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VOL. XXIII. JANUARY 15, 1902. No. 2
Views from the Watch Tower…………………… 19
Anti-Semitic Move Renewed
in Russia…………………………… 19
The Zionist Congress…………………… 20
The Decay of Belief………………………… 20
Some Suggested Remedies……………… 20
A Pastor’s Testimony…………………… 21
The First Persecution……………………… 21
The Great Jehovah’s Plan…………………… 23
“With Him—Called and Chosen
and Faithful”………………………… 24
Attempting to Deceive God…………………… 28
May We Defend Earthly Interests?……………… 29
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
AMERICA is forcing a revolution on Europe as certainly as God reigns.
How? By taking the bread out of European mouths, by sending men, women and children to bed supperless, by forcing European millions to live upon two meals a day, and those two scant ones, in reality not more than one and one-half. American genius, American machinery, American push, American capital is doing that, and each revolution of American engines brings the inevitable day of doom for Europe nearer.
How long has it been since the American manufacturer began to realize his power? Ten years, perhaps. What has he accomplished toward the inevitable end in that time? He has closed European factories; he has cut European profits on manufactured goods to the minimum; he has thrown European workmen out of employment, he has forced Europe a long step ahead toward the day of revolution.
But the end is not yet. Scarcely have we seen the beginning. Wait until a heavier over-production than we have yet witnessed cuts prices on manufactured articles still lower. Who can best stand such a cut? The American. Why? Because he has not already been forced to the last notch. He does not know the meaning of small profits. When he begins to sell on a small margin of profit the European manufacturer will go out of business, and the revolution will be on.
Of all the nations of Europe England, blood-stained England, is least able to stand the dark days that are to come. Our people have drank more liberally of the liquor of prosperity and financial freedom than have those of other nations. We have cultivated a taste for the luxuries of life that is hardly known among the peasant classes of the continent. It will be hard to renounce these, and I fear they will not be renounced without a struggle that will be the dearest and darkest in the history of the English empire.
American prosperity means European bankruptcy, and bankruptcy means anarchy.—W. T. Stead.
This is a gloomy picture, not only for Europe but for the entire world; for the world today is bound together as never before. If Europe suffers, America will just as surely suffer. The poor world, the “groaning creation” has our sympathy as it opens its eyes to the grand result of its highest civilization, under its inexorable law of selfishness. Would that we could point out to this brilliant editor, and to all men, the glorious prospect we see in the Word of God—the silver lining of the cloud, which they see not;—the dawning of the long-promised Millennial Day. But a clear insight into the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine love and plan is intended only for the “little flock,” yet. “None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”—Dan. 12:10.
Those who were readers of Zion’s Watch Tower twenty years ago, will remember how astonished they and others were at its presentation, from the Scriptures, of the very conditions which all men now perceive to be fast hastening toward us;—anarchy in the midst of the greatest prosperity the world has ever known. Those who have newly come into the truth, and who never saw the earlier issues of our journal, are often amazed at the statements they find in the Millennial Dawn, Vol. I., when they notice that it was published in 1886.
Our Master, who gives us in his Word the inside information, tells us to note the fulfillments; and adds, “When ye see these things begin to come to pass, then know that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Look up, lift up your heads and rejoice, for your deliverance draweth nigh.”—Luke 21:25-31.
ANTI-SEMITIC MOVE RENEWED IN RUSSIA
Vienna Dispatch.—Again the Jews in Russia are being harassed. Presumably this is by order of the government, since the oppressive measures are not confined to any one place. The ministry of the interior
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has appointed a special commission, under the presidency of M. Dournovo, to revise the laws and regulations governing the Jews. Heretofore Jewish matters have been discussed and reported upon by the clerical department. Intervention by the ministry of the interior, acting on its own discretion, is likely to lead to a more stringent policy than ever.
Jews of all classes are now prevented from moving freely about Russia in pursuit of their professions. For example, the law allows certain classes of Jews to reside in St. Petersburg or Moscow, but it does not expressly say that a Jew merchant has the right to trade in those cities. Therefore, if a Moscow Jew merchant wishes, he may go to St. Petersburg and he may even live there, but he may not trade there. If he dies his wife and children are immediately “cleaned out.” This is the phrase used. They are compelled to go to the Jewish “pale,” or the place from which they originally went to St. Petersburg or Moscow.
In every form of activity known in Russia today the Jew is in some way represented, and, as he has no friends except those of his own religious persuasion, he is a convenient anvil for every official hammer. The Russians hate the Jews because they fear them even more than they fear the Germans or the Poles.
Now that the ministry of the interior has taken a hand in the persecution, there will be no refuge. The officials will treat them with less mercy even than the clerical department, which formerly had them under supervision. There are instances where the clerical authorities have shown some mercy toward Jews, but there is none where the purely political officials have treated him as anything better than a convenient scape-goat.—Chicago Record–Herald.
THE ZIONIST CONGRESS
As per announcement, the Zionist Congress opened December 26th, at Basle, Switzerland. It was attended by about one thousand delegates, twenty-five of them from the United States. Dr. Herzl of Vienna, the founder, presided, but had nothing definite to report from the Sultan of Turkey, respecting Palestine. He reported, however, that in his audience with him, in May last, the Sultan had expressed his sympathy with Zionism’s ambitions, declared himself the friend of the Jews, and that he considered them desirable as colonists. Failure to receive something more tangible was a source of disappointment to the Congress; but it is not discouraged. It has thus far accumulated about $1,000,000.00 toward its object;—nearly all from the poor Jews of the world.
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THE DECAY OF BELIEF
PRESIDENT CYRUS NORTHROP, of the Minnesota State University, recently delivered an address before the Chicago Baptist Social Union. In it he made the following reference to the present religious conditions. He said in part:—
It seems to me that in looking at the religious condition of the country—I do not mean the statistics of the churches, nor the amount of gifts to missions and philanthropy, nor the general condition of the church as an organization—but I do mean the state of thought in the church itself in reference to its own faith; it seems to me that we are confronted by four marked changes which have grown into prominence in the last few years. If I am wrong I shall be glad to know it, and if I am right I shall be grateful, as I am sure you all will be, to any Biblical scholar who will show us the truth. These changes stated briefly are: First—A decay of belief in the supernatural. Second—What I may call the disintegration of the Bible. Third—New views respecting inspiration. Fourth—Loss of the sense of accountability.
These four changes are essentially one. They are at least shoots from a common root—and that root is doubt as to whether God ever has had any communication with men. Under this doubt Christianity ceases to be the religion which God intended for men to cherish, and becomes simply one of the religions of the world—a purely human device, like Confucianism or Mohammedanism, of no more authority than these and to be preferred to these only as its teachings are more reasonable and uplifting. There is a world of difference between saying this thing is true because God said it and God said this because it is true. The former carries with it the certainty of “Thus saith the Lord.” The latter is of no validity, because many things may be true which God never said. And if God never said anything to men inspiration becomes so attenuated that it is hardly discoverable under the more or less theory which grants inspiration of some degree to every one who voices a noble truth, and grants no higher inspiration, though perhaps a greater degree of inspiration, to any one else. Under this arrangement a man must first get his idea of God and then determine whether anything is the product of divine inspiration according as it meets or does not meet that idea. There is in this no possibility of revelation in the usual sense. The order is inverted—God does not reveal truth to men; the truth on the contrary, reveals God. Now this may or may not be satisfactory to some. But it is, to say the least, very unsettling to human faith and very depressing to the ordinary Christian who does not know enough about God’s style to determine whether he said a thing or not,
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and who is not sufficiently familiar with the internal signs of inspiration to determine whether any particular writing reveals God truly or not. And this condition of things is the darkest part of the outlook at the opening of the twentieth century.
SOME SUGGESTED REMEDIES FOR THE PULPIT:
a. “Preach the Word.” Restore the Bible to its rightful place as the Word of God divinely inspired and supremely authoritative. Use the Old Testament Scriptures as our Lord used them; freely and without apology. He never explained them away. You need not. To discredit your text book is to discount your message. Eliminate the “ifs” and “perhapses,” and proclaim the Word in the power and demonstration of the Spirit.
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b. Remember your calling; it is not to exploit shifting philosophies and passing fads; sociology, evolution or even higher criticism; but to declare the gospel of the grace of God. The former never edified a church or saved a sinner or comforted a human heart. The latter is the wisdom of God and the power of God unto salvation.
“The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word let him speak my word faithfully.”
c. If the Bible doctrine is true that the one sufficient remedy for man’s sin is the sacrificial death of the Divine *Substitute—not his teaching or his example—then the popular teaching of “salvation by character,” is manifestly unscriptural and unwarranted. “He suffered for us, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.”
d. “The fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man,” as so often indiscriminately and universally applied to saint and sinner alike, is equally unscriptural and misleading.
There is no spiritual Fatherhood without spiritual birth. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” “Ye must be born again.”
FOR THE PEW:
a. “Take heed what ye hear.” “Let no man deceive you with vain words.” “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” “Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith.” “Be ye ready at all times to give … an answer for the hope that is in you.”
b. “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” “Be ye blameless and harmless, the sons of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.”
c. Live and walk habitually in the light of Titus 2:11-14.
A PASTOR’S TESTIMONY
Joseph Parker, of London, on the 40th anniversary of his pastorate of the City Temple, said: “Looking back upon all the chequered way, I have to say that the only preaching that has done me good is the preaching of a Savior who bore my sins in his own body on the tree, and the only preaching by which God has enabled me to do good to others is the preaching in which I have held up my Savior, not as a sublime example, but as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.”
*We must understand this to mean,—the substitute which God furnished: otherwise it would be out of accord with the Scripture testimony, and the meaning of the word ransom,—”a corresponding price.”
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THE FIRST PERSECUTION
—ACTS 4:1-12.—FEB. 2.—
“There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved”
THE COMMOTION caused by the healing of the cripple by James and John, and the gathering of the crowd of worshipers to whom they preached, brought upon the apostles a new difficulty. The priests, whose ministries were more or less interrupted by the disturbance, felt a grievance against those who thus attracted attention away from themselves and their services, and the officers of the Temple, whose duty it was to preserve order, were also disturbed. These, coming upon the preaching Apostle and the interested multitude, arrested the three who were the cause of such a commotion, that the matter might be enquired into. It was toward evening, and therefore too late to gather the members of the Sanhedrin Court. The three who had been witnessing for God and for Christ were put in ward, in the prison; not as felons, but for trial. It would have been possible for the imprisoned men to have viewed their situation from the standpoint of unbelief, and to have said to themselves and each other: God did not approve our work, and hence has permitted us to be thus arrested and imprisoned, and now we know not what the result will be on the morrow, for those who crucified our Lord may crucify us also.
Or they might, in unbelief, have reasoned still otherwise, and have said to each other: After all, what right have we to think that God has anything to do with these matters? We are like other men, and have merely found some new way in which natural law operates in the healing of the sick: God evidently is not concerned in this work; for if he were surely he would not have permitted us to come into these straits, while we were seeking to serve him and to declare the good tidings. But we may safely assume that the thoughts and words of the prisoners took a totally different direction. Full of faith, they no doubt said to themselves: We know not in what way the Lord may intend to use this, which seems to be a disadvantage to us, and an interruption to his work; doubtless however, he will use it in some manner to forward his cause and to reach more of his people with the truth.
As a matter of fact, the Lord evidently intended through this seeming calamity to bring to the apostles a still grander opportunity of testifying to the truth on the next day—of preaching to a class which they might never again have opportunity to reach—the priestly class, the ruling class, represented in the Sanhedrin, and those who would gather at its sessions. When the Sanhedrin Court opened the next morning, amongst its seventy members, representatives of the most influential classes in Jerusalem, were Annas, the high priest, and Caiaphas, his son, both of whom had about two months previously presided in the trial of the Master himself. Nevertheless, the apostles were evidently not at all dismayed by the dignity of the Court—the Lord evidently fulfilling to them his promise, “Ye shall be brought before kings and governors for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles; but when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak.” (Matt. 10:18-20.) That Peter, as spokesman for the three, was supernaturally assisted, is implied in the narrative. “He was filled with the holy spirit.”
It is not amiss here to notice that the Jewish party which most particularly persecuted our Lord
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was the sect of the Pharisees, the holiness people of that time, basing their opposition upon our Lord’s public declarations of their hypocrisies,—the Sadducees taking less interest in the persecution. But, on the contrary, in the Acts of the Apostles, the persecutions of the Church seem to have been largely at the hands of the Sadducees. The Sadducees should scarcely be considered a religious party, for they denied the resurrection of the dead, and denied also the existence of spirit beings, and hence believed principally in a religion for the present life merely. The Sadducees were the policy-men of that time. They favored harmony with the Roman Empire, and might, indeed, be termed the politicians of the Jewish nation. History says that the high priest and his family, and those principally in influence, were Sadducees. It is evident, therefore, that the preaching of the resurrection of Jesus, and of some spiritual power by which he could work through the apostles to the healing of the man born lame, would be an aggravation to these Sadducees, because it was directly in conflict with their belief and teachings.
Indeed, it is worthy of notice, here and in subsequent lessons, that one of the main features of the Gospel which the apostles preached was the doctrine of the resurrection—that Christ had risen from the dead, and that through him in due time not only believers should be raised from the tomb, but ultimately all the world of mankind be released from death,—that each and all might have a full share in the judgment or trial for life everlasting, which had been secured by the ransom sacrifice of Christ. No wonder, then, that the Sadducees specially resented this new doctrine, which antagonized their views and to some extent supported their religious opponents, the Pharisees.
It may at first seem peculiar that a court trial should be held in respect to the healing of a cripple. However, the object of the trial evidently was, if possible, to condemn the apostles for having practiced necromancy, sorcery, the black art. For, according to the law, a witch or wizard or necromancer, a spirit medium, was to be put to death.
If Peter had been filled with fear he would not have spoken as he did to this Court, or if he had
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been filled with the spirit of egotism and boastfulness he would have spoken differently;—he would have spoken unwisely, rashly, no doubt. But filled as he was with the holy spirit, the spirit of meekness, patience, gentleness, long-suffering, brotherly kindness, and guided in his words by this spirit, he made an address which is beautiful, both for its simplicity, its directness, and its meek-boldness. His opening sentence had in it, possibly, a gentle irony respecting a trial for a good deed; but, as on previous occasions, he immediately proceeded to disclaim for himself and his associate, John, any power, any authority, in connection with the matter, and declares that the miracle was performed in the name, by the authority, by the power, of Jesus of Nazareth. Once again, he is not ashamed to own that the one he acknowledges was contemptuously called the Nazarene; nor to say that he is a follower of the one who was crucified as a malefactor. While telling the plain truth, that this very Sanhedrin had caused the death of Jesus, he states the matter without bitterness or acrimony.
Peter allowed the fact that God raised up Jesus from the dead to stand as the proof that they had erred in their condemnation of him; and, without parleying the question, he proceeded to assure his hearers that this one, Jesus, whom they despised and rejected, had nevertheless been owned of God as the “chief corner stone” of the great Temple which God purposes to build. He thus referred their minds directly to a Messianic Psalm (118:22) familiar to them, pointing out its fulfillment in Christ, and declares, “Neither is the salvation in any other.” This expression, “the salvation,” to his hearers would have the sense of, The salvation for which we Jews, as a nation, have been waiting and longing,—a national salvation, and an individual salvation in the Kingdom of God.
Let us mark well also the inspired utterance of the Apostle, “There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” This would be a difficult lesson for his hearers to receive. It would mean a total revolution of their theories, hopes, aims, plans and projects. It would mean that they had been wrong, utterly wrong, in all their expectations for some time. It would mean that they had, as teachers, been misrepresenting the divine plan and misleading the people. The Apostle’s course, however, was plain. It was proper that he should state the matter clearly, without peradventure, that his hearers might have a full testimony respecting the truth.
The Apostle’s words are “a hard saying” today, also, in the nominal church. False doctrines have made it appear an unreasonable statement in the minds of Christian people generally. They say, This cannot be so, because if true, it would mean that the heathen are lost. If true, it would mean that our friends and neighbors and relatives who have never believed in the name of Jesus, who have never accepted him as their Savior, are lost; and by “lost” they would mean—gone into eternal torment. Thus does false doctrine becloud and contradict the truth. But how beautifully and how simply might the Apostle’s words be received just as they are, if all could but realize that the whole world was already lost, already condemned, by one man’s disobedience; already under sentence of death and passing into it. Peter’s declaration is that only those who have accepted Jesus have yet come under the terms of the only salvation God has provided: and, since Jesus “tasted death for every man,” it follows that in God’s “due time” every man must come to an opportunity of hearing of the only name, and of accepting the one salvation. This opportunity, according to the Scriptures, will be during Messiah’s reign in the Millennial age, when “the knowledge of the Lord will fill the whole earth,” and “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” by the glorified Christ and his glorified Church unitedly, the spiritual seed of Abraham.—Gal. 3:16,29; Jer. 31:34.
Blinded by the inconsistencies of doctrines received from the “dark ages,” many of the Lord’s professed people are today grappling with this question of who shall be saved, many or few, and fail to
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see that the greater part of God’s plan of salvation is to come after the calling and perfecting of the “elect,” the Church. Thinking that the present life ends all trial for every creature, many are convincing themselves that the Apostle erred, and that instead of one name only being given for salvation there are many names—including those of heathen divinities and teachers. They fail to see the ransom and its importance, as paving the way for teaching of any value or assistance. Hence they vainly hope that the ministries of Confucius and others will somehow or other save them, separate and apart from Christ, whom the Scriptures declare to be God’s appointed Savior for the whole world,—and of whom Peter, under the plenary inspiration of the holy spirit, declares that his is the only name whereby salvation must be obtained, if obtained at all. These false hopes turn the eyes of many away, so that they cease to look for the God-ordained “Sun of righteousness,” whose beams, we are promised, shall shortly enlighten and bless all.—Mal. 4:2.
Very evidently the testing for the saints in this end of the age is coming along this very line—belief or unbelief in the testimony which God has given us through his Son, and through his chosen apostles,—”the twelve.” Those who are faithful to the Word of the Lord will come off conquerors; those who yield to human theory, miscalled wisdom, will fail, will stumble, will be separated from the true wheat, the entire remnant of which must shortly be gathered into the garner. We thank God that this stumbling and unbelief will not mean the Second Death to all who stumble, because very few today evidently have that sufficiency of light and opportunity essential to a sentence to the Second Death;—very few obtain their full trial. We are to judge ourselves closely, however, and build no false hopes for ourselves, if we are among the favored few who have tasted the good word of God and been made partakers of the holy spirit. We are to remember the Apostle’s caution that such as have enjoyed these favors, if they should fall away, would be doing despite to God’s grace, and would afterward find no place for repentance.—Heb. 10:29.
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THE GREAT JEHOVAH’S PLAN
I am so small, and thou so great;
So weak, and thou so strong;
Yet from my heart there flows to thee
A true and loving song.
Thou art Jehovah, God!
And hast in thy control
The empire of the universe,
Where suns and systems roll
In wide expanse of trackless space,
Yet held in place by thee;
Each sphere into its orbit set,
Through vast immensity.
Of dust am I, and to earth’s dust
I’ll molder and decay;
This living frame and pulsing heart
Will soon have passed away;
But is it all of life to live,
Or all of death to die?
Thy Word proclaims a ransom found,
On whom we can rely.
Thou art the mighty King,
Thy name, the Holy One,
But unto thee a living way
Was opened by thy Son.
He is our righteousness;
Through him comes peace with thee;
And in his name we favor seek,
And are from sin set free.
He tasted death for every man;
He dieth once—no more;
And by his sacrifice secured
Man’s rights he will restore.
“Death” was the penalty of sin,
But Love o’er Death hath won;
For the gift of God is life supreme,
Eternal, through his Son.
He died for all of human kind;
He rose that they might live;
And, as God’s Word is ever true,
This greater life he’ll give!
In sheol, hades, hell,
In earth, or oceans’ deep,
His voice and power will soon be felt,
To wake from death’s long sleep.
The one true church, the “little flock,”
The Holy Spirit sought,
As kings and “royal priests” of God,
Are to the Father brought.
“First fruits” are they of those who slept:
Joint-heirs with Christ, their Lord,
When he, who is their life, appears,
He’ll bring them their reward.
Made like the One they serve and love,
His nature to them given;
His power, glory, honors share;
Their home, with him, in heaven.
As “Abraham’s seed,” they’ll bless the earth
And rule with loving sway;
Instruct and teach the way to life
Is to God’s laws obey.
But they who will not hear this Priest—
Christ and the Church—his wife,
Will be cut off by second death,
Destroyed from hope of life.
But they “who will” need never die,
And glories, yet unknown,
Are kept reserved in store for those
Who loyal love have shown.
Thus up the scale to perfect life,
In “highway” wide and broad,
The ransomed race can seek and find
Full harmony with God.
A race redeemed, an earth new made,
Riches and wealth untold;
A world where righteousness will dwell
And man his God behold!
Where pain and sickness, grief and death
Are memories of the past;
Where loving faithfulness to God
Forever more will last,
With curse removed, the blight of sin
Entirely swept away,
And man God’s image evermore
Abides in perfect day.
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This is thy finished work,
Thy own most glorious plan;
And this the wondrous love thou’st shown
Toward sinful, fallen man.
Oh, Israel’s God! How great art thou!
What wisdom, love and grace
The eye of faith will always find
When we thy dealings trace!—Mrs. Jennie M. Stratton
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“WITH HIM—CALLED AND CHOSEN AND FAITHFUL”
BECAUSE considerable interest is being manifested, by our readers, on the subject of the Gospel Age call, and the prospects of those who have consecrated themselves to the Lord since 1881, we take this occasion to present some thoughts supplemental to what we have already presented, in our issue of Nov. 1, 1901, and in Dawn, Vol. III., pages 212-216.
The terms of the gospel are necessarily those of a call or invitation; leaving the matter of acceptance open and optional with the invited ones. Hence we read, “Many are called, but few chosen;” and note that, the invited are advised, not commanded, to make their “calling and their election sure,” by compliance with the terms of their call. (Matt. 20:14; 2 Pet. 1:10.) Commands to accept an invitation to joint-heirship with Christ, and penalties for not accepting that invitation, would be as incongruous as to have given a call or invitation to keep the Law Covenant, or, in the Millennium, to invite the keeping of the Laws then to be promulgated. We cannot even suppose that the holy angels are merely invited to obey the divine mandates. We must suppose that they are under a law commanding their obedience. We must assume that they have much of the spirit expressed by our dear Master, who is represented as saying, “I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is written in my heart.” If this were not their attitude they would surely not be holy angels.
The reasonableness of a Creator, through his representative, giving his just and good commands rather than invitations, becomes so apparent upon a little reflection, that we want to scrutinize all the more closely this question:—Why did God, during this age, apparently depart from so reasonable a rule, and, instead, to allure us with a high-calling, inviting us to become joint-heirs with his Son in the Kingdom? Why does he send word to us saying,—”Ye are not under the Law, but under grace”—favor?
The reason is, that divine law can demand no more than even-handed justice; and the Lord’s purpose during this Gospel Age is to select a “little flock” along lines of self-denial, sacrifice,—beyond what Justice could demand. Hence of necessity this must be accomplished by a call—an invitation, with exceeding great and precious promises attached as incentives; “that by these we might [be encouraged to faithfulness, and so] become partakers of the divine nature,”—in the Kingdom.—2 Pet. 1:4.
God foreknew us; we were “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” “And whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate must be conformed to the image of his Son.” He determined in advance that as the Son must pass through severe tests before being accepted to the divine nature, so also, all who would be acceptable to joint-heirship with him must exhibit and demonstrate that they have his spirit; that they are copies of him;—the very image of him, in their hearts. And the object of this Gospel Age is to call, and find, and test this predetermined class.—I Pet. 1:2; Rom. 8:29.
The promises made to the seed of Abraham (though appropriated by the twelve tribes of Israel,
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without divine disapproval) belonged really to anti-typical Israel—spiritual Israel. The natural seed, as natural branches in the olive-tree (representing divine favor) were allowed to grow for a time and be tested, but on failure they were broken off;—new branches coming forward continually, until our Lord’s first advent. The branches then in place were specially favored with the offer of the highest spiritual favor—not under the Law, but under Grace.
But few, “a remnant,” were in the heart-condition to appreciate and accept this great favor. The majority clung to attempts at self-justification; and like their fathers were broken off. Then the message was broadened; the invitation went to the Gentiles, “wild olive branches” to fill up the places of the broken off natural branches;—to complete the foreordained number of the elect. The total number of branches in the tree is 144,000, springing from twelve main limbs or tribes. Keeping up the Scriptural figure, we may say that as we who were by nature Gentiles, are grafted into the Abrahamic Covenant, we are reckoned as members of the original twelve tribes,—sealed, spiritual Israelites—until the predestined number, 144,000, shall have been completed.
The methods by which the Lord has proceeded to call these “elect” are worthy of careful notice.
(1) Our Lord declares that he called “sinners” in Israel “to repentance.” This call was no part of “our high calling” to a share with Christ in the heavenly Kingdom; but it was a preparatory step: guilty sinners are not invited to, nor desired in the Kingdom. The call to faith and repentance, if heartily accepted by the sinner, brings him justification from sin—release from divine condemnation—reconciliation with the Father.
(2) “Being justified by faith [after repentance], we have peace with God [realizing that our sins and imperfections are covered] through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also [additionally] we have access into this grace wherein we stand, [viz.,] rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God,”—the hope of sharing the Kingdom glories of our Lord Jesus. How did we gain access into this grace, after justification? By another call or another part of the one call—God “called us to glory and virtue [excellence].”—2 Pet. 1:3; Rom. 5:1,2.
In a general way all repentant believers, justified, are called or invited to consecrate themselves to the Lord; because, as each starts out desirous of doing right—(with no thought of self-sacrifice), he goes but a short distance until he finds great opposition to right-doing, and even to right-thinking. He finds his opposition coming not only from the world and the devil, as he might have expected, but also from his own flesh, and from nominal Christians. These four opponents harass the newly justified will—whiles in anger, whiles in pity and sympathy—declaring that the right way is an impossible one, and that an attempt even to follow it will mean the ruin of every earthly prospect.
THE EFFECTUAL CALLING
This is a testing time. Will the justified one heed the voices of the world, the flesh and the devil, and choose a downward or, at least, a compromise path? Or will he heed the voice of God, inviting him
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to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, in the “narrow way” which leads to glory, honor and immortality? If he obeys God’s invitation, he is one of the effectually called. His acceptance means a full consecration to God;—a renouncing of all earthly hopes and prospects, to obey God rather than self or others; and to have the blessings God has provided for his faithful: (though at this stage he cannot clearly discern the reward). This is self-sacrifice. God’s acceptance of the sacrifice (the consecration) is guaranteed by the terms of the general call: further, it is attested by receipt of “the spirit of holiness,” “the spirit of the truth”: additionally, by an ability to discern spiritual things, and “to comprehend with all saints the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of the love of God.”—Eph. 3:18.
Since our standing is the result of our acceptance of God’s gracious call, and since the Father seeketh only such as worship and serve him in spirit and in truth, it follows that, in the exercise of our free wills, we may if we choose renounce our consecration, withdraw our sacrifice, and thenceforth walk after the flesh, and not after the spirit. But whoever does so, of course loses the spirit of God, the spirit of his begetting to the new nature,—he is no longer to be classed among those begotten of God;—he is of those who “draw back unto perdition,” destruction, Second Death, nonentity. He who is in the begotten condition “sinneth not [willingly, designedly, of preference] because his seed [the holy spirit] remaineth in him:” while it remains he cannot love or willingly serve sin.—Heb. 10:39; I Jno. 3:9.
THE PREDESTINED NUMBER OF THE ELECT
The more our knowledge and experience expand our judgments, the smaller is apt to be our estimate of the number who ever reach the point of making such a consecration or self-sacrifice as we have above delineated. And, on the other hand, growing experience is apt to convince us that comparatively few of those who have consecrated themselves, fully and intelligently, ever draw back;—in the sense of willingly and heartily renouncing the Lord and their covenant obligations.
The large numbers who profess conversion during “revivals,” etc., and soon fall away, are not to be reckoned as of this class. They merely heard a call to repentance and reformation; a call which any and all are authorized to make, at any time. The majority never progressed beyond repentance, even to the extent of justification;—the chaffy, confused presentations of most of revivalists, and so-called teachers, being quite insufficient knowledge to lead even to justifying faith—much less to sanctifying faith.
Accepting the word “called” as applying only to those who come under the conditions of justification, and subsequent full sanctification through a belief of the truth; and admitting that these, in all, have been very few at any period—truly a “little flock”—can we suppose the number so small as 144,000 from Pentecost until now?
Examining our own day, and the views of consecration now prevalent, and the general scarcity of that quality;—remembering that love for the truth and the brethren is among the tests of devotion to God;—remembering, too, that a knowledge of present truth is to be an indication of those now close to the Lord in favor;—we are inclined to look into the past with far less optimism than in years past. With a clearer eye than formerly, for what constitutes a saint, and a martyr “beheaded for the witness of Jesus,” we incline to think that but few of the millions of martyrs were really saints,—from the Scriptural standpoint.
For instance, St. Bartholomew’s day—and its slaughter of French Huguenots: Have we any sound reason for supposing that the hapless victims were any more saintly or more sinful than the Galileans who suffered death at the hands of Pilate?—or than the eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them?—or than a like number slain today in Paris, or London, or Berlin, or Vienna, or Rome, or St. Petersburg, or Washington? Today, when religious questions have been largely removed from the arena of party strife, it is somewhat difficult for us to realize that, in olden times, all politics turned chiefly on religious questions. Suppose that the Boers were Catholics and the British Protestants, or the Filipinos Protestants and the Americans Catholics,—and then imagine how partizan historians could write up both sides of these wars, and describe their victims as Christian martyrs.
We are not meaning by this to intimate that there were no true saints martyred in olden times, anymore than we are denying that some true saints may have fallen in the South African and Philippine and Cuban and Chinese wars. What we do mean to imply is, that any estimate which would rank all those millions of the past (who, nobly, and ignobly, died for their convictions), as “saints,” “overcomers,” members of the “little flock,”—would be nearly as gross a mistake as to suppose that all who have fallen for their convictions in modern warfare are such. We must remember that the records of martyrs such as Cranmer and Latimer, and others less notable, who surely gave strong evidences of saintship, and whom we hope to meet in the Kingdom, were exceptions, and by no means the rule.
Our estimate of the past must and should be based considerably upon our findings of the present: and reckoning thus, 144,000 would seem not only ample, but large, as an enumeration of the “copies of God’s dear Son.” Let us not forget that in the Primitive Church the congregations were small, and usually met in private houses. (Acts 1:13; 5:42; 12:12; Rom. 16:5; Col. 4:15; Philem. 2.) It was not until the apostles fell asleep in death, and errors came in and attracted the unconsecrated—by false threats and false promises—that the numbers became large, and costly edifices were erected. And yet, the apostles dealt chiefly with Jews, who for centuries had been under the Law Covenant, whose mission was to guide them to Christ. Out of all the millions of Jews in Palestine only a few thousand “received the word;”—so few that Josephus did not even mention them in his histories of that time.
That the result of the Apostle Paul’s renowned missionary journeys was only small congregations, as a rule, seems evident from the records;—because
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he set forth the gospel so clearly, so uncompromisingly;—showing the narrowness of the way, as well as the glories of the reward;—not shunning to declare the whole counsel of God. Yes, it was afterward—after the apostles fell asleep—that the mixed and misrepresenting preaching drew and drove multitudes into an apostate system;—”tares” to choke the “wheat.”
And even though the apostles, through faithful preaching of the truth, kept out the “tares” in their day, we find that the congregations which they established were not by any means all saints. St. Paul’s epistles generally indicate this; for he sometimes addresses them to “the saints and faithful brethren” and to those “called to be saints.” In these epistles, too, he intimates that many are called compared to the number who will make their calling and election sure. He urges them to take heed lest any should seem to come short of the requirements; but to so run as to obtain the prize. Hence we could not count all of the “household of faith” then, anymore than now, in the number of the final overcomers,—144,000.
If we keep in memory the Apostle’s statement, that God’s special favors, light, etc., have come upon “the ends of the ages” (I Cor. 10:11), and note its correctness,—that special light and favor came at the first end, and now also at the latter end of this Gospel Age,—it will be helpful in this study. We might almost be justified in expecting that the first and last half-centuries of this age have not only enjoyed special light and favor, but possibly may supply a full half of the elect number.
THE GREAT COMPANY WHOSE NUMBER NO MAN KNOWS
But, another matter is to be considered: The 144,000 are the “called and chosen and faithful;” the “overcomers;” whereas the real converts, the true saints, in the apostles’ day and since, include not only the “overcomers” who make their calling and election sure, but also those [probably few] who “draw back” and become subjects of the Second Death (Heb. 6:6; 10:39), and also those who—while not rejecting the Lord, nor turning to love sin—still fail to fulfill their sacrifice with zeal; and, becoming overcharged with the cares of this life, can only be “saved so as by fire,” and must “come up out of great tribulation and wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb,” and take a lower place than that to which they were called.—Rev. 7:9-14.
Would it be safe to estimate that this “great company whose number is known to no man” (because, unlike the “little flock,” it was not predestinated, and consists of such only as fail to reach the standard required) would be twice as numerous as the “little flock”? If so, it would mean that the total number of the truly sanctified and spirit-begotten, during this Gospel Age, has been 432,000. But we are not to forget that no more than the 144,000 could be under invitation at one time; because it is not reasonable to suppose that God would ever invite anyone for whom there would be no place if he proved faithful.
A COMPARATIVE ESTIMATE OF THE ELECTION
Suppose, for instance, that 45,000 made full consecration during the remainder of the first century, and that one out of three gained the victor’s crown; that would represent 15,000 of the “elect;” the result say of 68 years’ labor of the Apostles,—garnering the ripe wheat of the Jewish nation and starting the work among such Gentiles as were “feeling after God, if haply they might find him.” If for every period of 68 years, from the year 100 to the year 1881, A.D., we estimate the results to have been one fourth what they were under the very favorable Apostolic ministration, it would probably be very liberal, viz., 3,750. We are not to forget that in Israel, as the Master said, the fields were already white for harvesting. In those fields the Apostles needed not to do sowing, but merely to gather in the fruitage of the Law dispensation. After the cream of the Gentiles had also been gathered in, the work would surely go more slowly.
Calculating on this reasonable and liberal basis, the year A.D. 1881, would see 112,500 who had already finished their course with joy as “overcomers,”—and a remainder of 31,500 yet needed, to complete the predestinated number. Or, if the perfect fruitage of the Apostolic period were estimated at 12,000, and the remainder on the same basis, the total number garnered up to 1881 would have been 90,000; leaving a balance of 54,000 to be perfected since 1881, A.D.,—up to,—say 1910.
For our estimates, let us take the former figures, as being very conservative;—viz., 31,500, to be developed—during, say 30 years. This would be considerably above the ratio estimated for the Apostolic period; but we are not to forget, on the other hand, that this is the harvest time for Christendom;—many times more numerous than was fleshly Israel. We are not to forget, either, that not only present-day inventions, conveniences, etc., permit each laborer to do more work, but also, that education being much more general now, a more extensive and intensive “harvest” work is possible now, than in the Jewish “harvest.” On the whole, we cannot think that these figures can be considered immoderate.
“THE WISE SHALL UNDERSTAND.”—DAN. 12:10
This brings us to another point. We believe that the Lord meant us to understand, that one evidence of faithfulness today, would be a knowledge of present truth. This seems to be the only possible deduction from the Parable of the Ten Virgins, from the Apostle’s words in I Thes. 5:4, etc. And is it not as reasonable to suppose that the “elect” will all learn of our Lord’s second presence, as that every Israelite indeed was informed of our Lord’s first advent, in that separating of wheat from chaff? We are to remember, however, that some of those who at first were in such darkness that they persecuted the faithful, were subsequently rescued from their blindness, and became zealous brethren and servants of the truth. So here;—our thought is, that none could now be esteemed “overcomers,” victors, while ignorant of our Lord’s parousia, etc.; but we believe that many, if not the majority of the above mentioned 31,500, still in darkness, may yet prove amenable to
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their consecration and come into the light of present truth.
As is generally understood, we believe the prophetic Scriptures to teach that the general call or invitation ceased in 1881; and on the foregoing calculation this would imply that the conjectured 31,500 consecrated, were written in the Lamb’s book of life at that date, as fully sanctified persons, who had presented their all to the Lord in living sacrifice, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
Our hypothesis being correct, these 31,500 have been on trial, for now over twenty years; and, meantime, the only chance for others to come into this elect class has been as the trial time of some of these may have lapsed, without their making their calling and election sure;—their names being blotted out of the Lamb’s book of life, and their claims upon crowns of life being forfeited, as our Lord forewarned (Rev. 2:10; 3:11),—they being numbered either among God’s enemies (Heb. 10:26,27) or among those whom the Son will deliver, “so as by fire,” in the “great company” of Revelation 7:9,13.
If we are correct in supposing that a knowledge and confession of present truth are essential to overcoming, now, we may give a fair guess at the number thus far faithful from the Watch Tower lists and our general knowledge of the friends. A liberal estimate would be 10,000, walking in the light of present truth, and sanctified thereby. This would leave 21,500 yet in darkness; and probably most of them in “Babylon.” Of the 10,000 whom we will assume that we know, our estimate would be that nearly or quite one half of them were not consecrated in 1881,—not amongst the 31,500. Accepting this as a basis of estimate it would teach us what?
THE WISE VIRGINS GOING IN TO THE WEDDING
It would teach us that since 1881 about 5,000 had gone on faithfully and been granted the light of present truth, and have good hopes if they stand fast that they will finish their course with joy—in death. It implies, that the 5,000 who have consecrated and received the light of present truth since 1881, took the places of 5,000 whose period of probation ended without proving them so far overcomers as to be worthy of the light. Thus 10,000 of the 31,500 are already disposed of. Now, of the 21,500 yet to be dealt with, what may we expect? (1) That one third, or possibly one half the number, will yet prove themselves “overcomers” (Rev. 15:2-4; 20:4); and (2) that the remainder—10,000 to 14,000—would represent the numbers of those whom we might expect yet to come into divine favor by a full consecration;—to take the places vacated and prospective crowns forfeited by the “overcharged.” And more than this: we must reckon that of those consecrating now, even in the light of present truth, there must be a testing, a sifting; and that if one half of the smaller estimate fail, it would mean 5,000 more to make consecration and stand testing; and if one half of these fail, it would mean 2,500 more, and so on.
We should not forget, however, that those entering the “race” now have many advantages. (1) We may assume, in harmony with reason and our observations, that a considerable number who have consecrated since 1881, have been under the Lord’s care and instruction, along the lines of discipline and character-building, with a view to their being accepted to fill the places of those failing to make their calling and election sure,—to joint-heirship in the Kingdom. (2) We may assume that, since the general call has ceased, none of these would be instructed in “the deep things of God,” except as they are permitted to take their places in the race. (3) We may expect that those consecrated in 1881 must close their probation for the prize very shortly now. (4) As the
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“present truth” is now shining very clearly, and is getting more generally shed abroad, and is in a condensed form, easy of quick assimilation, we should expect that characters would form and expand and crystallize, now, much more rapidly than ever before. (5) We see that the cleavage or gulf is growing wider and wider, between “wheat” (true believers, fully consecrated) and “tares” (deceived persons misnaming themselves Christians, because mistaught by Churchianity). As the “tares” more and more openly repudiate faith in the blood of Christ, and more and more boldly declare for “higher criticism” and “evolution,” the “wheat” who have been halting and fearful toward the truth and its true servants, will begin to see that they must decide quickly;—and all of the “wheat” class will decide correctly; and some of them promptly enough to be classed with the “elect little flock.” (6) We anticipate continued and increasing opposition; so that it will be fair to suppose that those giving adherence to the truth will generally so well count the cost in advance that comparatively few of them will need to be sifted out.
LABOR,—FOR THE NIGHT COMETH
Those who for some time have inclined to wonder at our sanguine expectations, respecting the progress of the truth, the growing numbers of Watch Tower subscribers, etc., now have, in the foregoing, our reply to their queries. We doubt not that the arguments will commend themselves to the majority, if not all of our readers. We trust that it will come to you all as a fresh incentive to energy and zeal in the harvest work. Faith and patience are qualities necessary to every soldier of the cross. Be valiant! Quit you like men! is the Apostolic exhortation, and it is ours also. Go forth in the name of our glorified Head, giving to all true Israelites the “three signs” of the Lord’s presence. And if in pouring the water upon the land it turn into blood, even your blood, rejoice and be exceeding glad. Remember that your covenant is, to lay down your life for the brethren,—even unto death.
Let each go at once to the throne of grace, petitioning the Lord, that in so far as these presentations are the truth, they may be blest to his own heart. Pray also that the Lord will send forth more laborers into his vineyard and inspire yourself and all of his faithful “brethren” (Heb. 2:11) to renewed energy and effectiveness during the year 1902. Among the estimated 21,500 consecrated brethren yet in Babylon, several thousand should be ready for the sanctifying truth this year. Watch and pray for opportunities to serve them, and for wisdom from on high to rightly use the opportunities as they come to you. May the grace of God abide with us!
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ATTEMPTING TO DECEIVE GOD
—ACTS 5:1-11—FEB. 9.—
Golden Text:—”Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor.”—Eph. 4:25
“WHILE MEN slept the enemy came and sowed tares,” our Lord’s parable explains. After the apostles fell asleep in death the Adversary had a comparatively free hand in the sowing of the seeds of error, and cultivated in the Church the tare class, as a result. But at the time of our lesson—shortly after Pentecost—circumstances were different. The apostles were still in the Church, and exercised the special powers of the holy spirit conferred upon them, as the Lord’s representatives, for the establishment of the Church—sowing only the good seed, and hindering the Adversary from sowing tares or hypocrites in it. Our lesson illustrates the method by which the Lord, through the apostles, kept the infant church free from hypocrites.
As previously suggested, a partial community of interest amongst the believers was early established. A number of the faithful had already sold possessions and contributed to the general fund. Joses was one of these whose case is particularly cited. (Acts 4:36,37.) He was one of the noble brethren whose generosity and helpfulness in the Church was generally recognized, so that amongst the believers he received a new name, Barnabas, which signifies “son of consolation,” or son of comfort and helpfulness.
Although there was nothing compulsory upon any in respect to this selling of goods and giving to the common treasury, the very fact that those who did so were highly esteemed in the Church would naturally become a snare to some who, without the real spirit of helpfulness and sacrifice, would appreciate and desire to have the approbation of the brethren. Ananias and Sapphira, his wife, were of this class, desirous of the approval of the Church, yet deficient in the real spirit of sacrifice. They had a property which they determined to sell, and in order to pass before the believers as saints of the same order as Barnabas, they pretended to give to the general fund the full amount received for the property. Secretly, however, they had much less generous sentiments; they agreed together that they would retain part of the sale-money for future contingencies,—yet would pass as sacrificers to the full amount.
The wrong of their course is manifest. As the Apostle Peter declared, the property was their own, and after they had sold it they still had a right to do as they pleased with the proceeds; but they should have been honest about the matter, and if they wished to give a tenth, a half or all of the amount, it was a matter of their own business alone, and no one would have had the least right to find fault with or criticise them. The entire wrong consisted in the deception practiced—the palming off of a part of the price as the whole, for the purpose of deceiving the Church and of gaining an applause for an amount of sacrifice more than they made. In this and in this alone consisted the sin for which they both died.
The record is that “great fear came upon all the company”—great reverence for God and for the apostles, his representatives. It brought also a realization that consecrations to the Lord were far from meaningless forms. This would mean, not only to those who had already espoused the Lord’s cause, but also to all who for some time thereafter would identify themselves with the church, that any who were insincere would best make no pretensions to discipleship. Quite probably the influence of the lesson lasted for a considerable time—during the lives of the apostles. Since the death of the apostles, however, any number of hypocrites have come into the Church,—indeed, have been dragged and coaxed in to swell the numbers: and God has been pleased to permit the many false assumptions and false pretenses of these “tares” to go unpunished and unchallenged. (Matt. 13:30.) This does not mean a change on God’s part as respects such characters, but rather that the case of Ananias and Sapphira was made a special one to serve as a lesson in the Church. Likewise, the first offence of Sabbath-breaking was punished with death (Num. 15:32-36), although Sabbath-breaking was not similarly punished subsequently under the law. We are not to think of Ananias and Sapphira as being sinners above others of their class, because summary punishment was meted out to them.
Those who believe that eternal torment is the punishment for sin must, to be logical, suppose that Ananias and Sapphira passed on to torments at the hands of devils, from which they have since been suffering, and such must wonder that many who are equally hypocritical in nominal churches of today, so far as human judgment can discern, go unpunished, and are encouraged by their spiritual leaders to hope for a share in the best the future has to give.
From our standpoint—the Bible standpoint—these two deceivers received no other punishment than the loss of the present life; and as they were evidently not of the “wheat” class at all, and had not become partakers of the holy spirit, but deceived themselves, as they attempted to deceive others, their conduct did not affect their cases everlastingly, but merely as respects the present life. They were made an illustration of a principle—they served as ensamples for the instruction of the Church. They received the full penalty of their deception in the loss of present life. As respects the future life, an opportunity for which the Lord Jesus has purchased for all mankind, it will “in due time” be thrown open to them and to the whole world, to be accepted or rejected, under terms of clear knowledge and obedience. They are still heirs to a share of those blessings which will come to the world after the spirit-begotten Church shall have been glorified, and begun the work of blessing all the families of the earth.
The particulars of the lesson require no further detailing. We merely note the fact that the Apostle Peter evidently had the gift of discerning spirits (I Cor. 12:10), and that God fortified the knowledge granted him, as evidence or proof of his apostleship. We proceed next to consider some of the lessons which may properly be learned from this incident of the past, by the Lord’s consecrated people of today. The lesson is that God desires “truth in the inward parts”—in the heart—and that any who have not this quality—candor, honesty, truthfulness—cannot
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be pleasing to God; and therefore cannot share in the glories shortly to be dispensed to the elect class of this Gospel age.—Psa. 51:6.
As we look at ourselves, we come to realize how imperfect are all the members of the fallen race; and when we consider God’s perfection, we can conceive of only one quality that the fallen creature could possibly possess, that would meet with divine approval—even when viewed through the merit of Christ’s atonement. That one quality is honesty. The true Christian must, in honesty, confess his own shortcomings, his own deficiencies. He must, in honesty, acknowledge that his sufficiency is of God, through Christ and not of himself. He must honestly strive for the standard set before him in the Gospel. He must honestly admit that he cannot do the things that he would. He must candidly and fully accept the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, as the covering for his blemishes. We are inclined to the belief that the greatest sin in the Church—even amongst the consecrated believers—is the sin of dishonesty—the sin of which divine disapproval is so excellently illustrated in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.
We have no desire to distort, or to make matters appear worse than they really are; but from our standpoint the nominal church teems and overflows with just such hypocrites—self-deceived, to some extent. These are the tares, or imitation wheat.
Do not all who claim to be Christians profess to be following in the footsteps of Jesus,—to bear his name, to be his Church, his body, and to take up his cross and follow him? Yet how comparatively few of the nominal whole have or have ever had any thought of so doing? By their profession they declare that they have sold their earthly possessions, their earthly interests, that they have sacrificed these, and presented the whole matter as a loving gift and sacrifice to the Lord; yet in reality they have done nothing of the kind, and never for a moment thought of even as much liberality to the Lord’s cause, keeping as proportionately little to themselves, as did Ananias and Sapphira.
We cannot judge the heart, and will not attempt to do so. We cannot even always tell which are grains of “wheat” and which “tares,” but out of their own mouths we may judge those who profess to be “wheat.” Some professing thus, and occupying very high positions in the Church, even as ministers of the Gospel, tell us plainly, not only by their actions, but also at times by their words, that in pretending to sell out their interests and to turn over the entire proceeds in consecration to the Lord’s service, they have grossly falsified—some of them tell us that they do not even believe the things which they vowed they would preach. They thus tell us that they have been dishonest with men and with themselves, in respect to the things of God. Truly this is a serious, a dreadful condition. The Church of today, instead of being free from deceivers, has them in its very highest positions of trust and honor,—as representatives of the Lord, purporting to be his mouthpieces.
This is an individual matter still, as it was in the days of the apostles. Each individual of the Lord’s people must answer for his own course, to the Lord himself. It therefore behooves all those who are seeking divine approval to see to it that they are not influenced by the prevalent disposition to hypocrisy, but that they deal with the Lord in purity and honesty of heart. They should see to it that, having covenanted to give to God and his service their all, they keep nothing back, but consider their time, their influence, their means, their lives, fully devoted to the Lord, and that they use these as his—as they believe he would wish to have them used—as stewards. He who is honest with himself will be honest with God, and be honest also with his fellow-men. As Shakespeare expresses it,—
“To thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man”
Our Golden Text is quite to the point, and requires no comment. We perhaps should, however, guard some against a mistaken view of truthfulness. Some persons of large conscientiousness fail to properly balance the subject, and reach the conclusion that they are bound to answer every question that may be asked them, telling all that they know upon any subject. This is a mistaken view; we are not bound by any laws of honesty to tell all that we know in all cases. Some people ask questions which they have no proper right to ask—about things which are not their proper business: such persons should not be encouraged; their queries should not be satisfied. Nor is it necessary to truthfulness that we should say to them in so many words,—You are busybodies, and your questions are impertinent, and I will not answer them. On the contrary, a soft answer will be better—an answer which will tell them as much or as little as suits convenience, permitting them to draw the conclusion that for some reason unmentioned you would not care to give a fuller statement of the facts. An exception to this rule would be a case in which the keeping back of the information would be to the injury of the inquirer. Then, love for our neighbor should prompt the giving of the information; perhaps, indeed, the volunteering of it without being asked—especially if it be concerning a matter of which you have not merely an opinion but actual knowledge, without the revealing of which he would suffer injury.
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MAY WE DEFEND OUR EARTHLY INTERESTS?
Dear Brother Russell:—
At our Dawn Circle the postal ruling was referred to. One sister expressed surprise that you should take the position you have in contending against it: which remark led to a further exchange of thought. A brother said he thought he was supposed to give up anything when asked for it, and let people impose upon him—that that was a part of his sacrifice. Another brother stated he once had a house and lot which was two-thirds paid for, when some obstacle arose, and rather than have any trouble he sent the contractor his deed to the place, letting him have it without standing up for any of his rights. If our little meeting is any criterion, it seems
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to me very many of our dear brethren are allowing Satan’s followers to defraud them of not a little of their stewardship. J. H. C
We publish this letter, with its answer, believing that some of the Lord’s dear sheep have need of counsel along the lines of the inquiry.
It is difficult for many, to rightly adjust the relationship between the two parts of our Lord’s command, “Be wise as serpents, harmless as doves.” The harmlessness of the sheep and of the dove beautifully represent what should be the character of all the Lord’s consecrated people as respects violation of the rights of others; but a sheep is stupid as well as harmless, and the Lord does not recommend that his followers shall consider stupidity a Christian grace. Rather, he encourages us, in the words above quoted, to be wise;—not, like serpents, in venom and disposition to injure and attack, but like serpents in wisdom; that this wisdom in us may be combined with the harmlessness of the dove and of the sheep.
This combination of wisdom and gentleness—a wisdom used for good and not for evil purposes,—is in the Scriptures denominated “the spirit of a sound mind.” This sound mind was well illustrated in the conduct of our Lord and of the Apostle Paul, the leading representatives of the truth and examples of the flock in the New Testament. To illustrate: When our Lord was assailed by the scribes and Pharisees, who sought to entrap him in his teachings, he was meek and gentle, as the Lamb of God, but not foolish;—he did not run away from the questions, but, as the narrative shows us, he entrapped in their own arguments those who were seeking to entrap him. When his arrest was threatened in Gethsemane, although he knew that “his hour was come,” he did not go forward and say, I know all about this; just take me along. He enquired, Why did you come here to take me as a prisoner, after night? Why were you not courageous enough to take me prisoner in the day time, when the multitudes were surrounding me, as I taught in the Temple? Then he seems to have exercised some influence upon them which caused them to go back and fall to the ground. But having thus asserted the right, and knowing that it was the Father’s will that he should now be delivered over to their power, he subsequently permitted them to take him prisoner. In the judgment hall, when reproved and smitten unjustly, our Lord defended himself, to the extent of reasoning with his assailant, and declaring his own rectitude.
The Apostle Paul defended himself, frequently, before priests and kings; explaining the justice of his cause; and on one occasion replied to his assailant, “God shall smite thee, thou whited wall.” In every instance he seems to have used the law, so far as there was a law, for his defence, on one occasion going so far as to appeal his case to a higher court—Caesar’s at Rome. Nevertheless, whenever the laws did not support him we find the Apostle bringing no railing accusation against the laws nor against magistrates, but submitting himself, and counselling the Church to “be subject to the powers that be, for the powers that be are ordained [permitted] of God.” In all this we understand that the Apostle was entirely right;—within the letter and spirit of the Master’s teaching, when he said, “If any man sue thee at the law, and take away thy cloak, begrudge him not
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thy coat also,”—if he secure it by process of law.—Luke 6:29.
We consider that the brothers mentioned in the letter erred in judgment; but we are glad to be able to fully approve their heart-intentions. Although, by doing as he did, one failed somewhat in his stewardship of the means entrusted to his care, and to that extent is to be criticized; nevertheless, we are sure that the Lord, who looks at the heart, would be better pleased to see him thus fail in his stewardship than to have seen him violate his conscience in the matter. If the property under consideration was worth contesting for, in our judgment, it would have been his duty to have resisted the injustice practiced, in so far as the laws of his State would grant him justice. The Apostle’s words, “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?” (I Cor. 6:1), has no reference to such a case as this. It applies only to differences between brethren in the Church;—amongst the consecrated. A brother is to shield a brother in the Church, and to condone any injustice suffered at his hands, even as he would shield a natural brother and condone his injustice, rather than make the matter public before the world. But we would have no scruple about going into the State courts in an action against a nominal Christian, if he attempted to defraud us, provided the amount involved seemed to justify the trouble and expense incidental to the trial of the case. The reason for this distinction between a brother in the Church and a nominal Christian would be that nominal Christendom accepts present governments and present courts as “Christian”—part and parcel of Christendom itself. Therefore, in trying a case against a nominal Christian in the public courts we would be trying him before a Christian court, according to his acceptance of the term.
As respects our appeal to the President against the violation of the law by his representatives in the Post Office Department. We hold that our action was proper, right; and that any other course,—a failure to take such action, might have been wrong. God opened a wide door of opportunity for the spread of the truth through the postal laws as they now stand; but a man has arisen, and without the authority of the law has deprived us of this open door. We are right in appealing to the law; and to the President, as the head of all the departments of the Government; to protect us in the privileges which the law grants us as it stands. We have the same right to appeal for justice that our Lord exercised and that the Apostle Paul so frequently exercised. We believe that the Lord was pleased with the Apostle’s interpretation of his will; and we believe that he is pleased with our interpretation of it in this matter of appealing to the President for rectification of an injustice,—a violation of law, defrauding us of our rights.
But now, suppose that our protests avail nothing;—what will we do? We answer that we will allow the sheep and dove nature to control fully; we
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will neither become anarchists, nor vicious maligners of the Government; nor make any attacks upon either the laws or those who have defrauded us. We will neither dynamite them literally nor with our mouths and pens;—we will submit. Why? Because we understand this to be a part of the Lord’s injunction; that we shall be subject to the powers that be; that we shall be harmless, as sheep and doves. When all the wisdom we possess has been exercised, we shall be content; and take the results as being the will of God;—knowing that he is perfectly able to overrule in the matter as may please him.
Besides, our readers know that for years we have been expecting that the door to opportunities of service would soon close; and we are not surprised if it closes gradually rather than abruptly. We will not be surprised that our protests shall be of no avail in this matter. We will consider, nevertheless, that we have done our duty; and that failure to effect anything should be to us an evidence that the Lord’s providence is cooperating in the matter with a view to restraining, to some extent, the opportunities at our disposal.
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KIND WORDS FROM THE INTERESTED
I did not know there were such publications as Millennial Dawn and Zion’s Watch Tower until this year. And how forcibly they have brought the message to me, “Go work in his vineyard!” for indeed the harvesters are few. I feel that I could sacrifice all for the Master. But oh, I feel my insufficiency when I ask myself what can I do? I have an ardent desire and longing to work for the Master in an acceptable way, and ask the Father many times with streaming eyes to open the eyes of my understanding and let me know the truth of his divine plan. We have been so blinded by error and misconception of the Truth. I have been a member of the “Church of Christ” since early girlhood, but I am sorry to say that until the last five or six years I belonged to that large body who call themselves Christians and do not know God. Since that time I have been earnestly seeking for more light and it seems that your glorious works have been an answer to that prayer. I accidently (?) ran across three numbers of Zion’s Watch Tower and the first three volumes of the Dawn. They have thrown a wonderful light on passages in the divine Word which were either neglected, or dark to me before.
Oh, Brother Russell, the wealth of earth could not buy from me the knowledge I now possess of the Father’s glorious plan! With a grateful and earnest heart I thank God for the store house of knowledge you have opened to my understanding. It seems that you have given me the key. May many other souls awake and be brought to the knowledge of the glorious coming kingdom and realize what it is to suffer with Christ if we would reign with him! I am eager and anxious to work for the Master, but how, in the way to do the most good? The Church would be glad to have me work, at fairs, suppers and entertainments, but I cannot do that and call it for the Master. What are the qualifications necessary for the colporteur work? I think possibly I might work there. Explain this matter to me fully, for I am anxious to help with this grand work. Remember me in my weakness at the throne of grace. I am sincerely your sister,
Mrs. V. Roughton.
[Colporteur work explained by letter. Ed.]
My Dear Brother Russell:—
I think I have a somewhat peculiar request to make of you. I know how busy you are, but your past kindness makes me bold to come to you. As the Dawns have been published we have received and read them greedily,—often reading them in whole or in part several times: and we have most surely appreciated them. Our hearts have been filled with love and praise to our Father for permitting us to see the glories of his plan, the mysteries of his blessed Word. We have loaned and given away books, tracts and Towers more than we could possibly tell, hoping that some hungry soul might find a feast. We tried to be zealous and faithful, but realize that we have made more failures than anything else. The Father has been so good to us. We were permitted to attend the St. Louis Convention and that was the beginning of better days to us.
I am now about half way through a re-reading of Vol. III. Dawn. I did not realize that I was neglecting the Dawns, but I now know that I was. I have had such a feast, I cannot express it. I can only praise our Lord for stirring me up to the re-reading.
You see that all these years I have been reading the Towers and the Bible and now as I re-read the Dawns I understand them so much better. Besides, at first I was not capable of grasping so much, all at once. If I knew the right words to say that would cause all Watch Tower readers to re-read their Dawns, I would write a letter for publication in the Tower and I would plead with them as they value the truth and their “high calling” not to neglect this privilege. I would not call it a duty, for it is above a duty, it is a privilege. So now, Brother Russell, that is what I want you to do, for you will know the right things to say. May the Lord give you the things he sees you need to make you perfect in his sight. We thank you for all your kindness to us.
Mrs. S. B. Strate.
I have read the three volumes of Millennial Dawn with much interest, pleasure, and profit, and am therefore anxious to know if any more volumes have been published since Vol. III., as intimated in its pages.
[Five volumes are now out, and two more are purposed. Ed.]
I should very much like to express to the author, the great spiritual blessing I have received from a study of these three books, fully believing that God has put them into my hands. I had been looking for light on these things for some time, and before hearing of these volumes I had already made some of their opinions my own. Hoping that God’s blessing may still rest on your labours, believe me, Yours gratefully,
Dear Mr. Russell:—
I received a copy of “Tabernacle Shadows” enclosed with a parcel of tracts. I am not able to express how much it was appreciated by me, and what a help it was to a fuller understanding of God’s Word. Some parts I wept over, in particular, the verses “My Sacrifice,” and about the scapegoat. I felt, indeed, the scapegoat more nearly represented me, but I am very desirous to be of “the Lord’s goat,’ and to be an “overcomer” by his grace. Sometimes I have a strong hope that I may be “accounted worthy,” which gives me such joy that I can then triumph over every adverse circumstance, but sometimes I am discouraged by the difficulties of the way. But I thank the Lord for his loving favor in allowing me to know these things, and trusting in his merit, “I press toward the mark.”
The Watch Towers are my greatest help. I find them more so as time goes on, and the way seems more narrow. I have received several helpful messages enclosed with tracts from the London Branch, which are much enjoyed. I am still distributing tracts on Sunday afternoons when able, but cannot say much about results. I must leave them with the Lord. Several Christian people have appreciated them and wanted more, but many have been distributed at a distance, so that I do not see the people for a long while. But I feel that it is for my good not to see great results. His word will not return void but will accomplish that for which it is sent, so I can leave it with him. With love in the Lord to all at Bible House, with much gratitude I remain, yours in our Lord Jesus,
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