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VOL. XXVI. JUNE 1, 1905. No. 11
Views from the Watch Tower……………………163
Religious Liberty in Russia……………….163
The Open Shop and Socialism……………….164
The Duty of Church Membership……………..164
Scholarly Infidelity Claimed………………164
Spiritualistic Manifestations Increasing……165
Thoughts Regarding Jonah……………………..166
The Message of the Risen Christ……………….167
Seven Golden Candlesticks…………………168
“In His Right Hand Seven Stars”……………169
The Heavenly Jerusalem……………………….170
“The River of the Water of Life”…………..171
“The Healing of the Nations”………………172
Bible Study for June…………………………174
Encouraging Words from Faithful Workers………..174
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GENERAL CONVENTION, NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y., JULY 8-11
THE RAILROADS of the New England, Trunk Lines, Central, Western and South-western Associations will sell tickets to this Convention at one fare and one-third, plus 25 cents, on the “Certificate Plan.” You purchase a regular single-fare ticket to Niagara Falls, N.Y., telling your ticket-agent at the time that you desire a Certificate, that you are going to the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY’S CONVENTION, and which will entitle you to purchase a return ticket at one-third a regular fare. Hold on to that certificate, as without it you would be charged full fare when buying your return ticket. The Certificates will need to be signed, but we will publicly announce at the Convention the name of the brother who will attend to the matter for you and save you all trouble.
ACCOMMODATIONS should be secured in advance to avoid confusion and trouble to yourself and the Entertainment Committee. Therefore, if you will attend, write at once, saying briefly (a) how many will be of your party; (b) how many of each sex; (c) if colored, so state; (d) married couples desirous of rooming together should so state. AS TO RATES.—It will be safe to count that a room for one person will cost $1.00 per night in a good, respectable house, or a room for two $1.25. Unless you specify to the contrary, arrangements will be made for two in a bed and two beds in a large room at the cost of 50 cents each person. MEALS can be secured from 15 cents up, according to quantity, kind and service.
Do not write on this subject at length. Tell us about things at the Convention. Give the information briefly and to the point. A postal card will do. Address the WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, 612 Arch St., Allegheny, Pa.
From many points there are other Special Excursions run every summer to Niagara Falls. Some of these are at extremely low rates. It will be well for each to inquire of the railway ticket agents of his own city on this subject, and to select the excursion that will suit his convenience best. But take our own Excursion mentioned above unless you can do better.
GET READY PROPERLY
Prepare your heart for a blessing. Come to the Convention in the proper spirit—as a disciple, a learner. Come intent also on doing good as well as getting good, of consoling and encouraging others, as well as to be yourself comforted. Above all, come realizing that the Lord himself is the fountain of blessings, and remembering his word—not by might, nor by power, but by the Lord’s Spirit are we to expect the blessings we hope for. In making ready and en route do not forget this important item, for on it your share in the Convention’s blessing greatly depends.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN RUSSIA
THE CZAR has commemorated Easter by an edict granting religious freedom to all the religions of his empire except the Jewish. The principal newspapers of the world seem to consider this one of the most momentous events in Russia’s history. It is presumed to be granted with a view to the conciliation of the various classes affected.
The Greek Catholic Church is still the “orthodox,” the State Church however, with advantages every way over all competitors. For some time all religions have been tolerated in Russia, but hampered by various disabilities, and none were permitted to either publicly or privately proselyte. A man born a Mohammedan, for instance, might continue thus to worship, but if he ever became a Greek Catholic it would go hard with any who
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would convert him back to Mohammedanism or anything else, and in leaving the Greek Church he would forfeit all his civil rights. Indeed only the Greek Catholics had any civil rights. Others could not hold property, were debarred from certain schools, and although compelled to do military service they could not rank higher than privates. They were not permitted to erect church or school buildings nor to circulate controversial literature. Their marriages were “illegal,” unless performed by a Greek Catholic priest, etc. It is estimated that about one-third of the Czar’s subjects are benefitted by this “ukase” or order. The chief party of dissenters in Russia are styled “Old Believers.” These, though but slightly different from the Greek Catholics in forms, have been persecuted for nearly two hundred and fifty years. After referring to these “Old Believers,” The Herald says:—
“The humbler dissenters have had a much harder time, being hunted down until secretly they gave rise to a breed of sects. One preached redemption by suicide and a fiery or a bloody baptism; others worshiped images of Napoleon as the Messiah, believing that he escaped to Siberia and would return some day and establish a reign of justice and peace, and still others indulged in most licentious rites. Of these dissenters there are about 12,000,000.
“The Emperor’s act will affect about forty millions belonging to alien faiths, such as the Catholics, and Lutherans of Poland and the Baltic Provinces, the Protestants of Finland and the followers of Islam and Buddha in the Urals, the Crimea, the Caucasus, Turkestan and Central Asia.”
The Chicago Record-Herald says:—
“The Easter decree seems to put an end to all religious persecution. Secession from the State Church is not to be punished as a crime and is not to involve any loss or forfeiture of rights. Dissenters are to be permitted to establish monasteries and schools, print and circulate religious works and maintain missions. It is stated that the decree also affects the millions belonging to alien faiths.
“Those who know the influence of the orthodox church of Russia will regard this decree as more revolutionary even than that of March. The right—indeed the duty—of enforcing conformity and preventing heresy, within the church has been aggressively asserted by the exponents of the old policy, and even the priests, who a few weeks ago published a bold appeal for the separation of the church from the bureaucratic organization and the restoration of the independence it enjoyed prior to the abolition of the patriarchate by Peter the Great did not go so far as to include a demand for real religious freedom. As the liberals pointed out, the priests wanted more power and dignity for the church, but not more liberty for the individual subject. The Czar has declared the movement for church independence inopportune, but in conferring religious freedom on the empire he has done more than that movement contemplated. And religious liberty spells other liberty. It is an earnest as well as an achievement.”
The New York Tribune remarks on the exception of the Jews:—
“The Jews, five million strong, are still outlawed, That may be because the Jewish religion is esteemed in Russia less highly than the Mohammedan. It may be because the Jews are a nation without a country, and no foreign government is inclined to champion their cause, and therefore no political end is to be served by emancipating them. Whatever the reason, this omission must be deplored as gravely marring what would
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otherwise be one of the most splendid acts in the history of Russian government.”
* * *
Apparently conciliatory measures will avert any immediate collapse of the Russian government; but many of her sons are incessantly planning a complete revolution. It will doubtless come in due course within the next ten years, as a part of the great world-trouble predicted at the consummation of this age.
THE OPEN SHOP AND SOCIALISM
A builder of large experience, a WATCH TOWER reader, sends us a clipping from The Builder, with the remark,—”This will cause a rapid growth in Socialism.” We agree that it will have this effect, and that Socialism means ultimately the Bible-predicted anarchy, though we are equally sure that many of the best and noblest Socialists are totally blind to this result. We quote the article entire:—
EIDLITZ ON ARBITRATION
“At a dinner given by the Contractors’ Protective Association in New York recently Charles L. Eidlitz, president of the Building Trades Employers’ Association, declared, in responding to the toast, ‘Arbitration,’ that the next fight with the building trades unions in that city will be for ‘the open shop.’
“Continuing, Mr. Eidlitz said: ‘We will have peace for a year, possibly for a year and a half, and then, I am confident, trouble will break out again. But our fight then will not be along the line of union principles. It will be for the open shop—the non-union shop.
“Arbitration reminds me of the practice of taking candy with medicine in order to make the dose more pleasant. So it is with arbitration according to the theory of union workmen. They seek arbitration as candy in order to administer to us a dose which at all times is severe. The labor unions of to-day believe there is only one way to settle a labor trouble, and that way is their way.
“‘Greater labor troubles within a year and a half in the building trades than we have ever had, with an “open shop” for us all at the end of the struggle, is my prediction.
“‘It has been said that the only good Indian is a dead Indian. I would change that so as to say that the sentiment of the men who would erect buildings here, if they only had half a chance, is that the only good union, so far as our business is concerned, is a dead one. Arbitration has proven a failure and our only hope lies in the “open shop”. That is sure to come in the building trades within a year and a half at the most.'”—The Builder.
THE DUTY OF CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
The Pittsburg Christian Advocate publishes a query from a Methodist minister as follows:—
“Within the limits of my pastoral charge are a number of professedly Christian people who do not seem to realize it to be their duty to become members of any Church. Otherwise they give evidence of sincerity in their profession. What scriptural arguments may be brought to bear in order to convince them of their duty to the visible Church?”
The Advocate’s editor proceeds to prove that every true Christian should belong to some one of the numerous man-made sects;—should get behind some one of the numerous man-made creed-fences;—should declare I am of Wesley, or Calvin, or Luther or some man;—should thus separate himself from other fellow-members of the same body of Christ;—should belong to men and not merely to Christ, as the Scriptures direct.
Of course The Advocate did not put the matter in this its true form, but, following the general delusion, argues that whoever is not a member of a sect is not a member of the Church of Christ.
As the question evidently refers to WATCH TOWER readers who stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ makes free and avoid all sectarian yokes of bondage, we give our answer to the question very briefly, thus:—
Every true Christian, that is every believer in the atonement, secured by the precious blood, who has consecrated his all to his Savior and is striving daily even though stumblingly to walk in his steps, has a duty toward the visible Church—toward the fellow-members of the Church of Christ.
(1) He should recognize all such and that without partiality, loving and striving to serve them as “brethren” in deed and in doctrine.
(2) Should he find these “brethren” bound in sectarian “bundles” (Matt. 13:30) he should not join a “bundle” to please them and encourage them in their error; but standing fast in his liberty in Christ he should seek the deliverance of the “brethren.” His duty is to lift up the standard and get the true wheat out of all the tare-bundles into the same liberty, in union with Christ, the only Head.
(3) If he cannot have full fellowship at first, he will be all the more in the position the Savior himself occupied before he got a faithful few delivered from Jewish bondage and error. He should be just as kind and helpful to opposing brethren as their wrong ideas and position will permit; and he should foster fellowship specially with those who more and more hear the voice of the Shepherd and come out of Babylon.
(4) The great mistake seems to be in what is called a Church. As bricks and beams and stones do not make a church, neither is every assemblage of well-dressed people a Church. Christ’s Church is composed only of those united to him in faith and obedience, and these will know and fellowship each other always, and need not names, badges, grips and passwords.
SCHOLARLY INFIDELITY CLAIMED
“An educated man who would to-day quote the Bible as an authority on any physical subject would be an object of ridicule in the eyes of all educated hearers. Our Bible is but the mould of two thousand years ago into which was poured the fundamental principles of religion. Its facts are not history as they have been considered for the past nineteen centuries. Indeed, there is no history in the Bible.”
These were the words of President J. Gould Schurman of Cornell University yesterday when he addressed
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1,200 students from the pulpit of Sage chapel, the occasion being the first Sunday of the second semester of the university year.
His subject was “The Christianity of To-day.”
President Schurman said that the Christ of the twentieth century must be admitted to be different from the Christ of the preceding nineteen centuries. The Bible, he said, can no longer be considered a textbook of science. It seems strange to us that men should ever have considered it as such.
Explaining the miracles which the Bible attributes to Jesus Christ, President Schurman said:
“We have to-day our Christian Science and our faith cure, by means of which we see one man exerting great powers over both the minds and bodies of another. Who can say what great influence Jesus Christ might have had in conformity even with the laws of nature over the minds and bodies of men.
“Altho we have broken away from the garb in which the teachings of Christ were first clothed, the principles he taught are still needed to save our race from despair, materialism and scepticism, and our young men from low standards. I know from experience that most of you who come to the university from homes where you have been taught to believe in the Bible begin to doubt its teachings when you begin to learn from science that what it states as historical facts cannot be true. I wish to help you in this stage and show you that behind the statements in the Bible, which we must cast aside, are principles of religion which we must follow to-day.”—N.Y. Sun.
INFIDELITY SIMILARLY TAUGHT ABROAD
Considerable comment and discussion has followed an address delivered by the Dean of Westminster to Sunday-school teachers. The dean declared that “our whole conception of the inspiration of the Bible has been altered.” In support of this theory he referred to the first two chapters of Genesis as portions of the Bible which must be taken as parables and allegories. He went on to say that these and many other stories, such as that of the talking serpent and the talking ass, are not now regarded as literal statements of historical facts, but as imagery, clothing certain spiritual lessons. In short, the dean advanced as his view of the Bible the one that is too well known to need further description than is indicated in the above passage. It is his position in the Church that has given rise to public discussion. Many clergymen have expressed surprise, and Canon McCormick protests that this sort of thing upsets the whole foundation of belief, because it attacks the question of inspiration. He says: “We cannot believe one part of the Bible is inspired and another is not, because we believe that the compilers were inspired”.—Cablegram to Globe-Democrat.
“ALMA MATER” WILL SUCCEED DOXOLOGY
The “Doxology” has been discarded at the University of Chicago. The faculty has agreed with students that college songs do more to breed a true religious and college spirit than the chanting of the tenets of Christian belief, and to-day at all chapel services in the junior college the college song “Alma Mater” was substituted for the doxology. The gist of the recommendation of the students to the professors was that a college spirit was the aim of the morning chapel service.—Toledo Times.
These items tell the tale of the rapid departure of faith in the Bible as a divine revelation. But still worse is the fact that even the public-school text-books are being remodeled, so as to affect the child-mind at its earliest and most impressive stage of development. What must be the great loss and far-reaching blight that will result? True, much that has been taught as truth is rankly unscriptural and unreasonable; but with all that, there was still an element of truth in every creed, on which some hope and reverence hung ever so tentatively.
We see in this war of Scholastic Infidelity a preparation for the great anarchistic trouble with which the Scriptures predict this age will end in a baptism of fire and blood. Thank God for its assurances of the Golden age to follow speedily.
SPIRITUALISTIC MANIFESTATIONS INCREASING
Be not deceived said our Master. So far as we are able, we desire that all TOWER readers may be proof against the deceptions of the fallen angels, who, personating the dead, are rapidly deluding the world as they are granted more power in this “evil day,” as predicted. It is remarkable that as Higher Criticism’s denial of divine inspiration of the Bible finds its advocates in the Christian ministry, so Spiritism is choosing the same channel, so far as it is able, to deceive the whole world.
While the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tells of a “spirit photograph” of General Lee, taken without intention when a group was photographed on a veranda—above their heads—word comes from Chicago of a spirit-painted portrait produced in daylight in the presence of the widely known Rev. Isaac Funk, D.D., and for him; and another paper publishes a bishop’s declaration of his faith in such manifestations as from the dead.
Can we not see that the influence of the demons is growing, and does not this betoken a great night of darkness so far as the light of the Bible is concerned? Yes, the forces of evil are being let loose to tempt them that, professing Christ, have received not the Truth in the love of it.—2 Thes. 2:10.
We quote below the newspaper reports referred to:
TIME COMING WHEN COMMUNICATION WITH THE OTHER WORLD WILL BE EASY, DECLARES BISHOP FALLOWS
Chicago, Ill.—”As a Christian and a believer in the Bible, I must believe in communication between the two worlds—that in which we live and that to which our friends have gone.”
Bishop Samuel Fallows of the Reformed Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, made this statement to-day.
“But,” he went on, “I have a profound distrust of the mediums who are pretending to be able to call up spirits at will.
“I believe in apparitions, however, and think it possible that there are persons possessed of a certain mysterious psychic power which enables them to make
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of their spirits a channel, as it were, through which the earth-bound spirit can communicate with the friend from the other side.
“We are still in a state of groping. I believe the time will come, with the further development of those psychic powers of which we are just beginning to get an inkling, when communication with the other world will be very easy.”—Inquirer.
REV. I. K. FUNK, D.D.’S EXPERIENCES
AMAZING STORIES OF PICTURES GROWING ON CANVAS BEFORE THE EYES OF WITNESSES REVEALED IN CONNECTION WITH BANGS SISTERS
Chicago, Ill.—Details of a seance at which a $1500 picture was painted by dead masters wielding the brush in the mysterious world of spirits under the mediumship of the Bangs sisters, 654 West Adams street, have come to light.
The amazing story is given on the authority of a spiritualist, who had it first hand from Dr. Isaac Funk of New York, who paid $1500 for the “spirit painting.”
Dr. Funk is one of the proprietors of Funk & Wagnalls, one of the largest publishing firms of the United States. He formerly was a Methodist minister. He is editor of the Standard dictionary.
“Funk, when in Chicago last September, visited the Bangs sisters,” said this informant. “He has long been interested in spirit phenomena. But only recently he had taken up the investigation of spirit painting. This is a rare manifestation of spirit power. The Bangs sisters are among a very few mediums through whom dead artists paint.”
Dr. Funk was ushered into a south room on the second floor at the end of the hall. It was barren of everything save a table and a few chairs. Light was admitted through one window. No one except the two sisters, Dr. Funk and a friend were in the room.
The sisters showed them several white canvases both on stretchers and off and asked Dr. Funk to select any one he desired. He picked out one about 20 x 24, which was already on a stretcher.
Nobody spoke or moved. In about three minutes a cloud seemed to pass over the canvas, leaving a pearl-gray effect for a background.
A few minutes more and a dull outline of a portrait appeared. Every few minutes it grew more distinct. Then followed the various colors, and in 45 minutes the picture, a perfect likeness, was completed.
AT M. E. BIBLE CONFERENCE—LOS ANGELES
Dr. Biederwolf is reported to have answered the question, “What is the Evangelical Church?” as follows,—very truthfully:
“I don’t know what your idea is, but mine is something like the following:
“The Evangelical Church must be pure in doctrine. I mean true to the evangelical creed. The revival of the next fifty years must be a revival of doctrine. The preacher must first take his stand on the inspiration of this Book, and be steadfast, immovable, abounding in the Word of the Lord. Once give yourself up to the unsubstantial supposition that like all other good books it has its errors as well as its truth, its only superiority being that it has a little more of the latter, and you will either wreck your faith on the barren reefs of a shallow liberalism or, like a coward, will use the pulpit of the Lord Christ to minister to your pride and purse. If this book is the Word of God the only important thing for
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this world to know is, what it says, and the only call you or I ever had from God is to make clear and emphatic to the world the message it contains. Blessed Book!
“And now for the message. The evangelistic Church must above all be evangelical in its preaching. I wonder if we haven’t been placing too little emphasis on the trenchant doctrines of the world in our concern for practical righteousness; science has put such a beautiful dress on man’s wickedness that we have almost forgotten there is such a thing as sin.
“Never as to-day has the world been so disposed to doubt and deny the real meaning of the cross. And this finds encouragement in a two-fold tendency of the ministry, the one seeking to please the world with some weak and dilettante palliation, the other ignoring the cross well nigh altogether. Of the first class none are, I presume, here to-day; they are not usually found in such places; but, brethren, what about the other class? We hear about the wide range of the pulpit, but that is not true—its range is very limited indeed—but this is true in a sense only—it should be determined to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified, and when anything crowded in means the cross crowded out both are out of their place and the preacher, too.”
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THOUGHTS REGARDING JONAH
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—Herewith I send you some suggestions which have occurred to me in studying the Book of Jonah, and which, perhaps, may prove interesting to you.
Your brother in Christ, D. KIHLGREN.
The book of Jonah has been especially assailed by the “higher critics,” and they have ridiculed the story of Jonah being swallowed by a fish, as a fable. On the other hand the prophecy of Jonah seems to have been, doctrinally at least, largely a mystery to God’s people. It has, however, valuable practical lessons which no doubt have been appreciated, namely, God’s love to the repentant Ninevites; His kindness in reproving the murmuring prophet, and as showing how God sometimes uses very imperfect instruments in carrying out his designs, etc.
Jonah offers a sharp contrast to the other prophets along several lines, viz.:—
His character: disobedient, ignoble.
His mission: To a heathen city.
His success: Unparalleled.
His predictions: Failed.
However, Jonah was nevertheless a prophet of God, whose predictions at another time came true. See 2 Kings 14:25. He was from Gath-Hephes, in Galilee, tho contradicted by the unscrupulous or else ignorant Pharisees when they wished to gain a point of argument.—John 7:52.
Our Lord applied Jonah’s experiences in connection with the fish as being typical of himself.—Matt. 12:39,40.
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In “Old Theology” Tract No. 41, Jonah 3:10; 4:11 is referred to, as a testimony from this prophet in regard to “the restitution of all things.” In view of these references being given as proof, the inference evidently is that Nineveh in some way foreshadowed the world in the Millennial age. With this view, I have wondered whether Jonah in his disobedience and fleeing from God might have represented Adam, and hence also our Lord Jesus who took the sinner’s place.
Jonah’s disobedient course led to the sea where he took ship. Christ’s sacrificial course (taking the sinner’s place) brought him in contact with the Jewish people.
The Revelator tells us that water is a symbol of “peoples, nations and tongues.”—Rev. 17:15.
The agitated waters in Jonah’s case find a parallel in the lawless mob, which clamored for Christ’s death. The air in motion (wind) which agitated the water may represent Satan, “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) which then had freedom to work (Luke 23:53). The ship, being at the mercy of the sea, may represent the Roman government, and the crew might represent Pilate; for as the crew prayed to be considered innocent for casting Jonah overboard, so Pilate washed his hands, declaring his innocence, being forced to deliver Christ to death.
If these premises be true, may they not also be applicable to some extent to all the members of Christ’s body, who, like Christ, have been accused of being the real sinners, “turning the world upside down,” named heretics all through the Gospel age, and one government after another, like the Roman, has been compelled by God’s nominal people to exterminate them, to cast them overboard.
Since Jonah in his experience with the fish typified our Lord’s death and resurrection “on the third day,” may he not also typify the church, the Lord’s body, which is to be raised on the third thousand-year-day?—See Z.W.T. 1901, page 122.
If Jonah, then, when cast ashore by the fish, represents The Christ resurrected, then the application of the reference in tract No. 41 seem to be quite forceful, as Jonah would then represent the great prophet, and Nineveh the world.
Forty days was the length of Nineveh’s trial time. The number forty seems to be associated in several instances with a time of trial, for instance, Israel’s forty years in the wilderness; Christ’s temptation, forty days; the Jewish and Gospel harvests, 40 years each. May it be that Nineveh’s forty days of repentance indicate in this way the 1,000 years of the world’s trial time?
But did Jonah’s predictions really fail?
No, the old, the wicked Nineveh did perish. In its place came repentant Nineveh. So with the world in the Millennial age: The wicked shall be destroyed, but there will be opportunities for all to have the wickedness cleansed out, and thus be spared. (See the double cleansing process—”burning” and “judgment,” in Isa. 4:4.)
One thing is sure, and that is that Jonah does not in his murmuring represent The Christ. May be the murmuring experiences are only practical lessons, or, may it be that Jonah in this represents a class that poses as God’s mouthpieces, but who do not like this “Millennial nonsense” of having Nineveh spared? If so, would the “gourd” which pleased, and which shielded Jonah, be suggestive of the “Confederacy,” the “Image of the Beast,” which will grow up very suddenly and shield the gray heads of the D.D.’s for a short while from the scorching rays of the sun of truth?
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THE MESSAGE OF THE RISEN CHRIST
—REVELATION 1:10-20—JUNE 11—
Golden Text:—”I am he that liveth and was dead: and, behold, I am alive for evermore”
THE messages of our glorious Lord, sent through the Apostle John and given to us in the symbols of the book of Revelation, are as truly the Savior’s messages as those uttered during his earthly ministry and those subsequently sent us through the apostles.
The book of Revelation was written at a time when severe persecution was upon the infant Church—near the close of the first century, probably A.D. 93-96, in the reign of the Emperor Domitian, though some date it nearly thirty years earlier, in the reign of Nero. No matter—in either case it was written at a time of special peril and severe persecution. For a time the Lord allowed the truth to become well planted and to take root; the gifts of miracles and other gifts in the Church at that time assisted in this matter.
For a time, although there were persecutions of individuals such as are recorded in Acts, the believers as a whole were not subjected to the severest of trials at first. It was when the truth began to spread, and had not only the enmity of the Jews but also of the Greeks, that emperors and governors found favor with the masses by persecuting the followers of Jesus. And for aught we know, so it will be in the not-far-distant future. For a long time the pure truth has been hidden from men, and worldliness in the form of godliness has had the upper hand in influential circles; but doubtless, as the troublous times the Scriptures predict for the end of this age draw closer, those who will stand firm for the word of the Lord’s testimony may expect to be made the scapegoats under various pretexts. We shall not be surprised to find a considerable measure of persecution against all the children of the light, who will walk up to the light, developed within the next seven years. John, the beloved disciple, in some measure or degree typified or represented the last living members of the little flock. Doubtless this was the meaning of our Lord’s statement, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” John did not tarry, but a class whom he in some respects illustrated are represented to tarry—a class who see with the eyes of their understanding the visions and revelations which John saw in symbols in a trance.
John at the time of the trance vision was a prisoner, exiled to the Isle of Patmos, a penal colony of those days—an island almost uninhabitable, rocky barren. The crime for which he suffered this banishment
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was his faithfulness as a mouthpiece of the Lord. At the time he must have been between sixty and ninety years of age, supposing that none of our Lord’s disciples were younger than himself at the beginning of his ministry. If his exile in any degree symbolized ostracism, which the Lord’s followers may expect in the close of this age—a complete isolation from others and a treatment implying that they are prisoners—we may take comfort in the thought that as the Lord’s favor and revelations to John more than offset his persecutions, so the opening of the eyes of our understandings and the granting to us of greater lengths and breadths and heights and depths of knowledge and appreciation of our Lord and his plan will far more than offset the various experiences which in his providence he may permit to come upon us. His assurance is that all things shall work together for good to those who love God, to the called ones according to his purpose. Whoever rests his faith securely upon his promise may indeed with the Apostle Paul count all tribulations as loss and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.
ON THE LORD’S DAY
Presumably John referred to the first day of the week, now generally called Sunday. It is peculiarly to us the Lord’s day—the day on which our Lord rose from the dead, and on which all the promises of God’s Word received life and our hopes through Christ were quickened. We may see in the expression also a reference to the Millennial age, called in the Scriptures frequently, “The day of Christ.” We, today, according to our understanding of chronology, are living in the early dawn of this day of Christ, and it is here and now properly that we begin to see the wonderful things of the divine character and plan. But to see these things, to understand these things, we must be in the spirit. Only those who have become new creatures in Christ Jesus can be expected to understand and appreciate spiritual things, and this is the class whom John represented. As John heard a voice behind him and looked in that direction, so we who now are having the realities find that the message is behind us, and turn and look toward the past to see the fulfilment of the various features of the divine plan and to hear and understand the message given to his people by the risen Lord. The voice said, “What thou seest write in a book and send to the seven churches”—naming seven prominent churches in Asia Minor. (The words, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last,” are not found in the oldest Greek manuscripts and are properly omitted in the Revised Version. These words, however, do occur in the Greek MSS. in verse 8 and again in Revelation 21:6, and a portion of them later on in this lesson.)
There are many reasons for concluding that while the messages were given to the seven churches specified and were applicable to them, they should properly have a still wider application to the whole Church of Christ, the number seven representing completeness and the order representing different epochs in the history of the Church. Thus the Church at Ephesus would represent the condition of the Church in the Apostle’s days at the time of the writing of the messages, while the Laodicean Church would represent the Church in our day—in the end of this Gospel age. The other churches would correspondingly represent different epochs intermediate, between the beginning and now. To think otherwise would be to attach more importance to those seven comparatively small churches of Asia Minor than they would seem to have deserved, and would have implied an ignoring of other churches more numerous and more influential than they; as, for instance, the churches at Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Colosse, Philippi, Thessalonica, etc. Furthermore, the details of the messages given to these seven churches apply to and fit historically the one Church of the living God, over every member and branch of which the Lord has a care. This thought, that the seven represented completeness, we find emphasized in the other symbolical representations—in the seven golden candlesticks, the seven stars, etc.
SEVEN GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS
Turning and looking, John saw in symbol as we may now see with the eye of faith and understanding. He saw one like a Son of man [like a man—like a priest, as implied by the clothes described] walking amongst seven golden candlesticks, caring for them, trimming the wicks, seeing to the supply of oil, etc. We see that our Lord Jesus, our glorified Master, although absent from us, has been present with his Church throughout the past eighteen centuries and more, protecting the interests of his cause and directing in respect to all of his people’s affairs, especially inspecting and caring for the Church as a light bearer, a candlestick. Alas, how poor the wicks sometimes have been, how feeble the light that has sometimes shone out into the darkness, how much of trimming has been necessary and how much more may yet be necessary!
In the Tabernacle, and subsequently in the Temple of Solomon, the golden candlesticks or lampstands were placed by the Lord’s direction—not seven candlesticks, but one with seven branches, representing the whole Church, the complete Church during this Gospel age. In Revelation the same candlestick or lampstand is brought to our attention, but the parts are separated—the union, the relationship between them, being supplied by our Redeemer, the antitypical High Priest. The lampstand symbolized the Lord’s nominal people of this Gospel age, including his “members.” It holds forth the light of life, the light that shines in the darkness and which he directed should be so let shine before men that they might see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven. Alas! the Master evidently found but few good works, but little glorifying light shining out from his earthly representatives in many of these epochs. This is represented by his messages, chidings, encouragements, etc., given to each of these epoch churches represented by the different candlesticks or lampstands. It is to be noted that the lampstand represents the nominal Church of Christ rather than the true. This is shown by the fact that in the Lord’s addressing each of these lampstands or churches he finds fault with the many
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and approves the few, especially so in the last, the seventh, the Laodicean Church of our day.
THE APPEARANCE OF CHRIST
We are not to regard the word-picture of verses 13-16 as a portrait of our Lord in glory. It is a symbolical picture merely. He will not look as here described when we see him as he is and behold his glory. This symbolical picture, nevertheless, has precious lessons for us, more useful than an attempt to describe to our minds the appearance of our Lord as a spirit being, “dwelling in light which no man can approach unto,” and which we cannot appreciate until we shall be “changed” and be like him and see him as he is.
His head and hair as white as wool and snow tell us of his wisdom, and that he is the “Ancient of Days;” they speak also of splendor and purity. His eyes like a flame of fire tell us in symbol that our Master is all-seeing, omniscient; that he is not deceived by outward forms or ceremonies, but can and does read every thought and intent of the heart. The contemplation of his glance should of itself purge and purify our hearts to the extent of ability, to put far from us everything which would have his disapproval.
Having described the head John mentions the hands and feet. The remainder of the body was covered with a garment which reached from his head to his feet. This may possibly represent the fact that the glory of Christ was manifested in his own person, in his own ministry and in that of his twelve apostles, his representatives, and that with their death the body of Truth was almost completely veiled throughout the eighteen centuries intervening until now, in the end of the age, the feet members will be illuminated by the Truth and shine forth—not like the Head, but as polished brass. When we think of the great advantage every way which we of the present age possess, we are inclined to say, What manner of persons ought we to be in all holiness of living and God-likeness. We who have the focused rays of divine inspiration and revelation from the past 6,000 years shining upon us with almost burning brightness, how it should consume in us all the dross of selfishness, how it should purify us, how humble it should make us, how we should be even in our flesh polished, bright, luminous representatives of the glorious Head and members of the Christ!
“IN HIS RIGHT HAND SEVEN STARS”
The countenance of the majestic one present amongst the candlesticks is represented as being like lightning. This reminds us of Daniel’s description of the holy one who communicated the message of God to him upon one occasion; it reminds us of Paul’s description of the great light that he saw on his way to Damascus, which represented to his understanding the glorified Lord shining above the brightness of the sun at noonday. So great was the splendor that John fell as dead when he beheld it, just as Daniel fell prostrated and was like a dead man in the presence of the mighty one whom he saw, and just as Saul of Tarsus fell down before the majesty displayed to him. So symbolically with us, when once we get a glimpse of the glories of the divine character through the divine plan, when once we get a true view with the eyes of our understanding of him with whom we have to do, as the great heart-searcher and caretaker of his Church, we fall before him humbled to the dust, realizing that we are imperfect, that we cannot stand before our Master, that we are unworthy of his favor and blessing. But as he touched John gently, raising him up, so he has
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spoken to us comfort, peace and love, assuring us that we have not an High-Priest that cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, but, on the contrary, one who is able to sympathize and mercifully to assist, one who has bought us with his own precious blood, who has accepted us and will number us as his body members so long as we abide in him, seeking in our hearts to know and to do his will.
His comforting assurance to us is (1) “Fear not.” The same message that the Father sent us through the prophet Isaiah, saying, “Their fear of me is not of me, but is taught by the precepts of men.” (Isa. 29:13.) This lesson, “Fear not,” is one of the first that we must learn. We cannot come into close sympathy with our Lord and be taught of him respecting other features of his plan until we learn this lesson, “Fear not,” until we learn to have confidence in him as the one who loved us and bought us with his precious blood, and whose purposes toward us continually are for our welfare and, if we submit ourselves to his guidance, to bring us off conquerors and more than conquerors. (2) “I am the First and the Last.” We must recognize our Lord as the one who was the beginning of the creation of God and the end of it, the one by whom were all things, the one who is next to the Father, his very representative in everything pertaining to the affairs of the universe.
(3) We must recognize him as the one who was dead, the one who really died for our sins, but who as really was raised out of death by the power of the Father. (4) We must realize that he is alive for evermore, that death has no more dominion over him, that the work is finished, that neither sacrifices of the mass nor death in any other sense or form has dominion over him nor ever will have, nor will ever be needed; his work is perfect, and, as he cried on the cross, “It is finished.” (5) We must recognize that he has the keys, the authority, the power over the tomb, to deliver from it all who are there imprisoned. We must also realize that he has the “key,” the power over death, so that those whom he liberates from the prison-house of death, the tomb, like those who have not yet gone into it but who are under the sentence of death, may all be ultimately delivered, set free from the dominion of sin and death, delivered into the full liberty of the sons of God, righteousness and life eternal.
It is this one whom we thus know, thus recognize as the instructor and caretaker of the candlesticks, the churches; whom we are to recognize also as having in his right hand, in his favor as well as in his power, seven stars—the angels or messengers of the seven churches. These stars apparently represent special ministers
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or servants of the Church. In Revelation 12:1 the Church is pictured as a woman crowned with twelve stars. These stars evidently represent the twelve apostles as the special lights of the Church. Similarly, in the picture before us, the seven stars which the Lord holds in his right hand seem to represent special light-bearers in the Church—in each of the seven phases or developments. That they are held in his right hand seems to teach us that these should be considered as in some special sense under the Master’s guidance and protection and care in the interest of the churches which they represented.
It will be noticed that the messages to the various churches are all addressed to these stars or messengers or angels of the churches, as though he would have us understand that the appropriate message for each appropriate time or epoch in the Church’s experience would be sent by the Lord through a particular star or messenger whom he would particularly commission as his representative. Our Lord himself is represented by the great light of the sun, and his special messengers in the Church throughout the entire period are consistently enough represented as stars. The difference between the figures of the star and the candlestick is manifest: the star light is the heavenly light, the spiritual enlightenment or instruction; the lamp light is the earthly light, representing good works, obedience, etc., of those who nominally constitute the Lord’s Church in the world and who are exhorted not to put their light under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and to let their light so shine as to glorify their Father in heaven.
A SHARP, TWO-EDGED SWORD
No part of the description could more thoroughly convince us that the description of our Lord here given is a symbolical one than does this statement that out of his mouth proceeded a two-edged sword. As a symbolic picture, however, it is full of meaning to us. It speaks of the word of the Lord as the sword of the Spirit, “sharper than any two-edged sword.” It reminds us that our Lord’s words are not one-sided, not merely directed against sin in one class, that his word is sharp and cutting in every direction, that sin is reproved by him as much when found in his most earnest followers as when found elsewhere. It assures us that none need attempt to pluck out the mote from his brother’s eye without getting rid of the beam in his own eye. It assures us that if we do not show mercy to those who are our debtors we must not expect mercy from him who has proposed to extend his mercy to us.
How heart-searching is the Word of God when we get to understand it—not merely as a compendium of rules and regulations, but when we come to catch the spirit of it, when we come to see that its requirement is love out of a pure heart, first to the Father, secondly to our Lord and Head, thirdly to all his brethren, fourthly to the world in general, groaning and travailing in pain, waiting for the glorious blessings of the coming day, and fifthly, sympathetically toward our enemies also, realizing that they are warped and twisted and blinded through the deceitfulness of sin and through the machinations of the great Adversary.
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THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM
—REVELATION 22:1-11—JUNE 18—
Golden Text:—”To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.”—Rev. 3:21
THOSE who claim that God’s Kingdom was set up in power at Pentecost, and that it since has been conquering the world, and that it will proceed until God’s will is done on earth as in heaven, and that then Christ’s second advent will take place and he will say, Well done, I could not have done better myself, and that then he will proceed to take all the faithful to heaven and to burn up the world;—these dear friends have a specially hard task before them when they touch upon the book of Revelation, as the present International Sunday lesson does. They must admit that the first three chapters, containing the messages to the churches, imply nothing of the kind. Referring to seven different epochs in the Church’s history, they suggest nothing to the effect that the Church is now reigning, but, quite to the contrary, that it will be a suffering Church down to the very last. It promises a coming reign to those who faithfully endure the trials of the present time preceding the reign. Each one of the messages closes with an exhortation, To him that overcometh, I will grant, etc.
All the intervening chapters between the third and the twentieth deal with conflicts between good and evil, and evidently cover the entire period of this Gospel age; yet in all of these presentations the evil is shown to be triumphant, and the people of the saints of the Most High God are worn out and cry from under the altar, etc. Not much a reign of righteousness that, surely! and how thinking people close their minds to all this is passing strange.
It is at the conclusion of this book of symbols, from the eighteenth to the twenty-second chapters, that the close of this Gospel age and the inauguration of the Millennial age is pictured, and the triumph of the Lord and of his saints is shown. The introduction of that reign of righteousness, Christ’s Millennial Kingdom, is shown, marked by wonderful events connected with our Lord’s second advent, the glorification of his Church, the binding of Satan, the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, the blessing of the world, the scattering of its darkness, ignorance, etc. One would think that, even with no knowledge of the symbols of Revelation, no thinking Christian should have any difficulty in realizing that the book portrays trouble for the Church throughout this Gospel age and the triumphant Millennial reign at its close.
Our lesson pertains to the New Jerusalem, which in the preceding context is described as “coming down
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from heaven as a Bride prepared for her Husband”—beautiful, pure, gorgeous, resplendent. The City represents the Church in glory, this being indicated by the declaration that it was like unto a bride prepared for her husband, and the further demonstration is in the fact that the angel who called to John, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the Lamb’s wife,” showed him the New Jerusalem descending, etc.—Rev. 21:9,10.
The words of the Apostle comparing the earthly Jerusalem with the heavenly corroborate the angel’s testimony. The entire Gospel age has been the time for the preparation of this New Jerusalem. In one figure we are the city, in another we are the people of the city. The walls are living stones, such as the Apostle Peter describes; the foundation stones are the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The city as a whole comprises all the saints, from our Lord, the Head, down to and including the last member of the Church, which is his body. Not until all these have been chosen and found
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faithful and fitted and prepared for their places, will this city descend to earth in power and come into the possession or control of the earth. The coming of that city to the earth is the symbolical representation of the establishment of God’s Kingdom in the earth, for a city is a symbol representing government, control. Thus Washington City represents the United States government, St. Petersburg the Russian government, Paris the French government, Rome the Italian, Berlin the German, London the British, etc.
“THE RIVER OF THE WATER OF LIFE”
The throne of God and of the Lamb is represented as being in this city. That is to say, the Kingdom, the government that will then be established in the world, will have as its center of authority the divine law and the divine power—every feature of the government will be in accord with the divine will. From the throne of God will proceed the river of the water of life, of crystalline purity, not muddy traditions with false doctrines. No impurity of any kind will be in it: it will be the pure message of the Lord, going forth from the Millennial Kingdom for the blessing, refreshment, rejuvenation and eternal life of the whole world of mankind or so many of them as will accept the blessed provisions. Not only will the message of peace and the offer of life thus go forth from the throne to the whole world, but, additionally, there will be trees of life on both sides of the river, bearing twelve manner of fruits and yielding their fruits every month, and the leaves of these shall be for the healing of the nations.
The symbolic picture suggests nourishment and healing for the sin-sick, starving world, which then may partake freely of all the blessings and privileges thus symbolized. No longer will it be necessary to say to men, “The weaknesses of your fallen flesh will be with you until death, for although the Lord has graciously covered your sins because of faith in the Redeemer and the desire to walk in his way, nevertheless there is no escape from the consequences of sin, there is nothing that will absolutely heal.” When the new dispensation, represented by this symbolical city and its river of the water of life and the trees of life with their leaves of healing, is made available to men, it will be the beginning of the times of restitution spoken by the Lord through the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:19-21.) The restitution will affect all the willing and obedient, not only physically but mentally and morally: the uplift will be individual and world-wide. This is the very object of providing the river of life, the trees of life, their fruits and their leaves.
“WHOSOEVER WILL MAY COME”
The call of this Gospel age is a limited one, “He that hath an ear, let him hear,” and let him come, and, coming, be one of the elect. But the majority of our race cannot hear the message in the present time, hence cannot come, hence cannot be of the elect. The Scriptures clearly indicate a reserve in the matter of the Lord’s grace at the present time, our Lord’s word on the subject being, “No man can come unto me except the Father which sent me draw him.” Again, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me.” This Gospel age is the period in which the Father is drawing the Church to be the Bride of Christ, but as soon as the marriage of the Lamb shall have taken place, as soon as the New Jerusalem, the Church in glory, shall have been established in the earth, the drawing of all the families of the earth will ensue. They will not be drawn, however, to the same things to which we have been drawn; they will not be drawn to the heavenly things, to the joint-heirship with Christ in his Kingdom; they will not be invited to become members of his Bride, for that Bride class, that Kingdom class, will then be completely beyond the possibility of any further additions.
This river of the water of life represents the blessed influence that will proceed to humanity from the glorified Christ, Head and body—from the Kingdom of God’s dear Son. When the blessed opportunities of that time are thoroughly open to the world, when the Sun of Righteousness shall have scattered all the darkness of ignorance and sin, when Satan shall have been bound, when the river of the water of life shall flow freely, then the invitation that will go forth will no longer be a call of the elect, but an invitation to every creature, every member of the human race, to partake of the blessings and privileges which God has provided in Christ, that they may have the everlasting life and everlasting joy which is to be the portion of those who love righteousness and hate iniquity, and who avail themselves of the gracious provision in Christ.
The statement respecting that glorious time and message is, “And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, Come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.”—Verse 17.
There will be a Bride then, but there is no Bride now. The Church is espoused, but the marriage of the Lamb is still deferred, not yet accomplished. The last members of his Church must complete their course, must pass their examination and enter into glory with him before the marriage be consummated. But after the marriage there will be not only the holy city, representing
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the Church in her official or governing capacity under Christ her Head, but there will be also the blessed work of the Church, the calling of the world’s attention to the river of the water of life, to the leaves of healing, to the fruits of the Spirit; and the Spirit, the power of God, will co-operate with the message that will then be promulgated, and the result undoubtedly will be that all the world shall hear, and that all who love righteousness and hate iniquity will return again to life eternal. It will require all the Millennial age for the delivery of this message to every creature and for them to avail themselves of the privileges.
It will be remembered that the Scriptures nowhere speak of the river of the water of life now. There is none, and can be none until the heavenly city descends, because the river must flow from the midst of it, from the throne. Describing the condition of the Lord’s saints at the present time very differently, the Lord declares that those who are his have in them a well of water springing up into life eternal. We know what this is, we know in what sense each individual of the Church has received of his Spirit, has in him a fountain of grace and truth for his refreshment; but there is no river of the water of life to which he could go or to which he could invite others to go.
“THE HEALING OF THE NATIONS”
It should not be overlooked that the healing and refreshment mentioned in this symbolization does not pertain to the “little flock,” the Church, but to the world, the nations. The little flock will have been glorified, perfected in the first resurrection, before this offer of healing and restitution of the world is made. Undoubtedly Israel will be the first of the nations to be blessed, but subsequently all the families of the earth, as God’s oath-bound covenant has promised.
The glorious blessings and favors of that Millennial period, set apart by the Lord and declared by the mouth of all the holy prophets to be times of restitution of all things spoken of, is summed up most completely in the declaration, “There shall be no more curse.” In what more comprehensive language could the Lord declare the end of the reign of sin and death and the commencement of the reign of righteousness unto life eternal. There is a curse upon the world now, official, legal. It has been against us as a race for six thousand years. It is a curse or sentence of death. Although our dear Redeemer has died, the Just for the unjust, although he was made a curse for us, nevertheless up to the present time release from the curse has come to only a small proportion of the race. In the Father’s plan the only ones released from the curse, the only ones who have yet escaped the condemnation which is still on the world, is the class which has accepted Christ and is trusting in him.
These are not justified outwardly, actually, but are justified in God’s sight, justified by faith. The world realizes not their justification and can appreciate it only by the exercise of faith. By faith they may realize that their sins were laid on Jesus and that his righteousness is imputed to them. Those who can thus exercise the necessary faith have had the opportunity during this Gospel age of consecrating their justified lives, to have fellowship with Jesus in the sufferings of this present time, to have fellowship in his death, to be dead with him. The promise to these is that if faithful in this matter they shall live and be with their Lord, partakers of his glory and sharers in his future work on behalf of the world.
With the end of this age, when the last members of the body shall have finished their course and be glorified with him, he as the great High Priest and they as the under priests, his members, will be prepared to bless the world. Then will be presented to the Father on behalf of the world the merit which came from our dear Redeemer’s death on behalf of all, shared by those who rejoiced to suffer with him and who are accepted. Then divine justice will declare the lifting of the curse from all the world of mankind, and then the work of graciously blessing and uplifting and helping them out of their sinful conditions into life everlasting will be possible and will begin. There shall be no more “curse” against humanity, but, on the contrary, they may have fellowship with the Lord, and the throne of his grace and the evidences of his favor will be theirs, and all who desire shall have the opportunity to serve him. All the night of darkness, ignorance, superstition and sin will be past; no longer will the world be dependent for light upon the imperfect shining of such little candles as the Lord’s people now are.
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All who come into accord with the Lord shall see his face—that is, there will be no earth-born cloud between, no hindrances to the Father’s love and favor, and his name shall be in their foreheads. They will confess him, they will have his likeness, the various elements which go to make up his glorious name and character will be theirs and will be manifest in their faces. If, even now, under present imperfect conditions, the light of grace and truth in the heart transforms the outward features and makes them more and more bright and glorious, much more, we are sure, will this be true of those who at that time shall come under the influence of the light of divine favor and have their hearts filled with the Lord’s spirit and truth.
“THEY SHALL REIGN”
The developments of that Millennial age will bring the willing and obedient of the human family back to the original perfection, the image and likeness of God, and once more they will have direct communication with the Lord and not merely his written messages through apostles and prophets as now. “And they shall reign forever and ever.” This does not refer to the Church, whose reign has been previously described. The reference is to the reign of those whom the Millennial age shall find worthy of life eternal—all the unworthy being then cut off in the second death. The account here is in full accord with that of Matthew 25:34—the sheep of that age will at its close be received into the fullest fellowship with the Lord, the goats of that period being destroyed.
The nature of the reign then to be delivered to the
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world we have already considered on other occasions, and shown that it will be the same reign or kingdom which at his creation was bestowed upon father Adam, as it is written in Psalm 8:6, “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. Thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen with the beasts of the field and fowl of the air and fish of the sea.” This dominion of earth was part of what father Adam lost by his disobedience, and was a part, therefore, of what our Lord Jesus purchased by his obedience even unto death, and is to be an element of the restitution to be accomplished during the Millennial reign of Christ.
At the close of that reign the Kingdom shall be delivered up to God, even the Father, by being delivered over to those for whom the Father originally intended it, and who by that time will have been fully prepared to receive it. The whole world of perfect men will be a world of kings, though doubtless one of their number will serve particularly as general or representative, just as in the Republic every individual is a sovereign and from their own number they choose a sovereign, a servant.
“SAYINGS FAITHFUL AND TRUE”
Having pictured the work of restitution down to its consummation in the delivery of the kingdom to man, in harmony with the Father’s intention, the address of the revelation changes. We are assured that these wonderful promises are faithful and true, that the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly come to pass. Then the Master speaks to all of his Church who have ears to hear, saying, “Behold, I come quickly: Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” The intimation seems to be that the book being symbolical, none can understand it except as its seals are loosed, as its message opens before the Lord’s people; and that when its sayings, its teachings come to be appreciated, it may be recognized by those who do understand it as an evidence that the Lord’s second advent and the establishment of his Kingdom are close at hand.
This thought is further borne out by the statement of verse 8. As we have already seen, John the revelator represented those favored members of the Church who, living in this end of the Gospel age, are granted the privilege of seeing and appreciating more and more the things which he saw in symbol. The revelation being complete, John fell down before the angel who had given him the revelation to offer him worship. This may signify that in the end of this Gospel age as the whole Church, the John class, comes to see the unfolding of the divine plan, there might be a spirit or disposition amongst them to do too much honor to the one used of the Lord in communicating to them the divine light now due.
The proprieties of the case are set forth to us in the conduct of the symbolical angel who talked to John and who represented some in the end of this age commissioned to present God’s truths to his people. He said, “See thou do it not”—do not worship me, for I am not the author of this plan. I am thy fellow servant, a brother to all the prophets and all those who keep the message of this revelation. God alone should be worshiped: he is the Author of the great plan and will be the finisher of it. It is brought to our attention now by him because it is now “due time” for his people to come to an appreciation of his plans.
“RIGHTEOUS OR FILTHY STILL”
The same thought continues: At the time that the features of this symbolical revelation shall come to be understood and appreciated by the Lord’s people, they may know that the time of the completion is near at hand. They are not to feel it necessary to hide the matter. “Seal not the sayings of this book, for the time is at hand.” Furthermore, we are not to expect that the telling of this message, the explaining of the divine plan, will have the effect of converting the world. It was not intended to do this and will not do it. Notwithstanding the unfolding of the divine plan, this knowledge will only be for a special class for whom it was intended, namely, the Lord’s people—”None of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.” So far as the revelations of the divine plan are concerned they are not intended to turn the filthy to make them righteous, nor will they be inclined contrarywise to turn the righteous to sin. So far as these revelations are concerned they who are righteous may be righteous still, they who are filthy may be filthy still, they who are holy may be holy still.
How true it is that Present Truth, although in many respects full of comfort and encouragement to the Church in respect to their dear friends who are out of Christ, has no effect whatever upon those who love sin, who are filthy, who are unrighteous. It appeals only to those who are already righteously inclined. This does not mean that it appeals only to those who are saints, who are holy. There are some who are not saints because they have never properly grasped the conditions of the divine call of the present time, but who are, nevertheless, righteous persons, persons who desire to live uprightly, honorably, honestly, who are sincere and truthful in their own hearts and in their dealings with others so far as their knowledge permits. To these lovers of righteousness, of truth, as well as to the holy, the revelations of the divine plan now unfolding commend themselves, and intensify their love for righteousness and appreciation of full consecration to the Lord.
On the other hand the unrighteous and the filthy simply ignore this message and are not moved specially by it. During the Millennial Kingdom time, however, we may expect that the vigorous processes of the kingdom will correct many of these filthy and unrighteous, and ultimately develop many of them into lovers of the Light and the Truth and the Way, bringing many of them into full fellowship with the Lord, which will secure to them life everlasting.
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BIBLE STUDIES FOR JUNE
BELOW we announce the prepared lessons for June. Word reaches us that the dear friends who have adopted these studies are growing more and more interested in them. They open up so thorough a study of the topics and give all opportunity to participate that they supply more “meat,” more spiritual nourishment, than can generally be obtained in the same time.
We recommend these studies for one of the meetings you usually have or for a new meeting if those now held are all too good to be displaced. Something of this kind is surely needed to refresh the mind along lines already partly understood.
The topic is quite sufficient for one session each on the four Sundays of June—say four questions or so each. If possible have each one who can and will read distinctly take a part. For instance, five could share in the first question, three in the second, three in the third, three in the fourth, thirteen in all. If there are fewer than thirteen willing to take part, give more than one reference to the more competent. In no case should an indifferent reader be given a lengthy selection or reference. The success of the study depends greatly on the wisdom of the leader, who should apportion the references the Sunday previous to the meeting, and assist the friends every way as a true “under shepherd,” seeing that ample opportunities are afforded for the reverential investigation of each topic. The leader should briefly sum up the findings of the class on each question before proceeding to the next, and in conclusion should summarize briefly all the questions and the Scriptural answers found. These are the Sunday evening lessons of the Allegheny Church at the Bible House Chapel.
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What is the importance of self-control? Prov. 25:28; 16:32; E.125, par. 1; Z.’01-295 (2d col. par. 2,3); Z.’01-326 (1st and 2d cols.)
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Is self-control necessary in the interest of others? 1 Cor. 8:13; Z.’03-43 (1st col. par. 2) to 45; Z.’97-234 (2d col. par. 1.)
Are we to be “temperate in all things”? 1 Cor. 9:25; Z.’97-147, (2d col. par. 2); Z.’97-76 (2d col. par. 1 to 4.)
Does self-control imply purification of the thoughts and intents of the heart? 1 Jno. 3:3; Z.’99-216 (1st col. par. 1); Z.’01-324 (1st col. par. 1,2.)
Does temperance or self-control apply to our language? Jas. 1:19,26; Col. 4:6; Eccl. 5:2; Z.’98-250 (1st col. par. 3); Z.’99-75 (2d col. par. 1.)
Does self-control extend to business affairs? 1 Tim. 6:10; Z.’98-250 (2d. col. par. 1.)
Why is temperance necessary in our eating and drinking? 1 Cor. 10:31; Z.’98-250 (2d col. par. 2.)
Should we be temperate in our joys as well as in our sorrows? Z.’98-251 (1st col. par. 1,2); Z.’05-94 (1st col. par. 2.)
Is it possible to be intemperate in studying the Scriptures and in attending religious meetings? F.319, par. 1; F.503, par. 1.
What is the relation of the “new will” toward the control of the flesh? 1 Cor. 9:27; F.600, par. 1; F.488, par. 2; F.489, par. 1; Z.’01-296 (1st col. par. 1,2.)
What is the duty of the Church toward those “new creatures” who are lacking in self-control? F.148, par. 2; F.149, par. 1; F.150, par. 1; F.289-292.
Why is self-control an essential qualification in an Elder? Titus 1:7,8; F.251, par. 2; Z.’97-156 (2d col. par. 2); F.249, par. 2; Z.’99-75 (2d col. par. 2); Z.’00-195 (1st col. par. 3.)
Why is it important that parents exercise self-control? Col. 3:21; F.526, par. 1; F.527, par. 1; F.528, par. 1,2; F.530, par. 1,2.
How can suggestion be applied in teaching children self-control? F.551 (par. 1) to 554.
How can we cultivate self-control? Z.’03-421 (1st col. par. 1,2); Z.’98-251 (1st col. par. 4.) (a) By prayer, F.149, par. 1,2. (b) By study of the Word, Z.’02-308 (1st col. par. 1,6; 2d col. par. 1.) (c) By being filled more and more with the Holy Spirit, Z.’02-264 (2d col. par. 4,5); E.275, par. 1; E.283, par. 1,2. (d) By fasting, Z.’98-45 (1st col. par. 2.)
What other most important grace will naturally be developed by attaining a large measure of self-control? Z.’98-251 (1st col. par. 3); Z.’96-222 (1st col. par. 1.)
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
I am seven months old in the Truth. I was one of those baptised at the Boston Convention. This blessed Truth was brought to me by one of your Colporteurs. For four years or more I had been hungering and thirsting for the true Gospel of Christ. I had been to several churches of different denominations, seeking to satisfy this soul hunger, but failed to get what I craved for, so at last I gave up going to any church, and went to God and told him I loved him and wanted to serve him, and him alone, and if he would make known to me the true way to serve him I would sacrifice my whole life in service unto him, even unto death; and there I left myself in his hands. In three months Sr. Boodry came to me with the DAWNS. When I first saw Sr. Boodry she was coming out of my neighbor’s gate, and the thought came to me, if she comes to my door I will invite her in, for she may have something I want.
This was something very unusual for me, as I am generally opposed to canvassers of any description, and if I saw them first, I would lock the door and not answer them; but in this case I could hardly wait till she got in my house, I had such a strong desire to know what she had. When she came in and sat down she had not spoken a half dozen words before I knew my prayer was answered, and I recognized my dear Master’s voice speaking to me through her. From that moment to this, I have never had any doubt as regards this blessed Truth, and every time I take up those blessed DAWNS tears of rejoicing and thankfulness fill my eyes for God’s wonderful favor to me at the present time and for the future blessings that are coming to all mankind in due time. O, praised be God’s name ever more through his dear son, amen.
I am going to do some volunteer work, taking my little boy with me to help me distribute the tracts, and he is delighted to do it.
I remain ever, your Sister in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
We have thought for a long time that we ought to express our gratitude to you for your service rendered to the household of faith in giving out the “meat in due season.” It is a little over four years now since the light of Present Truth reached us, and well do we remember when we first received some of your literature, and through it learned of our Heavenly Father’s plan. How our hearts went out to Him and you as His servant, and we are still very grateful.
We are still rejoicing and how we long to tell the good news, but with our farming work we felt that there was not very much that we could do. But through your encouragement and the much advice and encouragement that we received
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from our dear Brother Owen, wife and I entered the colporteur work, feeling that if we could sell four or five books each day, we would be satisfied.
Since that time, we have, by the help of our Heavenly Father, succeeded in selling over fourteen thousand DAWNS, and we are still rejoicing and have an increasing desire to spread the good news. We are settled here with Sister Roberts for the winter, as my health will not permit me to do much at the work in extreme weather. However, we will do some work here as opportunity offers.
Pray for us that we may continue in this way until our Heavenly Father says, “It is enough, come up higher.” With Christian love to yourself and all the Bible House friends, from us both.
Yours in the one good hope,
W. H. DICKERSON AND WIFE,—Ind.
DEAR BRETHREN:—Believing it might be of interest to you, I will relate how the Truth as presented in Millennial Dawn affected a very rank outspoken Infidel, an old French doctor, 85 years old, an admirer of R. G. Ingersoll, of whom I was warned repeatedly that he was “poison” to all preachers and religious workers.
Unheeding the warnings, I called upon him. After, as a colporteur, stating my business, which seemed to nettle him, he asked if the DAWN taught that the Bible was the inspired word of God. I told him that it did. He at once told me that he wanted nothing further to do with us, and he had enough of Christianity, and that its whole foundation was a fraud and a fake from beginning to end.
I asked leave to intrude further upon his time that he might point out to me wherein the Bible was a fake, and for what purpose.
After a weak attempt to entangle the Bible account of Creation, the Levitical Priesthood, etc., he left the Bible and attacked modern theology, and the “so-called Christian governments” as he expressed it.
After being informed that our mission was not to bolster up any creed or theory as held by the several Churches, but that it was rather to show and prove the harmony of the Bible with itself, as in contrast with all man-made theologies, which are casting so much reproach upon the Bible, he began to give ear attentively, and finally ordered the first volume of DAWN.
I have called upon him several times since, and really, words cannot justly describe the wonderful change in the spirit and disposition of this man—once haughty and sarcastic, he is now friendly and docile. He has become so interested in “The Plan of the Ages,” that he has solicited orders among other free thinkers, and had me leave an extra DAWN in his office for him to sell for me.
Just how he will use this knowledge of the Truth is left for time to tell. For my part I am thankful for the privilege of scattering a few, at least, of the precious seeds of Truth, even though some fall upon stony soil.
With much Christian love, your brother in Hope,
It will interest and gratify you to hear that I have had a reading of the six volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN, which I got from a brother who acts as Colporteur in this locality, disseminating these works and other tracts and booklets from the branch Australian depot in Melbourne.
I had my early teaching in the U. Presbyterian school, but for long years I have severed myself from that teaching, and for some time I have been associated with believers in “Life in Christ only,” known as Conditional Immortality. Much of what truth you give we have long found and accepted, but I must confess that until I have been led to carefully read your works many of the vast problems in Scripture remained mysteries. I testify that your modest offer of a “helping hand” has been more than affording some light, a ray of light, but has come as an opened door, revealing a flood of light. Thank God for this. To him be all the praise. I am now re-reading these works, and shall apply all my intellect and intelligence to grasp this teaching. I have circulated quite a number of the DAWNS and created much interest in my circle of friends. I am in my 62nd year and feel situated like one called at the eleventh hour. Yours in the faith,
JOSEPH HEATLEY,—New Zealand.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
The Colporteur service is indeed richly blest to me, in accord with your kind prayer in letter of Feb. 23 and the Lord’s presence does lend much of bliss in the narrow way. Through pain and disease I have had to smile with inward joy (as who can help doing, no matter how we feel, if the Lord smiles on us?) and sing in heart those comforting old hymns, “How Firm a Foundation,” “Close to Thee,” “He Justly Claims a Song from Me,” “Nearer, My God to Thee,” and also “Trusting in Jesus” and “I’ve a Message from the Lord.”
I half wondered last Thursday night whether I should live till morning, having taken fresh cold Wednesday afternoon and being in the greatest physical discomfort. But I was never more blissfully happy in my life, in the thought of the Lord’s glorious presence and favor. How absurdly impossible that would seem to anyone outside the Church! And next morning your kind letter was received and the pain felt better and has been better since.
But I realize that the earthly life must necessarily fade; yet there must be for me a narrow way of assured faith even in the matter of health—a path between indolence and reckless overwork and exposure. Am tempted sometimes to great disappointment that I could do so little for the Lord in his harvest this past winter (I am so thankful that it is past), yet I surely believe that his blessing rests upon the desire and endeavor to serve faithfully just as richly as though I had succeeded in my own eyes. He may not want this city canvassed in such a hurry as I would have enjoyed. His will not mine, be done. I praise his name.
I had a dozen very pleasant little visits yesterday morning with DAWN purchasers in delivering my books. There are lovely people here. At one place, where they found they already had the book but had not read it, I left one of your printed sermons and secured a promise to read the “Plan” and permission to call after a few months to see if they would like the second volume. Another place the lady said she was a converted Catholic, had taken “Father O’Connor’s” paper, and felt she would very much like the DAWN.
I think I will undertake to canvass only on warm, pleasant mornings for a while. Your sister in the faith,
ALICE L. DARLINGTON,—Conn.
HOW THE TRUTH REACHED BRIG.-GENERAL HALL
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
While attending the St. Louis Fair about the middle of last September, I went through a car in the Transportation Building, and there picked up two tracts, “Sequel to Eaton-Russell Debates” and “Criticisms of Millennial Hopes and Prospects Examined.” I read them after a time, and became so much interested in their contents that I procured the first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN and found it interesting beyond anything I ever read. I thank God that I have found it and after a careful study of the same, and reading the other volumes, know that I have a correct understanding of many parts of the Scriptures I never had before. I also thank the kindly hand that placed those tracts in that car, and hope that some of them appealed to many others as they have to me.
Previous to that time I had never heard of MILLENNIAL DAWN. Now I’m trying with God’s help to follow the path made so plain and clear therein. The fact that this wonderful work of yours appealed so strongly to me at once is a great encouragement to me to do the best I can.
Faithfully yours in Christ, W. P. HALL, U.S.A.