VOL. X. June 1, 1927 No. 11
VOL. X. June 15, 1927 No. 12
VOL. X. June 1, 1927 No. 11
"Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He
THOSE WHO would realize the blessed fruitage of waiting upon the Lord -- good courage and strengthening of heart, are such as have to a considerable extent been taken into the Divine confidence and have learned through experience in fellowship with God, largely of the lessons of reliance upon and trust in Him. And how valuable are such experiences and such lessons ! They alone can furnish the background and the good foundation for that further priceless gift-the peace of God that passeth human understanding. But who are these enjoying such a happy condition and have learned how to wait upon God? The answer is that they are those who have chosen God, His will and His way as their heritage and portion in life. They have come to understand experimentally the words, "The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms."
It is a condition of holiness and righteousness of heart -- of desire and purpose; and the persons experiencing this happy relationship with God are those who have entered the holy place or secret chamber of His presence by full consecration to Him, which carries with it the renouncement of all the things of sin and of this present evil world, its schemes and plans and projects. As Jesus was exemplifying this life in its blessed fullness, He said to His chosen disciples, ye are not of the world and I have called you out of the world. How grandly His own life stood out in bold relief, in contrast with that of selfishness and sin and depravity in the children of this world.
"Ye Are Not of the World"
We still have before us as the Divine copy the same blessed Master and the same holy admonitions and injunctions to know God and the same incentive to walk in His ways and live the life of holiness and separateness from this world. No change whatever has taken place in God's program for the true Church that would admit of any more affiliation, sympathy, or fellowship with the world and the things of darkness and sin today than was permissible when St. Paul uttered those significant words, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds." Another admonishes:
"It is as true today as it was eighteen hundred years ago, when out Lord uttered the words, that His people are not of the world, even as He Himself is not of the world. (John 17.) The world is the world still. It may in some places have changed its dress, but not its true character, spirit, and principles. Hence, therefore, it is as wrong today for Christians to be 'unequally yoked together with unbelievers' As it was when Paul penned his epistle to the Church at Corinth. It surely ought to be the deep and earnest desire of our hearts to respond to His gracious will in this matter, utterly regardless of the world's thoughts respecting us. Some of us are very much afraid of being thought narrow and bigoted; but, oh, how little it imports to a truly devoted heart what men think of us! Human thoughts perish in an hour. When we stand in the full blaze of the glory, what will it matter to us whether men considered us narrow or broad, bigoted or liberal? and what should it matter to us now? not the weight of a feather. Our one grand object should be, so to act, so to carry ourselves, as to be 'acceptable' to Him who has made us 'accepted."'
Necessity of Being Emptied and Broken
It is generally after many years of experience under the Divine training and after the more advanced stages of Christian development are reached that the child of God realizes the ability and power to wait upon the Lord. We would not understand the expression, wait upon the Lord, to mean merely the rendering of service, or that of ministering to the Lord as a servant would wait on his master; but rather the expression conveys the idea of resignation to the will of God, a complete resigning and resting of the heart and all one possesses in the hands of God ; resting in full acquiescence in that which the Divine providence has indicated to be our experience. It is trusting God in every experience, in every circumstance and fully willing for Him to do with us as seemeth to Him good. Great is the change that is wrought by the Lord's spirit in those whose. privilege it is to enjoy this happy state. Various terms are used in the Scriptures to convey the idea of this change. Amongst these are the words, transformed or transformation, regeneration, sanctification, begetting of the Spirit, etc.; all of which terms imply that the hard and selfish condition of sin has been thoroughly broken up. In other words, such become emptied and broken vessels for the Master's use made meet. No heart can be at home in the presence of God until it has been thoroughly emptied and broken. "God is at home, with a broken heart, and a broken heart is at home with Him." And we must learn to repose, like a little child, in the perfect love of the One whose tender affection for us is revealed in the words of the Son, "The Father Himself loveth you." "Perfect love casteth out fear".; but where such love is not known and fully realized, there will always be a measure of uneasiness and perturbation.
The real secret of much of our sorrow and trial in the world lies in the fact that "Our hearts have never been really broken before the Lord; we have never been self-judged and self-emptied; and hence, again and again, we, as it were, knock our heads against the wall. No one can really enjoy God until he has got to the bottom of self, and for this plain reason, that God has begun the display of Himself at the very point at which the end of the flesh is seen. If, therefore, I have not reached the end of my flesh, in the deep and positive experience of my soul; it is morally impossible that I can have anything like a just apprehension of God's character. But I must, in some way or other, be conducted to the true measure of nature. To accomplish this end, the Lord makes use of various agencies which, no matter what they are, are only effectual when used by Him for the purpose of disclosing, in our view, the true character of all that is in our hearts. And how often do we find that even although the Lord may come near to us and speak in our ears, yet we do not understand His voice or take our true place in His presence. 'The Lord is in this place, and I knew it not . . . . How dreadful is this place."'
Deeper Lessons of His Own Tender Grace
One of the most important lessons for all the children of God to learn is that of lying passive in an attitude of submissiveness in God's hand; and again it is in this direction that so many who have professed to be God's children have apparently failed. The natural mind is constantly asserting itself and coming to the front and this causes us to be disposed to emphasize the importance of our own acting, our own works, apart from God, when as a matter of fact the first thing of importance is that of recognizing that we have no strength in ourselves, that we must receive it from God and that we can act and work only as by faith we are resting and trusting in Him. "By our own acting" says the above writer, "we hinder the display of God's grace and power on our behalf. 'Be still and know that I am God,' is a precept which nought, save the power of Divine grace, can enable one to obey. 'Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.' What will be the result of thus acting? 'The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall garrison your hearts and minds by Christ Jesus.'
"However, God graciously overrules our folly and weakness, and while we are called upon to reap the fruits of our unbelieving and impatient ways, He takes occasion from them to teach our hearts still deeper lessons of His own tender grace and perfect wisdom. This, while it assuredly affords no warrant whatever for unbelief and impatience, it does most wonderfully exhibit the goodness of our God, and comfort the heart even while we may be passing through. the painful circumstances consequent upon our failure. God is above all; and, moreover, it is His special prerogative to bring. good out of evil, to make the eater yield meat, and the strong yield sweetness . . . . 'Now, we cannot but own the blessedness of being in such a condition that we have nothing to rest upon save God Himself; and, moreover, that it is in the most perfect establishment of God's own character and prerogative that we obtain all our true joy and blessing. According to this principle, it would be an irreparable loss to us to have any ground of our own to stand upon, for in that case, God should address us on the ground of responsibility, and failure would then be inevitable."
Should Lean Exclusively Upon God
Only such as are really leaning wholly and without reserve upon God may be said to be truly waiting on the Lord. Such wait to be guided by Him and do not run on before Him unmindful of what is the Lord's purpose for them. "Trust in the Lord with all throe heart and lean not unto throe own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths," is the counsel of the wise man. How difficult a thing it is to refrain from leaning upon our own understanding! And how many of the children of God have made mistakes along this line. So often we have the theory of God's overruling providence in our lives; we have the theory that He is planning for us in life and directing our ways and steps; we even tell the Lord in our prayers that we are trusting Him, waiting upon Him, to control and direct our interests and movements here; yet no sooner have we come from the secret closet, where we have been alone with God, than we begin in our human way to scheme and plan but various interests and at once assume the responsibility of executing these plans and ordering and controlling our own steps purely in our human strength.
"Now, praying and planning will never do together. If I plan, I am leaning more or less on my plan; but when I pray, I should lean exclusively upon God. Hence, the two things are perfectly incompatible; they virtually destroy each other. When my eye is filled with my own management f things, I am not prepared to see God acting for me; and, in that case prayer is not the utterance of my need, but the mere superstitious performance of something which I think ought to be done, or it may be asking God to sanctify my plans. This will never do. It is not asking God to sanctify and bless my means, but it is asking Him to do it all Himself. No doubt, when faith allows God to act, He will use His own agency; but this is a totally different, thing from His owning and blessing the plans and arrangements of unbelief and impatience. This distinction is not sufficiently understood.
Nor will it do to make our prayers a part of our management. We often feel very well satisfied with ourselves when we add prayer to our arrangement, or when we have used all lawful means and called upon Gad to bless them. When this is the case, our prayers are worth about as much as our plans, inasmuch as we are leaning upon them instead of capon God. We must be really brought to the end of everything with which self has aught to do; for until then, God cannot show Himself. But we can never get to the end of our plans until we have been brought to the end of ourselves. We must see that 'all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.' -- Isa. 40:6."
God's Will Must Come First
Having received the Divine instruction regarding the true wisdom, the wisdom of trusting in and leaning upon God we should go forward and act in life only as there is distinct evidence that He is leading us on. If we are not thoroughly clear as to His will, we must be on guard lest we be in too great a hurry and run ahead of the Lord and be found trying to guide ourselves. If there is a delay in matters and the plan which we think is of the Lord is not developing and progressing as rapidly as we think it should, let us call forth our power of trust and take it to the Lord in earnest prayer, trusting Him particularly that we may have no will or way of our own, but that we are wholly desirous of being guided only by His will. Having thus determinedly committed the matter afresh to the Lord, let us wait and watch for the indication of . His providence and follow as He seems to lead, leaving the results with Him. God's will must come first in every child that would be acceptable to God and there should be no choice on our part except that we are choosing Gads will and God's way. If we are questioned by some one and asked, "Are you going to follow out this plan of procedure, or have you purposed to go that way? Do you intend to remove to this place or that place?" Our attitude and reply, if we have not yet seen clearly the Lord's providence and will in the matter should be, "I am not yet fully decided; I am considering the Word of the Lord and His providential leadings that I may ascertain if possible His instruction and how it may apply in my case." Or, "I am waiting upon the Lord and have been praying over the matter, trusting that He will guide me in doing that which is right and acceptable in His sight." The poet has expressed the right attitude, too
afraid to touch
He Shall Strengthen Thine Heart
It is quite true that those who wait on the Lord do not always seem to prosper best from outward appearance, but the promise implies that the faith that will wait upon the Lord will enable us to be of good courage and the heart will be strengthened; continuing in that frame of mind we will be pursuing the right course and will surely have His blessing. We will make no mistake when we wait upon Him, even though others may seem to be getting ahead of us and going more prosperously in life; our motto must still be "Wait on the Lord." Those who have advanced in this experience will take no step unless they feel sure that the Lord is directing and guiding. They watch the meaning of His providence; study His Word. They let not their faith depart from its mooring; and they are of good courage. When the Lord says He will strengthen the hearts of such trusting ones, we would understand Him to mean that He will establish and support the soul, the 'being; He will uphold us, He will fortify us and make us strong to bear and do His will. He will fulfil His promise that they that wait upon the Lord shall not want any good thing.
But what are the grounds for the exercise of such great trust in God? The answer is, His word of promise, together with the fact that His own character and all the boundless resources at His command stand pledged to make good to us the exceeding great and precious promises of His Word; thus we are given every reason for hope. Children of God, waiting upon the Lord and following His leading, will continue to have trials and experiences similar to those of the world in addition to experiences and trials peculiar to them as footstep followers of Christ. These come not to us, however, as events and matters that just "happen" in our lives as they do to the world, but are under the direct supervision and care of the Lord.
Obedience Means Suffering With Christ
Those who are young in the knowledge and service of the Master may think at first that their ways should run smoothly for them and that they should .riot have the reverses and afflictions common to the world, and they may have the impression that since they are God's children He would protect them from adversity and mistreatment. But as they follow on to know the Lord; if their hearts are really committed to His keeping, they soon see that this is not true. They, wild learn that theirs is a walk of faith and that they do not expect to have' outward, tangible revelations of Divine favor, but that following obediently the course of the Narrow Way. They recognize that that obedience means suffering with Christ, because hereunto they were called. The Holy Spirit which will more and more fill their hearts and minds will reveal to them that as their Master learned obedience by the things which He suffered, so must they also and in time they come to see that if God be for them who can be against them. Their confidence and disposition to wait upon the Lord will be enlarged and they will increasingly recognize that the courage borne of faith in God and in His exceeding great and precious promises strengthens them when otherwise they might be overwhelmed. It gives them a strength to which all others are strangers.
God's Care Infinitely Superior
Over and over again as we are examining and considering the subject of waiting on the Lord we are brought face to face with the great problem of trust. It is belief and trust all along the line if we would succeed in living successfully this life of God. Are we trusting sufficiently, are we wholly leaning upon the everlasting Arm, are we daily and hourly looking up to our heavenly Parent as the child does to an earthly parent, and relying upon Him for constant care and direction of our steps? "If the child is in its father's arms," observes another, "nothing can touch it without that father's consent, unless he is too weak to prevent it. And even if this should be the case, he suffers the harm first in his own person before he allows it to reach his child. If an earthly parent would thus care for his little helpless one, how much more will our Heavenly Father, whose love is infinitely greater, and whose strength and, wisdom can never be baffled, care for us! I am afraid there are some, even of God's own children, who scarcely think that He is equal to themselves in tenderness, and love, and thoughtful care; and who, in their secret thoughts charge Him with a neglect and indifference of which they would feel themselves incapable. The truth really is, that His care is infinitely superior to any possibilities of human care; and that He, who counts the very hairs of our heads, and suffers not a sparrow to fall without Him, takes note of the minutest matters that can affect the lives of His children, and regulates them all according to His own perfect will, let their origin be what they may.
"The instances of this are numberless. Take Joseph. What could have seemed more apparently on the face of it to be the result of sin, and utterly contrary to the will of God, than the action of his brethren in selling him into slavery? And yet Joseph, in speaking of it, said, 'As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.' Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry With yourselves, that ye sold me hither; far God did send me before you to preserve life.' It was undoubtedly sin in Joseph's brethren, but by the time it had reached Joseph it had become God's will for him, and was, in truth, though he did not see it then, the greatest blessing of his whole life. And thus we see how God can make even 'the wrath of man to praise Him,' and how all things, even the sins of others, 'shall work together for good to them that love Him."'
Examples of Some Who Have Waited on God
If a child of God becomes disheartened and loses his hole and strength, it must be because he has lost his hold upon the Lord and His promises to help. He must in some important sense not be availing himself of his Christian privileges to trust and wait on the Lord, because to lose courage means to lose faith. And all Christians of any experience know that loss of faith, and courage, makes a child of God powerless before his foes. O let us trust our Father even when the meaning of His providence is veiled from our eyes and when our efforts to serve Him seem to be hedged up. We have before us many precious lessons from the examples of holy ones of the past, who have trusted and waited on the Lord and have realized the promised courage and strengthening of heart. At one time the Apostle Paul was very desirous of carrying the message of the Gospel to others, eastward into Asia. Several times he tried to go there, but was not permitted. He began to wonder why this was and why his efforts continued to prove unavailing. But the Lord revealed to him that it was His will that he go westward into Greece instead. In his first Epistle to the Church at Thessalonica, he writes, "Wherefore we would have come to you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us." Without doubt the Lord as in St. Paul's case would prevent Satan from doing any real injury to any of His children but would cause all his schemes to work out His own glory, and the lessons of patience and submission would be a blessing to all His trusting children.
And thus it was with our Savior in His great struggle in Gethsemane. He did not lose faith in God, but waited upon Jehovah with reverential fear. As He came to the closing moments of His tragic experiences on earth, He may have wondered whether or not He had faithfully conformed to all the father's requirements, whether or not He had completed His sacrifice successfully. Would He be ushered from death into heavenly glory by a resurrection? How happy the outcome! He received from the Father the assurance that He had been faithful.' All the crucial tests and reverses which the Master underwent in the laying down of His life preceded Him as a sweet incense, a precious perfume, beyond the veil into the Most Holy, the presence of God.
Seeing God in Everything
Let us, beloved in the Lord, in these days of severe testing and trial upon the Church learn more completely if possible the lesson of waiting on the Lord, and understand that the real secret of attaining the true courage and strengthening of heart is in the exercise of simple trust, reliance; and faith in the unfailing promises of God, as they last quoted writer goes on to say:
"Would that it were only possible to make every Christian see this truth as plainly as I see it! For I am convinced it is the only clue to a completely restful life. Nothing else will enable a soul to live only in the present moment, as we are commanded to do, and to take no thought for the morrow. Nothing else will take all the risks and 'supposes' out of a Christian's life, and enable him to say, 'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.' Under God's care we run no risks. I once heard of a poor colored woman who earned a precarious living by daily labor, but who was a joyous, triumphant Christian. 'Ah, Nancy,' said a gloomy Christian lady to her one day, who almost disapproved of her constant cheerfulness, and yet envied it, 'Ah, Nancy, it is all well enough to be happy now, but I should think the thoughts of your future would sober you. Only suppose, for instance, that you should have a spell of sickness, and be unable to work; or suppose your present employers should move away, and no one else should give you anything to do; or suppose 'Stop!' cried Nancy. 'I never supposes. De Lord is my Shepherd, and I knows I shall not want. And, honey,' she added to her gloomy friend, 'it's all dem supposes as is makin' you so mis'able. You'd better give dem all up, and just trust de Lord.'
"Nothing else but this seeing God in everything, will make us loving and patient with those who annoy and trouble us. They will be to us then only the instruments for accomplishing His tender and wise purposes toward us, and we shall even find ourselves at last inwardly thanking them for the blessings they bring.
"Nothing else will completely put an end to all murmuring or rebelling thoughts. Christians often feel at liberty to murmur against man, when they would not dare to murmur against God. Therefore this way of receiving things would make it impossible ever to murmur. If our Father permits a trial to come, it must be because the trial is the sweetest and best thing that could happen to us, and we must accept it with thanks from His dear hand. This does not mean, however, that we must like or enjoy the trial itself, but that we must like God's will in the trial; and it is not hard to do this, when we have learned to know that His will is the will of love, and is therefore always lovely."
(Contributed from outside the Editorial Committee)
"Be ye clean, ye that bear the vessels of the Lord." -- Isa. 52:11.
THE PORTION of Divine prophecy in which the foregoing utterance is found is a specially interesting one, being one of the many which may with every propriety be applied to the present period.
Seeing that all the utterances of Isaiah, were made, and all his record completed long before the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah, it would be a difficult task to apply this particular prophecy in its fullness to any known period since, save one. Or to put it in other words -- there has been no period which so fully and completely fits in with the character of this prophecy as the one in which we now live.
We do not suggest that the true and faithful ones in past times had no need to "be clean," but that the prophetic picture before us here commands special attention, because it shows the reason why at this time the "clean ones" should give diligent and scrupulous attention along these lines.
Let us use a simple illustration: Just recently there was held in London, Eng., a very extensive business exhibition or fair. There were represented in the numerous exhibits endless varieties of the inventive genius of human art and science side by side with the products from. nature's bounteous hand gathered from distant lands the world over -- products enhanced and augmented by human labor and research. Day by day the visitors arrived and departed, charmed and edified by the rich store of information. But on one particular day there was an additional element of brightness and cleanliness. Each exhibitor in his own section had made corrections in and adjustments of his wares and exhibits -- all were specially trimmed and brushed. Proprietors, maids, helpers, assistants were all noticeably more carefully groomed and attired. "Why was this?" we asked. The answer was "The King is coming today!" and sure enough just before the midday hour the word went round "The King is present!" As that august personage made his detailed inspection every one was on the alert to look and to be at his best. The King's presence made all the difference.
Notice now the force of Isaiah's prophecy in verses 6 and 7, quoted from Rotherham's translation
shall My people
beautiful upon the mountains
Surely then the Prophet's admonition must be a timely one: "Be ye clean, ye that bear the vessels of the Lord."
The Lord's people are not now called upon to be vessel-bearers in the sense that such service was rendered in ancient times; yet those holy records of past doings render us a great service by showing us in picture form "things to come" -- valuable lessons for the present. Above all things the vessel-bearers in the Levitical service for Israel were commanded to be clean, and the interesting details given concerning their washings and purifyings were written for our instruction and were each in their turn forceful pictures and powerful hints from which we should receive real edification.
God's people will always do well to look beyond themselves for helpful lessons and may find very profitable ones in the most ordinary experiences of life. The assassin whose palm covers a dagger's hilt has unclean hands -- he-waits in secret to destroy -- he loves darkness. The thief who steals his neighbor's goods, who robs his trustful employer has unclean hands -- his deeds are those of darkness. From such as these God's people can learn no helpful lessons, but are warned to shun. Yet there are others among our fellow men who though knowing little or nothing of the greatness of God's love and wonders of His Plan are able to provide standing lessons of uprightness and truth. Such as these courageously "shake their hands from the holding of bribes" (Isa. 33:15) and thus possess an outward cleanness -- clean hands. Among this class too there are found those who "sweareth to their own hurt and changeth not." (Psa. 15:4.) Though the bargain made may afterwards be found disadvantageous -- these clean-handed ones of earth will still let their yea be yea and their nay, nay. Therefore it is good for God's people to appreciate such of their fellows (for there are many of them) and thus to be assisted in becoming accomplished exponents of these outward graces which mean "clean hands."
The foregoing are merely illustrations of some of the most elementary lessons of the schooling of the saints, yet "He that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger." -- Job 17:9.
A Clean Heart
Whatever the outward expressions of cleanness may be, whether in person, clothing, or speech, we may not always be certain in every case that the inward condition corresponds. The heart is described as the seat of the affections. The will, the intention, the sentiments, etc., are each or all evolved in the inward being, described usually as the heart. God alone possesses the power and prerogative to gauge, estimate, appraise, and judge the value of heart intentions of His children -- in fact of all mankind-and His decisions formed from the deductions He makes are always unerring and are complete before any action exposes the heart intentions. Actions are usually the visible expressions of heart intentions, and are thus the only means we can have of forming any idea of the heart intentions of another person. Unfortunately these actions are often deceptive and do not express the real heart motives and on this account our Lord warns His people to "Judge not" because whoever judges merely according to the actions of another is an incompetent judge and would be liable to do a serious injustice to his brother or fellow and possibly become himself an evil surmiser in such respect.
We thus see the reason why David desired the Lord to "create" in him a "clean heart," (Psa. 51:10) that is to give him the ability and grace to avoid misjudging or slandering another through false premises on account of the other's imperfect actions.
David also beseeched the Lord: "Search me .. . . and see if there be any wicked way in me" (Psa. 139: 23, 24) for he knew that the most intimate friend could not do so for him. "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he" -- the heart ruminations are the measures of the man.
Where God's love is in the heart, there is a true, loving person. Where peace is engendered in the heart, there we find a true, peacemaker. Where joy emanates from the heart, such an one has the joy of the Lord, and gentleness, meekness, longsuffering will each provide a quota to complete the character of the "pure in heart who shall see God" and who shall rejoice in the presence of His dear Son -- who is soon to take His great power, and reign. It is reasonable to expect that each believer should be able to approximate or judge of his own standing by one means or another: God has made this possible and we suggest at least three items set forth for this very purpose, which are especially prominent in God's provision for His people on account of their respective values and importance.
We ask then first of all, Is our faith a pure and clean one? The Bible points out that faith comes first of all. God has placed it in the forefront of all Christian experience and assures us that it must remain prominent and active to the end of our journey. Faith (that is the true, real faith) provides the key to the close-locked portal which guards the way into God's treasure house. The faith which makes the use of this key possible is of one kind only as will be seen by reference to the numerous statements concerning it in the Scriptures, and by pondering these things we can learn just what a clean, pure faith really is. It thus becomes a simple decisive act of volition on the part of one who decides to accept the testimony which God has given concerning His Son and in so doing it can be truly said with the poet:
dropped her anchor
It all seems very simple but it is simply true. Surely it is sad to see what a multitude of ideas have grown up in weedy luxuriance around this original simplicity of faith well nigh smothering it, so that we do not wonder when our Lord said, "When the Son of Man cometh shall He find faith in the earth?" Oh let us raise our feeble voices and say, Yes, Lord, "Help Thou my unbelief." Let us do our best to cry aloud in spite of Satan's crushing falsehoods and all the babel of error around us and bravely ask:
"Oh for a
faith that will not shrink
Let us then turn and view how clearly the Scriptures show who is the Head of the Church in whom alone our faith stands firm, while thousands of our fellow Christians make for themselves human heads and leaders whom they blindly follow; while others are placing their faith in some man-made code. or creed and thus binding themselves to such faith-maintaining ritual that they lose the real faith, and numerous other human ideas becloud faith's true vision and weaken the standing of those who should stand in Christ alone.
A Clean Hope
What is called the hope of the Gospel is closely allied to faith, yet it differs in many respects. We ask then, Is our hope pure and clean?
The hope of the Gospel is a great stimulus to the true faith and "he that hath this hope . . . purifieth himself." It makes the believer truly glad and brings comfort and rest of heart in the midst of the worry and turmoil around him, which grows more acute among his fellow men as the years roll by. Therefore such a hope must be a pure one -- a clean one.
The true hope is not the kind which selfishly looks forward to great honors in the future, it has no hankering impatience, it never says, "Where is the promise of His presence," etc., as though chafing under apparent delay on the Lord's part. It is a saving, satisfying grace and brings with it sufficient foretastes of the future joys, which in themselves are adequate compensation for any present distress. Watchfulness and patient waiting for the Lord are the characteristic attitudes of those who have this clean hope. Again, this hope causes God's love to be "spread abroad in our hearts" and thus our thoughts and hopes include others besides ourselves and we delight to know that they also share it with us.
The true hope goes still further and sees our groaning fellow creatures in due time brought out of the darkness of sorrow and ignorance into the bright presence of Jesus the coming King and receiving at His hand the bountiful favors of health, blessing, and life from God His Father -- even to "whomsoever will." Such, we repeat, must be a pure, clean hope.
The Divine Author of our faith and Provider of our hope brings with these gracious provisions a wealth of knowledge -- true, pure doctrines and teachings which uplift and edify. For instance, the justifying principle made dependent upon faith is a matter fully explained in the 'Scriptures showing how God can be just and yet be the justifier of him who believes on Jesus. This doctrine simply and clearly shows what was effected by the death of Christ and how it benefits each believer by removing from him the embargo originally put upon the whole race through Adam's sin. This is a pure doctrine and unmistakable.
Again by noting the vast extent over which this truth operates we get a first glimpse of the Divine character and by applying our hearts to His wisdom day by day we learn to know of Him as never before. We discover His attributes of Love, Justice and Wisdom and we gain ability thus to refute the false doctrines which ascribe to Him characteristics and deeds which darken His glory -- impure and unclean teachings which blaspheme His name -- dark falsehoods from the Dark Ages. Our view of Him becomes pure and clean-a pure doctrine-and we are constrained to say "Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? . . . for Thy righteous acts are made manifest."
As we search further, our hearts are refreshed again and again and we discover the "wideness of His mercy," which extends to "all that are in their graves." What a pure doctrine! Once we were taught that those millions in the tomb had gone either to the silence of eternal darkness or to some conscious experience a thousand-fold worse than their earth-sorrowing existence. What an unclean doctrine! Now we know that a glorious awakening is assured for every son of Adam "in that He raised Him from the dead." (Acts 17:31.) Blessed assurance! Precious doctrine this, clean and pure!
Still further searching in the Divine Word we discover that the Kingdom is very near and the need of God's righteous Ruler is surely apparent on every hand. The "times and seasons" have located our place an the scroll of history very accurately, and in this immediate connection we see the signs of our Lord's presence as He officially as it were "stands up" to assume and exercise prerogatives which hitherto He had held in abeyance. We see these signs now everywhere, we do not ask "where are they" but we see them and such doctrine is exhilarating and pure as a draught from a crystal spring. How appropriate are all these thoughts in connection with the chapter from which our text was taken! We do not want to be ashamed in His presence. We do not want to be condemned and chagrined because we hold a vitiated faith, and a darkened hope and unclean doctrines, but we want to be fully equipped with faith, hope, and doctrine, . each unsullied and clean as with heavenly armor, so that the true spirit of the Prophet's warning may be appreciated by us all and that we may all become aware how specially needful is such equipment now that "we may not be ashamed in His presence."
"Be ye clean, ye that bear the vessels of the Lord."
"Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; . . . laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." -- 1 Tim. 6:17-19.
NO ONE can intelligently read the Scriptures without being impressed with the spirit of wisdom and prudence constantly exemplified in pointing the devout listener to the future and in admonishing to forethought and frugality in laying a foundation, building and laying up in store for eternity: And no book in all the world so reasonably and so wisely presents to us the way to do this. Thoughts of eternity and of the need for preparation therefore characterize the messages of all those who have truly spoken in the name of the Lord in every age.
The words of the great Teacher tower above all others in this respect: "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt," etc. In that same connection He counsels against setting the heart and affections on the present earthly things and devoting time and enemy to building and storing treasures that are so subject to decay and the ravages of time -- things that are therefore of a very transitory character and that can yield but little satisfaction in the end. Yet the children of this world know little or nothing of any other treasures or possessions than those that concern the present life. Everywhere about us we observe men and women busily engaged in storing up these perishable things. Some find their treasures in wealth, fame, social distinction, houses and lands, friends, home, family, etc., and in these they center their hopes. But all of these are subject to change and decay, and may, if the heart be centered in them, at any moment desolate the life, plunging the heart at once into an abyss of sorrow which can only be measured by the former high tide of its joy when life was young and hope new, before the shadows of disappointment crossed the way.
The wealth, laboriously gathered and husbanded with much care, may vanish in an hour; the fame, so dearly won, may change to censure at the caprice of fickle public sentiment; the social distinction, which once bade you to the uppermost seat may by and by relegate you to the lowest seat, as one despised and forsaken; houses and lands may disappear under the sheriff's hammer; friends long trusted may suddenly turn the cold shoulder and prove untrue or even treacherous; the home you love must sooner or later break tip; the family will be scattered, or death will invade it, or even the love that glowed on the home-altar may flicker and become uncertain or extinct. So the high hopes of early life, centered in the earthly treasures, may in a few short years turn to ashes.
How many have found it so! the moth of wear and the rust of time corrupt the fair earthly blessings; and thieves break through and steal the treasures of our possessions and our hearts, and desolation and gloom are the painful results. But it is not so with those whose treasure is laid up in heaven.
The Chiefest of All Treasures
The all-important question then is, How can we lay up treasure in heaven, and what kind of treasures are accepted in that sure and safe depository? We have the assurance of the Divine Word that every thing that is pure and holy and good is acceptable there. The chiefest of all treasures there is the personal friendship and love of Christ, "the fairest among ten thousand and the one altogether lovely." If we have gained this treasure we have gained one that never changes, one whose love never grows cold and from which nothing can separate us -- "neither tribulation, nor distress, nor famine, nor persecution, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword"; for His love and friendship are not like those of this world, which forsake us in the hour of need. Neither can "death," which often consigns to forgetfulness the friendships of this life; "nor angels," even with all the superior charms of their purity and .glory; nor the "principalities and powers" of darkness that are arrayed against us to separate the betrothed virgin of Christ from her beloved Bridegroom; nor any of the "things present or to come"; "neither height" of temporary exaltation, nor "depth" of trouble and sorrow, "nor any other creature [thing]" in heaven or earth, separate from His special love the Lord's Elect, who have found in Him their chief treasure.
Nor will any other creature in heaven or in earth receive from Him those marks of special favor which are, and ever will be, the chief joy of His beloved Bride. Though "the whole family of God in heaven and in earth" will be blessed through Him, His wife co-operating with Him in the work; she alone will be His companion, His confidant, His treasure. This close relationship of the Church to Christ was set forth in the Lord's words to His typical people which the Apostle Peter shows be, longed, not to them, but to their antitypes, the elect Church. To them He said, "For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord bath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." And the Apostle, after showing that the typical people of God stumbled and proved themselves unworthy of such special favor, applies the promise to the Gospel Church, saying, But ye. are the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: which in time past were not the people, but are now the people of God. --1 Pet. 2 :9.
To Be His Intimate Companion
And to us God has made exceeding great and precious promises -- promises, not only of redemption and deliverance from sin and death, and recognition as sons and heirs of God through Christ to the inheritance of eternal life, but more: He has called us by His grace to be the Bride of His only Son and heir -- "the heir of all things"; to be His intimate and eternal companion in all things; to be "joint-heirs" with Him of all His possessions, so that "all things are ours" also, "if we are Christ's"; to be partakers, too, of the Divine nature and glory and Kingdom; even to sit with Him in His throne, and with Him to constitute a "royal priesthood" in whom all the world shall be blessed.
Hear the invitation, "Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thins ear; forget also thins own people and thy father's house [the world and its ambitions, hopes and aims]; so shall the King [Jehovah's Anointed] greatly desire thy beauty; for He is thy Lord; and worship thou Him." What wonder is it if, when we receive such a message, we hesitate and feel that we are unworthy; that in our imperfection there can be no beauty in us that He should desire us, passing by even the angels in their purity and glory. Surely there must be some mistake ! has not the invitation come like the vision of a dream to be dispelled when sound judgment has awakened to realities? Ah, no! hearken again, and be reassured of the voice of Jehovah, our God; for long ago He led His inspired Prophet to pen these lines for us, and now by His spirit He unseals our understanding and brings the matter to us with all the freshness of His own personality. But what "beauty" have I? I know that I have not all the graces of the Spirit in their glory and perfection; but then, as I reflect, I realize that I wear the robe of Christ's righteousness ; then have I not "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit"? and have I not that faith wherewith it is possible to please God? Therefore I lay hold, with exceeding joy and gratitude, of even this gracious invitation, and, without presumption, I accept the blessed hope and press toward the mark of my high calling which is of God in Christ Jesus, humbly trusting that He who has begun the good work of grace in me will perfect it against that day when He would have me appear before Him without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
Shall Be Loved of My Father
No sooner is the gracious invitation thus accepted than the pleasure of the Lord ìs expressed to the prospective Bride. Hear -- Ye "shall be Mine in that day when I make up My jewels." "Thins eyes shall see the King in His beauty." "I will give thee to eat of the hidden manna, and will give thee a white stone [a precious token of love], and in the stone a new name written [the name of the Bridegroom, henceforth to be ours -- Acts 15:14], which no man knoweth [1 Cor. 2:14] saving he that receiveth it." "Lo, I am with you alway [in thought and loving oversight and care], even unto the end of the age." "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is expedient for you that I go away to Him that sent Me: I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. If ye love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the spirit of truth whom the world can not receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love Him and will manifest Myself to him: We will come unto him, and make our abode with him." -- Mal. 3:17; Isa. 33:17; Rev. 2:17 ; Matt. 28:20; John 16:7, 5 ; 14:2, 3, 15-18, 21-23.
Hear again, as the Lord lifts up His voice in prayer to His Father and our Father, to His God and our God, "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, that they may behold May glory. I pray for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine, and all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them." Precious words ! Con them over again and again, beloved of the Lord, that all their sweetness may permeate your souls and reinforce your waning powers with new vigor, courage, and zeal to press along the Narrow Way until your eyes shall "see the King in His beauty."
Treasures of Character
Other treasures which we may lay up in heaven are those marks of just approval and distinction among all the good and holy which must result from zeal and faithfulness to the Lord and patient endurance of tribulation in His service in the present life. While an exceeding and eternal weight of glory is to be the inheritance of all of the effect Body of Christ who are now laying up treasure in heaven, the Apostle Paul clearly intimates that that treasure may be augmented by special zeal and faithfulness under the peculiar trials of the present time. (2 Cor. 4:17,18.) Treasures also of mind and character we shall find laid up in heaven; for nothing that is good and true, and worthy of preservation, shall be lost to those who have committed their investments to the Lord's keeping. These are incorruptible treasures which neither the lapse of time nor the exigencies of circumstance will be permitted to wrest from us. The treasures in heaven will also include all those true and noble friendships founded in righteousness and truth here on earth, whether they be on the natural or the spiritual plane. For instance, one on the spiritual plane of being will not be disposed to forget or to ignore the loving loyalty of a former earthly friendship which often ministered a cup of cold water to a thirsty soul in time of need. Surely some special marks of favor from the highly exalted ones will manifest the appreciation of the old-time friendships (Matt. 10:41, 42; Heb. 6:10), and the reciprocation of such grateful loving hearts will be a part of the treasure long laid up in heaven, then to be realized. Nor will the special friendships of those on the spiritual plane, begun and cherished here and now, lose any of their value and sweetness when mortality is swallowed up of life.
Oh, how precious will be tie heavenly treasures when we view them in the light of the new dispensation -- as glorious realities uncorrupted and incorruptible! With what joy shall the faithful begin to realize them when first they hear the Master's welcome, "Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things ; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Then will follow the welcome of all the glorified fellow-members of the anointed Body; and if the jubilant songs of the angels hailed the advent of our Lord in the flesh, can we imagine them to be silent when the anointed "body" is received into glory, their work in the flesh having been finished? Surely not: if "there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth," the glad notes of jubilee will be raised very high when the Church shall have finished her course and entered into her reward. And as the tidings spread to earth, through the established earthly phase of the Kingdom, all creatures in heaven and in earth will be rejoicing together. -- Rev. 5:11-13.
Influence of the Heavenly Treasures
Who indeed can estimate the value of the heavenly .treasures? Their value is past our present powers of reckoning; yet, with an approximate appreciation of them, let us keep our eye upon them and diligently lay up in heaven many of them, assured that there moth and rust can not corrupt, nor thieves break through nor steal. Let our hearts glory in the heavenly treasures, esteeming all things else as of minor importance. If our hearts are set upon the heavenly treasures only, then indeed the disappointment and trials of the present life cannot overwhelm us, though they may cause us pain and sorrow. The heavenly treasures include all that is pure and good and noble and true. Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are worthy of the aspirations of the spiritual sons of God, these are our real treasures; and let our hearts glory in them more and more.
touch lightly the things of this earth,
and let our treasures be laid up in heaven and our hearts dwell there.
In this view of the heavenly treasures we can see what a marked influence such a hope and. ambition must have on the present life. (1) It helps us to realize that the Lord, whose present and final commendation we so earnestly desire, is taking special notice of even the most trivial affairs of our daily life and of our conduct with reference to them, as well as when we pass through the great billows of temptation and trial that seem disposed at times to overwhelm us. (2) It helps us to realize that the future approval of even our present enemies is a treasure worth the seeking. By and by the present opponent may be converted from the error of 'his way, and when he shall look back and call to mind the patient endurance, faithfulness and uniform kindness of the man formerly despised, hated, reviled, and persecuted, the persecuting spirit may turn to mourning and repentance, and the former hatred, to love and admiration. This the Apostle intimates, saying, "Beloved . . . have your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that whereas they speak against you as evil-doers they may by your good works which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." And this love, the reward of righteousness, will be a part of the treasure of the future. Even so we are told the nation of Israel will by and by look upon Him whom they have pierced, ,and they shall mourn because of Him. This blessed satisfaction will be part of the Lord's treasure which; at His First Advent, He laboriously laid up in heaven's keeping. It was the prospect of this treasure that assisted Him to so patiently endure mocking, ignominy, scorn, ingratitude, pain, and death. Under all His sufferings He did not grow discouraged or faint, but confidently looked to the joy of the future set before Him-the joy of a renewed, grateful, and loving race. So also our Heavenly Father has for six thousand years patiently borne with the ingratitude and wickedness of men, sending His rain and sunshine upon the just and the unjust, and it great cost providing for their redemption and restitution which by and by will reveal to Him also the treasure of grateful hearts which shall to all eternity ascribe to Him the praise of their salvation. Similar will be the joy of all the faithful sons of God who likewise now lay up treasures in heaven.
Just as we now look back in loving remembrance upon the worthy character and noble example of a sainted father or a tender mother with a degree of appreciation which childhood could not realize, so will men by and by learn to appreciate every worthy character.; and so every good and noble deed will eventually receive its due reward.
are all earth's gilded toys
sweeter far the wilderness,
path I therefore humbly tread,
"For this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the Spirit." -- 1 Pet. 4:6.
MOST reasonable and logical is the appeal which the Scriptures make to the devout. believer to go forward courageously and zealously in fulfilling the terms of the Christian race-course of faithful devotion and sacrifice even unto death. "That we might have a strong consolation" a strong support for our hope, is the way St. Paul expresses the matter, referring to the unchangeableness of God's Word of promise to those who are walking in the footsteps of Christ.
The inspired Apostle Peter in his first Epistle, chapter 4, verses 1-11, reviews for our edification the great advantage of our position as God's children, and the reasons why we are Christians, and why we should be deeply intent on observing the terms of our solemn agreement with the Lord. If we appreciate our Lord and His work, His love for righteousness, and His sacrifice on our behalf; and if we desire to be truly His disciples, followers in His footsteps; it will mean that we will "arm ourselves with the same mind" that He had -- the same opposition to sin, the same determination to lay down our lives in opposition to it, and in endeavors to assist in delivering, those who are under its control; the inducement being held out that those who suffer with Him shall share also His glory. His Kingdom, His immortality.
Those Who Are Dead Unto Sin
The sum of the Apostle's argument is that as one who is literally dead cannot sin, so the Lord's consecrated ones having entered into an agreement of faithfulness even unto death already consider themselves "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Those who have been made acquainted with the Lord to the extent of yielding their all to Him in full consecration will surely not sin willfully; for to do so would indicate that their wills had changed and that they were no longer living the new life which is controlled by the Holy Spirit or disposition, but had become alive again as the servants of sin. But so long as they remain willingly faithful to their vows of fellowship with Christ in His sufferings, in His opposition to sin -- so long as they remain thus dead to sin and alive as New Creatures, they are regarded as having no sin. As the Apostle John expresses it, "whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him; . . . whosoever is born [begotten] of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him; he cannot sin because he is born [begotten] of 'God." And St. Paul declares, "The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh [desiring to serve it], but after the spirit [endeavoring to do the Lord's will]."
The "time past of our lives," was the time when we were natural men, before we became New Creatures, begotten of the Lord's Spirit. That time past and that past experience of life, sufficeth us, -- we want no more of it, we have found a better life. We would not return to the former condition of natural-mindedness and alienation from God under any consideration. The list of excesses mentioned by the Apostle -- lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelries, carousings and abominable idolatries-were not the same with all of us; and yet there is a certain amount of correspondency in every case. Some of the early Christians were lifted by the Lord's grace out of very deep degradation of mind and body, and some of the Lord's people of today have been similarly lifted from the depths of Satan and sin, while still others, never having been so deeply degraded, were not lifted from such great depths. However, all who have the new mind of full consecration to the Lord can realize a great change from the mind; or disposition which was theirs naturally.
The Peculiar People
Even those born of Christian parents, and who therefore have had special advantages of Christian influence, realize that their natural hearts had more or less affinity for the things of sin, even including idolatries -- idolizing themselves or others or money or fame or influence or what not. A change takes place in all, but the degree of change is necessarily marked by the degree of degradation preceding our consecration. How thankful some of us should be that in the Lord's providence we were born of Christian parents and under Christian influences! How careful all of the Lord's people should be that any children which they have brought into the world, or may yet bring, shall come under the most favorable influences to make them the more amenable to the "reasonable service" of a full consecration of their all to the Lord!
The idolatrous companions of those who once lived in sin doubtless spoke of the latter as hypocrites, when they turned from these things, becoming dead to them and alive toward the Lord and His service. Their disposition would be to attribute such a change to some ignoble motive. It would be beyond their comprehension that any one should voluntarily make such a change, for truly they would say that the course was "unnatural"! Likewise, in our day some who step out of their form -- environs, associations, etc., with their forms of godliness without the power, with their social revelries intoxication with the spirit of this world and of false doctrines (Rev. 17:2), and its idolatries of money, influence, etc., are considered peculiar people, and not infrequently their sanity is questioned. The natural man understandeth not why any should; seek for more than that which would be outwardly respectable and honorable. The world knoweth us not, even as it knew not the Lord. -- Rev. 18:3.
The fifth verse according to our Common Version seems to refer to those who speak evil, and to say that they will be obliged to give an account in the Day of Judgment -- in the Millennial Day, when they will be on trial. This is undoubtedly true. As our Lord declared, every act and word, done in injury of the Lord and His faithful will receive a just recompense of reward -- justly proportionate to the amount of their willfulness in the matter. But there is another way of viewing this verse, equally true, namely by connecting it with the preceding verse, so as to have it read, "Speaking evil of you who shall give an account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead." This last thought seems more fully in accord with the entire testimony of the Word on the subject. It is we, the Church, who are. expecting shortly to give such an account. It is we who are being specially tried and tested during the present time, because to us the light and knowledge and opportunity have come in advance of the world. This is our trial time, and the Lord's judgment or decision with reference to who shall constitute the very elect, and respecting who shall be accounted worthy of joint-heirship with the Lord, is the very decision that is to be rendered.
Judged in the Spirit
The Apostle continues with this thought, saying that it is for this reason (because we who are dead to the world and alive toward God are being called out now, as the Lord's elect class, therefore) the Gospel is preached to us who are (thus) dead, so that while the world judges us as in the flesh, like all other men, the Lord may judge us as in the spirit, begotten to a newness of life. This is in exact accord with what we have already observed. The world discerns not that the New Creatures are any different from other men; hence it wonders at their devotion, calls it folly or hypocrisy; and discerning the imperfections of the flesh may not at all times seem able to see so great a difference between the New Creatures and the world. But God, who knoweth the heart, and who has from the moment of our consecration counted the flesh as dead, and who charges nothing against us as New Creatures, begotten spirit beings, except that which is willfully wrong, is the One with whom we, have to do, and in whose favor and love and promises we rejoice. God is "for us"! None can prevail against us; all things must work together for good to us, because we are His, because He has called us according to His purpose, because we are seeking to walk in His way, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The end of all present things is near. Present institutions, under the supervision of "the prince of this world" (Satan), and controlled largely by his spirit, must soon, according to the Divine promise, give place to the new conditions of God's Kingdom, when the great Redeemer shall take to Himself His great power and reign -- binding Satan and putting down all insubordination s and everything contrary to the righteousness which is of God. We who so believe can look with great equanimity upon the changing conditions of this present time; and the evil-speaking of the world and its antagonism manifested toward us in various ways, because we are New Creatures, walking after the spirit to the extent of our ability, need not alarm us, for greater is He who is on our part than all that be against us. Hence it behooves us to be sober-minded -- to take this reasonable and proper view, which does not overlook the future to see the present, but rather overlooks the present to see the future, held up before us in the Lord's Word. It behooves us also to watch unto. prayer, to remember that we are not of ourselves sufficient for these things, that "our sufficiency is of God."
Have Fervent Love Amongst Yourselves
"Above all things," urges the Apostle, these who are dead to the world, and misunderstood by the world, but alive toward God and accepted through Christ as God's sons (despite all the blemishes of the flesh), these should be fervent in love amongst themselves. Such as realize the true situation, such as are standing for the principles of righteousness and truth and loyalty to the Lord, and enduring hardness as good soldiers, must have a deeply sympathetic love for all others who, like themselves, are battling for the Lord, and for the same principles of right. Whoever has not a fervent (burning) love for his fellows has reason to question to what extent he is one with the Lord and with the Little Flock whose experiences the Apostle is here delineating.
True, there are some of the Lord's accepted ones whom He counts dead as respects the flesh and alive as respects their spirit, their new natures, who are less lovely naturally (in mind and body) than some who are of the world, less fallen naturally: but wherever the true love of the Lord prevails it will indeed cover a multitude of sink, a multitude of blemishes, a multitude of imperfections, in those whom it will recognize as fellow-pilgrims in "the narrow way," "brethren" of the one family of God. This proper love, the love of God, will enable those who possess it to consider one another from the Divine standpoint, not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, the heart, the intention.
Givers Rather Than Receivers
Amongst those who are dead to the world and alive as New Creatures, there should be a special exercise of hospitality, and that without grudging. It should be hearty, and not merely because the Lord commends and commands it. Hospitality indeed, is as the Apostle points out, an element of character which should be cultivated toward all men. We should. "do good unto all men as we have opportunity, but especially to the household of faith." There are some who can recognize this principle of hospitality quite keenly, and who, if hospitality be denied them, will be inclined to berate the brethren for their lack of the proper spirit. Such and all should inquire of themselves to what extent they have ever exercised hospitality and generosity to others; and any one who realizes that he has received more from the brethren than he has given them should feel ashamed, and should seek of the Lord wisdom, that he may know wherein is his weakness, that he has so far come short of the great privileges of the Lord's followers, all of whom are. to be givers rather than receivers -- except under special conditions of distress. But let none of us forget that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." Let each of us seek to enjoy the blessing which comes from a liberal interpretation of this word hospitality.
The Lord's grace and bounty are manifold; they come to us in numberless forms, in things both spiritual and temporal. Some of us may receive a larger number of these favors than others, but in that event the responsibility or stewardship is proportionately increased; and the Apostle urges (verse 10) that we should seek to serve out to others whatever gifts we possess. He who waters others shall himself be watered. This principle applies to everything, both temporal and spiritual.
Should Speak as God's Oracles
Still speaking of this saintly class, dead to the world, and judged by the world as though they were men, but alive toward God, and judged by God as New Creatures, spirit beings merely sojourning in these fleshly bodies, as in a tent, and waiting in this wilderness condition to learn the lessons necessary before entering the land of promise, the heavenly Canaan, by sharing in the First Resurrection, the Apostle proceeds to point out that these, when they speak, should be as "God's oracles," absolutely truthful, wholly reliable. If they serve they should do it with all the ability which they possess, recognizing that the ability is God-given as well as the talent. These exhortations to truth and faithfulness in utterance and service are applicable first of all to believers (the Church) amongst ourselves, but applicable also to all with whom they come in contact. We may be evil reported of and slandered, but all who know us, who have dealings with us, should find from experience our loyalty to principle, our endeavor that the words of our mouths as well as the meditations of our hearts and the conduct of life should be pleasing to the Lord and an honor to His name and cause, that God may be glorified through Christ, to whom belongs the glory and the Kingdom forever. His Church alone, in the present time, recognizes fully and properly the right and dominion of the Lord as the King. These alone have the blessing that comes from this recognition and relationship, but they look forward with joy to the time when His Kingdom shall be established amongst men; when the time shall come for which we are praying, "Thy Kingdom come"; when the knowledge of the Lord shall be made to reach every creature, and when many shall come to know and to love and to obey Him whom now we rejoice to honor as our Redeemer and King.
[The following report
has just been received from one of the brethren who was in attendance at the Convention
recently held in Huddersfield, England.
Truly our blessed Lord and Master is very mindful of the needs of His people, both in temporal and spiritual matters. We read how of old He called the Twelve unto Himself, and sent them forth on their strenuous mission in His name; later on, when the work was done, they all gathered together and told Him of their experiences; then it was that He said, "Come ye apart . . . and rest awhile." This incident not only forms a living picture which quite naturally appeals to all of us, but it is an example we do well to copy, more particularly those who are weary; and who is not in these strenuous days? Did He not say, under other circumstances, "Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
At the four-day Convention lately held in Huddersfield, England, the brethren gathered from considerable distance, and met in sessions varying from thirty to one hundred and sixty. It was a time that was reminiscent of former days, and certainly equaled any previous gathering in the sweet intercourse enjoyed, and in the spiritual refreshment provided.
From the subjects of the addresses which were given it will be seen that Jesus formed the central topic, the uppermost theme upon our minds. The first address had for its title "Consider Him," and this was followed with "Looking unto Jesus." Later on came "We would see Jesus," them "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,'' and "Jesus and His Disciples," and "The Lamb of God," this latter naturally forming the subject for the Memorial. Truly it can be said "We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of Gad in company." Our meditations of Him were sweet, and we were glad in the Lord. The Sunday evening address was upon the topic "The greatest thing in the world" -- Love, the development. of which means to grow more like God, and thus to be prepared for a place in His Kingdom. The closing address very fittingly reminded us of "The race" which is for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus; Chase who receive the same being the Christ of God. Surely such a gathering will find place in the book of remembrance.
Messages and, greetings came from various parts of the country, and from the U. S. A., Holland, and from Australia; all of these were much appreciated, and those in attendance reciprocated with sincerest love to all, with the following Scriptures added: Deut. 31:8; Rom. 8:14-18; Col. 1:9-11; Num. 6:24-26; Rev. 22:20, 21.
A photograph of the platform, with some of the friends included, was taken as a little reminder of one of the happiest conventions it has been our privilege to attend. Two very large charts of the "Divine Plan of the Ages" and ;another of the Pyramid., which hung upon the walls, made us all feel quite at home, and helped to bring back something of the old "atmosphere" so very desirable.
This is an attempt to write the letter that has been on my mind to send you for many months.
It is now a. little over seven months since I withdrew from the local Class of I. B. S. A. and ceased my activities in co-operation with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract. Society, and I feel I owe to, the Master some further expression of my appreciation of His providences on my behalf and especially in connection with the great assistance and inspiration I have received through the instrumentality of the work of the Pastor Bible Institute.
To me the "Herald of Christ's Kingdom" is as a beacon light guiding those who have eyes to see and are glad to follow the "old paths" putlined in the Scriptures and so faithfully brought to our attention by that man of God, Brother Russell.
Perhaps it might be safe to say that had the writer of this letter been more prompt to actin accordance with his convictions, he would have been spared some of the peculiar experiences that the Lord allowed him to pass through. Had I left this latest phase of Babylon as soon as I heard again the words, "Come out of her, my people." I might have enjoyed many more days of Christian liberty and a conscience void of offense as respects my service in behalf of the Truth.
And yet I can truly say that my tardiness was caused by my desire to stay long enough to demonstrate that I was not offended because of loss of leadership (eldership and other privileges of service denied me because I publicly made pleas for Christian broadmindedness, warned against the spirit of intolerance and the Nicolaitanes that seemed to be permeating the activities of many Bible Students and because I read the "Herald" with appreciation!) and because I had fond hopes that, on account of the fact that many at that time (Elders included) were practically in agreement with the views expressed, time would soon demonstrate to the local friends, the Watch Tower office, and Bible Students generally that here in Detroit was a Class of real Bible students who were willing to co-operate in the ministry of the Truth in harmony with all who were willing to be guided by principles of righteousness -- "proving all things and holding fast that which was good.'
But it was a vain hope on my part, for events of the past year or so, and the last six or saver months especially, have shown to what a degree so many can be swerved from the path of conviction on account of the fear of man on the one hand and the "praises of men" on the other hand in conjunction with the possible loss of eldership or the disesteem of the Society and its adherents generally.
The Class even went on record (passed a motion proposed by the brother frown the Society's headquarters) to the effect that hereafter the Class shall disapprove of any expression from the platform suggesting that the spirit of Babylon is in our midst -- even if it seemed so, one must not express the thought.
I might spend much time revealing to what depths of intolerance the Society and its followers are going, but to many of you much of their trend) leas become an old and painful story.
A recent expression in the Golden Age from the pen of the head of the Society to the effect that "no man nor group of men on earth has a right to say that he has or that they have the sole custodianship of God's Word" struck me as being so good an expression that I made bold to write to that brother asking how he harmonized that expression with his personal endorsement (expressed. in a letter he sent to the secretary of the local Class) concerning a "Resolution" anonymously presented to the local board of Elders and approved by the Class, which contained the following question to be asked of Elders -- "Do you unqualifiedly hold that the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society is the only channel or means being: used by the Lord now present by which to direct the work of the Church and to provide additional light upon the Scriptures as it becomes due?"
Additionally I made mention of other matters and asked some questions that seemed necessary. I have kept the entire correspondence as a testimony to the evasiveness that was shown in replying to my letters.
Although I begged for a straight-forward reply, the brother repeatedly avoided the issue. But I knew the reason -- he was ensnared in his own argument -- by his own words he had condemned the very course he persistently pursues in articles in the Tower and towards the friends generally -- and he did not desire to admit it.
Finally I gave up the attempt to get a frank word from him so I concluded my last letter to him with the remark "Evidently you do not intend to answer the questions in my first letter to you, so I will refrain from troubling you further. Your evasiveness, however, is very disheartening to me, but I am comforted by the thought that the dear Lord knows all about it.''
That letter was written Dec. 1, 1926 -- and I have heard nothing from him since. Time will not permit, and perhaps it would not be profitable if it did, to bring to the attention of they friends the many, many exhibitions of intolerance and bigotry that we have witnessed here of late; and as for the many flagrant violations of Scriptural applications in the various articles containing "new light," it would require many pages to present even a few of the errors being unloaded upon the friends. Suffice to say that practically every "new light" is not only a violation of plain Scripture but also a repudiation of the presentations of Brother Russell along those particular lines. The repudiation of "character development" alone seems to be bringing just such a harvest as one might naturally expect.
We rejoice that the Lord has opened our eyes and given us grace to take a stand for truth and righteousness, and it is our desire to continue in harmony with His kindly providences on our behalf.
That the Lard may continue to use your activities in behalf of His people, is our wish for you even as it expresses I am sure the heart desires of the Associated Bible Students with whom we now fellowship in the Lord.
By His favor,
Your brother in the One Hope,
L. S. H -Mich.
VOL. X. June 15, 1927 No. 12
"For 1 am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." -- Rom. 1:16.
THE GREAT Apostle Paul, specially called of God to proclaim the Gospel message far and near, to Jew and to Gentile, and to testify before kings and rulers and the religious leaders of his day, was richly endowed with every essential quality of heart and intellect to fit him for the great responsibilities laid upon him by His Divine Master, a remarkable blending of courage, gentleness and extraordinary ability, and a counterbalancing measure of humility. By birth, and doubtless as a result of ambitions entertained by his parents, he was possessed of a zeal and wholehearted enthusiasm that were quite naturally directed into religious activities; that were displayed in his untiring spirit of devotion to the cause in which he had enlisted. Hence we find him as Saul the zealous persecutor of the early Church, "exceedingly mad" against the spread of the Gospel of Christ, conscientiously exercised in defending the faith of his fathers against the influence of the teachings of Jesus which was spreading every where anti likely to seriously disrupt Judaism if allowed to go on unhindered.
In the light of his life subsequent to his conversion it is not difficult to think of him in his determination to exterminate the Christians as being controlled by a sincere enthusiasm and respect for the Law, and in no sense actuated by a blind unfeeling bigotry that delighted in causing suffering to his religious enemies. Nor was he moved by a desire to exercise any uncharitable or improper judicial powers over others, but wholly because of an intense fervor of soul toward God, to whom he verily thought he rendered service. While it is customary to speak of the conversion of Saul and to think of him as having been far from God, the record of his life seems to show that his experience was not so much a conversion, in the generally accepted sense, as the enlightening of a noble but misinformed mind, which turned its force and determination into a nobler sphere of service. Zeal for God it would continue to be, but henceforth to defend with the same persistent determination, augmented by the Spirit's power, the message he had once sought so desperately to silence.
And surely the Gospel of Christ never had a more devoted champion, a more capable exponent of its unexcelled virtues and powers than this chosen vessel of the Lord. It therefor a seems fitting that he should declare himself in the words of our text. Enjoying as he had previously done, exceptional advantages in the way of education and possibilities for advancement to the highest positions religiously, and having gained publicity through his widespread activities against the followers of Christ, then counting all former gain loss and dross, and espousing the cause of the Gospel, how full of power the testimony, "I am not. ashamed of the Gospel of Christ."
Lifts Up to Life on Higher Ground
Rome's imperial pomp and disdain for the Gospel he proclaimed, no doubt gave the Apostle opportunity, in writing to the Romans, for just such a confession of allegiance to a Gospel so magnificent in contrast with all other messages. Yea, he confidently assumes its superiority over all others and is "ready to preach the Gospel to you that are at Rome also," though it be inseparably associated with a rejected Jesus, and though its emblem be a cross -- representing to the natural and perverted religious mind the weakest and most unattractive message possible. Yet he offers no apology, but confidently proclaims its power to effect miraculous changes wherever received, to the Jew first, dispensationally, but of equal power to reach beyond even to the Greek immersed in his mysticism and superstition, and to give him an inheritance amongst the sanctified in Christ Jesus. This Gospel in contrast with all other teachings demonstrated its pre-eminence by the results that followed its reception and application, giving evidence of a power to elevate the mind and ennoble the life by satisfying the soul's cravings for emancipation from the guilt of sin, and by giving a knowledge of God That makes possible communion and fellowship with Him, and the gradual transformation of character that progresses from grace to grace and glory to glory, until every element of mind and spirit has been changed from earthly to spiritual from human weakness to Divine perfection and celestial glory.
How precious this truth, as it has been witnessed again and again in the lives of the redeemed, as the Gospel of Christ is heard and gratefully accepted and its sanctifying, cleansing power is exerted in the mind of the believer! What miracles of grace have been known where hearts have been opened to the Gospel of God's abounding grace in Christ and closed to all other themes! "Where only Christ is heard to speak, where Jesus reigns alone." How it lifts the mind above the natural tendencies and places the life on that higher ground where the flowers of grace bloom and blossom in the sunshine of His favor, where, if we but fully submit ourselves to its omnipotence, the glory and beauty of life and character surely follow. Earth's rarest gems of beauty, heaven's diadems that adorn the sky cannot compare with the beauty of the life that has been cleansed, sanctified, and transformed by the living, vitalizing force of the Gospel of Christ, "for it is the power of God."
Distinguished From All Other Gospels
It is evident the Apostle would have us note well this point whereby the Gospel of Christ is clearly distinguished from all other gospels claiming our attention or purporting to be His Gospel, for he proceeds to inform us of the inevitable fruitage developed by any departure therefrom. Whether in heathen religions or in perverted Christianity the results are identical, degrading the mind and stupefying the senses, until the true conception of God is lost and the God of heaven portrayed by hideous images of wood and stone or by teachings that caricature Him as being of the most lamentable deformities. They have "changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image [literally or mentally] made like to corruptible man [to suit his corrupt teachings], and changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature [of their own imaginations] more than the Creator."
As with Israel of old, the most wonderful deliverance from the hosts of Pharaoh and the Red Sea may be witnessed, the sweetest bread from heaven may be spread before them by the Lord, the power of God may be displayed in all their extremities, yet a little delay, just long enough to allow the natural depravity to exert itself, and lo, the demand, "Up, make us gods, Which shall go before us." Oh, what inventions have come forth to displace the Gospel of Christ, even amongst those who have been delivered from Egypt's antitype, the world, and from Satan's power, amongst those who have once been happy and satisfied with the Bread that came down from heaven, and who have sung truthfully in former days, "Jesus has satisfied, Jesus is mine"! What perversions of the truth by the innumerable teachings that exalt the imagination of human leaders, distorting the Word of God and thereby creating an image of the incorruptible God -- teachings that blaspheme His worthy name, representing Him as grotesque in the extreme, as a being wise and powerful enough to create mighty worlds and fling them into space governed by laws that assure their eternal equilibrium, establishing the whole universe in a fixity and harmony that baffles imagination, and yet in dealing with His finite creatures He is so often represented as settling their eternal destinies on the most nonsensical theories and idiosyncrasies. Of such messages Paul would be ashamed, since they would be in no sense superior to the degrading messages about him amongst the unenlightened. But he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel that exalted Jesus, and wrote its recommendation into the life and character of the one who received fully of its triumphant grace.
Clearly Defined Vision of Jesus
A further reason for the Apostle's confidence in the message in which he gloried, was that it was the Word of God, and not an invention of his own or of any other; it was therefore a message of supreme authority worthy of all acceptation. This is one of the very marked characteristics of Paul's Epistles, he faithfully adheres to the purpose for which he had dedicated his life, "To know nothing amongst men save Jesus Christ and Him crucified," to preach only the Gospel he had received. Only once or twice does he depart from this fixed determination, to express his own thoughts on some minor matters in connection with which he had received no instruction from the Lord, and in humility he desires the brethren to know that the advice given may be measured only by the degree of their confidence in his judgment.
What a beautiful example of this fidelity to the only authority worthy of acceptance, God's Word, is found in his First Epistle to the Corinthians (15 :1-4): "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I have preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:" And again in 1 Thess. 2:13 (Diaglott): "And on this account also; we give thanks to God unceasingly, because receiving from us this Divine message, you embraced not men's word, but as it is truly, God's Word, and which works powerfully in you, the believers." Numerous other citations might be added, testifying to this determination to keep the message pure from all human reasonings and speculations and to faithfully declare the Word of the Lord alone.
The more we ponder over the deep significance of what the Apostle had previously told of his "coming into the truth" and particularly his remark, "last of all He was seen of me," we seem to discover the real secret of the power and effectiveness of Paul's ministry. A clearly defined vision of Jesus, His pre-eminence in all the Father's plans; past, present, and future, in which to Him had been committed the work of redemption and deliverance in all its details, and the privilege of His followers with the power and invigoration produced by the to fully embrace Him, to personally appropriate Him, feed upon, and reveal Him to others, became the one absorbing theme of the Apostle's time and talent.
Hence we find in St. Paul a soul so in tune with this Divine arrangement as that his spirit was beautifully akin to than of Jesus whom he desired to make known to the Church. As Jesus had displayed -- His purpose to be to reveal the Father, saying only those things He had heard of the Father, and doing only those things He had seen the Father do, doing nothing of Himself, but simply imparting the Father's Word to His beloved disciples and then praying that the Word might produce in them all the gracious purposes of God, cleansing them and fitting them for an eternal inheritance in association with the Father and Himself when He would come again to receive them unto Himself, so Paul ever followed Christ, of whose message and example he was not ashamed.
"Last of All He Was Seen of Me"
How truly he could say, I do nothing of myself, the message I bear to you is what I have heard from Him, the works that engage my time and attention are the works I have seen Him do. I find no necessity to supplement His message by inventions of my own, and thereby nullify the power to touch the deepest needs of the individual heart and produce the likeness of Christ in the character. Neither do I find occasion to amend or rescind His instructions regarding my activities in His service, attempting innovations for which He gave no authority, but which would only detract from the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus. Yea, his was a burning zeal to know and see Jesus only, to plant the seeds of the Gospel of Christ in receptive hearts and then display a mother's yearning anxiety that the word received might work effectually in them until Christ had been formed in their characters.
Oh that all who would be recognized as teachers in the Church today were possessed of such a spirit of unadulterated devotion to His name and message, with motives as pure and free from personal ambitions of a carnal nature, with only His Word as their message, with hearts so in accord with Him as to be occupied only with such works and words as had been seen and heard of Him! How the conclusion seems forced upon us that there have been many leaders in the Church during the days that are past, and many today why could not say with Paul, "Last of all He was seen of me" since there has been so much exaltation of self, or associations, or activities as to crowd out the deeper spiritual vision and oneness in Christ -- a condition which accounts for the barrenness and leanness of soul confessed by many today. Let the Word spoken be presented in all the smoothness, learning, and charm possible to human tongue and add to it the symphony of angelic strains and it will be as ineffective as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, with a momentary appeal perhaps to the mental, but incapable of .reaching the heart's deepest needs with the power and invigoration produced by the Gospel of Christ though it be proclaimed by stammering tongue and apparently hindered by "many infirmities."
Sad Departures in Our Day
Therefore the Gospel of Christ is distinguished by the adherence to what "is written," thus drawing a clear cut line of demarcation between the Gospel of Christ and much that purports to be His Gospel today. What a wholesale rejection of present day teaching would follow a faithful application of this rule! How many fanciful speculations built upon the wresting of Scripture, how many theories representing inordinate pride would crumble to earth, what a discarding there would be of "endless genealogies and strife about words," if only His Gospel were preached and all were intent on pointing to, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, and obedient to the voice from heaven declaring the sublime standard, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him." And to this we add the words of Paul (Heb. 1:1, 2), "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, bath in these last days spoken unto us [the Church by His Son." Who need experience any difficulty in discerning that our day has witnessed an alarming departure from the Gospel "which began to be spoken by our Lord and afterwards confirmed unto us by them that heard Him."
The Gospel of Christ possesses other admirable features that enhance its beauty and serve to distinguish it by way of contrast from all other messages. It is a Gospel that lays special stress upon the fact of God's benevolent condescension in recognizing us at all, reminding us as it does of our utter unworthiness of any of His favors since none are righteous, no not one, all under condemnation and enemies through wicked works. While we were in this helpless, undone condition, even then God's love began to operate on our behalf, making provision for our cleansing and adoption. Thus "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Yea, it was His love that was manifested first, as St. Paul here assures us. It was our deplorable condition that drew upon His mercy, for it was then that "He loved us and washed us." Yea, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Our thought could more easily comprehend how He might lead us to the place where we could be washed and then loved, but here as ever is displayed that love "that passeth knowledge," the condescending love of God through Christ.
The Glory of God's Redeeming Grace
To Paul this marvelous display of abounding grace toward himself and a sinner race, constituted a theme so absorbing and sublime that all other interests in life were abandoned in order to give himself entirely over to it. What mattered now his learning at the feet of Gamaliel as a matter of pride, or any and all of his educational advantages in comparison with his knowledge of Christ-loss and dross and refuse, forever abandoned, and every power possessed unreservedly concentrated on the object of knowing Him more and more. How his words impart a thrill of holy joy to our own hearts as we find them beating in unison with his as he revels in his joy of having been found or laid hold of by Him, and privileged to gaze upon the unseen marvels of the glory of God's redeeming grace -- to penetrate by faith beyond the veil and visualize the unsearchable riches hidden in Christ, reserved in heaven for those who abide in Him! Can we not see him enraptured by these contemplations and bursting into those notes of triumphant ecstasy experienced when present limitations stand so utterly in the way of a full expression of "the joy unspeakable and full of glory" that are called forth by a true appreciation of the precious "old, old story of Jesus and His love." O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." -- Rom 11 :33, 36.
This the only Gospel he knew was the good news of God's willingness to receive all that came unto Him through Christ, and to draw such. How manifest it is that the effort was to reveal Christ as the special exhibition of God's grace, presenting Him as dying for us, bearing in His own body the penalty deserved, by us, suffering what we deserved, that we might enjoy what He deserved, taking our place in death that we might share His place in life, coming down to move amongst the earthly humiliations that we might ascend to the heights of spiritual exaltation. "Grace abounding." And if by reason of having been found in even greater than ordinary degradation "grace did much more abound" -- a Gospel equal to every emergency, exalting the love, wisdom, and power of God through Christ and eliciting the grateful acknowledgment of unmerited grace from the faithful heart. All this represented power and invigoration to him such as could never emanate from human theories, science falsely. so-called, or from the most cunningly devised manipulations of the Word of God deceitfully handled. How well he understood the grander results of a proper appreciation of the true Gospel, leading first to repentance and subsequently to grateful consecration when it is clearly seen that the necessity of Christ's death for us meant that we were all dead, therefore to enjoy life now as a result of His death for us could mean only one thing-that we should now live unto Him, yea that we should pledge ourselves forever His, bond slaves of Jesus Christ, bought and paid for in His own blood, hence to sing
grace how great a debtor
A Most Enchanting Story
Thus the Gospel of Christ magnifies the goodness of God and His condescending grace and never produces that attitude of mind so often manifest which would imply that we were doing Him an honor by accepting His favors, or which would convey the impression of our own importance either as His representatives or as necessary to the carrying forward of His purposes, but ever remembers that even after having done all we are still unprofitable servants.
The Gospel of Christ that St. Paul rejoiced to proclaim was further characterized by its simplicity, differing therein from almost all other forms of worship or conceptions of God and heathen religions. This beautiful simplicity anticipating in its provisions the deepest needs of the human heart is dispensed to us by the Holy Spirit's illuminating influence in plain, understandable language, in terms that are comprehensible to the learned and unlearned alike, setting forth as suggested above, man's hopeless state aside from Divine love. It announces the stupendous fact of ample provision for all through Christ even to the uttermost; and as pertaining to the present Age the proclamation of a message specially designed to gather out the Church of Christ from amongst mankind. These as the Divine Plan shows are to be associated with Him in eternal glory, as His kings and priests in the great work of delivering the groaning creation from bondage into the glorious liberty of the children of God-a most enchanting story of sinner, Savior, grace and glory, all entwined -- in beautiful harmony with the wondrous attributes of the character of God, constituting a theme of absorbing interest to angels and generations of holy men of God. And all this, which in its perspective comprehends that which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive," is designated by Paul "The simplicity that is in Christ Jesus." Who that loves the Lord and glories in His grace cannot see and appreciate this simplicity and rejoice in its power?
Vain Philosophies and Human Reasonings
When will the Church learn this much needed lesson and forever cease their efforts to complicate the message of His grace by false reasonings of their own that obscure the vision of Jesus so much needed today? Had St. Paul labored in long technical terms, and attempted endless ramifications, had he devoted considerable time to proposing and discussing hair-splitting arguments, and written volumes of speculative matter pertaining to events future, endeavoring to anticipate prophetic fulfillments, perhaps his message might have had à greater appeal to many in the past, as we see it today. just as the facts of Church history demonstrate that the majority have never been content with the guarded simplicity of his message, but have always preferred to busy themselves with and entangle themselves by a network of vain philosophies and human reasonings, injurious and destructive of real spiritual enlightenment, so we see it now, though he confidently affirms "I have not shunned to declare unto you the .whole counsel of God," and would go so far as to pronounce condemnation upon an angel from heaven bearing any other message contrary thereto, departing from the simplicity and certainty of the faith he preached. Yet how barren his epistles are to many, how little opportunity there is to invent dazzling doctrines and introduce pseudo activities on the basis of his simple Gospel. Hence we find his messages largely disregarded and the ambitious searchers for "another Gospel" find a more fruitful field in the various narratives and incidents, etc., found elsewhere, all of which of course should and will be found in harmony with his message when properly expounded and applied.
Though schooled no doubt in the methods of the Pharisees,. who even in his own day were noted for their eagerness to find some new meaning to the Law and add additional burdens to those already placed an the people's backs, he saw no place in the Gospel of Christ for such studied effort to forge chains to hold the Church together. It gave no authority to involve the Church in warfare over intricate, ambiguous or questionable teachings. Away with such things, away with the carnal aspirations of false teachers for control of the house of God. In holy dignity let us refuse "to know anything amongst men save Jesus Christ and Him crucified," and His blood the union of saints. Let us rest from our own works as God did from His, by leaving it with the One able and willing to save, who is able. to do abundantly more than we are able to think, and let us triumph in that full assurance that can say, "I know Him whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him."
The Gospel and the Present Age
The Gospel of Christ as preached by St. Paul was one of reconciliation and unity, having as its ultimate object the unity of all things in heaven and earth, declaring this to be the great purpose of the reign of Christ over the earth during His Kingdom rulership of one thousand years. This glorious consummation was to be the logical result of His sacrificial death on behalf of all mankind and was to constitute the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise, which as St. Paul assures us constituted the kernel of the Gospel Message. -- Gal. 3:8.
But long before this great work is undertaken the Gospel has been preached throughout the world to bring together in a blessed bond of unity and fellowship a Little Flock composed of Jew and Gentile, out of every nation and kindred and tongue, uniting these together in "One faith, one Lord, one baptism, one God and Father," where neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, where there is no such distinction recognized as bond or free, Jew or Gentile, male or female, but all are one in Christ Jesus, having one spirit, constituting one Body, and rejoicing together in one blessed hope and held together by the one spiritual unity in the bonds of peace.
In the closing days of our Lord's earthly life, as a fitting conclusive feature of His ministry, we find the special messages which are supplied by the Apostle John, messages particularly intended to encourage and strengthen His immediate brethren, but likewise to assist all who should believe on Him through their words throughout the Age. Amongst these consoling, comforting assurances we have His legacy of peace, "My peace" bequeathed to the Church, with the promise that the. enjoyment of this peace would effect a marked distinction between His followers and the world outside. How appropriate then to find that the Holy Spirit operating upon the minds of the Apostles subsequently should give so much attention to encouraging the cultivation and exercise of the spirit of peace in the Church. Surely Jesus intended this legacy to be a real factor in the experience of His people. Who can doubt the fervent desire of His heart that all His own might know in an experimental way what the possession of His peace really meant. He had foretold the purpose for which the Holy Spirit would come to them -- "He shall take of Mine and reveal them unto you," and it became a part of His Gospel to expound the principles and announce the conditions upon which this peace might be enjoyed. Hence we find Paul faithfully entreating the brethren to value this legacy and to so conform themselves to its requirements that the peace of God may abound in their hearts and characterize their gatherings in His name.
The Gospel's Sanctifying Power
To this end the Apostle counseled them to strive for the unity of the faith, reminding them that Christ was not divided, that however much they might value the ministry of Peter or Apollos or himself and differ in their opinions as to whose ministry had been specially helpful to them, they must steadfastly resist the natural carnal tendency to disrupt the unity by factional quarrels. Furthermore, how earnestly he labored night and day and wept his tears in prison cells as he dictated his fervent appeals to the brethren everywhere to remember the one, only, basis of fellowship in Christ, the one foundation that constitutes the union of saints -- the blood of Christ -- urging them to cultivate that largeness of heart that radiates love in its grandest and most magnificent beauty, displaying that rarest gem so difficult to find amongst the multitudes who name His name, a character resplendent with the spirit of Christ, which is the spirit of liberty. Had Jesus not said "Peace" -- "not as the world giveth"? and yet to His sorrow there seemed more inclination amongst many of the brethren to be lightly concerned about that great essential truth and all-sufficient foundation -- the blood -- to hold it theoretically, but in conduct and practice to disregard it, and; though professing separation from the world to be perpetually occupied with disputes respecting meats and drinks and holy days, or engaged in strife over leaders and a multitude of other matters that should long since have been properly adjusted. Had they made proper use of the time they had been in the Truth? Now the evidence against them was boldly displayed in their own characters; that whereas they should have been epistles known and read of all men, spelling out the distinctive qualities of Christ to all without, they were exhibitors of carnality, strangers to the unity of the faith, and knowing nothing of the bonds of peace that unite in a holy, sacred affinity the sanctified in Christ Jesus.
St. Paul's Tears of Joy and Sadness
O, how the Apostle bore the burden of the Church's peace and tranquillity upon his heart as he languished in dungeon dampness, or spent the days in weary toil, making tents that he might continue spending and being spent in the service of the Church he loved so intensely, until he had been literally poured out as an offering on the sacrificial altar of devotion to them! And how sympathetically we may enter into his disappointments and anxieties as again and again he is reminded of the immaturity, carnality and contentiousness of so many for whom he would willingly die, as we see those burning tears of affection blinding his afflicted eyes as he laboriously pens his fervent entreaties to these bickering, factional brethren! Our tears must flow in unison with his and for the same reason that today as in his day the unity of the faith is so often marred or disrupted by the same things.
But there were bright and happy experiences mingled with St. Paul's frequent .disappointments, oases in the way, where the seeds of truth had fallen and germinated, producing the luxuriant greenness that shone out in pleasing contrast to all the barrenness around, where the Gospel of Christ had been permitted to exercise its grace and power and make manifest its sanctifying, ennobling, maturing effects. If in writing to the Corinthians he must reprove and lament and deplore much of what he found there, not so in writing to the Thessalonian brethren. To these dear brethren he could write with the strains of our text as a sweet melody in his heart, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." He could point to these faithful brethren who had always been loyal, responsive, and reciprocative as a living testimony of the Gospel's fruitage. We may again share with him his joy as he remembers the operations of grace in his own life, of all that "seeing Jesus" had meant to him personally, and of his energetic enthusiasm to make Him known to others; and we can enter into his joy as he writes these precious sentiments of commendation and love, "And you followed the pattern set you by us and by the Master, after you had received the message amid severe persecution, and yet with the joy which the Holy Spirit gives, so that you became a pattern to all the believers throughout Macedonia and Greece. For it was not only from you that the Master's message sounded forth through Macedonia and Greece; but everywhere your faith in God has become known so that it is unnecessary for us to say anything about it." (1 Thess. 1:6-8, Weymouth.) "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father." (Verse 3.) "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy. (1 Thess. 2:19, 20.) "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure." -2 Thess. 1:3, 4.
Some Who Show the Gospel's Transforming Power
How evident it is that these brethren had received the truth into good and honest hearts and faithfully applied it to their conduct. What a testimony they bore amongst others far and near of the power of the Gospel to transform character and produce even here below an atmosphere of devotion and unity akin to that beyond the veil. Beloved, let us follow their example with greater earnestness than ever before. "Let us examine ourselves and see whether we be in the faith," not so much by our knowledge of details and the letter of the truth, but by the rigid rule of accomplished results as found in us today. Proficient we may be in elucidating doctrine, and studiously careful to "tithe the mint and rue," or, as applied to our day, quick to detect- mistakes in terms and generalities, but meantime leaving undone the more important things comprehended in the spirit of the truth. Could the same great Apostle write to us today as to the brethren of Corinth, babes in Christ, carnal partisans, contentious quibblers over words, dates, methods, etc., etc., or could he address us in the same endearing terms and with the same joy as he wrote his heart's outpourings to his beloved brethren of Thessalonica? Could he inspect us individually or as little groups of believers and seeing our actions, hearing our words, and observing our attitude one toward another, sit down and write again the word of our text, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation." "Blest be the tie that binds" the bond of a common need of such a Savior, the tie, the love wherewith He loved us and accepted us and united us in that wonderful Body where the relationship is so real that when one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; where the stronger are ever alert to assist the weaker; where the hand and foot waste no time in disputing their respective positions in the Body; where every single part supplies its quota of energy to the whole; where the greatest liberty of thought consistent with faith in the great sacrifice for sins may be enjoyed, and yet serve as an unbreakable bond of fellowship, sweeter far than any human friendship, that reaches out and enfolds in its arms of faith and love all who love our Lord Jesus Christ and rejoice in His redeeming grace.
WE HAVE pleasure in reporting another annual meeting of the Pastoral Bible Institute. This meeting was similar in character to thaw of previous years and proved to be an occasion for the friends to rejoice together and give thanks to the Lord for His manifold blessings and providential care whereby another year has been spent in His service in a manner in which the interests of the Truth have been advanced and the name of the Lord honored.
As is usually the case, the majority of the members taking part in the election this year were represented by proxy on account of living at a distance and being scattered over a wide range of territory. However, the attendance of about fifty friends seemed a pleasing representation considering all the circumstances. The meeting was a peaceful and quiet one and the general order and spirit that prevailed was truly commendable; to the Lord we render the praise.
In line with the usual custom, the brethren who have had the responsibility of this ministry rendered reports of the Institute's activities during the past year. These were listened to with pleasing interest as also with appreciation, and on motion were unanimously approved. In rendering up their stewardship the directors whose term of office expired expressed appreciation of the privileges of this service. They acknowledged that their efforts and service had been very imperfect and were far from being all that they could have desired; nevertheless, the hope was expressed that what had been accomplished was acceptable to the Lord through the great Redeemer's sacrifice. Following the rendering of reports opportunity was given for discussion and the consideration of any helpful, constructive criticism. The business next in order was that of the election of directors to serve for the ensuing year. As a result of the balloting the brethren who had been serving as directors and whose names appeared in the May 15th issue of the "Herald" were reelected by practically unanimous vote.
The re-elected brethren were entirely willing for their services in this direction to terminate altogether and to commit the responsibility to others, if that were the Lord's will and the wish of the friends. They now earnestly solicit the prayers of the friends in all parts, that during the year just ahead they may endeavor to handle the holy things in meekness and humility, in reverence and godly fear, that the Lord may be pleased and His people blessed.
The convention exercises that had commenced in the morning of Saturday, June 4, were continued in the evening with songs of praise and two very helpful discourses. These spiritual exercises were continued throughout all day Sunday-discourses, testimonies, psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, giving real encouragement and refreshment of spirit we believe to the brethren assembled. The Master Himself was present and bestowed the promised blessing upon those whose hearts and thoughts were engaged in the contemplation of holy things.
REPORT OF THE BOSTON CONVENTION
The three days of convention in Boston, May 28-30, were days of peaceful, blessed, and undisturbed fellowship in the Lord, during which the brethren thus gathered realized the stimulating and uplifting influence of the presence of the Lord and His Holy Spirit. Such results of course were especially sought and were the inspiring motive in coming together. The loving consideration on the part of the brethren in Boston in warmly welcoming the brethren and making all comfortable was indeed appreciated.
Again the general fellowship, discourses, and testimonies of the friends made manifest the fact that all seemed to realize increasingly the necessity for great watchfulness, sobriety, purity of heart, and full consecration to God do order to be accounted worthy to stand the severe tests of this evil day.
MORE CONVENTIONS AHEAD
We have received communications from brethren in three other sections of the country who advise of their plans and arrangements for conventions within the next few months. We rejoice to see the convention spirit on the increase and to note that brethren in Christ are more and more inclined to draw together in these days for mutual upbuilding in the things of the Spirit and that concern the Church's spiritual interests. From the friends in Florida, comes the word that a convention is planned for Orlando, Florida, for two days, Sunday and Monday, July 3 and 4. This seems to be a central point for that section and it is hoped that there may be a goodly number of the brethren assembled at that time. The friends are asked to communicate with Brother H. S. Brooks, P. 0. Box 1765, Orlando, Fla., concerning all matters relative to securing accommodations, meeting place, etc.
The Class of Associated Bible Students at Port Huron, Mich., advise us of their arrangement for a three-day convention to be held on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, July 2, 3 and 4. The assembly of the friends will be at what is known as Wahdam, six miles west of Port Huron, on the super Highway (Lapeer Ave.), at the home of Brother and Sister George Goodwin. We are advised that there is very good camping ground in that vicinity and that accommodations can be secured at low rates. The friends are asked to bring their hymn books. Communications, inquiries, etc., should be addressed to the Secretary, Brother George Goodwin, R. F. D. 1, Box 123, Port Huron, Mich.
At Belleville, Ont., Canada, the brethren are arranging for a convention to be held on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Sept. 3, 4 and 5. This should prove to be a good location for the Canadian friends especially; also the season would seem to be in every way a favorable one. Further particulars will be supplied later concerning this convention; but meantime any one desiring to make inquiry may address the Class Secretary, Mrs. J. T. Delaney, 25 Yeoman Street, Belleville, Ont., Canada.
We are sure that a warm welcome will be extended by the friends in each of these places where the conventions are to be held and there will be brethren of ability to serve on the programs in a way that will minister comfort and refreshment of spirit to all. May the Lord add His rich blessing to all of these earnest endeavors on the part of the Lord's people to strengthen and build up one another in the things that relate to their inward and spiritual life and relationship with God.
iN THE Lord's providence another occasion has come to us in which to review together the various results and items of progress of another year's association in what we believe is the Master's service. Experience teaches that it is profitable and to our mutual encouragement that we have such a review. The Lord has graciously promised His blessing in connection with all faithful efforts to exalt His name and to bear the message of the Truth here and there throughout the earth to such as have the hearing ear. As the years roll by we cannot but be deeply interested. in noting wherein the Lord is remembering His promise to His people and bestowing the blessings of His grace and His smile of approval. By such careful review of circumstances and results we may frequently ascertain also what branch of the service or feature of the work seems most fruitful in spiritual blessings in behalf of the children of the Lord. It is the fruit of the Divine blessing, the fruit of the Spirit, that we as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ specially seek.
Consequently, as the years speed swiftly on and as we realize from the Word of God and the signs about us that the Kingdom of God draweth nigh, we are ever confronted with the solemn question -- Are we ready for that promised glorious assembling together when we shall meet one another in the new life and behold our Savior face to face! Have we the fruits .of the Spirit well ripened in our characters, and is the Holy Spirit grandly shed abroad in our hearts? All Christians of experience well know that the greater our trust in the Lord and the more zealous and devoted we are to His Cause, the more rapid will be our progress in the race for the heavenly prize set before us. Truly since by God's grace we are given to discern with clearer vision the goal of glory, honor, and immortality, in association with our Redeemer in the glorious work of His Messianic Kingdom of a thousand years, we may earnestly ask, What manner of persons ought we to be in "all holy living and godliness" while awaiting that blessed consummation!
In the reports of this ministry that are rendered from year to year there is of course a similarity, inasmuch as the character of the ministry of the Church remains unchanged; the Gospel story is the same; spiritual truth remains the same; the work of imparting spiritual truth and of encouraging character development continues as in previous times; hence in presenting this report we are reviewing matters much in the same light and way that we have done in the past, realizing after all that our principal encouragement will be realized in the direction of a careful and prayerful observation of the Lord's leading throughout the past year, of His providential care, of His sustaining grace that has enabled His children to press on and to hold fast to the truth.
Still in the Land of the Enemy
Each year brings its peculiar circumstances, conditions, and experiences to the Lord's people. Yet in no year are they without certain reverses, trials, and testings. However, we believe we can truly testify with regard to the past year that there has been a very real sense of the Lord's assisting grace and keeping power. As the Scriptures have truly forewarned, we have found that the Evil One is ever on the alert to interrupt and hinder those who would be true ambassadors and shining lights for the Lord. And the Apostle assures us that we are not ignorant of his devices. "The darkness hateth the light," said our Savior, and truly as we reflect upon the pages of history, it is to be observed that every person that has really represented the Lord and His Cause has been the target of the Adversary and has been bitterly assailed by him. But while both Scripture and history reveal that Satan has vigorously opposed the Plan of God through all the ages, especially as it has had to do with developing the Christ, the Seed of Abraham, yet it is to be observed also that in no sense and to no degree has the purpose of God suffered any ,defeat whatever, nor have any of His faithful, trusting children been forsaken by Him. To the contrary, they have realized the overruling of Divine providence and the Lord's personal care over their lives and ministry so that they have not suffered any injury spiritually. The various experiences of disappointment and sore trial through which the faithful are called to pass are in no sense of the word grounds for discouragement; rather they are causes for fresh rejoicings inasmuch as those who are Christ's followers indeed desire His will done and not their own and because such experiences are evidences that His people are not fighting their own battles merely, but the Lord's; and thus added assurance is given that He will continue to guide the faithful of His ministry to the glorious victory foretold by all the holy Prophets.
Sanctification Through the Truth
The brethren are generally familiar with the various forms of service in which the Institute is engaged today; we are earnestly endeavoring to follow the Apostolic example. It was the Savior Himself who originally authorized His disciples to go and teach and to make announcement of the world's Redeemer and to declare His saving power in behalf of all those who come to Him. The Master declared that subsequent to His departure the Holy Spirit would be shed forth for the purpose of enlightening and instructing the Church with regard to the inward work of grace in the heart. So as disciples of the same Divine Master today, we are fulfilling the Divine commission in announcing and presenting in as clear form as possible that spiritual truth that our Lord said contained sanctifying power "- "Sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy Word is truth." In the primitive Church, the spoken word was the principal means of proclaiming the truth. Now in addition to that form of ministry God's people can make use of the printed page, which affords a very wide field of activity and ministry of the Gospel. By this means those who are isolated and live in remote districts can have the Divine Message proclaimed to them and have the Truth brought to their door through the mails, and thus have the advantage of Christian fellowship and have touch with other Christians even though they can seldom meet with other brethren face to face.
The Ministry and Work of Grace
Along this line the Lord's blessing has richly attended the semi-monthly visits of "The Herald of Christ's Kingdom" to the friends far and near throughout the past year. Many encouraging and comforting messages are received, expressing the deepest appreciation of the uplifting and sanctifying truths that are contained in the journal. For the benefit and encouragement of others and at their request some of the letters received are published in the columns of the "Herald." Thus we are assured that the Scriptural views and expositions presented in the journal have the effect of stirring up the pure minds of the friends by way of remembrance and thus assisting to stimulate their faith, hope, and courage.
The brethren having charge of this ministry freely acknowledge the assisting grace and guidance of the Lord and recognize that only, as the Spirit of the Lord is earnestly sought and his help received can there be anything brought forth that would be of spiritual comfort. It is well recognized that there is room for improvement in one way or another and that there are others who might render this service just as efficiently or more so.
The constant endeavor in connection with this service is to follow the general spirit and counsel of the Bible, which has been that of progress in all ages, for truth is ever progressive, shining more and more unto the perfect day. Consequently, it stands all the Lord's people in hand in these days to hearken to the Divine admonition to "grow in grace" and to "grow up into Christ" and thus preserve the disposition of advancement and progress in the school of Christ, endeavoring to see more clearly the truth as it relates to one or another of the features of the Divine Plan and thereby further the work of grace in the heart and the sanctification of the spirit. On the other hand, it is of signal importance that children of God shall be intensely vigilant and on guard against falling into various traps of error that are set by the Adversary, who frequently presents a mixture of truth and error for the purpose of deceiving and leading astray from the great essentials of the Christian life. Hence the devout follower of Christ is admonished to prove all things by the infallible Word of God; to earnestly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit whereby he may be enabled to discern between that which is truth and that which is error.
Liberty Still Our Heritage
Not only so, but the Word of the Lord has counseled the Lord's people as individuals to claim and exercise the right of individual study and judgment in the search for and acceptance of the Truth. As the Church of Christ is addressed as individual persons, it is most obvious that it was never the Divine intention to establish over the Church a special hierarchy in the form of either one man or a company of men, neither any kind of a system or organization to dominate and rule the Church. The liberty that was accorded the early Church of individual study and freedom of thought and decision with regard to the Truth, is just as fully the heritage of disciples of Christ today as it was in the beginning of the Age. We have been much encouraged in these days in various messages received from the friends, giving assurance that they have been richly blessed of the Lord in being helped out of bondage into the liberty wherewith Christ makes free. In fact the past year has been a time during which many of the Lord's people have become disentangled from certain gross errors and misinterpretations. Special issues of the "Herald," dealing with the most prominent questions of the hour have had quite a circulation and have been the means of assisting a goodly number to see the way of the Lord more clearly. Indeed, it seems that it is very much a matter in these days of the Lord's people being engaged as wise virgins in trimming their lamps, that they may shine more brightly on their pathway as they are now journeying or going out to meet the Bridegroom.
Let Us Consider One Another
It has been further encouraging to observe how many of the friends have been acting upon the suggestion that has been offered from time to time, namely that of distributing sample copies of the "Herald" amongst other friends who are in special need of help; or by sending us lists of addresses of friends who may be assisted by some particular article in the journal dealing with one or more of the points of difficulty or problems that have been the cause of distress and perplexity. We cannot but urge that this form of the ministry be continued amongst the friends everywhere and thus a helping hand be extended to those who are in need of a word of encouragement with regard to the mind and will of the Lord.
As has been frequently stated, all who desire the visits of the "Herald" may have them regardless of their ability to pay the subscription price. The Lord has been very gracious in supplying the need whereby those who cannot afford the price may still have the visits of the journal. Indeed it is through the lowing generosity of some of the friends that we have been enabled to maintain the subscription price at $1.00 -- the actual cost of the production of the paper being more than twice that amount. We would again state in this connection that those who do not wish to ask for the journal free, may if they prefer, ask for it on credit and if never able to pay for it may so inform us and the debt will be cancelled; the one thought we have is that all lovers of truth should have the advantage of the regular visits of this journal.
Fellowship Through the Mail
Great indeed is the 'blessing and comfort that the Lord's people today may realize by fellowship through the mails. Our fellowship with the friends in various parts of the world by correspondence is truly a source of encouragement and is an important means of becoming acquainted with the general state of the brethren spiritually. A considerable number of the brethren have been availing themselves of this privilege of fellowship. Some there are who write freely of their experiences, trials, and reverses; others tell of their difficulties along the line of their study of one doctrine or another, expressing the desire to have a clearer grasp of the Truth. It is regarded as truly a privilege and a genuine pleasure to have these various messages from fellow brethren who are struggling in life's pathway; and it is counted as a sacred privilege, too, of assisting other weary and way-worn travelers who often specially encourage us with the word of assurance that our prayers and feeble efforts have been availing. Others tell of how they are rejoicing in the good way, in the Lord's daily leading and providential care, and are increasingly hopeful of reaching the end of the Narrow Way in blessed triumph, when they hope to meet all the faithful beyond the valley of shadows. It is our hope that we may continue to hear from the friends in various parts and that the fellowship in this way may be mutually edifying. We may not answer letters in detail as fully as we would like, owing to the demand of other features of the work. We would ask the friends to consider in a general way the messages in the "Herald" as in the nature of replies to their letters, which are frequently laden with rich perfume of Christian love, sympathy, and deep appreciation of the Truth. Number of letters received 4,006. Number of letters sent out 4,510.
Confirming the Souls of the Saints
The Pilgrim branch of this ministry has been very fruitful during the year. Two brethren have spent considerable time journeying from city to city and ministering to the Classes in spiritual things. Still a third brother has devoted several weeks to the same service. These services are greatly valued and appreciated by the friends, as is attested by many encouraging testimonies giving assurance of much spiritual refreshment and strengthening of faith as a result of the helpful ministry. This Pilgrim ministry has embraced the principal portions of the United States and Canada, including two tours to the Pacific Coast. In addition to this regular Pilgrim ministry several other brethren, about 12 in number, whose circumstances do not permit their devoting all their time to this service have been serving more or less locally to good advantage on Sundays, going to points within a radius of between two and three hundred miles.
This form of Christian service by brethren visiting various companies of the Lord's people throughout the land has been most effective and specially timely during the past year, for the reason that it has been a time' when a considerable number of the friends have awakened to a realization of the state of bondage and error into which they have been misled. In some sections entirely new Classes have been formed. The very helpful explanations, Scriptural lessons and admonitions of the Pilgrim brother were such as to strengthen these friends in the stand they have taken and in discerning the Lord's providence and will under the trying circumstances. As some have truly noted, these days and conditions are remarkably similar to those of the early Church. Now, as then, it becomes a matter of the Lord's people assembling in little groups here and there for mutual helpfulness and comfort in the Christian life. And as at the present time, so it was in the Apostolic period, these little gatherings of faithful brethren under the Lord's providence were visited by elder brethren of ability. Thus we read of the great Apostle Paul and Barnabas, how they journeyed from place to place "confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God."
Conferences on Holy Things
The convention spirit has surely been on the increase during the past year, and this we cannot but regard as a most favorable indication. Altogether we have had the privilege of co-operating in as many as eight such spiritual gatherings. Notices of these and reports concerning them have appeared in the columns of our journal from time to time. From what many have written to us concerning the great encouragement and spiritual uplift received, we are sure that these conferences of the brethren are most profitable and refreshing seasons of fellowship in holy things and in the Lord. These assemblings in convention on the part of brethren in Christ are fully in keeping with the spirit and general admonitions of the Scriptures. The forecast of the Prophet was that they that reverenced the Lord spoke often one to another, and this was pleasing to the Lord. He pronounced His blessing upon those thus engaged in holy communion concerning their Divine Master and their heavenly hopes and promises. A book of remembrance was written of them that feared the Lord and spoke often on His name. What child of God is there in this day that does not desire to be the recipient of the rich blessing which the Lord vouchsafes to those who gather in His presence to worship His name and to remind one another of their privileges of being seated together in heavenly places. Surely there is no more effectual means of building one another up in the most holy faith and edifying one another in love than that of the convention gatherings; "and so much the more as ye see the day drawing on."
Preaching by the Printed Page
Preaching the Gospel in the form of the printed page by means of the distribution of free tracts is still a very effective means and one that many of the friends continue to make use of. Yet we believe there is room for many more to engage in this branch of the ministry and for much more to be accomplished along this line. While we have not advised the brethren to attempt such a general distribution of the free literature as in former years, owing to the higher cost and our limited treasury, we have urged all to use the tracts freely, making the distribution more an individual matter, thus placing the truth more particularly with those who give evidence of some desire to read. We have on hand a good supply of four different subjects that deal with the Truth in general and the Gospel story exhaustively from various standpoints. Reference to these tracts will frequently be found on the second page of the "Herald." Again we urge that the brethren everywhere avail themselves of this privilege of service, of passing the Message on to all who have ears to hear. None who thus serve in the spirit of love and consecration to God will be without a resultant blessing.
Those who have for same time been readers of the "Herald" are aware that the Institute has issued as its own publication, "The Divine Plan of the Ages," being the first volume of "The Scripture Studies," of which Brother Russell was the author. We know of no more comprehensive and exhaustive presentation of the Truth respecting the Divine purpose than that which is set forth in this volume. It is encouraging to observe that a considerable number of brethren so regard this volume, and are making use of it according to their need and opportunities. Of course this book has already had a very wide circulation and there is not therefore the same room for distributing it by the colporteur method as in former years.
We would refer again to the publication known as "The Revelation of Jesus Christ," in two volumes, comprising approximately 1200 pages. As the. correspondence clearly reveals a goodly number of the friends in various parts of the world have been deriving a rich spiritual blessing from the careful study of this exposition. We are frequently encouraged on learning how those who realize the value of this study and are themselves richly blessed, at once pass on the word to other friends, who in turn are given opportunity to derive the same spiritual profit and uplift. Our first edition of 3,000 copies of the First Volume is exhausted and we now have under way a second edition which we trust will be ready for use within the next month. The little eight-page leaflet containing an explanatory word of introduction regarding the Revelation Volumes can still be had, and we repeat that those who desire to encourage the circulation of the Revelation exposition may co-operate by sending us the names of Christian people with whom we can communicate by sending an appropriate message.
God's People in Every Clime
As regular "Herald" readers are aware, the ministry in which we are engaged here extends to all parts of the civilized world, and our "Herald" subscription list embraces earnest readers in the following countries, apart from the United States and Canada: Great Britain, Australia, Ireland, France, New Zealand, British West Indies, South America, Mexico, Scandinavia, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, and South Africa. In all of these countries there have been awakenings amongst the brethren with regard to developments and the Lord's providential leading amongst the Truth people in recent years, much after the same manner that the brethren have experienced in this country. During the past year particularly there has been much awakening throughout Germany, and many Classes of considerable numbers have been formed of those who have seen it their privilege to withdraw from a state of bondage and confusion that they might be the better enabled to enjoy the true spiritual life and fellowship of kindred minds. Our dear Brother Lauper of Degersheim, Switzerland, has been for some years now publishing a German "Herald" which consists principally of the translation of many of the articles in the English "Herald," and we learn from the brother's correspondence that the Lord is adding His blessing to this particular feature, so that many of the German friends are enjoying the message in their own language.
We take this occasion once more to express hearty gratitude for the co-operation on the part of brethren in Great Britain, Australia, and elsewhere, in the ministry of words of comfort and good cheer during these troublous and perplexing times. The spirit of our Divine Master as it exists in His people of every clime, is the same and draws together in one common bond of brotherhood all true disciples of Christ, as expressed by the poet:
our mutual woes,
Faithful in the Day of Small Things
Christians struggling in the Narrow Way in all parts of the earth are sure to, have more or less a similarity of experience--discouragements and besetments and trials to test faith and develop character. It is one constant struggle and battle against selfishness and sin in many forms as well as against powerful forces of evil presided over by the great Adversary of God and man. Thus the work of grace, of polishing and making ready for the Kingdom is going on in the hearts of all those who are related to the Lord by faith and consecration. The correspondence which we have with brethren in these various countries named above gives evidence that the Divine prediction has been and still is in process of fulfillment: "Out of every nation, people, kindred, and tongue shall be assembled those who shall be heirs of the Heavenly Kingdom." For all the dear brethren who are thus laboring and co-operating for the advancement of the cause of the Lord in other lands, we wish the Divine blessing in every way for the Lord's glory and for their good.
In presenting this report, we realize that there is nothing to boast of from the natural or human point of view. Yet neither is there any reason for discouragement, but contrariwise, it is remembered that we are living in the day of small things, in the time when the Lord's special work and dealing are with comparatively a small company of humanity. Not only so, but as this is also obviously the closing period of the Age, it may be that there is really fewer of the Kingdom class, the saintly, who shall inherit the Kingdom, than in former times. But whether or not this is so; we may all be assured that the Divine Plan will succeed. We take occasion at this time to express special gratitude and thanksgiving to our glorious Master for the great number of His mercies and for His assisting grace during the past year. The Lord has added His blessing ,in a very special way, placing within our reach the means wherewith to extend the ministry, thereby increasing our privileges of serving more of the brethren. It still remains, however, a question with us of being faithful in the little things; of doing with our might what our hands find to do. In our endeavors to advance His cause we must of course be governed by the natural resources at our disposal. These we know are under the Lord's control. We rest assured that everything the Lord desires will be accomplished; there are many agencies at His command and the question is, Shall we be accounted worthy as the Lord's followers of being continued in His favor and of being dealt with by Him until we shall be brought forth in the new life, by the power of the First Resurrection! "He is faithful that promised." May the Lord's blessing abide richly with His faithful people, giving more and more wisdom, enabling them to do those things pleasing in His sight.
TREASURER'S FINANCIAL STATEMENT