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ONE dear Brother writes that he feels fearful of the word Vow, but that he would have much pleasure in taking the Vow, if it were termed merely a Resolution. We mention this fact because there may be others similarly confused as to the meaning of the word Vow. A Vow, as defined by the dictionary and set forth by the WATCH TOWER, is merely a Solemn Resolution of the heart expressed to the Lord,nothing more, nothing less. "Lord, I Vow," merely signifies, "Lord, by thine assisting grace I have resolved, and do resolve, that I will do and be," etc.
By all means let those who have any mental conscientious scruples against the little word Vow make it in the form of a Solemn Resolution, as above outlined. Encouraging reports, from every direction, are constantly coming in, many of them from classes.
We again urge the dear friends who have taken the Vow that they do not speak or think unkindly of any who have not taken it, but that they remember that "To his own Master each must stand or fall." Let us think kindly, lovingly, of those who follow not with us in this particular. Let no unkind word or criticism be uttered. Similarly we urge those who have not taken the Vow that they will do wisely not to oppose the brethren who have taken itnot to "smite" them with their tongues or otherwise.
If this Vow is of the Lord all of his faithful ones by and by will recognize it. Let us remember that one of the chief tests of this harvest time is love for the brethren, and that another is humility. Let us each see to it that these fruits of the Spirit, love and humility, are very prominent in our own words, thoughts and acts. And let us mark those who [R4299 : page 382] cause divisions amongst you by a lack of these, by harsh and unkind words and by bombastic claims of superior wisdom, etc. "Do men gather grapes of thorn-bushes?" "By their fruits ye shall know them."Rom. 16:17; Phil. 3:17.
Remember the words "reasonably possible" in the Vow and give them full weight. They cover practically every exigency that could arise. If, for instance, one is in the house of another, it is not reasonably possible nor proper that he should attempt to regulate the doors, but merely have a preference, in harmony with the Vow. Even in his own house the temperature of the weather, or other considerations, might make it unreasonable or improper to have the door open. One who opposed the Vow objected that if he took it and should happen to be alone with one of the opposite sex in a railroad car, he would be obliged to get out. But this is an absurd application, contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the Vow, which makes no mention of elevators, etc.
The natural man will find the Vow very close and stringent. The New Creature will find a sufficiency of elasticity in the words "reasonably possible," and, "As he would do in the presence of a congregation of the Lord's people." For instance, a physician and patient would properly prefer that necessary treatment be less public than before a congregation, yet they would prefer a third party to be present and, in any event, would desire and endeavor that the entire procedure be as modestly performed as though an entire congregation were onlookers. This is both the letter and the spirit of the Vow.
We again remind you that through love for the brethren and fear of stumbling some who take a peculiar view of this matter, we have decided not to publish the names of those who have taken the Vow, or made this Resolution. We have no desire to make it a test of fellowship; still, it is our confidence, that under the Lord's leading, all of his consecrated people will shortly see "eye to eye" on this subject. We remark, however, that the number of those who have taken a stand in opposition to the Vow is comparatively smallabout a score. But they seem to make up in bitterness of spirit [R4300 : page 382] what they lack in numbers. Let us hope and pray that the Lord will recover them from this snare, so that brotherly love and humility may again be controlling influences in their hearts, and also control their tongues and pens.
Meantime let us make sure that no roots of bitterness are planted by us who have taken the Vow. One of its special provisions is "A closer scrutiny, if possible, than ever, of our words and thoughts and deeds," to have all in harmony with the Lord. Let us not forget that the benefits we derive from the Vow are not from the taking of it merely, but from the keeping of it, from permitting it to draw us nearer to the Lord"Under the shadow of the Almighty."