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OUR SOCIETY'S very encouraging report for the old year in the December 15 issue naturally directs our mind to the New Year and inquires the prospects—the outlook. Our view respecting the financial and social outlook may appear to be prejudiced. We believe from the Scriptures that we are in that particular time which immediately precedes the great period of world-wide anarchy foretold by the Prophet Daniel as marking the end of Gentile Times and the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom. But while we expect such troubles and believe them near, it would be unwise for us to attempt to predict strife, lock-outs, panics, etc.—though all of these will be prominent factors in the precipitation of the anarchy which all so justly dread.
While the world is outwardly at peace, there is a great unrest in the hearts of humanity. The general increase of knowledge has brought general increase of dissatisfaction and ambition which cannot be satisfied, except in a very few instances. This discontent has already made itself felt in Russia and in Japan and is likely to precipitate trouble in India and China, the most populous parts of the world. Only the Lord knows to what extent and how long the winds of strife will be held, as pictorially set forth in Revelation.
Governments are beginning to learn that great battleships and military fortresses are sources of danger, as well as of protection. For instance, quite recently the government of Brazil purchased two war vessels of most modern type. Scarcely were they put into commission and manned by the Brazilian sailors when their crews rebelled. After considerable damage and loss, the government evidently feels that they are more of a menace than are foreign warships in their harbor. It has been suggested that the guns from the vessels be taken ashore and stored against time of need and to keep them out of the hands of rebels.
Similarly Portugal is having trouble. The revolution unseated the King and established a Republic, only to find that the soldiers and sailors now feel that they are masters of the situation and may demand such wages and treatment as they think proper. When the time is ripe the trained soldiers of Europe will probably have at their control the great arsenals and immense stores of war material for the overthrow of the governments which provided them. These are not pleasant prospects to hold up at the beginning of the year; but why should we deceive ourselves? Here in the United States we have had a somewhat similar exhibit. A street car strike in the capital city of Ohio has been maintained for months, accompanied by violence. The State Government has sought to maintain order, but has been able to do so only to a limited degree. Regiments of State militia, brought to the scene of trouble, sympathized with the strikers and declined to maintain order and were returned to their homes.
While there is a great deal of prosperity as compared with former times, the manufacturing plants of the world, equipped with modern machinery, have so large a capacity that business seems depressed, because only one-third of the possibilities are being accomplished. A semi-evident lack of confidence prevails, based upon the fact that the intelligent people know that there is not one-half the money necessary for business prosperity, because of the demonetization of silver. While this situation was brought about by the bankers and inures to their advantage in keeping up the rate of interest, nevertheless even for them it has its drawbacks, producing a feverish financial condition—a panicky condition in dread of a public loss of confidence and demand for deposits. Altogether there is an unquiet financial undertone or feverishness unfavorable to the smaller business interests; large and profitable enterprises are being well sustained financially, but these are retarded by the smaller industries and enterprises which they supply and, to some extent, depend upon for business. In a word, financial matters are top-heavy and nobody knows when something may occur to jostle and overturn them.
The newspapers have recently informed the world that at a recent Episcopal Church Council the world-famed multi-millionaire banker, J. Pierrepont Morgan, who was a delegate, contributed ten thousand dollars as a start for an expense fund, having for its object the organization of a religious trust. Mr. Morgan's well-known business capacity, exhibited in connection with financial trusts, encourages many to believe that he will accomplish the desired end in connection with the movement. More and more all denominations are craving a religious trust or Federation and are becoming more and more willing to sacrifice doctrines and principles formerly held dear, in order to accomplish the Federation. This is a confession of denominational weakness and an intimation that the strength and power to be gained by Federation is considered valuable. Prime movers in this undertaking dilate upon the great economy of the federated churches [R4735 : page 4] in respect to ministers and management. No doubt there is some truth in this, but the real reason lies deeper. It is believed that Federation would soon acquire a political power, and hence a financial backing, before which undesirable truths would be forced to seek shelter or be publicly pilloried and secretly ostracized.
Evidently this Federation is near at hand; the Scriptures have long foretold the Federation, as we have been pointing out therefrom for thirty years. It is to us one of the special signs of our day, one of the special indications marking the end of the Gospel Age and the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom.
The Scriptures are explicit in declaring that with the close of the Gospel call of this age and the completion of the Bride class Divine favor will turn again to natural Israel. We have from time to time noted favorable climatic conditions in Palestine and later on how the Zionist movement has stirred the Jews everywhere to an interest in their home land and a desire to re-possess it. But these hopes and ambitions have seemed impossible of attainment and the fervor of Zionism has recently been on the wane. Just at this juncture Divine Providence seemed to bless our message to the Jews. Most remarkably the message has been scattered all over the world, partly by Jewish journals interested in the message and partly by others opposing it—nevertheless The Voice (Die Stimme) has gone forth to the ends of the earth.
As a result Jewish hopes are turning more and more toward the prophecies of the Holy Scriptures. The result bids fair to be such a work of grace as the Scriptures describe when telling that the Lord will pour upon Israel at this time the spirit of prayer and supplication. The message to them now is that the land is theirs—that their period of chastisement is at an end and that shortly Divine blessing will come to them—not as Christians, but as Jews. Subsequently they will recognize the Spiritual Messiah referred to in Daniel 12:1. Their journey thenceforth will be an easy one, for the Kingdom will prevail, and Israel will be blessed and become the channel for Divine blessing to all the families of the earth—the chief blessing coming to them from the glorified Christ on the spirit plane and operating through his spiritual, invisible government.
Day by day it becomes more evident that there is a great sifting work in progress amongst those who have been so highly favored of the Lord in respect to Present Truth. During the past thirty years those who have not been thoroughly captivated by it, those who have not rejoiced to present their bodies living sacrifices in its interest, those who have been lukewarm rather than hot, are evidently being rejected of the Lord from any part or lot in the Kingdom of God. Others in turn are coming into the Truth—of all denominations and classes and ages. Some of these are ripening very rapidly. Indeed, some who have newly learned the Truth, at times put to shame those who have had much larger opportunities, but who have of late been neglecting them. Our advice still is that to keep thoroughly in touch with the Truth and to keep the world out of the heart, it will be found an excellent plan to read so many pages of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES daily—if possible twelve—because this reading permits a review of the entire six volumes in less than a year.
We still also recommend "the Vow." Surely it is proving a great blessing to many of the Lord's people, not only reminding them daily of their own interest in the Harvest Work, but also keeping them in a sympathetic and prayerful touch with all the brethren. And finally, amidst the increasing besetments of our day, it places a bulwark of resolution around the consecrated soldier of the Cross. But while this sifting and testing and purging of the Church is in progress it is noteworthy that the purged seem to be more earnest, more zealous, more faithful, more loyal to the Lord and to the Truth and to the brethren.
Additionally we note a broadening of the work within the past year, which, for aught we know, may continue during the year beginning. More than one thousand newspapers, reaching more than ten millions of people weekly, is certainly a broadening of the message of the love of God to every member of Adam's race. Similarly the public meetings of late have been much better attended than ever before and more interest has been manifested. We should expect this door to open still more widely during the coming year.
We have just contracted for the printing of forty thousand PEOPLES PULPITS per day for 1911, and we expect this amount, twelve millions, will not be too many for our Volunteer work and for use in advertising public meetings. Nevertheless we recognize that we have made a large contract and that ability to distribute this number depends upon the loyalty and zeal of the readers of this journal. We urge energy in this Volunteer work, not alone for the sake of the public, but also for the sake of WATCH TOWER readers. It is our experience that those who love the Lord most and who most appreciate his goodness and favor are those most anxious and most willing to circulate the message to others, and to these the Lord gives proportionate blessings. This, then, is our reason for urging WATCH TOWER readers everywhere to become preachers of the Truth in this simple manner, as well as orally, if they have the natural ability and opportunity.
On the whole, dear friends, it is our present opinion that the year 1911 offers greater opportunities for service of the Lord and the brethren and the Truth than any other in the past. Let us be zealous to do with our might what our hands find to do.
We deprecate everything akin to sensationalism and everything calculated to the spread of fear amongst the Lord's people. Our attitude, based upon our faith, should be that of confidence, serenity, knowing that the powers of evil, whatever they may accomplish with others, cannot harm the "elect," who abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Therefore let us put away fears as marks or evidences of lack of faith, lack of trust in him who has declared that "all things shall work together for good to those who love God, to those called according to his purpose."
But while deprecating fear we should not close our eyes to what we see going on about us. The courage we want and which the Lord will appreciate is not the courage which closes its eyes and refuses to see, but that which trusts the Lord in the presence of apparent danger.
We remind our readers that about two years ago a variety of incidents was brought to our attention, seeming to demonstrate that the fallen angels were more than ever active and that the evidences of their ability to materialize were increasing, and that their reported tendencies toward licentiousness comported well with the record of their fall, as portrayed in the Genesis account. [R4736 : page 5] At that time we suggested the possibility of evil spirits materializing, so as to personate some of the Lord's people and then committing flagrant crime, and dematerializing, vanishing, leaving the not-guilty one to face the righteous indignation aroused by the crime. We suggested that possibly, in some such manner, great odium might be brought upon the servants of the Truth and thus upon the Cause itself. We suggested further that possibly the same Divine providence which permitted the crucifixion of our Redeemer might permit such experiences, and that possibly through these a great persecution, as unjust as that which came upon Jesus and his followers eighteen centuries ago, might come upon us today.
For some two years we heard practically nothing along these lines. We had about concluded that the Adversary had misled our attention to this direction, in order that he might make the more serious attack upon the minds and hearts of the consecrated. Now, however, after two years of silence, we have a report from far-off Australia which seems to confirm our worst fears as respects the course that will be pursued in the time of trouble by the demons, the fallen angels.
Brother Nicholson, of the Australian Branch, writes us of an astounding circumstance. One of the Australian Brethren has a wife who is neither for nor against the Truth, and who professes no sympathy for Spiritism. Quite recently the Brother, returning to his home, had a harrowing tale related by his wife. She declared that Brother Russell had appeared to her. (Possibly she had seen his photograph). She declared that he made improper proposals, to which she yielded.
At such a distance it is easy enough to prove an alibi—to prove that the Editor was not there. But suppose the materialization in all of its particulars had transpired in Brooklyn, or in the Bethel home, or in any of the various cities which the Editor visits in the preaching of the gospel, or in a Pullman sleeping car, in which he frequently travels—it is easily seen than an alibi might be very difficult to prove in such cases. And what would be true in this respect of the Editor might be true in some respects of many of the Pilgrim brethren; yea, true of all of the Lord's people everywhere.
How few of mankind know of these fallen angels, or believe at all in their power to communicate with men! How few, especially, believe in their power to materialize! Could we blame such people if they should mob the innocent under such conditions? Would not all explanations seem like foolishness to them? If such matters as this shall form any part of the Church's experiences during the year 1911, it will mean very stirring times indeed and that some of us wholly innocent may have opportunity of dying cruel and very ignominious deaths, after the manner of the Master.
Nothing in all this need make the Lord's consecrated people timid or fearful. Nothing can by any means harm us as New Creatures. If such experiences come to us, let us decide, as did the Master, that it is the cup that the Father has poured for us, and let us seek his aid in the drinking of it with courage. Whatever may be the Lord's portion of experience for us, his grace is sufficient, and he is able to make an ignominious death a joyful one to those who put their trust in him.
Chronology (time prophecies in general) was evidently not intended to give God's people accurate chronological information all the way down the path of the centuries. Evidently it is intended more to serve as an alarm clock to awaken and energize the Lord's people at the proper time.
We have no fault to find with the chronology, nor with the prophetic periods built upon it, as already presented to our readers in STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. We would not know how to improve on the statements therein presented if the books were to be written today.
But let us suppose, for instance, that October, 1914, should pass and that no serious fall of Gentile power would occur. What would this prove or disprove? It would not disprove any feature of the Divine Plan of the Ages. The ransom-price finished at Calvary would still stand the guarantee of the ultimate fulfillment of the great Divine Program for human restitution. The "high calling" of the Church to suffer with the Redeemer and to be glorified with him as his members or as his Bride would still be the same. There would still be the two salvations—the one on the spirit plane to which we are called now; the other to the human plane under the terms of the New Covenant during Messiah's blessed reign. It would still be true that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. It would still be true that it is for the called to be faithful, in order to be chosen—to make their calling and their election sure. The only thing effected by the chronology would be the time for the accomplishment of these glorious hopes for the Church and for the world.
Suppose that our chronological calculations (never set forth as infallible) should prove to be fallible and in error. Our conclusion would merely be that the error could not be very great. Outward signs of restitution multiplying on every hand tell us that the rising of the Sun of Righteousness is near at hand. Church Federation tendencies attest the same thing, corroborating the Scriptures respecting the conditions which will prevail at the very closing of this age. The movement amongst the Jews similarly implies an awakening and a preparation for Messiah much in harmony with what we must expect in the close of this age. The stress along the lines of social, political and financial affairs all indicate that the great time of trouble and anarchy with which this age will end cannot be far off—cannot lie much, if any, beyond October, 1914. And if that date pass it would merely prove that our chronology, our "alarm clock," went off a little before the time.
Would we consider it a great calamity if our alarm clock awakened us a few moments earlier in the morning of some great day full of joy and pleasure? Surely not! Rather we would say that we were glad that the alarm went off early and that we were around early, so that we could see, appreciate and enjoy more.
We are in the morning of the New Dispensation. We give thanks to the Lord daily for the privilege of living in this wonderful time—and for the privilege of having our eyes of understanding opened to appreciate the Divine Plans for this day. If, then, it should prove eventually that the crisis of earthly government will not be reached by the end of 1914, should we not be very faithful anyway, and remember that had it not been for that alarm clock which helped to awaken us from the worldly stupor, we might not yet have been sufficiently awake to appreciate and enjoy the wonderful spiritual blessings which daily crown our lives?
The Editor thanks God for any and everything which has helped to awaken him to an appreciation of the length and the breadth and the height and the depth of the Divine Plan now visible to the "household of faith." The Editor will not repine, but thank God, even if the expected time shall pass without seeing the fruition of our every hope. He feels convinced that "Who led us first will lead us still," and gladly sinks into his will.
The Editor requests that the dear friends who send him Greetings at this season do not expect personal replies, which are impossible. Such will please accept, with all WATCH TOWERS readers, his best wishes for their best interests during 1911 A.D. As no special Motto Card for 1911 was prepared he here offers the following:—