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VOL. XXI. JUNE 1, 1900. No. 11.
Views From the Watch Tower……………………163
Why Rev. Lyman Abbott is Not a
Animals Suffer Less than Man………………165
The War Spirit Growing……………………166
Poem: “I that Speak am He”……………………168
Philadelphia Convention, June 16-18……………168
Full Assurance of Faith………………………169
“Give Us this Day Our Daily Bread”……………171
Review of the Quarter’s Studies………………173
Questions and Answers………………………174
Faithful Co-Laborers Heard from………………176
Special Notice to Subscribers…………………162
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WHAT SAY THE SCRIPTURES ABOUT SPIRITISM?
WHO ARE THE SPIRITS IN PRISON? AND WHY ARE THEY THERE?
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
WHY REV. LYMAN ABBOTT IS NOT A UNIVERSALIST
AT A GENERAL CONVENTION of Universalists one session was set apart as “Interdenominational Evening,” and amongst other speakers was Dr. Lyman Abbott, a representative Congregationalist, who gave his reasons for not believing in universal salvation. Speaking as a liberal Congregationalist he declared that modern Congregationalism does not accept the doctrine of eternal punishment as preached by the celebrated Jonathan Edwards of the last century.
We make quotations from Dr. Abbott’s discourse as follows:—
“I do not believe that any one of God’s creatures will be kept by God in eternal existence simply that he may go on in sin and misery forever. The proposition has long since become spiritually unthinkable to me. I might perhaps believe that a soul could suffer eternally; but I can not believe that any being that God ever made will be kept in existence by God that he may go on in sin eternally.
“What was the old doctrine of eternal punishment? The Savoy Confession, up to about the middle of this century, was the recognized expression of orthodox Congregationalism. Not that it was binding on orthodox Congregationalists; but it was the only historic creed they possessed. Except in the matter of polity, and one or two minor matters, it was identical with the Westminster Confession of Faith; and this was the substance of its statement: It declared that our first parents fell by eating the forbidden fruit; that, they being the root of all mankind, their guilt was imputed and their sinful and corrupted nature was conveyed to all their posterity; that as a result we are ‘utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good;’ that from the race thus lost and ruined in the Fall, ‘by the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined unto everlasting life, and others are foreordained to everlasting death;’ that those not effectually called, God was pleased, ‘for the glory of his sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice;’ and that those ‘not elected, altho they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore can not be saved.’
“Specifically, and clause by clause, I disown that statement. … This doctrine is inconsistent with the character of a righteous God. I might fear such a God; I might tremble before such a God; I might, because I was a coward, obey such a God; but I could not reverence such a God. It is inconsistent with the faith that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh, for it was not His nature to pass any by or to ordain any to dishonor and wrath. It is inconsistent with the Scripture; inconsistent with the parable of the prodigal son, which is Christ’s epitome of the Gospel; inconsistent with the declaration of Paul that ‘every knee should bow and every tongue confess Jesus Christ to be the Lord, to the glory of God the Father’; inconsistent with the very chapters of Romans on which it is supposed to be founded, for they close with the declaration that ‘God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all;’ inconsistent with the splendid picture John paints, of the time when every creature that is in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, shall give praise and glory to the God of their salvation.”
These noble words and logical arguments surely appeal to all God-loving and God-honoring hearts and heads; and we are glad so to think: it is a sign of heart enlargement which should be admired, even tho the speaker (like other great men of our times) has swerved far from the Bible under the influence of Evolution and Higher Criticism, and is no longer trusting in the great sacrifice for sins “finished” at Calvary for salvation. But Dr. Abbott said some more good things in that discourse. In telling his Universalist
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audience why he does not believe in universal salvation, he displayed excellent logic. In reasoning that “the ultimate fact in human life is the freedom of the human will,” he said:—
“I know that I can choose the good, and therefore I can choose the evil. What I find true in myself I believe to be true in every other man; he can choose the good, and therefore he can choose the evil. And while I wistfully desire—yea, and sometimes devoutly hope—that when the great drama of life here and hereafter is ended, all God’s creatures will have chosen the good—I do not know. If I were a Calvinist, I should be a Universalist. If I believed that God could make all men righteous, I should be sure that he would make all men righteous; otherwise he would not be a righteous God. But I start from the other pole. I begin with my own absolute freedom. I recognize as a fact, in my life, in my philosophy and in my preaching, that, in the last analysis, the destiny of every man is in his own hands. Father may persuade, mother may entice, influences may environ, God himself may surround with all possible persuasions, but in the last analysis the destiny of every man is in his own hands. And what he will do with it I do not know.
“Why, if God be good, has he made a world in which there is sin? Why has he not made a world sinless? Could he not? Certainly; he not only could, he has. The birds are sinless. But he could not make a world in which are free moral agents able to choose the good without giving them at the same time power to choose the evil. Power to choose the one is power to choose the other; and a world in which there are some men who choose shame, dishonor, sin and death, is a better world, I dare to say, than a world made of machines that could choose neither the good nor the evil.”
We fully concur with the foregoing, reminding our readers nevertheless of the necessity for remembering the two opposite views of free agency which may properly be taken from different standpoints, as shown in our issue of Dec. 1, 1899, page 264.
But two queries naturally arise:
(1) How does Dr. Abbott harmonize his two propositions, (a) that the decision respecting his harmony or disharmony with God lies with man himself, individually; (b) that God has made no provision for the eternal torture of any? The logical mind will surely inquire, What then will become of the wicked who are unwilling to be saved on divine terms and hence unfit for the rewards of eternal bliss, if the time is to come when “every creature that is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea shall give praise and glory to the God of their salvation”?
Is it possible that so fine a logician as Dr. Abbott has overlooked the logic of his own expressions? Oh no! We answer, the connecting link in the Doctor’s logic is clear to his own mind, but he does not care to make it very public because it is not very popular yet—the same is true of many others of the ablest ministers in all denominations. The connecting link of his logic will be seen at once when it is stated,—he believes in the utter destruction of the incorrigibly wicked, as we do, and as we teach publicly.
But public teachers who keep silence on this subject and put their light under a bushel, do so at a great cost—the cost of further guidance of the Lord into the “all truth” promised. Oh, how many ministers in seeking to avoid the senseless charge, “Annihilationist,” have suffered God’s character to be blasphemed and his people to be deluded by the doctrine of an eternal torment of the unsaintly;—preferring numbers and popularity and honor among men and the financial emoluments of these rather than the truth! Alas! they seek to be wise and prudent according to this world’s standards, entirely overlooking the fact that the Lord declares he will not reveal his secrets to such. Our Lord pointed this out, saying, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes”—who will utter the truth regardless of consequences.—Matt. 11:25.
(2) Some one will say then, If Dr. Abbott believes thus in the final reign of righteousness and the destruction of the incorrigibly wicked, is he not very close to the truth and a very hopeful subject?
We answer, No. At one time, so far as we might judge of any man’s heart by his writings, Dr. Abbott was very close to the truth—a believer not only as above but also in the Atonement and in the second coming of him who made the atonement with his own precious blood. But the Doctor seems to have permitted himself to become one of the “wise and prudent” who prefer honor one of another rather than that which cometh from God only. (John 5:44.) At any rate, instead of coming out more and more boldly for the truth on these unpopular subjects, he seems to have put the light he had under a bushel until it has gone out. For according to Dr. Abbott’s present teachings he undoubtedly is now an Evolutionist with all that implies of rejection of the Bible doctrine of a fall by our first parents (and we in them) from perfection and harmony with God—into sin and its mental, moral and physical degeneration and death. And the rejection of this implies a rejection of the Atonement; for if man did not fall he needed no redemption from the fall—no Redeemer. And if the “ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6) is denied, then logically “times of restitution” to a former estate (Acts 3:19-21; Ezek. 16:55,61) must be denied also. And accordingly there would be no object in establishing the Millennial Kingdom—for Evolutionists argue the world is progressing
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splendidly under Evolution and needs Christ’s Kingdom no more than it needed a sin-offering when it had committed no sin and was under no condemnation.
Thus nearly all the great and wise and prudent according to the course of this world, professing themselves to be wise, have by leaving the truth of God’s revelation, the teachings of the Bible, become foolish; and their foolish hearts have become darkened. Indeed we believe this to be the secret of the greater blindness and more rapid falling away of ministers than other Christians from the very hub of revealed truth, the ransom, and hence from all truth. With greater advantages for learning the truth than others they have not loved truth so as to search for it, especially when they perceived that their search would not only cost time and energy; but the truth being now as ever unpopular would cost them popularity with all classes wedded to errors.
In consequence many ministers have so trifled with truth and with their own consciences that they not only have lost love and relish for truth as truth, but have even lost much of that keen perception for truth which always accompanies a tender and trained conscience. This is well attested by the frequent confessions of prominent ministers appearing lately in the public press. They confess to systematic deception practiced for years respecting their beliefs versus their confessions. And the fact that this is done without even an apology or any manifestation of shame for so ignoble a course demonstrates that these gentlemen either never had much conscience to hurt, or, as we prefer to think, that they have so long and so persistently trodden it in the mire of self-interest and “prudence” that it has lost its life, its power. It is for this reason that the ministers of all denominations are much less amenable to the truth than the consecrated “sheep” of their flocks;—just as it was in the end of the Jewish age. Not only so, but they are the greatest enemies of the truth—and now as eighteen centuries ago many of them do not hesitate to say all manner of evil falsely, openly and by insinuation, to stir up the evil passions of their deluded followers to reject and to crucify the Truth! Woe is surely coming upon all such hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, who will neither enter the Kingdom themselves nor permit those who would be so inclined to enter.—Compare Matt. 23:13.
LOWER ANIMALS SUFFER LESS THAN MAN
Infidelity’s hyper-criticism has charged the Bible and the Bible’s God with unsympathetic brutality in commanding Israel to sacrifice sheep, oxen, goats and doves by the tens of thousands—causing these innocent creatures intense pain merely to typify something future. Moreover, it is claimed that the method commanded by Moses’ law for the killing of animals for food—namely by bleeding to death—is barbarous, causing needless prolongation of the animal’s sufferings: and the Hindus of India are pointed to as examples for Christians, because they will not taste animal food even if starving: whereas the founder of Christianity, while giving his followers the law of Love, not only neglected to mention the lower animals but ate thereof himself.
Our answer has been that it is a mere supposition, quite unproven, that the lower animals suffer pain in anything like the degree known to man:—especially such as under the Jewish Law were prescribed as food for man. In our opinion the cutting of the throat, while it does not exhaust life instantly, does render those animals unconscious so that they suffer no pain whatever. The horse and the dog, not permitted the Jews as food, give many instances of greater nerve-sensitiveness than do the ox, sheep, etc., and more than any other animals, tho very much less than man. Doubtless the sensitiveness of these two is designed to make them more tractable to man’s control and therefore more useful and companionable to him.
We clip from the Pittsburg Press an article corroborative of the above that may be both interesting and profitable reading, as follows:—
ANIMALS WHICH HAVE NO PAIN
RECENT EXPERIMENTS SHOW THAT LOWER ORDERS
ARE NOT SENSITIVE
“The old writers, according to science, assumed that an insect has sensations and feelings resembling our own—that it sees what we see and suffers as we would suffer if treated in the same way. Recently the pendulum has swung in the other direction, and high authorities practically deny that the lowest organisms feel anything that can properly be called pain.
“Thus the late Prof. W. W. Norman, of the University of Texas, maintained as the result of experiments on the flounder and lower species, that the reactions of these creatures against injury do not indicate pain sensations at all.
“Certain motions are said to express pain, because they always accompany injury. Since they do accompany injury they are said to indicate that the injury causes the animal to suffer. This, the professor says, is a mere argument in a circle. He regards movements as the immediate consequence of physical stimulation. To prove his position he made a considerable number of experiments.
“The most striking and classic of these experiments were made on the common earth worm. If such a low animal be divided at its middle transversely, only the posterior half shows those squirming and jerking movements which, anthropomorphically viewed, seem
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to indicate pain; the anterior half (containing the brain) crawls, as ordinarily, away. Now, if each of these halves be halved again, the posterior segment of each squirms while the anterior halves crawl away. This same process may be continued with precisely like result until the pieces are no longer large enough to crawl independently.
“This striking phenomenon is explained in part by the two sets of muscular fibers in the worm, one longitudinal, causing the squirming and jerking, and the other circular, which produce the crawling. Why in the posterior segments the former set should be initially stimulated and in the anterior the latter set, Professor Norman says he does not know.
“The abdomen of a hermit crab may be cut in two without any ‘but a very slight response’ from any remaining movable organ. ‘Limulus’ stops a few seconds when four or five abdominal segments are cut away, then proceeds quickly breathing as before.
“‘Geophilus’ cut in two in the middle continues its crawling, the front half going forward and the rear half backward. Millipedes divided while walking do not hasten nor stop nor jerk. Dragon flies lose part of their abdomens without any appreciable change in position. Eels continue to eat when their abdomens are cut away during the process.
“Lastly, sharks and flounders, provided a current of water circulates through their gills, will allow the most tedious and deep-going operations on their heads without the slightest appreciable movement indicative of pain.”
* * *
Many friends of the Truth have queried whether or not God’s plan reveals any provision for the lower animals. They query whether or not there will be deaths among the lower animals during the Millennium and if so if that would not cause pain to their human friends, etc.
Scripture promises are addressed only to man and refer to the lower animals only as they stand related to man’s welfare. For instance, the promise that the lion shall eat straw like the ox and lie down peaceably with the lamb, is for man’s comfort and assurance, and by no means implies everlasting life to the lamb. Altho all animals have suffered by the fall of man, it is indirectly, in that their ruler, their king, lost his balance, his full sanity, and hence has been unable to regulate and govern properly his subjects. Restitution times therefore will bring its blessings chiefly to man, who because of his much higher and finer organism has suffered by his degradation and death sentence immeasurably more than the brutes.
We may expect death among the lower animals during the Millennium as they shall live out their periods of usefulness. And by reason of the contrast the everlasting life provided for man (made in God’s image) will be the more appreciated. Since summer and winter are to continue (Gen. 8:22) we may know that the flowers and all vegetation will likewise die and revive perennially, reminding restored and perfected man of the blessed change that came to him by divine grace through Jesus, his Redeemer and Lord.
These conditions prevailing in the animal and vegetable worlds will bring no pain, neither sorrow nor crying (Rev. 21:4) because all of the former things will have passed away. Amongst these will be present misconceptions by which we are inclined to attribute to the lower animals human feelings and sentiments—some even carrying these mistaken notions to flowers—loving and talking to their flowers as others do to a pet dog—imagining reciprocal feelings and sentiments.
Restitution will not only bring to men greater knowledge but also sounder minds, in harmony with the divine mind,—so that their loves and hopes, like the divine promises, will measurably pass by the lower creatures and think and plan for and be absorbed in uplifting man—”the groaning creation.” And already those who receive a knowledge of the divine plan and with it the spirit of the Lord, find themselves no longer
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disposed to waste valuable time and affection upon dogs, flowers, etc., while the Lord’s “brethren” need sympathy and aid and counsel in the narrow way, and while mankind in general are in so deplorable a condition as at present—mental, moral and physical. And such a change of sentiment is an evidence of their attaining more of “the spirit of a sound mind.”—See 2 Tim. 1:7.
THE WAR SPIRIT GROWING
For years Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Russia have had military fever, as is well known; and now the same has spread in virulent form to Great Britain and her colonies and to the United States. Just what bearing this may have on the great time of trouble impending is somewhat difficult to prognosticate, but it forcefully reminds us of the Prophet’s pronouncement respecting our day: “Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles: Prepare war, make up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up [to battle]: beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.” The context following clearly describes the great day of trouble in which the symbolic sun and moon shall be darkened and the voice of the Lord shall be heard in rebuke of evil and the present symbolic heavens and earth shall be shaken.—Joel 3:9-16; Heb. 23:26-29.
In the light of the Boer war and the resistance shown to be possible for a weak nation when well armed with modern weapons, we need not wonder if some of the small, weak nations now feel themselves
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comparatively strong, and if they will be proportionately independent—even to arrogance. Belgium for instance and Switzerland are amongst the weak nations now feeling themselves strong: and it is said that the latter is now spending on its military forces and armaments (pro rata to its population) more than any other nation of Europe.
Of course this war spirit may quiet down; but while it lasts—while every boy’s heart is throbbing with military enthusiasm and every school-yard is a drill-ground—when even the Sunday School scholars are organized into “Boys’ Brigades”—when professed Christians are so infected with the fever as to be blinded to justice and love and pity,—things are not favorable to peace. It looks very much as tho the International Peace Congress cried Peace! Peace! when there is no peace—because the spirit of avarice controls the world and not the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of love and benevolence. However, we who look from the Watch Tower can note these things with equanimity. In the world but not of it, we can sympathize with all the contestants, realizing that each nation is more or less blinded and misled by the spirit of pride which forgets or has never learned that only “righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.”—Prov. 14:34.
Every evil course amongst men seems to be the result of the misdirection or perversion of a good quality; and so it is in this war spirit: it is the misdirection of combativeness and destructiveness,—two qualities absolutely indispensable to progress. But very few even of Christians have learned of the Lord’s Word and spirit how to use these faculties properly—in fighting the good fight, in overcoming and destroying the forces of sin in themselves and in opposing error with truth, the darkness with the light—”Speaking the truth in love.”
We pray that as the spirit of warfare rises in others it may be fully awakened also in the Lord’s consecrated soldiers of the cross, that they may become valiant for righteousness, courageous for the truth as “good soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ,” and be zealous to the extent of enduring hardness,—shame, contempt, evil speaking and general opposition from the world, the flesh, the devil and the nominal Church which, blinded by false doctrines, Satan is so grievously misleading.
This thought respecting the Lord’s soldiers, and the true nobility of character, and deadness to the world, and alive-ness to God necessary to victory over self and the world, much impressed us recently on the occasion of our visit to the Washington City Church. We found that, out of a total of twenty-seven professing full consecration to the Lord, three-fourths were “Volunteers,” and the other fourth desirous of being such and only hindered by circumstances they could not so far control. The Editor had the pleasure of joining these soldiers of the Lord in their campaign against error and for the liberation of “brethren” still bound in Babylon;—a campaign, a warfare for a purpose, a noble purpose, a loving purpose; a warfare for God and truth and liberty, which injures none and can offend none except the great Adversary or those whom he has blinded. The Editor has longed to join in this service in Allegheny, but thus far has been restrained by the fear that harm rather than good might result because of his being known to be closely identified with the publication. It would be credited to a desire to “blow his own horn” rather than as the blowing of the Jubilee Trumpet, proclaiming the times of restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets.—Lev. 25:9,10; Acts 3:10-21.
We are thankful that we can record that this war fever is spreading as well as the evil life-destroying one. The soldiers of the cross are becoming more and more courageous and coming more and more to realize that, if “we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren,” this would imply our willingness to lay down any and every lesser thing—time, influence, etc. The Boston Church (numbering about seventy) we understand has enlisted in this “Volunteer” work almost without an exception. We have sent them 13,800 of the “Volunteer” TOWERS which they are hastening to distribute before the warm weather thins the congregations they would serve.
What a privilege is here for such as have prayed God for opportunity to serve him and his cause! Counting that each of these double TOWERS represents four sermons, and that each should reach and be read by at least three persons, can any one point out any other method for reaching this same desirable class of “brethren” at the same low cost? If we know of no other method of reaching this class at any price, and if we know of no other way by which we could preach to them the true gospel, why should not all of the Lord’s consecrated people who enjoy the light of present truth avail themselves of the privilege? The fact that it is a new method of preaching is nothing. It is surely a successful method, not only as respects the “brethren” we would aid, but also as respects those who have covenanted themselves as living sacrifices to the Lord and his cause. All who engage in this service as something done for and unto the Lord are sure to be correspondingly blessed. Let all who can secure a share in this blessing. See the item in our issue of April 15th, discussing the work, method, etc., hearken to the joyful sound of the Jubilee Trumpet and become enthused with the spirit of this holy warfare.
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“I THAT SPEAK AM HE”
—JOHN 4:26; 9:37.—
She came, the thirsty one, to fill her pitcher,
And found a stranger sitting on the brink;
And while she poured for him the well’s refreshment,
He gave the precious cup of life to drink.
And when she wondered at her life’s revealing,
And if Messiah deeper depths could see,
He graciously her rising faith encouraged,—
“I that speak to thee am He!”
And so when we, blest Master, come, all empty,
To fountains, we but drink, and drink in vain;
Be thou with satisfying waters waiting,
That we may drink, and never thirst again.
Our wayward hearts’ true inwardness disclosing,
Constrain our timid faith to hope in thee,
And let us hear again the gracious message—
“I that speak to thee am He!”
They turned him from the synagogue accursed,
Whose gift of sight the Savior had bestowed;
And, burning under grief and indignation,
He sought again the well-remembered road.
And while he mused upon his kindly patron,
And if he could indeed Messiah be,
Lo, One with beaming countenance addressed him,
“I that speak to thee am He!”
And so, dear Lord, when our dim eyes are opened,
And one-time friends thy healing power despise,
Be thou anear with words of cheer and comfort,
To grant our saddest hour a glad surprise.
And when life’s subtle mysteries perplex us,
Unlock to us with faith’s unfailing key,
That we may hear from out the open portals,
“I that speak to thee am He!”
The proud and haughty still a sign requiring,
In vain the zenith and horizon scan,
While walks among them One with vesture girded,
To wield the purging and discerning fan.
But he who humbly treads the path of duty,
With eyes unsealed shall his Deliv’rer see;
His trial hour shall brighten with this token—
“I that speak to thee am He!”
R. B. HENNINGES.
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PHILADELPHIA CONVENTION, JUNE 16-18
SHORT NOTICE is not always a disadvantage, and we trust will not be in this instance. Arrangements for the Philadelphia convention had not been completed when our last issue went to press. The above date gives us the advantage of the low rates granted by all railroads to the Republican party convention,—namely one fare for the round trip from all directions. The season of the year is very favorable and we anticipate a large attendance.
The convention will be held under the auspices of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. The Church at Philadelphia, our hosts or entertainers for the occasion, have made bountiful arrangements as follows:—
(1) St. George’s Hall, corner of 13th and Arch sts., has been secured for the use of the Convention. It is one of the finest halls in Philadelphia.
(2) The Lincoln Hotel, No. 1222 Locust St., has been engaged upon moderate terms for the class of accommodation, namely one dollar a day each person for lodgings. Meals can be had at various restaurants in that vicinity at fifteen cents and upward. It will be safe for those of limited means to reckon expenses at two dollars per day, for the hotel and Convention hall are very centrally located near to depots and little street car fare need be expended.
(3) The Convention will open Saturday morning, June 16. The forenoon will be devoted to meeting arriving friends, getting acquainted, etc. On that morning representatives of the Philadelphia Church will be at the various railway depots to meet arriving friends, who will be expected to identify themselves by displaying conspicuously the front page of a WATCH TOWER. Should any fail to be identified they will have no difficulty in finding St. George’s Hall as above, and there a Reception Committee (recognizable by a silk badge) will look out for their welfare.
(4) Any of the friends who can attend, but who cannot afford more than one dollar a day expense during their stay, will be assisted by others more able, out of a fund already provided: and any who cannot afford the modest sum of one dollar per day, if they can arrange their railway fare will be provided for gratis. Come, all who can, who have the Lord’s spirit and who seek more of it. The assembling of ourselves together for the consideration of our Father’s Word will surely bring a blessing as he has promised.
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(5) When purchasing your ticket, ask for—”Excursion ticket to Republican Convention at Philadelphia.” The railroad people assure us that such tickets will be satisfactory to them.
(6) Decide about your going as speedily as possible, and if you decide to attend, at once address,—“Reception Committee,” P.O. Box No. 3084, Philadelphia, Pa., stating by what road you will travel, and if possible the hour of your train’s arrival on Saturday morning or afternoon. The Convention Program will be announced at its first session and posted up for reference. We cannot now announce the speakers, but among them, D.V., will be Brother Randle (formerly a missionary in China) and the Editor of this Journal.
(7) An opportunity will be afforded (Monday
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afternoon, June 18th) for any confessing baptism into Christ’s death to symbolize this in water baptism. Robes and towels will be provided, and the service will be preceded by a discourse defining and explaining Baptism and its import.
(8) No collections will be taken up, nor other solicitations for money made. Our assemblings are for spiritual refreshment and for the acquirement of heavenly riches for all.
(9) Only Christians, who trust in Christ as the “ransom for all,” are invited to this convention. It is hoped and earnestly requested that all such who come will seek preparation of heart for a blessing—hunger and thirst after righteousness, truth, purity, holiness; and all who come humbly in this condition will surely not only get a blessing, but also bestow blessings upon others. To these desirable ends let us each make the Convention and our own association therein a subject of prayer. We bespeak for it also the prayers of all of the Lord’s consecrated people who cannot attend: and thus they will no doubt participate in the blessings.
Other Conventions for this season will be as follows:—At Chicago, about Sept. 1st; at Dallas, Texas, Sept. 29th, 30th and October 1st. Particulars respecting the last two, will appear later.
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FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
SAINT PAUL speaks of the full assurance of hope and of full assurance of faith, as being the proper conditions for the Lord’s people. (Heb. 6:11; 10:22.) And this is the thought expressed by the Prophet, in our text—full confidence that he who has begun a good work in us is both able and willing to complete it. (Phil. 1:6.) But how few Christians, comparatively, have this full assurance of faith; how few can say, Surely, undoubtedly, goodness and mercy shall follow me henceforth through life, and by God’s grace I ultimately shall gain the heavenly Kingdom and the glorious things which God has promised to them that love him! The few who can enter fully into sympathy with the Apostle and Prophet in these expressions have therein a great joy, a great blessing, a great rest of heart which others do not possess. Let us therefore inquire why it is that the number who thus enter into the rest of faith is so small. What are the hindrances to the others, and how can those hindrances be removed, that a larger number of the Lord’s people may enjoy their patrimony?
The hindrances are of two kinds: (1) Many who are on the Lord’s side, and who have been greatly blessed of him, and who have made considerable progress in the knowledge of the truth, and who are trusting in the merit of the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice as the only hope of a future life, and who are thus justified, have nevertheless failed to take the second step necessary to their full induction into sonship in God’s family and into joint-heirship with Christ to all the exceeding great and precious promises which extend only to those who become his sons. This step, essential to becoming sons and joint-heirs, is the purpose of full consecration—the full surrender of our own wills, including all the aims and objects and purposes of life, and including also all that we have in the way of time, influence, means, reputation, etc. Not having taken this step, not having taken up the cross to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, this large class very properly feels that it is questionable to what extent the Lord’s promises, either for the life that now is or for the life that is to come, belong to them. And in this they are right; for none of the promises, present or future, belong to them, nor to any, until they have come under the terms of a full self-surrender, consecration, presenting their bodies living sacrifices to God, holy, acceptable, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our advice to these, then, is that realizing the situation they do not longer delay, but hasten at once to avail themselves of the greatest privilege that could possibly be offered, even by the Almighty. If they stand still they are, in the language of the Apostle, receiving the grace of God in vain—failing to use it. (2 Cor. 6:1) God’s grace, as freely bestowed upon those who have come to a knowledge of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, is the grace of the forgiveness of sins, of justification through faith; and the very object of this grace is to permit or qualify us to become living sacrifices, acceptable to God’s altar through the great sacrifice of our Redeemer.
Whoever, therefore, shall advance thus far and know of his privilege, and yet refuse to present his little all, has failed to be constrained by the love of Christ, has failed to appreciate the divine favor bestowed upon him, and manifests this failure by his neglect to use his opportunities, by his neglect to sacrifice the imperfect fragment of this present life, that he might obtain in exchange the great prize of glory, honor and immortality, and joint-heirship with Jesus in the Kingdom: such receive God’s grace in vain,
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profiting nothing by it over and above the world, which as yet lies in darkness and blindness.
What should such do? They should at once resolve that to render all they have to the Lord’s service is not only a reasonable thing, but an offering far too small—far less than what they would like to render to him who has manifested such compassion and grace toward us. And we should feel thus, even if there were no rewards attached to such a consecration of ourselves. But inasmuch as God has attached great rewards and blessings, we should feel not only that a refusal to accept would be an indication of non-appreciation of divine mercy, but an indication also of a weakness of mind, of judgment, which is unable to balance the trifling and transitory pleasures of self-will for a few short years, with an eternity of joy and blessing and glory, in harmony with the Lord.
And more than this, the consecrated are the only ones who really fully and truly enjoy this present life, for they indeed have a peace of heart which the world can neither give nor take away—a condition which all the world is coveting and seeking after, but finding not because they seek it not in the Lord’s way of full self-surrender to him. We urge, then, upon the class now addressed that they promptly make their covenant with the Lord, and thus become heirs of his good promises pertaining to the life that now is, and also of that which is to come, and that thus they lay the foundation for entering into “full assurance of the faith” and full assurance of the hope that God’s mercy and goodness shall follow them all the days of the present life, and that they shall dwell in the heavenly home forever.
(2) But amongst those who are real Christians, and who have made a full covenant of sacrifice unto the Lord, we find many who say, and more who think it without saying,—”O that I could feel sure that God’s goodness and mercy would continue with me all the days of my life, and that I should attain unto his Kingdom! O that I might have a full assurance of faith, a full assurance that I am accepted of the Lord, and that by his grace I shall ultimately be an overcomer!” What is the difficulty with this class? Why is it that these do not possess this full assurance of faith? We answer, that their difficulty is a lack of faith in God, and such a lack of faith is not pleasing to God, for “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Such a lack of faith, moreover, is a constant hindrance to their overcoming, as it is written, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” The Christian who has not the shield of faith, and a large one, is continually at disadvantage before the Adversary.—Heb. 11:6; 1 John 5:4.
What must be done to overcome this lack of faith, and to have an increase of faith? We answer, that like the apostles of old he should pray, “Lord, increase our faith.” And then, acting in harmony with this prayer, each should cultivate faith in his own heart: (a) By refreshing his memory continually with the divine promises, becoming very familiar with these in the Father’s Word. (b) He should seek more and more to remember that having made his covenant with the Lord these promises are his, and in his heart and with his lips he should claim them as his before the Lord in prayer with thanksgiving. He should claim them as his in his own thoughts, and in his conferences on holy things with the brethren.
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When trials or difficulties or perplexities arise, he should think of these promises, remembering that they belong to him—because God has promised them to such as love him,—who have made a covenant by self-sacrifice. (Psa. 50:5; Mal. 3:17.) He should resolve henceforth to trust the word of the heavenly Father implicitly. Thus, if some seeming accident befall him, let him call to his mind the promise that “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose,” and assure himself that the seeming accident would not have occurred had God not seen a way to make it the channel of a needed lesson or blessing. Let him refresh his mind with the thought that he comes under the provisions of this promise because he loves the Lord, and so loved him as to make a full consecration of himself to him; thus he is assured that this promise was intended for him.
Let such also remember the language of the Apostle, that if God loved us while we were yet sinners, so that he provided for us the great salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord, much more does he love us now, since we have been justified through faith in the great atonement, and have made a full consecration of ourselves to him, and thus come under the terms of adoption into his family. Let him remember too, that he who has begun the good work changes never, and that if our hearts are still in harmony with him, if our faith is still clear and firm in the great atonement, if our consecration is still full and complete, so that we seek not our own wills but his will to be done in our affairs, then we may indeed have the full assurance of faith, because knowing that God is unchangeable, and knowing that we are still in line with his promises and arrangements, we know that all of his gracious providences are still being exercised on our behalf. This is full assurance of faith—full confidence in the Lord.
(3) It is possible, however, for the true Christian who has taken the step of justification and the step of consecration and adoption into God’s family,
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and who has had the blessing of full assurance of faith—it is possible for such to lose this, if he become overcharged with the cares of this life, cold and indifferent as respects the Lord, his Kingdom, his brethren, his cause, etc. Such, of course, should not have a full assurance of faith; God does not intend it for them, but rather intends that if we leave the proper consecrated attitude we should also lose the joys and consolations which belong to it. And this is not merely as a retribution or punishment, but designed specially to awaken us to a realization of what we are losing, to the intent that such as have “lost their first love” may be revived, may renew their consecration vows, and thus return to the Lord, who will abundantly pardon, and restore unto them the joys of his salvation.
So then, reviewing our text, we say that this assurance of faith that God’s goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives, and that we shall ultimately by his grace attain to the Kingdom, is for the class mentioned in this Psalm, viz., the Lord’s sheep—those who are following him, and who are having the experiences outlined in this Psalm. One of these experiences is that following the Shepherd they are not left to hunger and thirst, but are bountifully supplied in the green pastures and by the still waters of the truth. Moreover, it applies to those who experience the Shepherd’s care, his rod and staff, correcting, reproving or guiding them. Such sheep as learn to love and have confidence in the Shepherd and in his guidance, and to take comfort and blessing out of all the afflictions and trials of life which may be permitted to come upon them, realizing that they are providential, and for their blessing—such continue to follow the Shepherd, continue to have the experiences of sheep, and may rejoice with full assurance of faith that he who began the good work of shepherding them and leading them out from the by-ways of sin and of selfishness into the full blessing of the heavenly Father, will continue this work and complete it, if they abide in him.—John 15:4-6.
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“GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD”
—MATT. 6:11; JOHN 6:5-14.—JUNE 17.—
JESUS and the apostles, entering a boat, sailed across the northerly end of Lake Galilee. The boat was in full view of the shore for probably all of this distance, and the multitudes, not only of those who had heard Jesus, but other multitudes on their way to Jerusalem to attend the Feast of the Passover, going by slow journey afoot, saw the boat and judged of its objective point, and many, desirous of seeing the great Prophet Jesus, of whom they had heard many things, deviated their course toward the point of the boat’s landing. And so it was that after Jesus and the disciples had reached their destination (and he had been for some time instructing them in things pertaining to the Kingdom) looking up they beheld a vast concourse of people approaching the spot.
Jesus of course knew that with the vast majority at least the object in coming was merely curiosity, not faith nor desire for instruction. Nevertheless, as always, his generous heart was full of sympathy. He beheld them as sheep having no shepherd, as following Moses and the Doctors of the Law in a blind, almost irrational manner, and having comparatively little capacity or hearing for the good tidings which he had to give. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the fact that they were not in a condition to receive spiritual truths such as he could give to his disciples, he proposed to give them a general object lesson which might do them good physically at the time, and which might be a channel for blessing in the future, as they would look back and remember the event. He proposed to feed the multitude with natural food, and to do it in such a manner as would impress them favorably, and besides, teach a great lesson of faith and trust to his apostles, who would need in future times the faith and confidence inspired by the miracle which he intended to work.
Philip, one of the apostles, resided in a city not far from where they were; hence it was with special appropriateness that our Lord addressed to him the question of supplies—where sufficiency of bread could be obtained, etc.; not, as the Apostle explains, that Jesus was in any question on this subject, but that he wished to stimulate the thought of Philip and the other apostles, and thus to prove or test them, and develop their faith in him. Philip, however, took the question in a purely practical form, and replied that it would require two hundred pennyworth ($34) of bread to satisfy even partially so large a company. But Andrew, apparently thinking of our Lord’s power, but scarcely able to realize so great a miracle, suggested that there was a beginning of the supply at least, in the five barley loaves and two small fishes possessed by one of the company.
Combining the testimonies of the different Evangelists we might suppose the dialogue between Jesus and the disciples to have been about as follows:
Jesus.—”Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”
Philip.—”Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that everyone may take a little.”
All the apostles.—”Send the multitude away that
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they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals.” (Luke.) Jesus.—”Give ye them to eat.” (Luke.)
All the apostles.—”Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread and give them to eat?” (Mark.)
Jesus.—”How many loaves have ye? Go and see.” (Mark.)
Andrew.—”There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves and two small fishes; but what are they among so many?”
Thus did our Lord prepare the minds of his disciples to appreciate the miracle he was about to perform, and then instructed them to seat the people for the proposed meal. This was a comparatively easy task, because it was a grassy country, we are told, and the people were accustomed to a certain method of arranging themselves in groups of fifties and hundreds for general feasts.
The fact that our Lord Jesus gave thanks for the bread and fish should be an important lesson to all who seek in any degree to be his followers. If it was appropriate that he should render thanks to the heavenly Father for some plain barley bread (the poorest and cheapest sort), and for some dried fish, how appropriate it is that we who by nature are sinners and under condemnation, and only permitted to call God our Father through the reconciliation that is in Christ Jesus—how appropriate that we should lift our hearts and voices in thankfulness to the heavenly Father as the author of every good blessing and gift which we enjoy!
We cannot understand how any Christian dare neglect to render thanks for his daily food, and we thoroughly believe that those who do neglect this propriety are great losers thereby. God, of course, loses nothing, for giving does not impoverish him, neither would withholding make him rich; but the Christian who has learned in everything to give thanks, and to make acknowledgment to the heavenly Father, has learned to appreciate and to enjoy his blessing more than others.
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To such thankful hearts the plainest of food will be more appreciated, more happifying, more satisfying than to others. And it is undoubtedly a fact that a peaceful, thankful, happy mind is not only a blessing of itself, but additionally an aid to digestion and to the obtaining of good benefits from the food which we eat. How many dyspeptics know that it is possible to eat without satisfying, and to have plenty, and yet be unable to derive therefrom comfort and proper nourishment! And perhaps there is no better antidote to dyspepsia than a thankful, grateful heart, which acknowledges divine blessings and seeks to use them, not only with thankfulness, but with contentment, and thus has great gain.
True, God does not resent failures to acknowledge him in all our ways, but continues to cause the sun to shine upon the evil and upon the good, and to send the rain alike upon the just and the unjust, and to permit many of the blessings of this present life to continue with those who make no proper acknowledgment of them. Nevertheless, such cannot hope to grow in divine favor, as they might if in all their ways they acknowledged God and sought to see in all the affairs of life his providential care.
These remarks, however, apply not to the world in general, nor to mere nominal believers, but only to those who have become the Lord’s people by entering into a covenant with him through Christ. As for the world in general, who are not seeking to be the Lord’s people and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, it would seem that their offering of thanks, or prayers of any kind, would be inappropriate, as we read: “But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes; or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing that thou hatest instruction and castest my words behind thee.” (Psalm 50:16,17.) In a word, then, there is just one right way to begin to be the Lord’s followers, and those who do not wish to begin according to the Lord’s direction, in self-consecration, have no right to suppose that outward acts of formalistic piety are acceptable or pleasing to God. We must first become the Lord’s before we can hope that any worship or service from us will be acceptable to him through Jesus.
The faith of the apostles is well demonstrated in the fact that they proceeded to seat the people, according to the Lord’s instructions, and then proceeded to divide to them the, at first, very limited quantity of food. Without faith in the Lord they would undoubtedly have refused to take any part in the proceedings, fearing that it would bring reproach and ridicule upon themselves. The lesson which they learned in this connection no doubt went with them through subsequent years, teaching them that they could do all things by the power of Christ, if laboring under his command. And the same lesson comes forcefully to us all. Neither our duties nor our privileges are wholly measured by our own abilities. A proper faith in the Lord permits us to realize his omnipotent power, and that if he be with us, for instance in the distribution of spiritual food to the hungry, the little of means and ability and opportunity at our disposal may be so blessed as to accomplish marvelous things. Indeed, have we not this very experience to-day in connection with the spread of the harvest message? Out of the little of means and talent, opportunity and ability, what God hath wrought! How many have been fed and are being fed!
The miracle was all the Lord’s, and yet a great blessing came to the apostles, in that they were privileged
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to be co-workers with the Lord. And similarly here, in the dissemination of the harvest message, we recognize that it is all of our Lord, the present Bridegroom, King, Reaper, and yet that he is pleased to use as disseminators of the truth all those who have faith in him and who gladly accept his service. As our Lord could have performed the miracle of feeding the five thousand without the instrumentality of his disciples, so now he could feed the hungry Israelites indeed—who are famished, not for bread and not for water, but for the hearing of the Word of the Lord (Amos 8:11)—without our aid. Let us gratefully thank him for the privilege of being co-workers in any capacity, and let us the more zealously do with our might whatsoever our hands find to do.
Another great lesson taught by this miracle was that of economy; for the apostles who distributed the food were required to gather up for their own future use the suitable fragments which remained, and each one accordingly filled his basket or haversack, which they were accustomed to carry in their journeys. The miracle would have had only half its weight without this closing lesson of economy. The disciples and the multitude might have learned to think of God’s powers in an improper light, and to have expected such provision as would compensate for their carelessness and prodigality. But the gathering of the fragments showed, first of all, the immensity of the miracle, and secondly, it taught the lesson that we are to use the means which God has put into our hands, and not to expect unnecessary miracles.
How many of the Lord’s dear people need to learn this lesson of economy! How many are wasteful of the daily food which the Lord provides! How many would be the more blessed by learning to practice careful economy, not only that they might have in the future, but also that they might in emergency supply to others spiritual or natural food as opportunity afforded! Let all who are disposed to be extravagant and wasteful well consider this lesson from the great Teacher, that nothing is to be wasted, that we have a responsibility in respect to all that God has provided for us, either directly or indirectly, and that after asking divine blessing upon our affairs, and thus signifying our appreciation of them, we are to seek to wisely use them, as we think would be pleasing in his sight, and frugally, economically.
The same lesson might be applied also to our spiritual food. The fact that the Lord has given us bountifully “things new and old” does not mean that we are to treat those blessed truths carelessly, when we have eaten thereof and found satisfaction to our souls; rather, we are to be careful of all the fragments, and are to gather and preserve them for further and future use, esteeming them none the less the Lord’s provision than when first we received them from his hands.
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REVIEW OF THE QUARTER’S STUDIES
“Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”
REVIEWING the studies of the quarter we find that nearly all of them are closely related to our Golden Text.
(1) We had the Beatitudes—the conditions of heart and character essential to our participation in this Kingdom class that God has declared he is selecting from the world, and which by and by he will glorify with the King Emmanuel in his Millennial Kingdom.
(2) We had certain precepts, promises and warnings respecting how this Kingdom class must make development, not in sitting in judgment upon others now, but rather by judging nothing before the time, when they shall be granted the powers of judgment in such glorious measure as will permit their judging to be a blessing to the world, and that thus this Kingdom class must seek the narrow way to glory, honor and immortality.
(3) We had the miracle of the awakening of the daughter of Jairus, an illustration of the great work of the Kingdom when it shall be set up, and when all mankind shall be released from the prison-house of death.
(4) We had the healing of the centurion’s servant, another picture of restitution blessings which are to be general at the time that our Lord’s prayer, in our Golden Text, is realized, and God’s Kingdom shall come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
(5) We saw how the faith of John the Baptist was tested by reason of the fact that the Kingdom work did not come in his day just as he had expected it would, and we saw how carefully our Lord explained to him wherein his expectations had been partly erroneous, and indicated how events as they were in progress were in full accord with the testimony of the prophets. And so we have learned in respect to the establishing of the spiritual Kingdom now, to trust not to our own imaginations, but to go rather to the Word of the Lord, and to see what therein is written, and so doing we are able to note to-day what we would not otherwise be able to discern, how that our Lord’s great plan is grandly progressing in harmony with what was written aforetime.
(6) We saw, in our Lord’s denunciation of Capernaum,
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Chorazin and Bethsaida, how possible it is for some in our day to have great privileges, as those cities had great knowledge, great opportunities of coming into accord with the Lord’s Kingdom, and yet through lack of faith to fail utterly—to fail more miserably as respects pleasing God than did such heathen cities as Sodom and Tyre and Sidon. We saw, nevertheless, that the full number of the elect Church or Kingdom class would be found in God’s due time, and that then will commence the great Judgment Day of the world, in which it will be tolerable for all, under the righteous judgment of the great King, but more tolerable for such as Sodom and Gomorrah than for those who have had the greater privileges and knowledge and misused them.
(7) We found, in the case of Simon and the woman that was a sinner, that some who occupy important positions in the nominal church may be much further from the Kingdom of God as respects their hearts than are some others who have outwardly been living a less correct life, and that some of the latter, reforming, may become more zealous toward the Lord and more acceptable with him, and hence more eligible to the Kingdom.
(8) The parable of the sower showed us the importance of having our hearts in a correct attitude toward God, not full of worldly ambitions and cares, which as “thorns” would choke the very best seed, but freed from these that we should be ready to receive “the good seed of the Kingdom” into our hearts, and to be exercised thereby into seeking first the Kingdom of God.
(9) We saw various parables of the Kingdom, illustrating to us the Church’s present experiences, while waiting for the completion of the elect number and the full inauguration then of the Kingdom glory and power to bless the world. We saw the true Christians represented by the “wheat,” the outgrowth of pure doctrine, the good seed of the Kingdom. We saw false Christians represented by the “tares,” and the false doctrines which produce such, which were sown by the Adversary. We saw the growth of the nominal church represented as being very great, but as resulting in inviting into it the fowl—”every unclean and hateful bird.” We saw that the spiritual food provided for the Lord’s household had been corrupted by the “woman” everywhere predominant throughout the Scriptures, the wine-cup of whose abominations have made drunk all nations.—Rev. 18:2,3.
(10) We have seen that the sending forth of the twelve apostles was with the same message, the same Gospel of the Kingdom, that the Master declared, and that similarly whoever is sent out of the Lord to-day as a servant of the truth has the same message, the Gospel of the Kingdom, under which, when it is established, God’s will shall be done on earth as it is done in heaven.
(11) The lesson of Herodias and her wicked ambition and sinful course, in which Herod shared, taught us that earthly ambitions lead downward and sinward, away from God and into degradation, but that the ambition set before the Church, viz., to be God’s Kingdom, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord, if so be that we suffer with him, is the lawful ambition which leads upward and is elevating in its every influence, and purifying as respects our hearts and lives.
(12) Finally, in the feeding of the multitude, we see illustrated our Lord’s compassion for the people, which compassion during the Millennial Kingdom will have fullest sway, when the bread of life shall be broken to all of the hungry, and when all shall be privileged to share in the blessings which the Lord’s Kingdom will bring, and that then those who have followed him in the present time shall be associated with him in the work of blessing the multitude under the glorious Kingdom conditions.
We may well pray from the heart, in the language of our Golden Text, Lord, “Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
WHEN PERSECUTED, FLEE
Question.—How should we understand and apply Matt. 10:23—”When they persecute you in this city, flee ye to another; for verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Son of Man be come”?
Answer.—These instructions were given primarily to the twelve Apostles, and doubtless were understood by them to mean that their mission was not to stay long in a place, but that as persecution arose, and the people were unwilling to hear their message, they were to go to other cities and villages, full of the conviction that the time for their special testimony of the Kingdom at hand was limited, and that they would not more than have accomplished their proclamation in all the cities of Israel before the Son of Man would be presented as King, and the testing of the nation reach its climax. This climax was reached when, at the end of his three and a half years’ ministry, our Lord rode to them on the ass, as their King, and failing to be received (in harmony with the prophecy) declared their house henceforth left desolate.—Luke 13:35.
But while this was the primary signification of the Lord’s words, we believe that like most of his teachings to Israel after the flesh it had a still larger meaning than was then due to be understood—an application to the parallel closing of this Gospel age. As there was a “harvest” in the end of the Jewish age, in which natural Israel was tested, so in the end of this
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age there is a “harvest” in which spiritual Israel will be tested. And as there was a proclamation of Jesus in the flesh, as King, so there must be correspondingly a proclamation of Jesus, the new creature, as King of Glory. And as in that “harvest” some were sent forth with the harvest message, and it was to reach all the Israelites within the borders of the promised land, so now we understand that in the present harvest the message is going forth, “behold the bridegroom,” and the further announcement to Zion, “Thy God reigneth.” (Matt. 25:6; Isa. 52:7.) This harvest message is also to be understood as limited in time, and the bearers of it are not to dally, but to exercise diligence, realizing that the time is short, and that they shall have time and no more to go over all the cities of spiritual Israel, before the grand consummation shall be reached, and the Son of Man shall have completed the first part of his work, the collection of his saints, the “Jewels,” the “Little Flock,” and thus the Kingdom be set up in power.
OF WHOM AND FOR WHOM DO WE SPEAK?
Question.—When in the WATCH TOWER and DAWNS and Old Theology Tracts we read “we believe,” “our views,” etc., are we to understand that a Church or Society or creed so teaches? If not, how shall we understand such expressions?
Answer.—No; we speak for no party or sect or creed or confession, but merely for ourself,—the Editor. Long ago we adopted the plural pronoun in referring to our personal views as being much more modest than the frequent use of “I said,” “I think,” “I expect,” “I believe,” I find, etc. And this custom is followed in the ablest newspapers and journals of our land.
Of course, incidentally, we voice the sentiments of many of our readers when voicing our own; because they and we recognize the Bible as a divine revelation, the only standard of truth, and endeavor to keep close to its letter and spirit. But “we” will neither bind others to “our” convictions nor permit any to bind “us” to theirs. The only fixed creed we recognize is the simple and fundamental one—that God sent his Son, who died for our sins; and that through faith in this, and obedience to him, to the extent of our ability, we shall be saved. All who so confess are “Christians” and are to be treated as “brethren.” They should be assisted to grow in knowledge and grace, but should be accorded fullest liberty,—”The liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.” Neither directly nor indirectly has anyone a right to make a creed for them nor to otherwise speak for them and then imply their “disloyalty” and “heresy” if they attempt to resent misrepresentations.
WATCH TOWER readers are supposed to be, and urged to be, the Lord’s freemen, and at the same time the Lord’s bond-servants; and to call no man master; because one alone is their Master and Lord—Jesus. This liberty, however, does not hinder them from appreciating one another as “brethren”—
“Whose kind designs to serve and please
Through all their actions run.”
Each is free to love and esteem each other for their work’s sake, and to seek to note how the Master is pleased to use one and another in serving “the body of Christ.” Each free one, loyal to the Lord, is pleased to recognize as special servants of “the body” those whom the Lord specially uses. Those who are not free with the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, are enslaved to decisions of men and to customs and theories, and are not at liberty to follow the leadings of divine providence and the testimonies of the divine Word.
WHEN WILL SATAN BE BOUND?
Question.—In the DAWNS you have intimated that the binding of Satan in the end of this age will be accomplished by the increase of general intelligence,—light, etc. Is this the only sense in which you consider that he will be bound?
Answer.—By no means. The binding of Satan with the great chain, and the putting of him into the abyss mentioned in Rev. 20:1-3, is all figurative; but the figures are all meaningful. To us they signify a complete restraint of Satan and all his powers of evil. The great chain represents restraint. The word abyss, in our common version rendered “bottomless pit,” represents oblivion. The seal upon it represents divine care that none shall interfere with God’s arrangement, but that it shall all be carried out strictly in accordance with the divine prearrangement. Our suggestion respecting the influence of the increased light of the present time is that a preliminary restraint of evil
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results from turning on the light of present truth, which makes the evil the more manifest and the less able to deceive. But this is not all, by any means. The thought is that the great King, who is now about to take full control of the world, has full power to bind, to restrain Satan and every evil power and influence, that nothing may hurt or injure that which is good throughout the Millennial Age, as has been the case during the present age, when the Kingdom of heaven (the Church in its incipient state) suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force, misusing the members of the body of Christ, even as they misused also the Head of the body—our Lord.
Whether Satan and his associates, the fallen angels, will remain associated with this earth we do not know, but it is quite sufficient for us to have the Lord’s assurance that they will no longer be prince and powers of the air, able to misrepresent and deceive mankind, as at present. Some have surmised that Satan and his angels would be deported during the Millennial period, but while there is no Scripture that we are aware of which would settle this point, our view is to the contrary of this. We believe that they will not be deported but remain, powerless to deceive. Our reason for so supposing is two-fold:
(1) This earth has been the scene of their original transgressions and subsequent misdeeds, and it would seem proper that they should witness the marvelous transformation which will ensue after the Prince of Light, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, shall assume the reins of power, and bring blessings to all the families of the earth.
(2) The Scriptures assure us that the work of the glorified Church will not only be to give trial to or “judge the world” of mankind during the Millennial
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age, but that it will include also the judgment or trial of these fallen angels: and if both mankind and the angels are to be judged, during the same period, it would seem entirely reasonable that both should be associated with the earth and its atmosphere.—1 Cor. 6:3; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6.
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FAITHFUL CO-LABORERS HEARD FROM
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I praise God for the new life that has come to our Church here lately. I conclude it is the food in Vol. v. of the DAWN and the helpful articles in the WATCH TOWER as much as the “Volunteer” letters that have awakened us to new energy. The work of our dear brethren is indeed a powerful stimulant and has enlivened me. I enjoy the honor God has bestowed on me in permitting me to lay down my life in service for the brethren in Babylon.
I feel like a full-sized man while standing before a church door handing out the “glad tidings” to my fellow men. It is such an honorable business to be an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone seems polite and nearly always thank us for the books. When occasionally they refuse them, I believe it is because they think we are selling them. The books appear too expensive to give away. They have asked me a number of times who pays for the literature. I simply answer, “The Tract Society.”
How few recognize that the “glad tidings” are like a beautiful air whose accompaniment (full of deep, rich bass solos, baritone minors, bursts of wild, thrilling, harmonic chords and countless thrilling rivulets of counter melody) is the Old Testament. Before Jesus came there was no connected tune in the accompaniment. There were grand sounds of rich chords, occasional weird musical phrases and counter melodies. It took Jesus, the Lamb of God, the spotless friend of mankind to bring to light the charming tune, the entrancing air, by simply making it more prominent than the accompaniment. Imagine us listening to the orchestra of God’s universe, listening to this anthem of the ages! It seems, sometimes, almost frightful in the grandeur and sublimity of its awe-inspiring greatness.
Dear brother, I appreciate your unselfish devotion in laying down your life for us—for me. I was ignorant of God in almost everything until, through the DAWNS, you divided the word of truth in its proper dispensations, massing Scripture on the various points of importance, until I saw a plan threading its way through the Bible. My life is new now, it has been changed; the love for God’s business has weaned my heart away from the fleeting phantoms of the world—its pleasures. How small they now look beside the radiant beauty of pureness and truth!
To realize day by day that our trials of patience, love, our humility and all the graces of the spirit, is a discipline or training that God is imposing on us in order that we may be transformed in heart into the likeness and character of our blessed Redeemer, is what gives me peace and contentment with such things as I have, and it also makes the trials easier to “endure.” “Blessed is that man who endures temptations.” I used to wonder why you “harped” (Rev. 14:2) on these things year after year. Now I know why;—that when my ears got open enough to hear the instruction, I could profit by it.
Dear brother, I have learned valuable lessons from your mode of work and I want you to know how thoroughly I am in sympathy with all you do. You have helped me out of darkness, and it makes me all the more appreciative of your work because I know you do it, not for the reward of praise from us, but from your faithfulness and love of our Redeemer and God. I rejoice to know there are true hearts on the earth, that God has transformed human minds. Praise his holy name! Yours in loving service,
F. A. HALL,—Indiana.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Words would fail to express how thankful I feel to our dear Lord for sending me the message of “present truth” and revealing unto me the great reward that awaits those who earnestly seek both to know and to do his will.
It is now about 3-1/2 years since I began to study MILLENNIAL DAWN and to me these few years have been of more real importance than all the other 22 years of my life put together. When I look back and see how the Lord has been leading me, and how often he has delivered me from the snares of the adversary, I cannot help feeling glad. At first Satan tried to ensnare me by telling me that the sacrifice was too great—more than I ever could hope to fulfil, but after counting the cost I resolved to trust our Master for it all, and he has not disappointed me. Praise his name!
Our meetings here for the last 12 months have been very helpful to the study of the Word, and all testify to receiving great blessings from them, except a few who went out from us when the truth began to get strong. We have also had occasional visits from Bro. Hemery and Bro. Houston, which have been highly appreciated. I have been thinking of trying to colporteur DAWN here when the mild weather begins. I tried it for a month some time ago and met with a measure of success. It seems to be a little in my line; I am entirely free from worldly cares, and have a fair business experience, being in the grocery trade here. Bro. Anderson and I had thought of trying it together. With much love to all the saints in Allegheny, I remain, Yours in our Master’s service,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I must write you my thanks and gratitude for many things. The TOWERS are always full of good things for the children of the “household.” For several weeks past I have been in doubt over an important point, and several times was ready to write you for instructions, but when last TOWER came in there it all was, just as if you had written for my special case. Surely God’s blessing is with you and on us through you as his agent. My way has not always been clear and I sometimes find it hard to determine the right course, but it is my prayer that I may meet such chastisements as will keep me in the straight path. The last TOWER hit me quite hard, but I very much appreciated it for it served to show me my way.
I revert with special pleasure to our meeting at De Funiak.
Very sincerely your friend,