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DOOR CLOSED--Harvest Past, Summer Ended.
QUESTION (1910)--1--"The harvest is past, the summer is ended and we are not saved." To whom does this apply?
ANSWER.--I understand that this would seem to apply to a class who would realize that the Bride has been taken and that they are left; such as is described in Revelation, 19th chapter, when the great company is pictured at the time of the fall of Babylon. They are delivered at the time of Babylon's fall, "Let us be glad and rejoice, for the marriage of the Lamb is come (has taken place), and his wife hath made herself ready (and we are left, and disappointed, but nevertheless), let us rejoice, for we see God's plan." That is the time when the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not among the class saved, but we are left, and we are the servant class instead of the Bride. Then a message comes to that class and he that sitteth on the throne sends the message. They were invited to the marriage supper; they were invited to come in and partake of the festivities as mentioned in Psalm 45.
DOOR--Probably Not Yet Closed.
QUESTION (1915-Z)--2--Would there be any prospect for one who consecrates at this time to be of the "Bride" class, or has the Call now ceased?
ANSWER.--We make a distinction between the end of the Public Call and the shutting of the door. We understand that the public Call ended when a sufficient number had been invited and had accepted the invitation--in 1881. But of these invited and accepted ones there was still to be a testing. Only those enduring loyally to the end will be finally counted in as victors. Others, not proving wholly loyal to their Covenant in their daily lives, will in time be dropped from the list, which would mean that they had not been running faithfully. This would continually make vacancies to be filled. But such a filling of vacancies would not require a new Call, but merely a permission for one to enter as one went out.
Our thought is that a large number of those who consecrated prior to 1881 failed to "make good." It is our thought that you are still in time to make your consecration, with every reason for hoping that you may make your calling and election sure by zealous faithfulness in sacrificing earthly interests in favor of the Heavenly.
In any event, the most reasonable thing for any of us to do would be to give ourselves wholly to the Lord, just as soon as we realize our imperfection and the Lord's sufficiency. We should be glad to have Him as our Care-taker, regardless of what reward He would give. We should be sure that so great and so generous a King as God would give good gifts to all who are His. In other words, after the Little Flock is completed, the Lord will be glad to bless in some other manner others who have the spirit of obedience and sacrifice.
DOOR--Shutting of the.
QUESTION (1908)--3--Is the door shut while some are in [Q230] the flesh enduring further testing or is the door shut after the last member of the body is changed?
ANSWER.--You remember the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. The Lord tells us that all of these are virgins. That parable does not take in the world. It only takes in those who were looking for the bridegroom. It leaves out the virgin class--those who were preparing for the wedding: all others of mankind. And this parable of the wise and foolish virgins shows that amongst those who were looking for the Bridegroom, and who were expecting Him, and who were hoping to go into the wedding, there are two classes, the wise ones and the foolish ones; and that the wise ones will be able at that time to discern the fact; will be able to hear the knock of the Bridegroom, and will be awakened by the knock. They will understand that the Bridegroom has come, and they will have oil in their lamps; they will not be in darkness that that day shall overtake them as a thief; they will go forward with this light of knowledge, and follow the Lord in this time, and they will go in with Him to the wedding. As I understand it, this parable is in process of fulfillment now, and many have already gone into the wedding, and others are hoping that they may make such progress in the same way that they will also get into the wedding. Mark you, any time before we go in there is a chance to fall, a chance to turn aside and become a foolish virgin, and give an opportunity for someone who was not a wise virgin to get in amongst those wise virgins, and take his place there. The parable is a progressive one. One might fall out from this number and become foolish, or another one who was foolish might come in and be wise at any time before he gets into the marriage. But eventually when the last elect one shall have gone in, no one else can get in; that is the end of it. When the last one shall have been tested, and perfected, and gone in, the door must be shut, because there is only to be a hundred and forty-four thousand of that class, or whatever the number is, if anyone is disposed to dispute the number and think that it is symbolical. I do not know that it is a literal number; I am inclined to think it is. But no matter whether it is literal or figurative, there is a limited number, a positive number which God has predetermined shall constitute the elect class, and it is for you and me to make our calling and election sure by getting into that elect class. There is a limited number of crowns; "Take heed that no man take thy crown." If there has been a crown set apart for you, and if you have been selected as the one to whom the Lord is pleased to give it, then hold on, do not get foolish, and get out of the ranks, but go on; don't let your oil run low; see that you keep faithful unto the end and you shall have the crown; but if you prove unfaithful, that crown is not yours any longer, and someone will be allowed to take your place. The crown is to be occupied. The door will not shut until the last one is in, because the full number must be there; the door will shut immediately when the last one goes in, because there will not be one in there more than that number. The same thing is pictured in another place where he represents Jesus the Head of the Church which is His body, and we are members in particular of the body of Christ, and that these different members of the body are all complete. You remember the Apostle says, You cannot say [Q231] to the foot, I have no need of you, and to the hand, I have no need of you, etc.; for every part of the body is necessary. In this way the Lord pictures the completeness of His body. In the type no man could serve as a high priest if he had an extra finger or an extra toe, or if he lacked a finger or a toe. Why? Because the high priest in type was a picture of this glorified and perfect church, which will not have one more or one less than the exact number necessary to complete the body.
EARTH--Re Abiding Forever.
QUESTION (1911)--1--How shall we understand the earth to abide forever? In Rev. 21:1, we read, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away and there was no more sea."
ANSWER.--We answer that according to the Bible there have already been two worlds, and the third one is coming, and this earth has been the scene of all these. As, for instance, the Apostle speaks of the world that was before the flood, of the present evil world, because sin is now reigning, and of the world to come wherein dwelleth righteousness. This does not signify three earths, but three different orders or conditions of things in the earth. The condition of things which preceded the flood was different from the present order of things. That condition of things before the flood, 1656 years, was under the ministration of angels; during the present time, from the flood down to the coming of Christ, at his second advent, the world is left in the hands of mankind, and Satan, the prince of this world, taking advantage of men, taking advantage of their ignorance and superstitious fears, has become prince of this world without any divine authority, because he works in the hearts of the children of disobedience, and the children of disobedience are much more numerous than the children of obedience; therefore it is the present evil world. The new dispensation, or new order of things that God will introduce at the second coming of Christ, is spoken of as the new heaven and the new earth, in this same symbolical way. But it will be the same physical earth, the same rocks, the same matter will be here, the sky we now have will be here just the same as before the flood. One world has passed, and another world or dispensation has come, and a new world or dispensation is about to be ushered in. The new one will be different from either of the others, because Christ will be the prince of that world, the prince of peace, and the government of that dispensation will be altogether righteous. He who sits on the throne says, "I will make all things new." They will all be made new, dear friends.
Again, in the Scripture symbolical language we have this to notice, that the heavens are used symbolically as representing the ecclesiastical or spiritual powers. For instance, the heavens of the present time in this symbolic language of the Bible are the religious systems of the present time, while the heavens of the future age will be the church in glory. The earth at the present time is the present social order of things, society as at present organized on the basis of selfishness; and the mountains represent the kingdoms of this world, and the rivers represent the truth, and the seas represent the masses [Q232] of mankind who are unstable, restless. And the Lord pictures a change in this respect, that all of these things are to made over new--a new order of society under the domination of Messiah, and there will be no more sea in the sense that there will be no more people who are in that restless, dissatisfied condition. To him every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess. This present order of things will pass away and give way to the new order of things. This word "World" is translated from three different Greek words, and our comprehension of this word has been correspondingly rather confused.
EARTH--Was it Perfect Before Adam Fell.
QUESTION (1913)--l--Was the earth perfect before Adam fell.? And what does it mean that God saw that it was good?
ANSWER.--The Lord, having brought the earth to the condition which was pleasing to Him, said, "It is good," it is all right, and the condition was, we understand, one in which there was one corner of the earth, a little space called the Garden of Eden, which was brought to full perfection. We may suppose that our Heavenly Father, if He had so chosen, could have made the whole earth the Garden of Eden, but it would not be like God to make the whole earth like the Garden of Eden and then curse it. We understand, therefore, that merely the Garden was prepared for man, and that the rest of the earth was very good in God's sight, because that was the condition in which God intended it to be. God did not want to make the whole earth like the Garden, and ask one man to attend to it. He could not have meant the whole earth to be kept dressed, but He said to this one man, "Be fruitful, bring forth children, multiply your children, fill the earth, an earth full of children, and subdue the earth;" that is to say: It is not in a subjected condition except the Garden of Eden, but as your children increase in number, and you need some more land, go out and take in that much more. As Adam's family grew larger, they would take in a corresponding amount of land, and thus would be subduing the earth, and they would not have more than they could attend to at any one time.
EDEN--Location of Garden.
QUESTION (1911)--2--Where was the Garden of Eden? Have they ever found a place where a river parted and came into four heads?
ANSWER.--They do claim there is such a place over near Macedonia; I have never seen it. I do not know how well the claim is founded. But if there is such a place, it has survived the ravages of the flood in a very remarkable way. I would not expect any traces of the Garden of Eden if I believed in the flood, and I do believe in the flood. I do not think it would leave any more signs of the Garden of Eden than it would of any other garden.
ELDERS--Re Authority in Church.
QUESTION (1909)--3--Is an elder elected merely to do the bidding of the Ecclesia, and act as a moderator in the meetings, or has he greater responsibility?
ANSWER.--Authority cannot be greater than the giver of the authority. In other words, if the Church confers upon [Q233] an elder his responsibility by electing him, the Church had the responsibility at first or it could not have given it to the elder, and the elder therefore should assume the authority so far as the congregation will allow. If his conscience will not allow him to do certain things, then it would seem to be the proper thing to tell the congregation his attitude of mind and to say that, if they wished, they could ask for his resignation and he would gladly give it. The elder is not to violate his conscience to serve the congregation, and the congregation is not to violate its conscience in having the elder serve them. The elder shall serve the Church, according to its wishes, up to the point where his conscience objects.
I might say further that the Scriptures say that the Holy Spirit makes the elder the overseer through the stretching forth of the hands; thus it is applied to the Ecclesia and operates through them first.
ELDERS--Holding Meeting to Discuss Interests of the Class.
QUESTION (1910)--1--Do the Scriptures favor and do you think it would be wise for the elders of each class, or different classes, to meet together for conference respecting the interest of the classes they represent?
ANSWER.--I think that the Scriptures do favor that, and I think that is advisable. That is the very case we have before our minds this evening, when the Apostle Paul called the elders of the Church at Ephesus. He called them together as a company of elders to confer respecting the interests of the Church. He, as an elder, or as a pastor, had charge, and was there communing with them respecting the interests of the Church. If it were wrong for the elders to meet together concerning the matter, it would have been wrong for the Apostle Paul to have held such a meeting, in my judgment; and I think we do well to consider that a safe criterion to go by and that it would be well for the elders to come together to consider the interests of the Church. But let me guard you on a point there. I think it would be injurious if the elders were to come together in the sense of determining or proposing to run the Church. That is another matter, you see. To come together to think about the interests of the Church, etc., and then to undertake to run the Church, are two different things. Suppose the elders were to meet, and they thought of something that would be good for the Church, in their judgment. I think that unless it was a matter specially entrusted to them by vote of the congregation and fully understood--if it was any new proposition about which there might be any doubt or question whatever it would be the right and the proper course for these elders to submit the matter to the congregation with a recommendation, saying, We, in considering the interests of the congregation, have such a thought in mind, and now we submit it to you and would ask your vote on it. That is the safe plan. I have found that some of the very best brethren, with the very best of intentions, and with very good suggestions, in attempting to put them into operation without conferring with the class, have run against the hair, so to speak--just as when you try to stroke a dog against the hair it goes rough, and the dog does not like it. So the congregation does not like it because it seems like ruling them, [Q234] and doing something that they had not specially authorized. My thought is that it is always wise if you are going to stroke a dog, to stroke him the direction the hair grows. And so if you are going to deal with a congregation, remember that human nature runs in a certain line and try to keep in that line and not ruffle it up any more than is necessary. Every member of the Church has human nature; he has a mortal body, and has more or less combativeness in it, more or less desire not to be overridden; you will find that all those who are in the truth are especially large along this line. They must have some force of character or else they never could be overcomers. And this very quality that makes them what they are and has helped them out of Babylon, is the very quality that will be wanting to have a little spar, and sometimes a little battle, but if we say, Now then this is something new, this has not been voted on, and we feel sure they will all want it, but let us submit it to the congregation with our recommendation--then you have the congregation going with you.
ELDER--Work of Presiding Elder.
QUESTION (1913)--1--What is the work of a presiding elder?
QUESTION (1914)--2--In a case a brother who had been an acceptable elder of a class for many years because of a difficulty in the class failed of election--would that necessarily unfit him for giving lessons in neighboring classes where known--if these classes chose to invite him, saying his lessons were helpful? Would he be unfitted for extension work? Would certain members of his home class be justified in using their influence to prevent such service, providing he was not proven unsound in doctrine?
ANSWER.--The elder having failed of election in the class which he had been serving would not be disqualified for service in other places, if the friends there, using their best judgment, thought he was a fit person to serve them as an elder. Every one is entitled to use their judgment. Suppose the class who rejected this brother did so for the reason of unsoundness in moral character or teaching. Then I think it would be quite within the brotherly privilege and duty of this class to call the matter to the attention of the other class who elected him. If they elected him, the first class might send word, "We wish to advise you as brethren, that there is such a matter against him and we thought it our duty to inform you on the matter."
As for the class extension work, it would be improper for anybody to serve the class in extension work if not an elder, because the class sends out, in co-operation with the Society, only those who are elders. If not, the Society does not desire to co-operate in their going forth in this manner. If, however, he went to the other class and they chose him as elder and they chose to send him out in the class extension work, that is their business and his. Or if he chooses to go without responsibility to the class or the society, that is his [Q235] business. He is working on his own responsibility. God has given us that right. And if he has the talent of means and also of speaking, and wishes to use these, we believe he has a perfect right to do so. He would have the call if he has been begotten of the Holy Spirit. "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature."
ELDERS--Why Should Elders be Carefully Chosen?
QUESTION (1916-Z)--1--Why should elders be carefully chosen?
ANSWER.--Because the spirit of service should be the spirit, not only of the Pilgrims, or the Elders of the Church of Christ, but the spirit of every member of it; for in a large sense each one of us is privileged to be a minister, or servant, in writing the Message of God's grace in the hearts of others.
But let us not forget that we shall not know how to write in the hearts of others what we have not already had written in our own hearts. Hence the propriety of great caution in the choosing of Elders--to find those who already have the writing of the Lord in their hearts, and who therefore will be competent assistants, under the Holy Spirit's guidance, for the writing of the Lord's character-likeness in the hearts of the younger brethren.
And what is the Message, what is the Epistle, that is written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit through various agencies? Is it the knowledge of chronology? Is it the unraveling of types and shadows? Is it the cracking of hard theological nuts in respect to differently understood passages of Scripture? Is it the knowledge of the history of the Jews, the history of the world, the history of the Church? Is it the understanding and appreciation of the different Covenants, past, present, and to come? No, it is none of these. And thus with these characteristics of the Master deeply engraved upon our hearts, we shall be granted an abundant entrance "into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."-- 2 Pet 1:8,11.
All of these subjects have more or less of value, and are more or less used of the Lord in connection with this writing that is to be done in the hearts of His people. But writing the Epistle of Christ is different--the writing, the tracing of the character-likeness of the Master in the hearts of His people--His meekness, His gentleness, His patience, His long-suffering, His brotherly kindness, His love, His joy, His peace.
We might have all knowledge respecting chronology and history, might be able to quote every text in the Bible, and to cite it, too; and yet not have the Epistle of Christ written in our hearts. It is the Epistle of which the Apostle Peter says, "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren [idle, inactive] nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ;" for knowledge will have its place.
ELECTION--Women Teachers in the Church.
QUESTION (1905)--2--Please inform me if women are elected as leader's in the Allegheny Church? If not, why not? It has been said that such are elected.
ANSWER.--No, that is not the case, there are no sisters elected in the Allegheny Church. The Lord did not elect [Q236] sisters as apostles or as the seventy, and Jesus loved the sisters. He loved Martha and Mary, as well as Lazarus, their brother. The Lord never appointed the sisters as speakers in the church, and we have no authority to speak differently. I always think the Lord's plan is the best. By the time I begin to doubt the Lord's ability to run the church here I would doubt his ability to run heaven. It is for us to walk in His path, not to get a path of our own and ask the Lord to walk in our path.
QUESTION (1909)--1--Is there any Scriptural reason against the election of a chairman of the elders in an Ecclesia, where there are from three to seven elders, and quite an amount of business to be handled at times?
ANSWER.--No. In fact, order is demanded. Unless the Church has indicated which should be the chairman, it is preferable that the elders themselves should choose the chairman.
QUESTION (1909)--2--Give the Scriptural qualifications for the election of Elders and Deacons.
ANSWER.--See the Sixth Volume, which has more than forty pages on that subject. I think it would be well for the leader to call attention to the matter a month before election, and suggest the reading of the matter in the Sixth Volume so that all might have the matter fully in mind.
ELECTION--Number of Elders to be Elected.
QUESTION (1910)--3--As a class, we are trying to elect according to the sixth volume of Millennial Dawn, but we could not all understand it alike. It seemed in one place that all who were suitable for elders should be elected, and then in another place that it was to elect elders according to the size of the ecclesia; and we got up a disagreement, and wrote you on the subject and you did not seem to understand why the trouble came up. That was the trouble, that some understood that, say there was a half dozen who were equally suitable for elders, we might elect all, and that if the class only numbered a dozen or two, we should only elect according to the class we had. For instance, if we had ten, we could elect one; if we had twenty-five we might elect two, and so on.
ANSWER.--How about this matter of electing elders? Should all of those who have qualifications for an elder be elected, or only, say, about ten per cent of the number? Say if the class numbered fifty, ten per cent would be five, and if there were one hundred, ten per cent would he ten? My answer would be this: To my understanding, all of those who manifest the qualifications for an elder would properly be elected elders. So that if in a class of six they were all equally qualified to serve as elders, I would elect the whole six, and then as they would take turns in service it would give an opportunity also to go out and hold meetings elsewhere. God bless them--the more elders there are the better! But I think it is quite doubtful if out of a class of six they would find six that were well suited to be the elders but if there were six and all of them had qualifications for service I would be willing for all to serve. I understand it is God's will that everyone anointed of the holy Spirit is [Q237] anointed to teach. You remember the way it reads in the prophecy of our Lord Jesus--The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the good tidings to the meek. Now whoever receives the Holy Spirit has an anointing from the Father to teach. That is what the anointing is for. That is his authority to teach. That is his ordination, if you please, to teach. Then if he has a good voice that is something; if he has a good memory that is another thing; if he has other things that are harmonious with these, all of them go together, and he is authorized to teach in proportion to his talent. Now in case of a sister, there are limitations. A sister may not teach publicly, but a sister has many other ways of teaching. She has plenty of opportunities of helping along and preaching the good tidings. We can all preach by our daily lives--not only those who occupy the platform have the opportunity of preaching, for we are all preachers--and are all preaching I hope.
Someone asked me one time, How many preachers have you amongst you? I said We have about twenty odd thousand. "My goodness!" he said. I said, brother I do not want to misinform you. To my understanding, all of the Lord's people are anointed to preach. Sometimes we preach publicly and sometimes privately. Sometimes we just preach to one person and sometimes to a congregation of two hundred, and sometimes to a congregation of ten thousand.
ELECTION--The Lord's Will Expressed.
QUESTION (1910)--1--We understand in election of officers the ecclesia expresses the voice of the Lord. After we have elected a brother to serve us as an elder, and we afterwards find out he does not prove what we thought he was, do we understand that it is a mistake of the class, or a mistake of the Lord.?
ANSWER.--It is not necessary to think it would be a mistake of either. It would seem to imply that the class had not exercised a sufficiency of care. They should have known better before they elected anybody to be an elder. The Apostle says not to elect a novice. You have no right to elect a novice. If you do, it serves you right. Perhaps you will get a good lesson from having a novice in for a while, and if the friends in that class have done something of that kind, perhaps it will be profitable in the end and they will learn to be more careful the next time. Now for the Lord to allow them to get a lesson in that way is not proving that the Lord did not know better, but he has allowed them to suffer for not following his directions but electing a novice. A novice is one who is new at the matter, and if he was new at the matter they should have known about it, because they should have known what he was before they voted for him.
ELECTION--Re Appointing Chair-Woman.
QUESTION (1910)--2--When an election is being held, and an elder wished to put somebody in the chair for the purpose of carrying on an election, would it be proper to put a sister in the chair for that purpose.?
ANSWER.--I do not think I would be inclined to do so, unless it was a case where there was some misunderstanding in the class, where the brother or brothers would be unacceptable. It would only be under some very peculiar [Q238] circumstance that I would favor asking a sister to act as the chairman of such a meeting. I would not say there would never be such a case, but I would think it would be an exceptional one.
ELECTION--Re Both Consecrated and Justified Voting?
QUESTION (1910)--1--In the election in the ecclesia, should it at all times be understood that only the consecrated believers should vote, or should justified believers also vote?
ANSWER.--We said just a few moments ago, that we think it should be definitely stated before the vote is taken that only the consecrated are entitled to a vote at all times on any Church question, because none others are members of the Church, which is the Body of Christ. If the congregation ever wish to ask some question about where the meeting shall be held, that would be a different matter. There would be a question, and you would say, We are thinking about moving from this meeting place to another meeting place, and we will ask all the friends--not merely the consecrated, because all are interested in that--we will ask all the whole household of faith to express themselves as to time and place. But on any question like electing servants of the Church, or any such matter as that, it would be for the consecrated only.
ELECTION--Re Colporteurs Voting.
QUESTION (1910)--2--How about colporteurs who are in town for a short time, if they meet with the class should they vote?
ANSWER.--I should think that if he had no knowledge of the condition of the class, that he would be wiser to say, Brethren, I have not sufficient knowledge here to justify me in offering my vote, therefore I think I will decline. But if the colporteur had been there a few days, or a few weeks, as the case might be, and expected to be there for some more weeks or months, I should think he was as much entitled to a vote as anybody else. He is not debarred by reason of being a colporteur, but rather it would be something in his favor. He is one who is showing his consecration by the devotion of his life.
ELECTION--Re Visiting Brethren Voting.
QUESTION (1910)--3--As to the qualification of the voters, you stated one who is consecrated had a vote. How about those visiting an ecclesia? Does a certain amount of time, or a declaration that they intend to remain, tend to qualify them?
ANSWER.--Our thought would be that it would be proper enough in calling for the vote to say that all of God's consecrated people here present tonight--or whatever time it was--who have the expectation of meeting with this class are earnestly invited to vote, and it is hoped that any who do not intend to meet with some degree of regularity with the congregation will not vote, and that any who are not fully consecrated will not vote, because this seems to be the will of the Lord in the matter. It is to be an expression of the Church at a certain place and the Church at that place is the number who are consecrated. The fact that a brother or sister had only recently come to live in the city, in my judgment, make no difference, because we are [Q239] all one in Christ, whether we live in Jamestown, or Brooklyn, or Pittsburgh, or New Orleans, or some other place.
ELECTION--Attitude of Elders Not Approved.
QUESTION (1910)--1--I would like to ask in case of a brother who had been elected an elder and who had been found fault with, if it would not be a wise plan at the end of his time, to decline re-election?
ANSWER.--I believe if I were in that position, I would do about this way. I should think out some other brother in the congregation and I would nominate him; but if I were nominated, then I would say, Now, brethren, I have served you to the best of my ability and I know I have come short of pleasing you, and I want you to know I did the best I could for you, but I did not please you, I know, for several of you told me I did not, and I tried to improve on it all I could, but apparently I did not improve enough, because you still found fault--at least some of you did. And I am not finding fault with you--I presume the fault is with myself. I am sure I am not all I would like to be, and I cannot serve you as I would like to serve you, and so I think it would probably be better for you to take my advice. I have nominated brother so and so, and I advise that you elect him for a period of time--three months, or six months, or whatever you choose--and perhaps he can please us all better. I assure you I will try to support him and do all in my power to uphold his hands. I would earnestly try to get the other brother elected, but if, in spite of everything they said, No, we are going to elect you, even if we did find fault with you, I would say to them, perhaps I cannot do any better the next time than I did the last; the responsibility is with you, because I am telling you I am doing the best I can now. So do not feel hard at me if I do not please you all. I would tell them squarely and they would know where to find me, but if they chose me by anything like a large majority, say ninety per cent or so of the congregation preferring me, why I would count that the voice of the Lord, and would say, I must not decline now. I certainly would not decline in any offensive way and say. No, you found fault with me and I won't have it now. That would be wrong, I think. We do not want to have that spirit. We would want to think the brother, no doubt, had good reason to find fault (supposing this to be so); I am sure that none of us are so nearly perfect they would not have room to find fault, occasionally, any way, and if they do find fault let us bear it and try to get good out of it and be humble about the matter, and perhaps that will keep us from getting heady and falling over.
QUESTION (1910)--2--In the election of elders would it be your thought that it would be proper for one of the present acting elders to make a nomination instead of one of the class making the nomination?
ANSWER.--I would understand that when the period of time for which he was elected elder has expired, he is not an elder any longer, therefore he is just as much one of the class and could make a nomination just the same as anybody else, for he is the same as any of the others. He does not hold over. And I want to say right here that I think it a very unwise proposition for anyone who has been an elder [Q240] to occupy the chair and to hold the election if it is possible to have it otherwise.
It is always desirable, if possible, to ask some intelligent brother to act as chairman who will be perfectly fair and honest, and one who perhaps would not have, or would not likely be considered to have, the qualifications for an elder. And thus anyone would be saved from any imputation of having favored himself, and the congregation would be saved from having to vote against the man who was nominated and who was right before them in the church, and he would be saved the embarrassment of putting the vote in his own case and also the embarrassment, if not elected, of seeing the majority against him and saying so. It might not always be possible, but if possible, I think it desirable to have somebody else other than the one who is likely to be nominated as an elder in the chair.
ELECTION--Electing by Ballot.
QUESTION (1910)--1--Would it lead to greater harmony to elect elders by ballot without nominations at all, and let those who had the majority of the votes be so elected?
ANSWER.--Well, our opinion would be perhaps a little bit confused. I could say something in favor of either way, but the thing I do think of is, that the Lord did not arrange it that way; the Lord arranged it through the stretching forth of the hand. I admit it may be an easier way sometimes to just ballot, say nothing, and let nobody know how you voted, but is it wise to depart from the way the Lord has directed? If the class decided to vote by ballot, it is not my business to over- ride the class, and even if I gave them the advice and they did not wish to take it, it is still not my business to overrule the class. I am not to be like the juryman who said the other eleven jurors were very stubborn. So it is not for us to feel that the other were all stubborn because they would not think as we do; having expressed ourselves, let us leave it to the judgment and vote of the class, and leave that result with the Lord and if they find they made a mistake they will know it the next time and be more careful; they will learn a lesson; and if we did wisely we will learn a lesson, but I believe, brethren, I would always use my influence in favor of the method that seems to be outlined in the Scripture and it has this to be said in its advantage, that it teaches the class to have a kind of moral courage. Will I hold out my hand in favor of some person that I do not believe is suitable for that office, simply because he is a relative of mine? No, to my God I must be true.
QUESTION (1910)--2--Where a brother is nominated for Elder, how much should we be inclined to discuss him before the election? Where should we draw the line?
ANSWER.--I would hardly think it would be proper to give much discussion to those who are candidates for service in the Church. The Apostle, you remember, gives suggestions that if we bite and devour one another we might be consumed one of another. Should you stand my brother up before the congregation, and find fault with the way he parts his hair or with the color of his clothes, and the number of children he has in his family, and one thing and [Q241] another, you might find plenty to discuss, and by the time you had him thoroughly overhauled and curry-combed it might be your turn. So the whole class might have an experience of that kind, but it would not be very profitable. Now my thought would be this: that it is not necessary to have very much discussion of the characters of the brethren, because the suggestion is that each one in voting for a brother for any service in the Church should have some knowledge of him, and if he has not the knowledge by personal acquaintance, then he should guide himself by the judgment of another brother. As, for instance, if I had come recently into a class of say, a dozen, and I had only become partially acquainted with the friends in that class, and I did not know anything against any of them, but knew something in favor of all of them, and suppose that the time came for election, and I noticed one or two brethren whom I saw to be very clear and very straightforward and that I had a great deal of confidence in, and if this brother made the nomination of another brother, and I had not a particular acquaintance with that brother, but simply did not know anything against him, I think I would feel justified in voting for him, because this brother who nominated him apparently knew something in his favor. If I had acquaintance with the brother who nominated him, I would thus be having a second-hand acquaintance with the one who was nominated. I hope I make myself clear. Now I believe, without special discussion of anybody's character, it should be understood before the vote is taken that each person who is going to exercise the power of voting is first of all a believer in the Lord, and has turned from sin and made a full consecration of himself, that only that class are to vote and those voting are to seek to vote as they believe the Lord would have them vote, and not otherwise. I believe that would be all that would be necessary, that a sufficient weight or responsibility would rest upon them so they would not likely vote irreverently for somebody they know nothing about, but they would seek to be guided by the judgment or counsel of others whom they had reason to believe or know. And if a mistake apparently was made, if apparently the wrong person were elected, what then? Well, I would conclude that the wrong thing had been done. I think the proper thing would be to think that a lesson was going to be taught the class of greater care in whom they should elect, and if therefore they did rashly in making a selection that would be a good lesson for them, and the next time when the matter of election would come up perhaps they would learn to be more careful, and perhaps the Lord's will would be that just such a lesson should be learned by that class to make them more careful. In any event, I would cast the weight of my influence in any class against any such thing as tearing any of the Lord's people to pieces. I have known some cases in which brethren perhaps had things that could really be said against them and yet perhaps these things belonged to an early period of their lives and they were entirely changed from the time these things were true of them and therefore my thought would be that that might be so in other cases, and I would cast my influence against any such ripping and tearing amongst the Lord's sheep. I would think it would cultivate the spirit [Q242] of the wolf in the sheep and therefore should be discouraged. If, however, a brother who was prominent in the congregation were asked by the others, What do you think about this nomination? or if he thought it proper to in any way give an intimation, it would not be improper for him to say, My dear brethren, the nomination you have heard and I have been asked to give some advice, and all that I will say on the subject is, that I think it would be God's will that I should vote thus and so. That puts him straight, and that will carry to some extent with those with whom he has influence and if he has no influence it ought not to carry.
ELECTION--Record of Those Not Voting.
QUESTION (1910)--1--Should we keep any account of those who fail to vote?
ANSWER.--Well, my own practice is to try to set the matter so fully before the vote is taken that every one present will feel that he and she has responsibility--a responsibility to vote for or against the candidate; that if one has a sufficiency of knowledge to permit of a vote, or is of the consecrated class, intending to meet with the congregation, he has a responsibility to vote; that it is not merely optional whether he will vote or not, but it is his duty to express himself thus. I think if that is emphasized in advance of taking the vote and all the dear friends can see the responsibility, very few will be inclined then to shirk. It needs to be stated beforehand very plainly.
ELECTION--Following Apostolic Custom of Electing Seven.
QUESTION (1911)--2--In appointing elders for an ecclesia, should we not follow the apostolic Pattern, and appoint seven? If not, why not?
ANSWER.--I know of no apostolic pattern of appointing seven. If there is any pattern of that kind, I would be one of those most pleased to find out all about it. I remember about the apostle appointing seven deacons. I never heard anything about seven elders; it is news to me. Besides, if we are thinking about deacons it would have no bearing, because they elected such deacons as were considered necessary under the circumstances. Suppose there was a congregation that only had about six in it; how could they appoint seven elders and seven deacons then? The Lord says that a church may be as small as two or three--"where two or three are met in my name, I will be in their midst." You have our views on this subject more particularly set forth in the sixth volume of Scripture Studies.
ELECTION--Qualified Except Not Immersed.
QUESTION (1911)--3--If a brother were qualified according to the New Testament to be chosen an elder, but had not been immersed by anyone, would that, in your understanding, be a sufficient reason or cause for not appointing such a brother as an elder?
ANSWER.--It would be. Not that we think water baptism is essential in the sense our Baptist friends would say--not that we think it is anything more than a symbol, but the brother who had not yet been able to see so simple a symbol as baptism, must be blind on that point, anyway, and if blind on one point, how many more might he be [Q243] blind on? I would wait until he would begin to see on that point before I would put him in to teach anybody else, who, perhaps, had seen more than he already. Understand, we do not make water baptism a test of brotherhood at all, and such a brother not having been immersed, should be made welcome, according to our understanding at the Lord's table, or as a brother in the Lord in every sense of the word; but it is one thing to recognize one as a brother of the Lord, and a member of the body in every way, and another thing to recognize him as competent to teach. My opinion is that one competent to teach is one that has already seen one of the simplest points in the New Testament, that the Lord and the apostles all practiced water immersion in symbol of the real immersion--consecration.
ELECTION--Any Time. No Special Date.
QUESTION (1911)--l--What is your opinion in regard to placing a brother of ability on a program for a discourse on special occasions, providing he has not been elected an elder, and yet has the spiritual requirements, some earthly circumstance having hindered his election?
ANSWER.--Well, I should think it would be very easy to have him elected if the class thought well. Make a proposition of it and take a vote; that would settle it very quickly. He could be elected any time. It is not necessary to elect an elder at a certain, particular date. He could be elected in the middle of the year or the next month after, or any time, if it is found to be necessary, and if the class considers he is a suitable person. I should think it would be very well in such a case as this to have the matter brought to the attention of the class, consider it for a month or so, and on a certain Sunday ask the class to vote on the question. That would be giving them full opportunity, and if they voted, then the vote would decide.
ELECTION--Serving Without Appointment.
QUESTION (1911)--2--We read some place that no brother should assume public duties in the church as leader, teacher, representative, etc., without an election , even though assured that there is no question respecting his acceptability. And also it is made positive in other places the same thing. Now in the face of this, is it not wrong for our elders of the ecclesia to meet separate from the nineteen deacons and separate from the church and appoint a deacon, or a teacher, or representative of the ecclesia to the position which the Lord says must be occupied by a regular ordained elder?
ANSWER.--In considering this question we should remember the Apostle's words and also the Scriptural illustration given. We have the case of Saint Stephen, you remember who was a chosen Deacon in the church as recorded in the Book of Acts, and Saint Stephen got a good chance to preach and he did not say, "Now Brother I was not chosen an elder, and therefore I cannot say anything here" but he went right ahead and preached, and the Lord blessed him a great deal, and he had a fine time--and got stoned to death. And he got the good mark of being the first Christian martyr next to his Lord. Then let us remember what the Apostle again says--I will read a little between the lines here--he says that one who is a deacon and serves his [Q244] position well and shows humility in his service, purchases to himself a good degree. That is to say, a good degree of liberty and of privilege, and of opportunity. In other words, the congregation should notice, when voting with respect to those who shall serve as elders, those whom they have previously selected as deacons, and see how careful they were, and how faithful they were, because if they were not faithful as deacons in doing some secular part of the work, there would be no reason to expect they would be properly faithful as elders. That they would be purchasing to themselves a good degree of preferment, and honor in the church by their faithfulness as deacons is the thought of the Apostle. My thought is that in the early church the arrangement was that deacons would be a class who would be gradually making more progress toward eldership, and a more prominent service of the truth, in the manner that the deacons primarily would be chosen for some other kind of service, but they would be there as a sort of reserve supply, so that if there were an elder short for any service there would be a deacon, and a proper committee would look over the deacons and say, "Suppose we try that brother with such a meeting tonight"; and then another time this committee might say, "Suppose we try that other deacon for the meeting tonight"; we have need of someone for the night, try him." Thus they would be trying them to see to what extent they would have ability. Otherwise the deacons would have very little opportunity for ever attaining to anything or for manifesting any ability they might possess in respect to the service of the church. Anything therefore that is written in the Scripture Studies was not intended to be in conflict with that thought, for that is the thought we have always entertained, and which we believe to be the Scriptural one, and which is practiced in Brooklyn and other places.
I am not sure that I understand the brother's point well, but this would be a further answer, perhaps more in comportment with his thought. I would not think it would be a proper thing that if the congregation choose just four or five as elders that these four or five men should then come in and select another one from amongst the deacons and make him practically an elder. I would not think that to be their province. If the church wanted that brother for an elder, and regular servant in that capacity, it would be their duty to say so. If the elders find they had not a sufficient supply, they might very properly at another meeting of the church inquire whether the church would be pleased to elect another elder, as there was need, apparently, for another; but if it were only a temporary need, and if it were understood with the congregation that they wished the elders to select from time to time deacons from here or there who seemed to be showing some ability to fill a temporary necessity I would think it a very proper thing; but not for him to he put in as an elder when the congregation did not put him in as an elder.
ELECTION--Voting Over Again.
QUESTION (from the audience) (1911)--1--In case a person should receive within two or three votes of the seventy-five per cent, would it be wise to vote a second time on the person so as to bring the votes up to the number required to elect him? [Q245]
ANSWER.--I would think there would be no objection to that or even making it unanimous. What we want to get at is not merely some little catch matter, but to get the sentiment of the class and to have the full expression of the mind of the class. Anything that is merely a friction arrangement should be avoided as much as possible. If a class decided they would make a seventy-five per cent rule in their election, that would not be binding for another election, but it might be merely binding for that one time. If they choose the next time to have the same seventy-five per cent rule, and if someone came very near having it, but not quite, and it was moved to reconsider this vote and take it again, and it was found then to be larger than the amount decided upon, the class has a perfect right to regulate the matter as it pleases.
ELECTION--Re Jury Rule.
QUESTION (1911)--1--In the sixth volume of Scripture Studies we read that majority is not sufficient, but the jury rule should prevail in the choosing of elders in the church. Now if so, is not that the wisest course to pursue in electing deacons? We read there that the same order shall prevail in the choosing of both elders and deacons.
ANSWER.--In this matter we were not seeking to lay down a law; we would have no right to make a law; we were merely offering a suggestion of what we believed would be a wise course for the church. For instance, in a class if a bare majority were allowed to dictate the policy, there might be a very large minority, nearly as large in number as the majority, that would be wholly dissatisfied; and a majority of but one, for instance, might rule such a class in a very arbitrary way; and our suggestion was that a class should try to arrange by its voting and should so select elders as, if possible, to please and satisfy everyone in the class. Therefore, as far as possible, the mere majority rule should be ignored and as far as possible the so-called jury rule should obtain--not that we would say it must be a jury rule--but that as far as possible a unanimity of sentiment in the class should be obtained. It is not always possible to get the whole class to think just the same on the subject of who should he deacon or elder in a congregation, but whatever rule is observed would be equally appropriate to observe in respect to deacons as in respect to the elders. Whoever is elected for any service, the congregation should see to it that as far as possible they yield little points to each other where no principle is involved, so as to try to have everybody satisfied and pleased in those who will be the servants of the congregation.
ELECTION--Absent Member Voting by Letter.
QUESTION (1912)--2--Where Elders are elected by stretching forth the hand--nominations having taken place two Sundays previous, would it be permissible where two or three members of the class are not able to be present, to send their vote by letter to the chairman?
ANSWER.--There is nothing objectionable in it. In politics there is a party spirit trying to take advantage of the other party. It is not so with you, however. When you meet to have an election of Elders you want every brother and sister to have the fullest opportunity of expression. You are not merely willing but you want them every [Q246] one, to give expression of themselves. We do not want to have their own opinion merely, but we want to find out what is the Divine will for the Ecclesia. Let us all express what we think to be God's will in the matter. I see no objection to those who are absent sending their proxy or vote to the chairman of the meeting. If you are present you can give your vote for whomsoever you care, but it would be no proxy for you to give another brother or sister power to vote for you as he or she thought best. That is my opinion in this matter.
ELECTION--Foreign Brethren for English Meetings.
QUESTION (1913)--1--Do you advise electing a foreign brother, German or Swedish, who speaks the English language imperfectly, for a public speaker?
ANSWER.--I would advise, if there be enough in the class of that foreign language to constitute a class, that such a speaker would be a preferable one, and might very properly be elected. As, for instance, in the Brooklyn congregation as an illustration, we have a French brother who is very well qualified to lead a class in French. We have an Italian brother who is well qualified to lead a class in Italian. We have a Swedish brother, also. Not that these friends do not understand something of English, but they prefer their own tongue a little bit; they would rather have somebody who is familiar with their own tongue. We think that is very proper. So with the colored brethren; we have colored classes-- different nationalities. It is remarkable how many different kinds there are in that congregation.
ELECTION--Re Non Qualified.
QUESTION (1913)--2--Where one does not seem to be competent to fill the qualifications of an elder would you advise not electing elders and electing Pastor Russell as elder?
ANSWER.--Such questions are rather delicate ones to discuss, and it is hard to know just what is best to advise. My advice in general is that the friends act as wisely and discreetly as possible. I think one difficulty has been and perhaps still is that the Lord's people do not realize fully the will of the Lord in such a matter. They get the impression that the Apostle in laying down the qualifications of an elder in writing to Timothy and Titus is laying down hard and fast rules, and that every elder must come up to the very highest notch in all of those requirements. Now such would be a perfect man, a very good elder surely, no doubt about that. And so would all other Christians if they could come up to all the Apostle writes there. You say, Why did the Apostle make such definite statements if he really did not mean to be understood in the absolute essence of all that? We answer, He was stating the matter just the same as Jesus did on another occasion when He said to all the church, Be ye like unto your Father which is in Heaven. Now, are you like your Father in Heaven? Well, you say, I am trying to be. Very well, my dear brother, that is right. Well, are you like your Father? You are in some respects--you are in your mind. Well, are you in all the words and actions and thoughts? No, I am not like the Father in everything, but I am trying to get more and more of the character-likeness of God. Good. Now just so the Apostle here holds up before the church the standard [Q247] of an elder; that is what an elder should be. When you are thinking of elders, look at that, and have that in mind when you are measuring the brethren that are available, and those who do not to some extent have these qualifications would not be fit at all, and then select to the best of your ability. If we wait until we get perfect elders we will never have any elders at all. So I would not say either that Brother Russell would make a perfect elder, nor any other person. But I believe there might be cases in which the conditions would be such that it might be better not to elect anybody for a time to be elder. There are such cases, but I think they ought to be very rare. I would hope so. It is one of those cases that are very difficult to advise in. There are so many things that bear on the subject, and each little class and each member of the class must be as wise as possible, as thoughtful and considerate as possible, loyal to God and the principles of righteousness as much as possible, and pray and seek to follow the Divine leading. And then if a whole class, or a goodly majority of the class, decide on a certain course, do not feel as though the class might vote, but your will must be done, but say, "Well, all right, the class has voted, and it was fairly stated; I stated my opinion, and they do not think the same as I, and I am not the one to coerce the class; I am in the minority and I will be subject to the others in the class, and I will co-operate with them, not work against them to show that what I said was the right way, and if it did not go my way it would be all wrong. No, I must be in harmony with God and must do to the best of my ability now with whatever the class has decided on, co-operating to the best of my ability to permit peace and righteousness and forward the cause of the truth, and be a peacemaker." Do not forget that. All of God's people want to learn that Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God." And remember that necessarily all of the Lord's people in order to be overcomers will have more or less of the combative disposition; you could not be an overcomer without a little of it. You will have to be combative enough to overcome the world, and peacemaker enough not to fight with the brethren. Do not fight with the brethren any more than you can help, but be just as kind, sympathetic and helpful to them as you can be.
ELECTION--Who Are to Vote?
QUESTION (1913-Z)--1--Who are entitled to vote in the church?
ANSWER.--It should always be remembered that none are to vote except those professing full consecration, manifested by the usual symbol--immersion in water. Such as have not symbolized their consecration are not to be disowned as brethren, but should be considered so immature as not to be competent to express an opinion in respect to who would be qualified to serve the Church, and, of course, would not be qualified to be servants themselves.
ELECTION--Choosing Elders and Deacons.
QUESTION (1913-Z)--2--Should a bare majority rule in our elections?
ANSWER.--Numerous inquiries have come to us indicating that some of the brethren have difficulty in applying the [Q248] suggestions given in Vol. VI, on the subject of election of servants for the Classes--elders and deacons.
It was not our thought there to lay down an invariable rule on the subject. The Bible gives none, and no one else has a right to establish such a rule. Our suggestion was that wherever possible the election should be unanimous, and unless seventy-five per cent of the Class, or more, favored a brother's election, it would be rather unwise for him to accept the office--the service. We did not by this mean that a minority of twenty-five or thirty per cent should be encouraged to obstruct the Class and hinder an election.
Strictly speaking, a majority of one in a Class would decide any matter except as love might come in to urge a consideration of the sentiments of others. If, for instance, a Class numbered one hundred, fifty-one of these would have a right to decide respecting who should be the servants of the Church, and the other forty-nine should very quietly acquiesce, recognizing the fact that they constitute only a minority, and should loyally strive to support the will of the majority.
Only the spirit of love and the best interests of all in the Class suggests more than fifty-one per cent. Love should strive for a unanimous vote. But how might this he obtained we will offer a suggestion.
Suppose that in a Class of one hundred six Elders were considered necessary for the service. A, B, C, D, E, F would represent available candidates of more or less ability. A might have a hundred votes; B, ninety; C, eighty; D, seventy; E, sixty; F, fifty. Under a strict voting on the lines of preference only two would be selected on a ninety per cent basis; but our thought would be that the entire six might be unanimously elected, if they were on the average as good material as the Class possessed, and if nothing were known derogatory to their moral characters.
It is a mistake to think that the standards established by St. Paul are to be taken literally, for no one would be found fully up to all the requirements. The Apostle has stated what the ideal Elder would be. Each voter should have this ideal before his mind in thinking of the will of the Lord; but the Class is not to be left without an Elder unless there are serious blemishes.
Our Lord similarly set a perfect standard before us when He said, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:48.) Who is perfect in the sense that God is perfect? "There is none righteous; no, not one." (Rom. 3:10.) The Master evidently meant that we should not measure ourselves by a low standard, but by the perfect standard, that thus we would be assisting ourselves up to the grandest ideals in respect to our own lives and characters and in respect to those chosen to be Elders and ensamples to the Flock.
QUESTION (1913)--1--When a consecrated brother of the church is absent on account of sickness from meeting when an elder is to be elected, can he write them his choice of an elder, or vote by proxy?
ANSWER.--There is nothing in the Bible says he can, and there is nothing in the Bible that says he cannot. What [Q249] are you going to do? Leave it to the class. Let the class decide.
ELECTION--Percentage to Elect.
QUESTION (1913)--1--In a church election are we to understand that such rules as the class may adopt governing the percentage of vote required to elect shall apply to the vote on the candidate for deacon as well?
ANSWER.--Surely. The arrangement of the Bible in respect to the government of affairs of the church throws all the responsibility upon the congregation. I do not mean the congregation in a general sense, but the church, the gathering which is the Body of Christ; namely, the consecrated ones. The Lord has not given definite rules to govern every feature, so that leaves the responsibility to the whole church to seek to build up in the most holy faith, using the Word of the Lord, and the example and illustrations of the Scripture. If the Lord has left the matter so simply and plainly in the hands of his people, it would be entirely wrong for you or I to attempt to divert it into the hands of some individual or clergy class. There is no authority for that in the Bible. It is very natural that people might fail just the way governments fail. For instance, certain governments feel they can govern certain islands better than the people there can govern themselves. So it is very likely that if the people would submit to it, a certain class called clergy would arrogate to themselves power, lay down laws and rule. But this is simply because the congregation does not know that the Lord has put the power in its hands, and never authorized any clergy class at any time. The Lord himself was to be the Master--all ye are brethren. There should be no distinction amongst the brethren, except that distinction be recognized by the class as a company of the Lord's people, and if they shall choose certain persons for elders, the responsibility is with the class. The individuals comprising the class are, therefore, to use all the more judgment and discretion, and to remember that they are voting and acting for the Lord in the matter. In the 6th Volume of Scripture Studies we have attempted to point out what the Scriptures lay down respecting the proper mode of order in the church--not by way of law, but by way of suggestion, because the decision of the class respecting its own leadership, etc., is the final decision in the matter. We have suggested certain things about percentages; not that anything in the Scriptures say anything about percentages, but in an ordinary meeting of worldly people they might have, for instance, a vote taken on a question and a majority of one would decide; and suppose the congregation numbered 100, and 51 would decide, and the other 49 would be left practically without representation; our thought is, that is not the spirit of the Lord. The spirit of the Lord would be that the whole church should feel a oneness of interest. But suppose that the 51 who would constitute the majority would say, "Well, this is our wish, we would like to see Brother So-and-so an elder, we think he is best qualified, but here are 49 of our brethren that we will pay no attention to their wishes whatever." That would not be the spirit of love. We suggest, therefore, there should be an endeavor made not only to suit the 51, but also the 49 who are in the minority; not merely each one doing as he [Q250] wishes, but trying to be considerate of one another, esteeming one another, having an interest in one another. Suppose in a congregation of 100 it is decided a certain number might he found eligible to the position of deacons. As one of the congregation I might have very positive ideas that Brothers A, B and C were much better qualified than Brothers D, E and F, and I would have a right to vote for those three; and then if some one else thought well of D, E and F, I would say to myself, Well, this other brother would like these others. Do I really know anything against them? And if I knew nothing against them, then because so many of the other brethren like them is the best kind of a reason I would like to see them have them. If I were going to be an elder I would very much rather be one that would represent the whole congregation than one who had been elected by a mere majority. I would like to have the whole congregation pleased, satisfied, contented in their minds. I would be willing to put myself in their places. The Golden Rule requires that I do to the minority as I would wish the minority to do to me. If I were in the minority and they were in the majority, how would I like them to consider me? I would like to have some show, too. Then we ought to be equally as generous as the others. This would not mean we would be lax or careless, respecting any really important matter. If it was a bad man, or unconsecrated man, or a man who was in some way totally unfit for eldership, then I would withstand him face to face, and would say right out, I cannot vote for Brother So-and-so for certain reasons. Now I would try my very best to avoid giving reasons, but if it became necessary to give the reasons I would do so in as kindly a way as I could, and I would try previously to have the confidence of all my brothers and sisters to such a degree that they would know I would not say a word unkindly, or speak a word of evil about any brother; that it would be an absolute necessity to even take a position of opposing a brother--a duty toward God and toward the church. When we get that confidence in each other we will have all the more power and weight in whatever we would say.
QUESTION (1913)--1--In appointing an elder to lead a certain class study, is it proper after the nomination of one to move that the nominations be closed without giving time for further nominations? This, of course, applying to a class where three or more brethren are serving as elders?
ANSWER.--There are what are termed parliamentary rules. That is to say, rules such as apply to the action of a body like the House of Parliament; and these rules are used in connection with Congress and also little meetings and large meetings. They are very good rules, not to be objected to in a general way. They are generally very wise and considerate rules for fairness in a general way. At the same time the Lord's people, as they are to go beyond mere justice and administer according to love, and to know that love is the fulfilling of the law, and more than merely the right and justice of the matter, in this matter of election and rules for meetings should not hold each other too strictly to merely the letter of the law which might apply in a public assembly of another kind. Their sympathetic bond [Q251] of love should be such that they would like to please all. Suppose this were a meeting and we were going to elect some elders here. Suppose I knew some here had a great deal of esteem for Brother A, and some for Brother B, and some for Brother C, and some for Brother D, and for my own preference I would say, Now out of all these I believe I prefer Brothers A and C; I do not think so much of Brothers B and D. I might say, I will nominate Brothers A and C, and move the nominations close. So some of those who are more timid would not have a chance to vote. Would that be loving? No. Love is our rule, and love gets in ahead of all the parliamentary rules in the world. Love says, I want that brother over there, and that sister over there, and all the brothers and sisters, to have a good and fair show and to have their voice in this matter. I do not want to take from them rights that belong to them under the Lord's arrangement. I might be of sharper practice, more experience, and twist them all up, but that would not he a proper elder brother's place on my part, to get the younger brethren all mixed up so their will would not be done, and they would vote for something and they didn't know they were doing it that way, and then be dissatisfied afterwards and say, If I had understood that matter right I would have done differently. That is not a satisfactory meeting at all. The kind of meeting for election of elders of a class would be a meeting in which everything would be done so openly and fairly that everybody's rights would be considered and everybody would feel happy and contented with the results. Well, we all had our chance, and if the thing was not done as I thought was the preferable way, it was done in a good way anyhow, because everybody had a fair part--not an effort to tear each other to pieces. I do not think that is what we should do. If you do not know him, and nobody vouches for him that you do know, you had better not vote at all. If there is somebody present that you have great confidence in and he vouches for this brother, and says, I nominate that brother, then you should say, The fact that Brother Russell nominated Brother "W" means that he knows him or he would not have nominated him. I do not know Brother "W," but the fact that Brother Russell nominated him and Brother Hirsh seconded it, and I know them, therefore I know that Brother "W" is all right. We have a right, you see, to lean to a certain extent upon our knowledge that is indirect. We might not be well acquainted with Brother "NW" and know all about his affairs well enough to vote for him unless there is something to indicate for us. But if someone would vouch for him, it would be the same as in a bank. If you go in a bank and your name is Smith, they would say, "We do not know you, Mr. Smith, at this bank; and we are not to pay any checks unless we know the parties. Do you know Mr. Hirsh?"
The same way in a class. Somebody vouches for Brother [Q252] Smith, and then you say, I know persons who will vouch for him. That means you ought never to nominate a person you do not know; never nominate merely because somebody says Smith. Do not be silly and say Smith or Brown just because somebody else says so. Know what you are doing or do not do it.
Another thing: When we have such an election of elders, suppose I say, "I like Brother A and Brother C and to my mind these two brethren are very much superior to the other brethren, and I would really think the class would be better served if we only had Brothers A and C, and if we do not have Brothers B and D at all." I might try to force that, I might take advantage and wheedle them out of their vote. But that would not be right. On the contrary I should say, "Now I know quite a good many like Brother B very well, and some others like Brother D very well, I do not think either of these brethren have as good qualifications as Brothers A and C, but some others do like them and claim they get profit from them, and I do not know anything against their characters, and since others get a blessing from their service, I am glad they should serve." I would be pleased to nominate any and all of them, knowing them to be men of good, reputable character. It would not prove I thought them better ones, but I would rather nominate the ones I preferred, and if the others were nominated and there is any lack of someone to second the nomination I would say, "I will second Brothers B and D also." Why? They are not your preference. No, but I know they are the preference of some of the other brethren, and I want all the class to be served. I would not want them merely to have the ones I thought better, but some of the ones they thought better. I ought to have love enough for all the brethren that I would want them all to be pleased, and not merely to please myself. That is the spirit that ought to be in every church and in every election, and I think there would be less confusion.
Suppose there are some others who would like to have someone else. Suppose some were nominated that I thought quite unsuitable; I would feel afraid some might vote for them. I would say, "Now, dear friends there is Brother 'W' that is nominated. I do not wish to have a word to say against him, or pose as an enemy of his, but in my judgment I thought it better we should not have him as one of the elders. Therefore I will state while the motion is under discussion that I am not going to vote for him. Now, Brother W', I am not opposing you in any way except as I ought to oppose you when I think you would be better not serving as an elder." I would be perfectly frank with him and would not say a word against him, and say, "I oppose him because he owes several bills downtown, and they know him all over town as a man that runs bills, and he is a disgrace to our class." I do not need to talk about Brother "W" at all. I would just say, "I cannot vote for Brother W' as an elder, and I would like to not see him an elder; I believe the Lord's cause would be better served otherwise." We do not need to tear one another to pieces. It might or might not be true about Brother "W" owing bills all over town. Perhaps if we would ask him, he might be able to give some good excuse.