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.
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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.
FURTHER JEWISH EXPULSION.
ACCORDING to a cablegram to the New York Times of May 7, a fresh edict, by the Russian Emperor, will expel nearly a million Jews from Poland. We quote as follows:--
"Nothing that can occur in Europe, not even a war of great magnitude, possesses a deeper interest for Jews and Christians alike, than the prospect of a large exodus of Jews from Russia.
"As a consequence of the Passover edicts of 1891 more than 400,000 Jews were driven from Russia. More than 110,000 of the exiles landed in New York, and many thousands found their way to Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Chicago.
"The interest of the people of New York in that vast body of immigrants was greatly intensified by the presence among some of them of typhus and cholera; but on other grounds the immigrants aroused the most widespread concern.
"The labor unions of New York and other cities made energetic protests against the admission of the Russian Jews into the labor markets of the New World. There were objections to the wholesale entrance of the refugees on social grounds.
"The movement of the Jews in Russia, which is now under way, according to Mr. Frederic, is four times as great as that following the Passover edict of 1891, and it will affect every Jew in Poland. This is the first time that the Polish Jews have had their liberties abridged. There are in Poland about 1,500,000 Jews.
"The immigration laws of the United States have been recently made much more rigorous by Congress, owing to the last Russian exodus and to the public fear of typhus and cholera. The immigrants are to be catechised in order to get statistics as to their social, moral, physical, and financial condition. Immigrant-carrying vessels are to be limited, and in several directions the restrictions are drawn tighter around the passengers of the steerage.
"Through liberal contributions of Baron de Hirsch and other rich Jews in Paris, London, Berlin and Vienna there were established two funds for the exclusive relief of Russian and Roumanian Jews.
"One of these funds amounted to $10,000,000, and was put at the disposal of a committee of London Jews, with that city as the headquarters of the fund.
"The other fund was sent by Baron de Hirsch to New York, and is managed by seven trustees. The fund amounted, when established, to $2,500,000, and the money was invested in New York bonds and mortgages drawing interest.
"A Trustee of the Baron de Hirsch Fund said, "We were anticipating something of the kind before long. We have $30,000 a year available for direct relief to the refugees, and this sum can readily be increased to $50,000. There will be no lack of funds to take care of all the needy Jews who come. We do not encourage them to come, nor have we ever.
"The partial failure of the colonization schemes in South America has rendered it probable that other parts of America and the world will be considered by the managers of the London Baron de Hirsch Fund, in future schemes of this kind. Australia offers an inviting field, and it is probable that colonies will be started there. Mexico, likewise, seems to be a favorable country. We can ourselves take care of 50,000 Jews this Summer, and we do not think that the number who come will reach that figure.
"A good many of the Jewish refugees from Russia are fleeing into Palestine and settling there. The Jews have not nearly as much disinclination to agricultural pursuits as is popularly supposed."
[R1534 : page 163]
"Watchman, What of the Night?" "The Morning Cometh, and a Night also!" Isaiah 21:11
VOL. XIV. JUNE 1, 1893. NO. 11. THE RELATIVE CLAIMS OF LOVE AND JUSTICE.
THERE is nothing more necessary to the peace and prosperity of the Church of God than that its members should have a clear understanding and appreciation of moral principles, with a full determination to be controlled by them. Even among Christians there are often differences of opinion, with reference to principles of action, which greatly interfere with spiritual growth and prosperity. Such difficulties most frequently arise through a failure to rightly distinguish between the relative claims of love and justice. Therefore we deem it profitable to briefly consider these principles and their operation among the children of God.
Justice is sometimes represented by a pair of evenly poised balances, and sometimes by the square and compass, both of which are fitting emblems of its character. Justice knows no compromise and no deviation from its fixed rule of action. It is mathematically precise. It gives nothing over for "good weight" or "good measure:" there is no grace in it, no heart, no love, no sympathy, no favor of any kind. It is the cold, calculating, exact measure of truth and righteousness. When justice is done, there is no thanks due to the one who metes it out: such a one has only done a duty, the neglect of which would have been culpable, and the doing of which merits no favor or praise. And yet, cold, firm and relentless as this principle is, it is declared to be the very foundation of God's throne. It is the principle which underlies all his dealings with all his creatures: it is his unchangeable business principle. And how firmly he adheres to it is manifest to every one acquainted with the plan of salvation, the first step of which was to satisfy the claims of justice against our race. Though it cost the life of his only begotten and well beloved Son to do this, so important was this principle that he freely gave him up for us all-- to satisfy its legal claims against us.
The principle of love, unlike that of justice, overflows with tenderness and longs to bless. It is full of grace, and delights in the bestowment of favor. It is manifest, however, that no action can be regarded as a favor or a manifestation of love, which has not underneath it the substantial foundation of justice. Thus, for instance, if one comes to you with a gift, and at the same time disregards a just debt to you, the gift falls far short of appreciation as an expression of love; and you say, We should be just before we attempt to be generous.
And this is right: if justice is the foundation principle in all of God's dealings, it should be in ours also; and none the less so among brethren in Christ than among those of the world. As brethren in Christ, we have no right to presume upon the favor of one another. All that we have a right to claim from one another is simple justice--justice in the payment of our honest debts to each other, justice in our judgment one of another (which must make due allowance for frailties, etc., because we realize [R1535 : page 163] in ourselves some measure of similar imperfection), and justice in fair and friendly treatment one of another. This is all we have any right [R1535 : page 164] to claim; and we must also bear in mind that while we have a right to claim this for ourselves from others, we are just as fully obligated to render the same to them.
But while we may claim justice--though there is no obligation to demand it for ourselves, and we may if we choose even suffer injustice uncomplainingly --we must, if we are Christ's, render it. In other words, we are not responsible for the actions of others in these respects, but we are responsible for our own. And therefore we must see to it that all our actions are squared by the exact rule of justice, before we ever present a single act as an expression of love.
The principle of love is not an exact principle to be measured and weighed like that of justice. It is three-fold in its character, being pitiful, sympathetic or reverential, according to the object upon which it is centered. The love of pity is the lowest form of love: it takes cognizance of even the vile and degraded, and is active in measures of relief. The love of sympathy rises higher, and proffers fellowship. But the love of reverence rises above all these, and delights in the contemplation of the good, the pure and the beautiful. In this latter sense we may indeed love God supremely, as the personification of all that is truly worthy of admiration and reverence, and our fellow men in proportion as they bear his likeness.
Although we owe to every man the duty of love in some one of these senses, we may not demand it one of another, as we may the principle of justice; for love is the overflow of justice. Justice fills the measure full, but love shakes it, presses it down, heaps it up and overflows justice. It is therefore something not to be demanded, nor its lack to be complained of, but to be gratefully appreciated as a favor and to be generously reciprocated. Every one who craves it at all should crave it in its highest sense--the sense of admiration and reverence. But this sort of love is the most costly, and the only way to secure it is to manifest that nobility of character which calls it forth from others who are truly noble.
The love of sympathy and fellowship is also very precious; but, if it come merely in response to a demand, it comes robbed of its choicest aroma: therefore never demand it, but rather by manifestation of it toward others court its reciprocation.
The love of pity is not called out by the nobility of the subject, but rather by the nobility of the bestower, who is so full of the principle of love that it overflows in its generous impulses toward even the unworthy. All of the objects of pity are not, however, unworthy of love in the higher senses; and some such often draw upon our love in all the senses.
To demand love's overflow of blessing-- which is beyond the claims of justice--is only an exhibition of covetousness. We may act on this principle of love ourselves, but we may not claim it from others. The reverse of this exhibits a manifest lack of love and a considerable measure of selfishness.
Thus, for instance, two of the Lord's children were once rooming together and, through a failure to rightly consider the relative claim of love and justice, one presumed upon the brotherly love of the other to the extent of expecting him to pay the entire rent; and when the other urged the claims of justice, he pushed the claim of brotherly love, and the former reluctantly yielded to it, not knowing how to refute the claim, yet feeling that somehow some Christians had less principle than many worldly people. How strange that any of God's children should take so narrow and one-sided a view. Cannot all see that love and justice should work both ways and that it is the business of each not to oversee others in these respects, but to look well to his own course, and if he would teach others, let it be rather by example than by precept.
Let us beware of a disposition to covetousness, and let each remember that he is steward over his own goods, and not over his neighbor's, and that each is accountable to the Lord, and not to his brother, for the right use of that which the Master entrusted to him. There is nothing much more unlovely and unbecoming to the children of God than a disposition to petty criticism of the individual affairs of one another. It is a business too small for the saints, and manifests a sad lack of that brotherly love which should be specially manifest [R1535 : page 165] in broad and generous consideration, which would rather cover a multitude of sins than magnify one.
May love and justice find their proper and relative places in the hearts of all of God's people, that so the enemy may have no occasion to glory. The Psalmist says, "Oh, how love I thy law [the law of love, whose foundation is justice]: it is my meditation all the day." (Psa. 119:97.) Surely, if it were the constant meditation of all, there would be fewer and less glaring mistakes than we often see. Let us watch and be sober, that the enemy may not gain an advantage over us.
THE LORD'S SHEEP.
THE Lord, in calling his people his sheep, chose a very significant emblem of the character he would have manifested in them. The most noticeable characteristics of the sheep are meekness, docility and obedience to the shepherd to whose care they fully entrust themselves. They are very true to the shepherd: they study his voice, watch for the indications of his will, and trustfully obey him. When they hear his voice, quickly, and without the slightest hesitation or faltering, they run to obey it. But the voice of a stranger they will not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers.
What a lesson is here for the Lord's "little flock," over whom he is the good Shepherd. The weakest lamb in the flock knows his voice and hears him say, "This is the way: walk ye in it." And while there are thousands of voices calling, now in this direction and now in that, the Lord's sheep, acquainted with his Spirit and his Word, turn away from all save the well known voice of the Shepherd. In various ways our Shepherd speaks to his flock of sheep and lambs. His written words treasured up in the heart mark the way of truth continually; his special providences further shape the peculiar course of each individual; and the abiding presence of his holy Spirit makes manifest every intrusion of any other spirit which seeks to beguile and to lead astray. The true sheep will carefully listen for the faintest accents of the voice of the Shepherd-- i.e., he will treasure up his words in his heart; he will study his providences; and he will cultivate that communion and personal fellowship with the Lord which are his privilege. Those who thus abide in him can never go astray."They can never, never lose their way."
They may not have much learning, and, humanly speaking, would not be able to grapple with all the sophistries of error. But, being so well acquainted with the Master's voice, they quickly perceive that such voices are the voices of strangers, and they will not follow them; for they are loyal and obedient to the Shepherd only.
In such an attitude of mind and heart is our only safety in the midst of all the difficulties and confusion of this evil day. And all such may confidently sing with the Psalmist--
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down [to rest--the rest of faith] in green pastures [with abundance of satisfying food]; he leadeth me beside the still waters [deep, refreshing truths]. He restoreth my soul [reclaims it from death]; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake [because I am his child and bear his honored name]. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death [The entire journey of life since the fall has been through a vale of tears, upon which rests the shadow of death.], I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." Thy word and providences discipline and guide me in the way. Our Shepherd's providence not only disciplines the true sheep, but protects them from the "wolves" and other foes.
With the Prophet, we also can say, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies [for even while beset by Satan and Sin, we are sustained by the Lord's abundant provision for every necessity]; thou anointest my head with [the] oil [of joy], my cup [pleasure] runneth over [even while, as a [R1535 : page 166] pilgrim, I am beset with life's difficulties]." And, in view of the Lord's present and past leading, all, who continue to be truly his sheep, can certainly trust that--"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord [will be recognized as a member of his household, as his child] forever."
Let us seek to cultivate more and more the meek, docile and loyal character of the sheep, that so we may be abundantly blessed by the care of the good Shepherd. Such a disposition does not commend itself to the world--the wayward goat, the bold lion, or the stealthy bear, the subtle serpent and vicious vampires are more fitting emblems of their ideals, and are usually the emblems selected for their escutcheons. But let the world love its own, while we remember that we are not of the world, but are sent forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, and that our safety and spiritual prosperity depend, not upon our own wisdom and sagacity, but depend entirely upon our diligent hearkening to, and patient following of, the voice of the good Shepherd, who will very soon highly exalt his little flock and crown them with an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
BE YE WISE AS SERPENTS--HARMLESS AS DOVES.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I appeal to you for some assistance. I have had within the last four months quite an experience; and, being only a "babe" in the truth, I need help. My query is respecting MILLENNIAL DAWN. The Lord has used it graciously in bringing me into his family,--and into great joy and peace. I was not until lately a Christian; because nothing in Christianity drew me; but, rather, the contradictory doctrines of the various denominations repelled me, and caused me to doubt the Book (the Bible) from which so many conflicting views could be drawn. About a year ago I became a "Salvationist," but now I am simply a Christian.
But when I had read the DAWN series (and I shall always feel grateful to the dear friend and Brother, who brought it to my attention), I found what my soul had long unwittingly hungered and thirsted after;--I found the divine plan of the ages;--I found harmony in God's Word;--I found the plan of God therein revealed in fullest accord with my highest and noblest reasoning faculties and sympathies; I found it full of love, full of justice and full of wisdom.
Joyfully I exclaimed,--These DAWN volumes are the Bible keys which God himself has sent to his people; that now, at last, after centuries of darkness and perplexity, we may "see light in his light," and praise and glorify his name, and get fully free from the bondage of error, and enjoy the true liberty of the sons of God!
As you know, I entered the colporteur work; --I gave myself zealously to that work (selling over a thousand DAWNS in eleven weeks), because I believed that thus I was preaching the gospel more successfully and more acceptably to God than in any other way. But now I have stopped; because doubts have been aroused in my mind (and these by a brother colporteur) as to whether or not the DAWNS are what I hoped,--God-given "Bible Keys."
The cause of my loss of confidence lay in the fact that the brother-colporteur referred to, while quite earnest in the sale of DAWN, gave me to understand that he differed with its teachings on several points, and in some meetings, which we attended, he seemed to ignore the DAWN entirely. When one older than I in "this way" manifested such lack of confidence in the DAWNS, it shook my confidence, and I said to him, "Were not the DAWNS and WATCH TOWER the channels through which God brought the knowledge of his plan of the ages to your attention? And, if so, why are you ashamed to confess the agency which God thus honored and used to bless you? And if you know more truth than the DAWN and the TOWER present, and in conflict with their teachings, why do you circulate them?" The answer was that I would make of you a pope; and that even some parts of the Bible are errors.
But I was honest and in earnest, and concluded to sell no more DAWNS until I felt sure that they present the truth;--more of it than any other book I could circulate, and more than I myself could teach in any other manner. It was about this time that the Adversary brought me in contact with the so-called Spirit of the Word which for a few days threatened to ensnare me. But I soon discovered that not the spirit of God's Word but the spirit of error forwarded its teachings. It [R1535 : page 167] is altogether off the foundation,--the ransom. It teaches, too, that God is the only real sinner, and man his innocent dupe. Its hope is that, after 6000 years of mischief and sin and trouble making, God will, during the Millennial age, change; and in his efforts to undo the wrongs of the past and present he will save everybody everlastingly,--even the devil. I learned that Mr. Adams had first gotten the truth from you (and I could see traces of the plan of the ages throughout his writings), and that he had as he supposed improved upon your writings: but to me his improvements had spoiled everything they mixed with.
I turned again to the DAWNS and TOWERS, and again the peace and joy and confidence began to come. Brother Adamson's article in the March 15th TOWER helped me, and then the May 1st TOWER on "The Twelve Apostles," seemed just the food my soul needed. [R1536 : page 167] It, with the second chapter of DAWN, Vol. I., refreshed my confidence in the Bible as indeed the Word of God--specially given and specially presented for our comfort and strength in this day of doubts and skepticism and many "uncertain sounds." And this gave me increased confidence in the DAWNS and TOWERS; and I said to myself: The same God who sent by his spirit his message by the prophets and his expositions by the apostles surely had something to do with the preparation of the MILLENNIAL DAWN and WATCH TOWER teachings; for they, and they alone of all the books of earth, fully harmonize the teachings of the Bible and make clear "the mystery" which God declared he would make clear in the close of the Gospel age. (Rev. 10:7) As evidence that there is an intelligent Creator, I am reminded of the old proof, sometimes given to Atheists, viz., the finding of a watch. The perfect adaptation of its wheels to each other and to the hands and dial proves that the watch had a designer, just as the perfect adaptation of Nature's various parts proves that there is an intelligent Creator. This same illustration, it seems to me, fits the DAWN: the fact that no other view harmonizes the entire Bible and rejects none of it, and the fact that the DAWN does this, would seem to my mind to prove that the DAWN had, either directly or indirectly, God's direction and providential leading in its preparation.
I note, Brother Russell, how carefully and modestly you disclaim any special revelations, any special inspirations, etc., in connection with these writings: how, on the contrary, you claim that all such revelations, etc., ended with the twelve apostles, and that all subsequent light comes through their writings; and that the fact that the much fuller light now shining upon the divine plan is simply because God's due time has come for solving "the mystery;" that some channel must be used; and that if you had not been faithful to the opportunity some one else would have been used to hand forth the "meat in due season" to the household of faith.
Now, excuse the question, please,--Does the Brother I mention know more about the plan of God than you do? Or do you know anything wrong with the DAWNS, that you could correct if writing them to-day? As I said at first, I am but a "babe" in Christ and in the truth, but I desire the truth--the clearest truth to be obtained, and want to spend myself entirely in its service. Help me, I pray, to get settled again on a sure, firm foundation; for I have no desire to deceive myself or others.
[This dear Brother has since gotten quite rid of his perplexities, and is again hard at work in the harvest-field selling DAWN. We publish the above, and our answer, for the sake of others; advising all the dear reapers to be cautious lest the "babes" be even unintentionally choked.--EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER__________:--I am much pleased with your earnest spirit; and I fully agree with your sentiment that, in consecrating our time, influence and all to the Lord and his truth, it is our duty to use every reasonable means to know just what is Truth. You did perfectly right in stopping your sale of DAWN when in doubt about its truthful representation of God's great plan. Honesty toward God and toward fellow men demanded this of you, as of all in this harvest work, or in any work in which the laborer becomes ostensibly God's instrument. For this reason we seek to have, among the DAWN and TOWER colporteurs, only such as are in the work for the Truth's sake only.
But, dear Brother, God would have you learn that, while the sympathy and companionship of fellow-servants are pleasant and desirable, it is needful for each of his servants to have on a personal armor that he may be able always to give an answer concerning his own hope (regardless of the hopes and doubts of others) with meekness. (1 Pet. 3:15.) Being only a "babe" in the truth and in the Lord, it is not surprising that you lacked the full vigor and full armor of a "man in Christ," well instructed unto every good work, and fully able to rightly divide the Word of truth. Indeed, this may yet be quite a lesson for you to learn,--that [R1536 : page 168] you do not know much; that you are not yet a graduate, but merely a pupil in the school of Christ. Even the Apostle confessed that now we see as through an obscured glass,--now we know only in part. (1 Cor. 13:12.) And the more we all grow in the grace of the Lord, the humbler and more teachable we surely will become. It will be less and less a question of what channel the Lord may use, so long as we are sure that what we receive is his message from his Word.
But you are quite right in looking for more refreshment through the former channel of blessings;--until you are convinced either that the entire matter was a delusion and a deception, blessings and all, or else that the channel has become corrupted at a certain point, beyond which it is unfit for refreshment. And in the latter case it would be your duty to point out the corrupting error of life or doctrine --to the teacher, first; and then, if still seen to be error, you should boldly but lovingly declare, with your proofs, what you find to all whom you may esteem to be in danger. But if great humility is essential to acceptance with the Lord as teacher, remember that it will require the same spirit of meekness and humility to be properly and acceptably a teacher of teachers. Such a course is indicated in our Lord's Word, and is sure to bring good results to all the meek sheep concerned.
Now, dear Brother, begin again; and, taking your BIBLE and the DAWNS, study the Plan of the Ages in the light of God's Word, and become rooted and grounded and built up in the present truth. (Col. 2:7.) When thus convinced of God's Word, the doubts and fears of others, on subjects thus proved and fully tested for yourself by the only standard, will not affect your faith, but strengthen you. But let not your strength rest in yourself,--in your own wisdom and knowledge which would merely puff you up and speedily make you unfit for present usefulness, as well as unworthy of the future Kingdom glories, promised to the faithful meek. Neither must you lean upon the DAWN and the TOWER as infallible teachers. If it was proper for the early Christians to prove what they received from the apostles, who were and who claimed to be inspired, how much more important it is that you fully satisfy yourself that these teachings keep closely within their outline instructions and those of our Lord;-- since their author claims no inspiration, but merely the guidance of the Lord, as one used of him in feeding his flock.
I trust, dear Brother, that, as you examine these publications, that may seem to you to be true of the author which the Apostle Paul said of himself: "We preach not ourselves, but Christ,--the power of God and the wisdom of God. Whether successful or not, others must judge, and especially the Lord; but I ever seek to hold forth the Word of Life. (Phil. 2:16.) True, it has been held forth in my hands (powers), but never as my Word. Hence in no sense have I, as a pope, taken the place of Christ before his Church.
Indeed, time and again I have seen that the teachings of those who make utterances of their own, but in the name of Christ, by claimed inspiration, or special revelations, or boasted wisdom (which is the real spirit of popery), and without proof from the Scripture, are received by many. And I am confident that the DAWN and TOWER would have many more friends and believers if they followed this (popery's) course;--for as some one has said, "People prefer to be humbugged." But such a course I dare not follow; I must be true to the Lord and declare his Word, and let him take charge of the consequences.
The world will be deceived, and merely so-called Christians also; because error will come in the way that will appeal to their expectations --boastfully: but God is now seeking a special "little flock" which always hearkens to the voice of the Chief Shepherd, and flees from all undershepherds who do not echo his words and have his spirit of meekness and simplicity.--Phil. 3:16-18.
And now about brother-colporteurs: I know from your previous letters that you owe very much to some of them for kindly Christian assistance in the truth and in colporteur methods. I feel sure that to some extent you have misapprehended their no doubt well-meant remarks; but I regret that any of them should be so unwise in their utterances, even though their hearts were entirely right in the matter. I have too much confidence in them all to suppose that any would remain in this harvest work if he had lost confidence in the tools with which the work is being prosecuted;--the DAWN and TOWER through which they learned of "the harvest" and found an entrance into it. When you become better acquainted with them, you will, I believe, fully concur with me that they are a very noble, self-sacrificing and humble band of the Lord's disciples; and will love them every one, as I do.
The only explanation I can offer of the language you quote is that possibly he thought you were in danger of loving the servant who showed you the truth more than the Lord who gave it to you through the servant. And let us hope it was zeal for the Lord that led him to the other extreme. [R1536 : page 169]
The remark, that "all of the Bible is not true," may merely have meant that some very ancient manuscripts of the Bible, found within the last fifty years, show that a few verses here and there in our common English Bible are really no part of the Bible proper, as it came from the apostles, but were added by unknown parties somewhere between the fifth and tenth centuries. (Of these are Mark 16:9-20; John 21:25; Matt. 23:14; and parts of 1 John 5:7,8 and of Rev. 20:5; besides a few of very [R1537 : page 169] minor importance, affecting the sense little or nothing.) Or he may have been drifting, as so many are in these days, into a general doubt of the Bible, and of all except their own so-called "higher criticism:" If so, we trust that the article on "The Twelve Apostles," may prove helpful. It was intended to meet just such doubts and questionings and has already been blessed to many of the "sheep." Or he may have meant that the translators might at times have used to advantage other words than those they did use. But, whichever was his thought, his expression was unwise; because his meaning was not made clear to you, and led you into doubts and fears and questionings, instead of establishing you in the Faith.
The same would be my construction of the unwise expression you mention relative to DAWN and TOWER. Probably the meaning was that a few typographical errors had come to his attention; or that, if he were to set himself about it, he could clothe the thoughts in other language which he would think preferable. But as for his holding variant views on any doctrine of importance taught in the DAWN and TOWER, I think that very improbable; and hence that his wiser way would have been to have ignored motes and trifles unworthy to be mentioned with the blessed truths now shining upon and refreshing us all. (And I may here answer one of your questions by saying that, if I knew of errors in the DAWN, I assuredly would contradict and correct them.)
Besides, let us remember that the colporteurs also are fallible, and often subjects of special temptations,--as are all public representatives of the truth. (Matt. 18:1; Luke 22:24; Num. 16:3-9.) If you engage again as a colporteur, dear Brother, you may have more temptation on this line than thus far, and will be able to sympathize more heartily with others and to help them.
While, as you have possibly noticed, the DAWN gives only so much prominence to the name of the author as seemed necessary,--omitting it entirely from the usual places on the cover and title page--and while we have never offered objections to the many who have quoted at length from our writings without mentioning them (but on the contrary have rejoiced to have the truth proclaimed from any motive--Phil. 1:15-18), yet our observation, covering several years, is that those who love the truth, but are ashamed of the channel through which God sends it, never prosper in it, but finally lose it as well as its spirit. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that exalteth himself shall be abased," is God's rule; and God's blessing will come to us along that line or not at all.
Should the temptation ever come to you, to seek to show your wisdom by magnifying a minor difference between yourself and another of the Lord's servants, reject the thought as a temptation from the devil, and do the very reverse; --minimize differences, and endeavor to mind the same things and to be of one mind and one spirit with all who love the Lord.-- 1 Cor. 1:10.
Let ambition of the flesh die in you, dear Brother, and take instead that "fervency of spirit, serving the Lord," which the Apostle enjoins;--an ambition to be and to do, simply and solely, to please and to serve our great Redeemer, and through him the Father. To do this, "Keep yourself in the love of God," and "let it dwell in you richly and abound."
C. T. RUSSELL.
THE REMEDY CO-EXTENSIVE WITH THE CURSE. --ROM. 5:12-21.--
IN READING this scripture, some who are unable to follow the Apostle's argument have become somewhat confused and therefore request assistance.
The difficulty with such probably arises from the fact that they have failed to notice that verses 13-17 are parenthetic, and that the main line of the Apostle's argument passes from verse 12 to verse 18, irrespective of the parenthesis, which is merely incidental, being introduced to offset a misapprehension on the part of the Jews to the effect that their law covenant conflicted with the new covenant in Christ, of which Paul was a minister. It was difficult for the [R1537 : page 170] Jews to accept the fact that under the new covenant there was no difference made between Jew and Gentile, but that "the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him."--Rom. 10:12.
In verses 12,18-21, the Apostle is showing that by one man sin entered into the world, and death as the penalty for sin; and that this sentence of death passed upon all men because all had sinned--not all individually, but as represented in Adam, in whose loins we all were. "Therefore," he adds, verse 18, "as by the offence of one [Adam] sentence came upon all men to condemnation; even so [by the same law of heredity] by the righteousness of one [of the one who gave his life a ransom] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life; for as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many [all of the race who will accept it] be made righteous." In other words, Adam, the head or progenitor of the entire human race, could only bequeath to his posterity the remainder of the ever declining inheritance which he himself possessed-- viz., a spark of life under condemnation to death; but our Lord Jesus, by the payment of the penalty upon Adam, thereby gained the legal right to restore him to life, and in so doing gained the right also to restore all his posterity. And when the "appointed time" for thus restoring life to all the race has come, he, instead of Adam, will be the father, life-giver, or head of the new race, as it is written, "He shall be called the everlasting Father." (Isa. 9:6.) And the birthright of the race under this head, Christ, unlike that under the first head, Adam, will be life instead of death. And that birthright can never be taken away unless forfeited by individual wilful transgression against the known righteous law of God with full ability to keep it.
Thus we see that the gist of the Apostle's argument is to prove that by the law of legal heredity the race which, by the working of this law, inherited death from its first head, Adam, will, by the same law inherit life from its second head or re-generator, Christ, and that the remedy is co-extensive with the curse. This being the substance of his argument, it is, of course, presumable that his parenthetic remarks are not in opposition to, but in harmony with it. Thus we read--
Verse 13--"For until [previous to] the law [of Moses and the law covenant with Israel] sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law." Consequently there must have been a law, and a covenant based upon that law, previous to the law of Moses. What law was that? It was the law of God originally inscribed, not upon tables of stone, but upon the heart of the first perfect man, and which was gradually more or less effaced in his posterity, because they did not like to retain a knowledge of it. (Rom. 1:28.) That law, whether ignored or recognized, has always been in the world, and sin against that law has always been imputed to men.
Verse 14. "Nevertheless [although the Mosaic law had not yet come, to revive in the Jews the knowledge of God], death reigned from Adam to Moses [just the same], even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression [i.e., wilfully; for it reigned over infants as well as over those capable of personal sin], who is the figure [type] of him that was to come [of Christ, the second head of the race]." Thus it is manifest that all mankind were born under the original law, the authority of which was never disannulled, and under which all were condemned representatively in Adam, the first head of the race, but who, thank God, in this office of headship was a type of a second head, through which our deliverance should come.
Verse 15. "But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. [The results of the offence and the free gift are entirely different.] For if through the offence of one [Adam, the] many be dead [under the condemnation to death], much more the grace [favor] of God, and the gift [of life] by grace [by the divine favor], hath abounded unto many." From the one head we inherit death: from the other, the re-generator, we shall inherit life.
Verse 16. "And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the sentence was by one [offence] to condemnation, but the free [R1537 : page 171] gift is [the forgiveness] of many offences unto justification." Note the contrast of the one and the many here, the object of which is to increase our estimation of the value of the free gift.
Verse 17. "For if by one man's offence death reigned by [that] one [Adam], much more they which receive abundance of grace [of divine favor] and of the gift of [imputed] righteousness [the righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith] shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ [who has not only purchased us and covered us with the robe of his own imputed righteousness, but who will also completely eliminate sin from our nature so that men shall have an actual righteousness of their own, entitling them to reign in life as kings of the earthly dominion which God at first gave to Adam]."
Thus by these parenthetic remarks, which are seen to be in perfect harmony with the main argument, the Jews were shown that their law covenant did not in the least interfere with the original sentence to death of the entire race (all in Adam), nor with the consequent gracious provision of life for all mankind, through Christ, and not for the Jews alone.
Verse 20. After clearly announcing that the remedy for sin was co-extensive with the penalty (verses 18,19), the apostle--reading the inquiry in the Jewish mind as to the object of the Mosaic law, if it were not intended to give life--further adds, "Moreover the law [the Mosaic law] entered that the offence might abound. [It brought with it a clearer knowledge of the will of God, and therefore an increased sense of sin, and an increased responsibility which made transgressions even more blameworthy. But what of it? Did God mean only to afflict Israel more heavily than the rest of the world? By no means.] But where sin abounded [where the clearer knowledge of the law of God was given, which enabled them also the more fully to see their short-comings and brought upon them the greater responsibility], grace did much more abound [Israel had many special favors, as well as chastisements, from God]: that as sin hath reigned unto death [both in Israel and in the world], even so [both in Israel and in the world] might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.
FACE TO FACE WITH TROUBLE.You are face to face with trouble,
And the skies are murk and gray;
You hardly know which way to turn,
You are almost dazed, you say.
And at night you wake to wonder
What the next day's news will bring;
Your pillow is brushed by phantom care
With a grim and ghastly wing.
You are face to face with trouble;
A child has gone astray;
A ship is wrecked on the bitter sea;
There's a note you cannot pay;
Your brave right hand is feeble;
Your sight is growing blind;
Perhaps a friend is cold and stern,
Who was ever warm and kind.
You are face to face with trouble;
No wonder you cannot sleep;
But stay, and think of the promise,
The Lord will safely keep,
And lead you out of the thicket,
And into the pasture land.
You have only to walk straight onward,
Holding the dear Lord's hand.
You are face to face with trouble;
And did you forget to look,
As the good old father taught you,
For help to the dear old Book?
You have heard the tempter whisper,
And you've had no heart to pray,
And God has dropped from your scheme of life,
Oh! for many a weary day!
Then face to face with trouble:
It is thus He calls you back
From the land of dearth and famine
To the land that has no lack.
You would not hear in the sunshine;
You hear in the midnight gloom.
Behold, His tapers kindle
Like stars in the quiet room.
Oh! face to face with trouble,
Friend, I have often stood;
To learn that pain has sweetness,
To know that God is good.
Arise and meet the daylight;
Be strong and do your best!
With an honest heart, and a childlike faith
That God will do the rest.
STUDIES IN THE OLD 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.
II. QUAR., LESSON XII., JUNE 18, MAL. 3:1-12.
Golden Text--"They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels"-- Mal. 3:17.
This prophecy is addressed to Israel. It is a reproof for their wayward and evil course and a warning of the just retribution that must surely follow, if they do not repent and turn to God. Malachi was the last of the Hebrew prophets: his name signifies, The Messenger of Jehovah. He was the last messenger to Israel previous to John the baptist the immediate forerunner of Christ, the great Messenger of Jehovah's covenant (verse 1); and well would it have been for Israel had they heeded the warning and prepared their hearts to receive the Lord's Anointed. But this they, with the exception of a small remnant, failed to do. The promised messenger, John the baptist, came to prepare the way of the Lord, preaching repentance and remission of sins, and announcing the advent of the great "Messenger of the Covenant" made with Abraham, that in his seed should all the families of the earth be blessed.--Gen. 22:18.
But when the Lord suddenly came to his temple (the Jewish temple), they were unprepared to receive him. They were unprepared to recognize the king in his beauty, or to stand the tests of character there applied to prove their worthiness of the blessings promised in the Abrahamic covenant. But a few, a small remnant, were found ready. In meekness and humility they inclined their hearts to the testimony of the prophets, of John the baptist, of the teachings and work of Jesus of Nazareth, and of the voice from heaven which declared, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Such became inheritors of the Abrahamic covenant; but the nation as a whole, to whom, as the seed of Abraham, pertained the promises, lost the blessing, and received instead the fiery baptism of trouble (Mal. 4:1), which in A.D. 70 utterly destroyed their national existence, overthrew their holy city, destroyed their temple, and scattered them as fugitives among the nations, where they have been hated and persecuted, even to this day.
While it is clear that the prophecy thus addressed to Israel applied to them primarily, it is also manifest, as shown by the Lord and the apostles, that it had a much wider application; and that in a yet fuller sense it was addressed to spiritual Israel, [R1538 : page 172] of which fleshly Israel was a type; and that it applies to the second advent of the great "Messenger of the covenant," whose work will fully accomplish all these predictions.
In the largest and fullest sense, therefore, we recognize this prophecy by Malachi as addressed to "both the houses of Israel;" --to all Israel after the flesh, toward the close of the Jewish dispensation, and subsequently to all of nominal spiritual Israel, toward the close of the Gospel dispensation. To the latter, as well as to the former, therefore, belong all the expostulations and warnings of this prophecy; and well would it be for them if they would heed the warnings. But, like their prototype, they will not do so. Only a remnant of nominal spiritual Israel heed the Word of the Lord, and to them, therefore, belong the blessings of his special favor.--Mal. 3:16,17; 4:2,3.
CHAPTER 3:1. The messenger who was to prepare the way of the Lord at his second advent, the antitype of Elias and of John the baptist, was the Church militant, the Church on earth, whose mission has been to preach among all nations the gospel of the kingdom and the second coming of Christ, the King, in power and great glory. But this testimony of the Church, like that of John the baptist, has failed to bring peace and good will among men, and consequently the predicted curse (chap. 4:5,6)--the great "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation" (Dan. 12:1)--is about to follow.
This true Church in the flesh, in the spirit and power of Elias, has been the forerunner of Christ at his second advent. And even now we have the privilege of realizing that this glorious Messenger of the covenant, in whom we delight, has come to his temple --the elect Church. By the sure word of prophecy we recognize his presence. See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., Chaps. v., vi. [R1538 : page 173]
VERSES 2-5. "But who may abide the day of his coming?" etc. His coming is to judgment; for he is now the Judge of all the earth; all judgment is committed unto him. Blessed, indeed, are all those whose hearts are fully consecrated to God and faithful, and who are therefore approved of him. Yet even these shall be tried as gold in the fire until all their dross is eliminated and the refiner can see reflected in them his own glorious image. Then, indeed, are the sacrifices of such "pleasant unto the Lord."
VERSE 5 declares, "I will come near to you [to the great systems which compose nominal spiritual Israel--all Christendom, so-called] to judgment. [And who cannot see in the doctrinal conflicts and in the severe handling and criticism of the creeds of Christendom to-day that the judgment has already begun?] And I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers [against those who obey and teach doctrines of devils in the name of Christianity, and thereby plunge men deeper and deeper into sin and degradation]; and against the adulterers [those who, while claiming to be the virgin of Christ, are living in unholy alliance with the world, whether it be as individuals or as religious systems professedly Christians, yet joined to and dependent upon the civil powers]; and against false swearers [those who have made a covenant with the Lord of entire consecration to him, and yet have been unfaithful]; and against those that oppose the hireling in his wages," etc. The judgment will indeed be a close one; for every work is to be brought into judgment, with every secret thing. (Eccl. 12:14.) And it is even now begun: this is the significance of the present overturning and re-examination of every hoary dogma--civil and religious, and no power on earth can end the investigation until it has probed and exposed in all their details every evil thing.
VERSE 6. Were it not for the enduring mercy of the Lord the workers of iniquity would surely be consumed.
VERSE 7. Prompt repentance even at this critical juncture would save the "Christian world" (?), "Christendom," from the great impending scourge. But they do not realize their condition, and are not willing to admit that they have robbed God of that which is rightly his. They have robbed him of his honor by affirming the doctrine of eternal torment, thus ascribing to God a character blacker even than Satan's. And, while they claim to be the Lord's children and his representatives in the world, their vows are not paid unto the Lord. Their words are stout against him, and they count it a vain thing to serve him in truth and sincerity.
But the few (among the masses of the unfaithful), who do reverence the Lord and walk in his ways, are his jewels, and shall be spared in the evil day that is coming upon the whole world. And not only will they be spared, but they will be the Lord's peculiar treasure--"They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels." (Verse 17.) To this faithful class, now gathered out of the great masses of nominal spiritual Israel, as well as to a similar class gathered out of nominal fleshly Israel in the harvest of the Jewish age, belong the precious promises of this prophecy. The elect remnant of fleshly Israel, including the apostles and all the faithful of the early Church, and the elect remnant of nominal spiritual Israel, the consecrated and faithful, will together constitute the body of Christ, and, with their Head, will soon be kings and priests unto God--the seed of Abraham in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed during the Millennial reign. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."--Gal. 3:29; Gen. 12:1-4. [R1538 : page 173]
LESSON XIII., JUNE 25.
Golden Text--"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."--Prov. 3:6.
The preceding verse should be a part of this golden text, as it forms part of the condition of the promised blessing. It reads, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding."
This is the blessed privilege of all the sons of God; and years of experience of many precious saints testify that the Lord is always faithful to those who put their trust in him, look for his leading and gratefully acknowledge his faithfulness. Let those who would prove his faithfulness trust him more and more, and cease to lean to their own understanding, and they will be brought to an increasing realization of their heavenly Father's love and care and providence, and into yet closer bonds of sympathy and fellowship with him.
ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL:-- I want to thank you for the opening article, "From Glory to Glory," in March 1st TOWER. I cannot see in myself such advancement in Christ-likeness as it seems there ought to be in one to whom he has entrusted a knowledge of the truth. I have, perhaps, thought too much of that knowledge, and been too satisfied with the wish to give it to others, and not had care enough in regard to gaining a personal likeness to Christ. But, God helping me, I will more earnestly strive in that direction. Pray for me, dear brother and sister, that I may more than ever fully submit myself to the moulding of God, and that "mallet and chisel and polishing sand" may be used upon me until every particle of the deformity of self has disappeared, and the image of our glorious King is perfectly reflected. Oh! nothing can be too much to suffer if that may be accomplished in me.
MRS. M.R. PECK.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--I enclose clippings from the Times that I think will interest you. If the Times is right, in stating that so large an additional number of Jews is to be driven out of Russia, it looks as if they would be compelled to go to Palestine in large numbers, as no other country will want to receive them while the cholera is threatening.
J. C. BELL, JR.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I pen you these lines in grateful remembrance that I was brought out into the light of God's Word, as it continues to shine unto the perfect day. I have given much time to the investigation of the DAWNS, comparing them with the Bible, and I find a beautiful harmony, leading me to consecrate all my ransomed powers to his blessed will. I have been running for the prize for a number of years, feeling my way as the Lord gave me light. I have been giving truth to the hungry ones with whom I have associated, but had to stay out of the church to which I once belonged. In all sects I met the same opposition, and finally saw clearly that I must come out of all organized bodies. I find one here and one there that welcomes the truth, and have had to go through trials and to suffer the loss of my friends; but I am praising the Lord. Jesus was never more precious than now; and I rejoice to be able, through God's blessing, to send you my subscription for the TOWER for '93. Hope to do more as the Lord prospers me.
S. A. STAPLES.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL:-- As you are interested to know how each one of the harvesters is using the sickle placed in his hand, I will report. I took orders for 90 volumes of DAWN in M__________, a village of about six hundred inhabitants.
I have taken orders in this village for 80 volumes; and expect to canvass another village this week, and to deliver in both places next week. On account of nervous and other troubles, I am obliged to go slowly; and as I have been finding some "ripe wheat," who earnestly request me to converse with them, I occasionally embrace the opportunity to rest.
Oh, how thankful I am that I did finally decide to enter the colporteur work; for I now feel that I cannot afford to give it up. As I told some interested ones to-day, if I were offered work that would pay three times as well, in dollars and cents, I would not be content to drop the Lord's work.
Pray for me, that I may be able to overcome every obstacle and, if need be, to bear up patiently under affliction; that I, with you and all the Lord's dear ones, may stand the sifting; and, having done all, to stand.
J. A. EDMONDS.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER IN CHRIST:-- I have so enjoyed the good things in the last April number of TOWER, also the first number of this month, that I must write.
"The Calling of the Twelve Apostles, their Office and Authority," have always been to me of more than ordinary importance. It is a subject I love to study, and you have presented it just as I have wished for it many time. I never had a desire to know just how the Savior broiled the fish upon the coals, or how much bread he had, or how long it took to eat that divinely prepared [R1538 : page 175] meal; but I have always wished to know, as nearly as possible, the work he gave the apostles to do, and how they did it.
MARY L. JOHNSON.
J. B. ADAMSON.
DEAR BRETHREN:--Please find enclosed a money order for three dollars to cover the accompanying order.
The DAWNS, TOWERS and TRACTS came duly to hand. Yesterday I feasted on the good tidings contained in the TOWER--on the letters from Brothers and Sisters scattered abroad, and especially on the articles "Have not I Chosen You Twelve" and "The Oneness of the Divine Family." How beautiful, simple and touching is the pure gospel--the gospel of love. The prayer of my heart is, "May we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, be changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord." Yours in Him,
W. C. BROWN.
DEAR FRIENDS:--Although we are having rainy weather, the Lord is enabling me to take some orders for DAWN.
Yesterday, at a small village near by, I sold twelve sets and four single volumes, in paper covers, and to-day I found two that want the cloth sets.
I hesitated long, before starting into the work, because I had no confidence in myself; but now I am glad to realize that the Lord is using me; and it affords me inexpressible fulness of joy to be accounted worthy of his service as well as of all the precious promises of the high calling. Oh! that I might overcome! I can, and I will-- "through favor of our God."
ISAAC A. LEHMAN.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I write to say that, through sickness and other causes, I have not been able for a long time to send any "Good Hopes" to the office; but I hope very soon to be able to contribute a mite for the spread of God's blessed truths.
The first number of this month's TOWER came to me on Thursday evening; and if ever a thirsty pilgrim through the desert was refreshed with pure spring water, so was I comforted and refreshed with its strengthening truths on the subject of inspiration. It came to me just at the right time, making my heart glad, and my spirit rejoice, and my lips praise him who gave himself a ransom for all.
The God of our fathers bless you and your dear companion, and all those associated with you in your work of faith and labor of love, with all them that love his appearing and kingdom, is my daily prayer.
MY DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--It is with profound gratitude that I thus address you the joyful intelligence that I have withdrawn from the nominal church, and am now free. I praise the Lord for insight into his glorious plan of the ages, and I shall, by his grace, go on to be one of the overcoming class, which will be qualified to be partakers of the divine nature and made joint-heirs with our dear Lord and Savior.
I would like you to send me some tracts, for, since my withdrawal, three sermons have been preached on the second coming of Christ; and the people seem to be stirred up by them, and also by my statement that Christ has made his second advent and they must not expect to see him with their natural eyes. [R1539 : page 175]
[We rejoice with you in present freedom. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!
Have sent some tracts; but next time please suggest how many you think you can use judiciously. We do not wish to send too few--nor yet to waste the tracts by sending too many.
While the knowledge of our Lord's presence is very precious to "them that believe," it is rather "strong meat" for "babes in Christ." Let me suggest that to whatever extent we may have opportunities for speaking his truth, in our Master's name, we will do well to remember his words--"Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves." "Milk is for babes," says the apostle; therefore give to such the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby." (1 Pet. 2:2.) Begin with "a ransom for ALL;" proceed gradually "to be testified in due time;" [R1539 : page 176] then show the blessed object of Christ's second coming and Kingdom; next the manner; and, finally, to the few who have interestedly and intelligently followed you thus far, point out the fact of the Lord's presence, as foretold by the prophets, and as confirmed by the wonderful events of "the harvest" and "the day of the Lord," now in progress. The Lord bless and use you in his service!--EDITOR.]
BRO. RUSSELL:--I wish to thank you, as the means in God's hands, for delivering me out of long ignorance and bondage. If it will not tire you, I would like to give you a little of my experience.
In the first place, Food for Thinking Christians [now out of print] came into my hands, in answer to prayer for light. Then you sent me the TOWER, which I accepted as food for the hungry. I saw some light at that time, but it was all so new; and, though I came out of the Presbyterian church and was immersed, I soon succumbed to the opposition of my friends. They called me a fool, and said that if I did not let religion alone I would soon be in the insane asylum. I replied that true religion never made people crazy, though the lack of it often did. However, my health was poor, and I became tired of so much opposition. I stopped talking and thinking about the truth, and discontinued the TOWER. I thought that in this way I would have peace; but I was not happy. When I went to church, I was not satisfied; for there I received nothing to feed a hungry soul. Often something would say to me, 'Take the TOWER again;' but I would silence it by saying, 'I do not want to renew opposition.'
I wonder now that the Lord did not let me go; but he did not; for, though I was drifting, not rowing as I ought, my faith stood fast. At last I awoke to a sense of my condition; but Satan stepped in, and suggested that I join the Baptist church, as that was nearly right, and that, if I went regularly to its meetings, I would be kept from again going to sleep. But I soon saw my mistake, renewed my subscription to the TOWER, and purchased the DAWNS. I felt uneasy and guilty, remaining in the church; could compare myself only to the children of Israel, when they said, "Give us the flesh pots of Egypt again;" but, thank God, I withdrew from it some time since, and am now free. I am free with the liberty wherewith Christ has made me free, and with his help, I will never again be entangled with the yoke of bondage. I can truly say that the Lord is long suffering and kind: I know he did not entirely cast me off; for, had he done so, I would not now be progressing in the Light.
Brother Russell, I have obeyed the command in 1 John 4:1, and I find that you do teach the truth. It is plain and gloriously grand. It makes God a God with a purpose, not a haphazard being, outwitted by Satan.
I have placed DAWN in the hands of quite a number; and I will copy a portion of a letter written to a friend by a young man who has read it.
"Dear Brother:--I guess you think I have taken your book and appropriated it to myself. I have been reading it, and thanking God that you brought it to my notice. It is indeed a revelation, and has sent a glow of more intelligent faith into my life. I have purchased one, and so return yours with many thanks for your kindness. I shall read the book again and study it carefully; for I am convinced that it contains germs of truth which are almost unknown to the larger part of the world. It has wonderfully deepened my knowledge of God's great plan toward men."
Now I wish to send him the TOWER for one year. I feel I must be like Andrew: I do not amount to much, still I may be the means, in God's hands, of calling a Peter to the Lord's work; so I will still try to scatter the truth, hoping to bring some to the light. I also enclose $5.00 to use as you see fit, knowing that you will use it to the best purpose for the Lord.
MRS. C. CUNNINGHAM.
DEAR BRETHREN:--I send greeting to you all, and ask you to remember us, here, who are trying to proclaim the truth. We are persecuted on every hand, though I think we are gaining some ground. I am very thankful that my eyes have been opened to the light. The article, "The Twelve Chosen Apostles," in the last issue of TOWER gave me great comfort. I am glad to understand that they were set apart for a special purpose and that we may have full confidence in their writings. May the Lord bless you all.
J. L. WALDRUP.
ZION'S WATCH TOWER AND HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH.
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY,
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C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR; MRS. C. T. RUSSELL, ASSOCIATE.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $1.00 A YEAR, IN ADVANCE,
INCLUDES ALSO A SUBSCRIPTION, FOR ONE YEAR,
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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.
In our issue of May 1st we defended the inspiration of the apostolic writings and teachings; in the S.S. Lesson of this issue we treat a supposed objection to Paul's course with Barnabas; and in our next we expect to show that the Apostle Paul's teachings relative to woman and her relationship to man, and to God's plan, are in perfect accord with sanctified reason,-- and give no ground for objection to the Apostle's inspiration. [R1539 : page 178]
THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM IN GREAT BRITAIN.
Ever since our return from Europe we have had an earnest desire to see the truth scattered with liberal hand in Great Britain and Ireland. The people there seemed to us particularly ready for the truth; because, while freedom seemed to prevail, there it had not run into infidelity as so often appeared elsewhere.
But although an agency for DAWN was established (in London), and although a number of friends there are very zealous in circulating the truth, the colporteur-work, the chief agency for preaching these Kingdom truths, never seemed to prosper. The fault we believe lies in the friends' not knowing how to do it; and we have arranged with Brother S.D. Rogers (who has been extremely successful here, both as a Colporteur and as an instructor of Colporteurs) to go to England, meet those who earnestly long to be in the work, if they can but make expenses, and give them practical lessons.
And thus under the Lord's blessing we trust a great work will be started in England, Scotland and Ireland. And here we might remark that Brother Boehmer, who recently went to Germany, writes us that he is getting started and has hopes that he will be able to meet his expenses there; but that if not he will gladly join in the crusade in Great Britain.
Now, we want to hear at once from all the Brethren and Sisters in Great Britain and Ireland, who are free from family encumbrances, and anxious to spend their lives in preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, by the sale of DAWNS;--the way which the Lord seems to have specially prepared and to be specially blessing, in the present harvest work. We cannot promise earthly wealth as the reward of earnest toil in this service for the Lord; but we can, from experience here, assure the unencumbered the "things needful" and joy and peace and spiritual blessing in this present time; and to all the faithful and persevering, in every department of his service, the Lord promises "treasure in heaven"--glory, honor and immortality.
After writing to us of your desire to enter the work, with particulars respecting your age, size, previous occupation, etc., begin to shape your affairs and your prayers to the proposed course. Brother Rogers may be expected in England in September; and those who write may expect to be fully notified of arrangements. page 178
COLPORTEURS, TAKE NOTICE!
Colporteurs need not hereafter send in to us all the addresses to which they deliver DAWNS, but merely keep note of those found to be specially interested, who do not subscribe for the TOWER. Send in such with each Semi-monthly Report--on separate card or letter sheet.
The Semi-monthly Reports, for which blank have been furnished, are expected from all colporteurs, and are requested to be mailed on the 1st and 16th of each month. These should be kept separate from orders for which other blanks are provided.
Routes given to Colporteurs are expected to be followed strictly. This is necessary to the proper conduct of the work and to prevent confusion, as the number of "harvest" laborers is increasing.
The Swedish and Dano-Norwegian translations of Millennial Dawn, Vol. I. are in the hands of the type-setters. We hope to have them ready about September next.
[R1539 : page 179]
"Watchman, What of the Night?" "The Morning Cometh, and a Night also!" Isaiah 21:11
VOL. XIV. JUNE 15, 1893. NO. 12. BAPTISM AND ITS IMPORT.
THAT our Lord and his apostles practised and enjoined upon all their followers-- "even to the end of the world" or present dispensation--an outward rite called baptism, in which water was used in some manner, cannot reasonably be questioned. This was not only the case during our Lord's ministry in the end of the Jewish age, but also under the Spirit dispensation after Pentecost, as is abundantly proved by the Scriptural record.--Acts 2:41; 8:12,36,38; 9:18; 10:47,48; 16:15,33; 18:8; 19:3-5; 22:16.
Nor is it correct to assume, as some do, that baptism belonged among the ceremonies of the Jewish Law, and that it, with all other features of that Law, ended at the cross (when our Lord "made an end of the Law, nailing it to his cross"); for baptism was not a part of the Jewish Law. The washings enjoined in the Law, performed at the laver in the court of the tabernacle, were neither immersions nor sprinklings, but simply cleansings, and were not practised upon the people. The one tribe of Levi alone had access to the court of the tabernacle and to the laver which stood between the gate and the tabernacle.--Exod. 30:18-21.
Nor will it do to say, with others, that the apostles, on coming out of Judaism, erred for a while; that they failed at first to discern that the [R1540 : page 179] real baptism was that of the holy Spirit at Pentecost, and improperly kept up the water baptism after the Jewish age, to which it belonged. In this, as in the matter of not eating with the uncircumcised, they claim Peter erred, and others of the apostles with him to some extent. They claim, too, that Paul confesses to an error when he says (1 Cor. 1:14-16), "I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius...and the household of Stephanas;" also when he says (Col. 2:20,21), "Why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances--touch not, taste not, handle not."
Thus an apparently strong argument is built up, the fallacy of which many do not discern. This is the result of a too superficial examination of the subject, and a jumping at conclusions from certain texts whose connections have not been thoroughly studied nor understood.
As already shown, baptism was not a feature of the Law Covenant; hence it was not at all a part of that which our Lord ended and cancelled at the cross. It is a great mistake to class baptism, which is a symbol of the New Covenant, with the "ordinances" of the Jewish Law Covenant mentioned by the Apostle. (Col. 2:20,23.) In verse 14 he shows that he refers to ordinances that were against the Jews, i.e., which restricted their liberties. Can any one say this of baptism? In what sense is it against any one?
What the Apostle does refer to as the Law "ordinances," contrary to or against the Jew, were ceremonies and fastings, celebrations of the new moons and sabbaths, (verse 16), and particularities about the eating of clean and unclean animals, the wearing of clothing made of linen and wool mixed, etc. These ordinances included not only those originally introduced [R1540 : page 180] by Moses, but also others subsequently added by the Scribes and Pharisees who sat "in Moses' seat." (Matt. 23:2.) These forms and ceremonies had become so complex and bewildering a mass that those who attempted a strict observance of them found them extremely burdensome--a yoke of bondage. Our Lord referred to the same bondage and weariness (Matt. 23:4); and, again (Matt. 11:28-30), to the same class he held out grace instead of the Law, as the only way of life, saying, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden [with the Law's unprofitable and multitudinous ordinances--which, because of your weak, fallen condition cannot profit, but only annoy and weary you, and are therefore 'against' you], and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
It is furthermore evident that baptism is not one of the ordinances referred to in Col. 2:14, when we read to the contrary in verse 12, that we who are buried with Christ in baptism are therefore (even if Jews formerly under the Law Covenant) not liable or subject to the ordinances of verse 14. Thus baptism is placed in contrast with the ceremonies of the Law.
The idea that baptism does not belong to the Gospel age, but ended at the cross, is again proved erroneous by the fact that it was after his resurrection, during the forty days before his ascension, that our Lord, while giving special instruction concerning the new dispensation, or Gospel age, specially mentioned baptism as the outward symbol by which believers were to confess him--"even to the consummation of the age" then just begun.-- Matt. 28:18-20.
And those who claim that proper baptism is that of the holy Spirit only, and that water baptism is therefore wrong, should be effectually silenced and converted from their error by the Master's commission to his Church to preach and baptize to the end of the age. For how could the disciples baptize any one with the holy spirit? Surely that is God's part. On the other hand, the Lord's words could not have meant that his followers should teach all nations, and that those who believe would be baptized with the holy spirit by God, for then why would he give particular directions to the disciples as to how it should be done--"In the name [or by the authority] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit"--? It is evident that our Lord's directions refer to the symbol, to water baptism only; because we can do no more for others than to teach and symbolically to baptize them: we cannot believe for them, nor make them believe; neither can we consecrate for them, nor make them consecrate. But we can teach them, and, when they believe for themselves and consecrate for themselves, we can baptize them in water. And by this act they confess their faith in Christ's death and resurrection, and their own consecration to be dead to the world and alive toward God, that in due time they may share in Christ's resurrection.
Furthermore, God specially recognized water baptism under the Spirit dispensation by in some cases withholding certain "gifts" (miraculous manifestations conferred upon believers in the beginning of this age, for the purpose of manifesting God's approval of the teachings of the gospel) until the water baptism had been properly performed (Acts 19:3-6); as in another case the gifts were bestowed first, to teach Peter that water baptism and every other feature of the gospel favor were open to the Gentiles.--Acts 10:44-48.
When the Apostle Paul thanked God that of the Corinthian Church he had baptized only a few (1 Cor. 1:11-17), he was not assuming that he had since become wiser than to do so again--wiser than the Master who commanded his disciples to teach and to baptize unto the close of the age--but for totally different reasons: reasons which only those who read the entire epistle to the Corinthians connectedly can recognize. He had heard that the church at Corinth was split into factions, divisions (literally, sects), some calling themselves Paulites, others Apollosites, others Peterites and others Christians. He was sure he had in no way aided such sectarianism, and was glad he could say, I never authorized you to call yourselves [R1540 : page 181] by my name. Were you baptized into the name of Paul, or into the name of Christ? Since the majority were Paulites, and since Paul had founded the church at Corinth, it might appear to some that he had been seeking to make converts to himself--Paulites instead of Christians; and, as it resulted thus, he was glad to have it to say, that very few of those calling themselves Paulites had been baptized by him, as he said--"Lest any should say, I baptized in mine own name."
The great Apostle has been ignominiously styled "The blear-eyed Jew," and there is little room for doubt that, after he was struck down in the way to Damascus (Acts 9:4,8), he never fully recovered his sight. This "thorn" (figurative) he besought the Lord thrice to remove, but it was left as a reminder of previous error, and hence served to keep Paul humble in the service of that Master whom he had once persecuted. (2 Cor. 12:7.) It was probably because of this difficulty that, when on trial, he did not recognize the High-priest, whom he would otherwise have known by his peculiar garb (Acts 23:5); and for the same reason that all of his epistles were written by an amanuensis--except one, and that one of the shortest of them, closing with a statement which indicated that he could write only with difficulty and that his readers could appreciate this, knowing his disadvantages. He says: "Ye see how large [with what large characters-- indicating that he could not see to write a fine hand] a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand." (Gal. 6:11.) Again, when wishing to mention their love for him, and their willingness to do for him the most useful service, he says to them (Gal. 4:15), "I bear you record that, if possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me." And it was evidently for this same reason that Paul never baptized any of his converts when he could avoid it--when others were present who could see to the service better than he.
Even had Paul's sight been good, the facts that he was a more able preacher than others, and that many could baptize as well as he, would have been sufficient reasons for his course; for it was thus with the Master, as we read (John 4:1,2), "Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John; though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples." Judging from his unfitness for performing baptism, and his talent for teaching, Paul concluded that preaching, and not baptizing, was his special mission (1 Cor. 1:17), though his own record shows that, when occasion required and no one else was convenient to render the service, he did not allow even his own unfitness to hinder or prevent this obedience to the Master's precept and example.
WHO ARE TO BE BAPTIZED?
Our Lord authorized first the teaching of the gospel, and then the baptism of such as believed in him as the Redeemer, and accepted the gospel call to become his followers. The apostles followed this rule, and we have no testimony anywhere that they baptized others--neither unbelievers, nor infants, nor idiots. True, it is recorded that several "households" were baptized, and from this it is argued that probably there were infants in some of those families, and that therefore it is probable that infants were baptized, though none are mentioned. But, we answer, some families contain idiots, and some families number one or more unbelievers; shall we therefore conclude without [R1541 : page 181] other evidence that the apostles disregarded our Lord's command, and baptized unbelievers? Nay, verily! It is far more reasonable to conclude that in the few cases where households are mentioned they consisted of only adult believers; or that, since the custom or general usage would prevent misunderstanding, it was proper enough to say "household," even if there were in them children too young to be "believers," and who therefore would be understood as not included among those baptized.
THE FORM OF BAPTISM.
The Greek language is remarkable for its clear and definite expression of thought, and it was therefore well fitted to give expression to divine truth. Its flexibility is well illustrated in the following words, each expressing a different [R1541 : page 182] shade of thought, yet all having a similar significance. Thus cheo signifies to pour; raino, to sprinkle; louo, to wash or bathe; nipto, to wash a part of the person; bathizo (from bathos, the bottom), to immerse or plunge deep; rantizo (from raino), to sprinkle or shed forth; bapto, to dip or dye; baptizo, to dip, immerse or cover.
This last word, baptizo (rendered baptize in the common version Bible), is used by our Lord and his apostles when referring to an ordinance which they practised, as well as enjoined upon all followers of the Lamb. From this word, selected from among so many others of various shades of meaning, it is clear that a sprinkling or even a washing of a part of the person was not the thought, but an immersion or covering of the whole person--whatever it implies. Immersed is the correct translation; for baptized, as rendered in our common English Bibles, is not a translation at all, but a mere transfer of the Greek word into the English. Immersed is the English word which corresponds in meaning to the Greek word baptizo.
Not only does the Greek word signify to bury, immerse or cover, but the connected Scripture narrative of itself, without the particular strictness of the Greek word used, would imply that the baptism was one of immersion and not of sprinkling. The English, as well as the Greek, shows that our Lord went down into the water and came up out of the water. And the Apostle Paul frequently speaks of baptism as a burial, which would be a very inappropriate figure with any other form than that of immersion.
It has been suggested by some that in the case of the jailor who believed and was straightway baptized (Acts 16:33) the baptism could not have been by immersion, because he and the others could not have left the jail for the purpose; but, on the contrary, it is now known that at that time the jails were provided with bathing reservoirs, most suitable for the immersions. And, furthermore, it is to be remembered that of John the Baptizer it is written, "John was baptizing at AEnon near to Salim, because there was much water there." (John 3:23.) No one can for a moment suppose that if John sprinkled his converts, the largeness of the water supply would have been a consideration. It was probably at a pool in the river Jordan.
It is generally admitted by scholars that immersion was the common practice of the early Church; but with the beginning of the third century came great confusion on this as on other subjects. On the one hand some placed all the value upon the form, some even insisting on three immersions, because our Lord had said in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, not seeing that in the name of simply signifies in recognition of; others claimed that as our Lord's head bowed forward in dying on the cross so they should be immersed, not as in a burial, but face downward; others insisted that the baptized must be nearly naked, as our Lord was when he died; and still others went to an opposite extreme, and, while holding that a form was all important, claimed that the exact form was unimportant, and for convenience substituted sprinkling.
This latter finally became the standard mode in the church of Rome, from which it reached Protestants. Immersion, however, is still the recognized form in the oriental churches. As we shall show presently, all these errors as to form, resulted from losing sight of the real significance of baptism. A claim frequently made, but not generally appreciated by those who make it, is that the Greek word baptizo, though it generally is used in referring to some thing or process (as the dying of cloth) which requires dipping, has been found in classical Greek writings used in places where the evident thought was that of washing without dipping. To this we answer that the word baptizo is not limited to a certain form of action, but rather carries the broad idea, to cover. And, so far as the word goes, the entire person is baptized if the entire person is wet, or covered with water in any manner.* But if the entire
*An illustration of this use of the word is found in 1 Cor. 10:1,2. The Apostle declares that all Israel were baptized (immersed) into Moses, and gives as the form, that they were covered with water (though not wet); the walls of the sea being on either hand and the clouds of water over head.
[R1541 : page 183] person to be baptized should be wet, or covered with water, who will claim that dipping was not the original as well as the easiest method of doing this?
WHO MAY IMMERSE?
No limitations are mentioned in the Scriptures as to who shall perform this ceremony of baptizing believers in water, though only the Church was ever commissioned, either to teach or to baptize. Although knowledge on the part of the one performing the ceremony is not required, it is, of course, desirable; but both faith and knowledge are necessary on the part of the one immersed. Sometimes the one performing the ceremony may be far inferior in every way to the one for whom it is performed (Matt. 3:14); and he might even, if necessary, be a believer not of the Kingdom or Church class. (Matt. 11:11.) Certainly all who are authorized to teach, are equally authorized to baptize; and that includes every true follower of Christ--"even to the end of the age," according to the general call to the ministry, commission and ordination of Matt. 28:19,20 and John 17:14-23. And this commission evidently does not exclude from this service the females of the "body of Christ" (Gal. 3:28), only that modesty, convenience, etc., indicate that they should avoid such public services except in rare cases of necessity.
THE SIGNIFICATION OF IMMERSION.
In considering the signification of immersion, the change from the Jewish to the Gospel dispensation must be recognized. The Jews, by their covenant, the Law, occupied a relationship toward God very different from that of the Gentiles (who were without God or hope-- Eph. 2:12); for, by God's arrangement, they were recognized and treated, under the provisions of the typical sacrifices, as though they were justified from Adamic guilt and penalty, and were, as a nation, consecrated to God, and treated as though they were to be made the Bride of Christ. The provision, too, was that when the true Lamb of God should come those truly consecrated among them, "Israelites indeed," might, by accepting the true Lamb and true sin-sacrifice and atonement, enter upon actual justification, and carry with them their former consecration. In other words, an Israelite, consecrated indeed, living at the close of the Jewish age, when the real sacrifice for sins was made by our Lord, would be treated as though he had always had the reality, whereas really he had up to that time only a typical justification.
Therefore, in the opening of the Gospel age, Jews were not preached to in the same manner as Gentiles. The latter were told:--Ye who were once aliens and strangers have been brought nigh, and may now have access to God and may enter into covenant relations with him. Therefore, come to God by Christ who has abolished distinctions between Jews and Gentiles, not by taking favors from the Jews, but by ushering believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, into the blessings and favors of the New Covenant, which the Law Covenant merely typified. (Eph. 2:13-19.) The Jews were told the opposite: "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers....Unto you first, God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away each of you from his iniquities." "Repent, and be baptized, each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the holy Spirit; for the promise is unto you [belongs to you], and to your children."--Acts 3:25,26; 2:38-41.
The point to be noticed is that Israelites were already consecrated, and heirs according to the Law Covenant; and the only reason they, as a nation, had not been merged at once out of the Jewish typical state into the Gospel realities, as the apostles and other individuals had been, was that they had not been living up to their covenant relationship. Hence they were told to repent or turn back into the true covenant relationship with God, and to enjoy their privileges as children of the covenant. They had sinned in not living up to what they could of their covenant, and they were to show that they renounced their previous state of sin by immersion--washing away their transgressions [R1541 : page 184] in symbol, after praying in the name of Christ. (Acts 22:16.) In like manner baptism by John, and by Christ's disciples when confined to the Israelites, signified repentance for covenant violations, and a return to covenant relationship, and was intended as a preparatory work; for those who fully received John's testimony, and reformed, and became Israelites indeed, did receive Christ, and did pass into the higher favors of the Gospel age.--John 5:45-47; Matt. 21:31,32.
To these, already children of the covenant and already heirs of the promised blessings, water baptism meant a renouncing of sins of unfaithfulness, [R1542 : page 184] and more: it meant their renunciation of the national sin of crucifying Christ-- for the rulers representing that nation had said, "His blood be upon us and upon our children." Hence Peter exhorted, saying, "Let all the house of Israel know that this Jesus whom you crucified, God hath made both Lord and Messiah." And when, in view of this national sin which each shared, they inquired, "Brethren! What shall we do?" Peter answered, "Reform and be immersed, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins [and specially for your share in this national sin of crucifying Messiah], and ye shall receive the gift of the holy Spirit." (Acts 2:36-39.) To those who accepted, it meant not only a renunciation of their national error of crucifying Christ, but a stepping out from the dispensation and control of Moses into that of Christ. Because in acknowledging Jesus to be the true Messiah, they were acknowledging him to be the long promised Savior, Lawgiver and Teacher greater than Moses and typified by him.
But baptism could not mean repentance in either of these senses to the Gentiles who had never been under the Jewish Covenant, and who had no direct responsibility for the death of Christ. Hence (after the "elect remnant" of Israel had been received, and the Gospel message went to the Gentiles, to select out of them the number necessary to complete the body of Christ) in the epistles to the Gentile churches we hear no further exhortation to be baptized as a sign of repentance, or as a symbol of washing away of sins. And since we by nature are not Jews, but are of the Gentiles whose fathers were aliens and foreigners so far as God's covenants and promises were concerned, therefore, we should not apply to ourselves that idea of baptism which was applicable only to the Jews, but that idea which the Apostle unfolds in Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12.
The full import of baptism, the reality, of which immersion in water commanded by our Lord is the symbol, is clearly shown by the Apostle in the above cited passages. "Know ye not that as many of us as were immersed into Christ were immersed into HIS DEATH? Those who know this fully, and they alone, truly appreciate the water immersion commanded, and its weighty and appropriate significance.
"IMMERSED INTO CHRIST."
They who see the "high calling" of this Gospel age--to joint-heirship with Christ Jesus our Lord, as members in particular of the "body of Christ," of which the Redeemer is Head and Lord--know that our attainment of that high honor depends upon our acceptableness as members in that body of Christ. (Rom. 12:1; 8:17,18.) They also know that no one is "called" or invited into this "body of Christ"--"the Church of the firstborn"--except those who already are believers, who own Christ as their Redeemer or Justifier, and who are therefore justified freely from all things by faith in his blood. Such, and not sinners, are invited to become joint-sacrificers and joint-heirs with Christ. Under the Law, the blemished of the flock were not acceptable on the Lord's altar, typifying God's rejection during this age of all imperfect offerings. Our Lord was the actually spotless, unblemished, perfect Lamb of God, sacrificed for our sins; and in inviting some to join him in sacrifice, and afterward in glory and honor, the Father accepts only such as are first made "whiter than snow," and who, because of faith in and acceptance of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, are reckoned perfect, and hence are acceptable to God as joint-sacrificers. [R1542 : page 185]
"WERE IMMERSED INTO HIS DEATH."
This is given as the true significance of water immersion. The real baptism, therefore, is this immersion into a sacrificial death with Christ; and the water immersion, though a beautiful figure which graphically illustrates the real baptism, is only its figure or symbol.
But how much is meant by the expression, "immersed into his death?" In what way was our Lord's death different from that of other men?
His death was different from that of other men in that theirs is a penalty for sin, while his was a sacrifice for the sins of others, to release others from their penalty--death. We, with all others of Adam's family, involuntarily share Adam's death--the wages of sin. And we, with all the Adamic family, were redeemed by Christ's death, and granted a right to a probation for a restoration to all the human rights and privileges which Adam lost for us. We who believe this good news accept those redeemed rights and privileges even now, and begin (by faith) to enjoy them, believing that what Christ died to secure, and has promised to give, is as sure as though already possessed. We have joy and peace in believing these "good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people;" and by faith we already reckon ourselves as in possession of those good things which, at the second coming of our Lord Jesus, are to be brought unto all who hate sin and love righteousness.
It is when we are in this justified condition, repossessed of the human rights lost through Adam, but redeemed by Christ, that the call or invitation is extended to us to become something far higher and far grander than perfect men fully restored to the likeness of God in the flesh (though that is so grand that only few appreciate it): we are invited to become joined with the Redeemer in the glories and dignities of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), and co-workers with him in the great work of the Millennial age--the work of restoring the obedient of the race of Adam to perfection and to all "that which was lost" in the fall.
But the invitation to share this great dignity, far above angels (Heb. 1:4; Eph. 1:21; 1 Cor. 6:3), is accompanied by certain conditions and limitations. This prize is not given because of works, for no works which could be conceived could purchase or earn so high an exaltation as that offered. The offer is a favor, unmerited by anything which we have done, or can do; and yet the conditions may be said to be the price, or cost to us, of the prize offered. It is not, however, an equivalent or corresponding price. The price to us is a mere pittance in comparison to the value received, and "not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." And when we consider that we had nothing to give, until first purchased by the precious blood of Christ, it will be clearly seen that the high honors to which we are called are not of works of our own, but of grace, through Christ. For even our pittance was forfeited by sin, and had first to be redeemed, before it could be accepted.
The requirements or conditions, attached to the invitation to share with Christ the coming glories and dignities, are plainly stated:--Each one accepting it must share his death, be immersed or buried into his death, if he would be of that "little flock" of joint-heirs, the "body of Christ,"--otherwise called "the Bride, the Lamb's wife." To be sharers in his death means that as our Redeemer spent his life, not in (even lawful) self-gratification, but consumed it in the interest of truth and righteousness, in opposing sin and in doing the work and executing the plan of the Father, so we must use our time, talents, energies, rights and privileges. Redeemed by him and given to us, we not only consecrate all these to the Father's service, but we must use them faithfully even unto death--as he hath set us the example--walking in his footsteps as nearly as possible. If thus we be dead with him, we shall in due time live with him (Rom. 6:8); if thus we suffer with him, and in the present life endure afflictions even unto death (whether the death of the cross or some other form) for righteousness' sake, we are counted as sharers of his death; and all who share "his death" will also share "his resurrection."--See Phil. 3:8-11.
As "his death" differs from the Adamic death, so "his resurrection" differs from the [R1542 : page 186] restoration resurrection which he has secured and will make possible to all men. His resurrection is in Scripture pointed out as different from that of the world redeemed by him. It is emphasized in the Greek--"the resurrection," and also designated the "first [chief] resurrection." His resurrection was to the divine or immortal nature, a spiritual body. And so many of us as are immersed into Christ--immersed into his death--shall also obtain a share in "his resurrection"--"the resurrection"-- as described in 1 Cor. 15:42-53. We, who have borne the image of the earthly father, Adam, who also lost it for us, have again received it by faith in Christ's sacrifice, and have now surrendered it, as joint-sacrificers with him of human nature. Thus we become partakers of a new nature, and shall, in the resurrection, bear the image of that new, divine nature.--1 Cor. 15:49.
Note how pointedly the same writer mentions this in the passage under consideration. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in a new life. [Our new natures are reckoned as begun now, and are to be perfected at our resurrection in the Lord's likeness.] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, [then] we shall be also [sharers] in the likeness of his resurrection."--Rom. 6:4,5.
It is evident, then, that baptism in water is the symbol of a complete and, to those who would be joint-heirs with Christ, an indispensable self-sacrifice; an immersion with our Lord into his death; an immersion which began and is counted from the moment the justified believer consecrated himself and surrendered his will to God, though to secure the prize promised it must continue until the close of the earthly life. It was from this standpoint that our Lord spoke, when he said, "I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." (Luke 12:50.) He had already [R1543 : page 186] performed the symbol at Jordan, but he was now referring to the consummation of his baptism into death. His will, surrendered to the Father's will and plan, was already buried; but as the dark hour of Gethsemane and Calvary drew near he longed to finish his sacrifice. It was from this same standpoint that he spoke of baptism to the two disciples who asked to sit, the one at his right hand and the other at his left, in the kingdom. "He answered and said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask--Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" (Matt. 20:22.) He referred here to the baptism into death, and showed that none need expect to share the kingdom except those who share this baptism of death. Thus the Apostle's explanation of the symbol exactly concurs with that of our Lord.
These are not two baptisms--one into water and the other into Christ's death--but one. The immersion into water is the symbol or shadow of the immersion into death. If there is a shadow, there must be a substance; and a clear, strong light falling upon a substance produces a shadow of it. It is for the instructed child of God to distinguish between the substance and the shadow, and by recognizing their relationship to see in the two parts "one baptism." Since the two parts were recognized as one baptism by the Apostle, it is doubtful if any one fully appreciates the ONE, TRUE BAPTISM without seeing both the substance and the shadow.
Recognizing the true import of baptism, we see that, next to faith in Christ, it is the one important and essential step by which the Church glorified shall be entered; for only such as are conformed to, and have fellowship in, our Lord's death will, as "members of his body," share the first or chief resurrection, to be with and like the Head. It is not surprising that some have mistaken the shadow or symbol for the real, and made it a test of membership in the church upon earth: this is but a natural mistake. All who see the real immersion, as well as the symbol, and yet ignore the latter, should carefully examine themselves to see that their wills in this matter are really dead and buried in the will of Christ. And if they refuse obedience to the Lord's word and example in this, they should make unquestionably sure to themselves the strength and validity of any arguments to the contrary, by which they set these aside.
But some inquire, Is it necessary for me to be immersed in water, if I am confident that I am fully consecrated--immersed into Christ? Would the Lord reject me for so small a matter as a failure to go through a form?
Do not forget that the present age is not one of commands and compulsions. God does not command and compel the obedience of his Church. This is a time in which, as a great favor, believers are privileged to offer their wills and their all in self-sacrifice to God. It is 'the acceptable year of the Lord"--the time in which God is pleased to accept our sacrifices (through Christ) and to give us certain exceeding great rewards promised to those who surrender their little all, and who thus become followers in the footsteps of the High Priest of our order.--Heb. 3:1. [R1543 : page 187]
Those who see this clearly know that the Body of Christ has not been given a law of commandments, nor been dealt with as were the Jews; for "Ye are not under law, but under favor." Theirs was the house of servants, and it is proper to command servants; but, if we are new creatures in Christ, we belong to the "house of sons" (Heb. 3:5,6); and God deals with us as a true Father with true sons. True sons, and the only ones whom he will acknowledge, possess the spirit of adoption, the spirit of obedience, the spirit of sons, and need not to be commanded and threatened; for such, both by word and deed, and in matters both small and great, declare, "I delight to do thy will, O my God." For such, no self-denial is too great, and no act of respect and obedience too small; and, ignoring pride and all human philosophies and expediencies as unworthy to be weighed at all in opposition to the Father's wisdom, these learn that to obey is the best of sacrifice.--1 Sam. 15:22.
No, God will not compel you to be immersed, either really or symbolically. These opportunities to sacrifice convenience, worldly opinion, etc., are privileges which we should highly esteem and covet, because by these we are able to show the Lord the depth and sincerity of our love and the reality of our consecration. It is on the basis of this and hundreds of other little things that we are now being tried--to see if we are as earnest as we have professed to be. If we are ashamed to confess Christ before men by the very simple way which he arranged, we may well expect that he would be ashamed to call us overcomers and joint-heirs, and to confess us as faithful followers. He could not do so honestly and truthfully, and hence we may be sure he will not do so. And if, after we see how much our Lord has done for us--first, in our redemption, and, secondly, in the great offer of the crown and divine nature--we allow a trifling sacrifice of contemptible pride to hinder us from a small act of obedience which our Redeemer and benefactor requested, our own self-contempt and shame should prevent our taking crowns and places (even if offered them) with the little band of faithful overcomers who valiantly sacrificed much, and thus proved that they loved much.
While therefore we do not say that none will be of the "little flock" except those who have been immersed into water, as well as into the death of Christ, which it so beautifully symbolizes, we do say, that we do not expect to find in that "little flock" a single one who has seen water immersion to be the will of God, and who has refused to obey. Let us remember that obedience in a small matter may be a closer test than in a large one. Had Satan attempted to get Eve into the sin of blaspheming the Creator, he would have failed; had he attempted to induce her to murder Adam he would have failed; hence the test of obedience in a very small matter was a much more crucial test. So now God tests our professions of love and devotion and obedience most thoroughly by some of the smallest matters, of which the symbolic immersion is one. God's decision is, He that is faithful in that which is least will be faithful also in that which is greater.
Though "Baptists" do not generally grasp the full import of immersion, but look at the water rather than the death which it symbolizes, yet the holding of the symbol has been valuable, and shows the Lord's wisdom in choosing the symbol; for even the truth with reference to the symbol has been unpopular, ever since its rejection by Antichrist centuries ago, and in very many cases has it required the true consecration, the true burial of the will into Christ's will, before the believer was willing to brave the scorn of the world by obedience to an unpopular ceremony.
Even those who practice sprinkling, and that upon unintelligent (and hence unbelieving) babes, hold that baptism is the door into the Church of Christ, and none of the nominal churches receive into membership others than those who have gone through some ceremony called "baptism." They thus receive infants into their churches, on the ground that only church members will be saved from everlasting torment. True, this like other doctrines is little taught in our day, and is fast losing its influence over the people, yet millions of parents to-day believe that their children would be consigned to everlasting torment if they should die without being sprinkled with water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Especially do Romanists, Episcopalians and Lutherans fear an omission of this sort, and some Presbyterians and Methodists no less so.
An illustration of this, and one which shows the power these errors put into the hands of the priestly or clerical class, came under our observation in this city about nine years ago. The parents of the infant were Lutherans, but had a disagreement with the pastor of the congregation about non-payment of church dues and non-attendance at meetings. The child grew seriously ill, and the father and mother by turn went many times to implore the cold hearted, error teaching, hireling shepherd to come and sprinkle their babe and save it from the eternal damnation he had taught them would otherwise be its portion. But he refused [R1543 : page 188] to come, telling them that they deserved the punishment. After further effort they secured another priest "just in time" to allay their groundless fears.
Thus it is evident that no matter how careless they may be as to the exact form, all the principal sects view baptism as the door into the church, the door of salvation, the door into the body of Christ, as truly as do Baptists. We, on the contrary, hold that neither the sprinkling with water nor the immersion in water is the door into the "body of Christ," now being elected or chosen out of the world; but that the immersion into Christ's death, which begins in full consecration, is the door by which justified men become members of the Body of Christ which is the Church. We insist that all who thus become members of "THE CHURCH whose names are written in heaven," should, as soon as the precept and example of the Lord and the apostles, and the appropriateness of the symbol, are seen, make haste to show their obedience and consecration before men.
BAPTISM AND THE TABERNACLE.
The true baptism is illustrated in the Jewish Tabernacle, but not by the Laver which stood in the Court full of water, at which the priests washed their hands and feet. No, that is a symbol of the cleansing effect of the truth upon the outward conduct of believers in general. It symbolizes the putting aside of filthy practices--lying, stealing, etc., and the putting away of filthy communications out of our mouths,--slanders, envy, strife, backbiting, [R1544 : page 188] etc.,--a cleansing as proper for the natural man as for the consecrated saints.
The vail at the door of the Tabernacle represented the same thought as baptism--namely, death. When the priest passed the first vail, it represented him as passing out of sight, buried from the outward things; and his shut-in condition, was enlightened only by the lamp and supplied by the shewbread--representing the spiritual nourishment and enlightenment granted all who are immersed into Christ.
The second vail represented the end of the reckoned death in actual death; and the Most Holy represented the full fruition of all the exceeding great and precious promises made to those who become new creatures in Christ Jesus by sharing his death and also his resurrection. In the Most Holy comes the full realization of what the Holy gave but a foretaste. Thus we see that a complete immersion or burial from sight was necessary to reach the Most Holy. And as the Tabernacle had but the one entrance, it clearly teaches that none can attain that state or condition which it typified (the divine nature) without first passing through the first vail, representing consecration or death to the world, which baptism in water also beautifully illustrates.
For a full explanation of the significance of the entire Tabernacle service, see Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices.
WHO MAY BE IMMERSED.
In John's baptism of the Jews into reformation, he demanded of some that they should first show by their lives that they had reformed before they went through the symbol of reformation. In the use of baptism after Pentecost however, the only condition imposed was faith in Christ. It seems to have been taken for granted that none but true, sincere persons would thus profess faith in and allegiance to so unpopular a leader as the crucified Christ. But the water immersion, though it was a public profession of Christ by the one immersed was not necessarily an endorsement of such by the apostles and the Church. The Church could not and did not decide whether the one symbolically immersed had been really immersed into Christ. The symbol indicated this; and they explained the symbol, and urged all that had consecrated in symbol to see that they were really dead to the world and its plans and aims, and alive toward God and his plan.
This is evident from some instances, as that of Ananias and Sapphira and Simon the sorcerer. (Acts 5:1-10; 8:13,20-23.) To the latter, though he had been baptized, the Apostle declared, "Thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." So, now we do not need to decide for others who may wish thus to confess Christ (except it be very evident that they do it as an intended mockery). It is their act alone, and represents their conscience toward God; and the knowledge of ignorance of the one performing the symbol cannot affect the matter either favorably or unfavorably. The real baptism is that which cannot be seen, except in its influence upon the conduct; and the real church which is joined is the Church whose names are written in heaven, whose members cannot be positively known until the close of this age, when they shall be glorified with the Head.
THE MANNER OF THE SYMBOL.
The immersion, since it symbolizes a burial should be backwards, in water sufficient for the purpose, and convenient as circumstances will permit. It should not be done with secrecy [R1544 : page 189] it is intended as a public confession of faith, and the only form of such public confession, used by the early Church, of which we have any record. Yet its publicity should be to fellow-believers rather than to the world. Hence, while it should in no way be kept secret from the world, it is unnecessary to give public notice except to the fellow-believers of the Church. In fact, so solemn is the occasion to the Church, who realize its deep significance, that the presence of the worldly, unless they be seekers after God and therefore more than mere curiosity seekers, is not desirable. Such public notice, we gather from the record, was the custom in the early Church.
Some think that because John the Immerser and the Lord's disciples baptized publicly in the river Jordan, therefore all should be immersed in public view in a river. But let it be remembered that the whole Jewish nation was the Church according to their Law Covenant; therefore public view was public to the professed Church of that time. As for the river Jordan, John and the disciples evidently used it as the most convenient place at their service. If the river was an important factor, why not the same river--Jordan?
It should be noted that when the eunuch believed and was immersed, only Philip was present; when the jailer believed and was immersed (Acts 16:33), it was not in a river, but in a bath or some other convenient arrangement in the prison. And we know that the ruins of the church buildings of the first two centuries show that they had special, annexed buildings prepared for the convenience of immersions.
The form of words used by the apostles and the early Church is not given, which shows that the form of words used is much less important than the act, and the meaning which it expresses. We may gather, however, from Acts 2:38; 8:16; Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27 and 1 Cor. 1:13, that baptism "into Christ," into the name of the Lord Jesus, was the thought; and that it was expressed in words. We may also presume that our Lord's words, "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, were not disregarded, but somehow expressed on such occasions. The thought is, that believers, by immersion into Christ's death, are joined to Christ as members of the little flock "which is his body;" and that their right or privilege to be thus accepted in the Beloved is in the name or by the authority of the Father, through the merit of the Son and by the impartation to such of the holy Spirit of truth. We now give the form of words which it is our custom to use on such occasions, and our general procedure, for the convenience and satisfaction of those who may have occasion to use the suggestion.
We first have, privately, some assurance on the part of all who are about to be immersed, that they recognize the death of Christ as their ransom price, and that they are already consecrated wholly to his service, and desire to now confess all this in the symbol which Christ enjoined. Then, the announcement having been publicly made before the congregation, we meet at an appointed time and place for the service; and there, after briefly explaining the real immersion and its water symbol, offering thanks to God for the privilege of thus following in our Lord's footsteps, and expressing our trust in his promises to give grace and strength sufficient to enable those who have consecrated all to his service to be dead indeed to the world and its aims and ambitions, and alive only to God's service and the study and carrying out of his plans; and after specially requesting a blessing upon those about to symbolize their covenant, we receive the candidates in the water. Then (in the usual manner, with one hand in front, at the throat, and the other at the back of the neck) we say, if the name of the candidate be John,--"John, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit--by this authority--I baptize thee into the name of Christ." We then let him down, backward (as a corpse), until immersed, covered completely; then raise him to his feet. After again changing our clothing in the provided rooms, we meet in the presence of the congregation (who, meantime, worship God in prayer, songs of praise, etc.), and with convenient words we extend to the newly immersed ones the right-hand of fellowship in the name of the great Head of the Church, and on behalf of the entire church whose names are written in heaven; exhorting that they walk worthy of the name of Christ which they have confessed and taken; and that they run earnestly in the race for the prize of the high calling which they have publicly entered.
THE FAMILY NAME.
It is evident that all through the Gospel age baptism into Christ has symbolized union with him and membership in the one body--the bride. But now in the harvest or lapping of the Gospel and Millennial ages, a new question arises, viz., While it is still appropriate for all of this class who have not done so, to confess Christ by this symbol, what about others, of the restitution class, who shall now confess [R1544 : page 190] Christ and desire to consecrate themselves-- to relinquish their wills and have the will of Christ only? Seeing that such will sooner or later apply for baptism as a symbol, and that it would be a proper symbol of consecration for others as well as for the body of Christ, and that it is not incumbent upon us to decide to which class those belong who apply to us for immersion--the question arises, Would the same form of words be appropriate for both?
We answer, Yes; for though the class referred to will not be of the bride of Christ, they will be of the Christ family--children of the Christ; and it is proper for children to bear their father's name. Christ is to be the "Everlasting Father" or life-giver to the restored human race; and hence it will not be improper for them also to take his name. Therefore, as we now view it, it will be proper to baptize such into the name of Christ; and we doubt not that all of the world who shall come into harmony and receive the gift of life from the Life-giver in the next age, will also be known as Christians. As before pointed out, however, the words of the immerser cannot affect favorably [R1545 : page 190] or unfavorably the interests of the immersed: the importance rests in the obedience of the act and what it signifies of consecration to the one immersed.
BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND OF FIRE.
We need not examine this subject at length here; it was discussed in our issue of June '92. We merely remark that the immersion in holy Spirit which began at Pentecost, is not symbolized by water baptism: it follows, but is totally different from an immersion into Christ's death, which the water immersion symbolizes so perfectly.
BAPTIZED FOR THE DEAD.
"Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead are not to be raised at all? [If there is no resurrection baptism is a symbol of nothing further than the death of our mortal bodies.] Why then are they baptized on behalf of them?--1 Cor. 15:29.
This has been considered a very obscure passage, because the real meaning of immersion (as symbolic of death) has been generally lost sight of. Some have been led to the absurd conclusion that early Christians were immersed for or instead of their dead, unbelieving friends and relatives--supposing that Paul here referred to and commended so senseless a thing. On the contrary, the Apostle here refers to the fact, then well understood, that each one of those who had been immersed had symbolized his own death--had cast his lot among those dead with Christ, to share his sacrificial death (giving his life in the service of the truth--with Christ--Col. 1:24), in prospect of a glorious resurrection to share with the Redeemer the work of blessing and restoring the world.
Paul is combating and disproving the theories of some who were teaching that there would be no resurrection. He appeals to various arguments to prove the falsity of such teaching. He proves that the dead can be raised by divine power by the fact of Christ's resurrection (1 Cor. 15:12-18); and then, in the verse under consideration, he shows how absurd it is for those who by immersion have symbolized their consecration to death to disbelieve in a future life. He asks such doubters of a resurrection, Why, then, were you baptized for the dead, if you hope for nothing? Wiser and better far it would be, if there is to be no resurrection of the dead, that we should make the most of the present life, enjoying all its pleasures, instead of consecrating ourselves to death in baptism and then living a life of self-sacrifice, which is a daily dying.
But, in this as in all things, the beauty and harmony only appears from the true standpoint. Those who regard sprinkling as baptism can see no meaning in the passage; neither can those who deny water baptism interpret it without giving the inference that this great, inspired Apostle was foolish. Neither can those who see the symbolic water immersion, only, appreciate the passage. Its beauty and force can only be discernible from the standpoint herein set forth, viz., a recognition of the death with Christ to self-will, to the world and to all worldly interests, and also of the water immersion as its proper, appropriate and provided symbol. In conclusion we quote the inspired record.
Peter said: "Can any man forbid water?" (Acts 10:47.) Paul said: "So many of you as were immersed into Jesus Christ, were immersed into his death....For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." (Rom. 6:3-5.) "Then they that gladly received his word were immersed,... and they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship."--Acts 2:41,42.
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 CALLED TO EUROPE.
III. QUAR., LESSON I., JULY 2, ACTS 16:6-15.
Golden Text:--"Go ye, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit."--Matt. 28:19.
In considering the narrative of this lesson, the main points to be observed are the influence of the holy Spirit in directing the course of the gospel, and the evident watchfulness of the Apostle for such direction. While neither Paul nor the other apostles sat in idleness waiting for extraordinary or miraculous leadings of the Spirit of God, they were mindful of such indications when the Lord's will was so expressed. But, ordinarily, they expected to make use of their own judgment enlightened by their knowledge of the truth and of the objects to be accomplished by its promulgation. And if, in the use of their own best judgment, they made a mistake, and the Lord, by some special providence or vision or impressive dream, indicated otherwise, they carefully followed such leadings.
Thus, for instance, Paul, using his judgment as a steward of the Lord (1 Cor. 4:1), went, accompanied by Silas, through Syria, Silicia, Phrygia and Galatia, confirming the churches previously established there (Acts 15:36,40,41; 16:1-6); and the Lord evidently approved their course so far, since he interposed no providential indication to the contrary, but blessed their efforts to the furtherance of the gospel. But, having gone thus far without any providential interference, and, in further use of his own best judgment, having planned to carry the gospel into Asia, the holy Spirit in some manner indicated that such was not the divine will at that time (verse 6); so the Apostle turned his course in a westerly direction, thinking to stop in Bithynia, a province of Asia Minor: but again God's power or spirit manifestly hindered; so he continued his journey to Troas, where, in a vision, the open door for him in Macedonia (Greece) was indicated.
Thus, by divine direction, the course of the gospel was turned westward into Europe, instead of continuing in Asia as the Apostle had thought to do. And westward has been the general course of the Gospel since. Just why it was to be so, is nowhere stated; but in the light of the present day the reason is apparent.
To the eastward lay India and China, whose people, bound by customs and superstitions, were, so to speak, confirmed in ancient error; while the conditions in Europe were quite the reverse. That was the formative period in Europe. The peoples of Europe were not old, established nations; and the unrest and change incident to those times, the rival ambitions which brought about great invasions and revolutions and changes of government, and the intermingling of the various peoples, produced mental activity and acuteness favorable to the consideration and appreciation of the gospel on the part of those who desired righteousness and truth. Mental lethargy, undue conservatism and superstition are obstacles to progress, and must be rudely handled before the truth can be received and appreciated. It is also noticeable that a very similar preparation was given to Israel, to fit them to receive the instructions of the Law and the prophets.
It should be noticed, too, that God thus providentially sent the gospel message, not to the most debased and ignorant people of the world, but to the most civilized and best educated; for at that time Greece was the very center of learning, as Rome was the center of the political world. The gospel which God was sending, and which the Apostle bore, was "good tidings of great joy for all people;" it was a reasonable gospel, which would stand the light and criticism of the keenest philosophy, and did not need to seek out the degraded and superstitious classes or races of the world.
While, as expressed in the golden text, it was a part of the divine will that ultimately this gospel should go to all peoples, yet it is clearly marked by God's providence that it is his will that it shall go to the less degraded first, and to the more degraded later.
And the reasonableness of this is evident when we remember that God's plan is to select the Church, the Christ (Head and body), first, and then to use that Church as his agency for blessing all nations in the Millennial age. Hence, while our efforts should be to "do good unto all men as we [R1545 : page 192] have opportunity," it should be "especially to the household of faith" and to people best able, mentally, to appreciate the message.
It is presumed by some, from the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, recorded in the preceding chapter (verses 37-40), with reference to taking John Mark with them on this missionary tour, and which resulted in their separation, that both brethren were at fault, and that neither one manifested the [R1546 : page 192] spirit of Christ toward the other. This is probably based on the statement that the contention was sharp between them. But the expression does not imply that either one was abusive or unkind to the other; but rather, that both were positive in their mental decisions on the subject, and so expressed themselves and so acted.
The difficulty, however, was on the part of Barnabas. Paul was the "Apostle to the Gentiles," the "chosen vessel" of the Lord to bear his name to the Gentiles; while Barnabas was honored in being his associate and helper in the work. Paul's course was the one that was being specially directed, guided and supervised by the Lord (notice specially chapter 16:9), and Barnabas should have recognized the apostleship of Paul, and, so far as his judgment would permit, he should have deferred to Paul's judgment. But, instead, he placed himself as the superior and director, and "determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark." But Paul, remembering John's former unfaithfulness in forsaking them in the midst of the work, wisely deemed it inexpedient to trust him on this occasion, and objected. Instead of continuing in company and cooperation with this "chosen vessel of the Lord," and humbly deferring to his judgment in a matter where conscience was not at stake, or of trusting the Lord to correct the Apostle's mistakes, if he made them, Barnabas preferred to leave this favored position of service and to go out himself with John.
The whole appearance favors the opinion of some that Barnabas let a little pride take root in his heart; that it was first manifested when he "determined" to take John with them, whether Paul approved the arrangement or not; and that it speedily grew until it separated him from the special privileges of service which he had hitherto enjoyed in company and co-operation with the Apostle. Another brother stepped into his place, and it is quite significant that we never hear of Barnabas again. He lost his opportunity, which, seemingly, he failed to appreciate because pride raised up a little root of bitterness.
Having been joined by Timothy and Luke, the Apostle and Silas took ship for Macedonia, no longer in doubt as to the will of the Lord; and there they went to one of the chief cities--Philippi. Their first success in reaching hearing ears was on the Sabbath day, when they sought and found a company of worshipers at the river-side, to whom they preached the gospel (verses 12,13), some of whom, at least, received it gladly. And one of the specially interested ones is particularly mentioned as manifesting her love for the Lord and the truth by her works.
There is in this account that which is indicative of a very proper and beautiful spirit on the part of both Lydia and these ministers of the gospel, in both the offer and acceptance of hospitality. Lydia evidently considered that it would be a great favor to entertain these representatives of the Lord --not because they wore fine clothing or bore titled names--but because they had borne to her a message from the Lord. Therefore she said, "If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord [and so worthy to entertain his ministers], come into my house and abide there." She wanted to show her love to the Lord by her works. It is manifest also on the part of these brethren, that they did not intrude, and were not in haste even to accept the proffered hospitality. They questioned the convenience and ability of the sister to thus entertain them; for it was not until she constrained or urged them that they accepted her invitation.
From this lesson we learn: (1) To be careful observers of God's providential leadings while actively pressing on to do his service. (2) As the Apostle was left to use his judgment, and was only miraculously directed when he had no other means of judging the Lord's will, so we should expect with all God's people. And since now the Word of the Lord's testimony is complete, and helps for its study are multiplied, we should all the less expect miraculous interventions, visions and revelations from the Lord. Nevertheless, if we should have a striking dream seeming to admonish us of some neglected duty or opportunity, or reminding us of some Scripture teaching, let us profit by it thus-- never, however, relying for counsel or faith upon anything but what can be proved by the Word of God. (3) The Lord himself exercises a supervision of his own work.
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