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VOL. XXII. MAY 1, 1901. No. 9.
“Lovest Thou Me more than These?”……………147
Disinterested Love Illustrated…………149
Peter Wisely and Gently Reproved…………150
“If I Will, that He Tarry till I Come”……151
The Church’s Great Commission………………151
Discipling the World……………………153
Interesting Queries Answered………………156
Is Faith the Gift of God?…………………156
Who Were Those Saints?………………………156
Memorial Celebration Reports………………157
Items: One Day Conventions…………………146
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LETTERS FOR THE EDITOR SHOULD BE SENT TO ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
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Those of the interested who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually.
ENTERED AS SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER AT ALLEGHENY, PA., POST OFFICE.
YES! THE OFFER of four six-months WATCH TOWER subscriptions for $1.00 is still open. When you thus send to your friends, write them in explanation and commendation.
WE HAVE the “Marked New Testament” in good supply again. Two copies for 25 cents, post paid.
SILENT SERMONS TO VISITORS
Notice the statement above—”To Us the Scriptures Clearly Teach.” We have this printed on fine card board, rounded corners, size 11 x 14 inches, with silk cord. This should hang prominently in all of your homes. We have also imported a new silver text card with motto for 1901, and one of another style. We propose supplying the three securely packed in a tube, postpaid for 15 cents.
ONE DAY CONVENTIONS
ON SUNDAY, APRIL 28, the Editor (D.V.) will address the friends at Indianapolis, Ind., at 10:30 A.M. and at 3 P.M., at Mansur Hall, N.E. corner of Alabama and Washington streets. Social meetings will precede the above addresses, and an evening program will be announced. We will make a day of it! Refreshments can be secured nearby the hall. A Cincinnati cheap excursion for the day is advertised.
ON SUNDAY, MAY 12, the Editor (D.V.) will address the friends at Altoona, Pa., at 3 P.M., at Opera House and at 7:30 P.M., as may then be announced.
These are merely local conventions, and friends from great distances are not expected, tho all coming in the name and spirit of our Lord will be heartily welcomed.
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“LOVEST THOU ME MORE THAN THESE?”
—JOHN 21:15-22.—MAY 5.—
WE NOW come to our Lord’s fifth manifestation of himself after his resurrection—some would say the seventh, not counting, as we do, that our Lord’s manifestation to Mary was the same referred to in Matthew as his appearance to “the women,” and that his showing himself to Peter was in the walk to Emmaus. All of these manifestations, whether we count them four or six, occurred within the first eight days after our Lord’s resurrection—on the two first-days or Sundays, and were in or near Jerusalem. What we designate the fifth appearance was in another part of the country altogether—in Galilee—and was probably at least two weeks later. No account is given of the doings of the apostles in the interim, but we can surmise them. They probably waited in expectation at Jerusalem over the third and possibly over the fourth Sunday after the resurrection, and were disappointed that our Lord made no further manifestation. They then remembered, perhaps, the message which Jesus had sent by Mary, that he would meet them in Galilee.
Having no business further at Jerusalem, and their Master and leader having thus disappeared, “changed,” so that altho they believed him to be no longer dead he was invisible to them except as he would appear for a few moments talking to them, and again disappear indefinitely, they were at a loss what to do, and decided to return to their home country on the Sea of Galilee. More than this, as active men in the prime of life, they must be doing. Several of them had been fishermen, and Jesus had called them from their nets to be “fishers of men,” and they had left all to follow him; but now they could no longer follow him. Everything was changed when he was changed, so far as they could see. They could not carry on the work longer, for what could they preach? How could they tell others of their hopes in a King who had been crucified, and whom they, altho he was risen, could no longer see nor point out to others? They had not yet received their new commission; nor were they quite ready for it.
It is not surprising that under these circumstances seven of them with one consent, under the lead of Peter, determined to reengage in the fishing business. This was the one business in which they had experience, and that only three years before. They fished with nets, and the habit seems to have been to do the fishing at night. This was the very occasion Jesus was waiting for. He wished the disciples to reach the extremity of thinking and reasoning on the matter of his resurrection, and what they should now do, in order that they might be prepared to receive definitely and profitably the instructions he had to give respecting their future course. The reactionary tendency to turn from preaching to the fishing business would be sure to come; and he considered it expedient that it should come while he was with them, that they might be profited to the utmost in respect to it. Now that they had reembarked in the fishing business the time had come for our Lord to demonstrate to them two things: (1) That he had a mission for them to perform in connection with the fishing for men which they had not yet accomplished, and which his death and resurrection would not interfere with, but rather stimulate and make really effective. (2) It would enable him to demonstrate in a most practical manner that the divine power by which he had hitherto provided for their necessities, and had at times fed multitudes, was still his, and would be continually exercised in their interest if they would continue to obey him.
It is interesting for us to note thus that while our Lord was invisible to the disciples they were visible to
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him, and all of their plans, arrangements and doings were fully known to him; and he was ready to take advantage of every circumstance and to make all things work together for their good. Thus, by miraculous power exercised in some manner unknown to us, he hindered fish from going into their nets that night. They, not knowing the true situation, were no doubt greatly disappointed, grieved, vexed, at their poor success, and perhaps classed it as a part of failure and tribulation which had in some respects followed them ever since they had espoused the cause of Jesus. And there is a lesson here for each and all of the Lord’s people today: We know not what is for our highest welfare. Sometimes those things which we crave and desire to grasp, considering them to be good, might really be to our disadvantage. Blessed are they who are able by faith to pierce the gloom of every trial and difficulty and perplexity, and to realize that “The Lord knoweth them that are his,” and that he is causing all things to work together for their good. So it was with the apostles: their disappointment became a channel of blessed instruction.
In the dawn of the morning Jesus appeared to them as a man, standing on the seashore. He called out to them to inquire if they had any fish, as tho he would purchase. They replied that they had toiled all night and caught nothing. The stranger then suggested that they cast the net on the other side of the ship, and so humbled were they by their disappointment that they did not stop to argue the question and to declare that they were old experienced fishermen, and that they did not know if he had any experience whatever; they merely concluded that as they had been lifting and casting the net all night they might just as well do it again, and thus demonstrate to the stranger that there were no fish in that vicinity. But behold! immediately the net filled with great fish, so that these seven strong men (Peter, Thomas, James, John, Nathanael, and two others whose names are not given) were unable to draw it, and were obliged to drag it ashore.
Immediately the disciples grasped the thought that the stranger on the shore was Jesus, and none of them more quickly than loving John. The devoted and impulsive Peter whose heart still burned as he remembered the Lord’s words, and perhaps as he remembered also his own weaknesses in connection with our Lord’s last night of earth-life, could not wait for the boat to take him to the shore, but swam,—apparently fearing lest the Master should disappear again before he would have another opportunity to see and converse with him. When the disciples got to shore with their netful of fish they found, not only Jesus, but a fire and fish thereon already cooked. Here they had the lesson that under the Lord’s care and supervision they could either be successful or unsuccessful in the fish business, and that he had the power, not only to give them fish in the ordinary way, but to provide cooked fish by miraculous power if it better served his purpose so to do.
They breakfasted with Jesus, for they knew him—not by any marks of nails, but by the miracle which he had performed. We read rather peculiarly, “None of them durst ask him, knowing it was the Lord;” they were so sure that it was he that they could not think of even seeming to question the fact by inquiry. The conversation while they breakfasted is not recorded, the Evangelist coming directly to the important words by our Lord addressed to Peter, the senior and leader of this new fish-business partnership. He addressed Peter, not as he had been accustomed, by his new name, Peter, but by his old name, Simon, possibly as an intimation to Peter that he had not manifested in the last few days the rock-like qualities implied in his surname, and was now inclined to leave the work for the Church for secular business. And the inquiry was most pointed, “Lovest thou me more than these?”—boats, nets, fishing tackle, etc.? You started out to be my disciple, and now I ask the question, In which place is your heart—with me in the service of the Kingdom, or in the fish business? Peter’s answer was prompt, “Lord, thou knowest that
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I love thee.” Jesus responded then, “Feed my lambs”—my little ones—instead of longer following the fish business. Then Jesus said the second time the same thing, and Peter made the same reply, and then our Lord answered, “Take care of my sheep”—give your thought, attention, care, to them, rather than to these fishing implements, boats, etc. Jesus asked him the third time the same question. Peter was grieved with this: it seemed to imply doubt on the Lord’s part, and perhaps the third time reminded him that he had denied the Lord three times, and that now the Lord was requiring him three times to confess his love for him. It touched a very tender spot in Peter’s heart and experiences, and we may be sure that it was not done by our Lord, even in this delicate manner, with a view merely to pain Peter, but with a view to his blessing, his profit. Peter’s confession this time was still stronger: “Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
It is worthy of notice that our Lord’s words on these three occasions were not exactly the same altho the Common Version so represents them. In the New Testament Greek two words are used for “love,” agapee and phileo. When our Lord said “lovest” in the first two inquiries, he used the former word, agapas, which signifies kind love in its strongest, purest and most disinterested
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form; but in his third inquiry our Lord used the other form, phileis, which signifies attachment, duty-love, the obligatory love such as relatives bear toward each other, even when the other, deeper, love is lacking. Peter in all of his answers uses the latter form of the word, thus asseverating his personal attachment and devotion to the Lord, but, in view of recent experiences, he refrained from claiming the highest love for which our Lord inquired. This humility was an excellent sign, as showing that Peter had learned a needed lesson and had ceased to boast, but rather to fear his own weakness. Our Lord’s use the third time of the word indicating duty-love grieved Peter specially because by changing the word he implied—Are you sure that you have even the duty-love, Peter? This discrimination as between these two words is borne out by other uses of the same in the New Testament.
DUTY-LOVE (PHILEO) ILLUSTRATED
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.—Matt. 10:37.
Duty-love to our family relatives is right, but it must not equal our duty-love toward the Lord, else we can never follow him as “overcomers.”
“He that loveth his life shall lose it.”—John 12:25.
It is our duty to love life, in the sense of appreciating it and being unwilling to destroy it or waste it foolishly; but he who has become Christ’s disciple and who is pledged to walk in his footsteps even unto death is to remember that he has already surrendered his life as a man, exchanging it for the hope of life as a “new creature,” a spiritual being. He is no longer to be controlled by phileo or duty-love toward earthly life, but, moved by agapee love, he is to willingly lay down his natural life in the service of God—”for the brethren.”
“For the Father himself loveth you, BECAUSE ye have loved me.”—John 16:27.
In both of these cases phileo signifies duty-love. This was the highest form of love the disciples as a whole could as yet appreciate, as Peter testified. And the Father’s love for them was the same duty-love: the disciples had not yet received the holy spirit and its agapee or higher disinterested love and its character, and hence the Father could not love them for themselves but exercised a duty-love toward them merely because they had attained a duty-love toward Christ and had become his friends and disciples.
“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own.”—John 15:19.
Phileo or duty-love is exercised by the worldly parent and child and neighbor on the selfish basis—”his own.”
“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be Anathema Maranatha [—he shall be accursed or condemned to the Second Death when the Lord comes].”—1 Cor. 16:22.
An appreciation of the work of Christ will be expected of all when brought to a knowledge of the salvation which God has provided in him: and whoever refuses to respond in phileo or duty-love will be cut off from life early in the Millennial reign. But those who exercise the phileo or duty-love will be expected to press forward and to attain the “mark” of agapee love, true, disinterested character love,—if they would attain life everlasting. Thank God that the present life does not close the door of opportunity to any that have never known phileo or duty-love, nor to many who have known this, but have not yet attained agapee.
“Love of money,” “lovers of their own selves,” “loveth to have preeminence,” “lovers of pleasure,” “lover of hospitality,” and friend, are from phileo, duty-love or a love which has a cause or demand upon it. Peter exhorts that we add to brotherly kindness (phileo) the next and higher grade of disinterested love—agapee.—2 Pet. 1:7.
DISINTERESTED LOVE (AGAPEE) ILLUSTRATED
“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”—John 3:16.
The love prompting man’s redemption was not phileo or duty-love, for God had not wronged his creature in the sentence of death; nor had man ever done anything for his Creator which could put the latter under obligation or duty-love in return. God’s love prompting to our redemption was agapee, or disinterested charity, benevolence, love.
“God commandeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly.”—Rom. 5:8.
This love (agapee) which God exemplified is the kind he sets before us as the highest standard or “mark” toward which we must run if we would gain the prize;—a mark which is impossible to our fallen flesh, but which is attainable by our renewed minds, wills, hearts. This standard is expressed in the words:—
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy soul, mind, strength; and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”—Luke 10:27; Rom. 3:9.
“The end of the commandment is love.”—1 Tim. 1:5.
That is to say, the object of all instruction and discipline on God’s part is to bring us to this character likeness to himself represented in this word agapee—love; for “God is love [agapee], and he that dwelleth in love [agapee] dwelleth in God and God in him.”—1 John 4:16.
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We are to recognize as “brethren” those who have only the phileo degree of duty-love, as Paul did when he wrote, “Greet [for me] all that love [phileo] us in the faith” (Titus 3:15); but we are to see to it that we “love the brotherhood” (1 Pet. 2:17) with agapee or higher love, which counts not present life precious and to be saved, but gladly lays down life for the brethren—in daily and hourly sacrifices of time and money and all earthly interests on their behalf.—1 John 3:16.
Peter contrasts the two loves in one verse, saying, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the spirit unto [the extent of] unfeigned love [phileo] of the brethren, see that ye [go on to] love [agapee] one another with a pure heart, fervently.”—1 Pet. 1:22.
“Love [agapee] worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love [agapee] is the fulfilling of the Law.”—Rom. 13:10.
It is agapee that is mistranslated “charity” in 1 Cor. 8:1—”Knowledge puffeth up, but agapee buildeth up.”
It is agapee that is misrendered “charity” in the Apostle’s great discourse on love in 1 Cor. 13:1,2,3,4,8,13; 14:1. Here he styles agapee love the principal thing of Christian character, the crown of all Christian graces, telling us that without it all sacrifices and self-denials would be valueless in God’s esteem, while with it as the inspiring motive our feeblest efforts are acceptable through Christ.
PETER WISELY AND GENTLY REPROVED
So far as the record shows these questions respecting his present love were the only reproof our Lord gave Peter on account of his temporary deflection and denial of his cause; and here we have a lesson which many of the Lord’s people will do well to lay closely to heart. Many feel as tho they must exact from a brother or a sister a very decided apology for any act of discourtesy, even tho much less important than Peter’s misdeed. Let us learn well this lesson of reproving others very gently, very considerately, kindly, by a hint rather than by a direct charge and detail of the wrong—by an enquiry respecting the present condition of their hearts, rather than respecting a former condition, in which we know that they have erred. We are to be less careful for the punishments that will follow wrongdoings than for the recovery of the erring one out of the error of his way. We are not to attempt to judge and to punish one another for misdeeds, but rather to remember that all this is in the hands of the Lord;—we are not in any sense of the word to avenge ourselves or to give a chastisement or recompense for evil. This is not to be understood as annulling parental obligation to judging and chastening children; tho the principle of love is to have full control there also, to the extent of our judgment. We are to have kindness, love and benevolence toward all, especially toward those who are followers of Jesus. As for Peter and his denial of the Lord, and as
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to the offences which may come to us through brethren, we may know that under divine providence some corrective penalty or discipline, direct or indirect, always follows; but we are not to attempt to inflict those penalties, nor to impress a condemnation, upon those who are in error and who realize their error, but rather to sympathize with them wisely, by helping them to learn the good lessons.
On the other hand, however, we would all have considered it a noble act on Peter’s part had he fallen at our Lord’s feet at his first opportunity and entreated his forgiveness for the weaknesses of the past. We would have loved and honored him the more for so hearty a manifestation of his repentance: indeed, altho the account does not so state, he may have done this. And brethren who at any time trespass upon the rights, interests or feelings of others, however unintentionally, should be prompt and hearty in their apologies; even tho brethren filled with agapee would not demand this as a condition of fellowship.
In replying to Peter our Lord uses three different Greek words in his three different exhortations: the first time he exhorts him to feed the lambs; the second time to care for or tend the sheep; the third time to feed the weak or delicate sheep. This gives us three views of the Lord’s flock. There are the young, the beginners, the lambs, the babes in Christ, undeveloped in Christian character, and who need special feeding with the truth,—”the milk of the Word.” Secondly, there are the more matured sheep of the Lord’s flock, of riper knowledge and character, who have learned to attend to their own feeding upon the precious truth, but who, nevertheless, need tending or guidance, direction, oversight. Thirdly, there are the weak sheep, who for the time ought to be strong, ought to be able to feed themselves upon the bounties which the Lord has graciously provided in his Word, but who, through weaknesses of the flesh, or besetments, or bad provender, or some reason, have not made progress, and are therefore weak in the faith. These are to be fed, cared for. And all of these matters are parts of a bishop’s or overseer’s duty in the Lord’s flock.
While the Lord’s words were addressed specially to Peter, as the leader of the group, undoubtedly the instructions were meant also for all of the “eleven,” for the apostles were all bishops, all caretakers of the Lord’s flock. And the same message is applicable, tho not in the same degree, to all ministers of the truth today; whoever, by the grace of God, is placed in a position of opportunity to feed the Lord’s flock should
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consider it one of the highest privileges of life, and should gladly lay aside every weight and hindrance, that he might thoroughly enjoy and perform this service. Thus the Apostle said to the elders at Ephesus, “Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the holy spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God.”—Acts 20:28.
These three classes of the Lord’s flock are to be found today: the young, the advanced and strong, and the weak and delicate, who need special assistance. Of this latter class many today are in Babylon, and need the helping hand which the Lord’s people are able to extend to them—they are weak, impoverished through lack of nourishment, through a famine, not of bread nor of water, but for hearing of the word of the Lord. (Amos 8:11.) They have been hearing the words of human theory and “tradition of the elders” for a long time, and have been starving upon its inconsistencies; and so, wherever found, they are hungering and thirsting for the truth, and need that Peter and all of the Lord’s followers shall do with their might what they are able to do to deliver such from the chains of error and darkness by which they are held—to liberate them and bring them in contact with the spiritual food which the heavenly Father is now so abundantly supplying.
In view of Peter’s prompt and unhesitating answers respecting his filial or duty-love, the Lord gave a prophecy indicating that he would indeed be faithful to the last; and implying that he would be a martyr by crucifixion, his hands being extended. And tradition tells us that Peter was faithful even unto death, and that being ordered to be put to death by crucifixion by Nero, at his own request he was executed head downward, as being unworthy, according to his own statement, to be crucified as was his Lord.
Our Lord’s words, “Follow me,” referred not merely to a spiritual following, but he walked along the shore of the sea, the disciples following. Peter having heard the Lord’s prophetic declaration respecting himself, seeing John near, inquired respecting his future—What will he do? What will happen to him? Will he be faithful unto death, and will he also be a martyr? Our Lord’s refusal to answer may be considered rather in the light of a reproof to Peter and a lesson to us all. We are not to question divine providence, but rather to submit ourselves thereto. It seems to be a trait of human nature to think of companionship even in trouble, persecution, etc., and many, like Peter, have wondered why they should have trials and difficulties different from those which came upon some others of the Lord’s flock. The Master’s answer to Peter is his answer to all such: “What is that to thee? Follow thou me.” Each of us should learn the lesson of reliance upon the Lord’s wisdom in all of our affairs, whether he has particularly indicated them or left them still obscure. We may know of his love and wisdom and power, and may trust him where we cannot trace him, and be contented whatever lot we see, since we know it is his hand that it is leading.
“IF I WILL THAT HE TARRY TILL I COME.”
These our Lord’s words respecting John, seem to have raised the suggestion in the minds of the disciples that John would not die—that while the others would die he would remain alive until the second coming of Christ. But John himself tells us that Jesus said nothing of this kind; it was purely an inference on the part of the disciples. We may see in John a figure of some of the Church living in the end of the Gospel age—unto the second presence of the Lord. John is not alive, but a class whom he represented has continued and still remains and will then be “changed,” etc. Let us who are privileged to remain to this time of favor and blessing and enlightenment give glory to the Lord, and see to it that the loving disposition of John is manifested in us, and also his energy, his zeal; for while he is called the loving disciple we are to remember also that he was, because of his impetuous zeal, styled, with his brother, Boanerges—sons of thunder. Let us be full of energy, full of sacrifices which love prompts, that we may glorify our Lord in our bodies and spirits which are his. To this end it will be well that we remember the Lord’s words, which applied to the entire seven as well as to Peter, tho he was spokesman for the entire number: “Lovest thou me more than these?” The same question arises with all of the Lord’s people today. It is necessary that we have more or less contact with the world, with business, with home duties, with social amenities, etc., and the question is, How shall we discharge our duties, balancing them with our duties toward the Lord, as “new creatures,” his “royal priesthood”? Shall the Lord see that we love the earthly things better than him? If so, he declares that we are not worthy of him, and he will not recognize us as members of his Bride. He will have in that select little flock only such as love him supremely—more than they love houses or lands, husbands or wives, or children, or any earthly thing.—Matt. 10:37.
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THE CHURCH’S GREAT COMMISSION
—MATT. 28:16-28.—MAY 12.—
“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world [age].”
OUR Lord’s next manifestation to his disciples was near the close of the forty days of his invisible presence after his resurrection. It was, according to our reckoning, the sixth occasion of the kind, and much more marked in some respects than previous ones, for, in common with others, we believe that at this time our Lord manifested himself not only to the eleven apostles mentioned in our lesson, but also to the whole multitude of believers whom the Apostle Paul mentions as being “over five hundred brethren.” (1 Cor. 15:6.) This meeting, we are informed, was by special appointment of time and place; hence there was an opportunity for all the deeply interested ones to be gathered together. Dr. Bordman suggests some of those composing
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this number to have been “the eleven apostles; the seventy evangelists; Mary of Nazareth; Mary of Magdala; Mary of Bethany; Mary the wife of Cleophas; Mary the mother of John Mark; Martha, and Joanna and Susanna, and the woman of Jacob’s Well; Peter’s wife’s mother and the impotent man of Bethsaida; the centurion of Capernaum and the widow of Nain; the penitent woman of Simon’s feast and the woman healed on the way; Jairus and his daughter and Bartimeus; the Syro-Phoenician woman, and the deaf mute of Decapolis; the grateful leper of Samaria and the woman bound with the spirit of infirmity; Zacchaeus and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead; and the blind and deaf and mute and halt and palsied and lunatic whom he had healed; and Joseph and Nicodemus.” We would certainly expect these to be amongst our Lord’s friends who had great confidence in him, and who, after experiencing great disappointment respecting his death would have great hopes enkindled in their hearts through the reports of the apostles of his resurrection and his manifestations to them.
Wise was the plan which gave to his followers the “infallible proofs” of his resurrection, and the instructions necessary to appreciation of the same, in so gradual a manner as we have seen. Three manifestations on the day of our Lord’s resurrection; one a week later, on the eighth day; the fifth probably two weeks later on the 22nd day after his resurrection, and now the sixth manifestation, probably ten days after that, about the thirty-second day. Thus gradually the two lessons necessary were taught: (1), the fact of our Lord’s resurrection, that he was no longer dead but alive; and (2) that he was “changed,” that he was no longer “the man Christ Jesus,” but that he was now “a quickening spirit,” manifesting the powers and attributes which they knew belonged to spirit beings—invisibility and power to appear in various forms as a man—power to come and go as the wind, none knowing whence he came or whither he went.—John 3:8.
We note the wisdom manifested in the order of the appearances also: first to Mary, who seems to have been a woman full of faith as well as full of zeal, and one whose word would have influence with the apostles; next Peter, a leader amongst them, was convinced; then the remainder of the eleven, except Thomas, who doubted; then the eleven, Thomas included, and perhaps some of the women with them, not mentioned; then what would seem to them the long interim of non-appearance, in which some of them started back again to the fishing business; then the convincing of these that the risen Lord had all the power that he ever possessed, and was as able to be with them and to guide them and to provide for their necessities as when he was a man, and with them daily in the flesh; then the instruction of them that their mission should still be to feed his sheep and his lambs; and his appointment for this general meeting, which would be rendered doubly forceful by reason of its previous appointment.
The time had come; the friends of Jesus were gathered; for nearly five weeks they had been studying the great lessons of divine providence connected with the death and resurrection of the Lord, and how all these could happen to him and he still be the promised Messiah—yea, as he explained, how all these things were necessary to him in order that he might be the Messiah and accomplish all the great and wonderful work predicted in Holy Writ—how he must first suffer to redeem mankind, before, as the King of Glory, he should be fully authorized and empowered to bless them with eternal life and all the privileges and blessings proper to the redeemed and reconciled.
When they saw him they worshiped him, “but some doubted.” The ones who doubted we cannot reasonably suppose to have been any of the eleven apostles, for they were fully satisfied, thoroughly convinced, and had so expressed themselves previously. Those who doubted must, we think, have been of the “five hundred brethren” present at this appointed meeting, who had had no previous intercourse with him since his resurrection, and some of whom, we may reasonably suppose, were much weaker in the faith than the apostles and the special friends already communed with. The statement that “some doubted” is an evidence of the candor of the Evangelist’s record. It shows us, too, that the Lord’s followers were not over credulous, but rather disposed to sift and weigh the evidences presented, and the subsequent zeal, energy and self-sacrificing spirit of those who believed gives us abundant evidence of the sincerity of their convictions respecting our Lord’s resurrection, which they as well as we recognize to be the very keystone of our faith in him. If Christ be not risen our faith is vain and we are yet in our sins.—1 Cor. 15:17.
When our Lord appeared his message was the very one they needed to have impressed, and which he had been to some extent impressing at his previous appearances. It was that all power in heaven and in earth had been given unto him. We are not to understand by this that the Father had abdicated or surrendered any of his own power or authority, but rather are to remember that, as the Apostle Paul elsewhere states, in any such declaration the Father is always excepted. (1 Cor. 15:27.) Nor are we to understand that our Lord meant that power and authority were given him to set aside or overrule or violate any feature of the
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divine law and plan. We are rather to understand his words to mean this: I came into the world to do the Father’s will, and by manifesting my obedience to that will, and fulfilling its demands, to not only redeem mankind from the sentence of death through Adam, but also to secure to myself the title and authority promised of the Father to belong to the Messiah. From the time I made my consecration I was reckoned to be the Messiah, but my Messiahship depended upon my faithfulness even unto death—even the death of the cross. I was faithful in this, and as a reward the Father has raised me up from the dead, a partaker of the divine nature, and the heir of all the gracious promises and blessings before mentioned as pertaining to Messiah. All this Messianic power and authority that was once mine reckonedly or prospectively is now mine actually; for I have finished the work which the Father gave me to do, and that acceptably; and its acceptance has been manifested in my resurrection to my present condition of spiritual glory and power.—Acts 17:31.
“Therefore go ye, disciple all nations.” Their commission to go and spread him as Messiah was based on the fact that the Father had accepted his work, finished at Calvary, and had recognized him with full authority as Messiah, by his resurrection from the dead: therefore we may preach Jesus, the power of God and the channel of all his promised mercies and blessings to all who have “an ear to hear,” to all nations, and not, as previously, to the Jewish nation only.
Following the assurance of his authority as the Messiah, our Lord, addressing especially the eleven apostles, but indirectly, with and through them, addressing all his followers, gave them and us the great commission under which we, his people, have since been operating. It might be termed the ordination of his apostles and all his followers as preachers, ambassadors, members of the royal priesthood, speaking and teaching in the name of the Master, the fully empowered Messiah. The commission divides itself into three parts: (1) “Make disciples of all nations;” (2) “baptizing them;” (3) “teaching them.” The word teach, in the Common Version (vs. 19) is not from the same Greek word rendered “teach” in vs. 20. The word in vs. 19 signifies proselytizing or making disciples of. The word “teach” in vs. 20 signifies instruct.
A wrong thought is derived from this text by many students of the Scriptures, when they consider it to mean, Go and convert all nations. This is not the thought, but rather, Go ye and gather converts from all nations, and baptize them and teach them, etc. This view is in accord with our Master’s declaration on other occasions, in which he testified that they would not be converted at his second coming, but quite the reverse: “When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” This interpretation is in harmony with our Lord’s statement in Matt. 24:14, “This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all the nations; and then shall the end come.” Whoever gets the wrong thought respecting the commission is apt to take the wrong action in his endeavor to comply with it. Those who have concluded that the Lord intended the conversion of the world are led to various subterfuges, both in mind and in conduct, in order to attempt to carry out the commission they misunderstand. This is leading some at the present time to ignore the Scriptural definition of the terms of membership in Christ’s Kingdom—to lower the standard both of faith and of conduct, in order to admit a larger proportion of the human family and in order to, if possible, convince themselves and others that the world is growing better and being converted. Some have not only concluded that the preaching of the cross of Christ and faith in the redemption is unnecessary but have even gone further than this, and have claimed that even a historical knowledge of Christ is unnecessary, and that heathen religions are to be esteemed as part of the preaching of the Gospel, and that the heathen obedience to their religious customs is to be esteemed as obedience to the Gospel. Thus more or less false views of the commission are leading astray many who see no hope in any other way of ever attaining to that which our Lord commissioned nearly nineteen centuries ago, and which otherwise they would feel has thus far failed most miserably, and has no hope of ever being accomplished.
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On the other hand we hold that the commission rightly read and understood has been fulfilled; that the message of Christ and the Kingdom has been proclaimed, directly or indirectly, with more or with less force and energy, in every nation under heaven, and that as a result some from every nation have been made disciples; and that incidentally a “witness” has been given to all the peoples of the earth respecting the redemption and the divine provision for salvation through the Redeemer. Of these disciples gathered out of all nations by the message of the Lord a “little flock” will be found to whom it will be the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom, in joint-heirship with Jesus in glory as the Seed of Abraham, through whom, in the Millennial age to follow this, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. From this standpoint only can our Lord’s commission be properly appreciated and its fulfilment recognized.
DISCIPLING THE WORLD
The work of the Evangelist comes first—Go, make disciples of as many as will hear your message. The word “disciple” signifies pupil,
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and those interested through the evangelist are only supposed to be pupils in the school of Christ, in the primary department. As they become instructed in righteousness their full consecration is in order, as represented in baptism—death to self and to the world—buried with Christ by baptism into his death. (Rom. 6:3-5.) Then comes the third step, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever Christ commanded. Any neglect of this commission and its order of procedure means comparative failure; and yet on every hand we see that its specific features are neglected. We find the majority of professed Christians giving the baptism first, in a wrong order as well as of a wrong kind. Secondly, they disciple them into sectarian denominations and make them members of these, and get them to consecrate their money and energies to these rather than to the Lord. Thirdly, having thus gotten them into sectarian bondage they neglect them, and go out after others, failing entirely to give them the “teaching” which the Lord indicates is necessary as a preparation for joint-heirship in his Kingdom—teaching respecting the divine character and plan, and the graces of the holy spirit and the necessity for rooting out the spirit of worldliness and selfishness, and developing the spirit of the Lord,—meekness, gentleness, patience, brotherly kindness, love.
To follow the Lord’s instruction the Royal Priesthood should first, when discipling, inform those who have ears to hear that they are sinners through the fall;—imperfect in thought, in word and in act; and consequently unacceptable to God and under sentence of death, extinction; but that God has made a provision for their rescue, and their return to harmony with him and to life everlasting: that Christ Jesus, in harmony with the Father’s plan, paid the penalty of Adamic sin and condemnation, and thus purchased the whole race of Adam, and proposes to set at liberty all who obey him. That now he is offering release by faith to as many as have the hearing ear—”even as many as the Lord your God shall call,” and that such as hear and accept the call may reckon themselves as “justified by faith,” as having their sins covered, and as being thus reconciled to the Father through faith in Christ; and that now, if they become followers or disciples of Christ they may become joint-sacrificers with him, and by and by be made joint-heirs in his Kingdom, and its great work of blessing the world.
So many as are interested in the message will inquire the way by which they can attain this, and the answer must be that the full acceptance of discipleship must be indicated by a full consecration, heart, mind and body, to the Lord—even unto death; and that this submission of the will to the Lord is counted as a baptism, a burial, an immersion with him into death; and that as soon as they have performed this real baptism or immersion of the will they should submit themselves to an outward immersion in water, which would symbolize this, portraying their death and burial to self, to sin and to the world, and their resurrection to newness of life and conduct as members of the body of Christ.
They are to be urged to take this step of consecration unto death, not in their own strength or name, nor in the name of their instructor; but are to be pointed to the fact that this course is authorized by the Father, by the Son and by the Holy Spirit. It is thus to be done “in the name of” or by the authority of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and not in the name of a sect or denomination or any human teacher. It is a mistake on the part of some to consider this text to mean that converts are to be baptized into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On the contrary the Apostle distinctly declares, that we are baptized into Christ as members of his body.—Rom. 6:3-5.*
*See our issue of June 15, 1893, “Baptism and Its Import,” a sample copy of which will be loaned free upon request with promise to return it.
Those who go thus far, who respond to the preaching of the Gospel, and inquire concerning the way, the truth and the life, and who, with true repentance from sin and contrition of heart, desire to become disciples of Christ, and who then take this step of consecration, are baptized thereby into the Church, “the body of Christ”—not the Baptist Church nor any other human institution, but the one true Church, the Church of the living God, whose names are written in heaven. (Heb. 12:23.) They need not that their names should be written in any earthly roll or register. The names of such, we are told, are written in the Lamb’s book of life, and if they are faithful to their covenant he will not blot out their names, he assures us. The seal of their acceptance is the holy spirit, whose leadings and instructions and marks of character become more and more discernible to them and to others daily, as they thereafter seek to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
But still they will need instruction: in fact, all that has gone before in their Christian experience has merely prepared them to receive instruction; and when they have reached the condition of justification by faith, and then of sanctification (consecration to the Lord, baptism), they have merely become “babes in Christ.” As such they are ready for spiritual food, and should first be fed with the sincere milk of the Word, that they may grow thereby, and as they make progress the Lord himself stands pledged to it that they shall have “meat in due season,” and as they are able to bear it the “strong meat” which belongs to them that are developed, strong in the Lord and in
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the power of his might, “overcomers,” soldiers of Christ, having on his armor and fighting a good fight, lifting high the royal banner, and active in helping others to attain the same conditions.
To Satan, our wily foe, we must credit the perversion of this great commission, so explicitly stated; making it meaningless as we have seen: first by making it mean the conversion of the world; second, by destroying the real idea of baptism; third, by confusing the Lord’s people as to the matter of discipling, and to make them think that it is gathering membership into sectarian bundles; fourth, to make them think that this is all that is necessary, and that teaching in the Church is a waste of time, which should be devoted to what the Adversary calls “saving souls,” but what in reality is an endeavor to gather unregenerate people into sectarian systems and to delude them into thinking that they are in any sense of the word members of the true Church of Christ, and saved; fifth, by misleading those whom he cannot thus delude, but who realize that there is to be a growth in grace and in knowledge, into a misunderstanding of the Apostle’s statement (mistranslated in our Common Version), “The anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you.”—1 John 2:20,27.
Under this last delusion many are turned aside from the instruction which the Lord designs should be given through teachers whom he would raise up—turned aside to vagaries, to dreams and imaginations and misinterpretations of Scripture which they fancy are whispered to them by the holy spirit, but which frequently give evidence of being the suggestions either of their own minds or of the fallen angels.
Let us, as the Lord’s people, seeking for the old paths, note well the Master’s instruction in this connection, and let each one of us who seeks to serve his cause labor exactly along the lines here marked out—not thinking that his own imperfect judgment or that of fellow-mortals is superior to the Lord’s, but to the contrary, that the Lord, the Head of the Church, alone was competent to give the proper commission which must be followed implicitly.
That our Lord gave this commission, not merely to the apostles but to all who should believe on him through their word, is clearly shown by the words with which he closed the commission,—”Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age.” The apostles did not live to the end of the age, and hence the Lord’s words signify that he will be with all of his followers who avail themselves of his commission, and who endeavor to present his message to those who have ears to hear out of all nations. He of course did not mean that he would be personally present with them, for he had already told them that personally he would go away, and that personally he would come again at the end of the age (John 14:2), and his words are not to be understood as contradictory. His meaning in
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the present instance evidently was that he would supervise their work, he would be the real head of the Church, he would oversee all of their affairs, he would be with them in the sense of supporting and guiding and counselling those who would walk in his way and proclaim his message—and in proportion as they were faithful to the charge. This assurance of the Lord’s presence was intended to give the apostles courage for the work he was committing to them. While he was with them in the flesh they merely followed his direction, and as soon as he was smitten they felt as sheep having no shepherd, and now he was going away, but he wished them to realize that his power would be with them and his supervising guidance of their affairs would be granted them, as surely as while he was with them in the flesh—tho apparent only to the eye of faith. According to their faith it should be unto them a strength, a power.
And all the way down through the age the Lord’s people have similarly been required to walk by faith and not by sight, and the lesson no doubt has been valuable to them in spiritual upbuilding, much more so than had he remained in the flesh with us. And if the thought of the Lord’s spiritual supervision of his work was to be a source of encouragement and strength to those who would attempt to teach in his name all through the age, much more may we of the present time realize his actual presence in the harvest of this Gospel age, altho we see him with no other than the eye of faith, yet, believing, we have joy unspeakable and strength and courage for the work. He is with us in the harvest work as he was with the apostles in the sowing of the seed.
Surely he who was careful to supervise the sowing work is not less interested and careful in respect to the reaping. Let us then thrust in the sickle of truth with energy and courage, remembering that we serve the Lord Christ, remembering that we are not responsible for the harvest but merely for our energy in gathering what ripe “wheat” we can find. If the labor be great for the finding of few grains of ripe wheat we are to rejoice the more in those we do find, and learn to love and appreciate the more that which is scarce and precious. Let us remember, too, while using all the wisdom we can in this service, that the Lord’s object in giving us a share in his work is not so much what we can accomplish as in the blessing that the labor will bring upon us. This will be an encouraging thought to the dear ones who are engaged in the “Volunteer” work; and if they find many discouragements and but
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small results the reflection that the Master knoweth them that are his, and that he appreciates every sincere effort made to serve his cause and to lay down our lives on behalf of the brethren, will give courage and strength to those who otherwise might faint by the way.
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INTERESTING QUERIES ANSWERED
IS FAITH THE GIFT OF GOD?
Question.—I have always considered that faith is what each individual must personally exercise and develop, but according to Romans 12:3 it would seem that this is something we get in a measure at least from God. Can God impart what he himself does not possess? In what way, then, does God give us a measure of faith? God having told us a truth in his Word, is it not entirely a matter resting with us as to whether or not we have confidence in it—have faith in it? “Faith cometh by hearing of the Word.”
Answer.—The word here rendered “faith” (Rom. 12:3) is from the Greek pistis, otherwise translated fidelity, assurance. As you say, we have much to do with our own faith and assurance and exercise a certain amount of it before we are begotten of the spirit at all, else we could not be justified by faith, for justification precedes our presenting of ourselves living sacrifices and our acceptance and begetting of the holy spirit. This much of faith is our own evidently, but after we have received of the Lord’s spirit our faith may grow exceedingly, so that we will be able to walk by faith and not by sight—to accept the things that are not seen, and to sacrifice for them things that are seen and temporal. It may be said with propriety that the attitude which permits us to receive God’s message of grace unto justification is all of God, in the sense that all of our blessings are from above—”every good and perfect gift.” But it is especially true that faith in spiritual things which we develop after we are begotten of the holy spirit is the result of divine instruction; as it is written, “They shall be all taught of God,” and the faith which will enable the consecrated ones to come off victors is not merely the natural faith with which they started, and with which they laid hold upon the Lord and justification, but a higher attainment of faith, the result of being taught of God through his Word and by his providence.
In the text under consideration our sober thinking must depend upon the time we have been under the Lord’s instruction, and the degree of attention we have given to learning the lessons intended for the increase of our faith. This development is in the Scriptures spoken of as a “gift,” also as a “fruit” of the spirit of God in us, and again as God’s “workmanship,” for by his truth and by his providences he is working in his children, not only to will but also to do his good pleasure—he is working in us faith, hope, joy, peace, love and all the graces which he approves; and if we will be obedient to his teaching and leading he will complete the work eventually and we shall be copies of his dear Son our Lord, and joint-inheritors with him.
WHO WERE THOSE SAINTS?
Question.—Who were those “saints,” mentioned in Matt. 27:52,53, who arose and came into the holy city after the Lord’s resurrection?
Answer.—(1) The persons mentioned could not have been the ancient worthies, perfected; because of those the Apostle declares that “they without us [the Gospel Church] shall not be made perfect.” In other words, their resurrection will not be due to take place until after the first resurrection of the Church has been completed.—Heb. 11:39,40.
(2) The class mentioned cannot have been saints of the Gospel Church, because the Church had not been selected—even the beginning of its acceptance with God had not yet taken place, and did not occur until the day of Pentecost, nearly fifty days later.
(3) The record seems to imply that the earthquake which occurred at the time of our Lord’s death opened these graves—produced the awakening mentioned; but that the awakened ones tarried and did not manifest themselves in the city of Jerusalem until after our Lord’s resurrection.
At very most it was an awakening similar to that which Lazarus experienced, and the daughter of Jairus, and the son of the widow of Nain, to die again, later on. We may be sure of this because the express declaration of 1 Cor. 15:20 is: “Christ is the first-fruits of them that slept”—the first one resurrected to perfection of being—the first one lifted completely out of death to perfection of life. The persons mentioned could have been no more than merely aroused from the slumber of death temporarily, and for some purpose of which we have no knowledge. We were at first inclined to doubt the genuineness of the passage, but find that a portion of it at least appears in the oldest Greek MSS. yet discovered.
SEVEN, SIXTY-TWO AND ONE EQUAL SEVENTY
Question.—In Dan. 9:25,26 we have different periods given—seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: some things are said to happen after the sixty-two
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weeks, and again something is said about one week, and altogether the matter seems to be confused. Please give us the harmonizing view.
Answer.—We must take into consideration the statement of vs. 24; viz., that the entire period under discussion is seventy weeks (symbolical). This is divided into three parts; viz., seven weeks, sixty-two weeks and one week—total, seventy. The first seven weeks marked specially events connected with the Temple; the end of the sixty-two weeks were to mark Messiah’s appearance. But we are to remember that the sixty-two followed the seven, hence the end of the sixty-two weeks would be the end of the sixty-nine weeks as respects the whole, and the one week following would be the seventieth week. It was this last, or seventieth week of years, that constituted the Jewish time of favor. It (seven years) began with our Lord’s baptism, was marked in its middle with our Lord’s crucifixion, and ended three and a half years later, after the ripe “wheat” of the Jewish age had been gathered into the Gospel age; and immediately at its close the Gospel message began to be sent to the Gentiles upon equal terms with the Jews,—Cornelius being the first Gentile convert.
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MEMORIAL CELEBRATION REPORTS
FROM every direction come reports of interesting and profitable commemorations of our dear Redeemer’s death, on the anniversary of his “Last Supper,” April 2nd. Our hearts have been greatly refreshed by these letters, and we doubt if the space of our columns could be better used than in holding of a “testimony meeting” and hearing from representatives of all classes of “brethren.” We can, of course, only publish a small sample lot of letters—being forced to omit some of the very choicest. Up to time of going to press we have received 171 reports of meetings, the average attendance being twelve. Last year the average reported was ten.
Beginning at home: the Church at Allegheny (Pittsburg, across the river, included) had a most delightful season of fellowship and communion with the Lord and each other. The attendance was about 325, of whom about 310 partook of the elements representing our Lord’s broken body and shed blood. The meeting opened at 7:30 p.m., with appropriate hymns, and prayers by various brethren, after which a short discourse was preached, setting forth prominent features of Israel’s passover and showing that these were typical of Christ our Passover, slain for “the Church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven;” whose deliverance now means ultimately the deliverance of all who, when brought to a knowledge of the truth, shall demonstrate that they are God’s people, “Israelites indeed,” glad to escape the bondage of sin and Satan, typified by the Pharaoh of Egyptian taskmasters, etc.
We rejoiced together in the death of Jesus, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, while deeply sympathizing with his sufferings on our behalf. We discussed the necessity of the “blood of sprinkling” upon the door-posts of our faith structure, and that none of the “first-born” could be safe from the “destroying angel”—the Second Death—except as the saving blood was thus publicly confessed. We saw, too, that only by eating the lamb—appropriating the merits of Christ, feeding upon him in their hearts, can any have the strength needful for the journey out of Egypt, the world.
Then followed a reminder of how our Lord instituted the memorial of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, to take the place of the literal lamb and to represent the antitype; and that only those who partake of the realities which these symbolize have part or lot with the Lord in the elect first-born class, now being sought. The secondary feature was also set forth;—that, as the Apostle explains, the one loaf represents the complete Church which must be broken, and the cup symbolizes the covenant of the Lord’s people to share his sorrows and sufferings—death—with their Lord.—1 Cor. 10:15-17.
Then asking blessings of God upon the bread and the cup, as did our Lord, we partook of the emblems with reverent and grateful hearts and sang a hymn and went out—avoiding unnecessary conversation, and seeking to meditate upon the incidents connected with our Lord’s betrayal and death; remembering his words to his faithful eleven, “Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation,” and applying the lesson to ourselves, remembering that this is always a time of special temptation and testing and for remembering our Lord’s words to Peter: “Satan hath desired to have thee that he might sift thee as wheat;—but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” The same Lord is interested in each of us, and we, as members of his body, also pray one for another, and seek to assist one another in the narrow way. The Lord’s scattered sheep everywhere were remembered in our petitions to the throne of grace, as we are sure we at Allegheny were remembered by you all.
The emblems were sent to 21 who were unable to be with us.
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“THIS DO IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.”
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DEAR BROTHER:—The Memorial supper was partaken of by 18 of the Wheeling Church. It was a very solemn occasion to each one, as we all realized its import. Yours in Christian love,
CH. MURRIN,—West Virginia.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—About fourteen of the friends met at my house last night to celebrate the Memorial Supper. We felt our Lord’s presence and received a great spiritual uplifting. Brother Smith, formerly a Baptist clergyman, was with us, as was also his wife, two daughters and one son. They were very much impressed and said they had never understood it in the light in which it was presented to them last night. This same brother with his wife and two sons symbolized their consecration last Sunday, in Boston, by immersion. Altogether, from Lynn we had six immersed. The Church at Lynn is prospering wonderfully, and never since I have been here has the spiritual condition seemed so good. Tho in time past our work did not seem to bear much fruit, we have kept on, and now we can see the results. I had the pleasure of meeting a sister who came out of Babylon into the truth through a WATCH TOWER that I gave her while serving one of the out-of-town churches in the Volunteer service. The interest here seems to be increased and we have a good attendance at our services.
We received a great spiritual blessing during and since our dear Brother Samson’s visit. I praise God for such men as he. Oh! it is blessed this fellowship with the saints and I can never thank our Father enough for it and for his wonderful goodness in bringing me into the light. I am enjoying the walk with my blessed Savior each day, and tho some times I pass through shadows I am striving to say “Thy will be done.” We desire your prayers, dear Brother, that we may learn more perfectly the lesson our Heavenly Father would teach us.
The article in April 1. TOWER on “Patience” was just what I needed. May God bless and keep you in his love is the prayer of your brother in Christ,
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—The friends of Truth here observed the Lord’s Memorial supper. We were blessed spiritually; and I think all felt the importance of the occasion, and that it was good to be there. There should have been 20 there, but on account of bad weather only 14 were present, 12 of them partaking of the supper.
Yours in the cause of our Master,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—On Tuesday night twenty-six of the brothers and sisters here met and commemorated the Last Supper of our Lord Jesus. All present seemed to realize more clearly than ever before the significance of this supper. We praise our dear Redeemer with all our hearts. First, for what that drinking of the cup (death) by our Lord accomplished for fallen man; and second, for his wondrous condescension in inviting those who believe on him unto justification of life, to partake with him in his sufferings. We look forward to the time when the loaf shall have been entirely broken, and when, if faithful, we shall have the great joy promised with our Lord in our Father’s Kingdom. We praise our Heavenly Father for his guidance and grace during the past year, and with our sacrifices bound afresh to the altar we shall, by his grace, make greater efforts than ever before to serve him during the present year.
With much Christian love, yours in the Anointed,
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—The Churches of Bethlehem and Allentown, Pa., joined in “remembrance” of Him last evening (12 being present), and renewed their consecration to our blessed Lord. It was a profitable occasion to us all.
Your Brother in the glorious hope,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I wish to inform you that the memorial last evening was a very impressive one, and one long to be remembered. There were 25 present, willing to accept and share our Redeemer’s death and sufferings. With love in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I just wanted to write you a few lines concerning the good meeting we had on the evening of April 2nd. We surely enjoyed a blessed season of commemoration of our Dear Savior’s suffering and death. There were eleven present this year, about double what we have ever had before. We opened our meeting with hymns 23 and 13. Then we all knelt in prayer led by Bro. Towne. And tho we were saddened in recalling the scenes of Gethsemane, were rejoiced that we were ransomed and that Jesus was exalted to such a glorious position, “with all power in heaven and in earth.” As some were present who had not met with us before on a like occasion, a few words were said in explanation of the occasion of our meeting, why meet tonight, and what it takes the place of. Then concerning the emblematical bread and juice of the vine, and the real, we read from pages 69, 70 and 71, TOWER 1898. Then followed testimonies in which all took part, expressing our deep appreciation of what our dear Savior accomplished for us. After offering prayer for the blessed “bread from heaven” that was broken for us, the emblem was served. And after a few moments meditation and communion with the Master, and prayer for the precious blood represented by the cup, it was passed. In closing we sang hymn 276.
We seemed to realize more than ever what a great work the Lord did for us, our unworthiness without His merits, and the opportunity of ourselves now becoming a part of the great Sin-offering, laying down our lives jointly with Him, being broken with Him, that we might also have a part in His resurrection, and jointly reign with Him, in blessing all the families of the earth. We remembered you all at Allegheny and were very thankful for the “meat in due season” which the Lord has so graciously provided through you. We prayed the Lord’s blessing might be with all the little companies through-out
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the world, met in memory of His broken body and spilt blood.
Praying the Lord’s choicest blessing upon you and His harvest work, in which all the brethren and sisters here join.
Yours in His service, JOHN HOSKINS,—Illinois.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—We met last night to memorialize the sacrifice of our dear Redeemer. Six of the dear friends partook of the emblems. (Sister Herr met with the friends at Scranton.) It was a blessed meeting and a season of great refreshment to all. Yours in His love and service.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—On Tuesday evening of this week the Church at Buffalo celebrated the Lord’s Supper at the home of Sister Eckhardt. The participants were only twelve, but, counting Christ’s presence with us, of which we all felt assured, it made up the same number comprised in the little company
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who were present on that memorable occasion centuries ago, when our Saviour as a man celebrated the Passover with his disciples. We trust, however, that Judas was not represented.
Although few in number, each one seemed animated by the same Spirit, and I think all felt like saying with Paul,—”God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world.” I believe each one present was strengthened by that true Bread from Heaven, and that all departed with a stronger determination, if possible, to “run with patience the race which is set before us,” and to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling.”
The Church here unite in expressing their Christian love to you. We all pray that the Father may strengthen and keep you, enabling you to give to his loved ones the “meat in due season.”
With best wishes, I am your brother in Christ,
E.F. CRIST,—New York.
DEAR BROTHER:—Sister Black and I partook of the emblems with Sister Hasson, at her home. We had a blessed season, entering into fellowship, in our thoughts and prayers, with the different groups and single celebrants all over the field. As a result we hope to take up our work with added zeal and courage.
Your brother in the blessed hope,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Have just concluded Memorial service this evening. Myself and wife only. We have had a profitable hour and have been greatly blessed, as I hope many of the little circles of the household have been this evening. We purposed going to Clifton to meet the friends there for this occasion, but snow storm and muddy roads rendered it out of the question. Please accept our very kind regards and believe us to be yours in Christ,
F. J. & E. CHAPMAN,—Kansas.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Our celebration of the Memorial in Adrian, Mich., was an occasion of much, and we think, deep and lasting blessing. As we strove to appreciate more fully the significance of the celebration, the depth and breadth of the great At-one-ment sacrifice by our dear Redeemer, and the fulness of the “common union” of the saints in “his sacrifice,” we felt that the participation in “this” needed nothing short of self surrender, self abnegation, that our “heads” may be completely cut off,—”Beheaded! Beheaded! no will of my own.” There were eight of us who thus participated. The dear brethren send their sincerest regards, and wish to express their deep interest in “the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and their earnest desires to serve the truth under all circumstances and at every opportunity.
Your brother in the love and service of our dear Redeemer, J. W. WATTS,—Michigan.
DEAR BRETHREN:—The Memorial of our dear Redeemer’s death was observed in this city last evening. Seventeen were present and partook of the emblems. It was a simple and impressive service, and the brethren and sisters present seemed to well appreciate the import of the emblems. A beautiful spirit of joy and thankfulness was shown, and the value of the precious blood and broken body of our Lord, and what these make possible for us, was gladly confessed. Our Father is indeed kind to his children.
Truly yours, C. E. SCHILLER,—Iowa.
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DEAR BROTHER:—The Church at Portsmouth celebrated the Memorial supper last night. There were present 8 brethren and 1 sister, besides another lady who does not hold with us. Great solemnity and profound joy pervaded every heart. All agreed in saying it was “good to be there.” Yours in Him,
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I just want to say a word about our meeting last night. There were present 16 persons. The meeting was lead by Brother Pritchett; he gave us a very good discourse on the Memorial Supper; one point that he made prominent was “Love,” the bond of perfectness, which should bind the members of the body of Christ together.
We think that this anniversary of our Lord’s death has been the most precious of any that we have yet observed, because the spirit of Love has been growing among us this last year. It seems that all of the little company here have been drawn closer together lately than ever before. One matter that rejoices my own heart is, after so long a time (nearly 10 years) my dear wife is taking a lively interest in our meetings. I wish to thank you at this time, for the TOWER of ’95 which you sent me in answer to my question about the “Resurrection.” It was very satisfactory.
With love to all the Church at Allegheny,
DEAR FRIENDS:—Memorial service was held last evening at 7:30. Brothers Barton and Walker were in charge, with 72 present. Eight were immersed, and quite a number of friends from outside of the city were with us. We had an unusually precious and
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profitable season, the Lord being with us in the power of his spirit, and blessing us. With love to all,
HOMER J. PATTERSON,—Philadelphia.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I write also to tell you of the great blessing which all received in the celebration of the Lord’s Memorial Supper last night. We met in a parlor and had the comfort of having with us many who live too far to attend our regular meetings. There were probably twenty-five in all present. All seemed fully consecrated to the Lord, and many were the moistened eyes as all whom the time would permit gave testimony of their gratitude to the Master for his great gift of himself for us. Our thoughts were especially prepared for the Memorial by a good sized meeting Sunday morning, when Brother Wyndeltz, in a marvelously clear manner, brought out the subject of the ransom, the Passover; and how it is our blessed privilege to be joint participators in that one Loaf. We had you and the Allegheny work in memory to the Lord in prayer that he may graciously guide and preserve you, and continue the blessings you have heretofore bestowed.
All join me in love to you and the dear brethren at Allegheny. Yours in our dear Redeemer,
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—There were 26 of us assembled to partake of the emblems of sacrifice, and the occasion was one of solemnity and blessedness. Brother Thompson gave us a very good talk and we feel strengthened to run the race more zealously and gain the promised possessions of the faithful few.
With love and prayers, I remain yours in Christ,
J.A. BOHNET,—Washington, D.C.
DEAR BRETHREN:—Am pleased to be able to say that at the Memorial services 29 partook of the emblems. A deep interest was manifested, and our leader spoke quite pointedly, emphasizing self-examination and discerning the body of Christ. The sacredness of the occasion also was commendably observable; would that such sacredness could at all times be realized.
Yours in the service of our High Priest,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—In behalf of the Church in and near Boston, Greetings!
Our eyes have beheld with wonder marvelous doings of the Father in the past few days; our ears have listened with rapture to the new song, and this evening our hearts have swelled with gratitude and emotion, as we have commemorated the death of his dear Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Have we not just witnessed flocking to the baptismal waters twenty-eight dear brothers and sisters upon whom God has poured out his Holy Spirit, seeking to symbolize their real baptism by immersion in water? Have we not heard for the past two weeks the dear Pilgrim, our brother sent out from your office, as he has sweetly and harmoniously sung for us the new song, which at present not many know, and so few can sing? And, beside two smaller companies of four or five each, led by brethren who generously absented themselves from the main gathering in order that aged and infirm ones, living at a distance, might not be deprived of the same blessed privilege,—has not a company of ninety-six (the largest number we have ever had) partaken of the bread and the wine, during what was perhaps the most impressive Memorial service we have ever had? Our dear brother, the leader, pictured to us, as he read from the Scriptures, the events leading up to that hour; and called our attention to the appropriateness of the symbols of unleavened bread and wine, to represent the body and blood of the sinless, undefiled One, and the inappropriateness of using leavened bread for the purpose,—leaven being the type of sin. And after our leader had inquired if we should not remember the drops of blood, the cruel thorns, the taunts and insults, His sinking under the cross and His suffering and death for us, we, like the disciples, sang a hymn and went out, to follow in our thoughts the events that followed the departure of the disciples from the upper room on that night.
And how they have followed in my own case! After going six miles out of the city to my own home, the chill in the air makes me think of the cold chill of that night in Jerusalem, as some of them were gathered about a fire warming themselves; but stranger and more worthy of mention than the chill air is the fact that, while writing the foregoing thoughts between midnight and one A.M., I have been permitted to hear (12:40 A.M.), four or five times, the distinct crowing of a cock in the neighborhood! Thinking that sleep, which seemed far from me at midnight, may more readily come now, I will close. With much Christian love,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Here at St. Paul twenty-seven partook of the symbols, the meeting being conducted as nearly in the prescribed order as we were able. May God so bless this feast for us that we may be strengthened in the great race. I feel special need, having a hand to hand conflict with the Adversary, especially the last few days; but I trust that he shall be crushed under our feet shortly. Pray for me and us all that we may be able to overcome by the blood of his cross and the Word of his testimony.
Yours in the Redeemer,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I have the pleasure to inform you that 63 souls met in E. London, to memorialize with bread and wine our Lord’s death for us, and our death with him. According to his promise we had a blessing. In our prayers we counted it a privilege to remember the joint-sacrificers scattered abroad who were participating in the same service.
Besides the above number, six solitary ones, who would have been glad to meet with us, had they been able to do so, were supplied from our portions of bread and wine. At the same time with us, the brethren in North London were having their meeting for this purpose, and will doubtless report in due course. With love to all, yours faithfully, in Christ,