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VOL. XXVI. OCTOBER 15, 1905. No. 20
The Editor’s Western Tour…………………….307
Papal Attempts at Reformation…………………308
“By Myself Have I Sworn” (Poem)……………….309
“Bear Ye One Another’s Burdens”……………….310
“Pay Thy Vows Unto the Lord.”…………………312
Rebuilding the Temple………………………..313
Hopes Deferred—Trials Many……………….314
“Which Temple Ye Are.”……………………315
“By My Spirit, Saith the Lord.”……………….316
Prophets to Both Israels………………….316
He Shall Not Fail, nor be Discouraged………317
A Day of Small Things…………………….318
Encouraging Words from Faithful Workers………..318
General Convention for the South………………320
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THE EDITOR’S WESTERN TOUR
—(CONTINUED FROM LAST ISSUE)—
OGDEN, Utah, was our next appointment. By this time our company was small, as some came no farther than Denver; however, others joined us en route for Portland. The Ogden friends met us at the depot, and showed abundantly, by words and deeds, that they were glad of the one-session Convention. They had secured the use of the Mormon Tabernacle and had thoroughly advertised our discourse, “To Hell and Back. Who are there? Hope for many of them.”
About 600 were present, a very large audience for us in a city of Ogden’s size. Excellent attention was given for nearly two hours, while we endeavored to show forth that the real penalty for sin is death, that the tomb is the hell of the Bible and that the salvation promised as a result of Christ’s death and a consequent reconciliation with the Father is awakening and resurrection—for whomsoever wills. We believe that some were helped.
ON TO PORTLAND, OREGON
We took train for Portland at 2.30 o’clock in the morning—spending nearly two nights and two days on the journey. A crowd of dear friends awaited us at the depot, though our train was several hours belated. We got a good opportunity to wash and rest and visit before the opening of the Convention on Friday, September 8.
The Portland gathering had the distinction of being the only three-days Convention on this trip, and it was a most enjoyable season of refreshment. The local friends had made every preparation for the nearly two hundred visiting friends who, while chiefly from Oregon, Washington and Utah, included representatives from British Columbia, Dakota, Minnesota, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and one from Australia. The interspersed testimony meetings were rich treats, as always, and caused many hearts to “burn” as they recounted their experiences and heard of similar mercies of God variously manifested toward others.
We had “Woodmen’s Hall” for all the meetings except the Baptism service, which was held in the Christian Church, and the service specially advertised for the public, which was held in the Taylor St. M.E. Church on Sunday, Sept. 10th. At the latter our topic was, “To Hell and Back,” etc., and an audience of about 900 gave close attention for about two hours and then took our free literature with avidity.
The program was followed throughout. One of the Elders opened the Convention with words of greeting and welcome, after which Brother A. H. MacMillan became the permanent chairman and greeted all present in the name of our Society, and then the first testimony meeting began. Pilgrim Brother Harrison gave an able address in the afternoon, his subject being, “The cost to our Lord for the world’s redemption.” The necessity and value of the ransom were shown, as well as the Master’s great sacrifice in leaving the realms of glory and enduring all that our redemption cost. “Take heed to the doctrine” of the ransom was the essence of his discourse. The evening service, introduced by a service of praise, was a Chart Discourse by Pilgrim Brother Barton, who made the various features of the divine plan very plain and very interesting.
Saturday morning’s opening service was one of praise and prayer, after which a question meeting, occupying two hours and involving a great variety of topics, prepared us all for noon refreshments and rest.
The entire afternoon was devoted to the consideration of Baptism, showing the erroneous views, and, in contrast, the true teachings of the Bible on the subject—substantially as set forth in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. VI. Following the discourse twenty-nine requested and received symbolic immersion in water, as illustrating and confessing their true baptism into Christ’s death.
Saturday evening Pilgrim Brother Barton addressed the Convention on the lessons of the Ninety-first Psalm—showing what it is to be safe under the protecting shadow of the Almighty, and how these secured ones are protected from the various snares and deceptions
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of this harvest time. About 300 heard very attentively.
Sunday forenoon brought another blessed testimony, praise and prayer meeting, after which we spent over an hour discussing the spiritual lessons taught by the Exposition, which many of you have read through the columns of the Pittsburg Dispatch and other Monday publications, which now carry extra messages from the editor of this journal to so many of the friends weekly.
The Sunday afternoon discourse we have already mentioned. The Convention closed that evening with a Love Feast introduced by a short discourse on the Twenty-third Psalm. We parted, hoping to meet at the great Convention, “The General Assembly of the Church of the Firstborn.” We left on the night train for Everett, Washington, about twenty friends of those parts accompanying us.
EVERETT’S ONE-DAY CONVENTION
Warm hearts and hands greeted us and entertained us at Everett. An afternoon meeting for the interested
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was attended by seventy-five. We discoursed to them for nearly two hours on the terms on which our calling and election may be made sure; and the evidences we have of the divine favor with us to assist us in overcoming the world, and how all things work together for good to the faithful.
The evening service for the public, on “To Hell and Back,” was held in Everett’s Carnegie Hall, whose capacity of about three hundred was fully taxed. We had excellent attention and were pleased to learn of several who were “greatly helped” by the service. After a good night’s rest we proceeded to Seattle.
SEATTLE’S ONE-DAY CONVENTION
As Seattle friends and others accompanied us to Everett, so many from Everett, etc., came with us to Seattle. The opening was a praise and testimony service, followed at 3 p.m. by a discourse on “Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom,” in which we emphasized the favor of the present age call and the blessings to result to the Church and the world in the Kingdom. About 200 were present and they mostly the interested from various parts, adjacent and distant. Our evening address on “To Hell and Back” was heard with great attention by an audience of about 650, and we trust that good fruitage will appear in God’s due time. The afternoon services were held in Third Avenue M.E. Church edifice, the evening service in the Arcade Hall. The midnight train speeded us back to Portland, where, on the 13th, we took the Pacific steamer for San Francisco, our next appointment.
FROM PORTLAND HOMEWARD
The ocean journey from Portland to San Francisco was a delightful and restful one. Our party numbered six—three on return journey to Los Angeles, one from St. Louis and one from Millvale, Pa., besides the Editor. Brother MacMillan preceded us to Los Angeles to open the Convention there.
Every morning we had our usual “Heavenly Manna” as well as our physical refreshments and in the day time we had Scripture question meetings, in which all participated, and by which we trust all were profited. Thus our journey passed pleasantly, bringing us to San Francisco, Cal. on Saturday morning, Sept. 16th. At the landing awaiting our arrival were seven of the dear brethren and sisters of that vicinity, who gave us most hearty greetings, to which we as fervently responded.
Complete arrangements had been made, and we were soon comfortably located in the home of one of the dear ones, where a question meeting engaged us all pleasantly until dinner, after which came the general gathering of the friends of that vicinity, so far as it was possible for these to be in attendance on the busiest day of the week. There were about forty present, to whom we spoke on “God’s Election”—our opportunity for making our calling and election sure, and the mark of the prize, perfect love. The service lasted from 2 to 4 p.m.
A goodly number accompanied us to the train which speeded us to Los Angeles, a distance of over 400 miles. Many were the hopes expressed that we should meet again in the “General Assembly,” if not in another Convention on earth. Many prayers went up for a share in the heavenly Kingdom, even though led by the Master in the narrow way and by the way of the cross.
LOS ANGELES CONVENTION
As per program, this Convention opened Saturday, Sept. 16th, with a rally and testimony meeting. An unannounced feature, much enjoyed by the friends was a Chart Talk by Brother MacMillan. This Convention thus happily opened was already under good headway and awaiting us Sunday morning, when we had a praise and testimony meeting participated in by many, including a Methodist minister and an ex-Methodist minister and ourself.
Our afternoon topic was for the public, “To Hell and Back. Who are there? Hope for many of them.” The attendance was estimated at 700. The closest of attention was given and we trust some good seeds of Truth were planted in honest hearts, and that others partly assured were fully convinced respecting our Father’s character and plan.
The evening topic, “The Sin Unto Death,” many of you have already read as reported in the Pittsburg Dispatch, and we need not go into details here.
By general desire the Convention held over Monday, Sept. 18. The morning session was a praise and testimony meeting, during which we made a trip to Santa Monica at the urgent solicitation of one disabled from attending the Los Angeles meetings. There we had an opportunity for a talk on the Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices to a little group which included a Presbyterian minister of an apparently thoughtful cast of mind.
At the afternoon session of the Convention we
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spoke on the true and the symbolic baptisms, following which twenty were immersed.
The evening session, which closed the Convention, was a question meeting. A number of questions were proffered but the first one occupied our entire time until 9.15 p.m. and the remainder we brought with us, to be answered in the WATCH TOWER columns from time to time. The topic which was so engaging was respecting “The satisfaction of Justice.” Many seemed edified and we hope at some time to take up the subject again in the WATCH TOWER for the benefit of all.
Bidding Los Angeles adieu, we started (two only) on our journey to San Antonio, Texas, an item of 1,430 miles, mostly through a sandy desert, growing little but sage brush—extremely hot and dusty, especially one stretch which dips one hundred feet below sea level.
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“BY MYSELF HAVE I SWORN”
What means the oath that God hath sworn?
Have Christians from their Bible torn
The great Jehovah’s seal?
When Christ shall bring the world’s reward,
Will not each tongue confess him Lord—
Each knee in homage kneel?—Psa. 82:8.
Will every kindred, every tribe,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And glorify his name?
Yet while the nations bow so low,
Will vengeance hurl the bombs of woe,
To blast with endless shame?—Psa. 86:9.
Will God his lowly creatures cheat—
Or call the nations to his feet,
To feel a tyrant’s rage?
Then will He scorn their prayerful breath—
Will nothing but a deathless (?) death
His stern revenge assuage?—Rev. 15:4.
What being do you worship then?
What unrelenting foe of men
Has chained you to his throne?
What form of error doth supply,
Your awful views of God Most High
To sacred truth unknown?—Mal. 1:11; Isa. 26:9.
Our God is love, of Gospel mould;
Who sent the Shepherd of the fold
To seek his sheep astray,
With yearning still His heart will burn,
Until the countless lost return,
To see the “Living Way.”—Jno. 12:32; Rom. 8:21.
The love that brought salvation nigh,
Will heed the bruised sinner’s sigh,
And soothe away his pain,
While “whosoever,” great or small,
Upon Jehovah’s name shall call,
Will never call in vain.—Acts 2:17 and 21; Rev. 22:17.
—G. M. BILLS.
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PAPAL ATTEMPTS AT REFORMATION
“BACK to the Gospels!” comes the cry from the Vatican, sounding the knell of Catholicism. After centuries of crafty misrepresentation of the Scriptural teachings, the Church of Rome has been forced to acknowledge the error of its ways, and at last a man has been found honest enough and of sufficient boldness of heart to say, “We have sinned; let us return to the truth.” A Reformer in the Vatican! It is a difficult role to play. Will Pius X. be able to carry it through effectively?
Five centuries ago John Huss made the first attempt, in Germany, to bring about a reformation in the Catholic Church, but the time was not yet, and the priests were too strong for him. Despite the fact that he carried a safe-conduct, under the seal and hand of the German Emperor himself, for his journey to Constance, he was seized, condemned as a heretic and burned at the stake. A century later saw the rise of three mighty champions for Truth—Luther, Calvin and Zwingli—who successfully drew from the otherwise rotten body of the Almighty Church of the Middle Ages the only healthy elements therein, wherewith
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to build up the real Church of Christ. The rich priests and tyrannical nobles however, assisted by the cunning and unscrupulous Jesuits, tightened their hold upon the ignorant masses and wrapped the cloak of ignorance more closely around them. These brought a rich income to their worthy masters, who repaid them with adulterations of Christ’s teachings suited to their vile purposes. The truths of the Gospels became hidden or utterly unrecognizable under the accumulated dogmas of centuries of Popery. The Council of Trent but added to the venerable collection of fraudulent misrepresentations, and even as late as the third quarter of last century the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope was promulgated afresh by the Council of the Vatican.
Even nature must suit herself to the Catholic dogmas. When Galileo discovered the rotation of the earth he naturally upset the Popedom, and was informed that he was wrong and must admit his mistake or__________! Galileo was not of the stuff of which martyrs are made, or it may be he was wise in his generation. He knew he was right, but he preferred a natural death, and he felt confident that the time would come when this scientific truth would be acknowledged in spite of the Pope and all his minions, so he acquiesced in the Papal fallacy. Nature, however, eventually triumphed, as Truth is now doing, and the Lion of Rome continues to retire beaten and cowed before a power too great even for its mighty strength.
From the many official booklets which have been published of late, and which have been directly inspired by the present Pope, it is easy to see that he, along with many of his high-placed followers, has come to the conclusion that some measure of reformation has become an urgent necessity within the Roman Catholic Church, otherwise the mighty edifice may totter to a fall. The
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direct reforms at which Pius X. aims may be summed up as follows:—
(1) To transform the religious cult into keeping with the sense of the true religion of Christ, insisting more upon the worship of the Redeemer and less upon that of the Virgin Mary, the saints, holy relics, etc.
(2) Complete reform, i.e., restriction and simplification, of the Papal Court.
(3) Restriction of the numbers of Orders, which now runs into hundreds, to about five or six; and purification of monastic and convent life, which at present teems with abuses.
(4) Modernization of the teaching of divinity in the Roman Catholic Colleges.
(5) Greater liberty to the Catholic scientist, and the prevention of rash condemnation, such as that experienced by the Abbe Loisy and others.
(6) Reform in the Papal diplomacy, and the foundation of a sound school of diplomatists.
(7) Reduction of the 264 Italian dioceses, with an equal number of bishops, to a reasonable number.
(8) Reform of the Congregations, which have not been altered since the time of Pope Sextus V.
(9) Thorough reform of the entire Roman Catholic religion, morally and intellectually!
(10) Formal renouncement of all claim to temporal power in Italy; and finally, in fact, a return of Catholicism to the Gospels!
Reform literature has been particularly in evidence throughout Italy of late, and the publication of pamphlets goes on continually. Bishop Bonnemelli of Cremona, for instance, has published a pastoral letter in book form, and with the full permission of the Pope, which may be taken as a typical example. Referring to the worship of the Virgin Mary, he says: “It shocks Christian feeling and common sense to see the Virgin Mary and many saints placed upon the same level as our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Bishop then goes on to criticize the superstitious worship of Saint Antonius of Padua and the financial exploitation connected therewith. “Not only are there people who believe in him,” he says, “but there are those who turn him to good business account, and also others who afford permission for the conduct of such transactions.” Monsignor Bonomelli frankly admits that it is quite comprehensible to him that in Italy the educated classes—be they patricians, merchants or workers—do not desire any connection with the Roman Catholic Church. What an admission from a Catholic Bishop! And why is this? Simply because that religion represents a pot pourri of absurd ceremonies, customs, devotions, etc., which may have the effect of subduing the ignorant masses to due reverence and respect for their spiritual (?) guides, but offends the good sense of the educated and enlightened.
Since the above article was written, a Rome correspondent informs us that Pius X. has appointed a committee consisting of several Cardinals and Doctors of Catholic Divinity, to consider and decide upon the measures of reform to be adopted. The Intransigeants and Jesuits, continues the correspondent, are highly indignant at the lines of the policy taken up by the Pope, as they can see only too well that should the meditated reforms be carried out the knell of the priesthood’s power is sounded, and their hitherto uncurbed license at an end. These latter views find strong confirmation in the fact that outside of Italy the Catholic priests are careful not to breathe a word of the movements, pregnant with meaning, which are going on in Papal circles, since they fear, and with good cause, that as soon as the Vatican announces that the dogmas hitherto propagated by them as Gospel truths are entirely wrong and merely the results of former abuses on the part of the clergy, people will immediately come to the conclusion that where so much is false it is useless to look for aught that savors of the truth, and will, in their disgust at the manner in which they have been misled, turn their thoughts towards the true faith and so swell the ranks of the Protestant believers.—The Bulwark.
* * *
But, alas! how few they will find of true Protestants—holding the Bible as God’s inspired Word and protesting against the errors of the “dark ages.” By that time “higher criticism” will have infidelity intrenched in pulpit and pew. But, God be praised, some are already seeing Present Truth.
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“BEAR YE ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS”
THOSE WHO LOOK upon the Bible as a collection of moral precepts designed for the regulation of the world in general, are very far from the proper estimate of its object and scope; for the Bible is not addressed to the world at all. The whole book, from beginning to end, is the inheritance of the saints—”the sanctified in Christ Jesus.” To them, all the apostolic epistles are addressed.
The book of Revelation is also similarly addressed. And the Apostle Peter, in referring to the prophecies of the Old Testament, says even of the prophets that “not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister.” (1 Pet. 1:12. See also Dan. 12:4,8,9.) And the Apostle Paul says that “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we [the sanctified in Christ Jesus] through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4.) Consequently, all that was written aforetime by Moses and the prophets—whether of history or law or prophecy or type or precept—was designed specially for us who are in Christ, for the instruction and comfort of the children of God. And not one iota of it belongs to the unregenerate
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world. It is a “light which shineth in a dark place” to Christians: it is “a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path.” And whatever light the worldly get from it, reaches them indirectly—as reflected from the children of God, who “shine as lights in the world.” “Ye,” said our Lord, “are the light of the world.”—Phil. 2:15; Matt. 5:14.
The plan of God, once discerned, indirectly inculcates every principle of morality and virtue by showing just what God designs to have us do; by showing, first, how he created us perfect and glorious in his own image and designed us for everlasting life in the enjoyment of his favors; next, that everything in us which is short of that original perfection is due to sin and renders us unworthy of life. Then there is the recognition of sin; and thus the glorious plan for both our legal and our actual deliverance from sin and death is opened up, and the final restitution of all things is assured to the loyal and obedient sons of God; and all the necessary provisions thereto are made manifest.
As the plan is now clearly outlined we see how history and prophecy and type and law all minister to the one grand design of the Book of books, in which the reverent and careful student finds the highest incentive to purity and holiness, and the most perfect delineation of that praiseworthy character which he should seek to build up, and in contrast with which the deformity of every evil is manifest.
Among the instructions to the children of God is the one above cited—”Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” The law of Christ we have seen to be the law of love: and Love says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens.” There are times in the experience of almost every one when the surges of trouble roll high, and the timid, shrinking soul is almost overwhelmed by them. And then how soothing is the sympathy and counsel of a fellow-member of the body of Christ! Worldly-minded friends may sympathize, but their counsel is almost sure to be wrong. Hence the
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necessity of fellowship in the body of Christ, and of disfellowship with the world.
It is not always necessary to tell one’s sorrows and perplexities to another, and to have their sympathy and aid: in most cases they are better untold, except to the Lord. But Love’s quick discernment is always watchful and ready with the word in season, the cordial friendliness and the helpful hand if need be, to help bear the burden.
There are various kinds of burdens to be borne: there are burdens of bereavement, of financial embarrassment, of business and family cares, of physical and mental suffering, of sudden disasters and great perplexities and anxieties; and there are burdens also of conscious sins. In all these, if we are diligently seeking to fulfil the law of Christ, we may be able to cheer and strengthen fellow-members of the body of Christ with sympathy and counsel, and such aid as may be most needful and timely.
But the Apostle calls particular attention to this last kind of burdens—burdens of sins—and counsels the exercise of this disposition specially in cases of acknowledged sin. We are all to remember our own liability to sin, and therefore to be patient and considerate with others when they are overtaken in a fault. Such patient, forbearing love is one of the most beautiful adornments of the Christian character.
In the body of Christ the various members have their various inherited weaknesses, against which they must wage a lifelong warfare; and these weaknesses are sometimes of such a nature as to interfere to some extent with the rights and comforts of others as well as of themselves. And just here the Apostle offers a word of counsel, saying, “We, then, that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Rom. 15:1,2.) This does not imply that we should not expostulate with such a one and endeavor to help him get rid of his infirmity. This we should do, in the spirit of meekness and kindness, while we patiently endure the trial of our patience, not seeking to please ourselves, but rather to help a weaker brother or sister. “Let every one of us,” as the Apostle counsels, “please his neighbor [brother]
for his good, to edification“—i.e., not by simply ignoring his fault as though you considered it all right, but, while kindly urging him to strive against it, still humbly and patiently submitting to the discomfort it brings to you.
If this spirit prevails, the Apostle further shows (1 Cor. 12:24-26), there need be no schism in the body; because the members all have a mutual care and a mutual love one for another—a care which seeks to encourage and strengthen all that is good and to discourage all that is unbecoming, and a love which throws its mantle over the deformity and endeavors to conceal a fault, rather than to expose the weaker brother to the reproach of others. Thus in the true body of Christ, which is knit together in love, if one member suffer, all the members suffer with him, in proportion as they are more or less directly associated with him; or, if one member be honored, all the members rejoice with him, and to some degree share the honor; just as when in an earthly family one member rises to honorable distinction all the members partake of the honor and the joy.
For such self-sacrificing love how necessary is the spirit of humility and gentleness and patience and faith! How forceful are the Master’s words, “Except ye be converted [from the spirit of the world to the spirit of Christ] and become as little children [in meekness and teachableness], ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”—Matt. 18:1-6.
And again says the Master, “Whoso shall receive one such little child [one such humble, teachable child of God] in my name receiveth me.” Let us, therefore, be in haste to receive and to heartily fellowship every such one.
And here he adds a caution which all would do well to heed, saying, “But whosoever 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.” With what carefulness, then, should we regard one another.
Dearly beloved, bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ—the law of love; and so bind up the body of Christ that there be no schism in the body, but that it be more and more knit together in love. Let this blessed law of Christ rule more fully in all who have taken, by consecration, the name of Christ: and let its hallowed influence shine out upon the world, showing them how it brings peace and harmony and
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happiness—how it makes more tender and devoted wives, more noble and good and kind husbands, more loyal and loving children, more kind and good neighbors; and how it puts oil upon all the troubled waters of present experience and prepares the heart for the enjoyment of all the fruits of righteousness.
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“PAY THY VOWS UNTO THE MOST HIGH”
THE FIFTIETH PSALM furnishes food for most profitable meditation to the consecrated. It starts with a precious reminder of the glory that is shortly to be revealed in and through the faithful. Taking the standpoint of the Church’s future completeness and glory, it says (verse 1): “The mighty God, even Jehovah, speaketh [through the glorified Church, the Christ, Head and body], and calleth the earth from the rising of the Sun [“the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in his wings”—Mal. 4:2] unto the going down thereof” [i.e., from the beginning to the close of the Millennial day, Jehovah, through his Anointed, will be calling the earth to repentance and to righteousness and eternal life.]
Verse 2. “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty [out of the Church exalted and glorified], God shineth forth [his glorious character and plan are made known].”
But verse 3 reminds us that that time is yet future, and begins to describe the coming of the Lord, while the following verses discourse as to the first work of his presence.
Verse 3. “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire [“the fire of his jealousy”] shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him.” It will be the tempest of the great time of trouble so often and so variously and vividly described elsewhere.
Verse 4. “He shall call to the heavens above, and to the earth, to judge his people.” In this time of the Lord’s presence and the harvest of the Gospel age, all who claim to be his people—i.e., all “Christendom,” Christ’s kingdom, falsely so-called, or “Babylon,” as named in the Scriptures (Rev. 16:19)—are brought into judgment before the assembled hosts of heaven and earth—angels and men. Already this judgment of “Christendom,” “Babylon,” is in progress: hence the late overhauling and revision of the hitherto accepted and unquestioned creeds of its various sects. And hence, too, the unsparing criticism of nominal Christianity by the world at large, in the secular press, etc., calling attention to its traditional errors, and to its untenable positions. It is now recognized as a self-contradictory mouthpiece of God.
Verse 5 is the command of the now present Lord of the harvest to the reapers, to separate the true wheat from the great bundles of tares in Babylon—”Gather my saints together unto me: those that have made a covenant with me [not merely by the lips, but] by [actual] sacrifice“—those who have faithfully carried out the solemn covenant of entire devotedness to the Lord.
Verse 6. “And the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God himself is judge.” In that judgment which heaven and earth are called upon to witness, and which shall closely discriminate between the wheat and the tares, and effectually separate them, “the heavens [the Kingdom of God which will be established as the outcome of this judgment] shall declare his [God’s] righteousness; for God himself [who cannot err] is [the] Judge.”
The following verses of the chapter sum up charges brought against God’s nominal people, while verses 14,15,22 and 23 interpose a word of wise counsel for those who will receive it.
Verses 7 and 8. “Hear, O my people [ye who claim to be my people by a solemn covenant], and I will speak: O Israel [nominal spiritual Israel], and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. Not because of thy sacrifices will I reprove thee; and thy burnt offerings [free-will offerings, such as benevolent works, etc.] are continually before me.” But such works cannot commend them to God in that day of judgment; for, said Jesus, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? and then will I say unto them, I never knew [approved] you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:22,23.) These have been “false prophets” (Matt. 7:15), “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9.) For their own erroneous theories they have claimed divine authority; and though in going about to establish their own righteousness they have done “many wonderful works,” those works are not acceptable to God, because they have not submitted themselves to his plans and methods.
Verses 9-13 declare God’s independence of their works, and intimate his perfect ability to accomplish the blessing of the world according to his own plan without their assistance. “I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds; for every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell thee; for the world is mine and the fulness thereof.
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Will I eat flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?”—Am I in need of your wisdom or works, or in any way dependent upon your gifts? No—”Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the Most High.” (Verse 14.) What have any of us to offer unto the Lord that we did not first receive from him, and that should not, therefore, be thankfully received and used according to the directions of his plan? And this is what all who have consecrated themselves to God have covenanted to do. It is, therefore, obligatory upon all such that they pay their vows, fulfil their covenant unto the Most High.
True, in the faithful fulfilling of a covenant of entire consecration to God there is much to endure in the way of reproach and persecution from the world (2 Tim. 3:12); but to such the Lord through the Prophet (verse 15) says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou [by thy testimony and faithfulness] shalt glorify me.”
Verses 16,17. “But unto the wicked God saith” [The wicked here referred to are not people of the world; for, according to verse 7, this testimony is borne against those who claim to be the Lord’s people, and members of the spiritual house of Israel. These “wicked” are the covenant-breakers among those who still claim to be
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faithful people of God.]—unto these God saith, “What hast thou to do to declare my statutes [decrees, doctrines] or that thou shouldest take my covenant into thy mouth? seeing thou hatest instruction and castest my words behind thee.” The Lord will not hold them guiltless who, professing entire consecration to him, nevertheless despise instruction and cast his words behind them while they cling to their own traditions and theories; “For,” says the Apostle, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold down [Greek katecho—hold down or suppress] the truth in unrighteousness.” (Rom. 1:18.) This is what the various ecclesiastical systems of Great Babylon have been guilty of for centuries past: they have taught their own false doctrines and have claimed for them the divine authority of the Word of God. In doing so they have unjustly suppressed the truth: they have hated instruction and have cast the words of the Lord behind them whenever the latter were brought forward to testify against them or their plans.
What right, the Prophet inquires, have such covenant-breakers to declare the plan of God? None whatever. Such unfaithful and “wicked and slothful” servants are hindered by their errors from seeing truths now due. Having been unfaithful to the measure of truth received, they are not permitted to know, and hence cannot declare, the deeper things of God—the breadth and scope of his wonderful plan. “Light is sown for the righteous” who faithfully and thankfully receive and disseminate it, “and gladness [the gladness which comes from a realization of the truth] for the upright in heart.”—Psa. 97:11.
But the testimony against this class proceeds—verse 18—”When thou sawest a thief [one desirous of robbing God’s children of the truth], then thou consentedst with him.” All who do not guard the truth and the flock of God against the encroachment of error, who bid false teachers God-speed, or who commend wolves in sheep’s clothing to the Lord’s little ones, are, according to the Prophet’s language, wickedly consenting with thieves and robbers. And not only so, but he continues—”and hast been partaker with adulterers.” Such a compromise with the spirit of the world is, in the language of the Scriptures, defined as adultery. For this reason Babylon the Great (Papacy) is termed a harlot, and the mother of harlots (of the various similar systems that sprang from her); and the principle holds good in every case where unfaithful covenant-breakers consent to any degree with the thieves and robbers who plot and scheme against the truth.
Verse 19. “Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.” Such is the course of all who in unrighteousness suppress the truth and go about to establish their own righteousness and their own plans.
Verse 20. “Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son.” The unfaithful always take the attitude of persecutors, to some degree, of the faithful. Such is the attitude of the whole nominal church against those faithful servants who receive and advocate the truth.
Verse 21. “These things hast thou done [“Babylon,” “Christendom,” the great nominal church], and I kept silence: [up to the present time, the harvest; and because I kept silence and permitted this evil to run and prosper] thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself [that I was consenting with thee to thy evil ways]; but [not so; for a purpose I permitted you to run your course and to make your real character manifest; but now, in this harvest and judgment time] I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” Hence the present investigations and exposures of creeds, and the growing unrest in the various sects of “Christendom.”
Verses 22,23. “Now consider this [reproof], ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces [destroy you], and there be none to deliver.
“Whoso offereth thanksgiving [thankfully receives the reproof and applies his heart unto instruction] glorifieth me [or honors me, as a faithful and consistent believer and representative of the truth]; and to him that ordereth his course aright [that conforms his life and teaching to the light received] will I show the salvation of God.”
How solemn and weighty the admonition, and how worthy of the most thoughtful and prayerful consideration of all who name the name of Christ! The day of reckoning is upon the Church—upon all who profess to be members of it: “The hour of his judgment is come.” Who is worthy to stand? Only those who gratefully receive the message of divine truth, and who faithfully pay their vows to the Most High.
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REBUILDING THE TEMPLE
—EZRA 3:10-4:5—OCTOBER 22—
Golden Text:—”The Temple of God is holy, which Temple ye are.”—1 Cor. 3:17
LOYALTY to the Lord, and faith in his promises, are costly. The Lord has so arranged the matter, to the intent that only those who are willing to pay the price may enjoy these blessings. Only the faithful and the obedient are willing to pay the price. Thus the Lord proves his people, separating the merely nominal believers from the true, selecting to himself his “jewels,” his “peculiar people.”
This principle applied to the Jews who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon captivity, in response to the Lord’s provision through the proclamation of King Cyrus. Out of the great hosts of that nation carried captive—first the ten tribes, and later the two tribes—there were only Forty-two Thousand Three Hundred Sixty (42,360) of the proper faith in God and the Abrahamic promise, and of the proper zeal and courage, etc., ready to respond. The remainder of the nation had become so comfortably settled in Babylon, socially and financially, that their interests in these things outweighed their faith in the Abrahamic promise. Thus God sifted the nation, and in this motley group from all the tribes he had the jewel class—the very best and most loyal part of all the seed of Abraham. As the Apostle explains in respect to the elect Church in this gospel age, so we might say of these Jews returning from Babylonian exile, that there were not many of them
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great, or wise, or learned, or noble, according to the course and wisdom of this world.
HOPES DEFERRED. TRIALS MANY
Nor had their trials ceased with the surrender of brighter prospects in Babylonia. They left their friends in Babylon, full of zeal, and to some extent admired by their more worldly-wise compatriots, who preferred to remain in the foreign land. The escort granted them by the king, the presents of money, and the costly vessels of the temple service, were with them, and their hopes ran high as they began their journey of nearly 800 miles, about the distance from Philadelphia to Chicago. According to tradition, they must have been about four months travelling, whereas an express train in our day would make the distance in seventeen hours.
The toilsome journey ended, they finally rested at Jerusalem, only to find still greater discouragements. But a very few of them had ever seen the place before, and those few had seen through the eyes of childhood, for the city had lain desolate, according to the Word of the Lord, for seventy years. (2 Chron. 36:21.) The wall and the temple had been demolished by Nebuchadnezzar’s orders, and many of the private residences were also left in ruins, and now for seventy years of such desolations, “without inhabitant,” the place was a wilderness. Trees were growing in what formerly were streets. Everything was disorder. Any other class than those full of faith and zeal, as these were, would have been utterly discouraged. We are to remember that the Lord thus tries our courage, and faith and zeal, not to destroy these qualities, but to deepen and fix them—to establish us, to develop us in character. As with the typical Israelites there, so it is now with the spiritual Israelites—all such trying experiences, under divine providence, will work out to our advantage if we will but persevere in our faith, and love, and zeal.
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It required more than a year to put themselves in reasonable condition for living, and then their attention turned to the rebuilding of the temple. That they should have begun so soon to think of the house of the Lord speaks well of their spiritual condition. It is at this point that our lesson properly begins, describing the laying of the foundation of the temple, and the priests and the Levites, appropriately robed, making a joyful noise before the Lord, as representing the faith and confidence of the people in the precious promises associated with that temple and with that city. Alas, poor Jews! we sympathize with them greatly as we remember that as a nation they clung to those Abrahamic promises for over 1,600 years, and yet finally rejected the Prince of life, and in consequence were left desolate, as a house, or nation. The Apostle remarks, concerning their faith in the Abrahamic promise, “unto which promise our twelve tribes instantly serving God hope to come.”
How glad we are for the poor Jews that although Israel hath not obtained the chiefest favor, but only the “elect” have obtained it, while the rest were blinded, nevertheless God’s mercy and favor still have them in mind, and assure us that they shall obtain mercy through our mercy, shortly—that the blindness that has been on Israel, during the selection of Spiritual Israel, will surely pass away, furnishing them the chief opportunity for reconciliation to God, under the New Covenant provisions of the Millennial age.—Heb. 8:10-12.
A NEW SONG IN MY MOUTH
As with the mind’s eye we see those poor but faithful Israelites, out of all the tribes, praising God as they laid the foundation of the Temple, it suggests to us how much more the spiritual Israelites who have returned from mystic Babylon should shout and sing the praises of our King from our higher standpoint of knowledge and appreciation of his grace and truth. Speaking of us, the spiritual Israelites, the Prophet declares, “Thou hast put a new song into my mouth, even the loving-kindness of our God.” All spiritual Israelites, who are in the right attitude of heart toward the Lord, are full of songs of gratitude and praise—not always audibly, however, for many can best sing and make melody in their hearts unto the Lord; and indeed the Psalm of Life, which each of the Lord’s followers declares in actions and words to those about him, is the best testimony, the best praise we can raise, more to the glory of our King than any others.
If the Israelites who remained in Babylon, whose faith and courage were insufficient, could have witnessed the scene at a distance, they doubtless would have shouted for joy, that they had not undertaken such a pilgrimage and such a work of restoration; but as Paul and Silas could sing in the prison, with their backs bleeding from the cruel lash, while others enjoying every luxury of life in the same city were miserable, so it was with those returned Israelites. Full of faith and hope, they were also filled with joy as they looked forward in prospect for still further favors from the Lord, in harmony with his glorious promises. And so it is with the Lord’s people to-day: our rejoicing is not because of temporal favors and advantages and privileges, but on account of those joys which are ours through faith and hope, inspired by the divine promises—the culmination of the same promises for which the natural Israelites were aspiring, and which are secured to us through the great Jew of the seed of Abraham, our Redeemer, our Bridegroom.
The shouts were discordant—some of joy, some of weeping. Those who looked forward in hope shouted for joy. Those who looked backward, and pictured before their minds Solomon’s grand Temple, wept as they thought of the insignificance of the present one in comparison. And so to-day among spiritual Israelites, there are some who weep for the past, when they should be rejoicing for the future. The Apostle exhorts us to “forget the things which are behind, and to press forward to the things which are before.” The lessons we learn from past experiences, even from adverse experiences, while they should be kept in memory, need not be mourned over by spiritual Israelites, for they can call to mind that the merit of Christ’s sacrifice covers all of their unwilling blemishes and mistakes. Carrying with them their experiences they should press forward to fresh victories and fresh joys in the Lord.
“FIRST PURE, THEN PEACEABLE”
We are to remember that these 42,000 people, about 35,000 of whom are supposed to have belonged to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin and Levi, and about 11,000 from the other nine tribes, occupied only a small district in Palestine, about twenty-five miles square, Jerusalem being the center. The remainder of the territory of Palestine was more or less settled by immigrants. The king of Babylon followed the practice of moving the
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captives from one nation into the territory of another, so that their old associations being broken up they would be more dependent upon the Babylonian government and lose their own natural traits. These people of various nationalities that had settled in Palestine had acquired some of the traditions of the land and its religious customs, and in our Lord’s day, 566 years later, they were known as the Samaritans. Of them our Lord said, “Ye believe ye know not what; we know what we believe, for salvation is of the Jews.” Respecting the same people, we remember our Lord’s commandments as he sent forth the twelve apostles and later also the seventy disciples to proclaim him, he said, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”—Matt. 10:5,6.
These mixed peoples, whom we will for convenience call Samaritans, paid little attention to the Jews returned from Babylon until they heard of their project of rebuilding the Temple on its own site, the consecrated site, for it is supposed that Abraham’s typical offering of Isaac was made upon this very “dome of the rock” upon which the Temple was built, a rock that to this day is held sacred by Musselmans, Jews and Christians. The Samaritans had been unneighborly up to this time, but now seemed to catch an inspiration from this Temple building as they remembered the ancient glories of the nation of this land, whose great king Solomon had built the first Temple. Ceasing to act as enemies, the Samaritans proffered their assistance in the building of the Temple. We cannot doubt that they were sincere in this proposition, and that really their religious fervor impelled them to make it.
Many commentators think the Israelites made a great mistake in rejecting their aid and declining to affiliate with them. But such commentators are evidently in error, since our Lord Jesus by his conduct and words fully substantiated the thought that the Samaritans had nothing whatever to do with the true Temple and its building. God had been sifting the true seed of Abraham to select from it the faithful few, and now to have invited the Samaritans to come in and join them in the Temple building and Temple services would have been to bring in a semi-heathen mixture, which the Lord did not desire. Why the Lord did not desire it can be seen only from the one standpoint—not that it was his wish to send those Samaritans to eternal torment, nor that he wished to destroy them in the Second Death, but that he has for future development a great plan of salvation which will affect every nation, people, kindred and tongue, including these Samaritans. In the interim he wished to develop the typical seed of Abraham, and subsequently the spiritual seed of Abraham, to be his agents and representatives in conferring his blessings upon all nations.
“WHICH TEMPLE YE ARE”
We find the same thought abroad to-day, troubling those who have come out of Babylon, and who are wishing to build the true Temple of God referred to in our golden text—the holy temple, the antitypical temple, “which temple ye are.” The foundations of our temple were laid at Pentecost, under apparently very unfavorable conditions from the world’s standpoint—a dead leader, and a handful of a few hundred disciples scattered and considerably discouraged. Nevertheless, those who recognize the Lord’s hand in the matter see things differently: with the eye of faith they discern in Jesus the great rock of our Salvation typified by the “rock of the dome,” the top of Mt. Zion, on which the altar of sacrifice stood. The same eye of faith now discerns that the twelve apostles are the foundation stones of divine appointment, built upon the rock Christ Jesus; and that upon the ministries of those appointed representatives of Christ, a glorious church, a glorious temple of the Lord is being erected. Those who then had the eye of faith shouted for joy, and all who since possess the same spiritual vision rejoice in the greater work which the Lord is accomplishing, as they see the preparation now of the “living stones,” which, by and by, in the first resurrection, shall be brought together complete as the glorious temple of God, in and through which all the families of the earth may have intercourse with God to their blessing.
There are numerous “Samaritans” to-day who have neither part nor lot in this great temple and its construction. These Samaritans are found in churches of nearly all denominations, men and women of good character and of religious inclinations. Some of them are “good Samaritans,” ready to relieve the sick, the indigent. Worldly wisdom says that these should all be recognized as “Israelites indeed,” even though they be not fully consecrated to the Lord to do his will. Many are inclined to upbraid us now, as they upbraided the natural Israelites, for refusing the fellowship and cooperation of the Samaritans of their day.
ONLY ONE NARROW WAY
There is but one course for the Lord’s people to follow: they should appreciate whatever is good in these their neighbors and friends, they should deal justly and kindly with them, but they should remember that as
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oil and water will not mix, so likewise there cannot be any real union between the consecrated and the unconsecrated in respect to their religious views and their endeavors to cooperate in the divine service. Their standpoints are opposite, affiliations are injurious to both parties. If the spiritually begotten ones, the Israelites indeed, attempt to meet the ideas of the Samaritan class, they will be compromising their own covenant with the Lord. Likewise, if the Samaritan class or the churchianity class of our day be encouraged to affiliate with the consecrated, it will injure them in that it will deceive them into thinking that they have become joint-heirs in the divine promises; whereas none can inherit under those promises except through faith in the Redeemer, circumcision in the heart, and a full consecration unto the death. Such only become regularly and legitimately Israelites indeed, probationary members of the “very elect” Church.
When their cooperation in temple building, etc., was declined, the Samaritans became the bitter opponents of the Jews, whom they, no doubt, described as bigoted. Consistently with their views of the subject they did all in their power, politically and otherwise, to hinder the temple building, and thus the trials and difficulties of the servants of God were greatly increased and multiplied.
So it is to-day. Those who are faithful to the Lord, “the people who do know their God,” are esteemed to be religious bigots and fanatics by some of the respectable
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of churchianity, who, in harmony with their erroneous conceptions of the situation, are doing all in their power to hinder us in the great work of this Gospel age, the preparation of the living stones of this Temple. We need to understand the situation properly, otherwise we would soon be discouraged, and think of God as being against us because he permits such opposition. But with the right view of things before our minds we may realize that all the oppositions of churchianity are really beneficial to us, helpful in that they serve to do the chiseling and polishing of our characters, necessary to fit and prepare us for honorable stations in the temple of glory soon to be completed. One thought not to be lost sight of is, that in the Lord’s arrangement we are the stones, he the master workman—and all the trials and difficulties and oppositions and perplexities and disappointments of our experience are the chisels and the wheels and the emery-sand for our preparation. From this standpoint only are we able to follow the Apostle’s advice to rejoice in tribulations also.
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“BY MY SPIRIT, SAITH THE LORD”
—ZECHARIAH 4:1-10—OCTOBER 29—
Golden Text:—”Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord”
ZECHARIAH prophesied during the period of the rebuilding of the Temple. In our last lesson we noted the beginning of the work in the laying of the foundations, and that this corresponds with the establishment of the Gospel Church at Pentecost. The joy and zeal associated with the founding of the Temple was followed by a period of slackness, the result of the opposition of the Samaritan neighbors, who employed their every art to discourage the builders and to cause an interruption of the work. As a result several years elapsed before the structure was finally completed.
Just so, after the founding of the Church by our Lord and the apostles, and the great season of refreshing associated therewith, there came a period of fierce opposition and persecution from Satan and his blinded servants. As a consequence of this opposition very little was done for centuries upon the building up of the Church—the preparation of the living stones; yet finally, with the Lord’s assistances and encouragements through the Reformation movement, etc., the work of collecting the living stones has progressed, and now we are in the time when the Temple of the Lord is nearly complete—the spiritual Temple which, when completed, will receive its top-stones in the sense of being brought directly in contact with and under the guidance of the glorified Lord, who is the capstone of the spiritual pyramid—his Church.
Haggai’s prophecies were delivered to Israel about the time of their return from the captivity, and therefore at the time of the founding of the Temple, the prophet at this time being advanced in years. Zechariah, a younger prophet, was raised up by the Lord at this time, and other messages were sent to the discouraged Israelites to show them that they must not expect great national prosperity at the time, but that nevertheless the Lord was with them, and that going on faithfully in an apparently small, insignificant matter, they would be accomplishing his purposes. This corresponds in some degree with the messages which have come to the Lord’s people since the time of Wycliffe, and which have led to the Reformation movement in its various aspects, and incidentally to the development and preparation of the various living stones of the glorious Temple.
PROPHETS TO BOTH ISRAELS
Our lesson treats of these visions given to Zechariah and related by him to the people, which served to encourage them to proceed with the work. They were not spiritual Israelites, neither was the Temple they were constructing the true, glorious Temple of the Lord. Those were only the types—the better things, the antitypes, are ours. Nevertheless they got a blessing in connection with the types as we get still greater blessings in connection with the antitypes, and the same messages which mean so much for us meant a great deal to them, though they did not understand them so clearly.
For instance, this prophecy respecting the Golden Candlestick, etc., to natural Israel at that time was properly understood to mean that they were to be God’s light-bearers amongst all the nations of the world, and that God himself would see to the supply of light which they would shed forth. And all that was true of natural Israel for centuries; they were God’s light-bearing nation, and undoubtedly their influence in the world hindered a greater degradation than might otherwise have occurred. The nations furthest away from them and the light which God placed in them and which shone out from them were the nations which became the most degraded, while the nations nearest them and their light were the nations which went downward least rapidly. Assuredly, however, it was not intended that they should understand the full meaning of this prophecy, and the prophet himself did not understand its full meaning.
The Apostle Peter explains the situation to us when he says, “Holy men of old spoke as moved by the holy Spirit.” And yet he proceeds to say, The things which they uttered were not for themselves but for us upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Cor. 10:11; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:21.) The prophets spoke and wrote mechanically, as they were moved by the holy Spirit. They saw some meaning, some significance of the things they wrote and spoke, but not the true, the deep significations, which were not then due to be understood. Only since the true Temple began to be built at Pentecost, only since the anointing of the holy Spirit came upon the spiritual household, the body of Christ, has it been possible for any to enter into the real spirit, thought, intention of the divine purpose as expressed in this and in other prophecies.
THE GOLDEN LAMPSTAND
The Golden Candlestick, or, more properly, lampstand, was an important feature in connection with the Tabernacle services and subsequently with the Temple services. It was the light in the Holy as the Shekinah glory was the light in the Most Holy. We may gain an accurate conception of the appearance of this golden
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lampstand from the arch of Titus at Rome. Titus was the Roman general whose army destroyed Jerusalem A.D. 69. Amongst the spoils of the city which he carried away with him was the golden lampstand from the Temple. The arch in Rome was built as a memorial to that victory. It still stands, though somewhat dilapidated, and chiseled in it are representations of Hebrew captives bearing the trophies of war. Amongst these trophies the golden candlestick is represented. The cut herewith produced well represents it.
The golden candlestick shown to Zechariah in this vision differed from the one in the Temple and in the Tabernacle in that it had a special bowl as an oil reservoir and pipes leading from the bowl to two olive trees, one on each side of it, the oil being thus represented as flowing from the tree to the lamp and thus perpetually supplying a light. We remember that similarly, in his last great message to the Church, our Lord pictures seven golden candlesticks or lampstands separated from one another, and explains that these represented the seven stages or epochs of the Church symbolized by the seven congregations of Asia. The seven lampstands united in one represented, therefore, the Church as a whole from first to last, its every member complete, the number seven representing completeness.
We are not to think of this lampstand as representing the Church in the future state of glory, giving light to the world. No! Thank God! The future glory is represented otherwise as the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in its beams, and we are particularly told that the Church will constitute with her Lord that Sun of Righteousness, which shall bless the world and heal its sin-sickness.—Matt. 13:43.
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“LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE”
In applying this lesson, then, we should recognize that it relates to the Church as a whole during this Gospel age, during the time when the preparation of the living stones for the Temple is in progress. The lesson to us is that God is supplying to us the light amidst the surrounding darkness of the world—the light of truth, the light of the holy Spirit. Nevertheless, God is pleased to supply this light through peaceable agencies represented by the two olive trees, which we understand to symbolize the Old and the New Testaments. From these two sources of instruction the Lord’s Church is to be filled with his spirit and to shine as lights in the world in the midst of darkness, in the midst of crooked and perverse peoples. From this standpoint they are not to expect that their success in the building of the Temple will be in the nature of worldly success. They are rather to expect that the Lord will furnish them with this supply of oil and light because they are his people and because they are doing the work, and they are thus to be assured of its ultimate accomplishment no matter how or what agencies are in opposition. “Greater is he that is for us than all they that be against us.”
Zerubbabel was one of the princes amongst the people of the line of David, and therefore represented the kingdom hopes of the people. His name implies alienation from Babylon. He also represented our Lord Jesus, the prince of the house of David, whose Kingdom is ultimately to be established in the whole earth for the blessing and enlightenment of all, but who for a time was to be unrecognized by the world. The message given to Zerubbabel, therefore, in a general way applies to Jesus the Head of the Church and to all the members of his body, and particularly to all who are his representatives in the Church in the capacity of teachers, elders, etc.
HE SHALL NOT FAIL NOR BE DISCOURAGED
We are reminded here of another statement applicable to our Lord, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged until he have set judgment in the earth.” (Isa. 42:4.) The message here to the Zerubbabel class is to encourage the work, that the Temple must be built, that it shall be built, and that ultimately great blessings shall flow to all people through it. The message reads: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” The implication is that the Lord’s Church is not to be established through Crusades, nor through mighty organizations combining with worldly systems and powers, nor by unions of wealthy sects. These all build along different lines. The Temple which the Lord is building is to have a beauty, an honor, a dignity, not in its construction, nor in the value of its stones, but by reason of its completion and of its then being filled with the glory of the Lord—in the first resurrection.
The oppositions of the surrounding neighbors and the difficulties which they put in the way of the building of the Temple must have seemed to the people of that time like an impassable mountain before them blocking their way. And so throughout the Gospel age the various agencies of evil, the civil power and subsequently the ecclesiastical and civil powers in combination, have seemed to have thoroughly blocked the way for the development of the living stones for the Kingdom. From the human standpoint, discerning the class which the Lord is selecting, all the outward circumstances have been unfavorable. The prosperity of Churchianity has meant the hindrance of the truth, the hiding of it under forms and ceremonies and creeds, until those who fear the Lord and who speak often together have wondered why the Lord has permitted such great obstacles in the way of finding the very elect and building them up in the most holy faith. And when the power and strength of present institutions are considered we may well ask, Where will the Lord’s little flock be found? how will they ever be glorified? and how can they eventually take possession of the Kingdom under the whole heavens?
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE ZERUBBABEL CLASS
The message here through the prophet is intended to encourage the Zerubbabel class, representative of all those who are co-laborers with the Lord in the building of his Temple, in the preparation of the stones. The assurance is that however great and formidable the opposition, the apparent mountains of difficulty shall disappear. What we need is faith in the Lord that he is carrying out his work and that ultimately all his good purposes shall be accomplished. Instead of mountains before us shall be a plain, and ultimately God will bring forth the headstone, the capstone, to the great complete Church, and Head and body together shall be glorified, and then will be the shoutings of Grace, grace unto it! God’s favor upon it! Then the Shekinah glory shall fill the Temple, every member, every stone, shall be glorified, made partaker of the divine nature, and be fully qualified to carry out all the gracious purposes of our God.
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The message adds that as Zerubbabel laid the foundations of the house, he also would complete it, and the message to us is that as our Lord Jesus was the Father’s representative and founded the house of sons at Pentecost, so in due time he will complete the work and it will be completed along present lines, not by power of men nor by the might of men, nor by the riches of the world, but by the Lord’s spirit, seeking those who are his and operating in them through the Word to the chiseling and polishing, the shaping and preparing, of them for the glorious positions they are to occupy. He who began the good work in us is able and willing to complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ.—Phil. 1:6.
A DAY OF SMALL THINGS
To the Jews returned from Babylon the effort to build the house of the Lord and the materials with which they worked all seemed insignificant and poor and unlikely to result in anything great or glorious or lasting. And so with us who now are free from Babylon and who are seeking to be built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the present time seems a day of small things; not many great, not many wise, not many learned are to be found amongst the living stones, but the Lord knoweth them that are his, and our confidence is to be in him. If we despise not these small things we shall ultimately rejoice. We are to recognize the plummet in the hands of the Lord, squaring, straightening, proving, testing, not only our faith but also our characters. We are to recognize that only those who will stand the testing of the Lord shall ultimately constitute the living stones in this glorious Temple. We are to recognize also that the eyes of the Lord are upon all his people and upon all their interests, to note their tears and their joys, their trials and difficulties and their prosperity, to care for all their interests.
In this symbolical picture the eye of the Lord is represented as seven or complete all-seeing, everywhere, all-knowing. This is our confidence, this is our rejoicing. Let us then in our double capacity not only be conformed to the plummet line, to all the elements of justice and truth and righteousness and love, but let us also, as associated with our Lord in the work of upbuilding the Church, build one another up in the most holy faith. Let us use the plummet with love, with kindness, and let us encourage one another with the assurance that ultimately the glorious plan of the Lord shall be accomplished through the small things, the mean things, the insignificant things of the world, the little flock whom he is choosing to be his agents and representatives in the great and glorious work which is to follow. Let us accordingly seek to be more and more filled with the spirit. Let us remember that we are the golden candlestick of the Lord, to shed the light abroad in the present time, whether men will heed or whether they will forbear.
Indeed we have the Lord’s assurance that the darkness hateth the light, and that therefore the world will not love or appreciate the efforts, even though they may recognize them as being in many respects good and proper. It is ours not to please the world but to please the Lord, and in order to please him we must let our lights shine out. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” But we cannot as the Lord’s Church in the world let our lights shine out unless we have the oil, unless we have his spirit, and we cannot have the oil, the spirit of the Lord, except as we receive it from his appointed channels or agencies; and we are to recognize that not the wisdom or learning of men is our supply, and not our own wisdom, not the wisdom of this world, but the wisdom from above, which is supplied to us through the two olive trees—the Old Testament, with its glorious prophecies and symbols and instructions and types—the New Testament, with its explanations and assistances and encouragements and exhortations and promises.
“A voice once still and small
Rose sweetly on the ear;
With love so clear and full, that all
In heaven and earth might hear.
“It spoke of peace, it spoke of love,
It spoke as angels speak above;
And God himself was heard.
For oh, it was the Father’s voice
That bade his trembling world rejoice.”
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
Every day, and day by day, we have increasing reason for rejoicing that by God’s abounding grace we—even we—are in the Light. In reading over “Encouraging Words From Faithful Workers,” I am forcibly struck with what seems to be a common source of wonder, to wit: That this astonishing favor is bestowed upon me—”even me!” It is well that we realize our personal unworthiness, but how often, oh, how often, do I have to hold up before the Adversary, when he would overwhelm me with this thought with respect to myself, the assurance of our great Apostle in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, 1st chapter, 26-29 verses.
It would require many pages on which to jot down the particular items of advantage which those who are in the light of Present Truth possess in reading God’s Word. Let me refer to one—the understanding of terms, or perhaps ’twere better to say expressions used by the inspired writers. How often we find the expression “That Day;” “In that Day;” and in former times we remember how vague and undefined was our understanding of the “Day” referred to. But now we know its full meaning and we know that we have at last really entered that heretofore mystic period; we are now living—actually living in “That Day,” the “great and notable day of the Lord.” A day of rejoicing to the Church; of sorrow and anguish to the careless and indifferent world. How more and more we realize the blessedness of those who hunger for Truth. It was the eagle eye and appetite (See Vol. VI., p.610) that led us to the feast, and it is that that enables us to instantly detect the “tid bits” which are here and there dropped for our sustenance along the “solitary way.”—Psa. 107:4.
For the edification of all who have been firmly placed upon the rock of God’s eternal Truth, through the MILLENNIAL DAWNS, by a clear understanding of His Wonderful Plan of the Ages, I refer to one morsel at which I almost held my breath when I noted it, because I could almost fancy I could hear the voice of our Lord quickly whispering the message to me. Without doubt it is slipped in parenthetically, like some verses in Daniel’s prophecy, meant not for the careless or indifferent reader, who really would not understand it, but for the eye which God knew would detect
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it, appreciate it and pass it around. I refer to Proverbs 22:17-21. All the chapter up to the 17th verse is proverbs pure and simple, and from the 21st to close of chapter the same; but in these verses there is not the sign of a proverb.
In joy, love and consecration, I am,
Your brother, EMORY A. SADDLER,—O.
Kindly mail to above address a sample copy of ZION’S WATCH TOWER, and a list of the MILLENNIAL DAWN publications. I have one copy, “The Divine Plan of the Ages,” which came to my hand accidentally, to all appearances, but I shall always look upon it as being sent to me from God. I was wandering in a sea of doubt—feeling that I MUST have something more to satisfy me than I heard in the sermons from Sabbath to Sabbath. The book was in my home for some time before I paid any attention to it beyond merely glancing in it and deciding it was not interesting. My brother, the Rev. W__________., B.A., B.D. (at present in Yale University—recent winner of a scholarship and elected Fellow of Yale College for the year), picked up the book, and after glancing at it asked where I got it. I said my husband bought it from a traveling agent. “Well,” he remarked, “I wouldn’t advise you to read it.” This aroused my curiosity and I decided to read it at once—which I did. I have since read it many, many times finding new beauties, and fresh comfort in every reading. My brother is an advanced theologian, and would no doubt think I was a mild lunatic if he knew how thoroughly I agree with the views taken by Mr. Russell.
Yours sincerely, __________, Canada.
MY DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—
I have no doubt but that a report of the following experience will interest you. I have come to this city to attend the N.O.A. meeting, and came in advance to build up a clinic. In order to accomplish this I sent a letter to all the ministers of the city, inviting them to send any member of their congregation who might wish to have the advantages of this treatment, as no charges were made for it.
I received an invitation to attend the meeting of the ministers’ alliance. There were present seven ministers. Three of them were amongst the best-known and most prominent of the city. We were invited into the study, where a large center table had been placed in the middle of the room, and the ministers all were invited to sit around the table. I took a seat back in one corner.
In addition to the ministers three women were present. They were invited in, and one of them seated at the head of the table. When all were seated the rector of the church made a speech, the gist of which was that the Christian Scientists were proselyting from the various churches all over this country, especially in Denver, and in order to combat this influence the time had come when the ministry were compelled to do something in self-defense. And the most rational thing for them to do, in his opinion, was to investigate these things and accept that which could be supported by demonstrated facts. Personally, he thought the healing appealed to the people, and every minister of the Gospel should be able to do this. He wound up by saying that the woman at the head of the table was a graduate from Mrs. Eddy’s school and was there prepared to give them facts. The “facts” (?) were a few extracts from Mrs. Eddy’s teachings showing upon what her methods or “science” (?) were based. These were interspersed with something from Hudson, on mental suggestion. Afterward the ministers present were called upon to give an expression of their views and their opinion as to the advisability of starting a class under this woman as instructor. They were all in favor of it. There was one stranger present besides myself, with a MS. of a book written to show that all these occult methods of healing belong properly within the churches. During his remarks he made the statement that all these various methods of healing were opposed to Christ and denied the atonement.
Before closing they asked me as a physician to make some remarks. I told them I realized that there was considerable efficacy in mental suggestion, but had always avoided such things because they were used of the Adversary and invariably led men into spiritualism and away from Christ. That as ministers of the Gospel, I could not see how they could justify their action in becoming interested in bringing into the Church anything which one of the members had stated, and all felt, denied the atonement sacrifice of our Lord; and that as a follower of our Lord I wanted nothing to do with it.
As soon as I sat down one of the most prominent ministers of the gathering arose and said he was heartily in favor of what I had said; that it was true that these things were opposed to Christ. Consequently the only safe thing to do was to keep the two separate, or not to confound their religion with their method of healing, as they were separate and distinct anyway, but by all means they must do something to save their flocks! So the class was started.
Thus the Devil is using Christian Science to whip the ministry into line, to a finish.
Praying the Lord’s blessing to continue with you, I am,
Your loving brother in Christ,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:
These Monday issues of the Dispatch are certainly accomplishing a good work. I know of at least two who were formerly very much opposed to the Truth and the TOWER publications, to whom I have regularly sent the Dispatch, and who are now reading the fourth Vol. of DAWN, having read I., II. and III. already and are now inquiring along the line of Truth, and are no longer bitter toward it, and acknowledge the reasonableness of many of the presentations and the scripturalness of many others. If persons continue to read them, we have a ground for hope, and I have noticed that occasionally such ones, all unconsciously to themselves, come to accept portions of the Truth; therefore we will, with the dear Lord’s assistance, continue to send out the “glad tidings,” hoping and praying that it may find all those who have “ears to hear.”
I desire to do all I can to assist in this work, because I believe it is all being accomplished under the direction of the great Chief Reaper, and the time in which we may do this harvesting work will very soon be past—the summer will be ended.
It is a great privilege—co-operating with those already beyond the vail, in the harvest work. May the dear Lord bless his own work, and all those earnest loyal ones, everywhere, who are trying thus to assist, is my prayer. Sincerely,
Your Brother in his Service,
R. H. BARBER.—N.Y.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
Am led to write you to say that last winter some one left a tract at our door entitled, “Christ’s Death Secured One Probation, or Trial for Life Everlasting to Every Man.” After reading it, we decided that it was the Word of God. We then sent to the WATCH TOWER for more and they sent us a good supply, which was a great feast of truth to us. Then we subscribed for the WATCH TOWER and a little later on for the Plan of the Ages.
We have been separated from all Creeds and Sects for a good many years, and being willing sacrifices unto God until death, we are striving daily to become more and more conformed to the Image of our Living Head, and whereunto we have attained we stand fast. Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the Great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ,
Your brother in Christ,
CHARLES W. MANDEVILLE,—Pa.