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HARVEST WORK BEFORE THE STORM.
As the Lord is pleased to use the members of his body who are yet in the flesh to be his "reapers" and "messengers," it would seem that each one should be inspired with zeal, tempered with wisdom, to see that his part in this great work is faithfully done. All who are awake are beginning to recognize the harvest time--the "end of the age"--and to rejoice in the privilege of harvest work now under way. But all such have heard also "a consumption, even determined in the midst of the whole land." (Isa. 28:22.) Louder peals the thunder and darker grow the clouds. A great storm is near at hand. Though one may not know exactly when it will break forth, it seems reasonable to suppose that it cannot be more than twelve or fourteen years yet future. As the harvesters in the natural field often find it necessary to withdraw, as the clouds get very dark and the winds blow, so the reapers in this harvest may by and by be compelled to cease their active service.
Some may be inclined to think that the harvest work is largely done; but probably the larger portion of this work is to be done in the coming six or eight years. "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers into his vineyard," and seek earnestly to be among them. True, a great work is being done. The books, the papers and the tracts sent out from the WATCH TOWER office are doing their part; but they need "living epistles" everywhere to introduce them to the people. Quite a number of colporteurs are now in the field, and others of the "wise" are working in various ways; but still as the fields ripen more laborers are needed.
Another thought: Every practical tiller of the soil knows that just before a storm is an excellent time to sow certain kinds of seed, such as clover and timothy, which the storm will serve to wash down into the soil. Likewise, the precious seeds of truth, which may now be sown "broadcast" over the land, will, no doubt, by the storm that is coming, be settled down into the hearts of many; and after the storm is over will yield an abundant crop.
Those experienced in the various ways of spreading the Truth will agree that the house to house canvass with MILLENNIAL DAWN is, in the present time, by far the most effective way of preaching the Truth. There are several reasons for this conclusion: (1) Babylon has preached the world "to death" with false doctrine. (2) Some of the people do not want to go outside of the churches, for fear they might hear more of the same kind of doctrine they are used to hearing inside. (3) Some do not know much about the truth, and are afraid. And some of the sincere and honest are inclined to think (rightfully) that there is not much Gospel preached by public speaking now-a-days. (4) Earnest truth-seekers are nearly always earnest readers, and though they may not have much confidence in ordinary books, they will keep on reading, hoping to find the Truth (God's plan) which will "satisfy their longings as nothing else can do." (5) A good colporteur can put into the hands of the people from five to six thousand volumes of DAWN in a year; and they will keep on preaching after he has gone to other fields. One with even a little talent for the work ought to dispose of three thousand volumes a year.
In view of all these things may we not reasonably hope that inside of three years there will be at least ten times as many of the brethren and sisters out as actual colporteurs as there now are? Then let every one that is fully consecrated to the Lord see what he can do. Some can go themselves, and some can help others to go. But let all who can, by any reasonable sacrifice, seek to enter this harvest work.
What if we do encounter some hardships! However, let no one think that it is a continual burden to be out in this work. The Master said, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light: and this is true in whatever capacity we serve him.
Dear brethren and sisters, let us all remember the words of the wise: "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good." (Eccl. 11:6.) Thus we may each have the blessed assurance that we have done what we could to advance the interests of our Redeemer's Kingdom. S. D. ROGERS.
====================r1546 VOL. XIV. JULY 1 & 15, 1893--DOUBLE NUMBER. NO. 13 & 14.
STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
--INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS.--
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.
[R1556 : page 218]
PAUL AT PHILIPPI.
III. QUAR., LESSON II., JULY 9, ACTS 16:19-34.
Golden Text--"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."--Acts 16:31.
The house of Lydia became the center of Christian work in the city of Philippi; and here, under the instruction of the Apostle Paul, a company of believers gathered, of whom he subsequently speaks in terms of strong commendation for their faithfulness and zeal. Paul and his companions had not been long in Philippi before the Lord gave a very marked manifestation of his power, working through them in casting out an evil spirit from one whose affliction was a source of gain to her owners.
But the testimony thus borne brought upon the devoted heads of the Lord's messengers a storm of persecution. They were hurried to the market place, falsely accused before the magistrates and, apparently without even an opportunity to assert their innocence or to appeal for their rights as Roman citizens, they were quickly sentenced and immediately punished with stripes and imprisonment; and their ultimate fate was yet to be learned.--Verses 19-24.
VERSE 25. In a prison dungeon, with lacerated flesh, and feet made fast in the stocks, these brethren found cause for rejoicing. They rejoiced in that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ, and so spent the night in praise and prayer to God. And do not forget that it is in view of such trials that the Apostle's exhortation should be read--"Rejoice in the Lord always, and in every thing give thanks."
VERSE 26. It is not always that God interferes to liberate his persecuted saints: there is a glorious end in view in permitting them to endure hardness as good soldiers. Our Lord was not spared the agonies of the cross; Stephen was not spared the stoning that crushed out his life; other martyrs were not spared the fire and fagot, the guillotine and the rack; and the apostles were not spared the torture of the rod, the stocks and dungeon miseries. But, says the great Apostle, who bore a large share of these sufferings, "They are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." When that glory shall appear the present privilege of enduring hardness as good soldiers will be manifest, though the opportunity for so doing will then be past. By faith only can the privilege now be duly appreciated.
But God had yet a further use for Paul and Silas, and therefore, though from a human standpoint their release seemed hopeless, it was quickly and wonderfully accomplished when God saw fit to manifest his power. Just so it will be when God's time has fully come for breaking down all the barriers which men have set up against the establishment of his kingdom. What are thrones and empires and armies to withstand his might? Surely they are as nothing.
VERSES 27,28. There was no vindictiveness in these abused servants: they were ready immediately to bless their persecutors.
VERSE 29. This manifestation of the spirit of forgiving love was the best sermon they could have preached to the jailer; and it quickly brought forth its fruit in his repentance and conversion.
VERSES 30-34. His conduct indicated
genuine repentance. He sought to reward
them for their generosity in saving his life;
and then inquired what he must do to be
saved. Saved from what? from any penalty
of the Roman law? No: his prisoners
had not escaped: they were all there. He
meant, What should he do to be saved with
the great salvation which Paul and Silas
preached. Then Paul preached the great
salvation through faith in Christ, both to
the jailor and to all that were in the house,
showing that it is free to all who accept
[R1557 : page 218]
it, not only to the jailor but to all the rest of
them on the terms of simple, obedient faith.
It is not at all strange that the preaching
under such circumstances brought forth fruit
in the conversion of all that heard.
[R1557 : page 218]
PAUL AT ATHENS.
III. QUAR., LESSON III., JULY 16, ACTS 17:22-31.
Golden Text--"God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."--John 4:24.
Having been by divine providence delivered and honorably discharged from the [R1557 : page 219] prison at Philippi, the zealous and undaunted Apostle to the Gentiles was again about his Master's business; and the interim between the account of our last lesson and that of this lesson shows him (1) giving his parting counsel and encouragement to the Philippian Church at the house of Lydia; (2) thence departing for Thessalonica, where he again boldly declared the truth and made many converts, and again brought upon himself the wrath of many enemies; (3) and when persecuted in that city and no longer permitted to preach Christ, we find him escaping by night to Berea, where similar success and similar persecution awaited him. His work there accomplished, we next find him in Athens, whither he had fled alone without his companions, Silas and Timothy, who were to follow him.
While here awaiting the arrival of the brethren, he first quietly took observation of the religious conditions of this great city, far famed for its literary and artistic genius --the city where Homer sung, where Socrates, Plato and Aristotle philosophised, where Solon promulgated his famous code of laws, and where Demosthenes held his audiences spell-bound with his eloquence. But Paul was stirred with holy zeal when, notwithstanding its marvelous crop of wise men and philosophers and all its learning and accomplishments, he beheld this famous city wholly given over to idolatry.-- Verse 16.
With characteristic zeal he began at once to present the profounder philosophy of divine truth, both in the synagogues of the Jews, and daily to the multitudes in the market-places. This new philosophy soon attracted the inquiring minds of many of the two most distinguished schools of Greek philosophy--the Stoics and the Epicureans. As they listened to the eloquent logic of the Apostle in the market-places they said among themselves, This is no place for such profound discourse; and they led the Christian orator to the Areopagus, or Mars' Hill, where the supreme court of Athens convened and where Demosthenes and other eloquent orators had spoken. From this notable place many of the learned and wise, in the wisdom of this world, heard for the first time the heavenly wisdom, the new divine philosophy which far outshines the wisdom of the world.
VERSES 22,23. The courteous address of the Apostle to the cultured audience before him is made to appear rather rude by our common translation--a rudeness quite incompatible, too, with the Apostle's own culture and refinement, and with his tact in presenting truth. The Revised Version is an improvement, and shows the Apostle to have been complimentary rather than rude: "Ye men of Athens [the address usual with all Greek orators], in all things I perceive that ye are somewhat religious; for as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription--'TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.' What therefore [by your own confession] ye worship in ignorance, this set I forth unto you."
This exhibition of tact in the presentation of the truth is worthy of the imitation of all who are seeking to declare the good tidings with effect. It is not wise to begin with a rude attempt to batter down prejudices, but rather we should begin with that which is already known or conceded, and then proceed by logical and Scriptural reasonings from the known to establish that which is as yet unknown to the hearer.
VERSES 24,25. The one true God, hitherto unknown to the Athenians, as the author and sustainer of all life, and hence incomparably greater than the gods they had hitherto worshiped, instead of needing gifts, is himself the giver of every good and perfect gift.
VERSE 26declares the brotherhood of all the world of mankind (aside from the Church), and the earth to be their dwelling place; and that God has fixed times and seasons in working out his great plan respecting them.
VERSES 27,28. God is near to all who seek him, even though it be a blind feeling after him as an unknown God. As certain of their own poets had said, and so had come very near the truth, We are his offspring --the offspring of his creative power.
VERSE 29. The logic which would trace the existence of living intelligent creatures to a source so unworthy that man could imitate it in silver and gold, is evidently faulty and untrue.
VERSE 30. God is not holding man accountable for this ignorance of him and his ways; but when the truth is presented, it should be regarded as a call from God to repentance, and the knowledge brings a responsibility.
VERSE 31declares an appointed time for the world's judgment and Christ Jesus as [R1557 : page 220] the Judge of all the earth; and that this, God's declared purpose, is corroborated by the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
VERSES 32-34show the usual results of
the preaching of the truth. Like a magnet
it attracts those who have an affinity for it,
and others will not have it. Some mocked,
and others desired to hear him further; but
the real lovers of truth were evidently few.
Worldly wisdom is not of itself sufficient
to find out God; and, except when accompanied
by humility and sincerity, it proves
an obstacle rather than an aid to the attainment
of that heavenly wisdom whose price
is far above rubies.
[R1557 : page 220]
PAUL AT CORINTH.
III. QUAR., LESSON IV., JULY 23, ACTS 18:1-11.
Golden Text--"The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."--1 Cor. 1:18.
After his work in Athens, the intellectual metropolis of the world, Paul's next point was Corinth, the great commercial center of Greece, its cosmopolitan population and commercial business making it a specially good field from whence the influences of Christianity might extend far and near. It was a desperately wicked city, its very name at that time being a popular synonym of vice and profligacy. But its wickedness was not Paul's reason for carrying the gospel there; and he did not seek its degraded and profligate class. He knew that the gospel was for the meek, the lovers of righteousness, and that only such were counted worthy of it (Isa. 61:1; Psa. 97:11); and the Lord assured him (verse 10) that even in that wicked city were many of this class, and therefore counselled his remaining there.
VERSES 1-3. Having arrived at Corinth, the Apostle first found two worthy Israelites, Aquila and Priscilla, who, with other Jews, had been exiled from Rome. These were of one mind and heart with the Apostle, and being of the same craft--tent-makers --he abode with them and wrought.
VERSES 4-8. Observing the Lord's order --"To the Jew first, and afterward to the Gentile"--the Apostle improved the opportunities of the Sabbath in the Jewish synagogues. This was, of course, the seventh, not the first day of the week; and Paul made use of it, not as a Jew under the law, but as a Christian free from the law, and who therefore esteemed every day alike (Rom. 14:5; Col. 2:16), all the days of the week being consecrated to the service of the Lord, and all the labors of the week-- whether of preaching the gospel or making tents--being done with an eye single to his glory. The Jewish Sabbath and the privileges of the synagogue afforded special opportunities for the promulgation of the truth (any person of ability being permitted to speak to the people in attendance); and of these the Apostle availed himself.
Here Paul was refreshed by the arrival of Silas and Timothy. And doubtless he needed their encouragement; for the majority of his Jewish hearers opposed him and blasphemed his doctrine. When they thus proved their unworthiness of the truth, Paul shook his raiment and said unto them, "Your blood be upon your own heads [The reference here is to the second death, toward which such a course of wilful opposition surely tends. The statement does not imply that they were already doomed to it, but rather that, from their present attitude and course, they were in great danger of it. The expression is of similar import to that of our Lord recorded in Matt. 23:33. See also Matt. 12:31.]; I am clean [I have done my duty toward you, and the responsibility is now with yourselves only]: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles."
Nevertheless, though such was the general attitude of the Jews toward the truth, some, both of Jews and Greeks, believed, and the house of Justus, a Jewish proselyte --"one that worshiped God"--living next door to the synagogue, furnished a suitable place for further discoursing the truth.
VERSES 9-11. The Lord specially encouraged
the Apostle's continued efforts in
this place by a vision. Thus reassured of the
Lord's personal care and supervision, Paul
was prepared for any trial, and in his weakness
[R1558 : page 220]
was made strong. And these things
were written for our learning, that we might
always realize the Lord at the helm, and
trust and follow him in the footsteps of this
the noblest of all the noble apostles.
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PAUL AT EPHESUS.
III. QUAR., LESSON V., JULY 30, ACTS 19:1-12.
Golden Text--"When the spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth."--John 16:13.
This lesson shows Paul a second time at Ephesus since leaving Corinth. In the interim (chap. 18:18-23) he had first spent a [R1558 : page 221] brief time here, where he was accompanied by Aquila and Priscilla, and then visited Jerusalem, Antioch and the churches of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples. Now he has returned to find a pleasant surprise: A cultured and eloquent Alexandrian Jew, a convert to Christianity, has been here in his absence, mightily convincing the Jews, and that publicly, that Jesus is the Christ, and many have believed and are ready and anxious for further instruction.
Apollos himself knew only the baptism of John--the baptism unto repentance (the same now taught by the Disciples or Christian denomination--See last TOWER--Acts 18:25; 19:4), and they had been so baptized. Aquila and Priscilla heard him speak, and, perceiving his imperfect knowledge, took him home and instructed him more perfectly, so that when he went away from Ephesus to Achaia, he went better equipped for the work. The coming of the Apostle was just in time to encourage the infant Church and to correct the mistakes of the zealous and beloved Apollos. His inquiry and their reply, with reference to receiving the holy spirit, showed their entire ignorance of the privileges of believers--of entire consecration and adoption as sons of God into the divine family, implied in the ordinance of baptism into Christ. This subject of the high calling of believers, of the gospel age, Paul opened up to them, probably in quite extended discourse, of which verse 4must be understood as a mere synopsis. This clearer understanding was at once acted upon, and they were again baptized--not this time with the significance of John's baptism (unto repentance), but of Christ's baptism (of entire consecration and full submission to the will of God).
Then followed the evidence of their acceptance with God, granted to all the early Christians through the laying on of the Apostles' hands (never otherwise communicated, except at the beginning): the power of the holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. (Verse 6.) These gifts were necessary to the Church then in its incipient stage, both for their own full assurance of faith, and also for the world's recognition of them as specially owned of God; but they were not intended to be continued beyond the days of the Apostles.-- 1 Cor. 13:8.
VERSES 8-10. Paul continued his reasonings with the Jews in the synagogues three months, when, as usual, his advanced and clear teachings produced a division among the Jews, for and against the truth--the opposition of the unbelievers being very pronounced. He therefore, with the believers, withdrew, and thereafter taught in the school or lecture room of one Tyrannus. Here Jews and Greeks were alike welcome, and from this place the truth spread over all Asia Minor.
The lesson taught by the Apostle's course
in thus ceasing to intrude upon the unbelieving
Jews, who were no longer willing
to give the truth a hearing in their synagogue,
is one that all believers should note
and follow. What communion hath light
with darkness, or truth with error? After
using such privileges as are freely accorded,
if the truth has no effect, its servants are
not justified by any Scripture in intruding
upon the rights of others.
[R1558 : page 221]
PAUL AT MILETUS.
III. QUAR., LESSON VI., AUG. 6, ACTS 20:22-35.
Golden Text--"Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God; and viewing attentively the result of their conduct, imitate their faith."--Heb. 13:7. --Diaglott.
We stand in awe before such an example of moral heroism as we find in the Apostle Paul: and the passage chosen for this lesson makes it specially manifest. As we follow him from city to city and mark his faithful labor and care, his patient endurance of persecution, his untiring devotion and zeal for the truth, his patience in instructing and bearing with the weak and ignorant, and all his sufferings for Christ's sake, and then hear him say, "None of these things move me," we feel that we are indeed contemplating a sublime character.
To say that Paul was a remarkable man, a wonderful man, a grand man, gives no adequate conception of his character. See how in every city, bonds and afflictions awaited him: mobs and stripes and imprisonment were his constant expectation. Then read his epistles and mark his fervency of spirit, his deep insight into the things of God, his care for the churches and his deep solicitude for their spiritual welfare, his earnest exhortations and his living example. Read till you are filled with the inspiration of his noble example and behold in him a miracle of divine grace.
No ordinary hopes and ambitions could inspire such a life. His eye of faith was fixed on the things as yet not seen. He was [R1558 : page 222] a man of superior advantages and blessings, as well as of peculiar and almost unprecedented trials. "Like one born before the time" (1 Cor. 15:8), he had seen the Lord in his glory and heard his gracious voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." It was unto him as Ananias said,--"The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldst know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldst hear the voice of his mouth; for thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard." (Acts 22:14,15.) In mental vision he had been "caught away to the third heaven" (to the Millennial reign of Christ), and had been granted a glimpse of the glory and blessedness of that reign of righteousness. Again and again he received special, individual encouragement from the Lord. In Corinth the Lord spoke to him by a vision, saying, "Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace; for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city." (Acts 18:9,10.) Again, in the midst of fierce persecution "the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." (Acts 23:11.) And again, when in imminent danger of shipwreck, the angel of the Lord stood by him, saying, Fear not, Paul, thou must be brought before Caesar: and lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee." (Acts 27:23,24.) And the Lord constantly witnessed with him to the truth of the gospel, by miracles and signs which mightily convinced the people.--Acts 19:11,12; 20:9-12; 28:3-6,8,9.
In view of these things, do we not truly say that Paul was a miracle of grace? He himself said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13); and that it was the power of Christ that rested on him. (2 Cor. 12:9,10.) The grace given was indeed sufficient for the heavy labors and incessant toil of this beloved witness of the Lord unto us Gentiles. And as we look upon his shining course we see Christ in him; and reason says, If one who thus saw the Lord and heard his gracious voice, and who lived in such close and constant fellowship with him, was so inspired with hope and joy, and so nerved to cheerful endurance of hardship, pain and loss of every earthly treasure, the reward itself must indeed be glorious.
Beloved, let us mark the noble examples of the Lord and of Paul, and let us run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, as did Paul, for all needed strength and consolation.
With these thoughts, returning to the lesson, we see, in the parting of the beloved Apostle with the elders of the church at Ephesus, who had come to bid him farewell before he set sail for Jerusalem, and to receive his parting counsel, another reminder of his faithfulness and a worthy example for our imitation.
VERSES 25-27. He said to them, "I know that ye shall see my face no more. Wherefore, I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men [He was bearing in mind his personal responsibility as a steward of the Lord and the solemn significance of it as indicated by the Prophet Ezekiel--33:7-9]; for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." On the part of Paul there was no compromise of the truth, no mixing of it with human philosophies to make it more palatable to either Jews or Gentiles, or to avoid thus any measure of the otherwise inevitable persecution. The Christian teacher who can truly bear such testimony under such circumstances is indeed a soldier of the cross.
VERSES 28-31. Note his fatherly counsel to these elders to continue to supplement the Apostle's labors with their own; and with the same zeal and carefulness in which he had set them an example. Note also his faithful warning against false teachers, who would surely develop in their midst; against [R1559 : page 222] wolves in sheep's clothing, who would not spare the flock while selfishly seeking their own temporal advantage. The Apostle did not counsel the handling of these wolves very gently, as some teachers of to-day advise. He did not say, you must call them all brethren, and tell them they are probably as near the truth as you are, and that you have a broad charity for all sorts of vain philosophies, etc., etc. No, Paul was not the man for such compromises.--Rom. 16:17,18; 2 Thes. 3:6,14; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 Tim. 2:15-19.
VERSES 32-35are touching words--the eloquence of noble deeds, the exhortation of a living example, the benedictions of a loving heart, the incense of a devoted and holy life.
VERSES 36-38. Since the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, we cannot doubt that all their hearts were refreshed [R1559 : page 223] and comforted with a blessed sense of divine grace for this and every time of need, though their tears flowed freely at the thought of parting, to meet no more until the blessed day of final recompense.
The golden textis well chosen, though
the common translation gives a significance
at variance with the teachings of the Lord
and the Apostles. (See Matt. 20:25-28; 2 Cor. 1:24;
1 Pet. 5:1-3. The Lord does not
raise up rulers from among our brethren in
the body of Christ; but he does raise up
faithful leaders, to whom earnest heed should
be given, and whose faith and example
should be imitated.
[R1559 : page 223]
PAUL AT JERUSALEM.
III. QUAR., LESSON VII., AUG. 13, ACTS 21:27-39.
Golden Text--"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake."--Phil. 1:29.
Leaving Miletus, the scene of our last lesson, Paul pursued his journey toward Jerusalem, making several brief visits on the way--at Tyre seven days, at Ptolemais one day, and at Caesarea many days. And although forewarned of persecution at Jerusalem, he was persuaded that the Lord would have him go; and against all the entreaties of the brethren he was therefore invincible, saying, "What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." When he would not be dissuaded from his purpose, the brethren submitted, saying, "The will of the Lord be done" (Acts 21:1-14), and some of them went with him from Caesarea. This was his fifth visit to Jerusalem since his conversion, twenty years before. The day after his arrival he made a report of his missionary work to the brethren, of whom James, the Lord's brother, was chief.
In the eight years since Paul had visited the brethren at Jerusalem (Acts 18:21,22) he had (1) made two long missionary tours; (2) revisited and strengthened the churches in Asia Minor; (3) carried the gospel into Europe; (4) founded churches in Philippi, Corinth, Thessalonica and Ephesus; and (5) had widely extended the gospel and made many converts to Christianity, whose genuine faith and zeal for the cause of Christ was expressed in their contributions, sent by Paul, for the poor saints at Jerusalem.
At the previous conference, eight years prior to this, the elders at Jerusalem had concurred with Paul's judgment and previous practice, that it was not necessary to put the yoke of Judaism upon Gentile converts. He had taught that the Mosaic law was no longer in force; that its forms and ceremonies could not save any one, not even a Jew; and that faith in the Lord Jesus was the only way of salvation. He had taught, further, that the chief promises of God were to the spiritual seed of Abraham, of which seed are all who are Christ's by faith and consecration, whether Jews or Gentiles. At the same time he himself, being a Hebrew, properly observed certain features of the Jewish law; not, however, as a condition of salvation, but rather as a justifiable expediency-- a concession to his Jewish brethren who had not yet fully comprehended their liberty in Christ, that so his liberty might not become an occasion of stumbling to them.--See May 1st TOWER, page 142.
The narrative of this lesson needs no special comment, but is another illustration of the dauntless courage and holy enthusiasm of this noble soldier of the cross, a noteworthy instance of which is seen in his request to the chief captain to suffer him to speak to the people,--as soon as they had left off beating him. (Verses 37-40.) And the noble address which followed (chap. 22) was a model of skill, logic and eloquence; and a fair reflection of the worthy character of the Lord's chosen Apostle. May its inspiration fire our hearts to the furtherance of the Lord's work. The Apostle's course was a practical exemplification of his teaching in the golden textof this lesson.
ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I am again in the harvest field. What a privilege not only to feast ourselves upon the fat things, but to feed others as well. When we take Brother Paul's advice, and present our bodies living sacrifices to God and his service, there seems to be a change in our being. We continually grow in love to God, in heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It seems to me, dear Brother, that we sometimes realize in our own hearts, to some extent at least (notwithstanding our weakness under the Adamic [page 224] fall), the wonderful sympathy and love our dear Savior manifested toward the city of Jerusalem, when, but a few days before he suffered, he wept over the city, and, again, as they pierced him on the cross, he uttered that wonderful prayer, "Father, forgive them." I used to read those things with deep interest, and could hardly realize such great love; but now I not only realize it, but see my own privilege to share that same love, and to sacrifice for the sake of others.
Yours in the service of the Master,
J. S. BOTT.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have just finished this week's work, and wish you to know that I am still fighting away, and still trusting in our dear Redeemer, who died that we might live. And I do thank our Heavenly Father that I am so privileged to be used of him in spreading the "glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people."
I met a dear brother to-day, who seemed to be thoroughly consecrated to God's service. He has some truth, and I hope DAWN will help him to more. He had only to look at it a moment to see that it was something good. Perhaps you do not just realize how good it makes me feel to meet anyone I can grasp by the hand and call "brother." When we meet so much error everywhere, it is such a delightful contrast to meet one of like precious faith--one who is on the Rock. I took one hundred and forty orders this week; and owe many thanks to Brother Rogers for his helping hand, enabling me to do so much better than previously.
Your brother in Christ, WM. McALPINE.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--We received the three Bibles, etc., in good condition, and are well pleased with them. I also received your kind letter of May 30. It encourages me to press on. I am heavy laden with cares, but strength is graciously supplied to me; and I trust that I shall never become overcharged. I surely can see the hand of the Lord leading me on. All my ways, my thoughts, my words and desires, are known to him; and I desire to keep that thought always before me: it is a safeguard against the many snares of the devil.
I have received and read the June 1st TOWER. The article, "The Lord's Sheep," is good. How glad I am that I ever heard the Good Shepherd's voice! I will endeavor to follow wherever he leads, for the path is safe, and will end in glory. The knowledge of the good Shepherd, who he is, what he has done for his sheep and what he is still doing for us, has drawn out my love for him; and I desire to follow him because I love him. Dear Shepherd, keep me ever near thee, is my prayer. Amen.
The article, "The Relative Claims of Love and Justice," has opened my eyes as never before. I have read it twice, carefully, and I want to keep it before me continually. I never saw so much in justice before. I see that justice is what is needed in this world more than anything else. I see now that justice is righteousness; and there can be no peace on earth until justice is established in it; but we have the "sure word of prophecy" pointing out a time when the "people shall be all righteous," and inherit the land for ever.--Isa. 60:21.
Your brother in Christ, N. BARRETT, SR.
DEAR FRIENDS:--How the WATCH TOWER grows on one! It breathes the Spirit of Truth. I look upon the letters from friends and workers published in the TOWER as one of its strong features, and take great pleasure in reading them all--they are so clean and honest and straight-forward.
With best wishes, I remain Yours truly,
A. R. PEARSON.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I am digging down into the three volumes of DAWN, trying my best to get its treasures; for I find that all the truth does not lie on the surface. Each time I read them through I grasp the truth more firmly.
Please send me the TOWER for April 15th, and the one treating the first chapter of John. Never before did anything open up so beautifully to my mind.
Yours in love and truth, R. P. PHELPS.
DEAR FRIENDS:--I failed to receive the TOWER of April 15th. If you have one I would be glad to have it. I feel it a great loss to miss a single number. Would be pleased to receive a few tracts for distribution.
A few of us, here, are endeavoring to walk in the strait, narrow way of self-denial, trusting in the ransom sacrifice of our blessed Redeemer, and endeavoring to walk in his footsteps. Oh, how wonderful that we are invited to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amazing grace!
We are circulating a few DAWNS and other publications of the Tract Society in our thinly settled section, though there are but few that have the hearing ear. Yet how clear and refreshing is the truth to the household of faith! I feel I have but a little while to stay in the flesh. I have passed the seventieth mile-post, and hope soon to be like my Lord, and see him as he is. Yours in hope, G. S. PERRY.