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WHILE IT MAY BE difficult to clearly prognosticate the future in respect to God's "times and seasons" relating to the Church and her glorification, the world's time of trouble and the New Epoch of "joy for all people," we may surely expect all the time and increasingly tribulations: "Marvel not if the world hate you; ye know that it hated me before it hated you; if ye were of the world, the world would love its own"; "I have chosen you out of the world" and ordained you.
How should these attacks be received? may be a question with some. Our answer is, With patient endurance and without bitterness of heart, but with sympathy, recognizing that "they know not what they do." The Lord's people must never retaliate, must never render railing for railing, accusation for provocation, blow for blow, but must ever keep in memory the example of the Lord and the Apostles.
This, however, does not mean that the Lord's people may not use means provided by law for their defense, when it seems wise for them to do so. Jesus protested against being stoned in violation of the Law. St. Paul defended himself in court before Felix, as well as upon other occasions. He became the plaintiff and aggressor in his dispute with the Jews when he appealed his case to Rome. Similarly we, if persecuted contrary to the law under which we live, are at liberty to appeal our case before the courts, but not at liberty to take matters into our own hands to judge and punish our enemies.
When the Apostle reproved some of the early Church for going to law with each other, the stress of his argument [R4941 : page 462] was that brethren should adjudicate their own troubles amongst themselves and not go to law before unbelievers—not ask unbelievers to judge between Christians. This has no bearing upon our dealing with unbelievers, who can be dealt with only through the public courts. If nominal Christians should set up the claim that they are believers, the answer then would be that in the same sense the courts are courts of believers and that, therefore, the action before them would not be before unbelievers.
We must expect that the opposition of the world, the flesh and the Devil will increase in virulence. Thus our faith in the Lord and in each other—our meekness, gentleness, patient endurance, long-suffering, brotherly kindness, love—will be in the crucible for refining. And the experiences, properly received, may be reckoned amongst the "all things" guaranteed to work together for good to all those who love the Lord, to the called according to his purpose.—Rom. 8:28.
IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS
Dear Lord, with sorrow, I confession make
That while with joy I suffer for Thy sake,
Yet in the cares with which my days abound,
Where I should smile, I fear I often frown.
In days gone by I've murmured o'er and o'er,
And unkind words have left me feeling sore;
Those whom I come in contact with each day,
Disturb me oft by things they do and say.
And thoughtless actions have left such a sting
I could not find it in my heart to sing.
Lord, I'll be honest with myself and Thee,
I have not been as sweet as I should be.
And I have said, "Too hard the wind doth blow,
Too hot the day, too much rain or snow,"
And tho' at times I've checked the hasty word,
Still, in my heart rebellious murmurs stirred.
And I have thought that I could grow in grace
Much better, were I in another's place.
Lord, to this whole long list I guilty plead;
And I am grieved o'er it, I am indeed;
And I am come to make a Vow to Thee,
That in the coming year, whate'er shall be
My portion, trials, cares, vexations, pain,
Dear Lord, I will not murmur nor complain.
And I will say when I arise each morn,
This day my Lord wants me to overcome,
"In everything give thanks," this is His Word;
And I will school my heart to sweet accord.
I'll thank Him for the sun, and for the rain;
I'll thank Him for the sorrow and the pain;
And in the things which try my patience so
I'll thank Him that I have a chance to show
How Sweet and Kind and Loving I can be,
How much His Holy Spirit dwells in me.
Dear Lord, I'll trust Thee tho' I do not know
Why I should walk the path I'm called to go.
I'll give Thee thanks whatever be the way
Which Thou shalt lead me in from day to day;
Relying on Thy grace to see me through,
Lord, this is what I've promised Thee to do.
REBECCA FAIR DONEY.