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VOL. XXII. DECEMBER 15, 1901. No. 24
Views from the Watch Tower
Liberty Enlightening the World……………387
Federation of Methodists and
The Pope’s Views…………………………388
Watch Tower Bible and Tract
Kept for the Master’s Use……………………392
Tarrying Until Endued with
Power from on High……………………392
Speaking With Other Tongues…………………396
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LETTERS FOR THE EDITOR SHOULD BE SENT TO ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY,
“BIBLE HOUSE,” 610, 612, 614 ARCH ST., ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
BRITISH BRANCH, 131 GIPSY LANE, FOREST GATE, LONDON E. ENGLAND.
PRICE, $1.00 (4s.) A YEAR IN ADVANCE, 5c (2-1/2d.) A COPY.
MONEY MAY BE SENT BY EXPRESS, BANK DRAFT, POSTAL ORDER, OR REGISTERED.
FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS, ONLY. SPECIAL
TERMS TO THE LORD’S POOR, AS FOLLOWS:—
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.
BRITISH FRIENDS who find it more convenient may send “Good Hopes” and all orders to our London office.
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APPROVAL, WHETHER SUCCESSFUL OR NOT
We know not to what extent the Lord may be pleased to use and bless our united efforts to keep open the door of opportunity afforded by present favorable postal laws. But in any event we feel sure that he will appreciate our humble efforts in this direction. Any who have not yet written to the President, as suggested in our issue of Nov. 15th, we advise to do so at once. Let us do our part and then rest content. The law is there, all right, and even the humblest foreigner has a right to appeal to it, and for its benefits; and to protest against its violation. But there we will let it stop. If protest is unavailing we will reckon that it is the Lord’s will that we endure the wrong cheerfully.
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BEGIN THE NEW YEAR PROPERLY
As soon as each little group has chosen its leaders, advise us, and if “Pilgrim” visits are desired, answer the queries propounded in our last issue, page 2. Mention your places and hours of meetings, also.
If you desire the visits of the Watch Tower continued, advise us promptly please; whether you can send the subscription price or not.
MARKED NEW TESTAMENTS
We have been much disappointed by the publishers of the Marked New Testament. They have been promising us books for nearly six months but have none ready yet. All waiting orders will be filled promptly as possible when they come to us.
“ZION’S GLAD SONGS” IS OUT OF PRINT
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
“LIBERTY ENLIGHTENING THE WORLD”
WE HAVE no sympathy with Count Tolstoy’s unscriptural religious views for which he was ex-communicated by the Greek Catholic Church; yet we note with surprise that his published reply to his ex-communication has been forbidden sale by the Public Prosecutor of Leipsic, Germany. A cable dispatch to the New York Sun says:
“The reason given for the seizure is that the work is calculated to bring the Church into contempt, and the prosecutor’s action is based on a paragraph of the German penal code, which imposes a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment on anybody publicly insulting one of the Christian churches or other religious communities enjoying in Germany the privileges of a corporation. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the incident is that Count Tolstoy’s indignant reply to his ex-communicators is allowed to circulate in Russia, the Holy Synod refraining from prosecution, while the officials of the country which indorsed Luther’s protest against the Roman Church seek to extinguish the words of the Russian reformer.”
There are any number of people, in all countries, of similarly narrow soul we have every reason to believe. Fallen human nature though not inclined to claim for itself perfection, loves to wield power and to destroy its enemies or those against whom it is prejudiced; although uncertain as to what is truth it is ready to decide what is error upon very slight evidence.
Who can doubt that God’s providence held back America until the due time, when its discovery opened a door of freedom for the oppressed and priest-and king-ridden of Europe. “Liberty enlightening the world” has been a fact for now more than a century. No well-informed person will doubt that much of the liberty enjoyed by the peoples of Europe to-day are the result of the influence which has gone back to the “fatherland” from the liberty-loving people who commingling here have learned to think more justly and more broadly than they or their fathers could think under their old environments.
Custom becomes law: the illustration of American liberty with prosperity compels a liberty in Europe which otherwise would not exist to-day. But it looks as though the pendulum has swung its full length liberty-ward, even in America, and as though it had started in a return movement. We believe that the next few years will witness a serious curtailment of liberty on the part of those in power, and that the general spirit of liberty and alertness to its defense is so deficient among the masses, here as well as in Europe, that its wings will be clipped rapidly, in the name of law, order, expediency—until the people finally awakening to the situation, in fear of a return to complete serfdom will revolt in anarchy.
How comforting the thought that the bright lining to this cloud is the Millennial Kingdom which will promptly be established on the ruins of “the present evil world”—on the ashes of present civil, religious, political institutions. We who thus hope for the salvation of the world which God has promised can possess our souls in peace as respects these matters, waiting and hoping for a share in the new order of things—the new heavens and new earth—wherein will dwell righteousness.—2 Pet. 3:13.
FEDERATION OF METHODISTS, AND OTHERS
Rev. Dr. George Elliott, pastor of the Central Methodist Episcopal Church, who has just returned from attendance upon the Methodist Ecumenical conference in London, England, says that the recent assembly was especially marked by its constant response to spiritual religion and by the utter absence of dogmatism. Perhaps the most important matter that came before the assembly, which consisted of some 500 Methodists from all over the world, was that of church unity. As a result of the ecumenical conference, held in Baltimore ten years ago, all the Australian Methodists are now united in a single body. At the late conference in London all the smaller English bodies signified their willingness to unite with the Wesleyan church, which is the strongest
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branch of the denomination in the British Isles. Dr. Elliott thinks the outlook good for a consolidation, or at least for a federation, of the different branches.
The advance in this direction, however, was not so noticeable among the delegates from the United States, although some progress was made. The delegates from the Methodist Episcopal church south, which left the main body at the opening of the civil war, had little to say on the subject.
Half a day was spent in considering the matter of a federation similar to the church federations in this country, which should include the Presbyterians, the Congregationalists, the Baptists and the Methodists. There already exists a free church catechism
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which all these denominations use in common, and to a great degree they are already joining in plans for mutual work.—Detroit Free Press.
THE POPE’S VIEWS
Die Information, the clerical organ in Vienna, says: “The pope addressed the Catholic Bishops Sunday and declared that the late President McKinley was a victim of the excessive freedom granted to the people of the United States. He urged that it was the duty of society to oppose the spread of socialism, freemasonry, Judaism and anarchism.”
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WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY’S
REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDING DECEMBER 1, 1901
“GIVE THANKS unto the Lord, for he is good!” is the expression of our hearts as we sum up the activities of the fiscal year in the harvest work—from December, 1900, to December, 1901. We have not in all respects attained to our ideals set for the year just closed, but perhaps this was partly because of our high appreciation of the work and the workers, and of a laudable ambition to have each year exceed its predecessor in efforts and in results. And indeed, as the itemized reports will show, the work in all its branches has made good progress, and in some directions has exceeded that of any previous year. We have nothing but thanks to offer to our gracious Master for the privileges enjoyed at his hands in connection with his service, the service of the truth and of the brethren—and for his blessing so richly bestowed upon our humble efforts.
ZION’S WATCH TOWER
One of the most encouraging features of the work is the substantial increase in the number of Watch Tower readers—our list now numbering about 14,000. We had hoped that by this time it would have reached 16,000; we evidently were too sanguine. The Watch Tower list may properly be regarded as a sort of barometer respecting the progress of the truth, because the terms on which it is supplied surely permit all of the interested to be on its list—there are none so poor that they cannot have it if they will but comply with the standing offer which appears on the second page of each issue. We not only offer it free to the Lord’s poor, but we offer credit to those who hope to be able to pay later; and we offer, further, that if they cannot pay later a postal card request, at any time, will secure a cancellation of the account. These being the terms we are considerably surprised to find, from time to time, many people who have considerable interest in the truth, and who have read and appreciated one or all of the Dawn volumes whose names are not on the list. An offer in our last issue we hope will correct this matter; and our proposition that each one now on the list shall act as a solicitor will, we believe, bring good results. We hope, with your co-operation, to be able to announce in our next annual report that the list has increased to sixteen thousand or above. Indeed, if each one could feel respecting this matter as we do—the importance of the regular semi-monthly visits of the Tower to those of the interested who are more or less disposed to be overcharged with the cares of this life—and if all would consider the matter as a service to the Lord, and to the brethren, and would at once proceed to do what they can in this direction, we have no doubt that our list would speedily run up to 20,000. We do not want the Tower to go to any one who would not appreciate and read it, but we are more than willing—we are anxious—to have all the interested on our list, regardless of their ability to pay for it—the extra expense will be cheerfully met out of the contributions to the Tract Fund. Let each make this a matter of prayer, and then do what he can in this direction, as a service unto the Lord and unto the brethren.
THE COLPORTEUR WORK
We continue to esteem the colporteur branch of the service one of the most important—in many respects it is the foundation of the work, so far as the public is concerned. It should be borne in mind that this is not a book-agent business, but a ministry of the truth of the true gospel; and the sixty-nine colporteurs now engaged in the service are in it, not for wealth nor for health, but for their love of the Lord and for their desire to lay down their lives on behalf of the brethren—to assist in extricating the Lord’s people from the bondage of error and darkness, and to assist them into the marvelous light now shining for the people of God who are walking in the narrow way, the path of the just. Such being the motives of the service it will rightly be seen that the large number of books circulated by these dear friends does not by any means measure their service for the truth; for they deliver very many brief discourses in various homes where they fail to arouse sufficient interest to dispose of a book—an interest, nevertheless, which the days or weeks or years to come may bring to fruitage, as it has done to our knowledge in many instances.
The total number of copies of Millennial Dawn circulated during the last year is slightly less than the number for the previous year, but the decrease is in the foreign translations. The English edition shows an increase of about 9,000 copies. A condensed statement follows:—
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” ” —German……………… 2,464
” ” —Swedish…………….. 2,373
” ” —French……………… 681
” ” —Dano-Norwegian………. 216
This is a branch of the service in which there is always room for more—and the better the colporteur’s education and general address the better both for himself and for the work. This ministry closely resembles that which the Lord instituted at the first advent, and, as then, it is usual for the friends to go in pairs. The message proclaimed is identical—the long-prayed-for Kingdom of Heaven at hand. And now, as then, authority and power go with these servants of the Lord, to assist those to whom they minister, who are exercising faith, by opening the blind eyes, unstopping the deaf ears, and casting out evil spirits. Only now it is the eyes of the understanding and the ears of the heart that are opened, and it is the spirit of selfishness and sin that is rebuked and cast out, in proportion as the spirit of the Lord is received. It is but proper that we should expect thus to see a higher work performed now than that done at the first advent, because this is the harvest of spiritual Israel, while that was the harvest of fleshly Israel.
We have no doubt that there are very many more of the dear friends of the truth who have consecrated their hearts and time and talent and influence to the Lord, who are carefully considering the great opportunities presented in this colporteur service, and making ready their arrangements to take part therein. We are glad to hear from such from time to time, and will co-operate with them in every way possible—for their entrance into and prosecution of this work.
THE “VOLUNTEER” WORK
This branch of the service circulated, during the past year, about a million of the free tracts, “Food for Thinking Christians.” This was good, excellent, grand—about the same number as the previous year; nevertheless, it was disappointing to us, because we had expected that the interest in this Volunteer work would have increased at least a half; not that the former workers could do more than they had already done, but that we expected others to gradually become more zealous, and thus to increase the effectiveness of this service. This has been true in some places, where practically the entire congregations engaged; but in many places there has apparently been a little slackening of the hands, a little cooling of the ardor. Let us pray the Lord’s blessing upon ourselves and upon each other in connection with the glorious opportunities of the harvest work and full appreciation of the privileges of a share therein; and that the Lord will send forth more laborers into his vineyard, to their spiritual profit and to the furtherance of his cause.
The Volunteer distribution represented a total of over eighteen and a half million pages. Surely all who took part in any measure have cause for gratitude to God for the privilege enjoyed and improved. Although there is no earthly reward connected with this service there surely is a spiritual reward experienced in the present time, as well as an exceeding great and precious one laid up for these faithful soldiers of the cross. We are well aware that it is not possible for all to engage in this service, and we are offering no criticism of those who do not engage. We merely desire to encourage those who have already had opportunity, and have availed themselves of it, and have taken up their cross in this service. We are sure that they are stronger spiritually for the efforts put forth.
THE “PILGRIM” SERVICE—ORAL PREACHING
We recognize no such divisions in the Church as are commonly, in the nominal churches, denominated
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“clergy” and “laity.” We hold that the Scriptures teach that the entire Church is a priesthood: “Ye are a royal priesthood, … that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into this marvelous light.” (1 Pet. 2:9.) We hold, therefore, that the Colporteurs, who take the Dawns and booklets and tracts from house to house, and the Volunteers, who make distributions of free literature every Sunday, and the brethren and sisters who have no such opportunities, but who find other ways of serving the Lord, the truth and the brethren, either more publicly or more privately, are all priests, ministers, preachers, as any may be pleased to term the Lord’s servants. All have the same message to give forth, and all are ordained of God—anointed with the holy spirit, for this very purpose; as an authority to preach the good tidings. It is the privilege of each to serve according to his talents and opportunities, and all are acceptable to the Lord as ministers of the new covenant who faithfully seek to serve, not self, but the Lord and the brethren. It is not, therefore, to be understood that those who go forth under the auspices of our Society, to give their time specially to oral preaching (public and private) are any more authorized or ordained for the ministry in holy things than any others of the same “Royal Priesthood.” We do not expect these brethren whom we designate as “Pilgrims,” to be received as any more commissioned and authorized than any other of the Lord’s brethren. You may understand, however, that when such come to you, they are so far as we have been enabled to know them, sound in the faith, apt to teach, possessed of good character, and fully consecrated to the service of the Lord, the truth and the brethren. Our judgment in this matter is not infallible, however, and even if it were, the Scriptural injunction is that the Lord’s people are to test whatever they receive as truth by the sure standard, the divine Word, whoever presents it.
Sixteen* of these Pilgrim brethren have done considerable service throughout the year, their routes of travel being noted in the Watch Tower since June 1 issue. Their service is not for filthy lucre’s sake—none of them are paid salaries, though all are comfortably provided for in every necessity out of the Society’s funds, and in some instances provision is
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also made for their families. This, in a general way, was the method which prevailed at the first advent. Had the practice, of serving merely for expenses continued, we have every reason to believe that the nominal church would not be in its present condition—that its public servants would be freer to study the truth, and freer also to declare what they would learn.
*Five serve week-days in the Tower office, preaching on Sundays.
The amount of Pilgrim service during the past year is in excess of that of any previous year, as will be seen by the following statement:—
Number of persons giving more or less of their
time in this Pilgrim service during the
Number of miles traveled in the service………..63,149
Number of churches visited…………………… 634
Public meetings held………………………… 1,141
Private or parlor meetings held………………. 745
Cost of this branch of the work…………….$3,255.28
We notice with pleasure that the number of private or parlor meetings held is proportionately more than last year, and the number of public meetings proportionately less. The public meetings are valuable, very favorable to deepening impressions which you have already made upon your friends and neighbors, by private conversation or through reading matter; but the private meetings we esteem to be the more valuable for the development of the household of faith already fairly clear in doctrinal matters. They are valuable as giving opportunities for bringing up points and questions which may have arisen in connection with their private or class studies. We are trusting that, under the Lord’s providence, a great blessing will be upon this “Pilgrim” branch of the service for the coming year. All requests for “Pilgrim” service should be renewed now. See second page of our last issue.
CONVENTIONS OF THE YEAR
This may be considered a part of the Pilgrim service deserving a special report. We held but one general convention, at Cleveland, O., a report of which has already been laid before you. We are of the opinion that these annual conventions furnish excellent opportunities for the Lord’s people to assemble together. Such assemblies were provided for during the Jewish dispensation—we remember how our Lord and the apostles attended the feasts of Passover, etc., at Jerusalem. One special blessing which seems to result now, as then, is that representatives of the Lord’s people in various quarters attend and carry home with them some measure of the love and zeal with which they become imbued, and thus in many directions the flame of sacred love is more brightly enkindled.
One-Day Conventions, addressed by the Editor, seem to continue popular with the friends, and, so far as we are able to judge, they are stimulating and helpful. The main service is always for the public, upon some theme calculated to arrest and fix the attention of new as well as old hearers. They serve also to advertise the meetings of the Church at each place, and to draw together the interested. Twenty-four of these conventions were held during the year, covering over twelve thousand miles—generally in places accessible by one night’s travel, thus consuming as little of the Editor’s time as possible from other departments of the service.
GENERAL TRACT DISTRIBUTION
Hundreds of thousands of tracts are distributed free outside the regular “Volunteer” work noted above. Some have opportunities for using tracts amongst their friends or neighbors, and some enclose them with their correspondence. We are glad to co-operate with all in any such service, and from time to time hear of some upon whom impressions have been made by books or tracts thus circulated. In various ways the Lord seems to be reaching all who have the hearing ear, and in various ways also each, as he receives the truth, seeks to dispense it to others, according to his talents and opportunities. Each faithful one is blessed. Notice the total number of tracts circulated in the various ways, as stated in another column.
THE CORRESPONDENCE DEPARTMENT
We esteem this one of the most helpful channels of service. Many write us, and upon a large variety of subjects—theological and practical; and their letters are welcomed and answered to the best of our ability. The Editor has three valuable assistants in this department of the service; nevertheless, he gives his personal attention to all important and doctrinal questions. While foolish questions are, of course, not desired, nevertheless we esteem that no question is trivial which may seem to any of you to have a bearing upon the character of your daily lives or your future prospects. Therefore be free to write us, and to permit us to assist you in any manner possible, freely, as unto the Lord.
Letters and cards received during the year … 40,417
Letters and cards sent out during the year … 28,601
Copies of Millennial Dawn circulated at cost. 98,948
Copies of booklets circulated at cost…….. 56,402
CIRCULATED AT EXPENSE OF TRACT FUND
Copies of Zion’s Watch Tower…………….. 455,741
Copies of Old Theology tracts……………. 2,591,500
These figures, expressed in the usual form
represent in tract pages……………….. 83,675,000
THE FINANCIAL SIDE—TREASURER’S REPORT
TRACT FUND EXPENDITURES
Cost of above matter circulated free, including
freight, gas, help, etc……………….. $14,904.56
Pilgrim expenses, etc………………….. 3,255.28
Last year’s deficit……………………. 3,025.91
TRACT FUND RECEIPTS
From Good Hopes donations………………. $19,770.09
From other sources…………………….. 6,226.70
The financial showing, dear brethren, is remarkable, when it is remembered that no appeals are made for money and no collections taken up by the Pilgrims at any of their meetings, and no private solicitations made by them, or through the columns of the Watch Tower. Every donation,
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we therefore safely say is in the best and heartiest possible sense a voluntary one. We do not mention these things as though the amount were large. It would be considered ridiculously small, by other Bible and Tract Societies, principally heard from through appeals for money, and whose active collecting agents are usually given one-half of their collections as salary. The entire amount out of which we publish millions of tracts and pay the expenses of sixteen travelling preachers, etc., etc., would generally not be considered enough for the salaries of the principal officers.
Some may wonder, indeed, that we make mention of so small an amount at all, in view of the fact that we frequently see in the newspapers mention of single collections for religious and missionary work which amount to from three to six times the amount of our entire year’s receipts from the Lord’s people in all parts of the world. Our reply is that so far as we know the large proportion of those interested in present
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truth are poor in this world’s goods, rich only in faith toward God and in zeal for his cause. As the Lord esteemed the two mites of the widow as “far more” than all the gifts of the rich, so we (and we believe the Lord also) esteem very highly the contributions sent us by the Lord’s faithful; and we publish these annual statements that the dear friends may know how we strive to make every dollar do full duty—expending it according to our best judgment of what would be the divine will.
We want to mention incidentally that although we do not put money first in any case, nor recommend that the money talent is the superior one, nevertheless we wish to encourage those who are seeking to use their financial talents, by saying that in our judgment the Lord will be pleased to bless those who serve his cause financially, as well as those who serve otherwise—by oral or other preaching. Nevertheless, we encourage everyone of the Lord’s people not to be content with the use of any one talent, but to seek to bring into active exercise as many talents as he finds himself possessed of.
May the Lord’s blessing rest richly with us during the year beginning, giving more and more wisdom, that we may do those things pleasing in his sight; that we may be useful in his service; not as those who merely beat the air, but as those who accomplish something to the praise of our Lord and to the profit of his people.
We trust, dear friends, that you continually pray for the Editor and his colaborers in this service, that the Lord will use more and more your and our united efforts for his cause; and that he will bless and refresh us all while we do what we can to pour out blessings also upon others in his name.
The following report of the British Branch will be of interest. It closes the year with November 1st, when Brother Henninges turned over his charge there to his successor, Brother Hemery. A comparison with the report which appeared in our issue last year shows that our dear brother’s faithfulness in the service there was abundantly blessed by our Lord. True, the financial statement shows a deficit of considerable amount, but this was fully anticipated and fully authorized by us, with a view to putting the work there upon a better footing. We congratulate Brother Henninges upon his success, and trust that in the Lord’s providence his return to the Home Office will mean a shouldering by him of much of its responsibilities and a corresponding relief and greater liberty for the President of this Society (the Editor) for other departments of the work.
The items below are included in the foregoing general statement. The report follows:
REPORT OF MANAGER OF BRITISH BRANCH
LONDON, November 1, 1901. Dear Brother Russell:
I have the pleasure to hand you the report of the Tract Fund receipts and expenditures for the British Branch of the Society, November 16, 1900—October 31, 1901:
L. s d
Deficit from previous account…………….425. 1. 4
Paper and printing………………………201. 11. 3
Carriage and other expenses……………… 46. 15. 9
Pilgrim work…………………………… 42. 16. 5
Total…………………………………716. 4. 9
Receipts from Great Britain………………178. 19. 10
Deficit……………………………….537. 4. 11
Report of Literature Circulated.
Copies of Millennial Dawn……………….. 15,740
Copies of Booklets……………………… 2,918
Tracts sent out free……………………. 498,675
Sample Watch Towers free………………… 49,500
Total copies sent free…………………. 548,175
These represent Tract Pages……………… 14,774,400
Letters and cards received………………. 3,047
Letters and cards sent………………….. 4,071
In sending this report, we must acknowledge the Lord’s gracious answers to prayer, and the operation of his Spirit in his dear people in this country, as shown in the substantial increase over the previous year of Dawns and Tracts put into circulation. The Lord has also sent more laborers into the harvest, in every department, sending forth such as can spend all their time and energy in the blessed service of colporteuring from house to house, and stirring up the zeal of those who cannot have this privilege in full measure, but can spend some time in this way. May their numbers and efficiency be further increased to the glory of God! The field is really white to harvest, and the time is short.
The “Volunteers” also deserve special mention for their faithfulness in conditions favorable and unfavorable. It will be observed that the number of tract pages freely circulated in Great Britain in the last twelve months is less than the total in our previous report, though the number of copies is more than twice as great. This is due to the smaller number
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of pages in “Food for Thinking Christians,” as compared with the Volunteer Towers previously distributed. This great mass of free literature could not have been circulated here, but for the generous cooperation of the Allegheny office; and it might be remarked that our financial report takes no account of the expenses of printing the tracts received from America, and sent out from here. These represent 298,675 of the above mentioned copies of tracts sent out free.
Our successor, Brother Hemery, takes charge of the office from this date. We are sure that the friends of the truth in the territory served by this Branch will find in him a zealous and efficient co-laborer in every matter that would advance the interests of the work entrusted to him. As the brother is quite well known to most of the Tower readers in this country, more need not be said by us. We commend him to the grace of God, and to the prayers and active co-operation of all who love the truth. The church at Forest Gate has unanimously requested him to take up the pastoral duties vacated by us.
In retiring from this portion of the field we (speaking for Mrs. Henninges as well as myself) return thanks to God for the privileges we have had in connection with the work. Some “light afflictions” have befallen us, but we can give thanks for them also, since they have ministered to the increase of our joy in the Lord and his service. It has been a great pleasure to labor with and for the friends of the truth here, whom we have learned to love dearly in the Lord; and we desire at this time to assure them again of our grateful appreciation of the efforts they have put forth to make our sojourn among them pleasant and profitable. Though many miles may separate us, our intense interest in the welfare of the harvest work and workers in this land will not slack. May the Lord’s favor be even more manifest to them in future than in the past!
With love to you and all the co-laborers, and trusting to see you soon, I remain,
Yours faithfully, in Christ,
E. C. HENNINGES
“KEPT FOR THE MASTER’S USE”
Keep my life, that it may be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Keep my moments and my days;
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Keep my hands, that they may move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Keep my feet, that they may be
Swift and “beautiful” for Thee.
Keep my voice, that I may sing
Always, only, for my King.
Keep my lips, that they may be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Keep my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold.
Keep my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Keep my will, oh, keep it Thine!
For it is no longer mine.
Keep my heart; it is Thine own;
It is now Thy royal throne.
Keep my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Keep myself, that I may be
Ever, only, ALL for Thee.—Frances Havergal
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TARRYING UNTIL ENDUED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH
—ACTS 1:1-11—JAN. 5.—
“While he blessed them he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.”—Luke 24:51
BIBLE STUDIES of the International series, begin the new year with studies in the Book of Acts, and after six months will return us again to Old Testament studies from Moses to Samuel.
Luke, the physician, who wrote the Gospel of Luke, was the author of the Book of Acts. In the latter he takes up the narrative substantially where he left it in the Gospel—the ascension of Christ. He recapitulates, however, to the extent of giving us a narrative of the conversation immediately preceding our Lord’s ascension. The account is evidently addressed to a friend, of the then common name, Theophilus, who was supposed to have been a person of considerable dignity and influence, inasmuch as he is elsewhere styled “most excellent,” a title which implied a considerable social or political rank. Luke was not one of the apostles, and his records are not, therefore of apostolic authority. Such authority or plenary inspiration was not necessary, however, in the recording of plain, simple facts such as the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts present. It requires no inspiration to record a fact, though it does require some ability, and it is reasonable to assume that since the Lord used Luke’s abilities in connection with the work of recording the facts of that time he was guided of the holy spirit in the ascertainment of the facts, which his education and natural talents eminently qualified him to state succinctly. Luke was guided of the holy spirit, in the same sense that all of the Lord’s consecrated people are guided by his spirit, which is to a different degree from that plenary inspiration granted to the twelve apostles—Paul taking the place of Judas.
The first verse refers back to the Gospel of Luke, as a treatise of the doings and teaching of Jesus from the time he began his ministry to its close; and some have assumed that the word “began” might reasonably be understood to imply that our Lord continued his ministry after his ascension, speaking and acting, through his apostles, and those believing on him through their word. This is true enough whether it was what Luke meant or not; for the Scriptures invariably teach that the Church of Christ
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in the flesh is his representative: as the Apostle Paul says, we “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, for his body’s sake, which is the Church.” (Col. 1:24.) And as we have to do with the suffering of the anointed one, so we have to do with the witnessing or ministry by which the members of the body are to be called out from the world, separated, instructed, and thus prepared for a share in the glorious Kingdom and the great work of judging the world, which it will inaugurate. It is in this sense that our Lord declared, “Ye shall be my witnesses, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Primarily, the apostles were the witnesses who testified to us respecting our Lord’s words, his death, his resurrection and ascension, and His promises of a return to accept his faithful to a share in his kingdom, when he shall take unto himself his great power and reign. In a secondary sense all who receive the apostolic testimony and declare the same to others are likewise Christ’s representatives and witnesses.
It was in order that the apostles might fill this position of witnesses, and might be enabled to give us, and all, a clear testimony on the important subject of Christ’s death and resurrection and ascension, which constitute the foundations for hope, that our Lord was present with them after his resurrection, and, as Luke declares, demonstrated the fact of his resurrection by “infallible proofs”—explaining to them meanwhile things pertaining to the coming Kingdom, for which he had already taught them to hope and to pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” and a share in the throne which he had already declared would be for the faithful. This explanation respecting the Kingdom was necessary, because, as Jews, they had properly looked for an earthly Kingdom, and now needed to be informed that before the earthly Kingdom could be established a heavenly Kingdom must first be inaugurated; and that they were eligible to a place in the heavenly Kingdom, through which, in due time, the blessing would come to an earthly Kingdom, and ultimately extend to all the families of the earth. This information was not due to them so long as the old or Jewish dispensation remained—up to the time of our Lord’s death. It would only be “meat in due season” after the Jewish nation, through its representatives, the priests and doctors of the law, had rejected Christ and crucified him. But now that the new dispensation was fully inaugurated, it was “meat in due season” to the faithful to know that God, having rejected fleshly Israel from being his peculiar people, for a time, to gather a spiritual Israel, to be the holy nation, the peculiar people, the royal priesthood, to show forth his praise, and to constitute his chief agents for the blessing of the world in due time. This work of calling the spiritual Israelites, and of inducting such as would heed the call into the new relationship, was the work being committed to the apostles—the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, which our Lord unfolded to the disciples in such measure as they were able to appreciate them—leaving to the future the work of guiding them into all truth, into the deep things of God, under the ministration of the holy spirit, which he had previously promised would show them things to come.—John 16:13.
Our Lord wished the apostles to distinctly understand that they were not then in the condition to undertake the new work, and that the proper time for action had not yet come—that they would not be prepared until they should receive the holy spirit, a power and unction from the Father, which would specially qualify, enable and guide them in the important service of their commission. Moreover, it would be to them, and to all believers through them, a divine evidence or attestation; first, respecting our Lord’s work, that it was approved of the Father, and constituted a basis of reconciliation by which sinners might return to harmony with their Creator; and evidence, further, to those consecrating themselves to the divine service, and receiving the holy spirit, that they were accepted of the Father in the Beloved, and owned as children and heirs of his promises, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord, if so be that they would suffer with him that they might also be glorified together, in the Kingdom, when the due time should come.—Rom. 8:16-17.
It was appropriate at this time, and in view of the Lord’s instructions respecting the Kingdom and the preparatory work for it, which the apostles were commissioned to do, that they should wonder and inquire respecting the time of its establishment; and not knowing that he was about to leave them, they inquired respecting the ancient promises of Israel’s restoration, whether or not these were now due to be fulfilled—whether or not Israel was to be released from the domination of the Romans, and to become the great nation of the world, and to be used of God in the blessing of other nations.
It is worthy of careful note that our Lord did not rebuke the apostles, nor tell them that the thoughts represented in their question were foolish, and would never have a realization. On the contrary, his answer clearly implies that their expectations at least approximated the truth; but that as respected the time of their fulfillment He was not at liberty to gratify their curiosity. The things they referred to, which God had promised, would be fulfilled in due course, but the times and the seasons were not for them to know, the Father retaining them in his own power, not being pleased as yet to reveal this feature of his plan. Our Lord, however, clearly indicates that before the restoration of Israel to divine favor must come in the mission of his apostles, to which he was now appointing them. He would not inform them whether their mission would be quickly accomplished or not, but as a matter of fact, we see that it has already extended over more than eighteen centuries. The restoration of Israel to divine favor cannot take place until Christ, and his apostles, and all his faithful, shall first have accomplished the work of witnessing to the world, and of selecting the full complete number of the “elect”—spiritual Israel. This is the work of chief concern: the times and seasons for the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel after the flesh, and to the world, are to be left in God’s power, with the assurance that when the due time shall come the brethren shall not be in darkness on this subject, but be guided by the holy spirit into this and all other truths, as they become meat in due season
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for the household of faith.
The witnessing properly began at Jerusalem, the center of Judaism, which God himself had chosen, as represented in the Temple. It properly began with those who had knowledge of Jesus and his crucifixion,—amongst whom were the most devout Jews from all quarters of the earth. It was appropriate that the truth respecting our Lord’s resurrection and ascension and glorification with the Father, and respecting the gathering of spiritual Israel, and our Lord’s second coming to receive them and to exalt them with himself in the Messianic Kingdom, should be declared to those who had been witnesses and instigators of his ignominious death.
This, like the other features of the Gospel, is totally unlike anything else known in history. Never before, either in fact or in conjecture, did people ascribe divine honors to one who had been put to death as a criminal. Worldly sentiments would be to the
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contrary of this, as being unwise, and wholly unlikely to appeal to the sentiments of the people. And further, worldly wisdom, even if it had adopted as a leader one who had been publicly executed as a criminal, would never have thought of beginning the testimony close to the scenes of the ignominy, but would have gone afar off to proclaim that an innocent one had been betrayed and unjustly sacrificed. God so arranged the matter that the truth should stand forth for acceptance or rejection by the Jews in the most unfavorable light, so that only those who were Israelites indeed, and ready to sacrifice every earthly advantage as Jews, and to make themselves of no reputation, and thus take up their cross and follow the Lamb,—these alone would be appealed to, or incline to follow the cause of Jesus—defamed as a Nazarene and as a malefactor, and as specially cursed, as it is written, “Cursed is everyone that hangeth upon a tree.” Thus would the Lord hedge his cause about, and keep out of it, through unpopularity, as well as by subsequent persecutions, all who were not Israelites indeed:—thus the Church was kept, not only free from doctrinal errors, but also comparatively free from tares, until the apostles fell asleep, and the enemy came in and sowed tares amongst the wheat.—Matt. 13:25.
The witnessing has progressed, until at the present time at least a cursory knowledge of the facts upon which the Lord’s message is based obtains throughout the habitable world. This fact of itself, if there were no other evidences, would seem to imply that the witnessing time had about expired, and hence that the object of the Gospel age had about been accomplished in the selection of the full elect number of the faithful witnesses, and that their work of blessing the world would soon be due. The expression, “Unto the uttermost parts of the earth,” is not to be understood as implying every quarter of the globe, but rather a term of that day corresponding in meaning to our present expression, “everywhere.”
Apparently much misapprehension prevails to-day respecting the character of the testimony or witnessing to be done. Many of those who preach and of those who hear have lost sight of the real message, the real witnessing, and especially rejoice in and promulgate other gospels—evolution, science, philosophy, human uplift, political regeneration, churchianity, socialism, etc. They may think that they are witnessing in harmony with the Lord’s direction, but we cannot assent to this. The Lord’s disciples were to bear witness to him, and not to themselves nor to human institutions; they were to bear witness to his testimony respecting the Kingdom, and not to bear witness to various human theories, snares and sophistries. It is well that all who are inquiring for the “old paths,” in which the apostles followed the Lamb, should note this point, and should see to it that their daily witnessing, in word and in deed, testified of Jesus; of the fact that he is a living Savior, whose power, through his word and spirit, works in his followers to will and to do his good pleasure, and to show forth the praises of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light; out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son, which Kingdom they are to hope for and to wait and prepare for, to the intent that they may be meet for this, “the inheritance of the saints in light.”
The instruction that they should tarry, and not begin this work of witnessing until endued with power from on high in a few days, implied their unfitness for the work as natural men; and we see abundant evidence of this in many respects. The narrative is that they were men of humble birth and limited education—”unlearned men”—and this was apparent in some respects, even after they received the holy spirit, for their friends, as well as their enemies, bore witness to it, while acknowledging also their ability under the new conditions. The Apostle Paul, who took the place of Judas, as one of the twelve, being a talented and learned man, did not, we may suppose, show forth the peculiar powers of the holy spirit so remarkably as the other eleven, who were unlearned. He had the holy spirit in equal measure, or, indeed, we may say, that because of his natural abilities and talents he was enabled to enjoy and use in the service a still larger measure of the holy spirit than the others; but this power of God, working in him, would not be so manifest to the observer as in the case of the unlearned, because the divine wisdom and power would to some extent be accredited to his natural ability and talents. Herein, then, we see another manifestation of the divine wisdom in so selecting the twelve foundation stones of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:14), as to demonstrate to all that the truth, as presented, was not of their concoction and elaboration. And yet it was needful to have amongst the apostles a man of learning, qualified to be an able minister of the truth, and to present it under the direction and guidance of the holy spirit in such a manner as to be a further testimony that the truths declared were of divine origin, and worthy of all acceptation.
While claiming that the twelve apostles were unique, separate, distinct, in the divine plan, from all the other members of the Church, we believe, nevertheless, that the divine plan of operation in respect to the general work is outlined in this, our Lord’s declaration, “Tarry—until ye be endued with power from on high”—before participating in any sense of the word in public witnessing. Our thought is, that while all men may properly be called to repentance, reformation of life, temperance and every good work, and
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may be called to faith in Christ, as the Great Redeemer, nevertheless, none are called to be God’s witnesses, mouth-pieces, representatives, ambassadors, etc., except those who have gone still further, and recognizing themselves as bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, have made full consecration of their every power and talent to the Lord and to his service. These consecrated ones should then wait until they experience something of the divine power working in themselves to will, and, as far as possible, to do the Lord’s good pleasure, before beginning to bear witness to others.
And the Lord’s sheep should be careful to select as leaders, etc., only such as give evidence of having come under the influence of the holy anointing of the spirit of God. And this, no matter how much of natural ability the would-be leader may possess; indeed, the more his natural ability the more danger from his leading. Only those anointed of the spirit are to be recognized amongst the Lord’s people as in any sense of the word representatives and mouth-pieces of the head. As it was the spirit of the Lord God upon our Lord Jesus that anointed or qualified him to preach the Gospel, so it must be the same anointing received of him that will qualify any for this service of preaching or witnessing, in a manner that will be acceptable to the Lord and profitable to his flock. (Isa. 61:1.) All who are not in the attitude of full consecration to the Lord, full submission to the divine will, are in opposition, to some extent; and to the extent that they are in opposition they are wrong, or wicked. “And unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do, to take my words into thy mouth, seeing that thou hatest instruction (refusing to submit themselves to the Lord’s arrangement) and castest my words behind thee [neglectfully]?”—Psa. 50:17.
The narrative is brief, and we cannot even conjecture how amply the Lord discussed these matters with the disciples, but when he had explained them amply—or at least to the extent that they (the holy spirit not yet having come upon them) were able then to receive instruction—he was taken from them up into a cloud, gradually receding until lost to their sight.
This matter of our Lord’s ascension was evidently arranged, as were all the other features of his manifestations to the disciples after his resurrection, with a view to the establishment of their faith as natural men; and with the view to the establishment of the faith of all other natural men who might be seeking a basis of faith in this witnessing. As we have already seen, our Lord at this time was quickened in spirit, and not in the flesh. (1 Pet. 3:18.) Yet he was appearing in the flesh, even as angels have ofttimes in the past appeared as men. These appearances in different bodies were not deceptions, but demonstrations of a fact—the fact that he was no longer dead, but alive. They were demonstrations in the best manner possible, because as natural men they could not see a spirit being without injury to their sight, and without a corresponding trepidation, which would have quite disqualified them for cool reflection and for instruction such as our Lord wished to impart.
The two men in white apparel who suddenly appeared in their midst were unquestionably angels, manifested in human form. It was no more a deception of the disciples for the angels to appear as men than it was when the Lord appeared as a man. Again the object desired was better served by this manner of appearing, than if they had been miraculously enabled to see two shining beings, bright above the brightness of the sun at noonday, upon whom they could not have looked, and before whom they would have fallen, as dead men. But beholding them as men, yet knowing from their glistening garments, etc., that they were really spirit beings manifested in the flesh, the disciples were able to control their feelings, so as to receive their message,—”Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which was received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.”
This was a suitable conclusion to the wonderful series of events of those forty days. It furnished a miraculous heavenly attestation that their senses had
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not been deceived—that their Master, “changed,” had really been with them, appearing in various forms during these forty days, and that he had now gone from them. It consoled them, too, in reminding them that he had not left them forever, but had already promised them that he would come again and receive them unto himself. This evidently was the hope of their hearts through coming dreary days and dark hours of tribulation, persecution, defamation and suffering. They not only endured, as seeing him who is invisible, but as servants who hope for and wait for the return of their Lord, and the nuptial feast and Kingdom blessings then to be instituted.
We find this longing for and hoping for and waiting for the coming King in the writings of all the apostles. It is John who exclaims, “Come, Lord Jesus!” It is James who says, “Be patient, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.” It is Peter who encourages the brethren, by pointing out that shortly, when the Chief Shepherd will appear, they shall receive a crown of glory, which fadeth not away. It is Jude, who speaks of the Lord’s coming, with myriads of his holy ones. It is Paul who urges faithfulness, and assures the brethren that not only himself, but all who love his appearing, shall then receive a crown of righteousness.—Rev. 22:20; Jas. 5:7; 1 Pet. 5:4; Jude 14; 2 Tim. 4:8.
And if this hope so encouraged, strengthened and upheld the early Christian Church, should its influence be less today, upon us who remember that “now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed?” Nay, verily! Indeed, when the light of present truth, shining on the pathway, shows us that he who was to come has come, and has not tarried—that the promises of God through the prophets, written aforetime for our admonition, are fulfilled; that we are living in the harvest-time of this age; that the Chief Reaper is present; that the gathering of the “wheat” into the barn, and the bundling of the “tares,” for the coming fiery troubles, is in progress; and when, the eyes of our understanding being opened, we see these things in evidence about us, what manner of persons ought we to be in holy joy and faithfulness, and courage, and zeal;—to be, to do, to endure, whatsoever things our present Lord and
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Master, in his infinite wisdom and love, may mark out for us! As he declared, “The cup which the Father hath given me to drink, shall I not drink it?” So may we, with implicit confidence, say that whatever cup of experience our present Lord and Head may pour for us, his disciples, we will cheerfully partake thereof, and thus fill up the afflictions which are behind; and shortly, with all the faithful, enter into the glories of the Millennial Kingdom, which God hath in reservation for them that love him.
We have already commented upon the expression, “In like manner as ye have seen him go,”* pointing out that the manner was not a noisy one—not with either worldly or celestial commotion;—that the world was in ignorance of our Lord’s going, so that only his faithful few recognized the fact, and that in like manner he will come again, unknown to the world, without commotion;—that his presence will be known only to the faithful ones, whose eyes of understanding are being opened;—until, having gathered his elect, his presence will be manifested to the world gradually in the symbolical flaming fire of the great time of trouble—in the overthrow of present institutions, preparatory to the establishment of the Kingdom of light and love.
*Millennial Dawn, Vol. II., P.153
The disciples apparently abode together in Jerusalem, where they were all comparative strangers, their home being in Galilee. Our Lord’s mother, and others of the faithful sisters, were of the company, who, in harmony with the Lord’s promise, waited at Jerusalem for power from on high. Doubtless those days of waiting were not only essential to the going of our Lord into the Father’s presence and the presentation before him of the merits of the ransom sacrifice, and the application of these for the benefit of mankind, but the time was necessary also for the development of the apostles—in faith and trust, through the influence of the promises the Lord had left them. It required some time for them to consider and to reason over the wonderful things they had heard from the Master’s lips, and thus to get their hearts into the condition where they would be best prepared for the blessings they were expecting.
Hope is a valuable factor in Christian development still, although the object of the hope may vary from time to time. For instance, we are no longer hoping for the Pentecostal blessing, believing that it came at the time appointed, and that it has been with the Church, as a Church, ever since; and that we, in becoming united to the Lord, come under this blessed influence of the holy spirit. But while that hope has reached fruition other hopes have taken its place in our case. We are waiting also; not waiting, as the groaning creation is waiting, “for the manifestation of the sons of God,” either; but we are waiting for our adoption, to wit, the deliverance of our body—the body of Christ, which we trust will shortly be completed, and ourselves be amongst those who will be “changed” to be of it. (Rom. 8:23.) What an anchor to our souls is this hope! How it makes all other interests and affairs of life comparatively insignificant! Wealth and fame, and all the things which the human heart can desire and appreciate, grand and good as some of them are, pale before this grand epiphania (bright-shining) in which we, as members of the body of Christ, hope soon to share.
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SPEAKING WITH OTHER TONGUES
—ACTS 2:1-11.—JAN. 12.—
“The promise is unto you and to your children.”—Acts 2:39
WAITING FOR the power from on high, the eleven apostles (and with them apparently a considerable number of believers—possibly 120—(Acts 1:15) were rewarded with the blessing of Pentecost. They were “with one accord in one place;” they may have been expecting the blessing during the preceding nine days of their assembling, but Pentecost being a specially holy day it may have appeared to them as probable that it would bring the consummation of their hopes, and with one accord or agreement the full number were all present at the time. There is a thought here respecting the propriety of the Lord’s people being at one, or in accord, in respect to the things they are seeking for and waiting for. It is to this end that the Lord has exhorted us, through the Apostle, that we forget not the assembling of ourselves together, and so much the more as we see the day drawing near—not the day of Pentecost, but a still greater and still grander day: Pentecost brought merely the first fruits of the spirit, while the day we wait for is the day of the consummation of all our hopes and of all God’s promises in respect to the Church, as the Bride and joint-heir of his Son.
We cannot all come together in the literal sense, as did the apostles and the early Church on Pentecost, but we can come together into one place in another sense; we can come into the holy place, into the sanctuary or consecrated condition of heart and of life, and thus into oneness and fellowship with the Lord, and with all who are in the same holy condition, and partakers of the same blessing of the inner light of the golden candlestick, and the inner food of the table of shew-bread, and the inner communion with the Lord, represented in the golden altar and its incense. Our natural dispositions are various and their crooks and twists different; but our new natures are one, begotten of the same Father, through the same spirit. We are to seek accord as new creatures, and are to restrain, mortify and cast out the weaknesses of the flesh and the contentiousness of disposition which may be ours, accordingly—that as new creatures we may be one with the Lord and with all who are his body or Church, under the one Head or Lord, infused or energized by one spirit of obedience to the one Father, and under the control of the one law of Love.
It is not said that the holy spirit was imparted in connection with a rushing wind, but merely that there was “a sound as of a rushing wind.” Neither is it said that flames or tongues of fire rested upon them, but that tongues or flames having the appearance of
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fire, as in the case of the burning bush, rested upon them. The holy spirit is an invisible power, and its impartation need not of necessity have any outward demonstration. But God’s purpose was the contrary of this. He desired to accompany the holy spirit with certain manifestations which would be convincing to the apostles themselves as respected their acceptance with him, and their identification as his ministers, ambassadors of the new dispensation; he wished also to make manifest the nucleus of the Gospel Church to others, to devout Jews then in Jerusalem, attending this feast; and we think it quite probable that it was God’s intention also by these gifts to manifest who were the apostles and to indicate their special office in the Church.
It is not stated specifically upon whom the tongues rested; “upon each of them” might mean upon each of the eleven apostles, or it might mean upon each of the one hundred and twenty present. Whoever the tongues sat upon were filled with the holy spirit, and
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they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance; and this preaching with other tongues seems to have been done only by the eleven apostles, for the multitude, hearing them, exclaimed, “Are not all these which speak Galileans?” As for the eleven apostles, they were all Galileans, but as for the remainder of the one hundred and twenty, it is probable that the majority of them were Judeans, residents of Jerusalem. We incline, therefore, to suppose that while the whole room in which they were present was filled with the holy spirit, and the entire company present made partakers of the holy spirit, and immersed into it, and blessed thereby, yet, nevertheless, these outward manifestations of tongues and speaking miraculously were at first only given to the eleven, for the purpose of designating them as God’s chosen instruments in connection with the new dispensation. We know that it was so subsequently; so that whoever received gifts of the holy spirit received them through the laying on of the hands of the apostles.
From the construction of the Greek text it is evident that these were not split tongues, on the heads of the favored ones, but rather that they were tongues of flame cloven or split off from a central or luminous body, tongues which emanated from one common center, and went to the heads of those for whom intended. It was not fire, however, but light. The tongues represented nothing akin to destruction, which fire would symbolize. They represented, on the contrary, enlightenment, knowledge, intelligence, and implied that a holy intelligence or light from the Lord had come upon the recipients, marking them as the Lord’s mouthpieces; indicating that from henceforth their tongues should show forth his praise, to the blessing and enlightenment of the world. And so indeed it has been; those poor fishermen, illiterate, unlearned as respects earthly education, under the power of the Lord’s spirit became mighty indeed in the pulling down of strongholds of error, and the scattering of darkness by the illumination of the minds of those prepared for the word of God’s grace.
Some have made the mistake of supposing that these tongues of flame were fulfillments of the prediction of John the Baptist, who said of Christ, “He shall baptize you with the holy spirit and with fire.” (Luke 3:16.) This was the fulfillment of only the first part; it was merely the baptism of the holy spirit; it was not the baptism of fire;—the baptism of fire and destruction was for a totally different class. The faithful of the Jews were to receive the baptism of the holy spirit, and the unfaithful majority of them were to receive the baptism of fiery trouble, and they did receive it a little further along. After the holy spirit, coming upon the infant Church at Pentecost, had searched, sifted and winnowed out of the Jewish dispensation all of the true “wheat,” gathering it into the garner of the Gospel (spirit) dispensation, then the fire came upon the “chaff.” (Luke 3:17.) The Apostle speaks of this, calling it wrath, saying “Wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”—1 Thess. 2:16.
The tongues of light which came upon the faithful at Pentecost did not continue with them,—even as the dove, which was seen descending upon Jesus, did not continue to be seen. Both the dove and the flame of light were merely outward representations, not to deceive, but for the purpose of teaching a great lesson, for the purpose of convincing that the promised blessing and power had come. The Lord’s people who since come under the influence of the holy spirit have neither signs of flames nor doves, nor sounds of rushing wind; nor do they speak miraculously. They, nevertheless, come into and are made partakers of the holy spirit, which no longer uses these outward manifestations because they are no longer necessary; the Church having been established, and the fact of the holy spirit’s impartation having been demonstrated, we now are to accept the same by faith, and to permit it to dwell in us richly, and to cultivate in our hearts and lives the fruits of the spirit, instead of expecting them or other things as miraculous gifts.
The tongues of light are a forceful illustration of the fact that God purposed to use human tongues as his agencies in promulgating his message and calling out his elect from the world. An energy of soul evidently went with the outward demonstration, giving a courage to the apostles of which previously, as humble and unlearned men, they were naturally deficient. Note, for instance, how it led Peter, who, fifty-three days before had denied the Lord, saying, “I know not the man,” for fear of the Jews, to now courageously stand up in the midst of those very Jews, and to proclaim him as his Master, as the Son of God risen from the dead and ascended up on high; as the great Mediator and High Priest of the new order. It gave him the courage to charge home to the hearts of his hearers their responsibility for the crime. So also the other disciples, who previously had fled from their arrested Master, were now courageous to tell forth his praise. Not only had they become convinced, by the proofs received, respecting his resurrection and his ascension, but now these proofs were added to by the fulfillment of his promises, evidencing the fact that he had ascended to the Father, and that he had been favorably received, and that these gifts of the spirit were evidences of the return of divine favor toward them,—of their acceptance in the Beloved One, and of their right and authority to go forth in his name and
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to declare remission of sins to all the penitent who would come unto the Father through him.
At this particular season of the year the city of Jerusalem was crowded with visitors from various parts of the world. We are to remember that millions of the ten-tribed kingdom, called Israel, were taken captive, and later millions more of the two-tribe kingdom, called Judah, was also taken captive, to Babylon; and that these millions were scattered as immigrants in the various districts of Assyria and Babylonia, where they settled down, making these strange lands their home, so that when the opportunity for returning from captivity came in the days of Cyrus, and by his edict, only a very small proportion of the two tribes, and a still smaller proportion of the ten-tribes, returned to Palestine—the great majority preferring to remain in the countries where they at one time had been captives, but where, during their long exile, they had become at home and formed attachments. From that time on all distinction as between Israel and Judah was at an end; and all were recognized as at first, as Israelites, and all came under the general name of Jews. Thus it was that our Lord and the apostles addressed the people as Israelites and Jews, using the terms interchangeably, and that they spoke of the dispersed ones indiscriminately, as Jews and as Israelites also.
It was at seasons like the Passover and Pentecost that numbers of devout Jews, not only from all parts of Judea and Galilee, went to Jerusalem, but also the “dispersed” Jews of devout spirit from the surrounding countries came thither, to worship the Lord and to obey the command requiring all his faithful to assemble themselves before him at Jerusalem. Thus it was that at the time of these visits the city would sometimes have a crowded population of from two to three millions of people, chiefly adults. The city was crowded at the time of this Pentecostal blessing, and a great concourse of people was drawn together by the miraculous manifestation of divine power amongst the disciples. Some of these, hearing the apostles speaking in various languages which they could not understand, passed on, declaring that they had no interest in the matter, and that probably the speakers were intoxicated, and did not know what they were saying themselves; but others recognized their own tongues and dialects, some apostles speaking in one tongue, some in another; and when they perceived that all of the speakers were Galileans they were astounded, especially in view of the fact that they were unlearned men. The miracle helped to impress the situation upon their minds, and we may be sure that the words spoken were also powerful. We cannot suppose that the Lord would make a special manifestation of power without an equal manifestation of wisdom. Indeed, wherever we find people claiming various gifts and powers, and find these to be accompanied by nothing that is reasonable and logical and comprehensible, we are justified in doubting that the matter is of the Lord at all. It is reasonable to suppose that when the holy spirit gives utterance it will utter that which is good and reasonable and sound of logic, and not folly. And so we read that the hearers said, “We do hear them speak in our tongues the mighty works of God.”
The words of their discourse are not given us in detail here, but we can readily discern that the mighty works of God which filled their own hearts and minds were those wonderful things which they had just been learning from the Lord, viz., that God’s time had come for conferring the blessing long before promised through Abraham;—that Jesus was the Messiah, whom the Father had sent, and whose death was necessary in order to the carrying out of the plan, as our Lord had declared to them, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26.) It was theirs further to declare another wonderful work of God,—that in addition to Messiah, the Head, God was about to gather out of the people a little flock to be joint heirs with
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Messiah, in the Kingdom, preparatory to its establishment for the blessing of the world. We may be sure that it was the true Gospel that they preached, and not the terrible mixture of confusion about hell torments, which since “the dark ages” has falsely claimed the right to be called the Gospel of Christ. They preached the Gospel of salvation, and not a message of damnation; and their message was in the power and demonstration of the spirit.
The miraculous gift of tongues is no longer with us, yet the same spirit, received by us, dwelling in us richly and abounding more and more, gives us utterance, also, in respect to the wonderful works of God. This is still true of all the Royal Priesthood, the consecrated. As the Apostle expressed it in his day, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye (for yourselves); for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19,20.) The enlightenment of our understanding has shown us Jesus as the Redeemer of the world, and our share in his redemptive work; and also our acceptance with the Father, through him, to be his joint-heirs in the Kingdom, and to be fellow-servants with him in the present time, in bearing the reproaches of the true Gospel in this time, when the great Adversary is deceiving the world in respect to these matters, putting light for darkness and darkness for light.
More and more we, too, speak with other tongues. Those whose tongues had blasphemed the holy name now give thanks and praise; those who had ignorantly misrepresented the divine character and plan now vie with each other in showing forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. The influence of the holy spirit transforms our sentiments and expressions respecting the brethren also, and respecting the world, so that instead of hatred and anger and malice we have love and gentleness and patience; and instead of our tongues showing forth envy and bitterness and pride, worldly ambition, etc., they show forth the new mind in gentleness and wisdom, in helpfulness and love—toward all men, and especially toward the household of faith. These, our new tongues, and the new living epistles which they represent to our families, our neighbors and the world, are beautifully expressed by the Prophet to be our “song”—our praise, our acknowledgement to God for his grace and truth; as it is written, “He hath put a new song into my mouth, even the loving kindness of our God.”
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Dear Brother Russell:—
Many, many times have I been going to write to you, both last year and this year, but did not like to trouble you with any of our depressing affairs. I did once mention something to you of our troubles, but always hoped that we would have good news to tell you, and thus delayed writing till now.
But although we cannot rejoice in worldly prosperity, we do rejoice in Christ Jesus and in the fact that he died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that through Christ we are strengthened and enabled to rejoice in all that passes over us, knowing that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose, and may we be amongst that number.
Being made perfect through suffering is a wonderful providence of the Lord. I saw very clearly and quickly God’s “plan of the ages,” and rejoiced in it and at once came out from human organizations, and rejoiced to be counted worthy to suffer anything in connection therewith, but to go through these last two years were altogether unlooked for, and from our view point would seem in no way satisfactory either toward God or man, and although our way has thus been hedged in, and our whole course changed, and that not by our own doing or choosing but rather the opposite, nevertheless I see that unless there were a need for it, in some way, it would not have been permitted. I now see it is no light matter to essay to take up the Ark of God, or to put one’s hand thereto. That those who will ascend into the hill of God must have clean hands and a pure heart. That one must be very sensible of God’s preserving care and fully realize the meaning of the Lord’s prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, or the Evil One.” That those who are actively engaged in the Lord’s harvest work need great encouragement and strengthening of their hands in God. When thinking on these things I determined that I would no longer refrain from writing you, for fear that my long silence might cause you anxiety of mind, rather than peace of mind, as I intended. And now, dear brother, I desire to express to you my great appreciation of all the helps and blessings which the Lord has sent us through your hands. Every Tower would seem to be more blessed than another. That article in last Tower, “Finally, be all of one mind,” showing forth the proper use of combativeness on one’s self was simply grand. I thanked and praised God after reading it. Pray for us that we may receive “mercy of the Lord,” and be led in such a way as that we will be to God’s glory in being made useful in His great cause, and dwell in His house forever. May the Lord preserve you from all evil and keep you as the apple of His eye and that you may be more than Conqueror for His own name’s sake.
With our united Christian love to yourself, your household, and all your fellow helpers in the great harvest field, I am your brother in hope,
C. H. HOUSTON,
Dear Brother Russell:—
In a recent Tower you say, “Thenceforth it is the business of the ‘new creature’ in Christ to use up in the divine service, as wisely, economically, and yet rapidly as possible, all the earthly things” etc. This puzzled me on the first and second readings, for I thought, Why, our Lord ate and slept, and rested sometimes, and so does Brother Russell. I could use up the ‘old creature’ much more rapidly than I am doing, but I surely ought not to do anything suicidal. A third reading brought it straight for me,—such haste would not be for the best interests of the Lord’s work,—even my little portion. It would not be sacrificing “wisely, economically.” Then the text came to mind, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” I must go neither too slow nor must I outrun my Guide. Not being yet made ready, the Lord hath in mind even for me, certain experiences and provings necessary for development in Christ-likeness, and I want them every one. Also, my blind aunt greatly needs me as yet, and I ought not to hasten too fast but keep my nerves and temper in condition to serve her acceptably. So I pray the Lord, “Order my steps in Thy Word!” And I believe He will.
ALICE L. DARLINGTON.
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Dear Brother Russell:—
Although I have been interested in the Harvest Truth for nearly two years, I have never expressed my gratitude to you, the channel through whom this great blessing has reached me.
I was first attracted to this message by my sister, Mrs. Lee,—whom we believe now to be with our Lord; and since her death, I too, have given up all I have or hope for, respecting earthly things for joint-heirship in God’s kingdom.
I do thank you for the helpful words and sound doctrines found in the columns of your journal. My prayer is for you to obtain grace, wisdom and strength to feed us unto the end of the church’s journey through the wilderness of sin.
I have much faith in the prayer of a righteous man, therefore ask you to remember me at the throne of grace, that our Father may guide my every step and help me to be faithful unto death.
Enclosed please find my “Good Hopes” offering for this month. With Christian love, I remain,
K. M. DAY,
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Dear Brother Russell:—
I want to write and tell you how I am rejoicing in the truth to-day: the blessed truth as it is in Jesus. Words cannot tell of the peace that fills my heart, since I have come to understand the full meaning of the glad tidings, of which the angels sang at our Lord’s first advent.
At twenty-one years of age, I was converted, and joined the M.E. Church; but I was always so troubled about the eternal torment of those who did not seek and serve the Lord, many of whom I knew to be really better in life than the majority of church members. For years I struggled to believe it just and right, against my own heart’s protest, because orthodoxy said so, and finally I had to put it out of my mind, or lose my faith in the love and mercy of God. About three years ago, I went to visit friends in the country, and while there a booklet entitled “The Old Theology” was given me, which set me to thinking and proving its truth by God’s Word.
The light began to dawn on my heart and soon the tract, “What the Scriptures say about Hell,” was given me by dear Brother L., together with “Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices,” and Watch Towers from time to time. I saw more and more of the wonderful love and mercy of God in the gift of Jesus, a Savior to bless not only the few, but all, all. And in answer to my constant prayer that I might understand the real truth, the light has filled my soul; and, praise the Lord, the truth makes me free indeed!
I had been a teacher in Sunday-school for years, but soon I was made to understand forcibly that no such doctrine could be tolerated there. They urged me to remain and believe as I wished, but keep it to myself; but I could not teach a class, what I knew was false doctrine, so sent in my resignation. Then came the most bitter denunciations from the pulpit of such (as the pastor called it) damnable heresy. I withdrew from the membership of the church, and since that time I have had an unutterable peace. How glad I am to be free from the cruel bondage of creeds, and forms, which now are meaningless to me.
I have been a reader of the Watch Tower for the last year, through the kindness of a dear brother who subscribed for me. It has been such a help and comfort to me and after I read it I have sent it by mail, and have given it personally to those whom I felt would be helped into the light by it. I have also been giving out the tracts and booklets from the Bible House, as I want to scatter the seed which has cleared away the false ideals of “Sectarianism” from my own heart.
And now may God’s blessing rest more and more upon you, as His instrument, to send this blessed truth to longing hearts.
M. A. SMITH,