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VOL. XVII. APRIL 15, 1896. (16 PAGES.) No. 8.
Special Items………………………………. 74
Views from the Tower………………………… 75
The Easy Yoke………………………………. 78
Judas’ Case a Hopeless One…………………… 79
Our Children in the Time of Trouble…………… 81
The Contrast of Human Perfection
and Human Depravity……………………. 82
The Truth Defended in Scotland……………….. 84
Bible Study: The Rich Man and
Bible Study: “Lord, Increase Our Faith”……….. 86
Encouraging Letters…………………………. 87
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SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
TOWER PUBLISHING CO., BIBLE HOUSE, 58 & 60 ARCH ST.,
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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.
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A MONTH LATER
SEVERAL friends write us that they missed the TOWER which announced the proper date for the Memorial Supper. Such are advised to celebrate a month later; viz., at the full of the following moon, April 26, after 6 P.M.—See Numbers 9:6-11.
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OUR PRAYERS ANSWERED
THE Post Office authorities have reinstated MILLENNIAL DAWN as “Second class mail” at pound rates of postage until May 19th, pending the action of Congress on Second Class Matter.
The sisters as well as the brethren did well to address Congressmen and Senators as per the suggestion of our last issue. The government officials are representatives of all the people for whom they make laws: and this includes women as well as men. Indeed, in the terms of the law women are denominated “citizens.”
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER
RECENTLY, during the session of the one hundred and ninth conference of the M.E. church of Philadelphia, the delegates to the Laymen’s Electoral Conference gathered and discussed denominational interests. It is described as a “breezy” session in which equal representation with the preachers in the general conferences was warmly advocated. Of this session the Philadelphia Press says:
“To-day’s meeting of the laymen of Philadelphia was no exception to the rule. It not only adopted strong resolutions memorializing the general conference to grant equal representations, but also gave positive instructions to the lay delegates that were elected to attend the coming session of the conference to endeavor to secure constitutional changes to largely restrict the governing powers of the preachers and leave them shorn of much of the official authority they now possess. In fact, the preachers were ‘handled without gloves,’ and the declarations for enlargement of the authority of laymen in the government of the church were voiced with unusual vigor and unanimity. As was expected, the conference declared in favor of equal lay representation for women.”
We clip the following from the Pittsburg Post:—
“Baltimore, April 6.—Rev. Dr. John Lanahan sprung a sensation in the Methodist preacher’s meeting this morning when he announced that in a few days he will publish in a permanent form the ‘Era of Frauds’ in the Methodist Book concern at New York, of which he was at one time an agent. He stated that the publication is made necessary by the repeated denials of the frauds by persons in official positions.
“After the astonishment created by Dr. Lanahan’s reiterated charges against the New York concern had somewhat subsided, there was almost a unanimous sentiment expressed among the members of the preacher’s meeting that the general conference, to meet in Cleveland, O., next month, be compelled to give serious attention to the case. Dr. Lanahan will be a member of that body, and his standing in the church is such that his statements can no longer be ignored.
“Dr. Lanahan will, he says, furnish proof that for more than 12 years every financial report made to the church by the New York management was false, from $20,000 to $100,000; that said reports were false as to the amount of cash in the Shoe and Leather bank, where the official account was kept, because the senior agent kept large sums of the concern’s moneys in his personal account and used it to speculate in stocks in Wall street; that large sums of money sent to the concern for church benevolence were used in the same way.”
We understand that the above charges are acknowledged but that for over twenty years the business has been in competent and reliable hands.
“At a recent meeting of Methodist Episcopal preachers of Pittsburg it was argued that $1,000 a year should be the minimum salary for them, and that it should be a lien on the church property. It was not the first time that such a suggestion had been made.”—Pittsburg News.
The editor of the News, probably a worldling, comments upon this item, and gives an account of the labors and salary of a Methodist minister in these parts from August, 1833 to August, 1834, taken from his diary. Total receipts, $79.44; total sermons, 90, the first being from the text, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; for the night cometh when no man can work.”
The difficulty seems to be that preaching is sought by too many for its honor, its leisure and its emoluments. Few to-day are preaching under the impulse which moved the Apostle Paul: that caused him to rejoice in the preaching of the gospel even when its only wages were slander and persecution, and he earned his living by tent-making. But the Apostle had a gospel to preach of which he was “not ashamed;” he had “good tidings of great joy which shall [yet] be unto all people,” to proclaim. Thank God
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for the opening of our eyes and ears and mouths to this blessed message—the light of the goodness of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord.—2 Cor. 4:4.
* * *
“The unanimity of the pulpit in New York in the desirability of peace has brought the clergy of all denominations together, and greatly accelerated the movement in favor of church union. To employ the picturesque phrases of Bishop Potter, the very church steeples appear to embrace each other. Although the movement for church union has all along appeared very chimerical to the conservative clergy, recent events seem to indicate a very near approach to it. Bishop Potter is the most sanguine in his expectations, and is working very hard to bring it about.”—Exchange.
The announcement is also made that there will be a meeting of prominent ministers in Pittsburg shortly, to consider what obstacles are in the way of a reunion of Protestants and Roman Catholics.
We are inclined to think that Jesuits are behind these movements, all of which are of direct advantage to Romanism. Every one of good judgment, who is informed on the subject, knows that Rome will make no concessions; that all the surrender must be by Protestants. That Romanists are profiting by the situation is evident: missions for Protestants are being held in all large cities, at which questions relating to the differences between Romanism and Protestantism are entertained, and answered by priests of keen sagacity, who of course endeavor to represent Papacy as the mother of every good and desirable thing, and not the mother of harlots [systems] and all the abominations of Christendom.
But after all it makes little difference to the predominating “tares” whether they are Protestant tares or Romanist tares. Perhaps indeed the radical blindness of their leaders may help some of the “wheat” class yet in Babylon
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to realize the situation, and thus hasten their separation, as those loyal to God. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues!”—Rev. 18:4.
* * *
The “Church of England Almanack” reports eight associations amongst Church of England clergymen, favoring Ritualism and “restoration of visible communion” between the Church of England and the Church of Rome. One of these societies, the “English Church Union,” has a membership of seven bishops and 4,255 ministers.
* * *
L’Independence Belge says that in time of peace Russia has a standing army of 858,000 men; next comes Germany with 580,000 and then France with 512,000 men. In case of war Russia and France could put in the field 9,700,000 men, against the 7,700,000 soldiers of the three countries forming the triple alliance—Germany, Austria and Italy. In time of peace the maintenance of the standing armies of the above powers costs $1,000,000,000 annually.
What a record! What a satire on the terms “Christian nations” and “Christendom!” How evidently Satan is still the “prince” of “this present evil world!” No wonder that the whole creation groans and travails in pain, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. No wonder that the sons also groan and pray, “Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”
It will not be long until these millions are enlightened to the extent that they will refuse to serve the ambitions of lords, priestcraft and superstition, who rule them by the grace of Satan. But they will not get free until they realize that the great taskmaster is Sin who rules them through their depraved dispositions, their selfish and degrading appetites. Next they must learn of and accept the great Savior who has already redeemed them, and who waits to make them free indeed.
* * *
It appears that in modern rapid-firing guns the size of the bullets has been reduced to facilitate transportation, etc.; but a difficulty has been encountered: the smaller bullet does not sufficiently mangle the poor soldiers who are struck by them. Fewer lives are lost, and the wounded recover more rapidly, and are soon ready to be shot at again. This it seems is to be rectified, according to the following, from the New York Sun:—
“A perforated bullet for which great destructive power is claimed has just been finished by an inventor at Anderson, Ind. The bullet has a hole, one-eight of an inch in diameter bored from the front end almost through its entire length. This air chamber, the inventor says, gathers air under strong pressure, caused by the rapid flight of the bullet, and the air expanding, when the bullet finds its mark, causes an explosion of great destructive force. Inch boards, which would be pierced by an ordinary solid bullet of the same calibre, are splintered and torn with great violence by the perforated bullet. Cans filled with water and sealed were simply pierced by an ordinary bullet, but were blown into fragments when struck by the new projectile. The usual effect, witnesses say, is for the bullet to tear in the object hit a hole from seven to ten times the size of the bullet.”
Alas! “man’s inhumanity to man” seems to know no limit. When the great Prince of Peace shall have inaugurated his Kingdom and shall have opened the now blinded eyes of the world, with what feelings of revulsion and horror will men look back upon the present “reign” of Sin and Death! What feelings of sympathy and shame for the terrible degradation of the race should be awakened in every heart in which the love of Christ is shed abroad. True views, God’s view, the view of the angels and the view of the saints on such matters should be impressed upon those with whom we come in contact, and especially upon our children. Let them know the truth—that cruelty is a shame, a disgrace, as well as a sin, even when practised on the lower creatures, but especially toward fellow beings made in God’s image.
* * *
There are two great levers, Love and Selfishness. The former is the right, the divine power. It, with justice, moves the sceptre of heaven, and is shortly to be the power that will rule the world. It should therefore be recognized
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and cultivated in the hearts and lives, the thoughts and words and deeds of all who have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son.
Selfishness, greed, is the Sin-power now in control of the world through depravity. It has led and is still leading to every evil thing. The Apostle James’ comment (James 4:2) is endorsed by a New York Tribune editorial as follows:—
“Nations and individuals, the world over, as almost never before, are hastening to become rich. They are doing this in many ways, but most notably by the simple process of digging precious metals from the earth. Manufactures, trade, commerce, all are too slow.
“Almost every war or threat of war to-day may be directly traced to this greed for gold and silver, just as could the savage freebooting of three hundred years ago. The troubles in the Transvaal are due to the gold fever on the Rand. That it is that makes Great Britain so resolute to maintain her suzerainty over the Republic, and that makes Germany so desirous of extending her own influence over it. The same cause led to the occupation of Mashonaland and to the Matabele war. It was not because Lobengula was a monster of savagery that he was deposed: no, but because his kingdom was a part of ancient Ophir. Prempeh of Coomassie made human sacrifices, it is true; but his kingdom was known to contain much gold, and hence the Ashantee war.
“It was in expectation of finding gold in Madagascar that the French decreed the conquest of that island. For the same cause Japan wrested Formosa from China, and Brazil and France are now involved in a boundary dispute. Reports of mines of gold and gems led England to the partitioning of Siam, and are now making Russia and Japan confront each other over Corea. It is the mineral wealth of the Essequibo and Orinoco basins that makes the Venezuela boundary question most acute and most difficult to settle. It is the gold mines of the Yukon and of the Coast Range that have brought the Alaska boundary question to its present state, and prompted the vast extension of Canadian claims. And the gold finds, or expected finds, of British Columbia, of Australia and of Colorado and Washington are stirring three great English-speaking nations to the heart.”
* * *
In India there are no fewer than 65 Protestant missionary societies; viz., 16 Presbyterian, with 149 laborers; 13 Baptist, with 129; 9 Church of England, with 203; 7 Lutherans, with 125; 4 Methodist, with 110; 2 Congregationalist, with 76; 1 Unitas Fratrum and 1 Quaker, with 16; 7 Independent, 5 Women’s associations. In addition to 857 ordained missionaries there are 711 ordained European lay helpers, 114 European and semi-European lady assistants, teachers, etc., and 3,491 native lay preachers. The number of communicants is 182,722, an increase of 70,000 in the last decade.
Is it strange that when viewing all the inconsistencies of these varying sects, a Hindoo Brahmin should say: “You Christians are not as good as your Book! If you were as good as your Book, you would convert India to Christ in five years?”—The Armory.
* * *
“Probably one of the strangest facts in the history of language,” says a recent writer, “is the resurrection of the Hebrew to life and activity as the language of a people and country, after its death, which occurred 2,250 years ago. The Jews who returned from the exile were a small people, and they were compelled to learn and employ the Aramaic, the language of the country, so that the Hebrew was disused, excepting by the priests, as the Latin now is by the Catholics. But the language was preserved in the Old Testament Scriptures, and it was taught that the Scriptures might be understood, and this has been continued to the present day. Now the Jews are returning to Palestine from Russia, Poland, Germany, Italy, Spain and other countries, and cannot understand each other in these divers languages, but they all understand the Hebrew of the Old Testament, and employ it, so that Hebrew is again the language of the common people, and is heard in the marts of trade and in common use. The Hebrews of Palestine employ it exclusively in their families, so that it has become again the mother-tongue. In Jerusalem it died, and in the same city after so many centuries it has come to life again. As was to be expected, the pronunciation varies, but this is corrected in accordance with the Arabic and other Semitic dialects. There is something marvelous in this restoration of, not only the people, but the language, which they had practically lost five hundred years before their dispersion.”—The Armory.
* * *
Rev. A. T. Pierson, one of the speakers at the Prophetic Conference held in Allegheny in December last, was immersed on Feb. 1, by Rev. J. A. Spurgeon, a Baptist minister in England. According to Baptist usage (there is no Baptist law on any subject; for Baptists deny being a denominational organization) his action made Mr. Pierson a member of the Baptist church. But he was already a member of the Presbyterian denomination, and a member of the Philadelphia Presbytery to which he addressed a
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letter, in which, after stating the fact of his immersion, he said:—
“This act was not meant by me as in any sense a change of denomination, but a simple act of obedience to what seems to me a clear teaching of the New Testament. For some years the basis of infant baptism has seemed to me too slender, scripturally, and its perversion too common and too dangerous, practically, to justify my longer adherence to the practice. And the obvious example of believers’ baptism seems to be too conspicuous in the New Testament to leave in my mind a reasonable question that it was my privilege thus to confess Christ, and typically submit myself to burial with him.”
Well done! Obedience to conscience is always a safe course. True, we regret the clinging to denominationalism, shown in the preference manifested for the tighter bondage of Presbyterianism, rather than the looser bondage of Baptist Associations; but Dr. P. is progressing, not retrograding. By and by, let us hope, he will be free indeed, from all human control. Let us hope, too, that he may yet come to see the true import of immersion, which few even of our Baptist friends see, of which the water immersion is only the outward symbol. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.”
The Philadelphia Presbytery was greatly agitated upon receipt of this letter. The fact that Dr. Pierson believed in the second coming of Christ, and took part in the Prophetic
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Conference, had already marked him as a semi-heretic, even though he avoided the despised Nazarenes of ZION’S WATCH TOWER and MILLENNIAL DAWN, and avoided teaching that our Lord’s coming is for “the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:20,21)—the only “good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto ALL PEOPLE.”
The Presbytery had hoped that Dr. P. would take himself away into some other denomination, and at his request had granted him a Letter of Recommendation to the Congregationalists; for they did not like to “cast him out” simply because he believed the Lord’s words, “I will come again and receive you unto myself,” a truth so fully corroborated by all the Apostolic writings. To have done so would have advertised the second coming, and some of the common people might have been awakened to the Scriptural prominence of this teaching.
But now, in being immersed, and in claiming that neither he nor others baptized in infancy were “believers,” Dr. Pierson was casting discredit upon them all, implying that none of them had been baptized according to the Scriptures. If belief in the Second Coming was bad, this was worse; now he was a heretic, sure enough. The Presbytery promptly withdrew its Letter of Commendation to the Congregationalists, and after some dispute as to whether to “drop” him from membership, etc., or what to do, it was decided to request his withdrawal.
In the discussion of the subject one of the ministers, Dr. Hoyt, said,—”We [Presbyterians, respecting infant baptism] rest on the Abrahamic covenant confirmed in Christ. To deny that fundamental principle in the Presbyterian Church, and then to hold a position in its ministry is utterly inconsistent. We are in a dilemma, and don’t know how to get out of this labyrinth in which Dr. Pierson has entangled us.”
As with the doctrine of election, our Presbyterian friends have a mixture of truth with error, so on this subject of the justified state of the children of believers. True, the children of believers are subjects of divine grace until they come to years of personal responsibility (1 Cor. 7:14); but infant sprinkling has nothing whatever to do with this favor. Our Presbyterian friends have assumed, but without the slightest warrant, that baptism now takes the place of circumcision appointed for the seed of Abraham; and that, as infants were circumcised, so infants therefore should be baptized, even though not believers. But baptism and circumcision do not represent the same thing at all: if they do represent the same grace, only males should be baptized; for only males were circumcised.
We would like to see the truth on the subject of baptism very thoroughly and widely proclaimed. It would be a great blessing to all true Christians, not excepting “Baptists” and “Disciples.”
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THE EASY YOKE
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”—Matt. 11:28-30.
THE yoke is a symbol of servitude and subjection, and all in the world are under yokes of some kind—political yokes, social yokes, financial or business yokes, yokes of sin, of selfishness, of pride, etc., etc. The man who is under the political yoke finds it a very hard one. He is busy days and nights planning and scheming and working for office, studying all the arts of worldly policy to gain the friendship of voters, spending time, money and thought and concentrating every energy upon the risky business of seeking office, which, if he gain it, brings only a multitude of cares, and exposes him to a host of enemies of the opposing party who are often ready to blacken his character at the slightest provocation.
Those under the financial or business yokes are similarly oppressed. They labor long and hard; they scheme and plan and contrive and fret and worry to be rich, and in so doing they fall into a snare which robs them of the true happiness which riches cannot bring.
Those under the social yokes labor hard and sacrifice much in meeting the demands of society upon them. Few in the humbler walks of life know how galling is this yoke upon the rich, and particularly to those who are vieing with others in better circumstances. Women often wear themselves out in this unsatisfying service, while husbands and fathers are driven to despair and ruin trying to keep up with the financial drain. The yokes of pride, selfishness and sin of every kind are indeed hard yokes, and their burdens are heavy. To shake off all yokes and free ourselves from all burdens is impossible in this evil day. The prince of this world, Satan, has already imposed upon all the yoke of sin. And there is none able to deliver us from this yoke and its binding fetters but Christ, who, in his own good time and way, will do it for all who come unto him by faith and repentance.
While it is the purpose of Christ ultimately to set all such free from every yoke and to release them from every burden, he sees that they are not able yet to exercise and enjoy the glorious liberty of sons of God; and so by way of discipline and training, he purposes to bring them to that condition. It is therefore necessary that those who would be delivered from the galling yokes of sin and of the present general order of things should submit themselves fully to Christ—that they take his yoke upon them. And he invites all who have come to feel and realize the discomfort of other yokes and the weight of other burdens, to come unto him for rest and release.
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In tender sympathy for all the oppressed and sorrowing he says, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you,” etc. Thousands have responded to the kind invitation, and they testify in no uncertain terms to the ease of Christ’s yoke and the blessedness of his promised rest. And yet the rest is not of general temporal prosperity and freedom from care and toil and from all restraint.
Few would say in viewing the Apostle Paul’s experience that the yoke of Christ on his shoulders was an easy yoke, or that the burden of Christ’s work which he bore was a light one. But evidently he thought so, for he counted it an inestimable privilege to endure hardness as a good soldier for Christ’s sake. He joyfully suffered the loss of all things and counted them but dross, that he might win Christ and be found in him. He rejoiced to be made a partaker of his sufferings that he might also be made a partaker with him of his glory, and share with him in the blessed work of his Kingdom.
Blessed work! Paul gloried in the prospect of such a future mission, and was in haste to manifest his readiness of mind for it, by zealously and most energetically devoting his life here to the Lord’s service along the lines indicated in the divine plan. He took Christ’s yoke upon him: he did not attempt to guide himself, but humbly placed himself under subjection to Christ, and obediently followed his guidance whithersoever it led him—whether to prison and the stocks, to an ignominious public beating or stoning that left him almost dead, to shipwreck, to perils on land and sea, among heathen enemies or false brethren, to wearing labor, and painful toil, or what not? And yet Paul counted this burden of Christ a light one, and his yoke an easy yoke. He spoke of his trials as light afflictions, and said he rejoiced in tribulations; and with lacerated backs and feet fast in the stocks in the depths of a miserable dungeon Paul and Silas rejoiced and sang praises to God.
Stephen had the same rest and joy even while his enemies were stoning him to death; and thousands more of God’s saints can testify to the same thing—in the midst of poverty, sickness, affliction, temptation, and enemies on every hand, and even in the flames of violent persecution. Whence comes it? or how are rest and even joy compatible with such conditions? The answer is: it is a rest of mind—”Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” None can know the blessedness of this rest until they have experienced it. And none can realize its great value until they have been put to the tests of affliction.
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The Lord gives the key to this rest in the words—”and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart.” Truly, in a meek and quiet spirit is the secret of rest. To be meek is to cultivate the graces of patience; of loving submission to the will of God; of abiding confidence in his love and care and in the wisdom of his guiding counsel and overruling providences; and to perseveringly pursue this course through evil and through good report, or through favorable or unfavorable circumstances.
Let the beloved children of God seek more and more to copy Christ’s meek and quiet spirit, accepting the providences of God and obeying his precepts and leading as he did, armed with the strength which he alone can supply, and will, to all those who take his yoke upon them, and learn of him.
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JUDAS’ CASE A HOPELESS ONE
WE have heretofore pointed out that during this present age (the Gospel age, the spirit dispensation) the world of mankind is not liable to the Second death. (1) Because this age is for the Church’s trial and is not the period of the world’s judgment or trial. (2) Because now the world has not that degree of enlightenment which would involve the full, extreme penalty of God’s law,—the Second death. (3) Because the inspired Apostle declares that now Satan is exerting a blinding and deceiving influence upon all except true believers (2 Cor. 4:4; Rev. 20:3), so that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”—1 Cor. 2:14.
These conclusions from the Scriptures in general are abundantly confirmed by the statements of Heb. 6:4-8 and 10:26-31, in which the Apostle warns the Church that wilful sin or apostasy, on the part of those who have enjoyed the privileges of consecrated believers (viz., those who “have tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and who have been made partakers of the holy spirit”), leaves the case of such hopeless. It will be found impossible to renew such, because there remaineth no longer any part for them in the sacrifice for sin—they have had and have misused their share in the great “ransom for all.”
We have called attention to the fact that the world in general, even in civilized lands, has had no opportunity to sin after the example of wilful apostasy, described by the Apostle. And it is well to note that this sin unto death on the part of believers is not at all the same as the missteps and stumblings which may occur in the path of any through weakness of the flesh (Gal. 2:11-14), and which are among the sins which may be repented of, reformed from, and forgiven.—1 John 2:1; 1 John 5:16.
In view of the above, and in view of our further claim that the spirit dispensation began at Pentecost when our Lord was glorified (John 7:39), some have wondered that
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we teach that Judas’ case is a hopeless one, since his sin and death were both before Pentecost. We are asked to explain this seeming inconsistency.
We answer:—The period of the Lord’s presence at the first advent,—from his baptism to his ascension—differed from the period after Pentecost, throughout this age in which believers walk wholly by faith and not by sight, even as the Millennial age will differ from the Gospel age.
In the Millennium, knowledge and responsibility will no longer be confined to the spirit-begotten; for it is written, “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea [knowledge ocean-deep].” “All shall know me [the Lord] from the least unto the greatest.” (Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34.) It will no longer be the rule that the consecrated must “walk by faith and not by sight;” for the consecrated of that time, while no doubt still having room for faith, will, to a very considerable degree, walk by sight. It will no longer be true that Satan, the god of this world, will blind and deceive all except believers, for Satan will be bound and can deceive the world no longer; and “this world” [age] shall then have given place to “the world [age] to come wherein dwelleth righteousness;” and all the blind eyes shall be opened.—Is. 35:5.
When knowledge is thus general, the possibility of sinning wilfully against great light will become general. Whosoever will may accept the divine favor and use the divine aids, and attain to perfection and life everlasting; and whosoever will may intelligently reject God’s favor in Christ, and die the second death, the everlasting death, the hopeless death.
Now let us return to the case of Judas, and consider the conditions which obtained in his time of trial and failure, in the period of the Lord’s presence, in the Jewish harvest. The circumstances of that time differed from those of the present age and also from those of the Millennial age in the conditions and hence the responsibilities differed also. Our Lord was present, and marvellous works were performed, illustrative of “the powers of the world [age] to come.” The truth was presented to the people in such a manner that the Lord declared that its rejection would bring “stripes” and “woes” upon those who, after hearing, loved darkness rather than light. He declared that some of those, because of the rejection of the truth, would be counted worthy of “many stripes;” and that it would therefore be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for those. Our Lord’s declaration was, If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin.—John 15:22,24.
And if the people had such a responsibility because of what they heard and saw, how much greater was the responsibility of the twelve chosen apostles? They had professed much, saying, “We have left all to follow thee.” They were always with him; and not only beheld many of his mighty works, of which the multitudes in various places saw but few; but more: he communicated to them, severally, a measure of his spirit and power, and sent them out to proclaim him and his Kingdom, and to work miracles—to heal the sick and cast out devils in his name.
The apostles received also a special insight into the divine plan, an enlightenment not granted to the people; the equivalent to much that is now granted to the spirit-begotten ones of this age. The Lord addressed the multitudes in parables and dark sayings, but these he interpreted to the Apostles, saying, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God; but to them that are without [outside the twelve and other special disciples], all these things are done in parables.” Again he said to them: “Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear; for verily I say unto you that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear have not heard them.”—Matt. 13:11; Mark 4:11.
If, then, the people who saw a few of our Lord’s mighty works, and heard a few of his words of life under parabolic cover, were declared “worthy of stripes” for not receiving the light, what shall we say of the responsibility of the twelve, who not only saw much more, but by his power in them performed his miracles; who not only heard the parabolic words of life, but who had them expounded to them by the great Teacher? (Matt. 13:36-43; Mark 4:10-13.) And what punishment less than death—hopeless extinction—shall we suppose was merited by the one of these, who, after all this, according to his own confession, “betrayed innocent blood?” We judge that if Pilate and Herod and the Roman soldiers had some responsibility for Christ’s death, the multitude which clamored, Crucify him! His blood be upon us and on our children! had much more responsibility; and that the better educated, envious Pharisees and Priests who incited the illiterate common people had yet a greater responsibility (Matt. 23:15-33); and that Judas, his betrayer, was the chief, the real crucifier, because of his knowledge and wilfulness. Upon him alone, of all who had to do with his death, our Lord placed the responsibility, the full guilt, when he said: “The Son of Man goeth [to death] as it is written of him [prophetically]; but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed. It had been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matt. 26:24.) Should Judas be granted eternal life under any circumstances or after any experience, his birth could not be considered a disadvantage to himself.—See also Psa. 109:6-8; John 17:12; 6:70,71.
So, likewise, it is those, and those only, who (with good knowledge of God’s grace in Christ) sin wilfully and count the precious blood of the covenant, wherewith they were sanctified [set apart], a common thing, who “crucify Christ afresh and put him to an open shame.” And, like Judas, they often accompany this denial of his ransom-sacrifice with the words, “Hail, Master!” and a deceitful
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kiss. All such should be an abhorrence to all who possess to any degree the true, noble, Christ-like spirit.
The question asked by some is,—Did not God predestinate that Judas should betray our Lord? Was he not thus forced to do his evil deed “that the Scriptures might be fulfilled?”
We answer, No; “God tempteth no man;” He forces no man to do evil. To so suppose would be to charge the Almighty with being the real sinner and using men as his tools. On the contrary, “All his work is perfect.” “God is not the author of confusion.”—See TOWER March 1, ’95.
We cannot doubt that there are other men who would have performed Judas’ part, as well as others who would, under similar conditions, have done as others of the Apostles did. God’s foreknowledge of Judas’ course and his Scriptural forestatement of it no more caused it to be so than the forestatement of the changes of the moon’s phases by Almanac makers causes those changes.
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OUR CHILDREN IN THE TIME OF TROUBLE
THE following letter doubtless voices the sentiments of many.
DEAR SIR:—I have a baby daughter now two years old. In the year 1910 she will be only sixteen years old. The query is, What is to become of her during the period of anarchy? She probably represents a class. Numbers of God’s people must have small children growing up, and the same query must present itself to a great many. Certainly it would show anything but a commendable spirit if any parent could rejoice in the hope of becoming a member of the Bride of Christ and himself being taken away from the trouble “coming upon the whole world,” and not think of the fate of his children who would be left behind. Now I find such promises as Psa. 37:25,26; 102:28 and Prov. 11:21; but these do not exclude the use of means. If the children of the righteous are delivered in the “time of trouble,” it seems to me it will be by the use of means provided for their deliverance; and who should be considering the means to be used, if not their parents and guardians?
Now my idea is that a state of anarchy will produce a complete destruction (1) of commerce—no railroads will be in operation, no post office service, no telegraph lines open; (2) of business—no manufactories will be running, no trade carried on, except in a primitive way and confined to narrow limits; (3) of government—there will be no protection to individuals except what their own strength affords. The country will be filled with bands of marauders, and the peaceful and moral among the people will be obliged to unite in little bands for defence and protection. For food and clothing they will be obliged to depend on what they can themselves produce and defend from marauders.
Cities and towns will be burned or fall into ruin from neglect, bridges, etc., be destroyed, the machinery, etc., of our manufacturing establishments be destroyed or rendered useless by neglect and decay, so that after the period of anarchy is over the world will be obliged to begin over again.
I would like you to consider this question of the state of the country; for perhaps it will not be so bad as I have described, at least in the United States and England. These two countries have been especially favored during the Gospel age, and perhaps they may still be favored during the time of trouble. Their higher degree of intelligence, their greater love of order and their greater knowledge of the truth, may enable them to conform sooner to the new order of things and not bring so severe punishment upon them as upon the rest of the world. Furthermore, may it not be that the prophecies more particularly refer to the Roman Empire; and the United States certainly, and England probably, were not parts of the Roman Empire.
When we come to consider who will be the most favorably situated for escaping the perils of that time, it is evident that the towns and cities will suffer most. The ones who will be disturbed the least will be those who live in places remote from towns and cities and the main routes of travel, who live in a primitive manner, supplying their wants principally by their own labor from the land around them, who are not dependent upon commerce for their supplies, and whose remoteness from towns and routes of travel will keep them secluded from bands of marauders. Such places are mostly found in mountainous regions, and mountainous places are most easily guarded and defended from attack. This reminds us that Christ warned the Christians of Judea to “flee to the mountains” when they saw the near approach of the Jewish “time of trouble”—which was typical of the coming trouble. May it not be that he intended us to profit by that warning and provide places of refuge for those of our families and friends who will be here when the anarchy begins?
[IN REPLY:—The above conception of the coming trouble is, we believe, a very moderate one. The account of the trouble upon Jerusalem at its fall is much more thrillingly awful; so also is the record of the reign of terror in France a century ago. Both of these great events are mentioned in Scripture as illustrations of the coming general trouble; which, however, it is distinctly declared, will be worse than either of these;—”a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.”
While the Roman empire occupies an important place in the prophetic history of the past eighteen centuries, yet we are to remember that the great troubles marking “the day of the Lord” are shifted to symbolic Babylon—confused nominal Christendom—which certainly includes Great Britain and the United States. Indeed, as the severest troubles came at the first advent upon those who had seen the great Light and rejected Him, so we may well fear that the great privileges and blessings enjoyed by the English speaking peoples have brought great responsibilities and will bring severe tribulations.
The tendency of all as the storm approaches will be to seek cover, protection, under the great mountains (kingdoms) and in the rocks of society (beneficial orders) (Rev. 6:15-17); and many will flee from the country to the cities. The “overcomers” who will “escape all these things coming upon the world” (Luke 21:36) will indeed flee to the mountain, the Kingdom of the Lord, and be
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safe, but none others can attain to it. “Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord? who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart,” etc.—Psa. 24:3-6.
But, seeing that all the efforts of men to hide themselves “from the wrath of the Lamb” when the great day of his wrath shall have come will be in vain, the saints would best make no such effort to hide their children, knowing that it would be folly. The trouble comes to overthrow sin and every false system and thing; and the lessons it brings will prove beneficial to mankind in general, breaking their idols and purging their hearts. If our children and friends need the purging, we should not wish to have them escape it. If they do not need it, we may rest assured that the Lord will permit the glorified members of his body, his Church, to care for their children and friends during that trouble and to succor them from all that would not be to their benefit. What more could we ask than that we should be their ministering guardians, far more able to help them than if with them in the flesh?
The best provision which parents can make for their children is to give them, by precept and example, faithful instruction in righteousness. Remember that “the fear [reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Begin therefore to instruct them in the plan of salvation, the plan of the ages. As they come to a true appreciation of God’s wisdom, justice and love, it will give them broader and truer views of justice and love, in respect to their own conduct and toward their fellow creatures. Teach them meekness and humility, and the folly of pride and arrogance. Teach them generosity of thought, and how to be happy with little, reminding them frequently that godliness with contentment is true riches. Remind them of the Lord’s words, “seek meekness, seek righteousness. It may be that ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.” (Zeph. 2:3.) The rich in this world’s uncertain riches, and the proud, whether poor or rich, and all that do wickedly, will be special sufferers.—Compare Mal. 4:1; James 5:1-6.
During the time of trouble, for the first time in the world’s history, there will be a premium on meekness, patience, love, gentleness, goodness. (However, before that stage of the trouble comes, before Babylon falls, there will be a different trouble upon a “great company” of those not overcomers, who will be severely buffeted by Babylon which for a time will have an increase of power. The foregoing remarks do not apply to this class which will come through great tribulation. Since the service of the poor and afflicted in mind and body is a great privilege, we should endeavor so to train our children that, when the trouble comes, they will be both able and willing to counsel others to righteousness and the avoidance of carnal warfare, rather than selfishly think merely of their own safety. Children should be encouraged to such stability of character, in combination with faith in God, that they will, under any stress, act up to a high conception of nobility.)
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THE CONTRAST OF HUMAN PERFECTION AND HUMAN DEPRAVITY
“And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, ‘They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.’ And sitting down they watched him there.”—Matt. 27:35,36.
HERE, in marked contrast, are seen the glory of moral perfection and the depth of human depravity. Here was the most sublime heroism, the most perfect self-abnegation, the most exalted benevolence, and the most devoted loyalty, in contrast with the vilest hypocrisy, the most cold-blooded hate, and the most abject cowardice. The meanest, vilest selfishness, pride and conceit delivered to ignominy and death the fairest flower of virtue that ever bloomed on earth, and wicked hands and fiendish hearts executed the dark designs of envy and hate, taking a morbid pleasure in the dying agonies of the Son of God, while he, as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, opened not his mouth in self-defence, but meekly submitted to the terrible ordeal of suffering and death for the world of sinners, none of whom could then appreciate and understand his motives or his work. Truly, the contrast
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of such virtue, in comparison with such depravity, encircles the Cross of Christ with a halo of ineffable glory, the broken rays of which, falling upon us, express to us all there is of moral excellence and worth.
In the apprehension, arraignment and crucifixion of Christ three classes of criminals come to view. First, there were those who, for envy, delivered him to death. They were the proud, boastful, self-righteous hypocrites, who, realizing their own inferiority, and aware of their own unfitness to be the leaders and saviors of the people, yet so anxiously craved the honors and praises of men and the emoluments of office that they could not brook the appearance of a rival of superior talents and ability. These hated the Lord without a cause, save that which originated in their own depravity. These, the mighty men of the Jewish nation, the rulers and religious teachers, the educated men of the nation, the expounders of the law of God, and the interpreters of the prophets,—these wickedly took counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed; and in their counsels among themselves they acknowledged the superiority of the victim of their hate and expressed the real animus of it—their envy of his rising fame and influence among the people, which tended to their own speedy displacement.
Second, there were those cringing, hireling menials, too basely selfish to spurn a bribe, or to appreciate a principle,
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and who are ever willing to sacrifice principle for a trifle of present advantage or gratification. Of this class was Judas, who sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver, and also all of that infuriated mob which, incited by the priests, cried “Away with him! Crucify him! We have no king but Caesar! His blood be upon us and upon our children!” Judas loved the money, and these loved the approval of the priests and rulers, and wanted to be on the popular side. How mean the bribe, how base the crime!
Third, there were those cold-blooded, cruel servants of the Roman state who, presuming to have no responsibility in the matter, cared nothing for the honor of justice or the vindication of right. It was their business to execute the mandates of their superiors, and they must do so at their own peril. Looking to their own interests, therefore, it was their business to drive the nails through the quivering flesh and to plant the thorny crown upon the victim’s head. It was an awful business, but they were schooled to it, so that the groans of anguish failed to reach their hearts. So, regarding the horrid transaction in the light of business, they thought only of their booty, and, with frigid indifference, sat down and watched the agony of the Lord, while they cast lots upon his vesture. And some even endeavored to add to the sufferings by cruel taunts and fiendish exultation.
How strange it seems that humanity, originally in the likeness of God, can sink so low! and yet it is all too true. The depth of depravity to which an intelligent being can sink can be measured only by the height of the original perfection and glory. Satan fell from a great height to a corresponding depth, and so likewise man falls to the very depths of iniquity, unless he repent and be converted from the error of his way, and voluntarily submit to the healing influences of divine grace. Sin, with accelerating speed, ever tends downward to more and more vile conditions, until it ends in the shipwreck of everything that is noble and pure; and “sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.”
As we look at the various manifestations of wickedness on the part of those who crucified the Lord, it is a sad comment upon human depravity to notice that the very same elements have been in the world ever since; and alas! are present still. And the special victims of their hate have been, and still are, the meek of the earth, who have taken up their cross to follow in the footprints of the crucified One—the body of Christ which fills up the measure of his sufferings. (Col. 1:24.) All through the age there have been those anxious to deliver them to death, who, for envy, hypocritically assumed to be the representatives of God to condemn them, and to seek them out, and hunt them down, and kill their influence, and deliver them over to be crucified. This is the Pharisaical class—the class represented by the chief priests, the scribes and Pharisees. There has also always been the hireling class, ready to sell their services to such leaders for the paltry bribes they have to offer—for the favor of their leaders, for the convenience of being on the popular side, or for a trifle of financial or social advantage. This is the Judas class—a class which, like Judas and like the priests and scribes and Pharisees, know, and secretly recognize, the truth and righteousness exemplified in the body of Christ, yet who nevertheless dislike them, hate them, and are ever willing to make merchandise of them,—to deliver them over to scorn and contempt, if not, as in former times, to prison and to death, for the mean advantage of popular favor.
Then there are still the cruel cold-blooded menials who, with complacency and indifference, and yet with curiosity, sit down and watch the sufferings of the body, and wonder what will happen next. They are surprised and puzzled by the fortitude which daily takes up the cross and follows after Christ; they cannot understand the motives that inspire it; they have no faith in the rewards to which the consecrated look, and they curiously watch them to see if, perchance, their God will interpose and deliver them. And when they see no miraculous interposition in their behalf, but that instead they bear the cross to the bitter end of sacrifice, they regard them, like their Head, as “smitten of God and afflicted,” and to the sufferings are added their reproaches. And so every member of the anointed body can say with the Head, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.”
The important concern to all who are thus suffering with Christ in any measure is that they bear it with the same humility, benevolence and fortitude that characterized him under the most crucial tests of endurance. He was not surprised by the exhibitions of human depravity: he knew that he was in an unfriendly world bound by sin and largely under the dominion of the prince of darkness, and therefore he expected reproaches, taunts and persecutions, all of which he endured patiently while his great loving heart, almost unmindful of its own sufferings, was full of pity and of loving concern for others. Have we indeed so much of the Master’s spirit that we can thus suffer with Christ, meekly bearing reproach and trusting to heaven’s vindication of us in due time? “If when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God; for even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” Therefore let us “consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we be wearied and faint in our minds.” (1 Pet. 2:20-23; Heb. 12:3.) And let us also see to it that we bear the reproaches of Christ as he bore them,—with pity and prayer for the erring and depraved, if perchance God may grant unto them repentance; and with humble fortitude esteeming it a privilege to prove our devotion to the Lord by enduring hardness in his service as good soldiers.
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But what shall we say of those who hate the Lord’s body without a cause, who for envy deliver them to persecution and death, or of those who for bribes betray the innocent, or of those who, with frigid indifference, but curious interest, calmly watch the sufferings of the body, as the Roman soldiers did of the Head, saying, “Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him?” “O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united.” Their way is the way of death. When the noble spectacle of loyalty to God, to truth and righteousness, and of Christian fortitude in enduring hardness and persecution meekly and patiently, fails to move and win the hearts of men, what more remains to be done for them? The goodness of God exemplified in his children as well as in other ways should lead to repentance; but if it only hardens the heart and steels it against the further influences of divine grace, sad indeed is the condition of such a soul. It is not ours, however, to judge such to condemnation: but it is our part to shun the company and counsels of all such. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful: but his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. … For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”—Psa. 1:1,2,6.
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THE TRUTH DEFENDED IN SCOTLAND
SOME months ago we gave a little account of Brother Houston’s success in the colporteur work. He is a merchant, but is able to give a considerable portion of his time to special service for the Truth, of which he is not ashamed. His business talent and training are thus, as part of his stewardship, being used for the Master. And we might remark that he is not alone in this. In the United States there are a number of business and professional men and many artisans and farmers who are similarly using what time they can disengage from labor for the meat that perisheth. Indeed, everywhere, those who are filled with
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the spirit of the Truth are finding and using opportunities for serving it.
Brother Houston’s activity soon aroused opposition. MILLENNIAL DAWN was attacked through the public press, especially by a minister named Davidson, who endeavored to prejudice the people so that they would not read the DAWN. After several newspaper battles Mr. Davidson evidently thought his tongue would be mightier than his pen, and challenged Bro. H. to a public debate of the questions at issue. His challenge was accepted, and below we give a report of the discussion, by an unknown, clipped from one of the local papers. Bro. H. wrote us that it was his first experience in a debate, but that he felt it to be his duty to defend the Lord’s cause, and that he was relying on help from on high. From the report below, he was evidently sustained by the Lord.
“A CRITICISM ON THE DISCUSSION”
“I was present at the theological discussion in Canisbay Free Church on Wednesday evening, and followed both speakers with great interest. Will you kindly allow me to say how very much disappointed I was with Mr. Davidson’s method of dealing with his opponent, and why? Mr. Houston affirmed the universal applicability of the ransom sacrifice by Christ, taking as his key text 1 Tim. 2:5,6—’For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.’ I think that in the course of the discussion he made, among others, the following points:—
“That in view of our fall in the first Adam, the basis of hope for the human race is in the ransom—’corresponding price’—given by the second Adam, the Lord from heaven.
“That this is confirmed by numerous other statements of Scripture, among which he quoted the following; ‘Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man;’ ‘as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life;’ that the gospel is thus ‘glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people;’ that in ‘the seed of Abraham’—the Church (Gal. 3:29)—’all the families of the earth shall be blessed;’ that Christ died ‘for our [the Church’s] sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world;’ that ‘God so loved the world that he gave,’ etc.—John 3:16.
“That salvation is thus a free gift to all men, the conditions being, accept, believe, obey.
“That when Christ died millions had gone into their graves who had not known of the coming Savior even in type and shadow.
“That his, however, is the only name given under heaven among men whereby we can be saved.
“That millions have died since without ever having heard of the ‘only name.’
“That justification by faith is the central doctrine of the Christian system.
“That St. Paul argues that they cannot believe in Him of whom they have not heard.
“That therefore all must hear—have a full and fair opportunity before being finally condemned, and that it is only if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, that there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin.
“That the hope of the Church—the company to which many are called but of which only a little flock make their calling and election sure, the very elect, His Bride, specially called out in the Gospel age—is that she shall share the glory of her Lord as his joint-heir. That the present work of the Church is the perfecting of the saints for the future work of service—preparing by following Christ’s footsteps of self-sacrifice for being the kings and priests of the next age. That the hope of the world lies in the blessings
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of knowledge and opportunity to be brought to all by Christ’s Millennial kingdom—the restitution of all that was lost in Adam to the willing and the obedient at the hands of the glorified Church. That the ransom does not essentially or by the mere fact of it give or guarantee salvation to any man, but that the knowledge of it, with the corresponding opportunity, will be testified to all men in God’s due time.
“That there is no obstacle to belief in all this except the idea that death ends all probation—an idea for which there are no grounds in the Scriptures except the words, ‘Where the tree falleth there shall it be’ (Eccl. 11:3), which may be interpreted to mean that no change takes place in the period of the grave, in harmony with Eccl. 9:10. That as the hope of the restoration of the Jews is the resurrection from the dead, so in that day (a thousand years), which God hath appointed to judge the world by that man whom he hath ordained, all that are in their graves shall come forth, when all who have not had full knowledge shall receive it. (‘I am the resurrection and the life. He that liveth and believeth in me though he die shall live again; and no one who lives again and puts faith in me shall in any wise die until the remotest age. Believest thou this?’ John 11:24,26.) That the preaching of the gospel to all who hear it now is a savor of life unto life or of death unto death, knowledge proving our condemnation if we do not accept the free gift.
“That, per contra, the teaching of the Confession of Faith is that all mankind (save and except the elect) God was pleased to pass by and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin; and to assert and maintain that men can be saved by any other religion, or the light of nature, ‘is very pernicious and to be detested’—thus absolutely shutting the door of hope for the ignorant masses of mankind.
“That this is out of all harmony with the God revealed to us in the Bible—the God who is infinite in justice, love, mercy, and who gave his only begotten Son as a ransom for all.
“Here, surely, was plenty of work cut out for Mr. Davidson. Why did he not take up all, or some, or even one or two of these points, and show wherein they were unscriptural? I venture to say your readers will search your report in vain for an answer to any of these points. Here was constructive matter. What was wanted was destructive criticism. To merely relate the commonly accepted beliefs avails nothing. Why were these passages of Scripture not taken up and their true meaning explained—that is, if the wrong construction was placed upon them by Mr. Houston? Instead, amid much that was wholly irrelevant, and in execrably bad taste, Mr. Davidson read lengthy extracts from the book, MILLENNIAL DAWN, with the view of trying to prove that it teaches ‘a second chance.’ It was noticeable that the extracts as read met with no marked objections on the part of the audience. The book teaches that to every man is guaranteed one full opportunity in the Second Adam—not that if, in God’s providence, one gets an opportunity in this life and refuses he gets another in the next life, but that all who had not heard will hear; it will be testified to them in due time. The quotation given by Mr. Houston from the book was a complete answer to the charge that it teaches a second opportunity to those who already had one. ‘We do not wish,’ says the author of MILLENNIAL DAWN, ‘to be understood as ignoring the present responsibility of the world, which every man has, according to the measure of the light enjoyed, whether it be much or little, whether it be the light of nature or of revelation.’ p.145. From this it is manifest that by answering either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the categorical questions put to him—a most unusual thing, by the way, in a debate—he would be giving a misleading impression of the teachings of the volume in question.
“A ‘second chance’ to those who have heard and understood the gospel, and have wilfully rejected it, might be ‘unphilosophical, repugnant to Christian thought and feeling, and highly dangerous to morality;’ but a plan of ages and dispensations, in the course of which all will come to a full knowledge of the ransom, is highly philosophical, by no means repugnant to Christian sentiment, and, if generally understood, would be a much more powerful lever to morality than the fear of everlasting torment. The world, sir, has outgrown a theology of gloom and despair. Reprobation is scouted all along the line of the best Christian thought of the day; and if Mr. Houston lacked in anything it was in failing to invade his opponent’s territory and show up the logical absurdities into which much that is preached as the gospel to-day leads us.
“As a Bible student I protest against points like those indicated above being scoffed at as ‘a mixture of sense and nonsense,’ and our would-be spiritual leaders going away fondly imagining that by the re-stating of thousand-times-told platitudes and playing upon our emotions by throwing a sanctimonious tremor in the voice, they had successfully answered important points of Bible teaching affecting the most vital doctrines of our faith.”
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THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
—APRIL 26.—Luke 16:16-31.—
THIS parable has long been used as the special support of the horrible doctrine of “eternal torment.” If those who thus misuse it would but examine it afresh in the light of the below suggestions they would find it more in harmony with other Scriptures, more beautiful and more
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(1) It is a parable, without doubt; because to take it literally would make of it an absurdity. It simply puts the rich man into flames and torment because of his fine linen and purple and sumptuous living, and not because of any specified evil doings. It likewise puts the beggar into “Abraham’s bosom” simply because he was poor and sick, and not for any specified merit or righteousness. And if Abraham’s arms are only for the poor and sick he surely has them more than filled long ago; so that the poor and sick of the present time would have no more chance than the well clothed and well fed of getting into his bosom—if this were a statement of fact and not a parable.
(2) Since it is a parable, it must be understood and expounded as a parable, and not as a fact. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, wheat does not mean wheat but the children of God, and tares do not mean tares, but the children of the devil. The same is true of all other parables—sheep, goats, fish (good and bad), the pearl of great price, ten pieces of silver, etc., etc.: the thing said was never the thing meant. It would therefore be as
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incorrect to say that the rich man and the beggar of this parable were two men as to say that literal sheep and goats, and wheat and tares, were referred to in the other parables.
(3) Interpreting this parable on the lines of interpretation applicable to all parables, we should expect the rich man to represent some class of people, and the beggar to represent another class, and the fire and Abraham’s bosom to have equally symbolical meanings.
(4) We suggest the following as fitting all the conditions:—
The rich man represents the scribes and Pharisees (the elder son in the parable of the Prodigal Son) who enjoyed the good things of God’s favor and had much advantage every way over the Gentiles as well as over the publicans and sinners (the prodigal) of their own nation. The purple raiment represented the royalty promised to Israel, the fine linen represented their justification through the typical sacrifices.
The beggar who desired the crumbs from the table of the favored represents the sin-sick of Israel, and especially of the Gentiles, who were desirous of God’s favor. Some of these Gentile outcasts asked for and received from our Lord “crumbs from the children’s table.”
The death of both, beggar and rich man, at the same time, represented the change of dispensation which dated from the time that our Lord, just before his death, pronounced over Jerusalem the words, “Your house is left unto you desolate.”
The rich man in torment represents the trouble which has been upon the Jews throughout this Gospel age. The beggar in Abraham’s bosom represents how the former poor outcasts have been received into divine favor during this Gospel age, and are no longer strangers, but children of Abraham through faith in Christ.—Gal. 3:29.
For further particulars see OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS, Nos. 1 and 32.
The Golden Text chosen shows that those who selected the lesson had the common misunderstanding of this parable.
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“LORD, INCREASE OUR FAITH”
—MAY 3.—Luke 17:5-19.—
OUR Lord’s teachings were so contrary to the spirit of this world and so adverse to its policy that his disciples felt that to adopt his methods and principles and discard their own really involved a revolution of their former ideas. And in yielding themselves, as true disciples, they felt the need of a stronger, firmer faith than they had yet been called upon to exercise. They were quite persuaded from the purity and nobility of his character, and from his miracles and his teachings, that he was indeed a teacher sent from God; yet remembering the requirement of discipleship,—”Whoso forsaketh not all that he hath [all his own ideas and will and possessions and earthly prospects], he cannot be my disciple,”—they felt that to continue in this attitude of acceptable discipleship would require a growing faith which would rise to every emergency of his requirements. Hence their request, “Lord, increase our faith.”
And they were quite right in their reasoning; for the Lord also clearly shows that the true disciples make progress in the school of Christ toward the full overcoming of the spirit of the world. And this progress can be achieved by faith only—by such full, implicit confidence in his teaching and training as will keep them continually as earnest, diligent pupils under his guidance and instruction. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4.) This, by the way, is very suggestive of what it signifies to be an “overcomer,” to whom pertain all the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel of Christ. It is simply this—that day by day we attentively heed and patiently carry out the instructions of our infallible Teacher and Guide in full, unquestioning faith in his wisdom and love; no matter how heavy will be the daily cross or how severe the discipline. It is indeed a tedious, life-long process, but the end will be glorious; and even the daily discipline, patiently and meekly borne, will bring the present rewards of conscious progress in the great work of overcoming and of a nearer approach to the goal of a ripened Christian character. All of this is implied in the beautiful words, so expressive of the faith and fervent devotion of true discipleship,—
“Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee,
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me.”
We observe that the Lord made no direct answer to this request of his disciples, but that he dwelt upon the power and desirability of faith. He showed that even a weak, but genuine, faith could so lay hold upon the power of God as to instantly root up and replant a tree, and on another occasion he said it could remove mountains into the midst of the sea. Is the suggestion preposterous? No, not to faith; for, bear in mind, faith is not imagination, nor self-will, nor ignorance, but it is a reasonable thing founded upon good and substantial evidence: so that our Lord’s teaching here implied what on another occasion he clearly stated; viz., that the request be made according to the will of God. (John 15:7.) Thus, for instance, if the least disciple were assured, on good evidence, that the removal of such a tree or mountain would be a part of the divine will, and that it was his duty to do the commanding, he should have equally strong faith in the results. Thus it was when the Lord caused the barren fig tree to wither. This, observe, was not to satisfy mere idle curiosity, but like all of his miracles, which God wrought by him (Acts 2:22), it was for a definite and wise purpose, to teach an important lesson, and also to convince his disciples of his divine recognition and authority.
But since there is no basis of evidence for faith that the will of God is to remove literal trees or mountains in answer to any idle or self-willed or ignorant commands of men to do so, a genuine faith in his willingness to do it now is an impossibility. But regarding the tree and mountains as symbols of difficulties and obstructions in our individual Christian course, or in the general course of God’s work, we know that “miracles” are wrought for those who exercise faith; and they going forward in the strength of the Lord, are thus permitted to overcome difficulties and to work righteousness otherwise impossible.
While the Lord made no direct answer to this request for an increase of faith, his whole subsequent course with the disciples was a fulfilment of it. And so it will be with us if in a similarly true spirit of discipleship we pray, “Lord, increase our faith.” The increase of faith will come, not by a miraculous infusion, but in the natural process of the Lord’s leading and training. In the school of experience, in following his leading and in the blessed results of each
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step of the way, faith develops and grows.
Verses 7-10 show that it is in the Lord’s service we are to look for the rewards of faith, the special manifestations of divine favor, in the removal of obstacles and difficulties found to be in the way of our progress in his service by cultivating Christian character in ourselves and others, and in ministering generally to the furtherance of the divine plans. We may not expect these rewards of divine favor except as we prosecute the service. And when they are received we are not to regard them as evidences that we have done any more than it was our duty to do. As servants of God we owe him the full measure of our ability; hence we may not feel that we have merited or earned the great blessings of heavenly inheritance and joint-heirship with Christ. We have merely done our duty; but God, with exceeding riches of grace has prepared, for those who lovingly serve him, rewards far beyond what they could have asked or hoped for. We can do no works of supererogation; even at our best our service is marred by many imperfections, and could never find acceptance with God except as supplemented by the perfect and finished work of Christ.
Verses 11-16 show how the rewards of faith, which are of God’s free grace and by no means earned by our faith, should be gratefully received. The samples given illustrate the fact that the rewards of faith are not always gratefully received. Here were ten lepers cleansed, and only one returned to give thanks and worship. So also of the many who receive justification by faith, the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God through Christ, how few return to present themselves living sacrifices, thank-offerings, to God, their reasonable service!
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Just a word to tell you that our little Church (thirteen in number) met last evening and joined with the rest of the body in commemorating our Master’s death on our behalf. We had a solemn but blessed time, and we realized perhaps more than ever how much his death means to us. We thank God and take courage.
Your brother in the faith,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—A little company met at our house and celebrated our Lord’s last Memorial Supper. We all felt how graciously the Lord hath dealt with us in leading us out of darkness into his glorious light. We realized our shortcomings and unworthiness of the high privilege of participating in the communion of his death, after being made acceptable to our Heavenly Father through the merits of our Redeemer. After a brief explanation of the symbols, seven partook of the same. We closed with Hymn 276.
All were greatly strengthened, especially as we realized that all the Lord’s people everywhere were praying for one another. We also felt, from previous experiences, that we have especial need at this time to encourage one another. May the Lord be gracious unto all, and keep us very humble; “for many are called, but few chosen.”
Love from your brother, joined by all the company at Oakland,
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL:—I pray for you daily that our Father in heaven will give you a clear conception each day of his will and grace and strength to stand for God and the truth. Oh, how thankful we are (I am speaking for our little assembly here) that God has been pleased to reveal his Son to us, and that we know him as the way, the truth and the life!
Our little assembly is using me for its leader, and I am so weak, dear Brother, that I need your prayers daily; but Oh, I am so thankful that I feel very humble, and pray the dear Lord always to keep me in that way. How much I need to study and meditate on the love of God to usward, in order to get the mind of our dear Lord. Only by continuance in well doing and prayer can we have the spirit’s guidance in this wilderness journey. Our daily song should be,
“I love thy Church, O God!
Her walls before me stand.”
We met for the Memorial Supper at Brother Fry’s. When I saw a good-sized room full, the thought came to me, “Can I serve in a way that will be satisfactory to our blessed Lord and the truth-loving ones?” The answer came like a flash. “I will be with thee and uphold thee; my grace is sufficient for thee; only trust, and lean on me.” How strong I was, dear Brother, after the answer came to my whispered prayer! I read a short article on the subject from one of the dear old TOWERS, and Brother Chase gave thanks. All appeared to be deeply impressed and to realize the solemnity and import of the occasion.
Yours in the love of the truth,
R. S. MOORE.
[The three letters above are fair samples of about one hundred reports received of the commemoration of the Memorial supper: and probably as many more celebrated from whom we have had no reports. These seasons are becoming more precious yearly. Indeed, we are glad to be able to report that the spiritual health of the Church was probably never better than now, the servants of the truth never more active nor more wise, and the triumph of truth over error never more pronounced. God be praised for the privileges and pleasures of his service! This we believe is the sentiment of an increasingly large number.
May the strength and blessing derived from this Memorial of our Redeemer’s sacrifice and of our fellowship in it abide with us all as a blessing, fitting and preparing us for further faithful service, and to endure whatever trials and tests our Lord may see best to permit to come upon his flock; we cannot expect that such a season will altogether pass without “siftings” for the wheat, to separate the chaff and the tares.—EDITOR]
DEAR BROTHER:—The TOWER is as fully appreciated now as at any time during the past fourteen years in which I have been privileged to receive it. Its form and size are
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convenient; its title page is a sermon in itself; but as “in de wah time” the Richmond newspapers were eagerly welcomed, though printed on the commonest of wrapping paper, so the TOWER would be gratefully welcome for the blessed truth and spiritual food it contains, apart altogether from its outward appearance, necessary though it be that it should be becoming, pure, chaste, sober, unsensational in garb, as a fit covering to the purity within.
I have said it is as much appreciated as at any time; in some respects it is even more so. Articles are anonymous, less controversial matter appears with regard to those who “went out from us” and those not of us; only so much as is necessary, that the true flock may be kept true, and guarded from false shepherds and false and poisonous food; and less prominence is given to “Encouraging words from faithful workers” in the omission (if I remember rightly without referring back) of names of writers. Altogether there is a welcome appearance as of a chastened purity, which without doubt has a corresponding effect upon its readers.
Whilst in heart and mind I give thanks to our Father through Jesus our Lord, that I have been privileged to hear and to accept of the blessed truth of the most holy Word, and to partake of the spiritual food now spread before us, in His due time; I yet, whether rightly or wrongly I know not, have a great distaste for the relation of “personal experiences.” Perhaps the liking or disliking of it in different persons may be owing largely to early training and sectarian association; … though the admonition “confess your faults one to another,” in a proper spirit, is fully recognized.
It appears to be a duty, whenever occasion offers, to boldly declare the truth, as far as lieth in one, and certainly it is a great pleasure so to do, and especially to an ear that can hear; but how few these are.
With kindest seasonable greetings and affectionate respects and regards,
Yours in the one faith, __________
[Experience meetings in which the speakers vie with each other in the relation of their past wickedness, or in boastfulness of present grace or attainments, are sure to be injurious in their tendency. But testimony meetings at which each child of God present in simplicity and godly sincerity recalls the Father’s care and love and discipline for the week or month preceding are surely very profitable. If each is careful to relate such features of his experience, his trials or triumphs, as will be helpful to others, all will be edified. This letter column is designed to supply such a lack for many of our readers who are isolated and enjoy no such privileges of communion of saints.—EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—It is now a few years since my eyes were opened to the present truth; and I feel that I ought to write you a few words telling you of the great joy and happiness it has given me. Oh, how thankful I am to God that the “present truth” has illuminated my path! I can not find words to express myself. How I rejoice that I can now see that all the world will be blessed in “due time,” and that the time is fast approaching when the Gospel Church will be glorified with Christ, our Lord and Head.
Brother Franklin was the first to present the truth to me. I remember very well the first time we conversed about the matter. When he said that death (extinction of being) was the penalty for sin, and when he denied eternal torment, he startled me! I thought it was horrible that a man, claiming to be a Christian, could be so bold as to deny eternal torment for the ungodly. I purchased the first volume of DAWN of the brother, but at that time I could not read English, and not until after two years did I commence to read it. It was hard for me to get rid of all my inherited prejudices; but, thank God! I can now see what the Word of God teaches and also the value of Christ’s sacrifice; and I have tried to present the truth the best I could to my countrymen.
I am glad to inform you that in my judgment the Swedish translation of DAWN is very good, and I will circulate as many as possible. Please remember me in your prayers, and be sure that when at the throne of grace I always remember you.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
A. T. ERICSON.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Received your very kind letter, and appreciate very much your kindly interest in my spiritual welfare. I realize the necessity of walking close to God, and striving day by day to cultivate the mind that was in our Savior.
I also feel the need of approaching the throne often in order to renew my strength to continue the conflict. I feel as if I had more temptation to endure now than when I first embraced the truth; yet, while they are at first grievous, I ought to rejoice in them as giving opportunities to build up a Christian character—if rightly resisted. The glorious end of our high calling grows more precious to me as the time grows nearer. Sometimes Satan injects the thought that I am very presumptuous to aspire to be part of the Bride class; but I am fully satisfied that if I draw back now, the Lord will have no pleasure in me. I fully realize the importance of walking humbly before the Lord, of following him who was meek and lowly of heart; and yet, while I am striving to this end, my poor, fallen nature gives me a great deal of trouble, so that I am very often grieved at my slow progress in Christian development. Nevertheless, the sincere desire of my heart is that I may walk more worthy of the vocation wherewith I am called, so that by attending faithfully to the Lord’s will, mine may be the joy of sharing his name, his honor, his glory, as partaker with him in the divine nature.
Your brother in Christ,
S. J. RICHARDSON [Colporteur].
DEAR BROTHER:—Enclosed please find order for 200 or more DAWNS. Am doing better here than I expected. It looks now as though it would take me two or three months to finish up.
My health is very good, and I have sufficient encouragement to keep my spirits cheerful. Had one very snowy day in which I worked some among the stores. Found one man who recognized me as one who left a tract there once. He said he usually tore such things up, but this he put into his pocket. Did not know why, but read it, sent to the office for VOL. I., read it, liked it and bought the other two volumes of me.
So the work goes on. Those who hunger and thirst for the truth will find it. The Lord as a good Overseer is watching the work and will guide it all right. As I see the work going on, and the Kingdom class building up, I feel like shouting, Glory!
Yours in full sympathy with the work,
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