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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
The fulfillment of Scripture prophecies as marked by the beginning of the return of Israel to Palestine, continues increasingly to have the attention of thinking Christians.
The following is extracted from a letter in an English paper by Mr. Charles Reade, the well-known novelist, whose remarkable conversion occurred last year.
THE PROPHETIC ASPECT OF THE JEWISH PERSECUTION
„The Jewish nation, though under a cloud, will eventually resume their ancient territory, which is so evidently kept waiting for them. The prophecies are clear as day on two points: That the Jews are to repossess Palestine, and indeed, to rule from Lebanon to Euphrates; and that this event is to be the first of a great series of changes leading to a vast improvement in the condition of poor suffering mankind and of creation in general. Now, we have here in prospect a glorious event as sure as the sun will rise to-morrow. The only difference is that the sun will rise at a certain hour, and the Jews will occupy Syria and resume their national glory at an uncertain day. No doubt it is the foible of mankind to assume that an uncertain date must be a distant one. But that is unreasonable. Surely it is the duty of wise and sober men to watch precursory signs and lend their humble cooperation, should so great a privilege be accorded to us.
„This sudden persecution of the Jews in the very nation where they are most numerous—may it not be a precursory sign, and a reminder from Providence that their abiding city is not in European Tartary? I almost think some such reminder was needed; for when I was a boy, the pious Jews still longed for the Holy Land. They prayed, like Daniel, with their windows open toward Jerusalem.
Yet now that the broken and impoverished Saracen would cede them territory at one-tenth of its agricultural and commercial value, a cold indifference seems to have come over them. I often wonder at this change of sentiment about so great a matter, and in so short a period, comparatively speaking, and puzzle myself, as to the reason.
Two solutions occur to me. 1. Dispersed in various nations, whose average inhabitants are inferior in intelligence and forethought to themselves, they thrive as individual aliens more than they may think so great a multitude of Jews could thrive in a land of their own, where blockheads would be scarce. 2. They have for centuries contracted their abilities to a limited number of peaceful arts and trades; they may distrust their power to diversify their abilities, and be suddenly a complete nation, with soldiers, sailors, merchants, husbandmen, as well as financiers and artists.
But it is now proved that sojourning among inferior nations has more drawbacks than living at home. True, the Russian yokel has for years been selling to the Jews his summer labor in winter, and at a heavy discount; but the improvident Russians have turned like wild beasts upon them, and outwitted lawfully, have massacred them contrary to law. Palestine can be colonized effectually from Russia alone, where there are three millions of Jews trembling for life and property; and the rest would follow. As to the second objection, history is a looking-glass at our backs. Whatever Jews have done Jews may do. They are a people
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of genius; and genius is not confined by nature, but by will, by habit or by accident. What have these people tried and failed in? Warriors, writers, builders, merchants, lawgivers, husbandmen; and supreme in all! In this history repeats itself.
„They shall be great in the arts of peace and war, and their enemies melt away before them like snow off a dyke. Should they seem to require help from any other nation at starting, blessed will be the nation that proffers it; and the nation that persecutes them will be made an example of in some way or other. Therefore, if by any chance this recent outrage should decide the Jewish leaders to colonize Palestine from Russia, let us freely offer ships, seamen, money—whatever we are asked for. It will be a better national investment than Egyptian, Brazilian or Peruvian bonds.”
Thus we see that from every quarter thoughtful minds are beginning to note the evidences of another great dispensational change. It is to be a gradual change from the Gospel Age into the Millennial Age. The former closes with a night, the latter commences as a dawning day. It is the day foretold by prophets when the earth and groaning creation shall be blessed and liberated from the effects of sin-blight, and death. It is the day in which „the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings”—when the great physician shall heal and revive sin-bitten humanity. In him shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
„A thousand years, Earth’s coming glory,
‚Tis the glad time so long foretold;
‚Tis the glad day of promise given,
Prophets foresaw in times of old.”
The Gospel Age ends, not because it has failed, but because it has accomplished its object. It’s object was to call out, select and perfect a small fragment of Earth’s people—a „little flock” of overcomers of the world, accounted worthy to be exalted to a spiritual plane of existence and to share as the Bride of the Lamb of God, in his glorious work of blessing mankind in general during the incoming age.
Fleshly Israel was cast off from all special favor of God when this age began, and Paul assures us that when the work of selecting the spiritual church is complete, God’s favor will again cover them as a people. (See Rom. 11:25-32.) The fact that favor is now beginning to come to them, is therefore an incidental proof of our position—that we are in the lapping time of the two ages.
Encouraging reports of the progress of truth come to us from every quarter. Infidels and backsliders, and wholly consecrated saints are studying the Bible more than ever before, to see if these things in which we rejoice are the teachings of the Word of God, and are coming to say of the beauty and grandeur of God’s plan and word, as the Queen of Sheba said of Solomon—The half had not been told me. No, dear friends, we do not pretend to have told you half of the goodness and love and power of our infinite Father, the God of all grace. We merely try to point you to the Word as the inexhaustible fountain of truth and knowledge, that together we might be able to some extent, to comprehend with all saints, the love of God which passeth knowledge. The more of our Father’s character we see, the more we feel like exclaiming with Paul, „O, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.”
And the more we come to appreciate God, and His Word and plan, the more our hearts burn with a desire to make it known to all men; especially to those dear children of our Father, who are yet as we ourselves once were, blinded by ignorance of the true teachings of His Word, and dwarfed and fettered by the traditions of men, the creeds and theories of the sects. Praise God that the light is shining more and more, and others as well as we are being blessed by it.
As we each come to see the truth, if it has its legitimate and intended effect upon our hearts and lives, it will be our delight to use all possible effort in making known the glad tidings to others: Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find giving meat in due season to the household. (Matt. 24:45,46.) We should be specially interested in making it known to every consecrated child of God, many of whom are almost starved. You may have for the asking abundance of reading matter for free distribution.
A very large edition of this issue has been sent out in hope of awakening thinking Christians from the lethargy and worldliness which has so largely overspread Christendom. The topics presented will be new to many of them, and we trust that all thoroughly consecrated readers will test it, and decide on its truthfulness, not by their prejudices, not by any sectarian creed, but by the Word of God, the only proper and infallible test; remembering, that the cause of divisions or sects is, that each party defends its creed, instead of laying aside tradition or accepting the harmonious testimony of Scripture.
We subjoin a few of the many letters constantly coming to hand, that you may know of the deep interest being felt among thinking Christians.
MY DEAR SIR—Permit me, though a stranger, to assure you that I can never feel sufficiently thankful that out of the thousands of copies of your book, „Food for Thinking Christians,” distributed in this town, a copy fell into my hands; apparently it was the merest accident; but really I regard it as a direct providence. It has thrown light upon subjects which have perplexed me for years, and has made me feel more than ever what a glorious book the Bible is, how worthy of our profoundest study. At the same time, I came from the study of your book with the conviction that a very large proportion of the theology of our churches and schools is the merest scraps of human notions, and that our huge systems of theology, upon the study of which some of us have spent so many laborious years—only to be the worse confused and perplexed—are infinitely more the work of mistaken men, than the inspiration of the allwise God.
However I may differ from the book in a few minor details, I found the main argument to be resistless, commending itself to both my head and my heart. Again let me thank you on my own behalf for the good I have received.
I find at the close of it you make an offer to send copies to any who have reason to believe they can make a good use of them. In my church and congregation there is a number of intelligent persons who are interested in the second coming, and who would be only too glad to read your book. I could distribute seventy copies with advantage. You say, „Ask and ye shall receive.” I have faith in your generosity. Believe me to remain
Yours most faithfully, __________.
GENTLEMEN—Having read with the most profound interest your publication entitled, „Food for Thinking Christians,” and being fairly dazzled by the wonderful light it reveals on the great subject, I find myself thirsting for more knowledge from this seemingly inspired pen.
Therefore in accordance with the invitation extended by you on the cover of this little work I ask that you send me a few copies of „The Tabernacle and its Teachings.”
With reference to the first-named book, permit me to say that I have never yet read or heard anything equal to that little volume in its influence upon my heart and life; and, to my mind, it answers most grandly and conclusively the great question, „Is life worth living?” Such views as it sets forth are bound to find response in the minds and hearts of all unbiased thinking Christians, for they bear the stamp of something greater than mere human conception. I only wish we could hear it from the pulpits; but I think this must shortly follow. It is good seed, and in its „due time” will come forth.
Believe me, I am
Very truly yours, __________.
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„ZION’S WATCH TOWER”—My dear good friends:—Your kind favor, „Food for Thinking Christians,” reached me in due time. To say that it is an exceeding welcome gift but feebly expresses my appreciation and gratitude. I have learned what I never knew before, and it has brought to me such a flood of light that I am amazed at the grandeur of the scheme and plan of redemption. To allow the phrase, I have literally devoured it, and my soul is ravished with the indescribable excellency and magnitude of God’s plan of salvation. Oh, how dull and blunted does now appear the common method of Christian instruction. Who can read these things and longer doubt and waver about the truth, beauty and inspiration of the Bible, or the manner in which its glorious truths should be inculcated and demonstrated. I trust and believe that the great Author of the Word will prosper and bless you abundantly. Whatever else you have of like nature for grateful hearts I trust you will favor your present correspondent with.
Yours truly, __________.
DEAR BRO.—The publication entitled „Food for Thinking Christians,” was duly received a few weeks ago, and I have carefully distributed the greater portion of them among such as would appreciate such teachings; and they all speak volumes of praise. It is indeed food for Christians—rich food. Would to God we could only have the whole world read and fully understand. May God bless the work, and may the blessed seed sown sink deep in each and every heart, and bear much fruit to the honor and glory of God.
Yours, etc. __________.
MT. CARMEL, INDIANA
MY DEAR BROTHER—I have long felt a desire for some communication in reference to those blessed matters that make us one in our Supreme Head. I have been made better acquainted with the way of life recently. The new food has revived my slumbering spirit and given me a keener desire for a knowledge of the Word of God, and better understanding of his ways and dealings. I have been so absorbed with these delightful matters that the things of this present life sink into comparative insignificance. I can now comprehend the Apostle’s exclamation, „O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his righteous acts and his ways past tracing out.” How privileged and responsible are those who are made watchmen upon the towers of Zion, to give warning, guidance and instruction to those who are seeking and willing to accept truth at all hazards; pointing out to us the dangerous reefs and rocks, and the hidden shoals and sandbars.
O that all would search for and receive present truth, with all its joyful satisfaction and the comforting assurances and instructions constantly afforded—the near or full completion of the Body of Christ to spread universally the „good tidings of great joy;” the presence of the glorious Head of the Church, the grand parousia, the returning. Blessed thought, can anything be more exhilarating than these and other kindred blessed assurances, and the ineffable glory of the whole church which is to follow. Haste, haste, thou blessed time of glory, when the anointed one shall reign and all powers but his shall end. … Truly your brother in the Lord.
— October And November, 1882 —