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.
Anticipating that extra copies of this double number may be desired by our readers for friends, we have published a larger quantity than usual, and will supply our readers such extra copies at half price,—five cents per copy. If desired we will post them for you, direct to your friends.
In our last issue we announced that the Lord's Memorial Supper, commemorative of his death, will be celebrated on its anniversary this year, as usual, by the Church at Allegheny, in Bible House chapel, Arch street, on Thursday evening, March 30th, at 7:30 P.M. To this all who believe in the merit of our Lord's sacrifice for our sins, finished, once for all, at Calvary, and who are consecrated to the Lord in thought, word and deed, will be made cordially welcome.
Our application to the Railroads for excursion rates has from year to year past met with increasing objections and limitations which become burdensome. This year we are asked to pay the expenses of a railroad agent—eleven dollars for the first day and six dollars each for succeeding days, to see to the numbers in attendance, and to endorse all the returning, reduced-rate tickets. And then, if the proper certificates number less than one hundred, no reduction of rates would be allowed. The attendance from abroad is usually more than this, but many purchase other tickets than those specified—mileage, etc.
Concluding that excursion rates from all parts to Chicago will be very cheap during the Summer (especially in August and September), and that a larger number would be served by having a general meeting there and then, than here, this year, we accordingly wrote the Railroad people declining their restricted offer of excursion rates to Allegheny this Spring.
We trust that our decision will commend itself to all of our readers. Arrangements for the Chicago Convention will be effected for some date probably not far from September 1st, and will be such as will enable attendants to spend a few days in Bible Study, with profitable intermissions in which to learn some valuable lessons, by noting some of the wonderful inventions of this wonderful era which the Lord speaks of as "the day of his preparation"—preparing for the blessing of the world under the Millennial reign of righteousness and love.
One or two Sisters who have children dependent upon them for support write that they could probably provide better for them if they were in the Colporteur work than they can now do—besides having the privilege of using their time and strength in the blessed service of carrying spiritual food to the Lord's starving people.
The question therefore arises: Are there others of the consecrated so situated that they cannot engage in the more public work, but who could have a share in it by caring for such children? The mothers in question could not afford to pay large sums for boarding, etc., but could pay something.
If it occurs to any of the mothers "of this way" that they would like to offer such a home, let such, before offering, consider carefully whether the conditions of her home are suitable; whether the influence of other members of the family would be favorable; whether she would care not only for the physical but also for the moral health of those entrusted. Then let any who believe that they see their way clear to thus offer their services correspond with us.r1498 VOL. XIV. FEBRUARY 1 & 15, 1893.—DOUBLE NUMBER. NOS. 3 & 4.
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR
READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES WHERE THESE
LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO
LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
PUBLISHED IN ADVANCE, AT THE REQUEST OF FOREIGN READERS.
I. QUAR., LESSON VIII., FEB. 19th, NEH. 4:9-23.
Golden Text—"We made our prayer unto God, and set a watch against them."—Neh. 4:9.
In our last lesson we saw the earnestness of Nehemiah, and noted his appeal to the right quarter for guidance and help. His appeal to Artaxerxes was blessed of the Lord—his prayer was answered. He was granted permission to go to Jerusalem, and become its Governor, with authority to act in the name of the Persian monarch. Upon his arrival at Jerusalem his first work was to reconnoiter the walls of the city and lay out a plan for rebuilding them. He had awakened the zeal of all the people, and the work of rebuilding the wall was well advanced at the point where this lesson begins. The jealousy of the neighboring rulers was awakened by this activity, and they had come against Jerusalem to attack it and spoil and stop the work of repairs, fearing that, after all, it might succeed. This compelled Nehemiah and those who co-operated with him to divide their attention between building and defending. Their opponents were strengthened by "false brethren," Jews from the surrounding country whose interest and sympathies were with these other peoples, who sought all they could to discourage the workers and to stop the work. But watching and praying and working they succeeded.
This lesson seems to enforce and exemplify the Apostle's description of a true Christian course—"Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord." It would be valuable to many of God's people to-day, if it led them to resolve that they, like Nehemiah, would henceforth do with their might what their hands find to do.
The building of the wall, the opposition of enemies and relatives and so-called friends, and the necessity for fighting as well as building, furnish a good illustration of the experience of all who turn from sin to righteousness. They find the gates and fortresses of their nature weak and broken down. And the moment they start to repair and build up good character they find enemies within and without to hinder. Persecution and ridicule will first be used (as in the above case) and if these fail to overthrow the good resolutions force will be employed. There is no way of avoiding a battle if you would proceed with your character-building. Each must at least do as did this band—i.e., put on the armor and watch and pray and build.
I. QUAR., LESSON IX., FEB. 26th, NEH. 8:1-12.
Golden Text—"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Law."—Psa. 119:18.
By the Law here mentioned, the writings of Moses are meant. The Law Covenant was made with Israelites at Sinai, and the basis of it was in the Ten Commandments engraved upon the two tables of stone, which were handed down to them. As heretofore shown, that was not the fullest possible statement of the divine will, but a provisional arrangement, adapted as much as possible to Israel's degraded condition. It was a statement to the house of servants in terms which they could best appreciate. But when the time came to express the divine law to the house of sons, "his own house," our Lord expressed the matter not only more concisely but more exactly, in the perfect law of love.
As the Israelites returned from Babylon were blessed by the reading and understanding of "Moses' Law," much more those who are now returning to the Lord, out of bondage to "Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots" (Rev. 17:1-6), are being greatly blessed by a fuller appreciation of the divine law, Love, granted to the house of sons. They are learning that God's Law is of the essence of his own nature, and that his dealings with his creatures are on the lines of that law; for God is love, and love worketh no ill to his neighbor. And, searching the entire Word of God, which in a larger sense is God's Law, his faithful followers learn that God's plans as therein stated are all plans of love and justice—love to those who love righteousness, and a just recompense of everlasting destruction in the second death for all others,—and a full provision for all to come to this second trial for life, through Christ, our Lord, who redeemed all from the condemnation of Adam, the result of the first trial.—1 Cor. 15:21,22.
I. QUAR., LESSON X., MAR. 5th, NEH. 13:15-22.
Golden Text—"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."—Exod. 20:8.
While from this scrap of history we learn of the worthy zeal of Nehemiah for the observance of the Sabbath day by Israel, in accordance with the law of Moses—the provisional statement of the law of God—it is necessary to remember that we are living in a different dispensation. The Jewish or Law Covenant having passed away (Col. 2:14), we are now living under the provisions of the "New Covenant"—a covenant of life, not through the keeping of the Mosaic law, but through faith in Christ, whose righteousness is imputed to us by faith.—Rom. 3:20-26.
This "New Covenant," unlike the Law Covenant, does not stipulate that in order to prove ourselves worthy of everlasting life we shall not kill, nor steal, nor bear false witness, nor that we must keep the seventh day as a Sabbath or day of rest from labor, etc., etc. But it does stipulate that, while we humbly trust in the provisions of the New Covenant for our justification through the precious blood of Christ, we must follow after "the law of the spirit of life"—the law of Love—supreme love to God, and love to the neighbor as to self. (John 15:12-14; 1 John 3:23,24; Rom. 8:2; Jas. 2:8; Gal. 6:2; 5:14; Heb. 8:10; 10:16; Jas. 1:25.) According to this New Covenant, all who, accepting of the redemption provided through Christ, have a disposition or spirit in harmony with God's perfect law of love are reckoned of God to be worthy of life, regardless of the inability of their fallen, imperfect human nature to fully express that spirit or disposition. This New Covenant, with these gracious and merciful provisions for the weaknesses of our flesh, and this benevolent discernment of the willingness of our spirits to conform fully to the perfect will or law of God, is secured and made possible by the fact that Christ died for us, to liberate us from the curse of the law, Jews being set free from the condemnation resulting from failure to obey the law given by Moses, others being released by the same sacrifice from the condemnation inherited through Adam, the penalty of the original sin against God's law or command in Eden. And our Lord's resurrection became our assurance of the acceptableness of his sacrifice, and that in due time he will be the Deliverer of all that obey him, from the bondage of sin as well as from death, its penalty.
The law of love is not given to all the world now, but merely to those who enter [R1499 : page 63] the bonds and cover of the New Covenant: just as the Mosaic Law Covenant was not upon all the world, but merely upon those who came under that Covenant—Israel after the flesh. Strictly speaking, the world is under no law except that of their own consciences—even though the light of conscience be greater in some and less in others. Since [R1499 : page 64] the world failed (representatively—in Adam's failure to obey the supreme law of Love to God, which implied obedience) it has been "without God and without hope" (Eph. 2:12), and without any law except what remained of the originally perfect law of nature,—conscience.
While the New Covenant, which went into force after being sealed with the precious blood of Christ, was declared to be for ALL, it really applies only to those who have come under it, by knowledge of, faith in, and obedience to it and its Mediator,—Christ Jesus, our Lord. Such alone are under the Law of the New Covenant—Love. And to all such it is as useless to impose the Sabbath of the Law of Moses as to warn them not to blaspheme God's name, nor to worship other gods, nor to kill, steal, bear false-witness, etc. If they are under the New Covenant nothing so gross will apply to them: the only law which will reach their case will be the finer requirements of the Law of Love; and no Sabbath of mere cessation from labor will be real rest to them, but rather the rest of faith in Christ's finished work of redemption and coming work of rescue. Such, under the terms of the New Covenant, may do any work of service for God or men on any day of the week; and such would be prohibited from any violation of its law of Love on any day. The only laws governing those under the New Covenant, on the question of abstinence from good works on any day, would be the civil laws of the world. And these laws are peculiarly favorable to any good works of necessity or mercy or worship. In any case we are to "be subject to the powers that be" in all matters which do not conflict with the law of the New Covenant—Love.
The Law of Love is the real law of God. (Rom. 13:10.) It was this law or principle that was originally written in the perfect nature of the first perfect man, when he was created in God's likeness and image. The Mosaic Law Covenant, with all its forms and ceremonies—its typical sacrifices, its feasts and its new moons and sabbath days—has passed away: no one is longer under its dominion. Therefore, says the Apostle Paul, "Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come."—Col. 2:16,17.
Thus we are taught to consider the Jewish Sabbath as typical of some higher blessing, realized during the Gospel dispensation; and the next question is, What did it foreshadow? The term "Sabbath" signifies rest, and the fourth commandment in the Law given by Moses was that this day of rest shall be kept holy unto the Lord. And as such it beautifully prefigured the worshipful rest of faith, and freedom from the bondage of Satan and sin, into which all believers come, on entering the New Covenant.
This antitype is not a rest of one day out of seven, but a continual rest, to be enjoyed every day; and the fact of the observance of this rest among the Jews on the seventh day, after the six days of labor, is further typical of the fact that the fulness of the antitype will not be realized until the six thousand-year-days of evil and toil under the curse of sin are ended and the seventh or Millennial day has begun.
When the early Church began to realize its freedom from the Law Covenant, gradually the seventh-day Sabbath ceased to be observed, and the first day of the week began to be observed; not as a Sabbath or special rest day, but as a day of worship and praise, commemorative of our Lord's resurrection and of the new and blessed hopes inspired by it. It was not regarded by them as taking the place of the Jewish Sabbath, and was never observed with that scrupulous exactness which was required for the Seventh day under the Jewish dispensation.
The restoration of the proper observance of the Jewish Sabbath and the various other reforms instituted by Nehemiah and Ezra indicated a commendable zeal for that Law Covenant then in force which the Lord surely appreciated. And while it is not our part to similarly seek to bind the obligations and penalties of the Jewish law upon those whom God hath made free from the law, we may have a similar zeal for God in those things which he does require of us now, under the New Covenant. With a similar zeal we should seek to cultivate and manifest in ourselves and others that which our Lord defined as the spirit of the divine law—Love. This law of love is of universal and eternal application, and its blessed outcome of harmony, peace, happiness and joy will fully repay the protracted effort of obedience.