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VOL. XX111. AUGUST 1, 1902. No. 15
Views from the Watch Tower……………………227
Laws of Nature vs. Laws of God……………228
Without Religion Man is Lost………………229
Higher Criticism Infidelity
Reaching the Sunday School………………230
Who is He that Condemneth?……………………230
The Desire of All Nations
Poem—”He Careth For You”……………………235
Israel’s Typical Tabernacle…………………235
Nadab and Abihu Cut Off………………………237
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FAVORABLE METHODS OF SERVICE
The chiefest service we could commend, open to all who are unencumbered and in active use of their faculties, is the colporteur work. It is an honorable form of ministering the truth from house to house, as the apostles served. It is a service which the Lord seems to have blessed as much or more than any other for gathering the “wheat.” It is apparent at once to all that to sell such books as the DAWNS at 25 cents each, cannot be for money-making: that it is merely another way of preaching the truth. No other religious books are sold at any such price. Indeed few subscription books sell for less than two to three dollars each. Any who can serve in this work are invited to write to us for “Hints to Colporteurs.”
MORE VOLUNTEER AMMUNITION
The friends are displaying great energy this year in the distribution of literature near Christian meeting places. We bid you all God-speed in this very effective preaching of the Gospel. Our first order for the special issues of our journal used this year was for 1,000,000 copies. Over one half of this quantity has already gone out to fill large requisitions and nearly 200,000 are on back orders waiting for the papers as fast as the printers can supply them. We hope to get caught up very soon now, and request that those who have sent us small orders for mail shipment exercise just a little more patience. “Let patience have her perfect work.” We have just issued 400,000 more of these issues, so as to be ready for your later orders.
Meantime let those who have not been engaged in this branch of the service enquire of themselves whether or not they can afford to miss so grand an opportunity for showing forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. Do you know of and are you using a better method of preaching the truth? “He that reapeth receiveth wages [joy and peace and blessing in the present life even] and gathereth fruit unto everlasting life.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
TROUBLE AMONGST METHODISTS
FOR MANY YEARS Rev. Agar Beet, D.D., has been theological tutor of Richmond College, England. Of him a prominent English journal says: “Dr. Beet occupies a unique position in Methodism. He is the only Methodist theologian today who has won a very great reputation outside his own denomination. His writings, particularly on the question of eschatology, have won a very wide circulation and have produced a profound effect in many quarters.” Dr. Beet, it seems, got to studying the Bible and found in it nothing to support the common supposition that God has so constituted man that he can never cease to be. He has found it to teach, on the contrary, that everlasting life is God’s gift through Christ to our dying race, and that a refusal of that gift would signify death—not life, in torment or otherwise: that “the wages of sin is death;” that “the soul that sinneth it shall die;” that “he that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life, but the wrath of God [the curse—the sentence of death] abideth on him.”
Dr. Beet’s crime consisted in teaching these Bible truths with which Methodist doctrines, like those of so many other “traditions of the ancients,” conflict. To teach along these Biblical lines would quickly extinguish all the “fires of hell” which Methodists have poked so industriously for a century; it would relieve God of the charges of injustice and lovelessness and devilishness hurled against him by some of his fallen creatures who, nevertheless, know well that they are not so depraved as either to plan or work out such diabolical tortures; it would show up Methodism as well as other “isms” as slanderers of God in these respects, and would undermine confidence in the infallibility of their teachings, and send the people for instruction to the Bible instead of to creeds and catechisms of the dark ages and to other blind guides.
The “Wesleyan Institution Committee” concluded that the foregoing grounds were quite sufficient for dropping Dr. Beet from the college faculty. There is plenty of room for Higher Criticism Infidelity and for anti-Scriptural evolution theories in all such institutions, but no room for the truth—the Bible must not be heard, for it, being the great antagonist of error, would speedily make havoc of the multitudinous errors developed in medieval times and duly labeled “Orthodoxy.” In a defense of his position, published in The Methodist Times (London), Dr. Beet says:
“During the last century Methodist opinion about the doom of the lost has completely changed. Very few Wesleyan ministers can now read Wesley’s sermons on ‘Hell’ and on ‘Eternity,’ Nos. 73 and 54, without repudiating much of their teaching with indignation. Evidently the writer accepted on these topics current phraseology without duly weighing its meaning. But I notice that, when selecting fifty-three sermons as an embodiment of his distinctive teaching, Wesley did not include these sermons; and that, in the sermon on ‘The Great Assize,’ which he did include, there is very little which contradicts the teaching of my book.
“This change of opinion has been carefully ignored. Many scholarly and godly ministers have nursed their doubts in silence, some under a sense of guilt for concealing their opinions, until the need for concealment has become to them a humiliating and intolerable bondage. In some cases, men have not dared even to think, lest the thoughts they dared not utter should make them the more conscious of their bondage. This doubt and fear are very widespread. There has been a retreat from the position held by our fathers, along the whole line; for the more part in darkness and solitude. Of all this, I have abundant and pathetic proof, some of which I am able to produce.”
A reviewer writing in one of the leading London dailies says on this subject:—
“For my own part I have no quarrel with Dr. Beet on this matter. I presume that few men of intelligence and culture accept today the old dogma of eternal suffering which was preached with so much fervour forty or fifty years ago. Even the Wesleyan Conference itself has expunged from its catechism the definite statements that once found so lurid an expression. I remember very well
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in the days of my childhood being asked the questions and giving the answers, both of which I had learnt from the catechism. ‘What sort of place is hell?’ Answer: ‘Hell is a dark and bottomless pit full of fire and brimstone.’ Question: ‘How will the wicked be punished there?’ Answer: ‘The wicked will be punished in hell by having their bodies tormented by fire, and their souls by a sense of the wrath of God.’ Question: ‘How long will those torments last?’ Answer: ‘The torments of hell will last for ever and ever.’ These questions and answers were in a catechism designed, as was said on its title page, for children of tender years. I presume, therefore, that the Methodist Conference has changed its views on these particular questions, or these questions and answers would not have been expunged from their catechism.
“In theory, however, there has been no change in Methodist doctrines or dogmas. The standards are the same today as at the beginning. Wesley’s ‘Fifty-three Sermons,’ with his ‘Notes on the New Testament,’ remain the ultimate court of appeal. At the Synods Wesleyan ministers are still asked the old questions, and are expected to give an affirmative answer. Though there has been no change in Methodist dogmas or standards, there has been an unmistakable change in the character of Methodist preaching, and that change has been noticed, not so much in what has been said as in what has been left unsaid. Questions on which forty years ago, or even twenty years ago, Methodist ministers were emphatic, today they are very largely silent on, and this silence is not always because the ministers themselves feel in any doubt or uncertainty on the questions, but because it is not considered wise or prudent to stir up any kind of religious controversy. The gospel of expediency is very popular in most religious communions.
“Dr. Beet, in his manifesto, says: ‘This change of opinion has been carefully ignored. Many scholarly and godly ministers have nursed their doubts in silence, some under a sense of guilt.’ If this statement be true, it seems to me to show a lamentable lack of moral courage on the part of the ministers in question. It is sincerely to be hoped that none of these ministers preached what they had ceased to believe. I am afraid that the atmosphere of ecclesiastical communions generally is not favourable to the growth of courage or the development of an independent spirit. The dead hand of the ancient creed-makers is still upon us.
“I am told that those who are anxious that Dr. Beet should no longer occupy the Professor’s chair at Richmond College are very desirous of maintaining what they call ‘the purity of doctrine.’ It is all very well to stand for ‘purity of doctrine,’ if we only knew what purity of doctrine is. One, of course, can admire their zeal, and in some measure share their anxiety. But it seems to me that if we were one-half as anxious about purity of conduct as we are about purity of doctrine it would be very much better for the world. There are a hundred questions of doctrine on which we may disagree, and our disagreement will not affect by a hair’s breadth the condition or the destiny of communities or of individuals. … We are horrified at what we call heresy, but we wink at drunkenness. We plunge the whole denomination into convulsions because a man dares to depart, even in the smallest degree, from what we conceived to be the standard set up a hundred and fifty years ago; and yet we allow publicans and brewers and Stock Exchange gamblers and company promoters and swindlers and oppressors to occupy prominent positions in the Church, to take the chair at missionary meetings, and lay foundation stones of churches and Sunday schools.
Notwithstanding the fact that all nations have been made drunk with Babylon’s wine of false doctrine (Rev. 17:2) we find the non-professors rather less intoxicated than are professing Christians and able to give some rather sound advice, as in the article just quoted. Thank God that the Millennial Morning is here and that it will not be possible to keep the world and the Church asleep, stupid, thoughtless much longer! The silver Jubilee trumpets are being sounded by the priests (of the “royal priesthood”) announcing the Jubilee, and incidentally awakening all true Israelites to the fact that for a long time they have been subjects of “nocturnal halucinations” and horrible nightmares, without basis or reason.
LAWS OF NATURE VS. LAWS OF GOD
The Christian, accepting the Bible as his standard of philosophy, long ago found himself in conflict with so called Science which, ignoring a personal and almighty God whose will controls Nature, defies Nature; places Nature’s Laws high above all others and attempts to prove Nature to be her own Creator by evolutionary processes under the Laws of Nature. The followers of the Lord, Jehovah, recognize his right to control the universe and—both directly and through his Son and his apostles and others to so control Nature that winds and waves and demons and disease would obey. Those who believe in the miracles of the Bible neither deify Nature nor reverence its operations as unalterable laws, but they do, on the contrary, sanctify the Lord God in their hearts.
It is pleasant to find a Scientist committing himself on these lines and renouncing his worship of Nature as a god. Prof. S. P. Langley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, recently took this position in a paper read before the Philosophical Society of Washington. Among other things he said:—
“It is perhaps a hard saying to most that there are no such things as ‘laws of nature’; but this is the theme on which I have to speak.
“These, then, are the laws of man’s own mind, or the effects of his own mind, which he projects outside of himself and imagines to be due to some permanent and unalterable cause having an independent existence …
“To decorate our own guesses at nature’s meaning with the name ‘laws of nature’ is a presumption due to our own feeble human nature, which we can forgive for demanding something more permanent than itself, but which also leads us to have such an exalted conceit of our own opinions as to hide from ourselves that it is these very opinions which we call nature’s laws.
“The history of the past shows that once most philosophers, even atheists, thus regarded ‘the laws of nature,’ not as their own interpretations of her, but as something external to themselves, as entities partaking the attributes of Deity—entities which they deified in print with capital letters—as we sometimes do still, tho these ‘laws’ now are shorn of ‘the glories of their birth and state’ which they
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once wore, and are not turning out to be, ‘substantial things.’
“But are there not really things (like the fact of gravitation, for instance) external to ourselves, which would exist whether we were here or not, and which are part of the order of nature? Apparently, yes,—but part of the laws of nature, no!
“The present generation has begun, if not to be modest or humble, to be somewhat less arrogant in the assumption of its knowledge. We are perhaps beginning to understand, not in a purely poetical sense, but in a very real one, that there may be all around us, in heaven and earth, things beyond measure, of which ‘philosophy’ not only knows nothing, but has not dreamed.
“As a consequence of this, there is growing to be an unspoken, rather than clearly formulated, admission that we know little of the order of nature, and nothing at all of the laws of nature. …
“Let us repeat, and repeat once more, that tho nature be external to ourselves, the so-called ‘laws of nature’ are from within—laws of our own minds—and a simple product of our human nature. Let us agree that the scientific imagination can suggest questions to put to nature, but not her answers. Let us read Bacon again, and agree with him that we understand only what we have observed. Finally, let us add that we never understand even that, in the fulness of its meaning; for remember that of all the so-called laws of nature the most constantly observed, and most intimately and personally known to us, are those of life and death—and how much do we know about the meaning of them? …
“The lesson for us is we must not consider that anything is absolutely settled or true.”
Ah yes! Now we know that they know that they don’t know. Believers alone know the knowable things, and all else they leave to the all wise One in whom they trust. “Thy Word is Truth,” and it is scientific from the standpoint of The Divine Plan of the Ages and from no other standpoint.
“WITHOUT RELIGION MAN IS LOST”
The Atheists of Berlin, a numerous body, are criticising the Kaiser for his pronounced religious tendencies and the publicity he is giving his views on the subject. They remind him that the ablest minds in Germany do not share his belief in a hereafter, that in proof of it the Berlinese are the least given to church attendance of any large city in the world, and that disbelief instead of hindering actually does more to advance the material well-being
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of the empire than Christianity has done or can do. The critics inveigh particularly against the royal pronouncement that a man whose life is not founded on religion is a lost man. This reasoning they contend belongs to the benighted centuries and is a reflection upon enlightened Germany of today. The address which has aroused this complaint was delivered last week in Posen. Here is the part objectionable to infidelity: “The German empire to-day is rooted in simplicity and fear of God. I look to all, priests and laymen, to help me uphold religion among the people, in its health and strength. This applies equally to the two creeds, Catholic and Protestant.
“It is with pride and joy that I am able to tell you that the pope said to my special ambassador who went to Rome on the occasion of the Holy Father’s jubilee that he had always had a high opinion of the piety of the Germans, and especially of that of the German army. The pope asked my ambassador to tell his sovereign that the one country in Europe where order and discipline still prevailed, with respect for authority and regard for the church, and where the church could live, was the German Empire, and for that the Papal See was indebted to the German Emperor.
“This justifies me in saying that our two great creeds must, while living side by side, keep in view their one great aim—to uphold and strengthen the fear of God and reverence for religion. Whether we are ‘moderns’ or whether we labor in this or that field, does not matter at all. He who does not found his life on religion is a lost man. I rejoice that I have placed my whole empire, my people and my army, as well as myself and my house, beneath the Cross and under the protection of Him who said, ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.'”
We are living in a peculiar time in more respects than one. While the whole “religious world” is losing its faith in the Bible and accepting instead a belief in Evolution;—that Nature is our god which made us and is evolving us into higher conditions by some kind of “Laws of Nature”—and while doubt is growing respecting a personal Creator or any interest he takes in mankind;—at the same time each skeptical person seems more anxious than ever that the common people should maintain their respect for “religion.” They care little what kind of religion—good or bad—so long as it has some fear, some terrors, connected with it that will restrain the common people. They realize that if the latter ever get to see matters in the same skeptical light in which the wealthy and educated view them it would mean a death knell to the present order of things social, political, financial and ecclesiastical. They want no change; realizing that any possible change would surely be to the detriment of their “interests.”
The Kaiser is one of the world’s wise men; and it is for this reason that he throws his influence more and more toward Papacy which, he realizes, will hold its influence upon the “common people” longer than will Protestantism; because it has a firm grasp upon the reason and intellect of its votaries. This disposition is a growing one: Patronize every religion that will maintain superstition.
We do not complain at this worldly wisdom, believing, as we have frequently stated, that the worst form of government is better than anarchy, and that even gross superstition has points of advantage over scoffing atheism. It is for this reason that we seek to avoid setting free with the truth those who would use their liberty as a license for evil doing.
But in this general tendency we forsee some of our coming tribulations. As the Pharisees and rulers and Doctors of Law, in the harvest of the Jewish Age, were “grieved that they taught the people” and fearful that the truth would lead to dire calamities upon their nation, so we apprehend it will ere long be in this harvest of the Gospel Age. Not only will the nominal Church preachers feel jealous that their flocks should understand the Bible better than themselves, but civil rulers, public men, legislators, etc.,
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will sympathize with and assist in suppressing anything that would “unsettle the faith” of Christendom.
Poor fellows! they do not realize that the people generally have almost no faith to unsettle; and that the vast majority are too indifferent to heed and search for and thus obtain the truth and too weak-kneed to stand up for it if they did see it. Nor do they know, as we do, that the Lord has so arranged it that—”None of the wicked shall understand but the wise shall understand.”—Dan. 12:10.
HIGHER CRITICISM INFIDELITY REACHING
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL
Having conquered the college professors and through them the ministry, during the last twenty-five years, this latest form of Infidelity has permeated denominational literature and public school text books, and now the question is how to deal it out in the Sunday Schools wisely; i.e. how to insidiously introduce it to the young so as not to shock them and lead them to a total repudiation of Churchianity and all else built upon the Bible, and so as not to shock any of the parents who may still be “old-fogy” believers in the Bible’s divine authorship. The ideas of one prominent in the preparation of the “sincere milk of the Word:”
Rev. A. E. Dunning, D.D., editor of The Congregationalist and one of the International Committee on the Sunday school lessons, describes the situation as follows:
“A widening chasm divides the teaching of the Bible in schools and colleges from its teaching in many Sunday schools. The accepted principles of the development of life and of the growth of literature, as taught in public schools, are being contradicted in Sunday schools, in the effort to defend theories of the creation of the universe and of the composition of the Bible which are contrary to known laws of the evolution of nature and of literature. The consequences of such opposing teachings are not difficult to predict.
“The main conclusions of Biblical criticism are now accepted with practical unanimity by all scholars who have given attention to them. They have been reached by patient investigation, and have displaced traditional theories among educated people.
Zion’s Watch Tower cheerfully takes its place amongst the uneducated who refuse to accept the guesses, philosophies and conclusions of “science falsely so called” in contradiction to the testimony of “holy men of old who spoke and wrote as they were moved by the holy spirit,”—the Bible. All of Satan’s attacks of the past have been weak and puerile as compared with this one,—this deflection, or revolution, rather, inside the ranks of those professing loyalty to God and the Bible. Our expectation is that it will spread with amazing rapidity, and constitute a part of the sifting of wheat from tares and chaff. And many will be surprised at the results unless forewarned by the voice of the Lord through his Word, that—”A thousand shall fall at thy side, ten thousand at thy right hand.”—Psa. 91:7.
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WHO IS HE THAT CONDEMNETH?
“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”—Isa. 54:17
WHAT A HERITAGE! What would one not give, sacrifice, to have this assurance which pertains not only to the life which now is, but goes far beyond, lays hold upon and blesses the eternal interests of all who attain this heritage. It is not applicable to one individual alone, but as declared, it belongs to all the servants of the Lord—every true spiritual Israelite may claim it, rest upon it and rejoice in it.
Our text may to some extent be applicable to regathered and re-favored Israel after the flesh, in the near future when the Lord will fulfil to them all his good promises; but without question it belongs to spiritual Israel—new creatures in Christ Jesus, joint-heirs with him of the Abrahamic promises as the seed of Abraham.—Gal. 3:29.
Spiritual Israel may sometimes feel as our Lord himself expressed the matter, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and may not always realize the object and necessity for some of the experiences through which the Lord permits Zion as a whole, and each individual Christian as her members or children, to pass; they may see that at times the Lord has apparently permitted the great adversary or his deluded servants to forge against them grievous weapons of destruction, and to assail them in health or in their social peace or financially; sometimes these weapons of the adversary have seemed to do terrible execution against them, and many may wonder how the Lord’s good promise of our text is being fulfilled: “No weapon that is formed against her shall prosper.”
Many tongues have arisen against the Lord’s Zion as a whole and against each member individually—tongues laden with the “poison of asps”, tongues bitter with envy, malice, hatred and strife,—tongues which hesitate not to slander and misrepresent, to say all manner of evil falsely. And to a large extent these weapons and tongues have succeeded, have wrought havoc with the sheep, as also with the Shepherd; and God permitted it—he neither stopped the weapon nor stilled the tongue; and yet he assures us apparently to the contrary of this in our text. What is the true explanation of this situation?
The explanation is that “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you”—ye are “new creatures” in Christ Jesus, “old things are passed away, behold all things have become new.” (Rom. 8:9; 2 Cor. 5:17.) The weapons and tongues attempt to assail us as new creatures, but fail of this and merely do injury to the old creature—to the flesh, which we have already consecrated to death anyway. By helping to kill or to mortify the flesh, our adversaries are really helping us as “new creatures” instead of hindering us as designed. God thus turns what seems to harm us into everlasting joy and blessing.
The context bears out this thought, declaring, “All
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thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (v. 13.) Ah yes, these spiritual sons of God need the instructions of the Lord’s Word in order to understand his dealings—in order to enable them to have the great peace here predicted. God’s children in the school of Christ learn not their lessons all at once, but gradually, “Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little,” by degrees they come to comprehend the exceeding great and precious promises of the Father’s Word which unite in declaring that under his supervision “All things shall work together for good to them that love God—to the called ones according to his purpose”; this is a sufficiency for the beginning of faith and, therefore, a sufficiency for the beginning of the peace. As our instruction progresses we learn the philosophy of our experience—that by the trials and vicissitudes of this present life, by our warfare with the world, the flesh and the devil, by our strivings in this battle, we are forming characters in accord with righteousness; and, additionally, we learn that God seeketh such characters, and is thus developing us because he has for the world in general a great and wonderful plan of salvation not yet fully made known, in which he desires that the “elect” Church of this Gospel age shall be co-workers, joint-heirs with their Lord and Redeemer, as the royal priesthood under him, their Head,—the great Prophet, Priest and King so long promised, whose work shall be to overthrow the powers of evil, to bind the Adversary, to lift up and enlighten the world of mankind and to grant to every redeemed child of Adam a full, gracious opportunity of return to the Father’s favor through obedience and restitution.
When once the eyes of our understanding are opened to appreciate the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of our Father’s plan, we see that the world of mankind are not in torture and hopeless misery, but are in the great prison house of death; we see that our Lord Jesus has by the grace of God tasted death for every man; and we see that it is on the strength of this redemption for the whole world by the one sacrifice of sin that the promise has gone forth that all shall be brought to a knowledge of the truth that they may be saved. From this standpoint everything becomes new; old fears and perplexities pass away, and the light of the knowledge of the goodness of God shining into our hearts, becomes more and more a transforming power therein,—changing us from glory to glory. And if we continue in this way it will eventually fit us for participation with our Redeemer in all this glorious Millennial work. We see that it is because of God’s desires to have us thus members of his “elect” Church that he has favored us in advance of the world with the knowledge of his goodness and redeeming love, and that he has anointed us with his spirit and called us to this high, heavenly calling. Praise his name!
As the teaching of the Lord to the Church belongs to the present time, so does the peace of those who are taught apply in the present time, and is in proportion to our readiness to receive instruction and come to a knowledge of God. Those who instructed by the divine Word have reached a large degree of knowledge of the divine character through the divine plan, may, should, must have the peace of God which passeth all understanding, ruling in their hearts. If they have not the peace they cannot have the joy of the Lord; and if they have not this, even under the present trying circumstances and conditions, it is because they have not been sufficiently taught of the Lord; and if they have been long in the school of Christ without this attainment, it is an evidence that they have not been giving the proper earnest heed to the Word,—it is an evidence that they have been following the traditions of men rather than inquiring for the old paths, the way of the Lord. Let us all take heed lest we let slip those things which we have heard, remembering that the earthen vessels in which we have the treasure of the new mind are leaky, and that this necessitates our keeping near to the fountain spring—near to the Lord, near to his Word and, hence, near to all others who are close to the Lord and to his Word.
The context further declares respecting this class under consideration, “In righteousness shalt thou [the godly] be established; thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near thee.” (vs. 14.) This also applies to the present life and not to the life of glory. Those who are not established in righteousness now will not be accounted worthy to be sharers in the first resurrection, respecting which it is written, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection.” Righteousness, justice, must be the foundation of every character acceptable to God: as justice is the foundation of the Lord’s throne, so it is the foundation of all with which he has to do; and if we are his it must be the sub-stratum of our Christian character. We must learn to be just before we are generous; we must learn that while love may call for sacrifices, duty, obligation calls for justice first. In the blindness and darkness which came to us from the dark ages, before the anointing of our eyes with the eyesalve of truth from the words of the Lord and his apostles—when in our blindness we conceived of God as unjust and unloving because of misrepresentation of his plan, we had so low an ideal before our minds that we found it easy to excuse injustice or cruelty or selfishness, since, according to our false standard and misconceptions of God, he was the exemplar of all this. The Lord undoubtedly had mercy upon us on account of our ignorance and blindness; but now since he has opened the eyes of our understanding, has shown us his own justice and his own boundless love, and since we are seeking to copy these, there is no longer room for us to excuse unrighteousness or injustice in our hearts. It may require time to bring every word and act and thought into harmony with the new mind instructed from the Word;—we may never succeed to our own satisfaction in this matter in our present life, because of the weaknesses of the flesh through which our wills must operate; but we can at least make strong effort, and by the Lord’s assisting grace
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accomplish great things in righteousness, not only of intention, but in righteousness of thought, of judgment, of conduct.
This righteousness in which the Lord’s children are to be established, is further explained by the statement, “Thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear.” As we look back into the dark ages we see that it was full of oppression practiced in the name of the Lord and in the name of righteousness and in many cases, undoubtedly, practiced conscientiously. In all good conscience men oppressed one another because of their fears, their false theories declaring that the Lord was about to torture to all eternity all who did not accept a certain theory of belief, and it seemed to them the veriest kindness to inflict torture by thumbscrew, rack and stake for the correction of heretics—with a view to saving them possibly from an eternity of suffering; and with the view also to hinder them from misleading others to such an awful eternity. This oppression, this cruelty, was the result of fear, and the fear was the result of misunderstanding of God’s character—because they were taught of men and not taught of the Lord, as the Prophet declares, “Their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.”—Isa. 29:13.
As the light of the truth comes into our hearts giving us a true knowledge of the Lord, instructing us as his children, perfect love casts out fear, and proportionately it casts out superstition and intolerance and oppression, as the Prophet here declares. The Lord’s people are to love religious liberty for themselves and are correspondingly to grant the same to all others. “Thou shalt be far from oppression, for thou shalt not fear.” This class will be anxious to set men free, not anxious to enslave them. On the other hand the declaration is, “Thou shalt be far from terror, for it shall not come near thee;” the Lord’s people ought to be the most fearless people in the world as respects earthly disasters and calamities; taught of the Lord they have learned that there is only one being who needs to be feared—the one who has the power to destroy the soul. They do indeed fear to displease or offend him; and yet, having learned of his goodness, mercy and love, they do not fear him in the ordinary sense of the word, but rejoice in him, confide in him, trust him as a child trusts a father, and this confidence grows in proportion as they are taught of the Lord—in proportion as they learn to trust, both from the Word of the Lord and from his providences, his dealings with them.
The text further shows that there will be not only individual oppositions to be encountered, but that Zion as a whole will be assailed by foes; as we read, “Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me; whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.” (vs. 15.) Wonderful words of consolation! We cannot at present judge to what extent this may have a fulfilment not many years hence, when there shall be a general gathering together of opponents to the truth and its servants. Already there have been various combinations instigated by the adversary, and they have all come to naught. They have really harmed none because it is impossible to injure the very elect. They have indeed caused the stumbling of some, and heartaches to many, yet, nevertheless, under the Lord’s providence they have worked out deeper and richer experiences in all who were in the proper attitude of heart to be thus taught.
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“Nearer my God to thee,
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me”
The assurance here given is nothing but what we might reasonably know when we consider the Lord’s own declaration, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but shall accomplish that which I please, and shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isa. 55:11.) So surely as our Heavenly Father has purposed the blessing of all the families of the earth through the seed of Abraham, just so surely it will be accomplished. And as the power of the Adversary raised against our Lord Jesus and the weapons formed against him, and which smote him down in death prevailed for a time, yet were merely so much of the outworking of the foreknown divine plan, so all of the machinations of the Adversary and the oppositions of the world and the flesh as well, cannot hinder the development of the various members of the body of Christ who, as the Heavenly Father has predicted, are to be joint-heirs with his Son in the Millennial Kingdom of blessing.
The Word of the Lord declares that even those who crucified the Master, and who, in their conscientious conviction that they were doing right, said, “His blood be upon us and upon our children”—these are all yet to be the subjects of divine mercy in due time; because as the Apostle Peter declares that they did it “through ignorance.” (Acts 3:17.) The Lord foretells the time that they shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and shall all mourn because of him; and he foretells, too, that at that time so far from crushing them or torturing them, he will favor them by pouring upon them the spirit of prayer and supplication.—Zech. 12:10.
It is a different matter, however, when those who “have been enlightened and have tasted of the good Word of God and of the powers of the age to come and have been made partakers of the holy spirit,” shall become accusers of the brethren, adversaries, persecutors. No blessings are promised to these; but the declaration is that “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” Judas was an ensample of this class in his day; of him the Master said in love and in sorrow,—not in anger,—”It were better for that man had he never been born”—his life has been more than wasted. It is not our thought that the Lord will have torments for these in the future, but rather that they die the Second Death, and that in some manner they receive retribution in the present life as did Judas.
But he that is one of the Lord’s people, possessed by his spirit, could not be a persecutor or opponent of the brethren,—none surely except those who become poisoned with the adversary’s covetous disposition,
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with the desire for self-exaltation. No wonder that the Lord cautioned us against this sin of covetousness under which Satan originally fell, by which Mother Eve was seduced from loyalty to the Lord, and by which Judas and various other enemies of the Lord have been mislead. Let us be more and more on guard against it. Let others do what they will—whatever the Lord may permit—as for us, let us say with the Apostle, “we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth”—all of our energies and powers must be enlisted on the side of the Lord and on the side of all those who are his. Not a finger dare we move, not a whisper dare we utter injurious to the members of the body of Christ, of whom the Lord declares, “No weapon formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement, shalt thou condemn.”
WHO IS HE THAT CONDEMNETH?
The closing words of our text remind us of the language of the Apostle (Rom. 8:31-39), “If God be for us, who can be against us?”—who can prosper against us, who can accomplish anything against us? That God is for us is already manifested in that he spared not his own Son, but redeemed us with his precious blood; and in that he has called us in Christ Jesus to be his “elect” Church, his Bride. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” In harmony with this, our text declares of these servants of the Lord, “Their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” Some may endeavor to condemn them and may indeed succeed in finding fault with them for having imperfect judgments, and being sometimes imperfect in their conduct or words; but what will it matter that such should condemn those whom the Lord approves? The Lord informs us that he knows our imperfections better than any could know them; but that of his own grace he has provided a covering for our unintentional blemishes through the merit of the sacrifice of his Son. Who then shall succeed in condemning these whom God approves, whom God justifies, whom God declares to be right and acceptable to him through Jesus Christ? Others may claim that they are actually as nearly perfect as some of the faithful “elect,” but the difference is that whereas God must reject all to any degree blemished, these have the covering of his Grace in Christ and are accepted according to their intentions and endeavors; and, therefore, they shall be able to stand, for he is able to make them stand in their testing or judgment.—Rom. 14:4.
Let us as members of the house of Sons, accepted in the Beloved, take from our Father’s Word in this text the strong consolation which he intends it should give us. Let our faith triumphantly sing, and our joy and rejoicing in the Lord know no bounds. According unto our faith it will be unto us. But while it will be on account of our faith that the Lord will approve of us, accept us, and bless us, he has, nevertheless, assured us in advance that where the tree of faith exists and grows, the character development, the fruitage of the faith will surely also abound, and that thus by our works (imperfect though they be) we shall give evidence of the faith that is in us. Such a living faith may well cause rejoicing in the house of our pilgrimage, with this assurance that even the machinations of our enemies shall work out for us blessings, under our Heavenly Father’s supervising care, wisdom, love and power.
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THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS SHALL COME
“For thus saith the Lord of hosts: Yet once [more] it is a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations and the Desire of all Nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.”—Hag. 2:6,7
HERE IS ONE of the richest promises in the blessed Word of God. It is the gospel in a nutshell—the gospel of grace to the world and of glory to the Church; and it is signed at both ends with the signature of the Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah of hosts. It was thus uttered by the mouth of one of his holy prophets—Haggai. But though with the other writings of the prophets it was held sacred as the Word of the Lord and reverently read by his anciently chosen people, fleshly Israel, their understanding of it fell far short of its true significance; and not until the holy Spirit was given as a comforter, a guide into all truth and a revealer of things to come (John 14:26; 16:13), was the precious import of this declaration of Jehovah made manifest to his saints (the gospel Church), as it has been through his holy apostles and prophets.—Eph. 3:5.
Fleshly Israel thought they saw in this declaration an intimation of the exaltation and universal dominion of their nation, the fall of the Persian kingdom and the subserviency of all other nations to them, and that the house of Israel, thus exalted and enthroned above all the nations, would be filled with the glory of the Lord and recognized by all the world as God’s specially chosen and honored people—a holy nation and a royal priesthood. With such a hope in view they diligently and cheerily worked to rebuild the ruined temple and to repair the fallen walls of Jerusalem after the decree of the Persian monarch, Cyrus, granted them liberty to return from captivity. But centuries rolled on; the Persian empire fell but Israel’s glory still tarried; for they only passed from under the dominion of Persia to that of Greece, and then of Rome; and then, as a nation scattered and peeled, they were driven out of the land of their fathers—the land of divine promise—and scattered among all nations and persecuted among them all unto this day.
What then? has God’s promise failed? or has he forgotten it? No; for the Apostle Paul, under the leading of the holy Spirit, calls it to mind again (Heb. 12:26-28) and shows that the house which is to be thus filled with the glory of the Lord is not the fleshly house or kingdom of Israel, but the spiritual house or kingdom of God—the Gospel Church.
The shaking of the earth mentioned in this text
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presupposes a former shaking, and this one is shown to be the last. The former shaking was that typified in the quaking of the earth at the giving of the law at Sinai; for under the law, says the Apostle, every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, and at various intervals the nation was thoroughly shaken and sifted by captivities and otherwise, that only the loyal and true might remain. (See Hebrews 12:25,26; 2:2; 3:17; 10:28.) But this last shaking is to be a greater shaking than fleshly Israel ever experienced; it is to be a shaking of the heavens [symbol of the ruling power] and the earth [all organized and law-abiding society] and the sea [the lawless and anarchistic elements] and the dry land [the established aristocracy of wealth and social independence]. And it is to be a shaking, not only of one nation, but of all nations—”And I will
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shake all nations.” Surely this predicted shaking of all nations is but a repetition of the prophecy of Daniel (12:1) of a great time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.
But the Apostle Paul gives us the comforting assurance that “This word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.” And he further shows (Heb. 12:28) that that which will remain after the shaking, and which cannot be moved, will be the kingdom of God, which we shall inherit if we prove worthy—i.e., if we stand all the tests and shakings and cannot be shaken out.
The Apostle, in stating that the kingdom of God—the true Church, the elect—cannot be shaken, thereby intimates that it shall not be exempted from those blasts that shall shake and utterly remove all other organizations, but rather that the true, elect Church shall not be moved by them. Her foundation is sure. “God is in the midst of her, and she shall not be moved.” (Psa. 46:5.) As a matter of fact, we find ourselves today in the midst of these perilous and disintegrating influences. The storm is rising, and, as predicted, it is felt first by the Lord’s little flock of consecrated believers. Their faith and patience and zeal and endurance are being tried by every means that the adversary can devise. Every device of error is being put forth in its most pleasing and subtle form; and advantage is being taken of every weakness of the flesh to overcome those who are endeavoring to fight the good fight of faith and to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.
And when we consider that “we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12), we realize that the contest is a very unequal one unless we lay hold upon the strength which God supplies to us through Christ.
The Apostle’s language further intimates that since only that which cannot be shaken will remain and will inherit the kingdom, all others will fall. And in this light the words of the Psalmist—”A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand”—are seen to be no exaggeration. Nor should the faithful few be at all dismayed when the various shakings sift out their number; for so it must be until only that which cannot be shaken shall remain. Thus the whole nominal church, both within and outside the various organizations, must be shaken until only the true and faithful remain; for God will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend.—Matt. 13:41.
But this shaking is permitted, not only to sift out of the Church all shakeable things, but it is to extend to all the nations; and so unprepared are they for the storm that is coming, and so unable to resist it, that the Apostle, with prophetic foresight, declares that their shaking signifies their removal (Heb. 12:27); and further, that their removal is not in order that anarchy may prevail, but in order that the kingdom of God, which cannot be shaken, may take their place.
Thank God for the prospect of an unshakeable kingdom, whose kings shall reign in righteousness and whose princes shall decree justice (Isa. 32:1; Prov. 8:15), and under whose dominion the whole earth shall be at rest. (Isa. 14:7.) This is the kingdom which the Prophet declares will indeed be “the desire of all nations,” when it is once established and its blessings begin to be realized by the world. Yes, truly “the desire of all nations shall come”—with blessings of life and health and peace and prosperity and good government. It is for this coming kingdom and its blessings that the whole creation groans and travails together in pain, waiting for the adoption, viz., “the redemption of our body”—the body of Christ, the heirs of the kingdom. (Rom. 8:22.) As soon as this body is all selected, fitted and tested, then the kingdom will be established and the desire of all nations will have come—the long desired peace and prosperity which every experiment of their own will have failed to secure. And doubtless every possible experiment will have been tried and proved futile before that time; the last, that of socialism, ending in universal anarchy.
It is this body of Christ, this spiritual house of Israel, which, though lashed by many a storm, nevertheless “cannot be shaken,” because it is firmly founded upon the Rock Christ Jesus: it is this house that Paul calls “the temple of God” (I Cor. 3:16; 6:19) that is to inherit the kingdom of God, and that Jehovah says he is going to fill with his glory.
He will fill it with the glory of the divine nature: he will make every member of it like unto Christ’s glorious body: he will endue them with power from on high to execute faithfully all of the divine purpose for human restitution, and for the establishment of universal harmony and peace. Praise the Lord for such a prospect for both the Church and the world. May its inspiration be felt by every devoted heart, and its warning be heeded by every one who feels to any degree inclined to be unstable. Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand unshaken in the midst of the storms of this evil day, and be counted worthy to be a living stone in that glorious temple of God, now shortly to be filled with his glory, and to be an heir of that kingdom which cannot be moved, and which shall indeed be the desire of all nations.
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“HE CARETH FOR YOU”
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”—I Peter 5:7
“What can it mean? Is it aught to him
That the nights are long and the days are dim?
Can he be touched by the griefs I bear,
Which sadden the heart and whiten the hair?
Around his throne are eternal calms,
And strong, glad music of happy psalms,
And bliss unruffled by any strife.
How can he care for my poor life?
“And yet I want him to care for me,
While I live in this world where the sorrows be;
When the lights die down on the path I take;
When strength is feeble, and friends forsake;
When love and music, that once did bless,
Have left me to silence and loneliness;
And life-song changes to sobbing prayers—
Then my heart cries out for a God who cares.
“When shadows hang o’er me the whole day long,
And my spirit is bowed with shame and wrong;
When I am not good, and the deeper shade
Of conscious sin makes my heart afraid;
And the busy world has too much to do
To stay in its course to help me through,
And I long for a Saviour—can it be
That the God of the universe cares for me?
“Oh wonderful story of deathless love!
Each child is dear to that heart above:
He fights for me when I can not fight;
He comforts me in the gloom of night;
He lifts the burden, for he is strong;
He stills the sigh, and awakens the song;
The sorrow that bowed me down he bears,
And loves and pardons, because he cares.
“Let all who are sad take heart again.
We are not alone in our hours of pain;
Our Father stoops from his throne above
To soothe and quiet us with his love.
He leaves us not when the storm is high,
And we have safety, for he is nigh.
Can that be trouble which he doth share?
Oh, rest in peace, for the Lord does care!”
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ISRAEL’S TYPICAL TABERNACLE
—EX. 41:13.—AUGUST 3.—
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.”—Psalm 100:4
WE CANNOT DO JUSTICE to this lesson here; nor is it necessary. We refer our readers to the booklet, “Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices,” * which a majority of them already possess, and which we believe has been very helpful to the Lord’s people,—deepening the work of grace in their heart by its explanations of the riches of divine grace already bestowed upon us and those yet future, illustrated in Israel’s typical tabernacle and its typical arrangements, sacrifices, etc.
*Price 10c. each; 50c. per doz—free to those too poor to pay, upon postal card application
Incidentally we guard our readers against certain misapplications which, from contemporary reviews of the lesson, we may infer to be quite common. The tabernacle and its court, etc., were not, as many suppose, a church edifice, or place of worship for Israel. An ordinarily able minister and writer wholly misrepresents the tabernacle and its services as follows: “Suppose yourself approaching the Tabernacle at some desert camping place. … It is a brilliant sight; the white hangings of the court contrast with the dark coverings of the tabernacle within. The gorgeous entrance curtain is looped up, for the Court is full of worshipers bringing sacrifices. White-robed priests are burning offerings at the large bronze altar in the center, while another is using the sacred laver near the Tabernacle entrance preparatory to entering. The many-colored curtain is here looped back on its golden pillars. From within we catch a gleam of the golden table and exquisitely wrought lampstand, while a fragrance of rare incense floats out upon us. Deep in the recesses of the Holy Place we can see the resplendent curtain, and we tremble as it seems almost luminous with the shining of the Shekinah behind it. All is so reverently silent that we hear the chime of bells on the high-priest’s garment as he moves forward, and, turning, we read above his beautiful robes and glittering breast the crown and meaning of it all, “Holiness to the Lord.”
Quite to the contrary of this description, the Israelites in general were not permitted within even the outermost of the Tabernacle enclosures, the Court. Nor could they see over the high linen curtain which enclosed it, nor directly see through its doorway, which was behind a “gate” of heavy curtains. Only the tribe of Levi, consecrated to the Lord’s service, was permitted inside this enclosure in the Court, and of these only the one priestly family, consisting at first of the five persons, Aaron and his four sons, were permitted to enter the Tabernacle proper, whose curtains, so far from being looped up about the gold-covered pillars, so as to permit the Levites to see the candlestick, tables, etc., were kept down, with the very object of hindering them from seeing anything within. And that they might not seek to look in when the officiating priests lifted the curtain and passed under it, a divine law was promulgated forbidding them to look, and prescribing a penalty of death for disobedience.—Num. 4:19,20.
All of this has a deep significance in connection with the proper understanding of the meaning of these types. As the Court represented the condition of justification through faith in the sacrifice for sins in the atonement accomplished by the high-priest, so its brazen altar represented primarily the perfection of the man Christ Jesus, upon which his offering was accepted of God, as our sin-atonement, sanctifying in turn any offering of others that might be presented upon it. Likewise the laver taught in type a cleansing of the flesh, and a putting away, so far as possible, of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit on the part of those in the justified condition as preparatory to their entering the Tabernacle itself. As only the priests were permitted to enter the Tabernacle, or
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even to see its glories and beauties, the teaching is that as the Court represents one condition, the “Holy” represents another, and the “Most Holy” still another condition. As the priests, before being consecrated to the priestly office, must be Levites, so those who would be of the Royal Priesthood must previously have been justified believers, otherwise they would not be acceptable as members of the Royal Priesthood. Their entrance as priests into the Holy symbolizes their change of nature—from justified human nature to that of “new creatures,” begotten of the spirit. The Holy represents the state or condition of these new creatures in this present life, while still in the flesh, and only reckonedly new creatures, while the Most Holy represents their future state or condition, in which they will be perfected as new creatures by participation in the first resurrection—beyond the “Vail.”
Our Forerunner, the “High Priest of our profession,” or order, passed through the Court condition as the perfect man, presenting himself in consecration when thirty years of age; and then passed from the Court condition into the Holy, the sanctified or new creature condition, when begotten of the holy spirit. The three and a half years of our Lord’s ministry are represented in the Holy of the Tabernacle; and as the First Vail represented his consecration to death, so the Second Vail represented his actual death, beyond which he arose in the perfect spiritual condition—the Most Holy. In all this he was the Forerunner of those who will constitute the Royal Priesthood, his house, the members of his “Body.” We by nature are sinners, and hence must enter the Court condition of justification through faith in our Lord’s sacrifice; we must be cleansed from the defilements of the flesh, so far as possible, through the word spoken unto us, represented in the washing at the Laver; and then we must make our consecration full and complete, represented by the Vail at the door, if we would enter thus into the Holy, enjoy the privileges typically represented in the light of the Golden Candlestick and the Shewbread and the Incense Altar, which signify the light, the truth, and the spiritual privileges, praises, prayers and communion which we have with the Lord as members of the body of Christ, this side the Second Vail. And for all who shall finish their course faithfully and joyfully, there remains beyond the Second Vail of actual death a glorious share in our Lord’s resurrection to perfect spiritual conditions, to be partakers of the divine nature and to behold his glory in the first resurrection.
The natural man, even tho justified, represented by the Levite, cannot see into, cannot discern, cannot appreciate, cannot enjoy, the privileges of the consecrated. He can hear through the priests some description of the glorious things beyond, but he cannot fully comprehend them or see their beauty—except by becoming a priest—by consecration, by self-sacrifice to the Lord.
The same expositor whom we quoted above, errs again, as follows:—
“Christian ministers continue the Tabernacle service of Aaron and his sons, pointing men to Christ, leading men in prayer, and inciting them to offer their bodies a living sacrifice. They are to be revered as standing in this noble succession.”
We fear there are many ministers in the nominal church who have neither part nor lot in the Royal Priesthood. Many of them confess that they are not even Levites, not even in the Court condition, when they acknowledge that they disbelieve the Scriptural teaching of man’s fall into sin and the atonement for his sin effected by the great High Priest—when they claim, on the contrary, that there was no fall and no need of a redemption, but that man has reached his present plane of intelligence by a process of evolution. These evolutionists, of whom there are many in the nominal church ministry, are not in the Court condition of justification, nor have they any right or standing there. They are not even of the Levite class, the household of faith; consequently, they could not be of the priestly class.
Altho many others of the ministers of the nominal church, as well as of the laity, have reached the position of justification through faith in the Lord’s redemptive work, and altho some of them have washed at the brazen laver, purifying their lives through the Word of truth, yet comparatively few have gone on to take the step of full consecration necessary to their becoming members of the Royal Priesthood—necessary to their having the right to enter into the Holy, to discern the glorious truths represented therein, “the deep things of God,” which can be seen only in the light coming from the Golden Candlestick, symbolizing the enlightenment of the holy spirit. But if the word “ministers” be used in the Scriptural sense, as signifying servants—persons devoted to the service of God, consecrated to do his will even unto death, then the term “minister” will be applicable, not only to those of this class who do public preaching, but to those of this class also who with different talents are serving the Lord and laying down their lives for the brethren in other ways public and private.
Human systems, misnamed churches of Christ, have raised false standards on the subjects of the priesthood, and have separated God’s people contrary to his arrangement, into “clergy” and “laity.” Very shortly now the Lord will show how different is the divine standard of measurement; for surely then will be demonstrated what our Lord and the apostles explicitly declared, that “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” and accepted into his priesthood; but chiefly “the poor of this world, rich in faith, to be heirs of the Kingdom.”—I Cor. 1:26; Jas. 2:5.
Amongst the Lord’s priests will be found some very lightly esteemed amongst men, some who have been mechanics or farmers or laborers or housekeepers, but whose hearts were fully devoted to the Lord, and whose ministry consisted in doing with their might whatsoever their hands found to do, as unto the Lord—doing good unto all men as they had opportunity, especially to the household of faith—laying down their lives for the brethren. When the lists shall be proclaimed doubtless the names of many highly esteemed amongst men, the names of many
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great and noble and wise and learned, honored of men and expected to be honored of the Lord, may be found wanting; because, in their love for the approval of men they sought not exclusively the honor which cometh from God only—because either of their failure in not exercising the proper faith in the ransom, or because of their failure to exercise the proper consecration,—devotion of their lives to the Lord’s service.
It is to this priestly class that the Golden Text is applicable. Their thankfulness to the Lord for his mercies and blessings leads them to count not their lives dear unto themselves, but to lay down their lives willingly in his service. Their hearts are filled with praise, because, having made consecration of themselves, and having entered thus the courts of the Lord to be seated with Christ in heavenly conditions, the heavenly light and food supplied them enables them to rejoice exceedingly even in tribulation, even in matters which otherwise, according to the flesh, without the strength and enlightenment of the truth, would discourage them and cause them fear. Because they have entered into this fellowship with the Lord in his sufferings, with his spirit of appreciation, therefore they may be joyful even in the house of their pilgrimage—and when the pilgrimage of the present life is ended, and as new creatures they shall pass beyond the vail, there shall be fulness of joy for them as they enter into the joys of their Lord in the full and complete sense—made like him, seeing him as he is, and sharing his glory.
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NADAB AND ABIHU CUT OFF
—LEV. 10:1-11.—AUGUST 10.—
Golden Text.—”Let us watch and be sober.”—I Thess. 5:6
ALTHOUGH not directly so stated, there is sufficient ground for the inference that the sin for which Nadab and Abihu were smitten by the Lord, was committed while they were under the influence of intoxicating liquor. The basis for this inference is that immediately following the description of their wrong doing and its punishment comes the Lord’s injunction,—”Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die; … that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean.”—Vs. 9,10.
The two young men smitten in the prime of life, were Aaron’s oldest sons; there were two younger brothers. All had just been consecrated to the priesthood, under their father Aaron as the chief priest, by the direction of their uncle Moses, carrying out the divine arrangement. With many advantages every way, they had corresponding responsibilities, as well as grand prospects for the future, all of which
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were destroyed because of their lack of reverence for the Lord—their carelessness respecting his regulations, and the vows which they had just taken upon themselves as his special servants. Their experience furnishes an excellent temperance lesson. How many others in highly favored situations in life have come to disrespect the Almighty’s arrangements through the use of intoxicating liquors!—how many have similarly blighted their prospects in life, hastened their death, and brought sorrow upon their kindred!
The Chicago Tribune has collected statistics respecting the murders in the United States, between the years 1891 and 1901, and declares that 53,000 of these murders resulted more or less directly from the use of intoxicating liquors. The statistics of the State of Massachusetts for the year 1895 show that over ninety-six percent of those convicted for crime in that State, were users of strong drinks. In 1899 the New Voice obtained the testimony of one thousand jailors (whose terms of office would aggregate more than six thousand years of experience), and their returns showed that seventy-two percent of the criminals then in jails under their charge, were brought there by drink. The American Grocer using government statistics (April 1901) figures the total bill of this country for liquid refreshments during the year at $1,228,674,925. And of this amount it figures that alcoholic liquors cost $1,059,563,787,—the remainder representing the sum spent for tea, cocoa, coffee, soda water and the like. Some one has calculated that the money spent for alcoholic liquor would equal a pile of silver dollars 1754 miles high; and the Christian Observer remarks, “It would take ten men with scoop shovels to throw away money as fast as we are wasting it for grog.”
In the presence of such a stupendous evil, blighting earthly prospects for so many, depriving so many of the reasonable comforts and necessities of life, disqualifying so many for thoughts and deeds of purity and goodness, and accomplishing instead so much misery and sorrow, what Christian could feel interested in the traffic? What Christian would not be willing to forego personal rights and liberties in connection with this terrible adversary of the race and rejoice in any self-denials it might cause him, even though he might feel himself stronger than the majority of men, and thoroughly capable of withstanding its insidious attacks and undermining tendencies as respects character, etc? It is not for us at the present time to make “sumptuary laws” for the world, nor in any manner to attempt to rule the world; but as surely as we believe that when the Lord’s Kingdom shall have fully come it will thoroughly chain up this monster evil, as one of the most powerful of Satan’s agencies, just so surely should all who so believe show to others by precept and example their opposition to this curse.
There is, however, a deeper lesson for us in the experiences of the two priests under consideration. As they were members of the tribe of Levi, so those whom they typified would be members of the “household of faith.” As they went further than this and consecrated to the priesthood and were truly and properly accepted of the Lord as priests, their antitypes
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must be persons, classes, who have come under the terms of the “royal priesthood” in the full, proper sense of the word. They do not represent merely nominal Christians—merely such as imagine themselves consecrated to the Lord through a misunderstanding, as is the case with many in the nominal church of today: they represent persons, classes, in the true, consecrated Church of the Lord.
The Scriptural account does not specify respecting the wrong doing of Nadab and Abihu. The expression “strange fire” does not clearly indicate to us whether their wrong doing consisted in using an incense other than the kind that the Lord had prescribed, or whether they used it at the wrong time, or in a wrong place, or whether the fire which enkindled the incense was taken from some other place than the altar, as the Lord had prescribed, or whether their incense was repulsive to the Lord because the offerers were in a state of intoxication—possessed of a wrong spirit. The latter, as we have suggested, seems to be implied in the declaration of the 10th verse respecting holy and unholy, clean and unclean conditions of approaching the Lord.
The great lesson here for the royal priesthood is not so much in respect to intoxicating liquors, as in respect to a wrong spirit and unclean condition of mind and heart in approaching the Lord. We are bound to suppose that those who have made a consecration to the Lord and are seeking to “cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor. 7:1), will not be guilty of literal intoxication. Those who have received to any degree the spirit of the truth and have come to appreciate in any measure the spirit of a sound mind, surely realize that in our soberest and most favorable condition, our minds are none too sound;—they realize that continually the Lord’s people have need of his assisting grace supporting their imperfect judgments, and they could not ask for such grace to help were they not also using their best endeavors to preserve and exercise what sense they have naturally.
The lesson for the consecrated, therefore, is in accord with what the Apostle has written, “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” (Heb. 4:1.) Our consecration through faith in the Lord has brought us under the anointing of the holy spirit, has permitted us to enter into the holy and to enjoy the privileges and favors of those “deep things of God” which none can see or appreciate without the anointing of the spirit. Outsiders—not of the consecrated and accepted class, not of the royal priesthood, the peculiar people, and who therefore have no privilege in the way of offering incense to the Lord, have no such opportunities as we of offending the Lord by offering him unacceptable sacrifices,—unacceptable prayers, unacceptable services. As we do not know in which way these two sons of Aaron offended against the divine arrangement or whether they both offended alike, we may lay to ourselves, as the antitypical priesthood, lessons all along the line.
(1) When we approach the Lord we are not to come to him under the influence of an evil spirit, intoxicated with the spirit of the world or of Babylon, by whose wine it is declared all the nations have been made drunken.—Rev. 14:8; 18:3.
(2) When we would approach the Lord even in a right spirit, we must make sure that we have the proper incense which he has stipulated will be acceptable to him, whose ingredients represent the perfections of our Lord Jesus reckonedly appropriated to us.
(3) Additionally we must be sure that we do not get fire for our incense from any other quarter than from the altar—consecrated fire or zeal, sanctified by the merit of our Lord’s sacrifice.
In “Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices” we have offered the suggestion that these two priests possibly represent two different classes in the church—two classes amongst those who have made consecration to the royal priesthood and have been accepted, both of which classes will fall from the priesthood. We have suggested that one may represent the class who will die the Second Death (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26,27) and that the other may represent the class who lose their membership in the royal priesthood because of an insufficiency of zeal to make their calling and election sure; but who, nevertheless, are at heart loyal to God and will be “saved so as by fire,” through great tribulation. (Rev. 7:14.) True there is nothing in the type to indicate any difference between these two, nothing to indicate any hope in the future for either of them. We think it not unreasonable, however, to surmise that the type merely shows that both men lost their standing in the priestly company by reason of failure to rightly appreciate their privileges. We are assured that all these matters are typical, yet we find it difficult to suppose this type to mean that one-half of all who consecrate to the Lord as members of the royal priesthood, will suffer the Second Death. Yet this would seem to be the only alternative interpretation, if we reject the thought that the two men merely represented the two classes who lose the priesthood without indicating their proportion as respects the whole. The two should have a meaning;—either as one half of the whole or as two classes. We accept the latter view; because the Scriptures clearly show two classes who will lose the royal priesthood, and because the other proposition, that they represented one-half of the consecrated lost in Second Death, seems to us wholly untenable.
In any event the lesson to those who desire to be faithful to their privileges, is a strong one, having made our consecration to the Lord, having received of his anointing, let us seek carefully to “make our calling and our election sure” to the blessings and privileges of the future—as the dispensers of divine bounties to mankind in general, in the Millennial Kingdom, associated with our Lord. Let us take all the lessons out of this that we can, as respects due reverence to him with whom we have to do, and due appreciation of the proper spirit, the proper incense
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and the proper zeal to be used in coming before the Lord, that we may abide in his love and favor.
MISCONCEPTIONS CAUSE DIFFICULTIES TO MANY
Those who do not see with us the great divine plan of the ages, with its wonderful opportunities of the future for the blessing of all the families of the earth;—who do not see with us that the present age is merely for the selection of the royal priesthood for the future work of glory and blessing of mankind;—who do not see with us that the Jewish system with its priesthood, sacrifices, incense, etc., etc., were merely types or shadows of the higher things in God’s plan now being developed;—such are apt to look at the statements of this lesson with astonishment; and are apt to feel that God acted in a very arbitrary manner toward these two priests in striking them down in death, because of some failure to approach him in the prescribed manner. They fail to see that the Lord
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was instituting types which must be carried out to the very letter, and which must illustrate the exactness of his dealings with the “royal priesthood.”
Looking at the matter in a wrong light, they not only see the two men suddenly deprived of life, but they reason that if God’s anger thus destroyed them—then, the very next moment, according to their theory, they would appear at God’s bar for their eternal sentence; and since they could not believe that the two men who were unfit to live amongst men were any more fit to live in heaven, they feel obliged to conclude, according to their theory, that the Lord not only suddenly smote them down as respects their earthly life, but additionally turned them over for an eternity of torture at the hands of devils. Those who really believe this misrepresentation of the divine plan must necessarily be unfavorably influenced by it in their own dealings with their children, their neighbors, etc.,—their ideas of justice and of love, etc., must necessarily be blunted by such misconceptions of the divine character and procedure.
To our understanding of the teachings of the Lord’s Word, on the contrary, there would be no such difficulty as this. Nadab and Abihu were men, members of the fallen race, all of whom are under sentence of death. They had been merely reckonedly, not actually, justified, because “the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin.” They were, therefore, although typically occupying the place of priests, not really different from the remainder of the world—for they had received no release from the Adamic condemnation. Hence, since their position and all were typical, so also their death under the circumstances could mean no greater loss to them than death under other circumstances would mean to their fellows—they merely went into the tomb a little sooner than they otherwise would have done. But long centuries after their death and the death of their fellows,—better and worse,—in God’s appointed time, the great antitypical sin-offering appeared;—and the great antitypical Priest, offered the great sacrifice for sins accomplished at Calvary, and the whole world was brought back from the sentence of sin and death—including Nadab and Abihu, Aaron and Moses, and all the remainder of our race,—including also us who were not yet born.
The Atonement day sacrifices begun by our Lord and Redeemer, continue; and we, his called ones of this Gospel age, are privileged to participate in the sacrificing work with our great High Priest, as the sons of Aaron participated with their father. Soon the entire work of sacrificing will be at an end; soon the great High Priest will finish the work of making an atonement, and will then, as did the priest in the type, come out to the altar and lift up his hands and bless all the people—the dead and dying world. The day of blessing will be a long one, because “a day with the Lord is as a thousand years.” It will be quite sufficient to accomplish the purposes intended, of lifting up, helping, strengthening, blessing, bringing to full restitution, all who will come into harmony with the Father. In that day Nadab and Abihu with others of mankind, who have done better and who have done worse, will be on trial before the judgment seat of Christ,—the Church, the royal priesthood, being associated with Him in the judgment. (I Cor. 6:2.) In proportion as any have had favorable opportunities and used them unfavorably, in similar proportion have they degraded themselves so that they will proportionately experience stripes and difficulties in getting started upon the great “highway of holiness,” which will then be opened up for the whole world of mankind,—that they may return thereon to the Lord and to eternal life; and only those who fail to come back under such gracious opportunities, into full harmony with the gracious divine plan, will be destroyed irrevocably in the Second Death.
“LET US WATCH AND BE SOBER”
The Apostle’s exhortation in our Golden Text is well worthy of being continually borne in mind by all who would make their calling and election sure to a place in the glorious priesthood of the future—”Let us watch and be sober.” Let us watch in the sense of taking careful notice of all the directions which the Lord our God has given us, respecting what would not be acceptable service to him. Let us watch ourselves, striving to walk as nearly as possible in the footsteps of the great High Priest, who was, we are sure, right and acceptable to the Father in every particular. Let us be sober—not only not literally intoxicated with ardent spirits, but let us not be intoxicated with “the spirit of the world,” or the spirit of Babylon, churchianity. Let us have the spirit of Christ, the spirit of a sound mind, the spirit of meekness, the spirit of gentleness, the spirit of love for God, for our fellows, and for all men, seeking as we have opportunity, to do them good. Let us be sober in the sense that we will not be frivolous; that while happy, joyous in the Lord, free from the anxious cares that are upon many others through misapprehension of our Father’s character and plan, we may, nevertheless, be sober in the sense of earnest, appreciative of present opportunities and privileges in connection with the Lord’s service;—not thoughtlessly negligent, letting opportunities and privileges slip through our hands to be afterwards regretted.