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VOL. XXV. JANUARY 15, 1904. No. 2
Views from the Watch Tower…………………… 19
Employers of Labor Agitating……………… 19
Fertilizing Soil with Bacteria…………… 20
Our Year-Text for 1904……………………… 21
Fishers of Men……………………………… 25
The Good Physician………………………… 27
The Pilgrim’s Wants (Poem)…………………… 31
New Arrangements for Pittsburgh
Public Ministries of the Truth……………… 32
General Conventions, 1904………………… 32
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
EMPLOYERS OF LABOR AGITATING
THESE ARE THE CONDITIONS WE HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCING SINCE 1875, AS EVIDENCES THAT WE ARE
IN THE GREAT “DAY OF THE LORD” AND
THAT ITS BATTLE OR STRUGGLE IS
IN December last two important meetings of manufacturers and labor employers were held; one in Dayton, O., the other in Chicago, Ills. The proceedings at Dayton and the object of the meeting are thus described in the daily press—
A resolution was adopted asking Congress not to indorse the eight-hour bill, when that document comes up for action. Another resolution requests all employers’ associations throughout the country to affiliate with the national body.
AGAINST UNION LABEL
The determined stand to be taken by the association is indicated in the passage of a resolution instructing all members of employers’ associations affiliated with the national body not to place the union label on any of their output.
It is proposed also to establish a labor information bureau, where will be kept a tabulated record of all law-breaking and undesirable workmen.
The present methods employed by unions in conducting a boycott were bitterly denounced.
A bureau of organization, publication, and education will likely be located at Dayton, although the headquarters will be at Indianapolis.
The following platform was adopted as an open letter to the public and affiliated associations:
Resolved, By the executive committee of the Citizens’ Industrial Association of America, that the present industrial conditions have become so deplorable by reason of the indefensible methods and claims of organized labor that the time has come when the employing interests and good citizenship of the country must take immediate and effective measures to reaffirm and enforce these fundamental principles of American government guaranteeing free competitive conditions.
“In its demand for the closed shop organized labor is seeking to overthrow individual liberty and property rights, the principal props of our government. Its methods for securing this revolutionary and socialistic change in our institutions are also those of physical warfare. Because of this warfare the industrial interests of the nation during the last years have been injured to an irreparable degree. Many firms have been driven into bankruptcy, and the cases are innumerable in which workingmen have been disabled and even murdered, while numerous families have been rendered destitute by reason of the tyranny and seditious attacks upon society by the strike organizations.
“CONDITION OF ANARCHY”
“A condition of anarchy has existed continuously in some States for months past, and, in fact, the acts of lawlessness committed under the sacred name of labor are of such frequent recurrence that the public sense of their enormity has become blunted. The period of great prosperity brought about by the unrestricted operation of the law of supply and demand is also being destroyed by the acts of violence of organized labor, and as a result we are now confronted with the possibility of a period of depression.
“While we most emphatically object to being classed as enemies of organizations of labor that are conducted upon lawful and beneficent lines, yet we are unalterably opposed to the present programme of violence, boycotting, and tyranny now being carried out by the majority of labor unions.
“We therefore urge the rapid organization of those who believe in the maintenance of law and order and the perpetuation of our free institutions, to the end that they may wield their full and proper influence upon the destinies of the nation. Since organizations exist for the apparent purpose of defying law and common sense, and are able to intimidate and influence public men and municipal authorities, there is no alternative left to those who desire to preserve bearable conditions in our body politic than that of forming counter organizations.
ORGANIZATION THE ONLY MEANS
“It is only through the machinery of organization that we can hope to exercise a potent and salutary influence over public thought and the conduct of public officials, to the end that the rights of American citizenship can be assured to free and independent labor, the rights
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of property protected and legislation of a socialistic nature prevented from being enacted into law.
STRONG WORDS AT THE CHICAGO SESSION.
“If the fight for the closed shop is allowed to continue there will be scenes of bloodshed in this country that will surpass the days of the French revolution. The closed shop is un-American, unrighteous, a restriction of the liberties of our people, and a death blow to the individualism that makes for success.”
The foregoing sentiment, expressed by W. B. Brinton, president of the Peru Plow Company, was cheered by 600 members of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association at their annual banquet.
“Our rights,” declared Mr. Brinton, “are dependent on the settlement of the question once for all as to whether an employer can hire whom he pleases without being subject to the dictation of any organized body. The Chicago City Railway has won a great victory in establishing its right to engage its own employees. Without this right, which is becoming recognized by the great mass of people, the commercial supremacy of the United States will be at an end.”
FERTILIZING SOIL WITH BACTERIA
Because we are in the dawning of the Millennium, the Lord is graciously lifting the curtain and letting in the light upon one subject after another,—to prepare for the great blessings of that glorious time and its re-awakened billions of humanity. From this standpoint the following article from the Literary Digest will be read with interest. It shows one of the ways the Lord’s promises may be expected to be fulfilled and cause the wilderness to blossom as the rose. And every evidence of the kind adds to our general faith in our Father’s willingness and ability to do all that he has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
The article follows:—
Soil that will not bear crops is suffering from starvation. This may be remedied by properly “feeding” it with fertilizers; but in certain cases the trouble may also be cured, like some diseases, by inoculation. In other words, soil deficient in nitrogenous matter may be treated with cultures of certain bacteria that enable plants to absorb and utilize atmospheric nitrogen, as has been shown in Germany by Professor Nobbe. Fertilizing material sufficient for an acre may now be purchased in a small glass bottle. Ray Stannard Baker tells in Harper’s Magazine just how this discovery was made and how it has been utilized. According to Mr. Baker, it had its beginning in the earlier discovery that plants are fed largely from substances in the air and from consequent study of the problem of how the plant is able to appropriate this aerial food. Says the writer:
“The chief chemical elements in all vegetable substances are oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. … Nitrogen is the all-important element. Potassium and phosphorus are usually present in abundance, or they can be easily supplied in the form of wood-ashes and other fertilizers; but nitrogen is more expensive and more difficult to restore. Nitrogen is what makes the muscles and brain of a man; it is the essential element of all elements in the growth of animals and plants. … If the world ever starves, it will be from lack of nitrogen; and yet if such starvation takes place, it will be in a world full of nitrogen. For there is not one of the elements more common than nitrogen, not one present around us in larger quantities. Four-fifths of every breath of air we breathe is pure nitrogen—four-fifths of all the earth’s atmosphere is nitrogen. If mankind dies of nitrogen starvation, it will die with food everywhere about it and within it.
“But unfortunately plants and animals are unable to take up nitrogen in its pure form as it appears in the air. It must be combined with hydrogen in the form of ammonia or in some nitrate. These facts have been well known to science for many years. At the same time it has been known, as a matter of experience among farmers, that when land is worn out by overcropping, with wheat or oats, for instance, both of which draw heavily on the earth’s nitrogen supply, certain other crops would still grow luxuriantly upon it, and that if these crops are left and plowed in, the fertility of the soil will be restored, and it will again produce large fields of wheat and other nitrogen-demanding plants. These restorative crops are clover, lupin, and other leguminous plants—a classification including beans and peas. Everyone who is at all familiar with farming operations has heard of seeding down an old field to clover, thereby restoring its fertility in a degree.”
That this property of clover, beans, etc., is due to small nodules growing on their roots, and that these are produced by so-called “nitrifying” bacteria, is now known to all students of scientific agriculture. Acting on this knowledge, Professor Nobbe has developed his plan for soil-inoculation. Says Mr. Baker:
“If these nodules were produced by bacteria, then the bacteria must be present in the soil; and if they were not present, would it not be possible to supply them by artificial means? In other words, if soil, even worn-out farm soil—or, indeed, pure sand, like that of the seashore—could thus be inoculated, as a physician inoculates a guinea pig with anthrax germs, would not beans and peas
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planted there form nodules and draw their nourishment from the air? It was a somewhat startling idea; but all radically new ideas are startling, and after thinking it over, Professor Nobbe began, in 1888, a series of most remarkable experiments, having as their purpose the discovery of a practical method of soil-inoculation. He gathered the nodule-covered roots of beans and peas, dried and crushed them, and made an extract of them in water. Then he prepared a gelatin solution with a little sugar, asparagin, and other materials, and added the nodule extract. In this medium colonies of bacteria at once began to grow—bacteria of many kinds. Professor Nobbe separated the radiocola—which are oblong in shape—and made what is known as a clean ‘culture’—that is, a culture in gelatin consisting of billions of these particular germs and no others. When he had succeeded in producing these clean cultures, he was ready for his actual experiments in growing plants. He took a quantity of pure sand, and in order to be sure that it contained no nitrogen, nor bacteria in any form, he heated it to a high temperature three different times for six hours, thereby completely sterilizing it. This sand he placed in three jars. To each of these he added a small quantity of mineral food—the required phosphorus, potassium, iron, sulphur, and so on. To the first he supplied no nitrogen at all in any form; the second he fertilized with saltpeter, which is largely composed of nitrogen in a form in which plants may readily absorb it through their roots; the third of the jars he inoculated with some of his bacteria culture. Then he planted beans and awaited the results—as may be imagined, somewhat anxiously.
“The beans in the first jar, we are told, starved for want of nitrogenous food, exactly as a man would starve under the same conditions. Those in the second jar grew about as they would in the garden. But the third or ‘inoculated’ jar showed really a miracle of growth.
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The soil in this jar was originally as free of nitrogen as the soil in the first jar, and yet the beans flourished greatly, and when some of the plants were analyzed, they were found to be rich in nitrogen. Nodules had formed on the roots of the beans in the third jar only, thereby proving that soil-inoculation was a possibility—at least in the laboratory. Mr. Baker goes on to say:
“Having thus proved the remarkable efficacy of soil-inoculation in his laboratory and greenhouses, where I saw great numbers of experiments still going forward, Professor Nobbe set himself to make his discoveries of practical value. He gave to his bacteria cultures the name ‘Nitragen’—spelled with an a—and he produced separate cultures for each of the important crops—peas, beans, vetch, lupin, and clover. In 1894, the first of these were placed on the market, and they had a considerable sale, altho such a radical innovation as this, so far out of the ordinary run of agricultural operation, and so almost unbelievably wonderful, can not be expected to spread very rapidly. The cultures are now manufactured at one of the great commercial chemical laboratories of the river Main. I saw some of them in Professor Nobbe’s laboratory. They were put up in small glass bottles, each marked with the name of the crop for which it is especially adapted. The bottle was partly filled with the yellow gelatinous substance in which the bacteria grow. On the surface of this there was a mossy-like gray growth, resembling mold. This consisted of innumerable millions of the little oblong bacteria. A bottle cost about fifty cents, and contained enough bacteria for inoculating half an acre of land. It must be used within a certain number of weeks after it is obtained, while it is still fresh. The method of application is very simple. The contents of the bottle are diluted with warm water. Then the seeds of the beans, clover, or peas, which have previously been mixed with a little soil, are treated with this solution and thoroughly mixed with the soil. After that the mass is partially dried so that the seeds may be readily sown. The bacteria at once begin to propagate in the soil, which is their natural home, and by the time the beans or peas have put out roots they are present in vast numbers, and ready to begin the active work of forming nodules. …
“Prompted by these experiments, a valuable series of tests has recently been made by the United States Department of Agriculture, and an improved method for distributing the bacteria has been devised. Instead of a moist culture in glass tubes the bacteria are put up in a small dry mass that resembles a yeast-cake. These may be sent anywhere without deterioration; a little soaking is all that is needed to prepare them for use in the soil. The Department is now formulating a plan for introducing these cultures extensively in localities in this country which are deficient in nodule-forming germs.”
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OUR YEAR TEXT FOR 1904
[Reprint from Pittsburgh Gazette]
PASTOR C. T. Russell of the Bible House chapel, Allegheny, yesterday afternoon spoke on “A Text for the New Year.” He said:
I choose for my text the exhortation of the Apostle Paul to the Church at Philippi—appropriate to us also. I suggest that we each make it our year-text, and trust that our minds, continually recurring to it, may be profited, strengthened and assisted in the right ways of the Lord. The words are:
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are reputable, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.”—Phil. 4:8.
Few seem to realize the power of the mind, the power of thought, as an element in the formation of character. “As a man thinketh so is he.” How important, then, it is that we should think properly—that our minds should be rightly directed. The Scriptures assure us, and the experiences of the noblest people of the world convince us, that we have all so inherited degeneracy from our father Adam, that “there is none righteous, no not one; all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” This degeneracy affects us physically—we are a dying race under the Creator’s sentence, “Dying thou shalt die.” And this dying affects us not only physically but mentally and morally. “We are prone to sin as the sparks to fly upward.” The taint is in us from our birth, for were we not “born in sin and shapen in iniquity”?
HUMAN REGULATIONS NECESSARY
There are various methods of appealing to humanity, the success of each varying with the individual. Some need imprisonment and “stripes,” others can be profited by moral suasion, by appeal to their reason, by appeal to the better elements of their natures, even though tainted or tarnished through original sin. Both of these methods of appeal are recognized in the world to-day. Pulpits and newspapers are appealing to the minds of men with more or less propriety and with more or less success; but nevertheless society protects itself by penal institutions—reformatories, jails, penitentiaries, etc. So it is with the divine government. Nature has some general laws by which the whole world of mankind is dominated—laws of retribution, by which every virtue brings a certain degree of reward, satisfaction and peace, and every crime brings a certain measure of chastisement, pain, trouble and unrest.
Nevertheless, the course of nature is so disordered in the present time by the prevalence of sin and its penalty and the operation of the laws of heredity that we cannot say that the laws of nature are at the present time absolutely just as respects each individual, whatever we may say of their general justice in respect to the race as a whole. Hence, as the Scriptures declare, “some men’s sins go before to judgment and some they follow after.”
In the coming millennial age, when Christ’s Kingdom shall administer justice amongst men, the rewards and punishments will be equitable. No longer will the child suffer for the sins of the parents. No longer will the righteous suffer; but only the evil-doers, for thus it is written. (Jer. 31:29; Psa. 72:7.) In that blessed time the Lord will use both methods of appealing to the world. (1) An appeal will be made to their hearts and consciences, with inducements and rewards for obedience to the principles of righteousness—the reward of physical, mental and moral restitution or uplift, which will bring the obedient gradually back to the full image and likeness of God enjoyed by father Adam before his fall. (2) This appeal to the hearts and consciences of mankind will be supplemented by stripes, judgments, chastisements “upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” We can to some degree realize the great advantage that will accrue to mankind under such dealings—how great will be the assistance.
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THE LORD’S METHOD AT THE PRESENT TIME
In the present age the Lord does not use this double method of appeal, but merely the first. He appeals to our hearts, our reasons, saying, “Come, let us reason together.” But those who will not reason with the Lord now are not chastised, even if they go into grievous sins. The worldly are permitted to take their course; they receive no particular stripes or corrections from the Lord, because the day of the world’s trial or judgment has not yet come. As the Apostle says, “The wicked shall do wickedly and none of the wicked shall understand;” and so we have on every hand sin, wickedness abounding, and that without interference from the Lord. Only with one class is the Lord now dealing, namely, the Church. We recognize, of course, that there is a divine supervision over the nations; that the Lord has kept in his
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own power more or less of the times and bounds of the nations, as the Apostle expresses the matter. (Acts 17:26.) However, these dealings with the nations have little to do with the world as individuals, and nothing to do with the world’s trial, which belongs to the next age. “God hath appointed a day [the millennial day—a day with the Lord is as a thousand years]
in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath afore ordained”—the Christ, head and body.—Acts 17:31; I Cor. 6:2.
We repeat, then, that the Lord’s special dealings at the present time are with those who believe and not with unbelievers. He sends his message, “speaking peace through Jesus Christ,” to him that hath an ear to hear and a heart to receive the message—and these are very few, comparatively. The appeal of the evangelist who follows the scriptural pattern is an appeal to the heads and the hearts of the people who have the ears to hear. He is not privileged to mete out stripes or other judgments or corrections to those who disregard his message. Those who have the ears, and who receive the word with gladness, get a great blessing—and that in proportion as they receive it into good and honest and obedient hearts. Those who do not hear at all, whose hearts are not in the condition to respond to the Gospel message, suffer a loss—a loss of the joy and peace and blessing and “comfort of the Scriptures” which the believers enjoy.
“BY THE FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING”
Not only does the Lord begin the work of grace among his people with the above-described message, speaking forgiveness and peace through Jesus, but, to those who do receive the message and who are exercised by it he continues the same process of dealing—still appealing to their hearts, heads and consciences. This is what the Apostle means when he says, “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”—I Cor. 1:21.
To the world this method of appealing merely to the heads and hearts seems like a weak and unsatisfactory method of dealing. The world finds it necessary to resort to force, and wonders that the Almighty does not resort to force to compel obedience to His laws rather than merely to exhort obedience to them. We have just seen that in the millennial age the Lord will use both methods, and the question properly arises, Why does he not use both methods of appealing to mankind in the present time—first, appeal through the intellect and heart, and second, appeal through force?
We answer, that the reason lies in the fact that God is now selecting a peculiar class—to use scriptural terms, he is now electing “a peculiar people.” The class he is now seeking needs no stripes or punishments to constrain their obedience. They are constrained by love—love for God, love for the Redeemer, love for the principles of righteousness and a sympathetic love for the whole world of mankind, even their enemies.
If force were introduced in the present time it would be a hindrance to the development of this particular class which the Lord is now seeking, each of whom must be in heart, in intention (not in flesh) a copy of God’s dear Son. Those who require stripes, punishments, etc., to enforce obedience to the divine requirements cannot be of the “very elect,” whose disposition of heart is represented by the words of our Lord expressed through the prophet: “I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is written in my heart.”—Psa. 40:8.
HOW GOD WORKS IN US TO WILL AND TO DO
It is in harmony with this thought that God is now operating in the Church along the lines of appeal to our sentiments and not along the lines of force. As the Apostle says: “It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” God works in this class through the intellect and heart. He makes known to them “the riches of his grace” little by little as they are able to appreciate and willing to respond.
The first effect of this upon the proper heart is to induce a responsive sentiment, expressed by the Apostle thus: “The love of Christ constraineth us: for we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that we who live should henceforth live not to ourselves, but to him who died for us.” (2 Cor. 5:14.) The class represented in this text have experienced the Truth working in them as the power of God up to the point of willing—willing to do the Lord’s will; willing to renounce self; willing to follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus; willing to be copies of God’s dear Son. The power of God continues to operate in such and unfolds to them more and more of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God which passeth all understanding, and which is expressed to these in the “exceeding great and precious promises” of the divine Word.
These promises operate upon the heart and mind and lead to works—obedience, self-denial, self-sacrifice—even unto death. It is such as are thus rightly exercised by divine grace and truth who may now hope to attain to all the great and wonderful things which God hath in reservation for them that love him.
Not only does God thus appeal to our minds, our thoughts, our reasoning faculties, with his explanation of right and wrong, truth and untruth, righteousness and sin, and promises of his continued favor unto life eternal, or for the disobedient his disfavor unto cutting off from life in the second death; but he urges upon us co-operation with him along the same lines—that we take hold of our minds, of our thoughts, and shape them into conformity with the divine mind, with the divine will.
This is the signification of our text: On the principle that every thought has its influence upon our words and conduct, the Apostle urges that our thoughts be the special objects of our solicitude, care, watchfulness. Our Redeemer expresses the same sentiment in different language saying, “Out of the abundance of the heart [mind]
the mouth speaketh.” And out of the heart
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(mind) proceedeth envies, malice, strife, etc.,—or contrariwise kindness, gentleness, goodness, love.
IMPORTANCE OF A RIGHT HEART
It is all important, then, that we have right hearts; for as a bitter fountain cannot send forth sweet waters, neither can a heart that is in the bitterness of sin send forth blessing to those in contact with it. We admit that a certain amount of refinement and grace belonging to the children of God may be copied by the unregenerate, but it has no depth, it fails easily, it quickly discloses the real bitterness, selfishness and acrimony of the natural heart which underlies.
In the present time, therefore, the Lord does not appeal to these bitter hearts to send forth sweet waters. The appeals of the Scriptures are to the regenerated hearts of consecrated believers, addressed in all the epistles as “saints,” “children of God,” “the sanctified in Christ Jesus,” “the Lord’s brethren,” etc. These having new hearts, new wills, sanctified or set apart to the Lord, to righteousness, to truth, to goodness, need nevertheless to keep watch over their every deed, word and thought.
Our text is the apostle’s appeal to this class along this line. It is well that we should scan our outward conduct, to take note that our good intentions may not be so exhibited to others that they will misapprehend our real sentiments—”Let not your good be evil spoken of.” It is right, too, that we should “set a guard upon our mouth lest we should sin with our lips,” lest our words be such as would not be honoring to the Lord or edifying to the brethren or to the world. But the number of watchmen or pickets doing duty and standing guard over our actions and words will be fewer in proportion as the picket line guarding our minds, our thoughts, is a strong one. It is here that we need to be especially on the alert.
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” This general truth is particularly exemplified in the regenerate, who are more open in their conduct and language, proportionately, than others. Having the right sentiments at heart they are less on their guard in respect to their manner of expression perhaps than previously; but all the more, they need to remember the words of the Apostle. “If any man sin not with his lips, the same is a perfect man.”—Jas. 3:2.
LIKELIHOOD OF ERROR
The inference is that even the most advanced of the Lord’s people are liable at times to err with their lips. Hence the appropriateness, to all of the Lord’s people, of the prayer, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”—Psa. 19:14.
Before coming more particularly to the items of our text let us briefly glance at the preceding context; for we notice that the Apostle introduces the text with the word “Finally.” What comes before Finally? Let us see. His words are, “Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand: be not worried about anything; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds [thoughts]
in Christ Jesus.”
What a wonderful exhortation this is! Those of us who are able to do so will do well to take the entire four verses for our Scripture text for the new year. The Christian is not to be sorrowful and moping. If he is a true Christian and understands the Father’s message he must rejoice. True, as the Apostle elsewhere remarks, through manifold trials, discouragements, weaknesses, etc., there may be moments of dejection and sorrow; but these are only like the sun-showers of the summer-time. To the true followers of the Lord, instructed through his Word, the light of the Lord’s kindness shines through all
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earth-born clouds and troubles, to bring him joy and peace and blessing.
FORGETTING THE THINGS BEHIND
At the present time, at the close of the old year and the dawning of a new one, it is especially appropriate that the Lord’s people should clearly apprehend the great lesson which the Apostle is here inculcating and which he also taught in another place, saying, “Forget the things which are behind, and press forward to things which are before.” In the year that is past every enlightened and proper-minded child of God will be able to discern both weakness and success, defeats and victories. We know this because “There is none righteous, no not one”—none that come fully up to the mark of perfection.
Hence all may look back and find in the year that is closing sources of regret as well as sources of joy and comfort. Are we to mourn over the failures of the past? Is this the will of the Lord concerning us—that we should stop, because we find that we have not been able to walk perfectly in every particular—not even up to our own imperfect standards? Nay, verily! With the Apostle we exclaim, “Let us go on to perfection.”
Perfection is not a thing of the past, but of the future. We cannot be satisfied with the past but we “shall be satisfied when we awake in his likeness,” sharers in the glorious first resurrection. For this we are pressing along, forgetting the things that are behind.
We forget the things that are behind, because it is right that we should do so. Because God forgets them, and declares that he has cast all of our imperfections behind his back; that our imperfections are all covered from his sight, by the merit of him who loved us and who died for us, and whom we love, and in whom we are trusting, and in whose steps we are seeking to walk with more or less of imperfection according to the defects we have inherited in the flesh. We are not meaning to suggest that slips or failures should be lightly esteemed or quickly forgotten; they should be rectified to the extent of our ability, and Divine forgiveness should be sought for these defects daily.
It is for this very purpose that the Lord has provided access to the “throne of heavenly grace, where we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need.” We merely mean that it is the Lord’s will respecting us that, having corrected errors to the best of our ability, and having appealed for Divine forgiveness, we should believe the word of the Lord and accept his forgiveness and start afresh with rejoicing with each new day—and now, as we near it, start afresh for the new year, 1904.
CULTIVATION OF GENTLENESS
“Gentleness,” the forbearance or moderation mentioned in the context, is to be cultivated by each of us to such an extent that it will not only be manifested to ourselves and to the brethren, but to others. This may not
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mean the same amount of gentleness in each of the Lord’s people, because the treasure of the new mind is in earthen vessels in every instance; and the possibilities for one may exceed the abilities of another. But, in any event, this quality of gentleness (moderation or forbearance) should be increasingly an outward manifestation of the grace of the Lord, dwelling in us richly and abounding, so that those who have known us in the past will at least be able year by year to see in us progress, development along this line.
We have already referred to the necessity for prayer, supplication, mentioned by the Apostle. We now observe that those who are dwelling in close fellowship with the Lord will be so appreciative of the favors and blessings already enjoyed that they will not feel like asking for greater blessings, but rather like giving thanks with a realization that they have already received not only more than they deserved at the Lord’s hands, but more than they could have asked or thought. And what has already been received is only a foretaste of the promised coming blessings.
Our requests should be, increasingly, for grace and wisdom and the fruits of the spirit and opportunities for serving the Lord and the brethren, and for growing more and more into the likeness of God’s dear Son.
Under these conditions who can doubt that the promised “peace of God beyond all understanding” would “guard” such “hearts” and their “thoughts”? This peace would of itself dispel one of the great evils that afflict the hearts of many. Selfishness and ambition would find little room in a heart so filled with gratitude. God’s peace, and not merely the peace of the world, would reign in such a heart, controlling ambitions and energies. Divine peace can dwell in our hearts and rule in them, so as to keep out the worry and turmoil of the world, even when we are surrounded by these disadvantageous conditions—even when the adversary himself is besetting us through deceived agents.
EMPTIED OF THE OLD; FILLED WITH THE NEW
Then comes our text, suggesting that, with this peace ruling in our hearts, and keeping guard over our thoughts, so that they are spared from many of the intrusions of the world, the flesh and the devil, we should see to it that our hearts are not merely barren and empty of evil, but should give our thoughts food even as we provide sustenance for our bodies. We should see that their exercise is in a proper direction to produce proper and helpful conditions.
We all know how easy it is to allow the old natural mind to assert itself, to allow envy, gossip, backbiting, malice, strife, pride, vain-glory, to enter our minds and to absorb time and attention. We all know that these need to be continually repelled; but all do not know how necessary it is that, while repelling these, we invite into our minds proper thoughts that will fill them and thus effectually bar the way and hinder the coming again of evil thoughts.
It is along this line that the Apostle exhorts, that we believe it will be profitable for us all to specially exercise our attention during the year just at hand. While thanking God for the forgiveness of sins and for the new hearts, new wills, which we have attained by his grace, let us keep guard over our thoughts—let us exercise them upon the lines the Apostle lays down in this text.
“Whatsoever things are true.” The Lord’s people are to be so in accord with righteousness that everything that is false or unjust or untrue in word, thought or act will be offensive to them—cause them pain. Truthfulness, then, must be the first test to apply to any matter that will be accepted by our minds. It is not for us to waste our time and attention chasing imaginary matters, errors, fictions, etc. First of all, we want to know, Is it true? While this truth will apply in a general way to everything in life, and to everybody, and promote a love for the right and the true, and a heart-opposition to all that is adulterated, yet the principle is specially applicable to the affairs of the new creation and to their spiritual food.
In respect to the latter, our first inquiry should be, Is this the truth or is it to any extent contaminated with traditions of men, calculated to “make void the Word of God”? as our dear Redeemer expressed it. The prophet declares, speaking of God, “Thou desirest truth in the inward parts”—sincerity of heart. It is remarkable how many people would shun to tell an open falsehood, who nevertheless appear not to have a heart-love for the truth. Let us during the year beginning cultivate a love for the truth wherever we may find it, and at any cost. Let us take time to “prove” everything we receive as truth.
THE THOUGHTS WE SHOULD ENTERTAIN
“Whatsoever things are honorable.” This is a second test of what our thoughts should be permitted to rest upon. We cannot avoid the intrusion of thoughts which our judgments would disprove, but we must scrutinize and test our thoughts, as they present themselves, and must refuse to entertain or harbor those which are ignoble, dishonorable, unworthy of us as human beings, and especially as members of the new creation, “the body of Christ.” Many things may be true which are not honorable, and their truthfulness must not give them a resting-place in our minds if they will not stand this second test.
“Whatsoever things are just,” or equitable. This is the third test which the Apostle would have us apply as we scrutinize suggestions made to our minds from any quarter. Things might be true and might be honorable so far as the principles were concerned, and yet not be just or equitable to others. A story might reach us of an honorable exploit of some friend; we might know it to be true, and yet it might reflect against some one else unfavorably, unjustly, inequitably. If so, the thought must not be entertained, but must be repelled.
“Whatsoever things are pure.” This is the fourth test which the Apostle urges us to apply to our thoughts as they present themselves from any quarter. Many things are true, just and perhaps not dishonorable that are not pure—calculated to awaken impure desires. Such things are strictly barred according to this inspired rule.
“Whatsoever things are lovely.” This is the fifth test. Amongst true, honorable, just, pure things which we may properly consider, there is a variety, some more and some less lovely, some more and some less admirable; and our thoughts, the Apostle suggests, should give preference to the lovely and loveable as being more ennobling, more calculated to lift us and profit us, and hence more inclined to help others through us; because our influence with others is on a parity with our mental status.
“Out of the abundance of the heart [the mind] the mouth speaketh;” and hence those who follow this
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counsel of the Apostle will be found more and more speaking nothing but the truth, and avoiding truths that are not honorable, or not just and equitable, or not pure; and preferring especially those topics for meditation that are lovely. What a lovely character would be assured in one who could strictly and completely follow the Apostle’s advice herein given. He would be a copy of Jesus—just what we all wish to be. None of us can attain this.
“Whatsoever things are reputable, possessing any virtue or any praise.” By this expression the Apostle seems to throw out general lines of test and examination. His words imply that we should have a scrutiny of our thoughts to the intent that only things that could be profitable to us and to others should be entertained, considered, discussed. Frivolous things would be excluded also by this test. Who will not admit that a mind thus freed from rubbish and evil and allowed only to entertain true, good, clean, profitable thoughts would be a mind which the Lord would be pleased with and which would conduce to the development of the character-likeness of our Lord Jesus, which is demanded of us if we would be his joint-heirs in the kingdom.—Rom. 7:29.
“PERFECT AS YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN”
The standard which the Apostle has here raised resembles the standard which our Lord raised before us when he said, “Be ye perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” We cannot be perfect as the Father is perfect, but we can and do aim at that perfection; and whatever we come short in while thus endeavoring is made up to us of the Lord’s grace through the merit of the precious blood. Likewise we cannot hope to attain so complete a control of our thoughts as the Apostle’s words in this beautiful text suggest, but we can make that our standard; and in proportion as we view this standard and daily strive to measure up to it, in that sense and proportion no doubt we will have a blessing every day throughout the year, and at its close find ourselves considerably strengthened in mind, and advanced along these lines, which the Apostle elsewhere speaks of as “bringing every thought into captivity to the will of God in Christ.”—2 Cor. 10:5.
The scriptural proposition is that even the most saintly of the Lord’s people, the most developed in character, will need the merit of Christ’s righteousness imputed to them until they are made perfect in the first resurrection. Only in our minds, in our wills, have the old things passed away and all things become new. Actually, this great change will be accomplished when this mortal shall have put on immortality, when this corruptible shall be raised in incorruption—raised in glory, in power, spirit beings. But meantime, in order to be counted worthy of a share in the first resurrection, it is required of us that we shall demonstrate our willingness of mind, our earnest desire to be all that the Lord would have us be; and in no way can this be better demonstrated to the Lord and to ourselves, or prove more helpful, than by keeping a strict surveillance of our hearts and of our thoughts. The Lord’s blessing will surely be upon all who shall seek to follow this word of his grace during the new year.
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FISHERS OF MEN
—LUKE 5:1-11.—JAN. 31.—
Golden Text:—”If ye continue in my Word, then are ye my disciples indeed.”—JOHN 8:31
CAPERNAUM lay near the shore of the Sea of Galilee, a beautiful little lake of world-wide honor and distinction because of our Lord’s association with it, and well stocked with fish, as we may judge from this lesson. It was to this lake shore near Capernaum that Jesus came after his rejection at Nazareth. He had a different reception here: the people pressed upon him to hear of the word of the Lord, and for convenience to himself and to them Jesus got into the fishing boat belonging to Simon Peter, that he might from the boat more effectually address the people, who doubtless sat or stood on the shore.
We are inclined to wonder frequently that more of our Lord’s discourses have not been preserved for us in the Gospel accounts. What we have are fragmentary, the sermon on the Mount being the principal one. As for the other references to Jesus’ preaching, they are merely brief extracts—his parables and dark sayings. As an illustration of the latter, note his declaration that he was the bread that came down from heaven, of which if a man eat he should never die. Many of those who heard said, This is a hard saying, and walked no more with him. Our chief instruction in the great doctrines of the Gospel—respecting the ransom, our justification through faith in the precious blood, our adoption, begetting, resurrection, and the difference between the First Resurrection and that of others subsequently, etc.,—comes to us through the epistles of the apostles and through the record of their discourses as given in the book of Acts.
At first we would be inclined to wonder why this should be so, why we should not get our chief instruction on matters pertaining to the future life and godliness from the words of our Lord. But we understand the matter clearly since we discern that it was necessary that our Lord should pay the ransom price before any of our race could be adopted by the Father and receive the spirit of adoption. This explains the whole situation; for without the spirit of adoption we could not understand spiritual things, and consequently the things of a heavenly character which Jesus declared were parables and dark sayings to those of his time who heard them; for instance, his discourse on the new birth to Nicodemus, who could not understand. Our Lord remarked in this connection the fact that he taught merely earthly things and not heavenly things, saying, “If I have told you earthly things and you understood not, how would you understand if I should tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:12.) Seeing that his hearers were not prepared to understand the heavenly things, our Lord gave his attention chiefly to discourses on earthly things, and to parables and dark sayings, which the Spirit would subsequently make known to his faithful ones.
THE NATURAL MAN APPRECIATES NOT SPIRITUAL THINGS
This gives us a larger view of our Lord’s ministry:
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first, teaching the natural man such things as the natural man could understand; secondly, healing the natural man’s ailments, and thus laying a broad foundation for the spiritual work which he would begin at Pentecost and carry out during this Gospel age through his representatives the apostles, and those who should believe on him through their word. Throughout this Gospel age the Lord himself has been the teacher of the Church, which is “his body”—”his brethren”: he has been attending to every feature of our instruction, feeding us upon the Truth—”things new and old.” He is still the instructor, and whatever we receive through the apostles is merely his message through them and not their own messages. And whoever now speaks in the Lord’s name is authorized to speak merely as a representative and ambassador, who must refer for his authority back to the words of the Lord himself, or to the words of those whom he inspired or directed in a plenary manner—the twelve apostles, Paul taking the place of Judas.
Our Lord had been probably a year engaged in preaching, first in Judea, and latterly in Galilee, at the time this lesson opens. He was evidently already acquainted with these fishermen mentioned in our lesson, Peter, Andrew, James and John. It was probably at an earlier interview that our Lord gave Simon his surname of Peter, as it occurs in this lesson. These fishermen had probably met with Jesus and heard his preaching on other occasions, and were his disciples in a general sense of the word—that is, followers of him, believers on him, advocates of his teachings. Now, however, the time had come for our Lord’s selection of the twelve apostles who should be with him continually and see his miracles and hear his teachings and be witnesses of all things said and done: and they in turn might in due time serve as his special representatives and be able to give to us, and to all of his subsequent followers accurate and truthful records of the principal events of his ministry.
After preaching to the company on the shore from his seat in the boat, Jesus proposed to Simon and Andrew, the owners of the boat, that the boat be taken into deeper waters and the nets cast for fish; but Peter informed the Lord that this would be useless as the day was unfavorable, or for some reason the fish were not in that quarter of the lake at that time, for he and his companions had toiled all night and caught nothing. Nevertheless, to please the Lord, they did as he suggested. As they began to gather in the net they found it to be heavily laden with fish, more than their boat could hold. Their partners in the other boat were beckoned to, and gave a helping hand to save some of the fish. The lesson had its designed effect; Simon Peter at once fell on his
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knees before the Lord, recognizing that no ordinary human being could have produced such results under such circumstances.
THE LORD LOVES ZEAL AND ENERGY
There is something very noble about Simon Peter: his impulsiveness by itself is an attractive trait. The zeal and energy with which he was disposed to take hold of any matter considered worthy of his attention is admirable. Indeed we know that Peter, James and John were the three whom the Lord specially loved of the twelve—the three who seemed to have the zeal, energy and vim which the Lord appreciates. They were practical illustrations of the admonition, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Peter’s words to the Lord, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man,” represented his acknowledgment of the great difference between himself and the Master. He caught the true situation, that he was a sinful, imperfect man, while the one before him, the Master, was perfect and in full accord with the Father, and therefore permitted to be the dispenser of the Father’s mercies.
Peter’s real sentiment was probably the reverse of his expression. He meant, “O Lord, although I am a sinful man, permit me to be near thee, that I may be blessed by contact with thee.” This was the proper attitude of heart and the real prayer, which Jesus answered in making him one of his chosen twelve.
The narrative breaks off suddenly and does not tell us whether it was the same hour or the next day that Peter, Andrew, James and John forsook their fishing business—their boats and nets—that they might be specially the companions of our Lord and ultimately his representatives, his apostles. We may reasonably suppose that the partnerships in this fishing business were family affairs, and that Peter left his boat and implements in the hands of brothers or sons or other partners or associates; and that likewise the sons of Zebedee left their paraphernalia in the hands of their father or others who had previously been interested with them in business. Indeed this thought is fully borne out by the fact that after our Lord’s death, about two years later, these same men proposed returning to the fishing business, and apparently had some interest still in the boats, nets, tackle, etc. It was on the last-mentioned occasion that Jesus again gave a great draft of fishes, and that Simon Peter was the first again to recognize that the power to perform such a miracle could belong to no other than the crucified but risen Lord, whom he then recognized as the one upon the shore.
CALLED TO A HIGHER VOCATION
Our Lord’s words to Peter were, “From henceforth thou shalt catch men.” These words were applicable also to Peter’s associates, and doubtless were applied to them later as an invitation that they should with Peter join the Lord as his disciples or apostles. The account in Mark 1:17 mentions Andrew the brother of Simon Peter, and his partner in business also, and gives the invitation in slightly different language, namely, “Come ye after me and I will make you to become fishers of men.” Probably the Lord made use of both expressions, but in any event they are of similar import.
All of life’s affairs will teach us lessons profitable throughout its future, if we will receive them. Ordinary affairs and business of every kind, in proportion as it is conducted along honest, proper and reasonable lines, will give valuable instruction and preparation for spiritual usefulness in the Lord’s service, if they be properly received and wisely improved. Perhaps, however, there was something peculiarly helpful in the fishing business—something peculiarly like the great work in which the apostles were to engage the remainder of their lives. Our Lord intimates this in his call. Fishing requires energy, tact, proper bait, and that the fisherman keep himself out of sight. And these four things are requisites in the spiritual fishing in which the Lord privileges us to engage. Thus he admonished, “Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” The Apostle Paul,
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speaking along this same line of the wisdom he used in presenting the Gospel tactfully, says, “Being crafty [wise]
I took you with guile”—with bait. The Apostle took advantage of the natural tendencies and inclinations of his hearers to present the Gospel in the most practical form without, however, shunning or refusing to declare one single feature of it. In this his course is a model for us. We are to remember that as fish are easily alarmed when they find that any one wishes to take them, so humanity is shy of being captured by anything—especially if they have the least suspicion that they may lose their liberties: and thus consecration appears to the world.
The apostles were not, as fishers for men, representing men or human institutions. They were not trying to get disciples into some sectarian bondage. They were fishers of men for the Lord and as the Lord’s representatives; as though God did beseech men through them. Their mission was to catch men with the glorious hopes and prospects of the Gospel; to bring them into such relationship with the Lord that they would fully and gladly surrender their all to him. And this is the same course that is properly before the Lord’s representatives to-day. We are to catch men for the Lord and for his service, not for our personal profit or gain,—not for sectarian upbuilding. We are not to give our own liberties to men, nor to seek to take away the liberties of others at the behest of men or sects. The message that goes forth from the true fishers of men whom the Lord commissions is nevertheless a message which implies a loss of liberty and a loss of life to those who are successfully caught. However, the fishing business does not fully illustrate the matter, because all who are of the Lord’s catch must be willingly his, else they will not remain caught, but be cast forth: and their loss of personal liberty and life means a gain of glory, honor and eternal life.
Our Lord used this fishing business as the basis of one of his parables, saying that the Kingdom of heaven is like unto a net cast into the sea which after gathering fish of every kind will be finally brought to shore. That net undoubtedly represented this Gospel age, and a general catch of all classes of people, suitable and unsuitable for the Lord’s purpose as respects the Kingdom. The bringing of the net to the shore properly represents the “harvest” time of this age—the reckoning time, the time when this catch is concluded. The parable proceeds to say that the suitable fish were gathered into baskets and the unsuitable were cast away,—cast back into the sea. So the Gospel call, the Gospel net, the Gospel fishermen of this Gospel age are gathering out of the world of mankind a peculiar class of people suitable to the Lord’s purposes in the Kingdom, and though others may get into it they are not desired and will relapse again to worldly conditions. The fishing of the next age will be different and on a much larger scale.
APOSTLESHIP MORE THAN DISCIPLESHIP
There is a difference between apostleship and discipleship. There are but “twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14), but the number of disciples is considerably larger. The word disciple signifies pupil or learner; and all who are now being called of the Lord, all who are now being caught as acceptable fish under the present arrangement are those who desire to be taught of the Lord and willingly respond to his teachings. Our Golden Text sets forth the conditions upon which we may be disciples, namely, that we not only accept the Lord but that we continue in his word—continue to be taught of him—continue to learn in the school of Christ. Before we enter his school we must learn that we are sinners by nature and that we need just the washing or the cleansing that he prescribes as necessary before we can enter his school or become his disciples. After we accept the word of counsel respecting the need of washing in the precious blood, and after by faith accomplishing this cleansing of sins, and after we have started as pupils, we find that there are various lessons to be learned, all necessary to our progress.
It is the Teacher who is to be the decider of what lessons we need, what experiences, what trials, what difficulties, what encouragements, what assistance are necessary to us. The promise is, that no good thing will he withhold. He will give the warnings, the corrections, the encouragements, the blessings and the promises, according as we need them and are in a condition to make profitable use of them. Not everyone who starts to be a disciple will win the great prize as a graduate from the school of Christ into the Kingdom of glory and joint-heirship with the Master; but he who faithfully and patiently continues in discipleship—continues to learn the lessons which the great Master teaches, until he shall have finished his course, will surely receive his crown at the hands of the Lord.
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THE GOOD PHYSICIAN
—MARK 1:21-34.—FEBRUARY 7.—
Golden Text:—”He laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.”—LUKE 4:40
ALTHOUGH Simon Peter and Andrew were natives of Bethsaida, a few miles north of Capernaum (Jno. 1:44), they had evidently settled down in the latter city, perhaps because larger and more favorable to their business. When Peter, Andrew, James and John accepted the Lord’s invitation to become fishers of men they did not immediately depart from home. Some hours if not some days elapsed between the fishing experience and the narrative of this lesson. The Sabbath was come, and Jesus with the four disciples went into the synagogue where he was recognized and given an opportunity for teaching. In the synagogues of olden times there was great liberty to anyone who had the necessary education and faith in the holy Scriptures, to discuss their messages. In some respects that greater liberty was more favorable to the Truth than the present circumscribed methods of Christendom, in which each party or sect holds absolute control and refuses liberty of discussion of its own tenets as well as of the Scriptures. The Lord’s people should jealously guard Lord’s day opportunities, so that they be not occasions for the overthrow of faith by those who reject the Word of God. At the same time the blessing of the Lord’s day, the purity of Truth and the clearness of the faith would certainly be greatly
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stimulated by a full liberty of discussion of the meaning of the Scriptures in a reverent manner.
In very few Church gatherings of today would our Lord Jesus be granted opportunity to set forth his doctrines. He could not and would not accept authority from any of the denominations of Christendom, because he could not and would not indorse any of their creeds as a whole; hence he would be deprived of any opportunity for promulgating the Truth in this manner in this our enlightened twentieth century. Likewise those who follow his word closely, and who for similar reasons cannot indorse fully any of the creeds of Christendom, are deprived of opportunities for presenting the Truth in the synagogues of today; and are obliged to adopt other methods of reaching the Lord’s sheep with the message of the great King, now due to be understood. However, the Lord has greatly blessed and used these efforts outside the synagogues—especially the printed page, DAWNS, Tracts, WATCH TOWERS, etc.
Our Lord’s teaching impressed his hearers as being reasonable and positive; and this is one of the characteristics of the Truth today. The Lord’s message is so clear and so forceful that it cannot be gainsaid. It appeals to the minds as well as to the hearts of reasonable people now as it did then. On the contrary, the general mixture of error as then held by the Scribes and Pharisees and Doctors of the Law, and as now held by the various denominations of Catholics and Protestants and their Doctors of Divinity, is confusing, indefinite, self-contradictory and generally unsatisfactory.
THE DEVIL A CHURCH GOER
The devil went to Church then as he not infrequently does now, and he was as opposed to having the Truth preached then as he is now. The attendants of the Capernaum synagogue, however, were seemingly of a nobler type than that of Nazareth, which gnashed upon our Lord and sought to take his life. In this case the majority of the people were less under the influence of Satan, although one of their number was more particularly possessed by a demon, here called “an unclean spirit.” We know nothing of our Lord’s discourse, but from the fact that this demon became so excited under the preaching, we may draw the inference that our Lord was explaining to the people the origin of sin and the power of Satan and of the fallen angels in respect to humanity, how all these downward tendencies were more and more injurious to men and should be resisted, how divine fellowship and communion should be sought, and how repentance and reformation and resistance of the evil one were necessary to physical health as well as to a closer approach to our God.
The demon—one of the fallen angels from the time of the flood, mentioned by Jude and by Peter (Jude 6,7; 2 Pet. 2:4)—believed that the Lord’s teachings were condemnatory of himself and his associates in evil, and cried out, using the mouth of the possessed man. Unquestionably the fallen angels, although restrained by chains of darkness from manifesting themselves to humanity until a certain time, have contact with each other and are well aware of procedures in general. As Satan recognized Jesus in the temptation, so all of the fallen angels knew that the Holy One of God had become a man for the purpose of redeeming and reclaiming and restoring humanity from the fallen condition superinduced by Satan’s lying ambition. Apparently, too, these demons had some knowledge of the divine times and seasons, though we need not suppose that they had a particular or definite knowledge, for our Lord declared that at that time neither himself nor the holy angels knew of the day and the hour of his coming in glory and the establishment of his Kingdom. It is not supposable, therefore, that the fallen angels knew more on this subject. However, there is a great difference between not knowing the exact day or hour of a matter and not having any idea whatever respecting it. Apparently this demon recognized that the time was still distant when the power of Satan and all the fallen angels is doomed to be overthrown.
“BE YE CLEAN THAT BEAR THE VESSELS OF THE LORD’S HOUSE”
The testimony of the demon seemed to be reverential, and might by some have been construed to be a testimony in the Lord’s favor. Jesus, however, was not willing to accept such a testimony from such a source, even as the Apostle Paul was similarly unwilling to receive testimony of the possessed woman, who declared of Paul and Silas, “These be the servants of the Most High God, which show unto us the way of life.” (Acts 16:17.) The divine method seems to be to make a clear separation between the servants of God and the servants of evil. The privilege of testifying for God or being ambassadors for the Truth is a favor reserved for the Lord’s own people. He seeketh not the evil one nor the fallen demons nor evil men or women to be heralds of the good tidings. The Lord’s people should note this matter carefully, and resent the services of any who do not give evidences of being in heart-union with the Lord. “Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to take my covenant into thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and casteth my words behind thee.” (Psa. 50:16.) Spiritualists, Trance Mediums, Hypnotists, Christian Scientists, etc., would fain associate themselves more or less with the name of Jesus and seem to be servants of the light; but all children of the light should be on their guard against these, who, however sincere they may sometimes appear, are undoubtedly the tools of the prince of darkness, who would array himself as an angel of light that he might deceive and mislead the children of the light—the children of God.
But some one will say, Did not Jesus surely say, “Greater works than these shall ye do because I go unto my Father,” and are not those words genuine? Yes, we answer, they are genuine, and most precious words; but how have they been fulfilled? Have any of the Lord’s disciples done any greater miracles than Jesus did so far as healing physical ailments are concerned? Assuredly not. We have no record of greater works of this kind than are recorded in the Gospels. Have any of the Lord’s disciples at any time done as great works according to the flesh as Jesus did? Have any of them ever awakened the dead? Surely none except the apostles have done this wonderful work. What then could our Lord have meant by this expression?
“GREATER WORKS THAN THESE SHALL YE DO”
We answer that in our last lesson we saw that Jesus in his ministry dealt only with the natural man, and could not communicate to natural man respecting spiritual or
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heavenly things except in parables and dark sayings, which could be but imperfectly comprehended until after Pentecost gave the enlightenment of the holy Spirit. To our understanding, therefore, the greater works that have been done by the Lord’s followers since the ascension have been such works as related to the hearts of men rather than to their bodies. The whole creation is groaning and travailing in physical discomfort, but the worst of all groans and pains comes from the anguish of the soul—broken hearts.
The Lord’s followers, even the humblest of them, in proportion as they receive of his Spirit, may communicate it through his word and bring to wounded and broken hearts peace and joy and blessing, regardless of physical conditions of discomfort, so that as the Apostle explains they may rejoice even in tribulation, knowing what the tribulations are working out for them in the way of greater glory and blessing and association with the Lord in his Kingdom. (Rom. 5:3.) Would not he who has had the eyes of his understanding opened, that he might see with clearness the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God, esteem this blessing as of much greater value and importance than simply the restoring of natural sight? Who that has tasted that the Lord is gracious has not participated in a greater miracle than did those who tasted of the loaves and fishes which our Lord so miraculously increased that they fed the five thousand? It is true indeed, then, that the Lord has made it possible for his humbler servants in the humbler walks of life and with few natural abilities, but possessing his Spirit and his Word, to do mighty works
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even today—”Mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” of error and of sin.
THE NECESSITY FOR MIRACLES IS PAST
There was a reason why miracles were necessary at the beginning of this Gospel dispensation. Had our Lord Jesus performed none of the miracles recorded in the Scriptures how could we today feel the confidence, the assurance, that we do feel respecting him? Had he gone about as a preacher of righteousness and expounder of the divine Word merely, and had he then died just as he did die, would the proof have been as sufficient as it now is that he was indeed the Son of God and that his death was indeed the sacrifice of a perfect one for the imperfect one and his progeny? Would our Lord in preaching to the Jews have accomplished any work without the use of miracles? Were they not necessary to him as a demonstration of his right to take the place of Moses as the antitypical leader of the Israelites indeed? Assuredly this is true. But we have no necessity for such manifestations of miraculous power today. On the contrary, we behold Christianity already too popular with the world. As it is, too many tares are pretending to be wheat. The conditions, therefore, seem to be the very reverse of those which at the first advent demanded miracles for the establishing of the Church on a proper faith basis.
“WHO HEALETH ALL THY DISEASES”
But some one will urge, Does it not seem more reasonable that the Lord’s people should go to him in prayer or go to the elders for healing by miraculous power, than that they should use drugs or medicines or surgery? Yes, we reply; it is very natural. That is just what the natural mind would expect and crave, but the Lord is not dealing with his people of today as with natural men. We are not natural Israelites, but spiritual Israelites. It is to the New Creature that the Lord now appeals; it is the New Creature that now has the privilege of experiencing healing at the Lord’s hands, forgiveness of sins, covering with the robe of Christ’s righteousness, so that we have the standing before the Father of absolute righteousness, without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing; we know no man after the flesh, we know no perfection after the flesh, but we do know the perfection and miracles after the spirit; and many a time have the Lord’s people marveled at the wonderful healing of mind and faith and hope, and the wonderful refreshments, with joy unspeakable,—the holy anointing oil received from our spiritual and glorified Head.
“WE ARE TO WALK BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT”
Not only is this the clear statement of the Word, but the logic of the proposition must be evident to any one. As for the Lord’s saints, have they not taken their physical, human, earthly rights and privileges, secured through the death of Christ, and exchanged these with the Lord for heavenly things, the heavenly body that is to be received at the First Resurrection, the heavenly hopes and heavenly joys which are already the first-fruits of the Spirit in us? Yea, verily, they have. Have they not sacrificed thus the earthly interests, hopes, rights, privileges, for the heavenly ones? How then can we who have thus devoted or consecrated our earthly advantages for the heavenly ones ask to have again the earthly advantages? Would not such a prayer, such a request intelligently made, signify a withdrawal of our consecration—signify our preference for the earthly rather than the heavenly gifts, privileges and advantages? And would we as spiritual Israelites be willing to make such an exchange again if the Lord were willing to let us do so? Surely not. Would one who appreciates the privilege of sacrificing earthly interests with Christ, of laying down the earthly life and its privileges in participation with the Lord and in hope of joint-heirship with him in the divine nature and Kingdom, wish for a moment to have the Lord cancel this arrangement and give him back earthly rights, restitution privileges?
As for the world we grant that the Lord has secured for them restitution privileges and blessings, and that in due time they will have them—that in due time Satan will be bound and all of his coadjutors be restrained, and that then the good Physician, with his whole staff of co-laborers, the members of his body, his Bride, will participate in the great uplifting of the millennial age, in administering the blessings of restitutions, mental, moral and physical, to all the willing and obedient of that glorious time. (Acts 3:19-23.) But the time of restitution has not yet come. It will not come until the close of this Gospel age—until the Church shall have finished her course, walking by faith and not by sight, enjoying the spiritual miracles and not the natural ones.
The demon came out of the man, tearing him—that is to say, causing a convulsion, a fit. Luke, describing the event, says that he threw the man in the midst—that is, he fell on the floor of the synagogue in the midst of the people in a fit, but was otherwise unhurt, the demon not having power to do him injury, under the Lord’s command. The assembled company was astonished, and
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inquired, What new teaching is this which has authority to cast out the evil demons? Our Lord’s enemies, it will be remembered, subsequently charged him with casting out demons by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, Satan; hence we see the wisdom of his having refused to receive testimony from this demon. To have received their testimony would have been more or less acknowledging them and giving them credit for truthfulness; whereas the Scriptures everywhere represent Satan and his fallen spirits as lying spirits, deceiving the people.
Undoubtedly there are cases of demon possession today—obsession. The custom of our day removes these to asylums, where they are called insane. It is not our thought that all the inmates of insane asylums are possessed of demons; but that many of them are. So far as we are able to form a conclusion on the subject, it would be that probably more than half are demon possessed, and less than one half are insane through disease of the brain. In all parts of the world this demon possession seems to prevail, and the tendency seems always to be downward—they are unclean spirits, delighting not in holy, pure and good things, but in impurity and unholiness. Their influence is exerted not only upon the possessed ones but upon others, in an evil direction.
WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF SATAN’S DEVICES
Even spirit mediums are well aware of the danger they encounter in acting as mediums at all. They caution one another not to yield the will too far, to maintain a self control to a certain extent, to yield themselves to the control of these spirits only in a definitely limited degree lest they become obsessed, because the evil spirit obtaining full control, the human will is therefore powerless to expel the intruder and they are at the mercy of the demon, and from man’s standpoint are denominated crazy—more particularly so if several demons gain possession of the same person and thus several wills seek to control the one organization. In proportion as a knowledge of God and the principles of righteousness advance and open the eyes of human understanding, in this same proportion the evil spirits find it necessary to be coy in their deceptions, and proportionately the Lord’s people need the protection which the Lord has provided for them, namely, the holy Spirit, the spirit of a sound mind, the spirit of love, joy and peace in the holy Spirit of the Lord.
Apparently, however, the masses of the people were less deceived on this subject at that time than they are today. Today Satan, acting more skilfully than in the past, is leading on as a scientist and is pooh-poohing suggestions that there are evil spirits or a Beelzebub or prince of demons. To such an extent has he prevailed that many of the leading theologians of the world, in all denominations of Christendom, agree that there is no devil, that there are no demons and that our Lord performed no such miracles as are here recited. They claim that the poor ignorant people of our Lord’s day did not understand what they were talking about, and said that a man had a devil when he merely had a nervous disease, a fit, etc. Christian Science is one of Satan’s latest fads, which, under the guise of morality, is seeking to destroy both common sense and Christianity amongst the Lord’s people. It is one of Satan’s latest devices, disproving himself and thus turning attention away from the powerful influence which he exercises in the world. “We are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Cor. 2:11.) “We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, and wicked spirits in high places.” (Eph. 6:12.) “But greater is he that is for us, than all they that be against us.” (2 Kings 6:16.) The revised version translation of the 28th verse is preferable. It reads, “And the report of him went out straightway everywhere in all that region of Galilee round about.” This fame of Jesus subsequently aided greatly in his ministry, when he went to all the towns and villages throughout Galilee.
ST. PETER’S MOTHER-IN-LAW CURED
After the synagogue incident our Lord went to the home of Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John accompanying him. Peter’s mother-in-law lay sick of a fever, and one of the evangelists intimates that it was a violent form of fever. For the first time it seems to have occurred to the disciples that the Lord’s power, which they had seen manifested on various occasions, might be exercised on behalf of this sick woman. Now, their faith grown stronger, they mentioned her case to Jesus and he took her by the hand and lifted her up. Immediately the fever left her. Not only so, but instead of being weak and enervated, as is usually the case after a severe
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fever, she was strong and vigorous and able to serve the family, probably in the setting forth of refreshments and other household matters. This demonstrates that her cure could have been nothing short of miraculous. The operation of the mind, even if it could in any measure have destroyed the fever condition, could not have made good the waste of strength in the system accomplished by the fever.
Sunset saw the gathering of numbers of the sick and demon-possessed ones. This was probably for two reasons: (1) that it would be during the cooler time of the day in which the diseased could come in a warm country such as Palestine; (2) it was the Sabbath day, and the Jews, however irreligious and even devilish some of them were, were all strict Sabbatarians. We remember how on another occasion the Pharisees found fault with Jesus because he had healed a man on the Sabbath day, and how our Lord exposed their hypocrisy in the matter by showing that if it had been an ox or an ass that had fallen into a ditch, and where there might be a monetary loss if the creature were not assisted, their reasoning would be more correct. Our Lord, however, seems to have preferred the Sabbath days for his healing work: at all events some of his most notable miracles were done on the Sabbath days. His reason for so doing was not, we believe, to exasperate the Pharisees and Scribes or merely to show the hypocrisy of their formalism, but because the Sabbath days served a special purpose as an illustration of the great Sabbath that is to come, the Millennium, in which all the families of the earth shall be blessed by this good Physician, who has already given his life for the redemption of the life of the world, and who during the millennial age (his Bride, the Church, cooperating) will bless and heal all the willing and obedient of the human family—lifting them up, up, up out of Adamic sin and death conditions to the perfection of life lost in Eden through the disobedience of the first Adam.
SATANIC POWER CAN AND DOES NOW CURE
Many of the Lord’s consecrated people of today,
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noting the cure of diseases by spirit mediums, mind curists, hypnotists, Christian Scientists, Mormons, etc., are inclined to think of these cures of our day in much the same light as we think of our Lord’s cures recorded in this lesson and its Golden text. This is a natural tendency—it is natural for us to seek to walk by sight and not by faith. Some of these dear friends inquire of us, Is not our Lord Jesus as able to heal the sickness of our bodies today as he was able to heal the sickness of the Jews at Capernaum? We answer, Yes, unquestionably. More than this, we hold that our Lord has more power today than he had then.
It was after our Lord had finished his sacrifice, after he had risen from the dead, a life-giving spirit, that he declared to the disciples, “All power is given me in heaven and in earth.” We have not a question, therefore, respecting the ability of our Lord to perform today and through his people of today any miracles that he performed at the first advent in person. We are asked, If this be so, should we not expect such healings? Did not our Lord say, “These signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils and heal the sick, and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not harm them, etc.”? (Mark 16:18.) We answer, that these words are spurious,—that they are not found in any of the old manuscripts, that all scholars admit that they are forgeries, and that no part of the 16th chapter of Mark, after the 8th verse, is genuine.
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THE PILGRIM’S WANTS
I want that adorning divine,
Thou only, my God, canst bestow;
I want in those beautiful garments to shine,
Which distinguish thy household below.
I want—Oh! I want to attain
Some likeness, my Saviour, to Thee,
That this longed for resemblance I at once may attain,
Thy comliness put upon me!
I want to be marked for Thine own,
Thy seal on my forehead to wear;
To receive that “new name” on the mystic white stone
Which none but thyself can declare.
I want so in Thee to abide
As to bring forth some fruit to Thy praise.
The branch which thou prunest, though feeble and dried,
May languish, but never decays.
I want Thine own hand to unbind
Each tie to terrestrial things—
Too tenderly cherished, too closely entwined,
Where my heart too tenaciously clings.
I want, by my aspect serene,
My actions and words, to declare
That my treasure is safe in a country unseen—
That my heart’s best affections are there.
I want, as a traveller, to haste
Straight onward, nor pause on my way;
Nor forethought, nor anxious contrivance to waste
On the tent only pitched for a day.
I want—and this sums up my prayer—
To glorify Thee till I die;
Then calmly to yield up my soul to thy care,
And breathe out, in faith, my last sigh!—Selected
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NEW ARRANGEMENTS FOR PITTSBURGH GAZETTE
MANY of our readers have been anxious to procure the Pittsburgh Gazette on account of its containing Pastor C. T. Russell’s Sunday discourses in each Monday’s issue. About 1000 of our readers have accepted the arrangement for a clubbing rate, which would make the Gazette cost them for the year $2.25. Many of these desire extra copies of the Monday issue only, but the Gazette people refuse to supply the papers by mail in this way. We have arranged with them, however, that those who wish may subscribe for three months for 60c. or for six months for $1.15. These prices they would not accept direct from the subscribers, but will accept from us on the clubbing principle. Some may desire to subscribe for the shorter periods, and if so we will be pleased to hear from them at once.
In the interest of the friends who desire to circulate numbers of these Monday papers amongst their neighbors, and who believe that matter thus printed is more likely to be read than if conveyed in some other form, we have made an arrangement with the Gazette and a news agent by which ANY ONE WHO IS A SUBSCRIBER FOR THE Gazette (either for three months, six months or a year) shall have the privilege of ordering extra Monday copies of the discourse sheet through us at the following rates, viz.:
Seven copies every Monday for 10 weeks, by mail, $1.00
Fifteen copies every week for 10 weeks, by mail,. 2.00
Fifty copies every week for 10 weeks, by express, prepaid………. 5.00
In sending orders for extra Monday issues, the writer must state explicitly that he is a regular Gazette subscriber, or must include an order for a regular subscription.
We are bound to consult the wishes of the Gazette publishers, because only upon condition of their securing a good list of regular subscribers do they propose to continue the publication of these discourses. The arrangement, however, is, that in the event of their discontinuing a proportionate amount of the subscription money will be returned.
By this new arrangement one regular subscriber can act as agent for the others of the friends in his vicinity, and thus all who desire may be supplied for their own reading, as well as have such supply as they desire for giving or loaning to their friends and neighbors. We believe that good is being accomplished in this manner, and trust for a still larger fruitage. Some of the friends have interested newspapers in their vicinity, and thus secured a re-publication of the discourses. The daily circulation of the Gazette is about 70,000, amongst the most intelligent and religiously inclined people of this city and Pittsburgh.
We are not at liberty to order for the Monday issues under this arrangement for less than ten weeks to any one person.
We have still special issues of the Gazette containing reports of the entire six debates. These can be supplied at 2c. each, postpaid, or 50 or more at 1c. each by express prepaid.