[R1295 : page 49]
ZION'S WATCH TOWER and Herald of Christ's Presence
ROCK OF AGES
Other foundation can
no man lay
A RANSOM FOR ALL
"Watchman, What of the Night?" "The Morning Cometh, and a Night also!" Isaiah 21:11
VOL. XII. APRIL, 1891. NO. 4. ACCEPTABLE TO GOD.
How beautiful in the sight of right-thinking men is a well balanced, self-possessed and disciplined character; and in contrast with such, how unlovely are the undisciplined and ungoverned --the selfish, the unjust, the unkind and the violent-tempered. Naturally, the one awakens in us emotions of pleasure and admiration, and the other, of pain. And if such is the appreciation of virtue and the abhorrence of the lack of it among men who have lost much of the original image of God, with what a keen appreciation must they be observed by a pure and holy God.
Men of the world, who have no personal acquaintance with God, have no special thought as to how they appear in his sight; but with what carefulness should those who love him and who value his approval study to conform their conduct to his pure and holy mind. True, all the justified and consecrated, notwithstanding their imperfections and short-comings through inherited weaknesses, are acceptable to God through Christ, whose robe of righteousness amply covers us; but the measure of our acceptableness to God, even through Christ, is only to the extent that, while availing ourselves of his imputed righteousness, we are earnestly striving to attain actually to the standard of perfection. By so doing we manifest our actual appreciation of the divine favor. With what confusion and chagrin would one be covered who, in the midst of a fit of violent temper, or an unjust or mean transaction unworthy of his dignity or his profession, should be suddenly surprised by the unexpected appearance of a beloved friend of high and noble character. And yet the eye of such a one is ever upon us. And only to the extent that we dismiss this thought from our minds, or else that we undervalue the Lord's opinion and approval, can we allow the evil propensities of the fallen nature to run riot. [R1296 : page 49]
Realizing the downward tendency of the old nature, how constantly should the above prayer of the Psalmist be in the minds of God's consecrated children. But how, one inquires, may the difficult task of subduing the inherent depravity be accomplished? It is hard for one, particularly under exasperating circumstances, to control a hasty or violent temper, for another to bridle a gossiping tongue; and especially when the trials of life have put their colored glasses on the eyes and slightly soured the disposition. It is hard for another to be strictly just in his dealings with his fellow-men. And then what a host of inherent weaknesses there are, which every one realizes and knows that he must strive against, if he would be acceptable with God. The thoughts of our hearts are not manifest to fellow-men until we express them in words or actions; but even the very thoughts and intents of the hearts are all open and manifest to [R1296 : page 50] God. What a comfort to the honest-hearted!
The Psalmist repeats this inquiry, saying, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?" and then replies, "By taking heed thereto, according to thy Word." And then he frames for us this resolution: "I will meditate on thy precepts and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word." (Psa. 119:9,15,16.) Here is the secret of a pure and noble life, acceptable to God. It is to be attained, not merely by prayers and righteous resolutions, but in addition to these, by careful, painstaking heed, by systematic and diligent effort at self-cultivation, by the careful and persevering weeding out of evil thoughts and the diligent and constant cultivation of pure, benevolent and noble thoughts, and by nipping in the bud the weeds of perversity before they bring forth their hasty harvest of sinful words and deeds.
But observe, further, that this heed or care is to be taken, not according to the imperfect standard of our own judgment, but according to God's Word. The standard by which we test our lives makes a vast difference in our conclusions. The Psalmist further commends this standard to us, saying: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." [That is, if we take heed to our ways according to God's law, it will turn us completely from the path of sin to the path of righteousness.] The testimony [the instruction] of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple [the meek, teachable ones--clearly pointing out to them the ways of righteousness]. The statutes [the decrees, ordinances and precepts] of the Lord are right [the infallible rules of righteousness], rejoicing the heart [of the obedient]. The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean [not a menial, servile fear, but a noble fear, begotten of love--a fear of falling short of his righteous approval], enduring forever. More to be desired are they [the law and the testimony of the Lord] than gold; yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned [concerning the dangers of the way and the snares of the adversary, and concerning everything which is calculated to discourage, or to hinder his growth in grace], and in keeping of them there is great reward."
"Who [in the use merely of his own fallible judgment and without the standard of God's law] can understand his errors [can rightly judge himself]?" But when, as we measure ourselves by this standard, we detect and deplore our short-comings, let us remember the Psalmist's prayer: "Cleanse thou me from secret faults"--thus supplementing our efforts by our prayers.
But there is still another part of this prayer which the Lord thus puts into our mouths. It reads: "Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression." Let us consider what kind of sins would be presumptuous sins. To presume signifies to take for granted without authority or proof. A presumptuous sin would therefore be taking for granted and asserting as truth something which God has not revealed, or the perversion of what he has revealed. To claim and hold tenaciously as a part of God's plan any doctrine, merely on the ground of fallible human reason and without divine authority, would therefore be a presumptuous sin. Of this nature is the sin of those who malign the divine character by boldly teaching the blasphemous doctrine of eternal torment without warrant from the Scriptures, and in direct contradiction of them. And there are many other sins of greater and less degree which partake of the same character. But the words here seem to refer directly to some particular error into which there is danger of drifting--"Then shall I be innocent from the great transgression" --evidently, the sin unto death referred to by the apostles also (1 John 5:16; Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-31). Such a sin would be that of presuming upon the love of God to bring us salvation, even though we should wilfully refuse it through the channel which he has appointed--the precious blood of Christ, shed for our redemption.
Well indeed may we pray and strive to be kept back from presumptuous sins--sins of pride and of arrogant self-will which does not meekly submit to the will of God. Let us, beloved, beware of the slightest tendency toward pride and self-will, [R1296 : page 51] or the disposition to be wise above what is written, or to take for granted what God does not clearly promise. "Then," indeed, if we watch and strive against the very beginning of that proud and haughty spirit which surely presages a fall, we shall be "innocent from the great transgression."
"Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who doth meditate therein day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." (Psa. 1:1-3.) If we make the Word of God the theme of our constant meditation, its principles will soon be assimilated and become part of our mental make up, making our characters more beautiful and commendable both to God and to our fellow men; and in harmony with this habit of the mind the acts of life will speak. The purified fountain will send forth sweeter waters than formerly, bearing refreshment and good cheer to all who come in contact with it. It will make happier homes--better husbands, better wives and better children. It will sweeten the temper, soften the voice; dignify the language, cultivate the manners, ennoble the sentiments and lend its charming grace to every simple duty. It will bring in the principle of love and cast out the discordant elements of selfishness. Thus it will make the home the very garden-spot of earth, where every virtue and every grace will have ample room to expand and grow.
It will not only thus favorably affect the individual and the home-life, but it will go out into the avenues of trade, and truth and fair-dealing will characterize all the business relations; and thus will God be honored by those who bear his name and wear the impress of his blessed spirit.
While the heights of perfection cannot be reached so long as we still have these imperfect bodies, there should be in every child of God a very perceptible and continuous growth in grace, and each step gained should be considered but the stepping-stone to higher attainments. If there is no perceptible growth into the likeness of God, or if there is a backward tendency, or a listless stand-still, there is cause for alarm. Let us constantly keep before our eyes the model which the Lord Jesus set for our example--that model of the complete fulfilment of the will of God, in which the whole law was kept blamelessly. Let us follow his steps of righteousness and self-sacrifice as nearly as a full measure of loving zeal and faithfulness and loyalty to God will enable us to do, and we shall have a blessed sense of the divine approval now and the glorious reward of divine favor in due time.
THE JEWISH HOPE.
"Thou art the land of all my dreams--
Thy wanderer's heart is thine,
And oft he lingers by thy streams,
O holy Palestine!
"A stranger in a stranger's land,
O'er hill and vale I roam;
But hope forever points her hand
Towards my fathers' home.
"I know that Israel's weary race
Is scorned on every shore.
They scarcely find a dwelling place
Where they were lords before.
"Yet 'mid the darkness and the gloom,
A light begins to break;
O Israel, from the dreary tomb
Thy buried hopes awake,--
"And lips that raise the fervent prayer,
'How long, O Lord, how long?'
Shall change the wailings of despair
To the triumphant song.
"And I may live to see the hour--
The hour that must be near--
When in his royalty and power
Our Shiloh shall be here.
"Till then my prayers will rise for thee,
Till then my heart be thine,
O land beyond the stormy sea,
O holy Palestine."
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--Knowing that all true reports of signs of our times are of interest to the TOWER readers, I venture to give first a short description of Jerusalem, and second a fresh letter, written by a German, Pastor Schlicht, of Jerusalem. The letter is styled thus: "Jerusalem Reviving!"
It may be well to mention, for those who are little familiar with the different names of this ancient city, that before Jerusalem became a place of residence, its sacred hill was called "Moriah" (2 Chron. 3:1), northeast of the hill Zion, and was early hallowed by God's trial of Abraham's faith. (Gen. 22:1-19.) Its most ancient name was "Salem." (Gen. 14:18; Psa. 76:2; Heb. 7:2.) Afterwards it was called "Jebus," as belonging to the Jebusites. (Judg. 19:10,11.) Several other significant names were given it: "Ariel" (Isa. 29:1,2,7); "The Holy City" (Neh. 11:1; Mat. 4:5; 27:53); "The City of David" (2 Sam. 5:7); and "The City of the Great King."--Psa. 48:2; Mat. 5:35.
Jerusalem is situated on elevated ground, south of the centre of the Holy Land, about thirty-three miles from the Mediterranean sea, and about nineteen miles from the river Jordan. From the time it was called "The City of David," according to 2 Sam. 5:6-9 (where the storming of its fortress by David is given), it also became the religious and political centre of the typical Kingdom by the divine, great King Jehovah's appointment. (1 Kings 11:36.) After the division of the tribes, "The City of David" continued for a time to be the capital of the kingdom of Judah, though several times plundered, until at length it was made "desolate" at the [R1297 : page 52] Babylonian captivity.--2 Chron. 12:9; 21:16; 25:23; 36:3,10,17-20; 2 Kings 14:13.
After seventy years of desolation, on the return of the Israelites from captivity (536 B.C.) it was rebuilt the second time (Ezra 5:2); but it did not remain long, for only a century later it was conquered by the Romans under Pompey, and plundered by Crassus, B.C. 54.
The third time it was rebuilt by Herod the Great, commencing in B.C. 20; and the city and its grand temple remained until they were taken by the Roman Titus, and totally destroyed, A.D. 70. This ancient city Jerusalem suffered in all thirty-two wars, was stormed and taken seven times, and was twice totally despoiled. Thus it has remained until recently--a "desolate" city--as Jesus, the Great Prophet, predicted: "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate;" and "Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."--Mat. 23:38; 24:2.
History tells us that the Emperor Julian, the Apostate, endeavored to rebuild the temple in A.D. 363, with the object of making void and of none effect the prophecy of Christ as above quoted; but his design was frustrated by an earthquake, and by fire bursting forth from the foundation-walls of the "thrown down" temple.
But though the "due time" for the rebuilding of the fourth temple (Ezek. 40-48) has not yet arrived, nevertheless "The City of the Great King" has been wonderfully reviving for the past sixteen years; and not only the city, but also the land, "a land [once] flowing with milk and honey."--Exod. 3:8.
We give now the letter from the pen of Pastor Schlicht, which was addressed to the editor of a German monthly journal, published at Gernsbach, Germany:--
"It is wonderful, and comprehensible only to those who truly believe the prophecy of the inspired Scripture; it is remarkable how the city of Jerusalem for the past sixteen years is growing in size and grandeur--a city, remember, in the midst of a rocky and for the most part unfruitful mountainous district, which, since its destruction, had nothing left of its ancient beautiful surroundings. Thus for the past eighteen centuries it had no commerce, no industry, no outward brightness, lustre and splendor. No! it had nothing of that which in general will elevate and advance a city. It has been truly a 'trodden down' city as predicted.--Luke 21:24.
"But, nevertheless, this 'desolate' city is mightily reviving, blooming up, and continually expanding. This is demonstrated by its continual, unceasing, new-arising business buildings, [R1297 : page 53] factories and dwellings. Surely this ought to be a measuring-scale of its being favored AGAIN from on high.
"The walls of ancient Jerusalem, which once enclosed all the buildings of the city, are no more, of course; and if they still remained, the enclosure would prove too small. For the past sixteen years the city is rapidly and continually expanding. Outside the ancient city wall, the school of Bishop Gobat, and the orphan asylum of Pastor Schneller, in the western district of the city, have stood for the last few years; and in that time dwellings have been arising all around them. Yes, dwelling-houses with surrounding gardens, asylums, church-buildings, business-blocks, factories, etc., are rapidly arising. It is wonderful that Jerusalem is now reviving to such an extent that from West to North there are streets from two and a half to three miles long, being filled with buildings. And notwithstanding this, the applications for dwellings and business-places are continually increasing, and the rents of these gradually rising.
"And not only is the city reviving, but the Holy Land also. For the past eighteen centuries, what the prophet Jeremiah says has been true: 'The ground is chapped, for there was no rain in the earth [land], the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.' (Jer. 14:4.) But this state of the land is rapidly changing, and is becoming as David says: 'Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly;...thou makest it soft with showers; thou blessest the springing [forth of fruit] thereof,' etc. (Psa. 65:10-13.) And more than this, we may even put the words of the prophet Jeremiah thus:--The ground is no more chapped, for there are NOW rains in the land, the plowmen are no more ashamed, and do not need to cover their heads any longer--for the favor of Jehovah is causing the city of Jerusalem to revive!"
J. A. WEIMAR.
"For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be condemned [as unfit for the honors of the high calling] who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." --2 Thes. 2:11,12.
A delusion is an error which, when viewed from certain standpoints of observation, has the appearance of truth. A delusion is more or less dangerous according to the importance of the truth which it misrepresents, beclouds or falsifies; and, if followed, it leads accordingly to more or less disastrous consequences. If a merchant be deluded and misled by an apparent boom in his line of industry, the result to him may be financial disaster. If a man or woman be deluded by false ideas of life or by false appearances of character when choosing a partner for life, the result may be long years of domestic misery. And, likewise, eternal interests may be, and are, continually affected by the delusions of error on religious subjects.
When a man is deluded he verily thinks he is right. He claims to be honest in his convictions, and he is so. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof [where the subject of delusion is of vital interest] are the ways of death." (Prov. 16:25.) The world to-day is full of delusions, and of deluded people who verily think they are right, and who expect in due time to realize their delusive hopes. There are political delusions, financial delusions and religious delusions of every shade and hue; and thousands and millions of people are following them, and devoting all their time and energy to them, only to realize in the end a whirlwind of confusion, disaster and the utter wreck of all their hopes.
The questions then arise, Who can escape these delusions so common among men? or how may we know that we are not ourselves among the number of the deluded ones? The fact is that no member of the fallen race is, of himself, proof against them. We are all, in consequence of the fall, both physically and mentally impaired; our experience is brief and varied, and our knowledge is necessarily very limited.
Though we see that financial delusions are continually misleading men and blighting their hopes of temporal advantage; and though we see that political delusions are forming various factions among men and leading them to strive for the realization of numerous delusive hopes, which, in the end, will bring only anarchy and a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation; yet those which chiefly concern the children of God are the religious delusions, or those capable of affecting their eternal interests. [R1297 : page 54] The saints have little to fear from financial delusions or disasters, since they are generally the poor of this world who have little to lose, but whose bread and water are sure (Isa. 33:16), and whose treasures are not laid up here, but in heaven. Nor are they specially concerned with the political delusions which we are told shall ere long lead to the great political disaster, which is even now imminent. These are important to the world, whose only concern is their temporal interests. But the questions with us are, How shall we escape the religious delusions so prevalent everywhere? and what proof have we that we are not now under such hallucinations?
These are important questions which no child of God can afford lightly to set aside. But note the words of the Apostle above quoted, which seem to imply that God is desirous that some should be snared, and to the very intent that they might be condemned--"God will send [permit to come upon] them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be condemned."
Who are these whom God thus desires to be snared and condemned? Paul answers, They are those who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. They are not those who never heard the truth, but those who, having once heard and understood it, turned from it, rejected it and had pleasure in unrighteousness --not necessarily in gross unrighteousness, such as crime, but in some measure of unrighteousness; often a desire for a little more liberty of self-will instead of close conformity to the divine will, and consequently a preference for the error which would grant such liberty and silence the promptings of conscience and the voice of truth. Such prefer the error to the truth. Those who receive not the truth in the love of it are not worthy of it, and they, therefore, must go away from it into the outer darkness that envelops the world. To these error comes in its most deceitful forms, and they quickly fall a prey to the delusion.
With the Psalmist, therefore, we may well inquire, "Who," then, "shall be able to stand? --who shall ascend into the hill [kingdom] of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?" Now mark the answer: "He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation." (Psa. 24:3-5.) Here is the class among whom the delusions of error can make no headway. These have a standpoint of observation from which every error appears in its true colors, and every truth in its proper light.
Mark the particular features of this class: They have "clean hands:" Their work for the Lord may be very imperfect; they may tell the story of his love and grace in a very halting, awkward manner; they may minister to the temporal or the spiritual necessities of the saints, or others, from a very frugal and plain store of their own; but their work will be clean; their story will be free from self-emulation and human glorying, and their works will be free from both ostentation and parade. What they do will be done with simplicity and meekness, as unto the Lord, and not for the praise of men.
They have "pure hearts:" Under divine inspection, their motives are seen to be pure. Their whole purpose and endeavor is to glorify God and to bless their fellow-men, especially the household of faith. They "have not lifted up their soul unto vanity:" They have no vain worldly ambitions, either secretly or openly cherished and ministered to behind the outward profession of entire consecration to God--no ambition to be great, or good, or wise in the eyes of men, nor to grasp the fleeting earthly treasures once consecrated to God. Nor have they "sworn deceitfully:" They have not made a covenant with God of entire consecration to his service, with a secret determination to keep back part of the price; nor have they since making the covenant repudiated its obligations.
The whole course of this class is one of sincerity and truth. Their character is that of meekness and faith; they love righteousness and desire to be molded and fashioned after the principles of righteousness; and they correspondingly hate wickedness and every evil way. With a realization of their own short-comings from the standard of perfection, they put no confidence in the flesh, but humbly and implicitly [R1297 : page 55] submit their will and judgment to the will and plan of God. So they have no schemes or plans of their own, but are fully devoted to the accomplishment of God's plan, in God's own way and time, having full faith in his sure word of prophecy and promise.
Those who have such a spirit come reverently to the Word of God to learn God's will and way, and with a desire to walk accordingly; and here they receive the divinely-provided armor of God, which will protect all who carefully put it on from all the fiery darts of the enemy. Without this complete armor, no child of God is safe in this evil day. "Wherefore," says the Apostle, "take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."-- Eph. 6:13.
The evil day here referred to is this Day of the Lord, in which we are now living, wherein every man's work shall be tried, so as by fire. These are the "perilous times" of which the Apostle forewarned the church--times peculiarly perilous to Christian faith, because of the many subtle and delusive forms of error now springing up to intercept the progress of the truth. But God's provision for his saints is equal to the emergency of the perilous hour. Never before this "evil day" was it possible for the saints to put on the whole armor of God; and never before was it needed. For some years past the Lord has been handing us this armor, piece by piece, and has been telling us to put it on and wear it that we might become accustomed to it and feel at ease and at home in it, because the time was shortly coming when it would be impossible to stand without it.
Some--a few--have been heeding the counsel. Carefully they have buckled on every part of the armor as fast as they received it, and in consequence, to-day they stand completely clothed with the truth. Their loins are girt about with it; their feet are shod with it; and it covers their head [their intellectual faculties] as a helmet of salvation [salvation from the snares and delusions of error]. Then they have on the breastplate of righteousness--a righteous character, which the truth has developed in them; and in their hands they bear the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God, which they are now able to handle with ease and vigor in defense of the doctrines of Christ; while their ample shield of faith is an able defense against all the fiery darts of the enemy, so that the flying arrows do not even jar the armor or for a moment stun the inner man.
Praise God for such an armor! Brother, have you put it on? Do not rest satisfied with the idea that you can get along as well as your fathers did with only a part of it. The time is coming, yea, and now is, when you must have it complete, or you will surely fall. The portions of the armor presented to the saints of the past were sufficient for their day and trial; but a greater trial of faith in this "evil day" necessitates a more complete defense.
Do not say to the Lord, "Well, I have the breastplate and the shield; no, thank you, I think I shall not need the helmet;" or, "I think I can get along without the sword." I tell you, you will need them all; make haste and put them on without delay. Some of you should have had them on long ago, and should be able to help others don them now. Many are already falling, and sadly many are feeling their lack of the helmet. Some with mere curiosity-interest have spent much valuable time in looking at the various parts of the armor as presented to them for the past few years, instead of earnestly buckling them on and proving them: and they have become so used to merely looking at the beautiful pieces of the armor that they expect the process of bringing forward new pieces to continue forever. Let such wake up to the fact that the armor is already complete and that no more can be added to it. That is to say, the plan of God is now rounded out to completeness and no more can be added to it, because anything more would be a superfluity. The Lord has graciously shown us its entire outline, as well as the manner in which the various parts of it work together. Look at your hand: it has four fingers and a thumb. You do not say, Well, perhaps another thumb or finger will appear by and by. You know there will be no such thing. That hand is complete and another member added to it would be superfluous.
Just so those who have come to view the full [R1297 : page 56] completeness of God's plan, as now unfolded to us, know that nothing more could be added to it. It is gloriously complete and worthy indeed of its great Author. But, while the outlining, the general harmony and the working together of the various parts are all clear to us now, we yet have room for profound thought and study of it, and probably will still have even after we are glorified. Some make a great mistake in continually putting on and taking off various proffered armors. There is but one armor that will be of any use or protection to us, and that is that which is stamped with the scarlet stamp of the precious blood of Christ. Every piece of this divine armor is so stamped, and it all fits together. If you think to change your helmet of salvation for some other helmet, you will very soon want another breastplate to match it. And you will want another sword; for this sword will not match with any other helmet. And this shield of faith will not match with any other armor. Do not allow your head to grow too big for the helmet which the Lord has provided, and then go around hunting a new helmet to fit your swelled and wrong ideas. If the helmet supplied in God's Word will not fit you, do not fancy that the increase is real wisdom, and try to stretch the old one or to get a new helmet; but freely apply the liniment of humility and reduce it till the helmet does fit.
Put on the whole armor of God. And make sure that you accept no spurious brand. Every piece of the genuine is stamped with a cross and the words--To be worn only by the redeemed. Put on piece by piece, quickly; buckle it on securely; and having done all, STAND. The position thus suggested implies an attack: the attack will surely come, and indeed has already come to many. Are you ready now to do good service as a valiant soldier of the cross of Christ? Stand! do not run away; stand your ground and battle for the truth.
As we have already observed, it is as truly a part of God's purpose to let some fall in this evil day, as it is to enable others to stand. He therefore permits the strong delusion to take possession of all who have pleasure in unrighteousness, and who therefore do not believe the truth. Such are unworthy of the truth, and sooner or later every such an one must fall. All such are condemned as unworthy of membership in Christ, the vine; and as the time for the exaltation of the Church draws nearer and nearer, the testing may be expected to increase until all the unworthy ones are weeded out. He will gather out of his Kingdom all things that offend [those who put off the wedding garment of Christ's imputed righteousness, etc.], and all that do iniquity [those who practice sin]. And then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
If, then, we would escape the delusions of this evil day, let us see to it that we are in deed and in truth lovers of righteousness; let us receive the truth in meekness, hold it with humility and thankfulness, and serve it with energy and zeal.
The following, from Bro. R. Wakefield, was written to assist a weaker brother caught in the meshes of no-ransom sophistry, and stumbling into one of the worst forms of infidelity. Bro. W. sent a copy of the same to us also, which we publish for the benefit of any who may be caught in the same snare of the adversary.
DEAR BROTHER J.:--I have read carefully and critically, as you requested, Mr. Adams' book, in which, under a pretense of harmonizing the Bible, he labors to undermine and overthrow its entire teachings. Before I mention some of the conclusions at which I have arrived relative to your author's teachings, I may say that I have found in the book so many departures from the truth, that to give an answer to every point would be nothing less than to write an answer to the entire volume. I shall study brevity, however, and try not to impose too much upon your patience. In answering this writer's doctrine, you will observe, too, that the same will apply to several other no-ransom theories which differ from this only in a few minor points.
Let me begin, then, with almost the last pages [R1297 : page 57] of the book. On page 322 your author says, "Man is not yet created: but is in the creative process." On page 202, "Man is yet in the grub condition (the grub, as contrasted with the butterfly) --a mere tadpole, unfinished, crude, in the rough." On page 97, "Adam at his creation was in this unfinished condition. He was not created in God's image!"
Now what saith the Scriptures? Gen. 1:26: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:--And God created man in his own image: in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them. And God blessed them." This is repeated twice in Genesis. In 5:1: "In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him." And 9:6: "In the image of God made he man." In the New Testament the same fact is re-affirmed. In 1 Cor. 11:7: "For man is the image and glory of God;" and James 3:9: "Men are made after the similitude of God." To argue against such unqualified statements of fact, and to try to make them mean something else, is, in my estimation, a wresting of the Scripture. When you read "And God blessed them," you might as well say God did not bless them, as to say, as your author so complacently does, that Adam was not created in God's image.
On page 100 "the creative process" is more particularly stated. "God's creative work only began in Eden: redemption, resurrection, judgment, probation, are simply steps and stages in the same creative process: and man, as yet, is only passing through one stage of his creation" (page 202). The first stage of the creative process is to be followed by the second, or finishing stage; the first is the animal, the second is the spiritual. And in the finishing stage the entire race is to be elevated to the glorious spiritual condition of our Lord Jesus, who is "the restored, perfected man" (pages 158, 165). They are to come forth from their graves unto the beginning of the spiritual stage of creation, and when they shall have passed through their probation, when the thousand years are finished, then they will have reached the same spiritual life as the elect: having attained to the possession of the divine nature they will live in the true sense, "the life that is life indeed" (pages 163, 275, 276). "Thus will be accomplished God's original purpose, to create a race of intelligent beings in his own image, divine, Godlike, as himself" (page 101).
A single text of Scripture will show the utter fallacy of this fanciful theory. Jesus is retained in the heavens until the times of "the restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:21.) If God set out at the beginning to create such a "divine, Godlike race," and if he finishes his work, as your author describes, wherein comes the restitution or restoration? According to his plan, Jesus, at his resurrection, was not in any sense a "restored" man--he was "finished" according to the original design; and so, too, if God bestows upon "every member of the human race" the divine nature, which they never had, and so had never lost, to call that restitution, or restoration, is simple nonsense. The idea of a "new creation" is likewise excluded, since the consummation of the work is but the finishing up of "the creative process."
Thus in these, as in many other places, your author convicts himself of falsehood, according to his own rule. He says (page 41), "Truth out of place becomes falsehood: instead of upbuilding it is misleading." On page 116 it is admitted that "most of the epistles are directed to the elect, who are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world." And yet in numerous [R1298 : page 57] instances, language thus addressed to the elect he applies to the entire race. Thus on page 101 Paul's declaration: "As we have borne the image of the earthy, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly" (1 Cor. 15:49); and "Ye are God's workmanship" (Eph. 2:10); "Ye are God's husbandry" (farm, margin); and "Ye are God's building" (1 Cor. 3:9), are all made to apply to "God's work in the creation of a race like himself." On page 164 also, the text 1 Cor. 1:30, "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption," is made to apply to "every member of the race." On page 239 he says: "Bear in mind that it is God who is creating the race in his own image and likeness--man's probation is a part of the creative process; and for its accomplishment [R1298 : page 58] God's own honor and credit are at stake." And he quotes, "Being confident of this one thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6.) What greater perversion of language could there be than this of applying to the race the divine assurances of interest in, of care for, and of faithfulness toward, "them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus," "called saints," "whose hope is laid up in heaven?" And these are but samples of many misstatements of the truth.
Another example of your author's crookedness is found in his treatment of the statements that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself;" and, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive:" insisting that nothing less can be meant than the ultimate exaltation of every member of the human race to that glory and immortality to which Christ has attained, and to which he has called his saints, "the elect:" and then, on page 307, admitting that there will be some "who shall not inherit the kingdom of God," and who "shall not obtain the high-calling." And here he makes reference to Phil. 3:18,19, where the Apostle says, "Many walk (according to the flesh) who are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction." Of the same class of evil workers the same Apostle says (Rom. 6:21,23), "the end of those things is death." "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." And it is positively certain that this death is not the death of the sin in the sinner, so that he may be transformed into a saint, but it is the death of "the enemies of the cross of Christ." In this connection your author, arguing against the popular doctrine of eternal torment, says very truly that the Scriptures never use any such terms as "eternal death," or "endless punishment." But why does he use those very terms in laboring to establish his own theories? Commenting on Psa. 9:17, he says, "What is there in Scripture, take it how you will, to prove that future punishment is endless?"
What is there indeed! Had he been willing to put that test fairly before his readers, I imagine he would have found in it a death-blow to his fanciful interpretations, and his theories of the ultimate salvation of every individual member of the human race. "The wicked shall be turned into hell." The word, literally rendered, is "turned back," "returned." Turn to Gen. 3:19 and read, "Till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." And to Psa. 90:3,13: "Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men." "Return, O Lord, how long?" etc. Now if Psa. 9:17 affirms that the wicked shall be "turned back," or "returned," into sheol, several things are self-evident: First, to be in sheol is to be in a condition of "destruction;" second, in order to be returned, those who are in sheol must first be brought out: this will be the coming forth of "all that are in the graves," when hades or sheol "shall give up the dead which are in it." If then, after being thus brought forth, the wicked shall be "turned back" into "destruction," since there will be "no more a sacrifice for sin" (Heb. 10:26), it would certainly seem that their punishment is final, and beyond the hope or possibility of reversal.
A similar line of thought is suggested in connection with your author's treatment of Matt. 25:46. We can readily admit that the passage gives no support to the hideous dogma of endless torment, against which he makes such a vigorous fight; but the question remains, What is the true teaching of our Lord in this place? Is it, as your author says, that the punishment indicates a course of "correction, discipline, improvement," so that the "goats" shall be ultimately turned into "sheep," or is it something else? Turn to verse 41 and read, "Depart, ye cursed, into the aionion fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." If the "end" of the devil is that he shall be "destroyed" (which your author admits on page 233), why should his "angels," "messengers," "servants," fare any better? If the Lord intended to teach that the fire should ultimately prove a blessing to those servants of the wicked one, is it not most singular that he should send them into it under a curse? In verse 46, the "aionion fire" of verse 41 is defined as signifying "aionion punishment." Now, what is the punishment? The [R1298 : page 59] word is "kolasin," and signifies primarily "to cut off," as "lopping off branches of trees, to prune." These, the goats, "shall go away into kolasin aionion [the cutting off enduring]; but the righteous into zoen aionion [the life enduring]. Now if the life of that age, or of the ages, is to be an endless life, by the same rule, and of necessity, the cutting off from that life, which is the punishment, must also be endless, perpetual.
And here your author makes a fatal mistake. He applies to these wicked ones, whom the Judge cuts off from life, the idea of pruning for their good, and ultimate blessing. Let the Lord explain and defend himself. Turn to the 15th of John and read: "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." Here then is the whole truth. The branches that are "taken away" are "cut off, removed." The word carries with it the sense of "to destroy, to kill;" but the fruit-bearing branches are "pruned, purged," that they may be yet more fruitful. Thus, according to his own rule, by putting "truth out of place," your author makes himself a teacher of "falsehood."
But glaring as is this perversion of the truth, your author is still more deeply involved in his treatment of Jesus as the Savior of the world. The "precious blood," of which the Apostles all make so much account, has no place in his plan of salvation. On page 137 we read, "The death of Christ on the cross, without the gate, was the fulfilment of that part of the type of the sin-offering that pertained to the disposal of the dead body without the camp, after it had been slain and its blood poured out to make an atonement." "Thus does it appear that the sacrificial death of Christ was not his death on the cross, but previous to that, since his death on the cross was the antitype of the disposal of the already dead carcass of the sin-offering;" for Christ, he claims, "was in a condition of death while here in the flesh." On pages 132 and 133 it is set forth that the sacrificial death of Christ was the death that he suffered when "he laid down" his "pre-existent life" in order to be made in the likeness of sinful flesh. And this erroneous doctrine concerning the sacrifice of Christ is based on a manifest perversion of two texts of Scripture. (John 10:17,18, and 2 Cor. 8:9.) Your author claims that the correct rendering of John 10:17,18 is, "I laid down my life; no man took it from me, but I laid it down of myself:" making the laying down of his life an act already in the past, and applying this to his pre-existent life. The verb taketh in verse 18 he declares, should be took, as in the margin of the revised version: putting it in the past tense.
Now to discover the fallacy of all this, it is only necessary to read the Scriptures. In verse 11: "The good shepherd giveth (literally, lays down) his life for the sheep:" is giveth in the past tense? In verse 17: "I lay down my life:" is lay in the past tense? The word is not laid, but lay, and it is correctly rendered. The word taketh also, in verse 18, is correctly rendered. In the Diaglott the text reads, "No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself." This is an entirely different thing from saying, as your author does, "I have already laid it down" (page 180). The Lord was speaking of something he was about to do, not what he had already done. The word giveth in verse 11 is "lays down" in the Diaglott; it is also "lays down" in the Variorum Testament; and Young gives the meaning, "to put, set, place."
In perfect harmony with this is the Lord's saying in Matt. 20:28: "The Son of man came to give his life a ransom for many." O, says your author, that was his pre-existent life, that he had already laid down! Was it? You will please notice that the Son of God did NOT die in order to come here in the likeness of sinful flesh. He said to the Jews, pointing back into the past, "Before Abraham was, I am." The Father sanctified the Son, and sent him into the world, and he did not die on the way. He was alive before he came, and he was alive when he came: there was no death, nor cause of death in him! He was not a dead carcass, as your author says, page 137, but he was the living representative of the living Father who had sent him. (John 5:26; 14:9.) And even if he had laid down his pre-existent life, it would have been worthless in the way of making atonement. Was there any blood-shedding in connection with the laying down of that pre-existent life (supposing that [R1298 : page 60] he did lay it down)? Certainly not; it was a bloodless offering; and "it is the blood that makes atonement" (Lev. 17:11); and "without shedding of blood there is no remission." (Heb. 9:22.) Redemption is "through the blood." (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:18,19.) It is "the blood that cleanseth from sin." (1 John 1:7; Heb. 9:14; Rev. 1:5.) It is "the blood of the cross" that makes peace. (Col. 1:20.) [R1299 : page 60] "By the blood we have access to the Father." (Heb. 10:19; Eph. 2:3.) "The Church of God he hath purchased with the blood of his own Son."--Acts 20:28.
So it was by his death on the cross, in the shedding of his precious blood, that Christ made atonement for the sins of the world, and through it men obtain forgiveness and salvation.
In 2 Cor. 8:9 your author thinks he finds proof of the sacrifice of Christ's pre-existent life. But the unanswerable disproof of such a notion is found in the careful reading of the Diaglott rendering of the 8th and 9th chapters. The idea of sacrifice is not even hinted at, much less is there any allusion to Christ's pre-existent life. The Apostle was making an appeal to the Corinthian brethren for liberality in their contributions to the fund which the churches were making up for "the supplying of the wants of the saints" (9:12); and to strengthen his appeal he reminds them of the favor which the Lord Jesus manifested toward them, in that, "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." Evidently he hoped by this reference to the gracious act of our Lord to excite them to generosity in helping on the benevolent work in which he was engaged. Thus once more, by putting "truth out of place," your author convicts himself of "falsehood."
Your author's rejection of the ransom by the blood of the cross is certainly of vital consequence. On page 139 he says, "The real sacrifice and death of Christ was when he gave up the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and entered the condition of fallen man." And, page 141: "This was the sacrifice and the death of the atonement;"--"His death on the cross was not his sacrificial death:" It had no more significance than the death of a martyr; and it was only "the antitype of the burning of the already dead carcass of the sin-offering." Now notice: perhaps for the sake of maintaining an appearance of consistency, your author is obliged to admit that it was the blood of the sin-offering that made atonement, but in the great antitype of the sin-offering, the "precious blood" is utterly and contemptuously ignored. He says, "The ordinary view belittles the whole affair, making the sacrifice and death of Christ simply one among thousands of such events. The great sacrifice, and the one death that could bring about atonement, was the laying down of his pre-existent life."--Pages 132, 133, 140.
Was it indeed? We have already seen that even if he had laid down that life, the shedding of blood in connection therewith was an impossibility; and equally impossible was it to have made atonement without the shedding of blood.
Thus your author ranks himself with the "enemies of the cross of Christ," and with the despisers of "the blood." No words can be plainer than those which declare that Christ gave his "life a ransom:"--"The life is in the blood." "He poured out his soul unto death." "The blood of Christ, who offered himself without spot to God." He gave "himself a sacrifice and an offering to God." "He bare our sins in his own body on the tree." "Ye are bought with a price:" purchased with the blood of God's own Son. He was "the man Christ Jesus" who gave himself a ransom for all; he was not a man in his pre-existent condition, and only a man could be a ransom or corresponding price for man.
Say, beloved, both you and I have known too much of the value of the "precious blood" to permit ourselves to be seduced away from following our Lord and Redeemer in his own appointed way of life. Have we not together rejoiced in the privilege of entering "into the holiest by the blood of Jesus Christ?" Have we not known that "the blood of Jesus Christ," God's own Son, "cleanseth us from all sin"? How often have we feasted together in heavenly places, and on heavenly things in Christ Jesus, and rejoiced in the knowledge that the "cup of blessing" was to us "the communion [R1299 : page 61] of the blood of Christ"? And when at last we shall "Fall at his feet, and the story repeat," will not the burden of our song of praise and thanksgiving be, "Thou hast washed us from our sins in thine own blood"? This is the testimony that I would blazon on the very heavens in characters of living light, so that all the world might see and read, and if they will, believe and live!
Let me now briefly notice your author's doctrine that "All things are of God." That includes (page 53) "absolutely all things, the bad, as well as the good; all the crime, and sin, and wickedness. All things include evil things, and we shall find that these are of God, as well as those things that we call good" (page 55). The case of Joseph, which is first given to illustrate how evil things are of God, will sustain this doctrine as applied to every other case, or else it will prove your author's teaching a blasphemous falsehood. Joseph's brethren were jealous of him: their jealousy quickly turned to hatred, and hatred developed into murder. Envy, hatred, murder, are evil works of the flesh: they are of the devil, for "he that committeth sin is of the devil." (1 John 3:8.) They are "enmity against God."--Rom. 8:7.
Your author says, "Evil things are of God, as well as those things that we call good." And he further says that "There is no evil but moral evil" (page 225). Now the question affecting Joseph's brethren is, Did God work in them those evil passions, and lead them on through envy, jealousy and hatred, to the commission of murder? for in heart and purpose they were murderers. If he did, then he violated his own laws and the moral principles that he enjoins upon his creatures, and lifted his hand against himself. "Thou shalt do no murder," is his law; and hatred is the moral quality that is equivalent to murder. Did God incite Joseph's brethren to hatred and murder? Listen! "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man! But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lusts, and enticed." (James 1:13,14.) Here then is an unqualified and authoritative statement of the truth that "evil" is not of God. The evil passions of men, "their own lusts," lead them on to the commission of evil deeds, and they are not of God, but of the devil.
If God incited evil passions in men, and led them on to the commission of evil deeds, he would simply convict himself of lying and hypocrisy, for he constantly forbids and denounces such evil things; and to pronounce men guilty, and punish them under such conditions, would be to declare himself an unprincipled despot. Your author says, page 208, "It is absolutely certain that man is not a free agent (actor);" and on the preceding page--"Man goes the way that God desireth: his steps have been prepared beforehand, and are all ordered of the Lord." Where, then, does man's responsibility come in? But, if as he shrank from the results of his own teaching, he takes pains to explain, as in Joseph's case, and that of Abiathar, which is quoted to show how evil things are of God: "The awful deeds of wicked men are of God in such a sense that he makes them conducive to the carrying out of his own plans, and brings good out of them in the end" (page 57). Yet over and over again he declares that absolutely all things, evil things, crimes and wickedness of every kind, as well as what we call good things, "are of God," literally "out of God," and man (all men, every man) goes the way that God desires, and has marked out beforehand for him.
In Eph. 2:2, the prince of the power of the air is said to be the spirit "that now works in the children of disobedience." To say, as your author does, that God controls and overrules for good, and for the accomplishment of his own purposes and plans, the evil doings of evil men, is an infinitely different thing from saying, as he also does, with constant repetition and emphasis, that "absolutely all things, crime and sin and wickedness, as well as good things--absolutely all things are of God." The former is truth; the latter is a blasphemous falsehood.
As to the declaration of Jehovah, "I make peace and create evil;" and "Shall there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it?"-- take such Scriptures as Jer. 21:10-14; 25:29; 26:2-6; Ezek. 14:12-23; Amos 4:4-11; 9:8-10, and study carefully their connections, [R1299 : page 62] and you will find that the evil the Lord creates and does is the calamities and judgments that he visits upon the ungodly nations--"the sword, famine, pestilence and noisome beasts"--on account of their abominable iniquities; and that it is always in opposition to, and in condemnation of, the evil of sin, which is an abomination in his sight.
The U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary to Japan reports to the Government at Washington a remarkable religious movement in Japan. The natives, who had adopted the Presbyterian faith, concluding not to await the revision of the Confession proposed by the Presbyterians of the United States, have revised their creed to suit their own ideas. They also made an addition to the so-called Apostles' Creed by inserting the following as a preamble:--
"The Lord Christ, whom we worship as God, for us men and for our salvation was made man and suffered. He offered up a perfect sacrifice for sin, and all who are one with him by faith are pardoned and accounted righteous; and faith in him, working by love, purifies the heart. The Holy Ghost, who, with the Father and Son, is worshiped and glorified, reveals Jesus Christ to the soul, and without his grace, man, being dead in sin, cannot enter the kingdom of God. By him the prophets and apostles and holy men [R1300 : page 62] of old were inspired; and he, speaking in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the supreme and infallible Judge in things pertaining unto faith and living. From these holy Scriptures the ancient Church of Christ drew its confession, and we, holding the faith once delivered to the saints, join in that confession, with praise and thanksgiving."
The American and European Presbyterian missionaries, seeing that the Japanese were determined, assented to the proceedings--no doubt fearing a general deflection toward some other denomination in case of opposition.
Minister Swift's report says that it is a frequent and common claim made by native Christian converts that the spirit and meaning of Christianity, in its broader and more universal scope, has never been properly comprehended among Western nations, and that the faith needed to be transported to Japan for final development and perfection. Consequently he apprehends that this change will be followed by other and more radical changes. We congratulate the Japanese on their progressiveness.
"ROGUE CATCH ROGUE."
This old adage is now being illustrated in Italy. For centuries Roman Catholicism has devoured the substance of the Italians for masses for the dead and for the living, until they are poor as well as ignorant and superstitious. Latterly pride and independence are reviving, and the civil government, anxious to be known as one of the great powers of Europe, has spent money lavishly upon the army and navy. As a result, between the demands of the Pope and of the king for taxes, and between their threats for the present and for the future life, the people are in bad condition--nationally and individually the Italians are on the verge of bankruptcy.
The king shrewdly sees that to enable the people to pay the taxes he demands, they must be relieved of some of the Pope's taxes for masses, etc. Accordingly, as a financial measure, he has recently cut off some of the Papal revenues, and thus inflicted fresh "torment" upon "the seat of the beast."
The following is the cable dispatch:
"ROME, March 19.--The laws for the suppression of religious guilds and fraternities, which have existed for centuries, and for the abolition of chaplains in hospitals, asylums and prisons, began to go into effect in February last. The result is extraordinary. Until two Sundays ago there were 5300 masses celebrated in Rome every Sunday. The number is now reduced to 800. One hundred and fifty-two churches are to be closed also, and their altars demolished.
"The pictures and statues, except such as the State thinks proper to reserve for public [R1300 : page 63] galleries, are to be sold by public auction. In the rest of Italy they will be destroyed, and not even remote villages will be exempt from this stern decree. Steps are also to be taken to prevent officers and soldiers from attending mass on Sundays, military duties being imposed on them during church hours. All sacred names are being erased from the school books and sacred emblems removed from the schoolrooms.
"These laws have created the utmost bitterness among the clergy. The Pope is resolved to spare no efforts to assist emigration to America and Africa. An enormous number of ecclesiastics have been receiving salaries from religious institutions now suppressed."
We are anticipating a large attendance at the Memorial Services this year. Pressure of the work has hindered us from replying to all the dear friends who have written us of their coming, but they may all rely upon a warm welcome. We made the invitation as hearty as possible in the March TOWER.
Come with your hearts burning with love for our Lord and for all who have his spirit, and with sympathy for all who have not yet attained much of his likeness. Come intent upon doing good to some one else, as well as praying and seeking a blessing upon your own soul.
Some have written us that their Ticket Agent had no blank certificates, etc. We reply: It is his place to secure such certificate for you; but should he not receive them in time, ask the Agent to give you a ticket over the proper lines of railroad, and to give you a written paper stating that you applied for a certificate for excursion rates to the TOWER TRACT SOCIETY Convention, at Allegheny, Pa., that he had no such blanks, and that you paid full fare for your going ticket.
The Convention assembles Sunday, April 19th, at 10 A.M. The Memorial Supper will be celebrated on the evening of Tuesday, April 21st, 8 P.M. See March issue of the TOWER.
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THE TAGS on your paper will, hereafter, inform you of how your subscription to the TOWER stands on our books.
Changes in dates will be made only at the beginning of each quarter.
Subscriptions will not, hereafter, begin at any time, but only with the quarters, January, April, July and October. For instance, new subscriptions sent in during February or March are reckoned as beginning with January issue, and marked as ending December 91, and to such the TOWER issues for the months already elapsed are sent at once.
Our list is not yet perfected, but will be so next month, we trust. Should there be anything about your credit on the tag not in harmony with your records we shall be pleased to know of it and to correct or explain the matter.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--I sent you a Money Order for $10.00 a few days ago, and request a renewal of my subscription to the TOWER for another year, and ten copies MILLENNIAL DAWN, paper cover, for distribution. The remainder of the money I place in your hands, to be used in the service of the Lord for the advancement of his Kingdom and glory.
About a year ago I asked the Lord in all sincerity and prayer to assist me in quitting the use of tobacco, and promised him in all good faith to use the money, formerly spent for it, to the advancement of his interest, as I now see it through the light I have received from the two volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN and the TOWER. I had used tobacco for thirty years, and often tried to quit, but could not succeed in resisting the strong desire for its use; but since I quit this time, with the help of the Lord, I have lost all desire for it, and only twice (shortly after quitting) have I had the least desire for it. [R1300 : page 64]
Since comparing carefully your views with the Bible, I am thoroughly satisfied it is the only true interpretation of God's plan I have been able to find. I have been a member of the Presbyterian church for thirty-five years, but recently, thank God, the scales of sectarianism have dropped from my eyes, and I can now see the glorious plan of God, in that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to be a ransom for all: the Church, the little flock, first; then the world. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
May God prosper his work in your hands, and may the blessing of the Lord Jesus be with you and all those laboring for the glorious Kingdom which he has come to establish, is the prayer of your humble friend in the Lord,
A. W. LEE.
DEAR BRETHREN:--Enclosed find Money Order for which send me Vol. I., THE PLAN OF THE AGES. Through the kindness of Bro. T. Carr I got Vol. II., THE TIME IS AT HAND, and have read it nearly through. The truth is so clearly pointed out, and everything is so plain, that, although I have not seen the first volume, I have read it.
After preaching in the M.E. church for three years, during all of which time I have been earnestly seeking the truth, I am now, by the help of God, able to "come out of her."
Notwithstanding you advised your readers not to read the second volume before reading the first, I ventured on, and I feel that I am amply paid. May God ever bless you in your labor for the truth. Yours in Christ,
S. P. JOHNSON.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL:--With much gratitude I have to acknowledge the due delivery of the tracts and ZION'S WATCH TOWERS. Being in bad health for some time I have not been able to do much myself, but the Postman who brought the books, after reading Vol. I., has become greatly interested, and is now joyfully working for the Master. He gives away The Old Theology tracts, and loans MILLENNIAL DAWN. He has meetings with young men in his own house on Sundays for the purpose of reading MILLENNIAL DAWN along with the Word of God. In this way much good is being done, I hope.
EDITOR WATCH TOWER, DEAR SIR:--I will never be able to repay you for the light you have thrown upon God's Word, by your writings-- THE PLAN OF THE AGES, etc. When I first read it, I was surprised at its revelations. Had I been asleep? No! but I had been trusting my salvation to a false theology, and giving unbounded faith to professed teachers of God's Word, and had failed to study closely for myself. I had gotten my eyes open to the fact, that the watchmen on the walls were giving uncertain sounds, and I began to search the Scriptures, when your priceless work fell into my hands in a way that I regard as providential, and it saved me years of study. I have read it over carefully several times, and practically mastered its teaching, and have gained immensely in my faith in God's dear Son. I find it does not require half the wisdom to understand the Bible as it is written, as it does to show that it means something different from what it says. I can now hold up Jesus, as God's dear Son, sent into the world to save sinners, to any of Adam's lost sons and daughters, and prove that he is a loving Savior, and will save his people from their sins. For twenty-five years, as a Methodist, I was tongue-tied, because I could not explain why Christ died for all, and could not save all. I could not recommend a Savior who could not do all that he professed to do. I thank God that I now realize that Jesus is all powerful, and will save all from the effects of Adam's sin, and give to all a personal offer to live forever on the same conditions on which Adam had life offered to him.
I have been trying to open the eyes of some of my brethren in the church, but find it harder work than with the outside sinner. Having consecrated my life to God, I shall go on to the end; and I know that if I am faithful I shall obtain the "crown of life"--Immortality.
J. E. AUGER.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--Thanks to you beyond expression, for the parcel of tracts, the envelopes, and then the TOWER, in quick succession. And I trust by a judicious use of them to disseminate the truth to those who are in bondage to sectarianism. As to the new appearance of my old favorite, the TOWER, I did not know its face, until I opened the cover, which made my eyes sparkle with joy. How good the motto--to bear the cross, then wear the crown. May we be found worthy. Yours in Christian fellowship,
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