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VOL. XXV. FEBRUARY 15, 1904. No. 4.
Views From the Watch Tower…………………… 51
Selfishness Rules Both Sides……………… 51
What U.S. Commissioner of Labor
“Find a Hell and Preach It”……………… 52
Can the Ethiopian Change his Skin?………… 52
New Law Pleases Catholics………………… 53
“Behold the Goodness and Severity
of God!”……………………………… 53
“He Maketh the Storm a Calm”………………… 58
Bargains that Were Costly…………………… 60
Sunday Discourses in Gazette………………… 50
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
SELFISHNESS RULES BOTH SIDES
WE hear much about the selfishness and tyranny of capital, and how it at times is unjust, unless restrained by law. We even hear claims made that the laws favor the rich. We could expect nothing else under the present course of this world, under the law of selfishness. We have often wondered that our laws are so just, so equitable toward all classes as they are.
But while longing for the reign of love, let us not look for it in any other than the one direction: let us not look to man, but to God, and wait and pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Some are inclined to look for the reign of equity and love under Socialism. They are sadly deceived. The poor, if they had the power, would be no more equitable than the rich, no more generous, no more loving or gentle. As an illustration, take the following account of the operation of Socialism in Australia, where it has achieved great influence, but is not yet in absolute control of the government, courts, etc. Judged by its fruits there, it would be a long time in bringing “peace on earth, good will to men.” We quote:—
The Philadelphia Public Ledger publishes some correspondence from Sydney that throws additional light on the Australian labor situation, as reviewed the other day in the editorial columns of The Journal. The article says that New South Wales appears destined to lose much of its shipping trade because of the exactions of labor unions. A case in point is cited.
The American ship Andromeda arrived at Fort Jackson loaded with lumber. The vessel had a union crew and proceeded to discharge its cargo, when the captain was informed he must employ only members of the Sydney Wharf Laborers’ union, and that his donkey engine must also be run by members of the Sydney Donkey Enginemen’s union. The captain, finding it impossible to unload otherwise, finally consented to employing the Sydney laborers, although his own sailors were union men and were being paid to do the work. However, he refused to employ the Sydney donkeymen, and the result was that he was taken into court and fined in all $350, the money to go to the members of the Sydney Wharf Laborers’ union.
WHAT THE U.S. COMMISSIONER OF LABOR THINKS
Speaking recently before the Society of Ethical Culture, Col. Carroll D. Wright said:—
“The wages system will pass away. In its stead, I believe, there will come a system which will be composed of the profit-sharing and the co-operation ideas. The great labor question means the struggle of humanity for a higher standard of life. The employer must consider
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his employe, as well as the stockholder, as an investor.”
Of scarcely less interest than his prediction of a new labor system was Col. Wright’s approval of a plan to insure labor against incapacity resulting from accident, illness or advancing age. The German idea was quoted, under which the employer pays one-fourth the cost of a sick and death benefit policy, the employe one-fourth and the government one-half. “England,” said Col. Wright, “has taken up this question, and we of the United States are steadily approaching it.”
Continuing, Col. Wright said: “Capital charges to the consumer the depreciation of property and machinery. Why should not the depreciation of labor’s machinery, its hands, its brains, its body, be included in the final cost? We see in every progressive community that the demand of the workingman is no longer for a wage sufficient to enable him to keep body and soul together.
“Labor has been taught to feel that it is a social as well as an economic power in the community, and this educating process has gone on until the demand of labor is for a reasonable margin beyond that fixed by the iron law of wages.
“The wages system will pass away. It has, as has been shown, unsatisfactory conditions in many of its applications. It depends too largely for its equities upon the generosity and greatmindedness of employers. That there are many such who would scorn to influence the votes or actions of their employes and who would be incapable of taking petty advantage of their workmen is happily true. That there are others that will make use of these opportunities proves the weakness of the system and argues for a greater measure of independence for those who labor.
“The system that will take the place of that under which mere wages are paid probably will be composed of the profit-sharing and co-operation plans. The work
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people will then acquire the interest of investors, the more capable will rise to their opportunities and the less worthy will find their level.”
* * *
The Commissioner is a fore-seer. He reasons out from observation what God’s people know from the Scriptures. We see, however, what Col. Wright does not see, viz.: that the change of program is not coming about peacefully, but by a great time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, which will introduce the Golden Rule of Immanuel’s Kingdom.
FIND A HELL AND PREACH IT
We clip the following from a daily:—
“We must find a hell and preach it,” declared Rev. Dr. Burt, of Nottingham, presiding at the monthly meeting of Methodist ministers at the Y.M.C.A. building Monday morning.
“I was never reminded of this so strongly as this morning,” he said, “when I read of the devilishness of a man who could calmly write to a friend of his intentions, then go home, greet his wife lovingly, rise up in the night, murder her, murder his three children, lie down beside his wife’s body and kill himself.
“Such a man ought to be damned; he must be damned. If such a murderer’s punishment is not swift and awful there is no just God. It would be a good text for all of us—to preach of this terrible crime and the justice of God.”
Dr. Burt’s remarks came in a discussion of a paper on revivals, read by Rev. Dr. Warner and discussed by Revs. Mitchell, Moore, Cory and others. The paper regretted the tendency to preach less of an actual hell than of subjects more pleasing to the congregations. Dr. Warner believed churchgoers thought more of good worldly appearance than of salvation and said many a church was dying for need of a spiritual revival.
* * *
Poor blind guide! The abundance of his ignorance betrayeth him. He wants a man damned and tortured who already is suffering from the damnation, curse or sentence pronounced upon father Adam! Does this “Doctor” of Divinity not know what ails our poor race? Does he not know that “By one man’s disobedience sin entered into the world and death as a result of sin,—and thus death has passed upon all men”? Does he not know that this murderer’s ailment is that he was mentally, morally and physically more than nine-tenths dead when he committed the crime,—else he would not have committed it?
What the man needed was a release from the curse he was under. He needed to have the Good Physician take him in charge mentally, physically and morally. He needed the very thorough, drastic treatment which the Lord tells us he proposes to give during the Millennium to all of our race who do not in the present age hear his voice and voluntarily enter his school.
Had this Doctor of Divinity and others done their duty, this poor man might have been released from some measure of his malady. They should have informed him respecting the teachings of God’s Word. Those who look to them for bread should not be given stones! The unscriptural traditions of the dark ages respecting eternal torment are no longer believed by the people any more than by the clergy. Consequently, those lacking in moral stamina or in intellectual balance no longer have anything to restrain them. Such conclude that—as “orthodoxy” includes them when computing the Christians of the world, and teaches that all Christians are bound for bliss the next moment after death—they will exercise faith in God and go sooner than some of their neighbors.
Who is to blame for these misconceptions? We answer, The Doctors of Divinity, who promulgate such false teachings. How differently this poor man would have felt on the subject of death had he been Scripturally taught, that death is the extinction of life, that life itself is most precious, and that in proportion as it is wisely used in harmony with the divine regulations; that an eternity of life and joy unspeakable has been made possible for all through the great sacrifice at Calvary; that it is attainable only through the acceptance of the Savior and obedience to his instructions. Who can say that the truth, thus presented to this weak mind might not have sobered it and steadied it; or, as the Apostle expresses the matter, it might have given this man the spirit of a sound mind.
This poor murderer and suicide was merely deliriously intoxicated with false doctrine, and we have no suspicion that the Great Judge will feel toward him as Dr. Burt expressed himself. The case is analogous to that of the saloon-keeper who kicked out the poor drunkard after he had taken his money for the vile stuff that robbed him of his senses. In our opinion the Great Judge will most severely arraign those who for the sake of money and popularity have dealt out the intoxicating errors. (Rev. 18:3.) He will have greater compassion upon their dupes, we are sure. “Ye know not what spirit ye are of: the Son of Man came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (Luke 9:55,56.) Thank God for the coming Kingdom and its righteous judgments and assistances to all who are now blinded by the god of this world. (2 Cor. 4:4.) “Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth, even as it is done in heaven.”
“CAN THE ETHIOPIAN CHANGE HIS SKIN?”
We answer, No. But all will admit that what the Ethiopian cannot do for himself God could readily do for him. The difference between the races of men and the differences between their languages have long been arguments against the solidarity of the human family. The doctrine of restitution has also raised the question, How could all men be brought to perfection and which color of skin was the original? The answer is now provided.
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God can change the Ethiopian’s skin in his own due time.
Prof. H. A. Edwards, Supt. of Schools in Slater, Mo., has written for the public press an elaborate description of how Julius Jackson, of New Frankfort, Mo., a negro boy of nine years, began to grow white in September, 1901, and is now fully nine-tenths white. He assures us that this is no whitish skin disease; but that the new white skin is as healthy as that of any white boy, and that the changed boy has never been sick and never has taken medicines. Realizing that his story would be doubted, he interested Dr. F. A. Howard, chief division surgeon of the Chicago and Alton Ry., who corroborates the statement in the following published extract from a letter:
“I am obliged to you for an opportunity of seeing and examining the negro child, Julius Jackson.
“I found his heart action, respiration and temperature perfectly normal and his mental faculties seem acute for one of his age.
“The white skin now covering at least 90 per cent. of his body is, so far as I am able to judge, in full possession of all its organs and those organs seem to be performing their natural functions—no roughness, chalky, or ashen appearance is present.
“It seems to me that the conditions warrant your opinion—the change is certainly caused by chemical conditions of the blood. Very truly,
“F. A. HOWARD.”
NEW ENGLISH LAW PLEASES CATHOLICS
The common schools of England are under religious control, and henceforth the dominant sect in each district will largely have control. Referring to this an exchange notes the following:—
“The Pope received an English pilgrimage, which, with the British residents of Rome, including the Duchess of Newcastle, numbered over three hundred persons.
“They were introduced by the Most Rev. Francis Bourne, archbishop of Westminster, and presented an offering of “Peter’s Pence,” besides an address containing
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the following passage:
“‘Next year a great measure in support of the freedom of religious teaching in education comes into force in England, Catholic children and teachers being gradually put on an equality with the most favored children and teachers of the nation. Your Holiness will welcome for us such a great act of justice, since it shows that among the English the last shadow of bigotry is dying out.’
“The Pope thanked and encouraged the pilgrims for their faith and loyalty to Rome and imparted the apostolic benediction.”
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“BEHOLD THE GOODNESS AND SEVERITY OF GOD”
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. Be not deceived.”—1 Cor. 6:9,10.
GOD’S SEVERITY consists in his insistence upon absolute righteousness—his refusal to approve sin in any sense or degree. The very first statement of the divine law is that death, destruction, must be the wage or penalty for transgression against his righteous regulations. For six thousand years the Lord has maintained this original position—has refused to sanction sin or permit sinners to live. Such an unchangeable attitude at first seems severe, especially when we consider that we were born in sin and shapen in iniquity, infested by weaknesses and surrounded by evil influences. It seems severe on God’s part to insist upon perfection, when all of our experiences teach us that it is impossible for fallen humanity to attain absolute righteousness in word and deed and thought. Indeed the Scriptures confirm our experiences, declaring, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”—Rom. 3:10.
The goodness of God is not seen in the severity, but, wholly separated, it stands side by side with it. God’s goodness, his generosity, his mercy, kindness, love, which are not manifested in the sentence and in the execution of its penalties, are manifested in the great gift of his love—the Lord Jesus and the Redeemer provided in him—a redemption coextensive with the fall and with the condemnation. The Apostle expresses the matter pointedly in the words, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (I John 4:9.) God’s love was not previously manifested; for over four thousand years only the severity, the justice of the divine character was manifested, though a hint was given to Abraham and subsequently through the prophets, that God had kind sentiments toward the fallen and tainted race, which in due time would bring blessings to all the families of the earth.
THE GOSPEL AGE A PARENTHESIS
The period between the first advent of our Lord and his second advent is in some respects a parenthesis in the divine plan, during which the Church is specially dealt with, as we shall see later. The redemption of the world and its reconciliation with God, based upon divine goodness expressed in the death of the Redeemer, wait for its further expression to the world until the end of the Gospel age and the opening of the Millennial age—”the world to come.” When the morning of that new day shall dawn, the goodness of God will be seen more distinctly than ever by mankind. Indeed it may be said that the world as yet has seen nothing of the goodness of God; it has merely seen his severity, his justice, executed against the entire human family for the last six thousand years. A comparatively small proportion of humanity has ever heard of the grace of God in Christ, the “only name under heaven given among
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men, whereby we must be saved.” And even those who have heard to some extent have been measurably deceived by the great Adversary in respect to the nature of the penalty for sin and the fullness and wideness of the mercy extended to men in the person of the Redeemer.
In that new dispensation the facts will all be made clear. The blessings then coming to the world—peace, righteous government, helpful influences, the restraint of evil, the knowledge of the Lord and understanding of his gracious arrangements and purposes—these will all be most convincing proofs to mankind of God’s sympathy and mercy in Christ. The Adversary who now deceives mankind will then be bound, that he should not deceive the nations any more until the thousand years be finished, and the Word of God, which is in general now a sealed book to the world, will then be opened, and as a result the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep.
Nevertheless, we are not to understand that this triumph of God’s mercy and goodness then displayed will in any wise imply a change of his character or of his attitude towards sin. God never changes; “He is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8.) When we come to understand the matter thoroughly, this unchangeableness on God’s part is a guarantee that the blessings to be bestowed under his arrangements will be everlasting, unending blessings.
The goodness and severity of God will be displayed side by side throughout the Millennial age to every creature. All must learn the lesson that God is kind, generous and full of blessing to all those who are in harmony with him and his principles of righteousness, but that he is and always will be like a consuming fire to all who are not in accord with righteousness.
REDEMPTION ONLY THE FIRST STEP TOWARD SALVATION
The redemption of the world by the sacrifice of our Lord merely entitled humanity to a reawakening from the sleep of death, to be granted an opportunity of full reconciliation to the Father. Not a reconciliation in sin, however, but a reconciliation in righteousness. It is manifest that no change takes place in the character of any during the sleep of death: the awakening must be to the same conditions of heart and mind that went down into death. The awakened ones will, therefore, find themselves at first in the same attitude of rebellion against God and the principles of righteousness that they were in when they went into death. But there will be this difference—that when awakened under the Kingdom conditions they will find their surroundings totally different from those of the present life: themselves the same, all things surrounding them will be changed. The powers of evil to tempt their fallen tendencies will be absent; temptations to selfishness, covetousness, etc., seen in the dominion of the prince of this world, shall find no part in the dominion of the prince of light, in the world to come—in the new dispensation. Indeed the awakened ones will find love and righteousness and kindness the laws in general force throughout the world.
And if their fallen tendencies shall still grasp after the selfish things as before, they will steadily learn the lesson that under the changed arrangements selfishness will not be advantageous to them but disadvantageous, bringing to them shame and contempt. Gradually they will learn the rules of the Kingdom, the laws of righteousness based upon justice and love. Gradually they may come into accord with these if they learn the lessons of experience during that golden age under the great Teacher, the Christ, Head and body, and under the immediate supervision of the earthly ones appointed to be their instructors and helpers in the good way and their correctors in respect to their fall. Instead of the rule which now prevails in the Church, namely, that “whosoever will live godly will suffer persecution,” etc., they will find, instead, that whoever will live godly shall prosper and have increasing evidences of divine favor. In that day the ungodly shall suffer “stripes,” “corrections in righteousness,” “judgments,” a prompt and just recompense of reward for every good and every evil deed.
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THE FATHER HATH COMMITTED ALL JUDGMENT TO THE SON
The world then will be entirely in the hands of Christ, in whom the Father has centered all his mercy and all his provisions of grace. Only those who will then come into accord with the Son, the glorified Christ, and continue in accord with the laws of the Millennial Kingdom—and none others—will be prepared by the close of the Millennial age to be delivered over directly to the Heavenly Father and the operations of his absolute law of justice without mercy. This is the period spoken of by the Apostle in I Cor. 15:24-28, when Immanuel shall have put down all sin, all unrighteousness, all insubordination to God; when he shall have raised up as many of the redeemed human family as would hear his voice, as would obey him—raised them up, up, up, to the very top notch of human perfection—to all that was lost in Adam, with, additionally, the large stores of knowledge gained through the fall, the redemption and the uplifting processes.
Nor need we fear the fact that the world will then be turned over to the Father’s judgment and law of justice without mercy, because having reached perfection
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they will need no mercy. God’s laws are not impossible to the perfect, but only to the imperfect, and by that time all the imperfections of all the willing and obedient will have been removed—all the blights and marks of sin in mind and in body will have been “blotted out.”—Acts 3:19.
The angels who kept their first estate in obedience and perfection needed not an exercise of clemency toward them, needed no mercy, because they were not transgressors of the divine law. The law of the Lord is just and perfect and good, and every way desirable to and for those who are perfect. The difficulty of mankind under that perfect law, and their need for a Mediator and for clemency, all rest on the fact that as an entire race we are sold under sin through disobedience, and that we are all imperfect and prone to sin because of imperfection.
Thus seen God’s law and exhortation to mankind in due time will be, “He that doeth righteousness is righteous; he who committeth sin is of the devil,” the Adversary, and opposed to the divine being by being opposed to the divine regulations and arrangements of righteousness. God’s attitude toward all wilful sinners during the Millennial age and at its close will be in full accord with the same severity which has always marked his attitude toward sin—a destructive severity—not a torturing severity, delighting in the anguish of the victim, but a just severity which has decreed, and will never alter the decree, that only those who love righteousness and hate iniquity shall have everlasting life on any plane.
THE OPERATION OF GOD’S GOODNESS AND SEVERITY TOWARD THE CHURCH DURING THIS GOSPEL AGE
Having traced the operation of God’s plan toward the world, as he instructs us it will be carried out during the Millennial age, we now return to the still more important matter respecting the operation of God’s goodness and severity toward ourselves—toward the Church during the present time. Why the Lord should make a difference between his dealings with the Church in this Gospel age and the world during the Millennial age can only be appreciated by those who accept the Scriptural declaration that during the present time God is making special selection of a special class, possessed of special characteristics and for a special service both now and hereafter. It is because of all these special features that the Church has a different experience from that which the world will have by and by.
All will agree that the reasonable, fair test that could justly be applied to mankind is the one which will be applied during the Millennial age to all the human family—a test under fair conditions, as favorable to righteousness as to sin, and more so, a test as to loyalty to principles of righteousness. But in the present time God makes a test which might be considered a severer one than would be fair, and hence this testing is not a general or world-wide test, but is confined to a limited number, who are assured in the Scriptures that in being granted this extra severe testing God is showing them a great favor. The favor belongs mainly to the future, and hence, as the Lord and the apostles everywhere pointed out, the inspiring incentive presented to this favored and specially called class is a hope, a future hope of glory, honor and immortality, joint-heirship with our Lord in the Kingdom privileges and blessings of the Millennial age and subsequently to all eternity.
“THINK IT NOT STRANGE CONCERNING THE FIERY TRIALS WHICH SHALL TRY YOU”
To this class are given fiery trials, temptations, etc., more than justice, equity, would call for. It is required of this class in its call that they not only love righteousness and hate iniquity, but that they shall do so at the cost of the sacrifice not only of the pleasures of sin but also at the cost of many reasonable pleasures, comforts, joys, etc., which are not of themselves unrighteous. This class are called to be sacrificers, and are distinctly told that if they would come up to the requirements of their call they must be prepared not only to resist sin and weaknesses of their own flesh and temptations from others, but additionally to suffer for their well-doing, to suffer for godliness, for righteousness—to be evil-spoken of falsely for the Lord’s cause’ sake. They are even informed that unless they suffer chastisements, trials, persecutions, oppositions of some kind in the present time, they lack the evidences of adoption into God’s family as new creatures: “For what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? If ye be without chastisement then are ye bastards and not sons”—not new creatures. Heb. 12:8.
It is with this class that our text especially deals; for while the whole world is blind to the precious things of the Word of God, nevertheless, when the new dispensation shall have been fully ushered in and the Sun of righteousness shall have shed forth his beams and scattered all the night of darkness, evidently the Lord’s Word, which is now our lamp, will not be the only instructor and guide of the world—having been supplanted by the full light. That which is perfect having come, that which is in part will be esteemed only as a precious friend, whose testimony will be in full accord with all the gracious manifestations of divine love, wisdom and power then resulting.
The Apostle is addressing the Church when he speaks of the goodness and severity of God, and it is highly important that we apply his words correctly. The Church has perceived the severity of divine justice, and has also been granted the opening of the eyes
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of understanding to discern the Goodness of God in the provision of the Savior and the blessings which flow to us through him. The Church has tasted of the good Word of God and been made partaker of his holy Spirit, has come to some knowledge of the powers of the age to come and the blessings then to be actually conferred. Now she rejoices in all these things by faith—faith in God, faith in Christ, faith in the grand outcome as delineated in the Scriptures. The words of our text are specially applicable to this very class in this very time, as we have just seen. They will also be applicable to the world in its trial-time in the coming age.
Now, the Lord speaks to the New Creation, saying, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived.” At first we are inclined to stand amazed and say, God has made no provision for our attaining actual perfection, all the provisions for such restitution belonging to the next age! How then can he require righteousness of us, who still have the blemished bodies, imperfect judgments, etc., resulting from the fall? After telling us that there is none righteous, no, not one, how shall we understand the declaration that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God—not be joint-heirs with Christ in the Kingdom—not inherit the glorious things which we have hoped for by the Lord’s grace? The answer is that God has made special provision for the Church of this Gospel age. Instead of making us perfect in the flesh, and then requiring absolute perfection in word, deed and thought, as will be required of the world at the close of the next age, the Lord deals with us in an imputed manner. To those who exercise the requisite faith he imputes righteousness, which offsets the unrighteousness or natural blemishes of their flesh. But only to those who exercise the faith is there such an imputation of Christ’s righteousness; those who cannot exercise the faith are still in their sins, aliens from God until the coming of the new dispensation, when the blotting out of sins will begin in an actual way. But to those who do believe and to whom the righteousness of Christ is imputed because of faith, there is still a testing of the heart.
It would be useless for the Lord to offer the prize of joint-heirship in the Kingdom to anyone perfect in the flesh when there are none such—our Lord Jesus being the only one, and he because he was not of the Adamic stock. God’s provision, therefore, is that the justified by faith shall be counted perfect, counted righteous so long as their hearts, their wills, their best endeavors, are for righteousness. How simple and yet how sublime this arrangement, how it adapts itself to all the circumstances and conditions of the Lord’s people! It is respecting this justification by faith, this “righteousness of God by faith,” that the Apostle, says, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”—being justified freely from all things.—Rom. 5:1.
SEE THAT YE RECEIVE NOT THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN
There is danger, however, here: some are disposed to take advantage of God’s grace and kindness and mercy, and while willingly, knowingly indulging
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in sin, to hope for justification in sin instead of from sin. The Apostle is bringing this matter to our attention, and implies that there is great need of care. He says, “Be not deceived.” God knoweth the heart: we might deceive ourselves but we cannot deceive the Lord. It behooves us, therefore, to be on our guard respecting righteousness, justice, to see that the sentiments of our hearts are continually in opposition to unrighteousness, to sin, to all in-equity. The Apostle proceeds to point out that faith in Christ, and the acceptance of the divine law as our regulation principle in life, mean more than faith in the Lord Jesus. They mean our very best endeavors to speak and act and think in accord with the divine will—namely, in accord with righteousness.
THE “MARK” MUST BE ATTAINED, ELSE THE PRIZE WILL NOT BE OURS
There is no standstill for the New Creature. He must go on and reach a certain standard of perfection, else he cannot be counted in as one of the Kingdom class. The Apostle does indeed speak of the New Creatures as at first being babes in Christ, but the Kingdom will not be made up of babes in Christ, but of overcomers, and the overcoming is not, as we know, a matter of age or physical stature, but a matter of spiritual development, of growth in grace and knowledge and love. We are to grow in love, and love is the principle thing, but before we can make much development in the cultivation of love, we must learn to be just, right, righteous. It is a proper presentation of the matter that is given in the proverb, that a man should be just before he is generous.
It behooves the Lord’s people, therefore, the New Creation, that they study this subject of justice continually, and daily put into practice the lessons inculcated in the divine Word. All of the saints must be the foes of sin. Wherever sin is they must wage a warfare against it, and see to it that in their hearts at least they are free from sin, that in their hearts they do not countenance sin but oppose it, that sin finds no harboring place or sympathizing weakness in their hearts. This will make them radical as respects the words of their mouths, the conduct of life and the meditations of their hearts, that all of these shall be in absolute accord with the divine Word and its spirit
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of righteousness, holiness, truth, etc. Such as get this proper foundation of character before they begin to build love will find that they are making progress properly. All love that is founded upon injustice or wrong ideas of righteousness is delusive, is not the love which the Lord will require as the test of discipleship.
“BE NOT DECEIVED”
The Apostle’s words in our text, “Be not deceived,” imply just what we see all about us: that many profess to be the Lord’s people, profess to love him, profess the golden rule as their guide in life, and yet are blind to justice (righteousness) in many of the affairs of life. They exercise too much mercy in dealing with their own shortcomings and too little when examining the faults and weaknesses of others.
The Apostle proceeds to specify some of the unrighteous, unjust things to which the Lord’s people should find themselves opposed. As these are examined individually they are all found to contain a weakness in favor of self at the expense of others; they all imply an injustice to others for the pleasure or advantage of self. Some of these unrighteous things specified are very gross, and one might suppose would be recognized as unrighteous even by worldly people; yet the Apostle intimates that some who profess to be the Lord’s people have such lax ideas of justice that they do not perceive how abominable these unrighteous matters are—fornication, adultery, thievery, drunkenness, etc. Those who find themselves in any degree of sympathy with these evil qualities, these unrighteous acts, are deceived if they think themselves to be the Lord’s people. “God is not mocked: he that doeth righteousness is righteous.”—Gal. 6:7.
In other words, it is in vain that we profess to be the Lord’s people, profess to be the servants of righteousness and truth, and love these principles, if our conduct clearly demonstrates that we love unrighteousness. For such persons to profess to be the Lord’s people is to mock God by assuming that he cannot read the heart, and that what may be hidden to some extent from earthly beings is equally hidden from the Almighty with whom we have to do. He that doeth righteousness is not necessarily he only who is perfect, but rather he that doeth righteousness to the extent of his best ability and who is trusting in the Redeemer’s merit to compensate unintentional shortcomings—he is righteous in God’s sight—he is approved.
VARYING MANIFESTATIONS OF SELFISHNESS, SIN
The Apostle proceeds to specify other unrighteous conduct, not so gross as the sins already enumerated, but nevertheless wholly inconsistent with membership in the Kingdom class. These are specified as covetousness, revilings, extortioners, etc. Those who have made any advancement in the Christian way, we may surely trust, are far from having sympathy with the gross evils; and they may therefore have special need to examine themselves carefully in regard to these other more subtle evil qualities, deleterious to their interests as prospective heirs with Christ in the Kingdom. What is covetousness but selfishness—the desire to have, possess, enjoy something at the expense of another? What is idolatry but selfishness, the idolizing of money or fame or influence or child or self or some other creature, exalted to and receiving the honor due to the Almighty?
What is reviling but an exhibition of selfishness again, which takes this method of doing injury to the feelings or to the reputation of another?—evil speaking is classed by the Apostle in another place as one of the works of the flesh and of the devil. It is wholly out of harmony with justice and the golden rule,—for who would like to be reviled or evil spoken of?—it is therefore injustice, unrighteousness, and cannot be the disposition of those who are in any degree begotten of the Spirit and growing in grace. What is extortion but selfishness, injustice, unrighteous dealings with others?—accepting from them, either because of ignorance or stress of circumstances, such money or valuables as are not fully, justly, righteously due.
SOWING AND REAPING—TO THE FLESH OR TO THE SPIRIT
The Apostle in another epistle repeats these words, “Be not deceived;” and adds, “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap; for he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Gal. 6:7,8.) He is not addressing the world; it is the New Creation that is either sowing to the flesh or sowing to the Spirit, and that either will reap of the flesh or reap of the Spirit. We sow to the flesh every time we allow the fleshly, selfish, unjust, unrighteous desires of the flesh to have sway in our hearts and lives, and each sowing makes easier the additional sowing and makes more sure the end of that way which is death—Second Death. On the contrary each sowing to the Spirit, each resistance to the desires of the flesh toward selfishness, etc., and each exercise of the new mind, of the new will, in spiritual directions toward the things that are pure, the things that are noble, the things that are good, the things that are true, is a sowing to the Spirit, which will bring forth additional fruits of the Spirit, graces of the Spirit, and which, persevered in, will ultimately bring us in accord with the Lord’s gracious promises and arrangements—everlasting life and the Kingdom.
“LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU”
The Apostle John has a word to say also about
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the danger of being deceived after we have become New Creatures in Christ. His words are, “Let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (I John 3:7,8.) The Apostle is not speaking here of some one whose heart is loyal to the Lord and who is momentarily overtaken in a fault, for he declares respecting such that there is forgiveness for them because of the weakness or the ignorance which permitted them to be ensnared. He is, however, speaking most distinctly of a willingness of the heart to sin, to do unrighteousness. He indicates a great truth when he suggests that there are but two sides to the question,—that Satan is on the side of sin, and that all who love and with willingness practise sin are on his side. On the other side of the question are the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself as the Redeemer of mankind, that he might destroy Satan and all who sympathize with Satan in their opposition to God and his righteous arrangements.
“LET US EXAMINE OURSELVES”
The Apostle continues, “Whosoever is born [begotten]
of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin because he is born [begotten]
of God.” The thought is that those begotten of the good seed of Truth, begotten of the holy Spirit, cannot, so long as that seed of Truth and the Spirit of the Lord is alive in them, wilfully, deliberately turn to sin to practise it. If such should turn to sin wilfully and deliberately it would be conclusive evidence that the seed, the holy Spirit with which they had been begotten as children of God, had perished.
The Apostle adds, “In this the children of God are manifest from the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God—neither he who loveth not his brother.” Here again the question is sharply drawn as between the children of God and
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the children of the devil. All who are on the side of righteousness are on God’s side. These will love justice and oppose selfishness, and sin which is related to selfishness, in every sense and in every degree compatible with their opportunities and commission. But this is not enough: they must do more than love to do what is right; they must have such a love for the truth as would even lead them to sacrifice their rights on behalf of the Lord or any of his “brethren.” If we have tasted that the Lord is gracious, is good, we have tasted also that he is just, and in that sense of the word, severe. Let us then, while rejoicing in divine favor, see to it that we walk circumspectly, and that our walk in life is not after the flesh, which leads more or less directly to death, but after the Spirit, after righteousness, after Truth, all of which lead, under the Lord’s blessing and guidance, to everlasting life and the Kingdom honors and glories with our dear Redeemer.
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“HE MAKETH THE STORM A CALM”—PSA. 107:29.
—MARK 4:35-41.—MARCH 6.—
OUR Lord’s ministry is supposed to have covered two years at the time of the miracle of the calming of the sea, recorded in this lesson. After the selection of the twelve apostles and the Sermon on the Mount, etc., our Lord returned to Capernaum and soon after began his second tour of Galilee. It was during this interim that he awakened from the sleep of death the son of the widow of Nain—the first recorded instance of its kind in our Lord’s ministry. Then came teachings by parables, and in the afternoon of a busy day of teaching—after three o’clock, while still sitting in one of the boats as on a former occasion, having concluded his teachings—he directed that the boat be taken to the opposite side of the lake. The multitude, after being informed that the discourses were ended, were dismissed, and without delay the boat was started. From the various accounts we judge that all the twelve disciples were with him, and apparently other “men”—seamen, as Matthew’s account implies.
Travelers tell us that the Sea of Galilee is quite subject to wind storms. Dr. Thompson, describing his own experiences on this little sea, says: “The sun had scarcely set when the wind began to rush down toward the lake; and it continued all night long with constantly increasing violence, so that when we reached the shore the next morning the face of the lake was like a huge cauldron. The wind hurled down every wady from the north-east and east with such fury that no efforts of rowers could have brought a boat to shore at any point along that coast. To understand the causes of these sudden tempests, we must remember that the lake lies low, 600 feet lower than the ocean; that the vast and naked plateaus of the Jaulan rise to a great height, spreading backward to the wilds of Hauran, and upward to snowy Mt. Hermon; that the watercourses have cut out profound ravines and wide gorges, converging to the head of the lake, and that these act like gigantic funnels to draw down the cold winds from the mountains.”
“WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF HIS DEVICES”
Our own opinion is that “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) had something to do in the development of this storm—that it had more than natural causes, although the latter might have assisted or even been sufficient. We remember that the Adversary had
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already endeavored to induce our Lord to leap from the pinnacle of the Temple, but had not succeeded. Apparently now he would drown him in the sea. But the Lord, who declares himself able to make the wrath of man to praise him, caused the wrath of Satan or the wildness of the elements, whichever it was that induced the storm, to praise him—to show forth his mighty power.
During the storm our Lord lay asleep in the hinder part of the vessel on a cushion. Evidently he was thoroughly exhausted from the labors of his journey and ministry. Meantime, as the storm increased, the boat with its precious load began to fill with water more rapidly than it could be bailed out. No wonder the disciples, fishermen and experts at sea though they were, were alarmed. We cannot avoid the thought that in some manner the Lord’s providence had something to do with his prolonged sleep under such circumstances, and that the intention was to put the faith of the disciples to the test. They had seen his mighty works, his healing of the sick, and his awakening of the dead, and they had heard his teachings and had taken a miraculous catch of fish under his direction where they had failed before, and by this time they should have had considerable faith in his power everyway. The fact that they approached him at all indicates that they did have faith to some degree, though not implicit faith.
The slightly different accounts of the event given by Matthew, Mark and Luke, some one has paraphrased as follows,—Matthew: “Save, Lord, we perish;” Mark: “Teacher, carest thou not that we perish?” Luke: “Master, Master, we perish.” All three accounts are correct—one disciple cried out in one way and others in different words. Some one puts it thus: “Little Faith prayed, ‘Save us;’ Much Fear cried, ‘We perish;’ Distrust urged, ‘Carest thou not?’ More Faith said, ‘Lord;’ Discipleship cried out, ‘Teacher;’ Faint Hope cried, ‘Master, thou with authority.'” Jesus arose (awoke) and commanded peace and quiet, which immediately followed. The record mentions the cessation of the wind and additionally the calming of the sea. Some one might claim that a storm which came up suddenly might happen to stop with equal suddenness, but this would not account for the calming of the sea. Waters thus lashed to a fury could not be calmed thus quickly except by superhuman power. This, indeed, we may assume to be a prominent feature of the miracle.
It is rather peculiar that the Greek word used for “Be still” in this text is the same word used by our Lord to the demon. (Mark 1:25.) This rather corroborates the suggestion foregoing respecting the storm being the work of the Adversary. In any event this miracle shows clearly that storms should not be accredited, as they frequently are, to divine malevolence; for if the Father had caused the storm the Son would not have interfered with it. We do not wish to intimate, either, that every storm is of Satanic origin; we do not dispute that many of them arise from natural causes; but we do hold that some of them are supernatural and of the Adversary, and as a Scriptural evidence along this line we cite the whirlwind raised up by Satan, which smote the house in which Job’s children were feasting.—Job 1:13,19.
That our Lord intended this experience to be a lesson to the disciples, along the line of faith in him, seems to be borne out by verses 40,41. He said unto them, “Why are ye fearful? Have ye not yet faith?” Has your faith not yet developed to such a degree that you can trust me, and realize the Father’s favor and power ever with me for my protection, and that while with me no harm could possibly overtake you—nothing that is not wholly under my control? No wonder the apostles gained additional reverence for the Lord as a result of this miracle. Apparently it came just in the right time and order to be their appropriate lesson. In fact we may conclude that every item of their experience and every item of our Lord’s conduct, teaching and mighty works was especially for the instruction of these twelve, who were to be his witnesses to us and to the nations of the earth respecting that ministry.
SPIRITUAL LESSONS FOR THE SPIRITUAL HOUSEHOLD
There is a precious lesson in this miracle for all of the Lord’s followers outside of the apostleship, too. We also have need of faith and need of tests to our faith. Our daily experiences since we became the Lord’s followers have been guided and guarded apparently by the power unseen, to the intent that as pupils in the school of Christ, we may all be taught of him and develop more and more of the graces of the Spirit, and particularly more and more faith. How important this item of faith is we probably cannot fully appreciate now. It seems to be one thing that the Lord specially seeks for in those now called to be followers. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” “With faith all things are possible.” Proper faith is understood, of course, not credulity, not reliance upon the words of men, but implicit faith in the Lord for all that he has promised. “According to thy faith be it unto thee.”
So important a grace must of necessity require many lessons for its proper development, and it does not surprise us that in our individual experiences as Christians we find those which correspond to the experiences of the apostles noted in this lesson. How suddenly the Adversary may at times bring against us a whirlwind of temptation or of opposition or of persecution. How at such times our sky seems overcast, dark, foreboding; how the waves of adversity or affliction have almost overwhelmed us, and how the Lord seemed
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asleep and heedless of our distress and indifferent to our necessities! Such experiences are tests of our faith, as this one was a test to the faith of the apostles. If our faith be strong enough under such circumstances, we would keep on with our proper endeavors to adjust matters corresponding to the bailing of the boat and the working of the oars; but meantime, with an implicit faith in the Lord’s promise that “all things shall work together for our good,” we would be able to sing as did the Apostle Paul and Silas after being beaten while in the stocks for their faithfulness to the Lord. They rejoiced that they were accounted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. So according to our faith will we be able to rejoice even in tribulation. We cannot enjoy the sufferings; we can enjoy the thought which faith attaches to them, namely, that these are but light afflictions working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Each experience of this kind should be helpful to us. If at first we were fearful and cried aloud, by and by we received the succor, with perhaps the reprimand, “O, thou of little faith;” but as lesson after lesson has come to us, the Master will expect—and we should expect of ourselves—greater faith, greater trust, greater peace, greater joy in the Lord, greater confidence in his presence with us and his care over us, and in his power to deliver us from the Adversary and from every evil thing, and to bring us eventually in safety to the port we seek—the heavenly Kingdom.
THE CHURCH’S EXPERIENCES PREFIGURED
Some one has suggested, apparently on reasonable grounds, that this experience of Jesus and the Apostles in the boat during the night pictured the experiences of the Church during this Gospel age. The Lord assured his people, saying, “Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the age,” and “I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also,” and “nothing shall by any means hurt you,” etc. The Lord’s faithful people all through this age have realized with more or less distinctness the certainty of these precious promises; they have felt that the Lord indeed is with his Church; yet it has seemed at times as though he were asleep, inattentive to the prayers of his faithful, and inattentive to their cries and groans. For eighteen centuries his dear ones have been tempest-tossed by the Adversary, persecuted, afflicted, buffeted—all through this dark night, in which the only light available has been “thy Word a light to my feet.” The experiences of others in the past are our experiences in the present.
We of today represent the Lord’s cause in the midst of the raging elements of human passions, oppositions, etc.; and as the Apostle declares of his day, so it is still true that “we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high positions.” The storms may seem to come from the world, but really beyond the world is the Adversary. “We are not ignorant of his devices;” our hearts would be at times dismayed except as faith is able to see the Lord with us in the ship, and able to grasp the thought of his mighty power in his own time and way to speak peace to the world.
Soon the time will come for him who careth for us to exert his great power on our behalf, to deliver his people, to say to the raging elements, Peace, be still. Then will follow the great calm, the great rest from the evil one for a thousand years, for he shall be bound that he shall deceive the nations no more. Then will come the eternal rest of the heart to all who are now in the boat with the Lord, and then will come the opportunity for all these to be co-laborers with him in the great and glorious work of blessing the world. It must not surprise us, however, if a dark hour is before us—if the time will come when the stormy winds will be so fierce that many will cry out in fear and trembling. Let us learn well the precious experiences of the present time, so that then our faith shall not fail us—so that in the darkest hour we shall be able to sing and to rejoice in him who loved us and bought us with his own precious blood, and to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb.
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BARGAINS THAT WERE COSTLY
—MATT. 14:1-12.—MARCH 13.—
Golden Text:—”Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”—Rev. 2:10.
JOHN THE BAPTIST had been imprisoned about a year when he was beheaded, as narrated in this lesson. He had preached only about a year, but in that time evidently made a profound impression throughout Palestine—an impression, however, which signally failed to accomplish the purpose intended by him—failed to prepare the hearts of the people, through repentance and contrition for sin, to receive Jesus as the Messiah. Josephus supposes that he was confined in a dungeon connected with the castle Macherus. Geike gives us his opinion of the kind of dungeon in these words: “Perhaps a cage of iron bars like one I saw at Gaza, to which friends of the prisoner could come with food or for gossip, but with no conveniences or provision of any kind for living or sleeping, and only a bare stone floor.” This would account for John’s ability to send his disciples to Jesus, inquiring, “Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?” We cannot wonder that his experiences were in some respects disappointing to him, though from our standpoint
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we can see that he did the work which the Father intended. This may serve as a lesson to us. We, too, should do our parts faithfully as unto the Lord and leave all the results in his hands, assured of his wisdom and power to overrule all things to the final accomplishment of his gracious purposes. The words of the poet are appropriate to John and to many other faithful souls,—
“We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial. He most lives
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.
That life is long which answers life’s great end.”
As there is a striking resemblance between John and Elijah, his type, so there is a strong resemblance between the experiences of John and those of the faithful Church,—the great antitype of Elijah. While Elijah fled from Ahab, his real persecutor was Jezebel, who sought his life. So John the Baptist was apprehended and finally executed by Herod, but his real opponent was Herod’s wife, Herodias. Similarly the greater Elijah, the faithful body of Christ in the flesh, has suffered and will yet suffer further at the hands of civil power, yet the real persecutor behind the civil power has been the antitypical Jezebel mentioned in Revelation 2:20—the antitypical Herodias—the nominal Church adulterously allied to the kingdoms of this world while nominally espoused to Christ. All Bible students will recognize the various pictures of this apostasy in Revelation, whether they understand the resemblance distinctly or not.
HEROD, HERODIAS AND SALOME
Herod the Great left several sons ambitious to be his successor. Herodias married the eldest of these, anticipating that thus she would become the queen. The Roman Emperor decided otherwise and chose Antipas, the Herod of this lesson. Thereupon Herodias, still strong-willed and ambitious to be a queen, brought her captivating influences to bear upon Antipas, induced him to repudiate his former wife, and to accept her as queen instead. John the Baptist, preaching against sin, had evidently declared in public against this unlawful union—declared that Herod and his wife were living in adultery—the king separated from his own wife and improperly associated with his brother Philip’s wife. We cannot wonder that such haughty, ambitious, and lawlessly disposed persons as Herod and Herodias must have been should feel resentment against any preacher who would dare to call in question the conduct of the regal pair. The result was the imprisonment of John. Evidently this course was instigated by Herodias, who had everything to fear from John’s preaching. If Herod should feel conscience-stricken, or if the people should become aroused to such an extent as to influence his course aside from his conscience, the results would surely be disastrous to her interests. She would not only lose the high social position she had sacrificed her life to attain, but she would lose everything and become a homeless wretch. Evidently she strove to incite her husband to put John to death at the time he was imprisoned; but her influence was offset by Herod’s fear of the effect of such a course upon the people, who esteemed John to be a prophet.
The queen, still plotting, determined to take advantage of the king’s birthday festival. She knew the king’s disposition, and that on such occasions it was customary to have great hilarity and to use intoxicating beverages with more than usual freedom. It was the custom of the time for such gatherings of men to be entertained by dancing girls in more or less transparent garments, executing voluptuous dances; and the queen arranged that the king’s party, as a special honor, on this occasion should be served by her daughter by her former marriage, Salome. Her scheme was extremely successful: the king and his courtiers were charmed, and instead of the paltry gift usual on such occasions, the king, under the heat of wine and his admiration for his adopted daughter, told her to ask whatever she desired—even to the half of his kingdom (Mark says).
THE KING’S BAD BARGAIN
Only a judgment unbalanced by excitement and alcohol could have made so rash a promise, and bound it with several oaths, as the original indicates. Here is one of the advantages possessed by the Lord’s people. They are not only protected from such excesses and the distortions of natural judgment caused thereby, but additionally, as the Apostle intimates, they receive the “spirit of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7.) The mind of Christ, the disposition of Christ, lifts the heart from such follies and places it upon more reasonable things. It gives us a truer estimation of values. Whereas
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the spirit of the world, the spirit of pride, the spirit of ambition no less than the spirit of envy, tends to pervert the judgment, to give false conceptions of value.
Along this line we call to mind various bad bargains: amongst others that of Esau, who for a mess of pottage sold his birthright as the first-born of Isaac, the natural heir of the Abrahamic promise. We call to mind Judas’ bad bargain, by which he received thirty pieces of silver, sold his Lord, and lost everything. Herod’s was one of these bad or costly bargains. He lost his peace of mind as the lesson records—”The king was sorry.” We may be sure that his mind was frequently disturbed with the thought of his injustice, and the further thought that quite probably his crime was against one of the Lord’s special favorites—against a
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prophet. The popularity of Jesus did not evidently become so general until after John’s death. Herod, hearing of the matter about that time, was perplexed, and wondered whether or not there might be some truth in the Grecian theories that the dead were not dead, but had power to communicate through other living persons, after the manner of spirits through mediums in the present day. His mind was troubled, yet he was not penitent.
Similar conditions prevail today: people do those things which they recognize to be wrong, they violate their consciences, they feel sorry; yet this is not the godly sorrow, for, as the Apostle explains, a godly sorrow—a sorrow of the kind which God recognizes and appreciates—leads to repentance. Every other sorrow is apt to have an injurious effect merely, but a godly sorrow is profitable. It leads to repentance, to reformation, to reconciliation with God through his appointed provision in Jesus. Let us as the Lord’s people seek to be filled with the Lord’s spirit, and proportionately emptied of the worldly spirit, the spirit of intoxication and the spirit of self-will, and have the spirit of a new mind, of a sound mind. Yet if any find himself in sin through yielding to the desires of the flesh, let him remember that each step in the downward way is a step to be retraced if ever any good shall result, or is to be attained in the future. Let such make haste at any cost to seek the Lord, and to be purged, washed, cleansed, in the merit of the precious blood, and henceforth more than ever be on their guard against sin.
DID JOHN ACT IMPRUDENTLY?
It is not for us to sit in judgment upon the course of John the Baptist, to determine whether or not he exceeded his duty in his criticism of the king and queen. We are inclined, however, to think that he did exceed his duty. So far as we may be able to judge, there were many officials at the time against whom serious charges might have been brought by Jesus and the apostles, yet we have no evidence that any of these ever took the course which John took. Jesus was before Pilate, and, later on, was before this very Herod, yet we have no record that he ever said a word on the subject concerning which John felt free to speak; Paul was personally before Agrippa and Felix and others prominent in that time, some of whom, according to history, were disreputable men, yet he made no personal attack upon them, and his only appeal was to Agrippa, “I would that thou wert altogether as I am, except these bonds,” and this was in reply to Agrippa’s remark, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”
In our understanding of the teachings of the Scriptures it is not the duty of the Lord’s people to go through the world rebuking sin, but preaching the Gospel. It is the Gospel, which we preach by our words and by our lives, that is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” We emphasize this, because it is our observation that some of the Lord’s people feel it their duty to copy John’s course in such matters rather than to copy the Lord Jesus and the apostles, and we believe that herein they err. The Gospel is not sent to break men’s hearts but to bind up the broken-hearted—to heal those whose hearts are already broken. Sin and its natural penalties are the sledgehammers which are breaking men’s hearts. The great time of trouble which is approaching is God’s method apparently for the breaking of the hearts of the whole world—to prepare them for the balm of Gilead and the general blessings of the Millennial age which shall follow it. He who uses the Gospel as a hammer has mistaken his commission, which for the whole Christ reads, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken-hearted,” etc.—Isa. 61:1.
A PARENT’S INFLUENCE, FOR GOOD OR EVIL
The power of Herodias over Herod is illustrated by her power over her daughter Salome. The king’s generous offer must have carried weight in the mind of a young girl. Riches, splendors, apparel, palaces, apparently flitted before her mind; but as her previous course had been under her mother’s direction, she now sought the mother’s advice, “What shall I ask?” (Mark 6:24.) Here we have an illustration of parental influence. Evil woman as she was, Herodias evidently had retained the affection of her daughter and her absolute confidence and obedience. It was hers to direct the young mind into good or evil channels. To some extent this is true of every parent, particularly of every mother. How great, then, is the responsibility of fathers and mothers for the course of their children! The spirit of a sound mind in the Lord’s people will certainly prompt them to use this mighty influence, which is theirs by natural relationship and opportunity, so as to guide those under their direction into right paths.
Alas, how some, even Christian mothers, fail to seize such opportunities and to direct their children in the heavenly ways. They seem to have so much of the worldly spirit themselves that, even while desiring to sacrifice their own earthly interests for the cause of the Lord and to lay up treasure in heaven, they shrink from having their children participate, failing to realize that wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness and that all other paths lead to present and future trouble. They fail to appreciate the Apostle’s words, “Present your bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Every other course is unreasonable, irrational, unwise.
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Some one has put these words into the mother’s mouth in answer to the daughter’s desires for the great things proffered her by the king: “Little fool, you know not what you ask: what would all these things be to you and me unqueened and outcast, as we may be any day if John the Baptist live?” The mother’s thought evidently was that with the Prophet out of the way all other advantages were accessible to herself and her daughter. She bade her daughter ask for the head of the Prophet and that at once, here, now, on a charger (one of the large platters used at the feast). Haste was deemed necessary lest the king’s ardor should cool and his better judgment take control—while the flush of excitement and liquor was upon him, and while his counselors were present who had heard the oath, and before whom any indecision in respect to a prisoner would stultify himself. The king yielded, yet Herodias was not saved from the fate she dreaded; for history records that within ten years her ambition prompted Herod, against his better judgment, to solicit at Rome an additional dignity. The request was refused, and Herod was deprived of his dominion and banished to Lyons in Gaul, where he died.
POSSIBILITIES OF THE FUTURE TO US
We have already referred to the fact that John the Baptist was an antitype to Elijah, and to the fact that the Gospel Church, Head and body, the Christ in the flesh, is still the higher and grander antitype. For eighteen centuries or more this grander Elijah has been preaching righteousness in the world and calling for repentance, etc., announcing the coming of the Christ, the glorified Church, as the Kingdom of God to judge and to bless the world. As Elijah only found a few loyal to God in Israel, so Elijah the second found only a few ready to meet Jesus in the flesh, and similarly the great antitypical Elijah (the Church in the flesh) has found only a few, a little flock, to heed and to properly prepare for the Kingdom. Nevertheless it is the work designed, and, as foretold by the Prophet Malachi, the failure to accomplish larger results means that the Kingdom will be introduced not peaceably but forcefully; that in order to the establishment of the King of Glory as the Prince of the earth it will be necessary to smite the nations with the rod of iron, to break them in pieces as a potter’s vessel, that all the Gentiles may seek unto the Lord, and that the knowledge of the Lord may fill the whole earth, that his Kingdom may come, and his will be done on earth as in heaven.
Another point here: The first Jezebel persecuted the first Elijah so that he fled into the wilderness, and even after his coming again and performing a great miracle and turning the hearts of some to the Lord, he was a second time obliged to flee from Jezebel, who sought his life. In the case of the second Elijah, John the Baptist, the experiences were somewhat similar, and the Herodias Jezebel succeeded eventually in accomplishing the destruction of the Prophet. In the case of the third Elijah (the Church in the flesh) the woman Jezebel is mentioned by name (Rev. 2:20); and her pernicious work, the flight of the Church into the wilderness (Rev. 12:6), and her return from the wilderness condition since Reformation times are all known. Now we are to anticipate a second attack upon the true Church (not upon the nominal system), and this may mean, as in the case of John the Baptist, a second and a seemingly complete victory of the Babylonish woman and her paramour, the world, over the faithful members of the body of Christ in the flesh. We shall certainly not be surprised if the matter so results; but this and all things must work together for good to those
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who love the Lord. We must all die to win our heavenly prizes beyond the veil. The Elijah class this side the veil must and will be vanquished, but the apparent defeat only hastens the Kingdom glories, powers and blessings promised. “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life.”
GO TELL IT TO JESUS
The disciples of John knew where to go with the message—where to find sympathy and consolation in respect to their loss. There is a lesson for us in this. To whom shall we go with trials, difficulties, sorrows, troubles, disappointments? The Lord invites us to come to him with everything which is too heavy for ourselves, with every care. He cares for us and will grant the blessing to trusting souls. Doubtless those who went to Jesus became his disciples, and thus their trials in connection with their leader and teacher brought them into closer knowledge and fellowship with the great Teacher. And so it will be doubtless with those who are the friends of the Lord’s people at the present time: the vengeance of the antitypical Jezebel upon the antitypical Elijah will move their friends and associates to still greater love and interest, and will be the means of attracting more closely to the Lord the “Great Company.”
OUR GOLDEN TEXT
Those who prepared the lesson evidently did not see that John the Baptist belongs to a separate class of the saved from those addressed in the text. No promise was made to John of a crown of life. That promise belongs to us, the Gospel Church—called chosen, and faithful. John, however, will have a great blessing, for we mark again our Lord’s words, “There hath not arisen a greater prophet than John the Baptist—and yet I say unto you that the least in the Kingdom is greater than he.”