VOL. XXVII OCTOBER 1944
"The prophets, searching what
time or what manner of time
IT WAS the duty of the Watchman in an ancient city to call the hours. The question heard by Isaiah suggests that the watchman had been silent. Perhaps the city was in fear of an enemy of an attack at dawn. The night was dark-the stars, by which the time might be told, were hidden in the clouds. A citizen, roused from sleep by he knows not what, calls to the watchman in the street or on the wall, literally: "Watchman, what from off the night?" "Watchman, how far gone is the night?" - Rotherham.
The Scriptures picture the symbolic earth, the social order, as being in darkness, and most of mankind lying in a heavy sleep. (Isa. 60:2; 29:9-12; et al.) But some individuals have been wakeful; and front the prophets and servants of God, as well as from Seir and other godless sources, has often come the ancient question: "What time is it?"
Thus the Psalmist, David, asked: "O Jehovah, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?" Again he inquires, saying: "Our own signs have we not seen-there is no' longer a prophet-neither is there one with us who knoweth how long! How long, 0 God, shall the adversary reproach? Shall the enemy revile Thy name perpetually?" In the prophecy of Daniel the repeated inquiry is found concerning the symbolic time-measures given him: "How long shall be the vision?" "What shall be the issue of these things?" The disciples asked of the Lord: "When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign ...?" Arid after the resurrection: "Dost Thou at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?"
The demons also, having a deep personal interest in the matter, demanded of Jesus: "Art Thou come hither to torment [restrain] us before the time?" - Psa. 94:3; 74:9, 10; Isa. 20:11; Dan. 8:13; 12:8; Matt. 24:3; Acts 1:6; Matt. 8:29:
The interest today, among the wakeful, is no less intense. The "Worldly Wisemen" are anxiously seeking to penetrate the future; and many modern Bible students are searching -the Scriptures, as did the holy men of old, to discover if it may be, "What time or what manner of time" the prophecies signify. The "Herald" is constantly receiving, from earnest and zealous brethren, manuscripts, charts, pamphlets, and books on various features of "the chronology." These usually "correct" one or two alleged mistakes of past writers and often contain helpful suggestions, but as these correspondents are not in collaboration, their conclusions are not in harmony. Not only so, but related Scriptures are often overlooked or ignored, which would modify or contradict their findings.
The Bible chronology, as it has been constructed by many generations of investigators throughout the Gospel Age, is not readily corrected in detail; if it is to be changed, it must be revised with full regard for inter-related prophetic time periods, and with familiarity with -the vast and invaluable researches of previous chronologers. It is hoped that the "Herald" may aid in clarifying the subject by a re-statement of some of its underlying principles and requirements, and a review of the conclusions and unanswered questions left to us by the ablest of modern investigators in this field; and thus be helpful to those continuing prophetic "research to harmonize their findings.
It is evident that the question before us is essentially identical with the one that St. Peter declares was in the minds of the prophets themselves-yes, even in the minds of angels (1 Pet. 1:10-12; Dan. 8:13) -viz.: What time-periods, or what manner (kind) of time-periods, does the Spirit signify, in the prophecies of Scripture which obviously indicate a fixed and definite period of suffering for 'God's people, of both the Old and the New Dispensations, to be followed by an equally definite period of exaltation and glory in the "Age to come wherein dwelleth righteousness"?
St. Peter says it was revealed to the Prophets that they were not to understand the meaning of these prophecies, but that this understanding was reserved, for "us"; and he exhorts us -to "gird up the loins of your. mind, and be sober, and [with the aid of these prophecies] hope completely [fully] for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet, 1:12, 13.) Accordingly we honor those brethren who are giving thought and time, labor and their means, in the endeavor to solve the ancient mystery.
Those to whom the Apostle refers as "us" are the ones to whom he addresses his Epistle: "... the elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." - (Ver. 1-3.) We therefore ask, Have all these been fully aware of the time-significance of the prophecies; of the dates, of the beginnings and endings of the periods;: of "what time and what manner of time" was meant? The answer of course is No, all have not, been so aware; it would therefore appear that some other feature of the prophecies was intended for all the Church -- the "us" class.
It may well be argued that, though-veritably of this class, we may never know the exact lengths or dates of the prophetic periods; but we may know of a surety that these prophecies have their fulfillment in Christ, and if we are joined to Him we may with equal assurance make application of their promises of blessings to ourselves: for "If we suffer [with Him] we shall also reign with Him"; and "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory." (2 Tim. 2:12; Col. 3:4.) Certainly it is far more important for us to know that we may participate in the prophesied blessings, than to know just when those blessings are to come.
It is apparent that partial knowledge and even misunderstanding of the time prophecies has been stimulating to Christian living in all periods of the Age. Because the meaning of these prophecies has been hidden and obscure, yet their promises so attractive and their terms so urgent, each zealous investigator has been prompted to apply them to his own times. Constant expectation of impending dissolution of the present evil order has contributed in an important measure to holy living by the believer in every stage of the Church, as Peter seems to imply further along in this very passage: "Wherefore . set your hope completely on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. .. like as He is holy ... be ye yourselves also holy." And 'the Apostle makes his thought still more clear in his second Epistle: "Seeing that these things arc thus all to be dissolved, what manner of person ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, look ing for and earnestly desiring the coming of the dad o f God ...?" - l Pet. 1:13-16; 2 Pet. 3:11-13.
However, the earnest Bible student can never he satisfied with an incomplete or inaccurate under standing of Scripture. He cannot admit that the Bible statements of time-periods should be considered impossible of complete interpretation and understand ing. He refuses to relinquish hope of an ultimate solution; hence he never ceases his efforts to solve the puzzles connected with these time-features, and is ever on the look out for hints from any source that may prove helpful in his quest.
Figures are exact; "seventy sevens" are 490, noy 491, or 489; "seven times" (if we understand the numerical system correctly) are 2520 years, , not 2520 plus 40, or some other figure. The time-periods of prophecy must have a definite ending, marked by some definite event, or their significance and authority are greatly weakened. ' The fact that previous interpreters obviously have erred in their conclusions should not have a deterrent or discouraging effect, but rather a stimulating influence, on the "searchers" and "examiners" of the Scriptures. There is the gold of further truth yet to be discovered, if we are willing to "Search for it as for hid treasure." Through the Prophet Habbakuk the assurance is given: "The vision is yet or -t e appointed time . . . though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay" (beyond the "appointed time"). Prov. 2:1-5; Hab. 2:3.
Daniel, who asked 'for an understanding of the time-prophecies given him, was told: "Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed till the time of the end ... none of the wicked shall understand, but they that are wise shall understand." This expression, "time of the end," clearly indicates a period of time. The Prophet employs quite another word to indicate a point of time. The latter is found in 2:8, 9, 16 (see A.R.V. and Rotherham); 4:36; 7:22.
Similarly, Daniel distinguishes between a terminating period and a complete end, although the Authorized Version does not, translating both original words as "end." A final end is indicated in Dan. 1:5, 15, 18; 4:29, 34; and 9:24 (a still different word)
Daniel was told the vision belongeth to the "time of the end." (v. 17, A.R.V.) Strong defines the word "vision" as "a view, the act of seeing. Again, the Prophet was -told to "seal the book to the time of the end." Before that time, "some of them that are wise" -- Rotherham's footnote says "the, instructors," and refers to verse 33, "they who make the people wise" -- "shall fall, to refine them, and to purify and to make them white,' even to the time of the' end; because it is yet for the -time appointed." The American Revised Version also has footnotes giving the meaning of "instructors" to "the wise" of chapters 11 and 12. Perhaps this (11:35, quoted above) has particular reference to the many sincere but premature and erroneous interpretations of "the vision by "the teachers of the people. It is encouraging to believe that even our honest errors may "refine, purify and make us white," by humbling and warning us. - Chap. 11:33, 35.
"The words are shut up and sealed till the time of the end. None of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand." (12:9, 10.) Whether this promise means that during the end-period the "wise" shall come to a complete understanding of all ' of the time-prophecies, or to the particular one or ones given. through Daniel; or merely that the "wise" shall know in a general way that it is the time of the end, and that the prophecies are being, or are about to be, fulfilled, is for each sincere and earnest examiner of the sacred records to conclude for himself. The writer holds the former view. He believes that it would be more to the glory of God and the vindication of His Word for some, at least, of His "little ones" to arrive at "an exact knowledge of the truth" in this respect as in others, during the due time-the time-period of the end. Such an understanding would demonstrate not only God's foreknowledge but His ability to foretell events in such a way as that, hidden until the "time-lock" is released, even poor human intelligence, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, may share the foreknowledge in all its exactness. "The path of the righteous is as the light of dawn, going on. and brightening, unto meridian day." - Proverbs 4:18 Rotherham.
As Bible students we therefore may say: "We know the solution of the mystery is there, hidden in His Word. We do not yet fully understand, but we shall understand in God's due time, or when we have worked hard enough on the problem to merit its unfolding to us. We will not be discouraged either by past mistakes and disappointments, or by the difficulties that lie before us. We will remember the intense interest and labors to understand on the part of the angels, of the prophets, and of our brethren of the Church who have preceded us; and calling to mind the promises of ultimate- understanding given through Daniel, Habakkuk, and others of the Prophets and the Apostles, we will follow on in full expectation of eventually coming to "know even is we are known."
- H. E. Hollister.
"Let us hold fast the
confession of our hope that it waver not."
IN THIS meditation we propose to consider "our glorious hope." Living as we do today in the midst of a world without hope, in the midst of a world, the fashion of which is rapidly passing away, what could be more fitting, what more calculated to stimulate and inspire us anew to holy living and faithful testimony, than to review our glorious hope; the hope of eternal life; the hope of immortality; of being with and like our Lord; of participating with Him in bringing in the Times of Restitution long promised and now so close at hand?
For a text we have selected Hebrews 10:23 the King the King James Version this verse reads: "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering." A better translation is given in the Revised Version. There it reads: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not." The inspired writer, in this verse, is not referring to faith but to hope. Faith, hope, and love are each mentioned in turn in this remarkable exhortation. First, in Heb. 10:22, he exhorts: "Let us draw near, with a true heart, in full assurance of faith." Then, in the next verse, Heb. 10:23, the verse we have chosen for our text, he continues, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope, that it waver not"; and finally, in Heb. 10:24, he concludes: "Let us consider one another to provoke unto love." That the passage may be still more clearly seen in relation to its context, permit us to quote seven verses, Heb. 10:19-25 inclusive, using for this purpose yet another translation, that of Weymouth:
"Since then, brethren, we have free access to the Holy place through the blood of Jesus, by the new and ever-living way which He opened up for us through the rending of the veil -- that is to say, of His earthly nature -- and since we have a great Priest who has authority over the house of God, let us draw near with sincerity and unfaltering faith, having had our hearts sprinkled, once for all, from consciences oppressed with sin, and our bodies bathed in pure water.
Let us hold firmly to an unflinching avowal of our hope, for He is faithful who gave us the promises. And let us bestow thought on one another with a view to arousing one another to brotherly love and right conduct; not neglecting -- as some habitually do -- to meet together, but encouraging one another, and doing this all the more since you can see the day of Christ approaching."
In the Epistle from which this passage is taken the writer develops the thought that Christians constitute; under Christ Jesus their Head, a new priesthood; a priesthood which may be compared, anti which, because of its superiority, -may be contrasted, with the Aaronic priesthood. In conformity with his whole current of thought this writer calls upon believers to "enter in" to "draw near," and so personally to appropriate and enjoy the blessings which are theirs.
What a marvelous privilege theirs is, when rightly understood, received, and exercised! A kingdom of priests unto God! How is it that we have this freedom of access into the presence of the Almighty? We all know that only as a great favor through influential friends could we gain an audience with the great ones of earth, and then only with proper formality as to dress, etc. Surely it is not to be supposed that anybody, at any time, and in the filthy rags of his own righteousness, may rush unceremoniously into the august presence of the Majesty on High. No, indeed! Our boldness rests on the merit of another. We do not come before God in ourselves, but in Jesus.
And we are bidden to enter God's presence on two grounds: First, access into the presence of God is made possible and free for us through the shedding of Jesus' blood. We may approach God by the new and living way which Jesus has opened for us by the sacrifice of His flesh, the laying clown of His earthly life in death. In the second place, after opening the way for us, Jesus did not remain dead, but was raised by the Father's power to life on the divine plane. He has now become a great High Priest with authority which extends over the greater tabernacle not made with 'hands. Let us then, first, because we have this freedom of access, and second, because, after we enter, we shall find this great One at God's right hand, always ready to plead our cause, ever living to make intercession for us, let us boldly -- not boldly in the sense of impudently, but boldly, in that all fear is removed-let us boldly draw near to God.
"LET US DRAW NEAR"
The phrase "draw near" is of peculiar interest as suggesting the approach to God of a priest-in the exercise of the priestly office, it is the expression used in the Septuagint Version of the Old Testament for the approach of priests to God in the services of the tabernacle. Thus, for example, in Lev. 21:17, we read: "Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed throughout their generations that hath a blemish let him not approach [that is, let him not draw near], to offer the bread of his God."
Here, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the phrase "draw near" occurs no less than five times. We first meet it in chapter 4, verse 16, where, after telling us that our High Priest, Jesus, passed through the real heavens in contrast to the holy place and the most holy of the typical tabernacle through which the Jewish High Priest, passed, and after assuring us that Jesus is not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but that, on the contrary He is One who can be touched, because He was in all points, and in every respect, tried as we are yet without sin, he goes on to say: "Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help us in time of need."
In chapter seven we meet the phrase again. Here the Apostle stresses the fact that our High Priest continues -- in contrast to the high priests of the Aaronic order. The latter each occupied office for only a few short years, and then died, each one thus being hindered by reason of death from continuing in office. But He, Jesus, because He abideth for ever, hath His priesthood unchangeable, a priesthood which does not pass to any successor. After establishing this fact, the Apostle goes on to say, Heb. 7:25: "Wherefore also He is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them."
The third occurrence of the phrase is in Heb. 10:1. This time the inspired writer observes that since the Law had only an outline or shadow of the blessings to come, and not a perfect representation of the things themselves, the Jewish priests, who officiated under that Law, could never, by repeating the same sacrifices which they continually offer year after year, give complete freedom from sin, to those who draw near.
Next comes Heb. 10:22, to which we will return in a moment.
Finally, in Heb. 11:6, the expression meets, us once again, in that well-known citation: "He that cometh to God [that is to say, he that draweth near unto God], must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
The invitation to "draw near," being applicable, only to priests, should not be understood as addressed to unrepentant sinners. To -them the message of the Gospel is: Repent, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thus obtain forgiveness of your sins; you will then be in the condition and attitude of heart to receive the invitation, "Draw near unto God." The Apostle is addressing those who have already taken this step. He is addressing the brethren. "Having, therefore, brethren, boldness [courage, confidence, privilege] to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus ... let us draw near."
His language implies that there may properly be a diffidence on our part in respect to this privilege. We might properly hesitate to expect to have communion, fellowship, close approach to, the great Creator, realizing that by nature we are imperfect, "children of wrath-, even as. others," and that in whatever degree we differ from others and are accounted worthy of such a privilege as that of drawing near to God, it is not on account of personal worth on our part, but on account of God's grace bestowed upon us through Jesus our Lord. The Apostle therefore speaks to consecrated believers in an encouraging voice: "Let us draw' near; let us have courage to draw near; let us have faith in God, who has made us such gracious arrangements and promises."
CONDITIONS OF APPROACH
There are, however, certain conditions specified as necessary, to thus drawing near. As no one can draw near to God except by attaining a "full assurance of faith," neither can he have a full assurance of faith unless he have his heart "sprinkled from a consciousness of evil," for as another Apostle declares: "If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart." (1 John 3:20.) We may be sure that if our course as new creatures is condemned by our own consciences, it would also be condemned by God. Whoever, therefore, would make progress in drawing near to God, must seek continually "to have a conscience void of offense toward God and man " (Acts 24:16), a conscience that is clear, that can say: "I am striving to do that which would be pleasing to God in harmony with my covenant of self-sacrifice, and I am striving too do that which would' be approved also by rightly disposed men." Nothing short of this would suffice for those who have consecrated themselves to be royal priests, to offer themselves as living sacrifices in the Lord's service, and to draw near to Him in the name and under the merit of the great High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.
WASHED WITH WATER
The expression, "Having our bodies washed with pure water," does not, as we understand the passage, refer to taking an ordinary bath, nor as many expositors seem to think, does it refer to water immersion, but in harmony with the entire context, it figuratively represents the continued process of cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in 'the reverence of the Lord, elsewhere enjoined by the Apostle: (2 Cor. 7:1.); By nature we are all imperfect, sullied, tore or less depraved; and our devotion; to the Lord is manifested, first of all, by our full acceptance and full assurance of, faith in the merits of Christ's sacrifice; and secondly, by our earnest efforts to put away from our flesh, as we have already put away from our hearts, all things defiling and displeasing in the Lord's sight; that thus we may more and more become copies of His dear Son, our Lord. This washing- of water by the Word is elsewhere represented in a similar manner, as being a part of the duty and privilege of all the Lord's people throughout the remainder of their earthly lives. (Eph. 5:26.) And we can see how beautiful is the illustration here used, that the Word of God, like water, is purifying, cleansing, as the Apostle again declares; speaking of the Christian's good hope of being with and like his Lord: "He that 'hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He [the Lord] is pure." - 1 John 3:3.
Such, then, are the true, consecrated, believer's privileges -- the privilege of priestly access into the holiest through, or in, or as a body Member of the great High Priest, Christ Jesus. And the very character of these privileges, as we have seen, demands a certain frame of mind, a certain condition of heart, a certain attitude of life on his part, if he is to enjoy them to the full. This frame, of mind, this condition of heart,, this attitude of life, is summed up in three words: "Faith, hope, and love. "Let us draw near, with a true heart, in full assurance of faith. Let us hold fast the confession of our -hope that it waver not. Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works." - Heb. 10:22, 23, 24.
The association of these three Christian graces at once calls to mind that wonderful 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians, that' "psalm of love as it has been called, in which, at its close, St. Paul groups them in such a way that forever after they will shine together in Christian thought. "And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three." They appear again in his letter to the Colossians in his opening address to that Ecclesia: "We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, constantly praying for you as we do, because we have heard of your faith in Christ ,Jesus, and of the love which you cherish towards all God's people, on account of the hope treasure up for you in heaven. (Col. 1:3-5.) In his first letter to the Thessalonians they are mentioned together once again: "We continually give thanks to God because of you all, while we make mention of you in our prayers. For we never fail to remember your works of faith and labors of love and your persistent and unwavering hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father." - l Thess. 1:2, 3.
This time as we read them there comes a sad reflection, as we recall our Lord's words of reproof to the Church of Ephesus, recorded by, St. John in the Revelation: "I know thy works, and thy labor, and Lily patience." Works were in Ephesus, but Christ does not say works of faith, the works which St. Paul commended in the Church at Thessalonica. Labor was in Ephesus, but Christ does not say the labor of love which gives to labor its worth. Patience' was in Ephesus, but again, how significant it is that the Savior omits all reference to a patience springing from hope. Faith, hope, and love, were evidently dimmed. Let all three of the others, works, labor, and patience, be active, but if the freshness of what called them into action be lacking, they would become mechanical, a 'mere form of belief, without power.
HOPE AS AN ANCHOR
It is then, as priests, as body-members of the High Priest, that we are to "draw near" to' God. Our frame of mind is to be one of confident reliance on Him, and on His dear Son, our Redeemer and Lord. "Let us draw near, with a true heart, in full assurance of faith. Then comes our text: "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not."
The use of the word "hope" in this Epistle is of great interest. Usually when we employ this word we refer to a promise of God not yet performed, but which we confidently expect will be fulfilled at. some future time. But in this Epistle, while that meaning of the word is riot absent, something more is included. For example, in that well remembered passage at the close of the sixth chapter, where the Apostle speaks of thee hope set before us, he amplifies his words by saying: "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
Here is not a promise yet to be fulfilled, but a decisive fact -- a promise already fulfilled. When we make confession of this hope, we do. not express our belief that one day, in the dim, far-off future, Christ Jesus will enter as a Forerunner for us within the veil; .we confess our reliance on the fact as having already taken place.
Associated in our minds with this passage is one in the Epistle 'to the Romans. There, in Hebrews 10:9-10, we recall the Apostle's words: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man' believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." In, both the Hebrews' and the Romans' passages we find heart and voice playing their parts. "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" says the writer to the Hebrews.. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness" is the statement in Romans. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope" urges the writer to the Hebrews. "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation" is the corresponding passage in Romans.
How closely associated, too, is the resurrection of our Lord with all our personal hopes for the future. Let us suppose that the Gospel had come to us complete in every detail except in this one particular, namely, that no mention had been made of our Lord's resurrection, or that the testimony concerning it was wavering and unreliable. In that case, where would our hopes be today? Our hopes would be the same as the hopes of those two disciples on the way to Emmaus, before they knew that Jesus had been raised from the dead. (Luke 24:13,35.) Their hopes were buried in His grave. They had trusted in Jesus and had entertained high hopes, but now, since Jesus had died, they were sad (Heb. 10:17), their hopes having withered. How different with them when the fact of His resurrection was made known to them! What joy displaced their dejection! It became true of them, then, as it has of us who have believed since-they were and we have been begotten again unto a hope of life by His resurrection. (1 Pet. 1:3.) Because 'He lives we have grounds for hoping that we shall live also. (John 14:19.) In His resurrection lies our assurance. Acts 17:31.
THE HOPE OF BEING WITH HIM
Thus His resurrection is the basis of all our hopes, whether for ourselves or for others. And today it is our great privilege first to believe in our hearts that God hath raised Him from the dead, and then to confess that He is-not will be, but is-our Lord, exercising full sway, in our hearts, our lives-bearing witness to the truth of our confession.
In John 14:2, 3, appears -that wondrous promise of our Lord: "I go to prepare e a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will receive you unto Myself, that where I am there ye may be also." What a wondrous hope this gracious promise contains! Of all the gracious words which proceeded out of the mouth of Him who spake as never man spake, perhaps none have had a more powerful influence in the history of the Church than these uttered by the Master just as His earthly career was ending. Nor can we think of any, more calculated to inspire hope in His waiting followers today, or- more calculated to renew their courage. How much this promise means to us can best be estimated by contrasting the poverty of spirit which would be ours if it had never been vouchsafed to us, or if there were a question as to its fulfillment. How dark our gloom would then be, how forlorn our state, how void of all good cheer our prospects! Thank God for that "blessed hope" and for the purifying effect it has had, and, please God yet will have, in our lives. - Titus 3:13; 1 John 3:3.
THE APOSTLE'S EARNEST EXPECTATION AND HOPE
There is one other passage to which we wish to make a brief reference. It appears in the Philippian letter, where St. Paul uses, the word "hope" in a striking manner. It appears in Heb. 1:20, and reads: "According to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death."
The more we, examine this expression of the Apostle's hope, the more wonderful it seems. He is writing from the Roman prison, that prison from which he is shortly to, be led away to martyrdom. And his whole being is absorbed with one purpose: That whether by his continuance in life or by entering the valley of the shadow of death, Christ may be magnified in his body. "According to my eager expectation and hope," he writes, "my watching and waiting, with outstretched head, for some keenly 'wished for attainment." Such is the Apostle's thought with regard to the magnification of Christ through his life and death. It is his hope -- his absorbing expectation, It is the thing with which he wakes up in the morning, and over which he lingers as he prepares to sleep at night. It is the animating, inner interest which gives, its zest to life. What art is to the ambitious and successful artist; what literature is to the man who loves it for its own sake, and who is himself a widely read author; what athletic toil and triumph is to the young man in his splendid prime; what the fact of plant expansion and wealth-winning enterprise is to the man who is conscious of business ability; all this, only very much more, is the magnification of Christ in his body, to the prisoner who sits alone, yet not alone, in the Roman prison.
It is this hope, this expectation,, which effectually forbids him ever to find the days dull. Its light falls upon everything -- on his comforts, his trials, days of toil, hours of comparative repose, prospects of life prospects of death.
It quickens and concentrates all his faculties, as a great and animating interest always tends to do. It is always present to his mind. It secures for him the quiet of a great disengagement and liberty from selfish motives. It continually drives him on, yet with a force which does not exhaust him, for- it is from above, in the ambition for Christ, giving him at once an impulse toward great and arduous labors and a patience and loving tact which continually adjusts itself to the smallest occasions of love and service.
Brethren, this is wonderful and admirable in, St. Paul; is it not? But after all, the ultimate secret of the great Apostle's life resided not in himself, but in his Lord. And His grace is available also for us. That we have proved over and over again in times past, have we not? That we shall prove still more surely in the coming days, if we "hold fast the confidence of our hope" firm unto the end.
But let us look at the words just once again. "That Christ may be magnified" - that Christ may be made great. In what respect? Not in Himself, certainly for Christ is already great; already He is higher than the -heavens; he filleth all things. (Heb. 7:26; Eph. 4:10.) No! Paul could not make Christ really greater than He is, either by his life or by his death. But Christ maybe magnified relatively, to those who see Him or who may see Him. To eyes which find in Christ only a distant and obscure object He may be brought near. Many things not, visible to us arc easily seen by us through a telescope. Many people who cannot see Christ with the naked eye, so to speak --people who never read their Bibles-will be able to see Christ plainly, if given an opportunity to, look at Him through a telescope-the telescope of a consecrated believer's life. Thus Christ may be magnified in the eyes of those with whom we come in touch, if our lives are given over to His rule and sway. What a "hope" this is! May each of us have large "expectations" in this respect, "hopes" which may be realized as never before, in the days that may yet remain to us.
- P. L. Read.
"I know the plans which I 'am planning for you, plans of welfare and not of calamity, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11, Rotherham.
- Freda Hanbury Allen.
"Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my 'spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!" "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood,, so is my Be loved among the sons. I sat under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house and His banner over me was love." - Song of Solomon 4:9, 10; 2:3, 4.
IN THAT ancient story of Abraham's seeking a bride for Isaac perhaps there is no sweeter or more significant statement than these simple words: "And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her." (Gen. 24:67.) Rebekah was after all Abraham's choice for Isaac. The wife Isaac loved was the gift his father sought and gave to him, and with that choice he found supreme delight. A beautiful picture surely of God's selection of a bride for His Son, and a soul-stirring assurance that when the greater Isaac saw the companion the Father had chosen for Him, His reactions were those of spontaneous delight and joy. Yes, "Jesus loved the Church and gave Himself for it," and, "Having loved His own, He loved them to the end," loved them so supremely that His joy would be incomplete until the bride He loved and cherished had reached the home and glory where He has waited for her these nineteen hundred years.
Since the story of Isaac and Rebekah is so manifestly full of typical lessons, if this narrative were all we had in the way of showing us that our prospective Bridegroom's acceptance of His Bride was not merely a compliance with a higher will, but an acceptance characterized by the deepest affection, would more be really necessary to establish that fact? But a love so wonderful as His, and a delight so overflowing, could never, be content with one expression of its reality. In so many ways it is told over and over again in the sacred Word. Moreover, the emotions begotten of such love as this of the Bridegroom and His Betrothed are not hidden from view in the sacred record as something too impractical or superficial to' occupy the attention of mature, matter of fact minds. The Bible distinctly recognizes the emotional nature' of God, and its pages are full of this blessed revelation of His adorable character. Our own emotions therefore are constantly appealed lo, and in no instance more strikingly so than in that heavenly romance -- the call, the mutual adoration, and the final union of Jesus and His Church.
A BOOK WHOLLY DEVOTED TO THIS THEME
Accepting the self-evident fact that all Scripture given by inspiration is profitable to the man of God, there can be no doubt in our minds regarding the profitableness of Canticles, or as it is more generally styled, "The Song of Solomon." Unquestionably this love story is not merely concerned with a love affair of Solomon himself, but is to be understood as being much more applicable to the "greater than Solomon" and His prospective Bride. This one complete book is given over entirely to the one absorbing theme, and surely a theme occupying such exceptional consideration should find a ready response in every heart that sings of Christ as "Jesus lover of my soul." Canticles has been truly called "the Book of the Bridegroom and the Bride," for such it is. Every page reveals each in turn viewing with the other in an exchange of endearing professions of love and admiration. "It is no earthly love song, breathing only carnal affection; it is a song which, while making use of 'the figures of earthly language, lifts us above the things that are seen and temporal into the region. of the unseen and eternal. The love which it celebrates is 'the love which passeth knowledge'; the union which it tells of .is a union beyond what eye hath seen or ear heard, both for closeness and endearment; the beauty which it sings of is beauty surpassing all human thoughts or poetic dreams; the joys and sorrows, the hopes and fears, the raptures and disappointments, the meetings and the partings, which it depicts are things which, on' a lower scale, belong to the daily tendernesses of human affection, but which here are stripped of all earthly grossness, and carry us up to a higher scale of love than that which in its truest, purity has ever existed between man and woman.
"Love is that which breathes through every line, twofold love-Christ on the one hand uttering His admiration for His Bride, the Church, and the Church on the other giving vent to her admiration for her heavenly Bridegroom. The love on both sides is beyond the force of language to describe; yet there is and must be a difference, seeing the Bridegroom is the Son of God and the Bride one taken from the depths of poverty and degradation. It is then the mutual affection founded upon the twofold individuality of our being that is so prominently brought out in this divine Song of Love. And ;if we would understand aright what is written here concerning the Bridegroom and the Bride, we must go back to the Book of Genesis, and read there the symbol is given us on the formation of the first man and woman -a symbol whose root is in creation, but whose development is in redemption; a symbol whose outline is given us in the first Book of Scripture, whose filling up is reserved for the last.
"The relationship between Christ and His Church is altogether peculiar; so is the love. Human affections are manifold, but this is one and special, apart from the rest. There is the love between parent and child, between brother and sister, between, friend and friend; but this transcends them all. 'For this cause, shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they two shall be one flesh.' (Eph. 5:31.) Is there not something peculiar about -this statement, and no less about the manner in which it is introduced by the Apostle as bearing upon the relationship between Christ and His redeemed? 'This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and His Church.' (Eph. 5:32.) All that this 'mystery' contains we know not, nor shall we know here; but in this 'Song of Songs' we get a deeper insight into it, and learn something of the wonders of that new relationship between heaven and earth, between God and man, when the Son of God in -the greatness of His love to us took flesh and died, and when the Father chose out for him a fitting Bride from the fallen creature hood of earth to receive and return His love.
"The Father chose the Bride, and gave her to His Son to redeem and sanctify. Down into this world where she was, in all her unworthiness "and unlovableness, the Son of God came; and here.... He wooed her and won her love. Loosing her bonds, ransoming her from the enemy, drawing her out of the horrible pit and miry clay, He takes her into His embrace; purifying here with the purification suited to her case, and decking her with the fine linen, clean and white, that He may present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish."
THE BRIDEGROOM'S DELIGHT IN HIS ESPOUSED
That Jesus truly longs for the completion of His Church and our union with Him in glory, there can be no doubt. Granted that He knows all about the Father's times and seasons, the exact hour when the last member of His Bride shall pass beyond .the veil, and fully assured as we may be that He experiences no restless impatience in waiting for the consummation of the Age in this happy event, yet there is that in. His love and anticipations which some one has well expressed in the following lines,
This yearning is not overlooked in the "Song of Songs." Repeatedly in this Song He confesses the fervent longing He experiences while waiting for that blissful hour when, "Bride and Bridegroom are made one, before the great white throne." And, indeed it is manifest that never more clearly than now has the attentive ear of a waiting Church been able to hear His joyful approach, and exclaim with rapture, "The voice of my Beloved! behold, He cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My Beloved is like a roe, or a young hart: behold, He standeth behind our wall, He looketh forth at the windows, shewing Himself through the lattice. My Beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away." (Song of Solomon 2:8-10.) Long ago He had made the special request for His Church, "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24.) Having, then, this assurance, of His attitude toward His own, surely we can agree that, "For that - completion He waits the Father's time; longing, even upon the throne, for the hour of meeting, for the marriage day and the marriage supper. Heaven is not yet to Him what it shall be, when His Bride is with Him; and earth is not yet what it 'shall be, when its crown is placed upon her head, as well as upon His own. The cry, 'Behold, I come quickly,' is not merely the word of cheer to us here, in the day of His absence, and an intimation of His speedy arrival, but the utterance of His own heart's joy at the prospect of the final union, when all His glory shall be revealed and all her beauty unfolded -when, in language only too feeble to express the truth, He will call her 'the fairest among women,' and she will exult in Him as 'the chief among ten thousand and altogether lovely.'
And what terms of endearment He employs! Unfamiliar as we may be with some of the similitudes used in this old Oriental Song, we can, nevertheless quite easily understand the strain of divine love it sings. Love has a language all its own any way, and its inherent character is ever the same though its verbal expression be set forth in the language of many diverse tongues. And certain it is, the Spirit which dictated this Song of Songs will -also interpret it to every responsive Christ-loving soul. Hearken then to the Bridegroom's delight in the excellency of His betrothed: "As the lily among thorns, so is My love among the daughters." (Song of Solomon 2:2.) Fragrance, it is said, is a special characteristic of these lilies, and such a fragrant flower among thorns is she in His esteem. Again we hear Him say, "O My dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let Me see thy countenance, let Me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely." (Song of Solomon 2:14.) First the countenance, then the voice. First her love lighted countenance revealing the transforming power of His love and reflecting back her reciprocal devotion, and then the voice that speaks it forth in unmixed delight. And once again He speaks: "Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee." (Song of Solomon 4:7.) What words are these to one who has already confessed, "I am black, . . as the tents of Kedar." Yes, once .black but now made fair, in virtue of His call and imputed perfections; tnerefore He says, "Thou hast ravished My heart, My sister, My spouse; . . . Thy lips, O My spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon." (Song of Solomon 4:9, 11.) Truly, His is "love divine all love excelling." How He delights to bear testimony to that love for us! And how He rejoices when our love responds with equal readiness and spontaneity. One more selection, and then we turn to the words of the prospective Bride: "My dove," He continues; "My undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.
The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her." (Song of Solomon 6:9.) 'What a precious expression of His personal love for His Bride! Oh, there may be "threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number" (Song of Solomon 6:8) but His betrothed is "the only one" for Him. How great is His pride of her! How fully assured He is that all who see her shall praise her, and pay homage to her beauty. Truly a Lover of lovers is He.
THE DELIGHT OF THE BRIDE IN HER BELOVED
Like the Bridegroom, the Bride makes use of many similitudes with which to express her admiration and joy. Fruits and flowers, spices and wine, the graceful hart, and multiplied symbols drawn from nature's storehouse, are needed to tell the beauties of her Beloved. Space will not permit more than a few of these. We refer the reader to the second text quoted at the head of this article as one expression of her delights. In connection therewith we have her-saying, "Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me." (Song of Solomon 2:5,6.) "Sick of love," literally "love-sick. Blessed indeed are they who really know this love-sick attachment to the Person of Jesus Christ. "My Beloved," she has perfect confidence to say, "is mine, and I am His," therefore,, "Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my Beloved. "Make haste, my Beloved, and be Thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon -the mountains of spices. (Song of Solomon 2:16, 17; 8:14.) These last words strikingly associate the Song of Songs with the -Revelation, as it expresses the same deep-drawn sigh, the same eager anticipation, the same heartfelt entreaty with which the Revelation visions close: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Thus, both in the language of this Song and in the Apocalypse, there is the 'same sense of "blessed impatience" for the consummation, the same deep constant love to an un seen Bridegroom, and the same desire to see Him in' all His beauty, and embrace Him in unbroken, visible union. "It 'does not intimate doubting, but only distance; it does not conceive that anything can break the link between her and Him whom not having seen she loves; it suspects no change in the' Beloved One, but only wonders why he should be so long in coming."
Hence the eager listening on her part for every sound .of His footsteps, and for every accent of His voice assuring her that He really comes for her, "leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills."
"LOVERS' ABSENT HOURS"
"Poetry has spoken often of heavy partings, and of 'lovers' absent hours' in connection with earthly love; but it is in such divine utterances as the above that we get some, insight into the depth of that love which subsists between Christ and His Church; into the nature of the 'absent hours' which have run their weary course since He left her here in her solitude; into the blank which this separation has occasioned, and the longing on bath sides for the day of final reunion at 'the marriage supper of the Lamb.' How far the Church on earth has ever realized this sense of absence and this longing for return is a searching question. Were there the personal attachment to the Lord which, as His affianced, the saints might be expected to possess, could there be the indifference to the blessed hope of His appearing, or could there b2 the dislike to converse about that hope, so strangely manifested by multitudes who name His name and profess to taste His love?"
Evident it is, then, that a real personal attachment of no ordinary kind, was intended to be the important lesson of this Song of Songs. The Lord has not given us this charming poem of love without a special purpose in doing so. How apparent it must be to the most unemotional reader that this Song expresses a depth of fervent love much too sacred to be superficial. And it cannot be considered merely an outburst of Oriental sentiment expressed in exaggerated terms, for in Psalm 45 and in many statements to be found in both Old and New Testaments we find the same attachment clearly shown. No, the Song is genuine, a true picture of the feelings which should reign perpetually in the hearts of those who claim espousal to Christ. It, is a true expression of His love for us, for we can have no doubt of such affection on His part, and all these words as spoken by Him are profoundly sincere and' fervent. How then, is it with us? Where are the embraces we ought ever to give to Him? Wherein do we reveal the desire, over passing all other desires, to see Him face to face? Can we truly say, "How can I keep the 'longing back?" and honestly affirm that we love Him with such devotion and fervency that we have really "lost sight of all beside"?
''A Song like this shows us that the Christ of God is no abstraction, no fond ideality invented by men to embody their own thoughts of the beautiful and the loving. He is real; His love is real; His perfection is real; His beauty is real, . . . Abstractions cannot love; neither can they be loved. But He of whom all these things are sung is infinitely real and personal; ... capable of being loved, not merely as the friend loves the friend, or the child his father, but as the Bride loves the Bridegroom of her soul....
"One special end, then, of such a Song as that of Solomon is to lift what we call religion out of the region of abstractions, and to bring it warmly home to the human heart. Here we see it embodied in the deepest affections of our being. It is no mere theory, no matter of words, no impassive system wrought out by keen or subtle intellect, but something which commends itself to every part of 'our nature, pouring in the living gladness of love, without which the human spirit is a frigid, lifeless void."
- J. J. Blackburn.
"Leaning upon her Beloved." - Canticles 8:5.
"Servants, obey in all things,
as to the Lord . . . . Masters,
THE RELATION of the members of the Christian household, the closeness of which is indicated by our English 'word "relatives," has just been discussed by the Apostle; but he has still to consider the less closely related members of that household, master and slave; and from the same standpoint of love and obedience, Ephesians 6:5-9; 1 Timothy 6:1, 2; Titus 2:9, 10; and 1 Peter 2:18-23 add somewhat to the brief instruction here given to the Colossian Church; and some additional thoughts may be gathered from other Scriptural sources. For "slave" Paul uses the word that apparently refers only to involuntary servitude, while Peter writes regarding household servants of any kind.
To the modern mind, trained to think of slavery as the "sum of all villainies," the entire absence of all condemnation of this practice in the many allusions to it in the Bible, and the apparent sanctioning of it in the Old Testament, sound strange, largely because we fail to appreciate the advantages of learning obedience even though it is through such suffering as slavery imposes. Perhaps, when the refining' work is completed, and we have learned how large a part the suffering caused by slavery has had in that work, all will rejoice that God in His wisdom, through all the centuries it polluted the earth, thundered no maledictions against it. The bearer of this message to the Colossian Church, Tychicus, had in the bag with it one to Philemon, and journeying with him was the run-away slave, Onesimus, returning to Philemon, his fellow Christian. The letter was, not a plea for his release, but undoubtedly Onesimus had been counseled to be such a faithful servant as is described in Peter's, and in Paul's other letters.
The social and political problems on which the Master's followers have wasted much time were just as evident in the opening days of the Church's history as today. Our Lord taught and the Apostles practised the precept, "First cast the beam out of thine own eye." (Matt. 7:5.) They waited patiently Jehovah's purposes, knowing His principle: "A corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit," and "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down." (Matt. 7:17, 19.) To wait on Him is the practical method for Christians whose minds would be too easily turned from the eternal things if not actually contaminated, if they should devotee themselves to even worthy reforms -- social and political. The pure "mind of Christ" cannot afford to risk even slight contamination by association in the schemes selfishness has evolved. For us, felling trees is dangerous work. Girdled, they die of themselves. However, without laying its hand to the tree, Christianity has transmitted enough of its spirit to the world so that within its bounds nominal slavery is no longer found.
Gibbons estimates that in the reign of Claudius slaves at least equaled the free population in number. Robertson estimates the percentage as much higher. It is little wonder that it took nearly two thousand years to prepare the world for a message of equality and freedom for all, or that in a world that could countenance slavery for so many millenniums it would be possible in the end of the Age to rob Christians of the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free. .
"Ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3:26-28.) This promises no physical changes. Black skin will still be black, even national characteristics will somewhat persist, and the limitations of both sexes be recognized;' but the Jew and the Greek, the male and the female, the bond and the free, who have become Christians, can and should conduct themselves on lofty principles unknown to their former estate; learning, in whatsoever state they are, to content themselves with its opportunities to practise obedience to their heavenly Master.
The Apostle's advice (1 Cor. 7:21) "Art thou called being a servant [bond-slave] care not for it," would not have been given if their slavery could not have been turned to good profit. The thought of the last part of this verse, "But if thou mayest be made free, use it rather," is reversed by Goodspeed, Noyes, Spencer, and the Riverside translations. They give it the thought, as expressed in Goodspeed's rendering: "Even if you can gain your freedom, make the most of your present condition instead."
SLAVERY STILL PRACTICED
The principles laid down by the inspired writers on this subject are as much needed today by employer and employee as they were then by master and slave. Most of us are for a portion of our time under the direction of some other mind. And perhaps obedience and remaining under the direction of some other mind on our part will be so much the more commended of the Lord because it 'is usually easy for us to leave one employment for another more agreeable to the flesh. It is well therefore to note carefully the extent of the obedience the Apostle recommends, that is, "in all things." There is no limit, except that, al ways it is understood the Christian can at no time go contrary to the command of the Lord. Above, we have stated the case mildly, speaking of the Apostle as recommending complete obedience. It is better however, to accept the Apostle's instruction as the command of the Lord.
The servant who has affiliated himself with the Christian movement because he has heard of liberty there, might easily feel great disappointment on learning that he is now the bond-servant of Jesus Christ and must continue rendering service to the former master; but that now, since it is "as unto the Lord," his submission must be complete. Some might feel justified in interpreting obedience ii all things as merely an outward obedience; so, to guard against this error, Paul adds that this submission' is "not with eye-service as men-pleasers." This precept condemns without excuse all work that is gotten up to look better than it is, as well as all pretended 'diligence. If accounts -that reach us are true, a visit to almost any large workshop or factory will furnish abundant evidence that the Apostle's injunction is still needed-if the visit is made during the absence of the foreman. This vice is theft, stealing back the time that one 'has sold to another.
"In singleness of heart, fearing the Lord," describes a service too seldom found in even those who make strong profession of being the servants of the Lord. The pay envelope takes second place in such service. In the next phrase, there is, however, a still more powerful appeal to those who are truly God's servants: "Whatsoever ye do, work ' heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men." The contrast in this clause is the same as implied in the former phrase, "fearing the Lord," and tells of work done faithfully, not because the eye of some man may behold it or some human master reward it, but as a result of reverence for the Lord and a desire to please Him. In the Greek word rendered "work" there is the thought of toil, effort, putting all one's power into the appointed tasks, and instead of seeking to avoid or shift to some one else the unpleasant and the heavier labor, doing it cheerfully. "From the soul," is a literal rendering. This will mean a personal interest in the task. "Put all you have into it," we would say today.
It is hardly to be supposed that such unselfishness could be attained except under the impetus of some great. inspiration. No greater inducement could be offered than this he gives: "As unto the Lord, and not unto men." But note the still higher standard set by the Apostle in his first letter to Timothy. We wonder how many are ready to live up to it. "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy o f all honor, that the name of God and the doctrine be not blasphemed." (1 Tim. 6:1.) This is not an injunction to be dishonest. Counting the master as worthy of all honor does not imply that even one good quality has been discovered in him, but does imply that he is actually unworthy of all honor, and it also implies that true devotion to God and the truth will make it a pleasure to count the unworthy master "worthy of all honor, that the name of God and the doctrine be not blasphemed," that others may take knowledge of us that we have been with the meek and lowly Nazarene and have learned of Him. The capricious, harsh, unjust foreman can be easily and cheerfully tolerated when all one's work is done with the mind devoted to, pleasing the heavenly Master, and the most sordid task glow with a radiance almost divine; useless tasks will have a purpose, trifling employment take on great importance, and galling duties become a welcome means of both humbling the flesh and honoring our Head. "Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." - Titus 2:9, 10.
REWARDS, EXCEEDING GREAT
"Knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive [fully: Young's "Comments."], the recompense of the inheritance." This is no meager three meals a day and a place to sleep, nor the most liberal wage of our day.. To the human mind, this inducement offered by inspiration is a will-o-the-wisp, and the one who toils from such a motive is viewed as mentally deficient. The facts, however, are that few earthly employers will plan to give all that the product is worth to them, while our heavenly Lord not only does no' consider the value of our service, but rewards "unprofitable servants," and also plans to raise to divine sonship the humblest slave.
As we work side by side with the slaves of toil, there should be no resentment because of their inability to understand the high motives that elicit our best endeavor, nor animosity for the higher-up who seems selfishly to be watering his garden with the very life blood of his vassals. There is always the assurance that entering fully into our inheritance will mean the privilege of guiding them, and all others of earth's billions, to the Highway of Holiness at the end of which will be no "bag of gold"; but, for them also, sonship, though on that lower plane of human perfection ,planned for them "from the foundation of the world." In Adam that foundation was laid-aim earthly hope; and for all the willing of his twenty billion children it will be assured as eternally theirs in a world from which Satan and all his evil- work have been permanently banished.
Impatience and constant complainings about our hard lot can only mean that our conditions are not being accepted and our service rendered "as unto the Lord"; but that instead we are thinking more of bodily comfort than of the honor due His name, more of paltry dollars than of the recompense of His present smile of approval, thinking more of the fleeting present than of the immortal future.
The desire to have the approval of others is a quality that' of itself is good, but the occasion for, great discouragement when one's labor is spent for those who are unappreciative or who have not been trained to manifest appreciation. This latter is not true for the Christian, however, for there is always One who is smiling upon him in approval for every endeavor to serve acceptably, and the surliness of the earthly master adds only that much more to the gratitude of the heavenly Master for all that is done as unto Him. There can be no disappointment for the one who labors with unmingled devotion to Him. No honor that earth has to confer, Do recompense it can confer, can compare with the exaltation of being a bond-servant of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe.
As sure as is the recompense to the faithful bondservant of Christ, so sure is the wage to the unfaithful. "He that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done," and even to "answer again" is indicated in Titus 2:9. to be a wrong. The one who holds that slave in bondage is doing him one of the greatest of injustices, but adding another wrong to this by the slave will not right the first. Yet, how often is heard the silly, childish excuse, "He did it to me first." The ill-treatment of the worldling lord, gives no warrant to the Christian slave to make void the law that has been given to him, whether the over-lord be an individual, a corporation, or even a nation. The same principle applies to all. Even speaking in condemnation of rulers, regardless of their worth, is forbidden in Titus 3:1-3. Perhaps a little more of the meekness there enjoined would have protected the Lord's people from this wrong of speaking evil of either the rulers or even the lowliest of their associates. The practicing of this precept also would have kept all Christians from sharing in any revolutions, and shall we say also, reformations of human institutions. The Christian's duty is submission. "My son, fear thou the Lord and the king: and meddle not, with them that are given to change [large or small]." (Proverbs 24:21.) The reason: in rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, we will be rendering to God an honor due Him.
THE DUTY AND PRIVILEGE OF MASTERS
As with slaves, so with the masters, "There is no respect of persons." The One who is Master in heaven is also over them regardless of how high or how low their station here. Slave and master are both tempted to think that God is on their side. And He is, The time is not come to manifest Himself, but in the centuries of concealment His eye has been on master and slave, and in due time both will "receive the' recompense" due them; but just as surely, "He that doeth wrong shall receive again for the wrong that he hath done, and there is no respect of persons. [Therefore] Masters, render unto 'your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven." While the slave is convincing himself that in due time the judgments of heaven will fall on his cruel lord for every injustice done him, the master is congratulating himself that his position . is clear evidence that he is one of heaven's favorites, that God does have respect of a few persons. Christian slaves and masters of that day, as well as this, need to be reminded that God is not such an one as ourselves.
Slaves were considered to have no rights. . The exhortation to masters was therefore a startling one (especially when we remember it was addressed to them in the presence of their slaves, as both classes met in the Christian assembly, and listened to the Epistle), "Masters, render unto your servants that which is just and equal" equitable. To the master the slave was not a person, but chattel. They were his own, and he could do with them as he liked. The condition of slaves among the Greeks and Romans, was wretched in the extreme; they could appeal to no law; and they could neither expect justice nor equity," Clarke says. Alexander Maclaren comments: "A master . . . might crucify or torture, or commit any crime against manhood either in body or soul, and no voice would question or forbid. How astonished Roman lawgivers would have been if they could have heard Paul talking about justice and equity as applied to a slave!"
In the word "just," the Apostle is appealing not to imperfect' human laws but to the divine, requirements. The word for which "equal" is a translation like our English word, has in it the essence of the Golden Rule. Preparing discourses on either word may not be difficult, but practicing the precepts of these words is an ideal to be attained only with the "counting'.' to us of much of His righteousness. The last injustice will have been inflicted, the last war fought, when their principles are perfectly applied by all. When an earnest endeavor is made by all to apply them, service will have lost its discomforts and mastery its temptations. When perfectly practised, "slave" and "master" will be words the world will gladly forget, reminders of a night troubled with "an, horror of great darkness." (Gen. 15:12.) Until that day a "kind and patronizing" manner will be substituted by the majority for the Apostle's stiffer requirement of-justice and equality. "Charity likes to come in. and supply the wants which would never have been felt had there been equity. An ounce of justice he sometimes worth a ton of charity."
There is only seeming vagueness in the commands of these Epistles, for to -do unto others as the Lord would do to us is the most definite possible of instruction to the one informed regarding the character of the God of the; Plan of the Ages. Know His eternal purposes and His daily dealings with us, and we have our course plainly marked out for, us, and clear as to what others should have a right to expect at our hands. What we need and what we know we will receive at His hands for service that is 'faithfully though imperfectly rendered, it is our duty to give to others though they like ourselves blunder in their efforts to serve. Twenty-four hours of endeavor to live up to the requirements of the Apostle will leave no complaint that He has not been precise enough.
Is He my Master? Is my service done as unto Him? Are my possessions His? -- my life His? -- His life mine? Is the purpose to honor Him supreme above every, selfish consideration? We are slaves, bought with a great price. Will we ever consent to be made worthy of the price?
- P. E. Thomson.
The Heavenly Father granted a special blessing upon the friends assembled in Toronto over Labor Day weekend. The Lord surely- fulfilled His promise that where two or three are gathered in His Name, there He would be in' the midst of them to bless.
Early in the morning, friends began to arrive, and one could catch the spirit of the convention before it began. It is always good to see the friends and we believe an additional blessing is had by those who come early and take part in the opening services. It is well to prepare ourselves in quiet meditation, for the Lord has promised to be in our midst, and as David said: "I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go into the house of the Lord." - Psalm 122:1.
The Convention opened with the hymn - "Come All Ye Saints to Pisgah's Mountain"; and so we spent those happy days, as it were, on the mountain top.
The first-speaker dwelt on the works of Christ and His teachings. The following' lecture 'was about the Father and His dealings. How appropriate to begin the Convention talking about Jesus and His Father.
The Song Services were good, interspersed, with testimonies, and one of the best of Testimony Meetings was the one on Monday afternoon when nearly all present took part. There was no waiting, but some one was always on his feet and ready to testify. One just felt he could not refrain from expressing his gratitude to God for all His benefits toward him.
Sunday afternoon the subject discussed was regarding the work of the Priesthood in the Book of Leviticus, particularly that which had to do with the wave offering or heave offering before the Lord: The speaker brought out in antitype what our privileges, duties, and responsibilities 'are toward the Lord and His Truth in these last days. By yielding our all to Him, and continually keeping our affections and powers uplifted, our offering will be acceptable to Him through our Lord Jesus.
This was followed by a Chart Talk on the "Divine Plan of the Ages." For the newly interested such a "Talk" is always profitable, while to those long in "this way" it has lost none of its interest.
Sunday evening a heart to heart talk was given on the subject of "Reverence" which was very timely and helpful -- very necessary in these evil days through which the Church is now passing.
Other subjects used during the Convention were: "The Happy Man," "Prayer," "Gideon's Army," "The True Vine," "The Mystery," and "Children of Promise." All of these talks were very helpful and encouraging to New Creatures and stimulating to- our faith as we walk along the Narrow Way.
At the conclusion, Brother Blackburn expressed the hope that the results of the Convention would be to bring the brethren closer together. He urged that we try to, encourage other brethren we know to join in our conventions, and quoted the words of Joseph when his brethren were before him: "Ye shall see my face no more unless ye bring your brother with you." The fact was stressed that we should all have our brother's welfare at heart, and let him know we desire to see the brethren united, that we may all have that oneness which Jesus prayed should exist among His disciples-"that they may be made perfect in one." The Convention closed with. prayer and singing of 'Blest Be the Tie that Binds" and "God be With You Till, We Meet Again."
Those who took- part in the program were: Brothers J. C. Jordan, J. A. Bell,, D. Copeland, J. E. Dawson, P. F Thomson, L. L. Benedict, J: J. Blackburn, J. Pollock, and J. Wyndelts.
-J. E. Dawson.