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OUR year text for 1909 is, "MY HELP COMETH FROM THE LORD." (Psa. 121:2.) We have just received a large importation of most beautiful cards bearing this text and supplemented with a Calendar, the top leaf of which records "The Vow," which can be torn off by those who so prefer. The cards are dark green, with a velvet finish, embellished with a spray of pansies. The white letters of the text embossed upon the velvety ground stand out beautifully. We have filled all orders to date, but still have a good supply. The usual price of such cards is 35 cents, postpaid; our price is 15 cents, by reason of getting amounts in so large a quantity and supplying them to our readers at cost price. We trust that this beautiful text will be very impressive and helpful to all of us throughout the year. It is full of meaning, from whatever standpoint considered. If we mistake not, the Lord's dear people never needed help more than at the present time. The difficulty with some, however, is that they do not realize their need. "When they are strong, then they are weak." "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." "Let us fear, lest a promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it."—Heb. 4:1.
The text reminds us further that those who need help and who realize it should look to the Lord for it—not relying upon their own strength or wisdom nor upon the assistance of their fellows. We are not to despise assistance from any quarter, but our chief reason for receiving any assistance should be our conviction that it has come from the Lord, whether through the ear or through the eye and the printed page or however. We are to remember that we are contending against a great Adversary and wily foe, and that we are not sufficient of ourselves to conquer, but that our only hope is in abiding in the Lord's love, by seeking to do those things which are pleasing to him and heeding the counsel of his Word and the leadings of his providence. A little carelessness along these lines, and the Adversary might readily entrap us and ensnare us and then lead us captive at his will. Ah, yes! we have the assurance of the Lord that there is but one place of safety at this time—into which more and more deeply we penetrate day by day. This place of safety is under the shadow of the Almighty, which figuratively signifies very close to the Lord. "No harm can come nigh that dwelling place," so far as the New Creature is concerned. Trials, tribulations, slanders may be exercised against us [R4311 : page 14] according to the flesh, but these cannot harm us as New Creatures, nor even disturb our peace of soul, while we are close to the Lord.
Recently we called attention to the fact that the evil spirits, the fallen angels, are to be permitted special liberties in this "evil day"; and that we might expect from them intrusions and deceptions from materializations. But while guarding that point we omitted to note another, perhaps equally dangerous, or more so, because more subtle. This we must consider now. Undoubtedly the fallen angels have had more or less power throughout the past, not merely to obsess or physically possess those who yield their wills, but power to measurably influence the minds of those who would resist them, and always by putting darkness for light. As a notable illustration of this, remember Judas, who, after brooding over the fact that our Lord's cause was not bringing him great honor and wealth, premeditated shaking matters up, incidentally gaining thirty pieces of silver and arousing our Lord to practically assert himself and take a stand, in harmony with his power.
It was after this brooding that he was still further offended, while he ate at the Lord's table and said, "Is it I?" And when the Lord had intimated that it was he who would betray him, he became more determined to do so. We read, "Satan entered into him." His does not seem to be the case of obsession, but rather of domination of the mind. Satan, who had been striving to gain control, got the mastery when Judas was angry with the Lord's reference to him as a traitor.
Our thought is that the evil spirits have been restrained in considerable measure from intruding upon the minds of men. Otherwise the world would have become Bedlam long ago. But our thought now is that their liberties with the saints will be increased, with a view to the closing test or decision in respect to character, which is now due. "Judgment must begin at the house of God," but it is to extend in this hour of temptation or trial to "all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth." That which will begin with the Church will end with the world, producing the most awful state of affairs imaginable, "A time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." (Dan. 12:1.) This power of intrusion will contain, we believe, evil suggestions, promoting slanders and back-biting and temporarily, at least, derange the judgment and lead to violences of various kinds, of which the same person, under other circumstances and conditions would not have thought. In a word, the difficulty will be a dementia of passion, strife, hatred and unreason.
We see evidences along this line at the present time and it is our duty to sound the warning for the benefit of those not already so twisted as to be unable to appreciate the situation. Such manifestations of evil spirits—malice, hatred, envy, strife, evil-speaking, back-biting, slanders, etc., circle around the VOW and those who have taken it, with violence and opposition for which we cannot otherwise account. Those under this influence seem impervious to argument, to reason, but open to every imaginable suggestion of evil. They seem to lose entirely the spirit of love, the spirit of Truth, the spirit of a sound mind. At first we were dazed by such conditions, affecting some whom we had highly esteemed, but at last the solution above stated has come. In the light of it the whole situation is clear. It bids us have sympathy for the deluded ones and be on guard for ourselves.
To illustrate: One dear Brother, to whose violent letter of opposition we adverted in our issue of October 15, afterwards came dangerously near a mental collapse, in connection with which he received spirit messages by raps, yet was so off guard that it did not occur to him to question the source. His mind, though previously humble, was led to aspire to the management of the WATCH TOWER, and he found types and evidences in the Bible which led him to assume that God purposed a change in the management of the Harvest Work. It was under the influence of this erroneous sentiment that this dear Brother, whom we have dearly loved, and still love, wrote us a terribly bitter letter, for which he has since apologized in most kindly terms. He now freely acknowledges that he was under demoniacal influence and inspiration. He has recovered his balance; praise the Lord! But we regret that he has not yet taken the VOW or RESOLUTION to God; that he apparently does not yet see that it was this very item by which the Adversary gained an entrance to his mind. Ah! if the dear Brother had taken the VOW, how it would have proved a power of the Lord for his protection, along the very lines of his besetment:—
(2) Would not the Resolution to more carefully than ever, if possible, guard every thought and word and deed have helped this dear Brother to avoid every high imagination and have kept him from saying with his tongue and writing with his pen the acrimonious words which he has since retracted?
(3) Would not the declaration of the VOW to remember daily the harvest laborers and to consider his own privileges in the harvest work have helped this dear brother, by filling his mind and hands with the work the Lord had already committed to him, and thus have kept him from hankering after, and endeavoring to grasp, what the Lord had not committed to him?
(4) Would not the Resolution to be on guard against Spiritism and Occultism in every form have warned the brother against the spirit-rappings, visions, etc., which almost worked his ruin? We believe that it surely would have done so and we are hoping yet that the Brother will heartily put himself under that VOW to the Lord—whether calling it a VOW or a RESOLUTION.
Dear brethren, we cannot express to you our deep love for you all, and interest in your welfare, nor can we express our sorrow that our endeavor to help you by suggesting the VOW, or RESOLUTION, to the Lord should be so unkindly received by some, and awaken in them such opposition and animosity. The more often we read the VOW, the less do we see in it to cause offense to any sound-headed or sound-hearted brother or sister—the less do we see that any one could reasonably oppose, unless his judgment were misguided by the evil spirits, as in the case above cited. We are not, by any means, condemning those who have not taken the VOW. That is a matter of their own business. And if otherwise they are children of God and manifest his spirit, we should recognize and treat them and love them in every sense of the word as brethren. If they do not yet see the importance of this safeguard, we believe that they will see it later. Our urgency on this subject is similar to that of the Apostle, when he says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable [R4312 : page 14] service." (Rom. 12:1.) And "Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way."
After what we have witnessed of the power of evil operating in the minds of some and producing characteristics which the Apostle denominates "Works of the flesh and the devil," we can scarcely be surprised at anything which the Adversary might accomplish along these lines. But while we fear lest we should come under any such influence ourselves, and while we watch and pray lest we enter into temptation, we should not be cast down, nor hindered in any measure or degree, in respect to the service of our King. He [R4312 : page 15] is able and willing to keep in perfect peace those who are trusting him, those who are following his leadings and coming close to him, even "under the shadow of the Almighty." The VOW has helped many to take this stand, thank God! And in proportion as it is taken, we believe that it will still further help, not only those who have taken it, but also those who have not taken it, but have heard and appreciate, in a measure, its warning voice. The words of the Apostle, "Who shall be able to stand in that evil day," never seemed more full of meaning to us than now, and never have we felt more than now our need of every piece of the Divine armor, and of every cord at our disposal to bind the sacrifice securely to the altar.
So then, while still expecting the attacks of the Adversary along the lines of materialization, hypnotism and occultism in general, we perceive that from inoculation of our minds with evil surmisings, saints have probably the most to dread. An important question is, How can we be on guard against this insidious snare? The reply is, By keeping very close to the Lord. Apparently the least deviation from the principles of righteousness in our thoughts, the least violation of justice or love in our thoughts, would open the way for the enemy to inject poison, leaven, malice, envy, hatred and strife.
We still urge the VOW as a great help in this time of stress, and one that you will appreciate more and more as you discern how the Lord is using it for your blessing and protection. But if, for fear that you cannot keep it, or for any other reason, you fail to take it, we counsel that you at least have its various provisions in mind, and seek to shape all of your various affairs day by day along those lines. But do not forget that our help comes from the Lord and that the VOW is of assistance to us only as it helps us to approach near to him, and to abide in his love, and in harmony with his divine Word, in thought, in word, in deed.