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VOL. XVII. NOVEMBER 15, 1896. No. 22.
Special Items……………………………… 266
View from the Tower………………………… 267
Future Probation…………………………… 269
Mr. Dimbleby and Mr. Totten Heard From…………………………… 271
Sealed Unto the Day of Redemption…………… 272
“Hell No Part of Divine Revelation”…………… 274
Splitting Things Fine……………………… 275
“Unauthorized Workers”……………………… 276
Questions of General Interest………………… 277
The Fame of Solomon………………………… 277
Solomon’s Sin……………………………… 279
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
OUR October 1. issue pointed out that according to the prophecy of the Apostle James the recent election would fail to relieve the “reapers.” The results have corroborated the prophecy. Earnest and honest men were on both sides of the contention, and the tremendous efforts against silver carried the day. The majority saw that, while the “fraud” was easy to introduce, it would be difficult to expel; that at least one year of great financial depression must result, before legislation could be secured which would restore silver to its former relationship and equal privileges with gold; and having greater confidence in Shylock’s assertions than in their own judgment, they chose the immediate better and ignored the future and thus helped fulfill prophecy.
The managers of the successful party declare that now bimetallism will be established by international agreement, and that thus agriculturalists will be relieved. But taking the divine Word for our guide, we do not expect relief for the “reapers” in any form. Rather, their burden will increase, and their cry, already begun, will grow louder, and eventually place many of those formerly law abiding amongst the lawless.
There is every indication that the next year or two may be quite prosperous, because of the shortage of merchandise incident to the past three years of depression; but eventually prices for labor and for goods will gravitate toward still lower levels, barring wars, famines, etc.
* * *
Notwithstanding the outward harmony maintained by the Church of Rome, she has her own internal disorders in every quarter. In Italy her conflict is with the Government; in Russia it is with the Greek Church; in Great Britain it is with the Church of England; in France it is with the Masons; and in this land of liberty it is with freedom’s institutions and progressive ideas, especially with free schools.
In the French republic the papal influence until lately has always been with the monarchical parties (as a threat this is now being reversed); in Italy it is thrown against monarchical parties, and the people of Italy who, to the number of about probably five million voters, have for years, at the command of the Pope, refrained from voting are now to use their votes to embarrass the Government and in favor of republican institutions. In the United States, for some years back, the Papal policy has been extremely liberal (for it); Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop Ireland and Bishop Keane have been leaders in an attempt to form a liberal, American-Papal policy. For a time they succeeded. The Council of Baltimore permitted Roman Catholics in the United States to read the Bible, Protestants were no longer to be treated as heretics, whose end was a hopeless eternity in hell and anguish, but as “separated brethren,” many of whom were honest and, like Romanists, would go to Purgatory, but being without beads or prayers to Mary or masses, holy candles and the like, they would be obliged to stay longer in Purgatory than would faithful Romanists; but the under-surface intrigue of the Jesuitical party has finally triumphed, and the whole policy of the Papacy is to be made more conservative. The infallible Pope is not left to himself, but is assisted by advisers and counselors, whose mouthpiece he
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really is; and Protestants will no longer be permitted to go to “Purgatory,” but will be sent directly and forever to “Hell.”
This change of policy is noticeable in the Encyclical dealing with the Anglican question—no special desire being manifested to conciliate the Church of England, but rather the reverse. More recently Bishop Keane has been removed from the Chancellorship or Presidency of the Washington City (Roman Catholic) College. And now it is reported that Archbishop Ireland is in disfavor at Rome and will suffer degradation in some manner. Probably Cardinal Gibbons, who has been very cautious, may be permitted to continue for some time, if he continues tongue-tied.
Without much doubt fear lies at the bottom of this policy. The Italian prelates hold control of the Papacy, and intend to hold it. They no doubt realize that the Anglo-Saxon race is the more brilliant and would out-shine them and eventually capture the control of their system; hence they do not desire union with the Church of England, lest it should turn out that Papacy had joined the Church of England and not the Anglicans joined the Church of Rome. And the Pope has been obliged to yield to their pressure, which is manifesting itself here in the United States also, and has already declared against any further cooperation with Protestants in any future Parliaments of Religion.
This change of policy on the part of Rome should not be understood to signify antagonism and hostilities between Romanists and Protestants: it does, however, corroborate the Scriptural testimony to which we have frequently called attention,—that the two will never unite in one system; that the coming Protestant federation will be distinct from Catholicism and that, while treating each other with respect and in many matters cooperating, the two parties will really be in opposition as the two sides of the great “scroll” (Rev. 6:14; Isa. 34:4) down to the time of their mutual and sudden collapse.
The situation as respects the United States is well set forth in the following extracts from prominent journals:—
The Western Watchman (Roman Catholic, St. Louis) says:—
“Tell the truth. Rome removed Bishop Keane. Cardinal Satolli advised the measure. The Germans had nothing to do with it. Rome did not want the young priests of America to be taught Pelagianism. The advocates of the doctrine that any form of Protestantism is better than no religion at all, claim Cardinals Manning and Newman for their contention. Neither
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of the English cardinals was regarded as a theologian in Rome, and at the time of their death neither enjoyed the slightest influence in Rome. Pelagianism must be stamped out. Man is in the supernatural order and whether pagan or Christian is obliged to tend to his supernatural end. Grace is an aid to that end. The church is a guide to that end. Protestantism is a siren. It sings to the seafarer and allures him to the breakers. Protestantism is the enemy of God; of God’s truth; of God’s church. It is not better than nothing, because good for nothing.”
The Christian Standard (Disciples, Cincinnati) says:
“The virtual deposition of Bishop Keane from the Catholic University at Washington, D.C., is taken to mean that the ultramontane policy is to prevail in Roman Catholic affairs in this country, rather than the liberal policy voiced by Archbishop Ireland. No doubt there is a genuine fear in the highest circles of papal authority that the so-called liberal policy advanced by certain ecclesiastics of this country means rather the making of Americans out of Catholics, than of Catholics out of Americans.”
The Mid-Continent (Presbyterian, St. Louis) says:
“With all its outward show of smoothness the Roman Catholic machinery suffers many a jolt. The vigorous protest over the removal of Bishop Keane, the late executive head of the Catholic University at Washington, is a jar that threatens to work much confusion. … It brings to a point of issue the opposing American factions; those who believe that in America Romanism must adapt itself somewhat to environment, that it must be ‘liberalized;’ and those who stand for the Romanism of Spain and Italy on this side the sea. Keane, with Gibbons and Ireland, stand for this progressive movement. Corrigan of New York, Wigger and Schroeder stand for ultra-conservatism. The removal of Keane, with all its crafty explanations, is, of course, the ban of Rome placed upon that progressiveness.”
The Western Christian Advocate (Methodist, Cincinnati) says:—
“The removal of Bishop Keane from the rectorship of the Catholic University at Washington might ordinarily pass for an unimportant piece of Catholic domestic economy, not to be noticed by the outside world. But his removal because of his adherence to the liberal elements of Catholicism, represented by Archbishop Ireland, and as a result of the plottings of the clerical or Jesuitical section, at once make it a matter of momentous significance.”
A Washington correspondent of the Boston Transcript gives the following as the “true inwardness” of the present situation:—
“There are two distinct classes in the Catholic Church. One class is made up of the Orders—the Jesuits, Augustinians, Paulists, Dominicans and others. The other class is made up of the general rank and file of the clergy, who have attached themselves to no particular Order. Each order attends to some particular line of work, the Jesuits to teaching, other Orders to missionary work, others to charity, etc. Gradually the Orders have drawn away from the clergy who are outside of the Orders. The two classes may be illustrated by the Catholic University and the Georgetown University, both leading Catholic institutions here in Washington. The Catholic University is conducted by the secular clergy, that is, by those outside of the
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Orders; while Georgetown University is conducted by the Jesuits, or those attached to the Orders.
“From the arrival of Satolli this latent antagonism between the Orders and the ‘seculars’ began to develop. The seculars had in their ranks such conspicuous men as Archbishop Ireland and Bishop Keane. Moreover, the seculars had become identified with a progressive and advanced policy which sought to send Catholic children to public schools instead of parochial schools. On the other hand, the Orders, conspicuously the Jesuits, represented the old adherence to Catholic colleges, Catholic schools, and to the religious training which they regarded as more essential than the intellectual training of a child. Naturally, therefore, there was much comment when Satolli took up his residence at the Catholic University, where he was the guest of Bishop Keane. It was regarded among ecclesiastics as settling that the Pope’s representative had cast his influence with the seculars and against the Orders. It was a proud day for Archbishop Ireland and the many others who, with him, had been urging the advanced and liberal policy. But this satisfaction changed unexpectedly when Satolli took his leave of Bishop Keane and established permanent quarters for the papal legation in the remote Eastern section of Washington, within a Jesuit parish. It was the parish of St. Aloysius, with Father Gillespie at its head. He is a scholarly Jesuit, and his adherence to the doctrine of parochial education is shown by Gonzaga College, which he is expanding to the dimensions of a great seat of learning. Thus Satolli was suddenly transferred from the seculars to the Orders. From that time, Satolli made most of his public appearances at the Jesuit church, and the Jesuits were his most intimate and most constant associates.”
This correspondent, noting the appointment of Mgr. Martinelli (Italian) as successor to Mgr. Satolli as papal Ablegate in the United States, continues:—
“Martinelli is of the Augustinians, an Order marked for its austerities. His choice, therefore, is even more conspicuous as a recognition of the Orders than would have been the choice of a Jesuit. The head of an Order is placed in a position over seculars as well as Orders. There is no doubt, however, that the judicial temperament of Martinelli will save him from an undue preference to the Orders. At the same time the Orders are entrenched, while Archbishop Ireland and the other seculars see their power waning.”
* * *
The New York Tribune of Nov. 5, says editorially:
“For more than a quarter of a century the Catholics in Italy have been debarred by order of the Church from taking any part in Parliamentary elections. To what extent these commands of the Vatican have been obeyed may be gathered from the fact that in a country of practically universal suffrage, where the adult male population numbers according to the latest census considerably over 10,000,000, not more than 1,600,000 have ever yet cast their votes at the polls at any general election. …
“The Pope, having found no disposition on the part of the present Italian dynasty to come to an understanding either with regard to the temporalities of the Papacy, or upon any other subject, has wisely decided to throw in his lot with the republic, as being the form of the Government of the future. With that prescience which sometimes comes to men on the border of the grave, he apparently foresees that the days of the monarchical system not alone in Italy, but in all other parts of the world, are drawing to a close, and accordingly he is maneuvering the sails of the church so as to adapt them to the wind of democracy. That is why he has just astounded the Catholic world by appointing as Nuncio to Paris a prelate entirely devoid of diplomatic experience, whose only recommendation is that he is an ardent Republican; that is why he professes such unbounded admiration for America and American institutions, and that also is the reason why the Catholic electors, now for the first time sent to the polls, are openly recommended by the Vatican to disassociate themselves from the cause of the monarchy and to prepare to accept another form of government—that is to say, a republic. …
“Should one of these days the ruined, starving and overtaxed population rise up in its despair to overthrow a dynasty that has transformed Italy from the fairest and gladdest country in Europe into the saddest, it will be found that the Papacy will have weathered this as so many previous storms, and that with all sail set to the democratic wind it is riding safely on the stormy waves of the revolution.”
To our understanding the present Italian government is the seventh head of the “beast” (Rev. 17:9-11) which has continued “a short space,” represented in the present monarch and his father Victor Immanuel. According to this prophecy Rome will never have another head—the eighth condition will be the beast without a head,—either a republic or anarchy. If a republic, we shall shortly expect anarchy, “perdition.”
All the signs of our time corroborate prophecy and bid us lift up our heads and rejoice that our redemption draweth nigh.
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A contemporary says:—”ONE seemingly plausible argument in favor of a future probation is the alleged fact that a large percentage of the race are cut down in infancy by the scythe of death before accepting or rejecting the offers of salvation; and this is coupled with the claim that faith is essential to salvation in all cases. At first glance, this surface claim may be deemed reliable; but candid reflection will spoil it in a moment.
“1. While there is death among children in this age, the theory of probation in the next age insists that there will also be death among children born in that age: so those children dying there, will as really
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be entitled to another age of probation as those who die
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in this age; and so on indefinitely. This proves too much or proves nothing.
“2. While faith is required in adults, unaccountable infants are never placed under that law: ‘Of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ We cannot go back of this divine rule: ‘Thy children shall come again.'”
(1) This is poor logic as well as poor exposition of Scripture. If it were true that all children dying in infancy are saved eternally without a future trial or risk of the Second Death, it would follow that Herod of old, who slew so many infants, was the greatest, the most successful missionary of his day; for he made sure work of it. If the writer of the above believes what he says, he should follow the example of some who, becoming mentally unbalanced under such false teachings, have killed their children “to insure their going to heaven,” as they expressed it. If this writer’s theory be true, laws should be passed to hinder physicians from exerting their skill to keep alive young children, because they thus more than double the number which reach maturity, and according to this theory are keeping many from reaching eternal bliss. According to this theory infanticide, instead of being punished, should be encouraged by rewards and premiums; and no doubt such false and irrational teachings as the above quotation do act as a premium, and encourage the mentally and physically weak and depraved.
The theory is illogical, further, in that it presupposes that God is acting irrationally, in placing millions on millions of human beings under present conditions for no reason or useful purpose; because, if there be no necessity for the development of character by experience and trials, so that a blank is more desirable in God’s esteem than the painstaking and tear-washed, though imperfect, page of Christian character, it would seem very cruel and loveless, if nothing worse, on God’s part, to expose so many millions to the buffetings of the world, the flesh and the devil;—especially with the foreknowledge that “few there be that find” the strait gate and narrow way in “this present evil world.”
As to the Scripture passage cited: We hold that it is here and frequently given a false interpretation. We hold that our Lord did not mean to be understood that the blank of childish character is the ideal standard of God’s Kingdom. Another of the Evangelists tells that our Lord, coming to his disciples, found them disputing as to which of them should be considered greatest or chief, and that he, setting a child in their midst as a sample of guilelessness and humility, told them that, unless they became as a little child, they should have no share in the Kingdom;—not as a little child in stature, nor in blankness of undeveloped character, but in humility, simplicity, guilelessness. “Of such [like] is the Kingdom of heaven.” As the Apostle urged, “Be not children in knowledge [character], howbeit in malice be ye children.” (1 Cor. 14:20.) And this evidently covers the point of our Lord’s remarks about children, as understood by the Apostles; for surely they never expressed such ideas as we are here criticizing.
Our Lord frequently spoke of his followers as “children,” “little children” and “little ones.” See the following instances: John 13:33; Matt. 10:42; 18:6,10,14; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2. These were the “little ones” in malice and pride and in the world’s estimate, among whom there would not be many great or wise or learned, according to the course of this world;—these were to overcome the world by faith and faithfulness, even unto death; and as “overcomers” were to share Christ’s throne as heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord, if so be that they would suffer with him that they might also be glorified together.—Rom. 8:17.
The promise concerning Rachel’s children is mentioned as a proof that they will have no trial, but are saved; however, a reference to the prophet’s words (Jer. 31:16,17) shows that in this Scripture, also, the writer has made a misapplication; for so far from the children being saved or in the Kingdom, the prophet declares, “they shall come again from the land of the enemy“—the general prison-house of death. They shall indeed come therefrom, thank God! Our Lord Jesus gave himself a ransom for ALL, and hence in due time, as our Lord declared, “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice and come forth;” some to the first resurrection and some unto a “resurrection by judgment;”*—and then “they that hear [obey, see Acts 3:22,23] shall live“—everlastingly.—John 5:25,28,29.
*See our issue of Oct. 15, page 246, and our issue of Aug. 15, ’95, for explanation of “Resurrection by Judgment.”
(2) Faith in the promise of God, that Christ and the Church constitute the true Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16,29), and that in and by this Seed, according to the Lord’s promise, “all the families of the earth shall be blessed;” and that it is for this purpose that the Kingdom—the Millennial Kingdom—is to be given to Christ and the overcoming Church (Rev. 2:26,27; 1 Cor. 15:25), makes no claim such as this writer suggests, namely, that infants will die during the Millennial age as now.
On the contrary, it claims in the words of the Prophet Isaiah (65:17-20) when describing the new heavens and new earth conditions, that “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, … for as a lad shall one die a hundred years old; and as a sinner shall he be accursed who (dieth) a hundred years old.”
This is in agreement with the Scriptural assurances that, when the Kingdom of God is established in
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the earth, the high-way of life will be made clear and open to all (Isa. 35:8), and that only such as wilfully refuse to walk therein shall die at all, and they the Second Death; from which there is no resurrection, no recovery, provided. “Every soul which will not hear [obey] that prophet [the great prophet, Christ Jesus the head and the Church his body,—the antitype of Moses] shall be destroyed from among the people.”—Acts 3:23.
Thank God for a good hope, a Scriptural hope, a reasonable and logical hope,—for the Church now a high calling to a joint-heirship in the Kingdom with immortality; and for “whosoever will” of “all the families of the earth,” when in due time the grace of God shall be extended to them, a restitution of all that was lost in Adam. And, let us not forget it, “He that [truly] hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he [Christ, his redeemer and exemplar] is pure.”
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MR. DIMBLEBY AND MR. TOTTEN HEARD FROM
IN our issue of May 15th we called attention to the pretentious claims of some teachers to give a “Bible chronology,” though really they merely attempt to force the Bible’s time-records into harmony with the secular records, which are admittedly broken, pieced and wholly uncertain. We showed, moreover, that the claim that any chronology from Adam to Christ can be proved by astronomy down to the fraction of a minute, or in any degree, is purest nonsense; because, although eclipses, etc., past or future, can be calculated by astronomy, no facts of Bible history and chronology are so stated as to permit astronomy to be applied to them; and no other chronological history goes back connectedly or reasonably half way—3,000 years. We also pointed out years of miscalculation in their minute-exact “proofs.”
Furthermore, we called attention to the foundationless predictions of Mr. Totten concerning the period from 1892 to 1899, all of which, up to the present date, are of course absolute failures. The holy spirit was not withdrawn in the Spring of 1892, the predicted man—Antichrist did not arise then and deceive the Jews into worshiping him and building him a temple at Jerusalem, he did not sit as God in that temple in 1895; Mr. Totten and his faithful followers were not taken up to heaven at that date; and his man—Antichrist has not been holding high carnival on earth and fulfilling Rev. 13:15-17, and consequently he will not continue the carnival and complete it in the spring of 1899.
We have since heard from Mr. Dimbleby, who writes in a kindly manner, which is convincing that, notwithstanding his errors, his intentions are good. He claims that he used cycles, transits, etc., in a manner common to all astronomers. We are ready to admit probably all that Mr. Dimbleby would claim on this line: our contention is, and the verdict of all unbiased astronomers would be, that these cycles cannot be used as measures of history unless there be astronomical facts noted in the history. If Genesis told the exact location of the stars, or if it very particularly described an eclipse, its very minute, etc., when Adam was created, then astronomy would measure the chronology; or if such a minute record were given in the account of the end of the flood, when Noah entered the 601st year of his age, we could locate that date and use the Bible history back of that to Adam. But Mr. Totten’s absurd claims about “Joshua’s long day” (which neither Mr. Dimbleby nor any other astronomer could endorse) furnishes not one shred of evidence upon which to base an astronomic calculation. There are absolutely no astronomical facts noted in Bible history; consequently astronomy can neither prove nor disprove Bible chronology.
Mr. Dimbleby notes our criticism of the slip of his pencil implied in his statement that 2520 solar years exactly correspond to 2595 lunar years. He claims that in our showing of a difference of over five years we neglected some fractions. We reply, that we took his statement of 354 days to a lunar year as the basis of our calculation, supposing that he had so calculated. Mr. Dimbleby’s tract reads thus: “A Solar Year is 365-1/4 days. A Lunar Year is 354 days.” But, allowing for all the fractions, Mr. Dimbleby is two years and one hundred and nineteen days astray,—entirely
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too much for an astronomical “proof,” exact to the minute.
We will here give our calculations:—
A lunar-year (354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes and 36.04 seconds) reduced contains 30,617,316.04 seconds.
A solar-year (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds) contains 31,556,926 seconds.
In 2520 solar-years there are therefore 79,523,453,520 seconds; and this number divided by 30,617,316.04 (the seconds of a lunar-year) shows that 2597 lunar-years, 119 days, 36 minutes and 4.12 seconds are the equivalent of 2520 solar-years and not exactly 2595 years, as Mr. Dimbleby stated.
Mr. Dimbleby wrote in good spirit. Without endeavoring further to urge the exactness of his chronological beliefs, he rejoiced with us that the end of all things pertaining to “this present evil world” is near; and that the Kingdom of God is at hand; and expressed
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the hope that we should soon stand shoulder to shoulder in the Kingdom; a hope which we heartily share.
We have also heard from Mr. Totten, but evidently he wrote in a very different spirit, what is unworthy of a reply: He endeavors to draw attention away from his errors, which we have pointed out, by making a furious attack upon the Bible Chronology which we present, interlarding it with sarcasm and personal abuse. We have no disposition to contend along lines of personal abuse, seeing the Lord has given us more important work to do.
The Bible chronology of MILLENNIAL DAWN rejects all the claimed outside corrections of the Bible, and makes no attempt at minute-exactness, but accepts the Bible record, wherein we trust that the Lord has provided a true chronology whose laps and shorts balance each other; indeed, we have found none other so clearly stated.
We force this chronology upon no one, and make no absurd and deceptive claims concerning it. Those who come to the Word of God in simplicity and sincerity, disentangled from preconceived ideas, find in it a very substantial basis for faith respecting the times and seasons of the divine plan of the ages;—especially when they observe that it is abundantly and beautifully corroborated by the prophecies, the Jubilees, Israel’s Double, the Times of the Gentiles, the Days of Waiting, the signs of the times; all harmonious and easily understood by even the “common people” of the consecrated class, who hear gladly. And these God evidently intended should hear and be assured by proofs within the range of their comprehension. We submit the chapter and verse for every figure down to the end of the seventy years desolation of the land in the first year of Cyrus—the well established and generally accepted date, B.C. 536.*
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., chapter 2.
Mr. Totten neither denies nor acknowledges his gross errors and false predictions;+ unless it be in the words,—”We shall not … attempt to explain the occasional presence of dead flies in some of the early samples of our ointment.” The dead flies (untruths) he indirectly and very unjustly lays to the charge of Mr. Dimbleby, and still he refuses to pick out even those flies admitted to be dead. The fact is that these “dead flies” (errors) are the very essence of his compound, and if all were taken out, nothing of the “Totten Ointment” would remain.—See Eccl. 10:1.
+See our issue of May 15, ’96.
Following our rule, we made no personal attack upon Mr. Totten: we merely obeyed our conscience as to duty in calling the attention of the Lord’s people to those “dead flies;” because some, not noticing the “flies” (errors) nor the bad odor (bad spirit), were in danger of using Totten’s “ointment”—”as advertised”—as the eyesalve commended by the Lord in Rev. 3:18.
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SEALED UNTO THE DAY OF REDEMPTION
“After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise, which is the earnest [the pledge] of our inheritance until the redemption [Greek—apolutrosis, a loosing away or deliverance.—See also Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:23.] of the purchased possession.” “Grieve not the holy spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption [deliverance].”—Eph. 1:13,14; 4:30.
THE expression, “sealed unto the day of deliverance,” carries with it the idea that at an appointed day all of the sealed ones will be delivered. And the Apostle further emphasizes this thought when he speaks of the sealing as an earnest or pledge of our inheritance until the day of deliverance. The seal which thus marks all of those worthy of deliverance is here declared to be “the holy spirit of God.” It is elsewhere called the spirit of Christ, because in Christ the spirit of God dwelt richly and without measure (Col. 1:19; 2:9; John 3:34); and whom God did foreknow as heirs of his exceeding great and precious promises, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.—Rom. 8:29.
The use of the term “sealed” in this connection is very significant when we consider the importance of the seal, which has been in use from remote antiquity. A seal is an authoritative impression affixed to an important document. When affixed by the originator of the document it testifies to its genuineness, and to the deliberation with which it has been executed. When affixed according to legal requirement, it not only thus authenticates, but it also ratifies, confirms and declares the document legal; and thus it becomes the pledge or assurance of its fulfilment. Hence, any act or other instrumentality which legally confirms or ratifies a statement, promise or agreement may properly be called a seal to such statement, promise or agreement.
It is thus that the inspired writers symbolically apply the term to God’s gift of the holy spirit to the Church, which testifies to their divine recognition as sons and heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, if so be that they suffer with him, even unto death. This sealing with the holy spirit is not accomplished by act of the individual sealed: it is the stamp of God, impressed by God upon all his believing and truly consecrated
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children. Those whose faith accepts, in childlike simplicity, the provision of God for redemption through the precious blood of Christ, with full purpose of heart to conform to his holy will in all things, and thus sanctify (set apart) themselves unto God and separate themselves from the world, are also sanctified (set apart) by God, being sealed, stamped, with his holy spirit for the day of deliverance.
That blessed day is the resurrection day, the Millennial day, early in the morning of which the overcoming Church will be delivered.—”God shall help her when the morning appeareth.” (Psa. 46:5, margin.) While carefully guarding the seal of promise, we may, therefore, as the apostles indicate, look for that blessed hope at the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, who shall then change our vile body—the Church, both individually and collectively—and make it like unto his glorious body; for, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Titus 2:12,13; 1 Pet. 1:7; Phil. 3:20,21; Col. 3:4.) It was to this blessed day that Paul looked forward with joyful hope, and to which he bade all of those look forward who, like himself, were sealed with the same holy spirit of promise, the earnest of their inheritance, saying, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”—2 Tim. 4:8.
This “seal” is called the “holy spirit of promise” because it is of itself a foretaste, a firstfruit, a pledge, of that blessedness into which those who possess it and hold it fast shall by and by be delivered. Now, as Paul says (Rom. 8:23), having this first fruit of the spirit in the imperfect earthen vessel which cannot fully and satisfactorily carry out the mind of the new spirit, and hence in which we groan within ourselves, realizing both these divine aspirations and our human shortcomings, we longingly wait for the glorious deliverance provided at the appointed day,—the deliverance or birth of those now begotten of the spirit of God, quickened by his mighty power, and developing daily toward the stage of birth,—the deliverance into the glorious likeness of our Lord and Head, in which we, like him, shall be filled with all the fulness of God, which Paul sets forth as the grand ultimatum of Christian attainment—”That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Eph. 3:19.) Toward this end every truly overcoming child of God is constantly aspiring, and should be able from time to time to note perceptible degrees of progress; for even though in this tabernacle of the flesh we groan, being burdened with a weight of inherent imperfection, it is our duty and privilege daily to press toward this mark of holiness and Christlikeness, fully assured that, in due time, if we faint not in our strivings, we shall be delivered into the likeness of our Lord and Head.
In this view of the matter how important it is that those who hope for the deliverance should see to it that the seal of God is clearly stamped upon their hearts, that they have this holy spirit of promise constantly witnessing with their spirits that they are in deed and
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in truth sons and heirs of God. Nor is it enough that we have the recollection that at one time in the long-ago we were sealed with this spirit, if at the present time neither we nor our friends can discern the impression. The witness, to be of any value, must be a present witness, and must so continue to the end.
In order to the receiving of this divine impress or seal of God, the soul, having first by faith gratefully accepted the redemption provided in Christ Jesus, must also be in a plastic or receptive condition toward all the influences of divine grace, just as wax, being plastic, readily receives an impression; and, like wax, it must also have that cohesive quality whereby it may retain and preserve that impression. Such plastic and cohesive qualities of the soul consist in (1), a loving and grateful submission of the whole heart and life to God; and (2), a resolute purpose and fixed principles of action. Unless the soul be in this attitude it would be impossible either to receive or to retain the seal or stamp of God. The stony heart will not take the divine impress. Nor could the unstable heart, or the double-minded man retain it (Jas. 1:6-8), such not having enough of the cohesive quality of stability and fixed principle. As in dough or other soft substances, it would soon subside and disappear, especially if some, however little, of the leaven of sin be permitted to work in it.
It is to the possibility of thus losing this divine impress upon the soul, that the Apostle refers in charging the people of God not to grieve the holy spirit whereby they are sealed. If we are fully and continuously submitted to the will and power of God, the impression of this seal should deepen with the passing years and become more and more distinctly legible; but, on the contrary, if we do not so continue to yield ourselves to the will and power of God, but allow the leaven of sin to abide and to work in us, we thus resist and grieve the holy spirit, which, if we continue to do, will in time result in the obliteration of the seal of God, and in the loss of that inheritance of which its possession was the pledge. Grieve not the spirit, efface not the seal, despise not the inheritance, but hold fast the seal, the pledge of your inheritance, and let its blessed impression deepen upon the soul, that, when the appointed day of deliverance shall have fully come, this clearly legible, God-given pledge may prominently attest its claim to be redeemed by the payment of that fulness of
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the divine bounty of which it is declared by the voice of inspiration to be the pledge.
Another thought in connection with this sealing is that, while the impression is distinctly felt upon the heart of the believer and is thus a testimony to himself of his divinely recognized kinship with God, it is also manifest to others; and it becomes more and more thus outwardly manifest as the impression deepens, bearing to the world its testimony of the wisdom, power and grace of God, and even in its silent eloquence convincing the world of sin, of righteousness and of a coming judgment.—John 16:8.
It is not possible that any man should bear this divine impress or seal of God—even the first impression of it before the discipline of years has deepened and marked its outlines more distinctly and prominently—without its being observed by those with whom he comes in contact. Such is its transforming power that it will attract attention as strongly in contrast with the spirit of the world; and that without the slightest reference to it by its possessor. And if the seal, in its general outlines at least, is thus manifest even to the world, how much more distinctly should its features be discerned by those whose vision is clarified by the spirit of truth. Such quickly recognize in each other the stamp of God, and feel consequently a heavenly affinity which leads to a blessed fellowship and communion of spirit; and where the spirit of God is, there all the fruits of the spirit grow, and the more luxuriantly as the weeds of easily besetting sin, which are ever prone to spring up, are kept down.
If asked to describe the outlines of the seal of God upon his people, we could not do better than refer to the words of the Apostle, who speaks of it as “putting on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Eph. 4:24.) And again, it is the image of God’s dear Son. (Rom. 8:29.) Let us see to it that this seal is ours, and that its impress upon our hearts is becoming daily more and more distinct.
MRS. M. F. RUSSELL.
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“HELL NO PART OF DIVINE REVELATION”
“AN article under the above title, by the Rev. W. E. Manley D.D., appeared in the Arena. The writer begins by laying down the proposition that there is no term in the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures which has the meaning of the English word hell, and continues:—
“When our late revision of the Bible was in progress, Canon Farrar (now Archdeacon and Doctor Farrar) said in substance as follows:—’If the revisers do their whole duty, when their work is done our Bible will not contain the word hell, nor damnation, nor everlasting punishment.’ This covers the whole ground of our proposition, and something more. The revisers, it seems, have not done their whole duty, though they have gone a good way in that direction. There are four words in the Bible that are translated hell, though not uniformly so translated. One of these is a Hebrew word, sheol, and is found in the Old Testament sixty-five times. In the old version it is rendered thirty-one times hell, thirty-one times grave, and three times pit. In the revision it is rendered hell fifteen times, grave fifteen times, pit five times, and is left untranslated thirty times. The revisers admit that the word does not mean hell, but say it is a place of departed spirits, good and bad, and must therefore embrace a hell and a paradise, though these places, and the separation between them, are nowhere mentioned or alluded to in that part of the Bible. With the views the revisers had of sheol, it was manifestly improper to render the word either hell or grave. There was but one consistent course to take, and that was to give the original in every instance, as they have done in nearly half of them, and as the New Testament revisers have done with the word hades. In passing, we may remark that Sheol was the proper name of the first king of the Hebrew nation, and of him who became the apostle to the Gentiles, with some difference of pronunciation—a pretty good evidence that their respective parents did not attach to the word the meaning of hell, unless it had to them a more musical sound than it has to some of us. The true meaning of sheol is grave, and the translators of the old version have given their sanction to this view by so rendering the word in nearly half the instances in the ancient Scriptures; and if we add the three times it is rendered pit, often the synonym of grave, the rendering ‘grave’ will be in the majority. It should be borne in mind that the translators of the old or authorised version had but one word for the two renderings, ‘grave’ and ‘hell,’ and that the former was the sense of the term more often than the latter. It is as plain to us as anything well can be, that in the whole Hebrew Bible they could not find a word for the idea of hell. It is often affirmed by learned Hebrews that there is no such word in the Hebrew language, in the Bible, or in any other book. This is confirmed by the revisers, who confess that sheol has no such meaning; and they name no other word in the Hebrew language to fill the place. Finding no word for hell, they made use of the word sheol, grave, and attached to that the desired meaning when the connection would not betray the fraud. The meaning of hell was not in the word; but they could inject it, and then it would be there, and the Old Testament would not be obliged to bear the disgrace of having no hell. The people, having no knowledge of the Hebrew tongue, and not doubting that the translators, of high standing in the Church, were pious, good men, accepted the new version as an inestimable boon to the English people, as no doubt on the whole it is. The revisers confess that hell is a wrong translation; but they have not altogether rejected this rendering.”
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We commend to colporteurs, and to all interested in serving the Truth, the booklet “What Say the Scriptures about Hell?” (See second page.) It is quite convincing to readers in general that God’s Word has been misrepresented and misunderstood on this subject; and after reading it they are generally ready for the study of the divine plan of the ages.
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SPLITTING THINGS FINE
A contemporary, The Christian, says:—”SOME one, speaking of the different classes of Presbyterians, describes them as the ‘U.Ps,’ ‘R.Ps’ and ‘split Ps.’ The United States Census Bulletin shows how sectarianism runs to seed in America. In the United States there are about a hundred and forty different religious denominations. Among Presbyterians there are, ‘The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America,’ and ‘The Presbyterian Church in the United States,’ and four branches of ‘Reformed Presbyterians,’ and half a score of other brands of Presbyterians. There are four bodies calling themselves ‘Brethren,’ which are noted as I, II, III, IV. There is ‘The Reformed Church of America,’ and ‘The Reformed Churches in the United States.’ There are some twenty kinds of Methodists, and a number of kinds of Baptists, among which are mentioned, the ‘Six-Principle Baptists,’ the ‘River Brethren,’ the ‘Primitive,’ the ‘Free-Will,’ the ‘Original Free-Will,’ the ‘General’ and the ‘General Free-Will Baptists;’ to say nothing of the ‘Self-Will Baptists’ of which the colored brother spoke. Among the Societies of the ‘Friends’ are the ‘Orthodox,’ the ‘Hicksite,’ the ‘Wilburite’ and the ‘Primitive.’ The Lutherans have seventeen or eighteen distinct organizations. The Mennonites, with 41,000 communicants, have a dozen different branches. The people who specially claim to be looking for the Lord, and who have adopted the name ‘Adventists,’ are divided into half a dozen sects, each with their denominational organizations; and so men divide until it almost seems as if they would divide a man before they are done. …
“Said Dr. Philip Schaff, speaking on this subject, ‘By persecuting, abusing, and excommunicating each other, the churches do cruel injustice to their common Lord and his followers. They contract his Kingdom and his power. They lower in form his kingly throne to the headship of a party or school. They hate those whom he loves and for whom he died; they curse those whom he blesses, they violate the fundamental law of his gospel.’
“One result of this state of things is, that many devout men are unattached to any of these denominations. They love the Lord, and, like the Psalmist, desire to be companions of ‘all them that fear God;’ but they cannot tie themselves or bind themselves to any single sect or body of people, nor are they ready to accept the creeds and confessions which are, in many cases, imposed as prerequisites to membership in these denominations. Nor are they willing to bear the unscriptural and sectarian names which have been imposed upon the Christians, either as the nick-names of scoffing enemies, or the sectarian badges of men who aspire to leadership, and desire to impose their label upon their followers as the marks by which they know their sheep, as distinguished from the tokens by which the Lord knows his.
“Among the men who have given expression to this dislike of the denominationalism of the day, may be mentioned Abraham Lincoln who, though in former years skeptical, during his presidential career gave evidence of faith in God and a devout desire to serve him, but still remained unconnected with any denomination. To H. C. Deming, of Connecticut, he said:—
“‘When any church will inscribe over its altar, as its sole qualification for membership, the Savior’s condensed statement of the substance of both law and gospel, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself,’ that church will I join with all my heart and all my soul.'”
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But often even those who seem to see that something is wrong with nominal “churchianity,” fail to see in what the real wrong consists, and what is the true remedy.
Was it wrong for Protestants to secede from Roman Catholicism? No!
Was it wrong for John Wesley’s followers to secede from the Protestant Episcopal Church, when they conscientiously believed that they were moving in the right direction? No!
Is it wrong for any man or company of men to obey conscientiously their understanding of the teaching of God’s Word and the leading of his providence,—even if it make ten thousand splits? Certainly not!
How then can we harmonize these rights and duties of men to split up, with the central thought of the unity of the Church as expressed in our Redeemer’s prayer, when he said, “I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me—that they all may be one, even as thou Father and I are one?”
We answer, that our Lord had no reference to any earthly organization, sect or denomination. He referred to the true Church, whose names are written in heaven; and his words cannot properly be applied to any other.
So far as the splitting up is concerned, we may surprise some by declaring that in our view it has not gone far enough. Each split represented a conflict
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between truth and error; and the error, darkness and ignorance of Papacy’s enforced “union” of the eighth to the fifteenth centuries was so dense as to require all the splitting and reforming that has followed the breaking of its power, and more too; for the work of reform still lacks much of completion. We hope and labor that the good work of reforming and protesting against errors may go on and on, until each individual Christian will rest his faith (not in a denomination, large or small) but personally and individually in the Redeemer, and be united to Christ Jesus, the Head, as a member of his body—the only true Church.
For the past five centuries the Truth (strangled and bound hand and foot and buried by Antichrist in
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false creeds and systems) has been gradually awaking and struggling, and with some success, to get back to the light and life and liberty wherewith the true Christ made it free. Yet friends as well as foes have fought against this proper effort persistently; denouncing every reformer and liberty-lover, complimenting all who oppose reform, and tying on new “union” bandages as rapidly as possible.
As the good work of getting free from the fetters of human bondage and error progresses, it is like taking the outer shells off of a nut and getting at the meat, the kernel, the valuable part, which is of very different shape and substance from the original outward appearance. So the cracking and splitting up of the Papal system not only threw off an outer repulsive system of superstition and immorality but cracked the inner shell of unscriptural sectarian bondage in error; and the cracking and picking operation must progress, as it has progressed, until every atom of the real meat of the nut is freed from the shell.
Stripped of the outer shells we now see that the true Church is not composed of two hundred millions of professors, but instead is a “little flock” of fully consecrated believers, among whom are not many great or wise or noble or rich according to the estimate of this world. And we find the faith of this true Church as different from that of the mass as its numbers are different. It has three steps to which none of the true Church can object,—(1) Justification through faith in the precious blood of Christ; (2) Consecration in thought, word and deed to God and his cause as best they understand; (3) Growth in grace, knowledge and love.
Standing thus free, untrammeled by human creeds and bondages, but personally united to Christ, each will find in the others “members of the body of Christ,” and affinity, fellowship and love will unite them in the only “union” that is not injurious;—union in Christ, to whom, as living “branches” in the Vine, each is personally united.
But such liberty will not mean anarchy and disorder; for the wisdom that cometh from above which is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits,” no less than the words and example of our Lord through his apostles, will instruct them as to a propriety of order in their assemblies, for the benefit of all. (See our issue of Nov. 15, 1895, “Let All Things Be Done Decently and in Order.”)
The physical union of the Church, the entire body of Christ, will be in glory,—at the completion of the First Resurrection; for “we ourselves also groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption; to wit, the redemption [deliverance] of our body,”—the body of Christ.—Rom. 8:23.
Meantime let this “splitting things fine” continue; and let each individual Christian seek to be no longer a babe in Christian experience and knowledge but to attain the stature of manhood in Christ. (Eph. 4:13-15.) Too long has assent to human creeds taken the place of individual faith! Too long has membership in a popular or an unpopular denomination satisfied the conscience and taken the place of a personal covenant and union with the Redeemer. Too long have many lords, many faiths and many baptisms taken the place of the one Lord, one faith and one baptism, once delivered to the saints.
Such a splitting up of creeds and systems has been necessary to set free the Lord’s “sheep,” to prepare a cleansed sanctuary class truly united in Christ.—See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., chapter 4.
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“‘BY what authority doest thou these things?’ said the Jews to Christ, when he was healing the sick and casting out devils. He did the things, this was certain; it was equally certain that they could not do the things. They had authority, but no power; he had power, but they wanted to know his authority. He answered their question by asking another, ‘The baptism of John, was it from heaven or of men?’ They were in a dilemma. If they said, it was from heaven, then he could quote John’s endorsement of himself: if they said it was of men, they feared the people, for all men counted John as a prophet; and so, rather than be trapped, they lied themselves out of the difficulty and
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said, ‘We cannot tell.’ ‘Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things;’ was his ready reply.
“The enemies of God and truth seek by every possible means to hinder faithful workers from doing the will of the Lord. ‘They have no authority,’ ‘They are not duly appointed,’ ‘They have no credentials.’
“There are plenty of men who have authority to do everything but have no power to do anything: there are other men who may lack human authority, but yet have the authority of God and the Holy spirit. Said Mr. Spurgeon in a recently published sermon:—
“‘Remember Moses when they came to him and said that Eldad and Medad were prophesying in the camp; those two fellows had not been properly ordained, yet they were prophesying in the camp! What did Moses say? ‘Stop them directly! They have not ‘Rev.’ before either of their names, and certainly they have not M.A., or any other letters of the alphabet, after their names. Shut those fellows up?’ No, no! Moses said, ‘Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!’ And is not that what Christ would say, and have you say? Oh, let us have joy in our hearts when souls are saved, even though we may not be the instruments of their salvation, nor any of our denomination, but somebody quite apart from us! God has blessed him, and God be blessed for blessing him!’
—H. L. Hastings.”
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QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Question. M. DAWN claims that God’s promise to Abraham (Gen. 15:5; 22:17) included both the heavenly and the earthly “seed”—the former represented by the “stars of heaven” and the latter by the “sand upon the seashore.” Do you not think this strains the sense, since the sands and stars represent an almost innumerable number, while the heavenly seed (the Church) will be a comparatively small number—probably 144,000?
Answer. No; this does not seem to us a strained use of the language; but on the contrary both a reasonable and a beautiful application of the figures of speech used. We must remember that the Apostle Paul, when describing the resurrection of the Church (1 Cor. 15:41,42), uses this same figure, saying, “as star differeth from star in glory, so also is the [special or chief] resurrection of the [special or chief] dead.” The same figure is used in Daniel.—Dan. 12:3.
Since the “great company” of Rev. 7:9 will be spiritual, heavenly, and not an earthly or restitution class, it would properly be included in the star figure,—as well as the “little flock” which alone will receive the Kingdom and the divine or immortal nature.
These figures of speech are only approximate. We cannot suppose that the earthly seed will be as numerous as the grains of sand. “As the sand” gives the thought of resemblance and not of identical likeness or numbers.
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THE FAME OF SOLOMON
—NOV. 29.—1 KINGS 10:1-10,13.—
“Behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”—Matthew 12:42.
SOLOMON was in all his glory at the time of the visit of the Queen of Sheba in the twentieth year of his reign, when he was about forty years old. His fame as the most wonderful monarch of earth had not only made him renowned amongst the lesser nations surrounding Israel; but to the extremes of the civilization of that day his fame had spread. The visit of the Queen of Sheba tells of a great appreciation in that day for learning, wisdom and understanding. Herself evidently a more than ordinarily brilliant woman, the Queen wished to prove whether or not it could be the truth that had reached her ears respecting the great King of Israel.
She came to prove him with hard questions, not merely, we may suppose, with conundrums, which were popular in the East, but probably also with questions related to the sciences and arts and probably also with questions relating to wise government. Nor did her inquiries cease with these, but extended evidently to religion, as intimated in the first verse; for not only had she heard of his wisdom, but that in connection with “the name of the Lord.” Apparently she rightly associated in her mind Solomon’s greatness and wisdom and wealth with some special divine blessing. Perhaps, indeed, the story of Solomon’s choice of wisdom and of the Lord’s promises to him had spread abroad with his fame.
We have seen in previous lessons that up to this point in his career King Solomon was in favor with God, and that it was about this time that God appeared to him a second time to warn him against the dangers of his high position. The incident of this lesson, the visit of a Queen from the far off South-land to confer with him and to learn something concerning his God through whom this great blessing had come upon the nation of Israel, should have inspired Solomon with a fresh interest in his God and in his religion, and should have cultivated in him a desire to spread abroad the knowledge of the Lord amongst nations afar off. But, as we have seen, instead of choosing the right path of honoring God, serving his cause, blessing his people Israel, and instructing the nations round about, Solomon chose the wrong path of self-gratification and sin.
Solomon himself seems to have anticipated the coming of people from distant countries, because of the Lord’s blessing upon him, and in his prayer at the dedication of the temple he made mention of this and freely ascribed the honor and glory thereof to God, asking a blessing upon “a stranger that is not of thy people Israel, but coming out of a far country for thy name’s sake, when he shall come and pray toward this house; for they shall hear of thy great name and thy strong hand and of thy stretched out arm.” (1 Kings 8:41,42.) In all this Solomon very beautifully, modestly and properly gives the credit for his wisdom and greatness to God. And yet, so baneful was the influence of prosperity in his case, that, when he had reached the moment of greatest possibility for good, he forsook the Lord and his true wisdom.
(2-5) Sheba, the Queen’s home, was in southern Arabia, a land noted at that time for its immense wealth, and particularly for its perfumes. Of these the Queen brought a royal present to King Solomon, adding also spices from India. According to verse ten the quantity of wealth, spices, precious stones and perfumes was immense, the value of the gold alone being
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estimated at three million dollars. If this sum of gold seems fabulous for a present, its reasonableness is nevertheless borne out by the historian Rawlinson, who says, “Strabo relates that the Sabeans were enormously wealthy, and used gold and silver in a most lavish manner in their furniture, their utensils, and even on the walls, doors and roofs of their houses.”
The zeal of the Queen for wisdom is evidenced by the fact that she brought so valuable a treasure so long a distance upon camels, and to some extent through a wilderness where she was liable to the attacks of Bedouin robbers. Deservedly her quest for wisdom was rewarded. She communed with Solomon concerning all that was in her heart (mind); and was richly rewarded by having her every inquiry answered, by seeing the temple built to the glory of God, Solomon’s own palace just completed, the elaborate arrangements of its cuisine and the remarkable passage way leading from the palace to the temple. (See 2 Kings 16:18.) The last clause of verse five corresponds in meaning with the common expression of our day, “took her breath away,” as indicating overwhelming astonishment.
(6-8) Then the Queen confessed that, although she had been somewhat skeptical before coming, and had only half believed what she did hear, yet the half had not been told her of what she now saw and heard, bearing witness to Solomon’s wisdom and prosperity; and the summing up of her tribute of praise shows that she appreciated the wisdom of Solomon more even than his wealth and splendor, so that she almost envied his servants, who, continually with him, were blessed by the wise and gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.
(9) Her highest compliment and tribute to the King is recorded in verse nine, where she attributes Solomon’s excellent glory and wisdom to the Lord’s love of Israel; and she shows in this connection that she herself was a wise woman in attributing the Lord’s blessing and favor upon Solomon to be for the purpose of showing justice and establishing righteousness with his people Israel. Well had it been for King Solomon had he laid to heart and ordered his life according to these words of wisdom from the Queen of the South.
(10,13) Having concluded her visit, and given her presents, she received again presents from King Solomon; and although the kind and extent of the presents given her is not mentioned, they were probably of as great or greater value than those she brought to him; for it is a custom in oriental countries for kings and princes to give presents to each other according to
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their wealth, and Solomon was no doubt still more wealthy than the Queen.
We cannot apply this lesson of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon better than it has already been applied by our Lord. (Matt. 12:42.) As we have already noticed, our Lord Jesus was “the greater than Solomon”—the antitype greater than the type. He is the embodiment of wisdom, of justice, of righteousness, and in his possession God has placed riches of grace and glory and honor and dominion. When the kingdom is the Lord’s, and he is the governor amongst the nations, all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto him. (Psa. 22:27,28.) And when they shall witness the glory of Christ and the greatness of his kingdom under the whole heavens, the majesty of his Church, the true finished and glorified temple, the grandeur of all of his appointments and the blessings upon all who are his ministers or servants, they, with the Queen of the South, will agree that the half was never told them: that they had never dreamed of so wonderful and excellent a kingdom as that which God will thus establish amongst men, for which we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth,” etc. Concerning that New Jerusalem it is written, “The nations shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it;” and as the willing and obedient shall then present their homage and riches and spices and odors (prayers and good deeds), these will be accepted of them; and in return they shall have from the Greater than Solomon the riches of his grace, including divine favor and life everlasting.—1 Kings 10:24; Rev. 21:24.
We may apply a lesson also (though not as an antitype) to the gospel Church of this age, which by faith looks forward to and anticipates the great kingdom and renown of the Lord Jesus before the time to become joint-heirs with him in that kingdom. We, who were afar off, having heard of God’s grace in Christ, have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ through faith, and have heard the “wonderful words of life” and beheld with the eye of faith that which “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man,—the things which God hath in reservation for them that love him;” and we have accepted them, and have confessed and do confess that the half was never told us of the riches of divine grace in our Lord. Furthermore, we have presented to him all that we have and all that we are. Our best of desires and intentions, our best efforts, our means, our opportunities, our service. By our covenant we have laid these at his feet, and he has accepted them and made us his stewards to use and distribute them in his name; and, more than this, he has conferred upon us blessings which pertain not only to the life that now is but also to that which is to come.
Having received such grace, let us not faint, but hold fast the confidence of our rejoicing (while suffering with him for righteousness’ sake) firm unto the end.
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—DECEMBER 6.—1 KINGS 11:4-13.—
“Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”—1 Cor. 10:12.
AS Solomon was the wisest man, so also he was the most foolish man; for the greater the opportunity the greater the loss, and the greater the knowledge possessed the greater the sin in its misuse.
McLaren has truthfully said of Solomon:—
“There are many instances in history of lives of genius and enthusiasm, of high promise and partial accomplishment, marred and flung away, but none which presents the great tragedy of wasted gifts and blossoms never fruited in a sharper, more striking form than the life of the wise King of Israel, who, ‘in his later days,’ was ‘a fool.’ The goodliest vessel may be shipwrecked in sight of port.
“The sun went down in a thick bank of clouds, which rose from undrained marshes in his soul; and, stretched far up in the western horizon. His career in its glory and its shame preaches the great lesson which the Book of Ecclesiastes puts into his mouth as ‘the conclusion of the whole matter:’ ‘Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.'”
(4-6) “When Solomon was old.” We last saw him at forty entertaining the Queen of Sheba with his wisdom, and noted that at about that time the Lord appeared to him a second time to indicate that he had reached a crisis where he must choose the right or the wrong path of life—wisdom or folly. Solomon chose the wrong path. He gave himself up to self-gratification, to “every desire of his heart [mind].” The result was a premature old age, for he died about fifty-nine years old. We may suppose (verse 4) that Solomon was to be reckoned an old man from his fiftieth year onward; whereas really that should have been but the prime of his life had he walked in the ways of wisdom.
Contrary to the divine law (Deut. 17:17), Solomon multiplied wives till he had seven hundred. (Vs. 3.) Some of these “queens” were ladies of rank and refinement from the various royal families of surrounding nations, one being Pharaoh’s daughter. Solomon in his wisdom was esteemed by them, and they in turn were esteemed by him, not only for their personality, but because of the court alliance and influence with other kingdoms which it cemented. Having slipped from the path of obedience to God and integrity of heart, Solomon fell readily under the influence of his young wives into the support of idolatry. We are not to suppose that he ceased to believe in the only true God and believed in the heathen gods and idols and nonsense; but that he came gradually to feel that he wished to please his various wives. This thought is borne out by verse six, which declares not that Solomon left the Lord, but that he went not fully after the Lord, and that he did that which was evil in the Lord’s sight in sanctioning in any degree the idolatrous desires of his wives.
(7-8) Like all sins this one had its beginning—when Solomon built the high place or altar of Chemosh to satisfy his Moabitish wives; and what might be expected is told us in verse eight: that when one system of idolatry had been introduced, the other foreign wives claimed similar rights, privileges, altars, etc., for the divinities of their lands. In yielding to these Solomon no doubt had in mind the foreign maids and servants of these wives and yet more the visiting delegations of court representatives from those various lands which, finding altars and temples to their divinities, would praise Solomon for breadth of character. But very different was such praise from that of the Lord and from that of the Queen of Sheba, who recognized in her day Solomon’s true wisdom in his fidelity to Jehovah God.
(9,10) The Lord’s anger with Solomon was not a burst of fury nor a malicious anger. It was a righteous indignation against sin; and an anger of this sort is the only kind compatible with God’s character. It is the only kind, therefore, that the children of God should cultivate or exercise. While anger in the nature of hatred, malice, strife, envy should be put away by all who are seeking to be copies of God’s dear Son, anger in the sense of righteous indignation against wrong-doing, sin in its various forms, is proper; and although it should be used with great moderation, backed by love, there are circumstances and conditions in which it would be wrong not to have righteous anger and use it.
(11,12) The rending of the bulk of the kingdom from the hand of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was a part of the penalty for Solomon’s sin; yet it came in a natural way, and as the result of natural causes. The evil course which started in self-gratification and was manifested in the multiplication of wives and the gratifying of their desires for false religions did not stop there, but extended in other directions throughout Solomon’s affairs and kingdom. He patterned his conduct more and more after other rulers of his day, selfishly augmented his own fortune, and ministered to his own desires and the desires of his numerous household, regardless of the interests of the Lord’s people in whose interest and for whose happiness and welfare he should have sought to use the gifts of wisdom, influence and wealth bestowed upon him by the Lord. On the contrary, as we have seen (1 Kings 12:4,11), he bound heavy burdens upon the people.
The Jews as a people have always zealously guarded their liberties; and the spirit of liberty, as we have
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already seen, was the result of the measure of divine truth which had been granted them, which showed that the King upon the throne was as accountable as the peasant in the field to God the Judge of all. Hence the Israelites were prevented from believing, as did the heathen nations round about, that their kings were a kind of demi-god whose every wish was law; and hence, although we find no protest of the people against Solomon’s departure from the Lord, nor against his erection of the altars for worship of false gods, we do find that they were disposed to resent Solomon’s intrusion upon their personal rights and liberties. He divided the whole country into twelve districts, each of which was compelled to furnish contributions to the luxury of the royal palaces and court. He also established a system of forced labor in connection with the building of roads, palaces, fortifications, immense gardens, reservoirs, etc. And while these public improvements were in many respects proper enough, the method of securing the labor was particularly distasteful to the
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Israelites, who were thereby reminded of the Egyptian slavery. Thirty thousand men were set to work to fell trees on Mount Lebanon and to work in quarries under Jerusalem, each division of ten thousand serving for one-third of a year; seventy thousand were made carriers and general laborers, while eighty thousand others were engaged as stone masons and carpenters; and it appears that in all there were thirty-two hundred overseers of this labor-army. The heavy work now done by machinery was in those days all done by physical strength. In all this Solomon only copied the methods of his day which treated the masses of mankind virtually as the slaves of the rulers. Besides the forces above mentioned, other levies were made for the royal army and general service. In the end the Israelites were learning under their wisest and greatest King what God, through Samuel, the prophet, had forewarned them they must expect.—See 1 Samuel 8:18.
(13) This verse was fulfilled through Jeroboam, who had been an officer in Solomon’s industrial army. Partly from sympathy and largely through ambition, he sought to steal the hearts of the people away from Solomon and attempted a rebellion in Solomon’s day, but contrary to the Lord’s plan. (1 Kings 11:31.) It was after Solomon’s death that Jeroboam, allying himself with the ten tribes of Israel, aroused a certain amount of animosity by pointing out that King Solomon, being of the tribe of Judah, had favored that tribe chiefly. He then joined with the chief men of the ten tribes in demanding of Rehoboam how he would conduct the kingdom, telling him that unless he promised reform from his father’s methods and oppression they would revolt. Rehoboam refused to reform and they did revolt, and constituted a separate kingdom down to the time of the taking away into captivity by the King of Babylon, who took first the ten tribes and afterward the two tribes called Judah. Since the return from that captivity the distinction between Judah and Israel has not been maintained, and we find both the Lord and the apostles speaking of them, and applying prophecies to them, as “the twelve tribes,” “the house of Israel,” “the twelve tribes [a part of whom were] scattered abroad”—not ten tribes scattered abroad and two tribes at home in their own land, but a part of the twelve tribes in Canaan (chiefly Judah), and the remainder of the twelve tribes scattered abroad and living in the various cities of the Gentiles; as for instance, those at Ephesus, Philippi, Corinth, Thessalonica, etc., to whom the apostles first preached the gospel when they went with it amongst the Gentiles.—Acts 16:13; 17:2,10; 18:8,19.
The statement here is that one tribe would be given to Solomon’s son; and this is entirely consistent with the facts, for although sometimes called two tribes, yet really the remnant of the tribe of Benjamin (after it was almost destroyed) was absorbed into the tribe called Judah.
We may learn from this sad lesson of Solomon’s fall, that it is not only important to begin life wisely in harmony with God, but equally necessary to continue it, and to end it so. We may learn also that the temptations and trials of life are not upon the young only, but rather that the strongest temptations are apt to come as we advance in life; and that for these we need the preparation of character well begun and cultivated, developed, strengthened by experience and endurance.
Another lesson respects the importance of marriage, and fully corroborates the Apostle Paul’s statement, that while marriage is honorable, it should be only “in the Lord.” Whoever has neglected this advice has either rued his neglect or by it has been led so far astray as to be unable to appreciate his own decline from godliness. Each Christian has in his own fallen members quite a sufficient downward tendency to fight against, without putting himself directly in the way of outside temptation, although he has the Lord’s promise of grace sufficient for every time of need. If, neglecting the Lord’s instruction, he surround himself with additional downward tendencies, by taking a husband or a wife not in the Lord—not seeking chiefly the Kingdom of God and setting his affections upon the things above, but upon the things beneath—he will surely find it greatly to his disadvantage, as did Solomon in the taking of foreign wives—aliens to the divine promises and blessings, the commonwealth of Israel.
Another lesson is that wisdom and wealth, education and influence and great opportunities are sure to become snares and injurious, unless we are continually guided in their use by the wisdom which cometh from above. And the more of these talents we possess by nature or by acquisition, the more need we have for the divine grace provided in our Lord Jesus only, the more need to study and ponder and practise the exhortations to humility and godliness contained in his Word, and the more need to make full use of every other agency which he has provided for our blessing and help—”building one another up in the most holy faith.”
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