ANSWER—If Papacy should hold to Christ, should we deny Christ? I guess not. Papacy did not get only that which was wrong; Satan was too smart for that. There is a lot that is true in Papacy, but the trouble is that there is so much error that the truth is vitiated, and they are not able to use the truth because of the error. Thank God, if we get rid of the error and hold the truth.
What about Palm Sunday? I do not think that the Catholics made that, but that Jesus gave it to us centuries before there was a Catholic church. When Jesus rode on the ass, it was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zec. 9:9. Now, when the people began to put their garments in the way and to shout, Hosanna, who was it that forbade it? It was the Pharisees, not the Roman Catholic church. Who said, Let them alone? It was Jesus. Palm Sunday was [Page Q523] not established by the Roman Catholic church. The palm represented the victorious ride of the King through the city.
Well, Brother Russell, you sometimes have a discourse upon that subject. Well, is that not right? At another time I have a discourse and call attention to the death of our Redeemer. Why not? Do the Catholics do me out of that? I guess not.
Well, how about Good Friday? It is just as good as any other day to me. If any wish to keep Friday as a special remembrancer of Christ's death, I have no objection. If they find it profitable to do this, God bless them—let them do what they are trying to do to remember the day upon which our Redeemer died.
What about Sunday morning? I do not know what that means. Why should we not celebrate it; we are all interested in it? The heathen are not interested in it. The Catholics celebrate Easter Sunday, but they do not know anything about the resurrection. They think that when a man dies that he is more alive than before. They know that resurrection is in the Bible, but they do not know what it means. Of all the people upon the earth, we are the only ones that really want a resurrection, and if there are any people who should celebrate it, I want to celebrate it. If any one has objections to it because the Catholics do it, he has a right to his objections. I want to think that every Sunday represents the resurrection of our Lord, and about the time of the annual celebration, I like to see the cross brought forth in the various discourses, as it shows that the claims of justice will be satisfied through it, and that under the new arrangement there will be a resurrection of the dead. So, to me, the resurrection of the dead and Sunday become more precious every day.
ANSWER—You remember the thief asked the Lord a special request, saying: Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy Kingdom. Our Lord has not come into His Kingdom yet, and hence the time when that thief wished to be remembered has not come. We are still praying, "Thy Kingdom come, etc." If Christ had His Kingdom, we would not be praying thus. The Lord answered the thief's request just as he requested. The word rendered "verily" means the same as "amen," so be it. I will remember you when' I come into my Kingdom.
How, then, did it come that we got the wrong idea? It was because we were not fully posted in the Word of God. When our Lord died He did not go to paradise, but He went into the tomb. We read that God raised Christ from the dead; He was dead and rose from the dead on the third day, and He did not come back from paradise. You remember that when He did rise, one of the Marys clasped Him by the feet, but He said: Detain me not, for I have not yet ascended to my Father and to your Father, and to my God and to your God. The difficulty is because the "comma" is in the wrong place. As the Bible was originally written, there were no marks of punctuation; it is a modern convenience. What our Lord did say [Page Q524] in effect was this: I say unto you today, notwithstanding that I am hanging on the cross and it looks as though I was a deceiver, etc., yet I say unto you today, this dark day, thou shalt be with me in paradise.
Q524:1 QUESTION (1911)—1—In the "Harvest Siftings" it is stated that it was a few months after October, 1874, when it was first realized that the Lord was Present, and in Volume Four, page 612, it is stated that it was nearly a year after October, 1874, before the fact of the Lord's presence was recognized. Is the month of 1875 known in which it was first realize that the Lord was present, and when was the first public announcement of this great fact made?
ANSWER—I think those two statements are in full accord. I think a year is a few months. Whenever it is stated a few months in any writing, the Bible or any other, that is supposed to imply that it is not specific or a clearly defined number of months, but merely a general statement and not a particular one. I could not give the exact time; I do not know; no one else does; it simply was on or about or along there somewhere, that we began to have thoughts along that line. Now you see no thought comes up full-fledged at first; every fly begins a very small fly, and becomes a larger fly.
ANSWER—I do not know; it was to have been a symbol. That is the way it was commanded at the beginning, and quite likely it was followed all the way down. If there is anyone here who is a Jew, he could tell us perhaps whether it is customary now for the Jews to sprinkle the blood on the door post. I do not suppose that they do. I am not sure.
ANSWER—Why! the Church only; NOT our Lord Jesus. He was not passed over by anything. He died. In the full sense of the word He was the Lamb. His blood makes us "The Church of the First Born." Where would be the Lamb for His Own Justification if He were passed over? He did not need a Lamb. He passed over by Himself. He passed over by His obedience even unto Death. Now that enables Him to pass us over as the Church of the First Born through His blood applied to us.
Q524:4 QUESTION (1913)—4—What is the relationship between the Passover type and the annual Day of Atonement? Does the Passover represent the Ransom being paid, and the day of Atonement, following, the cleansing of the people as result of the ransom work?
ANSWER—I would say that these two are not related at all. God put them at opposite ends of the year, away from each other. The one is the type of one thing, the other is the type of another thing. [Page Q525] The word "ransom" is not shown in either: there is no picture of the ransom in either case. The word "ransom" or thought of ransom is given elsewhere.
ANSWER—Because God wanted them to be different. The two things have no direct relationship the one to the other. The one is a picture of the passing over of the Church of the First Born, whereas the other is a picture of the suffering of Christ and the Church during the gospel age as a basis and preparation for their dispensing of blessings to all the families of the earth during the Millennial Age. The passover Lamb merely represented the death of Jesus and the passing over of His people during this age and consequently another and different picture is given to represent the death of Jesus and the Church and the consequent blessing of the world in the age to come. He did not want them to run into each other. The one referred to the death of Jesus and the other was given to make a different picture.
Q525:2 QUESTION (1912)—2—Would it be proper or well for one to nominate Pastor Russell to be a Pastor of a class for a year or any set period, the class may decide to vote? The thought is that you would likely be present only as represented by the printed page, or through correspondence.
ANSWER—I do not quite catch the purport of the question, but would say, in some respects it might be considered rather a formal matter. As a matter of Providence, through the Watch Tower and through correspondence, I am practically Pastor in all the little Ecclesias represented in the Watch Tower lists. If the friends take a formal vote and elect me Pastor, I am pleased to have it that way, and if they prefer not to do so, they have their choice. And whether they make the election for a year or without limit is also for them to decide.
ANSWER—The Elders have nothing to do with the Pastoral Work. The Elders are Elders, and should therefore attend to the work of the Elders. The Pastoral Work is for the Pastor, and the Pastor should therefore attend to it. The letters of instruction pertaining to this work have not been sent to any except those who have indicated to me that they have chosen me to be their Pastor, and since they have invited me to be their Pastor, I am endeavoring to do that work for them. If the letters have been sent to any who have not this desire, please return them and I will have nothing to do with them. But in all cases where I am the Pastor, I will use and co-operate with the sisters as I think best.
Evidently the objector does not understand this matter. There is nothing in it that I know of to antagonize the Elders, and should there be any Elders who have not enough [Page Q526] work to do to keep them occupied, it would be in order for them to be getting busy. There is an abundance of work for the Elders and Deacons to do and they should therefore be kept busy in doing the work which the Lord has committed to their care, but the case of the sisters is different, and we are now trying to find something for them to do, and are rejoiced that the way is now opening. If any of the Elders hinder and find fault with this work, our advice to the class would be that at the next election, they be dropped from the eldership. Each one should learn to attend to his own business, and not interfere with others, and in this way will the work prosper- -by each one attending to his own part of the work. Should anyone try to stop the work of the Lord, they had better be dropped, because the class will get along better without them. "Let all things be done decently and in order!"
ANSWER—I cannot explain any more than has already been explained in the letters sent out. To each class has been sent two letters bearing upon this work. The one is for the sister who will act as lieutenant and representative of the pastoral work, while the other is for the elders and class in general. These letters explain everything as fully as I know how to explain, and it would be useless for me to take time to explain what is not therein stated. I repeat that, these letters only went to such classes as had intimated that they had chosen me to be their pastor. These letters explain the matter fully. If you cannot understand the matter by a single reading, then read again, and if necessary, a second and third time, until it becomes clear to you. Take each part separately. One of them has nothing to do with the congregation in general, but simply contains instructions for those who will be carrying out this plan of work, while the other is to the elders et al to show how they can co-operate in it.
I believe you will find that when this work is gotten well under way, it will not only afford the sisters an opportunity for service that will be very encouraging to them, but additionally, that, it will open the way for the elders to do more than they now do, and will also open the way for well-qualified deacons to enter the eldership. There is so much work to be done that the question arises as to whether or not we are doing the work of the Lord? Just so surely as we are in the Harvest time, so surely will we be called to do what the Lord is giving us to do.
Should anyone inquire whether this would be a good chance to get other brethren into the work who had not previously had experience in this kind of service, we would answer, No; this is not the place for any inexperienced person. They should get their experience beforehand. We do not want to put mere novices in such a work. "Not a novice" either in doctrine or in speaking should be employed in any of this class extension work. Novices should indeed get experience, but, how? At one time in Pittsburgh (and some have tried it since in New York), (in Pittsburgh I had something to do with it), we started what we called a School of the Prophets, not that this name meant to us what it did when [Page Q527] originally used, but still a name that seemed to us quite appropriate for the work in hand when considered in the light of the New Testament. A prophet in the Bible sense was one who was a public speaker, not especially one who was a seer and had revelations, but a public speaker, and it was in this sense that the Apostle Paul used this word when he said, "Desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy," which would suggest the thought that we should choose rather to have ability as public speakers. Now, then, we perceived that some brethren had talents for public speaking and we suggested that they come together as a little class to hear and criticize each other in speaking. They did not speak to the public, or to the class, at all. They had no qualifications, especially, for speaking. Some had a disposition that might be drawn out and cultivated. But we did not wish to impose upon a class by having them listen to unqualified speakers. No one should wish to bore a class or anyone else. Only those who were qualified and have shown talent and ability should be chosen to speak for the class or the public. Our instructions and training to that end should be given and received privately. In this class we had one appointed as a special critic, and then all present had the opportunity of criticizing the speaker. Some of these young men criticized each other pretty sharply until there was danger of them all being discouraged. It became necessary, therefore, for me to caution them against criticizing too closely lest there should be nothing left but skin and bones. I think it would be well to have such a school under proper control for the training of class and public speakers, and not impose upon the class or the public by giving them unqualified, inexperienced novices for speakers.
We believe this to be a very important matter in connection with the success of the Pastoral work, and would consider it to be one of the best and most efficient ways of cooperating with the sisters in this work.
ANSWER—We would not advise the brother so to do for the reason that there is nothing in this line in connection with the pastoral work for the brother to do. The brother has evidently gotten the wrong view of the matter. This pastoral work is for the sisters. One reason is that the sisters have more time during the day than the brethren, who are generally employed otherwise during the day; and secondly, very many of the sisters have a great deal more tact in approaching people than the brethren have. Not that all the sisters are in possession of more tact than the brethren, but rather, it is a good opportunity for them to do their part of the work and thus increase the opportunities of the brethren for giving chart talks, and subsequently conducting first volume studies. We should not think of the start in this work as being the end by any means. The start will be the beginning indeed, but only the beginning. You will start in with the lists furnished you from Brooklyn of names that have come in from time to time through the Drama, public addresses and the colporteur service—that is the start—but my thought is, if the Lord is going to do the great work [Page Q528] which we expect will be done within the next few years that, in all probability this smiting of the Jordan is going to arouse a great deal of interest throughout the whole world, with the inevitable result that larger crowds will be in attendance, a large number of names will be handed in, and consequently this phase of the work will expand and continue, so that the opportunities for chart talks and first volume studies will multiply as the time goes on. This I apprehend to be a part of God's great plan.
My advice to the sister would be that she remain in the regular colporteur service just as long as the Lord may be pleased to bless her in it, and this might mean that the brother continue also in the Eureka Drama work as heretofore. This would seem to be the best for the present, and then, in the future, should the Lord so provide, it may be their privilege either to enter the pastoral work or have their present field of service enlarged.
ANSWER—Well, we can say surely that when a man's ways please the Lord, if it so please the Lord, he can make his enemies to be at peace with him. So far as I know, the ways of our Lord Jesus please the Father, but he did not make his enemies to be at peace with him, for they put him to death. So far as St. Paul was concerned, we believe his ways pleased the Lord, but it did not please the Lord to make St. Paul's enemies to be at peace with him, but they put him to death. So the most I could see in this would be that at some proper time God will make man's foes to be at peace with him, if he is in harmony with God, but that proper time does not seem to be this Gospel age, for now a man's foes shall be they of his own household, and whosoever will live godly will suffer persecution.
ANSWER—We will not discuss what this sister means or what the other sister thinks, or what somebody else says. When you have a question, give the question and do not mind about what you think. I am the one that is going to say on this occasion what I think. But what does this text mean? I answer that God's law is so reverenced by all of those who really love him that when they contemplate what God has said, it becomes a law to their lives and becomes a ruling power in their lives, and nothing shall stumble them. The word "offend" here is used in the sense of stumble, or trip. If they love God's law, if they are not merely obeying God's law because it is a form and ceremony and other people say they ought to, but because they really love that law, they appreciate the principles of God's justice and righteousness and various commands, and in his law they meditate; they like to think it over and see how just God's requirements are, how kind he is, and appreciate all the teachings of God's law—that is the attitude of mind that nothing will stumble. The people that get stumbled [Page Q529] are those that are not rightly in harmony with God's law—using the word Law of God here in the broad general sense of complying with all of God's requirements, not only through the words of Jesus, but also through the law of Moses, and the words of the Apostles, God's law in the general sense that God's law signifies justice, that they love the Lord, their God, with all their hearts, and their neighbor as themselves. It will be pretty hard to stumble those who really love that principle. It takes a little while to learn enough of God's law to appreciate it and to really love it. We sometimes begin by obeying the law before we really learn to love it; but as surely as we make progress and grow in grace, knowledge and character-likeness of the Lord, we will come to love the principles of his righteousness and desire to have them not merely because God says we ought to do so, and we must do so to be in his family, but because we will come to appreciate the principles of righteousness that are behind his requirements.
Q529:1 QUESTION (1915)—1—The Prophet Jeremiah says that they shall say, "Peace! Peace! when there is no peace." St. Paul, in speaking of the present time, says, "And when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them" (Jer. 6:14; 1 Thess. 5:3). Do these Scriptures apply now, or do they refer to Armageddon?
ANSWER—We think that this saying of "Peace! Peace!" has been going on for some years. The Church systems and everybody have been claiming, every since the first Peace Conference at The Hague, that war had come to an end, that we were living in the time of peace, that we were having the time of peace that the Bible tells us about. They thought this was true; but those of us who had a better knowledge of the Bible knew it was not true. A great Time of Trouble must first come. The Lord long ago pointed out this great Time of Trouble, which has already begun and which will culminate in an awful period of anarchy, the Armageddon of the Scriptures. So they have been saying, Peace. Peace! when there is no peace, and no ground for peace. There can be no true peace so long as there is sin; for sin is the great difficulty with the world.
As long as men are imperfect and have the control of the world, there cannot be peace—the peace that God has purposed. That peace can come, as the Bible points out, only by Messiah's taking full control. He will bring in the peace. Now, in the meantime, the Lord is letting the nations go their way, that they may show what they can do for themselves. He is no longer holding back the winds of strife—let the winds blow; let the great passions of mankind manifest themselves, and grow from bad to worse, until they end in anarchy. When anarchy has accomplished the complete destruction of the present Order, it will be time for the setting up of the Kingdom of Christ, and He will bring the whole trouble to a sudden termination. But meantime all must learn that no human efforts of imperfect men and women can bring the peace that the world really desires and must have.
Q529:2 QUESTION (1908)—2—And when they had received it, the [Page Q530]penny, in Matt. 20:11, they murmured against the good man of the house. If the penny signifies the great prize of glory, honor and immortality, how or why does that class, who receive it, murmur?
ANSWER—I answer that in these parables we do not expect that every little feature will find a correspondency. Some of the features would seem to be introduced merely to round out the story to make it a reasonable story, or to call attention to some particular feature. In this case to have passed by the fact that each one had received a penny and made no comment on it would have laid the matter open for some to say, "It is strange they did not make a complaint. Everybody now-days would have made a complaint. By introducing this feature, that there was a query as to why some had received only the sum the others had received, it draws attention prominently to the fact that it was the same price or same reward that was given to all of those who are faithful to a long period and to those who are faithful to a shorter period; if they all get exactly the same, it makes that point prominent in the parable. It is a finger that points to that feature, so to speak, and says, "this is the prominent feature of the parable." We are not to expect dear friends, that any who received of the Lord's blessing, which is represented here by the penny, would have a disposition to murmur against the Lord. Rather we are to understand that anyone who would be inclined to murmur would not be in the Kingdom at all. Our thought, then, is: this is introduced in the parable to show the general fact that there would be this one reward given to the whole company that would be rewarded at all. I am not sure, however, that the penny represents glory, honor and immortality. I think that the penny quite properly might be understood to refer to everlasting life merely, without representing the additional features of glory, honor and immortality. According to the Scriptures, we are not all to get the same thing. The Apostle tells us there will be those in the Kingdom who will differ the one from the other, as star differeth from star in glory; but one thing will be common to all of those, namely, they will all have eternal life; all who have honestly and persistently labored in the Lord's cause will be accounted worthy of eternal life; whatever other blessings may be given to them in addition to this are not shown in this parable.
Q530:2 QUESTION (1916)—2—In Matthew 20,(Mat.20:2) the Parable of the Penny, we read, verse 2, "And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard." What does the penny represent? Again, in verse 6, (Mat. 20:6),we read, "And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle." Do we understand the eleventh hour is past? Again, in the 11th verse, (Mat. 20:11) "And when they had received it they murmured against the good man of the house." What does the murmuring represent, or signify?
ANSWER—We have dealt with this question several times in the Watch Tower, but I will briefly outline the matter [Page Q531] again. Perhaps others also may have forgotten what was written. The parable is one that is difficult to understand with all its peculiar features; as for instance, this giving of the penny seems to be on this side of the veil, because, when it was paid there were some there who murmured, and surely no one would murmur on the other side. If they had been disposed to murmur they would not have been on the other side. The giving of this penny seems surely to mean something that will occur in this present life, before our change, and at the end of this age. Then, it is to be given by the Steward, and given to those who have been laboring in the harvest. I do not know definitely how this will turn out. You are aware that most of the things of God's Word that are prophetical are difficult to understand in detail until they have been, or, are in the process of fulfilment; and I think this parable is about to be fulfilled. I can give only a suggestion. This great work of Smiting Jordan which, I think, is the thing before us, and is to be done within the next few years, is somehow to be connected with this matter. Just how, I do not know. I am looking, and so are you. We will see in due time. It is a parable and will be made clear and will then meet our expectations fully. So then, let us avoid any spirit of murmuring and let us be thankful for all our privileges given to us, and let us not think for a moment that, if the sisters be given an opportunity to serve we should murmur against them for having such opportunity!
ANSWER—What perfect man? How could we all come to the full stature of a perfect man? This is the perfect man that the Apostle frequently refers to; as, for instance, in the third chapter of Acts we read, Moses truly said to your fathers, a prophet shall the Lord, your God raise up unto you, from amongst your brethren. That prophet, that great teacher, is the Messiah. That is the perfect man. Jesus is the head of the Messiah. God has been raising up that Messiah, raising up that great Prophet, that great Priest, that great King, that great Judge, that great Man in this larger sense, in which we sometimes use the word "Man"—the figurative sense, the head and the members. So this is the Apostle's thought when he says that the hand can not say to the foot, I have no need of you, nor the eye to the hand, I have no need of you, for every member of the body is necessary. What body? This great man. Why is God raising up a great man? We answer that this great man, or the figure of a man, refers to the church—Jesus the head and the church, his body. This is the great Messiah that God has been raising up for now eighteen hundred and more years—raising up from amongst your brethren. This is the Messiah of whom Moses spake, saying, "Moses truly said unto the fathers, a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you." He did not say that it would take eighteen hundred years to raise him up, but it has taken the eighteen hundred years, and he is not completely raised up yet. So the Apostle in this text is telling that when our Lord ascended on high he gave gifts unto [Page Q532] men in fulfillment of what is written in the Old Testament Scriptures; to some he gave apostles and some prophets, an some evangelists, etc., for the work of the ministry. What is that? For the work of the service. What service? The service of the church, the service of the truth, the service of the body of Christ. For what purpose and for how long? Until we all come—until by the processes of the preaching of the Gospel and all of this work that these gifts were given to forward and to carry out—until we all come, even the last member shall come, into relationship as members of that glorious body—that glorious man that is to have dominion of the world as God represented.
And this is the same man Saint Paul refers to again when he says that God took some from the Jews and some from the Gentiles and of the twain making a new man; thus making peace or thus balancing as between Jew aud Gentile. The chief members were the Jews. The Lord Jesus himself, and the early members of this man were taken from the Jewish nation and then also some from the Gentiles. So this one great man of which Jesus is the head, is to be composed of Jews and Gentiles by nature, who, during the thousand years of Messiah's reign, will reign gloriously and carry out all the glorious projects which the heavenly Father caused to be written in the Old Testament Scriptures and of which also the Apostles and our Lord spoke.
ANSWER—We answer yes, some will come to perfection before the end of the age. We know, for instance, that the ancient worthies will come to perfection immediately upon their resurrection, because their trial has been passed; therefore the ancient worthies will be just such a class. We will suppose that the questioner has particular reference to the remainder of mankind, and our answer would be, that according as each one is prompt to obey the institutions and laws and regulations of Messiah's kingdom, in that same proportion he will make the more rapid progress toward perfection. Just the same as it is with us now: in proportion as we are whole-hearted, in that proportion will we sooner reach the mark of perfect love. Some are quite slow in getting to where they can love their enemies, and others get there comparatively quick, and so with those who will be on trial during the millennial reign; they will have the opportunity of coming to perfection; they must all come to perfection, or else they will die the second death; and they may come to that perfection as rapidly as they choose. We might say that in proportion as they are obedient to the laws of the kingdom, the blessing will come to them, raising them up, up to perfection.
Now, the other part of the question, "Will they come into actual relationship with God before the end of the age?" We answer that this question might be viewed from two standpoints; in one sense, all who will come into harmony with God at all at that time will come under the provisions of the new covenant; they will be in relationship with God at once if they accept Messiah and attempt to order [Page Q533] their lives according to his kingdom. They will immediately be in covenant relationship with God. That is to say, God's covenant through Christ is, that eventually, if they are faithful and loyal, they will be in full harmony with him. God will treat them from the beginning through Messiah, through his kingdom, as though they were back in harmony with God. But not until the end of the millennial age will this covenant accomplish its full work of introducing these people actually, fully and completely, to God. At that time, the great Mediator of the new covenant will, so to speak, step from between and allow the world of mankind, brought to perfection, to have direct contact with the heavenly Father, and be in subjection directly to the laws of his kingdom, justice. All mediation will be out of the way then, all mercy, all covering of imperfection, will be taken away, and each one being perfect, will be responsible for his perfection to his Creator. They are in this blessed condition in the sense of his relationship all the way down, but at the end of the thousand years they are more directly in this covenant relationship, and obliged to stand each one for himself without the Mediator between.
ANSWER—It signifies this: that God's perfection is the standard. He cannot have one standard of perfection for you, and another for me, and another for somebody else. There is just one who is perfect and that is our heavenly Father. When you were children in school they gave you a copy book, and at the top of the book was a copy and it was perfect, it was copper plate; you could not improve on it, you could not make anything like it; and so God knows we are imperfect; he knows we are not able to be like the Father in perfection, but he sets his perfection as our copy, just as your teacher gave you the copy book. I do not know whether this is the custom now or not; it was when I went to school. And I remember well that in school the top line of our writing usually looked better than the last line. The top line was nearer to the copy and we looked more at the copy when we made it, and when we got down nearer to the bottom we got to copying our own until the last line was sure to be worse than the first. That is just the condition with us, dear friends. We are in danger ourselves day by day, of taking some other brother or sister, and saying, "I will be like him, or like her !" God says, through our Lord Jesus, "Be ye like unto your Father in heaven," that is the copy, that is the sample, follow that as near as you are able. And how is he going to judge us? Will he judge us according to the flesh? No, the church he is now selecting, he will not judge according to the flesh, but according to the spirit; that is, according to the intention, according to the will, according to the efforts; and so if you and I are pure in heart, and zealous to know and to do the Lord's will to the best of our ability, then the Master will pass upon our following his copy, and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of thy Lord; you have been faithful in a few things (trying to copy) you shall be ruler over many things," sharing the great honor with the Master of ruling the world.
ANSWER—It would not seem that way to me. If so it would be wrong to talk to a man about the Truth after he had been hearing some bad talk. This would seem like reasoning in a circle. Each one has a right, however, to use his own judgment. If any of you are in the photo drama work, do not do anything to hurt your conscience. As for me, I would be glad to show the drama to 5,000 after they had attended a regular theater, if I had the opportunity.
Q534:3 QUESTION (l9l0)—3—Where a brother starts out to do a similar work to the Pilgrim work on his own account and he reports to various classes, making dates, aud asking them to arrange meetings, etc., I would like to ask what the attitude of the class should be in that respect?
ANSWER—The Society, wishing to be entirely free and to leave everybody else entirely free, has no means of doing other than it does, namely, to try to send forth as pilgrims only such as it believes would be especially qualified for the work. We do not doubt there are other brethren that have many of the qualifications for the work, and it is not for us to decide they have not, and that they could not do any good; therefore, we do not attempt to assert authority over any congregation, but leave the matter entirely to the congregation. The fact that the Society is not sending out the brother, implies that it has not seen him to be one that it believes to be especially favorable as a representative of the Society. Now that does not reflect against any one. I think of two cases. One is the case of a brother who is a very nice brother, as far as I have any knowledge of him, and believe he is very loyal to the truth, and a very good brother, but the brother has a deficiency of education; and while we do not claim at all that education should stand in the way of his serving, yet we believe it would not be wise, not be to the glory of the Lord, that we should send forth as a pilgrim a brother, even if he had other qualifications, who lacked ability to speak the English language with a fair degree of correctness. That is the only objection to that brother; nothing against his character at all. Another brother, who has opportunity of doing some service, and who is a very nice brother, and whom we would be very glad to have in the pilgrim work, if his family and home affairs permitted, but his home affairs are not in such shape that he can give his time to the service. We are very glad if he finds opportunity to run out on Sundays and serve the friends. All cases are not just like these two, but I am giving these two favorable illustrations so that you may have them before your minds. Our thought would be that each congregation [Page Q535] must judge respecting any such person, and use their own judgment as to whether it would be to their profit to have these serve them or not. If they think it is, then notify them; if they think it would not be to their profit, let them not invite them. The Society merely says, those whom we send out we hold ourselves responsible for, and if they do not conduct themselves morally, and intellectually, and religiously, according to reasonable lines, the Society wishes to be informed respecting the matter. We believe that those who are sent forth have special qualifications for this ministry and that is the reason they are sent; but that is not saying anything against others; it leaves the congregation free to do whatever seems to them best.
ANSWER—I think that would be the proper thought, if it is impossible for the friends to entertain the visiting brethren, either at their homes or at a suitable place—not necessarily a hotel, a good boarding house; Pilgrim brethren are not fastidious; something comfortable and reasonable is all that is expected you know; anything you would give the Master if he had been here would certainly be good enough for any of his followers, and I suppose most of them get as good as the Lord had. But it would be the thought, my dear friends, that the invitation is for those who are willing to entertain the Pilgrims. If therefore you are not able to entertain the Pilgrims in either of these ways, that statement should go to the office so that the office would be rightly informed, and advise the Pilgrim brother in harmony therewith.
Q535:2 QUESTION (1913-Z)—2—Is it wise or proper for a Pilgrim en journey to be entertained by those who are out of sympathy with the Vow and with the work of the Society in general, even though he be an Elder of the Class?
ANSWER—Most decidedly not. Furthermore, the Pilgrims should make clear to the Class that they had greatly erred in selecting such a one for an Elder, and should help them to rectify the matter as quickly as possible.
If the Class likes that Elder who is out of accord with the Society's work, it should not make a request for Pilgrim service. Some of the Lord's dear sheep are very stupid. Meekness and gentleness are commendable; but there are times when they would mean disloyalty to God.
ANSWER—St. Peter was not the first Pope according to any history we have. Our Catholic friends may have some way of stretching their minds to imagine he was the first Pope, but I know of nothing on which they could base the claim. I do not think they can produce any evidence on which to base it. That St. Peter was in Rome and that St. Paul was in Rome, I think goes without saying, but they were there suffering, not as popes. They were not attempting to rule anybody. You know the Pope claims to be the Viceregent [Page Q536] of Christ, to be reigning instead of Christ. Now the Apostle Peter never claimed to be reigning instead of Christ.
Is Roman Catholicism Christianity? Yes, it is Christianity; that is, it claims to acknowledge Christ, and to be a system of religion based on that knowledge of Christ. And the Catholic Church has some doctrines which are very good. And the Methodist Church has some that are very good, and the Presbyterians have some that are very good, also the Baptists. And the Catholics have some that are very bad, and the Methodists have some that are very bad—and so on through the list. What you and I want to do is to throw away all these creeds and get right back to what Jesus and the apostles and prophets said.
Q536:1 QUESTION (1911)—l—In the parable of the pounds what does the pound represent? If your answer be that justification is meant by the pounds, please explain what is meant by ten pounds at the end of the way, and the fact that the ten-pound servant was given the pound of the one-pound servant.
ANSWER—There are two parables that are alike in many particulars; the one describes the giving to the servants of a pound apiece, and the other describes the giving of various talents, some more and some less, one talent, two talents, five talents. And they gained various pounds. The parable of the talents, we might remark, seems to fit very well to the different talents which God's people possess. For instance, some might have a talent for private conversation. Another might have a talent that would be in the same direction, and also another talent for public service. And another might have a talent for writing. So you see one might have a number of talents and another have only one talent, in any conspicuous degree. At least that is what we think the Lord had in mind when he gave that parable. This would represent you and me in our varied conditions of mind and body, and opportunity, and the reward of the talents would be that everyone who is faithful in using whatever he might have, whether it was one, two, or five talents, if they have been faithful over the few things, some more and some less, all equally faithful would get the same general reward.
Now the parable of the pounds was different, in that each servant got a separate pound—one pound, no more, no less; the Lord did not explain what a pound meant, therefore you and I are left to try to understand from the facts and circumstances; etc., what they might refer to. I have suggested in the Watch Tower that these pounds represent justification, that each gets justification whether he has many talents, or a few talents, and that justification means the making of the individual right, or acceptable with God. Now after he is thus made right or acceptable with God through this one blessing that comes to him, justification, that justifies his entire being, and whether he have more abilities or less abilities, they are justified by that one blessing of the pounds in the parable. So then if you had many talents, there would not be any of them counted unless you are first justified. This gift of the Lord, justification, is a particular gift that he gives us, and it has really made you his servant. Justification covers all the natural talents you have, whether it be few or many, and at the end of your course you are to present all that you have to the Lord as his servant, and he [Page Q537] will call you to an account at the end of this age for all the talents you possess, all of which comes through justification, and would not be counted at all without justification.
The question inquires further as to how the one talent would be taken from one person and given to the person who had made use of the matter. And this seems to apply to both parables. If one fails to use his opportunities and privileges, they will be given to another. St. Paul gives us an illustration along that line. In St. Paul's experience you remember he found some of the brethren who were not exceedingly or extremely careful to be used in the Lord's service, and he strove all the more to do what he could; if there was any brother that was short in any way here was another opportunity for St. Paul to come in and do that much more. He intimates in some places if they had been up to their responsibility they would have been looking out for his temporal welfare, and he mentions it after he had gone to another place. He did not tell them while he was there. Now if you had chosen to contribute to my expenses I could have served the cause much better while with you, but as it was I was obliged to labor in making tents, that I might not be chargeable to any of you. But they lost a great privilege. Now he intimates that if he found anybody who was losing an opportunity, and that if he could work overtime and get that opportunity he would be glad to do that much more. So you and I have so many talents of our own that naturally belong to us, and we are to be faithful in using those talents and pounds in the Lord's service, and if there is any failure on the part of any other one we are not to stop to quarrel with him and fail to use our own, but to go ahead and use our own, picking up this opportunity the brother is neglecting and carry on that much more, so that we will get a great blessing even if he is losing one.
ANSWER—I would say yes, the same book; evidently the book of God's remembrance, the book of life. God is represented as having one special book in which only the names of the Bride of Christ are written. We are not to understand that Heaven has a large bookkeeping department. That is not the thought. We are not told how He keeps the record. We do not suppose that it is kept with paper and ink, but God has His own way of keeping in knowledge. The Lord knows them that are His, and they are in His book of remembrance, and that is all we need to know. What did Moses mean then, when he said, "If not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book?" We understand Moses here as the mediator for Israel, and representative of Israel, was very patriotic. He had been appointed of God to represent that nation, and he was so fully imbued with patriotism that there was not a particle of selfishness on his own part. He did not want anything to interfere with the interests of Israel; and you remember God, in order to quiet him, said, "Now, Moses, you see this is a disobedient people and they are continually backsliding; let me alone that I may blot them out of existence, and I will take you and your family and make[Page Q538] of you this great nation who will inherit all of these promises." And you remember Moses' prayer. It shows a very noble, high standard of patriotic feeling, and brotherly kindness that very few could appreciate. Moses was evidently a very noble character, and in that respect very worthy to be compared to our Lord Jesus Christ who took practically the same point of view, and as our representative risked the blotting out of His own life on our behalf.
Q538:2 QUESTION (1909)—2—Do you think it advisable to mention Brother Russell frequently when offering prayer in public, or is it the thought conveyed in the vow that these supplications should be included with our more private petitions?
ANSWER—My thought would be, dear friends, to leave each to the dictates of his own conscience. If it is proper to ask one to pray in public, let him pray according to his own heart's desires. If there is anything lacking, he will find it out, and then we will let the Lord direct the work, otherwise we may forget the Lord is attending to it.
ANSWER—We have had many suggestions relative to the advisability of unanimity of topic for these meetings. We take this opportunity of reiterating the counsel in Studies in the Scriptures, Volume VI, namely, that we know of no meetings more helpful than the testimony meetings, where they are properly conducted, and after the friends have had about a month's experience with them. Testimonies as to one's conversion years before, or as to how one first received the knowledge of the Truth, may be very good in General Conventions, etc., but such testimonies we certainly believe very tedious and tiresome in a weekly class. It would be tiresome also for the friends to tell you what they ought to do and what experiences they ought to have. What is desirable and refreshing is crisp, up-to-date testimonies touching the events and experiences of the preceding week. Such meetings tend to make all of the classes holding them more attentive to note the providences of God and the lessons of life daily and hourly. Thus more valuable experience is gained daily than when such things are passed by with little or no attention.
There is nothing in the nature of a bondage in this suggestion. But those who approve might accept it, and those who do not approve may do otherwise. It is the affair of each class. It would be, however, very nice to know, not [Page Q539] only that the Vow and its prayer daily draw all of the Lord's people close to the Mercy Seat, but also it would be pleasant to know that all are thinking of God's providences along the same lines each week.
Q539:1 QUESTION (1912-Z)—1—In Matt. 6:7, our Lord tells us, "when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." The Apostle Paul, writing to the Church (Col. 4:2), exhorts that they "continue in prayer;" again we read of the widow who was heard for her importunity. (Luke 18:2-5.) Is this a suggestion that we should importune? How could we importune without repetition?
ANSWER—We are to recognize a distinct difference between the "vain repetitions" of the heathen, which our Lord condemned, and the "continuing instant in prayer," "in everything giving thanks," in "praying and not fainting," acts which our Lord and the Apostles enjoined. (Rom. 12:12; Luke 18:1, etc.) This difference the Lord illustrated in the case of the woman who came to a judge repeatedly, asking that he avenge her of her enemy. Although the judge was not a man who would act justly, yet he did her justice on account of her persistence. In commenting upon her course, our Lord said that if an unjust judge be moved on account of importunity to do justice, how much more a just judge!
The thought illustrated in the parable is that of a person who cries to the Lord that injustice is being done—as with the Church at the present time. We all realize that we are suffering injustice. We cry, "O Lord, deliver us! deliver us from the Adversary!" Will God never deliver the Church? For eighteen hundred years the Church has been praying thus; and God has not answered this prayer. Will He never answer? Our Lord intimates that we should not lose faith. We are to have full confidence in His promises. Injustice will not forever obtain. The time will come, we are told, when Satan shall be bound and deceive the people no more.—Rev. 20:2,3
Therefore we do right to pray, "Thy Kingdom come," week after week, year after year, century after century. To grow faint or grow weary in prayer would not be right. The proper course is to believe that God will fulfill what He has promised; and that all will come out in harmony with His will.
On another occasion our Lord gave a parable wherein one asked his neighbor for food and was refused. (Luke 11:5-8.) He asked again. Finally the neighbor gave it to him on account of his importunity, on account of his patiently persisting. This parable, also, emphasizes the thought of importunate prayer. God has the blessing, and not only is able to give it, but has promised to do so. The delay in granting the request is because His due time has not come. Hence we are not to give up nor to become weary, but to be constant in our prayers.
This is all very different, however, from the "vain repetitions" which our Lord condemned. But we do not think that our Lord desires us to use repetition in our prayers. Some people use the words, "Our Father," or "Our God," or "Heavenly Father" more frequently than would seem to be good form—even using them in every fourth of fifth sentence. [Page Q540] Their prayer would sound better on earth if they did not use these repetitions; though, no doubt, the repetitions would be understood in Heaven; for these people seem to be as earnest as others.
Sometimes, after we have had morning worship and prayer, the one called upon to ask the blessing at table practically repeats the morning prayer. This course would imply that the person had forgotten that the general blessing had been asked in that prayer, and that he should be asking a blessing on the morning meal. To ask a blessing on the meal is not to pray in the ordinary sense of the word. Whoever "asks the blessing" should ask something in connection with the food and not attempt to pray for neighbors, relatives, etc.
But the repetitions which our Lord had in mind and which are specially reprehensible in the Lord's sight are formal prayers merely. To illustrate: the Chinese are said to have a praying wheel, which enables them to make many "vain repetitions" without the trouble of speaking a word.
It would seem that our Catholic friends also are given to a great deal of repetition in prayer. They repeat, "Hail, Mary!" and believe that God will save them from suffering in purgatory for their repetitions. Some of the poor creatures say, "Hail, Mary!" as often and as fast as they can.
So with the Mohammedans. They say, "Great is Allah! Mohammed is His Prophet! Great is Allah! Mohammed is His Prophet!" again and again. We do not know what good they are doing, for they are surely wasting a great deal of valuable time to no purpose. We do not wish to make light of these people nor of their conduct. But we are bound to think that with those who are intelligent such prayers are only form. With those who are not intelligent it is different. We believe that they are sincere; and so our course is to think sympathetically of them, but not to do as they do, not to pray as they pray. Prayer in private, in our own room, may be as long as we please; but prayer in public should be short and to the point.
Q540:1 QUESTION (1912)—1—Are there special instances in which we should appeal to the Lord Jesus? Answer.—I cannot think of any circumstance in which the Lord Jesus could do more than the Father. But in my own mind and prayer I think of the two being one because their wills are one, and therefore I never make any mistake. I find myself thinking sometimes of one and sometimes of the other, but it is Thy will and not My will, and so I try to blot out any distinction.
ANSWER—Usually I follow that form of addressing the heavenly Father—only in the name of the Lord Jesus; but I have found myself in prayer addressing the Lord Jesus himself, for I find nothing in the Scriptures to contradict that, for they say to honor the Son even as we honor the [Page Q541] Father. Nearly all the Scriptures follow that course of addressing the Father and I think of only one that is different "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
ANSWER—The Lord has many blessings at His disposal, and from certain Scriptures we might infer that He is pleased to grant some blessings in response to prayer. Therefore the Apostle said to some in his day, "Brethren, pray for us." He did not mean he could not pray for himself; he did not mean that the other Apostles could not pray for themselves; he did not mean they could not pray for each other; he did not mean he had lost fellowship with the Father and the Father would not hear him. He said, Brethren, pray for us that a door may be opened unto us whereby we may have opportunity of spreading the Gospel of Christ. Do you suppose the Apostle meant that merely as a formality and he thought it did not make a particle of difference, but just said, Pray for us, pray for us, as meaning nothing but merely a form? No, we prefer not to suppose that the Apostle was merely using a form; we would rather prefer to suppose he is teaching a certain lesson, that a certain blessing would come through remembering the Apostles in prayer. I presume that God who is rich in mercy, and has plenty of blessings to give, is pleased to encourage His people to pray, is pleased to have us pray. Why would God be pleased to have you pray? Is He just sitting there watching to see whether little you or little I kneel down to pray or not? Oh, no, that is not the thought at all! But God sees it will do you a great deal of good if you will exercise faith in the matter of prayer, and it will do me a good deal of good if I will exercise faith in prayer. Therefore He arranges as part of the means by which He would bless you and me that He will be inquired of concerning these things that He desires to do for us. He would thus encourage us to pray. As, for instance, when St. Peter was in prison and the Angel of the Lord came to him and waked him up, he was not praying. The Angel smote off the shackles from his hands and led him out, the doors opening before them, and the keepers being asleep, then the Angel sent him on his way rejoicing, and Peter, hardly realizing whether it was a dream or what it might be, walked down the street; he knew the street very well, and presently he came to the door where there was a meeting being held; it was late at night, but the meeting was going on; they were praying for Peter, and saying, Oh, Lord, the Apostle James is slain and now the authorities are threatening our beloved brother Peter. What will we do if all the Apostles are taken from us? They were having an all-night prayer meeting. And when St. Peter got to the door and knocked and the little maid came and looked out and saw St. Peter there, she did not know whether she had seen a ghost or not. Of course she heard about ghosts and she ran back to say that St. Peter was at the door. Why, nonsense! Peter is in prison! Their prayers had been answered. Do you not think that God gave them a great blessing in [Page Q542] answer to their prayer? Do you think if they had not prayed they would have had as much blessing? The Lord might have set St. Peter free, but when in answer to prayer it meant such a blessing to those dear disciples, such a strengthening of their faith, and such joy and blessing. So whoever falls in line with the Lord's arrangements and prays and remembers the Lord's work in various places is getting a blessing in his own heart, and the Lord intimates indirectly that this will have some effect. I cannot understand the philosophy of it at all, I do not pretend to, but somehow we are given to understand that God will be pleased to not change His plan for your prayers and mine—no, no, God is not going to change the Universe around to suit us; we are not wise enough to tell Him in our prayers what He should do, but He is so wise He can hear our prayers and give us blessings. So He has arranged in proportion in which we have loyalty, faith, etc., we are to have prayer. The Lord's people who have not learned the power of prayer are weak Christians. So the Scriptures everywhere encourage the Lord's people to pray always; to be in the spirit, the attitude of prayer at all times, and full of thanksgiving to God.
And I think while I am right at this point I must take the opportunity of saying that any home that has no prayer regularly offered in it is not a proper home—is not the one that should be your home or my home. Wherever you live, wherever I live, wherever any of the Lord's consecrated people live, there the family altar should be reared and should be regularly served—just as regularly as the breakfast is served. This does not mean that you shall force your grown children to participate in worship which they do not appreciate; or if your husband or wife is out of sympathy and unwilling to participate that you should insist on it, and raise a row in order to have the worship there, for God would not be pleased with such conditions. But the child of God should have that attitude of prayer that would be inclining his heart always to have the prayer anyway, and then at a proper time the wife might be quietly inquired of if she would like to join in the prayer service. It might be put in as nice a way as possible. Or, on the other hand, it might be the husband who was not in sympathy, and the wife might approach him and say, "Husband, wouldn't you think it would be very nice if we might have a prayer altar in our home and honor our Creator and our Savior?" And many a worldly man would say, "Why, yes, I guess it is all right." And if the Christian wife did not make some such suggestion the worldly husband would probably say, "Well I don't know, if I professed to be a Christian like my wife does, I think I would want to have prayer at home." Likewise, the wife, if her husband didn't say anything about it, would quite likely say, "If I were in my husband's place and claiming to be a Christian, I would like to have prayer at home." The wife would not like to say that. The husband would not like to say that. Therefore the one that does appreciate the matter should take the initiative, and in a quiet way and not at an inopportune time, but at a time when there is a good opportunity—not when there is something of haste going on and there is not time to consider it, just going away or something—but when there is time. Seek [Page Q543] wisdom as to how we shall present the matter to husband or wife or to children. Do it in the wisest way—be wise as serpents. On every occasion use wisdom, and pray to God as to how you shall take any important step in respect to your life or your home. Ask God if you may have the altar in your home before you ask husband or wife for co-operation. Then suppose she refuse and say, "No, I don't want any altar to the Lord in this house." Not many are disposed to put it that way. And in mentioning the matter there is a nice way to do it. You can say, "Wife, I know you do not look at matters exactly as I do, but for all of that you believe also as I do in the great Creator, and that it is proper for every creature to worship the Creator, and I would suggest that it would be very nice for us, especially when we have children, that we should set an example of reverencing God, and having our home a model home. What do you say, wife? Shall we make that start? Say we take three minutes at least of every morning to approach the Lord, or if possible have it five minutes or more, or without limitation, and perhaps have a hymn of praise before the prayer is offered." But if it is a case where any objection is made, say, "Would you object to our having just three minutes? Would you co-operate with that?" I would not say, "Would .you object?" I would infer he would not object. I would say, "Would you be willing to co-operate to the extent of joining in if we should establish such a little altar of prayer to the Lord in this home? I believe it would be a blessing to us both, and the children. I believe our hearts would thus be drawn to God better, and we would have more of His blessing on our home." I think that would work well. I know there are some who feel, Oh, there is no use asking my husband, or my wife, they are bitter against it. Perhaps the bitterness sometimes comes in our not being wise enough in the way of presenting it. There are very few people who are really bitter against God. As a rule, people usually respect the Creator, and especially in proportion as we seek to be ourselves kind, gentle and loving; and as they can see we are trying to be considerate of their interests and their rights, and to deal justly with the family, in that same proportion they will have respect to our religion, and respect to our God, and respect to our worship. But suppose they would object and say, "No, I would not have anything to do with it at all." "You won't, of course, object to my having such an arrangement and I will just ask the children. I thought I would mention it to you first. Maybe you will think differently of it, and perhaps you will join with us; it would be so much nicer." And then go ahead. Do not consider there is a prohibition, or do not put it in that form as though there would be. We have a right to take for granted that all reasonable people would be willing that we should exercise our consciences and our rights. That would not mean that your husband should get up and have to make his own breakfast while you stopped and prayed; that would not be the right attitude at all; that would bring disgrace on religion; but while careful to attend to all the duties and proprieties in your case, as husband and wife; if you pray, do it wisely.
And then as to the children; if they are grown children, [Page Q544]they should be differently approached. Many parents, I think, make the great mistake of forgetting that their children do grow. They always think that it is "little Annie" and little Annie gets taller, and taller, and taller, but still she is "little Annie" until she gets up so big. And so it is "little Harry." And they always think back somehow to the time in which they talked as children. No child enjoys being treated as a child. Every child that is properly balanced in mind would rather be treated as a little man or a little lady, and the parent can do that, and not by flattery, but in a very proper way. They can say, "Now, Harry," or Mary, "I want you to be a very model little gentleman, or lady. No matter how rude the other boys and girls may be, I want you to be a regular little gentleman, or lady." The child will like that; they may affect that they don't like it, but way down deep they do.
"But, my dear son, how rudely some of these boys act; you would not like me to think of you in that way—you see how rudely they play. You see some girls romp like that—you won't enjoy that. You can cultivate good manners and grow up nice in a polished way and become a little gentleman or little lady, or you can grow up and always be rude. If you do not grow up in refinement you will not be fit for good society. Now I would like to see you the most polished boy or girl in this neighborhood, so that wherever you go they will say, 'Notice that little boy! Notice that little girl!' Now, my child, I want you to pattern after this. I am not trying to fill you full of pride, so you would strut around. A proud boy and a proud girl will bring upon them the odium of their little playmates. You are not to be proud, but simply be kind, and gentle, and cleanly and tidy no matter how poor your clothes are they can always be kept tidy; and wherever you go see that you do not get them covered with mud and dirt. Be ashamed if anyone says you are proud, or look proud, but make sure you always look like a little lady or gentleman." The children will like that, and if the parents would only get next to their children and have them feel that the ones most interested in them is father and mother, they will remember that when they grow up. Train up a child in the way it should go, and when old it will not depart from that way. It will have more influence than most people seem to realize. What we see in the world in respect to children is nearly a shame. They seem so uncouth, it looks as though they had no parental training at all. Anybody in the truth should know better than to have their children that way. I think of a time when I was in Pennsylvania and took dinner with a brother there. He was a Pennsylvania German, as we say, and after dinner he said to me as we went in the parlor before going to meeting: "Brother Russell, you met my boys and girls at the table."
He said, "I am proud of my sons and my daughters, Brother Russell; I do feel they are above the average, but they are not what would have been if I had had the sixth volume when they were little. But, as you say, after the tree is grown you can twist it all out of shape and get kinks [Page Q545] out, and I have straightened them up all I can. But I cannot, without having trouble, do any more, and I know that would not be wise, and we are to act wisely. So they are pretty nice, but not as nice as they would have been if I had known how to train them as you say from the cradle, or before they were born."
Do not forget the training that comes in before they are born, the most important of all training, but the next is to begin when they are babies and keep up the training. Never laugh at your children. Many parents injure their influence by laughing at a child. The child is sensitive. "If my father makes fun of me when I tell him something I won't tell him anything any more." You want to keep the confidence of your son and daughter so that when they come to the age when they are having beaux, etc., they will still want to come to father and mother and say, "I have a beau." They do not generally want to do that, but it ought to be that way. Your influence with them should be such they would love you and could not keep it back, and would say, "I have a beau, what do you think of him?" They would want your opinion of him. And they would not think of marrying anybody except one the father and mother would say is a suitable companion, for they would have such confidence in your judgment. But in order to have that influence you must be wise as a serpent and follow the directions of the Lord's Word. I tell you if we had our lives to live over again, or if we had lived all the way down, when we were 100 years old we would know something; but we must be thankful for the light and knowledge that comes and make the best use of it when it does come, and if you have made mistakes, do the best you can. If before you knew the Lord yourself and understood His Word you had children and they grew up like wild weeds, you have every reason to be sorry, but you cannot help it. Be kind and patient, be generous, be as helpful as possible, be a real father and mother, and remember they have their failings that you helped to give to them, and be that much more sympathetic with those failings in the sense of giving much more time and assistance to overcome their weaknesses.
Q545:1 QUESTION (1913)—1—Will restitution, physical perfection, any way be helped by medical and surgical discoveries, or will restitution be wholly brought about by the power of Jesus to the willing and obedient?
ANSWER—I can tell you about that, I hope, in about two years. I could not more than guess now, and I would always want a difference between what is written and what is guess work. Some people put their guesses and Bible so much together you cannot tell when they are guessing and when they are telling about what the Bible says. Whenever it is a pure guess I want to say that it is. Now I guess that the Lord will allow certain things to come about partly by surgery and medicine at the beginning; I should not wonder at all if there would not be some wonderful discoveries. It would seem as though they are leading on to better things, and yet everything might in another way be viewed from a different standpoint. Jesus did not use any medicine when He healed the sick, and those things Jesus did were illustrations [Page Q546] of coming blessings of the Millennial day. So the result of it is, I don't know.
ANSWER—The Lord gives a great deal of liberty. There is not a word stated in the Scriptures as to how we shall come to God in prayer, and those who prefer and think they do better to stand when they pray have nothing in the Scriptures to tell them to the contrary; and those who prefer to kneel and feel that in that manner they can come nearer to the Lord, and pour out their hearts most reverently, have nothing in the Scriptures to hinder them; and those who prefer to bow the head have nothing in the Scriptures to hinder them. I agree that kneeling is a very reverential posture, but I am not sure that in every case it is the better one. Suppose we say now, Let us all kneel down in prayer. You would find that as you kneel down you would make a great deal of noise, for one thing, and it would inconvenience your neighbor for another, and you would all get your clothes soiled with the mire off your shoes, and there would be many disadvantages about kneeling. Now, if the Lord had said to kneel, you and I would want to kneel, no matter how much trouble we got into. But when the Lord has not said to kneel, but left it to our option, I think we should use our common sense. My common sense would say that God is no respecter of form in the matter; it is the heart; if the heart kneels down before God, He is pleased with it. If the heart does not kneel down, then it does not count for anything anyway, so what we want is to kneel in our hearts, or get into the most humble attitude we know so far as our hearts are concerned, and then let each one, and the circumstances of the matter, determine what shall be the form. So far as my own private prayers are concerned, I nearly always kneel in the morning and in the evening devotion, but I pray to the Lord a great many times when not kneeling. Usually the last thing in bed before I go to sleep, and the first thing in the morning before I get out, I pray. So I pray in bed, and after I get up, and before I go to bed. I presume you do the same. Now there is no hindrance. You see it gives us full liberty. And you see the Apostle says. "Praying. always and giving thanks." Well you could not be on your knees always that is evident; it must give us liberty at other times, and not restrict the matter to praying only on our knees.
Q546:1 QUESTION (1910)—2—"Go ye therefore and preach to all nations, baptizing then in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." If the salvation of the world is future, what would there be gained by teaching the nations and baptizing them?
ANSWER—Well, the questioner seems to get the impression that our Lord in using these words made a mistake, because if Jesus meant that his disciples should disciple all nations (that is a Greek word, disciple all, not teach), the questioner seems to get the thought that all nations should be disciples, and these disciples be baptized. What do we find? Only a mere handful are disciples, and only a mere handful [Page Q547] have been baptized, and so according to the questioner's account, the Lord made a great mistake. Well, now, that is not the way to look at it. The Lord Jesus did not make any mistake; let us read this question and scrutinize it from a different standpoint. Go ye, therefore, and disciple all nations; that is, make disciples of every nation. Not merely amongst the Jews. At first he said, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any of the cities of the Samaritans enter ye not, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and find disciples. But now he is giving a broader, wider application for the Gospel Age and in due time, when led of the spirit, they did go to all nations, not making any discriminations—go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them. Who, the nations or the disciples? The disciples. Whoever you can make into a disciple, baptize him. Did he say they would be successful in making disciples of all nations? It is still true that he is not calling all. Many are called, but not all, only those who have the ear to hear. The Apostle said, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of those who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine into them and they should be converted." Who is the god of this world? Satan. He has blinded the minds of all. Some with Pantheism, some with fatalism, some with one error and some with another, and even amongst Christians he has brought in all kinds of blindness and error—along the lines of eternal torment, purgatory and other lines. He blinds them to the love of God, to the real character of God, and to the call of this Gospel Age. All those who have not believed. Why should he want to blind them? Lest the glorious light of the goodness of God should shine into their hearts. He does not want God's goodness to shine into their hearts.
ANSWER—We do not know enough on this subject to permit us to give a very full, clear and satisfactory answer. So far as we could reason on the subject, our Lord could not know of His pre-existence, before He was begotten of the Holy Spirit, except by natural means. His mother, Mary, would tell Him about His miraculous birth, about the angel that appeared to her, etc. At all events, the Bible says, He grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. Thus He was developing until He was thirty years of age.
Our supposition is that He knew that He was miraculously born, for a purpose. He knew as a child that He must be about His Father's business as soon as the divine arrangement would permit—that much we know. It is just as well that we do not speculate too much on features not Scripturally revealed.
When thirty years of age we read that the Holy Spirit came upon Him and He was illuminated. "The heavens opened unto Him." His mind was made clear as to the Divine Plan and arrangement. We are justified in supposing, then, that it was not thus clear, illuminated before. He knew that He came into the world and was there for a special mission. He knew what that mission was, but did [Page Q548] not have the matter in clear form until the Holy Spirit came upon Him. He knew that He proceeded and came forth from God, and knew that He was to return to the Father. He spoke of the glory He had with the Father before the world was, and He would not refer to it without having a knowledge of it; but this was after His anointing by the Spirit.
Q548:1 QUESTION (1909)—1—If a brother who is begotten of the Spirit and has been prominent in teaching Present Truth, as presented through the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, but afterwards teaches what he thinks is the Gospel, but contrary to Present Truth, and continues in that condition unto death, what would be the result, whether he would have a chance on any plane or not?
ANSWER—Too deep for me, dear friends. I do not know; we are not appointed to judge one another. We will wish him very well if he is dead. If the Lord has anything good for him, we are willing that he should have it. We would have reason to fear, however, for if he was once in the Truth and lost it, that it was a bad sign, for we would think that one who has had Present Truth would appreciate it more and more. We are not to judge, but will leave the matter in the Lord's hands.
ANSWER—We answer that present truth would be that truth which at any time would be the particular message or fact that God would have his people take notice of. For instance, if we were today to preach about a flood of water coming, it would not be present truth; but for Noah to preach about a flood of waters coming was present truth; it was present truth in his day. He preached that thing that was due at that time; so today present truth is that truth that pertains to our time, the harvest time of the Gospel Age, the glorious morning of the new dispensation—everything pertaining to this is in that sense present truth. There are other truths that are always proper, of course, such as the fact of our heavenly Father's greatness, and love, and wisdom, and justice, and power; and such as the fact that our Lord Jesus came into the world and died for sinners. These truths are always present; but what is meant by present truth particularly is those features of truth which apply to the present time, and more particularly than to any other time. So I understand, then, in answer to the question, that the present truth of this time is the harvest message; that we are living in the harvest time of this Gospel Age, when the Lord is about to make up his jewels, and that the Gospel Age is to close and the new dispensation of Messiah's Kingdom is about to be inaugurated. To be in the truth would mean, therefore, in that sense of the word, to have a knowledge of those things, and be a loyal one in supporting those things, and in promulgating the message that is now due.
Q548:3 QUESTION (1911)—3—Is it possible for anyone to have the present truth at this time, and come into the great company [Page Q549] class, or will they be obliged to make their calling and election, or go into the second death.?
ANSWER—I know of no limitation of the kind that is implied in this question. My understanding is that there are persons at the present time, who have a knowledge of present truth, who may fail to make good; they may come short of the standard and not be acceptable as members of the body of Christ. I would not think that they would necessarily go into the second death. No one will go into the second death, we may be sure, unless that person willfully, intentionally, repudiates the Lord and his grace. God is not anxious to put anyone into the second death, and there are doubtless many people who will come short of the high ideal that the Lord will require, but who are far too good for the second death. But our suggestion is that we should all strive to make our calling and election; and it will require that we strive.
ANSWER—There are various degrees of the Spirit of holiness which may be possessed by the child of God at various times in his experience. We may ourselves have more of the Holy Spirit now than we have ever had before implying that there was a time when we did not have so much. Or there may be some who have less, implying that they have not been growing spiritually, and are grieving the Holy Spirit with which they were sealed.
We are not to think that all who are begotten of the Holy Spirit are exactly on the same plane, in either their spiritual appetites, or their development, or their knowledge of God's Plan. We grow in grace as we grow in knowledge. If our measure of grace lessens, the knowledge begins to fade. As a matter of fact, the whole world has been laboring under such delusions that we are surprised, when we "wake up," to see how little we did know—to see how ignorant we were of some of the precious messages God has given us.
And as we were children of God before we received full knowledge, so we believe it is possible for others to be children of God without having the full knowledge. We are living in the end of the Harvest time, when, we believe, the Lord is causing the knowledge of the Truth to encircle the world. And yet the Adversary is raising "dust," calumny, to hinder the people from appreciating it.
It is in very rare cases that God does as He did with Saul of Tarsus—strike him down with a great light, brighter than the sun at noonday. And it is because we believe that there are still children of God attempting to live on husks and skimmed milk—that there are such brethren in Christ who need the assistance we are able to give them—that we are trying to help them. Otherwise we would abandon all special effort at propaganda, knowing that there will be favorable conditions for all as soon as the Kingdom shall be established.
The Bible speaks of the Great Company class as the "great multitude," as though the foolish virgin class were larger than the wise virgin class. And the Scriptures indicate that the Great Company class will not all have fled from Babylon before its overthrow. "Come out of her, My[Page Q550] people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." This call has been going out for now thirty-seven years. It is God's call.
The Scriptures show us that some will come out, and others will not come out, will not be released from Babylonish fetters. These foolish virgins will see that their lack of love and zeal has lost them a place in the Bride class. But they are virgins, nevertheless, and will have a place, or portion, as the companions of the Bride. They will follow her into the King's Palace. They will be bridesmaids, if you please—a position of lesser honor; but they will attain everlasting life. So we have reason to believe that the numbers of God's people begotten of the Holy Spirit and still in Babylon are considerable. If we were in their place and they in our place, we feel sure that they would make heroic efforts to help us out of Babylon; so we are doing likewise.
ANSWER—I would think it a very dangerous disease, and I think the Great Physician has put the proper medicine in the medicine chest that he has given us; that he has given us the proper remedies in his Word; he is instructing us to cultivate meekness, and to cultivate love; the meekness will reduce the size of the head, and the love will increase the size of the heart.
ANSWER—Our Lord entered upon his Melchisedec priesthood individually, personally, at the time of his resurrection, when, as the Apostle declares, God announced, "Let all the angels of God worship him." In this individual sense he became the Melchisedec Priest, although only the "Head" was yet formed. Since the intelligence is in the head, we can see how the head might stand for the body, as could no other member of the body. A hand stretched forth might represent the body, but it could not have the intelligence of the head, and we could not say that the presence was there, but as soon as the Head was born from the dead, as soon as the Head was accepted as the Melchisedec Priest, that soon the whole matter would have a standing with God, the intelligence residing in the Head. We agree, however, that we shall not exercise our full office as a Melchisedec Priest until the whole Church shall be with their Head in glory, members of his Body. A Melchisedec Priest is a blessing Priest, a Priest who has the power to bless. Melchisedec was able to bless Abraham. Far superior, therefore, to the Aaronic priesthood is the Melchisedec priesthood.
Our Lord could not have been this Melchisedec Priest until his resurrection, evidently, because he had nothing with which to bless. Before he could do any blessing he must himself lay down his life, and by laying down his human life in obedience to the Father, he would thus receive or have to his credit the merit which he could draw upon in the blessing of us, and ultimately all the families of the earth.
ANSWER—"Thou art a Priest for the age," or rather, a Priest ever, an ever-Priest, a lasting Priest; not one who would pass away by death; not one who would drop his office in some unsatisfactory manner, but one who would fully accomplish all the purposes for which he was appointed as a Priest. Our Lord was appointed a Priest because there was necessity for a Priest. It is not an office that would be necessary amongst the angels, who are perfect, but it is an office necessary amongst men, because of their imperfection. To be a Priest, therefore, to the end or completion, would mean that he would be a Priest, Mediator, Reconciler, Harmonizer in this matter of estrangement between God and man. Therefore, this office will end with the Millennial Age, when he shall have accomplished all this work and will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father. Then he will be a Priest no more. There will be no need of a Priest of any kind, sacrificing or reigning. The very significance of the office is that of intercessor or mediator, or assister in some manner of those who are in some difficulty.
Q551:1 QUESTION (1910-Z)—1—In the appointment of the Aaronic priesthood, Aaron was the High Priest and his sons were associate priests. Is the fact that his sons were associated with him specially typical?
ANSWER—Evidently the type was intended to teach that these under-priests were the members, or body, of the High Priest, because that was the form in which the matter was expressed. He was to "make atonement for himself and his house." Now, what is the thought in this word "himself?" How would we most clearly express it? What relationship except that of a wife would more nearly represent one's self? The sons of Aaron, then, would represent him in a special manner, as though they were his body. A father is represented in his son in a particular sense. The type of the High Priest in his office would thus be maintained through successive generations. The sons were not, as sons, typical, but sons were in type the best representation of the body of the priest that could be made, and hence were representative of us, who are the Body of Christ.
ANSWER —To our understanding the picture of the "priest" is an individual picture. It is not a work which priests are in a collective sense to do, but here the one priest is to do the work. In other words, the under-priests are merely recognized as representatives of the priest, the same as we are representatives of Christ. In that sense of the word it might be said that there is only one priest, the officiating priest, the one who does the particular work; but in another sense there is an under-priesthood—in the sense that we have a separate personality, as individuals, yet acting in conjunction with our Lord as his members.
While recognizing the Scripture, "ye are a royal priesthood," let us lay stress on the Apostle's words which declare of our Lord, "if he were on earth he could not be a priest, seeing that there are priests who offer according to the Law." The Apostle then proceeds to prove that our Lord was a Priest after the order of Melchisedec, and that this [Page Q552]Melchisedec priesthood was acknowledged of God with an oath, and that Aaron and his priesthood were never acknowledged thus. But respecting this man the Lord said, "I have sworn with an oath, thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec."
Melchisedec was, of course, only the one priest, and that one priest, therefore, represented all our Lord's members, and since the great work of the antitypical Priest is in the future, and is not the present work, we see that this is the reason why Aaron is not so particularly referred to in the type of the Great Priest. The Great Priest will really do his great work during the Millennial Age, and what is done in the present time is merely a preparatory work, preparing himself for work.
First, the Lord Jesus, in the three and one-half years of his ministry, proved himself worthy to be the Priest, and during the 1800 years since he is proving us worthy to be his members, and by the time he shall have completed his work of proving us all worthy, with himself, for this great and honorable position of Prophet, Priest, Mediator, King, Judge of the world, he will at the same time have to his credit certain merit which he can apply for the world and on account of which he can perform a priestly office for mankind. The priestly office, as before stated, is more that of the future than of the present. The present time is the sacrificing time, the time for making a covenant with the Lord by sacrifice.
We agree, of course, that none of us is doing the sacrificing. The high priest smote the bullock and killed it, and the high priest, likewise, smote the goat and killed it. Then came the presentation; as, for instance, when the Apostle Says, "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God," etc., he is not here saying, Perform the work of a priest upon your body, but offer yourself as a sacrifice to the Lord; he may accept you; he may sacrifice you, and he may perform a service upon you which will prepare you for a share with himself, as a member of his Body, in the glorious work of the future, in the work of blessing all the families of the earth, in the work of ushering in the Times of Restoration which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.—Acts 3 :19-21.
Q552:1 QUESTION —(1910-Z)—1—Since it was the priests who were to offer the sacrifices and since no one could be a priest except he was called of God, how was it that some of the Ancient Worthies, Job and others, who were not priests, offered up sacrifices?
ANSWER—The sacrifices which these offered were not sin offerings. They did not offer up sacrifices according to the types of the Law, as the Day of Atonement sacrifices, for instance. This whole arrangement of the Jewish Law, by which the sacrificing was taken out of the individual's hands and put into the hands of the priests, was a new departure in God's dealings.
Abraham, we know, presented offerings before the establishment of the Priesthood. The exact time in which Job lived we do not know. We merely know that he was Job of Uz, and walked before God with a perfect heart; but we think we are justified in supposing that he did not live during [Page Q553] the Law dispensation, with its typical sacrifices. If this be true, his course was in full line with Abraham's course when he offered up sacrifices. When Abraham was stayed from offering his son, he offered up the ram caught in the thicket, as the Lord directed.
What these patriarchs did in the matter of offering up sacrifices was evidently a token on their part of appreciation of God and of the fact that a sacrifice for sins was necessary, just as Abel brought the firstlings of his flock and offered them to God, though he was not called to be a priest; but none of these sacrifices was accepted in the same sense that the sacrifices were accepted under the Law. None of these sacrifices ever made the offerers themselves perfect, nor did they atone for anyone else; they were merely the same as a prayer would be, a manifestation of a good desire of heart and of appreciation of God and a desire to reverence him, and a recognition of the fact that sin required some atonement. So when the Lord showed how this sin-atonement was to be made he pictured the work of this Gospel Age. He appointed a priest to represent the Lord Jesus, and under-priests to represent the Church. A work of sacrifice was done on a particular day of the year—the Atonement Day—representing the work of this Gospel Age in which these "better sacrifices" for sin are offered; and under this larger arrangement no one is permitted to offer the sacrifice except a priest, God thus indicating that the work is entirely under his supervision and direction.
ANSWER—The account might be read in different ways, but my reading of it leads me to understand that the under priests did have access to the Holy on the Atonement Day. Some others might think differently. I think this is in full accord with what we know to be the experience of the Church—that we all have access to the holy from the time we are spirit-begotten. We are now in the antitypical Atonement Day. To say that the under priests in the antitypical Priesthood are in the Holy, and then to say that the type did not teach that we should be there, I think would be a contradiction between type and antitype. I think they did have access to the Holy during the entire Day of Atonement.
ANSWER—What the Lord is looking for at the present time is the spirit of sacrifice or self-denial—not merely the spirit of obedience to commands. Few, of course, would resist a Divine command, if thundered from heaven. Our test is more crucial than that. It is a test of obedience to what we understand to be the will of God or the privilege of service in his cause. Those who delight to do his will, those who delight to serve his cause, even at the cost of sacrifice to earthly interests, are the very ones he is now seeking. "He seeketh such to worship him as worship him in spirit and in Truth!" "Now is the acceptable time;" now is the time for those to come forward who desire to offer themselves unreservedly, and who desire that the Lord shall accept [Page Q554] their offering, which they know is not of great value. The more the sacrifice costs you, the more we may be sure it will be appreciated of the Lord. For any to give the Lord a thing which has no value in their own estimation would be in the nature of an insult, instead of sacrifice.
Every accepted sacrificer who fails to carry out his sacrifice will surely miss the "high calling," and, if our expectations are correct, will share with the "great company" in the "destruction of the flesh," which, after consecration, they were unwilling to devote day by day.
ANSWER—It is true that one might be both justified and sanctified through faith in the blood before learning anything about the Covenants or the philosophy of the Ransom. And one might retain equally justification and sanctification through faith in that blood, irrespective of philosophies respecting the Divine methods of the applications of Christ's merit. This was true in our own case. Subsequently, having obtained grace from the Lord and some knowledge of his Plan—the philosophies of the Atonement, etc.—we served it out to others in his name. He advised us through his Word that these things were "meat in due season," and that the path of the just would shine more and more. In harmony with these promises, we have clearer light. increasingly, which is ours to dispense to whomsoever has "an ear to hear."
The Old Law Covenant was for the natural seed of Abraham, and similarly the New Law Covenant will be instituted with them, as taking the place of the old one and bringing them a blessing, which they failed to get under the one of which Moses was the mediator. Ours is the faith Covenant, the original Covenant, to which the old one was added, and to which the new one will be added in due time.
ANSWER—I answer that it was a class that was living in our Lord's day. The scribes and Pharisees were seeking to be at harmony with God, and outwardly at least were in harmony with him, whom he recognized as sitting in the seat of Moses, as being representatives of the Lord and of the Father also. The younger son represents those Jews who became profligate and who wasted their privileges as Jews, and became publicans and sinners, outlaws, and lived as Gentiles instead of living in harmony with God, as represented in the parable. Now the Pharisees were very bitter against these publicans and sinners, and because Jesus talked with them and sat with them, they said, This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them, we are the holy ones. Jesus was seeking to correct that error of Pharasaical pride. That is not God's way, as they were doing. If you have found these people hungering for my word, you should have been [Page Q555] glad to see them come out to me. They should have said, There is a man, and the publicans and sinners are attracted to him, praise God, that some of those brethren who have gone off into sin are coming back, we are glad of it. But now, said the Lord, that is not your attitude. When you see them coming back and being properly received and blessed, that God is feeding them, etc., putting a new robe on them, etc., you say, we will stay out if you are going to let them come in. Jesus said, if you stay out, then you will stay out, for God is receiving them. You are the elder brother, these privileges are yours, you did not go out, you should have been ready to receive them, you should have said, we are glad to have you back, there is plenty for us all—that should have been your attitude. This parable is given as a reproof to that Pharasaical class.
Q555:2 QUESTION —(1910)—2—We understand that the Lord has not yet bought the world. Has the Lord purchased the Church? If not, how shall we understand the Scripture which says, "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price?"
ANSWER—I understand it to say, ye and not they. Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price." Our Lord Jesus is represented as having paid the price to justice as far as the Church is concerned, and the Church is bought, and all of this class who become part of the Church are therefore included and dealt with under this gracious promise in advance of the world. But the world is not yet bought.
ANSWER—I think this is a question upon which, as the apostle says, everyone should be fully persuaded in his own mind; it is not a subject that is laid down as a law in the Word of God. It is, therefore, not a Scriptural question. The Scriptures in general exhort toward all purity, but the Scriptures also say that marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled. It is not in the authority of anybody to supersede the words of Jesus and the apostles. The apostle, nevertheless, does give the exhortation that for those to whom it may be possible to live a life of chastity, it would be a very desirable one, saying, "He that marries does well, and he that marries not does better."
ANSWER—In the chapter on the Pyramid, in the third volume of Scripture Studies, we made mention of the fact that a measurement might be taken up the front of that large step, you remember, that is at the top of the Grand Gallery; that it could be measured up that step and along that step to about the junction line. We did not have the [Page Q556] exact measurement of that, but we took what is termed a paper measurement. That is to say, if anything is drawn to a scale, you can, by measuring very carefully with a piece of paper, estimate pretty closely, and our estimate of that, as I remember it, and as recorded there in the third volume, was that the point of time in inches would seem to represent October, 1910; but we did not give that as anything positive, nor as anything we know. I do not know anything about October, 1910. It is merely a suggestion. When it comes to October, 1910, I think it will be very well for you to have both eyes open and look around and see if you see anything. But the dates that are given to us prophetically are the ones I think we ought to especially give heed to. Now these prophetic dates seem to be, 1874, October; 1878, in the spring; and then 1881, in October; and then October, 1914. Now these, as far as we can tell, are the dates marked in prophecy, and to these we do well that we take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place, as St. Peter says. That does not mean that we know now, or that we ever knew, nor that we say now, nor that we ever said, that the suggestions made respecting these dates which are based upon prophecies are indisputable; nor that we have ever claimed infallibility in the interpretation of the prophecies in connection with them. What do we say, in the Scripture Studies, you will remember, is this: That to our understanding, this teaches this, and that teaches that, and the other teaches the other. We do not see any other way they could be held together, or any other conclusion that could be reached; and for my own part, therefore, I believe that those dates signify such and such things. That is all we have ever said; we never said we were infallible in these things. We believe them. We have believed them from the first; we are acting upon that belief. But, my dear friends, if October, 1915, came, or October, 1920, came, and no great time of trouble, and no change of all the Church came, it would not overthrow my faith in the divine plan of the ages for a moment. God is selecting a Church as the Seed of Abraham, and that Church as the Seed of Abraham is predestinated to do the work of blessing all the families of the earth; whether 1915 is the exact time for that to begin, or the trouble that will introduce that time of blessing, is another matter. I believe October, 1914, is the time when we may expect that great time of trouble, because it seems to our judgment, as far as we can understand the Scriptures, that is the time when the Gentile period of lease, or tenure, will expire, and when, therefore, we may expect that the time of trouble shall be ushered in; and that time of trouble we understand is the one the Scriptures tell about—a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, a time of trouble which shall overwhelm all sorts of government, and every institution of the present time; and a time of trouble which thus will make ready and prepare mankind for the glorious reign of Christ and his Church, for the blessing and uplifting of all the families of the earth.
Q811:1 QUESTION—Considering Paul's positive claim to be an Apostle, specially called of God, who saw Jesus, and that the choice of Matthias to be the successor of Judas, by the Eleven, was before the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, are we to consider him (Paul) as the successor of Judas, remembering that there were to be but twelve Apostles, and that Matthias was not afterward heard of?
ANSWER—It is evident from the Scriptural account that the Eleven were acting without due warrant and authority in selecting Matthias to be the successor of Judas. They had been instructed to tarry at Jerusalem and wait for enduement from on high by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and it was during this waiting period and before they were endued with power, that they mistakenly cast lots and chose Matthias. The Lord did not reprove them for this undesigned meddling with His arrangement, but simply ignored their choice, and in His own time brought forward the Apostle Paul, declaring, "He is a chosen vessel unto Me." There can be no question but that the Lord arranged that there should be but twelve Apostles, and in evidence of this note how the Lord particularly chose those twelve, calling to mind the prominence of the number twelve in sacred things pertaining to this election. And we cap the climax by pointing to the symbolical picture of the glorified Church furnished in Rev. 21:1. In the picture the statement is most distinctly made that the twelve foundations [Page Q812]of the City are precious, and in them were written the names of the "twelve Apostles of the Lamb . . ."—no more, no less.
Q812:1 QUESTION—How shall we understand the Prophet's words: "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:4) in view of the fact that all of the nations are learning war and making vast preparations for a great international conflict? Think of the armies and navies and munitions of war! Have in mind also the frightful instruments of destruction that are being devised, such as submarines, airplanes, murderous machine guns and terrific explosives, etc. Will peace never be established in the earth?
ANSWER—The Prophet Joel foretold just the conditions that we see about us in the world today (see Joel 3:9-11). The Lord Jesus also informed His followers that "wars and rumors of wars as well as dreadful calamities would continue all down through the centuries until the time of His second advent (Mat. 24:6,7), and then in the very end of the Age, "the last days," would be the great tribulation, a time of war and trouble involving all nations, the preparations for which are fulfilled in the conditions of the present. When the final great cataclysm, the overwhelming flood of trouble, has drawn to its close, then Messiah's reign of peace begins. A universal government will be established in the earth, the Kingdom of God, and "the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called . . . The Prince of Peace; of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end." (Isa. 9:6,7) The connecting verses to the one quoted in your question, show that the conditions of peace referred to will not be established until after the "mountain" (Kingdom) of the Lord is set up in the earth. (See verses 2 and 3)
Q812:2 QUESTION—Is it proper for a Christian to engage in physical exercises, or physical culture? I would like to have your thought on this matter and, if possible, any Scriptures bearing on the subject, as I know of some people who seemingly think it a sin to devote any thought to the care of the body. (J.E.M.)
ANSWER—The mind or will is the master of the body. The condition of the mind is largely affected by the condition of the body. A sound mind in a sound body is the ideal condition. To keep the body and the mind in proper condition, it is essential that they be exercised, for it is a law of nature that inaction produces decay and disease. Any stagnant pond is a good illustration of this law. The Christian, whose desire is to serve his God and his fellow-man, and who wills to do so, should recognize that he can work out his will and desires more effectively with a sound mind and a sound body than with those that are disabled or injured through neglect or disuse. Considering the body from this standpoint, as an instrument or a machine to be utilized by [Page Q813] the will in accomplishing good works, it would be the part of wisdom to have it in excellent condition in order to achieve the best results. The orderly, systematic care of the body tends to develop those very traits of character that are essential to the Christian development. Temperance, self-control, determination, patience, self-denial, etc., are naturally acquired by those who pursue a regular course of training with the object of devoting their time and energies to the service of their Lord. The Apostle says, "Bodily training is profitable for a little; but piety is profitable for all things, having a promise of the present life, and of that which is future." (1 Tim. 4:8)
ANSWER—This passage of Scripture, as with all the inspired statements from the Lord, is profound in its depth of meaning. In Job's day, men did not possess the wonderful astronomical instruments which have been devised in modern times and by which marvelous discoveries have been made. With the primitive means at their disposal, it was beyond the bounds of reasonable possibilities for the ancients to attain to the degree of astronomical knowledge and information at present enjoyed. It is only by inspiration (imparted knowledge from the Creator), that we can account for the fact that they possessed a more accurate knowledge of science and astronomy than we possess today. In the mightiest structure ever erected by man and also the oldest building on the earth, a monument over four thousand years old, the Great Pyramid in Egypt, are contained in its measurements and outlined in its chambers and passageways, scientific facts such as the number of days in the solar year down to the exact fraction thereof, the mean distance to the sun from the earth, and also the number of years in the precessional cycle. But the crowning feature of all its scientific presentations is that some years ago, that the Pleiades, the most renowned of all the heavenly groups of stars, from the center of the Universe, around which revolve all the celestial bodies in space, just as the earth and planets revolve around the sun, forming our solar system. What a depth of meaning therefore is breathed into that wonderful expression of Job, "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades?"
ANSWER—Jesus was addressing His disciples, and through them all consecrated Christians. At Jesus' second coming all of His faithful followers, then remaining on the earth, will be taken away to heavenly conditions, as He stated that He would go away to prepare a place for these, and He would come again for them, and when Christ's Kingdom is fully established and the blessings flow out therefrom to the people, there will be neither rich nor poor, [Page Q814] but all shall be brought to one common level (Isa. 11:4,5). Messiah's reign will result in peace, joy, happiness, health and plenty to all the righteous. Then "they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." (Jer. 31:34; Jer. 33:6; Micah 4:3,4.)
ANSWER—The following is a more literal translation of the verses cited than that in the Authorized Version: "Is any weak among you (weak in the faith, morally and spiritually weak or ailing) let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the wearied one (weary in well doing; the one who is in a "backslidden" condition. The prayers and the words of exhortation and encouragement to righteousness on the part of the "elder" brothers in the church will have the effect of raising up, stimulating and reviving the spiritually weary and fainting one). And the Lord shall raise him up, and though he have committed sins they shall be forgiven him. Therefore confess your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Evidently the weakness and faintness are spiritual, and the restoration and healing also spiritual. There is no instance mentioned in the Scriptures of where the Apostles or their associates healed each other of their physical maladies or ailments. When Timothy was afflicted with indigestion, the elders were not called in to pray over him; but the Apostle counseled the use of a little wine for his infirmity. The Apostle Paul himself was afflicted with painfully weak eyes (a "thorn in the flesh") and prayed for relief, but his prayer was not granted. From the foregoing, we conclude that Christians are nowhere authorized to practice "faith healing" amongst themselves.
ANSWER—A babe in Christ might pray for physical health in all good conscience and might be granted an answer as a reward for the faith and prayer. But an advanced Christian, who had proceeded from justification to sanctification—one who had consecrated life and health and all to God, and who, in return, had been begotten of the holy Spirit to a new nature—such a Christian should not pray for health. He should discern that his consecration includes his setting aside of all claim to earthly blessing, as an exchange for spiritual life, spiritual health, spiritual clothing, spiritual food, and by and by, in the resurrection—the spiritual body. His prayer should be, Thy will be done in me; give me today my daily portion, according to Thy Divine wisdom, of what would be for my best interests as a New Creature in Christ, a member of the Body of Christ, the[Page Q815] Church of the First-born, whose names are written in heaven. He should remember the Lord's words to the effect that after all these things—food and raiment—the Gentiles seek and are solicitous and inclined to pray; whereas those who have become New Creatures have higher interests and can fully trust the Lord to give what is best.
Q815:1 QUESTION—I have heard good devout Christian brethren praying to the Lord and pleading, during revival services, that sinners might be saved and that the sinners might not have rest day or night until they gave their hearts to the Lord. Also they prayed that God would stir up a great revival amongst the people and that sinners wold be saved from an awful hell. But I find that these brethren's prayers have not been answered as only a few are converted and of these the most of them go back into the world again. Were these brethren praying right or wrong? You know it says, "Ask and I will give." (G.C.)
ANSWER—The Lord Jesus and His Apostles never prayed for the conversion of sinners and they never authorized any one to do so. In that notable prayer of the Lord Jesus to the Heavenly Father as given in the 17th chapter of the Gospel of St. John, the Lord said, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world (sinners), but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine." Here our Lord was praying for His Apostles, and in the 20th verse of this chapter, He prayed for those who would believe on Him through their word, and ignored "sinners" completely. The reason why some good Christian brethren have not had their prayers answered is because they have asked amiss. (See James 4:3.)
ANSWER—The word "purgatory" is from the Latin tongue and signifies primarily a place of purification or making clean. The thought usually involved in the consideration of the term is that an intermediate state of condition exists for those who die and who at the time of death—while professing Christianity—were not sufficiently cleansed from their sins to justify an immediate entrance into heaven, the abode of the pure and saintly ones. Hence, they must expiate their sins by enduring intense suffering in flames and sorrow for a period of time in proportion to the amount of sin to be eradicated. We are not aware that this view is set forth in the Bible. There is, however, a condition of purgatory presented in the teachings of the Scriptures. It is becoming very clear to all enlightened Bible scholars that the period of Christ's reign on earth for the space of a thousand years—when Satan is bound and the knowledge of the Lord is filling the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep—that then the nations of earth will learn righteousness and gradually be purged of all iniquity and unrighteousness and in this way be prepared to enter into the conditions of eternal life. This, of course, will be after the second advent. The world is not to be scorched [Page Q816] and blistered in a vain attempt to make it pure and upright, but the Lord will rule in righteousness and love and win the race by His kindness and tender mercies.