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VOL. XXIX JANUARY 15. No. 2
A.D. 1908—A.M. 6036
The Cincinnati, O., Debates………………….. 19
Reports from Harvest-Fields Abroad……………. 20
Great Britain…………………………… 20
Berean Bible Study in Tabernacle Shadows………. 23
What Constitutes Teaching?…………………… 23
A Plea for the Sisters…………………… 23
A More Excellent Way…………………….. 24
Cleansing the Temple………………………… 25
Regeneration and the Kingdom…………………. 27
An Interesting Letter……………………….. 31
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LETTERS FOR THE EDITOR SHOULD BE SENT TO ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS AND REMITTANCES
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PRICE, $1.00 (4S.) A YEAR IN ADVANCE.
MONEY MAY BE SENT BY EXPRESS, BANK DRAFT, POSTAL ORDER, OR REGISTERED.
FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS, ONLY.
TERMS TO THE LORD’S POOR AS FOLLOWS:—
All Bible Students who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for this Journal, will be supplied FREE if they send a Postal Card each June stating their case and requesting its continuance. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually and in touch with the Studies, etc.
ENTERED AS SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER AT ALLEGHENY, PA., POST OFFICE.
THIS JOURNAL IS PUBLISHED IN THE
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SAMPLE COPIES FREE.
FRIENDS USING „MISSIONARY ENVELOPES” will please put their return address on corner for return if not called for. This will save you and us and the P.O. annoyance.
THE WOMAN’S NATIONAL DAILY
The number of the friends subscribing for this cheap daily through us was not nearly as large as we had expected. Hence Brother Russell’s sermons are not appearing in it regularly, as proposed. Sorry, for it meant a wide circulation of the Truth weekly. A kind card to the Editor of the National Daily from each one who has subscribed might help.
CANADIAN FRIENDS DESIRING SERMONS WEEKLY
Arrangements have been made for Brother Russell’s sermons weekly in The Toronto World. We can give a clubbing rate of $1.50 per year (or, with TOWER, $2.50), except in the cities of Hamilton and Toronto, where the price will be $2.75, with TOWER, $3.75. Make up your lists speedily and send to us.
„STUDIES,” INDIA PAPER EDITION
We now have India STUDIES, Vols. 4, 5 and 6. Back orders will have attention at once. Price, 85c each. The first three volumes will be announced later—when in stock.
NO DEBATE WITH DR. DILLON
Rev. Wm. Dillon, D.D., found it impossible to keep his appointment at Elkhart, Ind., and so notified us in advance of the date set.
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THE CINCINNATI, O., DEBATES
SOME time ago the Editor of this journal was approached by Elder A. A. Bunner, who urged a debate on six questions of difference. We replied that we were too busy, and, besides, preferred to state the Truth and leave it to the people—particularly as we now have the eyes of nearly a million readers every week. He demurred, and finally we agreed to debate with him if he could get the endorsement of the Christian denomination of Pittsburgh. He was unable to do this. He explained that the „Disciples” hereabouts are known as Progressives, while he is attached to the Radical wing of the same denomination.
The matter was finally taken up by the Editor of The Leader and the Way of the same faith. He found in Texas Elder L. S. White, supposed to be one of the ablest men of their connection. We have mutually agreed upon all the particulars for six debates at Cincinnati, O., in which we trust the Truth will be vindicated and caused to reach new ears and eyes. The entire „Disciple” Church seems to be aroused. It is expected that some of the railroads will grant concessional rates of fare. Probably some Cincinnati newspaper will publish stenographic reports of the debates. The following copies of correspondence may be of interest:
Dallas, Tex., Nov. 15, 1907
ELD. C. T. RUSSELL, Allegheny, Pa.
Dear Sir and Brother:—Our correspondence has been delightfully pleasant (for which I am truly grateful), and as we are agreed on all details for the coming discussion, am sending you copy of all the propositions we are to discuss, properly signed by myself, and hereby extend to you, as per your request, formal invitation to meet me in the discussion of these propositions in Cincinnati, Ohio, beginning Sunday evening, February 23, 1908, and continuing six consecutive evenings, of two hours each, with one evening to each proposition. I suggest that you make due announcement in your paper. I also trust that the discussion may be in the same good spirit of our correspondence, and that the same may redound to the glory of God.
Truly and fraternally, (Signed), L. S. WHITE.
PROPOSITIONS FOR DISCUSSION IN CINCINNATI, OHIO,
BEGINNING SUNDAY EVENING (7.30), FEBRUARY 23, 1908, FOR SIX CONSECUTIVE EVENINGS:
(1) The Scriptures clearly teach that all hope of salvation, today, is dependent upon accepting the Gospel of Christ as revealed in the Scriptures, and that such acceptance is confined to this present life.
(Signed) L. S. WHITE, affirms.
C. T. RUSSELL, denies.
(2) The Scriptures clearly teach that the dead are unconscious between death and the resurrection—at the second coming of Christ.
(Signed) C. T. RUSSELL, affirms.
L. S. WHITE, denies.
(3) The Scriptures clearly teach that the punishment of the (finally incorrigible) wicked will consist of conscious, painful suffering, eternal in duration.
(Signed) L. S. WHITE, affirms.
C. T. RUSSELL, denies.
(4) The Scriptures clearly teach that the First Resurrection will occur at the second coming of Christ, and that only the saints of this Gospel Age will share in it; but that in the resurrection of the unjust (Acts 24:15) vast multitudes of them will be saved.
(Signed) C. T. RUSSELL, affirms.
L. S. WHITE, denies.
(5) The Scriptures clearly teach that immersion in water, „in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit,” of a believing penitent is for, in order to, the remission of sins.
(Signed) L. S. WHITE, affirms.
C. T. RUSSELL, denies.
(6) The Scriptures clearly teach that the second coming of Christ will precede the Millennium; and that the object of both—the second coming and the Millennium
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—is the blessing of all the families of the earth.
(Signed) C. T. RUSSELL, affirms.
L. S. WHITE, denies.
Allegheny, Pa., Nov. 26, 1907
ELDER L. S. WHITE, Dallas, Tex.
Dear Sir and Brother:—I am in receipt of your formal invitation to a public discussion of our doctrinal differences along Scriptural lines. I accept the invitation, with the assurances of the Editor of the Leader and the Way, that you are a widely known and highly respected representative of the Radical branch of the Christian or Disciple denomination, and yourself a Christian gentleman.
I, too, have enjoyed the spirit of Christian courtesy
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which has pervaded our correspondence, leading up to the final statement of the propositions to be discussed. I share with you the hope you express, that the result of our meeting may be to the glory of God and to the enlightenment, and therefore the blessing, of his people.
I might here remark respecting the first proposition, that I accept it as you prefer to have it, but only with the understanding that it is not two propositions, but one; for I would not be prepared to deny the first part of the same, „That the Scriptures clearly teach that all hope of salvation today is dependent upon the acceptance of the Gospel of Christ, as revealed in the Scriptures.” I continually affirm that, but it is the after part of this proposition that I deny, viz., „That such acceptance is confined to this present life.”
Your letter makes no reference to chairmen for the six sessions. I shall assume, therefore, that you will agree to my previous suggestion, viz., that the duties of the chairman shall consist in preserving order, and in notifying each speaker as to the termination of his limit of time; and that, if possible, ministers of Cincinnati, of various outside denominations, be secured as chairmen—if possible, a different one for each session. Your letter, while stating that the discussion shall be limited to two hours at each session, offers no suggestion respecting the division of the time. I shall assume this to be an oversight, and that my previous suggestion on this subject has your approval, viz., that the first fifty minutes shall be at the disposal of the affirmative; the second fifty at the disposal of the negative, to be followed by ten minutes for the affirmative and then ten minutes for the negative.
As respects rules for the controversy: I suggest that each speaker be allowed full liberty to order his subject according to his best judgment, and that it shall be in order for him to present his argument as may please him best. The language and conduct of each of the disputants shall represent to his opponent and the auditors in general his conception of the divine rules and standards governing Christian courtesy.
With Christian regards and prayers for divine guidance of us both in the interests of truth,
Yours in the Lord, C. T. RUSSELL.
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REPORTS FROM HARVEST-FIELDS ABROAD
REPORT FROM GREAT BRITAIN, 1907
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
I have now the pleasure of sending the report of the British work for the past financial year. You will see that this year we are able to show a general increase in the work. We are glad to do this, not only because it is more pleasant than if we had to report decrease, but because it shows that the work of the Lord goes forward, and that there is yet much opportunity to work in the Harvest field. A review of the work and the prospects show that there is, apparently, an almost unlimited field for the „harvesters,” and unlimited scope for their energies; the fields are „white unto harvest,” and there are but few months for the reaping. Of late we have had abundant proof that the multitudes will listen to the message of the Kingdom and to the various features of the Plan; they are glad to have the „stones gathered out” of the way. The year has been one of continued activity, and, with the exception of the shortage of books we have experienced, there have been no hindrances. When you come next year you will find very much to give you cheer and encouragement, and grateful and willing hearts who share with you in the joys and sorrows of the harvesting.
This year we are able to report an increase in the circulation of the DAWNS and STUDIES. We have sold nearly 8,000 more books, and this would have been increased to nearly 10,000 but for the shortage. The greater portion of the increase is in Vol. I., but a good proportion is in Vols. II., III., through some of the Colporteurs selling sets of three or six. There is a great mining and manufacturing population yet in almost absolute ignorance of the Truth, and the small towns and villages of England are yet as virgin soil to the workers. During the year the possibility of a colporteur of good address being able to dispose of the books in difficult ground, and that in sufficient numbers as to provide a living, has been proved several times; while in the ordinary way the average colporteur can always get on. There is no reason for a person of good address and a readiness of manner failing in the work of a colporteur, nor for thinking that there is any part of this country where the work cannot be made self-supporting.
The visit of Brother Williamson was specially enjoyed and it did much to cement the already close relationship between us and our brethren in America. The Conventions were happy and good times, and were surely blessed of the Lord.
You will see that the „Volunteer” work has gone on about as usual, and that the British friends show much activity in this work. We have yet a good supply of tracts upon which the brethren can call, and we shall be glad to have them make request.
The donation to the TRACT FUND is not quite so high as last year’s total: it is good to share in the joys of the dear brethren in their giving to the Lord whether of means or of service. I continually thank the Lord for the privilege of being used to serve with them in this way.
The meetings all over the land seem to grow in zeal for the work, and we would that this should be the case with us all, and that at the same time we may grow in the grace of the Lord. While so much waits to be done it is a pity to spend any energy of mind or body in that which is merely wasted in the doing. The Lord gives us the privilege of building up each other, and thus of building up that holy city, and also of witnessing to the world, and we can do these things only as we are intent upon the work. May his grace help us to bind ourselves upon the altar and thus to each other and to the Lord.
With brotherly love and affection, and conveying the love of the British brethren,
I am yours in his grace, J. HEMERY.
SUMMARY OF THE BRITISH WORK FOR 1907
Total number of DAWN-STUDIES sold at cost……… 34,575
” Booklets, Manna, etc. ” ……… 7,876
” Tracts distributed free…………… 1,394,500
” ” stated in pages…………….35,933,000
” Letters received…………………. 8,130
” ” sent out…………………. 6,825
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FINANCIAL STATEMENT, 1907
Cost of tracts distributed free, including L. s. d.
postage, freight, etc………………………1,564 6 4
The above, stated in U.S. money………$7,556.20
Pilgrim and Convention expenses……………… 109 2 7
The above, stated in U.S. money………..$527.11
Totals……………………….$8,083.31, or 1,673 0 11
Tract Fund and „Good Hopes”………$4,179.77 or 861 4 7
Deficit for 1907……………….. 3,820.13 or 811 4 7
REPORT FROM GERMANY, 1907
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
By the Lord’s grace we have reached the end of another year of harvest work in Germany, ending Nov. 1st, and it seems only too short a period to have accomplished very much. At least we could wish it had been a great deal more, but we know it is a day of small things which the Lord does not despise. Neither will we think little of the possible blessing he is abundantly able to give to the large quantities of tracts scattered all over Germany. We no doubt see only a small fraction of it in our mails: much of it will no doubt be seen later, when the seed sown on the „dry land” will be plowed in by the great time of trouble impending and afterward caused to sprout by the showers of blessings and times of refreshing from the presence of the
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Lord. We take courage and lift up our heads in rejoicing, knowing that deliverance is nigh for the world as well as for God’s people. The great Adversary seems to be aware of it here in Germany, and is stirring up the most religious bodies of Christian people and deceiving them with his imitation „speaking in tongues,” and the secular press is not slow to make light of it and to reproach Christianity as the source of this unchristian spirit. The intelligent Christian public is fast drifting into open infidelity or what they are pleased to call a religion—”Monism”—the disbelief of the supernatural and of the future existence of the individual. An organization under this name has rapidly gained thousands of members and is flooding the country with highly enticing and well-written leaflets. Surely it seems that the devil and his angels are fighting hard, but we have the assurance of the Scriptures that our Lord will be victorious, and that Satan will be bound for the thousand years. Praise God and his well-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus!
Following is a brief statement of the literature circulated during this year, and a financial statement of the Volunteer, Tract and Pilgrim Work:—
DAWNS, BOOKLETS, TOWERS AND TRACTS DISTRIBUTED
DAWN Volumes, cloth…………………………. 2,556
Vol. I., TOWER form…………………………. 4,000
Copies German TOWER, monthly…………………. 1,800
” ” ” for year………………… 21,600
8 page Volunteer Tracts……………………… 4,000,000
8-page TOWERS………………………………. 30,000
16-page ” ………………………………. 16,700
Total in tract pages…………………………41,521,600
Letters and cards received…………………… 4,254
” ” sent out…………………… 2,550
FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE TRACT & PILGRIM WORK
Printing, postage, freight, etc……………Mks. 33,340.05
Pilgrim expenses………………………… ” 1,524.12
Rent, light, heat, living expense of office force…….Mks. 4,064.14
Total…………………………………. ” 38,928.31
Receipts, Tract Fund, from friends in Germany……….. ” 6,034.80
Deficiency supplied by the home office, ———
Allegheny…………………….($7,832.26) ” 32,893.51
I should remark with regard to the above amount of cash received from America in the interest of the Lord’s work in Germany, that the friends generally are very appreciative of this generous help and the self-sacrificing it implies on the part of their American brethren. They feel like saying: Be assured, your labor of love is not in vain in the Lord’s cause.
We notice with gladness your great conventions in America, and long for that greatest Convention of all, beyond the vail. But while we still sojourn here, we are glad to have what seasons of refreshing the Lord sees best to grant us, and so we are looking forward with much pleasure to your proposed visit in the spring. May the Lord prosper you and all of his dear people in his service, and help us all to finish the work he has given us to do. And may God, our Father, according to his own good pleasure, now in the end of the age, glorify his dear Son, our Lord, and with him his Elect, to the end that his own holy name may be glorified.—John 17:1-3.
We all send much love in the Lord to you and your co-laborers one and all.
Your brother in the blessed service, O. A. KOETITZ.
AUSTRALASIAN REPORT, 1907
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
Another year of opportunities and privileges in the Harvest service has closed, and the report of the Society’s Australasian Branch is due.
As we consider the events of the past twelve months, we feel constrained to acknowledge, with gratitude to the Lord and appreciation of the zeal and energy of his people, that some progress has been made in bringing the Harvest message to the attention of God’s people in this part of the „field;” yet we could wish that more energy had been used, more zeal displayed and perhaps more accomplished. The time is short and shortening, but the dimensions of the „field” show no signs of decrease.
The Colporteurs have been blessed and a blessing during the past year. As shown in the summary, a few hundred more cloth-bound volumes were put out than during the year before. This increase would doubtless have run into thousands, had we not been deprived, during the greater portion of the time, of the labors of three very efficient workers. There are signs of others about to engage in the service, and we may still pray for more laborers. As heretofore, a goodly proportion of the newly interested have been found by the colporteurs.
The Volunteers have been considerably more active than formerly, in some directions, in methodical free tract distribution. Nearly twice as many tracts were distributed this year as last, totalling over nine and a half millions of pages. Naturally, our figures are small, compared with those for other English-speaking countries; at the same time, we take a little comfort in the thought that only about
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one-fortieth (perhaps less) of the total number of Z.W.T. readers live in Australasia, and that if we circulate one-fortieth of the total number of DAWN-STUDIES and free tracts by colporteuring, volunteering and otherwise in this territory, we are at least keeping in line with the rest of you in this respect. Yet we know that more, much more, can be done here, so we feel free to exhort the friends to „work while it is called day.” The Lord has done much for us; at best we can do but little for him.
There is some increase in the voluntary donations, too, yet not sufficient to keep pace with Tract Fund expenditures, to say nothing of overtaking our deficit. But as it was in former times, so it is now and here—”not many rich” have been called. Nevertheless, we are glad to testify to an increasing appreciation of this feature of the service of Present Truth by those who are able to take part in it, and this without exhortation of any sort.
It was the writer’s privilege to visit the brethren in Adelaide and Western Australia last June, a journey of about 5,000 miles, and we hope to make other visits during the coming year.
Desiring a continued interest in your prayers and in those of the brethren everywhere in behalf of the work and workers in this part of the vineyard, I remain, dear brother,
Yours in the Redeemer’s service, E. C. HENNINGES.
AUSTRALASIAN BRANCH SUMMARY
Copies of DAWNS and STUDIES………………….. 21,903
” TOWER-DAWNS……………………….. 1,220
” Booklets………………………….. 1,315
Copies of Tracts and Z.W.T. sent free…………. 418,450
These represent in tract pages……………….. 9,509,000
Letters and cards received…………………… 1,864
” ” ” sent………………………. 3,843
L. s. d.
Deficit from last year………………………. 606 17 1
Printing, paper, postage, freight (in and out), rent, gas, etc……. 161 4 11
Pilgrim work……………………………….. 43 17 0
Total…………………………………….. 811 19 0
Voluntary donations from Australasia
Good Hopes realized………………..L. 31 17 11
From other sources………………… 136 13 2
——-—168 11 1
Deficit owing to Head Office………………… 643 7 11
REPORT FROM JAMAICA, 1907
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
Once again we have the pleasure of sending you a general report of the work—for the year 1907.
We are glad to note how our hearts are growing in thankful appreciation, while the loving kindness of our God toward us is ever increasing. Indeed the year’s experiences remind us of the general conventions—the last is the best. And considering that wine (the fruit of the vine) symbolizes the spiritual refreshment of the Lord’s people on this side the vail, as well as the „glory to follow” (Matt. 26:29), we are thinking that the incident at the marriage in Cana might be a suggestion that we should expect the last to be the best until we drink it new.
The Pilgrim service has been more extensive than last year and has done much to establish the Lord’s people in out-of-the-way places; indeed, we are realizing more and more how important a part it plays in assisting us to put on
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the whole armor of God to withstand the temptations of this „evil day.”
The amount of work done for the year is as follows:—
Total Pilgrim visits………………………… 53
Total miles traveled………………………… 2426
Public meetings…………………………….. 10
Home meetings………………………………. 212
According to the present outlook this will be the most important service for the year begun.
The Colporteur service has circulated over 600 volumes more than last year, and this we consider as doing very well, when we take into account the earthquake, the eight months drought following and the resulting financial depression. These have produced much starvation in various parts of the island and the scarcity of food is still felt.
The number engaged in the Colporteur service during the year was 24, eight of whom devoted all of their time. Some of these and many others who did „sharpshooting” were stimulated to enter the service by the hint given out in the TOWER that every reader should try to put out at least six volumes for the year. These dear brethren and sisters are receiving much favor at the hand of the Lord for the spirit of self-sacrifice which prompts them.
The number of tracts distributed was much less than last year, owing to the unsettled condition of things, and yet these „swift messengers” have done some effective work in silence, revealed to us through correspondence.
Newly interested friends are growing phenomenally. The public seems desirous of hearing something better and many are in earnest. We believe the recent experiences of the island have much to do with the spirit of investigation which has become a stimulus to the reapers to thrust in the sickle.
We were unable to hold a General Convention this year, but there were three local ones which were sources of great blessing to all. Some enjoyed them even better than all that went before.
We think that our TOWER list just now is a fair representation of good interest. The Lord is working all things after the counsel of his own will to the spiritual advantage of his dear children, and in this we rejoice.
We pray, for you and for all, the Lord’s continual guidance. Pray for us.
Yours in fellowship and service, J. A. BROWNE.
OUTPUT FOR 1907
Total output of DAWNS, STUDIES, etc…………… 2,823
Total output of Booklets…………………….. 1,539
Tracts, sample TOWERS, etc…………………… 16,800
L. s. d.
Pilgrim service…………………………….. 96 16 0
Freight, etc……………………………….. 43 7 7-1/2
Sundries, current expenses, etc………………. 119 19 9-1/2
Total expense……………………………… 260 3 5
Voluntary contributions……………………… 29 12 9
Deficit for 1907…………………….($1,100) 230 10 8
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BEREAN BIBLE STUDY IN TABERNACLE SHADOWS
OTHER SIGNIFICANT TYPES
Describe the Mercy Seat and state what it symbolized. I Cor. 11:3; Psa. 80:1; I Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2; Isa. 37:16. T.123, par. 3, 4.
Can humanity enter Jehovah’s presence? I Tim. 6:16; T.124, par. 1.
Why was the Mercy Seat called the „Propitiatory”? and what particular attribute of God’s character was represented in it? Psa. 89:14; Job 36:17; 37:23; Isa. 56:1; Rev. 15:3. T.124, par. 2.
Is this word „Propitiatory” ever applied to our Lord Jesus? and why? Rom. 3:25,26; T.124, par. 3.
What was represented by the two cherubim? And what was shown by their being of the same piece as the „golden slab”? T.125, par. 1.
Was the blood of the sacrifices placed by the High Priest on the Cherubim? And, if not, where was it placed? and why? T.125, par. 2.
What attribute of Jehovah led to the plan of redemption? I Pet. 1:20; T.126, par. 1.
When will love and power act for the accomplishment of God’s wonderful provision for mankind? T.126, par. 2.
How is the relationship and oneness of Christ and his Bride to the Father shown in the Ark? and how is the supreme headship of Jehovah represented? I Cor. 11:3; John 17:9,21; T.126, par. 3.
THE PRIEST UNBLEMISHED
Could a man who had a blemish of any kind fill the office of High Priest, in the type? And what was prefigured in this? T.126, par. 4; T.127, par. 1, first six lines.
What solemn lesson is contained in this for us? Rev. 3:11; T.127, par. 1, 6th line on.
THE MYSTERY HID FROM AGES AND GENERATIONS
Why were the beauties and glories of the Tabernacle kept so securely hidden from the people? What does this mean in the antitype? T.127, par. 2.
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WHAT CONSTITUTES TEACHING?
A PLEA FOR THE SISTERS
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
Before entering upon this subject, I wish to apologize for writing at all.
This question with the impression to write has haunted me with great persistence for many weeks and will not be suppressed. I have striven to crush it, to forget it, to relegate it to oblivion, arguing that it in no wise concerns me anyhow: when „Am I my brother’s keeper?” seems to ring in my ears, as it were; and it still follows me and will not be side-tracked. I have taken it to the Lord and prayed him to guide my pen.
First—There is a tendency (unconscious, no doubt) among some to make very frequent mention of the subjugation of the wife and the lordship of the husband, enlarging greatly upon these points, but utterly failing (at least in my hearing) to call attention to the duties of the latter, except, indeed, his lordship—always forbearing to point to the command, „Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church,” „giving honor to the wife as the weaker vessel,” etc. This one-sided application of Scripture leads a certain type of man, unfortunately not rare, to become a petty tyrant, ever reminding the wife that she must obey him, swelling himself that he is lord over somebody, while ignoring entirely his side of the question, degrading her, if she be degradable, into the position of a slave. Having forced her there he ceases to respect her. It is such teaching that is developing men of certain mental calibre (and there are many) into characters such as „Tennessee” describes in his letter in the WATCH TOWER of Nov. 15th.
Lest it be inferred that I have a grievance along the above line, I beg to say I have not. My husband is one of the noblest of Christian gentlemen, fulfilling, it seems to me, as nearly as is possible for fallen humanity, the conditions of a typical head, crowning my life with tenderest love, protection and care.
Second.—All educators, even those of indifferent ability, are well aware of, and appreciate the value of questioning the students (my husband and I were both in this work for upwards of twenty years, he in the medical colleges, I in the public schools), yet in a simple class, which meets for Bible study with the DAWNS or Tabernacle Shadows, never a question is asked a sister. She has toiled, it may be, all the week, Sunday included, at tasks that would appal a masculine mind—washing, ironing, scrubbing, baking, garment-making, cooking for husband and children, half a dozen of the latter, more or less, and a thousand and one other things incidental to housework—with no leisure to read or study, yet when she is privileged to attend a Bible class this important aid is denied her. Never a question to lead her to think, to call out interest, or to draw out her mind and fix her attention. Think of it! No wonder the meeting drags uninterestingly, as one remarked to me.
Pastor Russell, I will not believe, unless I see it over your own signature, that you approve of thus depriving the members (a part of them) of Christ’s Body of this valuable aid to gaining knowledge. Personally, it is of little or no consequence to me whether or not I am ever asked a question. I have leisure to think, read, study and pray, and, thank God, always have had, but I plead for those whose hands are fuller and for the principle involved.
Again, lest it be thought that I write as above because I wish for prominence in our meetings or for display of attainments, I beg to state that if I care for those things they are within my reach: it is not necessary to look for them in our little class. I have never wished for more privileges in the Church than are shown in the Scripture. Never thought a woman should be bishop or deacon; 1 Tim. 1:13 excludes her, also many men. There is likewise something inherent or God-implanted in the nature of womanly women which makes such usurpation repugnant to them. My work in the Church in the past, in which I know I had the Spirit and God’s blessing, consisted in taking part in prayer meetings or evangelistic meetings („praying and
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prophesying,” as I see it) and teaching in the Sunday Schools.
Hoping attention will be called to the above-mentioned evils, I am, yours in Christ, M. E.
* * *
IN REPLY TO THE ABOVE
We must admit that there is much unmanliness and tyranny in some men, and much unwomanliness and tyranny in some women—as results of the fall. Even amongst those favored by the Lord with the High Calling these ignoble qualities are manifest; because God is not calling chiefly the noble, but the mean. Not many rich, not many wise, not many noble hath God chosen, but mainly the mean things to confound the mighty, and things that are naught to bring to naught the things that are prominent. (1 Cor. 1:26-28.) We see the reason to be that the noble and the great usually trust too much in themselves and are unready to implore and accept forgiveness and aid through the only name. Hence the seeing of unmanliness and unwomanliness must not offend us, nor hinder our love for the brethren—for all whom the Lord has called.
But, on the other hand, all those accepted to the School of Christ have the greatest of all teachers, and should become the noblest of the noble in their sentiments; for it is written, „They shall be all taught of God.” These lessons of the Spirit, inculcated through the Word, develop in all the Elect the graces of the holy Spirit, namely, meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly kindness, love. Some grow these fruits of the Spirit more promptly and more luxuriantly
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than others, but all must attain them in heart (and hence, surely, in some good degree outwardly) ere they can be accepted as heirs of the Kingdom. As it is written, they must all be copies of God’s dear Son, their Redeemer.
But, how comes it that amongst the more advanced there are sometimes acts, such as are referred to in the letter foregoing, which seem to some to be tyrannical? For instance, the passing by of the sisters in the asking of the Berean Study questions. We suggest that this need not be ascribed to an ignoble motive so long as we can think of a noble one that would meet the conditions. For instance, the leader of the meeting may have had in mind as a God-given rule the Apostle’s words, „I suffer not a woman to teach.” And possibly he reasoned that to ask a sister a question would be inviting her to teach, and hence be on his part a violation of the apostolic injunction. Possibly he thought that in giving the sisters a chance to answer by saying, „Has anyone else an answer to suggest?” he was going to the extent of his conscientious privilege—leaving it to the conscience of each sister to decide and act accordingly. This plan certainly does divide the responsibility. The chief difficulty about it seems to be that it implies an impropriety on the part of the sisters who answer, in the judgment of the more prominent brethren.
We trust that none of the brethren takes the view that the sisters have no good thoughts; nor that they are incapable of expressing these; nor that they cannot teach well their own sons and daughters. All must admit that women have displayed wonderful powers in teaching, reasoning, managing, etc. And all noble men, and especially all developed brethren, must desire to „render honor to whom honor is due”—and therefore must greatly honor noble mothers, sisters, wives and daughters, and womankind in general, for their many noble and gentle traits. This certainly is the writer’s attitude of heart.
As for the noble Apostle Paul, we cannot think of him as a woman-hater or as a woman-despiser. Surely his epistles clearly show that he, too, honored true womanhood. Who ever expressed the esteem for woman more pointedly than he, when he wrote, „As Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it, so ought men also to love their wives as their own bodies”? (Eph. 5:25,28.) His reason for writing as he did respecting woman’s sphere of activity in the Church was undoubtedly loyalty to God—to duty. Our Lord declared of his apostles, „Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19.) And surely the Lord used St. Paul more than any other Apostle to declare the loosing from the Law and the obligations and responsibilities binding upon the „New Creation.”
A MORE EXCELLENT WAY
After giving the subject considerable prayer and meditation we feel that a more moderate view than the above might be attached to the words, „I suffer not a woman to teach.” It is as follows:
Teaching is not within the province of all the brethren, either; but only for those specially indicated by divine providence. This is shown by several Scriptures. For instance, to the Elders of the Church at Ephesus St. Paul said: „Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the holy Spirit hath made you overseers [elders, shepherds, bishops] to feed [teach] the Church of God.” (Acts 20:28.) Again, note the Apostle’s statement that God hath set the various members in the Body as it hath pleased him, and that amongst those so set he mentions „teachers.” (1 Cor. 12:18,28.) Again, note St. James’ words, „Be not many of you teachers, brethren.” (Jas. 3:1, Diaglott.) Again, one of the qualifications to be sought when electing elders was that they should be „apt to teach.” (1 Tim. 3:2.) Again, respecting the priestly or teaching service we read, „No man taketh this honor to himself, but he that was called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4.) The Lord, speaking through the Church his Body (including males and females, bond and free—all one in Christ), chooses for the eldership certain brethren „apt to teach”; and, as the Apostle indicates, there is a special responsibility resting upon these as respects the feeding of the Lord’s flock. Again he asks, „Are all teachers. „—1 Cor. 12:29.
Now, then, may we not interpret the Apostle’s words, „I suffer not a woman to teach,” to mean—I never sanction a female Elder in the Church. If we may, one difficulty is removed; and it would be well in accord with this view that we read, „If a woman pray or prophesy [speak publicly] in the Church … let her head be covered”; because, in the Church, the woman figuratively represents the Church, while the man represents the Lord, the Head of the Church.
This would settle the matter complained of in the letter above published. Then it would surely be as proper to ask the Berean questions of the sisters as of the brothers; because in this view of the matter, none of those answering would be a teacher nor considered as teaching, but a learner, reciting what he or she had learned or thinks had
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been learned from the Lord through his instruments or teachers.
To the Editor’s mind this is most satisfactory and he trusts that it will be so to all WATCH TOWER readers. If some of the dear sisters have been pained in the past by a too rigid following of the Word, we trust they will be magnanimous and credit the strictness not to a lack of love for women, but to a greater love for the Lord and his Word. Whoever has been „rightly exercised” by the stricter view will, we believe, receive a corresponding blessing, for our Lord is able to make all things work together for good to each and all of his faithful.
„Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.”—Gal. 6:6.
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CLEANSING THE TEMPLE
—JOHN 2:13-22—JANUARY 26—
Golden Text:—”Holiness becometh thy house, O Lord, forever.”—Psalm 93:5
WE are aware that there are many scholars who believe that there were two cleansings of the Temple by our Lord. It is admitted by all that one cleansing occurred at the last Passover which Jesus attended a few days before his crucifixion. This is well attested by Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:15; Luke 19:14. Our lesson is taken from John’s Gospel, and because this incident is grouped with others which occurred in the beginning of the Lord’s ministry it is assumed, we believe without sufficient authority, that there were two cleansings, the one at the beginning, the other at the close of our Lord’s ministry. It is acknowledged, however, that John’s Gospel was written long after the others, and apparently with the intention of supplying certain details that were overlooked by the other historians. To our understanding Jesus began his teachings in a rather quiet manner, reserving many of his mightiest works for the last, amongst others the calling of Lazarus from the tomb, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the ass, and the cleansing of the Temple. This latter act has a peculiar significance when we remember that it followed our Lord’s assumption of the office of King—which he did just five days before his crucifixion, when he rode upon the ass in fulfilment of the prophecy, „Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just and having salvation; lowly and riding upon an ass.” (Zech. 9:9.) Thus recognized by the multitude as the King of the Jews, our Lord exercised kingly authority in the cleansing of the Temple, and was no doubt backed up in the matter by the sentiment of the throng which had just acclaimed him the son of David with hosannas. It was under these circumstances that none attempted resistance.
It was a requirement of the Jewish Law that the devout of the nation should assemble at the Passover season to keep the Feast of Passover in celebration of their deliverance from Egypt and the sparing of their firstborn on the preceding night. Josephus tells us that sometimes the population of Jerusalem on such an occasion was swelled to the number of two millions. Far more than half of these must have camped outside the city, unable to find lodgings within. It was the custom on such occasions to offer sacrifices, some representing thankfulness, some consecration and others contrition. Of course the multitude of strangers from afar rarely brought with them the doves or pigeons or lambs, etc., which they presented in sacrifice. The supply of these animals for sacrifice became quite a business on such occasions. Moreover, there was a certain Temple tax levied, which must be paid in a particular kind of money called the „shekel of the sanctuary.” The last coinage of these was in B.C. 140, hence they were quite scarce in our Lord’s day and sold at a premium. Roman coin was circulated throughout Palestine in general merchandising, so that when the time came at the Passover for the paying of the Temple tax with the Temple money not only visitors from foreign lands needed to purchase shekels of the sanctuary
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but also the home folk.
„TAKE THESE THINGS HENCE”
In consequence of these conditions the Temple area became quite a house of merchandise and money-changing, and as the necessities of the people were taken advantage of and high prices charged, our Lord called the place a „den of thieves.” (Matt. 21:13.) In imagining the scene we are not to think of money-changers, sheep and dove-traders, etc., in the Temple
PLAN OF THE TEMPLE IN OUR LORD’S DAY
proper, but in its outer courts, the whole of which was designated the Temple or the house of God. This trading was probably carried on in what was known as the Court of the Gentiles. Into the holiest precincts of the Temple proper only the priests were permitted to enter; into the enclosure where the altar was located the Levites were also permitted; outside of this was
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the Court of the men of Israel, and still further out a Court of the women, and beyond this enclosure the Court of the Gentiles, provided to the intent that all nationalities might there congregate for worship. Our Lord referred to this fact saying, „It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations.” (Mark 11:17.) Probably the Court of the Gentiles was little used, as few Gentiles had become sincere converts to Judaism. The size of the court apportioned to them was probably symbolical of the larger proportionate numbers who should ultimately come into the Lord’s favor and become true disciples and fellow-heirs with the Jews of divine favor.
It is claimed that any Jew under the Law had the right to do as Jesus did in the matter of driving out the traders, but very evidently no Jew had previously attempted it. The scourge of small cords could not have done serious damage to anyone, but we do not know that our Lord used it upon humanity. He may have driven out the animals, whose owners would follow them, and it will be noticed that he did not set at liberty the doves, which could not so easily have been recovered, but permitted their owners to take them away. The overturning of the tables of the money-changers would not only stop their usurious exchange business, but keep them busy looking after their coin. We may be sure from the fact that our Lord lived under the Law and obeyed it that his conduct on this occasion was quite within the recognized proprieties, even though it was unusual, and even though he himself had visited the Temple time and again as a Jew, and had witnessed these same scenes but had not interfered with them. This we consider to be a proof that the occurrence took place but once, and that after our Lord had assumed the office of King—just before his crucifixion. Thus the statement, „The zeal of thine house hath consumed me,” was fulfilled.
THE CLEANSING IN THE ANTITYPE
When we remember that the Law was a shadow of better things coming, that the Jewish people typified Spiritual Israel, and that their Temple typified the Gospel Church with its various classes, then we begin to see how we may look here for a parallel of that cleansing work of the Jewish harvest. Those familiar with Volume II., STUDIES, will remember that the Jewish dispensation is the parallel to the Gospel dispensation in very many particulars, including that of time and the fact that it ended with a harvest period, and that our Lord at his first advent was the chief reaper in the Jewish harvest, as he is to be the chief reaper in the Gospel harvest at his second advent. We have noted also the fact that the time parallel of October, 1874, corresponds to the beginning of our Lord’s ministry at the time of his baptism, and that April, 1878, corresponds to the time of our Lord’s acceptance of the office of King, riding upon the ass and receiving the shouts of the multitude, and then proceeding to the Temple cleansing work. Our thought is that the antitypical cleansing of the Lord’s Temple has been in progress since the spring of 1878.
Within the hallowed precincts of the nominal Temple of today are many who have long been making merchandise of their privileges, opportunities and knowledge. All intelligent people well know that religious matters are to a large extent made merchandise of. Amongst the Roman Catholics everything possible is hedged about with penalties and prohibitions and limitations, so that the people are led to believe that they can present nothing acceptable to God except as they receive it through their priesthood. They are expected to pay the priesthood for every birth and the baptism of the child; they are expected to pay at every service, that they may be participants in the blessings of the common mass; they are expected to pay for every blessed scapular sprinkled with holy water; they are expected to pay for every funeral service and for every prayer, as well as for the privilege of being buried in holy ground. In all this we have a close counterpart to that which our Lord denominated a den of thieves, making merchandise of divine things.
As for Protestants, there are many evidences of the same spirit amongst them, but as they represent a more intelligent class, the exactions upon them by the clergy are the more refined. With few exceptions the payment for baptisms and funerals and marriages is apparently left optional. This is the wisest way with this class of worshipers. Neither are there attempts made to collect money for saying masses for the dead, to exact a specific fee from each one occupying a place at a service, though the collection plate is passed with regularity, and frequently strong appeals are made for money, and sometimes with the announcement that nothing inferior to a silver piece will be acceptable. It is to the credit of Protestants that they do not tax the living for prayers and masses for the dead, as do the Roman Catholics. Nevertheless strong impression is sought to be made upon all, that membership, either in a Catholic Church or in some one of the numerous Protestant ones, is necessary to salvation, and that liberality to the Church of one’s choice is also a necessity. Although rarely so stated, it is implied that eternal torment is the alternative. We are not inveighing against charity and liberality for the spread of the Gospel of Christ: neither did Jesus say one word against liberal giving on the part of the Jews for the support of the Temple. Our Lord’s condemnation fell upon those who were making merchandise of the opportunity, circumstance and conditions. It is our belief, indeed, that Christian people have been blessed in their response to the numerous demands: nevertheless the principle is all wrong. Whatever is given to the Lord should be voluntarily done, with love for him, with a desire to render unto him the first-fruits, the best of all that we possess, time, influence, money, etc.
„THE TEMPLE OF HIS BODY”
The Jews demanded of the Lord by what authority he set up so high a standard as he required of them in the cleansing of the Temple. He answered them, „Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Of course they could not understand that it was one of
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our Lord’s dark sayings, which is fully comprehended even yet by only a few. The Jews thought our Lord spoke slightingly of the Temple of which they were so proud, which just recently had been finished, after being in process of construction for forty-six years. They were incensed at him, and we recall that this was one of the charges against him a few days later. When he was arraigned before the High Priest it was said that he had blasphemed the Temple, spoken slightingly of it in declaring that he would raise it up again, if destroyed, within three days. „But he spake of the Temple of his Body.” The disciples evidently got the thought that he referred to his fleshly body as the Temple of God, and supposed that our Lord’s prediction was fulfilled three days after his crucifixion. But we cannot so view the matter. To our understanding the Lord spake of the Temple of his Body—of the Church, his Body—of the Temple of which the Apostle Peter subsequently wrote, that we as living stones are built together upon Christ for a habitation of God through the Spirit. To suppose that our Lord spoke of the fleshly body as the Temple, and to suppose that that fleshly body was raised on the third day, would be to suppose that our Lord did not fully pay over the price necessary for our redemption.
Such a view would contradict his own statement, „My flesh I give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51.) He gave his flesh not only for three days but forever, and he was raised by the Father’s power from the grave the Lord of glory. As the Apostle declares, „Now the Lord is that Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17); and again, „He was put to death in the flesh but quickened in the Spirit” (I Pet. 3:18); and again, „Though we have known Christ after the flesh, now know we him so no more.” (2 Cor. 5:16.) The flesh was consecrated to death at the beginning of our Lord’s ministry, and this great sacrifice was symbolized in his baptism. It was the New Creature that was there begotten of the holy Spirit (to which fact John bore witness), which grew during the Lord’s three and a half years of ministry; and it was the New Creature, the Spirit begotten, that was born of the Spirit on the third day, when our Lord arose from the dead. Our Lord’s change was but a sample of that which is to come to all of his true followers, as the Apostle explains, saying, It is sown in weakness, raised in power; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown an animal body, raised a spiritual body. (I Cor. 15:43,44.) So, then, our Lord’s body of flesh, destroyed by the Jews at Calvary, was not restored on
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the third day. No restitution work was accomplished in him, but a complete change, because, as the Apostle declares, „Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.”—I Cor. 15:50.
But, on the other hand, we have the Scriptural declaration that the Church is the Body of Christ, of which the consecrated faithful are „members in particular.” (I Cor. 12:27.) We see that as human beings our Lord the Head, and all the members of his Body, have been suffering the destruction of the flesh, have been sacrificing their human nature throughout this Gospel Age, and we see that in due time this glorious Church, the New Creation, will in the First Resurrection come forth a glorious Temple of God, composed of living stones and filled with the glory of God. This will be on the third day also, for if we consider the six thousand years past as six days of a great week, and the Millennial Age as the seventh or Sabbath day of that week, we find that it was early in the fifth of these days that our Lord sacrificed, that many of his followers suffered likewise during that and the following sixth day, and that the seventh day, into which we have chronologically entered since 1872, is thus the third day, in which, very early in the morning, the entire Body of Christ, the King of glory, will be perfected. Then the great Temple of God will be complete and ready for the great work of the Millennial Age, the blessing of all the families of the earth, and through it they all may have the opportunity of coming into full harmony with God and gaining the blessing thereof—eternal life.
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REGENERATION AND THE KINGDOM
—JOHN 3:1-21—FEBRUARY 2—
Golden Text:—”For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16
THIS lesson well illustrates the wrong, unscriptural trend of thought and of Biblical interpretation which has come to prevail so generally throughout Christendom. The peculiar, the strange thing connected with the matter is that people of apparent capacity for reasoning on other subjects seem to abandon all logic in the study of God’s Word. The usual interpretation of this lesson is that Jesus taught Nicodemus that he was about to establish a Church, which he called the Kingdom of God, without its having any likeness to the Kingdom or bearing any rule in the world. It is claimed that our Lord meant Nicodemus to understand that his Church was to be considered the Kingdom because eventually it would so prevail throughout the earth that God’s will should be done on earth even as it is done in heaven. Then, to make this interpretation the more absurd, they acknowledge that our Lord here declared that no one could appreciate this Kingdom or enter into it except he were first begotten of the holy Spirit. Now note the absurdity of all this:—
After nearly nineteen centuries the total number of both Catholics and Protestants in the world is about four hundred millions, including the ring-streaked, the speckled and the black—the rough, the scuff, the tough of all civilized lands—improperly styled Christendom. The remainder of the race, twelve hundred millions, either never have heard of the Lord Jesus at
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all or, having heard, repudiated him. The number of the heathen, therefore, today is many times as large as the entire population of the earth at the time when the Lord conversed with Nicodemus. If the world is the Kingdom is it conquering itself in any sense of the word? Surely not! But now let us look at the four hundred millions called „Christendom,” and judge as best we may be able who and what they really
DIAGRAM SHOWING PROPORTION OF HEATHEN TO VARIOUS RELIGIONS TODAY
are, aside from their profession. How many of them make the slightest profession of having been born again, begotten again, born from above, and to have the renewing of the holy Spirit? Practically none—surely, as in our Lord’s day, only a „Little Flock.”
If any one is in doubt on this subject let him inquire amongst his Christian friends and neighbors on the subject of the new birth, the begetting of the holy Spirit. Let him explain what he means by a full consecration or devotion of time, strength and all that we possess to God and his service, and the change of heart signified by the begetting and anointing of the holy Spirit, and then ask how many of his friends and neighbors have either made the consecration involved or have received the holy Spirit. He will not have gone far into this inquiry until he be fully convinced that there is a great mistake in this ordinary view of the Kingdom—that it is thoroughly untenable and cannot be our Lord’s meaning.
Thus satisfied that the general concept of this lesson is radically wrong, let us note carefully and prayerfully every word of our lesson with untrammeled minds, that we may know the truth and the truth may make us free from error, from superstition, and may bring to us light, joy and assistance.
NICODEMUS AND THE GREAT TEACHER
Nicodemus, an influential man amongst the Jews, a member of the Sanhedrin, and widely known as a professor of holiness—of full consecration to God—a Pharisee, came to Jesus by night; not necessarily from fear, possibly wisdom guided him, a prudent recognition of the interests of others as well as of his own. Possibly he came by night because then he might have a better opportunity for private conversation with the Master. In any event we find him very reverential and courteous. He addressed our Lord as Rabbi, or Teacher, and declared his belief that he was from God, a servant of God, in whom God evidently delighted, as manifested by his miracles. Only a mere portion of the conversation of the evening is given. We may reasonably presume that Nicodemus came to ask questions respecting the Kingdom of God, which he knew John and his disciples had been preaching, and which Jesus and his disciples subsequently also preached. As a student of the Scriptures he knew to expect the Kingdom, and that it was God’s provision for the blessing and uplifting of Israel and ultimately the fulfilment of a promise to Abraham, „In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Having confidence in Jesus he wished to learn particulars respecting this Kingdom, for neither John the Baptist nor Jesus had manifested anything to indicate how the Kingdom was to be brought about—where the soldiers were to be obtained, how drilled and officered, where the implements of warfare were to come from and the large amount of money necessary to equip and provide for an army. Such a question is implied by our Lord’s statement, „Verily, verily I say unto you, except a man be born again [anew] he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
We can imagine the perplexity of Nicodemus, who was looking for a King and a glorious retinue, more grand than any monarch of the past, inasmuch as the Messiah King expected was to represent heavenly authority and power amongst men. Judge now of his perplexity on being told that no one could see this Kingdom unless he were born again—born over. The chaos of his thoughts is shown by his rejoinder, How can a full-grown man, advanced in years, be born again? With our Lord’s answer he began to get a little light on the subject: Jesus said, „I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of Spirit is spirit.”*
*We have quoted this correctly, for the article „the” does not appear in the Greek text.
Nicodemus got some very „strong meat” in very few words. From this statement he would understand that the Kingdom would not be a fleshly or earthly one, but a spirit Kingdom, a heavenly Kingdom. He could perceive that the natural birth of the flesh is a figure or symbol illustrative of a new birth, a spirit birth, and that our Lord meant that the Kingdom of God would be on a higher plane than any earthly Kingdom—it would be a spirit Kingdom which mankind in general could not see and could not enter into or become members of. The only ones who would really see the spiritual Kingdom or enter into it would be those begotten of Spirit and born of Spirit. But our Lord added, „Born of water and of Spirit.” The reference to water would probably, in the mind of Nicodemus, recall the water baptism for the remission of sins, and as a sign of repentance which John the Baptist and his disciples had been preaching.
To us who live since Pentecost—and who may, therefore, have a clear conception of the deep things of
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God under the guidance and instruction of the holy Spirit—our Lord’s mention of water may have a still fuller significance. We see that symbolical water represents Truth, and that our begetting of the holy Spirit is said by the Apostle to be also a begetting „through the Word of truth.” (Jas. 1:18.) We remember also that the same thought is expressed by the Apostle Paul, who declares (Titus 3:3-5), „his mercy saved us through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the holy Spirit.” Putting these matters together we have the thought that our regeneration or begetting again of the holy Spirit and our renewing by it come to us in conjunction with the washing or cleansing which is effected in us by the operation of the Truth—the divine message. This is beautifully symbolized in Israel’s Tabernacle service, in which the priests, before entering the Holy and thus typically becoming New Creatures, first washed at the laver which represented the Word of God, the Truth, the water of regeneration, by which we come into that condition of consecration to the Lord in which he is pleased to accept us, to grant us the spirit of adoption into his heavenly or spiritual family.
„SO IS EVERY ONE THAT IS BORN”
Nicodemus was astonished at such a presentation of the Kingdom and of the methods and conditions upon which it could be seen and entered into. Our Lord rejoined, Marvel not at the words, Ye must be born again. Then he gave him an illustration of what one would be like who would be born of the Spirit. He drew his attention to the invisibility of spirit beings and yet their reality. He took as an illustration the wind—invisible, we know not whence it comes, we know not whither it goes; but we do know of its power, we can hear the sound, can see its effects. This, our Lord declared, would give Nicodemus an illustration of those born of the Spirit; they would be intangible, invisible, while present and powerful. Such would be the Kingdom when it should be established. We must notice very carefully our Lord’s language, else ere long these erroneous thoughts will bring us into confusion. We must not allow any of them to twist and turn the Scriptures, and to say that our Lord said something here that he did not say. We must repel the suggestion that he meant that the Spirit of which we would be begotten is invisible, for although that is true enough it is not what our Lord is saying. Neither must we allow our minds to be misled into supposing that the Lord means that the holy Spirit passes hither and thither throughout the world, begetting some and passing others by, and that we know not who may be begotten of the Spirit and who not. All this is confusing and wholly out of accord with what is written. Whoever would have clear, proper conceptions of the Master’s teaching must give strict heed to the Word. We have been in darkness long enough through our inattention and through our allowing other people to read into the Word of God what is in no sense of the word there. We are neither to add to nor to take from the Word of God, and whoever does so adds to his own confusion, and is as well an unfaithful minister of the Truth, and an unfaithful ambassador, spokesman, for the Lord.
Astounded at what he had heard, Nicodemus exclaimed, „How can these things be?” Is it possible that those who have been studying the Law and the Prophets for centuries have erred so egregiously? Our Lord replied that as a master in Israel he should be able to discern these matters when once they were brought to his attention. As a thoughtful student of the Law and the Prophets Nicodemus should have seen that there were insurmountable difficulties connected with the prevailing thought that God’s Kingdom would be an earthly one. He therefore should have been quite prepared for the announcement that the Kingdom of God would be a spiritual one which, as the Lord on another occasion explained, would come not with outward show, and of which the people would not declare, „Lo, here it is,” or „Lo, there it is,” but it would be in the midst of mankind, invisible but all-powerful.
We have elsewhere shown* that there is a particular fitness to our Lord’s words in this connection when he declares that that which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of Spirit is spirit. As there cannot be any birth of the flesh without first a begetting of the flesh, so there can be no birth of the spirit without first a begetting of the Spirit. The begetting of the Spirit comes in connection with the washing of regeneration through the Word, and belongs to this present life. As New Creatures we develop spiritually until we reach the quickening stage of activity in the Lord’s service; and those thus begotten and quickened, in whom the new will remains faithful unto death, in the resurrection are born of the Spirit—raised from the dead spirit beings. Thus our Lord was begotten of the holy Spirit at the time of his baptism, but in his resurrection he was born of the Spirit—the first-born from the dead—the first-born from among many brethren. Similarly his brethren and joint-heirs in the Kingdom are now begotten of the holy Spirit at the time of their washing of regeneration and begetting, and their birth, if faithful, will be in the resurrection change, when that which is sown in weakness will be raised in power, sown an animal body, raised a spiritual body—sharers with our Lord in the First Resurrection to spirit nature, glory, honor, immortality. It is proper to notice here that confusion has come to many because of their failure to notice that the same Greek word gennao is used in referring to both the begetting and the birth.
„WE SPEAK THAT WE DO KNOW”
In answer to Nicodemus’ doubts our Lord assured him that this testimony respecting the Kingdom, that it would be a spirit Kingdom, was no idle speculation—that he knew what he testified to be true, that the trouble with Nicodemus was that he was not ready to be taught. He had called our Lord Master, Teacher, and declared that he believed him to be sent of God,
*DAWN-STUDIES, Vol. V., pp. 189, 192.
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and yet he was so bound to his preconceptions that he was unready to receive the testimony of the only one who was capable of giving him the instruction. Our Lord intimated that he could tell much more about the heavenly Kingdom, but it would not be proper to do so, since his hearers were not in a condition to appreciate spiritual things. „If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not, how could you believe if I explained to you heavenly things?” In the light of the Apostle Paul’s exhortation we see that our Master’s words were not chiding, but rather a declaration of facts, because, as the Apostle declares, it is impossible for the natural man not begotten of the holy Spirit to understand spiritual things. The most, therefore, that Jesus was able to teach either to his disciples or others during his ministry were earthly things. He left the explanation of the deeper things of the divine plan until after his followers at Pentecost received the begetting of the holy Spirit and were thus fitted and qualified, prepared, enabled to understand the spiritual things, the heavenly things.—I Cor. 2:14.
Undoubtedly this is the trouble with the great majority of the people today also—they have not been begotten of the holy Spirit, they have not been begotten again, and hence are unable to understand spiritual things. We reiterate, therefore, our recommendation, frequently made, that when any are found who have not the hearing ear for the Truth we should not seek to pound it into them, but rather should take a different tack and seek their consecration—present to them the reasonableness of a full consecration to the Lord and his service in view of what they have already seen and are able to grasp. If they make the consecration and receive the begetting of the holy Spirit the deep things of the Lord will then be for them and may be understood by them. Hence the wisdom of not casting the pearls of divine Truth, the deeper, spiritual things before the unregenerate—the wisdom, on the contrary, of preaching merely the outlines of the divine plan of the ages to the world in general, of exhorting them to receive not the grace of God in vain, and assuring them that wisdom from on high and an ability to appreciate the deeper things come only to and are only for those who have come into the spiritual covenant relationship of the sons of God as New Creatures.
„NO MAN HATH ASCENDED UP TO HEAVEN”
This statement by our Lord would cause no particular surprise to Nicodemus, for nothing in the Law or in the prophets or in the teachings of orthodox Judaism ever held to the idea prevalent amongst the heathen that the dead were alive—more alive than ever before. They knew that the dead were dead and that the hope for them lay in the resurrection, when Messiah should come forth for the banishing of the curse and the establishment of the Kingdom of heaven amongst men for their uplift and reconciliation to God. But today the heathen error, Plato’s philosophy, that the dead are more alive than the living, with all the absurdity that is implied in such a statement, has fastened itself upon Christendom. People otherwise sane and logical will tell us that they believe in the resurrection of the dead, and in the same breath tell us that the dead are not dead. They fail to tell us how the dead could be resurrected if none is dead. Let all who study this lesson with a desire to learn from the Master rather than to instruct him, take heed to the words, „No man hath ascended up to heaven.” (The last four words of this verse 13, „which is in heaven,” are not found in ancient Greek MSS., and evidently were no part of this conversation.)
„THE SERPENT IN THE WILDERNESS”
The remainder of this lesson, in our judgment, was not spoken to Nicodemus, but combined various of our Lord’s teachings which the writer here brought together conveniently.
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The reference of verse 14 to the lifting up of the brazen serpent in the wilderness and the declaration that it was intended to be a type of the crucifixion of our Lord is a very important item. We remember the story of the Israelites bitten by the fiery serpents because of sin, and how they were suffering great pain and were dying in large numbers until Moses by divine direction erected on a pole a serpent made of brass. Thenceforth every Israelite, looking toward that serpent, by faith was healed. The antitype of this we see. The whole world has been bitten by sin, and, as the Apostle declares, all are groaning and travailing in pain, all are dying. (Rom. 8:22.) Eighteen centuries ago Jesus the Son of man was lifted up on Calvary, he was treated as a sinner, our sins were laid upon him that he might thus have the right to impute his righteousness to all who desire it, and to grant them healing and life eternal.
Our Lord, in explaining the matter, declared that the Son of man would be lifted up, to the intent that everyone believing on him should not perish but have eternal life. Only the few have yet had the opportunity of believing in him—the great mass in our Lord’s time and ever since have been in utter ignorance of the Redeemer and his sacrifice, and of the blessings secured by looking to him. But will they never see? Will they never know? Will they never gain eternal life? Will only the Church, the specially favored of this Gospel Age, the Elect, have this great opportunity? Surely not! In due time God will cause the knowledge of his grace to reach every member of the race. Surely this is the import of our Master’s words following, „For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (v. 16.) Ah, yes! This is a blessed assurance. We are glad that by the grace of God Jesus „tasted death for every man.” (Heb. 2:9.) We are glad that he was a propitiation for our sins, the Church’s sins, but we are also glad that he is a propitiation for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2), and that eventually the whole world shall have the privilege, opportunity, of having their eyes and ears opened that they also may see and understand the riches of God’s grace in Christ.
With what pleasure we read that „God sent not his
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Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” The world had already been condemned, for it had shared in Father Adam’s condemnation as his race. It needed no more condemnation but it did need salvation from the Adamic condemnation resting upon it;—it did need to be delivered from the bondage of corruption, mental, moral and physical, and it was this that Jesus came to accomplish. How different the story as the Master gives it from the way in which it is told in the creeds. The theory claimed during the „dark ages” was that all who were not of the Elect Church were condemned to eternal torment. It was recognized that the race as a whole had as yet received none of God’s grace, nor opportunity for the same, because of blindness and ignorance and superstition; and it was claimed that it never would have favor—that God never meant the world to be saved, and that Christ did not die for the world but for the Church, the Elect. How glorious the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of divine love and wisdom as now displayed through the divine Word in this harvest time!—showing us that the election of the Church is merely the prelude to the great work of blessing and enlightening, uplifting and restoring the world in general—all who will—”in due time.” Nevertheless there is a measure of increased condemnation in proportion as the light is seen by any one and rejected; as our Lord said, „This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19.) The meaning is evident: Our Lord’s first advent was not with a view to increasing the Adamic condemnation but the reverse of this, to effect the sacrifice by which it might ultimately be canceled. Nevertheless his presence then in the world, and the light which then shone and which has since shone through his followers, has carried with it a measure of responsibility—a measure of condemnation to all who have resisted the light.
This condemnation, however, is quite separate and distinct from the Adamic condemnation, which was inherited, and which because of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins will ultimately be completely canceled; this condemnation, resulting from an intelligent rejection of light, bears an individual penalty, which will bring the unfaithful one stripes either in the present or in the future. In the giving of these stripes we are assured that full allowance will be made for inherited weaknesses, temptations, etc.—everything that can be justly charged up to the Adamic fall will be canceled through the merit of the sacrifice of Christ. The stripes merely represent the individual’s own perversity, and should the opposition to the light of Truth be persisted in to the full degree, the penalty would be the Second Death.
THE SELECTIVE PROCESS
From the foregoing we perceive that wherever the light of the Gospel shines there is proportionately responsibility and more or less of a selective condition. As our Lord declares, all who do evil intentionally, in the light, thereby manifest their hatred of the light, and such will avoid the light, realizing that it makes manifest the error, the sin with which they are identified and which, to some extent, at least, they love. They hate and avoid the light because it reproves their darkness, their error, their sin. On the contrary (v. 21), all who would serve the Truth, the light, are glad to come to more and more light as they may discern it. They desire that their course in life shall become manifest, that all shall know that to the extent of their ability they are seeking to do the Lord’s will. And if, perchance, something contrary to God’s will may be exposed in their own conduct or theories, they are glad of this also that they may have an opportunity for correcting the same.
This selective, separative work is not going on amongst the heathen but in Christendom, nor is it specially going on amongst the masses of Christendom, but chiefly amongst those who have professed to be God’s people, who profess to have turned from darkness to light, as did the Jews of our Lord’s day. Realizing the true situation, let us be very zealous for every ray of light which can be shed upon the divine plan or upon our own hearts and lives. Let us more and more desire to know the Truth, that it may make us free from every bondage and bring us more and more into captivity to the will of God in Christ. Children of the Light, we can have no fellowship with any of the unfruitful works of darkness, doctrinal or otherwise! Let us maintain our stand more and more loyally as the divine Word increasingly clarifies our vision and distinguishes for us between light and darkness, truth and error, righteousness and sin!
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AN INTERESTING LETTER
MY DEAR BRETHREN:—
Since entering the Colporteur work I have not worked more than two ten-hour days at the most, this being due to having but Saturday afternoons and holidays for this purpose. During this time I sold 73 volumes—17 on the Fourth of July morning, when I even parted with my sample book. I expected to be out all day on the 4th, but hereafter when I go out to spend a whole day I shall see to it that I have my wheel better loaded. One week later I took another day for the work, but was rather disappointed by rain. However, it cleared off by noon and allowed me to take another missionary trip. In that afternoon I sold 18 volumes.
This, dear brethren, is the grandest privilege I ever enjoyed. I rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and can say with the Psalmist, „Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me praise his holy name.” May we all hold fast that which we have already that no one take our crown is my earnest prayer for all. Cannot say more at present, but with deepest and tenderest Christian love, I remain.
Yours in the Lord’s vineyard,
HARRY W. DAVIDGE,—New Jersey.