be ready for his presence, that they may, in due time, discern his presence, and that they may be gathered or separated from the world and theological relationship, and from earthly church relationship, to the Master himself. Some very earnest Bible students believe that we are in this harvest period now; that the Son of Man, the glorified Messiah, invisible to men, is even now present doing a searching and separating work in his Church, gathering his saints unto himself preparatory to their change from earthly to heavenly conditions and preparatory to the inauguration of the great time of trouble, by which present institutions will be blotted out to make way for the Kingdom of righteousness, for which we have so long prayed. Many Bible students believe that the present unrest and sifting and shaking amongst Christians and the creeds of all denominations and the colleges and seminaries are but incidental to this work which the Son of Man, present amongst us, is accomplishing for the purpose of fully separating to himself his very elect. Whether this proposition be agreed to or not, the fact still remains that thus matters will be whenever the time shall come, whenever the end of this age and the inauguration of the new shall take place.
SATAN'S HOUSE TO BE BROKEN UP
All of the foregoing suggestions are confirmed by the symbolism of the `43d verse`. Here the Master likens the institutions of the present time to a house or household. Elsewhere he informs us that Satan is the Prince of this world, the over-lord who tyrannizes the world, operating through the weaknesses and passions and depraved appetites and impaired reasoning faculties of humanity. Had the time of the Lord's Second Advent been clearly made known that knowledge would have so altered matters and affairs that the world would not have been taken by surprise in connection with the gathering of the Lord's jewels and the establishment of his Kingdom, and thus there would not be such a breaking-up in earth's affairs as is now impending; the Kingdom would be established, but not in the way in which God designed.
In this verse our Lord likens his second presence, unknown to the world, to the presence of a thief in a house, unknown to its master. The Lord's saints in the world are his jewels. These he will take away and the loss to the world will be great. As the saintly ones will be gathered from the field, from the mill and from the bed into closer heart-union with the Lord, those left in the world, the mill and the bed, will be greatly disadvantaged--not because the jewel class are wealthy or have worldly greatness, for of these chosen saints it is distinctly stated that there are amongst them "not many great, not many rich, not many wise, not many noble." But these saintly ones are, nevertheless, the "salt" of the earth and the salt of the churches, and the salt of the theological seminaries. After the taking away of the salt class, putrefaction and disintegration will speedily follow.
In view of all this, all who profess to be the Lord's people should earnestly watch, as well as pray; they should watch their words and thoughts and doings and see to it that they worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, and that they do not idolize either dead or living men or creeds. Thus walking circumspectly in the footsteps of Jesus the saintly ones will be kept in the hour of temptation, which shall come upon the whole world to prove them.--`Rev. 3:10`.
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THE DARK GETHSEMANE HOUR
--`MATTHEW 26:36-46`.--NOVEMBER 20.--
"The Son of man is betrayed into
the hands of sinners."--`V. 45`.
AFTER the Master and his disciples, as Jews, had celebrated the Passover Supper and after he had subsequently instituted the Memorial of his death, with the bread and the cup, and after Judas had gone out to betray him, Jesus and the remaining eleven left the upper room in Jerusalem, crossed the city to the gate, and thence crossed the Valley Kedron and ascended the sloping side of Mt. Olivet toward the Garden of Gethsemane. The word Gethsemane signifies oil-press. Tradition has it that this Garden belonged to the family of which the Apostles John and James were members, and that for this reason the Lord and his disciples were privileged to feel themselves at home there. St. Mark, the writer of one of the Gospels, but not one of the Apostles, is credited with having been a member of the same family. One of the accounts of the arrest of the Master tells that amongst those who followed after him was a young man wrapped with a sheet, and who fled naked when some members of the band attempted to lay hold of him. That young man, tradition says, years afterwards was known as St. Mark.
This was the most memorable night of the Master's experience. He knew perfectly the meaning of every feature of the Passover. He knew that he was the Lamb of God, antitypically, whose death was to be accomplished on the following day by crucifixion. Yet his thoughts were for his dear disciples. He must give them final words of encouragement and instruction. And so he did. Three chapters of St. John's Gospel record the incidents of the intervening time between the leaving of the upper room and the arriving at Gethsemane, the place of the oil-press. "And Judas also, who betrayed him, knew the place, for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples." (`John 18:2`.) In St. `John 14` the Master told his disciples about the place he would go to prepare for them, but that he would send the Spirit of Truth to be their Comforter, and it would show them things to come. In the `fifteenth chapter` he gave them the parable of the Vine and the Branches, and assured them that no longer should they be servants, but friends, "For all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." In the `sixteenth chapter` he explained to them that persecutions must be expected, if they would share his sufferings and be prepared to share his glory.
A little while and they would not see him; then again a little while and they would see him. The entire period
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of his absence from the Divine standpoint, as compared to eternity, would be but a little while. Then, by virtue of the resurrection "change," they would see him, because made like him. "In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." "These things I have given unto you that in me ye might have peace." In the `seventeenth chapter` is recorded his wonderful prayer to the Father on behalf of his followers --not for the Apostles only, but for all those also who would believe on him through their word.
IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
Thus discoursing, they reached the Garden, or olive-yard, where the press for extracting the oil from the olives was located. Somewhere near the entrance eight of the disciples were bidden to remain watching while Jesus, with the specially beloved Peter, James and John, went a little farther. And then, realizing the impossibility of even his dearest friends appreciating his sorrowful condition, he went still farther alone to speak to the Father. The disciples, perplexed, astounded, by the things that they had heard from his lips, did not comprehend the true situation. They evidently thought that there must still be something parabolic in his utterances. They would indeed watch with him, but they were weary and sank into slumber. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.
If some have queried why the Master preferred to be alone in prayer so frequently, the answer is, "I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me." (`Isa. 63:3`.) His disciples and followers loved him dearly. Still he was alone, because he alone had been begotten of the holy Spirit. His followers could not feel so blessed nor be Spirit-begotten until after his sacrifice had been finished nor until he would appear in the presence of God for them to apply his merit imputedly to them; to permit them to join with him sacrificially in the sufferings of this present time, that they might share with him also in the glories to follow.
St. Peter, referring to the foregoing experience of our Lord, declares that he offered up strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in respect to that which he feared. Why did he fear? Do not all humanity face death, and some of them with great courage and some with bravado? Ah, there is a vast difference between the Master's standpoint and ours as respects death. We were born dying. We never knew perfect life. We have always known that there is no escape from death. It was different with him. His experiences on the spirit plane before coming into the world were all in association with life, perfection of life. "In him was life" uncontaminated, because he was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners; his life came not from Adam.
He knew that in his perfection he had a right to life, if he would live in perfect accordance with the Divine requirements. But he knew also that by special Covenant with God, "a Covenant by sacrifice," he had agreed to the surrender of all his earthly rights and to allow his life to be taken from him. The Father had promised him a great reward of glory, honor and immortality through resurrection from the dead, but this was dependent upon his absolute obedience in every particular--in word, in thought, in deed. The question was, Had he been absolutely loyal to God in every particular? If not, death would mean to him an eternal extinction of being; not only the loss of heavenly glory promised as a reward, but the loss of everything. Can we wonder that he did not understand? The hour seemed so dark, and he said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful." He knew that he was to die. He knew that death was necessary. But here, now, looming up before him on the morrow was a shameful execution as a blasphemer, as a criminal, as a violator of Divine law. Could it be possible that in anything, even slightly, he had taken to himself the honor due to the Father? Could it be possible that in any degree he had held back, even in his mind, from full obedience to the Father's will? Did this crucifixion as a criminal possibly mean the loss of Divine favor? Was it necessary that he should die thus? Might not this cup of ignominy pass? So he prayed in a great agony. And although the older Greek manuscripts do not contain the statement that he sweat great drops of blood, medical science tells us that
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such an experience would not have been at all impossible in a nervous, strained, mental agony. But we note the beautiful simplicity of the statement with which his prayer concluded--"Nevertheless, my Father, not my will, but thy will, be done."
How childlike and beautiful the faith and trust, even amidst strenuous agitation! St. Paul says that he was heard in the thing which he feared. How? God's answer came by angelic hands. An angel appeared and ministered to him--ministered to his necessity. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation?" (`Heb. 1:14`.) We are not informed in what words this heavenly ministry was expressed to the Master in his lowliness and sorrow, but we do know that it must have been with full assurance of the Heavenly Father's favor and sympathy and love. He was heard in respect to the things which he feared. He received the assurance that he was well-pleasing to the Father; that he had been faithful to his Covenant, and that he would have the resurrection promised.
From that moment onward the Master was the calmest of all who had any association with the great events of that night and the following day. Officers, servants, Sanhedrin, priests, Herod and his men of war, Pilate and his soldiers, and the shouting rabble--all were excited, all were distressed. Jesus only was calm. This was because he had the Father's assurance that all was well between them. As this blessed assurance gave the Master courage, so his followers since have found that, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" If we have the peace of God ruling in our hearts, it is beyond all human comprehension.
JUDAS THE UNGRATEFUL APOSTATE
The world is full of sadly disappointing characters. In many things we all fail. Selfishness, meanness, perversity, pride, etc., mark the human family most woefully. But withal, can anyone find anything more reprehensible than the ingrate who would betray his best friend?
The world is of one opinion respecting such characters as that of Judas. And although he is a noted example he is by no means an exception; there are many. Some of them live today. But whoever can see the meanness of such a disposition with a reasonably good focus will surely be saved from manifesting such a character, however mean might be his disposition. The man who could sell his Master for thirty pieces of silver is justly in contempt with all humanity. Nor was it merely the thirty pieces that influenced the ingrate. Rather it was pride. He had thought to be associated with the Master in an earthly throne. He had set his faith upon this expectation. Now that same Master explained more fully that the throne was not yet in sight; that it belongs to an age to follow this, and is to be given only to those who prove themselves loyal and faithful unto death. In the mind of Judas the matter took not the wisest and
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best way. Holding the Great Teacher in contempt, the deceived one probably intended that the delivery should be merely a temporary one--a lesson to the Master not to talk that way, not to carry matters too far--an incentive to him, compelling him to exert his power for the resistance of those who sought his life and thus, in exalting himself, make good to his disciples the share in the Kingdom which he had promised, or, failing of this, to wreck the entire project. Alas, the love of money, the love of power puff up and make delirious some who become intoxicated with ambition. How necessary that all the Lord's followers remember the message, "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that exalteth himself shall be abased!" "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time."--`Matt. 23:12`; `I Pet. 5:6`.
NEARING THE GOAL
With eyes aflame, with panting breath, they come--
The runners--every nerve and muscle tense;
Urged forward by a thousand deafening cries.
On, on, they rush! When one, close to the goal,
For but one moment glances back in pride
To note how far he hath outrun the rest.
Alas! tripped by a pebble on the course,
He stumbles, falls, arises, but too late!
Another sweeps ahead with blood-flecked lips
And bursting heart! One final, awful strain,
With superhuman effort, grand, supreme,
He leaps into the air--and falls in death
Across the line--a victor, but at what
A fearful cost he gave his life, his all!
I ponder o'er this tragedy of days
When Greece was mistress of the world, and say,
Hast not thou, also, entered on a race,
My soul, in contest for "a Crown of Life"--
A prize thou canst not win except thine all
Thou givest! Then, be wise, and watch and pray,
Turn not thine eyes one instant from "the mark,"
For fear thou dash thy foot against some small,
Well-rounded truth, which in thy pride thou hast
O'erlooked, and thus thou stumble, fall; and though
Thou shouldst arise, 'twould be too late to win!
Ah, then, consider thy "forerunner," Christ;
Yea, call to mind the "cloud of witnesses"
Around--those noble, faithful ones of old--
And strip thyself, my soul, of every weight;
Gird up thy loins; make straight paths for thy feet;
Breathe deeply of the Spirit's conquering power;
And run with patient, meek, enduring zeal!
Almost thou hast attained, my soul! My soul--
Shall angels, principalities, or powers,
Or height, or depth, or other creature, draw
Thee from the goal so near? Ah, yes, so near,
The glory-light streams through the parting "vail"!
Have faith, press on! One effort, grand, supreme--
And thou hast won in death Love's blood-bought crown!
G. W. SEIBERT.
WATCH TOWER BIBLES
We cannot commend these too highly. Many of the friends are finding these Bibles more and more useful. We have them in two different styles and five different grades--the cheapest as low as $1.65, the very best and most complete at $3.50. Following is a description of each of the numbers and the size and style of type used:
BIBLE NO. 1918, PRICE $1.65 POSTPAID
Minion type, India paper, references, French seal (best sheep) binding, red under gold edges, silk head band and marker, linen lined, maps, TOWER and DAWN Comments, Instructor's Guide, Berean Topical Index, Difficult Texts Explained, Spurious passages noted. This additional matter fills 542 pages. Size, 5 x 7 x 1 inch.
BIBLE NO. 1928, PRICE $2.50 POSTPAID
This Bible is exactly the same as No. 1918, except that the leather is genuine Levant Morocco leather and leather lined. This should be a very durable binding-- fine-grained leather.
[Illustration of the scripture print appears here.]
THIS SIZE TYPE USED IN BIBLE NOS. 1918 AND 1928.
BIBLE NO. 1938, PRICE $3.00 POSTPAID
This Bible is of a larger size and of a bolder, blacker type. It is rather large for a pocket (5-1/2 x 7-1/2 x 1-1/4), but is light and convenient for handling. The helps are the same as in those described above. India paper, red under gold edges, silk head band and marker. These are bound only in the better leather, Levant Morocco, and are very durable. Sample of type below:
BIBLE NO. 1948, PRICE $3.25 POSTPAID
This Bible is exactly the same as No. 1938, except that it contains additionally the Bagster Bible Concordance, Index of Proper Names, Alphabetical Bible Index, etc. Size 5-1/2 x 7-1/2 x 1-1/2.
BIBLE NO. 1958, PRICE $3.50 POSTPAID
This Bible is exactly the same as 1948, except that it is bound in a still better leather, and is calf-lined to edge:
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THIS SIZE TYPE USED IN BIBLE NOS. 1938, 1948 AND 1958.
WATCH TOWER HELPS SEPARATE
About 570 pages, on India paper, French Morocco binding, $1.25 each postpaid; in cloth-binding, silver title imprint, 50 cents each. Our advice is that as the Bibles cost so little more all who can should procure them. Besides, it is very convenient to have the Scriptures and the helps under the same cover. Any regular TOWER reader who cannot purchase these helps, even in their cheapest form, may state his case to us, as a brother in Christ has kindly offered to supply a few of the cheaper kind to such.
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THE LIBERTY WHEREWITH CHRIST MAKES FREE
LIBERTY is a grand word, yet it does not always spell true blessing and happiness. In the `Second Psalm` we read of some who say, "Let us break their bands asunder" --let us be free. In Genesis we read of how Satan broke loose from the restraining hand of righteousness and made shipwreck of his eternal interests. We learn also of how he seduced Mother Eve and she persuaded Adam to break loose from the Divine restraints to eat of the forbidden fruit. The entire history of the Jewish nation is a narrative of rebellions against Divine regulations--temporary feelings of release and liberty and subsequent experiences of sorrow and repentance. Judas cut loose from bondage to his Master and the Divine providences represented in him. The thirty pieces of silver, the wage of his treachery, brought joy to his craven heart for but a little time. At last it ate as doth a canker and he wished it back and himself rid of the liberty into which he sold himself. St. Peter was unwillingly entrapped into denying his Master and asserting his liberty with oaths. But his loyal heart could find no rest in such liberty.
Should it surprise us that the Adversary still holds up the bait of liberty and leads the world into all kinds of excesses in the name of liberty? Should it surprise us that amongst God's people, too, he uses the same tactics --telling them that they are enslaved when they are obedient to the voice of God's Word and to the leadings of his providence? Is it surprising that he urges them to break the bands of the consecration and reassert their freedom? It is not strange! Nor is it peculiar that some, in leaving the Truth, are beginning a warfare against it--opposing the very harvest work which once they endorsed and co-operated with, betraying it, seeking to injure it, etc. When such boast of their new-found liberty we ask them, What liberty have you? The only answer can be that they feel relieved in being rid of their bonds of consecration to the Lord. Alas! they glory in their shame. What need we wonder if anger, malice, hatred, envy, strife, bitterness, back-biting, assassination, slander and murderous hatred take the place in their hearts and conduct, once filled by the spirit of brotherly kindness, meekness, gentleness, long-suffering?
Let all the children of the light, begotten of the holy Spirit, rejoice in the only liberty that is really a blessing, the liberty wherewith Christ makes free those who become his bond-servants. These are set free from the bondage of sin--envy, malice, strife, hatred and the murderous spirit. These are bound with cords of love to their Master and to the letter and spirit of his teachings-- bound to do good unto all men as they have opportunity, especially to the household of faith--bound to the altar of sacrifice with cords of devotion, strengthening as the days go by, even unto death; for such is the crown of life prepared.
BEREAN QUESTIONS IN SCRIPTURE STUDIES
Series VI., Study III.--The Call of The New Creation.
(56) What kind of faith justified the Ancient Worthies? P. 110.
(57) Explain the difference between the justification of the Ancient Worthies and the justification during the Gospel Age. P. 111, par. 1.
(58) What is the significance of justification to life (`Rom. 5:18`), and how does it affect the New Creation? P. 111, par. 2.
(59) What relation do the Ancient Worthies bear toward this justification to life? P. 111, par. 3. W.T.'10-132.
(60) Explain the principle underlying God's acceptance of our imperfect works. P. 112, par. 1.
(61) Explain the difference between the test of faith and the test of works, showing to what ages they respectively apply. P. 113, par. 1.
(62) Before whom is it necessary for the sinner to be justified? Explain why it is thus. P. 114, par. 1.
(63) Explain the different position of the Mediator with respect to sin and sinners. P. 114, par. 2.
(64) If all of our Redeemer's merit was involved in imputing to believers what their sacrifices lacked to make them holy and acceptable, what can he do for the world? And will he similarly impute his merit to the world? Or will he actually surrender it forever on the world's account? Will the Millennial Kingdom or Mediatorial Kingdom or Emergency Kingdom for man's uplift be the result of the imputation of Christ's merit or on account of the actual satisfaction of justice? P. 115, par. 1.
(65) Briefly explain the relation of the New Creation to the Abrahamic Covenant. P. 115, par. 2.
(66) What is evidently the sole object of the Gospel Age? P. 116, par. 1.
(67) What blessing is enjoyed by those who are simply "justified by faith," and refuse to consecrate? P. 116, par. 2.
(68) Explain how this class receive the grace of God in vain. P. 117, par. 1.
(69) What is evidently the condition of the whole nominal "Christian World" in this respect? P. 117, par. 2,3.
(70) Explain why the merely justified are unable to appreciate "the deep things of God." P. 118, par. 1.
(71) Would it be reasonable to expect that these should receive special favor in the Millennial Age? P. 118, par. 2.
(72) What three classes alone seem to be profited beyond the present life through this justification by faith? P. 119, par. 1.
(73) To whom will the Kingdom arrangements appeal most strongly at first? P. 119, par. 2.
(74) How is Christ made unto us Sanctification, and can any man sanctify himself aside from the merit of Christ? If not, explain why. P. 119, par. 3.
(75) Why is it necessary to "abide in Christ," and what is the significance of the text, "Our God is a consuming fire," in this connection? Pp. 120, 121.
(76) What does sanctification signify, and upon what class alone is it enjoined? P. 121, par. 1.
(77) Explain God's order with respect to sanctification. P. 122, top.
(78) Will sanctification be required of the world in the Millennial Age? P. 122, par. 1.
(79) While sanctification is a general principle for all God's creatures, to what class do the Scriptures especially apply this admonition? P. 123, par. 1,2.
(80) Explain the difference between the consecration of the Levites and that of the Priests, in the type, and give the antitypical application. P. 124, par. 1,2.
(81) Explain how a perfect compliance with the terms of our justification must lead us in the end to sanctification. P. 124, par. 3; P. 125, par. 1.
(82) What is the position of those believers who refuse the call to sacrifice? P. 125, par. 2.
(83) Describe the two classes of antitypical Levites. P. 126, par. 1,2,3.
(84) What is the test that will confirm the Great Company as worthy of the Levites' portion under the Kingdom? P. 127, par. 1,2.
(85) Who were Levi's three sons, and what were their positions with respect to the Tabernacle in the Wilderness? P. 128, par. 1.
(86) What four classes of justified humanity did these represent? P. 128, par. 2.
(87) State the respective order and rank of these antitypical Levites in the Kingdom. P. 129, par. 1.
(88) Explain why the refusal of any to go on to consecration could not justly merit punishment. P. 129, par. 2.
(89) Explain the antitypical significance of the Levites having no inheritance in the land of Canaan. P. 130, par. 2. W.T.'10-245.
(90) How did the types illustrate the fact that only the fully consecrated, spirit-begotten believers are counted members of the Great High Priest? P. 131, par. 1.
STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES
SERIES I., The Plan of the Ages, gives an outline of the Divine plan revealed in the Bible, relating to man's redemption and restitution: 386 pages, in embossed cloth, 25c. (1s. 1/2d.) India paper edition, 75c. (3s. 1-1/2d.).
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