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VOL. XXVI. SEPTEMBER 1, 1905. No. 17
Views from the Watch Tower……………………259
A Business Man’s View……………………259
Peace! Peace! When There is No Peace………260
More Darwinism for Sunday Schools…………261
Rev. R. Heber Newton’s Views on Spiritism……262
The Earth Abideth Forever…………………262
Church Disestablishment in France…………263
Beyond the Shadows (Poem)……………………263
Anent Archaeology and Religion…………………263
“A Peculiar People”…………………………264
A Broken Vow—a Fulfilled Penalty………………266
Berean Bible Study for September………………268
The Life-Giving Stream………………………268
Some Interesting Letters………………………270
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LETTERS FOR THE EDITOR SHOULD BE SENT TO ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
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GENERAL CONVENTION, PORTLAND, OREGON, SEPT. 8-10
All sessions of the Convention (except the Sunday afternoon public service) will be held in the “Woodman’s Hall,” corner of East Sixth Street and E. Alder Streets. Brethren arriving over the S.P. line on Friday morning, Sept. 8th, should get off the car at E. Morrison St. station and come direct to the hall, thus saving carfare as well as any inconvenience through transferring. All other brethren arriving on all other lines at any time should come to the Union Depot where arrangements will be made to meet them and direct them to Hall and accommodations. All cars crossing “Morrison Bridge” pass within one or two blocks of the Hall. To get to Hall from Union Depot:—Take “M” car one block south, or “S” car, southbound, three blocks south on Sixth St., ask for “Morrison Bridge” transfer when paying fare, get off at Third and Yamhills Sts. and take any car crossing bridge. Get off at Grand Ave. and look for banner showing location of Hall one block north and one east.
The public service, Sunday afternoon at 3, will be held in the First Methodist Church, corner Third and Taylor Sts., easily reached from all car lines without transfer.
Entertainment.—Good rooms can be obtained in the vicinity of the Convention Hall for 50c, 75c and $1.00 per night for each person, two, three and four in a room. Meals at nearby restaurants can be had for 20c and 25c. Special room rates can be obtained for families or unencumbered brothers or sisters three or four in a room.
It is important that all brethren who anticipate attending the Convention should notify Wm. A. Baker at Couch St. Dock, Portland, Ore., at least two weeks in advance, so that accommodations can be secured. After writing thus for accommodations you may depend upon their being secured and should not attempt to secure rooms for yourselves. This would greatly interfere with arrangements we would make for you.
Letters should state price of rooms desired, number in party, etc. Arrangements will also be made for brethren who cannot afford to pay for accommodations but who can pay their fare to Convention, but in such cases it is also necessary to be advised before date of Convention. Some of the brethren have already written relative to bringing tents and others as to bringing their own blankets, which they can do without extra cost as baggage. All who feel it to their advantage to do so will be taken care of, and where brethren cannot afford to take furnished rooms it is a very good plan. Compliance with the above will greatly facilitate work of the Entertainment Committee and add to the general harmony of the Convention at the opening session.
Railroad Rates.—The regular excursion rate of all roads entering Portland, with tickets on sale at all times, is one and one-third fare, with a thirty-day limit. Parties of ten on one ticket, ten-day limit, one fare for round trip. “Coach parties” from any one locality are made special excursion rates, averaging considerably less than one fare for the round trip. It is suggested to friends in the northwest that they may be able to make joint arrangements with the local committees of the other two Associations (National Letter Carriers’ Association and the “Hoo-Hoos” or Lumbermen) holding their conventions at Portland at this time, for “coach parties,” and thus get the advantage of the lowest possible rate.
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GERMAN HYMN BOOK
We have issued a small book of German hymns, with music, 99 numbers, suitable for general worship, public and social meetings. Uniform with “Zion’s Glad Songs.” Price, 5 cents, postpaid.
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
A BUSINESS MAN’S VIEW
HOW a well-informed business man views the present situation may be of interest as showing that with all the prosperity of business men in recent years, and all their hurry and greed for dollars, they do see some things which touch their own interests.
The following is an extract from the address of Mr. D. M. Parry, before the National Manufacturers’ Association, at its recent session in Atlanta, Georgia. He sees a nearer enemy than “the Yellow Peril.” He said in part, as reported in the public press:
“Before proceeding to a brief consideration of the labor question, I wish to make a few statements respecting the tendency towards Socialism, which, at this time, is being strongly manifested in many ways. The Socialist party last fall cast nearly a half million votes, a remarkable development in strength, and organized labor, composed of over two million employes arrayed in opposition to individualism, continues, according to reports of its officials, to increase its membership. The growth of an avowedly Socialistic party, with its present creed, is certainly a sinister fact to all loyal citizens who understand and appreciate the importance of individual liberty. But while the existence of these organizations is indicative of a serious defection from the individualistic principle by certain classes, yet I believe that a still graver portent of coming evil is to be seen in the Socialistic trend of the thought of the general public as reflected by the press, by public men, and by recent legislative enactments. This trend of thought is having a potent influence on the policies of both the leading political parties, and while the question of individualism and Socialism is not a political issue in the sense that it has caused a division of party lines, it is, nevertheless, a leading issue within the ranks of both parties.
“While the enlargement of the scope and power of government by the purchase and management of certain enterprises has found considerable support among the people, yet I believe the sentiment favorable to Socialistic measures involving the confiscation of profits and the limitation of private management of capital is the more widespread and dangerous. Without making special reference to the aim of the avowed Socialists to bring about the Millennium through undisguised confiscation, we have organized labor and its sympathizers supporting the idea that organizations of men may dictate to a large extent the management of enterprises which they do not own. Besides assuming to say how much wages the employer shall pay and how he shall manage his capital in other respects, the union also presumes to deny the right of the individual to the full control of his own labor, determining for him the rate of wages for which he shall work, the number of hours he shall employ himself and the maximum amount of daily output he shall produce. As eight-hour and anti-injunction legislation is designed to assist the unions in the accomplishment of these objects these measures fall under the classification of Socialistic attempts by confiscation. Still another illustration of this kind of Socialistic propositions, and one which does not proceed from organized labor, is the pending national legislation to have the government fix railroad rates.
“It was Macaulay who prophesied, in effect, that the masses of the American people would, in the course of several generations, use their right of suffrage to confiscate all wealth in the name of the State. This prophecy certainly places a low estimate on the moral perceptions of the common people and displays a woeful lack of faith in the ability of men in general to govern themselves. But while the prophecy is rightly to be regarded as absurd, yet there is no question that there are elements in our population that are attracted by the proposition of enriching themselves through the ballot box. It is said that men vote in accordance with their interests, and some men doubtless construe it to be for their interests to vote for confiscation. But I am confident that such men are in the small minority. I prefer to believe that the greater number of those who favor Socialistic measures do so from an honest conviction that these measures would be beneficial for the common weal. The tendency towards Socialism is certainly not to be attributed to a declining sense of public morality. Rather, I believe, is it to be traced to ignorance of the fundamental principles of true liberty and to demagogic leadership that for its own ends would stop short of nothing. Thousands of well-disposed men, who would not think of injuring the interests of their fellow-beings by their votes, have been led by these demagogues and false teachers into the belief that they are in some inscrutable manner being robbed by the rich, and they, therefore, are not to be morally censured for taking up with Socialistic propositions.
“Since the Socialistic tendency is to be attributed to ignorance rather than dishonesty on the part of many voters, the problem of protecting individualism resolves itself down to a problem of educating the voting masses. Many Americans, in reply to Macaulay’s prophecy, will declare that its
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fulfilment is impossible because the people of this country are generally speaking, far more intelligent than the people of other countries, and that the democracy in the establishment of a great common-school system has amply provided for its own protection. But existing facts demonstrate that the common-school system is not a sufficient guarantee of the perpetuation of liberty. Because the law-abiding elements, busy with their own affairs, leave politics to others, who perhaps are not quite so busy, the government in many of our communities has become a protector of vice and a machine for graft, as well as being a policeman. And if these same law-abiding elements and busy men of affairs do not wish to see the government also blossom out into a paternalistic meddler in private business the sooner they devise methods whereby they can wield at least a part of their proper share of influence in public matters the better. What we need is less politics in business and more business in politics. It is sheer folly to leave the discussion of public questions to the demagogue and agitator alone.
“The most effective and permanent method of meeting the issue of Socialism is, I believe, that of educational propaganda. In order to establish such a propaganda it requires the organization of the substantial and law-abiding citizenship.
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With proper efforts and proper support, I have not the least doubt that the movement for the maintenance of individualism can be made so powerful as to be invincible. It is the solemn duty of true American citizens of this generation to do whatever lies in their power to down this specter of Socialism.”
PEACE! PEACE! WHEN THERE IS NO PEACE
Notwithstanding the world’s fear of war and the general desire to introduce the Millennial peace before the time and before the proper conditions have been established, we opine that more wars are near at hand. Why? Because (1) the Scriptures seem to indicate that the anarchy which will crush our present civilization will be preceded by general wars. (2) Such wars seem inevitable as the forerunners of anarchy, because so long as the nations are powerful anarchy will have little chance of success. (3) The Scriptures assure us that there will be a general call to arms about this time, resulting in the weakening of the nations. (4) There seems not enough time intervening between now and 1915, and hence we expect present prosperity to continue in some measure for the next four years. (5) In order to have measurable financial prosperity for that time, war, somewhere, is almost a necessity—involving large expenditures of money for armies and navies, etc.
From this view-point we are on the lookout for everything likely to result in war. For instance, the rupture between Norway and Sweden, the German and French dispute respecting Morocco, and now the danger of an uprising of India against its British rulers. Let us remember that we are already entering the great “Day of Recompenses.” (Ezekiel 7:7-26.) In this connection note the following cablegram from India, widely circulated in the public press:
Dread of another mutiny is being felt by all Europeans here. India is in a very serious state, and the authorities are making heroic endeavors to prevent the unrest and the mutinous spirit which, in spite of all their efforts, is spreading like an infection from Province to Province.
The cause of this condition is the war between Russia and Japan, for the supremacy of the yellow race has come as a revelation to the natives. That an Asiatic race has defied and even conquered a European race has made them think. The spirit of dissatisfaction and trouble in the air now is far more acute than it was two years before the mutiny.
What makes the situation more dangerous is the ability of the “Baboos” to spread their tidings of revolt to every end of the Indian Empire with rapidity and ease. The problem of how news traveled to the utmost ends of India in the days of the mutiny has only been partly solved. Since then Lord Ripon has dignified Indian native opinion, and the “Baboo” can make himself as easily heard as his master.
THE KING IS CONCERNED
Lord Kitchener’s statement that the Indian army is practically worthless has been widely circulated among the ignorant natives. Lord Curzon’s tyrannical methods have set every class against him personally, and the personality of a ruler has an effect in India which is incalculable. The potential possibilities of the situation have been brought directly to the attention of the King and it is known that he has had a number of consultations with prominent Anglo-Indians now in England on leave.
It is a fact that in Central India hundreds of Afghans are loafing and skulking alone or in couples. This is considered to be an ominous sign, for the Afghans do not wander so far south with any peaceful purpose in mind. If a holy war were to be preached, the Mohammedans would be as much the object of native fury nowadays as the Christians.
The situation has an ugly look, and there is a prayer on every one’s lips that the cloud will not entail a storm.
THE YELLOW PERIL
The papers of the world, especially those of Russia and France, are calling attention to the peril of the white race at the hands of the yellow. They call attention to the fact that since Japan’s victories the Chinese government has put Japanese at the head of its military and naval schools, dismissing the Germans previously employed. China has now 700,000 well-armed and well-drilled soldiers, and by 1920 A.D. they claim they could have the numbers increased to 20,000,000 and could over-run Russia and all Europe. All the writers seem agreed that the combination of all Europe at once and fifteen years of preparation would scarcely suffice to prepare for such an onslaught. They claim that all the guns of Europe would be worn out killing these and leave plenty to still come on to the fray. Besides, the Japanese and Chinese can make as good guns and are doing so. It is claimed that within five years India and Russia may be conquered.
It may never come to this; but the fact that military critics are discussing it lends force to two Scriptures: (1) Our Lord’s words to the effect that in this time “men’s hearts would fail them for fear, looking forward to the things coming on the earth.” (Luke 21:26). (2) Our Lord’s words respecting the awful trouble approaching, that except for the elect’s sake, except for the Kingdom of the elect and its establishment of peace, “there would no flesh be saved.”—Matt. 24:22.
When we remember that the Yellow Peril is only one of the many now impending, and a minor one, no
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wonder we are assured that “men’s hearts shall fail from fear” and that all the tribes of earth shall mourn. The anarchy and confusion resulting from clashing selfishness in civilized lands will be doubtless quite enough to make the Kingdom of Christ “the desire of all nations.”
A few short years remain wherein the reaping of the “wheat” is to be accomplished. Five years more will surely bring us to stirring times. Let us who are of the Day not sleep as do others; let us not like them dream of worldly wealth and ease and name and fame. Let us, as faithful soldiers of the cross, be so zealous that it will simply cost “hardship,” so that we may be among those crowned lawfully. The joys of our Lord and the association in the Kingdom work will much more than compensate us for every sigh and tear and pain now endured.
A WORLDLY MAN’S OUTLOOK
The Oregonian is one of the principal journals of the Pacific coast, and its editor, an Evolutionist, scoffs at our interpretations of the Bible. Nevertheless its view of near-at-hand troubles is very closely in agreement with what we have been pointing out from the Bible for the last thirty years, and very much in opposition to the Evolution theory that men are about to evolute into angels, as monkeys evoluted into men. Here is an editorial clipping from the Oregonian:
“We suppose our country is ‘booked’ for socialism. Greed of speculators is bringing it on. Exploitation of public utilities by our first families hurries it forward. Such incidents or operations as this one, under our own eyes, of capitalization of the streets of Portland for millions, in the interest of private individuals—the public expected to pay dividends on the usurpation—are making socialists by thousands, in every direction.
“It is the same with all this exploitation of the modern time. Operators everywhere are seizing their opportunity to “capitalize” the wants of the public, in ways to create great properties and to obtain great dividends. The people believe that the only check to these schemes of plutocracy lies in a socialistic movement, under which the productive forces—in particular those related to municipal functions—may be transformed into socialized effort.
“The Oregonian has not been willing to see this change. But in the contest that is coming—forced by the greed of capitalism and of exploitation—it finds itself compelled to yield to new conditions. In the contest between greed and privilege on the one hand, and popular rights on the other, it will follow the demands of the people, because it belongs to the people. It must stand with them, rather than with those who contend for the fictions of privilege and of vested rights.”
JUDGMENTS OF THAT DAY
Russia’s woes seem to be part of the judgment of the Lord upon an evil system, just such as we should expect at this time when the new King Immanuel is beginning the correction of earth’s wrongs and the establishment of justice and judgment [rewards and penalties] in the earth. When the Lord’s judgments shall be extended to include all nations and systems what a time of trouble there will be in the earth! But before that severity Churchianity must have her bitter portion and all the true “wheat” be garnered.
A NUT FOR EVOLUTIONISTS
According to the Evolutionists it is only a comparatively short time since men were monkeys and irrational. We have already pointed out that the findings at Nippur contradict such a thought, and that the “Great Pyramid” showed an exactness and skill possessed four thousand years ago which was lost in the interim, since only with something like modern machinery could it have been constructed. In other words, that the world of long ago had really, in some respects, been in advance of everything known in A.D. 1800. This would agree with the Bible’s testimony that man was created perfect—in the image of God—and fell from it into degradation. Where the teachings of Christ have been received they have served to check the downward course; but the great advancement of our day is the result of divine overruling, preparing in every way for the great reign of Christ—the Millennium.
Now in accord with all this note the following, remembering that Mr. F. Petrie is a man of science and one of the best informed in all the world respecting the
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A two years’ study at Gheezeh has convinced Mr. Flinders Petrie that the Egyptian stone-workers of 4,000 years ago had a surprising acquaintance with what have been considered modern tools. Among the many tools used by the pyramid-builders were both solid and tubular drills and straight and circular saws. The drills, like those of to-day, were, says an exchange, set with jewels (probably corundum, as the diamond was very scarce), and even lathe-tools had such cutting edges. So remarkable was the quality of the tubular drills and the skill of the workmen, that the cutting marks in hard granite give no indication of wear of the tool, while a cut of a tenth of an inch was made in the hardest rock at each revolution, and a hole through both the hardest and softest material was bored perfectly smooth and uniform throughout. Of the material and method of making the tools nothing is known.—Mechanical News.
MORE DARWINISM FOR SUNDAY SCHOOLS
Although Sunday School literature has for some time been gradually undermining faith in the Bible, supplanting it with the suggestions of “higher critics” and evolution theories, it seems that the progress of unbelief has not been sufficiently rapid to satisfy some. Prof. W. S. Jackman of the Chicago University advocates more pronounced teaching—emphasizing Nature and her laws and correspondingly ignoring the true God. In the Educational Review he says:—
“To thousands of people it were not more shocking to doubt the common axioms of morality than it is to question any part of the Biblical story of nature. … But out of patient and careful observation science has created a conception of the origin, the development and the destiny of nature, and of man’s place in the great plan, that can not be linked with the primitive conception by even the maddest flight of poetic fancy. … The Darwinian theory, which certainly has more points in its favor regarding the history of life than any other, completely demolishes the old picture which was very firmly established in our minds in our early years through the teaching of the Sunday school. … It is
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against this flinty wall of pious belief that Nature-study must hurl itself and upon which it must make some impression if it is to gain a foothold in the Sunday school as a means of moral and religious training. To introduce Nature-study into the Sunday school, that is, to make it a direct factor in moral and religious training, means to give the child an entirely different point of view from that received by those of us who learned its lessons a quarter of a century ago.”
REV. R. HEBER NEWTON’S VIEWS ON SPIRITISM
That Spiritism continues to make progress in deceiving those in high positions as well as in low, the following extract will show. What will the harvest of such teachings be? How soon will the seed ripen? A very few years will show terrible results.
Discussing psychical science in an address to-night before the American Institute for Scientific Research in the home of C. Griswold Bourne, the Rev. Dr. R. Heber Newton made the assertion that the spirits of the dead communicate with the living; that telepathy is a power possessed by many men and women, and that clairvoyance is an established scientific fact. Said he in part:
“Clairvoyance was nothing but a will o’ the wisp, but it is now a confessed power of certain organizations.
“For the first time in the history of man these powers have been scientifically investigated in our day. Already the result is that a considerable number of eminent men of science have had the courage to avow that, after allowing for illusion, fraud and every possible hypothesis of interpretation, they have been driven up to the ultimate solution of the problem—the belief in the actual communication of the spirits of those whom we call dead with the living.
“Anyone who walks with his eyes open, ready to hear what men have to tell, will find stories pouring in upon him from men whom he cannot mistrust as liars, and whom he knows to be sane and sensible, which will stagger him. These experiences are not at all confined to the seance and the medium. Their most impressive forms occur in the privacy of the home without a professional medium present.”
RUSSIA AS SUPERSTITIOUS AS JAPAN
Rev. Dr. Robert S. Macarthur, in an address before the Baptist Young People’s Conference, held in New York, said:—
“There is Russia—holy Russia, with its famous ikons and its worship of them. Everyone knows the story of the carload that was sent from St. Petersburg to defeat the Japanese. Has heathendom anything to offer worse than this? When I was in Russia I knew a noble lady. She went to one of the high priests of her faith and hired an ikon to cure her of a disease. She paid an enormous sum for it and it was drawn through the streets of St. Petersburg, clothed in royal robes and in the royal carriage. As it passed through the streets I saw men and women throw themselves down on the street and bury their faces in the mud until the thing had passed.
“Yet Russia calls herself a Christian country and begs as such our sympathy.”
THE GERMAN KAISER’S AMBITION
It is the growing impression among diplomats that Emperor William II. regards himself as a “man of destiny,” another Napoleon I. He is accredited with a desire to form a combination of the governments of Europe either as United States of Europe or as a Fifth Universal Monarchy. His ambition is a “germ” which the Lord can make use of at any time to foment strife-war. True, he speaks for peace, but was not the Czar of Russia the instigator of the Hague peace conference? Very evidently there will be more war ere long. The nations apparently will be weakened preparatory to the great cataclysm of anarchy which we understand to be due to commence October, 1914. “Then they that reverenced the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that reverenced the Lord and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his only son that serveth him.”—Mal. 3:16.
THE EARTH ABIDETH FOREVER, BUT AGES AND EPOCHS PASS AWAY
BY REV. JOS. A. SEISS, D.D.
“There is a notion bred from the morbid imagination of the Middle Ages, which has given birth to many a wild, poetic dream, which has much influenced the translators of our English Bible [which has unduly tainted religious oratory, song and even sober theology], and which still lingers in the ‘Popular Mind’ [as if it were an article of the settled Christian creed], that the time is coming when everything that is, ‘except spiritual natures’ shall utterly cease to be, the earth consume and disappear, the whole solar and sidereal system collapse and the entire physical universe vanish into nothingness. How this can be, how it is to be harmonized with the promises and revealed purposes of God, … there is not the least effort to show. The thing is magniloquently asserted, and that is ‘quite enough for some people’s faith’, though ‘sense,’ ‘reason’ and ‘Revelation’ be alike outraged. There is indeed to be an ‘end of the world.’ The Bible often refers to it. But men mistake when they suppose the world spoken of in such passages to be the earth ‘as a planet.’
Four (4) different [Greek] words have our translators rendered ‘world.’ 1, Ge, which means the earth proper, the ground, this material orb which we inhabit; 2, Kosmos, which means the ornamentation, beauty, the existing order of things, but not the substance of the earth as a terraqueous globe; 3, Oikouene, the habitable, the inhabited earth, and 4, Aion, which is used more than one hundred times in the New Testament, but always with reference to time, duration, eras, dispensations,—a stage or state marking any particular period, long or short, past, present or future,—the course of things in any given instance, rather than the earth … on which it is realized. It may be earth or heaven, time or eternity … it is all the same as to the meaning of the word ‘aion’ which denotes simply the time-measure and characteristics of that particular period or state to which it is applied. And this is the word used in all those passages which speak of ‘the end of the world.’ It is not the end of the earth, but the end of a particular time, age, or order of things, with
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the underlying thought of other orders of things and perpetual continuity in other ages. Aeons end, times change, … but there is no instance in all the Word of God which assigns an absolute termination to the existence of the earth, as one of the planets, or any other of the great sisterhood of material orbs … It will not be another earth, but the same earth under another condition of things. It is now laboring under the curse, but then the curse will have been lifted off. At present it is hardly habitable,—no one being able to live in it any longer than a few brief years; but then men shall dwell in it forever without knowing what death is.
“It is now the home of rebellion and injustice; it will then be the home of righteousness.
“It is now under the domination of Satan, it will then be under the ‘Blessed Rule of the Prince of Peace.'”
CHURCH DISESTABLISHMENT IN FRANCE
In the debates in the French Chamber of Deputies respecting the withdrawal of the Government from the support of religion in the matter of paying the salaries of the preachers and priests and furnishing the church buildings, the controversy was warm on both sides. Deputy Briand, favoring the movement and opposing
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some who pleaded that all religions would suffer—Catholic, Protestant and Jewish—said: “If the Church cannot exist without the aid of the State it is because the Church is dead!“
With the carrying into effect of the new arrangement religious matters must be managed in France as they are now managed in the United States. Each person can pay for his own religious propaganda and have his own kind. It will be a good move so far as true religion is concerned. However, clericalism will manage somehow to ride the people, while more or less blindfolding them as respects the truth of God’s Word.
UNION OF THE CHURCHES
The success attending the efforts to unite Congregationalists, Cumberland Presbyterians and United Brethren, encourages others. Now the various Lutheran bodies are endeavoring to unite, and are meeting with good success. The Baptists, as is well known, are independents, each congregation being free except as the Ministers’ Union and Missionary Society unites them. Baptists’ Missions—South and North—were separated during the Civil war and are now arranging for re-union.
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BEYOND THE SHADOWS
Further on—beyond the shadows
Falling darkly o’er my way,
There is home, and rest and shelter,
Where no storms can e’er dismay.
Though the way be rough and narrow,
And a cross must needs be borne,
Further on—the night is waning
Soon will dawn the welcome morn.
Meekly to His will submitting,
In His love secure and strong,
Jesus whispers, “Bide the shadows,
It is better further on.”
Further on—O blest assurance!
How it thrills my raptured heart,
Just to know that I shall see Him
When the shadows all depart.
Let me still be strong and patient,
Trusting where I cannot trace,
Further on—beyond all darkness
Faith can see God’s smiling face.
Only waiting, ever praying,
Let my heart be filled with song.
Sweet the promise Jesus gives me,
“It is better further on.”
—LIZZIE C. RAMSDELL.
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ANENT ARCHAEOLOGY AND RELIGION
DR. EDGAR, one of the leading physicians of Glasgow, Scotland, sends us the following letter:—
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
As many good people think that the dates which are accepted by archaeologists must be more reliable than those furnished in the Scriptures, it is important that we should be aware of the true value of the proofs which satisfy these scientific men. The following extract is to the point:—”DATE OF SARGON.—Sargon, King of Akkad, reigned about 3800 B.C. This is the first date in the world’s history about which there is no serious dispute. This date is made certain by an inscription of Nabonidos, the last native King of Babylon, who was a zealous restorer of ruined temples. He tells us that he succeeded in reaching the foundation stone of the ancient temple of the Sun in Sippar, a stone which the great Nebuchadnezzar had sought in vain to find. Under it was the seal-cylinder of the founder of the temple, Naram-Sin, son of Sargon, which, says Nabonidos, had not been seen for ‘thrice a thousand, twice a hundred years.’ The date of the discovery of this corner-stone was about 550 B.C. We thus reach 3750 B.C. as the date of Naram-Sin, and by adding fifty years for the reign of Sargon we get 3800 B.C.” (Babylonia and Assyria. By Ross G. Murison, M.A., B.D. One of the Bible Class Primers edited by Principal Salmond, D.D., Aberdeen).
Surely no one but an archaeologist would accept such a statement as was made by this heathen king without demanding clear proof as to its truth!
ANOTHER ITEM OF INTEREST, CONFIRMING STATEMENTS OF DAWN VI., CHAPTER X.
In the “Zentralblatt fur Gynaekologie” of 8th October, 1904, there is an article on “The Intra-uterine
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Baptism of Human Ova and Foetuses.” The author begins by referring to the war engaged in by Dr. Treub, a Dutch professor of Midwifery, against the theological obscurantism which would allow a mother to die when the induction of abortion might have the effect of saving her life. An article, entitled “The Right to Life of the Unborn Child,” written by Dr. Treub, has been translated into English by the Rev. C. van der Donckt, of New York. To this translation the reverend gentleman adds an appendix in which he declares that in such cases the intra-uterine baptism of the ovum or the child is obligatory. He refers to a case to which a friend of his, an American physician, was called. The woman’s life was saved by the removal of her three-month’s child from the uterus. “Tormented by the family and the first physician, our friend, still hesitating, explains to a venerable Jesuit father the reasons which make him propose to apply to this case a new method, which permits the baptism of the infant. This therapeutic process, formerly impossible, but without danger since the discovery of the antiseptic treatment, has for its object to open quickly the orifice of the matrix by the natural ways and to allow the injection of an abundant stream of baptismal water by means of a suitable instrument: the remaining operations of extraction which may be hurtful to the life of the germ are carried out afterward. It is admitted, in effect, that baptism in utero by injection is not only allowed but obligatory when the physician is certain that, despite all his efforts, the child will die during delivery. As the reasons were considered valid by his counsellor, the physician was enabled thanks to the method employed (special metallic instruments) to open gently the matrix (in a minute and a half) sufficiently to make the baptismal injection also done gently; then he quickly completed the thorough extraction of everything contained in the uterus.”
(It may be well for me to add that the method described is the one always followed nowadays by medical men. The novelty consists not in the injection but in the meaning attached to it).
We have much reason to thank the Lord that the Sun of Righteousness will now soon arise and dispel the fogs of theological obscurantism and of “science, falsely so called.”
Our eyes, dear Brother, are indeed blessed, for they see the light while the darkness is still covering the earth. This light is getting brighter and brighter as the perfect day draws near. We have much to be thankful for.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be ever with you
I am, yours in the Lord,
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“A PECULIAR PEOPLE”
“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”—1 Pet. 2:9.
DURING the Gospel age, which is now drawing to a close, the Lord has been making ready a peculiar people for a very peculiar and very glorious purpose. The purpose is nothing less than that of a joint-reign with Christ for a thousand years, by means of which, not only shall “all the families of the earth be blessed,” but angels also shall be brought to a righteous judgment and reward, and all things in heaven and in earth will be brought into perfect harmony with and conformity to, the divine will, and universal peace and joy and praise shall abound to the glory of God.
This peculiar people is a new and chosen generation. They were first chosen out from among men, “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” (2 Thess. 2:13.) Or, in other words, having believed the message of salvation through Christ the Redeemer, and having gratefully accepted the same, and being earnestly desirous of perfect personal conformity to the divine will, and having, therefore, humbly submitted themselves entirely to God, they were chosen of God to be his peculiar people.
That which renders this people peculiar as compared with all other people in the world is a very radical change—a change of nature from the human to the spiritual. (2 Pet. 1:4.) This change of nature has been brought about by the power of the Truth, which leads those who are rightly exercised by it to a full consecration of heart and life to the will and service of God, even unto death. This change of nature is, however only begun in the present life, and consists as yet only of a change of mind and a consequent change of character and action in harmony with the new hopes, aims and aspirations generated by the “exceeding great and precious promises.” No wonder is it that a people actuated by such hopes and aims should be a peculiar people—a people separate from the world—in the world and yet not of it.
They are indeed a new “generation“—i.e.,—a new race, of a new and noble nature, distinct and separate from the human race, although as “new creatures” they are as yet only begotten and developing in the embryo state, the full development, or birth, being due at the resurrection. Wonderful indeed is this truth—”Ye,” brethren, “are a chosen generation”—a new order of beings and chosen of God as the heirs of his special favor. And not only so says the Apostle, but ye are a priesthood, a royal priesthood—a people to be clothed with authority and power to stand between God and fallen humanity; to lift humanity up from its degradation and restore it to the divine likeness and favor. Ye are indeed a royal priesthood, whose power and glory will appear in due time, to the glory of God and the blessing of all the families of the earth.
But further, says the Apostle, Ye are “a holy nation.” In what sense can this people be called a nation? A nation is a body of people united under one government and having common interests and bound by mutual obligations and mutual consent, either expressed or implied, to conserve those interests. Truly such a people, such a nation,
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are we under Christ Jesus our King, and our interests are indeed one: they are the interests of the truth concerning the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom in all the earth. Our national policy is aggressive, and contemplates the complete subjection of every other power; but its object, unlike that of all other ambitious powers, is not the glorification of selfishness, but the exaltation of meekness and righteousness and the establishment of universal peace and happiness. Every loyal citizen of this nation is deeply interested in its politics, and is ready to take up the sword for its defense at any moment. However, we remember that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal; but they are mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strongholds. Our sword is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” and an every-day exercise and drill in its use makes us able soldiers.
Let all the members of this “chosen generation,” this “royal priesthood,” this “holy nation,” this “peculiar people,” seek more and more—by vigilance, by faithfulness and by holiness—to separate themselves from the spirit of the world, to submit themselves to the transforming influences of the Spirit of God, and to discipline and drill themselves in the use of the sword of the Spirit, that so they may “show forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
“BABES IN CHRIST”
This peculiar people the Apostle likens, in the beginning of their life of faith, to babes. Though they may be men of mature years, they are but babes beginning a new life. And the Apostle counsels them, as new-born babes, to earnestly desire and seek for the sincere milk of the Word of God—the simple truths, the foundation doctrines. These are the plain clear statements of the Scriptures—(1) of the original perfection and glory of humanity, created in the image of God—Gen. 1:27,31; (2) of the fall of Adam and the race represented in him in trial—Gen. 3; 1 Cor. 15:22; (3) of the death penalty—Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Rom. 6:23; (4) of the redemption of Adam, and therefore also of the race represented in him, by the payment of an equivalent price—the sacrifice of “the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all”—1 Cor. 15:22; 1 Tim. 2:6; (5) of the actual deliverance of the redeemed race in God’s due time and order.—Acts 3:19-21.
Those who in simple faith accept these truths and who, laying aside all malice, and all guile and hypocrisies and envies
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and all evil speaking, endeavor to live worthy of this salvation, esteeming it as only a reasonable service to devote themselves thenceforth to the service of God, are accepted of him as sons and heirs—as spiritual sons. And precious indeed are these little ones in the Lord’s sight. It was with reference to such that the Lord said to Peter, “Feed my lambs”; and again that he gave warning to false teachers, saying, “Whoever shall ensnare one of the least of these who believe in me, it would be better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were sunk in the depth of the sea.” (John 21:15; Matt. 18:6, Diaglott.) And again, under the figure of a tender shepherd caring for a weak and straying lamb, he shows his tender solicitude for these babes of the family, saying, “It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”—Matt. 18:14.
But while the babes in Christ, because of their very feebleness and inexperience, have much special care bestowed upon them, and are dearly beloved of the Lord, and while their meek and teachable spirit is commended to all (Matt. 18:4), it is not the will of God that they should always remain babes. The very object of his commending to them the milk of the Word is that they may grow thereby out of this infantile state up to the maturity of spiritual life—”that we be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” (Eph. 4:14.) There should come a time in the experience of every healthy growing child of God when he should be able to leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ—the foundation doctrines—having them firmly established and settled in his mind, and therefore not needing to dig them up and lay them over again—and go on growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Truth unto perfection.—Heb. 6:1.
The Apostle Paul reproved some of his day because they did not thus grow; saying, “For when for the time [spent] ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat: for every one that useth milk [only] is unskilful in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.” (Heb. 5:12,13.) We are not to live continually on the milk diet, “but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4.) Some of these words are the simple truths above noted—the milk; and others are deeper truths, the strong meat for those who, nourished by the pure milk, had grown and had developed considerable firmness and strength of Christian character. This “solid food,” says the Apostle (Heb. 5:14), is for adults—for those possessing faculties habitually exercised in the discrimination of both good and evil. He also warned them of the dreadful result to them if they should fall away.—Heb. 6:4-6.
If the babes in Christ are fed on adulterated milk—a confused mixture of truth and error concerning the above-mentioned foundation doctrines—the result will be that they will sicken and die, unless the unwholesome diet is speedily removed and the sincere, pure milk is sought after and used. As a general thing there is not sufficient care on the part of the babes in Christ about seeking the pure milk of the Word; and many of the adults are too careless about setting the impure milk before them. Let those who are truly the Lord’s little ones bear in mind the Apostle’s counsel to desire and seek after only the pure milk of the Word, and resolutely to discard all else. Any theological views which will not rest squarely upon the above-named foundation doctrines, so plainly enunciated in the Scriptures, but which attempt to pervert and to shift and to make them void, do not constitute the pure diet for the Lord’s children. Let them cautiously beware of all such adulterations, and feed only upon the pure milk, and by and by upon the more solid food—that is food indeed to those who have their faculties exercised—and thus grow up to maturity, to a full development of Christian character and faith.
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The Apostle then shows (1 Pet. 2:4-8) that such consecrated and faithful children of God have the privilege of becoming members of a grand spiritual house, of which Christ Jesus is the head. The shape of the building to which reference is made is evidently that of a pyramid, and was probably suggested to his mind by the words of the Prophet Isaiah (28:16) to which he refers, saying, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious; … the same is become the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the Word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed.”
The chief corner-stone in a pyramid is the top stone, which is also the model after which the whole building is being fashioned. The Prophet Zechariah (4:7) calls it the head-stone, and Isaiah (28:16) calls it a foundation-stone. At first thought these figures seem incongruous, but they are not really so when we consider that this building is not an earthly, but a heavenly building, having a heavenly foundation, and that it is held together, not by earthly, but by heavenly attraction. And it is in accordance with this thought that we are invited to come unto Christ, the chief corner-stone, to be built up under him and to be fashioned for our places as living stones in this building, in accordance with the lines and angles seen in him who is the model.
The great work of preparing these living stones for their places in this building of God is still in progress, although it is almost completed. This is the painful part of the work to every one of the stones. The blows of the hammer and the chisel—the hard discipline of experience—are not desirable except for the effects—the peaceable fruits of righteousness. And if we would have the results we must patiently submit to the painful processes, and see to it that no cross-grained wilfulness on our part shall interfere with the work; for such interference would sooner or later be the occasion for abandoning us, and the Builder would substitute another stone more pliable and easily worked; for the time is short, and what is to be done must be done quickly.
The Prophet further showed that the foundation stone of this great building would be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to many until the time of its exaltation. Those who will stumble over it, says the Apostle, are not those faithful and loyal to the Word of God, but those who stumble at the Word, being disobedient, and who will not accept its plain and simple teaching relative to the great foundation of our faith—Christ Jesus, who gave his life a ransom for many. (Matt. 20:28.) And this class, he assures us, were appointed to stumble—that it does not happen so, but that God designed that they should stumble, because they are unworthy to stand, being disobedient.
God lays great stress upon loyal and loving obedience on the part of all his children. It was only a little matter of disobedience that cost Adam and his posterity so dearly, and that will bring similar results to all those who, having once escaped the condemnation of death through faith in Christ the Redeemer, thereafter refuse to stand before God in the robe of his righteousness, but prefer to appear in their own. All such were appointed to stumble; but blessed are the meek, for they shall stand. “The Lord knoweth them that are his.”
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A BROKEN VOW—A FULFILLED PENALTY
—2 CHRONICLES 36:11-21.—SEPT. 3.—
Golden Text:—”Be sure your sin will find you out.”—Numbers 32:23.
ZEDEKIAH, the last king on the throne of David, was exalted to his position by Nebuchadnezzar and reigned eleven years, until the overthrow of the dynasty. He was given the throne upon his taking a solemn oath of faithfulness as a vassal to the king of Babylon. The taking of that oath was the immediate cause of his downfall. The matter is so stated in Ezekiel’s prophecy.—Ezek. 17:11-21.
The folly of the king’s course in this matter is but an illustration of the general folly of all who reject the Lord as their counsellor. Our lesson relates how the Lord through Jeremiah his prophet had warned the king respecting reformation and the keeping of his oath and the certainty that the king of Babylon would vanquish him. Self-willed and unbelieving and careless of his oath, the king, abetted by the princes and his counsellors, took the course which proved to be the way of folly and which led to the utter overthrow of the nation.
This reminds us of our text for the year, “The wisdom that cometh from above is first pure, then peaceable, easy of entreatment, and full of mercy and good fruits.” It was, of course, not the privilege of Zedekiah or others living at that time to have the guidance of the holy Spirit in the sense that spiritual Israel may enjoy it now. Nevertheless they had what to them was a very fair substitute, all things considered, namely, God’s direct revelations through his prophets. But now as then an evil heart of unbelief is inclined to lean to its own understanding, its own wisdom—earthly wisdom, which often, as the Apostle declares, is sensual and devilish. This is the meaning of much of the war and commotion which we see about us in the world, especially amongst so-called “Christian nations.” Nor should we too severely censure the world for not acting along the lines of faith and trust in the Lord when we remember that they know him not and see him not as do his spirit-begotten children—”Blessed are your eyes for they see and your ears for they hear.” For those who do see and do hear and do know the Master’s will to proceed along worldly lines would certainly be much more reprehensible than for the natural man to take the same course. The Lord looketh upon the heart, and where the privileges are small the requirements will be correspondingly lenient; where the privileges are
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great, as with us, we can only reasonably expect stricter requirements at the Lord’s hands.
“THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE”
In Zedekiah’s case the Lord allowed the natural consequences of his wrong course to follow, and they were severe indeed. His sons were slain before his eyes, then he was blinded and carried to Babylon, where he was a prisoner until his death. We infer from this that he never came to a properly repentant attitude of heart before the Lord. On the contrary his father, the previous king, Jehoiachim, who was taken a prisoner to Babylon eleven years before, was subsequently released from prison and granted many favors at the hands of the king of Babylon.
These high ones in nominal Israel may properly enough represent the more highly favored ones of the Lord’s people in spiritual Israel, and we may draw the lesson that the unfaithful, like Jehoiachim, might be chastened and afterwards treated with leniency; but that those who violate the oath of their covenant, their vow to the Lord, breaking that vow, will suffer loss in every sense of the word—they shall thenceforth be blinded by the Adversary to the blessings they had once enjoyed and they will subsequently die the Second Death. Everywhere the Scriptures uphold the thought that a vow, a solemn compact with the Lord, is a most binding obligation. It is under such an obligation that all the members of the New Creation have been granted the first fruits of the spirit. Disloyalty or renouncement of this vow to us could therefore mean nothing short of the Second Death.
CALAMITY AND RUIN
The calamity and ruin which came upon Jerusalem and Judea, at the time described in our lesson, doubtless seemed to many to indicate God’s lack of power, his lack of ability to protect the nation which he had specially planted. Not so. The Scriptures assure us that God foresaw the calamities which then came upon his chosen people; he foretold them through the prophet and he permitted them to come upon the nation. The lessons he had sent them in the nature of milder chastisements had availed little. The example he had shown of scattering the ten tribes on account of their idolatry had not properly been taken to heart by the two tribes with whom his favor still remained. Now he would scatter them all and leave the land desolate for a period of seventy years—a period long enough to allow nearly all of them to die in exile, a period in which those who loved idolatry might go their way, as it is written, “Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone.” It was a period, too, in which those who still reverenced the Lord—as for instance Daniel, and others mentioned—would in a foreign land look back longingly to the land of promise, read more attentively than ever the records of the Lord’s dealings with their nation, and see how he had predicted this very trouble which they now were experiencing, and lead them thereby to a better condition of heart and to the instruction of their children in the right ways of the Lord.
As a matter of fact this was the result. At the close of the seventy years’ desolation of the land the Lord raised up Cyrus, the King of Media and Persia, who, having conquered the Babylonians, offered liberty to all of the Jews who desired to return to their own land. That proclamation would have little influence upon the vast majority of the Israelites who had gone into captivity. Those idolatrously inclined had undoubtedly forgotten all about Jehovah and the covenant made with their fathers, and were fully amalgamated with the heathen by intermarriage, etc. The indifferent Israelites settled in the foreign land realized that it would be to their disadvantage in temporal matters to leave their Babylonian homes to go back to Palestine, there to begin life afresh and to battle with the inconveniences, the wilderness condition, of their once fertile land. Consequently of all the hosts of the twelve tribes that went down to Babylon in various captivities only about 50,000 accepted the offer of Cyrus to return. Only a very few of these had ever seen Palestine; they had merely heard of it through their parents and the few aged ones of their number. These, however, had learned well the lesson which their fathers refused to learn. From the day of the return from the Babylonian captivity, we have not a record of further idolatry in Jerusalem and Judea.
DESOLATED SEVENTY YEARS
The last verse of our lesson tells us how the land lay desolate three score and ten years to fulfil her Sabbaths, as the Lord had foretold by the mouth of
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his prophet Jeremiah. Here we see clearly marked the time when the seventy years began, that it was at the time of the carrying away of Zedekiah and not at the time of his father’s captivity, eleven years previously. We see distinctly that it was not seventy years’ captivity but seventy years’ desolation of the land, and apparently the land was not desolate during the eleven years of the reign of Zedekiah. This is an important point in history, and one which has misled many in their chronological reckonings. It is an important point in the reckoning of the Jubilees, but for a fuller statement of this matter we refer the reader to MILLENNIAL DAWN, Volume II., Chapter VI.
The Lord had appointed a jubilee arrangement by which every seventh year would be a Sabbath year of rest to the soil, and every fiftieth year a Jubilee of restitution for all the people, to all the inhabitants throughout Israel. It would appear that this divine arrangement fell into neglect or was only partially observed for a time. Doubtless the princes and nobles and wealthy thought they saw an error in the divine program and that they could improve upon God’s arrangement. At all events there is no record of the keeping of the Jubilees, and the Lord here declares that they were neglected—either they were not kept at all or they were observed in so perfunctory a manner as to constitute neglect from the divine standpoint. Nevertheless we have no record
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of the Lord having chided the people on this score. A lesson for us would be that every feature of the divine law is of importance, that every regulation should be observed, that there is a blessing in the arrangement whether it so appears to human judgment or not, and that the Lord will require an account from us eventually respecting our knowledge and obedience.
Turning to Leviticus 26:33-35, we find that the Lord through Moses had foretold this very failure to observe the year Sabbaths and Jubilees, and that it was on this account that the whole nation was cast out of the land of promise so that it received in the seventy years of its desolation the full number of Jubilee years—”For as long as it lay desolate it kept Sabbath to fulfil three score and ten years.”
This thought, that each of those years that the land was desolated represented a Jubilee year which had not been properly observed by Israel, furnishes one of the keys by which we may estimate the whole number of Jubilees from the entrance of the children of Israel into the land of Palestine down to the grand consummation when the Kingdom of Messiah will be established and the actual Jubilee, the antitypical Jubilee, will begin. These calculations carried out show that we are already living in the great antitypical Jubilee, which will last for a thousand years. As the priests were to blow the silver trumpets in the beginning of the typical Jubilee year announcing its beginning, so now all who are of the Royal Priesthood are commissioned by the Lord to blow upon the silver trumpets of truth, and to make known to all who have a hearing ear in spiritual Israel our present times and seasons, and that the great Jubilee, the times of restitution of all things, has begun. This implies, as we have already shown, that the great King is now taking unto himself his great power, and that his reign over the nations will soon begin, precipitating the time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, the result of which will be the overthrow of all human institutions and the opening of the way to the establishment of the Kingdom for which we pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” under whose ministrations all the families of the earth will be blessed, and every evil institution and thing suppressed, and every good and true matter brought forward to the light, established.
Thank God for the great blessing and privilege of living in our day under these favorable conditions. Let us be faithful to our vow and for the present be submissive to the powers that be, waiting for the Lord in his own time and way to establish his Kingdom and to fulfil all the gracious promises of his Word. Let us who realize that we are now in the antitypical Jubilee be faithful to the blowing on the trumpets.
“Blow ye the trumpet, blow
The gladly solemn sound;
Let all the nations know,
To earth’s remotest bound,
The year of jubilee is come,
Returning ransomed sinners home.”
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BEREAN BIBLE STUDY FOR SEPTEMBER
—SEE PREFACE OF WATCH TOWER BIBLES AND WATCH TOWER, MARCH 1, 1905.—
BROTHERLY KINDNESS (BROTHERLY LOVE)
11. How should brotherly love exercise itself in seeking opportunities for service? Z.’98-228 (2nd col. par. 1,2); 229, (1st col. par. 1,2).
12. How should brotherly-love manifest itself “in honor preferring one another”? Rom. 12:10; Z.’97-264 (2nd col. par. 4); Z.’05-139 (1st col. par. 1).
13. How should we “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works”? Heb. 10:24; F.308, par. 1,2; Z.’05-106 (2nd col. par. 1).
14. How will brotherly love exercise itself in “laying down our lives for the brethren”? 1 Jno. 3:16; Z.’98-228 (1st col. par. 3); Z.’01-4 (1st col. par. 3); Z.’01-150 (1st col. par. 1); F.468, par. 1, and 469.
15. How should we manifest brotherly-kindness toward the weaker brethren? 1 Thess. 5:14; Z.’98-183 (2nd col. par. 1); F.236, par. 1; F.304 to 306.
16. How will brotherly love sympathize with the more demonstrative brethren? F.134, par. 2.
17. How should brotherly-kindness deal with the self-seeking? F.296, 297.
18. How will brotherly-kindness deal with brethren who lack self-control? F.148 (par. 2) to 150 (par. 1).
19. How should brotherly-kindness seek to avoid “busy-bodying”? 1 Tim. 5:13; 1 Pet. 4:15; F.583 to 586.
20. How should brotherly-love control the tongue? F.291, par. 2; F.292, par. 1; Z.’98-85 (1st col. par. 2,3); Z.’98-86 (1st col. par. 2,3); F.586 to 588; F.406 (par. 1).
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THE LIFE-GIVING STREAM
—EZEKIEL 47:1-12.—SEPT. 10.—
Golden Text:—”Whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely.”—Rev. 22:17.
EZEKIEL’S prophecy is full of symbolism, and has appropriately been termed the apocalypse of the Old Testament. It was written in Babylonia in the Chaldaic language.
Ezekiel was one of the captives of Judah taken to Babylonia by King Nebuchadnezzar on the occasion of his first invasion, when he placed Zedekiah on the throne, eleven years before his later invasion, when the city was destroyed. The captives taken at that time included many of the chief men of the Jewish nation, princes and nobles, the brightest and the best. His object in taking these seems to have been to
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strengthen his own empire, for the captives were not treated as slaves, but were granted great liberty, some of them, as in the case of Daniel, rising to positions of very high honor in the kingdom. Ezekiel had great liberty, and his prophesying was done for the Jews of the Babylonian captivity—exiles. The Lord’s testimony through this prophet was undoubtedly intended to cheer and comfort those of his people who were Israelites indeed, and to fan the spark of faith which still remained in their hearts—to lead them, as in the case of Daniel, to hope for the return of God’s favor and the end of their captivity with the end of the appointed seventy years’ desolation of the land.
The matter of our lesson as heard by the Jews in exile undoubtedly was pictured as referring to earthly Jerusalem, and the blessings as appertaining to the Jews as a nation. The restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple are clearly and explicitly foretold, and no doubt the hearts of the captives leaped with joy as they thought of the future blessings, and no doubt also, their faith and hope were encouraged. But so surely as Ezekiel’s prophecy was the Word of the Lord, so surely the prophecy did not relate to blessings to be conferred upon that people at the time of their restoration from the land of Babylon, for the predictions of Ezekiel’s prophecy were never fulfilled. Just so surely they belong to the future. Spiritual Israelites may realize that the prophecy not only related to natural Israel but also to spiritual Israel, not only to a deliverance from literal Babylon but also a deliverance from mystic Babylon, “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots,” whose power is soon to be completely overthrown as precedent to a full deliverance of all who are Israelites indeed and the establishment of the Kingdom.—Rev. 18.
THE RIVER OF LIFE
Our lesson deals particularly with one of Ezekiel’s visions, which predicted the springing into existence of a wonderful river whose waters would bring to the
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land of Palestine and to the Dead Sea verdure and life instead of drouth, desolation and death. The ordinary interpretation of this lesson is that the Gospel is represented in this river, which now for a considerable time has been flowing onward and bringing life. We cannot accept this interpretation, for several reasons: First, the description is in such close agreement with the Millennial age blessings of Revelation 21 and 22 as to leave no doubt that the same thing is referred to. In Revelation we see that the Church is the Bride, and the Church glorified is symbolized by the heavenly Jerusalem and the river of the water of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations and whose fruit is for their sustenance and whose water is the water of life, living water. There can be no doubt that the two rivers are identical. And since the Church is not yet complete, and has therefore not yet been glorified, the river of life has not yet proceeded from the glorified Church, and hence the whole matter must be future.
The same thought is in this lesson as Ezekiel gives it. He first sees the Temple and then beholds the glory of the Lord entering the Temple through the eastern gate, and that gate closed after the Lord. This represents the closing of the door at the end of this age, as our Lord portrayed it in the parable of the ten virgins. The door will be shut, the glory of the Lord will have entered into the Temple. It is subsequent to this shutting of the door that the prophet is shown the issuing of the water from under the threshold. The lesson, therefore, is clear and explicit to the effect that not until the glory of the Lord shall have entered his Temple, not until the Church shall be glorified, not until that door shall be forever shut, will the water of life issue forth.
The stream is shown as rapidly increasing. Issuing as a rivulet it speedily becomes ankle deep, a little further along waist deep and a little further beyond a man’s depth to ford. Thus is indicated the rapid increase of the blessings of the Lord as soon as his time shall have come; but, as we have heretofore pointed out, there is no such river of life now, our Master himself being authority for this in his statement respecting his disciples, saying, “The water I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life.” Ours is not an invitation to drink of a river of life, but an invitation to have a wellspring of water of life started in our hearts by the impartation of the holy Spirit. As already pointed out it will be after the river of the water of life flows from the glorified Church that the Spirit and the Bride will say to the world of mankind, Come. Then whosoever will may come, whereas now no man can come “except the Father which sent me draw him.”
A REFRESHING PICTURE
Thus seen, God has rich blessings in store for mankind in general in the day when his Kingdom shall be established amongst men, in Immanuel’s day. The restitution of that time is pictured in the leaves of the trees; the abundance of instruction and nourishment, mental, moral and physical, is represented in the fruit of the trees. More than this, wherever the water of this river went life resulted, until finally it emptied itself into the Dead Sea with the effect that the waters of the latter were healed. Fishes thrive well in sea water, but the water of the Dead Sea is about five times as strongly pregnated with salts, and as a consequence fish taken from the Mediterranean and put into the Dead Sea die in a few minutes—hence its name, Dead Sea.
It would not at all surprise us if, in the beginning of the Millennial age, not only the nation of Israel would receive the blessing of the Lord lost at the beginning of this Gospel age and become his representative people in the world—the Church having been taken from the world, glorified spirit beings—but neither would it surprise us if, in the Lord’s providence, some miracle were wrought by which the Dead Sea would become connected with the Mediterranean, possibly refreshed also
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by some such river as is here described by Ezekiel, a picture of the symbolical river of life flowing from the New Jerusalem. But however interested we might be in the thought of such a literal fulfilment of this prophecy, our interest is still greater in the fulfilment of it as a symbol in accord with the river of Revelation. From this symbolical standpoint the Dead Sea represents the dead world, and the coming of life-giving waters would represent the resurrection power of the Lord and the Church exercised amongst men during the Millennial age. As the Apostle expresses it, it would mean, for the Gentiles, life from the dead.
But while it is refreshing and exhilarating to look down into the future and think of the blessings to come, it is important that we draw practical lessons and apply them to ourselves, and see to it that we do all in our power now to make our calling and our election sure, that we may be of that New Jerusalem class, the Bride glorified, from whom the river of the water of life will issue. There is no doubt that it will all be accomplished, because the Word of the Lord has spoken it. The whole question for us is whether we or others will be the Lord’s ministers, servants, honored agents in causing the blessing of the Lord to fill the whole earth. The more we love the glorious prospects set before us in the Word, the more we will strive for present participation in the sufferings of Christ, in laying down our lives for the brethren, and for future participation in the glories of Christ in the blessing of all the families of the earth.
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SOME INTERESTING LETTERS
Mr. C. T. RUSSELL,
I have just read in your booklet, “Protestants Awake,” these burning words: “Some even admit that their personal views differ from those they preach, and are endeavoring to have their conferences and synods allow them to preach what they conceive to be truth and desist from what they believe to be error; dishonorable, ignoble, hypocritical and slavish though such a course is,” etc. This is not all true in my case, but sufficiently so to cause the words dishonorable, ignoble, hypocritical and slavish, to strike me with tremendous force, and in deep agony of spirit, born of condemnation, I cry unto God, What shall I do? I most certainly believe your interpretation of the blessed Word. My soul longs for freedom; I am helpless—chained by environment. Tell me what to do? I doubt not there are hundreds in my condition. They saw the truth too late. What they possessed of this world’s goods has been willingly sacrificed to an all-absorbing, but false purpose. Their means is gone; their physical force is spent; their years are well nigh numbered. “Their righteous souls are vexed from day to day in seeing and hearing.” Conscious helplessness augments their bitter agony. They are handicapped by dependent families. To withdraw from their denominations means to cut off their bread. Your system offers no support to the helpless. Their minds are constantly harrowed by the light of the new revelation. Their spirits chafe and fret like the caged eagle yearning for the liberty he sees but cannot enjoy. There seems to be no open door of opportunity, and again I ask, in God’s name, What shall we preachers do? I would be willing to sink out of sight from the world.
If I could dispense with all responsibility toward my family, I would gladly submit to any sort of humiliation, criticism or persecution, and would feel that the liberty for which my heart and mind so yearns would be cheap at any cost to myself, but alas, alas! Brother, pray that a door may be opened unto me—that deliverance may come, in God’s own way.
Yours in bonds and fellowship,
MY DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST:—
Your pathetic letter of the 18th is at hand. You have my sympathy, indeed, dear brother. I rejoice that you have a conscience and a heart to which the truth does appeal. Be of good courage! Our heavenly Father lives; our Redeemer lives; his power is as great as it ever was. All of his Daniels are safe from the lions. All of his Elijahs shall be fed. All of the widows shall be supplied with meal. The condition is faith, trust, obedience.
But the Lord’s favor cannot be expected unless the step of obedience has been taken. Then man’s extremity will constitute the terms on which the Father will be pleased to cause all things to work together for his good. The command is, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Those who discern the real Babylon condition, those who discern the errors of “Christendom,” are more responsible than the others in Babylon who discern not; and if they will not come out of her, if they will not stand up for the truth and the Lord, they are demonstrating that they are not worthy to be his disciples in the special sense in which that word is properly to be used during this Gospel age. It is not for us to say that those who do not come out will lose all, but we have the assurance that they will lose the Kingdom position, the great prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus; and their position would be, through greater tribulations, in the “great company” of Revelation 7, “before the throne,” instead of in it; with “palm branches,” instead
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of “crowns;” “servants,” instead of “the Bride.”
Dear brother, if you have my sympathy, much more you may be sure you have the Lord’s sympathy, and as soon as you shall have learned the lesson and taken the proper steps he will manifest his love and care and blessing toward you. Exercise the faith; overcome the spirit of fear and bondage, and thus be in heart an overcomer. The Lord will do the rest. It may not be in your way, nor in my way, but in the Lord’s way he will supply all your need.
The question before your mind should not be, Shall I come out of Babylon? but that being settled affirmatively, the question should be, How would the Lord have me come out of Babylon? I offer you a few suggestions along this line, which I trust may be helpful.
I advise firmness and courage, blended with moderation and love. The truth of itself is sufficiently strong, without our adding to it any of our weight in the way of invective or sarcasm. “Preach the Word,” says the Apostle; “Speak the truth in love.” Begin at once to preach on the good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people, showing to all people of the Lord, and all others who will hear, something of the lengths and the breadths, the heights and the depths, of the love of God which passes all understanding. After a few discourses of this kind have filled their hearts with a high estimate of the divine character, preach a discourse on the meaning of the word “hell” as found in the Old Testament; another discourse on the meaning of “hell” as found in the New Testament. Nothing in these sermons can conflict with any reasonable or proper denominational limitations. Get your sermons out of the usual rut, and more into Bible studies, doing the talking yourself, of
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course, but appealing to your congregation, not so much through oratory, as through reason and references to the Scriptures. Thus gradually, from Scripture to Scripture, you may draw the attention of your own hearers, and those in your vicinity, to what the Scriptures do say, and they doubtless reverence God’s Word. If later a conflict with the creed shall be thrust upon you, you can appeal to the congregation as to whether they desire to be bound by a creed of men, or whether their consecration to the Lord was to be faithful to him, in harmony with his Word. Stand up courageously, dear brother, and if this shall mean (what it doubtless will in the end) the rejection of your message and of you, God will bless those Scriptures to your comfort, and the enlightenment, perhaps, of others in that vicinity.
As you say, the Lord in his providence is not arranging for a paid ministry, after the ordinary fashion, but in the present movement toward the methods of the early Church paid ministry is abandoned, and the original methods of laboring with hands and preaching the truth, as strength and opportunity will afford, is coming into vogue amongst those who are hearing the Shepherd’s voice.
When faithfulness to the truth shall have led you outside of all sectarian lines (as it is sure to do, for, as the Apostle declared, “the time is coming when they will not endure sound doctrine”), we would be pleased to have you serve the Society as a colporteur, and will be glad to do what we can to co-operate in the use of your talents in some such manner, in the service of the truth, carrying the message to those who have not as yet heard it.
Meantime, remember, dear brother, that you have our love, and sympathy, and prayers, and that we shall be always glad to hear from you.
Your brother and servant in the Lord,
C. T. RUSSELL
PASTOR C. T. RUSSELL,
I wish to thank you for the tracts and the paper. I will send the money as soon as I get it in the fall. I did not know I would enjoy it so much, but it is the only pleasure I have, as there are no Dawnists here and no one is in sympathy with my belief. I sent for the tracts to distribute among friends, intending then to canvass for MILLENNIAL DAWN. I am sure I could do the work well, but my parents will not allow me for fear the churches would turn against us. They think because I am not eighteen that I do not realize what is right. When I left our Church they thought I was crazy, but I know it was God who sent me the DAWN books. It is very hard to be able to reap in the harvest and yet be held back by authority.
But I realize in all things that my life is in God’s hands and I am content to go through the fire since He leads me.
I wish I could tell you how I appreciate the blessed knowledge of MILLENNIAL DAWN! You will some day know how we all feel about it. Oh, how I rejoice in my loneliness to know there are hundreds of “like precious faith” around me though I do not know them, and I hope they remember in their assemblies the isolated ones.
I would be glad if you would write me some words of comfort and remember me in your prayers, for sometimes I do feel so lonely; and God bless you.
Yours in consecration,
MY DEAR YOUNG SISTER IN CHRIST:—
I am glad to hear from you, and to know of the depth of your consecration to the Lord, and of your appreciation of his glorious plan. I rejoice that you will now have the regular visits of the WATCH TOWER, which will compensate to some extent your lack of personal fellowship with others of like precious faith. It is apparently the Lord’s arrangement, by which many of his people are enabled to follow the advice of the Apostle, in Heb. 10:25, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.” Our hearts meet together in the study of the Word, in connection with the WATCH TOWER helps for Bible study, as well as meeting at the throne of grace. Through this means the Lord seems to be blessing, refreshing, strengthening and instructing and preparing for the Kingdom, some of his dear “Jewels.”
You are quite right in respect to your duty: so long as you are under age you have no discretion in the matter of obedience to your parents, except in the case of any demand in violation of your conscience, and this is not your present situation.
Be assured, dear sister, that faithfulness to the Lord under the trials and difficulties, as they are permitted to come to you, will, in his providence, work out blessing. He is able to keep us; he is able to open and close the doors of opportunity. Let us trust him fully. Ultimately we will see more and more of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the wisdom and riches of his grace. May the Lord’s blessing continue with you.
Your brother and servant in the Lord,
C. T. RUSSELL.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
Greetings to you in the Lord.
I wish I were able to tell you of the intense joy and blessing I received from the Dayton Convention. It was a day long to be remembered, and may our blessed Lord and Chief Reaper give the increase to that seed sowing, as the Dayton friends and yourself so zealously have done the planting and watering. It brings to my imagination some of the scenes that must have taken place when our dear Savior spake as never man spake to the crowds that pressed him. Glorious ministry! to be co-laborers together with Him!
In your comments in a TOWER of recent date on John 12:24, you said that our Lord’s going down into death brought forth much fruit—the first fruits—the Church, the 144,000. Thinking on this it occurred to me, Will not the Church as so many grains of wheat (by virtue of our Heavenly Father’s blessed arrangement in Christ) going down into death, bring forth the same amount of fruit in proportion? Reasoning thus, I found that if one brought forth 144,000, that number would bring forth 144,000 times 144,000, or 20,736,000,000. Ah! I thought, here is where Brother Russell must get his twenty thousand millions to which he refers so often in his sermons as representing earth’s dead, and specially mentioned in the Tract, “Millennial Hopes Examined.” Now, dear Brother, is this a mere coincidence or did you use this method in addition to the one mentioned in the Tract?
The light of His parousia is growing brighter and brighter as the Truth shines from the blessed Word; how much (and yet how little) I appreciate the various lightning flashes that come from the TOWER, (the “sign” of the Son of Man in heaven); how they clear up and purify the murky atmosphere that has surrounded the Word these many centuries, and wonderful miracle as it were, like of old, the thunder came in the harvest. So here in this “harvest” the thunders have uttered their voices with no uncertain sound, and verily to-day are shaking the very foundations of Ecclesiasticism, and by the time the last one speaks so that all hear, only those things will remain that cannot be shaken, God’s blessed, glorious Truth. To Him be glory and honor and praise through Christ Jesus throughout all ages. Amen.
Your Brother in the one Hope,
C. B. S., Ohio.
I am glad to have your suggestion respecting the proportions of the fruit of our Lord’s death as represented in the Church of the First-born (144,000) and the afterfruit of these, 20,736,000,000. I had not noted this correspondency, and hence it had nothing whatever to do with my calculations of the world’s dead.
Yours in our Lord,
C. T. RUSSELL.