N.B.—Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
The death of the President of France, at the hands of an assassin, will do much to intensify the feeling of opposition to anarchists and socialists, which for the past year has been growing in the minds of conservative people.
The result will be laws looking toward the suppression of Socialism in its moderate as well as its radical phases. This will in turn mean the curtailment of liberties; and, while successful for a time, it will intensify a smouldering discontent, which eventually will break forth in an uncontrollable violence, and produce the "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation."
The idea seems thoroughly entrenched in the minds of men that a restitution to life of all of Adam's race would crowd the world until there would be standing room only, if, indeed, they were not piled one upon the other or crowded off into the oceans.
These fallacious ideas come to people through the public press, and often are accredited to college professors. We give below one of these statements, sent in by a TOWER reader, and quote his comments following it.
"A Berlin Professor finds that Europe contains 272,000,000 inhabitants; Asia, 720,000,000; Africa, 89,000,000; America, 200,000,000; and Polynesia, 2,000,000—total, 1,283,000,000. Of this little crowd, about 32,000,000 die in each year, which is 87,761 a day or 61 per minute. Another professor calculates that 36,627,843,275,075,558 people have lived on the earth since the creation."
"The DAWN says 252 billion. The German Professor says, 36 quadrillions, 627 trillions, 843 billions, 275 millions, 75 thousands 558—a big difference. The Professor is a close calculator: he has gotten down to the last eight."
Take this German Professor's figures, respecting the daily death-rate, as the foundation for our examination. He asserts that 87,761 people die each day. If we multiply this number by 365, it will give the total deaths of a year; and the total is 32,032,765. This number is sufficiently large to satisfy anyone that the Professor has not under-estimated.
Now multiply 32,032,765 by 6021, to ascertain the total number of persons who would have died since Adam was created, and the total will be found to be 192,869,278,065. Now add to this the living 1,400,000,000, and we have a grand total of 194,269,278,065. Thus, taking the German Professor's figures, we find them nearly sixty billions less than our liberal estimate presented in MILLENNIAL [R1670 : page 210] DAWN, VOL. I., pages 160, 161, and which, as we there stated, we consider at least double the actual number.
Notice, too, that in this calculation, based upon the German Professor's figures, we have certainly counted two persons for every one that has actually died; for back in Adam's day we know of no deaths but that of Abel, for nearly a thousand years; and then the death-rate must have been very small, in comparison to the present.
As already shown, a person standing occupies about one and two-thirds square feet of space. At this rate the present population of the earth (one billion four hundred million persons) could stand on an area of eighty-six square miles—an area much less than that of the city of London or of Philadelphia. And the island of Ireland (area, thirty-two thousand square miles) would furnish standing room for more than twice the number of people who have ever lived on the earth, even at our exaggerated estimate.r1668 VOL. XV. JULY 1, 1894. NO. 13.
r1670 "WITH A PURE HEART FERVENTLY."
r1670 THE CONCISION AND THE CIRCUMCISION.
r1673 "WHAT SHALL I RENDER?"
r1671 "IN THE DAYS OF THY YOUTH."
r1672 PLEASING IN HIS SIGHT.
III. QUAR., LESSON II., JULY 1, LUKE 2:1-16.
Golden Text—"Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."—Luke 2:11.
That our Lord Jesus existed prior to his incarnation, and in a more exalted nature and condition, is clearly stated in the Scriptures. See John 17:5; 2 Cor. 8:9; John 1:1-3,10; Eph. 3:9; Col. 1:15-17; Heb. 1:2; Rev. 4:11. See also WATCH TOWER of August 1888 and April 15, 1893.
This change of nature was a miracle, the philosophy of which, like that of all miracles, transcends the limits of human thought; and, like all other miracles, it was performed to meet an emergency for which no natural law could otherwise provide. The philosophy of the divine plan of redemption which required it is, however, very manifest to the thoughtful mind guided by the Scripture statements. The Son of God was made [R1673 : page 222] flesh that he might give his flesh—his humanity—for the life of the world; that as by a man (Adam) came death, so by a man ("the man Christ Jesus") might come the resurrection of the dead. (John 1:14; 6:51; 1 Cor. 15:21.) In other words, he was transformed from the spiritual to the human nature, so that in giving his life for the world's redemption he might give the exact equivalent or corresponding price for that which was lost.
For the sake of brevity we must of necessity pass by many points of interest connected with this narrative of our Lord's birth, e.g., the prophecies of his coming (Gen. 3:15; 22:18; 49:10; 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Isa. 9:6,7; 11:1-9; Dan. 9:24, etc.); the announcement of his coming (Luke 1); the date of his birth (See M. DAWN VOL. II., page 54); his human lineage as a Son of David and of Abraham, and his divine origin as the only begotten Son of God; and, lastly, the condition of the world at his advent. But these the student can with profit look up for himself. On the last point, however, we would have none fail to observe the evidences of the Lord's preparatory overruling providence in so shaping the world's affairs as to accomplish the purposes of his plan at that time. (1) The world was then for a time at peace, and quiet, the Roman dominion having brought all the world under its powerful control; and as all men were in expectation of Messiah's advent (Luke 3:15) according to the Jewish prophets whose fame had gone out into all the world, the sudden announcement [R1674 : page 222] of his birth attracted wide attention, as it would not have done in less peaceful times. (2) The Greek language, noted by all scholars as the most nearly perfect, exact and precise medium for human speech, had at that time been fully developed and widely disseminated. Thus was prepared in due time the very best medium for the communication of the gospel of the new covenant.
(3) The Old Testament had been translated into the Greek language three centuries before Christ (This version is called the Septuagint); and the Jews had been dispersed among all peoples, carrying the O.T. with them and bearing witness to its prophecies of a coming Messiah. (4) It was a time, too, of increased intellectual activity, which was ready to operate on this and every other question of public interest. Thus the circumstances of the time were peculiarly adapted to the announcement of this wonderful event,—the advent of the world's Redeemer. The fulness of time had come, and, under the overruling providence of God, the conditions were ripe.
It is worthy of notice that the announcement of the Savior's birth was not made to an assembled world, in whose most vital interest he had come; nor even to assembled Israel, the chosen people of God; nor yet to all of those who, like Simeon and Anna, with devout hearts had long been looking for the hope of Israel. But it was made to only a few devout shepherds who were watching their flocks by night. The grand truth was one to be received by faith; and it was sent through humble, but trustworthy, human agents, who were the honored instruments in God's hands. And any who proudly despised the instruments were unworthy of the good tidings.
The announcement was one which modern "orthodoxy" could not justify; for it was the very reverse of its bad tidings of great misery to nearly all people. The Angels' message was, "good tidings of GREAT JOY TO ALL PEOPLE; for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
The tidings are of redemption and restitution and everlasting life for all who will accept this blessing on the terms on which it is offered;—viz., faith in Christ as the Redeemer, and full repentance from sin, which of necessity implies the forsaking of sin and the cultivation of righteousness. Christ was born to be a Savior by subsequently giving his life a ransom for all. These good tidings—this miracle of divine goodness and mercy to fallen and doomed men—met a marvelously cold and indifferent reception. The world in general, though apprised of the fact and its import, manifested no faith nor interest in it, while it is written that he came unto his own people (the Jews), and they received him not. But the jubilant heavenly hosts, who were capable of appreciating what fallen men could not appreciate, and will not until their blind eyes are opened and their deaf ears unstopped, broke out in a rapturous strain of heavenly melody, saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."*
*This expression—"good will toward men"—as rendered by a majority of translators is confirmed by the latest found manuscript, the Lewis manuscript of the Gospels, discovered in 1892 in the convent at Mt. Sinai.
III. QUAR., LESSON II., JULY 8, LUKE 2:25-38.
Golden Text—"A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."—Luke 2:32.
VERSES 25-31. Simeon was one of the kind of characters to whom God reveals his truth—a just and devout man, waiting in faith for the consolation of Israel. "Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart." And the holy spirit was upon him, so that, being thus inspired, he prophesied concerning the infant Jesus.
VERSE 32. Under divine inspiration, therefore, Simeon declared this child to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Israel. John also pointed to him as the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:9.) And Paul adds, "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved [from their blindness and deafness], and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:4.) As the vast majority of mankind have never been thus enlightened, and thousands more have been only partially so, it follows logically that the full enlightenment of the world tarries until the Millennial reign of Christ shall call forth all that are in their graves—when "the Sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings." Then he will enlighten the whole world, and believing Israel will glory in him.
Simeon's further prophecy of verse 34 is partially fulfilled. The world has witnessed the fall of Israel from divine favor, and their sad condition as outcasts for nearly two thousand years, because of their rejection of Christ. And now the time for their rising again has come (beginning A.D. 1878): and they will be raised up nationally to all the favor from which they fell nationally. Today we are witnesses of the regathering of Israel, preparatory to the turning away of their blindness and their coming again into divine favor and blessing.
VERSE 35 had reference to Christ's tragic death, and the test of faith thereby instituted, both in that day, and even to the end of the age, thus (by the test) revealing the thoughts of many hearts,—proving which are loyal and faithful to God as true soldiers of the cross, and which are not. It is not probable, however, that Simeon, who spoke thus under divine inspiration, understood fully the import of his words.
VERSES 36-38. Anna, a prophetess, another devout, faithful soul, recognized and pointed out the infant Redeemer. It will be observed that she was of the tribe of Aser—another evidence of what we have frequently called attention to in connection with the Anglo-Israel question, that the entire house of Israel (twelve tribes) was represented at Jerusalem in our Lord's day, and not the tribes of Judah and Benjamin only. See TOWER, Dec. '91.
III. QUAR., LESSON III., JULY 15, MATT. 2:1-12.
Golden Text—"They saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him."—Matt. 2:11.
VERSES 1,2. That even the Gentile world was in expectation of the coming Messiah (Luke 3:15) is manifest from this visit of the wise men (Greek Magi, sages) from the east—possibly from Persia. The term originally belonged to a class of priests among the Medes and Persians who constituted the king's privy council and who cultivated astrology, medicine and occult and natural science. Ancient authors make frequent reference to them. Later the term was applied to all eastern philosophers.
In the far east, the Chinese and Japanese and other nations have cherished a very ancient tradition that God would descend to the earth in visible form, to enlighten men and to redeem them from their sins. Tacitus, Suetonius and Josephus all testify that there prevailed throughout the entire East at this time an intense conviction, derived from ancient prophecies, that ere long a powerful monarch would arise in Judea and gain dominion over the world. Virgil, who lived a little before this, tells that a child from heaven was looked for who should restore the golden age and take away sin. Confucius, in China, about B.C. 500, prophesied the appearance of such a deliverer, and a deputation of his followers going forth in search of him was the means of introducing Buddhism into China. Zoroaster [R1674 : page 224] taught the Persians that a pure virgin would bring forth a child, and that as soon as the child would be born a star would appear, which he added, "follow wheresoever it leads you, and adore the mysterious child, offering your gifts to him with the profoundest humility. He is the Almighty Word, which created the heavens."
These expectations doubtless arose from the intermingling of the Jews with foreign nations. The Prophet Daniel was himself associated with some of their wise men. (Dan. 2:48.) His prophecies were made known to them, and the calculations by which he pointed to the time of Messiah's advent. These in course of time were woven into their literature. Nearly all of the ancient religions are confessions of human need: and in their blind gropings in the dark, they reveal the depths of man's degradation and misery.
The miraculous star in the east, for which some of the Gentile wise men had been taught by a mere vague, groping superstition to look, finally made its appearance, and guided those blind feelers after God to [R1675 : page 224] the wonderful light of the world. Thus kindly God condescends to human ignorance and weakness. "A bruised reed will he not break, and smoking flax will he not quench." All men will in due time have full, clear testimony to establish their faith in the Holy One of Israel and all who love righteousness will gladly accept him. Those who now can walk by faith have all the evidences which hopeful, loving faith requires. But none the less shall all the doubting Thomases and all the now blinded world in due time have the more tangible evidences in store for them. But more blessed are those who can now walk by faith.—John 20:29.
The inquiry of the wise men (verse 2) betokened a proper condition of heart—(1) It showed that they had respect and reverence, and that they desired to render homage to the mighty God of Israel, and to his messenger to men. (2) It showed faith in the divinely inspired prophecies which had been irregularly interwoven with their own vague ideas and traditions. (3) It showed their zeal as truth-seekers, and their humility of heart in leaving their own philosophies, etc., and coming to inquire of the God of another nation. They seemed to desire truth on the great subjects of God and of human destiny, regardless of all other considerations. And they accordingly declared their disposition to render the homage due to the appointed ambassador of Israel's God, when they should find him.
Jesus was born to be a king as well as a savior. The latter term includes the former; for the great salvation is secured by both his humiliation (even unto death) and his exaltation (as a king and deliverer). By his vicarious sacrifice our salvation was made legally possible; and by his glorious reign it will become an accomplished fact.
VERSES 3-6 show the faith—though it was an irreverent and selfishly jealous faith—of Herod and his official staff in the God of Israel and in the words of his inspired prophets; and also the thorough acquaintance of the Jews with the prophecies. Without hesitation they pointed to the predictions of time and place and repeated Christ's foretold mission. Indirectly, we have here strong evidence of the esteem which the Hebrew Scriptures everywhere commanded. Herod's selfish faith, which sought the infant king that he might kill him, was in strong contrast with the reverent and devotional faith of the wise men. Fearing the overthrow of his own power, he was moved with envy toward the infant rival who was already attracting the world's attention. But, as usual, the wrath and duplicity of an evil man was overruled for good; for the king gave to the wise men the directions from the Jewish prophets—to go to Bethlehem,—an additional assurance to that of the star that they were being rightly guided, and that too by the God of Israel.
VERSES 7,8,12 show the duplicity of Herod's wicked heart, which the wise men could not discern, but which God knew and guarded them against by a warning dream. The devout wise men obeyed the warning and, disregarding the kings command, departed into their own country another way, bearing the good tidings with them.
VERSES 9-11. Leaving the king's presence, they observed that the star also led in the direction of Bethlehem, and, standing over where the young child was, the miraculous luminary had accomplished its mission: the infant Redeemer and King was found and reverently worshipped and presented with the choicest and most costly gifts.
N.B.—Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
Seventeen years ago people said, concerning the time features presented in MILLENNIAL DAWN, They seem reasonable in many respects, but surely no such radical changes could occur between now and the close of 1914: if you had proved that they would come about in a century or two, it would seem much more probable.
Now, in view of recent labor troubles and threatened anarchy, our readers are writing to know if there may not be a mistake in the 1914 date. They say that they do not see how present conditions can hold out so long under the strain.
We see no reason for changing the figures—nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble. We see no reason for changing from our opinion expressed in the View presented in the WATCH TOWER of Jan. 15, '92. We advise that it be read again.
We published one hundred and fifteen thousand copies of this tract, and have sent samples to all our TOWER readers. It seems to give general satisfaction, and orders from all quarters are large. We advise the circulation of this tract by all of you—on street cars, steam cars, at hotels and depots, and Sundays on the street-corners,—until everyone within your reach has been supplied. Order all that you will agree to use. Never mind the money. Many have opportunity for distributing sample copies of Old Theology Tracts who have no money to spare to pay for their printing, etc., but others, again, who have less opportunity for distributing tracts, take delight in meeting the publishing expenses, and thus help to preach the "good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people."
The first edition, although large, is already exhausted; but we have another edition of over two hundred thousand under way which will be ready in about ten days. Send in your order and have a share in this feature of the harvest work. There should be a million copies of this tract in circulation within a year.r1675 VOL. XV. JULY 15, 1894. NO. 14.
r1677 "ANGELS WHICH KEPT NOT THEIR FIRST ESTATE."
III. QUAR., LESSON IV., JULY 22, MATT. 2:13-23.
Golden Text—"The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in."—Psa. 121:8.
There are five points in this lesson worthy of special notice; viz., (1) The foresight and providence of God. His fore-knowledge is past our comprehension: the finite cannot fathom the depths of the infinite mind. But it is our privilege to know the comforting fact that Jehovah's knowledge and wisdom are superior to all the exigencies of his universal empire; and that the wrath of man and of all the combined powers of darkness cannot in the slightest degree frustrate the divine plan. The same power that was able to transform the spiritual Son of God to the human nature was able also to protect him against all opposers, from helpless infancy up to the appointed time of his sacrifice for the world's redemption.
(2) We note again the ministry of angels—"Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb. 1:14.) Yes; and gladly are they ready for any service.—1 Pet. 1:12.
(3) The faith and prompt obedience of Joseph and Mary to the warning and counsel of the angel of the Lord is notable. They did not hesitate nor question, but immediately acted upon the command of the Lord; and his blessing and protection went with them, both in departing for Egypt and in returning to Palestine. In seeking to avoid the power of the new king Archelaus (Herod's son and successor, who even surpassed his father in oppression, cruelty, egotism and sensuality) and going to Nazareth instead of to Bethlehem which was near to Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary did not disregard the Lord's directions which were to go into the land of Israel—in any part of which they might settle.
(4) In the circumstances here recorded we see the fulfilment of several prophecies—viz., (a) "Out of Egypt have I called my Son." This, like many other prophecies, was one of double significance, applying originally to the exodus of Israel from the bondage of Egypt (Hos. 11:1; Exod. 4:22,23), and subsequently to the return of the infant Son of God from Egypt after Herod was dead. (Matt. 2:15.) And on a still larger scale Egypt represents the world, and Christ and the entire Church of God are the called-out promised seed. (b) The circumstances which led to the settlement in Nazareth thereby led to the fulfilment of the prophecy of Matt. 2:23, "He shall be called a Nazarene." (c) The slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem was also prophetically mentioned. See Jer. 31:15; Matt. 2:17,18. It should be remembered, however, that in these cases the events were not made to fit the prophecies; but the prophecies were made to foretell the events, and become indications of the foreknowledge of God.
(5) It is also worthy of notice that in protecting the infant Redeemer God's course did not interfere with the existing order of things. Although all power was in his hand, he did not strike Herod dead, nor overturn nor interfere with his authority and power. The time for such radical measures had not yet come. The lease of power had been granted to the kingdoms of this world [R1682 : page 239] until the "Times of the Gentiles" should be fulfilled; i.e., until A.D. 1915. Consequently, they must (according to his plan) be permitted to take their own course for good or for evil, except in so far as their actions would interfere with the divine plan. And in such cases God always either overrules or prevents them.
In the case here mentioned God interfered only so far as to protect his Son in whom the plan of salvation centered. But when the appointed time came for the sacrifice of that Son for the redemption of the world, then the rulers of darkness of this world had their way. They were then permitted to crucify the Son of God, because for this purpose came he into the world—to give his life a ransom for many; and because his hour was come.—Matt. 20:28; John 2:4; 7:6; Luke 22:53.
The weeping and lamentation for the slaughtered infants who did not escape the wrath of the king, was but another note of the long wail of distress of the groaning creation, of which the Lord has not been unmindful, but which his far-sighted wisdom permits for wise and benevolent ends, until "the times of restitution of all things."
The promise of the Golden Text has special reference to the spiritual life of the Lord's consecrated people—spiritual Israel. As new creatures they are always safe in God's keeping, while they abide in Christ.
III. QUAR., LESSON V., JULY 29, LUKE 2:40-52.
Golden Text—"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."—Luke 2:52.
In this incident of the early life of Jesus we catch a glimpse of the rapid development of perfect humanity. "The [perfect] child grew and waxed strong* [physically and intellectually], filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him." His humble birth gave him none of the advantages of education or social culture, yet even at the age of twelve years all that heard him in conversation with the matured and learned doctors of the law in the temple were astonished at his understanding and answers. (Verse 47.) And later, when he taught in the synagogues, the astonished people said, "Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother Mary? and his brethren...and his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?" (Matt. 13:54-56.) "And all...wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out his mouth." (Luke 4:22.) "And the Jews marvelled saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" (John 7:15.) And others said, "Never man spake like this man."—John 7:46.
At the tender age of twelve he was intellectually more than a match for the mature and learned doctors; and he did not assume to be a teacher, but with becoming modesty he heard and asked questions—questions, however, so keen and penetrating as to indicate a very superior comprehension of the law and the prophets. As a perfect human being his mind was active and strong, his reasoning powers were astute, his perceptives awake to every educating influence with which he came in contact, his moral perceptions always discarding every thing that was evil, and his memory treasuring up all that was worthy of a place in his mind. Thus he grew and waxed strong and was filled with wisdom.
Joseph and Mary were, of course, unable to measure the breadth and capacity of such a mind, or to realize that at such an early age their child was developed so far beyond his years. But, having some appreciation of it, they did not give themselves special concern as to his whereabouts all the time of their stay in Jerusalem. They even started home and had gone a day's journey supposing that he was with friends in the company. Finding their mistake, they spent another day returning, and a third in searching for him, and finally found him in the temple earnestly studying the law and the prophets in the midst of the learned doctors.
To their solicitous inquiry as to why he had thus dealt with them, his somewhat surprised answer was, "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" He evidently thought they understood him better than they did. But "they understood not the saying which he spake unto them." (Verses 48-50.) They probably had never told him of his wonderful origin, and that Joseph was only his reputed father. How then could he know? thought they. The fact was that the mystery of his incarnation was incomprehensible to them. They did not know of the previous spiritual existence of this wonderful Son of God that he was now made flesh. They only knew him as the promised Seed of Abraham. But he knew; for as he grew and developed on the human plane of existence, memory carried him back to the glory that he had with the Father before the world was (John 17:5), so that he knew who he was and whence he came (John 8:58,14), and that he came to accomplish his Father's business. He seemed somewhat surprised that Joseph and Mary did not more fully comprehend him; but since they did not, he meekly conformed to their ideas and was subject to them until he reached the years generally recognized as the years of maturity or manhood.
"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man." (Verse 52.) Though the wisdom of twelve years surpassed that of the sages among men, neither his mind nor his body had yet reached full development. And not until he was a fully developed man was he suitable to the purpose for which he had been called. Not until he attained the age of thirty was he the full grown man ready for sacrifice.—1 Chron. 23:3; Num. 4:3; Heb. 10:5-9.