WE wish the WATCH TOWER readers, all and everywhere, a very happy New Year—1897. And whether or not they get the fulfilment of our wish depends almost exclusively upon themselves, individually,—in the cases of those who belong fully to the Lord, by a full heart consecration, a full self-surrender to his will, as expressed in his Word.
Circumstances may change, hopes or health may fail, trusted friends may become cool or even become enemies, poverty and lack of life's necessities may stare some in the face; yet none of these, nor all of them, should they fall to our lot, need hinder the true Christian from having a happy year.
To the worldly this will be both impossible and incomprehensible; for the world has no sources of comfort and peace and joy other than the creature-comforts of the present life. When deprived of these they have nothing but misery and despair; and these evils are only increased as knowledge and refinement increase the appreciation of earthly good things. Hence the remarkable increase of suicides in recent years, especially in the most civilized lands, and wherever civilization extends;—for instance, in Japan, where it is said that the average of suicides per year is over seven thousand. Respecting suicides here and in Great Britain the Rev. P. S. Henson, D.D. (Baptist) of Chicago said recently in a sermon:—
"There never was such unrest in the world as now. The old world is threatened with an upheaval. What is the matter with New York and Chicago? Humanity is not constituted to be satisfied. People are going mad faster than you can build mad-houses to put them in. In London the suicides number ten a day [3,600 a year], New York is not much better. There was never such unrest. What the world wants, the rich want, all classes want, is Jesus Christ."
But the child of God has other than earthly friends and joys and hopes and prospects. He is rich, whatever his outward condition may appear; rich in the fact that his debt of sin has been paid for him; rich in the assurances of God's Word that his present experiences are all under the supervision of divine wisdom and love, and are all being overruled for his highest good (Rom. 8:28); rich in joy and hope through the present trials and experiences faithfully and patiently endured. God is preparing him for future honors, and so he is enabled to reckon those trials which once would have utterly crushed him as "light afflictions which are but for a moment," and which, faithfully accepted, "will work out a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Thus he looks, not at the transitory things that are seen, but at the invisible and eternal things. Thus, like Moses of old, he endures as seeing him who is invisible, a present help in every time of trouble. Whatever he may possess of earthly luxury and comfort he accepts with gratitude, realizing himself not more deserving than millions less favored. Whatever he may lack, he reflects that the faithful of every age have been required to "endure hardness as good soldiers," and that our blessed Savior and his noble apostles, in choosing the course of faithfulness to the truth, denied themselves and endured hungerings, thirstings, privations [R2083 : page 4] and loss of friends, and yet, though poor, they made many rich (2 Cor. 6:10) with the true riches of grace—"godliness with contentment," "great gain," which the world can neither give, nor take away. In every condition these may hear the Word of God saying,—"All things are yours,...for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
The Christian's secret of a happy life lies in his knowing and trusting the Heavenly Father and the Heavenly Bridegroom. Even worldly physicians, sceptics, are coming to recognize the fact that the peace of God ruling in and keeping the heart is not only an excellent medicine, but a great preservative of health. How many, looking back, can see that not only their spiritual but also their physical health has improved since they found the Lord "a very present help" in time of trouble! If they had nervous troubles which formerly caused them sleepless nights and haggard looks, and which almost unfitted them for life's duties and responsibilities, they have doubtless found some improvement since they have heard the voice saying,—
Cast all your care upon the Lord, for he careth for you.—1 Pet. 5:7.
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.—1 John 3:1.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear (reverence) him.—Psa. 103:13.
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart.—Psa. 31:24.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want: His goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.—Psa. 23:6.
True, the exceeding great and precious promises of God's Word may not hinder us from feeling pain, but it will modify the severity of the pain and its frequency. Physicians are of one opinion on this subject, that the mind, the brain, the nervous center of our being, exercises a great influence over all of our physical sensations, either an aggravating or a pacifying influence. Truly did Solomon, the wise, say that the Lord's word is a valuable "medicine."—Prov. 3:8.
But we have said that these blessings come through knowing and trusting God: some fail to get the blessings because of a lack of knowledge; others having the knowledge lack the trust, the faith; still others, and they are probably in the majority among consecrated Christians, enjoy a small measure of these blessings when they might have them in abundant measure by a more thorough knowledge of God through his Word (accompanied, of course, with obedience to the spirit of their knowledge) and by the exercise of greater trust in the Faithful Promiser.
We exhort all the consecrated TOWER readers to join with us at the beginning of the New Year, in a remembrance and renewal of our covenant with the [R2084 : page 4] Lord,—to be obediently and lovingly his, in thought, word and deed—and in harmony therewith, and to the intent that we may enjoy his blessings to our fullest capacity and under all conditions, let us put on the armor of truth and righteousness; fastening the same upon us with the graces of the spirit. As an assistance we suggest as a text to be remembered and practiced daily, the words of the Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 7:1)—
And whoever would have success in carrying out the foregoing resolves should not only make the engagement at the throne of the heavenly grace, but should at all times and under all circumstances preserve the spirit of thankfulness and prayer. As the Apostle expresses it, he should "pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks." For what son is he that the father chasteneth not? If ye be without chastisements and lessons, then are ye not sons. The Heavenly Father chastens for correction, every son whom he receives.
Come, let us anew our journey pursue,
Roll round with the year,
And never stand still till the Master appear.
His adorable will let us gladly fulfill,
And our talents improve,
By the patience of hope, and the labor of love.
Our life, as a dream, our time, as a stream
Glides swiftly away,
And the fugitive moments we would not delay.
Haste, haste ye along, dark moments be gone,
For the Jubilee year
Rushes on to our view, and its dawn is now here.
O at close of our day may each of us say,
"I have fought my way through;
I have finished the work thou didst give me to do!"
O that each from his Lord may receive the glad word,
"Well and faithfully done!
Enter into my joy, and sit down on my throne!"