SPECIAL ITEMS FOR REGULAR READERS.
DO YOU DESIRE THE FURTHER SEMI-MONTHLY VISITS OF ZION'S WATCH TOWER?
We send out sample copies of this issue of the TOWER to many who were on our Lists last year, but from whom we have heard no report as to this year. Let us know whether or not you desire its visits to continue. We shall, of course, be glad not only to have all the old names continued but to have large numbers added--your friends and neighbors--whoever you may think would be benefited by the "meat in due season" which as the Master's servants we set forth.
If you do not wish to subscribe for your friends, and think that a sample copy might benefit them, send us their addresses at once.
The mark on the address tag of your paper shows the date to which you have paid your subscription. If you have paid for this year it should read Dec. 92. The price is not high: one dollar a year, or less than two cents a week. To those who through accident or misfortune cannot pay, yet desire it enough to say so, it will be sent free. It is not, therefore, a question of whether you can afford it, but rather whether you can afford to do without it. [R1361 : page 34]
WHAT THE "GOOD HOPES" CAN DO.
We use this name, "Good Hopes," in referring to the conditional promises suggested in the November '91 TOWER.
We have reckoned up the number of these "Hopes" and are surprised at two things: first at their fewness and second that the general average runs so high as it does. We do not mention this matter by way of chiding those who have not responded, but by way of telling those who did send them what their "Hopes" are doing in the work of spreading the Truths we all love to serve. While we know and teach that there is no law but Love for the new creatures in Christ, yet we believe that the great Apostle's instruction is as sound upon this subject (1 Cor. 12:2) as upon others; and while we believe that every one who has the spirit thus to serve the Master, even if it be but with a "poor widow's two mites," will be blessed according to the Master's promise, yet it is not for us to insist or to urge the subject upon any. Let each act according to his own judgment of the Lord's mind and the willingness of his own heart upon this as upon every other subject. We have mentioned the subject merely by way of reminding you and indicating how such a course might be used to the Master's glory. Each is steward of his own time, money and influence consecrated to him who bought us with his own precious blood.
But as to what the "Hopes" are doing: We received in all ninety-eight, which promised, if possible, a total of $1,946.08--the amounts ranging all the way from five cents to five dollars per week.
We have concluded that on the strength of this we can safely arrange to send out one hundred thousand sample copies of the WATCH TOWER; for if some shall find themselves unable to do all that their "Good Hopes" suggested, others will probably be able to do more, and have declared that they will do more if possible.
It occurs to us that the present issue and the previous issue are specially suitable for new readers; so instead of waiting for the payments all to come in, we will begin at once. Who knows how many out of this one hundred thousand may find honest, truth-hungry hearts, and bring light and joy and peace--and a newness of Christian life. We cannot, of course, expect that many will bring forth such a fruitage; but if only one in a thousand, it means a hundred of God's dear children set free from bondage of ignorance into the light of present truth.
Some of us know how to sympathize with the "lost sheep" who, in all the different churches, are seeking the true Shepherd and the green pastures and quiet waters of refreshment to which he now desires to lead all who are really his sheep. We doubt not that every one of those who have sent in "Good Hopes" was once among those grossly blinded by human tradition. They feel thankful to God for the truth, and to their fellows who as God's servants put the truth--the food--before them in the shape of TOWERS, TRACTS and DAWNS, etc. Five dollars that will go into this 100,000 sample copies came from the sister of an attorney at law who was turned from Infidelity to the service of Christ, by the reading of MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I. The sister sent this $5.00 as a thank-offering to the Lord and to help forward a cause which had the power of truth sufficient to convert an unbelieving lawyer. The next day brought a letter and a donation of ten dollars for the same purposes from the lawyer himself.
Let us thank God for the light, dearly beloved, and let us do all that we can in every way possible, that seems to us a good way, to obey our Master's words: "Let your light so shine that men, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father in heaven."
FURTHER READING MATTER FOR YOUR INTERESTED FRIENDS.
WHILE A SAMPLE COPY OF THE WATCH TOWER OR ONE OF OUR FREE OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS MAY START A HUNGRY SOUL TO INVESTIGATING, THEY CAN DO LITTLE MORE. TELL SUCH THAT THE HELP THEY NEED FOR UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE IN THE LIGHT OF PRESENT TRUTH IS MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I. --"THE PLAN OF THE AGES"--OVER 160,000 ALREADY PUBLISHED --350 PAGES. TELL THEM OF THE BENEFIT IT HAS BEEN TO YOUR OWN HEART AND HEAD, AND HOW YOU VALUE IT, AND THAT IT IS ONLY 25 CENTS POST PAID--OR LOANED TO THOSE TOO POOR TO BUY--AND URGE THEM TO SEND FOR IT AT ONCE.
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. XIII. FEBRUARY 1, 1892. NO. 3.
"UNTIL THE LORD COME."
"Therefore, judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." --1 Cor. 4:5.
The teaching of the Apostle here is parallel to that of our Lord in his parable of the wheat and the tares. (Matt. 13:24-30,36-43.) When the zealous servant in the parable inquired, "Wilt thou then that we go and gather them [the tares] up?" the Lord answered, "Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers,* Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."
*"The reapers are the messengers" who bear the truth, the indirect influence of which binds the tares. See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., Chap. VI.
All through the Gospel age the wheat and tares have grown together, and only the Lord, who could read the hearts, could distinguish between them with unerring precision. But both the Lord and the Apostle, in the above Scriptures, indicate a difference in the time of harvest, and show that it will then be possible for the faithful saints to judge also. With this thought in view, they are told to "judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come."
And now the day of the Lord has come: we are now living in the days of the parousia (presence) of the Son of Man--"the Lord of the harvest," "having on his head a golden crown [divine authority] and in his hand [in his power] a sharp sickle"--the sickle of present truth, the clear unfolding of the "Word of God [which] is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword...and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4:12; Matt. 9:38; Rev. 14:14.) And he is sending forth such "laborers," "angels" or "messengers" into this harvest as he sent forth into the harvest of the Jewish age, viz., his consecrated and faithful disciples, bearing the harvest message--the now fully revealed plan of God and its appointed times and seasons.
The truth thus sent forth is doing its appointed work. Like a magnet, it gathers to itself all who have an affinity for it. Thrust it in wherever you will, it will invariably accomplish its work of finding the loyal and faithful. And we can readily judge, from this affinity for the magnet, who are at heart true and loyal and faithful to the Lord. "My sheep hear my voice," said the Master, "and I know them, and they follow me;...for they know my voice [they are able to recognize his voice of truth]: and a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers." (John 10:27,4,5.) Again he says, "He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."--John 12:48. [R1362 : page 36]
Thus, in this last day, the harvest of the age, this day of the Lord's invisible presence in the world, the truth concerning the divine plan, which he has been revealing since 1874, and which is now being widely testified for the sealing of the elect, is doing its separating work; and the saints, who understand the present situation and watch with interest the progress of the harvest work, can see clearly where the lines of judgment are drawn between the faithful and the unfaithful. And often with astonishment they mark the divisions which the truth makes when some prominent church-member, whom they had always judged to be faithful and true, manifests no affinity for the truth, but turns from it and hugs the error more tightly than ever; or, when some other one, touched by the power of the truth, awakes to earnest self-sacrifice in its service.
"Judge nothing before the time." How could we have judged before this time as to whose hearts were loyal and true? But now, in this day of the Lord's presence, when the magnet of divine truth makes manifest those who have and those who have not an affinity for it--those who refuse to recognize the voice of the "Good Shepherd" and will not follow his leading, and who flee not from the voice of strangers, but hearken to and follow them--it becomes our duty, as well as our privilege, to judge who is on the Lord's side and who is against him; for, says the Master, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."-- Matt. 12:30.
"Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come;" but then let your spiritual senses be exercised in observing and marking the heretofore hidden things which the truth, in its effects, is bringing to light. See how it is bringing to light the hitherto covered deformities of the various creeds. Where is the intelligent Calvinist to-day who would not like to bury his creed sea deep, and forever hush this wrangle that has been exposing its deformity for a few years past? And where is the intelligent Armenian that is not trembling lest his turn may come next? Everything is being dragged to the light, whether men are willing or not; for every hidden thing must be revealed. And not only the hidden things of creeds and systems of error and iniquity, but also the hidden things of individual character; "for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known. Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops." (Luke 12:2,3.) Ah! it is the day of reckoning with the Church, and "the Lord hath a controversy with his people." And this controversy, this reckoning, is not merely with the Church-nominal in its great sectarian branches; but in a special sense it is with those who have escaped from the bondage of error and sectarianism, and who, because faithful to their consciences and the truths brought to their attention, have been served by the Master with present truth as "meat in due season" (Luke 12:37), and who have been permitted to enter into some of the "deep things" of God's plan.
The world has not yet come into this judgment: its reckoning is yet future; but ours is now upon us. We, to whom the testimony of divine truth has been borne, before whose mental vision the whole plan of God with all its specifications has been spread out and carefully explained, now stand on trial, yea, under the final tests of that trial which is either to prove or disprove our worthiness to enter into the promised reward of the faithful. Many, as predicted (Psa. 91:7), are proving unworthy, and some still stand. And among those whom we fellowship and bid God-speed as faithful brethren in Christ, it is our duty to judge as to whether they are still faithful when the magnet of truth makes their judgment so manifest in this day of the Lord; for it is written (2 John 10:11) "If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed; for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds." Here is a responsibility with reference to our endorsement of another which we cannot ignore and still be faithful; and except we judge of one's course by his fidelity or infidelity to the truth, we shall be endorsing error [R1362 : page 37] quite as often as truth. It is our privilege to know the truth and to hold it firmly and to be faithful to it to the end; and if we so abide and walk in the light we will quickly know when one has turned away from the light into darkness, and will be able to render wholesome counsel and warning to such, and to help those who still retain enough of the spirit of meekness to accept the proffered assistance. But, if such a one still pursue the path of darkness and call it light, thus deceiving himself and others, we cannot further endorse him and be guiltless. To do so is to add our influence in some measure, at least, to the error and in opposition to the truth, and thus to become partaker of his evil deeds.
The necessity for this careful discrimination and jealous guarding of the truth in these last days is very manifest, both from the warnings of the Scriptures and from observation of their fulfilment. "In the last days," says the Apostle, "perilous times shall come." (2 Tim. 3:1.) Why? Because the prince of darkness will make every possible effort to retain his power and dominion; and ignorance, error and superstition are his strongholds. He first used all his power to keep men in ignorance and to foster superstition. But now God's due time has come for knowledge to be increased (Dan. 12:4), and the Millennial dawn is breaking; and not only the Church but the world is now waking up and beginning to think. So the policy of Satan now is to devise plausible counterfeits of the truth whereby to entrap and mislead those who have been making progress in the knowledge of the divine plan. As, in the beginning of our Lord's ministry at his first advent, Satan's efforts were concentrated upon the one object of causing him to stumble, thereby to nip the divine plan in the bud, and during the Gospel age the consecrated members of the body of Christ have been specially opposed and beset by him, so now his efforts are concentrated specially upon the last members of that body, "the feet of him," who are running the race for the prize of the high calling. It is for this cause that so many new and plausible forms of error have been brought forward within this harvest period. Satan is using every effort to thwart God's plan and to stumble the feet. And God even more than permits this: [R1363 : page 37] he encourages it by sending these strong delusions of Satan among his professed followers--at the same time assuring all who at heart are faithful to his Word and to their covenant of self-sacrifice that they need fear no evil, for he will be with them and uphold them though a thousand fall at their side.
Ever since the plan of God has been made manifest to the saints, the delusions of error have been rapidly multiplying. This was foretold by the Apostle who, referring to our Lord's second coming, said, "And then shall that wicked [the Man of Sin] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the bright-shining of his presence,* whose parousia [Christ's presence] is with+ [or accompanied by] the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they might all be condemned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."++ (2 Thes. 2:8-12.) One after another the deluded ones who have fallen into the various snares set for their feet have become active advocates of the several causes they have espoused since they departed from the truth, and are advanced by the adversary as teachers, angels or messengers of new light. They never seem to realize that they have gone into darkness, but imagine they have made great strides of progress in the light. This is because they have been overcome by the strong delusions of this evil day. They verily mistake the darkness for the light, the error for [R1363 : page 38] the truth. But, though they be cast thus into the outer darkness of the world and of the nominal professor, thank God, we can now see that by and by the shining forth of the Sun of Righteousness in the Millennial morning shall open all the error-blinded eyes to the full and glorious Truth, though too late to assist any to win the great prize of joint-heirship in the Kingdom.
*The words, "Even him," here supplied by the translators, and not in the original text, as indicated by the italics, tend to obscure the sense of this passage.
However, none are ever permitted to be thus overcome who have not in some way been unfaithful to the truth and hence unworthy of it. Upon all such God has said he would send the strong delusion, so that they shall believe a lie. The truth being designed for those only who are worthy of it--the elect--all others are bound to lose it. But it is impossible to deceive the "very elect." God will keep them by his mighty power because of their faithfulness and loyalty to him.
The Lord distinguishes between the nominally elect and the finally elect, and so should we. Not all who have accepted of the Redeemer's favor of justification from guilt, and have heard and accepted the high calling to joint-heirship with Christ in his kingdom and glory, will attain that great prize. All such have entered the race as now the nominally elect, and all such are eligible to membership in the glorified Church as the finally elect; but in order to gain that prize they must fulfil the conditions specified when they entered the race--when they in Christ's name and merit made a covenant with God, to sacrifice themselves in his service. In no other way can they make their calling and election sure.
It is this nominally elect class that is being tried now; and God is now making manifest the secret counsels of the hearts of his people. He puts us all on guard, too, saying, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall;" and telling us to take heed that no man take our crown.
How great is the responsibility of our present position before God, the great Judge of all hearts. He has shown us special favor in revealing to us the wonders of his plan and in setting before us the grand prize of our high calling. Thus far we were counted worthy of those favors and eligible to the prize of joint-heirship with Christ. How worthy have we proved ourselves since receiving this knowledge? Have we received it with meekness and humility and with a gratitude which manifested itself in active service of the truth--in proclaiming it to others and in defending it and standing by it nobly in the midst of all the reproaches hurled against it? Have we refused to compromise the truth to any extent to avoid its otherwise inevitable reproach?
If we are not thus jealous for the truth we are not worthy of it, and some of the deceptions of this "evil day" will surely number us among its victims; for it is in this time of the Lord's presence that Satan is to work so mightily, with great power to deceive and with signs of success and with lying wonders of error. His various schemes will have great success, in comparison with which the success of the truth will seem small; for with these, as with Gideon's band, it will be a time of sifting, and "who shall be able to stand?" But let those who stand girt about with divine truth fear nothing: the Lord is permitting these delusions that they may serve his own wise and benevolent purposes in the separating of the worthy from the unworthy, and for the manifestation of those who are at heart loyal to him.
PRESBYTERIAN REVISION OF FAITH.
The secretary of the Committee for the Revision of Faith for the Presbyterian Church, which met in New York on January 12th, received reports from nearly two hundred Presbyteries, as follows:--
Twenty-eight unreservedly approve the proposed amendment of the Confession. One hundred and twelve give assent, but ask that it be further amended. Fifteen request that the old Confession be held and that all effort to amend it be discontinued. Thirty-eight, are dissatisfied with the amended Confession and, [R1360 : page 39] believing that it cannot be sufficiently amended to please them, ask for an entirely new one, which shall be extremely simple and almost devoid of doctrine. These latter would like to be free if the others would let them; but are unwilling to lose their position in the denomination. Each party will doubtless sacrifice principle and stay in, no matter what sort of a Confession the others may exact from them--just as they have done for years past.
The Rev. Dr. Parkhurst, of the New York Presbytery, who, although a Presbyterian minister for over eight years, under vows to believe and to teach its doctrines, it will be remembered, declared that he had never so much as read the Confession of Faith, is one of the pronounced advocates for a totally new Confession. He recently stated himself as follows:--
"I don't believe that the old Confession of Faith should be patched up or revised, but that it should be stowed away among the archives of the Church as a relic of mediaeval theology. To take its place an entirely new Confession should be formulated. The new one should be divested of all the non-essentials which have caused so much dispute. It should be a simple, direct statement of fundamentals of our belief, so worded that the commonest people could understand it. Instead of being 124 pages in length I would like to see it two pages long.
"After the old Westminster Confession is laid aside, I would not advocate its use for instruction in theological seminaries, but would lay it aside altogether."
THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE.
Our age's sphere of light,
Though widening still, is walled around by night;
With slow, reluctant eye, the Church has read,
Skeptic at heart, the lesson of its Head.--Whittier.
Despite the light that cheers the world to-day,
Shadows surround us, on our heavenward way,
And Error darkens Truth's celestial ray.
Not yet the beams, whose radiant splendors dart
From the fair realms of Science and of Art,
With equal glory shine from soul and heart:
Men worship golden calves and serpents still,
Like cringing slaves bow to their masters' will--
Obey the letter, but the spirit kill;
Still tremble at the Priest's uplifted rod,
For fear that he may doom them, by a nod,
To endless hell-fire in the name of God.
False prophets still the wrath of Heaven provoke,
And hypocrite, and Pharisee, and rogue,
Sit in high places in the synagogue.
As sheep disguised, wolves still make sheep their prey,
The blind still lead the blind the downward way,
And sneaking Judases their Lord betray.
Still is assailed the free soul that aspires,
Still persecution feeds her smoldering fires,
And still, to murder Truth, are leagued the Liars.
Still everywhere a selfish spirit rules--
Men herd themselves in squabbling sects and schools,
And deem dissenting brethren knaves or fools;
Still hack their heads with dull, polemic swords,
Fan the fierce flames of hate with windy words,
And take the Devil's plaudits for the Lord's.
The world, which God gave to his children all,
They parcel into sections, large or small,
And round each petty church "patch" build a wall;
Shout their strange shibboleths and battle cries,
Assert pre-emption title to the skies,
And curse him as a heathen who denies.
Thus bigotry and sect intolerance
Sharpen the infidel's else harmless lance,
And cause the Devil's imps for joy to dance!
Thank God! Religion is a plant that grows:
Its perfect flower perennially blows,
More fragrant and more fair than Sharon's rose.
It yet shall rise from out the sloughs and swamps,
Shed from its shining leaves the dungeon damps,
Break every bond that yet its free growth cramps.
Methinks I see it rising and expand!
Its mighty branches arching every land,
From Zembla's snows to India's sunny strand.
Upward, forever up, I see it rise,
Flashing resplendent glory on our eyes,
Until its crown is lost within the skies.
And there, beneath this everlasting tree,
This Tree of Life and Human Destiny,
I see the nations gather, bond and free,
Gentile and Jew, of every clime and race--
God's children all--and, standing face to face,
Own but One God, their Father, and embrace!
Then, only then, will men indeed be free,
Then will the Golden Age we dream of be,
And Jesus Christ reign universally!
--Charles W. Hubner.
[R1366 : page 40] AN ANCIENT AND INTERESTING DOCUMENT, FOUND IN THE VATICAN AT ROME, WHICH PURPORTS TO BE THE ORIGINAL REPORT OF PILATE, ROMAN GOVERNOR OF JUDEA, TO THE EMPEROR TIBERIUS CAESAR:
EXPLANATORY OF THE CAUSES WHICH LED TO THE TUMULT IN JERUSALEM, IN CONNECTION WITH THE DEATH OF JESUS OF NAZARETH.
The Public is indebted to the energy of a Christian minister, W. D. Mahan by name, for calling attention to and securing an English translation of this interesting document. He first heard of it through a German student who had spent a large portion of several years in searching for curiosities in the immense library of the Vatican at Rome. The German Professor did not consider the MS. of sufficient interest to take a copy of it, but years afterward made mention of it to the minister mentioned. The latter felt a great interest in what he had heard, and finally he wrote to his friend, the German Professor, who meantime had returned to Westphalia, Germany, requesting that the latter, who was intimate with Father Freelinhusen-- chief guardian of the Vatican--would undertake to procure a translation of the MS. into English.
This was finally accomplished at a cost to Mr. Mahan of seventy-two dollars and forty-four cents.
The parties concerned in procuring this translation are unknown to us, but the circumstances leave no room for questioning the fact. As to whether or not the Vatican Manuscript is what it purports to be, each must judge for himself. Certain it is that the account does not contradict, but fully corroborates, the accounts given us by the Apostles in the Bible. We give here
AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE LETTER, PURPORTING TO BE PILATE'S.
Noble Sovereign, Greeting:
The events of the last few days in my province have been of such a character that I thought well to report the details as they have occurred, as I should not be surprised if in the course of time they may change the destiny of our nation; for it seems of late that the gods have ceased to be propitious. I am almost ready to say, "Cursed be the day that I succeeded Valerius Gratius in the government of Judea."
On my arrival at Jerusalem I took possession of the Judgment Hall and ordered a splendid feast to be prepared, to which I invited the tetrarch of Galilee, with the high priest and his officers. At the appointed hour no guests appeared. This was an insult offered to my dignity. A few days after, the high priest deigned to pay me a visit. His deportment was grave and deceitful. He pretended that his religion forbade him and his attendants to sit down at the table of the Romans, and to offer up libations with them. I thought it expedient to accept of his excuse, but from that moment I was convinced that the conquered had declared themselves the enemies of the conquerors. It seems to me that of all conquered cities, Jerusalem is the most difficult to govern!
So turbulent were the people that I lived in momentary dread of an insurrection. To repress it I had but a single centurion, and a handful of soldiers. I requested a reinforcement from the Governor of Syria, who informed me that he had scarcely troops sufficient to defend his own province. An insatiate thirst for conquest--to extend our empire beyond the means of defending it--I fear will be the means of overthrowing our noble government.
Among the various rumors that came to my ears, there was one that attracted my attention in particular. A young man, it was said, had [R1366 : page 41] appeared in Galilee, preaching with a noble unction a new law, in the name of the gods that had sent him. At first I was apprehensive that his design was to stir up the people against the Romans, but soon were my fears dispelled. Jesus of Nazareth spake rather as a friend of the Romans than of the Jews.
One day, in passing by the place of Siloe, where there was a great concourse of people, I observed, in the midst of the group, a young man who was leaning against a tree, calmly addressing the multitude. I was told that this was Jesus. This I could easily have expected; so great was the difference between him and those who were listening to him. His golden-colored hair and beard gave to his appearance a celestial aspect. He appeared to be about thirty years of age. Never have I seen a sweeter or more serene countenance. What a contrast between him and his hearers with their black beards and tawny complexion. Unwilling to interrupt him by my presence, I continued my walk; but signified to my secretary to join the group and listen. My secretary's name is Manlius. He is the grandson of the chief of the conspirators who encamped in Etruria, waiting Catiline. Manlius was anciently an inhabitant of Judea and well acquainted with the Hebrew language. He is devoted to me and worthy of my confidence. On entering the Judgment Hall, I found Manlius, who related to me the words Jesus had pronounced at Siloe. Never have I heard in the Pettico, nor in the works of the philosophers, anything that can compare to the maxims of Jesus.
One of the rebellious Jews, so numerous in Jerusalem, having asked him if it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar, Jesus replied, "Render unto Caesar the things which belong to Caesar, and unto God the things that are God's." It was on account of the wisdom of his sayings that I granted so much liberty to the Nazarene, for it was in my power to have had him arrested and exiled to Pontus; but this would have been contrary to the justice which has always characterized the Romans. This man was neither seditious nor rebellious, and I extended to him my protection unknown, perhaps, to himself. He was at liberty to act, to speak, to assemble and address the people, to choose disciples unrestrained by any Pretorian mandate. Should it ever happen--may the gods ever avert the omen--should it ever happen, I say, that the religion of our forefathers be supplanted by the religion of Jesus, it will be to this noble toleration that Rome shall owe her premature obsequies, while I, miserable wretch, shall have been the instrument of what Christians call providence, and we, destiny.
But this unlimited freedom granted Jesus provoked the Jews; not the poor, but the rich and powerful. It is true that Jesus was severe on the latter, and this was a political reason, in my opinion, not to control the liberty of the Nazarene. "Scribes and Pharisees," he would say to them, "you are a race of vipers; you resemble painted sepulchers." At other times, he would sneer at the proud alms of the publican, telling him that the mite of the widow was more precious in the sight of God.
New complaints were daily made at the Judgment Hall against the insolence of the Jews. I was even informed that some misfortune would befall him--that it would not be the first time that Jerusalem had stoned those who called themselves prophets--and if the Pretorium refused justice, an appeal would be made to Caesar.
However, my conduct was approved by the Senate, and I was promised a reinforcement after the termination of the Parthian war. Being too weak to suppress a sedition, I resolved upon adopting a measure that promised to establish the tranquility of the city, without subjecting the Pretorium to humiliating concessions.
I wrote to Jesus requesting an interview with him at the Judgment Hall, and he came. You know that in my veins flows the Spanish, mixed with Roman blood, as incapable of fear as it is of puerile emotion. When the Nazarene made his appearance I was walking in my court, and my feet seemed fastened with an iron hand to the marble pavement, and I trembled in every limb as a guilty culprit, though he was calm--the Nazarene--calm as innocence. When he came up to me, he stopped, and by a signal seemed to say to me, "I am here." [R1366 : page 42] For some time I contemplated with admiration and awe this extraordinary type of man--a type of man unknown to our numerous painters, who have given form and figure to all the gods and heroes.
"Jesus," said I to him at last--and my tongue faltered--"Jesus of Nazareth, I have granted you for the last three years ample freedom of speech, nor do I regret it. Your words are those of a sage. I know not whether you have read Socrates, or Plato, but this I know, that there is in your discourses a majestic simplicity that elevates you far above those philosophers. The Emperor is informed of it, and I, his humble representative in this community, am glad of having allowed you that liberty, of which you are so worthy.
"However, I must not conceal from you the fact that your discourses have raised up against you powerful and inveterate enemies. Neither is this surprising. Socrates had his enemies, and he fell a victim to their hatred. Yours are doubly incensed against you on account of your sayings, and against me on account of the liberty extended towards you. They even accuse me of being indirectly leagued with you, for the purpose of depriving the Hebrews of the little civil power which Rome has left them. My request--I do not say my order-- is, that you be more circumspect in the future, and more tender in arousing the pride of your enemies, lest they raise against you the stupid populace, and compel me to employ the instruments of justice."
The Nazarene calmly replied:
"Prince of the earth, your words proceed not from true wisdom. Say to the torrent, Stop in the midst of the mountain home! because it will uproot the trees of the valley. The torrent will answer you, that it must obey the laws of the Creator. God alone knows whither flows the torrent. Verily, I say unto you, before the Rose of Sharon blossoms, the blood of the Just shall be spilt." "Your blood shall not be spilt," replied I with emotion, [R1367 : page 42] "You are more precious, in my estimation, on account of your wisdom, than all the turbulent and proud Pharisees, who abuse the freedom granted them by the Romans, conspire against Caesar, and construe our bounty into fear. Insolent wretches, they are not aware that the wolf of the timber sometimes clothes himself with the skin of the sheep. I will protect you against them. My Palace of Justice is open to you as an asylum."
Jesus carelessly shook his head, and said, with a grace and a divine smile, "When the day shall have come, there will be no asylum for the Son of Man, neither in the earth, nor under the earth. The asylum of the Just is there," pointing to the heavens. "That which is written in the books of the prophets must be accomplished."
"Young man," answered I, mildly, "you oblige me to convert my request into an order. The safety of the province, which has been confided to my care, requires it. You must observe more moderation in your discourses. Do not infringe. My orders you know. May happiness attend you. Farewell."
"Prince of the earth," replied Jesus, "I came not to bring war into the world, but peace, love and charity. I was born the same day on which Augustus Caesar gave peace to the Roman world. Persecution proceeds not from me. I expect it from others, and will meet it in obedience to the will of my Father, who has shown me the way. Restrain, therefore, your worldly prudence. It is not in your power to arrest the victim at the foot of the Altar of expiation."
So saying, he disappeared like a bright shadow behind the curtains of the palace.
[Concluded in our next issue.]
"THE RESURRECTION OF DAMNATION." --John 5:29.--
A subscriber inquires for the signification of this expression. We reply: The difficulty to the English student arises from the word damnation, which is a mistranslation of the Greek word krisis. The Revised Version renders the expression, "The resurrection of judgment," which conveys the true sense much more clearly, although not entirely so; because the word judgment is so often understood to mean sentence merely, whereas it really signifies trial, including, of course, the sentence at its conclusion. The sense of the passage is: Some (the Church) will have passed their trial and will be resurrected to their reward; while others will awake to a trial for life, during the Millennial age, when Christ and his Church will be the judges.--1 Cor. 6:2.
INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS.
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES, WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
THE GRACIOUS CALL.
LESSON VI., FEBRUARY 7, ISAIAH 55:1-13.
Golden Text.--"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near."--Isa. 55:6.
In our last lesson--Isa. 53:1-12--the Prophet brought to view the "Lamb of God" whose sacrifice would take away the sin of the world, and thus prepare the way, legally, for the glorious restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.--Acts 3:19-21.
This lesson opens with the gracious invitation, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." This at once calls to mind the very similar invitation of Rev. 22:17--"And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." It will be observed that the call in both cases is only to those who desire the water of life: "every one that thirsteth" and "whosoever will" may have it; but it will not be forced upon any. Here, as frequently in the Scriptures, water is mentioned as a symbol of truth (See also John 4:10-14; Rev. 7:17); consequently the invitation to these is to accept or partake of the favor of everlasting life through obedience to the truth.--John 17:17.
Isaiah also compares this sanctifying and life-giving draught to exhilarating wine and nourishing milk, which the thirsty, who desire it and have nothing to give in exchange for it, may have without money and without price. The truth or water of life thus offered is the good news of redemption and consequent restitution to perfection and eternal life, through "the precious blood of Christ," "shed for many [for all] for the remission of sins." (Matt. 26:28.) Since we were all bankrupt and had no means wherewith to purchase so great a treasure, those who value it will gratefully appreciate its offer as a free gift, without money and without price.
But though these two invitations are virtually the same, the student will observe that that of Rev. 22:17 is due in the Millennial age, when the now espoused virgin Church will have become the Bride of Christ. Then the Spirit and the Bride (who has no existence as the Bride yet) will say, Come, etc. But that the invitation of Isaiah 55:1 is intended for those thirsting for truth during the Gospel age is manifest from verses 2 and 3, which show that those of this class have not only been desirous of the truth, but that they have been diligently, though hitherto vainly, searching for it. In hope of finding the truth, they have been spending their money for that which is not bread, and their labor for that which satisfieth not. In the Millennial age, none will thus vainly search for truth; for then "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea," and none will teach his neighbor, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know him from the least of them to the greatest of them (Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34); and the way of life will be so plain that a wayfaring man, though unlearned, shall not err therein. (Isa. 35:8.) But such is not the case now, when hundreds of conflicting creeds jar and jangle with both reason and Scripture, each one saying to the bewildered inquirer, "This is the way of truth: walk ye in it." Such bewildered, yet earnest, thirsting souls the Lord here counsels to leave the unsatisfying portion and to hearken diligently to his Word, saying, "Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." The reference [R1364 : page 43] here is to the good plan of God, the clear unfolding of which, in these last days, is meat and drink in due season for the household of faith.
The invitation is synonymous with that of Rev. 18:4 to the same class, to come out of Babylon (confusion--the confusion of sectarianism); for while they remain in those systems of error, endeavoring to support and defend them, they are prejudiced and blinded against God's truth, wherever it conflicts with their creeds, so that they cannot progress in knowledge while they thus continue to spend their "money"--their influence and their labor-- for that which is not bread and which satisfieth not.
But, thank God, there is a satisfying portion for those who earnestly crave it, and some are eating that goodly portion, and their souls are delighting themselves in fatness. Let the thirsty hear further the gracious invitation, "Incline your ear [turn your ear away from the clash of conflicting creeds, and incline it towards God's own precious word, in simple faith [R1364 : page 44] accepting all of its testimony, notwithstanding the testimony of men to the contrary], and come unto me: hear [my word] and your soul shall live."
To those who thus heed the invitation there is a special promise given, over and above the promise of life and the satisfaction now, of receiving this gift by faith. It is this: "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." [He will make an agreement with such that they may share in those sure, holy promises which belong to his beloved Son--the kingdom, power and glory of the world to come.] The name David signifies beloved; and the Apostle shows (Acts 13:33,34) that it here refers to our Lord, the Beloved Son of God. And not only is the name David sometimes used in prophecy, as here, to refer to God's beloved Son, but David himself frequently figures as a type of our Lord, as in Psalm 22:1,17,18. Moreover, "the sure mercies" or holy promises here referred to as belonging to our Lord, and in which we of this Gospel age are invited to share with him, were made to King David (2 Sam. 7:8-16) and will evidently have a partially literal fulfilment, although the substance is in Christ.
(1) That the Lord would anoint him to be a great king, and that he would establish his throne forever--as long as the sun and moon endure;
(2) That no enemy should have advantage over him, but that all should be made subservient to him;
(3) That God's covenant to bless all the families of the earth should stand fast with him, or be fulfilled by his reign;
(4) That his children (by redemption and regeneration) should have such reformatory discipline under his reign as would be necessary for their correction and establishment in righteousness;
(5) And that all the willing and obedient who shall profit by the discipline shall endure forever--that thus he might see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.
Verse 5 shows how the work will progress among the people of the world after the Christ has been glorified--after all the members of the "body" have filled up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ and entered into his glory.--Col. 1:24.
Verse 6 shows that when God does thus reveal his grace it must not be trifled with. God has graciously appointed a day [a thousand years--the Millennium] in which he will judge the world in righteousness--granting to each the fullest knowledge and opportunity for a return to his favor and to its reward, everlasting life; but God has determined to "make an end of sin and to bring in everlasting righteousness," and those who do not "seek the Lord while he may be found" will be accounted unworthy of further judgment [trial] and will perish in the second death as lovers of unrighteousness. (Rev. 21:8.) Or, as elsewhere stated, when God shall raise up to glory and dominion this Great Prophet, Priest and King (the Lord and his body or bride), it will come to pass that the soul that will not hear [obey] that Prophet shall be cut off from [life] among his people.--Acts 3:22,23.
Verse 7. That will not be a time for pardoning wicked men, but for pardoning those who desire to forsake their wicked ways and thoughts. Nor are we to understand that the forsaking of the sin brings the pardon, aside from the sacrifice of Christ: this is merely stating the conditions upon which all during the Millennial age will share its favors. Preceding verses and chapters have shown how the "Beloved" first, by the will of God, died as the redemption price of Adam and his race, and in consequence inherited the "sure mercies"--the privilege of blessing the world by giving to each full knowledge and a righteous trial for life everlasting.
Verses 9-11 take note of the present blindness of mankind respecting the gracious character of God--that they will not believe so gracious a message even when it is called to their attention. God reasons with such and shows them why they do not believe that he will be so gracious as he here promises, saying, My plans are not as you would plan, nor my ways of executing my plan such as you would surmise--mine are higher than yours. These my promises are as sure to bring blessings ultimately to all [whether they will hear or whether they will forbear; whether or not they will seek the Lord when he thus draws near], as my blessings now are extended to all--the sun shining upon the just and the unjust and the rain coming upon the evil and the good. "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." I have declared that in the Seed of Abraham (Christ and the elect Church--Gal. 3:16,29) all the families of the earth shall be blessed, [R1364 : page 45] and the whole earth shall be filled with my glory. Although men may count me slack and suppose that this promise and also the promise to bring punishment upon the wicked will never be fulfilled, they are mistaken: they overlook the fact that a thousand years with men are as one day with me. The day so long promised shall come--the day of blessing and restitution to all who shall prove their love of righteousness --the day of vengeance upon all who shall prove their love of iniquity.--2 Peter 3:8.
Verses 12,13 recount in symbolic terms the Millennial blessings of peace and joy for all who love righteousness. Instead of the thorn [the wicked man who wounds and injures his fellow creatures] shall be the fir tree [an evergreen tree, representative of a man possessing everlasting life], having inherent grace and fatness: "his leaf fadeth never." [R1364 : page 45]
THE NEW COVENANT.
LESSON VII., FEBRUARY 14, JER. 31:27-37.
Golden Text.--"I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more."--Verse 34.
The opening verses of this lesson (verses 27,28) point to the return of God's favor to Israel according to the flesh, and have no reference to spiritual Israel, as is clearly evident. Verse 10 confirms the assurance, saying, "Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and tell it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattereth Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd his flock." Verse 27 mentions Israel and Judah both, which might at first appear to teach that God has a different blessing for them and that the distinction which had its start after the death of Solomon is to be perpetuated. But no: we see no distinction in the blessings enumerated. Subsequent verses ignore all distinctions, thus showing that the object in mentioning both is to prevent any from getting the idea that only the ten tribes would be blessed in the future, and not the two tribes for a time known distinctively as Judah. The distinction really ended with the restoration from Babylon (Hosea 1:11); and our Lord and the Apostles used the name Israel as a general name.
It is undeniable by either Jew or Gentile that ever since Messiah's rejection, five days before his crucifixion, when he said to them, "Your house is left desolate," Israel has been under divine displeasure, tempest-tossed all over the world. Surely God has watched over them, as foretold, "to pluck up and to break down and to throw down and to destroy and to afflict" them; and the faithful performance of the evil part of the promise is an assurance of the ultimate fulfilment of the promised blessings. Jer. 16:13-18 shows the same rejection and punishment of fleshly Israel, promises the same regathering and blessing, and indicates the time when it will commence. See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chap. VII.
But while verses 27 and 28, and verses 36 and 37, refer to fleshly Israel alone, we are glad that others as well as Israel shall have a share in the blessings of the New Covenant related in verses 24 to 34. The divine method of hiding truths until the due time for revealing them is peculiar to the Bible. As with the doctrines of Election and Free Grace, some affirm the one and deny the other, and the majority stumble into partial error on one side or the other, while in reality both are taught and both are true, so it is with the majority in studying prophecies of which Israel is the theme. Some will contend that it is fleshly Israel, while others as vehemently claim everything for spiritual Israel--the Gospel Church. The fact is that both are represented in prophecy, and it [R1365 : page 45] is only necessary to rightly divide the word of truth to see them both and their respective portions.
Israel as a nation had certain inalienable promises yet to be inherited as a nation (Rom. 11:26-32), but it was also a typical people. As we have already shown, they as a people and their age and their ceremonies, sacrifices, etc., typified the Gospel Church of the present age. (MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., pages 201-248.) Moreover, they serve again in other respects as a type of those people of all nations who, during the Millennium, will accept the opportunities then offered, and come into covenant relations with God. In this latter sense they are before us in this prophecy of the blessings of the New Covenant. They represent not merely the faithful ones of the natural seed of Abraham, but all who, under those favorable conditions of the times of restitution, will believe God and seek to serve him, as did Abraham.
As proving that Israel typified God's general blessing for the world, notice their three divisions, and what each division represented. (1) Priests, called out from the tribe of Levi and specially consecrated. These, we know, typified Christ our Chief Priest and his faithful, consecrated "little flock," the Royal Priesthood. (2) The Levites, who represented the general household of faith who serve the tabernacle and carry along the work financially and otherwise, yet never see the holy things, "the deep things," in any clear and definite manner. (Num. 4:5-15.) (3) The people of Israel, for whom the priesthood made sacrifices and offerings for sins, effecting their atonement and the establishment of the Covenant between them [R1365 : page 46] and God. These were typical, as well as the Priests and Levites. As the typical sacrifices were made for the people of Israel who desired harmony with God, they typified the better sacrifices of Christ made for the sins of the whole world, who might come unto God by him.
It is when Israel is thus seen to be the type of the repentant, reconciled world that we begin to get a conception of the length and breadth, the height and depth of God's great plan as it embraces "whosoever will" of all the families of the earth. It is when we get this comprehensive view that we understand the Apostle's frequent expression--to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. The worthy, faithful Israelites after the flesh, especially those tried prophets and patriarchs of past dispensations, will take first rank in the blessings of the repentant world under the Millennial reign of Christ. But every promise and blessing to them under the New Covenant, will be also in as full measure to the numberless class whom they typify. No wonder, then, the Apostle reasons on this question that the promises of God to Israel imply life from the dead and general blessing. His words are, "If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?"-- Rom. 11:15,30-33.
Realizing, then, that the blood of Christ sealed the New Covenant, not alone for Israel, but, as well, for all the world whom Israel typified, we see that whatever shall be declared true of Israel under that New Covenant will be true as well of all who, after the selection of the royal priesthood, shall become Israelites indeed, by the circumcision of the heart, when the full knowledge of the truth shall, in due time, reach the Jew first and afterward all men.
Verses 29,30. "In those days"--days future at the time of the prophecy, and days still future, which shall be indicated by the return of divine favor to Israel--"In those days, they shall say no more, 'The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children's teeth are set on edge.' For every one [who then dies] shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." The "teeth on edge" represent the heredity of sickness and death by the human family, and the "sour grape" represents Adam's original sin, repeated and emphasized in his children. We as a race die for Adam's sin, the effects of which we inherit, as also saith the Apostle. (Rom. 5:12.) As a part of the New Covenant sealed by the blood of Christ, this present state of things which has continued for over six thousand years is to give place to a new order; and none shall any longer die, as now, for Adam's sin; but whoever dies will die for his own wilful sin--the second death. It will be the second death because the first death sentence covered all. By one man's disobedience sin entered into the world, and death as the result of sin; and thus death passed upon all.
The death of our Lord, "the man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom for all," was the full payment to justice of the penalty which came upon Adam, and through him by heredity upon all his race; so that he who paid our penalty thus ratified or made possible the New Covenant under which Israel first and then all the world shall be blessed, and whosoever will may be recovered to everlasting life. Adamic death or the first death, or, as people generally miscall it, natural death, will entirely cease as soon as the Great Priest, Prophet and King (head and body complete) shall take the control of earth's affairs and introduce to Israel, and to the world through Israel, the New Covenant. None, after that, shall die, unless, being proved unworthy of life, they come under condemnation to the second death, for personal, wilful disobedience against fullest knowledge and opportunity.--Acts 3:22,23.
Verses 31 and 32 clearly point out that Israel must not expect these favors as a part of their Law Covenant made with them at Mt. Sinai, when they were on their way from Egypt to Canaan, which covenant they failed entirely to keep, and from which, consequently, they must expect no blessing. They must learn that this favor comes as a result of another--a new covenant; and in learning that, they will learn about him whom they pierced, whose death ratified or made effective this New Covenant. Thus they shall look upon him whom they pierced, and, thank God, they shall mourn as they come to see the actual facts.--Zech. 12:10.
Verses 33 and 34 particularize some of the blessings and advantages of the Millennial age under the New Covenant, contrasting them with Israel's Law Covenant experiences. The Law Covenant written on tables of stone was easily forgotten by the typical people, and God was continually reminding them of their unfaithfulness, and chastising them by sending them into captivity among the nations, by sending blights, drouths, etc., and by sending his prophets to reprove their idolatries (Jer. 7:25); but the Israel who will enter into the New Covenant with God, in Christ, shall not be so. It shall be introduced by a greater prophet and mediator than Moses. The Christ shall be Jehovah's agent in carrying out all of its blessed provisions. Its law, Love, will [R1365 : page 47] be gradually written in the hearts of men during that Millennial age; and so completely will outward sin be kept under control, and so fully will temptations to forsake God be excluded, and so general will be the diffusion of the true knowledge of God (Heb. 2:14; Isa. 11:9), that it will no longer be necessary, as in the past and present, to be always preaching, "know the Lord;" for they shall all know him from the least of them to the greatest of them. And under this New Covenant, God (through Christ, the mediator of that New Covenant, who sealed it by the sacrifice of himself as our ransom price) will not only instruct all fully, and write his law in their hearts, but he will forgive their iniquities and remember no more their sins, i.e., of such as in that favored time of knowledge shall accept of the privileges offered and enter into the New Covenant conditions, obeying the law of love from the heart as it is written there by the finger of God--by the Great Prophet--the Christ.
It will require the entire Millennial age to re-write in the heart of man the law of God-- the law of love. We say re-write, for the law was written in man's heart, in his very constitution, when God created him in his own likeness. The law on tables of stone was given to Israel after two thousand years of falling had almost effaced the original moral-likeness. "When they knew God they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."--Rom. 1:21,22,28.
But God foreknew that the Law Covenant, made at Sinai, and the typical sacrifices for sin which were a part of it, could never take away sin nor make (Israel) the comers thereunto perfect; and he designed it only as a lesson to Israel and the world to point out the real remedy for sin and to foreshadow the better New Covenant and its superior arrangements for the relief of sinners at the hands of the Mediator like unto, but far superior to Moses.
God gave a figure of his original law written in the heart of man and the renewed law as it will be re-written under the New Covenant. When Moses first went into the Mount he received two tables of the law, perfect, from the hand of God--representing the perfect man in the likeness of God, as he came from God's hand. But those tables of the law were dashed in pieces when Moses reached the camp, representing how the fall into sin has almost destroyed the law of God from the hearts of men, effacing the likeness of the Creator. God's method of replacing the broken tablets of the law was an illustration of how he purposes to restore his likeness and re-write his law in the hearts of all who desire to be in harmony with him under the New Covenant. He told Moses to hew out, polish and prepare two tables of stone, and promised to re-write the law thereon. So Christ, whom Moses typified, is to prepare mankind ("whosoever will") for the writing of the law of God. Christ does this, first of all by giving the ransom for all, secondly by bringing all who desire it back into harmony with God and into a full knowledge of the truth, which, as God's pen, will re-engrave the law of Love and godliness in all obedient hearts.
ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM EARNEST WORKERS.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--Just a word to say we are all well and are still rejoicing in the glorious Truth and endeavoring to overcome through the merits of our dear Lord and Redeemer, who has bought us and loves us.
Our time is at present all taken up with things at home, and this seems to be the Master's will according to our judgment.
Find enclosed a draft for $200.00 which is for the Master and for his work to be used as he may direct. We are his stewards in those things. He can trust some of his saints with this world's goods, knowing that they are in harmony with himself, and as he wants, they are perfectly willing to assist in any way they can in his work. So, dear Brother, just use this as your judgment may direct for the Master.
W. J. WEBB.
[Our dear Bro. W., in addition to the financial aid he is able to give to the Lord's work, has several times so arranged his affairs as to give some months to the Colporteur work, in which Sister W. also joined, taking their two young boys along and sending them to school in whatever town they chose for the work. The little fellows gladly helped in the distribution of tracts and delivery of books, being interested in the truth to the extent that their young minds can comprehend it. God bless the household where his name is enshrined in every heart.--EDITOR.] page 48
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I must write to tell you how exceedingly interested I have been in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., which I spied out in a bookstore in Los Angeles. I enclose 50 cents, for which I would like you to send me at once Vols. I and II of the series. I would also much like a sample or two of your paper--ZION'S WATCH TOWER--for if it is what I expect it to be, after DAWN Vol. III., I shall at once become a subscriber. Volume III., THY KINGDOM COME, is already circulating among my friends.
Pastor First Baptist Church.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Enclosed you will find an order for twenty books, together with money order in payment for the same. I arrived in Buffalo on Friday evening. Cannot tell just how long I shall be here, but not a day longer than is necessary to get my clothing in order for winter. I had a pleasant and fairly profitable canvass in W__________. It is a small place, with only about 650 inhabitants, but I found a few precious souls, a few who, it seems to me, are all ready for the truth. I sold a cloth bound set of DAWNS to the president of the library association to be put in the circulating library there. Nearly all my sales there were of full sets. I did not have books enough to fill them all, and am to go back again.
I called on the Presbyterian minister, a man of about fifty-five or sixty years, I think. I said, I called to show you MILLENNIAL DAWN, and before I got a chance to say another word, he said, "I am glad you came, I have always time to look at anything that treats on that subject." Then he took the books and spent an hour and a half looking at them. I could not get away. He read the preface and table of contents, and then extracts here and there through the books, asking me questions now and then, as to what your books taught about this or that. At last he said, "I believe this will prove to be the most valuable and reliable work I have on these questions, and I am going to write you a line with regard to it that I want you to use here in W__________, and in any place else where it will be of any help to you; and I hope you will urge every member of my congregation to buy the books. I wish you might leave them in every house in town." He then wrote a paper which reads as follows:
"Having examined very carefully the books, MILLENNIAL DAWN, by Charles T. Russell, it gives me great pleasure to recommend it as a reliable and profitable treatment of its subject, and I would advise any one interested in and desiring to study the subject to purchase this work. Pastor Presbyterian Church__________."
Also the principal of the school there says his father, a Baptist minister, has the books, and values them very highly. It seems to me strange that any can read the books, and value them, and still retain their positions as pastors or as members of any denomination.
I believe that I am improving a little in my work, and I do hope I shall learn to be a good worker. I do not like to do inferior work. I want to be able to sell as many books as other colporteurs do.
I wish I could tell you half how precious the blessed truths are becoming to me, but I cannot. I read them over and over again, and they are like the Bible itself, in that they never grow old.
MRS. M. PECK.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--The package containing Teacher's Bible and DAWN, Vol. III., came duly, also your welcome letter of the 20th inst. Volume Third is far beyond what I could either ask or think. The Teacher's Bible is all that is claimed for it.
As I look back now and view the way the Lord has led me, I can praise him with my whole heart for sending unworthy me this glorious harvest message, and also in giving me an ear to hear it. It is favor upon favor indeed. In looking back I realize how apt, yea, almost sure, I would have been, ere this, to have been caught in some of the many snares of deceptive errors that, according to predictions, abound at this time, had it not been that the Good Shepherd had reached out a helping hand in the shape of the WATCH TOWER publications just in time.
My dear Brother in Christ, I must tell you, for your encouragement, that I am striving daily to put off the old man and to put on the new. I have nothing to boast of, though, for I fail so often; but my full confidence is in Christ and the robe that he provides, and our Father has promised to give power to the faint, and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. I am striving to abide in him by abiding in his word, that I may bear some fruit. Many thanks for that timely article on fruit-bearing in the May TOWER.
I shall do whatever my hands find to do, praying earnestly that the Lord of the harvest may open an effectual door for the harvest message among my own countrymen according to the flesh, that they also may be sanctified by the Truth, and made ready for the glorious consummation of the hope.
ZION'S WATCH TOWER AND HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH.
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SPECIAL ITEMS FOR REGULAR READERS. HARVEST LABORERS.--PRAY FOR THEM!
Brother and Sister Adamson have nearly finished their present field of labor in Cincinnati, Ohio. They have about 4000 Millennial Dawns circulating there now. They have done and are doing a good work--gathering ripe wheat and witnessing to others. Sunday Meetings held by Brother A. help to water the good word of present truth which he scatters during the week by circulating MILLENNIAL DAWN.
Sisters Harper and Weir will soon be a year in Louisville, Ky., and vicinity. The Lord is blessing them, and through their labors quite a number are coming to the Light. They are faithful soldiers of the cross.
Brothers Rogers and West have been in New York City for some months past. They already have over 3000 DAWNS in circulation. They report some very interesting meetings held [R1371 : page 50] lately--well attended and evidently profitable. God bless them.
Brothers Leigh, Demming and VanHook have spent the last nine months in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. They are earnest and faithful and are blessed and a blessing wherever they go.
Sisters Erlenmyer, Clark and Peck are still laboring in southern New York. We have frequent proofs of their zeal and willingness to endure hardness as good soldiers of the cross-- bearing the good tidings to those who have ears to hear. Their labors are not in vain in the Lord.
Brother Wise is still in the harvest field, in Ohio, seeking the ripe wheat, and, thank the Lord, finding some ready to be garnered.
Brother Smith is making a thorough canvass of Pittsburgh and vicinity. He is letting the light shine and attracting the attention of some of the children of the light. In the portion of the city already gone over, he has circulated over 2000 copies of DAWN, which, sooner or later, will bring results.
Brothers Haynes and Thorn are in Massachusetts. They have recently circulated over 1800 copies of MILLENNIAL DAWN in Lynn, and report considerable interest among readers.
Sisters Vogel and Boehmer are in the work in eastern Pennsylvania, circulating the present truth--"meat in due season"--and accomplishing good, we trust.
Brother and Sister Rogers in Detroit, Brother and Sister Utley in Minneapolis, Brother C. C. Wright in Iowa, Brother Hewes in Philadelphia, Brother and Sister Wallace in western Pennsylvania, Brother Brown in Michigan, Brother Brewer in Atlanta, Ga., Brother Herr in central Pennsylvania, Brother Marchant in Canada, and Brother Dailey in Ohio, are all serving the Lord and his cause earnestly and with success.
Besides the above are some faithful ones who have been obliged to suspend operation temporarily from sickness and other reasons, who, we trust, will soon be in the work again; and who even now, we are sure, are not idle.
But we have only mentioned a few of the noble army of the Lord who are daily battling for the truth--seeking to free themselves and others of the Lord's household from the chains of error and sin. We believe that more than one-half of the WATCH TOWER subscribers are true laborers in the harvest field, whose chief aim in life is, not money, nor pleasure, nor fame, nor any other selfish, earthly object, but who seek chiefly, and with their best endeavors, not only to gain for themselves a share in the Kingdom promised, but to help others to so run as to obtain the same provision of God's grace.
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. XIII. FEBRUARY 15, 1892. NO. 4.
AN ANCIENT AND INTERESTING DOCUMENT, FOUND IN THE VATICAN AT ROME, WHICH PURPORTS TO BE THE ORIGINAL REPORT OF PILATE, ROMAN GOVERNOR OF JUDEA, TO THE EMPEROR TIBERIUS CAESAR: EXPLANATORY OF THE CAUSES WHICH LED TO THE TUMULT IN JERUSALEM, IN CONNECTION WITH THE DEATH OF JESUS OF NAZARETH.
(CONCLUDED FROM OUR LAST ISSUE.)
To Herod, who then reigned in Galilee, the enemies of Jesus addressed themselves to wreak their vengeance on the Nazarene. Had Herod consulted his own inclination, he would have ordered Jesus immediately to be put to death; but though proud of his royal dignity, yet he was afraid of committing an act that might diminish his influence with the Senate. Herod called on me one day at the Pretorium, and on rising to take leave, after some insignificant conversation, he asked my opinion concerning the Nazarene. I replied that Jesus appeared to be one of those great philosophers that great nations sometimes produce, that his doctrines were by no means sacrilegious, and that the intention of Rome was, to leave him to that freedom of speech which was justified by his actions. Herod smiled maliciously, and saluting me with an ironical respect he departed.
The great feast of the Jews was approaching, and the intention of their religious rulers was to avail themselves of the popular exultation which always manifests itself at the solemnities of a Passover. The city was overflowing with a tumultuous populace clamoring for the death of the Nazarene. My emissaries informed me that the treasure of the temple had been employed in bribing the people. The danger was pressing. A Roman centurion had been insulted. I wrote to the prefect of Syria for a hundred foot soldiers, and as many cavalry. He declined. I saw myself alone, with a handful of veterans, in the midst of a rebellious city, too weak to suppress a disorder, and having no other choice left but to tolerate it. The seditious rabble had seized Jesus, and although they felt that they had nothing to fear from the Pretorium, believing with their leaders that I winked at their sedition, continued vociferating, "Crucify him! crucify him!"
Three powerful parties had combined together at that time against Jesus. First, the Herodians, and the Sadducees, whose seditious conduct seems to have proceeded from double [R1368 : page 51] motives: they hated the Nazarene, and were impatient of the Roman yoke. They could never forgive me for having entered their holy city with banners that bore the image of the [R1368 : page 52] Roman Emperor, and although in this instance I had ignorantly committed the fatal error, yet the sacrilege did not appear less heinous in their eyes. Another grievance also rankled in their bosoms: I had proposed to employ a part of the treasure of the Temple in erecting edifices of public utility, which proposal was scowled at.
The Pharisees, too, were avowed enemies of Jesus, and they cared not for our government. They bore with bitterness the severe reprimands which the Nazarene, for three years, had been throwing out against them wherever he went. Too weak and pusillanimous to act by themselves, they had eagerly embraced the quarrels of the Herodians and the Sadducees. Besides these three parties, I had to contend against the reckless and profligate populace, always ready to join a sedition, and to profit by the disorder and confusion resulting therefrom.
Jesus was dragged before the High Priest and condemned to death. It was then that Caiaphas, the High Priest, performed a derisory act of submission. He sent his prisoner to me to pronounce his condemnation. I answered him that as Jesus was a Galilean, the affair came under Herod's jurisdiction; and I ordered him to be sent thither. That wily tetrarch professed his humility, and protesting his deference to me, the Lieutenant of Caesar, recommitted the fate of the man to my hands. Soon my palace assumed the aspect of a besieged citadel. Every moment increased the number of seditionists. Jerusalem was inundated with crowds from the mountains of Nazareth. All Judea appeared to be pouring into the devoted city. I had taken a wife--a maiden from among the Gauls--who pretended to see into futurity; she, weeping and throwing herself at my feet, said to me, "Beware, and touch not that man, for he is holy. Last night I saw him in a vision. He was walking on the waters. He was flying on the wings of the winds. He spoke to the tempest and to the fishes of the lake--all were obedient to him. Behold! the torrent of Mount Kedron flows with blood! The statues of Caesar are filled with the filth of Gemonide! The columns of the Interium have given away, and the sun is veiled in mourning, like a vestal of the tomb! O Pilate! evil awaits thee, if thou wilt not listen to the entreaties of thy wife. Dread the curse of a Roman Senate, dread the powers of Caesar."
By this time the marble stairs groaned under the weight of the multitude. The Nazarene was brought back to me. I proceeded to the Hall of Justice, followed by my guard, and asked the people in a severe tone what they demanded. "The death of the Nazarene," was their reply. "For what crime?" "He has blasphemed. He has prophesied the ruin of the temple. He calls himself the Son of God, the Messiah, the King of the Jews." "Roman justice," said I, "punishes not such offenses with death." "Crucify him, crucify him!" belched forth the relentless rabble. The vociferation of the infuriated mob shook the palace to its foundations. There was but one that appeared to be calm, in the midst of the vast multitude. It was the Nazarene.
After many fruitless attempts to protect him from this fury of his merciless persecutors, I adopted a measure which, at the moment, appeared to me to be the only one that could save his life. I ordered him to be scourged; then, calling for an ewer, I washed my hands in the presence of the multitude, thereby signifying to them my disapproval of the deed. But in vain. It was his life that those wretches thirsted for!
Often in our civil commotions have I witnessed the furious animosity of the multitude, but nothing could be compared to what I witnessed in the present instance. It might have been truly said that on this occasion all the phantoms of the infernal regions had assembled at Jerusalem. The crowd appeared not to walk: they were borne along, whirling and rolling like living waves, from the portals of the Pretorium, even unto Mount Zion, with howlings, screams, shrieks and vociferations, such as were never heard in the seditions of the Panonia, or in the tumult of the forum.
By degrees the day darkened like a winter's twilight, such as was witnessed at the death of the great Julius Caesar, which was likewise toward the Ides of March.
I, the continued governor of a rebellious province, [R1368 : page 53] was leaning against a column of my palace contemplating through the dreary gloom these fiends of torture dragging to execution the innocent Nazarene. All around me was deserted. Jerusalem had vomited forth her in-dwellers through the funeral gate that leads to the Gemonica. An air of desolation and sadness enveloped me. My guards had joined the cavalry, and the centurion, to display a shadow of power, was endeavoring to keep order. I was left alone, and my breaking heart admonished me that what was passing at that moment appertained rather to the history of the gods than to that of a man. A loud clamor was heard proceeding from Golgotha, which, borne on the winds, seemed to announce an agony such as had never been heard by mortal ears. Dark clouds lowered over the pinnacle of the Temple, and, settling over the city, covered it as with a veil. So dreadful were the signs that were seen, both in the heavens and on the earth, that Dionysius, the Areopagite, is reported to have exclaimed, "Either the author of nature is suffering, or the universe is falling apart."
Towards the first hour of the night I threw my mantle around me and went down into the city towards the gates of Golgotha. The sacrifice was consummated. The crowd was returning home, still agitated, it is true, but gloomy, taciturn and desperate. What they had witnessed had stricken them with terror and remorse. I also saw my little Roman cohort pass by mournfully, the standard-bearer having veiled his eagle in token of grief, and I overheard some of the soldiers murmuring strange words which I did not understand. Others were recounting prodigies, almost similar to those which had so often smitten the Romans by the will of the gods. Sometimes groups of men and women would halt, then looking back toward Mount Calvary would remain motionless, in expectation of witnessing some new prodigy.
I returned to the Pretorium, sad and pensive. On ascending the stairs--the steps of which were still stained with the blood of the Nazarene-- I perceived an old man in a suppliant posture, and behind him several women in tears. He threw himself at my feet and wept bitterly. It is painful to see an old man weep. "Father," said I to him, mildly, "who are you, and what is your request?"
"I am Joseph of Arimathea," replied he, "and am come to beg of you, upon my knees, the permission to bury Jesus of Nazareth."
"Your prayer is granted," said I to him, and at the same ordered Manlius to take some soldiers with him to superintend the interment, lest it should be interfered with.
A few days after, the sepulchre was found empty. His disciples published all over the country that Jesus had risen from the dead, as he had foretold.
A last duty remained to be performed and that was to communicate to the Emperor these deplorable events. I did so on the night that followed the fatal catastrophe, and had just finished the communication when day began to dawn. At that moment the sound of clarions, playing the air of Diana, struck my ear. Casting my eye towards the Caesarean gate, I beheld a troop of soldiers and heard at a distance other trumpets sounding Caesar's march. It was the reinforcement that had been promised me-- two thousand chosen troops who, to hasten their arrival, had marched all night. "It has been decreed by the fates," cried I, wringing my hands "that the great iniquity should be accomplished, that for the purpose of averting the deed of yesterday, troops should arrive today! Cruel destiny, how thou sportest with the affairs of mortals!" It was but too true, what the Nazarene exclaimed while writhing on the cross: "All is consummated."
PHILANTHROPIC VERSUS HUMANITARIAN.
When, in our issue of November last, mentioning the work of the Salvation Army for the relief of the poor and degraded classes of Great Britain, we called it a "humanitarian scheme," we had no thought of charging them with denying our Redeemer's character, nature, or work. On the contrary, we were commending their philanthropic work for the poor, and should better have used the word philanthropic, as a few misunderstood our expression. On the contrary, we believe that few Christians with the same degree of knowledge revere our Master more.
"IN THE WINE-PRESS ALONE.""In the dusk of our sorrowful hours,
The time of our trouble and tears,
With frost at the heart of the flowers,
And blight on the bloom of the years,
Like the mother-voice tenderly hushing
The sound of the sob and the moan,
We hear, when the anguish is crushing,
'He trod in the wine-press alone.'
"And, therefore, he knows to the utmost
The pangs that the mortal can bear:
No mortal has pain that the Master
Refuses to heal or to share.
And the cries that ascend to the Loving
Who bruised him, for us to atone,
Are hushed at the gentle reproving,
'He trod in the wine-press alone.'
"How sudden so e'er the disaster
Or heavy the hand that may smite,
We are yet in the grace of the Master,
We never are out of his sight.
Though the winnowing winds of temptation
May forth from all quarters be blown,
We are sure of the coming salvation--
The Lord will remember his own.
"From him, in the night of his trial,
Both heaven and earth fled away;
His boldest had only denial,
His dearest had only dismay.
With a cloud o'er the face of the Father,
He entered the anguish unknown;
But we, though our sorrows may gather,
Shall never endure them alone."
In passing through Europe just at this time and in view of the sure word of prophecy as to what will transpire there shortly, one feels much as he might be expected to feel if he were tenting on the slopes of an active volcano, such as Vesuvius, where the continually rising smoke gives evidence that the elements of destruction are close at hand and may at any moment suddenly devastate the surrounding country.
Indeed, as we looked upon that wonderful mountain, what a type it presented to our minds of the actual condition of the world, and especially of Europe, to-day. Upon its green and pleasant slopes villages are quietly nestled, and the inhabitants go about their daily avocations as if unaware of the awful threat of destruction that continually hovers over them; for above their heads at the mountain's summit is an immense crater, three thousand feet in diameter, from which proceeds a volume of smoke, while the ruins of the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum at its base are constant reminders of its dreadful power. The traveler, in view of the past as well as of the present impending danger, almost shudders to pass that way, and cannot help wondering at the apparent indifference or unconsciousness of the residents of that locality, who have become accustomed to the sight and forgetful of the past in the bustle [R1369 : page 54] and confusion of the immediate present.
Just so it is with all Europe. The people are insecurely slumbering on the slopes of an active volcano. The smoldering fires of wrath, of immense proportions, are pent up in the heart of European nations; and here and there an opening is found where they issue forth in volumes that should send the warning alarm to every thinking mind. And indeed they do: but What is to be done? is the question--a question, however, to which there is but one wise solution, a solution which the Word of God suggests, but which men are not yet willing to accept. The Scriptures say, "Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth." (Psa. 2:10.) God's Word furnishes the only principles which, if put in operation, would avert the dread calamity now impending. But these principles of justice and love will not be accepted until the fearful, but much needed, chastisement shall force upon men of all classes and conditions their necessity as well as their superior value.
At present the national animosities are intense: [R1369 : page 55] Russia hates Germany with a zeal akin to her hatred of the persecuted Jew; and Germany reciprocates the feeling with equal zeal. France has no more tender feeling toward Germany, and Great Britain comes in for a similar portion. And while the great powers confront and menace each other, the little powers tremble in the balances, fearing them all, so that there is no rest nor security any where. Not only is there bitter international animosity, but in every nation there is a strong under-current of civil strife against the civil, financial and ecclesiastical powers.
It is noticeable, however, that these animosities exist more among the intelligent and well-to-do people abroad than among the very ignorant and miserably poor. Those of the latter class have not sufficient enlightenment to realize their degradation, while those of the former are ambitious to better their condition and scarcely know where to set the bounds of their ambitions. All through Europe, with the exceptions of Russia and Turkey, we were agreeably surprised to find the evidences of thrift and comfort in the home life of the masses of the people. True, the German farmers seem to fancy having their cattle under the same roof with their families, but the proverbial "pig in the parlor" in Ireland we did not find; nor was there a pig visible to the naked eye all the way from Cork to Dublin. Indeed, the majority of Irish emigrants to this country give rather an unfair impression to Americans of the Irish people in general. We were pleased to find there culture and refinement beyond what we had anticipated. Our route through Ireland included Queenstown, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Londonderry, Armagh and the intervening country and smaller towns. Through all that part of the country--the south, north and east --we saw no squalor nor misery, though, of course, there are plenty of poor people and some very humble homes. From all accounts, our impressions of the west coast would have been less favorable, had we found time to go there. The country is very picturesque and has been well named the Emerald Isle, from its ever fresh and beautiful greenness. When, after the monotony of the sea voyage, we first sighted its shores under the glow of a glorious sunset, the picture was indeed beautiful, and can better be imagined than described; and the flocks of graceful seagulls that come out to meet the incoming vessels seemed to be bidding us welcome as they gaily circled round the ship's masts and then dived down and gracefully floated on the water.
The small Irish steamer that conveyed us from the ocean steamer to the shore at Queenstown was a neat, pretty vessel, tastefully furnished, and landed us in Queenstown a little after 10 P.M. Here, and all through Great Britain and Ireland, they have fine stone docks; the streets are paved with large flag stones and the houses here and all through Ireland, both in the cities and in the country districts, are of stone. Stone walls are also used, both in the cities and in the country, for fences. Those separating farms are low and generally covered with something green. The little farms all over the country look neat and well kept, and the low, one story houses with thatched roofs, whitewashed outside and with a bit of lace at the windows, looked cozy and comfortable, and pretty wild flowers adorned the fields. The country is a continual succession of low hills and valleys, divided into small farms, and presents a pleasing prospect to the eye. The cities of Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Queenstown are flourishing and enterprising. Their good public buildings, private residences, railway stations, thrifty mercantile business, etc., do ample credit to the energy of the Irish people.
We were pleased also to notice the neatness of personal appearance and suavity of manner among the people in general, both in the cities and at every little railway station through the country, as well as in the hotels, railway carriages, etc., and at a fair in Armagh, which we visited specially for the purpose of coming in contact with the various classes of people there from the town and surrounding country. On the whole, our impressions of Ireland were very favorable; and the rosy-cheeked, blue-eyed, flaxen-haired babies of Ireland seemed the prettiest children in the world, until we met some dark eyed beauties of more southern lands, and then it was hard to decide which were prettiest. [R1369 : page 56]
Passing over to Scotland and England, we saw similar evidences of thrift and comfort; though in the large cities, tucked away in the alleys and courts, and up rickety stairways in old tenement houses, are thousands of wretchedly poor people whom the feeble hand of benevolent charity finds it impossible to relieve to any considerable extent. The Scotch are a serious, thoughtful people, though not so lighthearted and happy, apparently, as their Irish neighbors. They are proud of their inheritance in the fame of John Knox, and like to call their country "the land of the Bible and of John Knox." But we fear this pride has stood much in the way of their advancement in the knowledge of the truth, beyond what was due to the household in John Knox's day. However, we have great hope for a good harvest yet from Scotland. In England and Scotland the manufacturing towns are closely strewn along the railway lines, and the hum of machinery and the tall smoke-stacks, as well as the cultivated farms with their separating green hedges and neat farm houses, which are of brick in England and of stone in Scotland, tell of an industrious, hard-working, energetic people; while their fine public buildings, private residences, public accomodations, etc., do them credit.
Though we passed through England on our eastward course, we did not tarry there until our return. Then we halted in London and in Liverpool, where we were most of the time among subjects, not of Great Britain, but of the Kingdom of Heaven; and these, together with a few more such in other countries, we need not tell you were, of course, the very cream of Europe--expecting, too, shortly to be skimmed off--so that they are not to be considered as factors in European society, nor representatives of it. But aside from these dear ones in Christ, it was indeed truly refreshing, after our sojourn in the southern countries, to find ourselves again among the polite and cultured English; for no where did we meet so commonly that dignified grace and noble bearing which always characterize true manhood and womanhood. Of course, there are all shades of character in every nation, and, alas, too often outward grace covers some hideous inner deformity; but we refer now to our general impressions of the people as a whole, compared with the peoples of other nations. Nowhere are national characteristics more noticeable than on the great thoroughfares of travel. The polite and careful attention of busy railway officials, toward promiscuous strangers whom they never expect to meet again, is an index of a noble character--an index specially favorable on English soil, not only to the heart but also to the head.
While few English people have a high appreciation of our late McKinley bill, yet there is nevertheless a very fraternal feeling among the masses of the people toward Americans. "Why," said an English friend at a hotel table one day, "there never could be another war between England and the United States: they are all our brothers and sisters over there." "Ah," said another, "America is a fine country, and your people are doing wonders over there." Again, as we passed out of a street car in London, a stranger who overheard some of our conversation with friends said inquiringly, "Ho! Americans?" "Yes," we replied; and he reached out his hand and with a hearty shake said, emphatically, "Good luck to you."
Well, God bless the English people! welled up from our full hearts. His blessing is surer than luck; and we long for the glorious day when they and all men shall begin to realize it.
Passing through Holland--through Rotterdam, Amsterdam, the Hague, and thence across the country to Hanover--we were charmed with the general appearance and friendly courtesy of the Dutch, and must say that the Dutchman stands higher in our estimation than ever before. In these cities we carefully looked for the worst quarters as well as the best and the medium, and we saw no evidence of squalid poverty anywhere. Order and cleanliness seemed to characterize every home, and many of the working people about their daily duties were models of neatness. At hotels, railway stations, or if inquired of on the streets, they were uniformly kind and obliging--we thought specially so to us, because we were foreigners. One pleasant faced little woman with white cap and white [R1370 : page 57] apron, so commonly worn by working women there, seeing us halt at the wrong corner for a street car and intuitively discerning our English origin, came out of her way to say in broken English--"Cars no stay still here"-- and to direct us where to stop. A Professor and his wife from one of the colleges of Amsterdam, whom we met on a train, manifested a similar cordiality. In all Holland we failed to see a single miserably ragged man, woman or child. Yet the thrift and comfort of this life and the earthly prosperity, we fear, are the principal aim of these (in many respects) commendable people.
Amsterdam is a beautiful, quiet, orderly city, with numerous small parks where mothers and children and old people of all classes enjoy the beauties of nature in near proximity to their city homes. It is well supplied with canals, too, which enhance the beauty of the city and at the same time provide a cheap way of transporting goods from place to place within and outside the city. Indeed, the whole country, which, it will be remembered, was reclaimed from the sea and ditched for the purpose of drainage, is beautified by these canals, which separate farms so that no fences are needed, and connect with the cities, and so are of very general advantage, boats being substituted for wagons.
Rotterdam and the Hague are also fine and pleasant cities, and Zutphen is a small but very pretty town with the same air of comfort, etc. The dwellings in the cities, as well as in the country districts, are mainly of small, yellowish brick and quite tasteful, and there is a quiet and refined taste displayed in personal attire as well as in home appointments. With a few exceptions, where certain districts have adopted certain peculiar (though often pretty) costumes and colors, the same styles of clothing prevail there --and indeed, almost all over Europe--as are in vogue here. With a few exceptions--generally in country places--we did not find "loud" colors or uncomely costumes anywhere in Europe.
As soon as we cross the border line from Holland to Germany, we feel at once the different social atmosphere, and are among a people of altogether different tastes, customs and ideas. The country homes are less tasteful. The farmer's family and his cattle are generally sheltered under the same roof, and the farming is very generally left in the hands of the women, the men and the horses being required for the army and for the pursuits of city life. Comparatively little of the farm work is done by machinery. On market days the country women may be seen by hundreds coming in on the trains with great loads of produce in immense baskets strapped on their backs and often another load on each arm.
We saw one woman at a railway station with one of those large baskets, holding about two bushels, on her back, a half-bushel basket on her left arm and a package in her left hand, while with the right she supported one end of a trunk of which her little girl had the other end. And this was no uncommon thing: the women are literally beasts of burden. Many of them are old, gray-haired women of sixty or more, and often barefoot. It is not uncommon to see an old woman and a dog pulling a cart along the middle of the streets, loaded with milk or with produce and heavy enough for a horse. Yet, neither through the German cities nor through the country districts is there any appearance of want or squalor. The Germans are an industrious people and believe that thrift and economy will keep them out of the ditch; and so it does. Indeed, if it were not for the pluck and enterprise and hard work of the women of Germany, where would be her military glory? Yet, who ever thought of giving any credit to the poor, toiling wives and mothers who cultivate the soil and supply the markets, and thus save the country from famine, in addition to rearing the children, keeping the home and tending the cattle? Yet they seem to do it cheerfully, and no murmurings or strikes or socialistic sentiments come from them. They have bent their backs to the burden, and take it as a matter of course.
In Germany and Austria, some of the principal cities visited were Hanover, Berlin, Wittenburg, Leipsic, Dresden, Prague, Vienna, Cracow, Strasburg, Mayence and Cologne. All of these cities are evidences of German thrift and [R1370 : page 58] prosperity. Berlin is a magnificent city and its palaces and public buildings are quite imposing, though not comparable with those of Washington, our capital city. Its private dwellings are of a substantial character and of good appearance, but very seldom does one family occupy an entire house. They are rented out in single rooms and suits, the cellars being rented to the poorest class. It is estimated that one in ten of the population of Berlin, or over 100,000 people, live in these cellars.
We were most interested here in its military museum, where the murderous engines of war of every variety, ancient and modern, are displayed. As we viewed this dreadful commentary on man's inhumanity to man, and thought of the near approach of the terrible conflict of the battle of the great day of God Almighty, in which we are even now living, and of the present threatening attitude of the angry nations, we rejoiced in spirit as by faith we saw above the darkening war cloud the white-winged messenger of peace, commanding that the swords be beaten into plow shares and the spears into pruning hooks. Ah! yes, we said, it must needs be that one more great wave of anguish, as foretold in the Scriptures, shall roll over the world, but it will be the last; for after it the nations shall learn war no more.
Another museum in Berlin displays, in magnificent paintings and elegant statuary, the symbols of Germany's greatness and power. In the rotunda, over the doors and windows, are the sculptured heads of vanquished enemies, about four times the life size, in the agonies of dying, while on pedestals on all sides stood the German heroes larger than life size. The lofty ceiling was frescoed by a master hand to represent the old emperors of Germany as a Roman Senate in heaven, welcoming Emperor William, who was borne above the clouds by the angels, and extending to him a heavenly crown. The father of the present emperor is also shown as borne by the angels, and seemingly inquiring if he too may have a crown. Then there were dying soldiers on the field of battle also being received into glory. How strange and inconsistent the ideas seemed, compared with the truth. We fear that such hopes will be sadly disappointed when the heavenly crowns are actually awarded. The real conquerors of the world will never rejoice over the dying agonies of vanquished foes. And, thank God, a truer heroism will one day displace these false ideas.
At Wittenburg we visited the former home of Martin Luther, entered his study and sat in his old chair and at his old study table, beside the great old fashioned stove, and handled some of his books. As we went through the various apartments, including the little chapel, and looked out of the old windows upon the same scenes, and then went down to the church upon which Luther defiantly nailed his thirty-nine theses, how vividly it brought to mind those stormy times when the Lord, through the agencies of the Reformers, began to cleanse his sanctuary from the pollutions of Rome. The old church is now undergoing extensive repairs, and the doors have been replaced by new ones of metal, in the panels of which are cast the thirty-nine theses once nailed there. We, dear friends, have great cause for rejoicing to-day that, although the beginners of the great reformation stopped short in the work and went about organizing other systems of error, nevertheless, under divine providence, the cleansing of the sanctuary progressed to completion, and the golden vessels of divine truth are now being replaced in order. (See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. III., Chap. iv.) Our joyous appreciation of "present truth," which these recollections revived, can better be imagined than described.
In the cities of Germany there is much pleasure-seeking on the part of all classes. Plenty of music and brilliantly lighted beer gardens in every direction present their attractions, and are abundantly patronized by the multitudes. This pleasure-seeking (and finding, too, in their way) together with military zeal and ambition on the part of a very large class, and the continual drudge-life of another class, which, of necessity, must spend all time and thought for the meat that perisheth, appear to crowd the finer sentiments and ambitions into the background, except in the aristocracy, with whom we came little in contact.
MRS. C. T. RUSSELL.
(To be continued in our next issue.)
INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS.
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES, WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
LESSON VIII., FEBRUARY 21, Jer. 36:19-31.
Golden Text--"To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."--Heb. 3:15.
The incident of this lesson seems at first sight a very trivial one, but when we look into it more closely it assumes the importance of a solemn warning to a special class under very similar circumstances. Glancing back to the beginning of this chapter, we read that "This word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 'Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah (Chap. 1:2) even unto this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.'"
In obedience to this command Jeremiah employed Baruch the scribe to write all the words of this prophecy as he dictated it, and though that roll was burned by the defiant king Jehoiakim, it was re-written by Baruch from the dictation of Jeremiah, and thus it has come down to us. And that it has come down to our day for a purpose, and for the purpose expressed in verse 3, is manifest; for the prophecy is not only against Israel, but "against all the nations." And glancing back to chapter 25:29-38, we see that the Prophet is foretelling the great time of trouble spoken of by Daniel and by our Lord, which is due to take place in the end or harvest of this Gospel age--a period of forty years, from A.D. 1875 to 1915--in the very midst of which time we are now living, and the signs of which trouble are now manifest to all thinking minds.--See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., Chapter xv.
The Prophet declares that the trouble is to be upon "all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth" (25:26); "for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations." (25:31.) No trouble that has ever yet come upon the world answers to the many prophetic descriptions of this one, and none has ever yet involved all nations. In chapters 50 and 51 we have the significant prophecies against Babylon --not merely the Babylon of old, although it was included, but especially against Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, which the literal Babylon symbolized--the Babylon of Revelation. And when it is remembered that the Book of Revelation was given as a prophecy of things then future (Rev. 1:1), and that literal Babylon was in ruins centuries before this prophecy concerning mystic Babylon was written, it requires only a little comparison of the two prophecies to show that the major portion of Jeremiah's pertains to mystic Babylon, and is just about to find its fulfilment upon "Christendom" so-called. Compare Jer. 50:15,29 with Rev. 18:6; Jer. 50:38 with Rev. 16:12; Jer. 50:46 with Rev. 18:9; Jer. 51:6 with Rev. 18:4; Jer. 51:7,8,9 with Rev. 14:8; 17:4; 18:2,5,9,11,19; Jer. 51:13 with Rev. 17:1,15; Jer. 51:33 with Rev. 14:15,18; Jer. 51:37,45,63,64 with Rev. 18:2,4,21.
As we read the words of Jeremiah spoken by divine authority against "Great Babylon"-- "Christendom"--and compare them with those of similar import by the Revelator, we call to mind the Lord's words to the last phase of the Nominal Church--Laodicea, Rev. 3:14--in the midst of which we are living; and while noting the applicability of the description--"knowest not that thou art poor and blind and miserable and naked"--we note also the warning, "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire [divine truth], that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment [that faith which justifies], that [R1372 : page 59] thou mayest be clothed and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve [the eyesalve of simplicity and sincerity which will remove the films of prejudice and duplicity], that thou mayest see."
"As many as I love [as many as are honest and at heart loyal to God] I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent....To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne." The promise here is to the individuals: the great nominal church systems will not repent and leave the traditions of men for the pure word of God, but the individuals who hearken to the Lord's voice and obey his word (Rev. 18:4), and thus, by overcoming the influence and power of error, prove their love of the truth and their loyalty to the Lord, will receive the great reward--a share in the kingdom which shall break the chains of error and superstition and sin and "bless all the families of the earth."--Gal. 3:16,29. [R1372 : page 60]
But the great systems of error, both civil and religious, which in these days join hands to fortify and uphold each other, and which, calling themselves Christian nations and Christian churches, dishonor the Lord and his Word by their false teachings and evil practices, shall feel the righteous indignation of the Lord. It matters not if their great ones follow the example of Jehoiakim in destroying the parchment upon which the words of warning and counsel are written, and if they refuse to believe the testimony of the prophets and apostles against them; the word of the Lord is nevertheless sure; and both the individuals and the systems which despise his word and cast it from them shall feel his hot displeasure, while those who humbly hear and heed shall be blessed.
In view of these things, how appropriate are the words of our golden text--"To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." [R1372 : page 60]
LESSON IX., FEBRUARY 28, JEREMIAH 38:1-13.
Golden Text--"I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee."--Jer. 1:19.
This lesson tells how the faithful Prophet, Jeremiah, was persecuted because he boldly declared the word of the Lord which foretold only trouble upon Israel, and how the government foolishly thought to avert the trouble by persecuting the Lord's warning messenger, instead of by heeding his wise counsel.
In this the faithful Prophet typified the faithful of the Gospel age who will also suffer persecution in some shape or form, if they boldly declare the whole counsel of God; for, until the Kingdom of God is established in the earth, "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim. 3:12; Phil. 1:29.) And the Apostle Paul points those of the Gospel Church, who are running for the prize of our high calling, to the noble, self-sacrificing faithfulness of the ancient worthies who endured so much for their faithfulness to the Lord and his truth.--Heb. 11.
The deliverance promised to Jeremiah in the words of our golden text was not to be a deliverance from persecution or even from death, but merely such protection as would prevent his enemies from prevailing against him to hinder the Lord's purposes in him. The Lord does not engage to deliver his children from all the ills of this present life. They are permitted to share them with the rest of mankind, and even to suffer injustice and abuse and often martyrdom for righteousness; but if faithful unto death--loyal and true to God and to his truth and to conscience--their glorious deliverance will come at last with an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ--those of the Gospel age into the spiritual phase of that kingdom, and those of the Jewish age into the earthly phase of it. During this time in which God's people pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven," they, as its representatives, suffer violence as foretold (Matt. 11:12); and as it was with the Master, so it is with his followers, the violence comes more from worldly-spirited ones in the nominal church than from the open rejecters of God.
As with the Master, so with the true followers, the persecutions may be more open and more severe at some times than at others, but no radical and complete change may be expected until the kingdom is the Lord's and he is the governor among the nations. (Psa. 22:28.) "Then shall the righteous [the wheat of this Gospel age] shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (Matt. 13:43.) No longer shall they suffer the scorn, contempt and opprobrium of the world with Christ (2 Tim. 2:12; Rom. 8:17), but they shall be glorified with him as joint-heirs with him in his kingdom which shall bless the whole world, including those who ignorantly persecute them now, and bringing all to a clear knowledge of the truth. [R1372 : page 60]
THE DOWNFALL OF JUDAH.
LESSON X., MARCH 6, JEREMIAH 39:1-10.
Golden Text--"Behold, your house is left unto you desolate."--Matt. 23:38.
In this lesson we have an exhibition of the severity of God's dealings with his covenant people when, notwithstanding the Lord's repeated expostulations, warnings and chastisements, they wilfully pursued a course in violation of their national vows. Israel, unlike any other nation of the world, was brought into special relationship with God. God chose them to be his people, and favored them above all other people, by giving them his law, by raising up for them judges and prophets, and by specially guarding and directing them in so far as they submitted to his will, as well as by warning, counseling and chastising them when they became wilful and disobedient.
On the other hand, Israel, as a nation, entered into a solemn covenant with the Lord, saying, "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do." (Exod. 19:1-8.) For the faithful keeping of this covenant God promised them all manner of earthly blessings--blessings in the city, blessings in the field, blessings of a numerous offspring and of the increase of their cattle and their flocks, blessings of their basket and [R1372 : page 61] store, and ample protection from all their national enemies. (Deut. 28:1-14; Lev. 26:1-13.) But if they would disregard their covenant, corresponding curses were pronounced against them. If they walked contrary to him the Lord declared his intention to walk contrary to them.--Deut. 28:15-68; Lev. 26:14-46.
It was in fulfilment of this covenant on God's part that the events of this lesson came to pass. Judah, like backsliding Israel (the ten tribes), which had been previously carried away captives (2 Kings 17:1-24), had not profited by that example of the Lord's displeasure, nor by the warnings of his prophets, but had out-rivaled her sister in corruption (Jer. 3:8); and now her cup of iniquity was full and the Lord poured upon her her merited punishment, due alike to king and people; for "neither Zedekiah, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the Lord which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah."
The seventy years which followed the overthrow here depicted are frequently referred to as the seventy years captivity, but the Scriptures designate them the seventy years desolation of the land--a desolation which had been predicted by the prophet Jeremiah (25:11), saying, "And this whole land shall be a desolation, and this nation shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years." The completeness of the desolation is shown in verses 8 and 9 of this lesson and also in 2 Chron. 36:17-21; and although the king of Babylon allowed certain of the poor of the land to remain, and gave them vineyards and fields, yet it was the Lord's purpose that the land of Israel should be desolate seventy years, and so it was. In the same year Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had made governor and under whom many of the Jewish fugitives were disposed to return from neighboring countries, was assassinated, and the entire population speedily removed into Egypt for fear of the wrath of the king of Babylon.--2 Kings 25:21-26; Jer. 41:1-3; 43:5,6.
The reason why the land must be desolate, and that for exactly seventy years, is a very interesting study, and it is clearly stated to be-- "To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath to fulfill threescore and ten  years." (2 Chron. 36:21.) For a full explanation of this see MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chap. vi. The significance of the seventy years desolation is shown on page 191.
To consider the subject of this lesson merely as a scrap of history and to draw a moral lesson therefrom is to fail, utterly, of getting its true significance. It should be considered in its relationship to the great plan of God in which it was a clearly marked and important step.
(1) It marks the beginning of the great Jubilee cycle.
(2) It marks the close of God's typical kingdom, of which Zedekiah was the last king, and concerning whom it was prophesied: "And thou, death-deserving wicked one, prince of Israel, whose day is come at the time of the iniquity of the end [or termination of the typical Kingdom of God]--Thus saith the Lord Eternal, Remove the mitre, and take off the crown: this shall not be so always; exalt him that is low, and make low him that is high. Overthrown, overthrown, overthrown will I render it also, and it shall not belong (to any one), until he come whose right it is, and I will give [R1373 : page 61] it him."--Ezek. 21:31,32.--Leeser's translation.
(3) It marks the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles, concerning which our Lord said, "Jerusalem shall [continue to] be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" [or completed].--Luke 21:24.
Nearly twenty-five hundred years have elapsed since Zedekiah lost his crown; and every scattered Israelite throughout the world realizes that not another king of the house of David, in which centered all the promises, has ever since been upon the throne. Many of them are convinced that they will not have another until Messiah shall take to himself his great power and reign. Yet they see not that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised one. The eyes of their understanding are yet blinded by prejudice. They see not that the heir of the throne must come from the seed of David, although they are witnesses that since the rejection of Jesus the genealogies which previously were sacredly cared for have been lost, and none have been kept for centuries by which they could distinguish an heir to David's throne. In fact, all tribal and family relationships are now obliterated among the Jews. But, thank God, the morning of the restitution age is dawning, and in that day their blindness will be healed and they will recognize the fact that the one whom they pierced is both the son and the Lord of David, and the one whose right it is, to take the throne and to fulfil all the gracious promises of God.
While the Jews have been thus unbelieving of God's Word and ignorant of the steps of his great plan, the other nations have erred in another way. Seeing Israel's kingdom cut off, and finding themselves for centuries uninterfered with in ruling the world, they conclude that it shall so continue always, and know not that their days of empire are limited to "seven times" or 2520 years, which will end in A.D. [R1373 : page 62] 1915, giving place to the Kingdom of God in the hands of the Messiah--him whose right it is to rule the world, and through whose kingdom all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Even the majority of the Christian people who throughout the civilized world study this lesson, and who for years have prayed, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven," have no expectation that he who redeemed the world is yet to be its veritable ruler, taking the kingly scepter and crown of which those removed from Zedekiah were only the types, and reorganizing God's Kingdom "under the whole heavens" of which the kingdom of Israel was but a figure.
The Golden Text has no direct reference to the lesson, although connected with the same divine plan. It marks another step in that plan. When the seventy years of desolation were ended, God opened the way for the return to the land of promise of all those Israelites who had faith in his promises; yet under such difficulties and trials as served to sift and test them. But although they tried often to re-establish their own government, they were not permitted so to do, but were continually "overturned" between the several successive empires of gentile times. Nevertheless God kept them together as a people until Christ came (Gen. 49:10), that as a people they should have the first opportunity to accept him and come into the higher favor of the New Covenant.
It was after the Savior and his disciples had for three and a half years proclaimed the Kingdom at hand, and ready to be given them if they were ready to accept it properly (and when, rejecting it, they were crying out "Crucify him"), that the time came for the utter desolation of that nation as a people in the words of the golden text. There was the great turning point in Israel's history. The desolation of the land for seventy years and the removal of the crown and kingdom for 2520 years was a great calamity, but the leaving of the house utterly desolate as a result of their rejecting and crucifying the King has been far worse, themselves being the witnesses.
Meantime what the nation of Israel rejected was accepted by a remnant of that people (Rom. 11:7) and the foreordained number is being completed from among the gentiles--a people for his name--the Bride and joint-heir of the King of Glory. Soon this "little flock" will be complete, the union of Bridegroom and Bride will follow, and then the Kingdom of God will come in power and great glory; and fleshly Israel will be first of the nations to realize its Millennial blessings.--Rom. 11:20-33.
PROMISE OF A NEW HEART.
LESSON XI., MARCH 13, EZEK. 36:25-38.
Golden Text--"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you."--Ezek. 36:26.
In our last lesson we saw Judah in distress, her crown removed, her holy city and temple in ruins, and her people given to the sword and to captivity. The expostulations and warnings of the prophet Jeremiah had not availed to turn them from their evil course, and consequently the wrath of God was visited upon them, as it had been previously visited upon her sister Samaria (the ten tribes). But although multiplied were their iniquities and their crimes, the Lord did not utterly cast away his people, but in great mercy remembered them, even in the land of their captivity, where he was represented in their midst by the prophet Ezekiel, who for twenty-two years delivered unto them the Word of the Lord--words of reproof and denunciation, and also words of promise and hope, of which those of this lesson are a pleasing sample. As we peruse these words of promise and call to mind the miserable idolatries, licentiousness and ingratitude of this hard-hearted and stiff-necked people, let us not fail to mark the loving kindness of our God, his mercy and faithfulness, his slowness to anger and his plenteous grace. And while we do so, let us not forget the typical character of his dealings with Israel--that in chastising and correcting and forgiving and restoring and promising to bless and fully re-instate them in his favor, he is illustrating his great love and mercy and his everlasting kindness toward the whole world whom he so loved as to give his only begotten Son to redeem, and whom he purposes in due time to bring to a knowledge of the truth and to a full opportunity, under the most favorable conditions, of securing everlasting life. (1 Tim. 2:4-6.) The final restoration and blessing of Israel here predicted is only the first-fruits of that abundant grace which is in store for all the world, to be manifested in due time.
This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, but clearly relates to the final restoration of Israel to the land of promise and to the favor of God, when the long period of their chastisement unmixed with favor (Jer. 16:13-18) is ended, and when he who redeemed all and "whose right it is" to reign over Israel and the world shall have come again and taken the dominion.
The words of the Prophet previous to the promises of blessing in this lesson (verses 16-24) [R1373 : page 63] recall the numerous sins of Israel as the cause for their dispersion among the heathen, and remind them of how they had brought disgrace upon the name of the Lord in all the countries whither they went, and that they have no claim upon the mercy and forbearance of God. But, notwithstanding all this, he declares the Lord's purpose to gather them out from among the heathen, and out of all the countries, into their own land, and "then" to cleanse and bless them; and in this great exhibition of his forbearance and love to a notoriously stiff-necked and rebellious house, to exalt his great name among the nations--a name in which they, as well as Israel, may safely trust, since the ample provisions of his plan are for the salvation of all, of whatever tribe or nation, who trust and obey him when brought to the full knowledge of the truth.
Verse 24. "For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land." This unquestionably refers to the literal and final regathering of Israel to Palestine--the land which God promised to Abraham, saying, "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy seed forever." (Gen. 13:14,15; 17:8.) It is the land of which Stephen said (Acts 7:5) Abraham never owned a foot, but in the confident hope of which he died. Such a promise, made to Abraham, as well as to his seed, and made by God who cannot lie, and which Abraham never realized before he died, manifestly implies the resurrection of Abraham, as well as of that large proportion of his seed which has gone down into the grave, in order to the receiving of the land. Nor was "the land" here used in a mystical sense: it was plainly--"all the land which thou seest," and, as stated in Gen. 17:8, "the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan."
Such an interpretation of this promise is amply supported by the Prophet in the succeeding chapter (37:12-14), where he says, "Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, O my people [Israel--verse 11], I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, and shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I Jehovah have spoken it and performed it, saith Jehovah." It is also in perfect harmony with the words of Paul and of our Lord Jesus-- "There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust." "Marvel not at [R1374 : page 63] this: for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice [the voice of the Son of Man], and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment"*--trial.--Acts 24:15; John 5:28,29.
*The Greek word krisis here rendered "damnation" in the Common Version is more properly "judgment" in the Revised Version and in the Emphatic Diaglott. The same Greek word is translated "judgment" in thirty-nine instances, and in only two others is it rendered "damnation" --a word to which modern theology has attached the unwarrantable idea of eternal torment, but which otherwise signifies simply judgment or trial, including, of course, the result or sentence, to either life or death, at its close.
This great regathering of all Israel to the land of promise, which shall by and by include their risen dead as well as the living, is already begun in the remarkable exodus thither of their living representatives which is attracting the attention of the whole civilized world. And God's expressed purpose of driving and gathering them out of all the lands whither he had scattered them (Jer. 16:15) is being accomplished in this our day.
It is on this promise of the receiving again of Israel into divine favor that Paul bases an argument for the resurrection of the world, saying, "If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world [the breaking down of the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile (which previously excluded the Gentiles from any share in the typical reconciliation, effected for Israel only under their Law Covenant), and the opening of the New Covenant to all--to the Jew first and also to the Gentile] what shall the receiving of them [back to divine favor] be [imply] but life from the dead" [--a resurrection of the dead ones]? (Rom. 11:15.) It will imply that the whole world, of which Israel is to be a first-fruit, is shortly to receive the gracious opportunity of restitution or resurrection which the death of Christ purchased, and which the exaltation and glorious reign of Christ and the Church shall accomplish.
If some think they have reason still to doubt the restitution of wicked Israel, the first-fruits, and of the wicked world (whom they represented in type) back to divine favor and life and to the possession of the earth for an everlasting inheritance, let them turn to Ezek. 16:46-63 and see how God promises to restore even the wicked Sodomites; and let them remember also the word of the Lord Jesus (Matt. 10:15), that in that day of judgment when he is governor over the nations "it will be more tolerable for Sodom" than for Israel--the chastisement [R1374 : page 64] and discipline necessary to their restoration to righteousness will be less severe for them than for some who are of the natural lineage of Abraham.
Verse 25. "Then will I sprinkle clean water [pure truth and righteous influences] upon you, and ye shall be clean. From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." There will be no desire, nor incentive, nor temptation to idolatrous worship then. Satan shall be bound and shall deceive the nations no more, and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth.
Verse 26 promises a new heart--a heart of flesh, subject to the blessed influences of truth and righteousness, and no longer callous and indifferent alike to the appeals of love and the claims of justice. The word "new" might properly be translated renewed or repaired as the same word is frequently rendered. The heart or disposition of man was not hard and bitter and selfish originally: when fresh, newly created, he was declared to be the image of the God of love. Sin, disobedience, brought the penalty, death, which has impaired the image of God, and in every way degraded man. (Rom. 5:12.) The creating of man was a momentary act, but the re-creating, the re-generation, the re-newing, the re-storing of his heart will be a gradual work and will require and have the Millennial age or times of restitution for its accomplishment. (Acts 3:19-21; Matt. 19:28.) The creation of Adam, and the race provided for in him, was without choice to the creatures; but while the way, the truth and the life of regeneration are provided for all freely, in Christ, none will be regenerated contrary to his own will and choice. God in Christ has paid the penalty of Adam's sin for him and all in him, and has provided the coming times of restitution in which to make known his favor to every creature, through the Church, selected during the Gospel age. But after he has made the provision for all, only those who accept of those New Covenant favors will be recognized by him as "my people."
Verse 27 promises that the spirit of God and of Christ, the spirit of love, as distinguished from the spirit of selfishness, shall dwell in them to inform and assist them to do right. He will cause them to walk in his statutes--inclining and enabling them to be obedient.
Verses 28-30 promise the divine protection and cleansing and abundant provisions of corn and fruit and the increase of the field, and no more famine while the restored Israelites dwell safely in the land which God gave unto their fathers. Let us not forget, however, the double application of this prophecy. As Israel signifies those who are blessed and favored of God and includes all such, with the natural seed as a first-fruit, so the land of Israel in its larger sense will be the renewed earth, Paradise restored.
Verses 31 and 32 remind the restored ones of their unworthiness of all these favors--the free, unmerited gifts of God, and show the confusion and shame and repentance of all who will constitute the Israel referred to.
Verses 33-35 declare that the long barren and desolate land of Palestine shall be cultivated, inhabited, its cities rebuilt, and made so flourishing that those who pass through it then shall say, "This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden"--and the entire earth shall blossom as the rose.
Verse 36 shows that as these blessings progress, all will be witnesses of God's faithful goodness to his people.
Verses 37 and 38 point out the necessity for co-operation on the part of any who would enjoy the blessings promised--prayer being a token of the soul's sincere desire--and promises the remarkable increase of the Lord's holy flock at that time. This reminds us of the words of our Lord, "Other sheep I have that are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." (John 10:16.) Every soul that longs for the truth is one of the Lord's lost sheep; and every such one will be found during the Millennial age, and will be brought into harmony with all God's sheep in heaven and on earth. All will be consecrated to the Lord and all will walk in his ways. And so changed will be the public sentiment of that day, that even upon the bells of the horses will be inscribed, "Holiness unto the Lord." (Zech. 14:20.) Blessed assurance! Glorious day! when not only Israel, the first fruits, but all who are feeling after righteousness and the true God shall be recovered from present blindness; and, recognizing the reign of Christ begun, shall say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Jehovah." For evidence of its close proximity see MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., The Time Is At Hand.
FURTHER READING MATTER FOR YOUR INTERESTED FRIENDS.
WHILE A SAMPLE COPY OF THE WATCH TOWER OR ONE OF OUR FREE OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS MAY START A HUNGRY SOUL TO INVESTIGATING, THEY CAN DO LITTLE MORE. TELL SUCH THAT THE HELP THEY NEED FOR UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE IN THE LIGHT OF PRESENT TRUTH IS MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I. --"THE PLAN OF THE AGES"--OVER 260,000 ALREADY PUBLISHED --350 PAGES. TELL THEM OF THE BENEFIT IT HAS BEEN TO YOUR OWN HEART AND HEAD, AND HOW YOU VALUE IT, AND THAT IT IS ONLY 25 CENTS POST PAID--OR LOANED TO THOSE TOO POOR TO BUY--AND URGE THEM TO SEND FOR IT AT ONCE.
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