A TOWER reader writes that she recently met some of like precious faith, who, while recognizing Sanctification as she does, did not seem to have an ecstatic joy, accompanied by great emotion, but, on the contrary, seemed to hold the doctrine of full consecration by a process of mental reasoning. She was disappointed in finding them, as she thought, too cold and calculating. She found, too, that they did not hold to an instantaneous change of character;—from sin to perfection in holiness, at one bound. She desires our expression on the subject in the TOWER.
We are glad of the opportunity thus afforded us of giving a word of caution on both sides of this question. It is a mistake with some, to cultivate and appreciate only the intellectual side of God's grace, while others appreciate and cultivate chiefly the emotions aroused by God's grace and truth. And while we should realize that these extremes result often from a difference of temperaments, this should be no reason for neglecting to alter or modify our natural tendencies, to have them conform to the Lord's pleasure, as indicated to us in his Word.
Our Lord's prayer for his people clearly indicates what is the proper means for our sanctification. He prayed, "Sanctify them through thy truth;" and then, making us doubly sure of his meaning, he added, "thy Word is truth." Those, therefore, who attempt to be sanctified by feelings or by errors or in any other way than by the truth are seeking a good thing in a wrong way; and results will surely be unsatisfactory until the Lord's method is adopted.
But that is no less serious a mistake which some others make, who, while devouring God's Word, get from it merely relief from fears and a satisfaction for their curiosity. Curiosity is insatiable; and if they fail to get what God designed to give them through the truth (Sanctification), they will ere long be devouring one error after another to feed their curiosity, and will delude themselves into supposing that they are continually feeding upon truth;—although they are well aware that each new thing devoured is soon abandoned as error, while their curiosity continues the devouring process, but never is satisfied. These the Apostle describes as "ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth."—2 Tim. 3:7.
The proper course unites the head with the heart in the search for truth. The heart searches that it may know or prove what is that good and acceptable will of God, that it may please and serve him. The head, as the servant of the heart, searches to test or prove the truth, that the honest heart be not deceived into believing and serving amiss. But when the head undertakes to do all the truth-seeking and feeding, the real design of the truth—sanctification [R1530 : page 154] —is not attained. The result is merely a reasoning about the truth, and not a practicing of the truth;—the word of truth is handled and dissected, but the spirit of it is not received into good and honest hearts; because it is not a heart-hunger that is being fed, but a curiosity-hunger.
But where the heart hungers and thirsts after righteousness (after right views of God and of fellowmen and of the proper use of our time and influence and talents), and the head, as the heart's servant, engages in searching God's Word, the case is different; because then each morsel of truth received is at once applied in the life, and the sanctifying work begins and [R1531 : page 154] progresses. To this true heart to know the Lord's will means to at once strive to do what is seen; and not merely to see the duty or privilege.
Where truth is seen, and when the heart falls in love with it so that it delights to conform itself to it, even at the cost of convenience or friendships, or other selfish advantages,—there the sanctifying influence or spirit of the truth is at work;—there the results sought and intended by our Lord are being attained. Joy will accompany, and peace and trust and love. And zeal will never be lacking in a thoroughly sanctified heart, although all may not manifest it in the same way. With one it may be manifested boisterously and with great activity, as a mountain stream when suddenly swollen by a cloud burst; with another it may be that deep and unshown current of spiritual life which enables its possessor to go more calmly forward in a life of sacrifice and faithfulness to duty, against all opposition;—as an iceberg, moved by the under current of the ocean, moves steadily and irresistably with that current, against all the surface currents of the ocean.
To enter into the spirit of the Lord's plan, as revealed in his Word, is to be sanctified by it; and this is impossible without some knowledge of it. And whoever catches the spirit of the truth will have some emotions, whether or not they are manifest to others. Sanctification is the truth acted upon—put into the affairs of life; and, under present-age conditions, always leads to self-denials, self-sacrificings in the service of God, and Truth, and fellow-men.
BROTHER RUSSELL:—I would like to ask a question. Knowing that the world and its ways are of the enemy, at present under his control, and that the saints have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, how are we to escape serving as jurors. We might say that we cannot conscientiously serve, but the reply is, The court knows no law of conscience. We might say that we do not believe in going to law, and that we are not American citizens; but to all these statements the court has an evasive answer. The question is, Is it proper for the saints to serve as jurors, hold offices, swear or affirm?
I believe it is not; but how to escape to the best advantage for the cause of Christ and his Kingdom, is what myself and others wish to know. About twelve or fifteen years ago, I saw that the enemy is the ruler of this world, and, as I could not serve two masters, I gave up politics, and have not voted since. Again, the Word says, "Swear not at all." I have raised these questions before the court of this district and have been dismissed; and others, also, have begun to see that they were serving the enemy when they thought they were doing God's service. Yours, etc., G. W. HANEY.
REPLY:—Serving on a jury is in no sense taking part in political affairs. A jury has nothing to do with politics. As far as judging is concerned, the Apostle Paul remarked that, since we are to be judges in the weighty affairs of the next age, we ought to be able to judge in the small matters of the present.—1 Cor. 6:2,3.
The law governing juries is very simple. The judge instructs the jury on the points of law involved in the case, and each juror is required to reach a conclusion in his own mind with reference to the facts brought out by the evidence. In serving as a juror, he has nothing whatever to do with the law, whether it be good or bad, right or wrong: he merely decides what the verdict shall be, according to the law given by the judge. When called upon to serve as a juror, it becomes a duty to respond, and one should ask to be excused only in a case of necessity.
The above would apply even in murder cases, although in such instances most of us would prefer to be excused. But if it is necessary to serve, and if the verdict be murder in the first degree, it does not imply that the jury either [R1531 : page 155] gives the sentence or executes it. The law provides what shall constitute murder in the various degrees, and the jury merely finds to which of these degrees the facts and circumstances point. It remains, then, for the judge, as the representative of the law, to sentence the culprit, and for the sheriff to execute the laws commands.
In the matter of being sworn in as a juror: We see nothing in this to conflict with our Lord's words, "Swear not at all;" but for those who do, the law makes provision, permitting them solemnly, sincerely and truly to "affirm."
As concerns voting, the case is somewhat different, and we fully agree with you in the view expressed—that our covenant with the Lord, and our fidelity to him, practically make us aliens in our relations to all human governments, and that, therefore, we would best take no part in the election of officers or in the management of the affairs of this world.