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VOL. XIII. FEBRUARY 15, 1892. NO. 4
ZION’S WATCH TOWER
HERALD OF CHRIST’S PRESENCE.
PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH.
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY,
ARCH STREET, ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE $1.00 A YEAR, IN ADVANCE, (INCLUDES ALSO A SUBSCRIPTION TO TWO COPIES OF OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS QUARTERLY)
By Express Order, Postal Money Order, Bank Draft, or Registered Letter. Foreign only by Foreign Money Order.
FREE TO THE LORD’S POOR
N.B.—Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
SPECIAL ITEMS FOR REGULAR READERS
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HARVEST LABORERS.—PRAY FOR THEM!
Brother and Sister Adamson have nearly finished their present field of labor in Cincinnati, Ohio. They have about 4000 Millennial Dawns circulating there now. They have done and are doing a good work—gathering ripe wheat and witnessing to others. Sunday Meetings held by Brother A. help to water the good word of present truth which he scatters during the week by circulating MILLENNIAL DAWN.
Sisters Harper and Weir will soon be a year in Louisville, Ky., and vicinity. The Lord is blessing them, and through their labors quite a number are coming to the Light. They are faithful soldiers of the cross.
Brothers Rogers and West have been in New York City for some months past. They already have over 3000 DAWNS in circulation. They report some very interesting meetings held
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lately—well attended and evidently profitable. God bless them.
Brothers Leigh, Demming and VanHook have spent the last nine months in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. They are earnest and faithful and are blessed and a blessing wherever they go.
Sisters Erlenmyer, Clark and Peck are still laboring in southern New York. We have frequent proofs of their zeal and willingness to endure hardness as good soldiers of the cross—bearing the good tidings to those who have ears to hear. Their labors are not in vain in the Lord.
Brother Wise is still in the harvest field, in Ohio, seeking the ripe wheat, and, thank the Lord, finding some ready to be garnered.
Brother Smith is making a thorough canvass of Pittsburgh and vicinity. He is letting the light shine and attracting the attention of some of the children of the light. In the portion of the city already gone over, he has circulated over 2000 copies of DAWN, which, sooner or later, will bring results.
Brothers Haynes and Thorn are in Massachusetts. They have recently circulated over 1800 copies of MILLENNIAL DAWN in Lynn, and report considerable interest among readers.
Sisters Vogel and Boehmer are in the work in eastern Pennsylvania, circulating the present truth—”meat in due season”—and accomplishing good, we trust.
Brother and Sister Rogers in Detroit, Brother and Sister Utley in Minneapolis, Brother C. C. Wright in Iowa, Brother Hewes in Philadelphia, Brother and Sister Wallace in western Pennsylvania, Brother Brown in Michigan, Brother Brewer in Atlanta, Ga., Brother Herr in central Pennsylvania, Brother Marchant in Canada, and Brother Dailey in Ohio, are all serving the Lord and his cause earnestly and with success.
Besides the above are some faithful ones who have been obliged to suspend operation temporarily from sickness and other reasons, who, we trust, will soon be in the work again; and who even now, we are sure, are not idle.
But we have only mentioned a few of the noble army of the Lord who are daily battling for the truth—seeking to free themselves and others of the Lord’s household from the chains of error and sin. We believe that more than one-half of the WATCH TOWER subscribers are true laborers in the harvest field, whose chief aim in life is, not money, nor pleasure, nor fame, nor any other selfish, earthly object, but who seek chiefly, and with their best endeavors, not only to gain for themselves a share in the Kingdom promised, but to help others to so run as to obtain the same provision of God’s grace.
Dear co-laborers, remember one another at the throne of the heavenly grace, and remember us also of the TOWER office, as we do you all.—2 Thes. 3:1; Heb. 13:18.
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AN ANCIENT AND INTERESTING DOCUMENT,
FOUND IN THE VATICAN AT ROME, WHICH PURPORTS TO BE THE ORIGINAL REPORT OF PILATE, ROMAN GOVERNOR OF JUDEA, TO THE EMPEROR TIBERIUS CAESAR: EXPLANATORY OF THE CAUSES WHICH LED TO THE TUMULT IN JERUSALEM, IN CONNECTION WITH THE DEATH OF JESUS OF NAZARETH.
(CONCLUDED FROM OUR LAST ISSUE.)
To Herod, who then reigned in Galilee, the enemies of Jesus addressed themselves to wreak their vengeance on the Nazarene. Had Herod consulted his own inclination, he would have ordered Jesus immediately to be put to death; but though proud of his royal dignity, yet he was afraid of committing an act that might diminish his influence with the Senate. Herod called on me one day at the Pretorium, and on rising to take leave, after some insignificant conversation, he asked my opinion concerning the Nazarene. I replied that Jesus appeared to be one of those great philosophers that great nations sometimes produce, that his doctrines were by no means sacrilegious, and that the intention of Rome was, to leave him to that freedom of speech which was justified by his actions. Herod smiled maliciously, and saluting me with an ironical respect he departed.
The great feast of the Jews was approaching, and the intention of their religious rulers was to avail themselves of the popular exultation which always manifests itself at the solemnities of a Passover. The city was overflowing with a tumultuous populace clamoring for the death of the Nazarene. My emissaries informed me that the treasure of the temple had been employed in bribing the people. The danger was pressing. A Roman centurion had been insulted. I wrote to the prefect of Syria for a hundred foot soldiers, and as many cavalry. He declined. I saw myself alone, with a handful of veterans, in the midst of a rebellious city, too weak to suppress a disorder, and having no other choice left but to tolerate it. The seditious rabble had seized Jesus, and although they felt that they had nothing to fear from the Pretorium, believing with their leaders that I winked at their sedition, continued vociferating, „Crucify him! crucify him!”
Three powerful parties had combined together at that time against Jesus. First, the Herodians, and the Sadducees, whose seditious conduct seems to have proceeded from double
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motives: they hated the Nazarene, and were impatient of the Roman yoke. They could never forgive me for having entered their holy city with banners that bore the image of the
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Roman Emperor, and although in this instance I had ignorantly committed the fatal error, yet the sacrilege did not appear less heinous in their eyes. Another grievance also rankled in their bosoms: I had proposed to employ a part of the treasure of the Temple in erecting edifices of public utility, which proposal was scowled at.
The Pharisees, too, were avowed enemies of Jesus, and they cared not for our government. They bore with bitterness the severe reprimands which the Nazarene, for three years, had been throwing out against them wherever he went. Too weak and pusillanimous to act by themselves, they had eagerly embraced the quarrels of the Herodians and the Sadducees. Besides these three parties, I had to contend against the reckless and profligate populace, always ready to join a sedition, and to profit by the disorder and confusion resulting therefrom.
Jesus was dragged before the High Priest and condemned to death. It was then that Caiaphas, the High Priest, performed a derisory act of submission. He sent his prisoner to me to pronounce his condemnation. I answered him that as Jesus was a Galilean, the affair came under Herod’s jurisdiction; and I ordered him to be sent thither. That wily tetrarch professed his humility, and protesting his deference to me, the Lieutenant of Caesar, recommitted the fate of the man to my hands. Soon my palace assumed the aspect of a besieged citadel. Every moment increased the number of seditionists. Jerusalem was inundated with crowds from the mountains of Nazareth. All Judea appeared to be pouring into the devoted city. I had taken a wife—a maiden from among the Gauls—who pretended to see into futurity; she, weeping and throwing herself at my feet, said to me, „Beware, and touch not that man, for he is holy. Last night I saw him in a vision. He was walking on the waters. He was flying on the wings of the winds. He spoke to the tempest and to the fishes of the lake—all were obedient to him. Behold! the torrent of Mount Kedron flows with blood! The statues of Caesar are filled with the filth of Gemonide! The columns of the Interium have given away, and the sun is veiled in mourning, like a vestal of the tomb! O Pilate! evil awaits thee, if thou wilt not listen to the entreaties of thy wife. Dread the curse of a Roman Senate, dread the powers of Caesar.”
By this time the marble stairs groaned under the weight of the multitude. The Nazarene was brought back to me. I proceeded to the Hall of Justice, followed by my guard, and asked the people in a severe tone what they demanded. „The death of the Nazarene,” was their reply. „For what crime?” „He has blasphemed. He has prophesied the ruin of the temple. He calls himself the Son of God, the Messiah, the King of the Jews.” „Roman justice,” said I, „punishes not such offenses with death.” „Crucify him, crucify him!” belched forth the relentless rabble. The vociferation of the infuriated mob shook the palace to its foundations. There was but one that appeared to be calm, in the midst of the vast multitude. It was the Nazarene.
After many fruitless attempts to protect him from this fury of his merciless persecutors, I adopted a measure which, at the moment, appeared to me to be the only one that could save his life. I ordered him to be scourged; then, calling for an ewer, I washed my hands in the presence of the multitude, thereby signifying to them my disapproval of the deed. But in vain. It was his life that those wretches thirsted for!
Often in our civil commotions have I witnessed the furious animosity of the multitude, but nothing could be compared to what I witnessed in the present instance. It might have been truly said that on this occasion all the phantoms of the infernal regions had assembled at Jerusalem. The crowd appeared not to walk: they were borne along, whirling and rolling like living waves, from the portals of the Pretorium, even unto Mount Zion, with howlings, screams, shrieks and vociferations, such as were never heard in the seditions of the Panonia, or in the tumult of the forum.
By degrees the day darkened like a winter’s twilight, such as was witnessed at the death of the great Julius Caesar, which was likewise toward the Ides of March.
I, the continued governor of a rebellious province,
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was leaning against a column of my palace contemplating through the dreary gloom these fiends of torture dragging to execution the innocent Nazarene. All around me was deserted. Jerusalem had vomited forth her in-dwellers through the funeral gate that leads to the Gemonica. An air of desolation and sadness enveloped me. My guards had joined the cavalry, and the centurion, to display a shadow of power, was endeavoring to keep order. I was left alone, and my breaking heart admonished me that what was passing at that moment appertained rather to the history of the gods than to that of a man. A loud clamor was heard proceeding from Golgotha, which, borne on the winds, seemed to announce an agony such as had never been heard by mortal ears. Dark clouds lowered over the pinnacle of the Temple, and, settling over the city, covered it as with a veil. So dreadful were the signs that were seen, both in the heavens and on the earth, that Dionysius, the Areopagite, is reported to have exclaimed, „Either the author of nature is suffering, or the universe is falling apart.”
Towards the first hour of the night I threw my mantle around me and went down into the city towards the gates of Golgotha. The sacrifice was consummated. The crowd was returning home, still agitated, it is true, but gloomy, taciturn and desperate. What they had witnessed had stricken them with terror and remorse. I also saw my little Roman cohort pass by mournfully, the standard-bearer having veiled his eagle in token of grief, and I overheard some of the soldiers murmuring strange words which I did not understand. Others were recounting prodigies, almost similar to those which had so often smitten the Romans by the will of the gods. Sometimes groups of men and women would halt, then looking back toward Mount Calvary would remain motionless, in expectation of witnessing some new prodigy.
I returned to the Pretorium, sad and pensive. On ascending the stairs—the steps of which were still stained with the blood of the Nazarene—I perceived an old man in a suppliant posture, and behind him several women in tears. He threw himself at my feet and wept bitterly. It is painful to see an old man weep. „Father,” said I to him, mildly, „who are you, and what is your request?”
„I am Joseph of Arimathea,” replied he, „and am come to beg of you, upon my knees, the permission to bury Jesus of Nazareth.”
„Your prayer is granted,” said I to him, and at the same ordered Manlius to take some soldiers with him to superintend the interment, lest it should be interfered with.
A few days after, the sepulchre was found empty. His disciples published all over the country that Jesus had risen from the dead, as he had foretold.
A last duty remained to be performed and that was to communicate to the Emperor these deplorable events. I did so on the night that followed the fatal catastrophe, and had just finished the communication when day began to dawn. At that moment the sound of clarions, playing the air of Diana, struck my ear. Casting my eye towards the Caesarean gate, I beheld a troop of soldiers and heard at a distance other trumpets sounding Caesar’s march. It was the reinforcement that had been promised me—two thousand chosen troops who, to hasten their arrival, had marched all night. „It has been decreed by the fates,” cried I, wringing my hands „that the great iniquity should be accomplished, that for the purpose of averting the deed of yesterday, troops should arrive today! Cruel destiny, how thou sportest with the affairs of mortals!” It was but too true, what the Nazarene exclaimed while writhing on the cross: „All is consummated.”
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PHILANTHROPIC VERSUS HUMANITARIAN
When, in our issue of November last, mentioning the work of the Salvation Army for the relief of the poor and degraded classes of Great Britain, we called it a „humanitarian scheme,” we had no thought of charging them with denying our Redeemer’s character, nature, or work. On the contrary, we were commending their philanthropic work for the poor, and should better have used the word philanthropic, as a few misunderstood our expression. On the contrary, we believe that few Christians with the same degree of knowledge revere our Master more.
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„IN THE WINE-PRESS ALONE”
„In the dusk of our sorrowful hours,
The time of our trouble and tears,
With frost at the heart of the flowers,
And blight on the bloom of the years,
Like the mother-voice tenderly hushing
The sound of the sob and the moan,
We hear, when the anguish is crushing,
‚He trod in the wine-press alone.’
„And, therefore, he knows to the utmost
The pangs that the mortal can bear:
No mortal has pain that the Master
Refuses to heal or to share.
And the cries that ascend to the Loving
Who bruised him, for us to atone,
Are hushed at the gentle reproving,
‚He trod in the wine-press alone.’
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„How sudden so e’er the disaster
Or heavy the hand that may smite,
We are yet in the grace of the Master,
We never are out of his sight.
Though the winnowing winds of temptation
May forth from all quarters be blown,
We are sure of the coming salvation—
The Lord will remember his own.
„From him, in the night of his trial,
Both heaven and earth fled away;
His boldest had only denial,
His dearest had only dismay.
With a cloud o’er the face of the Father,
He entered the anguish unknown;
But we, though our sorrows may gather,
Shall never endure them alone.”
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In passing through Europe just at this time and in view of the sure word of prophecy as to what will transpire there shortly, one feels much as he might be expected to feel if he were tenting on the slopes of an active volcano, such as Vesuvius, where the continually rising smoke gives evidence that the elements of destruction are close at hand and may at any moment suddenly devastate the surrounding country.
Indeed, as we looked upon that wonderful mountain, what a type it presented to our minds of the actual condition of the world, and especially of Europe, to-day. Upon its green and pleasant slopes villages are quietly nestled, and the inhabitants go about their daily avocations as if unaware of the awful threat of destruction that continually hovers over them; for above their heads at the mountain’s summit is an immense crater, three thousand feet in diameter, from which proceeds a volume of smoke, while the ruins of the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum at its base are constant reminders of its dreadful power. The traveler, in view of the past as well as of the present impending danger, almost shudders to pass that way, and cannot help wondering at the apparent indifference or unconsciousness of the residents of that locality, who have become accustomed to the sight and forgetful of the past in the bustle
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and confusion of the immediate present.
Just so it is with all Europe. The people are insecurely slumbering on the slopes of an active volcano. The smoldering fires of wrath, of immense proportions, are pent up in the heart of European nations; and here and there an opening is found where they issue forth in volumes that should send the warning alarm to every thinking mind. And indeed they do: but What is to be done? is the question—a question, however, to which there is but one wise solution, a solution which the Word of God suggests, but which men are not yet willing to accept. The Scriptures say, „Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.” (Psa. 2:10.) God’s Word furnishes the only principles which, if put in operation, would avert the dread calamity now impending. But these principles of justice and love will not be accepted until the fearful, but much needed, chastisement shall force upon men of all classes and conditions their necessity as well as their superior value.
At present the national animosities are intense:
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Russia hates Germany with a zeal akin to her hatred of the persecuted Jew; and Germany reciprocates the feeling with equal zeal. France has no more tender feeling toward Germany, and Great Britain comes in for a similar portion. And while the great powers confront and menace each other, the little powers tremble in the balances, fearing them all, so that there is no rest nor security any where. Not only is there bitter international animosity, but in every nation there is a strong under-current of civil strife against the civil, financial and ecclesiastical powers.
It is noticeable, however, that these animosities exist more among the intelligent and well-to-do people abroad than among the very ignorant and miserably poor. Those of the latter class have not sufficient enlightenment to realize their degradation, while those of the former are ambitious to better their condition and scarcely know where to set the bounds of their ambitions. All through Europe, with the exceptions of Russia and Turkey, we were agreeably surprised to find the evidences of thrift and comfort in the home life of the masses of the people. True, the German farmers seem to fancy having their cattle under the same roof with their families, but the proverbial „pig in the parlor” in Ireland we did not find; nor was there a pig visible to the naked eye all the way from Cork to Dublin. Indeed, the majority of Irish emigrants to this country give rather an unfair impression to Americans of the Irish people in general. We were pleased to find there culture and refinement beyond what we had anticipated. Our route through Ireland included Queenstown, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Londonderry, Armagh and the intervening country and smaller towns. Through all that part of the country—the south, north and east—we saw no squalor nor misery, though, of course, there are plenty of poor people and some very humble homes. From all accounts, our impressions of the west coast would have been less favorable, had we found time to go there. The country is very picturesque and has been well named the Emerald Isle, from its ever fresh and beautiful greenness. When, after the monotony of the sea voyage, we first sighted its shores under the glow of a glorious sunset, the picture was indeed beautiful, and can better be imagined than described; and the flocks of graceful seagulls that come out to meet the incoming vessels seemed to be bidding us welcome as they gaily circled round the ship’s masts and then dived down and gracefully floated on the water.
The small Irish steamer that conveyed us from the ocean steamer to the shore at Queenstown was a neat, pretty vessel, tastefully furnished, and landed us in Queenstown a little after 10 P.M. Here, and all through Great Britain and Ireland, they have fine stone docks; the streets are paved with large flag stones and the houses here and all through Ireland, both in the cities and in the country districts, are of stone. Stone walls are also used, both in the cities and in the country, for fences. Those separating farms are low and generally covered with something green. The little farms all over the country look neat and well kept, and the low, one story houses with thatched roofs, whitewashed outside and with a bit of lace at the windows, looked cozy and comfortable, and pretty wild flowers adorned the fields. The country is a continual succession of low hills and valleys, divided into small farms, and presents a pleasing prospect to the eye. The cities of Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Queenstown are flourishing and enterprising. Their good public buildings, private residences, railway stations, thrifty mercantile business, etc., do ample credit to the energy of the Irish people.
We were pleased also to notice the neatness of personal appearance and suavity of manner among the people in general, both in the cities and at every little railway station through the country, as well as in the hotels, railway carriages, etc., and at a fair in Armagh, which we visited specially for the purpose of coming in contact with the various classes of people there from the town and surrounding country. On the whole, our impressions of Ireland were very favorable; and the rosy-cheeked, blue-eyed, flaxen-haired babies of Ireland seemed the prettiest children in the world, until we met some dark eyed beauties of more southern lands, and then it was hard to decide which were prettiest.
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Passing over to Scotland and England, we saw similar evidences of thrift and comfort; though in the large cities, tucked away in the alleys and courts, and up rickety stairways in old tenement houses, are thousands of wretchedly poor people whom the feeble hand of benevolent charity finds it impossible to relieve to any considerable extent. The Scotch are a serious, thoughtful people, though not so lighthearted and happy, apparently, as their Irish neighbors. They are proud of their inheritance in the fame of John Knox, and like to call their country „the land of the Bible and of John Knox.” But we fear this pride has stood much in the way of their advancement in the knowledge of the truth, beyond what was due to the household in John Knox’s day. However, we have great hope for a good harvest yet from Scotland. In England and Scotland the manufacturing towns are closely strewn along the railway lines, and the hum of machinery and the tall smoke-stacks, as well as the cultivated farms with their separating green hedges and neat farm houses, which are of brick in England and of stone in Scotland, tell of an industrious, hard-working, energetic people; while their fine public buildings, private residences, public accomodations, etc., do them credit.
Though we passed through England on our eastward course, we did not tarry there until our return. Then we halted in London and in Liverpool, where we were most of the time among subjects, not of Great Britain, but of the Kingdom of Heaven; and these, together with a few more such in other countries, we need not tell you were, of course, the very cream of Europe—expecting, too, shortly to be skimmed off—so that they are not to be considered as factors in European society, nor representatives of it. But aside from these dear ones in Christ, it was indeed truly refreshing, after our sojourn in the southern countries, to find ourselves again among the polite and cultured English; for no where did we meet so commonly that dignified grace and noble bearing which always characterize true manhood and womanhood. Of course, there are all shades of character in every nation, and, alas, too often outward grace covers some hideous inner deformity; but we refer now to our general impressions of the people as a whole, compared with the peoples of other nations. Nowhere are national characteristics more noticeable than on the great thoroughfares of travel. The polite and careful attention of busy railway officials, toward promiscuous strangers whom they never expect to meet again, is an index of a noble character—an index specially favorable on English soil, not only to the heart but also to the head.
While few English people have a high appreciation of our late McKinley bill, yet there is nevertheless a very fraternal feeling among the masses of the people toward Americans. „Why,” said an English friend at a hotel table one day, „there never could be another war between England and the United States: they are all our brothers and sisters over there.” „Ah,” said another, „America is a fine country, and your people are doing wonders over there.” Again, as we passed out of a street car in London, a stranger who overheard some of our conversation with friends said inquiringly, „Ho! Americans?” „Yes,” we replied; and he reached out his hand and with a hearty shake said, emphatically, „Good luck to you.”
Well, God bless the English people! welled up from our full hearts. His blessing is surer than luck; and we long for the glorious day when they and all men shall begin to realize it.
Passing through Holland—through Rotterdam, Amsterdam, the Hague, and thence across the country to Hanover—we were charmed with the general appearance and friendly courtesy of the Dutch, and must say that the Dutchman stands higher in our estimation than ever before. In these cities we carefully looked for the worst quarters as well as the best and the medium, and we saw no evidence of squalid poverty anywhere. Order and cleanliness seemed to characterize every home, and many of the working people about their daily duties were models of neatness. At hotels, railway stations, or if inquired of on the streets, they were uniformly kind and obliging—we thought specially so to us, because we were foreigners. One pleasant faced little woman with white cap and white
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apron, so commonly worn by working women there, seeing us halt at the wrong corner for a street car and intuitively discerning our English origin, came out of her way to say in broken English—”Cars no stay still here”—and to direct us where to stop. A Professor and his wife from one of the colleges of Amsterdam, whom we met on a train, manifested a similar cordiality. In all Holland we failed to see a single miserably ragged man, woman or child. Yet the thrift and comfort of this life and the earthly prosperity, we fear, are the principal aim of these (in many respects) commendable people.
Amsterdam is a beautiful, quiet, orderly city, with numerous small parks where mothers and children and old people of all classes enjoy the beauties of nature in near proximity to their city homes. It is well supplied with canals, too, which enhance the beauty of the city and at the same time provide a cheap way of transporting goods from place to place within and outside the city. Indeed, the whole country, which, it will be remembered, was reclaimed from the sea and ditched for the purpose of drainage, is beautified by these canals, which separate farms so that no fences are needed, and connect with the cities, and so are of very general advantage, boats being substituted for wagons.
Rotterdam and the Hague are also fine and pleasant cities, and Zutphen is a small but very pretty town with the same air of comfort, etc. The dwellings in the cities, as well as in the country districts, are mainly of small, yellowish brick and quite tasteful, and there is a quiet and refined taste displayed in personal attire as well as in home appointments. With a few exceptions, where certain districts have adopted certain peculiar (though often pretty) costumes and colors, the same styles of clothing prevail there—and indeed, almost all over Europe—as are in vogue here. With a few exceptions—generally in country places—we did not find „loud” colors or uncomely costumes anywhere in Europe.
As soon as we cross the border line from Holland to Germany, we feel at once the different social atmosphere, and are among a people of altogether different tastes, customs and ideas. The country homes are less tasteful. The farmer’s family and his cattle are generally sheltered under the same roof, and the farming is very generally left in the hands of the women, the men and the horses being required for the army and for the pursuits of city life. Comparatively little of the farm work is done by machinery. On market days the country women may be seen by hundreds coming in on the trains with great loads of produce in immense baskets strapped on their backs and often another load on each arm.
We saw one woman at a railway station with one of those large baskets, holding about two bushels, on her back, a half-bushel basket on her left arm and a package in her left hand, while with the right she supported one end of a trunk of which her little girl had the other end. And this was no uncommon thing: the women are literally beasts of burden. Many of them are old, gray-haired women of sixty or more, and often barefoot. It is not uncommon to see an old woman and a dog pulling a cart along the middle of the streets, loaded with milk or with produce and heavy enough for a horse. Yet, neither through the German cities nor through the country districts is there any appearance of want or squalor. The Germans are an industrious people and believe that thrift and economy will keep them out of the ditch; and so it does. Indeed, if it were not for the pluck and enterprise and hard work of the women of Germany, where would be her military glory? Yet, who ever thought of giving any credit to the poor, toiling wives and mothers who cultivate the soil and supply the markets, and thus save the country from famine, in addition to rearing the children, keeping the home and tending the cattle? Yet they seem to do it cheerfully, and no murmurings or strikes or socialistic sentiments come from them. They have bent their backs to the burden, and take it as a matter of course.
In Germany and Austria, some of the principal cities visited were Hanover, Berlin, Wittenburg, Leipsic, Dresden, Prague, Vienna, Cracow, Strasburg, Mayence and Cologne. All of these cities are evidences of German thrift and
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prosperity. Berlin is a magnificent city and its palaces and public buildings are quite imposing, though not comparable with those of Washington, our capital city. Its private dwellings are of a substantial character and of good appearance, but very seldom does one family occupy an entire house. They are rented out in single rooms and suits, the cellars being rented to the poorest class. It is estimated that one in ten of the population of Berlin, or over 100,000 people, live in these cellars.
We were most interested here in its military museum, where the murderous engines of war of every variety, ancient and modern, are displayed. As we viewed this dreadful commentary on man’s inhumanity to man, and thought of the near approach of the terrible conflict of the battle of the great day of God Almighty, in which we are even now living, and of the present threatening attitude of the angry nations, we rejoiced in spirit as by faith we saw above the darkening war cloud the white-winged messenger of peace, commanding that the swords be beaten into plow shares and the spears into pruning hooks. Ah! yes, we said, it must needs be that one more great wave of anguish, as foretold in the Scriptures, shall roll over the world, but it will be the last; for after it the nations shall learn war no more.
Another museum in Berlin displays, in magnificent paintings and elegant statuary, the symbols of Germany’s greatness and power. In the rotunda, over the doors and windows, are the sculptured heads of vanquished enemies, about four times the life size, in the agonies of dying, while on pedestals on all sides stood the German heroes larger than life size. The lofty ceiling was frescoed by a master hand to represent the old emperors of Germany as a Roman Senate in heaven, welcoming Emperor William, who was borne above the clouds by the angels, and extending to him a heavenly crown. The father of the present emperor is also shown as borne by the angels, and seemingly inquiring if he too may have a crown. Then there were dying soldiers on the field of battle also being received into glory. How strange and inconsistent the ideas seemed, compared with the truth. We fear that such hopes will be sadly disappointed when the heavenly crowns are actually awarded. The real conquerors of the world will never rejoice over the dying agonies of vanquished foes. And, thank God, a truer heroism will one day displace these false ideas.
At Wittenburg we visited the former home of Martin Luther, entered his study and sat in his old chair and at his old study table, beside the great old fashioned stove, and handled some of his books. As we went through the various apartments, including the little chapel, and looked out of the old windows upon the same scenes, and then went down to the church upon which Luther defiantly nailed his thirty-nine theses, how vividly it brought to mind those stormy times when the Lord, through the agencies of the Reformers, began to cleanse his sanctuary from the pollutions of Rome. The old church is now undergoing extensive repairs, and the doors have been replaced by new ones of metal, in the panels of which are cast the thirty-nine theses once nailed there. We, dear friends, have great cause for rejoicing to-day that, although the beginners of the great reformation stopped short in the work and went about organizing other systems of error, nevertheless, under divine providence, the cleansing of the sanctuary progressed to completion, and the golden vessels of divine truth are now being replaced in order. (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., Chap. iv.) Our joyous appreciation of „present truth,” which these recollections revived, can better be imagined than described.
In the cities of Germany there is much pleasure-seeking on the part of all classes. Plenty of music and brilliantly lighted beer gardens in every direction present their attractions, and are abundantly patronized by the multitudes. This pleasure-seeking (and finding, too, in their way) together with military zeal and ambition on the part of a very large class, and the continual drudge-life of another class, which, of necessity, must spend all time and thought for the meat that perisheth, appear to crowd the finer sentiments and ambitions into the background, except in the aristocracy, with whom we came little in contact.
MRS. C. T. RUSSELL.
(To be continued in our next issue.)
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TO BE PUBLISHED HEREAFTER IN ADVANCE, AT THE REQUEST OF FOREIGN READERS.
INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES, WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
LESSON VIII., FEBRUARY 21, Jer. 36:19-31
Golden Text—”To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”—Heb. 3:15
The incident of this lesson seems at first sight a very trivial one, but when we look into it more closely it assumes the importance of a solemn warning to a special class under very similar circumstances. Glancing back to the beginning of this chapter, we read that „This word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, ‚Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah (Chap. 1:2) even unto this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.'”
In obedience to this command Jeremiah employed Baruch the scribe to write all the words of this prophecy as he dictated it, and though that roll was burned by the defiant king Jehoiakim, it was re-written by Baruch from the dictation of Jeremiah, and thus it has come down to us. And that it has come down to our day for a purpose, and for the purpose expressed in verse 3, is manifest; for the prophecy is not only against Israel, but „against all the nations.” And glancing back to chapter 25:29-38, we see that the Prophet is foretelling the great time of trouble spoken of by Daniel and by our Lord, which is due to take place in the end or harvest of this Gospel age—a period of forty years, from A.D. 1875 to 1915—in the very midst of which time we are now living, and the signs of which trouble are now manifest to all thinking minds.—See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., Chapter xv.
The Prophet declares that the trouble is to be upon „all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth” (25:26); „for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations.” (25:31.) No trouble that has ever yet come upon the world answers to the many prophetic descriptions of this one, and none has ever yet involved all nations. In chapters 50 and 51 we have the significant prophecies against Babylon—not merely the Babylon of old, although it was included, but especially against Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, which the literal Babylon symbolized—the Babylon of Revelation. And when it is remembered that the Book of Revelation was given as a prophecy of things then future (Rev. 1:1), and that literal Babylon was in ruins centuries before this prophecy concerning mystic Babylon was written, it requires only a little comparison of the two prophecies to show that the major portion of Jeremiah’s pertains to mystic Babylon, and is just about to find its fulfilment upon „Christendom” so-called. Compare Jer. 50:15,29 with Rev. 18:6; Jer. 50:38 with Rev. 16:12; Jer. 50:46 with Rev. 18:9; Jer. 51:6 with Rev. 18:4; Jer. 51:7,8,9 with Rev. 14:8; 17:4; 18:2,5,9,11,19; Jer. 51:13 with Rev. 17:1,15; Jer. 51:33 with Rev. 14:15,18; Jer. 51:37,45,63,64 with Rev. 18:2,4,21.
As we read the words of Jeremiah spoken by divine authority against „Great Babylon”—”Christendom”—and compare them with those of similar import by the Revelator, we call to mind the Lord’s words to the last phase of the Nominal Church—Laodicea, Rev. 3:14—in the midst of which we are living; and while noting the applicability of the description—”knowest not that thou art poor and blind and miserable and naked”—we note also the warning, „I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire [divine truth], that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment [that faith which justifies], that
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thou mayest be clothed and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve [the eyesalve of simplicity and sincerity which will remove the films of prejudice and duplicity], that thou mayest see.”
„As many as I love [as many as are honest and at heart loyal to God] I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent. … To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.” The promise here is to the individuals: the great nominal church systems will not repent and leave the traditions of men for the pure word of God, but the individuals who hearken to the Lord’s voice and obey his word (Rev. 18:4), and thus, by overcoming the influence and power of error, prove their love of the truth and their loyalty to the Lord, will receive the great reward—a share in the kingdom which shall break the chains of error and superstition and sin and „bless all the families of the earth.”—Gal. 3:16,29.
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But the great systems of error, both civil and religious, which in these days join hands to fortify and uphold each other, and which, calling themselves Christian nations and Christian churches, dishonor the Lord and his Word by their false teachings and evil practices, shall feel the righteous indignation of the Lord. It matters not if their great ones follow the example of Jehoiakim in destroying the parchment upon which the words of warning and counsel are written, and if they refuse to believe the testimony of the prophets and apostles against them; the word of the Lord is nevertheless sure; and both the individuals and the systems which despise his word and cast it from them shall feel his hot displeasure, while those who humbly hear and heed shall be blessed.
In view of these things, how appropriate are the words of our golden text—”To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
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LESSON IX., FEBRUARY 28, JEREMIAH 38:1-13
Golden Text—”I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.”—Jer. 1:19
This lesson tells how the faithful Prophet, Jeremiah, was persecuted because he boldly declared the word of the Lord which foretold only trouble upon Israel, and how the government foolishly thought to avert the trouble by persecuting the Lord’s warning messenger, instead of by heeding his wise counsel.
In this the faithful Prophet typified the faithful of the Gospel age who will also suffer persecution in some shape or form, if they boldly declare the whole counsel of God; for, until the Kingdom of God is established in the earth, „all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12; Phil. 1:29.) And the Apostle Paul points those of the Gospel Church, who are running for the prize of our high calling, to the noble, self-sacrificing faithfulness of the ancient worthies who endured so much for their faithfulness to the Lord and his truth.—Heb. 11.
The deliverance promised to Jeremiah in the words of our golden text was not to be a deliverance from persecution or even from death, but merely such protection as would prevent his enemies from prevailing against him to hinder the Lord’s purposes in him. The Lord does not engage to deliver his children from all the ills of this present life. They are permitted to share them with the rest of mankind, and even to suffer injustice and abuse and often martyrdom for righteousness; but if faithful unto death—loyal and true to God and to his truth and to conscience—their glorious deliverance will come at last with an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—those of the Gospel age into the spiritual phase of that kingdom, and those of the Jewish age into the earthly phase of it. During this time in which God’s people pray, „Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven,” they, as its representatives, suffer violence as foretold (Matt. 11:12); and as it was with the Master, so it is with his followers, the violence comes more from worldly-spirited ones in the nominal church than from the open rejecters of God.
As with the Master, so with the true followers, the persecutions may be more open and more severe at some times than at others, but no radical and complete change may be expected until the kingdom is the Lord’s and he is the governor among the nations. (Psa. 22:28.) „Then shall the righteous [the wheat of this Gospel age] shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matt. 13:43.) No longer shall they suffer the scorn, contempt and opprobrium of the world with Christ (2 Tim. 2:12; Rom. 8:17), but they shall be glorified with him as joint-heirs with him in his kingdom which shall bless the whole world, including those who ignorantly persecute them now, and bringing all to a clear knowledge of the truth.
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THE DOWNFALL OF JUDAH
LESSON X., MARCH 6, JEREMIAH 39:1-10
Golden Text—”Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”—Matt. 23:38
In this lesson we have an exhibition of the severity of God’s dealings with his covenant people when, notwithstanding the Lord’s repeated expostulations, warnings and chastisements, they wilfully pursued a course in violation of their national vows. Israel, unlike any other nation of the world, was brought into special relationship with God. God chose them to be his people, and favored them above all other people, by giving them his law, by raising up for them judges and prophets, and by specially guarding and directing them in so far as they submitted to his will, as well as by warning, counseling and chastising them when they became wilful and disobedient.
On the other hand, Israel, as a nation, entered into a solemn covenant with the Lord, saying, „All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.” (Exod. 19:1-8.) For the faithful keeping of this covenant God promised them all manner of earthly blessings—blessings in the city, blessings in the field, blessings of a numerous offspring and of the increase of their cattle and their flocks, blessings of their basket and
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store, and ample protection from all their national enemies. (Deut. 28:1-14; Lev. 26:1-13.) But if they would disregard their covenant, corresponding curses were pronounced against them. If they walked contrary to him the Lord declared his intention to walk contrary to them.—Deut. 28:15-68; Lev. 26:14-46.
It was in fulfilment of this covenant on God’s part that the events of this lesson came to pass. Judah, like backsliding Israel (the ten tribes), which had been previously carried away captives (2 Kings 17:1-24), had not profited by that example of the Lord’s displeasure, nor by the warnings of his prophets, but had out-rivaled her sister in corruption (Jer. 3:8); and now her cup of iniquity was full and the Lord poured upon her her merited punishment, due alike to king and people; for „neither Zedekiah, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the Lord which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah.”
The seventy years which followed the overthrow here depicted are frequently referred to as the seventy years captivity, but the Scriptures designate them the seventy years desolation of the land—a desolation which had been predicted by the prophet Jeremiah (25:11), saying, „And this whole land shall be a desolation, and this nation shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” The completeness of the desolation is shown in verses 8 and 9 of this lesson and also in 2 Chron. 36:17-21; and although the king of Babylon allowed certain of the poor of the land to remain, and gave them vineyards and fields, yet it was the Lord’s purpose that the land of Israel should be desolate seventy years, and so it was. In the same year Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had made governor and under whom many of the Jewish fugitives were disposed to return from neighboring countries, was assassinated, and the entire population speedily removed into Egypt for fear of the wrath of the king of Babylon.—2 Kings 25:21-26; Jer. 41:1-3; 43:5,6.
The reason why the land must be desolate, and that for exactly seventy years, is a very interesting study, and it is clearly stated to be—”To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath to fulfill threescore and ten  years.” (2 Chron. 36:21.) For a full explanation of this see MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chap. vi. The significance of the seventy years desolation is shown on page 191.
To consider the subject of this lesson merely as a scrap of history and to draw a moral lesson therefrom is to fail, utterly, of getting its true significance. It should be considered in its relationship to the great plan of God in which it was a clearly marked and important step.
(1) It marks the beginning of the great Jubilee cycle.
(2) It marks the close of God’s typical kingdom, of which Zedekiah was the last king, and concerning whom it was prophesied: „And thou, death-deserving wicked one, prince of Israel, whose day is come at the time of the iniquity of the end [or termination of the typical Kingdom of God]—Thus saith the Lord Eternal, Remove the mitre, and take off the crown: this shall not be so always; exalt him that is low, and make low him that is high. Overthrown, overthrown, overthrown will I render it also, and it shall not belong (to any one), until he come whose right it is, and I will give
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it him.”—Ezek. 21:31,32.—Leeser’s translation.
(3) It marks the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles, concerning which our Lord said, „Jerusalem shall [continue to] be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” [or completed].—Luke 21:24.
Nearly twenty-five hundred years have elapsed since Zedekiah lost his crown; and every scattered Israelite throughout the world realizes that not another king of the house of David, in which centered all the promises, has ever since been upon the throne. Many of them are convinced that they will not have another until Messiah shall take to himself his great power and reign. Yet they see not that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised one. The eyes of their understanding are yet blinded by prejudice. They see not that the heir of the throne must come from the seed of David, although they are witnesses that since the rejection of Jesus the genealogies which previously were sacredly cared for have been lost, and none have been kept for centuries by which they could distinguish an heir to David’s throne. In fact, all tribal and family relationships are now obliterated among the Jews. But, thank God, the morning of the restitution age is dawning, and in that day their blindness will be healed and they will recognize the fact that the one whom they pierced is both the son and the Lord of David, and the one whose right it is, to take the throne and to fulfil all the gracious promises of God.
While the Jews have been thus unbelieving of God’s Word and ignorant of the steps of his great plan, the other nations have erred in another way. Seeing Israel’s kingdom cut off, and finding themselves for centuries uninterfered with in ruling the world, they conclude that it shall so continue always, and know not that their days of empire are limited to „seven times” or 2520 years, which will end in A.D.
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1915, giving place to the Kingdom of God in the hands of the Messiah—him whose right it is to rule the world, and through whose kingdom all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Even the majority of the Christian people who throughout the civilized world study this lesson, and who for years have prayed, „Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven,” have no expectation that he who redeemed the world is yet to be its veritable ruler, taking the kingly scepter and crown of which those removed from Zedekiah were only the types, and reorganizing God’s Kingdom „under the whole heavens” of which the kingdom of Israel was but a figure.
The Golden Text has no direct reference to the lesson, although connected with the same divine plan. It marks another step in that plan. When the seventy years of desolation were ended, God opened the way for the return to the land of promise of all those Israelites who had faith in his promises; yet under such difficulties and trials as served to sift and test them. But although they tried often to re-establish their own government, they were not permitted so to do, but were continually „overturned” between the several successive empires of gentile times. Nevertheless God kept them together as a people until Christ came (Gen. 49:10), that as a people they should have the first opportunity to accept him and come into the higher favor of the New Covenant.
It was after the Savior and his disciples had for three and a half years proclaimed the Kingdom at hand, and ready to be given them if they were ready to accept it properly (and when, rejecting it, they were crying out „Crucify him”), that the time came for the utter desolation of that nation as a people in the words of the golden text. There was the great turning point in Israel’s history. The desolation of the land for seventy years and the removal of the crown and kingdom for 2520 years was a great calamity, but the leaving of the house utterly desolate as a result of their rejecting and crucifying the King has been far worse, themselves being the witnesses.
Meantime what the nation of Israel rejected was accepted by a remnant of that people (Rom. 11:7) and the foreordained number is being completed from among the gentiles—a people for his name—the Bride and joint-heir of the King of Glory. Soon this „little flock” will be complete, the union of Bridegroom and Bride will follow, and then the Kingdom of God will come in power and great glory; and fleshly Israel will be first of the nations to realize its Millennial blessings.—Rom. 11:20-33.
These various topics are fully discussed in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., Chapters xiii. and xiv., and Vol. II., Chapters iv., v. and vi.
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PROMISE OF A NEW HEART
LESSON XI., MARCH 13, EZEK. 36:25-38
Golden Text—”A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.”—Ezek. 36:26
In our last lesson we saw Judah in distress, her crown removed, her holy city and temple in ruins, and her people given to the sword and to captivity. The expostulations and warnings of the prophet Jeremiah had not availed to turn them from their evil course, and consequently the wrath of God was visited upon them, as it had been previously visited upon her sister Samaria (the ten tribes). But although multiplied were their iniquities and their crimes, the Lord did not utterly cast away his people, but in great mercy remembered them, even in the land of their captivity, where he was represented in their midst by the prophet Ezekiel, who for twenty-two years delivered unto them the Word of the Lord—words of reproof and denunciation, and also words of promise and hope, of which those of this lesson are a pleasing sample. As we peruse these words of promise and call to mind the miserable idolatries, licentiousness and ingratitude of this hard-hearted and stiff-necked people, let us not fail to mark the loving kindness of our God, his mercy and faithfulness, his slowness to anger and his plenteous grace. And while we do so, let us not forget the typical character of his dealings with Israel—that in chastising and correcting and forgiving and restoring and promising to bless and fully re-instate them in his favor, he is illustrating his great love and mercy and his everlasting kindness toward the whole world whom he so loved as to give his only begotten Son to redeem, and whom he purposes in due time to bring to a knowledge of the truth and to a full opportunity, under the most favorable conditions, of securing everlasting life. (1 Tim. 2:4-6.) The final restoration and blessing of Israel here predicted is only the first-fruits of that abundant grace which is in store for all the world, to be manifested in due time.
This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, but clearly relates to the final restoration of Israel to the land of promise and to the favor of God, when the long period of their chastisement unmixed with favor (Jer. 16:13-18) is ended, and when he who redeemed all and „whose right it is” to reign over Israel and the world shall have come again and taken the dominion.
The words of the Prophet previous to the promises of blessing in this lesson (verses 16-24)
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recall the numerous sins of Israel as the cause for their dispersion among the heathen, and remind them of how they had brought disgrace upon the name of the Lord in all the countries whither they went, and that they have no claim upon the mercy and forbearance of God. But, notwithstanding all this, he declares the Lord’s purpose to gather them out from among the heathen, and out of all the countries, into their own land, and „then” to cleanse and bless them; and in this great exhibition of his forbearance and love to a notoriously stiff-necked and rebellious house, to exalt his great name among the nations—a name in which they, as well as Israel, may safely trust, since the ample provisions of his plan are for the salvation of all, of whatever tribe or nation, who trust and obey him when brought to the full knowledge of the truth.
Verse 24. „For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.” This unquestionably refers to the literal and final regathering of Israel to Palestine—the land which God promised to Abraham, saying, „Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever.” (Gen. 13:14,15; 17:8.) It is the land of which Stephen said (Acts 7:5) Abraham never owned a foot, but in the confident hope of which he died. Such a promise, made to Abraham, as well as to his seed, and made by God who cannot lie, and which Abraham never realized before he died, manifestly implies the resurrection of Abraham, as well as of that large proportion of his seed which has gone down into the grave, in order to the receiving of the land. Nor was „the land” here used in a mystical sense: it was plainly—”all the land which thou seest,” and, as stated in Gen. 17:8, „the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan.”
Such an interpretation of this promise is amply supported by the Prophet in the succeeding chapter (37:12-14), where he says, „Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, O my people [Israel—verse 11], I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I Jehovah have spoken it and performed it, saith Jehovah.” It is also in perfect harmony with the words of Paul and of our Lord Jesus—”There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” „Marvel not at
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this: for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice [the voice of the Son of Man], and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment”*—trial.—Acts 24:15; John 5:28,29.
*The Greek word krisis here rendered „damnation” in the Common Version is more properly „judgment” in the Revised Version and in the Emphatic Diaglott. The same Greek word is translated „judgment” in thirty-nine instances, and in only two others is it rendered „damnation”—a word to which modern theology has attached the unwarrantable idea of eternal torment, but which otherwise signifies simply judgment or trial, including, of course, the result or sentence, to either life or death, at its close.
This great regathering of all Israel to the land of promise, which shall by and by include their risen dead as well as the living, is already begun in the remarkable exodus thither of their living representatives which is attracting the attention of the whole civilized world. And God’s expressed purpose of driving and gathering them out of all the lands whither he had scattered them (Jer. 16:15) is being accomplished in this our day.
It is on this promise of the receiving again of Israel into divine favor that Paul bases an argument for the resurrection of the world, saying, „If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world [the breaking down of the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile (which previously excluded the Gentiles from any share in the typical reconciliation, effected for Israel only under their Law Covenant), and the opening of the New Covenant to all—to the Jew first and also to the Gentile] what shall the receiving of them [back to divine favor] be [imply] but life from the dead” [—a resurrection of the dead ones]? (Rom. 11:15.) It will imply that the whole world, of which Israel is to be a first-fruit, is shortly to receive the gracious opportunity of restitution or resurrection which the death of Christ purchased, and which the exaltation and glorious reign of Christ and the Church shall accomplish.
If some think they have reason still to doubt the restitution of wicked Israel, the first-fruits, and of the wicked world (whom they represented in type) back to divine favor and life and to the possession of the earth for an everlasting inheritance, let them turn to Ezek. 16:46-63 and see how God promises to restore even the wicked Sodomites; and let them remember also the word of the Lord Jesus (Matt. 10:15), that in that day of judgment when he is governor over the nations „it will be more tolerable for Sodom” than for Israel—the chastisement
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and discipline necessary to their restoration to righteousness will be less severe for them than for some who are of the natural lineage of Abraham.
Verse 25. „Then will I sprinkle clean water [pure truth and righteous influences] upon you, and ye shall be clean. From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” There will be no desire, nor incentive, nor temptation to idolatrous worship then. Satan shall be bound and shall deceive the nations no more, and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth.
Verse 26 promises a new heart—a heart of flesh, subject to the blessed influences of truth and righteousness, and no longer callous and indifferent alike to the appeals of love and the claims of justice. The word „new” might properly be translated renewed or repaired as the same word is frequently rendered. The heart or disposition of man was not hard and bitter and selfish originally: when fresh, newly created, he was declared to be the image of the God of love. Sin, disobedience, brought the penalty, death, which has impaired the image of God, and in every way degraded man. (Rom. 5:12.) The creating of man was a momentary act, but the re-creating, the re-generation, the re-newing, the re-storing of his heart will be a gradual work and will require and have the Millennial age or times of restitution for its accomplishment. (Acts 3:19-21; Matt. 19:28.) The creation of Adam, and the race provided for in him, was without choice to the creatures; but while the way, the truth and the life of regeneration are provided for all freely, in Christ, none will be regenerated contrary to his own will and choice. God in Christ has paid the penalty of Adam’s sin for him and all in him, and has provided the coming times of restitution in which to make known his favor to every creature, through the Church, selected during the Gospel age. But after he has made the provision for all, only those who accept of those New Covenant favors will be recognized by him as „my people.”
Verse 27 promises that the spirit of God and of Christ, the spirit of love, as distinguished from the spirit of selfishness, shall dwell in them to inform and assist them to do right. He will cause them to walk in his statutes—inclining and enabling them to be obedient.
Verses 28-30 promise the divine protection and cleansing and abundant provisions of corn and fruit and the increase of the field, and no more famine while the restored Israelites dwell safely in the land which God gave unto their fathers. Let us not forget, however, the double application of this prophecy. As Israel signifies those who are blessed and favored of God and includes all such, with the natural seed as a first-fruit, so the land of Israel in its larger sense will be the renewed earth, Paradise restored.
Verses 31 and 32 remind the restored ones of their unworthiness of all these favors—the free, unmerited gifts of God, and show the confusion and shame and repentance of all who will constitute the Israel referred to.
Verses 33-35 declare that the long barren and desolate land of Palestine shall be cultivated, inhabited, its cities rebuilt, and made so flourishing that those who pass through it then shall say, „This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden”—and the entire earth shall blossom as the rose.
Verse 36 shows that as these blessings progress, all will be witnesses of God’s faithful goodness to his people.
Verses 37 and 38 point out the necessity for co-operation on the part of any who would enjoy the blessings promised—prayer being a token of the soul’s sincere desire—and promises the remarkable increase of the Lord’s holy flock at that time. This reminds us of the words of our Lord, „Other sheep I have that are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16.) Every soul that longs for the truth is one of the Lord’s lost sheep; and every such one will be found during the Millennial age, and will be brought into harmony with all God’s sheep in heaven and on earth. All will be consecrated to the Lord and all will walk in his ways. And so changed will be the public sentiment of that day, that even upon the bells of the horses will be inscribed, „Holiness unto the Lord.” (Zech. 14:20.) Blessed assurance! Glorious day! when not only Israel, the first fruits, but all who are feeling after righteousness and the true God shall be recovered from present blindness; and, recognizing the reign of Christ begun, shall say, „Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Jehovah.” For evidence of its close proximity see MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., The Time Is At Hand.
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