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VOL. XXIII. JULY 1, 1902. No. 13.
Views from the Watch Tower……………………195
Not Merely a Rewording, but a
„Calamities—Why God Permits
„Love—Making a Difference”…………………197
„Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”……………200
God First—In the Decalogue…………………202
Interesting Questions Answered………………206
In My Flesh Shall I See God………………206
Various Readings of Old MSS………………206
Changed from Glory to Glory………………206
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
NOT MERELY A REWORDING, BUT A NEW CREED
AS MANY PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS
will, undoubtedly, claim that their new creed is precisely the old one except that it is worded in more modern language,—that they never did believe in „non-elect infants” and never professed to so believe, etc., etc., it is well that we now record the utterances of some of these brethren who having so long felt uneasy about professing untruths and vowing to teach them to others, are now overjoyed by the relief of the new confession. We give extracts below from Rev. Donehoo’s first sermon after the adoption of the new creed (evidently the gentleman’s own report) from the „Pittsburg Post,” May 26.
REJOICES OVER THE CREED REVISION
The pastor of the West End Presbyterian Church yesterday morning delivered a sermon on the following text: II Thess. 1:8. „We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.’
„The time was when it was regarded as the very essence of orthodoxy to believe that religious discovery had reached its utmost limit with the deliverances of the Westminster divines, and that further investigation into the realms of truth exposed the audacious investigator to the charge of disloyalty to the standards, and made a man unworthy of the confidence or even fellowship of his more orthodox brethren. This is not ancient history, but sober facts occurring within a score of years and closing on last Thursday with the practically unanimous adoption of the committee report on creed revision in our General Assembly in New York city. The highest court of our church, composed of men who argued and voted against such a thing, gulped down revision with a relish which seemed to indicate that it was not such an unpleasant dose, after all.
„It is in no spirit of triumph over a prostrate foe that I allude to these things, but simply because I cannot repress my joy that the mists have cleared away, and that a brighter day has dawned upon the church. It is to me an especial cause for rejoicing that I can stand up in the pulpit and offer salvation without any mental reservation, and without any stipulation that the one to whom the offer is extended must first of all be one of that select number who had been chosen from all eternity to be the object of God’s sovereign compassion simply for ‚His mere good pleasure.’ …
„I am glad besides that the ambiguous declaration about ‚elect infants dying in infancy’ being saved—(as though it was possible for any other than infants to die in infancy)—while a very painful silence is allowed to hang around the fate of other babes that breathe and gasp, and die ere they had made acquaintance with joy or sorrow, sin or goodness—is now to be explained as teaching, what a formidable party in the Westminster Assembly opposed with such persistence that they forced the Assembly to place this ambiguous statement in the Confession (that they believed in the damnation of unelect infants) that God’s election embraces all that die in infancy in His purposes of grace. I am glad of that. …
„Henceforth may we not hope that men will preach God, not as He would be if they could have had their way about it, and not acting as they would have done if they had been in His place, but, as He has revealed Himself in His Word and providence, a God of infinite mercy and love, who is not willing that any should perish, but who would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth?”
Rev. L. P. Crawford, of Pasadena, Cal., says in the California press:—
„When I was ordained there were three things that I would not subscribe to. To these three points I said ‚No.’ The first was this, in Chapter III:
„‚By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death!’
„I said: ‚I can’t go it—I’ll have to be made over.’
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„Dr. Adams asked me: ‚Is there anything else, young man?’
„‚Yes, sir, there is,’ I said. ‚If where it speaks of elect infants, it is to be implied that there are infants that are not elect, then I don’t believe it.’
„‚Anything else, young brother?’ asked Dr. Adams, and I remember it as well as if it was yesterday.
„‚Yes,’ I said. ‚If it is meant that I am to be held responsible for Adam’s sins, in the sense that I can be punishable for them, then I don’t believe it.’
„‚Well, my dear brother,’ said Dr. Adams, ‚There are a good many of us in the same fix;’ and they licensed me.
„Now, these three points that I refused to subscribe to are the principal ones taken up in the revision.”
We are glad that the General Assembly has given these brave men their liberty at last; tho we confess we would have admired them still more if they had been courageous enough to have promptly and vigorously obeyed the voices of their consciences;—if they had refused to lend one mite of
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their time or influence to God-dishonoring and conscience-searing confessions for the sake of human endorsement. We cannot suppose either that God was pleased to have Drs. Adams and Crawford privately and secretly confess their disbelief to each other while practicing deceit toward the other hundreds of thousands of Presbyterians;—many of whom, unlearned „laity,” trusted their public profession too confidingly, and looked not beyond them to the Lamp of God’s Word.
But if the boldest are not to be too much praised what shall we say of those who have seemed to have no consciences, or whose reasoning faculties are so dull that even in the light of this twentieth century they are such „blind guides” that the old Confession is still good enough for them? We say that only very young or bewildered or stupid sheep will any longer accept the ipse dixit of such Shepherds. We advise that their every expression be scrutinized in the light of God’s Word, as more likely to be false than true. We bring no railing accusation against any of them, but merely state facts and their own confessions. As we understand the Word, the Lord will rebuke them shortly, in the approaching great time of trouble. But, alas for the poor blind sheep who are following them into that ditch!
„CALAMITIES—WHY GOD PERMITS THEM”
The Chicago Tribune has kept record of the calamities of the year and makes the following report:—
„Nature has not been so busy with her forces of devastation for many years past as she has been during the first five months of the present year. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes have destroyed 48,450 lives, storms 704, tornadoes 416, cyclones 220, floods 333, avalanches 228, tidal waves 103, snow-slides 39 and waterspouts 12, a total of 50,505 lives destroyed by nature’s elemental disturbances. If to this were added the lives lost by agencies over which man has more or less control, such as fires, mine disasters, explosions, railroad accidents, and vessel wrecks, it would be increased to over 60,000, and this takes no account of individual lives lost in this country, which would bring the grand total up to about 100,000 lives lost in the short period of five months.”
The Boston Watchman (Baptist) says of the divine permission of calamities:
„This problem baffles the author of the Book of Job, and all the discoveries of science and the light of the Christian revelation do not resolve the thick darkness that settles about it. When trouble comes for which we can see no moral antecedent and no good result, the irrepressible cry bursts from every human heart, ‚Why?’ And there is no answer but the answer of Job: ‚Tho he slay me, yet will I trust in him.’
„From our point of view the events of life are often wholly irreconcilable with our faith in the divine goodness. And yet we do not lose our faith. We believe that God is working out for us and for the race purposes of goodness that we cannot understand. That, it seems to us, is the Christian attitude toward this problem. Christianity does not resolve it, while it makes many other solutions of it untenable. But Christianity, in its revelation of the Father, inspires a confidence in Him that is not shaken by our inability to understand His way.”
The Truth Seeker says:—
„It was the Lisbon earthquake which shook Voltaire’s faith in a God who governs, who pervades all places and ages, and who has established a direct relation between himself and mankind. He was compelled to ask, What was my God doing? Why did the Universal Father crush to shapelessness thousands of his poor children, even at the moment when they were upon their knees returning thanks to him?”
In view of the fact that the world is now in transition—from „the present evil world” to the „new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness,”—from the reign of sin and death under „the Prince of darkness” to the Millennial reign of the great Life Giver—it will not surprise us at all if the next twelve years shall prove to be full of horrors. The conditions now prevailing in the earth are not such as will be appropriate during the Millennium, and the changes will mean great disturbances of celestial and terrestrial affairs pertaining to our earth. These will naturally occasion great suffering and loss of life unless divine power be miraculously interposed for humanity’s protection; and we see no reason to expect such interposition. On the contrary, we understand the Scriptures to teach that the divine plan is so timed that these physical disturbances will constitute a part of the great chastisement which the Lord designs shall break the proud hearts of men preparatory to his offer to all of the Balm of Gilead—restitution.—Acts 3:19-21.
One effect of these calamities will surely be the overthrow of the faith of many,—of all who are merely nominal believers, whose faith led them to no love for the Lord and to no study of his Word and to no self-consecration to good works. Of these, as the Prophet has declared:—
„A thousand shall fall at thy side Ten thousand at thy right hand.”—Psa. 91:7.
Of this time and its peculiar work not only in the convulsions of nature, but also in its social, financial and religious convulsions, the Lord’s Word declares: „Forasmuch as this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do
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honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among this people; … for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” „None of the wicked shall understand; but the wise [the taught of God] shall understand.”—Isa. 29:13,14; Dan. 12:4,9,10.
We are now in the little season appointed of the Lord for the sealing of his servants in their foreheads—intellectually. It behooves us therefore to give heed to the sealing of our own heads and hearts by availing ourselves of the assistances which the Lord now provides. Failure to do this and the giving of heart and time to the world or pleasure and self means disrespect to the great Teacher, and love of the present world rather than of that which is to come; and the reward of such a course is—to be left in darkness with the world. (I Cor. 4:2; Matt. 25:30.) Another duty of the hour, that will be appreciated only by the faithful, is the gathering together unto the Lord (out of sectarianism and darkness) of the Lord’s jewels, the elect whose eyes of understanding have not yet been opened to present truth. These calamities, which will overthrow the faith of some, will stir up the truly consecrated to a closer investigation of the divine Word and plan, and thus prove helps not hindrances, even as all things work together for good to them that love God.
Now is the time to be on the alert to render assistance to this class of our „brethren” still asleep and in darkness but now awakening and needing sympathizing hearts and helping hands. Our late issue of the tract „Calamities—Why God Permits Them,” may prove a help, an entering wedge to something more elaborate—to some volume of Millennial Dawn. Order these to use as sample copies, freely.
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„LOVE—MAKING A DIFFERENCE”
„Keep yourselves in the love of God … and of some have compassion, making a difference; and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.”—Jude 21-23.
WITH OUR MINDS all unbalanced through the fall, resulting from original sin,—tho not all fallen exactly in the same direction,—it is not surprising that we frequently find ourselves and other brethren in Christ in more or less confusion respecting the application of certain principles laid down in the Word of God. For instance, we are instructed that love is the fulfilling of the divine law; and that love of the brethren is one of the evidences of our having passed from death unto life; and that if we love not our brother, whom we have seen, it is a sure evidence that we do not truly love our Heavenly Father, whom we have not seen. (Rom. 13:10; I John 3:14; 4:20.) In their endeavor to measure up to these requirements of the divine standard, some are in danger of erring in an opposite direction—in danger of manifesting a brotherly love where it should be withheld, and that in the interest of the brother. Let us note the different kinds, or degrees of love which the Heavenly Father exercises and manifests.
First, we have the love for the world. „God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” to die for us. (John 3:16.) Second, in a much higher and special sense, „The Father himself loveth you”—you who have accepted Jesus Christ as your Redeemer, and who, in his name and strength and merit have consecrated yourselves to him—you are seeking now to walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. (John 16:27.) But that this special love of God can be lost in part, or eventually wholly, is clearly set forth by the Apostle’s statement, „Keep yourselves in the love of God”. (Jude 21.) If any, after having tasted of the good Word of God, the powers of the world to come, and being made partakers of the holy spirit, etc., shall
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walk after the flesh and not after the spirit, we may be sure that such will proportionately lose the love of God;—and, if he persist in this course, as a result will ultimately be „none of his.” For, instead of loving such, who through their knowledge and attainments and disobedient course have become wicked, the Lord declares that he is „angry with the wicked,” and that „all the wicked will he destroy.”—Psa. 7:11; 145:20; Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-29.
As sons of the Highest, who are seeking to be like unto our Father in heaven, and like unto the copy which he has set before us in his dear Son, our Lord, we are to have for the world in general that broad sympathetic pity and mercy-love which would delight in doing any and everything possible to be done for their uplifting, in accord with the divine program, in the divine time and order. Like our Father and our Elder Brother, we are to love the brethren „with a pure heart, fervently„—with sincerity. This love for the brethren is nothing like the love for the world. It is not the pity-love, nor mere generosity. It is far more; it is brotherly love. All of the children of God are brethren, as new creatures; all these brethren have hopes, ambitions, interests and promises linked together in the Lord Jesus and in the heavenly Kingdom in which they hope to share. All these brethren are joint-heirs, fellow-heirs one with the other and with the Lord. They are partners; their interests are mutual and co-ordinating.
Additionally, they have a special mutual sympathy of compassion; for while, as new creatures, they are rich in divine favor and promises, they all have serious weaknesses, according to the flesh—draw-backs; altho the Lord is not reckoning with them according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, the intention, the heart desires, nevertheless, they each and all have besetments arising from these weaknesses and imperfections of the earthly tabernacle, which cause them to „groan,” and to sympathize one with the other in their groanings. As the Apostle says, „We which have the first-fruits of the spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the deliverance of our body„—the complete Church. Thus the sons of God have a further mutual sympathy and
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love and care for each other, an interest in each other, helpfulness toward each other, which is entirely beyond and above and outside of any feelings which could possibly be appreciated by the world or exercised toward it;—because the world has no such conflict between the old nature and the new; no such covenant of sacrifice; no such acceptance in the Beloved; no such union of heart and purpose and aim and spirit. Oh, yes! the exhortation to love as brethren, fervently, is one which appeals to us specially.
But now we come to another point. Our love for the brethren cannot be exactly of the same measure and exactly of the same intensity or fervency toward all. There is something which guages or regulates it. What is it? It is that we love God and the glorious principles of righteousness, which are represented in his character; and we love our Lord Jesus from the same standpoint, as being the very exemplifications of all that is good, noble, true, just, generous, loving; and our love for the brethren must, of necessity, be in proportion as we find the brethren to be copies of our Lord. We do not mean copies in the flesh, but viewed from the Lord’s standpoint; copies in spirit, copies in heart, copies in motive, copies in intention, copies in loving zeal for righteousness, truth, etc. Thus, as we grow in the love of God and in the love of Christ and in the love of the principles which they represent, we grow also in love toward all men and toward the brethren, but particularly toward those who are growing most in likeness to the Lord. This is not partiality; this is not doing to others different from what we should wish them to do to us. This is following the Lord Jesus’ example; for we find that amongst his apostles, even, all of whom were chosen, there were three specially beloved; and of those three one is specially noted as „that disciple whom Jesus loved.” He was specially loved, because he was specially lovable; and so with us and the brethren. We should love them all warmly, fervently, but of necessity with varying degrees of fervor, and the fervor should increase with each in proportion as we note his growth in heart-likeness to our Lord.
And if this be so, what shall we say of those who, after having come to a knowledge of the truth, and after having tasted and appreciated its goodness, fall away into sin?—of those who cease to walk after the spirit, and begin to walk after the flesh? Can our love for them burn with the same fervency as before? By no means; it should not do so. As the Apostle says in our text, we should make a difference. In doing so we are following the example of our Heavenly Father; for we have just noted that only by walking after the spirit can any of us keep ourselves in the love of God. Only by following the same course, therefore, should any be able to keep himself in the love of the brethren. Any deflection should bring corresponding loss of brotherly love and fellowship.
This making of a difference is really essential to the purity and progress of the Church. If we make no difference between those brethren who walk after the spirit and those who walk disorderly, or after the flesh, we are taking away the very premium and blessing which the Lord intended should go to those who walk after the spirit; and we are giving a premium, which the Lord did not intend should be given, to those who walk contrary to his Word, after the flesh. It is as much our duty to withdraw fellowship from those who are unworthy of it as it is our duty to grant fellowship, and that with fervency, to those whom we see to be walking in the footsteps of Jesus. We are not to think that it is love that is prompting us to take the wrong course of encouraging wrong-doers,—it is not love, but ignorance; and the remedy for ignorance is to learn of the Lord, from his Word and from his example.
The Apostle Paul calls our attention to our duty respecting the brethren, and how we should conduct ourselves toward them under varying circumstances, saying that faithful brethren should be esteemed very highly in love for their works’ sake; that other brethren who are unruly should be warned; that those who are feeble in their mental comprehension of the truth should be strengthened; that those who are weak should be helped, supported; and that we should exercise patience toward all.—I Thess. 5:12-14.
We are at present specially referring to the proper attitude to be observed toward unruly brethren—they are not to be treated as those who are esteemed very highly in love for their works; otherwise they would be encouraged in being unruly. On the contrary they are to be warned, cautioned,—in love, truly, and with patience, but not with marks of the same love and esteem as tho they were walking orderly in the footsteps of Jesus and in harmony with the directions of his Word. The marks and evidences of our love and esteem must be sincere; and must be in proportion as we see in the brethren evidences of the right desires of heart,—to walk after the spirit of the truth. The Apostle Paul intimates how our disapproval ought to be shown, in cases which seem, in our judgment, to be of sufficient importance to demand a manifestation of disapproval.
Evidently the Apostle did not mean that the brethren should be watching each other for an occasion of fault-finding in every word and every act; but that, on the contrary, they should be so full of love one for the other that trivial matters would be entirely passed over, as merely of the weakness of the flesh, and not at all of intention, of the heart. The matters to be considered worthy of manifestations of disapproval and warning are, rather, those which are so open and manifest on the surface as to leave no room to question the fact that they are displeasing to the Lord, and injurious in their influence upon the brother or upon the household of faith. For instance, if the brother had been seen under the influence of liquor; if he had been heard to utter vile or otherwise improper language; if it were a matter of general knowledge that he was living in sin; these would be such grounds as we believe the Apostle had in mind. But evidently the Apostle had no intention of cultivating a spirit of fault-finding and judging one another as respects the heart and private affairs,—use of time or money, etc. These belong to our individual stewardship
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and none should endeavor to interfere with the proper liberties of conscience and conduct which the Lord has granted to each. The Apostle is very stringent in his condemnation of such judging of one another, which so often leads to roots of bitterness, misunderstanding, disfellowship, etc., and which, as the old leaven, should be purged out of our hearts and lives.—Rom. 14:10,13.
But now, for those who „obey not our word,” the apostolic Scriptural directions in respect to their conduct, etc., is „note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” Nevertheless, knowing the tendency of the fallen mind to go from one extreme to another, either of too great leniency or of too great severity, the apostle continues, „Yet count him not an enemy, but admonish as a brother.” (2 Thess. 3:13-15.) To admonish as a brother does not mean to denounce roundly and severely; it means to admonish in a spirit of love, gentleness, meekness, patience, and with a sincere desire to help the brother to see the fault which we are certain exists, and which we are sure is not evil surmising on our part.
The Apostle John shows us that this matter of distinguishing as between brethren that are to be esteemed and brethren that are to be warned, appertains not merely to conduct but also to doctrinal matters. Yet we may be sure that he does not mean that we are to disfellowship a brother merely because of some differences of view on non-essential questions. We may be sure that he does mean his words to apply strictly and only to the fundamentals of the doctrine of Christ: for instance, faith in God;
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faith in Jesus as our Redeemer; faith in the promises of the divine Word. These will be marks of a „brother,” if supported by Christian conduct, walking after the spirit of the truth;—even tho the brother might have other views which would differ from ours in respect to certain features of the plan of God not so clearly and specifically set forth in the Scriptures. But for those whom we recognize as being doctrinally astray from the foundation principles of Christ, the Apostle intimates that very drastic measures are appropriate;—not persecutions, nor railing; not bitter and acrimonious disputes; not hatred, either open or secret; but a proper showing of our disfellowship with the false doctrines held and taught by them; a proper protection, so that our influence shall not be in any manner or degree used to uphold his denial of the fundamentals of the Gospel. This drastic course is outlined by the Apostle in these words: „If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine [confessing Christ to have come into the world, in the flesh, to redeem our race, etc.] receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed; for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”—2 John 10,11.
But, as our text intimates, we are to use discretion, judgment,—”and of some have compassion, making a difference.” Some we may recognize as being merely entrapped of the Adversary, either in sin or in false doctrine, as the case may be, and not wilfully, intelligently, of their own volition. Toward such, still maintaining an attitude of firmness, we are nevertheless to express freely our trust that they are only temporarily wrong; and to seek to restore them, either doctrinally or in respect to their perverse moral course, to the position of fellowship with the Lord and with all the brethren who are in fellowship with him. Others we are to „save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” We may be obliged to speak very plainly to them; we may be obliged to tear open and expose before their eyes the sores of their own immoral course, showing them, as the case may be, the grossness of the sin or the grossness of the error in which they are involved; and doing so perhaps in strong language, if we realize that nothing short of this has availed to arouse them from their lethargy. In pulling them out of sin we are „pulling them out of the fire”—out of the Second Death—as the Apostle James says, speaking of this same class: „Let him know that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death”—a brother who is a sinner, a brother, he explains, who has „erred from the truth.”—James 5:19,20.
Finally, we remark that the dealing of the brethren with the disorderly is not to be in the nature of a punishment; for it is not with us to punish. „Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Our warnings or reproofs or withdrawals of fellowship, are to be merely in the nature of correctives, with a view, as the Apostle says, to the restoring of such an one. „Ye that are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted”;—if not in the same manner, possibly in some other manner, in which you are weaker.—Gal. 6:1.
As to what would be a sufficiency of evidence of repentance and reformation, each will require great wisdom and grace to determine. The heart in which brotherly love dwells richly, the heart which loves righteousness and hates iniquity, the heart which realizes its own imperfections, and that it is acceptable only through the Beloved and the New Covenant—that heart will rejoice at the first evidences of contrition and repentance on the part of the disorderly brother. If very full of love, his heart may go out to him almost too quickly; he may need to restrain himself; especially if it be a second or a third offense of the kind, or the circumstances otherwise very grievous. It will be apparently his duty to look for works in harmony with the repentance, and to wait to see some demonstration, in the nature of restitution for wrong done, or such an open and radical change of conduct as will give evidence that the heart has returned to its loyalty to God, to the truth, and to righteousness.
The erring brother, truly repentant, will not be averse to giving such evidences, nor consider it unreasonable that his professed reformation shall be thus attested. Indeed, we may expect that such will feel so humbled in respect to his attitude, and the disgrace which he may have brought upon the cause, that he will feel disposed of himself, either to remain absent for a while from the company of the brethren, in penitence, or, if acceptable to their company, he will feel disposed to take a back seat—
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a very humble position amongst the brethren. And if the repentant offender had occupied the position of a leader in the company, humility on his part, no less than discretion on the part of the brethren, would seem to indicate that he should not be restored to any official or leading position in the congregation for a considerable time,—until ample evidence had been given of the sincerity of his reformation.
But we close as we began, by urging that facts, evil deeds or evil doctrines, and not evil surmisings, knowledge, and not rumors, are the bases of Scriptural disfellowship. Hence the necessity for the observance of the Lord’s rule. (Matt. 18:15.) While we are not to close our eyes to wrong in a brother, love will refuse to keep picking to find fault where none is openly apparent. And if fault is apparently discovered it is not to be „discussed among the brethren,” but as the Lord directs should be taken direct to the offender by the discoverer and not so much as mentioned to others unless offender refuse to hear;—refuses to correct the fault. Oh, how much trouble would be saved, how many mistakes and heart-aches avoided if this rule were strictly followed!
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„GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD”
—EXOD. 16:4-15.—JULY 6, 1902.—
FOLLOWING the International S.S. course which seems to lead us in a very diversified and profitable course of general Bible study, we return now to studies in the Old Testament;—taking up the thread where we left it, in the passing of Israel through the Red Sea into the wilderness. The new quarter’s lessons consider God’s dealings with Israel, and the instructions given them in the wilderness. These were evidently intended to prepare a nation for self-government, which for nearly two hundred years had been in bondage, almost slavery. The first of this series of wilderness lessons may be designated a lesson of trust; and as we note Israel’s experiences and the Lord’s guidance of their affairs, doubtless we will all find lessons that will be helpful to us who, as spiritual Israelites, are being led by the antitypical Moses out of Egypt, the world, through a wilderness of instruction and trial and testing, toward the heavenly Canaan.
Three routes led from Egypt toward Canaan, and the Lord chose for his people the most roundabout way of the three: he had in view from the first, their need of training. Their long bondage had made them servile and weak, lacking in self-reliance in the new way and fearful that their leader, in whom they trusted remarkably, might yet prove incompetent for their deliverance. What a resemblance to all this we find in the spiritual Israelites! when first leaving the world and its rudiments—although trusting in Christ, our fully accepted Leader, how apt we are to feel fearful of our ability, even under his guidance, to gain the promised glorious deliverance from sin and its slavery!
The first disappointment in the journey was when the supply of water which they were carrying became exhausted and they had reached the waters of Marah (bitter) and found them brackish and unfit to drink; their disappointment was intense and they murmured against Moses. He in turn cried unto the Lord for help, and in response was shown a tree which being cast into the waters purified them. This was the first lesson of trust, and the Lord impressed it upon them as such. (Ex. 15:25,26.) This experience was followed by a joyful one when their journey brought them to Elim, to its many water-springs and its palm groves, where they rested. Similarly the spiritual Israelite is not long out of Egypt before he is permitted to have trying experiences; and seeking refreshment he perhaps finds bitter disappointments, corresponding to the waters of Marah. The first impulse of the beginner in this way will probably be in the nature of murmuring which, whether so intended or not, is a reflection upon the wisdom and guidance of our Leader. The lesson to be learned is perfect trust: to look to the Lord to turn our bitter disappointments into profitable lessons. As Moses purified the waters of Marah, so our still mightier Leader can make out bitter experiences sweet if we will but trust him. Then to us also comes a season of rest and refreshment, an Elim condition. The Lord does not permit us to have bitterness and trials continually, lest we should become thoroughly discouraged. He leads us sometimes by still waters, restoring our soul, refreshing and resting us in his grace, and these experiences rightly received and producing in us thankfulness and appreciation, tend to make us stronger for the further journey and lessons in the wilderness school of the present life.
But evidently the lessons at Marah and Elim were not sufficient for Israel; they had not yet learned to trust the Lord, nor, that murmuring was an improper course; and so we find them murmuring again that Moses had led them out into the wilderness, away from the flesh-pots and leeks and onions of Egypt, to perish of hunger in the wilderness. How much more appropriate it would have
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been had they said to themselves, The Lord through Moses is our leader, and we will trust in him. Let us pray unto the Lord our God that he will supply all our needs according to the abundance of his wisdom and grace and power. However, they were not sufficiently advanced to take such a reasonable position, and were, therefore, infantile of disposition, so merely gave a wail of despair and disappointment. But the Lord was gracious and patient, and although he upbraided and instructed them respecting improprieties of their course, he, nevertheless, answered their wail as he would have answered their more appropriate petition for „things needful.”
QUAILS AND MANNA
It was necessary that the Israelites should learn the lesson of their complete dependence upon the Lord—the lesson of trust—hence the Lord did not
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prepare for them the bounties of manna and quails until they felt their need. Had these been given without their need being first felt, no doubt the Lord’s bounty would have been considered as merely a part of his responsible duty; whereas, having learned of their need, they were the better prepared to appreciate the provision, and also to realize its miraculous source. So it is with the spiritual Israelites in respect to spiritual necessities, encouragements, food, sustenance: they are permitted to feel their needs, and to ask that they may receive spiritual nutriment freely.
That the lesson might be the more impressed, the Lord first explained to Moses what he was about to do, and that there was a lesson to the people in connection with it; subsequently Moses and Aaron laid the promise before the people—that the Lord would give them flesh to eat that very evening; and that beginning with the next morning God would provide them with bread from heaven. They properly took no credit for this to themselves, but on the contrary, appealed to the people that they did wrong in murmuring against them as their leaders, and assuring them that they were really murmuring against the Lord their real leader. Had Moses and his assistant Aaron, and not the Lord, been their leaders, they would have taken great risks indeed in coming out, even from bondage, into the wilderness; because however well-intentioned Moses might have been, he was incompetent to supply the necessities for so vast a multitude. Evidently the people believed when they left Egypt that the Lord was leading and that Moses was merely his representative, and the fact that they now murmured against Moses and not against the Lord implied a lack of faith and a lack of trust, a disposition to fear that Moses was leading them on his own responsibility. Moses, on the other hand, meekly ignores his own relationship to the work, and loyally points them to the Lord as being the one who had led them thus far, and who was thoroughly competent to supply all their needs and to perform toward them all of his good promises. Spiritual Israelites are similarly to keep in mind the fact that they are not following human leaders; that the real Director of the course of spiritual Israel, the real Leader, is the Lord; and that men, at the very most, are his honored representatives. In cases of disappointment of expectations we are to remember that God was and is our real Leader, and are not to doubt, not to murmur, but to learn the lesson of trust, of confidence, and to cry unto the Lord for further deliverances.
Human nature is vividly illustrated in the cry of the Israelites against Moses; their plaint was „Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, when we did eat bread to the full! for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” They forgot all about the bitter bondage of Egypt; the making of bricks without straw; the task masters; and how they had cried out to the Lord for deliverance; they remembered only some of the pleasant things—and we are not to expect, under all the circumstances narrated, that they had any superabundance in the matter of food. So now the discontented mind fails to see the leadings of God’s providences,—leaves him out of its calculations,—forgets the exceeding great and precious promises set before us in the Scriptures, for the time thinks only of the things given up. How apt are all to remember the pleasures and gratifications of the sinful condition, and to forget its burdens and heartaches and disappointments!
All Israel, probably, was assembled, in its representatives, the chief men of all the tribes, and these matters were explained, and the lesson still further impressed, by the manifestation to them of the brightness of the Lord’s glory in a cloud. The lesson of trust was being impressed; they were to know the Lord as their Leader and that all the provisions for their necessities were from him, although they were announced to them by the Lord’s servants. This lesson, too, is for us.
After these instructions had prepared them, the quails came and the manna. A strong wind from the sea brought quail in immense numbers, which, wearied with the journey, were unable to fly high and thus came within the reach of the Israelites, many of them falling from sheer exhaustion. This was no less a miracle than if natural means had not been used in connection with it; the lesson of trust which it taught was that God is abundantly able to control the natural means in fulfilment of his promises. Travelers in that region tell us that such occurrences are not uncommon; one of these says, „I have myself found the ground in Algeria, in the month of April, covered with quail for an extent of many acres, at daybreak, where the previous evening there had not been one.”
The provision of the manna was a miracle of another kind: wholly aside from the natural order of things, so far as we may be able to discern. The manna fell early in the morning and could be gathered after the dew had disappeared; it was evidently deposited in or from the dew by some power of God working probably in harmony with the natural laws of chemistry, not yet thoroughly understood. The grains were small and white and required painstaking labor to gather; nor was it then ready for use, but required to be either boiled or baked to prepare it as food. (vs. 23). Everything connected with the manna indicates not only that it was a most stupendous miracle, but a continuous one—lasting from this time for forty years; until Israel had entered the land of Canaan and ate of the old corn of the land. Again, it was miraculous that a double portion fell on the sixth day of the week and none on the seventh; and that it would spoil if kept over any night except the one following the sixth day.
By these two miracles Israel was taught the great lesson of confidence in God,—that to him and him alone they were to look as their Leader. And so to spiritual Israel the Lord gives providential leadings, teaching them the same lesson of trust in himself. To us this applies not only in respect to earthly food, in supply of our physical necessities,
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but also to the heavenly food and the supply of all our spiritual necessities. It teaches the same lesson that is expressed in our Lord’s prayer, our Golden Text; namely, „Give us this day our daily bread.” The Lord’s people are to recognize God’s providences daily; to walk by faith, not by sight. We see but the one step before us, and that sometimes indistinctly in the light of the lamp of the divine Word; its more distinct utterances are in respect to the ultimate end of the Lord’s leadings;—that he has accepted us, as his people, under the Mediator of the New Covenant; that he is leading us by him through present experiences, trials and testings, in order that we may be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light;—that he will continue to lead us if we will continue to follow, and will ultimately bring all of his faithful into the promised land, the heavenly Canaan.
The Lord’s supply of our earthly needs is perhaps best represented by the provision of the quails. He overrules natural affairs to provide us the things needful, sometimes more and sometimes less abundantly. And as the Israelites doubtless ate of the quails not only at the time of their gathering, but preserved some of them for future use, so we in respect to earthly things are to use the things of this world as not abusing them. We are to use them wisely, remembering that while they come to us in the ordinary course of life, they are, nevertheless, God’s provision and to be used with frugality and judgment, to his praise. If the supply is abundant, we are to be thankful, and if it is deficient we are to trust. We are to learn the lesson of trust; and that after having done what we are able to do in the way of providing for our necessities, we can safely leave all else to him with whom we have to do,—our Father in Heaven.
The lesson from the manna seems more particularly to illustrate our spiritual supplies, which come wholly from above. The manna is called in the Scriptures „The corn of heaven,” „the bread of the mighty”—”angels’ food.” (Psa. 78:24,25; I Cor. 10:3.) Our Lord interprets the manna as a symbol of himself,—the Truth—of which a man may eat and never die. Nevertheless, this bread, although given freely, demands labor on the part of those who would appropriate it and obtain from it spiritual sustenance; it must be gathered, and it must be prepared as food. We cannot expect to come to Christ and to receive in an instant and without effort on our own part all the gracious mercy, blessing and truth that is in him. The truth is God’s gift, to be sure; but it is so given as to require the putting forth of energy on our part, which will demonstrate our need, our hunger, our appreciation of this „bread of life.” Neither can we receive enough in one day or one month or one year to sustain us perpetually; we need to come to the Lord daily, and to receive from him through his Word and spirit the life-giving forces by which we may be sustained day by day in the trials of life,—and by which we may grow strong
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in the Lord and in the power of his might.
Lord, evermore give us this bread!—day by day, until, entering into the antitypical Canaan, the heavenly Kingdom, we shall have no further need of this daily supply, but be changed, perfected as new creatures in Christ Jesus in the First Resurrection!
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GOD FIRST—IN THE DECALOGUE
—EXOD. 20:1-11.—JULY 13, 1902.—
Golden Text:—”Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.”—Luke 10:27.
AFTER LEAVING ELIM, in our last lesson, the journey of the Israelites led to Mt. Sinai; but before reaching it their faith in the Lord was tested severely by a conflict with the Amalekites, a warlike tribe of the desert. Unused to military matters and encumbered with their families, flocks and herds, the men of Israel were forced to a conflict, and, strange to say, their leader, Moses, who some forty years previously had been a notable Egyptian general, did not attempt now to take charge of the battle, but entrusted it to Joshua, while he went to the top of a hill overlooking the field of battle, and there in the sight of the contending peoples, engaged in prayer with uplifted hands. It was here that Aaron, Moses’ brother, and Hur, his brother-in-law (husband of Miriam), upheld the hands of Moses in prayer; because it was noticed that the Lord’s special blessing attended the Israelites when Moses’ hands were upheld. Thus Israel vanquished the foe, and thus it was demonstrated that it was the Lord who fought with Israel and conquered their enemies. No doubt Israel learned a lesson of faith in the Lord, and through Moses’ example learned to trust, not in Moses, but in the Lord as their Leader. And the humble conduct of Aaron and Hur in this incident became the groundwork of a great lesson of helpfulness in the Lord’s service—showing how assistance in the service is recognized of the Lord and such co-operation acceptable. So with spiritual Israelites. In all the trials and conflicts with our Adversary and his deluded followers, we are to learn distinctly the lesson that all our trust is to be in the Lord, our Leader, the antitype of Moses, Captain of our Salvation; who does not, in an earthly sense, actually lead us in the conflict, but is in the Mountain, in the Kingdom: his merit prevails for our blessing and succor, and all of his faithful servants in turn recognize themselves as merely co-operating with him.
Another incident worthy of notice occurred about this time: Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came to meet him here, bringing Moses’ family (Ex. 18); moreover, the Lord used this man for giving Moses some valuable suggestions respecting the government of the Israelites; and Moses was humble enough to receive such instruction as of the Lord, notwithstanding the fact that it came from an Ethiopian, one who was not of the seed of Abraham, and who did not join himself to them. Thus God sometimes even now uses outsiders to give suggestions and lessons to his covenant people; and wise is the man or woman humble enough to receive instruction from any quarter—when found to be in
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harmony with the divine will. The advice given to Moses,—that he should no longer attempt to be the law-giver for the people in all the minutiae of their affairs, but a sort of supreme judge, and Mediator between God and the people, was a wise suggestion, evidently from the Lord, by whomsoever given. So also was the next suggestion, that the people be organized according to their tribes and families, and that each tribe should thus have, in itself, its own proper servants and officers and judges for minor details. Of this arrangement some one has said, „This [arrangement] became the basis (Kalisch) of Alfred the Great’s Saxon constitution, and thus the basis of the constitution of modern England and America”—a government of the people, by the people, through their own representatives.
THE GIVING OF THE LAW
The transaction at Mt. Sinai was so arranged as deeply to impress all who were present. It was to be another lesson for the people respecting God, his right to control them and his will concerning them. Boundary marks were fixed around the mountain, which was declared holy because of the Lord’s presence in it; a man or beast trespassing upon it was subject to death: meantime the mountain shook with earthquakes, and fire and smoke, thunders and lightnings, and trumpet-like sounds and voices manifested to the Israelites the importance of the event at hand. But if the Lord thus impressed them by the solemnity of their surroundings with the importance of the covenant which he was about to make with them, his message to them, introducing the commandments, was very gracious and gentle. In this preamble he reminds them that he, the Lord, had brought them out of the land of Egypt: they had by this time gotten beyond any desire to return to Egypt; they were learning to trust in the Lord, to realize his care and protection and deliverance from enemies and from want.
Meantime, the people, in obedience to the Lord’s direction, had purified themselves, their clothing and their camp; and, as directed, they were endeavoring to abstain from all impurities, as a prerequisite to their meeting with and entering into covenant relationship with the Lord of Hosts. The spiritual Israelite also has something analogous to this. First he must realize the justice of God and the greatness of God, and his own unworthiness and weaknesses; he must see something of the terrors of Sinai before he will be in the proper condition to receive the favors which our Lord desires to bestow. Properly, he too will seek to purge himself so far as possible from all filth of the flesh; properly also, he will seek a mediator, and as the Israelites said to Moses, so will he say to Christ, „Entreat the Lord for us, that we may speak to thee, and speak thou to him.” We realize our need of a mediator through whom the Word of the Lord will come to us, and by whose merit and grace we shall be helped in satisfying the demands of the divine law.
But a greater lesson is included in this type. In this still larger view Moses typified Christ Jesus the Head, and the Church, his body, complete; in this larger view Israel typifies so many of the world of mankind as are desirous of entering covenant relationship with God; in this larger view the fire and smoke and voices and trumpets and earthquakes of Mt. Sinai represent the great time of trouble and manifestations of divine power which are to come in the end of this Gospel age to convince the world of its need of the Lord’s help and to make the world ready to enter into the New Covenant. In this larger view the three days of purification, setting bounds about the Mount, etc., represent the period of this Gospel age from the first advent down to the glorification of the Church—typified in the going up of Moses into the mountain, to be the representative of the people, to receive the Lord’s Law and to bring it down to the people. Thus counting the matter according to the days of the week,—a thousand years to each day,—our Lord’s first advent occurred early on the fifth day;—the fifth day has passed, the sixth day has passed, and we are now in the early morning of the seventh or „Millennial” day; and it is in this third day „early in the morning” that the antitypical Moses [Christ and the Church] is to ascend into the mountain, Kingdom of the Lord. It is in this third day, and very shortly now we believe, that the great and terrible manifestations of divine dignity and majesty are to be made known to the world in general.
This is in full accord with the statement of the Apostle referring to this time, and to this same type. (Heb. 12:22-29.) For some time the Lord has been dealing with the world with a view to the bringing in of this New Covenant. Two (thousand year) days ago we approached the mountain, the Kingdom of God; there God, through the antitype of Moses, began to mark out the bounds of the Kingdom class, who might and who might not approach, come into the Kingdom. From that time the proclamation of purification has been made, the people being commanded to cleanse themselves; or, as the Apostle again says, „The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained”—Christ.—Acts 17:30,31.
The instruction to purify and to get ready has been more or less heard and more or less heeded throughout the world; and now, shortly, we may expect the marshaling of the people as described in Ex. 19:17-20, so graphically described by the Apostle as picturing the events with which the present age is to close: „Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.” He explains that in the great changes now at hand the transformation will be a complete one, which will thoroughly shake out and remove everything in connection with the civil, religious and social affairs of man that is not in harmony with the laws of the Kingdom—the Millennial Kingdom. Only the faithful who shall constitute the Kingdom-class shall stand the shaking of this time.—Heb. 12:26-28.
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THE FIRST FOUR COMMANDMENTS
The law delivered to Moses was upon two tables of stone. Although not so specified, it is a generally accepted opinion that the first four commandments were upon one stone and the remaining six upon the other. This would make about an even division as respects the matter; but more particularly it divides as between the duties of Israel toward God and toward men. Although the Decalogue (the law in ten commandments) was given to fleshly Israel and not to spiritual Israel, nevertheless, the latter may learn from it some very valuable lessons respecting the divine will. God does not address the house of Sons as he addresses the house of servants,—ours are not commands as to what we shall not do; ours is one command respecting our duty toward God, and it is so comprehensive that it takes in all that was said to Israel in the ten commandments, and as we shall presently see, much more.
(1) „Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The thought is not that they were prohibited from having other gods before Jehovah, in the sense of superiority, implying that they might have some gods on an equality with or inferior to him. Rather, the thought is that they should have no other gods in his presence—that so long as they recognized Jehovah as their God, none others were to be recognized in any sense or degree.
(2) The Second Commandment is an elaboration of the first, lest the people might say, ‚We will have no other gods, but we will make for us images to represent our one God so that they may help the mind through the eye. But the Lord prohibits this, and we can readily see the wisdom of the prohibition. Many Christian people have felt that they could pray before pictures of the Lord or while looking at a crucifix, better than without such an aid: indeed we know that Greek and Roman Catholics throughout the world (nearly three times as numerous as those termed Protestants) continually use images, pictures, beads, etc., as reminders and helps to the mind and faith; but we believe that the effect has been seriously injurious; the tendency downward rather than upward, and that this, to some extent, accounts for the fact that the races using images, etc., are inferior to those not using them, but practicing the higher and purer worship of God which recognizes no intermediary, no crucifix, no image, no picture, but communes directly with the Lord.
The Gospel Church has a still higher thought than was given to the Jews on this subject. Our Master’s words suggest that even fathers and mothers and wives and children might intrude upon our love and devotion and take the place of the Lord in our affections; and that this must not be permitted by any who would be of the elect. In comparison we must love less than God all other beings, so that the first strength of our love and devotion may be given to our Creator. „Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind, soul and strength.” This would also include the thought that wealth, or self or ambition must not be permitted to take the chief place in those who would be the Lord’s. Many seem to be in danger along these lines. We cannot read their hearts, but the vast majority not only of the world, but of those who profess devotion to the Lord, are bowing themselves down to idols of wealth, social ambition, personal ambition, etc., and serving these with all the strength and time and means and knowledge which they have consecrated to the Lord. We are not saying a word against the procuring of „things needful” in a manner „honest in the sight of all men;” we refer to something beyond this,—the attempt to lay up riches, honor, etc., with the time and knowledge and talents consecrated to the Lord. Is not this idol worship from the standpoint of the New Covenant?
The Lord announces himself as a jealous God who wants all of our affections, all of our confidence, our entire trust. He wants that we should be so fully in accord with him that his will shall be supreme in all the affairs of life. This is not to be considered selfishness on the part of the Almighty; because this, under his overruling providences, means to his creatures the largest amount of happiness, the largest amount of success in the duties and affairs of the present life, and the largest amount of preparation for the blessings which the Lord has prepared for and promised to those who love him.
The declaration that the Lord will visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of those that hate him, and show mercy unto thousands of them that love him and keep his commandments, does not represent anger, bitterness, resentment, selfishness;—rather these words express the law of nature, under which in wisdom God has placed humanity. Every one who uses his mind and his talents in accord with the Lord’s will, brings a blessing not only upon himself but extends, in a natural way, that blessing to his children and theirs. On the contrary, those who live contrary to the Lord, who mind earthly things, become more and more „earthly”, „sensual,” „devilish,” and surely transmit these groveling and deficient tendencies to their children, influencing and injuring them unto the third and fourth generation, in a perfectly natural manner.
The Apostle points out to us that this is the secret of the extreme degradation that we see about us in various parts of the world today. There was a start to all this degradation. Of course the original start to degradation and sin was in the disobedience of father Adam, and in the death-sentence upon him. But in proportion as people since have disregarded the Lord’s will and arrangement and laws, so far as they knew them, in the same proportion have they injured and degraded themselves and their posterity. The Apostle’s words are, „When they knew God they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and to fourfooted beasts and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts,
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to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator.”—Rom. 1:21-31.
It has been suggested that the original of vs. 6 might be rendered a thousand generations, and that this would imply a continuation of present conditions of imperfection and need for divine mercy for a period of at least 20,000 years, instead of one thousand—the Millennium. We disagree with such an interpretation entirely, suggesting that in a very proper sense of the word every child is generated, and hence might not improperly be spoken of as a generation. This is in accord with the translation given in the common version which we approve.
The command to the Israelite that he should not take God’s name in vain, did not signify that he should not name the name of the Lord, yet going to an extreme in the matter the Israelites avoided the covenant name of God,—Jehovah. The expression, „in vain,” evidently signified lightly, frivolously or in any other than a sacred or reverential manner. No such command is needed by the „new creature in Christ.” How could he willingly or intentionally speak lightly or irreverently of his Heavenly Father, after being begotten of the holy spirit? To have a will to speak otherwise than reverently would be sure indication that he had not been begotten of the holy spirit;—that he was a bastard and not a son. However there is a sense in which we may well take a lesson from this command to Israel, a sense in which it is applicable to spiritual as well as natural Israel. As a people Israel had taken God’s name,—they had professed themselves to be God’s people, under his guidance and leadership; it was their duty to see to it that this should not be a vain, empty, or meaningless covenant, or agreement; that it should be carried out to the full. So with us spiritual Israelities, we have entered into a covenant with God; we have named the name of the Lord upon us, calling ourselves his people, claiming him as our Father, and confessing Jesus as our Redeemer. It is proper for us to remember that this solemn profession or obligation or covenant is not a vain, frivolous matter; that it should be entered into with solemnity, and with full appreciation of its importance and of our responsibilities under it. The Lord will not hold us guiltless, if, having taken his name upon us and receiving his benediction as his children, we then either sin wilfully or in any degree reflect dishonor upon him whose name we bear.
„REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY”
The fourth commandment designates the seventh day of the week for rest, not only for the head of the family but for every member of it, including servants and cattle and visitors. It was made the duty of the head of the family to see to it that this divine command was carried out in his home, for the blessing of himself as well as for the comfort and good of those under his care. The new law, Love, the basis of the New Covenant into which we spiritual Israelites, as the „house of sons,” have entered, has no command respecting the seventh day of the week, nor indeed respecting any day. If it was good that the Israelites should rest, would it not be good also that we should rest one day in the seven? Yes, surely; on general principles it is advisable that all men observe such a rule of physical rest from toil one day in seven. Is there any reason why we should object to the seventh day of the week for such a rest? None whatever so far as the Christian is concerned.
Being left without a specific law on the subject, he is at liberty to make such arrangements for his rest as will be most profitable to him under the general law of Love. Being without a specific law on the subject Christian people, desiring to have one day of seven for worship, gradually fixed upon the first day of the week as being the one which to them would have the largest meaning, because of its being the Memorial of the Lord’s resurrection, and hence, the Memorial of the Christian’s joy and faith and hope with respect to the eternal life promised through our Redeemer. Do you consider the choice of the first day of the week a good one? We
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certainly are glad that throughout the civilized lands the first day of the week is so observed; we are glad, too, that it is not observed according to the Jewish law, merely as a day of physical rest, but rather that it is much used by Christians as a day of fellowship of spirit and growth in grace, knowledge and love.
But why did the Lord not put in the law of the New Covenant some mention respecting some day of the week, first, seventh or some other day? We answer because the entire law is a „Law of Liberty,”—designed to test by its liberty those to whom it is given. It leaves each one unfettered that he may the more abundantly show the kind and extent of his devotion to the Lord. Instead of demanding one day of the seven the Law of Love really controls, regulates our entire time; seven days in the week we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength; and seven days of the week we are to love our neighbor as ourselves; and seven days in the week we are to rest also—rest from our own works—rest by faith in the finished work of Christ—rest in the love of God—rest in the peace of God which passeth all understanding, ruling in our hearts continually. The seventh day commanded to the Jew as his rest day, while it was beneficial to him, was also typical: it typified the Christians’ rest of faith, this heart relationship to the Lord, in which, as children of God, all such may continually rejoice—every day and every night. So the Apostle explains the matter (Heb. 4:4-11), declaring further that there is a still larger rest remaining; namely, the eternal life condition to be entered into on the great seventh day,—the Millennial age.
Some have suggested that in the expression „Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” the word remember implies that the Sabbath day had been previously instituted and commanded; and that this was merely a reminder of it. From this we dissent. There was no law given previous to Israel’s arrival at Sinai; there was no mention of the keeping of a Sabbath previous to Israel’s arrival
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at the wilderness of Sin of which Mt. Sinai is the center. It was instituted in connection with the giving of the manna. (Exod. 16:23.) We are not to read into the Lord’s Word what is not there. The words of the text signify that Israel should be careful continually to remember this injunction put upon them, respecting the seventh day, and that thenceforth it should be kept holy, sacred, free from work, as unto the Lord. All this is implied further in the declaration of the 11th verse respecting God’s having rested on the seventh day; and the explanation is that similarly, now, in the giving of the law, God was blessing the seventh day and honoring it as a reminder of the six days of creation, and the seventh day in which God rested from creative work.
We have heretofore explained why the days of creation should not be understood as literal days of twenty-four hours each, but as larger days of seven thousand years each; and this subject we hope to treat still more at length (D.V.) in Millennial Dawn, Vol. 6. We merely note here, that the seventh day which God observed was one of these larger days of seven thousand years; and that it began just after the creation of our first parents and that since then God has rested from any creative work, and has merely permitted, as far as earth is concerned, that things already created should take their course;—many of them a downward course, as in the case of man in his fall from primeval perfection into sin and death. The Apostle explains that God is still resting, and waiting for something,—leaving a further work for the Lord Jesus to do,—the work of redemption and restitution. The redemptive work he has already accomplished; the restitution work he will begin as soon as the election of his Church—the „bride,” the „Lamb’s wife” is accomplished. Meantime God rests, leaving the matter in the hands of him whom he hath ordained to be „Lord of all,” and to whom he has decreed all things shall be subject, for the purposes of restitution,—so far as possible. And as God is thus resting and leaving the matter in the hands of Christ, so all who come to a knowledge of the truth, to a knowledge of God’s plan, are to rest similarly,—leaving the case in the hands of our glorious Redeemer and seeking so far as we may be able, not to direct him, not to do the work for him, but to co-operate with him in the work which he is now doing in selecting the Church; and by and by, to co-operate as he has promised we may, in the work of blessing and restoring all the families of the earth who will hear his voice and become obedient to his law.
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INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED
IN MY FLESH SHALL I SEE GOD
Question.—In what sense can the statement in Job 19:26 be true, since we understand he will not have power to „see God” as a human being?
Answer.—The passage might be understood in two different ways: (a) As an expression of Job’s trust in the Lord that notwithstanding the serious malady with which he was afflicted, and the apparent utter destruction of his skin, by a loathsome disease, yet he hoped for recovery and that he should yet praise the Lord in the flesh and in health. Or (b) it may be understood to refer to a future life and Job’s confidence that though his sickness might result in death, complete dissolution, yet it did not mean in him an everlasting extinction. As previously stated, God would call and he would answer in his flesh. His seeing God in the flesh should not be understood as that which is impossible, of which our Lord says, „No man hath seen God at any time,” and of which the Apostle says, „Whom no man hath seen nor can see.” It should be understood in the way in which it is commonly used today; viz., that God’s people see him in his works, as we sometimes say, „I see God’s hand in this.” And again, we are informed that „all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” And again, „Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”
VARIOUS READINGS OF OLD MSS
Question.—Why do you quote and comment on Luke 22:43,44, when old MSS. omit these verses?
Answer.—Because while some old MSS. omit these verses, we find that others do not. If you will look in the foot-notes of Tischendorf Testament, you will find that „S2” omits these verses: the S represents the Sinaitic MS. but the 2 represents a secondary or altered reading of that MS. From this it is evident that the Sinaitic MS. originally contained these verses; but some later hand obliterated them, thus making this MS. to concur with the Vatican and Alexandrine. On the whole we are inclined to think these verses genuine, partly from the fact that they are in old MSS. and partly from the fact that the incident narrated is only what we should expect under the circumstances.
CHANGED FROM GLORY TO GLORY
Question.—In what sense of the word are we „changed from glory to glory,” even as by the spirit of the Lord?—2 Cor. 3:18.
Answer.—After we are justified by faith we are called to the adoption of sonship; and after we accept that call by making a full consecration of ourselves to the Lord we are made recipients of the spirit of his holiness, the spirit of adoption into his family, and after we receive this spirit of adoption we are guided by it and taught by it respecting the things pleasing and acceptable to our heavenly Father; we are, so to speak, under this influence moulded and fashioned into the likeness of his dear Son our Lord Jesus. This moulding and fashioning we are required to do to a considerable extent for ourselves, but are stimulated to such transformation of character by the light of the knowledge of the divine character which we behold in God’s Word. This transforming of our characters is not instantaneous but gradual—we grow more and more like Christ, we are changed from glory to glory in our minds, our wills, our hearts, our characters—this change will not be complete until our resurrection, when we shall be like him and see him as he is, and share his glory to the full. An article on this subject will be found in our issue of March 1, 1893.
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LETTERS OF INTEREST
Dear Brother Russell:—On the occasion of your last visit to our house, you lost on the floor the check you had received for your satchel, etc. at the hotel opposite the depot. I felt sure you would be able to get them without the check, yet I concluded to return it and learn positively that you had procured them. While on this errand I met a man I hadn’t seen for years, whom formerly I had known well. I was compelled to introduce myself to him, because he said he couldn’t recognize me. When I made myself known he was astounded and said, „Why, what have you been doing to yourself? You look younger than you did when I saw you last, which is more than ten years ago; besides you have lost that care worn-look you had, and now appear so much happier. What has caused such a change in you?” I answered „Good news! The influence of the truth causing me to cast all my care on Him.” He said, „I would like to hear something that would be the means of making so great a change in me.” I said, „You can hear it if you have ears to hear.” I then questioned him as to whether he was still a Christian, and he told me he was seeking diligently to know what was truth, had once left the Methodist Church and attached himself to the Advent denomination, but soon learned he had gained nothing by the change and returned to the Methodists, only to be as dissatisfied as ever. He was really anxious to hear the details of my experience, and seemed glad that I didn’t have to go outside God’s Word to get the message of comfort. I then told him how MILLENNIAL DAWN came to me and opened the eyes of my understanding, enabling me to realize the truth that God is love, and showing me my privilege to be joint sacrificer with the Lord and co-laborer with him in this the greatest period of all time (thus far)—the harvest of the age. His interest was awakened, he was eager to get the book, even desiring to purchase one at once if I could tell him where to procure it. We were several blocks from Bro. Brown’s. He went there with me and took away what I hope will be as great a treasure to him as it has been to me.
So you see, dear brother, the loss of your check, though it may have caused you some annoyance, occasioned that seemingly chance meeting and started another MILLENNIAL DAWN on its wonderful mission.
Two causes make the Washington folks very joyous now; viz., The early prospect of the Volunteer work, and the established fact that there will be a convention here in October. Bro. Fowler, our captain, told me a few days ago that he believed every one would engage in this work;—and why shouldn’t we? If we appreciate the opportunity extended us by our dear Lord, we will not only delight to do his will, but will earnestly strive to do it in the most acceptable manner.
Experience has taught us that there is much to be learned; we have realized the necessity of being as „wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” A soft answer has many times turned away wrath; a quiet courteous manner has gained for us respect, and been the means of obtaining an audience with the person, for the printed sermon we have presented, that could not have been accomplished in a loud or boisterous way. To get into a contention, even for the truth, on these occasions diverts from the specific service. There is a time when silence is golden; it seems to me that while engaged in the Volunteer work is that time; the message we deliver will speak more eloquently than mortal tongue, for it is our Lord knocking at the door of the hearts of his people.
And now, Bro. Russell, I entreat you to make use of every opportunity to say to the brethren where ever you may go, to put forth earnest efforts to come to the Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., October 4th, 5th and 6th. Warm hearts will meet them here. We hope for a glorious time of help to the Church, not forgetting the nearly starved and blind and ignorant who are yet where we were once. May our Lord’s blessing be on all efforts tending to make this convention a success and may it be with us in this as in all else, „God first,” to his honor and glory through Jesus.
With love, I am your brother in the love and service of our Master. J. T. D. Pyles, Dist. of Columbia.
Dear Brother Russell:—I know that your time is very much taken up; but I would love so to tell you of a dear Sister J__________, whom we met in P__________. She came into the DAWN Truths about 1890, and has been a TOWER reader since 1892. She said that in all her Christian life she had felt the need of „light,” and that the DAWN truth didn’t seem something new, but only the expression of something she has always wanted. She had no education at all, could barely read; and couldn’t write. She said when she read the first DAWN, she had to spell out the words. But, notwithstanding, she said, „My heart just runs over with joy all the time, and please say to Brother Russell for me that he has made one poor ignorant old woman’s life rich, oh, so rich! and that every word he has written I have read, and not only read, but lived on. May God bless him always!”
How often my own heart feels the blessedness this dear old sister speaks of. Truly your sister,
Dear Brother Russell:—I have been wanting to write to you for some time, but have delayed knowing there are so many corresponding with you that your time must be fully occupied. I want to tell you, however, how I am getting along. It is now over four years since I obtained the first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN. Since then I have obtained and read and reread the five volumes and the WATCH TOWER as well. The light that dawned upon me then has been growing brighter. It took me some time to grasp the truths of God’s plan as I see it now. The orthodox (?) teachings were hard to eradicate, but I went to the „law and the testimony” and now I see „the more excellent way” shining out on almost every page of the Word. I purchased a number of vol. I, and loaned them to others that wanted them, also distributed the tracts and TOWERS you sent me. Many persons are interested in a measure; others reject the truth with scorn. I meet opposition from a number of sources, chiefly from the clergy, and especially the Church I formerly belonged to (Baptist). Sermons are preached on „hell,” „the immortality of man,” „the Holy Ghost,” etc. I can thank God for this light he has given me of his Word (through your instrumentality) and smile amid the storm. It inspires me with more energy to use every opportunity to spread the truth.
„I love to tell the story
Because I know ‚tis true,
It satisfies my longings
As nothing else can do.”
I have been trying to study the Bible all through life, but found so many perplexities I hardly knew what to think about it, and when I went to the leaders for light, I was told „They are the deep things of God and not for us to understand.” Now I can, in the language of the one Christ healed say, „Whereas I was blind, now I see,” and I am thankful to my Heavenly Father that I have „eyes to see and ears to hear” the „glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.”
One minister in this section (the French Missionary) has become quite interested. We can however look forward with joyful anticipation to the good time coming when „the blind eyes will be opened, and deaf ears will be unstopped.”
Yours in Christian fellowship,
N. E. Butler, Nova Scotia.