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WHEN our worthy President and also his Holiness the Pope requested Christian people to pray God for the cessation of the European war, we declared that the prayer was not in harmony with the Divine arrangement and would not be answered. We pointed out that according to the Scriptures the 2520 years of Gentile dominion ended in September, 1914; and that the war is the one predicted in the Scriptures as associated with the Great Day of Almighty God—"the Day of Vengeance of our God." We pointed out the Word of the Lord through the Prophet Joel respecting the gathering of all nations to the Valley of Jehoshaphat—the valley of death.—Joel 3:1-12.
The experiences of Elijah in the closing of his ministry showed us how the Great Day of the Lord will be ushered in: first, the wind rending the rocks, representing the present war; secondly, the great earthquake, representing the Revolution that will follow the present war; thirdly, the fire, representing the Anarchy that will follow the Revolution; fourthly, "the still, small Voice" of God—which will follow the anarchy in the world—through Messiah's Kingdom speaking, "Peace! be still!" "Beat your spears into pruninghooks and your swords into plowshares, and learn war no more!"—Micah 4:3.
We see no reason for thinking that the present war will terminate until either Great Britain or Germany has a decisive victory upon the sea. The strife between these two has been fomenting for thirty years. Each has wished the destruction of the other's fleet and colonies, but dreaded the war which would accomplish these ends, well knowing in advance that it would be a terrible one. The unfortunate circumstances which suddenly led up to Austria's assault upon Servia, Russia's defense of Servia, and France's revenge for Alsace-Lorraine, involving Germany on both sides, presented Great Britain the long-sought opportunity for crushing her commercial rival. It seems improbable that the British would now consent to cessation of war until a complete victory would be had over Germany, or until her own existence would be in jeopardy.
So far as at present may be discerned, nothing very decisive may be expected before Spring. Meantime, the soldiers are perishing, vast debts are accumulating and the industries of peace are being neglected. By and by, doubtless, the people will awaken to a saner view of the matter, and ask themselves why the people of Europe cannot live as happily there as they can live together in the United States. By and by they will raise the question as to why it should be wrong to murder one another at any private behest, and yet right to slay one another at the command of kings and kaisers. By that time the earthquake stage of the trouble will be near.
When the Earthquake, or Revolution, so prominently mentioned in the Scriptures shall have come, that, no doubt will be the time when the kings and the captains of industry, of finance and of politics will in self-defense greatly exalt the power of religious leaders. Then we may expect that the Federation of Churches will exercise a power in the world such as has not been since the days of Papal supremacy. In the symbolic language of Revelation, that will be the time in which the "Image of the Beast" will have life and work great wonders, threatening, commanding, in the name of Heaven.—Rev. 13:11-18.
The effect of the war is not unfavorable in all respects. From Europe we have the word that a great religious impression is being made upon the people by the war. In their own distress and the distress of their loved ones on the battlefield, there is a natural tendency to turn to Heaven for help. At the same time there is a quickening of understanding. People are more ready to think than previously. Told that the soldiers are fighting for the Lord's Cause, and with the implication given that those who die are more or less martyrs for the cause of right (and are therefore heirs of Heaven), the people are fighting valiantly.
The newspapers tell them how the Catholics and the Protestants of Great Britain are praying for the Allies against their enemies; and how the German churches, Catholic and Protestant, are praying for the Germans and against the Allies. The people are wondering and will wonder still more as they think further as to how these different prayers can be answered—how the Germans could be taken to Heaven for fighting against the Allies and the Allies be taken to Heaven for fighting against the Germans! With all their thinking some will be sure to wonder whether or not these are reasonable conclusions, and what is their foundation.
On the other hand, they will think of the Hell of fire and the Purgatory of suffering taught them from infancy; and if all the soldiers are going to Heaven, they will wonder who is going to Hell. The sober thinking which the war is engendering will, no doubt, be helpful in the end, however unreasonable some of the conditions may be in the beginning. Saner views must ultimately come.
The American people are in some respects suffering more from the war than are the people of Europe; for [R5601 : page 4] the traffic of the world is temporarily hindered. They have not the business stimulus which prevails in Europe, because of military preparation there.
Americans, too, have a better opportunity of taking a calm, unprejudiced view of the war than have the people of Europe, who are so close to it and so liable to be influenced by the specious arguments of crafty leaders who tell them that the war is necessary for the maintenance of civilization—putting on their own construction as to what is real civilization. Partisan spirit, called patriotism, runs high in the countries engaged in the strife. The newspapers defend and uphold the governments; so do the preachers; so do the orators. The few who take the saner and correct view of matters are forced to silence.
From a distance the war seems most unreasonable. Germany should be allowed to build as many ships as she desires, until her people, vexed and worn out with the cost of militarism, will insist on a change of governmental policy. Great Britain should be allowed to have as many ships as she wants and as her people are willing to pay for. Each nation should be allowed to do all the business she can do justly, honestly.
Christian ministers should have long ago pointed out to the people that the present kingdoms of Europe are not God's kingdoms, but human institutions; and that all these, according to the Bible, will eventually pass away at the inauguration of Messiah's Kingdom. The reverence of the Lord should have been taught, and patient waiting for His time and way. The effect of the war has certainly in America been favorable to Christian enlightenment. People who may be said never to have thought before on religious subjects are thinking now, thinking hard, and many are reaching reasonably sane conclusions.
The work which our Society has been doing in the world for several years is bearing some fruitage. People who sneered at the thought of Christ's Millennial Kingdom [R5602 : page 4] being imminent, and who trusted for a time that the world would be converted by the nominal churches, are now awakening to a realization of the fact that the fulfilment of the Lord's Prayer is the only real salvation of the world, and are continually praying, with more meaning than before, "Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, even as in Heaven." They are beginning to realize that not only have the heathens abroad doubled within a century, but that the heathenism at home is much greater than they had believed, and that the so-called Christianization of modern civilization is but a thin veneer.
All these conditions are favorable. Every tract and every book circulated now is likely to do three or four times as much good as in times past; for the people are getting awake to read, awake to think. Not only so, but they are more and more coming to doubt the theology of the creeds, and to see that the majority of ministers neither teach from the Bible nor believe in it as the only and the inspired Revelation of the Divine purposes.
We are well aware that some of our dear readers have the thought that the Gentile Times having closed, the Gospel Message was closed. Some of these brethren feel that it is useless to continue the Message. We cannot sympathize with their reasoning. The Divine command was that they should preach the Word, not until the close of Gentile Times, but until the Church would be completed. Just how long it will be before the Church will be completed we cannot say, but we do believe it is our privilege to tell the Good Tidings as long as there are hungry hearts to receive the Message; and we do believe that some of those coming to a knowledge of the Truth now are amongst the finest characters that have ever come into the Truth.
We believe also that the evidences strongly favor the thought that some of those who have recently come into the Light are fully received of the Lord into the blessings and privileges of the Church—His members. Some of them have the real spirit of sacrifice, which is one of the sure signs. They manifest a love for the Truth, which is another favorable sign. The Lord grants them clearness of understanding in the Truth, which is another indication of their having been begotten of the Holy Spirit. Some of them are willing and glad to suffer for the sake of the Truth, which is one of the best evidences that we could ask that they have received the Spirit of Christ.
So long as we see such evidences of the Lord's blessing by the preaching of His Word, should we falter, should we hesitate? Should we not rather be enthusiastic and redouble our efforts in the service of the King and for the service of the brethren, that they may be delivered from the bondage of ignorance and superstition into the glorious light of the knowledge of God?
We are asked, Did not the forty years of Harvest seem to close with the end of Gentile Times? We answer, Yes; we had so expected. But we remember that the Jewish harvest, which was a picture the Lord drew, was a little different from our harvest. Under the Law, the Jews were commanded to leave the corners of their fields unreaped, so that there might be something for the gleaners to do after the regular harvesters had done their work, that while the barns were being filled and the tares were being bundled and burned, making ready for a new crop, the gleaners might gather the wheat from the corners of the harvest field. Perhaps the present work is largely that of gleaning. It would appear so.
Looking back at the Jewish Harvest, we perceive that it ended in the year 69 A.D., but that certain features of the Harvest work continued over into the year A.D. 70. The burning of the chaff took place then. While that was in progress and the nation of Israel was being overthrown, doubtless there was a gleaning work, as the eyes of understanding began to open and as the people began to realize the fulfilment of Scripture. And just so it seems to be here. Shall we not be earnest in our endeavor to do this gleaning work? Surely we will be if we still maintain our love for the Lord's name and character! This will lead us to tell forth His glorious character, to show forth the errors which have beclouded the name of our Heavenly Father by misrepresenting His Divine Plan of the Ages. Surely we will be energetic in this work if our love for the brethren continues; for we see many who seem to be true children of God still in great darkness respecting the great and wonderful Truths to which our eyes of understanding have opened.
But some may say, "Did we not read between the lines in the Society's Annual Report that the financial streams were drying up? And have we not heard that thirteen DRAMAS have been withdrawn, representing fifty exhibitions per day explanatory of the Divine Plan of the Ages? And does this not indicate that God's time has come for closing down the work?"
Our reply is that these things are so, but that we have a reason to surmise that God intends to send us in His own way further financial support, that His Message may go forth with great force throughout the whole world! With this in view, we are having all the DRAMAS overhauled and put into good order, anticipating that the funds to operate them will be in our hands shortly. Although we [R5602 : page 5] are still walking by faith and not by sight, we urge upon all the dear friends everywhere to slack not their hand in the Divine service, but rather to continue to labor and to wait, assured of God's favor and blessing in any event.
More than this, we suggest that all the dear brethren who have been active in the DRAMA work, and who are temporarily discontinued, do not enter into other business permanently, but hold themselves in readiness for this wonderful means of proclaiming the Truth which reaches so many people and gives them so much satisfaction and enlightenment respecting the Bible and its true Message. We also urge others who have not been with the DRAMA, but who may have knowledge of operating moving-picture films and stereopticon slides, that they make themselves as proficient as possible and advise us of their willingness and readiness and ability for this service.
We request all I.B.S.A. Classes to consider well if they have any brethren of special ability whom they could recommend to the Society for such openings as may come: (1) Men clear in the Truth and loyal to it, ready to lay down their lives for it; (2) men of good address and possessing a talent for public speaking and an ability to speak grammatically. We want to have a list of these, that we may call for them if opportunity offers. But be sure that you conscientiously answer the questions above, and that you do not recommend any to the Society except those who would be a credit to the Truth and its service. There may be other ways in which some could serve without the talent of public speaking and without any particular knowledge of grammar; but for the public service the Society believes it to be the Lord's will that His Truth should be presented in a creditable form.
Quite a number of our readers have had more or less experience in Colporteur work. Some of them have withdrawn from the service because of inability to meet their expenses, even though the Society gave them the books at less than cost—one half the selling price. Any such Colporteur, who has some ability and who could re-enter the work under favorable conditions, is requested to drop us a postcard stating willingness to re-enter and stating the number of books he was able to sell when in the service. Some of these might be assisted in one way or another so as to help them back again to this very important Colporteur work. We have methods and instructions now, by the use of which many are successful who formerly were unsuccessful.
The Volunteer work for 1915 should not be forgotten. As stated before, the people are awake and reading, whereas before many of them neglected the literature handed them. Now is the time to put a piece of literature into every home in your own city and to ascertain whether or not the adjoining towns and villages have been served—thus to extend your service in the Harvest work. We are ready to supply this literature free, paying the freight to destination. Send in your orders that they may be filled as promptly as possible.
In our Report we pointed out that, although only recently started, the EUREKA DRAMA service is proving a very efficient one, especially where it is taken into the small villages and cities. Empty churches, court houses, schoolhouses, etc., are very generally obtainable, when the people know that they are to have a very interesting entertainment free of charge. Some of the Classes have obtained these EUREKA DRAMAS by a partial payment down, the Society waiting on them for their greater convenience to pay the remainder. As these remainders are paid we are able to give out other DRAMA sets. Thus the work progresses. The blessing in every case seems to be not only to the public, but especially to those of the dear friends who are serving the public.
Be of good courage and the Lord shall strengthen your heart! Let us be loyal, faithful, and forget not the cultivation of all the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit. Thus shall we best be prepared for the glorious consummation of our hopes, which we believe so near at hand!