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GREAT VOICES IN HEAVEN
“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”—Rev. 11:15. R.V.
WE ARE NOT SURPRISED that it is difficult for the Lord’s people, and impossible for the world, to recognize clearly and distinctly the fulfilment of prophecy at the time of its fulfilment. It has ever been thus. Looking back to the first advent of our Lord, where many prophecies converged and met fulfilment, we notice with what difficulty even the “Israelites indeed” were then enabled to grasp the reality of their fulfilment. We remember how the Lord’s brethren and his disciples, although in close contact with the Master, hearing him who “spake as never man spake,” and seeing miracles performed such as had never been performed before, were, nevertheless, “slow to believe all the things written [concerning the Messiah] in the law and the prophets”—slow to realize the fulfilment of these predictions. Even John the Baptist, who realized that he had been specially commissioned of God to do the work of a forerunner, to introduce Messiah, and who had been given the token that the one upon whom he should see the dove descend, he might know to be the real Messiah,—after he had borne this witness to Jesus, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world”—after all this, was not thoroughly convinced of the fulfilment of either his own prophecies or the prophecies of others; and while languishing in prison sent messengers to our Lord inquiring, “Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?” Jesus offered him no new demonstration, but merely pointed out that the Scriptures were being fulfilled by him day by day,—demonstrating that he was the very Christ.
Indeed, we see clearly that all prophecies were written with the divine intention that they should be so obscured as to be unintelligible except to a particular class for whom their information was intended; and to be made known to these only through the guidance and interpretation of the holy spirit. It is in perfect accord with this that we find that our Lord’s teachings at his first advent were spoken in parables and dark sayings; that hearing his hearers, might not understand—except the few, the “Israelites indeed,” the chosen, the elect. To these our Lord so explained his course; saying, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God; but unto them that are without [to outsiders] all these things are done in parables [and dark sayings]; … that hearing they may hear and not understand.” (Mark 4:11,12.) And these chosen “Israelites indeed” needed special instruction even after his resurrection; for we read that he explained unto them the Scriptures; saying, “Thus it is written and thus it behooved the Son of Man to suffer and to enter into his glory.” Similarly it was with difficulty, and only under the guidance of the specially instructed apostles, that the primitive Church learned of the partial fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy in the Pentecostal blessing; and, later on, were taught respecting the fulfilment of other prophecies through the widening of the message of reconciliation and joint-heirship in the Kingdom, so as to include such Gentiles as would come unto the Lord through faith and obedience.
These things being obviously true, we are not to wonder that the fulfilment of prophecies now, in the end of the Gospel age, in its harvest time, should be similarly obscure, and require elucidation, and then be comprehensible only to the true spiritual Israelites, now keenly awake, and seeking to know and to do the Lord’s good pleasure. In the Millennial Dawn series, we have called attention to many of these prophetic fulfilments now transpiring;—to the end of the 6,000 years of the reign of evil, and to the opening of the seventh thousand, or period of rest and blessing;—to the great antitypical Jubilee, a thousand years long, in whose beginning we are now living, and whose trumpets of Jubilee announcement are now antitypically being blown in the proclamation of the restitution of all things which God hath
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spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets (Acts 3:21);—to the “Times of the Gentiles” whose full end will be with a great time of trouble, political, ecclesiastical, social, witnessing the full establishment of Christ’s Kingdom upon the ruins of present institutions;—to the close of the 2,300 days of Daniel’s prophecy, and the cleansing of God’s antitypical temple, the true Church, from the defilement of the dark ages, as now being due;—to the end of the 1,335 days of Daniel’s prophecy which were to bring in the present “harvest” time, which, as foretold, has brought, and is bringing to God’s people great joy and blessings through an expanded view of the divine plan of salvation, enabling them to appreciate better the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of the love of God, which manifests itself in the divine plan;—to the completion of the parallels between fleshly Israel, the type, and spiritual Israel, the antitype, by which we see that we are now in the “harvest” of the present age, and can know what to expect in its remaining years if we look back at the closing years of the Jewish harvest, the type. As our Lord Jesus said to some of his faithful ones when explaining the prophecies due at the first advent, so, also, might now be applied, to some of God’s people, the Master’s words,—”Oh, slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.”
Our text is another prophecy which we believe applies in this harvest time, and which, consequently, has a beginning of its fulfilment now. As already pointed out in these columns, we, in common with almost all expositors, recognize that the seven trumpets of Revelation are symbolical and not literal—indeed that this entire book is a book of symbols, and that so far it has been symbolically fulfilled. Christian people in general understand that five of these trumpets have already “sounded” and are in the past;—we would say six. It is admitted that those that have already “sounded” have not been literal blasts of a bugle on the air, but divine decrees and their fulfilments; and we esteem that it is reasonable to expect that the seventh trumpet will be similar in this respect to the preceding six. But literal things are so much more easily received by the natural man that, even though absurd, they commend themselves as instead of the truth,—until our minds are guided of the holy spirit into the proper channel by “comparing spiritual things with spiritual”—by comparing the seventh trumpet with the preceding six trumpets, and not with a natural blast upon the air. So firmly entrenched is the error that many advanced Christians, Bible students and ministers are really expecting some day to hear what is sometimes denominated “Gabriel’s horn,” shrill enough and loud enough to awaken the dead. It is both proper and necessary that we exercise great patience with Christian brethren, who thus display their infantile development of knowledge in respect to spiritual things, while we point out to them that this seventh trumpet—”The Last Trumpet”—”The Trump of God,” is as much symbolic as were its predecessors, and marks a much larger and more important fulfilment than any of them. Its fulfilment extends through a period of 1,000 years; its events mark and coincide with all the various features of the Millennial reign of Christ. Its beginning, we understand, was in 1878, and its termination will be a thousand years future from that date. It will be “sounding” for all that time—during which its events will be in process of accomplishment.
What the events represented by this Seventh Trumpet are, is briefly explained in the verses following our text (17,18). The first feature of this Trumpet is the announcement of Christ’s Kingdom in the earth—the assumption of his great office, the beginning of his reign. This, as we have already shown from other Scriptures, was chronologically due to begin in 1878. The results of this assumption of authority by Messiah follow in due course as narrated. (1) “The nations were angry and thy wrath is come.” The laying of judgment to the line and justice to the plummet, and the sweeping away of the refuge of lies, an early feature in our Lord’s reign, as described in the prophecy of Isaiah (Isa. 28:17), will necessarily result in great commotion in the affairs of the “present evil world”; because its social, financial, political and religious conditions and arrangements will not square with the Lord’s line and plummet of righteousness. And because he will not
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put a new patch upon an old garment, present institutions in their entirety will be overthrown, as has been predicted, in the “time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation”—no, nor ever shall be afterward. How graphically in a few words is this trouble pointed out,—”The nations were angry, and thy wrath is come.”
TIME OF THE DEAD—TO BE JUDGED
Then follows a statement of the object of the establishment of the Kingdom upon the ruins of present institutions; namely, because that will be “the time of the dead that they should be judged.” The dead—who are they but the whole human family which came under divine sentence of death? “Death has passed upon all men, for that all are sinners.” Only those who have heard of and have received Jesus upon divine conditions have life; all the remainder of mankind, from the divine standpoint, are dead—under sentence of death, and rapidly hastening to the tomb. “He that hath the Son, hath life; he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.”—John 5:12.
But are the dead to be judged? If they have not already been judged, why should they be dead? Is not death the penalty of sin, the sentence, the result of a judgment? Truly so; but a redemption has taken place. All became involved in sin and its penalty, death, through one man’s disobedience (Adam’s), and even so through the obedience of one (Jesus) justification to life has passed upon all the condemned,—the dead world. As a result of the atonement the whole world of dead humanity is to have an opportunity of hearing the voice of the Son of Man (his commands), and of obeying, and of thus being judged by his words, to be either worthy or unworthy of everlasting life. They cannot be judged without his words, and the vast majority,—”dead in trespasses and sins,” blinded and deafened by the Adversary, through sin,—have not thus far been enabled to hear their Redeemer’s wonderful words of life. In the present age only “so many as the Lord your God shall call” have been able to hear with any distinctness; only such, therefore, have had any responsibility for, or been able in any degree to reject, the wonderful
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words of life, and to bring upon themselves afresh the sentence of death,—the Second Death. The present age, therefore, witnesses the call and the acceptance of only a “little flock” to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom,—to make joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord in the Millennial Kingdom. They will be with him in all the work of his one thousand years’ reign, for the blessing and uplifting of the dead. The dead world will then have the eyes of its understanding opened and its ears unstopped, and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth and reach every member of the dead race, not only those who have not yet gone down into the tomb, but “all the families of the earth;” for, “all that are in the grave shall come forth” for the very purpose of hearing the “wonderful words of life,” and of being judged by them. If they shall accept them heartily they shall, by restitution processes, be brought fully up to life conditions; such as Adam possessed before sin and death took hold upon him; if they shall reject them and cling to sin and injustice, they shall be adjudged worthy of the Second Death and be “destroyed from amongst the people”—Acts 3:23.
What is here termed “the time of the dead that they should be judged,” is elsewhere termed the “day of judgment,” of which the Apostle declares, “A day with the Lord is as a thousand years”—with men. We remember that the inspired declaration respecting this day of judgment is—”God hath appointed a day [the Millennial day—the thousand years of Christ’s reign], in which he will judge the world [dead in trespasses and sins, but redeemed by the precious blood] in righteousness [that is with a just trial or judgment] by that man whom he hath ordained”—the Christ, Head and body.”—Acts 17:31.
What a glorious judgment day that will be, and how miserably false have been our conceptions of it in the past—how foolish, how ridiculous, how dishonoring to God and repulsive to justice, wisdom and love divine! Yes, this is an object worthy of the Millennial Kingdom;—it is emphatically “the time of the dead [world] that they should be judged,” that they should have their trial for life or for death everlasting,—their share of the great ransom. Then will not be the time for the judgment of the Church, for that takes place in the present age; as it is written, “Judgment must begin at the house of God”; as it is written again, “When we are judged of the Lord, we are chastened, that we should not be condemned [judged] with the world”—in the coming Millennial age of judgment or trial.
ALL REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS UNDER SEVENTH TRUMPET
After having thus summarized the work of the Millennial age to be a work of judgment, beginning with a national judgment and wrath upon the nations in the establishment of God’s Kingdom, and gradually accomplishing for every member of the race of Adam an individual judgment, the declaration proceeds to give certain particulars; saying,—it is the time “That thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldst destroy them that corrupt the earth.” Here the entire work of the Millennial age, all the events covered by this seventh symbolic trumpet, are enumerated, the prophets, the ancient worthies, and the teachers or exponents of the Lord’s words, of this Gospel age, together with all the saints, all the faithful in Christ Jesus, all the holy ones, are to be rewarded early in this Millennial day: their reward is to be amongst the first events under this seventh trumpet. Subsequently, all the dead world shall “hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear [obey] shall live [attain to full perfection of being, life everlasting];” thus will be fulfilled the rewarding of “them that fear God’s name, small and great.” They that reverence God will reverence his laws, and come into full and hearty obedience to the same; and to all such the Lord will be pleased to give the great reward of life eternal.
As for the others, such as will refuse to hear the voice of the Son of Man, such as will neglect, when they hear them, the wonderful words of life, such as will prefer injustice, in-equity, even when they know thoroughly the good from the evil,—what of these? These are corrupt, and their influence will be corrupting, defiling; and hence the divine decree is that they shall be destroyed in the Second Death. And all this rewarding and judging and cleansing of the earth from every defilement, bringing it back to its primitive holiness, perfect harmony with God—all this will be accomplished under the sounding of the seventh trumpet—by the time Immanuel’s reign of righteousness shall have accomplished its intended work; for, “he must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet”;—until he shall have rescued from condemnation and death, and brought back into harmony with the Almighty, every member of the human family desiring such reconciliation with God and found to be a lover of righteousness and a hater of iniquity.
WHOSE ARE THE GREAT VOICES?
If now we have gotten a glimpse of the purport of the Seventh Trumpet, and are no longer expecting its fulfilment as a voice upon the air, but in the glorious events of the Kingdom, what shall we say respecting the “great voices” which, at its very beginning, are to announce that the time has come for the establishment of the Kingdom? We answer that we are not to expect them to be angelic shoutings in the sky, nor mutterings of thunder. We are to remember that the voices are symbolic as well as the trumpets, and in this direction we look for the fulfilment of this declaration which must be due at about the present time, if we are correct in our understanding of the prophetic teachings, to the effect that the Kingdom power of Messiah was assumed in 1878, and that the King has since been ordering the events which will shortly bring about the great time of trouble, the angry nations, and the wrath of God manifesting itself in their destruction, as nations and institutions—not as people, though, undoubtedly, many human lives will be sacrificed in that trouble.
As we examine some of the parallels given to illustrate the work of this Gospel age, especially the work of this “harvest” in the close of the age, we learn that like as the Lord and his followers at the first advent did a reaping work in the harvest of the Jewish age, separating the “wheat” from the “chaff”—gathering the wheat into the garner of the higher
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spirit dispensation, and leaving the chaff to be consumed with the fire of trouble which came upon the Jewish nation utterly destroying its polity,—so likewise will it be in the harvesting of this Gospel age, in the separating here of the “wheat” from the “tares;” in the gathering the wheat to the garner of the heavenly Kingdom and the abandonment of the tares to the burning time of trouble which will destroy the present institutions of the angry nations. As the reapers, who in the Jewish harvest gathered the wheat into the garner, were the Lord’s faithful servants (men in the flesh), so the reapers in this present harvest will be the Lord’s faithful servants (men in the flesh), under the guidance and instruction of his Word.
Similarly we find that the Lord’s people living at the present time are again referred to by the Lord in figurative language, when he declares that he will send forth his messengers with the sound of the great
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trumpet [the Seventh Trumpet] and shall gather together his elect unto him, from the four winds of heaven. This work we understand to be now in progress; each one who receives a knowledge of present truth is not only made glad and strengthened, refreshed individually, but is also put into service forthwith and permitted in a special sense to be a co-worker with his Lord in the harvest work,—the gathering unto the Lord of all the ripe wheat of this present time. According to the parable the wheat and the tares were to grow together until the harvest;—there was to be no general gathering or separating before the harvest: and so we see that, in all denominations, wheat and tares are to be found very generally commingled. But now the harvest time has come, and the harvest truth, as a sickle, is to separate and gather the wheat, that it may all be safely garnered. The wheat is not to be gathered into another new sect, or denomination, with another new sectarian name, but is to be gathered to the Lord,—”Gather my saints together unto me; those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Psa. 50:5.) This work is going onward gradually, steadily; more and more the Lord’s true people are coming to a knowledge of his true plan and getting free from the ignorance and superstition and blindness of the dark ages, superinduced by the great adversary, Satan. Gradually these faithful ones are being individually ripened, perfected and made meet for the Kingdom, and passing into it, they shall be “changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye”—the moment of death.
As in these various parables and figures, representing the end of this age, the living members of the Church are evidently the active agents in the Lord’s service—as we do not see angels going about through the world binding the tares with literal cords into literal bundles, and gathering the wheat into a literal barn,—neither do we see the angels flying through the heavens [symbolic of the religious institutions of the present time]; so we are not to expect that the voices under the Seventh Trumpet, proclaiming the Kingdom, will be any more than human voices and human agents. Nor should we expect them to be other than the voices of those who have some measure of light in respect to the times in which we are now living, the harvest time, the time of the establishment of the Kingdom. Those who utter these voices declaring that the “Kingdom [dominion] of this world, has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ” must of necessity be such as have first learned this fact from some quarter.
There are some of God’s people in all parts of the world (and their number is increasing daily) who do realize fully and thoroughly these very things, and who are doing all in their power to gather together, unto the Lord, all who are his consecrated ones;—seeking to separate the wheat from the tares and to prepare them for the garner, the Kingdom; and to these we must look expecting to hear from them the “great voices” announcing the Kingdom.
We might say that the volumes of Millennial Dawn have to some extent been such voices, announcing the Kingdom, and giving the reasons for believing that it began to be established in 1878; that it will reach full establishment in October, 1914; and that ultimately it shall bless all the families of the earth. These voices have been circulated here and there throughout the whole civilized world, not by worldly agents, not through book-sellers, but by those who have themselves been blessed by the light, and who desire to render a service to the Lord and to the truth, and to lay down their lives for the brethren by taking to them the glorious and encouraging message now due to the Lord’s people. These voices have been uttered, and to some extent heard, in the symbolic heavens, the nominal church; yet they do not seem to fulfill all that is implied by the “great voices” of our text;—we note other voices, all however, from the—
“HERALD OF CHRIST’S PRESENCE”
For some three years past a “volunteer work” has been steadily progressing amongst the brethren—the work of rendering assistance to the members of the household of faith still in Babylon, still in darkness respecting the Lord, his true character, his true plan, and respecting the nearness of his Kingdom. This consists generally in the circulation of printed matter, not far from the exits of the various churches of all denominations, especially in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Their services are all rendered freely “as unto the Lord”—time, energy, carfare, etc., are gladly sacrificed in the service of the truth and of the brethren; and, additionally, contributions are sent in from which the “ammunition” is provided,—the tracts, booklets, papers, etc., for free distribution. These “Voices,” uttered for the past three years, have been “great voices” in the sense of being widespread and in the sense of exercising considerable influence—they have been heard by many. But although they have been tending in the direction of the announcement mentioned in our text, they have not, up to the present time, made a distinct annunciation of the important matter mentioned in our text; namely, that the Kingdom time has come; that the King is present and has assumed the authority, and that his work is henceforth to be accounted the chief factor in connection with all of earth’s affairs;—as leading up to the great disintegration of present institutions in the approaching time of trouble which shall make his people willing to hear his voice—when many nations and peoples shall say, “let us go up to
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the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord’s house; he will teach us of his ways and we shall walk in his paths”—when he “will turn to the people a pure language [a pure word of instruction which they can understand—in contrast with the present mysticism and confusion] that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”—Zeph. 3:9.
The volunteer matter prepared for this present year (the issues of our journal for February 15 and March 15) had already been prepared, and contracts had already been made for a million copies of these issues, in equal parts, for this volunteer season, which will begin immediately after the Memorial—April 27th—before we thought of how wonderfully this year’s distribution will agree with the declaration of our text. The matter was called to our attention by one of the brethren of the office force. Here will be a million voices proclaiming throughout the nominal Church (symbolic heavens) the great message of this present time; namely, the second presence of our Lord as the reaper of the harvest of the Gospel age, gathering the wheat into the “garner” and destroying the tares (as tares—not as human beings) and establishing his glorious Kingdom upon a firm foundation of righteousness and equity, for the blessing of every creature redeemed by his own precious blood. These voices summarize in a brief way some of the testimonies of the Scripture respecting the presence of Christ, its time, its order of events, and his final manifestation in the glory of Kingdom power. We have no assurance that the “heavens” will hear, or respond to the message, and glorify God on this behalf; indeed we can only expect that at most only a remnant will be counted worthy to understand respecting the great work of God now in progress—just as only a few in the end of the Jewish age were found worthy to understand and appreciate the truths concerning their harvest time.
THE PRIVILEGE OF THE SERVICE
Referring to the reapers of the Jewish harvest, his faithful disciples, our Lord said, “He that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto eternal life.” The same words are evidently applicable in this present harvest: it is a privilege to serve our Lord at any time and in any manner, but a special privilege came to the faithful in the end of the Jewish age; and similarly a special privilege of service has come to God’s people now, in the end of the Gospel age. The message may indeed be resented, and those who promulgate it may be spoken evil of and persecuted, as were the apostles and faithful brethren in the past; but what of this? Shall we not like them and like our Lord “learn obedience” by the things which we may suffer for the truth’s sake? Shall not we also learn to “rejoice in tribulation” and to “count it all joy” when our names are cast out as evil, and when all manner of evil is said against us falsely for Christ’s sake? Yea, verily! We do rejoice, and we will rejoice yet more, in the great privilege granted us of being co-laborers together with God in this grandest and most momentous day the world has ever known.
The number of those engaging in this volunteer service is quite considerable—especially in some localities where the love, the zeal for the Lord, and for the truth, abounds greatly. (Those who cannot thus engage can find other opportunities tho none better, except, perhaps, the colporteur work.) In Washington, Toronto and Boston, are found three of the most energetic companies, probably 70 per cent of whom are so full of zeal as to be able so to arrange their affairs as to participate in this service of the truth. It is not surprising to know also that nowhere does the love of the Lord, and interest in his cause more abound than among the brethren of these three cities. The friends participating gratefully acknowledge that they have received blessings far more than compensating them for every trial and every sacrifice involved. Yes, indeed “He that reapeth receiveth wages,” daily, hourly;—his service brings its rich recompense; he realizes that God is accepting his imperfect work through Jesus, and that thus he is confirming and establishing his faith and demonstrating the honesty of his consecration to the Lord, the reward of which God has promised shall be life everlasting through Jesus Christ our Lord.
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We hope, dear brethren and sisters, that in view of what we saw in our issue of December 1, 1901, respecting the “Three Signs” and respecting our share in the making of those signs; and in view also of what we saw respecting our privilege as reapers in the harvest, gathering the “wheat”; and what we saw respecting the gathering together of the elect unto the Lord; and what we see in this article respecting the “great voices” which are to declare the dominion of this world transferred to the Lord; and that now he is a King among the nations; and that it is our privilege to be engaged in the work of sounding forth the announcement in the “heavens”;—in view of all these things we trust that fresh zeal, fresh energy, fresh courage, will be the portion of each of the Lord’s consecrated ones, so that this year more than ever we may show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Should all the Lord’s people, who enjoy this light of present truth, become thoroughly awake to their privileges, it would probably require two million papers to supply their requirements during the coming season, and if this quantity should be called for, we believe that the Lord would, in due time, enable us to meet the requirements. Let us each resolve that others may do as seems proper to them; but that we will exercise our God-given judgments and opportunities in the service of the truth—as the feet members of the body of Christ “saying unto Zion,—Thy God reigneth”—the reign of the anointed one has commenced.
1902 VOLUNTEER WORK AND AMMUNITION ORDERS, 1902
Let each little group elect as its captain for this “volunteer” service the brother manifesting the greatest executive skill and judgment. Ascertain how many “volunteers” you can secure. Meet weekly for conference, prayer and encouragement. Estimate the quantity of papers necessary to serve the attendants at all the churches you can serve, and order from us at once one–half of these. Order the remaining half one month before you will be ready to use them.
The object in having the two different papers for this year is, to avoid sending duplicates into the
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homes—because members of the same family usually leave church together. We will send the papers of equal parts in each bundle; but when you open the bundles, please, first thing, separate the two kinds and then combine them so that each paper of one date will be followed by another of the other date in the entire pile. Then as they are handed out they will go equally and alternately. We have no opportunity for thus mixing them before sending to you. Large orders will be filled in bundles of 800 and 1,600 (half and half, the two dates) and will be shipped by our printers by freight. Use up whatever old “ammunition” you have on hand, but order no more for this service.
— April 15, 1902 —