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VOL. XIX. MARCH 15, 1898. No. 6.
“Because the Days are Evil”………………… 83
Helpful Rules for the Daily Life
Feet Washing……………………………… 88
“The Night Cometh wherein No Man
Can Work”…………………………… 89
The Wheat Harvest—Its Close
Nigh at Hand………………………… 90
Where to Look for the Wheat
The Length of the Harvest Day, etc.
John the Baptist and His Murderers…………… 94
“The Dogs Eat of the Crumbs which
Fall from the Children’s Table”………… 95
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REMEMBER THE MEMORIAL SUPPER, APRIL 5TH,
AFTER 6 P.M.
IT HAS been suggested by some that the day preceding (April 5th) be spent, to some extent, as partially a fast day and a day of much private prayer for the welfare of Zion. Let each of us do as is in his heart, in this matter. We of the WATCH TOWER will remember you all on that day, as we do every day, but more particularly. “Brethren pray for us.”—2 Thess. 3:1.
Answering a query, would say:—
The Hebrews will celebrate Passover Feast for a week, beginning (Nisan 15th) 6 P.M. April 6th. We celebrate the death of the Lamb in the “Memorial Supper” (Nisan 14th) the night before, after 6 P.M. Read the TOWER article again.
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“BECAUSE THE DAYS ARE EVIL”
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”—Eph. 5:15,16
THE WORD “circumspect” is from circum, signifying around, and spectus, signifying to look, to watch. The true Christian pathway is so narrow, so beset with tests and pitfalls and wiles of the evil one that, if we walk carelessly even (not to say wickedly), we will be in great danger of mishap. It requires not only that we look all around at every step, but more than this, it requires that we be wise,—wiser than our fellow creatures of earth—wise with the wisdom that cometh from above, which is pure, peaceable, loving; yet first of all loyal to the Lord and his Word.
At a centre to which flow by mail the records of the trials and difficulties through which many of the Lord’s people are called to pass, we are in position to know that their trials are now more numerous and more severe than for a long time at least. Appeals for prayer on their behalf and for counsel respecting the way of the Lord come by nearly every mail from tried ones who are anxious to “walk circumspectly.” These are gladly answered, to the best of our ability,—pointing out the Scriptural lines that must guide all who would walk with the Lord.
We now wish to call attention to some general principles, applicable to every member of the body of Christ, at every time; and especially necessary to be remembered and practiced at the present time, because of the special activity of our Adversary;—”because the days are evil.” For it would appear that, as in the “harvest” of the Jewish age, so in the present “harvest” of the Gospel age, opposition prevails not only in the synagogues, from the Scribes and Pharisees, but in the home circle—between parents and children, and husbands and wives—and among the Lord’s people. And in proportion as the Adversary seeks to stir up strife, let each of the consecrated be the more on guard to give no avoidable offence either in word or deed. “Walk circumspectly, … because the days are evil,”—days of special trial and testing.
HELPFUL RULES FOR OUR DAILY LIFE
The rules we have to suggest are as follows:—
I. Let each resolve to mind his own business.
The Scriptural injunctions along this line caution us not to be busy-bodies in other people’s affairs. Everyone of experience in life has learned that this is a good rule; yet few walk by this rule, circumspectly. If we have not sufficient of our own business and of the Lord’s service to fill our hands and moments and mouths, there is something wrong with us that needs careful prayer and study of the divine Word to set right.
This does not mean that we should be indifferent to the welfare of others under our care, or for whom we are in any degree responsible; but, even in doing for these we should be careful to recognize their rights and the rights of others, and specially careful not to exceed our own rights. Let us never forget that justice must govern in our interferences with the affairs of others, tho we may not require full justice in respect to our own interests, but exercise mercy.
II. We should exercise great patience with others and their faults—more than in dealing with ourselves and our own short-comings.
When we remember that the whole world is mentally as well as physically and morally unsound through the fall, it should make us very considerate for their failings. Since the Lord is graciously willing to cover our blemishes with the merit of the precious blood, we
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cannot do less than be “very pitiful” and of tender compassion towards others;—even tho their failings be greater or different from our own. This general rule is specially applicable to your own children. Their defects to some extent came from you or through you; hence, in dealing with their faults, you should do just as in correcting your own faults,—earnestly, rigorously, for their correction in righteousness, but sympathetically, mercifully, lovingly.
III. Do not be touchy and easily offended. Take a kindly, charitable view of the words and acts of others. A trifling slight or rebuff could well be passed unnoticed—covered with the mantle of generosity and love. A serious offense should be assumed to be unintentional, and inquiry should be kindly made in words that would not stir up anger, but in “speech seasoned with grace.” In a majority of cases it will prove that no offense was meant.
This rule in the Scriptures comes under the instructions not to indulge in “evil surmisings,”—imagining evil intentions and motives behind the words and acts of others. “Evil surmisings” is ranked by the Apostle as contrary to the words of our Lord Jesus, opposed to godliness, and of the same spirit as envy and strife—of a corrupt mind, works of the flesh and the devil.—1 Tim. 6:3-5; Gal. 5:19-21.
The other side of this subject is brought out by the Apostle’s injunction respecting the elements of the spirit of love, of which God’s people are begotten and which they are to cultivate daily,—the development of which is one of the chief proofs of their being “overcomers.” He says, “Love suffereth long and is kind, … is not easily offended, thinketh no evil, … beareth all things, believeth all things [favorably], hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
It may be urged that such a disposition would be imposed upon frequently, by the evilly disposed. We reply that those who possess this spirit of love are not necessarily obtuse nor soft: their experiences in cultivating this degree of love have served to develop them and make them of “quick understanding in the fear of the Lord.” They will be cautious where there is even the appearance of evil, even while avoiding the imputation of evil intentions until forced to concede them by indisputable evidence. Besides, it would be better far to take some trifling risks and suffer some slight losses, many times, than to accuse even one innocent person. And the Lord who has directed this course is abundantly able to compensate us for any losses experienced in following his counsel. He is both able and willing to make all such experiences work together for good to those who love him. He places obedience to his arrangements first (even before sacrifice) saying, “Ye are my disciples, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
Whoever neglects the Lord’s commands along this line of “evil surmisings” weaves a web for his own ensnarement, however “circumspectly” he may walk as respects other matters; for, a heart impregnated with doubt, and suspicion toward fellow creatures, is more than half prepared to doubt God: the spirit of sourness and bitterness implied is at war with the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of love. Either the one or the other will conquer. The wrong spirit must be gotten rid of, or it will defile the new creature and make of him a “castaway.” On the contrary, if the new nature conquer, as an “overcomer,” it will be along this line: if evil surmisings are overcome, half the battle against present difficulties and besetments is won. The surmisings are from the heart, and lead us either to good words and acts, or to evil words and acts.
IV. If you have been slandered, you may explain, to set yourself right, either publicly or privately; but surely avoid doing more than this. If you slander in return you make two wrongs out of one. Let no man render evil for evil to any one;—no, not even if what you should tell be the truth, while what your neighbor told was falsehood. And in contradicting and explaining false charges, remember not to go beyond this to make counter-charges against your defamer; for thus you also would become a slanderer.
This is the Scriptural rule. We are to do unto others as we would that they should do unto us, and not as they do unto us. The wrongs done toward us will never justify wrong doing on our part. God’s true children are to have no sympathy with Satan’s delusion—”Do evil that good may result.” But while no Scripture forbids our explaining away the errors and false statements of slanderers, experience proves that, if we followed Satan and his deluded servants of unrighteousness around, to contradict every adverse criticism and evil report, we should be kept more than busy. And if Satan found us willing to do so, he would no doubt lead us such a chase as would prevent our having any time to tell forth the good tidings of great joy; thus he would gain a victory, and we should lose one.
Rather let us commit our reputation to the Lord, as a part of the sacrifice we laid at his feet when we surrendered all in obedience to the “call” to run the race for the great prize of our high calling. If thus we suffer some loss of reputation, by reason of our resolution not to neglect the King’s business to fight for our own tinsel, we may be sure that it will count with him as so much endured for Christ’s sake; and so much the more will be our reward in heaven, when the battle is over and the victors are crowned.
Meantime, however, it behooves each of the Lord’s people to be as circumspect as possible at every step of the way. Remember that in proportion to faithfulness
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and zeal in letting the light shine we will have the malignant opposition of our great Adversary, who seeks to turn and twist and maliciously distort and discolor our every word and act;—because the accuser of the brethren can find no real charges; and because he is exceeding mad against the humble servants of the truth, as he was against the Chief Servant—our Lord. He, let us remember, was crucified as a law-breaker, at the instance of the prominent ones of the church, and betrayed to them by one of his own disciples.
” who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds” when attacked by the Adversary,—whoever may be his agents and whatever their missiles. He cannot harm but will only increase our reputation in the Lord’s sight, if we endure faithfully; and he can do no outward harm that God cannot overrule for the good of his cause—tho that good may sometimes mean “siftings” of chaff and tares from the wheat.
V. Evil speaking, backbiting and slandering are strictly forbidden to God’s people, as wholly contrary to his spirit of love—even if the evil thing be true. As a preventive of anything of the nature of slander, the Scriptures very carefully mark out one only way of redress of grievances, in Matt. 18:15-17.
Even advanced Christians seem to be utterly in ignorance of this divine ruling, and hence professed Christians are often the most pronounced scandal-mongers. Yet this is one of the few special, specific commandments given by our Lord; and considered in connection with the statement, Ye are my disciples if ye do whatever I command you, its constant violation proves that many are not far advanced in discipleship.
Let us look carefully at this rule which, if followed, would prevent gossip, “evil-speaking,” “backbiting.”
Its first provision, for a conference between the principals alone, implies candor on the part of the accuser who thinks that he has suffered; and whom here we will call A. It implies his thinking no evil of the accused, whom we will style B. They meet as “brethren,” each thinking his own course the right one, to discuss the matter; to see whether they can come to the same view. If they agree, all is well; the matter is settled; peace prevails; the threatened break has been averted, and no one is the wiser.
If they cannot agree, A may not start a scandal by relating his version;—not even to confidential friends may he disclose the matter, saying, “Don’t mention it; and especially don’t say I told you.” No; the matter is still “between thee and him [A and B] alone.” If A considers the matter important, so as to wish to prosecute the subject further, he has but one way open to him, namely, to ask two or three others to go with him to B and hear the case from both sides and give their judgment respecting its right and wrong sides. These should be chosen (1) as persons in whose Christian character and good sense and spirit of a sound mind A himself would have confidence, peradventure they should favor B’s view of the matter. (2) They should be chosen as with a view to B’s appreciation of their advice, if they should give their judgment of the matter in A’s favor.
It would, however, be wholly contrary to the spirit of justice as well as contrary to the spirit of the Master’s instructions here, for A to “talk it over” with several friends from whom he desired to select these “two or three witnesses,” to make sure that they favored his story (without hearing the other side) and would go to the conference prejudiced,—with their minds already determined against B. No; the matter is between A and B alone, until the two or three friends are brought in to hear both sides of the dispute in the presence of both parties.
If the judgment of the “brethren” is against B, he should hear them, should accept their view of the matter as the just, reasonable one;—unless it involves some principle in which he cannot conscientiously acquiesce. If the “brethren” see the matter from B’s standpoint, A should conclude that in all probability he had erred; and, unless conscience hindered, should accept the position and apologize to B and the brethren for the annoyance caused by his poor judgment. But none of the parties are at liberty to turn scandal-mongers and tell the matter, “confidentially,” to others.
If the decision went against A, and he still felt that he was injured and had failed to get justice through a poor choice of advisers, he might (without violence to the principles laid down by our Lord) call other advisers and proceed as before. If their decision were against him, or if he felt that he could not trust to the judgment of any, fearing that all would favor B, he should realize that part at least of his trouble is self-conceit, and would do well to fast and pray and study lines and principles of justice more carefully. But A has gained no right to tell anything to the Church nor to anyone, either publicly or privately. If he does so, it marks him at once as disobedient to the Lord and exercised by a bad spirit, a carnal spirit,—contrary to the spirit of the truth, the spirit of love.
If the committee decide partly against B, and only partly in favor of A, the brethren (A and B) should endeavor to see the matter thus, and to arrange matters amicably. In this case there would be nothing respecting the matter to tell;—nothing that is anybody’s business.
If the committee decide wholly against B and wholly in favor of A, and if B will not heed them and make reparation for the wrong or cease
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from injuring A, the latter is still not at liberty to become a scandal-monger; nor are the brethren of the committee. If A considers the matter of sufficient importance to justify further action, there is just one course open to him: he with the committee may lay the matter before the Church. Then the Church shall hear the matter, both sides, and whichever (A or B) shall refuse to recognize the advice of the Church shall be thereafter considered and treated by all as an outsider—as not of the Church, not to be fellowshipped; as dead, until such time as he may repent and reform;—a not very likely thing after rejecting such faithful treatment.
Thus did the Lord guard his true disciples from the insidious sin of slander which leads onward to other and grosser works of the flesh and the devil, and stops growth in the truth and its spirit of love. And let us note, too, that those who hear slanders and thus encourage slanderers in their wrong course, are partakers of their evil deeds; guilty partners in the violation of the Master’s commands. God’s true people should refuse to listen to slanders and should point the offender to the Lord’s Word and the only method therein authorized. “Are we wiser than God?” Experience teaches us that we cannot trust to our own judgments and are on safe ground only when following the voice of the Shepherd explicitly.
If any Brother or Sister begins to you an evil report of others, stop him at once, kindly but firmly. “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them.” Refuse to have any share in this violation of our Master’s commands, which does great mischief in the Church. Supposing the Brother or Sister to be only a “babe” in spiritual matters, call attention to the Lord’s ruling on the subject, Matt. 18:15, and 1 Tim. 5:19. If the conversation is not directed to you but merely in your hearing, promptly show your disapproval by withdrawing.
If, after having his attention called to the Lord’s command on this subject, the slanderer still persists in “evil-speaking,” “back-biting” and telling you his “evil surmisings,” reprove him more sharply, saying as you go,—I cannot, must not hear you; for if I did, I would be as criminal in the matter as you are—violating the Lord’s command. And even if I were to hear your story, I could not believe it; for the Christian who does not respect the Lord’s Word and follow his plan of redress for grievances, shows so little of the Lord’s spirit that his word can not be trusted. He who twists and dodges the Lord’s words would not hesitate to twist and misrepresent the words and deeds of fellow-disciples. Then withdraw fellowship from such until his error has been confessed with promises of reform. If to any extent you listen to such conversation or express “sympathy” with it or the gossiper or slanderer, you are a partner in the sin and in all its consequences; and if a “root of bitterness” is thus developed, you are more than likely to be one of those “defiled” by it.—Heb. 12:15.
A slanderer is a thief according to worldly standard: as Shakespeare wrote, “He who steals my purse steals trash; but he who steals my good name takes that which doth not make him rich, but leaves me poor indeed.” According to the Christian standard, still higher, as voiced by the Great Teacher, slanderers are murderers. (See Matt. 5:22; 1 John 3:15, Revised Version.) Thus seen, the very suggestion to slander is to be shunned, as of the spirit of Satan.—Jno. 8:44.
VI. God’s people should beware of pride as they would avoid the most deadly plague.
This rule, always good, and well backed by Scripture, seems doubly needful to those who are blessed with the light of present truth. This may seem strange: it may be reasoned that the receiving of so much grander views of God’s character and plan would make his people feel the more insignificant and humble, the more dependent on divine goodness, and the more trustful of God and the less trustful of themselves. And this should be the effect, always and ever: but alas, with very many it is not so.
Many get to feel that the knowledge of the plan of the ages proves them specially wise or great or good: they seem to forget that God hides the truth from the wise and great—that no flesh should glory in his sight. They love the truth selfishly, as dealers love their merchandise, for the sake of what they can get for it. If they cannot hope for wealth in exchange for the truth they can hope for small notoriety—to appear wiser than others, that they may dole it out in fragments and thus perpetuate their notoriety for wisdom, and gratify their pride or vanity. Such people do little to help circulate the present truth. If they cannot avoid it, they may mention MILLENNIAL DAWN or ZION’S WATCH TOWER or Tabernacle Shadows or Food for Thinking Christians or About Hell or About Spiritism; but when they do so it is usually with some disparaging remark; as for instance, that they “disagree in a good many things;” or that “they pin their faith to no man’s coat sleeve but go to the Word of God direct;” or that “the author isn’t much, merely reprinted what wiser people had written, and was endeavoring to make himself famous at their expense.”
Beware of all such people; sooner or later they will fly the track entirely, and injure more than they ever helped. God does not wish such people to serve his cause, and will surely permit their vanity to stumble them,—however much their natural ability—and it is generally people of real or fancied ability who are thus afflicted with the spirit of pride and vanity. God opposeth
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the proud, but showeth his favor to the humble. We call every reader of our publications to witness that the author has never boasted of his wisdom or originality, either publicly or privately. We have boasted in the truth, and shall continue to boast of it—that no human philosophies can hold a candle to its brilliant electric ray; but we have never boasted of being its originator. On the contrary, it is because we did not manufacture it, but because God has revealed it “in due time” as “meat in due season,” and because it is so much more wonderful than we or any other human being could originate or concoct, that we have confidence that none other than God is its Author and its Revealer.
If by the grace of God we have in any degree been used by him in serving present harvest truths to others, we rejoice in the service, and will continue to strive to be faithful to our stewardship: but as for vanity on this account, we see no room or reason for it. We are well aware that our Master could readily have found many others as fit and worthy of the service, and many more capable naturally: we can only suppose, therefore, that herein as previously—”God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of this world to confound the things that are mighty, … and the things that are despised … to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence.”—1 Cor. 1:27-29.
We therefore caution all who by the grace of God have been translated out of darkness into God’s marvelous light, that they walk proportionately the more humbly before the Lord: because, if the light received should become darkness, how great would be the darkness, and how hopeless the condition. It would, as the Apostle declares, be better for such never to have known the way of life. If salt lose its flavor it is good for nothing more than sand.
VII. Be pure: maintain a conscience void of offense toward God and men. Begin with the heart—the thoughts: harbor no thoughts that in any sense of the word would be evil. To make sure of this, have Christ Jesus as your pattern, well and much before your mind. When evil is obtruded upon you, either from without or from within, lift your heart to him in prayer for the grace promised to help in every time of need. Keep constantly near you the thought and prayer, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”
VIII. While treasuring and seeking to follow the various specific commands of Scripture, let us seek more and more to understand and come into sympathy with the principles which underlie the divine law: this will enable us to judge of the right and the wrong of such of our words, thoughts and acts as may not be particularly specified in the Lord’s Word. Indeed, as we get to understand and sympathize with the principles of divine law, to that extent we are getting at the spirit of the divine Word.—See Psa. 119:97-105.
IX. Shun a contentious and fault-finding disposition as contrary to the spirit or disposition of Christ—contrary to love.
A certain amount of combative courage is demanded in overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil and their various snares, and this fighting disposition may become a valuable aid to ourselves and the Master’s cause if rightly and wisely directed;—against sin, first in ourselves and secondly in others; if used for the Lord and his people, and against Satan and all his powers of darkness and superstition. This in the Scriptures is called fighting the good fight: and we all should be gallant soldiers in this battle for right and truth, lovingly defending our Captain’s honor and his people’s liberties.
But such a good use of combativeness is not pleasing to the Prince of this world, and he will seek to pervert what he cannot directly use. Consequently he attempts with some to make combativeness appear a chief virtue: he encourages them to fight everything and everybody;—the brethren more than the powers of darkness;—nominal churchmen more than the errors and ignorance which blind them and make them such. Indeed his desire is to get us to “fight against God.”
Let us be on guard on this point. Let us first of all judge ourselves lest we cast a stumbling block before others: let us fight down in our own hearts the wrong spirit which seeks to make mountains out of trifles and disposes us to be captious and contentious over littles and nonessentials. “Greater is he that ruleth his own spirit than he that taketh a city.” Let us guard ourselves that our defense of the truth be not from motives of self glorification; but from love for the truth, love for the Lord and love for his people, the brethren. If love be the impelling spirit or motive, it will show itself accordingly, in loving, gentle, patient, humble efforts toward the fellow-servants; and let us be “gentle toward all.” Let “the sword of the spirit, the Word of God,” which is quick and powerful, do all the cutting.
X. Beware of all thoughts, feelings and conditions directly or remotely connected with malice, envy, strife, hatred. Give these no place in your heart even for a moment; for they will surely do you great injury, aside from leading to the injury of others. Keep your heart, your will, your intentions and desires full of love toward God and all his creatures,—the most fervent toward God, and proportionately toward all who have his spirit and walk in his directed way.
XI. Do not trust your conscience. If it were a sufficient guide you would have no need of the Scriptures. The majority of people have as good as no conscience; for they are blind to the principles and laws of God given to guide conscience. And still worse off than these are those mentioned in 1 Tim. 4:2. Hence the imperative necessity for carefully heeding the Lord’s Word, and walking circumspectly according to its light.
XII. Do not be bold, except for the right, the truth. So far as yourself is concerned preserve a reverential fear—of sin, and of displeasing the Master, and of losing the great reward—”the prize of our high calling.” Nearly all who “fall away,” first lose all fear and become self-confident. They forget that it is only “If ye do these things ye shall never fall.” (2 Pet. 1:5-10.) “Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should seem to come short of it.” (Heb. 4:1.) Partly because of the loss of this proper fear, “It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance.”
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SOME feel that the feet-washing mentioned in John 13:4-17 is as important as the Memorial Supper; and hence we will here consider the subject: altho only one of the Evangelists remembered even to mention it.
In Eastern countries, where sandals were worn, and the feet thus exposed to sand and dust, feet-washing was a regular custom, and an actual necessity. This service was considered very menial, and the humblest servants or slaves performed it for the family and guests.
Our Lord had noticed among his disciples a spirit of selfishness; he had overheard them disputing which of them should be greatest in authority and dignity in the Kingdom he had promised to share with them; and, foreseeing that this spirit would injure them in proportion as it grew and strengthened, he had rebuked them for their lack of humility. So indeed it did, in the fourth to the sixth centuries, blossom and yield bitter fruit, in the organization of Papacy, and the train of evils and errors which still flow from that impure fountain.
To illustrate the proper spirit which should characterize all who would be his disciples, he took a little child and set him in the midst, and said, Except ye become (artless and simple) as a little child, you are not fit for the Kingdom for which I am calling you. Ye know how the Gentiles lord it over one another, and recognize caste and station, but it must not be so with you. Ye have but one Master, and all ye are brethren; and he that would be chief, let him become chief servant. (Mark 10:35-45.) They who serve you most, you must mark as your chief ones. I am the chief servant myself; for the Son of man came not to be served by others, and honored thus, but he came to serve others, even to the extent of giving his life in their service. As therefore my greatest service toward you renders me your chief, so shall it be among you. Esteem and honor one another in proportion as you find in each other unselfish sacrificing love and service. Esteem such very highly for their works’ sake.—1 Thes. 5:13.
But for all this, the spirit of pride and a desire to “lord it” over others, and be reverenced as chief, was there, even after three and a half years spent with the Master, and under his example; and as he was about to leave them. Jesus sought, even on the last evening with them, to impress this lesson indelibly upon their hearts. So, after the Passover Supper, he arose from the table and performed for his disciples the most menial service, in washing their feet. They probably had not even thought of performing such a service for each other or for him, and even had consideration enough to object to his thus serving them in so humble a manner.
When Jesus had finished, he said to them, “Know ye what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. If you understand and appreciate the lesson I have given you, and will practice it, you will be blessed thereby, helped in my service, and prepared for the Kingdom in which I have promised you a share.—John 13:4-17.
That the lesson had its designed effect we can scarcely doubt, as we look at the course of several of
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the apostles, and see how, with much self-denial, they served the body of Christ, of which they were fellow-members, following the example of the Head, who was chief servant of all.
The question arises, What did the Lord mean when he said, “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done?” Was the example in the principle, in the lesson of service one toward another? or was the example in the method of service, in the ceremony of feet-washing? To suppose the latter would be to hide the real lesson under a form. And if the example were in the form, then every item in the form should be observed: an upper room; a supper; sandals should be worn; the same kind of garments; the towel girdle; etc. But no: the “example” which we should follow lay in the humble serving of the disciples by the Master, regardless of form. His example of serving the fellow-members in even the most menial manner is what we should follow—and blessed will we be in proportion as we do follow it. In that proportion we shall be prepared for the everlasting Kingdom and service of God.
Those now living in Eastern countries, where sandals are still worn may find an opportunity now to follow the example, the same form which the Master used, as well as other forms; and those differently circumstanced may follow the “example” in a thousand forms. Some of the fellow-disciples probably live in your city and in mine. How can we serve them? How can we show them our love and sympathy according to the Lord’s “example?” Not in this climate by washing their feet—this would be an inconvenience, the very reverse of a pleasure and service to them, and therefore contrary to the “example.” But we can serve the “body” otherwise, and truly follow the example. We can improve our various opportunities to serve them in matters temporal as well as spiritual. We can be on the lookout, and when we see sadness or discouragement, we can lend a helping hand to lift our brother’s burdens, or our sister’s sorrows, and we can let them see by deeds, as well as words, our anxiety to serve them—figuratively speaking, to wash their feet.
Do not wait until they request your assistance; for in proportion as they are developed disciples, they will not ask your aid. Do not wait until they tell you of their burdens and trials, but watch to anticipate; for in proportion as they partake of our Master’s spirit, they will not be complainers, but will live “always rejoicing”—rejoicing even in tribulations.
Be not ashamed of such service of the “body,”
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but seek and rejoice in it—”ye do serve the Lord, Christ.” But still more important than temporal service is our service one of another as “new creatures.”
The washing of the body with the truth—the sanctifying and cleansing of it with the word—is in progress now. (Eph. 5:26,27.) What are you doing to cleanse and purify the faith and lives of your fellow members? Do you approach them humbly with the truth, sincerely anxious to serve them, to bless and comfort and refresh them therewith? If so, go on; grand is your service; the Master served thus; this is his example; follow on. The more you can thus serve, and at the greater cost of time, and effort, and convenience, and self-interest, the greater will you be in the eyes of the Master, and the more honored and beloved of the body when they shall come to see and know you, as the Lord sees and knows your love and service.
Follow closely, then, the noble “example” of Jesus: wash and be washed one of another, cleanse and purge away the defilements with which each comes daily in contact in the world, that ye may be clean, “through the word spoken unto you.” Purge out the old leaven of hypocrisy, and envy, and self-exaltation, even as ye have already been justified from all things and reckoned pure and holy by the merit of the precious blood which the chief servant and Lord of all gave for all.—2 Tim. 2:20,21.
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“THE NIGHT COMETH WHEREIN NO MAN CAN WORK”
THE article from Brother Woodworth, which follows, will be read by all with great interest. If it be merely speculation, it is surely ingenious. We received it eight months ago, but after careful consideration wrote our dear brother W. that we enjoyed the reading of it but could not endorse it as truth—that it is more fanciful, inferential and speculative than anything we have ever published. Brother W. was by no means offended at this, but urged that if published even as a conjecture or with a suggestion that it may be only a cunningly devised fable, it might do some good by awakening some to the fact that whether this calculation be right or wrong, evidently “the time is short,” anyway, for labor in this great harvest work. We give a portion of his letter:—
February 16, 1898
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—In reply to your loving letter of the 14th, I beg to assure you that I sympathize with your statement that you have considerable hesitation in respect to this matter, for I think I realize quite clearly just how important it is that you should be cautious in what you place before the Lord’s hungry “sheep.” If, therefore, after you have carefully considered the points, you still feel averse to publishing the article, how would it do to mention that you were considering some further points in the chronology, which, if correct, would show that the night will begin to settle down early next year—that you had not yet fully satisfied yourself as to their correctness and that since the time is now so near at hand you think best not to make any definite statements for the present, but to wait and see whether the date will be corroborated by developments? It would seem to me that you would thus be provided with a good opportunity for an exhortation to special effort during the year, and at the same time no harm can come in case we should find my arguments unsupported by the facts. However, this is merely a suggestion.
I treat the Time of Harvest as one complete day, from sunrise to sunrise. It seemed to me clear that having established the proportion of light : darkness :: 14.6 : 9.4 in its application to a representative harvest day of 24 literal hours, the same proportion should hold good in the division into day and night of the great forty-year harvest day in which we are now living. Reasoning in this way I found the date February 1st, 1899.
In my understanding the period from Oct. 1st, 1874, to Feb. 1st, 1899, would therefore represent the 12 Jewish hours of daylight, while the period from Feb. 1st, 1899, to Oct. 1st, 1914, would represent the four “watches” of night, the night including a period of twilight at each end.
Do as you may think best, and be assured I will continue to be, as ever, your brother and servant in the hope of the Gospel,
CLAYTON J. WOODWORTH
* * *
We conclude to place the matter before the TOWER readers with the foregoing cautions against accepting this matter as of the same weight and authority as the more definitely stated prophecies treated in the MILLENNIAL DAWN volumes. Should the outward work of “sealing” with the truth be stopped at the date indicated it will surprise us greatly—our expectation being that it will continue for probably eight years yet, until the Religious Federation shall have been consummated and have gained sufficient political prestige to deprive us of our rights of publication, etc. Nevertheless, we wish to use this year and every year as tho it were the last for this precious service of the Lord, his Word and his “sheep.” And this is the spirit of all possessed of the holy spirit of God’s dear Son.
Brother Woodworth’s article follows.
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THE WHEAT HARVEST
ITS CLOSE NIGH AT HAND
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—In a back number of the WATCH TOWER (1893) you quote from a subscriber who says:—”It is evident that a portion of the forty years of the Gospel harvest will be a ‘night,’ without opportunity for labor, and this harvest time is now nearly half consumed. Since there probably will be ten years of ‘night’ but little more than a decade remains for active service.”
Then follows an editorial comment in these words: “May not this imply that the forty-year day will be practically divided in the middle, and hence that from 1895 onward the darkness may be expected to gather more and more?”
These suggestions seem to me to be the first steps toward the unfolding of a great truth. It will occur at once to any person who gives the subject careful thought that as, during the harvest season, the days are somewhat longer than the nights, the same should be true of the Gospel harvest, and this is the experience of those who are now laboring as co-reapers with the Master. The time of harvest is more than half gone, but the daylight still continues; there is still here and there an “Israelite indeed” who, when he hears the “joyful sound” is glad to come “out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
But as, in a literal harvest day, the length of the daylight does not greatly exceed that of the night, so, in this harvest time, we should expect the present favorable opportunity for effective service to soon draw to a close; and indications are not wanting to the watchers in Zion that ere long the last “over-ripe” (parched, thirsty) head of wheat will have been gathered, and the harvest of this age will have been fully reaped.—See Matt. 13:30 and Rev. 14:16, Revised Version, margin.
In Matthew 13:24-30,36-43, our great Teacher and Chief Reaper, in speaking of this time of harvest, has called it a wheat harvest, and it would seem that if we could by some means ascertain what is the representative wheat-harvesting day of the world, and what its length is, we might learn something of value. At first thought this may seem a difficult thing to do, but with the Lord’s help the problem may be solved more easily than one would suppose. The first step in its solution is to find
WHERE TO LOOK FOR THE WHEAT
Thanks to the labors of those who “run to and fro” in this day of increased knowledge, this is a very simple matter, and below are given, from the American Agriculturist hand book for 1897, the latest and most reliable statistics available of the wheat crop of the world.
[Brother W. here furnishes statistics for each state in the United States and for the several wheat-producing countries of the remainder of the world. These statistics show that Minnesota and North Dakota produce the largest crops of the United States, and that Russia, France, Hungary, Germany and Italy are the chief wheat countries of Europe in the order named, British India being chief in Asia.]
We give the summary as follows:—Continent 1895.
North America……………………… 538,563,000
South America……………………… 85,000,000
If you will kindly take an atlas and look up the location of these countries, you will be surprised, first, to find that in every instance the larger portion of the country named lies within the Temperate Zone (north or south), while in the great majority of cases the entire country lies wholly within that zone. But you will be still more surprised if you investigate the matter further, to find that in the few countries which do touch or project into other zones, the wheat producing provinces lie entirely within the Temperate Zone. This means that
THE ENTIRE CROP IS GROWN IN THE TEMPERATE ZONE
Of the wheat production of India, the Encyclopedia Brittanica says:—”Broadly speaking, it may be said that wheat does not thrive anywhere south of the Deccan” (which lies on the border between the Torrid and Temperate Zones). The entire civilized region of Egypt lies in the Temperate Zone, and the sections of Western Australia and Queensland which extend north of the tropic of Capricorn are barren and uninhabited.” It is interesting to note, however, from the Encyclopedia Brittanica that wheat has been “grown in Norway as far north as latitude 65 degrees,” only 1-1/2 degrees from the arctic circle. We thus have conclusive evidence that practically all of the wheat of the world is grown in the Temperate Zone.
[Brother W. next proves satisfactorily (we omit the evidences which are lengthy) that the 45th parallel is the center of the wheat producing belt: and this line he finds runs through the principal wheat state of these United States—passing through its capital city, Minneapolis, the greatest wheat and wheat flour market in the world;—with twenty-six flouring mills producing over 10,000,000 barrels per annum.
Seeking next for the date of harvest, he gives abundant statistics to prove that the first day of August would represent the average middle of wheat harvest the world over, and continues—]
THE LENGTH OF THE DAY
Having thus ascertained beyond all reasonable question that the center of the world’s wheat belt is the 45th parallel of latitude, and that its representative harvest day is August 1st, it becomes a comparatively simple matter to ascertain the length of the average wheat harvest day. It is only necessary to find the time of sunrise and sunset on the 45th parallel of latitude on August 1st.
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[Further elaborate calculations are given here, showing that—] From 4.48 A.M. to 7.24 P.M. is 14 hours and 36 minutes, which, if these calculations are correct, is therefore the length of the harvest day of the world.
FEBRUARY 1ST, 1899, MARKS THE CLOSE OF THE DAY
We are now ready to apply what we have learned. If the length of the harvest period from October 1st, 1874, to October 1st, 1914, be considered as a day, part of which is light and part darkness, we can easily find what portion of the forty-year period will correspond with the daylight. To begin with, we will reduce the forty years of “harvest” to months. 40 times 12 equals 480 months. Now, taking the length of the average harvest day, we have 14 hours and 36 minutes =14.6 hours=14.6/24 or 146/240 or 292/480 of the day. The 14 hours and 36 minutes from sunrise to sunset, therefore, corresponds to 292 months from the time when the Sun of Righteousness arose, October 1st, 1874. (MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., p.188.) 292 months equals 24 years and 4 months. 24 years and 4 months from October 1st, 1874, brings us to February 1st, 1899, as marking the close of this harvest day (sunset), and would seem to indicate that by that time the harvest work [of gathering from the world] will be finished [—tho much threshing and winnowing may still be in order]; i.e., that the last of the “overcomers” will have been sealed with the knowledge of present truth, and the shadows of the night, wherein no man can work, will then begin to settle down.
But, even after the sunlight is withdrawn, it seems probable that there will still be a period corresponding to twilight, in which those who are really anxious to labor in the Master’s cause may find the opportunity. It is plain that there must come a time when the last member of the prospective bride of Christ will come to a knowledge of the truth. It is clear also, that after that time has come, he or she must, to some extent at least, “spend and be spent” in the Master’s service. This being the case, it follows as a matter of course, that the “door” of opportunity will not be immediately and forever closed when the last saint has been sealed, but that the shadows will gradually deepen. It seems clear to me, therefore, that while it will still be possible to work for the Master after February 1st, 1899, it will not be possible to do any further [outward] harvest work, for the last overcoming saint will have been “sealed in his forehead” with a knowledge of the truth before that time. It behooves us all to do with our might what our hands find to do, while it is called to-day.
CONFIRMED BY THE TIME OF PUBLICATION OF THE
“PLAN OF THE AGES”
From a careful study of Revelation, I became convinced long ago that the 10th chapter refers, in general, to the rise and development of present truth, but specifically to MILLENNIAL DAWN; please see also pages 88, 89 of Volume III.
As nearly as I can ascertain, the publication of the first volume of this wonderful set of Bible helps was looked for eagerly by all the friends of the truth, and the book itself was and still is regarded by its author as his first clear and systematic presentation of the divine plan of the ages. In support of this I quote from pages 114, 115 of Harvest Siftings, as follows:—”It was about this time that. … I took occasion to promise MILLENNIAL DAWN, which should present the Plan of the Ages in the clearer, more orderly manner made possible by the new light shed upon every feature of it by the lessons from the Tabernacle;” and again: “Some who have The Three Worlds or the old edition of Day Dawn, would perhaps like to know my present opinion of them—whether I still think them profitable books to loan to truth seekers. To this I reply, Certainly not; because the very immature views of God’s truth therein presented fall far short of what we now see to be God’s wonderful plan. … All now so clear was then blurred, mixed and indistinct. Neither had we seen the steps or planes, shown upon the Chart of the Ages, MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., which have assisted so many to distinguish between justification and sanctification, and to determine their present standing and relationship to God. … Even Food for Thinking Christians I no longer commend, because it is less systematic than later publications.” Again, in speaking of these earlier works it says: “Things which are now clear as noonday were then cloudy and mixed.”
Thus, by your own words, it is apparent that the light of truth did not shine upon all the features of the Divine Plan until we were well on in the harvest day—until noonday—until the “Sun” had reached the zenith and poured its light-giving rays into the secret recesses of the deep things of God. And what was noonday to you was noonday to all, as soon as The Plan of The Ages had been published.
To find, therefore, the time of publication of the Plan of the Ages will, it seems to me, be to find midday of this harvest season, and this can be easily done. On the fourth cover-page of every paper bound copy of The Plan of the Ages occur these words: “Special Issue of Zion’s Watch Tower, representing numbers 3, 4 and 5 of Volume VIII.,” which numbers correspond to November 1st, 1886, December 1st, 1886 and January 1st, 1887. As the middle date of these three is December 1st, 1886, that is evidently the midday hour of this harvest day.
In the “Helps” in the back of my Bible I find the following remarks under the heading “The Day and its Divisions:” “The hour varied in length with that of the daylight to be subdivided. To compute any given hour of a Jewish day in modern terms is thus a matter of some complication, as only one hour of the Jewish day,—that of noon—would always correspond with one hour of our day.” Reckoning back, therefore, from this important hour, midday, to sunrise, (assuming the publication of MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., to have been midday in this 40 year harvest day) we find that the difference between October 1st, 1874, and December 1st, 1886, or, in other words, the first half of the harvest day (from sunrise to noon), is 12 years and 2 months. Accordingly, the last half of the day, or from midday to sunset, will be of the same length. 12 years and 2 months from December 1st, 1886, brings us to February 1st, 1899, and exactly confirms what we had previously learned. If this were all the evidence to show that February 1st, 1899 marks the date of sealing of the last overcomer, it would be sufficient, but there is still more.
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CONFIRMED BY THE HALF HOUR OF SILENCE
After mentioning, in Chap. 6, the various epochs which, under the symbols of seals, mark the events connected with the rise and fall of Papacy and with those of “the time of the end,” Revelation 7:2,3, says: “And I saw another angel [messenger] ascending from the East [the messenger of the covenant—the Sun of Righteousness], having the seal of the living God [the seventh and last]“ and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” The balance of the chapter, verses 4-17, seems to me to be a parenthesis, thrown in to conceal, until God’s due time, the meaning of the first verse of chapter 8. If I understand the subject correctly, this verse closes the subject of the seals, the balance of chapter 8 dealing with an entirely different subject.
Correctly translated, the verse reads, “And when he had opened the seventh seal there was silence in heaven during half an hour.” The word “silence” has a double significance. It not only conveys the impression of a time of deep study and thoughtfulness, but of a calm before a storm, and as here used seems to me to plainly mean both. Please note carefully that this time of silence takes place
(1) While the saints are being sealed.
(2) While the winds of the time of trouble are withheld, and see how perfectly it coincides with both thoughts.
Again, Christ and his Church, since April 1st, 1878 (the date when “He took to himself his great power and began his reign”) really constitute the heaven, and as the prophecy, “He uttered his voice [i.e., broke the “silence”], the earth melted,” is not yet fulfilled, I hold it to be unmistakable evidence that the time of silence and the work of sealing are one and the same thing; and that both began April 1st, 1878. This is the date when it was first possible to apply the Lord’s command, “Come out of her, my people;” for it was not till then that Babylon was cast off; this is the date marked in the time parallels as the time when our Lord took to himself his great power and began his reign; it marks the rejection and commencement of the fall to everlasting destruction of what has constituted the heavens all down during the Gospel age; it indicates the beginning of the return of favor to fleshly Israel; it is the end of the 360-year periods or “times” of Revelations; it is the date when the first resurrection (of the Church, the body of Christ) began, and the time from which it is said, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now henceforth.” It is, therefore, a focal point toward which the rays of prophecy converge.
Moreover, since then the work of “sealing” the saints has progressed in an orderly, systematic and wonderfully thorough manner. During all this time the winds of the time of trouble have been held and the “silence in heaven” which commenced, as we have shown, on April 1st, 1878, still continues. The seventh seal, by way of contrast with the other seals, is called the “Seal of the living God.” It lies wholly within God’s day,—the seventh thousand-year day, the Millennium,—and the events which occur under it are specially under God’s direction. The scale, therefore, by which the half hour of silence should be measured is not the “year for a day” scale by which God measures human events, but is the scale by which God measures his own work. In speaking of the events of this day of judgment, Peter says, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8.) Using this divinely provided scale it becomes a very easy matter to find the length of the half hour. One half hour is one forty-eighth of a literal day. One forty-eighth of a thousand years is 20 years and 10 months. 20 years and 10 months from April 1st, 1878, brings us again to February 1st, 1899, as marking the date when the last overcomer will be sealed, and the storm of the great time of trouble will begin to break. Perhaps it will be worth mentioning that by this scale one hour would be 41 years and 8 months, this corresponds with the period from the beginning of the seventh thousand years or Day of the Lord, to October 1st, 1914, and reminds one of Rev. 18:10,17,19, where it is thrice repeated that “in one hour” the judgment and desolation of Babylon takes place.
CONFIRMED BY THE LENGTH OF THE NIGHT
In several places in MILLENNIAL DAWN reference is made to the fact that the French Revolution is a type of the great time of trouble or “night,” into which we anticipate the world will soon be plunged; and it seems probable that if we can find the length of that period of unrest, we may be able to learn something of further advantage. After mentioning the gathering of the National Assembly, and their claim on June 17th, 1789, that they were the legitimate representatives of the French people, Anderson’s General History, page 572 says:—
“Thus was inaugurated that tremendous social and political convulsion known as the French Revolution, which in its progress not only overturned the government of France, but threw the whole of the civilized world into violent commotion, uprooting institutions that had withstood the assaults of ages. The king and his ministers, dismayed at the determination shown by the lower order and desiring to check their proceedings, attempted to exclude them from their hall and thus suspend their sittings. … An insurrection of the populace of Paris ensued, and the Bastile, a noted prison, was stormed and captured by the mob, July 14th, 1789. The excited populace then proceeded to Versailles and demanded that the king and royal family should return to Paris, and Louis felt himself obliged to comply.” (July 17th, 1789.)
Concerning king Louis’ memorable journey from Versailles to Paris, Abbott’s “Life of Marie Antoinette,” says:—
“As on the morning of the 17th of July, the king entered his carriage, with a slender retinue and with no military protection, to expose himself to the dangers of his tumultuous capital, this whole body formed in procession, on foot, and followed him. A countless throng of artisans and peasants flocked through all the streets of Versailles, and poured in from the surrounding country, armed with scythes and bludgeons, and
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joined the strange cavalcade. Every moment the multitude increased, and the road, both before and behind the king, was so clogged with the accumulating mass that seven hours passed before the king arrived at the gates of the city. During all this time he was exposed to every conceivable insult. As Louis was conducted to the Hotel de Ville a hundred thousand armed men lined the way, and he passed along under the arch of their sabres crossed over his head. The cup of degradation, he was compelled to drain to its dregs.”
As the first great result of the French Revolution was to humble royalty, to destroy reverence for “names” of men, (Rev. 11:13), we are safe in fixing upon the date of the humbling of the French monarch, July 17th, 1789, as the time when something more than claims had been made, or mob violence attempted, and the people had begun to know their power and to use it. We therefore look upon this date as the real beginning of the “tremendous social and political convulsion” of that period.
Now looking ahead to the great time of trouble coming, we know that it will only come to its final end when Isaiah 2:2-4 is fulfilled—”And many people shall go and say, Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths.” With this in mind we look amid the troublous events which stirred France from end to end a century ago, for a personage who was not only a mighty factor in those events, but who, so far as he was able, so shaped them as to cause them all, eventually, to work together for his own aggrandizement. Needless to say we find him in the “Man of Destiny”—Napoleon Bonaparte, he who so narrowly missed becoming a universal monarch that he is described at length in that wonderful eleventh chapter of Daniel, in which they all find a place.—See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III., chapter 2.
As all students of history know, Napoleon, during the latter part of the French time of trouble, caused the fickle populace to really play into his hands. He became successively the First Consul, then Consul for life, and finally Emperor. But even when he had been crowned Emperor of the French he had not yet attained the height of his power, and we must look for an event in his life which will correspond with the homage which, about October 1st, 1914, we expect will be paid to the rightful Lord of Earth. Such event did occur, and by those who feared and hated him was considered of such importance that it caused a coalition to be formed against him by the combined governments of Europe. From Arnault and Panckoucke’s Life of Napoleon, Part I., page 206, I quote a description of this event:—
“Napoleon no longer indulged the least hesitation in putting upon his head the iron crown of the kings of the Lombards. In reality, as Napoleon had established royalty in France, he could not think of suffering a republic to subsist in the north of Italy, and as, during his Consulship, he had prepared the French for an imperial regimen, he had also brought the Italian republic into such a state that it was impossible to preserve its independence. From its first existence this republic had been led by him, as it were, in leading strings, but from the moment he was declared Emperor of France a change in the Italian constitution was to be expected. In order to be more sure of the assent of his new subjects, he used the same means as he had adopted in 1802. He summoned the Italian consulta to meet him at Paris for the professed purpose of adding those modifications and changes that times and circumstances had rendered necessary. On the 17th of March, 1805, therefore, M. de Melzi, Vice President of the Italian republic, arrived at Paris at the head of a deputation from the Cisalpine Republic, to express their cordial acquiescence in a monarchial and hereditary government, and also their wishes that Napoleon, being (already) proclaimed king of Italy, would not suffer a year to elapse before he came to be crowned,” etc.
This, I believe, was the proudest day of Napoleon’s life, when the representatives of that country which for two thousand years had—under one form of government or another—ruled the world, came to lay their homage at his feet and beseech him to be their lord.
Anderson’s General History, page 579, under the heading “King of Italy,” says:—
“Napoleon received the crown of France from the hands of the Pope; and subsequently, at Milan, caused himself to be crowned King of Italy, with the famous “iron crown” of the Lombards (1805). These assumptions of power led to another coalition against him, on the part of England, Austria, Russia, Sweden and Prussia.”
From this date, March 17th, 1805 (when his imperial power was first recognized by the Italian government), back to the beginning of the French Revolution, July 17th, 1789, was 15 years and 8 months, and if I am acting upon right premises this should be the length of time from October 1st, 1914, back to the beginning of the great time of trouble. 15 years and 8 months back from October 1st, 1914, brings us again to Feb. 1st, 1899, and confirms all we have previously learned!
Having found the length of the “night” to be 15 years and 8 months, it may be of interest to note if we divide this into four equal watches,—as was the Jewish custom,—where the end of the cock-crowing or third watch, and the beginning of the morning or fourth watch will occur. 15 years and 8 months equals 188 months; three quarters of 188 months would be 141 months, or 11 years and 9 months. 11 years and 9 months from February 1st, 1899, brings us to November 1st, 1910. This synchronizes very closely with the teachings of the pyramid (Vol. III., p. 363). The difference of one month from October 1st to November 1st, suggests that possibly the “month” referred to by Brother Dickinson in the November 1st, ’96, TOWER may have a literal as well as a symbolic fulfilment, and that some great catastrophe, the worst event of the year of October 1st, 1910 to October 1st, 1911, may occur about that time, and that as Christ has promised his followers that if worthy they would be permitted to escape the severest troubles of this coming day of wrath, he will take the last one to himself before that catastrophe has come. It seems reasonable, also, to suppose that it will take but a very short time after the last members of the body of Christ (the light of the world) have been taken from the earth, until the darkest hour of that dark night will have involved Great Babylon in inextricable confusion and dismay.
In love and fellowship, Your brother in Christ, July 12, ’97
CLAYTON J. WOODWORTH.
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JOHN THE BAPTIST AND HIS MURDERERS
—MAR. 20.—MATT. 14:1-12.—
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”—Prov. 4:23
THIS lesson relates more particularly to Herod and Herodias, than to John the baptizer. It will be remembered that John had faithfully reproved Israel’s sins, calling the nation to repentance—in preparation to receive their Messiah and the long promised Kingdom of God. His work, while faithfully done so far as he was concerned, and while not devoid of fruits, was nevertheless a failure as respected the bringing of Israel into a proper condition of heart, that as Israelites indeed they might be prepared to receive Jesus as the Messiah. Had John succeeded, the mission of Jesus to Israel would have been successful; and then, instead of the nation’s being rejected from divine favor and overthrown in a great time of trouble, it would have received additional divine blessings, taking the place now occupied by the Christian Church: but, as it was, the words of the prophet were fulfilled, “Tho Israel be as the sands of the sea, yet a remnant only shall be saved.” The unready stumbled, were “broken off.”
In this respect we have seen that John, like Elijah, was a type or illustration of the entire Gospel Church in the flesh,—in its earthly career.* John himself, however, tho a loyal servant to the Lord and a martyr for the truth, was not a member of the Gospel Church. He belongs on the lower plane, with the overcomers of the Jewish age. Our Lord clearly declares this; “The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the Kingdom of Heaven is preached.” (Luke 16:16.) Again he said, “There hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding, he that is least in the Kingdom of Heaven [Church] is greater than he.” (Matt. 11:11.) None could share in the “high calling,” nor in any manner be recognized by the Father as members of the house of sons, who died prior to our Lord’s death and resurrection,—prior to the giving of the holy spirit of adoption, whereby all the house of sons are “sealed unto the day of redemption.”—John 1:12; Eph. 4:30.
*MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., page 251.
John’s position in the future, therefore, will not be that of a member of the Bride, the Heavenly Kingdom class; but with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets, amongst whom he was one of the chief, he will be privileged to participate as a member of the earthly phase of the Kingdom, and be one of the “princes in all the earth.” And as a servant of the Kingdom he will be greatly honored and blessed and used, in that position to which by the grace of God he was called. And we might here remark that the ancient worthies who will thus be the servants of the Kingdom class, are not thus differently honored from the Church because less faithful than the overcomers of the Gospel age: on the contrary, had they not been faithful they would not be honored at all. Only overcomers will have any part in the Kingdom work; and any part in that work will be honorable and desirable. God desired two classes and hence in his plan called two classes, both honorable and to honorable service;—the one on the earthly plane, the other on the spiritual. There was no obligation to “call” either class: it is an honor to be called and to be used of the Lord in any part of his service; and all thus used will be perfect, each on his own plane, and be perfectly satisfied with his estate: just as fish are better satisfied to be in the water, while birds are better satisfied to be in the air.
John’s candor in reproving Herod for living in adultery with his brother Phillip’s wife, brought against him not only Herod’s ill-will, but especially the ill-will of the woman. It would seem indeed that it was the woman, Herodias, that was the instigator of Herod’s entire course toward John. We read, “Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him and would have killed him; but she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and saved him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.”—Mark 6:19-25.
Herodias was therefore on the lookout for some opportunity to overcome Herod’s sympathy and fear, and to accomplish the death of John, who had now been imprisoned, at her instance, for over a year. Her opportunity came when, at a birthday banquet, Herod, surrounded by his “lords and high captains,” and charmed by the dancing of Saloam (the daughter of Herodias), promised her whatever she might ask even to the half of his kingdom. The wickedness and intense malignity of the woman’s heart against John, simply because of his reproof of her wrong course, is fully shown by the fact that at her instance the daughter chose the death of John in preference even to a half of Herod’s kingdom.
Incidentally, too, this narrative shows how great an influence a wrong-minded woman can exercise. Herod was under her influence to such an extent that he had put away his lawful wife to make room for this wicked woman: her daughter was under her influence so that she was willing to relinquish half a kingdom to fulfil her mother’s wicked will. One lesson here set before us is that, while women naturally are more sentimental than men, and under favorable circumstances dominated by good sentiments, yet, if they become evil-minded and vicious, they are correspondingly disposed to go to even greater extremes of wickedness
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than their brothers. It is of absolute importance to men that they should not only be emptied of the evil spirit of selfishness and sin, but that they should be filled with the spirit of Christ, the holy spirit: all this is still more important as respects woman, with her more sentimental nature for either good or evil.
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What a suggestive lesson is here for mothers in respect to their power over their daughters either for good or for evil. And here we trespass upon our subject sufficiently to remark that woman’s proper sphere of influence is the home—as saith the Scriptures. A true, pure, noble, sensible mother has an almost untellable influence for good or for evil with her husband and sons as well as with her daughters. What a great mistake has been made by some well-intentioned but not Scripturally guided mothers in leaving the home privileges, opportunities and duties put into their hands by Providence, to go out into the world to attempt its reformation. How frequently the homes of female suffragists and female reformers are neglected, the evil effects thereof falling upon husbands and children. Let every mother feel that in her own family and family connections, and in the opportunities opened to her in the Church, the Lord’s family, she has abundant opportunity for the exercise of every talent and grace, and that in a manner fully in accordance with the divine Word and therefore in harmony with the wisdom which cometh from above.
Herod was grieved, “sorry,” for the unexpected turn matters took in connection with his unwise offer. We are not to infer from this any heart repentance, but merely that the matter was incongruous to his sentiments and wishes. But proud of his word as a king, proud also of the power, and desirous of appearing omnipotent as possible before his nobles, none of whom probably were of a kind to have any sympathy with John, because also of his oaths, Herod concluded to grant the request, and as a result John was beheaded, and the cruel, vindictive and wicked Herodias received the ghastly present of his head, while John’s followers buried the remainder of his body and bore the news to Jesus, his friend.
John’s courage and fearlessness in reproving the King should not, we believe, be taken as an indication of proprieties, by the Lord’s people. To our understanding John exceeded his mission when he undertook a personal correction of the king. He was right in speaking publicly and boldly against sin in its any and every form; and had Herod inquired of him respecting the subject, it would have been duty for John to have made the statement here recorded. And it is barely possible that Herod did inquire and that John was not a busybody in the king’s business, but merely told the truth in answer to an inquiry. This however does not appear from the general narrative. We suggest, however, that the Lord’s people would generally best proclaim the truth in a general way without making applications of it to persons in particular, rulers or others, unless so requested by them. It is, we believe, sufficient, if principles of righteousness are firmly held and publicly stated.
However, it is altogether possible, indeed probable we think, that John’s course which brought him into conflict with Herod was in some degree typical of the course of the Gospel Church in this present time; and of the course of events that may be expected. If it be a type, Herod would represent civil government, and the unlawful wife would represent the nominal church, which throughout the symbolic Scriptures is represented as a woman, Jezebel, etc. Should it prove to be a type by its fulfilment in antitype, the fulfilment will probably be on something like the following lines: (1) A partial reunion of Church and State. (This seems to be now in process of development.) (2) In such case it would become the duty of the true Church, the forerunners and announcers of the Messianic Kingdom, to reprove the civil powers as well as the nominal church systems, and to declare their union unlawful—contrary to the Word of God. (3) The effect of this would pretty surely be to awaken the animosity of both civil and religious powers; but it would draw out specially the animosity and venom of the latter. (4) The church nominal, in her false position would be anxious to stifle the reproofs and to destroy the reprovers, and the effect would be that the civil power would be induced to pass such legislation as would restrain the liberty of the faithful ones and hinder them from public utterances;—as John was hindered by imprisonment. (5) Jezebel’s personal influence being insufficient may subsequently be augmented by the influence of her daughter (united Protestantism) who will be so fully in sympathy with her as to become her tool in the destruction of the most loyal servants of God.
The Golden Text of this lesson is well worthy of being deeply engraven upon the hearts of all who seek to make their calling and election sure: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” If the heart, the thoughts, be kept strictly under control in full harmony with the Lord and his Word, all the opposition of the world and the flesh and the devil will not be able to overcome us. Being filled with the Master’s spirit and guided by him, we shall thus come off victors, conquerors and more than conquerors through him that loved us.
* * *
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—QUARTERLY REVIEW.—MAR. 27.—
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“THE DOGS EAT OF THE CRUMBS WHICH FALL FROM THE CHILDREN’S TABLE”
—APRIL 3.—MATT. 15:21-31.—
“Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.”—Matt. 15:25
SIDON and Tyre lay between Galilee and the Mediterranean sea, and the border line of these two countries, where they touched the land of Israel, are in this lesson called the “coasts.” Our Lord did not go into the countries of Tyre and Sidon, for those were Gentile countries, and he had already instructed his disciples not to go into the way of the Gentiles. His journey, mentioned in this lesson, was still in Israel, in Galilee, but over toward the border of Tyre and Sidon. The woman who is the central figure came from the Gentile side of the border: she no doubt had heard of Israel’s hope in a coming Messiah, who would be of the house of David, and whose Kingdom it was predicted should be a universal Kingdom. And she had undoubtedly heard also of Jesus and his wonderful works, and of his claim that he was Israel’s Messiah. Hearing of his close approach to her neighborhood, she came to him on behalf of her daughter
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who was possessed of a demon, obsessed.* In harmony with her knowledge she cried to Jesus for help, “Have mercy upon me, O Lord, thou Son of David: my daughter is grievously vexed of a devil.”
*See—What Say the Scriptures about Spiritism?
Our Lord’s course in making no answer for a time was perhaps intended to test the woman’s faith as well as to manifest it to others, then and since. Perhaps also his delay was in order to consider well the path of duty, the work which the Father had given him to do. What a lesson is here for us: if our Master went into the wilderness and into the mountain to pray and to meditate, and if here he paused to consider the Father’s will, how much more need have we to do so;—we, whose judgments have so often proved to be unsound, and who know that to begin with we are sadly fallen and imperfect. Our dear Master’s caution should be a reproof and a lesson to us; for how apt the majority are to speak and act without one moment’s thought respecting the will of our Father in heaven.
Our Lord was perhaps weighing the subject, fully recognizing the fact that his powers were to be specially used with Israel and Israel only, as he himself had testified. He seems to have been considering whether or not he might reasonably and properly reward the faith of the supplicant. While he delayed to answer, his disciples seemingly took up the woman’s cause, whether from sympathy or from vexation because she was interrupting their opportunity for study and communion with the Lord, we cannot judge; but their suggestion evidently was that the Lord grant her request and “send her away” in peace. As tho still weighing the question and as tho desirous that the disciples should discern the logic of his course and the propriety of his decision, he answered the disciples, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”—Verse 24.
Quite probably the poor woman heard our Lord’s disclaimer of any mission to the Gentiles; but so great was her love for her daughter, and so great her faith in the Lord’s power, that she persisted, and falling before the Master, she worshipped him, saying, “Lord, help me.” Her daughter’s cause was her cause. Our Lord’s response, that it would not be proper to take the food away from the children of God to give it to dogs, she understood fully. She recognized Israel as the children of the Kingdom that God had promised to their father Abraham and his seed; and she well knew that all Gentiles were reckoned as “dogs.” But our Lord’s language seemed nevertheless to give her some hope, for it would appear that he used a word
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for dogs which signifies not ferocious dogs but house-dogs—dogs which were friends and companions of the children. And so the poor woman, taking advantage of this thought, pressed her prayer for help, saying that the friendly dogs do get some of the children’s bread, sometimes, cast to them from the table: and she desired that some crumb of favor might be granted to her. Our Lord was greatly touched by her faith which, while persistent, was not intrusive nor assertive; and as a result her prayer was granted. Her daughter was healed.
Here, too, we have a valuable lesson respecting what course is pleasing to our Lord when we approach him; for our Lord approved the woman’s course. Let us note that she was not brazen and assertive. She did not attempt to be wiser or more just than God, and to criticize his partiality toward the elect seed of Abraham. So far from demanding that her wishes be granted instanter she did not even express a wish. She merely told the Lord the nature of her trouble, and said, “Lord have mercy on me.” “Lord help me.” She left it entirely to the Lord’s wisdom how the help and mercy should be bestowed.
Alas! how many Christians of years of experience have less idea of how to approach the Lord acceptably than had this poor heathen woman. But it is not too late to learn better. Let us remember this example of what was pleasing and acceptable eighteen centuries ago; for we deal with the same Lord who changes not. Sometimes our Lord may be pleased to grant physical relief and at other times he may do as he did to Paul—give us the more grace to bear the physical ills, saying “My grace is sufficient for thee, my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Turning his course inward again toward the Sea of Galilee, our Lord rested in the mountain and healed the multitudes, lame, blind, etc., all “afflicted of the devil.” For we are to remember that all afflictions are either directly or indirectly of Satan: by his temptations he first induced our first parents to sin, and thus brought upon them the penalty of sin, death,—with all its train of attendant evil, pain, sickness, sorrow; difficulty, mental, physical and moral. And subsequently, all the way down, by additional temptations to sin, through the pride of life, the lust of the eye, etc., Satan has continued to ensnare and to injure the fallen race. And thus all sickness and blemish, of every kind, may be either directly or indirectly charged to him. Our Lord in healing the people was doing so much in offset to the work of Satan; but all that was done in the few years of his earthly ministry, was only a type, a figure, a foreshadowing of the great coming work of blessing the world with restitution—which will include not only physical, but mental and moral recuperation and release from Satan’s power. “For this purpose Christ was manifested that he might destroy death and him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil.”—Heb. 2:14; Acts 3:19-21.
It is claimed by some that miracles are impossibilities and the reason that they give is that they are contrary to the laws of nature. But this is shallow reasoning. Every person of observation knows that mankind has the skill and ability to overcome the laws of nature to some extent, and that he frequently does so to his own comfort and advantage. For instance, gravity is one of the known laws of nature, yet, every time we walk upstairs and are lifted upward in an elevator, we are overcoming and going contrary to the laws of nature. According to this same law of nature water gravitates downward, yet by overcoming this law of nature with pumps, etc., mankind has one of his greatest conveniences in the waterworks systems of the civilized world. If then the laws of nature can be controlled to some extent by man for his own convenience, how much more able is God to control the operation of his own laws, so that all things shall work together for good to them that love him;—and for the carrying out of any and all of the divine purposes, in this age and in the ages to come.