THE present is the time for laying up heavenly treasures which cannot be stolen from us and which cannot corrupt. We fully agree that our Lord and the gracious things which he has in reservation for them that love him—the elect—are our treasures and that the store of them becomes larger and larger as we seek to set our affections on things above and not on the things of earth. But just now we wish to think of these heavenly things in respect to our earthly life, and to note the importance of laying up some heavenly treasure on earth.
According to our understanding of the Scriptures the Lord is now permitting a very tranquil period, which probably will not last long. In this time the winds are being held, the storm is not allowed to break until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. The thought is that just as soon as the sealing process has been accomplished the restraints will be released and the storm will sweep down upon us—upon the whole world to some extent, but especially upon the sealed ones, to try them, to prove them, and to test them. Not a pleasant prospect, some may say; but we answer that all of our heavenly Father's provisions for us are agreeable when we are rightly in harmony with him and his precious Word. We are symbolically represented as being enabled during that time of trouble to stand upon the sea of glass and to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, the meanwhile harping upon our harps—making melody from the Word of God and greatly rejoicing therein. This time of trouble, when the winds of persecution shall be loosed, will be the time of fiery trial which shall try us; and since the Lord's people are not to think strange of it, it is proper that it should be called to their attention repeatedly, and that they be helped in their preparation for it. He shall give his messengers charge concerning thee [the Christ], and in their hands they shall bear thee up [the feet members] lest ye stumble against stones and difficulties in this evil day.—Psa. 91:11,12.
The Scriptures refer to the sealing of the holy Spirit as necessarily essential to membership in the Lord's family at all. Whoever does not receive the seal, the impress of the holy Spirit, will not be a copy of God's dear Son in heart, in character, and cannot be associated with him in the Kingdom. The sealing process is a gradual one, the impression becoming more permanent daily. We are not to understand sealing in the forehead to be identical with this sealing in the heart, although the two are closely related. Many of the Lord's dear people throughout the past have had the seal of the Lord upon their hearts and characters but not upon their foreheads—they did not have that intellectual knowledge of God and his glorious plan which he has provided for all of his faithful of the present time, and which now becomes a test, a proof, an evidence to us that we are in the Lord's favor and that he is showing us his deep things.
The question with each one of us should be, How am I prospering? How am I profiting by these provisions which the Lord has made for my preparation for the coming trials and tests? Am I living carelessly, thoughtlessly? Am I improving or am I wasting the precious moments, the blessed hours, the golden opportunities presented to me by God's favor? Surely the Lord has been faithful in all of his engagements; surely he is doing for us exceedingly more abundantly than we could ask or think; surely if we fail to make our calling and election sure the fault will not be his, for he is faithful who has called us, he also will do it. If, therefore, he has done all that he has promised and all that is necessary and all that is proper for our aid, if there be any failure in the matter it will surely be our own fault. It is well that we should see how the Lord has placed the responsibility upon us, as is implied in his direction that we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, remembering that it is God that worketh in us to will and to do his good pleasure. [R3992 : page 148] All our blessings come from God, and come to us as gifts; but these gifts, to be of value to us in the end, must be received, must be used, must be appropriated, must be worked out in mind and heart, and so far as possible in our mortal bodies. The inspiration of God's promise first worked in us to will and to do his will, to lay down our all at his feet; and secondly, as we followed on, these promises continued to work in us to the point of doing service, putting into practice our good wills, good intentions—but only those who do put them into practice will get the eventual blessing of the Kingdom.
It is well that we have the sentiment here expressed, and the desire to praise the Lord a thousand-fold more than we have ability; but we do well to remember that the Lord looks for something more than songs and thankfulness: he looks for evidences of appreciation of his grace and his promises, he looks for evidences of our appropriation of these, in harmony with his design in giving them. If, then, he has fulfilled his promise that at his second presence he will gird himself as a servant and come forth to serve those who hear his knock and open their hearts to receive him, we may properly infer that the strengthening food he is now providing for his people is in some sense of the word necessary to them. It is so necessary that if they receive it not, if they feed not upon it, if they are not made thereby strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, it will ultimately be greatly to their disadvantage.
We write thus because we observe that some who rejoice greatly in the bountiful supply provided by the Lord and who love to sing of his blessings, mercies, etc., seem not to be giving sufficiency of attention to the repast itself. They remind one of the man who purchased an encyclopedia and never used it, but often praised it and took great pleasure in it, with the thought that the information was there if ever he should need it. Some of the Lord's dear people seem disposed to do after this manner with the precious things of divine truth which are now in their hands. They would keep the volumes in their libraries, they would praise them, they would talk about them to their friends, but many of them neglect to read—many permit the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, etc., to consume their time, the precious moments, the precious hours, the golden opportunities, so that they do not feast upon the viands provided by the Lord. The time is surely coming when the rejoicings of this class will be less—when the winds of persecution and opposition shall be let loose and play upon them. We fear that many will not have the sufficiency of foundation for their faith and love to stand the crucial tests of that time.
The shutting of the door mentioned in one of our Lord's parables seems to imply something quite in harmony with the loosing of the winds when the sealing in the forehead shall have been accomplished. We cannot surmise just how this trouble will be precipitated and the door for further fellowship and promulgation of the Truth be closed. It would not surprise us, however, if in some manner it should be accomplished through the Post Office Department. We cannot now think of what plea or pretext could be used to interfere with our legal rights and privileges under the law, but we are to expect that in a very few years the federation of the various Christian denominations will give them a political influence they have never before had, and we are to expect that politicians will be ready at that time to obey the united voice of the people, if not the voice of God, and that, however illegal or unjust the procedure, they would be prepared to put a stop to our work. When that time shall come we will consider it to be our duty to use all reasonable energy to maintain our legal rights and privileges and to keep the door open. When it shall close, in spite of our every endeavor, we will accept the result as being of divine providence and apply the Master's words, "Thou couldst have no power at all over me except it were given thee from above."—John 19:11.
Such proceedings in any other nation under the sun might be more reasonably expected than in this land. Nevertheless our attention has recently been drawn to an illustration of such a power in this country as we would not have imagined. The publishers of the Woman's Magazine of St. Louis started a banking arrangement amongst their subscribers, permitting banking and checking by mail. So far as we are able to understand the matter the entire arrangement was entirely honest and aboveboard. But about the time that the banking institution was ready to open, the Post Office Department prohibited it, declaring it to be fraudulent, and the publisher was cut off from all communication with the outside world because no mail was permitted to be delivered to him. Subsequently his journal, the Woman's Magazine, monthly, 10c per year, was prohibited from the mails as second-class matter under the claim that it was sold below cost. The publisher, apparently quite a wealthy man, seems to have spared no expense in his endeavor to obtain a hearing in the courts and a public examination of everything pertaining to his bank and to his magazine. He claims that he has thus far been unable to do this, and that he is practically helpless so far as any court of justice is concerned.
Without going into the merits of this case, of which we acknowledge we have little information aside from the publisher's plea, we nevertheless see in this feature of the law—so different from anything we could have anticipated in this land—something which could readily, we believe, be made applicable to this journal and the work of our Society in general when the time would come that it would be demanded by a large, influential party—when the time would come for the letting loose of the winds, the storms.
If these conditions should come about speedily, how would they find you and me, dear brother and sister? Could we look up to the Lord and say that we had been faithful over the few things committed to our care and had done what we could to advance the honor of the Lord's name and to bring his Truth, his gracious plan, to the attention of his followers? And could we thankfully acknowledge that we had received into good and honest hearts the precious message of the Truth, and that there we had the thing in our minds which we would not only be able to appreciate ourselves but be able to communicate to others if the time had passed when we could give them tracts or books? This is a very important question, dear friends, for it takes time to lay up this spiritual food in reserve, so that we could not only have it for the immediate present, but also enough for the coming emergencies.
Let us remember that it is not sufficient that we have the Bible, the DAWN STUDIES, upon our shelves or upon our tables. We need to use them, we need to partake of this bread, this meat in due season, this refreshment which our present Lord has supplied to us. In this connection we commend to all the dear friends afresh the suggestion thrown out by a dear sister about a year ago and commented upon in these columns. She remarked that herself and daughter had concluded to read over again the entire series of DAWN STUDIES, and that they found that the entire six volumes could be read through in a year by reading twelve pages each day. How much blessing would surely come to all by such a re-hungering, re-investigation, re-assimilation of the meat in due season. We call to your attention the fact that, so far as we are aware, no one has ever come fully, clearly, thoroughly into the light of Present Truth from the hearing of it preached orally—that all who have attained to a high development of knowledge and appreciation of the plan have done so by reading, studying. We suggest that this should govern us in respect to our endeavors to serve the flock and to strengthen ourselves.
Some not far advanced in the Truth may get the thought that the DAWN STUDIES, Berean Studies, etc., are not Bible studies. But all those who have made progress in the Truth are able to set them straight upon the matter, and to point out to them that this is Bible study of the most profitable kind they have ever engaged in: indeed that all of their previous study of the Bible amounted to nothing in comparison. Those familiar with the subject can readily show that the DAWN STUDIES merely give the Bible in arranged order which simplifies our comprehension of the divine plan and the divine book, and that the reference to the Scriptures continually keep before the mind of the students the fact that all stress, all authority, is laid upon the Word of God and not upon any human opinions.
We have a bit of news to communicate which we know will cause great rejoicing amongst the Bereans. It was apparently the Lord who put it into the heart of Brother C. J. Woodworth to go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and through all the volumes of the DAWN series and to make note of every sentence of Scripture treated or explained in the DAWNS. He [R3993 : page 149] started this work for his own benefit, beginning with the book of Ephesians. He writes us that he was astonished to find how very much of the text had been discussed in the various volumes of DAWN. He assures us that he never got so much blessing from anything in his life as he got in that preparation. He then determined to go through the entire Bible in the same manner. He suggested the desirability of putting this in the hands of all the dear friends, so far as possible. We acquiesced in the suggestion and inquired how long time would be needed for the preparation. The dear brother bent his energies to the labor of love and sent us the whole of the manuscript about the first of this month. He is a rapid workman, and in the Lord's providence was able to devote seven hours of each day from the last of November to the first of April to this work. So far as we have had time to examine it will prove a most valuable aid to the dear household of faith. One can turn to this and find in its columns first the words of Scripture, secondly a condensed interpretation taken from the DAWNS, and thirdly the reference is given, so that one can turn to the DAWN and have the argument in detail. This brief Bible Commentary is already in the hands of the typesetters.
With it we propose to republish the Topical Index which appeared in the back of the special WATCH TOWER BIBLE published some years ago, the entire edition of which, five thousand, was promptly taken by the friends. Additionally we have had prepared an "Instructor's Assistant," which groups under various heads brief quotations of appropriate proof-texts, citing the references in the Bible and also in the DAWN STUDIES. With this little compilation in his hand every WATCH TOWER reader may be an able and efficient teacher of the Word, qualified to give to him that asketh not only a reason for the hope within him but the proof-texts, and, beyond this, an ability to call to his assistance in expounding the subject the help in the DAWNS. With every reader thus an Evangelist we may hope that the progress of the Truth may be greatly enhanced. The two last-mentioned compilations have been made by Sisters Seibert and Sherman.
It is proposed that all three of these helps in the study of the Word and in the location of the DAWN references thereto, shall be published under one cover in a limp binding of a suitable size to carry under the cover of an ordinary portable Bible. The price will be such as to bring it within the means of all, and any WATCH TOWER readers too poor to purchase will be supplied with a copy free.
Instead of getting out another edition of the WATCH TOWER BIBLE published in 1902, it is proposed that we [R3993 : page 150] shall have another, very different in style, and in some respects a great improvement upon the former edition. The new WATCH TOWER BIBLE will be quite small, 4-5/8 x 7 inches, large pocket edition. It will be printed on India paper, be about 3/4 of an inch thick and very light in weight, and in addition to maps will have our own special helps above mentioned bound in at the back, namely: (1) The DAWN Study Commentary, with references; (2) The Topical Index, with Scriptural and DAWN Study references; (3) The Instructor's Assistant with references. These will all be bound with round corners, red under gold edges, divinity circuit. The binding will be of three grades, namely, the so-called French Seal will be the cheapest: including postage it will cost our subscribers $1.25 per copy—any quantity. The second grade will be the same, except that it will have linen linings, price $1.38. We will have no intermediate grades, our third being the very best Genuine Sealskin, calf-lined, silk-sewed. The price of this grade, including postage, will be $2.85—any quantity.
The patent index can be supplied on any of these Bibles at an additional cost of 25c per copy, but we do not recommend the index on so small a book. It is easy to place the fingers at the upper corner and run through the leaves so as to find any book desired.
The above prices are very special, obtained by reason of our ability to place a very large order. We have ordered 10,000 copies in these assorted bindings, and this is probably the largest order ever placed for India paper Bibles of one style. We feel confident that the book will be exactly what every WATCH TOWER reader will want, and have fixed the price at absolute cost. Six thousand of these Bibles are promised us this year and the remainder next year, but their preparation will require time. Do not expect them before next September. We are merely giving you timely announcement. Send in no orders until notified later on the second page of this journal.