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CONCERNING PROFITABLE MEETINGS
WE have received a number of requests from friends
of the truth for advice as to the most profitable
methods of conducting meetings. One Brother writes:
"A few brethren who have been reading DAWN express
their willingness to meet somewhere to study in consecutive
order, and I ask suggestions for a plan suited to beginners.
Pray for us, that we may commence this study in the right
way, and be the recipients of many blessings.
"Yours in the faith, J. W. McLANE."
Another Brother recently removed to a new neighborhood
"I find in this locality a fine field for labor. Several
here to whom I have given tracts already manifest interest.
I have conversed freely with them on Bible subjects, and
have their promise to attend meetings at my house. So if
you can aid me by suggestions I will be thankful.
"I am, dear brother, yours in the service of the Master,
"JOSHUA L. GREEN."
Another Brother writes:--
"We have a number of persons here who wish to
assemble themselves together for worship. We would be
pleased to have some instructions from you as to how to go
"I hope you can give us some way which will be satisfactory.
Some of us have left the churches and are now
free from all precepts of men. To speak for myself, I left
the Presbyterian church.
"Yours in Christ, C. C. FLEMING."
We are glad to note the increasing desire for the study
of God's plan of the ages; and also to see that the importance
of method and order are recognized in this. We
give our advice as follows:--
(1) You would best first re-read some things already
written which bear upon this subject--in our issues of May
1, '93, page 131; Sept. '93, page 259; Oct. 15, '93, page
307; Mar. 1, '94, page 73; April 1, '95, page 78; May 1,
'95, page 109.
(2) Beware of "organization." It is wholly unnecessary.
The Bible rules will be the only rules you will
need. Do not seek to bind others' consciences, and do
not permit others to bind yours. Believe and obey so far
as you can understand God's Word to-day, and so continue
growing in grace and knowledge and love day by day.
(3) The Bible instructs you whom to fellowship as
"brethren;"--only believers who are seeking to walk, not
after the flesh, but after the spirit. Not believers of any
and every thing, but believers of the Gospel record--that
mankind is fallen into sin and its penalty, death, and that
only in Christ is there salvation, "through faith in his
blood" "shed for the remission of sins", as "a ransom [a
corresponding price] for all." Any who merely believe
in Christ as a noble and good person, a grand example of
righteous living, etc., may be agreeable as neighbors or
business acquaintances, but they are not "believers," and
hence are not "brethren," any more than are Jews,
Mohammedans, Infidels, publicans and sinners--for practically
these also so acknowledge him.
(4) You come together, then, as God's children, bought
back from sin and death with the great price, and resolved
henceforth to live not unto yourselves, but unto him who
died for you. (2 Cor. 5:15.) Your meetings should
have certain objects in view, viz:--
(a) Worship, praise and prayer.
(b) Mutual helpfulness in waging victorious warfare
against the world, the flesh and the devil within and
(c) And to these ends you meet also for the study of
God's Word, which he provided for our instruction and help
in the narrow way which leads to those blessings prepared
by him for those who love him and who demonstrate their
love by their efforts to serve, honor and obey him.
(5) Thus seen, a knowledge of doctrines is not
our ultimate object in meeting, but the building up of
characters, which, as attempted copies of the character of
God's dear Son, will be "accepted in the Beloved." But
God declares that knowledge of the doctrines which he
has revealed in his Word will be of great value to us in our
endeavors to grow in his grace.
Hence, after worship, praise and prayer, Bible study
should be recognized in its two parts,--(a) The study of
God's plan,--what he tells us he is doing for us and for
the world; what he has done; and what he will yet do;
that we may be enabled as sons to enter into the very spirit
of the great work of God and be intelligent co-workers
with him. (b) The study of our duties and privileges in
God's service, toward each other and toward those that are
without, to the end that we may build up such characters
[R1867 : page 216] as would be pleasing and acceptable to God now and in the
age to come.
And since for general convenience these meetings
should not last much longer than from one and a half to
two hours, it will generally be found best to have at least
two meetings per week, one for the consideration of
Christian graces and testimony and mutual helpfulness;
and the other for Bible study. And at every meeting our
songs and prayers of thankful worship should ascend as incense
[R1867 : page 217] before God; and in this worship all should share.
Amongst us, as in the early Church, the preaching of
formal discourses is the exception, rather than the rule. The
exception should be where some brother has the necessary
qualifications--clear appreciation of the truth and ability
to set it forth so as to be helpful to the Lord's flock, with
qualifications also of voice, education, etc., and withal,
surely one who is meek and not likely to become puffed up,
or to preach himself, rather than the cross of Christ.
But, whether there be preaching or no preaching, the
other meetings, in which all can and should take part (both
brethren and sisters), should be kept up; and each of the
saints (consecrated "believers") should seek in them to
do good, as well as to get good.--See Rom. 14:19; Eph. 4:11-32;
1 Thes. 5:11.
(6) What shall be our Standard by which we may
know the truth and prove it? We answer, The Word of
God "is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may
be perfect [-ed in knowledge and conduct], thoroughly
furnished unto all good works.--2 Tim. 3:16,17.
But how shall we understand the Bible? For centuries
good men as well as bad men have searched its pages.
The former have found therein blessings, it is true, but
so far as doctrines are concerned only confusion; satisfactory
plan, order, justice and wisdom none have ever
found there in all that time. The due time for the
mystery of God's plan to be finished had not yet come;
and it was "sealed up," "hidden," until that due time.
But now, we who are living in the time of "the cleansing of
the Sanctuary,"* and particularly since the time of blessedness
at the end of the 1335 days+--in the present harvest,
and in the beginning of the sounding of the Seventh
Trumpet--we have a very different experience from the
saints of past times. To us it is given to know the mysteries
of the Kingdom of God, which many prophets and
many righteous persons of the past were not privileged to
see. Thank God for the light of present truth! Now we
can see a plan of God--a plan which covers every detail
of history past, and of revelation future; a plan that is
complete,--lacking and disjointed at no part; a plan that
is in strictest conformity with divine Justice, Wisdom,
Power and Love, and with every text of the divine Word;
and which thus proves itself to be not only a reasonable
plan, but the plan of God, in comparison with which all
other theories and plans are defective and evidently erroneous,
out of harmony with the divine attributes and with
the divine Word.
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III., Chap. iv.
+See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III., Chap. iii.
Those who have come to an understanding of the
plan of the ages, recognize it as of divine and not of
human origination. It is the key to the mysteries of God
which God himself has provided, and for which we all
unite in rendering to him all praise. Its light is that of
the millennial dawn, bringing with it peace and joy to
thousands. We give all praise and honor to the Divine
Author from whom cometh every good and perfect gift,
and who thus, according to his promise (Luke 12:37),
continues to feed his Church with spiritual "meat in due
season." God, still our Teacher, uses as heretofore instrumentalities,
and has provided for his people's instruction
and use the orderly presentations of MILLENNIAL DAWN to
point out to them his plan of the ages and the duties and
privileges of this "harvest" time; because the "due time"
has come for "the mystery" to be finished. (Rev. 10:7.)
And those who have received instruction in the Word, in
private, through the use of MILLENNIAL DAWN as a teacher
sent of God (Eph. 4:11-14) have no more reason
to ignore it as God's mouthpiece in united study than in
their own private study;--no more, either, than they would
a living teacher.
And should any be disposed to worship the humble
human instrumentality chosen of God as the channel for
this blessing of present truth, we say to such,--"See thou
do it not; for I am thy fellow servant [not thy Lord], and
[fellow servant] of thy brethren the prophets [all true
teachers or mouthpieces of God]:...Worship God." (Rev. 22:9.)
The water of life and the Giver of it, and not
the earthen vessel through which it is sent, are to be reverenced.
The earthen vessels have naught whereof to glory.
What have we of ourselves that we did not first receive of
the Lord?--1 Cor. 4:6,7.
The God-given plan of the ages is what we should all
use in the study of the Bible, if we would get the treasures
of wisdom, and grace, and strength for service in these
perilous harvest times, for which it is divinely provided.
Each one who recognizes this as a God-given light should
use it in the study of the Word. Each should make it his
own light as God intended. Each should become so proficient
in its use as to be able to answer every question that
could be asked respecting the general plan of God.
But alas! some seem to feel that this is Brother Russell's
plan, and that they should originate their own. But this
is a great mistake. It is not our plan, but God's. If not
God's plan, it is of no value. We do not want any human
plans. Surely men cannot make plans for God that he will
recognize; for his own plans have been since "before the
foundation of the world." God has but one plan, and it
is unalterable; and now that he has revealed it, we confess
that it is wonderful, yet as simple as it is beautiful. It is a
plan, however, that men could not conceive or arrange.
Its thoughts are higher than man's thoughts; and hence
in all the centuries past men have never even approximated
this divine plan of the ages.
So then the Bible, the standard, should be studied in
the light of this God-given teaching, until each one is proficient
--an able teacher of it. Then each should let his
light shine--humbly serving it to others.
Some, alas! when their eyes are opened to see God's
loving plan of the ages, while surprised, and thankful to
God for the present truth, neglect to do more than hastily
taste of it; and then they hasten on, as they say, to "hunt
for more." What they should do would better be to use
well what God has already given us as his people. There is
a famine in the land; not for bread, nor for water, but for
the Word of the Lord. (Amos 8:11.) Our Lord and
Master has come to his waiting people, and spread for
them a bounteous table of truths, new and old, in order.
(Matt. 13:52.) We certainly have no right to ask for
more or other blessings, until we have feasted to the full on
what has been set before us. Then we should exercise
ourselves, using the strength received in serving the feast
to others. Neglecting this, it would certainly be with bad
grace that any would attempt to break open any parts of
the storehouse not yet unlocked. Remember the illustration
of the time-lock++ which opens easily, without burglarizing,
at the appointed time.
++MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., p. 23.
"Thy words were found [not made, nor gained by
human skill or labor], and I did eat them." (Jer. 15:16;
[R1867 : page 218] Rev. 10:10.) Our Lord has always provided for his
Church the food necessary to her welfare; and he always
"giveth liberally." The proper attitude for the Church
is to be active in eating the food already received and in
using the strength derived from it. She is not to leave the
table bountifully spread to pray for more. When more
would be beneficial more will be sent by the hand of some
"servant" of God and the Church. Nor will the true
"servant" find it necessary to make the food; for it will
be given him by the great Householder. It will be "found"
by him, and when he presents it to the Lord's family, they
will be able to discern upon it the stamp of divine truth.
And after partaking of it liberally they will dispense it to
Sufficient labor for all comes after we have "found"
the truth,--labor in eating it, studying and appropriating
it, and labor in serving it to others. The labor and bitterness
of experience come not with the getting and first tasting
of the truth, but with the conflict of the truth with
our own and other people's prejudices. Then comes the pleasurable
but often painful labor of serving it to others that they
may find it easily and eat it. The eating of the truth (the proving
of it, and then the appropriating of it to strength) is
no small task. When a new food comes to us, our eyes first
criticize it. If it looks good, we handle it and smell of it;
and finally, still approved, we judge further by biting it
with our teeth; and then our palate judges by the taste,
while our teeth prepare it for nutrition. So every child of
God has considerable labor in the way of proving and
eating his spiritual food, after the Lord has provided it and
he has "found" it. The proving is a necessity because
Satan through his agents is permitted to offer us poisonous
food. God would have us exercise our spiritual senses and
judge or prove all we eat by the standard, and thus to learn
to distinguish good from evil. This searching and proving
and appropriating, opposed by the world, the flesh and the
devil, require considerable energy and overcoming quality,
and leave little enough of time and energy to help others.
Let us remember, however, that we cannot break open
any secrets which God may wish to conceal as not yet
appropriate "meat in due season"; nor should we wish to
[R1868 : page 218] do so. The small boy who bangs away at the unripe
apple until it falls get food which makes him very sick:
the ripe apple is very easily plucked. The unripe chestnut
burr is difficult to pluck and very troublesome to open,
and when open its fruit is unwholesome; but the ripe burr
will fall and open of itself and its meat is sweet. Our diligence
should be rather to watch the ripening processes
of divine providence, and to hold our minds and hearts
in humble readiness for all the rich fruitage of the advancing
seasons, assured that our Master knoweth what things
we have need of and will supply them to us in due time
--directly or indirectly, it matters not so long as it is
truth, from him and for us.
In the study of the Word of God in the light of the
DAWN, let each one make use of concordances and marginal
references and various translations of the Scriptures
as he may have opportunity; remembering that nothing is
to be accepted as truth which does not harmonize with the
letter and spirit of God's Word. It is the Word of God
that is to be eaten; the DAWNS and TOWERS are divinely
provided helps for the cutting of the food into eatable
portions,--enabling us to "rightly divide the Word of
truth," and thus facilitating the eating of it.
Such meetings for the study of the Word in the light
of the now revealed plan of the ages have been termed
"Dawn Circles." The plan originated with Brother Rahn,
of Baltimore, several years ago, and he and the other
members of the class report much profit therefrom. The
same plan has been pursued in perhaps a score of other
cities, and always with success when rightly conducted. In
illustration see letters from Brother Townsend in our issue
of Dec. 15, '94 and Bro. Jeffery in issue of Jan. 1, '95.
Since the "Circles" are no longer an experiment, but have
practically demonstrated their value, it seems advisable to
announce the matter so that all the students of the truth
can have the benefit of the experience of others. We advise
the holding of these Circles everywhere, and suggest
that you invite to them only such as are believers in the
efficacy of the precious blood of Christ, and of genuine
Christian character. But any one should be welcomed
who is desirous of learning the way of God more perfectly.
As the Apostle says, "Him that is weak in the
faith [not fully committed to Christ] receive ye, but not
to doubtful disputations"--you do not meet to discuss the
unbeliever's doubts, but to confirm the believer's faith.--
Rom. 14:1; 1 Cor. 14:24,25.
It is advisable that the leader be a good reader, and
that he begin at the beginning of Volume I. He should
pause at the end of each sentence, if necessary, to give full
opportunity for questions or remarks; and at the close of
each paragraph a general discussion of its contents should
be encouraged, together with an examination of texts cited
therein, and any other texts that appertain to the subject. His object should be to draw out expressions from all, and
to see that each person present understands the subject
thoroughly. An entire session might profitably be spent
sometimes upon one or two pages, or sometimes on one or
two paragraphs. Each one of the Circle should have in
hand some translation of the Bible or a "Dawn."
At the close of each chapter each one of the Circle
should endeavor to give his own brief review of its subject,
to see how clearly he has grasped it, and to impress it upon
himself the more deeply. Having in view that all are
preparing themselves to impart the truth to others, each
should be encouraged to attempt a statement of the subject
discussed, in his own words, but preferably in the order set forth in "DAWN."
In considering this method of Bible study note how
much of interest and profitable conference could be drawn
from the first chapter of Vol. I. The first paragraph calls our
attention to and applies Psalm 30:5:--"Weeping may endure
for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." How
many suggestions this will call up to each child of God
present! (1) The long, dark night of the reign of Sin
and Death each could contrast with the longer glorious
day, just dawning, in which Righteousness and Life shall
reign through Christ's great work. (2) The cause of the
Night, the withdrawal of divine favor because of disobedience,
could be contrasted with the cause of the Morning--
"We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son."
(3) The cause of the weeping and pain, in the Night,--the
curse or righteous sentence--"dying thou shalt die," could
be contrasted with the cause of joy and rejoicing in the
Morning,--"Thy dead men shall live," when "times of
refreshing shall come--times of restitution of all things
which God hath spoken." (Acts 3:19-21.) Each should
be encouraged to tell what he knows experimentally about
the dark night of sin's control, and also his appreciation
of the rays of light from the Sun of Righteousness now
shining, and of the glorious prospects which are thus revealed
to his eye of faith.
The second paragraph is built upon Isaiah 55:8,9;
and it has much food for thought and profitable converse.
[R1868 : page 219] These two paragraphs might well fill the time of one session;
and if the Circle be a large one it might require two sessions
to fully digest them.
The third, fourth and fifth paragraphs consider what
should be our object as truth-seekers, what we should seek,
and what God promises we shall find--John 16:13and
other references coming to mind. Then the sixth paragraph
considers the proper methods for Bible study, and
refers to Eph. 4:11-16; besides which many other references
will occur to the Circle. Paragraphs eight and nine
contrast proper and improper methods of study, and call up
an entirely new set of interesting scriptures. These paragraphs
--third to ninth--would give a grand and helpful
Bible and plan study for a second session of the Circle.
The next seven paragraphs, 10 to 16 inclusive, treat
of the present religious condition of the world, and would
make a wonderful third lesson if rightly used. A TOWER
article on the same subject (Feb. '90, page 3) might also be
introduced here with profit. How many interesting questions
and suggestions come to all minds, some correct and some
incorrect, and how helpful each could be to the other in
building one another up in the most holy faith; and on
leaving for home, how many would appreciate more fully
than ever the general darkness of the world and the value
of the light and of open eyes to see it. And thus we might
progress, every lesson being full of instruction and of correct
applications of Scripture. The Circles will be all
the more interesting if there be present some "believers"
not long in "this way." It would be well to tell your
Christian friends, who show even a little interest in the truth
about the Circle, and invite them to attend from the first. But
should new inquirers come in after the Circle has advanced
some distance, it will not be necessary to go back for their
benefit, for they can at home read up to the present with
such additional brief explanations as the leader may deem
But some one will say, At that rate we would be
fully a year in going through the first volume of MILLENNIAL
DAWN, and the three volumes would require three
years! All the better, we answer: if we are furnished with
spiritual refreshment for years, it is far better than if only
for a day: it is not a case of business rush to "get through
with it" that is our aim, but spiritual refreshment in the
study of God's Word, that we may see clearly for ourselves
and be able to give to him that asketh us a reason
for the hope that is in us. At the close of the series
you would have had under particular, critical examination
hundreds of the most noteworthy texts of Scripture
--words of the Lord's inspired mouthpieces, brought
forward in their appropriate places to illuminate the various
subjects which constitute the burden of divine revelation--
the divine plan, spanning ages. Surely, if the Bible required
nearly two thousand years for its preparation, we
should give it reverent study, and not merely a casual
glance and thought. Besides, when you would have gone
through the subject thus thoroughly, you would doubtless be
so proficient that you could answer promptly any question
respecting it and be prepared to quote the Scriptures fully
in support of your statements. Not only do all need such
thorough study to prepare them "for the work of the ministry,"
but each needs such study for his own protection
from the perils which will increase more and more during
this "evil day."
The method suggested is not merely a reading of the
DAWNS; for that each could do as well at his home and alone.
Our proposition is for a general study of God's great plan of
salvation--a comprehensive study of theology--the use of
the DAWNS merely steering the minds of all into the same
Scriptural channels and assisting in rightly dividing the
Word of Truth. There are no scriptures which cannot be
brought into these studies; for all scriptures are directly or
indirectly related to God's plan. The design includes a
study of the whole Bible in the fullest sense, and the
cooperation of all in bringing forward every text and
thought which could throw light upon the subjects
Knowing the "downwardness" with which all our race
is afflicted, we should, whenever we come together, guard
ourselves and each other by resolving that no communications
shall proceed out of our mouths except such as would
serve to edify one another, and to build one another up
in the most holy faith. This would bar out "gossip" and
[R1869 : page 219] idle talking, and insure our thinking and talking of "whatsoever
things are just and true and pure and of good report."
If each comes to the meeting praying for the Lord's blessing
upon himself and on the others of the Lord's body,
near and far, it will be found helpful. And may grace,
mercy and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord
Jesus Christ, be with us all who thus seek, more and
more, the way, the truth and the life.