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VOL. XXII. NOVEMBER 1, 1901. No. 21
Views from the Watch Tower
A New Era for the Jews, etc………………339
Anti-Clerical Agitation in Spain………………340
Hell Less Popular with Methodists……………341
Poem: Are You Watching?………………………342
Israel Oppressed in Egypt……………………342
Concerning the Closing of the Call……………344
He was a Goodly Child………………………345
The Parabolic Vineyard Wasted…………………348
Encouraging Words from Friends………………350
Another Swiss Helper…………………………351
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PILGRIM VISITS ARE FREE OF ALL CHARGES
We find that some of the friends have refrained from requesting “Pilgrim” visits because they supposed they would be expected to contribute for his railway fare and also for his support. This is a mistake: the services of the preaching “Pilgrims” laboring under the auspices of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY are absolutely without charge;—nor do they take up any collections. The Society pays their railway and all other expenses out of its funds, which are all voluntary donations, from such as are able and anxious to serve in this manner.
All we ask of the friends visited is that they provide a parlor, hall, school-house or church building for the meetings and that they board and lodge the “Pilgrim” during the two or three days of his visit. We attend to all else.
REQUESTS FOR PILGRIM SERVICE
The Pilgrim routes are made out months ahead; so it is too late to write us, as some do, when they learn from last page that a Pilgrim is coming to their vicinity. If you desire visits write us a Postal Card (or on a card of that size) answering the following questions: (a) Have you regular meetings now? (b) How many usually attend? (c) Who are the chosen leaders of the class? (d) Did the class vote its desire for Pilgrim visits? (e) Are you able and willing to secure a suitable room for private meetings? (f) Could you arrange also for one public meeting? and what number of an audience could probably be gathered?
You can answer all queries briefly, thus: (a) Yes. (b) 14. (c) John Smithson and Amos Browning. (d) Yes. (e) Yes. (f) Yes: 100 to 300.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
A NEW ERA FOR THE JEWS
LONDON, September 24.—Israel Zangwill, the novelist, poet and playwright, who has become one of the most prominent of the prophets in the Zionist movement gave to-day some significant facts concerning the coming conference of the Zionists at Basle, Switzerland. “It is not impossible,” said Mr. Zangwill, “that Dr. Herzl may have a great surprise for the world, to be announced at that convention. He has been negotiating in person with the Sultan of Turkey for a charter for Palestine, and it is possible that he has obtained that charter. It seems likely at any rate that the charter may be had before many months.
“Once the charter is assured, much larger contributions should be obtained. We have at present about a million dollars, most of it from three or four subscribers. We’re not going to admit anyone except skilled workmen. Jews who want to get into Palestine under the new charter will have to come up to a high standard financially, physically and morally in order to be admitted. If we were going to let in those who were looking for food where there was no food except such as the colonists make for themselves, it would lead to a great disaster.”
“What sort of government would Palestine have under the charter from the Sultan?” asked the reporter.
“Well, there’s the Chartered Company in South Africa, for instance. Perhaps it would be something like that. But you may say that the leaders of the Zionists have read deeply enough in their histories to know that the pilgrim fathers didn’t have the present
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constitution of the United States in their heads when they sailed for America. The constitution evolved itself—and just so the government of Palestine will evolve itself.”
WATER WORKS IN JERUSALEM
The ancient aqueducts and reservoirs of Jerusalem testify to the abundant provision that was made for running water in the Holy City when it was the metropolis of the Jewish state. It is only within the last few weeks that they have been brought again into the service of the city, which, during intervening centuries, has been dependent upon the scanty accumulation of rain water. The droughts of the present summer led to distress, which, happily the new governor of Jerusalem, Mohammed Pjevad Pasha, had the will and energy to combat. He secured the Sultan’s consent to lay immediately a pipe from Solomon’s pools, nine miles south of the city. The pipe draws from the sealed fountain mentioned in the song of Solomon: “My beloved is like a spring, shut up in a fountain sealed,” the deep down subterranean spring, which, from the time of Solomon, flowed through an arched channel to a distributing chamber. The tunnel is roofed with stones in the shape of an inverted V. It is one of the oldest structures in existence. It passes through the valley where are the beautiful ancient gardens of Solomon mentioned in Ecclesiastes. After passing around the slope of Zion, it enters the city through the grounds of the mosque Omar, which is in the old temple area.
This drawing from Solomon’s pools will enable the use of twelve ancient fountains in the city. It will require twenty kilometers of piping, ten centimeters in diameter when finally installed. The governor has also successfully repaired the Virgin’s fount, in the valley of Jehoshaphat, outside of the city walls. Its waters pass to the pool of Siloam to a tunnel built by Hezekiah, as his workmen recorded in a rough-hewn Hebrew, which is the oldest inscription extant. It was stolen, but afterward recovered, and is now in a museum at Constantinople.
A ROMANIST VIEW OF MORTAL SIN
“The new Auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Hexham and Newcastle made his visitation to St. Joseph’s, West Hartlepool, on Sunday. In the course of his address he said it was one of his duties to point out their faults. He reproved them
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for their irregular attendance at mass, for drunkenness, and for the irregular attendance of their children at the day schools. The practice of Roman Catholics sending their children to Protestant schools when they had schools of their own, he said, was one of which no bishop could approve. It was a mortal sin, for which no priest could give absolution.”
The above is clipped from an English journal and serves well to show how men who are not vicious may be combative and dictatorial to such a degree as to not only do violence to God’s word and character, but also to insult reason, even in its most degraded form. This bishop is very new and fresh every way, when he thinks that even ignorant Romanists will believe him sincere in thus declaring that the sending of Catholic children to the public schools constitutes a sin unto death—that hath never forgiveness. And by this the bishop means a sin unto endless life in the torments of hell. Poor world! the “Doctors of Divinity” have long been Satan’s deceiving agents; but thank God for the promise of his word in Rev. 20:2,3.
UNREAL HOPES AND FALSE PROFESSIONS
An editorial comment in a prominent New York journal says:
“Future life, no matter how gorgeously it is depicted, is, and must be, a depressing subject for people of one sort, comfortable, prosperous, and self-satisfied. For before they can make their triumphal entry into Heaven they feel they have to make their exit from a world in which they are far more thoroughly at home than in any heaven they have ever heard of. Hence the difficulty about the rich man’s entering the Kingdom of Heaven is not confined to one side only. The rich man, for his part, is not in a hurry to get there. And inasmuch, as people of this kind set the tone in society, it is no wonder that scientific investigation of immortality is not encouraged. People do not want to hear about it, and above all they do not want to know about it. For if once they knew, it would be most inconvenient. They would have to act on their knowledge, and that might upset the habits of a life time. And the older one gets the less one likes that. What the decision was would not so much matter; whether science decided for immortality or for annihilation, the blissful ignorance that enabled one to ignore the subject in ordinary life would be gone for ever. Hence an uncertainty to which we have grown adapted is deliberately preferred to a knowledge that would involve the re-adjustment of ingrained habits.”
* * *
“When the Son of Man cometh shall he find the faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8.) It surely is very scarce at present; and as the higher critics proceed, and as the evolution theories spread, faith in God and in His Word becomes more and more vague and lifeless. How thankful we should be to God for the “meat in due season” and light of present truth which hinders us from being “shaken” as are others. Heb. 12:25-28.
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ANTI-CLERICAL AGITATION IN SPAIN
THE humiliation of Spain in the war with the United States has given a basis to various movements for reform in the land of the Don, politically, socially, and ecclesiastically. One of these movements, headed by Don Sigismundo Peyordeix, is attracting considerable attention in church circles, and according to the Frankfurter Zeitung is developing rapidly both in extent and in intensity. The agitation is anti-clerical, but not anti-Catholic. According to the same journal, Don Sigismundo sees in the Jesuit order the chief source of the ills that have befallen the church and the people of Spain. Originally a priest in Barcelona, he has now, in conjunction with a number of other dissatisfied ecclesiastics, organized a formal crusade against the status quo in the Spanish church. His official program is announced in these words: “We are Catholic, but not clerical; on the contrary, anti-clerical.” The organ of the movement has been a weekly journal called El Urbiore, so named after a famous mountain fastness which neither the Mohammedans nor the French were ever able to subdue. In addition to this journal, Sigismundo has recently published a larger work against the Jesuits, entitled “Crisis de la Compania de Jesus,” and is developing great literary activity in non-Spanish periodicals also. The first organ of the movement having been suppressed, a new periodical was called into existence, called El Cosmopolita. In a recent indictment of the Jesuit order the Spanish agitator designated twenty-four points, in which he considers a reform necessary. Among these are the following: Alleged decline of the true worship of God and of the true following of the crucified Savior; exaggerated and idolatrous reverence for the saints; the worship of the Sacred Heart and other objects of adoration; decrease in the practice of Christian virtues, such as righteousness, wisdom, temperance; and the increase of external religious exercises that appeal only to the senses, such as processions, festivals, and the whole body of ceremonies; decrease in love and care for the poor, and the growth of the desire for riches, power, and influence; neglect of the Gospel and the traditions and an increasing exaggeration of churchly authority and especially of the power of the Vatican; simony and favoritism in the papal and episcopal government; the prominence given to political trickery in the management of church affairs, and the deterioration of love, justice, and holiness in the leaders of the church; tyranny on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities over the lower clergy and the people. The Frankfurter Zeitung quotes Don Sigismundo as saying:
“Against all these weaknesses and evils, which indicate a terrible degeneration of Christian spirit in the church, I have determined to raise my voice day and night, with the permission of my superiors or without this permission. These evils spring from the spirit of Anti-Christ, and to fight this I do not need the permission of Pope or bishop; the call of God and my conscience are sufficient authority.”
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He also makes it a point to attack the enforced celibacy of the priests, declaring that while celibacy is a good thing in itself it is such only when it is adopted as a matter of free choice and not of compulsion. With reference to the outcome of the agitation and of the present condition of affairs, he writes further as follows:
“What will be the consequences as far as the future is concerned? This is hard to say beforehand. In the church there is a schism threatening. The Primate of Toledo and the Archbishop of Saville are the two opposite poles in the Spanish church. The former aims at a reintroduction of the Inquisition, and the latter strives for the same freedom of the clergy that prevails in the United States. In political circles there prevails an opposition to the liberal spirit of the lower classes, and the higher classes are sighing for the Inquisition. In economic affairs suffering is rapidly increasing and immorality is making rapid strides. Corruption in official circles caused the catastrophe in Cuba and in the Philippines, and Spaniards, monks, and Free Masons have all acted like robbers. Spain is the most unhappy land on earth because it is ruled by the Jesuit order. The people are without faith or confidence, without manhood, without strength, without law, without science, even without the sense of honor. The highest that this country can do is to hope that the vulture of Jesuitism may soon cease to devour the vitals of this people. However, as it seems, there is the dawn of a new day, when the people will take terrible vengeance on those who have materially and morally ruined their fatherland.”—The Literary Digest.
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HELL LESS POPULAR WITH METHODISTS
REV. J. A. FAULKNER of Drew Theological Seminary has given to the world his opinion on this subject, in the columns of The Methodist Review. We quote as follows:
HELL ONCE POPULAR
“(1) It is within the memory of men now living that frequently the declaration was heard from the pulpit that there were infants and children in hell. (2) The descriptions of hell were frightfully realistic; that is, realistic as judged from a literal interpretation of the Scripture. Vivid pictures of physical torment were frequent. (3) The impression was made that the vast majority of mankind—including all, or nearly all, the heathen world—were doomed to eternal destruction [torment?] (4) This doctrine formed a staple of preaching to an extent not known to-day. Then it was a frequent theme, now it is a rare theme in the pulpit.
WHY LESS POPULAR NOW
“If we inquire the causes which have led to this change of emphasis and attitude toward the doctrine of hell, I think we may mention the following: (1) The growth of humanitarian sentiment. Thirty or fifty years ago there were severer ideas as to punishment in general, and a more calloused feeling in regard to suffering, than is the case today. Take the treatment of prisoners and the prevalence of capital punishment. Treatment that we would consider shockingly cruel, that would arouse a feeling of indignation in all minds, was then taken as a matter of course. It was so in regard to school discipline. I was in common school between 1865 and 1872. In years so recent as those, I say distinctly that the punishments in vogue were cruel and barbarous. But they were never so considered then. The growth of love, the larger influence of the spirit of Christ on society, has made an entire change in the atmosphere in which we live. That change has silently made obsolete and of none effect the kind of preaching that once was powerful on the minds of men. (2) Theological developments have also had their influence. Methodism has made familiar the thought that God deals not only justly with all men, but mercifully as well, that there is an impartiality in His treatment of souls, that men must be given an equal chance of salvation, that no man will be condemned for rejecting a Christ he never heard of, or for sinning against light he never had. …
“(3) The better understanding of Scripture also accounts in part for the change in the thought of hell. Our familiarity with the modes of speech in the East, the intense imagery, the word-painting, the use of parable, figure, simile, with which Oriental speech abounds—all this has made us skeptical of the hard and matter-of-fact methods of our Western speech when it coarsely makes literal what the sacred writers left figurative. In other words we now understand that in that fresh, imaginative, child-like age the sacred writers, necessarily spoke, as Easterns, that the Holy Spirit had to use the only vehicle that was open to him, and that therefore we must seek to interpret in our Western tongue the truths that underlay the extravagant, tropical descriptions of the Oriental writers. The growth of the science of Biblical hermeneutics has had its share in modifying the old-fashioned ideas of hell.
“First, it has made sad the hearts of those whom God has not made sad. It has turned the hopes of thousands of devout believers into ashes, and filled the souls of God’s children with tormenting doubts and dark forebodings as to their own salvation and the salvation of their friends. The brilliant and pious Henry Rogers expressed the despair which this doctrine wrought in him: ‘For my part I should not grieve if the whole race of mankind died in its fourth year. As far as I can see I do not know that it would be a thing much to be lamented.’ Albert Barnes confesses to the same confusion of spirit: ‘In the distress and anguish of my own spirit I confess that I see no light whatever. I see not one ray to disclose to me the reason why sin came into the world, why the earth is strewn with the dying and the dead, and why man must suffer to all eternity.’ These two testimonials from eminent divines in England and America may be taken as representing thousands of similar questionings and thoughts of despair in those who have tried to realize the full meaning of the popular doctrine when it was a living thing: Second, the doctrine has worked havoc in turning those who otherwise
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might have been Christians into infidels. It was this which made an infidel of the elder Mill. ‘Compared with this,’ he says, ‘every other objection to Christianity sinks into insignificance.’ It helped make Theodore Parker a Unitarian. It gave an immense impetus to the spread of Universalism and Unitarianism, and afforded a ready fulcrum to the lever by which the preachers of these two sects lifted the people away from Christianity. It will be found that the preaching of hell, in the fashion common some years ago, works in an entirely opposite way from that which the preacher wishes: that is, it turns those away from Christ whom he desires to influence by a salutary fear, and those who are already Christians or on the way to Christ it fills with anguish, doubts and despair.”
* * *
We are glad to see this professor so candid and outspoken; and rejoice that the editor of The Methodist Review had the courage to publish the article. It will do good in the way of loosing the bonds of superstition and helping prepare some for the truth; yet it is deficient in that it does not go far enough and show up the basis of the error to be the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of God’s Word through mistranslations, etc., which have deceived the minds of lay-readers and grossly misrepresented the divine character and plan. For these reasons it tends in the direction it condemns—toward Universalism and Unitarianism, with all that this means as respects a denial of the fall of man and of his redemption by the great ransom-price of Calvary. It means a loss of reverence for the Bible under the false supposition that it supports or in any degree sanctions this atrocious calumny against God and human reason.
Now is the time to properly assist those whom Dr. Faulkner may have awakened—before they stumble into skepticism. We know of nothing so helpful to such newly awakened ones as the pamphlet, “What Say the Scriptures About Hell?” followed by “The Divine Plan of the Ages.” We supply these “helping hands” or “Bible keys” at very low prices or loan them free to those who so request.
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ARE YOU WATCHING?
Are you watching for the “presence”
Of the Reaper of the field?
Knowest thou what “signs” proclaim Him
Tho’ at present He’s concealed?
Dost thou watch with straining vision
For the dawning of the day?
Can’st thou hear the legions tramping
On Emmanuel’s highway?
Art thou faint with weary vigils,
Looking for thy coming Lord?
Have thine eyes grown dim with weeping,
Sick at heart with hope deferred?
Sore discouraged at the prospect
Of the field so full of tares,
And the Prince of Evil working
To encompass us with snares?
Sad indeed it seems, my brother,
When we view from earthly height;
For we fail to see the sunshine
That disperses present night.
Climb the peak, O, weary pilgrim,
Of our God’s eternal truth,
And from thence behold the landscape!
Then shalt thou renew thy youth.
We’ll not think God’s arm is shortened
When upon that height we stand;
For His purposes are rip’ning,
And His own shall rule the land.
Tho the night precedes the morning,
Yet at last shall rise the Sun;
And the shadows quickly vanished,
Shall proclaim the morn has come.
Know his “presence” then, O pilgrim!
“In like manner” hath He come.
Reapers, now the sickle wielding,
Soon shall sing the “Harvest Home.”
Tares are burning. Wheat is gath’ring,
Soon shall all be gathered in.
Welcome ye the “Lord of Harvest,”
Who shall triumph over sin.
A. J. Morris, M.D.
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ISRAEL OPPRESSED IN EGYPT
—EXOD. 1:1-14.—NOV. 10.—
“God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant.”—Exod. 2:24
SLAVERY is too strong a word to use with reference to Israel’s condition in Egypt. We have seen that Jacob and his family, servants, herds and flocks, were received graciously for Joseph’s sake, and located upon the grassy plains known as the land of Goshen. Pharaoh evidently in this matter was controlled by a spirit of benevolence, and by an appreciation of Joseph, and by a realization that his brethren, though not his equals, were men of ability, and likely to make good neighbors. He probably also recognized that as the Egyptians were not a pastoral people the Israelites would not be serious competitors in business, but on the contrary would probably help along the general interests of the kingdom. Moreover, he perceived that the land of Goshen, being toward the East, would serve as a measure of protection against invaders. But whatever his conjectures, he evidently could not have imagined so rapid a development, so great an increase of numbers in that people. That their increase was phenomenal is fully attested by vs. 7 of the lesson. “The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly and multiplied and waxed exceedingly mighty; and the land (of Goshen) was filled with them.” Here are five different expressions used to indicate their phenomenal growth. And when we remember that these all sprang from Isaac, and that he was the only son of his mother, and born when his father was over a hundred years old; and when we remember, further, that Jacob also, was born only after repeated prayers, and that Rachel his wife similarly was long unfruitful, it seems the more evident
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that the Lord’s providence had much to do with the change which came over Jacob’s family after it was transplanted to Egypt.
The seventy souls mentioned in verse 5 were all males except two, Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, and Sarah, his granddaughter. (Gen. 46.) It is reasonable, therefore, to infer that the females of the company, not included in the count, were about as many more. Neither is it unreasonable to infer that since Abraham’s household represented many servants and helpers, Isaac’s also, and Jacob’s, these may have accompanied Israel to Egypt and have been merged into the nation under the law of circumcision. It is well that we have these facts in mind when considering that from the time of Jacob’s death to the time of the Exodus was a period of only 215 years; and yet in the meantime the Israelites were so fruitful, increased so abundantly, multiplied and waxed exceeding mighty, to such an extent that at that time the male representatives of the nation numbered 600,000; which, counting four to a family, would imply a total enumeration of 2,400,000.
Infidelity has been inclined to scoff at this record, and to declare that such an increase was impossible; but we are to bear in mind the distinct statement of verse 7, to the effect that the increase was phenomenal, beyond all precedent or ordinary calculation. One of the Hebrew words used in describing the increase gives the thought of swarming (as bees and fishes), and this in accord with the divine forestatement. (Gen. 46:3.) M. Millett, French Consul in Egypt, declares: “The air of this country is much purer and better than in any other. This salubrity of the air imparts itself to all organic beings, plants and animals. The females, not only of the human species, but also of the animals, are more fruitful than any other in the world.” Doubtless also morality, freedom from wars, pestilences and special diseases, had much to do with the rapid increase of that people. As affecting the reasonableness of the record, Prof. Curtis quotes a volume of family memoirs, which shows that 5,564 persons are known to have descended from Lieut. John Hollister, who emigrated to America in 1642. It is said that in the early settlements of North America the actual rate of increase for several successive periods was for the population to double itself every fifteen years. Calculating at this rate, and counting husbands or wives for the seventy persons in the text (in all, 140), the increase would amount to 2,293,760 in 200 years.
The statement of verse 8 doubtless applies to some period after the death of Joseph. Since Joseph ruled Egypt for eighty years, it is quite probable that there was more than one Pharaoh on the throne, and it is the general supposition amongst scholars that the new king of verse 8 signifies a new dynasty—a change in the royal family through insurrection or otherwise. Possibly the very fact of the general peace and prosperity of Egypt, during Joseph’s term of office, led to a general abandonment of the affairs of state on the part of the royal family, and thus paved the way to such a rebellion and change of dynasty—an ambitious family grasping the reins of power after the death of Joseph, and at a time, probably, when matters, were not running so smoothly in the kingdom’s affairs, by reason of the loss of the divinely guided governor.
The kings of the new dynasty did not recognize Joseph, nor any indebtedness on the part of Egypt to him, and the Israelites, his people. On the contrary, the new ruler, less ready than his predecessors to look for the leadings of divine providence, cast a suspicious eye upon the Hebrew people, noted how rapidly they were increasing in numbers and prosperity, and reasoned that they had no ties to either Egypt or its throne, and that therefore their further growth would be inimical to the empire’s welfare; because, in the case of wars, they might espouse the cause of the enemy, or might attack the government and seek to make themselves the rulers of Egypt. This would be worldly wisdom as represented in the treatment of the Sclavonian peoples today; and no doubt it was so regarded then. The new king put into execution plans intended, not to destroy the Israelites, nor to drive them off, but merely to hold them in check—to prevent their further marvelous increase. He sought to discourage the ambitions of the people by overwork under discouraging conditions, hoping that this rigorous treatment would impair their virility or possibly cause them to feel that they would not wish to bring forth children to so burdensome a life as their own. But the record is that the repressive measures were unsuccessful, and that the people of Israel increased more and more. The new king did not take divine providence into account.
Scholars are quite united in the belief that Rameses II was either the first or second ruler of this new dynasty, antagonistic to Israel. His mummy was found in 1881; we saw it exhibited in the museum located near the Great Pyramid, in 1892. Of the identity there can be no reasonable doubt. The
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head of the mummy shows phrenologically just such a character as the history implies. The hooked Roman nose shows great determination, while the low forehead indicates a deficiency of the quality called benevolence. How surprised Rameses will be before long, when in due time, with the remainder of earth’s millions, he shall come forth from the prisonhouse of death! He may still see his old mummy, and undoubtedly will see Israel, as represented in the ancient worthies, occupying the chief place in earthly power for the blessing of Egypt and all the families of the earth, under the ministration of spiritual Israel—Christ and the Church in glory. What a lesson he and others will read in the developments of the divine plan, as they will then perceive them—things which we perceive already because the eyes of our understanding are opened to the things revealed in the divine Word, and which will be corroborated more and more as we approach the Millennial day.
We are not to understand that the Israelites as a whole were compelled to leave their industries and engage in brickmaking and the construction of treasure cities, palaces, highways, etc. On the contrary, we are to suppose that drafts were made from time to time upon the people, much after the manner of the conscriptions for the army in Germany, Austria, Italy, France and Russia. This same method of dealing with the people was in vogue in Egypt until quite recently, when the British Government took control
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there. It is known as the Corvee system of enforced labor. We recall that Solomon introduced such a system in Israel, compelling each individual to serve so many months upon public works. The same system is in vogue to some extent in various civilized countries, where the farmer is permitted to pay such a proportion of his taxes in money, and another proportion in labor—or, instead of the labor, he may pay it all in money. The system, rightly operated, of course, would be no more of an injustice to the people than an ordinary tax, but evidently the object of Rameses, the oppressing Pharaoh, was to injure the people under the guise of public works and necessary taxation.
A lesson which we spiritual Israelites may learn from Israel’s experience in Egyptian bondage is that our God is abundantly able to make all of life’s experiences work to our advantage; and that his word is sure of fulfillment in its due time, regardless of what man may propose. Had Rameses adopted a different policy in dealing with Israel they might have forgotten the promise of God, which indicated the exact time in which their deliverance from Egypt would come—they might have become so interested in Egypt and its affairs, and in their land of Goshen, etc., etc., and so intermingled with the people of Egypt, that they would have forgotten the promise of their deliverance, and that the land of Canaan should then be theirs. In this we see another illustration of the fact that sometimes we receive greater blessings through adversity than through prosperity. As the adversities of fleshly Israel drew them together, and separated them from the Egyptians, so the trials and adversities of the spiritual Israel tend to draw them nearer to each other, and nearer to the Lord, and to separate them from the world,—leading their hearts more and more to an appreciation of the goodly heavenly Canaan which God has promised us. As the Israelites were more fruitful under the persecutions and oppositions, so we frequently find it to be with the spiritual Israel, that not only the zeal increases, but numbers also increase, as well as “fruits of the spirit,” under persecutions and difficulties.
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CONCERNING THE CLOSING OF THE CALL
A BROTHER wrote us on this question recently, and a portion of our reply may be of interest to others and hence we present it below. We wrote him:—
Respecting restitution: We have held from the first, or at last, since 1881, that we are in “the times of restitution” now; and that the opening features of restitution work will be manifested in the downfall and destruction of the things pertaining to this present order, making ready for the new order of things. We have given the illustration in first and second “Dawns” of how the new order of things might be compared to the beginning of a contract for the substitution of a new building for an old one—that the first evidences of the work would be those of destruction, the pulling down of the old. We still hold this, and hold that this is all that we should expect—that we should not expect personal, physical restitution now. Some years ago we had the impression that possibly some signs of physical restitution to humanity would be due in this “harvest” or lapping period; but all question on this subject is dispelled for years past, as we have seen most clearly that the new order of things and its blessing must wait until the entire “body” of the Great Priest has been completed—until the entire work of atonement has been finished—then the High Priest, head and body complete, will lift up his hands and bless the people, in glorious garments,—i.e., clothed in the majesty of divine power and authority as the foretold Prophet, Priest and King in one.
Some years ago we were less careful than now in the use of language respecting the restitution times, in mentioning that coming condition as a “call” to restitution. We should have been more particular, more specific, and should have said that the “Trumpet of the Jubilee” would be blown, announcing the beginning of restitution times. This work is now being done, through the Watch Tower literature, etc. The Jubilee Trumpet is not a call, in the ordinary sense of the word call, but rather an announcement; the Lord will announce his Kingdom and its blessed regulations, and will expect every one to yield implicit compliance; and those who do not yield compliance will receive “stripes;” and if still persistent will “be destroyed from amongst the people.” This thought is very different from the thought of a call, as that term applied during the Gospel age, when the matter was open to each who heard to either accept or reject the high calling and its “narrow way.”
Respecting consecration before 1881 being necessary to a share in the high calling: We must admit that all who were consecrated in 1881, when the general call ceased (because the full number had accepted which would complete the elect class) would have a precedence over any others: Indeed, that no others could be accepted to the “Bride” position in any sense, except as some of these already consecrated ones should be accounted unworthy, and their places and crowns vacated. (Rev. 3:5,11.) But since it requires all of these consecrated ones to complete the elect number, it follows that any who would be accepted to take their places must make their consecration and be accepted of the Lord subsequent to 1881.
We are to remember, moreover, that justified believers are accounted “holy,” and their justification is specifically designated in this way in several instances. For instance, the Apostle says, “I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God,” etc. And again, “Else were your children unholy; but now are they holy“—children one or both of whose parents are the Lord’s children. It is from this class of justified ones that we should expect the Lord to accept the number necessary to complete the elect number—to take the places of those who in 1881 were in a consecrated attitude, but who, because of unfaithfulness since, will be rejected from
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the “Bride” class, to have their portion either with the second company, “saved so as by fire,” or with those who sin wilfully and deliberately, and thus incur the “Second Death” penalty. We should, therefore, look for those who would now come into divine favor and joint-heirship with Christ amongst this class—amongst those who were already justified in October, 1881, or amongst the children of such as were justified at that time; though we may not know nor say that others may not have become eligible by a more recent justification.
Since the general “call” ceased October, 1881, although the “door” is not yet shut, but stands ajar for some to pass out who fail to keep their covenant, and for others to pass in to take their places, that the predestinated number may attain the prize, and yet that none shall attain to it except such as are copies of God’s dear Son, in heart, in intention—it is impossible for us to make positive promises of joint-heirship in the Kingdom to any who may consecrate their lives to the Lord at the present time. All that we can say to them is that consecration is their reasonable service in any event, and that if the Lord shall manifest his acceptance of their sacrifice it would be proper for them to consider this an evidence that they had been accepted of the Lord to all the rights and privileges of such sacrificers as made their consecration before the general call ceased.
As to what would constitute evidences of divine acceptance, we suggest two, the enjoyment of both of which would seem to us a good basis for full assurance
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of faith on this point. (1) God’s acceptance of the sacrifice might be reasonably inferred if the consecrated one finds opportunities for self-sacrifice, self-denials, etc., in the service of the Lord, of the truth and of the brethren—however humble the service or opportunities for “laying down our lives for the brethren.” (2) God’s acceptance of the sacrifice should in the present time imply not only a begetting of the spirit of holiness, but also an ability to appreciate clearly the spiritual features of the divine plan, represented by the light of the golden candle-stick in the “Holy,” and by the shew-bread, and by the privileges of communion and service represented by the incense at the golden altar.
Whoever has these two evidences has what we think he should consider a satisfactory proof that he is inside the first vail of the Tabernacle, that he is therefore counted for the time being at least as a member of the High Priest’s body. And such, we believe, should consider themselves as fully eligible to the prize as any upon the race-course, upon condition of faithfulness even unto death. It will be noticed, however, that we distinguish between an appreciation of spiritual things and appreciation of restitution and earthly things merely. We believe that the “natural man,” under favorable conditions, may appreciate a great deal of the divine provision for the world, and that it is the spiritual things which God has specially in reservation for the little flock, which can be appreciated only by those begotten of the spirit. This does not mean that the natural man cannot understand what we mean when we discuss spiritual things; but that, as the Apostle declares, though he understands what we say, our words are “foolishness unto him,” he cannot grasp them as truth, and as applicable to himself.
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HE WAS A GOODLY CHILD
—EXOD. 2:1-10.—NOV. 17—
“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.”—Prov. 22:6
EVERY CHILD is not born a Moses, and no amount of training would make him his equal as a man. We have everything to say in accord with the Golden Text, and not a word in opposition; nevertheless, the foundation for greatness must be laid before the birth. It is a great mistake made by many—and one to which they are assisted by false theological views—that each child is a special creation of God, so that, if an idiot, God may be blamed; and if well endowed and balanced mentally and physically, God receives the credit. The Scriptural proposition is to the contrary of this, viz., that all God’s work is perfect (Deut. 32:4)—that Adam was his workmanship, and that he is not responsible for the defects and imperfections which more or less mar every member of our race. In a sense, of course, all that we have, even though imperfect, is of God, since he is the author of all life and indirectly our Creator.—Exod. 4:11.
But our defects are explained to us in the Scriptures to be the results of sin, and the natural development of its death penalty, working in the race under the laws of heredity. We are all born in sin, shapen in iniquity, in sin did our mothers conceive us. (Psa. 51:5.) But we are not all born in the same degree of degradation. While fallen parents cannot bring forth a perfect offspring they can, and sometimes do, produce types higher than themselves. This is accomplished by a law of nature affecting the mental conditions of the parents, and especially of the mother (and she is always susceptible to favorable or unfavorable mental and moral influences from her husband) during the period of gestation.
According to this divine law, therefore, parents are to a considerable degree responsible for the prominent traits of character in their children. If this matter were more thoroughly understood, more fully appreciated by parents, the result would be a great improvement in the natural quality of the children born. The husband would endeavor to make the surroundings favorable to the highest emotions and sentiments and aspirations on the part of his wife; who, in turn, would co-operate and set her affections on noble and good and pure and generous things, with meekness; and the result would surely be the birth of children much more resembling Moses than the majority do—in nobleness of character combined with humility.
Nothing herein stated, however, is intended to encourage the begetting of children by the Lord’s
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consecrated people living in this “harvest” time. That begotten and born of the flesh is flesh; while that begotten and born of the spirit is spirit. (John 3:6.) The “new creatures” in Christ Jesus have a still higher and grander work before them than the producing of even perfect children, were such a matter possible. They have the privilege of co-operation with God in the development of the “new creatures,” the spiritual sons of God: and like our Lord and the apostles they prefer this highest of all privileges. Not that we dispute for a moment the Apostle’s word: “Marriage is honorable in all;” but that we emphasize with him that he that marrieth doeth well, but he that marrieth not doeth better. (1 Cor. 7:38; Heb. 13:4.) So now we emphasize that he that brings forth natural children of the highest type does well, but he that co-operates with God for the begetting of spiritual sons does better.
Our information respecting the birth and childhood of Moses is very meager. We know that his father’s name was Amram, which signifies “Noble people.” His mother’s name was Jochebed, which signifies, “Jehovah is glorious.” Though they were Hebrews, and as a race in bondage to the Egyptians, these names imply that this family of the tribe of Levi were persons of moral and religious sentiments—noble people in the proper sense of the word. This is implied also in the Apostle’s statement, that they acted from faith.—Heb. 11:23.
As we saw in a previous lesson, the Egyptian rulers of the new dynasty were fearful that the rapid increase of the Hebrews would ultimately mean that they would become the dominant race, or else that they would take their departure—as, indeed, they expected to do, according to the traditions which they reverenced, and which instructed them respecting the time of their sojourn in Egypt, and of the promise of God respecting their ultimate deliverance, by the interposition of his power. The Egyptians did not wish to lose the Hebrew people, as their efficiency as laborers had been demonstrated, and as they were profitable to the Egyptians in the way of trade. They neither wished to drive them away nor to kill them off. What they did desire was that they should not increase so rapidly. To hinder this phenomenal increase various expedients were tried, none of them effective; and finally, as a repressive measure, an edict went forth that all the male children of the Hebrews should be put to death, the intention evidently being the curtailment of the race for a time only, permitting children to be born later on.
It was about this time that Moses was born; evidently there had been no such restriction at the time Aaron, his elder brother, was born. Moses was the third in the family; his sister, Miriam, the second, was the little maid mentioned in our lesson. The babe Moses was secreted by his mother for three months, in violation of the king’s command, and at the risk of her own life as well as his; and the reason given is that she perceived that he was a goodly child—fine-looking, giving promise of the great man which he afterward became. The Apostle declares that the parents had faith—not faith in the child, nor yet in themselves, nor in the king; but faith in God, that he would bless and preserve the child; and we cannot doubt that this faith was accompanied by prayer to the Lord. We cannot doubt that even before the child was born, under such peculiar circumstances, the godly, faithful parents consecrated it to the Lord, to be trained for him, and instructed to the best of their ability, and to be the Lord’s servant to whatever extent he would be pleased to use him. Without some such hopes and prayers the faith which the Apostle mentions would be inappropriate. Faith and prayers and consecrations usually go together, hand in hand, anyway,—both as respects ourselves, our children, and all with which we have to do.
It was a very shrewd device which the parents adopted for the child’s preservation, and it either shows a divine guidance or an inventive mind, with a good knowledge of human nature, or all of these. Moses’ parents read human nature well when they concluded that the princess of Egypt, if she found the babe at the time of the taking of her bath (perhaps a religious rite), would be sure to be touched, and her heart appealed to by any child, and especially by so “goodly” a boy. It was a cunning arrangement, too, to have Miriam, his sister, nearby, at the time of the finding of the babe in the bulrush basket, and to have her suggest the getting of a Hebrew woman to nurse the child, and then getting his own mother. Undoubtedly the Lord’s hand and wisdom were behind the entire matter; but even so, it teaches us the lesson that God is pleased to use human instrumentalities in the accomplishment of his purposes.
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The parents did right to exercise their ingenuity for the preservation of their child, at the same time that they exercised faith in the Lord. And so with us: our faith is not to be of the indolent kind which refuses to act, and would thus fail to be in the way to be used of the Lord; but rather ours also is to be a faith manifested by works. It is such faith that the Lord is pleased to bless.
The princess is supposed to have been Neferari, the wife of Rameses II, and daughter of the preceding monarch;—all Egyptian kings being called Pharaoh. She adopted the waif as her own son, yet was willing that he should be nurtured in a Hebrew home for a time—it is presumed, until he was either seven or twelve years of age; after which she had him brought to the royal palace and instructed in all the wisdom and learning of the Egyptians. How apt the thought of the poet in respect to Moses’ case when he says:
“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform!”
How appropriate it was that the leader of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, as a type of the great Messiah, should be an educated or learned man; and yet how still more necessary it was that he should first have well fixed in his mind, in infancy and childhood, the basic principles of religion; and how marvelously the Lord arranged for both of these elements of his education. We cannot doubt that the parents, whose faith already had been manifested, would instruct the boy in respect to the Abrahamic promises, in which they trusted; viz., that as the seed of Abraham they were ultimately to be great, and to be used as the Lord’s channels for blessing all the families of the earth; and that, as foretold to Abraham, the time
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when the Lord would bring his people forth from Egyptian bondage with a high hand and an outstretched arm of power was well nigh up. He was no doubt, thoroughly informed respecting his relationship to the Israelites, and no doubt not only faith in the promises, but a patriotic feeling of devotion to his people was liberally inculcated—because these qualities stand out nobly throughout his entire life, as they could not do unless they had been thoroughly implanted and cherished.
Comparatively few parents seem to realize the privileges and responsibilities placed within their hands in connection with their own offspring. The Christian mother who has a growing family has certainly a wide scope for the use of all her talents, if she will but use them, in giving instructions in righteousness and in the reverence of the Lord, to her little ones. And it is a mistake frequently made, to suppose that children cannot appreciate religious principles, and that therefore they should not be given even “the milk of the word,” or primary lessons along the lines of the divine law. We believe, on the contrary, that while children are born with a certain amount of depravity and predilection to evil, nevertheless, their little minds are in a large measure blank pages, upon which principles either for good or for evil are sure to be deeply engraved. If their minds be not directed in the lines of justice and mercy and love and patience, and if they be not taught that these are the divine requirements, and their reasonable service, we may be sure that they will be taught the reverse of these, as they come in contact with the various depraving influences of life—the world, the flesh, the devil. Those parents who consider their children to be each a little garden-spot, and who faithfully plant in these the seeds of justice and love and patience and meekness and gentleness, and all the fruits of the spirit, to the extent that they may be able, will be sure to find a rich reward in the graces of character that will result, under the Lord’s blessing—especially if the children have been consecrated to him from infancy, or better, before birth.
On the contrary, those who do not take the time to implant the seeds which would produce these graces, these mental and moral flowerets, will find, even as with an earthly garden, that it will not stay vacant until maturer years have come, and a more convenient season; but, instead, noxious weeds of evil disposition will grow, flourish, go to seed repeatedly, and bring forth bitter fruitage, to vex not only the individual himself, but also the parent, and society in general. Let each parent, therefore, so far as possible, see to it that any children he may bring forth will be “goodly,” well-favored, by helpful pre-natal influences; and let him see to it also that having assumed the responsibilities of a parent he does good work in these little gardens, which are under his care—that the weeds of error are promptly plucked, and that the seeds of good are liberally sown.
Although Moses was born over thirty-six hundred years ago, and therefore comparatively near to the time when the evolution theory claims that man was only “one step above a monkey,” we find that not only was he a wonderful child and a wonderful man—even before the Lord specially blessed him in making him the leader of Israel, and putting his power upon him—but we find also high standards of mental and moral attainment amongst his people—the Hebrew Joseph, for instance. We find, additionally, that in Moses’ time there was a distinct and well-advanced civilization amongst the Egyptians. For instance, the city of Zoan, one of the capitals of Egypt, near which Moses was born and reared, is shown by modern research to have been a most wonderful city—as compared with modern times. Of it a celebrated writer says: “The ruins show it to have been a marvelous city, the Athens of Egypt. An Egyptian poet of that day says of Zoan: ‘She is beautiful, beautiful! Nothing like her is found amongst the monuments of Thebes—the very secret of pleasures of life. Her bowers bloom with gardens. Each garden is perfumed with the smell of honey. Her granaries are full of wheat. Flowers for nosegays are in the houses. Her ships come and go every day. The joys have fixed their seat there.'” And concerning the development of literature and arts in that day our quotations further on will show that they were far advanced.
If as a child Moses was remarkable and attractive, so that Stephen calls him “exceeding fair” or margin “fair to God” (Acts 7:20), signifying refined, elegant; and if it be true, as Josephus says, that those who met him as he was carried along the streets forgot their business, and stood still to gaze at him, we may well suppose that his early training by pious parents, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and his subsequent instruction “in all the learning of the Egyptians,” as the adopted son of the monarch—the result must have been a very noble, refined and handsome man. And yet, strange to say, that with all these accomplishments by nature and education, he is described to us as having been “the meekest man in all the earth.” Who can doubt that this very quality of meekness was largely inculcated by the poverty of his parents, and their subjection to bondage, and the humble sentiments inspired by their consecration of Moses to the Lord from the time of his begetting? Certain it is that very rarely are those who are the natural children of princes and rulers humble-minded. Yet this meekness was another of the qualities essential to Moses as the leader of God’s people. As it was, we find that his forty years’ dealing with the Israelites in the wilderness, as their leader and the mediator of their covenant with God, so far overcame the meekness of Moses that he was hindered from entering the promised land, because he took to himself, instead of ascribing to God, some of the credit of bringing water out of the rock, saying, “Ye rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?”—smiting the rock.
Under all circumstances we must think it very remarkable that a man so really great, and occupying so exalted a position for such a length of time, should have overcome the haughty “spirit of princes” in which he was reared, and have maintained his meekness with so slight an exception down to the very close of his career. We may well ask ourselves what would have been the result had God chosen for the leader of Israel a man who was naturally haughty and proud, or any other man than one who was very
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meek indeed. No other than a meek character could possibly have stood such a strain as Moses so grandly and so faithfully endured. There is a lesson for the Lord’s people here. The Mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus, was also meek and lowly of heart, and those whom God is now calling from the world to be joint-heirs with Jesus, members of his body—as the great anti-type of Moses, to lead mankind out of the bondage of sin and Satan—these all must have likeness to their Lord and Head in this quality of meekness, if they would attain to his general character in other respects. We do well to remember continually the Apostle’s injunction, that we “Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt us in due time”—so that we may be meet [fit] for the inheritance, the Kingdom.
Concerning Moses and the educational opportunities of his time, secular history gives us some intimations. The library of Rameseum at Thebes—over whose gate was the inscription, “For the healing of the soul”—contained twenty thousand books, and it is significant as indicating the intellectual activity of that time, that this structure was built by Rameses II, by whose wife Moses is supposed to have been adopted. Stephen declares (Acts 7:22) that “Moses was both mighty in words and in deeds,” and Stanley’s
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“Jewish Church” says respecting him,—”He learned arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, medicine and music. He invented boats, and engines for building, instruments of war and of hydraulics, hieroglyphics, division of lands.” It declares further that he taught Orpheus, and was hence called by the Greeks Musaeus, and by the Egyptians Hermes.
We know not how substantial is the basis for these traditions, but we do know that they are not of accord with the Scriptural records of Moses as a great leader. A lesson for us to learn in this connection is that God has his own way of preparing for all the various features of his own great plan. He knew the praying people who, at the proper time, brought forth their son. He knew how to direct so that the child, the youth, the man, should be an instrument ready for his own purposes; and yet in all of the divine dealings, here as elsewhere, we notice that God does not coerce those whom he uses for his work; but that rather he uses instruments ready, willing, desirous of being used. Let us each, therefore, seek by humility, by zeal, by love for the Lord and for his cause, by faith in his power, to be in that condition of heart and mind which will make us ready to be used, and useful in any department of the divine service to which the Lord may be pleased to call us.
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THE PARABOLIC VINEYARD WASTED
—ISAIAH 5.—NOV. 24.—
Golden Text: “Woe unto them who are mighty to drink wine”
APPARENTLY our Lord had in mind the parable of the vineyard presented in the first seven verses of this chapter, in the parable which he gave, recorded in Matt. 21:33-44. In both parables the vineyard represents the Jewish polity, and the vines represent the people, especially such as were in influence and power—the leaders.
Both parables show a lack of the proper influence of the truth which had been granted them, upon the hearts of the Jewish people. The Lord’s favor and the knowledge of his goodness as it had reached them, had not brought forth pleasant fruit, but that which was acrid and bitter—had not brought forth love, but selfishness, and self-indulgence. This is set forth in verse 7. Having given Israel his law, instructing them through it respecting right and wrong in their dealings with each other, the Lord had reason to expect “judgment,” that is, justice; but he beheld oppression. He beheld that those who had the greatest knowledge of righteousness were still exercised by a spirit of selfishness to the extent that they took advantage of their more ignorant brethren. The Lord says that when he looked for righteousness, peace, and prosperity, behold a cry arose to him from the oppressed—from those who under the social order of things failed to get their reasonable and legitimate share of the bounties which the Lord had freely granted.
An intimation respecting the method of this oppression is given in verse 8, in the words, “Woe unto them that join house to house, and lay field to field, till there be no place [for the poor to occupy], that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!” The description represents a condition of things very similar to that which we are told now obtains in Great Britain, and indeed throughout Europe, where large estates are held by private owners, and thus withdrawn from the use and occupancy of the people in general. Landlordism seems also to be included in the thought—adding house to house. The Lord in another place declares respecting the future, “They shall no more build and another inhabit, no more plant and another eat the fruit thereof;” which may be understood to signify that in the future time of the Lord’s Kingdom, houses will be built for the owners’ occupancy—and not to be rented.
It will be observed that we do not consider this lesson to be a “temperance lesson” in the ordinary sense of that term,—but a rebuke of the Lord against intemperance of every form—intemperate selfishness, etc. Moreover, although the parable and general lesson connected with it was addressed originally to the Jews, it appears to us, like many other Scriptures, to have a deep signification and meaning in respect to the Gospel Church, spiritual Israel, as well as for natural Israel. Indeed, as we have heretofore seen, natural Israel was in all its affairs, and the messages sent to it, a type of spiritual Israel, and hence all the things written and done toward and respecting the typical nation, should be understood as having a higher and deeper application to the anti-typical nominal spiritual Israel—”Babylon”—of to-day.
At no time probably has there been a greater disposition than at the present to add field to field, and house to house—to amass wealth, and to control the land and machinery, and all sources of wealth and
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power. The Lord says that woe is coming upon this class, and this announcement is in fullest accord with the various declarations of the Scriptures which point out that the great “day of vengeance” is near at hand; and that it will be a time of severe trouble upon the whole world, but especially upon the rich. The Lord’s warning is that surely many houses shall be desolate, and that even great and fine residences shall be without occupants. (Vs. 9.) The thought apparently is that the time of trouble of which we read that “they shall cast their gold and silver into the streets, but it shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s anger,” will be especially against the great who live in earthly palaces, and who for safety’s sake will desert these or be destroyed during the period of anarchy.—Ezek. 7:19.
This spirit of acquisitiveness which lies at the foundation of all the trouble is to be found in every land, but nowhere more than in so-called “Christendom,” and Christendom alone is evidently referred to in the prophecy, except as it may also have applied to fleshly Israel in the harvest time of the Jewish age, in which similar “wrath to the uttermost” in anarchy came upon that typical people. The fact is that large plantations and farms are managed by employees instead of each person planting and reaping on his own account: it is intimated that by and by this will lead to serious results. When the present social fabric breaks up, and there is “no hire for man nor hire for beast,” and “no peace to him that goeth out, nor to him that cometh in,” because every man’s hand is against his neighbor,—then the large farms and plantations will be at a serious disadvantage, and the yield will be correspondingly diminished.
Verses 11,12-22, mention wine and strong drink. We concede that literal wine and intoxicating liquors in general are a dreadful bane to Christendom; we concede that many who occupy influential positions, as well as a mighty host of the common people, are greatly injured by intoxicating liquors. We urge and warn all of the Lord’s people against this evil, insidious, and contaminating influence. However, we are not certain that the Lord here refers exclusively to literal intoxicating liquors. It is true, at least, that there is another kind of intoxication that is very prevalent at the present time: it is scripturally termed the wine of Babylon: it produces an intoxication along religious lines, and hinders people from discerning and comprehending the divine Word, character and plan. It is the wine of Churchianity, which confuses those who use it, and beclouds their minds in this respect to the true Christianity. It addles their judgment and brings the people into captivity to false doctrines and false teachers, “because they have no knowledge,”—verse 13.
Concerning this symbolic wine and intoxication, the Lord declares that Babylon has “made all the nations [inhabitants of the earth] drunken” with the wine of her incontinency and unfaithfulness to Him. (Rev. 17:2; 18:3.) The stimulating power is not the spirit of a sound mind, but the delusion of a false doctrine; as the Prophet declares, they are “drunken,” but not with wine.—Isa. 29:9-13.
Instruments of joy and praise they do indeed employ, often spending much money upon grand pipe organs wherewith they would praise the Lord, even in the delirium of their false conception of his character and plan; as it is written, “but they regard not the word of the Lord, neither the operation of his hands.” They are not looking to see what the Lord is doing, nor inquiring to know concerning the mighty work which he is about to accomplish in the setting up of his Kingdom; and hence to them the overthrow of Babylon and the confusion and anarchy incidental to the establishment of the Kingdom will be as the same Prophet declares, God’s “strange act,” “strange work.”—Isa. 28:21.
“Because the people have no knowledge,” they are consumed with thirst at the present time. The wine of false doctrine has produced erroneous views of various questions, and with the incidental bemuddled condition of the mind there comes at the present time a thirst for more knowledge, and for explanations and for consistency which their teachers cannot satisfy. The people in general have lost their taste
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and appreciation for the water of life, the truth; and false teachers warn them against it as poison. The wine of false doctrines now being manufactured at all the Theological Seminaries is the wine of evolution and higher criticism, which does not satisfy the thirst, but increases the confusion of mind, and makes null every attempt to appreciate and comprehend the divine plan, as set forth in God’s Word. Even Babylon’s notables are dissatisfied, famished.—See Amos 8:11.
Verses 14-17 show the end of the matter. The grave figuratively opens her mouth to swallow these up; and in the time of trouble, unquestionably, large numbers will perish literally from the earth. But sheol, the grave, will specially enlarge, in that it will take into it more than human beings: it will take into it the great octopus system of Babylon, with its many heads and many arms, financial, political, social, religious, etc. In that day of trouble, all classes will be humbled together, and the Lord and his righteousness will be exalted in the sight of mankind.
Verses 18-23 take us back again to point out the peculiarities of some who are prominent in the evil of this time, and who will bring special woes upon themselves. These are not those who are beset by temptations and yield through weaknesses resulting from the fall; but such as greedily take hold of sin and in-equity, through their vanity and self conceit. They deceive themselves into supposing that they are hastening the Lord’s work, and that they are acting under the counsel of the Lord in their various sectarian enterprises; but the fact is that they are not in the condition of mind to appreciate the Lord’s counsel, being drunken with false doctrine. Hence it is that they call evil good, and good evil, and put darkness for light, and light for darkness, and bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter, and are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight, mighty in respect to their own wine of false doctrine.
What could better compare with this matter of calling evil good, and good evil, than is general when the word gospel is used. The meaning of gospel is “good tidings;” but that which Babylon calls gospel is most awfully bad tidings—the announcement that nearly all the world of mankind (all except a little
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flock) are to go to eternal torment. And when the real good tidings is announced, we find these same persons drunken with the wine of false doctrine, rabid in their denunciation, calling it “nocturnal hallucinations.” Do they not indeed put light for darkness, and darkness for light? Do they not indeed label “poison” the true message of the divine plan, and label “gospel,” that which is the most awful and bitter dose that human intellect could be asked to accept with joy? Indeed, as a Presbyterian minister expressed it—”You must not attempt to masticate our doctrines, for if you do you can never swallow them; they are in this respect like a Brandreth pill.” And yet this bitter dose, of which reason would forbid the swallowing, is misnamed sweet, heavenly truth.
But do the ministers of Babylon show any disposition to justify the wicked for reward, or to take away the righteousness of the righteous from him? Yes, frequently; for instance, not long ago a brother in the West, who had accepted the true gospel, the true light, the sweet story of divine love, wisdom, and power, died. The Lutheran minister called upon the family (formerly attendants and members of his church), and without even waiting to be invited to preach the funeral discourse, said that, of course, he would be prohibited from preaching the funeral sermon, as it would be contrary to the rules of the church. The Brother had always been a consistent Lutheran, and after receiving the truth gave good evidence of his profession of being sanctified thereby,—yet in this way, and by derogatory statements, this minister of the gospel of eternal torment attempted to take away his righteousness from him. Indeed many Christian people have found to their surprise that, after leaving the nominal church, the special pillars of the same are ready to say all manner of evil against them falsely—or, at least, to imply evil. The same Lutheran minister a little later on was invited to preach at the funeral of a notoriously unregenerate man, and he accepted the invitation with alacrity, and, of course, in his discourse tried to justify the wicked, the reward probably being the influence upon the family, and in favor of the denomination.
Verses 24-30, describe the great time of trouble now impending, in which, the Lord’s great army shall overthrow Babylon and plow deeply with sorrow and tribulation the hearts of mankind, and make the world ready for the new dispensation, the Millennial Kingdom. See “The Day of Vengeance“—Millennial Dawn, Vol. IV.
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FRIENDS
Dear Brother Russell:—
Your answers to my questions, and the little extra, “Things Whereof Ye Wrote unto Me,” are in accordance with my views on the subject, and also what I had expected from you, after carefully reading your article in the July number of the Watch Tower, 1893, on the relationship of man and wife, with which Sister Stovel and myself were much delighted at the time it was published. It entirely coincided with our views on such relationship, which opinion neither of us have had the slightest reason to change in the slightest degree. Indeed we had positively refused to believe the whole of what we had heard of your opinions and advice; but as assertions were made to the contrary, I thought before denying them, to get your direct word upon the subject, feeling quite sure that if I was in error, you had good scriptural ground for your opinion.
I have not seen Sister Stovel since she came back from Cleveland Convention; but to-day I received a long letter from her, informing me of the glorious time you all had there, and expressing herself as not only much delighted with the meetings, but as greatly benefited and strengthened for her journey along the narrow way towards her now dearer Lord and Redeemer, than ever. She also says that undoubtedly all enjoyed like blessings with her. I deeply regret not having been able to be present and to participate in such a foretaste of the joys set before us.
I ask your continued prayers, dear Brother, that I may be supplied with an abundance of strength from the throne of the heavenly grace, to keep firmly, steadily, and courageously treading the narrow way, and finally be found worthy, in my Redeemer, of a conqueror’s crown.
I ask God’s blessing upon you in your many trials and labors in the cause of the truth, and continued striving to build up and assist the members of the body of Christ.
Yours in the love of Christ,
Many thanks for the parcel of “meat in due season,” which I was able partly to dispense this morning. First I distributed to about 200 houses, and afterwards to about the same number of persons leaving places of worship in the town. God grant that some of his dear hungering children may be even now feasting on the health-giving, satisfying, present truth!
I am with you in the meeting now commencing, and would that I were actually present. Give my love to all the brethren. God bless you and all who love the Lord in sincerity and truth.
Yours in Him, W. S.,
You will, I am sure, pardon the liberty I take in writing to you. To-day there fell into my hands a booklet which I read with the deepest interest, and I feel sure, profit. I notice on the last page you very kindly offer free copies for friends of readers, and further reading matter. If not asking too much, I would esteem it a favor if you would send me some copies for distribution among my Christian friends. I feel that this booklet has come as a message to be honored, and I pray God to bless your labors abundantly.
Yours faithfully in Christ,
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ANOTHER SWISS HELPER
Dear Brethren in Christ:—
Am sorry I cannot write in English. Am a Swiss. About 27 years ago I was converted. Constrained by the love of Christ, I worked for six years in the Lord’s vineyard, and also followed my profession and had much joy and peace in the Lord and in his work. The Lord led me into the Baptist church where I labored for 27 years with joy. I did not think that anything would ever separate me from it. In 1880 I entered the Theological Seminary in Hamburg. In 1884 I received several calls from Baptist churches, and thought it God’s will that I should accept a call to a church in Breslau, where I felt the Lord’s blessing upon me. While I was there a large church was built with a seating capacity of 600. In Breslau Catholicism is very strong. Among the 280 that I was permitted to baptize on profession of their faith, one-third were Catholics. In 1893 I received a call to one of the largest Baptist churches in Germany, at Konigsberg in Prussia. A new chapel was built and meetings were held in 16 places in the country. During the three and three-fourths years of my stay, about 500 were converted and baptized. Three other brothers labored there beside myself; two in the country and one in the city. Then I received a call to Zurich, my mother-country, where the work had been progressing slowly. Considering the call as coming from the Lord I accepted it. The congregation was small, but with great joy I labored there 5 years, and built a chapel and residence. There, also, I was permitted to baptize 200 on profession of their faith, among them some Catholics.
About four months ago I received “Millennial Dawn,” Vol. I. I read the book with deep interest and blessing. Sent for the three succeeding volumes and several pamphlets, and have read them through. I am deeply convinced as to the truthfulness of this work. My biblical and theological convictions have been corrected in a manner and degree I had never before experienced. I felt that honesty and humility were necessary that I might give due honor to these truths, and God has granted me these. I hear that the leader of a faith and prayer-cure institution, one of the most influential men in Switzerland, and who is considered a high authority, has denounced the book (Millennial Dawn), and has burned many. Have done much searching for the last 27 years respecting matters referring to the consummation of the age, and endeavored to be watchful of the signs of the times. It is due to this fact, in part, that I so highly prize this book and am determined to study it very carefully with the Bible, and to proclaim the truths so important to our times. I have commenced to do so in my congregation, but have learned what I formerly did not know, that even the Baptist church has traditions and confessions which prevent free searching and preaching of the truth. When I was told by my congregation that there were certain limits and rules which I could not overstep, I told them I would permit no such barriers to be placed around me, and resigned my position as Baptist minister. It seemed plain to me that this was God’s will concerning me, though I do not know how he will lead me in the future. I have four children, 15, 12, 10 and 6 years, respectively. October is my time to leave and my successor will take my place. I am now waiting on the Lord to do as he may direct. This is not easy, as I am not a man of means, but I am persuaded the Lord will lead me aright. When my former congregation in Konigsberg heard that I had resigned, they extended a call to me with the assurance they would build a third chapel if I would come. But I do not feel free to accept. To me it is clear that I must not again be connected with any congregation, but should stand free, in order to declare the whole truth, as it is now due and now needed.
Have recently been reading a new book by a Swiss theologian, Reinhardt. The author endeavors to demonstrate from a philosophical standpoint what “Dawn” presents from the standpoint of divine revelation. In many respects there is a striking similarity between this book and “Dawn.” But Reinhardt is a rationalist, and believes the theory of evolution, and consequently is in error. He speaks of Chas. T. Russell in his book, the author of “Dawn,” but cannot say more than “he believes too firmly in the inspiration of the Scriptures.”
For a time before reading “Dawn,” I thought of entering Dowie’s Zion work, and wrote to Dowie,
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but as yet I have received no reply; but since reading “Dawn,” I feel that the Lord has another way for me, and other duties. My desire at present is—I should like to have a year for quiet and study, to search my Bible and spend in prayer, and thoroughly study “Dawn.” When I am thus prepared of the Lord, I would like to preach the truth, as it is now due, in the cities of Germany and Switzerland. After Paul’s conversion he had time for quiet and study; but I have been a minister for 17 years, and in the entire period have had no opportunity for rest and study, though I preached from four to five times a week. Through the study of “Dawn,” there has been a revolution in my biblical and theological opinions, and I must have time to become established before I can publicly expound these doctrines, though I have a deep conviction of their truthfulness.
As I am entirely without means, I must look to the Lord to provide the means to support my family, and this he will do if he wishes me to have the time for study. I wait for his direction. Of this I am thoroughly convinced, I cannot longer be a Baptist minister.
Permit me to enclose a photo of my wife and myself. I am 44 and my dear wife 37. Our only concern is that we may attain the high privileges to which we are called, and that we may be co-laborers during the short time that remains, in gathering the elect.
Should you consider it wise that I should go to you in America for a short time (without my family), I am ready to do so. I would be very thankful to receive an answer as soon as possible, in German writing, as October is approaching, when I must leave my home and field of labor. My desire is that God’s will may be done in me and through me. May he also direct you in the advice you may give me.
In Christian love and esteem, yours,
Jan Kradolfer, Minister,