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VOL. XX. FEBRUARY 1, 1899. No. 3.
“Are Christians Deserting Lower
New York?”……………………………… 35
“A Study of a Remarkable
Church Situation”……………………….. 35
Judgment—Krino, Krisis, Krima……………….. 38
Present Truth in Europe……………………… 41
Is Present Truth Unreasonable?……………….. 42
Poem: Aspirations of a New Convert……………. 44
“Greater Works than These”…………………… 44
Feeding the Hungry………………………….. 47
Special Items: The Date for the
Memorial Supper, etc…………………….. 34
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THE DATE FOR THE MEMORIAL SUPPER
IN our last issue we noted that the Hebrew Calendar seemed this year to disagree with the original methods of reckoning (and we have experienced similar difficulties in the past). Since then we have interviewed Rabbi Mayer on this subject. His explanation is that the Jews had great difficulty in securing uniformity of date for the Passover, because, after the watchers had noted the new moon, the fact required to be signalled by fires from hill tops, and by messengers sent to various communities, etc. Consequently, about fifteen hundred years ago, in the fourth century, Hillel’s Calendar was adopted, and it has been followed since.
We are to bear in mind two important matters relating to the date of the Passover. (1) It was to be after the Spring Equinox (yet not too long after), so that the 16th of Nisan, the date of our Lord’s resurrection, could be provided with a sheaf of the first-fruits of the harvest—a type of “Christ, the first-fruits” born from the dead. (2) The lamb was to be killed at the full of the moon, as representing the fulness of God’s favor under the Law Covenant, to the Jews, which culminated there, and which was followed by the rejection of that nation and their waning in accordance with their prayer, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
The decision regarding the month to be esteemed the first month was seemingly left to the Elders of Israel, subject to the limitations foregoing; and it appears that they did not always wait until the Spring Equinox, and then after that wait for the following new moon, to begin counting Nisan. (To have done so this year would have been to begin Nisan as late as April 11th.) On the contrary, knowing when to expect the equinox, they accepted as the beginning of this first month, the beginning of their year, the appearance of the new moon whose full would be about the harvest time, and after the equinox. And this evidently is the rule which we should follow.
Following this rule, we find that the full moon after the equinox this year will be on March 27th, which therefore should be recognized as the 14th of Nisan, the anniversary of our Lord’s death: and according to Jewish reckoning the 14th would begin on Sunday, March 26th, at six o’clock, P.M., the anniversary of the Last Supper. From this it will be observed that the date given in our last issue was in error, as well as the Jewish date, and we are glad to have opportunity of correcting the matter thus early.
Some will doubtless notice that almanacs give the date of the new moon as March 11th, but if the fourteen days were counted from that date it would not bring us to the full of the moon. We assume, therefore, that the Jews, instead of accepting the dark moon for the new moon, waited until a sufficiency of the moon would be visible to the eye, and counted from that date. So counting now, the new moon would be expected to be visible on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th of March, which would be Nisan 1st.
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“ARE CHRISTIANS DESERTING LOWER NEW YORK?”
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I send you herewith a page taken from the New York Herald, Jan. 8th, the principal part of which is devoted to—
“A STUDY OF A REMARKABLE CHURCH SITUATION IN LOWER NEW YORK CITY”
The array of facts showing a steady and uniform surrender of ground by the churches, notwithstanding the increase of population, should indeed prove an astounding revelation to the “Christians” appealed to. And the fact that these matters are promulgated by one of the eminent leaders of the New York pulpit, and are verified and added to by the Herald’s investigations, makes the statements well nigh indisputable.
It seems to me that the “study” of the conditions here presented lies not so much in the apparent, surface truth presented, namely, that south of 14th street the “church” would appear to be doomed to practical extinction, as it does in an inquiry into the results which may be expected from this moving and movable church in its later surroundings.
The mistake of abandoning this field can and may easily be remedied, if the conscience of the powers that control the situation be sufficiently deeply pricked. But the causes which suggested, and eventually accomplished, such sweeping changes are still at work in their new abode, and are accomplishing still other changes.
It is to be noted that the new field of these old “churches” is to-day the fashionable quarter of the city; and of course it is to be expected that these old “churches” are called upon to cater to the new requirements. Accordingly we are not surprised to learn that one such requirement is EXCLUSIVENESS.
In the old abode, the idea would not have been tolerated; but conditions are now changed, and the new environment is such, that what before seemed to be sinful may now be regarded as an aid to the upholding, if not the upbuilding, of the edifice.
Pursuing this thought, it would be interesting if there could be collected, for purposes of comparison, the subjects discussed, and texts preached from, in these older edifices, in days gone by, and those now made use of in the new fields. I am convinced the relation would be as startling, almost, as the facts here given.
When we reflect upon these things, can we wonder that our friend, Mr. Moody, in his last evangelizing work in New York city, told its ministers and people that if Jesus Christ should appear in person in one of their “churches,” he would be driven out, because they would not recognize him!
Since reading the statement of facts alluded to, my attention has been called to another ministerial occurrence, which has its bearing on this particular line of “study.”
An eminent D.D. of the metropolis, with a big church, fat living, well liked, and ostensibly doing a good work, is offered a professorship in one of our seats of learning. Rumor has it that he wants to accept it. Meeting a friend of the aforesaid D.D., I took occasion to allude to this call and its probable acceptance. “Yes,” said this friend, “you know __________ is not patterned after the old style preacher; he is a club man, something of a sportsman, can take his little toddy, and is ‘hail, fellow, well met’ generally. He is very popular, and is beloved by his congregation, which is fighting hard against this call. But he has literary aspirations, and consequently favors it.” Thus we see at work the same underlying evil which succeeded in driving the “church” out of the down-town vineyard.
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The student of history, noting such potent and disturbing events as here stated, discovered to-day in New York, sees them to-morrow reflected in London, events, tho peculiar to a locality, having at the same time a universal significance; he hears the alarm sounded, not by the pessimist, but by the brains and conservative judgment of the church as it is understood to-day, and cannot fail to see the inevitable trend of events.
Can these conditions be changed? Reason answers, about as easily as the heathen are to-day being changed or converted. It must be obvious that the powers which now obtain are as impotent to work the desired change (if indeed it be even desired) in the one case as in the other. What a profoundly sad outlook must the array of facts, which give rise to these and cognate thoughts, produce in this, the closing year of the century.
Sad must they be to the student of events, unless indeed he be also a student of God’s Word, and can discern his times and seasons, and their peculiar events. Then what a change! As one season alternates another with precise regularity, each doing the work allotted to it, so he sees the conditions now prevailing fulfilling their purpose, only to give way to still other conditions in a later development of God’s plan.
He looks ahead to that future great epoch in the history of time, which is to take the place of the present, and by faith he realizes some of the changes then to be established. Among these changes, he is assured that “an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called, The way of holiness;” and “the way-faring men, tho fools, shall not err therein.”—Isa. 35:8.
As one of those who are quite ready and willing to note the signs of the times, tho more especially because he is assured by the Word of truth that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning;” and confident in the comforting assurance that in that day (Millennial morning) pauper “churches” will be unknown and unnecessary, because the way of holiness shall be open to all, and all shall then know the Lord from the least unto the greatest (Jer. 31:34), I remain, in the common faith,
JOHN W. ALEXANDER.
Extracts from the Herald are as follows:—
“ARE CHRISTIANS DESERTING LOWER NEW YORK?”
“Dr. Peters says so in a sermon, and the Herald here shows that twenty-three churches have been abandoned or moved from below Forty-eighth street in the last ten years.
“‘The church, instead of adjusting herself practically to the changed conditions in civilization in New York, moves up town and puts on style. … A church is located with reference to clientele. So much money must be paid to support it, and it must locate where the rich live, and, as a result, those needing the saving influence of the Church most are neglected;’—says the Rev. Dr. Madison C. Peters.
“This is a startling arraignment of the church in New York; yet the Rev. Dr. Peters quotes statistics which bear out what he says. The church in the Borough of Manhattan is moving up town, and the lower part of the island is every year becoming more churchless. An investigation made by the Herald shows that within the last ten years seventeen houses of worship have moved up to the less thickly populated parts of the city, where the wealthy live, and six churches below Fourteenth street have gone out of existence. In the region from the Battery to Forty-eighth street twenty-three churches have in ten years either moved up town or have become extinct, and little has been left in their place.
“‘The Christian forces at work below Fourteenth street,’ to again quote the words of the Rev. Dr. Peters, ‘with a population of 700,000, are not as much as they were twenty-five years ago. Altho during that time over 200,000 persons have moved in below Fourteenth street, twenty churches have moved out. One Jewish synagogue and two Catholic churches have been added, so that if we count the churches of every kind there are seventeen fewer than twenty-five years ago.’
“It will be seen by consulting the table of churches which have moved up town that all of them belong to Protestant denominations, with the exception of one Catholic organization. There have been from time to time utterances from various pulpits denouncing the lack of fervor shown by the Protestant churches. It is not an optimistic view of the work of the church among the masses who live in the lower part of the city which is drawn from an analysis of the uptown movement of the churches.
“There are many who maintain that the churches are doing missionary work in the fields which they have left. With the exception of the efficient work of Trinity Parish, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the work of the Catholics, this field in the lower part of the city is practically left to the sower of tares. … There is no escape from statistics. The majority of those who dwell in the lower part of the island are churchless. South of Fourteenth street there is one church to every 4,732 persons. In that section there are districts where there is one saloon to every 111 persons.
“In discussing the causes of the movement of the churches, Dr. Peters, the pastor of the Bloomington Reformed Church, told me that the fashionable churches were becoming fashionable clubs.
“‘Let me give you two examples of what I mean,’ said he. ‘A man who belonged to one of the uptown churches told me recently that in his church there was only one poor man, and “he a Scotchman who could not be snubbed into leaving.” Another man, a member of a church of the exclusive uptown kind, told me that in his church the pew rents were made so high that only a “certain class” could come.’ …
“‘Statistics show that in comparison with the growth of population here the Presbyterian Church in this city has lost eighty per cent. in the last twenty-five years. The Methodist Church, supposed to be
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the most aggressive force in Protestantism, has in the last twenty years increased only twenty-five per cent., whereas in proportion to the increase of population in the borough it should have increased eighty-five per cent. The Dutch Reformed Church has in the same proportion lost ten per cent. The only Protestant church doing anything like holding its own here is the Episcopal Church. That is largely owing to the fact that much of the enormous wealth of Trinity Corporation is used in work among the poor. The census of 1890 gave the Catholic population of the then city of New York as 380,000. If the Catholic Church had held her own she should have had 900,000.”
* * *
Some one failing to grasp the situation will perhaps say or think—”Well, you criticize others, but what are you doing in the line of mission-work?”
We reply that it is not the actions of these “churches” that we find fault with, but the inconsistency of their actions and professions. These denominations, one and all, profess in their published creeds that they exist for the very purpose of converting the world; and that all not converted by them will suffer a horrible eternity: and straightway they leave the world to what they say is its fate, to meet for essays, lectures, music and social pleasures—as “social clubs,”—called “churches.”
Our views of the divine plan for human salvation are very different from theirs: and hence the question is not, are we following their theories more consistently than they follow them? but, are we following our own conception of the divine plan consistently?—are we practicing what we preach and profess to believe, faithfully? We trust that every regular WATCH TOWER reader can answer promptly,—I am doing with my might what my hand finds to do, in harmony with my understanding of the divine will concerning me. And if any cannot so answer, promptly, we trust he will begin at once such “reasonable service.”
We hold that none are in danger of eternal torment—that the very thought of such an unjust punishment for sin is in antagonism to God’s revealed plan, rightly interpreted, utterly repugnant to “the spirit of the truth,” “the spirit of Christ,” “the holy spirit.”
We hold that ignorance neither justifies nor condemns—either in New York or Africa or elsewhere; but that knowledge alone brings blessings and corresponding responsibilities. Nor do we understand that all knowledges bring grave responsibilities and are savors of life unto life or of death unto death; for but one knowledge, one science, is thus made a test in the Scriptures—the knowledge of the way, the truth and the life; the knowledge of the true God, the God of Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power.
We hold that the masses in down town New York, not possessing this knowledge, but being blinded in their minds by the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), are not on trial now, as are we who have this knowledge, but will have their trial by and by, during the Millennial age, at the same time with the “heathen” millions of Asia and Africa;—after Satan has been “bound” and deceives the peoples no more (Rev. 20:1-4), after the Lord and his elect Church have begun the reign of righteousness. And we hold the same to be true of their polished and wealthy and better educated
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neighbors who have moved up-town; and who, “blinded,” mistakenly call themselves “churches.”
We hold that the Lord’s Church, the only one to which the name ecclesia, body or church, is properly applicable, is so insignificant, so unostentatious, and comparatively so poor in this world’s riches, that it is not recognized nor recognizable from the worldly standpoint. It is neither man-made nor man-ruled; nor are its members enrolled on earth, but in heaven. (Heb. 12:23.) Its head and bishop is the Lord, its law is his Word: it has but one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; and it is built upon the testimonies of the holy apostles and prophets—Jesus Christ himself being its chief corner-stone.
We hold that, while neither the masses of lower New York nor the classes of upper New York constitute this Church, some in both may be eligible to its membership and blessings—”even as many as the Lord our God shall call,” and no more. And we hold that in New York, as elsewhere, many more have been called than will be chosen;—because the call being to a very high post of service and honor, God has made the way to it narrow—so narrow that few find it, and fewer still care to walk therein after they have found it; a way of self-sacrifice, self-denial.
In harmony with this our faith and knowledge respecting the divine plan, we are neither sitting in the seat of the scorners, drawing nigh to God with our lips, while our hearts are far from him (rebelling against him as monstrously unjust and unloving—as blasphemously misrepresented in the creeds of Christendom), nor are we excitedly and frantically with drums and tambourines and “War Crys” striving to save from eternal torment fellow creatures—under a theory that God would horribly and unjustly misuse them, but for our efforts.
On the contrary, we are endeavoring to do as Jesus and the apostles and the early Church did, before the errors (“tares”) of false doctrine were planted by the great Adversary. We are striving to find those who are not wholly blinded by the god of this world;—the “called,” those who have “ears to hear,” among the “masses” and among the “classes;” we are seeking to find, and to explain to them the way of the Lord more perfectly. And whether they hear and obey, or
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whether they forbear, we doubt not for a moment that all the gracious purposes of our all-wise God will be accomplished,—that the foreordained number of the “copies of his Son” will be completed, and that then these as the body of Christ, “the Seed of Abraham,” as God’s glorious Kingdom, shall rule and relieve from blindness all mankind and bless and uplift all willing to obediently return to God’s favor through the great Redeemer.
Above all we are seeking now, because it is the “harvest” time, the time of preparation for the marriage of the Lamb, to prepare ourselves, and each the other, for that great event which shall complete our joy and usher in the world’s blessings;—that we may be in heart (and as nearly as attainable in the flesh also) “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”—Eph. 5:23; Rev. 19:7.
Additionally, we are sympathetic toward all secondary influences of our Light—moral reforms.
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JUDGMENT—KRINO, KRISIS, KRIMA
QUESTION. (a) In the last WATCH TOWER we note that you refer to krino as having the significance of judgment. Do you refer to its significance in Greek? I do not find it rendered “judgment” in our Common Version English Bible.
Answer. (a) Certainly, krino is a Greek word, and its significance in that language was what we sought to present. The word occurs more times than krisis and krima together: it is variously rendered in our English common version Bible,—Judge, Conclude, Condemn, Decree, Determine, Damned, Ordain, Sentence. The thought in every instance is that of judgment or trial. This is the word used by our Lord when referring to the honor to be given to the apostles, “Ye shall sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” It is the same word used by the Apostle Paul when referring to the future work of the Church, saying, “Know ye not that the saints shall judge [krino] the world? and if the world shall be judged [krino] by you, … know ye not that we shall judge [krino] angels?”—Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1 Cor. 6:2,3.
Question. (b) Do you consider the definitions of krisis, krima and krino, given from Strong’s Concordance, reliable?
Answer. (b) Yes. You can convince yourself of this fact by noting the uses of these words in the New Testament. Any definition at variance with those given could not be applied to every text in which these words occur. This is the best way to test any definition, whoever gives it: test it by the Scriptural usage of the word.
We will give here Liddell and Scott’s Greek Lexicon definition of these words (our comments in brackets):—
Krima. “A decision, decree, judgment”—in New Testament usage, “Condemnation, sentence.” [This word seems not to contain the thought of trial, except in the past. It relates to and signifies sentence.]
Krisis. “(1) A separating, putting asunder: hence a choosing. (2) A deciding, determining, judging, judgment.” [This word includes the thought of trial culminating in a decision that is final, irrevocable.
Krino. “(1) To separate, part, put asunder; hence also to order, arrange. (2) To inquire, search into, investigate.” [This word is full of the thought of trial, or testing, or criticism; but it does not imply finality of decision.]
Indeed, krino is the root word from which krima and krisis are derived. (1) Krino relates to probationary trials and testings and corrections (now, and in the coming age). (2) Krisis points out a decision or a time of decision. The Jewish “harvest” was such a time of decision or krisis to Fleshly Israel: the present “harvest” is a time of decision or krisis to nominal Spiritual Israel. And the entire Millennial age will be a time of decision or krisis for mankind in general, ending the krino or probation of that age with a “harvest” time of decision or krisis. (3) Krima relates to the final and irrevocable sentence upon evil doers. Compare these definitions with the New Testament usage of these words and be fully convinced.
Question. (c) If “the Father judgeth [krino] no man, but hath committed all judgment [krisis] unto the Son, so that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father,” would it not imply that there is no judgment of any kind in progress by the Father directly during this Gospel age?
Answer. (c) Yes.
Question. (d) And if our Lord Jesus has nothing whatever to do with the judgment or correction of the Church, but must wait and begin his judgment (krisis) with the world, and the Millennial age, would it not imply that the Gospel Church is not on judgment (trial) at all during this Gospel age? And would not such a conclusion be an unreasonable one?
Answer. (d) Yes;—to both questions. The only solution to the problem, the only way to harmonize these statements of Scripture, was, we believe, offered in our last issue.
We there showed that ALL krisis or decision has been committed to the Son, but the Son does not exercise that krisis authority until the harvest, the end of this age. He then exercises krisis power in respect to the Church and the world—rewarding his faithful and
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bringing a great time of trouble upon the unfaithful of the Church and the world. We are already in this krisis time—thousands are “falling”—”Who shall be able to stand?” The humble, faithful few only, “shall never fall, but an entrance shall be ministered unto them abundantly, into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Thus says the Apostle of this class, “Love has been perfected in us that we may have boldness in the day of judgment”—krisis.—1 John 4:17.
Altho all judgment (decision, krisis) was committed to the Son, there is only one text which even implies any exercise of krisis judgment (decision) by our Lord during this age: and that is the Apostle’s statement, “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment [krisis] (1 Tim. 5:24.) This would seem to imply that, altho the Lord’s decision respecting the majority of the Church will not be manifested until the “harvest” of this age, yet there have been exceptions to this rule; and the Apostle mentions such exceptional cases. (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-29.) But the casting of many into outer darkness now, because of unfaithfulness to the Word of the Lord or its spirit of love, is not thus exceptional; for the time of krisis has arrived;—yea, and it will mean a final sentence (krima) to some; for, as the Apostle declares, “The time is come that krima [sentence] must begin with the house of God.”—1 Pet. 4:17.
But respecting the judgment, criticism or inspection represented by the word krino: it does not wait for the “harvest,” but has been in progress throughout this entire age, in the Church. It is practically the only kind of judgment that has thus been in operation. It was respecting this judgment that our Lord Jesus declared, “The Father judgeth [krino] no man.” (John 5:22.) Who, then, exercises this krino judgment? We answer that the krino or trial or probationary judgment, as well as the krisis or decision, is committed of the Father to the Son. Yea, all power in heaven and in earth, as it may relate to mankind, has been committed to the Son—the Father rests the entire matter in his hands.—Heb. 4:10; John 5:17.
The Lord gives us his Word, his teaching, as representing himself, saying, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory.” (Luke 9:26.) The teaching of the great Teacher and of his chosen twelve apostles is to be the kriterion or rule of judgment (krino) to his followers, who by their faithfulness or unfaithfulness to those teachings may be said to judge (krino) themselves. The Apostle thus uses the word krino to some whom he addressed, saying, “Seeing ye judge [krino] yourselves unworthy of eternal life.” (Acts 13:46.) Again, to the Church the Apostle says, “For if we would judge [dia-krino—thoroughly examine, criticise, judge] ourselves, we should not be judged [krino]; but being judged [krino] by the Lord, we are chastened that we should not be condemned with [kata-krino—on trial with] the world.” (1 Cor. 11:31,32.) Does the Apostle here refer to the Heavenly Father under the name Lord, or to our Lord Jesus? To the latter unquestionably; for his words must be in accord with the words of our Lord Jesus, “The Father judgeth [krino] NO MAN.” This teaches us that in addition to his Word our Lord gives a personal supervision or correction or disciplining to those who at heart are seeking to walk in his footsteps.
Moreover, the Apostle exercised this kind of judgment (krino) in the Church as an Apostle, as a special representative of our Lord Jesus, and in his name. We read, “I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged [krino] already, as tho I were present, concerning him that hath done this deed.” (1 Cor. 5:3-5.) He reproves the Church for not judging and reproving such persons of their number as were known to be living in sin: and he most positively enjoins such judgment and that those thus found guilty be no longer associated with as “brethren.” Then, answering a misunderstanding of his previous message—that they were to withdraw from evil doers not professing Christ, he says (we paraphrase his words),—It is not my business to judge (krino) those who are outside the Church and name of Christ. My complaint of you is that you neglect to judge (krino) those who are within the pale of Christian brotherhood. Those outside the Church God will judge (krino—in his own time and manner—Acts 17:31). Expel from your midst evil doers.—See 1 Cor. 5:9-13.
This thought that the Church is in duty bound to look after the outward conduct of those it recognizes as “brethren,” and to (krino, judge) settle points of misunderstanding amongst themselves, is clearly set forth by the Apostle in his discourse following the above reproof. (1 Cor. 6:1-6.) He points out that the Lord’s people should not think of going to law before the courts of the world to settle differences between “brethren.” Here he uses the word krino (judge, examine) and asks if there is not in their midst a single person in whose wisdom they could rely, and ironically suggests that if they have lost confidence in the leaders whom the Lord has “set” in the Church for such like purposes, they should at least choose as judges the least esteemed in the Church as preferable to a court of unbelievers. Thus would he shame them and urge that if they had no confidence in each other, they at least do not manifest more confidence in outsiders, but preferably suffer wrong and injustice, rather than dishonor
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the Church and her Head, the Lord. But all this only proved that they had not been careful to judge (krino) and to disfellowship the outwardly impure and unrighteous.
This judging by the Church of its own faithful is by virtue of the spirit of the Lord in the Church, as the Apostle declared (1 Cor. 5:4); the thought is that our Lord is in a church of even two or three met in his name, to direct such as seek his guidance. Hence we read, “And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, … pastors and teachers and evangelists, … for the edifying of the body of Christ”—in these chosen members of his “body,” the Church, the qualities of the “Head” were represented. Thus, representatively, as well as by his Word, our Lord Jesus has been judging, correcting, guiding his Church throughout this Gospel age. Take his own statement of this his work of judging his body, in his messages to the seven stages of his Church, recorded in Rev. 2 and 3. We read,—
“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, … else I will come upon thee quickly and remove thy candlestick.” “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” “I have a few things against thee; … repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against thee with the sword of my mouth.” “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.” “I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel. … I gave her space to repent. … I will cast her … into great tribulation, … and I will kill her children with death; and all the Churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. … He that overcometh and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” “I have not found thy works perfect before God. … He that overcometh, … I will not blot out his name out of the book of life.” “These things saith he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” “Behold I will make them of the synagogue of Satan … to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world.” “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God.” “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich. … As many as I love I rebuke and chasten: be zealous, therefore, and repent.”
Here we have our Lord’s own word for it, that he is supervising and correcting his Church now, and that as a culmination of this trial (krino) time will come final decision (krisis)—rewards and punishments.
We repeat that the proper thing to do is to harmonize these various statements—some of which refer to the Heavenly Father as the “Judge of all” and corrector of the Church, while others declare that the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. Nor is it difficult to harmonize these: the Scriptures themselves indicate how both are true, pointing out that the Son is the representative and honored agent of the Father in the judging (krino) or probationary trials of this age and will be also his agent and representative in giving (krisis) decisions—rewards and tribulations—in the end of this age. And with his glorified Church he will give similar judgment (krino and krisis) to the world in the Millennial age—the world’s day of judgment.—Acts 17:31.
So far from this being peculiar or exceptional, it is the general rule of Scripture in matters respecting the Father and the Son. In the matter of creation, for instance, the Heavenly Father is always named as the Creator, and yet we are assured that the Only Begotten was both the beginning and the ending of the Father’s direct, personal creation; and that “all things were made by him [the Only Begotten] and without him was not one thing made that was made.” (John 1:3.) The matter is explained by the Apostle, saying, All things are of the Father, and all things are by the Son.—1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:15-17.
Take another illustration. In the familiar 23 Psalm we read in the original, “Jehovah is my shepherd, I shall not want,” etc. But do not all realize that the Great Shepherd’s great Son is our Shepherd also? It is the Shepherd-Son that the Apostle Peter declares to be “The shepherd and bishop of our souls.” (1 Pet. 2:25; Heb. 13:20.) It is our Lord himself that declares, “I am the Good Shepherd.” (John 10:11.) Not only so, but our word, “pastor,” signifies shepherd, as does also the Greek word rendered “bishop” in our common version New Testament: and God, the Great Shepherd, “set” these in the Church, says the Apostle. Again he says that the Good Shepherd, Jesus, gave these gifts to his Church. Is there conflict between these statements? By no means; they are all true and all consistent when viewed from the right standpoint: the Head of the under-shepherds is Christ, the Good Shepherd, and the Head of the Good Shepherd is the Great Shepherd, and the flock is one. The key is in the oneness of purpose and of work between the Father and the Son—”I and my Father are one.” But this statement can only be apprehended by becoming one with the Father and the Son, in harmony with our Lord’s prayer.—John 17:21-23.
Question. (e) You point out the Apostle’s injunction
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that we should judge, krino; but does not our Lord use this same word in Matt. 7:1, saying, “Judge [krino] not, that ye be not judged [krino]; for with what judgment [krima, sentence] ye judge [krino] ye shall be judged [krino]?” How shall we harmonize these commands of the Lord and the Apostle?
Answer. (e) The two are in accord: the Apostle speaks of the duty of the Church as a Church to judge its members on common moralities. In the above expression the Lord discountenances criticisms and accusations and sentences of one another as individuals.
Elsewhere the Apostle also discountenanced individual judging, accusations, back-bitings, etc., saying, “Why dost thou judge [krino] thy brother? … Let us not therefore judge [krino] one another any more: but judge [krino] this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”—Rom. 14:10,13.
And our Lord not only approved of judging on the part of the Church, but gave explicit directions to all its individuals respecting how to avoid judging one another and how to submit themselves to the judgment of the Church as the body of Christ.
(1) They were to avoid judging a brother or sister guilty of wilful wrong-doing and were to attempt to reason the matter out privately, that the one or the other might see his error.
(2) If this proved unavailing, the one feeling himself aggrieved (yet still not judging his brother wilfully guilty) is to call in two or three brethren to hear both sides of the controversy. (As the Apostle suggests, those called in should be “wise”—1 Cor. 6:5;—such as both the accuser and the accused would recognize, and whose judgment they would respect and follow.)
(3) If these brethren, called on to act as judges, and his own choice of “wise” brethren, give their verdict against the accuser, that should settle the matter: the accuser should recognize his error. Not to do so would imply that he was not seeking to ascertain the truth, but that he had judged his brother personally, the very thing that both the Lord and the Apostle warn us against. If the accuser be not able to see matters fully in the same light as his “brethren,” he should nevertheless accept their decision and trust and pray to the Lord that he would be guided into clearer views. But should the brethren, called in to judge, agree with the accuser, the accused of course should yield,—especially if he had acknowledged the judges to be “wise.” The violator of the judgment of such “wise” brethren (if the matter were considered of sufficient importance) was to be charged and the cause heard before the Church—whose decision was to be final; and disregard of its decision implied excommunication.—Matt. 18:15-35.
We have examined this question somewhat in detail, because fearful that something in our last issue might have seemed to sanction personal judging. The Lord, however, does recognize his Church and does promise to act through it and to give his judgment thus to those who seek it, promising in this very connection that, Where two or three are gathered in his name, he is in their midst. The great difficulty with many is their lack of faith; they do not believe the Lord’s Word, nor trust to his providences, but want to take matters into their own hands. And this is particularly the case with those who are in the wrong.
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PRESENT TRUTH IN EUROPE
WE have heretofore mentioned the fact that the Lord has raised up efficient servants of present truth who are colaboring in Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The success of the work in these fields for 1898 is more encouraging than in any previous year;—as we should of course expect. Particulars did not arrive in season to be itemized in our annual report in the Dec. 15th TOWER: and even now that they are at hand, they are difficult to harmonize and unify—matters which will be duly rectified for 1899.
We have already mentioned the earnestness and devotion of Brother Weber who has charge of the French work, Sister M. Giesecke, our representative in Germany, and Brother Winter, colaborer in Denmark. These have been in the harness for now several years, and the Lord’s blessing upon their efforts has stirred up other colaborers in this “harvest;” so that during 1898 many hands served the truth in circulating tracts and DAWNS personally and by mail. Nor were these content merely to circulate the truth—they also shared the financial burden generously, contributing according to their abilities; and that without solicitation—prompted by their love of the truth and by its spirit.
The German and French works are closely identified because Switzerland and Belgium are common fields where both languages are spoken. The reports show that nearly one thousand volumes were disposed of (900 DAWNS and 100 booklets); about 15,000 tracts circulated free; and many thousand sample copies of the German WATCH TOWER.
We feel confident that 1899 will be a favorable year in Europe, as several who have found the truth recently seem to be persons of ability who are zealous to serve it to others. One is a Salvation Army Captain
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in Sweden, another is a sister in France who has been for some years a mission worker, another is a sister of influence in Austria, besides quite a number in Switzerland and Germany—an editor, a minister, several school-teachers and merchants.
The Lord’s blessing be with these efforts, as well as upon the still larger work going on in the English tongue! And, by the way, the work in Great Britain is a work in Europe also, and larger up to the present time than any other there. We pray that it also may be greatly blessed and prospered of the Lord, and that his noble servants there may have large measures of the spirit of the truth. We recognize no national or tongue distinctions among those who have become new creatures in Christ: this “holy nation” is indeed a peculiar people, gathered out of all nations so completely that henceforth they know each other not by their mother tongue nor by the place of natural birth, but solely and only by the tie of Christian love which binds their hearts and hopes and aims in one.
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IS PRESENT TRUTH UNREASONABLE?
THE pastor of a Baptist church writes us, saying in substance that he sees much in the teachings of the WATCH TOWER to commend; and that in general its reasonings on the Scriptures are logical, its applications of Scripture found to harmonize well with the context. He would be convinced of the entire position, but for one thing—the smallness of the movement. He says that he knows of no other publications than those from this office that present these views which we denominate “present truth,” asks if he is mistaken in this, and whether it is not unreasonable to believe that so important truths should be committed of the Lord to so narrow, so comparatively insignificant, a channel. Admitting that the Scriptures teach that at his second coming the Lord will not find the faith general on the earth, but that on the contrary the Apostle declares that the close of this age will witness an increase of headiness, pride, disobedience to parents, unthankfulness, unholiness, etc., and declares that evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, he wants to know how to harmonize these things with the progress of philanthropy, gentleness, etc., in the world to-day.
Answer (a): We cannot deny the fact that ZION’S WATCH TOWER AND HERALD OF CHRIST’S PRESENCE is the only publication in the world teaching that we are now in the harvest of this Gospel age, that the Master is present harvesting the wheat, that it soon will be garnered, and shine forth in the Millennial Kingdom (Matt. 13:43), and that after the Lord has thus set up and glorified his “jewels” in kingdom power, the blessing of restitution will begin for the world of mankind in general. This, however, is no argument against the truthfulness of our position, which must be tested solely by the Scriptures.
And we are here reminded of our Lord’s words at the first advent “harvest”—the type of the present “harvest,”—”Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24.) The “Doctors of Divinity” of that time not only ignored our Lord’s teachings, but opposed him and said all manner of evil against him and his work, falsely, and even accused him of being possessed of the prince of devils; and they warned, cajoled and hoodwinked the common people who heard him gladly, until they cried for his blood. But none of those things hindered that “harvest” work to the extent of preventing it. Likewise the present “harvest” work will go right along to completion, regardless of who shall attempt to hinder or make light of it.
It should not be forgotten that, as set forth in our September issue (reissued as an Extra on Nov. 7th), the Lord’s purpose at the present time is not to arouse and startle and inform the world, but, on the contrary, to have the day of his presence come as a thief in the night—stealthily, quietly, unobservedly—in the which he will test and gather his jewels, preparatory to letting loose upon the world his corrective chastisements, retributions, and vengeance upon evil deeds and evil doers.
But you are mistaken, dear brother, in saying that ours is the only voice raised on behalf of the “present truth.” On the contrary, all who hear the joyful news of heavenly grace are privileged to join in the proclamation of these “good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” And we assure you that all who receive this “new song” into good and honest hearts are prompt to give utterance to it; and are singing it daily, as they find opportunity, to those who have ears to hear. But, as the Scriptures point out, no man is able to learn to sing that song clearly and harmoniously except such as are “taught of God”—only such as have been called to the high calling, and have accepted the call, and are in the way of obedience. Whoever leaves the way of humble faith and consecrated obedience, loses his power to sing “the song of Moses and the Lamb” harmoniously, properly.—Rev. 14:3.
You will be glad, we are sure, to know that with those of “this way” all who hear the message are preachers of it. We recognize no “clergy” and “laity” classes; for all who are in the true Church of God are, as the Apostle expresses the matter, “priests,” members of the Royal Priesthood, of which our Lord is the Head or Chief Priest. Asked not long ago, “How many ministers
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are of your way of thinking?” we replied, to the astonishment of the questioner, that there are about ten thousand, who are preaching every day to the best of their ability. Then we explained that from our standpoint, the Scriptural standpoint, every member of the Body of Christ is anointed of the spirit, and is fully commissioned to make known the good tidings to everyone who has an ear to hear. Some have talents for public speaking, others find a field for usefulness as preachers in colporteuring the truth, and still others for private conversation and private circulation of the good tidings in printed form.
The effect of the combined effort of these ministers of the truth is that the sound thereof is extending to the utmost parts of the earth. Not all, however, are able to clearly discern the sound now, and we believe that it is intended for only such as have “ears to hear,” to whom alone it will be a special blessing in the present time. We look forward with pleasure, however, to the time promised in the Scriptures, when all “the deaf ears shall be unstopped,” and all “the blind eyes shall be opened,” and when, as a consequence, the true knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, as the waters cover the great deep—the sea.—Isa. 35:5; 11:9.
Answer (b): We are living to-day under a glare of light, such as the world never before enjoyed. We are not, therefore, to expect the grossness of the past; but while there is a polished veneer upon the world in general to-day, such as it never had the opportunity of having before, this only gives a corresponding amount of responsibility, from the divine standpoint. Where much is given much will be required. The Scriptures assure us that the only proper course for those who have the enlightenment, which we enjoy, is a recognition of our own imperfections, and of the Lord’s standard of righteousness, and an acceptance of the salvation which he has provided in Christ, and a thorough change of heart, will, sentiment,—from sin to righteousness.
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True, the numbers in Christendom, who now outwardly observe rules of propriety and decency are larger than ever before; but we doubt if the proportion of the truly consecrated, the “saints,” is greater. We have frequent evidences, too, that the veneer of the present time is very thin, and that the old nature, unconverted, is underneath. For instance, this was shown a year or so ago, at the notable French Charity Bazaar, when the fire occurred, and when so many who were esteemed to be thoroughly polished socially gave evidence of fierceness and brutality worthy of the Dark Ages. A similar evidence that mankind, as a whole, are practically unchanged at heart, was furnished in the savagery displayed at the time of the disaster to the steamer La Bourgogne. Nor have we reason to question that in all civilized lands the spirit of discontent which prevails would, under favorable conditions, show up as horribly as in the “Reign of Terror” of the French Revolution. Indeed, the latter is set before us in the Scriptures as a picture or illustration of the conditions which will prevail throughout the entire civilized world, and in the midst of which the torch of civilization will for a short time be utterly extinguished. For further evidences along this line we refer you to MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. IV.
As an illustration of modern cruelty of thought take the following from the pen of a man of learning, a highly esteemed French gentleman—M. Rochefort. Assailing his political opponents, the judges in the Dreyfus case, he said:—
“To smear them over with pitch, and make live torches of them, as Nero did with the Christians, would be somewhat of an antiquated amusement. An idea has occurred to me of a punishment which might give satisfaction even to the most exasperated. The members of the Court of Cassation having been previously drawn up in single file, an executioner duly trained to the work should cut off their eyelids, so as to leave the eyeballs denuded. Then spiders of the most venomous kind should be enclosed in nutshells, applied to the eyeballs, and properly fastened behind the culprit’s heads. These spiders in a famished condition could not be expected to be very fastidious, and would slowly and gradually feed on the culprit’s eyeballs until nothing but a ghastly cavity remained. This done, these hideous blind men should be chained up to a pillory erected before that Palais de Justice where their crime has been perpetrated, and on their chests a placard should be affixed, bearing these words: ‘Thus does France punish the traitors who attempt to sell her to the enemy.'”
If the veneered and polished can think such thoughts and use such language, what may we not expect of the ignorant and uncouth when frenzied and in despair, in the coming anarchy!
Answer (c): It is not for us to judge the hearts of others, and we shall not attempt to do so, but we believe that the Lord has arranged his truth so that it will do the judging. Our Lord voiced this sentiment, saying, “My words shall judge you in the last day”—the Millennial Day. This judgment of the last day is already upon us, and, as the Apostle Peter declared, so we find it, “Judgment must begin at the house of God,”—the Gospel Church, nominal and real. The fact that the Scribes and Pharisees and Doctors of the Law of to-day do not accept the message and evidences of the second presence of our Lord, so far from being contrary to the teaching of the Lord’s Word, is in perfect accord therewith. Has he not said to us that not many great, mighty or wise, according to the course of this world, will be worthy of a place in his Kingdom? And do not all the great ones of to-day, to whom you refer, claim to be great and wise, according to the course and judgment of this world?
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Moreover, our Lord gave us a sample or foreshadowing of the present harvest, and what we may expect here: it was furnished in the Jewish nation and its harvest at his first advent. Present conditions exactly correspond to that prototype: there as here it was inquired, Have any of the Pharisees and Doctors of the Law believed on him? The answer was then, as now, No. Of course the mass of the people then followed their leaders, and so also it will be now. Of that time our Lord said that the leaders were blind leaders of the blind, and that all would fall into the ditch, and it was so: the Jewish nation as a whole was overthrown in the time of trouble with which their age ended, and their house was left wholly desolate. So we expect it to be here: the masses of “Christendom” will follow their blind teachers, blind guides, and have a confidence in them worthy of a better previous record, and will eventually be greatly surprised when the “little flock,” the Lord’s Jewels, have been gathered, and the time of trouble breaks forth which will engulf all present institutions,—social, financial, political, religious, and prepare the way for the fulfilment of our Redeemer’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”
Answer (d): If you want to be guided aright, dear brother, you must not look to human authorities, but to the Chief Shepherd himself, who declared, “My sheep hear my voice, and they follow [obey] me.” We do not set ourself as a leader of the Lord’s sheep, and we neither ask nor expect any to follow us as their leader. We seek merely to be, so far as the Shepherd may be pleased to use us, his mouthpiece, to call attention to the Shepherd, and to the way in which he is leading. None should follow us, except as they discern that we are following the Master, as saith the Apostle.—1 Pet. 5:3; Phil. 3:17.
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ASPIRATIONS OF A NEW CONVERT
I wish I were as pure, as fair to view,
As yonder blossom, sparkling with the dew;
But then I could not wear my snowy dress,
The Savior’s gift—his robe of righteousness.
I wish I were like mountains, towering high,
Strong and majestic, piercing cloud and sky;
But then I could not feel my weakness thrill
With strength to do my blessed Master’s will.
I wish my life were placid as yon lake,
Unmoved by storms that o’er the ocean break;
But could I realize such rest and peace
As when the Master bids my troubles cease?
Lord, all my wishes, all my heart’s desires
Find consummation when the world retires,
And Thou before my raptured gaze dost stand,
In perfectness complete, a pattern grand.
Ah! would I were, my blessed Lord, like thee!
Then should my heart thy fragrant garden be!
Then should my prayers past mountain tops ascend,
My peace be fathomless, my joy attained.
For Thee leapt high the sacrificial fire,
Let it of me my cleansed parts require!
Into Thy nostrils let the incense rise,
A token of accepted sacrifice!
—R. B. HENNINGES.
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“GREATER WORKS THAN THESE”
—FEB. 12—JOHN 5:17-27.—
“This is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”—John 4:42.
JESUS was again in Judea, probably attending the Feast of the Passover, as was his custom,—these annual gatherings constituting the very best opportunities for reaching the devout Jews from all parts of the Holy Land, and from surrounding countries.
Our Lord, in his quiet Sabbath walk about Jerusalem, came to the Pool of Bethesda, which had a wonderful reputation for its healing qualities, on account of which its porches and sheds were crowded with sick people with divers ailments, waiting to take advantage of what was considered to be a miraculous action in its waters. What is to-day known as the “Pool of the Virgin” is supposed to be the one formerly known as the Pool of Bethesda, and a peculiar movement in the waters of the Pool of the Virgin is well known. Travelers whose word is reliable declare that they have seen this spring rise twelve inches in five minutes, and then subside about as quickly. There are other springs which have this same intermitting peculiarity. One of these is at Kissingen, Germany. Its flow is accompanied with an escape of gas, and its water is reputed to be more valuable at the time of its movements, and probably because surcharged with gas.
The intermittent movement of the water of the Bethesda Pool is referred to in vs. 7 of this chapter, but the explanation about the angel troubling the waters, etc., contained in the last seven words of the third verse, and all of the fourth verse, is omitted from the oldest Greek MSS. (the Sinaitic and Vatican). There was probably nothing whatever miraculous connected with the spring, but some peculiarity of the channel,
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which caused the water from one compartment to syphon out into the other at intervals; or possibly the action was caused by gas. The healings experienced were quite probably what to-day would be termed mind cures, a beneficial action of the mind and will upon the physical organism.
We do not know that the Lord made any movement toward the general healing of the multitude who were waiting for the movement of the Pool, and hoping for relief; nor do we know that he extended his beneficence to any, except the one whose healing is the subject of this lesson, who was more helpless than the majority, and whose case was apparently hopeless, in that it was chronic, of thirty-eight years standing. Nor could the impotent one have had much ground for hope at the Pool, for, as he himself explained, others less feeble than himself availed themselves of the fountain before he could reach it. It was to this heart-sick and weary one, hopeless and helpless, that the Lord addressed himself, “Wilt thou be made whole?” He readily answered that he was anxious to be made whole, and our Lord did not even wait for him to manifest a previous faith in his power, but allowed the man’s faith to be testified by his obedience: and exercising the faith, astonished and bewildered, he obeyed, taking up his couch, not even knowing his benefactor.
So it is with the greater miracles performed by our Lord throughout this Gospel age—some of the weakest and most hopelessly powerless for good are morally healed, strengthened, renewed, transformed, through the operation of faith and obedience. Yet such cases are but few compared to the world of mankind, similarly or even less diseased with sin, who are all eventually
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(during the Millennium) to be made acquainted with the Great Physician.
This miracle brought upon Jesus the opposition of the Pharisees, who, because of a wrong attitude of heart, mistook the real object and purpose of the Sabbath day, and tacking on to the divine command traditions of the elders, had made of it a mere outward form, robbing it of its true thought. We are not to consider that our Lord performed so many of his miracles on the Sabbath, apparently in preference to other days, as signifying any disrespect to the day, nor as signifying a desire to provoke the Pharisees. Rather, we may suppose that the performance of the notable miracles on this day was largely in order to thus point out the great Seventh Day Sabbath, the Millennial Day, the seventh thousand year period of earth’s history, when the anti-typical and far greater miracles and blessings will come to mankind. “These things [miracles] did Jesus, and manifested forth [beforehand] his [coming] glory.”—John 2:11.
The conduct of the Jews, in wishing to kill one who, according to their own testimony, had done nothing amiss, but had done much good, simply because he differently interpreted the Law, and disregarded the “traditions of the elders,” is a parallel to the opposition which is sometimes manifested by present-day Christians—sectarians of the strictest sort. They might not indeed seek literally to kill the one who would do violence to their theories and traditions, but many of them would have very little hesitancy in assassinating his character, if thereby they could defend the falsities of their systems.
Our Lord’s reply respecting his authority angered them the more: not because he declared himself to be Jehovah, the Father, as many seem to think, but because he declared himself to be the Son of Jehovah, who had been given a work to do by the Father. Nor did the Jews misunderstand him in this; their anger was because, in claiming to be the Son of God, he was claiming an honor and place so much higher than themselves—a place which implied a closeness of relationship and of nature to Jehovah, a claim which they considered blasphemous. The successors of the Pharisees in our day go far beyond our Lord’s claims, and claim for him what he never claimed for himself; viz., that he is the Father, and that he always has been the Father as well as the Son, and that the two are one in person, and not merely two persons of one harmonious mind, purpose, sentiment, will. These take great offence at any of the Lord’s “brethren” of to-day who claim to be sons of God, and who apply that term in its Scriptural force and significance. As is well known to many, a prominent Doctor of Divinity and Professor in a theological seminary in Ohio has published a scurrilous review of MILLENNIAL DAWN, the chief point of which is the holding up to ridicule the hope of the Church’s “high calling,” therein set forth, based upon and supported by the exceeding great and precious promises given to us in the Scriptures, the intention of which, the Apostle declares to be, “that we might become partakers of the divine nature.”—2 Pet. 1:4.
The declaration that “the Son can do nothing of himself,” if it were not backed up as it is by a score of other testimonies from the same interested and inspired Teacher, is a contradiction to the common thought of Trinitarians, that the Son is the Father: it is in direct conflict with the statement of the catechism, that they are “equal in power and in glory.” Nevertheless the Father “loveth [filio—has affection for] the Son,” and as a consequence of this affection has shown, is showing, and will show forth through him greater marvels, greater wonders. And our Lord Jesus has promised us that, as the Elder Brother (of the Gospel house of sons), whatsoever the Father shall make known to him he in turn will make known to us. This is brought forcibly
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to our attention in the Book of Revelation, which expressly declares that it is—”The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass.” (John 15:15; Rev. 1:1.) Our Elder Brother, our Bridegroom, our Captain, has promised further, that in due time we also shall share with him in doing greater works than any which he performed at his first advent.—John 14:12.
Amongst the greater works the Lord mentions the quickening of the dead—claiming that, as the Father has the power to raise the dead, so also this power is granted to the Son. Nor should we suppose that our Lord, in this statement, referred to the awakening of Lazarus, and the son of the widow of Nain, and the daughter of Jairus. These at most were awakenings, and not, in the full sense of the word, resurrections—these individuals were not lifted up completely out of death into the perfection of life. Rather, we may suppose that our Lord was looking down into the future—to the resurrection of the Church in glory, honor and immortality, and to the subsequent resurrection (under trial or judgment) of the world during the Millennial age.
This thought is borne out by the statement of vs. 22, that all judgment has been transferred to the Son. The resurrection life is to be the reward of those who will successfully pass the judgment. The first resurrection will be the reward of those who are “overcomers” in the trial in progress during this Gospel age, under the conditions of the high calling, and its narrow way to glory, honor and immortality. The Church is on judgment, on trial, under the terms of this high calling, now, during this Gospel age. The Lord will also judge the world of mankind redeemed by his own sacrifice,—during the Millennial age: and in that judgment of the world he has promised to associate with himself the Bride class, whose judgment trial is now in progress. (1 Cor. 6:2.) Those of the world of mankind, awakened and brought to trial during the Millennial age, who shall develop characters in harmony with righteousness, and fully acceptable to the Judge, shall attain to full resurrection, and enter life, complete and everlasting, at the close of the Millennial age—at the close of their day of trial, while the residue will be cut off in the Second Death.
That this judgment of the world did not begin at our Lord’s first advent, we have his own testimony: “I came not to judge the world.” (John 12:47.) And again, his declaration, “My Word shall judge you in the last day“—the last thousand-year day of the seven, the Millennial Day. It is in full harmony with this that the Apostle declares, “God hath appointed a day [period—epoch] in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained”—the Christ, Head and body.—John 12:48; Acts 17:31; 1 Cor. 6:2.
In harmony with this, also, is the statement in vs. 17 and Heb. 4:4,10. God rested from his work of creation when man became a transgressor, and instead of proceeding with the work, he abandoned it, placing a curse upon it,—a penalty of death upon his chief handiwork. But altho he abandoned the matter, in one sense of the word, he did not abandon it in his purpose, but intended and foretold that he would raise up a seed of the woman which should eventually crush the Evil One, delivering the race from his power—implying incidentally the revocation of the death penalty, a resurrection. Our Lord Jesus was in person the promised Seed of the woman, but, as we have already seen, the divine plan included also the Church, “members of his body.” The sufferings of Christ, Head and body, are mentioned in the promise of Eden, as the bruising of the heel by the serpent. This has been in progress throughout the Gospel age; Jesus was crucified by the forces of evil, yielding himself up a sin offering; and the members of his Body are suffering with him, “filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ.”—Col. 1:24.
Soon the time will come when this great Seed, the Christ, shall be fully glorified, all the members sharing in the glory of the Head: and then, as the Apostle declares, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” (Rom. 16:20.) And it is this great Deliverer, whose Head and Lord has redeemed the world with his own precious blood, that the Father has appointed to be the Judge of the redeemed race, when it shall be on trial during the Millennial age, while Satan is bound. The work of the Son will not be complete until all evil has been thoroughly subjugated, which will be at the close of the Millennial age. He will reclaim, by a knowledge of the truth, and chastisements and corrections in righteousness, so many as are willing, and the residue shall be destroyed from among the people. (Acts 3:23.) And when he shall thus have put down all opposing authority, rule and power, the Apostle assures us, he will deliver up the Kingdom to God even the Father. Thus the Father worked previously to man’s fall, and has committed the work of reconciliation of man to the Son, and also the judgment of the race, and will receive it back again under divine jurisdiction, when, through the Son as his agent, he shall have made all things new.—1 Cor. 15:24; Rev. 21:5.
It is therefore a great mistake to say, as some do, “Jesus is our Judge, like the Father,” for our Lord’s own words assure us that the Father judgeth no man, having “committed all judgment unto the Son.” The judgment of the Church, in progress during this Gospel
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age, is referred to in vs. 24: those who now hear and believe and obey to the extent of their ability have everlasting life guaranteed to them, as a result of thus favorably passing the present judgment or trial. These are assured that they will not need to come into the general judgment of the world during the Millennial age, because they pass from death unto life as the result of the judgment of this age. The word “condemnation,” in this verse, signifies judgment, and is so rendered in the Revised Version.—Compare 1 Cor. 11:32.
In vs. 25 the general judgment of mankind during the Millennial age is specially referred to, when all the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, be brought to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4), and when they that hear (obey that knowledge) shall live: shall be rescued not only from the tomb but also from all the imperfections, mental, moral and physical, which have come upon the world through sin—be raised up to perfection of life. The fact that this judgment work begins with a little flock during this Gospel age is suggested by the expression that the hour for the dead to hear the voice of the Son of Man has already commenced, “now is.” The whole world, from the divine standpoint, is spoken of as dead, because it is already nine-tenths dead and under sentence of death to the full. It was from this standpoint that our Lord said to one, “Let the dead bury their dead.”
Our Lord realized that his hearers could not appreciate the possibility of his doing so great a work as a man, and hence he makes the explanation that the Father, who has life inherent (immortality), hath given (promised) the Son the same inherent life (immortality), as well as given commandment (authorization) that he, the Son of Man, to whom the work was committed, as declared in the prophets, should execute judgment—the divine will. And it is in view of this high honor conferred upon the Son by the Father that we are told (vs. 23), “that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father.” (Revised Version.) The explanation of this statement follows, and shows that the honor to the Son is as the Father’s appointed representative and agent in the great work, saying, “He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which sent him.”
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FEEDING THE HUNGRY
—FEB. 19.—JOHN 6:1-14.—
“I am the bread of life.”—John 6:35.
“AFTER these things,” says John; and various connected incidents show that it was nearly a year after the miracle and discourse of our last lesson. It is well understood that the Gospel of John does not claim to be a full record of our Lord’s sayings and doings. It would appear to have been written after the other Gospels. John evidently recollected matters which, in whole or in part, had been overlooked by the others, and his Gospel sets forth some very interesting incidents and prayers and discourses, whose omission would have been a serious loss to us. Thus we see how God operates in various ways to accomplish his purpose. He could have miraculously used any one of the Evangelists to give the full and detailed account, but he chose rather to allow each to state himself in his own manner, and to supply the details in four narratives, in preference to one.
This very arrangement, indeed, has led to a greater search of the Scriptures, and has thus brought the various details more pointedly to the attention of the Lord’s people. We are to remember, however, that, altho a liberty was allowed, the matter was nevertheless under divine care and supervision, to the intent that the records should not err in their statement. Our Lord’s promise we may rely upon, viz., that whatsoever the apostles bound or loosed on earth, is bound or loosed in heaven, so completely were they under divine direction and protection against deception and misstatement.
News had just reached our Lord and his disciples that John the Baptist had been beheaded, and “when Jesus heard of it he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart.” (Matt. 14:13.) Our Lord withdrew, probably in part to have an opportunity for private meditation and conference with his disciples, who undoubtedly would be greatly agitated by this news, and needed his calming influence and assurance that Herod could have no power over him or them except such as might be permitted of the Father. The wilderness place to which they went was just outside the boundary of Herod’s dominion, near Bethsaida. And the fact that our Lord’s conference with his disciples had a pacifying and strengthening effect is evidenced by their return that same night to Galilee, Herod’s territory.
It was while they were thus quietly aside, on the mountain slopes on the north-eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, that they beheld “a great company coming toward them.” The largeness of the company is accounted for by the fact that it was near the time of the Feast of the Passover, and according to custom large numbers of the religiously inclined were on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
From the other Gospels we learn that the day was spent in healing the sick of the multitude, and preaching to them the things pertaining to the Kingdom of
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God, and that it was toward evening that they were miraculously fed on five barley loaves and two small fishes,—and had twelve baskets of fragments remaining. (Matt. 14:15; Mark 6:34; Luke 9:11.) It is remarkable that the Gospels do not parade our Lord’s generosity and kindness, but content themselves with recording the simple facts: yet these facts give ample testimony to those who have eyes to see, showing them in him “the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Here, for instance, we note the fact that he specially sought rest and privacy with his disciples, yet when he saw the multitude he was “moved with compassion toward them:” he could not refrain from giving them his vitality in curing their ailments, and pouring in the oil and wine of truth, and satisfying their hungers and thirstings of heart with the good promises of the Kingdom, and finally providing them natural food. And such will be the spirit of all the Lord’s followers, in proportion as they have learned of him, and become partakers of the spirit of his holiness. Their delight will be, not in self-gratification, but chiefly in “doing good unto all men as they have opportunity, especially to the household of faith.” “So shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another.”—Gal. 6:10; John 13:35.
John’s narrative, in connection with those of the other Evangelists, shows us that our Lord counseled with the apostles respecting what should be done with the multitude, and that their general advice was that they be sent away, that they might find lodging and victuals in the nearest villages. The people themselves seem to have been so entranced with the good tidings that they entirely forgot their own necessities. Our Lord specially addressed Philip, respecting the matter, because his home was in the neighboring city of Bethsaida.
The general conclusion of all the apostles was that the feeding of such a multitude was beyond any reasonable hope of theirs. And it must have been with bewilderment that they obeyed the Lord’s direction to seat the people in orderly companies, and proceeded to distribute their scanty supply. All had sufficient to satisfy their hunger, and the fragments that remained, gathered into the haversacks (mistranslated baskets) in which the twelve apostles carried their provisions, were a good supply for their future necessities. Thus did our Lord additionally teach economy, frugality. The disciples and the multitude would be very likely to draw the inference that, where there was such power to create and to multiply, there would be no necessity for frugality. The course pursued by our Lord is a valuable lesson for our time also. It implies that those who receive of the Lord’s bounty should be none the less appreciative of it, and careful in its use. According to the divine arrangement, it would seem to be the proper thing that wilful waste, sooner or later, brings corresponding woful want.
The Lord’s people should be careful to avoid wasting, in earthly food and temporal matters, not because of selfishness, and a desire to hold and accumulate, but, as the Apostle explains, “that ye may have to give”—that thus we may have opportunity to be imitators of our Heavenly Father, who is continually giving to the needy, some of his blessings being bestowed alike upon the worthy and unworthy. (Eph. 4:28.) The same principle applies to some extent in spiritual matters. We may partake of our spiritual blessings to our full satisfaction, and with thankfulness; but we are not to waste spiritual privileges because they are God’s free gifts. Rather are we to prize every spiritual morsel and to gather up in store for future needs of ourselves and others. The memory is our “basket,” our haversack, and divine provision is so bountiful that every disciple may gather his basket full.
The same generous heart which had compassion upon the multitudes, declaring that they were as sheep having no shepherd, and following blind guides, and about to fall with them into the ditch of Israel’s great calamity, and who taught them, healed them and fed them, is the same yesterday, to-day and forever. We may know, therefore, that he is to-day looking with
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sympathetic compassion upon the multitudes of so-called “Christendom.” He sees that the great doctors of finance, of sociology and of theology, tho thoroughly blind and disputing with each other respecting the way, are nevertheless leading the people on to the great time of trouble that is nearing. He beholds the multitudes, dissatisfied with the husks of human tradition and philosophy, hungering and thirsting after righteousness (truth), yet blinded from seeing it, by prejudice and superstition, and led of error by priestcraft and human subserviency. He sees the dark night of trouble approaching, but before sending the people away he instructs all who are his disciples to supply them with something to eat—with spiritual food, with truths pertaining to the Kingdom, which will afford them some strength and some encouragement during the dark hour of that “time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.”
The Lord has already made provision sufficient in quantity and variety, under his blessing; and he bids each of his specially consecrated ones to have faith, and to go forth in the distributing of the food, trusting the result to him. Brethren and sisters, let us be energetic in handing forth the bread of life, the “meat in due season,” to the multitude,—to whoever is hungry enough to desire to partake. Those who thus distribute will find in the end—their own vessels full.