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VOL. XXIII. AUGUST 15, 1902 No. 16
Views from the Watch Tower……………………243
What Will the Higher Critics
Do With Paul?…………………………244
Is There a Crisis in Methodism?……………244
Living by Every Word Out Of
the Mouth of God………………………245
Journeying Toward Canaan……………………248
Interesting Questions Answered………………251
We are Well Able to Overcome it………………253
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
The Independent has recently published an article from the pen of Mr. W. J. Ghent which has attracted general attention. Mr. Ghent points us back to the days of feudalism when lords and barons led and governed the residents of their estates almost like slaves through under chiefs, and declares that in many respects similar conditions are now approaching. “The next distinct stage in the socio-economic development of America … will be something in the nature of a benevolent feudalism,” is the way he puts it; “concentration of capital and the increase of wealth will continue, … ‘the rich will grow richer, and the multi-millionaires will approach the billion-dollar standard.'” He proceeds:—
“The more the great combinations increase their power, the greater is the subordination of the small concerns. They may, for one reason or another, find it possible, and even fairly profitable, to continue; but they will be more and more confined to particular activities, to particular territories, and in time to particular methods, all dictated and enforced by the pressure of the larger concerns. The petty tradesmen and producers are thus an economically dependent class; and their dependence increases with the years. In a like position, also, are the owners of small and moderate holdings in the trusts. The larger holdings—often the single largest holding—determines the rules of the game; the smaller ones are either acquiescent, or, if recalcitrant, are powerless to enforce their will. Especially is this true in America, where the head of a corporation is often an absolute ruler, who determines not only the policy of the enterprise, but the personnel of the board of directors.”
“The laborers and mechanics were long ago brought under the yoke through their divorcement from the land and the application of steam to factory operation. They are economically un-free except in so far as their organizations make possible a collective bargain for wages and hours. The growth of commerce raised up an enormous class of clerks and helpers, perhaps the most dependent class in the community. The growth and partial diffusion of wealth in America has in fifty years largely altered the character of domestic service and increased the number of servants manyfold. Railroad pools and farm-implement trusts have drawn a tightening cordon about the farmers. The professions, too, have felt the change. Behind many of our important newspapers are private commercial interests which dictate their general policy, if not, as is frequently the case, their particular attitude upon every public question; while the race for endowments made by the greater number of the churches and by all colleges except a few state-supported ones, compels a cautious regard on the part of synod and faculty for the wishes, the views, and prejudices of men of great wealth. To this growing deference of preacher, teacher, and editor is added that of two yet more important classes—the makers and the interpreters of law. The record of legislation and judicial interpretation regarding slavery previous to the Civil War has been paralleled in recent years by the record of legislatures and courts in matters relating to the lives and health of manual workers, especially in such cases as employers’ liability and factory inspection. Thus, with a great addition to the number of subordinate classes, with a tremendous increase of their individual components, and with a corresponding growth of power in the hands of a few score magnates, there is needed little further to make up a socio-economic status that contains all the essentials of a renascent feudalism.”
“Macaulay’s famous dictum, that the privileged classes, when their rule is threatened, always bring about their own ruin by making further exactions, is likely, in this case, to prove untrue. A wiser forethought begins to prevail among the autocrats of today—a forethought destined to grow and expand and to prove of inestimable value
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when bequeathed to their successors. Our nobility will thus temper their exactions to an endurable limit; and they will distribute benefits to a degree that makes a tolerant, if not a satisfied people. They may even make a working principle of Bentham’s maxim, and after, of course, appropriating the first and choicest fruits of industry to themselves, may seek to promote the ‘greatest happiness of the greatest number.’ For therein will lie their greater security.”
Mr. Ghent considers “the present state machinery is admirably adapted for the subtle and extra-legal exertion of power by an autocracy” and hence that neither new laws nor violent methods will be invoked. He continues:—
“The prevention of discontent will be the prior study, to which the intellect and the energies of the nobles and their legates will be ever bent. To that end the teachings of the schools and colleges, the sermons, the editorials, the stump orations, and even the plays at the theaters will be skilfully and persuasively molded; and the questioning heart of the poor, which perpetually seeks some answer
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to the painful riddle of the earth, will meet with a multitude of mollifying responses. … Literature will take on the hues and tones of the good-natured days of Charles II. Instead of poetry, however, the innocuous novel will flourish best; every flowery courtier will write romance, and the literary darling of the renaissance will be an Edmund Waller of fiction. A lineal descendant of the famous Lely, who
‘… on animated canvas stole
The sleepy eye that spoke the melting soul,’
will be the laureled chief of our painters; and sculpture, architecture, and the lesser arts, under the spell of changed influences, will undergo a like transformation.
“This, then, in the rough, is our benevolent feudalism to-be. It is not precisely a Utopia, not an ‘island valley of Avilion’; and yet it has its commendable, even its fascinating features. ‘The empire is peace,’ shouted the partizans of Louis Napoleon; and a like cry, with an equal ardency of enthusiasm, will be uttered by the supporters of the new regime. Peace and stability will be its defensive arguments, and peace and stability it will probably bring. But tranquil or unquiet, whatever it may be, its triumph is assured; and existent forces are carrying us toward it with an ever-accelerating speed. One power alone might prevent it—the collective popular will that it shall not be. But of this there is no fear on the part of the barons, and but little expectation on the part of the underlings.”
The writer of the above seems to have a clear grasp of the subject and presents it well. Our only disagreement with his hypothesis is that it will not work out as the wealthy intend it shall. The next great world-wide financial depression which we believe to be but a few years ahead of us will disconcert these plans and confound the whole world. Stockholders will demand dividends even on watered stocks; and managers however benevolently disposed and however prudent will be compelled either to advance prices or to curtail expenses or both and in the end the lower classes are sure to be so hard pressed that the Scripture predictions respecting our times will be fulfilled.—James 5:1-5; Dan. 12:1.
WHAT WILL THE HIGHER CRITICS DO WITH PAUL?
“Let the Gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus be given up as non-historical, there still remains the unquestionably historic and authentic testimony of Paul.” This is the keynote of an article by Rev. Dr. William Cleaver Wilkinson, of Chicago University, in which he dwells upon the incalculable need the Christian Church has for Paul, as one whose testimony “no fiercest crucible fires of historical criticism can possibly in the least affect.” Dr. Wilkinson (who writes in The Homiletic Review, June) does not think that this importance of Paul’s testimony is adequately appreciated. He says:
“The cry, so rife everywhere about us, ‘Back to Christ!’ really means, from the lips of many who utter it, ‘Away from Paul!’—nay, even, almost, ‘Away with Paul!’ With many zealously active and widely influential Christian teachers and writers the feeling has been growing stronger every day for now a decade of years or more that the Apostle Paul has too long been suffered to dominate, too exclusively, our conceptions of Christianity. The view has been propagating itself by boldly declaring itself that the proper way to regard Paul’s writings is to regard them as setting forth, not authoritatively the true doctrines of Christ, but only as setting forth one great mind’s own individual way of conceiving those doctrines. The doctrines themselves, it is urged, in their unadulterated purity, are to be sought in the words of the living Jesus, as those words are reported by the four evangelists, but especially by the three synoptic evangelists so called, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The records of these historians, we are told, are to be carefully sifted; for the truth which they give is mingled with error—the error of imperfect report and imperfect transmission. Besides this, so we are further given to understand, there is the error, an uncertain amount, to which Jesus himself, as proved by his own admissions of ignorance on some points, was liable.”
From this “pitiable state of hopeless incertitude,” Paul rescues us by his witness to a “living, an ascended, a glorified Christ.” It was for the sake of this service that Christ waited until after his resurrection and ascension before calling Paul to the apostleship. It is Paul alone who gives to Christ’s pre-existence and to his exaltation after death the proper prominence, making almost nothing, in comparison, of the Lord’s earthly life. It was not upon Jesus as a man among men, but upon Jesus as supreme divine Lord over men that Paul laid commanding emphasis. Dr. Wilkinson continues:
“The Christian Church can not afford to obey the call ‘Back to Christ!’ if that call be understood to mean back to the earthly Christ of the Gospel histories, away from the heavenly Christ of the epistles of Paul. The tendency, now so strong and prevalent so widely, to deal with Jesus on severely ‘scientific’ principles of historical criticism, simply as a man who lived once in Palestine, and whose words and deeds were very imperfectly reported by very ill-qualified biographers, biographers that must be halted with challenge at every point and not confidently relied upon, unless they all three happen to relate the same thing in the same way—I say all ‘three,’ not all four, because John is to a great extent discredited and counted out as not John, but another man by the name of John—this tendency, however it may suppose itself to be peculiarly loyal to Jesus is, in deepest truth, the most specious and the most dangerous disloyalty to him that he has ever encountered in all the centuries since he finished the work on earth that was given him to do.
“Let it be duly considered, if Christ comes at length to be measured by this rule, the time will then not be distant when he will be still further reduced; and from being the pre-eminent, the ideal, the flawless man, will be found out to be at best a man not well enough known to deserve such distinction, and, at worst, a man shown to have had his limitations, his weaknesses, his infatuations, even his faults of temper in speech and in behavior, such as bring him down after all quite comfortably near the level of the better sort of average human nature.”
In the opinion of Dr. Wilkinson, however, “nothing even conceivable, except the actual literal resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, can account for the undoubtedly historical phenomenon of the Apostle Paul, his career, and his written words.”
The above from the Digest is a great satisfaction to us. We rejoice that the Chicago University has one professor still sufficiently true to God’s Word and to logic to acknowledge the Apostle Paul’s sound words, and their accord with the mind and words of our Lord Jesus. None who appreciate the divine plan of the ages can for a moment question that the Lord specially raised up the great Apostle to the Gentiles. We, yes, the entire cause stands or falls with this great mouth-piece of God.
IS THERE A CRISIS IN METHODISM?
Rev. Dr. L. W. Munhall, an evangelist of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is very sure that there is a crisis and that he knows what has caused it. The cause is “the dishonor put upon God’s Holy Word” by Methodist professors, editors, and preachers. He does not hesitate to name them, and his list includes the names of many of the most notable in the denomination. Dr. Munhall’s charges are not strictly new. He has been making them for at least three years. On June 23 he repeated them before a Methodist ministers’ meeting in Philadelphia, where he secured the passage of resolutions denouncing “higher criticism”
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as “wretched stuff.” He has now published his views in a pamphlet entitled “A Crisis in Methodism,” in which he asserts that the spiritual life of Methodism is dying out. He writes:
“What is the real cause of our spiritual decline? Many causes have been named, some of which explain in part; but, for myself, I believe the real cause of it all is the dishonor put upon God’s Holy Word in many of our educational institutions, by some editors of church periodicals, and not a few preachers; because of which the Holy Spirit has been grieved and withdrawn His power in large measure from us. Because of their commanding influence, our educational institutions are the chief offenders. Of course, I know that all these institutions are not given to this mischievous business, but most of the leading ones are. In the faculties of these institutions are men who are skeptics and rationalists; who do not at all believe the Bible is God’s Word and in the doctrines of Methodism, and who
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do not hesitate to let the students know their position. They repeat infidel objections to the Bible and call it modern scholarship, and then give the young men under them for instruction to understand that they believe it all, and many of these young men take up with these skeptical views, and go out into the ministry, not to preach the Gospel of the blessed God, but their questionings, rationalism, and agnosticism.”
Dr. Munhall includes in this indictment, by name, Prof. H. G. Mitchell, of Boston University School of Theology, who is accused of boasting that “he would revolutionize Methodist theology”; Prof. C. W. Rishill, acting dean of the same institution, whose book, “The Foundations of Christian Faith,” “is full of poison”; Prof. Milton S. Terry, of Garrett Biblical Institute, who is charged with teaching the unhistoric character of Genesis; President Charles J. Little, of the same institute, and President Samuel Plantz, of Lawrence University, who are charged with “a denial of the omniscience of Jesus”; President Bradford P. Raymond, of Wesleyan University, who also teaches the limitation of Christ’s knowledge; President William F. Warren, of Boston University, who indorses Professor Mitchell’s “extremely rationalistic and Unitarian position”; President J. W. Bashford, of Ohio Wesleyan University, who is “a little more cautious in his statements than the other presidents named, but sympathizes with their views”; and, especially, Chancellor James R. Day, of Syracuse University, who is charged with staying away from Dr. Munhall’s evangelistic meetings in that city three years ago because the latter assailed the critics who “teach infidel objections to the Bible.” Others named in the indictment are the editors of Zion’s Herald and The Methodist Review, and Prof. “Borden P. Bowen” (Bowne), of Boston University. Dr. Munhall quotes Dr. James M. Buckley as saying three years ago to Prof. M. S. Terry that if the latter were a professor in Drew, he (Dr. Buckley) would prefer charges of heresy against him. Dr. Munhall expresses himself as follows:
“I solemnly, positively, and most emphatically declare such teachings to be unbiblical, unmethodistic, and infidel; that they are destructive of spiritual life in the church and subversive of the Christian faith and hope. If any one doubts this, it is with him to explain why revivals that were once common in our educational institutions are seldom or never known; and why the faith of many of our young men is being wrecked while in college.”
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LIVING BY EVERY WORD OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD
“Man shall not live by bread alone; but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”—Matt. 4:4
BREAD is a general name for food; for that which satisfies the cravings of hunger; for that which builds up and strengthens; for that which enables the continuance of life. It was appropriate, therefore, that the Lord should use bread as a symbol, or figure of that heavenly sustenance which God has arranged should now upbuild and strengthen his people, and eventually, by the first resurrection, impart to them life everlasting. Divine truth is represented as being such spiritual food; and our Lord himself, because in the divine plan he is the channel of the truth,—”the way, the truth, the life,”—is spoken of as being also “the bread of life” for his people. We are to eat, or partake of the life-giving qualities which he freely gives us in himself, if we would reach the goal of our hope—eternal life.
Our text is our Lord’s reply to the Tempter when he was in the wilderness fasting and hungry. The Tempter had suggested the use of the powers which Jesus had received a few days previous when, at his baptism in Jordan, he received the holy spirit, and with it the gifts and powers which subsequently enabled him not only to heal the sick, but to turn water into wine and to feed a multitude by increasing the two barley loaves and the two small fishes. The Adversary’s proposition was that the Lord should use this power for the gratification of his own appetite. He said, “Command that these stones be made bread.”
However pleased the Lord was to have these divine powers communicated through the holy spirit he had received, however glad he was, at appropriate times, to perform the miracles incidental to his ministry, he knew that the powers were not given him for any selfish use, for any self-gratification; and, therefore, he declined the suggestion and his reply is our text. In passing, we note that there is a lesson here worthy of the attention of all God’s people; that spiritual and divine things are not to be used in a mercenary or selfish manner. So far as they can discern matters, the Lord’s people are to keep separate and distinct their own personal preferences, desires and appetites, from the heavenly and spiritual things; and not use the latter for the services of the flesh, however pure and good the fleshly desires may be.
Our Lord’s words accept the suggestion that bread, food, necessary to human sustenance under present conditions; but they carry the thought further—they draw our attention to a higher life than the present one. The present life is not really life, but death: the world is under divine sentence of death; and only those who have come by faith into relationship with God have “passed from death unto life;” as our Master on another occasion said, “He that hath the Son hath life, he that hath not the Son shall not see life.” And again he said to one who was thinking of becoming his servant, his follower—”Let the dead bury their dead, follow thou me.”
From this standpoint we see that man cannot live by bread alone. He has the divine sentence against him, “dying thou shalt die”; and he can find no kind of bread, no kind of food, that will produce life in the full and complete sense of that word—that will swallow up death in life. He must look for another kind of “bread of life” than any earthly food; he must
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have another kind of “water of life” than any earthly drink. It is this heavenly food or supply to which our Lord refers; saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
But how is it possible for us to live by the words that proceed out of the mouth of God? What did Jesus mean? How can God’s words give us life?
He meant that all hopes of eternal life depend upon God—upon the divine plan and its promises. Looking into these promises we can see distinctly that the divine plan, dating from before the foundation of the world, is that all of God’s creatures, created in his likeness and abiding in faith, love and obedience, in harmony with him, shall have life everlasting. This is God’s general word upon the subject; namely, that obedience is the condition of life everlasting. This is, undoubtedly, what our Lord had in mind in using the words of our text: he may also have had the thought that he had come into the world upon a special mission, to do the Father’s will, and that his understanding from the beginning was that his perfect obedience to the divine will would insure him glory, honor, immortality with the Father, eventually; but that any disobedience would mean the forfeiture of divine favor, and would involve the sentence of disobedience; namely, death.
Our Lord’s prompt decision, therefore, was that to disobey the Father’s will, and thus to secure bread for the sustenance of his body, would be a great mistake; that food thus secured could sustain life for but a little while;—that his better plan would be to trust in the Word of God, the divine promise that those who love and serve and obey him shall ultimately come off conquerors and more, and have eternal life with God. And this, our Master’s conclusion, is full of instruction for us who are his disciples, seeking to walk in his footsteps. We are to learn the lesson that a man’s life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesseth—food and raiment—but that his life in the fullest, grandest, highest sense, is dependent upon his complete submission to the divine will—his careful attention to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
The words of God’s mouth to us are not exactly the same as to our Lord Jesus and to the holy angels;—because we are by nature children of wrath even as others—sinners: we must, therefore, be addressed from a true standpoint to begin with. Thus it is that we hear the words of God’s mouth in different languages at different times in our experiences.
(1) The first word of God’s mouth to us is the message of justice—informing us that we are sinners, imperfect, helpless, as respects our own restoration to the divine image. This first word which proceedeth out of God’s mouth to us is alarming; he declares us to be under a sentence or curse of death because of sin;—that “the soul that sinneth shall die”; that “the wages of sin is death.” It tells us that by nature we are “children of wrath even as others,”—strangers and foreigners, aliens from God and all his blessings, which are held in reservation for those who love him and obey him and maintain the perfection in which they were created. It is necessary that we should hear this voice; necessary that we should be alarmed and feel fearful of the penalty of death; and necessary that we feel lonely and discouraged in our separation from God and our alienation from his gracious provisions for those who love him and whom he loves. This fear and dejection are necessary in a
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general way to prepare us for the next word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God; namely,
THE WORD OF GOD’S PITY AND AID
(2) The message that God, while manifesting his absolute justice and the immutable integrity of his first word and sentence, is, nevertheless, kindly disposed toward us—that he pities us in our fallen condition. This word is not to the effect that divine pity will admit us as sinners into divine favor, present and future; but that divine pity contemplated in advance a ransom-price which, meeting the claims of divine justice, would permit of man’s recovery from his condition of sin and death,—back to a condition of holiness and life everlasting—as though he had never sinned, had never been sentenced. This word which proceeded out of the mouth of God, prophesying a blessing and opportunity for recovery to as many as will accept, was first a voice to Abraham saying, “In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” As this hope begins to dawn in the heart of the penitent one, seeking life-eternal at the fountain of grace and truth, the ears of his understanding listen intently for other words of life from his Creator and he hears (Acts 10:36),
THE VOICE OF GOD “SPEAKING PEACE BY
(3) The message of peace is that God has already provided the ransom price for sinners;—that Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man”; that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and rose again for our justification.” This word from God’s mouth informs us that through this transaction, which is entirely his own without our instigation or aid, “He may be just and yet the justifier of those who believe in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:26.) Oh, what joy, what hope of life comes into our hearts as we hear this word which proceeded out of the mouth of God! We exclaim with the Apostle, “If God be for us who can be against us?” If God so loved us while we were yet sinners, much more does he love us since we are seeking him, desirous of returning to fellowship with him, and since we accept the provision of his grace in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thus to all who accept the atonement which is in Christ Jesus, through his blood, God indeed speaks words of grace and peace—forgiveness, reconciliation, mercy, love, kindness.
GOD’S WORD TO RECLAIMED SONS
(4) Another word or message proceeds from the mouth of God, to such as have heard of his grace in Christ and have accepted it. He calls them children—not now “children of wrath,” not now “children of the Evil One,” but he addresses them as reclaimed children, as his own, as those to whom he is pleased to give his blessings upon certain conditions which
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he specifies; saying, “My son, give me thine heart.” This call for the heart is a call for full consecration, for complete setting apart to the Lord and to his service. Our will is the center of our intelligence, our being; if the heart, the will, be given to God, it carries with it the title to every action, word and thought. It is such only as delight to respond to this Word or message from the mouth of God that he is pleased to own in the special sense of sonship which pertains to this Gospel age—sonship in the house of sons, of which Christ Jesus, our Lord, is the Head.
“THE WORD OF PROMISE”
(5) In our ignorance of the greatness of our Heavenly Father and the richness of his grace toward us in Christ Jesus our Lord, we might fail to appreciate the necessity or desirability of a full consecration of our hearts to him. In our ignorance we might prefer to say,
“Some of self and some of thee“
Knowing this, God, in his compassion, has been pleased to set before us certain features of his plan, and hence we hear his voice again in the “exceeding great and precious promises” of his Word. In these he points out to us the wisdom of a full consecration and complete obedience to him—assuring us in these promises that by obedience to them we may become partakers of the greatest of all blessings,—the divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:4.) Oh, how wonderful that the great Creator should condescend not only to redeem sinners but to urge, to entice them to receive his bounties and blessings! From the time the consecration begins a measure of the holy spirit is granted, that the consecrated one may, by application—by hungering and thirsting for the words which proceed out of the mouth of God, and by feeding upon them,—be enabled to “Comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.” (Eph. 3:18,19.) Ah, yes! those who have heard and have fed upon “the words which proceed out of the mouth of God” thus far, find indeed a new life begun, a new vitality, a new energy,—new hopes, new aims, new ambitions, “old things are passed away,” everything is tinged with the glories of the heavenly things which “eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man to conceive”—the things which God hath in reservation for them that love him;—an understanding and appreciation of which God, in some measure, gives to such by his spirit, which “searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”
FEEDING ON THE WORD OF ADMONITION
(6) Hearkening further for the words which proceed from the mouth of God—”Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life”—we hear a word of admonition. The Father instructs us, that the glorious things to which he now calls us cannot possibly be ours unless our consecration to him and submission to the influences of his providences and promises shall change, transform, renew our minds;—so that the things once loved we will hate, and the things once hated we will love. As a father spareth not the rod of chastisement from the son whom he loves, so the Lord will not spare the rod of affliction and chastisement from those who are truly his; because he loves them, and because he desires to develop in them such a character as will be pleasing to him, and as will permit him eventually to make them his sons on the plane of glory, heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, their Lord.
This word respecting the necessity of chastisement and our correction in righteousness, that we may become conformed to the image of God’s dear Son (Rom. 8:29), is accompanied with assurances of love from the Father—assurances that “Like as a Father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that reverence him.” He says to us also, through another apostle, “Faint not when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” He explains that such discipline is not prompted by anger towards us, but by his love, and if we are rightly exercised by the disciplines, trials, experiences of life, they will “work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”—they will work out in us such characters as the Lord will be able to use in the service to which he hath called us—the service of the Millennial age—the service of the royal priesthood, to be associated with Christ in the work of judging and blessing the world of mankind. The proper response of all who have the true spirit of sonship is expressed in the language of our Lord and Master, “Not my will but thine be done,” O Lord; “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” Such as thus respond to the chastisement of the Lord, step more and more into divine favor, and hear other words of comfort, of grace, of help.
“YE HAVE NEED OF PATIENCE”
(7) God’s Word or message of patience is, “Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (Jas. 1:4.) How necessary to our perfection is this divine counsel—this Word which proceeds from the mouth of God! We might imagine that we had received sufficient testing and proving to indicate our loyalty to the Lord, to the principles of righteousness, long before we had been sufficiently proved according to the Lord’s standards in the testing of character. He therefore graciously explains to us how necessary patience will be, that we should not think it strange concerning the fiery trials which must test us, as though some strange thing had happened unto us. (I Pet. 4:12.) On the contrary he points out to us as we grow in grace and in knowledge and in ability to comprehend—that the glory, honor and immortality to which he has invited the Church of this Gospel age, is so high, so grand a position, that those who would share those honors must expect, necessarily, to be severely tried and tested that their absolute loyalty to the Lord and to the principles of his righteousness—justice, truth, love—shall be beyond question. Our characters must become crystalized along these lines, firm as adamant, before we shall be ready to be received as the “overcomers” who shall inherit all things, and share the kingdom and glory with the Captain of our salvation. He points out to us, further,
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that if it was necessary for the Captain of our salvation to be tempted and tried, tested and proved, much more reasonable is it that we who were children of wrath, and justified only through his grace, should be thoroughly proven as respects our loyalty.
WORDS OF CONSOLATION FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD
(8) We might well be exercised with the strictness of the divine requirements as respects this overcoming class, and might say to ourselves, Others may attain to such glories and blessings; but we are too weak in the flesh through the fall and cannot hope to come off victors—cannot hope to stand the trials and tests which the Lord would impose. And here the Lord speaks again, a gracious word of comfort, consolation and encouragement, informing us that the perfection he is expecting is not a perfection in the flesh and of the flesh which is weak and imperfect,
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but a perfection of the heart, of the will, of the mind, of the intention. He informs us that he is not judging us as human beings according to the flesh, but as new creatures according to the mind, the new will. He informs us that although he will expect the new mind to do its very best in the matter of controlling the flesh and bringing it into subjection, yet, nevertheless, he knows that the flesh being imperfect, perfection according to the flesh is an impossibility to any of the fallen race: and that, therefore, his arrangement through Christ under the New Covenant is, that the imperfections of the flesh which are not assented to by our wills are not counted as ours. They are covered by the merit of Christ’s sacrifice, and are ignored in the Heavenly Father’s reckoning with us. He assures us that we are to be judged according to the spirit (will, intent) and not according to the flesh.
What comfort and consolation are in these assurances! These are wonderful words of life, indeed! They inspire us with hope. If God will accept perfect heart-intentions, as instead of the absolute perfection of the flesh,—then indeed we have hope of attaining to the standard which he has marked for us,—the standard of perfection. We can be perfect in intention, in will, or, as the Master expresses it, “pure in heart”, even though we cannot be perfect in the flesh. We hear through the Apostle the word proceeding out of the mouth of God to this effect, “The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” (Rom. 8:4.) We can walk after the spirit, though, so far as our mortal bodies are concerned, we cannot walk up to the spirit’s requirements. Our minds can walk up to the spirit, our intentions can be perfect; and this is what our Heavenly Father seeks in us, perfection of intention.
THE WORD OF RESURRECTION
(9) A further word from the mouth of God assures us that he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust—under sentence of death, “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return”—weak, imperfect, dying; and that it is not his purpose that we shall always be in conflict with ourselves—perfect will against imperfect body,—that he has provided that in the resurrection we shall have new, perfect bodies in full accord with our new minds. He assures us that he is able and willing to do all this, and that he proposes to give to his “elect” bodies of a still higher order than the human—that he will give us spiritual bodies. They shall have a part in the first resurrection, and thenceforth be able to do the Father’s will perfectly in every respect—as they now show themselves desirous of doing his will so far as they are able. Oh, gracious provisions! O wonderful words of compassion, inspiring us to wonderful hopes of eternal life and glory! It will be to such as thus overcome in spirit, in faith (I John 5:4), that the Lord will give the final word of his mouth—”Well done good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord.”
Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God—every admonition, every encouragement, every promise, is necessary to the development of those whom God is now calling to eternal life as joint-heirs with his Son in the Kingdom. The eating of natural food could not bring this life-eternal, nor its attendant glories; but the eating and appropriating of these words from the mouth of God can bring to us all these blessings which we crave. Let us then, more and more, as the disciples, pupils, of the Lord Jesus, keep in memory and act upon the suggestion of the words of this text, “Man shall not live by bread alone: but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
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JOURNEYING TOWARD CANAAN
—NUM. 10:11-13,29-36—AUGUST 17.—
Golden Text:—”For thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.”—Psa. 31:3
ISRAEL spent nearly a year in the vicinity of Mt. Sinai. It was about a year and fifty days after their departure from Egypt that, by the Lord’s instruction, they broke camp to journey toward the promised land—Canaan. Doubtless, their first impressions respecting the matter were that the Lord, through Moses, would lead them directly into the Land of Promise, and no doubt they wondered at the delay. We can see, however, that a nation reduced almost to the condition of slavery, would need many lessons to prepare the people for the glorious heritage which the Lord had promised them. In previous studies we have seen how the Lord inculcated lessons of trust, duty, obedience, worship and temperance, and subsequent events will prove to us that even with all these instructions the people were not yet ready to trust and obey the Lord so as to be properly fit for their inheritance.
During the eleven months spent in the vicinity of Mt. Sinai, important arrangements were effected—all tending to a larger degree of organization, government and personal responsibility amongst the people.
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When ready to leave Mt. Sinai they had not only their tribal organizations, but were additionally grouped in companies of ten and these into fifties and these again into larger groups or commands, so that the entire host was well marshalled. Besides this, they had in each tribe a Judge or lawgiver for minor questions; weightier matters being brought to Moses and through him to the Lord. Moreover, the Lord put his spirit upon seventy of the elders of the people, of all the tribes, so that they prophesied or taught the people, each in his own department; while the tribe of Levi had been specially set apart to the divine service. The Tabernacle had been made with all its appurtenances, and the regular order of worship had been established—typical, like the people, of the better things coming afterward.
If, as we see, it was appropriate that Israel according to the flesh should have training-lessons in trust, obedience, etc., we can readily understand that their antitype, spiritual Israel, has much need of instruction, much need to learn lessons along the same lines,—and still more particularly, if they would be prepared to enter into typical Canaan. We need to learn to trust the Lord implicitly after we leave Egypt, the world, and set forth on the way to our Canaan; we need to learn that he alone is able to deliver us from the spirit of the world which would still pursue us and bring us back into captivity; we need to learn to trust the Lord for the heavenly manna and to gather it day by day; we need to learn confidence in the Lord, not only in the presence of the leaders whom he raises up for us, but also in their absence, and not to set up for ourselves earthly idols to draw our hearts away in any measure from the Lord and his arrangements, and the great purpose for which we have started under his leadership; we need to learn the import of the Covenant which he has graciously made with us, sealed with the precious blood;—to be faithful to our share therein to the extent of our ability, and to trust the remainder to our great Mediator.
We need also to learn the Tabernacle lessons—how and under what conditions we may have fellowship with God—may enter into the court and still further into the Holy, and ultimately, as members of the High Priest’s body, into the Most Holy. We need to learn order in respect to natural as well as spiritual things; and that while the liberties of the Lord’s people are to be conserved and bondage to evil is to be avoided, that, nevertheless, in all of the Lord’s arrangements there is order, as represented in the order established amongst the Israelites. We are to learn first of all to be subject to the Lord, and secondly, to every ordinance of God; we are to consider the truly consecrated people of God as a unit and are to seek to co-operate one with another, and to remember the Apostle’s words, “Remember them which have the rule over you,” (Heb. 13:7), and again, “Yea, all of you be subject one to another.” (I Pet. 5:5.) All of these lessons are necessary to us, as similar lessons in type were necessary to typical Israel.
The cloud, representing the Lord, rested over the Tabernacle during the sojourn in the vicinity of Sinai; but in harmony with the instructions given through Moses, when the appointed time had come, the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle and went before the people and about one hundred and fifty miles distant, rested over another wilderness nearer Canaan. The people followed it in marching order and apparently at first with great enthusiasm, praising the Lord. Vs. 35 seems to refer to Psalm 68 which describes the journey; see also Psa. 132:8. But whatever were the joyful anticipations of the people, they found the wilderness of Paran into which the Lord led them the scene of great trial, for it was much more rugged than the wilderness of Sinai and much less adapted to the care of their flocks and herds. This brought to the people fresh trials of faith and courage and endurance and confidence in the Lord and appreciation of his promises.
So with spiritual Israelites: after the Lord has given us certain lessons and experiences, some of which come to us under quiet and restful conditions, the order of procedure may be changed, and the indication of the Lord’s providences may lead to some breaking up of conditions which had been both favorable and unfavorable in some respects—leading into new circumstances and conditions. It is not for the true spiritual Israelite to murmur or complain or even to express a choice; but to look to the Lord
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for guidance. If he can discern the leadings of divine providence, even though it be in a wilderness condition more arid and undesirable than that in which he has previously been, he is to follow the Lord’s leadings unquestioningly and with songs of faith and confidence. We are marching toward Canaan and know that other experiences are due us and must be undergone ere we can inherit the promises. The lesson for us is prompt and thorough obedience to the Lord’s leadings without murmurings—with joyfulness; and this can only be expected on the part of those who have learned the lessons previously given them, and above all the lesson of faith,—confidence in the Lord’s power and goodness and faithfulness.
REBELLION AGAINST GOD’S PROVIDENCE
It was while in Paran that the people began to murmur again—for the leeks and onions and garlic and fish, etc., of Egypt. As little children to a father, they lamented to Moses—even regretting that they had been led out of bondage. Moses appealed the matter to the Lord, and the latter granted the request in displeasure, telling Moses that he esteemed the people to be murmurers against himself; because he was the real Leader and Moses merely his servant. The people wanted more meat, expressing themselves as wearied of the manna, so God sent them quails. An immense flock of quails was blown by a providential storm from the south and east over the Elantic Gulf into their camp. A writer on Eastern subjects says:—”These quails cannot sustain themselves long on the wing, and after crossing the desert 30 or 40 miles they would scarcely be able to fly. … When exhausted they would easily be taken as they flew at a height of about two cubits (3 or 4 feet) from the
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ground.” The people got an abundance; but ate so greedily that a pestilence broke out among them, which cost the lives of many, so that they called that place Kibroth-Hattaavah—”Graves of Greediness.” Thus the Lord permitted their discontent and spirit of rebellion to work out a severe penalty in a natural way.
Is it not sometimes after the same manner with the Spiritual Israelites? Do not some after being well fed on spiritual manna permit a selfish, craving spirit to interrupt their fellowship with the Lord to some extent—hankering for earthly, fleshly, good things;—forgetting the wisdom of our Leader, the Lord, and that his love which thus far has delivered us, and fed and led us, is still with us, as wise and as good as ever? Sometimes it is a repining against our lot in life, a desire for more ease and comfort and wealth and social influence, than are within our reach: sometimes it is a protest against our share of the aches and pains of the groaning creation and our inability to get rid of these: sometimes it is a protest against the illness and death of a loved one.
How unwise! Should not those who have been fed on the spiritual manna realize that all of Spiritual Israel’s affairs are under the Lord’s care and supervision? Should they not remember that,—He doth not willingly afflict the children of men, but for their good? (Lam. 3:33; Heb. 12:10.) Ah! some have found that the prayers of murmurers, even when answered, as were Israel’s, sometimes bring unexpected drawbacks;—that selfish prayers are too expensive. Some have gained wealth and lost the truth and its service: some have gained health only to find that with it they gained other trials no less severe: some have had their dear ones restored to them from the very jaws of death, only to wish afterward that God had not answered their prayers;—or, more correctly, to wish that they had accepted the Lord’s wisdom and providences trustfully, contentedly, uncomplainingly.
The lesson to Israel was, that they should trust the Lord implicitly; and accepting and using all that they had, all that the surroundings would supply, they should have used it as wisely and as thoroughly as possible—accepting all things, natural as well as miraculous, as God’s gifts. And therewith they should have been content, thankful, happy. So, too, Spiritual Israel should use wisely such things as are within their reach—accepting all as God’s gifts with thanksgiving; but their petitions should be for spiritual gifts—including patient-endurance and heart-contentment.
REBELLION AGAINST THE DIVINE ORDER
It was in Paran that Miriam and Aaron rebelled against Moses’ leadership asserting themselves his equals in authority. Miriam, the prime mover in the matter, referred to Moses’ marriage to a negress (Ethiopian) as an evidence of his general incapacity to manage his own affairs, much less those of a nation. The text of the complaint is given only in part, but undoubtedly the fact that they were now near to Canaan and well organized and that it was now comparatively easy to lead the people, led to this wrong position. Both were quite willing that Moses should be leader when the start was made and when all the chances seemed to be against the success of the movement.
Poor Moses! If it almost crushed him when the people murmured against him, how must he have felt when his two most trusted advisers thus showed that they too had a wrong view of the Exodus, and considered Moses a self-appointed leader! True, it does appear to us as though his meekness had led him into a marriage in every way beneath his education and station in life; but then, was he not under divine supervision in all his affairs? And could not the Lord have hindered the marriage unless he saw some way in which it could prove advantageous? And should not Miriam and Aaron have remembered this, and minded their own business? As a matter of fact we believe that the Lord was favorable to the marriage;—that thus he forestalled any inclination on the part of Israel to accept the children of Moses as their kings and lawgivers to the subversion of the divine program.
The Lord’s indignation was shown in smiting Miriam with leprosy and refusing to heal her for seven days even at the entreaty of Moses;—that thus the camp of Israel might also get a lesson in harmony with a subsequent statement,—”Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”
The lesson of trusting to the Lord’s vigilance in minding his business and the lesson that each Israelite indeed should mind his own business, are still closely identified. Many, nay all, still need to learn these lessons. The officiousness which inclines so many to think that the Lord’s work will go to wreck unless they control the lever and pass their judgment upon everybody and everything, is dangerous to all who have it, and their name is legion. It is born of too great self-conceit mixed with lack of respect for God’s wisdom and with a desire to meddle as “busybodies in other men’s matters.” Each should early learn that while doing his own part with his might he should trust much to the Lord, and that to him each servant stands or falls. Failure to do this leads to leprosy—sin.
“COME THOU WITH US AND WE WILL DO THE GOOD”
Hobab, here introduced to our attention (vs. 29), was Moses’ brother-in-law. (Judg. 4:11—R.V.) Raguel is here given as the name of Moses’ father-in-law and is supposed to refer to the same person called Jethro in another place. The explanation offered is that Raguel was his proper name and Jethro, which signifies Excellent, was his title as a chieftain of the Midianites, of the clan known as Kenites which dwelt in Midian east of Sinai. Hobab, therefore, was also a chieftain amongst the Kenites and undoubtedly, as Moses’ words suggest, was well acquainted with the country through which Israel would pass. Moses invited him to cast in his lot with the Israelites promising him that thus he, and such of his tribe as would come with him, should become joint-participators with the Israelites in the promises God had made them,—”Come thou with us and we will do thee good, for the Lord hath spoken good concerning
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Israel … and it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the Lord shall do to us, the same will we do unto thee.” Although Hobab at first refused, the promise of a share with Israel apparently influenced him favorably; because mention is made elsewhere of the Kenites as having share with Israel in the promised land.—Judges 1:16; 4:11; I Sam. 15:6; I Chron. 2:55.
Doubtless this narrative of divine arrangement with Hobab through Moses, was intended to convey a lesson to spiritual Israelites also. It represents that some who are not children of the promises according to the flesh, were, nevertheless, accepted of God because of the exercise of faith,—because of their willingness also to endure the trials and difficulties and warfare of the children of Israel, that they might be participators with them in the rewards and promises. So to-day, we may say to those who are still aliens, strangers, foreigners to the Lord’s covenants, “Come thou with us and we will do thee good.” We may tell whoever has an ear to hear of the gracious things which the Lord has promised, of everlasting life in Paradise, to all who are his,—faithful to the end of the journey; and yet, it will be a matter for the exercise of their wills: if they share in the blessings, they must also be willing to share the difficulties of the way, and the reproaches of the Lord’s people. Not only may we thus speak to people orally, inviting them to join with us, but our lives in general should be “living epistles,” giving testimony of our faith in the Lord and in his promises;—helpful, encouraging and attractive to others.
Our Golden Text applies to every spiritual Israelite, and surely all such must recognize the leadership of the Lord, else they cannot have peace and joy and blessing, and cannot make progress toward our Canaan. The Israelites learned to look for the movement of the cloud by which the Lord led them,
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and only once is it recorded that they ever disobeyed its leading—and that once was accompanied by their reverse in battle before their enemies, which doubtless impressed the lesson. (Num. 14:44,45.) Similarly, one of the most important lessons for the spiritual Israelite is to learn to look to the Lord for leading in all of life’s affairs—never to attempt any undertaking either temporal or spiritual without seeking to note the will of the Lord concerning the same.
The sooner this lesson is learned, the sooner disasters in life will be obviated; nevertheless, we are to remember that the Lord’s providences may lead us into trying circumstances and conditions, and not always into pastures green. Yet in these, faith will be tested and developed and faithfulness to the Lord’s leading will gradually bring us assurances that all things are working together for our good, for our spiritual welfare—the matters which appear to be favorable and comforting, and the experiences which seem to be rough and distressing. We are not to ask or expect the Lord’s leading for our own sakes, nor for any merit or worthiness in us, but, as our Golden Text expresses it, for the Lord’s sake—in accordance with his promise to us as spiritual Israelites, the seed of Abraham;—for his own name’s sake and work’s sake, in that he has purchased the blessing of the world, and is now taking out a people for his name to be his agents in this work of blessing,—for his own name’s sake in that he has invited us, promised us the victory if we abide in his love.
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INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED
IS THE COVENANT STILL BINDING ON THE JEW?
Question.—Does the Jewish Law Covenant still exist? or was it fully terminated at the introduction of the New Covenant sealed by our Lord’s death? If it still exists as a covenant, are all Jews now living still under and bound by that Sinaitic covenant? and if so, is the offer to the Jew still good that if he can still fulfil his part of that Law Covenant, he may have eternal life as a reward therefor aside from Christ?
Answer.—The Law Covenant was an agreement between God and the nation of Israel by which God pledged himself to give certain rewards to that nation if obedient; and Israel in turn bound itself to keep that law, and consented in event of failure to do so, that they had no claim upon the promises, but that they would justly come under divine sentence afresh. That covenant ceased, so far as God was concerned, when that nation was rejected at the time they rejected Jesus, and their rejection was noted in our Lord’s words, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” The rewards of the law were, nevertheless, secured by one Jew; namely, our Lord Jesus, because of his perfect obedience—even unto death. To him therefore, legally went all the blessings and privileges contained in and implied by the Law Covenant and the Abrahamic Covenant, to which it was merely “added.” Thus we see that from God’s standpoint the covenant arrangements have been fulfilled in Jesus, the faithful Jew, and that its provisions, therefore, cannot in any manner be extended to others now—nor could others ever hope to claim its provisions, even if they were open now.
However, while God has thus accomplished his side of the covenant, the Jews have never accomplished their side. Every circumcised Jew comes under the provisions of the Law Covenant and is subject to all its conditions, and can escape those conditions only in the divinely appointed way—by accepting Jesus as his Savior, the curse of the law: for he is the end of the law for righteousness [righteously] to every one that believeth (Rom. 10:4), but not to others. A believing Jew, in accepting Christ, ceases to be a Jew and becomes a Christian. Consequently all Jews not thus believing are still under the Law Covenant to which they have subscribed and to which they are bound by their own covenant or engagement; and there is no way for them to get free from their obligation to keep the whole law, except by believing into Jesus and thus in his sacrifice, having the righteousness of the law fulfilled in them. (Rom. 8:4.) The curse which they brought upon their own heads remains with them. “His blood be upon us and our children.” (Matt. 27:25.) They can only escape the curse of the law and the additional curse of this gross violation of it, by having the merit of his
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blood, his sacrifice, imputed to them, as a sin sacrifice, the atonement of their guilt.
A COMPARATIVE ESTIMATE OF THE ELECTION
Question.—There is a difference of opinion amongst us respecting your meaning in the article “A Comparative Estimate of the Election,” page 26, in Jan. 15, 1902 number of the WATCH TOWER, hence I inquire, Is it your thought that the consecrated number includes only those who have come to a knowledge of present truth? If so, are we to understand that for every one who now comes into fellowship in the light of present truth, some other one has gone out of this light into darkness?
Answer.—Quite to the contrary. We understand that consecration to the Lord is necessary in every case before there will be a proper ability to receive the truth in the love of it—the truth respecting the deep things of God. It is our thought that of the suggested 31,500 already consecrated in 1881, scarcely any had any knowledge of what we term “present truth.” Our thought is that a knowledge of present truth will be brought to all of these consecrated ones and will constitute a test of their consecration, of their sincerity; just as at the first advent our Lord offered himself not to the Gentiles, the unconsecrated, but to Israel the consecrated, typical people. The offering constituted a test to the Israelites; such as were meek and lowly of heart were the better prepared to receive the Messiah; such as were proud, vain-glorious either of their own persons or of their sects or parties, were thereby blinded and stumbled and hindered from accepting the truth. So it is today; the meek, the humble, the lowly of heart who are following the Lord implicitly have much advantage every way over the majority of God’s consecrated people now, beset by worldliness and personal or sectarian pride and ambition. Nevertheless, having made a consecration and having been accepted of the Lord, a reasonable time should properly be granted to such to make their calling and election sure, to learn life’s lessons respecting the emptiness of pride and ambition, and the fact that the true peace and joy in the Lord are to be found in humility of heart and closeness to the Master. We believe that in the Lord’s providence “present truth” has been presented time and again to many of these consecrated ones and that some were ready and received it the first time, while to others it came two, three, four times before they had learned their lessons properly so as to be able to discern the emptiness of sectarianism and the bitterness and nausea of human creeds and theories in order that they might be able to appreciate the good tidings of the Word and plan of God. Others failing to profit by experiences granted them will, we believe, be rejected from the “overcomers” class.
In all reason we must expect that the period of favor with many of these is expired and that the crowns apportioned to them at the time of their consecration are no longer held for them, but will be granted to others who will take their places; and that their names will no longer be written amongst the victors, but will be blotted out from that glorious place, though not blotted out of God’s memory, nor blotted out of existence, but rather that they may be re-entered as members of another class, the “Great Company,” who shall pass through the great tribulation which, peradventure, may work in them blessings which they were not prepared otherwise to receive.
We are not to expect that the Lord would wait until these names began to be stricken from the list before he would begin to prepare others for their places: rather we are to presume that he would have in training a considerable number already consecrated but not accepted to the high calling (because the general call has ceased) and therefore not at once made acquainted with present truth. As vacancies shall occur amongst the accepted, or “elect” class because of failure to fulfil consecration vows, it will open the way for these later consecrated ones to be accepted to the “high calling” and then it will be proper for them to come to an appreciation of present truth, and to discern clearly the prize of our high-calling, the race course leading to it and the requirements of every faithful runner. That this has been the Lord’s method since 1881 is evidenced very clearly by the fact that now at the time when we would expect that a good many names would be blotted from the roll as having failed to be victors, there are, we find, a considerable number consecrated since 1881, ready to receive the truth. And so deep is their consecration and earnestness and zeal that once they come into contact with the truth they assimilate it quickly, with understanding and appreciation, and make rapid progress in the race course toward the mark of the prize—perfect love.
Of course we must expect that some, even after receiving the light of present truth, will prove unfaithful to it and go out into the “outer darkness” of the world, where shortly, in the great time of trouble, they will share in the predicted “weeping and gnashing of teeth;” and we must expect that the going out of the race by these will be followed by the letting of others into the race course as well as in case of those who were consecrated prior to 1881, and whose testing largely consists in their coming into contact with the light of present truth. However, those who have come into the light of present truth under consecration made since October, 1881, will be much less likely to be
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finally rejected than those who were consecrated prior to 1881; because the receiving of the light of present truth constitutes one trial or sifting in every case, and this test is already past by those now being accepted.
“GOD GIVETH IT A BODY”
Question.—In explaining the resurrection of the dead, in I Cor. 15:36-38, the Apostle uses the illustration of wheat, or any kind of grain, saying, “That which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain,” “but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him.” My question is respecting this latter part of the text—”giveth it a body.” Would not this seem to imply that as in a grain of wheat or corn there is a germ which survives the death of the remainder of the kernel, so in mankind there must be something to survive the death of the body—some kind of an “it” to which the Lord will give a body in the resurrection? What is this “it” in humanity?
Answer.—If we say that the “it” represents the soul we state the matter truthfully, but in a manner liable to be misunderstood by the average reader or hearer, because very few seem to understand what a
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soul is, according to the Bible usage. There are any number of views and theories respecting what a soul is, yet all of them, except the Scriptural definition, are vague, indefinite, inconsistent, unreasonable. According to the Scriptures the word “soul” is the equivalent of the word “being;” and stands for the intelligent person or “sentient being.” The body is not the soul, though there could be no soul without a body; and the breath of life or spirit of life is not the soul, though there can be no soul without the spirit of life. As elsewhere explained,* when a body has been organized and infused with the spirit or energy of life, so that intelligence and thought result, that resultant condition is sentient being, or soul condition.
*Millennial Dawn Vol. V., Chap. 12
God’s sentence of death as the wages of sin is against the soul: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” And this sentence is executed through the deterioration of the body, either by sickness or otherwise, snapping the golden cord of life, causing the spirit or energy of life to break its union with the body. The result we call death, even before the putrefaction sets in which destroys the body. It is the death of the soul, the cessation of being, which has occurred.
In the divine arrangement God has provided in the death of our Lord Jesus a ransom for all (I Tim. 2:5,6),—all the souls of the human family—for Adam and Eve, and all the souls begotten, generated, by them. Consequently, although the divine sentence is upon every soul of man unto death, in view of this atonement which God has provided we who have faith in the efficacy of the atonement and in the ultimate carrying out of the divine plan are permitted to speak of these dead souls as though they were not dead, but merely asleep—”them that sleep in Jesus.” (I Thess. 4:13,14.) All who were dead in Adam, having been bought by Jesus are not yet made alive by him, nor even in any measure resuscitated, but are spoken of as no longer extinct but reckonedly sleeping—waiting for the Millennial morning, when all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and shall come forth again to being and to the opportunities of a raising up, or restoration to all that was lost—the process of raising up being betokened by the judgments of the Millennial age—rewards for those who will do well, chastisements for those who do ill, destruction if they persevere in ill doing. This judgment, in our common version Bible, is mistranslated “damnation.”—John 5:29.
The “it” in the case of the world is the soul, or being which became extinct in death, but which was redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and is to be the subject of restitution power at his second advent. Each “it,” each soul, each sentient being of the human family, redeemed by our Lord, was designed to have a body. Indeed, it cannot awake or come into being at all without a body. It will be necessary that the body shall be produced, created, and that, so far as the brain at least is concerned, identical with the body that perished when the soul fell asleep. Thus for the world the Lord will give “it” a body of its own kind;—human kind—a body which can go onward and upward to restitution and full human perfection, if the mind, the will, the soul, governing it, shall become obedient to the great Prophet, Priest and King, the glorified Christ, during the Millennial age; otherwise it will be cut off in the Second Death, and that without hope of recovery.—Acts 3:21-23.
In the case of the Church, a justification by faith is granted to believers, by which they are accounted free from the sentence of death, and permitted to consecrate their justified lives as sacrifices in the Lord’s service—joint-sacrificers with their Lord, in whose foot-steps they are called to follow. These, in their consecration, are reckoned as dying to the human nature entirely, and their new minds are reckoned as having been transformed, as being no longer human minds or wills, but spiritual minds or wills—”We have the mind of Christ.” This will, still exercised through a human body, is by the Lord and by his children accounted as the beginning of the new nature, the nucleus or new will of the “new creature.” This new creature, however, has no suitable spirit body at the present time, but tabernacles in the earthly, dying body—which indeed perishes as the new creature develops. The faithful of this class will constitute the first resurrection, described by the Apostle. (I Cor. 15:42-44.) The new mind is the “it” in this case; no longer a human mind or will or spirit, but a new spiritual one, changed; and in the resurrection God will give “it,” this embryo new creature, a spiritual body, as he has promised, and as it hath pleased him.
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“WE ARE WELL ABLE TO OVERCOME IT”
—NUM. 13:26-14:10.—AUGUST 24.—
“Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust.”—Psa. 40:4
ISRAEL having been taught certain great lessons in the wilderness, journeying toward Canaan, and having learned them to some extent, was now at Kadesh Barnea on the southern borders of the land of promise. The people suggested the sending of spies to investigate the condition of things in Palestine before going further. (Deut. 1:22.) The Lord acceded to the proposition and through Moses made selection of twelve chief men, one from each of the tribes—excepting the tribe of Levi and counting both Ephraim and Manasseh for Joseph. This caution in sending the spies was not condemned of the Lord; nevertheless, the people who for more than a year had been guided in all of their affairs by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night—directing their marchings, locations and camps, the time of their stay, etc.,—the people who had been miraculously fed with the quail and who had experienced the continuous miracle of the manna, and who had witnessed the discomfiture of their enemies by divine power when the hands of Moses were held up;—these people might have had faith enough in the Lord to have continued under his leadership whensoever and wheresoever he led them, confident of his care and of his power.
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The twelve spies quite probably separated into small groups and thus made the more extensive investigation; however, their return seems to have been at one time, which is rather against this supposition. Ten of the number reported favorably as respected the land, but unfavorably respecting the possibilities of conquering it; the other two, Joshua and Caleb, with greater faith in the Lord, were less apprehensive and assured the people, “Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” However, the people had not fully learned the lesson of faith in God their Leader, and hence the report of the majority thoroughly aroused their fears and discouraged them from attempting the conquest.
The majority report was given with an appearance of great equity, telling, on the one hand, that the land indeed was a goodly one, and exhibiting in demonstration some fruits, amongst which was the renowned bunch of grapes from Eshcol, which they had carried suspended on a pole between two of their number; but, on the other hand, they seem to have exaggerated in their description of the difficulties:—having reached a conclusion in their own minds they sought to impress it upon their report; and, like many of our own day, considered that in order to secure their end, a little exaggeration was justifiable;—the people were giants and the Israelites in comparison as grasshoppers; the cities were immense and were walled up to heaven; the land though rich, as evidenced by the fruits they brought, they reported “eateth up the inhabitants thereof”;—meaning either that local warfare was prevalent or that it was a pestilential land, not healthy, or that as a whole it was a barren land and the samples of fruitage they brought represented exceptional portions.
No wonder the people who had looked forward so longingly to this land of promise felt greatly discouraged; such a report would be well calculated to discourage anybody. Yet it was just such a report as the people in general would have made, since it was made by their representatives out of every tribe. The report was an “evil” one, not only in that it exaggerated the difficulties, but in that it also entirely ignored the divine supervision of the past. Among
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other things that inspired fear was the report of the giants—Nephilim: these they represented as being descendants of the Nephilim, or giants which had caused such terror to the world before the flood. (Gen. 6:4.) The people were so thoroughly disheartened that they set up a great wail of despair;—it was a night of sadness when they had expected joy; it seemed to crush out all the hope which had previously buoyed them up in the journey; they murmured against the Lord as well as against Moses and Aaron, declaring that they would have preferred to have died in Egypt or in the wilderness. They seem to have concluded that the Lord through Moses would now force them into the land of Canaan,—seemed to see themselves destroyed by the sword, and their families a prey to their enemies. In their frenzy they said, Let us choose from our number a leader instead of Moses, reverse the program—return to Egypt and call it the land of favor!
It must have been a sad occasion for the meek Moses: once before the people had proposed to choose another captain or leader, but this was during his absence in Mt. Sinai; now in his presence they repudiated him and all that he had endeavored to do for them. Only Joshua and Caleb stood by the Lord and defended Moses and Aaron who had fallen on their faces before the assembly; these two professed faith in the Lord; saying, “If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us; their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us; fear them not.” But these noble and courageous words of faith were lost upon the angry people: discontent and fear had gained thorough control of their minds, so that instead of loving and appreciating these noble men and their counsel, they were about to stone them to death.
Then the Lord interfered as on a previous occasion; a bright light shining out from the Tabernacle reminded the people that the Lord their Leader was not only gracious and careful, but just; and that he could and would punish transgression as before. A pestilence broke out amongst them, and among its first victims were the ten spies who had brought the discouraging report. Moses pointed out these matters to them and showed what a lack of confidence in God their Leader they had manifested. He gave them also the Lord’s message that because of unbelief they had failed to improve their opportunities, and in consequence none of them above twenty years of age should ever enter the land of promise—the youth and children, being held of the Lord as not responsible, were exempted. The Lord explained to them that for every day that the spies had spent in searching the land to bring an evil report, there should be a year of delay in eventually reaching it. Thus God here answered their prayer. “Would to God that we had died in the wilderness!”—God determined that they should all die there.
Shortly their courage revived and they determined that having come thus far to enter the land of promise they would go forward and take possession of it;—they would ignore the Lord’s declaration that they might not now have it;—they would take it anyway for themselves. Another evidence is here given of their lack of faith in the Lord; they did not realize as they should have done how much the Lord’s hand had been connected with all their progress thus far, and that without him they could do nothing. When they informed Moses of their purpose, he refused his consent and co-operation, and forewarned them of disaster in any enterprise in which the Lord was not their leader, nevertheless they marshalled a host and went forth, soon to retreat in disorder before their enemies, leaving numbers of their brethren slain upon the field of battle. It was a difficult matter for them to learn to rely, not upon themselves, but upon the Lord. Thence their journey turned again into the wilderness.
LESSONS FOR SPIRITUAL ISRAELITES
That the land of Canaan and its rest from the wilderness journeying is intended to be a type for
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the spiritual Israelites, is clearly shown by the Apostle in his reference to it, and to how Joshua led the people into its rest. (Heb. 4:3-8.) Canaan evidently cannot typify the perfect heavenly state into which the Church hopes to enter; because when Israel did enter Canaan there were years of battling with the inhabitants thereof,—finally overcoming them by the Lord’s assisting power. The Scriptures teach us, on the contrary, that when the Church shall have experienced the First Resurrection change, all her trials and difficulties, her conflicts with the Amalekites and Hittites and Jebusites and Philistines will be ended;—that which is perfect shall have come, and that which is in part shall have been done away. We must, therefore, understand Canaan to represent the Millennial Kingdom condition, into which all who are the Lord’s people shall be brought, under the leadership of the antitypical Joshua (Jesus), the Church being the priesthood glorified. The antitype of Canaan’s trials and difficulties will be experienced in overcoming the weaknesses pertaining to the flesh, and in developing more and more under the Lord’s guidance and blessing into the full perfection of human nature—by restitution processes then in operation, rewarding every act of obedience and reproving and punishing every act of disobedience.
Fleshly Israel not only made this type in the wilderness, but accomplished in considerable measure its antitype; for during the 1600 years of their experience they were, under the Lord’s guidance, being prepared for the Millennial Kingdom (Canaan). At our Lord’s first advent they as a nation had reached a place corresponding to Kadesh Barnea, a place of decision in respect to entering into the Kingdom condition. Had they been in the right attitude of heart, full of faith and trust in the Lord, they would have received him, and the Kingdom of God could at once have been established. But in unbelief they rejected him who was the antitype of Moses and Aaron and therefore did not enter into rest; instead, another long, wearisome journey in the wilderness has been their portion, for now nearly 1900 years. Shortly, at the second advent of our Lord, he, as the antitype of Joshua, will lead all his people Israel, as many as shall come into the faith of Abraham, and thus become his people, into the land of promise—into the Millennial Kingdom with its blessings, mercies and promises.
But is there a lesson for spiritual Israelites in connection with these Canaan fightings, etc.? Yes, we answer: we are to be like Joshua and Caleb, and by faith are to enter into the land and confirm the Lord’s promises and give a good report thereof. By faith we have already entered into divine favor; we must have already tasted that the Lord is gracious; we have already experienced forgiveness of sins; we know as the remainder of mankind know not,—even those who seek righteousness and harmony with God—that the Lord’s power is not limited. We realize that we are fully able to meet the conflicts and difficulties and trials belonging to a consecrated life. By faith we are already living in this Kingdom; already we are battling with the world, the flesh and the devil, day by day, but at the same time resting—in the promises of the Lord; in the strength and grace which he supplies; in the victories which he grants us.
It will be remembered that the name Joshua is otherwise translated Jesus (see Heb. 4:8) and means “deliverer of his people—help of God.” The name Caleb signifies “dog”; and this reminds us that the poor of this world, rich in faith, who are to be heirs of the Kingdom with their Lord Jesus, were represented in our Lord’s parable as being on a level with the dogs. As the rich man, representing Fleshly Israel, to whom belonged the promises as the child of Abraham, failed to enter into them because of his unbelief and rejection of Jesus, and was cast off from divine favor for a time, so Lazarus represented those “dogs” who have, during this Gospel age been accepted as children of Abraham through faith. Viewing Joshua and Caleb from this standpoint as representing the Lord and the faithful though despised few who share with him the people’s wrath for their good report, we can see that these alone, at the present time, have the proper faith in God to enter into his rest in advance of the world, and to make full consecration of themselves to him and his service, and to battle with the world, the flesh and the devil, and to conquer through the blood of the Lamb. And these, now by faith fighting the good fight, shall in the near future as God’s representatives lead forward all the hosts of his people—redeemed mankind—who, learning lessons of bitter experience in the wilderness condition, will eventually be glad to enter into Millennial Canaan, there to inherit the rich promises of God’s Word.
The essence of this lesson is represented in the Golden Text. Faith and trust in the Lord is the paramount essential for acceptance and blessing at his hand,—”Without faith it is impossible to please God.” “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” If we leave the world (Egypt) to become the Lord’s people, and receive the lessons of experience at his hand with proper faith in him, the outcome will surely be a readiness and promptness to make a full consecration, a full submission of ourselves to do the Lord’s will; to follow his leadings; to inherit whatsoever he has for us. And if the faith be of the proper kind we will say with the Prophet, “I will fear no evil for Thou art with me—thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” Such, and such alone, can be lead of the Lord in this present Gospel age, in which we must walk by faith, not by sight. Such alone will have the confidence to go forward encountering the various oppositions within and without in the present time. Such will eventually be God’s representatives and leaders in the blessing of the world in the Millennial age. Let us learn well the lesson of faith, of trust: as God informs us
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of his appreciation of this quality, and that he can deal with us only in proportion as we possess it, so in our own experiences we find that we love most to assist and encourage those who manifest an abiding confidence in us.