VOL. XXX October 1947 NO.
"There shall arise false Christs and false prophets." - Matt. 24:24.
IT IS probable, that never in all human history, was man's impotency to help himself so plainly manifest as at present, when he is confronted by the problem of devising a world arrangement which would secure some degree of safety and security for all his race, Even though such an arrangement would admittedly be so eminently desirable as to be the dream of all mankind, yet so deep-seated is the mutual distrust and suspicion that persists between the leaders of the great powers, that no one has thus far been able to discover a way of bridging the, gulf that separates nation from nation, totalitarian from democratic, or the upholders of the Marxist ideology from those of the free enterprise school. Not only have they been unable to reach full agreement upon the points that divide them, but even to contrive some satisfactory compromise. All the political wisdom garnered through centuries of human experience appears to avail the world's wise men nothing when face to face with the necessity of formulating some simple arrangement which would enable people to live together with some degree of tolerance if not friendship, on the same planet. And this with all twentieth century enlightenment, and the records of all past history to guide them in making wise decisions.
How embarrassed should those modernistic scholars feel, those who have insisted upon viewing the human story as a kind of .progressive pageant of successful human endeavor, and who regard history as a record of man's upward climb out of that "primeval slime" which they envisage as the environment of our early ancestors, to his present exalted place. How can they explain in terms of the evolutionary processes they boast of, a world condition which reflects so little credit upon the vaunted attainments of the human brain. To quote the words of the ancient Prophet, "Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise . is become brutish.. . . Where are they, where are thy wise men.? . let them tell thee now, and let them know what the Lord of Hosts hath purposed upon Egypt." - Isa. 19:11, 12.
It is a humbling thought for us to reflect upon when we recall that many of us also entertained" the same false concept of the human story as do the modernists. How grateful we are that instructed by his Word we are now enabled to read between the lines of the historical records and to perceive the truth concerning the so-called "ascent of man" with the eyes of our understanding opened by the grace of God. We are now privileged to view that same story, not in the flattering light in which it is presented to us by the evolutionists, but rather as the Creator himself sees it with all its futility and frustration of purpose laid bare before us, and with man's dire need of help and divine guidance becoming daily more apparent. The words recorded in Psalm 107 describe the present world situation far more aptly and truthfully than do those of any modern writer or economist. Looking forward with inspired vision at today's world picture, and seeing wherein lies man's only hope, the Psalmist declares (Psa. 107:27-30), "They reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man and are at their wit's end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. . . . so he bringeth them unto their desired haven."
The aspect of the post-war world is surely one that offers little encouragement for the immediate future to even the most optimistic of those whose desires are based upon the recovery of the great sick system of Babylon from her incurable diseases. In the words of Jeremiah (Jer. 51:9), "We would have healed Babylon but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reacheth unto heaven."
During these days of general bewilderment as to the underlying meaning of current events, days in which the elements that go to make up stable society seem to be in a state of flux, with not even the most astute of statesmen able to foresee what the next day may bring forth, it is helpful to the Lord's people to remember that our great adversary, Satan, has never from the beginning, relinquished his purpose of setting up a permanent kingdom on earth which would rival that of the Master of creation. "`I will be like the Most High" was his inward thought as recorded in Isa. 14:14, and the pages of history are replete with evidence of his inflexible determination to-,.accomplish that purpose. As the revealing angel assured John, he will persist in trying to realize that evil ambition right up to the end, until the time comes when he himself will be destroyed as foretold. (Rev. 20:8-10.) Again and again in the course of man's history, he has endeavored through, the use of human instruments to put his plan into execution, and it is to those efforts that we may attribute much of the short-sighted folly and frustration of purpose that has foiled man's best attempts at self and social betterment, and has made of man's history a long, record of human failure.
Today the confusion and selfishness that blinds the minds of men to their best interests is plainly discernible in the councils of the "United Nations, and it is noteworthy that the representatives of those sections of "Great Babylon',' known as the "democratic nations" seem just as willing to play the old game of Power Politics as they were in the past, before the coming of the atomic bomb awakened them to an awareness of the abyss, into which another world-war would plunge their civilization. While disagreeing among themselves on many points, they are a unit in opposing in every way possible the expansion of Soviet Russia into any part of the European continent not already dominated by Moscow, or into the Middle East. To those democratic nations who favor the world-wide establishment of their own kind of economic system, namely, one of "free enterprise" under a capitalistic regime, the rapid spread of the Communist ideology throughout Eastern Europe and Asia, gives cause for an alarm that at times, approaches panic, as well indeed it may.
In capitalistic countries such as America, and such as the European states were before the Nazis and Fascists imposed their own systems on that continent, there has always existed since the advent of the industrial age a large class of under-privileged people who were subjected either to constantly recurring periods of unemployment or were working for wages quite insufficient to tide them over these periods. To a somewhat lesser extent the same was true in the United States, where, however,, during the last half century wages steadily rose to the highest level in history. Economists who have studied the system of "free enterprise" as it operates on a competitive, profit-making basis have regarded the existence of this class as a more or less necessary evil, the waste product of a highly mechanized regime which while affording abundant opportunity for the acquiring of wealth by the able and competent, nevertheless had its inevitable weaknesses, one of the most serious of which was this matter: of the existence of large numbers of unemployed and discontented. That much abused quotation, "the poor ye have always with you, has been only too frequently used by "`Christendom's" well-to-do as a salve to soothe uneasy consciences.
The war with its absorption of millions of young men and women into the armed forces, together with other millions engaged in the production of war material, created for a few years a fictitious state of prosperity which blinded the eyes of many to the realities of the situation. The rank and file of the people, had a sort of vague and illusive hope that somehow "things would be better" in the future after the war was over. The world had,-they thought, learned its lesson, and a new and better order would be inaugurated after peace had come.
Poor deceived humanity! The records of its bitter disappointment fill the columns of every newspaper and may be heard on every radio newscast. "We looked for peace, and no good came; for a time of health, and behold trouble." (Jer. 8:15.) The better times that the world has so wistfully looked for seem further away. than ever. Instead of the hopedfor improvement, condition have grown steadily worse. Discontent akin to desperation threatens the social structure of every European country. In most parts of that continent the people are but a step removed from actual starvation. The defeated are hungry, embittered and desperate, while those who fought on the side of the Allies are not in much better state, for the wide-spread ruin and devastation wrought in this most disastrous of all wars has created a world-wide shortage of food and other essentials which it will require years to make up. And meantime, as the world leaders fully realize, the people must be kept alive somehow and furnished with clothes and some kind of lodging, or chaos and anarchy will overwhelm all civilization. It is no wonder that even the most optimistic of Babylon's physicians stand aghast at the prospect which faces them,. Those Bible students who have received their enlightenment from the "sure word of prophecy" recognize in all these sad conditions which are goading humanity to desperation, the signs which herald the dawn of earth's great antitypical jubilee and the full establishment of Messiah's Kingdom, that blessed regime which will heal all the ills of mankind.
A NEW SPIRIT IN ASIA
Let us turn our eyes for a moment towards those ancient lands where history began, and from which emanated that light which will lighten the Gentiles and be the glory of His people Israel. (Luke 2:32.) What of Asia?
The years that have passed since the turn of the century have witnessed many revolutionary changes in the old conceptions of "normal" relationships between the peoples of the Orient and the more progressive races of the West, progressive that is, in respect to their superior mechanical ability. A new spirit is abroad in Asia as well as in the rest of the world -- a spirit that manifests itself in revolt against abuses and usurpations of power that have existed for centuries. The political and economic face of the whole world is changing and becoming transformed into something quite unrecognizable when measured by the old standards. Throughout Asia the rising tides of change are in the making. They manifested themselves some thirty-six years ago in China where they still surge on in their revolutionary course. In 1917 they engulfed Russia and swept away the Czarist regime in a maelstrom of revolt. After the first World War they made their appearance on the plains of India when Ghandi began his early campaigns for independence from British rule, and last winter they found expression, when the "all Asia" conference met and the Middle East saw the rise of the Moslem-Arabic group of nations, one that is able to bring powerful pressure to bear upon its fellow religionists in practically every part of the British Empire. Still more recent are the revolts in Indo-China against the Dutch and French exploiters in that part of the world, while at this very hour, British rule in India appears to be coming to an end, with the acceptance by both the Hindu Nehru and the Moslem Jinnah of the terms of a British proposal which, when put into effect; will divide the great sub-continent into at least two separate states, one Hindu and one Mohammedan.
Thus in every corner of the globe, the so-called "backward races" are vociferously demanding equality with and independence from their former masters, and some already seem to be well on the way to gain at least a temporary freedom. In the land which to the Lord's people is in many respects the most important spot on earth and the one upon whose occupancy depends the fate of the Middle East, if not of the whole world, the Holy Land of Palestine, the struggle between the Jew who seeks to gain the right of entry for his people and the British mandate holders who in response to Arab pressure are determined to debar them from entering, goes on. Patriotic though misled groups known as the "Jewish underground," which for the most part are said to be supported by American capital are endeavoring by means of violence to terrorize the British into yielding to their demands, causing a situation which has forced the authorities to place the whole Jerusalem area under martial law. Thus just as the Prophet of old foretold, Jerusalem has become a cup of trembling to the people roundabout, and a burdensome stone 'for all people. - Zech 12:2, 3.
It may readily be inferred from the foregoing summation that Satan's power to deceive the people and to retain his rulership over our race is gradually slipping away from him under the impact of the light now shining from Zion; for all these things are evidence of the fact that our God has come, and that he is not keeping silence, the devouring fire is before him, and it is indeed very tempestuous about him. (Psa. 50:2, 3.) The. signs indicate that, in desperation, as he sees his impending defeat, the Adversary is striving, through his human instruments to put into effect his wicked intention to either rule or ruin- mankind. It is evident that his fall is imminent, for the world presents a picture of a house divided against itself and therefore not destined to stand. (Matt. 12:25.) The world's political structure is being split into two sections, one of them radically - revolutionary in its make-up, while the other supports desperately those long-established institutions of church and state that are now being threatened as never before. These opposing forces are bitterly antagonistic each to the other, and the situation as it now presents itself seems perfectly adapted to bring down in ruins the pillars that support the temple- of what is called civilization. - Luke 12:16-21; Mark 3:26.
- J. R. Hughes.
"See then that ye walk
circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,
THE WORD "circumspect" is from circum signifying around and spectus signifying to look, to watch. The true Christian pathway is so narrow so beset with tests and pitfalls and wiles of the evil one, that, if we walk carelessly even (not to say wickedly) we will be in great danger of mishap. It requires not only that we look all around at every step but, more than this, it requires that we be wise, -- wiser than our fellow creatures of earth, -- wise with the wisdom that cometh from above, which is pure, peaceable loving; yet first of all loyal to the Lord and his Word.
At a centre to which flow by mail the records of the trials and difficulties through which many of the Lords people are called to pass, we are in position to know that their trials are now more numerous and more severe than for a long time at least. Appeals for prayer on their behalf and for counsel respecting the way of the Lord come by nearly every mail from tried ones who are anxious to "walk circumspectly." These are gladly answered, to the best of our ability, -- pointing out the Scriptural lines that must guide all who would walk with the Lord.
We now wish to call attention to some general principles, applicable to every member of the body of Christ, at every time; and especially necessary to be remembered and practiced at the present time, because of the special activity of our Adversary; -- "because the days are evil." For it would appear that, as in the "harvest" of the Jewish age, so in the present "harvest" of the Gospel age, opposition prevails not only in the synagogues, from the Scribes and Pharisees but in the home circle -- between parents and children and husbands and wives -- and among the Lords people. And in proportion as the Adversary seeks to stir up strife, let each of the consecrated be the more on guard to give no avoidable offense either in word or deed. "Walk circumspectly, ... because the days are evil," -- days of special trial and testing.
HELPFUL RULES FOR DAILY LIFE.
The rules we have to suggest are as follows: --
I. Let each resolve to mind his own business.
The Scriptural injunctions along this line caution us not to be busy-bodies in other peoples affairs. Everyone of experience in life has learned that this is a good rule; yet few walk by this rule, circumspectly. If we have not sufficient of our own business and of the Lords service to fill our hands and moments and mouths there is something wrong with us that needs careful prayer and study of the divine Word to set right.
This does not mean that we should be indifferent to the welfare of others under our care, or for whom we are in any degree responsible; but, even in doing for these we should be careful to recognize their rights and the rights of others, and specially careful not to exceed our own rights. Let us never forget that justice must govern in our interferences with the affairs of others, though we may not require full justice in respect to our own interests, but exercise mercy.
II. We should exercise great patience with others and their faults -- more than in dealing with ourselves and our own short-comings.
When we remember that the whole world is mentally as well as physically and morally unsound through the fall, it should make us very considerate for their failings. Since the Lord is graciously willing to cover our blemishes with the merit of the precious blood, we cannot do less than be "very pitiful" and of tender compassion towards others; -- even though their failings be greater or different from our own. This general rule is specially applicable to your own children. Their defects to some extent came from you or through you hence, in dealing with their faults, you should do just as in correcting your own faults, -- earnestly, rigorously for their correction in righteousness, but sympathetically mercifully, lovingly.
III. Do not be touchy and easily offended. Take a kindly, charitable view of the words and acts of others. A trifling slight or rebuff could well be passed unnoticed -- covered with the mantle of generosity and love. A serious offense should be assumed to be unintentional and inquiry should be kindly made in words that would not stir up anger, but in "speech seasoned with grace." In a majority of cases it will prove that no offense was meant.
This rule in the Scriptures comes under the instructions not to indulge in "evil surmisings," -- imagining evil intentions and motives behind the words and acts of others. "Evil surmisings" is ranked by the Apostle as contrary to the words of our Lord Jesus opposed to godliness, and of the same spirit as envy and strife -- of a corrupt mind, works of the flesh and the devil. -- 1 Tim. 6:3-5; Gal. 5:19-21.
LOVE THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT.
The other side of this subject is brought out by the Apostles injunction respecting the elements of the spirit of love, of which Gods people are begotten and which they are to cultivate daily, -- the development of which is one of the chief proofs of their being "overcomers." He says, "Love suffereth long and is kind ...is not easily offended, thinketh no evil...beareth all things, believeth all things [favorably], hopeth all things, endureth all things."
It may be urged that such a disposition would be imposed upon frequently, by the evilly disposed. We reply that those who possess this spirit of love are not necessarily obtuse nor soft: their experiences in cultivating this degree of love have served to develop them and make them of "quick understanding in the fear of the Lord." They will be cautious where there is even the appearance of evil, even while avoiding the imputation of evil intentions until forced to concede them by indisputable evidence. Besides, it would be better far to take some trifling risks and suffer some slight losses many times, than to accuse even one innocent person. And the Lord who has directed this course is abundantly able to compensate us for any losses experienced in following his counsel. He is both able and willing to make all such experiences work together for good to those who love him. He places obedience to his arrangements first (even before sacrifice) saying, "Ye are my disciples, if ye do whatsoever I command you."
Whoever neglects the Lords commands along this line of "evil surmisings" weaves a web for his own ensnarement however "circumspectly" he may walk as respects other matters; for a heart impregnated with doubt and suspicion toward fellow creatures is more than half prepared to doubt God; the spirit of sourness and bitterness implied is at war with the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of love. Either the one or the other will conquer. The wrong spirit must be gotten rid of or it will defile the new creature and make of him a "castaway." On the contrary, if the new nature conquer as an "overcomer," it will be along this line: if evil surmisings are overcome, half the battle against present difficulties and besetments is won. The surmisings are from the heart, and lead us either to good words and acts, or to evil words and acts.
IV. If you have been slandered, you may explain to set yourself right, either publicly or privately but surely avoid doing more than this. If you slander in return you make two wrongs out of one. Let no man render evil for evil to any one; -- no, not even if what you should tell be the truth, while what your neighbor told was falsehood. And in contradicting and explaining false charges, remember not to go beyond this to make counter-charges against your defamer for thus you also would become a slanderer.
THE GOLDEN RULE.
This is the Scriptural rule. We are to do unto others as we would that they should do unto us, and not as they do unto us. The wrongs done toward us will never justify wrong doing on our part. Gods true children are to have no sympathy with Satans delusion -- "Do evil that good may result." But while no Scripture forbids our explaining away the errors and false statements of slanderers, experience proves that if we followed Satan and his deluded servants of unrighteousness around, to contradict every adverse criticism and evil report, we should be kept more than busy. And if Satan found us willing to do so, he would no doubt lead us such a chase as would prevent our having any time to tell forth the good tidings of great joy thus he would gain a victory, and we should lose one.
Rather let us commit our reputation to the Lord as a part of the sacrifice we laid at his feet when we surrendered all in obedience to the "call" to run the race for the great prize of our high calling. If thus we suffer some loss of reputation, by reason of our resolution not to neglect the Kings business to fight for our own tinsel, we may be sure that it will count with him as so much endured for Christs sake; and so much the more will be our reward in heaven, when the battle is over and the victors are crowned.
Meantime, however, it behooves each of the Lords people to be as circumspect as possible at every step of the way. Remember that in proportion to faithfulness and zeal in letting the light shine we will have the malignant opposition of our great Adversary, who seeks to turn and twist and maliciously distort and discolor our every word and act; -- because the accuser of the brethren can find no real charges; and because he is exceeding mad against the humble servants of the truth, as he was against the Chief Servant -- our Lord. He, let us remember, was crucified as a law-breaker at the instance of the prominent ones of the church and betrayed to them by one of his own disciples.
"Consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds" when attacked by the Adversary, -- whoever may be his agents and whatever their missiles. He cannot harm but will only increase our reputation in the Lords sight, if we endure faithfully; and he can do no outward harm that God cannot overrule for the good of his cause -- though that good may sometimes mean "siftings" of chaff and tares from the wheat.
V. Evil speaking, backbiting and slandering are strictly forbidden to Gods people, as wholly contrary to his spirit of love -- even if the evil thing be true. As a preventive of anything of the nature of slander, the Scriptures very carefully mark out one only way of redress of grievances in Matt. 18:15-17.
Even advanced Christians seem to be utterly in ignorance of this divine ruling, and hence professed Christians are often the most pronounced scandal-mongers. Yet this is one of the few special, specific commandments given by our Lord; and considered in connection with the statement, Ye are my disciples if ye do whatever I command you, its constant violation proves that many are not far advanced in discipleship.
FOLLOW THE LORDS WAY.
Let us look carefully at this rule, which, if followed would prevent gossip, "evil-speaking," "backbiting."
Its first provision, for a conference between the principals alone implies candor on the part of the accuser who thinks that he has suffered; and whom here we will call A. It implies his thinking no evil of the accused, whom we will style B. They meet as "brethren," each thinking his own course the right one, to discuss the matter; to see whether they can come to the same view. If they agree, all is well; the matter is settled; peace prevails; the threatened break has been averted, and no one is the wiser.
If they cannot agree, A may not start a scandal by relating his version; -- not even to confidential friends may he disclose the matter, saying, "Dont mention it and especially dont say I told you." No; the matter is still "between thee and him [A and B] alone." If A considers the matter important, so as to wish to prosecute the subject further, he has but one way open to him, namely, to ask two or three others to go with him to B and hear the case from both sides and give their judgment respecting its right and wrong sides. These should be chosen (1) as persons in whose Christian character and good sense and spirit of a sound mind A himself would have confidence, peradventure they should favor Bs view of the matter. (2) They should be chosen as with a view to Bs appreciation of their advice, if they should give their judgment of the matter in As favor.
It would, however, be wholly contrary to the spirit of justice as well as contrary to the spirit of the Masters instructions here, for A to "talk it over" with several friends from whom he desired to select these "two or three witnesses," to make sure that they favored his story (without hearing the other side) and would go to the conference prejudiced -- with their minds already determined against B. No; the matter is between A and B alone until the two or three friends are brought in to hear both sides of the dispute in the presence of both parties.
TO ASSIST, NOT TO INJURE.
If the judgment of the "brethren" is against B he should hear them, should accept their view of the matter as the just, reasonable one; -- unless it involves some principle in which he cannot conscientiously acquiesce. If the "brethren" see the matter from Bs standpoint, A should conclude that in all probability he had erred; and, unless conscience hindered, should accept the position and apologize to B and the brethren for the annoyance caused by his poor judgment. But none of the parties are at liberty to turn scandal-mongers and tell the matter, "confidentially," to others.
If the decision went against A, and he still felt that he was injured and had failed to get justice through a poor choice of advisers, he might (without violence to the principles laid down by our Lord) call other advisers and proceed as before. If their decision were against him, or if he felt that he could not trust to the judgment of any, fearing that all would favor B, he should realize that part at least of his trouble is self-conceit and would do well to fast and pray and study lines and principles of justice more carefully. But A has gained no right to tell anything to the Church nor to anyone, either publicly or privately. If he does so it marks him at once as disobedient to the Lord and exercised by a bad spirit, a carnal spirit, -- contrary to the spirit of the truth, the spirit of love.
If the committee decide partly against B, and only partly in favor of A, the brethren (A and B) should endeavor to see the matter thus, and to arrange matters amicably. In this case there would be nothing respecting the matter to tell; -- nothing that is anybodys business.
If the committee decide wholly against B and wholly in favor of A, and if B will not heed them and make reparation for the wrong or cease from injuring A, the latter is still not at liberty to become a scandal-monger nor are the brethren of the committee. If A considers the matter of sufficient importance to justify further action, there is just one course open to him: he with the committee may lay the matter before the Church. Then the Church shall hear the matter, both sides, and whichever (A or B) shall refuse to recognize the advice of the Church shall be thereafter considered and treated by all as an outsider -- as not of the Church not to be fellowshipped; as dead, until such time as he may repent and reform.
The duties of one member cannot be undertaken by another, -- each must act for himself according to the Lords rule. But if in violation of the Lords command a matter become a scandal and be troubling the Church and disgracing it as a whole, then the properly chosen representatives of the company should take the matter up. They should not only investigate the principals in the difficulty, but with equal diligence they should investigate the real troublers who had circulated the scandal and should reprove them.
But all reproofs should be in love, remembering that all are imperfect in some particulars. The object in every case should be to correct not to punish. The Lord alone has the authority to punish. At very most the Church may for a time withdraw fellowship with the unrepentant, and must as publicly restore it when repentance is manifest. Our love, joy, peace are the ends sought by the Lord, and these we must follow as his disciples. Any other course will surely work injury.
Thus did the Lord guard his true disciples from the insidious sin of slander, which leads onward to other and grosser works of the flesh and the devil, and stops growth in the truth and its spirit of love. And let us note, too, that those who hear slanders and thus encourage slanderers in their wrong course, are partakers of their evil deeds guilty partners in the violation of the Masters commands. Gods true people should refuse to listen to slanders and should point the offender to the Lords Word and the only method therein authorized. "Are we wiser than God?" Experience teaches us that we cannot trust to our own judgments and are on safe ground only when following the voice of the Shepherd implicitly.
RATHER REPROVE THEM IN LOVE.
If any Brother or Sister begins to you an evil report of others, stop him at once, kindly, but firmly. "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them." Refuse to have any share in this violation of our Masters commands, which does great mischief in the Church. Supposing the Brother or Sister to be only a "babe" in spiritual matters call attention to the Lords ruling on the subject Matt. 18:15, and 1 Tim. 5:19. If the conversation is not directed to you but merely in your hearing promptly show your disapproval by withdrawing.
If, after having his attention called to the Lords command on this subject, the slanderer still persists in "evil-speaking," "back-biting" and telling you his "evil surmisings," reprove him more sharply, saying as you go, -- I cannot, must not hear you; for if I did I would be as criminal in the matter as you are -- violating the Lords command. And even if I were to hear your story, I could not believe it; for the Christian who does not respect the Lords Word and follow his plan of redress for grievances, shows so little of the Lords spirit that his word can not be trusted. He who twists and dodges the Lords words would not hesitate to twist and misrepresent the words and deeds of fellow-disciples. If to any extent you listen to such conversation or express "sympathy" with it or with the gossiper or slanderer, you are a partner in the sin and in all its consequences; and if a "root of bitterness" is thus developed, you are more than likely to be one of those "defiled" by it. -- Heb. 12:15.
SLANDERERS ARE THIEVES.
A slanderer is a thief according to worldly standard: as Shakespeare wrote:
He who steals my purse steals trash
According to the Christian standard, still higher as voiced by the Great Teacher, slanderers are murderers. (See Matt. 5:22 1 John 3:15, Revised Version.) Thus seen, the very suggestion to slander is to be shunned, as of the spirit of Satan. -- John 8:44.
VI. Gods people should beware of pride as they would avoid the most deadly plague.
This rule, always good, and well backed by Scripture seems doubly needful to those who are blessed with the light of present truth. This may seem strange: it may be reasoned that the receiving of so much grander views of Gods character and plan would make his people feel the more insignificant and humble, the more dependent on divine goodness, the more trustful of God and the less trustful of themselves. And this should be the effect, always and ever: but alas, with very many it is not so.
Many get to feel that the knowledge of the plan of the ages proves them specially wise or great or good: they seem to forget that God hides the truth from the wise and great -- that no flesh should glory in his sight. They love the truth selfishly, as dealers love their merchandise for the sake of what they can get for it. If they cannot hope for wealth in exchange for the truth they can hope for small notoriety -- to appear wiser than others, that they may dole it out in fragments and thus perpetuate their notoriety for wisdom, and gratify their pride or vanity. Such people do little to help circulate the present truth. If they cannot avoid it, they may mention MILLENNIAL DAWN or ZIONS WATCH TOWER or Tabernacle Shadows or Food for Thinking Christians or About Hell or About Spiritism but when they do so it is usually with some disparaging remark; as for instance, that they "disagree in a good many things;" or that "they pin their faith to no mans coat sleeve, but go to the Word of God direct."
GRACE FOR THE HUMBLE.
Beware of all such people; sooner or later, unless they reform, they will fly the track entirely, and injure more than they ever helped. God does not wish such people to serve his cause, and will surely permit their vanity to stumble them, -- however much their natural ability -- and it is generally people of real or fancied ability who are thus afflicted with the spirit of pride and vanity. God opposeth the proud, but showeth his favor to the humble. We call every reader of our publications to witness that the author has never boasted of his wisdom or originality either publicly or privately. We have boasted in the truth and shall continue to boast of it -- that no human philosophies can hold a candle to its brilliant electric ray; but we have never boasted of being its originator. On the contrary, it is because we did not manufacture it, but because God has revealed it "in due time" as "meat in due season," and because it is so much more wonderful than we or any other human being could originate or concoct, that we have confidence that none other than God is its Author and its Revealer.
If by the grace of God we have in any degree been used by him in serving present harvest truths to others we rejoice in the service and will continue to strive to be faithful to our stewardship: but as for vanity on this account, we see no room or reason for it. We are well aware that our Master could readily have found many others as fit and worthy of the service, and many more capable naturally: we can only suppose, therefore, that herein as previously -- "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of this world to confound the things that are mighty, ... and the things that are despised...to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence." -- 1 Cor. 1:27-29.
We therefore caution all who by the grace of God have been translated out of darkness into Gods marvelous light, that they walk proportionately the more humbly before the Lord: because, if the light received should become darkness, how great would be the darkness and how hopeless the condition! It would, as the Apostle declares, be better for such never to have known the way of life. If salt lose its flavor it is good for nothing more than sand.
"BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART."
VII. Be pure: maintain a conscience void of offense toward God and men. Begin with the heart -- the thoughts: harbor no thoughts that in any sense of the word would be evil. To make sure of this, have Christ Jesus as your pattern, well and much before your mind. When evil is obtruded upon you, either from without or from within, lift your heart to him in prayer for the grace promised to help in every time of need. Keep constantly near you the thought and prayer, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."
VIII. While treasuring and seeking to follow the various specific commands of Scripture, let us seek more and more to understand and come into sympathy with the principles which underlie the divine law: this will enable us to judge of the right and the wrong of such of our words, thoughts and acts as may not be particularly specified in the Lords Word. Indeed, as we get to understand and sympathize with the principles of divine law, to that extent we are getting at the spirit of the divine Word. -- See Psalm 119:97-105.
IX. Shun a contentious and fault-finding disposition as contrary to the spirit or disposition of Christ -- contrary to love.
A certain amount of combative courage is demanded in overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil and their various snares, and this fighting disposition may become a valuable aid to ourselves and the Masters cause if rightly and wisely directed; -- against sin, first in ourselves and secondly in others; if used for the Lord and his people, and against Satan and all his powers of darkness and superstition. This in the Scriptures is called fighting the good fight: and we all should be gallant soldiers in this battle for right and truth, lovingly defending our Captains honor and his peoples liberties.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT.
But such a good use of combativeness is not pleasing to the Prince of this world, and he will seek to pervert what he cannot directly use. Consequently he attempts with some to make combativeness appear a chief virtue: he encourages them to fight everything and everybody; -- the brethren more than the powers of darkness; -- nominal churchmen more than the errors and ignorance which blind them and make them such. Indeed his desire is to get us to "fight against God."
Let us be on guard on this point. Let us first of all judge ourselves lest we cast a stumbling block before others: let us fight down in our own hearts the wrong spirit which seeks to make mountains out of trifles and disposes us to be captious and contentious over littles and nonessentials. "Greater is he that ruleth his own spirit than he that taketh a city." Let us guard ourselves that our defense of the truth be not from motives of self glorification; but from love for the truth, love for the Lord and love for his people the brethren. If love be the impelling spirit or motive it will show itself accordingly, in loving, gentle, patient humble efforts toward the fellow-servants; and let us be "gentle toward all." Let "the sword of the spirit, the Word of God," which is quick and powerful do all the cutting.
X. Beware of all thoughts, feelings and conditions directly or remotely connected with malice, envy strife, hatred. Give these no place in your heart even for a moment; for they will surely do you great injury aside from leading to the injury of others. Keep your heart, your will, your intentions and desires full of love toward God and all his creatures, -- the most fervent toward God, and proportionately toward all who have his spirit and walk in his directed way.
XI. Do not trust your conscience. If it were a sufficient guide you would have no need of the Scriptures. The majority of people have as good as no conscience for they are blind to the principles and laws of God given to guide conscience. And still worse off than these are those mentioned in 1 Tim. 4:2. Hence the imperative necessity for carefully heeding the Lords Word, and walking circumspectly according to its light.
XII. Do not be bold, except for the right, the truth. So far as yourself is concerned preserve a reverential fear -- of sin, and of displeasing the Master and of losing the great reward -- "the prize of our high calling." Nearly all who "fall away" first lose all fear and become self-confident. They forget that it is only "If ye do these things ye shall never fall." (2 Pet. 1:5-10.) " Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should seem to come short of it." (Heb. 4:1.) Partly because of the loss of this proper fear "It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance."
- Reprints, pp. R3593-R3596.
"Be ye therefore followers of God, as
dear children; and walk in love,
IF IT is an encouragement to us, who are in the secret place of prayer, that we have a Divine Listener who knows us thoroughly, it is a further encouragement and comfort that we have a Divine Sympathizer who can feel for us as well; a great High Priest, who is passed into the heavens, who knows what sore temptations are, for he has felt the same.
To the ordinary man the words, "High Priest," have no very special or tender significance, but to an ancient few they were as significant as the word, "Mother," is to us. The High Priest was the living embodiment of God's love and tender care over a chosen people. He was "taken from among men" that he might offer both ,gifts and sacrifices to God, and was thereby able to understand men when pleading or making intercession for them with God. "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house." - Heb. 3:1, 2.
It will help us greatly to think of Jesus as our High Priest, "made like unto his brethren"; that his own experiences of temptation qualify him to be a sympathizing listener. It encourages us to think of him as "in all points tempted like as we are," as one who suffered being tempted; therefore able to succor them that are tempted.
This thought of the tempted but victorious Christ makes the secret place of prayer a place of trustful rest to a weary traveler's heart. How comforting to speak to such a Lord, so infinitely holy and yet so tender, our judge, our Savior, our King and High Priest, who is able to read us thoroughly and therefore able to sympathize. Yes, we can go boldly to such a throne and find it not merely a throne of justice but a throne of compassion, a throne of grace.
Jesus said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John 14:23.) Do we ever think what it would be to have such a promise fulfilled in a literal and outward way; what it would mean if he should even for one day return to earth and abide in our homes, talk to us, gather with the family circle as our guest, expound the Word of God unto us? Is not this just what he has promised to do? This promise of the Master, based upon the condition that we keep his words, can become a spiritual reality to us. Who could fail to be happy in such company! It is the will of God that all his children should be happy in him. What a merciful provision has been made for us in this living Christ!
Keeping his words means more than merely exercising faith in 'the Plan of God. It embraces the thought of hiding them in our heart, making a resolute application of them to our life and needs, praying for grace and guidance that the teachings of God's Word may become a part of our lives; in other words, a sincere transfusion of it into every act and motive, that our lives may reproduce it, trusting in him for power to practice it toward our brethren and the world, yes, even toward our enemies. This is the real purpose of the indwelling of God's Word ,in our hearts, that its fullness of blessing in Christ be first realized, then its precepts followed. Thus we live in the power of them.
What a home ours would be if Christ were actually dwelling in it, interesting himself in all our affairs, sympathizing both in our sorrows and in our. joys, directing us in all our difficulties, speaking to us, too, of things transcending this life, telling us of the heavenly inheritance for which he is preparing us, and bidding us to be of good cheer? What an atmosphere of heaven would pervade our homes! What holy strength would come to us from that divine companionship! What peace his presence there would bring, and what a separation from all earthly things, and how heavenly minded we would become! What a hushing there would be of all those tones of anger, irritation, selfishness, and uncharitableness!
Christ has promised to all who love him that the Father and he would come unto such and make their abode with them, not temporarily, but permanently. Paul said (Eph., 3:17), "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love." We must have the spirit of God and of Christ in our hearts, like a friend accessible as counselor and comforter, to whom every doubt or sorrow or care can be freely brought for counsel in words of wisdom and love.
The voice of the spirit is low, and can be heard distinctly only by the New Creature, created anew in the image of its glorious Lord. It is always a "still, small voice, easily lost amid the clamor of the noisy world, but it must be heard, for by it, the first-'fruit of the land of glory, we behold the New Creation, and the promise of unspeakable joys and glories yet future, though we still sojourn in a world where Satan's seat is, and where all is old and full of decay and corruption.
There is a danger of assuming to be guided by the holy spirit, when one is only indulging self-will or self-conceit. The holy spirit is thus dishonored. The spirit of God will not teach or lead a child of God in his assembly with God's children unless that one is habitually under the guidance and instruction of the same spirit in his ordinary life, in his own home, and in his daily occupation. Not only does the spirit: divide- to every man in the Church gifts for the edification of the body, as God wills, but it also speaks to us words of comfort as we as words of warning and reproof. Sometimes it speaks to us in our indifferences as a spirit of judgment, convincing us of the wrong way. Sometimes it is a rebuking spirit, making us ashamed of our deficiencies, and humbling us to the dust. At other times it is a spirit of light, when it has become difficult to see one step before us. It enters into our perplexities as the spirit of wisdom, into our ignorance as the spirit of truth, into our fears as the spirit of peace, into our weakness as the spirit of might and spirit of life. As the spirit of grace and supplication it helps us to pray, enabling us to realize our sonship to the Father, for "the spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God."
The Master is called "the Lord of peace." He is the great peacemaker, for he has made peace by the blood of his cross; and he is also the great peacegiver, for he says, "My peace I give unto you." By his blood he hath reconciled us to God and brings us into his own perfect peace by showing us how to live, as he himself did, with an absolutely unquestioning trust in his heavenly Father's love.
Our gracious God promises us more than sympathy alone when we bring our sorrows to him. He promises us help as well, 'but we must leave to him the way of helping us, for we do not comprehend the vastness of the struggle, nor the snares and guileful devices laid for our feet by the god of this world. The lump of clay, from the moment it comes under the transforming hand of the Potter, is molded into just what he wants it to be-vessels of different forms and adapted to different uses, but all to one end, "sanctified and meet for the Master's use and pre pared unto every good work." - 2 Tim. 2:21.
Our part then, as the lump of clay, is the trusting and the yielding of ourselves to the will of the Potter -- "Yield yourselves unto God." - Rom. 6:13.
Just as the potter, however skilful he is, cannot make a beautiful vessel out of a lump of clay that is never put into his hand, so neither can God make out of us a vessel unto his honor unless we place ourselves in his hands. We, who have heard the call of our God to a life of entire consecration, must come out from the world and be separate. "Be not conformed to this world," Paul says. (Rom. 12:2.) No, ,indeed, the true child of God cannot pattern after ,this present evil order of things, its ideas, hopes and aims. "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." (James 4:4.) The privilege of the true believer now, having life through Christ and union with him, is to find in every circumstance of life an occasion for trusting God, for the exercise of faith, and for blessing to the soul. We must set our affections on heavenly things, not on earthly ones, seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, therefore, surrendering everything that would interfere and retard us in the work of being changed into the image of our Master.
The prayer of our hearts should be,
Christ, then, as our objective, becomes Christ in us. We grow and are strengthened as we contemplate him, and thus God molds and fashions, within us the likeness of his Son.
A priestly standing is one of constant subjection :to the revealed will of God and an abiding consciousness of his presence. We must remember that the eye of the great Refiner is upon us, watching to see how the precious metal of our character reflects his image. In the process he is near with his grace, to sustain and his presence to cheer. God has raised us up in righteousness, complete in Christ, to abide before him as his kings and priests. In the school of experience we learn our most valuable lessons, walking in the liberty of Christ, holding him as our Head, subject to him in all things and not to man. Our liberty comes from an understanding of the mind or will of God ,towards us, in Christ Jesus our Lord and King.
What are the facts of the case? If God has called us only to a servant's place, then we have not been called to liberty, and we are not children and heirs of the promise, but still in bondage. The Jewish people refused to accept the Savior. They remained servants of the Law by rejecting the liberty that is in Christ. But we who were once servants of sin have now become servants of righteousness; "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son." Faith in Christ hash made us free and because of that, Paul entreats us to "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and "be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
The Scriptures point out to us that our comfort comes through fellowship with the Heavenly Father and with our Lord Jesus. First of all we have need of the comforting knowledge that our sins are forgiven and that we are no longer strangers and aliens, but children of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, our Lord, "if so be that we suffer with him." We need to be comforted, too, with the assurance that ,our God is very sympathetic, very pitiful and kind in that if we are overtaken in a fault we may be restored and not be utterly cast down. (Psalm 37:24.) We have a loving and just God. If we turn from the error of our way, seeking the Father's forgiveness, he is just and willing to restore us to his favor again.
There is much implied in the expression, "Redeeming the time" - more than merely using the time profitably. It has the thought of buying back the past years by means -of a right use of the present. God would have us profit by past neglect, failures, and mistakes. He not only mercifully averts, through ,the blood of Christ, our sad results in judgment, but through a deeper acquaintance with the value of the cross of Christ and the humbling retrospect of the past, we are enabled to spend and be spent in his service.
God, our Father, desires that we should occupy the present moments to his glory. Vain regrets profit nothing, but we may profit much, if misspent time is redeemed by a wise and diligent use of the precious experiences thus gained. What would Paul, the Apostle of the Lord, have been had he not previously spent his days as Saul of Tarsus, the persecuting Pharisee? Like him we may profit by retracing past mistakes and sins and marking the abundance of grace and wisdom in which God has met every shortcoming and folly. In this work of Christ, we can say with Paul, "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Although delighting in God, and God's own delight, yet the Son of God's delights were also with the sons of men. His sympathies, his affections and his joys are linked with us here below, who were the cause of the deep travail of his soul; and in the fullness of his glory he will present us faultless, with exceeding joy. Soon each believer will be presented in the fullness of Christ, bearing the unclouded image of the Son of God, the first-born among many brethren.
The Scriptures reveal that the whole life and manner of this beloved Son were expressive of self devotedness to the Father and a delight in doing the will of God. Therefore, if we would present an acceptable worship or service we must offer it not only throughout Lord Jesus, but in his spirit. God desires us to have unbroken fellowship with him, not only in this life but for all eternity. Therefore, if we would preserve the consciousness of his presence and fellowship, we must remember the precepts recorded in his Word, for if we say we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness of our own ways, the Word of God says we lie and do not the truth. One great evidence of walking in the light of divine truth is that we 'have fellowship one with another. May we have more of this grace of Christ, and bow the ear to wisdom. Then shall we regard discretion and our lips will keep knowledge. (Prov. 5:2.) Is not every exercise of conscience which ends in self-abasement a result of the constant work of our great High Priest? He upholds us before God, and by the holy spirit, through the Word, keeps the heart alive and awake to a sense of its own weakness and unworthiness, and to a constant feeling of dependence on him. The great Shepherd of the sheep will not cease to bear on his shoulders the weakest of the flock, until he at last places it in the "fold" of rest and joy which he has gone to prepare. Throughout this dark night of the world, and until the morning of the resurrection dawns, our shelter, our protection is the sacrifice of Christ.
How beautiful, consoling, and refreshing is this legacy of love and peace left to us by the Lord and Redeemer.
Quickened together with him, and partakers of the divine promises, we have left the flesh and the world, and are separated forever to God in Christ to a calling of which Christ himself in glory is the pattern, and to, a profession of which he is the Apostle and Instructor. We are not of this world; we are to be a "peculiar people," not only before God, but in the eyes of the world, and it must be known from our manner of living and conversation that we are followers of this great Apostle, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We cannot reach the heights of Christian perfection unless we follow faithfully the Guide who will lead us there, and day by day we will find him bringing us more and more into conformity with his will in all things, molding and fashioning us into a vessel unto his honor, sanctified and meet for his use, and fitted to every good work.
- T. G. Smith.
Miss L. C.
Hopkins, Brookline, Mass. - (January).
Will you please explain our Lord's words in John 2:19 where he is reported to have said to the Jews, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
The Jews to whom our Lord spoke understood him to refer to the Jewish temple, for they replied: "Forty and six years was this temple in building, and, wilt thou rear it up in three days? (Verse 20.) However, our Lord did not refer to the Jewish temple, but as St. John explains in verse 21, "He spake of the temple of his body."
The question next arises as to the meaning of this expression, "temple of his body." We think the primary reference of our Lord was to his own impending death and resurrection, but that his words may be understood as applying also 'to his mystical Body, the Church, of which he is the all-glorious Head.
From verse 22 it appears that at the time our Lord spoke, the disciples themselves did not understand the import of his words, but that "when he was risen" they recalled them, evidently regarding his personal resurrection as their fulfillment. Then also "they believed the Scripture," -- doubtless that Scripture which predicted 'his resurrection so unmistakably, namely, Psalm 16:10.
In stating our belief, as we have foregoing, that ,the primary reference of our Lord was to his own death and resurrection, let us not be misunderstood. We do not at all mean to say or imply that his resurrection body and the human body destroyed on Calvary were the same. The true thought is expressed by St. Peter: "Put to death in flesh he was made alive in spirit." (1 Pet. 3:18 Diaglott, word for word translation.) "We know no man after the flesh," says St. Paul. "Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now know we him so no more." - 2 Cor. 5:16.
But while our Lord's words had their primary reference to himself, they find an application also to the Church -- to that company who seek to walk in his steps.
In 1 Cor. 3:16 the Apostle questions the Church as follows: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?" And again: "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." - Verse 17.
Moreover, in his second letter to the same Church the Apostle again employs this symbolism: "What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" "For ye are the temple of God, the living One." (2 Cor. 6:16.) Indeed, an able scholar of other days (A. J. Gordon) tells us that the Greek phrase, "ton noon ton Theou" translated "Temple of God" occurs in the New Testament ten times only, and that in every case it refers to the Church.*
The ten places are: Matt. 26:61; 1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Cor. 3:17; 1 Cor. 3:17; 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 3:12; Rev. 11:1; Rev. 11:19.
We conclude, then, that it was first of himself, and then of his Body, the Church, our Lord spoke. The Jews did, indeed, destroy the Head, and all down through the Gospel Age the various members of the Body of Christ have been called upon to "suffer with him," to be "dead with him," "to lay down their lives for the brethren." This Body of Christ (the members of which have been selected, one here, one there, some from within the nominal churches, some from without them -- some from every kindred, tribe and nation), has been in process of destruction from the time of Jesus until now, and very soon, if 'we mistake not, the last member will have proved himself "faithful unto death."
But how are we to understand our Lord's further word in respect to his raising up of the temple of his Body, in three days? We think St. Peter gives us a clue in his Second Epistle, chapter 3, verse 8 (2 Pet. 3:8), where we read: "Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." The destruction of the temple of God, which is the Church, began in the fifth thousand-year day of the world, in the destruction of the chief Cornerstone, and it has progressed since, during the remainder of the fifth day, all of the sixth day, and we are now in the beginning of the seventh day "very early in the morning." And the promise of the Lord is that the chief, or first resurrection, "his" resurrection, shall be completed about this time. Speaking of the Church, the Psalmist (Psa. 46:5) declares "God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early [margin, when the morning appeareth]." Our Lord 'was a part of three days dead and was raised a spirit being, by the Father, on the third day, early in the morning; so likewise the Church which is his Body will be raised on the third day, the third thousand-year day from the time he spoke (the seventh thousand-year day of the world), early in the morning.
- P. L. Read.
Loving greetings in Jesus' Precious Name... .
The Brooklyn convention was a great blessing to me. I enjoyed the discourses very much. The one on God's Glory was specially impressive. How true that even though we may come to see God's glory by the revelation of the holy spirit, still 'his glory eludes us as we can now behold only "in part." It is a wonderful experience, nevertheless, to have that faith that enters in beyond the veil, that grasps the precious promises and lays hold on them, so that things unseen become actual even here. . . One of the sweetest blessings of the convention to me was in meeting dear Sister Blackburn.
I have been reading about "the cloud" that accompanied the Israelites by day, and the "pillar of fire" by night. It is interesting to note how carefully this is marked out in Numbers 10, where it is. related that whether it was for a day or a year, or for a short period or a long period, they never moved except when the cloud moved, and then upon the sounding of the silver trumpet. What great truths there are here for the Christian, and how perfectly Jesus demonstrated the power of them in doing the Father's will. I have been trying to practice the presence of God more carefully, daily and hourly, in this respect, and to listen for the "voice of the silver trumpet," and it has been such a blessing.
Joshua's experience on the death of Moses is an impressive one too. He felt very greatly alone and realized the depth of the problem in leading that great people, and God three times bade him to be brave and of a good courage, that he would be with him even as he was with Moses. There seems a practical lesson here also--that we should go in the strength of the Lord, knowing his great power will never fail us in any respect if we faithfully "keep the charge." As we look back at these simple, yet great, pictures which are recorded for the child of God, does it not make us realize what a great privilege it is to be a child of his? May we never forget this... .
With warmest love in Jesus to you all,
Yours in Him,
G. G. -- Mass.
[Though written some months ago, the following letter, received by one of the brethren, we believe will be of interest to our readers. -Ed. Com.]
First of all, my sincere thanks, dear brother, for your sympathy with our spiritual and bodily needs, which touches us deeply. As soon as we receive your package, I will write more.
In accordance with your wishes I'll tell you something of our experiences during the Nazi years. . . . In contrast to the J. W.'s we accepted the prohibition of Hitler in 1933 as permitted by the Lord and took our stand (or stood still) clothed in the whole armor of God. - Eph. 6:13-18; John 9:4; 11:9, 10; Mark 13:37.
Already at that time we realized that the witness-work was gradually drawing to a close. Thus we were somewhat prepared when in 19'33 night came down upon this land, and we had well considered everything needful for the time of rest (because of darkness) and the dangers attending it (Psa. 91:5; Isa. 26:20; Song of Col. 5:2; Matt. 25:5) -- except for the secret small meetings in homes and other meetings which we held later on, besides the annual memorial supper.
We held, fast to Rom. 13:1 where it is written: "Let every man be subject to the higher powers; for there is no authority except it be of God. " Paul is said to have written the epistle in the year 54 A. D., i.e., the year in which the Emperor Claudius diedd and Nero came to power. Even if Nero was not yet the terrible persecutor he became by the year 68, when the Apostles Paul and Peter suffered martyrdom through him, the Christians were already looked upon as strangers and interlopers, who took a strong stand against the heathen deification of the Roman emperor. Now if the Apostle even then made it the duty of the Roman ecclesia not to oppose this heathen ,authority, I believe we have not erred in considering Hitler's authority as permitted by God, and doing. our work, paying taxes, etc., as well as showing respect insofar as it was compatible with our covenant with the Lord. In regard to the atrocities committed in the concentration camps and elsewhere, we knew nothing of that until we read it in. the daily papers and heard over the radio after the collapse of the government.
However, the Jew-baiting and other cruelties became known a few years after 1933 and opened the eyes of many of the people here. But persecution and oppression of Jews, have been more or less prevalent during the past few centuries even among so-called Christian nations. Therefore the anti-Semitic attitude of our government did not shake our own relationship to the authorities.
Of course there are limits to the respect for the state, but I believe that we have kept well within these limits. By so doing we have averted much needless suffering and sorrow....
Nevertheless some of the brethren among our number were betrayed and thrown into prison, for example, after partaking of the memorial supper. This was a risk that every one shared who took part in such meetings... .
I can only tell you, dear brother, that conditions were much worse than we had imagined the great tribulation to be, and I believe that the Scripture Rev. 14:9,12 has been fulfilled in us, even though it seems that the Image of the Beast is a future Power. (Rev. 13.14, 15.) Our experiences of the past fourteen years, have made it clear to us that the pictures or visions of Revelation are unfolding before our eyes in the end of this Age, while we represent a sort of anti-type of John.
We lived through the worst bombardments in the temporarily equipped air-raid shelters. Often fifty to seventy bombs of the greatest caliber made direct hits in nearest proximity. The howling was awful and the air pressure tremendous. The two-foot thick foundation walls in the shelters often swayed back and forth, the whole earth trembled, women and children shrieked aloud and others prayed for help and deliverance. During the intervals between bombings we were often able to speak a word of comfort and explanation of the present time, and point out that the entire catastrophe was caused only by men, and could not well be ascribed to the Creator. But it is true as we read in Rev. 16: "'They reformed not from their works, although the plague was very great."
The city of Hannover, which formerly had nearly half a million residents, because of its location in northwestern Germany, was among those cities which endured most from alarms and air raids, suffering 113 air raids and more than a thousand alarms. The inner part of the city proper (i.e., exclusive of suburbs) has been ninety to ninety-five per cent demolished. Only a few sections and the suburbs have fared better. Although I live within the city, I can thankfully say that our house and the one next to it have been saved as by a miracle. The last daylight raid on March 25, 1945 was especially terrible. I was able to extinguish two fires which started in our house. During this heavy bombardment I was outdoors on my knees, and all around me bombs were falling, and every once in a while I was spattered with. dirt. Many who like myself, could not get to the shelter in time suffered bursting lungs from the descending air-mines, and soon died. The sun was shrouded by thick clouds of dirt and smoke. Returned to our home, I found an indescribable condition of demolition. I never knowingly went into danger, for that would have been tempting God. But like myself, all the brethren and sisters in our town, insofar as they remained here, were led miraculously through the greatest of dangers and trials, although our hearts did sometimes quake and quiver. (Psa. 27:1-14.) Some of our brethren lost their homes and possessions, some their sons, but their lives, like Job's, were spared.
If the German nation does not soon receive some fundamental aid, it will cease to exist. The peasantry. and all living in country districts are living better than ever before, although they, too, realize that they will be drawn into the vortex in the near future. The population of the cities, unless they have their own business, are hungry and cold today, not to mention the millions of refugees from Eastern Germany, whose need is beyond all description.
The average German is not more objectionable before God than the average person of other nations, and I believe that this will become evident in the next few years. Only the German has to be handled more firmly than a western person, for example: The German is politically completely immature and narrow-minded. That is probably due to the military education obtaining here for centuries, and the complete failure of the large churches has also contributed.. .
The need here is incomparably greater than after the first World War. The degree of the need is about as great as the greater degree of the disaster as compared to 1914-18. The number of tuberculosis patients, hunger, sick, sexual diseases, besides vermin of all kinds is rapidly increasing, also juvenile crime. Added to that, freezing cold weather for the past two weeks (about 5-15 degrees F). Theft and crime are overwhelming. Even in offices and factories everything is being nabbed that is not fastened to wall or floor, and that could be used in exchange for food. - Ezek. 7:5.
Everything is lacking, and only those can buy who have something to exchange -- so we have reverted to jungle law. Order has disappeared. Only those who have been exiled from eastern Germany receive the little that is to be had for certificates (ration-stamps): We do receive the most essential foods up to 1500 calories, though in very one-sided form. (Lack of variety.) It is not enough to sustain life. The heavy-workers receive somewhat more. For fuel we have received 500 pounds of wood. With that amount, stiff, swollen fingers are the rule. Formerly we used 35-40 hwt. of coal and coke each winter. There are no public buildings for warming oneself. Thus we are progressing with giant strides to chaos and destruction. -- Micah 7:1-13.
But in the midst of this misery there is a small group of watchers, a "people for a possession," as the Apostle Paul expresses it, who know their God (Rev. 15:2-4), who share the general need of the people, who seek to relieve the suffering in loving helpfulness, wherever they can, even though in the aggregate it only seems like a drop in a bucket, just as was the case with Elijah and the widow. But God is in the midst of her (Psa. 46:5) and she is left amidst the starving, blind people to represent God, as ambassadors of God and Christ. There never was a national extremity, no great catastrophe or event under heaven where God has not had his ambassadors in the persons of his sons, and where he has not sympathized with these things. - Rom. 8:2'0-27.
This people for a possession have an especially important responsibility to fulfil in these days, as it seems to me. . . .
There are about thirty brethren who keep in close touch here. Then there are about ten who keep somewhat apart, because they are of the opinion that it is useless to continue to meet and fellowship. Our Class has met regularly since September. We had to wait six months for permission of the military government. Serving the Class are two elders, Brother A. S. and myself. Brother S. has been in bed with pneumonia the past few days. We pray God may spare him to his wife and us. He is in grave danger, because he is physically weak and rundown. He is 55 years old, and my dearest and best beloved brother and fellow-soldier of Christ for over 25 years.
I greet you heartily with Psalm 149.
Your brother and servant,
J. O. -- Germany.