My dear Brethren: – Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
Says Solomon in Ecc. 1:17,18: “I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived.... that in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” But the Wise Man observes also in Ecc. 7:3 – “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” Surely, all God's Fully Faithful people will be In accord with the conclusion that by which “the heart is made better” is to be desired, for “out of the heart are the issues of life.” Solomon's wisdom is legend and truth with a large portion of the human race, whatever may be their religious beliefs or disbeliefs. As Solomon realized he was King in Israel after the death of his father David, the enormity of his task had a very mollifying effect upon him – as was also true of the Epiphany Solomon after the death of his spiritual father (That Servant). The thought never once seized Brother Johnson that he should be 'king In Israel' after 1916 – just the reverse of others of much less ability who were ambitious to be “somebody” in the Lord's Household. This is beautifully outlined in 1 Kgs. 3:7, 9, 10, 12, “I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.... Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad.... And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him.... Behold, I have done according to thy words: Lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.” And further in 1 Kgs. 4:29-31, “God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart.... And Solomon's wisdom exceeded the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men.”
On one occasion we quoted this Scripture to Brother Johnson, asking how this could be true, since he freely admitted that Brother Russell had a position much superior to his own here in the end of the Age. His answer: I have the knowledge and understanding of God's word that he had, plus what I now have; and that makes more than he had.
It is well stated that “Genius speaks only to genius.” St. Paul expresses a kindred thought in 1 Cor. 2:11-16 (Dia.): “Who of men knows the thoughts of the man, except that spirit of the man which is in him.... We have received that spirit which is from God, that we may know the things graciously given to us by God.... Now an animal man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; and he is not able to understand, because they are spiritually examined.” Thus, our approach to God or to understanding the genius of man is calculated entirely upon our own ability to reach a viewpoint on the same level with such genius. Therefore, a lawyer sees eye to eye with another lawyer of the same caliber, a doctor of medicine to another physician, and so on. And, by the same token, the more we acquire of the Spirit of the Lord, the more shall we know the “mind of the Lord.,”
Physically speaking, the human race is divided Into three classes – the magnetics, the repulsives, and the neutrals. In the Bible the human face is often used to portray the quality of love; and, even In man's fallen condition, seldom do we find a human face that is repulsive to our vision. Consequently, there is only a small minority of repulsives – just as there is also only a small portion of magnetics; the vast majority are found among the neutrals. Also, the vast majority of human beings must receive their entertainment and relaxation outside themselves, which accounts for the great demand for actors and artists of various sorts. A few, however, are able to draw their pleasures from within themselves, and such people are never alone. Jesus was one of these, and to His disciples He had said, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” (John 4:32) He had that strong reassurance, that inner rest, calm and fortitude which were always His ''meat and drink,''
Of course, with almost every human being there is some brilliant experience – perhaps vague and passing quickly, interspersed with the great expanse of woe that clings as a blanket in this “valley of the shadow” – that brings some few heights of joy to ease the broad and persistent depths of sorrow. From such experience is spun the web of character which flows from the active loom of life, and which will be fine and beautiful, or coarse and homely, according to the skill, carefulness and fineness with which the Individual weaves his “garments of needlework” into a final destiny. It has been well spoken that if we sow a thought, we reap a word; if we sow a word, we reap a sentence; if we sow a sentence, we reap a habit; if we sow a habit, we reap a destiny. This makes clear why St. Paul ever sought to have God's people cultivate right habits of thought – “whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report think on these things.” Such thinking is certain to determine our destiny. “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.” And any who come into God's Household and faithfully seek to “be transformed” by His Word, Spirit and Providence, develop a firmness of character and brightness of countenance that they otherwise did not have – whatever their classification and position, according to this world's standards, in life may have been.
''The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together,” nor should God's people be foolish enough to think it shall not come nigh unto them. Even our Beloved Lord “learned obedience by the things which He suffered”; and “as He was, so are we in this world.” Few people can stand adversity, and fewer still can receive prosperity and still maintain an even keel. one shopkeeper put the sign In his window, “Hats enlarged to fit any promotion”; and it is little wonder that Solomon was forced to conclude that ''vanity, vanity, all Is vanity.” “What is that In thine hand?” the Lord had said to Moses; and this query comes with equal force to each in his own place, for “it is required of stewards that a man be found faithful.” The vast majority strive and strain for the pelf that perisheth, but which they think will permit them to say, “Soul, take thy ease,” as had been true of the inhabitants of Sodom, where “pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was found in her”; but to all who regard the things of time as transient and elusive, the following verse will find acceptable lodging:
When fortune smiles, and full of mirth and pleasure
The days are flitting by without a care,
Lest you should be content with only earthly treasure,
Let these few words their fullest import bear:
This, too, will pass away!
It is a common expression, “You can't take it with you”; and, while this may be true of what we have in perishing things of clay, it is certainly not true of what we are in excellency of character. This latter none can take from us, nor does God ever forget it, as evidence Isa. 49:15,16, ''Can a woman forget her suckling child? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” Thus, riches may vanish, health may fail, friends forsake, and enemies take up reproach and revile us – yea, even “brethren cast you out” – despair and despondency may come in like a flood (''reproaches have broken my heart”), yet full victory is assured to those who keep up the ''good fight''; the promise is theirs, ''Ye shall reap if ye faint not.” It is aptly stated that we may never have full appreciation of good food until we have been ravenously hungry, nor enjoy the cool refreshing waters of the hidden spring until we have first crossed the desert. one philosopher once intentionally forced himself to go without water for three full days in high summer that he might experience the gripping joy and satisfaction of assuaging such a thirst. (Please consider we do not advise any of our readers to pursue a like experiment; we are certain to have a sufficiency of tribulation to tax the strength of the least unto the greatest even as we do our best to travel life's pathway in even stride. “In the world you shall have tribulation.”)
In the midst of the cares, perplexities and difficulties, from “fightings without and fears within,” we may find solace in the example of Job, ''Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job. 13:15) God's Fully Faithful people may rest in the sublime words of St. Paul (1 Cor. 10:13), “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able (to bear); but will with the temptation also make a way to escape.” Therefore, if we break a leg, let us remember that thousands of others “without God and without hope in the world” also have broken legs; if we suffer the loss of loved ones, “we sorrow not, even as others which have no (substantial) hope” (1 Thes. 4:13), and who also mourn the loss of those dear to them. “Behold, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48:10); but the arm of flesh has its limitations in ourselves and in others, nor will weak man ever be permitted to stay God's great purposes – in His people as individuals, or in His great eternal purpose for humanity as a whole. “When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?” Those who have never served as a “good soldier” under the Great Captain can know nothing of such consolations. Such “good soldiers” may appear to men to be solitary sentinels on the isolated outposts of the “good warfare” for Truth, but each may rest secure that he is never alone – “Lo, I am with you all the days, even to the end of the Age.” And the years of experience, if properly applied, enable one and all to “endure hardness as a good soldier,” even as St. Paul gave eloquent testimony of the refining and enduring effects of his own faithfulness as a “good soldier,” “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7,8)
Mankind in general does much too little thinking. Even here in the United States, where the burden of the curse has been eased so very much during the past fifty years, there is a large segment of the population that works eight hours a day, sleeps eight hours a day, eats and drinks and is entertained in some insipid form for eight hours a day – and they think the rest of the time! However, there are those who do think, and think very straight and clearly; as Shakespeare put into the mouth of one of his characters, ''Yon Cassius thinks too much; such men are dangerous!” And, while schemes dark and sundry may emanate from those whose thoughts are evil, yet there can never be too much of thinking on the better things – those things St, Paul gives in his epistle to the Philippians. Much of the thinking of human beings has been based upon unsound premises, such as the old Roman philosophy, “Without slaves there can be no leisure; without leisure there can be no thinking; and without thinking there can be no progress.” All the more enlightened nations have long since discarded that doctrine.
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” and good listeners often gain quick and sure insight into the hearts of those they meet just by allowing them to talk. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”; and the thoughts of the heart are certain to reveal themselves in one form or another, because “A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and changeth the strength of his countenance.” Thus, a wise and good man will be motivated by just and good thoughts – which will cause him to speak and act justly, nobly; “the wisdom which cometh from above is without partiality and without hypocrisy.” This is the grand ideal, of course, which no member of the fallen race can achieve in perfection; but the appeal on every hand to “think” offers eloquent testimony to the rating that the better-born among men give. to it. It is said that the one and all-gripping slogan of John D. Rockefeller was, “I am bound to be rich”; and rich he became – perhaps the world's first billionaire. But those who labor for “the wisdom from above” also acquire a wealth which the world cannot know, neither can it take away; whereas, “the meat that perisheth” is so often only too quickly dissipated. It is a proper observation that “distance lends enchantment,” and that the pasture in other fields always appears to be greenest; yet it is also a solid truth that “familiarity breeds contempt.”
Perhaps the most tragic example in all history of this sage expression is to be found in Jesus' own family and the locale in which he grew to manhood. It was in Nazareth that His boyhood acquaintances had contemptuously said of Him, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And they were offended because of Him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among His own kin, and in his own house. And he could do there no mighty work... And he marveled because of their unbelief.” (Mark 6:1-6) There is no record that any of Jesus' brothers and sisters accepted Him when He was here; and at the cross there is the pathetic spectacle of Jesus resigning His mother to “that disciple whom Jesus loved” (the Apostle John), rather than to one of her own sons. We have often pondered, What will His brothers and sisters think of themselves when they experience the “common salvation,” and realize that they then stand in life because of the one they knew so well that they would have no part of Him during His ministry of sorrow!
But the appeal to all who have accepted Him is that they be “transformed by the renewing of their minds” that they may know what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2) Nor shall we succeed in this “transformation” except by “thinking on these things”; therefore, it is well that we “give our hearts to know wisdom” – the wisdom which is first pure, then peaceable, etc. And this appeal to all God's people to “get understanding” enables them to “know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.” This is just the reverse of all heathen and of all false Christian religions, which instruct their adherents to allow their priests to think for them on matters religious; otherwise, they may become confused. This is especially true of the Roman Catholic system, which forbids its devotees to read the Bible for themselves, or to read any literature not accepted by the board of censors – as is also true of its “Little Twin” (the Jehovah's Witnesses). This same attitude was followed by the Society after Brother Russell's death, just as it has been advocated by some since Brother Johnson's death. Brother Johnson gives this in E-3:311 – “J.F.R. sought to prevent the Societyites from partaking of the spiritual feast offered.... Personally, by letter and by instructions to his pilgrims he not only counseled against reading that and other teachings that appeared in The Present Truth, but he specifically told his adherents, some of whom were burning the copies of The Present Truth that were being sent to them, not to burn them, but to send the papers back to the publisher unopened, with the word “refused” written on the wrapper.... and thus he sought to prevent their getting any more copies of this journal.” This same advice has been given by R. G. Jolly regarding our publications, and we have received some of the same kind of “refusals” written on the wrapper from his sectarian devotees. We should “think it not strange,” when such errorists follow in the footsteps of their predecessors in error. Such bigotry should sound an immediate warning to all who have been enlightened in even slight degree by Present Truth. Of the Roman system it has been aptly observed that their slogan is, “Reading (other than Catholic literature) is doubt; doubt is heresy; and heresy is Hell.” It was indeed reading of the Bible that made of Martin Luther a ‘heretic’; had he not read, he would have remained a loyal “believer,” a cringing serf of the Roman system.
And, while thinking of the right sort is advocated throughout the Holy Writ, we should ever consider that thinking of the wrong sort can quickly lead to the morass of confusion which is to be found In so many quarters. The words of Jesus are so very pertinent here, “Wisdom is justified of all her children.” Thus, the Roman Church correctly teaches that there is but one true Church, which is the custodian and steward of the Truth. This Truth none can deny; but they then proceed with the next step – We are that true Church. All who accept this second premise are then easily led captive to the enslaving precepts of the system. By the same token, if one is falsely labeled a ‘sifter,’ those who believe the falsehood would then easily be deterred from investigating that person's teachings. But we are admonished to “stand fast in that liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” However, even while advocating the fullest freedom in God's Household, there is also that restraining precept, “Ye were called unto liberty, only use not liberty as an occasion to the flesh.” Thus, “all things are lawful, but all things are not expedient.”
We are told to “prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.” However, if this text be not read with sanctified reason, it may be badly misleading. It is not possible for any of us to prove all things; but it is possible – and proper to prove all things we accept that pertain to religious truth; otherwise, it would not be possible for us ever to “know the Truth.” As the Bereans of old “searched the Scriptures daily to see if those things taught to them were true,” so should we also; and this alone will make us “rooted and grounded in the faith as ye have been taught,” a burning and a shining light. All such, who ''hunger and thirst after righteousness (the Truth and the spirit of the Truth) shall be filled.”
Therefore, let all consider that ''wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding.” Such is our prayer for all our readers.
Sincerely your brother,
John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim
QUESTIONS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Question: – Do the quasi-elect have the “peace of God”?
Answer: – No – only the sanctified have the “peace of God.” The peace of God is only for the elect in this Faith Age. So long as the quasi-elect retain their duty-love to God and Man, that they attained in the Court, they will retain the “Peace with God” that is their portion in making this most important first step. God gives His peace – “the peace of God” – only to those who have a justifying and sacrificing faith, the faith required for those who walk a narrow way – the elect during the reign of sin and evil, which is a step farther than Justification; and only the elect (the Little Flock, the Ancient and Youthful Worthies, and the Great Company when cleansed) are blessed with this peace during the Gospel Age. Brother Johnson has a splendid article on this subject In the November 1944 Present Truth.
Question: – When the Great Company are In Azazel's clutches, do they have “peace with God” and the “Peace of God”?
Answer: – No, they do not! They violate both their Justification and Sanctification vows – some more and some less. In proportion as they have violated their vows, in that same proportion they lose their “peace with God” and the “Peace of God.” The Lord does not uphold their evils of teaching and practice, which they get from Azazel – nor does He grant them victory In controversy. This is so very clearly revealed in the course of King Saul in 1 Sam. in chapters 13 through 31. Only the Fully Faithful are able to put all their adversaries to flight. “I will give you eloquence and wisdom, which all your opponents will not be able to gainsay, or resist” (Luke 21:15, Dia.), is one of the exceeding great and precious promises reserved only for the Fully Faithful. Note especially the Berean Comments on this Scripture. Azazel doesn't uphold them either; he doesn't mind how much they are humiliated and defeated because of the errors he has given them. He doesn't love them; he wishes to destroy them. But the Lord loves them so long as they remain In the Household, even though He doesn't spare “the rod of affliction.” The rod of affliction is no comfort to them, but rather humiliating and unappreciated. But the rod – either to correct, or refine, whichever the case may be – to the Fully Faithful is a rod of comfort to them, because they want the Lord's correction; they want to develop a character ''mete for the Master's use.” (See Psalms 23:4)
Not so with the Great Company so long as they are doubleminded: Their fleshly mind desires to do things in accordance with their will and way. Until such time as they become single-minded, this same condition will exist in them; but when they have had enough and “cry unto the Lord” in their distresses (Psa. 107:13), He will deliver them. R. G. Jolly touched on this Psalm (vs. 22-28) as applicable to the world, at the Philadelphia Convention, but he didn't refer to verse 13, a specific text that applies to his Class. We are living in the Epiphany period when persons, principles and things are being made manifest. The Great Company either as a Class, or as Individuals in their leaders (in the Little Babylon groups as well as in Big Babylon) have not reached this point yet – they have not “cried unto the Lord” to deliver them from their bondage of error (although those Individuals – cleansed as such all during the Age have had their proper buffeting and no doubt “cried unto the Lord.” – We refer specifically to the leaders and Class cleansing): rather they have persisted in their revolutionism even after they have been clearly refuted by the Lord's faithful Star Members' teachings. They are still sitting “in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron” (Psa. 107:10). When the prophecy is fulfilled – “mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all” (Rev. 18:21), then the “great multitude” will cry unto the Lord for their deliverance.
LETTERS OF GENERAL INTEREST
Dear Brother Hoefle: Loving greetings In our Precious Redeemer's Name!
Your kind letter with the tracts enclosed received some time ago – and thank you very much. Of course I appreciate them very much – because they are a Part of the precious Harvest Sickle, and part of the Fifth Volume of Studies in the Scriptures. We used to put them out a few years back, especially “Where are the Dead.”
I never met Brother ------- you mention, but I have heard of him. I do not know what became of him – whether he stayed with the Society or where he is. Here are the names and addresses of some members of our class for your mailing list; I do not have all their home addresses.
May the dear Lord continue to bless and keep you – and all the dear brethren with you in the Narrow way. This is my sincere prayer for all of you.
Your Brother by His Grace In His Service ------- (NEW YORK)
My dear Brother Hoefle: Greetings In the Master's name!
Yours of July 19 came to hand quite safe and was received with much appreciation and thanks. Thanks also for the August and September papers and the tracts....... I really enjoyed the August paper – agree that it is the crownlost leaders and their supporters that built up Great and Little Babylon; and it is their errors that are at the bottom of every sifting – error of teaching and practice, even up to this day of the Epiphany. I also note what you say about priestcraft and priest'graft.' These are the doubleminded ones who try every conceivable means to gain numbers and material gains, as you make reference to J. F. Rutherford and his slave labor – and at the same time claiming to be strictly adhering to Pastor Russell, or in the case of the Epiphany brethren, claiming to adhere to both Pastor Russell and Pastor Johnson.
I also enjoyed the September paper – Ten Years in Retrospect. It is indeed enlightening and encouraging. Question of General Interest of the No. 123, I think with one stoke of the pen you have wiped off the “strange fire” of Campers Consecrated and quasi-elect Consecrated. I only hope their advocates would read that number and take note of all the references you make pointing to Brother Johnson's writings to the contrary of these false teachings.....
All the dear friends are in good spirit, thank the Lord, and ask to tender their love to you and Sister Hoefle and to the dear ones with you – as well as to those with whom you come in contact. And so comes our prayers on your behalf as we also solicit yours. To the All-Wise God, be glory through Jesus Christ forever! Amen. (Rom. 16:27)
Your brother by His Grace, ------- (TRINIDAD)
Dear Brother Hoefle: Grace and peace through our Blessed Lord and Master!
It is a pleasure to write you, as much blessings are received in your response. I must acknowledge the receipt of ... lbs. from Brother ------- May the dear Lord bless him for his labor of love! We wish we could all say more and do more at times for the Lord. He is so gracious toward us!
The monthly articles are so interesting and add strength to the faithful at this dire time of need. In your September article – Ten Years In Retrospect – you stated you were hopeful R. G. Jolly would have recovered.... But if I understand aright I see him.... acting very daring in his wayward course. I have read and noticed how Brother Johnson dealt very kindly and justly toward those who opposed the Truth In his times – very much as you have been trying to do toward those of our times. But will they take heed? Oh, when the light in one become darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matt. 6:23)
May God continue to bless you as you strive to serve Him faithfully. With this comes my warm Christian love for you, Sister Hoefle and the dear ones with you.
Sincerely your brother ------- (JAMAICA)
My dear Brother Hoefle: Grace and peace be multiplied!
I must thank you for your kind letter to me, and to know I have been in your thoughts and your prayers... These have brought much consolation to me at this time. I can assure you, my dear Brother, that my present experiences have enabled me to live closer to my Lord and Redeemer (Psalms 119:67); and I do rejoice in His promises that all things must work together for my good, and to them that love God – the called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28)
May the Lord Jesus Christ and our dear Heavenly Father continue to bless and keep you in His love while you continue to abide faithful in His service. Continue to pray for me, as I cease not to make mention of you in my prayers, Love to the dear sisters and other brethren with you.
Your sister in the Lord, ------- (TRINIDAD)
Dear Brother Hoefle: Grace and peace through our Beloved Master!
Enclosed is letter to Brother ------- It is a very good letter and right to the point. It should deeply impress him. Sister ------- and I feel so happy at seeing you Sunday, Sept. 5, in Philadelphia – and we did enjoy spending a little time with you both in your hotel. It felt so good to see you both again and we trust we all received a rich blessing from the Lord.... We shall look forward to receiving the tracts.
Warmest Christian love ------- (NEW JERSEY)