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VOL. XIX. FEBRUARY 15, 1898. No. 4
Our Sufficiency is of God--in
Christ Jesus................................ 51
Christ Our Wisdom............................. 51
Poem: Sweet the Hour at Jesus' Feet............... 54
"Think it Not Strange"............................ 54
"A Double Minded Man is Unstable"............. 58
"More Tolerable for Sodom in the
Day of Judgment"............................ 59
It was Hidden from Them....................... 60
"Remember the Sabbath Day"........................ 61
Jewish Vs. Christian Sabbath.................. 63
Interesting Letters............................... 64
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OUR SUFFICIENCY IS OF GOD–IN CHRIST JESUS
–CHRIST OUR WISDOM–
"Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness [justification], and sanctification, and redemption [deliverance]: he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."–`1 Cor. 1:30`
"WISDOM is the principal thing:" "With all thy getting get understanding," thus wrote the wise man, Solomon, and so we all agree: wisdom is necessary at the very beginning of any matter that would result favorably. Wisdom is craved by the whole world of mankind, and the majority, even while going in divers directions, would claim to be seeking to walk in wisdom's ways. How important, then, that we discriminate as between the true wisdom and that which is so frequently misnamed wisdom, which is really folly!
Mother Eve in her perfection had a craving for wisdom, but inadvertently took the wrong advice and the wrong course in seeking its way. It would appear that the very basis of her temptation, through which she fell from divine favor and into sin, was the exercise of this laudable ambition to be wise. She perceived that the serpent was the most cunning, most wise, amongst the beasts, and she perceived that the serpent ate the fruit of a particular tree which Adam and herself had been forbidden to eat of. She gave credit to the tree and its forbidden fruit for the wisdom of the serpent, and concluded that its fruit was "to be desired to make one wise." The desire for the wisdom led to the disobedience–to the fall from divine favor, under the penalty of sin–death, and its associated troubles and miseries.
Many of Eve's children are seeking wisdom in a similarly wrong direction. Her proper and wise course would have been to have acknowledged that she knew comparatively little, was seriously lacking of wisdom, and that God, the very embodiment of wisdom, was also the embodiment of love and her truest friend, and that his command was the command of wisdom. Had she followed the divine command, trusted the divine wisdom, she would have been saved from her great mistake and its terrible consequences. She needed to learn that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and obedience to him the completeness of wisdom. Had she been obedient to the Lord, no doubt in due time and in a much better way he would have granted her all the wisdom she desired and was capable of using. The same principles hold true with Eve's children: all who would walk in wisdom's paths should learn that all true wisdom "comes from above" and that any other is "earthly, sensual, devilish."
One of the first lessons of life to be learned is, that our own judgments are unsafe, and even those who are least unbalanced by the fall and who, therefore, more closely resemble mother Eve who was perfect, are as liable as she was to make the mistake of seeking wisdom in a wrong direction–leaning to their own understanding. (`Prov. 3:5`.) Those, therefore, who would take the wisest course should promptly admit their own unwisdom and seek for divine direction, divine wisdom. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not."–`Jas. 1:5`.
But alas, how few are disposed to accept the wisdom that cometh from above! The majority have so large a degree of selfishness that they seem indeed to make miserable failures out of the best opportunities of their lives, before they realize that they lack wisdom and need guidance by the great Teacher. Hence, as the Lord declares, only the humble, only the "poor in spirit," are in the way that leads to eternal life and the Kingdom–because only these will seek for and
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obey the heavenly wisdom from the great Counselor. This class alone is in the condition to be taught of God: and concerning all who shall attain to the fulness of divine favor it is written, "They shall all be taught of God."
It is for this reason that, as we look about us in the world, we find just the condition of things which the Apostle described in the `verses preceding our text`, namely, that "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the [worldly] wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen." Do we not see that as a rule the men and women of largest natural ability, and greatest natural wisdom, fail to obtain the riches of divine grace in knowledge and in experience, which some of the less favored naturally do attain? Surely, the reason of this generally is that the greater our mental poverty, the greater our humility, and consequently the greater our trust in the Lord's wisdom, and reliance upon his instruction, and obedience thereto.
Not always is this true, of course; for we find that some of the most haughty and self-conceited of our race are really the most poverty stricken as respects real ability: and occasionally we find some possessed of rare abilities, who are extremely humble minded and very reliant upon God; but neither of these cases is the rule: they are exceptions to the rule. Gather together a company of God's devoted, consecrated people in any place and scan them critically, and you will be convinced that not many wise, or great, or mighty are being chosen; but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith to be heirs of the Kingdom. The worldly-wise to-day are not to be found among the open scoffers and infidels, for worldly wisdom dictates to them a different course; they are to be found rather in the most respectable and aristocratic congregations of professed Christians. Many of them are too honorable to be open hypocrites, and therefore rarely take part in meetings or say anything respecting their inmost convictions, –their inmost thoughts or doubts respecting the creed of their own church and the creeds of all other
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churches; nevertheless they feel that it is wise to support Christianity, because of its moral influence on their families, their employes and their neighbors; besides even the doctrines which they at heart repudiate have, they believe, a restraining influence upon the "lower classes:" hence their wisdom, worldly-wisdom, guides them into the support of Christianity, but forbids them to go to any extreme, such as annunciation of faith in Christ or full consecration to his service.
For the humble, however, God has provided true wisdom in Christ. His words no less than his example show us that we are sinners and that "no man cometh unto the Father" except by him. He tells us of the Father's pity, and of the redemption provided through his own blood, and of our privilege to accept of divine grace unto full forgiveness and reconciliation, and of our need of the heavenly wisdom for every step of the journey, if we would walk the narrow way, which leads to the glory of the Kingdom and life everlasting. And all who accept this "call" accept the great Mediator's instruction and guidance, as the very essence of divine wisdom. With varying degrees of promptness and after varying degrees of wandering from this good Shepherd, and being sought and found by him, the faithful eventually reach the position where they put no confidence in themselves and their own wisdom, but all confidence in the wisdom of him whom God hath appointed to be our wisdom–"who of God is made unto us wisdom." When this degree of progress has been attained, a measure of rest and contentment takes possession of the true sheep, which permits them to look up to God with confidence in every matter and at every time–especially in seasons of distress and grief and trial. They learn not to trust to their own wisdom any longer; but to trust implicitly to the wisdom and goodness of the great Shepherd.
But not for a considerable time is such a development of confidence in the Lord's wisdom attained: meantime, they have many battles and contentions against the wiles of Satan, who would tempt them to use their own wisdom or the wisdom of other men and to doubt the results of following the divine wisdom and its program. On every hand, the flesh, assisted by the devil, offers inducements and seductions to follow its way and to cease to follow in the Lord's way. In business affairs, in church affairs, in home and family affairs, the temptation is continually advanced, that we should choose our own way, follow our own preferences and thereby reap larger and better results. It is only after considerable experience, and frequently after many failures, that the "pilgrim" for the heavenly country learns to trust no wisdom but that which cometh down from above and is in accordance with the divine Word. Describing the attitude of the true children of God, abiding in Christ as branches in the vine, the Apostle says:–
"He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mysteries of his will."–`Eph. 1:8`.
"We also pray for you and desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every
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Let your hearts be "knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."–`Col. 2:2,3`.
Notwithstanding the fact that those who accept Christ are the "meek," "the poor in spirit," and lower than the average standard along the lines of worldly wisdom and power and wealth, yet nevertheless, the acceptance by these of Christ as their wisdom makes them really wiser than others;–not only in respect to the greater riches which they are laying up in heaven, but also wiser in respect to the most ordinary affairs of this present life. This is not because they miraculously receive new brains or a better and more orderly arrangement of the brains they have, but because submitting their judgments on every subject to the will of the Lord, and walking according to his directions in every matter and in every particular, they have his wisdom, his spirit, to guide them. Hence, altho their own minds are imperfect and unbalanced, as much or more than the average of the race, the Apostle is able to say of such, "God hath given us the spirit of a sound mind."–`2 Tim. 1:7`.
The spirit of a sound mind enables its possessors to view things more correctly than they would be able to view them of themselves; for instance, it cautions us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, but according to the measure of the Lord's spirit possessed. Yet while cautioning us to be very humble, it guards us against being fearful, men-pleasers, sycophants. While constraining us to be peace-lovers and peace-makers, and kind, and forgiving, and generous, without maliciousness or vindictiveness, it nevertheless cautions us to be firm respecting principles of righteousness and truth. We may and should gladly yield our own preferences to those of others, for the sake of serving others or doing them good, yet we must never do so at the expense of the truth and principle. In the family, love is to be the rule, blended with mercy and justice, kindness and generosity; nevertheless, the rod is not to be spared if its use be necessary to the proper training of the child. And the Christian father is not only to be "kind and gentle toward all," but is to "rule his own family well, having his own children in proper subjection." Thus, we might multiply the various counsels of the heavenly wisdom, as it enters into the lives of those who are fully devoted to the Lord and gives them wisdom and grace for the affairs of life far beyond any that they would have had without it.
After exhorting us that "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God," the Apostle `James (1:5`) says, "Who among you is a wise man and endued with knowledge? Let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have strife in your hearts, glory not [to think yourselves led of the Lord and guided by his true wisdom], and lie not against the truth. This wisdom [which in selfishness seeks its own gratification and advancement, envying others and striving selfishly for its own advancement] descendeth not from above but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work; but the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make for peace."–`Jas. 3:13-18`.
Let us remember well this analysis of the wisdom that comes from above.
First, It is pure, guileless, sincere, honorable, open, above board: it cometh to the light, loveth the light, it is not of the darkness, nor of sin, it is utterly opposed to secret whisperings, back bitings and all slanderous and underhanded works and ways. It takes the Lord at his word, receiving the pure word of wisdom into a good and honest heart. It is honest: it does not deceive itself into believing that self-will is the Lord's will.
Secondly, It is peaceable: that is to say, so far as is possible and consistent with honesty and purity it is peaceable. It loves and desires peace, harmony, unity; but since peace is not first, but purity first, therefore it can only be fully at peace and fully in harmony with that which is pure and honest and good.
Thirdly, It is gentle–it is not rude, course, rough, and has no sympathy with such a spirit and such methods. It is not only of God, but God like. Nevertheless, its gentleness follows its purity and peaceableness: those who receive this wisdom are not first or primarily gentle, and therefore peaceable and pure, but they are primarily pure, sanctified with the truth, and therefore are peaceable, and therefore are gentle, and therefore are easy to be entreated. But they can only be easily entreated in harmony with purity, peace and gentleness: they cannot be easily entreated to assist in any evil work of bearing false witness or scandal-mongers, or slandering, or evil-speaking, nor into any of the works of the flesh and the devil.
Fourthly, It is full of mercy and good fruits: it rejoices in mercy, because that is a part of its very self; mercy and all the good fruits of the spirit of the Lord are sure to proceed from the heart in which rules the spirit of love, honesty, purity, peaceableness and gentleness. But this mercy, while taking hold upon
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the ignorant and the unintentional evil-doers with sympathy and help, cannot have the slightest sympathy or affiliation with wilful wrong-doers, because the spirit of wisdom is not first mercy, but first purity; hence, the mercy of the spirit of wisdom can only exercise itself upon the unintentional wrong-doers, or the ignorant wrong-doers.
Fifth, Without partiality (which would signify injustice): the purity and peace, gentleness, mercy and good fruits of the spirit of wisdom, lead us to be no respecters of persons, except as character shall demonstrate real value: the outward features, the natural man, the color of his skin, etc., are ignored by the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of wisdom that cometh from above. It is impartial and loves that which is
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pure, good, peaceable, gentle, true, wherever found and under whatever circumstances it exhibits itself.
Sixth, It is without hypocrisy. This heavenly wisdom is so pure, so peaceable, so gentle and so merciful, toward all that are worthy of consideration or notice, that there is no necessity for hypocrisy where it controls. And it is bound to be out of harmony, out of sympathy and out of fellowship with all that is sinful; and in fellowship and in sympathy with all that is pure or that is making for purity and peace and gentleness –so that it has no room for hypocrisy.
Let us, dearly beloved, as children of God, more and more fully accept Christ as our wisdom, for all of the affairs of life–little as well as great, temporal as well as spiritual. Let us seek to be more and more filled with the spirit of true wisdom that cometh from above, whose ultimate teaching is holiness to the Lord.
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SWEET THE HOUR AT JESUS' FEET
Sweet is the hour to those who meet
In fellowship at Jesus' feet,
Communing of the wondrous love
That drew him from his home above
Down to this world of sin and woe,
That we the way of life might know,
Might here by faith in Him prepare
That precious robe the "bride" shall wear.
Sweet is this hour; but none can tell
What glories in those mansions dwell,
Reserved beyond life's rolling tide;
For those who in the Lord confide,
Who bear the toil, the cross sustain,
And know to die in Christ is gain,
Shall in his Kingdom glories share
And shine as jewels bright and fair.
Sweet is this hour; but oh how blest
The one that ushers in our rest!–
That ope's to our enraptured eyes
The glories of our heavenly prize,
Where clothed in bridal robes we'll stand
As kings and priests at Christ's right hand,
While heavenly hosts before him fall
And hail him King and Lord of all.
–A. H. Bigelow.
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"THINK IT NOT STRANGE"
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as tho some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."–`1 Pet. 4:12,13`
NEVER have we known a time when the Great Adversary seemed more energetic in his assaults upon the "harvest" work, than now. Information comes from every quarter of fiery trials, pitfalls and persecutions being operated or prepared against those who have followed the light of present truth, and who have set their faces to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath set us free. It is not best that we should publish all that reaches us, for, while there is much to discourage, there is much also to encourage; which, we thank the Lord, more than counterbalances. We do, however, desire that all should know in a general way, for two reasons, (1) It will help to fortify them for their turn, when it shall come; and (2) it will develop in them sympathetic love: for when one member of the body suffers, all the members are benefited by suffering with it.
We will mention one case here because its narration may serve to point a lesson to some. Brother Bahret's letter states the trouble as follows–
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:–I must tell you of our experiences. Some time last June Brother W. de Ronden Pos came here from N.Y. City and held a meeting in the evening, speaking on `Rom. 8`, and I would say that it was a very good and blessed meeting. He expressed at the time his intention of leaving the nominal church and engaging in some other pursuit and said that, if he could, it might be possible that he would come here to live. Of course, we expressed our desire that we should be glad to have him in our midst, but nothing further was done. Later on he was in the city again for a week's visit and held a few meetings, but my brother and I, being in Germany, were not present and did not know what arrangements had been made till we came back. I was told that he had concluded to come here and take up any occupation he could find, as for instance an agency, or that he buy a place in the suburbs of the city where he could raise
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some vegetables and chickens to help to make a living. I was given to understand that he was a man of some means who was not entirely depending on his work. We thought our meetings would be continued in the same way as before, only he taking the lead for the most part of the time.
We intended to assist him with temporal things to the extent of our ability, and when he came here a short time after my return from Europe, I said we ought to make it $15 per month, and informed our treasurer that I would make up any deficiency.
We had a few good meetings after he came. At that time in one of the Wednesday night meetings he made the proposition that we should organize. I made the suggestion that we would better consider everything well before taking action; but then he put the vote that all those in favor of organizing should signify it by rising, and all arose; I did the same rather hesitatingly, altho I had no definite objection to offer, and did not want to vote No. However, I said that we ought to have another meeting before the time set for organization– a week afterward, on Dec. 15th.
We brothers then held a meeting, he being present, but all the time was taken up by speaking on baptism which he thought ought to be enforced, we urging that we should not force anybody or exclude anybody because he cannot just see as we do respecting water baptism, if otherwise they are children of God, believers in Jesus Christ. We supposed he had agreed with us on that point, and so on the evening of Dec. 15th we had a meeting, and after some words by him, reading the "Confession" which he had formulated, we signed it: I one of the first, because I said I can subscribe to that anytime. The confession we subscribed to was a very simple one which acknowledged the Heavenly Father and Jesus his Son our Savior and Master. I think twenty-two subscribed that night, some of them people we had never seen before, who were no more of us than other people of the world. Brother de Ronden Pos spoke then on baptism at some length, saying that he would not let any go to the Lord's supper if not immersed, not even his own mother, and tho it should break her heart. Some of our number then asked their names to be erased from the roll, others objected, and then the trouble commenced.
In this same meeting Bro. Pos expressed his position to the effect that he was no more nor less than any other member, and if at any time he had had any aspiration of being "something," he had entirely given it up, and that any of the brethren stood on the same level with him, and therefore he would not put his name down first on the roll of membership, and only signed towards the last. It therefore seemed strange to some that he should take the liberty at the same meeting to declare that he would not let any come to the Lord's table that were not immersed, when he knew that the others thought differently.
Before I go any farther now I must give another explanation: the Sunday before this Bro. Pos brought before the meeting his thoughts that the "Lord's Supper" ought to be observed every week. Some agreed and others did not agree with him on this subject.
The next Sunday we observed Lord's Supper and Brother Pos read `Rom. 14` and stated that the Lord showed him through the very circumstances what to do in the case of the unimmersed (for, as I said before, there were some who subscribed whom we really did not know, as they only attended a few times at previous meetings and a few not at all; but they were of the denomination called "Disciples;" they had been immersed, but were yet to all appearances only nominal Christians); he said to enforce this rule would let in some people who, altho immersed, were yet of the world, while others who were much more in harmony with us would be excluded, and so he readmitted these and rejected the others for the time: but later on he let them in again; and these are the ones who are now his chief standbys. Things went along with ups and downs, till about the first week in January; by that time we saw the necessity of having some system, and it was proposed that some elders be elected, which we found Scriptural and your advice in the Nov. 15, '95, WATCH TOWER. Meantime I wrote you a letter that I thought he had much ability to preach, and it would be a pity if he could not make full use of it, and suggested to you the plan that he be employed in part by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. It seemed rather strange when I heard from you that you had heard very little of him of late, as I thought you were in steady correspondence; but still I thought I would let him know that I had written to you and that you considered it favorably, but would like to hear from himself. I intended to speak to him on a Sunday afternoon, after the meeting, and was only waiting till he should be through speaking to somebody else, when all at once he commenced to denounce the doctrines of MILLENNIAL DAWN as from the pit; and he said, may the Lord forgive those people who say the Lord has come. I said then, "Brother, be careful what you are saying: do not say hastily that a thing is from the devil." He said then, "I do say it's from the devil, and a good many have stumbled over these doctrines," and he denounced them even more.
We were all shocked, at least I was; but I did not want to write anything to you about it then, as I hoped that when I would get opportunity to speak to him about it and explain, he would see his error. But matters went from bad to worse.
Two weeks ago we had a meeting appointed for the election of elders. It was only a meeting of the brothers, as Bro. Pos said (and we partly agreed with him) that in the ruling of the church the women should be silent according to Paul's teaching. He said that the women are so easily deceived that it is not safe to let them vote, for they are much more apt to choose according to personal liking than qualification. The question came up, How should elders or overseers be chosen? I suggested that their qualifications be made plain, as we read in Timothy and Titus, and then let each one choose according to his best judgment. Bro. Pos objected to that and thought that he as the pastor
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should have the right to choose or nominate those whom he thinks would work best in harmony with him; we could then agree with his choice or, if not, he would make another choice. The suggestion was then made that so far as we knew it was not generally understood that he was the pastor.
Well, he said, if we have no pastor and if I heretofore have only been pastor pro tem., the first thing we have to do is to choose a pastor; and if I am not
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your pastor I will not take the leading of another meeting. Why, we said, we only want to do what the Bible authorizes us to do; if it authorizes us to elect a pastor in that sense, we will do so; but we will first satisfy ourselves about the matter.
We asked him to lead the meeting meanwhile as before. This he agreed to do, but said, In the election of a pastor it's different: the sisters have then just as much to say as the brothers, because they are just as much concerned. We answered that whatever way we should find the Bible to teach we would do, but that we were not ready to act on that night. He said, I know the sisters will be satisfied with whatever you say; and what would the people (the public) say, if they thought you had a pastor, and it turns out now that you have not? We said, we did not care what the world might say. Then, when he saw that we would not act on that night, he said, "I came here by the holy spirit, organized the church, gathered the flock, and am therefore the shepherd (pastor), and I DECLARE MYSELF AS SUCH, whether you will have me or not."
We said, if we find that to be the Scriptural way, we will accept it, otherwise not; and as it was getting late, the meeting was adjourned till a week later on Monday. On Sunday following he preached a sermon on Nehemiah (putting himself entirely in his place), and showed others trying any way and every way to destroy his work but he victorious at last because the Lord is on his side.
On Monday he went away to a convention of the "Disciples," where he was till Wednesday afternoon. Monday night the meeting was held, two Elders being chosen, Bro. Knauss and myself; but the proposition was then made that as we thought there was better talent in our midst to teach and lead the meetings an assistant minister or Deacon be chosen and Bro. Pos was chosen. A committee was appointed to inform the Brother of the results of our meeting. Bro. Knauss, Bro. Doughty and myself were appointed and we went to his house and told him. He then said, "I cannot accept that. I came here an ordained Elder and evangelist, and I am your first elder, and I will call a meeting of the church and let all know of it; and they can say then if they stand by me or not. Besides, a brother of the Disciples is coming here in a week or two, and we are going to put up in this city a wooden structure seating a couple hundred people; and if you will not stand by me you can hold your meetings as before."
I then asked for the privilege of leading the meeting for that evening. I should have liked to speak on our duty in this present time of the "harvest," whether it is our principle duty to reap or to sow more seed. I had hoped that perhaps I could have made some things plain: but he said, "I must first present a few things to the people, and if they then want to listen to you they can do so." In the meeting he first brought up the subject, saying that some seem to think that he had so far only been pastor pro tem., and that he wanted to know his position, and whether this church had a pastor or not, and therefore he made it the first business of Sunday afternoon that the church declare its position.
After he got through I wanted to say a few words, but he would not let me, saying, This is not a business meeting, we are come together for edification, and started to read from the Scriptures. I said, I will wait till after the meeting is over, and any that would like to hear a few words of explanation could stay. After the meeting he said that he advised every one to go right home and pray. They should do so if only to please him, and if they considered his judgment better than anybody's else. I said, All those that are satisfied with a one sided presentation of a case have, of course, privilege to go home, the others are invited to stay. Some went and some stayed. Before that the suggestion was made, by Brother Knauss, that this matter should not be brought up on Sunday, but ought to be settled on another day, but he insisted on having it on Sunday; and as I now see it, his object was to get a big crowd there whereby the others would be scared. But it only worked to his own disadvantage. To avoid trouble as much as possible, we wrote out in few words that we were not willing to be joined to a denomination, as his plans were, and as he had caused to be published in the newspapers, using some of the names without consent. I handed him the papers with the signatures Saturday night and informed him that we did this in order to simplify matters, and that it had been agreed by the brethren that on Sunday afternoon we would better only have a Bible study and prayer meeting. He then said that as all his friends were coming there, he would present his case first and then give me ten or fifteen minutes to state our side; and then he would preach, and we could do what we liked after that.
So Sunday afternoon came, and quite a few strangers were present. He took his seat amongst the rest, and when the time had finally arrived he said, As long as nobody occupies the chair I think we better elect a chairman. I said then, that I, as the appointed Elder of the church take the liberty to occupy the chair, and I did. We sang a hymn and had prayer, then I stated the case as nearly as I could, also announcing the meetings for the week; and said that as Bro. Pos had expressed his intention to preach, we give him the opportunity to do so, or if he had any statements to make, he might make them.
He said that he could not preach under the circumstances and that it was not true that he wanted us to join another denomination, but that the question was whether we would fellowship with brethren that stand on the same foundation as we do.
Now as to Brother Draper's coming here I would say, We will be only too glad to have him here any time, but whether he can change the result is very doubtful, only it might strengthen those that are left. We were greatly helped by his former visit, and I am sure it gave us courage to stand through this fiery trial.
Yours in Christian love, C. F. BAHRET.
* * *
We congratulate the dear friends who have stood this shaking, that they so loved the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, that they were unwilling to be led back again to Babylonian bondage and darkness, by a self appointed pastor or shepherd–even tho he at first came to them as a messenger of the light of present truth!
These dear friends might have been saved some of
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this trial had they taken heed sooner to the Scriptural advice we laid before them in the WATCH TOWER of Nov. 15, '95, respecting Order in the Church: the proper course for preserving their liberties in Christ from those who would "lord it over God's heritage," who would undertake to appoint themselves pastors, superior to the choice of the church; and who would attempt to dictate their own views and to determine whom they would let and whom they would hinder from partaking of the Lord's supper, etc. Their neglect on this point left them open to confusion when their liberties were attacked. We congratulate them, however, and praise the Lord for his deliverance of them.
The friends erred in their supposition that a pastor is a deacon. Deacons were chosen in the early Church to look after the more secular interests of the Church, while the Elders were all pastors or overseers, who looked after the spiritual interests of the Church. If one were chosen as pastor-in-chief and others as his associates and assistants and advisers, we cannot see that this would have been contrary to any Bible instruction. But they were quite right in not choosing, and in supposing that God would not have them choose any one who either directly or indirectly sought to grasp the position, and to browbeat and override the Lord's Church.
Too frequently the real idea of church meetings "for edification" is lost sight of under the popular desire for preaching–through a spirit of conformity to Babylon. Ability as a public speaker should never be despised or ignored, but it should be sought and appreciated only as it is unto edification. The more preaching, the worse if it be along wrong lines.
We commend also the moderation with which the matters were held straight–only that there was too much moderation at first. They were misled on the subject of the "Lord's Supper." They should have asked, Where in the Scriptures is it suggested that morning and noon meals are "suppers" or by what manner of twisting is the word supper to be distorted out of all meaning and sense. The word in the Greek signifies "An evening meal" and not otherwise. Why did they not inquire respecting the commemoration of his death on a day (Sunday) specially set apart to commemorate our Lord's release from death? Why did they not point out that the "breaking of bread" practiced by the early Church was no more "the Lord's Supper," commemorative of his death, than was the "breaking of bread" at Emmaus? (`Luke 24:30`; `Matt. 14:19`.) They should also have asked why the "cup," the wine, emblematic of our Lord's shed blood, is not mentioned in connection with any account of the "breaking of bread" if these were memorials of the Last Supper–while it is given full importance in the
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narrative of the Last Supper in `1 Cor. 11:23-34`.
It was a mistake for the brothers to elect the Elders without the concurrence of the sisters; "all are one in Christ Jesus." The limitations respecting public speaking should not be stretched. Our views of the Scripture presentation on this subject are given fully in the WATCH TOWER of July, 1893. The election should be held over again, when all who usually meet with you and who trust in the ransom and who profess full consecration to the Lord, should be invited to express, not their choice: but their judgment respecting the Lord's choice as gauged by the declarations of Scripture.
We rejoice, too, that the brethren rejected the water baptism test as to fellowship; and that they fully declared their desire to fellowship all who love and serve our Lord irrespective of the lengths and depths of their knowledge: for those who love the Lord will seek to know more and more of him through his Word.
We may be asked here, What is the difference between the profession of the "Disciple Denomination" and our position as Bible Christians, so we will here state the differences briefly.
(1) If the "Disciples" would live up to their professions they would be with us in short order. Their professions are quite right–the Bible as the only rule and guide respecting the one Lord, one faith and one baptism, and respecting our duty to God and man,– with full freedom from ecclesiasticism.
We endorse all this and live up to it; but do the "Disciples?" Surely not! Attempt to go amongst them to present the "harvest" message of present truth, and see how much of an unwritten creed they have and how tightly it binds them. Indeed, while professing in their formal statements that they are the most liberal of the sects of Babylon they are (unwittingly) the most narrow and most exclusive. We will prove this statement in our second proposition.
(2) They make a test of water immersion; and by declaring that it is for the remission of sins they assent to the proposition that all the Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Reformed and United Presbyterians, Protestant Methodists and all others who have not been immersed in water, with a certain formula of words, are all sinners–strangers from God and aliens and foreigners as respects his grace and truth in Christ. Could any narrower creed than this one be found? If so let us know of it! Yes, we think of just one that is narrower, namely that of the Christadelphians. But then the Christadelphians consign others to destruction while the Disciples send the sinners to a hopeless eternal torment;–nor will they give an opportunity to show from the Bible the fallacy of this view. If we are incorrect we will be pleased
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to receive official notification to this effect, and will see that the truth is presented to them forthwith.
"A DOUBLE MINDED MAN IS UNSTABLE"
We first knew of Rev. de Ronden Pos in California, when he sent us the following letter which we published in our issue of Feb. 1, '92.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:–I must write to tell you how exceedingly interested I have been in MILLENNIAL DAWN VOL. III., which I spied out in a book store in Los Angeles. I enclose 50 cents, for which I would like you to send me, at once, VOLS. I. and II. of the series. I would also much like a sample or two of your paper–ZION'S WATCH TOWER–for if it is what I expect it to be, after DAWN VOL. III., I shall at once become a subscriber. VOL. III. is already circulating among my friends.
Yours in the waiting for Christ's Kingdom,
W. DE RONDEN POS,
Pastor First Baptist Church.
Next we heard from the gentleman from the neighborhood of Kentucky, still later at Washington, D.C.; afterward he wrote us from Montreal, Canada, that he was pastor of an Episcopal church there, and subsequently he was officiating as pastor of a Reformed Episcopal church in Baltimore, Md. We were glad to hear that the gentleman had finally concluded to stand free with us, in the liberty wherewith Christ makes free from sectarianism and its bondage. We hoped much from his association with the friends, yet feared that they were expecting too much from one who had for years shown so great a weakness for "Babylon and its corn-crib"–tho we gave no hint of our fears to any.
In view of this our knowledge of the gentleman's past affiliations it caused quite a smile when we read as above of his heroic determination that he would allow no unimmersed person to come to the communion table. We wonder where his courageous soul stood for the years he preached for and pastored the Episcopalian and Reformed Episcopalian sheep and sprinkled their infants, and in due form and ceremony administered "sacraments" to them. According to his present "faith" those "sheep" were not "sheep" at all, but were yet in their sins–not having been baptized for the remission of sins. He received their dollars regularly, we suppose, for Episcopalians are counted good payers; but did he fulfil his trust and tell them his belief that they were all condemned sinners? Did he point them to water as the way to eternal life? or did he deceive them and receive their money under false pretence? Of course, we could not say so! we cannot judge the hearts of such people! possibly his conscience slept all those years, or possibly he has no conscience.
At all events we are confident that the truth has met with a valuable loss. We expect the opposition of such people and prefer it to their hypocritical and blatant pomposity. We have no reason to believe that the knowledge of the deep things of God, including the parousia, is intended for such. God is choosing the worldly-foolish and weak and insignificant honest "overcomers" of the world to be his joint-heirs and is passing by the "trimmers," "men-pleasers," mammon-worshipers. "Even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight!" And beloved fellow "sheep," let us remember that those who resist the Adversary's encroachments and allurements and wiles and attacks, from any quarter, will be the stronger therefor, and be the more closely bounden together in love and sympathy and the more firmly established in the letter and spirit of the "perfect law of liberty."
* * *
A letter from another brother at the same place says:–
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:–"Praise the Lord, O my soul. While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto his name while I have any being."
To these words, dear Brother, I can also give utterance at this time with my whole heart. I am sure I cannot find words to express my thankfulness to the Lord, for his powerful hand by which he has been leading us in the weeks gone by. I am glad that the Lord stood by us to enable us to stand for the truth; and it is my prayer that it may be also true of us, that we came out of the fire purified and more refined, so that these experiences may have been among the all things which will work together for good, to those who love the Lord. I think it has brought more forcibly to us than ever before the Psalmist's words, "Put not your trust in princes nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help." Truly, we are living in a time when we must put our trust in God and his Word, if we wish to stand; we are living in a time when deceptions are coming to us which are so strong that they would almost deceive the very elect. But thank God that is not possible because we have the sure word of prophecy that shineth into the dark places and will establish our footing, if we take heed to it.
I consider it a great privilege to write these few lines to you at this time, for I know that you are in sympathy with us in these afflictions which have come upon us. Yes, and we are told in God's Word that we should share our sorrows as well as our joys, "weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those that do rejoice."
When I last wrote you I had no idea that we were standing before such a sifting time and therefore did not mention anything; everything seemed to be in harmony, altho I mentioned in my letter that Bro. de Ronden Pos had some very peculiar ideas on some things. Yet, we all thought that, as he had just come out of the nominal system, it could hardly be otherwise, and that, as he would look further into the Word, with the desire to follow the Lamb, he would lose these ideas, and be brought into the full light, and stand with us, free in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. But we have since discovered that, altho he had laid
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his hands to the plow, was sincere at the time, yet he looked back and desired to go back into bondage and draw others with him.
Hoping that you will remember us in your prayers that we may at all times prove faithful towards our Heavenly Master (it has given me great comfort to read the article in the last TOWER, "To Whom Shall We Go?"–I think it just fitted our case),
I remain as ever in Christ, Your brother
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"MORE TOLERABLE FOR SODOM IN THE DAY OF JUDGMENT"
–FEB. 27.–`MATT. 11:20-30`–
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."–`Matt. 11:28`
OUR LORD'S many miracles in Capernaum and vicinity during the period of his residence there had apparently but slight effect upon the masses of the people–those who heard him gladly, and who heartily espoused his cause, were comparatively few. But the upbraiding mentioned in this lesson was not in the form of a tirade of scolding and abuse: it was a simple statement of facts respecting their indifference to the privileges and opportunities which God had presented to them, and the sure punishment which lay before them in consequence. The punishment would not be merely for their lack of interest in the Kingdom promised, for that was a favor, and the rejection of a favor need not of itself imply vengeance against the indifferent on the part of the one whose favors were declined: but their rejection implied more than this, for altho still professing to desire the Kingdom, they were evidently unready to receive it on the only conditions on which God was pleased to offer it; and this inability indicated a condition of heart seriously out of harmony with God–a wicked, sinful condition: hence, the offer of the Kingdom and their inability to receive it on God's terms proved that they were so sinful, so alienated from God, that very evidently they would be worthy of serious punishment, not for rejecting the favor of the Kingdom, but for the sinful conditions which hindered their acceptance of it.
By way of illustrating the degree of their hardness of heart, our Lord compared them with people of other cities, which they themselves recognized as very wicked, and whose overthrow was recognized as a divine judgment because of that wickedness. The comparison was much to the disadvantage of the Jews, and was calculated to arouse their fears that, after all, the boastings of their religious classes of their holiness and piety, were probably only empty hypocrisies when judged by the Lord's standard–love for truth and righteousness. Our Lord began by comparing Chorazin and Bethsaida, cities of Israel, with Tyre and Sidon, two Gentile cities on the Mediterranean seacoast. He assured his hearers that even less teaching and miracles performed in the Gentile cities would have led their people to repentance, whereas, the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida gave no sign that they could be brought to repentance by any amount of teaching and miracles. Divine judgment would, therefore, rest most heavily upon those who had enjoyed the greater privileges, and who, because of hardness of heart, had failed to utilize them.
Then, coming to Capernaum, the city which he had made his home, and which had thus been specially favored–"exalted unto heaven" in the matter of privileges and opportunities–he declares that it shall be brought down to hades,–to death, the grave. The reason for this is stated, namely,–the mighty works should have led to repentance, would have led to repentance, had not the people been very perverse at heart. To convince them of their deplorable condition, our Lord compares them to the people of Sodom, and assures them that they are far worse than were the people of Sodom, whom they despised, and whom God judged to be unworthy to further enjoy the present life, raining down upon them destruction, fire and brimstone. Our Lord's assurance that the Sodomites, if blessed with similar opportunities to those granted to the people of Capernaum, would have repented and would not have been destroyed, naturally leads us to inquire, Why this partiality on God's part? why withhold from Sodom privileges and opportunities which would have led to its repentance, and why grant these privileges and opportunities to a people so unworthy of them as those of Capernaum proved themselves to be?
These questions are unanswerable from the standpoint of all the popular theologies of to-day–orthodox and heterodox. They are explainable only from the standpoint of the Bible and its plan of the ages rightly understood. From this quarter we see that the Sodomites were not really on trial for eternal life in their day. They merely enjoyed an experience with the evil side of existence, but making so poor a use of it as they did, they were cut off from their privileges as a type, example, or illustration of the fact that those who willingly do wickedness shall ultimately be cut off from all of God's favors and blessings. However, the Sodomites only enjoyed and lost the remnant of Adamic life, already forfeited. Like others, they were born under condemnation of death: they never enjoyed any of the blessings or opportunities which Christ's death as a great "ransom for all" has secured for all mankind– namely, a hope of a future life and an opportunity or
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trial for its attainment. The sin of Capernaum, therefore, was not only a sin against a greater light, but since it was Christ the true light himself who was making the offer to them, their rejection of him much more resembled the condition of wicked rebellion against God that would lead to the second death, than did the conduct of the Sodomites.
But the people of Chorazin, while greatly privileged above others, had not yet enjoyed all the privileges and opportunities which God designs shall be given. Their misuse of their opportunities brought against them our Lord's censure and his declaration of the destruction of their city, as a judgment against them, just as Sodom had been destroyed as a sentence against it. Nevertheless, our Lord intimates clearly and distinctly another trial still future, for the people of Capernaum as well as for the people of Sodom–a future "day of judgment" or trial.
`Verse 24`. In the future judgment, our Lord declares that the Sodomites will have a better standing and be more likely to pass satisfactorily the divine inspection, than the Capernaumites. That judgment day, as we have elsewhere seen,* will be the Millennial day or age, in which all the families of the earth will be judged (tried for eternal life) by the Christ, Head and body, the "little flock," the Kingdom class. Our Lord who will be the Head Judge at that time has already declared in these words that the trial will not be intolerable for the Capernaumites, but will be "more tolerable" for the Sodomites, in that they had evidenced already that, notwithstanding their wickedness, they were not so hard-hearted, so calloused against divine grace.
This reference to the Sodomites shows conclusively the divine purpose, as elsewhere plainly stated, namely, that all that are in the grave shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth–to be judged, to be tried, whether or not they will accept the grace of God in Christ Jesus, or reject it. This is the inevitable conclusion, because, as our Lord declares, as it is recorded in Genesis, none of the Sodomites escaped the destruction, "It rained down fire from heaven and destroyed them all;" hence, if they are to stand up in judgment with the people of Chorazin, and be found in a more tolerable condition than they, it must be as a result of an awakening of the dead, the very result which the Scriptures inform us has been assured by our Redeemer's sacrifice for all. In this connection note also `Ezek. 16:48-55,60-63`.
IT WAS HIDDEN FROM THEM
Why did not the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum believe on the Lord Jesus? Why did not his teachings and miracles convince them? The Apostle Paul answers the question, saying, "The God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not" (`2 Cor. 4:4`), and our Lord Jesus' words are in harmony with this, for, after upbraiding the people as above, he rendered thanks to God nevertheless, that his gospel was hidden from many, the wise and the prudent and the self-satisfied, and revealed unto "babes"–the honest-hearted, the unsophisticated. "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight."
To the majority of people, misunderstanding the divine plan of the ages, our Lord's prayer here recorded must seem strange indeed. They cannot see how or why he should thank God that some could not and did not receive his message. It is utterly impossible to harmonize such a statement with the common, but unscriptural, false views, that the blinded people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Tyre, Sidon and Sodom, had gone or were going straight to a place of eternal torment. Had such been the case, our Lord could never have said, I thank thee, Father, that thou hast hidden these things from them: rather he would have entreated the Father for the opening of the eyes of their blinded understandings, for the immediate binding of Satan that he should blind and deceive the people no more: and he would have been excusable for making frantic efforts in harmony with such a prayer; just as some to-day are entirely excusable for the frantic and unscriptural efforts which they make in their endeavor to have the blinded minds of to-day recognize our Master.
But all such efforts and prayers would be vain, because God has a definitely fixed plan, respecting this great work which he is accomplishing amongst men. In accordance with that plan, the present time is merely for the selection of the Kingdom class: and because the wise and prudent and self-satisfied of the present time, are not the class which the Lord wishes for his Kingdom, therefore Satan is permitted to blind them to the truth, because of their unfitness for it. But God is finding the very class which he desires to find, meek and poor in spirit, to be heirs with Christ in the Kingdom; and these, "babes" so far as human craft and policy are concerned, are kept from the Adversary's
*MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chap. 8.
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blinding influences, and on the contrary have the truth revealed to them;–"They shall all be taught of God."
Our Lord did not want to receive any except those whom the Father drew to him, "No man cometh unto me except the Father which sent me draw him, and whosoever cometh unto me [drawn by the Father] I will in no wise cast out." (`John 6:44`.) This is the sense of `verse 27`. "All [that come unto me] are given to me by my Father, and no one can recognize the Son except by the [aid of the] Father, neither recognizes
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any man the Father, except by the [aid of the] Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him."
The class that the Father and the Son unitedly are seeking during this Gospel age, are a class who feel oppressed of the Devil, oppressed by sin, and who desire the great Deliverer and his salvation. Such "babes," and from the human standpoint foolish, are invited to accept Jesus; to believe in him as their Redeemer, and to follow in his footsteps as their guide: "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." The rest and peace which the Lord gives are not entirely, nor sometimes at all, physical rest and earthly peace. This, he himself declares, saying, "My peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth." The peace which our Lord gives is a rest of heart, a trust, a confidence–based not upon things that are seen, which are temporal, transitory, unreliable, but based upon things that are not seen, the eternal things which can be grasped only with the arms of faith and seen only with the eye of faith; but here is rest and here is peace, such as the poor troubled world knows not of, and cannot understand. "Godliness with contentment is great gain."
Our Lord calls us to freedom from sin, and from Satan, the great task-master; and the Apostle urges us to "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ makes free" indeed; and yet it is a great mistake that some make, to suppose that there are no restraints or limitations upon the "new creatures in Christ Jesus:" our Redeemer has a yoke and a burden for all who become his followers. (`Verses 29,30`.) The yoke, however, is easy for those whom it fits; and with that yoke the burden is light. The yoke is a self-imposed one, very different, therefore, from the yoke of Satan, which is fastened upon his slaves, the galling yoke of sin, attached to which is a heavy penalty or burden,–sorrow, death. Those who accept Christ and whom he sets free from Satan's yoke are invited to "take" the yoke of Christ and to put it upon themselves. This means consecration, the binding of ourselves, our time, our influence, means, opportunities, all, to the Lord's service. The burden it brings might be esteemed a heavy one by some: it is esteemed very heavy by the world who know not of the counterbalancing peace and joy and blessing. Our burden means, sometimes, the loss of all earthly things which we have held most sacred and most dear; yet even such a burden is light by reason of the joy and peace of the Lord counterbalancing it. As the Apostle Paul expressed it, we may well count all our losses, all our crosses, our burdens, as light afflictions, because of the excellency of the knowledge of divine favors and blessings which we have received through Christ Jesus our Lord. Yea, we count all things that we have sacrificed for the Lord and his cause but as loss and dross that we may win Christ and joint-heirship with him in his Kingdom.
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"REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY"
–MAR. 6.–`MATT. 12:1-13`.–
"The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day"
THOSE who have little of the truth are sometimes great sticklers for formalities. This was true of the Jews at the first advent. Feast days, fast days, sabbaths and tithings were very carefully attended to by them but the weightier matters of the Law, respecting justice and love to God and man, were sadly neglected. This is our Lord's testimony. So to-day there are people who give strict attention to church attendance and to various religious formalities, who wholly overlook the real spirit and intention of the Scriptural commands. Their attention to the formalities seems to satisfy them that they are good, as good as need be, and thus hinders them from making a thorough reformation of life, and seeking to bring all its affairs into harmony with the divine law, love to God and for our fellows.
The Jews of our Lord's day laid great stress upon Sabbath keeping, which fact, according to some people of our day, should have been ample evidence of their holiness and full harmony with the entire Law,–but such was not the estimation of our Lord. They even undertook to chide our Lord and his disciples respecting neglect of the Sabbath, altho they generally admitted the blamelessness of their characters. On one of these occasions in which reproof was administered by the Pharisees, our Lord took up the subject and explained it, showing that they had wholly misapprehended the divine intention respecting the Sabbath. It was not intended to be a burden but a blessing; it was not given for God's sake, but for man's sake. He called them to witness that his disciples were doing no harm, that they were merely satisfying their hunger, lawfully. He then proves the correctness of his position, from authorities they would be willing to accept. They recognized David as a holy man approved of God, and he pointed out to them how that David under stress of hunger, had eaten bread that otherwise would have been unlawful to eat. Then he laid down the general principles, that altho labor was prohibited under the Law, it was in order to bring rest, comfort, refreshment and blessing, and not to bring hunger, inconvenience and distress upon either man or beast.
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He cited them to the fact that certain work was done on the Sabbath by the priests, and under divine direction, and that this proved that labor done sacrificially for the assistance of others, as well as for their own necessities, could be no violation of the fourth commandment. After declaring himself fully qualified to decide the Sabbath question, he tells them that, watching out for the letter of the Law, they were neglecting its spirit, and should learn that the Lord desires mercy, sympathy, pity, love, more than he desires sacrifice, and consequently that any deeds of mercy, sympathy, pity, love, done on the Sabbath day, are more pleasing in God's sight, than were those sacrifices which were performed on the Sabbath as well as on other days, in the typical temple. With this proper view before their minds, they would not have condemned his disciples, whom he, the Master of the Sabbath, did not condemn.
The blindness of the Pharisees respecting the proper interpretation of the Law of the Sabbath, is shown by the fact, that even after our Lord had given them this explanation, they evidently still supposed that while it would be right for a priest in the temple to labor in the offering of a sacrifice, it would be contrary to the same law for someone to heal the sick and relieve distress. Our Lord, however, soon discovered to them the error if not the hypocrisy of their own hearts. He well knew that in their love of gain, they would help a sheep or an ass out of a pit on the Sabbath day because it represented value, and its remaining in the pit over the Sabbath might mean its death, and hence a financial loss. Thus he showed them that they well knew how to interpret the Law correctly, liberally, when it touched their purse, but that they were so lacking in mercy, sympathy, love, that they failed to properly interpret it as respects acts of mercy, where financial loss or gain were not involved.
Our Lord, as a Jew, was bound under the Jewish Covenant so long as he lived; because he did not in any sense of the word make an end of the Law Covenant until his death–there he became "the end of the Law [Covenant] for righteousness [justification], to every one that believeth." Consequently, during his ministry it would have been unlawful, sinful, for our Lord to have violated any of the terms of the Law Covenant. We are therefore to understand from the discourse here presented to us that the Jews, while neglecting the weightier matters and the real interest of the Law Covenant, had fallen into certain habits of thought and certain customs which were perversions of the Law and wholly inconsistent with its real sentiment. Phariseeism had become formalism in many respects. It is claimed that according to their definition of Sabbath-breaking the disciples had threshed the wheat when they rubbed it in their hands. So also it was claimed, and so argued with apparent seriousness, that if any one walked upon the grass with nailed shoes, upon the Sabbath day, that would be a violation of the Law, because that would produce a kind of threshing, since one might trample out some of the seeds. With equal seriousness it was claimed that to catch a flea upon one's person would be a kind of hunting and thus a violation of the Sabbath. It is even said to have been debated whether or not a fresh egg should be eaten on the first day of the week since it implied work on the part of the hen on the seventh day; and quite probably if clocks had been invented at that time they would all have been stopped over the Sabbath. Our Lord shows by his criticism that this was merely hypocrisy and self-delusion on the part of the Pharisees, who found it easier to make a show of righteousness in such trifling things than to consider
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and seek to obey the weighty matters of the Law– justice and mercy. Our Lord showed them that God, as he had foretold, had more pleasure in mercy than in sacrifice and that if they had his spirit in respect to the matter, they would not be hypocritically condemning their fellow creatures who were really doing no wrong, nor yet justifying and priding themselves in their superstition and hypocrisy.
This was a prelude to what followed, and prepared the way. For coming into the synagogue the same day, our Lord found a poor cripple who needed help, and while the Pharisees were looking on, waiting for a chance to condemn him for violating the Sabbath according to their false assertions respecting it, he took the opportunity to administer a rebuke before performing a cure, realizing, no doubt, that the effect upon his hearers would thereby be more favorable.
He knew what to teach them–he knew their tender spots of selfishness; and that however much they might delude themselves and others in theorizing respecting observance of the Sabbath, when it would come down to a matter of loss or gain they would be well able to rid themselves of their superstition and act accordingly, hence he put the question whether or not they would deliver a sheep or an ass on the Sabbath day, if it should fall into a pit. He and they well knew what they would do, what was the custom, and hence, without waiting for an answer, but taking it for granted, he proceeds to show that the poor cripple before him was much better than the sheep or the ass, and that he had been trapped into sin and sickness by the Adversary, and that if it were right to deliver the sheep or the ass, much more would it be right on the Sabbath day to help a fellow creature in distress.
Having thus answered their difficulties in advance and reproved their wrong spirit, our Lord proceeded to heal the cripple and thus to manifest beforehand,
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the glorious power and blessings that will come more abundantly with the establishment of his Kingdom– during the Millennium.
JEWISH VS. CHRISTIAN SABBATH
Every human obligation is based upon some divine law. Looking to the Jewish Sabbath, we find that it was the seventh day of the week, and was made obligatory through a divine command–being one of the ten commandments given to Israel at Mt. Sinai, consequently it was not optional with them how they should keep it, but was obligatory upon the terms explicitly stated. To violate it, the Fourth Commandment of the Decalogue, was to violate one point of the Law; and to violate one point of the Law was to violate the entire Law; because the offer of eternal life to the Jew was based upon his absolute obedience to this Law– not his obedience to a majority of its precepts, but his obedience to all its precepts, without a solitary exception. As we have heretofore seen, however, and as our Lord and the apostle expressly declare, no Israelite did keep or could keep inviolately all the items of their Law, and consequently, according to their covenant, not one of them was ever justified to eternal life. In view of this, the particularity of the Pharisees, that even a good deed should not be performed on that day, is as amusing and as foolish as their claim that they were holy, thoroughly acceptable to God, because of their over-particularity in the outward formal and typical features of the Law, while they neglected the spirit of the whole Law–supreme love to God and love of their neighbors as themselves.
The Christian has come into relationship to God, not under the terms of the Law Covenant made with the Jew, but under the terms of the New Covenant, sealed and ratified with the precious blood of Christ; he therefore has nothing whatever to do with the terms and conditions of the Jewish Covenant which bore only upon Israel after the flesh. The fact that by the deeds of the Law Covenant, no flesh was justified in God's sight (`Rom. 3:20`) leads us to rejoice that we have a "better" covenant with God through Christ,–sealed by a greater sin-offering and accompanied by "better promises." Ours, the New Covenant, is very much higher than the Law Covenant, just as its Mediator, Christ, is much higher than was the mediator of the Law Covenant, Moses; as also spiritual Israel is much higher every way than was fleshly Israel. The basis of our covenant is not the Ten Commandments, written in stone, delivered at Sinai, but a much higher statement of that divine law–the spirit of that law, the meaning, the intent, the grand completeness of the divine law, of which the Ten Commandments was but an incomplete statement brought down to the measurable comprehension of that people. Our New commandment, our new law, as expressed by our Master, Jesus, is not composed of a number of threats, Thou shalt not! Thou shalt not! but is composed of one commandment, Thou shalt love–the Lord thy God and thy fellow creatures.
Love is the fulfilling, not only of the Jewish code, but a fulfilling also of the entire Law of God, as it relates to himself and to all his creatures. In this new commandment, the basis of the New Covenant, there is no reference whatever to a Sabbath day. Nevertheless, as the Ten Commandments to Israel and their Covenant and their mediator, foreshadowed this higher law of Love and our New Covenant and our Great Mediator, so we find that the Sabbath feature of the Jewish Law has an antitype on a higher plane in the Christian's experience,–a better Sabbath. In the type it was a physical rest to the natural, typical Israelite; in the antitype it is a mental rest, a heart rest to the antitypical Israelite. As the Jewish Sabbath day typified the rest of heart, the joy and peace which Christians may possess through faith in Christ–in realizing their sins forgiven, their iniquities pardoned and themselves reconciled to God through the death of his Son–so also the Law of the New Covenant, Love, commands all who are in Christ Jesus to rest in full faith in the great work finished for us, by our Mediator, at Calvary. As the Apostle declares, "Being justified by faith we have peace [rest] with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Thus we enjoy the rest or Sabbath of our New Covenant. Thus the new Mediator has provided for the spiritual Israel a very much better rest than that which was provided by the typical mediator for the typical Israel. As seven is a type of perfection, of completeness, so the seventh day rest was a type of the complete or perfect rest which we have in Christ, which Israel after the flesh never did and never could enjoy.
The Sabbath or rest under the New Covenant is not merely for a day–alas, how weary we would be if we could only rest in the sufficiency of Christ, one day in seven! But we may rest continually in Christ, "every day and every hour"–trusting not to our own sufficiency, but to his. Thus we rest from works of self-justification, from all efforts to justify ourselves before God. Accepting the justification freely offered to us through the precious blood, and resting in it continually, we give our little all of loving service on the Lord's side, and in opposition to sin; not to secure rest and justification, but as thank-offerings that we have already received this blessing through divine grace. Thus, as the Apostle declares, "We rest from our works as God did from his." God gave over the matter of the world's redemption into the hands of Christ,
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and we read that "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." Likewise we have committed all our affairs into his hands, and are resting in him–keeping a continual Sabbath all the days of the week and all the weeks of the year.
As respects physical rest, however, we are under no commands respecting this so far as the Lord and his Word are concerned, except that our Law of Love requires that we shall glorify God in our bodies and our spirits which are his, and hence that we shall observe such rules and regulations in our physical systems in relation to our food and clothing and rest as would best qualify us and enable us to perform the divine service. While we would be glad that all people might recognize this matter from this standpoint of the New Covenant, yet we know that none can view it and observe it from this standpoint, except those who have entered into the New Covenant relationship with God, and these we know are comparatively few of the world's population–altho our hope is that in God's due time, the Millennial age, all mankind shall be brought to the knowledge and appreciation of this New Covenant, and may then, if they will, enjoy all of its provisions including this rest of faith, the antitypical Sabbath–which can be enjoyed only by God's faithful people.
Meantime, however, the world of mankind, amongst whom we live, have through various misconceptions, both of the Law Covenant and the New Covenant, set apart one day of the week as a Sabbath or rest day, and as Christians who enjoy the real Sabbath of rest and peace in Christ, we are glad to avail ourselves of the regulations of the world to abstain from worldly labor and to devote ourselves to spiritual works, spiritual feasting and spiritual upbuilding of character in righteousness on that day. But while recognizing and observing it carefully, because it is the law of the land, and while pleased to have this special opportunity for Christian fellowship and spiritual cooperation, we deny in toto that it is of divine obligation. And while we should observe whatever day might be appointed by the "powers that be," we are especially glad that they have by common consent adopted the day, which we prefer to all others because it commemorates the resurrection of our Lord and Master, and hence the beginning of our rest of faith in him.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:–I have just returned from the trip to San Jose, and I assure you there has been no time lost. I have been greatly blessed in meeting those in the truth all round. I am blessed and more satisfied with and in the work all the time, and tho the opponents get bolder and more numerous, it only forwards me on stronger in the work, while I look at the things that are not seen–except to the eye of faith–which are eternal.
If I have kept the right account in the last 33 months, I have worked in 72 towns, traveled with the horse and rig 8,000 miles, made 18,000 calls, given away 40,000 tracts, sold 4,500 DAWNS, taken 125 TOWER subscriptions, met 400 interested ones, and baptized 24. I know forty who have come into the truth and are now helping to spread it. Those who have come out are all the way from preachers to infidels. This is encouraging, tho I should have done better, and trust I will from this on.
In Christian love, I am your colaborer in the harvest work of our King. O. A. FLOREY.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:–I write to tell you of the most blessed time we had during Brother Draper's visit to us. His talks and his fine Christian character impressed us very much, and we want to express our gratitude for the helpful occasion. He has a remarkable talent for presenting the truth; so easy do the words flow and so forceful, that they impress the candid hearer. He spoke Saturday evening at Troy and Sunday morning at my home to sixteen of us on the "Narrow Way," and in the evening on the upper features of the chart to about twenty-five, mostly interested ones. The talks did me much good, as I learned how to arrange the talks, and will make use of his plan when I have occasion to speak in public. A number of us expect to go to Albany to hear him again on Wednesday evening at Bro. Fletcher's home.
I would say that our little church here is progressing on the way, daily striving to put down the old man and endeavoring to build up the new man.
There is a fair in progress in the Catholic church here, and a few days ago the priest gave it out that every merchant had given a present to the fair, except one (myself), and forbade his people trading with me. Of course I know that the dear Lord has not promised us temporal prosperity, so if this affects me, why, the Lord knows what is best for development of character. I count it all glory to suffer even a little for the truth's sake.
I want to express myself in regard to the work that Bro. Draper is doing. I think it is one of the best opportunities to help on the cause, and I almost envy the dear Brother the great blessing he must get in going around and meeting and helping the friends. What a joy his must be.
Your brother in the most blessed truth,
MORGAN T. LEWIS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:–MILLENNIAL DAWN has been widely read in our village of 2,200 inhabitants and five "orthodox" churches and is bearing some fruit, greatly to the worry of the "Scribes and Pharisees." About twenty who have been indoctrinated into present truth from four of the churches have meetings every Sabbath morning and Tuesday evening, and the spirit of the dear Lord is with us in a marked degree. We were once very influential in our different churches, but are now characterized as a "gang," and by kindred epithets. But there is an increased reading of the DAWNS and Tracts, and much searching of the Scriptures on our account, and therein we do and will rejoice.
The WATCH TOWER increases in interest and usefulness, and I long for it more than for anything else in periodical literature I receive.
Fraternally, P. H. HULST, M.D.