VOL. XII. February 1, 1929 No. 3
VOL. XII. February 1, 1929 No. 4
VOL. XII. February 1, 1929 No. 3
CONCERNING ASSOCIATED BIBLE STUDENTS CLASSES
REFERRING to the announcement that appears regularly on the second page of the "Herald," regarding Associated Bible Students Classes addressed by Pilgrim brethren, some have recently inquired if all the Classes using that designation Associated Bible Students are to be considered as belonging to the Institute. Our reply to the query is that it is not a question of a Class belonging to the Institute, and that at there are no Classes controlled by the Institute in any sense. It is well to keep in mind the general facts: Soon after the general crisis was reached amongst Bible Students, about twelve years ago. the friends in various parts formed new Classes, and the question arose as to what general name would be used to distinguish them from their former association. After due consideration, the friends in general decided to take the name Associated Bible Students as this was one that Brother Russell had recommended and that seemed in every way appropriate. Then, as this arrangement known as the Pastoral Bible Institute, was composed of brethren who were members of the different Classes of Associated Bible Students in nearly all parts of the country, it was the most logical proceeding, therefore, that in referring to the Classes in the "Herald," they should be called Associated Bible Students, inasmuch as nearly all the Classes with whom we are in communication and who desired the ministry of the Institute, go by that name.
But that does not mean that all Associated Bible Students belong to the Pastoral Bible Institute for as a matter of fact, it is not as Classes that any belong to the Institute, It is altogether an individual matter of becoming identified with this association. The Institute proper is made up of brethren in various parts who desire to be associated together in this way for mutual comfort and upbuilding in holy things. The Institute has never urged its ministry upon any, nor are any of the brethren who travel as Pilgrims directed to any Class that has not requested their services. Nor does the fact that a certain city is included in the Pilgrim Brother's itinerary always mean that he is to serve the Class of Associated Bible Students of that city. It does signify, however, that there are "Herald" subscribers in that city who have indicated their desire for the services of our traveling brethren. The Institute stands ready to render any kind of service it can in the way of assisting and encouraging the brethren in the Christian life and ministry. But it has nothing to do with the affairs or the management o any of the Classes of Associated Bible Students So then, let it be understood that because a Class may accept the ministry of one of the Pilgrim brethren does not by any means obligate that Class to consider not as belonging to the Institute; for as has been explained, it is purely an individual matter of becoming identified with this association.
PROPER SEARCHING OF THE SCRIPTURES
A reader of this journal calls our attention to a statement in the December 15th, 1928 issue, page 383: "We may not with becoming grace attempt to pry into secrets that have not been revealed," etc., and asks if this is in harmony with the fact that holy ones of old were commended for inquiring after future events that had not been revealed, and with the fact that others were urged to search the Scriptures, and with the further fact that the Apostle says, the Spirit of God searcheth all things and reveals to us the deep things of God, etc.. In reply to the foregoing, it is necessary to make a distinction between an earnest and reverent study of the Word of God with the abject in view of knowing still more fully of His will, and that morbid curiosity and determination to uncover secrets that the Lord has not revealed, and that were not intended to be known by His people at the present time. In connection with the remark quoted from the "Herald," we stated there that it is eminently proper for the Lord's people to 'be deeply and earnestly concerned with regard to the time of the deliverance and exaltation of the Church; but that as far various details regarding the exact day or year, etc., such have not been revealed. The thought is that while the Lord's Word abounds with encouragement and admonitions to search the Scriptures, to seek for the truth as men search for hidden treasure such as gold and silver, yet there are certain points of information relative to various developments and features that the Lord has not made known, and it is such as these we had in mind in saying that we should not be prying into secrets which had not been revealed. Daniel indeed was commended for his zeal on behalf of his people, and for his devotion to the Lord, prompting him to inquire if the Lord had a special message bearing upon the deliverance of his people. And while the Lord communicated a number of items of information bearing upon the subject, He also assured him that there were some features that were not intended for him, and that consequently he should consider the matter "sealed up" until the due time. We do not read of Daniel attempting to go beyond the Lord's will in this matter, nor is there anything in the record telling of how he still endeavored to uncover those matters that the Lord had indicated to be closed up.
When the Apostle declares that the Spirit searcheth the deep things of God, he is evidently referring to those deep, profound truths that have to do with the development of the spiritual life, those features of the truth relating to the Divine will and program that are necessary for the Church to understand in order to accomplish her progress and development in Christ-likeness and her final preparation for the great change.
PRESERVING THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT
Matthew 18:15-17 records the instruction Jesus gave for adjusting inharmones and preserving order and concord amongst His followers, and it is asked by some who have been looking into this portion of the Master's instructions, if His advice here was not intended to apply merely to His disciples as Jews under the Law and not to the Gospel Church in general. There is this to be said in reply: The Savior just prior to concluding His earthly career promised His disciples that after the anointing of the Spirit they would better understand many of the things that He had spoken unto them. Quite manifestly His counsel as recorded in Matthew 18:15-17, was amongst those sayings that were intended for the instruction and guidance of the Gospel Church. The Master was then introducing the new dispensation and, evidently speaking from the standpoint of the new order and relationship of His disciples to one another, laying clown certain foundation principles of action that were really embodied in the law of love itself, and intended, to govern in a general way in the affairs of His people. It is true that the disciples were still under the Law in one sense, for Christ had not yet died and set aside the Law Covenant. But while that was true, the Lord was commencing the work of the new Age and the Evangelist referred to it by saying that to those who received Him gave He power to become the sons of God. While they were not then sons in the full sense, yet the Master was in a large measure treating them as having that relationship, for He taught them to pray, saying, "Our Father which art in heaven," etc. They were at least tentatively sons of God, merely waiting for the outpouring of the Spirit of adoption.
Referring now to the Master's instruction, what could be more logical or in keeping with the spirit of a sound mind than that one who believed that some kind of wrong or evil was being practiced by another should go to him and tell him of his offense? Further, what could be more reasonable and in keeping with the law of love than that he should take one or two others with him to a brother who had refused to dear a personal appeal concerning the matter? Surely the Master was here giving some valuable counsel that was intended for the benefit and edification of His Church. Evidently it is the neglect of the Master's advice here that is the cause of so many continued inharmonies and disorders amongst His professed followers.
On the other hand, we would not understand that the Master is here encouraging any to be unkindly critical of others, to make over and take exception to various items and weaknesses of the conduct of others. The law of love was to be the general rule, and the Apostle had caught the effect of this when he addressed the Church, saying that charity or love covereth a multitude of sins, weaknesses, infirmities. All need to use freely this mantle of love .in thinking of and dealing with one another. It was then those real evils or wrongs that were being practiced and that gave real offense that should have the application of this counsel as recorded in Matthew 18:15-17.
BEGOTTEN FROM ABOVE
The Question of just what is the heritage of the Lord's people at the present time, is one that lies near to the hearts of all the faithful and it is one that is deserving of their daily careful consideration. Some of the brethren in studying this subject as indicated in 2 Pet. 1:4, have raised the inquiry as to whether or not the attainment of the Divine nature is a present or future experience. In reaching a conclusion with regard to this point it seems that much would depend on just the standpoint from which one is considering the subject. It is recognized that the Scriptures clearly teach that during this Age all the Lord's people are called in "one hope" of their calling; there is one Narrow Way and one High Calling and. the promise is the Divine nature to those who are faithful unto death. The thought would then seem to be borne out that such as are invited to be joint-heirs with Christ and partakers of immortality are at the present time begotten to the Divine nature in the sense that there is the beginning of this new life or existence now, and the invitation, hopes, and promises given to us look iii that direction and are to the end that we might be born of that nature in the First Resurrection. Having these promises signifies that daily our aspirations and ambitions should rise to and lay hold of the great hope set before us.
It is important to keep before the mind the figure definitely used in the Bible to illustrate the present condition and experience of the children of God, that of the begotten state. An analogy is drawn between the spiritual begetting and birth and the human begetting and birth. We need not, however, understand the spiritual begetting and birth to be like the natural in every particular; it is merely an illustrative figure to give us a lesson. The thought is that we are begotten of the Holy Spirit of God with a view to our becoming partakers of the Divine nature in the full and final sense of being ultimately born of that nature, and all who are Spirit-begotten in the present time are begotten with that hope, with that object and end in view, even as the Apostle Peter says, God has given us exceeding great and precious promises that by these we might become partakers of the Divine nature.
We will gain much by observing the great Pattern, our Lord Jesus, in whom was illustrated all these various features that are applicable to us. It is asked, To what was Jesus begotten? And the answer undoubtedly is that He was begotten to the Divine nature; that He could not have reached perfection on any lower spirit plane; that if He had not come off "conqueror" in the fullest sense of the word, He would have had nothing; and only those who attain His character-likeness and are overcomer-conquerors in the highest sense of the word -- will be with Him to share His glory and partake of His Divine nature. Indeed, it is recognized too that as disciples of Christ are faithful in setting their affections heavenward and lifting their hearts in contemplation of the heavenly inheritance, there is realized that progress and development in those qualities of love, joy, peace, humility, patience, and brotherly love which go to make up the Christian character or likeness of Christ.
Those who will finally come off as members of a second grade or larger company are such as fail to come off "more than conquerors"; they are those who would have failed altogether of achieving anything were it not for the Divine provision which is outlined in God's Word, to the effect that under God's ,providence these are permitted to pass through very severe and sore tribulations. Having failed to go on obediently in the most approved manner courageously in the footsteps of Jesus, and lacking in 'the element of whole-hearted zeal and devotion, they are through special corrections and reproofs assisted in learning the lesson of complete submission and obedience, and are referred to as those who are "saved so as by fire."
This article represents the contents of a small leaflet that has recently come to our attention. While the author, whose name is not given, appears to take the position that the coming of the Lord is still future, yet the important facts and considerations relating to the present time and the end of the Age are so well summed up and set forth that it is deemed profitable for publication here. As for the question of the Lord's presence, we hold, in line with a considerable number of Bible students, that the various proofs set forth in this article in support of the belief that the Kingdom of God draweth nigh, are amongst those general evidences or signs, not that Christ will come soon, but that His presence is already an accomplished fact; and that the changes and developments going on in the world today are manifestations of that fact; in other words, "signs of the Son of Man in Heaven," -- of His Presence. -- EDITORIAL COMMITTEE.
THE MOST momentous event in the history of this world is the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ to this earth a second time, vested in power and great glory. Of this the sacred Scripture abounds with emphatic ;testimony, not only of His personal coming, but its manner, and its object. (John 14:3; Matt. 24:38, 39; Acts 3:20, 21.) Of old, holy men of God wrote as they were, moved by the Holy Spirit, God speaking to Israel through them. (Heb. 1.) How they unitedly foretold the sufferings of Christ (First Advent) and the glory that should follow. (Second Advent)! The diligence and devotion of these holy ministers to their prophetic office can be judged by their persistency through suffering shame and death. (Acts 7:52; Heb. 11:37.) But why did they endure such untold agonies? The eleventh of Hebrews will supply the answer. They looked for a city (government) whose foundations were laid firmly in righteousness; whose builder and maker was the Mighty God, and though they all died in faith, not having tasted the hallowed blessedness of this holy city, but in anticipation endured faithfully to the end, they obtained a good report, and will yet be rewarded; for when the King of glory comes, rewards come with Him. -- Rev. 11 :17, 18.
"If by looking through the vista of ages for the fulfillment of their grand prophetic reward produced such renowned faithfulness to Him who called them, what should the testimony of God's people be today, living almost on the threshold of the fulfillment of their' prophetic dreams?
"Though ministers of the most High Gad, it is evident they did not fully understand the testimony they 'bare. Not even angels were permitted to understand. -- 1 Pet. 1:10-12.
"But how wonderful, how different today. 'Seek and ye shall find.' 'Knock and it shall 'be opened unto you.' 'To him that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith.'
"But alas, how few comparatively have an ear to hear (desire). This age of speed and pleasure, pomp and pride can find no spare moments for eternal things, treasures indeed that will bring peace, happiness, and satisfaction. This world has never been a friend of grace to help, God's people nearer to Himself. The world by its own wisdom has never known God, and never in its history has it appeared wiser in its own eyes than now:
"'The people of God are being so overcome by the thrills of a giddy age that the hallowed things (the only source of true happiness embracing our eternal destiny), are being laid aside and almost forgotten. Modernists, worldly wisdom in its many cunning forms has got such a hold of the professing church today that inspiration in the sacred Scripture is being dangerously undermined. Where shall we look today for the defenders of the faith once delivered to the saints?
"The outlook from our churches is most pitiable, from those who sit in high places down to the less responsible. The time is quickly coming when that solemn question will be answered in the negative: 'When the Son of Man comes will He find the faith?' (Luke 18:8.) 'Watch! What I say unto one, I say unto all.' Mark 13:36, 37 should be the foremost duty of every child of God, should they desire to 'be ready; for to be ready is a necessity. -- Matt. 24:44.
"Astounding indeed are the evidences of the imminent return of this same Jesus. (Acts 1:11.) But not as He was, in meek and lowly guise, but girded in the power of an endless life -- 'King of kings -- Lord of lords.' To whom every knee must bow and every tongue must confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11.) Consider the Apostolic prediction of the 'last days' -- 2 Pet. 3; 2 Tim. 3:1-5, and you will be impressed; also Luke 21:1-28. 'When ye see these things begin to come to pass, then know the Kingdom is nigh.' 'Men's hearts are indeed failing them for fear of those things coming on the earth.'
"To those who accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God, we offer four proofs that the inauguration of the Kingdom of God, or as it is frequently called, 'The Millennium,' is soon to have its beginning.
"The whole history of Israel, already covering a period of nearly four thousand years, was all written in advance. You will find it in the 4th chapter of Deuteronomy from verse 25 to verse 31. Every item in that prophecy has had its fulfillment except one, and that one is now in process of completion.
"Proof one then is the restoration of Israel to the land of Palestine, their ancient home from which they have been scattered for over eighteen hundred years. -- Neh. 1:8; Amos 9:9.
"Today the Jews are returning to their inheritance, Jerusalem is being built afresh; new streets of good houses, a large library and university upon the Mount of Olives; electricity, and a modern water scheme has been installed --a rapidly developing Palestine with all the conveniences of modern civilization. After a period of eighteen hundred years, Palestine once again mints its own coin; and Hebrew is fast becoming the national language.
"But let us not forget that Satan is aware of all this, and is preparing a counterfeit for the things which God is preparing for the near future.
"The second proof is the revival of the Roman Empire. Rome has been Satan's seat for centuries. The Caesars were men who took upon themselves Divine titles. Nowhere in the annals of history can we find a parallel in the persecution of Christians such as took place under Nero, and extending from Nero to Diocletian A. D. 64 to A. D. 285. For 220 years, Rome held this Satanic record. Today while God is permitting the revival of Palestine, Satan is endeavoring to revive the old Roman Empire and the City, for the Bible indicates that in Rome will he make his semi-final stand against God and His people. (Rev. 13.) According to reports from the Geneva Conference, Mussolini is the most powerful and also the most dangerous man in Europe. This man has made no secret of his ambition to restore the Roman Empire to its former glory. (Dan. 2:40-43.) It has been suggested that this will be brought about by political Rome exploiting Papal Rome to secure the consolidation of the Roman Catholic nations of central Europe.
"All over the world, multitudes are desiring a kingdom of liberty (we would rather call it 'license') -- a kingdom without God, without faith, a kingdom where sacred institutions have, no existence. The time seems ripe for this event, so emphatically taught in the Scriptures.
"The third proof is 'The condition of the professing Church.' Here we find things just as the Scriptures predict. Infidelity in the pulpit, denial of the virgin birth; denial of the inspiration of the Scriptures as the Word of the Living God; denial of the atonement sacrifice of Christ upon the cross of Calvary. -- See 2 Tim. 4:3, 4; Rev. 13:14-18; 2 Pet. 2:1, 2 ; Phil. 3:19.
"Proof four is the 'Condition of the world today.' Where is the land today in which we do not to some extent see vice and corruption enthroned in high places? A corrupt government. 'Sin is a reproach to any people,, but righteousness exalteth a nation.' -- Prov. 14:34.
"The greatest and best of earth's leaders and statesmen today are powerless to stop the inrush of iniquity. Perplexed and anxious, impotency follows their best efforts. Craft, arrogance, and ignorance, parade our Council Halls. Law and order are daily defied. Anarchy looms out ahead. Conferences, Leagues, Pacts, and Protocols are useless to restore peace.
"Why so? because the Prince of Peace is still away. He alone can give to this sorrowful, suffering world, the peace and the happiness it seeks for, and this is the object and purpose of our Lord's return to earth. -- See Acts 3:19-21; 1 Cor. 15:24-28.
"Though dark clouds may intervene the glory of that blessed day, the dear children of God who draw near to His Holy Word may see above 'the silver lining' the unsearchable riches of Christ, the tender mercies of a most loving Creator, for God hath revealed them to us by His Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:9.) Be wise, therefore, ye His people; trim your prophetic lamp,, for it will shine more and more until the Day dawns and the shadows flee away.
"Precious indeed is the promise to all who love His appearing and Kingdom.- 2 Tim. 4:8.
"Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man will come.
"To him that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith." -- Rev. 2:29.
"Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" -- Mark 8:34-37.
THE SAVIOR uttered words of the highest wisdom when He presented the question, What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Although the question and thought here presented are such as all humanity could well consider, the Master was not addressing His remarks broadcast to all men. His words were addressed and specially applicable to His immediate disciples, those followers and cross-bearers whom He otherwise termed the "little flock," to whom it will be the Father's good pleasure to give the Kingdom.
It is well to remember that only one offer of life eternal has yet been issued. This was the offer that Jesus made to His followers, and that has since been given throughout this dispensation of the Spirit, to whoever has ears to hear and a will to walk in the Narrow Way. It is evident that no general offer of everlasting life has yet been made to the world of humanity, although the Scriptures clearly show us that there is to be such an offer of eternal life tinder other conditions when this dark night of weeping has passed and the Millennial morning has been ushered in; but none can either accept or reject those conditions yet, since they have not yet been introduced and established.
Entering the Narrow Way of Self-Surrender
Those now invited to eternal life under its most glorious conditions conceivable of "glory, honor, and immortality," are admonished by the Savior to appreciate most gratefully and highly the value of eternal life; and it is implied that any one who will at all consider the matter will readily acknowledge that to give all that he has of earthly life and its vanity in exchange for life eternal would be to get that great boon at a very small price -- at a great bargain! We observe men who, as death draws near, are willing- to give their all to retain their hold a little longer on the present life, which is so uncertain and unsatisfactory. How much more should we be willing to lay down our lives in voluntary sacrifice, in daily self-denial, in sharing the sufferings of Christ in this present time, that we may thereby obtain according to God's good promise in Christ, the glorious and eternal life designed to the overcomers! !
In presenting the hope of immortality to His disciples, the hope of being made partakers of that glorious, spiritual nature, in which they should be permitted to enter the presence of God and behold His face, He was following out the Divine program as God had committed it to Him for execution. The Divine Scroll had contained that special and extraordinary provision for a new creations creation who should be made partakers of the nature of God; and the provision was that this new creation should be taken from amongst men, and the Savior accordingly plainly stated the terms whereby membership in it could be secured. First of all, these in order to become eligible for the race for immortality must share in the benefits of the Atonement, must be made partakers of the merit of the precious blood of Christ's redeeming sacrifice. Subsequently the message is one of giving over all of that redeemed life to God. And as in Bunyan's dream, "Christian" is pointed to the Wicket-gate leading into the way to the Celestial City, so he who would become a disciple of Christ, hears the Master's call, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate" that opens into the Narrow Way which leadeth unto life. This Wicket-gate, or strait gate, is that of self-surrender, of sanctification or setting apart, and will mean the giving up of the will in the sense of foregoing self-desires, preferences, and ambitions of every kind, and the acceptance of the will, desire, and preference of the Lord in all things. Such a giving over of the will to God signifies the yielding up of all.
Saving and Losing Life
This surrender or consecration to God, the exchanging of the natural, earthly life for the heavenly hope, "heavenly calling," spiritual prosperity, and prospective joint-heirship with Christ, will imply that such will have no longer any earthly rights or hopes, hence such must either gain the spiritual life they have started out for, or lose all existence. Therefore as stated by Jesus in respect to this class who undertake such a responsibility, who ever of them saves his earthly life, refusing to go on into the life of self-denial and self-sacrifice after having made the consecration, loses it entirely -- loses all hope of a future life. On the other hand, those of this class who are now faithful in laying down the present life for the Lord's sake, shall find life eternal, shall find immortality under the glorious conditions of the Kingdom: "If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him."
Here then, are the conditions of discipleship and of obtaining the prize of immortality. But it is asked, just what do the conditions signify as they apply to us individually, and as they are to be worked out in our daily lives? What is it for us to deny ourselves? It signifies that having given over all to the Lord by way of consecrating and dedicating ourselves to Him, the natural or self-life should be ignored, just as the Apostle Paul expresses it, "Ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God." "Reckon ye yourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God." Denying one's self in connection with bearing the cross then signifies to ignore self-will, to deny self-indulgence, self- gratification: and this includes all the earthly ambitions and desires, the sinful and no less those that are laudable and proper: The Christian pledges himself at the very beginning that he will not follow his own inclinations and his own will, but that he will be wholly subject to the will of His Head, the Lord Jesus, if he may in turn be counted as a member in particular of Christ's Body, the elect Church.
God Reveals the Way Step by Step
The Lord evidently does not reveal to us in the beginning of our Christian experience, all of the trials of the flesh and conflicts between the mind of the flesh and the mind of the Spirit, which this full surrender must involve if we press along the line toward the mark which He has set for us as the standard of character. Very graciously the Lord hides from us some of the experiences in the way, and the poet caught the inspiration of this thought when he wrote that
"God kindly veils our eyes
The wisdom born of experience makes manifest that if the Lord should reveal to us in the beginning all the details of the sorrows and, sufferings of the Narrow Way, we would become disheartened at the start, not possessing the degree of faith in the beginning necessary to undertake so great a responsibility. But as the true disciple of Christ through the Spirit realizes the eyes of his understanding opening wider and wider, and as he thus grows in grace and becomes stronger in the Lord and in the power of His might, he grows also in that intimate knowledge and acquaintance with the Lord and in love toward Him and toward all who are in fellowship with Him, and it consequently becomes daily easier for him, as he learns to sing that
"Day by day the pathway smooths,
By and by as a result of the Lord's patient dealing and leading, the trials which came at first appear much lighter and as nothing, but other tests and fiery trials come instead, which are still more searching, and we discern more distinctly, more clearly, what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. In this way, our trial state progresses, and what is required of us is that step by step we shall be faithful to what we see to be the Lord's will and shall endeavor to the best of our ability to yield ourselves thereto. Surely this is self-denial -- forsaking all to be Jesus' disciples.
"Deny Thyself, Take up thy Cross"
There is, of course, a close relationship 'between the life of self-denial and that of bearing the cross. Self-denial signifies the refusal of self-indulgence; the practice of putting away and keeping down those desires and longings and affections that are earthward and that have to do with the self-life. Faithfulness in persevering in such a life will require strong faith and courage, and this is evidently why the Apostle said, This is the victory that overcometh, that conquers self and the world, even your faith. Similarly, cross-bearing, while not exactly the same, means a life of self-repression, a practice of such conduct and course in life as will mean death to the humanity; in other words, it is the carrying out of the vow of consecration to be dead to self and alive toward God. The cross being the emblem of death or of putting to death, the bearing of the cross must relate to those processes working out the death of the human, in order to give place to the new spiritual existence and relationship to God. The denial of one's self may represent victory gained in his own heart of which others may not have knowledge from anything they can see; in fact, if we desire to have the fullness of God's blessing, we should make sure that we do not practice denying of self to be observed by others, but rather, that we may secure the Lord's approval alone: The bearing of the cross, however, may be observed to some extent by those with whom we maybe closely associated and particularly by those who are walking in the same Narrow Way.
And how appropriate it is that all who are bearing ,the cross should recognize each other and be able to sympathize with one another and give an encouraging word, a sympathizing look, or a helping. hand as opportunity may offer. As for others, we can not expect sympathy from them, for from their standpoint we are counted fools (Acts 26:24; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2:14; 3:18), unwise, following an unwise course, bringing our difficulties upon ourselves because we insist on following an ideal pattern of our dear Redeemer instead of following the pattern of the worldly-minded, and worldly-wise Christian. Such as have the mind of the world and its spirit, of course, have only sneers and reproaches for the faithful, and often no doubt think of them as they speak of them, as being hypocrites. This truly is a part of the cross-bearing, and especially when those who deride and criticize are those whom we love and whose esteem we would enjoy if we could have it in conjunction with the Master's "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Consider Him Who Endured
Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, says St. Paul, evidently wishing to impress on us the great lesson of His faithfulness. As we observe our Lord Jesus and the cross which He bore, it is recognized that it was not the literal cross of wood that He carried to Calvary amid shame and jeers; rather it was the unseen or mystical cross, represented in His great engagement with Jehovah to do His will, even to the extent of giving up His life; it was the carrying out of this immense contract continually through the three and a half years of His ministry, from the time of His consecration at Jordan; this was the cross He bore to Calvary. We observe, too, how faithfulness to the truth in testifying respecting His mission, the Kingdom that He was to establish and the terms and arrangements of membership in it ,being misunderstood by the chief rulers, scribes, and Pharisees, led to opposition continually, so that they not only maligned His name, but in their hatred sought His life and finally obtained it. These were not the unbelieving, non-professing sinners, they were not the worldly, as that word is generally understood, but prominent religious leaders of that day, and the so-called holiness people, were His most bitter assailants. True indeed, the Master could have compromised the matter in a measure. He could have fallen into line to some extent with those prominent leaders and have been considered "respectable"; and by so doing He could have had a large following. But strict loyalty and fidelity to the truth and to God would not permit Him to do this. It compelled Him to take a stand-independent of all human approbation and opinion, and thus brought against Him the disesteem, the wrath of all of them. This was His continual and daily cross-bearing that had to be endured if He would "overcome" and be granted the high station of association with the Father in His Kingdom. And may not all true and faithful followers of the Lamb expect similar experiences under similar conditions, even at the present time? They may well be prepared for the same consequences.
As He Was in the World so are We
The Apostle makes mention of some of these experiences of the cross and declares that the endurance of them was a mark of his faithfulness as a servant of the Lord: "In much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things." -- 2 Cor. 6:4-10.
How much our dear Master knew of being counted a deceiver, while He was the true one; of being called Beelzebub, while really the Prince of Light! What a cross it must have been to endure such slanderous misrepresentations and contradiction of sinners against Himself; and how faithfully He bore the cross. And shall not all His followers expect to similarly bear His cross with Him and be misunderstood, misrepresented, misjudged by those who are more or less blinded by the Adversary! Such dishonor, such evil reports are amongst the things which our Lord specifically declared would be a part of our cross-bearing when He said, Blessed are ye when men shall revile and persecute you, etc., rejoice and be exceeding glad in all such cross-bearing, for great is your reward in heaven.
Let us all be admonished,, beloved in Christ, to catch not merely the outward form of self-denial practiced by some who profess the faith in Christ, though lacking in its spirit, but to give heed that whatever of outward self-denial we practice, we may learn the full meaning of self-consecration and immolation which our Lord's words signify: that we be not content with the wearing of the gold pin bearing the emblem of the cross as an ornament, but grasp fully and clearly the purport of the Master's words respecting the true bearing of the cross, that in due time we may also attain the crown-bearing promised as a reward to the faithful. Let us ever remember that our Lord calls upon His disciples to follow Him in direct opposition to the world-current, and declares that the disciple must not expect to be above his Lord in being spared such experiences; but He promises great reward at the end of the journey -- life eternal with exceeding glory, honor, and immortality. Let us lay aside every weight and every besetting sin, and run with patience the race that is set before us in the Gospel, looking unto Jesus, in whose footsteps we seek to tread.
"Wherefore let them that suffer
according to the will of God
BELIEVING and trusting without seeing with the physical senses, and walking with God in the dark, are terms that well ex press the life of faith on the part of the children of God. Nor is it merely a matter of mental assent to certain claims and propositions that the Lord requires of those who would be His disciples indeed in this present evil world. It must be rather, as the Apostle declares, "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness," that is, the belief must be of a kind that produces obedience; it must be a heart acknowledgment of the Lord, resulting indefinite resolves and purposes to obey the voice and will of God. The lesson coming down to us from all the great characters of the Bible is that the only real faith, the only faith that is at all acceptable to God, is that which prompts to submission and obedience to God's will no matter how dark the way nor how much the cost.
Behold the Cloud of Witnesses
It is for this reason that the Apostle appeals to Christians to consider the cloud of witnesses that surround them, witnesses that bear important testimony as to the value and necessity of an implicit faith in God. This cloud of witnesses He has already named to some extent as those holy ones of ancient time who responded to the voice of God and went obediently in the direction and way indicated by that voice, as a result of which they were called upon to suffer every kind of misfortune, distress, disappointment, and even death. The Apostle declares that these experiences were good and profitable for them, that out of their affliction, out of their trial and weakness, they "were made strong." It cannot be less profitable for those who are called to God's fellowship and favor in this dispensation to suffer and endure as seeing Him who is invisible. To the contrary, the Apostle again says, "If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf." And this same Apostle offers us sweet consolation, saying, "Let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping óf their souls to Him," etc. Truly this will require constant trust and great faith for one to continually commit the keeping of his life to God in the midst of various trying scenes and sufferings of the Narrow Way.
God's Will and God's Way
All of the Lord's faithful servants need to remember that when sometimes matters turn out very differently with themselves from what they had expected, when they receive injuries, reproaches, and oppressions as the rewards of faithfulness to duty and to truth, it does not mean that God has forgotten them or that they were misled in their previous service to the Lord; nor does it signify that the Lord has changed His plan, nor that He is careless or indifferent respecting their condition. True, their first thought should be whether or not present unfavorable conditions are in the nature of chastisements, or the result of any misdoing on their part or failure to serve the Lord in His own way, but if upon careful scrutiny they find their course to be harmonious with the Divine will and Word, they at once rest their faith upon the Lord, and conclude that God knows better than they how to manage His own work and purpose. Then while thankful to be used in that work for a time, they should, nevertheless be pleased if it were the Lord's will to be set aside for a time -- perhaps for the good of others, or perhaps for their own training in the school of experience and in the learning of lessons of patience and of faith.
The Lesson from John the Baptist
One very fine example of such confidence, trust in and waiting upon the Lord is to. be noted in the example of John the Baptist. While Jesus was performing many miracles, making numerous disciples and meeting with comparatively little opposition, things were going very differently with John. Yet this was only in accordance with what the Baptist himself had, prophesied, saying. "He must increase, but I must decrease." John was in prison about 120 miles from where Jesus was laboring so successfully. To be shut up in a dark dungeon of the kind usual at that time, and to have our Lord proceeding with His work and raising no voice of protest on His behalf -- exercising none of His mighty power for his deliverance, probably seemed very strange to John -- especially in view of his expectations respecting the work of the Messiah that He would be a great earthly general and king in harmony with the general Jewish expectation.
How readily John might have permitted doubts and fears to enter his mind and overwhelm him. He might have been tempted to conclude that the whole matter was a fraud and that Jesus and he had been deceiving themselves. He might have lost all faith in God's providential leadings in the past, and all heart and hope for the present and for the future; but notwithstanding the great disappointment he felt, his faith continued its firm hold on the Lord. This is indicated in his sending his disciples to Jesus to make inquiry and also in the character of the inquiry; his question was a sound one and expresses the. conviction that thus far the Lord had been leading and that the only doubt in the Prophet's mind was whether or not, as he was the forerunner of Jesus, Jesus in turn, greater than he, might be the forerunner of some one else still greater and, yet to come.
The Proper Course for All God's Servants
While John's messengers were with Jesus, a number of miracles were performed in their sight and Jesus sent them back to John with instruction that they bear witness to him of the work of the Lord progressing in His hand, and to say to John that while the opportunities to stumble at Jesus, His work, and His words, were many, and while many would stumble at these as the Prophet had declared (Isa. 8:14), yet, a special blessing would rest upon all who would not stumble, but whose faith in the Lord would continue, despite various disappointments of expectation respecting His works and their fulfillment through misapprehension of the length and breadth and height and depth of the Divine Plan, which as the heavens are higher than the earth is higher than human conception could have foreseen. There is nothing in the record to indicate that John made any reply, nor that there was any further question or disturbance of his faith after receiving this assuring message from Jesus. Evidently his faith was such as to enable him to commit the keeping of his life and all in the hands of God, and to await the divinely appointed season for his deliverance and vindication.
But such a resting in the Lord, such a centering of life in Him, can be enjoyed only by those who have made considerable progress, who have run a considerable distance in the way of the Lord and who have already been exercised under the Lord's providences, and have learned many lessons in His school. This however is a condition which all the Lord's true followers are to strive to attain unto as the only one thoroughly pleasing to the Lord. The proper course of all God's servants when perplexed is the one followed by John, namely to go to the Lord with the perplexity, not doubting but inquiringly -- and be set at rest by His words. We may not be able to hear the Lord's words with our own ears, but we can receive them second-hand as did John-through the testimonies of the Apostles and Prophets, by whose writings God has provided in advance replies to all proper queries.
"We which have believed do enter into rest." -- Heb. 4:3
CHRISTIAN believers, followers of Jesus, since He made an end of the Law Covenant, nailing it to the cross, are not under the Law Covenant for, as the Apostle declares, "We are not under the Law but under grace." Our relationship to God is of the same character as that which prevailed before Sinai's Law Covenant was effected at the hands of Moses over Israel -- after the same order as that enjoyed by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob -- grace under the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant: we are the real seed of promise. (Gal. 3:29.) Did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob prosper without a law? Yes! Much more can spiritual Israel prosper under the same conditions, because we now have much advantage every way through our special relationship by faith to the great Redeemer, and to the exceeding great and precious promises which center in Him, and which apply to all those adopted by Him as members of His Body -- members of His Bride class.
"Whom the Son Makes Free"
Some are inclined to feel alarmed at the very thought of being free from a law covenant based upon obedience to a law. Such should be comforted with the thought that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were approved of the Lord without the Law Covenant that was given to Israel later. Their faith in God constituted an obligation to do the Divine will to the extent of their knowledge and ability and the same is true of us, for the Scriptures assure us that, as children of God. and adopted into His family, made partakers of His Spirit, our rule of action must henceforth be love, and that to us, love is the fulfilling of the law. That is to say, if we receive the Spirit of adoption into God's family, it implies that we possess the spirit of love, because God is love; and this love for God as it develops signifies love for all that are in accord with Him, and a love like His in respect to all of His creation -- a sympathetic love. Such a love permits us to be and to do in harmony with the Divine will to the extent of our ability; and the Lord, who is dealing with us according to our intentions and endeavors; and who is covering our unwilling weaknesses and imperfections, counts this service of the heart and intention as a perfect keeping of the Divine law. Thus the Apostle says: "The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Rom. 8:4.) However short we may come of the full spirit of the Divine law, we are counted as fulfillers of it so long as our daily walk is in that direction to the extent of our ability.
From this standpoint we see that God is no longer dealing with Israel, nor has He adopted the other nations as His. Rather He is forming a new nation, gathering its citizens out of every nation, kindred, people, and tongue. This new nation is the Church, of whom the Apostle says, "Ye are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people." Presently this nation will be completed, and be ushered into glory, honor, and immortality, to rule and bless and uplift all the families of the earth. God's dealings, instructions, tests, etc., are upon this new nation -- yea, as we have seen, He has placed no Jaw upon us except the law of love for God and for our neighbor. Before our adoption into this holy nation, we accepted its law of love, and recognized selfishness as part of the works of darkness; and in the school of Christ we have been learning more and more the full meaning of the word love in its application to God and to our fellowmen. These lessons still continue, but must reach a certain completion or fruition 'before we can be accounted worthy of transference to the heavenly and eternal state as members of this Kingdom.
Our New Relationship through the Blood
Have we then no relationship to the Law given to natural Israel, as expressed in the Ten Commandments, etc.? No, we are free from the Law -- thank God! Nevertheless, we may derive a great blessing through an examination of that Law from which we are free, because we recognize that it was just and holy and good that it was not set aside because the Law was imperfect, but because man was imperfect and unable to keep that Law and to gain life thereunder. Looking, then, at that perfect Law, we should seek to get, not merely its outward form and letter, but especially its inner meaning, its spirit, to determine just what it did signify. Then, having ascertained its significance, we as New Creatures -- while not depending upon it for our life, but recognizing that the precious blood of the Lamb of God has compensated for all of our unwilling weaknesses and deficiencies and imperfections -- we should strive, nevertheless, to conform our lives to all the blessed thoughts we can gather respecting the spirit of the Law.
We should do this, not thereby to merit salvation, but that having obtained the salvation, the forgiveness of sins, and having gone further and been begotten of the Holy Spirit to a new life, a new nature, we no longer seek to justify ourselves by the Law, because justified by the blood of Christ. We now seek as New Creatures to please our Heavenly Father, and rejoice to find anything in the Law given to natural Israel that would furnish us clearer conceptions of the Divine will, that for love to God we might do with our might everything in our power.
Accordingly, as we look at the Decalogue, wet say, "Yes, those laws are perfect," and the more closely we examine them the more do we grasp the depth of their signification. As for instance, in the first and second of these commandments we see prohibited not merely the making of images and worshiping of the same, but equally prohibited the having of any object of worship aside from God -- wife or children or mammon or self, etc. Applying this to the fourth commandment respecting the Sabbath, spiritual Israelites will realize that they are not under bondage to a day, but will nevertheless desire to know what was the spirit or intent or object of this command, and to be in harmony, in accord, with all its spirit. The Israelites, as our Lord shows (Matt. 12:1-14), got merely the outward form of these three commandments, but wholly missed its real purport; and similarly, many Christians today merely take the Jewish view of the command and entirely overlook its real import.
Resting in His Finished Work
The Apostle refers to the real meaning of this Sabbath rest of faith into which we spiritual Israelites enter so soon as we accept the Lord Jesus as our Redeemer, the Expiator of our guilt -- our Life-giver. As soon as we begin to believe, we begin to enter into this rest, and thenceforth, if we are faithful to the Lord and abide in His love, our Sabbath never ends -- "We which 'believe do enter into rest."
Our lesson of faith should continue throughout all the days of the week, and thus spiritual Israel keeps Sabbath every day-resting in finished work of Christ, resting from our own works, from all endeavor to justify ourselves through the Law. Was not our Lord's ministry a perpetual Sabbath? and may not all of the Lord's people today so rest in the Lord by faith, and so continually seek to work the works of Him that hath sent us as His ambassadors to the world, that every day with us should be a Sabbath day? Thus all the labor of life is sanctified to us. Whether we eat or drink, scrub or dig, write or talk, sleep or wake, we are to do all to the glory of God -- to do all as unto Him, and in all of our doings to maintain the sabbath rest in our hearts -- rest in Divine love and care, which applies to us through our relationship to Christ Jesus our Lord.
Propriety of Sunday Observance
The question comes, then, Should the Lord's people who see the true rest and who are enjoying it-should they observe the Sabbaths or Sundays appointed by the civil laws of Christendom? We answer, Yes! for three reasons:
First, it is the Divine command that we should obey all the ordinances of human law that do not conflict with our conscience as Christians; and clearly nothing in the human law on this subject could violate our conscience.
Second, surely if others can afford to rest from their labor one day in seven, the Lord's people can afford to do so as well, and indeed to better advantage than the world, because through our better knowledge of God and His Word we can make wiser and better use of the time thus taken from worldly affairs.
Third, spiritual Israelites are greatly advantaged by the fact that the world, nominal Christendom, has made a mistake in the matter, and is under the impression that the Jewish Law obligates the keeping of one day in seven as a religious rest day. Thus all things work together for good to them that love God-even the world's mistakes and ignorance.
Not only should spiritual Israelites rejoice to have the privilege of one day in seven for a special rest from physical labor and for special engagement in spiritual works, pleasures and refreshments, but additionally they should realize that the world is watching them, and that their influence for good would be greatly interfered with by their violation of this civil law, which the world supposes to be backed by Divine command. Our advice, therefore, to all true spiritual Israelites is that they be as strict or .more strict in their observance of Sunday as a Sabbath of rest than are their neighbors -- that all works except those of necessity or mercy be avoided, that this precious day be considered a boon from the Lord, a great privilege and opportunity for growth in grace and knowledge and love. Let our homes be the most quiet of all in civilized lands on the appointed day of rest; let no sounds of labor or of worldly pleasure be heard in our habitations, but let our joys of hope and love and faith abound, and let our happy hearts manifest themselves in cheerful words and tones and looks, that thus our moderation as well as our joy in the Lord may be manifest to all with whom we have to do, that they may take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. (Acts 4:13.) To those of our neighbors and friends with whom we are very intimate we might explain that from our standpoint every day is a Sabbath day of rest in faith -- that though upon some days it is necessary we should labor also for the meat that perisheth, our hearts are resting still in the great Lord of the Sabbath and His finished work.
This would not signify that we of today should attempt an observance of the outward forms of the Jewish Law, according to all that is proper and required of the Jew. For instance, no doubt it would be a violation of the fourth commandment to operate a street-car line; and if the Jewish Law were in force upon us, it would be absolutely wrong and sinful for any of us to ride in a street-car, much less to operate the same. But since we are not under the Law but under grace, and since Sunday riding is not prohibited by the civil law, nor regarded as evil by our fellows, there is no reason why in this and in similar matters we may not enjoy reasonably and with profit the conveniences of transportation on the Sabbath.
The Pharisaical Sabbath
When our Lord was here, the Jewish Law was still in force, and we observe that even then the right, the true, the proper interpretation of the fourth commandment was much more in accord with our observation of it than with the extreme observances accorded today by the Jewish teachers. The difference between then and now would be that the Jews under the Law were forbidden to do work of an earthly kind on the Sabbath, while we are not forbidden, except as earthly laws may limit without a commandment, and that we may delight to abstain from temporal labors that we may the more fully enjoy our spiritual privileges.
We call to mind the incident of Jesus and His disciples in a public pathway across a wheat-field (in old English called a corn-field). The wheat was ripe or nearly so, and the disciples, feeling hungry, had plucked a few of the heads and rubbed them in their hands to remove the chaff for the eating of the wheat. The Pharisees, appreciating the shell rather than the meat of the Divine Law, were very particular for outward observances of it, while entirely overlooking and neglecting its real sentiment or spirit. Here they thought they saw an opportunity for showing off their religious devotion by calling attention to the disciples of Jesus as being law-breakers, and to Jesus Himself as being little better, in that He as their teacher had not reproved them.
Our Lord did not accept the reproof, but on the contrary, pointed out that His disciples not only had His approval in their course but that they were fully justified by the course of others whom the Pharisees recognized. Our Lord's illustration of what constituted necessity and mercy was drawn from the Bible narrative of David's eating the shew-bread, lawful only for the priests to eat, because of the necessities of his position, his hunger; also the labor performed every Sabbath in the Jewish temple, in connection with the worship there, by the priests and Levites. Our Lord held logically that these approved matters showed the proper principle governing the Sabbath. He did not claim that reaping, threshing, and winnowing on the Sabbath day would be justifiable; His argument was that no such interpretation should be put upon the Law as would make, the satisfying of hunger, as the Apostles did, a crime, a violation of the Sabbath commandment.
"Lord also of the Sabbath"
But after convincing them from the Scriptures that their position was untenable, our Lord asserted to them His authority as an interpreter of the Law, saying, "I say unto you, One greater than the temple is here." If it was right for the Levites to perform the temple services on the Sabbath, Jesus was greater than the temple in that He was the Son of God, the mouthpiece of God, and His disciples might therefore rest secure in anything done in His service and with His approval. What a personality our Lord must have possessed that He could make such a statement before His enemies without its being challenged! We are convinced that He not only spake as never man spake, but that His appearance must have been superior to that of members of the fallen race.
Mark His statement "The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day." (Matt. 12:8.) As the Lord of the Sabbath, as the great Teacher, He had not indeed the right to abolish this feature of the Law except by fulfilling it, "nailing it to the cross"; but as the Lord of the Sabbath, He was the proper Teacher to set forth its real significance to the Jew. Our Lord called the attention of His critics to the testimony of God through the Prophet, "I will have mercy and not sacrifice." (Hosea 6:6.) He declares that if they had given heed to this direction their thoughts would have been more merciful, more in line with the Divine sentiment, and this would have hindered them from condemning the disciples, who the Lord declared were entirely guiltless of any violation of the Sabbath day commandment.
Similarly we may say today that the great lack of many critics and fault-finders is their lack of mercy, lack of love. Love is the fulfilling of the Law, and whoever has most of it will come nearest to the standard. The possession of love is always indicated by mercy-toward our friends, toward our brethren, toward the world, toward our enemies.
"1 counsel thee to buy of Me gold
tried in the fire,
THE Apostle Peter reminds us that the trial of our faith is much more precious than that of gold that perisheth, and that the end sought through such trial is that we may be "found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 1:7.) Not until we lay hold by faith upon the exceeding great and precious promises -- of joint-heirship with Christ in His coming Kingdom and glory -- which promises lead us to fulfil their conditions of consecration and self-sacrifice even unto death, is there any of the "gold" of the "Divine nature" in us.
But we have this treasure in the earthen vessels, and there is consequently much of alloy mixed with it. Hence the necessity that the gold be cast into the crucible for refining. And if we would purchase the "gold tried in the fire," it must be at the cost of faithful and constant submission to the discipline of the Lord in the fiery trials which are necessary to consume our dross and refine our gold. Wherefore, St. Peter says: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." (1 Pet. 4:12.) And St. Paul reminds us of the counsel of wisdom (Prov. 3:11, 12; Heb. 12:5-8), "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him, for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth."
"He Is Like a Refiner's Fire"
It would be idle for any of the Lord's consecrated people to hope to be made meet for the glorious inheritance of the saints without the refining processes of fiery trial; for St. Paul tells us that "the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." "If ye receive not chastisement [discipline, fiery trial], whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." (1 Cor. 3:13; Heb. 12:6-8.) And through the Prophet Isaiah the Lord tells His spiritual Israel, as well as His typical fleshly Israel, "I will turn My hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross and take away all thy tin." (Isa. 1 :25.) The Prophet Malachi, making special reference to the last days of this Age, the days of the Lord's presence, and the great refining work to be accomplished then, says: "Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He shall purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver." -- Mal. 3:2, 3.
Fiery trials are therefore to be expected by all of the Lord's people, especially in this day of the Lord. As surely as we are sons of God we shall have them ;and when they come we should promptly recognize their mission to us and see that we are exercised by them unto godliness, sobriety, and deep and fervent piety. "Now no chastening [discipline] for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward, it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." -- Heb. 12:11.
It is in the school of experience that we learn our most valuable lessons; and the ripest saints, in whom we find the deepest sympathy, the most patient forbearance, and the most tender helpfulness and consideration, are those who have been through the fire of affliction, and who have been rightly exercised thereby.
On the subject of Christian experience another has given some suggestions which are worthy of consideration:
"'What is your experience, brother? Tell us what the Lord has done for you. These are expressions with which the majority of professing Christians are familiar; and the responses to such a call from the leader of a meeting are generally a narration of the feelings or sensations experienced; some very thrilling, and others exceedingly common place: in short -- Christian experience from a prayer-meeting standpoint has become largely a matter of sensation. A man or woman may have known the Holy Scriptures from a child and taken them as a guide, may have followed the Savior and lived soberly, righteously and godly in this world, and yet, if he or she cannot relate an 'experience' after the approved order, they are almost unchristianized by some.
"Do not misunderstand me. I would not belittle anything by which a believer has been brought into communion with his God, or any sensation that may be the legitimate outgrowth of such communion.
"I do believe, however, that this religion of sensation has been fostered and encouraged until it has reached an abnormal growth. Turning to the Word for light, we find that the term, in the sense in which it is now used, is unknown. The method in conversion as well as in practice has been completely revolutionized since the days of the Apostles.
Christian Experience Eminently Practical
"What is experience? According to Webster it is 'wisdom gained from practice'; and, this definition is very appropriate for Christian as well as worldly experience. In Romans 5:3, 4, we read, 'We glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.' Christian experience is not merely sitting down quietly and letting the Spirit of God work in our hearts -- it is eminently practical, and it is impossible to divorce experimental from practical Christianity. He who would relate an experience of what the Lord has done for him must at the same time narrate what he has done for the Lord. It may do while we are nestlings to open our mouths with the incessant cry, Give! Give! But a time comes when we must put away childish things, and meet the stern realities of the new life. It is not sufficient to pray,, 'Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?' unless, when the service is shown us we immediately perform the duty, thus becoming doers of the Word.
"Christian experience is not the exaltation of feeling, or ecstacy. that finds expression only when inspired by the ardent songs, prayers, and exhortations of Christian fellowship; and he who is dependent upon such 'means of grace' for his vitality is but an infant in experience.
"Christian experience is 'putting off the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.'
"Christian experience is growth -- 'To grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ'; to be rooted and grounded in love, and grow up in all things like unto Him who is our Head.
"Christian experience is to build up a character, 'adding to faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.'
"Christian experience is to be laborers in the Lords vineyard, workers together with God; and it is to be soldiers of the Cross armed cap-a-pie with the whole armor of God, following the Captain of our salvation.
"Christian experience is visiting the widow and fatherless in their affliction, and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world. As an example of true Christian experience tile reader is referred to the experience of the Apostle Paul as recorded in 2 Cor. 11 and 12.
"It is in such schools as these that the Christian gains experience; and this is the true experience that worketh hope that maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts."
THE DATE of the Memorial Supper anniver sary this year falls on Tuesday, April 23, after six o'clock, according to the Jewish Calendar and reckoning, which it has been our custom in past years to follow. It is observed that this year the popular Cath olic and Protestant Passover has been calculated one month earlier than the the Jewish; the Catholic Easter falling on March 31, and the so-called "Good Friday," or the Passover, falling on March 29.
The reason for this discrepancy of a month is that Catholics and Protestants in general ignore the Jewish methods of determining the Passover, which are based upon both solar and lunar time. This is one of the years then in which, according to the Jewish usage, it is necessary to intercalate or add an extra month in order to harmonize -- the solar and lunar time The last or twelfth moth ordinarily ecclesiastical year is called Adar, and this thirteenth month is called Second Adar, or Ve-Adar. There was a parallel situation to this in the year 1921, at which time an explanation was made in these columns which it seems well to republish at this time in order that all may have the matter clearly in mind; especially as this is one of the years in which the matter of the proper date of the Passover will very probably be called in question. The explanation published in 1921, follows
"Our explanation for the discrepancy [of one month between the Catholic and Jewish Passover] this year  is, that from the standpoint of the Jewish calculation, which appeals to us as being the more logical and Scriptural, the March date for the Passover and Easter indicated by other Christians is in error. As is well known by all scholars, the Jewish month being governed largely by the moon's lunations -- from new moon to new moon is approximately 291/2 days, making 354 days in an ordinary lunar year. Last year  the Jewish year was reckoned as commencing about March 21st, and of course 12 lunations or 354 days would bring us to about March 9th, 1921, as the beginning of another year; hence the popular Passover and. Easter date this year  in the latter part of March. How ever, the highest Jewish authorities very properly call our attention to the fact that the ancient Hebrew calendar was not permanently fixed. The lunar year falls short of the solar year by near days, and because the Hebrew festivals were regulated not by the moon alone but also by he state of the harvest which depended upon the seasons, that is, upon the influence of the sun, became necessary to reconcile the length of the year when measured by lunations, to its length when measured by the motion of the sun. For this purpose an extra month was intercalated once in about every three years. In this way a lunar year was brought into accord with the solar and the calendar was made to correspond with the seasons.
"There are indications in the Scriptures that this was the case -- that the year was accounted by Moses to be governed by the sun as well as by the moon. Thus at the very beginning, in the account of the creation, we read in Gen. 1:14-16: 'And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years : And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also.' Both the greater and the lesser light are included as the sign of the seasons.
"Quoting further from a standard Jewish authority;
"'One thing is clear that the commencements of the Hebrew months were governed by the new moon or rather by the first visibility of the moon -- the phase which she was assumed to present when new. We know also that the year was rendered luni-solar by the intercalation of an extra month as necessity for it arose. In this way the seasons at which time the feasts and festivals were observed would be year by year restored to their proper places.'
"Now it happens according to the foregoing that this year, 1921, is what is called a 'Jewish Leap Year,' that is, an extra month is called for, making 13 months to the present Jewish year instead of 12. As the regular Jewish twelve months end about March 8th, this extra or thirteenth month would there commence. The name of the Jewish twelfth month is Adar, and the name of the extra, or thir teenth month is Ve-Adar, or Second Adar. It is never recognized or called Nisan in any sense and it is wholly contrary to Jewish custom celebrate a rate any of the Jewish festivities in Ve-Adar that are intended for the month Nisan. Consequently the first Jewish month Nisan, this year following the thirteenth month or Second Adar, would commence with the next lunation or new moon after the one of March 9th, which we have already indicated to be on April 8th -- the first new moon following the spring equinox.
"As confirming the above and as explaining further the necessity for the extra month to precede Nisan about' every third year, we submit the following from a standard Jewish authority
"'One of the Jewish ordinances was that a sheaf of barley should be offered before the Lord as the fiat fruits of the harvest. This was to be done in the Abib or month Nisan, immediately after the Passover on the second day of unleavened bread, which is the sixteenth day of the month. If it were found before this day had arrived that the barely would not be then ripe it was evident that the season according to the reckoning of lunar months had been accounted as arriving too early in the year. It must be made to come earlier. The first day of the Abib [Nisan] is approaching, the first day of the new year; the beginning of months. But by the sun the spring season has not arrived; the barley is not ready for the reapers; the lambs for the Passover are not yet fit to be killed. The first day of the ceremonial year must be postponed till the next lunation commences. The current year. which is corning to a close must be increased in length by 'another month.'
"If we should decide upon the March date this year for the Passover it would be some weeks of at least several days in advance of the time when the first fruits are ripe and ready to be offered, as we are advised by reliable authorities that the barley is not ripe in the warmest parts of Palestine before some time in the first half of April; therefore justifying the Jews in commencing Nisan this year as they have done -- one month later in order to fulfil all the requirements of the festival.
"Because the foregoing appeals to us as being both reasonable and Scriptural, we have this year  decided to accept and to recommend the Jewish calculation as to the beginning of the month Nisan, and therefore recognize April 22nd as Nisan 14, and the evening of April 21st as the appropriate time for keeping the Passover Feast. Additionally we submit a further brief word from Pastor Russell that may prove helpful:
"'The Jewish method of reckoning; based upon the phases of the moon; was necessarily different from ours, and it was therefore very much less easy to determine an exact beginning for their month. Especially was this the case when the spring equinox had a bearing upon the matter, and when, as was the case with the Jews, another type demands that the Passover should come at the time of the harvest. All who have knowledge on the subject will admit that it would be practically impossible to fix dates for the beginning of the Jewish year by lunar time, in harmony with the harvest season, without there being room for dispute and difference of opinion. From our Lord's standpoint, all that was settled for the people by the decision of the Scribes, whose business it was to fix a date as to the beginning of the new year, and the fourteenth day of that year became the established date for the Memorial. In other words, whether the Scribes fixed a date earlier or a date later would not have particularly mattered; the object was to have a uniform date and to recognize the fourteenth day of the first month at even."
It will be no doubt interesting to our readers to recall that the year 1910 also presented a parallel situation to that of 1921 and that of the present year. In 1910, "Good Friday" and Easter Sunday according to the Catholic usage fell on March 23rd and 25th respectively. That year was also a Jewish Leap Year, the Jews having intercalated an extra month. Brother Russell, ignoring the popular Passover and Easter determined by Protestants and Catholics, recommended to the brethren throughout the world the acceptance of the Jewish calculation of Nisan 14, and so we celebrated the Memorial that year on the evening of April 22nd. Note the explanation which Brother Russell gave in the Watch Tower, in the issue of April 1, 1910:
"The Christian Church originally kept the Passover Memorial as we do now, but in order to make the dates more regular, and also in order to drawn the minds of Christians away from the thought of following the Jewish precedents too closely, the method of reckoning the date was slightly altered. Thus the Jewish reckoning let the Passover fall where it might as respects the days of the week. But the change made the anniversary of our Lord's death to come always on a Friday, styled "Good Friday" and his resurrection date, therefore, to fall on the Sunday thereafter, "the third day," styled subsequently Easter Sunday. The Jewish reckoning of time was by the moon as well as by the sun. Thus the majority of years with them had twelve months, but occasionally one would have thirteen months. The Jewish reckoning of the Passover date begins to count with the first new moon after the spring equinox, the Passover date thus coming on the full moon fourteen days thereafter. Subsequently the Christian Church accepted the Friday near the first full moon after the spring equinox, even though the moon was new before the equinox. This explains the difference in dates this year , Good Friday, according to Catholic usage, falling on March 2, while the corresponding date according to Jewish reckoning, will be April 23. We celebrate the Memorial on the evening preceding. Yet it is not the hour or day or our Lord's death, but the fact that is chiefly important. This year a Memorial service will be in order on Friday evening, April 22, after six o'clock (Nisan 14)."
Now then, the year 1929 is also a Jewish Leap Year, and the thirteenth Jewish month, Second Adar, ends on April 9, and the new Ecclesiastical year commences with April 10; this being also near the appearance of the first new moon following the spring equinox, and in accordance also with the Jewish custom of determining the beginning of Nisan 1. Reckoning from April 10, the 14th of Nisan would fall on April 24, but would begin at sundown the evening before, or after six o'clock on the evening of April 23, which would therefore be the appropriate time for the brethren to observe the Memorial of our Lord's death.
"Still o'er Earth's sky the
clouds of anger roll,
"Yes, Earth, thou shalt arise;
thy Father's aid
"Then on your soil shall
deathless verdure spring.
"The sultry sands shall tenfold
VOL. XII. February 15, 1929 No. 4
"Holy See to Appear as a Sovereign State"
SCARCELY is the new year 1929 begun till there are matters and events developing and taking shape, which, from the standpoint of the faithful watchers, are of signal importance. Amongst such important items and considerations to which the Public Press is giving considerable ,prominence, is the Papal Roman question; that of conceding to the "Holy See" certain property and territorial rights that were taken from the Papacy in 1870. It is said that, "There is no doubt that negotiators who worked with full knowledge of the Holy See and the Italian Government, if without full authority, have reached an agreement on territorial as well as financial conditions. The question is now in the hand of the Pope and Premier to accept these conclusions and decide the time and means of carrying them out. The agreement is based on the cession by Italy to the Holy See of a small extension of territory lying southeast of the Vatican Gardens, including the villas of Bameleck and Coria-Pamphili, with extra territorial rights."
It is pointed out that "the settlement between Italy and the Vatican, if carried out on the lines described in the dispatch from Rome, will mean the restoration of the Pope to the temporal power that was stripped from him half a century ago, it was said last night by a Catholic authority here. The Pope once more will be recognized among the political as well as the spiritual rulers of the world, although his temporal power will not reach the same degree or cover as much territory as that of some of his predecessors.
"It will mean also, it was said on the same authority, that the Pope will feel free to travel, like any other ruler, and will no longer be known as the prisoner of the Vatican He would feel free to visit the United States or any other part of the world, if he chose to do so, it was added.
"For more than fifty years, since the Papacy lost its governmental power and its rich possessions in Rome, it was explained the Pope and his predecessors during that period have been 'voluntary' prisoners in the Vatican as a protest against what they considered the wrong done them in 1870. If this wrong is righted by the restoration of temporal power, even if it is more or less a gesture rather than a reality and the indemnification of the Papacy for the confiscation of its property, it was added, there would be no reason for the Pope and his successors to carry on the protest by self-imprisonment. He would feel that justice had been done, and would act accordingly.
"Pope Could Tax Subjects"
"The same authority interpreted the dispatch from Rome to indicate that the Papacy would revert, on a small scale, to the same status it enjoyed before 1870. The Pope would have the title and privileges of a Prince of a reigning house, and. would be empowered to carry on a complete self-government of his small domain in all branches -- executive, legislative, and judicial.
"He would have the power to tax his subjects and those who lived in his domain would be free from Italian taxation, laws, judicial processes, and other governmental powers. The Papal State would be within Italian soil, but would be independent of Italy. It would be a State within a State, like the little republic of San Marino, which is also situated in Italy.
"The proposed settlement was regarded here as an act of reconciliation extended by Premier Mussolini for the purpose of bringing about a better understanding among the Church and State elements in Italy. It was seen as thoroughly in line with the Fascist attempt to unify all elements an Italian society by gaining the powerful support of the Church in solidifying the Fascist State."
If the negotiations now underway should result in the restoration of the temporal power of the Pope, as seems probable, it will, of course, add considerable to the prestige and power of. the Roman Pontiff, and place him in a position to exercise a wider and greater influence among the powers of the earth. While none can definitely foresee or foretell the outcome and consequences of such developments, yet, these matters being closely connected with and related to symbolic prophecy, may well command the interest and careful observation of those who are watching the signs that mark the great and long predicted change from the old to the new order of things. Those who are possessed of true sobriety and the spirit of a sound mind will not attempt to do any wild speculating or guessing as to what is going to happen, because they recognize that all the interests of the true Church are bound up and are secure in the hands of Him who said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. It is merely as hints or indications, signs of the end of the Age that these items command the interest of the faithful watchers.
THE CRY OF PEACE, PEACE
Another matter of world-wide interest is the recent ratification of what is known as the Kellogg Peace Treaty by the United States Senate and regarded by the workers for peace as marking a most important advance in the establishment of permanent international peace. The substance of the treaty is that the nations agree to "condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another; that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be stopped except by pacific means."
It is said that "President Coolidge was represented as very happy that the Senate had acted favorably upon a matter which he regards as the most important act of his administration.
"The President believes that the Treaty will do more than anything else that has been done to stabilize the world, and it will go far toward preventing future wars. The Treaty was originally signed by fifteen major nations, including the United States. Forty-nine other nations have been asked to adhere, and of these, five have deposited pledges with the State Department and forty-one have signified their intent to adhere. Three have not yet been heard from."
Circumstances Leading to the Peace Pact
Mr. P. W. Wilson, writing in "The New York Times," of January 20, has presented an interesting review of the matter from which we are submitting a few extracts:
"The pact of peace, negotiated so modestly and ratified so suddenly, is not to be regarded merely as an isolated circumstance. It is the culmination of a long series of conferences and discussions, some failures and others successful, by which peace, as a constructive policy, was advanced. We need to look on the earlier picture before we examine the later picture, and to see how one of them was developed into the other.
"Of all such conferences, that which met at Paris ten years ago was incomparably the most dramatic. The men and women attending it could be numbered by the thousand. There were scores of envoys plenipotentiary who were the principals in the deliberations. They were surrounded by a miscellaneous multitude of statesmen and diplomatists, permanent officials and experts, historians, professors, secretaries, stenographers and press correspondents. The hotels were also crowded by agents of every kind, representing small nations which were struggling for liberty, difficult causes and special points of view. It was amid a bewildering whirlpool of intrigue, entreaty, propaganda, expostulation and menace that the conference labored over a colossal task.
"If the, conference was unprecedented, so was the war which led up to it. It was one of the many wars that have originated in Europe. But it was the first of European wars in which the fate of the Old World was decided by the intervention of the New World. Even that most remote of English-speaking democracies, New Zealand, sent a large army overseas. So with Australia; so with Canada. Last but not least, the United States recruited 4,000,000 men, of which vast and increasing force half had been sent to France. It was by far the largest host ever shipped across any ocean.
"The losses had been incalculable. Direct expenditure alone amounted to $186,000,000,000, or fully fifty times the sum spent annually by the United States Government The indirect cost of the war will never be known. There were 7,500,000 deaths in battle; and to this figure there must be added an immense mortality at various dates, among civilians as well as soldiers, due to wounds, disease, famine, and, in the case of about a million Armenians, cold-blooded massacre.
"The whole world was deafened by reverberating revolutions. The Military autocracies of Russia, of Germany and of Austria-Hungary, directly affecting 250,000,000 people, fell to the ground with a crash. The Islamic Caliphate, vested in the Sultan of Turkey, governing another 30,000,000 and guiding the spiritual vision of the entire Moslem world, crumbled into nothing.
"The most stable of governments was thus nervous, and everywhere the challenge of Russian communism, crude yet clear, with its attribution of all wars to the wickedness of capitalists, was heard as an ominous refrain."
"When They Shall Say Peace and Safety"
After reviewing the various proceedings and developments involving the creation of the League of Nations and leading up to the recent Anti-war Pact, this writer continues:
"The pact is more than a pledge. Mere paper cannot prevent war. But the pact does mean that the nations approach the whole problem of the future, and especially disarmament, having arrived at a new assumption, namely that war is outside the pale of public policy.
"The pact of peace is essentially a peoples' pact. It is the peoples of the world who are behind it. Like Magna Carta, like the Bill of Rights, like the Declaration of Independence the parchment is powerful because of the public opinion which has endorsed it. Within a few weeks the discussions of disarmament will be resumed at Geneva, and to those discussions the pact of peace is the condition precedent."
It is to be plainly observed that in view of this achievement the peoples of the world are looking hopefully into the future and believe that they have at last about attained their ideal-that of the abolition of war. This situation is particularly interesting to the "watchers," because the present cry of peace, peace, is one of the signs of the approaching end of the Age. In fact, as one watches the trend of international affairs today and observes the high state of confidence on the part of the multitudes with regard to the outlawing of war, he is reminded of the prophetic description of the present time and events: "When they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them." We may well understand that present events and circumstances indeed portend that peace on earth is closely approaching and that the proclamation by the herald angels is about to be realized, peace on earth, good will toward men. But we are bound to follow the Divine order in this matter of bringing in and establishing this long promised peace. And the more sure word of prophecy has determined long ago that all human effort will yet prove fruitless and that a final lesson regarding selfishness and the sinfulness of sin is yet to close up the great chapter of evil and prepare the way for the Kingdom of God and the reign of the Prince of Peace, who alone, in conjunction with His Bride and Joint-heir, the faithful saints of this Gospel Age, will establish peace on earth, good will toward men.
THE PROGRESS OF ZIONISM
The progress of Zionism also commands the earnest attention of the devout student as the year 1929 opens. In observing the efforts and activities in these days of the Jews who believe in the promises of God, that their lost heritage is to be restored, and considering the opposition and obstructions that appear to be in their way (often coming from within their own ranks), we are reminded of the situation that confronted the Jews at the conclusion of the seventy years servitude to the Kingdom of Babylon. The proclamation had gone forth that the days of captivity were ended and that they should return to their homeland. Yet many were. lacking in faith, for they saw what to them were insurmountable obstacles. There were those who raised one objection or another and sought to put opposition in the way of such as trusted in the Divine promises and who desired to be in harmony with the proclamation that had gone forth. So it is today. We are living in the time when Israel's "double" of punishment and desolation is about ended. A proclamation has already gone forth, announcing that the Jews may return to their homeland. Thus we read by Mr. Louis Lipsky, President of the Zionist Organization, that,
"With the issuing of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, a tremendous impetus was given to the Zionist Movement without a corresponding push to the Zionist Organization. The Balfour Declaration came as a bomb whose detonation shook the Jewish world. It displaced the obsolete. It turned to dust many a cherished prejudice. It made the redemption of Zion a persuasive appeal, and, for all practical purposes, did more for Zionism than years of cumulative propaganda. Under the influence of the Declaration, the Zionist Movement broke like a spring flood. It expanded and grew. It made itself felt in many avenues of life in ways strange and unexpected. It was diffused over a large area. Through its diffusion, it was not as self-conscious as, in the earlier days: It was not so potent or intelligent or determined. It has much naivete, but it displaced a great deal of the accumulated prejudice and habit which had stood in the way of a clear vision of the role Zionism was to play in the Jewish future."
Jewish Activities on the Increase
But though the way has been opened for the return of the Jews, there are difficulties and obstructions to be overcome. Some there are who wield a powerful influence amongst the Jewish race who have lost their faith in the ancient promises and predictions of the Prophets altogether. And they would hinder the efforts and labors of those who still have faith and who are doing all they can to further the movement of Zionism which nears the restoration of Palestine to the Jews.
The number of Jewish mass meetings that are being held in various parts of the country today for the purpose of expounding and elucidating the Jewish question and Zionism in general and enlisting new interest, is most impressive. In recent times there has been created what is known as a Jewish Agency which as explained by, Mr. Louis Lipsky, "means that the Jewish right and the Jewish responsibility for the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home. shall be exercised through a corporate responsibility. That is to say, the Jewish Agency gives reality and practicality to the purposes of the Mandate. Jews are not to be regarded as natives. Jews are not to be the subjects of an experiment. A National home is not to be made for them. There is to be autonomy. They are to be partners in the great enterprise of which they are to be the chief beneficiaries. But what kind of an agency, how it is to be constituted, what are to be its forms -- all that is a matter of detail to be worked out by Jews themselves, in this instance primarily by the Zionist Organization.
"What is called the Jewish Agency controversy in reality, aside from the objections of extremists, is, in effect, the attempt of the Zionist Organization, with its traditions and with its experience and with its constitution and statutes., to work out a form of partnership which will do justice both to Palestine and to the Zionist movement. It is with these difficulties that the Zionist Executive and the General Council have had to deal for five years."
While we may have hoped that greater progress of Zionism would have been made by this time, yet there is no doubt that everything has been proceeding according to the Divine order and providence. The marvelous changes in Palestine and in the status of the Jews in modern times are abundantly sufficient to establish our faith that these are the days when the "fig tree,," is putting forth, and the time in which those illustrious prophecies of Israel's ancient Prophets are beginning to be fulfilled; and therefore the further sign that we are living in close proximity to the fulfillment of our Lord's prayer.
SPIRIT-MADE TEACHERS VERSUS MAN-MADE TEACHERS
"He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that 1 have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshiping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands- having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." -- John 12:48; Col. 2:18, 19.
ALL TRUE progress in holy things and all growth in the spiritual life must be based upon a proper recognition of the authority of Christ and the Word of God in the Church. It would probably be safe to say that spiritual leanness and lack of progress in the Christian life are chargeable more than anything to the failure of Christians to properly "hold the Head" and to exalt the Word of God supreme in the Church. The Apostolic warning is against the wrong attitude which at all times has more or less imperiled the spiritual life of the Body of Christ in its larger gatherings as well as in its small companies. 'The warning is against the danger of looking too much to ourselves or to other men in the Church, and not sufficiently toward the Lord, who is indeed the Head of the Church, which is His Body. Some members arc represented as assuming the offices and, prerogatives of the Head's position, and ignoring the fact that one is the Head of the Church, even Christ, they are disposed in consequence of this improper regard of Christ, to think too highly of themselves and to imagine that the entire weight and importance of the Lord's cause devolves upon them; thus to assume too much leadership and responsibility.
Two Classes Reproved
Again the Apostle utters solemn warning for others less prominent in the Church against a recognition and support of such a wrong and unscriptural position, assuring them that their condescension is extreme, prejudicial to themselves and to the interests they would serve; that the angels, that is the messengers, the representatives of the Church (Rev. 1:20; 2:1) are not to, be worshiped, though they are to be held in high regard in proportion to their faithfulness, their devotion to the Lord, and their humility. The warning to such members is that such a humiliation as would ignore themselves entirely and place all the weight and responsibility and influence upon these angels or elders, would be Wrong and in violation of the Lord's will, and would indicate an unfaithfulness to Christ and a failure to rightly appreciate His arrangements.
Two classes, who take opposite extremes, are thus reproved, and the Apostle proceeds to. explain that the difficulty with both parties is a failure to hold the Head -- Christ, the only true Head of the Church -- in proper esteem. Whether therefore by being puffed up as the Lord's servants, exalting ourselves, usurping our Lord's place in the Church and ignoring His Word and arrangements, or whether on the other hand quietly submitting to such things and doing reverence to those why usurp the Lord's place in His Body -- in either case the difficulty is the same -- a failure to rightly exalt the Word of God and recognize the true Head and Authority.
Perils of Last Days
In 2 Timothy 3:1, the Apostle assures us that in the last days there will be perilous times; that "men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, milers, disobedient to parents [and higher authority in general], unthankful, unholy, . . . traducers, heady, high-minded . . . having a form of godliness, but ignoring the power thereof."
Surely this picture fits well to our day throughout the ranks of professing Christians, and it is not strange therefore that something of the same general spirit seeks to invade the communion of the saints -- the little companies of the consecrated who, are striving to be overcomes of the world and its spirit. The fact that the Apostle writes thus forcibly on this question does not signify any lack of sympathy on his part. And assuredly any reference that we are making to his words does not mean a lack of sympathy an our part. But this trouble is one that has been most grievous and has afflicted the Church all along through the Age, and is especially injurious to the brethren who may yield to such headiness; nothing is surer to sap spiritual vitality and to lead out into darkness, both natural and spiritual.
The Apostle James uttered a solemn warning against this danger which besets the more talented of the Lord's people. He writes, Be not many of you teachers, brethren, knowing that a man shall receive the stronger testing. It was because of the Apostle's love for the brethren, because of his high esteem for them, and because he appreciated their services and desired that they might be continued in the favor of the Lord, not only now but also in the everlasting future, that he felt it, necessary to press this point, not particularly in an individual way, but in a general way.
Should Reject All Human Authority
Again in these recent years it has become of the utmost importance that the brethren shall carefully consider the Lord's viewpoint of matters and re-member that He places a very low estimate upon the arm of flesh or the word of man. Everywhere throughout the Bible we read of the supreme importance to be attached to the Word of God; and throughout the New Testament emphasis is constantly given to Christ as the first and supreme authority in the Church; that the word of none others should be received or heeded, except they speak in full harmony with the Divine message.
Another who has evidently looked soberly and well into the lessons that are to be observed in connection with God's dealing with Israel through Moses, has presented that which see seems to be very sound reasoning.
"Israel had to hearken to 'the statutes and judgments' of Jehovah, and to nothing else. It was not to the commandments, traditions, and doctrines of men they were to, give ear, but to the very words of the living God, who had redeemed and delivered them from the land of Egypt -- the place of bondage, darkness, and death.
"It is well to bear this in mind. It will preserve the soul from many a snare, many a difficulty. We hear a good deal, in certain quarters, about obedience, and about the moral fitness of surrendering our own will and submitting ourselves to authority. All this sounds very well, and has great weight with a large class of very religious and morally excellent people; but when men speak to us about obedience, we must ask the question, Obedience to what? When they speak to us about surrendering our own will, we must inquire of them, To whom are we to surrender it? When they speak to us about submitting to authority, we must insist upon their telling us the source or foundation of the authority.
"This is of the deepest possible moment to every member of the household of faith. There are many very sincere and very earnest people who deem it very delightful to be saved the trouble of thinking for themselves, and to have their sphere of action and line of service laid out for them by wiser heads than their own. It seems a very restful and very pleasing thing to have each day's work laid out for us by some master-hand. It relieves the heart of a great load of responsibility, and it looks like humility and self-distrust to submit ourselves to some authority. But we are bound, before God, to look well to the basis of the authority to which we surrender ourselves, else we may find ourselves in an utterly false position."
A Fabric of Superstition
After referring to gross violations throughout the Catholic system of the Apostolic example and precept regarding the true headship and authority in the Church, and after alluding to various offices of authority which have been created in the Church by Papacy, this writer asks, "Where within the covers of the New Testament is there anything in the most remote degree, [resembling such offices of power and headship in the Church] ? Where can we find an authority for any such office?" And he answers, "There is absolutely no such thing nor the shadow of it." And we may in these days with the same fervency and emphasis ask, Where within the covers of the New Testament is there anything that warrants the creation of authority and power over the Church centering in one man or company of men? Where is there any authorization in the Bible for any man or company of men in the form of an organization or what not to rise up in the Church and call themselves "God's organization" or "channel," and claiming to be inspired with power and authority to control and direct the Church in respect to all matters of doctrine and service? And we can answer with regard to any such situation existing today, in the language of the writer we are quoting, that "We have no hesitation in pronouncing the whole system from foundation to top-stone a fabric of superstition, alike opposed to the voice of nature and the voice of God."
Those Who Have the Rule Over You
It is true that in the primitive Church there were those who were .placed in positions as teachers of the Church and there are such exhortations as that found in Hebrews 13:17: "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they, watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you:" Again reference is made to such as these in 1 Corinthian 16:15, 16; also in 1 Peter 5:1-4.
It may be asked. by some, Do not these passages of Scripture set forth. the principle of recognizing and obeying certain men in the Church? and if so, how can we object to human authority? In answer to these questions we can do no better than quote again
"Wherever Christ imparts a spiritual gift, whether it be the gift of teaching, the gift of rule, or the gift of pastorship, it is the bounden duty and privilege of Christians to recognize and appreciate such gifts. Not to do so would be to forsake our own mercies. But then we must bear in mind that in all such cases the gift must be a reality -- a plain, palpable, bona-fide, divinely given thing. It is not a man assuming a certain office or position, or being appointed by his fellow to any so-called ministry. All this is perfectly worthless, and worse than worthless; it is a daring intrusion upon a sacred domain which must, sooner or later, bring down the judgment of God.
"All true ministry is of God, and based upon the possession of a positive gift from the Head of the, Church; so that we may truly say, No gift, no ministry. In all the passages quoted above, we see positive gift possessed, and actual work [of the Spirit] done. Moreover, we see a true heart for the lambs and sheep of the flock of Christ; we see Divine grace and power.
Earmarks of the True Teacher
"So also when the Apostle exhorts the Thessalonians to 'know' and 'esteem' certain persons, on what does he found his exhortation? Is it upon the mere assumption of a title, an office; or a position? Nothing of the kind. He grounds his appeal upon the actual, well known fact that these persons were 'over them, in the Lord,' and that they admonished them. And why were they to 'esteem them very highly in love'? Was it for their office or their title? No; but 'for their work's sake.' And why were the Corinthians exhorted to submit themselves to the household of Stephanas? Was it because of an empty title or assumed office? By no means, but because 'they addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.' They were actually in the work. They had received gift and grace from Christ, and they had a heart for His people. They were not boasting of their office or insisting upon their title, but giving themselves devotedly to the service of Christ, in the persons of His dear people.
"Now this is the true principle of ministry. It is not human authority at all, but Divine gift and spiritual power communicated by Christ to His servants, exercised by them, in responsibility to Him, and thankfully recognized by His saints. A man may set up to be a teacher or a pastor, or he may be appointed by his fellows to the office or title of a pastor; but unless he possesses a positive gift from the Head of the Church, it is all the merest sham, a hollow assumption, an empty conceit; and his voice will be the voice of a stranger, which the true sheep of Christ do not know and ought not to recognize.
"But, on the other hand, where there is the divinely gifted teacher, the true, loving, wise, faithful, laborious pastor, watching for souls, weeping over them, waiting upon them, like a gentle, tender nurse, able to say to them, 'Now we live, if ye, stand fast in the Lord' -- where these things are found, there will not be much difficulty in recognizing and appreciating them. How do we know a good dentist? Is it by seeing his name on a brass plate? No; but by his work. A man may call himself a dentist ten thousand times over, but if he be only an unskillful operator, who would think of employing him?
False Ministry Rests on Human Authority
"Thus it is in all human affairs, and thus it is, in the matter of ministry. If a man has a gift, he is a minister; if he has not all the appointment, authority, and ordination in the world could not make him a minister of Christ. It may make him a minister of religion; but a minister of religion and a minister of Christ -- a minister in Christendom and a minister in the Church of God, are two totally different things. All true ministry has its source in God; it rests on Divine authority, and its object is to bring the soul into His presence, and link it on to Him. False ministry, on the contrary, has its source in man; it rests on human authority, and its object is to link the soul on to itself. This marks the immense difference between the two. The former leads to God; the latter leads away from Him; that feeds, nourishes, and strengthens the new life; this hinders its progress, in every way, and plunges it in doubt and darkness. In a word, we may say, true ministry is of God, through Him, and to Him; false ministry is of man, through him, and to him. The former we prize more than we can say; the latter we reject with all the energy of our moral being."
Those Who Would Steady the Ark
In every case where the important question is raised in the Church of the authority of man-made heads and teachers, the true disciple finds himself instinctively driven to inquire at the only true fountain and source of light and wisdom on this subject; and there he learns over and over again the great truth that Christ alone is the Head of the Church and that every argument must rest upon that basis. Let none therefore feel in these days for a single moment that everything will go to pieces unless they steady the ark -- that they are the main spoke in the Divine program in any little quarter of Zion. For all such self-conceited ideas are traitorous as respects the Captain of our Salvation, for He has told us, and we believe His word, "Without Me ye can do nothing." Every member of the Body of Christ whom the Lord has in any sense of she word set in the Church to serve His cause, should realize that he is not at all essential to the development of the Divine Plan, that it is favor pure and simple that he has been granted a share in connection with it, that his blessings day by day more than compensate any little service and sacrifice he may be able to render. So far from feeling heady and officious he should feel humbled by the thought that he is permitted to have any part in the great Plan of God as a servant amongst his brethren, and he should realize distinctly that so surely as the Lord is the Head of the Church, any who cease to occupy positions of trust in a humble manner will be debased, will lose the privileges and opportunities, perhaps with injury to themselves and to others.
Nor should those meek and humble brothers and sisters in the Church quietly permit any one of their number to exalt himself and assume a position or office amongst them as a Divine "channel" which they are told they must obey. To yield to such they are not only doing the brother or company of brethren who assume such office an injury, and encouraging them in a wrong course, but 'they are disloyal to the real Head of the Church. He who submits to such conditions and language demonstrates that he does not properly appreciate the liberty wherewith Christ makes free, and demonstrates either that he is but a babe in Christ, or that he has gone to sleep as respects a proper watchfulness for the honor of the Church and of the Head of the Church.
The poorest and weakest and most insignificant member of the Body is in the Lord's estimation better qualified to teach, than is one who vaunteth and puffeth up himself and affects to teach in the Church in the position. of the Head. Mark the Apostle's words, "Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding firmly the Head, from whom the whole Body, being supplied and compacted together by means of the joints and ligaments, grows with the increase of God."
True Ministers do not Parade Their Authority
How important it is in these times that every true disciple of Christ shall be very familiar with the marks of a true teacher, a spiritual guide in Israel! "In all cases where there is real gift and grace, it is a sweet privilege to obey and submit ourselves, inasmuch as we discern Christ in the person and ministry of His beloved servants.
"There is no difficulty, to a spiritual mind, in owning real grace and power. We can easily tell whether a man is seeking, in true love, to feed our souls with the bread of life, and lead us on in the ways of God, or whether he is seeking to exalt himself, and promote his own interests. Those who are living near the Lord can readily discern between true power and hollow assumption. Moreover, we never find Christ's true ministers parading their authority, or vaunting themselves of their office; they do the work and leave it to speak for itself. In the case of the blessed Apostle Paul, we find him referring again and again to the plain proofs of his ministry -- the unquestionable evidence afforded in the conversion and blessing of souls. He could say to the poor misguided Corinthian,, when, under the influence of some self-exalting pretender, they foolishly called in question his apostleship, 'Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me examine yourselves.'
"This was close, pointed dealing with them. They themselves were the living proofs of his ministry. If his ministry was not of God, what and where were they? But it was of God, and this was his joy, his comfort, and his strength. He was an Apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Slim from the dead. He gloried in the source of his ministry; and as to its character, he had but to appeal to a body of evidence quite sufficient to carry conviction to any right mind. In his case, it could be truly said, it was not the speech, but the power. Thus it must be, in measure, in every case. We must look for the power: we must have reality.
The Self-Emptied Servant of Christ
"Shall we be told, We must not judge? We are bound to judge. 'Beware of false prophets.' How can we beware if we are not to judge? But how are we to judge? 'By their fruits ye shall know them.' Can the Lord's people not tell the difference between a man who comes to them in the power of the Spirit, gifted by the Head of the Church, full of love to their souls, earnestly desiring their true blessing, seeking not theirs but them -- a holy, gracious, humble, self-emptied servant of Christ; and a man who comes with a self-assumed or a humanly conferred title, without a single trace of anything Divine or heavenly either in his ministry or in his life? Of course they can; no one in his senses would think of calling in question a fact so obvious.
"But finally, in the second chapter of Revelation, we find the Church at Ephesus commended for having tried those who said they were Apostles and were not. How could this be if we are not to judge? Is it not most evident to the reader that an utterly false use is made of our Lord's words in Matthew 7:1: 'Judge not, that ye be not judged,' and also of the Apostle's words in 1 Corinthians 4:5: 'Therefore judge nothing before the time'? It is impossible that Scripture can contradict itself; and hence, whatever be the true meaning of our Lord's 'Judge not,' or the Apostle's 'Judge nothing,' it is perfectly certain that they do not, in the most remote way, interfere with the solemn responsibility of all Christians to judge the gift, the doctrine, and the life of all who take the place of preachers, teachers, and pastors in the Church of God.
"It will ever be the aim and object of all true ministers of Christ to lead those to whom they minister in the true path of obedience to the Word of God. The chapter which lies open before us [Deut. 5], as indeed the entire Book of Deuteronomy, shows us very plainly how Moses, that eminent servant of God, ever sought and diligently labored to press upon the congregation of Israel the urgent necessity of the most implicit obedience to all the statutes and judgments of God. He did not seek any place of authority for himself; he never lorded it over God's heritage. His one grand theme, from first to last, was obedience. 'This was the burden of all his discourses -- obedience, not to him, but to his and their Lord."
The Pathway of Humility
All whom the Lord has set in the Body, either in a humble position or in a conspicuous place, may well be admonished to remember the Apostle's words that as our Lord humbled Himself, and was subsequently exalted, it demonstrates the principle at work in the Father's program under which all of His Royal Priesthood must humble themselves if they would in due time be exalted. The Apostle's concluding argument is, "Humble yourselves, therefore, brethren, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time." It is important to always remember that the present is not the proper time for exaltation; to elevate ourselves or others under present conditions is to incur the greater danger of a fall; hence, all who are earnest and of humble heart should both watch and pray lest they enter into temptation along this line, which from the very beginning of the Gospel Age has been the most serious stumbling-block in the pathway of this class. We remember that it was amongst the Apostles themselves that the argument took place as to which would be greatest in the Kingdom. Let us also remember our Lord's words of reproof to them, "Except ye humble yourselves and become as little children, ye can in no wise enter into the Kingdom." Thus our Lord marks humility as one of the prime essentials of a place in the Kingdom. Only those who have learned well this lesson at the present time would be qualified to discharge the responsibilities in connection with those future glorious offices that will be theirs when they are seated with Christ in His throne.
Highest Place is Lying Low
Let us then have faith and patience to await the Lord's due time to bestow the true honors and the true exaltation. Much of the endeavor to grasp and wield .authority in the Church is at first undertaken with the best of intentions, with the desire to do and to be in the highest interests of the Church. In such cases, faith is not strong enough to realize how unnecessary we are to the Divine Plan and how able the Lord is to overrule every incident and circumstance according to the Divine will. More faith in the Lord's power to regulate the affairs of the Church will counteract largely the efforts of some of His people to run the Church's interests along lines of their own wisdom and ability. We then need to remember that He is able, He is willing to work all things according to the counsel of His own will, and we will do well to remember also that our highest place is lying low, that the greatest mastery is self-mastery, and that whatever success we might have in usurping the place and authority of our Lord and. His Word, would undoubtedly react unfavorably to us in the end. Hence, in self-preservation as well as in the interest of the Church and in honor of the Lord, we must keep self under, even as the poet has so well presented this thought:
"O! to be nothing, nothing,
The Apostle's example and words should ever be borne in memory: "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants. for Jesus' sake." -- 2 Cor. 4:5.
IS LIFE worth living? What a question! Who would die? Glad youth replies, buoyant with hope, unfettered with care, the ruddy cheek glowing with health, the eye sparkling with pleasure. How sweet to be, to think, to move, to drink of joy on every hand. Oh, who could part with life?
Is life worth living? 'Tis youth again gives answer, but hope has fled. The pale face, emaciated form, and sunken eye betoken affliction's heavy hand, with days and nights of anguish and unrest: Oh what is life to me! -- to be, and suffer. Life is a synonym of pain, and time means torture.
And what has life for you, O man of riper years! busy from early morn till close of day. Has labor ought of joy that one should care to live? Talk not to me of giving up to plan and do, gaining of knowledge, wealth, honor's wreath, and fame's fair title. 'Tis true, life has its trials, cares, its stormy days, but these are only fleeting shadows that serve to gild the intervening time with brighter splendor. But again an answer comes from him who has reached the meridian of life in our day. Misfortune on the right hand and the left. Life to me means toil for naught. Affection has no sooner settled firm around earth's fairest blossoms than death puts an end to all our cherished hopes. Friends are gained but to be lost again. Honor is a bubble to be burst by the first foul breath of jealousy. The cup of pleasure scarce is lifted to the lips till dashed to earth again. To judge the future by the past, what has life in store that I should crave it?
And what of life? 'Tis now the gray-haired veteran gives reply. The weight of years has bent the once proud form, furrowed the cheek and brow, and robbed the senses of their acuteness. Alone, and trembling on the verge of the grave, memory of younger days is all there is left of comfort. The days of the years of my pilgrimage have been few and full of sorrow. The beacon lights of pleasure, wealth and glory are as fleeting as the moments we employ in their pursuit, as changeful as the firefly, and if secured are only vanity. Humanity's portion is, to be, to hope, to hover between its fruition and despair, and end in death, fitting finale of the fitful dream.
But Christian, what say you of life? It is our first and greatest blessing, the, preface to eternity, the time in which true happiness may be forever gained. To look not for the present earthly joy, knowing full well that the afflictions, trials, and temptations which abound are means by which God proves me, whether I will do His sovereign will. What virtue in obeying Him if there are no desires of my own to disregard? How may I prove Him to be the chief object of my affections, and not be called upon to deny myself for His sake? Life affords the opportunity to battle for immortality, to struggle for an existence that shall prove eternal. They who use it for a baser purpose are void of understanding. The curse of God now rests upon the land. We need not think to find our heart's desires where such a blighting curse exists. But He has promised to remove all evil in His own good time, when, with His blessing here instead, happiness shall be 'ours. Rejoicing in His love so freely manifested in the gift of His only Son, who even died to redeem us from our present sin-cursed state, gladly do I seek to follow Him, scorning all that earth now has in store, and present my body a living sacrifice to God, a reasonable service. I am made conformable unto His death, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection. I rejoice in His self-denials, and partake of His sufferings, that I may share in His joy and glory. Glory to God in the highest! for the being and time by which I may work out so great a destiny. Whatever may be my portion now, I praise His name for life; for I look not at the things that are seen, they are temporal, but at the things that are not seen, which He has promised, for they are eternal. "He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it." "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Those who live to make the most they possibly can of earthly objects through their present fleshly nature. are doomed to bitter disappointment. This life can prove blessing only when lived for God. -- Selected.
"The hour cometh, and now is, when
the true worshipers
IN REVIEWING the recorded prayers of the Bible one finds it comparatively easy to determine the times or dispensation in which they were uttered, by the general character and style of the worship and petitions offered. Those simple and childlike prayers regarding temporal matters and trivial incidents of domestic life belong to the Patriarchal Age. In the subsequent Age a more solemn tone is to be observed, and we find in the days of Moses that matters of national importance are the burden of the petitions, even ritual making its appearance (Deut. 26:5-15); the very words with which the first-fruits should be presented being specified. Regular hours for the daily prayers seem to have been set aside by this time. Various positions were assumed in prayer, apparently according to the importance of the occasion-standing for formal devotions, and kneeling or even prostrating oneself on the ground to. indicate extreme emotion or contrition. On reaching the New Testament times we find that expressing thanks before meat had become a custom; but it is the spiritual tone that distinguishes the Christian's prayer from that of any previous dispensation.
When Men Began to Pray
Prayer is realized as such an essential experience to the Christian -- his breath of spiritual life, that it is with a measure of surprise we find that the first prayer was not offered until our first parents had been out of the Garden of Eden 235 years. (Gen. 4:26) This conclusion has appeared so unreasonable to some that various efforts have been made to find more acceptable translations. The margin of the King James translation suggests that "Then began men to call themselves by the name of the Lord," a thing which there is no evidence of their ever having done. Another suggests, "About that time began a more complete separation of the pious from the ungodly," which really took place long before, when Cain was driven from his home. The Hebrew warrants the reading, "Then began men profanely to call upon the name of the Lord." It hardly seems possible, however, that any of Adam's little family could -- so early in his life-time have forgotten the God of the Garden and have begun the worship of the stars or stones. The suggestion that the reference is to public prayer was made by one who had little faith in the Bible statement as to the extent of the earth's population at that time.
The communion which Adam had with God's representative in the Garden is to be considered as conversation rather than as prayer, as we know it. Some months or years later the offering of sacrifice was an expression of Abel's seeking after the Lord; but it was not until Noah came forth from the ark that the first altar was erected. About four hundred years later Abraham, at the end of his five-hundred-mile journey from Haran in Mesopotamia to the promised land, erected the second one, though it was not until the building of his next altar that he "called upon the name of the Lord," linking prayer with the worship of sacrifice. The altar was situated as is ours, between Bethel and Hai (the heap) -- with an accumulation of weaknesses and failures behind us, we look toward the dwelling place of our God. -- Gen. 12:8.
Prayer in Abraham's Day
The next allusion to prayer finds Abraham at the same altar, but between these two occasions is also the first record of a failure on his part. A famine is in the land, and heeding the cravings of the flesh, he turns to Egypt for help instead of clinging to the Lord's promise. While sojourning, there is a further proof given that "the father of the faithful" had something yet to learn of trust, and the matter is recorded perhaps that we who are weak might have hope that the same God whose providences, in due time developed Abraham will also "work in us to will and to do of His good, pleasure." Instead of giving up in despair when he had fallen under the temptation of the flesh, Abraham returned to the altar between Hai and Bethel and no doubt it was a prayer of real contrition that ascended there at that time.
"There is further evidence of need of development, in the words of his prayer recorded for us. The measure of doubt in his character then was later to give way to absolute trust. Comparing this prayer of Gen. 15:2, 3 with that of Gen. 17:18, we find the growth already commenced. Perhaps a measure of trust was shown also in his acceptance of Sarah's offer when she suggested her willingness to make the greatest sacrifice possible for her to have made -- to step aside that her age might not hinder the Lord from fulfilling His promise to her laved one. This must not be considered an evidence of a lack of faith on her part, far she had not yet been included in the promise. In Ishmael we have the proof of her love for Abraham and of her faith in the Lord's promise, which she appreciated to such an extent that she was willing to go even to such great lengths that it might be secured to her house.
The skepticism back of Abraham's laugh, when the promise is made that the hundred-year-old man, and Sarah, only ten years younger, shall have a son to comfort their old age, is somewhat offset by the beautifully unselfish cry of father-love recorded in the next verse. (Gen. 17:18.) "O that Ishmael might live before Thee" is the cry of a loving father, who for thirteen years had nourished and trained the son in whom, during all that time, he had hoped the promise would be fulfilled. The new son promised through Sarah cannot diminish that father-love, though the strange prophecy was still ringing in his ears, "He will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him." (Gen. 16:12.) Abraham was not left in doubt, but immediately had the answer, "As for Ishmael, I have heard thee."
The Heavenly Visitors
A beautiful pastoral scene open's before us in the next chapter, where the father of the faithful drives his hard bargain with the Lord, after giving us a fine example of hospitality, modestly calling the best his larder could afford, "a morsel of bread." All that he could do for the heavenly visitors was done -- water was brought to cleanse and refresh their feet, and they were invited to the shade of a tree, there to partake of a quickly spread feast. Again the angel assures Abraham that Sarah is to be the mother of the heir of the promise; but she overhearing from within her tent, finds her faith not quite sufficient for such a miracle, and laughs "within herself." Instead of a severe reproof, the angel endeavors to strengthen the weak faith by reminding her that nothing is too great for Jehovah to accomplish.
The angelic visitors reward Abraham's hospitality by divulging to him the purpose of their visit to that locality. Sodom was to be destroyed, its sin blotted out. Abraham was yet an imperfect man; he had not yet come into his (promised possession, but the angel reasoned: "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?" Made bold by this sign of confidence, he endeavors to save the city if but fifty righteous should be found there, but is not satisfied when he has the assurance that the presence of so many would save it. Instead, the number is gradually reduced until he has the promise that ten righteous souls would save the city. We surmise that the Lord was pleased with this evidence ,of mercy in Abraham's disposition, in that there was not even a word of rebuke for his effort to free those whom the Lord had said must die.
Perhaps it is no more displeasing to the Lord when, in our day, some endeavor to find a way of escape for those on whom the sentence of the Lord rests. Having presented his case, we read that Abraham returned to his place. The matter was now in the Lord's hands, and the outcome would be for the best. It was this confiding trust in the righteous Judge, together with his merciful heart, that made him the "friend of God."
Abraham's conduct is a strange mixture of qualities, perhaps pleasing to the Lord, though to some extent in conflict. Acknowledging himself to be but dust and ashes before the Lord, he comes boldly to insist that the Judge of all the earth do justice.
Jacob Prevails with God
Lot's presence in Sodom might delay its destruction, but could not prevent it. We who have learned something of the Lord's plans in these last days cannot pray that this present evil world shall be spared one moment after the last of the Spirit begotten ones shall be taken out of it. There is a limit to His endurance. "Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to Me; for I will not hear thee" (Jer. 7:16), would seem to apply as fully to the antitypical destruction as to the typical. No one will be found to stand in the gap and intercede for them. (Ezek, 22:30, 31.) Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness. Little does the world realize the preserving influence of the salt of the earth.
The petitions already alluded to were in connection with visions or angel visitations. Such an approach as we make to God in prayer is recorded for the first time in Gen. 25:12-14, in the account of Eliezer's visit to Haran to secure a bride for Isaac. How like is his test to the one the Holy Spirit puts upon us! He would find the maid who would "do good unto all men as she had opportunity." Rebecca did not wait to strike a bargain or even to inquire what kind of a prize she was to get if she gave him the requested drink of water, but supplied it without question and gave water to the camels also. Rebecca had learned to think of others.
The same disposition is found to some extent in Jacob, one of whose prayers is the next recorded -- a most devout, fervid and successful petition. Fearing the estranged brother, whom he is about to meet, he sends three droves of cattle over the brook as presents, and then had "the mother with the children" follow them. To the skeptic this looks like a lack of faith. He very properly was doing all he could to appease his brother, having already approached the throne on his knees, acknowledging his unworthiness and weakness, reminding the Lord that he is there according to His instructions, and begging aid. Left there alone in the dark with God, he is suddenly assaulted apparently by one of Esau's men sent to murder him. In the "ascending of the morning" the angel is revealed by a miracle. The dawn of the new day brings the angel's blessing, the banishing of his imagined trouble, and the embrace of a loving brother. He had done what was in his power to answer his own petition and the Lord was not slow in rewarding him. The battle in the night was as much a part of the answer as the victory and blessing of the morning. If we but prevail with God, He will prevail over man and circumstances. His greatest mercies are often hidden behind the darkest clouds.
Nehemiah Draws Near to God
Passing on into later times when the posterity of Abraham were being dealt with as a nation, we observe the further progress of prayer. Many of the mighty acts of Jehovah had been seen through the centuries giving fresh grounds for faith, reverence, and a recognition of the Lord's right to perform in every way according to the counsel of His own will. It was in the days of Nehemiah that we have this expression of prayer: Nehemiah was a young Jew of one of the prominent families of the Babylonian captivity and occupied a confidential position with Artaxerxes, the Persian king, a position somewhat similar to the office of Minister of State.
Though possessed of wealth and enjoying the king's favor and in every way advantaged, so far as this world's affairs were concerned, Nehemiah's heart was not surfeited with his earthly blessings and privileges, comforts and advantages. He was thoroughly devoted to the Lord and to the interests of his people. Having learned of the conditions in Judea in connection with the return from Babylon, his prayer was for the Lord's blessing and assistance to the intent that the good promises of the Lord respecting His holy city and land might be fulfilled. (Neh. 1:1-11.) Nehemiah does not give us the words of all his prayers for we learn from other parts of the narrative that he prayed after this manner for four months before he began to have an answer. What we read therefore is supposed to be a general outline of the sentiments which he expressed in various forms at different times, praying without ceasing during the four months. Of course during all this time he attended to his duties, but this prayer was always in his heart, the sentiment of his mind, and more or less associated with all his thoughts and plans and arrangements.
His Open Confession of Sin
Humility and meekness were outstanding features of his prayers: He entreated, "Let Thine ear now be attentive, and Thine eyes open, that Thou mayest hear the prayer of Thy servant, which I pray before Thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel Thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against Thee; both I and my father's house have sinned." No proper prayer can be offered to the great Creator that does not acknowledge in some manner the weaknesses, deficiencies, imperfections, and sins of those who approach the throne of grace. As the Apostle declares, even we who are new creatures in Christ approach the throne of heavenly grace to find mercy and grace to help in every time of need. But our boldness, our courage, is not that of self-confidence, but of confidence in Him who loved us and bought us with His precious blood, in Him who died for our sins and under whose covering robe we have peace, forgiveness, harmony with God. Nehemiah was very open in his confessions, and we believe that such an attitude is the proper one for all who would approach the Lord. Sins and weaknesses should be confessed to the Lord, however they may be reasonably screened from the eyes of others while we are seeking to do our best in walking not after the flesh but after the Spirit.
The Lord did respond to Nehemiah's prayer by granting him the opportunity of being associated in the rebuilding of the city and the placing of it upon a more satisfactory and permanent foundation, but it was not God's time for fulfilling all the gracious promises that He had made to that nation. It was not for Nehemiah to know the mysteries of the Divine Plan as they entwined in all the affairs of the Jewish nation and held them together as a separated people for several hundred years, until Messiah was sent unto them to gather to Himself the Israelites indeed in whom there was no guile, and to reject, to blind, to give over to be scattered amongst the nations the remainder of the Jewish people. The Lord therefore in hearing Nehemiah's prayer merely granted him the blessings, privileges, and opportunities possible for him at that time.
Our Privileges in This Dispensation of the Spirit
The highest and most advanced progress in prayer is realized after the Advent of our dear Redeemer, whose meritorious and all-sufficient sacrifice opened up and made possible the dispensation of the Spirit. It is still the way of faith, for without faith it is impossible to please God. The prayers and worship of those who now come unto God and commune with Him are such as becometh sons of God who have escaped all condemnation and who are justified freely from all things. Therefore, we come, saying, "Our Father which art in heaven." While such believers and sons are also servants of God, yet it is not in any spirit of servile bondage that these approach unto Jehovah. The Master noted the distinction between the privileges of this Age and those of the preceding times, when He said, I have not called you servants, but I have called you friends, and have accordingly made certain revelations unto you as unto friends.
Our privilege then in this dispensation is that we approach God in the fullness of the Spirit as unto our Father, and we are admonished to come in faith, nothing doubting, that is, not doubting the genuineness of our relationship to Him as children of the highest: What a vast field there is then open to us in this matter of prayer! It is not any. wonder that this privilege of entering the Divine presence and communing with God concerning the innermost secrets of our hearts, is so great that many have not exercised the faith to enter in and avail themselves of it as fully as they might; and so the poet has taught us to sing:
"O, what peace we often forfeit!
Others there are however who are full of faith and obedient trust in the Lord, who "go up at once to possess the land" and to embrace whole-heartedly the privileges and blessings that belong to their relationship as sons of God. These also sing in the spirit,
"Have we trials and temptations?
So it should be with all of the Lord's people of spiritual Israel. The things which we have only a slight desire for we may mention once or twice at the throne of grace, but those things which lie very close to our hearts become our continual prayer, associated in our minds with all of life's duties and interests, the heart gravitating continually toward the thing we have desired of the Lord, and on suitable opportunities repeating to Him the request -- making sure that the thing we request is in accord with His promises. This is the kind of praying which the Lord commended saying, "Men ought always to pray and not to faint" -- that the Lord's people ought to continue asking for the right things with some degree of persistency, and should not grow weary, hopeless, faithless, faint in their hearts.
Answers Long Delayed
Doubtless there are many reasons why the Lord does not promptly grant such of our requests as are in accordance with His will, in harmony with His Word. We may not know all of these reasons, but some of them are apparent. Undoubtedly one reason for the Lord's delay in answering us often is to test the strength and depth of our desires for the good things that we request of Him. For instance, He informs us that He is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to us who ask than are earthly parents to give good things to their children: yet the giving of His Holy Spirit is a gradual process, and we are enabled to receive it only in proportion as we are emptied of the worldly or selfish spirit. It requires time to thus become emptied of self and prepared for the mind of Christ -- in some it requires longer for this than in others, but all need emptying in order to, receive the refilling. He that seeketh findeth, but the more he seeketh the more he findeth; to him that knocketh it shall be opened, but his continual knocking and his increasing interest in the knocking means his increasing desire to enter; so that as the door of privilege, of opportunity springs slowly open before him, his courage and strength increase as he seeks to avail himself oaf the opening, and thus every way the blessing is greater than if the Lord were to answer the petitions more hastily.
"Thy Will not Mine Be Done"
Whenever we think of prayer and answers thereto we should remember our Lord's words, "If ye abide in Me and, My words abide in you, ye may ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you." (John 15 :7.) Ah, there are conditions in this statement. Those who abide in Christ must have gotten into Him by faith, repentance, and consecration, and to abide in Him means that the faith will abide, the repentance for sin and opposition to it will abide, and the consecration to the Lord and His service will abide and be manifest.
The other condition also is a weighty one: "If My Word abide in you." How evident it is that the Lord meant to associate Himself and His Word, the Scriptures, in the minds, in the hearts, in the lives, in the prayers of all who are truly His. We must search the Scriptures to know the will of the Lord, to know what He has promised and what He has not promised, to know what we may ask and what we may not ask four. and ascertaining these, the fully consecrated one will not want to be, to have or to: do anything except that Which will be pleasing to- the Lord in respect to him -- "Thy will not mine be done, O Lord," is his prayer. And when this position has been reached we can readily see that whatever would, be asked by one thus well informed respecting the Divine promises and fully submissive to the Divine will, would be things which God would be well pleased to grant in answer to his requests.
We are to think of our Heavenly Father as rich and benevolent, kind and generous, yet wise as well as loving. We are to suppose that He will have pleasure in giving us the desires of our hearts if those desires are in harmony with His Plan, which plan He has already framed on such lines as to include our very highest and best interests and those of all His creatures. His well informed children can have all the desires of their hearts because their hearts are in full accord with the Lord, and they desire nothing of the Lord except the good things of His purpose and, promise.
"Out of the weary shades of
"From mountain height the
"Beyond the storm king's
"For we are not ignorant of his devices." -- 2 Cor. 2:11
AS THE Lord's people progress more closely toward the consummation of the Age and the realization of their blessed hopes, it need not surprise any that in every way the Adversary becomes more subtle as well as persistent in his attacks. The opposition of the Adversary is incurred usually in proportion to the activity of the servants of the Truth. His interference and opposition are, to those who are loyal to the Lord, a trial of faith and of patient endurance. It tests their loyalty to God, to the Truth, and to the brethren. It becomes likewise a test of brotherly love to the household of faith. It does a sifting or separating work-"The Lord your God proveth you."
Under the pressure of the tests of the present time opportunity is given for exhibitions of envy, anger, malice, hatred, strife, evil surmising and evil speaking. Thus many are being tested and their love of unrighteousness is being shown. "By their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:20.) The thorn and briar classes, however closely affiliated with religious things, are not vine branches. They do not bear the fruit of the vine, but contrariwise are injurious to the Lord's people. "The poison of asps is under their lips."
All who have the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of meekness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly-kindness, and love, will be tested along the line of making or spreading false and slanderous reports. The advance of the day of the Lord will ultimately reveal the true situation; and we are told that some will have shame and contempt while others will shine as the stars for ever and ever. The Lord's will for all the faithful is that they should deepen and broaden their characters along all the lines of the Christian graces in proportion as contrary temptations assail them. As this is done, more and more will they become copies of God's dear Son, and the fiery trials will assist in making them meet, fit for the Kingdom.
Among Satan's devices is his effort to discourage the Lord's faithful disciples who are seeking to do His will. The more conscientious they are, the more subject they will be to Satan's suggestions of unworthiness, rejection, condemnation, Second Death, etc. God permits this as a test or trial to faith, and, "without faith it is impossible to please Him." Experience as well as the Bible teaches us that faith is developed by being tried with opposition. And God desires that our faith in Himself shall be implicit and unwavering.
The Remedy for a Sad Condition
The Adversary on the contrary would destroy the faith of God's elect. Sometimes he attempts this by misrepresenting God's character as unloving, unjust, unkind, and sometimes by exaggerating our weaknesses and failures, to cause us to cease striving for the goal of Divine approval; he would have us give up in despair. The remedy for persons who become involved in this sad condition of mind is to seek the Lord in earnest prayer and in that connection to exert their will power and gird up the loins of their mind to oppose all such false suggestions. Nothing is so helpful under such circumstances as a correct knowledge of the Divine teaching respecting God's love and the abundance of His merciful provision in Christ. Persons who are in a state of dejection and despair should be encouraged to cast themselves fully and unreservedly at the foot of the cross in the spirit of their mind, in fullness of consecration. Then, in proportion to their faith they may lay hold upon the Lord in prayer for complete deliverance from the Adversary's power. Generally it is when "sin lieth at the door," and there is some violation of the soul's covenant with the Lord that the Adversary is more able to exercise an evil influence upon the mind, causing doubts, fears, and alienation from the Lord. Again we must remember that the remedy for all such is a knowledge of God's real character, His great love and sympathy exercised through the Lord Jesus Christ and made available through Him to all who give their lives in full consecration.
"According to your faith be it unto you," is the Divine rule; faith should triumph or the life of joy and blessing will perish. Those who will not exercise the faith will never be acceptable to the Father for membership in the Kingdom class. Such must wait for the next Age and have different experiences.
The Apostle John suggests a certain course of conduct is possible in which the Adversary would be unable to touch the Lord's people: "He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." This expression suggests to cur mental eyes that of a charmed circle within which God's people rest. This circle is not a fence, but merely a line of light which can easily be overstepped. On the inside of that circle is the Lord's favor. We may imagine the very center of it is the Lord Himself, the Head of the Church. The exhortation of the Scriptures, the leading of the Holy Spirit, and the providences of the Lord, all encourage His followers to press close to Him -- "Nearer my God to Thee."
Outside the charmed circle are the powers of evil. These are sometimes allowed to touch the earthly interests and temporal affairs of the children of the light; but the evil influence is not permitted to really touch the New Creatures in Christ inside this circle; for such are hid with Christ in God. Over that line they cannot exercise their influence. But alas! lured by the world, the flesh, and the evil one, some of the saints may at times go too close to the line, perhaps pursuing some fleshly bait or golden bubble of earthly honor. Such the Adversary is ever ready to lay hold of, to drag them out into the darkness of sin, doubt, despair, further and further away from the Lord.
The lesson of this picture to all spirit-begotten children of God is, "Abide in Him," "Abstain from all appearance of evil," "Draw near unto God," "Press onward and upward," "Take heed to yourselves," "Forget the things that are behind," "Mortify your flesh," and earthly desires and ambitions, keep close to the Master that, "the wicked one touch you not."
Again, let us all be reminded that our God is full of loving kindness, that His mercy endureth for ever, for all those who desire to live in harmony with Him. While it is true that the nearer we go to the separating line, the nearer do we come within the range of the Adversary's influence and power, and the weaker becomes the power of the truth, the Spirit of the Lord in our control, nevertheless, we should remember that there is joy in heaven over one who returns to the Lord, and the Lord will warmly welcome such an one even though He temporarily allows trying experiences. Ultimately these experiences will prove valuable lessons, safeguarding against further tendency to depart from the ways of the Lord.
Enclosed find $______ I received the "Herald" this morning but have had no time as yet to pursue its contents, but saw those words, "Dealing Unjustly With God." Now I know that is going to condemn me and I need it. I know it means not paying in full, consecration vows. I'm always making vows and promises and always failing, it seems to me. I know this is a poor place to grow spiritually, as I meet no one and see no one who wants to hear or see or know any more of the Lord than what their creed teaches them. But then I know also that it is possible to make good anywhere, because the Lord is always near to those who worship Him in spirit and in truth and who exercise a real faith. in the promises of God, no matter what the conditions be that surround them. I do not excuse myself any because of the con dition of things, which makes it so hard to think of spiritual things, for I know it is possible. to do so if the mind is emptied of all the rubbish that clutters it up, and if it is kept for the Master's use.
The "Heralds" are beautiful reminders of one's duty towards God, and after reading them one feels as if he wanted to be so pure so wholly the Lord's, so intent on doing the Master's will, and to give his little all with all his heart, mind, and strength. The articles are so re freshing and strengthening, and may God help you and bless you all that you may ever keep His Word pure from all vain reasonings.
Pray for me that I may endure all for Jesus' sake; and may the God of all grace bless you in your labor of love. Mrs. L. D. -- Que.
Enclosed is money order, value 6 shillings, in payment of my subscription for the "Herald," due this month.
Allow me to take this opportunity of expressing my deep appreciation of the work of our American brethren in the service of the Truth, by issuing the "Herald." In New Zealand the brethren of like precious faith are not numerous, and are scattered over both islands at considerable distance from each other, with few opportunities of combined fellowship; consequently, the "Herald" forms amongst us a beautiful connecting link. We thank our Heavenly Father for its ministry, and pray for a blessing on those whose labor of love provides such good and satisfying food from the table of our Lord.
Your brother by His grace, G. N. -- N. Z.
My dear Brethren:
Greetings in the name of our dear Lord and Master.
Oh, I am so happy that I have found the blessed Truth again! I had almost lost my way, not knowing what to do, and thinking perhaps it was myself to blame. I did not agree with .the articles coming out in the Watch Tower any more. I have been very dissatisfied and unhappy since about 1922, and about the first of August this year I quit going tó the I.B.S.A. altogether. Since last March a friend has been sending me the "Herald" and I assure you it has brought great joy to my heart. Please renew my subscription.
Words fail to express my gratitude and thanks to you brethren for this wonderful paper. It is just like our dear Pastor Russell taught us, so far as I have been able to see . . . . You know who we all got the Truth from, and I wish to hold fast to the Truth once delivered to the saints; to follow Pastor Russell's teachings as he followed Christ and the Apostles. The "Herald" is a great comfort to me - -truly a friend in need, it has helped me back into the strait and narrow way, helped -me to be what I want to be, wholly devoted to my Lord and His cause. Oh, I can never thank my Heavenly Lord enough for all the way He has led me.
I tried many years to follow the Watch Tower, thinking it to be the Lord's Channel. I am so thankful to you dear brethren that the dear Lord has given you this grand work. May you remain faithful until death is my prayer.
We have our little meetings on Sunday and study Tabernacle Shadows, Watch Tower of 1915, and the Fifth Volume of Scripture Studies. There are only eleven of us -- a "little flock."
Your sister by His grace, N. M. S. -- Wash.
Dearly Beloved Brethren in the Lord Jesus:
Greetings in His precious name. We desire to express our deep appreciation of your warm love in Christ in our great sorrow, as given expression by the beautiful flowers laid upon the casket of our dearly beloved one -- Sister Carrie B. Friese. The perfume of the flowers breathed an even sweeter perfume of love of "brethren in Christ." thank you all.
Though our loved one suffered intense pain, her faith anchor held firm, and in lucid moments found expression in these words, uttered while suffering, a short time before the end: "I leave everything in His dear hands. He knows better than I do." This was her heart's sentiment and desire, and she strove earnestly even through much weakness, pain, and suffering, to have only His will done in all her life.
While our loss seems very keen, we believe to her it is great gain, and so, even through the many tears, we say, by His grace: "Thy will be done."
"What though the way be lonely,
"There shall be no more pain," was one of the promises dear Sister specially loved, and yet, relying on His. strength, she sent for her testimony the 3rd verse of that beautiful Hymn, "More Love, O Christ, to Thee."
Please continue to bear me up at the throne of grace, that I too may prove "faithful even unto death," and be granted the unspeakable joy of being, as we believe our beloved Sister is, "Forever with the Lord!"
With warm love in the precious bonds of Christ,
Your brother by His grace,
Harvey A. Friese.
[The following poem was arranged by Sister Friese a few days before her death.]
Jesus whispers I am with you
I am with you, I am with you,
Jesus whispers I am with you
Jesus whispers I am with you