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VOL. XXVI. SEPTEMBER 15, 1905. No. 18
Views from the Watch Tower……………………275
Zionism’s Split on the Line of Faith………275
Keeping the Lord Informed…………………275
Missionary Motives Set Forth………………276
Mob Violence Increasing……………………276
Germany’s Religious Turmoil……………………277
The Work for a Converted Will…………………278
Good Purposes of Heart………………………279
The Power of Faith………………………281
Defiling the Temples……………………….282
The Lord is My Keeper…………………………282
Weighed in the Balances………………………283
The Master’s Touch (Poem)……………………285
Some Interesting Questions……………………285
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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.
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
ZIONISM’S SPLIT ON THE LINE OF FAITH
THE recent division of the “Zionists” into two parties is evidently along the lines of faith and unbelief—a sifting. Dr. Herzl’s death prepared the way. Zangwill, one of the principal subsequent leaders, favored the acceptance of the offer of the British Government of a large and fertile tract of land in Africa, nearly a thousand miles south of Palestine. He threw the weight of his influence toward it and swayed a considerable number, who doubtless, like himself, viewed the Zionist movement merely from the humanitarian standpoint.
It is to the credit of the movement as a whole that it rejected the proposal. It proves that the Zionist movement is not merely for social betterment of the Russian Jews, but mainly a race regeneration built upon faith in the divine promises which attach to Palestine—the Land of Promise. It is worthy of note that not one American representative joined the Zangwill split, though he visited this country specially to advocate the acceptance of the British offer.
THE MOVEMENT’S GROWING FORCE
It is worthy of note also that each year this Zionist movement gains favor with the Jews. At its start a few years ago the learned generally scoffed at it. Now we read that, notwithstanding the death of the able leader, Dr. Herzl, the last congress held at Basle, Switzerland, was one of extra power intellectually. The movement is in accord with prophecy, and delay will only enkindle the desire and hope and faith necessary to a successful entrance into the land when once the Turks grant the privilege of so doing and some degree of self-government.
In a signed statement Professor Warburg of the Berlin University, an eminent Zionist and economist, says:—
“The East African resolutions are not a backward step. The fact that Zionism can afford to decline the British offer is a proof of its strength and determination to remain steadfast in adherence to its basic principles. Zionism does not contemplate an economic experiment, but the renewal of national life by the Jewish peoples, whose future lies in the Orient. The world must realize that the Zionists are bent on the restoration of Palestine to Israel.”
A press report of the conference thus describes some of its features:
Herzl was called the new Moses, at first derisively, but now he deserves the name in earnest. His words are quoted everywhere as those of the new prophet of regenerated Israel.
Delegates from the intellectual aristocracy of the world were there. It is doubtful if any parliamentary body ever held equalled it in brain power. The flower of the Jewish people were there. The orators spoke in English, German, Russian, French and classic Hebrew. All physical types were represented—giants, dwarfs, Jerusalem rabbis in Oriental robes, speaking to English baronets, all bound together by the common idea of re-building the Jewish State in Palestine, where the Jews, now crushed by Cossack rule, shall show the world what the race can accomplish through concerted effort. Scholars and writers galore were there; the foremost, Nordau and Marmock of Paris, Warburg of Berlin and Zangwill of London.
Nordau, pale with emotion, opened proceedings, standing near Herzl’s vacant seat. Sobs were audible throughout the hall as, with admirable oratory, Nordau eulogized the dead leader to an immense audience standing with bowed heads, the Jewish mourning attitude.
Nordau stigmatized the selfishness of the Jews who, although best able to second Herzl’s efforts, were holding aloof. He pictured the Jewish people as a family divided against itself. He exclaimed, “Our people had Herzl, but Herzl, alas, had no people.”
Addressing Herzl as though present, he invoked the dead leader’s emperor-like personality. He said: “Rest in peace, for what you built we shall forever treasure.”
KEEPING THE LORD INFORMED
Bishop Potter (Episcopalian), of New York “subway tavern” fame, promptly prepared the following prayer for his people on the eve of the Russo-Japan Peace Conference. From the wording of the prayer the Lord may be expected to infer that the arbitrators are “saints” and representatives of saintly nations. The mention of the Millennium, when swords will be beaten into plowshares, seems a trifle strained in view of the fact that armaments on land and sea are increasing as never before and wars are multiplying, and presumably the Bishop is a pre-Millennialist whose hope is the conversion of the world by the preaching which has accomplished so little in nineteen
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centuries. The Millennium is near indeed, but coming through wars and anarchy such as never yet have been—coming by the interposition of Immanuel as King of kings and Lord of lords, in power and great glory. The Bishop’s prayer follows:—
“Almighty God, whose is the spirit of unity and concord, and who makest men to be of one mind in an house, be, we beseech thee, with thy servants who shall soon assemble on these shores to seek for a basis of peace. Overrule their deliberations with thy heavenly wisdom, fill them with the spirit of brotherhood, and so hasten the day when all men shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, when thy children shall be taught of the Lord and when great shall be the peace of thy children. All of which we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”
MISSIONARY MOTIVES SET FORTH
The following letter will be read with interest by many. It appears that Secretary Barton, of the American Board of Foreign Missions, communicated with Mr. J. D. Rockefeller, requesting his contribution to the work being done by the Board, and Mr. Rockefeller commissioned his Private Secretary to look into the matter and to report. It was on the strength of that report (see the letter below) that Mr. Rockefeller contributed the $100,000, the acceptance of which made such a stir last spring. Whether Secretary Barton’s share of the donation was one-half (the amount allowed solicitors in some other similar societies) we are not informed.
The letter, or “report,” it will be noted, deals with Foreign Missions from the standpoint of Civilization rather than Christianization. It appeals to morals and trade and dollars, rather than, as of old, to flames and devils and torments. Mr. Gates’ report to Mr. Rockefeller runs thus:
THE VALUE OF FOREIGN MISSIONS
“We have had long interviews with Dr. Barton, and we have examined each item of proposed expenditure presented by him in detail, with maps before us. We have given it careful attention, both here at the office and at my home in Mont Clair. In every instance we were satisfied that the money asked would be wisely expended and would fill a real need and perform substantial service for mankind.
“No one can observe foreign peoples at all without being impressed with the great need of foreign people in education, medicine and surgery, morals and religion, applications of science to agriculture, manufacture, transportation, hygiene, civil and social institutions and in all things which tend to relieve man from misery and make for health, happiness and progress.
“A vast amount of good has been done. Statistics of mere converts furnish no sort of measure. The fact is that heathen nations are being everywhere honeycombed with light and civilization and with modern industrial life and applications of modern science through the direct or indirect agencies of the missionaries. Look at Japan, for illustration. Quite apart from the question of persons converted, the mere commercial results of missionary effort to our own land is worth—I had almost said a thousand-fold what has been spent.
“For illustration: Our commerce today with the Hawaiian Islands, which are now Christianized and no longer take missionary money, is, I am told, $17,000,000 a year. Five per cent. of that in one year would represent all the money that was ever spent in Christianizing and civilizing the natives. When the missionaries went there the Hawaiians were cannibals, without a dollar of exports or imports. Today these islands are composed of great wealth. What is true of Hawaii is true of Japan. Missionary enterprise, therefore, viewed solely from a commercial standpoint, is immensely profitable. From the point of view of subsistence for Americans, our import trade, traceable mainly to the channels of intercourse opened up by missionaries, is enormous. Imports from heathen lands furnish us cheaply with many things, indeed, which we now regard as necessities.
“Gladstone declared that modern applications of steam and modern machinery had multiplied the productive power of each man in England by (was it not?) 600 over what it was 200 years ago. Never mind the exact figure. We know the multiplication is great. Missionaries and missionary schools are introducing the application of modern science, steam and electric power, modern agricultural machinery and modern manufacture into foreign lands. The result will be eventually to multiply the productive power of foreign countries many times.
“This will enormously enrich them as buyers of American products, and enormously enrich us as buyers of their products. We are only in the very dawn of commerce, and we owe that dawn, with all its promise, more than to anything
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else, to the pioneer work and the channels opened up by Christian missionaries. Missionaries are largely influential today in the diplomacy of the Orient. The value to America, therefore, of missions is simply incalculable. The fruitage is only in its beginning.
“So I think the subject of foreign missions should command the interest of patriots and philanthropists, men of all creeds and of no creed, men of commerce, manufacture, finance, of bankers, importers and exporters of our country, and of all who have the well-being of their own country or of mankind at heart. In the long run it will be found that the effect of the missionary enterprise will be to bring to them the peaceful conquest of the world.”
MOB VIOLENCE INCREASING
We have all noted the increasing tendency to mob violence, anarchy, disregard of law, in our own land, especially in connection with strikes and lock-outs. The same spirit grows everywhere, as evidenced by the following late press cablegrams:
FINNISH MOB THREATENING
Viborg, Finland, Aug. 15.—The court-martial which tried Prokope, who killed Col. Kremarenke, Chief of Police of Viborg, July 21, today sentenced him to be hanged. A regiment of dragoons has arrived to reinforce the garrison, as the mob threatens reprisals. Prokope refused to plead unless tried by a Finnish court, and the witnesses summoned by the prosecution said they would testify only before a Finnish Judge. A crowd of 5,000 persons made a demonstration outside the Governor’s house here yesterday against the trial by court-martial.
BALTI PROVINCES ALARMED
St. Petersburg, Aug. 15.—The situation in the Baltic provinces becomes daily more terrible. The Slav population, exasperated against the landed proprietors, for the most part nobles of German blood, is constantly making attacks on life and property. The upper classes and higher bourgeoisie are hastily leaving the country. The Government has appointed an extraordinary commission to report on the situation and the necessary measures to be taken.
5,000 HUNGRY MEN IN ARMS IN SPAIN
Seville, Spain, Aug. 15.—A commission of landed proprietors and farmers have laid before the authorities the conditions prevailing in and about Osuna in Andalusia. They estimate that there are 5,000 workmen armed with rifles roaming about the country. The municipal authorities disclaim
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responsibility for this condition of affairs. The jails are crowded with persons who have committed no offense, but who have surrendered to the police on the pretense of having committed crimes in order to get shelter and food. The charitable societies have exhausted their resources, and government action is awaited. Hunger riots are of daily occurrence, and are becoming more and more serious. Theft and pillage are common, and it is impossible to maintain order. Reinforcements of the civil guard are needed in every town and village. Not a drop of rain has fallen in that district since March, and the summer and autumn crops will be ruined unless rain falls soon. It is feared that the peasantry will take the law in their own hands, and even now signs of open revolt are plentiful and exasperation at the Government’s inaction is becoming daily more pronounced.
* * *
This is the spirit which must be expected more and more to develop during the next few years, according to the Scriptural forecast—”Every man’s hand against his brother and no peace to him that goeth out nor to him that cometh in.”
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GERMANY’S RELIGIOUS TURMOIL
“MORE than one solemn voice is being raised within the Protestant churches of Germany, voices of warning, seriously asking the Church to prepare for the coming of evil days. Three terrible enemies beset the Reformed faith; and these carry on a war of the most ruthless character, and give absolutely no quarter, just as they expect none.
“There is, first, the old enemy, Rome, ceaselessly on the watch perpetually pushing forward her advanced positions, taking advantage of every slip and error in the opposite camp, sleepless, indefatigable, unscrupulous in her methods. The organization of the Church of Rome in Germany is far superior to anything which the Evangelical churches can show. The discipline of her clergy is perfect. These are apparently not bothered by racking doubt as to the faith that is in them. They have no questions to decide about theological chairs, and ‘positive’ and ‘liberal’ professors. Their supply of divinity students is not falling off. Their exchequers are full to overflowing, and a recent report of the Archbishop of Ratisbon boasted that never before in the history of German Catholicism has so much been subscribed by the faithful for purposes of religion. Their associations for young men and young women show a full list of members, and are all financially sound. And their great annual political gatherings, at which they send messages to Pope and Kaiser and receive congratulations in return from both these potentates, are full of enthusiasm and give unmistakable evidence of an advancing cause.
“What is being done by the Evangelical churches of Germany to weaken the Church of Rome, either spiritually or politically? I fear absolutely nothing. There are Gustavus Adolphus associations and Protestant Alliances, and many another society with resounding names: but what are they doing? Where are the proofs of their progress? One asks in vain, and the fact remains that throughout the land Rome is united, compact, strong, growing stronger, militant; while the Protestant churches are torn with internal troubles, feeble, presenting no united front, and above all distracted by religious doubts.
SOCIALISM VERSUS CLERICALISM
“Arrayed against Protestantism to probably a far greater extent than against Catholicism is the whole force of the Social Democrats. Few people outside Germany have any conception of the hatred with which the Socialist leaders follow the Evangelical churches. To a very large extent their hatred is returned with interest by the leaders of the Church. The feeling of hatred against the Church is easily enough explained. It exists in all countries with a State Church, but in Germany to a still greater extent than—say, in England. In England, although parson and squire had common interests and were invariably united against the poor man, there was always, even at the worst of times, an eminently respectable residuum which threw in its lot with the poor man, and defended him against his oppressors. But in Germany, especially in Prussia, this residuum has hardly existed, and the great landowner and the great manufacturer have invariably had the pastors at their back.
“The pastors in Germany, with few exceptions support every measure which tells against freedom. They support universal military service, and are identified in every way with the crushing military life of the country. They support the antiquated electoral system of Prussia, which practically excludes every poor man from the poll. During the exciting times of four years ago, when the proposed new taxes on breadstuffs rent the country into two warring camps, I do not remember a single clerical voice raised on behalf of cheap bread and against the utterly selfish agrarianism of the big landlords. In a word, they are opposed to reform as the people understand reform, and in consequence there is a gulf fixed between the representatives of the working classes and the representatives of the Church which it is impossible to bridge over. At almost every election throughout the country the pastor’s candidate is opposed by a Socialist, the two men representing diametrically opposite ways of political thought.
PROTESTANT UNBELIEF A FOE
“But no enemy of the Protestant Church in Germany is so potent and destructive as unbelief. Were only unbelief removed, Rome and Socialism might vainly unite their forces. The believing Church is invincible against all attacks; the unbelieving Church falls a prey to any and every enemy. What can we think of the controversy which has been raging lately in a portion of the Protestant Church press as to the exact number of ‘positive’ and ‘liberal’ professors of theology in German universities? By ‘positive’ is meant those who believe in Christ as very God; by
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‘liberal’ is meant those who do not believe either in the divinity of his person or of his teaching. It is significant of the whole situation that these leading Protestant journals are busily engaged in collecting such statistics. And what do these statistics reveal? A very terrible state of affairs, viz., that the number of unbelieving professors far surpasses the number of believers—96 liberals and only 79 positive. This is a state of affairs causing jubilation in the ultramontane camp. Hear the leading and most popular Roman Catholic journal in Germany:—
“‘We can, however, still believe that of those Protestants who still interest themselves in Church affairs there is probably a ‘positive’ majority. The most remarkable thing about this classification into ‘liberal’ and ‘positive’ is that both parties belong to one and the same Church. And yet here are two totally distinct religions, as distinct as Lutheranism and Catholicism.
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Ninety-six ‘liberals’ and seventy-nine ‘positives’ adorning the same Church, teaching the same doctrines—the former absolutely agnostic, the latter anything the government wishes them to be.’
“And listen to another voice from the press: ‘Inside the Lutheran-Evangelical churches there seems to be a perpetual war of factions, each eager to obtain an ascendancy over the other, and this chiefly with a view to the loaves and fishes. It is not which can do God the best service, or which can do most to promote God’s Kingdom at home and abroad; it is not which faction or section can do most to elevate the masses, to make their homes happier and brighter. Instead of these laudable subjects for emulation and rivalry, we have petty disputes about the Canon of Scripture and the authenticity of the Gospels, and endless and rancorous quarrels about the filling of certain theological chairs. It is always a thankless task to prophesy, but we can safely assert that if things go on for another twenty years as they have been going, there will be no theological chairs to fill in any Protestant German University.’ This extract is from a secular paper well known for its moderation and fairness.
INFIDELITY RAMPANT IN GERMANY
“The works of agnostic professors and their followers are flooding the country and are being eagerly read. In the windows of every book-shop one passes they are displayed in rows. Quite a sensation is being made with a book by Dr. Daniel Wolter, ‘Egypt and the Bible.’ The author proves to his own satisfaction that the ‘myths’ of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses are directly derived from Egyptian sun myths; and that consequently these Old Testament worthies were simply characters from these mythological tales of the Egyptians, filtered through a Hebrew imagination.
“There is another still more dangerous class of book engaged in discussing ‘the historical Christ’: and, under a vast show of learning and much appearance of critical fairness, the authors one and all come to the conclusion that no such person as Jesus Christ ever existed; and that if he did, he certainly does not deserve, owing to the imperfections of his character and teaching, the adoration of mankind. This is the whole trend of Eduard von Hartmann’s ‘The Christianity of the New Testament,’ which is now in everyone’s mouth. The eminent philosopher sees nothing in Christ’s teaching or character. He describes him as ‘an amiable and modest young man, who, through a remarkable concatenation of circumstances, came to the idea, at that time epidemic, that he was the expected Messiah, and who perished in consequence.’ According to Hartmann, some of his ideas were admirable, some doubtful, some eminently trivial; but even the most admirable of them have no claim to immortality, and have been better expressed and more powerfully brought home to men by other teachers, both before and after him.”—M. A. M., in The London Quarterly Register.
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THE WORK FOR A CONVERTED WILL
“The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”—Prov. 16:31,32.
TO BESIEGE and capture a city is a great undertaking, because every city has its massive defences of law and force, and is built with all the probable contingencies of attacks from enemies in view. In olden times the defenses were walls and gates; but now they are of the improved order of governmental arrangements. Cities and communities of immense proportions are now banded together into great nations for mutual cooperation and defense, so that to attack a city now is to attack a nation, and to be withstood with all the defensive armory of the nation; and in no instance can one undertake it single-handed and alone. He who would undertake it must be backed by other powers equal, or at least apparently equal, to the emergency. And the victory of such a general will depend on his superior skill and ingenuity in utilizing the various forces and advantages in his possession against those employed by the defenders of the city.
Such ability as is thus required in a great general is quite rare. It indicates indomitable purpose, methodical planning and skill in execution, though these good qualities are often exercised in a bad cause. Such ability has always been highly esteemed among men, and the aspirants for fame have, therefore, in times past, sought it chiefly along this line, though they gained their laurels at the expense of the blood and groans of millions of their fellow-men.
While the exercise of these successful qualities along the lines of human ambitions is required of earthly heroes, the exercise of similar qualities along the lines of God’s appointment is required of those who would be heroes in his estimation. If there were not a similarity
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in kind of the effort and success the comparison would not be instituted. Let us first notice the similarity, and then the difference, that we may see clearly what the Lord here commends.
To rule one’s spirit (mind, disposition) implies a conflict similar to that of taking a city; for, no matter when we begin, we find entrenched therein many armed and opposing powers. They have possession by heredity—they are there as the result of the fall. And, if we have passed the days of youth, they are the more entrenched, and it requires the greater skill and generalship to rout them. But, whether he begin early or late, he that would rule his own spirit must war a good warfare—he must “fight the good fight” of faith down to the very end of the present existence. If a man would rule his own spirit, he must not only storm all the fortresses of inherited evils which seem to be almost a part of his nature, but, having gained possession and taken his seat upon the throne of this symbolic city (viz., the will), he must thereafter be continually on the defensive; for the old enemies are constantly on the alert, and ever and anon seeking to regain possession, so that he that continues to rule his own spirit is one who not only has routed the enemy, Sin, from the throne of his being, but who continues to keep him at bay.
To rule one’s own spirit is by no means an easy task; and, as in the illustration, it cannot be done single-handed and alone. Consequently, the wise general will invoke all the assistance at his command, remembering the words of the Apostle—”We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the powers of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” These powers of the world, the flesh, and the devil are all closely allied; and, therefore, he who plans for conquest and an established reign thereafter must seek alliance with another and a stronger power; which power is tendered to all who earnestly undertake the great work. This power is none other than the almighty arm of our God, who says to all who accept his strength, “Greater is he that is for you than all they that be against you;” gird yourselves like men, fear not, be strong.
The ruling of this symbolic city—one’s own spirit—never will be done until first the commanding general, the Will, has decided to change his allegiance from Sin to God, and to rout the rebels who resist the change. But, in the words of a trite saying, “Where there is a will there’s a way”—for good or for evil. God will assist, through various agencies, toward good; Satan, with various agencies, toward evil. If the Will says, It must be done, it calls in the needed and available help, and forthwith it sets all the other faculties of the mind at work, first to subjugate and then to rule and regulate the entire being. The Conscience is commanded to keep a vigilant watch over all the mental operations; and the Judgment, under the influence of the Conscience, must decide as to righteousness or unrighteousness and report to the Will, which is under the same moral influence. Thus we have the three departments of government established—the legislative, which should always be the Conscience; the judicial, the Judgment; and the executive, the Will. And in every well-regulated or righteously ruled mind all the other faculties must make their appeal to this Congress, and that, as the Will insists, in due and proper order. Their appeal to the Will to execute their desires before submitting them first to Conscience and then to Judgment should never be tolerated; but, when approved there, they may freely urge their claims upon the executive power, the Will. But the Will governs; and, if it be weak, the government is slack, and the appetites and passions and unholy ambitions of the whole man take advantage of the situation: they seek to overbalance Judgment and to silence Conscience; and loudly clamor to the Will to have their own wild way. If the Will be weak, yet striving to keep under the influence of Conscience and sound Judgment, it will be fitful and irregular in its rulings, and the government will be unstable and ultimately wholly at the mercy of the appetites, passions and ambitions. The condition of such a soul is one of anarchy, which, unless its wild course be speedily arrested, hurriedly sweeps the whole being toward destruction.
It is all-important, therefore, that the Will be consecrated to God and righteousness; and, secondly, that it strengthen itself in the Lord, and in his name and strength rule with a firm hand, cultivating as its assistants
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Conscience and Judgment, in determining the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, as expressed in his Word.
The Will has the most difficult office to fill; and the Lord’s commendation is to the man of resolute Will, under the influence of a divinely-enlightened Conscience and Judgment. Blessed is the man who sets his house in order, and who maintains that order to the end of his days. Truly, to such a one the hoary head is a crown of glory. The warring elements of his nature having been brought into subjection, the arts of peace have been cultivated, and now they flourish and adorn his character; and as Mr. Whittier beautifully expressed it—
“All the jarring notes of life
Seem blending in a psalm;
And all the angles of the strife,
Now rounding into calm.”
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GOOD PURPOSES OF HEAR
—DANIEL 1:8-20.—SEPTEMBER 17.—
Golden Text:—”Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.”
THE BOOK of Daniel, as we have it in our common version of the Bible, corresponds to that which was accepted by the Jews, but attached to it were three stories (“Bel and the Dragon,” “The Song of the Three Hebrew Children,” “The Story of Susannah”), which have nothing whatever to do with Daniel, and which bear no marks of being his production nor give any evidence of inspiration. These are excluded by the Hebrews as apocryphal, but they are incorporated in the Roman Catholic version of the Scriptures.
This book is one against which the higher critics have thrown and are still throwing the weight of their influence. As with the criticisms of nearly all the other
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books of the Bible so with this—they claim it was not written until long after the time of Daniel and was merely given his name. The particular ground for this criticism is a misinterpretation of the prophecy, which applies it to the times of Antiochus Epiphanes. Strangely enough these grounds of objection become to us, who have a different view of the meaning of those prophecies, one of the strongest evidences possible of the inspiration of the writer. Certainly no prophet ever described more particularly the great events of universal history, certainly none ever marked more clearly and distinctly than did Daniel the precise time of the first advent of Messiah. The prophecy of the seventy weeks (490 years) was most remarkedly fulfilled. The last, the seventieth of those weeks of years, began with Messiah the Prince, began at the time of our Lord’s baptism and anointing with the holy Spirit. His cross marked the middle of that week, as the prophet predicted—”In the midst of the week Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself.” The close of that prophetic week marked the end of special favor to the Jew and the opening of the door to the Gentiles, Cornelius being the first Gentile convert ushered into the favors and blessings of Spiritual Israel.
Our Lord undoubtedly referred to the beginning of the seventieth week of this prophecy when he sent forth his disciples to preach, saying, “The time is fulfilled.” What time was fulfilled? We answer the sixty and nine weeks of Daniel’s prophecy had expired, and the seventieth week, which was to usher in the advent of Messiah, had come. No time could be fulfilled unless it had been foretold, and we know of no other prophecy which distinctly foretold the time of the Lord’s advent. And again, it should be noticed that our Lord distinctly referred to Daniel, calling him by name and quoted a part of his prophecy, giving us the assurance that it would be fulfilled in the future. That future fulfilment has not yet come, but we believe is near, even at the door—”A time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.” Our Lord adds to the prophecy the words, “No, nor ever shall be.” (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:15-21.) The prophet Ezekiel, Daniel’s contemporary associated in the exile, twice referred to him in his prophecy, classing him with Noah and Job. He mentions expressly Daniel’s great wisdom. (Ezek. 14:14-20; 28:3.) However, as stated at first, those whose eyes of understanding are now opened to see the meaning of Daniel’s prophecy and to read the fulfilment of many parts of it in the events of history have no need of any outside evidence or testimony or proof that it was written under divine instruction, and will have no question that the remaining portions of it will be fulfilled with equal accuracy.
FOUR NOBLE YOUNG MEN
As already noted, the first captivity by Nebuchadnezzar included the very cream of the Jewish nation. Amongst them were four young men of about sixteen years of age whose names implied a parentage that was reverential, loyal to God. Thus Daniel signified, “God is my judge,” Hananiah, “Jehovah is gracious,” Mishael, “God-like,” Azariah, “Jehovah has helped.” The fruit of godly training is manifest in the course pursued by these young men, as related in the present lesson. Their captivity doubtless seemed to them and all concerned a great hardship, a sore trial, and yet in God’s providence it was overruled to be to them a great blessing, and that blessing has come down through the ages to fortify, strengthen and encourage even the spiritual Israelites.
The four boys mentioned were chosen by King Nebuchadnezzar, because of their brightness and general intelligence, to be specially educated with others in a class from which he drew his assistants and councillors of state. One of the first things done was the changing of their names: Henceforth Daniel was known amongst the Chaldeans as Belteshazzar, Hananiah was named Shadrach, Mishael was named Meshach and Azariah was named Abednego, these names implying relationship or servitude to the deities of Babylonia.
But changing their names by no means changed their hearts, just as their transporting from the land of promise to Babylon did not turn them from loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God in whose existence they believed and whose promises they revered, and whom consequently they desired to please and to serve. Daniel would appear to have been the foremost or leader amongst them, but the courage and fidelity of all were fully attested, Daniel’s by his experience in the lion’s den and the other three in their experiences in the fiery furnace.
GOOD BLOOD FROM CHEAP FOOD
The school or college into which these four young Hebrews were introduced was maintained by the king and supplied with wines and various dainties usual to the table of the king and his nobility; but Daniel purposed in his heart that if possible he would choose plain food and not defile himself with the king’s dainties and wine. Therefore he early made a request for the simple food here called pulse, a general name no doubt for vegetables, but particularly for the varieties we now know as peas, beans, etc.
The expression, “defile,” was doubtless of double application: first, the meats and dainties of the heathen were usually dedicated to their deities in some manner, and this to a certain degree would defile in the estimation of those who would recognize that there was one living and true God whose blessing alone they might ask upon their food and drink and every interest. But the separate descriptions, meats and wines, rather implies that there was more than sentimental defilement connected with the matter. It seems to imply that Daniel recognized that his own health of mind and body would be clearer and better if he abstained from many of those delicacies and wines commonly in use. Both were good arguments—good reasons for avoiding, if possible, that class of food and taking the simple diet. We might here remark that it is a recognized fact in the light of the closest scrutiny that peas and beans and wheat contain all the necessary elements for the development and support of the human body—bones, muscle and brain. Those competent to speak with authority on the subject assure us that beans will yield to the human system a larger amount of muscular strength than the best of beefsteak. We are not teaching vegetarianism, but it is well for all to know that they have in a vegetable diet all the necessaries of life. This is important in view of the increasing price of meat, and it may be of still greater importance to remember in the future.
Daniel was evidently of a kind to make friends with good people under all circumstances, and it does not surprise us to find the statement of verse 9 that he soon was in favor and “tender love with the prince of the eunuchs,” who was the steward having charge of the
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students of this college. Daniel’s appeal was made to him, but was met with the objection that if by reason of such a change of diet those under his charge should be dwarfed or stunted or physically impoverished it might not only cost him his position but his very life—”endanger his head.”
REWARDED WITH GOOD HEALTH
Daniel, however, was fully convinced that the plainer diet would be none to his injury, and urged a ten days’ test, on the results of which he was willing to rest his request. The plan was followed, and at the end of the ten days Daniel, and his companions who joined him in the request, were found to be in better flesh and every way brighter and more intelligent than their associates who were eating of the richer fruits and wines. As a result they were permitted to continue their abstemious diet, no doubt much to the amusement of their associates in the school, who without doubt would consider them foolish for thus choosing simple fare when they might have the king’s food. It undoubtedly did cost some self-denial to all of these young captives to forego the pleasures of the palate, to endure the sneers of their companions, to be thought strange, peculiar, to be cut off in a measure, ostracised, from those who would be inclined to consider them common people without the cultivated tastes of the aristocratic. The effects, however, were good everyway, and it will be well for all of the Lord’s people to draw a lesson here in respect to their diet as well as in regard to other affairs of life which have so much to do in the formation of character, the character which is so all-important for those who would be heirs of the Kingdom.
It is undoubtedly true that those who are given to gluttony and the use of alcoholic liquors stupefy their brains and are, therefore, to a certain degree disqualified for whatever business or other matter which may come before them. Some of this class may get along well in the world, but doubtless they would get along better so far as clearness of intellect is concerned if they were abstemious. However, it must be conceded that to mingle with the world, to conform to its habits and customs, to be the “hail-fellow-well-met” with the children of this world is the surest way to worldly success, honor of men and worldly prosperity under present conditions, while Satan is still the prince of this world. On the other hand, the abstemious course, self-denial, the practice of self-restraint, though disesteemed and sneered at by the world, is all-important in the upbuilding of the character likeness of Christ, and all who are seeking to walk in the footsteps of Jesus should remember this, and should endeavor to fight a good fight against their own appetites, their natural desires and for the upbuilding of themselves as New Creatures possessed of the new mind, the spirit of a sound mind, which associates with and relates to all the affairs of life, food, raiment, etc.
THE POWER OF FAITH
Daniel and his associates, under the influence of the promise made to Abraham and his seed, were looking forward to the glorious Kingdom of the future when Immanuel would be King over all the earth. They were seeking to develop characters in accord with the will of God, that thus they might have a share in the better resurrection. We are glad for them, and are sure that when the new dispensation shall open up, the high positions which those ancient worthies will be granted in the earthly phase of the Kingdom will more than compensate them for the little self-denials which at the moment were no doubt severe tests of character and heart loyalty. And if this is true of those who are the heirs of the earthly phase of that Abrahamic Covenant how much more important to us who by the grace of God are living during this Gospel age and have been called of the Lord to joint-heirship with the Lord in the Spiritual Kingdom. As ours will be the still higher reward and the still higher station, it follows that the trial of our faith will be still more crucial than that of the ancient worthies. The Lord places us frequently where we have opportunities of choosing between this and that, and where, therefore, it becomes a matter of character or principle with us which we should choose. There is no virtue in choosing that which alone is possible to us. As the Scriptures declare, “The Lord your God proveth you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 13:3.) In proportion to our love for the Lord will be our obedience to him, and obedience to him means obedience to the principles of righteousness for which he stands and which are inculcated by his Word; and principles obediently followed develop character, which in turn, by patience, perseverance, must be crystallized, become firm and fixed and unwavering.
THE BLESSING OF THE LORD
God’s blessing was upon those boys and their fixity of principle. He blessed them with superior wisdom, knowledge and grace, so that not only the eunuch perceived his favor in them but their companions also, and ultimately the king. The course of training in that college required three years (v. 5). At the end of that time the king called all the students before him and conversed with them, asking questions, etc. The superiority of the four young Hebrews was very manifest, and they were at once selected for officers of the king’s court and subsequently reached very high positions of influence and power in the kingdom as governors, etc., especially Daniel. Nevertheless, as might be expected, this favor with God and with the king meant to a considerable degree the jealousy and enmity of their associates. We see this, for instance, in the reporting of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to the king; we see it also in the casting of Daniel into the lions’ den, the result of a conspiracy amongst the various officers and wise men of the kingdom against Daniel.
DARE TO BE A DANIEL
Here we have illustrated our Lord’s words to us his followers, “Whosoever will live godly in this present time shall suffer persecution”—opposition from the world, the flesh and the adversary. This opposition is so great that many would not think for a moment of encountering it; they therefore are not of the special class whom the Lord is now seeking. Others more courageous, more loyal to the Lord, essay to fight the good fight, but when they come to realize something of the opposition and its weight and force and how it touches all the affairs of life, their hearts fail them, because they have not the sufficiency of faith in the Lord nor the sufficiency of love for him. The faithful, like Daniel, will set themselves for the attainment of their object at any cost. Their faith tells them that their object is worthy of their
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effort; their love inspires them, or, as the Apostle would say, constrains them to obedience even to the extent of laying down their lives in the Lord’s service; neither count they their lives dear unto them that they may win Christ and be found in him.
But there is another side to this question. There are compensations to be had on the Lord’s side and the side of righteousness. Sobriety, self-denial, do not mean merely disappointments, trials, deprivations, oppositions, but they mean also the King’s favor. They mean the satisfaction of the heart, the mind; they mean peace with God and peace with our own consciences, and they mean additionally clearness of mind and restfulness of heart.
DEFILING THE TEMPLES
Daniel’s determination not to be defiled with certain food reminds us of the words of the Apostle, “If any man defile the Temple of God, him will God destroy.” In one sense of the word the Temple of God is the Church, which is now in process of construction as our Lord shapes, fashions and polishes the living stones for places therein. Whoever introduces into the Church that which is defiling, whoever does injury to any of its living stones, is an evil doer in the highest sense of that term, in that he is defiling, injuring the body of Christ, which is the Church. If all could realize this how careful all would be in respect to the bringing in of different errors and false doctrines, misinterpretations of Scripture, etc. How careful each then would be to see that he speaks the things which he does know, that he would confine himself to the things written in the Word of the Lord. In proportion as those who are right at heart see this they will be careful that they do nothing to defile or stumble or injure any of the Lord’s little ones.
In another phase of the subject the Apostle speaks of each body, each member of the New Creation, as a Temple, a Tabernacle, in which for the time being the holy Spirit dwells. From this standpoint we should be careful to have our bodies as clean, as pure, as holy as possible. We cannot transform our flesh to make perfect that which was born in sin and shapen in iniquity, but in proportion as the holy Spirit is received by us and in proportion as it has the control of us, in that same proportion there will be a gradual transforming power of the holy Spirit to work in us to will and to do God’s good pleasure. Such should remember the instruction of the Apostle to all of this class, that they should purge out the old leaven of malice, hatred, envy, etc., and again his admonition that we cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit—perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.—2 Cor. 7:1.
We firmly believe that all who receive that grace of God into good and honest hearts will surely experience a cleansing work—that the Truth will tend to make them cleaner physically as well as mentally. We are not advocating outward cleanliness as godliness, but an inward cleanliness which will do all it can to accomplish an outward cleansing. And very generally it succeeds—the filthiness of the flesh in various senses of the word begin to disappear. In proportion as the spirit of righteousness and truth and love enter into the heart, filthy words, filthy conduct, filthy habits, filthy appearance, all begin to come under the control of the transformed mind.
The Apostle distinguishes between the filthiness of the flesh and that of the spirit, the outward and manifest filthiness and the inward and secret filthiness; and, while
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both are important works, the latter undoubtedly is the more important of the two—to be cleansed from the filthiness of the spirit, filthiness of the mind. This refers not only to licentious thoughts, but to evil thoughts and inclinations of every kind; hatred, malice, strife, revenge, backbiting, evil speaking, all these come under this head of filthiness of the spirit. The poor tongue that utters the bitter words and voices the animosities is merely the servant of the heart, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. If there were no bitterness in the heart how could the tongue shoot out arrows, even bitter words—especially against the righteous, against those who are seeking to walk in the Lord’s ways, however imperfectly—against those whom the Lord has covered with the robe of his righteousness? The Lord grant us more and more of this cleansing of the spirit, that we may be more and more filled with his spirit of love and sympathy and compassion, which does not readily impute evil but is full of mercy and good fruits.
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THE LORD IS MY KEEPER
—PSALM 121:5.—SEPTEMBER 24.—
AS THE LAST lesson of the quarter this is a review. We can profitably look back over the lessons of this quarter and note that the key to every one of them has been the keeping power of God. In the first lesson we had the period of the kingdom under Hezekiah at the time of Sennacherib’s invasion, and how the Lord graciously heard the prayer of his people and delivered them from so mighty a foe, before whom they trembled. The second lesson of the quarter showed God’s power to keep the individual who trusts in him—that he is not only a God of nations, but is willing to exert his power on behalf of a solitary individual who reverences him and who looks to him in prayer. Hezekiah’s deliverance from death and the prolongation of his life for fifteen years point this lesson, and while we may not similarly pray for continuation of the earthly life—having exchanged it, its interests and its concerns for the heavenly—we may pray for the still higher, the spiritual life, its protection, its prolongation everlastingly.
The third lesson on the keeping power of God related to Christ’s sacrifice and Isaiah’s visions of Messiah’s sufferings. Here again the keeping power of God, his salvation for his people, for all who have trusted and who, having heard of his fame, by and by shall trust him, are brought prominently forward. Nor was it, as we saw, a desertion of his son in the time of trial, but even his sufferings were overruled and caused to work out his subsequent blessing and glorious exaltation to the Kingdom glory. Surely he was kept by the great Jehovah and surely the interests of mankind were preserved by him.
The fourth lesson was respecting the outcome of God’s keeping, the blessings which he has kept in store,
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in reservation, which are not yet revealed except to the eye of faith through the promises—the Millennial blessings which may be enjoyed in proportion as we are able to exercise faith in God, the great Covenant Keeper who has promised and who will not fail in his promises—yea, who delights to be gracious—and the knowledge of whose glory and goodness shall soon fill the whole earth.
In lesson five we had a further demonstration of God’s mercy and power to keep as manifested toward Manasseh on the occasion of his repentance and prayer for help. In lesson six we have an illustration of God’s power to keep those who are seeking to do his will. Josiah, the good king, was blessed and kept. In lesson seven we have a demonstration of God’s power to keep his Word, the finding of the book of the Law. And in this connection also we perceive the power of the Law of God reflexly to keep those who hold it faithfully in harmony with himself.
Lesson eight gives us a suggestion on the opposite side, of the loss which is sustained by those who scorn the Lord’s Word—Jehoiakim’s loss of judgment, the loss of his kingdom through scorning the divine messages sent him through Jeremiah.
In lesson nine we again have illustrated God’s power to keep, for he kept Jeremiah even when cast into the dungeon and caused his release, and thus we have again illustrated the fact that he is as able to keep today and is as willing to protect and more willing even to assist those who are of Spiritual Israel.
In lesson ten we again have an illustration of a loss through disobedience to the Lord—Zedekiah’s loss of the kingdom, a loss which appertained to the whole nation of Israel. And yet on the other hand we see God’s faithfulness as represented in his gracious promise that after the kingdom of Israel had been overturned, overturned until the due time, it shall ultimately be given, as originally promised, to the great Messiah, the Root and Offspring of David.
Lesson eleven is another illustration of the keeping power of Jehovah. The water of life which is by and by to issue forth is all the provision of divine love and mercy through Christ. God has been keeping some of the richest of his blessings; the world has yet known little of the love of God. The only revelations that have yet been made of God’s love are in connection with the death of Christ, which the worldly see not in the true light and appreciate not, but by and by they shall see indeed that God has graciously kept the best of his blessings for a future manifestation.
In lesson twelve we have again the keeping power of Jehovah as manifested in his care over Daniel and his associates—those who were faithful to him, loyal to him. And surely as Spiritual Israelites, in view of all these lessons of the past, we may have strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hopes set before us in the Gospel. We who have fled for refuge to Jesus, and whose hope is anchored in him beyond the vail, surely we shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.
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WEIGHED IN THE BALANCES
—DANIEL 5:17-30.—OCTOBER 1.—
Golden Text:—”The face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”—Psalm 34:16.
DANIEL must have been an old man of nearly ninety years at the time of the present lesson. Nebuchadnezzar was dead; Nabonidus, his son was probably also dead, and Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, had but recently come to the throne of Babylonia. Babylon was the capital city, and from all descriptions must have been by far the most wonderful city of the world up to that time, and in some particulars has had no rival since. It was a very wealthy, luxurious city, enriched not only by the plunder of the palaces and temples of the nations conquered round about, but further enriched by the tributes paid by those nations year by year and by its mercantile traffic with all the nations of the world.
It was not only the largest city in the world but the strongest fortress. The great plain on which it lay, a paradise of fertility and cultivation was intersected by countless canals, both small and great, serving alike for irrigation and navigation. Babylon, built on this fertile plain, was fourteen miles from north to south and fourteen miles from eat to west, and the walls surrounding it were 350 feet high. It had one hundred gates. The river Euphrates flowed through it, and was banked high on each side the stream with solid massive walls and intersected with water gates made of bronze. The historian says, “Babylon was the strongest fortress in the world. Even a small force of brave men could have held it for years.” It would be the natural effect of having such riches and strength under his control to make the King Belshazzar proud and self-confident.
At the time of our lesson the army of the Medes and Persians under the command of king Cyrus was besieging Babylon. This was the Cyrus whom the Lord through one of his prophets declared should set free his people, the Hebrews. To all human appearance his besieging of the city of Babylon would be a hopeless task, a failure, so strong was that fortress. Yet the Lord had timed the fall of Nebuchadnezzar’s empire, and no doubt providentially guided to the accomplishment of the matter at the time intended. While Belshazzar and the people of Babylon were holding high revel, banquets, etc., convinced of the security, the impregnability of their city, Cyrus and his army were building a trench above the city into which in due time the waters of the Euphrates river were turned, and then, in the darkness of the night, the soldiers were marched through the bed of the river and gained an entrance to the city while its unsuspecting defenders were banqueting.
VANITY AND SACRILEGE
On this same night the king gave a banquet in his chief palace to a thousand of his nobles, and lords and ladies of the empire residing in the city. The enemy was little thought of. On the contrary, Belshazzar
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boasted of the impregnability of the fortress, and declared that the gods of the Babylonians were superior to all others. He pointed to the subject nations surrounding as evidences of this, and in derision called for the holy vessels that had been brought by his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar from the Jewish Temple, that he and his lords might drink from these to do the honor of the gods of Babylon.
It was in the midst of this blasphemy and profanation of the holy vessels of Jehovah’s Temple that a hand appeared and wrote in letters of fire upon the wall of the palace the words, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. The king, his counsellors, his nobles, the aristocracy of the world, were astounded and numbed. The apparition convinced them at once that some dire calamity impended. It was recognized as being of superhuman origin. The wise men, the astrologers, etc., were sent for to give an explanation and interpretation. They came, but failed.
The King’s mother remembered Daniel and his relationship with Nebuchadnezzar. She had probably heard of the wonderful interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision by Daniel when all others had failed. The prophet was evidently well known, and not far off, probably still engaged in some department of the government service and near the palace. He soon appeared, and his courage on this occasion is worthy of remark. He had a most painful duty to perform toward his superiors—the king, as an autocrat, had the power of his life at his tongue’s end.
The king had offered both wealth and honor to the wise man able to give the meaning of the remarkable writing, but the Lord’s prophet showed that he was not mercenary and that his interpretation was not influenced by any such considerations. His answer was, “Let thy gifts be to thyself and give thy rewards to another; nevertheless I will read the writing unto the king and make known to him the interpretation.”
Daniel briefly rehearsed to the king his knowledge of his grandfather’s experiences—his great honor and dignity and success, and subsequently his loss of reason, when for seven years he became an outcast from society and was reduced to the level of the brute beasts; how, then, the Lord had compassion on him and restored his reason, and he had confessed Jehovah to be the true God, saying, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, extol and honor the king of heaven, for all his works are truth and his ways judgment; and those who walk in pride he is able to abase.” (Dan. 4:33-37.) King Belshazzar, knowing this, should have humbled himself and been reverential toward Jehovah God, and in so much as he had defied and boastfully and knowingly dishonored him, the writing upon the wall was a message from Jehovah to him announcing the end of his dominion as a just punishment for his sacrilege.
How wonderfully timed was the whole matter! While these things were proceeding Cyrus’ army was investing the city. While Daniel was explaining the meaning of the handwriting on the wall to be “Thou art tried in the balances and found wanting,” the soldiers for the retribution were at work. King Belshazzar evidently recognized the truthfulness of the prophet’s words and the justness of the divine decision. It is to his credit that instead of attempting to do violence to Daniel he honored him and made him the third in power in the kingdom. In a very little while the enemy was upon them, the king was slain, the government was transferred to the hands of Cyrus, and the honored Jew, Daniel, found in a position of trust, was made an officer in the new government of Medo-Persia, which by this overthrow of Babylonia became the second universal empire of the world, represented in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the image by the arms of silver.
LESSONS TO BE DRAWN
One lesson to be drawn from this narrative is that, although God had no covenant relationship with the other nations of the earth but only with Israel, nevertheless he exercised a general supervision of the other nations—not to the extent of chastising them and displacing them in the same manner that he did his covenant people, the seed of Abraham, but to the extent that they should have at least general lessons along general lines, that they might hear of his name although they had never been called to be his people, although no invitation was extended to them and no covenant of grace or peace proffered them. They were, as the Apostle subsequently described them, “without God, having no hope in the world,” aliens, strangers, foreigners to the commonwealth of Israel. All that while the Lord hid from the Gentiles and from all people the ultimate purposes of his grace, the blessing of all the families of the earth. It was not yet due time either to redeem the world or to inform the world of the blessings that should ultimately flow from the great redemption that in the divine plan should be accomplished at Calvary.
Another lesson is that God does actually balance, weigh the conduct of people; that while grace is the basis of all his dealings, nevertheless the grace is dispensed according to certain principles of righteousness and justice and obedience to conditions, while punishments are executed upon the contrary class who neglect or ignore the divine instruction. It was so with Belshazzar, it will be so with all others eventually.
The Lord’s dealings at the present time with nations no doubt pursue much the same lines that we see exemplified in Belshazzar’s experiences and still further in the land of Canaan, when the Lord drove out the Canaanites, etc., when their cup of iniquity was full, and not before. Doubtless the Lord still deals with nations along these lines. For instance, the nations which have dealt unjustly with the Jews have been punished. Look at Spain, see Russia, and the nations which have persecuted the Spiritual Israelites. Undoubtedly these have received some measure of chastisements, even though they were long after the crime.
If the Lord’s dealings were with the individuals of the race—if he judged every individual, punishing the evil doers and rewarding the well doers promptly, what a change it would make in the world and how speedily that change would be effected. This we see is not the case in the present time, nor according to the Scriptures has it been the case in the past. The prophet points out the fact that the eyes of the wicked stand out with fatness and they have more than heart could wish, while some of the Lord’s faithful ones are permitted to be in straits, in difficulties, almost in want. This arrangement is necessary to the divine plan for the present time, to the intent that the Lord’s people must walk by faith and not by sight—to the intent that those who love not the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength shall not be attracted to him
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by merely the hope of escaping punishment nor by the hope of receiving temporary rewards. The Lord seeks now to deal with those who can and will exercise faith in his gracious promises of a life to come.
By and by, when the Kingdom shall have been established and the Lord’s will shall be done on earth as in heaven, all this will be changed. Then, as the Apostle tells us, he that doeth righteousness shall live, and he who wilfully does unrighteousness shall suffer, and, persevering, will eventually be destroyed in the second death.
The Lord’s favor to Daniel in permitting him to have a high position in Babylonia and subsequently in the Medo-Persian empires is contrary to his dealings with Spiritual Israelites of the present time. He deals with us not according to the flesh but according to the spirit. Consequently the rewards we get for faithfulness to him are spiritual rewards, “much advantage everyway.” The Lord expects that the heavenly hopes and prospects set before us of a participation in the heavenly Kingdom as joint-heirs with our Lord, the Messiah, will be esteemed by us as of greater value than the honors and dignity conferred upon the prophet Daniel in the past. And we, too, so esteem the matter. Let us continue to thus view things from God’s standpoint, until by and by he shall say, Enough, come up higher.
The poet Heine has pictured the scenes of the lesson as follows:—
“In the monarch’s cheeks a wild fire glowed,
And wine awoke his daring mood.
With daring hand, in his frenzy grim,
The king seized a beaker and filled to the brim,
And drained to the dregs the sacred cup,
And foaming he cried as he drank it up,
‘Jehovah, eternal scorn I own
To thee—I am monarch of Babylon.’
* * *
“The yelling laughter was hushed, and all
Was still as death in the royal hall.
And see! And see! on the white wall high
The form of a hand went slowly by,
And wrote, and wrote, on the broad wall white,
Letters of fire, and vanished in night.”
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THE MASTER’S TOUCH
“In the still air the music lies unheard;
In the rough marble beauty hides unseen:
To make the music and the beauty, needs
The Master’s touch, the sculptor’s chisel keen.
“Great Master, touch us with Thy skillful hand;
Let not the music that is in us die!
Great Sculptor, hew and polish us; nor let,
Hidden and lost, Thy form within us lie!
“Spare not the stroke! do with us as Thou wilt!
Let there be naught unfinished, broken, marred;
Complete Thy purpose, that we may become
Thy perfect image, Thou our God and Lord!”
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SOME INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED
THE THREE PARTS
Question.—Please explain the meaning of the “three parts” of Zech. 13:8,9: “In all the land, saith the Lord, two parts shall be cut off and die; but the third part shall be left therein, and I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call upon my name, and I will hear them; I will say of them, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God.”
Answer.—These three parts are not stated to be thirds or equal parts; hence we are not to so interpret this passage. We understand three classes to be referred to: the two classes that will be cut off and die we understand to be the “little flock” and the “great company,” all of both classes being consecrated unto death—the one class, the little flock, going into death in a voluntary manner, sacrificing; the other class, the great company, going into death under adverse circumstances which would test their loyalty to the Lord, and prove their willingness to serve him even at the cost of life itself, even though they had not that consuming zeal which would lead them, according to their covenant, to self sacrifice.
The third part that will be brought through the fire, refined, etc., we understand to represent the world of mankind, which will pass from death conditions to life conditions as human beings during the Millennium—quite probably also a large proportion of the living nations at the time of the establishment of the Kingdom will pass over and become subjects of the Kingdom without going into the tomb. The whole human family, except the few who are vitally connected with Christ, are already reckoned dead with Adam and they all will be granted an opportunity for coming, through the divine processes of the Millennial age, back to the full perfection of human life lost by father Adam’s transgression. All such as are thus returned to harmony with God will indeed recognize him as such, and he will recognize them as his people.
PERFECT, WITH LIMITED KNOWLEDGE
Question.—A question sometimes brought up which I am a little at a loss to answer, is: If Adam was perfect how could he sin? This question is usually followed by a statement that a perfect person cannot make a mistake. I usually answer that there is a difference in perfection of being and perfection of character, but they usually reply that if Adam’s character was not perfect then he was in a state of imperfection, requiring evolution to perfect him. It is here that I feel unable to answer, unless by saying that only omniscience could secure perfection of character even with perfection of being.
Answer.—You have answered the question well. Adam was perfect as a man, but lacked experience. We must not however, say that he was perfect in knowledge for this would be a fallacious statement, a misuse of the word perfect. The man is one thing and his knowledge is another thing. When mankind shall have reached perfection in the end of the Millennial age it will not mean that it has attained all knowledge on every subject. Quite to the contrary, we may reasonably suppose that to all eternity mankind will be privileged to progress in his knowledge of the greatness, goodness and wisdom of God. The only thing necessary to Adam’s trial was that he should understand that obedience was required, and that the penalty of disobedience would be the loss of his life
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privileges. He would have this degree of knowledge, and he therefore sinned intelligently. As the Apostle declares, “Adam was not deceived.”
We are to remember that the perfect Adam had a good character in the sense of having a well-balanced judgment, pre-disposed to righteousness by virtue of his organization in the image and likeness of his Creator, but he was not created a machine. If we make a perfect machine it cannot fail to do exactly the thing it was intended to do, because it is entirely without ability to do otherwise. But God made man in his own likeness, a free moral agent—free to choose his own way, whether of obedience unto life or of disobedience unto death. The very fact that he was given such a choice proves that he was perfect, that the ability for either right doing or wrong-doing was his; his reason for choosing the wrong way was, evidently, as you suggest, his lack of knowledge. Had he been omniscient, like his Creator, able to comprehend the end from the beginning, undoubtedly he would not have transgressed. But it was not God’s purpose to make an omniscient being, and Adam was not omniscient, neither will the perfectly restored human family be omniscient. God’s requirement of his creatures is not that they must know as well as he, but that they should have confidence in him, should trust implicitly to his judgment, and realize that thus in him they live and move and have their being. Their perfection will never be divine, but human perfection, subjected to and guided by divine wisdom and revelation.
OUR FEELINGS RE GOD’S CALL
Question.—Does the fact that I do not feel so great a craving for the gift of immortality as some others express, indicate that I have not been called to the high calling, but to the earthly calling, to restitution? My desire seems to be to live justly, righteously, rather than to live saintly and sacrificingly. Is this a further indication along the same line as the above?
Answer.—No; our feelings or aspirations are not the call. Otherwise it would imply that we do our own calling. Speaking of our priesthood, the Apostle declares, “No man taketh this honor to himself but he that is called of God,” (Heb. 5:4), and the place to ascertain what is God’s call is not in our feelings but in God’s own Word of revelation. He declares through the inspired Apostle, “Ye are all called in one hope of your calling.” (Eph. 4:4.) This contradicts the thought that there might be two callings, an earthly and a heavenly, from which we might choose. Our feelings depend largely upon our natural constitutions, influenced by the experiences of life, and hence they are unreliable except as they are regulated or created by the inspiring and transforming influences of the Scriptures. In other words, our spiritual hopes are begotten in us by the word of grace. What we must do is to let this truth, the divine promise, dwell in our hearts more and more richly, and as the Apostle says, “Think on these things.” As you do so they will enlarge before your mental eye, and you will gradually come to see more of their richness and value.
We have heretofore pointed out that we are living in the harvest or end of the Gospel age, and that the Millennial age in some measure laps on to this harvest and has a beginning here. We have also shown that in this harvest time, and especially in the great time of trouble with which it will end, God is dealing with a restitution class. But to deal with and prepare a class for the restitution favors is a wholly different matter from extending such a call. To our understanding no such call to restitution blessings will ever be issued. In God’s due time restitution laws will prevail in the world and whoever obeys then will begin to experience actual restitution; whoever rejects will promptly receive retribution. If a restitution call were now in progress it would imply that whoever accepted it would begin at once to experience the blessings of restitution—relief from aches and pains, and from mental and physical imperfections and weaknesses—legitimate restitution work, such as we expect will progress during the Millennial age as soon as it shall be fully ushered in and the laws and judgments for that age have been promulgated.—Acts 3:25.
As for us who have now tasted of God’s grace, it is not for us to dictate to the Lord what portions of blessing we prefer, but rather to accept thankfully such favors as he shall be pleased to tender us, and he has tendered us the exceeding great and precious things, far better than the restitution privileges of the race in general.
Your desire for a life of righteousness is a proper one. This is the first lesson we are to learn as soon as we find out that we and others of our race are fallen and imperfect creatures by heredity. As soon as we have learned of our own blemishes and look to the Lord, he points us to Christ as the only way of approach to him, “the Way, the Truth, the Life.” Realizing our need of just such a Savior to justify us from sin and to help us out of its miry clay and to put our feet upon the Rock, we gratefully accept, lay hold of the Lord by faith. We are thus justified freely from all things through faith. Then we start to live the justified life, a life of righteousness, soberness, honesty, truth, godliness. We proceed but a short time ere we learn that such a reasonable and consistent life will cost us something—that it will involve self-sacrifices, self-denials, misrepresentations, etc., because the mass of those around us know not the Lord and seek not to walk in the ways of righteousness. The darkness that is in them comes speedily into conflict with the light that has come into us, and hence our Lord’s statement, “Whosoever will live godly shall suffer persecution.” This means the place of turning back for quite a good many who espoused the Lord’s cause. It means the time of forsaking the principles of righteousness, truth, etc., a time for compromises, with the world, the flesh and the devil, for the sake of peace and earthly prosperity, and alas! too many yield. But those who are loyal to the Lord and the principles of righteousness thus reach a crisis point, and those who decide that they will follow righteousness, follow the Lord whatever the cost, thereby take the step of full consecration—whether they realize that it is another step or not. In other words, the maintenance of justification by faith will sooner or later mean consecration, self-sacrifice. We are not to expect that we will love the experience of sacrificing, at least not in the beginning of our experience. We love the right principles and are learning to sacrifice rather than violate them, but no chastisement, no discipline, seemeth at the time joyous, but rather grievous.
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Nevertheless, in the Lord’s providence, those who make such sacrifices for principle’s sake are blessed by him with keener and deeper insight into the word of truth by the spirit of adoption which he bestows upon those who are thus exercised; and those clearer insights into things which God hath in reservation for them that love him, eventually outweigh the trials and difficulties of the pathway, so that with the Apostle we are enabled to say, “I count all things but as loss and dross that I may win Christ.” The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glories that shall be revealed in us; but, as before stated, this is the experience only of those who have made considerable progress in the new way, and whose sacrifices of self interest have brought to them the Lord’s providence, blessings of head and of heart, which none can appreciate fully except those who have experienced them.
So then, in summing up, let us say that our failure to rightly appreciate the great blessings which God has attached to the call of this Gospel age is not a sign that we have not received the call, but it is a sign that we have not clearly and fully appreciated it. We are to credit ourselves for a great deal of ignorance, and to correspondingly trust the Lord’s wisdom, just as little children should realize their own inexperience to judge of values and should look to their parents to judge for them. The Scriptures point out our ignorance on this subject, saying, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man the things that God hath in reservation for them that love him.”
The Lord has chosen for us the things which he is pleased to offer to us, and those who come to a clear knowledge of the Truth and who then deliberately reject the grace of God, would seem to do despite to the Lord’s favor. This the Apostle seems to imply when he says, If we neglect so great salvation how shall we escape?—what assurance would there be that we would not reject a lesser favor? We cannot appreciate either except as the Lord instructs us respecting their values.
WHO MAY PROPERLY MEMORIALIZE?
Question.—Is it correct to say that the “sacrament,” the Memorial Supper, symbolizes the appropriation of Christ’s righteousness by faith in his sacrifice? If so, has not a person who is justified by faith, but who has not yet made a consecration, a perfect right to partake of the emblems?
Answer.—The only object of justification in this present age is to fit or enable the justified one to make his consecration and whoever does not so use his justification as to obtain thereby consecration and begettal to the new nature is to that extent receiving the grace of God in vain—failing to make use of it. Just as though a wealthy friend should give a poorer one an order on his store for goods, saying: “Upon the presentation of this order by John Blank or Mary Blank at my store at any time during the year 1905, he shall be privileged to purchase such goods as he may desire at one-tenth of their actual price, ninety per cent. of all their purchases being charged to me.” If John Blank or Mary Blank failed to present this order during the year, and thus failed to buy any goods during the specified period, the order would be practically valueless to them, because they did not take advantage of its favorable terms. Just so now, any who are justified by faith have the privilege of consecrating themselves and being accepted in the Beloved, and thereby the privilege of obtaining the exceeding great and precious promises at the small cost of sacrificing present privileges; and whoever does not so use his justification during this age to obtain the high calling may be said to have profited nothing by it, for it lapses with the end of this life, and must be renewed, if at all, in the next life, upon the same conditions and terms as to all the remainder of humanity.
Applying this to the Memorial Supper: the Memorial Supper not only represents the eating of the bread, the symbol of our justification, but it also represents the partaking of the cup, fellowship in the sufferings of Christ. These two thoughts are linked together in the symbol, and may not be sundered in our application of it. It would not, therefore, be proper for any to participate in the Memorial Supper except such as have not only been justified by partaking of Christ’s righteousness, but who additionally have become joint-heirs in sacrifice with him, drinking of his cup.
JUSTICE A PART OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
Question.—In Proverbs 16:11 we read, “A just weight and balance are the Lord’s.” Should we not, therefore, seek to develop the characteristic of love, rather than of justice, leaving the matter of justice until such times as we shall be perfected and enthroned, and thus be enabled to act upon the principle of justice, the foundation of God’s throne?
Answer.—We should apprehend the principle of justice now without waiting until we are made perfect. We should seek to note the operation of divine justice and the operations of justice and injustice in humanity, with special notice and criticism of ourselves. He who fails to appreciate justice must of necessity proportionately fail to appreciate mercy, for mercy is merely the difference between love and justice. We are to seek to note the principle of justice in our dealings with others, and to “deal justly and keep judgment,” as the Lord directs, but we are to compensate for our own imperfection and the imperfection of others by permitting love to govern, and to cover all the multitude of faults in those with whom we have to do. Nevertheless, we are to seek to view our own conduct in the light of justice, and with as few allowances as possible for our own imperfections.
SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT
Question.—Please explain the latter part of 1 Pet. 1:2, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”
Answer.—None are to be considered of the elect who have not experienced sanctification of the spirit—of the mind, of the will; and more than this, it must be such a sanctification as will lead on to obedience—a desire to know and to do the will of the Lord to the extent of our ability. And this obedience would not be sufficient to commend us to God, because we are weak through the fall. It needs, therefore, additionally, in compensation for our blemishes, the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus—the merit or covering of his righteousness made available to us by his death and appropriated by our faith.