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VOL. XXIV. MAY 1, 1903. No. 9
Views from the Watch Tower……………………131
An Astrologer’s Outlook…………………131
Preparations for the Millennium……………131
Only a Form of Godliness…………………131
Peculiar Views of Heathens………………132
A Seasonable Word on Christian
A Christian Science Prayer………………136
A United Presbyterian View………………136
Suffering as Christians………………………137
“The Lord Stood by Him”………………………140
Interesting Questions Answered………………142
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THE ATLANTA CONVENTION
This Convention was, we feel sure, a great blessing to many. One dear old brother, when bidding the Editor “Goodbye” at the train, said, “This Convention has been a great blessing to me: I am a poor man, Brother Russell, but if it had cost me $1000 to attend I would not begrudge it.” All faces told much the same story of appreciation of brotherly fellowship. We trust that the result will be permanently beneficial, not only to those who attended, but also to those at their homes whom they represented, and to whom they carried back some of the Convention’s fullness of joy.
The attendance from outside Atlanta was good, especially for the South,—about 100. The largest attendance was on Sunday afternoon, when about 600 were present at the Grand Opera House. Nineteen symbolized their immersion into Christ on Saturday.
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During the Editor’s absence in Europe our friends will remember that he cannot be reached by correspondence, and that matters intended for his special consideration should be deferred until his return.
In general, communications concerning business, subscriptions, orders, Tract Fund remittances, Pilgrim visits, etc., should be sent to “Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society,” and letters concerning doctrinal and personal matters to the Editor.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
AN ASTROLOGER’S OUTLOOK
WE seriously question all the claims of Astrology; yet the following—from whatever source the suggestions come, even though of the Adversary himself—seem remarkably true to our expectations based upon the Word of the Lord. For this reason alone we present them here,—as follows:—
“Saturn is the representative of the great motive power that has dominated the mind of man up to the present time. The great organizations of Capital, attracting now so much attention, are in reality the last great struggle of this Saturn-god to save his throne. But his efforts will be futile, yet far from useless, for he is blindly doing service for a still greater God in the same way as the other planets have contributed blindly to Saturn’s glory.
“Jupiter, representing law, religion and morality, has been perforce subservient to Saturn’s greater and more potent force. It explains why the church, the law, the charitable and educational institutions have contributed to increasing the power and prestige of the worldly and material Saturn, whose selfish monopolizing material nature must be disposed of and made tributary to a higher, nobler force that will carry out the work of human evolution.
“Jupiter must also transfer his allegiance from the grasping Saturn to the newly discovered factor that stands for universal brotherhood; namely, Uranus. When Uranus and Jupiter meet in the humane sign of Aquarius in 1914, the long-promised era will have made a fair start in the work of setting man free to work out his own salvation, and will insure the ultimate realization of dreams and ideals of all poets and sages in history.
“Uranus is preparing the way for Neptune, who symbolizes Love in its very highest form—the fulfilling of the law. By this, we see that Socialism, or whatever the new order may be called, will not and can not be the rule of the common or ignorant masses, but the leadership of the very highest developed members of the human family.
“In 1903 Jupiter will be in the Sign of Pisces—sign of the feet, or understanding, and the synthesis of the new religion is Love;—Love, that words cannot define. We are nearing a condition where “masters” will be unknown—where humanity will instinctively conform to the injunction, ‘Call no man master, neither be ye called master.’
“Note—Uranus: Great commotions are expected when it shall take its ascendancy over Saturn.”
PREPARATIONS FOR THE MILLENNIUM
Polar ice, both arctic and antarctic, seems to have been steadily decreasing, and it may be that these frigid deserts shall once more blossom as the rose—Isa. 35:1—literally.
The ice from both poles seems to be drifting toward equatorial regions, to such an extent that, in the north, it has become a menace to commerce, and it may be a work preparatory to the “times of restitution.”
ARCTIC ICE A MENACE TO OCEAN STEAMSHIPS
“Philadelphia, March 18.—(Press dispatch.)—Navigators of the North Atlantic are worried about the manner in which the arctic floe ice is drifting south, directly in the pathway of steamships. Captain Beavis of the Philadelphia Trans-Atlantic line steamship East Point, which arrived here today from London, reports passing tremendous quantities of field ice in latitude 43 deg. 43 min., and longitude 49 deg. 21 min. Owing to the obstruction Captain Beavis found it necessary to alter his vessel’s course and steam 60 miles to the southward to avoid contact with it.”
ONLY A FORM OF GODLINESS
Rev. J. B. Hastings, D.D., of Edinburgh, Scotland, explained not long ago his views respecting the generally acknowledged loss of religious interest, as follows:—
“Our worship in many cases has become a mere form. There is little apparent hungering for the
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bread of life; and only in rarest instances a crying out of the heart and flesh for the living God. Not that there is an open antagonism to religion. There have been periods within our own recollection when there was much more of direct opposition. But there is an alarming deal of that subtler, deadlier quantity known as simple indifference, which is playing melancholy havoc among ever-enlarging sections of the population. Outside our churches there is a great army of men and women who have become sadly estranged; who have been so long away from the ordinances of public worship that it will be next to impossible, by ordinary methods, to bring them back. And inside our churches there are many who feel that something needs to be done to make our public worship more interesting and edifying and directly helpful to the religious life. …
“I believe that the root of the whole matter lies in a widespread practical disbelief in the supernatural. There is no realization, on the part of the multitudes, of the spiritual world, and of the God with whom they have to do. There are so many interests in this material life that the things of the spirit are simply given the go-by. The whole atmosphere of God’s house has become so foreign to the experience of their everyday lives, that they are no longer interested, and, as a matter of course, have ceased to attend. It is sad to
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think that so many young men and women in our populous cities are in this position. With churches galore, of all sorts and conditions (in one of which they could surely find congenial worship), they are yet standing without, spiritual starvelings, children merely of time, practical unbelievers in God and immortality, moving on their light-hearted way to the judgment throne and the eternity beyond.”
PECULIAR VIEWS ON HEATHENS
“Munich.—(Press cable.)—The papal nuncio at this court has ordered the Catholic papers to stop publishing an open letter by Bishop Pelkman, Lahore, East India, as it would ‘distress the holy father very much to see the right reverend gentleman’s peculiar views in print.’
“The paragraph in the bishop’s letter to which exception is taken reads as follows:
“‘Twenty-one thousand three hundred and eighty-nine persons have died of the plague; wonderful are God’s ways! One is almost persuaded to think that the Lord sentenced the heathen adults to die that their children might fall into the hands of the missionaries and be educated as good Christians. The last two famine periods brought us several thousand new adepts.'”
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A SEASONABLE WORD ON CHRISTIAN SCIENCE
—FROM BRO. W. E. PAGE.—
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Meeting so much “Christian Science” out this way, I was led to investigate the basis of its claims by the lamp of the Word, and I find it a most noxious weed. First, for my own profit, I wrote out what I found, and have since remodeled and chiseled it down. You may find good use for it as it is, or can use it as a foundation for a criticism in the TOWER upon this most manifest perversion. I send it to you for such use as you deem best. Put it in the waste basket if that is the best place for it, and do not hesitate a moment to tell me so, if these articles bother more than they help. I only want to do good work, but with our weak judgments we cannot always discern where we help and where we hinder.
The Lord is gracious to us, bearing with us in our infirmities, and ever and anon giving us deep draughts at the fountain of truth, and its blessings of peace and love in justification and sanctification. Oh, that this year may prove the one of most sincere consecration and abundant zeal to us all, who are of this way!
May grace and mercy and peace be multiplied to you and your household, the brethren and sisters with you.
Yours in fellowship,
W. E. PAGE.
When presenting various features of the Father’s great “Plan of the Ages,” we have not infrequently met professed believers in Christ who seemed to accept the truth, and apparently warranted expectations of full fellowship. However, as the acquaintance grew, an almost indefinable barrier to communion would arise; and being anxious to receive those whom the Lord sends (Matt. 10:40), and desiring to esteem all professed brethren as most worthy (Phil. 2:3), we have often been perplexed and in straits as to what course we should pursue in our association with them. The grounds of the older sects are so well defined that we have but little difficulty in understanding our proper attitude toward them; nor is there particular danger of confusion from those forms of error which plainly and fairly present their teachings in well defined terms. Since our eyes were anointed that we might understand present privileges and labors (Rev. 3:18), we have been most perplexed and confused by the newer forms of doctrine which, on investigation, we find deny the Lord that bought them (2 Pet. 2:1), while with much feigned reverence and humility they profess allegiance to him, thus falsely presenting themselves as angels of light—messengers of truth. (2 Cor. 11:13-15.) However considerate we may desire to be, when we meet such false, seductive teaching, we must, without strife and to the best of our ability, unmask it (2 Tim. 2:24-26), and be careful neither in word nor deed to wish it God-speed (2 John 9-11), remembering that it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.—1 Cor. 4:2.
One of the most widespread of these later forms of subtle error that we meet is “Christian Science.”
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Many of its votaries are kind, well-intentioned people, but they are completely blinded by the perversions of the system; and we believe that many such will gladly free themselves from this dominion of the Devil, when the shackles of ignorance and prejudice, which now bind them, are stricken off in the advancing light of this dawning day. As our conclusions and the grounds for them may be of use to some others of the brethren who may be perplexed as to the proper attitude they should assume toward this heresy, we have decided, with the Lord’s help, to present what we have found. Our quotations on the subject are wholly from the writings of Mrs. Eddy, who is the chief apostle of the various forms—which are legion—of this doctrine.
When setting forth to those entangled in this doctrine, our faith regarding the “restitution of all things,” and God’s wonderful plan for selecting the “Seed” which is to bless all nations, we almost invariably meet with the claim, “That is just what we believe; you must be a Scientist.” The claim is so sincerely made that we are led to hope that we have met with another grain of wheat. To make sure of our ground, we present the ransom and its necessity, which seems to meet with their approval, yet from various remarks, especially those made in a general way, we are conscious of a vital disagreement, somewhere, on the fundamental principles of the Lord Jesus’ work. A short investigation into Mrs. Eddy’s work disclosed the cause for this, and developed the fact that her teachings are based upon private meanings put upon words. Hence, when we present our views to one of her followers, the words we employ do not convey our meaning to them, and until we learn this, and find out what interpretation they put upon our words, we are sorely perplexed. Mrs. Eddy very cunningly lays the foundation for her master-piece of word-jugglery as follows:—
“Aside from the opposition to what is new, the greatest difficulty in introducing our metaphysical system is to express metaphysics in physical terms and then be understood physically. This difficulty is overcome by teaching the student the metaphysical meaning of terms in common use.”
What a preparation to deceive! Surely any teaching that must rest on special meanings placed on “terms in common use,” should arouse the suspicions of those who are sincere and pure in heart. The Master did not find it necessary to employ so questionable a course, but so taught that the “common people heard him gladly.”
In examining Mrs. Eddy’s teachings, we do not follow the order of her books, but take up the essential truths she perverts, as seems best. Among Webster’s definitions of person we find, “A self-conscious being;” and being is defined as “existence, opposed to non-existence; that which exists in any way, whether it be material or spiritual;” and we submit that the universally accepted meaning of person today is a “self-conscious being.” Again, we submit that to the unprejudiced and candid reader the unqualified teaching of the Bible, in language in common use, is that God is the great and only self-existent, “self-conscious being.”
But Mrs. Eddy says, “Jehovah is not a person. God is principle.” How elusive and vague this is! The first meaning in Webster given to principle, and which is marked obsolete and rare, is, “beginning, commencement;” second, “hence, a source, or origin; that from which anything proceeds; fundamental substance or energy;” and third, “an original faculty or endowment of the soul.” Ah, yes! “The serpent was more subtle than all the beasts of the field.” (Gen. 3:1.) How this cunningly-laid perversion illustrates his full subtlety! While we stand aghast at the bold belittling of the great Jehovah, we cannot but wonder at the consummate skill shown. (Read Ezekiel 28:12-19.) We know that God is the source of all good things: he from whom every right thing proceeds: the self-existent, “self-conscious being,” possessing and originating all qualities of moral perfection. Owing to the inexactness of language, the wedge of error here introduced (if, as common people, we follow Webster) is very slim, and not readily detected at first glance. If not detected, the next step will entangle the unwary very seriously. To the alert, however, the danger is not so great as it seems; for Mrs. Eddy does not accept the common meaning of the word principle, but proceeds to put a private
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interpretation upon it. Following her statement regarding Jehovah, she defines principle as, “life, truth, love, substance and intelligence.” These (in language in common use) are all qualities or attributes of beings; and thus God is reduced to the position of the sum of certain qualities of conscious existence, and is dethroned from his rightful position as the Creator of all these qualities. Those misled by these teachings are speedily so befogged that they are utterly unable to discern between honest treatment of the Scriptures and this woful perversion of them.
Having dethroned God, the next natural step is the deification of man; and this work these teachings do in a less subtle form, and in one more easily followed, although the word-twisting is dexterously kept up. Webster defines entity as “a real being, whether in thought or in fact: being, essence, existence.” Mrs. Eddy says, “Entity signifies the particular nature of being; and God, without the image and likeness of himself, NAMED MAN, would be nonentity”
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—without existence. Following this we give from her book a series of quotations deifying man.
“God cannot destroy man, because he is the reflection of God.” “The science of being reveals man perfect, even as the Father is perfect.” “If man went out for a single instant in death, or sprang from nothingness into existence, there was an instant some time without man, when Jehovah was without entity, and there was no reflection of Mind, or Soul, and Principle had no idea.” “God, Soul, is and was, and ever will be; and man is coexistent and eternal with this Soul.” “The science of man, understood, would have eradicated sin, sickness and death in a less period than six thousand years.”
Surely pride and boastfulness could assume no more than is here claimed. None of the “meek” would arrogate such position and virtue to themselves. To show the foolishness and the fruit of such exaltation of man, we quote the following:—
Man is “the infinite idea of infinite Spirit, … the spiritual image and likeness of God, … the full representation of Mind; hence, the idea of Principle, not person. [Man is] the compound idea of God, including all other ideas, the generic term for all that reflects God’s image and likeness. … Woman is the highest term for man. … [Man is] the conscious identity of being as found in Science, where man is the reflection of God, Mind, and, therefore, is eternal; that, which hath no separate mind from God; that which hath not a single quality underived from Deity; that possesses no life, intelligence, or creative power of his own, but reflects all that belongs to his Maker.”
“‘And God said let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth’ (Gen. 1:26)—what is incapable of sin, sickness and death, in so much as it derives its esse from God, and possesses not a single original, or underived power: hence, cannot depart from holiness. Nor can God from out himself, whence man was evolved, engender a capacity or freedom to sin. In divine science God and man are inseparable, as PRINCIPLE AND ITS IDEA.”
Of course the enthronement of man necessitates a perversion of the entire Scripture teaching regarding his creation and fall. To allay the suspicions that might arise if this work were too abruptly done, the approach is very gradually made, and the error introduced under high pretentions to spirituality and learning. As a sample we quote the following:—
“As crude forms of mortal mind yield to higher significations, the metaphysical Genesis of the Scripture will be hailed with head and heart. The following brief comments are the spiritual, or scientific, version of the text.”
Space forbids full quotation, and we simply give the “spiritual, or scientific, version” of the fall, set forth by Mrs. Eddy as the true meaning of the account in Genesis 3:1-5, as follows:—
“The serpent is introduced into the Scriptural record without any specified origin; but some maintain he was a veritable demon, even the climax of subtlety and falsehood, created by a perfect and divine spirit. … Adam, or error, even the belief of mind in matter, began this reign of mortal man somewhat mildly, increasing in jealousy and falsehood until his days were numbered by the law of Truth, and the mortality of error made manifest. The garden was a term used to signify the body, in the first records of Mythology; sexuality and self-abuse the forbidden knowledge. Man was not to presume upon the prerogatives of his Creator, but to recognize God, the Father and Mother of us all.—Compare with Genesis 3:4,5.
“This Allegory represents error in every one of its beliefs, always asserting itself as Truth and over Truth: and giving the lie to Truth, saying, I can open your eyes, I can do more for you than God (good) has done. Bow down to me, have other gods, admit I am right, and more real to the senses, pleasant to the eyes and more to be desired than Truth. The history of Adam, or error, is a dream without a dreamer; first, a supposition of assertion; secondly, that nothing says, I am something; and third, that something springs from nothing, and is life, substance and intelligence. The order of the allegory describing the mythological creation, even a creation springing from dust instead of Deity, is maintained in about this form. Mortal man, starting from chaos, or old night, from the lowest propensities; non-intelligence becoming intelligence; the basal portions of its formations of mind indicating the appetites and passions; its upper portions the sentiments, implying the hope that mind will sometime escape from matter, giving a material sense of things as the sense of mind, and matter having dominion over mind: body originating in non-intelligence, and mind afterward inserted, the creation a propagating principle in vegetable and animal, alias God in matter, or matter without God: a man’s life consisting of the things that he eateth, and having no connection with God, Spirit; his senses unable to perceive Spirit, and matter dooming them to die. This mythological history of man, so unlike the scientific record of man as the image and likeness of God, having dominion over the earth, and whose Mother is Spirit, first creates man of dust, and without a Mother, afterwards giving him a Mother, who is governed by mesmerism, controlled by a belief called serpent, her origin a rib, her capacity for knowledge gathered through material sense and from the tree of knowledge, whereof if a man eat he shall die, and her progeny, self-constituted suicides, hastening towards death in pursuit of life. The word Adam, divided into two syllables and reading A-damn, indicates more closely the character and the curse of the divine spirit, or Mother of man bestowed upon it.”
The fall being “spiritualized” out of existence, and man being “perfect even as the Father,” there is no necessity for a man, Christ Jesus, to give his “life,” a ransom—a corresponding price—” for the life of the world,” and to redeem the race with his precious blood. Hence, Christ Jesus, the Anointed Savior, simply becomes a fine example, a “good man.” We quote again from Mrs. Eddy:—
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“Jesus was the son of a virgin mother by whom scientific being was so far understood that she knew that God was the Father of man, and man the offspring of a divine Principle. Jesus was the name of the man, and Christ but another name for God, the Principle and creator of that man. The signification of God being ‘good’ (?!), the term Christ Jesus may be rendered as good man, or God-man.”
Christ not being a ransom-sacrifice, no atonement work was done by him, and a new signification must be found for the Scripture teaching that he is the “propitiation [satisfaction] for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2.) To keep the case clearly before us we will give Webster’s definition of atonement, and then its “spiritual” signification as given by Mrs. Eddy.
“Atonement (Webster): Reconciliation after enmity or controversy. Satisfaction or reparation made by giving an equivalent for an injury.”
“Atonement (Mrs. Eddy): The teachings, demonstrations and sufferings of the man Jesus, when showing mortals the way of salvation from sin, sickness and death. … Soul’s triumph over material sense. The supremacy of spirit asserted, man reassuming the image and likeness of God in his scientific atonement with him. Jesus of Nazareth gave the all-important proof that when God is understood, it will be seen that Soul creates its own body, and cannot for the smallest instant do without a body. This divine Science overcame death and the grave, and was Jesus’ final demonstration that the body is the same after as before death: hence, there is a state of probation and progress, whereby to grow out of a material and into the spiritual sense of existence beyond the grave. The meek, mighty Nazarene exhibited a material body after the crucifixion, to show his followers the great need there is of spiritualizing thought and action to make man God-like before death, that after it he may be fit for the higher school of the just made perfect. Not death, but the understanding of Life, God, spiritualizes man, and determines forever his progress and the state of his body. Mortality disappearing and immortality coming to life. Self-abnegation and love blessing its enemies. Not blood flowing from the veins of Jesus, but his out-flowing sense of life, truth and love, so much higher, purer and more God-like than mankind’s, shedding its hallowed influence on the whole human race and marking out the only way to heaven. Not the death of the cross, but the cross-bearing deathless life, that Jesus left for the example of mankind, ransoms from sin all who follow it.”
Salvation from the present “evil world” Mrs. Eddy thus makes a matter of works, and is not through faith in Jesus, as taught by the apostles. Thus the Adversary again undertakes to set forth “another gospel, which is not another.”—Gal. 1:8,9. Again she says:—
“The way is strait and narrow that leads to the understanding that God is life. It is warfare with the
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flesh whereby we conquer sin, sickness and death, now or hereafter; but certainly before we can reach the goal of Spirit or Life, which is God. The truth of man makes a new creature. Old things have passed away, behold all things become new. Passions, selfish appetites and every sensuality yield to spirituality, and the balance of being is on the side of God. Christian perfection is won on no other basis. The scientific unity between God and man must be wrought out in demonstration.”
Man being “coexistent and co-eternal with God,” death must be an illusion, and is so set forth:—
“Death: an illusion; there is no death. Matter has no life, hence, it cannot die, and mind is immortal. The flesh warring against spirit frets itself free from one belief only to be fettered by some other one, until all belief yields to the understanding of God. Any material evidence of death is false, for it contradicts the spiritual facts of life. The unreal and untrue. The opposite of God, or life.”
The fall and death being done away with, there cannot, of course, be any resurrection from among the dead, or raising of the race up to something lost in Adam. Hence, in this new “Science” resurrection becomes mere development. We quote her definition of resurrection as follows:—
“Resurrection: spiritualization of thought; a new and higher idea of immortality, or spiritual existence. Material belief yielding to spiritual understanding.”
Those taught of God can have no difficulty in tracing the sinuous course of that “old dragon,” in these unstable and unlearned perversions of Scripture, which soon cause their teachers to become “raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame.” Those who have watched the effect of these doctrines upon those proclaiming them readily discern that the “evil tree” is yielding its proper fruit.
Again, Mrs. Eddy sets forth her claimed many miracles of healing as the basis of her religion, and the proof of its divine origin. To those uninstructed in the way of truth, this claim is very weighty, and many are ensnared by it. These, seeing no wisdom in the permission of evil, and having no conception of the great things God has in store for those who, under the severest tests, maintain a love for righteousness and a hatred of wickedness, quickly fall in this evil day of subtle sophistries. Supposing “Godliness to be gain”; i.e., a means to secure present temporal ease in finances or social life, freedom from aches and pains, etc., some, in their eagerness to escape from the hardship of enduring unfavorable conditions, are blinded to the opportunity for discipline thus offered, and rush headlong into any specious promise of relief that is made, without applying the rules and tests provided in the “sure word of prophecy,” and are quickly ensnared by the Adversary. Being one of the highest order of God’s created beings, who wilfully left his first estate and does iniquity (Ezek. 28:12-15), the devil can loosen the bonds of suffering on those
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who give heed to his seductive teachings, until he gains full and complete control of their moral powers, and can thus use them as his pliant, even if unsuspecting, tools, simply releasing them temporarily to gain his own purposes. When these are served, or when the time for binding him has fully arrived (Rev. 20:2,3), he will execute his full malignity, not only upon his own willing coadjutors, but also upon those who have been his dupes. We unhesitatingly brand this whole system of Christian Science, so-called, as another form of spiritualism put forth by the father of lies, who was a liar from the beginning. That there is a power, even superhuman, in it, we admit; but we believe it is the power of Satan, the great deceiver of men, which will be used only for the destruction of man.
[Satan’s dominion is a dominion of death, and he undoubtedly has the power slightly to relieve the sick when his delusive purposes and doctrines would be best served thereby. (Heb. 2:14.) The fact that Satan’s kingdom and its methods are thus divided and in opposition—working evil, sin and death, as ever, and at the same time turning in to heal the sick in order the more securely to bind and blind his dupes in subtle errors—shows that the “god of this world” realizes that his reign of sin, ignorance, superstition and death is nearly at an end.—EDITOR.]
Let God’s children beware lest they be entangled by this siren song. The system perverts everything it touches, and not even the Lord’s prayer escapes its contamination. For the information of the brethren, we give the following “spiritualized” version of it:—
“Principle, eternal and harmonious,
Nameless and adorable intelligence,
Thou art ever present and supreme.
And when this Supremacy of Spirit
Shall appear, the dream of matter will disappear.
Give us the understanding of truth and love;
And loving we shall learn God,
And truth will destroy all error,
And lead us into the life, that is soul,
And deliver us from the errors of sense,
Sin, sickness and death.
For God is life, truth and love forever.”
Trusting completely in our Lord, the Anointed Savior, who has bought us with his precious blood, we can quickly escape this evil, and enter into and retain a present rest in Christ, and be prepared for that perfect and everlasting rest that “remaineth for the people of God.”—Heb. 4:9,10; Isa. 26:3; Psa. 91.
A CHRISTIAN SCIENCE PRAYER
The Insurance World says:—”It seems almost incredible that the following formula called a prayer, repeated by a person sick of dyspepsia is alleged by Christian Scientists to have a curative effect. The exact words read:—
“‘Shining and Glorious Verity, we recognize the great and splendid FACT that the moment we really believe the Truth, Disease ceases to trouble us; that the Truth is that there is no Disease in either real Body or Mind; that in the mind what seems to be a disease is a False Belief, a Parasite, a hateful Excrescence, and that what happens in the Body is the shadow of the LIE in the Soul. Lord help us to believe that All Evil is Utterly Unreal; that it is silly to be sick, absurd to be ailing, wicked to be wailing, atheism and denial of God to say, ‘I am sick.’ Help us to stoutly affirm with our hand in Your hand, with our eyes fixed on Thee, that we have no Dyspepsia, that we never had Dyspepsia, that we will never have Dyspepsia, that there is no such thing, that there never was any such thing, and that there never will be any such thing. Amen.'”
A UNITED PRESBYTERIAN VIEW
To what extent the Adversary’s messengers in garments of light can deceive, note the following by Rev. A. K. Duff, a U.P. minister, published without criticism in the United Presbyterian. He says:—
“In forming our judgment of Christian Science, the Savior’s question will be suggestive, ‘Think you that they are sinners above all others?’ There is a basic principle of truth in the pope, faith cure, Christian Science, mind cure, osteopathy, etc., and only the wilfully blind, or unfair and dishonest writer will attempt to conceal it. If it were entirely false there could be no danger. To say that Christian Science is the work of the devil because it is the revival of black art, is all rot. It degrades the ministry in the eyes of well-thinking scholars of today that such utterances emanate from the pulpit. To assume that faith has no power in the healing of disease is to discredit a cardinal principle of the gospel. Distinction against Christian Science must be finely woven, and in argument cautiously drawn out.
“This school of faith was organized in 1879 and now numbers 800 churches, 80 educational institutes, one million members and another million adherents. They have eight churches in New York city, and all are crowded Sabbath mornings and evenings. Last year they built one church in New York city costing $500,000, and every dime was raised before a pick was struck in the ground. This year they are building another in the same city, costing $600,000. They openly boast that they have no poor people, and we all know that hundreds of the ripest scholars in the land are among them. College graduates, lawyers, physicians, popular authors and even clergymen join them.
“Here is the leading error. They say ‘the Bible does not sanction physicians, nor recognize the beneficial effect of medicines,’ when the opposite is true. ‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick’ is positive endorsement of medical treatment. The many references to the healing virtues of plants and herbs, the ‘balm in Gilead and the physician
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there,’ prove beyond a peradventure our practice of medicine.”
* * *
Note the fact that these shepherds (preacher and editor) in Israel nominal are either ignorant of “the doctrines of Christ,” “the faith once delivered unto the saints,” or else are blinded by the “dust” of falsities and meaningless language. Note the words—their “leading error” is the denial of physicians! How about their denial of sin,—of a fall,—of a redemption from sin and death by the precious blood of Christ;—their practical denial of God except as general and particular goodness or utility—as there is good or usefulness in a tree, in that it bears fruit or yields shade or can be used to construct a house?
These blinded men close their exhortation by implying that Christian Science would benefit all U.P’s. and add,—
“I have studied them for five years, and I never found such a uniformly good people in my travels. They are purely Christ-like. They are all willing to endure stripes, and go naked and hungry, if by any means they may save some.”
The befogged writer forgets, evidently, that in a previous paragraph he has set forth “that they have
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no poor people.” How, then, did this gentleman, after studying them for five years, learn about their willingness to endure hunger and nakedness on behalf of others? Their efforts have evidently been chiefly among the well-to-do; and thus they have avoided their burdens and been rather un-Christ-like.
Let us not be entrapped by Satan’s deceptive garments of light intended to deceive, if possible, the very elect. Let us remember how our Lord associates his Word and doctrine with true discipleship, saying, “If any man will do his [the Father’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine;” and again: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free;” and again: “If they speak not according to this Word [but handle the Word of God deceitfully] it is because there is no light in them.”—John 7:17; 8:32; Isa. 8:20.
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SUFFERING AS CHRISTIANS
—ACTS 21:30-39.—MAY 3.—
“If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed.”—1 Pet. 4:16.
WHEN the Apostle Paul and his companions arrived at Jerusalem they were cordially received by the brethren—they had further manifestations of the same loving brotherhood specially noted in our last lesson. The Church was called together that the Apostle might make a general and public report, and might turn over to the proper authorities the funds donated for their poor by the churches amongst the Gentiles. Apparently several of the Apostles still resided at Jerusalem, “James, our Lord’s brother,” being in some particular sense the leader or chief spokesman. Tradition tells us that the different apostles ultimately scattered in different directions, preaching the Gospel—Andrew to Cythia, Jude to Assyria, Thomas to Persia and India, Peter to Babylon and Rome. We infer, however, that they had remained at Jerusalem up to this time, since Paul seems to have been the leader in the work amongst the Gentiles; quite probably his report of the Lord’s blessing upon his efforts, in conjunction with the subsequent persecutions at Jerusalem, led the other apostles to go into the foreign fields of service.
It was now but twelve years before the destruction of Jerusalem, and less than half that time before the beginning of the factionalism and anarchy which led up to that destruction. The apostles quite probably in due time bethought themselves of the Lord’s injunction that they must ultimately flee out of Jerusalem before it would be encompassed with armies and escape be impossible. We today are living within a corresponding twelve years of utter overthrow of churchianity, and must not be surprised if in the Lord’s providence the bitterness and opposition against the present truth should become more and more open and violent, thus hindering our efforts amongst the professed people of God today, and compelling us to go more particularly to those who make less boast of their loyalty to God.
The apostles and brethren at Jerusalem were fully in sympathy with the Apostle Paul, though evidently their minds did not grasp so clearly as did his the complete breaking down of “the middle wall of partition” which previously had separated Jews from Gentiles, nor did they appreciate so fully as he that the Law was merely a pedagogue, a servant, to lead to Christ—to his school. Practically the Jerusalem friends said to the Apostle: We are in full accord with you and the noble work which you have been prosecuting, and we perceive the Lord’s blessing upon it, and recognize the true Christian spirit in these brethren who have come with you, as representatives of the work of the Gospel amongst the Gentiles. However, you know how great is the opposition here; how bitter is the hatred of the Jews, and that they have heard of you. Jews who have come from Ephesus and Corinth and other places, evidently misunderstood some things that you taught there, or
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at least misrepresented your teachings. They have heard that you are an enemy of the Law, while we know that you believe that “the Law is just and holy and good,” and full of shadows of better things to come. But now, as an offset to their pernicious presentations, and as an object lesson to some of our own brethren who are not just strong along this line, and for the benefit also of some whom we are endeavoring to interest in the Gospel of Christ, we have something to propose to you, and to these brethren: it is that you go into the Temple, as a worshiper, and associate yourselves with some of the rites and ceremonies there in progress, that thus all may know that you are not disrespectful toward Moses or the Law or the Temple,—that their misapprehension and evil-speaking may be counteracted. Amongst us are three brethren who have made certain vows to the Lord, called the vows of the Nazarites, and we suggest that you show your sympathy with them and with the arrangements, acting as sponsor for them—paying for the sacrifices which, according to the Law, they must offer, etc. Thus you will be seen with them, and in performance of certain ceremonies, for about a week, in the court of the Temple known as the Court of the Women, and we hope that much good will result therefrom, and much misapprehension be abated.
We can easily imagine that the bold champion of the truth in foreign lands would never have chosen such a course of his own volition, and that when the suggestion came to him it was not enthusiastically received. Nevertheless, since it seemed to be the judgment of the apostles and brethren in general—seemed to be in their interest and according to their view of advantage to the general cause, the Apostle yielded his own preference. We cannot suppose that he yielded to that which was wrong, yet we can easily imagine some one inquiring, Would it not be sin for the Apostle or other Christians to participate in any measure in sacrifice in the Temple?—were not all these sacrifices done away in Christ, and henceforth abominations in the sight of God,—sacrilegious?
We answer, No, not at all. The sacrifices which pointed to Christ, and which he fulfilled, were no longer proper, but these sacrifices which the Nazarites offered in connection with their vows did not typify Christ’s sacrifice, but rather the consecrations and devotions of the people, the antitypes of which will prevail during the Millennium. It was no sin, therefore, on the Apostle’s part to join in this procedure, and yet we incline to doubt the wisdom of the course pursued. We incline to believe that it was rather a temporizing acknowledgment of the dignity of the Temple and its services; whereas by this time the real Temple and the real service had been inaugurated;—for the Church itself is the antitypical Temple in which God has been present by his holy spirit since Pentecost. Although it is not distinctly so stated, we incline to believe that the Apostle Paul and all of his associates in this matter took a different view of it subsequently, as being a compromise which, without being sinful, was not advantageous, and reflected no special credit upon any connected with it. Perhaps such a lesson was needed by the apostles and the Church at Jerusalem, that they might learn to be the more courageous in their presentations of the truth—that they might be less fearful of the Jews, more bold in their presentations of Christ and the New Covenant arrangements in his blood—the better sacrifices, better vows, etc.
It was while the Apostle and these brethren, who were really Jews by nature, but who saw beyond the types and symbols, and appreciated the antitypes, were engaged in the performance of the typical, or symbolical rites, that the Jews recognized Paul and one of his companions, and became furiously incensed, either believing or claiming to believe that the Apostle was attempting to do the very reverse of what he and the Jerusalem Church intended—that he was attempting to discredit the Law and dishonor the Temple by violating, and getting others to violate, its holy precincts. As the excited shouts arose in the air a mob was quickly gathered; and as in Ephesus “the mob ran together, the greater part not knowing wherefore,” so here again the mob merely knew that some of its leaders were frantically indignant at the Apostle Paul, and believed that he should be killed. He was dragged out of the Temple, and immediately the great doors of the Beautiful Gate of the Temple were closed—that no rioting or bloodshed might occur within the sacred enclosure.
The Tower of Antonia was close by the Temple Court, and steps connected the two. In this castle a band of Roman soldiers was quartered—evidently several hundred, because each centurion was a commander, or captain, of a hundred men. The riotous commotion brought forth the garrison, which appeared at just the proper time to deliver Paul from his enemies, who were beating him.
The chief captain, Claudius Lysias (Acts 23:26), caused the arrest of Paul and commanded that he be chained to two of the Roman soldiers—much after the manner in which now a culprit is sometimes handcuffed to an officer. Each Roman soldier carried, as a part of his outfit, an iron chain and a leather thong, for use in just such an emergency. While this handcuffing, which fulfilled the prophecy of Agabus, was in progress, Lysias made inquiry respecting the Apostle and the crime which had occasioned the commotion and indignation of these religious people. As a Gentile, he would naturally suppose that such a commotion
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amongst religious worshipers must have been incited by some atrociously evil conduct, some villainy or sacrilege, or that a disguised robber or assassin had been discovered. The multitude shouted out its various conjectures, and, it being impossible to judge the case at the time on such evidence, he commanded that Paul be brought into the prison.
Lysias, the foreign officer, had probably a very imperfect knowledge of the language spoken by the Jews, which was either Hebrew or Syriac, his own language being the Greek. Knowing this, the Apostle spoke to him in the Greek language, and with such fluency as to cause the commander great surprise. From the account, he evidently had confounded the Apostle with an Egyptian leader of an insurrection of some time previous. Paul’s request was that he be permitted to speak to the people, who were in such commotion and crying out, “Away with him!” He evidently thought that he might correct some false impressions and pacify the multitude. At any rate he would lose no opportunity for declaring the gospel of Christ. The Lord influenced the heart of Lysias to grant the request. The people quieted as they perceived that the commander had permitted the prisoner to make them an address from the stairs leading to the castle. Here was a most excellent opportunity for presenting Christ before a large number of seemingly devout people—Temple worshipers. Undoubtedly there were some grains of “wheat” in that multitude, though evidently the great mass was “chaff.” The Apostle’s words would be a blessing to the wheat, and serve to test, prove, demonstrate, that the others were without the real kernel of truth in their hearts, although they had the outward appearances of being devout worshipers of the true God.
It is worthy of remark that the Apostle never allowed opportunities to pass by him without doing all in his power to use them in the Lord’s praise and for the forwarding of the truth. The majority of us, probably, would have been so affected by the excitement of such an incident and by the bruises resulting from the beating, that we would perhaps have forgotten all about the greatest and most important work of all committed to our care, and might have been much less prompt than the Apostle to seek an opportunity to testify to the Lord’s praise and for the opening of the eyes of any who might be his people amongst our assailants. Let us learn this lesson: let us be instant in season and out of season, so far as our own convenience and feelings are concerned, if only we can find opportune seasons for reaching others. The Apostle here illustrated his advice to Timothy, “Be instant in season and out of season,—preach the Word.” It was in season for the multitude, because they were gathered there, and their attention was riveted upon him. Had he consulted his own convenience he would have said that it was very much “out of season” for himself;—that he was in no condition to speak, his nerves were excited and his body was bruised. But thinking of the convenient opportunity he spared not himself. In this he had the spirit of the Master, that he himself admonished us to have, saying that as Christ died for us we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren—in season or out of season, so far as our own convenience is concerned.
In a few well-chosen words he told the people the story of his own experience: he had, like themselves, been an opposer of Jesus, a persecutor of all the followers of the Lord; how he had been miraculously interrupted in this work, and led to consider the claims of Jesus from the standpoint of the Word of God—the Law and the Prophets; how he had become fully convinced that Jesus is indeed “the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world,” the deliverer who should come out of Zion, and through whom a blessing should come to all that would receive his message. He then proceeded to tell them what should have brought joy to their hearts; viz., that the Lord sent him to be a messenger to the Gentiles, to tell them of the good tidings, that they also might participate, as well as the Jews. But their hearts being evil and selfish, this mention of divine favor and mercy going to others incensed them; they heard the Apostle in peace and with profound attention up to this point, and then all their prejudices seemed to be aroused with the thought that this man claimed and taught that Gentiles could have favor with God equal to that bestowed upon the Jews. They cried out against him in much the same language that they had used against the Lord, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live;” and while they thus cried out and threw dust in the air, and gesticulated with their arms, and threw their garments about, they made a wild, weird picture. The Roman commander, not understanding the Hebrew language, had not been able to follow the Apostle’s discourse, and considering it evident that after he had had so quiet and orderly a hearing for a time, and now there was such a wild burst of indignation at what he said, it implied something very deep and treacherous and evil in the man, else his words would not thus arouse the passions and malice of religious people. He, therefore, ordered the Apostle to be scourged to make him tell a true story of his differences with the Jews.
Matters are somewhat the same today, though on a different plane. A stranger or worldly person, hearing some sectarian Christian animadvert against some one who has been preaching the true gospel of the Lord Jesus, would be inclined to suppose that the message
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must contain something very vicious, very terrible indeed, else it would not so arouse those who have outwardly so much “form of godliness.” And if, as in the case of the Roman officer, an audience be granted, and the truth be presented in their hearing, they cannot understand it;—that is to say, “the world by wisdom knows not God,” knows little of his plan, understands little of the language of his Word—it is a different language from that to which they are accustomed. And when, after a presentation of the truth, they find bitter opposition and invective against it on the part of religious teachers—modern scribes and Pharisees and doctors of divinity—we must not be surprised if they are the more inclined to side with those who represent popular theology—so-called “orthodoxy,” and assume that the true gospel, because believed and taught by so few and opposed by so many of influence, must necessarily be something very evil.
Nevertheless, it is for us to take the Apostle for our guide, and to be faithful in the use of every opportunity to let the light shine forth, even though it arouse the bitter opposition and persecution and prejudice of darkness. The darkness hateth the light, because it is reproved thereby, is our Lord’s explanation. Nothing seemed so much to incite the scribes and Pharisees of eighteen centuries ago as the reasonableness of the true gospel. The common people heard it gladly, unless intimidated by their religious rulers, and led to doubt those who had been teaching them to the contrary. Hence, the rulers were incensed against the gospellers: “They were grieved because they [the apostles] taught the people.” They held, on the contrary, that only the scribes and Pharisees, the doctors and leaders, should be taught, and that the people should simply follow them blindly, and without requiring a reason and a “Thus saith the Lord” for their faith.
Our Golden Text for this lesson is well chosen. Paul’s experience illustrated it; he was suffering as a Christian—because he was loyal to the Lord and his Word. He was not suffering because of having followed the admonitions of the brethren in going into the Temple, for very evidently the hatred that was against them in the hearts of his enemies would sooner or later have manifested itself anyway, and they would have sought his life, as on previous occasions. We merely see in this incident that the attempt of the apostles to create a favorable impression toward the Apostle Paul and his work amongst the Gentiles failed, and probably brought the matter of his arrest, etc., more quickly to the front than would any other course have done.
The Apostle was not ashamed of his sufferings, because he realized that they were endured for Christ’s sake. Any man or woman would feel and should feel deeply pained at a public arrest and imprisonment as a felon, as a violator of the law. But when these things are experienced, and we can realize that they are coming to us because of our faithfulness to the Lord, in following in his footsteps, we may rejoice in ignominy, rejoice in things which otherwise would be shameful and detestable. If, therefore, in the Lord’s providence, arrest or imprisonment or scourging should come to any who read this article, and if they can directly or indirectly trace their tribulation to faithfulness to the Lord and his truth, let them not be ashamed; let them glorify God on this behalf, rejoicing that they are accounted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ, and remembering that even thus also it was with our Lord Jesus. He was placed under arrest; he was bound; he was scourged; he was publicly insulted; he was even crucified as a blasphemer against God.—1 Pet. 4:16.
Another lesson which we may learn here is, not to trust too implicitly in the voice of the multitude, and if we find the rabble shouting against any one, either orally or through the press, we should not unquestioningly accept their verdict. We should remember the experiences of Jesus, the experiences of Paul, and of the other Apostles, and how the multitude cried out, “Away with them!” The Christian whose mind is thus relieved of prejudice is the better prepared to judge wisely respecting whatever may properly come under his observation or criticism. And then, if he have similar experiences himself, he will be the better prepared for them.
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“THE LORD STOOD BY HIM”
—ACTS 23:11-22.—MAY 10.—
“The Lord stood by him and said, Be of good cheer.”
AFTER the exciting experiences of our last lesson the Apostle must have felt somewhat depressed in spirit and discouraged. True, he had passed through equally great trials amongst the Gentiles, but here, amongst his own people, and in the City of the Great King, the opposition to the gospel would be much more inclined to make him heart-sore. Besides, he evidently had come to Jerusalem full of the thought that under the Lord’s providence he might accomplish a considerable work amongst his kinsmen according to the flesh, and rescue some of them before the great overthrow which he realized was impending. It was in this time of great mental stress that the Lord so graciously communicated with him by a dream,
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as declared in the first verse of our lesson. What an encouragement it must have been! and the fact that it was given is an assurance that it was needed; for the Lord very rarely indeed interposes miraculously in the course of events unless there is special necessity. On two other occasions, when the Apostle was in straits, the Lord manifested his favor and encouraged him in like manner.—Acts 18:9,10; 27:24.
How much the Apostle must have felt strengthened by this vision, and assurance of divine care, we can well imagine. Nevertheless, the Lord was as truly with him and as fully caring for his interests as on other occasions, when no vision attested the fact: and he is with us, his followers of today, in like manner; and doubtless the visions granted to the Apostle were destined of the Lord to be an encouragement for “all who should believe on him through their word.” The Apostle’s visions serve us as they served him—assuring us also that the Lord is with his people, and is able to care for and protect and guide and bless our efforts today, as eighteen centuries ago. But to have the Lord thus with him and to feel good cheer in the Lord’s presence implied the fullest sincerity and zeal on the part of the Apostle to do and to be all that would please the Master; and similarly we can enjoy his presence and appropriate to ourselves the message, “Be of good cheer,” only in proportion as our hearts can realize that, however imperfect our labors for the truth and for the brethren, they are done “as unto the Lord” and to the best of our ability.
The day before this vision, by order of the Roman commander, the Apostle was brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin, of which the high priest, Ananias, was president. The Apostle was permitted to address the Sanhedrin, and began by declaring himself a Jew, who had always lived in full harmony with the laws of his country—an honorable citizen. It was at this time, it will be remembered, the high priest, possibly thinking this language a reflection against himself (for he had an unsavory reputation), ordered an attendant to smite the Apostle on the mouth—an insult not at all uncommon in the East at that time, and, to some extent, even to this day. The Apostle, justly indignant, exclaimed, “God shall smite thee, thou whited wall; for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?” One who stood near him replied, “Answerest thou God’s high priest so?” and the Apostle replied, “I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.” It is uncertain what the Apostle meant by this language. It may be his defective eyesight did not recognize Ananias. Or, possibly, he meant to be understood as questioning the right of Ananias to the title of high priest. Or, in view of the fact that the antitypical high priest is the Lord Jesus, and that the typical priesthood came to an end at the time of Christ’s glorification, the Apostle may have had that in mind. However, he acknowledged the teaching of the law in respect to the officers of the government, to render honor to whom honor is due; and there is a lesson here for all of us in this day, when we find so many disposed to “speak evil of dignitaries,” and bring railing accusations against them. The attitude of the Lord’s people should be a very conservative one in such matters—in harmony with Michael’s words to the Adversary, “The Lord rebuke thee!”
Reasoning that he would have scant courtesy from such a tribunal, and knowing that its members were about equally divided as between Pharisees and Sadducees, and that the high priest was a Sadducee, the Apostle appealed to the Pharisees that it was a case in which the Sadducees were trying to do him injury because of his religious faith, much of which was shared in by the Pharisees; and that a Sadducee, in violation of the Law, had just caused a Pharisee to be smitten in the mouth. He thus to some extent gained the sympathy of the Pharisees by declaring that he was a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, and that the real animus of the opposition against him was on the score of the resurrection of the dead—for the Pharisees believed in a resurrection of the dead, but the Sadducees denied it. Immediately there was a contention in the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees to some extent espousing the Apostle’s cause, as against their adversaries, the Sadducees. The meeting broke up in disorder, the Roman commander, Lysias, rescuing Paul and removing him, and thus causing the excitement to abate.
The honesty and propriety of Paul’s claim to be a Pharisee has been questioned by some, but we regard their contention as without foundation. The Apostle was a Jew; so were the Pharisees, and a Jew may have either more or less piety without its affecting his nationality. The Pharisees claimed to be strict believers of the Law of Moses—believers in all that Moses and the Prophets did write, the name Pharisee signifying holiness or completeness in the observance of the Law. Paul had all his life been zealous for the Law of God and for its complete observance, and he was no less so as a Christian. Indeed, he was more so, for, having realized his own inability and the inability of all men to keep the Law, he had laid hold upon Christ, the sent of God, as the one through whom alone he would be able to keep the Law perfectly, wholly: as he expressed it, “The righteousness [the full, whole, complete meaning] of the Law is fulfilled in us [holiness people, complete in Christ] who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.” All true Christians today could make a
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similar claim to that of the Apostle—that we are Pharisees—holiness people—keepers of the divine law—observers of it in every particular to the extent of ability, and with all shortcomings and deficiencies made up for us by our Lord Jesus. We are not under the Law Covenant, for it has given place to a better one, the original one; but as for the Law itself, it is God’s Law, “holy, just, good,” and can never pass away. It is recognized by us as much as it was recognized by the holiness people of old, and more so; for we discern, not only its letter, but its spirit—love for God and love for fellow-men.
The Jews must have realized that their case against the Apostle would appear very poorly in the eyes of the Roman commander, seeing that they were doing the rioting on both occasions, that the Apostle was the more sedate and willing to reason his cause, and that some of those supposed to be his accusers had turned to his defense. Meantime the sympathy of the Pharisees for Paul doubtless cooled off. At all events, during that night more than forty of the deluded religious enthusiasts bound themselves to God with a curse that they would kill Paul. Such an anathema was in effect, “May the divine curse be upon us if we do not effect the death of this man, whom we believe to be an enemy of God and of our religion, and whom we believe it to be our duty to destroy.”
They laid a plot, as follows: They would have the high priest send word to the Roman commander that the Sanhedrin desired a fresh examination of the prisoner on some other charges, the intention being that while the soldiers would be bringing him these forty men would assault and risk their lives to assassinate Paul. The matter was evidently not kept as secretly as they supposed, for one of Paul’s relatives learned the particulars. Indeed, we know that it is impossible to keep anything from God, and that the most secret engagements are, therefore, powerless to do injury to the Lord’s people. Nevertheless, when the information reached the Apostle he did not say to himself, God knows all about this matter and will take care of me, and, therefore, I have nothing to do in respect to it. On the contrary, he arranged matters so far as he could to defeat the plot—just as though the entire responsibility for his preservation rested upon himself. There is a lesson in this which many of God’s dear people need to learn, viz., that each of the Lord’s followers is a colaborer with the Lord in every good work. It is our duty to do all that we know how to do in proper self-defense and in protection of one another from the wiles of the Adversary and in the defense of the cause we serve; but, having done all in our power, having exercised all the wisdom and prudence we can command, we are to rest our hearts in the knowledge that the Lord will take care of all that is beyond our power to control, so that all things shall work together for good to them that love God.
There is another lesson for us in the fact that, although the Lord promised Paul that, as he had been faithful in testifying of him at Jerusalem, he must also preach the Gospel at Rome, nevertheless this latter prediction was long deferred of realization. It was over two years before he reached Rome, and then as a prisoner. We also need certain lessons of faith. We not only need to believe that the Lord is with us, and has the care of our affairs, but have need of patience and perseverance in faith and hope and love; and ofttimes with us, as with the Apostle, the Lord defers for a long time to complete our deliverance from adverse conditions—defers for a long time the opening of the desired door of opportunity in his service. We are to remember his wisdom as well as his love and power, and to rest contentedly therein after doing
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all within our power. In Paul’s case it may be that conditions at Rome would be more favorable to his ministry later than they were at this time. It may be also that the Lord had a work for him to do in the interim as a prisoner at Caesarea,—amongst the Romans. And so in our affairs: we are to look for the opportunities of service as they come, and leave to our Lord the supervision of our life as a whole.
As a result of the communication of the plot to the Roman captain, he sent the Apostle under a strong military escort to the Roman capital of Judea,—Caesarea. There the Apostle, although kept a prisoner, was doubtless made comfortable, awaiting the trial before the Roman governor, Felix. The essence of this lesson as a whole, in its application to us, is expressed in the Apostle’s words, “If God be for us who can be against us?”
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INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED
WHICH WERE THE MORE RESPONSIBLE; JUDAS OR ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA?
Question.—What difference should we recognize as between the condition of Judas Iscariot and his crime, and Ananias and Sapphira and their crime? The one sinned before the holy spirit was dispensed at Pentecost; the others subsequently. If Judas’ case merited the verdict of Second Death, would not the others merit the same? If Ananias and Sapphira did not sin the sin unto death, how should we regard the case of Judas?
Answer.—There would appear to be considerable
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difference between these two cases. Both crimes were committed against much light; both were reprehensible; but that of Judas seems to us to be much the more serious of the two. While he lived prior to Pentecost, we are to remember that he was one of the twelve upon whom Jesus had specially conferred a measure of his spirit—such a measure as permitted him, with the others, to perform miracles of healing, casting out of devils, etc., as recorded. His position was one of special closeness to the Lord and his personal instruction, both by precept and example. We remember our Lord’s words to the disciples, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom; but to them that are without these things are spoken in parables.” All this privilege, opportunity, knowledge, contact, made Judas specially responsible. Then, too, his crime would have been bad, wicked, had it been against any ordinary person; but was seriously intensified by being a crime against him who spake and acted as never man spake or acted before. It is from this standpoint that our Lord’s declaration, that he was the son of perdition, seems to have special weight, or import, as implying that he had enjoyed a sufficiency of light and knowledge of righteousness to constitute a trial, and that his deliberate sin against such light and knowledge meant the Second Death.
In the case of Ananias and Sapphira they were beginners; they had not been long in the Church; they never met the Master, and had not known the apostles a great while. They saw others consecrating their goods and noted that they were correspondingly appreciated in the Church. They wished to have such an appreciation, and wished to do some good with their means; but a selfish feeling, combined, perhaps, with a feeling of caution, ensnared them into a wrong course of conduct which the Apostle Peter denominates “lying unto the holy spirit.” We do not positively say that they will have any future or further opportunity for gaining everlasting life; we know of no Scripture which guarantees to us that they will have any such; yet it seems to us not improbable that they will have a further opportunity in which they will have greater light, and greater knowledge of right and wrong, and of the results attaching.
SHALL WE USE THE TERM “EVOLUTION,” ETC.?
Question.—I note your opposition to the Evolution theory; yet in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., page 31, you remark the possibility that something of an evolutionary development was used by our Creator in bringing the various species of animals each to its own perfection. Let me ask, then: Cannot we Christians hold to the word “evolution” with propriety? and may we not even think of Adam as having reached human perfection by a process of development as one of the species animal?
Answer.—No; to both questions. We regard the words Evolution and Evolutionist as now definitely attached to a particular theory. These words belong wholly to those who invented and now have them, and we believe that, as Christians, we would do well to avoid them thoroughly, as the thought connected with the word is a mechanical one, pure and simple, as in opposition to a creative one. We would hold that God did develop different species, each to its perfection, and that he developed these, either by a long or a short process, from the earth itself; but we cannot admit, as evolutionists would claim, that this was merely a development which needed not the Life-giver to start it, and to maintain and direct it. We would claim that God is the director of all the forces of nature, and that they are all of his own creation, and results, therefore, of his direct creation in every instance—fish, fowl, brute, man.
It would not strike us as reasonable to suppose a gradual development of a perfect man by an evolutionary process without his having some measure of responsibility added at some stage of his career before he reached perfection. Neither would it be reasonable to suppose the evolution of a man from a lower order of being to absolute perfection of his own kind, without a history, literature, etc., etc.; neither would it be reasonable to suppose a human being so evolved from a lower order of being to human perfection, as being in ignorance of good and evil up to the time that he reached perfection. If we who are in a fallen condition are held to be responsible to divine law, would not those of the human family who had not yet reached full perfection, but who had considerable intelligence, be reasonably amenable to law also?—supposing your theory to be true.
From whatever standpoint we would view the matter we can find no ground whatever for supposing that Adam ever had a human father, either perfect or imperfect in the flesh. Much more would we disbelieve that he ever had a father of a lower order of being, who could give him life in the divine likeness, in heart and head. Furthermore, to suppose such a possible evolution of a man to perfection from a condition of imperfection, would be to suppose that man, in the present-time imperfect condition, is his own savior, and could re-commence a process of evolution just as well as he could have carried on such a process before reaching perfection. If such a proposition should be considered true, it would negative all the Scriptural teachings we have respecting the necessity for a Redeemer and for his interference in order supernaturally to bring about times of restitution of all things.
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