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VOL. XVII. APRIL 1, 1896. No. 7
Special Items……………………………… 62
Views from the Tower………………………… 63
The Reward of the Righteous………………… 65
Love Not the World………………………… 66
“My Soul, be on thy Guard”…………………… 67
After the Order of Melchisedec……………… 68
Laying On of Hands………………………… 69
Bible Study: Parable of the Great Supper……………………………… 70
Bible Study: The Prodigal Received………… 71
Encouraging Letters………………………… 72
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SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
TOWER PUBLISHING CO., BIBLE HOUSE, 58 & 60 ARCH ST.,
ALLEGHENY (NORTH PITTSBURG), PA., U.S.A.
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INCLUDES A SUBSCRIPTION TO “THE OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS”—QUARTERLY.
MONEY MAY BE SENT BY EXPRESS, N.Y. DRAFT, MONEY ORDER,
OR REGISTERED. FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN
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Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accident, or other adversity are unable to pay for the TOWER will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
THE Passover Memorial celebration at Allegheny was a very enjoyable and impressive event. It was good to be there, we believe was the verdict of all present;—about one hundred and fifty. The dear ones scattered abroad were remembered. We trust that they all had the Master’s blessing as we enjoyed it.
WHAT SAY THE SCRIPTURES ABOUT HELL?
THIS pamphlet of 80 pages, a special issue of the OLD THEOLOGY QUARTERLY, examines every text of Scripture in which the word “hell” is found, and related passages. Extra copies furnished to subscribers at ten cents each, or seventy-five cents per dozen, or six dollars per hundred,—postpaid.
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NO SPECIAL FAVOR ASKED
THE friends of the cause who responded to our suggestion for prayers for tract work, and in petitioning the Postmaster General and the members of Congress, will be pleased to learn that one of the objectionable rulings of the P.O. Dep’t. has been suspended for sixty days from March 19, meantime expecting some new laws from Congress. This lets the Old Theology Tracts go out at “pound rates” for the period mentioned. All who need tracts, especially friends at a distance, should order before the expiration of the period named. State particularly what quantities you can use judiciously. The DAWNS are still under embargo. Continue your prayers with ours for such privileges as the Lord may be pleased to grant.
Two of our readers seemed to misunderstand the phraseology of the cards which we suggested should be sent to Congressmen. They got the impression that we were asking legislation specially favorable to religious literature, and feared that this would be asking the state to support the church. They were mistaken. The Act of Congress of July 16, ’94, extends special privileges to Benevolent Societies, Literary Societies and Lodges, of one thousand members or more. The framers of the law no doubt thought that the word literary would include religious literature, which should out-rank all other literature. But since the P.O. Dep’t. does not so interpret the law, our request of Congress is that they specify religious literature, and thus put it on the same footing with lodge literature. This is not asking a special favor for religion, but simple equality and justice. We assume that the American people are not willing to put religion at a disadvantage. Such of the friends as have had favorable responses from Congressmen might, if they please, reply to them, and call special attention to the lack of explicitness in the Act of July 16, ’94, and request that it be amended to specify religious literature. There is still time for more petitions from those who have not yet sent them in.
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER
A FEVERISH ambition, pride and sensitiveness seems to be growing amongst nations as well as amongst individuals. Every one seems more than ever ready for a conflict on any and every pretext. During the short space of this year 1896, several immense wars have narrowly been averted,—between Russia and Japan, between Turkey and the combined powers of Europe, between Great Britain and the United States, between Great Britain and Germany and between the United States and Spain backed possibly by France; besides a number of smaller affairs. While pride and self-confidence have had to do with all these dangers of wars, fear of the terrible implements of modern warfare has doubtless had much to do with the avoidance of actual combat. But the pent up ambition and military feeling of Europe is finding a field for exercise in Africa, and British, Italian and French troops are finding plenty to do; while Spain has her hands overfull with Cuba; the Turks are conquering to death the Armenian Christians who refuse to become Mohammedans, and Russia is getting ready to seize Corea.
How unlike is all this to what might have been hoped for as the result of eighteen centuries of Christian instruction. Humanly speaking it seems as though we were getting farther and farther away from the promised era of “peace on earth, good will toward men.” How strange their own attitudes must seem to so-called Christian kingdoms!
Thank God, our hopes of peace do not rest upon the expectation that the natural man, either individually or nationally, will grow just and merciful and loving and generous and peaceable. We find no ground for such hopes. On the contrary, it is still as true as eighteen centuries ago that the natural man appreciates not the things of the spirit of God, but is at enmity to them because they curb his desires and condemn his attitude and ambitions. It is still true that the carnal heart is boastful, proud, envious, vain-glorious, and that the carnally minded are despisers of them that are good (meek, loving, peaceable, etc.), and full of hatred and strife.
No, thank God! our good hope of good things near at hand rests on a more reasonable basis—on the promised establishment of a strong, as well as a just and merciful, government—of God’s Kingdom in the hands of the King of glory,—the Prince of the kings of the earth. To the rightly instructed these various signs, unfavorable to peace, are really harbingers of peace, since they corroborate the
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declarations of God’s Word, that the reign of the Prince of Peace will be introduced by an unprecedented time of trouble and national and social disruption.
In view of the general prevalence of the proud, boastful, self seeking and combative spirit (2 Tim. 3:1-5), let us who are seeking to walk close to the Lord, remember and continually practise the Apostle’s injunction, “So far as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
* * *
As we read recently of the gathering of a rough element outside a Presbyterian church in Chicago, probably drawn by curiosity to witness the drill of the Boy’s Brigade, how they misused the janitor who attempted to quiet and disperse them, and how then the boy-soldiers came out and with fixed bayonets charged upon and dispersed the crowd, sustaining some slight bruises from sticks and stones, we were reminded of our Lord’s words,—”They that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”—Matt. 26:52.
Neither the boys nor their religious instructors probably foresee the results of their present course. The blending of carnal with spiritual warfare is impossible, and such a course is sure to cultivate, more and more, the carnal
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mind. In the troublous times coming, the poor as well as the vicious will be only too ready to conclude that religion and civil government are banded together for their oppression. True Christians should keep themselves and their children free from all such evil entanglements.
The Governors of some of the States are requiring all companies of the Boy’s Brigade to take the oath of allegiance to the state, the same as the Militia; because, according to law, others are not allowed to drill with firearms.
* * *
Mr. T. V. Powderly, formerly the chief executive of a powerful social order known as the Knights of Labor reports a tour among some churches thus:
At the Episcopalian church “the minister was a good speaker. He spoke of church repairs and parsonage repairs. He spoke 45 minutes and never spoke of Christ nor his work. In our cathedral [Powderly is a Roman Catholic] the priest told the people to be good, but nothing of Christ—not a word. I went to the Presbyterian church and to every church in the city—all the same story: all for man, not one word about God; not one word to help the poor man.”
The need of to-day is the same as eighteen centuries ago. Our Master gave it as a sign of his Messiahship that “the poor have the gospel preached to them.” We are told that “the common people heard him gladly.” Now, as then, the chief priests and scribes and Pharisees have mistaught the poor, that after a life of trouble here ninety-nine of every hundred will find it worse hereafter, until the common people distrust and despise such bad tidings of great misery, falsely called gospel—good tidings.
We advise co-laborers to search for the Lord’s jewels among the humble. Remember the Apostle’s words: Ye know your calling, brethren, how that not many great or wise or rich are called, but [chiefly] the poor, rich in faith.—James 2:5; 1 Cor. 1:26-29.
* * *
The new X-ray is proving still more wonderful, in the new art of shadowgraph. Mr. Edison’s latest announcement is that by placing a human being before a mineral coated screen he can pass the rays of light through the body so as to show the bones mirrored on the screen. By removing the subject further from the screen the bones become invisible, and the various organs are mirrored.
Truly, as our Master foretold, we seem to be approaching a time when “every secret thing shall be made manifest.” (Mark. 4:22; Eccl. 12:14; Matt. 10:26; 1 Cor. 4:5.) As a railway passenger remarked, recently, “A man needs to be very good these days or his sin, however secret, will find him out and expose him.”
Could we always remember that by powers yet more subtle than X-rays,—
“God our inmost thoughts doth read,”
it would help us all to walk carefully, so that the “words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts” might be acceptable to our Lord.
Quite probably the restored man of the Millennial period will have considerable of the power of mind reading, and intuitive discernment, over the imperfect; as our Lord could read the thoughts of the Pharisees. And quite probably this will occasion a portion at least of the “shame and lasting contempt” of the awakened wicked. (Dan. 12:2.) Their mean, grovelling dispositions, debased by selfish indulgences, will shame them in their progress back to manhood, while it will serve as a lesson to others not so degraded.
* * *
Mr. Rockefeller, one of the principal stockholders of the Standard Oil Company, recently received his quarterly dividend check for four million dollars.
What a responsibility, what a care, what a burden, what a stewardship, what an accounting to the Lord is implied in this wealth!
The Apostle says, “Charge them that are rich among you [they are not likely to be of you, for not many great or rich hath God called to joint-heirship with Christ], that they trust not in uncertain riches.” Let us not be envious of those who have wealth, but sympathetic. The possession of wealth brings with it temptations to make it a treasure, a god. In many ways the position of the comparatively poor is far more favorable to grace. It is easier for them to cultivate meekness, patience, humility, brotherly kindness and all the graces of the spirit. Our Lord summed up the matter when he said, “How hardly [with what difficulty] shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!” Yet there were none rich in that day in comparison with the very rich of to-day.
Our Lord’s words are applicable to all in proportion as they have the “good things” of this world. Let each be faithful in his stewardship; for he that is unfaithful in a little charge would be unfaithful to a greater trust. The demand of the Law upon the Jew was—one tenth of all his increase. The test of discipleship to Christ is the consecration of all that we possess, principal and increase, money, influence, time and talent, to be used as his stewardship,—
“To be used in joyful service,
For the glory of our King.”
In contrast with the wealth of some, note the fact that upon the lists of the WATCH TOWER are over three thousand too poor in this world’s goods to pay for it, to whom it is provided out of the Tract Fund. Nevertheless, to some of these “poor” God has granted the “riches of his grace;” and has made them “rich in faith” and heirs of his coming Kingdom. To such of them as shall prove faithful to the end of their course he sends word through his Apostle, “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” Yes, thank God! many of these have received from the Lord a wealth of exceeding great and precious promises, the understanding and appreciation of which are beyond all price.
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Dismissing the question of whether or not a man can possess such enormous wealth honestly (for this dividend is only the interest, not the principal, and represents only one of Mr. Rockefeller’s large investments) and supposing that every cent of it came justly: supposing also that Mr. R. is very charitable and generous, and uses his stewardship wisely, the question remains, Is there not something radically wrong with our present social and business laws and customs, when they leave it possible for one man to amass so great wealth while many find it impossible to earn a living?
True, the laws are alike for all, and in one sense all have the same chance; but all are not equally endowed with perceptive and reasoning powers and judgment and acquisitive propensities; hence “the strong [mentally, physically and spiritually] ought [as a matter of equity] to bear the infirmities of the weak.” (Rom. 15:1.) And the laws should compensate, somewhat, for mental and physical inequalities of the race. But such laws will never be enacted. Why? Because the well-to-do are strong-minded, forceful men, and the same intellectual activity and power which enables them to acquire more than average proportions of this world’s goods make them the natural leaders, lawmakers and rulers of the less forceful; and it would be like “making water run up hill” to reverse this natural condition.
But would not Love solve the problem? Yes; Love could solve the problem; but Love is not natural to the fallen race: Selfishness is the rule and law of life with all the fallen sons of Adam—except the few who have become new creatures in Christ, with whom Love is become the law of their hearts, and, so far as they are able, the controlling power in their mortal bodies also. (These, however, are a “little flock,” and not a factor in the problem.) There is, therefore, no hope of a radical reform in this direction, unless we can convert the hearts of at least a majority of those who are able to profit by the present “free for all” race for wealth; and the Scriptures assure us that they are the class most difficult to touch with the Truth and its spirit.
Is there then no hope? Yes, thank God! “Be patient brethren, the coming of the Lord [in the full glory of his Kingdom] draweth nigh.” (Jas. 5:8.) He shall help the
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poor and the needy; and in his day equity and the righteous shall flourish. (Psa. 72:11-14.) He will exalt the humble and abase the proud, and cause the general levelling of society; and all the families of the earth shall be blest. The short, terrible struggle incident to the fall of the “powers that be” and the general spoliation of the present social structure (Mark 3:27) will be indeed a dark night, between now and the glorious Millennium of divine favor, in which the rich will “howl” for the loss of their treasures (Jas. 5:1); but doubtless many of them will then begin to search for the true riches, which moth and rust do not corrupt and which thieves cannot steal. Let us therefore have great sympathy for those who mistakenly are trusting in uncertain riches and are overlooking the riches of divine grace.
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THE REWARD OF THE RIGHTEOUS
“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.”—Dan. 12:3.
IN CONSIDERING who are the wise here referred to we are forcibly reminded of Paul’s significant inquiry—”Where is the wise? where is the scribe [who boasts of his wisdom]? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching [i.e., the preaching of this foolishness] to save them that believe.” (1 Cor. 1:20,21.) And these believers are the truly wise ones to whom the Prophet makes reference.
Those who so thoroughly believe the testimony of God as to yield themselves fully to his will are wise indeed. They have prudently chosen that good part which shall not be taken from them. In this present evil world, it is true that, like their Lord, they have tribulation; but if they endure it as good soldiers, faithful unto death, their eternal reward is sure. The reward promised is beyond this vale of tears, and the valley of the shadow of death. Then these that suffered here, meekly bearing the reproach of Christ; who took up their cross daily, and followed him; who nobly adhered to the principles of truth and righteousness, and faithfully conformed their lives thereto; who delighted themselves in the Lord, and daily meditated in his law; who devoted themselves faithfully to the doing of his will, sacrificing their own,—these shall by and by shine forth as the sun, as the brightness of the firmament, in the Kingdom of their Father.
O, weary ones, look up; sad hearts, be glad; for even now your deliverance is nigh, even at the doors! Soon the sorrows of this earthly pilgrimage will be ended, and your glory will appear.
It is a very noticeable fact, that the nearer we approach to the consummation of our glorious hopes, the opposition of the powers of darkness grows more and more severe as well as more subtle. And those who walk by faith alone must indeed have a very strong faith to be able to wage a successful warfare to the end, and win the victor’s crown of glory. To this end, dearly beloved, let us keep these precious promises of God ever in mind. “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
While this glory that excelleth is to be manifested by and by in the overcoming gospel Church, there is a lesser,
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but nevertheless a great, glory to be manifested in all the lovers and doers of righteousness in all the ages past. Faithful Noah, a preacher and doer of righteousness; faithful Abraham, with whom the Lord’s will was always paramount; faithful Enoch and Elijah and Moses and Aaron and Joshua and Caleb, and a host of others, of whom the world was not worthy, shall by and by gleam forth in the earthly phase of the Kingdom of God, as the stars forever and ever.
When righteousness is finally established in the earth, and men have learned to appreciate the pure, the beautiful and the good, when generous love shall have displaced all selfishness, then indeed will the good deeds and blessed influences of those who, in the midst of sin and wickedness, sought to turn many to righteousness, come into remembrance and receive from all men their just reward of appreciation and praise. They shall shine as the stars forever and ever.
How refreshing the prospect of the glorious consummation of the divine plan! Let us rejoice and be glad, and daily strive to prove ourselves worthy of the glory promised to them that love God, to the called according to his purpose.
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LOVE NOT THE WORLD
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”—1 John 2:15.
ONE can scarcely read this advice of the Apostle John without having another scripture suggested to his mind, which, at first sight, may seem contradictory; viz, “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” The two, however, are not antagonistic, but are in full harmony when rightly understood. If God so loved the world, even while they were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8), as to sacrifice the dearest treasure of his heart in order to redeem and save them, then such love and such benevolence toward the world on our part cannot be out of harmony with his will. Indeed, such is the direct teaching of the Word. “Do good to all men as you have opportunity;” “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. … Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”—Matt. 5:44-48.
To love the world as God loves it, is not the sentiment against which the Apostle warns the Church, as the context clearly shows. That is a grand and ennobling love—a love which stands on the high plane of purity, and without having the least fellowship with the impure, nevertheless pities the fallen, and is active in efforts to rescue them from their degradation. This divine love, so worthy of our imitation, is that which benevolently ignores personal antagonisms and animosities, and, overleaping all selfish considerations and vengeful feelings, considers only the possibilities and the ways and means for peace and reformation and salvation.
But the love of the world to which John refers, as the context shows, is the love of fellowship, which implies the partaking of its spirit—its aims, ambitions and hopes, and its methods of pursuing them. If any man love the world in this sense, surely the love of the Father is not in him; “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world [i.e., according to the spirit of this present evil world]. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”
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As children of God we have been called to a position of great favor and advantage. Our Heavenly Father has revealed to us his plans and purposes and has condescended to take us into his fellowship and active cooperation; and so grand and extensive is our outlook of the future that we are able to view the present life in a very different light from that in which the world views it. The world walks on in darkness without the light of life, and consequently to them the things of this present life, which we have learned to count but as dross, are to them of great value, and they strive and run and contend for the delusive prizes that bring with them only labor and sorrow and quickly pass away.
The Apostle has very briefly summed up the world’s treasures as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The lust of the flesh includes all the fleshly appetites and passions, the merely animal instincts. To these thousands sacrifice all the higher interests. To fare sumptuously in eating and drinking and frolic and pleasure is their delight. The lust of the eyes demands luxury in dress and home appointments, and the gathering for self-gratification of all that is admired and desired. And the pride of life glories in the shame of that selfishness which has ignored the wants and woes of the needy and suffering, and complacently said to self, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry.” And it goes further: it despises the poor and needy and oppresses them.
Such is the spirit of this world. It is the very opposite of the spirit of God and of Christ; and those who are led of the spirit of God should keep as far from it as possible. Their conduct, their dress, their home-life and home appointments must all speak a different language. We are to mind not high things, but to condescend to men of low estate; to show no preference to the man that wears
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the fine clothing or the gold ring, but, like our Master, to regard with highest esteem and Christian love those who do the will of our Heavenly Father.—Rom. 12:16; James 2:1-5.
“God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is love with us made perfect [completed] that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he [God] is, so are we in this world.” As God is love, and is so manifested to all his creatures, so ought we to be love, and thus to shine as lights in the world. And if in this world we become living embodiments and representatives of love, we may be confident that at the end of our course we will stand approved before Him who seeks above all things to see in us this likeness to himself.—1 John 4:16-18.
To fellowship the world is to walk in harmony with its ideas and to conform to its ways. In this sense we may not love it, but must be apart from it and in opposition to it. The way thus pointed out to us is, in some respects at least, a difficult way, and a lonely way; but it is the only way of peace and lasting happiness. This world with the lust thereof is rapidly passing away: it is hollow and unsatisfying and eventually leads to disaster and ruin; but those whose delight is in the Lord’s way have blessed communion and fellowship with him. Their joys come from a source which the world cannot comprehend. They live on a higher plane, breathe a purer atmosphere and enjoy a holier, sweeter friendship than the world could ever offer.
But if any man in Christ descend from these high privileges to partake of the poor substitutes which the world has to offer, he is thereby proving his lack of appreciation, and hence his unworthiness of the heavenly things: the love of the Father is not in him; and he may well fear the verdict of the day of decision.
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“MY SOUL, BE ON THY GUARD”
WHILE, as the Apostle predicted, “perilous times” are upon us, in which some in the Church will “stumble” and some “fall,” and when “the love of many shall wax cold,” let us not forget that it is “he that endureth [faithfully] to the end [of his trial], the same shall be saved.” Remember the Apostle’s advice, to take trials and oppositions and misrepresentations cheerfully, joyously, patiently, knowing that, so endured, they will “work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” But, as the Apostle adds, to secure such blessed results from trials, persecutions and oppositions, we must remember to “look not at the things that are seen [earthly things and prospects], but at things that are unseen [the heavenly and eternal things].” We are to endure “as seeing him who is invisible.” Greater is he that is with us than all that be against us. (Heb. 11:27; 1 John 4:4-8.) “Who is he that will harm you [really], if ye be followers of that which is good?” (Read 1 Pet. 3:13-16; Rom. 8:31-39.) The opposition of evil can work only good to “the elect,” those who are called according to God’s purpose. To all who are of the true Zion the promise is, “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper.”
When that noble servant of God, John Wesley, was zealous in opposing Satan, and preaching a full consecration to God, he provoked Satan’s enmity, and the latter found mouthpieces amongst ambitious and jealous “false brethren” who spread abroad vile rumors from time to time, not only assailing his teachings, but even his moral character. His plan was to make no defence. He argued that if he should engage in personal disputes it would be just what Satan would want—a hindrance to his work. Finally, however, when a most malicious rumor, reflecting on his moral character, was started by some prominent persons, and the entire work seemed likely to be greatly injured by it, his brother Charles and some others came to him, and said, John, you must answer this charge or your reputation is gone.
John replied in substance thus,—No; I will keep right along with my work. When I consecrated myself to the Lord, I gave him my reputation as well as all else that I possess. The Lord is at the helm! Our Lord Jesus, by his faithfulness, “made himself of no reputation,” and was crucified as a blasphemer and between outlaws, yet he opened not his mouth! No, I will make no defense. A certain class, evil at heart, would believe the evil reports regardless of my denials; and those thus alienated will no doubt, as in the early Church, go “out from us because they were not of us.” “The Lord knoweth them that are his,” and will keep his own; and none shall pluck them out of his hand. Besides, the Lord may see that some are thinking of me, rather than of him and his message which I seek to declare.
The results we all know. The message of holiness with faith swept over the world, and its influence is not yet lost. And John Wesley is still loved for his work’s sake in every civilized part of the world; but his traducers are forgotten. There is a lesson in this for all, as an illustration of the Lord’s words—”In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.”
Wherefore, dearly beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which shall try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.—1 Pet. 4:12,13.
Remembering that the Passover season is always one of Satanic activity and of special trial to God’s people, we are praying for the dear flock, and for ourselves, as did our Master for Peter,—that faith fail not, and that whatever trials may come may only draw the sheep nearer to each other and to the great Chief Shepherd. But we should distinguish between the weak ones, and the wilfully wicked, like Judas. The former should be prayed for and helped, the latter should be left entirely to the Lord’s judgment.
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AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEC
“Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek.”—Psa. 110:4.
A PRIEST, in the only true sense, is a mediator between God and fallen creatures, the object of such mediation being to restore and establish harmony on a legal basis.
The office of the priest or mediator between God and man is to restore to perfection and consequent harmony with God a race of human beings condemned to death, and already dead or dying. Hence this priest must of necessity be “mighty to save.” (Psa. 89:19.) He must have both the right and the power to recall the dead to life, and ability to instruct and discipline, and thus to lead every willing subject back to the perfect estate from which Adam and the race in him fell. To secure this right he must first satisfy the demands of Justice, which required the extinction of the human race; and these demands of Justice could only be met by a corresponding sacrifice—a human life for a human life. The life of Adam and all in him could be redeemed only by another perfect human being. And so it was—”Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead.” (1 Cor. 15:21.) By the sacrifice of a perfect human existence is secured the right of the priest to restore.
But beyond the right or privilege of restoring, the priest must have the power, and power would of necessity presuppose his own everlasting existence. He must have power to create, since to restore to being that which had completely lost existence is to re-create it, and is a greater work even than the first creation; he must also have perfect knowledge, both of God’s requirements and of human necessities, as well as perfect ability to guide a race so destitute back to the glorious heights of perfection and blessed harmony and communion with God.
What an office! Who would presume to assume such a title? It belongs really and only to Jehovah’s Anointed. Even Jesus, “the Anointed One, did not glorify himself to become a high priest,” but he has “been declared by God a high priest according to the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5:4,5,10—Diaglott.) Jehovah honored him by inviting him to that position, and giving him all power to fill it. In harmony with God’s plan, not only has Jesus, his Anointed one, been chosen as the chief, or high priest, but the “little flock,” who follow him in sacrifice now, are called to be joint-heirs with him in the same honor. “If we suffer with him we shall also be glorified together.” Jesus alone is the great High Priest; but the Gospel Church, redeemed by his death and associated with him now in sacrifice, and to be associated with him in divine power hereafter, is counted in with him, and, together with him, will constitute the great Prophet, Priest and King promised, to liberate and bless the groaning creation—the Seed of promise.—Gen. 22:18; 28:14; Gal. 3:29; Acts 3:20-23; Psa. 110:4.
From these considerations it should be plain to all that our High Priest is truly a King, in whose hands absolute power is vested. And in looking back to the types God has given us, we find Melchisedec, to whom we are cited as an illustration of this priesthood both by the Psalmist and by the Apostle Paul. (Psa. 110:4; Heb. 5:5,10.) They show that Melchisedec, who was a priest upon his throne, represented the Christ in glory and power, while in the Aaronic Priesthood the special features of the redemptive sacrifice were shadowed forth—its perfection, its completeness, its acceptableness, as also the share which the Church has with Christ in that sacrifice.
Christ was not constituted a priest of the Aaronic order: that priesthood was only the type or figure. The Aaronic priesthood sprang from the tribe of Levi, while “our Lord [according to the flesh] sprang from the tribe of Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood;” and the members of his body, the Church, are chosen chiefly from among the Gentiles. As a man, Jesus was not a priest, neither as men are the saints members of the royal priesthood; but as “new creatures” they hold and execute their office. Jesus as a “new creature,” “partaker of the divine nature” (to which he was begotten at the time of his baptism), was the priest, and as a priest he offered up his perfect human nature an acceptable sacrifice to God. He consecrated or offered himself in sacrifice on becoming the priest, and he received a special anointing for the office which was necessary to enable him to accomplish the sacrifice as well as to apply its benefits to men. His human nature, when sacrificed, could do nothing more; it must remain a sacrifice forever; but the new nature, fully developed in the resurrection, has “all power in heaven and in earth.”—Matt. 28:18.
The priestly office of the new nature is not of the Aaronic order: it does not trace its lineage to any human source. This fact is strikingly typified in the priesthood of Melchisedec, whose lineage and death are not recorded. He was a priest without having inherited the office from his father or his mother—thus typifying Christ’s priesthood, which came not of the lineage of the flesh, as did the Aaronic priesthood, which Israel thought to be the real. Neither was Melchisedec’s death recorded, nor a successor named (Heb. 7:3, Diaglott), that thus might be typified the continuity of Christ’s priesthood. In this type the work of sacrifice is not shown, as Melchisedec represents the Christ glorified and reigning after the work of sacrifice has been completed, and the divine nature fully perfected.
In Heb. 7:4-10 Melchisedec is declared to be greater than Abraham, thus showing that the divine Christ will be greater, and therefore able to bless every “friend of God” on the human plane.
“Wherefore he [Christ] is able to save them to the
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uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens [lifted higher than the highest—to the divine nature].” (Heb. 7:25-27.) And this blessed assurance of such a priest, so mighty to save, is confirmed unto us by the oath of Jehovah. (Heb. 7:21; Psa. 110:4.) What strong consolation, then, may those have, who have fled to Jehovah’s Anointed for refuge: “Jehovah has sworn, and will not repent. Thou art a priest forever after the order of [or typified by] Melchisedec.” What believer, justified by faith, who has offered himself as a living sacrifice, may not read his title clear to joint-heirship with the Head in that glorious anointed body? He is authorized and is able to save completely all that come unto God by him now, as well as all who shall hear and come in the Millennium.
“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High-Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; … for we have become associates of the Anointed, if indeed we hold fast the beginning of our confidence, firm to the end.”—Heb. 3:1,14, Diaglott.
We conclude then, that while the Aaronic priesthood furnishes typical illustrations of the sacrifices and sufferings of Christ and the blessings to follow, it did not completely illustrate the glorious, everlasting and unchangeable character of his priesthood during the Millennial age; and for this cause Melchisedec was presented as a type, that thus might be shown his glorious office of priest and king—a priest upon his throne. Here, too, the body of Christ is no longer shown as separate individuals, but as one, complete. In the work of sacrifice we have seen the head or chief priest and the under priests more or less separately sacrificing, as represented in Aaron and the under priests; but all will unitedly share in the future glory represented in Melchisedec alone.
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LAYING ON OF HANDS
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—From the TOWER for Nov. 15, ’95, I was gratified to find that your mind and investigation upon the subject of “Order in the Church” coincides so exactly with our own. Before seeing anything from you at all on the subject, the Church here realized the necessity of more order, and was forced to examine the whole subject with the result you state.
There is one item, however, that you seem to have overlooked or thought not necessary to discuss, upon which I greatly desire to have your opinion; that is, in regard to the custom of “laying on hands.”
I agree with you heartily in its being the best to follow the “pattern” as closely as possible, and in doing so I cannot avoid the conclusion that the recognition of God’s gifts is expressed by the solemn formula of laying on hands of the presbytery. Now, if my conclusions are erroneous,
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please help me out. If in your understanding they are wrong, please explain the following texts: Acts 6:6; 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22. Are the terms “bishop” and “elder” synonymous?
I am aware that in this ordinance the early Church conferred no special power, that it set up over them no ruler or lord; but did not this formula make the “elder” or “bishop” a representative or servant of those who lay on hands? We hope that your opinion, which we greatly respect, may help us out on this question.
We have appointed three “elders”—one who takes oversight of the work at this place and two who work in the adjacent localities, I being one of the latter. I say appointed, but no hands have been laid on us; but the question is now being discussed by the brethren, and comes up for final settlement shortly.
With fraternal love for you and yours, I remain,
[REPLY:—According to the Scripture use of the term the word “presbytery” signifies a “company of elders,” the word coming from the Greek word which signifies “old man.” The word “bishop” signifies “overseer,” and is used with reference to elders in Acts 20:28, and is evidently another name for the elders mentioned in Phil. 1:1. The reference of 1 Tim. 5:22 may possibly be to ordination by laying on of hands; but this is uncertain.
With regard to the laying on of hands of the presbytery (that is, the eldership) upon Timothy: the eldership in this case probably referred to the Apostles who were still living. Timothy was chosen by Paul as his successor to carry on the work which he began, and he evidently desired that the Apostles in general should recognize Timothy. Besides it was the custom in those days for the Apostles to lay hands upon all who believed, and thus to communicate to them a gift of the spirit. Paul reminds Timothy that he had received such a gift. In evidence that only the Apostles could confer these gifts we recall the fact that Simon Magus offered the Apostles money in exchange for the power that they possessed, so that upon whomsoever he might lay hands he would receive a gift of the spirit. We remember also the case mentioned in Acts 19:6, also Acts 8:12-19, in which it is shown that although Philip (the evangelist) had preached Christ to the Samaritans, and they had believed and been baptized, yet Philip did not lay hands upon them nor communicate the holy spirit, but sent word to Peter and John who were apostles, and who went down and prayed with them and communicated the gifts of the spirit.
All of this seems to indicate clearly that only the apostles had the power to communicate these gifts of the spirit, although the apostles might very properly be called, and did call themselves, elders or presbyters. But since they are no longer living there are none who can convey the gifts of the spirit by the laying on of hands.
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But notice that in the early Church the laying on of hands was used also to indicate consent; as, for instance, in the case of the Church at Antioch when it chose Paul and Barnabas to be its missionaries and representatives in Gospel work. This congregation fasted and prayed and laid their hands upon Paul and Barnabas, and thus sent them away. The laying on of hands in this case did not imply the communication of any gift, but merely denoted representation, as in the case of the priests of old, when the offerer laid his hands upon the animal before it was slain, it represented that the animal or person upon whom the hands were laid was thenceforth recognized as the representative of the person who laid hands upon it or him. Thus the congregation at Antioch sent forth two from their midst as their representatives in the work. No doubt they also furnished them money for their travel, and after they had performed their journey Paul and Barnabas returned to the Church at Antioch and gave them a report of the work done as their representatives as well as the Lord’s representatives.—See Acts 14:26,27; Also 15:3.
Applying these things to the present time we would say: In Europe and America the custom of laying on hands to indicate representation is no longer followed, just as kissing among men is no longer a custom, although both customs are still in vogue in the far East. We suggest, therefore, that in our judgment the choosing and fasting and prayer are still the proper acts in connection with the congregational recognition of the elders—whether local or traveling; but that the laying on of hands, which could communicate no gift of the spirit, and which in the custom of our country no longer indicates representation, is no longer the proper thing. Indeed, we consider it the improper thing in view of the customs and practices in general, because it would be liable to be misunderstood, and to give the impression that the users hold the theory in common with many that an apostolic succession has been continued with power to authorize and commission and to imbue the subjects with supernatural abilities; for instance, as do the Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, Episcopalians, Mormons and to a lesser extent nearly all other denominations.]
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PARABLE OF THE GREAT SUPPER
—APRIL 12.—Luke 14:15-24.—
Golden Text—”Come, for all things are now ready.”—Luke 14:17.
THE feast of this parable is not the feast of Isa. 25:6. That is to be a feast for all people and points forward to the Millennial age and its blessings, when the Kingdom of God will be established for the blessing of all the families of the earth:—”And in this mountain [Kingdom] shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” That will be a feast of joy and gladness such as earth has never known, the blessed tidings of which were proclaimed by angel messengers at the birth of Christ, through whom the invitation and privilege of admittance was to be extended to all mankind. “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people.”
But the feast of this parable is one to which only a select number are invited. It is a feast which was announced as ready at the beginning of the Gospel age. John the Baptist first announced it to the Jewish nation, saying, “Repent ye; for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2.) And after him came Jesus of Nazareth, saying, “The time is fulfilled [—”all things are now ready”] and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye and believe the gospel [the good news of the great feast now ready].” (Mark 1:15.) It is noticeable also that while this feast was announced as ready in the beginning of the Gospel age, and that while the bountiful board has been spread for a select company all through this age, the feast for “all people” is foretold as a thing future—after the great time of trouble (Isa. 25:1-4), when great Babylon will have been destroyed.
Both of these feasts consist of the good things pertaining to the Kingdom of God; but the difference is that the feast of this Gospel age pertains to the spiritual phase of the Kingdom, while that of the age to come will pertain to the earthly Kingdom. The feast now spread is for the elect Gospel Church, while that of the Millennium is for “all people”—all the willing and obedient.
If it be asked, Of what good things does this feast consist? the reply is suggested by the Psalmist (Psa. 34:8), “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” And Peter adds, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word so that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Pet. 2:3.) Those who have a mere curiosity interest to know what good things are found upon the table of the Lord can never know. Only those who come with sincere hearts to taste and see for themselves can ever know. Theirs is the “hidden manna.” They have “meat to eat” that others “know not of;” for “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” Unto them “it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven”—the mystery which was kept secret since the world began.—Rev. 2:17; John 4:32; Psa. 25:14; Matt. 13:11,35.
It is their blessed privilege to know and realize their relationship to Christ as his prospective bride and joint-heir, and, as his betrothed, to hold sweet communion with him here. And they may feast continually upon the glorious hope of living and reigning with him, of seeing him as he is, and being made like him, and of inheriting with him the spiritual phase of the Kingdom of God, being partakers with him also of the divine, immortal nature. Words can never make manifest to uncircumcised hearts the blessedness of the privileges of the saints at “the table of the Lord,” even amidst the trials and difficulties of the present life and its warfare with the powers of darkness. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over;” for the glorious fellowship with Christ hereafter has its joyful beginning even here, in the fellowship of his sufferings and his cross.
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Only those are invited to this table of the Lord—this feast of spiritual blessings, of communion and fellowship with God, of a knowledge of the deep things of God, the exceeding great and precious promises, and of joy in cooperating with him in his plan of salvation—who desire to
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forsake all other tables; for “Ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils.” (1 Cor. 10:21). Only deeply appreciative ones are desired at this feast.—those who will gladly forsake all to enjoy the favor. Our Lord Jesus expressed this fact forcibly when he said: “If any man come to me and hate not [love not less] his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. … Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”—Luke 14:26,27,33.
Those who do cheerfully and of their own free will comply with these conditions are privileged to come to the table of the Lord and to partake of his bounties. But the realization of these conditions is the explanation of the indifference and even opposition of many who hear the call. They are not willing to sacrifice the business prospects of the present life, the social ties, etc. They consider the cost, and prefer to be excused. Such will never taste of the supper.
The parable shows three classes called: (1) Those originally invited; i.e., those of Israel who, having respect to their covenant, were striving to keep the Law, and thus to attain to all that God had promised (the “elder brother” class of the parable of the prodigal son). To this class belonged the Kingdom favors by divine covenant, if they had appreciated and accepted them; but the strait gate and narrow way repelled them and they excused themselves, and were excused. (2) The class of the streets and lanes of the city represents the publican and sinner class of Israel—the prodigal-son class, of which some came, and, accepting the terms, left all to follow the Lord. But that remnant was not sufficient—not the full number which God had foreknown and predestinated should be the elect number to constitute the Kingdom class of joint-heirs with Christ. Hence (3) the Lord sent forth the message to the Gentiles—outside the city, outside of Israel—in the highways and hedges urging* a sufficient number of them to come to complete the elect number.
*”Compel” in verse 23 is better rendered constrain or urge as in the Diaglott. The Lord never compels the acceptance of his favors, but he does constrain by his love and grace and promises those who love righteousness and truth.—2 Cor. 5:11,14,15.
Truly so precious an invitation is worthy of our strivings and self-denials to attain it; and the truly appreciative will lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset, and run with patience the race for this great prize. But, thank God, we are no longer deluded into the belief that those who, blinded by Satan, reject this great invitation will be everlastingly tormented therefor.—Compare 2 Cor. 4:4 with Isa. 29:18; 35:5; and Rev. 20:1-3.
We are plainly told that the great majority who hear the call will reject, and that only a “little flock,” a mere remnant, of both Jews and Gentiles will be the privileged sharers of this “supper.” And “blessed” indeed will he be “who shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God”—who shall be counted worthy to share with Christ in the honors and glory of the spiritual Kingdom established. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.” “Fear not, little flock [of overcoming ones], it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”
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THE PRODIGAL RECEIVED
—APRIL 19.—Luke 15:11-32.—
Golden Text—”Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”—Luke 15:10.
THIS parable, as also the two preceding ones concerning the joy in finding the lost sheep and the precious bit of silver, was spoken by way of reproof to the murmuring of the Pharisees and scribes against our Lord’s gracious attitude toward the publicans and sinners who in great multitudes assembled to hear him. Their complaint was, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”—Vs. 2.
The parable recognizes two classes in the Jewish nation,—one represented by the “elder son,” who had carefully and wisely preserved their portion of the inheritance granted them, and the other a prodigal class who had wasted their portion in riotous living. The former class were the Pharisees, and all who had respect unto their inheritance in the Law Covenant, which was the portion granted to all Israel by the Heavenly Father; while the latter class were such as recklessly plunged into open sin, regardless of all their interests in the inheritance granted to them. But, as a matter of fact, while the one had preserved and the other had wasted his inheritance, neither class had rightly valued or comprehended all that was implied in their share of the inheritance of Israel, and while the one had grievously sinned, neither was the other without sin; and the sin of both hindered the operation of the Law Covenant for their blessing. And so that which was ordained to life was found to be unto death.—Rom. 7:10.
Seeing the helpless condition of all, which neither of these classes realized, God, in his abounding mercy, sent to them the Messenger of a New Covenant, which would indeed be unto life to all who should comply with its righteous conditions. (Gal. 3:21,22; Acts 3:26.) Now while the “elder son” class was really in the most favorable position to receive the blessings of the new covenant in Christ, being schooled in the law and the prophets, all of which testified of Christ in type and prophecy, as a matter of fact, as Jesus said (Matt. 21:31,32), the publications and harlots were going into the Kingdom blessings and privileges before them. And why? Simply because this “elder son” class had cultivated a spirit of pride and boastfulness, feeling that they had done a very meritorious thing in simply retaining their respect for the law and refraining from riotous living, whereas in this they had done nothing more than their duty, and that they had done very imperfectly. They had actually become so vain and puffed up in their self-righteous conceit that they were thereby blinded to their need of any new covenant of life, and they became foolishly confident of receiving eternal life as a recompense for their imperfect, outward keeping of the law.
The publicans and sinners, on the other hand, seeing nothing whatever in themselves to boast of, saw no hope for themselves in the provisions of God’s perfect law, which
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they had openly and grossly violated; and being despised by and cast out from the more law-abiding “elder brother” class, they were ready to appreciate the condescending love and kindness of the Lord, the great Teacher and Prophet in Israel, and to profit by his instructions. The hearts of many of this “prodigal” class were won by the meek and loving zeal of the Lord for their recovery from the bondage of sin and their reestablishment in the favor of God.
Had the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees been right, had they really been actuated by the spirit of the divine law, even though they could not fulfil its letter, they would have rejoiced in the return of the prodigal publicans and sinners from the paths of sin to the paths of righteousness. But, actuated by a spirit of proud self-righteousness, they scorned the returning prodigal and arrayed themselves in opposition to the Lord, the Heavenly Father’s representative, who graciously welcomed them and taught them and companied with them and blessed them. This loving, helpful spirit is the spirit which the Lord would have all his people exercise toward even the most degraded of men who manifest any disposition to forsake sin and return to the right ways of the Lord. In our Father’s name, he would have us meet them, even while they are yet a long way off, and encourage their return with assurances of a hearty welcome and a blessed feast. He would have us bring hither the best robe,—the robe of Christ’s imputed righteousness, that, thus clothed, they may receive the unending divine favor of which the ring was a symbol, and the seal of the Father’s love of which the kiss was a token.
This is the spirit manifested also among all the holy angels:—”There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS
We are sure that many aching hearts will respond to the sentiments of the following letter. To such must come with the sweeter encouragement those words spoken to one of old—”She hath done what she could;” and that other assurance—”Ye are complete in him.”
Dear friends, we “labor fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God,” even unto death.
MY DEAR BROTHER:—As I have written you before, my father and wife have been very sick this winter; hence I have been close at home. I have only two appointments each month.
I think of Moses in Kadesh. When the people were complaining on account of no water, the Lord commanded Moses to take the rod and gather the assembly together. Moses surely gathered from this that he was to use the rod. When I was commanded to “go preach,” I started, supposing
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that to preach was all, or the main business, that God (who was able) would remove all hindrances and that I would go into what I did (and do) delight. This was fifteen years ago.
Alas! I have found that there are many oppositions, and that God did not promise to remove them but to assist me in overcoming them.
Now I think of David’s prayer (Psalm 19:13)—”Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins.” We may presume; but I now see it is best to “wait upon the Lord,” and “be instant in and out of season.” Oh, yes! “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried [not before] he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them [who succeed in their undertaking, and are never overcome by temptation? Ah, no! if that were the case, and such only were to be blessed, many, and I for one, would be left, but it is to them] that love him.” Yes! Praise his holy name! I know I love him, and am filled with prayer and praise, and my desire is well expressed by the Psalmist—”Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”
Here is my great desire, and may I, yes, I will! approximate as nearly as possible to a life of harmony with, and perfect obedience to, him who said, “I do always the things that please him.”
So now, whether I may stand before the people to declare the glad tidings (in which I so much delight) or stand around the bed to witness the sufferings of those I love so dearly (which is so heart rending), I want to be submissive and “endure as seeing him who is invisible.” __________
The following letter from an aged Brother is refreshing and encouraging. He is spending his declining days in going about binding up the broken hearted and applying so far as permitted the eye salve of present truth to the blind eyes. May God bless him, and all like him who are giving their all in sacrifice. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him,” etc.
DEAR BROTHER:—With me life’s work still progresses; though feebly and slowly, as in age I approach an open grave—the spirit is willing but I find the flesh is weak. I have been laboring here at home with the intent of creating an interest in the truths of MILLENNIAL DAWN, and with some success; but nothing to what I had fondly desired.
Religious teachers are making every effort, and using all conceivable means, to keep the minds and hearts of their membership and hearers intensely occupied with church work and measures, thereby preventing their consideration of any thing new (to them) in religious thought.
I am content that the harvest should come in God’s own good time. No doubt we shall be surprised some day to learn the untold value of the truths we are now spreading to the world at large during the great day of trouble upon which we are entering. I purpose now, the Lord willing, to spend some time from home this coming winter with the chart. Enclosed please find order for tracts.
Yours in the bonds of truth and love divine,
S. S. CONE.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Enclosed find my “Good Hopes” contribution for this year. I send it all now, hoping it will be a help in the Harvest work.
Thank God for the help received from the TOWER! Several years ago it showed me how selfish I was; and by the grace of God I have been trying to overcome it. And now the last TOWER (Feb. 15) shows me that I have not been guarding my thoughts and words as I should. The Lord is my helper. Yours in love and service, __________