ZION'S WATCH TOWER AND HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH.
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY,
ARCH STREET, ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR; MRS. C. T. RUSSELL, ASSOCIATE.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $1.00 A YEAR, IN ADVANCE,
INCLUDES ALSO A SUBSCRIPTION, FOR ONE YEAR,
TO "THE OLD THEOLOGY" (TRACTS), QUARTERLY,
By Express Order, Postal Money Order, Bank Draft, or Registered Letter. Foreign only by Foreign Money Order.
FREE TO THE LORD'S POOR.
N.B.--Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
HARVEST WORK BEFORE THE STORM.
As the Lord is pleased to use the members of his body who are yet in the flesh to be his "reapers" and "messengers," it would seem that each one should be inspired with zeal, tempered with wisdom, to see that his part in this great work is faithfully done. All who are awake are beginning to recognize the harvest time--the "end of the age"--and to rejoice in the privilege of harvest work now under way. But all such have heard also "a consumption, even determined in the midst of the whole land." (Isa. 28:22.) Louder peals the thunder and darker grow the clouds. A great storm is near at hand. Though one may not know exactly when it will break forth, it seems reasonable to suppose that it cannot be more than twelve or fourteen years yet future. As the harvesters in the natural field often find it necessary to withdraw, as the clouds get very dark and the winds blow, so the reapers in this harvest may by and by be compelled to cease their active service.
Some may be inclined to think that the harvest work is largely done; but probably the larger portion of this work is to be done in the coming six or eight years. "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers into his vineyard," and seek earnestly to be among them. True, a great work is being done. The books, the papers and the tracts sent out from the WATCH TOWER office are doing their part; but they need "living epistles" everywhere to introduce them to the people. Quite a number of colporteurs are now in the field, and others of the "wise" are working in various ways; but still as the fields ripen more laborers are needed.
Another thought: Every practical tiller of the soil knows that just before a storm is an excellent time to sow certain kinds of seed, such as clover and timothy, which the storm will serve to wash down into the soil. Likewise, the precious seeds of truth, which may now be sown "broadcast" over the land, will, no doubt, by the storm that is coming, be settled down into the hearts of many; and after the storm is over will yield an abundant crop.
Those experienced in the various ways of spreading the Truth will agree that the house to house canvass with MILLENNIAL DAWN is, in the present time, by far the most effective way of preaching the Truth. There are several reasons for this conclusion: (1) Babylon has preached the world "to death" with false doctrine. (2) Some of the people do not want to go outside of the churches, for fear they might hear more of the same kind of doctrine they are used to hearing inside. (3) Some do not know much about the truth, and are afraid. And some of the sincere and honest are inclined to think (rightfully) that there is not much Gospel preached by public speaking now-a-days. (4) Earnest truth-seekers are nearly always earnest readers, and though they may not have much confidence in ordinary books, they will keep on reading, hoping to find the Truth (God's plan) which will "satisfy their longings as nothing else can do." (5) A good colporteur can put into the hands of the people from five to six thousand volumes of DAWN in a year; and they will keep on preaching after he has gone to other fields. One with even a little talent for the work ought to dispose of three thousand volumes a year.
In view of all these things may we not reasonably hope that inside of three years there will be at least ten times as many of the brethren and sisters out as actual colporteurs as there now are? Then let every one that is fully consecrated to the Lord see what he can do. Some can go themselves, and some can help others to go. But let all who can, by any reasonable sacrifice, seek to enter this harvest work.
What if we do encounter some hardships! However, let no one think that it is a continual burden to be out in this work. The Master said, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light: and this is true in whatever capacity we serve him.
Dear brethren and sisters, let us all remember the words of the wise: "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good." (Eccl. 11:6.) Thus we may each have the blessed assurance that we have done what we could to advance the interests of our Redeemer's Kingdom.
S. D. ROGERS.
"Watchman, What of the Night?" "The Morning Cometh, and a Night also!" Isaiah 21:11
VOL. XIV. JULY 1 & 15, 1893--DOUBLE NUMBER. NO. 13 & 14. VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
"Take counsel together, and it shall come to naught; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us."--Isa. 8:10-16.
IT is becoming more and more evident to the religious leaders of Christendom, that the various sectarian creeds will not much longer serve to hold together the membership of their several organizations. Hence new schemes are being formed to take the places long held by doctrines true and false, to unite the people, behind denominational fences, on other than doctrinal lines. The opening of the eyes of men's understandings is progressing at a marvelous pace, and the unreasonableness, and deformity and absurdity of the various creeds are becoming apparent to the most obtuse. What once passed for truth without a question, because promulgated by clerics or councils is now boldly challenged for reasonable and Scriptural authority. A prominent Presbyterian clergyman, Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage, is reported to have said:--
Another, Rev. Sawin, of Troy, N.Y., said recently:--
Indeed one cannot read the daily press without realizing that the great nominal church, of all denominations, is being shaken from center to circumference. The strife of tongues among both the clergy and the laity is sending consternation throughout all Christendom.
In this extremity of Ecclesiasticism a happy thought struck some one, and it has found an echo throughout the length and breadth of Christendom. It was to send the Macedonian cry around the world, to all its heathen priests and apostles, to "Come over and help us." And the heathen have heard and heeded the cry; and Christian ministers are looking forward with high hopes to this grand ecumenical council of all the religions of the world, to be held in Chicago next September, confessedly for suggestions as to how they may get up a new religion that will be acceptable, if possible, to the whole world.
A prominent New England Congregational minister, Rev. J. G. Johnson, is reported to have said with reference to it:--
"For seventeen days these various religions will have the opportunity to assert themselves. learn something ourselves. In every religion there is some trace of God; and what are the false religions but the broken and distorted echoes of the voice of Jehovah?"
The Rev. Mr. Barrows, of Chicago, spoke enthusiastically of the friendly relations manifested among Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, Jewish rabbis, and, in fact, the thinking heads of all religions extant, by the correspondence in reference to the great Chicago parliament. He says:-- [R1546 : page 196]
"The old idea that the religion to which I belong is the only true one, is out of date.There is something to be learned from all religions, and no man is worthy of the religion he represents unless he is willing to grasp any man by the hand as his brother. Some one has said that the time is now ripe for the best religion to come to the front. The time for a man to put on any airs of superiority about his particular religion is past. Here will meet the wise man, the scholar and the prince of the East in friendly relation with the archbishop, the rabbi, the missionary, the preacher and the priest. They will sit together in congress for the first time. This, it is hoped, will help to break down the barriers of creed. All religions are but the imperfect rays shining from our Father."
The Rev. T. Chalmers, of the Disciples Church, says:--
"This first Parliament of Religions seems to be the harbinger of a still larger religious fraternity --a fraternity that will combine into one world religion what is best, not in one alone, but in all of the great historic faiths. It may be that, under the guidance of this larger hope, we shall need to revise our phraseology and speak more of religious unity, than of Christian unity. I rejoice that all the great cults are to be brought into touch with each other, and that Jesus will take his place in the companionship of Gautama, Confucius and Zoroaster."
The New York Sun, in an editorial on this subject, recently said:--
"We cannot make out exactly what the Parliament proposes to accomplish.... It is possible, however, that the Chicago scheme is to get up some sort of a new and compound [R1547 : page 196] religion, which shall include and satisfy every variety of religious and irreligious opinion [we would add--of note or influence]. It is a big job to get up a new and eclectic religion satisfactory all around; but Chicago is confident that it can finish up the business on the 27th of next September."
The various religions of Earth will set forth their claims as to points of superiority until Sept. 26th, when as per announcement a conclusion will be sought, the theme for that day being, "The religious union of the whole human family." On the next and last day, the Parliament will consider "The elements of perfect religion as recognized and set forth in the different faiths," with a view to determining "the characteristics of the ultimate religion," and "the center of the coming religious unity of mankind." Is it possible that thus, by their own confession, Christian (?) ministers are unable, at this late day, to determine what should be the center of religious unity, or the characteristics of perfect religion? Are they indeed so anxious for a "world religion" that they are willing to sacrifice any or all the principles of true Christianity, and even the name "Christian," if necessary, to obtain it? Even so, they confess. "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked and slothful servant," saith the Lord. The preceding days of the conference will be devoted to the setting forth of the various religions by their respective representatives.
The scheme is a bold and hazardous one, but it should open the eyes of every true child of God to several facts that are manifest. (1) That the nominal Christian church has reached its last extremity of hope in its ability to stand, under the searching judgments of this day when "the Lord hath a controversy with his [professed] people"--nominal spiritual Israel. (Micah 6:1,2.) (2) That instead of repenting of their back-slidings and lack of faith and zeal and godliness, and thus seeking a return of divine favor, they are endeavoring, by a certain kind of union and co-operation, to support one another, and to call in the aid of the heathen world to help them to withstand the judgments of the Lord in exposing the errors of their human creeds and their misrepresentations of his worthy character. (3) This willingness to compromise Christ and his gospel, for the sake of gaining the friendship of the world and its emoluments of power and influence, should be evident to every thinking person. (4) Their blindness is such that they are unable to distinguish truth from error, or the spirit of the truth from the spirit of the world, and they have already lost sight of the doctrines of Christ.
Doubtless temporary aid will come from the source whence it is so enthusiastically sought; but it will be only a preparatory step which will involve the whole world in the impending doom of Babylon, causing the kings and merchants and traders of the whole earth to mourn and lament for this great city.--Rev. 18:9,11,17. [R1547 : page 197]
THE NEXT RELIGIOUS CONFERENCE AT JERUSALEM.
Another movement, having the same general end in view, has already been proposed, and doubtless took practical shape, at the celebration of the Fourth of July in the city of Philadelphia. The proposition, as clipped from the Philadelphia Inquirer, is as follows:--
THE PROPOSED UNION OF SECTS.
"Independence Hall on the day of the celebration will be the scene of a meeting of representatives of the different sects in this city, at which resolutions will be adopted setting forth the scope of the proposed celebration of the advent of the twentieth century of Christianity by an international gathering at Jerusalem six years hence. The preliminary steps were taken yesterday in historic Carpenter's Hall. The idea, it is said, seems to take all over the United States. All seem to think that it is appropriate, and that it comes appropriately from America. It is proposed to send the resolutions to the World's Fair Commission and have them notify the representatives of all nations, governments and provinces there assembled of this glorious conception.
"Dr. McCook spoke of the difficulties in the way. 'The differences,' he said, 'were sentimental and conscientious. If Israelites, Mohammedans and all others can thus meet, it will be an auspicious opening for the twentieth century. They say, We want to get the Anglicans, Russians, Germans, Roman Catholics, Greek Orientals, Nestorians, and all others. There is no objection in regard to sect or denomination in such a meeting. It simply brings the human family together.'
"A committee which shall have power to enlarge its numbers was appointed to push the movement. The idea is to have the proposed resolutions prepared by the different sects and read at the meeting in Independence Hall on July 4 before they are sent to Chicago."
This movement will doubtless supplement and further confirm the results of the great Chicago Parliament, the design of which is the "religious unity of the race," no matter what the character of the religion may be; for, as some of the projectors affirm, they think the present is no time for Christians to put on any airs of superiority about their particular kind of religion. This is the day of compromises demanded by "the exigencies of these times" of Babylon's judgment. And the compromises, they realize, must be made, or the whole structure of "Christendom"--i.e., "Babylon," must hopelessly perish.
We cannot afford, say the various denominations of Protestantism, to ignore and disfellowship that great branch of Christendom, the Church of Rome ["Babylon the great, the mother of harlots"]. All are now in haste to erase from their creeds those articles referring to Papacy as the Antichrist; and they say, We must secure Roman Catholic co-operation and assistance at any cost, while the Papacy only holds back for the privilege of dictating the terms of co-operation--which will be hers or none at all. The same compromising spirit is also manifest in the desire and effort to unite the various sects of Protestantism. In the more honest moods of former times Christians drifted apart because of their honest conceptions or misconceptions of divine truth; but now, too ignoble to confess their errors, yet anxious for union, they are ready to compromise their views of truth and their consciences for the sake of unity.
This was very noticeable in the late Presbyterian Assembly at Washington, D.C., in their consideration of the overtures of the Protestant Episcopal church for unity and co-operation. When one gentleman, Dr. Hollifield, ventured to remind the assembly of its duty of honest consistency and fidelity to conscientious convictions, he was speedily silenced, and his unpopular utterances were frowned upon and denounced as uncharitable and unchristian, because against the present clerical policy of union and compromise.
Dr. Hollifield said he thought the committee on church unity made a mistake when it proposed to shift the discussion from the differences between the two great ecclesiastical bodies named, to those in which they were in harmony. He was aware that the propositions were made with the best intentions in view; but he did not believe the unity hoped for could be secured by the means proposed. It was these differences, and not those points on which they were in accord, that had produced their alienation. The causes of the alienation should first be removed. The differences were not of minor [R1547 : page 198] importance: they were of a serious character. One obstacle was the Romish doctrines and practices of many (and a constantly increasing number) of the Protestant Episcopal churches. Many of them were so high--or, he would say, so low--that a stranger visiting one of them might mistake it for a Roman Catholic church. The Episcopal high church, he said, was nothing more nor less than a back door to Rome. This state of affairs was a barrier to Christian unity in its full sense, for they could not afford to enter into relations with a church whose trend was Romeward, if they were to be true to a pure gospel. This fidelity to a sacred trust, he said, is all the more imperative at the present, when Rome is finding a firmer foothold on our shores.
But this earnest exhortation found no response in the hearts of other members of the assembly, and even this gentleman, in remaining in the organization, must submit his conscience in the matter to its majority decision, and thus become a partaker of their sins. His only proper course under these convictions would be to step out.--Rev. 18:4,5.
"RELIGIOUS RIOTS ARE ABROAD."
There is something very significant in the reported advice of Mr. Talmage to his congregation recently. He raised the question, What position shall we take with regard to the religious controversies now distracting the church? and then replied:--
"Stay out of it. While these religious riots are abroad, stay at home and attend to business. Why, how do you expect a man only five or six feet high to wade through an ocean a thousand feet deep? I have not given two minutes in thirty years to studying the controversial points of religion; and if I live thirty years more I shall not give one-thirtieth of a second to them. The world is now being creeded to death. The young men now entering the ministry are being launched into the thickest fog that ever beset a coast."
What confession! and what advice from a professed minister of the gospel of Christ! He sees the churches floundering about in a dense fog of ignorance and superstition, with dangerous rocks upon which their barks may be dashed at any moment; yet, by his own confession, he has not spent two minutes in thirty years in "earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints," nor in studying to show himself "a workman approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth;" but has contented [R1548 : page 198] himself with delivering eloquent addresses to please the itching ears of an admiring public, instead of using his talents as a wise and faithful steward of his Master's goods. Such the Lord seems to denominate "wicked and slothful servants."
But it is becoming more and more impossible to stay out of these controversies as he advises, and to remain neutral in the midst of the judgments of this Day of the Lord. The fire of this day will try every man's work, of what sort it is (1 Cor. 3:13); and if his faith is built with the stubble of error it will surely perish.
The only safe way for any child of God to do is to ignore the advice of all such time-serving shepherds, and to see to it that his faith is securely founded upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, our Redeemer and Lord; and that its superstructure is built only with the gold and silver of inspired truth. But to do this, he would best take the advice of the Lord and the apostles in preference to that of Mr. Talmage or others.--"Search the Scriptures," and believe their testimony, rejecting all that is contrary to them. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." --Isa. 8:20.
What, indeed, may we expect to be the character of the "new," "electic" "world religion" which is to be evolved out of the present disorder and confusion--out of the present "thick fogs," "religious riots," and "ecclesiastical hysterics," as the present unrest is variously designated by prominent clergymen; when the leaders of Christendom have lost their landmarks and see nothing in Christianity whereof to boast over the superstitions of heathenism? Consistency would call in their missionaries.
The church of Rome is determined that the character of the coming "world religion" shall be Papal, and is making every possible effort to that end. It is reported that within the last year Pope Leo XIII., in negotiations with the Greek Catholic church, has practically brought within view the reunion of the long [R1548 : page 199] separated Greek and Roman Catholic churches. And every intelligent observer of the times knows of his policy and its progress here.
The spectacle of Christendom to-day is indeed unique. On the one hand the power of the disintegrating elements is strikingly conspicuous, while on the other, the tendency to unity is very pronounced. The spirit of liberty and independence of thought and action, the increase of knowledge and general intelligence, and the awakening faculties and sensibilities of all classes, is rapidly tending to disintegration of the old creeds and of the great systems built upon them. The daily press reports a recent split, even in the Roman Catholic church in France, which is significant of the disintegrating work, even in the strongest holds of superstition. Thus men are being shaken apart and made to stand alone upon their own convictions.
Such is the natural tendency of the present times in accordance with the Lord's design. The tendency to unity is, on the contrary, an artificial one and the efforts in that direction are made for policy's sake by those whose financial and social interests are bound up with the old tottering systems. The clergy are making use of their office to withstand the inevitable current of the present natural tendency; and they will doubtless succeed for a time, but only to make the final outcome more appalling.
The one thing most desired by the clergy, whose craft and reputation and honors are in danger, and which they, as a class, are most earnestly striving for, is Union at any cost; because in union there is strength. But thus saith the Lord of hosts by the mouth of the Prophet Isaiah (Isa. 8:9,10), "Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye [heathen] of far countries; gird yourselves and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together and it shall come to naught; speak the word and it shall not stand."
"SHE SHALL NOT BE MOVED."
But, while assuring us that the nominal church will be utterly broken to pieces in this her judgment day, after, by her own strife of tongues, she has confessed her own blindness to truth and reason, her own nakedness, so far as the robe of Christ's righteousness, and her own unfaithfulness to her espoused Lord, God assures us it shall not be so with his true Church. Hidden for centuries in the great mass of tares of the nominal systems, the true Church as represented by its living members will now be manifested; although the world which knew not her Lord and Head will not recognize her worth or beauty. But the Lord knoweth them that are his, and will be gathering his elect ones out of the various divisions of Babylon, and will bless and feed them, while Babylon is falling. Hence now the cry, "Come out of her [Babylon] my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." (Rev. 18:4.) The peaceful keeping of his true Zion, by the Lord, throughout this stormy day, of judgments upon civil, religious, social and financial systems, is shown in prophetic symbology in Psalm 46.
REST IN THE LORD.Just to let thy Father do
What he will;
Just to know that he is true,
And be still.
Just to follow, hour by hour,
As he leadeth;
Just to draw the moment's power
As it needeth.
Just to trust him: this is all!
Then the day will surely be
Peaceful, whatsoe'er befall,
Bright and blessed, calm and free.
Just to recognize its light,
Just to claim its present might,
Just to know it as thine own,
That no power can take away:
Is not this enough alone
For the gladness of the day?
Just to let him take the care
Finding all we let him bear
Changed to blessing.
This is all! and yet the way
Marked by him who loves the best:
Secret of a happy day,
Secret of his promised rest. --Selected.
MAN AND WOMAN IN GOD'S ORDER.
[We devote considerable space in this issue to the consideration of woman's sphere, as viewed from the Bible standpoint; especially in the light of the Apostle Paul's teachings. A very general misunderstanding of the Apostle's words has fostered a spirit of doubt as to his divine inspiration, and thus proved a steppingstone to Infidelity. Such doubts having once gotten control of the mind are apt to lead to the very extreme of so-called Woman's Rights --forcing some to an extreme on that side of the question as others have gone to an extreme on the opposite side: making women mere slaves, drudges or entertainers for men--erroneously supposing that the apostles so taught. These articles may therefore be considered as supplemental to our defense of the apostolic authority and inerrancy, presented in our issue of May 1st, and are called forth in response to many inquiries.]
WHILE we recognize the fact that, as spiritual new creatures in Christ Jesus, we are not esteemed of God on account of pedigree, station or sex; that, in his estimation of worthiness for the heirship of the coming Kingdom, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28), and are "all called in one hope of our calling" (Eph. 4:4), it is nevertheless true that we are still in the flesh and that we have to do with earthly conditions; and, further, that upon our proper attitude in the various relationships of life, and our faithful observance of the teachings of the Scriptures with reference to them, our worthiness or unworthiness of divine favor is judged. While every question of moral rights and obligations is pushed to the front in this "day of preparation" (Nahum 2:3), this subject is coming forward for consideration and ventilation, as many Infidels and even Christians are claiming that the Bible teaches domestic slavery.
It will therefore be our endeavor to present as briefly as possible what we believe to be the Scriptural view of this subject, assured that, whatever may be the human prejudices of various individuals, God's Word is the only safe guide to the truth. His Word is by no means silent with reference to it; and an examination of all its testimony on the subject will, we believe, entirely silence in the estimation of all fair minded Christians the above mentioned charge against the Bible.
The first testimony of the Bible on this subject, aside from the statement that the man was made first and the woman subsequently as his capable helper and suitable companion, is found in God's statement to the woman after the eating of the forbidden fruit--"Thy desire shall be unto thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." While authority to rule is naturally implied in the headship of the man (1 Cor. 11; 1 Tim. 2:13), yet, it is not difficult to see that the Lord referred to something more than this; for its mention is in connection with the penalty put upon woman, because of her share in the original sin. The implication is that her husband's rule would be tyrannical, and that she would suffer injustice under it, which she would not have suffered otherwise. And such has been the case: the rule or headship of the husband, which in perfection would have been a rule for the protection and in the interest of all the members of his family--a rule of love, a guidance rather--has in a majority of cases become, through the fall, a rule of selfishness, and fear, and general imposition. Indeed some men will use this very Scripture as a justification of their course of selfish tyranny.
But while facts fully corroborate the Lord's testimony on this subject, it is a great mistake to suppose that God's will is done by those who thus misuse their natural headship. On the contrary, we should see in the expression God's prophecy of the evil that would come upon womankind by reason of the fall of man from his original likeness of God. And, be it noted, the more degraded the man the more unfeeling will be his treatment of the one whom he should love and cherish as his own body.
Man's sphere in the world is pretty clearly defined as the head or chief of the creation, while the woman's sphere as a help, meet for him, is a much more debatable one. The question is, "To what extent may she help him?" While we believe that, according to the Bible teaching, she may help him to the extent of her ability and opportunity--in the home, the church and the world--we hear [R1549 : page 201] many dissenting voices in favor of very considerably circumscribing her influence, if not in the home, at least in the church and in the world. Let us hear, therefore, first, What saith the Scripture concerning--
WOMAN'S PLACE IN THE CHURCH.
Peter, addressing the whole Church, without respect to sex, says, "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,... that ye [all--male and female] should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Pet. 2:9.) And again we read (Isa. 61:1), "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach," etc. See also Luke 4:18-20, where our Lord quotes and applies only a part of this prophecy to himself, leaving another portion of the commission which was not due in his day for the body of Christ--male and female--to declare. The word "because" shows that the anointing is for the very purpose of fitting those so anointed --whether male or female--to preach the good tidings. Therefore all of the anointed, male or female, Jew or Greek, bond or free, are anointed to preach.
In Heb. 5:12 Paul upbraids the Church, making no distinction of sex, for inability to teach on account of neglect of opportunities to fit themselves for the work, saying, "For when for the time [spent] ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk and not of strong meat." Again we read (1 Pet. 4:10), "As each one [male or female] has received a free gift, so minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." "Moreover," says Paul (1 Cor. 4:2), "it is required in stewards that they be found faithful." There is no distinction of sex here: each one, male or female, who possesses a talent or gift, becomes a steward of the same; and in the reckoning day the Lord will require each steward to give an account of his stewardship. Faithfulness is required of all in the use of all talents possessed.--Matt. 25:14-30.
In harmony with the teaching of these scriptures, that women, as well as men, are accountable to God for the use of their talents in the Church, be they many or few, and also with the teaching of Paul, that the activity of every member of the body of Christ is necessary to the general health of the whole body, we have numerous precedents established in the Scriptures. Thus (1) the women who were the first at the sepulcher on the morning of the resurrection were sent by the Lord to bear the first message of his resurrection to the apostles. (2) The woman of Samaria with whom the Lord conversed, and to whom he was pleased to reveal himself as the Messiah, was not forbidden to go into the city and declare the news to many--which she did at once, leaving her water-pots and going in haste. And the result was that many believed through her testimony, however she may have declared it.-- John 4:28-30,39.
We find, too, that women, as well as men, shared the gift of prophecy, which the Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 14:3,4) defines to be "speaking to edification, exhortation and comfort"--i.e., teaching or exhorting according to the measure of the gift of God. (See also 1 Cor. 12:31.) And in 1 Cor. 11, Paul admits the propriety of women publicly praying and prophesying, provided they do so with becoming modesty, of which the covering of the head was in those times a special mark, particularly among the Greeks, here addressed. To ignore such a custom, as some seemed inclined to do when they began to realize the liberty of the gospel, would have brought reproach upon the cause of Christ, and also upon "the angels," messengers or ministers of the Christian faith --the apostles and others.
We have some examples of prophesying, by women,--for instance, Anna (Luke 2:36-38); Philip's four daughters (Acts 21:8,9); Miriam (Micah 6:1-4); Huldah (2 Chron. 34:21-28) and Deborah (Judges 4:4-24). And, further, we have the remarkable prophecy of Joel 2:28,29, of which Peter claimed there was at least a partial fulfilment on the day of Pentecost, when the holy Spirit descended in power upon all present. (Acts 2:17,18.) Paul also mentions with evident appreciation the activity [R1549 : page 202] of certain females in the early Church-- notably Priscilla, Tryphena, Tryphosa, the mother of Rufus and Julia, the sister of Nereus. (Rom. 16; also Phil. 4:3.) And in every instance, except 1 Cor. 16:19, where Priscilla and her husband Aquila are mentioned, Priscilla is mentioned first, as if she were the more prominent and active of the two. (See Rom. 16:3; 2 Tim. 4:19; Acts 18:18,26 R.V.) She and her husband also accompanied Paul on one of his journeys from Corinth to Ephesus, where they met Apollos and were both diligent in instructing him more perfectly in the truth. (Acts 18:18-26.) Although the Scriptures are not addressed to the world, they utter no voice and establish no precedent contrary to female activity in the various legitimate pursuits of life for which nature and education have fitted her. And though in times past female education was at a very low ebb, and women were seldom fitted for other than domestic pursuits, we have a worthy example of one efficient female Judge in Israel--Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth (Judges 4:4-24; 5:1-31) who was also a prophetess and evidently a woman of great ability and influence. Huldah, the wife of Shallum (2 Kings 22:14-20), was also a prophetess to whom the king of Israel sent.
From all these indications we gather that God, who is no respecter of persons, requires faithfulness on the part of female as well as male stewards in the use of all their talents, with no other restrictions than that they do so with that modesty which is specially becoming to their sex; and that, if God gives to any female member of the body of Christ a talent or special ability for teaching or prophesying, as she has done in the past, it is her privilege, and not only so, but her duty, to earnestly cultivate and use that talent as a wise and faithful stewardess. This the Apostle Paul also clearly teaches in 1 Cor. 12:28-31, when, after naming teaching as one of the best gifts, he urges all, without distinction of sex, to "covet earnestly the best gifts."
WOMAN'S RELATIONSHIP TO MAN.
Let us next note what some consider a direct contradiction of the foregoing Scriptural findings in the words of the Apostle Paul (1 Tim. 2:12) --"I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" [hesuchia, quietness]. But the Apostle proceeds to give his reason for the restriction; and in doing so he refers us back to the original relationship of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, saying, "For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, being deceived, became a transgressor." Turning to Genesis (2:16-18) we see that, before Eve was created, "God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
It is plain, then, that the Lord did not communicate directly with Eve, but with Adam, and that Eve received this warning from God through Adam. Thus Adam, under God, was the teacher, and Eve the learner. And it was right and proper, in this instance at least, that the woman should "learn in silence with all subjection," as the Apostle counsels in 1 Tim. 2:11. What right had she to object? God had taught her husband, and in giving her to him had imposed upon him the duties of a husband (a care-taker and provider for her), and in fulfilling this obligation Adam had communicated to Eve this knowledge which was necessary to her preservation and her harmony with God. Thus God taught the headship of man, which the Apostle would have the Corinthian Church distinctly understand.-- 1 Cor. 11:3.
In addressing himself to Eve the Adversary tempted her to disregard the warning of God through her husband. This she did, and that without even consulting Adam as to the propriety of heeding this new and strange instructor, who was evidently out of harmony with God. In acting thus, independent both of God and of the natural protector which God had provided, the woman became a transgressor; and since she thus ignored God, she was left to her own judgment entirely, and was deceived; not, however, as to the unrighteousness of her course, but as to the result of that [R1549 : page 203] course, which she presumed would lead to greater blessing (knowledge), instead of to death. And not only did she thus ignore Adam and the instruction of God through Adam, and act entirely upon her own judgment, but she further assumed to lead or teach Adam her new doctrine, thus reversing the divine order of headship. And in following this reversed order of headship, Adam, though not deceived, also became a transgressor.
It is for this reason, says the Apostle, that I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man. But how to harmonize this restriction with the seemingly contrary scriptures already referred to still remains a difficult question to many; one, however, to which there surely must be some solution. First, we would inquire, Does this order of headship inhere in mankind as a class, distinct from woman-kind? or does it apply merely in the relationship of husband and wife? That the former is true, is, we think, quite evident from 1 Cor. 11:3, which reads, "I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."
What, then, we would inquire, is implied in this office of headship? The figure, we see, is drawn from that important member of the human body, the head, which is the chief member--the member in which inheres the right of leadership and authority. And this interpretation is borne out by the perfect illustration of headship in [R1550 : page 203] the relationship of Jehovah to Christ. In the one inheres the legislative, in the other a delegated executive power. In accordance with the illustration, therefore, the relationship of man to Christ and of woman to man should be that of subserviency; and if men and women were perfect the beautiful harmony of such a relationship would yield perfect satisfaction to both. Man would be in harmony with Christ, woman in harmony with man, and all in harmony with Jehovah. Thus the divine order of headship would unify all in the bonds of mutual love and peace.
But the question arises, How is this idea of headship compatible with the idea of individual liberty--the glorious liberty of the sons of God? Is the illustration of head and body to be pressed to its utmost limit here? The human body in health never performs an act except by the authority and consent of the head; and the mystical body of Christ (the Church), in health always delights to know and to do the will of Christ; and Christ has ever sought to know and do the Father's will. And so likewise if the human family were unimpaired by sin woman would enjoy her station and man would not misuse his strength, mental or physical, tyrannically. Looking again at the perfect illustration of this relationship between Jehovah and Christ, we see that the order of headship, rightly exercised, is entirely compatible with the glorious liberty of sons of God. For although Jehovah is the head of Christ we see him delighting to honor his Son, making him in turn the head of all principality and power (Col. 2:10; 1:16; Eph. 1:10--Diaglott), and calling upon all men to "honor the Son, even as they honor the Father" [for he is the Father's representative and the express image of his person]. We see him also committing all judgment unto the Son. He first proved him and found him worthy of confidence; and then, having made known his plans to him, he committed to him their execution. And so we read, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22), and, again, that "all power in heaven and in earth" is given unto him.-- Matt. 28:18.
Surely there is no semblance of bondage in this relationship of Christ to Jehovah; but under Jehovah's supreme headship there is the fullest liberty and the widest scope for the development and use of all Christ's noble powers. And Christ, on his part, as subject to Jehovah, his head, is in all his works subject to those principles of action and that plan of work which the wisdom and goodness of Jehovah have decreed. Within these metes and bounds of Jehovah's headship, then, is the glorious liberty of the only begotten Son of God. Thus should man also be subject to his head, which is Christ, whose supervision, like that of Jehovah, is also sufficiently generous to admit of the widest range and development of all his [R1550 : page 204] manly powers. And thus, also, should the headship of man be exercised toward woman-- not to degrade and dwarf her powers under the bondage of tyranny, but to elevate and ennoble her; granting to her, under his leadership and encouragement, the fullest liberty for the legitimate use of all her powers.
But to return to Paul's statement, "I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over a man," we see that, in harmony with the reason given for the restriction, and also with the fact that they did teach on numerous occasions mentioned in the Scriptures, we must interpret the former clause of this statement in the light of the latter, viz., that the woman is not to usurp the natural position of the man as leader and teacher, and, disregarding his headship, to take that attitude herself--an attitude contrary to nature, incompatible with womanly grace, and unlovely in the eyes of all right-thinking people. With this interpretation of the Apostle's language here, his teaching elsewhere, for instance in 1 Cor. 11:5, is in entire harmony.
The idea is not to debar woman from her privilege and duty of making good use of all her talents as a wise stewardess, and as one who must give an account of her stewardship, nor to prohibit her from teaching the truth to others, but rather to point out to her the excellent and most effective ways for the use of her influence in life. Nature would, doubtless, generally indicate to both men and women their proper spheres for usefulness; but alas! none can be found in a natural condition:-- all are fallen, mentally, physically and morally; and some more than others and in different ways. No womanly woman takes as her ideal a noisy declaimer, an assertive debater, an obtrusive public speaker, nor an ambitious leader. And yet, on fitting occasions, where the interests of the truth require it, she may, in a womanly way and without the least assuming the manly prerogatives of headship, declare the good tidings of great joy to as many as will hear her, whether male or female; and on some occasions the interests of the truth may necessitate her debating a question, which can often be just as effectively done in a suggestive, as in an assertive, way; and generally much more so, as some men, as well as women, have learned. Those who understand human nature best, know that frequently more can be done in the way of disarming prejudice and establishing the truth by the latter, than by the former method.
A woman may thus, in the full exercise of her liberty as a child of God, bring forth all her strong reasons before as many as desire to hear, and may clearly state her own convictions of the truth, but always with that moderation and candor which, acknowledging the natural headship of man, would avoid even the appearance of dictation or usurping of authority; and if there be a man present who can and will relieve her of the responsibility of so prominent a position, her natural modesty should decline the undertaking. The "silence" or quietness enjoined by the Apostle in the above text, is not to be understood in an absolute sense, but rather in that relative sense which would harmonize with his admission of woman's right to pray, or prophesy, or explain the truth, as they evidently did in the apostles' days, when they had ability and opportunity. In 1 Thes. 4:10,11 the Apostle similarly exhorts the brethren to quietness saying, "We beseech you, brethren,...that ye study to be quiet and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands as we commanded you." The same word is also used in 1 Tim. 2:2.
The expression of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 14:34,35, we need to remember, was addressed to a class of Greek converts to Christianity whose habits were altogether different from the civilization of to-day, as well as from those of the Hebrew and Roman civilizations of that day. While Greece was the center of learning in its day, the women of Greece were very degraded and ignorant, so that it was necessary to speak to some of them with a degree of force which the Apostle never used in speaking to either Hebrew or Roman Christian women. From this epistle, we see that the Church at Corinth was in a very disorderly condition, and that their assemblies were often confused and unprofitable. The Apostle, in this chapter, is laying down some very necessary rules and [R1550 : page 205] regulations, so that all things might be done "decently and in order" (verse 40); and the disorderly women as well as men (verses 28,30,33; chap. 11:17-22,31-34; 6:5-11; 5:1-13; 3:1-3) came in for their share of the needed reproof. It was a shame for those women to speak in the Church, first, because any publicity of their women was so regarded there and then; and, secondly, because they were unfitted to do so intelligently, and so it was better that they should listen in silence at the meetings of the Church, and inquire further of their husbands [literally, men] at home. To force the application of this instruction upon the whole Church during the entire age, would do violence to the general tenor of Scripture teaching with reference to woman's sphere of action and responsibility of service as man's worthy and suitable help-mate, which the Lord pronounced her to be. As well might we bind upon the entire Church the obligations of literally washing one another's feet and greeting one another with a holy kiss, which are repeatedly enjoined (See Rom. 16:15,16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 1 Thes. 5:26; 1 Pet. 5:14), but which we instinctively recognize in spirit, but not in letter; the courtesies and civilities of our times being somewhat different from the customs of that day, although equally hospitable.
In order that all may see clearly the conditions which necessitated the Apostle's seemingly harsh language to the women of the Corinthian Church, we make a few brief quotations from noted authors, showing the state of society in Corinth, Ephesus and the principal cities of the Greek civilization of that time.
In the Contemporary Review, Vol. 34, March 1879, page 700, in an article on "The Position and Influence of Women in Ancient Athens," Prof. Donaldson of St. Andrews University, Scotland, says:--
"In Athens we find two classes of women who were not slaves. There was one class who could scarcely move one step from their own rooms, and who were watched and restricted in every possible way. There was another class on whom no restrictions whatever were laid, who could move about and do whatever seemed good in their own eyes. The citizen women [the wives] had apartments assigned to them, generally in the upper story. They were forbidden to be present at any banquet. The men preferred to dine with themselves rather than expose their wives to their neighbor's gaze. Seemingly the education of girls was confined to the merest elements. It is scarcely possible to conceive that such a marvelous crop of remarkable men, renounced in literature and art, could have arisen if all the Athenian mothers were ordinary housewives. [But they were not: multitudes of the mothers were not wives, but were of the educated though dissolute class, above mentioned, who were granted every [R1551 : page 205] liberty.] But though there never was in the history of the world such a numerous race of great thinkers, poets, sculptors, painters and architects in one city at one time, as in Athens, not one virtuous Athenian woman ever attained the slightest distinction in any one department of literature, art or science.
"We pass from the citizen women [the wives] of Athens to the other class of free women-- the strangers or courtesans. These stranger women could not marry. They might do any thing else they liked. The citizen women were confined to the house and did not dine with the men; but the men refused to limit their associations with women to the house. Accordingly they selected these stranger women as their companions; and 'Hetairai,' or companions, was the name by which the whole class was designated. The citizen women had to be mothers and wives, nothing more. The stranger women had to discharge the duties of companions, but to remain outside the pale of the marriageable class. They were the only educated women in Athens. Almost every one of the great men in Athens had such a companion, and these women seemed to have sympathized with them in their high imaginations and profound meditations.
"But the Athenian women, even the citizens, had no political standing. They were always minors. Such, however, was the force of character of these 'Hetairai,' or such their hold on powerful men, that not infrequently their sons were recognized (by special decree) as citizens. The names of virtuous wives are not to be found in history; but the influence of the 'Hetairai' comes more and more into play. They cultivated all the graces of life; they dressed with exquisite taste; they were witty. But it must not be forgotten that hundreds and thousands of these unprotected women were employed as the tools of the basest passions, seeking only, under the form of affection, to ruin men and send them in misery to an early grave."
Every statement here quoted from Prof. Donaldson is amply supported by citations from [R1551 : page 206] Greek authors in the writings of Prof. Becker, of Germany, who is quoted by all recent writers as unquestioned authority upon ancient Greek and Roman life. In his "Charicles," page 463, he says:--
"At this time, and in the very focus of civilization, the women were regarded as a lower order of beings; naturally prone to evil, and fitted only for propagating the species and gratifying the sensual appetites of man. There were no educational institutions for girls, nor any private teachers at home. They were excluded from intercourse, not only with strangers, but also with their own nearest relations, and they saw but little even of their fathers and husbands. The maidens, especially, lived in the greatest seclusion until their marriage, and, so to speak, regularly under lock and key." Page 287--"At Athens it was a thing unheard of for any free woman to make purchases in the market."
In a work on "Old Greek Education," by Prof. J. P. Mahaffy, of Trinity College, Dublin --page 11--he mentions the frequency with which children were exposed or left to die of starvation and neglect, and says:--
"We cannot really doubt that the exposing of new-born infants was not only sanctioned by the public feeling, but actually practiced throughout Greece. Plato practiced infanticide under certain circumstances in his ideal state. Nowhere does the agony of the mother's heart reach us through their literature, save where Socrates compares the anger of his pupils when first confuted out of their opinions, to the fury of a young mother deprived of her first infant. There is something horrible in the allusion, as if, in after life, Attic mothers became hardened to this kind of treatment. The exposing of female infants was not uncommon."
The bearing of this general condition of woman under the Greek civilization upon the language of the Apostle Paul to some of them, is still more clearly seen when we consider that Corinth was one of the worst of the Grecian cities. Prof. Becker says:--
"Corinth seems to have surpassed all other cities in the number of its Hetairai, to whom the wealth and splendor of the place, as well as the crowd of wealthy merchants, held out the prospects of a rich harvest."
From these observations it is clear that when Corinthian men became Christians, and, disregarding the prevailing public sentiment, brought their wives with them to meetings of the Church, the women were very ignorant and lacking in essential decorum and were inclined to disturb the meetings by asking unprofitable questions, which the Apostle instructed them to inquire of at home of their husbands, who could give them the simple instruction which they needed; for it was an improper thing for those women to speak in the Church and to disturb its proper, orderly worship, etc. We must remember, too, that Christianity then, as now, did not generally make its converts among the great men and philosophers, but among the poorer classes--the common people.
This condition of the Corinthian women also makes very clear the necessity of the Apostle's instructions in 1 Cor. 11, about the covering of the head, which among that people specially was an indication of modesty. To have suddenly disregarded the custom, when they began to see the liberty of the gospel, would have been misunderstood, and would probably have cultivated in them, in their ignorance, a disposition to ignore the headship of man, and to become self-conscious and self-assertive.
When we note the very different conditions of the Roman and Hebrew women, we can account for the absence of any such instruction in the epistles to the Roman and Hebrew Christians.
Dr. Smith, in his Greek and Roman Antiquities, says:--
And Prof. Becker says:--
"The Roman housewife always appears as the mistress of the whole household economy, instructress of the children, guardian of the honor of the house, and equally esteemed with her husband, both in and out of the house. The women frequented public theaters, as well as the men, and took their places with them at public banquets."
The freedom of women in Hebrew society is so manifest from the Scriptures as to need no further proof. They freely conversed with the Lord and the apostles, and other male disciples, [R1551 : page 207] attended the meetings of the Church and Synagogues, and went about with entire freedom. Consequently, when Christianity took hold of them, it found them ready for Christian work without being hampered by the restraints of hereditary custom, which among other peoples must be measurably adhered to until a gradual reconstruction of public sentiment could be brought about, lest otherwise reproach be brought upon the cause of Christ.
WOMAN A HELP, MEET FOR MAN.
"And Jehovah said, It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make him a help suitable for him.... And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a help suitable for him....And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman [ishah], because she was taken out of man [ish]."--Gen. 2:18,20,22,23.
In pursuing our study of woman's appointed place in the divine economy of creation, we turn to the above brief account of her first introduction to the earth and to man; for the Apostle says, "the woman was created for the man." (1 Cor. 11:9.) As the account indicates, the object of woman's creation was that she might be a suitable help for man. That man needed just such a help is indicated, not only by the Lord's statement that it was "not good" for him to be "alone," but also by the statement that among all the animals there was none found to be "a suitable help." True, they were all in perfect subjection to him as their lord and master, and perfectly obedient in rendering all the service required. Many of them were strong to bear his burdens, some fleet to run his errands; some gratified his love of the beautiful in form and proportions, and some in plumage; some charmed his ear with strains of music; and all manifested more or less of intelligence and affection; yet in all there was a lack. The perfect man did not crave a burden-bearer, nor an errand-runner, nor a gay butterfly to please the sight, nor a charming musician: what he craved was an intelligent sympathetic companion; and this lack, the "suitable help," which God subsequently provided, exactly supplied.
When God had created her and brought her to the man, Adam named her woman. That the word was not used to specially indicate the power of motherhood, is manifest from the fact that when God said that she should become a mother, Adam changed her name to Eve, because she was to be the mother of all living. (Gen. 3:20.) We also read (Gen. 5:2) that [R1552 : page 207] "God called their name Adam in the day when they were created." Thus both God and the man recognized this new creature as of the same nature as the man, and yet differing from him both physically and intellectually. She was not another man, but another human being, the counterpart of the man, and therefore a suitable helper for him.
She was a help in that she was a companion for him. Before she came, Adam, though surrounded by a host of the lower animals, was "alone," and in need of the help of companionship which they could not supply. That the help needed was not merely in the work of propagating the species is clear, from the fact that she was recognized and accepted as the suitable and desired help from the very beginning, and before the propagating of the race was mentioned--which did not begin until after the fall. This was a merciful providence, in order that, as Paul shows, every member of the race might share the blessings of redemption through Christ.--Rom. 5:12; 11:32,33.
We thus see that man found in the woman an intellectual companion, one capable of sharing and appreciating all his joys (he had no sorrows) and of participating with him in all his interests. Had she come short of such capacity she would not have been a suitable companion or help, and Adam would still have been to some extent alone. As the sons and daughters of men have multiplied, the same characteristics as in the beginning continue to distinguish the two sexes, with the exception that both have suffered from the fall; hence the two sexes still stand similarly related to each other--man the "head" of the earthly creation, and woman a "suitable help" for him. And this, as the Apostle shows (1 Cor. 11:3), is regardless of the marriage relation. Man, in the image and glory of God, was created the [R1552 : page 208] sovereign of the earth; and woman, "the glory of man" in all the natural relationships of life, but especially that of wifehood, is his worthy companion and joint heir, his queen. And in this sense, God gave to them both, originally, the earthly dominion--over the fish, fowl, beasts of the field, etc.--Gen. 1:27,28; Psa. 8:6-8.
It is therefore fitting that this natural relationship of the sexes should always be observed; that woman should remember that she is not the head, the chief, the leader, in the world's affairs, though there is ample scope for the use of all her powers under a proper and generous exercise of the headship of man. And it is equally necessary and proper that man should fully recognize, appreciate and accept of the help which woman is capable of rendering in all the affairs of life where such capability is manifest. If God has given to her talents, they were given her for cultivation and use, in order that she might be a more efficient help for man; and it would not be right, nor can man afford, to refuse such help and seek to dwarf such talents. Let the "help" help as much as possible, even though in the present imperfect condition, as is sometimes the case, the help may outstrip the head in ability, either natural or acquired. So long as the woman's work is done in a modest, womanly way--with no disposition to lord it over the divinely appointed head or king of earth--let her do with her might what her hands find to do.
As a general thing, however, woman's special helpfulness is in the sphere to which her special work of necessity usually confines her--as wife, mother, sister, friend--in the home, the schoolroom, and in the duties which naturally fall to her in religious and in social life, and occasionally in business life. Let woman bring into all these relationships her highest moral and intellectual attainments, the finest touches of art, and the most noble physique which nature and cultivation can give, and she will the most truly answer the ends of her existence as a worthy and suitable help to earth's intended king--man. True, man and woman have lost the dominion of the earth originally bestowed upon them as king and joint-heir; but still, though under the burden of the curse, woman can be a help, meet for man, in the struggle upward toward perfection; and no true man will despise such helpfulness when tendered in a spirit of sisterly interest.
WOMAN AS A WIFE.
Having seen that the natural attitude of women in general to men in general is that of suitable helps, and not of heads, let us now consider the Scriptural position respecting woman as a wife. In alas too many cases, this, the dearest relationship of earth, is degraded to a domestic slavery. And the slave-holding tyrants too often pervert or misinterpret the teachings of the apostles to the support of their course--some unwittingly. It is therefore our purpose to examine such scriptures as are frequently urged in the interest of domestic tyranny and in the dwarfing and degrading of woman in her noblest sphere on the natural plane,--as a true wife.
We are free to assert in the outstart that the Scriptures, rightly interpreted, teach no such thing; and one of the best evidences that they do not, is seen in the fact that the Lord has chosen this relationship as a type of the relationship between himself and the glorified Church--a consummation so glorious, that it is held out as a prize to the faithful children of God all through the Gospel age; a prize worthy of the sacrifice of every temporal interest, even unto death. The type of such a relationship ought, indeed, in some sense, to manifest that coming glory.
We have already seen that in the relationship of head and body, to which the Apostle compares husband and wife, and which is gloriously illustrated in the relationship of Jehovah to Christ Jesus, and between our Lord Jesus and the Church, there is nothing incompatible with "the glorious liberty of the sons of God," and hence that the other headship of man over woman, rightly exercised, is likewise compatible with a similarly glorious liberty.
We have also seen that the headship of man is not designed to debar woman from the privilege and duty of making the fullest use of her talents as a wise stewardess in the service of the [R1552 : page 209] Lord; but rather to increase her usefulness by putting her powers and energies in co-operation with a still stronger power.
As an illustration of the apostolic teaching presumed to imply a servile subjection of the wife to the husband, we are sometimes referred to Eph. 5:22-24--"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord; for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church; he is the preserver of the body. Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be subject to their own husbands in every thing."
If the office of the head inheres in men in general, and should be observed by women in general, the argument gathers force in the special relationship of husband and wife; for the reverence which woman naturally feels for the opposite sex, ought indeed to be intensified in the case of the man she has accepted as her husband. The manner in which the wife is counselled to submit herself to her husband is clearly set forth by the Apostle to be--"as the Church is subject unto Christ." It behooves us, therefore, to note just how the Church is subject unto Christ. We see that the subjection of the Church to Christ is a willing subjection, and that it is inspired by love, veneration, gratitude and implicit confidence and trust in the Lord's love and care for us, and in his superior wisdom to do better for us than we could do for ourselves. And so perfectly did the Apostle himself take this attitude toward Christ, that it was his effort, he said, to bring every thought into subjection to him. (2 Cor. 10:5.) That such an attitude on the part of the wife toward her earthly head is not always possible, he also admits, when he says to the husbands (Eph. 5:33), "Let each one of you, individually, so love his own wife as himself, in order that [hina, so rendered in Eph. 3:10, Diaglott] the wife may reverence her husband."
Only true love and true nobility of character can command such reverence; otherwise it would be impossible for the wife to submit herself to her husband as the Church is subject unto Christ. Nor would it be right either to reverence or to submit to that which is ignoble and unholy. But both the reverence and the submission are possible, as well as natural, notwithstanding the fallibility of the earthly head, where there is that nobility of character on the part of the man which, humbly acknowledging its fallibility, is amenable to the voice of God in the Scriptures, and to reason.
It will be noticed, further, in the apostolic counsel to husbands (verses 25-29), that the stated object of Christ's supervision of the Church, and of her submission to him, is not the clipping of her spiritual or intellectual opinions, nor the dwarfing or degrading of her powers, nor to attain any ignoble or selfish ends; but, on the contrary, it is for the more complete sanctification and cleansing of the Church with the washing of water by the Word, that she might be holy and without blemish, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. And this disposition on the part of Christ toward the Church is made manifest to her by the self-sacrificing spirit of him who loved the Church and gave himself for it. And, says the Apostle, "So ought men to love their wives, as their own bodies," that thus they may command the reverence and loving submission of the wife, "in every thing"--not, of course, in every thing unholy, impure and selfish, but in every thing tending to holiness and purity and that true nobility of character whose principles are set forth in the Word of God. We have a very marked example of the Lord's displeasure against the improper submission of a wife to a husband, in the case of Sapphira, the wife of Ananias.--Acts 5:7-10.
It would indeed be a blessed and happy condition of affairs if all the husbands and all the wives were students of the example of Christ [R1553 : page 209] and the Church; but the lamentable fact remains that but few apply their hearts unto the instruction here furnished; and many husbands, forgetting to observe Paul's instructions to follow the model, imagine they have a right to arbitrary and selfish authority, against which the wives feel a righteous indignation and an opposition which is far from submission; and, failing to understand the Scriptures on the subject, they claim and think that the Bible teaches domestic tyranny and slavery; and thus the way is paved to doubt and infidelity. [R1553 : page 210]
But what shall I do? says the Christian wife whose husband is not guided by Christian principles, except to the extent of claiming his presumed right to rule in selfishness. Well that would depend on circumstances: it would have been better if in your youth you had remembered the Apostle's counsel to marry only in the Lord; and you must now pay some penalty for your error. But in the first place you should remember not to violate conscience in order to please any one; for Peter says, "We ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29; 4:19,20.) But where conscience does not interpose its dictum, the Apostle gives to such wives the same counsel that he gives to servants who have unreasonable masters. (1 Pet. 2:18-23; 3:1,2.) To the servants he says, "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear [i.e., with caution, lest you offend]; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward;" this because it is better to suffer wrongfully than to be contentious, even for our rights. "For this is well-pleasing, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully; for what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults ye shall take it patiently? But if when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God." Then he points to the example of Christ in carrying out the same principle, saying (verse 21), "For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also died for you, leaving you an example that ye should follow his steps;" and "the servant is not above his Lord." (Matt. 10:24.) Then he adds, "Likewise, ye wives [ye who have froward husbands], be in subjection to your own husbands, that if any obey not the Word, they may without the Word be won by the conduct of the wives, while they behold your chaste conduct coupled with fear [with carefulness to avoid giving offence]"--thus manifesting a spirit of loving forbearance, rather than of contention.
And while the wife is here specially counselled to imitate Christ's humility, the husband is urged to imitate Christ's generosity--"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them [your wives] according to knowledge [wisely and generously], giving honor unto the wife [taking pleasure in her progress and in all her noble attainments and achievements], as unto the weaker vessel [using your strength for her support and encouragement, and not for her oppression], and as being heirs together of the grace [the favors and blessings] of life."
The same spirit of submission, rather than of contention, is likewise enjoined upon the whole Church in its relationship to the civil ordinances of men. Thus Peter says, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake"--i.e., so that his spirit or disposition may be manifest in you--"For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men." (1 Pet. 2:13-17.) And Paul says, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers," etc. (Rom. 13:1,5); and to Titus (3:1) he writes: "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work."
This duty of submission (specially enjoined upon the wife in the domestic relation) is also enjoined upon the whole Church individually, in their relationship one to another. Thus the Apostle Peter says, "The elders which are among you I exhort:...Feed the flock of God. ...Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock [ensamples of humility, brotherly love, patience and faithfulness]. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time."--1 Pet. 5:1-6; Eph. 5:21.
Doubtless if there were one perfect man in the Church the counsel to the remainder of its membership would be to submit to his leading and instruction. But, instead of an infallible man in the Church, we have the infallible written Word, by which we are each and all counselled to prove all things. And, therefore, the first duty of submission is to the written Word, and afterward to each other in that secondary sense which first proves all things by the Word; and lastly in the sense that our [R1553 : page 211] manner and language should be tempered with moderation and brotherly and sisterly kindness and candor, that this spirit of submission or humility might always be manifest in all.
In a similar, but in a stronger sense, the Apostle presents the duty of submission on the part of the wife in the domestic relation. It is a submission which savors of love, reverence, trust and humility; and which is also compatible with "the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21), which always exists wherever the spirit of the Lord is (2 Cor. 3:17), and in which the Apostle Paul urges us to "stand fast."--Gal. 5:1.
We are referred by Peter to Sarah, Abraham's wife, as a proper example of a wife's submission. But notice that, while she did reverence Abraham, as indicated by her calling him lord (Gen. 18:12), and while she, no doubt cheerfully, left her native land and friends and, in obedience to the command of God to her husband, accompanied him in his sojournings to the land of promise, with him walking by faith, we see that her submission was not a blind submission which refrained from expressing a thought which differed from Abraham's; nor was there anything in Abraham's conduct toward her which indicated such expectation on his part. She was evidently a thinking woman: she believed the promise of God that they should have a son through whom the blessing of the world should come; and when nature seemed to fail she suggested a way in which the promise might be fulfilled. And when Hagar became boastful and despised her mistress, she complained to Abraham and claimed that the fault was partly his. She wanted no division of his heart with her servant. Abraham's reply assured her that there was no such division, that her maid was still under her control. And her subsequent course with Hagar was a discipline to correct her boastfulness and improper attitude toward her mistress. And when Hagar fled from her, the angel of the Lord met her and told her to return and submit herself to her mistress, which she did, and was evidently received and restored by Sarah.--Gen. 16.
On another occasion, after Isaac was born and the two boys were growing up together, the rivalry of Hagar again cropped out in Ishmael, who persecuted Isaac, Sarah's son. (Gen. 21:9; Gal. 4:29.) And again Sarah was grieved and appealed to Abraham to cast out the bond woman and her son; for she feared Abraham would make him heir with her son, which would not have been in accordance with the promise of God. (Gen. 21:10-12; 15:4; 17:17-19.) This, Abraham was not inclined to do, and as Sarah urged her claim, we read that "the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son," Ishmael, until God indicated his will in the matter.
This is further shown in this case to which Peter refers us for example, saying (to those who are similarly subject, to their husbands) "whose daughters ye are, doing good, and not fearing any terror"--any evil results. (1 Pet. 3:6.) The submission counselled by the apostles is a reasonable submission, compatible with a moderate, modest expression of the wife's sentiments and a proper consideration of the same by the husband, as in the case of faithful Abraham, who was by no means led about by the whims of a foolish wife, but who, in a reasonable consideration of his wife's sentiments and trials, waited to know the will of the Lord before granting her wishes.
From the above considerations it is obvious that the human relationship of husband and wife, which the Lord points out as an illustration of the beautiful relationship of Himself and the Church, is by no means an occasion for the exhibition of either tyranny or servility on the part of either party. And wherever such conditions do exist, they are out of the divine order. The Lord set his seal of approval upon marriage when he instituted the relationship and blessed the union of the first pair in Eden; and when, as king and queen--head and help-mate-- he made them joint-inheritors of the earthly dominion (Gen. 1:27,28); and later, when he commanded children to honor and obey both parents.--Exod. 20:12; Eph. 6:1,2.
The curse of sin has rested heavily upon woman, as well as upon man; but the Christian man who would seek to bind the curse upon his wife, instead of endeavoring to lighten it and to help her bear it, sadly lacks the spirit of [R1553 : page 212] the heavenly Bridegroom. And so also the Christian wife: if she in selfishness demands of her husband an undue measure of the sweat of face entailed by the curse, instead of seeking to lighten his toil and share his cares, she sadly lacks that spirit which characterizes the true bride of Christ. It was sin that entailed the curse upon our race; but, as we strive against sin and aspire toward righteousness and God-likeness, we mitigate the evils of the curse for each other. And, thank God, the time is now fast approaching when "there shall be no more curse," and when, "the throne of God and of the Lamb" being established in the earth, the spirit of love, [R1554 : page 212] so beautifully exemplified between Christ and the exalted Church, will be gloriously reproduced on the earthly plane also; when, the curse being entirely lifted, woman will find her natural and honored position at the side of her noble husband, as his worthy helper and companion --"the glory of the man," as Paul describes her, and an "heir together with him of the grace of life," as he also appoints her, and as beautifully foreshown in the typical restitution of Job (Job 42:15), when he gave his daughters inheritance among their brethren.
In conclusion, then, the marriage relationship is an honorable and blessed one when viewed in the Scriptural light; yet it is one of the earthly blessings which the Apostle shows the saints are privileged to forego in many cases for the still higher privilege of serving the interests of the coming kingdom of God without distraction. (1 Cor. 7:32-35.) And when the sacrificing Church beholds the King in his beauty, and is recognized by him as his worthy bride and joint-heir, the blessedness of that companionship will have in it no savor of either tyranny or servility, but, instead, a blessed harmony of love and appreciation which will be ineffable bliss.
"BE NOT UNEQUALLY YOKED."
TO the consecrated who are not yoked--who are unmarried--the Apostle Paul gives the advice that, for the full accomplishment of their consecration vow to the Lord, such have a position of very superior advantage. (2 Cor. 6:14; 1 Cor. 7:25-40.) But the advice to remain unmarried, he would have us understand, is not imperative. (1 Cor. 7:35,36.) None are forbidden to marry; and false teachers who have since arisen, forbidding to marry, are condemned as seriously out of order. (1 Tim. 4:1-3.) This prohibition by Papacy upon its priesthood has brought upon it one of the foulest stains that have blackened its baneful history. Marriage is still honorable (Heb. 13:4) when the relationship is sustained in purity and holiness, as God designed; when two are equally yoked, and their hearts beat to the music of a single high and holy purpose; whether that purpose be on the natural plane to increase the race and to bring up posterity in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Gen. 1:28; Eph. 6:4), or, on the spiritual plane, to toil together as true yoke-fellows for the spiritual family of God.
Yet, with very rare exceptions, the consecrated can best fulfil their covenant by walking alone with God, having only his preferences to consult in every matter, and entirely untrammeled by domestic cares. Such was Paul's judgment; and such has been the testimony of thousands, who forgot to remember their Creator in the days of their youth, and to commit their way unto the Lord before they became entangled in multiplied cares and hampered by the outcome of their own misguided course.--Eccl. 12:1; Psa. 37:5; Prov. 3:5,6.
The words of 1 Tim. 5:14 were not respecting the young sisters who were consecrated to the Lord, but in harmony with the context (verses 3-16) were spoken with reference to young widows of the Church in general who should not be made financial burdens to the Church. Any such, not of those consecrated as living sacrificers, but yet believers, of the household of faith, let them marry, etc. Thus seen, this scripture is in harmony with the general teaching of the New Testament.
Of God's consecrated children, whom alone we address, only a small minority are yet in youth, and disentangled from the cares of this life. But to all such we have no other advice to commend than that of the inspired Apostle [R1554 : page 213] cited above. We would only add, Be not unmindful of your privileges; make good use of your stewardship; run with patience the race set before you, looking unto Jesus, our glorious Bridegroom, for all needed grace and fellowship; and be faithful unto death and in due time ye shall reap a glorious reward, if ye faint not. "Forget also thine own people and thy father's house [earthly fellowships]: so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty [of character]; for he is thy Lord, and worship thou him."-- Psa. 45:10,11.
These remarks, however, do not apply to the world, nor are they imperative upon the saints. The recommendation is one of expediency--to facilitate both individual progress and the progress of the general work of the Lord, and is parallel to the Lord's teaching in Matt. 19:12. Let those of the world marry, and fill the honorable positions in the world of faithful, devoted husbands and wives and parents; and let the influence of prosperous and happy homes reach as far as possible toward ameliorating the unhappy conditions of the wretched and homeless. The special advice of the Apostle is only for those consecrated to be living sacrifices, wholly devoted to the Master's use, and awaiting his exceeding great reward.
But to those of the consecrated who already are unequally yoked, and hampered by many cares, and vexed with many perplexing problems, we would say, Take courage! he who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light, and thus directed your steps into the narrow way that leads to glory, honor and immortality, knew how difficult that way would be to you under your present circumstances; and his call implies his willingness to accept you, as well as your ability to make your calling and election sure, through his abounding grace. Nevertheless, as the Apostle forewarned, such shall have trouble in the flesh.--1 Cor. 7:28.
Remembering the Apostle's teaching that the believing husband is not to put away his unbelieving wife, nor the believing wife to leave the unbelieving husband, but rather to seek to establish peace (1 Cor. 7:10-16; also Matt. 19:3-10. --Diaglott), we see with what carefulness the consecrated believer must walk before God and before the unequally yoked life-companion. What humility it will require, and what patient endurance of many trials. But yet, beloved ones, so tried, let patience have her perfect work, and in due time you shall come out of the furnace purified. Study to let the beauty of holiness be manifest; and if it does not convert the companion, it will at least be a testimony against him or her, and the sanctifying effect will not be lost on children and neighbors; and the praise will be to God.
Let such a wife carefully perform the duties of a wife and respect the relationship of a husband, even if she is forced to lose a large measure of respect for her husband; and let such a husband carefully perform the duties of a husband, even if the treadmill of domestic life has become a painful one. It may be, O man, that thou mayst save thy wife; or, wife, that thou mayst save thy husband. "But if the unbelieving depart, let him [or her] depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases."--1 Cor. 7:15.
But one cause is mentioned in the Scriptures as a proper ground for the dissolution of the marriage bond. (Matt. 19:3-10.) And the disciples, hearing these our Master's words, were as much surprised as the Pharisees, and said that if the case stood thus--i.e., if the marriage covenant was so binding and indissoluble, it would be better not to marry--it would be too great a risk to run, (Verse 10.) But this is just the way the Lord would have us view the relationship. The marriage contract is one that should stand until death makes the separation, unless the one cause referred to releases the innocent from the guilty and faithless. The twain bound for life by mutual contract, are thereafter no longer twain, but one flesh; and all their future happiness and prosperity in the present life depend upon their loyalty, generosity, love and consideration one for the other.
The marriage relation, both in its duration and in its character, was designed to be a type of the lasting, faithful and blessed union of Christ and the Church. He will never leave her nor forsake her; and she will never withdraw her allegiance and faithfulness to him. But as Christ permits those who choose, to forsake [R1554 : page 214] him, so if the unbeliever depart from the believer, let him or her depart. The believing one if once deserted by the unbeliever would not be bound to receive the deserter back again to marriage fellowship--although upon evidence of proper reform it might be well to be reconciled --but he or she would be bound not to marry another so long as the first companion lives. (1 Cor. 7:11.) Unfaithfulness to marriage vows would include, on the husband's part, a failure to provide, so far as possible, for his wife's necessities, and would be desertion, even though he should desire to stay with her and have her support him. Of course in a case of the husband's sickness, and inability to provide, the wife's duty according to the marriage covenant would be to spend herself to the last, in his support.
Whatever may be the world's ideas with reference to the privileges and obligations of the marriage relationship (and alas! they are far from purity and righteousness, making it very generally but "an occasion to the flesh"), those who are united in the Lord should remember the Apostle's counsel, "Walk in the spirit [or mind of Christ], and ye shall not fulfil the desires of the flesh; for the desires of the flesh are contrary to the spirit, and the spirit contrary to the flesh."--Gal. 5:16,17.
But all the married saints are not married in the Lord, and hence many are obliged to consider the human aspect of that relationship, and to devote themselves measurably to its earthly objects and aims, viz., the increase of posterity, and their care and training; such obligation being implied in the marriage contract, from which a subsequent consecration to the Lord grants no release. Mutual obligations are accepted [R1555 : page 214] in marriage from which there can be no departure except by mutual consent. The Apostle's advice on this subject is very clear, and in perfect accord with what we have just seen respecting the mutual obligations of the married (1 Cor. 7:1-9); and the due benevolence and continence counseled on the part of both should obviate any necessity for domestic imposition and consequent discord, and should insure harmony on the firm foundation of mutual love and respect. But blessed are those who are able and willing to keep the fleshly desire under full control, and to walk in the spirit. "He that is able [both from his own disposition and from his circumstances] to receive [this teaching], let him receive it."--Matt. 19:12.
As some of the Lord's dear people come thus to view and consider the sacredness of the contract into which so many of them have entered, perhaps they will begin to see how they can glorify God more in their domestic life than they have hitherto thought possible. Indeed, it will be strange if all cannot see wherein they can improve upon the past. Is it not the case sometimes that brethren and sisters whose souls have been refreshed by the truth have zealously borne it to others, and have taken for granted that husband or wife would not be interested?
Some husbands think of their wives as too busy with domestic cares to be interested in the Truth; or too worldly, or too fearful of the reproaches of the world, to have anything to do with it: and so leave them, and bear the truth to others. But is this doing a husband's part? A true husband is a provider, and his care should include provision of spiritual as well as natural food and raiment for his wife and family. Hence on learning the truth his first endeavor should be to serve it also to his help-mate. Should he come home in the evening and find her occupied with family cares--preparing and clearing away the evening meal, looking after the little ones and arranging for the necessities of the coming day, etc.--long after the hours of his working day are past, and leave her to bear these domestic cares alone, and to feel neglected and underrated, a mere household accommodation, instead of a worthy and honored companion, while he seeks a quiet nook to read, or goes out alone to bear the message of salvation and joy to neighbors or others?
Ah, no! Let charity begin at home. If an unwise course in the past has overwhelmed the wife with family cares too numerous for her to bear with easy grace, see that no more are added, but, instead, "put your shoulder to the wheel" and help her with them as much as possible. What if tending the babies and washing the dishes is woman's work! if she has too much of it to do to admit of an hour's leisure with you, [R1555 : page 215] or with the Lord, or with the study of his Truth for herself--or if, under the pressure of constant duties, she has lost all relish for intellectual culture, and much of her faith in spiritual realities --it will do you good to share these tasks with her, until you have tied the last knot of the day's duties, and can then sit down together to study the Truth.
As gradually she comes to realize your love and interest she will have the more respect for you and for the doctrines whose fruit she sees exemplified in your daily life. At first, if this is a new thing, she may regard it as only a little unusual freak; but, by and by, constancy will increase confidence, and a responsive chord will be found in her heart; and the soil, thus carefully plowed and prepared, will be mellow and ready for the seeds of truth, and you and she and the home will be blessed. Try it brethren--any of you who find you have been to any extent remiss in these matters in the past. And in writing to the WATCH TOWER office mention your wife or your husband, if interested in the Truth.
Sometimes it is the wife who first catches a glimpse of the Millennial dawn, and she should value her opportunities for bearing to her husband the favors of which she has been made a partaker, although the outlook for his conversation to it may not seem very hopeful. Often, when the husband learns of his wife's departure from the beaten track of so-called orthodoxy, he forthwith concludes it is some new fanaticism; and seals up his heart and closes his ears to it. What should she do in such a case? Force it on him? No: that might only arouse antagonism. She should first of all let him read it in the living epistle of her daily life. Let him see the good effects of the truth in your carefulness to make home pleasant; let him realize your sympathy with his trials and vexations, your helpfulness to the extent of ability, and your appreciation of all his kindness.
It may sometimes require long and patient preaching of this kind before the husband is attracted to the plan of the ages; but let the light of a holy life and of a consistent walk and conversation continue to shine, while you in various ways hold forth to him the word of life, and in due time a response will be manifest. Let not such wives make the mistake of ignoring the headship of the husband (even though they be better informed concerning the divine plan), in appropriating the home of which he is the acknowledged head to the service of the Lord for the assemblies of the saints, if he is opposed to so using it, or in other ways. Even if the home is the wife's property a deference is due to the husband's wishes as the head of the house, so long as the relationship is recognized; his responsibility is to God, whether he recognizes that responsibility or not. But a wife is not bound to continue to supply a home; and should cease to do so if she be denied reasonable privileges in it, since in so doing she would be encouraging a wrong. As before shown, if a husband possesses the health, etc., necessary to the support of his wife and family and fails to provide for them, he has proved unfaithful to his marriage vow, which was to nourish and care for his companion; and in the eyes of the civil law he has committed "constructive desertion." A wife so circumstanced may, if she choose, consider herself as literally deserted, and may refuse to entertain and support such deserter. But desertion would not grant the right to either party to remarry so long as the other lives.
As the head of the domestic arrangement it is the duty of the Christian husband to say, "As for me and my house [as far as lies in the power of my influence], we will serve the Lord." And the Christian wife, recognizing this responsibility on his part, will gladly co-operate, in so far as she can conscientiously do so; and will put no stumbling block in his way, although she may view his methods differently. She may carefully endeavor to convince him of the truth, but she may not interfere with his conscience or his responsibility to God. Nor should the husband's course with the wife be arbitrary and unreasoning. He should not disregard her conscience, to hinder the full and free exercise of all her talents in God's service; but should grant her as great latitude in the use of the home as his conscience and responsibility as the head of the family will permit; for they are "heirs together of the grace of life." [R1555 : page 216] If he sees differently he should bring forth his strong reasons for her consideration and possible approval, and patiently hear her different views, in hope of final harmony. But if harmony cannot be reached, the responsibility for the home and its influence rests with the husband, who, by divine appointment, is its head.
HONOR TO WHOM HONOR IS DUE.
In viewing this whole subject we are forcibly reminded of the Apostle's counsel to the entire Church in their individual relationship to the powers that be, which are ordained of God-- "Render therefore to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. Owe no man anything, but to love one another."-- Rom. 13:7,8.
Kings are not always personally worthy of honor; but honor is always due to the office, which is "ordained of God." (Rom. 13:1. See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I., chap. xiii., for the sense and purpose of their ordination.) Many of the magistrates ruling Judea in the days of the Lord and the Apostles were personally very unworthy of honor, yet the Lord and the apostles left us, not only their precepts, but also their example of submission to the authority thus represented: they were all respectful and law-abiding.--Matt. 17:27; Acts 25:8,10,11.
So also in the domestic relation, the office of the husband and father, as the head of the family, is worthy of honor, both from wife and children, and also from the stranger within the gates, enjoying the protection and hospitality of the home. Even if the one so situated be personally unworthy of the honor, it is nevertheless due to his office, on the same principle that honor is due to unworthy civil magistrates.
The Apostle puts these duties of love and honor and custom, etc., in the light of obligations --as debts that should be promptly paid; saying, Owe no man anything but love. While love would be the ruling principle if all were perfect, yet in the fallen state selfishness is the common disease which devours and blights the happiness of home and family and business. True nobility would prompt every man in health to consideration not only toward the weaker sex but toward the aged and infirm of his own sex, in the crowd, in the car, and in any neighborly service; much more in the home and toward the life-companion will consideration be manifested, in the bearing of the cares and burdens of life. And the truly noble man or woman, whether at home or abroad, will be disinclined to disturb or inconvenience anyone; and if such accept a kindness it will be as a favor, and will be amply and graciously acknowledged.
The fall has developed in all selfishness instead of generosity; so that those who desire to be generous, finding selfish ingratitude their [R1556 : page 216] principal reward, are often discouraged and consider few if any worthy of it. But Christian men and women are to remember the unselfish example of their great Redeemer, that selfishness lies at the bottom of every sin, and that in striving against sin they must of necessity strive against selfishness, and endeavor to cultivate love. It is as a help to the right course that the Apostle points to justice as a consideration for rendering honor, respect and service --honor to whom honor is due, etc.
How beautiful is God's order, and how conducive to lasting peace and happiness to all who faithfully adhere to it! Let us thus carefully distinguish and mark the principles which God has laid down in the Scriptures for our guidance, and his approval will be our exceeding great reward; and his wisdom will by and by be manifest.
OUR CONVENTION AT CHICAGO.
AS already announced, it is purposed to have a Convention at Chicago, this Summer, of those deeply interested in the truths of God's Word as presented in ZION'S WATCH TOWER and MILLENNIAL DAWN. The time fixed upon as most suitable is August 20th to 24th, inclusive, the last day to be specially devoted to the interests of the Colporteur work;--arranging [R1556 : page 217] for future fields of service, and instructing the less successful and beginners as to methods, etc.
The main object of the gathering is to permit as large a number as possible to enjoy a spiritual feast of personal communion--one with the other, and all with the Lord, who serves the feast, and who for some years past has been so richly fulfilling his promise to his people in this respect. (Luke 12:37.) A secondary object will be to meet and encourage and instruct in the work colporteurs and intending colporteurs. Opportunity will also be afforded for symbolizing (in water) baptism into Christ's death. Many find no proper means of thus following the Lord's command in this (see our last issue) without disobeying his counsel by joining some sectarian system of men. Arrangements will be made and robes provided for serving such who may attend the meetings.
The date fixed is in view of the fact that the lowest Railroad Excursion Rates may be expected about that time. We are not asking or expecting special rates, but believe that by that time general competition will have brought fares down to about one half the present rates, or one fourth the usual rates. Such terms will prevail very generally, we believe; but if no cheaper rates are granted than at present, it will be much cheaper than usual, and afford an opportunity for many to attend whom we could not other wise hope to meet in the flesh.
As the opening day will be Sunday, it will have three meetings or practically be an all-day meeting, commencing at 10 A.M. Subsequent sessions will also open at 10 A.M., and close about 3 P.M., with an hour's intermission for dinner. This arrangement will not over-weary with sitting and thinking those of the truth-hungry who are in ordinary health, and it will afford an excellent opportunity, from 3 P.M. to 9 P.M. each day, for those who desire to learn, from visits to the Columbian Exposition, some very valuable lessons on the progress of our times-- on the evidences that we are in "the day of his [God's] preparation," in which arrangements are being perfected for the great work of blessing and lifting up again the fallen race to opportunities for life everlasting by their great Redeemer. The rest of the meetings, and the knowledge of the divine plan, will thus prepare for an appreciation of the greatest exhibit the world has ever seen; and the exercise of mind and body in studying the wonders of the exhibit will but refresh and quicken mind and heart for communion with God and study of his great Plan of the Ages, of which the cross of Christ is the center.
We well know that the item of expense will be a particular one to almost all of the "household" (for not many rich or great hath God chosen, but the poor of this world, rich in faith, to be heirs of the Kingdom). Hence we must make arrangements which will be economical. We have not as yet concluded any arrangements; but can promise the following very reasonable terms, viz.:--
A comfortable bed and three substantial meals for One Dollar per day for each person. Those who desire to visit the Exposition should count on about One Dollar per day extra, for car-fare and entrance fee.
WHO ARE INVITED.
All MILLENNIAL DAWN and WATCH TOWER readers, who are trusting in our Lord Jesus as their Redeemer--their corresponding price, their substitute--and especially all such who are fully consecrated, body, soul and spirit, to the Redeemer's service, are cordially invited to come.
Any such who anticipate being able to attend are requested to send us their full names and addresses at once, stating the facts. After arrangements have been fully perfected, particular directions will be mailed to such as thus apply;--for something may yet make a change of date necessary: but notice will be sent in good season for you to reach the lodgings on the day preceding the Convention.
Colporteurs (and all who think of becoming colporteurs) are specially urged to attend this convention, as valuable instructions respecting the best methods of work will be given, which we trust will more than double the results with many. Bring with you full data respecting routes and towns already worked, as changes of routes, etc., may be necessary.
STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. --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. PUBLISHED IN ADVANCE, AT THE REQUEST OF FOREIGN READERS.
PAUL AT PHILIPPI.
III. QUAR., LESSON II., JULY 9, ACTS 16:19-34.
Golden Text--"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."--Acts 16:31.
The house of Lydia became the center of Christian work in the city of Philippi; and here, under the instruction of the Apostle Paul, a company of believers gathered, of whom he subsequently speaks in terms of strong commendation for their faithfulness and zeal. Paul and his companions had not been long in Philippi before the Lord gave a very marked manifestation of his power, working through them in casting out an evil spirit from one whose affliction was a source of gain to her owners.
But the testimony thus borne brought upon the devoted heads of the Lord's messengers a storm of persecution. They were hurried to the market place, falsely accused before the magistrates and, apparently without even an opportunity to assert their innocence or to appeal for their rights as Roman citizens, they were quickly sentenced and immediately punished with stripes and imprisonment; and their ultimate fate was yet to be learned.--Verses 19-24.
VERSE 25. In a prison dungeon, with lacerated flesh, and feet made fast in the stocks, these brethren found cause for rejoicing. They rejoiced in that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ, and so spent the night in praise and prayer to God. And do not forget that it is in view of such trials that the Apostle's exhortation should be read--"Rejoice in the Lord always, and in every thing give thanks."
VERSE 26. It is not always that God interferes to liberate his persecuted saints: there is a glorious end in view in permitting them to endure hardness as good soldiers. Our Lord was not spared the agonies of the cross; Stephen was not spared the stoning that crushed out his life; other martyrs were not spared the fire and fagot, the guillotine and the rack; and the apostles were not spared the torture of the rod, the stocks and dungeon miseries. But, says the great Apostle, who bore a large share of these sufferings, "They are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." When that glory shall appear the present privilege of enduring hardness as good soldiers will be manifest, though the opportunity for so doing will then be past. By faith only can the privilege now be duly appreciated.
But God had yet a further use for Paul and Silas, and therefore, though from a human standpoint their release seemed hopeless, it was quickly and wonderfully accomplished when God saw fit to manifest his power. Just so it will be when God's time has fully come for breaking down all the barriers which men have set up against the establishment of his kingdom. What are thrones and empires and armies to withstand his might? Surely they are as nothing.
VERSES 27,28. There was no vindictiveness in these abused servants: they were ready immediately to bless their persecutors.
VERSE 29. This manifestation of the spirit of forgiving love was the best sermon they could have preached to the jailer; and it quickly brought forth its fruit in his repentance and conversion.
VERSES 30-34. His conduct indicated genuine repentance. He sought to reward them for their generosity in saving his life; and then inquired what he must do to be saved. Saved from what? from any penalty of the Roman law? No: his prisoners had not escaped: they were all there. He meant, What should he do to be saved with the great salvation which Paul and Silas preached. Then Paul preached the great salvation through faith in Christ, both to the jailor and to all that were in the house, showing that it is free to all who accept [R1557 : page 218] it, not only to the jailor but to all the rest of them on the terms of simple, obedient faith. It is not at all strange that the preaching under such circumstances brought forth fruit in the conversion of all that heard. [R1557 : page 218]
PAUL AT ATHENS.
III. QUAR., LESSON III., JULY 16, ACTS 17:22-31.
Golden Text--"God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."--John 4:24.
Having been by divine providence delivered and honorably discharged from the [R1557 : page 219] prison at Philippi, the zealous and undaunted Apostle to the Gentiles was again about his Master's business; and the interim between the account of our last lesson and that of this lesson shows him (1) giving his parting counsel and encouragement to the Philippian Church at the house of Lydia; (2) thence departing for Thessalonica, where he again boldly declared the truth and made many converts, and again brought upon himself the wrath of many enemies; (3) and when persecuted in that city and no longer permitted to preach Christ, we find him escaping by night to Berea, where similar success and similar persecution awaited him. His work there accomplished, we next find him in Athens, whither he had fled alone without his companions, Silas and Timothy, who were to follow him.
While here awaiting the arrival of the brethren, he first quietly took observation of the religious conditions of this great city, far famed for its literary and artistic genius --the city where Homer sung, where Socrates, Plato and Aristotle philosophised, where Solon promulgated his famous code of laws, and where Demosthenes held his audiences spell-bound with his eloquence. But Paul was stirred with holy zeal when, notwithstanding its marvelous crop of wise men and philosophers and all its learning and accomplishments, he beheld this famous city wholly given over to idolatry.-- Verse 16.
With characteristic zeal he began at once to present the profounder philosophy of divine truth, both in the synagogues of the Jews, and daily to the multitudes in the market-places. This new philosophy soon attracted the inquiring minds of many of the two most distinguished schools of Greek philosophy--the Stoics and the Epicureans. As they listened to the eloquent logic of the Apostle in the market-places they said among themselves, This is no place for such profound discourse; and they led the Christian orator to the Areopagus, or Mars' Hill, where the supreme court of Athens convened and where Demosthenes and other eloquent orators had spoken. From this notable place many of the learned and wise, in the wisdom of this world, heard for the first time the heavenly wisdom, the new divine philosophy which far outshines the wisdom of the world.
VERSES 22,23. The courteous address of the Apostle to the cultured audience before him is made to appear rather rude by our common translation--a rudeness quite incompatible, too, with the Apostle's own culture and refinement, and with his tact in presenting truth. The Revised Version is an improvement, and shows the Apostle to have been complimentary rather than rude: "Ye men of Athens [the address usual with all Greek orators], in all things I perceive that ye are somewhat religious; for as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription--'TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.' What therefore [by your own confession] ye worship in ignorance, this set I forth unto you."
This exhibition of tact in the presentation of the truth is worthy of the imitation of all who are seeking to declare the good tidings with effect. It is not wise to begin with a rude attempt to batter down prejudices, but rather we should begin with that which is already known or conceded, and then proceed by logical and Scriptural reasonings from the known to establish that which is as yet unknown to the hearer.
VERSES 24,25. The one true God, hitherto unknown to the Athenians, as the author and sustainer of all life, and hence incomparably greater than the gods they had hitherto worshiped, instead of needing gifts, is himself the giver of every good and perfect gift.
VERSE 26 declares the brotherhood of all the world of mankind (aside from the Church), and the earth to be their dwelling place; and that God has fixed times and seasons in working out his great plan respecting them.
VERSES 27,28. God is near to all who seek him, even though it be a blind feeling after him as an unknown God. As certain of their own poets had said, and so had come very near the truth, We are his offspring --the offspring of his creative power.
VERSE 29. The logic which would trace the existence of living intelligent creatures to a source so unworthy that man could imitate it in silver and gold, is evidently faulty and untrue.
VERSE 30. God is not holding man accountable for this ignorance of him and his ways; but when the truth is presented, it should be regarded as a call from God to repentance, and the knowledge brings a responsibility.
VERSE 31 declares an appointed time for the world's judgment and Christ Jesus as [R1557 : page 220] the Judge of all the earth; and that this, God's declared purpose, is corroborated by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
VERSES 32-34 show the usual results of the preaching of the truth. Like a magnet it attracts those who have an affinity for it, and others will not have it. Some mocked, and others desired to hear him further; but the real lovers of truth were evidently few. Worldly wisdom is not of itself sufficient to find out God; and, except when accompanied by humility and sincerity, it proves an obstacle rather than an aid to the attainment of that heavenly wisdom whose price is far above rubies. [R1557 : page 220]
PAUL AT CORINTH.
III. QUAR., LESSON IV., JULY 23, ACTS 18:1-11.
Golden Text--"The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."--1 Cor. 1:18.
After his work in Athens, the intellectual metropolis of the world, Paul's next point was Corinth, the great commercial center of Greece, its cosmopolitan population and commercial business making it a specially good field from whence the influences of Christianity might extend far and near. It was a desperately wicked city, its very name at that time being a popular synonym of vice and profligacy. But its wickedness was not Paul's reason for carrying the gospel there; and he did not seek its degraded and profligate class. He knew that the gospel was for the meek, the lovers of righteousness, and that only such were counted worthy of it (Isa. 61:1; Psa. 97:11); and the Lord assured him (verse 10) that even in that wicked city were many of this class, and therefore counselled his remaining there.
VERSES 1-3. Having arrived at Corinth, the Apostle first found two worthy Israelites, Aquila and Priscilla, who, with other Jews, had been exiled from Rome. These were of one mind and heart with the Apostle, and being of the same craft--tent-makers --he abode with them and wrought.
VERSES 4-8. Observing the Lord's order --"To the Jew first, and afterward to the Gentile"--the Apostle improved the opportunities of the Sabbath in the Jewish synagogues. This was, of course, the seventh, not the first day of the week; and Paul made use of it, not as a Jew under the law, but as a Christian free from the law, and who therefore esteemed every day alike (Rom. 14:5; Col. 2:16), all the days of the week being consecrated to the service of the Lord, and all the labors of the week-- whether of preaching the gospel or making tents--being done with an eye single to his glory. The Jewish Sabbath and the privileges of the synagogue afforded special opportunities for the promulgation of the truth (any person of ability being permitted to speak to the people in attendance); and of these the Apostle availed himself.
Here Paul was refreshed by the arrival of Silas and Timothy. And doubtless he needed their encouragement; for the majority of his Jewish hearers opposed him and blasphemed his doctrine. When they thus proved their unworthiness of the truth, Paul shook his raiment and said unto them, "Your blood be upon your own heads [The reference here is to the second death, toward which such a course of wilful opposition surely tends. The statement does not imply that they were already doomed to it, but rather that, from their present attitude and course, they were in great danger of it. The expression is of similar import to that of our Lord recorded in Matt. 23:33. See also Matt. 12:31.]; I am clean [I have done my duty toward you, and the responsibility is now with yourselves only]: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles."
Nevertheless, though such was the general attitude of the Jews toward the truth, some, both of Jews and Greeks, believed, and the house of Justus, a Jewish proselyte --"one that worshiped God"--living next door to the synagogue, furnished a suitable place for further discoursing the truth.
VERSES 9-11. The Lord specially encouraged the Apostle's continued efforts in this place by a vision. Thus reassured of the Lord's personal care and supervision, Paul was prepared for any trial, and in his weakness [R1558 : page 220] was made strong. And these things were written for our learning, that we might always realize the Lord at the helm, and trust and follow him in the footsteps of this the noblest of all the noble apostles. [R1558 : page 220]
PAUL AT EPHESUS.
III. QUAR., LESSON V., JULY 30, ACTS 19:1-12.
Golden Text--"When the spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth."--John 16:13.
This lesson shows Paul a second time at Ephesus since leaving Corinth. In the interim (chap. 18:18-23) he had first spent a [R1558 : page 221] brief time here, where he was accompanied by Aquila and Priscilla, and then visited Jerusalem, Antioch and the churches of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples. Now he has returned to find a pleasant surprise: A cultured and eloquent Alexandrian Jew, a convert to Christianity, has been here in his absence, mightily convincing the Jews, and that publicly, that Jesus is the Christ, and many have believed and are ready and anxious for further instruction.
Apollos himself knew only the baptism of John--the baptism unto repentance (the same now taught by the Disciples or Christian denomination--See last TOWER--Acts 18:25; 19:4), and they had been so baptized. Aquila and Priscilla heard him speak, and, perceiving his imperfect knowledge, took him home and instructed him more perfectly, so that when he went away from Ephesus to Achaia, he went better equipped for the work. The coming of the Apostle was just in time to encourage the infant Church and to correct the mistakes of the zealous and beloved Apollos. His inquiry and their reply, with reference to receiving the holy spirit, showed their entire ignorance of the privileges of believers--of entire consecration and adoption as sons of God into the divine family, implied in the ordinance of baptism into Christ. This subject of the high calling of believers, of the gospel age, Paul opened up to them, probably in quite extended discourse, of which verse 4 must be understood as a mere synopsis. This clearer understanding was at once acted upon, and they were again baptized--not this time with the significance of John's baptism (unto repentance), but of Christ's baptism (of entire consecration and full submission to the will of God).
Then followed the evidence of their acceptance with God, granted to all the early Christians through the laying on of the Apostles' hands (never otherwise communicated, except at the beginning): the power of the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Verse 6.) These gifts were necessary to the Church then in its incipient stage, both for their own full assurance of faith, and also for the world's recognition of them as specially owned of God; but they were not intended to be continued beyond the days of the Apostles.-- 1 Cor. 13:8.
VERSES 8-10. Paul continued his reasonings with the Jews in the synagogues three months, when, as usual, his advanced and clear teachings produced a division among the Jews, for and against the truth--the opposition of the unbelievers being very pronounced. He therefore, with the believers, withdrew, and thereafter taught in the school or lecture room of one Tyrannus. Here Jews and Greeks were alike welcome, and from this place the truth spread over all Asia Minor.
The lesson taught by the Apostle's course in thus ceasing to intrude upon the unbelieving Jews, who were no longer willing to give the truth a hearing in their synagogue, is one that all believers should note and follow. What communion hath light with darkness, or truth with error? After using such privileges as are freely accorded, if the truth has no effect, its servants are not justified by any Scripture in intruding upon the rights of others. [R1558 : page 221]
PAUL AT MILETUS.
III. QUAR., LESSON VI., AUG. 6, ACTS 20:22-35.
Golden Text--"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God; and viewing attentively the result of their conduct, imitate their faith."--Heb. 13:7. --Diaglott.
We stand in awe before such an example of moral heroism as we find in the Apostle Paul: and the passage chosen for this lesson makes it specially manifest. As we follow him from city to city and mark his faithful labor and care, his patient endurance of persecution, his untiring devotion and zeal for the truth, his patience in instructing and bearing with the weak and ignorant, and all his sufferings for Christ's sake, and then hear him say, "None of these things move me," we feel that we are indeed contemplating a sublime character.
To say that Paul was a remarkable man, a wonderful man, a grand man, gives no adequate conception of his character. See how in every city, bonds and afflictions awaited him: mobs and stripes and imprisonment were his constant expectation. Then read his epistles and mark his fervency of spirit, his deep insight into the things of God, his care for the churches and his deep solicitude for their spiritual welfare, his earnest exhortations and his living example. Read till you are filled with the inspiration of his noble example and behold in him a miracle of divine grace.
No ordinary hopes and ambitions could inspire such a life. His eye of faith was fixed on the things as yet not seen. He was [R1558 : page 222] a man of superior advantages and blessings, as well as of peculiar and almost unprecedented trials. "Like one born before the time" (1 Cor. 15:8), he had seen the Lord in his glory and heard his gracious voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." It was unto him as Ananias said,--"The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldst know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldst hear the voice of his mouth; for thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard." (Acts 22:14,15.) In mental vision he had been "caught away to the third heaven" (to the Millennial reign of Christ), and had been granted a glimpse of the glory and blessedness of that reign of righteousness. Again and again he received special, individual encouragement from the Lord. In Corinth the Lord spoke to him by a vision, saying, "Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace; for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city." (Acts 18:9,10.) Again, in the midst of fierce persecution "the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." (Acts 23:11.) And again, when in imminent danger of shipwreck, the angel of the Lord stood by him, saying, Fear not, Paul, thou must be brought before Caesar: and lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee." (Acts 27:23,24.) And the Lord constantly witnessed with him to the truth of the gospel, by miracles and signs which mightily convinced the people.--Acts 19:11,12; 20:9-12; 28:3-6,8,9.
In view of these things, do we not truly say that Paul was a miracle of grace? He himself said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13); and that it was the power of Christ that rested on him. (2 Cor. 12:9,10.) The grace given was indeed sufficient for the heavy labors and incessant toil of this beloved witness of the Lord unto us Gentiles. And as we look upon his shining course we see Christ in him; and reason says, If one who thus saw the Lord and heard his gracious voice, and who lived in such close and constant fellowship with him, was so inspired with hope and joy, and so nerved to cheerful endurance of hardship, pain and loss of every earthly treasure, the reward itself must indeed be glorious.
Beloved, let us mark the noble examples of the Lord and of Paul, and let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, as did Paul, for all needed strength and consolation.
With these thoughts, returning to the lesson, we see, in the parting of the beloved Apostle with the elders of the church at Ephesus, who had come to bid him farewell before he set sail for Jerusalem, and to receive his parting counsel, another reminder of his faithfulness and a worthy example for our imitation.
VERSES 25-27. He said to them, "I know that ye shall see my face no more. Wherefore, I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men [He was bearing in mind his personal responsibility as a steward of the Lord and the solemn significance of it as indicated by the Prophet Ezekiel--33:7-9]; for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." On the part of Paul there was no compromise of the truth, no mixing of it with human philosophies to make it more palatable to either Jews or Gentiles, or to avoid thus any measure of the otherwise inevitable persecution. The Christian teacher who can truly bear such testimony under such circumstances is indeed a soldier of the cross.
VERSES 28-31. Note his fatherly counsel to these elders to continue to supplement the Apostle's labors with their own; and with the same zeal and carefulness in which he had set them an example. Note also his faithful warning against false teachers, who would surely develop in their midst; against [R1559 : page 222] wolves in sheep's clothing, who would not spare the flock while selfishly seeking their own temporal advantage. The Apostle did not counsel the handling of these wolves very gently, as some teachers of to-day advise. He did not say, you must call them all brethren, and tell them they are probably as near the truth as you are, and that you have a broad charity for all sorts of vain philosophies, etc., etc. No, Paul was not the man for such compromises.--Rom. 16:17,18; 2 Thes. 3:6,14; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 Tim. 2:15-19.
VERSES 32-35 are touching words--the eloquence of noble deeds, the exhortation of a living example, the benedictions of a loving heart, the incense of a devoted and holy life.
VERSES 36-38. Since the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, we cannot doubt that all their hearts were refreshed [R1559 : page 223] and comforted with a blessed sense of divine grace for this and every time of need, though their tears flowed freely at the thought of parting, to meet no more until the blessed day of final recompense.
The golden text is well chosen, though the common translation gives a significance at variance with the teachings of the Lord and the Apostles. (See Matt. 20:25-28; 2 Cor. 1:24; 1 Pet. 5:1-3. The Lord does not raise up rulers from among our brethren in the body of Christ; but he does raise up faithful leaders, to whom earnest heed should be given, and whose faith and example should be imitated. [R1559 : page 223]
PAUL AT JERUSALEM.
III. QUAR., LESSON VII., AUG. 13, ACTS 21:27-39.
Golden Text--"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake."--Phil. 1:29.
Leaving Miletus, the scene of our last lesson, Paul pursued his journey toward Jerusalem, making several brief visits on the way--at Tyre seven days, at Ptolemais one day, and at Caesarea many days. And although forewarned of persecution at Jerusalem, he was persuaded that the Lord would have him go; and against all the entreaties of the brethren he was therefore invincible, saying, "What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." When he would not be dissuaded from his purpose, the brethren submitted, saying, "The will of the Lord be done" (Acts 21:1-14), and some of them went with him from Caesarea. This was his fifth visit to Jerusalem since his conversion, twenty years before. The day after his arrival he made a report of his missionary work to the brethren, of whom James, the Lord's brother, was chief.
In the eight years since Paul had visited the brethren at Jerusalem (Acts 18:21,22) he had (1) made two long missionary tours; (2) revisited and strengthened the churches in Asia Minor; (3) carried the gospel into Europe; (4) founded churches in Philippi, Corinth, Thessalonica and Ephesus; and (5) had widely extended the gospel and made many converts to Christianity, whose genuine faith and zeal for the cause of Christ was expressed in their contributions, sent by Paul, for the poor saints at Jerusalem.
At the previous conference, eight years prior to this, the elders at Jerusalem had concurred with Paul's judgment and previous practice, that it was not necessary to put the yoke of Judaism upon Gentile converts. He had taught that the Mosaic law was no longer in force; that its forms and ceremonies could not save any one, not even a Jew; and that faith in the Lord Jesus was the only way of salvation. He had taught, further, that the chief promises of God were to the spiritual seed of Abraham, of which seed are all who are Christ's by faith and consecration, whether Jews or Gentiles. At the same time he himself, being a Hebrew, properly observed certain features of the Jewish law; not, however, as a condition of salvation, but rather as a justifiable expediency-- a concession to his Jewish brethren who had not yet fully comprehended their liberty in Christ, that so his liberty might not become an occasion of stumbling to them.--See May 1st TOWER, page 142.
The narrative of this lesson needs no special comment, but is another illustration of the dauntless courage and holy enthusiasm of this noble soldier of the cross, a noteworthy instance of which is seen in his request to the chief captain to suffer him to speak to the people,--as soon as they had left off beating him. (Verses 37-40.) And the noble address which followed (chap. 22) was a model of skill, logic and eloquence; and a fair reflection of the worthy character of the Lord's chosen Apostle. May its inspiration fire our hearts to the furtherance of the Lord's work. The Apostle's course was a practical exemplification of his teaching in the golden text of this lesson.
ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I am again in the harvest field. What a privilege not only to feast ourselves upon the fat things, but to feed others as well. When we take Brother Paul's advice, and present our bodies living sacrifices to God and his service, there seems to be a change in our being. We continually grow in love to God, in heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It seems to me, dear Brother, that we sometimes realize in our own hearts, to some extent at least (notwithstanding our weakness under the Adamic page 224 fall), the wonderful sympathy and love our dear Savior manifested toward the city of Jerusalem, when, but a few days before he suffered, he wept over the city, and, again, as they pierced him on the cross, he uttered that wonderful prayer, "Father, forgive them." I used to read those things with deep interest, and could hardly realize such great love; but now I not only realize it, but see my own privilege to share that same love, and to sacrifice for the sake of others.
J. S. BOTT.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have just finished this week's work, and wish you to know that I am still fighting away, and still trusting in our dear Redeemer, who died that we might live. And I do thank our Heavenly Father that I am so privileged to be used of him in spreading the "glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people."
I met a dear brother to-day, who seemed to be thoroughly consecrated to God's service. He has some truth, and I hope DAWN will help him to more. He had only to look at it a moment to see that it was something good. Perhaps you do not just realize how good it makes me feel to meet anyone I can grasp by the hand and call "brother." When we meet so much error everywhere, it is such a delightful contrast to meet one of like precious faith--one who is on the Rock. I took one hundred and forty orders this week; and owe many thanks to Brother Rogers for his helping hand, enabling me to do so much better than previously.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--We received the three Bibles, etc., in good condition, and are well pleased with them. I also received your kind letter of May 30. It encourages me to press on. I am heavy laden with cares, but strength is graciously supplied to me; and I trust that I shall never become overcharged. I surely can see the hand of the Lord leading me on. All my ways, my thoughts, my words and desires, are known to him; and I desire to keep that thought always before me: it is a safeguard against the many snares of the devil.
I have received and read the June 1st TOWER. The article, "The Lord's Sheep," is good. How glad I am that I ever heard the Good Shepherd's voice! I will endeavor to follow wherever he leads, for the path is safe, and will end in glory. The knowledge of the good Shepherd, who he is, what he has done for his sheep and what he is still doing for us, has drawn out my love for him; and I desire to follow him because I love him. Dear Shepherd, keep me ever near thee, is my prayer. Amen.
The article, "The Relative Claims of Love and Justice," has opened my eyes as never before. I have read it twice, carefully, and I want to keep it before me continually. I never saw so much in justice before. I see that justice is what is needed in this world more than anything else. I see now that justice is righteousness; and there can be no peace on earth until justice is established in it; but we have the "sure word of prophecy" pointing out a time when the "people shall be all righteous," and inherit the land for ever.--Isa. 60:21.
N. BARRETT, SR.
DEAR FRIENDS:--How the WATCH TOWER grows on one! It breathes the Spirit of Truth. I look upon the letters from friends and workers published in the TOWER as one of its strong features, and take great pleasure in reading them all--they are so clean and honest and straight-forward.
A. R. PEARSON.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I am digging down into the three volumes of DAWN, trying my best to get its treasures; for I find that all the truth does not lie on the surface. Each time I read them through I grasp the truth more firmly.
R. P. PHELPS.
DEAR FRIENDS:--I failed to receive the TOWER of April 15th. If you have one I would be glad to have it. I feel it a great loss to miss a single number. Would be pleased to receive a few tracts for distribution.
A few of us, here, are endeavoring to walk in the strait, narrow way of self-denial, trusting in the ransom sacrifice of our blessed Redeemer, and endeavoring to walk in his footsteps. Oh, how wonderful that we are invited to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amazing grace!
We are circulating a few DAWNS and other publications of the Tract Society in our thinly settled section, though there are but few that have the hearing ear. Yet how clear and refreshing is the truth to the household of faith! I feel I have but a little while to stay in the flesh. I have passed the seventieth mile-post, and hope soon to be like my Lord, and see him as he is. Yours in hope,
G. S. PERRY.
Top of Page